All posts by lipsticklogic

Betty Kuffel, MD FACP An honors graduate of the University of Washington School of Medicine, Internal Medicine physician and former nurse practitioner, Dr. Kuffel has broad healthcare experience. After years of directing and working in emergency departments, and directing hospitalist inpatient care, recently Dr. Kuffel retired to pursue many interests including writing this blog for women. Because of a shared desire to help women of all ages achieve healthy fulfilled lives, she joined with her sister Bev Erickson and founded Lipstick Logic ™ to bring health and lifestyle education to women. Their contributions to educating women include hosting and speaking at women’s conferences, writing a health blog on LipstickLogic.com and writing a monthly health column for Montana Woman Magazine. Dr Kuffel has been recognized for her commitment to helping others. The Lipstick Logic concept evolved over years of caring for women in crisis. Dr. Kuffel believes education is the key to living healthier and making informed choices. Heart disease is the focus their collaborative book, Your Heart: Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. Coronary artery disease is the number one cause of death and it is preventable. See: YourHeartBook.com

Baby Blues

Emotions run high following any birth. Especially with a first baby, in addition to joy, a new mother may feel anxious and fearful due to a lack of experience in caring for her newborn. No mother expects to be sad following the birth of a child, but about fifty percent of new mothers experience Baby Blues.

Worry, unexplained bouts of crying, a slow physical recovery and lack of sleep impact postpartum emotional states. Usually the rollercoaster emotions resolve within two to three weeks, but some women are left with prolonged unexplained sadness. Pregnant women often joyfully await the birth and are caught off guard by serious emotional changes ranging from the blues to prolonged depression and even psychosis.

Postpartum Depression

Emotional swings extending beyond a few weeks mean Postpartum Depression and require medical attention. This prolonged depression following delivery is associated with physiological, social and psychological changes. Symptoms may begin immediately following the birth and increase if untreated. About 1 in 10 new mothers experience postpartum depression. Once experienced, the percentage rises with each baby thereafter.

Intense mood changes and inability to bond with the baby can swing to fears she might harm herself or the newborn. Additional symptoms include loss of appetite, lost interest in being around others, hopelessness and inadequacy compounded with panic attacks and inability to make decisions. Seeking professional help is essential if these symptoms last longer than a month.

Antidepressants and counseling are very effective.

Postpartum Psychosis

A third more serious but less common condition affecting 1 in 1000 women is Postpartum Psychosis. Symptoms beginning within a week can include rapid speech, insomnia, manic behaviors, obsessive thoughts, agitation, paranoia, and hallucinations.  This condition requires immediate medical intervention for dangerous life-threatening behaviors including attempts to inflict self-harm or harm to the baby.

Call for Help

A phone call and follow-up care from your medical provider is important when depression persists, or in the case of psychosis, immediate care is needed. Prolonged depression of any nature is serious. If untreated, it can affect the entire family. Because of added financial and parenting responsibilities associated with a new baby, fathers can experience depression following a birth, too. Untreated depression in either parent impacts other children in the family.

More information is available on the Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic websites.

 

Betty and Bev

free photo source

A Silent Change in Motherhood

Motherhood is a variable experience. Some women find the nine-month incubation of a pregnancy enjoyable. But when hormones surge and nausea sets in, exhaustion makes Free Pixabay Stocksnap pg womanthe date of delivery seem faraway.

Dramatic physical changes occur. Blood volume doubles. The placenta nourishes the fetus and provides a natural protective barrier.

As the fetus grows, maternal weight increases and endurance wanes. Nausea from day-one often ends at three months but can continue until the birth. The mother wonders when her life will return to normal and if her clothes will ever fit again.

Miscarriages are common, bringing physical and emotional adjustment, but even following an uncomplicated delivery, life doesn’t suddenly normalize. A usually joyous time getting to know the newborn is interrupted by sleepless nights and sometimes complicated by feelings of inadequacy and depression.

A new mother must juggle schedules and if breast feeding, may pump breast milk for months so she can return to work. To communicate with her baby, she may learn and teach the infant sign-language or find herself babbling baby-talk. After an unpredictable adjustment period, a new norm is reached.

Getting back into shape, eating right, sleeping and taking care of mothering tasks prevail, but during the pregnancy, silent changes evolved in the maternal body that may impact her health for life. Fetal and maternal blood circulation are separate except for a nutritional interface. No maternal-fetal blood is exchanged but fetal deoxygenated blood passes through umbilical cord arteries to the placenta. There maternal nutrients and oxygen are exchanged through the mesh of an arterio-capillary-venous system, much like oxygen/carbon dioxide transfer occurs in adult lungs.

Despite clear separation of fetal and maternal circulation, an article published by researchers at the University of Arizona reported some fetal blood cells migrate through the placenta and are carried in the mothers’ blood. The fetal cells lodge in various maternal locations where they exist for years. Foreign cells in maternal tissue turn mothers into chimeras. The term alludes to Greek mythology and creatures built from different animal parts, in this case: fetal microchimerism. Fetal cells are detectable in 90% of healthy women after a pregnancy.

Researchers found fetal cells migrated to damaged tissue following a C-section delivery where they were actively involved in healing. In other cases, fetal cells were swept through the bloodstream into maternal areas including the lungs, where they appeared to be inactive bystanders. Some of the escaped fetal cells were pluripotent, like stem cells, able to change into different cells and impact body processes in both positive and possibly negative ways.

Health issues including autoimmune diseases might be triggered by the foreign fetal cells. In these common diseases, the body’s immune system attacks normal cells. Of note, women are more likely to develop autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, MS and lupus than men.

Male fetal cells are found in women who have not given birth to a male child. How could that happen? This may occur when a male embryo fails to develop properly and aborts or is absorbed by maternal processes but some of the fetal cells live on.

Another field of research has shown a reverse transfer of cells, where maternal cells migrate to the fetus. This may explain autoimmune diseases in offspring, including inflammatory bowel disease and biliary cirrhosis.

Although effects of fetal microchimerism have been studied over decades, their impact remains incompletely understood and vigorously debated within the biological research community.

Betty Kuffel, MD

Weight Control in the New Year

Simple Solutions for a Healthy 2020

The new year dawns.

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If you are happy with your health, keep up the good work. It takes effort to remain healthy.

If you always eat right, didn’t overeat over the holidays and aren’t overweight, you are either lucky or very disciplined.

If neither statement above applies to you and you want to drop a few pounds and bump up your energy level, this short blog is for you. We’d like to challenge you to try a simple solution to shed adipose (fat) and become healthier.

General guidelines for heart health and weight reduction are everywhere and yet we’ve all seen grocery carts filled with cookies, chips, crackers, sweetened & sugar-free beverages, boxes of quick-fix mac ‘n cheese items and other unhealthy processed foods. How often do you see carts filled with fresh fruits, salad greens, broccoli, carrots and colorful peppers? Probably not often enough.

Before you head to the grocery store, make a list of healthy foods to prepare at home and stay out of the center isles of the store. Buy fresh whenever possible and choose lean protein sources like chicken or fish.

Not only what you eat, but the way you eat can help you drop unwanted pounds and regain your health. To achieve a better body weight and a healthier heart, try this simple solution: 

Combine intermittent fasting

with a plant-based or Mediterranean diet

Limiting food intake is beneficial. Numerous scientific studies show dietary restriction can lead to a longer life. Intermittent fasting is an easy effective approach to weight control and diabetes prevention. If you already have Type 2 diabetes, intermittent fasting is an excellent way to reduce glucose levels and bring your hemoglobin A1c into normal range. Intermittent fasting is not new. Studies over the years of fasting have shown similar positive effects, so in 2020, why not give Intermittent Fasting a try.

There are numerous ways to intermittently fast. One easy way is to restrict the hours when you eat. For example, pick an eight-hour period during the day when to eat and don’t snack beyond that time period.

One study showed an eight-hour eating time frame proved more beneficial than a twelve-hour schedule. Neither group in the study lost weight, but the eight-hour group lowered their blood pressure, improved their insulin sensitivity and experienced a significant decrease in appetite. By simply extending your overnight fasting period, metabolism improves, and appetite is reduced. Choose a time period to match your activity schedule, like 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Don’t eat before or after your chosen eight hours.

To lose weight, restrict your calorie intake for two days of the week, drink more water and eat only a plant based or Mediterranean diet the remaining days. It is best to split the days (ex. Monday and Thursday) to avoid triggering a starvation response that slows calorie burn.

To reduce calories simply eat small meals for two days of each week. Over the other five days only eat vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes (beans, chickpeas lentils), potatoes, whole grains, breads, herbs, spices, fish, seafood, poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt. Use only extra virgin olive oil when cooking and rarely, if ever, eat red meat.

This combination is a proven pathway to health and an easy way to drop pounds. In 2013, we published Your Heart a medical guide on heart health. In Part Two of Your Heart, healthy options of eating a plant-based or Mediterranean diet were discussed in detail, along with an intermittent fasting plan.

 Your Heart: Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease in Women, Men & Children by Betty Kuffel MD, is available on Amazon as an E-book or paperback.

Your Heart Book Cover- Final FINALAmazon author

In December 2019, Mark Mattson, PhD, Johns Hopkins professor of neuroscience, published a review article in the New England Journal of Medicine, concluding intermittent fasting is not only healthy, but prolongs life.

To become healthier and more disciplined, think about:

  • When to Eat: Limit all eating to an eight-hour period. No snacking beyond the eight hours.
  • What to Eat:

 Fresh fruits and vegetables and legumes:  apples, carrots, lettuce, kale, celery, cauliflower and broccoli, colorful peppers, asparagus – check out the produce isle, the options are numerous.  Also include beans, chickpeas, and lentils.

Fish and chicken (boil/bake/broil). Avoid all fried and processed foods for a healthier heart and weight.

Unprocessed grains: oatmeal, steel cut oats, brown rice, wild rice, barley, whole grain breads. Add a few almonds, walnuts and olives to your diet. Avoid sugar-rich granola, sugary cereals and white breads.

 Low calorie examples: Egg whites are a great protein choice at only 10 calories per one egg white.  A three egg-white omelet with mushrooms, veggies and a slice of wholegrain bread is a filling meal. Replace one meal with a low calorie protein drink. For a meal, eat a heaping plate of roast or steamed vegetables.

Exercise a minimum of 30 minutes three times a week. 

Sometimes, the easiest method works best.

  • Eat wisely during only an eight-hour period
  • Eat fresh foods you prepare at home
  • Drink more water and limit alcohol
  • Weigh yourself every day
  • Exercise, preferably  daily

Do the above for one month and send us your success stories.

Note: Calorie intake = fuel   Excess fuel = fat.  If you eat less than your baseline needs and exercise, you will lose weight. Be patient. Set a goal. One pound down is a 3500 calorie deficit. If you reduce your calorie intake by 500 to 1,000 calories a day from your typical diet, you’ll lose weight each week. To calculate baseline calories needed to maintain your ideal weight, use this estimate: https://www.active.com/fitness/calculators/calories

Betty and Bev

 

 

 

Festival of Lights on Black Friday

Brighten Your Mood with Lights

 

If this time of year tends to dampen your spirits and energy, it could be a result of shorter days and longer nights. A condition known medically at SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder, also called the “Winter Blues” – is a documented mood disorder where people who have normal mental health throughout most of the year, become depressive in winter months.

Although experts were initially skeptical, this condition is now recognized as a common disorder, prevalent across the U.S.  SAD was formally described and named in 1984 by Dr. Norman E. Rosenthal, a researcher, professor, psychiatrist and author of the book “Winter Blues.”

The National Library of Medicine notes “some people experience a serious mood change when the seasons change. They may sleep too much, have little energy, and may also feel depressed. Though symptoms can be severe, they usually clear up.”

If you feel a dampened-down mood change coming on, considering adding more lights inside and outside your home. Energy efficient bulbs now offer instant-on bright white and daylight options that will reduce your electricity bill if used to replace older filament bulbs.

Our small town has a delightful tradition. On the Eve of “Black Friday” – a parade of lighted horses and over 20 floats make their way through main-street. Family and friends gather on the sidewalks wrapped in winter coats and warm blankets (if weather demands), to watch the parade and join in the sounds and songs of merriment that fill the air.

The last float, a shiny fire truck covered in twinkle lights, ushers in Santa. With a wave of his hand and his jolly “Ho-Ho-Ho” the truck siren brings in the season and the entire downtown and waterfront area come alive with sparkling lights.

It doesn’t have to end there. Stores are filled with packages of inexpensive lights designed to adorn your home and landscape. Lighting contests are held throughout our area bringing people of all ages out to tour the spectacular scenes.

Sparkling starlight elicits a feeling of joy whether it is in summer or winter. With the arrival of longer winter nights, even a few sparkling lights within our homes can add a feeling of joy.

“Deck the Halls” both inside and outside to increase your enjoyment and spread holiday cheer throughout the neighborhood.

Wishing you a cheery and bright Holiday Season.

Bev Erickson

In Northern MN

Thanks Mom

Our mother, Lila Edith Thias was born November 25, 1916. She married our dad on her Pic #2 - Gordon & Lila Taken in 1935birthday in a small rural church a snowy Thanksgiving Day on November 25, 1937.

We are thankful for having had a strong mother who loved us and taught us to love and care for others.

Mom passed away in 2006, with her family by her side.

It’s hard to believe how quickly time has passed since then and even harder to write about Mom using the past tense, because she was always so full of life and energy. She exuded an endless pursuit of learning and teaching throughout her 89 years. In fact, the month before she died, she was teaching cribbage to local high school students, a game she had enjoyed playing over a lifetime.

Of German and Irish descent, Mom was a daughter, a sister, a wife, widowed twice, a mother of four daughters, grandmother of twelve, great grandmother of 28, an aunt, an excellent cook, baker, seamstress and dog lover. She was creative, skilled, resilient, ambitious, a good friend to many, a devout Lutheran and above all else, loved her family dearly.

Lila -80th birthday - LL BlogThe photo of her is one we cherish. It was Mom’s 80th birthday. Attendees invited to Mom’s surprise party were asked to bring one flower. Nearly 100 family members and friends gathered from near and far. The bouquet in the photo includes some of the flowers she received that day. Being among so many who loved and honored her made for a magnificent celebration.

After our dad died, Mom held increasingly challenging jobs until retirement. She loved life, baseball, gardening and was an avid reader. On the Heartland trail near her home, she walked a couple miles a day well into her 80s. In inclement weather, she picked up a friend and drove to the high school to walk the halls prior to the start of classes. Yoga later replaced walking and helped her stay limber as osteoporosis crept in.

Mom broke her hip March 15, 2006, requiring surgery. Her recovery did not go well. She required oxygen related to a worsening lung condition and after several failed physical therapy sessions to help her walk, she asked to have all treatment and medications stopped.

Rather than move her to a care facility, we chose to move Mom to her cabin where we could all gather and care for her. With hospice support, we, and our husbands, provided her care.

Joy and profound sadness filled our hearts during those last two weeks as she said her goodbyes to friends, family members and family dogs. Her strength helped us through those last days.

As a child, Mom’s red curly hair and freckles were an indication of her Irish ancestry. Her strong will, work ethic, and attention to cleanliness and order were expressions of her German heritage. But, her love of family was the truest expression of who she was. As her daughters, we were unconditionally loved and were treated to the some of the finest cooking ever, especially on Thanksgiving Day with turkey, and her homemade lefse and apple pie.

Thanks for stopping by and have a Happy Thanksgiving.

Bev, Betty, Barb and Brenda

 

Women’s Rights

Your Voice, Your Choice

 

The Lipstick Logic Motto

Symbolic of the individuality of each woman’s life, this lip print represents each woman’s unique story. By changing lip colors, a woman can change her appearance.

By making new choices she can change her life.

It’s a man’s world. Despite great accomplishments, women are repressed today just as they have been for centuries. We have a long way to go to abolish patriarchy and achieve equality. The time to start is now. Be persistent. Make change happen.

Women are products of their environments. Some are fortunate enough to have been born into a financially stable, nurturing, stimulating family. Others, must rise from poverty or abuse, from the depths of disadvantage and pain.

Applying what we learn from mentors and lessons from powerful women can enrich our own lives. Through their strength, determination and actions, some women have changed the world, but each woman can take action to change her own life.

We follow in the footsteps of suffragettes who fought hard for a woman’s right to vote, yet many women do not vote. Women have traveled to space, yet some women have never learned to drive a car. Some have become bank presidents, while others have never written a check.

Women have excelled in many fields without being acknowledged for their competence and brains. Nursing is one example of an underpaid, female-dominated field, where it took more men entering the profession for wages and status to improve. A stark reminder from the past is when women served in the military during WWII. Often, they did not receive military benefits, burial benefits or medals, so when women in the war died, their fellow females pooled money to send the body home.

More than 250,000 women served in the armed forces during WWII. They worked in many capacities. Some were captives. Some died. Thousands were pilots, yet these brave women were not given equal compensation. Finally, in 1979, these women were rightfully granted veteran benefits. I recently met a young female helicopter pilot who flew combat missions in Afghanistan. Women in the military today have earned respect in broad leadership, combat and technical roles.

A few years ago, I met a motorcycle enthusiast riding cross-country alone at the age of eighty. She enjoyed traveling alone. Self-dependence remained at her core, just as it was during WWII when, as a military pilot, she flew transcontinental aircraft deliveries with minimal navigation instruments, and when aviation weather-forecasting was nearly nonexistent.

Marge Piercy, an American author, feminist and social activist, once said, “A strong woman is a woman determined to do something others are determined not be done.”

Women are multitaskers. Managing businesses and households, bearing and caring for children, assisting aging parents, supporting mates in their work, and participating in community and school projects, all this is often accomplished while working a full-time job.

Women are strong. They are resilient, developing skills through necessity and employing them throughout life. Women must remain goal-oriented and avoid people who impede their progress.

Most working women have experienced the abuse of power. Many women develop skills in the business realm, but are not treated as equals. Sometimes management level women participate in deriding other women like entitled men who abuse and use their power against subordinates.

Although women are socially defined as unequal, we are developing voices and taking action to stand strong against repression. With change, conflict is inevitable. When conflict is suppressed or hidden, issues are not addressed. View conflict as an avenue of growth. Learn from adversity.

The ability to cope in a crisis is strengthened by experience. Life lessons from strong women show this to be true. Adversity teaches wisdom, wisdom that can be shared with others.

Leave your negative past behind. Become the person you want to be. Face life with strength and a positive attitude. There is hope, but the fight for equality goes on.

 

Report abuse

Run for Office

Vote for rights

Defend yourself

Find your passion

Become self-reliant

Refuse to be put down

Do not become a victim

Take charge of your future

Learn skills for independence

Develop a roadmap for your future

 

Betty Kuffel, MD

Lipsticklogic.com

Brighten the Dark Side

Looking outOctober’s crisp autumn air and brilliant forest colors quicken our thoughts and actions to prepare, as nature does, for the shortened hours of sunlight – the “dark side of the year.”20181022_063540 As a grandmother, I’ve experienced this transition many times. Preparation comes in many forms and has evolved as did ancient customs.

Puking PumpkinEyeball eggs

The ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (Gaelic pronunciation – sow in) was considered the most important of their quarterly fire festivals. Harvest was complete and time threatened the onset of winter, midway between the fall equinox and winter solstice. Halloween skull and snake - CopyThey believed it a time when barriers were breachable between the physical world and denizens of the underworld. Celtic Druid priests set circular bonfires (to represent the sun) while the Celts wore costumes to scare off ghosts.

By the eighth century when Pope Gregory III established a day to honor all saints on November 1st, Samhain customs of the Celts melded into the activities of All Saints Day. October 31st, All Hallows’ Eve evolved into Halloween. Jack-o-lantern carving, costumes, trick or treating, festive gatherings, apple bobbing and yarn tricks to foretell the future were a few of the common activities practiced.

My personal evolution with Halloween hovers on the bright side. The crisp air and autumn colors prompt me to prod my husband to bring me numerous containers jack-o-lanternmarked “Halloween” from storage. I decorate our home with the delightful contents. Each item evokes memories of years past, even to the scents and joys of childhood.

In my childhood, the major decision of the week before Halloween was what costume we would create. Father often was the creative costume designer. Mother would bake sugar cookies cut-outs of

jack-o-lanterns, jack - o- lantern.slugmoons, stars, and witch hats for the classrooms of each of my sisters and me. When the awaited day arrived, the afternoon of the school day commenced with students dressing in their costumes for the elementary school parade. We marched throughout the halls and classrooms admiring the creativity of our efforts. We returned to our rooms for a party of treats and laughter. We knew this was not even the end of day’s fun.

After supper, we donned our costumes again to follow the town fire truck (with siren sounding and lights flashing) as we marched down Main Street. We were led to the high school gymnasium for a costume contest and movie, after which each child received a popcorn ball, fruit and candies in a small paper bag.

As we “aged out” of these activities our local theater offered the adventure of a midnight A skeleton in your closetmovie. We’d walk to the theater around 11:00 pm to begin our night of terror with the entertainment of Boris Karloff and Bela Jenna eyesLugosi. Some of the more deviant souls of the crowd would leave early to lunge at us from behind hedges as we passed on our walk home. This would send us on a dead run, breathless until we were behind our locked door. Now living in another small town, with our own children grown and off to greater endeavors, I delight in seeing the ghouls, goblins, angels, butterflies, mini SWAT team members, witches, minions and others that come to our home to trick-or-treat. We have approximately three hundred and fifty each year.

Jenna butterfly20161031_182318.croppedJenna Halloween doorway

 

Halloween is the greatest! Young and old alike can be whatever we want for the day (and eat a lot of sweet treats as well)! If you are passing by this Halloween, you will find my sister-in-law and me greeting our ghoulish visitors in our new inflatable TREX costumes. I know, two grandmas dressed as dinosaurs.

A final tip from the two grandmas. If you toilet paper the neighborhood, be certain you do your own house as well, or they’ll know it was you!

Brenda Erickson

Happy Halloween from 3 Witchy Sisters

3 sisters

Bev, Betty & Brenda

Pumpkin PatchSpider displayIMG_0095

Is Pumpkin a Food?

Fun Food for Cool Fall Days

The tantalizing aromas of cinnamon apples, hot apple cider and homemade pies are in the air. Our mother was a master apple pie baker. Family and friends raved about her delicious apple pies but bright-cake-cinnamon-sticks-248469also loved her pumpkin pie. As kids, we preferred Mom’s apple pie and gagged at the thought of eating pumpkin. However, one day, she surprised us with a chiffon pumpkin pie. One bite and we were smitten by its delicate flavor. She had changed our minds and broadened our dietary horizons. We learned pumpkin really was edible.

Pumpkins originated in North America but are now available world-wide. This nutritious low-calorie squash is high in antioxidants and vitamins. It is used to flavor coffee and ice cream. Pumpkin seeds are toasted, salted and sold as snacks. Other uses include oven-roasted chunks, deep fried spears, mashed as a ravioli filling, cubed in soups, pureed for pies and even made into candy. Pumpkin oil is considered a delicacy in Europe.

Veterinarians recommend canned pumpkin as a dietary supplement for dogs and cats. We have a recipe for dog snacks our pups love. Native American and Chinese medicine practitioners prescribe both the pulp and seeds for various ailments.

Pumpkins typically weigh in at about 6-10 pounds, but in giant pumpkin-growing contests, many weigh in at the 75-pound range. A giant U.S. winner this year in Connecticut weighed 2,294.5 pounds. While larger pumpkins are used for pies and fillings, many are carved for Halloween.IMG_9542

Halloween is our favorite holiday. We carve big pumpkins for fun but also buy a few small sugar pumpkins each year. We slice off the tops, scrape out the seeds and use them as soup bowls.

For an easy interesting meal to serve on a cool fall day, place the small (cleaned out) topless sugar pumpkins in a baking pan with a bit of water in the bottom. Bake at 350-degrees for 30 minutes. Serve wild rice soup or another favorite in your holiday edible bowls. Wild rice chowder is a favorite. We hope you will give it a try.

Sm Pumpkin.wildrice

Happy pumpkin eating from the Lipstick Logic Sisters.

Bev Erickson &  Betty Kuffel, MD

Wild Rice Ham Chowder Soup

1 ½ cups water

¾ cup uncooked wild rice (rinsed)

½ cup all-purpose flour

½ cup chopped onion

¼ cup butter

4 cups water

4 chicken flavored bouillon cubes of 4 teaspoons chicken flavor- bouillon

1 ½ cups peeled, cubed potatoes (2 medium potatoes)

½ cup chopped carrots

½ tsp thyme leaves

½ tsp nutmeg

¼ – ½ tsp pepper

1 bay leaf

17 oz can whole kernel corn/undrained

2 cups half & half

1 lb. (3 cups) cubed cooked ham

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

In medium saucepan combine wild rice and 1.5 cups water. Bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 40 minutes or until tender. Don’t overcook.

In large stovetop pan, sauté onion and garlic in butter until transparent. Stir in ½ cup flour. Cook one minute, stirring constantly. Gradually add 4 cups water and bouillon. Add potatoes, carrots, thyme, nutmeg, pepper and bay leaf. Bring to boil, then reduce heat. Cover and simmer 20 to 30 minutes or until slightly thickened. Add corn (undrained). Cover and simmer additional 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in half & half, ham and rice. Cook until heated through. Do not boil. Remove bay leaf. Ladle into bowls and garnish with fresh parsley sprig. Makes 8 (1.5 cup) servings.

A Father’s Day Tribute

This story was published in the Montana Woman Magazine in 2017. With Father’s Day just ahead, we want to share it again. We believe the world would be a better place, if every child had a father like ours.

 The First Man We Loved

He didn’t make headline news. He wasn’t wealthy. His hands were rough. He had an eighth grade education. Cigarettes and a pipe were his constant companions. In spite of working 12-hour days repairing steam locomotives, he carved out time to enjoy an occasional cigar and listen to a boxing match on the radio.  Although free time was rare, but he was a committed hunter and fisherman, not for sport, but to help feed his family.

Natural musical and art talent brought him joy. His skills included mandolin, violin, harmonica and piano. His oil landscapes won awards. Known as Englarged Image.bevan excellent wood craftsman, neighbors and family members commissioned him to build shelves, benches and other creations. He sold artistically carved decoys and unique ice-fishing spears.

For several years, he used his leadership ability to serve on the school board and church council. He read broadly and completed several correspondence courses including cartoon drawing and locomotive diesel engine maintenance. His achievements prepared him to work on diesel locomotives that replaced the old steamers. He was promoted to a Round House Foreman for the Great Northern Railroad.

Caring for the less fortunate came easy. When hungry hobos got off the freight trains, he told them his wife would fix them a sandwich and gave them directions to his home. He often cut the hair of men and boys who couldn’t afford a haircut and he taught a man with Down Syndrome to play the violin.

Along with his many talents and interests he had a passion to raise his four successful daughters. We happened to be the two in the middle. This man we loved and respected was our dad. If he ever wished for a son, Dad never mentioned it. Instead, he taught us independence and told us we could be and do anything we set our minds to. (Photo is Dad enjoying his first grandchild with Bev.)

Dad’s primitive cabin workshop served as a private trade school. It had no floor, only beach sand warmed by a little wood stove.  As his understudies, we learned the quality of various wood, the names of every tool and how to properly use them. When he finished detailing his carved fishing decoys, we poured hot liquid lead into the hollowed belly of the fish for balancing.

On cold winter days when the ice on the lake near our home was thick enough, we took turns accompanying Dad to his ice-house. In that tiny wood-framed tar paper structure, a wooden bench sat against one wall and a wood-burning stove he made from a small metal barrel sat in a corner next to the 2 x 3 foot fishing hole. On the coldest of Saturdays, warmth and the smell of wood smoke in that dark little house surrounded us with comfort and security. As small pre-teens, Dad would belt us in place on the bench to keep us from being swallowed up by the vast spearing hole in the floor.

Bobbing one of his red and white perfectly weighted decoys was unbelievably exciting. We sat in silent anticipation hoping to see the head of large northern pike appear in the water below. With a thrust of his spear, the water turned red, and we had fish for dinner.

Dad was kind, gentle and loving. Always there for us. He didn’t swear and rarely angered. As we matured, Dad held a powerful place in ours and our mother’s heart. He loved Mom and treated her with unconditional respect, often acknowledging her many creative talents.

As young girls, we were encouraged to study, work hard, set the bar high and do our best in all things. We were taught respect. We were taught to tell the truth, fulfill our commitments, and care about others.

Dad was our advocate and hero. It wasn’t until our late teens and early adulthood that we began to see a different truth about many men. We then fully realized our good fortune.

If all men could treat children and women like our dad treated us, wouldn’t this be a wonderful world?

Messaging begins in the home.

Lipstick Logic Sisters

Betty Kuffel MD and Bev Erickson

A Woman’s Right to Vote

 

Vote for Democracy

Author: Betty Kuffel

 Two years in a concentration camp made Anna a very strong woman who set a good example for all of us. Years ago, I asked if she could tell me about her experiences in the Theresienstadt Nazi prison camp to help other women learn how to be strong in the face of adversity.

 Anna gave me permission to share her story after her death. She was born May 17, 1923 in Hungary, the daughter of a diplomat. Her father’s travels required she attend a boarding school in Switzerland after her mother suffered paralyzing injuries in a horse-riding accident and died. Anna was eleven. She had one older brother. Anna died this year at the age of 94. She loved life, eating chocolates and drinking champagne with friends, family and rescue animals at her side.

 I wrote Anna’s story in her voice, as if she is talking to you. This genre is creative non-fiction. The story is true. Dialogue based on her words. Names were changed at her request.

 Life in a Box

On a blustery December night in 1943, German soldiers kicked in the door of our Vienna apartment. Yelling uniformed men dragged us to a waiting car. Exhaust choked my breath as I slid into the back seat with Patrice. He gripped my hand and whispered in German, “Anna, say nothing.”

An officer pushed in beside me. Patrice leaned forward to meet his eyes. He asked, “Why?”

The man spat, “You’re spies for the Americans, like her father.” As the car sped through town to the country, Patrice argued with the man to no avail. The car stopped. Armed men jerked the doors open at a train yard where cattle cars lined the tracks. Crowds of distraught people of all ages shivered in falling snow.

Officers crushed us into a rail car with standing room only. The door dragged shut, locking us in total darkness.

Weeks earlier, my father, a notable Hungarian diplomat, had disappeared with my brother. I feared for their safety. We weren’t Jewish and I naively believed the Nazis would never come for us. I felt secure with my studies in medicine, living with my charming French husband, Patrice, a busy physician. In wartime, we found strength in love, snuggled in our apartment preparing for Christmas. How could this be happening?

Strangers’ bodies pressed against me. When the car jerked into motion, a trembling child’s hand gripped my leg for balance. Patrice wrapped his arms around me. We rocked with the motion of the train. He said, “Be strong, my love. Our medical skills may help us survive.”

The train rattled slowly along the tracks for days. Odors of cow manure and human excrement spilling from overflowed cans filled the car. Nausea swept over me in waves. Exhausted prisoners leaned against each other, taking turns to rest along rough rocking walls. Only the warmth of other bodies heated us. Sometimes when the train stopped, farmers brought us water and bread we passed hand to hand, sharing.

A young woman near me slid to the floor, unable to rise. She begged me to keep her infant safe while she slept. I consoled the crying baby, who finally quieted, after I gave her a piece of cloth dipped in water to suck. Patrice watched. “You’ll be a wonderful mother.”

The train lurched to a stop. The door opened wide. Cold fresh air diluted the stench around us. Shouting German officers announced our destination would be Terezin, Czechoslovakia – Theresienstadt, a Nazi concentration camp.

Fear stopped my breath. I wanted to be back in Vienna. Safe. Warm. Loved. I clung to Patrice until two uniformed men pawed through frightened prisoners, dragging men out the door. They jerked Patrice from my arms and shoved him out to the ground.

I wanted to join him. Patrice shook his head. I wedged my body against the door frame, staring as officers lined him up with the other prisoners facing away from the car. Shots rang out. Patrice crumpled to the ground, unmoving. Bodies fell beside him staining the snow red.

Sobs wracked my thin body as I pushed to the back of the car. Around me, women shrieked. I hid in silence hoping the soldiers wouldn’t come for me. Finally, the door closed, and the railcar moved forward. I cried for Patrice for days and distracted myself from numbing grief by trying to calm others. Locked in the rocking cattle car, I wondered what lay ahead as I helped crying children, comforted women and hugged old people.

At Bohusovice station, the train stopped and our march to Theresienstadt began. A line of starving humanity straggled along the two-kilometer dirt road to the prison compound. At the entrance, they separated women, children and boys under twelve, from the men. Soldiers searched and registered us, noting education, skills and training. I recalled Patrice’s words and stressed my medical training. I was assigned to an overwhelmed hospital block. Even the hospital’s poor conditions came to be a reprieve in a camp crawling with rats, mice and lice.

Treatment and food depended on the commandant, a position that changed every six months.

We starved. Rapes and beatings occurred daily. I wasn’t spared. Guards targeted me, a young attractive woman. The Germans couldn’t impregnate me. I was already pregnant with Patrice’s child. When we were arrested, I’d missed one menstrual period. The child within gave me strength to endure the violence.

At five-feet tall, dressed in a sack dress and underweight, I was nearly six months along when I confided in a coworker. She later helped me through childbirth in a small clinic room. Guards allowed me to keep the darling blond-haired boy, believing he was a German-rape child. They let me bring him with me to work. The baby saved my life.

Two years in the Nazi concentration camp burned horrific images in my memory. Propaganda reports said Theresienstadt was a model camp even allowing the International Red Cross to visit. Sometimes an orchestra played for hours, but the camp was a front for the extermination of Jews. At least 150,000 men, women and children passed through the gates en route to gas chambers. Nearly 100,000 of us died of disease and starvation.

We women found refuge lying on triple-tiered metal bunks, whispering in darkness. We supported each other and even celebrated Christmas. There was little to share but friendship, yet we had a gift exchange. We secretly wrapped tiny presents: little bits of soap, a button, a piece of candy, and quietly sang Christmas carols. It was beautiful.

On May 10, 1945, eight days after Berlin fell to the Allies, Russian forces liberated Theresienstadt. I picked up my little boy and rushed out the gate, heading to Vienna by rail freight car. Along the way, he became very ill. Locals helped us.

I was desperate to reach the American Zone and make it to the home of a boarding school friend in Heidelberg, Germany. We crossed the Danube to Linz, Austria, on an inner-tube, then traveled by bus to Germany. We finally arrived safely at my friend’s home. Two days later my beautiful little boy suddenly worsened and died in my arms.

Grief paralyzed me. My entire family, gone. My life was over. My one friend in the world saved me. She helped me climb out of depression and compartmentalize my devastation. I placed my past in a mental box and closed the lid. It was a lid I couldn’t open for more than sixty years.

In Heidelberg, I buried myself in studying medicine, later switching to laboratory science. In five years, I saved enough money to immigrate to Canada. Crossing the Atlantic on a Cunard Steamship Line cruise ship brought me to a safer place. I wanted to breathe free in a democracy and never again endure a dictator. I dreamed of being an American citizen with the right to vote.

With the help of my sponsor and new friends in Toronto, I earned a Master of Science in Microbiology and later moved to Chicago where I worked at a large hospital. Life was good. On a weekend outing to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, I fell for a charming man with twinkling blue eyes. We married and lived an idyllic life of sailing and skiing, raising two sons and a daughter.

After earning citizenship, I voted in every election. My first life remained locked in a box of memories, but I remained acutely aware of catastrophes that can happen when citizens are deprived of the right to vote.  I considered it my duty as an American to participate in every election.

Following my daughter’s death from breast cancer and my survival after ovarian cancer, I finally lifted a corner of the lid of the old box that held the secrets of my hidden past. I feared terrible memories might fly out and destroy my life again.

I first talked about Christmas in Theresienstadt with my doctor, a close friend. Later, I told her of Patrice and our son. I shed no tears. It was like a story of someone else’s life. My doctor coaxed out a few more memories, but many experiences had to be left untold.

When I was ninety, dark thoughts screamed back when a white supremacist with threats of marching with guns, came to my small town. Not in America! My anger boiled. The town mounted a rebellion against his actions and eased my anxiety.

In my second life, as a free American citizen with the precious right to vote, I lived every day ready to play, surrounded by family, friends and rescue animals. I even skydived at age eighty. Under the oppressive Nazi regime, I could never have dreamed of the freedom I savor every day. Eleanor Roosevelt’s saying is my life’s motto: Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That’s why it is called the present.

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50%Symbolic of the individuality of each woman’s life, this lip print represents each woman’s unique story. By changing lip colors, a woman can change her appearance. By making new choices, she can change her life.

Betty Kuffel, MD