Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Word for February

ABNEGATE v. Deny oneself. Not in itself a word of great usefulness. Included in this book because it is vital that the Superior Person not allow himself to be confused by the similarity between it and abrogate (repeal), derogate (detract), abdicate (renounce), and arrogate (claim). The use of these words is advisable only for pipe-smokers, whose mid-sentence inhalations may afford sufficient time for the mental gymnastics necessary to ensure that the proper term is selected.

Funny thing about living in England is that I seem to get more exposure to practices that I typically think of as related to the Catholic religion. This is in part because the Church of England is pretty much what we call the Episcopal Church in the US. When I lived in the US I thought of Episcopalians as just being Protestant Catholics, which I'm sure is wrong, but if you've ever been to a Catholic mass and to an Episcopal service, you'll know what I mean. My parents sent me off to church with everybody in the neighbourhood, probably so they'd have a quiet morning to recover from the night before.

Anyhow, turns out that Shrove Tuesday is called Pancake Day here. In preparation for Lent, one is supposed to use up all one's cake making supplies by making pancakes. Well, I didn't make pancakes yesterday, not having any maple syrup. I didn't hear about any Pancake races, either.

I worked with a Catholic friend in Oklahoma, Pam. I still remember that she bounced up to my desk one day and asked me if I wanted to give up something for Lent with her, exactly like she might invite me to go out to lunch or something. Pam was always like that, really enthusiastic about everything. Darned if I didn't end up giving up meat for Lent that year and something else -- I forget what -- the next. I haven't bothered with it much since, but one of the sewing ladies is Catholic and this reminded me that Lent was coming up -- not that she's planning to make any sacrifices.

I've considered giving up salt for Lent. I do love my table salt, though I never add it to food when I'm cooking; I prefer to let others make their own decision on the matter. One often hears about the risks of too much salt intake, mainly to do with heart disease and stroke.

I did some reading about it today. Strangely, I found myself nearly talked out of it. We eat almost no processed foods at home and I can't imagine how we might eat more fruit and veg than we do (potassium helps to balance sodium). Since we make our own bread, I know that a loaf that lasts us about a week has only 2 tsp in it; I forgot it one time and we didn't particularly notice, so halving that amount wouldn't be a problem.

The thing is, I've always had low blood pressure, not high. I sometimes have cramps in my feet and legs when I'm training harder, like now, and one theory about what causes this is to do with electrolyte imbalance. Waking up with a cramp in the middle of the night is no fun. Bill probably has low blood pressure as well as he sometimes gets dizzy when he stands up too quickly (orthostatic hypotension - I just love long polysyllabic words). Might I regret agreeing to give up my table salt? I was just about to ignore the issue, then I read this because I know salt has always been a very political subject (where there is money, there will be politics, right?).

On the positive side of less salt is that one's sense of other flavours is supposed to increase and I have a cupboard full of spices just waiting for me to figure out what to do with them. So, I've just about decided to go ahead and try it and see what happens. If the worst happens -- I start getting cramps or passing out or something, I can always opt out, can't I?

Are you abnegating anything for Lent?

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