An excerpt from BREAKING BRANCHES and Enjoying Backyard Living,


So, what caused my suffering like I never experienced before? I generally urinate four to five time during my work day shift, which means I am also hydrating adequately. A few days before my symptoms started, I noticed that my urine was darker. What color should the urine be, if not taking medications that would change it?

There are many things we can do to improve digestion of food and the single most important is, to chew our food. What state should the food we swallow be in? A liquid state. I have never heard of a person choking from swallowing liquids.

When we bypass the first step of our digestive system, by not chewing food to the consistency of what we would give a baby, the result could be devastating! Choking, bloating, heartburn, and constipation are just a few of the discomforts that we may experience.

Many of us have heard that it takes about 36 hours to digest meats. We have also heard that the acid in our stomach can burn a hole in metal. If the stomach acid is that potent, then it should not take 36 hours to digest meat. Now, if the meat is arriving in the stomach intact, it will take longer to break down.

One of the things I do to aid the transit time (from mouth to anus) of meats is, cut the meat into small pieces. This makes it easier to chew, resulting in a liquid state faster and faster absorption of nutrients. And of course, faster transit time, that is generally less than 24 hours. I was able to confirm this by eating a small beet with my main meal. The next day, my third bowel movement had a purple color to it from the digested beet, and this is how I was able to calculate the transit time.

Swallowing foods in a liquefied state will definitely improve digestion and comfort.


By now, most of us know the reasons why we should be mindful of our cookware. Our food is already contaminated enough. Why add to it through our pots and pans with non-stick surfaces or aluminum, just because they are easier to clean!

In my research for pots, I discovered that a little bit of common-sense can be helpful in making better decisions. I have bought pots that were labeled stainless steel, but when I tested them at home I found they were made of something else! How did I test them? I used one of the magnets stuck to my refrigerator. I learned a long time ago that a magnet should always stick to metal or steel.

For example, I bought a magnetic bracelet. I heard about the benefits of magnetic therapy for pain and other ailments. It’s a therapy that has been around for centuries, so I assumed the benefits must be true. Honestly, I haven’t noticed any benefits, but the bracelet is stylish! I wear it every day and it came in handy when I was in the market for a new pot.

I went to a discount store and the first pot I looked at had stainless steel stamped on it. So, I removed my magnetic bracelet from my wrist and proceeded to verify if it was so. The magnets on my bracelet did not stick to the inner areas of the pot, they slid to the bottom and moved around from side to side when I tilted it. Fortunately, I was able to find a another pot labeled stainless steel that the magnets stuck to on all surfaces, inside and out. This was the one I bought

Having a magnet at the store to confirm the authenticity of the stainless steel pot, was a time saver and ensured I was not introducing contaminants in my cooked meals.

ss magnet

Testing a pot labeled stainless steel with a magnetic bracelet.


I didn’t know they were so colorful

Growing up in Barbados, I can remember only swatting mosquitoes at night and hearing them buzzing around my ears. Now, it is a different story; they can be active any time of day, and even in cooler weather. When I see flies in my yard in the daytime, I know I can expect to see mosquitoes too. So for me, an important part of my ritual is to spend time in my backyard daily, regardless of the temperature or weather conditions.

The bothersome mosquitoes inflicting miserable pain and itching, it was imperative that I create a repellent for them to allow my daily routine to continue. I experience with several natural plant base items until I got the results I was seeking,” mosquitoes backed off”. The recipe consists of 3 ingredients and I sometimes add it to my food, after all, its all plant base.

I wrote about my experiences with the mosquito’s reaction to the changes I made in perfecting the recipe. Read the chapter, How I Keep Mosquitoes at Bay. In my book “Breaking Branches and Enjoying Backyard Living” on Amazon,.


This morning it happened again, and I was only lying in bed. Over a year ago, I had a leg cramp that brought me to my knees, it was extremely painful and fortunately; it was after I had hiked seven miles and was back at home.

My planning for the hike was poor, in my backpack was only water and nothing at all to replenish the electrolytes that would be lost with each step. Looking back, it seems that I only got cramps in my right leg and it could be that I favor my left leg, due to an injured knee from many years ago.  To remedy the cramp, I chewed a couple magnesium tablets and ingested a small amount of sea salt. (the tablets, I chewed for faster absorption).  Why magnesium supplement? I have been hearing about its benefits for muscle cramps for many years, through nutritional radio programs and reading nutritional magazines. The salt is another story. My mom told me it is good for cramping and it worked for her. The magnesium suggested usage on the label was one tablet a day and I was already up to six (I was taking two with each meal for well over six years). The pain after the seven miles was tough to bear and I needed relief right now, but well after 10 minutes; I was still immobile and in pain. I had to sit on the couch and wait for the painful cramp to dissipate from my right thigh. After thirty to forty minutes I was back to normal, but being very careful with my household chores; not wanting to re-activate the cramp.

Getting back to my most recent episode, it started when I brought my right knee up to remove a sock from my foot with my hand, while lying in bed. Two very painful cramps occurred at the same time on my right thigh immediately, one on the inner side just above my knee and the other on back of my thigh (hamstring muscle). I eased out of bed and dragged my right leg, while applying hard as I could, direct pressure to the inner cramp area with my right hand. That area was getting tighter and tighter and the pain was excruciating. I needed to get to my kitchen where the salt and magnesium supplements are located.

I got to the top of the stairs and eased down one step at a time, while grimacing in pain and verbalizing some choice words. The six steps down to where my stairs angle to the left, my words were “Oh Sh#%, Oh Sh#% on each and every step; it was very painful. After the angle on the stairs, there is another five steps to the bottom and tackling them in the forward position was to unbearable; even to think about. So, I eased down them backwards still one step at a time without any choice words, but the pain was still there. Across from the stairs five feet away is a counter and I held on and limped around to the kitchen.

In the kitchen, I poured a small amount of sea salt into my hand, licked it; no difference was felt. Then I removed a magnesium capsule from its bottle, pulled the capsule apart and emptied its contents on my tongue and swallowed. I was amazed! Immediately, the pain was gone, in an instant. It felt like a vice grip pliers (pliers with an adjustable locking jaws and a lever that needs to be depressed to release the jaws) was released from my leg. I emptied the contents of another magnesium capsule on my tongue and drank some water. This was to ensure that the cramps were not going to come back any time soon. I walked back upstairs normally, back to bed I went and pondered what the heck just happened. How could it be? The magnesium supplement: it worked so fast, it was unbelievable!

My entire day went by as usual and the only time I was concerned about my leg cramping, was driving home from work at night in stop and go traffic for an hour. The cramping did not repeat. However, my inner muscle above the knee was tender for about two days when I stooped down. Obviously, some damage was done from the cramping. Since then, I have increased my magnesium intake to well above the recommended on the supplement bottle and I doubled my bedtime dose. I will do my best to prevent that situation from occurring again.

So, why did I switch from tablets to capsules of magnesium supplement? The reputable tablet maker was not available (on back-order) from my favorite online vitamin store. So, I went to my local farmers’ market/nutritional store to see what options were available. I read the information on of all the magnesium supplement bottles and compared their information. The one I bought was more expensive and in a capsule form. Knowing darn well that I will be pulling the capsules apart and only ingesting their contents, also helped in my decision. I try my best to eliminate unnecessary ingredients from my diet. I was very comfortable with the ingredients listed and the other information on the label about the product. Base on the research that I did with this supplement and the results I got from it in my time of need, I can only concluded that is a Quality magnesium supplement.

Considering, this is a supplement I take several times a day, I ordered five bottles from my favorite online vitamin store, and of course the price was very reasonable; compared to the local farmers’ market/nutritional store.

The experience I have had with this brand of magnesium, I am compelled to write a review and I wish I could give ten stars. In my time of need, it worked beyond my expectations.


During my short tenure in the military, I had a routine eye check-up.  After a very thorough exam, the eye specialist informed me that my eye pressure was higher than normal. She went on to explain that elevated eye pressure (anything above 21 mm Hg) is associated with ocular hypertension and if left untreated, it can lead to glaucoma and eventually vision loss.

The doctor insisted on additional tests. Later on, I came to understand that she conducted a perimetry test to get a map of my complete field of vision. This would help determine the prevalence of glaucoma. As she instructed, I looked straight ahead in the eye machine and told her when I saw squiggly lines moving in my peripheral vision. The test results didn’t indicate glaucoma or any other concern for that matter. So, I didn’t worry about this incident and went on with my life.

I was well into living the civilian life before I considered another eye exam. My routine exam, about six years after my original eye exam, resulted in the same results – elevated eye pressure. The doctor performed additional tests but nothing of major concern appeared. Still, I wondered what could be the cause. Although my eye care doctor didn’t seem concerned, I wanted to keep my eye on this matter (no pun intended) to ensure it didn’t evolve into something detrimental for my vision.

Admittedly, I skipped a couple of years between checking my eyesight again. Still, I expected my routine eye exam in 2005 to be consistent with my earlier exam results – elevated eye pressure with the potential for glaucoma. This time the results were different. To my surprise, the eye specialist didn’t mention anything about unusual eye pressure.

To make sure he examined me appropriately, I asked him to check again. I explained to him that in my past few eye exams I had high eye pressure. He sat and listened to me patiently and stated there was no evidence of this during the examination.

Looking back over this 20-year time span, I wondered what had caused this change in my vision. As I looked back, I believe the reduction in my elevated eye pressure had a lot to do with my drastic change in diet. Like many others, I made plans for bringing in the new millennium, the year 2000, in an unprecedented way – by cutting out my daily consumption of junk food including soda pop.

I replaced my daily pop with green tea. Initially, I purchased teas from the discount store, marveling at my ability to purchase 100 tea bags for $2.99 – what a deal! Eventually, I wanted to upgrade the taste quality using fresh and natural ingredients. So, I bought a tea ball and used loose green tea leaves from specialty stores and tea shops.

My continued tea research led me to experiment with making my own green teas using leaves from my fruit trees in my backyard. I explored various combinations of tree leaves like lemon, grapefruit, pomegranate, apple, avocado and grape vines to name a few. I mixed these with herbs like oregano, thyme, mint, and bay leaf depending on what was in season.


When I started sharing my teas with others for feedback, some people were a little surprised that I make my own green tea. My original thought was if I can eat the fruits and vegetable then I should be able to use the leaves for tea. Not to brag but I get rave reviews on the deliciousness of my teas and better yet, I know about the freshness of the leaves because I know exactly where the ingredients come from.

So how did green tea improve my eyesight you asked? Researchers say the compounds responsible for many of the health benefits of green tea are capable of penetrating the tissues of the eyes. The high concentration of a disease- fighting antioxidants called catechins helps protect the delicate tissues of the eyes from glaucoma and other eye diseases.

I firmly believe that drinking green tea is the reason why my eye pressure decreased to normal levels (1 – 20 mm Hg) without medical intervention. Today, my only drinks are homemade green teas and filtered water. I drink 40 to 60 ounces of green tea a day.

Well, it’s 2017 and how is my eyesight? Very good I say, but don’t believe me, check my eye exams.


I grew up in the West Indies. As a child, I only had one pair of shoes. When I walked around the house or in the backyard, I went barefoot to keep my shoes as new as possible for as long as possible. I remember how I hated to walk in the yard barefoot after it rained. The ground was muddy and it felt gross when it oozed between my toes. I jumped from rock to rock to avoid stepping in the thick backyard mud. I was successful most times but on those occasions when my feet didn’t land solidly and slipped, I knew what would happen next. Urgh!

Now that I’m an adult, I enjoy it when my feet squish around in the mud. I’ve come to understand the benefits of mud soaks. Detoxification, relaxing, grounding (receiving potent, healing, electrons from the ground), and an opportunity to meditate are just a few of the benefits of foot bathing in mud. I see it as a way for me to connect with Mother Earth, and it feels so good.

I treat myself to a muddy foot bath almost every weekend. In fact, I have foot impressions in my backyard to prove it! I just add water to the impressions and place my beach chair just right so that I can sit comfortably while wiggling my toes in the mud. This gives me a chance to relax from the busy week while meditating in the sun or completing one of my evil Sudoku puzzles.

Over the years, my foot baths have become more than an opportunity to relax and detox. Much more than I could have imagined. It’s become a time to be at one with nature and the world therein.

For example, on one warm afternoon, I was completing my Sudoku puzzle while foot bathing in the mud. All of a sudden, I felt a slight wind on my left big toe. I peeked over my puzzle and saw a fluttering bee. I watched it for a good 15 seconds before it flew away. It’s amazing what you can experience by being still in nature – the wind from bee wings!

On another day of foot bathing, a hummingbird came within two feet of my face. It hovered for about 10 seconds before flying away. How delightful to see!

I’ve also been up close and personal with lizards. One time, I saw a lizard standing about five feet away – bobbing its head up and down while staring at me.  It came closer and closer and then stopped, standing about 15 inches away. It remained there for 30 minutes, just staring at me before leaving. It felt good to know it didn’t consider me a threat and stayed around to experience the peacefulness of my aura (or so I’d like to think). Admittedly, I love my muddy foot baths for relaxation and detoxing as well as the magic they bring.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that there are also times when I get pooped on. I’ve experienced the sudden wetness of those yellow bird poop on my arms or shoulders – just like the ones we see on our cars.  I consider this a part of the wonders of nature as well.

These moments with Mother Nature are customized experiences for each muddy foot bath in my backyard, in my little part of the world, just for me.


We’ve all done it. We’ve all resorted to digging through our trash bins to find something we’ve thrown away, only to realize that we acted prematurely in getting rid of something we later need. Fortunately for me, I didn’t have to dumpster dive too deep … I found this needed item in no time. A family member visiting from out of town, let’s call him Lonnie, bought this item. This item is something we usually eat for breakfast with cream cheese, grape jam, or nut butter.

For five days of his visit, Lonnie ate quinoa, lentils, grass fed beef, plain organic yogurt, organic fruits, and vegetables but he had a taste and desire for ‘something different’ to eat. So, he purchased this so called ‘food’ item and ate it for breakfast.

About 30 minutes after consuming it, he experienced heartburn and indigestion. He immediately assigned his stomach ailment to this ‘something different’ that he ate. Once his stomach settled from all the commotion, he immediately threw this item in the trash – the item I retrieved from the trash bin out of curiosity. I was curious as to what could have caused such a reaction so I read the ingredients label.


After reading the package, I thought, wow, this has got to be a world record!  I later realized that there are other food items that contain more ingredients than the ones listed here.  I returned the package and its contents to its proper place – the trash bin! Lonnie was right to throw it away.

It’s always good to make time to read the ingredients in the packaged food we buy. For me, if I can’t pronounce the ingredients and it doesn’t consist of whole foods, the product stays on the store’s shelf.

For over 11 years, I’ve been very cautious and concerned about the chemical makeup of the foods I eat and the things I put on my body. This vigilance started when I read what was in a very popular brand of lotion. It had over 31 ingredients in it – harmful ingredients, like gluten, that could be absorbed through my skin and invade my bloodstream faster than if I ate them. Ingredients that would have both short-term and long-term negative effects on my body, like sulfates and parabens, for example. Sulfates negatively affect cell membranes and parabens mimic estrogen and have been linked to cancer.

There’s a saying that goes ‘what’s in your wallet’, well I’ve coined new phrases – ‘what’s in your food?’ and ‘what’s on your skin?’ It behooves us to find out!

In thinking about one of Lonnie’s breakfast ingredients, I remember seeing the ingredient called FD&C RED 40 LAKE. My research shows this comes from coal tar. Hmm, we can eat coal tar without the need to light up the grill!

So, what breakfast food has all these ingredients? Guess. Here’s a clue! It is round!

bon ap·pé·tit