Archive for the ‘articles’ Category

If I Had My Life to Live Over

February 7, 2009

 

This is a well known column by Erma Bombeck, a very popular writer who was syndicated back in the days before the internet and died in 1996.. (Yes children, there once was a world without it when people couldn’t live without their paper newspapers!) 

Anyway, I thought I’d post it for anyone in younger generations, or other countries, who missed it. Its quite wonderful, I think. Hope you will too. Its called “If I Had My Life to Live Over”.  She writes:

I would have talked less and listened more.

I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded.

I would have eaten the popcorn in the ‘good’ living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.

I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.

I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.

I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.

I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about grass stains.

I would have cried and laughed less while watching television – and more while watching life.

I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband.

I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren’t there for the day.

I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn’t show soil or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.

Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I’d have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.

When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, “Later. Now go get washed up for dinner.”

There would have been more “I love yous”..  more “I’m sorrys”…  but mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute…look at it and really see it…live it…and never give it back.

by Erma Bombeck 

About Erma from Wikipedia: “Erma Louise Bombeck (February 211927 – April 221996), born Erma Fiste, was an Americanhumorist who achieved great popularity for hernewspaper column that described suburban home life humorously from the mid-1960s until the late ’90s. Bombeck also published 15 books, most of which became best-sellers.

From 1965 to 1996, Erma Bombeck wrote over 4,000 newspaper columns chronicling the ordinary life of a midwestern suburban housewife with broad, and sometimes eloquent, humor. By the 1970s, her witty columns were read, twice weekly, by thirty million readers of 900 newspapers of theU.S. and Canada.”

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To My Everlasting Shame

February 6, 2009

I did not stay at my father’s bedside, to be with  him until he passed. There he was, right upstairs in the bedroom, while I hid like a coward downstairs and out of sight. We knew it would be that night. The doctors had called the family in and said so. 

All his brothers and sisters, the aunts and uncles I grew up with,  had been pretty much staying at my parents’ house for those last weeks.  The pasta pots were always boiling. They brought Italian bread and provolone cheese and sweet salami with big green olives. Most importantly,  they brought the black humor which is our family trademark , especially during our darkest hours.  It sustained us and carried us.

And yet, there was an age regression that took place for me. At age 32, they were still the grown ups and I was like a child again. That’s just how the dynamics morphed. When it was soon to be time, my favorite aunt had a talk with me and asked me if I really wanted to watch my father die. She explained to me, 32 going on 8, that dying was not like in the movies. It was quite a frightening thing to see.  She encouraged me to have my quiet time alone with him, now in a coma, and say my good-bye. I did so. Then I walked out of the room and all his siblings and my mother went in and the door was firmly closed.

And so he died with his wife, brothers and sisters all around and me nowhere in sight. They later said it was an awful thing. Blood and God knows what everywhere. Even his brothers were shaken by it. It was not something I should have had to see, they told me. As if they had protected me from something.

But not long after, I realized it was my own father’s awful thing. I should have been there. I allowed myself to be shielded by my beloved and well meaning aunt with childlike trust.  I should have been there. I was not a child. I was not, in truth, protected or shielded. I was written out of the last line of the last page of his life.  No, we wrote me out. 

And I am so ashamed, sorry, and regretful… What if my father knew or sensed I wasn’t there, right through the invisible walls of his coma? My shame is this: that I, his oldest and most responsible child, should have  accompanied him on the final stage of his journey. I should have been there. 

No tidy ending to this post. I should have been there.  

(This post was inspired by a poem by Cordie entitled:  If I had it to do all again)

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January 24, 2009

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Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus

December 20, 2008

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Its always nice to read this famous letter- to remind us of the magic of Christmas and what its all about. I am touched every time I read it. Hope you will be too.

 

Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus

“Editorial Page, New York Sun, 1897

We take pleasure in answering thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:

Dear Editor,

I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, “If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.” Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?

 

Virginia O’Hanlon

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except what they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished. 

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world. 

You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding. 

 

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.”

 

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!! 


When A Spouse Comes Out

November 5, 2008

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I found an interesting column by Garry Cooper  in this month’s Psychotherapy Networker.  

He reports that  Amity Pierce Buxton, founder of The Straight Spouse Network, estimates that as many as two million straight spouses will, often suddenly, traumatically,  and by accident, find themselves discovering that they have a gay or bi spouse. The article also reports that Joe Kort, an Imago therapist specializing in gay issues, has seen couples negotiate arrangements other than splitting.  Some agreed upon solutions have been allowing one or both parters to have relationships outside the marriage, allowing the bi/ gay partner to use porn and webcams but not meet sexual partners face to face, or the bi/gay partner agrees not to indulge in outside sexual behaviors or porn.

What a tough and painful situation for everyone involved…particularly where there are children…or the spouses still love each other…  What would you do?

Organ Donor? Not Me…

November 3, 2008

I just read an article about a California surgeon facing trial in an organ donation case. He is accused of hastening the death of a very ill man in order to harvest his organs. The man’s mother sued the hospital and got a $250,000. settlement, though the hospital admitted no wrongdoing…hmmm…

It seems so morally admirable to be an organ donor, at least in theory. Like giving blood. But I confess that its exactly for this reason that I said no when asked recently if I wished to be an organ donor. I would not want to live on life support, but I frankly don’t trust anyone except my loved ones to make the decision to pull the plug. At that point, I would be more than glad to help someone else live a longer or better life as I leave this one. (Not that anyone could even use my diseaed organs, I don’t think. Maybe my eyes..)

But I don’t want medical staff, or anyone else who doesn’t love me, speeding me along on my journey for purposes of expedience. 

How about you? Are you a donor? Or not?

My Daughter’s Wedding & The Notebook

October 9, 2008

Oh, what a wedding it was! Everything and more than we’d dreamed of since she was five, when I caught her in our yard literally kissing frogs because, “I have to find my prince, Mommy.” She apparently squeezed one frog so ardently that she frantically presented it to me because she…well….she couldn’t wake it up.

I raised my princess to be strong, assertive, and independent. She did not need Prince Charming to save her or rescue her, but she did find a Prince Charming who is fairy tale handsome, protective, nurturing, kind, strong, gentle, and  generous.  (And yes, also an alpha male!)

Oh, what beautiful babies they will make!

They’re twenty eight, have been together for seven years, and lived together for the past two. So her new husband already felt like family, it seemed to me. Yet witnessing for them as they signed their marriage license, and watching them go through the ritual in the church, somehow made me love him differently. Because now he IS family. He will be the father of my grandchildren. He will take care of me when I’m old, if I should need it. He’s that kind of man, a good man. And so is his family. Our tiny family, long since dwindled from what it once was,  has  somehow been blessed with in-laws who have already absorbed us into their tribe. We have long yearned for this void to be filled. 

They looked gorgeous. They looked madly in love, even after all this time.  They never left each other’s side but ate and danced and laughed the night away. Their song was “I Could Not Ask for More”  by Ed McCain.   But I found this one on YouTube sung by a female vocalist, with video clips from The Notebook, my daughter’s and my all time favorite romantic movie. The lovers here remind me of my new newlyweds:

 

 

I truly could not ask for more.

Knowledge is Power

September 30, 2008

I liked this article about being an empowered patient in today’s New York Times. Its nice to know that times are changing, where the “good patient” is not necessarily the passive, compliant one

 

 

Homosexual Brain Resembles Opposite Sex

July 11, 2008

An article in Science Daily reports that Swedish researchers have found  some physical attributes of the homosexual brain to resemble those found in the opposite sex.

The findings: 

The brains of heterosexual men and homosexual women are slightly asymmetric—the right hemisphere is larger than the left—and the brains of gay men and straight women are not.

In connectivity of the amygdala (which is important for emotional learning), lesbians resemble straight men, and gay men resemble straight women. 

So…….maybe moral choice regarding this issue, with all the negative moral judgements attached to it, really does come down to natural, biological chance. And doesn’t everyone deserve a chance to be who they were created to be?

Tim Russert’s death means life to many

July 9, 2008

I read a moving essay in today’s NY Times, by a man who might not even be alive today if he hadn’t remembered the well publicized facts and symptoms of Russert’s heart attack. He notes that apparently  many, many men are arriving in emergency rooms, better safe than sorry.

Its so worth reading…

MS: Hope is Always Good

July 6, 2008

Photo copyright Jupiter Images 2008

In what is considered the most significant genetic breakthrough in MS research in three decades, scientists last year announced they had found a gene that increases the risk of developing the disease by 30 percent.

“This discovery is very significant, because it is hopefully the first of many, and after more than 30 years of finding nothing,” said Dr. Jennie Q. Lou, professor of public health and internal medicine at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.”

Go to Live Science to read the full article.

Abuse & Disease: A New Spin

July 1, 2008

Chronic illness feels like an abusive relationship. I should know, I was in one. 

I only just made this analogy  yesterday. A friend was talking about a controlling relationship which her daughter, M.,  is stuck with until M.’s child turns 18. Every time she gets thru one crisis with the father of her child, who feeds on her angst like a shark feeds on a flailing, tasty human, calm returns and for a while she feels some semblance of normalcy.  

She goes on living as if no further emotional assault will occur, and is truly re-traumatized each and every time.  How could this be happening again????…..the raging powerlessness I know she feels as he uses their child as a pawn between them, a pawn in a game she cannot win.

She will not use Solomon’s sword. He would.

Jump back to me, stuck in bed again with my lupus flare. Like it or not, stuck with it. My body, my life, my work, my marriage,  my family –  all affected by this nasty disease. Assaulted by it.  And I feel powerless, and furious…. so furious….  a  raging powerlessness in a fight I cannot win. A fight which will probably kill me. An abusive relationship doesn’t get much worse than that.

And then I feel better again, a semblance of normalcy is restored (key word semblance) , until the next assault by the disease.  At which point I feel shocked and traumatized that the flare has flattened me again.  Just like M. feels. 

There’s nothing we can do about it, right? 

Wrong, actually. I heard myself advising M.’s mom that M. needs to accept that it is what it is. He will never change. His tactics will never change. I would imagine any boxer would tell you its the punch they didn’t see coming that knocked them out.  So…umm…when are M. and I going to admit to ourselves that she had a child with a power and control freak, and I have a very serious medical condition which does not go away just because I get remissions? 

What we both need to do is to see it coming, know its coming, but accept the breaks in between with  the grace,  joy and  wisdom to appreciate the present.  When you know its coming you can have a back up plan. For her it might be disengaging from his game and gathering  the support she needs. Not to detail her victimization but to go out with her friends for a good time,  or treat herself to a day at the spa. It won’t change a blessed thing about the situation, but regardless of whether she suffers or pampers herself while he does his thing- nothing else will change. So since it is what it is, I vote for pampering at such times. Nurturing herself rather than berate herself because she can’t win.

So, as is often the case, in giving my friend advice I gave it to myself. I stopped fighting this flare today and accepted the reality that I need to take a week off from work even though  I HATE canceling clients. I decided to take advantage of the abusive (insert your favorite curse word here) lupus and treat myself. I mean, just because I can’t go to work doesn’t mean I can’t work on my hobbies which I never have enough time for.  I can decoupage, make jewelry, plan craft projects, read, watch movies, all from the comfort of my nice snuggy bed.  It won’t change anything, but…to tell you the truth… I am actually looking forward to my week off now… 

It is what it is.  😉

 

 

Illness Caused by Stress? Or Not….?

June 29, 2008

I just found this artifact of life before computers on www.stressrelatedillness.com.. Makes a good lead in for what I’ve got for you today: an interesting, tongue in cheek essay that you might enjoy too, in todays’ New York Times Magazine. I guess this means I’m emerging from my murderous funk: 

 The Way We Live Now by Peggy Orenstein

Relationships Can Be So Hard (Part 2)

June 18, 2008

Please refer back to my previous post, Relationships Can Be So Hard Part 1  before reading this one:

 Live Science reports that female chimps often cry out during sex (better known to scientists as “copulation calling”) to attract nearby males, but they keep quiet when other females are around so they don’t alert their competition, a new study finds. 

The hypothesis has long been that the females advertise their sexually receptive state in this way in order to attract potential mates, apparently to have them fight over the female  and ensure mating with the strongest male in the group and have the strongest offspring. (Here we go with the alpha male thing again….)

Instead, female chimpanzees seem to use the copulation calls strategically to enlist the future protective support of males against aggressive group members, especially other females. The females produced more calls when high-ranking males were around, but kept quiet during their mating when high-ranking females were nearby.

“The female chimps we observed in the wild seemed to be much more concerned with having sex with many different males, without other females finding out about it, than causing male chimps to fight over them,” the one of the researchers, Simon Townsend, says. 

He states that this strategy might minimize the risks of competition, because competition between females can be dangerously high in wild chimpanzees. 

He actually thinks that because females make the calls not only during their fertile period, but also when they’re not in the mood (uh..excuse me, I mean sexually receptive)  when they are most likely to conceive, they are acting something like the chimp equivalent of gold diggers.  

“Copulation calling therefore may be one potential strategy employed by female chimpanzees to advertise their receptivity to high-ranked males, confuse paternity, and secure future support from these socially important individuals,” Townsend said.

So is he calling female chimps promiscuous manipulators? No wonder our poor chimp couple looks so miserable.  We now know that the male is painfully and rightfully insecure, but as for her…well… check out her expression… Its like: get over it.. I am who I am.. girls will be girls…

The findings were published on June 18 in the online journal PLoS ONE. The study was funded by the BiotechnologAy and Biological Sciences Research Council of the United Kingdom, an EU Pathfinder grant 

Lupus Worse in Southern European Ancestry

June 17, 2008

That would be me… 100% southern European ancestry…of which I’ve always been, and still am, so proud… But I found this article today: 

“Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients with a higher percentage of ancestry from southern Europe have more severe disease manifestations, according to new research presented at EULAR 2008, the Annual Congress of the European League Against Rheumatism in Paris, France. “

Two Horses

June 12, 2008
 

Just up the road from 
a home is a field, with two horses in it.
 
From a distance, each horse looks like any other horse. But if you stop your car, or are walking by, you will notice something quite amazing….
 
Looking into the eyes of one horse will disclose that he is blind.  His owner has chosen not to have him put down, but has made a good home for him.
This alone is amazing.
If you stand nearby and listen, you will hear the sound of a bell.  
Looking around for the source of the sound, you will see that it comes from the smaller horse in the field.
  
Attached to the horse’s halter is a small bell.
 
It lets the blind friend know where the other horse is, so he can follow.
 
As you stand and watch these two friends,
you’ll see that the horse with the bell is always checking on the blind horse, and that the blind horse will listen for the bell and then slowly walk
to where the other horse is, trusting that he will not be led astray.
 
When the horse with the bell returns  to the shelter of the barn each
evening, it stops occasionally and looks back, making sure that the blind
friend isn’t too far behind to hear the bell.
 
Like the owners of these two horses,
God does not throw us away just because we are not perfect
or because we have problems or challenges.
 
He watches over us and even brings others into our lives
to help us when we are in need.
 
Sometimes we are the blind horse
being guided by the little ringing bell of those who God places in our lives.
 
Other times we are the guide horse, helping others to find their way….
 
Good friends are like that… you may not always see them, but you know they are always there.
 
Please listen for my bell and I’ll listen for yours. 
And remember…
be kinder than necessary-
everyone you meet is fighting
some kind of battle.    

Rev. Robert H. Schuller 

Alpha Seal???!

May 13, 2008

What can I tell you? I find these weird things to be interesting. Scientists discovered a seal trying to have sex with a penguin, quite aggressively, I might add…

From Live Science:

“One summer morning, scientists observing elephant seals on a beach on Marion Island near the Antarctic spotted a young male Antarctic fur seal subduing a king penguin. “

“At first we thought it was hunting the penguin, but then it became clear that his intentions were rather more amorous,” de Bruyn recalled today via email.

In this article, scientists make the connection that aggression is closely linked to the mating urge in animals, and speculate it is the same in humans…. Read the full story…if these were humans it would be attempted rape for sure…

 

Why the Worst Thing That Ever Happened to Me is the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me

April 15, 2008

I had a major stroke in Dec. 2004 at the age of 52.  I could, should have died or been severely impaired. Instead, I have all of my functioning intact except for occaisional glitches finding words.  It was truly a miracle. There were so many people praying for me.

It was the best thing that ever happened to me because:

1. Eventually they figured out that I had lupus, which caused the stroke, and I am now being closely monitored and treated.

2. My husband and I decided that it was time to stop putting off my life’s dreams because if you wait too long you may never realize them. So since my dream was to go into private practice (psychotherapy) with my daughter, we left a state we hated living in and moved  two states away to be near her to open the practice. Working with my daughter is one of the biggest joys of my life.

3. We then, most unexpectedly, bought a lovely, perfect for us weekend/retirement house around the corner from my sister (who found it for us). My only sister and I had always had a conflicted relationship. But after the stroke, and moving near her, she is now my dearest friend and I love her with all my heart. Actually, it wasn’t until the stroke that I understood how much she loved me.

4. I have reconnected with other dear friends who live in this area.

5. I learned the true character of the man that I love, which I’ve also learned you only really know when the chips are REALLY down.

6. I’ve learned to allow myself play time.  Doing something for the process, not the result. Enjoying being in the moment of creation. For me that is decoupage. Sometimes the products are lovely, sometimes not. Doesn’t matter! Also have allowed myself to read novels, which don’t teach me anything but which I thoroughly enjoy. I guess you could say basically I’m allowing myself to enjoy.

7. I’ve learned that it is really quite lovely to feel so nurtured and cared for by so many people in my life…that used to be my job…

I’m sure there is more, but you get the idea.  Enjoy your day! Well, actually that is one more. I’ve learned to enjoy every moment of work and play because I appreciate that I’m here to do so!

Blessings to all,

Psychscribe

The Memory Haves & the Memory Have Nots

April 11, 2008

I just read one of those great  articles that I wish I could say I wrote.  I didn’t. It was written by David Brooks and published in the New York Times. Very funny.  It is a real treat for boomers and anyone else starting to have memory issues. Here is an excerpt:

“Society is now riven between the memory haves and the memory have-nots. On the one side are these colossal Proustian memory bullies who get 1,800 pages of recollection out of a mere cookie-bite. They traipse around broadcasting their conspicuous displays of recall as if quoting Auden were the Hummer of conversational one-upmanship. On the other side are those of us suffering the normal effects of time, living in the hippocampically challenged community that is one step away from leaving the stove on all day.

This divide produces moments of social combat. Some vaguely familiar person will come up to you in the supermarket. “Stan, it’s so nice to see you!” The smug memory dropper can smell your nominal aphasia and is going to keep first-naming you until you are crushed into submission. “

You can find the full article at:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/11/opinion/11brooks.html?_r=1&th&emc=th&oref=slogin

Man Pronounced Dead – Wasn’t

March 25, 2008

This kind of thing is pretty scary even though it had a happy ending. The young man was pronounced dead  four months ago.  Parents had finally given permission to harvest his organs.  They did one last test as parents were paying final respects and finally got reflex responses.  This week he was on a morning talk show telling the host that he had heard and comprehended the doctor pronouncing him dead but could not communicate otherwise. Can you even imagine?????????? 

You can read the full story here: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080324/ap_on_fe_st/not_dead_1

Finally FDA Standards for Generics are Questioned

March 17, 2008

I don’t know about you, but with my health issues I’ve been a big time consumer of prescription drugs for years. And I’ve almost always noticed the difference between the effectiveness of generics vs name brand on my body.  When I’ve asked my doctors what they take, they take brand for the same reason. Now I read that the FDA rigidly applies a standard of “bioequivalence” when testing generics . That is, the generic must deliver the same active ingredient, in the same amount, at the same rate as the original brand drug. This does not take into account “therapeutic equivalence”, which is the abililty of the two drug formulations to ease symptoms or cure disease. The inactive ingredients can result in variations  in the various formulations and effects of various generics made by various manufacturers.  I don’t know about you, but as a patient and a consumer various variations don’t make me feel warm, fuzzy and safe. The kicker here is that generics are touted as copycat drugs, or replicas of the originals. They’re not.  Read the whole article in todays LA Times.

NY Gov. Caught Using Prostitution Ring

March 12, 2008

 You may have heard recent news  about NY Gov. Elliot Spitzer getting caught allegedly using the services of high priced call girls in a prostitution ring, specificially one $4600. evening of revels. There is  an excellent article about this  in Live Science called “Why Power and Prostitution Go Together.”  It talks about the psychology of men in power and, as the old saying goes, power corrupts.  There is a long line of men (I use the male gender because statistically they’re the ones in power) who have gotten caught doing things like this and you want to say, “Are ya kidding me? Did you really think you’d get away with this?”

 Its apparently the feeling of invincibility, that once they reach a certain point on the political ladder they can’t be touched.  Also, I think, a feeling of entitlement. In addition to an illustrious line of politicians caught with, pardon the expression, their pants down, the psychology here reminds me  of Tony Soprano.  

In his prior position as NY State’s attorney general, Spitzer proscecuted two prostitution rings. Here’s a defining moment he could have done without.

Cats Are Good for Mental Health

March 6, 2008

GiannaKali has posted a great article citing research that cats are good for mental health. Check it out!

Alpha Fish????

March 2, 2008

I kid you not.  I just cannot help posting this article as a follow up to our previous discussions about alpha’s : http://news.yahoo.com/s/livescience/20080229/sc_livescience/electricfishadvertisetheirbodies

10 Ways to Save $ on Food

March 1, 2008

I ran across  this article and thought some could find it helpful:

http://finance.yahoo.com/family-home/article/104492/Save-Money-on-Food