Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Getting ready …

to visit family in another state, which means, Man, there's a lot to do around here today! And it's soooo boooootiful (that's how my younger granddaughter pronounces beautiful) outside that I don't wanna pack and I don't wanna get organized and I don't wanna clean out my car. So there. Harumph.


Planted the gardenia and azaleas yesterday, mowed the front lawn and worked a little more on garage reorganization. The garden is still too wet to plow, as the old saying goes. The fence goes up today. Between my dog, who likes to stroll through the mud, and possibly a rabbit (or maybe the dog) who ate the leaves off the only cabbage plant out there, fencing is the current Job One.

I don't think I'll electrify it while I'm gone, though. There's nothing else for a rabbit to eat, and Molly won't be able to get through or over or under the wires. No sense in wasting battery life while I'm gone.

I'm new to this electric fence thing. We had them when I was a kid (Dad's Job One), to keep horses in their pasture and critters out of the garden. My little brother accidentally touched a wire once and liked it so much he kept going back for more. Me? Not so much. Watching him shock himself (that explains sooooo much about my brother, heh) made me Back. Away. From. The. Fence.

I realize that the fence isn't "hot" unless you hook it up to the gizmo that makes it hot and you have to then turn the gizmo on. But still. I keep thinking that just stringing that wire around the fenceposts is a dangerous job.

Somebody has to do it.

I will weigh myself manana, but I won't be posting again until Tuesday, assuming I make it home safely. Have a great rest of the week and a great May Day and a great weekend and a great next Monday. And I will, too.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Those of you who have been weight-loss blogging for a while will recognize that today's title stands for one of those unexpected, always-hoped-for benefits of diet and exercise and healthy living – the non-scale victory.

I haven't had much in the way of scale victories lately, so it was with great delight that I slipped – yes, slipped! – on the pair of jeans that have not fit all winter. It was cool enough yesterday that jeans were welcome. I have refused all winter to buy a larger size (I've been living in yoga pants the past three months), but I have also refused to try this pair on because I didn't want yet another blow to my ego.

I've been doing a lot of physical activity lately, though, and felt that maybe, just maybe, they would fit. They not only fit, they were comfortable.

My go-to NSV has always been my wedding ring. When it starts sliding around my finger, I know some changing is going on.

I worked at the garden center yesterday afternoon and brought home a little of my paycheck: two small azaleas and a gardenia, which will be the centerpiece of a brick planter in front of my house. They all look like not quite enough to fill the space, now that I have them here.

When I moved to this house, the areas on either side of the front porch were filled with tall, ugly evergreen shrubs, things no one ever trimmed or cared for. They were taller than I was, which made trimming impossible. I eventually had them taken out. We had the concrete porch redone several years ago, and at the same time had brick planters built. I've got some perennials in there – hostas, dianthus, artemesia, some other pretty plants that I can't name – but it's haphazard and unattractive. I think the plants I brought home yesterday are a good start in the landscaping home improvement project.

I won't be weighing myself on the first of the May, as I'll be out of town. Not sure yet if I'll record this month's progress on April 29 (the day I leave) or May 4 (the first full day I'll be home). I'm thinking the 29th, as the trip will mean navigating some tricky food situations. One thing for sure: I'm having birthday cake at my baby girl's 40th birthday party.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Crop failure

Well, sort of.

I put several trays of seedlings – three kinds of tomatoes and two kinds of peppers – outdoors yesterday on a table on our patio. Then I spent the next couple of hours cleaning out the garage. And while I was doing that, the wind started blowing.

And blowing. And … do you see where this is heading?

My husband casually mentioned that "the outside table tipped over in all this wind." With that, I became a runner again. I raced from the garage to the back of the house to find all my little seedlings, plants I've been babying since February, spilled out of their pots onto the patio.

I took a break from garage cleaning to repot as many babies as I could salvage, but I lost a lot.

Two things occurred to me during that process.
  • How lucky was it that I brought six bags of compost home with me last week from the nursery (I was out of potting soil) and
  • How lucky was it that I was working at the nursery in the first place?
Working there has given me the experience – and confidence – to know that repotting will work, no matter how droopy the plants looked yesterday. And working there makes it much easier and cheaper to replace the plants that died in the wind. (I trade my labor for plants.)

Anyhoo ... in other gardening news, I finally planted peas Saturday. They should have been in the ground a month ago, but oh well. One of these days we'll have peas. More than half the garden space remains unplanted, but there's still lots of time. I didn't plant anything last year until mid-May.


The astute among you will notice a new header for the blog, one that Marilyn suggested in a comment last week. I think it more accurately reflects the direction I've been taking here. I'm keeping "Run." in there because I always hope I'll be able to run regularly and long distances again. This extra weight is all that stands between me and 26.2.


In other news, as if we women with weight issues don't have enough to worry about, there's this, the lead paragraph of which reads:
A new study says federal guidelines on obesity should be revised so more women fit into the category of "obese."
Yeah, that's what I need to hear. I'm not fat enough, make me fatter! Grrr.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Testing, testing

Something weird happened to Friday's formatting, so I'm testing to see if it's still happening. Apparently quoting that Asian-character comment had something to do with it. In the HTML view, there are Asian characters sprinkled throughout the post. Hmmm. Hope this one looks okay, and apologies for the white text background yesterday. Grrr.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Friday again

“When we heal the earth,
we heal ourselves.”
~ David Orr

One more nod to Earth Day. And to Food, Inc., because in creating a better way to produce food, we would indeed heal both the earth and ourselves.

Or at least I think we would.

Someone from an Asian country has been leaving comments here lately, usually only on Fridays. (I'm going to have to start thinking of titles for Friday's posts now.) Last week s/he said:
"One-night stand leaf lover wife erotic passion photo beautiful babes self-timer self-timer self-timer beautiful working girl working girl emptied emptied emptied babes strip show Strip emptied of adult pornography masturbation nude self-timer Big Giant aircraft shelling of jacking off to fight a large dairy milk Actress promiscuous sex sex lewd lust With her sister Yinjiao obscene sexual secretion"
 Hmmm. Methinks s/he needs some professional help. Or a hooker. Heh. Or maybe s/he is a hooker!

Anyhoo … I've been working on a couple of personal projects (besides the garden) lately, as well as a small freelance graphic design project, and the combination of to-dos has been keeping me up at night. Last night (or, rather, this morning) I woke up at 12:33 a.m. After an hour I usually just go ahead and get up, but I forced myself not to move and I eventually did go back to sleep, finally. Lack of sleep never killed anyone, but it sure makes it harder to get things done during the day!

We have some rain coming in this weekend. I hope to get more things in the ground before that happens. I'm rethinking whether I should create all those raised beds or not. (Nine down, a million to go.) I might leave the area in the center of the garden flat, for corn and tomatoes, and make more raised beds at the lower end for the melons, squash and cukes. I have more seeds than I have room, but I think that's typical for a new gardener.

So the exercise plan for the next couple of days is a great big question mark. It will probably be too wet to work in the dirt tomorrow and Sunday, so I would guess I'll be gardening today. Maybe I'll get to walk between the raindrops the next couple of days.

Gardening – digging, hoeing, running the tiller, planting and chopping weeds – is great exercise, by the way. And the benefits go way beyond building muscles and burning calories. Perhaps I should rename this blog:

Knit. Run. RepEAT!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day!

Today's the day – actually every day's the day – to honor our Mother. And you thought Mother's Day wasn't until May 9. Hah!

Forty years ago when Earth Day began, I was less than two weeks from my first child's birth. Saving the planet was not on my radar, to tell you the truth. As a young wife and mother-to-be, I had other, more pressing issues.

As I've gotten older (and when you have a 40-year-old child, believe me you're old!), I've evolved into someone who at least makes some attempt to respect and preserve our environment. I'm not a zealot, and I could do much better. We all could, or there would be no need for Earth Day, right?

My husband and I watched Food, Inc. again last night. Using our resources wisely is one theme of the documentary, illustrated perfectly by Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms, whose credo is:

We are in the redemption business:
healing the land, healing the food,
healing the economy, and healing the culture.

At the end of the film, suggestions for eating better food pop up randomly on the screen. As we read them, my husband remarked, "I'm really proud of you. You do all that stuff!"

I don't do all of it, but I do what I can. And I could do much better. We all could.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Ahhh, blessed rain

My arms get a break today, as it rained last night and I'm declaring the garden is too wet to till. Heh.

Looks like it will be a very nice day all in all, though, and it'll be nice to repot seedlings at the garden center this afternoon.

Groundworks' setting is simply beautiful, a real showplace next to a river. Being next to the river caused major problems during the flood we had earlier this year, but looking at the site now you'd never know how much damage was done.

When I work there, my back is toward the river and I'm facing all the benches filled with flowers, herbs and vegetables. The landscaping plants – trees and shrubs – are past a greenhouse to my right, and the sales pavilion is to my left. I'm looking at beauty and listening to the river's song while I "work." It's quite an ideal way to spend an afternoon!

What I could do this morning is, um, take a walk, something I haven't done for several days now. My intention was to add gardening to the walking, but what's happened is that gardening has usurped walking. I'm burning plenty o' calories and using plenty o' muscles, but I run out of energy if I do both on the same day. Maybe later in the season I can manage it.

Right now I'm still in training. Heh.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Not enough hours

Since the weather has been so nice we've been spending all our time outside. In addition to working in the garden, my husband and I decided yesterday to clean out the larger of our two sheds.

This shed is where the lawnmower lives and it also had been a catch-all storage area when my husband's parents lived here. We found old patio umbrellas, sleds, lumber and other assorted (and useless) items stuffed above the rafters. We also found some good lumber for yet another project-to-come.

I also mowed our lawn and our neighbor's, who has pneumonia. He has been so helpful to us as a dog-sitter that I'd do just about anything to help him out; mowing the lawn was no big deal.

But it took time.

The time we're spending working outdoors is taking time away from, oh, laundry and dusting and cleaning floors. Time is limited today, as I have two meetings, one for lunch and one in the evening.

You know what, though? I wouldn't trade this time outdoors for any amount of tidying up the house. These beautiful days are few and far between here in the Middle of Nowhere. We tend to go from winter to summer with only a couple of springlike days in between. This spring has been amazing.

I think I will do some laundry, though. Dusting and mopping and even outdoor chores will be there when I get to them. Clean clothes require some effort!

Monday, April 19, 2010

The high point of spring

What says "spring" to you? Is it the first robin, the leafing trees, a shocking patch of creeping phlox? For me, it's gardening season.

There's something about gardening, particularly food gardening, that makes me believe in possibilities. I'm not sure why growing vegetables gives me this feeling more than growing flowers does, but there you go. I'm not nearly as excited seeing a marigold pop up through the dirt as I am a tomato or an onion or a cornstalk.

It'll be a while before we see cornstalks, but preparations have begun. My neighbor tilled the garden with his big tractor on Saturday while my husband and I were at a luncheon, and I wasted very little time getting  the baby Mantis tiller out Sunday to see how it would work out.

May I just say ... it worked very well!

I'm creating a series of raised beds, as I did for the garlic. There will be 32 altogether, and right now I'm an eighth of the way finished. The weather will be great all week – low- to mid-60s during the day – meaning it won't be too hot outside to complete the project by the weekend. Then I can plant some stuff. It's too early for tomatoes, but they're doing quite well in their little peat pots indoors. Now's the time for lettuce, cabbage, peas and potatoes, and I might actually be a little late with those. But you can't plant until the soil has been tilled and now that that's done, I'm anxious to get my hands dirty.

I'm not used to this kind of work. Sitting on one's ass in front of a computer monitor doesn't prepare one for the hard physical labor of shoveling and raking and hoeing, oh my, and it certainly doesn't prepare one's arm muscles for using a garden tiller. My biceps and shoulders ached all night. But the best way to get over it is to get back on the horse, so to speak, so I'll be out there again today.

Food was pretty decent this weekend. Because we had the luncheon on Saturday and dinner with friends last night, we really didn't eat any other meals. I'm reluctant to check the scale. I feel good and I don't want to be disappointed by that dratted number. So I'm staying as far away from it as possible ... in the garden.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday Quote Day

There are no secrets to success. 
It is the result of preparation, hard work
and learning from failure.
~ Colin Powell

Oh, how I wish there were a secret. Yesterday when I was channeling Oprah, I recalled the video she produced years and years ago, in which she said if there was a magic potion she would buy it, she would have it.

That's how I feel, too.

At least I have the hard work part down pat. I'd have to say I'm pretty good in the preparation department, too. Since failure (to lose weight) has been a part of my life for a good three years now, I'd have to say I'm not learning how to learn from it.

In AA we say that "acceptance is the answer to all my problems today." Perhaps this constant state of unacceptance about my body is blocking success. I'm concerned, however, that accepting me just the way I am will lead to even more weight gain. My general MO is that if a little is enough, then more must be better. Therefore if too much is okay, then how could a little more hurt? (Do you even have to ask how I ended up in AA? Heh.)

That premise is ridiculous, of course. I must continue to console myself that all this hard work – the gardening, the yard work, the five-mile walks, the normal daily routine of cleaning a house, cooking meals, doing laundry – is good for my heart, lungs, muscles and more.

So far it hasn't done much for my psyche. Or my waistline.

But we also say in AA that "this, too, shall pass." (Actually they don't put the commas in, but I think they should be there. Compulsive? Moi?) I might be dead when this, too, passes, but it's pretty much a given that one day, someday, my weight won't be a problem any longer.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

What's it going to take?

Probably I should just poke my eyes out, the better to blind oneself. Because getting on the scale, even if it's only for a mid-week check, was clearly the wrong thing to do this morning.

After a weekend out of town, I hopped on Monday morning to find I was down to my pre-New Year's weight. I breathed a small sigh of relief and redoubled my efforts – no way was I going to miss that daily five-mile walk, no way was I going to help myself to seconds, no way was I … well, you get the picture.

But for some reason, I thought it would be a good idea to check my progress this morning. Needless to say it was up. Again.

Perhaps it's three restaurant meals from Friday through Sunday catching up with me. Whatever it is, it begs the question: What's it going to take for me to, once and for all, finally accomplish this lifelong quest to weigh what a normal person my age and height weighs?

I'd hoped the additional outdoor spring activities added to the five-mile walks plus working part-time two afternoons a week (on my feet the whole time) would answer the question in a positive way.

I would be wrong about that.

Perhaps the question should be this: What's it going to take for me to quit obsessing about my weight.

Oprah? Are you there?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Uninspired, the redux

Again with the uninspired ... nothing's happening except hard physical labor, how boring is that?

After my walk yesterday (five miles, 88 minutes, yeah me!) I whacked some weeds and trimmed a huge limb off a dogwood tree. I hope I didn't do anything to kill the tree, but it was going to kill me every time I mowed under it and, frankly, as beautiful as dogwoods are I have this primal urge to live.

I took the limb off with a handsaw, we don't have a chainsaw. The chainsaw would have cut a good, oh, 45 minutes off the task. Zip, zip and you're done. Handsaw? Not so much.

I also trimmed three huge ugly shrubbery things that were buried under a mountain of snow for about two months this winter. They were quite misshapen but less than a day after their haircut, they're looking much better.

After I did all that outside work, I got my own hair cut and then fixed a delicious cream/goat cheese/mushroom sauce for pork medallions. Not low-calorie, but so delicious and it used ingredients that were needing to be used or tossed. I almost always opt for "use."

See? I wasn't lying. Uninspired, Day Two.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

ComPLETEly uninspired

I suppose if I were comPLETEly uninspired, I'd just skip today's post, though, right? Like the guy in Princess Bride, I'm mostly dead, not completely dead.

Aside: If you haven't seen Princess Bride, do go rent it. It's a classic, and you'll be quoting lines from it the rest of your life.

So yesterday I walked five miles in the morning, had some leftover soup for lunch, then walked to my neighbor's to borrow his mower. He took pity on me and my foot-tall grass and offered the loan of his awesome mower with a deck that's half again as wide as the one on my machine. Cut about an hour off my mowing time and did a great job with the grass. I don't even have to rake!

Today I'll do the trimming, then get a haircut, then have dinner, then do my regular Tuesday night volunteer gig at the prison. Those women help put things in perspective for me, and they always make me laugh, if you can imagine that. No matter what else I do or don't do, showing up at Alderson on Tuesday night is a good thing.

I'll also do my five-mile walk this morning. In fact, if I'm going to get everything else done, I'd better get moving! Ciao!

Monday, April 12, 2010

The booties ... and other random stuff

You can find the free! pattern here ...

Mama-to-be seemed delighted with them, and even wondered if her new daughter would even be able to wear them. I offered she might for about five minutes. They're incredibly adorable.

The weekend was good ... Ohio's spring is just as beautiful as West Virginia's has been, and I was surprised to see tons of creeping phlox creeping all over the place there, as mine has not yet begun to flower. Perhaps it doesn't get enough sun in its current location.

I'm so anxious to till and plant and work in the dirt. The universe is conspiring against me. The neighbor who tills the garden has some health problems and is seeing a doctor tomorrow, so he wasn't able to get the first pass done over the weekend, as he'd planned to do. A different neighbor is picking up the slack, but hasn't gotten to it yet and he's a lot busier than neighbor #1.

While I don't enjoy mowing as much as I enjoy gardening, the mowing still needs to be done. The mower's brakes went out last September and I turned the machine over to the mechanic at that time, figuring he'd have months to work on it. Of course he started a week ago, and the grass needs to be mowed, um, last week. Patience, grasshopper, patience.

Not my best virtue, and I figure the universe must know that or it wouldn't be throwing me so many curve balls.

Let's not talk about exercise or healthful eating today, as there was darned little of it over the weekend. It's that dance I do so well: Two steps forward, one step back.

Oh, well. Tomorrow is another day.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Friday Quote Day

The price of inaction is far greater
than the cost of making a mistake.
~ Meister Eckhart

I am so pressed for time this morning. We had no phone service most of yesterday and I've been playing catch-up ever since.

Today's quote refers directly to Massey Energy, the owner of the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia where 25 have perished and slim hopes are fading for four miners who are unaccounted for. The more I learn about Massey, the more I want a windmill in my back yard and solar panels on my roof.

Have a great weekend ... we're off to see the triplets! I'm taking some dear little hand-knit baby booties for their new little sister, who will be born this summer. Will try to post a photo next week.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Spring = busy

The weight of winter has truly lifted, meaning I'm spending lots o' time outdoors, doing lots o' things I haven't been able to do for a while. Things like raking dead leaves off the flower beds and pulling weeds and tilling, oh my.

Oh my, indeed: My arms are ready to drop off at the shoulder sockets. It's a wonder I can type.

I also have a tiny little part-time gig going on at our nearby garden center, where I have learned to repot "plugs" from tiny little pots into slightly larger ones. I can do about a thousand in an afternoon. The first day I did this the thermometer in the greenhouse read 120° F. I pretended I hadn't seen it and kept 'plugging' along. And I drank a lot of water.

Today and tomorrow are my garden-center days, so if I want to get my five-miler in and do some yardwork at Chez Moi, well, blogging will suffer. You'll get as tired of reading about how tired I am as I will of writing about it. Heh.

If you are the praying type, please add our mining families (and all mining families) to your lists. We are heartbroken over Monday's tragedy, and angry at powerful coal mine owners who skirt regulations and delay implementation of safety measures. The only time new safety legislation is introduced is when a disaster happens. Coal mining is on its way out; the question is not if, but when. Coal may be cheap fuel, but that price doesn't include the lives of those who die getting it out of these mountains.

Monday, April 5, 2010

No chocolate for you!

Well, for me, anyway.

There were no chocolate bunnies here in the Middle of Nowhere for Easter. We had a nice dinner – roasted pork tenderloin, fresh asparagus, boiled potatoes, sourdough bread and a yummy salad with spinach, strawberries, red onions, walnuts and goat cheese.

But no chocolate.

As I get older, I find chocolate has lost its charm, and I'm more interested in satisfying my sweet tooth with something citrus-y. I had a sliver of lemon meringue pie for dessert, which was delicious and enough.

Figuring out what 'enough' is seems to be the hard part of losing weight. What's enough exercise? How much is enough food? What happens when 'enough' turns into too much?

With too much exercise, you usually get hurt.

Hmmm. Same thing happens with too much food. Heh.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Hoppy Easter!

Friday Quote Day

Plant seeds of expectation in your mind;
cultivate thoughts that anticipate achievement.
Believe in yourself as being capable
of overcoming all obstacles and weaknesses.
~ Norman Vincent Peale

Today's quote seems so very appropriate as those of us in the Appalachians of the eastern U.S. begin digging and planting our gardens.

I started seedlings indoors in February, and when it dries out just a little bit more they're ready to pop into the ground. My husband has enjoyed watching me take care of my little baby plants; he says he takes great delight in my delight at watching their little green leaves sprout from the dirt.

Those little plants don't think about it. It is both a gift and a curse that humans have the ability to think and plan and achieve. If we didn't, we'd just go about our business, growing from infancy to infirmity with nary a thought of whether we're doing it 'right.'

We would, as Nike has so famously said, Just. Do. It.

Which is, I suppose, a pretty good way to approach a knitting project. A couple thousand yards of wool looks endless as you contemplate a future sweater. But to get from here to there, you have to methodically cast on and work the fiber one stitch at a time.

And it is, of course, an excellent way to approach a fitness routine. As Crash Davis said in Bull Durham, "Don't think, Meat. You'll only hurt the ball club."

[If you haven't seen Bull Durham, I highly recommend it. And since the MLB season is set to open next week, this is a perfect time to watch it.]

If we could get our heads and minds out of our approaches to working out, it would be so much simpler. We wouldn't have to fight with ourselves over whether to … we just would. There would be no thought of aching muscles or fatigue. We'd just get on with it, get it over with and move on to the next to-do on our mental lists.

Clearly, I'm not there yet. I have to gear up, mentally, for a run or a walk or a workout. My best mind-over-matter trick is that it won't be over until it starts. [This works with knitting, as well. I don't get to wear that handknit sweater if I don't cast on.]

For many people, the motivation to work out is that they will, eventually, look and feel better. [I think the two go hand-in-hand.] For me, workouts don't lead to weight loss, so I'm not looking or feeling better. I have to jump a higher hurdle to get started.

But if I don't get started, I won't get done.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

No foolin'

Well, it's the first of the month, my official weigh-in day.

I've gained four pounds since the first of the year, BUT … I've lost five in two weeks. (If you'll remember, I had a major freakout when I got on the scale a couple weeks ago. M@rla had to talk me down.)

Five pounds in two weeks. That's pretty amazing. And that's also a lot of walking, five miles almost every damned day between then and now.

I'm trying awfully hard not to be discouraged, but the fact is our bodies become accustomed to our activity level and it won't be long – next week, probably – before I'll have to add a mile, or add another activity, in order to continue the downward trend.

It's not that I don't have the time. I don't work outside my home and I don't have young children to care for. It's this: At my age (I'll be 59 soon), and at this weight, I don't have the energy to do much more than I'm already doing. My house is not falling apart, I manage to get dinner on the table every day, the bed is somewhat tidy and the floors – while not clean enough to eat on – are presentable.

I try to walk in the morning, and will continue to do so as the weather continues to warm up. But a morning walk, at times, wipes me out. And as the weather continues to improve, so the outdoor chores mount up. I will be planting and maintaining a twice-as-large vegetable garden this year and still have three acres to mow every week.

My hope is that at least the gardening will be enough extra activity to counteract the whole maintenance trend that certainly is right around the corner. And maybe, maybe by the end of the summer I'll have lost a few more pounds and gained a bit more energy.

I'm tired of fooling around with this weight issue. I want it to be done, over with, finis, kaput! I've been working on it for almost 50 years. Enough is enough.