Thursday, September 30, 2010

Hello, Nicole

Here in southern West Virginia, Nicole is steadily dumping rain and more rain on our parade (I'm not complaining, we really need the rain). Thankfully we're west of the winds which are whipping through the mid-Atlantic. It looks like today will be the soaker we've been wishing for during our recent period of extreme dryness.

Which is unfortunate, really, because I'd like to take another walk outdoors today. Yes, you read that correctly, I said another walk. In the past week I've walked three days: a five-miler, a one-miler (cut short by a hypoglycemic attack) and a three-miler.

I have it in my mind to try to walk at least three miles a day, but that plan might have to begin tomorrow. And what's better than starting A Plan on the first of the month? Who knows, though … there might be a break in the action later this afternoon. I'll just have to be flexible about the timing.

We had a simple but delicious dinner last night, a black bean soup with rice, tomatoes and a little bit of sausage. I'm keeping the calorie count below 1200 and not feeling hungry – so far, so good.

My energy level seems to be bouncing back. I'm still going to bed (and waking up) early, early, but I'm not napping during the day and I have the reserves to do most of what needs to be done around here. I'm making pizza for dinner tonight, which is a pretty labor-intensive morning project (I make the dough and the mozzarella from scratch). Last month that wouldn't have seemed like much work at all. Thinking about it now, though, I might – if it's still raining – take that nap.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


10,608: the approximate number of stitches remaining before our new granddaughter's blanket will be off the needles.

Yes, we're doing a little knitting here along with the alleged lard-busting.

I can only give a guesstimate of the stitch count because I'm adding stitches as I complete each round. It's truly the most depressing kind of knitting, where you start with a few stitches and, many rounds later, end up with a million. Then again, I'm not sure if casting on a million and decreasing down to a few is any better. What if you made a mistake and cast on a million and ONE?!?!?

It's a process. In this case, though, it's also a product and while I know our wee girl has plenty o' warmies, I'd still like her to be able to primp in her handknit blanket, oh, sometime before she starts school.

In other news, I went back to my volunteer gig at Alderson FPC last night. I haven't been there since Dad died and I wasn't there the week he was visiting either. Dad loved those girls, loved that I was adding something positive to their lives (I take an AA meeting inside the prison). I, of course, shared with them his love and concern for them.

Volunteers are not allowed to give anything to or receive anything from the inmates. I was surprised to find a sympathy card in the weekly packet we volunteers use for registration. A couple of the women had gone straight to the warden and worked some magic to have that card, signed by dozens of loving, caring women, show up in that packet.

They may be criminals (or they may be incarcerated due to bad laws, bad lawyers or bad boyfriends), but they have a lot of heart and soul. I wish I could show the card to my dad.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

It all comes down to this

D's comment on yesterday's post ended with this: "I guess we know better, but it is so hard to do better."

And that pretty much says it all. But you know me, I'll say more anyway.

Yesterday was another starting-over Monday at Chez Diets-a-Lot. Since my BlackBerry is in my pocket all the time anyway, I decided to use a calorie-tracking app to record my intake. Lord knows there's been no expenditure of calories around here lately.

I ate 1193 calories yesterday, including two Tootsie Pops. I could have spent that 120 calories much more wisely, I'm sure, but I'm not one to waste food (are Tootsie Pops food?). Like a squirrel preparing for the winter, I have a month's supply of them in the cupboard. Savoring one mid-afternoon is still kind of comforting.

And maybe this is the secret. If I allow room for something that was formerly forbidden when I was trying to lose weight, maybe the whole plan won't come off the rails a couple weeks from now.

Although, seriously, while I wasn't tracking calories this year I also wasn't eating out of control, especially when the garden was producing. (I still have tomatoes, albeit tiny ones. Perfect for topping angel hair pasta, garnished with fresh basil and a whisper of Parmesan. That's tonight's dinner, along with some grilled chicken. 370 calories, approximately.) I was eating reasonable portions of healthful food and hoping it would result in weight loss. And it did, just not as much weight lost as I hoped for.

But I don't want to go backward. I gained two pounds over the past two and a half weeks. Isn't it amazing how weight comes back so much faster than it goes away? It'll be Thanksgiving before I'm back to where I was at the end of August. Sometimes I wish I had a different job, this losing/gaining/losing weight is getting old.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The legacy

One look at my dad's photo in the previous post and you can easily see that part of my dad's legacy to his children is a weight problem. My mother left it to us, as well. My brother started gaining in his 50s, my sister has been chubby from childhood (and is now morbidly obese) and me … well, both of you know all too well my struggles with lard.

Both of my parents' health problems can be traced to obesity. My mother died four years after she learned she had colo-rectal cancer, which we now know can be a result of poor nutrition. She was a yo-yo dieter her entire life, I think, at least from my earliest memories. I was mortified in junior high when one of my friends asked if my mother was pregnant. The fat-lady fashion back then was the tent dress; who could blame my friend for wondering?

Dad's problems were a little more complicated, but I'm pretty sure he wouldn't have had knee replacements (which eventually became infected, putting him into septicemic shock, leading to a host of cardiac and respiratory problems) if he'd been able to maintain a normal weight. His 32-year career in the Ohio Air National Guard required him to do just that. But he retired when he was 50, and at that point all bets were off.

I'll be 60 next year. It's been a good 10 years since my weight has been in the "normal" category. I was "obese" when I ran those three half-marathons in 2007 and 2008.

I try to be realistic about my weight-loss progress, and have tried very hard this year to accept that losing a pound a month was okay (instead of a pound a week). I'm afraid to check the scale after the last couple weeks of eating for comfort. I am my father's daughter, after all.

Dad said he'd drive anywhere in Florida to see me cross a finish line in a race. He won't get to do that, but I'd still like to run one in Florida and I'd like it to be a full marathon and I'd like it to be next year. I have a lot of work to do before that happens.

Every journey begins with a single step. Time to start walking.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday Quote Day

When you are sorrowful
look again in your heart,
and you shall see that in truth
you are weeping for that
which has been your delight.
Kahlil Gibran

It's been two weeks since my dad died. I hope I never forget his last phone call, just a couple hours prior to his death. We chit-chatted for a couple minutes, then he said, "I love you, Sweetie," and hung up, and I thought all was well. When I got a call a couple hours later from his wife's cousin (who was traveling with them), I thought she was going to tell me they were in North Carolina already. Instead, they hadn't made it out of West Virginia.

I've been to one memorial service, in Ohio, and will go to another in Florida next month. The one in Ohio was perfect. Dad was a private pilot and an Ohio Air National Guard retiree, and lots of friends from both groups (and some were part of both groups) were there, sharing laughter and memories. My son spoke beautifully about his grandfather, as well.

I find myself eating junk food and not wanting to cook. Tootsie Pops (my younger granddaughter calls them "lollies") are my current favorite meal. I've taken one walk, a five-miler, which was pretty ambitious and wiped me out for the rest of the day. I have no energy beyond what has to be done early in the morning. I spend the afternoons on the couch and I go to bed early in the evening. No wonder I'm not sleeping well, eh?

My husband, a retired psychiatrist, says 'this, too, shall pass' and assures me I'm responding normally to one of the most difficult situations I'll ever face. I realize our parents are supposed to predecease us. But Dad had been doing so well, and he just knew that when he got home (to Florida) the doctors would be able to fix him right up again.

I guess we should all consider this post a placeholder until the real Debbi returns. In the meantime, don't take anyone for granted. Let your loved ones know how much they mean to you. Spend time with people who enrich your life. Like this guy:

Sunday, September 12, 2010

I'm here, but not really

This is so hard to write.

My dad and his wife were here all last week, and we had a wonderful visit. I'm very close to my father, and have been all my life. Because of his age and failing health, I wasn't sure he'd ever be able to make the trip to my home again. That didn't really matter (who doesn't want to go to Florida now and again?), but it thrilled me that he made it back to West Virginia.

He was born here, in Huntington, 80 years ago last April. And, as it turned out, he died here, too.

Friday morning they had declined my offer to fix breakfast for them, saying instead they'd like to find a little local diner and have brunch down the road. They said their good-byes and were heading to North Carolina for a couple of days, expecting to get back to Florida tomorrow.

They found a spot to eat, had a meal and got back to their RV, where Daddy sat down, looked one last time at his wife and stopped breathing.

The rescue squad tried to revive him, as did the Emergency Department at Princeton (WV) Community Hospital. But he was already gone.

In real life, when someone learns of a death in the family, the word spreads through various channels - pastors announce it, colleagues tell colleagues, many phone calls are made, others take care of sharing bad news.

In the blogosphere, no one can post for you. No one else has your password, no one can log in in your place. You have to share sad news yourself.

I can think of nothing sadder than this.

I don't know when I'll be back. It might be my next sleepless night. It might be a while. I just don't know. But I thought I should at least let you know what happened, and why I haven't been here lately.

Sent from my U.S. Cellular BlackBerry® smartphone

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Friday Quote Day on Thursday

It is Thursday, isn't it?

Begin to see yourself
as a soul with a body
rather than a body with a soul.
~ Wayne Dyer

I do believe this is what's been happening to me this year, and especially this summer.

Since the age of 11 (which happened for me in 1962), I've focused on my imperfect body, struggling to change it, remake it, whittle it, improve it, even – at times – erase it.

To be honest, I still feel like that sometimes, wishing I looked different, better, thinner. But it's not driving my life these days and for that, I'm very grateful.

My epiphany may have started during the Obama presidential campaign, when my husband and I hosted several parties and I truly enjoyed preparing and eating fun food. It had been a very long time since I'd done that. I even served low-fat versions of traditional dishes during holiday meals, hoping no one would notice. And sugar? The stuff was banned from my pantry. I rarely ate sugar. For one five-year period in the 1990s, I abstained from sugar completely.

No more. It's true what 'they' say: A smaller portion of real food is more satisfying than a normal portion of fake food. A cereal-sized bowl of low-fat, sugar-free ice cream equals one scoop of the real thing. And here's a revelation: Watermelon tastes better than either version of ice cream.

Bottom line? I'm not afraid to eat any more. Oh, what a feeling!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The plans, they are a changin'

There will be no knitting, running, reaping or terribly interesting eating around the Middle of Nowhere today. There will be cleaning and tidying and decluttering. And a trip to town thrown in, just for good measure.

September is slamming me. And it's only the 1st!

I'm leaving tomorrow for a visit with family in North Carolina. My dad and his wife changed their schedule and will be here Sunday instead of Monday, so I'll be coming back early Sunday to make sure all is ready for their arrival.

They'll be here until Friday, when they will continue meandering south and my husband and I will be heading to Kentucky for a weekend retreat. This is something we've done every year for at least a dozen years, maybe more, and we always look forward to it.

That's two weekends and one week, already scheduled to the hilt. The third weekend is the state convention for the WV Federation of Democratic Women. I'm president of our county club, so I guess I have to be there. The following Saturday is a knitting event in Roanoke, VA and our county's Democratic picnic. And I need to be at both. Good thing the picnic doesn't start until 4 p.m.!

We also have a wedding to go to October 2. But I digress. Heh.

I'd like to think September would be the month to reboot my walking/running program. It's theoretically cooler (although we're still getting up to the 90s during the day), there's not nearly as much to do in the garden or kitchen and I could use some exercise. In 2007 and 2008 I was training for half-marathons in September. I feel like a real slug thinking about that other Debbi, the one who packed her running shoes and Garmin wherever she went.

But, as with most everything, it is what it is, and it'll be sweet memories before I know it. This year has absolutely flown by! Pretty soon we'll be pulling out wooly sweaters and searching for the mitten basket and knitting hats because we can't find one we like. Wonder what the trendy new project will be this fall? (Remember the poncho? I actually love ponchos, they're so forgiving and so-so comfortable. I should just go ahead and wear them and not care if people point and laugh.)

One plan that's not changing is this: We're having an early Thanksgiving dinner this year, on the Thursday my dad will be at my house. I'm so very, very grateful he'll be visiting me. This is something that, two years ago when he was in a coma for eight days, I thought might never happen again. No matter what else is keeping me busy, I'm going to slow down and enjoy the time he and his wife will be here with my husband and me. You can only do things a day at a time, and I plan to make the most of it.