Wednesday, June 30, 2010

It's a miracle!

Doesn't this look like you could have bought it in the produce section?

I needed an onion to saute with some other vegetables for dinner last night. I've been pulling onions for a month now, but they've never looked like store-bought onions before.

Some of you are, I'm sure, tired of my gardening adventures, and for that I apologize. I'm not sure I'll ever get tired of putting a seed (or, in the onion's case, a set) in the ground and a few weeks later pulling food out. And it's good, healthy food, too. The waste from homegrown food goes into the compost bin and back to enriching the soil, not to the landfill or burn barrel.

And since this blog is supposed to be about my waist, I must tell you that garden chores (and other activities) kept me so busy yesterday I didn't eat a thing until dinner. That's rather unprecedented for me. I'm a three-squares-a-day kinda gal, as a rule.

I'm still loving the BlackBerry. I've cut my morning online time in half, giving me more time to play in the dirt. Pretty good trade-off, if you ask me. One of these days I'll have time to go for a walk again. Or even a run. I'm still maintaining my 5.5-pound loss for the year (snort!), and will weigh in tomorrow to see if I maybe, maybe have lost a pound a month for 2010.

Hey, it's better than gaining, right?

Monday, June 28, 2010

A picture is worth a thousand words

So this blog post must be pretty valuable. Heh.
The first two zucchini! They were delicious!
One of the squash rows, including butternut, Jack o' Lanterns and cushaw.
A baby spaghetti squash
Possibly my favorite vegetable: A row of edamame.
The first evidence of a Halloween pumpkin.
Tomatoes! Soon!
Cantaloupe! Not as soon as tomatoes!
The herb garden.
The garlic harvest. Some were huge, others were tiny.
Thank you for indulging me in an almost-wordless post this morning. I gotta go work in the garden before it gets too hot.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Friday Quote Day

Happiness is not a reward – it is consequence.
Suffering is not a punishment – it is a result.
~ Robert Green Ingersoll 

How's that for turning one's thinking inside out and upside down?

I don't know about you, but I nearly always think of consequences as negatives, and results as positive. And certainly happiness is positive and suffering is negative.

But here's this Ingersoll guy suggesting exactly the opposite.

I have some more thinking to do about this one, but so far I like it. In general, I like being challenged to see the world in a different light. Life isn't black or white, it's a thousand shades of grey. Just because we've always done something a particular way doesn't necessarily make it the best way, does it? (I'm thinking of YOU, U.S. health "care" system! Because I went to a PNHP meeting last night.)

What say you?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

I may never eat again

Drug addicts frequently are stick-thin. Who has time to eat when you spend all your time looking for dope? And who has money for food when you give it all to the dope man? (Oh, the hits I'm gonna get from this post!)

Well, now I know why BlackBerry devices are, in some circles, called CrackBerry. I'm pretty good about eating something in the morning, but forget lunch and who cares about dinner?

My husband cares about dinner, that's who, so I had to back away from the phone and actually prepare food yesterday evening. (Grass-fed beef burgers mixed with pesto, homemade sourdough sandwich buns and a pasta salad dressed with lemon vinaigrette. With fresh peas from my garden!) As soon as the kitchen was cleaned up, though, I was back on the couch searching for apps.

SparkPeople has a BlackBerry app, which I've downloaded but haven't started using. I signed up for SP a long time ago and used it for a while. I soon discovered that I dislike being boxed in to a particular menu plan; it works better for me as simply a place to record what I've eaten. And because it was web-based, and I used to have dial-up (heh), I never used it. I found and bought a standalone program which I really like, but also haven't used in a while.

Research indicates that journaling – writing down what you eat and when you eat it – is among the most positive actions one can take to lose weight and then to maintain that loss. I've journaled off and on since 1973 (that's the first year I joined Weight Watchers), and found it very helpful.

At times, though, it's just One. More. Chore.

Maybe with the SP app, I'll be more likely to record my intake, which might, maybe, possibly lead to a reduction of poundage. I have maintained a 5.5-pound loss for about a month now, which is pretty miraculous. Because I haven't been journaling, though, I'm not sure why I've been able to maintain it. Embracing my inner geek might lead to some answers.

Maybe even a solution.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Genius!

I am not disappointed with the new phone, nor with using it as a modem to connect to the internet at higher speeds. In fact, I'm thrilled! The Genius feature on iTunes works for the first time in more than a year. It still takes quite a while to download a song, but the time has been cut significantly – probably 75 percent faster.

You might be wondering what this has to do with fitness or weight loss. Not a damned thing. But it makes me happy, and that's something working on fitness or weight loss hasn't done lately. Heh.

I suppose I could argue with myself that this new technology is very helpful, since it's keeping me busy and out of the pantry. I sure don't want to snack when I can surf the web in the palm of my hand! My phone has a GPS system on it. Genius! It takes videos as well as still photos. Genius! It goes to sleep when I do (actually, it goes to sleep when I tell it to). Genius!

And it makes it possible for me to create way-cool playlists from my music* collection, so I don't have to continually hit the "next" button on the iPod while I'm driving.

Genius!

*The phone also is a music player, but I'm not interested in adding music to it right now. Would I then have to buy a speaker system? This new technology is endlessly fascinating. And spendy. Heh.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Curves ...

No, not the women's exercise place. And not my zaftig body, either.

I'm talking writing about the learning curve associated with the Blackberry Curve. My new Blackberry Curve, thankyouverymuch!

My four-year-old flip phone died a couple months ago and I've been cell phone-free ever since. Well, not completely. When I needed one, I grabbed my husband's two-year-old flip phone.

In other words, our contract with AT&T is up and we both needed new phones. Yesterday was the day.

(Yesterday was supposed to be Sam's Club shopping day, but the cell phone excursion took too long.)

Y'all have endured my endless bitching about dial-up for years, and I appreciate it. One has to bitch about something, after all, and dial-up is an easy target.

Anyway. We chose U.S. Cellular based on recommendations from several friends in this area. I bitched to the salesman about my dial-up service and he gave me a couple of options. But, seriously? All he really had to do was dangle a Smartphone in front of me to get me to use a cell phone as a modem, rather than a wireless card.

There was some concern about whether their software would work on my Mac (I don't have an Intel-based processor), but a call to tech support confirmed that it should.

And it does!

And, we're actually going to save money every month, and we have faster internet access to boot. (It's not lightning-fast, like my daughter's in Nashville, but it's pretty amazing after years of dial-up.) The true test will be whether the Genius feature works on iTunes, and how much time it takes to download a song. That used to be at least an hour-long exercise. I'll be happy with 10 minutes. (It takes 10 seconds at my daughter's; I don't expect that to happen, based on performance so far.)

I am One. Happy. Girl. Curves and all.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Friday Quote Day

We cannot solve our problems
with the same thinking
we used when we created them.
~ Albert Einstein

Following up on yesterday's rant with the most perfect quote.

Just think if we'd listened to those crazy hippies back in the '70s, and put up solar panels and windmills and moved forward with hydroelectric power. Where would we be today?

I can almost guarantee we wouldn't be hand-washing pelicans in Dawn dishwashing liquid.

Relating the quote to the quest for better health, greater fitness and fewer pounds, what can we do differently to further these goals? What haven't we tried? How can we open our minds to new possibilities?

If you've been reading this blog (or the previous one) for a while, you know how much I dislike weight training, purported to be one of the keys to weight loss. I flirted with Jillian Michaels' 30-Day Shred for a little bit earlier this year, and then dropped it like a hot potato once I got busy in the garden.

(Actually, I've dropped just about all intentional fitness activities since I got busy in the garden! Astonishingly, I've also dropped some poundage. Hmmm.)

Which leads me to believe that for me, for now, not focusing on weight loss (and all it's supposed to take in order to accomplish it) is one step toward the solution.

Is this the same as accepting what is? I've heard for decades, beginning with a get-your-shit-together seminar in those crazy '70s, that accepting what is is the first step in changing it. Perhaps I've never fully embraced the theory.

Honestly, this spring has been a heaping opportunity of busy-ness, the garden is only the beginning. I have a tiny part-time job (I hesitate to call it that, it's so much fun) two afternoons a week, the garden needs daily maintenance, harvesting has begun, the lawn needs mowed again just about the time I finish it, I'm paying more attention to the state of my home's cleanliness, we've traveled a bit and had a delightful houseguest … who has time to think about fitting in a fitness run?

Well, I guess I have time to think about it, but I sure don't have time to do it! Creative thinking – and action – will lead me to a new place, one of acceptance or one of change.

Or maybe one of something I haven't yet thought about.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Three Rs: Reduce, reuse, recycle

I had to throw that little mini-post up yesterday evening so I wouldn't forget it. Two, two, two posts in one day! That makes up for a couple weeks of no posts at all, right? Heh.

Seriously, though, Jen has it right: Reducing the amount of oil we use will, in the long run, make a huge difference in the quality of our lives. We did this in the '70s during the gasoline shortage. Lines at gas stations were blocks long, prices were high and supplies were limited. We learned how to do more with less in so many ways.

One of the more controversial results of that energy crisis was the reduction in the highway speed limit from 70 or 65 to 55 miles per hour. As I recall, it was a strictly enforced law – the state police didn't give you any wiggle room, as they seem to do now. It was, of course, eventually modified and then repealed, and states were once again given control over how fast drivers could navigate their roads.

If you do a Google search for "55 mph speed limit," you'll get arguments from all directions about whether lowering driving speed does any good. I happen to believe it does, and there appears to be research to back it up. The Heritage Foundation (naturally) takes the opposite tack.

This being the time of year when we generally drive more (vacations, day trips, chauffering out-of-school kids to games, pools, play dates), let me suggest that you try it for yourself. Especially on a long trip, driving 55 mph saves a great deal. My husband and I drove from our home in West Virginia to my dad's in Florida a couple of years ago and never let the speedometer go above 55. As I recall, we added between four and six miles per gallon.

On short trips that doesn't seem like much. But a 900-mile trip? Pretty significant. Yes, it took longer to get there, but we weren't on a schedule and we weren't in a hurry. At one point an antique Volkswagen passed us! I stayed in the right lane and hopefully didn't piss anyone off. Do I still drive 55? Sadly, no. But now that I've written about it, I'm making a commitment to do better.

The bigger picture, though, is that our response to the 1970 oil shortage was to find more oil. The latest disaster in the Gulf is not the first, nor will it be the last. We must learn to depend on less oil and less on oil. It's. Just. That. Simple.

One of the things I did very recently was hang a clothesline. I'm not drying everything outdoors, but most everything. And what I put in the dryer goes in for a limited time. (My dryer has a sensor that shuts itself off when it "thinks" the clothes are dry. I'm just not going to use that setting any longer.) The amount of energy I've used drying clothes is staggering. No more.

My friend Elora, who commented on yesterday's post (and suggested we all e-mail the White House to encourage President Obama to emphasize conservation – done!), has a sign in her office (and probably also in her heart) that she absolutely lives by. You may have seen it, but have you lived it? She has, it works, and I admire her greatly for it. I try to do the same, and hope you will, too.

Use it up,
Wear it out,
Make it do, or
Do without!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Required reading

The oil spill in the Gulf will impact our lives for years to come, possibly decades. Possibly a lifetime. For a great post on some little things we can do to help, please read this. Thanks, Jen!

These are a few of my favorite (garden) things

The Blogger gods were smiling on me this morning. I have a lot of trouble uploading pix for the blog, which is why it's such a boring blog to look at. For some reason today, I was able to upload five photos in no time flat! And I also just e-mailed a photo, something that normally takes a long, long time, in less than 30 seconds! Thank you, Blogger, and thank you, Gmail, and thank you suddenly speedy internet access.

What are these photos, you might ask? Well, I took Anne's advice from yesterday's comments and did something I love – worked in the garden and then took pictures of all the stuff that's growing. I also harvested some lettuce and spinach to add to the grilled chicken salad we had for dinner last night.

The first photo is Future Hummus. This is what a chickpea (or garbanzo bean) plant looks like:
Future Hummus
 Next is Future Pesto (among other things). The garlic is not yet ready to harvest, but I'm getting anxious to see what it looks like! Growing garlic is a fine example of delayed gratification.
Future Pesto. And Other Stuff.
This is future Pico de Gallo. Mmmmmmm. There are tons of tomatoes on my plants, and I can almost watch them grow taller. I suppose one day I'll take it for granted that when I put a tomato plant in the ground it will actually produce tomatoes, but I'm still new at this, and delighted every time I see a new tomato baby.
Future Pico de Gallo
I know this looks like a snow pea, but it's actually a developing English pea. I haven't found any snow peas yet. I can't wait to eat some freshly shelled peas.
English Peas
Finally, this is what makes it all grow, this and the rain we've had lately.
Sunrise, June 16, 2010
I hope the combination of heat and moisture doesn't produce tomato blight, as it did last year. So far the only problem I have is some bean rust on the cranberry bean plants. I've treated it once and will do so again, but I might have to pull some of the plants.

On another note, I got on the scale this morning and have lost 1.5 pounds this month. I'm sure I just jinxed myself. That's a total of 5.5 pounds this year; if you're coming here for weight-loss inspiration, you've come to the wrong place. But I think I might qualify for some kind of Perseverance and Tenacity Award, don't you?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The blahs

I expected a letdown after my delightful guest left, but I didn't expect it to last this long. Sigh.

I spent yesterday morning with an old-fashioned lawn edger and yesterday afternoon with the vacuum cleaner, both tasks designed to make me sweat. Unfortunately, they were both pretty mindless activities which did nothing for my mood.

Grrr.

Perhaps I should channel Scarlett O'Hara: After all, tomorrow is another day!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Not ready ...

for her (my granddaughter) to go home.

for "vacation" to end.

for this heat and humidity.

for three more months of it.

for a marathon, or even a half-marathon, or even a 5-K!

Of all of the above, the only one I can do something about is the last. My granddaughter had to go home, as her summer is full of plans. Visiting me was the kick-off event! (And it was a wonderful visit, one we hope to repeat many times in the future.) Vacations don't last forever: bills need to be paid, laundry needs to be done, grass needs to be mowed – you know the drill.

We can never control the intensity of the weather, nor can we reduce the amount of time we have to endure it. As the young folks say, it is what it is.

That leaves me with training. I've been wishing, hoping, thinking and dreaming about running a lot lately. Summer is a sucky time to start training, but hey, it is what it is. If I'm going to run a fall marathon, or even a winter one in Florida, there's no time like the present to start training. The one thing that has gotten me off my butt and into my running shoes on a regular basis is a race.

Whether I actually run one this year or not, I'm going to act as if. I know what to do. Knowing and doing are two different things. It's time to do.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Home again, and …

delighted to be here!

Having my granddaughter here is wonderful. She's already ridden on a tractor, climbed a tree and bought strawberries from one of our Amish neighbors. That was in her first hour.

Last night she decided my yarn closet needed organizing, so that will be an ongoing project while she's here.

I doubt if I'll be around the blogosphere much this week. Life as I know it will return to normal next Monday.

Darn!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Big Blog Break

I'm heading west again, and this time let's hope there are no weather-related incidents. Last time I went to the Nashville area they had a 500-year flood. The time before that, my home area had the second huge snowfall of the season. The time before that (although I didn't go to N'ville), my home area had the first huge snowfall of the season.

No matter where you are or when you go, weather happens. I'd rather it be mild, benign, gentle weather this time, thankyouverymuch.

This is a good time to take a short trip. I've straw-mulched most of the garden to keep the weeds somewhat at bay. Nothing needs to planted and nothing is ready to harvest. I'm looking forward to seeing lots of progress after a few days away. (Garden update: Currently, three of the tomato plants have flowers, and one has little baby tomatoes on it. I've picked what few radishes there were, and replanted those. Beets might be ready when I return, they're doing well. I'm not so good at growing greens, but the spinach has finally decided to grow and looks great.)

Not sure how much blogging time I'll have upon my return, as I'm bringing my oldest grandchild home with me for a few days. She's a city girl, so I'm looking forward to showing her what a slower pace looks like. No malls, unless you count the little Amish dry-goods store a couple miles down our road. No restaurants – fast-food isn't so fast if you have to drive 12 miles to pick up your order.

We'll bake bread and go fishing and work in the garden and at the garden center and make something with fresh strawberries, which the Amish sell this time of year.

Anyhoo … if you don't hear from me for a while, I haven't dropped off the face of the earth. I'm just a little busy, happily so! Hope you are, as well.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Mmmm, lemons

If I lived in the tropics, I would most definitely have a lemon tree. In the past couple weeks I've bought and used two big bags of lemons, and if I weren't going out of town I'd be buying more today. Lemons have become the new garlic for me.

When I was at my daughter's in late April/early May, she made an outstanding vinaigrette, a simple mixture of olive oil and lemon juice that dressed the salad in diamonds instead of rhinestones. Last night I attempted to recreate it from memory, and succeeded beyond my wildest hopes.

Lemon Vinaigrette
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tblsp. sugar
freshly ground salt
freshly ground pepper
Whisk together and toss with greens. Delish!

Then again, maybe it was the greens. I used romaine, spinach, basil, parsley, chives, green onions, radishes and chives.

No, it was definitely the lemon vinaigrette.

I've noticed as I've gotten, ahem, older, that if given a choice of something citrusy-sweet or something chocolatey-sweet, more often than not I want the citrus. Do you lose your taste for chocolate – for me, once a daily food group – as you age?

I have a lime tree, started and nurtured from seed by a friend and given to me almost two years ago. This year the limes are plentiful, and I'm anxious to try substituting limes for lemons. I think I might also try planting a few lemon seeds. It'll take a few years, but what a luxury to be able to just go pick a lemon any time I needed/wanted one.

Another question: Do we always want the thing we don't have? I try to want what I do have; it's so much easier to not yearn my life away.

But I still want a lemon tree. Heh.