Thursday, June 30, 2011

Cute, but potentially deadly

No, not me. I've never had the cutting edge it takes to be called deadly. This guy who wandered into the garden center yesterday afternoon qualifies, however.

He parked himself under a cart full of potting soil, the soil I was using to move Black Pearl Peppers and Dragon Wing Begonias into larger containers. He was acting funny, very subdued. He was moving slowly and once he found his shady spot under the cart he decided to camp there. And, of course, raccoons are nocturnal and he was out strolling in the middle of the afternoon! That alone was enough to make us all cautious.

I moved all my supplies to another potting bench and even got a new bale of soil to work from. We warned customers who wanted to check out annuals displayed near his spot, and we workers were all wary and watchful when we were in his vicinity. I didn't even clean up my mess, and I never leave the potting bench a mess when I'm done working for the day.

Raccoons are definitely cute, with their little handlike feet and distinctive masks. We all went around trying to remember the lyrics to the Beatles' "Rocky Raccoon." Everyone who works there found a reason to wander over to check on him, several times, and it was hard for me to concentrate on work that takes almost no concentration at all.

I left around 4 p.m. and he was still in his spot. Three hours later I got a text message from the owner: Rocky had bitten my co-worker. She was walking out of a greenhouse and didn't notice that he'd moved out from under the soil cart. He attacked her swiftly, biting her shin. At the hospital, she was given eight injections containing the most up-to-date rabies treatment available. I got a call later with more details.

The E.R. doctor decided to be safe and go ahead and treat my co-worker for rabies. Our tiny local hospital just happened to have the treatment on hand; most hospitals don't stock it because it's rarely needed and is very expensive. But there have been a few cases of rabies in southern West Virginia this year, including one death in the county just south of us, so the medicine was readily available.

The raccoon was destroyed and will be tested for rabies today. As much as I like animals, I can't say I'm sorry he won't be there when I go to work today.

We spend a lot of time enjoying nature around here. What southern West Virginia lacks in Starbucks, multiplexes and Target stores we make up for in rivers, ponds and woods. But nature can be deadly, or at the least, scary. I see a snake almost every day, and pull a tick off myself or my dog at least once a week. I even saw a bobcat once, a long time ago, and we've had black bear sightings on our road.

This incident, along with all the crazy weather-related crises the world has experienced recently, reminds me that when it's Man vs. Nature, Nature has the upper hand.

And what does all this have to do with knitting, running, reaping or eating? Not a damned thing. Heh.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Random thoughts

  • As a progressive, liberal, left-leaning officer of my county's Democratic women's club, I'm truly honored that @GOPWatch is now following me on Twitter. Heh.
  • To eat or not to eat? That is the question. Russ and Jeff suggest adopting the lifestyle (including a meal plan) of the person you want to be (weight-wise, of course, because who isn't already the person they really want to be? HAH!) My weight-reduction method has always been to reduce calories to a starvation level. Lately I haven't been choosing either path consciously, but have been eating reasonable portions of healthful food (how many times have you read that?). And slowly, ever so slowly, I continue to gain weight. I'm baffled.
  • Am I the last person in America to read The Help? I'm listening to it on my iPod, actually, and can't wait for the next chapter, and the next, and the next. I'm too young (I hardly ever get to say that!) to really remember the civil rights disturbances of the early '60s. I graduated high school in 1969 and was much more aware of Vietnam later in the '60s than of Jackson, Mississippi when I was 12. My husband's family (he's eight years older than I) had "help." My how times have changed.
  • It's a beautiful morning here in southern West Virginia. I have to get milk from the Amish farm at 9 and work at the garden center from noon-ish to three- or four-ish. That leaves enough time to get a five-miler in this morning or to weed part of the garden. Decisions, decisions. Yes, I guess I could go weed the garden now. But I'd rather write random thoughts this early in the morning.
  • Every once in a while it hits me hard that my father will never be calling, that I can't send him pictures of my garden, that he isn't here any more to ask about family history. His death last September was sudden and unexpected. I'm so glad he knew how much I loved him.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

And the winner is ...

me!

Well, I am at least one winner, there will be more.

Anna and Mark are giving away Egyptian onions. Today's the last day to leave a comment on this post to be entered in the first drawing.

A couple days ago they added an additional opportunity to win a box of onions and I was the lucky winner! I've never grown Egyptian onions, but I've already harvested my garlic and those empty beds are waiting for something to be planted in them.

So go on over and try to win some onions, if you're the gardening type. (U.S. only.)

They've inspired me to come up with some kind of giveaway. It's difficult choosing a single item that would appeal to knitters, runners, reapers and eaters, so I might have to have multiple contests. In order to get the ball rolling, I'll announce the initial prize next Tuesday, July 5. (I work better when I'm on deadline.)

I walked four miles early this morning, and am so glad I got it done first thing. It's in the low 90s now, and it's hard to even stick my nose outdoors, let alone expend any energy. Severe storms will be rolling through in the next hour or so, kicking the temperature back down into the 70s.

Hope you're having a good week, wherever you are.

Quickly …

I'd like to get out and walk this morning, before it gets too hot. It's supposed to rain, rain, rain later (it's Tuesday, so it's going to rain), which is another reason to walk now. (As for the Tuesday-rain connection, I volunteer at Alderson Federal Prison on Tuesday evenings, and three out of the past five have been rainy/stormy enough to close the compound.)

Didn't walk yesterday, even though I'd planned to. I ended up with three consecutive rest days. Not three slacker days, mind you. Rest days. Heh.

I did laundry and a little gardening yesterday, picking enough lettuce, cabbage leaves, basil, peas and onions for a nice salad topped with grilled chicken and feta. There was even one tomato to share between the two salad bowls. I love free food, especially when I grow it!

I have more to say, and will try to post again later. A teaser: I'm a winner!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Wow, it's quiet around here

The triplets and their dad were supposed to come Friday evening, but threatening weather delayed their departure until early Saturday morning. They were here about 30 hours altogether, and all I could say – silently and aloud – was how does their mother manage?

Their dad (my husband's son) is amazing with them, very calm and level and no-nonsense. I hope their mom had a nice weekend with just one child (their year-old daughter). Having just one to look after doesn't happen for her very often.

My intent after they left was to take my fifth five-mile walk of the week, but that definitely didn't happen. I was down for the count for most of the remainder of the day. It wasn't just a physical tiredness, either, it was mental, emotional. Keeping a constant vigil on three active boys wears you out! Also, with three three-year-old guests, you're moving around a lot and you don't even think about it.

Each of them caught a fish, with one of us helping, so those goals were met. I'm sure I fished when I was a child, but I don't remember doing so. My partner and I pulled in a three-pound-ish catfish, much to my surprise.

Guess I can cross that off my bucket list.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday Quote Day

It's never too late
to be who you might have been.
~ George Eliot

Unless, of course, you've been eating potatoes all your life.

Did y'all read about the latest reason why people are fat? Those fluffy, innocent, fat-free (sans toppings) spuds are now to blame. (I'm sure the potato and snack-food lobbyists will be coming out with a statement refuting the study soon.) Chips and fries are worse than bakers, of course. But you knew that, and you haven't eaten a chip in years, right? Yeah, me, either.

The study associated different foods with rates of weight gain (or loss). Yogurt was found to be the best food for not gaining:
The data also showed that eating specific high-quality foods was linked with less weight gain over time. In fact, the more daily servings people ate of fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains and yogurt, the less weight they gained. The yogurt finding — each extra daily serving prevented 0.82 lbs. of weight gain — was unexpected, Mozaffarian says: "This clearly deserves further attention to determine if this is cause-and-effect and, if so, why."

I'm beyond middle-aged, and have little hope of ever getting back to my high-school weight. (Also? I thought I was enormous in high school. 135 pounds. Enormous.) My meals are home-cooked and healthfully prepared now, for the most part. I already don't eat potatoes more than once a week. My grain-based foods are whole, not refined.

But there's always room for improvement. And making yogurt is on today's to-do list.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Over the hump

Every day I feel a little more energetic, a little more together, not quite so fractured.

In addition to a couple naps on Monday, I also got my walking program back in gear. I've walked 15 miles this week already, and today will be a rest-from-walking day. I need to get the oil changed in my car this morning and my husband and I are meeting another couple for breakfast. The skies look threatening; I might end up doing some heavy cleaning if it rains.

Our weekend guests won't arrive until late Friday evening, so I'll have today and tomorrow to prepare. I'm stocked up on sippy cups and apple juice, fruit and Goldfish crackers. What else do three-year-old boys need? Heh. It will be my husband's job to buy the worms. He's hoping the triplets will catch their first fish in our pond.

My grandson caught a couple whoppers when he was here. Not as whopping as the record-breaking catfish snagged last week in North Carolina, but pretty darned big for a farm pond. Two were four- or five-pound bass and one was a five-pound catfish. We believe in catch-and-release around here, mostly because no one wants to clean them!

My walking plan is to do 25 miles a week, five miles for five days, with two rest days thrown in. (Saturday will be my second rest day this week.) So far this activity and monitoring my intake hasn't resulted in any weight loss, but it's pretty early and my metabolism is pretty slow. At any rate, I think the walking has contributed to my improved mood, and I'll keep on keepin' on. After all, what's the alternative?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

To answer a question …

Gingersnapper asked if I sponsor anyone in AA, and the answer, in a word, is no. In my 20-plus years of recovery, I have sponsored several women for short periods of time, but sponsorship is not my gift.

My sponsor was wonderful – generous and insightful, with the uncanny ability to put her finger on the crux of the problem almost instantly. Carolyn could talk me down in five minutes from whatever crisis I thought I was in when I called her.

She never once shared her story of recovery in front of a group, though, a form of AA service that doesn't bother me in the least.

Our various strengths and weaknesses allow us to appreciate what we can do and to be grateful for others' gifts.

I'm searching for a new sponsor. One of the first things Carolyn did when her sponsor died was to find a new one, and I figure if she did it, I should, as well. She was such a good example for me, in all things. But until I find someone who has what I want (the only real criteria for finding a sponsor), I will continue to ask: WWCD?

Changes in latitude, changes in attitude

Thanks so much for your supportive and generous comments yesterday. I'm grateful you didn't just close your browsers and move on after reading so much whining.

Yesterday was somewhat better during the day (I didn't nap), and got a whole lot better last night, as I expected it would.

For the past dozen years or so, I've spent the majority of my Tuesday nights at Alderson Federal Prison Camp, just a few degrees north in latitude from my home. For several of those years I also spent Monday evenings there, teaching a beginning drawing class to a handful of inmates.

Tuesdays, though, are for AA. Technically I help take a meeting into the facility, but really? They give me an unforgettable meeting every week.

Alderson is a minimum-security women's prison. Most of the women are there for drug "crimes" (if our laws weren't so warped – oh, don't get me started). No one is forced to attend the meeting; the fact that nearly 100 show up every week is still somewhat amazing to me.

We've been working on AA's 12 Steps; last night we were to begin the 8th: Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all. But we volunteers (there are three of us) like to ask if anyone has anything she needs to talk about first. Sometimes they don't, and we go on with the plan. But sometimes – as happened last night – they do, and that can make for some interesting and fulfilling discussions.

I can't go into detail (whom you see here, what you hear here, when you leave here, let it stay here), but I can say that when I got home, I felt like a completely different woman.

I left a little later than usual, due to lightning and thunderstorms. The administration closes the compound when the weather is threatening, as the women have to walk outside to get from building to building on the grounds. Last night's meeting after the meeting was as enlightening and rewarding as the meeting itself.

Just what this drunk needed to begin to see the light again.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Blues. Blahs. Blather.

I expected a letdown after all the excitement of the past two weeks. But I didn't expect to be quite so crushed.

I took a five-mile walk yesterday morning, at my usual glacial pace of 3mph. For the rest of the day I did … nothing. Took a nap. Threw some sausage and tomatoes into a pot of beans and rice and called it dinner. Took another nap. Watched an hour of television. Went to bed.

No laundry. No grocery shopping. No decluttering. Nothing from my mental to-do list was accomplished.

Three things were (are) weighing me down:

  • The children are all back home (obviously I knew they would go home, but still – it's awfully quiet around here)
  • My AA sponsor's recent death, and my unfulfilled need to talk to her
  • The first Father's Day without my dad hit me harder than I expected

This, too, shall pass. It always does. I need to be patient with myself.

So. Happy Summer Solstice to you. I hope I can get out of this funk before the first day of fall.

Monday, June 20, 2011

A month of grandchildren

I don't write about my grandchildren much here. This isn't a grandma blog, after all, it's a knitting, running, reaping and eating blog. And while we won't have the pleasure of all their company the entire month of June, we will have seen all but one grandchild by the end of this month.

Between my husband and me, we have seven grands: three girls (14, almost 4 and almost 1) and four boys (10 and three-year-old triplets). We'll miss seeing the baby this month, but her birthday is July 6 and we're going to help her celebrate.

My two older grandchildren were here early this month, my grandson for one week and my granddaughter for two. She went home yesterday, after a quick trip to see her little cousin (my younger granddaughter) dance in her first recital. My older granddaughter has never seen a recital – she's been in one or two every year since she was four, but has never been in the audience, so she was very excited.

The little one did a fine job, she remembered all her moves and kept up with the music and wasn't afraid of being on stage before a packed auditorium of adoring parents and grandparents. In fact, she said she looked for us and couldn't find us!

Toddler recitals are funny and sweet; someone always dances to her own tune or makes an especially endearing exit. I have loved watching my older granddaughter develop from a sweet little girl, a bit unsure of herself, into an accomplished dancer proficient in ballet, tap, modern and jazz. She wants a career in dance, and she has all the elements necessary for it. It will be equally satisfying watching the younger one as she progresses.

The triplets are coming this weekend with their dad, leaving Mom and baby sister at home for some welcome alone time. Last time they were here there were no accidents or incidents, so I must have done something right as far as toddler-proofing the house. (We haven't always been so lucky!)

Today, though, I think I'll take a break. I might do some laundry, I might take a walk, but I might just relax and do next to nothing today.

Film, as they say, at eleven.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday Quote Day

You are never too old to set another goal
or to dream a new dream.
~ C.S. Lewis

I've no idea why today's quote seemed so significant when I was scrolling through my collection, but it did. I should have posted it during my birthday week. I might have saved it for just that purpose. As we age, we frequently forget why we do things, or what we're looking for, or, um … well, I forgot where I was going there. Heh.

I've been monitoring my food intake recently and am back to probably eating too little. As someone who has been a lifetime dieter, it's easy to fall into old habits, and the oldest one for those trying to lose weight is to cut back.

I'm not consciously doing this, it's just that I'm so busy this time of year that meals take a back seat. Breakfast is the first to go. Mornings are cool and pleasant, and it's nice to be outside pulling weeds or watering or planting. The two afternoons a week I work at the garden center I grab something light before I head out. The work is somewhat physical and I don't want to be weighed down by a heavy mid-day meal.

And, of course, it's salad season. I don't prepare meal-sized salads in cool weather, but when the late spring and summer heat is on I enjoy a big salad topped with beans, grilled chicken, feta or goat cheese and dressed with a light lemon vinaigrette.

Unfortunately, at my age and with my metabolism, fewer calories does not result in pounds lost.

To maintain my current weight I need to eat about 2000 calories/day. To slowly and steadily reach my goal weight, I should be eating 1750. I estimate my current caloric intake at or below 1200. (I recommend visiting this website to calculate your BMR.)

I'd like to think that, at my age, I might be satisfied with the status quo. Old habits die hard, though, and I'll probably take my last breath wishing I was at my goal weight. It's not too late.

Is it?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

What day is it, anyway?

Besides Gingersnap's birthday, that is. (Go on over and wish her a happy day. I'll wait.)

My son-in-law and I met halfway between my home (WV) and his (TN) on Sunday to deliver one child; I'm keeping my granddaughter for another week. My grandson outfished his sister and my husband last week, so she's hoping the huge bass and catfish that he was able to snag will find her bait this week.

We have lots of other plans, as well, including gardening, antique junk-store browsing and a couple of dance events, one in the neighborhood (so to speak) and one in North Carolina. Which isn't really on the way to Tennessee, but oh, well.

We'll meet her dad near Asheville, NC Sunday and I'll be heading back home, where I will miss both of them terribly.

So many things are less important when grandchildren are around. Like e-mail, for instance. I have 300 unread e-mails in my inbox and as I grab a few minutes here and there to deal with them, I think I might need to unsubscribe from some.

Then again, I might need that information someday!

Anyway, just checking in to let you know I'm alive and well and (mostly) unplugged and really having a good time. Have you missed me? Heh.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Friday Quote Day

There will never be a day when we won't need
dedication, discipline, energy and the feeling
that we can change things for the better.
~ George Sheehan

There's something about having children around that makes you hopeful. Tired, but still hopeful that the world will be better for their future than it is now. My granddaughter, especially, seems headed in an activist direction. She's quite the environmentalist, hates Styrofoam, cheers when she sees solar panels and appreciates clotheslines.

We've been having lots of fun and both kids are willing to pitch in and help with whatever needs to be done. (I tease them that they're helping out the old folks.) We've made sure they've had lots of fun stuff to do, as well, of course – they've gone fishing every day, and we've also gone to a nearby river to swim. We're taking them to a drive-in movie tomorrow night – something they've never experienced before, and believe me, it's hard to come up with Stuff They Haven't Done.

It's been beastly hot with little rain, so we've had to water the garden every morning, which has been a community project. Today we'll pick peas to add to our stir-fry for dinner, and we're making a pound cake for dessert, topped with locally grown strawberries.

It might be cool enough this morning to take a long walk to the Amish bakery, with donuts for breakfast as our reward. We've all earned it!

Hope you've had a good week. My grandson is going home Sunday, but my granddaughter will be here all next week. She's had a great time with my camera; I've posted some of her photos on my Facebook page. Enjoy!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Normal 2.0

Yesterday was a drive, drive, drive, lunch, drive, drive, drive, HOME day. And both of my daughter's children (14 and 10) came with me. This is the first extended visit for my 10-year-old grandson; his sister spent a week with us last summer.

They're both very excited to be spending time in the country. They live in a suburb of Nashville and while Nashville sounds "country," that description is limited to the music for my daughter's family. They've been invited to help my neighbor bale hay (which means sitting in the cab of his tractor while the baler does all the work), they'll be going fishing every day in our pond, they're going to help plant the remainder of the garden and then they'll reap some of the rewards: there are lots of peas ready to pick and shell.

Until they wake up, though, I'll be catching up with the laundry and taking over the watering chores, which my husband stepped in to do while I was gone.

My granddaughter's recital was terrific. Her dance studio's spring program is a father- and brother-friendly play, rather than a traditional dance program, and this year they did Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Her character, the Candy Man, sold the winning ticket to Charlie. The dance version of the story takes some liberties with the book or film versions, to feature all the students, so the Candy Man actually had quite a presence, and she did a great job. She dances as naturally as most of us walk!

I managed to get two decent walks in, early Friday and Saturday morning. The only time you could stand to be outdoors was early, it was so very hot and humid there. I was especially proud of myself for making the effort, it would have been so easy to bag it.

Posts will probably be spotty this week. It's good to be home, and really good to have the kids here.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Friday Quote Day

The best way to find yourself
is to lose yourself in service to others.
~ Mahatma Ghandi

Today's quote is a fitting tribute to my friend and sponsor. For more than 35 years – that's how long she was sober – she followed AA's suggestions and practiced its principles, including the one to "help others." I was so lucky to have met her when I needed her (that's pretty much how it works), and I'm so grateful for her many years of guidance, understanding, patience and love.

I'm in Tennessee now, have been here since Wednesday afternoon, enjoying time with my daughter and her family. My granddaughter's dance recital is Saturday. She and her brother will then be coming home with me to West Virginia.

If it was raining somewhere a couple weeks ago, it's hot there now. That goes for where I live and where I'm visiting, and it makes doing anything outdoors extremely uncomfortable. My desire to be comfortable trumps my desire to burn calories and I'm somewhat disgusted with myself about it.

When I'm using my body – exercising my muscles, moving my limbs – I'm aware of what I can do. When I'm lounging around trying to avoid exertion so as not to sweat, I'm aware of all that I cannot do. Ultimately I'm not comfortable anyway; I might as well take a walk, right? The kids won't be up for a while, so I think that's exactly what I'll do.

I hope one positive step will lead to another (less snacking?) and another (drinking water instead of soda?) and another (_________________________). My healthy habits have taken a nosedive recently, understandable, perhaps, when one's routine is upset, but it's never too late to change course and get back on track.

I have a handful of excuses for not starting over. Who starts over on Friday, on the third day (instead of the first) of the month, when you're at someone else's home, after a great personal loss? Who does that?

I guess I do. Heh.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Precious Memories

I mentioned to you a couple days ago my sponsor was in hospice. I got word yesterday that she died mid-afternoon. Even when death is expected – even when it's welcomed, to relieve pain and suffering  – it's still incredibly sad and awful and final.

Carolyn's body may have died but her spirit is part of all her "girls." That's what she called us, and we are a fiercely loyal pack of strong women who have all kinds of Carolyn wisdom to use and share.

Early in sobriety when I went to her with some problem or decision or issue, she would say, "Think it through to its logical conclusion." Whether it was wanting to drink, changing jobs, going on a date or any one of a number of other choices, thinking it through was her way of figuring things out.

As she became sicker and sicker, I feel certain she followed her own advice, and stopped treatment when she knew that the quality of her life was never going to improve.

She loved her family. She had no children of her own, but her sister's children were her pride and joy. She talked about them frequently and sent pictures often. They will have precious memories the rest of their lives.

She loved AA; the 12 steps and 12 traditions saved her life and she was loyal to the program throughout her more than 30 years of sobriety. She didn't love all the people in AA, and neither do I, but she helped me see that everyone can be an example, of either how to be or how not to be.

She loved her girls, and I'm so grateful I was one of them. She would want all of us to move on, have fun, love life, give what we have to help others and thank God for our lives.

And so I will.