Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Quote Day

The bad news is, after my highly motivated post earlier this month, I've managed to gain seven pounds.

The good news is, I haven't stopped trying.


No matter how many mistakes you make
or how slow you progress,
you are still way ahead
of everyone who isn’t trying. 
~ Anonymous

I'm not sure you could call a seven-pound gain "progress," but I'll try to spin it that way anyway, just for your amusement.

I've often heard, and frequently said, that anyone or anything can be an example for your own life. I've met many people who have been very good examples of how not to live, how not to have a relationship, how not to behave.

I think I need to step back and look at my September self as some other person, someone I've observed, someone whose example I'd not care to emulate. That September person hasn't been on the beam, so to speak, in any way except taking an almost-daily walk and eating mostly healthful meals.

When I return from my walk today, I will have logged 51 miles since September 10. (I didn't walk at all the first several days of the month.) Fifty-one miles divided by 20 days averages out to 2.55 miles/day. Not bad, but obviously not enough.

My meals have been pretty good, but my snacks have not. And I simply can't resist one processed food that I'm sure will make all you good little healthy eaters barf: beef stick. Or summer sausage, whatever it's called in your neck of the woods. In Ohio there was a variety called trail bologna, which is the gold standard of processed meat as far as I'm concerned.

Definitely not primal. Heh. Not that I'm trying to be a primal eater or anything, but it's interesting to me that the food I love to abuse is protein mixed with fat. (Oh, and salt. Which is totally responsible for seven pounds, right?)

So here's what I think I should be doing, instead of what I've been doing.

  • Continue the almost-daily walk, but add a mile (from three to four) and once or twice a week add two miles.
  • Drink more water. I just signed up for the Brita Challenge (and have already downed 16 ounces this morning), following the excellent example of MizFit. I even have a Brita pitcher. That I don't use.
  • Stop snacking. Period. When did snacking become as important to me as mealtime? I grew up eating three meals a day and, while I didn't have the body I wanted then, I'd certainly like to have that 135-pound high-school body now. (Ain't. Gonna. Happen. But I'll let you know when I hit 150. Again.)
  • Lift weights. Just little ones, for now, to get back in the weight-training groove. And I could also throw some walking lunges into the daily walk mix.

Four things is enough for October, right? Let's see how it goes.

A tiny little knitting note: Jujuba is progressing and I love the very subtle neck shaping. There's something so clean and simple about the gentle slope of k2tog and ssk decreases.

Our company will be here tonight. We're so excited to see them, it's been far too long. I'm doing a whole lotta cooking today – mozzarella for tomorrow's dinner pizzas, chicken noodle soup, granola (not necessarily for guests, but because I'm almost out of it), something for dessert. Breakfast breads are already baked. No one is going to starve.

Especially me. Sigh. Have a great weekend, won't you?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Foreplay, the Redux

I posted an entry last year called "Foreplay." Forgot to check the stats for it, I wonder if I got a surge in traffic that day?

As I alluded to then, foreplay is a very different exercise for women than it is for men. Men think it's all about candles and soft music and … well, you know. Women? It starts with not leaving coffee rings on the furniture and ends with my husband cleaning the sliding glass doors around our house. Each room in our home, except the bathrooms, has an outside entrance. I'm not sure why that was considered important when the house was built, but there you go.

He was so damned proud of himself. Getting him to
  • understand that housework needs to be done and 
  • do it without being prompted 
is a Big Deal around here.

And if that's our biggest deal, then we're gonna be just fine. Heh.

The house is so shiny and bright and clean. I did the kitchen yesterday. A clean stove is a beautiful thing.

Every time I do this kind of major domestic overhaul, I think to myself (รก la Flylady) that it only takes a few minutes each day, and a couple hours once a week, to keep it this way. (Speaking of Flylady, boy could she use a web designer! On the other hand, she's figured out how to support her family as a housework coach, so more power to her.) But when The Day comes to spend the two hours on upkeep, something else comes up or I don't feel like it or I know there will always be tomorrow.

If there's a downside to being retired, it's that you'll have as much time tomorrow to do stuff as you have today. Without a deadline, such as the arrival of guests, keeping the house tidy is definitely not my number-one priority. I'm not sure what is Job One, but it ain't dusting.

I have a meeting this morning, and it's raining, so the almost-daily walk will have to be postponed for later. Later looks to be a great time to get outdoors, according to weather.com.

The best part of having company is the cooking (does anyone wonder why I have issues with my weight? Anyone?). I stewed a couple whole chickens in the crockpot, which will become soup for lunch on Saturday, and then I baked some little meringue cookies last night. My cooking list isn't too long, but of course I want to get as much done early as possible. (There are, I'll admit, some occasions where I don't mind being stuck in the kitchen for the duration. This isn't one of them. Heh.)

This visit marks the end of one of the busiest months we've had since, well, since last September. Last weekend was the only free one all month. (We took advantage of it by going to the local one-screen theatre to see The Help. Loved it! And loved seeing so many people downtown going to a movie.) October is filling up already. Then it's the holidays and then we'll be wishing we had a condo in Florida we could rent for the winter.

Like sand in an hourglass …

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Plan the plans

A saying I've heard in the rooms of AA goes like this:

Plan the plans, not the results.

So helpful, this week and, actually, in all things where one's expectations get in the way of one's serenity.

As I've gotten, ahem, older, I've found my stamina to be somewhat less than greatly reduced from years past. Planning to stretch the housecleaning project over several days seemed like a good idea when I started, but yesterday was the perfect day to just do it all at once.

Well, perfect in one way: My husband was gone most of the day and, thus, not in my way. He's most unhelpful when it comes to housework. Not his fault: He was a doted-upon only child whose family did him no favors by not teaching him how to cook, clean, do laundry, etc.

In order to vacuum, mop, dust, clean bathrooms, do laundry and fix dinner by 5:45 (when I leave for my volunteer gig on Tuesdays) I had to give up my walk. I got a good workout in, including some heavy lifting, but doing housework doesn't feel like a workout to me.

It just feels like work. Heh. And I sure was tired when I was done.

So, back to expectations. And I've written about this before, many times before, I'm sure you're both tired of reading it. If I eat healthful meals and get about an hour of intentional exercise daily, I would hope to drop a few avoirdupois. I don't think I should drop a few overnight. I'd be happy with a few a month, one a week, even two a month would be progress.

There's no progress. I guess the plan will be to continue eating healthful meals and getting an hour of intentional exercise daily just because. The result could be anything: I could ward off disease or I could drop over with a heart attack. I could lose a few pounds or I could pull a Dudley and get fatter and fatter.

The plan for today is to clean the stove and refrigerator, the mirrors and the sliding-glass doors (all seven of them). Also, to take a walk. It's a good plan, it'll keep me busy and out of trouble. The result should be shiny appliances and clear views. No promises, though.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Coolness!

Blogger has something new called Dynamic Views. This blog can't be formatted to use the new templates, but photo blogs are perfect for it. Check it out at my (lame attempt at a ) Project 365 blog. When you hover your cursor over a photo, it pops out. Click on the title and the page with the photo and caption come up. Like I said above: coolness!

Falling behind

I'm a bit of a perfectionist when we have company. I want my house to look nice, I want to offer a variety of things to eat, I think the front porch should say, "Welcome!" I want to leave a treat, a couple of current magazines and a good novel in the guest room.

We're having visitors this weekend, so the week before is the week to get 'er done – the cleaning, tidying, cooking. Why is it (I'll speak for myself here, but I bet I'm not alone) I put up with dust and clutter on a day-to-day basis, and only dig in when someone comes to call?

I'm worth a shiny coffee table and freshly baked scones. Or at least I should be.

The reason I put up with it, of course, is that I'm the one makes it happen, with a little help from that guy who lives here, too. Heh. Yesterday my husband and I cleaned gutters and then swept and hosed off the back patio (which is not a small job, the patio stretches from one end of our one-story ranch-type house to the other). We moved all the furniture into the yard and did a thorough job of it, something we do once or twice a year anyway. I'll do the front porch (much smaller) today.

I mowed yesterday, too, which took a good three hours. We took the fence down around the garden and I weed-whacked around the garage and the front perennial bed.

Oh, and I walked three miles, ate a PB&J for lunch, fixed breakfast for dinner (no breakfast for breakfast, forgot all about it) and fell into bed at 9 p.m.

Today I start all over again. My plan yesterday was shot to hell when my husband decided we needed to do some outdoor stuff. I'd hoped to get the guest-wing side of the house swept, dusted and mopped. There are clean linens on the bed and the bathroom is presentable, but I definitely strayed from the plan.

He has a meeting today. Which means if I'm off plan today, it's my own damned fault.

Not that I'm blaming anyone else. Heh.

Monday, September 26, 2011

C'mon, fall, hurry up!

The autumnal equinox has come and gone, but we had to run the AC last night for a little bit. It's not so much that it's hot, because 75° can't really be considered hot now, can it? It's just … stuffy. Especially in the bedroom.

Very creamy, but only one cup of milk. Yum!
To try to move things along a little, I've been making lots of soup. Last night we had a potato-dill soup I found on Epicurious, which I topped with bacon, cheese and sliced green onions. The recipe made six servings. I had one and a half, and my husband ate the rest. I think that's a pretty good recommendation; it's going on the fall-winter recipe rotation.

I had planned to take Saturday off from walking, but I ended up bagging the whole weekend. Two days of rest felt good to me. I'm not out there killing myself training for a marathon or anything, don't get me wrong. It would have been fine to get a walk in yesterday morning, but I felt a little under the weather and decided to respect those feelings, rather than push myself and maybe end up feeling worse. Good decision; I feel great this morning.

So, I watched a lot of football this weekend and finally – finally – divided for the neckline on the sweater project. Yay, me! I sure hope to finish it this fall, and with football season here and the baseball playoffs soon, it's quite likely I will.

How was your weekend? No regrets here, how about you? Did you kick back or live it up?

Friday, September 23, 2011

And then there's this

Apples to Twinkies (pdf file)

Discuss.

Friday Quote Day

The most courageous act is to think for yourself.
ALOUD.
~ Coco Chanel

Live out loud. That's a scary thought for a woman like me, raised in a home where children were seen and not heard. Of course, I'm not a child any longer, not by a long shot. And since both my parents are gone, it's not like anyone is around to remind me that I'm still someone's child.

But living out loud carries risks, no matter how old you are.

Fourteen-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer lived out loud, with the support of his family and a small circle of friends (Phil Ochs, where are you now when we need you?). Bullying eventually drove Jamey to commit suicide – a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

Politicians, red and blue, live out loud, offering themselves up to ridicule and judgment daily with some of the crazy things they say.

We bloggers, especially we who are small-time, not-popular, not widely read bloggers, live out loud a few times a week, throwing up a few paragraphs of what's on our minds this minute. I'm the kind of blogger who never plans what I'm going to write. What you read has gone from my brain to my fingers to the keyboard to the internets in about 15 minutes every (well, almost every) weekday morning.

I know some of you do a lot of research, aiming to instruct and inform, and I applaud you, because I love to be instructed and informed. I just don't want to be that kind of blogger.

I like to get things off my chest. What you think about it is none of my business, I try to tell myself, but really? Seriously? I want you to connect with what I write, I want you to think about it, mull it over, respond (if you're so inclined).

I like knowing that living out loud, even on an obscure blog, one of millions, is a way for me to be courageous.

Where's all this coming from? I probably read too many political newsfeeds on Facebook. I've replaced cable news with addictinginfo.org. I'm a political junkie, for sure, but only up to a point. I'm not interested in the Republican side of things until there's a nominee. I can't watch the run-up of endless debates and posturing and pie-in-the-sky solutions to this country's problems. What I do is read about them after the fact.

At last night's event, a gay soldier on active duty in the Middle East was booed by the right-wing conservative audience. I guess they were living out loud, too, holding themselves up to ridicule, but also, I'm sure, being praised by those whose freedom and liberty that soldier is defending.

I'm afraid for my country. I see so much hypocrisy, mostly – but not limited to – the Party of No. No, you can't have disaster relief. No, you can't have health care. No, you can't have a job. No, you can't have peace.

Perhaps I should go to the kitchen and make something, bake something. That's what my granddaughter does when she's upset or sad.

Perhaps, I should stick to my knitting.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Love one another

I woke up this morning with the words "love one another" going through my head. I was riveted last night by DemocracyNow's coverage of Troy Davis. And I'm grateful my takeaway from the tension and disappointment is "love one another." From some of the comments I've seen on Twitter and Facebook, it could be much worse.

One comment I ran across last night basically said the death penalty isn't a fence-sitting issue. You're either in favor of it or you aren't. It can't be okay to oppose it under one circumstance, as so many had for Mr. Davis in Georgia, but not in another, as so many of the same people had for Mr. Brewer in Texas. (Notably, Mr. Brewer's victim's son is opposed to the death penalty, even for his father's murderer, in one of the most horrible hate crimes on record.)

My work as a volunteer in a minimum-security federal prison doesn't give me much insight into the death penalty. (It has, after all, been called "Camp Cupcake.") What it does give me, however, is a deeper understanding of the United States' flawed justice system. Bad laws incarcerate far too many of our citizens. Bad sentencing laws keep those men and women in prisons far too long. And our own attitudes about former felons keep them "less than," unable to find meaningful work or even to be welcomed back into the society they so desperately want to belong to. A prison sentence follows you the rest of your life, on job and school applications, on rental agreements, on so much more. Many felons aren't allowed to every vote again, although that is changing.

The basic, fundamental belief that one's guilt must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt was tossed aside in Troy Davis's case. He may have been guilty. I wasn't there when the shooting took place. Nine eye witnesses were, seven of whom have since recanted their testimony. At least one juror has said if she had known then what she now knows, she would not have found him guilty.

Mr. Davis had three stays of execution in his 22 years of incarceration. The Supreme Court of the United States couldn't manage another one which ultimately relieved Georgia of the responsibility of keeping this man alive. But 22 years on death row? Seriously? There was no reasonable doubt after 22 years and multiple stays of execution?

What I keep thinking about (and my work at the prison does give me some insight about this) is that this was a case of a black man in a southern state who killed a white off-duty police officer. He probably didn't get the best legal representation. He certainly was guilty in the eyes of society before he ever entered a courtroom. He had millions of supporters around the world, from ordinary citizens to former Presidents to the Pope.

And the other thing I keep thinking about is … love one another.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I'm grateful for …


  • my sobriety
  • my husband
  • my family
  • my dog (it was really hard trying to prioritize these first four items! Heh.)
  • my friends
  • my health
  • my garden
  • my cooking skills
  • my optimism
  • my tolerance

Happy World Gratitude Day! Now it's your turn. Either in the comments or on your blog, what are you grateful for?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Perfect timing

If you were here beside me, you'd be able to hear the steady patter of rain, rain, rain falling outside. It's the kind of rainsound that makes you think it's never going to stop. Like the Nashville flood in 2010. (I was there.) Also, if you were here beside me, we could have a back-and-forth, meaningful conversation instead of me just throwing words up on a screen. And we'd have coffee.

Anyway.

I had quite a to-do list yesterday, and I'm happy to say I did it, including a three-mile walk. It was a slow three-mile walk, but I checked it off the list. At this stage of the renewed commitment to fitness, getting it done is more important than getting it done faster.

After the walking and before fixing dinner was this line item:
  • Pesto
The advent of cooler temperatures has slowed the growth of the basil, and I decided it was time to harvest and preserve the remaining crop. I had just enough parmesan for one last batch of homemade pesto. (Note to self: Add "parmesan" to the grocery list.) I could have harvested basil in the rain, but I think I picked the perfect day.

I have to make pesto in smallish batches. My 20-year-old 14-cup Cuisinart bit the dust last year, replaced by a smaller, counter-friendly model. The only time I regret that decision is when I make pesto, so I guess it was a good one.

An hour later, I tucked eight four-ounce jars plus a tiny plastic container of deliciousness into the freezer, ready to add to soup or pasta this winter. I love the hit of summer pesto provides when the snow flies.

Today's list includes this:
  • Finish mowing
Thank you, rain! I can just keep moving that one on to the next day's list until the grass dries up. Which might take a while.


Monday, September 19, 2011

Wow, what a weekend


I'm a liberal Democrat, a progressive, and proud of it. It's hard to be a liberal Democrat in West Virginia, as you might well imagine. We used to be a solidly blue state. Now we're kinda purple, turning red, and it was certainly on the minds and hearts of those attending and speaking at the convention I went to this weekend to turn us back to blue.

I'm president of my county Democratic women's club, part of the WVFDW, and was attending my first state convention. We heard from Lena C. Taylor (D-WI) who, along with 13 of her colleagues, left the state of Wisconsin to prevent bad law from being railroaded through the legislature there. (It slowed the process, but the law was still passed.) We heard from many union organizers. West Virginia's former first lady, Gail Manchin, spoke, as did my Congressman's wife, Melinda Rahall, and the Congressman himself. (She gets top billing; she's a hoot!) West Virginia is having a special gubernatorial election October 4 (10/4, good buddy!) and Governor and Mrs. Tomblin came to fire up the crowd.

We elected officers, attended workshops (how to get young people more involved was a big one), networked – all the things you do at conventions. The mayor reminded us that what happens in Huntington stays in Huntington. Since the median age was probably the same as mine, not much was likely to happen. The fundraising auction, which netted more than $4000, was the raciest event of the weekend; a couple of the male Young Democrat representatives were auctioned off for a lunch date.

I was proud to learn that the president of the Young Democrats of America is a West Virginian and that the president of the National Federation of Democratic Women in 2013 will be a West Virginian. Perhaps West Virginia can again turn blue.

No knitting was done. Not a stitch. I sat beside and behind a couple women who were knitting during the business meeting, but I'd left my bag in my room and didn't feel like going back for it.

I walked two miles each day. Saturday I ventured outside, but Sunday I had to get it done early so I hopped on the hotel treadmill. One of you will be proud of me for hitting a couple of the Nautilus machines. I was grateful to be the only person in the workout room; you should have seen me trying to get on and off those contraptions!

I ate dessert at lunch Saturday but skipped the dessert reception at the banquet Saturday night. That was hard. Those desserts looked good, but I wasn't hungry and I was tired and it just felt more right to skip the evening festivities and head upstairs for a little football watching and some rest.

It was difficult to attend this event by myself. I'd planned to go with another of our local members, but she had a family emergency at the last minute and couldn't attend. It wasn't easy to meet new people, but I did it. I now have some new ideas for growing our group, and some new understanding of how important it is to elect Democrats, even if you think they're not quite as liberal as you'd like them to be.

It's a no-brainer, really. The alternative is to vote for a Republican, and we've seen what they've done to our country. Can we take it back? I sincerely hope so.

I'm sure I'll have more to say about this as time goes on. I may have to change the name of the blog again. (Knit. Run. Reap. Eat. Vote Democrat!)

Or maybe the color. Heh.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

It's all relative

I guess in mid-September, a wind chill in the 40s is "extreme cold."


I might be the only first-time attendee at this convention of the West Virginia Federation of Democratic Women. Everyone else seems to have plenty of blue wardrobe essentials, red/white/blue jewelry and people to talk to. I'm the only member attending from my county, so I got my picture made with the Governor's wife and our Secretary of State all by myself! I'm so special. Heh.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Friday Quote Day

You must be the change
you want to see in the world.
~ Mahatma Gandhi

I'm off to be an activist this weekend, or at least learn how to be a better one. And if that turns out to not be on the agenda, well, maybe I'll start a new conversation. Heh. I bet you'd never guess I could do that, right?

The West Virginia Federation of Democratic Women is holding its annual state convention this weekend, and I hope, hope, hope it's not a weekend of preaching to the choir.

As y'all know, I'm on Facebook. The pages I've "Liked" all lean to the left and they all, every day, many times a day, bewail the state of the nation, especially the state of the nation's politics. And we Facebook followers all "like" and "share" and "comment," but we already know things are scary and bad and weird and crazy. I mean, when Mitt Romney says he'd like his Veep to be someone like Dick Cheney? Way to get nominated, Mitt!

I'm packing my knitting, my workout gear, my electronics and something blue. Because we Democratic women are "Women in Blue." The sweater I've been working on (blue) isn't finished, isn't even half-finished, actually, but it's easy knitting while sitting in meetings. I'd hoped to wear it this weekend.

Oh, well.

I have a back-up plan. WVU plays Maryland tomorrow, so I'll wear my blue-and-gold WVU shirt during the day. I have an indigo blue tee/cardigan set to wear with an indigo/white skirt tomorrow evening. And the WVFDW sold blue polo shirts with their logo embroidered on them last year, so I have that for Sunday.

I feel like a middle-schooler: What are you wearing? Oh that's so cute! Perfect! Giggle.

The hotel has a fitness facility, but it's also mere steps away from a beautiful park and I do believe that's where I'll be fitnessing. Since last Saturday I've walked 20 miles; I'm pretty happy with that. Gotta start (over) somewhere, right?

Since I'm traveling today, I'm declaring this my rest day. If you're resting today, may you be restored, renewed and ready to change for the better when you wake up tomorrow.

You can join me. Heh.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The pride of West Virginia

Former new-car detailer from Logan, WV, hits the big time, winning this season's America's Got Talent. (Personally, I have trouble watching the show because the audience is so very obnoxious. But hey, he's from West Virginia and he's pretty amazing. So I watched the last couple weeks of the competition.) West Virginia is full of pride for Landau Eugene Murphy Jr.'s accomplishment!


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The snake relocation project

So, my husband and I have been walking together this week, and we noticed the black snake that had moved into the perennial bed at the end of the driveway was back in residence. I still have some work to do in that area before winter, and neither of us were comfortable with a snake that close to the house.

For all we know there's a nest of them in the crawl space, but at least we can't see them. Seeing this guy was making both of us, um, nervous.

Yes, I know they're good for mouse control and they're not poisonous and yadda, yadda, yadda. But still. It's a snake. It was my husband's idea to move it, I wouldn't agree to killing it. Not that I've never had a snake killed, but this one wasn't threatening to come in my kitchen.

(If you've ever entertained the idea of living an idyllic life in the country, remember: There are snakes.)

It definitely did not like being moved
from under its rock. Much hissing!
So, back to the project. We first moved the rock under which it was resting, and teased it out onto the driveway with a hoe.

We had a box, and our intent was to somehow get it into the box without having to touch it, then tape the box shut and release it near our pond, about a quarter mile down the road.

Poor snake. More hissing as my husband
pushed it along the road with the hoe.
Good theory, but neither of us wanted to try to fit a three-foot snake into an amazon.com box. We could have gotten a bigger box, but my husband said we could just walk it down the hill. Heh. That's a funny mind picture, and it was a darned funny scene, too.

Finally got it up off the ground for
transporting down the hill.



He did all the work. I trailed along behind giving moral support. I. Don't. Like. Snakes. Neither does he, but relocating snakes is clearly a boy job. Don't go all feminist on me and say otherwise. I'm quite sure snake-handling is on the boy side of the chore ledger.

Done! I hope it doesn't have a homing
instinct for my perennial bed.

My husband started out by kind of pushing it along the side of the road with the hoe blade, but eventually was able to pick it up and carry it on the end of the hoe. We deposited it along the side of the road near the entrance to our pond, and hope it finds some nice friends there to hang with for the winter.

I'm sure the Amish men building a fence across the road laughed their you-know-whats off after we left. They probably pull snakes out of chicken coops every day of the week. Heck, their six-year-old children probably do, and don't think a thing about it. We planned this project as if it were a military maneuver. Heh. And, temporarily anyway, we've won the battle.

What does any of this have to do with knitting, running, reaping or eating? Not a darned thing. Here's a couple things that could be filed under the reaping category.

  • I made pico de gallo yesterday to go with chips made from baked soft flour tortillas. The only store-bought ingredients were a little olive oil and the onion. Everything else – tomatoes, sweet peppers, jalapeno, cilantro, lime – was homegrown. I could probably have pulled some onions from the garden, but I want them to get bigger before winter.
  • I just went out to see what Hershey was barking at. I was in the garden yesterday for an hour, pulling cornstalks and tomato plants and if a row of onions I planted weeks ago had started sprouting, I would have noticed it. This morning, the whole row of sets, which I've assumed were never going to grow, has pushed above ground. I'm astonished.

That's all. Enjoy your day.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Three in a row

I walked three miles Saturday and Sunday mornings when I was out of town, and four miles yesterday morning. Yay, me!

Because Saturday was the one-year anniversary of my dad's death, I spent a lot of time thinking of him and the obesity legacy. And because the retreat happens only once a year, and I don't see any of the attendees during the interim, I thought, "How cool would it be if I came back next year at or near a healthy weight?"

The only way to do that, I decided, is to continue to eat healthful meals and to be consistent with exercise. (Not that it's worked before, but maybe this time will be different. Maybe if I sprinkle myself with glitter before I go for my walk. Yeah, that sounds like a good plan.)

Duh. (Current studies show that exercise isn't that helpful in losing weight. But it's so helpful in other health-related areas that I think it's a good idea to continue moving, especially as I get older. And I was going to link to one or two studies but I find too many that contradict each other. If diet and exercise work for you, keep doing it.)

In order to be consistent with exercise, I will, some days, need to get back on the elliptical. Thanks to audiobooks and podcasts, I don't think that will be as difficult as I pretend it is. Another weapon in my fitness arsenal is the still-broken rowing machine, which would take half an hour or less to repair.

And, of course, there's yoga and weight-training, two disciplines I really need to incorporate into my routine, but I seem to have a mental block about them. I have the necessary equipment, I just don't have the necessary attitude.

So. Something to work on.

Actually, lots to work on.

Knitting! I got quite a bit done on Jujuba over the weekend. I'm nearly at the point where I can split it for the neck shaping. Alas, I won't have it finished for next weekend. I'd hoped to have a new blue sweater to wear for the state Democratic women's convention. There's not much blue in my closet, but the convention theme is Women in Blue: We Believe. Ah, well, it'll be ready for next year.

Monday, September 12, 2011

So much to say ...

and even this somewhat anonymous blog isn't the place to say it.

I have opinions that are probably not politically correct. To get the heaviness off my chest, I will just say I'm really glad it's September 12th. There, I feel better already.

I have sad personal news that I will never share here. If I haven't met you in person, you don't need to know. No, I'm not ill and I'm not getting divorced. I would definitely share that here.

The weekend retreat we went to in Kentucky (an AA event) was great. Good speakers, lots of fellowship, too much food. The planners make sure we're not meetinged to death; there's a lot of free time built into the schedule. And since it's early in the college football season, we have a tailgate party and watch a game or two.

A large group of Ohio State Buckeye fans always arrive from Columbus, Ohio, but the OSU game wasn't televised. Thanks to modern technology, one of the group was able to find an animated play-by-play that he projected onto the wall. We called it Pacman football.

I found the WVU-Norfolk St. game on ESPN3.com and a few of us watched it on the MacBook Air's 11-inch screen. The Marshall game wasn't televised locally, so we depended on online sources to update those scores.

Sooooo many people were kind enough to remember why we weren't there last year and to share their own stories of losing a loved one.

I matter-of-factly got up each morning and walked/jogged three miles. In previous years I've gotten up very early to run seven miles as part of a training plan for a half-marathon. Those were better days; I was thinner, fitter, more motivated. This year, three was enough. I walked alone, lost in thought and wrapped in the early morning Kentucky fog.

I felt good about the walks, like maybe this was the start of a new habit. I plan to walk again today. If there's anything I've learned in AA over the past 20+ years, it's that today is all I have, really. I try to plan the plans, but not the results. Today's walk will be harder than yesterday's; the hills of home are steeper and more plentiful than the two I had to ascend/descend in Kentucky. But it's not like I haven't done them before and lived to tell about it.

As y'all well know!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Remembering …

I know I could schedule a post to be published tomorrow, but I seldom blog on the weekends, so I'm not going to. Daddy died a year ago tomorrow. Today, I want to post a few pictures and publish a quote I found that says so much about him.
Dad grew up in southern
Ohio, along the river.

He got his pilot's license when I was 18, soon to be 19. I was in labor with my first child while he was taking his flight test. He was also on alert that day – May 4, 1970 – due to the riots and shootings at Kent State University.

Dad went as far in the Guard
as you could go without being
an officer. He retired as a Senior
Master Sergeant.
He'd made a career in the Ohio Air National Guard, but not as a pilot. He'd been fascinated by airplanes all his life (he took his first airplane ride when he was five, with a barnstormer, in southern Ohio). He was a mechanic in the Guard, and then an inflight air refueling technician and, finally, a recruiter.

During my childhood, we had a number of family hobbies: antique cars, camping and boating, horseback riding. When my siblings and I complained about the camping taking us away from our friends all summer, Dad sold the camper and boat, bought an airplane and learned to fly.

One of my favorite pictures:
Dad with his Pitts, a single-seat
homebuilt acrobatic plane.
We loved flying as a family hobby! Being at the airport was exciting and we met lots of interesting people. My daughter took her first airplane ride when she was only a few weeks old. I ended up getting my license when I was 29, which made Dad very proud.

Sometimes I think I could have been a better daughter. I never think he could have been a better father. I went through quite a bit of turmoil in my younger years, but he was always my champion and didn't ask too many questions. When he thought I needed advice he gave it, but wasn't upset if I didn't follow it.

I should have followed it, though. Heh.

Dad got sick in the summer of 2008, and almost died. He'd been living in Florida for many years by then, and we hadn't seen much of each other. That changed; I was in Florida half a dozen times at least, and last year he felt well enough to take a cruise with his wife in February and buy a motor home last summer.
John Young
1930-2010

Their excellent adventure in the RV lasted three weeks. I'm so glad they spent that last week with us. I know everything worked out the way it was supposed to. I still want to call him, though.

As I've written here before, Dad's legacy for me includes many health risk factors. I try to eat healthfully, but I'm not as active as I could be. I saw how Dad's weight and pain from diabetes limited his mobility, leading to more complications. I'm not immune.

The first year after a loved one's death is difficult, going through annual events without him, remembering things, wanting to talk again, wanting to see him. I hope I can turn this grief into something good. He'd like that.

When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.
~ Leonardo da Vinci

Thursday, September 8, 2011

If it's Thursday, it must be Thanksgiving

As I mentioned yesterday, we had Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday, September 9, 2010. The last time I'd had Thanksgiving dinner with my dad was in 2008 at the rehabilitation facility where he was recovering from septicemia. 2008 was the beginning of a long illness for him, one in which he had many ups and downs. The biggest up was that he and I saw each other more frequently than we had in previous years.

So, since he and his wife and her cousin were all visiting last year, I got all sentimental and decided to have a big turkey dinner with all the trimmings. Everything was homemade, and lots of our food came from the back yard. We invited another couple with whom we were very close at the time. (Six months later we're not speaking. Long story, and I'm still kind of sad about it, but the truth is I had been feeling the fabric of our relationship tearing.)

Last year, though, it was fun having them share our table. Dad was fascinated with their homesteading lifestyle, which was so much like his own childhood on a hardscrabble farm during the Depression. The difference is that he was born into it, while our former friends have made the choice to be as self-sufficient as possible.

I'm so glad we had that dinner. I felt funny about it, but it turned out to be a really good idea. That whole week is one I hope I never forget, and writing about it, the good and the sad, the then and the now, is one way to cement it in my memory.

Dad's wife is being treated for cancer and has been spending time with a new gentleman. Her cousin, a fairly young widow, still lives in Florida and is moving on with her life. Our friends are no longer friends. Some things change.

And some remain the same. I'm still gardening, still fat, still trying to be thinner (not thin, that'll never happen). Still missing my dad.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

And the grand total is …

3.2 inches. That's the amount of rain that has fallen since Monday morning.

Reminds me of May, when all I wanted to do was go out and throw seeds in the ground. Now I'd like to get out and clean the garden up (well, not that I'd really like to, but you know what I mean) and there's no way that can happen with all the mud.

We're getting a bit of a break today, and maybe even the rest of the week. Chance of scattered storms, temps in the low to mid 70s, should be nice for outdoor walking, if not for garden maintenance.

Hershey, with her best
worried look. She always
looks worried about
something!
September is a busy month around the Middle of Nowhere. My husband and I are getting ready to go to our annual AA retreat in Kentucky. So many good memories from these events over the years. In addition to the many friends we've made, we got our little dog Hershey on one of those trips.

Next weekend I'll be attending the state convention for our Federation of Democratic Women. We then have a free weekend to get ready for guests who will arrive September 30. And in between we have football and new fall television (Harry's Law is moving to Wednesdays this season, first episode is September 21 at 9 p.m.) and making a Halloween costume (my four-year-old granddaughter wants to be a bride) and knitting.

I like to cook more when it's a little cooler, and I like to walk a lot more when it's cooler, so expect to see more posts about healthy food and fitness in the future. You know it's time to do something when your yoga pants are beginning to feel uncomfortable.

A year ago this week we were entertaining my dad, his wife and her cousin. As I recall, he spent Wednesday of that week in bed nearly all day. We'd worn him out! I was getting ready to have a big Thanksgiving dinner the next day. They left to go back to Florida Friday morning, but he didn't make it out of West Virginia. They stopped for brunch and he died as soon as he got back in their RV, in the parking lot of the restaurant.

I'm glad I'll be at the retreat this weekend. (We obviously didn't go last year.) It will be good to remember him there, surrounded by sober friends. I still want to call him and send him pictures and tell him about the garden and his grandchildren and their children. And I sure miss talking politics with him.

We'd have a lot to talk about.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

On Labor Day, I labored

It rained all day yesterday, and is still raining, as a matter of fact. Wanna see what 24 hours of rain looks like?
Two and a half inches and counting.

And the forecast calls for … more rain. Thank you, Lee! Where were you last month when the now-shriveled baby squash plants needed you?

I mustn't complain, though. Rainy weather outside means it's a good time to putter in the kitchen, and that's what I did yesterday.

First, I made a few jars of pickles from the okra I bought on my way home from North Carolina. I also bought a few raw peanuts, but no apples – organic apples probably don't sell as well as perfect, sprayed-with-pesticides ones do. I didn't explore the whole market, so organic apples might have been available, but I didn't find any.

When the pickles came out of the canner, I started emptying the pantry. Threw away a lot of stuff (one box of something had a Use By date of 2007 on it) and re-packaged and rearranged the rest. Everything fit with room to spare. I could use a couple more glass storage jars, but that problem will be solved when I begin using the canned tomatoes.

Dinner was sausage and homemade sauerkraut, baked in the oven and served with mashed potatoes, and after dinner I made a batch of granola.

Looks like I'll be laboring the day after Labor Day, as well, since all that cooking has left the stove a huge mess. There's also laundry to do. I will, for now, delay sweeping and mopping. Rain combined with an inside dog makes for many, many pawprints dotting the floors.

Did you see the Google doodle yesterday honoring what would have been Freddie Mercury's 65th birthday? It's still there, for now, click on the arrow to see how people celebrated being Freddie for a Day. I love how Queen's music spans generations – my teen-aged granddaughter loves Bohemian Rhapsody as much as I do.

Finally, the person I live with (that would be my husband) has a BMI of 23.6, which is smack-dab in the middle of the normal range. He's probably five or six pounds over his ideal weight. Believe me, I know how bad you feel when you can't seem to lose that last fifty five pounds. (For anyone new to Knit. Run. Reap. Eat., my BMI is significantly greater than 23.6. I am, in fact, on the cusp of morbidly obese. I should probably do something about that. Oh! That's what I've been doing for the last several months years lifetimes.)

But yesterday, if he said it once, he said it a dozen times: "I weigh more than I have in a really long time."

I humored him each time he said it, complimenting his appearance or praising him for the hard work he's been doing to get back to where he's most comfortable. At 9 p.m., when he said it again (did he think I didn't hear him the other umpteen times?), I'd had enough. I let him know, in no uncertain terms, that I knew precisely how he felt, that I understood exactly how frustrating it was for him and that I was completely done listening to him whine about it.

I think he got it. I sincerely hope he did.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Friday Quote Day

I've learned only that you never say never.
~ Marina von Neumann Whitman

I'll tell you right here and right now that Marina von Neumann Whitman was not the first person to never say never.

Case in point: I'm tempted to say I can never lose weight again. My metabolism is so screwed up, my age is working against me, I'm post-menopausal, blah, blah, blah. But … I lost a pound in August.

So there. Never say never.

The Fat2Fit guys would be so proud of me. Slow and steady wins the race and all that.

A pound doesn't sound like much, and it isn't really. My weight can vary by a pound or more from morning to night. Not that I weigh myself morning and night. (I used to. I'm so over that.) During the month of August I weighed myself twice: the 1st and the 20th. I'm not sure why the 20th happened, but I recorded my weight in the FatSecret app on my phone, so there you go.

(Aside: One of the diet tips on FatSecret is: STAY AWAY FROM CAKE. Heh.)

I weighed myself yesterday and am going to try not to weigh myself again until October 1.

I bet you'd love to know how I lost all that weight in just one month, right? Well I think the secret was switching to soy milk. (All kidding aside, I'm a new soy milk convert, the light vanilla is delicious!) Pretty soon I'm going out on a limb and try almond milk, as well.

Don't get me wrong. I'm still using fresh cow's milk for mozzarella, cottage cheese and yogurt. But the occasional glass of vanilla soy milk has totally revved up that lagging metabolism and blasted away four ounces per week.

One serious thing I've been consciously doing is eating a yogurt/oat/fruit concoction for breakfast nearly every day. I was a little worried at one point that I was setting my day up for a fall, because the fruit is either homemade-with-sugar strawberry jam or peach preserves. However, after my spectacular weigh-in yesterday I can throw that worry out the window.

Some people call the concoction overnight oats, but I usually forget to mix it up and let it mellow overnight. So basically I'm eating half a cup of plain yogurt with a quarter cup of old-fashioned uncooked oats and a tablespoon of preserves, all mixed up and eaten quickly, so as not to dwell on the fact that I'm eating minimally processed oats. (Sometimes I add chia or sunflower seeds and sometimes I sprinkle the whole mess with cinnamon. But basically I'm eating glop.)

Really, it's not so bad. The oats meld into the yogurt, and fruit preserves can mask a lot of gloppiness with some juicy, delicious gloppiness of its own.

Are you doing something fun for Labor Day? I'm visiting family in North Carolina and planning to hit the farmer's market on the way home. Last time I did that I bought peaches; this time I'm looking for okra and apples. My okra harvest, as I reported earlier, was not a total crop failure, but was too skimpy to make pickles. I love okra pickles and they are worth the trouble to make. My neighbor's apple tree produces fruit only every other year, so no free pommes this year, but with only one eight-ounce jar of apple jelly left to get me through the winter, I think I need to snag a bushel.

I also might get some raw peanuts with the idea of planting some, just to see what happens. I'm thinking our soil/climate is a little too wet for peanuts, but I'm willing to throw some in the ground and see what happens.

I appreciate all of you who take the time to share your thoughts with me in the comments, and all of you who lurk, too. It's time for you lurkers to come out of the virtual woodwork. Don't be shy! I know you talk to real people, you can talk to me, too.

Here's to college football, cooler temperatures, maybe even a little rain to end the summer season. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Oh, my aching _________

Fill in the blank.

I don't know which muscle group hurts the worst this morning. Shoulders? Back? And, frankly, back can be divided into upper and lower, even quadrants! Speaking of quadrants, the quadriceps are kind of ouchy, as well.

I'm too old to be slinging bricks.

And I was too busy yesterday to even think about how bad I hurt. I got a short (three miles) walk done mid-morning and was working on "stuff" the rest of the day.

Stuff included laundry, a couple graphic design projects, watering plants (oh, how we could use some rain; I was wrong about it earlier this week), making cottage cheese – nothing special or overwhelming, just a continuous flow of projects.

I like days like that. But I like days like today, too, when I can sleep in a little and all I have to do is go to a march and rally on Main Street in Beckley, WV.

I'm learning more and more about the NookColor, and honestly I would recommend it to anyone in the market for an ereader. The biggest difference between it and other tablet computers is it doesn't have a camera. I can check my e-mail and hop on the web. I can read books, magazines and .pdfs. I can play any number of games (maybe I'll finally hop on the sudoku bandwagon). With the right apps, I can create documents, although I find the touchscreen keyboard a bit tiresome, so I haven't acquired any kind of writing apps yet. I don't want to sound like an old fart, but I do like a real keyboard.

As I look around me right now, I'm typing on a MacBook Air while my BlackBerry buzzes on the tabletop and the Android-based Nook is charging nearby. It's not only electric … it's eclectic!

P.S. Just noticed this was my 700th post here at Knit. Run. Repeat. That's seven more than the total at The Shrinking Knitter. I guess this blogging thing has become a habit. Heh.