Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Moosejaw - my new favorite outdoor gear shop

Do you know about the outdoor gear company called Moosejaw? I only recently learned about them because they had a super-duper sale on Vibram Five Fingers.

They're having a big gift-card promotion right now, and I'd like to share with you their disclaimer:

Some uninteresting rules about the Free e-Gift Card thing...
  1. It's just one free e-Gift Card per order. So if you order two $261 items you still only get one free $51 e-Gift Card.
  2. If you order an item and get the free e-Gift Card and then return the item but don't return the e-Gift Card, we'll deduct the amount of the e-Gift Card from your credit. Sorry to be so mean about it.
  3. Qualifying item value is after any other applicable discounts and before tax and shipping charges.
  4. I love crunchy Peanut Butter.
  5. The deal cannot be combined with other promos, is good for in-stock items only and cannot be applied to prior purchases.
  6. Excludes products from Patagonia,Yakima, Western Mountaineering, Baby Jogger, Merrell, VIO, Scarpa, Chaco, MontBell, and select skiing and snowboarding products.
  7. This deal is good through December 4th, 2011, so please snap to. Marmot ends 11/28.
I especially love number 4. (And I also love crunchy peanut butter!)

From their e-mail confirmation for my order:
Way to go. You've won the best email receipt we've sent out all day. We recommend either printing this receipt and framing it in your foyer or using it as a screensaver. It would probably also be nice for you to forward it around to a couple friends and maybe even an enemy or two.
I will most definitely shop at this website again when I need outdoor stuff. The slight snarkiness (this is just a very small sampling, the website is full of it) appeals to me in much the same way that Southwest Airlines flight attendants' patter does. Or the item-description writers at American Science Surplus. (If you're in or near Milwaukee, this store is a must-see. I'm so sorry my daughter doesn't live there any more. But Nashville is closer to the Middle of Nowhere than Milwaukee was.)

Do you like it when a company adds a bit of humor when they take care of business? Or do you prefer your communication to be more on the straight-and-narrow side?

The End.

If you were hoping I was referring to the end of the blog, you'll be disappointed.

No, no, no, rather it's the end of NaBloPoMo, you silly goose. (I'm channeling my four-year-old granddaughter. Heh.)

The hardest part of this exercise was not, surprisingly, coming up with new material every day. I suppose living in the Middle of Nowhere, having little face-to-face contact with others and having lots of time on my hands contributes to the ease with which I can fill a blog post. I will readily admit that I'm better at quantity than quality.

It takes a certain bit of ego to just write about whatever pops into one's little head and assume it will be interesting/entertaining/informative/not-boring to both of you who eventually read it. Or, it takes no ego at all, if you think no one is going to read it. My older granddaughter was extremely surprised to learn that I've kept a journal for years when we played WhooNu last month. Whether it's for myself or published to the world matters little.

Since January of 2006, when I started writing at Shrinking Knitter, I've published nearly 1500 posts. It's hard to still call it a weight-loss blog. Six years later it's more of a weight-management effort, with the emphasis on effort. Some days are better than others. Heck, some years are better than others!

Especially that first year. I posted progress photos every week. I kept a physical journal along with the blog, which I still have and which I haven't looked at in months. I lost a bunch of weight that first winter, then leveled off when I started running.

When I switched from SK to this blog, I added running to my list of topics; it was originally called Knit. Run. Repeat. As food growing and cooking started taking over, my good friend Marilyn suggested splitting the "Repeat" into "Reap. Eat." and the current incarnation was reborn. I like it this way, although I sometimes feel like an impostor because the "Run" part is, um, not so much any more.

Anyway. The hardest part was writing while I was traveling, and I traveled a bit more this year than I have in Novembers past. I try to write every weekday anyway, so adding weekends wasn't too much of a stretch.

At any rate, it's done. My first NaBloPoMo is in the books. During this month some crazy stuff has happened, some of which I haven't shared because it's not relevant or it's too personal. Some of the most personal stuff, though, is right there for the whole world to find. Tomorrow will be most likely be more of the same, and I thank you kindly for joining me.

I sure do wish I'd written this

The Fat Pastor weighs in on the hypocrisy of those who get all bent out of shape if you say "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas."

This is the first time I've ever read this blog, but I'm going to be exploring it a bit and will probably add it to my Google reader.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

No, really, you shouldn't have

What NOT to get me for Christmas.

Mass delete

And I'm not talking about Massachusetts' Mitt Romney, although I probably could be.

I don't check my e-mail much when I travel, so by this morning there were 600+ messages in my inbox. I searched for "Black Friday" and "Cyber Monday" and reduced the clutter to slightly more than 400.

Wish I could clean my kitchen that quickly!

Okay, so here's what I think about some of the waxing and waning GOP candidates. Disclaimer: This analysis is incomplete and definitely not in-depth. I haven't studied and my news sources lean to the left.

So Mitt. Certainly looks presidential, in a wooden Al Gore or John Kerry kind of way, but like all the rest of them it appears he'll say what he thinks you want to hear. The DNC has produced commercials highlighting some of his more egregious flip-flops, including lauding President Obama for incorporating some of the Romney health-care ideas into the abomination known as the Affordable Healthcare Act, and then promising to abolish "Obamacare" once he settles into the White House. I do not think Mitt has the best interests of the country at heart, just as I don't think he had the best interests of his Massachusetts constituents at heart when he mandated health insurance there.

(Aside: I abhor the term "Obamacare." Aside 2: If you're new here, I support single-payer health care. You know, the kind the rest of the industrialized world enjoys. Oh, and our own veterans. Our government would rather spend its our children's and grandchildren's money on war than the health of its citizens, apparently.)

Gingrich: C'mon. I've been married four times and you don't hop from marriage to marriage without a little dallying on the side. Seriously, I know whereof I speak. (I hope my grandchildren never find my blog.) Will the party of "family values" seriously consider someone as their candidate who they have previously censored and run out of town? Serial husband Newt (Newt? Seriously? President Newt?), however, might be the GOP's Slick Willy.

(I feel fairly certain that just about every Presidential candidate and every President, with the exception of Truman, Carter and the current officeholder, has enjoyed the company of someone other than his wife. I just find Gingrich's hypocrisy in this matter a bit much.)

Texas's Governor Perry appears to be Bush Lite. And it appears that he enjoys a Busch Lite or six to loosen up before he goes on camera. I think that's all I need to say about that.

In my recent travels, I've already, nearly a year away from the 2012 election, seen more Ron Paul signs than any others. They're not left over from the last election, either. This is worrisome to me, as I think Paul would strip away most of the safeguards government currently provides. The Libertarian philosophy is admirable in many ways – what I do is my business, as long as I don't hurt you – and I even agree with some of the planks in their platform (the war on drugs is patently unwinnable and extremely expensive). But he's too extreme, even for extreme conservatives. You know, the ones who were shouting, "Keep your hands off my Medicare!" at the health-care debates. And not everyone can mind their own business.

Cain appears to be out of the running, after yesterday's BREAKING NEWS of a 13-year, off-and-on alleged affair with an Atlanta businesswoman. I also have to wonder, and forgive me if this comes out awkwardly, who my racist white neighbors would vote for if the race were between President Obama and Herman Cain? I've been called a "n*****-lover" because I have an Obama bumper sticker. I try to remind them that his mother looked like theirs.

Finally there's Michelle Bachmann. I don't think you need to be a psychiatrist to call her CRA-ZEE. And you don't need to be a teacher to recognize her lack of basic knowledge. And you don't have to be a life coach to cringe when she shares her lack of basic knowledge in a crazy way in public. She doesn't have a clue. Or a chance.

So there you have it: The Knit. Run. Reap. Eat. rundown of the GOP primary race. As it stands now, anyway. Too bad Tim Pawlenty has officially withdrawn. He has warm, charming, smart and looked good on camera. If our elections weren't rigged to be purchased by the highest contributor, he might still be a viable candidate.

Not that I'd vote for him.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Home sweet home

After hours and hours of driving, including solid, bumper-to-bumper traffic for one of those hours, punctuated by a trip to Sam's Club (where I meant to buy three bags of regular coffee but picked up decaf and I meant to buy paper towels but instead loaded toilet paper into the cart and WHAT WAS I THINKING?!?), I slept for 11 hours last night and feel like an old woman. Heh.

Anne commented the other day that my blog is about a lot of things, not necessarily just What I Am Doing Today. And it is. I'm all over the map. I like it that way, and hope you do, too. I will say, however, that when I write about politics, especially, it's usually because I have some deep thoughts or strong opinions about something that's just happened.

You may notice the absence of deep thoughts or strong opinions about the Occupy movement. It's not because I don't stand (figuratively) with the Occupiers. I believe in making a statement if you have something to say, and they are absolutely making a statement.

I think my lack of comment is more a reaction to a former friend. Her blog used to be all about her animals and her garden and her homestead and her self-sustaining life. Our friendship is, sadly, no more,  but I still check in on her blog occasionally.

She's a new woman, sharing multiple links to Daily Kos and Keith Olbermann, along with urgent suggestions to send sleeping bags and money and pizzas to the campers. I've nothing against her activism, Lord knows I've been there, done that.

But this issue isn't mine. I can certainly look at the situation and see the U.S. economy going downhill fast, and taking the 99% with it. But I feel helpless to do anything more than to secure myself and my little spot in the Middle of Nowhere. My thoughts about the movement are confused and muddled, even while I support what they're doing.

Having spent the weekend in a mecca of consumerism, I'm waaay glad to be home. I might have to head to the somewhat-local Sam's Club for toilet paper, though. Heh.

And tomorrow? Maybe I'll share how I feel about the Republican presidential contenders. Then again …

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Getaway day

So, here I am on a major northbound highway which has turned into a parking lot for the time being. I don't know what lies ahead. Accident? Flashing blue lights, which inevitably encourage rubbernecking?

More than likely it will be nothing at all, or at least nothing I can see or label.

My head aches, I'm hungry and home is still two hours away. Or three, at the rate things are going. I want to be home.

At any rate, the slowdown has provided ample opportunity to add another post for this month. When life gives you lemons ...


Sent from my U.S. Cellular BlackBerry® smartphone

Saturday, November 26, 2011

To lay down my (virtual) pen

Oh, how I would love to not have this obligation today. I'm not obligated to you, not even obligated to NaBloPoMo. I'm obligated to me. I made a promise and I will keep it. Thirty days. Every day. A daily blog post, no matter what.

My travels are nearly always to visit the not-so-far-flung members of my family. I'm able to drive to my destinations within a few hours, and I don't dislike the driving, especially when I've popped a good audiobook onto the iPod.

My current visit has been lovely and fun and relaxing.

My problem with not wanting to write when I travel is that the other promise I've made to myself is to not write about them – the family members – here. I'm not sure what kind of blog this is – it doesn't fit so neatly into a weight-loss or running or foodie category, though it began, years ago, as a way for me to document the eternal losing of the lard. I know what kind of blog it isn't, though, and it isn't one where I share my children's and grandchildren's lives.

And so I feel inauthentic when I post while I'm visiting one or the other of them. Like I'm making things up and being less than open. You don't care, you probably don't even notice.

But it's quite difficult for me, who so easily spills the daily drivel of my Middle-of-Nowhere world, to hold back when I find myself in civilization again.

So today's post (finally, right?) will be about how I felt as we headed out yesterday to pick up some things at Kohl's.

I don't much care to shop anywhere, and Kohl's – while their reasonably priced goods are of perfectly fine quality – seems crowded and claustrophobic to me, at least the few times I've been there in the past. You can imagine how unsettled I was at the thought of going there on Black Friday.

There wasn't much traffic on the way, which was nice, perhaps lulling me into a sense of "this isn't going to be so bad after all." The parking lot was packed, of course, but we didn't have trouble finding a spot to land.

Inside, however, people and carts and baskets and children and sales staff and even dropped merchandise jammed the aisles. I worried that my purse would shatter the delicate Christmas ornaments on display. (And I idly wondered how many of those ornaments actually survived their trip from China to North Carolina.)

Once I settled down a bit, I realized this was a good opportunity to actually, um, do some shopping. That's what stores are for, right? I found flannel sheets to give to my sister and bathroom rugs for my guest bath. Black Friday. Done.

Today is Small Business Saturday. We're heading out to a small area of a distant city where the shops will be owned by individuals, not big corporations. Our goal is not really to support small businesses, if we wanted to do that we could stay here to do that. But it will be nice to have a destination where we can enjoy some holiday spirit. And maybe a Moravian spice cookie with tea.

I hope your day is filled with holiday joy. Or football. I'll be heading home tomorrow, back to real life in the Middle of Nowhere.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Turkey (Day) wrap (up)

I'm spending the weekend with family, and decided to travel on Thanksgiving morning rather than fight the Wednesday night traffic. The irony of listening to an audiobook called The Man Who Couldn't Eat as I headed toward a Thanksgiving feast was not lost on me.

It didn't stop me from enjoying my dinner, and I didn't overeat. One small serving of each side dish, a slice of white meat and a small piece of turtle cheesecake for dessert. More calories than I usually eat for dinner, but who's counting on Thanksgiving?

The remainder of the weekend looks like lots of fun, too: a tiny bit of Black Friday shopping this morning, a walk this afternoon (hoping my heel is completely healed), and some quality time with my younger granddaughter this evening, while her parents enjoy a night on the town.

She and I will be shopping for supplies to make these adorable little tree ornaments, and we'll spend the evening crafting. We're going to make a lot of them so she can share them with her teachers, cousins and neighbors, too.

We'll be celebrating a birthday Saturday and I'm heading back home (and listening to the rest of the audiobook) Sunday. Let the holiday celebrations begin!

I don't usually blog when I'm traveling, but because I've made the NaBloPoMo commitment, I'm going to try. Apologies in advance for space-filling blather!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanks …

for reading, commenting, sharing, helping, giving me so much more than I can give in return. You bloggers and blog-readers are the best. I look forward to writing every day, even on the weekends during this most wonderful time of the year.

Thanks …
for helping me through some tough, tough times and cheering me on when the load got lighter. And I'm not just talking about my weight. Heh.

Thanks …
for inspiring me to knit more, plant more, cook more, eat more. I'm just not reading the right blogs to be inspired to run more, but I did order some of those Vibram Five Fingers thingies, so maybe I'll get inspired. (They were super-super cheap at Moosejaw Outlet.)

Thanks …
for encouraging me to take more pictures and to post them here, on Facebook and on my 365 blog. You didn't even know you were doing that, did you?

Thanks …
for introducing me to your favorite bloggers. I love linkfests (and should do more of them myself).

Thanks …
for technology, for without it, I never would have met you.
A small token of thanks was mailed to Jennette yesterday.
Thanks for your humor, inspiration and friendship!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

An attitude of gratitude

I've missed three consecutive weeks of showing up for my volunteer gig at the nearby federal prison, but felt well enough to go in last night. (If you've only recently started reading, I help facilitate an AA meeting at a women's prison every Tuesday evening.)

For the past several years, we volunteers have encouraged the inmates to share what they're grateful for during the Thanksgiving week meeting. The first year we did it, I was a little worried. What could someone stuck in prison possibly be grateful for, especially when their Thanksgiving dinner was going to be eaten far from their homes and families?

I was surprised and touched by the shared feelings then, and I have been every year since. It's my favorite meeting of the year. I was so grateful not to be coughing, sneezing and sniffling my way through the meeting.

Many of the women don't care to speak at the meeting, so anyone is permitted to pass. There were about 80 women in attendance and the first three rows pretty much all declined to share anything at all. I was a little worried at that point. But seriously? In a room full of women, all focused on recovery, I didn't have a thing to worry about.

These women lift me up, without fail, with their insight and grace. They're grateful for their families' support, for their mothers or grandmothers who are raising their children while they're locked up, for their relatives who send them money every month to supplement the $15 a month they earn at their prison jobs, for their children's forgiveness and unconditional love.

Photo by Andy Dean
They're grateful for the friends they've made inside. These women come from all walks of life – doctors, accountants, waitresses, housekeepers, teachers, prostitutes, drug dealers. Many would never have crossed paths in Washington, D.C., or St. Louis, MO, or Columbus, OH. But they are sisters in prison, sharing shampoo and hot chocolate packets and advice and laughter and tears.

They're grateful for their recovery, for learning to deal with their feelings instead of hiding in a bottle or behind a crack pipe. As the fog of addiction lifts, they realize their strengths and begin using them to deal with life's lemons. One small success leads to another and one day it occurs to them that feeling good feels pretty good.

They're grateful the warden allows an AA meeting to be held every week at the prison, and they're grateful for us, the volunteers who take our time to bring it to them. And they don't believe us when we tell them we need them more than they need us.

Most surprising of all is that they're grateful for the snitch or the co-defendant or the police or the judge or the answered prayer (Please, God, help me stop destroying my life) that landed them in prison. Most of them give God the credit for sitting them down in a confined place far from the worries and responsibilities they couldn't deal with sober. They have an opportunity to learn from their mistakes, to work on themselves, to think about how they've lived in the past and what they'd like their future to look like.

I'm grateful to be a part of it. And if I weren't an alcoholic, I'd never have gotten the chance.

Thanks for reading. What are you grateful for?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

And speaking of peppers …

Fox News's Megyn Kelly last night declared pepper spray to be "a food product." Oh, yes, she did. I don't watch it, but it's all over Facebook and the internets. And if you're wondering why everyone is talking about pepper spray, under what rock have you been living? And may I join you?

Final harvest. I think.

There's still some green parsley out there, which I may or may not cut and dry. If not, then yesterday's project was, indeed, the final harvest of 2011.

Half of the total yield.
And more than a year's supply.
I bought a six-pack of jalapeno pepper plants in the spring. One plant would have been plenty, but they were available in six-packs for, oh, a couple bucks, probably way less than that. I stuck them in the garden and watched them grow. And grow. And produce dozens of peppers per plant. More peppers than I can use and more peppers than I could give away.

I let them go from dark green to chili-pepper red, picking the nicest ones and leaving the remaining plants in the ground. I'll get rid of them next spring. That's the kind of fall gardener I am: If I can't deal with it right away, it'll be there next year. Kind of like dust bunnies under the bed.

So these peppers have been sitting in a basket on my porch for a couple months, not rotting but not drying, either. Yesterday I decided to move the process along and make my own crushed red pepper. I predict it will be much hotter than your typical supermarket variety.

Stop me if you've heard this one before: Be sure to wear rubber gloves when handling hot peppers. Also? To reduce the heat, discard the seeds. The flesh of the pepper will be strong enough to add all the heat you need. Unless you have a cast-iron stomach.

Did I wear rubber gloves when I started this project yesterday morning? No, I did not. Which meant, had you been my sous chef, you'd have found me scrubbing my hands, nails and face with a brush before I was finished. You have no idea how many times you touch your face, especially when you're handling jalapenos. (I guess if you'd been my sous chef, you would have been scrubbing your face. But you probably would have been smart enough to wear rubber gloves.)

Stemmed, split, into the oven.
I first cut the stems off, then sliced each one in half, keeping the seeds because all the crushed red pepper I've ever seen has seeds in it. I then placed them on a rack on a cookie sheet that went into a low oven (150°) mid-morning. I saved one pepper to add to a bean-and-sausage stew I was making for dinner. I discarded the seeds and diced half of it very finely. The stew was, um, plenty hot with just half a small diced seeded pepper.

Half a day later.
I began to rethink my keep-the-seeds plan. Oh, well. Too late.

The peppers continued to dry overnight on the counter and this morning I put the food processor to work again. It took a couple minutes to crush them to the desired size. In fact, some of the pieces are still a little large. But look at how pretty this is! Crushed red pepper from the store isn't this vibrant or richly colored. I'm making barbecued beef (I added smoked paprika, crushed red pepper and about a teaspoon of horseradish to the sauce ingredients) for dinner tonight; I'll let you know how it tastes.

What would I do without a food processor?
I need to add a condiment shelf to the freezer. Or maybe a small box. It seems like the freezer would be the best place to store this, given that some pieces of the final product are still a little flexible. I wouldn't want to grab a jar of crushed rotten red pepper this winter when I want to make chili.

In addition to the crushed red pepper and horseradish, I keep ginger and sun-dried tomatoes in the freezer. And probably other stuff I've forgotten about.

Like dust bunnies.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Indoor crops

Today I am inspired by a post I read last week on Faith's blog, Gracefulfitness. Faith wrote about forcing paperwhites indoors, something I've never tried. I love the fragrance of those delicate flowers, as well as their cousins, daffodils. But I like the look of them outdoors, so I planted 50 daffodils over the weekend near the edge of a little pine grove at the far end of our front yard.

My indoor gardening is, of course, food. Because that's how I roll. (And if I don't quit coughing and don't get some energy back so that I can begin walking again, I will – literally – be rolling. I'm at the waddling stage right now. Kidding! I haven't gained a pound since I got sick. Un-effing-believable!)

So. Back to my indoor garden. The light was lovely the other day and I took lots of pictures of the current crop. Only one plant is purely decorative; the rest are producing fruit and herbs. In the case of the lime tree, lots o' fruit! See?




















The entire garden, except for the lemon and lime trees, fits on a shelf. How handy!
The spider plant, in the large pot on the left, isn't just decorative. Spider plants purify the air, absorbing carbon dioxide. I rescued mine from an outdoor planter at summer's end. I've seen significant new growth and there are several shoots with little baby spider plants on them.
Three of the plants are herbs, and when I figure out what to do with the supplies currently stored on the lower shelf I intend to add more. Right now I'm growing chives, rosemary and something that I think is spearmint, but it could just be a weed. It tastes like spearmint and it hasn't killed me yet. I noticed it growing vigorously in the new landscape bed we installed this summer as I was cutting things back, so I popped it in a pot to see what would happen.
The rosemary and chives were well-established in my herb bed and I use both of them frequently when I cook, so it made sense (to me) to bring them indoors. Fresh herbs trump dried in my kitchen.
The other plant on the upper shelf is a new Meyer lemon tree. (I bought it before my daughter donated one to my collection.) It's only about six inches tall now, and it will be three years before it fruits. I think that shows extreme confidence in both my gardening skills and the quality of my health. Heh.

So what will I be adding to the lower shelf? Basil, basil and more basil, although I understand it's difficult to grow indoors. But I'm willing to try. I believe I've turned into a plant person.

For the past three years I've been dabbling in gardening, but feel like I've been on my way to being a real gardener. In that time, I've learned a lot and added some fruit (strawberries and blackberries) to the vegetable bed and general landscaping (apple trees).

The new landscaped bed in front of the house is purely decorative and I think that's what pushed me into the "real gardener" category. When you start growing things for how they look instead of for just how they taste, I think you've graduated. Will I ever be a master gardener? Not on your life. That takes a lot of work and effort and study and so far gardening has been fun, fun and more fun. I wouldn't want to change that for anything.

The bottom line is this: If you admire others' gardens and are tempted to dip your toe in the earth, so to speak, go ahead. You're not going to lose much if you have a crop failure. (You have no idea how disappointed I was to not get any butternuts this year. No idea!) You'll gain immense satisfaction when you see that first strawberry to add to your morning cereal, or asparagus soaring – literally – inches overnight (I highly recommend asparagus as a first crop, even though you'll have to wait a year to eat it), or the most magical of all – garlic, which survives in the ground over the winter to produce a truly bountiful harvest in July and opens up another bedding area to plant in late summer.

The possibilities and rewards are endless. And delicious!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Dinner!

My husband said it was the best horseradish he'd ever eaten in his whole life. Heh. It's pretty amazing stuff, actually. Much more pungent than the kind I usually buy at the grocery.
Roasted butternut squash sprinkled with cinnamon and drizzled with maple
syrup, braised cabbage and pork medallion with freshly grated horseradish.

Harvesting and processing horseradish

I suppose this is another of those "why bother" crops. Why bother growing horseradish if you seldom eat it? Why bother processing something that you can buy for about a buck at the grocery? Why go to the trouble, why use up the garden space, why, why, why?

I probably wouldn't have ever even looked for horseradish root to grow if my late father hadn't suggested it. He thought it would be a wonderful addition to my garden and had great memories of growing it as a boy on their little truck farm. He told me how to turn it from a big old root into the smooth, creamy condiment you use on pork roast and beef and in cocktail sauce and (my favorite) deviled eggs.

After he died, I made it a mission to find some. I asked the Amish, but they don't grow it. I couldn't find roots from any of my usual seed sources. One day I was wandering around our little local department store – kind of a mini Wal-Mart – and there it was. A cardboard box with three little roots of horseradish, about as big as baby carrots. The planting instructions were printed on the box. For less than two dollars, I had what I needed.

I stuck them in a bricked-in planter box in front of my house, a good-sized space where I planted herbs last spring. After a couple of months, the first little leaves sprouted. It was alive. I hadn't killed it.


I didn't do anything special to it, other than make sure it got watered during dry spells. By the end of the summer it was quite lush and had taken over a good part of the lower end of the herbs, next to the parsley.


I began doing some online research about what, exactly, to do with it, and when. Daddy wasn't around for advice, but I found Tom Clothier's Garden Walk and Talk website through a Google search, which told me everything I needed to know. The website contains a wealth of gardening information.

Tom said the best time to harvest is in November, after the second killing frost. I don't know how many killing frosts we've had this fall so far, but it's been more than two, so I decided yesterday was going to be the day.

I first cut off all the leaves so I could see what I was doing, and then used a shovel to dig around the root. I pulled it out of the ground, leaving a couple root pieces in the dirt for next year. I also replanted the crown after I'd cut the large root off.

I scrubbed it in the sink with a brush and then trimmed the outer layer with a potato peeler. I cut it into small chunks and cut away any brown spots, of which there were few.



Horseradish is pungent, and processing horseradish is best done outdoors or in front of an open window. I have a small table on my porch, and an outside electrical outlet, so I set up shop outside.

It takes more time to prepare the root and assemble all the various necessary items – a 50/50 vinegar/water mixture, a small spatula, jars for storage, a strainer (which I ended up not needing) and the food processer – than it does to grind it up. My root yielded enough pieces to process two batches in my three-cup machine.


I put the pieces into the food processor and flipped the switch. Horseradish root breaks down easily and in only a couple minutes it was chopped enough that I could begin adding a little of the vinegar-water mixture, which breaks down the root even more. Coarsely chopped horseradish is mildly flavored; if you want it hot, you need to keep grinding.


 
 
Which I did, until it looked creamy and spreadable. My root yielded two eight-ounce glass jars, but I didn't fill them all the way. One is now in the refrigerator and the other is in the freezer. I might not even have to go through this next year. Horseradish can grow from one winter to the next and is frequently harvested every other year.


So. A couple years' supply of horseradish, ready to eat, in less than half an hour. The satisfaction of doing this myself far outweighs the space it took in the garden and the minimal mess it made. It's hard for me to explain why in a way that makes sense. After all, how many people do you know who are sentimental about horseradish? Heh.

Horseradish isn't something that's on my menu every day. But I think I'll get a pork roast out of the freezer for tomorrow.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

And while I'm waxing political …

isn't it about time for a good protest song?

Government by committee

Do either of you U.S. readers have any confidence in the so-called Super Committee that is supposed to come up with a plan to reduce the deficit and get this country back on a secure economic path?

Yeah, me neither.

I haven't waxed political here in quite a while, but I was recently re-elected president of our local Democratic women's group, so I guess I ought to be paying attention. (I do pay attention, I just don't write about it much.) Our group is committed to electing Democrats at the local, state and national level, and we'll get to do a lot of that in 2012.

I hope.

Tea Party Republicans have been nothing but obstructionists. Moderate Republicans are afraid to challenge them. Blue Dog Democrats are feeling their power increase and We The People are left to wonder who the hell is in charge.

President Obama needs a Democratic Congress in order to create jobs, improve water and air quality, reduce the deficit and provide more nutritious school lunches to low-income children. As long as Republicans control the House and as long as the Senate isn't filibuster-proof, nothing good will get done.

Well, not nothing, but nearly so. In unanimous votes last week, the Senate (95-0) and the House (422-0) agreed to part of the President's jobs bill which provides incentives to employers who hire veterans.

Who's going to vote against veterans? No one in this war-mongering Congress, that's for sure.

I've nothing against veterans. The best way we can support them is to bring them home. And that appears to be happening, slowly and at great cost to this country. I wonder, however, just how many jobs are available for them, when there've been none available for the rest of us? (Not that I'm looking, but my daughter-in-law and son-in-law were both casualties.)

So what am I going to do to make my voice heard? I've signed a couple of petitions asking Congress to leave Social Security alone. I need to get some thoughts down on paper that will educate voters on the real political issues affecting us now and our children's futures.

Because God, guns and gays are not real political issues.

Not a whole lot can get done on Saturday, though, so I'm going to take advantage of my improving health and a lovely day to plant daffodils and make horseradish. The horseradish project might even be good for my sinuses.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday Quote Day

Wishes change nothing.
Decisions change everything.
~ Anonymous

Any one of us who has written a weight-loss blog for any length of time could have spit out this week's quote. (I've neglected Friday Quote Day this month, for no real reason other than I've had Other Important Things to say. Heh.)

I started Friday Quote Day as a way to not have to come up with an idea, a theme, to write about at least one day a week. Fridays were for posting an inspirational and pithy line or two and just riffing off it for a few paragraphs. Sometimes I remained inspired by the quote for several days. Sometimes I couldn't remember it an hour after the post was published.

The quotes which have made my refrigerator cut have nothing to do with weight loss or fitness or achieving goals. I've posted thoughts about anger and anti-consumption and service, such as:
"Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants." ~ Esther De Waal
"Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?' " ~ Martin Luther King Jr.
These speak more to my everyday life than something someone happened to say about weight-loss success.

On a day-to-day basis, I'm usually (past couple of SICK weeks excepted) planning a meeting for our local Democratic women or thinking about the prison AA meeting or wondering what to fix for dinner or what to knit next or whether I should sell all my yarn or how I can help my children or grandchildren.

My husband and I play a game or two of Super Scrabble almost every day. We talk about politics and health care and spirituality and sobriety and his mother.

He's proud of me for who I am, not for how I look. He's probably be prouder if I looked like Betty Draper, but I never have and never will and he knows that and it doesn't matter. Especially during these past two weeks, he's been very concerned about how I feel and how I'm taking care of this cold and I wonder if he's worried about what would happen if something really bad happened to me.

I know I am.

Just as you can't wish to be thin and make it so, you can't wish to be truly well and over a respiratory bug. But you can't just decide to be thin or well, either. Decision must lead to action. As far as this cold goes, it will have to run its course. I have called the doctor and taken over-the-counter remedies and stocked up on tissues and rested, rested, rested. I coughed my way through a meeting last night and learned that others have been afflicted for four or five weeks.

Weeks!

And as far as attaining a healthy weight goes? That might never happen, for me or for you. But my decision is more about treating myself well by eating healthful, home-cooked meals and keeping my bones, muscles and joints strong and active. Theoretically, following this plan should result in a loss of pounds. But in the end, it's what's inside – inside my skin and inside my head – that counts.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A chill in the air

Tornadoes in the south. Snow in the midwest. Rain and storms in the Pacific northwest. And here in the Middle of Nowhere? Chilly!

It's 39 right now, with a high of 40 predicted for today. And more rain. And snow (but no accumulation, thankfully).

My husband hates cold weather. Cold weather is so reviled around here that there has been talk, should we come into a pile o' cashmoneybucks (Publisher's Clearinghouse, anyone?), of buying a second home somewhere south of here. Or even of moving altogether, although I can't ever imagine him leaving southern West Virginia for good.

It's a lovely dream. I'm not as uncomfortable in cold weather as my husband is, but I certainly remember how wonderful it was to walk on a sunny Florida beach near my dad's when it was 75 degrees while West Virginia was snow-covered and freezing.

It's not fun to knit in warm weather, though, if you like knitting with wool, as I do. So a day like this is most welcome. Now that the newsboy cap is finished, I've started the first of two pairs of fingerless gloves, little gifts for blog friends who have inspired and informed and entertained me for many years. Half of one pair is nearly finished, thanks to Netflix. (The combination of cold weather and Mad Men is the perfect storm of knitting. Heh.)

I'd be finished with the first one by now but I had to rip a couple inches of it out. I started with one pattern, decided I wanted to use a different one, couldn't find it (what is it about my recent penchant for losing pattern books?), looked one more time in one more place and yay! Found it! Ripping a couple inches out of a 50-stitch glove is not as traumatic as ripping a couple inches out of a 250-stitch sweater.

Ask me how I know.

I've been knitting since I was nine years old and I've learned that if you're going to do it, you might as well do it right. You'll never be happy with the project if you don't. Whether anyone else notices a split stitch, a wayward purl, a miscrossed cable or not, you will know the flaw is present, and you'll push that sweater or scarf to the back of the closet or the bottom of the drawer. You might as well just rip and reknit and get it right so you can wear it without apology for the invisible-to-a-non-knitter mistake.

The only exception to this rule, for me anyway, is socks. If I've done something wrong on the part of a sock which will be covered by a shoe, I can live with it. If, however, I'm going to wear said sock with Birkenstock sandals, it's better to get it right.

Does this make me a perfectionist? Not at all. It's all about my comfort level. Comfort is my racket, so if something is going to bug me, I might as well fix it.

That's what the October experiment was all about. I want to be more comfortable with my body, and I defined some strategies to help me get there. I was doing pretty well until I got plantar fasciitis and a cold. My motivation is gone, for now, but it'll come back.

Right now I'm concentrating on coughing, sneezing and blowing my nose, as you both know all too well. Today is two weeks since the first cough. I'm soooo much better, but still not where I need to be, energy-wise, to get back on the horse. This forced rest has done great things for the PF, though.

There's always something for which to be grateful.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I'm in love with this hat

The cap is blocking over a child's ball. I could have stretched
it over a bowl, but I didn't want the lower edge to stretch out.
I just wish I could remember what book it came out of. My copy of the pattern doesn't even have a page number on it.

To recap (heh, get it? Recap?): Eight triangular sections are knit separately and sewn together with the seam on the outside, for that grungy look. You then pick up stitches along three sections and knit a bill. Knit an identical separate bill piece and sew it to the attached one.

Yes, I'd rather knit than sew, and there's a lot of sewing to this little project. But I think it's worth the effort. There's no way you could get this look by knitting in the round.

Whaddya think?

At the half

NaBloPoMo is half done, can you believe it?

While my posts this month have been, um, less than inspired – how many ways can one say one is tired of sneezing, coughing and blowing one's nose, after all? – I haven't yet felt like I needed to use one of the daily NaBloPoMo prompts. I've looked at a couple of them, but when I tried to formulate a thought worthy of committing to blog, it felt too much like an assignment.

Easier just to tell you how tired I am of sneezing, coughing and blowing my nose. Heh.

(My son has informed me he's going to collect a dollar from me every time I use "heh" in an e-mail to him. Heh. I like "heh" better than "haha," "LOL" or smiley faces, but he, apparently, does not.)

I've been thinking about Christmas the last couple of weeks. How could you not, when every retail outlet has been stocked and decorated since before Halloween? Maybe next year will be the totally handmade Christmas of my dreams, but it ain't gonna happen this year. I have lots of ideas but, of course, not enough time to even order supplies, let alone make the cool gifts I'd love to give.

I will be making doll clothes for my four-year-old granddaughter's dolls, and she also wants pajama pants. I have the fabric and pattern for those, although I suspect she'll still reach for a nightgown if she has a choice. She's a girly, girly, girly girl who loves wearing anything that twirls or has ruffles.

My grandson's newsboy cap is more than halfway completed and I actually think it will fit and look quite handsome on him. I'll post a picture when it's done.

Craftsy.com suggests that if you want to have a handmade Christmas, you should obviously plan ahead, and offers these suggestions:
  • Make a checklist of all of the things you’d like to make.
  • Mark a calendar with each project‚ allotting it a certain length of time for completion.
  • Gather up all of the patterns and supplies that you’ll need for each project in advance‚ so that you’re not running to the hobby store at the last minute.
  • Be realistic. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to finish too much.
These are things I probably should have done on September 15, not mid-November.

I felt this sense of disappointment last year, and the year before, and have for several unfulfilled years. What I should do is make one (or more) gift per month all year long. By the time December rolls around, I'd be done. But it never seems to work out that way.

How about you? Do you give handmade gifts for the holidays? How do you manage your time in order to complete everything on time? Do you (as I have done) wrap a photo of the item along with a promise to complete it before the end of January? Or do you ask for suggestions and go to amazon.com to do all your shopping in one swell foop?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sometimes it's not so great being right

I was right about what I thought would happen if I called the doctor. They wanted me to come in, they agreed that there are a lot of patients being seen with lingering colds and they completely understood that sitting in a waiting room of hacking, coughing, sneezing people probably wasn't going to aid my recovery.

So my husband went to Rite-Aid and brought home some Thera-Flu, which seems to be quite effective. I predict that by Thursday (the 14th day), I shall be completely back to normal. Which I probably would have been, Thera-Flu or no Thera-Flu.

I did a lot of knitting and Mad Men watching yesterday, and it was so much fun that when I woke up – wide awake – at 4 a.m. I did it again. I only have five more episodes of Season Three and all of Season Four to go. New season begins in January, I think.

And I only have to finish sewing three more pieces together to complete the top of the newsboy cap. However, I think it's going to be too small. Not too small to go around my grandson's head, but not deep enough to go from his ears to the top and still have any room left. Maybe I can block it a little bigger. Or maybe I can pick up stitches around the lower edge and add some kind of border or ribbing or something.

Or maybe I can make a new one, using larger needles. I really like the yarn (which has been discontinued), and I have a lot of it "in stock." It would be a good thing to make a dent in it. And in the rest of the knitting stash, for that matter. Whether I end up selling it or knitting it, making a dent would be progress.

And you know what they say: Progress, not perfection. (No chance of perfection here in the Middle of Nowhere!)

Monday, November 14, 2011

A little mid-day inspiration

I read about this guy in Runner's World yesterday. I'm putting it here so I won't forget about him. And so I won't think I can't do something equally awesome.

Guess what!

I'm not going to bitch about my 11-day-old cold this morning! (I'm calling the doctor, but I don't expect any magic cures.)

I ate a small serving of this most delicious bean-and-sausage stew last night around 7 p.m., and then rinsed and put my dirty dishes into the dishwasher. As I gazed into the racks, this thought occurred to me:

My husband does not know how to load a dishwasher.

The larger soup bowl he had used earlier in the evening was tilting haphazardly in the top rack. The ladle was rinsed and sitting on the counter, after he had already asked me where it was supposed to go.

In the lower rack were a plastic cup and a plastic storage container and three coffee mugs.

My son-in-law can load three days' worth of dishes into a dishwasher with room to spare. How did my husband miss this particular skill?

He has plenty of good qualities, believe me, but he's not very detail-oriented when it comes to household things. (He's a retired physician and was very detail-oriented when it came to his patients! Maybe he used up all his detail skills in his practice.)

Anyway. I reloaded the dishwasher, set the timer and went back to bed, to sleep and cough the night away. (Does that count as bitching? I hope not. Apologies if needed …)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

On second thought ...

perhaps I'll stay in bed and try not to cough for another day.

Sooooo tired of the coughing.


Sent from my U.S. Cellular BlackBerry® smartphone

Still coughing, still sneezing, still miserable

Enough is enough. It's been 10 days today since I first started coughing. I'm so grateful to not have a sore throat, that was the worst part. But I'm so tired of coughing and blowing my nose and sneezing and just feeling drained, drained, drained.

Our little visitors and their dad left yesterday afternoon. We all had a wonderful time, except me, because I couldn't hug them or kiss them or play outside with them. They didn't seem to notice, they're three-year-old boys, after all, and I was not the center of their world. But we seldom see them, and I really wanted to be feeling better when they came.

I really want to be feeling better period!

My wealth health insurance doesn't cover doctor's office visits, and what can a doctor give you for a cold that I'm not already taking? Antibiotics won't help, just time and rest and chicken soup. If I really thought going to the doctor would make a difference I'd pony up the cash, but it's just. a. cold.

I'm going to do the elliptical for half an hour today, to see how my heel feels and to at least get some intentional activity under my belt. Maybe if I ignore this cold and just carry on, it will get as tired of me as I am of it and just … move on.

I've had the first of four tall glasses of water. I promised myself I would get back on track today, and I will follow through with that, no matter what. There are no other obligations pressing today. I can rest as much as I need to.

But seriously? I'm tired of resting. I'm tired of being grouchy. I'm tired, tired, tired of having a stupid cold.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Twenty-one

When I was growing up, you had to be 21 to buy liquor. Turning 21 was a Big Deal, although certainly I'd consumed alcohol – beer, wine and the hard stuff – long before I reached the magic age of 21.

Today I'm turning 21 again. It's been that number of years since I had my last drink of alcohol. In this month of gratitude, my sobriety is what I'm most thankful for, and I pray it will always be so. You can read my story here.

I learned quickly in Alcoholics Anonymous that to ensure success I needed to find a sponsor, someone to guide me through the 12 steps, to challenge me when I needed to be challenged and to share her experience, strength and hope with me. I had two sponsors very early on before I met Carolyn, who was to be my guide, friend, mentor and sponsor for the next 18 years.

She was sober 35 years when she died almost six months ago. She frequently said she wanted to end her life as a sober woman, and she did that. She also passed from this world leaving a permanent mark of dignity, humor and serenity on those who miss her still, every single day.

I'd like to dedicate my 21st AA birthday to Carolyn.

If you happen to have a problem with alcohol, or even if you just think you might, it's worth your while to visit an open meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. Visit this web page to find local resources. You'll find understanding, empathy, peace and, most of all, hope in the rooms of AA.

I did. And for that I'm truly grateful.

Friday, November 11, 2011

If we all spoke binary,

today would be 21. And today would be the last date we could use the old binary numerical system to come up with a value for a set of numbers.

Who cares, right? But seriously, 11/11/11 isn't going to happen again until 3011. I hope I remember to pause at 11 a.m. My grandfather was a WWII veteran and, while he wasn't the jolly, nurturing grandfather one would have hoped for, he did serve his country and brought back some very cool souvenirs from the Pacific theatre that I was able to share on show-and-tell days at school.

What would make me forget to pause at 11 a.m.? Well, I'm still getting ready for the triplet grandsons' visit. The oatmeal cookies are made and tonight's dessert is ready to assemble. The big job remaining is to steam-mop the floors, and I'll get started on that as soon as publish this post.

I'm very tempted to write a novella this morning, to postpone the mopping. Heh.

We're having minestrone for lunch (already made) and beef stew for dinner (not even started) and French toast for breakfast tomorrow and grilled cheese for lunch. I hope that's toddler-friendly enough, I'm a little worried about the minestrone because it's full of vegetables. But their mom has been feeding them vegetables all their little lives, so I'm hoping it will be just fine.

I have Goldfish crackers and graham crackers and apples and bananas and cheese and organic milk and apple juice and you'd think they were going to stay for a week, when really? They're just spending the night!

Okay, moving on.

So I went back to the old blog template, and will probably continue to play around with the design until I get something a little cleaner and more my style. When I have time.

I took time this morning to get a shot of the full moon. The sky was beautiful, I wish I knew how to paint, because it would make a beautiful subject, I think. And just when I said my photo blog was done for the year, there you have it. Number 315. Of course there are a lot of days missing, but still, this is the best Project 365 year I've ever had.

And now I really, really have to go mop the floors eat breakfast.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Blah, blah, blah

How's that for an exciting title?

So far my energy levels are not rebounding the way I'd like them to. I'm lucky to still be married. My husband spends the evenings by himself in front of the television, while I toddle off to bed as soon as the dishwasher is loaded.

I'm so tired of being tired. And sick. This is the eighth day. A message to my cold: Be gone!

When you spend your days just getting the necessary things done – laundry, meals, minimal cleaning – and you sleep 10 to 12 hours nightly, there's not much to write about. I'd love to tell you how much progress I've made on my grandson's knitted cap but zero isn't much.

He just got a cellphone and I'm really enjoying his daily text messages. Young people prefer texting to talking, I wonder how that's going to affect relationships in the future?

We're having company this weekend, so I need to clean and menu plan and, since three of our guests are three years old, make some kind of treats. Because that's what grandmas do when little ones visit, right? I put butter out to soften yesterday, and it's still on the countertop, waiting to be made into … something.

What do you think of the blog's new look? I switched my photo blog (which is probably finished for this year) a while ago, so thought I'd try it out here. I've been trying to insert my own header instead of the bland type that is part of the template, with no success obviously. My stats will certainly go down because  in order to use the Dynamic View template, you have to show full posts in Google Reader. Some of you who connect through the Reader may not even be aware of the new template.

I really do want to know what you think. Right now you can't add any "gadgets" to the Dynamic Views, so the blogroll isn't there, nor any of the badges I had with the old template. Supposedly we'll be able to add those 'soon.' I like the clean look and the archives are easier to peruse. (Except when I just looked at it the archives aren't there at all.) But you can't preview a post you're drafting, you just have to publish it and then edit it after the fact. And it seems less informative and less personal. I'm looking forward to your comments.

And I'm really, really looking forward to a day without snot.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Cold comfort

Check. This. Out.
Thai Curried Chicken, the Asian version of chicken soup, I think. YUM!

This was the first good meal I've eaten in almost a week. Most of last week I was helping someone move and there was, literally, no food in the house. I take that back. In the refrigerator was a bottle of non-dairy coffee creamer and a jar of mustard. The pantry had the basics: flour, oil, cereal (pretty useless without milk). And we were so busy we didn't much think about eating.

(Don't you love it when you're too busy to eat? I do!)

Also, when I'm sick I don't much like to eat. I'm not in the "starve a fever, feed a cold" camp. I'm just in the "ewwww, food, take it away" camp.

But I'm starting to feel better and my husband certainly deserves a good meal now and then, so I sucked it up and cooked a Real Meal last night. It was hot and spicy (good for stuffy sinuses), slightly sweet (from coconut milk, mmmm) and just plain delicious. And so simple. How could it not be? The "recipe" is printed in 4-point type on the label of the Thai Red Curry Paste jar, which is only about three inches tall.

Basically, you mix a can of coconut milk (I used 'lite') with a tablespoon of curry paste and cook it for about five minutes. Add basil, brown sugar, bamboo shoots and fish sauce (I didn't have any bamboo shoots or fish sauce so I just left them out), cook some more. Add whatever vegetables you want (mushrooms, carrots, onions, celery) and some cooked meat (chicken). Continue cooking until it thickens. Serve over rice.

My October plan to create new habits worked really well … in October. I'm learning that I need to make these decisions to journal, walk, lift weights, drink water and not snack on a daily basis. It's partly how I managed to be successful in October. The other part was being accountable to both of you on a daily basis, something I'd rather not inflict on you again unless I think it's absolutely necessary.

Traveling and illness have gotten the better of me so far this month. The traveling isn't over, but the illness nearly is. I'd rather not have a setback, though, so I'm going to wait until Sunday to start walking again. I can begin the rest of the plan today.

And I will.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Note to self:

Next time you transfer the contents of a cardboard box of oatmeal into a large, attractive, clear glass container, remember to snip the directions for actually making the oatmeal from the original package and insert it into the large, attractive, clear glass container.

For the record, one cup of water and a third of a cup of dry oats worked out just fine.

I store dried beans in large glass jars and always pop the empty bag in the jar so the cooking method is at my fingertips. Why didn't I do this with the oatmeal? Probably because I use oats to make things like oatmeal cookies or oatmeal bread, rather than plain old oatmeal cereal.

This morning, though, a bowl of hot oats topped with a little brown sugar and a spoonful of peach preserves sounded comforting and perfect. And it was!

How I wish I felt better. I realize a cold is going to last a week or seven days, whichever comes first, and I have a couple more days to go, but I am so tired of being sick.

I was up yesterday morning for about three hours and then went back to bed and stayed there until I woke myself up, coughing, at about 6. I read the first book of the Hunger Games trilogy and started the second. Finished reading the Thanksgiving issue of Martha Stewart Living. Played solitaire on my BlackBerry a lot. Slept a lot. Coughed a lot.

I did not, obviously, finish unpacking my weekend-trip bags, or do any laundry, or fix a decent dinner. Ramen noodles two nights in a row. I've probably gained six pounds just from the sodium.

Oops, speaking of pounds, I forgot to report my progress yesterday. Yes, I did remember to weigh myself, despite my Mucinex-addled brain, and I lost one. That brings me back to the six-pounds-lost mark I hit the second week of October. Meaning I'm now losing a sensible one pound a week.

Heh. I can rationalize anything.

Monday, November 7, 2011

When life gives you lemons …

you take 'em!

When I told my husband I was bringing home a lemon tree he said we could start making 7-Up, since we already have a lime tree. Good thing we have sliding glass doors instead of walls in our living room, because citrus needs lots o' light.


Aren't they pretty?

These fruits are all that remain, as I left some in Tennessee. But there will be more, I'm sure of it. Everything I've read about Meyer lemons (and this may be a Meyer after all) indicate they can take some abuse, which it surely has had the last few days. A little fertilizer, a little water, a lotta sun and I expect it to be full of fruit in another six months or so.

The lime tree has more limes than I can count, but they're very tiny. I don't know what variety of lime I have, though, so maybe they're supposed to be tiny. And I just found out today that limes are orange when they're mature; limes are picked before they're fully ripe.

My miserable cold moved to my head overnight and I'm not nearly as sick as I was when I was supposed to be useful. I can be merely decorative now that I'm home, so of course I'm feeling better. Heh.

Today is not the day to start walking again, although my heel pain is miraculously gone. (Not miraculous at all – rest, stretching and ice will heal plantar fasciitis.) We're having company this weekend and I'd rather be completely free of this cold when they arrive. So I will rest and knit today (the newsboy cap I started, oh, a couple weeks ago?), and make something warm and comforting to eat, and drink tea with honey.

And lemon.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Just keep driving, driving, driving

If you've seen "Finding Nemo," today's post title will seem familiar.

I've driven 2000 miles in the last three weeks. I'm heading back home and cannot WAIT to get there. I shall go directly to bed without passing Go and without collecting $200.

I did, unfortunately, collect a very bad cold, and would give anything to be teleported home instead of having to just keep driving.

I also collected a lemon tree that wouldn't fit in the new house. The tag on the little stick it was three years ago identified it as a Meyer lemon, but they look like plain old (big) lemons to me. I'll try to remember to post a photo tomorrow.

I'm at a rest stop right now, about a fourth of the way home. When I'm finished resting, it'll be back to just keep driving. Which has nothing at all to do with knitting, running, reaping or eating, but ya gotta work with what ya got when the NaBloPoMo idea is to just keep writing.


Sent from my U.S. Cellular BlackBerry® smartphone

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Wow, what a workout. Part Two.

Modern houses, those built in the past dozen years or so, have high ceilings, reflected most noticeably in the kitchen. Oh, that vaulted cathedral ceiling in the living room looks good, but it doesn't affect you unless you have to change the bulb in the ceiling fan/light combo.

Kitchen cabinets appear to be mounted at least a couple – maybe even as many as six – inches higher from the countertop than mine were 30 years ago. And said cabinets go up and up and up.

Yesterday's workout, therefore, involved lots of stretching and climbing as we unpacked half a million (okay, 500) kitchen boxes. This woman can cook!

First I had to measure, cut and place a million square inches of shelf liner. Then it went like this: Zip open a box, retrieve the contents and put them on a counter, determine placement, grab a stepstool, lift, stretch, deposit, repeat.

Zip, retrieve, place, grab, lift, stretch, deposit, cough, hack, ouchwhat'sthatburningfeelinginmychest, repeat.

I started coughing shortly after arrival on Thursday, but figured it was just the dusty environment of the garage. Yesterday, though, it was the kind of cough you try to suppress because it hurts so. damned. badly.

Along with a sore throat.

So, um, yeah, I'm sick. At exactly the wrong moment. Here I am, trying to earn the help-someone-move star in my crown, and I can barely lift my head off the pillow.

I exaggerate. About barely lifting my head, but not about being sick. I'm armed with Zicam and Mucinex and will soldier on. We should get the bulk of it done today. I am planning to go home tomorrow. I'd love to leave this cold in Tennessee, and arrive in West Virginia all healthy and stuff, but I think I'm going to limp into my own house – the one with the cabinets that fit me – and head straight for bed.

Friday, November 4, 2011

What a workout!

Okay, so I got up yesterday at around 6 a.m. to get ready to drive to Tennessee.

Actually, that's a lie. I got up at 2 a.m., but not because that's when the alarm went off. That's when the phone, which is on my nightstand, rang. After three rings, I finally fumbled the handset off the base and sleepily said, "Hello."

I'm not one who panics when the phone rings in the middle of the night. I'm more likely to be annoyed. Especially when the woman on the other end said, in a slurred Southern drawl, "Is Eustace there?"

I'm also not one to be polite at 2 a.m. when I have to get up at 6. "No, you have the wrong number."

Before I could hang up, she said, again in that syrupy drawl, "Well, then, is Verna Lee there?" If Eustace wasn't here, I was pretty sure Verna Lee wasn't either.

I wanted to tell her to put the whiskey away, but I said, more firmly, "No m'am [oh-so-politely], you have the wrong number. And it's 2 a.m."

Click.

So then I was up for a couple hours. I went back to sleep around 4:30, got up at 6:20 and was on the road at 6:55.

Seven hours later I was at my destination.

And seven hours after that I was in a Mexican restaurant. In the interim I walked back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, a million times [okay, maybe a thousand] between a Pod and a garage. Lugging boxes. That, my friends, was the workout, which I will count as both upper- and lower-body and cardio. So there.

Helping someone move can be fun, under the right circumstances. We cranked up the music and had as good a time as one can, while lugging a thousand boxes full of someone else's stuff.

I slept poorly last night on an Aero bed (which, as portable beds go, is pretty nice), and am on my way out to get some food. The only sustenance in the house is a bottle of non-dairy, sugar-free hazelnut creamer, a jar of coffee beans [one major food group covered] and two loaves of two-day-old sourdough bread.

Don't ask.

After breakfast, today's [and tomorrow's and probably Sunday's] workout will be lugging those boxes to their respective rooms and putting things away.

So. Not the plan I planned, but the results will be worth it.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Salad days

I frequently have a meal-sized salad in warm weather, but relegate them to the side during fall and winter. During October, though, when I was creating the habit of eating three meals a day with no snacks in between, I had a lunchtime salad almost every day. Come to think of it, many years ago, when I lost about 50 pounds and got down to a size 6 (yes. me. a size 6.), I ate a daily salad at lunchtime.

Hmmm.
Romaine, onions, walnuts, Craisins, goat cheese, oil & vinegar.

Anyway. The salad we had last night with our grass-fed beef burgers and oven-roasted "fries" was delicious, and hit the spot for freshness and flavor. I don't like and won't eat a bland lettuce-carrot-onion salad dressed with something gloppy from a bottle. And I don't mix the dressing and pour it on the greens in individual salad bowls.

My ritual is to tear the greens (organic romaine, usually) into a largish bowl, add whatever goodies I'm adding (last night was a handful of toasted walnuts, some Craisins and an onion from the garden), top it with cheese (goat is nice) and then add oil and vinegar. I toss it all together with tongs until the goat cheese, oil and vinegar coat the whole mess o'greens and then I place it in serving bowls.

It's so creamy and delicious you'll think you've topped it with something gloppy from a bottle!

I seriously had forgotten about that salad lunch all those years ago. I, along with my daily menu, was even featured in a weight-loss article for a local magazine. I've gotten rid of the dress I wore for the photo shoot, but I'd sure love to have another picture in the same pose when I get back down there again.

You'll be the first to see it. I promise.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The dawn breaks

I love my house early in the morning. Actually I love my house anytime, but at this hour of the day, when the sun is creeping up over the eastern mountains and the western ones are still dark silhouettes against the sky, it's just dreamy and lovely and still and quiet and perfect. And I love it.

There's so much promise in the dawn. Anything could happen today – I could even predict some of the events which will certainly break this early-morning stillness – but right now it's calm and peaceful and pretty.

As is customary after a trip, I have hundred of e-mails stacked up on the computer to go through. I have a little bit of freelance work to begin. I have to pull something out of the freezer and figure out what to make with it for dinner, and what to serve beside it.

I have to find time for intentional activity (that's what I like to call exercise, it has a more positive spin to it in my mind) and laundry and a game of Scrabble with my husband, who has missed me the past few days, as I visited my son and his family, and will miss me the next few, as I leave again tomorrow to head in my daughter's direction.

I was not a good mother to my children when they were young. I married and had children before I had a clue of what it would be like for real, for real, and they suffered. You can ask them, they'll be the first to tell you they suffered.

Aging has helped, but sobriety has helped more. I like to think I've kept a young spirit. Young is my maiden name, so I will always be Forever Young (the Dylan version, of course). Sobriety has given me the ability to live in the present moment, drinking in all the available joy instead of masking it, pushing it away, wanting always to be someone or somewhere else.

I'm a good mother now, and no matter how old my children are I will be their good mother. And, if I do say so myself, I'm a really good grandmother. In the dawn's early light, that's a nice thing to know.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A month of blogging

National Blog Posting Month begins today. How do the holidays sneak up on me like this!?!

This will be my first year participating in the exercise to publish a daily post for 30 days. Including weekends. I don't have much trouble, unless I'm busy or out of town, throwing a post up Monday through Friday, but I take the weekends off, for the most part. So this will be interesting.

I also will be traveling in November a couple of times, and being away from my own little computer space always throws me off. I have, in fact, been traveling today, which is why your usual dose of Knit. Run. Reap. Eat. sunshine didn't show up at dawn.

It's not too late if you want to join more than 1000 other regular bloggers in making a daily writing commitment. Clicking the link at the top of the page or the badge at the right will send you to the website where you can sign up. Saturday is the cut-off date to be included in the blogroll.

Should you get stuck for a topic, you can take advantage of a daily writing prompt on the website. I don't need it today, but I'm not going to ignore them, as I think these prompts will help expand my view and improve my writing.

I had planned to write a great post today about meeting another blogger, someone whose work I've admired for years. But we had to cancel our coffee date, and will try again another time when I'm in her neck of the woods. I love reading about meetings between bloggers. I'd hoped to include the ubiquitous arms'-length portrait, but you'll have to settle for a peek at her website.

My weekend was quite fun and jam-packed with candy-filled activities. Fortunately for me the princess bride likes candy as much as I do, and shared only what she really didn't care for. Twizzler, anyone? She kept the chocolate all to herself and I came away pretty much unscathed.

I have a day and a half to regroup and then I'm off again. Though some would say I've been off most of my life. Thanks for reading. One day down, 29 to go.