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Showing posts from February, 2012

Slow-carb, low-carb, no-carb

All this talk about restricting starchy carbs JUST MAKES ME WANT TO EAT THEM!

I'm totally jonesing for a big hunk of homemade bread dripping with butter. And marmalade.

Paleo plans are all over the internets these days. I even got a message from my former son-in-law yesterday suggesting I try the Four Hour Body plan, not paleo but definitely carb-restricting. (He and I have had many conversations about weight-loss struggles over the years, so he was trying to be helpful and supportive.) He has apparently done well with it. I'm not linking, if you're curious you'll find lots of information with a Google search.

One of the common threads in the plans I've been looking at lately is including a cheat day, a day off from whatever the plan is (another one I've checked out is called Game On). The theory is that a free-for-all day keeps your metabolism revved up, tricking your body into thinking you're not really on a diet. Because you just ate a … whatever your pa…

By the time you read this …

I'll be heading to Charleston, WV, to gather with other Democrats from all over the state for a day at the Legislature.

While registered Democrats far outnumber Republicans here in WV, it's hard to tell one from the other sometimes. Well, actually it's not hard at all to tell that lefties like me are Dems. Some of the more, um, moderate ones might as well switch parties.

I put our Governor and one of our Senators in that category. I don't think I'm supposed to say that out loud, though. Heh.

Anyhoo … I will once again be at the mercy of someone else's kitchen – this time, the Governor's – and I've decided just to enjoy my day and not allow the pressure of A Plan to, er, weigh me down.

This is turning into a super busy week. Posting will continue daily, but content (like today's) will hardly be worth reading.

Sugar-free, but …

not completely South Beach compliant.

It was hard to stay on plan while I was gone over the weekend. Rather than go into all the gory details, let's just say I need to hit the reset button today.


I listened to a lot of podcasts while traveling to and from, and got all caught up Russ and Jeff, Jillian and The Moth. I actually had to listen to music the last 20 miles or so coming home. Considering I was on the road for a total of probably 10 hours, I was, um, pretty far behind.

I wish listening to podcasts was all there was to it. Unfortunately, I need to put into practice the ideas these folks are preaching and teaching. And I am, really, but as you can probably tell I'm discouraged after a weekend where I wasn't able to eat the way I need to.

I might give myself a pass on the official weigh-in tomorrow.

One bright spot of the weekend (I was visiting one of my grandchildren, so that was the true bright spot) was getting out for a run/walk Saturday morning. Six other w…

Home again …

and you didn't even know I was gone!

I drove almost all day today. What a delight to see cherry trees bursting with pink and bright yellow daffodils blooming two states south. Spring will be here in southern West Virginia before we know it.

I left on Friday under a tornado watch and arrived in North Carolina under another one, but all I experienced was unusually strong winds. Had a good weekend which included a visit to the North Carolina Museum of Art. I was very impressed – the museum has a large Rodin sculpture collection, as well as a couple of Wyeths I just stumbled upon. I only spent a couple hours there, so certainly didn't see everything. The stainless steel tree is one of the first things you see as you approach the building and was stunning.

It's always good to be home again. I'm going to get my jammies on and watch the Oscars. Or at least watch the Oscars until I can't keep my eyes open any longer. 'Til tomorrow …

Progress photos

Once a month, you (and I) will be subjected to a side-by-side comparison of, um, me. I used to do these back in the Shrinking Knitter days, and it was somewhat helpful. And since I want to give myself every advantage to once-and-for-all lose this effing weight, and since progress photos were part of my previous success at losing this effing weight (although obviously not once and for all), well these effing progress photos will be part of the permanent record.

Without further ado (and with a lot of trepidation and a dollop of courage):

Of course I am more critical of me than you are. I always got lots of positive feedback on SK, but because I'm a realist and stubborn and have pretty good vision, I rarely believed the nice things you said. Clearly there's no difference between this January and February, other than the change of clothing. But I took the January photo the day I joined the gym and made a little promise that I would do this monthly.

My hope is that strength trainin…

Just when I thought I'd have to skip a day …

I got tagged.

How cool is it that I don't have to think this morning? Well, that's not really true, there's a lot of thinking to go along with this post. But at least it's directed thinking. Because seriously? I don't have a thing in my brain to write about today.

Shannon at The Warden's Log wants to know 11 things about me. Then she wants me to answer some specific questions. Then I have to come up with more questions to ask 11 of you. There are rules! Sounds pretty complicated for this early in the morning, but here goes.

11 Things About Me
I'm a private pilot, single-engine, land.I've been knitting for more than 50 years.The only foreign country I've been to is Canada. Does that count?I've seen Bob Dylan in concert at least a dozen times and own all of his CDs except one. (Live at Budokon.)I've been sober more than 20 years.I drove a restored 1950 Hudson to high school.The first car I bought on my own was a Volkswagon Karmann Ghia. I loved t…

How weird is this ...

I mention that you don't leave spam comments and I get a spam comment!

It's like going to to look for wireless printers and getting an e-mail from with wireless printer deal in it.

It's like cruising the Coldwater Creek website for a blue sweater and then having blue sweater ads show up on the next website I visit. You know, the one with all the printers.

It's like every since I linked to that New York Times Magazine story about creepy marketing practices, I've been assaulted by creepy marketing practices!

And spam.

Maybe you're not spam, Booker, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt. But I won't link to you and I definitely won't be following you on Twitter. Nice try, but your timing is just a little bit off.

33 percent stronger than last week

That would be my biceps and triceps.

Yep, my inner badass took over at the gym yesterday. I went a teeny bit heavier on the Nautilus/Cybex machines, did pyramids on the ones I could easily change the weights on (Cybex makes it pretty handy) and did curls and kickbacks with 15-pound dumbbells. I thought I was awesome last week using 10s. Rawr.

I had a 10 a.m. meeting with a client and went to the gym afterward. I didn't eat before I left the for the meeting and I didn't eat at the meeting and I didn't eat after the meeting. By the time I watched 75 percent of an episode of Glee walked for 36 minutes on the treadmill I was completely outta gas. So I stopped.

I also had some horrible cramping when I was doing crunches on the exercise ball. Managed to do 50 percent of my goal of 50 before I had to stop.

[An aside, while we're speaking of percentages: Don't you love it when says there's a 20 percent chance of rain and it's absolutely POURING outside? …

Still bummed, but …

what's the alternative, really?

And how many times have I asked myself this question?

As the young folks say, it is what it is: I have a hard time losing weight, and that's a FACT. I would love, love, love to simply eat healthfully and exercise regularly, without needing the weight-loss reward at the end of it.

At the age of 60, am I too old to change this cycle?

I just read a couple articles on shopping habits. (The Forbes condensed version is here; the NYTimes Magazine longer article is here. Not sure how long the NYTimes link will be viable.) The author began his habit research because he'd developed a mid-afternoon cookie habit that resulted in some unwanted lard. He analyzed the cue-routine-reward circuit, changed the reward part and lost 21 pounds.

So simple. Sigh.

I'm not making excuses for myself, but just stating facts. The writer is:
a man andyounger than my children. Those two facts are in his favor as far as weight loss goes. The fact that I'm an, ahem,…

I like last week's results better

Tuesdays are weigh-in days around here. Last Tuesday I loudly and proudly announced a total loss of 10 pounds in six weeks. Today? Not so much.

After seven weeks, I've lost seven pounds. A pound a week, that's supposed to be good, right? But a three-pound gain in one week? That's not so good. And I'm really discouraged.

I haven't eaten an egg all week. Eggs are a go-to breakfast for South Beach followers. I have either been skipping breakfast or eating Shredded Wheat, which is permitted on Phase II, but clearly my body is hanging on to every delicious carb-laden shred of that wheat.

So. Bummed.

No, really, I am
SO BUMMED! In fact, I am so bummed I think I'll go scramble an egg. Grrr.
Yesterday's four to six inches of snow has been significantly reduced. It's nearly gone completely from the driveway. The emerging daffodils are planted in an area that didn't get more than a dusting. We lost several birch branches and a huge limb from one of the pines. …

More often than not …

when a Major Snowstorm hits us here in the Middle of Nowhere, it usually is accompanied by a Power Outage. I've lived here 15 years and have kind of, sort of gotten used to anticipating coldness and darkness when we get a heavy wet snow, as we did yesterday.

Last night was no exception: The lights (and heat and water) went out at about 8:30. I reported it immediately and was told by the friendly computer voice that it was not part of a known power outage and repairs would be made 10:30 p.m.

More often than not, when the friendly computer voice gives me that initial, optimistic restoration estimate, he is WRONG.

At 2 a.m. I called the friendly computer voice to get an update. He oh-so-carefully told me we were now part of a widespread power outage and would have power by 11:30 p.m. on February 20, 2012. P.M.!

More often than not, when refrigerated food is unrefrigerated for more than 24 hours, it needs to be tossed. I spent the next hour or so contemplating what I might safely save …

Not bad …

in an old-hippie, crunchy-granola kinda way.

I'm talking about the whole-wheat crust from last night's pizza, of course.

Prior to serving, my husband said if we didn't like it, we could just eat the toppings. I agreed, but was secretly hoping I wouldn't have to sacrifice a precious jar of homemade pesto. And I didn't! The crust was earthy, almost nutty, not too dense (that was my biggest apprehension) but definitely not the softer crust we're used to.

The recipe I've used (link is to a .pdf file) for the past several years is from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life (P.S.), the book that nudged me into being much more of a locavore, whole-food kinda cook. It's the traditional formula, calling for approximately half-and-half white and whole wheat flours, along with yeast, olive oil, salt and water. I usually added a little sugar. Go figure.

Here's the Nourishing Traditions recipe:
1 cup plain whole yogurt
1 cup softened butter (oops! I on…

A South Beach gripe

I alluded to this when I began following the South Beach plan a month ago. I'm a "whole foods" kinda gal. When it comes to dietary fat, SB suggests that you:
Dispose of all solid vegetable shortening, lard, butter and hydrogenated oils. Replace them with extra-virgin olive oil, canola oil and cooking spray, and with margarines and spreads that do not contain trans fatty acids.
The South Beach Diet Super Charged, p. 165 I have some issues with this directive.

Obviously I'm not doing much baking on South Beach. Do I miss it? Hell, yeah! I told my husband last night that possibly the worst thing about the plan is I really don't get to cook. Mostly I throw a chicken breast on the George Forman and toss a salad or roast some cauliflower – not exactly haute cuisine, nor is it even creative cooking.

In the second phase of the plan you can eat whole grains. I'm really missing pizza, so I decided to try making a 100 percent whole-wheat pizza dough. It's in progress;…

It was a crafty day, indeed

I ended up making 18 of the little square campaign buttons I showed you yesterday. I got them done fairly early in the day, and it rained all. day. long. so I wasn't able to walk outside. And, frankly, I decided a day off would do me good.

Knitters who give knitted gifts exhibit an odd behavior in the last few days before the holidays. If they've managed their time wisely, all their projects will be done, wrapped and shipped (or under the tree) well before the big day, and they will decide, with three days to go, that there's certainly enough time to knit another [hat/scarf/pair of mittens/pair of socks/bag/oven mitt/accessory of your choice] for [recipient]. All that extra time on their hands is burning a hole in their pockets, if you don't mind a mixed metaphor.

Well, I'm a knitter who wasn't knitting yesterday, but I was looking at a long afternoon and I was in a crafty mood. I decided just handing out campaign buttons wasn't enough, I had to present the…

Who's next?

Up, down, up down ... HEAVY SIGH

[Before I get started this morning, did you read Mindy's fantastic comment yesterday about how she knew her husband was The One? What a guy! Thanks for sharing your story, Mindy.]

Okay, I'm ready.

Perhaps I shouldn't be weighing myself daily. Or perhaps I shouldn't give the number I saw this morning so much power. I have a lot to do today. I don't have time to analyze why I've bounced back up again, nor do I have the energy for it.

It's. Just. Information.

Data comes in all forms, and what I weigh is just part of it. How my clothes fit, how my wedding ring slips around on my finger, how I move, how I feel are better indicators of how the South Beach+gym workout plan is working than what the scale says.

Can I get an "amen" on that?

I'll be honest with you, I'm pretty tired of all protein and vegetables, all the time. I'm sticking with Phase I most days; a couple days a week I have steel-cut oats or whole-grain bread at one meal. I'm…

What a card

I'm the early riser in my house, so when my husband got up yesterday he found a Valentine's card and gift from me. We usually don't make a big deal of the "holiday," so he was a little surprised. Every day is Valentine's Day here in the Middle of Nowhere! Heh.

He had to be gone most of the day, and when he came home he handed me a very large pink envelope. I certainly didn't intend for him to go out and get me a card just because I got him one, but he said he'd planned to get one anyway. And his history is that he always buys cards on The Day They Need To Be Given. In other words, I've never woken up and found a card waiting for me.

Before I opened it, he half-jokingly said he could have bought me dinner for what he paid for the card.

Now, if you haven't figured it out by now, we're pretty frugal around here. For my husband to spend a significant amount of money on a card was not only completely out of character, it was – in my opinion – c…

Six weeks. Ten pounds.

It's been years since I could say I've lost 10 pounds in any time period, let alone six weeks. For you young whippersnappers out there who think you've got your whole lifetime to lose weight, here's a tip: Your metabolism will slow down as you age. In other words, lose it now.

Because I weigh myself daily (but only officially record it weekly), I knew I was not going to have a dramatic loss. It's good to see the trend continuing downward, however, and it's enough motivation to continue the South Beach plan. I love the irony of hitting the 10-pound mark on Valentine's Day, when chocolates are plentiful and on sale!

My craving for something sweet has not gone away, and I caved in yesterday. I left the gym at around 1:30 p.m., after a hard workout (I'm increasing my sets this week, I'm now up to 3 sets of 15 reps), headed for the grocery. I walked into Tiny Kroger and the first thing I saw was a display of sugar cookies – the soft kind with icing – and…

The Grammys from four perspectives

(When I finished writing this, I realized it's the first post I've published this month that actually fits the NaBloPoMo "Relative" category. Yay, me!)

In case you missed it, the 54th Grammy Awards Show aired last night between commercials for CBS's Amazing Race. There were heartfelt remembrances of Whitney, of course – Jennifer Hudson pulled off a stunning performance and howdoesshedoit? There was lots of fire on stage and lots of cra-zee oufits and some really beautiful ones, too. I don't watch a lot of television these days, but I love me an awards show.

So I took control of the remote and my husband suffered through it. When it was over, he said, "I hate to admit it, but I kind of enjoyed it." SCORE! Heh.

Here's a brief rundown of how three of my relatives and I viewed the spectacle.

My husband
Though just eight years older than I, he really belongs in the previous generation when it comes to music. He doesn't listen to popular music at a…

RIP Whitney

I wasn't a fan.

There's not a single song by Whitney Houston on my iPod, not even I Will Always Love You, which really is an amazing song (but I like Dolly's version better). She was so iconic she could easily have gone by her first name only, like Cher or Madonna or Fergie. Or, um, Dolly, for that matter.

Her vocal style didn't mesh with my listening taste, so I wasn't a fan. But I'm shocked to learn of her death.

Just 48 years old. On the comeback trail. Her demons supposedly behind her. So much accomplished already, and with so much promise.

An autopsy is scheduled. We'll learn the cause of death in time. In the meantime, I'm trying not to think 'it must have been drugs,' but that's what we think when someone like Whitney (or Michael or Heath or Amy) dies suddenly and too soon.

The abuse of drugs, legal or illegal, takes your life away, even when you're still breathing. Ninety percent of the inmates at the prison where I volunteer ar…

Looks like winter's finally here

I can't complain. We had the mildest January in recent memory (which isn't saying a lot, as the recent memory is the first to go as we age, I think), so having a couple day of Xtreme cold and a few potential inches of snow is, um, normal. Right now we have about an inch, and according to the radar we're looking at another three or four hours of light snow.

I feel so bad for the daffodils. They usually have to withstand a very cold night or two later in the season and they pop right back. I hope mine will, but I'm not holding my breath. They just sprouted too early.

Denise, I'm a total novice when it comes to Excel, and your tip on how to select a section of a spreadsheet is nothing short of genius! Thanks so much. I should probably read a tutorial or take a class to get the full benefit of the program, but I truly don't use it very often.

(I bought it for a part-time job that fell through. =( But I'm happy to have it to work on the garden center's websi…

I've got nuthin'

No Friday quote (has anyone noticed I've abandoned it?).
No photos.
No words. (Well, not many. Heh.)

But also?

No problems.
No worries.
No angst.
No hassles.
No drama.

Life is good. I think I'll do everything I can to keep it that way. I'm so grateful for your readership and for your comments and for your support in my doofusness and weight-loss efforts and the general ups-and-downs I go through. Today is an up, for reasons I can't really figure out. I just feel … good.

What a DOOFUS I am!

I've spent so much time trying to connect my wireless mouse to my computer. I've Googled and searched user forums and tried all the fixes out there, to absolutely no avail.

Apparently there are a boatload of Mac users whose Bluetooth peripherals quit working after the most recent Lion OS upgrade. And there are lots of step-by-step solutions, beginning with turn the computer off and back on again, and going all the way up to reinstalling the OS.

I finally called Logitech Customer Support. The very nice young man (thank you, Chris!) first asked if I'd remembered to plug the USB receiver in.


Because everyone else on the internets was having trouble with a Bluetooth device, I just assumed that's what I was dealing with. I rooted around in the little basket where I throw all my computer cords and there, down in the bottom, was a tiny little USB thingie, imprinted with a Logitech logo.

Chris was sooooo gracious. Kudos to Logitech for hiring tech support people who have …

Still no mouse ...

Well, except for THE REAL ONE that wandered up through the ductwork and got caught in a sticky trap.

They really are barbaric, those sticky traps, but at least you can hear the mouse ticking its little claws on the floor, trying to get away, and you can dispose of the whole mess. As opposed to having one get caught in a spring-loaded trap and then just lie there rotting until the guest room smells like, well, a dead mouse.

Ask me how I know of such things. Heh.

My computer and my wireless mouse are still not speaking to each other, but my index finger worked pretty well on the touchpad and I made a huge, HUGE, HUGE amount of progress on the job I've been working on. My client is pleased, I am pleased and despite the fact that I know very little about birthin' websites, we're going to be blessed with one soon. I'm waiting on the client to provide more data before I can continue. It's a tedious process, what she's doing, and it will be so worth it to her when it&…

My new favorite plant

Arghhh ...

I just read Anne's lovely comment on yesterday's post, in which she said I was in a good place in so many ways. She should know; Anne's been reading my drivel for years, and has been through many of my ups and downs both at the Shrinking Knitter and here.

I'm actually not in a good place rightnowthisminute, but it's a technical glitch between my laptop and a wireless mouse that USED TO WORK, before the most recent OS update. I've been trying to fix the problem for, oh, more than an hour now.

I don't need the mouse to do the work I have to do this morning, but working in Excel is easier when I can click-and-drag with a device rather than with my index finger.

Thus the "arghhh" and head-banging and other frustration noises you've been hearing from the Middle of Nowhere.

If you happen to have a MacBook Air and a Logitech M305 Bluetooth mouse that do work together, could you please share the magic words with me?

As both of you know, I love me some…

Oh, the weather outside is …

beautiful! In an ethereal, dreamy, foggy kind of way.

Yesterday morning we woke up to low clouds and thick frost. See?

Today it's clear and crisp with frost covering everything on the northeast side of the house, but barely coating the stuff on the southwest side. Not sure how to explain that. And it's not nearly as picture-worthy as yesterday's icy morning greeting.

Looks like we're in for some cold, cold nights, with daytime highs gradually cooling as the week wears on. High today of 53° and sunny, so an outdoor walk is on the agenda. The rest of the week we descend into winter. Finally. I hope the daffs survive.

I've now been South Beaching for four weeks. My weight stayed the same this week, but the trend since January 1 has been two weeks of losses and one week of staying the same. Jen noted recently that she experiences a similar pattern. Not that I'm Jen, but it was instructive to read that and it helped me be not quite as bummed as I would have been in …

One more wheatgrass photo

You, too, can have a green thumb

Five days ago, I planted wheatgrass seeds in this cute little planter I bought last weekend in Asheville. Look at it now!

Wheatgrass – live or plastic – is all over the place. I first saw some displayed in a restaurant at the North Carolina Zoo two or three years ago, and I've been on a mission ever since to find the perfect container in which to grow my own. My plant is purely decorative, but I could make juice from it if I wanted to. Which I don't. Cats like to eat wheatgrass (it's also called catgrass), something to keep in mind if you want your centerpiece to remain intact. I don't have cats, just one adorable little dog who doesn't eat from the table. Much.

I used an organic seed-starting medium for soil, but any kind of potting soil would work. I made sure the dirt was moist, sprinkled the seeds on top and added a little more soil to cover them. Then I put some plastic wrap on top and put it in a sunny spot. The plastic wrap acts as a mini-greenhouse; you sho…


I just reread yesterday's post, which totally sounds like food porn. So sorry!

I went on a foodie blog kick late last year and had to quit because the pictures and recipes were beginning to make me want more. I began adding writers from their blogrolls to mine and eventually got to the point where reading about food became the gateway drug to cooking and eating more of it.

I haven't gone completely cold turkey, but I've unsubscribed from the major dealers' RSS feeds. Gotta clean up my blogroll before I'm charged with conspiracy. [ETA: Done!]

So anyway … it's Super Bowl Sunday and we're going to have some snacks. Heh.

One thing the food bloggers did was inspire me to be more creative with photography. I, in fact, dedicated my Project 365 blog to food this year, but that only lasted a month. I've started following a photo-a-day challenge for February, which has been interesting and actually makes the photos somewhat more interesting than a shot of the nig…

The whole house smells like bacon

According to my daughter, a traditional Cobb salad is the low-carber's perfect meal. I made a version of one last night for dinner (aren't they all just a little bit different?): torn romaine and red onions dressed with pesto salad dressing and topped with sliced black olives, chopped hard-cooked egg, diced chicken breast, crumbled blue cheese and bacon, bacon, BACON!

I bake my bacon on a rack in a 375° oven until it's crispy but not burned. Less mess than on the stove, but you'd still think I put parfume de bacon in the air freshener thingies.

The salad was delicious, and very satisfying – two of the results I love about lots o'protein.

I had to warn the husband that the five leftover pieces of bacon were a reserved ingredient for our Super Bowl supper tomorrow night. He has no concept, because he doesn't cook, that you can make more of something one day in order to use it later. He also has no concept, because he usually eats only one daily meal – dinner – o…


After a long day of driving, driving, driving to Charleston, WV, and back yesterday (the older I get the less I care to drive, but the older my husband gets the less I want him to drive! So there you go, I'm the chauffeur), we settled down to watch Brian Williams, who relayed this little tidbit about sugar.

Which basically says there are some scientists and policymakers who think sugar consumption should be regulated. Like alcohol! And tobacco! Imagine that.

Toward the end of the segment, Dr. Nancy Snyderman mentions that artificial sweeteners, which taste sweeter than refined sugar, actually trick our brains into wanting more, more, more. The last couple of days I've indulged in sugar-free soda and sugar-free pudding (both are permitted on the South Beach plan) and bingo! The sugar blues have been hitting me hard.

A more in-depth look at the issue of regulating sugar can be found in yesterday's L.A. Times. And here's a .pdf file of the journal article.

The article poin…

Happy Groundhog's Day!

Speaking of relatives: I love talking about and remembering my dad who, in later life, declared Groundhog's Day to be his favorite holiday.

This was not always the case. I don't remember any great celebrations in early February during my childhood. But as he (and I!) got older he became less and less serious about day-to-day stuff and more and more lighthearted about, um, everything.

What a good example he was.

Early one February 2, several years ago, the phone rang. Dad was calling from Florida to wish me a Happy Groundhog's Day, something he'd never done before.
Me: I'm sorry, what did you say?
He: Happy Groundhog's Day! Did the groundhog see his shadow in West Virginia?Me: Um, I'm not sure. Why are you suddenly all excited about Groundhog's Day, anyway?
He: It's my new favorite holiday.Me: And why is that?
He: No cards, no presents, no big meals that take all day to fix. Winter's on the way out and spring is right around the corner.Me: Well, the…

You might be a 60-year-old gym rat if …

Two Aleve with your morning coffee act as preventive medicine before you leave for the gym.You wear baggy shirts and yoga pants, instead of tight-fitting tanks and bike shorts.Older patrons ask you how things work, instead of bothering that young whippersnapper at the front desk.The music blasting out over the loudspeakers is vaguely familiar, but you couldn't sing along to it.You're not in a hurry to get there, and you're not in a hurry to leave.
It's a good day to be a gym rat here in the Middle of Nowhere. It's started raining, and it looks like the morning off-and-on showers might turn into a soaker by noon.

Since we haven't had any snow to speak of this winter, the rain is a Good Thing. Gardens need moisture year-'round, and not many gardeners are willing to drag their hoses out of storage during a mid-winter dry spell.

I walked yesterday morning, in brilliant sunshine without a jacket. I pushed myself to do 3.5 miles in an hour. It's so much easie…