Monday, December 31, 2012

December 31 - Self-portrait

Yes, that's me on the left. On the right is a print of an optical illusion
called "All is Vanity," which has hung in my guest bathroom for as long
as I can remember. Look closely … what do you see?

Number 629, your order is ready

Today marks the end of 2012, and this is my 629th post for the year. You have NaBloPoMo to thank for the gift of one or more Knit. Run. Reap. Eat. posts nearly every freaking day of the year. Care to join me in 2013?

You have one day to think about it. Heh.

This week has gone very well. I've been under my calorie budget and I've met my activity goals every day. LoseIt's weeks begin on Monday (I wish the app would let you choose your own first day of the week, but oh, well. It's free! And if I'm missing this feature, I hope someone will let me know), so it's a fresh start in oh so many ways.

Monday is my scheduled no-exercise and eat-what-you-want day. Although today is going to be fairly temperate and I might go for a walk outside just because.

When I explained my plan to my husband (and believe me, I thought long and hard about explaining it to him), he hesitated for  m a y b e  a nanosecond before he said, "Well, do you mind if I have something to say about that?" Yes, as a matter of fact, I did mind, but that didn't stop him. When I further explained that "eating whatever I want" doesn't mean eating an entire pecan pie (which he's been known to do), but simply means adding an extra 200 to 400 calories one day a week, he was fine with that.

NOT THAT IT MATTERS!

(My body does not respond to weight-loss cues as his does. It is as baffling to him as it is to me that eating reasonable portions of healthful food and doing some kind of daily activity doesn't result in a slimmer me. That we both still have hope is, really, pretty amazing.)

So what's the eating plan for New Years Eve/Day? Tonight I'll honor my northern roots and make barbecued ribs, sauerkraut, mashed potatoes and carrot coins. (That should take care of the additional calorie prescription, don't you think? Heh.) Tomorrow we'll enjoy the southern tradition of Hoppin' John and greens. Which will probably be a bag of frozen spinach, since I don't think I'm going to make it to the market for kale or collards or turnip greens. (Click on the Mmmm. Mmmm. Good. tab at the top of the blog for links to a couple of good Hoppin' John recipes.)

May good luck follow me – and you – throughout the coming year. Thanks for sticking with me this year. And thanks in advance for being my cheerleaders in 2013. I've a feeling I'm going to need you.

I love Real Simple's daily thoughts.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

December 30 - Something that made you smile this year

A photo of the photo of me with some Very Important Democrats.  (The thing
that made me smile was being selected as my county's Democrat of the Year.
The astute among you will notice some judicious photo cropping.)

Oh, yes, I'm a multi-tasker

Check this OUT!


While I watched West Virginia University's football team get slaughtered yesterday afternoon, I read something like 114 blog posts. Yay, me! I'm all caught up with your Christmases, and am looking forward to some New Year's resolution posts. Laurie is working on it. Anyone else?

Instagram's Weekend Hashtag Project is all about resolutions. I rarely submit photos for the project, but I did this time. Unfortunately it only has 16 "likes," so I doubt if it gets chosen for the wrap-up on Monday. If you search for #whpresolutions on Instagram you can see all of the images – more than 4000 so far.

And speaking of images … Jen posted a beautiful photo essay called "Keep looking up!" a couple of days ago. She's captured some beautiful cloudscapes in northern Ohio.

Another post I especially wanted to point to is Beth's short rant about the fiscal cliff. I'm at the point now where I leave the room when the talking heads start spinning the latest "news" about the "progress" being made. Seems to me the voters have spoken. It's time for Republicans in Congress to start working for We The People instead of They The GOP.

Still on track and still not stepping on the scale. That's another HUGE "yay, me." My theory that each successful day strengthens the foundation for the next one is, so far, true.

For Diandra, and anyone else who has had trouble commenting because of the Captcha roadblock, I removed it (I think). It hasn't stopped the spammers from spamming anyway, so there's not much sense in making it more difficult for people who actually want to say something supportive. Let me know how it works on your end … you could leave a comment! Heh.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

P.S.

The marmalade is delicious! Perfect consistency, the citrus flavor
EXPLODES on your tongue. In a word: wonderful!

Progress, not perfection

So how am I going to measure my progress as I move forward in the current pursuit of health and wellness? (Oh, okay, and weight loss.) Well, this is the hard part.

The bathroom scale provides information, but all too often the number I see is all tied up with judgment and guilt and shame. Sometimes the number is 'good,' and I feel like I deserve a reward. Sometimes it's 'bad,' and I feel like giving up. In either case – good or bad – I go off the rails. This is not, of course, the fault of the bathroom scale. It's completely my attitude upon seeing that number.

Knowing what I know about my relationship with it, then, I clearly need to find a different way to measure progress. At the same time, I'd like to know what that number is. But only occasionally. (Okay, I'd really like to know what it is two or three times a day. But that's counterintuitive to the process.)

So here's the deal: I'm going to weigh myself on the 25th of each month. I weighed myself Christmas Day and right that minute started figuring out what my plan was going to be, in spite of Christmas dinner. I began tracking my food and exercise on the 26th. My daily goals are pretty simple:

Nutrition:

  • 1598 calories/day (according to LoseIt! I should lose a pound a week at this level. I'd originally thought to keep calories at 1500, but I'm going to try 1600-ish the first month)
  • Limit (but don't eliminate) sugar. I can't knock it out completely, but I can save it for Mondays (see below)
  • Drink more water. I don't know if the old rule of six to eight glasses a day is still necessary, but I get way less than that. And, like chicken soup in a car wreck, it can't hurt. Right?

Activity:

  • Monday - Free day (no intentional exercise, eat whatever, don't log anything)
  • Tuesday - Walk outdoors or elliptical, yoga
  • Wednesday - Walk outdoors or elliptical, dumbbells
  • Thursday - Walk outdoors or elliptical
  • Friday - Walk outdoors or elliptical, yoga
  • Saturday - Walk outdoors or elliptical, dumbbells
  • Sunday - Walk outdoors or elliptical

I will measure my progress between weigh-ins by noting whether I've completed each day successfully or not. Have I eaten at or below 1600-ish calories? Have I done the workout(s) I said I would do?

So far, so good. The dumbbell and yoga workouts have been short and sweet. I have an all-or-nothing personality, and am deliberately taking this slowly so I don't burn out. I also have NO desire to end up sweating for two hours a day, as I did 20 years ago. (I'm also, um, 20 years older than I was then, and it's, um, harder to sweat for two hours a day.)

With the 25th of the month being weigh-in day, I'll be weighing myself on my birthday when May rolls around. Already I'm thinking I'll be 20 pounds lighter by then. And already I'm wishing it would be 30 or 40 or even 50. Ten pounds a month, that's possible, isn't it?

See what happens when I start projecting into the future? That's why ODAAT is So. Damned. Important. And why perfection is so over-rated.

December 29 - Hot

Hot coffee in a metal mug is, um, HOT!

Friday, December 28, 2012

December 28 - Cold

Icicles are cold, right? Also I was cold walking today!

If you follow me on Instagram ...

or if you're a Facebook friend, you can skip this post, since you've seen the photos I began posting yesterday afternoon.

If you don't, here's the final shot:


What began as 20 pounds of navel oranges is now this year's supply of marmalade, cooling in jars on the counter. I'll store them in the pantry tomorrow. (I went into a little more detail last year.)

Marmalade is a lot of trouble to make, and there are nearly as many calories in a tablespoonful (50) as there are in a whole orange (62). But nothing says summer and sun and warm and bright, to me anyway, like orange marmalade.

I don't remember ever eating it when I was growing up. I don't buy the commercially made stuff unless I'm really jonesing for it and am all out of my own home-canned sunshine in a jar. I'm not sure why I started making it from scratch, but I can tell you this: There's something about the entire process that just feeds my soul.

And my body, on whole-wheat toast with a pat of butter, thankyouverymuch.

I don't eat it every day, and sometimes a couple weeks will go by without even a taste. But when you want orange marmalade, well, nothing else will do.

Yesterday was another elliptical day, with no yoga or weights. Today is yoga and, hopefully, an afternoon walk, if the temperature rises as it's predicted to. Then we have another winter storm warning for tonight and tomorrow. OH WELL. It is winter, after all.

Two days of eating within my calorie limits. Two days of working out. One thing leads to another …

Thursday, December 27, 2012

December 27 - How you relax

Knitting and reading and knitting and reading and knitting and reading.

ODAAT

Continuing yesterday's musings …

I will begin collecting Social Security benefits in May. As I approach 62, I realize (as I do every time I get serious about my health/fitness) I should have started last year. Or the year before. Or maybe I shouldn't have quit doing what worked 20 years ago. Or 40, for that matter.

Forty years ago I joined Weight Watchers for the first of many times. MadAnne commented yesterday that WW makes her angry. I know what she means, although it doesn't make me angry, exactly. When I'm following the Weight Watcher plan I am obsessed with my next meal or snack. I can't not think about it. I have a similar problem with just tracking food in a journal, whether it be handwritten or electronic, but being part of the WW experience is somehow larger, more in-my-face, than something I do on my own.

I was successful in that early iteration of Weight Watchers. I got to my goal weight within a year (I lost 38 pounds altogether but was pregnant for the first seven months), and I then joined the organization as a meeting leader. I stopped working for them after about three years, when I needed to find full-time employment. And, of course, without that accountability sword hanging over my head, I began a long, slow climb to an unhealthy weight. Again.

Back then, WW didn't require any kind of physical activity. The food was rigidly prescribed. We didn't count calories or points, we just ate what Jean Nidetch said we should eat and we got to our goal weight. It's rather amazing, looking back at it from this vantage point, that eating that food in those amounts without sweating actually worked. All the studies and research that have been done between then and now would suggest otherwise.

Twenty years ago I took up a low-fat diet, along with every other fat person I knew. Fat-free lunch meat was fine, as were fat-free bagels, but skip the mayo and butter. I had also stopped eating sugar a couple years earlier, resulting in one of the most unbalanced and least healthy diets I've ever been on.

But I lost weight. I was also working out like a maniac (two hours a day in a gym) and running a lot, so it's hard to say which element resulted in the weight loss. I also developed extremely dry skin, my hair became dull and lifeless and started falling out and I was cold All. The. Time.

When I moved here to the Middle of Nowhere to be with my now-husband, I was just about the thinnest I'd ever been as an adult. (I weighed 135; at one point during the low-fat phase, I weighed 128 for about five minutes.) I started eating sugar again and began cooking regular meals for the first time in a long time. There was no gym here at that time, but we had a rowing machine and a Stairmaster and a weight bench and hills to climb.

Honestly, though, the weight began creeping back on. And on. AND ON. And I now find myself at nearly my highest weight ever. Again. And I've followed plans and worked out and not lost weight so many times in the last 10 years that it's hard to get psyched about doing it again.

And so I will not get psyched. I will just soldier on, one day at a time, eating reasonable portions of healthful foods with an occasional (once a week) treat. I'm going to eat about 1500 calories a day, which satisfies my appetite and fulfills my nutritional needs.

Yesterday went well. According to LoseIt!, I was 83 calories shy of my goal, but I wasn't hungry and didn't feel like I had to eat more. I found a beginner dumbbell routine on YouTube and did one set; I intend to work my way up to three sets. I watched 30 minutes of a recorded episode of SNL while I worked out on the elliptical.

I didn't agonize over any of this. I just put one foot in front of the other and did what I said I would do. I'll do it again today. My hope is that each successful day will encourage me to have another one. Rational, matter of fact, steady … that's the goal.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

December 26 - Mess

Just my opinion (widely held, I believe): The NRA is a BIG mess!

Neomonde

Neomonde happens to be the name of my favorite eatery in the Triangle area of North Carolina. I've visited the Morrisville location once, but am more familiar with the restaurant/market near Meredith College in Raleigh. I love Middle Eastern food, and I also love to prepare Middle Eastern food. Shopping there is a treat.

But I'm not here today to give a restaurant review. (However, if you live in the Triangle, I certainly do enthusiastically recommend a visit!) The word "neomonde" means "new world," and I think it's time for me, myself and I (and you, too, if you'd like to join me) to create a new world here in the Middle of Nowhere.

A dark and gloomy morning.
It's a dark-and-gloomy day, this day after Christmas. I'm not one who typically hits the stores for post-holiday bargains, so I'm not disappointed that the predicted freezing rain/sleet/snow will keep me home today. (The lovely silver and white paper I bought on sale last year remains protected in cellophane, in favor of this year's simple brown paper tied with red or green kitchen twine.) Being forced by Mother Nature to remain indoors is encouraging me to think about what I'd like my new world to look like.

First, last and always, it includes a new, healthy, fit me. Every end-of-the-year I (and, maybe, you?) vow that this will be the year to finally make it to that elusive goal, whatever it is. I know some of you have done it, and I'm envious beyond belief.

Not, apparently, envious enough to actually Do What I Need To Do To Get There As Well.

I alluded to what I need a few days ago. And, if I searched diligently, a few weeks, months and years ago. I simply must incorporate some kind of strength training into my routine. Being an all-or-nothing type, I automatically think this means I need to lift weights every day. And every time I jump in with that kind of brainless enthusiasm, I quit doing it. Sooner rather than later.

So here's what I'm thinking, as far as activity goes. What if I did a yoga session twice a week; lifted, lunged and squatted twice a week, and walked or used the elliptical as often as six times a week? It sounds unrealistic as I sit here typing and watching the rain lashing about outside. So far I've been the kind of mature athlete who has managed one physical activity daily. And sometimes that activity has been cleaning the house.

But this is a NEW WORLD. One in which my mind matters less than my commitment. My mind can fuck up my commitment in a New-York minute. It will take some planning, and some flexibility, and some willingness, and some perseverance. It will take a new attitude. It will take patience.

It will take working out AND walking on the same day four times a week. Ack!

I have time for that. I have more time than just about any other resource available to me. What I need is a matter-of-fact attitude. I know what I need to do and I need to Just. Do. It. No internal arguments, no bargaining, no excuses. I need to be a grown-up about this, instead of this self-indulgent old lady who struggles to tie her shoes.

Of course, I have expectations. I would expect that this type of consistent activity, coupled with a cleaned-up diet (I'll save that for tomorrow) would result in weight loss. Anyone would, right? My history, however, has shown that increased activity and sensible eating don't necessarily equal pounds lost. Therefore, since this is a NEW WORLD, I will banish those expectations, and embrace a healthy lifestyle for the sake of being healthy.

Oh, who am I kidding? Yes, I want to feel strong and fit, but I also want to look good and wear a smaller size. (Okay, I want to wear four sizes smaller.) No sense in saying otherwise. I have a lot more thinking to do about this – how will I measure progress, for instance. Will I be tracking and journaling?

Will I turn the blog back into a weight-loss effort? Not likely, although I predict a bit more emphasis on food-and-exercise reporting. And when does this NEW WORLD begin? I'm thinking … today.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

December 25 - Lunch

Or, more accurately, linner – when lunch and dinner collide.

Merry Christmas

A tut.com message from a couple of days ago seems appropriate today. I wish you peace.

If it's not yet obvious to you, the real reason for this, and all seasons, is you. A more perfect child of the Universe has never lived. Until now, only celebrations cloaked in myth and mystery could hint at your divine heritage and sacred destiny. You are life's prayer of becoming and its answer. The first light at the dawn of eternity, drawn from the ether, so that I might know my own depth, discover new heights, and revel in seas of blessed emotion. 

Image from here.
A pioneer into illusion, an adventurer into the unknown, and a lifter of veils. Courageous, heroic, and exalted by legions in the unseen. 

To give beyond reason, to care beyond hope, to love without limit; to reach, stretch, and dream, in spite of your fears. These are the hallmarks of divinity - traits of the immortal - your badges of honor. May you wear them with a pride as great as what we feel for you. 

Your light has illuminated darkened paths, your gaze has lifted broken spirits, and already your life has changed the course of history. 

This is the time of year we celebrate you.

Monday, December 24, 2012

December 24 - Tradition

Every Christmas Eve since I moved to West Virginia has been enjoyably
spent with the Mathews family. The company (and the food!) are lovely!

'Twas the night before Christmas

I enjoyed my break a LOT! I didn't even try to blog, obviously, other than to post the daily photos to keep up the post-a-day streak. The week before Christmas is a slow time for blogging and blog-reading anyway, and I needed the time away from it.

Especially after Newtown. I'd already said enough. I wanted to write about the NRA's statement, but what is there to say? It could have been an Onion news story. It has been reported that the BBC prefaced its broadcast of the statement with the disclaimer that it was not a joke.

One thing that I still can't figure out – and we may never have an answer – is why, why, WHY did that young man go to that school? That question haunts me.

At any rate … the kindergarten journals were well-received, and my son was very pleased with the Scrabble coasters. He took them to work with him Friday morning, which is where I'd hoped he would take them. (They're not exactly something that would fit with the décor of their home.) We had a nice, relaxing weekend with very little on the agenda, but we did manage to get out and about.

Four-fifths of a bushel of navel
oranges (less a few I gave to my
son) = future marmalade!
We toured the neighborhood to view Christmas lights, went to the Raleigh Farmer's Market for oranges and fresh-from-the-treetop mistletoe, made a little trip to Fuquay-Varina, ate lunch out twice, went to mass Saturday night and had a very fancy and delicious home-cooked breakfast before I left yesterday morning. My daughter-in-law and I took two long walks, Friday and Saturday mornings, and I even walked a mile when I got home yesterday afternoon.

So far today it's raining, raining, raining, so I'm not sure I'll be able to keep up that streak, but I should have a little time for the elliptical.

Today I will clean and buy groceries and cook. We're going to an open house before church this evening and my mother-in-law will be joining us for dinner tomorrow. Very low-key and simple – I feel like I've already had Christmas over the weekend.

I wish you all a lovely holiday.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Thursday, December 20, 2012

December 20 - Weather

Rain. Wind. Grey. Half staff.

Aaaaand, she's off!

Well, she's always been a couple bubbles off plumb, but you know what I mean. I'm going to miss the snowstorm and will pray the power stays on for my husband and for Hershey, who will remain here holding down the fort.

The tree trimmers have been working since last summer's storm to remove potentially hazardous trees and limbs. Power lines now have a wide margin of space on either side and as long as the snow isn't too wet or too heavy, the electricity should stay on. The weather service is predicting high winds, as well, however, and some of those root systems were compromised during the storm. There's no way to tell which trees might be ready to topple.

We're hoping for the best and preparing for the worst.

The grandchildren's cards look pretty cute. After I mailed them I realized I should have covered the staple with a sticker, or made some kind of label for the top part of that red card stock. Winnie would have been much more creative with it, I'm sure!

Here's the method. Basically I filled small plastic bags (I used acetate sleeves for greeting cards, the kind that have an adhesive closure, but zip-lock-top bags work, as well) with a mixture of raw oats and sparkly confetti. I bought a huge bag of the confetti years ago, thinking it would be good for something, and it's perfect for reindeer food.

Which means I've used it exactly twice: yesterday, for the current crop of young grandchildren, and about six or seven years ago, when the two older ones believed in Santa and reindeer and magic. OH, WELL. It's served its purpose and there was nothing else shiny in the craft closet that I could have used as a substitute for sparkly confetti.

I found a suitable free clip art image of a shiny reindeer that had plenty of space to include the poem, which reads:

MAGICAL REINDEER FOOD
Sprinkle outside your home at night.
The moon will make it sparkle bright.
As Santa's reindeer fly and roam,
this will guide them to your home!

All together now: AWWWWWW.

Glue that printed piece onto a piece of card stock large enough to cover the bag of reindeer food and fold over the top and staple it all together. Signed, sealed, delivered – Santa won't miss their houses now!

I'm hand-delivering one of them today. The rest have been mailed, followed by a cautionary text message that Mom might want to be nearby when the children open the cards. The USPS is not known for handling with care, and I don't want her to have to deal with a reindeer food disaster. Mom appreciated the text, especially after opening a large box today that was mostly packing peanuts.

My walking date yesterday afternoon was great – FIVE miles! The weather was lovely; I didn't even wear a coat. I'm glad I made time for it on what will probably be the last beautiful day of 2012.

As I wrote yesterday, I hope to continue the daily blogging, but it might end up just being the daily photo. WHICH COUNTS AS A POST (for NaBloPoMo) but feels like cheating to me. Have a great weekend! If you celebrate Christmas, I hope your shopping is done, your gifts are wrapped and mailed and you'll have plenty of time to bake cookies, make candy, and maybe even relax a bit as you prepare for The Big Day.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

December 19 - Starts with S

The sun ... the sun ... the sunnnnnnnnn!

Busy day today

I conserved a lot of personal energy yesterday by doing next to nothing. I haven't been sleeping well the past few days, and so when I wasn't doing what was absolutely necessary – making coffee, fixing dinner, opening the mail – I was, um, napping.

Sometimes you need a Nothing Day.

I'm paying for it today, though. I could have made the grandkids' Christmas cards yesterday. I could have finished knitting a little last-minute gift. Instead I played endless games of smartphone solitaire and I slept.

Today I need to pick up an Amish neighbor at 10:30 to take her to a doctor's appointment. I'm then going to have new tires put on my car. (Merry Christmas!) And I have a walking date at 2 p.m.

I tried to walk late yesterday afternoon, figuring I'd have enough time for two miles before starting the spaghetti sauce. Here's my Skimble report:


It was SO cold and SO windy that we (my husband was with me) gave up before we got to the end of the driveway!

Today should be nice, and then we're in for some kind of winter weather event, according to the multiple alerts I've gotten on my phone. I hope to be well south of it before it hits, as I'm headed out tomorrow to visit family a couple states south. Not sure if I'll be able to keep up with the daily posts or not, but I'll sure try.

'Cause I know both of you are on the edges of your chairs waiting for my updates every morning. Heh.

Thanks for your comments the past few days. I appreciate it more than you know. I hope our collective outrage and our calls to our Congressmen and Senators will bring about effective change in America's gun laws. The problem is huge and will never fully prevent future tragedies. But if we don't try, we will always have blood on our hands.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

December 18 - Makes you merry

Packages, wrapped and ready to deliver! I only have six gifts left to wrap,
and they can wait because they're not being mailed or taken beyond state lines.

Crazy, crazy world

A Facebook friend wrote yesterday that the world has gone crazy, but he wasn't going to tag along.

Facebook has been down for me the last couple of days. I could get it on my smartphone if I went through the browser, but that's kind of cumbersome and I found myself just staying away. I would check every couple of hours to see if it was back up, and if it still wasn't, I would go knit, or clean, or walk.

Now that it's back, it's crazier than ever, and I think my friend has the right idea.

I have e-mailed my Congressman and Senators, urging them to work on legislation banning assault weapons. My Congressman issued a statement yesterday in which he put "prayer in schools" on the table. Not sure what he meant by that, but he got an extra e-mail (lucky him!).

West Virginia's junior Senator, Joe Manchin, has been all over the cable news networks saying we need to change the way we regulate guns. This is astonishing, as he's infamous for a television commercial a couple years ago in which he uses a gun to blow away the cap-and-trade bill. He's one of the biggest gun-rights Senators in DC.

The cynic in me also says he just got elected and won't have to run again for six years and he can say pretty much anything now. Will we remember in 2018 that he advocated for stricter gun control in 2012? I'd say he's banking on our short memories. Then again, I'm being cynical.

I have also gotten into a Facebook discussion about gun control from which I subsequently removed my comments. Discretion is the better part of valor. And there are some people on Facebook I'd like to stay very far away from.

Your right to own guns does NOT trump my right to expect a safe experience at a mall, movie theatre or school. Very few on the side of gun control are advocating buying back everyone's weapons, as Australia did. (I have, however, seen a couple gun owners offer to give theirs up if everyone else does – a noble thought which they're pretty safe in saying, since everyone certainly isn't going to turn them in.)

The ban on assault weapons expired in 2004. I want it back in place. Forever. Assault weapons aren't very sporting for deer.

Or for humans.

Monday, December 17, 2012

December 17 - On the floor

The lime tree loses a few leaves every day. Nothing like last year, though,
when it dropped nearly all of them after I moved it indoors for the winter!

What's left to say?

Plenty, apparently.

I've written my Congressman and my Senators, urging them to support a ban on assault weapons. I've thanked Dianne Feinstein, who has promised to introduce such legislation on the first day of the new Congress.

Anything I begin to write here sounds shallow, and I can immediately come up with a comeback. But this I know:

  • I know now is the time to speak up about the issue of gun control. We as a country should never have allowed the ban on assault weapons to expire in 2004. Ah, but we as a country don't have the influence of the NRA.
  • I know the NRA doesn't have a leg to stand on, and they – by their silence since Friday's massacre – must know it, as well. They've deactivated their Facebook and Twitter accounts. They haven't even so much as expressed their condolences.
  • I know the families who lost children and loved ones at Sandy Hook Elementary School will never recover completely from the horror they've experienced. Never.
  • And I know there's nothing – no action, no sentiment, no petition, no meme, no prayer, even – that will help.

I hate that tragedies get turned into political issues. There should be absolutely NO ARGUMENT about semi-automatic and automatic weapons being removed from the hands of non-military citizens. There should be NO ARGUMENT about thorough background checks. There should be NO ARGUMENT about the sanctity of human life.

I also know it's not about taking God out of schools. That one makes me ill. Who in their right mind thinks 20 first-graders were slaughtered because we've systematically removed God and prayer from classrooms? Oh. Right. Mike Huckabee.

What a sorry excuse for a Christian he is (she said, judgmentally).

One of these days, sooner rather than later I hope, we will come to a place as a nation where mental health services are affordable and accessible, where early intervention offers hope and help, where prisons are not the last resort for treatment. If you haven't read this yet, you must. Be forewarned: It's not easy to read.

Read it anyway.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

December 16 - Something you made

Another shot of the handmade journals I'm giving to my five-year-old granddaughter.

If you want to own an assault weapon …

join the military.

Assault weapon is a political term, often used by gun control advocates, typically referring to firearms "designed for rapidly firing at human targets from close range,"[1] sometimes described as military-style features useful in combat.[2] (Definition from Wikipedia)


The NRA remains silent on the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Their initial statement that they were waiting for the facts hasn't been updated, to the best of my knowledge.

The facts are the guns carried by the perpetrator of this horrific crime against innocent citizens – and children – were legal, registered, semi-automatic weapons. How do you defend that? How do you say that's okay?

You don't.

Or at least I don't, but I'm pretty sure the NRA will spin it so their members can feel good about totin' their guns and firin' their arms.

The NRA website claims to be the nation's foremost defender of Second Amendment rights. I'd like to somehow, politely, like a lady, tell the NRA to fuck off.

I have no problem with your Second Amendment rights. If you want to own a musket or a muzzleloader to kill your dinner, you go for it. Even if you want to own a musket or a muzzleloader to defend your property, go right ahead.

As long as the individual attacking you also is armed with a musket or a muzzleloader. The Founders had no concept of the kinds of weaponry available to the well-armed militia 200 years hence. None.

My husband and I had a good day yesterday. We hugged our four little grandchildren often, played with them all afternoon, decorated cookies, opened presents, were so very reluctant to leave.

We're very lucky. And we know it. And we are grateful for our good fortune. But as was demonstrated Friday in Connecticut, it can all go away in an instant.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

December 15 - Outdoors

Cheating a bit. I took this yesterday on my walk. 

A prayer

We Pray for Children
Ina Hughes 
We pray for children 
Who put chocolate fingers everywhere, 
Who like to be tickled, 
Who stomp in puddles and ruin their new pants, 
Who sneak Popsicles before supper, 
Who erase holes in math workbooks, 
Who can never find their shoes. 

And we pray for those 
Who stare at photographers from behind barbed wire, 
Who can't bound down the street in new sneakers, 
Who never "counted potatoes," 
Who are born in places we wouldn't be caught dead in, 
Who never go to the circus, 
Who live in an X-rated world. 

We pray for children 
Who bring us sticky kisses and fistfuls of dandelions, 
Who sleep with the cat and bury goldfish, 
Who hug us in a hurry and forget their lunch money, 
Who squeeze toothpaste all over the sink, 
Who slurp their soup. 

And we pray for those 
Who never get dessert, 
Who have no safe blanket to drag behind them, 
Who can't find any bread to steal, 
Who don't have any rooms to clean up, 
Whose pictures aren't on anybody's dresser, 
Whose monsters are real. 

We pray for children 
Who spend all their allowance before Tuesday, 
Who throw tantrums in the grocery store and pick at their food, 
Who like ghost stories, 
Who shove dirty clothes under the bed, 
Who get visits from the tooth fairy, 
Who don't like to be kissed in front of the car pool, 
Who squirm in church and scream on the phone, 
Whose tears we sometimes laugh at and whose smiles can make us cry. 

And we pray for those 
Whose nightmares come in the daytime, 
Who will eat anything, 
Who have never seen a dentist, 
Who are never spoiled by anyone, 
Who go to bed hungry and cry themselves to sleep, 
Who live and move, but have no being. 

We pray for children 
Who want to be carried 
And for those who must, 
For those we never give up on 
And for those who never get a second chance, 
For those we smother. 
And for those who will grab the hand of anybody kind 
enough to offer it. 

We pray for children. Amen.

Friday, December 14, 2012

December 14 - something green

Catch a falling star

Last night the Geminid meteor shower was the can't-miss event. Of course I did, since I'm an early-to-bed, early-to-rise kinda gal. But the early-to-rise part worked for me, as I caught TWO shooting stars just letting the dog out at 6 a.m.! Amazing. The ability to view meteor showers with very little light noise is definitely a Middle of Nowhere advantage.

THE DOLL IS DONE! Start to finish in four days, that might be a record. Also finished is all the baking I'm going to do. I haven't yet wrapped a single gift, so that will be Job One today, but I'll be fitting it in after a walk and before taking a neighbor to the doctor and after dinner and before bedtime. Which might be later than usual today.

Ah, well, it's the holidays and you're supposed to feel exhausted and stressed, right? Joy to the world, and all that.

Got a call from the owner of the garden center yesterday, asking if I wanted to come work for them again next season. Um, YES!

And that's about it from here. Good-night, Chet. Good-night, David. Good morning, Blog World, from a mostly uninspired and fairly wordless Debbi.

P.S. I could have a lot more time on my hands today, as it looks as if Facebook is down, down, down. Won't load on my browser, and won't load on my phone browser. Ack!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

December 13 - Lights

Thinking outside the box for this prompt, since we don't have any
Christmas lights up. But these flame-shaped bulbs are rather festive!

Concentration


You remember that game, don't you, where you lay a bunch of card pairs down and then flip one over and try to find its mate? Well, leave it to Martha to up the style factor. And leave it to Grandma Debbi to make a set for the four youngest grandchildren.

The craft supplies live in the multi-purpose room above our garage, but I toted the paper cutter and stacks of printed paper and cardstock over to the house so I wouldn't have to heat the office. I've been doing that for a week now, without returning anything to its spot in the craft closet. I'm going to need a pack mule to put everything away.

At any rate … we're going to see those little ones Saturday, so I needed to work on the game yesterday to give it plenty of time to dry. Eight of the tiles have letter stickers on them, two for each of their first-name initials. The rest are little shapes punched from scrapbook paper.

I found a suitable box, covered it with cardstock and today I will wrap everything we have for them.

And then I need to bake. The butter and cream cheese are softening on the counter, to be made into Pecan Tassies. I stocked up on saltines for Saltine Toffee. I'll probably make some kind of fudge or candy, not sure yet.

I walked three miles yesterday, with a friend, on a road that runs by a little creek. The time went by so quickly, and we both enjoyed the walk. I've been trying to do pliés when I think about it, to work on my inflexible hips. They're more of demi-pliés at this point, but ya gotta start somewhere.

So there you have it. 12/12/12 is in the books and we're barreling toward the end of the year. Does it feel as though this year has flown by?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

December 12 - Hat

The hat I wore when I walked this morning. Handknit, pure wool,
Medrith Glover's pattern, the "Sweet Little Lace Cap."

And a one, and a two, and a …

12.12.12

I'm guessing this will be the last repeating date I ever see. Unless science somehow makes it possible for me to live until the 22nd century. (OH EM GEE, what a horrible thought!)

Considering all I've been through so far, and all I've survived, it's a wonder I ever made it to the 21st. And that's a fact.

Nothing, apparently, happened at 12:12:12 a.m. on 12/12/12. Just a few more hours to go to find out about the second set of ones and twos on this magical day. I expect I'll be eating leftovers for lunch about that time. HOW EXCITING!

We had summer for dinner last night – pasta with pesto sauce, to which I added chicken sausages, sun-dried tomatoes, edamame, peppers and onions. The pesto, tomatoes and edamame came from the garden, preserved specifically for a cold and dreary day like yesterday. Summer for dinner, indeed.

I was going to title this post "Working out with Jackson" because yesterday was so cold and so dreary that I – gasp! – used the elliptical for 45 minutes instead of walking outside. And I watched part of Pollock while I ellipsed. I quit after I'd worked up quite a sweat and he figured out that dripping paint was more his style than brushing it on.

After I got cleaned up, Eleanor and I worked a little more on the doll I'm making for our youngest grandchild. I'm knitting the head; the legs, body and arms are done, so I'm definitely on the home stretch. Eleanor (Roosevelt) provided the entertainment via another film, one which chronicles her work as an ambassador to the United Nations following World War II. One scene showed her knitting.

Considering my recent denture adventures, I couldn't help being fascinated by actress Jean Stapleton's teeth. Eleanor Roosevelt had quite a toothy smile, and there must have been some capping going on to make Archie Bunker's wife's mouth so … um … big.

Good movie, though. I'm a great admirer of Mrs. Roosevelt. And of watching movies while I work out. Or knit.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

December 11 - Sweet

My dog Hershey is named for Hershey's chocolates – she's half chocolate
Lab and half who-knows-what. Oh, and she gives kisses.

Back to being crafty

While I really don't ever stop thinking about politics, it's nice to put it on hold for, oh, an hour or two. I worked on a knitting project (due Saturday, and yes, I'm going to make it!) yesterday afternoon while watching Love Actually. Hugh Grant and Colin Firth in a Christmas-themed film – what's not to love?

I also smeared some Mod Podge on a couple of gift boxes a couple times yesterday. I took photos of one box. The other is covered in black scrapbooking paper and y'all know how well black photographs. Um, not.

My co-volunteer at the prison is a true music lover. She takes violin lessons (she and I are about the same age), her license plate says B8OVEN and her dog's name is Anna (which was Ludwig's wife's name). Various nooks and crannies in her home are tricked out with busts of Beethoven. So, yeah, she likes music. 

Remember those flat glass disks I picked up last week at Michael's? Here's one set of finished magnets, with a matching gift box, for her.


We haven't exchanged Christmas gifts before, but she's going through a very rough time right now and I just feel like giving her something. It hardly cost anything at all, but it's something I know she'll like and appreciate and use. 

Too bad everyone I know doesn't have such an easy-to-personalize hobby!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Okay, YUM!

No scolding from any of you about posting a yummy, delicious, rich and tasty cheese spread, okay?

It all started as I was straightening out the pantry and came across a jar of dates, at about the same time my husband was eating a couple of crackers. I remembered I had some goat cheese that needed to be used, and there were three strips of bacon left over from breakfast-for-dinner on Saturday.

I rustled up a couple more likely ingredients and voila! A great addition to the appetizer buffet, or pack it in a pretty jar, pair it with some fancy crackers and give it away.

If you can.



Goat Cheese Spread
  • 1 8-oz. block cream cheese
  • 4 oz. goat cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Six sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil (or soak six sun-dried tomato pieces in oil for about 30 minutes)
  • Six to eight dates
  • Three strips bacon, cooked until crisp
  • 1 Tblsp. chopped parsley
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
In a food processor, pulse the dates, bacon and sun-dried tomatoes until finely chopped. Add garlic and process for 30 seconds. Add cheeses, parsley and salt and whirl until all ingredients are thoroughly combined. Spread on crackers or crostini.

December 10 - Under

Hershey's a little under the weather today. Also under the table.

A good Democrat day

A couple days ago I overheard my husband tell a friend that "Debbi was going to spend Sunday being a good Democrat."

And I did. I even wore blue. Heh. And I did not wear anything Christmas-y, which definitely put me in the minority at the meeting I attended yesterday afternoon.

It was a three(plus)-hour drive north in the fog and rain and, of course, an equally long drive home. In the fog and rain. The drive home actually took longer because it was oh-dark-thirty when I left the meeting and I tend to drive a little more slowly in the fog and rain and DARK.

I'm so old. And my grandchildren would just love it that I drive even more slowly than I already do.

As the chairperson of the Speakers Bureau for the West Virginia Federation of Democratic Women, I was on the agenda to encourage the group to sign up for a Facebook account and "like" our new page. One of the ongoing themes for Democratic women's groups is encouraging younger women to become involved. (At 61, I was the third- or fourth-youngest woman in the room yesterday.)

If you want younger women, you have to be where they are. And they certainly are on Facebook.

So I did that and we actually had quite a good discussion about using Facebook to promote activities and generate interest and support for issues. Mission accomplished.

What I didn't know, and it didn't even occur to me, is that this also was a Christmas party. Some members brought gifts. For ALL OF US. I came home with a bag stuffed with presents. I wish I'd thought ahead and made Hillary 2016 badges for everyone. That would have been a very appreciated holiday remembrance.

Ah, well, I have four more years for that one.

December 9 - Out + About


Yesterday was an out-and-about day for me. Very little shopping was involved.
A great deal of meeting was involved. It was productive, but long, and I got home
well after dark. The last 10 miles of the trip were the longest. So tired.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

4 out of 18

I've missed four days out of the last 18 (beginning on Thanksgiving Day) of walking at least two miles. This is a Big Deal for this lapsed walker, let me tell you. Today will be the fourth miss, as I'll be driving, driving, driving, lunching, attending a meeting, and then driving, driving, driving again. I will be hitting the road at 9:30 and who knows when I'll be home again.

If it weren't pouring down rain, I might go out right now and walk in the dark. NOT!

But the very fact that I entertained the idea, even for long enough to write it down, tells you something about this new commitment I've made to become a more active old woman.

I have very little hope that the increased activity will result in actual reduction of lard. My body just doesn't seem to want to release any of its fat stores. I eat moderately, especially since the denture adventure began in August. Food really doesn't taste all that great when there's a piece of plastic jammed into your palate.

(Don't get me wrong, I'm happy to have the requisite number of pretty teeth again. It's been a very long time. But they do take the pleasure right out of eating.)

One (that one being me) would think that the increased activity combined with the reduced food intake would result in some – even a little – weight loss. Alas, it hasn't happened. The scale doesn't move, either up or down. I'd love to be maintaining if I were at a normal, or even slightly overweight number. But the number is far too high and I'm far too uncomfortable to be maintaining at this level.

The benefits of eating less and moving more go beyond weight loss, though, and I hope to begin enjoying those sooner rather than later. I'm rather astonished at how difficult it is for me to just get out of a chair or tie my shoes. At 61, I feel I'm too young to be experiencing these kinds of physical limitations. I'M NOT READY FOR VELCRO TENNIS SHOES! (My dad thought those were the best invention evah!)

As I write this, I can clearly see that the third "leg" of this mission needs to be some kind of strength training, either yoga or light lifting. Strong women stay young. I hope it's not too late for me.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

December 8 - Someone you love

My husband, playing his piano. Love, love, love.

The card

I usually make our Christmas card, beginning with a seasonal photo taken the previous year. A couple years ago I took snapped a picture with my BlackBerry (those were the days!) of a snow-covered Jeep windshield in which someone had finger-written "Merry Christmas." I thought that would have been a great card from a couple rednecks living in the Middle of Nowhere.

(We're not really rednecks, we're quite progressive here. Our neighbors aren't quite sure what to think of us. Well, most of them, anyway. Not you, LYNNE! And I'd better stop because, seriously, some of my other neighbors might be reading but how would I know?)

Ahem. Moving on. The windshield photo, was not perfect in one significant way. The resolution of the photo was far too low to produce a good printed image. So, scratch that idea right off the list. I may have sent purchased cards that year.

Last year I made our cards using scrapbook paper and embellishments. I think. They were so not-memorable I can't even conjure up an image of them in my mind.

This year I don't have any suitable photos, except, possibly the cover photo of my Facebook page. However, I also don't have a good photo printer this year. I killed it trying to print photos on tissue paper for Yet. Another. Craft. Project. (No point in linking to THAT project, since it's likely to kill your printer, as well. I've since seen other ideas for transferring photos to canvas, which I hope to try soon. Or before I die, whichever comes first.)
Since tempus is fugiting, I decided to just make this year's card out of words. I'm a word person, and a type person (my first job after my first divorce was as a typesetter in a print shop. Our customers could choose from three fonts: Cheltenham, Avant Garde and Baskerville. Those were the days, the redux!).

Anyway. Here this year's greeting:

That just about covers it, right? If your tempus is fugiting, too, and this card says what you want it to say, then go get it, with a hearty Merry Everything from me. The downloadable Photoshop file is set up to print four-up on postcard stock. If you'd rather print foldable cards, just delete the top half of the image. You can then print on card stock, cut in half vertically and fold to make a 4.25x5.5 card, which fits perfectly in invitation-sized envelopes.

If you have trouble downloading or if the link doesn't work, please let me know and I'll either e-mail the file to you or fix the file. Probably the former, as the latter would take tempus.

Which, as we've already established, is FUGITING!

Friday, December 7, 2012

December 7 - Star(s)

Only one star – the star-shaped basket I put Christmas cards in.

That went well

When I take a day to go shopping (other than grocery shopping) by myself, I spend more time debating and deciding than I do actually putting items in my cart. The conversation in my head goes something like this:
Me: WOW, 40% off on these cute little [tags/ribbons/beads/fill-in-the-craft-item-of-your-choice]! Wonder if I can live without them?
Me: Yeah, I probably can.
Me: But 40% off? That makes them practically FREE!
Me: I'll figure out something to do with them.
Me: But do I have room in the craft closet to store more [tags/ribbons/beads/fill-in-the-craft-item-of-your-choice]?
Me: Well, I could consolidate the paper stash and I think there's an empty bin taking up a lot of space on that shelving unit and, and, and …
And then I toss it in the cart, pay for it, bring it home, put it away and forget about it. Or I don't. Depending on how the debate with myself went.

When my husband and I take a day together to shop, we're a little more, um, streamlined.

It didn't help at all (or maybe it did, depending upon which of our perspectives you're looking from) that I lost my shopping list somewhere in the bookstore. OUR FIRST STOP.

As God is my witness, I will never take a paper list shopping with me again! That's what the Listonic app is for, and it works quite well, thankyouverymuch.

Three stores and lunch, and four hours later we were heading home. Seriously! The man is NOT a shopper. You go in the front door, ask someone where the remote-control cars for four-year-olds are, pick the one (or, in our case, the three) you want and head for a check-out line.

We'll definitely do it again. (Next year. Heh.) We had a good day together, and he was able to keep his sense of humor about crowded stores, traffic and my anguish at losing the list. He actually did better than I did. City traffic makes me crazy after all these years.

And since I did find some craft supplies I can actually USE to make GIFTS for THIS CHRISTMAS, well … it's time for me to get to work play.

If you're going to make glass magnets, be sure to use fabric,
magazine images or scrapbooking paper for the designs.
Ink-jet printed images don't work. Ask me how I know.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

December 6 - From where you live

Since much of my life is spent at the end of the dining room table
in front of the laptop, this view out the dining room window
is a pretty darned good representation of today's photo prompt.
(Photo taken around 6:45 a.m. EST)

It's a date!

My husband and I are having a date today. If we didn't have a dog (for the record, I can't imagine not having a dog), we'd probably leave really early and stay really late and throw in a movie, along with the shopping and the dinner.

On the other hand, adding a movie to a day of shopping just sounds like way. too. much.

Especially when I haven't been sleeping. I guess it would depend on the movie, but going to one might be a good way to get a nap in. Hmmm. Argo, from what I've heard, would not be a good sleep-through movie. And I think I would be too interested in Lincoln to find it boring.

Besides, I'm too cheap frugal practical to spend money to sleep through a movie. And then there's this:

WE HAVE A DOG.

She's good for about eight hours, probably longer, but after that length of time I start worrying about her. However – I'm pretty sure her daylong nap in the corner of the couch isn't punctuated with anxious thoughts wondering where her people are.

My husband and I will be finishing up our Christmas shopping, which doesn't mean we're I'm finished with the Christmas gifts. But it'll be nice to have a day away from home, where the incomplete and not-yet-started handmade presents lure me away from Facebook and figuring out what to fix for dinner. Heh.

My husband wants to complete his F. Scott Fitzgerald collection, so we'll probably start at Barnes & Noble for those volumes and maybe a couple biographies of the old sport as well. After that it's kids' stuff. My younger and older granddaughters are taken care of, but there are five more grandchildren to spoil.

And so, hi-ho, hi-ho, it's off to civilization we go. Leaving the Middle of Nowhere for the big city is a rare occurrence for either of us and more unusual for the two of us. I'm kind of surprised at how much I'm looking forward to it. We'll see how it all works out. My husband is even less of a shopper than I am, and the list is, um, long. But if we start at the bookstore, he can sit in a coffee shop and read while I go spend all the money.

Hmmm, sounds like a plan.

P.S. Thanks very, very much for your kind comments on yesterday's post. The women there inspire me way more than I do them, which is not to negate your sweet thoughts. But if I don't keep things in perspective I'll have to start knitting myself bigger hats! Heh.