Tuesday, December 31, 2013

December 31 - Celebrate

It was f-f-f-FREEZING cold, but my husband and I celebrated the last day of a
very good year with a four-mile walk. Here's to an equally good 2014! Happy New Year!

Much to celebrate in 2013

This year has been a great one for me. I've found a way to eat that has resulted – finally – in a close-to-normal weight. My joints don't ache, I move freely and often, I'm not hungry or grumpy, I've dropped several clothing sizes (even shoes!) and I can wear costume jewelry again, after a metal allergy cleared up.

It hasn't been all sunshine and lollipops. Some things have been going on that I could never share here. I've used food to soothe my emotions a couple of times, but while that was formerly a go-to strategy and a coping mechanism I could count on, I'm more likely to walk it off now.

Or lose myself in a game (or 10) of Dots.

I look forward to my almost-daily walks. I feel as though something's missing when, for one reason or another, I have to skip a day.

I look forward to bacon-and-egg breakfasts, too. Who knew eating half your daily calories in fat could create such great weight-loss results? I'm totally sold on the primal way of eating. (The difference between paleo and primal is explained here, and after reading it I am much more in the primal category as far as my diet goes.)

While I'm puttering around in the kitchen today, I'm going to come up with at least a couple of goals for 2014. Calling them goals certainly works better for me than making resolutions. I can resolve until the cows come home, and I have over the years done just that. I can't quite put my finger on how the difference in nomenclature worked this year.

But it did, and since it did, I'm sticking with it.

My kitchen-puttering will consist of preparing a good-luck feast for my husband and me. We aren't big party people at any time, and especially not on New Year's Eve. We enjoy a quiet meal of ribs and kraut (my family's traditional end-of-year dinner), greens and carrot coins (for prosperity – who couldn't use more of that?) and Hoppin' John (the traditional southern dish for luck in the new year).

I want to thank both of you for sticking with me as I stepped WAY out of my comfort zone this year. I appreciate your comments so much. Blogging has been good for me for many years. I've made friends, learned so much, and gotten (and, hopefully, given) tons of support.

My husband thanks you, as well, since he doesn't have to listen to all my disjointed and sometimes crazy thoughts!

Have a safe and happy New Year's Eve. See you tomorrow.

Monday, December 30, 2013

December 30 - You

My favorite photo of myself from last year. My husband took it while we were
walking on our favorite country road. He wanted me to see what I looked like
from the rear (ahem), but I turned around unexpectedly as he pressed the button.
This was right around the time the 50-pounds-lost goal had been achieved.

Since Christmas …

  • I haven't logged a single bite of food (actually the last time I recorded an entire days' worth of meals in LoseIt was December 2).
  • I've walked a total of 3.6 miles.
  • I've eaten pretty much whatever I wanted, including pasta, rice, cheesecake, cookies and candy (apologies for the foodporn).


How is that possible? I TOTALLY didn't expect to maintain after the lack of exercise and excess (and off-plan) meals and treats I've eaten while I've been away.

I'd decided ahead of time not to make a big deal out of either. I had little control over the food and none over the scheduled activities. I've taken very few breaks during this year of reclaiming my health and I've kept in mind the Russ-and-Jeff mantra:

What you eat between New Year's and Christmas 
matters more than what you eat 
between Christmas and New Year's.

My switch to a paleo eating plan was not just about weight loss, however, and I'm feeling some minor  effects after three days of consuming starches and sugar. It's not too awful, though. Let's just say I'm feeling my age. Heh.

Getting back on track is my top priority. I have one more planned "indiscretion" – we're having Hoppin' John for dinner tomorrow. Then, beginning New Year's Day, it's back to the basics that have brought me to this state of feeling good and looking normal.

I've had so much FUN buying smaller-sized clothes that fit and flatter. I've been wearing jewelry and doing my nails and paying attention to how I present myself. No more hiding behind yoga pants and tunic tops (unless I pair one with leggings and boots).

The goals I set for myself last December 26 helped keep me on track. The goal for 2014 is to drop the remaining 12 pounds to get me to a normal BMI. I'm not sure how long that will take. I suppose I should put an end date on it, but I don't feel very confident doing that, since I've essentially weighed the same for two months.

Is this my marathon year? I haven't set that goal yet either. If it is, it will be in Raleigh, NC, next November. I need to do some research on how paleo folks eat and train for distance running events.

Today, I'm just happy to be where I am. I haven't suffered this year. I haven't felt deprived. I've missed some things (pasta and rice, especially) but the benefits have been far greater than I'd ever imagined.

A big thank you to my real-life friend Wendy, my blogging buddy Gingerzingi and my husband's cousin Vickie for their example and inspiration. My gratitude knows no bounds.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

December 28 - This is awesome

Waiting for The Nutcracker to begin again after intermission. What a wonderful
performance by Carolina Ballet and the North Carolina Symphony.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Thursday, December 26, 2013

December 26 - Where you slept

Beneath a handmade quilt in the very comfy guest room at my son and daughter-in-law's home.

Looking back. And ahead.

A year ago this morning, I wrote:
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.
Well, it looks as though I have turned the blog back into a weight-loss effort after all. I've been committed to (some would say obsessed with) improving my fitness levels and reducing my lardage for a full year now.

I ended up not doing what I said I would do last December 26. I ended up doing something completely out of my comfort zone. It took a couple months of not succeeding with my original plan to take a leap of faith and try this new-to-me thing that has worked so well for so many.

And it's been exactly what I needed.

I said, a year ago, I would be adding strength training and yoga to my daily walk or elliptical session. That didn't happen. I've dabbled in yoga but the scheduled classes don't mesh well with mine. I always feel good when I practice, but apparently the good feeling isn't enough to get me to keep practicing regularly.

I've been doing squats, wall push-ups and a couple of dumbbell moves pretty regularly since late summer. These moves hardly qualify as hardcore strength training, but I've been consistent with them. And consistency counts.

I did manage to take an almost-daily walk, to the tune of nearly 1,300 miles this year. With five days left in 2013, I will certainly surpass that number. Maybe even today! I'm heading out to visit my son and his family, but hope to get a bit of a walk in before I leave.

And, by eliminating legumes, dairy, grains and sugar from my diet, I've lost – as of this morning – 53 pounds. I've gone from a BMI of 36.6 to 26.5 – still overweight, but just 1.5 points away from normal. My lowest weight this year was three pounds lighter than today's number.

Looking ahead, I'd like to lose 12 more pounds, which would get me to a normal BMI and, more than likely, a size 6 or 8. It would get me to a point where I could comfortably swim with my little fish of a granddaughter. I'd feel like I wouldn't be pounding my knees if I took up running again. I've never done a full marathon. Sometimes I still think that's out of my reach.

But sometimes I don't.

Do I want to eat from the list of foods I've given up since April?
Yes, yes I do. But I've indulged a bit this week and honestly don't feel all that much better for it. The taste of those treats was fleeting, but the achy joints and morning stiffness – gone, for the most part, when I eat cleanly – isn't really worth it. I'm well stocked with coconut and almond flour and raw honey, and paleo pumpkin muffins taste just as good and don't take any more work than those made with flour and sugar.

Do I wish I'd started this plan earlier?
Yes, yes I do. But I had to be ready. I had to hit a brick wall. I had to be doing everything "right" and still not succeed in order to do something really, really different and radical (for me) and totally outside my comfort zone. I had to take the huge risk that if this didn't work, well … I'd be lugging 50 extra pounds around until the end of my days.

Because I didn't know what else I could try.

Do I plan to stick with the paleo template?
Yes, yes I do. Perhaps not as strictly as I have. It's not that grains, legumes, dairy or sugar will kill you if you partake of them occasionally. But two things come to mind when I contemplate going back to the Standard American Diet. These two thoughts have worked well for me in Alcoholics Anonymous. No reason to think they won't work for the rest of my daily life.

If you keep on doing what you've always done, 
you'll keep on getting what you've always gotten.


If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

As always when I travel, I'm not sure how much posting will get done here. Rest assured I will be making reasonably good food choices, I will be walking at least a couple miles each day I'm gone and I will be enjoying my final Christmas celebration of 2013. I hope you had a Merry Christmas. And I hope the rest of this year is peaceful and relaxing and filled with joy.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

December 25 - Best bit of your day

A short late-day walk, just as the sun was dipping down behind the mountain.

Wishing both of you …

a very merry Christmas.

My husband and dog are still sleeping. Christmas with part of my family starts tomorrow and will include seeing a performance of The Nutracker! I'm very excited about that.

Today will be a quiet one: taking my mother-in-law out for dinner, walking with my husband later today (when it warms up a bit), setting up the Kindle that Santa Debbi brought for him.

We'll see how that goes. Santa Debbi may have bought herself a new Kindle. Heh.

A year ago this morning I weighed 53 pounds more than I do today. Yes, I've added a couple MORE pounds this week. But wow.

Fifty-three pounds.

I think maybe that's the best gift ever.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

December 24 - Wrapped

Pretty self-explanatory, wouldn't you say? Now it's time to knit!
(See previous post if you're not sure what I mean.)

The benefits of SABLE

SABLE, among knitters, stands for Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy.


Even though earlier this year I unloaded about 30 trash bags of yarn I'll never use, I still have, um, a lot of fiber waiting to be knitted into something.

My theory about stuff is that it will eventually take over the space you have available for it. You can prove it by clearing off a countertop. That pristine space will have something parked on it before you can turn around and click your heels.

Prior to the yarn purge I had trouble finding what I needed when I wanted to make something new. But while I was looking for yarn to make YET ANOTHER PAIR OF CLOGS, guess what I found?

My old pattern for them.

As I knit along following the revised instructions I downloaded a couple days ago, I knew something was different. I've made so many pairs of these clogs over the years … this new pattern had changed, and when the clogs came out of the washer they didn't fit the way the old ones had.

So I went rummaging for wool among the SABLE and, in the bag marked Felted Bags and Clogs, saw the familiar turquoise-blue paper, tucked in a page protector, waiting for me to find it.

I'm well on my way to finishing the first of the pair. As soon as I wrap this post up and put up the photo post, I'm closing the lid on the laptop and heading to my little nest to knit the morning away.

I'll let my daughter-in-law choose the pair that fits her best. I'm thinking it will be the current, unfinished pair. The other ones will most likely fit my sister. If they don't, she can donate them.

There's plenty more yarn for another pair for the sister. And her birthday isn't until March.

Monday, December 23, 2013

December 23 - Tradition

My tradition in the past has been to bake way too many cookies. This year, since I'm
sugar- and grain-free, the holiday treats are a date/cocoa/nut mixture rolled in
chopped nuts and unsweetened coconut flakes. Get the recipe here.

Could have been worse

Up one pound for this morning's weekly weigh-in, which isn't really so awful considering my deviation from plan for a couple days last week.

I want to assure both of you that I knew what I was doing. Desperate times call for desperate measures fudge. And toast. I had paleo food on hand. But you know what? Even opening a can of tuna and mixing it with homemade mayonnaise, which I'd made a couple days ago, needs to be cleaned up with running water.

My choice of sustenance was based on two things:

  1. How much mess would I create that then couldn't be properly cleaned, and 
  2. Would it comfort me?

I rarely reach for canned anything when I need to feed my emotions. In fact, I think it's safe to say I never do. And believe me, I needed to feed those emotions.

As of this morning I am 98 percent of the way to my deadline and 85 percent of the way to my goal. Although I've already surpassed, by five pounds, my original goal of losing 50 pounds by Christmas. I couldn't be happier about that. Ten to go to reach the revised goal of minus-65. Not gonna happen in the next two days. Heh.

I've been cleaning like a crazy person, now that water is in abundant supply. And I made a feast (and a completely paleo-friendly one at that) for dinner yesterday. My husband and I finally had our just-the-two-of-us Thanksgiving dinner, and it seemed quite appropriate to have it the day after the water came back on.

We had turkey, gravy (thickened with arrowroot) deviled eggs, cranberry sauce (my jumping-off point, I used fresh chopped-up oranges instead of juice and added a smidge of vanilla and a handful of trail mix), a mashed sweet potato/carrot mixture, broccoli and maple pumpkin custard.

If you visited here later yesterday you'll see I changed my exercise plan from indoors to out. The temperature was so mild I just couldn't work out on the elliptical. I got pretty soaked, but I don't melt. And it felt great to get a six-miler in. It's been a while.

And I only have to log nine more miles to hit 1300 for the year, totally shattering my original goal of a thousand.

I've also been knitting like a crazy person. I finished the clogs for my daughter-in-law last night. Need to throw them in the washing machine today to felt them down from clown-sized to adult woman-sized. I'd thought I might have to wrap them pre-felting, but there's plenty of time for them to dry before we get together after Christmas.

The gift knitting is done and I can get back to the leg warmers I started for myself a couple months ago. Only a few more rounds of ribbing and the first will be finished.

So I've written this morning about knitting, running walking and eating. For reaping, I picked my final citrus harvest a couple days ago. The lemon and lime trees were outgrowing the available space I had for them and have now found a new home. They're in good hands. That makes me happy.

And so does getting back on track with the food! I do believe we'll have leftover turkey for at least one meal today.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Changed the plan. Again. Because I can.

It was soooo warm and not raining very hard at all.
So I went for a walk. Ended up doing six altogether.

December 22 - Sparkly

No sparkly decorations around here this year. My ring will have to do.

Pushing the reset button

Woke up at 6-ish this morning, after sleeping for 11 hours, and WE STILL HAVE WATER!

For the first couple days after any kind of basic-necessity disaster (no electricity, no water, no bacon) it's an adventure to flip a switch or turn a faucet. So far, so good.

My plan for today has already changed. Last night when I checked the weather it wasn't supposed to start raining until mid-morning. I'd planned to take a long, long walk beginning at around 8 a.m. I haven't walked in a couple of days (one doesn't want to exert oneself when one can't shower. ahem.) and was really looking forward to getting outside. The temperature is unseasonably warm.

It would have been great.

However. The winds from the west pushed the storms here earlier than predicted, and it's been raining and blowing for half an hour already. The chance of rain all day today is from 80 to 100 percent.

[I'm very glad the lineman came yesterday to hook the power back up to the water pump. That whole apparatus is in a muddy cow pasture, which is surely much muddier now than it was yesterday afternoon.]

So the plan now is to hop on the elliptical and watch a movie.

I'm resetting the food button, after two days of eating crap. [I did pretty well the first two days, not so much Friday and Saturday.] Not total crap, but certainly not enough vegetables, less-than-ideal protein and too. much. sugar.

When one doesn't have water, one doesn't cook. Because one can't clean up the mess. Well, one can, but it's certainly more of an operation than just moistening a sponge, swiping a surface and rinsing the sponge out. I ended up using an entire roll of paper towels during the four days we were H20-less. We ran out of clean dishes and had to switch to disposables. We ate up all the easy-to-nuke leftovers and then just caved to convenience.

I woke up this morning feeling achy and stiff, just like the old days, and blame it on toast with marmalade. Among other indiscretions.

If anything, this experience has reinforced the theory that convenience foods contribute to poor health in ways Big Food couldn't have imagined when they thought they were making life easier by providing grab-and-go meals and snacks.

And I absolutely MUST remember that it matters more what you eat throughout the year than what you eat during the holidays. Or during a short-lived, inconvenient crisis.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Yes, Debbi, there IS a Santa Claus

And he brought me WATER for an early Christmas present!

I'm running the dishwasher and gathering up laundry, and to celebrate the return of a basic necessity, we're going out for dinner.

Even though I could cook.

I have had a couple reallyawfulbad days of emotional eating. I did fine Wednesday and Thursday, but as the situation stretched into Friday I'm afraid I fell back into old patterns/habits. Sugar is very comforting in a crisis.

Now that the crisis is over and all's right with the world, I shall climb back on the wagon. Gladly!

December 21 - On the door

My weights-and-measures cheat sheets, inside a kitchen cupboard door.

Still. No. Water.

I'm so angry.

We were told yesterday, after an inspection of the repair work to the water pump power system had been completed (or nearly so, there's a bit more to do this morning), that no one from Mon Power (our electric company, owned by FirstEnergy Corp.) was available to come turn the power back on.

They were all on vacation. Because, you know, IT'S THE HOLIDAYS!

Yes, as a matter of fact, I DO know it's the holidays. And I have no water. I can't cook or do dishes. I can't clean. I can't do laundry. I can't shower or flush my toilets.


I took the radical step of reporting an outage this morning and someone actually called me back. I explained the situation to him and learned that, because our outage was a scheduled one and not an emergency, it goes through a different system, and I can't even talk to anyone who has the authority to send someone out until Monday morning.

He gave me another number to call and I talked with a very sympathetic woman who confirmed that nothing could be done today. Or tomorrow. But she promised to keep working on it and also promised she or someone else would call me back this morning.

I'm not holding my breath.

It's unfathomable to me that if workers are available to take care of emergencies on a 24/7 basis, one of those same workers can't be dispatched to restore my service today.

I'm beyond frustrated.

Friday, December 20, 2013

December 20 - I'm listening to …

President Obama's last press conference of the year.

Wrapping up the work week

Today's my last day to transport the little Amish girls to and from their school. It's been a lot of fun for me and yesterday they told me I'm more interesting than their regular driver, who "doesn't talk much." Heehee.

Each afternoon I ask what the best part of their day was. They're preparing for a Christmas program, and each day they've said, "Practicing for the program!" Each child in the school will sing one or more songs and recite a poem and a Bible verse. The entire Amish community attends the presentation, which is held the day before Christmas.

The children get Christmas Day off from school, but go back the very next day. No extended winter break for these kids. But their school year is shorter, ending in April, than the public school schedule  around here.

Thanks to those of you who weighed in on my minimum-wage post. I appreciate your thoughts. I also meant to add that many, many, MANY minimum-wage (or less) workers I see are definitely not teen-agers. In fact, many times they are much older than I am. Maybe they're working just to keep busy, but I doubt it.

HOPEFULLY today is the last day we'll have a work crew here trying to fix our water issue. Thanks to everyone who commented yesterday. It's always good to know I'm not alone in my despair. Misery loves company – an excellent reason to blog!

But life is not all misery.

Lately life has been almost all knitting. I got the Pretty Comfy knee socks done, wrapped and shipped yesterday. I had to print out blocking instructions and tuck them into the package, because hand-knit socks really need blocking before they're presented. But blocking means soaking in water. And water, AS YOU KNOW, is kind of a premium item around the Middle of Nowhere these days. Also, I wouldn't have had time to block AND dry them, so they got sent as is, right off the needles.

My granddaughter wears the same shoe size I do, but she's quite petite. The socks fit me with a bit of stretching over the calves, so I think they'll be perfect for her. I hope she likes them, but as I learned with the sister gift, it's best not to have high expectations. Especially when it's a teen and a hand-knit gift.

(My sister lives more in the Middle of Nowhere than I do – no Indian markets nearby. No internet access either. OH WELL. I gave her suggestions and she knows how to cook. End of that story.)

I started a pair of Felted Clogs for my daughter-in-law last night. I lost my pattern, but was more than willing to shell out for a replacement which is now available as a download that I can store forever in Dropbox. It takes about six knitting hours to complete these, plus felting and drying time. I'm visiting with my son and his family after Christmas, so – depending on the water situation – I should have plenty of time to felt and dry them.

And more not-misery: President Obama is commuting the sentences of eight inmates who have served way too much time for minor roles in crack-cocaine cases. One is Clarence Aaron, who was the subject of a PBS Frontline piece in 1999. He received three life sentences for introducing a dealer to a buyer. Here's his story.

Through my volunteer work at a federal prison camp I've met many women who are serving time imposed under the unfair mandatory minimum sentencing laws. Those laws are being reformed and even being made retroactive, but the wheels of justice turn slowly. I'm so very happy for the eight whose sentences are being commuted. According to Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), however, there are several thousand still waiting.

FAMM rightly points out that while President Obama has the power to pardon or commute sentences, only Congress can change the laws. There are SO MANY reasons to vote for candidates who believe in upholding human rights instead of restricting them.

The next election cycle has already begun here in West Virginia. We're being bombarded with a mixture of holiday shopping and negative campaign ads on television. We Democrats could win big – it's possible we could take all three seats in Congress and the open Senate seat. I hope all this early campaigning doesn't lead to apathetic voters next November.

I guess it's up to me – and you, if you live in West Virginia – to make sure that doesn't happen.

T-minus two hours (give or take) before the work crew arrives. Water by the end of the day is the goal. Film at eleven.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

What have I done to piss off the Universe?

The hits just keep on comin'.

My husband called me last Friday while I was out shopping to let me know we had a huge problem with the power supplying our water pump. I cut my trip short and came home to be of whatever support I could.

Everything came together somewhat magically and we had running water again by the end of the day. It took a lot of coordination and effort and manpower, but we now have a telephone pole holding up the electrical box and meter, and it all worked well.

Until Tuesday night, when we noticed the water pressure was weak. In the light of yesterday we went to the site and – eventually – discovered a burnt-out wire. It was most likely damaged when the original, inadequate pole fell on Friday. But it took a few days to actually fail, giving us quite the false sense of security.

So no water yesterday while we figured out what was wrong and what we needed to do to fix it. And no water today while we gather the materials and coordinate the manpower. And maybe – MAYBE – we'll have water tomorrow.

One of my Facebook friends commented over there that perhaps we needed to move to civilization.

That's an EXCELLENT suggestion.

Know anyone who wants to buy a lovely home in the country with, um, water issues?

What else? About a month ago my husband approached me with the idea that he might like to learn how to use one of those tablet things. You know, move into the 21st century. Embrace the technology. He has since gone on an anti-technology rant at least once a week. I might be adding his Kindle (Merry Christmas, honey!) to my arsenal of devices.

Also, I spent a lot of time and effort gathering a bunch of Indian spices and spice mixes to give my sister for Christmas, who adores Indian cuisine. Along with her thanks, she said she didn't know where to find any of the other ingredients she would need to make the recipes. I'm a by-guess-and-by-golly kind of cook. If the directions say add blah-blah-blah, and I only have chicken broth on hand, by golly I'll use chicken broth.

She, apparently, goes by the book and was just a little less grateful than I thought she'd be. Oh, well. Those were my expectations. Once the gift is out of my hands I can't do anything about it. But believe me, she's getting a check next year.

There are other things I won't or can't go into, and so it's time to dig deep and come up with something positive upon which to end this drivel.

Did I ever write about the two boys our Amish neighbors were fostering? (I can't find any past record of it if I did.) The couple who had the boys also owned the bakery. Melissa (the wife/mom) is my friend who died last summer. At the time she died, she and her husband were fostering four siblings, but prior to that they'd had two brothers for nearly nine months. The state decided the biological mother had turned her life around and the boys were sent back to her just before they were about to be adopted.

Which devastated Simon and Melissa, but within a couple days the new children arrived. Only to be removed when Melissa died.

Leaving Simon quite alone.

Well, when I picked up the little Amish girls to go to school Monday morning, I heard the news that the two little brothers are back with Simon. Their mom's addiction was apparently stronger than her affection for her children. Which is sad, yes, but we're all so happy for Simon and the boys.

So, yes, the hits do keep on coming, as hits are wont to do.

But the Universe has a way of evening things out.

P.S. At least I don't have to do laundry. Or dishes. So YAY for that!

December 19 - Tis the season to

… knit! My Pretty Comfy Socks are getting a knee-sock makeover. All that's left to do
is finish the toes and they're outta here! Think they'll make it to Tennessee before Christmas?
I'd hate to disappoint a teen-ager who asked Grandma for something hand-knit!
Next up: Felted Clogs – the last of the gift knitting – and then a pullover for me, me, me.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

December 17 - Tree

Look up! It's a ... pine tree!

Wanna make more than minimum wage?

Work for the Amish.

As both of you know, I'm really happy we have Amish neighbors. They are kind, thoughtful, industrious, generous and more than fair. Whenever we've had them work for us, they frequently work out a trade – I'll cut your fallen tree if you'll let me have the wood, for instance. When we pay them money, it's always a reasonable amount for their excellent craftsmanship, and we frequently give them more than they ask for.

The community is split into two locations. The families who live on our road are only a couple miles away. There's another set of families who live a bit further out, and on the other side of the main highway.

I got a call from one of my neighbors asking if I could fill in for their regular driver this week to transport three little girls to and from their school. Total mileage each day is about 30. Total time is about an hour and a half.

They pay $20 a day.

Which, at about $13 an hour, seems like way too much to me.

And leads, naturally, to the larger issue of just what IS a fair minimum wage? 'Cause $7.25 an hour surely is not. At least in my opinion. (Here's an in-depth piece about the subject.)

Those who would defend it say minimum-wage jobs are for teens, who need to support a family but do need work experience. They say prices for goods and services would rise so high the businesses (mostly restaurants) would have to close.

And yet, Australia has the highest national minimum wage (at more than $16/hour) in the world, but it takes just 18 minimum-wage minutes to buy a Big Mac. Here in the States the minimum wage is less than half – $7.25 – and thus we need to work about twice as long to buy our sandwich. You can see a comparison of other countries here.

Those who favor raising our minimum wage say more money would be available to spend. And seriously? Who in the fast-food drive-thru lane is going to object to spending an extra 50 cents IF prices rise? I don't buy fast food, so I can't say if the additional cost would get me to cook my own burger.

It's complicated, for sure.

I know one thing: When I eat in a restaurant or stay in a hotel, I tip generously. Having been there/done that (when I made $1 an hour, in 1967), I just think it's fair.

Where do you stand on the minimum-wage issue? Have you ever worked for minimum wage, or do you now?

Monday, December 16, 2013

December 16 - Makes me merry

It always makes me merry to be able to walk outdoors, even on a grey day like today.

The value of journaling

You know how, just a few days ago, I wrote about my Thursday morning weigh-ins being the lowest of the week, but not lasting until the official one on Monday morning?

At least for this week, I was WRONG! Not only was Thursday's number good, today's was one pound lower. I'm down TWO pounds this week. Two pounds in one week hasn't happened in a long, long time. That's three for the month, with two weeks to go.

I've fallen off the food journaling wagon and have no idea if what I've been eating is a factor in these results. LoseIt keeps lowering my daily calorie intake; it's now down to 1048 calories. I'm quite sure I'm eating more than that. I eat from a list of foods which have turned out to be pretty darned perfect for me, and simply haven't felt the need (or just couldn't be bothered) to record it all.

These foods help me feel better physically (no joint pain, relief from an allergy) AND, as a bonus, have resulted in – as of this morning – a total loss of 56 pounds. That's a new low (in the last 16 years).

Nine pounds to go.

I'm still journaling my walks, but haven't been able to get one in for three days. I'm still doing a very simple bodyweight routine – squats, wall push-ups, two or three dumbbell moves – most days, but not journaling them.

The value of journaling would be that I could look back at the last couple weeks' worth of data and see what's worked to produce this morning's result. But really? It's probably more complicated than that.

Or maybe, just maybe, it's a lot simpler. When I put protein, fat, vegetables and fruit in my body, AND when I move my body on a regular basis, AND when I keep grains, sugar, legumes and dairy off my plate I get the results I want.

Maybe not exactly when I want or expect, but today's number was very good for reinforcing the notion that I'm doing what I need to do for me.

Back in the spring, LoseIt predicted I'd be at my goal this month. Now it says the end of January. I don't know about that – I'd need to continue losing a couple pounds a week. Not a realistic expectation, given the past couple months of results.

But this year has been a good one, as this chart shows:
Exercise hasn't changed much all year. Food has.
January through April: Counting calories, eating Standard American Diet.
April through present: Paleo.
And as this morning's result shows, I'm still moving in the right direction. Onward!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

December 15 - Lights

Driving through one of the two tunnels on the trip home.

Heading out

We're heading out to visit grandchildren (and their parents) and heading back home again, all in the same day. It will be approximately twice as much driving as visiting, but worth every second behind the wheel to see them all again.

We missed seeing the littlest one this fall, as she and her mother were traveling when her dad and big brothers came here. I saw a recent picture of her yesterday, and she's grown so much since the last time we saw her, in the spring.

My husband and I like to think we're much better grandparents than we were parents. Of course, grandparenting is easier: You can give them back at the end of the day! Heh. Speaking only for myself, though, I was way too young to be a mom when that happened, and went strictly on instinct.

My children turned out well – mostly thanks to their dad and stepmother – but the fact that we have good relationships with each other now speaks well of my grabbing the chance to turn my life around. Too late for their childhoods, but not too late for their children's.

At any rate … have a good Sunday. Hopefully I'll have something more fun to write about tomorrow. I'm not sure how this turned into such a somber post.

I never plan these things in advance. Because I'm impulsive like that!

Friday, December 13, 2013

December 13 - Tradition

I traditionally bake at Christmas time, but this is my first paleo holiday and I don't
think I want to risk it. So I made these crafty little reindeer for the grandchildren instead.

It is done

After three application attempts, numerous phone calls, several on-line chat sessions and tripping my way through a muddy website that leaves one asking more questions than is necessary, I finally – finally! – have a health insurance plan under the Affordable Care Act.

Did I save any money? One dollar per month. I could have saved more, but I chose not to use all of the subsidy I qualified for because the way it was calculated was a bit murky. I reported our income, but can't report what we might withdraw from our retirement account. To be on the safe side, I stuck with a premium I know we can handle (the current amount).

Did I get better coverage than what my current policy offers? VASTLY better. A slightly lower deductible, much lower out-of-pocket costs, no limit on benefits and reasonable co-pays.

My old policy was limited to $1,000,000 in benefits and I still had to pay full price for office visits and diagnostic tests.

Of course, since I'm one of the healthiest women I know, I'm still going to
  1. be lining the coffers of the already profitable insurance company,
  2. not meet the annual deductible amount, and
  3. pay cash for the diuretic I take 2 to 3 times a week, since it costs less than the Rx benefit.
Oh, well. I've long said health insurance is really wealth insurance: A way to insure you don't lose everything due to an accident or illness.

There's absolutely no reason anyone should have to go through this. We need single-payer, Medicare-for-all. PERIOD. Maybe someday …

If you don't know what I'm talking about OR why we need it, take the few minutes necessary to watch this video. And then share it, won't you?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

December 12 - Joy is ...

my Hershey girl. I'm still surprised at how much of a dog person I am.

When will my head catch up?

I'm really beginning to love Thursday morning weigh-ins. Today is the third consecutive Thursday the scale has told me I have 10 pounds or less to lose to reach my goal. As I've mentioned previously, it doesn't last until Mondays – my "official" weigh-in day. But Thursdays are pretty sweet.

If you'll recall, my original goal of losing 50 pounds this year has been met. I've been three or four pounds below that for several weeks now, and that feels great. I wore a pair of size 8 jeans last night.

EIGHT! I never thought I'd fit into a pair of size 8 jeans again. (In my closet now are various brands of jeans in sizes 8, 10 and 12*, all of which fit well. So it's the label, not the size. BUT STILL! EIGHT!)

Here's the thing, though. My head still thinks I'm an XL. When I put those jeans on yesterday, I wondered if they'd be comfortable enough to wear or if I'd have to put them back in the closet for another, thinner, day.

Most of the time my head thinks I'm still that fat lady hiding in yoga pants and tunic tops. And they had to be dark colors, which are – after all – slimming, right? (Last night's outfit was purple.)

There are lots of theories about why those last 10 pounds are lost at a slower rate than the previous XX were. And LOTS of tips to speed up the process. I wonder if this head game is making it more difficult, subconsciously, to finish the job.

As I've also mentioned previously, this is what maintenance is all about. I didn't hit that 50-pounds-gone mark and dive into a cookie jar, because it isn't just about weight loss. If I ate cookies, I'd feel bad, not mentally, but physically. I've tested wheat and sugar, with cake and crackers. Based on those experiments, I don't think cookies would agree with me.

I've been able to eat a little dairy – the occasional sprinkle of goat cheese or feta on a salad – with no ill effects. I'm very happy about that, but I doubt I'll ever again chow down on a chunk o'cheddar for an evening snack. I still haven't tried legumes of any kind. Not sure why. Soon, though – Hoppin' John for New Years!

This post isn't about losing the last 10 pounds, though. It's about making my mental image of myself match what I see in the mirror. My personal theory is that until those two pictures begin to merge, I'm going to remain stuck here.

Which, honestly, isn't a bad place to be.

Perhaps I should be lobbying to change the BMI value for normal to 27. Because then I'd be DONE!

*Size 12s are Lee Riders, size 10s are Kohl's Sonoma brand and size 8s are from Christopher & Banks.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

December 11 - Green

We don't get there very often. Maybe only once every other year.
But it's great living so close to one of America's truly beautiful showpiece hotels.
You know, if you want to just pop over for lunch and shopping. Heh.

Oh what a relief it is, Part Two

I feel badly for Denise, who commented on my second post yesterday that she'd given up on healthcare.gov. And I empathize with her and with the Kitten, who also commented about his frustrations with his system in California. I, too, am a bit intimidated by the choices and by having to make a decision. Which plan is going to work best? WHO KNOWS? You only know if you have to use it. You can study each one and try to figure it out, but until you actually have an accident or become ill or contract a horrible disease, all you're going on is faith that the insurance company has your best interests at heart.


So why is this post Part Two? Because even though I still haven't gone into my account to choose my plan, I'm relieved – oh, so relieved – to have gotten through the process and been deemed qualified.

I still think the U.S. Congress is silly greedy shortsighted for insisting commercial insurance is a better alternative than a single-payer, Medicare-for-all plan. Bernie Sanders (D-VT), in a somewhat serendipitous bit of timing, introduced a bill in the U.S. Senate yesterday that would make each state set up a single-payer system, as Vermont has just done.

As is evidenced by Kitten and Denise (and me), the American people aren't happy with the ACA. There is a strong movement toward single-payer, and Sen. Sanders has long been an advocate. As has PNHP.

The ACA has been, so far, an incredibly frustrating and expensive boondoggle. I can't honestly say I'm unhappy about that, since the push for single payer is becoming stronger each and every day.

Even if we all qualified for a Medicare-type plan, we would still have the option of purchasing supplemental insurance from a private company to cover expenses not covered by the Medicare-type plan. Some choose not to do so, and are then liable for those extra expenses should something happen. My husband, a Medicare recipient, goes through the various plans each year and then picks one out of a hat. He could just as effectively throw a dart.

He's amazingly healthy for a man his age. He takes no daily medication, walks more than 30 miles every week, maintains a below-normal body weight and a smack-dab-in-the-middle BMI. He rarely goes to the doctor.

The rarely part is why he buys supplemental insurance. The what-if-something-happens. The what-if-I-need-medicine. The what-if-I-get-cancer. All very real possibilities, considering his age and gender. Seriously, though? Those are all very real possibilities for any of us.

At any rate, the push for single-payer continues, with new life because the ACA still doesn't meet our needs. I'll be checking out my options in the next day or so, hoping a plan exists that will meet mine.

Only two and a half years until I qualify for single-payer Medicare. I can only hope it happens sooner rather than later for you younger whippersnappers.

P.S. Time just announced its Person of the Year: Pope Francis, the People's Pope! An excellent choice,  and a breath of fresh air, not just for the Catholic Church but for all of humanity. You know if conservatives are criticizing him he must be doing something right.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

R is for …

rosemary. One of the few still-green branches on the plant.

Signing up for health insurance


I've been trying to navigate the Healthcare Marketplace since October 1. We all know there've been many problems. I got through the process a month or so ago, with the result that I was not eligible for coverage through the Marketplace. No reason given. It was suggested I apply for Medicaid.

So I did, knowing I would be disqualified and thinking all I would need to do is go back to the Marketplace, denial in hand, and get this thing done.

Not exactly.

What I had to do was download, print and complete a multi-page form appealing the decision that I don't qualify to purchase a plan. The basis of my appeal was, simply, that I didn't know why I wasn't eligible.

So I completed the form and decided to give the government one last shot, hopefully to save some time.

I called. And spoke with Karen, who said I could either send in that appeal or she would delete my current application and help me fill out a new one.

I WAS SO FRUSTRATED I NEARLY CRIED. Right there on the phone. This would be my THIRD application process.

She explained it would take only about 20 minutes and she'd be able to tell me instantly, upon completion, if the results were different. And she was pretty confident they would be.

After all, the Affordable Care Act was written expressly for people like me: Not covered under an employer-provided plan, not covered under Medicaid and paying obscenely and ridiculously expensive premiums for a private policy.

So she asked and I answered and voila! The new result was, indeed, new. I qualify for a subsidy and all I have to do now is log back into my account, compare plans, pick one and write a check.

I'm one of the few people I know who still trusts the government. I'm not sure why the process didn't work the first time. I'm just grateful it did, and looking forward to shopping for insurance! From an insurance company! That's still going to make a profit!

I could move to Vermont, where legislation was just passed which will create a single-payer system in that state. And having Bernie Sanders for a Senator would be a nice perk, as well.

But for now I'll stay put and get my gratitude on.

Thank you, Karen, wherever you are, for your patience and understanding and confidence that this would all work out.

About that website, though …

Oh, what a relief it is …

to wake up and hear the furnace running. To see that little red digital beacon, beaming out the time. To punch a button and hear water dripping through the coffeemaker.

I'm tempted to disable those weather alerts that clutter up my phone. When they show up, I'm immediately paralyzed by indecision. Should I fill the bathtub with water, to facilitate commode flushing? Do we need two carafes of brewed coffee, or will one full one do? Are the oil lamps full (one needs a new wick, grrr)?

Pretty high up on the list lately has been this Major Question: When will we get a workout in?

It was late afternoon yesterday when the electricity came back on, the ice melted and we actually felt like venturing forth, two-legged moles blinking in the light of day. I only did a couple miles, but a couple is better than none. It was grey and dreary and foggy. I tried to get pictures, but none of them really captured the mysterious mist in the woods I passed by.

It's raining lightly now, but the alert has informed me that the rain will change to freezing rain and then to snow, with a possible accumulation of two to five inches by midday. At least it doesn't specifically say "power outages will occur," as it had over the weekend.

(I just looked out the front door. Snow has commenced.)

All the knitted toys are done. I have just two more little DIY projects to complete for the children and then I can wrap it all, thus eliminating at least part of the guest-room clutter.

The next knitting project is a variation of my Pretty Comfy Sock pattern. I'm making them knee-length and using wool instead of the cotton/elastic Fixation I designed them for. I studied many knee socks patterns before I started this project and decided to go up a needle size for a couple of repeats to accommodate a wider calf, rather than try to increase the number of stitches in that area. I'm also knitting three or four inches on one and then doing the same on the other, so they'll both get done in time to mail them to my oldest granddaughter for Christmas.

She requested them … and when teen grandchildren request hand knit accessories, grandmas say YES. It happens so rarely. Heh.

Monday, December 9, 2013

December 9 - This is the weather today

The weather today is icy. And foggy. And misty. And cold. And … winter!

I hate when that happens

Woke up at o'dark o'clock, glanced over at the digital clock and … nothing. All I saw was black. And that can mean only one thing: No electricity.

I grabbed my phone (to use as a flashlight) and got up, stepped on the scale – lost a pound, yay me! – and then went back to bed until dawn broke. Lit one of the oil lamps and sat in the den, knitting peacefully until it was fully light outside.

I've no idea when we lost power, only that it was sometime between midnight and 5:00-ish, when I first woke up. All the electronic devices began beeping and blinking about an hour ago.

I was reminded again of how much more comfortably I can endure an outage during cold weather as opposed to hot, as it was during the derecho. As the house got colder, I added more layers and was able to stay almost comfortable. I didn't for one minute worry about losing food from the freezer. The biggest hardship was that we hadn't stashed enough coffee in the Thermos before we went to bed.

We thought we'd dodged a bullet when we still had power last night.

That'll teach us!

At any rate … back-to-normal is find and dandy with me. I'm debating about taking a walk or a nap.

But first, I'm having another cup of HOT coffee.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

December 8 - I shop here

Most of my shopping this year has been done sitting on my ass
at my sweet little desk, wearing my pajamas.

Why I don't knit (very many) toys

I'm making toys for my husband's grandchildren, at their request. I don't know if they'll remember asking for them or not, but ask they did, and they chose the yarn, and on the off chance that they're waiting breathlessly for Grandma Debbi to produce the goods, I'm making good on my promise. Kids need to know that adults take them seriously.

Especially when they ask for specific toys.

I rarely knit toys. Most toys are knit in several pieces – little pieces – each of which then needs to be sewn and stuffed and attached to other pieces which have been sewn and stuffed.

I spent my Saturday (after preparing for the yet-to-arrive storm) sewing and stuffing.
Three out of four, sewn and stuffed. One dinosaur (in blue instead of green) to go. 
And watching football. (I couldn't stay awake for the end of the Ohio State game – tough end to their season, but I'm kind of glad Auburn will be playing in the national championship game.)

It took much, much longer to knit all the pieces for these critters than it did to finish them. And yet … I'd so much rather knit than sew. Or stuff.

Ah, well, it isn't about me. The boys asked for badges with their names on them (they're fascinated by the Badge-a-Minit machine), medals they can wear around their necks (they saw my half-marathon finisher medals hanging in my office) and stuffed toys. Their little sister wasn't here to ask, but she's a Hello Kitty fan and I hope she can see the resemblance.

We're getting them other things, as well. But one bag – filled with love – will have all their special requests in it. Because that's what Christmas is all about.

Links to patterns: Dinosaurs. Horse. Hello Kitty.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

December 7 - 6:00

At 6 a.m. I was warming a cup of yesterday's coffee in the microwave,
waiting for today's first pot to brew.

It's the little things

Little things like actually being able to face a bacon-and-eggs breakfast again, after a couple days with an icky tummy.

My husband and I went shopping yesterday and I could barely touch lunch while we were out. But whatever I had, it's gone now and I'm glad of it. I just took a very short walk outside and am ready to hunker down to watch football and wait for the storm.

Yes, the ice storm cometh. And it's cometh-ing from the west, as our weather usually does. If you've already experienced it, I hope your power stayed on. That's my biggest concern, especially in winter. I plan to make a big pot of beef stew and a meat loaf this afternoon, either of which could be eaten cold if necessary.

It's also the little things like fixing something that's been annoying the CRAP out of me for far, far too
long. The photo shows an antique storage cabinet we rescued from my mother-in-law's basement, a piece that used to hold first-aid supplies and equipment in her husband's doctor's office. I stuffed it with Dollar Store baskets and use it to store toiletries.

Every time I opened the door it wobbled. And every time it wobbled I would think to myself, "Self … you need to fix that." But fixing it meant sticking a piece of cardboard under the offending leg, and I didn't really want a temporary solution.

So today I took a look at the casters and realized all I had to do was rotate the too-short one, extending its length enough that it met the floor squarely.

Problem solved.

May all my obstacles be so easily overcome.

And yours, as well! What's that one little naggy thing that's bugging you? Take 10 minutes to assess the situation and, if possible, FIX IT.

I guarantee you'll be glad you did.

Friday, December 6, 2013

December 6 - Shadow

Took this a few days ago, and happy to have it,
since there will be no sun in the Middle of Nowhere today.

Life is difficult

“Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult – once we truly understand and accept it – then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.”
~ M. Scott Peck
The world lost a great man yesterday. His death wasn't unexpected. He'd been ill for some time, we all knew this was coming and, frankly, we all die.

What makes Nelson Mandela's death so bittersweet for me is how very few men and women are living now as he had lived his life.

He was a man of peace.
We are a world at war.

He was a man of conviction.
We sell our souls to the highest bidder.

He was a man of courage.
We avoid conflict.

Who is left to inspire us? Personally, I look to the Dalai Lama, to Pope Francis, to Cory Booker even.

It strikes me that all these figures, dead and alive, are men. So who are the women inspiring us today?

Well, there's Oprah. I don't watch her programs, but I love what she's done with her life and how she's influenced so many others.

When you do a Google search for "inspiring women," the names belong to entertainers and politicians. Where are our 21st-century iron-jawed angels? What women – or woman – is standing up for principles, ignoring consequences, making statements?

Who – man or woman – inspires you?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

December 5 - In the cupboard

Some of Marcia Springston Dillon's beautiful pottery.
If you're in southern WV Saturday, be sure to stop by her shop
in Forest Hill for her 30th Annual Holiday Open House!

You know that line …

in The Devil Wears Prada? This line?

Emily: Andrea, my God! You look so chic.
Andy Sachs: Oh, thanks. You look so thin.
Emily: Really? It's for Paris, I'm on this new diet. Well, I don't eat anything and when I feel like I'm about to faint I eat a cube of cheese. I'm just one stomach flu away from my goal weight.

Yeah, that line. That's kind of how I felt yesterday, which is why there were NO WORDS in this space.

I woke up early, as I usually do, but felt pretty wonky. The elders in my family often spoke of having a "sour stomach," and I knew exactly what they meant. My husband insisted on taking my temperature, and it was slightly elevated – normal for me is 97.4, it was 99.4.

I suppose if I'd had a job to go to I could have made it, but since I don't I just went back to bed.

At some point in the early afternoon I started feeling like Emily. I'd had nothing to eat since dinner on Tuesday, and only a couple sips of coffee when I first woke up yesterday. And seriously? There's not a darned thing "comforting" about paleo when you're sick.

First, meat and vegetables, unless they're baked together in a big ol' flaky pie crust, aren't all that soothing for a sick stomach. And second, YOU HAVE TO COOK THEM.

I most definitely did not feel like puttering about in the kitchen.

Instead I dumped about a dozen wheat saltines onto a plate, put a thin pat of butter on each one and went back to bed. Oh, and I also had some grapes.

At about 7 last night my legs began itching. Lower legs, calves and ankles, I nearly broke the skin scratching them. It was driving me CRAZY. My husband, feeling helpless, drove to town to get some Cortizone. Applying that and knocking myself out with a Benadryl stopped the itching. Or at least I was able to sleep through it.

All I can think is that A (saltines) = B (itching).

While I have eaten wheat a couple of times since April with no ill effects, it's always been a tiny bit and combined with other ingredients. Saltines certainly have other ingredients, but not many, and I figure I might as well have just spooned the flour right into my mouth.

Or onto my lower extremities.

I could be very wrong. The likely scenario for a contact allergic reaction is almost always a new laundry detergent, but I've been using the same stuff for years.

And I certainly wasn't doing any laundry yesterday.

I'm sticking with my theory and will stay away from saltines from now on. I've no desire to test my hypothesis by trying the experiment a second time. 

And as for the Devil Wears Prada line? The scale was waaaaaay down this morning. The unfortunate truth, however, is that such gifts don't last. A day of normal eating will erase the stomach-flu benefit and I'll be back to inching my way down to goal.

Which is better than the alternative.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

December 3 - Silver

Kiss, kiss!

About last night

I continue to be amazed and somewhat puzzled by the effect this paleo way of eating has had on my appetite.

And I'm not just talking about hunger.

I don't know about you, but my appetite begins in my head. Used to be that the weather or my mood or being with people or being alone or being mad/sad/glad alwaysalwaysalways triggered a desire to eateateat. Anything would do, but the sweeter and carbier the better.

One of my deep, dark secrets is that I used to mix up shortening, flour and sugar into a cookie dough-like glob and eat it with a spoon. That habit began when my oldest child, who is now 42, was just tiny. It had something to do with having my own kitchen, instead of playing in my mother's. But it had something to do with being a very lonely, very young mother.

Now, though – and believe me, I never expected this – as long as I stick with protein, vegetables, fat and fruit, I have NO desire for starchy carbs or sweets. I've been sticking with protein, vegetables, fat and fruit since April, and have had many opportunities to fall off the rails. The only time I've eaten off-plan was when I made a deliberate choice to do so.

Last night, for example, the buffet began with huge fluffy yeast rolls. I got my plate and utensils and walked a tiny bit further to the mixed-green salad. (There was cooked rotini in it, but it was easy enough to avoid.)

I had a piece of chicken, a tiny piece of roast beef and a couple large servings of Italian green beans, but passed on the mashed potatoes and gravy. And I didn't look twice at the variety of cakes at the end of the displayed food.

My food was delicious. It most likely wasn't pastured beef or free-range chicken, but I'm not that strict even at home. I do eat pastured, grass-fed beef, but haven't yet committed to expanding the budget to buy free-range fowl. I certainly don't expect it when I'm out.

Back to my appetite: I didn't miss a thing. I didn't feel deprived or sorry for myself or different or special or, well, anything. I noted what was available (thanking the planners silently for not choosing an Italian caterer!) and then I ate what I wanted.

No big deal.

But a HUGE deal compared to how I ate and how I approached a food free-for-all pre-paleo.

In so, so many ways, this is definitely the plan for me.

So I'm curious. Does your hunger begin in your head or your stomach? Do tell ...

Monday, December 2, 2013

December 2 - Where I stood

I stood in front of my kitchen counter filling 50 snack-sized plastic bags
with Hershey's Kisses for tonight's meeting. 

Monday. Again.

I woke up SO EARLY this morning. I've been drinking coffee and cruising my favorite web pages (which would be craftgawker, Pinterest and Facebook) since 4:30 a.m. Oh, and I also cyber-shopped for one more Christmas gift.

So it's Monday, and you both know what that means. One daily weigh-in this week was spectacular, giving me lots o'hope. That loss (last Wednesday) was gone – poof! – by Friday morning (thank you, Thanksgiving dinner!), but I did manage to shed one pound this week, for a total this year of 54.

To recap: I lost 5 in September, ZERO in October and 2.5 in November. Eleven to go. LoseIt! now predicts I'll make my goal January 23, but that's based on losing 1.5 pounds a week.

Ain't. Gonna. Happen.

And I'm not being negative, just realistic. It's December, and while the weather outside is not especially frightful this week … well, it's December, and frightful weather will most likely be happening at some point. Indoor workouts may theoretically burn more calories, but I'm less likely to do them than I am to just get outside for a walk.

Which I will be doing every day this week. Even the overnight lows are supposed to be above freezing. Every time I cut parsley from the herb garden I think it'll be the last harvest of the year, but it bounces right back after a day in the sun.

Also, it's December, and there will be events over which I have no food control.

Tonight, for instance, I'm installing officers in one of the Democratic women's groups in my district. I have a board meeting/luncheon next Sunday. A week from Wednesday my husband and I are going to an advocacy training meeting at which dinner will be provided. There's a little bit of a break and then comes a Christmas Eve open house and Christmas Day dinner (not sure if that will be here at home or at a restaurant). I'll be out of town the weekend following Christmas and then on New Year's Eve I'm making real Hoppin' John – with black-eyed peas, which will be the first legume I've consumed since April.

But I can't start the new year without Hoppin' John. Heh.

Therefore, if I lose any weight at all, given how s-l-o-w-l-y it's coming off now that I'm nearing my goal, it will undoubtedly be a Christmas miracle!

Commenting on the comments:

Gingerzingi, the "If You Give a Mouse …" stories (there are many variations) are much like the book you remember. Very entertaining way to teach kids the concept of consequences.

And Kitten, I'm really sorry I even ventured inside that Kohl's. What IF nobody went to a Black Friday? Wouldn't that be amazing? But I can't imagine it, the advertising is just too juicy and we're such good little consumers. I'm as guilty as anyone. I'd just rather consumer at my laptop in my jammies.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

December 1 - Red

Actually, to be accurate, it's scarlet.

Black Friday, the 2013 Edition

But first! Winnie commented that she enjoyed (she actually said she 'cracked up,' which might not be the same thing as 'enjoyed') listening to Bob Dylan's rendition of "Must Be Santa." That's one Dylan collection I don't have, but I do have that particular song. The music video is hysterical. And kind of weird. Without further ado or comment, I give you:

Okay, so about Black Friday. This was the second time in recent memory that I've ventured out for Black Friday deals. I frequently shop online on Black Friday, but because I was in a metropolitan area that had STORES I thought I'd try going to Kohl's for another pair of their Sonoma jeans, a brand that fits me pretty perfectly. (I'm so lame … I wasn't even doing Christmas shopping, it was me-me-me shopping.)


It wasn't this bad the last time. Seriously. (Could be that I was shopping in household goods that time, instead of clothing.) The line to check out was going to take at LEAST an hour, by my estimate. I was astonished. I had to walk past the line of waiting customers to get to the denim department. I couldn't believe how long it was.

I was going to look for a couple of blazers while I was there, but walking past all those people waiting to pay was, um, quite the deterrent. I suddenly felt a tremendous urge to get. out. of. there.

I needed to be home.

Where I could get online and go shopping. Heh.

As both of you know, I live a rather solitary life in the Middle of Nowhere. I regularly interact with people once a week at the prison and once a month at our county Democratic women's club meeting. I shop for food a couple times a month. It's not that I don't like being around people, or that I can't handle it (i.e., I don't have a crowd phobia). But it definitely makes me a little uncomfortable.

The bigger issue with this year's Black Friday experience, though, was the idea of spending all that time standing in line, doing nothing else constructive. I thought about how much closer to home I'd be if I just got in the car and started driving. So that's what I did.

Maybe I should have taken my knitting with me. But then I would have needed a backpack, because I would have been juggling jeans and yarn and needles, oh my.

This is beginning to sound like one of those "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" stories, so I'll just stop RIGHT NOW.

And wish you all a pleasant Sunday, as you gear up for CYBER MONDAY.