Saturday, August 31, 2013

Clothes and more clothes

Tell me when you're bored. Heh.

I must have donated an entire container of old clothes to Goodwill at some point. It's not where it used to be, and it has always been stored in that one spot (guest room closet). The only thing I really remember being in there was a heavy woven cotton vest that I liked to wear with a t-shirt and jeans when the weather started getting cooler. So, really, no big loss.

Of the other two containers – a box and a bag – the bag had all the way-too-small stuff.

Twenty years ago I wore a size 6. A SIX! There are three dresses and several pairs of dressy shorts in that bag to prove it. I transferred everything from the bag to the box, because the box had all the stuff I can wear now. Including two skirts I could have been wearing all summer, and five pairs of jeans. Yee-haw!

Three of those pairs of jeans are size 12, and fit perfectly. Yee-haw AGAIN! Which is weird, because everything is from long ago and far away, back when a size 12 looked like today's size 10. I wish women's clothes were sized consistently, as men's (generally) are.

At any rate, with all these new-again jeans, I have a lot less to buy for fall. I ordered three pairs of tights – black, chocolate and grey – this morning. I still need a nice long-sleeved white button-front shirt and a pair of black pants (just found a pair in that guest room closet. Size 12. FITS!) Other than that, I think I could probably dress for any occasion that comes along.

I'm making good progress with the On the Point knitted vest. I started with the back piece, and decreased for the armholes last night. I should have no trouble finishing it within a couple weeks, especially since today is OPENING DAY FOR COLLEGE FOOTBALL!

Well, technically there were a couple games Thursday evening, but WVU plays at noon today. That's a good solid three hours of knitting time.

There are so many things to love about fall. Here's my short list; what would you add?

  • Knitting
  • Football
  • Cooler weather = easier and faster walking
  • Soup!
  • Wearing hand knit sweaters and socks

Have a great weekend!

Friday, August 30, 2013

I did it, I did it, I did it!

With one day and two miles to spare, I hit my August goal of logging 150 walking/jogging miles. Yay, me!
I won't be repeating this feat in September. But I don't have to. I'm just happy I was able to hit it for August, even skipping three days due to illness.

Did I say yay, me? I think I did!

August 30 - Clutter

The clutter in our house ends up on the hearth. I guess that's better than the
dining room table. Or the kitchen counter. But still …

The picture plan

Jen wants photos of me IN the tunic. And the dress. And I promised a photo of me wearing the dress I wore for our blessing ceremony. Soon, my pretties, soon. I'm going to update the progress photos and add the wardrobe shots as soon as the scale hits the minus-50 mark.

As of this morning, that's still 4.5 pounds from now.

Also, since I don't have boots or leggings/tights, a photo of me wearing just the tunic would NOT be pretty, lemmetellya. (I'm also beginning to think flats would look better than boots. And I already have some of those. Still need tights, though.)

I follow a couple folks on Pinterest who pin the most beautiful clothing/accessory ideas. The photos come from retail websites, which I don't cruise much, since my closets already resemble retail stores, with similar items in multiple sizes. I really don't want to begin cruising retail sites, either.

Buying clothes is not something I enjoy doing. Wait. Let me back up. Trying on clothes is not something I enjoy doing. When my husband and I went shopping Monday, I really-really-really thought I could wear a size 12. (This was at JCPenney. Perhaps I could wear a size 12 at a store that sells more expensive duds. You know, vanity sizing and all.)

Well, I can't. And that was depressing. As good as I've been feeling lately, I don't need to do anything that will make me feel worse, right?

Also? I go out once a week. To a prison. It's not like I need a work wardrobe. The inmates love seeing what we volunteers wear, but I kind of feel like we shouldn't be rubbing it in that we can wear bright colors or cool styles when they show up in grey sweats and khaki work shirts week after week.

Finally, regarding the selfies, I need to do this photo shoot on a day when my husband isn't around. As I alluded to yesterday, he's beginning to question my vain-ness. If he saw me fiddling with the tripod and taking self-portraits, he'd move from the questioning stage right straight through to alarmed.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

August 29 - Lucky

Lucky dust is really purple glitter. And who doesn't like purple glitter? Heh.
This little packet of purple glitter is 18 years old, given to me when I won a
jackpot on a quarter slot machine on my first trip to Las Vegas.

Still purging …

the clothes.

I've gone through all but one dresser drawer – the only one left has pajamas, swimsuits and workout wear in it. Yesterday I tackled the closet and got through everything but the sweaters. The giveaway pile is growing, and includes the two pair of linen slacks I shrank on purpose earlier in the summer. So sad to be getting rid of them, but they truly are miles too large now.

I have two more old-clothing stashes to go through and then I can start thinking about what I'll need going forward.

This one is taupe, the other one
is chocolate. I know it looks
awful hanging like this, but it
really does look good on!
Both of you may be wondering why I'm getting rid of all these too-big clothes. Well, every time I've hung on to a larger-sized wardrobe in the past, I've grown back into it. I have no intention of doing that this time. I am, in fact, running out of time at my age, and I'd like for my current and future clothes to be smaller sizes than the ones I'm getting rid of.

Back when I was buying all this new stuff in larger sizes (when I'd resigned myself to always being obese), I found a couple knit tunic-length tops that looked great on my monitor. They didn't look so great on me, however, once they arrived, but return shipping was prohibitive, considering what I paid for the tunics. Now, though, they look terrific. And even if they are XLs, I'm keeping them. They will be the exception to the smaller-sized rule. All I need to complete the look is a pair of tights and some riding boots.

Having done a little online sleuthing for tights and boots, I'm glad the tunics were as, um, economical as they were! It seems tights or leggings can be pricey, and as difficult to fit as bras and swimwear. And boots? Ah, well, I'm on the hunt.

At any rate, I'm having fun and amusing my husband. He's beginning to get concerned about all this vanity. I've assured him it won't last. Right now, though, I feel renewed.

And worth it.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

August 28 - Corridor

Best I could do ... I described it to my walking partner as a deer corridor.

How I know summer's over

Summer technically began June 21 and lasts until September 22. Really, though? It started on Memorial Day,  just as it always has, and it ended last night. (Sometimes the Memorial Day holiday also falls on my birthday, so we could just say summer starts on the day I was born. OH YES WE COULD.)

It's August 28. Three weeks of summer remain. Why do I say it ended last night? Because I drove home from my volunteer gig at the prison in the dark. SOB!

The more birthdays I celebrate, the more I avoid nighttime driving. It wouldn't be right, though, to leave the other volunteer carrying the meeting by herself until daylight lasts beyond 8:30 p.m. (Probably wouldn't be very good for me to go that long without a meeting either.)

It won't be long before the leaves
begin to turn and fall.
So I made that drive a little more slowly and a little more carefully last night, watching for deer (there are far too many this year, many more than I ever remember) and listening to Dylan.

There are plenty of good things about summer winding down.
  • Fewer bugs.
  • Less humidity.
  • Cooler temperatures. I'm not old enough (yet) that I feel "chilly" all the time.
I'm anxious to put the vegetable garden to bed this year, as I didn't get much from it and it's pretty weedy and ugly right now. I never did finish weeding the herb bed, so that's on the fall garden chore list. (I also didn't mow yesterday – who wants to cut grass when they have a cute new 'do?) I'm even anxious to cut back the perennials, pull the weeds out of those beds and just move on with autumn.

I'm definitely NOT a fall gardener.

Cooler weather puts me in a knitting mood, too. I made a couple shopping bags this summer, but now that some of this weight has been released I want to knit for me-me-me. During the recent stash room purge I found several balls of a wool/cotton blend called Europa in a tweedy blue colorway that is slowly-but-surely becoming an On-the-Point vest. I hope it will be finished for the state Democratic women's convention next month.

And, of course, fall = FOOTBALL and football = lots of knitting time.

Seriously. What's not to love about the end of summer?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

August 27 - 10 minutes from home

Foxtails along the roadside, about halfway up the first hill of today's morning walk.

Shopping wears me OUT!

Yesterday had 24 hours in it, just like every other day of the week, but it seemed to last SO. MUCH. LONGER.

This "Young" chick ain't gettin' any younger. But I think I might have skipped the last two stops 45 pounds ago. My husband and I had a late lunch, where I was suddenly overcome with fatigue. He offered to come back another day, but seriously? We were right there, and the idea of driving all that way to go shopping AGAIN, at a later date. was less appealing than just getting it done.

So it's done. YAY!

I have two events coming up soon, both of which require dressier dresses than I already own. I have a gorgeous hand-knit (by me!) jacket that looks great with a long skinny skirt that will work for one event, but it needs to be cool that night. And here in West Virginia, there's no guarantee it's going to be cool on October 12.

The other event is the annual convention for West Virginia Federation of Democratic Women, next month. I don't remember what I wore two years ago. Probably the same thing I wore last year – a nice navy blue tee with a matching cardigan and a swishy blue-and-white skirt. It was fine, but the tee and cardigan are now at a Goodwill (or, hopefully, in someone else's closet!).

Besides, I want to wear something new.

So here it is.
Knee-length, and just the slightest bit clingy. 
Just your basic little black dress. (I was looking for something blue, but I'm glad I had an open mind.) It's very flattering and dressy and I'm hoping it will be warm enough on October 12 that I can wear it then, as well.

The best part (of course) is that it was on sale, and then it was marked down 50 percent off the sale price. Or maybe the best part was that is was a size medium instead of a large or extra-large.

Can there be two best parts?

I found a beautiful beaded-and-braided cuff bracelet and will wear black patent heels and diamond stud earrings and call it good.

The best part of today is coming right up: Time for my walk. Followed by a haircut and then I hope to mow at least part of the yard. The fun never stops here in the Middle of Nowhere.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Oops! Skipped a day!

I hope NaBloPoMo doesn't put me in timeout.

The Saturday meeting (3rd District, WV Federation of Democratic Women) went very well. We were disappointed that our Congressman and Governor declined our invitation to attend and speak, but those who did present information more than made up for their absence.

The political climate here in West Virginia has gone from true-blue to purple. And it's a kind of reddish-purple, since the Governor and our freshman Senator are widely regarded as Democrats in Name Only (DINOs). Our true-blue Senator, Jay Rockefeller, is retiring after this term. The announced Republican candidate for his seat has won her Congressional district for several years. No Democrat has come out swinging against her yet. Here's the frontrunner … but she hasn't announced.

Two of WV's three Congressional representatives are Republican. My Congressman, the only Democrat, is facing a tough, tough challenge in 2014. Tough. He's been sliding to the right of center this past year, trying to hold onto a base that has been anti-Obama (and, thus, anti-Democrat) since January 20, 2009.

The state legislature is in disarray, with the Democratic majority sliced to the thinnest of margins in the past election. My county's three Delegates are now all Republicans. Southern WV (where I live) didn't really want to secede from the Confederacy during the Civil War, and they're making sure we know it now, 150 years later.

All of this is to say that the meeting helped those of us who attended understand clearly that we have everything to lose if we don't get out the Democratic vote in 2014. I know it seems a little early to be so concerned, but believe me – it's not.

In other news … I took an eight-mile walk yesterday morning followed by a two-and-a-half mile walk in the afternoon. I hadn't planned on the afternoon walk, but a friend's horse escaped his paddock Saturday evening and didn't come back. My options were:

  1. Mow lawn
  2. Clean house
  3. Be part of the search party

We walk horses here in the
Middle of Nowhere.
A no-brainer, to be sure. I'd much rather be outdoors horse-hunting (he was found a couple miles from home, but couldn't get back on his own) than outdoors on the riding mower or indoors pushing the vacuum cleaner. Heh. Neither of those chores will be done today, either, since my husband has requested my company for a day of driver's license renewal and shopping. Again – a no-brainer.

Finally, it's Monday, and that means I stepped on the scale … and saw the same number I saw last Monday. I'm a little disappointed, because I was down a couple pounds mid-week. If the past few months' history holds true, I should have a nice drop next Monday.

This is the third time this year I've stayed the same weight from the previous week. I think I've had three small gains since April 7 (when I began the paleo plan). Generally, though, the trend has been down-down-down, and I'm within spitting distance of a 50-pound total loss.

That's HUGE. In more ways than one.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

August 25 - Culture

It's been fascinating getting to know the Amish culture over the past several years.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Big day today

I'm co-hosting a Democratic women's meeting for the 3rd District of West Virginia today. Lunch at noon, speaker and business following the meal. I have to welcome everyone and give a presentation on how social media can help our individual county clubs.

I'm also going to talk about communication. I'm not good at connecting with my local members because

  1. I don't much care for talking on the phone, and 
  2. Not all of them have e-mail addresses

My preferred method of conversation is actually texting. But I realize not everyone texts. For me, the unlimited texting package is worth every penny. And, really, it's not very many pennies at all. The funny thing is, though, I mostly text with only half a dozen people, three of which are my daughter and her children.

(I will send a 140-character text to one of the grandchildren and get a yes or no reply. They're definitely not getting their money's worth. Heh.)

We're also going to discuss increasing membership (again), a constant challenge for our county clubs. We're always on the hunt for creative ways to attract new and younger women to the fold.

All of this to say … it's time to walk NOW, since there won't be time later. Have a great Saturday, y'all!

Friday, August 23, 2013

August 23 - Yellow

I love how the yellow stripe on the road and the yellow crossroads sign also
show up in this photo. A happy accident, believe me!

I'm so awesome


We're all awesome. Just to be clear. Truly. All of us.

But I just took the screenshot of Week 6 of the Cto5K workouts and I'm telling you what:


You can see that several days elapsed from Day 2 to Day 3. Several days of travel and illness. Several days where I had NO energy. Two of which I just simply stayed in bed. And the rest of those days I could only walk. No running was possible AT ALL.

All that rest was, apparently, a good thing for running 22 straight minutes. The first two days the running intervals were broken up with short periods of walking. Yesterday was the continuous run. The app lets me know when I'm at the halfway point, so I knew I was just slightly slower than I needed to be to hit two miles. Alas, I just didn't have it in me. But .04 of a mile short is, um, pretty awesome! Yes? Yes!

In other goal-oriented news, my quest to log 150 miles this month is within sight. I absolutely have to average five miles a day for the next nine days (including today) to make it. When I was lying in bed with that sore throat I thought I'd have to let that goal go. But five miles a day? I'm on it, doggone it!

I spent most of the afternoon purging yarn. I have bags and bags and BAGS of it to donate – at least a dozen kitchen-sized trash bags. And I still have enough yarn for a lifetime of knitting. My plan to keep only enough for a couple dozen projects wasn't viable at all. If I had a sweater's worth of yarn and no sweater pattern for it, I kept it anyway (if I loved it).

It's interesting how much I loved XYZ yarn when I bought it, and how easy it was to toss (some of) it in a bag yesterday. I was feeling ruthless and efficient and determined and motivated. I hope I feel equally ruthless, efficient, determined and motivated today when I continue the purge.

So we went out last evening, and I recorded the Anderson Cooper interview with Antoinette Tuff. I haven't watched it yet, but my husband did and left a note on my desk: "You're going to love the interview."

I'm sure I will. Because … Antoinette Tuff? She's AWESOME! In fact, I think I'll go watch it now.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

August 22 - Room

Making room for the yarn that's left. These cubes need to be rebuilt before
I can fill them up again. 

The one bad thing about paleo. And then some more stuff.

Maybe there are more, I don't know. Probably there are more. But for me, after eating this way for four and a half months (I know, isn't that crazy!?!), the bad thing is this: When you're hungry – really hungry, shaky hungry, ready-to-pass-out hungry – you have to STOP WHAT YOU'RE DOING and COOK SOMETHING.

Which can be inconvenient if you're out and about.

Fortunately that kind of hunger rarely happens, but it did for me, just now. I was in the middle of emptying the dishwasher and was suddenly overcome with hunger. The dishwasher remained half emptied as I quickly threw some bacon in a skillet and got the eggs ready to scramble.

A note: There really is no "quickly" when it comes to opening a new package of bacon. With all the modern technology we enjoy and all the innovative products available, WHY can't someone develop a packaging system for bacon that doesn't involve scissors?

So. Breakfast has been cooked and eaten (and my huband finished putting the dishes away) and is currently being digested, prior to attempting to finish Week 5, Day 3 of Cto5K. It's a 22-minute run, bookended with five-minute warmup and cooldown periods.

I'll be heading for the flat road, for sure.
Yesterday I started purging yarn.

This is a painful process for me. I am, at the same time, appalled and delighted to have so. much. yarn. I decided to pick a couple dozen must-knit patterns, including some I repeat frequently (Felted Clogs, anyone? Everlasting Bagstopper?), and kit them up with appropriate yarn. I'm about half done with that process and in the meantime have filled four trash bags with yarn to donate.

One bag of washable wool or blends will go to the prison, three bags of cotton are off to the senior center. A local fiber group will be getting a generous donation of wool.

I'm not selling any yarn this time. I want it out of my house with as little effort on my part as possible. Selling yarn on Ebay is not effortless. Well, actually, putting it up for sale is pretty easy, but combining winning bids and recalculating postage is WAY too much work for the return. Mostly because when I sell on Ebay I put everything up for $1 per 50 grams. Which means it ends up selling pretty cheaply reasonably. Too little profit + too much work = lots of yarn to donate! Yay!
Finally, Antoinette Tuff is one tuff cookie. Listen to the tape of her 911 call and be AMAZED at how well she took care of herself, the children and staff at her school and – most stunning of all – the gunman. She deserves to be called awesome.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

August 21 - Slow

After four days off, I thought it best to walk instead of run today. Will get back
to the Cto5K training soon, maybe as soon as tomorrow. Today, though? Slow.

I'm okay. Really I am.

I did, however, miss a great photo opportunity yesterday, due to poor planning on my part.

The prompt was "stairs." (Here's where I get my daily prompts.)

I don't have stairs in my house. There is a small set of steps at one end of the patio. There's a flight of boring wooden stairs in the garage. When I first saw yesterday's prompt three weeks ago, I figured it would be one I'd have to skip.

So I promptly forgot the prompt. AND THEN WENT TO THE STATE CAPITOL. Which is, of course, a gorgeous architectural masterpiece full of staircases. Marble staircases. With gorgeous wooden bannisters. I guess you'll have to take my word for it, since I DIDN'T TAKE ANY PHOTOS.

Almost makes me want to go back and try again.

I did take this photo (among many others. Oh, and see all that marble? That's what the staircases were made of, too):
And here's what I have to say about it.

Our county Democratic women's club decided to have our monthly meeting yesterday at a noontime rally in the capitol building sponsored by WV Free, a non-profit dedicated to maintaining women's reproductive rights. Especially the one the U.S. Constitution upheld in Roe v. Wade.

West Virginia's newly elected Attorney General, a Republican from New Jersey who was admitted to the bar four days before he filed election papers, is attempting to shut down the two clinics in West Virginia which currently offer safe and legal abortions.

There have been NO complaints filed with the AG's office against either of these clinics.

The sign in the photo is being held by a child. That's of little consequence, really, except for the brainwashing he's receiving from ill-informed adults who actually think abortion can be abolished.

Abortions are going to happen, whether my state or your state provides a safe environment for the procedure or not. The child holding this sign is going to be frustrated for a lifetime in his quest.

One of WV's television stations used this headline to lead its readers into the story:
A screen shot from WOWK-TV's website, originally posted yesterday at about 5:30 p.m.
(To its credit, the station has changed the headline two hours later to read "Pro-choice advocates … .").

No one is PRO-abortion. All of us stark-raving liberals would agree that fewer abortions would be a good thing. The best way to reduce the number of abortions is to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies. (Not saying that all abortions are due to unwanted pregnancies. Abortion is still a medically necessary procedure for unviable pregnancies, and always will be.)

The way to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies is through education and access to birth control, which West Virginia's family planning clinics provide. Along with medically safe abortions.

If you identify yourself as pro-LIFE, you must also be:

  • Pro-Welfare
  • Pro-Medicaid
  • Pro-Social Security
  • Pro-Medicare
  • Pro-Peace
  • Pro-Gun Regulation
  • Anti-Death Penalty

If you don't believe in the social support system and you do believe that war, guns and killing criminals are good things, then really? You're just pro-BIRTH. Because all those issues support LIFE. Babies who make it from the womb to the world need safe places to LIVE. Some of them will need lifetime medical care. Some of them will need protection from abuse.

Some of them will need breakfast.

My guess is that not everyone who reads this will agree with me 100 percent. As someone who has made a 180-degree turn in my politics and my social consciousness over the past 20 years, though, you're not going to get me to change my mind.

Women in West Virginia – and in North Carolina and in Texas and in every other state in these United States of America – need access to reproductive and family planning services. And they need access to safe, legal abortions.

The alternative is not acceptable. But it is inevitable.

Monday, August 19, 2013

August 19 - Lost

45.5 pounds LOST since Christmas. Is there a lost and found for excess pounds?

The streak endeth

I don't even know how many days I walked in a row. I can access the website more easily on the laptop. I'm blogging from bed, on the tablet.

My throat started hurting Friday evening in Charlottesville, where we'd gone for our little getaway. My husband's son was spending the night with us Saturday, so we left early to have plenty of time to get ready for his visit.

By Sunday morning I couldn't talk and decided just to stay in bed. The boys took care of their own breakfasts.

I tried getting up this morning and ended up passing out and falling in the kitchen. Low blood sugar and/or pressure, probably. Throat is still sore. Slight fever. Blech.

But ... it's Monday. We all know what that means, right?

Another 3.5 down, for a total of 45.5. Not bad after three days of restaurant eating.

And now I'm going back to sleep.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

August 17 - Exercise

Found the 8-pound dumbbells under the passenger seat in the car.
Amazing what turns up on a road trip.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

August 14 - Trash

Had to make a batch of mayo before I could make the egg salad I had for breakfast.

What was I thinking?

Even though Bob Dylan sang, "Time passes slowly, here in the mountains …," sometimes time kinda gets away from me.

Last time I went to the grocery – I don't even remember what day it was, but it hasn't been very long – I stocked up on produce. That's standard operating procedure around here. We've eaten quite a bit of it, and yet here it is THE DAY BEFORE WE LEAVE FOR A THREE-DAY TRIP and the crispers are still full of peppers and lettuce and grapes, oh my.

The grapes can go in the freezer. Looks like I'll be having a salad for lunch and stir-fry for dinner. Good thing carrots keep a long time.

• • •

The visitation for Melissa was very emotional. The children have been taken back and more than likely split up, which is beyond sad. Giving them up was Melissa's decision, according to the bishop's wife. The sister I stayed with when I took Melissa and Simon to Pennsylvania actually cried on my shoulder. She said their mother died at 57, and they all thought that was young, but 37 …

Much too young.

• • •

It rained most of the day yesterday, but today is dawning sunny and cool and bright. I might find a little time to pull some weeds. I worked out on the elliptical for a while yesterday morning, and then took advantage of a short break in the weather to walk outside with my husband. We did five miles, the last of which was in the rain.

Today will be a great day to walk. A little later. After it warms up. Heh.

• • •

Not sure if I'll be posting while we're gone. I'm kind of tempted to just leave the laptop at home. But I'm also not sure that's physically or emotionally possible.

I crack myself up.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

August 13 - Fast

The battery-operated clock in the lower half of the photo is always fast.

Can't. Sleep.

Thank you for your kind words and thoughts about Melissa.

What I didn't tell you yesterday is that she and her husband were fostering four children. The youngest is one and the oldest is not quite six. I don't know what will happen to them now. The agency felt they were being well cared for. If they took them from Melissa and Simon they would have to be split up into different families, as no one else was willing to take four. So they stayed, despite the diagnosis and with a lot of help from the community.

When I was visiting Melissa Saturday, the littlest one tucked himself onto the couch beside me. He wanted a little cuddle, which I was happy to give him. I didn't see any of the other children, but there were many people in the house and I know someone was paying attention to them.

Visitation is this afternoon at four; my husband and I will go. Her funeral is tomorrow, and I think we'll stay home. Burials, to me, seem like private, family events.

It's raining here this morning, but it looks as if it will move out by around 9 a.m. I'll walk then, and plan to weed the herb bed if it's not too muddy.

The rest of our week is kind of crazy. My husband and I are going away for a couple days Thursday. We'll be home Saturday afternoon. Later on Saturday my husband's son and family are coming in for one night. I won't have time to do much before they arrive, so the major housecleaning and getting-ready-for-company will happen today and tomorrow.

There's not much to do, since we just had company. The guest room and guest bath are fine. I got the whole yard mowed yesterday. We'll probably have breakfast for dinner Saturday, since there won't be time to thaw anything from the freezer. I just need to be a little better organized before my husband and I leave.

So. Life goes on. And will certainly be a little less bright without Melissa's light in it.

Monday, August 12, 2013

August 12 - Macro (Dew drop on tomato leaf)

Placed a magnifying glass in front of the phone to get this. Should have
broken out the DSLR. I'm so spoiled, though. Had I shot with the good camera,
I would have had to put a data card into a card reader and then plugged that into
the laptop in order to transfer the image for editing. Phone cameras = so simple.

She's gone

A neighbor just stopped by to tell me that my Amish friend Melissa, who I wrote about this morning, died last night.

The Amish communities here have church every other week. It seemed odd to me to see so many buggies yesterday, when I knew that church had been the previous week. Turns out, according to the neighbor, that they all those families – 18 buggies altogether – spent their Sunday morning and a good part of the afternoon singing to Melissa.

She surely loved that.

She's up, she's down, she's up, she's down

Lost 2.5 pounds this week, for a total of 42 since Christmas. LoseIt says I'll reach my revised goal of 65 pounds on Thanksgiving Day.

I think LoseIt is a little optimistic. And more than a little ironic. Heh.

I've been feeling somewhat subdued (I always want to spell that "s-u-b-d-u-d-e") this weekend. I learned a couple weeks ago that one of my Amish neighbors is terminally ill with bladder cancer. Stage 4. She's young, not yet 40, and I've gotten to know her quite well since they've become part of our community.

I drove her and her husband to visit her family last fall. I've taken her on many shopping trips. I helped her get a doctor's appointment at our county's free health clinic, after many visits with two different chiropractors.

The Amish don't care much for modern medicine, preferring to take a more natural path to healing with vitamins and herbs. Unfortunately for my neighbor, she waited too long. She was told she had Lyme's disease, a much more plausible explanation for her symptoms. She is, after all, young, and she lives in the country, where being infected by a Lyme-disease-carrying tick seemed more likely to all who saw her.

Until it wasn't likely at all.

After spending a week in a modern hospital (which must have been a nightmare for her), she came home. There is no modern medical treatment available for her at this point. She wears a brace around her midsection and spends all of her time flat on her brittle and broken back. The community relaxed its rules a bit, allowing an inverter in her room to power a small electric fan to help keep her comfortable.

She told me she's at peace, but the members of her family and community haven't given up. They're giving her herbs and feeding her vegetables. They spritz her limbs with some kind of natural healing spray. I'm not going to discount these efforts. Who knows what might work, when combined with determination and faith?

Her name is Melissa. If you pray, could you add her name to your list?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

August 11 - I love doing this!

You both know me well enough to know I don't love walking or running in the fog.
But I do love taking pictures while I'm walking or running – in any weather!
This was at the one-mile mark of the six-mile route this morning.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

August 10 - Beverage

You don't know how much I wanted to take yet another picture of my morning
coffee for today's prompt. I forced myself to wait for another opportunity. Voila!

Yesterday turned out to be GREAT

At least the fitness portion of it. The rest of the day was fine, but I really felt super-energized for the morning workout session.

Yesterday was Week 5, Day 3 of Cto5K. My husband and I again started out together on Indian Creek Road (hereafter known as the flat road). I always record the total distance/pace using the Map My Run app on my phone. After a mile, I started the RunDouble training app and was a little surprised to find I was supposed to run 20 minutes straight, preceded and followed by five-minute warm-up and cool-down walking periods.

That means this week's training sessions were all different. I'd gotten pretty used to doing the same thing each day. Wonder what next week will bring? (I don't plan ahead. I'm more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kinda gal.)

At any rate, I'm glad we were on the flat road, because I still can't run up all the hills on the road I live on. (Making me think I should probably have a look at the upcoming workouts, to make sure I'm on an accommodating route.)

I read a little bit of the September issue of Runner's World last night, in which the editor listed a few of his own personal tips. Number one on his list was to run where it's beautiful, even if you have to drive to get there.

That's what Indian Creek Road is for me. Oh, and it's also FLAT! Heh.

Anyway. Here is last week's progress:
I'm pretty pleased. Although, I have to say, I like alternating three or four running minutes with one walking recovery minute, as I did in the 5K a couple weeks ago. But I did fine running 20 minutes straight and ended up running a LOT more during the total time we were out. See?
14:16 pace. Oh, and I don't for a minute believe I burned 950 calories. Just sayin'.
Today will be a short walk, sometime this afternoon, long enough to keep the streak going (currently at 30 days) – so at least a mile and probably two. Yoga this morning. And I'm definitely on the hunt for the 8-pound dumbbells. I found the 4-pounders, so that's a little progress.

I guess it would be even more progress if I actually PICKED THEM UP.

Friday, August 9, 2013

August 9 - 2:00

Since 2:00 only comes once a day around here, I set an alert on my phone
to remind me to get a photo this afternoon. This is seriously what I was doing –
listening to my husband read R.D. Laing poetry aloud. We're weird.

If you keep on doing what you've always done ...

you'll keep on getting what you've always got.

That's something I learned in AA, years ago, and it's worked very well for me when I remember it.

I'm thinking about it this morning because today's weather will be a repeat of yesterday's, and yesterday's SUCKED. The temperature wasn't so very awful – high 70s/low 80s – but the humidity was quite high and it rained most of the day.

My husband and I drove to the flat-road route so we could walk together and it was most unpleasant. Little gnats buzzing around, much sweating, very sluggish. We turned around before we even got to two miles. And before we got back home again it was pouring down rain.

If I don't want yesterday to repeat itself, I need to get out NOW, while it's still coolish. The humidity is an ungodly 100 percent, but I can handle that if it's only 70 degrees. More rain is headed this way, probably in less than two hours.

Therefore … see ya!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

August 8 - Peek-a-boo

Tough prompt today. This fisherman oblingingly showed up on my morning walk.

This might stir things up

Thank you all SO MUCH for your encouragement and empathy and wise words yesterday. I was on track and back to basics all day, and already feel better mentally and physically.

It's truly amazing how unclean eating affects not just my body but also my mind and emotions, particularly after an extended period of clean eating. This is all new for me. Counting calories or points or fat grams, as I have in the past, meant I could eat anything as long as it fit within the daily calorie or point or fat-gram parameters.

"Anything" included sugar-free or low-fat substitutes for real foods which had too many calories per serving to be satisfying. Think frozen desserts, processed meats, Snackwell cookies and anything that comes in a 100-calorie pack.

To be sure, I'm still counting. My current parameters are calories and carbohydrate grams. But the foods I'm choosing are as simple as they can be, and generally require a bit more prep work than opening a package.

Sometimes I have to wash a piece of fruit. Heh.

I've been thinking about this past weekend's food, especially the s'mores. They weren't that great to eat, but they were fun to make. I was a little disappointed they didn't taste better. After all, these were treats! They should be fun to make and to eat!

And then I thought:

Food doesn't have to be fun. 
And probably – for me – shouldn't be.

I have a neighbor who has said life would be so much easier if humans, like dogs, could get along on two scoops of kibble daily. Hershey doesn't turn her little nose up when faced with the same dry dog food day after day, meal after meal. She eats it and goes on with her day. She naps a lot (she's 10, after all), and she chases deer out of the yard and she loves finding a mouse or mole in the neighbor's hayfield. She'll spend a good half an hour jumping around like a kitten trying to catch one.

But I'll bet she doesn't spend a single extra doggie minute thinking, "Kibble. Again. Blech."

Many of the processed, packaged, fake foods are designed to replace real and former once-in-a-while foods. Treats have evolved – or devolved, probably – from a special-occasion indulgence to part of a daily diet. What I've learned after just four months of eating the basics – meat, vegetables and fruit – is embarrassingly elementary.

Food is fuel.

My body performs better on the basics. My metabolism works the way it's supposed to work. Apparently I'm able to turn real-food calories into energy for a daily walk or jog, but can only turn crap-food calories into fat. Eating real, unprocessed food has transformed me from someone who wished for more get-up-and-go into someone who is getting up and going.

Cooking tasty meals, tweaking recipes, baking – all have "consumed" a good part of my life. Even a good part of my identity. Food preparation was not just a matter of putting dinner on the table. It was a hobby. I've owned hundreds of cookbooks and saved binders full of clipped-from-magazine recipes.

My recipe collection is much smaller today. In addition to the diet-book purge, I took a large box of low-fat cookbooks to the library last week. I've kept the volumes that focus on the basics.

And, honestly, if I ever want a recipe for something not-so-basic, the internets are full of them.

I still want my food to taste good. But I don't spend a lot of time jazzing it up. I still enjoy an occasional treat – homemade Larabars, muffins made with almond or coconut flour. But they fit within the new parameters, and they're not part of my every-day menu.

Finally, on nearly every "diet" I've ever tried, I've learned to always be thinking about the next eating opportunity, be it snack time or one of the three squares. To my utter and complete astonishment, my day is not now focused on food. Which sets me apart, I suppose, from Grok, who spent his waking hours warding off predators and finding sustenance.

I eat when I'm hungry. Duh. I rarely ever felt hunger eating processed foods, sugar, white flour, artificial sweeteners. Hunger is not such a bad thing. I no longer carry snacks with me. I'll get some food, eventually. I'm not going to DIE if my stomach growls.

That's it, really. My new food manifesto. Nothing you haven't heard or read elsewhere, probably. New for me, though.

And – so far – it seems to be working.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

August 7 - A sign

Note the mission statement in the last sentence. Sadly, the former Reformatory
for Women (now Alderson Federal Prison Camp) mostly stresses three hots and a cot.
This is where I spend my Tuesday evenings, volunteering.


I'm writing this for me. You're welcome to read it, of course, I really love it when you read my almost-daily drivel. And I love when you write a few words and leave them here as comments. In this case, your comments are certainly welcome, but your advice isn't. Tea and sympathy, maybe. Encouragement to keep on keepin' on, CERTAINLY. But I'm not asking for advice.

I'm sorry if that sounds harsh, but hey. It's my blog and I'm setting up rules. At least for today's post. Heh.

I've been following this primal/paleo/cavewoman plan for four months, as of today. My weight loss has slowed considerably, after the initial whoosh. I weigh myself daily and I'm up 1.5 pounds already from Monday's official weigh-in.

Eating sugar and wheat (in the form of s'mores) over the weekend seems to have pushed the craving button in my brain. I'm certainly eating cleanly again, but I'm not loving it the way I did a few weeks ago.

Time to do an attitudinal about-face. And a reality check.

The bad stuff
  • Pounds are not falling off any more. In fact, pounds are coming back (albeit only a couple).
  • Cravings are kicking in (probably as a result of eating sugar).
The good stuff
  • No. More. Pain. Anywhere!
  • Lots more energy. Almost all the time!
  • Greatly increased mobility – so grateful to be able to tie those new shoes. Heh.
  • Meal-planning is MUCH simpler – pick a meat, pick a veg, dinner's DONE!
  • Smaller-sized clothes fit comfortably and look great.
  • Lots o'compliments.
Clearly the good stuff outweighs (heh) the bad, and I need to focus more on adding to that list.

The future good stuff
    • I want even smaller-sized clothes to fit. (What I really want is to go shopping, but I refuse to buy new clothes in what I hope will be interim sizes.) 
    • I want to run faster and farther without huffing and puffing. 
    • I want to do another half-marathon (and I'm putting it out there that it will be the Oak City Half in Raleigh, NC, on November 1, 2014. How's that for a long-term goal?).
    So. My plan is to go back and look at April's LoseIt logs, and eat like that again. My plan is to continue the daily walking/running streak (which began July 14 and is now up to 23 days). My plan is to keep showing up for yoga class on Saturday mornings. My plan is to find the 8-pound dumbbells. And use them.

    Time to kick it up a notch.

    One thing that concerns me is that if I keep kicking it up, I'm going to need to keep doing what I'm doing in order to maintain. Therefore, another attitudinal adjustment is in order.

    So what if I do? I actually like walking and I love running. I like yoga. While I may never like or love weight-training, I can learn to use it to reach a goal and maybe, on the way to the goal, I'll at least appreciate the value of it.

    Clearly, I'm fine with the food. And that's a good thing. And equally clearly, I understand the need for intentional activity, if not strictly for weight loss then for cardiovascular health, stress relief and mood-boosting.

    Okay, enough drivel. If you made it all the way to the end, I truly thank you. Sometimes I just need to sort things out in writing in order to make them happen for real, for real.

    Tuesday, August 6, 2013

    August 6 - This means a lot to me

    Not the ring (although it certainly does mean a lot to me) as much as
    the union it represents. How wonderful to have this prompt as my husband
    and I begin our eighth year of marriage!

    The results are in!

    Well, one of them, anyway.

    I came in 36th out of 54 total runners in the 5K I did weekend before last. Official time was 36:46, which means my pace was 5.06 mph. Blistering! Blazing! Hahaha.

    I have no idea how many runners were in the 60-to-64 age group. I'm guessing I was it.

    Obviously the organizers of this 5K have no idea how important it is to provide as much information as possible for serious participants like me. (I'm cracking myself up here.)

    I approached blaze-aliciousness yesterday during one five-minute running interval of the Cto5K program. The little voice said my pace was 10:05 – nearly 6 mph! I remember, long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away, actually running on a treadmill for half an hour at a 10-minute pace.

    Who was that woman, and is it too late to get her back?

    So yesterday was our seventh wedding anniversary and we began the day with a nice long walk along Indian Creek. I did, indeed, leave him in my dust a couple of times. I logged 7.6 miles in the same time he logged six.

    We went out for dinner. Because that's what you do when you reach a milestone like seven years of wedded bliss. I had sautéed scallops and a mixture of squash, peppers and onions, along with a salad. Left the rice on the plate and didn't even want dessert.

    If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook (and if you don't, WHY NOT?), you've already seen what a good Democrat day I had. First, THE SHOES CAME!
    My Wendy Davis shoes! The fit is perfect, and they're incredibly lightweight. LOVE THEM!
    And I also forgot I had ordered this:
    I'm not sure when or where it will get its inaugural wearing. It needs an inaugural washing first. It fits like a nightshirt – I'm hoping my previous experience with shrinking cotton will hold true here, and it will get shorter but not narrower.

    Okay, off to work (I have a couple freelance projects that need to be done TODAY). Hope y'all have as great a Tuesday as my Monday was!

    Monday, August 5, 2013

    August 5 - Early

    This little guy – and six of its friends! – were out there chattering
    at the crack of dawn this morning. I am, as always, charmed by them.

    Lots of catching up to do

    First, though, it's Monday, and we all know what that means, right? Here in the Middle of Nowhere it's weigh-in day. Sadly, I didn't make my mini-goal of weighing what I weighed when I got married seven years ago TODAY. In fact, I gained a pound.

    [Insert very sad face here.]

    I find it very difficult to blog when I have houseguests, and even though my houseguests were really yard guests – my son and granddaughter camped in our back yard over the weekend – I still didn't find time to post anything more than photos.

    So. Last week was the fourth of the Cto5K training workouts. I figured out that if the walking interval came at the bottom of a hill, I could just walk back up it and run down for the next running interval. Maybe a bit of a cheat, but OH WELL. Here are my stats:
    I felt really good about last week's training. What I really wish is that I didn't have to drive to the flat road. I'm a teensy bit uncomfortable running there alone, as it's quite a Deliverance–like setting. Except it has a road. But if I go with my husband, I'm leaving him in my dust.

    Hah! Makes me sound like Speedy Gonzalez, doesn't it? He used to be concerned about performance, but is so over it. He's very encouraging of my pursuits, though, so that's good. Maybe we'll go this morning, it's a lovely day already. Except for the almost ever-present fog.

    Saturday morning we went on what we thought was going to be not-very-challenging three-mile hike to see the Cascades, near Pembroke, VA. It turned out to be a fairly challenging four-mile hike that took three hours! (And, according to LoseIt!, burned 1139 calories.) Because I thought it wasn't going to be very difficult, and because I thought it was going to be three miles, I made sure I got up early and ran/walked three miles before we left. That made Saturday the first day this year I burned more calories than I consumed.

    We had a choice of taking an easier out-and-back trail to the falls, but we chose the more difficult (and more scenic) route out, and then looped back on the easier trail, which still wasn't especially easy since it was a constant descent. I'm glad it wasn't very scenic, since I was looking at my feet almost the entire time (trying not to trip and lose my balance).

    It was nice to have the waterfall as the halfway point, and the way the trail is carved into the landscape has you make a little turn and then it suddenly bursts into view. QUITE impressive. My granddaughter and I had made some trail mix before we left, and we all truly felt we'd earned it when we got to the falls.
    We ate lunch after the hike at a local Mexican restaurant, which was part of our plan. I was able to order grilled chicken and a small salad with guacamole. I ignored the rice and tortilla that came as sides. So far, so good.

    We wolfed down campfire-roasted hot dogs for dinner. I couldn't believe how hungry we all were. I ate one with a bun and one without, and finished off dinner with two s'mores. Total carb count for Saturday topped 300. I try to keep carbs below 100/day. Another OH WELL.

    I wish I'd lost that half-pound this week, instead of gaining one. You can't always get what you want, though, and I wouldn't have done anything differently. My plan to eschew grains/legumes/dairy and sugar does not include being on the outside looking in for family get-togethers. If we got together weekly, I would definitely feel – and eat – differently.

    Looking back, though, the s'mores probably weren't worth it.

    My granddaughter would disagree!

    Saturday, August 3, 2013

    Just a photo and a very few words

    We lit the inaugural campfire in the new firepit last night. I stayed outside later than I have since I was in high school. Heh. Had so much fun roasting marshmallows and learning what a "biscuit on a stick" is. (My son baked them, and he, my husband and my granddaughter gobbled them up! It's a canned biscuit. No big deal.)

    We're off today on a bit of a hike to a waterfall. I love having family visit ...
    I think he was about ready to go to sleep! Very relaxing first fire. Definitely not the last!

    Friday, August 2, 2013

    August 2 - Incomplete

    Yet another Everlasting Bagstopper, this one in blue, to be given as a door
    prize at a Democratic women's luncheon later this month. 

    New challenge. And a dose of gratitude.

    So I managed to walk/jog/run 130 miles in July, which helped me hit that 700-mile mark for the year. What better way to celebrate August than to go for 150? That's only 4.838 miles a day – let's just call it five, shall we?

    We'll be going on a short trip later in the month, but I'm pretty sure we'll be able to manage a couple fitness walks among the other touristy walking we plan to do. If I throw a couple six-milers in each week, that should take care of an unplanned rest day.

    But since I'm streaking (18 straight days so far), I'm not planning on having any unplanned rest days, either.

    I was sitting somewhere yesterday – can't remember if it was in the car or in a chair – and felt a little itchy right between my shoulder blades. So I scratched that spot, and then realized that was something I didn't used to be able to do. It had more to do with shoulder pain than mobility, but 40 pounds ago I had to ask for help. 

    When I get down to brass tacks, I think not wanting to ask for help – not wanting to need help – pushed me to try Whole30. I seriously did not want Velcro sneakers, but I was seriously having trouble lacing up my Brooks Adrenalines.

    Like most women my age (62), I'd like to look as young as possible for as long as possible. I've been blessed with youthful genes. Most people are surprised to learn I'm in my 60s. But more than not looking my age, I don't want to feel my age. Here in southern West Virginia, 60-year-olds use walkers and ride scooter chairs in the grocery. They tote portable oxygen tanks with them wherever they go.

    Some of the health problems in the aging population here are due to work conditions. Retired miners have lung problems, and retired loggers have been injured on the job. But far more age-related health issues are due to lifestyle.

    West Virginia's obesity rate is third in the country, behind Louisiana and Mississippi. Thanks in part to the pepperoni roll. The  gooey, doughy, cheesy West Virginia concoction came out on top this year in a national competition of favorite state snack foods. (Our local Amish neighbors have learned how to make them; only glazed donuts are a bigger seller at the bakery.)

    West Virginians smoke. A lot (we're 9th in the country).

    It's difficult for the average Joe or Jane to get out and walk, particularly in hilly, rural areas which don't have sidewalks and do have one-lane roads. 

    My mother, her mother and my father were very good examples of how I don't want to age. All were obese, all smoked, all died due in large part to health conditions which could have been prevented.

    I'm glad I've finally found a way to get and stay fit and active.

    Oh, and to scratch my own back, too.

    Thursday, August 1, 2013

    August 1 - Something beginning with N

    I had trouble coming up with a subject for this prompt. I mentioned it to my
    husband, who reminded me that I'd just made a batch of seasoned NUTS.


    Happy August! We're smack dab in the middle of the Dog Days of summer, according to Wikipedia, although the Farmer's Almanac says they run from July 3 through August 11. So we're almost done! We should be experiencing the hottest temperatures of the year now, and the least amount of rainfall.

    Not. Happening.

    But there's NO SUCH THING AS CLIMATE CHANGE. /snort/

    Mind you, I'm certainly not complaining. The cloud cover and sprinkles are keeping the heat down, thus reducing the need for air conditioning. In fact, I'd probably have the house opened up if it weren't for the humidity.

    I am getting a little weary of the morning fog, however. Day after day after day I wake up hoping for clear skies, and day after day after day I'm greeted by a thick grey mist hovering over the hayfield to the west and the mountains to the east.

    Why am I weary? Because my preference is to walk in clean, clear air, rather than the thick, moist atmosphere the fog creates. BUT: It's simply a preference. I haven't died yet, and I'm still finding photo opportunities to post on Facebook and Twitter. How many ways can you shoot a grey landscape?

    I'm learning there are many. Seven in July alone!

    Boring old black wrought iron chairs transformed! Aren't they fun?
    My son and granddaughter are visiting this weekend. They have gone camping the last couple years toward the end of summer break, and this year decided Camp McNeer was the destination. The weather earlier this week was dandy for sprucing up the campground yard. We painted some chairs, added a fire pit, and had hoped to stain the picnic table. Until it started raining. I'm thinking now we're just going to put tablecloths on the table top AND seats and call it done.

    Because we're flexible like that.

    We'll be roasting wieners and making S'mores and catching fireflies. We're going hiking to a nearby waterfall Saturday morning. The offspring will be sleeping in a tent in the yard. My husband has already declared he will never be sleeping in a tent, anywhere, and my idea of roughing it is an un-air-conditioned cocktail lounge. (That's what a friend of my dad's used to say, and I think it's the perfect definition, even for a non-drinker.)

    Weekend fun might mean not losing that half pound this week to get to my wedding weight mini-goal. Then again, a lot of the fun will be active and moving. Fun is not always about food. (In fact, I'm trying to make fun never about food – a difficult transition and definitely the subject of a future blog post.)

    As for the weight loss, I will say again that this primal/paleo way of eating is the first plan I've followed where I feel almost completely confident that I will get to both the mini-goal(s) AND the eventual, long-term, rest-of-my-life, maintainable weight.

    That's HUGE, especially coming from someone who has spent the past 50-plus years trying to get there. (I went on my first diet when I was 11.)

    And now, in order to further my progress toward said goal(s), it's time for breakfast and then … a walk in the fog.