Saturday, November 30, 2013

We've come to the end of another NaBloPoMo

Third one for me. And what started three years ago as a one-month experiment has turned into the almost-daily drivel both of you look forward to! Who woulda thunk it?

I am TOO OLD to drive to North Carolina one day and come back home the next day. What's worse is making the drive all in one day, which is what's going to happen a couple weeks from tomorrow, when we visit my husband's son and his family. But that trip will be about an hour shorter each war than Thursday/Friday's was.

Ahhh, but it was so worth it to be with BOTH my children (and my son's family) at the same time. That happens so rarely that I would do it again tomorrow if I had to. Even though I am TOO OLD.

Dinner was lovely and delicious and absolutely not on plan, except the turkey. Seriously, every side dish was sauced or sugared, but I had decided going in that I wasn't going to make a big deal out of one meal.

Russ and Jeff used to say, it doesn't matter what you eat between Christmas and New Year's, it matters what you eat between New Year's and Christmas. I adapted that philosophy to include Thanksgiving dinner. 'Cause I went right back to clean eating and whole foods the first chance I got.

Also? My husband and I don't do a lot of partying or entertaining or socializing during the holidays. We're both retired, we live in the Middle of Nowhere, we traditionally go to one open house on Christmas Eve and we save our party hosting for election season. That's just how we roll.

Which makes navigating the holiday food land mine somewhat easier.

Now that I think about it, though, I have to go to a dinner on December 2nd and a luncheon on December 8th. But here's the thing: I'm not going to be so rigid and uptight about what's on my plate that I'm going to let it ruin my peace and serenity. Thanks again, Jen, for planting that seed.

And so, another November comes to an end. Today will be full of football and knitting. I came home with requests for hand knit knee socks for my older granddaughter and for another pair of felted clogs for my daughter-in-law. (I love that she loves them so much she doesn't want any other kind of slipper!) First, though are the triplets' toy dinosaurs – nearly done – and their little sister's Hello Kitty, which won't take long.

If you played along with NaBloPoMo, congratulations for finished the month! And I hope you'll keep it up for another and another and another. Daily writing has been therapeutic and restorative for me, most of the time. Sometimes I feel a little pressure, but not often. I didn't do as well this year as I have previously, which is why some posts were just photos and captions, but hey. WHO'S COUNTING? Heh.

I hope your Thanksgiving was as wonderful as mine was. Gratitude is a daily thing for me, thanks to AA. Thanksgiving was just the whipped cream on top.

Friday, November 29, 2013

November 29 - Black

A black onyx ring, bought years and years (25, probably) ago, but just found last week!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

November 28 - I am grateful for

Loved the opportunity to share Thanksgiving dinner with both my children.
My son's wife and daughter are pictured here, as well, but blurry because
I don't like to share their images online. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing you a day full of gratitude for many, many blessings.

As for me, I'm wishing it wasn't so cold outside! Au revoir!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

November 27 - No!

It actually is kind of pretty. And it'll be gone in a couple of days. But still.
We haven't had a pre-Thanksgiving snow in many, many years.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

November 26 - Message

I'm a lark, he's an owl. He leaves notes for me about the news shows he watches
after I go to bed. I'm always entertained by his morning messages.

About that weather …

Weather map shows rain and more rain. But ice is predicted for later and snow for tomorrow.
My holiday trip begins at dawn o'clock Thanksgiving morning and I'm heading south. The forecast for two days from now is cold and sunny.

I hope it's right.

It was so cold Sunday I worked out on the elliptical. Managed to stay on for 85 minutes, which just might be a record. I waited until 3-ish yesterday to walk outdoors. It was still chilly, but I bundled up and did six miles. My outer layer was a BRIGHT gold sweatshirt, the better to deflect stray bullets.

Buck season began yesterday. The hunters can have at 'em this year. No longer are deer the cute furry little Bambis I used to catch fleeting glimpses of when I moved here 16 years ago. They are now pests, brazen and bold and not a bit shy.

There will, from the looks of that map, be no outdoor walking today. I'll have to find something fascinating to watch on television while I'm on the elliptical. Two recorded episodes of The Biggest Loser did the trick Sunday. Maybe a movie today …

It's a great day to throw a bunch of ingredients in the slow cooker and go do something else. Ellipticalling would not be my first choice of activity, but it's definitely on the to-do list. Christmas is coming, have you heard? I could probably knock a couple things off the gift list if I got the sewing machine out.

How about you? Is your shopping done? Or are you a handmade holiday kinda person? I'm a little of both, more shopping this year than in years past. I think I'm going to brave a couple stores on Black Friday as I make my way home.

Not. Looking. Forward. To. That.

Monday, November 25, 2013

November 25 - Quirky

A quirky gift for my six-year-old granddaughter, who was the last kid standing during a
recent class spelling bee. I was awarded the pin for winning my seventh-grade spelling bee. 

It's gratitude week!

Thank you, Jen, for reminding me that, yes, I have come a long way and have much to celebrate. Had I not gotten so cocky when the pounds were melting away last summer, I'd be happy as a kid in a candy store.

To use a not-so-paleo-friendly metaphor. Heh.

Because if I hadn't gotten so cocky, I'd be BELOW my original goal.

My weight was back up again this morning, 1.5 pounds: the largest weekly gain I've had all year. HOWEVER – I'm down 1.5 pounds for the month of November. After a stay-the-same October, I'll take that loss, thankyouverymuch. And I still have another week to add to that small loss. You know, the week with the biggest food day of the year in it.

Sigh.

Last Thursday, though, when I weighed myself after our trip – which was all restaurant meals, all the time – I was way down. Like less than 10 pounds from goal down.

So I'm struggling with the gratitude thing this morning. Maybe it would help if I made a list.

  • Finding a way to eat that works for me has been HUGE!
  • I've had little to no pain since April, when I eliminated grains, legumes, dairy and sugar.
  • I've had very few cravings for grains, legumes, dairy or sugar.
  • Right this second, as I'm typing, I'm watching the. most. amazing. sunrise. Gotta be grateful for Mother Nature. (We won't talk about what a red sky in the morning means.)
  • I've lost 53 pounds this year. Also HUGE!
  • My clothes fit well and are comfortable. (And I'm having lots o'fun adding to my wardrobe.)
  • I no longer spend my days in yoga pants and my evenings in pajama pants and t-shirts.
  • Bloodwork is normal. YAY!
  • I get to eat bacon every damned day, if I want to.

Seriously? Could I have it any better? I THINK NOT. Thank you, Jen, for helping a girl out of the blahs and into an attitude of gratitude. It's difficult to give myself credit for a job well done when the job isn't done yet. But I'm well on my way.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

November 24 - A word

My new favorite game.

Just wait a couple of days …

While this morning's wake-up temperature was 12 degrees, with a feels-like reading of MINUS 3, this is West Virginia, and this kind of bone-chilling cold doesn't last for days and days and days. Just day.

And that's just fine with me.

I've gotten to be somewhat addicted to my almost-daily outdoor walk. Unless I bundle WAY up, I'm gonna miss it today.

Honestly, though, I can't imagine what it would take to get me to travel any further outside than from my front door to my garage, where I can hop on a machine. I have a couple TV shows recorded; those should keep me entertained long enough to get a good workout in.

The big news today is that Faux Noise's anchors' heads are splitting over the deal with Iran to freeze its nuclear program. I swear I think they want to destroy this country and all we stand for just because Obama is black the President.

I'm not especially excited about tomorrow's weigh-in. In fact I'm not especially excited about continuing the Whole 30. I do believe I'll begin anew next year. I'm feeling somewhat down this morning, not sure why. And I know it's wrong to use food for comfort, but I do believe a pumpkin mug muffin is exactly what I need to feel better.

And … that's all I got.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

November 23 - Simplicity

Today's prompt is one of those concept words. Didn't quite nail this one.
I think the background is too fussy/noisy/distracting.

Here it comes …

The weather outside is getting frightful. It's not like it doesn't do this every year. West Virginia does have four seasons, after all. But it sure looks like today's the day to walk outside, and the rest of the week I'll be dreadmilling and ellipticalling and maybe even rowing, oh my. (If I get the rowing machine fixed. Not saying I will, but ONE NEVER KNOWS.)

I'm finally beginning to think about the holidays. Retailers have been thinking about them since Halloween, but I'm lagging a bit. And I'm less enthusiastic then I usually am. Which is to say not very. My Christmas present to me was to have been reaching my goal weight, a quest which began last December 26. It's not going to happen without some kind of Christmas miracle.

I'm happy to be where I am, though, which is more than 50 pounds lighter than a year ago at this time. Gotta keep that attitude of gratitude, always, obviously, but especially as the holidays approach.

I'm grateful to have found a way of eating that has, so far, worked to stabilize my weight and keep me feeling satisfied. I don't feel like I'm missing anything. And honestly? If I wanted to eat something off-limits, i.e., grain- or dairy- or legume- or sugar-based, it wouldn't kill me. I've been eating those foods all my life and I'm still here, 62-1/2 years later. But I'd still probably pass, because I don't want to feel bad.

I might be the biggest chicken in the paleo coop. After doing a Whole 30, you're supposed to reintroduce one of those four food groups to determine your reaction. I'm of the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" camp and have pretty much stayed the course, save for a couple of special occasions. I haven't been on a strict Whole 30 all this time, but I've been a pretty strict paleo eater since April.

And even though this post might not sound like it, I've never been happier, or sassier, in my life. I only wish I'd started sooner.

However, as my late mother used to say, "If wishes were horses, beggars would ride." Wishing things were different doesn't make them different.

But it reinforces that I need to keep on doing what I've been doing, if I want similar results.

Pretty simple.

Unlike holiday shopping. Sigh.

Friday, November 22, 2013

November 22 - Behind

Lucky shot. I held the phone up, pointed it over my shoulder and snapped.

You'll forgive me …

if I use today's post as an opportunity to pay tribute to President Kennedy on the 50th anniversary of his death.

America changed that day. We trusted government less and turned our televisions on. We who were young when it happened will not forget where we were when we heard the news. President Kennedy's assassination was our generation's 9/11. He had his faults, as humans do. But he gave us hope.

As humans do.

Our most basic common link 

is that we all inhabit this planet.

We all breathe the same air.

We all cherish our children's future.

And we are all mortal.

~ John F. Kennedy

Thursday, November 21, 2013

November 21 – I wish I had this

I'm not willing to move to Vermont, but I'd love to have Bernie Sanders as my Senator.
I stopped by his office when I was in DC a few years ago. Even though he wasn't there,
I was still thrilled to be oh-so-close! 

What was I thinking?

Planning to do a second Whole 30 in November wasn't, probably, the wisest decision I've made this year. Then again, when I planned it I didn't know I'd be traveling to a neighboring state to wait for a family friend's brain aneurysm to be surgically repaired!

In fact, I thought this same friend would be coming to visit me for a few days. Instead, she was admitted to the hospital the day before her trip to West Virginia. She's been in ICU ever since, and will be there a couple more days before spending even more time in inpatient rehab.

Her recovery since the initial incident has been remarkable, and no one was more surprised than my husband and I to be able to talk and laugh with her the same night she'd spent hours and hours and hours in surgery. We're so grateful, and so glad we made the trip.

I did okay with food while I was gone. Waiting while a friend goes through life-saving surgery puts things in perspective. The good thing is I didn't cave in to emotional eating. Removing inflammatory foods – and, I think, especially sugar – has brought some sanity to my eating patterns.

No longer do I stand in front of the pantry or refrigerator looking for something, anything to eat. If I'm hungry between meals, I'll have fruit or nuts* or a hard-boiled egg. I'm mostly not hungry unless I haven't eaten for a few hours. (Although I was hungry a lot while I was gone; that could have been an emotional response.)

I remembered to do my bodyweight routine in the hotel, but we only had time for one short walk, on  Tuesday. The scale reflected my lack of exercise this morning, sadly, but since the official weigh day isn't until Monday, I have some time to get back the loss I had last week.

I'm happy where I am. As I've written before, it's kind of hard to keep on keeping on when I feel as good as I do at this weight. However, even knowing the BMI benchmark is flawed, I still want to be at a normal number.

The best way to get there is to follow this advice:
If you keep on doing what you've always done, you'll keep on getting what you've always got.                                                         ~ W. L. Bateman
*The link is to an NBC piece referencing a Harvard University study suggesting eating nuts can help you live longer. The study included peanuts, which are technically a legume and not on the paleo plan. That said, the common denominator in all varieties of nuts is FAT. I will say again, NO ONE is more surprised than I that I've lost more than 50 pounds while consuming about 50 percent of my daily calories from fat (not all nuts, of course). Fat is not my enemy. Sugar and grains clearly are.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

November 20 - Communication

Communication with ICU nurses offered slightly better sound quality than
that of a drive-thru fast-food restaurant. The nurses gave much better service.
Lifesaving, actually, for a dear family friend.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

November 19 - Where you ate breakfast

Cheated a little on this one. Sort of. I ate breakfast in the same Comfort Inn
on both Tuesday and Wednesday, but I forgot to take a photo on Tuesday. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

November 18 - Mirror

Car is loaded, garage door is down. Let's roll. Off to Virginia for a couple days.

Another Monday …

As I predicted, I wasn't able to hold onto the magic number. But today's official weigh-in was only a half pound more than the one I saw last week. Meaning I'm 10.5 pounds from goal, 1.6 points from a normal BMI and oh-so-close to …

maintenance.

When you read blog posts written by people who've lost a lot of weight and kept it off, you get the idea that maintaining that loss is a matter of daily diligence. For them and for me, there's no done.

I've lost a significant amount of weight before. Twice before, as a matter of fact, followed by days/months/years of gaining it all back and then some. Should I ever think I'm different or special or unique in this regard, all I need to do is read a few blogs by those who have been there/done that. They're not hard to find.

Harder to find are those who've hit the magic number and stayed there. Usually they, too, have lost and gained and lost and gained. But then, somehow, they found the set of behaviors they needed to lose and NOT gain.

That's my quest. And it's not too early to begin thinking about it. Because I FOR SURE don't want to lather, rinse, repeat this year. (Although it has been pretty fun.)

I can be my own good example by framing my weight loss in terms of continuing to do a few simple-but-not-easy things, just as I do to stay sober. I've thought about treating weight loss as I do alcoholism, but always fell into the "you don't have to drink but you DO have to eat" trap.

Yes, I do have to eat. But I don't have to eat everything. And there are some things I shouldn't eat at all. This science experiment will never be over.
On that last point … I can never be grateful enough for the guidance and example of two women (they know who they are) who encouraged me to try something new without being pushy about it. They were willing to wait for me to have my own "I could have had a V-8" moment. Gingerzingi also is part of that group, with the added bonus of pointing out that, yes, actually, we are our own science experiments and it's better to embrace that idea, rather than fight it.

I was feeling pretty hopeless in October. It's only taken three lost pounds this month to give me the motivation to keep at it, and the confidence to know I can make it.

Yes, I can.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

November 17 - 5 o'clock

Two minutes early!

Birdbrained

So my husband and I were sitting in our little media TV room watching football, as you do on a Saturday afternoon, when we heard a loud BONK! at the front door.

We don't live in a nice, orderly neighborhood of houses lined up beside each with sidewalks out front. As both of you know by now, we live in the Middle of Nowhere. In order for someone to toss something at our front door, that someone would have to walk up a fairly long driveway. You can't even see our house if you're coming up our road from the east.

My husband went to investigate and found that a little bird had knocked itself out. At first we thought it was dead, but it was still breathing shallowly. I grabbed a pair of garden gloves, thinking I would move it to a safer spot (out of Hershey's range) until it was ready to fly again.

This isn't the first time a bird has crashed into our front door and survived. In fact, they've all survived, to the best of my recollection, one or two each year.

As I cupped my gloved hands around the limp little body, it suddenly sprang to life and flew into our house through the open front door! Color us surprised! It landed on the sheer curtain at one of the sliding glass doors in the living room, clinging for all it was worth.
I'm not dead. I'm just napping here on this lady's curtain ...
My husband went to find a fishing net, but returned from the garage empty-handed. Much more carefully this time, I secured it with my hands and took it back outside, where it flew off into a pine tree.

That was seriously the most exciting thing that's happened here in the MofN in quite a while. Well, not counting Thursday.

It's a yellow-bellied sapsucker. All this time I've been calling these little guys woodpeckers, but my Facebook friends ID'd it for me.

Moving on.

seriously want a piece of bread, which in paleospeak means I WANT A MUG MUFFIN. This is the last day of the second week of the second Whole 30. I didn't feel this way first time around, because I'd never had the deliciousness that is a mug muffin during the initial Whole 30.

I'm going to try reallyreallyREALLY hard to stay the course today, since tomorrow is the weekly scale date. Thursday's gift information has come and gone, as I thought it might, but I'm still below last Monday's number.
Downward is the trend I'm looking for; doesn't have to be dramatic, just down.

We travel tomorrow and will return Wednesday. Since it's the official NaBloPoMo month, I'm going to do my best to write some kind of drivel each day, even though I don't usually when I'm out of town. Time to suck it up. In more ways than one.

I DON'T NEED NO STINKING MUG MUFFIN! Heh.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

November 16 - Play

Playing with yarn. This is the beginning of the body of a dinosaur, made of six
pieces altogether, stuffed and sewn. I had all the knitting done by 8 p.m. One dino
to go, then a Hello Kitty, then the stuffing and finishing. I don't make toys very often;
the sewing together, while not difficult, is tedious. And I'd rather knit than sew!

An F- bomb(shell)

All of the excitement about Thursday's announcement regarding foreign investment in little old West Virginia was tempered – to say the least – by my Congressman being one of the 39 Democrats who voted with the GOP in the House of Representatives for the "Keep Your Crappy Insurance Plan Act of 2013."

It's not really called that. But it should be.

The bill's not going anywhere and even if it does the President will veto it.

Congressman Rahall will probably have his toughest election race ever next year (although, really, the election cycle nowadays begins on the previous Election Day, right?). Here we are, a year out, and already there are nasty, negative television ads funded by outside money targeting him because he voted for the Affordable Care Act.

After his vote for the KYCIPAof2013 yesterday, he was asked what grade he would give President Obama. His reply? "F-."

I do so wish he'd have sloughed off the question with a harmless remark and a twinkle in his eye. I've seen him do that before, many times. He's smart and he's been in Congress a long time. He could have deflected, rather than falling into the trap of criticizing his Commander in Chief.

I've seen more than a few blog posts and Facebook statuses lately bemoaning this country's decline in civility. It's so easy to whip off a nasty comment or bitter tweet. I doubt if most people writing their vile remarks (and it comes from both sides) would be willing to say such things out loud in polite company.

Then again, we don't have much polite company any more. We're all buried in our devices, with little face-to-face interaction. I'm guilty, although I try to be engaged and engaging when I'm part of a group.

It takes a bit more care to be polite, a touch of thoughtfulness to deflect nastiness. And I submit that this care and thoughtfulness is worth the effort.

That old saw about catching more flies with honey than with vinegar really works.

Or at least it used to.

Friday, November 15, 2013

November 15 - In my purse

Trust me. You don't want to see everything in my purse. Oh, and yes, I know
it's waaaaay past time to renew my DNC membership. Next year. Promise!

Yesterday was …

jam-packed with excitement.

Mostly it was WVFDW stuff, awaiting news of a big economic boost for West Virginia. We thought the announcement was happening at 10 a.m., but it ended up being pushed back to early afternoon. I was able to make some noise about it before I went for a walk with LYNNE!

My husband is my usual and customary walking partner, but it's always a treat when Lynne can get away. We talk non-stop, something that just doesn't happen with that man I live with. Heh.

I learned yesterday that a family friend will most likely be having surgery early next week, which is a huge relief, as the surgery will be life-saving and is absolutely necessary.

I began the day, as I always do, by stepping on the scale. I was shocked – SHOCKED! – to see this:
Quelle surprise!
Only 10 pounds to go. (Oh, and I bought yet another pair of new jeans, this time purple corduroy, in a size EIGHT! Woo hoo!)

This morning's number was a little higher than yesterday's, but yesterday's gave me a huge burst of confidence that maybe, just maybe, I'll be able to hit that eventual goal of minus-65. Maybe not this year, but soon.

And now you know what the terrible-awful number was last Christmas.

I also did a bit of computer maintenance yesterday and got a message that my hard drive could not be repaired. Hmmm. Everything's working fine except Time Machine (Apple's back-up utility), so I was skeptical. I did a couple magic tricks, ran the verification utility again and it said my hard drive was fine.

It was one of those moments when you just stick your fingers in your ears and go la-la-la-la-la. Which verification result is correct? I might do it again today and go for two out of three.

At any rate, all of that busy-ness accounted for my lack of a wordy post yesterday. But captioned photos count for NaBloPoMo, right? Right.

NaBloPoMo (which is short for National Blog Posting Month) has been really good for me. Writing daily (or nearly so) for more than two years has been good discipline and good therapy. I'm fortunate to have the time. And even thought the "Mo" in NaBloPoMo stands for month, it's an ongoing event, happening every month, with different themes (which I customarily ignore). But November is the big month.

Finally, this morning, this happened at the Healthcare Marketplace website:
I happened to see a random tweet suggesting that if you clear your browser cache and cookies you'll be able to create a new healthcare.gov account. I had to create a new gmail address, as well, but by golly IT WORKED!

I've now been notified that I'm not eligible and need to apply for Medicaid. After I'm denied (which I will be), I can go back to healthcare.gov and choose a plan. Plugging numbers into the subsidy calculator, I stand to save about $700 annually.

Color me HAPPY!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

November 14 - Eating

Hershey, devouring her morning kibble.

And my breakfast plate, after I devoured my morning kibble bacon and eggs.



Wednesday, November 13, 2013

November 13 - Part of me

My shadow is always a part of me, right? 

Cold weather makes me want to …


  • wear sweaters
  • dig out the wool socks
  • eat soup
  • watch football
  • KNIT!

If you're a fan of the sticks and string, you probably already receive Classic Elite's e-newsletter. If not, yesterday's had a very cute little FREE hat pattern in it that I wish I'd seen before I began making the one that's currently on my needles.

To be fair, one of the designs is simple enough to not need a pattern. I like the little visor-type brim on the other one, however, and I really appreciate that someone else took the time to figure out how to make it happen. That pattern is definitely in my queue.

FANCY!
The hat I've almost completed is a very simple slouchy beret (from the book Homespun Handknit – link goes to the revised e-book; I'm using a pattern from the original printed version) done in a glitzy black/grey/silver fiber that's almost knitting itself. I cast on Monday and will cast off today. And I only managed to complete a couple rounds on it yesterday.

It was, and is, SO cold here in southern WV that I thought I'd surely be able to wear a sweater to the prison last night. The one I wanted to wear is a wool/cashmere blend I knit years ago (I'd have to go over to the garage-office to find my records of what I weighed when that photo was taken. AND IT'S TOO COLD TO GO OUTSIDE!) The sweater much roomier now.)

I've rarely worn it. Because it makes me too hot.

And, yes, it was too hot to wear last night. I switched to a couple layers of cotton shirts and was much more comfortable. (The room where we have our AA meeting at the prison is usually very warm.) That grey sweater would be perfect for door-to-door Christmas caroling or sled-riding – two activities I haven't done since I was a child.

Nearly every AA meeting offers an opportunity to share sobriety milestones. I was happy to share mine with my group last night, and they were happy for me. And somewhat astonished that anyone could go 23 years without a drink.

I shared with them that all I've ever wanted to be was comfortable. Not physically, which is why I made the wardrobe switch last night, but emotionally. And while early sobriety was definitely uncomfortable, it was never as bad as the end of my drinking career. I liken it to the period following surgery or childbirth: right afterward the bad days outnumber the good, after which they even out and soon – sure enough – the good days outnumber the bad.

If the bad days ever start taking over the good ones again, believe me I'll do something different. My experience – and that of countless other recovering friends – has shown me how to act and react when bad things happen so that the bad days never need overtake the good ones.

Take that hat I'm knitting, for instance. It will be delivered to a female friend of the family who will soon be undergoing brain surgery to repair an aneurysm. (The sooner the better, but there are complications which necessitate a delay.) You can't have brain surgery without having your head shaved. You just can't. And having your head shaved, if you're a woman, is, well, bad.

Knitting a hat for someone facing brain surgery (or debilitating chemo treatments or just because) is what knitters do. And it's also what this alcoholic does. Not just for their comfort, but for mine.

Thanks for your kind comments yesterday. My 24th year is off to a great start.

And I hope both of you have good, good days.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

November 12 - Clouds

This cloudscape photo was pulled from a few days ago and is
probably a duplicate of a recent prompt – I didn't check.
Apologies if it is. The entire sky is one big grey cloud, and
not especially photo-worthy. Also? It's snowing!

A new accessory

You can't always get what you want.
But if you try sometimes you just might find
You get what you need.
~ The Rolling Stones

Did you notice the new little doodad I put on the blog this morning? You're forgiven if you didn't, as it doesn't look much different from what used to be there. And it certainly doesn't mean as much to you as it does to me.

Unless you're my children. Or my husband. Or anyone who must have anything to do with me in person, face-to-face, on a regular basis.

In the little box labeled ODAT, the image has a 23 on it. Yesterday it had a 22. Which means I've had another birthday, of sorts.

Another year, One Day At a Time, for a total of 23 years of not taking a drink. Today marks 8401 days of living life alcohol-free. I've gone through a divorce, changed jobs, bought and sold property, and gone to weddings (including my own!), funerals, celebrations and the grocery store without getting drunk.

And that, my friends, is a miracle.

I wrote a little bit of my story here, in case you're interested.

If life hadn't continually gotten better, year after year, believe me I'd have crawled back into a bottle by now. But it has.

Of course there are ups and downs. No life is perfect. The miracle is that through working a few simple (but not easy) steps, doing the next right thing, working with someone who has done this before, helping others who are willing to be helped and being oh-so-grateful every damned day, the ups and downs are manageable without my needing to alter my reality.

As long as I continued to drink, I had no choice about stopping. And I really did need to drink, because real life was too real. I don't know why my perception of my life was so raw and jagged and painful.

And I don't even care.

Today I'm living the best life I know how to live, and (as my late sponsor reminded me nearly daily) I'm right where I'm supposed to be.

If you think you have a problem with alcohol, I urge you to call Alcoholics Anonymous sooner rather than later. You'll find people from all walks of life who know you better than you know yourself. They will be patient and tolerant in a way no one else has been or will be for you. They will challenge you and cheer for you and help you help yourself. You will learn responsibility and service. And humility.

And if you live with someone who has a problem with alcohol, please find an Al-Anon meeting. The entire world would be a better place to live if we all went to Al-Anon.

Monday, November 11, 2013

November 11 - Memory

My oldest Dylan concert t-shirt. Every Dylan concert has been memorable!
And this makes three Dylan photos this week. Yay!

One week in

First full week of Whole 30, Part Two, is done, and my weight stayed the same. I still have 12 pounds to lose to get to my goal by the end of 2013. LoseIt! predicts it'll happen January 6. I have my doubts about that, even.

I have this little app on my phone where I can enter my weight daily. I've told it I want to lose 65 pounds by December 31. It tells me I'm 81.54% of the way to my goal, and I've used 86.72% of the allotted time. Interesting numbers, and I'd like for them to be dead even, but alas … they are what they are and it is what it is.

I've been feeling a little lethargic the last couple of days. Have slept well and for many hours, so I can't blame insomnia or restlessness. But no energy during the day. I hope that will turn around today.

Mondays can be reset buttons in so many ways.

I took yesterday off from the walking (but still managed to log about 30 miles!), and I haven't run at all in a couple weeks. I'd like to say I'm going to step up the pace today, but I don't think I'm quite up for it.

What else, what else … the triplets asked me to knit them stuffed animals for Christmas, dinosaurs for two and a horse for the other. They chose their yarn colors; I finished the horse Saturday watching WVU's heartbreaker of an overtime loss. Started one dino yesterday afternoon. They will be identical brontosauruses, since these two boys tend to scrap at each other if you give each of them something different.

Oh, and their little sister will get a knitted Hello Kitty.

That might be all the knitting I do for the holidays. Our family members all live in NC or TN – not much need for cold-weather gear.

And I could use some SMALLER sweaters. Heh.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

November 10 - Book

Trying to think outside the box.

Insert clever title here

As this week winds down, I want to provide links to the first set of featured NaBloPoMo Must-Follow Monday blogs. I've added each of them to my Feedly list and have enjoyed reading their posts.
Here's an introduction to a few of the blogs participating in NaBloPoMo this month. We chose these in particular to show the diversity of bloggers that commit to blogging monthly in November -- but remember, there are still many, many, many more to meet on the list. Go meet them, too!
Schmutzie
Elan Morgan has been publishing a new poem every day in 2013 on the Schmoetry section of her blog, Schmutzie, and this month, she's stepping up to the plate to post some prose every day, too, in her (ahem) copious spare time.
Hedonia
Sean Timberlake of Hedonia writes mostly about food, with some travel and San Francisco living thrown in. His words and pictures narrate his experience -- from inspiration to cooking; from planning a party to the conviviality that ensues. It's always informed, often witty, and sometimes even lyrical.
The Lovely Photog
LeSha posts her passions -- everything from style to business to life stories -- at The Lovely Photographer, plus, of course, lovely photography. She's going for it ALL in November -- participating in a 30 Thankful Days Instagram challenge, National Novel Writing Month, AND NaBloPoMo. Go, LeSha!
I'm Not the Nanny
Thien Kim Lam blogs her life as a Washington, DC blogger raising biracial kids at I'm Not The Nanny, covering parenting, local events, cooking and tech. Bookmark her five staples you need in your cupboard for Vietnamese recipes, and don't miss I'm Tired of Defending My Nationality; her stirring op-ed was selected as a BlogHer Voices of the Year post in 2013.
xoxoxo e
At xoxoxo e, Elisabeth Periale blogs all things pop culture (movies, music, TV) -- as well as life in general as a feminist, a parent, and a very witty person. Don't miss her really cool genealogy and found Civil War photography, and original art blog, too.
I usually read blogs from my tablet or phone. I am, apparently, touch-keyboard challenged, because I will frequently type an insightful and illuminating comment <snort> only to have the screen magically eat it as it whisks its way back to the previous screen. Very frustrating.

I'm going to make a point of reading each one today right here on the comment-friendly laptop … the laptop that has more than twice as much free space today as it did yesterday!

I got rid of many megs of duplicate photos, but haven't done any serious culling there yet. And I haven't even touched the music. I predict greatly improved performance once I get rid of all the free songs I've downloaded because I'm a cheapskate I'm frugal I wanted to expand my musical tastes. 

Yesterday's photo post of my recent lab results made me very happy. I've learned so much since I started down the paleo path, not the least of which is to keep doing what works for me. The SAD (Standard American Diet) didn't work, and hasn't worked for years. Yet every time the FDA tweaked the Food Pyramid, I thought it would. They have all those scientists and doctors working there, right?

But as Gingerzingi has frequently pointed out, we are our own science experiments. I'm still astonished, seven months into this, that
  • I am pain-free. 
  • I can maintain a significant weight loss.
  • I can (hopefully) continue to lose weight.
  • I don't crave the foods I've cut from my diet and, last but not least,
  • I can wear cheap costume jewelry!

Priorities, people, priorities.

More and more, we're learning that, no, fat really doesn't make you fat. And more and more, we're learning that refined sugar and fake fats – pumped into fat-free and processed foods to hook you into eating more to make them tastier and more shelf-stable – might ultimately be the problem.

As with most science-y things, it's complicated and there's usually no single right answer. Unless you're talking about gravity.

Gravity works.

I'm not a scientist, except in my own kitchen and dining room. FOR ME, whole foods based on a paleo plan combined with almost-daily activity have worked just fine. Quite well, as a matter of fact. And even if I never lose another pound, I'm going to keep on keepin' on. I've never felt better and I'm wearing size 10 jeans. Why wouldn't I?

Saturday, November 9, 2013

November 9 - Mine

Ta-daaaa! Labwork looks SUPER! 


Computer maintenance – sigh

So I upgraded my Mac's operating system yesterday to the new OSX 10.9 Mavericks. Honestly? I didn't even know a new OS had been announced last summer, and I really do try to stay on top of tech updates. Oopsie!

(Apple has switched their OS naming hierarchy from wild felines to California-based appellations. But when I see "Mavericks," I think of the Dallas, TX, NBA team, not a west-coast beach known for its great surfing. I had to Google to find that out.)

At any rate, everything got updated with the new system. Including the Mail application. (Turns out it was a Good Thing I waited to install the update; they issued a patch to fix Mail a couple of days ago.)

I have Mail set up to deliver my Gmail messages. Imagine my surprise when I launched Mail and ZERO new items were available to read. Y'all know how hard it is for me to keep up with my e-mail, so I was, um, a little worried. (And yes, I know I can read Gmail online. But I don't.)

Ah, but there they were, in the Archived folder. And after a couple of minutes of background maintenance, everything showed up in its proper place.

Except this:
I recently wrote to Sen. Joe Manchin (sometimesD-WV) about his lame-brained idea to delay implementation of the Affordable Care Act. And his reply, dated November 5, ended up in my Junk folder.

Which is exactly where it belongs, since he still thinks delaying is the right thing to do. I think he knows his bill is going nowhere. And honestly? I think his next move should be back to West Virginia and another run for the Governor's mansion. He did a much better job as a state leader than he's doing in the nation's Capitol.

But that's just me. (Although my husband left me one of his little overnight notes that said Bill Maher thinks Manchin is one of the three worst blue-dog Democrats in Washington. So I guess it's not just me. Heh.)

The other thing that happened is that my little Air now needs to go on a diet. I've pretty much run out of room.
I've deleted several applications that don't work under the new OS, and many-many-many duplicate photos, which just about doubled the free space. No wonder everything was soooooo slow. I'm going to upload some keepers (photos/printables/.pdfs) to Dropbox and ruthlessly edit the photos stored on the laptop. I back everything up to a portable hard drive, so there's really no reason – other than convenience – to have them taking up space.

And as soon as I get through the ACA application process, I'm going to ditch the Chrome browser, which is the number-two space hog on my machine, surpassed only by Adobe Reader.

Because if healthcare.gov didn't work on the old version of Safari (and it didn't), it sure isn't going to work on the new one.

Friday, November 8, 2013

November 8 - Someone I miss

Hah! You thought you'd get to see another photo of my sweet dad, didn't you? I pondered this prompt for a while. I've written about bloggers gone blank in the past. Laurie Perry's blog has been dormant since spring. She still tweets and occasionally posts photos on Instagram, but I sure do miss her blog. 

There are others I miss quite a bit. Big Ass Belle (first one in the left sidebar) lost her husband several months ago. She's greatly missed. And I used to love reading a blog called Act Boldly. The server can't find the domain name now.

Bloggers come and bloggers go. I lost many readers when I stopped writing at The Shrinking Knitter and switched (for personal reasons) to this blog. As some go by the wayside, new ones enter the fold.

And there's always the archives.

What's up with health insurance companies, anyway?

Have you ever heard so many people say so many bad things about a particular industry as you've heard said about health insurance companies? Maybe cable TV companies. Although according to a recent Gallup poll, these are the 10 most hated industries in America:
  1. Oil and gas
  2. Federal government
  3. Healthcare
  4. Banking
  5. Pharmaceutical makers
  6. Legal firms
  7. Real estate
  8. Electric and gas utilities
  9. Television and radio
  10. Filmmaking (seriously?)
I'm not sure if "Healthcare," in the third position, means health insurance or your family doctor. I suspect it's the former and I wish it were clearer. As for me, I love my family doctor. My health insurer?

Not so much.

If you live under an American rock OR if you live outside the U.S., you may not have heard by now that President Obama went on national television last night to apologize to the American people for suggesting over the past couple of years that if we liked our healthcare plan we could keep it.

Those who like their healthcare plans are likely to be those whose employers pay all or most of the monthly premium for a plan that actually covers both preventive and necessary services. Some of those plans are no longer going to be offered, because insurance companies are greedy for various reasons, and policyholders – mostly individuals, but also some companies – are receiving notices that, actually, they don't get to keep their plan. Because ABC Insurance Co. will no longer offer it.

I am one of those individual health insurance policyholders whose policy was cancelled. I found an alternate plan to get me through until the Affordable Care Act goes into effect. In my very humble opinion <snort!>, insurance companies ought to be the ones apologizing. My President accepts the responsibility, which is noble of him, but he didn't cancel my policy.

Aetna did.

[I posted that thought on Facebook yesterday; one commenter said "shitty" was the only word to describe Aetna. Her policy had been dropped, as well.]

Let's get back to my original point.

Suppose you're driving down the road and a deer jumps in front of your car. You didn't see it coming, and you slam on your brakes as the animal does $3500 worth of damage to your vehicle. Your auto insurance agent assures you that your policy will cover 100 percent of the repairs, with no deductible. Not because you've been a "loyal customer" or a "safe driver," but because this is how auto insurance companies do business. A deer strike is never the driver's fault, and the auto owner is not penalized (at least by Nationwide) in the event of one.

You love – or, maybe, appreciate is a better word – your car insurance company, and are happy – or at least willing – to pay the mandated premium for the peace of mind that expense provides.

What if your basement floods, as my husband's mother's did a couple years ago? We didn't know the cause of the flooding, only that we had to move everything in the basement to higher ground my guest room and remove hundreds of gallons of icky water from the area. We honestly didn't even think about calling the homeowner insurance agent, but since she's a family friend it didn't take long for her to learn what had happened. She immediately dispatched a water damage clean-up company to dry out and disinfect the basement. Not because she's a family friend, but because this is how homeowner insurance policies work.

My point being that when you pay hundreds or, in the case of my health insurance, thousands of dollars a year to an insurance company, you enter into a contract that assumes you're going to get something for your investment if and when you need it.

Health insurance companies have, until the Affordable Care Act, spent nearly ONE-FOURTH of each of your premium dollars denying your claims. They will, eventually, pay a legitimate claim, after you (or your doctor's staff) has argued about the legitimacy of the physician-ordered procedure/test/medication with an insurance company claims specialist. That argument costs money, anywhere from 19 to 24 (and sometimes as much as 30) percent of healthcare costs.

No one I know is happy with his or her health insurance plan except
  • those covered through their workplace,
  • veterans (who enjoy the socialist plan called the Veterans' Administration) and
  • Medicare recipients
Dad's name badge from the VA Clinic in
Viera, FL, with an 800-hour service pin.
If you're on Medicare, make sure your Congressman and Senators know how you feel about proposed cuts to that program (and to Social Security while you're at it).

If you're a veteran, thank you for your service. I'm the daughter of a veteran and he was so happy with his healthcare plan that he volunteered at a VA clinic until he was too ill to do so.

If you have been and will continue to be covered by an employer policy, thank your lucky stars.

Just don't get sick.

And if, like me, you're going to eventually, someday, hopefully, maybe be covered under the Affordable Care Act, thank President Obama.

Or Mitt Romney. He thought of it first.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

November 7 - Yes!

Had an appointment this morning in town, and cruised through the ladies'
department of a local discount store that never has anything for short people.
So I bought a size 10P without trying them on, thinking they'd fit
when I got these last few pounds off. Got home, tried them on and …
THEY FIT LIKE A GLOVE! Color me SHOCKED! YES!!!

Whole 30, Part Two, Day Three

As I mentioned last week, I've decided to do another Whole 30* as a kind of reset button for getting the losing of the weight started again. Just making the decision did a little good, since Monday's weigh-in was, indeed, lower than last Monday's. I'm three days into Part Two.

Jen had a good point in her comment about my plan. She said she thought I'd been doing a Whole 30 all along.

I've been following a mostly paleo plan all along. The Whole 30 is more strict: protein, vegetables, fruits and fats, with no fun stuff like coconut or almond flour or honey, which can be used for mug muffins fun stuff. The point of a Whole 30 is to kickstart your system and get back to basics.

Not losing any weight in October taught me a valuable lesson, one I won't soon forget. I CAN maintain. I don't have to yo-yo. Although, to be sure, my yo-yo history has looked more like one of those super bouncy balls: Get to my ideal goal weight and then start gaining it all back five minutes later.

Part Two is going quite well so far. I bought a different kind of bacon last time I went to the market. I've been eating Hormel's uncured, no-nitrate bacon because that was the only brand Tiny Kroger carried. I noticed last week they were stocking their own Simple Truth brand in a thick-sliced variety, so I picked up a package.

I ate the bacon on Days One and Two, but I really do prefer Hormel's thinner slices. Yesterday I made home-fried sweet potatoes topped with a poached egg. Which was pretty tasty.

Bacon-wrapped chicken tenderloin.
Not being one to waste food – especially bacon! – I'll be using the thick slices for my absolute all-time favorite dinner entrĂ©e tonight. Wrap slices of bacon around chicken tenderloin pieces, throw them in a baking dish and then into a 350° oven for about 45 minutes. Oh. My. Yum. I always make more than my husband and I will eat for dinner because the leftovers are perfect little protein snacks, as well.

I'm still walking and still doing bodyweight training, most days. I do squats and wall push-ups every day – nice to have established that habit. The days I've missed walking have been due to travel or weather, and I really have no excuse not to work out when the weather's bad, since there's an elliptical machine in the upstairs of the garage. But I will admit I've used the "too cold" or "too rainy" excuse more than a few times since I reached my 1000-mile for the year goal in September.

But you know what? It's all good. I feel great, my clothes fit well, my hip and shoulder pain rarely flare up and I'm wearing cheap jewelry. Who knew eliminating grains/sugar/dairy/legumes would clear up a lifelong metal allergy? That's been one of the best unintended consequences of this whole experiment.

P.S. I'm not going to bore you with day-by-day summaries for the remainder of the month. Maybe once a week. I needed to do this for myself today. Because I really, really, really want a pumpkin mug muffin!

*If you click through, be sure to click on the "Our Book" link and scroll down the page, where the authors have generously provided downloadable .pdf files for meal plans, shopping lists and loads of other handy resources.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

November 6 - Music

Two Dylan shots in two days! Works for me … heh.

A good day in the neighborhood

And by "neighborhood" I mean traditionally conservative Virginia, who just elected a Democrat for their next Governor.

If I drive just 14 miles south, I'm in the Commonwealth, in the reddest of the red part of the state. (Although, to be sure, the state is pretty red all over.) When I recently traveled to Blacksburg on those shopping trips, I passed way too many billboard-sized signs for Ken Cuccinelli, and far too few supporting Terry McAuliffe. And despite the good poll numbers for the Democrat, I was a little concerned.

And it looks as though I had good reason to be. The margin of victory was uncomfortably slim. What tipped the scales (you'll pardon my phraseology … this is, after all, somewhat of a weight-loss blog lately)?

Women.
Exit poll graphic from New York Times.
Virginia's current Republican governor and the candidate his party chose to replace him are front-and-center in the war on women, pushing for laws restricting reproductive rights. They cry for small government while standing at your bedroom door, making sure you're practicing the 'right' kind of intimacy. Both the governor and lieutenant governor candidates were backed by the Tea Party.

And Virginia's women sent them packing. Not with the big bang I would have liked. It looks like the vote was more against Cucinelli than for McAuliffe. But it was enough.

One of the signs I saw for McAuliffe proclaimed that "As governor, I never want another coal plant built." He's also strongly in favor of tough gun regulations. In his final debate, he said:
"Some people should not own guns." He then defended his gun control proposals, saying: "I don't care what grade I got from the NRA. [He got an "F."] I never want to see another Newtown or Aurora or Virginia Tech again."
Those are instant negatives in southwest Virginia, where God, guns and gays line up right alongside coal as hot-button issues. That McAuliffe stood by his principles says a lot for his character and conviction. Not so much for his political prowess, but WHATEVER. I love that he was honest and that it worked.

West Virginia's elected Democratic leaders aren't so gutsy. I only wish they were. Perhaps McAuliffe's example of speaking the truth and getting the votes will show Democrat candidates here in the Mountain State that there is support for more progressive positions. Congressional staffers count calls and letters; conservatives are more vocal than moderates or liberals.

Which makes me think of that John Lewis quote I had made into a t-shirt:
It's time. It's our time. Women matter and women vote. And when women vote, Democrats WIN.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

November 5 - I collect …

Bob Dylan CDs! And t-shirts, but I didn't want to get them out of the drawer for a photo opportunity.

What I wore to the J-J Dinner

Those of you who've known me a long, long time might remember a knitting workshop in Blacksburg several years ago where we learned to make a cardigan called the Carolyn Jacket. The class was taught by the designer, Carolyn White, a lovely woman from Kentucky, I think, and the jacket I made ended up being very dressy. Dressy enough to wear to the J-J Dinner. I got SO many compliments on it, and I was very happy to finally get to wear it.

The pattern was published in 2001. I've searched the interwebz for a link to buy the pattern, but have only found a photo of one other finished jacket. Which is kind of surprising, because it really is a stunning piece and the construction is ingenious.

It begins with a fabric vest-like piece, to which you add knitted sides, sleeves and button bands. The pattern includes a formula for calculating how much of each different yarn you'll need (three colors, to coordinate with the fabric) and, of course, knitting instructions. It comes together pretty quickly, since you're not knitting the back and front.

I'd originally planned to wear a short sleeveless dress with a wrap, but it really was too cold after the dinner had to be postponed. I probably could have gotten away with it, but the wrap never got finished and the jacket was just hanging there, waiting to be worn.

It never looked right when I was heavier. I think I've only previously worn it twice in all these years.

I think it will be a wardrobe staple from now on.

Welcome to those of you who are new readers from BlogHer's NaBloPoMo. I hope you'll read the archives and stick around. My posts tend to be all over the place, but this year have focused on my pursuit of a normal weight before I get too old and decrepit to move easily. I was heading in that direction last year, when I saw a terrible-awful number on the scale Christmas morning.

The numbers have been looking pretty good ever since. I've had the single-minded goal of getting this job DONE, for the last time, and I'm well on my way.

Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Wow!

Just got a tweet that said I'm one of BlogHer's featured bloggers on Must-Follow Monday! I don't know how long that link will be good – maybe just this week. Had to take a screenshot, though …



WHOOSH!

Well, maybe whoosh. One and a half pounds isn't exactly all-caps worthy. Then again, after a month of staying the same, maybe it is.
According to LoseIt, I can still reach my goal by the end of this year. I really hope starting another strict Whole 30 today will be the catalyst I need to get the last 12 pounds off by Christmas.

But if it doesn't happen until January 1, I'll be okay with that.

Can you believe it? Neither can I! But going back and reading my posts from April of this year, when I did the first strict Whole 30, gives me so much hope.

Last month was the only month this year in which my weight didn't change at all. I've recorded losses every month except March, when I had a 1.5-pound gain. And that move in the wrong direction forced me to think outside the box, to take a look at another way of doing things, to step OUT of my comfort zone.

Seeing how a paleo plan had helped others near-and-dear to me wasn't enough to get me to try it. It took complete and utter dedication to creating a calorie deficit following the Standard American Diet (SAD) and not succeeding to get me to try something new.

Was I scared? You bet. What if it didn't work? Then what? I was pretty much out of options and considering making an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon. My right hip hurt constantly, and I couldn't reach my arms up without experiencing shoulder pain. From what I'd read, though, a paleo plan isn't all about weight loss. While I began that first Whole 30 with a diet mentality, I also wanted to be free of the discomfort I'd been experiencing, and I was willing to stick with it if I found improvement.

Which I did.

It's kind of funny … physically I feel SO much better – the weight loss is a bonus. It can, of course, be argued that carrying around 50-plus fewer pounds is bound to relieve some pain. But that pain was gone after losing the first nine or 10. I wouldn't have expected that small a loss to result in that much relief. I am completely convinced that grains, especially, caused a lot of the inflammation that led to the pain I'd been living with.

I've been able to eat dairy a couple of times with no ill effects. I haven't even tried eating legumes, and I'm not sure why. I really haven't wished for hummus or black bean soup or even peanut butter. (Roasted almond butter is so much better tasting!) Sugar (headaches) and grains (joint pain) are the two things that give me trouble, particularly when they're combined.

Anyhoo … here I go again. Meat, vegetables, fruit, nuts. No coconut flour or almond meal or dark chocolate or paleo-fied treats. Back to basics.

Onward and DOWNward.