Wednesday, December 31, 2014

You can't look backward and forward at the same time.

But I'll try.

This blog covers four major areas of interest, with an occasional post/rant/photo about politics and/or social justice. Both of you already know what a blow Democrats in West Virginia took in November, so we. won't. go. there. As for the other stuff …

Knitting
I actually got a lot more knitting done in 2014 than I figured I would, it being an election year and all. I was busy, but turned out several projects, all of which ended up being gifts for grandchildren – doll sweaters, stuffed toys, a fuzzy scarf. I'm nearly finished with a scarf which will go to a friend "just because."

When I organized my yarn closet the last time, I created several kits – bags of yarn+pattern – and I'd like to get started on one of those when the scarf is finished. I gave away a couple of too-big sweaters last year and need to replenish MY wardrobe.

My granddaughter's dolls have plenty o'sweaters.

Running
As you both know, I don't run much any more. I'll pick up the pace on the downhill portion of my route once in a while, attaining speeds of up to 5 miles an hour at times! Speedy Gonzalez I'm not. I have, however, continued to walk steadily as much as the weather would allow.

My goal for 2014 was ambitious, and I missed the mark by a LOT. I'd hoped to nail 1500 miles, and yesterday made it to 1000. But I hadn't counted on a brutal winter, and I really dropped the ball during the summer.

I am, however, renewed and inspired and ready to rock walk in 2015. I like nice round numbers, so I'm going to walk two miles today to bring the total for 2013 and 2014 to 2,310 miles. My goal for 2015 will be to make the three-year total 3500, meaning I need to log 1190 miles for the coming year.

Reaping
The garden this year suffered. A lot. The deer ate what the weeds didn't smother. I just didn't have time to keep up with it, even though I cut the vegetable space by half. The mint-family herbs took over that bed and I finally just surrendered.

Next spring I'm moving the tomatoes to patio pots. The deer haven't bothered any squash in the big garden, so I'll plant plenty of summer and winter varieties, and hope to add cucumbers and onions. I might try beets again, because I love both the roots and the greens, but I will cover them with netting, in a [probably] feeble attempt to protect them from deer damage.

I'll plant herbs up close to the house and I want to convert the herb bed to a cutting garden made up of annuals, with a lilac or butterfly bush in the center of that circle. I have both planted elsewhere in our landscape and the deer haven't bothered them.

Eating
I continued with a mostly paleo plan in 2014, but definitely strayed. And paid for the straying with aching joints and low energy. I know what works for me. My success in 2013 was astonishing, and I'd like to erase 2014 from memory. I hit my lowest weight in November of 2013 and since then I've put back 30 pounds.

Which means my goal for 2015 is to get rid of those AND an additional 10. I've not followed any plan during the holidays, and have thoroughly enjoyed the treats and sweets I've chosen. But enough is enough. I plan to reach my goal using an 80/20 paleo-ish plan, a regular walking regimen, two rowing sessions per week and two weight-training sessions per week.

My attitude needs to change from "Why can't this just happen all by itself?" to "I can make this happen, one day at a time." Simple. Matter of fact. No drama.

Just do it.

And I have a new little motivator up my sleeve in my pocket to help me just do it. Santa brought a Fitbit One. I've been using it to count steps since I got it, but plan to track the daily walks/rowing sessions AND use it as a food log beginning tomorrow. Are you a Fitbit user? We could be friends – share progress, be cheerleaders for each other. Or not. It's already a pretty good cheerleader on its own.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Aaaaand … she's off!

We had a lovely day yesterday, quite busy, but lovely nonetheless. My husband's mother is pretty much housebound now, so we I catered her dinner. The whole deal – turkey and trimmings – transported from our house to hers.

My very first "real" job (other than babysitting) was working as a prep assistant for a caterer, so I know a little bit about how to manage such a task. But knowing how doesn't make it any easier.

She appreciated it very much, however, so it was worth it.

I'm leaving in an hour to visit my son and his family for a couple days, and then my husband's son and his family will be here for a couple days. The fun never stops!

Until it does. But when all the visiting and company is done and gone we've got … New Year's! And bowl games!

So, really, the fun never stops.

2015 is looking good for us already. We both feel well and are able to continue walking and appreciating what we have. We don't want a darned thing. My health insurance premium went down by a third and we each got raises (Social Security cost-of-living adjustments), so our financial health looks good, too.

I hope the end of your 2014 is a time of quiet reflection and gratitude, as it will be for us.

In a few days. HAH!


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Wishing you …

the happiest of Hanukkahs and the merriest of Christmases.

My day week is scheduled to the hilt and I know I won't have much time to pop in with updates for a few days, unless it's on the fly from my phone. But I would be remiss if I didn't thank you for another year of sticking with me through thin and thick.

My plan is to make next year another thin one. If I did it once …

In the meantime,


Monday, December 22, 2014

Making a list

The holidays here in the Middle of Nowhere are generally pretty quiet. We're going to an open house on Christmas Eve day and will spend Christmas at my mother-in-law's. We're taking dinner in to her.

I'm leaving the next day to visit my son and his family, and the day after I get home my husband's son and children are coming here.

Little gifties ready for the grandchildren. We'll light the
fireplace candles after they open presents.
Leaving me not much time to get things ready for them, so I spent yesterday cleaning the house. And while I was at it, I rearranged the living room furniture. The couch now faces the [non-working but filled with white candles] fireplace. The outside view used to be lush and green, but now that it's just brown and bare, I thought it would be nice to change things up a bit.

Nothing like adding to the workload, right?

My mother-in-law finally got specific and requested homemade candy for her gift. Here's a tip: Do NOT substitute almond milk for cow's milk when making fudge. All you get is fudge sauce. I added a bag of leftover marshmallows to the mixture and ended up with a decidedly not gift-worthy batch of very soft fudge, which my husband loved so much he ate half the pan overnight.

So today I'll be heading to Kroger for real milk, along with a couple other must-have ingredients for candy-making. I also need to pick up a package of ribs for New Year's, since I won't have time for grocery shopping before we ring in 2015.

My list is getting longer and longer as I sit here and think about what I need to have on hand before, during and after Christmas.

Twenty-five miles to go to hit 1000. I think I'm going to come up a little short. I only managed two yesterday – I was so tired after the epic cleaning project – but coming close to 1000 is better than coming close to nothing, right?

As the young folk say, it is what it is. And for what it's worth, the bottom line is January 1 – the grand do-over – can't come soon enough.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Thirty-one

In order to hit 1000 walking miles this year, I need to get 31 more done before New Year's Day. That's about three miles a day for the next week and a half. I'll be on the road for two of those days, and we're having company for another two.

So … we'll see. I'm willing to bet I come up a couple miles short. But I'm still going to try.

My husband and I started out yesterday afternoon, at what was supposed to have been the warmest hour of the day, but turned back after less than half a mile. We didn't take into account the cool wind, and neither of us had dressed warmly enough. I kept walking up and down our long driveway to get a full mile in (I'm sure I looked ridiculous, but  that's another advantage of living in the Middle of Nowhere: No one saw me!)

It's supposed to get up to 40° this afternoon, and no wind. NO EXCUSES!

In other news, the remaining handmade gifts are being completed on schedule. I finished up a couple things for my Big Bang Theory-obsessed teen-aged grandson yesterday. He's getting round business cards for Christmas, and since his birthday is in just a couple weeks I used the business card design to make a tile coaster. (I put his name/phone/email atop an image of an atom – it's pretty cool, if I do say so myself!) I ordered this shirt for his birthday and used the design to make a couple of fat notepads. It's really hard coming up with birthday ideas so soon after Christmas, but I went with a theme this year (personalized and BBT) and I think he'll be pleased.

My younger granddaughter asked for a red, floor-length hooded cape a long time ago, and I told her it would probably be a Christmas gift. She asks about it every time we talk. I worked on it yesterday, along with two itty-bitty ones for her American Girl dolls (the one she got last year from Santa and the new one she's getting this year). Another couple of hours and those should be ready to wrap.

I also started making an infinity scarf for myself – very simple seed stitch, in a gorgeous yarn made up of one strand mohair and one strand shiny ribbon. (It's Pingouin Douceur, for those who care about such details, and it's ancient. I've no idea where it came from or how long I've had it.) I needed a mindless project I could work on in the evenings. When my husband saw me knitting it last night, he said what a perfect gift that would be for his old college friend E, who's been going through some tough times lately and loves the color purple.

I don't have time to finish and mail it before Christmas, but it can be a New Year's or a sometime-in-January gift for no reason at all. A just-because-it's-perfect-for-her present.

And there's enough yarn left for another scarf. FOR ME.

The last thing on my list is to frame a photo for my mother-in-law and then find another little something for her. She has everything she needs and wants, but requested "a real gift to unwrap." Meaning not another gift certificate to her hairdresser.

I know how she feels. My husband never wraps anything, unless you count the envelope in which he puts a card and money to spend on myself. But my son and his wife always wrap their gifts for us, so I do have that little pleasure.

Figuring out something to give my husband's mother is more difficult than wrapping it, though. I need to Google "gifts for the homebound."

Thursday, December 18, 2014

My sleep number

Eight. I get eight hours of sleep nearly every night. Some times it's an hour or so more. More often it's a couple hours less. But it averages out to eight hours per night over the course of a week, generally.

HOWEVER … my eight hours usually begins at 8-ish in the evening, meaning I'm wide awake at 4 a.m. And last night things really caught up with me and I went to sleep at 6. Right after dinner. Before the news. BEFORE JEOPARDY!

And I've been awake since 2 a.m.

On the bright side, I'm cooking spaghetti squash to freeze for future use, and the rinds will be ready to dispose of when the trash truck comes later this morning. I hate when discarded food remnants sit in a trash bag for a week. Early to rise means you get things DONE.

Next on my to-do list is to wrap all the Christmas presents. I have one more thing I need to make, a sewing project, and all the gifts are stacked up on the sewing table. Soooooo, first things first: Wrap, then cut fabric, then sew.

And then I think a nap might be in order. 

We were gone all day yesterday. I'd planned to walk when we got to our destination, but it was cold and rainy and I opted to sit in a waiting room knitting instead. But temperatures will be mild for the next week, and I should get three or four four-milers in over the next few days. I'm still trying to hit the 1000-mile mark for the year. 

But I really really really need to figure out how to make my day start at 6. Instead of 2.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Let the holidays be OVER. Please.

I seem to have absolutely NO self-control this year. Not only can I not resist others' temptations (I'll spare you the descriptive food porn, just insert treat of your choice here), I am even making (and eating) some decidedly NON-paleo food items using ingredients that cause severe pain.

I guess that makes me a masochist.

My previous post was all about eating crappy-for-me food because I was cold and needed comforting. Apparently the myth of comfort food has been busted by scientists, so there goes that rationalization!

I have NO excuse for going off the deep end now. The furnace is fixed, the house is warm, we didn't break the bank, the Christmas shopping is done, the out-of-town gifts are on their way. One project remains unfinished, but there's still plenty o'time before it gets delivered in person the weekend after Christmas.

Sooooo … if Life is so Good, why am I sabotaging myself and my success?

That's a good question, I'm glad I asked.

Because it's definitely something I need to figure out.

I've a feeling getting a handle on this is going to be a one-day-at-a-time project. Or even one hour at a time.

Maybe I should make it a rule to only eat off-plan when I'm walking. Walking hurts. A lot. And the correlation between eating grains and sugar and feeling pain is unmistakeable. Self-evident. Clearly a slap upside the head.

Or, in my case, a somewhat low blow to the right hip.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Insert title here

Because I'm all out of creative ideas for titles this morning.

We're attending an open house this afternoon, at which there will be food, of course. Not the best day to begin working on my personal infrastructure, now that our home infrastructure is back on track.

I will admit to some very not-good choices the past couple weeks, which have proven to me beyond a shadow of a doubt that I'm an emotional eater.

Not everyone believes that

I AM COLD = I MUST EAT CRAP

but apparently I do. (In case you're new here, our home heating system went out on Thanksgiving and wasn't replaced until December 11.) And I really, really, really paid for it yesterday.

I walked in the early afternoon (and listened to the next-to-last episode of Serial for the first two miles). The first three miles went well. I noticed a slight twinge of pain in my right hip, but that's been going on for a long time now, and I'm 63+ years old, and who doesn't experience slight aches and pains when they hit their 60s?

But it got worse and worse and worse during the last mile. I remember thinking at the 1/4-mile-to-go point that I wasn't sure if I could make it or not. My husband was with me and offered to go get the car, but I declined, gritted my teeth and kept putting one foot in front of the other until I made it.

I took a shower, thinking the warm water might help – it didn't – after which I took some Tylenol and then I took to my bed. I got up to fix dinner a couple hours later and went back to bed right after dinner and another Tylenol.

And I woke up 11 hours later, pain-free.

The crap food I've been eating (which is only crap for ME, mind you, you may eat whatever you like) included whole-wheat sandwich buns, oatmeal with brown sugar, and pasta. In other words, gluten and grains and sugar, oh my. I don't keep much crap food in the house, but the past couple weeks have been BRUTAL and COLD, and in order to comfort myself I NEEDED carbs.

Apparently.

But I realized limping home yesterday that comforting my psyche with crap food truly does hurt my body. And when my body hurts, my psyche does, as well.

So we'll go to the open house this afternoon, a time when I don't normally eat anyway. (I try to do a three meals/no snacks routine.) If there are high-protein options, I might have a bite. If not, I'll do my very-very-very best to remember how hard it was to make it that last quarter mile yesterday.

It wouldn't hurt to remember how good it felt to wear skinny black jeans last year, either.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Today's problem

It's lovely having heat.

Now if we could just have Internet access.

Perhaps that's asking for too much.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Today's the day!

If you've been following along recently, you know our heating system has been dead for two weeks. We've been limping along with a couple of space heaters. The inside temperature this morning hovered just slightly above 50°. It's 28° outside. I wouldn't want to be the crew who will be working outside and under my house. But I can't wait for them to show up! They should be here around 9 a.m.

I've done a lot of knitting the last several days. 

Pink Kitty is done (except for the eyes). Once I sew the eyes on all four of the knitted toys, that family's gifts will be finished and ready to wrap. We never know what they'll enjoy or what they might already have. The last time we visited we took school supplies, and the boys said, "But Mom already bought us school supplies." Which, of course, I knew she would have, and what we brought them were just little crafty things to add to their already ample supply of crayons and stickers and glue sticks.

At least they requested their handmade toys … and once they're delivered they're out of my hands and off my mind!

I started a fuzzy scarf for my son's daughter yesterday and am nearly finished with it. I found several shades of pink and purple "fur" fiber, and am striping it lengthwise. It's the first time I've ever made a scarf by casting on the length instead of the width, and I'm surprised at how quickly it's working up. All garter stitch, all the time, since you can't see any pattern when using this kind of yarn.

Despite the cold weather, I've been able to walk a couple days this week. Yesterday was impossible because of rain and ice, but I figure if I'm going to be cold anyway I might as well get some exercise. And I get warmed up by the end of the first mile. Hoping to get four miles in today.

There's an outside chance I'll be able to hit 1000 miles for this year. Not nearly what I'd hoped for at the beginning of the year, but pretty respectable, nonetheless. I need to average 2.5 miles/day for the remainder of December, which sounds doable, even taking a couple days off.

And now … I think I'll find yet another movie on Netflix and finish the fuzzy scarf. I'm pretty boring lately, I know. But I'd rather be boring and warmish, watching movies in my little knitting nest, than bitching about how freaking cold it is all the time.

You're welcome. Heh.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Down the home stretch

The good thing about having no heat (installation of the new system might begin tomorrow, and we're definitely on schedule for Thursday) is that I've had lots of time to knit. I park myself in my little chair in front of my little TV in my little den with my little space heater and knit, knit, knit my little fingers to the bone.

The pink kitty (mine is solid pink, not striped like the original) – the fourth of four gifts for one set of grandchildren – is nearly done. AND IT LOOKS LIKE A KITTY! I was having doubts during the process, as it's knit all in one piece and it wasn't looking very kitty-like there for a while.

Stuffing works wonders on a shapeless piece of fabric.

All that's left to knit is the front legs. Then I need to sew button eyes on all four toys and they're DONE. (The children are 4-1/2 and 6-1/2, so no chance of swallowing buttons.)

Next up is the pink-and-purple scarf for my younger granddaughter, and I've also found a hat pattern I want to make for my grandson, whose birthday is early in January. Along with a pair of fingerless gloves and some money, I think it will make a fine gift for a young man.

Knitters with time left before Christmas morning will always find a new project to work on. Good thing I'm not baking this year. Or maybe it would be a good thing to bake this year.

At least the oven would be on and the kitchen would be warm.er.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Being there

You can gracefully decline invitations to some events. There may be certain parties you'd rather not go to, some reunions that aren't so meaningful, date nights where you'd really rather be alone.

Your daughter's law school graduation ceremony?

You want to be there. Trust me.

My daughter, the lawyer.
She takes the bar in February.
She wasn't even sure she wanted to be there, but after all was said and done, after the processional and the speeches and the, well, the pomp and circumstance of it all, she was happy to have the memories.

And so were all of us who were with her.

She graduated third in her class, and was asked to stand for special recognition with the others in the top 10 percent.

She spent four years taking classes (and tests!) at a nontraditional law school, with classmates who, like her, worked during the day, had families and friends and responsibilities outside of school. Some major MAJOR life events happened during her years of study. Events that might have derailed a woman with less energy, determination and grit.

She's truly an inspiration and a role model, not just for her children, but for all of her family and friends.

I drive between seven and eight hours when I visit my daughter and her family. I go twice a year, in January and June, and in the past have always attended performances by her children. I'm going to miss both of the recitals this year – a law-school graduation trumps a winter dance concert, and my granddaughter's high-school graduation will happen one week before spring recital.

My grandchildren have assured me they'd rather have me here for graduations than for performances.

You can gracefully decline invitations to some events. 

But you really ought to be there for others.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Brrr

And the hits just keep on coming.

We knew we needed a new compressor for the heat pump. And we need a new furnace. Because the new compressor would be incompatible with the old unit, you see. (It's more complicated than that; you'll have to trust me. Something to do with refrigerant and the ozone layer and space travel.)

The entire deal is going to cost way more than we originally thought, but we are blessed. Rainy-day funds are there for times like these, right?

In the meantime, it's cold in here. I have a borrowed space heater blowing warmish air on me but it doesn't do much good in the large room in which my desk is located. It does a great job in the den, so I think that's where I'll spend most of my day. Knitting!

Red teddy bear is done (except for eyes – all the eyes for all the toys will be sewn on at the same time). I'm now working on a pink kitty for the youngest granddaughter, after which I'll start a pink-and-purple scarf for the next-to-youngest. A special request.

She (the next-to-youngest) is the easiest of all the grandchildren to find gifts for. She appreciates everything and has so many interests. She's willing to try new things and just oozes enthusiasm.

So, yeah, when she asks for a pink-and-purple scarf, it goes on the to-do list.

Before I do anything else today, though, I'm going to fire up the oven (just saying "fire up" makes me feel warmer!) and bake a paleo apple pie. It never got done for Thanksgiving. I guess the Universe knew I would need to FIRE UP the oven a week later.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Half-full

So with the heat problem we're experiencing here in Ye Old Middle of Nowhere, you'd think – nay, you'd expect – some grumbling, right? (See yesterday's post if you're not aware of our issue.)

But that hasn't happened. In fact, the most grumbling so far has been from me, listening to the furnace run constantly, in a futile effort to keep the air warm.

Yesterday I got tired of listening to myself and adjusted the thermostat downward until the fan stopped running. The inside temperature has remained at about 60° ever since. With wool slippers and layered clothing, we're not uncomfortable at all.

My mood almost instantly changed from mumbly-grumbly to A-OK.

Granted I went to bed early, because, um, blankets! But really? I've not found anything to complain about since that constant fan noise stopped.
  • We're fortunate to have the money to have paid for that weekend service call.
  • We plan to check on our homeowner's insurance, which could possibly cover part of the replacement expense.
  • If it doesn't, the emergency fund is ready and available to handle the cost of a new compressor.
  • We have a working oven, which did a masterful job yesterday. We were quite toasty filling our bellies with food which had slow-roasted all afternoon.
  • We have a working automobile. With a heater. Which we will use today to shop for another source of auxiliary heat.
What's the common thread in all those bulleted items?

Gratitude.

And along comes science (well, Google science, anyway) to prove that I'm a happier woman because I'm looking for and listing the things I'm thankful for.

I've been doing that fairly regularly for the past 24 years – having an attitude of gratitude is a benchmark of sobriety. I'm not perfect. I still gripe and moan, and I still have wishes and wants. But finding and recognizing what I do have helps me ignore the things I don't.

Pretty soon I'm going to mix up a batch of paleo pumpkin muffins. I'll pop them in my working oven and you can bet I'll be grateful when I eat them for breakfast!

What are you thankful for? And, especially in the face of trials and tribulations and challenges … what's on your gratitude list?

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Even when it's unseasonably warm …

it's cold.

I came home from my trip to NC to find a broken heat pump. It's not 100 percent broken – the fan blows air – but after a very expensive weekend visit from a technician, we learned we need a new compressor. The original one has somehow become grounded, rendering it useless for warming the air coming into the house.

I know NOTHING about heat pumps, other than what I've learned from Google this weekend.

What I do know is that it will be several days before a new compressor can be installed, it's going to cost lots o'bucks, and it's cold. Even the slightly warmer-than-normal outdoor temperatures aren't warm.

So we're wearing wool socks and multiple layers and huddling in the TV room with the door closed and a space heater running full-blast.

Our next electric bill will be astronomical.

The Emergency Heat setting on the heat pump doesn't provide any heat, again because of the compressor. I think. Without that critical component, we're stuck with the unit sucking outside air in and pushing it, barely warmed, throughout the house.

I'll be using the oven today. Roasting a turkey, since my husband stayed home for the holiday and he likes turkey and I picked up a fresh one that needs to be roasted. I'll probably make crackers and pumpkin muffins, too. And I'll roast a mixture of beets, sweet potatoes and carrots, using this recipe (but not as many vegetables) for a side dish with our turkey.

I should probably bake a pie, too. Just to keep the oven going.

I might be tempting fate, though. It would be just our luck for the oven to break during the bake-a-thon.

•••

For Denise and Gingerzingi, who have been commenting about the Ferguson issue, I haven't read the testimony yet. I have read some commentary about the case, and my conclusion is that the prosecutor should have recused himself (due to his close ties with law enforcement and being chairman of the board of a group that raised $400K for Wilson's defense), and a special prosecutor should have been appointed.

Something about the whole thing smells funny.

•••

Finally, if you haven't started listening to the podcast Serial, you're missing something unique and fascinating. I got all caught up on my trip and can't wait for the next episode.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

As you gather together

Whether you'll be spending your Thanksgiving with friends, family or all alone (which is sometimes a delicious option), I hope your heart is filled with gratitude for your blessings, great or small.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

When I feel as I do this morning …

it's probably better to keep my thoughts to myself.

But THAT ain't happening! Heh.

I expected there would be no indictment against the Ferguson police officer who killed Michael Brown. I haven't looked at the evidence, and I didn't hear the witnesses. I can't say whether the grand jury decision is good or bad. It just is.

What I'm left with – and what I started with, once the facts began to come out – is why that officer had to kill that child. Why was deadly force necessary?

I'll grant you that the young man wasn't a fine, upstanding citizen. He wasn't helping the Little Sisters of the Poor. He'd just shoplifted cigars (and not even especially good ones) from a convenience store. He apparently tussled with the officer. He was a big guy, while the officer was of average build.

But who are we, when it's acceptable to kill someone for shoplifting?

Yes, that's simplifying it. But to me, that's the essence of it.

My opinion – and I'm entitled to it – is that the officer overreacted in the worst possible way. A dozen shots weren't necessary. Gunshot wounds are largely survivable if they don't penetrate the head or the heart. Disabling the criminal would have been sufficient.

That child didn't have to die.

I'm not a law enforcement professional. I've shot a gun, but only in target practice, not in a dangerous situation. The only thing I can do with this is accept that the officer felt his life was threatened and he reacted instinctively.

That's tough for me to do. We don't kill shoplifters.

But in this case, I guess we do.

Monday, November 24, 2014

You know what they say

I'm going to go out on a limb here, and write about something that might make that old saying – "be careful what you wish for" – happen in a bad way.

Because that's usually how "be careful what you wish for" happens.

Here's what I'd like. I'd like for food to be not so important, not so enticing, not so alluring.

And you know the only people who aren't interested in food are, um, sick.

I don't want to be sick.

I just don't want to think about food all the damned time.

My meals are pretty simple and largely the same: some kind of vegetable soup or stew with protein for dinner, bacon and eggs for breakfast, dinner leftovers for lunch. I try not to snack, but if I do it's a Larabar, either homemade or purchased. (The seasonal Gingerbread ones are delicious.)

See? Right there. I'm recommending food to you. Alluring food. Tastyyummymmmmmmmmmmgood food.

Cats have the reputation of being picky eaters. I know some people who go through brand after brand of feline concoctions, trying to find something poor little Tabby will eat. Dr. Google returns tens of thousands of websites offering advice on how to get your picky kitty to eat.

When, in fact, sleek and muscular Tabby is doing just fine.

I want to be sleek and muscular Tabby, turning my nose up at the occasional meal and picking at the rest.

Instead – and especially at breakfast – I DIG IN! I do love my bacon and eggs, which I frequently make as a cheese-free omelette filled with salsa and chopped avocados.

I'm never as excited about lunch or dinner as I am about breakfast. But I never miss a meal and I wake up planning dinner.

So there you go, Universe. I've put it out there.

  • I want food to NOT be on my radar. 
  • I want to be as excited about making crafty messes as I am about making breakfast.
  • I want to be a cat.

Friday, November 21, 2014

It's a date!

My husband and I are taking care of some business in town this morning and then heading to Christiansburg, VA, to browse, shop, eat out and spend some time with each other.

For a change.

He wasn't nearly as enthusiastic about the recent election as I was, and I was pretty busy, pretty much all the time. So when he suggested a couple days ago that we take Friday to spend together, I was all about it. We're both looking forward to picking up some holiday gifts and even shopping for ourselves.

What do we need? Not much, really. We're not really into acquiring more stuff. But we sure do need a day away from the house, where we tend to go our own ways and only really sit down together for dinner and, later, Jeopardy.

Last night instead of questions-and-answers, we watched college football (WVU lost, but not by much, and really should have won) with a short break for the President's speech on immigration.

To me, the plan seems fair and balanced, to borrow a phrase from one of the cable news networks which is decidedly not so. To that news network … it seemed like they had their remarks written before the speech was even given. I wasn't sure they even read it or listened to it.

What it comes down to is this: Until President Obama turns white, the Tea Party and Fox News aren't going to agree with anything he says. A popular meme on Facebook posits that if President Obama cured cancer, Fox News would accuse him of putting doctors out of work.

That about sums up the sad state of American politics today.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Wow.

I just checked my workout log and I haven't walked in a week. Last time I was out was November 12. It's been a long, long time since I've been this lazy.

Except I've not really been lazy. It's been too cold – bitterly cold – to walk, and the idea of sitting in a cold, dark garage to use the rowing machine isn't all that appealing either.

I know, I know. Mind over matter, at least in the case of the rower.

I'm somewhat surprised to see the number on the scale inching downward, despite my lack of intentional activity. I've been sticking like glue to the paleo plan, and eating only when I'm hungry. And sometimes I'm really hungry, which my husband says is a sign of good health.

Also food tastes better when you're hungry.

The knitting continues, and I find myself cruising through Pinterest looking for sweater patterns. It's not like I don't have a ton of them already. And it's not like I couldn't swatch for gauge and start knitting a sweater without a pattern. I've done that before.

In fact, one of my favorite hand knit sweaters started out like that. I used a boucl√© yarn that was part wool but still machine-washable and -dryable. Eventually it pilled so badly that I had to toss it. I loved that sweater, though.

It was a top-down construction with a little funnel neckline. The sleeves ballooned out just before the cuff and it was tunic-length. I used Barbara Walker's excellent book Knitting from the Top as a jumping-off point.

I think I've just settled on my next project.

I'm pretty sure there's some suitable yarn in the stash.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Thank goodness for football

I'm not much of a TV watcher. I like The Newsroom, Season 3 of which HBO began broadcasting last Sunday. (I haven't watched last night's episode yet, but as soon as I get done here – that's the plan.) I also like House of Cards, which drops on Netflix in February, I do believe.

And I watch football. If it weren't for football, NO knitting would be getting done. As it is, darned little is getting done, but I'm on track to get the four toys for one set of grandchildren done.

These are the toys they asked for in August, I think? And they thought I'd be able to sit down and whip them out in an evening, while they slept. HAH!

The second of the four toys is done (except for sewing on button eyes). I used this pattern for Mr. Whale, but blue yarn at my grandson's request.

I'm nearly done knitting the pieces for this teddy bear, but in red and with the addition of a red bow tie. These kids have wonderful imaginations. I hope the finished projects live up to their expectations.

The first project, a turtle, is finished. I'm on the hunt for a pattern for a knitted kitty. But not a Hello Kitty, because I've already given the littlest granddaughter one of those. So a different kitty. Sigh.

At any rate, thank you, Newsroom, NCAA and NFL for giving me something entertaining to watch while I knit my fingers to the bone.

Also, you can't eat and knit at the same time. So there's that.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Oh, the weather outside's been frightful

I've hardly left my house the past few days. It's been bitterly cold, unusually cold for November in southern West Virginia. Friday was, in fact, a pajama day – I didn't even get dressed, the whole. damned. day.

We went out yesterday afternoon, to a funeral service, and then returned home to hunker down and watch football. Too cold – still – to walk.

I felt a little sorry for myself yesterday morning, as I saw that three of my Facebook friends were running the Richmond (VA) half-marathon. I remember doing that race. A long time ago. In another lifetime. But I'm happy for all of them. They all finished and one had a PR. So YAY for her!

I'm also feeling sorry for myself because of the weight I've gained this year. I was the thinnest I've been in years last year at Thanksgiving. The weight has been coming back on all. year. long. I haven't been 100 percent faithful to the paleo plan. Nor even 80 percent, clearly. The holidays are fast approaching and I wonder if I should begin anew TODAY or just wait until January, when I will surely have even more weight to lose.

So discouraged.

Of course I'm beginning today. I'm too uncomfortable to wait.

My previous daily walking minimum of five miles has, this year, been cut to four. I quit walking on Indian Creek Road after the same dog bit me twice, and have been doing a two-mile out-and-back route on my road. That last half-mile – the one that would get me to five total miles – is a steep uphill climb and I just haven't wanted to tackle it.

But the weather has warmed up considerably – it's 33 this morning; yesterday it was 19 at this time – and I'll be walking alone, so today's the day to start doing five-milers again.

You can't increase your food consumption AND decrease your exercise at the same time and not expect to gain weight. You just can't.

So. Here I go. Again. I promise I won't bore you with all the gory details. You've heard it all before. But I DO promise that when I get back to where I was a year ago, you'll be the first to know.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

24 and so much more

So. Happy anniversary to me.
This perfectly captures how I feel today.

Today marks 24 years of continuous sobriety, 24 years of living life on life's terms, 24 years that I haven't (thanks to Alcoholics Anonymous) used alcohol or drugs to alter my reality or mask my feelings.

Those of you who know me up close and personal can attest to the fact that my feelings are, um, pretty much right up front. HAH! I know at least one person who'd love it if I would stuff them every once in a while. (No, he wouldn't. Not really.)

If you don't know my story, you can read the 16-year version of it here. What's happened in the eight years since?

I still live in the same house, I have the same dog, and I'm living with the same person. In fact I'd married that person just a few months before my 16th AA anniversary. I've now lived in the same house with the same person and had the same dog for a longer stretch than at any other time in my entire life. People, places, things and dogs used to fall by the wayside when life got sticky. My MO was to run away – from husbands, jobs, homes, family, friends.

But I was always right there with me, and it wasn't until I quit drinking that I could quit running.

Or start, actually.

Running – the sport – is something I've picked up and a-l-m-o-s-t put away in the past eight years. I've run three half-marathons, the Army 10-Miler, a four-mile race and a 5K. I'd like to run again, but at my age maybe walking is better. But maybe not. I haven't crossed a marathon off my bucket list, and I still want to run up the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum, √° la Rocky.

I'm still taking an AA meeting to a nearby women's prison, and still marveling that having that meeting serve fewer women than it used to has made it more effective. The meeting is a highlight of my week, every week, and no matter how I feel driving to the prison, I always always ALWAYS feel better on the way home.

There was a little package in the mail Monday, an anniversary card and gift from a woman whose running blog I began reading in 2006 (I think). Our relationship began with running advice and inspiration, but guess what? She's been sober seven years now. (And has lived in the same place with the same dog all that time, and just celebrated her first wedding anniversary!) Her very thoughtful gift means so much to me, but her life and her friendship mean ever so much more.

What's new in the past eight years? I have five new grandchildren, who are now seven, six (triplets) and four. My daughter is about to graduate from law school. My son has been promoted to a new and important position at his place of employment. (My parenting skills, believe me, had nothing to do with my children's success. But my pride in them knows no bounds.)

I lost my dad – a strong Truman Democrat and the son of a strong Roosevelt Democrat – four years ago. That was a blow. I wanted to die right along with him. But I didn't die, and I didn't drink, and I'm carrying on his values and ideals because …

The other thing that's happened is that I've ventured out of my safe little world and become a loud, proud Democrat, working for candidates, being one, taking positions. I've become involved with the WV Federation of Democratic Women on the local and state levels. I think I'm making a difference, and I'm standing up for something besides me-me-me.

Because you see, alcoholics are selfish and self-centered to their core. Or at least this one is. If I'm not comfortable, you won't be either, I'll make sure of it. I'm shedding that behavior, one day at a time, but I have a long way to go.

Thanks for being here with me. You know who you are.

Monday, November 10, 2014

My Facebook meltdown

I threatened to quit using Facebook yesterday (on Facebook), and got more comments on a post than ever before. I think. But since I didn't post my threat in order to get comments, it really doesn't matter.

People are mean.

Not you, of course. And it's a free country. Sort of. I think the Koch Brothers have probably spent quite a bit of money buying it up, but the constitution still says you can say what you want.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Obviously I'm simplifying. The First Amendment has been and will continue to be debated. As it stands now, however, there's no law against bashing the President on Facebook. You can't threaten to kill him. That will get you a visit from the Feds. But you can lie about him and use racial slurs to describe him and pretend he's a Kenyan-Muslim-Socialist who wants to take your guns away, and there's nothing I can do about it.

Except back away from the Facebook.

Which I may or may not still do. But at least my knickers aren't in quite the twist they were yesterday, when I was feeling, um, very emotional.

The day began early, as it usually does. I clicked and followed a link to this video, a country anthem by Garth Brooks, first recorded four years ago (I think). (I would embed it here but it is restricted from embedding on some domains.) I don't listen to country music, as a rule. But yesterday I did. Go. Watch. I'll wait.

Remember when the Dixie Chicks criticized President Bush? And fans threw their albums away and talk-show hosts beat them up and they were pretty much ostracized from country music? Yeah, I guess those days are over.

I watched the We Shall Be Free video and wept. Sobbed. A delayed reaction, possibly, to the election results. But a sincere expression of the utter hopelessness I feel for the future of America.

The pendulum swings, thankfully, because later in the day I saw where Kacey Musgraves' Follow Your Arrow was named country music's Song of the Year. You can read about it and watch the video here.

I first heard the song watching the Grammys, back in January, I think. I downloaded it as soon as I could and I listen to it frequently. (Even though I just told you I don't listen much to country music.) It's sassy. And pretty darned different, for a country song.

And if Nashville is willing to recognize a song about weed and lesbians, maybe Garth Brooks' wish for a more tolerant world can come true.

Despite the fact that Tennessee just passed constitutional amendments effectively bannning all abortions in the state and forever prohibiting a state income tax. Oh, yes, they did.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Still shell-shocked. But rising.

Went to a little get-together last night, a post-mortem, if you will, with fellow Democrats from our women's group and our county executive committee. Quite a good crowd, not much gnashing of teeth, a good deal of enthusiasm and many questions about what comes next.

Most of West Virginia's politicians are Democrat-Lite. Our state party platform includes language that supports a woman's right to choose, but many-many-many of our Democratic legislators are pro-life. And now that our statehouse is Republican-controlled, you can bet the anti-abortion bills will be flowing like manna from HEAVEN.

(Whatever pro-life is. If you're pro-life, aren't you – or shouldn't you be – also anti-death penalty? Anti-war? Wouldn't you support early childhood education and food stamps and all the other social programs that help disadvantaged people LIVE? Unwanted children already born have LIFE. I'm pro-THEM.)

The opposition loves throwing the term pro-abortion around, which is ridiculous. NO ONE is pro-abortion. Those of us on the pro-choice side, however, believe a safe, legal, medical procedure should be available for those who have decided to end a pregnancy. The reason for such a decision is no one's business but the woman or family involved.

I feel that this and so many other good, solid, for-the-people principles will be gone with the wind coal in very short order.

I can't speak for every Democrat in West Virginia. I can only speak for me. I didn't come easily to this party. I wanted to remain an Independent, and I have voted for Republicans. Now that I'm here, though, I'm here to stay and I'll be damned if I'll let anyone hold me, West Virginia or America back without a fight.

I'm wearing an Obama button everywhere I go, with the exception of the prison. (Volunteers and staff are not permitted to display political icons on the grounds.) My Obama bumper stickers are going to remain on my car until Hillary announces. Our candidates lost because we lost control of the conversation, and I blame both the state and national party leaders for that. No national candidate who distanced him or herself from the President won. (At least I don't think so, I haven't drilled down through all 50 states to know for sure.)

At any rate, I'm a Democrat and I'm going to be a LOUD PROUD one. We have NOTHING to apologize for. We have supported the middle class, helped the disadvantaged, secured the future for the elderly, tried to do the best for the most.

I don't see Republicans caring one whit for anyone or anything except their own best interests.

Big, dark, outside money + racism + GOD/GUNS/GAYS + poor advice = this:

West Virginia's  majestic capitol building, Charleston, WV.
Altered, for the time being.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Internet-less

As you might imagine, I have quite a few thoughts about Tuesday's election results.

I also have no Internet, since early Wednesday morning. The universe is conspiring against me. Or perhaps protecting me from saying things I should probably keep to myself.

I'm profoundly disappointed. Stunned. Still.

And by the time the Internet is up and running again I'll have moved my thinking forward (one hopes!) to a more productive place.

When the keyboard and screen are small - I'm using my phone and the blogger app - so is the number of words.

Have a good Thursday. I'm trying.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A look back

Six years ago today, the front page of the New York Times looked like this. An historic day, and not at all unexpected. Candidate Obama swept through the country with charm and confidence and charisma.

The next day, I'm guessing, sales of Confederate flags and bumper stickers and license plates rose dramatically. I live in southern West Virginia and, until the 2008 election, I'd never seen a Confederate flag flying in someone's yard. Or if I had, I'd never noticed.

Electing our first black President changed America's character, and not for the better.

I had hopes. It certainly seemed like racism was on the decline, especially when considered from the perspective of one who grew up in the '60s. So much had changed in 50 years. Surely we were so over bigotry.

But we weren't. And we aren't. And despite all the good President Obama has done, all the improvements in job numbers and deficit reduction and consumer confidence, every major candidate in every major race used him. Democrats distanced themselves from him and Republicans tied Democrats to him.

You might remember that I was asked to make a commercial for my Congressman last spring. It never ran. In it, I thanked my Congressman for fighting for affordable health insurance. But because the ACA was President Obama's signature legislation, that ad wasn't going to air on any TV stations here in West Virginia.

When West Virginia Democratic candidates turned their backs on the President, they did so because too many voters here hate him. Pretty strong language, but it's true. And it's sad. He's done his best to make all our lives better, but far too many can't get past his skin color.

In the 2012 primary, 10 West Virginia counties chose a convicted, incarcerated felon over the incumbent President as their candidate for the top job. In the fall election, West Virginia had the lowest voter turnout in the entire country.

That's not something to brag about.

Today's Election Day. In the mid-term contest four years ago, the Koch Brothers-backed Tea Party made quite a splash. This is our year to shut them out.

Vote for Democrats. Please and thank you.

Monday, November 3, 2014

My left foot

Some time ago, a long time ago, I had edema in my left foot. Chronic. Annoying. Unexplained.

I'm talking a really long time ago, probably back in the Shrinking Knitter days.

Yesterday it came back.

Ugh. It hurt to walk. I ended up taking a Lasix before bed. That's how bad it was – I was willing to get up to pee two or three times in order to get some relief.

All is normal this morning, but I'm left wondering what happened to cause it to return.

And, since I won't be visiting the doctor about it, I guess I'm just left to wonder.

Moving on.

Earlier this year the four littlest grandchildren asked for knitted toys. They thought I could whip them out in no time. First, they have no concept of time and second, they have no concept of how long it takes to knit a toy.

At any rate, the first one's done. I'm naming it Mitch – until it's delivered, of course. At that point it's out of my hands and the intended grandson can name it whatever he wants.
But it does like rather Mitch-like, yes? (You politicos will get it.) I need to sew a couple buttons on for eyes, and it's ready to wrap and mail. The pattern (named Sheldon) is here, in case you'd like to try your hand at it. It was a bit fiddly, as most toy patterns are, but clearly written and an experienced knitter would have no trouble with it at all.

I still need to knit a blue whale, a red teddy bear and a pink kitty. And the granddaughter I visited over Halloween hasn't let me forget her request for a red hooded cape. Sewn, thankfully. It would take until next Christmas to knit a cape.

As I've been going through old emails, I find myself tossing the political ones without even reading them, and saving the ones related to knitting, cooking (paleo) and books. I think I'm getting ready to settle in for a long winter's nap.

How about you? We all know Christmas is still weeks away, despite the commercials and decorations already popping up. What are your autumn plans? Details!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Wow, it's early

I neglected to set the clocks back last night before I went to bed, so when I saw the digital display reading 5:34, I didn't think too much of it. I'd gone to bed around 9 last night, so I'd had plenty of sleep. I got up, checked my phone and saw that – THANK YOU END OF DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME – it was actually 4:34.

I couldn't go back to sleep, though. Didn't even try. I swear it takes me longer to get used to the autumn time change than it does the one in the spring.

About to enter the East River Mountain tunnel, at the border
of Virginia and West Virginia on I-77.
Right now, at 6:30-ish, the morning light is just beginning to overtake the darkness. There was a slight chance of snow last night, which didn't happen here. I saw snow all through Virginia on my way home from North Carolina yesterday though.

The annual Halloween trip to visit my son and his family went well. The first full day I was there I got to spend with my younger granddaughter while both her parents were at work. The weather was PERFECT – moderate temperatures, lovely Carolina-blue skies, very light breezes – so we packed a picnic lunch and walked to a not-so-nearby park along a paved trail.

Total distance was 4.35 miles – a pretty long trek for a seven-year-old. It was good to break it up at the halfway point with lunch and a bit of time on the playground swings. We alternated jogging and walking on the return trip and make it home before her mother got home from work.

We spent part of the afternoon at Trader Joe's – a great treat for me – where I stocked up on almond meal, coconut oil spray and dark chocolate, and had great fun with the cashier. Trader Joe's hires the most fun people! Or maybe Southwest Airlines does. It's a toss-up.

The good thing about the sudden cold snap is NO MORE BUGS. I'm thinking the fruit-fly population has been wiped out for the season. Now to figure out how to prevent the return next year. I expect the only way to get rid of them entirely is to not eat.

That's a strategy I'm unwilling to adopt.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Morning has broken


Until my friend Wendy got her new iPhone, I didn't realize my Samsung Galaxy S4 had a panoramic option on the camera. I'd never even explored all the camera modes.

When I looked outside this morning as the morning light overtook the darkness, I saw the perfect vista for trying it out.

And the coolest thing is, the camera goes back to Auto Mode on its own … so I'm not taking a panorama the next time I snap a photo.

We had lovely weather yesterday. I did laundry and took a walk. On my way back from the walk I started feeling ill, and all I could do for the rest of the day was … rest.

But I'm back to normal this morning and the plan is to walk and mow. I'll be out of town for a few days – my husband and Hershey will be holding down the fort – but might get a chance to check in while I'm gone.

One thing I MUST do today is put the remaining spaghetti and butternut squashes in the garage. It's supposed to go below freezing one night while I'm gone, and I'd hate to lose them. I'm cooking one of the spaghettis today, to add to a pot of chicken soup.

And, that's it … enjoy your day.


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Nine

I voted last Wednesday, West Virginia's first day of early voting for the general election this year, but there still are nine days until Election Day and another six days to vote early. There's really no excuse not to vote. Yes, Summers County is a large area and yes, there's only one early voting location – the county courthouse in Hinton – but I'm thinking nearly everyone needs to go to Hinton for something in the two weeks prior to November 4.

I could be wrong, of course. Now that I write that, I know one self-sufficient couple who studiously avoids Hinton, choosing to drive much farther to the next county for their few purchased necessities.

At any rate … early voting has probably been going on in your state, as well, and I hope that – if you're not able to take advantage of it – you'll show up on Election Day and exercise your fundamental right to have a voice in your governance. As money continues to buy politicians and sway the political process, I'd like it even more if you'd vote for candidates who will eventually be part of the process that will overturn Citizens United, which upheld the notion that corporations are people.

We're all tired of the negative commercials these shadowy "people" are airing. It's almost a pleasure to see an ad for a new prescription drug nowadays. (Those were my previous mutable moments.) There's a group here with big money telling out-and-out lies about candidates. They truly are slanderous, and I hope prosecutions are forthcoming.

Nine more days.

Today is the last day of the last weekend of Railroad Days, and it promises to be beautiful – sunny and mild weather and, I hope, sunny and mild people to talk with about the future of this state, and what lies ahead if the Koch Brother-backed candidates are elected. It's been an uphill battle so far.

November 5 truly can't come quickly enough.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

On my wishlist

I pretty much have everything I need and want. I'm not pining away for any kind of new this or that stuff. But I would like for a few things to happen, preferably without my having to work too hard at it.

First, always first, is to achieve a weight-loss goal and then maintain it.

I was sooooo close last year. Within 12 pounds. And now it's back to 20+. Which is better than 50+, to be sure, and I'm catching it earlier than I did a couple years ago. Those of you who struggle with weight loss know how much easier it is to put it on than to take it off.

I feel like I'm heading in the right direction, and the election season is almost over, which will help free up my time and energy to get back to basics. And to get back to walking daily.

Next … about that election … I really hope the Democrat message has been strong, persistent and positive enough to retain our majority in the state legislature, add a seat in Congress and keep retiring Jay Rockefeller's seat in the blue column.

Could we be doing better? Always. And there's still time, it's 12 days until Election Day. But now that early voting has begun, it feels like time is running out. I noticed a distinct reduction in the number of political commercials while watching Jeopardy last night. Like two instead of 12.

Finally, it would be great if there were some way to block those commercials completely after you've early voted.

We mute them, unless it's a new one we haven't previously seen. And there actually are a couple we really like, so we watch those with the sound turned up. But mostly the commercials this year have been driven by negativity and funded by buckets o'cash from out-of-state billionaires.

I did a commercial for my Congressman, way back in May, that never ran. It was about insurance, and of course anything that smacks of Something Good President Obama Has Done is off the table here in West Virginia. I'm sad about that, in so many ways.

I also wish …

  • my commercial had run.
  • my fellow citizens could look past the color of his skin and get to the heart of his character.
  • God, guns and gays – and coal – weren't the operative campaign issues for Republicans.
November 5 can't come quickly enough.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Somehow or another

I don't push this blog much. Most of the time I post a link to it from my Facebook page, but sometimes I forget to do that. I try to comment on others' blogs – a known way to steer traffic to one's own – but I'm not very good about that, either, especially lately.

I use the blog to brain dump and to remember stuff. I've been able to find the exact date something happened (derecho, anyone?) or a minor detail (was it 9 or 11 days we were without electricity and water?) in seconds with a targeted search.

Might not be as good for my brain, but it's great for my patience!

Need socks? Make some!
I also don't check my stats very often, because I'm not working too hard to be the world's most popular blogger. But I checked this morning and for some reason my knitting page is suddenly very popular. The majority of yesterday's referrals are from Ravelry.

Knowing where the starting point is doesn't answer the how or the why, though. Someone out there must have mentioned those patterns somewhere. I'm happy to share the few designs I created, years ago, and wish you many happy knitting returns.

Whoever you are, and however you got here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

You never know

When you're planning a large public event, you never know how many people will show up. How much food should you buy? How much coffee do you need to make? How many plates, cups, napkins, bowls? HOW MUCH FOOD?

We ran out of mac & cheese, slaw and chips last night at our Get Out The Vote Rally and Pig Roast, but there was plenty of pulled pork and soup beans for the latecomers. People just kept showing up, from 5 p.m. until well after 7.

All of us who helped plan it are very pleased, this morning after, with the turnout, the donations, the enthusiasm and the promises to vote for Democrats.

Actually I haven't talked to any of the rest of them, but I feel certain they're happy with the outcome. And I guarantee they're happy it's over and I double-guarantee they're happy (as am I) that Election Day is two weeks from today.

Early voting in West Virginia begins tomorrow. I plan to be there.

What's wrong with this picture?Women in WV make 68¢ for every dollar men make doing the
same job. The national average for women is 15 to 20 cents higher.
We had a lot of fun with a Gender Equality Bake Sale, too, and made our point: As long as women earn less than men for the same work, they should pay less. LOTS of men got it, and paid the men's price for their wives' dessert.

Yes, it was a friendly crowd, but I think some people there had an opportunity to make up their minds after talking with the candidates and hearing a) what the Democratic incumbents have been able to accomplish during their years of service, and b) what the Republican opponents haven't done during their time in office.

We'd love to turn Summers County blue this time. We'd love to keep West Virginia blue. Two more weeks.

Time will tell.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Early adapter

Well, Apple updated its OS again. I wouldn't have known about it, probably, because I certainly wasn't looking. But since I saw the notice – somewhere, I don't even remember where – I OF COURSE immediately downloaded the update.

Immediately, of course, being a relative term, since millions of us were all downloading it at the same time. It literally took more than A DAY to update the OS and all the other applications that were affected.

So far, so good, even though my MacBookAir is pretty old. (The general rule of thumb is if your hardware is more than two years old, a new OS may not work all that well.)

The best best best thing, so far, is how much more hard drive space I have! Installing Yosemite reclaimed about 8GB. Once I find time to go through and delete the obscure, never-played, get-it-free songs on iTunes, I should have at least that much more.

I like to think my hard drive has a food baby, and once we get that digested it will get back to its slim and efficient self.

I wish it were that easy for me, but it's not and I'm busy and at this point I'm just waiting:

  • Until the election is over.
  • Until I have more time to walk/cook/plan.
  • Until I can stock up on the foods that work for me.
  • Until my mojo comes back.

I'm not going crazy, but I'm definitely feeling like not much is working for me right now. I know, I know, I just bragged about dropping six pounds. And that was fun! But I have to be so, so vigilant, and I just haven't had time to continue the effort.

Holding on is as good as it gets right now. Two weeks and a day ... let the countdown begin.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Still here …

Still busy.

Still walking.

Still on track with the eating plan.

Still sleeping well (early to bed, early to rise).

AND LOSING!

Astonishingly, I've lost SIX pounds the last couple weeks. I reset my goal on my little weight monitor app and am starting anew. Again. I may never make my high-school weight again, but I can get close and I'll be much more fit than I was then.

One thing that's really been helpful is that rack of spaghetti and butternut squashes on my back porch. It's so great to have them "in stock." It's what I love most about gardening – not having to go to the market. When I had that huge, fabulous garden four years ago, I was able to preserve enough food to last four or five months plus eat my fill during the summer.

My garden is half the size it used to be and the deer ravage it every year. I was warned they would, as time went by, so my challenge next spring will be to container-garden the tomatoes and peppers and use the garden space for cucumbers and squash – vegetables for which the deer apparently haven't acquired a taste.

Being busy is helpful, too. Sometimes I just don't think about eating. Sometimes I literally can't stop. It's kinda cool to feel real, actual, honest hunger and to know I'm not going to die if I can't drop what I'm doing to eat something.

In case you haven't heard, there's an election coming up here in the United States. I'll be doing Democratic things for the next couple weeks, as much as possible, trying to counteract the Koch Brothers' influence here in West Virginia. The ground game will make the difference.

This campaign season has been negative from Day One. Every candidate has thrown mud, both sides, and the pleas for money never stop. Right, Jen?

The Koch Brothers are really going for low-hanging fruit by coming to West Virginia. Ten counties voted for a convicted, incarcerated felon over the incumbent President in the 2012 primary. I just hope our phone calls and outreach will get Democrats to vote for Democrats. We're reminding people that the President isn't on the ballot. Some people seem to not know that. SERIOUSLY.

We may or may not have company this weekend, depending on the health status of the four children and one adult who were coming. Everything is ready for them, or will be by this afternoon, and if they don't come that just leaves more time for campaign work.

Yay.

And … that's all for now.

Monday, October 13, 2014

This soup is the BOMB

My husband's birthday was yesterday, and I usually make him the copycat version of Outback's Walkabout Soup. It's a cheesy onion soup and takes a lot of prep work (All. Those. Onions.), but he loves it and deserves something special on his special day.

He asked me this year if we could have butternut squash soup instead. I'm not sure why he wanted to switch, but squash soup is much easier to make, so I said, "Sure, honey. Whatever you want!"

I wanted to do something different from our usually curried version, though, and came up with THE best soup we've ever eaten.

Seriously!

Who doesn't love a thick, creamy, savory soup on a dreary, rainy day?

From memory, here's how it went down. Best made on a lazy day when you're not in a hurry.

Squash Bomb Soup

Ingredients
1 large or 2 small butternut squash
1 pound mild ground sausage
1 small onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1.5 Tblsp dried sage
1 can full-fat coconut milk

Rinse the squash before you stab it with a knife a couple times, place it on a cookie sheet and pop it in a 350° oven for an hour or two. (Smaller squash will take less oven time, but don't rush it. You want the squash to be VERY soft.)

Go take a nap while it bakes.

Remove the baked squash from the oven to cool a bit.

In a large Dutch oven, brown the sausage over medium-high heat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon into bite-sized chunks. After the sausage has released some fat, reduce the heat to medium and throw in the onion and garlic. When the onion is translucent, stir in the sage and stir to mix thoroughly.

Cut the squash in half crosswise and scoop the seeds out of the blossom end. Remove the skin from the flesh of the squash and add the flesh to the sausage mixture. Pour in the coconut milk and stir well.

Let it cook for half an hour to 45 minutes. If you can't get to it right away, lower the heat and just let it simmer until everyone's ready to call to the table. The longer it simmers the more the flavors will meld and the better the finished soup will taste.

No need to blend it with an immersion blender. Just stir until it's thick and creamy and then DIG IN.

Best. Soup. EVER. Did I already say that? Well, it is!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Soaker. Or not.

Looks like another all-day rain today, and I will definitely be hitting the rowing machine. There's enough water out there I could probably row through some of the ditches around here, if the ditch was wide enough. And if I had a rowboat.

I cleaned the garage yesterday. Didn't really de-clutter it much, but moved things around and swept. It was quite Halloween-y at times. I would move, say, a box and a dozen of those big black spiders would leap around, indignant at my disturbing their sleep! They are TRULY CREEPY, especially when a dozen of them start skittering around in front of you at the same time.

ICK.

Actually, another look at the radar shows it will probably stop raining, but it doesn't seem like the clouds are going to disperse. A cloudy-day walk is fine, though.

Either way, I'll be doing some kind of intentional activity today and I will enjoy it. Not for what will happen eventually, but because I truly do like how I feel when I move and use my limbs and muscles. Working in the garage yesterday was most satisfying. The amount of pine straw and dirt and dead bugs in there was disgusting, and each swish of the broom made me feel good.

Congressman Nick Rahall (D-WV03). AND ME!
Last night was fun – West Virginia's annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in Charleston. Three of my very good friends received awards and I swear I knew half the people there. SO DIFFERENT from my first 10 years of living here in the Mountain State, when I didn't know a soul and couldn't figure out how to meet anyone.

My gratitude to our local group of Democratic Women knows no bounds. The woman who was president in 2009 had to step down and the group voted me to be the new leader of the pack. I went to district and annual meetings, got to know women at the state level and was elected to a state board position last year. Being a small cog in this wheel of Democratic politics in West Virginia is rewarding and gratifying and gives me purpose.

Believe me, Democratic women get things done. And I know it's the same in your state, as well.

Check them out. Plug in. Get involved. Change America, one county/parish/district/state at a time.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

So how's that workin' for you?

My tea experiment is over. Done. Finished. OVER!

Yesterday was the third day, and I grazed all.day.long. I don't think I ever wasn't eating something. Some of those foods were on-plan, but most of it was completely ridiculous.

Here's the thing: I like coffee. And I was feeling left-out and deprived by limiting myself to one mug a day, and then switching to herb tea. I wasn't enjoying making it, and I wasn't enjoying drinking it.

If you're not enjoying what you're doing and you're eating all day to make up for it – well, it's just not working. I don't feel a bit bad about myself for throwing in the tea towel after just three days.

My first-thing-this-morning decision to drink as much coffee as I want comes on the heels of reading a magazine article before I went to sleep last night. I don't subscribe to Paleo magazine, but I was given an issue last year and keep going back to one piece, by Adam Farrah, in which he writes:
It's the same with training and moving. If you learned to love the drive to the gym, the warm up, the workout, and the drive home, you'd find the future you want naturally comes into being - or at least a reasonable approximation of it. 
Doing something we don't love and value in the present so we can have what we want in an imaginary future - the imaginary future being "the fruits" - is how we trick ourselves and make things harder than we need them to be.
Now for someone who's been sober as long as I have, you'd think I'd have figured this out by now. Living in the moment, being present, is a key component of my recovery. But I guess it's more key for my recovery from alcoholism. I haven't applied that principle to food or fitness.

Toward the end of my day of destruction – I didn't even enjoy all the snacking, I just did it – I decided, since it had rained most of the day and I hadn't walked, to hop on the rowing machine for a bit. I took the iPod with me and listened to part of a podcast. I stopped after 20 minutes and gave myself an E for effort.

I read the article later, after I'd done that short workout, but I was able to see that I'd enjoyed doing something good for myself. I didn't think of that rowing session as punishment, but as nurturing. I wasn't trying to make up for doing something "bad," I was simply yearning to work FOR myself, and not against.

And I woke up this morning feeling back on track. Good, if you will, although not in a "good-girl" judgmental way, but in a feel-good-ready-to-keep-on-keepin'-on way.

I'm so grateful I have this blog for dumping my brain like this. I don't know if it made any impact on you, but it did for me. Thanks for reading.

Friday, October 10, 2014

A little breathing room

Last night my husband and I and several friends hosted a reception and fundraiser for a House of Delegates candidate here in our district. I've spent a lot of time this week thinking, planning, preparing, and putting things together for it, and now that it's over I'm left with … ungodly amounts of crackers.

It's a darned good thing I know and don't like how eating grains affects me. The prospect of stiff, aching hip and shoulder joints should keep me out of the supply. Besides … crackers? Meh. They're easily procured, should we run out and I decide I absolutely have to have one.

We brought lots of cheese home, as well, which my husband enjoys but which we don't often have on hand. Most of it went into the freezer. Dairy doesn't bother me in the same way grains do, but since my weight has decided to stay where it is, instead of going down – as I'd like it to – I'm going to avoid it as if it were a rare, disease-causing bacteria.

Also? Cheese, like crackers, is pretty easy to come by.

The next political event will be a Get Out The Vote rally and pig roast a week from Monday. (I'm making macaroni and cheeeeeeeese. With, perhaps, a seasoned cracker-crumb topping. Heh.) But a week from Monday is great. There's nothing really hanging over my head that I have to do. Except:
  • Design and distribute a flyer for the pig roast.
  • Go to the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner Saturday night.
  • Make phone calls for three different candidates.
  • Work on newspaper ads for the candidate for whom we hosted the reception.
  • Pump up the social media volume for WV Federation of Democratic Women.
But at least the party's over. Heh.

Other parties, however, are just beginning. West Virginia's Attorney General has decided not to continue fighting same-sex marriage here.

Knock me over with a feather.

It's quite remarkable and rather unbelievable that this state, which might as well the the buckle of the Bible belt, has moved forward in this area. Couples have already been granted marriage licenses and officiants are ready to pronounce them married!

So. A little breathing room for equality here in the Mountain State, too. One love.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Doing WELL

I've missed one walk this week, when I really needed a down day. Burning the candle at both ends really takes it out of me and a recent rest day felt good. But I've MADE time to walk every other day and I know it's good for my body and my mind.

And because we're having such a beautiful fall this year, it's good for my soul, as well.

I'm still running behind on reading others' blogs and I apologize for that. It won't be long until life returns to whatever normal looks like.

I read yet another article a couple days ago suggesting caffeine might inhibit weight loss. Since I'm doing everything else by the book and the extra pounds aren't budging, I'm going to cut back gradually with the idea of switching completely to herb tea within a couple weeks. I don't have time for withdrawal headaches right now by going cold turkey.

The thing I love most about coffee is that it's right there, hot and ready to pour. Tea is a process: heating the water, putting the tea mixture into a tea ball (what I'm using now is loose tea, not tea bags), steeping, then getting rid of the tea leaves. It isn't a big deal, truly, but it certainly takes more time and thought than pouring coffee into a mug.

Oh. Well.

The decision has been made and I've share the commitment here. We'll see how it goes. I had two mugs (which is about four cups) yesterday morning. I cut that in half this morning. One of my hopes is that drinking less coffee will open up the possibility of drinking more water, which is something I just don't do at all.

It's all habits … and if a good one can replace a not-as-good one, then … that's GOOD!

Monday, October 6, 2014

One down, mumble-mumble to go

I've spent the last couple weeks trying to get organized for a month of upcoming events. Yesterday afternoon I crossed the first event off the list. I'd love to feel confident about conducting meetings and making sure all my ducks are in a row, but I end up just feeling scattered and wishing I'd done things better/differently/over.

But it's done. So there's that.

To add to the FUN around here last week, I agreed to do a short video for my friend's pottery business. And it really was fun. I haven't made a "movie" in years and years. I used to do lots of them – and people paid me! – for graduations, birthdays, etc., but the technology has improved so much that most folks can DIY them now.

Marcia, who's been blind since birth, can't, and so I'm always happy to help her when she needs anything to help promote her gallery.


Yesterday's meeting wasn't until 3 in the afternoon, so I decided, "Hey! Why not make another short video!" Because there's always time for video-making, right?

I've been thinking about an idea for a political ad. Most commercials are full of lies and quite negative. There are a couple exceptions, but not many. My idea was for something simple and with a message – not necessarily funny, but at least truthful and hopefully thought-provoking.

So I finished all the last-minute meeting stuff, then made the video, then took a walk, then got cleaned up and went to the meeting. I was able to share the video with the group, and got a great response. So now it's your turn! And with this share … I'm outta here!