Wednesday, August 27, 2014

My passion for politics

Prior to 2008, I probably would have said my vote – in any election – didn't matter. How could one vote possibly make a difference? And who cared about my opinion, anyway?

Oh, I voted, don't get me wrong. My parents both voted (my mother stopped to vote on her way to the hospital to have my little brother), and believed it was important to vote and taught us that voting was not just a right, but a duty.
But my political passion didn't catch fire until six years ago (I'm a late bloomer), bursting into flame on this day in 2008, when Barack Obama became the first African-American nominated for the office of President of the United States.

Hindsight's 20/20, of course. We might have been able to delay the blatant racism we've been living with since his election, had we instead nominated the first woman. But we probably would have been dealing with blatant sexism. I fully expect a racist-to-sexist transformation when Hillary is elected in 2016.

I'm a middle-class white girl, originally from Ohio and now living in southern West Virginia, a state with a minority population in the single digits. But I was born in 1951. I came of age during the civil rights era, a time when a President was assassinated and cities caught fire.

I didn't understand it all back then, being somewhat boy-crazy and not especially concerned with the national struggle for equality and justice. But I knew that my dad and his friends made their way to the edge of town one night to turn away a group of people from a nearby city who wanted to create a disturbance in our little town.

It's been proven that you notice two things first when you meet another person. One sees gender and race before one notices hair color or height or weight or what someone is wearing. But I think I've been pretty color-blind most of my life, and I tried to teach my children that the color of one's skin doesn't matter.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
So. I guess I want to say – again – thanks, Obama, for helping me find my political passion. I'm engaged in the process in a way I never thought possible. Do I wish I'd started earlier in life? Oh, yes. But I try not to spend too much time regretting that which I can't change.

There's too much to do NOW.
Our government should work for us, not against us. It should help us, not hurt us. It should ensure opportunity not just for those with the most money and influence, but for every American who's willing to work.
That's the promise of America, the idea that we are responsible for ourselves, but that we also rise or fall as one nation, the fundamental belief that I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper.
That's the promise we need to keep. That's the change we need right now.
~ Barack Obama, August 27, 2008 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

In retrospect …

While giving up the 1500-mile goal for 2014 was necessary, due to a very cold and low-mileage winter plus a hip problem this summer, I haven't felt terribly motivated to take that daily walk that was once so very important to me.

This is a recent development. The combination of a busy schedule and monsoon season are conspiring with my lack of motivation to make it perfectly okay to be a slug this month. I'm much more likely to walk every other day, and to only walk two or three miles, rather than my previous five miles daily, come hell or high water.
Graphics don't lie. And that broken one? That's the day the hip problem began. I thought I could go at least a mile, but only managed slightly more than a quarter mile.

So in spite of the fact that we've had a fabulous August so far, with cooler temperatures and reasonable humidity, I'm going to fall far short of last year (152 miles) and even far short of last month, in which I managed to average slightly more than two miles per day.

I'm trying not to let it get me down. There's other stuff going on that is getting me down, the kind of stuff where you just stick your fingers in your ears and go lalalalala. I needn't add fuel to the smoldering embers.

All in all, last year was stellar,  but comparing this one to that one isn't productive. As the young folk say, it (2014) is what it is, and crying over spilt coconut milk isn't going to change a thing. I'M the one who can change things, and right now I'm treading water, waiting for the tide to go back out.

Soon. Seventy-five days until Election Day. The next couple months are killer as far as scheduling and events and projects and staying motivated are concerned. I guess channeling my energy in that direction has inevitably reduced my reserves in the health-and-fitness one.

Which just goes to prove how valuable blogging is. I've been thinking of giving it up entirely, or at least giving it up for the next couple months. But I just figured something out by talking to y'all about it. So while I certainly won't be blogging daily – no time for that, either – I'll definitely throw a post up every few days. Brain dumps are GOOD things.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

I suppose …

I should probably check in here, yes?

So the weekend was wonderful, although it really was just a Friday evening-to-Sunday morning timespan. The littlest guest told her daddy she'd like to stay for a week! She's a city girl, but I think being in the country suits her just fine.

And the rest of my life is pretty much the same: political stuff, health-and-fitness stuff, clean eating stuff.

Weekend eating was, um, less than perfect, but I'm following the 80/20 rule – giving myself a day off every week to 10 days IF a situation arises which is, um, less than perfect for following the paleo plan. However … Saturday's lunch and Sunday's evening meal were both off-plan. I guess that still falls within the 80/20 rule, but I felt pretty crappy Sunday night.

To counteract my indiscretions, I semi-fasted yesterday. Fruit salad and fresh salsa tasted great and this morning I'm feeling better. It rained all day yesterday (two inches!) so no walk, but I hope to sneak one in this morning before I go to a political event early in the afternoon.

We were walking around the very weedy garden Saturday and I counted more than a dozen spaghetti squash and at least half a dozen butternuts. I think I've found my garden calling. Really looking forward to roasted spaghetti squash with meat sauce. It's truly a paleo-perfect meal.

Writing about food is making me HUNGRY! Not eating much yesterday is certainly contributing. It's been a couple days since I've had bacon and eggs … I think I know what's for breakfast.

Thanks, as always, for reading. Hope your weekend was as satisfying as mine was.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Company's coming!

We have to have guests every once in a while, or the guest room would never get cleaned.

It's my sewing room, it's where all the crafty projects get dumped mid-completion, it's where the printer (and paper and ink cartridges) live … in other words, I don't have a catchall drawer, I have a catchall ROOM!

It's neat now, though, since our guests will be here tomorrow.
Instead of a luggage rack we have a luggage table.
I did a lot of inside tidying yesterday, and will mow the grass and sweep the front porch today. Fortunately we're not total slobs all the time, so getting ready for company isn't a BIG deal. I spend as much time menu planning as I do cleaning.

I didn't walk yesterday, because running the vacuum and mopping the floor (thank you, overflowing dishwasher, for that unexpected opportunity!) take more time and use as much energy. (I'm not sure about the energy expenditure statement, but it feels like it! And with a finite number of hours in which to accomplish things, something – walking, yesterday – had to go.)

But I've been walking and have definitely cleaned up my menu and I'm already seeing and feeling results. Down a couple of pounds since the weekend, way more energy than I've had lately, and I just generally feel more focused and on target. It's a really good feeling, and reinforces for me that I'm doing the right thing.

I hope your Thursday is a good one … mine will be. It's a beautiful morning, perfect for working outdoors, and the outdoors could sure use some work!

Monday, August 11, 2014

It figures …

So. The day I post about not posting as much, I get an e-mail announcing one of my previous posts is going to be featured on BlogHer.

So if you're visiting from that link, welcome! I used to post every day but life has been getting in the way. And that post about Facebook connecting me with the outside world? Well, my connections with the outside world are keeping me Too. Busy. To. Blog.

At least to blog as much as I used to. Heh.

But it's all good.

Getting back on the nutrition-and-exercise horse is going well so far. I had the opportunity yesterday to fall into a pan of free pepperoni rolls, but I resisted. There was cake, too, which I also resisted. The meeting I went to was mid-afternoon, not one of my usual eating times. I had a couple meatballs, because I was a little hungry, but instead of dwelling on what I couldn't have, I enjoyed what I could.

Aaaaand … I took a walk yesterday morning before I went to the meeting. So, yay me!

Congressman Nick Rahall (WV-03) rallying the
troops at a Democratic strategy session in Beckley.
He'd done so much for southern WV and we can't
afford to lose his experience and seniority.
The strategy session was all about GOTV – get out the vote – and we were somewhat astonished to learn that Democratic women is the voter group that had dropped most dramatically from 2010 to 2012. We need to find those women and learn why they're no longer interested in the process.

And then get them interested again.

It's a challenge, but one I'm up for. It's probably happening where you live, as well. If so, I hope you'll share your ideas, plans and successes in getting women to vote and in getting Democrats to vote for Democrats.

'Cause I gotta tell you – in a blue state turning red, it ain't easy.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Some things are falling by the wayside

As Election Day approaches – 86 days and counting! – my extracurricular activities are increasing. I feel like I've just started a job, and some of the things I used to do regularly, religiously even, are on the back burner.

I've abandoned photo-a-day. I still take photos most days, but I'm not following a list of daily prompts. Do you know how much time and brain energy this saves? It's not just going through my day thinking of a good subject, it's trying to think of a subject no one else will have thought of, because I'm competitive and want to stand out from the #fmsphotoaday crowd.

Then it's composing and taking the shots, because one is never enough, followed by editing (if necessary), captioning, hashtagging and, finally, posting.

It's exhausting.

I kid. It's not that hard, really, but all those steps in the process do take time. And lately my time has been spent elsewhere.

What's kinda cool is that I don't really miss it because I've been being creative doing the other things.

The daily walks have been every-other-daily recently, because of injury or travel or weather or what-have-you. We're in for a stretch of cool, cloudy days, and I shouldn't have much trouble getting back on track there. I do miss the daily walks. And the pain I experienced last Monday is completely gone.

Rest is good, people, rest is good.

Obviously the daily blog post has been pushed down on the priority list. I'm not one of those bloggers who plans ahead, writing and scheduling posts in advance. I think I may have done that a time or two, but mostly I'm a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kinda blogger, writing when I have time and something to say.

My theory about why I have less to say lately is that I've been saying it out loud, in public, in front of or with other people. Real live people! (Not that y'all aren't real and alive, but there's not much of a dialogue between you and me through a screen.) Also, sometimes I feel as though I'm repeating myself when I sit down to write. If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter, you already know what I've been up to.

For the most part, anyway.

The food has really fallen by the wayside, and I've really disappointed myself in that area. I'm doing more mindless eating, eating when I'm not hungry, eating because it's "time" to eat, eating what's handy, eating, eating, eating. It occurs to me, right this minute, that not blogging and eating more and eating inappropriately for my goals might be related. I can't promise to write more frequently here, publicly, but I think I'll begin food journaling again. It's proven to be helpful and will assist me in pinpointing the more-frequent allergic episodes I've had lately.

And I might just lose some weight in the process.

Hey! It could happen!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Time to buckle down. Again.

My weight is creeping up again.

Abandoning my 1500-mile walking goal made it So. Much. Easier. to walk fewer miles, walk less frequently and just not walk at all.

Hurting my hip didn't help this week, but that doesn't even begin to explain the lack of will I've been experiencing this summer.

I spent last Monday morning at the sewing machine, creating a Frozen cape for my younger granddaughter, who is enchanted with the icy princess Anna. As I was walking down the hall from the spare bedroom to the kitchen, I suddenly couldn't walk without pain PAIN.

I spent most of the day resting, except for a meeting that evening. I spent all of Tuesday and Wednesday morning resting and the pain had almost completely gone by Wednesday, when I had another meeting to attend.

My husband insisted I rest yesterday so I would be comfortable going out for our delayed anniversary dinner. I mostly rested, taking a little time to put some ground cover plants in the ground. (I feel lucky they've not died in their little plastic pots for the past month!) Dinner was fine, no pain at all.

I hope to walk today.

Of course, exercise isn't the only component to weight loss, just as lack of exercise isn't the only thing to blame with weight gain. I need to clean up the food plan, and late summer is the perfect time to do that. I'm going to get a few tomatoes, we've been eating summer squash almost daily, there's a row of green beans out there than needs picking and the peppers are beginning to turn orange.

Which is what they're supposed to do.

I really should have been a squash-only farmer, though. Look!


Butternuts on the left, and spaghetti on the right. Each plant has multiple squashes in various stages of maturity. I'm thrilled to have as much spaghetti squash as is out there. They keep for a couple of months and cooked spaghetti squash also freezes well.

So it's back to basics for me. Clean eating – no nibbles or tastes, and treats on special occasions only. Otherwise they're not treats, are they?

Time to dance – again – with the one who brought me.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A happy day

Happy anniversary to us!

My husband and I celebrate eight years of marriage today. We're delaying the dinner out for a couple days, due to scheduling conflicts. But we're not delaying the good feelings for finding each other and having the good sense to make a commitment.

For today ... and for the past eight years and the 13 before that, when we were making up our minds ... I am grateful.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Dueling Democrats

I may have mentioned, a time or 10, that it's become increasingly difficult to be a West Virginia Democrat since President Obama became the party's nominee, and moreso still since his election. Twice. (A neighbor installed a tombstone in front of his house that read RIP USA on the occasion of President Obama's second victory. He took it down after the second inauguration, but his Tea Party flag went up.)

West Virginia Democrats apparently dislike my President so much that they would rather stay home than go to the polls. We were the only state where fewer than half the registered voters showed up to vote in 2012.

And we're poised to repeat that sad statistic this year, in an election that could have long-lasting ramifications for Mountain State citizens.

West Virginia will, for the first time, send a woman to the U.S. Senate this year. We're moving right along with that gender equity thing, aren't we? But it's kind of hard to tell the Democratic candidate from the Republican at this stage.

What do you think of when you hear "West Virginia?" I'd really like to know. Leave a comment, if you like. Neither of you are from here, and it's a question I don't think I've ever asked.

When I lived in Ohio, I thought West Virginia was filled with hillbilly shacks and coal mines. It didn't take long after my move here to learn there's much, much more to this state than Appalachia. Granted, mountain culture and bluegrass music are important identifiers, but we have tremendous potential for outdoor adventure, tourism and agriculture, among others. 

Both Senate candidates are campaigning for coal, which is an important part of our economy. But it's not as important as it once was. And it didn't stop our Democratic Senate candidate from spending her first commercial ad buy flipping a switch to turn the lights off at the White House – the White House! – just to show them whose coal keeps that electricity burning.

I want to apologize to my President for her lack of manners. Democrats don't attack Democrats. Or at least they shouldn't. It's okay in a primary to point out why your ideas are better than your opponents', but once you're the nominee you attack your opponent.

Or, better yet, you stay above the fray and show how you and your policies will make your state a better place to live. There's nothing to be gained by out-Republicaning the Republican. Can't be done. We can do much better. There's no need to pit Democrats against Democrats, but that's what's happening. Those of us who are left of the salad fork are shaking our heads at how our Democratic candidates aren't representing us.
I don't have a problem when you stand up for miners and railroad workers (I'm pretty sure our trains pull more coal cars than semi trailer boxes), but how about promoting unions and safety and alternative energy and job training? Why not show ways to rebuild a crumbling infrastructure, keep kids in school, prevent teen pregnancies, improve our West Virginia way of life?

Our Democratic candidate has a lot to run on. Attacking the President? I don't know, it just seems rude and small to me. Isn't that what the Republicans are doing?

In the end, what I've been hearing is voters will either hold their noses and vote for the Democrat or they're planning to stay home. Again. 

Staying home is a win for Republicans, not just at the Senate level but all the way down the ticket.

Instead of sitting this one out, I propose that you, if you're unhappy with the current state of the campaign, write/email/call/message/tell her in person that you expect better. You expect different. You expect … Democrat.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Thank you, Facebook. Just … thank you.

This post has been churning in my brain for a few days. Time to let it out, I guess.

I am a social media junkie. Not Twitter so much, although I do have and use my account. But don't take away my Instagram, Pinterest, Blogger or Facebook, please.

Especially Facebook.

As both of you know, I live in the Middle of Nowhere. And if you know me in real life, you know I'm not kidding. Twelve miles to the nearest Tiny Kroger. Forty-five miles to a somewhat adequate mall. An hour to Sam's Club and it takes 90 minutes and crossing the state line to shop at Target.

Being so isolated took a real toll on me when I first moved here, 17 years ago. I'd lived in Columbus, Ohio, near many shopping and recreational and entertainment opportunities. I was plugged in to a social and support network that met all my needs and allowed me to give back.

And then I met a guy. A very nice guy, who also lived in Ohio but who was originally from southern West Virginia. And one day he moved back home. As guys do. And we did the long-distance thing. As couples do. And then he asked me to sell my house and quit my job and follow him to the Middle of Nowhere.

And I did. As girls do.

Many years after I moved here, he asked me to marry him and I said yes and we'll be celebrating our 8th wedding anniversary next week.

But we've known each other for 21 years and I've lived here in the Middle of Nowhere for 17 of them. Time flies.

I had a hard time making friends here. I just couldn't find women my age who weren't already plugged in to their groups of friends. I didn't really try very hard. I stayed connected to old friends with email. I redecorated our house. I bought a lot of yarn. I started volunteering.

And one day I found Facebook.

I was not an early adapter. Facebook launched in February of 2004. I joined October 26, 2008 (but my first post, oddly wasn't until November of 2009). Less than two weeks after joining, Barack Obama would be elected President of the United States. I worked on his campaign here in southern West Virginia and met some great people. I give the President all the credit for my finding friends, finally, more than a decade after I moved here.

Maybe some of those friends were already on Facebook, although I kind of doubt it. I don't know why I took that plunge. But I'm really glad I did.

The internet had been keeping me connected to long-distance friends, but not in the same way Facebook does. There were these things called "forums" and "listservs" and, of course, I emailed a lot. I started blogging in 2006. (Good lord, have I been spouting drivel for eight years now? I guess I have.)

But Facebook is up-to-the-minute and, with a smartphone and a data plan, always available.

When I joined Facebook, I had two grandchildren. Now I have seven.

When I joined Facebook, I had a few real-life friends and a few more long-distance ones. Now I have hundreds, and some of those virtual friends are also real-life, up-close-and-personal ones.

I've been accused of being too plugged in, mostly by those who live in cities and work with people and have a lot more social opportunities than I do. Or, conversely, by the less tech-savvy who just aren't interested in an online presence and don't think anyone else should have one either. (Pardon the snark.)

My level of plugged-in-ness feels just right to me. I'm engaged, informed and involved in a way that just wasn't possible without Facebook. I've gone from being a shy, backward, inward-facing loner to a somewhat more outgoing and certainly less awkward joiner.

I take and post photos from my almost-daily walks, and my Facebook friends tell me they really look forward to those views of my Middle of Nowhere. I love that they like going on my walks with me, even if they do so virtually.

I was elected to a position at the state level of a group I've belonged to since President Obama was Candidate Obama. I was on the local ballot this spring and won my election. I've met all kinds of important people and learned that they think I'm pretty important, too.

The icing on the cake was getting ready for that high-school reunion. The planning committee had a presence on Facebook and I could see who was registering and look forward in a very real way to the weekend. I reconnected with classmates I hadn't seen or even thought of in years – decades, even. What a blessing it's been!

So say what you will about Facebook – how they change things and there's no privacy and it's a time-suck and whatever. I'm sticking with it, gratefully.

After all is said and done, it is, after all, free. And for once, I'm getting way more than I paid for.