Tuesday, April 29, 2014

April 29 - Contrast

Old black bark on the left, new white bark on the right.

Past, present, future

The windshield as we left
the parking lot after our walk.

It rained.

My husband and I got soaked on our walk yesterday. We'd have been fine had we turned around at two miles, but instead went 2.5 to make it a five-miler. It started thundering and raining with 1.5 miles left to go. Oh, my. Cold, wet, miserable and did I say wet? Wow were we soaked.

It's raining.

Because it's April and that's what happens in April. Showers. Today looks like an all-day event.

It will rain.

Tomorrow and the next day and the next day, at least.
And because I was pruning a tree on Sunday and slaving over a still-not-finished annual report yesterday, I didn't get anything done in any of my gardens. (Denise, did you see my what-to-plant suggestions?)

So let's talk about something else. Like, oh, soup.

We have a freezer in our garage full of grass-fed beef. There's some shrimp in there, and a pork tenderloin, I think. The vegetables are stored in the refrigerator freezer. We mostly keep beef and chicken in the big freezer and we're low on chicken.

So it made sense yesterday to grab a package of hamburger and make soup. We call it cafeteria soup, but last night's version didn't even come close to what we ate in grade school.

Thrown Together Soup

This is hardly a by-the-book recipe. If you have other vegetables hanging around the crisper, add them to the pot. The soup will be delicious.

Ingredients

1 pound ground beef
1 Tblsp olive oil
Freshly ground sea salt and black pepper
1 Tblsp dried parsley (or 1/4 cup fresh)
1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced

1 onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, thinly sliced
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 yellow squash, quartered and sliced
1 zucchini, quartered and sliced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced

1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
3 cups chicken broth

1 head romaine lettuce, sliced thinly
1 oz dried shitake mushrooms

Directions

Brown the ground beef over medium-high heat in the olive oil. Add seasonings (to taste) and garlic and cook for a minute or two.

Add the fresh vegetables and cook until onion is translucent. Reduce heat to between low and medium (low if you're going to let it simmer for a while, medium if dinner needs to be on the table in, oh, half an hour or so) and add the tomatoes, broth, lettuce and mushrooms. Simmer until you're hungry.

This was the first time I'd ever used romaine in soup. I couldn't tell it was lettuce. I'm not even sure it added anything to the final concoction, but it didn't make it gross and I needed to use it up. This woman does not live by salad alone, and I hate throwing away part of a three-pack of romaine.

My one regret? I didn't take a photo. We nearly licked the bottom of the pan it was so delicious. A simple meal for simple people. That's us. Maybe it's you, too?

Monday, April 28, 2014

April 28 - Chaotic

My messy messy yarn closet. But not as messy as it used to be.

This does not bode well

The internets are acting up today, of all days, the day when that annual report I've been working on for the past couple weeks is due to go to the printer.

SIGH.

Here's what I get on some web pages:
In my email, instead of images, I see little blue question marks.

This has happened before, but I never know why it happens and I never know why or how it clears itself up. Today is not the day to deal with "issues," however.

I ended up logging 38 miles last week, and if I can get five a day for the next three days I can close out April at 162. That would break my record. My previous high month was last September, when I logged 155.

It's supposed to rain these last three days of April, but as I've said previously, it rarely rains constantly. There's usually a little window of walking opportunity where I can get one in.

I had to cut yesterday's effort down to four miles, due to time constraints. I'd thought I might be able to tack another mile on after I finished pruning that tree at my mother-in-law's, but WOW was I ever tired and sore when I got home!

That. Was. A. Hard. Job.

I meant to take before-and-after pictures, but completely forgot to do it. The before was rather Cousin It-like, with feathery leaves falling clear to the ground and spreading out over the porch steps on one side and the sidewalk on another. I gave it quite the haircut. My experience is that plants like being whacked back. They, in fact, thrive when their branches are thinned out.

Maybe that's what "room to grow" means. Ya think?

Here's a fairly good representation of the state of the tree before I did surgery.
And next time I'm in town I'll remember to snap the after.

At any rate … a four-mile walk, an hour and a half finishing the mowing job and two hours trimming foliage with a combination of loppers, a saw and a hedge trimmer left me exhausted, sore and ready to rest. Definitely not ready for one more mile.

And if five miles are going to happen today, they need to happen before 11 a.m., as that's when the storms are supposed to begin.

No time like the present! Hope your weekend was everything you wanted it to be. And I also hope your week is off to a good start.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

April 27 - Beneath my feet

Freshly mown grass. I can hardly call it a lawn, it's so full of vegetation other than grass.

Plan the plans …

Well, replacing the pulley on the rowing machine proved to be more than I could handle. This old brain simply can't remember how I did it the last time. I have an instruction sheet, which assumes one has much more skill and intuition than I do. I've put a request in for a friend's husband to have a look at it. If he can't, I'll ask a neighbor who is handy with things like this.

I hate to admit defeat, but there you go.

Today's plan is to walk first, finish mowing next and then meet my husband at his mother's to prune her Chinese maple tree. The one that's never been properly pruned and is so overgrown it's blocking the sidewalk.

I've no idea how long that job will take.

While I was at the garden center getting pruning advice, I picked up a few herbs – rosemary, cilantro and parsley – hoping for a bit of gardening inspiration. The herb bed I so lovingly built a couple years ago is overgrown with weeds and the lemon balm has spread everywhere. It's discouraging. The comfrey, chives, rhubarb and marjoram (or is that oregano?) are doing well. Some cilantro has reseeded but that lemon balm spread into the cilantro area and I know I'm going to have to rip everything out.

I'd much rather be working on my herb bed than my mother-in-law's tree, but that tree is blocking access to the sidewalk in front of her house. It must be done.

The herbs can wait.

Anyhoo … busy day on tap and I'm going to get it started! Hope your Sunday is pleasant and peaceful and as productive as you want it to be.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

April 26 - Enjoy the little things

A little tomato, garlic, onion and sweet peppers, with a lot of cilantro, makes pico de gallo ... a little of which is quite tasty with eggs.

We're in for it now

A great weekend on tap, weather wise, and not much in the way of commitments. My to-do list might actually get to-done.

One thing that got done last night was the endless garter-stitch cotton scarf I've been working of forever. Well, it seems like forever, as that's the nature of both garter stitch and scarves. But it's very cool and I'm glad it's done. I've never worn scarves as accessories, but these little floaty ones are fun and flattering, and I think I'll get a lot of use from this.

If I don't give it to my daughter for her birthday, which I'm seriously thinking of doing. I have a huge cone of this slubby cotton yarn and could make another one for me. Someday. Maybe.

I can't even remember when I started knitting this one. Seriously, though, if I don't have something compelling to watch on television, I don't knit. And I especially don't just sit and knit endless garter-stitch scarves.

It's good to have options, though.

I need to mow later today, when it dries up a bit. We had a lot of rain yesterday, including thunder and lightning and a brief blip of a power outage, while I was working on that annual report – another seemingly endless project that is sooooo close to being done. Fortunately a career in computer graphics teaches one to save, save, save, and I didn't have to redo much of the work.

My chore list includes fixing the rowing machine, and I do believe that's going to happen today. Using the rower for 20 to 30 minutes a day would accomplish more than simply hoisting dumbbells, and it's a shame for that equipment to just sit in the garage unused. I don't mind letting go of the elliptical at all. But when I was working out in a gym 20 years ago, I got a lot of benefit from the rower. I'm not quite ready to give up on using mine.

Fixing it is a messy job and one I've put off far too long. I hope that making it an intention here, in public, will spur me to actually make the repair – which should only take half an hour or so.

Later this week we're supposed to have a lot of rain, which will be a good time to take care of the "sewing" section of the to-dos. We rarely have rainy days where there isn't at least a brief window for walking outdoors, though, so I expect to keep that streak going.

And now that spring has truly sprung … the herb bed and vegetable garden need a lot of attention. Tomorrow will be the perfect day for that.

I hope you both have a great weekend. I'm planning to.

Friday, April 25, 2014

April 25 - Remember

Prompts like "remember" always make me think of my dad, but since his birthday
was just last week and I did remember him, I'm using this today remember Lindy.

Making progress …

at least with the mileage goal. Still no weight change.

Last Friday I calculated I'd need to walk 4.58 miles per day, every day, the rest of the year, to hit 1500 on New Year's Eve.

Today it's down to …
So there's that.

I've really been getting into the walking groove lately. Five miles has been the minimum for many, many days now. I skipped April 7, probably weather-related, and the last missed day was in March.
Time to step up the pace, I think, at least a couple times a week. Not hard to do … just need to make  it a priority. The little arrows above the 7-miler this past Monday indicates that was the longest and fastest workout in the previous 30 days. Even then, the average was just 4mph. I can do better.

Will it make a difference? Who knows? After three weeks of another strict Whole30 and no weight loss, I'm beginning to think I have the slowest metabolism on the planet. I feel great, though. Eating primally most definitely works for me. I don't feel deprived, I don't have cravings, and this eating plan has solved a number of baggy little health issues.

I'm sticking with it for the long haul.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

April 24 - A pop of color

It's so sad to me that drivers think it's okay to toss soda cans out along the roads.
No one has adopted Indian Creek Road for pick-up (except Lynne and me),
but the larger issue is that no one should have to. Throw your trash away when you get home!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

April 23 - Entrance

The west side entrance to the Capitol building in Charleston, WV.
The governor's office is the first door on the right after you enter.

All politics is local, Part 2

I filed the paperwork and paid my ten bucks back in January, but seeing my name on a ballot makes it really real. Yesterday was the last day to register to vote in the May primary, and the May primary is right around the corner, and the local weekly rag published sample ballots in yesterday's edition.

See?
No, we don't have paper ballots any more, and I've
never seen anyone bring their sample ballots to the
polls with them. But I'm sure it happens!
You can see, also, that – like Vivian in Pretty Woman – I'm a sure thing. Vote for two candidates, and you only have two from which to choose.

But still. Pretty fun!

I'm off to the not-so-local state capitol this morning to participate in a rally supporting my Congressman's re-election and denouncing the Ryan budget as bad for West Virginia. Stop by the statehouse if you happen to be in Charleston around 10:15! We'll be on the steps on the Boulevard side.

The things we do for politics.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

April 22 - Four things

I have a thing for taupe nail color.

A spring in my step

I can't remember a nicer spring than this one. Frequently here in southern West Virginia we move straight from winter to summer, with maybe a week of moderate temperatures to mark the transition. We haven't had a truly hot day yet. It's cool enough in the evenings to need a jacket. We still keep a just-in-case blanket folded at the foot of the bed.

Yesterday might have been the warmest day – we noted it was 82 in town, but it's always a bit cooler on our little mountain. My husband and I walked together again yesterday, down by Indian Creek, and it was pretty warm there. I'd watched the Boston Marathon (congratulations, Meb and Rita and everyone who started!) while I finished up that design job and was inspired to do one of my Run Double interval trainings.

I chose the 60:30 one. I've been doing the 60:60 option (Run Double has lots of training routines), but I'm trying for a 30-minute 5K. I figured if I ran twice as much as I walked, I might be able to add a little distance.

And I did, logging 2.63 miles in the 30-minute interval phase of yesterday's workout, instead of the sub-2.5 I've been doing. Walked and ran 7.07 miles total in 1:45, which is slightly less than a 15-minute pace. The longest distance I've done recently during the interval training is 2.7 miles. So lots of room for improvement.

At any rate … it feels so good to me to move faster, even when I was dying of thirst on the way back and even though I forgot my visor and even though my right calf was cramping and, and, and … I love to run. What else can I say? I wish I loved lifting weights, if only because grabbing a glass of water is so much easier.

Maybe I need to set a dumbbell goal the way I've set a running goal. I'll have to think about that one. Your suggestions are welcome on this. I'd hoped to reach my weight goal by my birthday (May 25), but it doesn't look like that's going to happen.

So … your assignment is: What can I do with light weights in the next 34 days that would be significant and challenging, but not be overwhelming or feel like punishment? Help me out here, I can't afford a personal trainer! Heh.

Monday, April 21, 2014

April 21 - Close

The ancient pink dogwood is soooo close to blooming.

Boston Strong. And other things.

I haven't participated in a large organized race in mumble-mumble years. I want to, again, sometime before my time is up, but I guess I don't want to enough, or I would already have registered for one, right? (I'm thinking about a fall race, but definitely still just in the thinking about stage.)

But just because I no longer participate doesn't mean I don't love race days, and the Boston Marathon is certainly one to watch. It will be on while I'm working upstairs.

We all remember last year's horrific ending. (And the Virginia Tech massacre happened on Boston Marathon day, as well.) The winners had crossed the finish line a couple hours prior to the blasts going off. The medal ceremony was canceled. Boston was mayhem.

And Boston Strong emerged from the chaos.

I remember watching the evening news right after the Oklahoma City bombing, and Peter Jennings (or maybe it was Tom Brokaw) said, "The worst in the least of us brings out the best in the rest of us." And that's what's happened in Boston and, (I hope) in the rest of the country.

The country sure could use the best of the rest of us. Sometimes it seems like the least of us speak louder, grab more attention, make more noise.

My husband and I took his mother out for Easter brunch yesterday. (I was able to stick to the paleo plan easily, having checked out the menu ahead of time. Tons o'vegetable choices, all of them scrumptious!)

Driving home past a locally owned and very popular restaurant – normally packed after church but on Easter, closed – we noted its sign: CONGRATS TO THE BUNDY FAMILY.

Y'know that sound effect of a needle scratching across a record? Yeah, that went through my brain. That's a pretty overt message to see in our little town. I know we're in the middle of Redneck, WV – the Confederate and Don't Tread on Me flags are ubiquitous – but still. For a business to display such a message is unprecedented here.

So. No more coffee at Kirk's. No more women's meetings around a big table. No more family reunion breakfasts. I won't support any business that so loudly and proudly spouts views opposed to mine.

Good thing I like to cook, right?

And I guess, in the end, it's a somewhat effective way for the best of the rest of us to respond to the worst of the least us.

I happen to think cheering those runners on today is another one.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

April 20 - Egg

Not having little ones around who might want to find decorated eggs,
today's prompt ends up being … a plain old egg. But I like the angle.

Happy Easter …

Today also would have been my dad's 84th birthday. He died in 2010, and I miss him still. I always will.

Interestingly, he was born on Easter Sunday. The last – and only other – time he celebrated his birthday on Easter was in 2003.

Here he is at about age 4, I'm guessing, in the Ohio River.
I hope you have a good day today. We'll be doing the church and dinner out thing, and then I'll … you guessed it … take a walk in the afternoon.

'Cause that's how I roll.

Oh, and it wouldn't be Easter if I didn't post my FAVORITE image, now, would it?

Saturday, April 19, 2014

April 19 - Money

The coin jar, from above.

TIme flies

… when you're busy.

There've been days – I kind of remember them – that stretched endlessly ahead of me. No plans. No goals. No agenda. Days when I could watch trash tee-vee or read an entire book or lay in the sun. Remember tanning? I haven't "laid out" in years!

Which explains my v-neck, short-sleeved tan lines. Also known as a farmer's tan.

I used to have some tank tops, but I donated all of them to Goodwill a couple years ago, when I realized (at the time) I wasn't ever going to be in good enough shape to sport a tank again.

Fifty-ish pounds less now, and I should probably look for some tee-to-tank tutorials, 'cause I've got way too many tees.

Anyway. I've been pretty busy lately, even finding myself – at times – too busy to eat! That's a rare occurrence for a food addict, but I've actually missed a couple lunches lately. I'm finding I really need breakfast to get the day going. And, um, bacon. The husband really needs dinner, and since I'm the cook, I don't miss many evening meals. (He takes care of his own food during the day, and does that crazy thing known as "eating when you're hungry." Then he has a bowl of cereal or a container of yogurt.)

But it's been kind of interesting to just work through the noon hour and not even realize how much time has gone by.

I've been putting an annual report together for a local foundation, working at the computer until early afternoon. I take a break to walk, having a banana either before or after, and then get back to work until it's time to make dinner.

It's almost like having a job again. Heh. I have a couple other design projects lined up and am really getting into this groove.

Mind you, missing a few lunches hasn't resulted in any weight loss. I've stayed the same weight during this entire Whole 30 (which I started April 6). I still weigh six pounds more than I did last November, when I hit my lowest weight in, oh, probably 15 years.

But the benefits of eating like this trump the number on the scale. I have energy, most days, to do everything that needs to be done. And accomplishing what needs to be done motivates me to do more. It's one of those never-ending cycles that keeps me feeling good about the way things are going.

I don't think I'll be stopping any time soon.

Friday, April 18, 2014

April 18 - Good

Seeing the phlox begin to creep = good! I love spring. 

Reassessing the walking goal

So Tuesday I calculated I'd have to walk 4.59 miles/day, every day, the rest of this year to hit 1500 miles. Three days later …
MAKING PROGRESS!

Yesterday was hard, though. I totally could have bagged it. I wasn't feeling well and didn't even want to go. But you know what? Having that goal made the difference.

I have to think that reaching it will make a difference in my health. And whether I do or not, walking as much as I do sure can't hurt. Usually I feel great about it. Yesterday was an exception, and I'll have days like that.

I hope I remember how glad I was to have done yesterday's walk the next time I don't feel like heading out.

I have some design work to do this morning. The plan is to work for a few hours, grab some lunch (the last of the turkey salad) and walk five more. I'm already dressed for it (yoga pants and walking shoes instead of jeans and Chuck Taylors).

NO EXCUSES.

Haven't heard from Joe. I guess he's not taking advice from political underlings like me. But he totally should. Heh.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

April 17 - Something I learned

I actually like canning my own food. Yes, it's a lot of work. But seeing
a pantry full of my own jars is extremely satisfying. A skill worth learning.

Dear Joe

Here's a little political advice from the bottom of the ticket, not that you care or ever would follow it.
You don't have to answer reporters' questions.
Just because someone puts a microphone in front of you doesn't mean you have to provide a quote.

You could be "running late for an appointment." You could be "heading for the airport." You could even offer to "give it a little thought" before you put your foot in your mouth again.

Last week you defended the Koch Brothers. You know, the guys who are singlehandedly destroying our democracy.

Then, the day after the Center for Public Integrity wins a freakin' PULITZER for an investigative piece on a West Virginia law firm withholding evidence in black lung cases, you hand them an attaboy. Of course, they'd already handed you $50K.

You've been quoted many times (too many) as saying you're a "West Virginia Democrat, not a Washington Democrat."

Here's a little breaking news: No West Virginia Democrat I know would defend a law firm that withheld critical evidence in order to deny black-lung benefits to sick miners.

Here's a little more breaking news: I'm a West Virginia Democrat. And I vote. And I usually vote a straight ticket, being the good little Democrat I am.

Next time you're on the ballot, though, I think I'll have to pass. You're hurting Democrats who are trying to get elected. And you're hurting West Virginia. Your predecessor must surely be spinning in his grave.

By request

I thought for sure I'd shared my recipe for bacon-wrapped chicken tenders, but I can't ever find where I did. And it's not in the recipe tab. But it will be, today.

I first ate these at my daughter's home, probably more than a year ago. She's a busy working mom who's also going to law school and low-carbs, so easy-peasy high-protein dinners and snacks are high on her priority list. She had a full container of these tasty morsels chilling in the fridge and said, "Help yourself."

I had a hard time staying out of them!

Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Tenders (2 servings)

  • Six chicken tenderloins (or 2 large chicken breasts, cut lengthwise in thirds)
  • Six slices uncooked sugar-free bacon
  • 1 Tblsp. chili powder (or to taste)
  • 1 Tblsp. garlic powder (or to taste)
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375°. Coat casserole dish with cooking spray (to keep it paleo I use coconut oil spray). Place chicken in large zip-lock bag and sprinkle with chili powder and garlic powder. Close the bag and shake it to coat each piece. Wrap each piece of chicken with a piece of bacon and place in baking dish. Grind pepper over all piece. Place in oven and bake for 45 minutes.

You can also grill these, but mine get too dried out on the grill. Adjust the seasoning to your taste, or try a marinade instead of dry seasonings. You can get very creative with this dish and you almost can't ruin it. Because … bacon!

For yesterday's salad, I simply sliced four or five leftover pieces (because I nearly always double or triple this recipe) crosswise and warmed them in a skillet, then threw them on top of a bowl of mixed greens + black olives + pico de gallo. Serious yum.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

April 16 - My vice

Devices in general, especially my phone. And Instagram is an especially delicious vice.

The best dinner salad EVER

Yesterday was a busy, busy day. I walked in the morning while it was still warmish, even thought it was spitting rain. The freezing rain, sleet and snow came later, as I was driving to and from the hairdresser's.

I got a call a couple miles into the walk from our Amish neighbor, Simon, who said he had visitors from Pennsylvania – the family I stayed with when I drove Simon and his wife there in 2012! So I kept walking another half-mile and stopped to visit for a bit.

That put me a bit off schedule, but I made it work. Got home and showered, then headed back out to pick up a few groceries and mail the Easter cards before my hair appointment.

In order to make it work, I had to skip a proper lunch and just grabbed a banana on my way out the door. Not a good plan, but I had no choice. And you know what? I haven't died of hunger yet!

What to have for dinner though?

Torn lettuce drizzled with a little olive oil, topped with black
olives, pico de gallo, sliced chicken tenders wrapped in bacon
and freshly ground pink sea salt. The best salad in a long time.
I'd fixed a large pan of my favorite seasoned chicken tenders wrapped in bacon the night before, and there were several pieces left over. So I made some pico de gallo with some need-to-use-or-throw-away tomatoes, peppers and cilantro, threw it on a bowl of torn lettuce and topped it with sliced leftover chicken tenders.

Oh. My. YUM!

We watched it snow as we ate our summer salads, but it didn't matter. The sun is back out today and even though it's going to be chilly, I think (hope!) that was winter's last last gasp.

I may have hoped that before.

And I tried to get a selfie of the new haircut but they all looked horrible and self-conscious, so it'll have to wait. I asked for a little bit of an Ellen look and she nailed it! I really like it – never could have pulled it off 50 pounds ago, though. Thanks, paleo!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

April 15 - I'm reading this

Well, I'm trying anyway. My Feedly list keeps getting longer. If I've missed
reading your blog in the last week or so, I apologize!

See that?

Look! Over there! To the right!

There's a little bloggy badge that says "Featured on BlogHer." Meaning they highlighted one of my posts!

It was yesterday's, of course. Because if it had been an earlier one you would have heard about it by now. They edited it and added links to the offending comments, if you want to pop over and read it again. Heh.

And if you're a new reader who clicked through from BlogHer, welcome. Glad to have you.

Moving ON …

Last week I calculated that I had to walk/run 4.63 miles per day for the rest of the year to make the 1500-mile goal. Today it's down to 4.59. Last week's mileage was good at 30 miles, but the previous week's 44 was super! And look at the difference it made in what I have to accomplish.

Yes, I'm a little obsessed (and worried) about making that goal. WHAT WAS I THINKING?

The recently started Whole 30 is going well. I'm not missing almond-flour baked things nearly as much as I thought I might. I'm also not dropping any pounds, which is kind of surprising, but not alarming. It will happen when it happens, I'm quite confident of that.

The best part of eating this way is having enough energy to mow the entire three acres of grass in one session and having enough extra energy to walk five miles when I was finished. And that was after walking 1.4 miles in the morning (in those dirty boots) to read the electric meter at the water pump. (Yes, we're going through this again.)

Anyhoo … I don't have much more to report today. It's raining and supposed to get colder. Thanks, Obama Winter! Spring was great while it lasted.

Monday, April 14, 2014

April 14 - Dirty

Bought these the first year I planted a big vegetable garden. Great investment!

Who raises these people, anyway?

So if you haven't heard yet, our friend Sylvia Mathews Burwell was nominated for Secretary of Health and Human Services, replacing Kathleen Sebelius. It's a huge, demanding, pressure-filled responsibility, and Sylvia's experience and skills are a very good fit for the position.

It's a pretty big deal for West Virginia, and a HUGE deal for Hinton, to send a native daughter to a seat in the Cabinet. (She's actually been there for a while in a different capacity.)

At any rate … I've been reading published accounts of her achievements this week, including some of the comments posted with online stories. And I'm left wondering just who these people's mothers are? Where did they learn to be so rude? And – to quote another powerful woman – what difference does it make?

I'm referring to comments criticizing Sylvia's wardrobe and hairstyle.

Yes, there are people out there who accuse the current Director of the Office of Management and Budget and the future Secretary of Health of buying her suits at Goodwill. (And worse, but I had to stop reading.)

You can be anonymous online. You can create a persona to hide behind, and then toss insults like baseballs during the pre-game warm-up. You can be as mean as you like, because you're protected. It would take a lot of effort for Sylvia to track you down and show you her store receipts.

And then there's that pesky First Amendment.

I'm the first to defend your right to free speech. But I'm also the first to shake my head and wonder why you feel the need to attack someone's clothing, as if that will determine her capabilities. After all, how would you feel if I pointed out that your mother's sweatpants were a tad tight, as I stood behind her at the Dollar General?

Our words matter. Everywhere. All the time. Whether we're online or on camera makes no difference. What we say represents us. Women are finding it necessary to reclaim and redefine some words. I have no problem with this.

I have to wonder, though, why women are still fighting for equal rights and equal pay and equal respect in the 21st century. We've been working for equality for a hundred years.

The fight for equality needs to be over already. We need to end it. Claim it. BE IT.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

April 13 - More please

More redbuds, please! Actually more SPRING! I'm loving it so far.

How long does it take …

to shoot a 30-second television commercial?

Well, it took three hours for my part.

I'm not yet ready offer details. I'll fill you in after it airs.

Suffice it to say it was absolutely one of the most nerve-wracking and anxiety-producing things I've ever done.

But. It's done. And I'm glad I did it.

Send good thoughts my way today …

as I do something that is completely and utterly out of my comfort zone.

I'll let you know how it goes later. Probably tomorrow.

In the meantime, know this: I'm a nervous wreck.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

April 12 - On my left

My bearded and intense husband, concentrating on driving down a narrow country lane.

Wow, way to drop the ball

So whoopsie, sorry for ignoring you this week. It was a combination of late mornings and too much to do. Something had to go, and blogging was it.

But I'm still here, alive and kicking, just too busy for words. LITERALLY! But the daily photo posts have continued, thus keeping the spirit of the daily post alive.

IF I'm going to publish a post every day, I have to be up and at 'em pretty early, in order to have some quiet time to spew reflect and record what's been happening in my head in my world. That's been impossible this week, as we had to be up early a couple of mornings to pick up our Amish neighbor, who painted our garage. He finished Thursday afternoon, I spent the rest of Thursday preparing for overnight guests and yesterday morning was fixing a big breakfast to send them on their way.

Don't get me wrong: I've had plenty of down time to cruise Facebook and Twitter and some down time to browse through Instagram and Pinterest. My email has piled up again, however, and I just can't seem to write later in the day.

So. We both got a break. You're welcome! Heh.

The Whole 30 is going well. I roasted a turkey Wednesday and have been happily eating the leftovers for lunches and snacks. I haven't yet needed to go back a year in my LoseIt files to see what I ate then, because seriously? Meat and vegetables is pretty easy to do. I'm eating lots more vegetables than I'd been eating lately. So much so that LoseIt gave me an award!

I started this Whole 30 out logging food every day, but that has quickly gone by the wayside. I do think it's a good habit to establish, however, so I'm going to begin anew today. I skipped Thursday and Friday and can't even begin to go back and figure out what I ate.

What else … I'm knitting a scarf – my least favorite project to tackle because they go on forever – and I'm loving how it looks. The yarn is a really thin white cotton with occasional slabs of either black or white. I'm using big fat needles and plain old garter stitch and it's moving along. But I still have to knit a couple more feet of plain old garter stitch before it will be long enough to call it done. It's stretchy and you'd better believe I'm going to stretchy it out as long as I can when I block it. I actually wish it would knit itself, though.

The only thing I've planted in the big garden is grass seed (in half of it). Downsizing the vegetable plot was a good idea. When I look at the remaining plantable space it'd not nearly so overwhelming to me. We have a couple more cold days coming up next week and then I think I'll begin throwing seeds in there. The herb bed is only slightly less messy than it has been – I've pulled a few dead plants, but the lemon balm took over last summer and I need to dig a lot of it out.

The one gardening success this week has been the asparagus bed. Lots of little stalks are shooting up and I was able to get the entire bed weeded and mulched before the painting project began. (The asparagus is planted next to the garage.)

And I haven't even talked about all the political stuff going on! You're welcome!

A busy week, indeed. I halfway thought about doing a local 5K this morning but I'm just not feeling it. I tripped over an exposed root out in the yard day before yesterday and I think the daily walk is as much as I want to do until my left knee feels a little better. I'm doing great with my mileage. Even skipping Monday (rain, rain, rain), at this point I still only have to average 4.6 miles/day to make the 1500-mile goal for the year. And the nicer it is outside, the farther I want to go.

Which explains why my house is such a mess.

PRIORITIES!

Friday, April 11, 2014

April 11 - Three of a kind

I believe we've had this prompt before, and I believe I shot the same subject.
I could be wrong. These are old, old, old Lady Diana branded golf balls,
at the Greenbrier by my mother-in-law but never used. They're not identical –
they are pale shades of yellow, pink and blue – so maybe technically they don't fit the category.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

April 10 - Fave part of the day

The very early morning, when it's just me and the laptop, is my favorite part
of the day. My daily walk would be a very close second.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

April 9 - Dark

It's in the freezer. Waiting until sometime after the last day of the current Whole 30.
It's not like a Lenten thing, though, where I'm looking forward to diving in ON the last day.
Which is a nice attitude to have about dark chocolate.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

April 8 - Hobby

My collection of old and seldom-used wooden needles represents my knitting obsession hobby.

Monday, April 7, 2014

April 7 - Where I'd Rather Be

I'd rather be anywhere than stuck at a red light in bad weather.
My shopping trip began in pouring-down rain, but ended just fine.
In fact, it ended with a pair of pants, three pairs of shorts, two dresses,
five scarves and three jackets for right around $75! Gotta love sales!

Spring health hazard

If you've had enough of winter, as I have, but spring weather has still not made it to your neck of the woods (I'm lookin' at YOU, northern Ohio and Canada and upstate New York and Minnesota and … well, you know who you are), may I offer a tip?

Do NOT be tempted – because the sun is shining, the temperature is moderate and the ground's not muddy – to spend an entire day DOING YARD WORK.

The yard's not going anywhere. I promise.

To be honest, I didn't weed and seed and mulch from sunup to sundown. I also took an hour-and-a-half walk, with a half hour of 60:60 intervals thrown in.

(Which, by the way, pushed the miles for the past week to more than 40. WOO HOO!)
By the end of the day I'd spread grass seed over half the former garden space, pulled a bunch of dead plants from the herb bed and completed weeding and mulching the asparagus.

I finished up my farmer chores at around 7 p.m. I am, possibly, too old to work outside from 9 in the morning until 7 in the evening. I was so sore last night. I took an Aleve and went to sleep early, which OF COURSE meant I woke up around 4 this morning, aching but well-rested.

So here I am, listening to the rain and trying to remember if anything else of significance happened yesterday.

OH! RIGHT! I started another strict Whole 3031, a day ahead of Gingerzingi, because last year's first foray into the World of Paleo began on … April 6. I'm not going to post a report every day, but I will share yesterday's kickoff report, just FYI. (Report is from LoseIt, and I haven't yet decided if I'll keep it up on a daily basis. I'm leaning toward "yes," only because keeping a food journal has been shown to aid in weight loss, and that's one of my primary reasons for repeating a strict Whole 30. It's not my only reason, however. Also, I only recorded an hour of yard work, even though I know I did way more than that. The calorie count for one hour of weeding seemed excessive to me.)
There will be no intentional activity today, because the forecast is for constant precipitation (good for that grass seed!) and because I'm going shopping. I need to be home by mid-afternoon to prepare for a 4 p.m. meeting and then there's a Meet the Candidates event at 7 this evening.

I absolutely can't imagine being this busy and actually getting this much stuff done a year ago. Increased energy + elimination of joint pain = 1 happy Debbi!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

April 6 - A taste of spring

Because you just can't have too many photos of asparagus in April, right?

Getting sprung

I posted a photo yesterday on Instagram/Facebook/Twitter of a little white wildflower I've been seeing the last couple of days. I learned it's called bloodroot (because it has a red stem), Native Americans used it for dyeing purposes and according to one commenter bloodroot is a sure sign of spring.

There's no doubt in my mind, however, that spring has sprung here in southern West Virginia, but not because of the newly emerging bloodroot. It's because of ASPARAGUS!

Prior to the last snowfall (I pray it's the last, but one never knows), one little stalk had popped up in the asparagus bed. The cold nipped it quickly, sadly, but now that I've cut back the dead stalks and cleaned the bed up there's plenty of room for new growth. There will be enough to pick and add to an omelette by tomorrow, probably. Tuesday for sure.

Other signs of spring are showing up all over our property and neighborhood. The day lilies and lilacs are leafing out. The daffodils are putting on an impressive show. 

I've also noticed tiny leaves on the apple trees and horseradish plants pushing their way up through the dirt. 

And you know me … when the food starts growing, it's SPRING.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

April 5 - Not mine

Nope. Not mine. Not at all. It's all his. Heh.

So much for writing every day in April

I've taken on some additional responsibilities this year for the state federation of Democratic women. And it's spring, so I'm pulling weeds and tidying up flower beds and picking up twigs.

And walking a lot more than I did in January, February or March.

I guess something had to give, and it looks like daily writing has (so far) been it. I hope to get back on track with it, but I won't make a promise I can't keep. And it's not like I'm going to get punished for skipping a day or two here and there.

I do, however, feel punished when I get off track with the food. Not just with an uptick in my weight, but with aches and pains. This time it's my left knee. And it would be so easy to blame the additional miles, but you know what? I'm not going there.

I've been eating grains. Specifically crackers and bread, and not the gluten-free kind. Fortunately the next Whole30 begins tomorrow and yes, I'm looking forward to jumping back on the bandwagon.

If I KNOW that gluten causes me problems, then why do I cave? I've been under some stress lately, personal things that will work themselves out, and as any of us who suffer from emotional eating issues knows, food will take care of stress, right? RIGHT?

Um, not right at all. And I know that. But if it's there, and I'm feeling sad, mad, tense, etc. – I'll eat it.

So the trick is for it not to be there. I know it's not fair to my husband, but I'm going to ask him to keep his damned bread out of sight. At least for the first couple weeks, until I start feeling better.

So there you have it. Too much tension = too many bad choices + too few blog posts. I'll get to work on that.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

April 3 - Shapes

Circles? Ovals? Well, they're some kind of shape anyway. And they're in better
shape than my writing skills or motivation have been in lately!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Preparations

I walked yesterday, a nice loooong walk in which I was not at all in a hurry to be done. I wasn't in a hurry while I was actually walking, either, as my pace ended up being just slightly faster than 3 mph. But the distance was seven miles. I would have been awfully tired on the way back had I been going much faster.

Or so I like to tell myself. Justification and rationalization can be very good buddies.

It was a perfect day for walking – upper 60s, breezy, sunny. Spring is here, finally.

It occurred to me as I was ambling along that the by-the-book Whole 30 I'm doing with Gingerzingi will begin a year and a day after the first one I did last spring. I might have to do a Whole 31, and begin anew on the same day as last year.

This week has been pretty good. It's easy to get off track, but knowing I've made this commitment makes me want to stay ON track. A few days of clean eating and several decent walks have made a weight-loss difference in the amount of two pounds this week. It's so very nice to see the number go back down again, and it reinforces for me the idea that this thing really works.

For me.

I'm going to make some pumpkin muffins (using almond meal and coconut flour), because I've been wanting "bready" things but haven't taken the time to make them using paleo/primal ingredients. Much easier to eat a saltine or 10.

And I always pay for it – with achy joints and interrupted sleep – when I eat a saltine or 10.

Mostly, though, I'm ready.

And I'm especially ready for more long walks. I'd hoped to make it to 100 miles in March, but that didn't happen. In fact, I fell well short. But each month's mileage grows and I'm still going to work hard to hit the 1500-mile goal by New Year's Eve.

A week ago I had to lose 19.5 pounds to reach a normal BMI. Today it's down to 17.5. That's 5.5 more than my lowest weight last year. Winter was brutal, outdoors and in!

This week's progress makes me feel so, so hopeful.

At the prison last night I happened to run into a woman who used to come to the AA meeting. I recognized her, and wished her well, and she shared with me that she'd be leaving soon, going back home to St. Louis.

She asked me what my volunteer service was. I told her, and she said she used to go to that meeting and had, in fact, been the group leader for a month. She absolutely didn't recognize me as the same person.

A little thing, perhaps, to not be recognized by someone who you didn't know very well anyway.

But a big thing, too.

April 2 - In my hand

My Change Hero virtual race medal arrived! This foundation supports nutrition
education in schools. Their school garden is beautiful and their mission is a good one!