Monday, June 30, 2014

Time to get real

I've maintained my current weight for six months. My current weight is still 20 pounds more than I'd LOVE to weight, and 10 pounds more than I'd be happy with, and eight pounds more than my lowest weight last year. Give or take a pound or two.

Today is the 181st day of the year. After today's five-miler, I will have walked 657 miles since January. If I were to continue walking five miles daily for the remainder of the year, I could still reach my 1500-mile goal.

You know what, though? I'm declaring, TODAY, the pressure's off.

Which doesn't mean I'm giving up the effort, but does mean I feel pretty good about where I am and I'm done working so damned hard at it.

I've registered for a 5K the end of next month. I did it last year and it was fun and I surprised myself and that's the feeling I want to have – being satisfied with an accomplishment, rather than every damned day thinking I've come up short.

I've spot-checked my weight a couple times this week and it's either holding steady or going down. If I don't obsess about it, I do better. Relieving myself of the obsession to step on the scale daily has been hard, but my head is in a much better place when I don't start the day looking at THAT number.

So. Will 1500 miles happen? Maybe, maybe not. It doesn't matter. If I don't walk another mile for the year, I've still averaged more than most sedentary people do. Even the New York Times found that most Americans log about 5000 steps per day – just slightly more than my current average if I sit the rest of 2014 out.

The pressure's off. Really. I need to be okay with who I am now. I need to keep walking because it's good for my heart and my head, more than for my weight. I need to run because I love running, not because it's a way to get skinny fast.

And I need to cut myself some slack. As Robert Browning said,
"Better have failed in the high aim, as I,
Than vulgarly in the low aim succeed …"

Sunday, June 29, 2014

June 29 - Delight

I was delighted to see cloudy skies as I walked, hoping for rain. Alas, it didn't happen.

Remembering …

Two years ago today I was celebrating the Supreme Court's decision upholding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. Here's my post from that day.

Later that day, the joy turned to despair as a derecho swept through six states and the District of Columbia.

Here's my post from July 1, when I could get to a place with electricity and wi-fi … unless I posted from my phone. I honestly don't remember.

Let's hope it never happens again.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

There are some muscles …

Do you water ski? I used to, back when I was a kid and my family camped along the Ohio River every summer. The first skiing session of the year always made me think, "There are some muscles you only use when you water ski."

Likewise, there are some muscles you only use when you're pushing an immobile riding lawnmower.

Yesterday was do-or-die day for cutting the grass. I kept putting it off, hoping for one more rain that still hasn't happened. The dust seriously aggravates my eyes and ability to breathe following a mowing session, but I just couldn't keep postponing the chore.

Our house divides our front and back yards, and it takes about 90 minutes to do each section. I had finished the front and was very carefully skirting the blackberry bushes, which are protected from the birds with netting.

You know where this is going, don't you? Yes, one of the mower blades nicked a corner of the netting and that corner was all it took to wrap yards and yards of it around the shaft of the blade, rendering the mower useless for anything but a large and quite stationery industrial-type lawn ornament.

I had to push the mower a fair distance to get it to a place where I could work on it. And after trying to untangle the mess on level ground I had to push it some more, up onto some bricks to give myself a little more room. This was a disaster in the making, but fortunately the mower did NOT slip off the bricks and land on my arm.

But those pushing muscles. Oh, are they sore today.

After one frustrating hour, I had to go get a neighbor to help. All I could think was that the blades would have to be removed. Our neighbor simply continued doing what I'd been doing – cut with a blade, tug with needle-nosed pliers. I felt bad asking for his help. But I was willing to let him do it if he was willing to jump in and finish what I'd started.

By the time I finally finished mowing I'd been outside for SIX HOURS. That heat and sun will take it right out of you. I was bushed. Beat. Dead-dog tired. The only perennial work that got done yesterday was moving the plants from the back of the truck to a spot in the shade, so they wouldn't fry.

Today is supposed to be warm, but overcast – a pretty perfect day for gardening.

Speaking of gardens – we were, right? Just now? Heh. – FIVE deer were nibbling the tomato plants as dawn filtered in this morning. I'm so mad. It looks like from now on I'm going to be a squash gardener. They haven't touched any of either the summer or winter squash plants. I sent Hershey out to chase them away.

And as for the berries, I replaced what was left of the netting, because those hybrid berries are so much bigger and easier to pick (they're thornless) than wild ones are. But look what's been going on behind the mulch pile:
I love free food. Heh.
There are hundreds of berries, dozens of bushes and more growing IN the mulch pile. I shall very carefully extract mulch from around those plants, because the spot where all this is growing is easy to access and there will be more than enough fruit to share with the birds.

I'll need to wear long sleeves and gloves to pick them, since they're wild and DO have thorns. But wow – what a haul. Can't wait!

June 28 - Bed

Hershey on her soft fuzzy dog bed in the den. Just about anything
qualifies as a bed for her, but I'm glad she likes the one we bought for her.

Friday, June 27, 2014

June 27 - Loving

Blue skies and hummingbirds – what's not to love?

More gardening

So yesterday was fun. I filled the back of our pick-up truck with a variety of shade-loving perennials and then came home and started putting them in the ground.

SO fun! Heh.

I'm quite sore this morning. And I'm not at all done planting everything, not by a long shot. And I'll probably have to go back and get more plants, so I'm really not done.

These are what's left to be planted. Hoping I
can get them all in today. If not? OH, WELL.
The beds along the driveway will, eventually, have something growing there that will live, or at least I keep hoping. If these don't make it, I'm going to remove the rock walls and plant grass seed.

The maples on either side of the driveway keep the center section in shade virtually all the time. So I'm putting ferns and shade-loving ground cover plants there. Each end has ornamental grasses, day lilies and dwarf spirea, and I have a few other little things to fill in as needed.

Yesterday's efforts involved a gas-powered tiller, a hoe, a shovel, a wheelbarrow, a trowel, my hands and knees, and three lengths of garden hose.

My attitude toward these never-ending garden chores is improving. As I mentioned a month or so ago, if I just do a little bit each day, eventually it will all get done. I'm glad I'm not having a big reunion where everything has to look good at the same time. 'Cause that ain't happening this year.

But each little area that gets weeded and trimmed and tidied up gives me a sense of accomplishment. I don't feel overwhelmed, thinking I have to do it all.

What a concept!

June 26 - Dreaming

She dreams of chasing skunks and deer, both of which have taken over the field
next to the yard … and garden. The green bean plants have all been eaten. So sad.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

I may have solved my sleep problem

At least for now, anyway.

What had been happening is that I would, for whatever reason, wake up in the middle of the night after about four or five hours of sleep. And then my brain would start churning. I wear a lot of different volunteer hats, and it seems like all of the groups I'm associated with are doing something in the next few weeks.

So a couple days ago I wrote everything down. With a pen and paper, not with an app on my phone. It ended up being two grocery-list size pages long. And that did the trick. For the past two nights I've gotten eight-plus hours of sleep, straight through, no interruptions.

It makes sense. I guess I was anxious about forgetting something that needed to be done. The deadlines are a ways off, so nothing has to be done RIGHT NOW. But it was kinda cool to cross off a couple things the same day I made the list.

I didn't even look at it yesterday. And slept well last night.

So that's my story and I'm stickin' to it. It's the KRRE Cure for Insomnia: Write it down!

June 25 - Sun flare

Are you tired of seeing my blackeyed susans yet?

Monday, June 23, 2014

June 23 - In this moment

Finally filed the paperwork for the Political Action Committee a friend and I are starting. 

About that hosta

Remember my mentioning a two-leafed hosta that I'd unearthed from beneath the fallen leaves along the driveway? Here's what's left:
Deer like hostas.
So that leaves the astilbe, which is quite pretty. I'm going to wait until it stops flowering to move it.

Moving on.

I'm having some sleep issues. I haven't had trouble sleeping in a long, long time. But lately I've been conking out super early and then waking up in the middle of the night, WIDE AWAKE. My brain starts spinning and after an hour or so all I can do is get up and get going.

I woke up at 2-ish this morning. Got up at 4-ish. Because it's INSANE to get up before 4 a.m., right?

I'm all caught up with social media, Pinterest, and Craftgawker. I've updated my Daily Mile stats. I worked on an ad and found a YouTube video I'd been looking for and nailed down some information I want to use on Twitter.

It's now 5-ish – I'll probably go watch a little television and knit a bit. Once the sun comes up I'm going to clean the house and finish working on my granddaughter's birthday gifts. And by finish, I mean put them in boxes, wrap them and make her card. For some reason I just want that project to be DONE.

Probably because there are a dozen projects lined up behind it, and I'd like to feel like I've accomplished something, rather than continuing to juggle all those balls.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

June 22 - Growing

Blackberries! We're gonna have lots of them this year, if the birds don't get there first.

Wow, what a long day


I saw so many Facebook posts yesterday humorously referring to the summer solstice, such as "looks like it's gonna be a long day," and "this day goes on and on."

But you know what? It was still just 24 hours, like the one before and like today. I hope you spent yours wisely.

I did not walk. I had a lot of trouble getting motivated to do anything yesterday for some reason. Maybe because the day just stretched e-n-d-l-e-s-s-l-y ahead of me. I finally got outside around noon to work on the perennial beds that line our driveway.

Those large maples in the yard on either side of the driveway drop their leaves, as maples do, and I hadn't yet raked from last fall. I like leaving them there over the winter, offering a bit of protection to the plants. But I gotta be honest, the driveway is the last garden area on my list of beds to tend. Maybe because I don't look at it every day.

At any rate … both sides (about 100 feet from one end to the other, so 200 feet of garden space) are now cleared of leaves. Many wheelbarrows full, dumped along the edge of the "lawn" so that if I need the leaves for compost I can easily retrieve them. Next I need to clear out the weeds to make room for new plants.

The only thing that has survived over the years are day lilies, ornamental grasses and Autumn Joy sedum. When I pulled all those leaves away, I found a tiny hosta with only two leaves and a white astilbe, already flowering. Quelle surprise! I'll probably move both of them to the brick planters in front of the house.

I talked with my friend who owns Groundworks, and we think a combination of grasses, spirea and a low-growing sedum would provide a low-maintenance solution to the problem of now what? I have plenty of creeping sedum around the front yard flower bed and it's spreading like crazy. Free plants! Might as well relocate it from where it doesn't belong, right? Better than just attacking it with a hoe.

At any rate, that was my first-day-of-summer activity. My shoulders and back are a little sore, in a good way, because I don't use those muscles just walking up and down the hills on our road. But I also didn't log any miles. Grrr. I probably could have taken a walk before all that yard work. But I know me, and I know if I had, I wouldn't have done the work. And I was much too tired afterward to walk even one mile.

I did take a walk through the vegetable garden after dinner. The summer squash is beginning to bloom, I picked three more cherry tomatoes and I think the beets have started coming up. They're slow germinators and there are already lots of weeds in that row. I'll have to wait until what I think are beets get a little more mature before I tackle that job. The winter squash is coming along, too, as are the green beans. If I can keep the deer out, this might be a decent garden year.

Have a good, good Sunday. I'm taking a long walk this morning and hope to work on those driveway weeds later today. If I don't … they'll be there tomorrow.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

June 21 - Here I am

Even though my favorite flower color is generally pink, I can't help but feel
cheerful when I see these sunny yellow black-eyed susans!

The longest day

This is it, folks. We now begin the gentle descent into full-on summer – heat, humidity, pop-up thunderstorms, weeds and more weeds.

Hmmm. Sounds a lot like what we've been experiencing for the last week or 10 days.

BUT GLOBAL WARMING IS A HOAX! Oh, and there's no such thing as climate change. <snort>

We had a lovely storm yesterday that dropped four-tenths of an inch of rain on my very thirsty garden. I sat outside as the wind began to push the storm our way. Hershey was nearby; ever since the derecho in 2012 she's been a little nervous during stormy weather.

Once it began raining I left the porch and just watched it pour. The first shower didn't last long, but another one came through and stuck around for a while.

I walked yesterday in the late morning, a little more than six miles. I'm up to 621 miles for the year, which is 130 short of where I should be. OH WELL. Ever since I had that leg cramp Monday I've found that four miles is about my comfort limit. After that my right leg stiffens up. I'm not willing to cut the mileage, however, I just keep walking but at a bit slower pace. My leg doesn't hurt at all when I wake up, but as the day goes on, the soreness returns.

In a couple of years, my neighbor's
sedum border will look as lush and
gorgeous as this. I hope.
What can I say … I'm in my 60s, after all, and most women my age have some aches and pains. That doesn't mean I have to settle for it, it just means I shouldn't be surprised.

After I had some lunch yesterday I grabbed some tools and some plants and a watering can and walked to the neighbor's to spruce up a tiny little spot in her front yard that I promised I would do after her husband died. She has a lovely handmade wooden sign with the name of their farm on it, mounted on fenceposts. I put a hosta in the space under the sign and beneath the posts, with a sedum border all the way around. She's always put annuals in there, but they never do very well. I think this combination will work. Practically zero maintenance, and it'll be there every year.

Aaaaand … that's all I got for today. Happy Summer Solstice to both of you!

Friday, June 20, 2014

June 20 - Yay!

First tomato of the season! Of course, the cherry type matures earlier than the Big Boys.

Happy birthday, West Virginia!

I'm not a native Mountaineer, but my dad was born in Huntington, so I'm halfway there. My husband, who was born 12 miles from our current home, is a full-blooded native son. Hershey was born in Kentucky but we call her a West Virginia Brown Dog anyway.

West Virginia attained statehood on this date 151 years ago. It's a state holiday – county courthouses and state government offices are closed to celebrate West Virginia's independence from the Confederacy.


Yes, it's true, despite the Confederate flags you'll see adorning front pick-up truck bumpers and flying in front yards around here. Virginia was part of the original Confederate states, but union sympathizers in the western part of the state worked valiantly to break away when the Civil War began, finally succeeding – and seceding – in 1863.

The Rev. J.T. McClure offered the state's inaugural prayer 151 years ago:
We pray Thee, almighty God, that this State, born amidst tears and blood and fire and desolation, may long be preserved and from its little beginning may grow to be a might and a power that shall make those who come after us look upon it with joy and gladness and pride of heart.
That didn't exactly happen, now, did it?

I'd love for West Virginia's reputation to grow to meet those lofty expectations, but it hasn't happened yet. We're making progress, certainly, and we have so much to offer. Tourists come for the rivers and mountains and fishing and hunting, but they leave because, while West Virginia is a great place to retire, it's not exactly an area families flock to when looking for job opportunities.

That's changing, though. West Virginia has the 3rd fastest growing economy in the country. That's pretty cool, and if you're on the outside looking in it may be hard to believe. And, frankly, it doesn't much look that way here in the southern part of the state. But some areas are booming – Bridgeport/Clarksburg, Huntington, the Eastern Panhandle – and that's good for the general economic outlook.

We make up for our lack of jobs with an abundance of natural scenic beauty. The West Virginia Hills, one of our four state songs, could have been written about Summers County, where I live. (Honestly? I thought Almost Heaven was the state song when I first moved here. Took them until this year to make that happen!)

I don't know how much longer it will take for the rest of the country to not stereotype West Virginia. You know what I mean, right? I don't have to go into detail. I'm originally from Ohio, and I know how I used to view my neighbor to the south.

When my dad died, in an emergency room in Princeton, WV, one of the nurses comforted me by saying he really must have loved West Virginia, seeing as how he was born here and chose to die just nine miles from the southern border, on his way back to his then-home in Florida.

He really did love this state. And I'm really learning to.

Happy birthday, West Virginia. Montani! Semper! Liberi! Mountaineers are always free!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

June 19 - Habit

Quite possibly the best habit I've ever established for myself: the daily walk.

Dinner – Two of two


Maybe not technically a quiche, because it doesn't have cheese in it and hey, quiche Lorraine – the quintessential quiche – is all about the cheese.

But this one is close enough for paleo purposes.

I decided to adapt the recipe right from the get-go this time, instead of making it as directed the first time. I've made plenty of quiches and frittatas in my day, and felt pretty confident that it would all work out.

The beauty of this version is it has a crust, of sorts. My paleo quiches are crustless, so this was a real treat and not much extra fussing was necessary.

The mandoline made short work of slicing a small white sweet potato, which I layered in the bottom of a tart pan. I then started piling on the ingredients: thinly sliced onions, fresh mushrooms, piles of spinach, cherry tomatoes and browned pork sausage.

A quick turn with the stick blender and the eggs and coconut milk were ready to pour over everything.

Then I edited these photos and began writing this post while it baked.

Verdict? Delicious! Yummy! Definitely will do again.

Maybe even tonight, since today is a fairly busy day and I have everything I need to duplicate it.

Before I get busier ... time to walk. My leg is still sore in a hurt-muscle kind of way, but I walked six miles yesterday and survived, so I've no doubt I can do it again today. Enjoy your day ... I know I will.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

June 18 - Quirky

If a flower can be quirky, then these lilies certainly qualify.
They look like they've been planted upside-down!

Dinner – One of two

So this week is turning out to be hot. Summertime hot. And I've gotten into a summertime routine of getting the must-do stuff done early, so I can lounge around in the heat all afternoon.

On Monday that included walking and laundry and weeding, which are almost daily must-dos. It also included making some mayo and throwing some chicken breasts in the oven to bake so I could make this oh-so-good chicken salad for dinner.

The only thing I added was a handful of quartered cherry tomatoes, because I happened to have them on hand. I wouldn't have minded having a little crunch, and I think next time – and there will be a next time – I'll throw in some chopped pecans.

Thanks again to my husband's cousin,
Vickie, for the gift of Pure Wraps!
Available in limited areas.
I served part of it on a bowl of chopped salad. No dressing needed, but I did mix the greens with a little olive oil. I also stuffed a couple coconut wraps with some of the creamy, delicious chicken salad and they were perfect.

A nice, cool, summertime dinner that was fairly easy to throw together (once the mayo was made and the chicken was cooked), absolutely delicious and completely paleo-friendly.

Let me know if you try it. And, really, you should try it.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


Since my muscles still hurt, and since my sleep was so rudely interrupted, the current walking streak will end at four days. Snort! Time for another day off, one in which I will hydrate with both water (thanks, Jeff!) and vegetable juice. (Jeff left a great comment on my earlier post.)

But I'll be back out there Wednesday, giving it another go. I'd love to get a really long streak going, but apparently I don't really love the idea of it enough to make it happen.

Maybe next year. Heh.

Again. It happened again!

I went to bed and to sleep early last night, as I usually do. I'm definitely a lark. Ben Franklin and I would have gotten along fine. My husband is an owl. Or a teenager, I'm not sure which. He comes to bed well after midnight (so he says) and loves to sleep late in the morning.

I had a post all ready to publish (well, it was in my head and I have pictures!) about last night's dinner, which was DELICIOUS, but it's going to wait another day. Because of this.

I was awakened from a sound sleep around 11:15 p.m. by the most excruciating pain in my right inner thigh, right above my knee. This is either the third or fourth time it's happened in the last two years. It started in late May, 2012.

Dr. Google hasn't done much more research about this condition. Last night the cramping also affected my left leg. When it hits, you literally cannot move your legs, it hurts so bad. I was screaming in pain, but because my husband was on the other side of the house and I had the door shut, he couldn't hear me. I finally managed to grab my phone and call him.

The only thing I could remember from previous online searches was that drinking pickle juice provides almost immediate relief. I asked him ordered him to grab a jar of dills STAT! from the refrigerator on his way to the bedroom. I don't know if the pain would have subsided without the brine, but they were gone within another minute. But they'd been plaguing me for a good four or five, so they might just have run their course.

Back in May of 2012 I wrote that we were going to keep potassium-rich foods and Gatorade on hand. Obviously (being paleo/primalish) I'm not drinking Gatorade (nor have I, not once since then). But we had bananas, so I ate one and tried to go back to sleep.

I was, however, afraid to go back to sleep. Eventually I did, but it took a long, long time. I used my phone to do more investigating and the only information I could find was from forum-type websites that might as well be called Legitimate medical sites talk about blood clots and bulging disks and diabetic neuropathy.

And this ain't none of that.

All I know now – and all I knew then, after the first episode – is that other people experience the same thing and no one seems to know what causes it.

I'm going to be more careful about "personal hydration," as George Carlin liked to call it. I typically don't drink much water, and yesterday was no exception. It was, however, exceptionally warm and humid, and I did chores and walked and worked outside and ran errands from early morning until dinner was done.

Y'all are really sweet about telling me I'm not old. But wow. Do I ever feel it after a night like the last one.

June 17-Peaceful

Baled hay, misty morning, quiet time.

And then there's sunrise. Almost always the most peaceful part of the day.

Monday, June 16, 2014

June 16 - In the shadows

After I played around with the filters, this doesn't at ALL look like it's in the shadows.
But it was. And it was very large, can't imagine what kind of bird dropped it!
Later in the day I shot this, which is a better fit for today's prompt.

It could just be my age, I guess

I'm doing much better the last few days, energy-wise, than I did last week, although I do tumble into bed pretty early. But given that I'm in my 60s and pretty active during the day, I don't think that's anything to worry about. I'll have my thyroid checked in November, when the hospital offers a low-cost screening to the public. If I went now, I'd have to pay full price because I haven't met my deductible.

And I hope I never do. But I guess as one gets older, the likelihood of having something wear out or go wrong increases. For most older American's, it's inevitable.

I believe, however, that if I continue to move my body and nourish it appropriately, I can delay the inevitable. Maybe forever! Heh.

My walking goal is still within reach, even after missing a few days. I need to log 4.575 miles per day, every day, for the rest of the year to get to the magic number, but since five miles seems to be my minimum daily requirement, and I occasionally go six or eight, I can still hit it. And if I don't? Hey, I'm walking a lot more than most 60-somethings. But I don't want to fall into the trap of settling for less.

Yesterday was a very busy day. Here's what got done:
Recycled a too-big pair of
denim capris I used to wear.

  • Walked six miles
  • Trimmed the tomato plants
  • Spread compost around the tomato plants
  • Planted a row of cilantro
  • Planted a partial row of basil
  • Pruned the redbud tree
  • Pruned the blackberry bushes
  • Made a pair of jeans for an American Girl doll
  • Started making a pair of sandals for an American Girl doll
  • Cast on for a knitted t-shirt for an American girl doll
  • Fell into bed at 9 p.m.

We won't talk about what didn't get done.

Yesterday's weather was pretty near perfect. Today will be hotter and more humid, so if I'm going to get anything done outdoors, I'd better get it done earlier rather than later. There's so much to do. It just never ends.

Well, until winter.

Hope your weekend was as productive or restful as you wanted or needed it to be!

Your recent comments have been most welcome. Thanks for taking the time and – for Denise – the extra effort of switching browsers. I appreciate it.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

June 15 - Lovely

Lovely, lovely lilies ... they're all either blooming or about to bloom. And they're all lovely.

But pass the butter

So yesterday I referenced a NYTimes article about sugar and fatty liver disease.

Our copy of Time magazine came in the mail yesterday afternoon, and if you haven't seen news stories about the cover story yet, you must be one of those weird hippies who doesn't watch television.

Because it's been all over the news.

Pop down to your local library to read it, if you don't subscribe. Or heck, go out and buy a copy. Basically it says fat doesn't make you fat.

But it also says that our collective psyche is ingrained with the message that fat is the enemy, and it's going to take a lot of 'splainin' to convince some folks that eating cholesterol doesn't raise cholesterol.

1992: The initial USDA nutrition guidelines graphic.
That food pyramid from the early '90s is toast. Literally! The supporting plank was grains and more grains. And for 20 years prior to that we'd been advised, sans graphics, to avoid fats and oils and red meat, oh my.

The thinking at the time was that folks would replace fatty foods with broccoli and strawberries. Says Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University, "Well, that was naive."

Perhaps. Food manufacturers came to the rescue in the early '80s with an arsenal of low-fat or fat-free cookies, crackers and packaged snacks. And we were reeled in, hook, line and sinker, by the idea that if we just cut out the fat, we'd lose weight and reduce the incidence of heart disease and all would be well. Or, perhaps, Snackwell.

But the replacement for fat was high-fructose corn syrup. Because you can't make fat-free food taste good without some kind of sweetening agent, and HFCS is cheap. Food manufacturers took out fat, but added sugar. And we bought it.

The current USDA recommendations don't even have a spot for fat on the plate. Gingerzingi modified the official graphic from 2011, but I can't find it on her blog. [Update: She has reposted it today. Thanks!] I think I remember that she replaced Dairy with Water, took out the Grains and made Vegetables much larger. Help me out, buddy! I think it must have been from a previous iteration of your blog.

ANYWAY, her revised version is closer to the primal/paleo template I've been eating for more than a year now. I stray from time to time, but the general plan is meat, vegetables, fat and fruit. A little dairy once in a while doesn't seem to affect me. And pasture butter (either made from Amish cream or bought at Tiny Kroger) is definitely part of my diet.

The most powerful quote from the Time article for me is this:
"The argument against fat was totally and completely flawed," says Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatrician at the University of California, San Francisco, and the president of the Institute for Responsible Nutrition. "We traded one disease for another."
Read the article. Make up your own mind. The jury's still out, but as I've said before, we are each our own science experiment. And for me, fat is clearly not the enemy.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

June 14 - Cross

Criss-cross wires = civilization. And also = power outages in bad weather.
But if we buried power lines around here, groundhogs would chew them up!
We're damned if we do and damned if we don't. Heh.

One more reason to avoid processed sugar

An article in today's New York Times is pretty alarming.

The reporter discusses non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, for which there is no treatment other than lifestyle changes – diet and exercise. A more advanced condition, known as nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), wasn't even seen 30 years ago, but now threatens the lives of about 5 million Americans.

What's alarming, in addition to the rapid rise of the condition among children and teens, is this final paragraph of the piece:
“A lot of times when I see a patient with fatty liver,” he said, “the first thing out of their mouth is, ‘Well, is there a pill for this?’ And there’s not. There just isn’t. You have to make lifestyle changes, and that’s a much more difficult pill for people to swallow.”
The desire and willingness on the patient's part to medicate him or herself bothers me a lot. Patients are quoted in the article as saying, "It's hard," referring to giving up sugar and eating more vegetables.

When sugary snacks are cheap and readily available, it is hard, especially for young people. And yet our government subsidizes factory farms and manufacturers of food like substances – you know, the folks who produce high-fructose corn syrup – and makes smaller organic farmers pay extra for the privilege of providing fresh, wholesome, natural food.


I compare it – loosely – to the problem we have here in West Virginia with our political leaders' positions on coal. The major party players are pro-coal and anti-EPA. We have raped our mountaintops in the name of coal, sending sludge into the rivers and valleys and fouling the air. Miners and their families are sick, but where else would they work if it weren't for King Coal?

But those major players continue to fight for those dwindling jobs, just as other politicians in Washington continue to fight for the right of Big Agriculture and Big Food to make their constituents sick. And they encourage Big Pharma to find a treatment (not a cure, oh, no, because a cure would mean eradicating the disease and then who would buy the medicine?) for a condition which can be reversed at no cost.

Well, it would be at some cost to snack-food and soda manufacturers.

Diet and exercise. How often have we heard that lifestyle changes can do more good than a pill in a bottle? It comes down to this:

How invested are we – as a country – in our people?

I would say … sadly … not very.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Nothing to worry about, right?

Friday the 13th.

Full moon.

Nothing could possibly go wrong.

In fact, if the skies are clear this evening, the rising moon could be a spectacular sight. Yet another opportunity for me to wish I'd bought a long lens for the DSLR camera. But those times are rare, and others are much better photographers than I.

I remember one time I wanted to get a shot of a super moon rising over the Appalachian Mountains, which I can see from my back porch. I thought driving to a nearby church cemetery on a hilltop would give me a better view of it, but when I got there it was nowhere to be found in the sky. I'd seen it from the back yard, but less than half a mile away the angle from the hilltop provided no view of it at all.

Weird. Anyway, I'll be checking the sky tonight and hoping to get a glimpses of the Honey Moon. A full moon on Friday the 13th won't happen again in my lifetime unless I live to be 98. I guess that's possible, but as far as I know no one in my family has lived that long, so I'm not counting on it.

I've been feeling … not quite right, lately. My unease is a combination of physical and emotional symptoms including odd and irritating rashes, headaches and crushing fatigue.

If I don't get something done in the morning, for example, when my energy level is at its highest, it doesn't get done. Like dinner. Forget dinner. Last night I told my husband how to cook sausage links on the George Foreman grill. (He is definitely domestically challenged.) I ate a bowl of watermelon, which I'd cut up earlier in the day.

Thank the goddess, or I would have gone to bed without any supper at all.

As it was, I watched the 6:30 p.m. headlines and was in bed and asleep by 7. I woke up at 6:30 this morning. I'm physically ready to get some things done, but the emotional part of me says it can wait until later.

Malaise. Fatigue. Depression? Maybe. I've nothing to be depressed about, but that's not stopped me before. Endogenous depression (diagnosed by my doctor) has plagued me at various times in my life, but only once have I taken medication for it. And even then, I didn't take it for very long. It made me feel … flat. In the end, the downs were worth it, because I also had ups. On medicine, I had neither.

As I told a friend recently, my motto used to be, "If you're not living on the edge, you're taking up too much space." I don't live by that credo any longer, but I do like a little excitement now and then. It can be as simple as noticing the green beans are coming up in the garden (they are!), or as thrilling as watching a full moon rising.

On Friday the 13th.

June 13 - Simply

Simply lovely – dill heads popping up all over the place!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

June 12 - Pastel

Garden phlox. On the plant, it's pastel pink. When cut and placed in water,
the colors mute and become purple centers and lavender petals.

June 12-Pastel

Pink! But they turned lavender when I cut a stem and put them in a little vase of water.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

June 11 - The Beginning

The beginning of so many projects and posts – that old blank page.

Nothing like an Eric Cantor defeat …

to improve your mood.

Yes, I know a Tea Party guy beat him and yes, I know it doesn't look good for the general election in November. That district (VA-07) is heavily Republican and has been gerrymandered to make it, um, mostly white. There's no other way to say it.

So the Democratic challenger – an unknown colleague of Cantor's primary opponent – has his work cut out for him.

Which means Virginia Democrats also have their work cut out for them.

Last night, though, when I first heard the news, I was grinning from ear to ear, and the only thing raining on my parade was rain.

Real rain. Lots of it. Good-for-the-garden rain. More than half an inch!

So the November elections in next-door Virginia just got verrrrry interesting. I'm hoping we'll learn that lots of Democrats crossed over to vote against Cantor and will go back in November to turn VA-07 BLUE. (Virginia voters enjoy open primaries.)

If that's not how it happened, this country is in worse trouble than I thought, because it shows just how polarized we are. And it will be a long time before we come to our senses. When Hillary takes the oath in 2016, all the racists will turn into sexists. If the House is still controlled by Republicans, she will face the same obstructionism my President has had to deal with.

It won't be pretty.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

June 10 - Flying

Borrowing an image from my granddaughter, who has more patience than I do
at capturing bees in flight. She has quite an artistic eye.

I'm not as young as I used to be

Nor are any of us, obviously.

My Sunday began early, after a somewhat sleep-deprived Saturday night, and ended late, as I knew it would. It was a long day of driving, driving, driving, lunch, long meeting, driving, driving, driving. The second driving part was fun because I had the company of a real live adult who talks (unlike my husband, who is more, um, contemplative when we're traveling together). The morning drive went fine because I caught up on the Moth. (My husband's contemplation isn't enhanced by podcasts when we're traveling together.)

The lunch was basically make-your-own sub sandwiches accompanied by cole slaw and cookies. How very not paleo. I skipped the bun, naturally, and ate lots of processed meat, something I'm not used to at all. Another member of our group has also been following a more natural, gluten-free diet and we agreed we did the best we could.

Both of us were ill yesterday.

I'd love to, sometimes, go back to my younger days when I could bounce back easily from a long day of stress and bad food.

I think those days are, sadly, behind me.

Feeling better today, my goal will be to walk and work outdoors, a repeat of Saturday. I hope your day goes well for each of you!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Sunday, June 8, 2014

June 8 - T is for

tea! Iced tea with Sunday lunch.

Swing … and a miss

Missed my 35-mile goal by three this week. Yes, I could go out right now, and I thought about it. But I'm really not very awake.

I'll be on the road for much of the day, and there will be no opportunity to work it in later. But it's fine. I'm more than a little compulsive about this, wouldn't you say? Heh.

It's been a good week, all in all, even missing a couple days of walking. Food has been fine, and I'm accomplishing a few little outdoor projects that have been on my list. The garden is completely weeded unless something has popped up overnight.

I started cleaning out the perennial beds lining the driveway yesterday – a HUGE job and one that will take several days to complete. But the nice thing about starting is the gratification I get from looking at the cleaned-out section, and looking forward to seeing all of it done and ready to plant.

I also cut back some kind of shrub that was blocking our view of oncoming traffic as we exited the driveway … wouldn't want to pull out in front of a horse and buggy! I have a grand plan for the whole sloping area to the left of the driveway. It constantly needs to be cut back, so I'd like to put down a cardboard kill mulch this fall and then plant sedum (which I can dig up from other areas of the yard – yay! Free plants!) and let it spread. I have some zebra grasses at the top of the slope which are teeny tiny now, but will be lovely when they mature.

Three areas remain that need lots of attention, and one is the herb bed, which I can barely force myself to look at. It was so pretty when I planted it, and it's such a mess now. The others are a tiny bed of peonies which needs to be weeded and the blackberries need a major cutting back. The old canes are growing every which way and the flowers are on the new growth, so I don't think I'll hurt anything by chopping them.

What I'm finding with all this yard work is that I absolutely CAN do a couple hours' of hard labor AND take a long walk AND do laundry/fix meals/clean the house/go shopping ALL on the same day. That couldn't and didn't happen 46 pounds ago. More incentive to keep doing what I've been doing.

Here's to a good week coming up – for all of us!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

June 7 - Pattern

Knitting patterns – one of three shelves full. But there used to be five, so I'm getting better.

Friday, June 6, 2014

June 6 - Adventure

Adventures in gardening! Dill is popping up all over the place, and I didn't plant it.

Time for an update

I've been working on Yet Another Doll from a pattern in one of Vogue's "On the Go" series of books. I've made many of these dolls, and they all seem to be well-received. This one is going to a little miss who was born three months ago … it's not like I didn't know she was on the way. But it'll be a nice little surprise well after the initial welcome-baby gifts have been opened.

I'm using an easy-on-mama machine-washable cotton-wool blend. I hope to finish the project tonight and deliver it this weekend.

National Running Day was Wednesday, and I meant to post then but the days just kind of get away from me when I'm not NaBloPoMo-ing. It's been a nice break, actually, this posting-when-I-feel-like-it instead of posting daily.

I missed a couple days of walking/running when I was in Nashville last weekend, so in order to make the 1500-mile goal for the year I'm back to needing 4.5 miles every day the rest of the year. Just to make things easier, I'm trying to log 35 miles per week. Since I'm pretty sure I won't be able to add any miles Sunday – I have to be in Huntington for lunch, which is a three-hour trip, one way – I'm taking longer walks this week. I ran/walked Wednesday and yesterday and felt great! I didn't use my interval trainer, but instead just walked up the hills and ran down. Also ran most of the flat spots, of which there are very few on my road. I had some pretty decent splits – a couple of sub-12-minute miles both days.

The only food I've been able to harvest so far – it is early, after all – has been one Egyptian onion and a few herbs. The cilantro and dill self-seeded over the winter, again, and I'm finding it everywhere and letting it grow. Last year I pulled the dill whenever I found it, thinking that would eliminate the surprises this spring, but clearly dill grows like Topsy.

I've added a row of Italian green beans and one of beets to the garden. The winter squashes have started coming up and the summer squashes are leafing out nicely. I had trouble with squash bugs last time I tried planting zucchini, so I'm going to start spraying Safer (an organic product) sooner rather than later.

I'm still eating a paleo/primal template and holding my own with my weight. The latest addition to my eating plan has been fresh juice, which is definitely not something the paleo crowd recommends, but oh well. It's still fresh food and we found a juicer at a great price. I've only used it a couple times so far, and the juices have been delicious and filling.

I'd love to be losing some weight, but so far maintaining is as good as it gets. Which, YAY! Staying the same weight for months on end might be boring but I haven't been able to do it for any length of time until now. Maybe adding some running intervals regularly and frequently will kickstart the losing process. As I've mentioned before, feeling good about the loss so far and looking/feeling good in smaller-sized clothes isn't much of an incentive to lose more. The swimsuit shopping expedition helped quite a bit, though. I felt almost as uncomfortable as I did during the Christmas season of 2012.

Whatever it takes. Apparently I respond more to pain than to pleasure. I'd love it if wearing smaller sizes would encourage me to work harder so I could wear even smaller sizes. I'd love it if wanting to reach a normal BMI was all I needed. But noooooo. It appears I need a negative – swimsuit shopping being the most recent – as an incentive.

There's not much more I can do with diet, which is why I've upped the intensity and distance of my daily outings. I still haven't made the rowing machine a habit, and I'll always have trouble disciplining myself to lift weights – even tiny little ones that don't take much time at all. Why IS that? I want Gingerzingi's enthusiasm about weight training.

I miss updating the blog daily, I really do. But I'm getting a little more stuff done than I did when I spent my mornings on my ass in front of a screen. And when it's really warm, I'll be out there walking and running and sweating, oh my, instead of wrangling the keyboard and spitting out sentences.

I've added handwritten letters to the writing discipline, so far about once a week to my younger granddaughter. She looks forward to receiving mail, and she promised to write back. It's been quite fun so far.

So you're all caught up now. I'm still here, still committed to knitting, running, reaping and eating, and still writing. Just not as frequently. Which is a probably a good thing for all of us!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

June 5 - 11:00

I was walking at 11 a.m. And since 11 a.m. is the only 11:00 I see, that's what you get!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014