Thursday, December 31, 2015

The end …

of 2015.

I've contemplated ending the blog. I've been writing (less frequently, lately, but still writing) here or on Shrinking Knitter since January 10, 2006. TEN YEARS OF DRIVEL!

And if you click through to that very first blog post, I don't look a whole lot different now then I did then. So I guess it didn't help much at all over the long run.

During the last 10 years, though, I did manage to

  • lose a bunch of weight (and gain it back, as we serial dieters are wont to do), 
  • run three half-marathons, 
  • get married, 
  • bury my father,
  • more than triple the number of grandchildren I had when I started blogging, and 
  • celebrate my 25th year of sobriety.

Among other things.

My focus today, and for the coming year, will be on regaining my mobility and improving my health. My top post from this year was January 25, in which I was recovering from some kind of stomach bug. I mentioned that I hoped taking a rest day might mean no more right-hip pain.

I think that's called foreshadowing. Although it never occurred to me that the pain would land me in a surgical unit almost a year later.

I see the surgeon for the final pre-op appointment a week from today. Soon, it will be the end of pain and not walking and feeling more than a little bit sorry for myself. I really can't wait.

Apropos of nothing at all, other than
my friend Lynne surprised me with
an Eiffel Tower ornament yesterday,
and I want to show it off!
Thoughtful, meaningful, lovely.
One of the 2015 goals was to log, partnering with one other person, 2015 miles. We were able to exceed that number, but only because I was allowed to count every step recorded by the FitBit, and not just the intentional walking miles. My goal at the beginning of the year was to do 100 miles/month. I came up a wee bit short. If I get another mile today, I'll have averaged 99 miles/month.

I'd like to set that goal again for 2016, knowing that January and at least part of February will be busts. Since my surgeon assured me I'd be able to walk 100 miles a DAY if I wanted to, following the hip replacement, I think I can at least set the goal, knowing it will take a lot of work later in the year to make up for missed miles the first two months.

I've missed taking daily photographs, something I did when I walked, and so my friend Vickie and I started the Leap Year Photo Challenge. Jump in if you like! We have a blog and a Facebook page and the only real "rule" is to use the hashtag #leapyearphotochallenge when you post your photos.

The other goal – perpetual, never-ending, omnipresent – is to get to a healthy weight and STAY there. Regaining the ability to exercise without pain will certainly help.

Gingerzingi likes to say we're all our own science experiments. I've proven to myself that I need to move that body in order to maintain and lose weight. I have spent an awful lot of time the second half of this year resting, since lying down is really the only way I can be pain-free.

Soon enough, I'll be moving this body and logging miles and taking pictures. In the meantime … happy new year! What are your goals/intentions/resolutions for 2016? Other than to remember to write a 6 instead of a 5?

Monday, December 28, 2015

Three …

Three weeks from today I'll be prepping for the hip surgery. I have a few thoughts this week between holidays …

  • I'm grateful that what's wrong with me can be fixed. 
  • I'm grateful for a financial cushion which makes the expenses for this procedure possible.
  • I'm grateful for the Affordable Care Act. Although insurance companies are still making a profit from human illness (which I think is wrong), my expenses for this procedure are not out of reach.
  • I'm grateful for the ability – still – to clean my house, cook food, do laundry. All of these things take more time than they used to, so …
  • I'm grateful for patience and willingness to work with what I have, instead of feeling frustrated about my loss of mobility.

I also have a few wishes:

  • I wish everyone who is in pain would find relief.
  • I wish everyone facing surgery has a successful outcome.
  • I wish everyone who has a much more serious illness or condition will find comfort and peace.

I'm so lucky. Generally I dismiss people who say "it could be worse," because each person's situation is unique to them.

But … it could be worse.

Looking ahead to next weekend, my friend Vickie and I have come up with a Leap Year Photo Challenge. She did all the prompts and created the website. I did the graphics. We're a team!

If you found a camera under the Christmas tree, or if your new phone's camera is still a mystery, we invite you to join the fun!

And with that … I'm having a new kitchen faucet and garbage disposal installed today. Whatever I need to do that requires water needs to be done prior to the start of the project. So I'd better get moving!

Slowly …

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Four weeks

On Sunday, January 17, I'll be admitted and anticipating the insertion of a new hip joint the next day.

When last we met, our new treadmill had just been assembled and I'd given it a trial run. I did fine that first day. I've used it three times since then and, well, maybe it's just not the thing to do. I haven't hurt myself, but I definitely exhaust myself. It's quite astonishing how much it takes out of me.

And even though it's very gentle and slow, I'm so stiff and sore afterward that I can barely move from one position (lying down, for instance) to another (upright).

My walking goal for the year was 1200 miles. According to FitBit, which converts every step to miles, not just the intentional let's-go-for-a-walk ones, I'm very close. At the end of the day yesterday, I'd logged enough steps to equal 1177.69 miles for the year. With 12 days to go, I need only a couple miles a day to reach 1200.

But a normal, non-treadmill day often yields less than a mile. So … what will be, will be, and while I won't shy away from everyday activities, I won't be hopping on the treadmill.

As you may have noticed, I'm having trouble blogging. I've been all about fitness and weight loss since the beginning, and since neither are happening right now, I'm kind of at loose ends. Yes, I still knit. But I'm choosing easy, mindless projects that don't need much brain power. While I love dreaming about intricately cabled sweaters or wraps, I'm actually working on simple caps (two gifts recently completed!) and a garter stitch poncho (for myself).

I worked on one of those caps while watching The Skeleton Twins yesterday (currently available on Amazon Prime). It's a quirky, funny, bittersweet story. I couldn't tell you who the actors are. But I've watched it twice now, and liked it both times. So there's that.

And with that … another journal entry is in the books. I'll be back when something interesting or exciting or blog-worthy happens.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Five weeks from today

If all goes as planned – schedule doesn't change, insurance agrees to pay, surgeon and patient are both present for the procedure – I will have a new hip joint on Martin Luther King day.

Which is, as noted in today's post title, five weeks from today.

Christmas came early for us, with the delivery and assembly of a new treadmill. We literally wore our old one out. You could smell something electrical going on when you walked on it. I'm kind of proud of us for not turning it into a clothes hanger (which would have been kind of hard to do, since it wasn't in the bedroom).

Seriously. How many people do you know who have worn out a treadmill?

Anyway. I decided to try it out yesterday. I don't feel safe walking on the road, and it hurts too much to do that anyway. I figured if walking on the treadmill hurt, I could get off and have a seat on the nearby comfy couch. And I figured holding on to the handrails would give me some extra stability.

Yes, I know you burn fewer calories when you hold on. Burning calories isn't the point of the exercise at this time. Staying mobile is.

My goal was half an hour at 2 mph. Which is laughable compared to some of my epic treadmill workouts of the past. I remember running seven miles on it when it was too icy outside to do a training run for my first half-marathon. SEVEN. MILES.

No matter. I did it.

And then I sat down on the nearby comfy couch, with my knitting, and watched Love Actually.

Christmas can come any time now. Heh.

Well, maybe not. I have some food things to do, and some wrapping and mailing to do. The longest-distance packages will go out today. The rest will go tomorrow. The food things will happen sometime this week, while I still have a wee bit o'freezer space.

And the countdown to January 18 continues.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

It's a date!

Continuing the surgery saga, yesterday was my first appointment with the surgeon. He answered all my husband's and my questions thoroughly, was very reassuring, offered non-surgical options, and completely allayed my concerns about having a total hip replacement done.

This is not a minor procedure, but he's done thousands of them and, as he said, once the knife goes in, it's "all business." He took a lot of time with me, much more than I expected. My husband and I both left feeling reassured that we'd made an informed decision, and the best one for me.

There are two non-surgical options. One is using a cane and continuing to have pain until I can't stand it any more. I'm already there.

He also said we could try cortisone injections in the joint, but he allowed that since I'm at stage 4 as far as loss of cartilage goes (that's the end of the line), injection therapy wouldn't last long or provide much relief.

I go for pre-op testing and X-rays January 7, and surgery will take place Monday, January 18.

I feel as though a yuuuuuuge weight has been lifted. There's plenty of time to prepare and learn more about what to expect. One thing we were specific about was the length of time for the surgery. Without hesitation he said 35 minutes from time of incision until closure. The less time, the better, as you reduce the opportunity for blood clots and infection.

I can expect to be in the hospital two to three days, although some patients go home the following day, and no rehab hospital time is expected, which was a complete surprise. Being somewhat competitive, I'd absolutely like to go home the next day. Heck, I'd go home the same day if it was possible!

The only physical therapy he mentioned was in-hospital, post-surgery, which was another complete surprise. I'm going to push for at least some post-op PT, in order to have the best opportunity to regain full range of motion.

The worst news from the appointment, but something I already knew, was that my running days are over. An artificial hip joint is something you really need to take care of. No running. No ladders without assistance. No risks, basically, that might end up with a broken leg, hip or pelvis.

But he said I could walk "a hundred miles a day" if I wanted to.

I can't wait!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Tomorrow, tomorrow!

The wait is nearly over. My first appointment with the surgeon is tomorrow at 1:30 in the afternoon. I can't ever remember being so excited about a visit to the doctor.

Everything I've heard from everyone I've talked to, as well as my own experience with this surgeon (he set my mother-in-law's broken arm several years ago) is good good good. The only caveat I've heard is that you will spend a long time in the waiting room. My 1:30 appointment is likely to be 2:30 or later.

Whatevs. We'll deal with it.

So what I've learned about myself is that a busy day is followed by a not-busy day. I'm still wearing my FitBit One, but it hasn't been tracking accurately lately. What's sad is I don't really much care. You can see, though, by this chart, that rest days follow active days, and that's just the way it is.
The 10,000-step-per-day goal has not been met in many months. Oh, well!
My husband and I gave ourselves a treadmill for Christmas, however, and I'm going to attempt very slow walking on it after we get it set up. Our old one began emitting a burning electrical odor when we used it, and in the interest of safety and not burning down our garage, we took it to a recycling center that accepts just about everything. Including burned-out treadmills.

That machine lasted a very long time, though, so we bought the same brand – a Pro-Form – which worked well for us. We are not runners (sad face), and the less-than-stellar reviews point out that this piece of equipment is not suitable for running. So yay! I think.

I continue to add meals to the freezer. I probably have a month's worth stockpiled at this point. I rarely cook just one meal now – it's just as easy to cook twice as much and put the extra away for the future.

If only I could clean the house once and have it stay clean until I'm back to normal. Ah, well. First-world problem. I'm getting a new hip joint … that's a pretty amazing thing that still doesn't happen in much of the world. Best to be grateful.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Hitting the RACK

Wow, where has this year gone?

Time to flip the calendar page to the last one of the year. For many – and especially for children – the traditional advent calendar becomes a focal point of the day. Let the countdown begin!

Putting my personal spiritual beliefs aside, I'm getting on the countdown bandwagon this year for the simple reason that I'm far too focused on myself, my pain, and my lack of mobility. It's all about me-me-me here in the Middle of Nowhere, and that's not what the Christmas spirit is all about.

A friend posted a Random Acts of Christmas Kindness Advent Calendar yesterday on Facebook. I saved the link, had a look, and while I may not be able to do something kind every day, I'm going to give it the old geriatric try.

There are three calendar options. One is for the entire month, in case you want to go crazy with kindness. One is blank, so you can fill in each day's kindness as you accomplish it. The third has 24 suggestions, one for each day leading up to Christmas.

The blog is kid-centric, but the ideas are adaptable if you don't have children at home. If you do, though, I think it would be a great way to help youngsters learn that doing for others warms two hearts.

I also printed out a coloring advent calendar. I e-mailed it to each of my young grandchildren, and then decided I'd do one, too. I haven't jumped on the adult coloring bandwagon, but I definitely see the value in it. It's in the same category as knitting garter stitch (which is what my current project is) – repetitive, soothing, mindless, and creative.

Perfect for getting out of one's own head.

Today's Random Act of Christmas Kindness is "Give a compliment to a friend."

My friend and sister from another mother, Gingerzingi, along with her husband, hosted his mother last week. If you're a regular reader of her blog, you'll know Mother-in-Law Week can be fraught with anxiety and resentment. Her account of their activities and interactions this year were very different. Gingerzingi has been doing a lot of personal "work," and it really showed, in a less stressful, more pleasant visit. So … whatever you're doing, G, it's working! And your example – of empathy, understanding, and kindness – is one I'm following. Thank you.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Thanks

This isn't really a Thanksgiving post, but it could be.

I appreciate your very kind and supportive comments from my previous post here. I'm very grateful you took the time to comment AND to prop me up. I needed that!

I spent some time with a friend Sunday who has gone through the entire hip replacement procedure. She spent a long time in pain before she decided to have the surgery, and offered many many MANY helpful tips to make life easier in the weeks I will have to wait.

The most important thing she said, though, was that pain makes you crabby. Constant, chronic pain wears you down. Reducing pressure on my right leg will reduce the pain. Therefore, I present to you my new BFF:
I was loathe to begin walking with a cane, but after Dr. Google explained how to use it properly (you hold the cane on the good side and advance it along with your bad leg to reduce pressure), I can already see that it's a useful tool.

But still. I'm too young to walk with a cane!

Then again, I guess I'm not. If it helps reduce the pressure/pain, and helps prevent a fall, which would be a seriously bad event, then I'll use it.

I'm still in the practice stage. Until I learn how to manage it and a bag and my keys and and and, I'll probably just be very, very careful when I'm out in public. I seriously think there's more risk of falling with a cane when I'm juggling stuff than without it.

Pretty soon, though, I'll be shaking it at you and telling you to get off my lawn.

Oh, yes, I will.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Failing MISERABLY

I really didn't realize how much walking improved my mood until I couldn't walk any more.

Here's the thing: I NEED to lose some weight before I have this hip surgery. The surgery will be less complicated and the recovery will go more smoothly if I weighed less.

My excuses are all good ones:

  • NO exercise – don't believe what you read about exercise not being a factor in weight loss.
  • Along with that, those endorphins aren't getting released and I'm in a funky mood most of the time.
  • I'm bored, bored, bored – and I eat when I'm bored.
  • Motrin relieves my pain better than anything else, but makes my stomach hurt.
  • Eating makes my stomach not hurt.

Maybe they're not such good excuses, but they're the ones I'm using, to my detriment.

My future physical therapist, who also is a friend, tried to reassure me that the repair will work and I'll be raring to go, once the recovery period is over. I have, maybe, used that as an excuse as well. Delay, delay, delay … hey! She's a professional!

At any rate … something needs to change. I have to rest a lot (to minimize the pain). But I don't have to rest and eat snacks.

I just had breakfast half an hour ago. My stomach is growling. What would you do?

GRRRRRRRR.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

9,131

Nine thousand one hundred thirty-one days divided by 365 equals
Today is a milestone in my sobriety – I've now been sober for as many years as I drank.

(You can read my story here. I've been marking this occasion on this or my previous blog for nine years now, and it's easier for both of us to just point you to the first time I told it.)

In meetings, when you announce a sobriety "birthday," you're often asked, "How'd you do it?" And my answer always has been, "One day at a time." 

I have to admit that this birthday seems a teensy bit more significant. Evening out the drunk days with the sober ones is something to think about. It's … a moment.

But it's just one moment among many. 

I'm not the same person I was at 14, when I had my first drink, or at 39, when I had my last one. I'm not perfect now, none of us are. I've learned a lot about myself along the way, most importantly this: I can't do life alone. 

Sometimes I need you, and sometimes you need me. Twenty-five years of sobriety has given me the gift of community. I'm no longer on that island of stubborn independence, spiraling downward and afraid to ask for help, although it's still sometimes difficult to request assistance.

Will I ever get over that? I guess the upcoming surgery experience will provide some answers.

What I have overcome – and I can honestly say this – is the feeling that you don't need me. I have gifts to give; we all do. Staying sober has allowed me to be generous with them. 

Thank you for reading. Thank you for being a part of my real or on-line life. Thank you for helping me stay sober for 25 years … one day at a time.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A not-surgery post

Anyone not comatose knows by now that right-wing nuts and fundamental Christians (which may be the same thing, but I'm not sure) are mad at Starbucks. A crazy preacher did a YouTube video suggesting we all tell our baristas our name is "Merry Christmas" so she or he would have to write it on the ombré red but otherwise unadorned cup.

Because a red cup with a green logo isn't Christmas-y enough for him.

Well, you don't get to be a billionaire by encouraging the populace to buy stuff from a company you don't like. So Donald Trump has upped the ante by saying this:
“Maybe we should boycott Starbucks. I don’t know,” he said. “Seriously, I don’t care.”
Maybe Starbucks should roll out a new cup design with baby Jesus in a manger on it, and start a REAL war on Christmas. Whichever cup sells better wins.

Which really means Starbucks would win, if winning means making a huge profit on already overpriced hot beverages. 'Cause you know everyone will flock to the one on their corner for a Gingerbread Peppermint Whatever to show whose side they're on.

I mean, I have friends who went to Starbucks for a red cup of the devil's brew yesterday who would otherwise be perfectly happy supporting the local roasted beanery – or drinking home-brewed.

And you know how lazy Democrats are when it comes to voting. [Insert heavy sigh here.] I guess not voting with your dollars, though.

Trump also said:
“If I become president, we’re all going to be saying, ‘Merry Christmas’ again. That I can tell you.”
Well, guess what? No one is telling you not to say 'Merry Christmas.' Even if your employer tells you 'Happy Holidays' is the company policy, the boss isn't going to be standing over your shoulder every time you ring up someone's Made-in-China crap.

Wish someone well. But don't stop at Christmas. Actions speak louder than words. If you really want to bless someone during the holidays …
  • Donate to a local food bank.
  • Adopt a needy child from an angel tree.
  • Leave a huge tip for your busy waiter or waitress. And your hotel maid.
  • Leave caps and scarves in an area of your town where they might be picked up and used.
Those are just a few ideas to get you started. What else can you think of that would bless someone during this most wonderful time of the year? (The jury's out on that one, by the way.)

Merry Christmas.

Friday, November 6, 2015

In preparation …

If you're following along, you know that after months of painful walking, I stopped in July, saw a doctor in August, and have finally made an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon to begin the process of fixing my right hip, which is currently cartilage-free. Sometime next year I'll be having a total hip replacement.

In a previous post, I had set a date of November 1 to go back to primal eating. So far, I've only been able to eliminate sugar. And that's all I'm going to do, most likely until I'm completely recovered. Meal preparation is just easier if I can include dairy, legumes and grains. Sugar is my opiate, adds no nutritional value to my diet, and is physically – if not mentally – easy to ditch.

I've been thinking about how to make that recovery period a little easier on my husband. He's more than willing to do whatever it takes and offer whatever I need, but I'm the chief cook and bottle-washer around here. I've been exploring the idea of preparing a bunch of freezer meals, and yesterday I got down to work, turning these:

into this:


There are now six individual and two large chicken pot pies, labeled and wrapped in my freezer. And one for tonight's dinner in the refrigerator.

Today's job will be to make a vat of chicken-and-rice soup with the rest of the chicken meat. I only used the white meat for the pot pies.

What's kind of silly about this is that we never eat pot pies. I may have made it one other time during our marriage. But the recipe looked good and it will certainly be easy for my husband to pop them in  the oven.

And that's what I'm looking for: EASY.

Other freezable meals on my list are ham-and-cheese quiche, vegetable soup, and chili (which I will freeze in gallon-sized bags and store flat to save freezer space – that's your handy-dandy tip du jour). I'd love other suggestions, if you have any. Leave a comment!

I think you can surmise that keeping grains, legumes, and dairy on the menu will make this whole freezer meal project a lot simpler. (See that line above about looking for easy.) We don't eat a lot of pasta, so I wasn't planning to do a big mac-and-cheese casserole, but I might. I'm thinking I might need a little comfort food disguised as dinner once I get back home.

At any rate … the ball is rolling. I picked up my X-rays yesterday to take with me to the surgeon. I'm looking into the best health insurance plan for 2016. I often say I don't want to wish my life away, but I wouldn't really mind if the next few months kind of flew by.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The surgery saga

You've been through the denture adventure with me, so how about hip surgery? Any takers?

Yesterday was The Beginning. My husband and I have been mulling over possibilities, and decided that waiting until I'm eligible for Medicare – May, 2016 – was too far out. My mobility is sooooo limited and the pain is sooooo ever-present, that we really do need to take care of this sooner rather than later.

We've talked with several friends who've gone through joint replacements – one benefit of getting old is that at least some in your circle of acquaintances will have first-hand experience – and one doctor's name came up repeatedly as The One.

I first called my insurance company to make sure he was in network. And then I called the surgeon's office and made an appointment. He's booked until December. 

So he must be good, amirite?

My initial consultation will be December 8. I explained to the staff person I didn't want the surgery until early next year, and she seemed to think I wouldn't be able to schedule anything sooner anyway.

So I'm officially in the hip-replacement surgical pipeline. The saga begins.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The month I met two Presidents

So it's been quite a month for this Democrat.

I'm pretty sure everyone knows by now that President Clinton came to West Virginia early in October and President Obama was here last Wednesday. I attended both events, and had "a moment" with each of them.

And I still can't quite believe it.

I want to record it here so I never forget it. You never know when Alzheimer's is going to hit. Heh.

The annual West Virginia Democratic fundraiser – the Jefferson-Jackson dinner – was held October 2, and President Clinton was the keynote speaker. Our county executive committee had selected our Outstanding Democrat of the Year, but she was unable to attend, so the committee voted to send me instead.

Am I a happy girl! You bet!
After what had happened at the WVFDW Annual Meeting the previous weekend, I wasn't sure how it would go, but I'd never been in the same room with President Clinton, so I was happy to represent my county.

I had a fabulous time, in the end, and when the event was over I went to the front of the room to talk with a friend. Who was standing at the VERY front of the room and urged me to "hurry, come here, quick!" Because President Clinton was coming down the "rope line," shaking hands and taking selfies with anyone who wanted one.

What. A. Thrill.

I didn't know until the night before President Obama's visit that my name was on the guest list. That friend in the President Clinton selfie? Her husband arranged for my ticket. (THANK YOU, TIM!) She didn't know she was going to be in the audience until the morning of the event. And of course, dropped everything to be there.

There were others from my town going, so I rode with them. I sat in the back of the room, breathing the same air as the President of the United States, for almost two hours, with no hope of meeting him. One of my friends texted me and said to come to the front of the room when the forum began winding down.

Another rope line.

No selfies this time, but … pictures were taken.
Waiting to get in. My friend's
husband arranged for my ticket.
We got to keep our tickets!
On. A. Cloud.
My favorite picture from the day. Totally unexpected shot. 
President Obama was in West Virginia to learn about our prescription opioid problem. West Virginia's death-by-overdose rate tops the nation's. I left the event thinking maybe, maybe this time something will be done. Over and over and over, the words "we need more treatment" were spoken. The Charleston, WV, chief of police said, "We can't arrest our way out of this problem."

Given my volunteer work at a federal prison camp, in which the majority of inmates are drug-addicted, I was most impressed by his attitude.

So October has turned out to be a pretty good month for a political junkie.

I'm approaching a significant sobriety milestone in a couple of weeks. It's simply astonishing to look back on my life and see that I've gone from a hopeless, helpless, poor excuse for a human being, to a woman who tries to give back, savor the moment, and be the person I was meant to be. I'm so grateful to be alive, grateful to know the people I know, grateful for both of you who still read this sadly neglected blog.

Thanks for indulging me.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Breakfast of Champions

A tiny serving of apple crisp
to start my morning off today.
Okay, not really.

I told myself (and you, I think) that I was going to get back on that primal horse and whip my nae-nae back into shape before the hip surgery.

Well, that hasn't happened. Probably because I don't have an actual date for the hip surgery.

I work better on deadline. Heh.

Which isn't really true.

Here's what's really going on in my head these days.

Back when I did my first Whole 30 and lost a bunch of weight, I also felt better. The result of eliminating grains, sugar, dairy and legumes wasn't just a lower number on the scale. It was reduced inflammation and more energy and a general feeling of well-being.

Because I now know that my hip pain is not related to food, but is instead a cartilage deficiency, I'm more than slightly less inclined to eliminate all those things that taste good.

Pass the cheese, please.

I still want to lose weight. I still actually need to lose weight. The less extra lard the surgeon has to cut through to replace that hip joint, the better for both of us.

So I'm going to approach this project as if I were quitting smoking. I'm setting a date, winding down, gearing up, working on my head before I settle in to work on my body.

Here's the thing: Not walking, facing surgery, being in pain all the freaking time – it wears you down emotionally. It saps your energy. It makes you just not care all that much. Grabbing something easy trumps making something from scratch every damned time.

Eating primally takes a lot more work than grabbing a sandwich. I know at least one of you who agrees with me. I can think of other ways I'd like to spend my time than standing at the kitchen counter prepping food.

Like … resting.

But I stood at the kitchen counter most of the morning yesterday, processing a half-bushel of apples, AND I LIVED.  (A paleo apple coffee cake, two gallons of non-paleo apple pie filling, four quarts of sugar-free, cinnamon-spiced applesauce, and a pan of apple crisp – not paleo.)

So I'll build on that small success and plan the plans to get back to more cooking, less snacking.

My husband's birthday is tomorrow, and I'm surprising him with his favorite decadent, delicious, cheesy, creamy onion soup. I'm also making a blackberry cobbler (instead of cake) – another surprise. His gift of several books came in the mail already, so the only way to mark the occasion is with food, amirite?

I'm shooting for November 1 to get back to paleo for good. Maybe not a strict Whole 30, which eliminates paleo-fied concoctions, but definitely ditching grains, sugar, dairy and legumes.

In the meantime, apple crisp makes a lovely breakfast. Maybe not the breakfast of champions in the title, but at least the breakfast of what happens to be handy that doesn't need to be cooked.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Time for a reset

I've announced the intention out loud and in writing to a few people that I need to do another Whole 30.

Intending and doing aren't exactly the same thing.

I have a big dinner to go to tomorrow night. I'm not sure what's on the menu – in fact, I'm not even sure I'll get to eat. As my county's Democrat of the Year, I'll be in a long line for a long time, waiting to be introduced. Last time this happened, there wasn't much food left by the time I found my seat at a table again.

So if I don't get dinner, that can be part of a fast. According to an article at Mark's Daily Apple, fasting is a good way to get back on a primal track.

The article also mentions walking. And I've been thinking about this. My hip hurts, all the time, but I've been assured I can't do any more damage to it than what has already been done. So why not take a short walk two or three times a week? Not the daily four-milers I used to do … but a mile? I could try that, and see how bad the pain is afterward.

I need to do something to get back on track, and to lose some weight before the surgery. So I'm putting it out here. The most successful I've been at dropping pounds and feeling good/healthy/energetic as an adult have been when I've followed a paleo/primal plan. It may not be for you. But it's worked for me, and I've every confidence it will work again.

And I know that losing weight now will have a positive effect on the success of my surgery and ease of recovery.

Here I go.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The week that was

So it's been a week now, and I'm still vacillating between mad and sad. Progressive Organized Women PAC (POW-PAC) paperwork has been filed with the WV Secretary of State. The checking account is ready to accept donations. I still need to set up an online account. I'm taking my time. It'll all get done, eventually.

I've spent a lot of time this week resting during the day and not sleeping at night. Or, rather, sleeping for three hours and then waking up with IDEAS. STRATEGIES. PLANS. My brain is on overdrive.

Your comments from my last post are most appreciated. Thank you all.

What happened last Saturday is a microcosm of what's happened to the Democratic Party here in WV. Possibly elsewhere. I've had my eye on North Carolina politics for a while now, as WV has been following in its footsteps. I've blamed it on the Koch Brothers and all that money, but that's not the entire story here in WV.

The heart of West Virginia's Democratic party is not in the statehouse in Kanawha County. It's in Marion County, home of Senator Joe Manchin (DINO-WV). Joe Manchin – the only Democrat to vote for defunding Planned Parenthood. Joe Manchin – who voted against the Iran Deal (make war, not diplomacy!). Joe Manchin – who called me "honey."

Joe Manchin and those who follow him care more about their power in the structure of the party than they do about the strength of the party itself. We've been bleeding Democrats for years. Clearly there are a lot of Democrats who are voting for Republicans, if you take a look at election results for the last 15 years. The flip of the statehouse in 2014 from blue to red was stunning. The only Democrats in power now are our Governor, who cannot run in 2016, and … Joe Manchin.

What does that have to do with the WVFDW election? Very little, actually. Except that the chair of WV's Democratic Party is a past president, her county voted as a bloc against the nominating committee's slate, she brought the greatest number of county delegates … and she's from Marion County.

In a nutshell, having control over the women who belong to WVFDW was somehow more important than moving women's issues and interests forward in WV. The chair of the party is someone I trusted, liked, considered a friend. Oddly, though, I don't lay total blame on her shoulders. A good deal goes to … Joe Manchin.

Whether POW-PAC makes a difference for West Virginia women lies in our ability to get our message out. It will take a lot of work and dedication. We'll surely ruffle some (more) feathers. One thing is certain: It's not about me, nor is it about any of the other strong, progressive women who are working to make it happen.

It's about West Virginia. And it's about West Virginia women.

Monday, September 21, 2015

As weekends go, this certainly was one

I don't think I've written anything about the election that happened here in WV over the weekend. It took place at the state convention for the West Virginia Federation of Democratic Women (WVFDW). My county chapter was the host. I've shared a little bit about how busy our group was preparing for that. But the election? Not so much.

I was nominated for vice-president. Traditionally, the assembly accepts the recommendation of the nominating committee, everyone sings kumbaya, and you go to a banquet. But not this year.

Three of the top board positions were challenged by floor nominations. Mine was one of them.

The woman nominated for president and I ran as a team. She went down in the first ballot of the day, and I realized then that I didn't need to give quite as powerful a speech as I'd planned to. It was referred to by one witness as a kamikaze speech.

WVFDW is a club, politically oriented, obviously, but not beholden to the public. It's nice, though, to know the members of a group you've served for several years appreciate you and welcome your contributions.

Yeah, that didn't happen.

Don't get me wrong: MANY, many women approached me and told me how much they appreciated my work for the organization. (I took care of the website and created most of the memes for the Facebook page. Oh, and started a blog, a newsletter, and a Zazzle shop.) From my brief parenthetical resume, you can see I was a big contributor to the digital side of things.

The nominee for president came up with the ideas. Having more time than she, I executed them. We really are a good team. As I said in my speech, she's the spark plug and I'm the mechanic.

But talk is cheap. Actions speak louder than words. You don't show me you value my service by then voting me out.

I learned a lot from the entire experience, most of which I will keep to myself. What I will share is this: For Democrats in West Virginia, longevity trumps all. The longer you've been a member, the longer you've had a D beside your name, the better. The lifetime Democrat who is a charter member of WVFDW wins the prize.

Which is silly, really. If you want your group to grow and attract new and younger members, you look at records. My record, and that of the nominee for president, has hundreds of thousands of digital fingerprints all over it. Social media is where those potential younger members are. And that's where we worked the hardest, while also creating the newsletter to make sure we were reaching those who don't spend much time online.

Without being too melodramatic about it, I guess I'm making my way through the stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. You don't have to have all of them, and you don't have to have them in that order. But most people experiencing an impactful loss feel some or all of these emotions to some degree.

I'm pretty sure I skipped denial and went straight to anger. I'm not sure bargaining is relevant. I feel stuck between mad and sad right now, and I'm really very close to acceptance. I will be all right. I'm already making plans for how a way to work on issues that mean something to me and to other progressive women who feel that WVFDW chose a different set of values.

There was a lot of discussion at this meeting about adding a standing committee just for social media. And after all was said and done, it was added. The social media team will no longer serve at the pleasure of the president, but will be an elected office and a voting member of the board.

I'm happy about that.

I'm just sad I won't be on it.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

What I've been doing with my time

Now that I'm not spending a couple hours a day walking (see previous post if you're not keeping up with my medical history), how am I spending my time?

You'd think, with a blog called Knit. Run. Reap. Eat. that I'd be knitting. Or gardening. It's a fact I'm not running, nor haven't been for quite some time.

It's also a fact that I've been doing a little knitting. I finished a self-designed V-neck pullover, very simple and very wearable. It's kind of an oatmeal color, the yarn (I forget what it's called but I know it's long-discontinued) is a wool/cotton blend and kind of "nubby," and it's all stockinette, except for the lower edge and sleeve cuffs. They're 2x2 ribbing. I finished the neckline with attached I-cord.

I love the sweater. Tunic-length, quite comfy. I can't wait for fall so I can wear it.

I started another project, the Oat Couture Seville Jacket, but I'm not sure the yarn is going to work for it. I chose a fuzzy mohair blend, and I think it needs something smooth and classy. Or classic. Fuzzy mohair isn't it. But I'm two balls into the back of it, so I guess I'll keep going.

Maybe. I'm just not excited about this the way I am about that pullover.

If you're a regular reader, you know there's no gardening going on. It just hurts too much. The weeds are epic this year. It might be time to put cardboard down and be done with them.

The one thing I'm doing a lot of is eating. I'm feeling very emotional about the "old-ness" of needing a total hip replacement. And since I'm an emotional eater, I've been chowing down. Candy. Bread. All the stuff I've avoided for years is creeping back in. I'm giving myself until the first of next month to get over it and get down to business.

Because the biggest fact is surgery and recovery will go much better if I'm at a normal-ish weight and in somewhat reasonable physical shape.

I've reached out to a yogi and have some videos to work with. I've only rowed a couple times, probably too much, because it caused a great deal of pain. But I'm going to keep trying it, because I think rowing is a great total-body workout that could be what I need, if I do it moderately. I've been using some very light weight dumbbells on an irregular basis.

So that's what I've been up to. I don't have much else going on in my brain except thinking about having surgery. Or, actually, thinking about recovering from it.

P.S. I've also been spending a LOT of hours preparing for a statewide convention coming up NEXT WEEK. Most of that work is done. What's left is mostly computer work, which takes time, but doesn't hurt. 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

i'mnotoldi'mnotoldi'mnotold

Considering that I'll be 65 next spring, perhaps I am old. But I don't feel old, I don't think old, I don't look old, and I don't act old. So I'm not old, amirite? (See, I even know how to use young-folk slang appropriately!)

Maybe I do look old – grey hair is creeping into my temples and I sport crow's feet wrinkles laugh lines on my face – but I swear I don't feel or think or act old.

I keep up with current music (thanks, Pandora!), although I didn't watch the VMAs. But I don't watch videos much, anyway. That's not an age indictment. That's a preference. I keep an open mind, try to catch myself when I'm judgmental, stay teachable. I think those are all qualities of a younger mind and personality.

By now you've both noticed I haven't mentioned that pesky right hip that's been bothering me.

I might, actually, be old after all.

I watched as the radiology report came up on the monitor in my doctor's office.

Diagnosis: Marked osteoarthritis.

Dr. C turned from the screen and, without even looking at the images, said, "You need a total hip replacement."

Huh.

Imagine that.

When you look at the X-ray, you can't tell where the ball of the hip ends and the socket begins. They appear to be fused together. [They aren't; that's just how it looks.] And I know they're not fused because I can hear them grinding on each other when I move.

Grinding. That's a word Dr. C used a lot yesterday.

"The reason your hip hurts so much in the evening is because you've been grinding the joint all day."

"Rowing, walking, biking … they all still will cause grinding of the ball and socket."

"You won't cause any more damage by waiting. The grinding action of continued activity will cause pain, but the damage is done."

Honestly? I thought I'd go in, he'd prescribe some physical therapy, maybe an injection, and I'd be on my merry way. Because only old people have hip replacements, AMIRITE?

[Injections provide only temporary relief, 10 to 12 days. And I know there are other conditions that require hip replacements in young people. In fact I know someone who had one when he was in his 30s.]

Bone on bone doesn't heal itself with physical therapy. Treatment: Total hip replacement. I hope to wait until next spring to have it done. Because next spring I'll be 65. Medicare, baby! I'll be old!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

I got a raise!

Everyone lives on a fixed income.

Seriously.

People who leave their homes and go to work at a "real" job, unless they are in a position where they get bonuses and commissions based on production/performance, meet their needs with the same resources month after month. They get small raises, just like Social Security recipients do, and manage to make it on their fixed incomes, just as SS-ers do.

One of the best ways to create more money coming in is to reduce the amount of money going out. And that's what I did this week.

Putting my walking activity on hold has opened up a couple extra hours every day. This week I spent one of them – just one! – on the phone with the providers of my wifi, my satellite service and my mobile phone. The result was impressive.

It started when my old phone kept dropping my home wifi signal. Every time it flipped from wifi to 3G or 4G, it ate data. I have a very low data plan, because I'm on my home wifi most of the time. But this month I used 75 percent of my data after only two weeks of the billing cycle.

At the tech support person's suggestion, I backed up and restored my phone to factory settings – a traumatizing experience – but doing so didn't solve the problem.

Last Sunday I went to the nearest retail location to try to figure it out. I also planned to visit the AT&T store, since that company just bought DirecTV (which is my satellite provider). I planned to look into what kind of discounts were available for bundling.

Without going into all the gory details, my cellular provider wasn't especially helpful and the AT&T person was. I was ready to switch. But I had to find out what the payoff was to get out of my contract. And that's what started the Monday morning phone odyssey.

  • I called US Cellular and spoke with an agent who did not want to lose a loyal customer. 
  • I spent some time speaking with a DirecTV associate who also rewarded me for my loyalty.
  • Ditto Frontier, although their contribution to my income was smaller, presumably because they know they're the only wireless game in town.

Here's how it went down.

The payoff from US Cellular was prohibitive, and the discount offered was impressive. They replaced my Samsung Galaxy S4 with an S6, beat AT&T's offer by $20/month, and doubled my data. Total savings over the old plan was more than $70 per month. And a new phone!

DirecTV gave me a $10/month discount, two new receivers – allowing us to watch a heckuva lot of free content with their OnDemand service – and I dropped HBO, resulting in about a $30 reduction in my monthly bill.

Frontier couldn't do much, but they did come through with a $10/month discount because I've been a customer for such a long time.

We're looking at a net savings of $110 per month. FOR REAL!

I feel bad about the AT&T agent. She was terrific, very helpful, and I know she was counting on a sale. I'm going to stop in and talk with her next time I'm in that neighborhood. I feel fairly certain she would have taken the same deal I did, though. And when my US Cellular contract ends, I'll have some bargaining power. And the promise of another $10/month discount on my DirecTV bill.

If you're feeling an economic pinch these days – I know it's getting better, but who couldn't use a little more money? [cough-theDonald-cough] – carve out an hour and make some calls. Find out what your provider can do to help you remain a happy customer. The deals are out there, but they're not generally offered – you have ask.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Opening a door

Thank you for reading that last post. And commenting! I love comments!

Gingerzingi's last comment, about new opportunities, deserves another post.

I know I will get there. I do. I know I'll need to find some way to move (without hurting) and to stay fit. And I know yoga will probably be it, especially after MadAnne's ringing endorsement.

It sounds silly, but I'm going through some kind of grieving process right now, one that has me completely wiped out.

It's. Not. Brain. Cancer.

I have to keep telling myself that. I'm not going to die from osteoarthritis.

But every time my husband takes off for his daily walk, I'm sad.

Every time I think about all the pictures I used to take, I'm sad.

Every time the humidity is low and the sun is high and the breeze is gentle and I think I'd like to go for a walk … I'm just so sad that I know it's going to hurt and do more damage.

Having just learned about this, I suppose I should expect to feel something. I've no choice but to accept it. Cartilage doesn't miraculously regrow.

Right now, though, I'm missing my walking more than ever, and not quite ready to go through that door. Maybe just writing it down will spur me to at least investigate possibilities.

Maybe.

It's not brain cancer.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

30 days

I just took a look at my Daily Mile dashboard, and I last recorded a walk 30 days ago. I had no idea it had been so long. I've been telling myself a couple of weeks. Maybe three.

I stopped walking because my hip hurt. I continued to do four miles a day as long as I could, but those days consisted of whatever I had to do before the walk, followed by the walk, followed by resting. Sometimes for the remainder of the day.

It finally occurred to me that walking was aggravating the pain, and I needed to stop. I put on my big-girl running shorts and made a doctor's appointment. And went to it yesterday.

Where I learned that I am, apparently, officially, old. And maybe I should change the name of this blog again.
Not my own personal hip x-ray, but illustrative of my problem.
I had two x-rays that cost more than my first car and way more than my new dishwasher, and learned that I have a misalignment of my spine, along with some degenerative disc disease, and a cartilage deficiency in my right hip. Bone on bone.

I saw the Physician's Assistant instead of my family doctor, and she was great. She knows my history and said, "We see this a lot in athletes, both men and women." Athlete! She called me an athlete! As I've mentioned to a few friends, at least I didn't lose all that cartilage by being a slug.

But still. No cartilage = no cushioning, and until you experience it personally you really have no idea of the pain. I've tried all the recommended OTC pain relievers; ibuprofen seems to do the best job for me.

What I haven't been doing is exercising. To me, exercise is walking. Both the PA and Dr. Google recommend stretching. I also learned that yoga, bicycling and swimming may be beneficial. I don't have a bike, nor do I swim, so I'll be taking advantage of the apps on our new smarter-than-I-am TV to find some gentle yoga routines.

The other word for what I have is osteoarthritis – such an old-lady word. I'm not old. In fact I'm so not old that I have to pay for those expensive x-rays out of pocket, because I haven't met my insurance deductible and I'm too young for Medicare.

I see my family doctor week after next to discuss treatment options. There's no cure for osteoarthritis, but I've been assured by Dr. Google that I can live a long and comfortable life. Heh.

My grandmother had it, along with osteoporosis and COPD. She sat in a chair the last 10 years of her life, tethered to an oxygen tank watching soap operas. That, of course, is what I think of when I hear the word 'osteoarthritis.'

But my bones are dense and my lungs are clear. I only have a third of her problems. My total mileage for the year may be stalled at 624, but I'm certainly in better health than she was, and I've taken better care of myself than she did.

I'm trying to find the bright side.

It's a cartilage deficiency.

Not brain cancer.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

A writing prompt I can actually use

I subscribe to a daily e-mail that offers ideas for blog posts. My posts are always fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants, spur-of-the-moment drivel. Even in the old days, when I did a quote on Fridays, I searched for and wrote about the quote on Friday, usually 15 minutes before I hit the Publish button.

So I largely ignore the prompts that land in my inbox every morning. But today, one of them really spoke to me:

2. Write a blog post inspired by the word: cheap


My county Democratic women's group is hosting the West Virginia Federation of Democratic Women Annual Meeting next month. Our county is large in area, but small in population, as West Virginia counties go, and so our club is tiny – just 35 members – and we have a treasury to match.

Planning a convention for women from around the state is a huge job, and we need all hands on deck. Fortunately, we have some stalwart volunteers who always get the job done, no matter what. You know those women from your own clubs and groups: the ones who pitch in, make the calls, stuff the envelopes, recruit the speakers.
A teaser shot of the
convention bag: it has
a zipper! And a pocket!

Fill the goodie bags.

I've been to four of these statewide gatherings in the past, and I have the tote bags to prove it. Each registered delegate, alternate, and guest receives a convention bag with a program book and a little goodie bag filled with whatever the host club can find, make, or beg for from local businesses.

The state organization provides no financial help for filling the goodie bags or stocking a hospitality suite. West Virginia's counties are split into three Congressional districts, so the counties in our district have been generous in donating a bit of their just-as-meager-as-our treasuries to make sure we look good.

Because, you know, it's better to look good than to feel good. (Cue Billy Crystal, SNL, "Fernando's Hideaway.)

I prefer the word "frugal" to cheap, and I also prefer utility and function over just "stuff." I don't want to give away any secrets prior to the meeting, since I know some of our guests will probably read this. We are not the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Our swag bags will not contain Prada clutches, Jimmie Choo pumps, or Apple watches.

Let's just say my inkjet printer has been working overtime creating little something-somethings to tuck into those bags. I've also found some great deals for useful printed items from online vendors.

And Pinterest is my friend.

If you're a Democratic woman who lives in West Virginia and you haven't yet registered for the WVFDW annual meeting, you should probably get yourself over to our website and sign up: REGISTER HERE. Otherwise, you're going to miss out on electing new officers, hearing a terrific keynote speaker (click that link!), and snagging a really awesome – if frugal – goodie bag.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Update ...

Sick. Again.

Two summer colds in one year is two too many.

My hip still hurts, and I'm not walking.

(The biggest shocker from not walking is I'm maintaining my April weight loss. I haven't lost anything since, but I haven't gained anything either. Scary to me to think that a strict Whole 30 plan – which resulted in a 10-lb. loss in April – is the only way for me to lose weight.)

I'd planned to have company this weekend, but when I got sick I had to cancel those plans. But my house is clean!

So there's that.

I'm improving. No more fever, only a hacking cough once in a while, combined with X-treme lack of energy. I'm going to put some food in the slow cooker and hope it turns into dinner.

And then I'm going back to bed.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Paris with palm trees

So THIS happened nine years ago today …

Yes, after a whirlwind 13-year courtship, my husband and I tied the knot. He likes to say it's been mostly good since then. I like to say SHUT UP! It's ALL been good!

Heh.

It was hot as hell in Las Vegas. August, after all, is pretty hot in the desert. I was training for my first half marathon, I think, or at least I was running daily, and some random guy I saw a couple early-early mornings (because early-early morning was the ONLY time to run in August in Las Vegas) in a row invited me out for coffee the third time we saw each other.

I had to get married to get hit on by a stranger.

And how is the old married couple marking the occasion? Well, we're not. We're each very busy with separate projects. He has to go to a meeting for his tonight, and I'll be working on mine all day (and all day tomorrow, and the next day, and blah, blah, blah, until the event, which takes place in September, is over). I also have a miserableawfulhorrible summer cold. His event happens Saturday, but we're having company this weekend, so no anniversary-date opportunity in the foreseeable future.

Which is fine. We promised we would do something really special next year, for our 10th anniversary. The only way it will happen is if we make it happen. We have a year to plan it.

Film at eleven.


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Keepsake quotes

I'm cleaning out my desk, and found a paperclipped bundle of quotes and sayings tucked in one of the little cubbyholes. I'm going to put them here, probably never to be looked at again, but they meant enough to me at one time to print them out and attach them to my refrigerator. Maybe they'll mean something to someone else someday.

There are only two things you "have to" do in life – you "have to" die, and you "have to" live until you die. You made up all the rest.

One of the best ways to begin familiarizing ourselves with the virtue of patience is to reflect systematically on its benefits. It is the source of forgiveness. It has no equal in protecting our concern for others, however they behave towards us. When patience is combined with the ability to discriminate between the action and the one who does it, forgiveness arises naturally. ~ Dalai Lama

Every behavior you participate in will have a consequence. ~ Brian Tracy

Work joyfully and peacefully, knowing that right thought and right efforts will inevitably bring about right results. ~ James Allen

An idealist believes the short run doesn't count. A cynic believes the long run doesn't matter. A realist believes that what is done or left undone in the short run determines the long run. ~ Sydney J. Harris

Whatever you give a woman, she will make greater. If you give her sperm, she'll give you a baby. If you give her a house, she'll give you a home. If you give her groceries, she'll give you a meal. If you give her a smile, she'll give you her heart. She multiplies and enlarges what is given to her. So if you give her any crap, be ready to receive a ton of shit.

Keep nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful. ~ William Morris

Happiness is not the absence of conflict, but the ability to cope with it.

Often the difference between a successful marriage and a mediocre one consists of leaving about three or four things a day unsaid. ~ Harlan Miller

Anger makes you smaller, while forgiveness forces you to grow beyond what you were." ~ Cherie Carter-Scott

Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly.

Remember: If a dog was the teacher, you would learn things like:

  • When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
  • Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.
  • Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.
  • Take naps.
  • Stretch before rising.
  • Run, romp and play daily.
  • Thrive on attention and let people touch you.
  • Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
  • On warm days, stop to lie on your back in the grass.
  • On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.
  • When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
  • Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
  • Be loyal.
  • Never pretend to be something you're not.
  • If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
  • When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.
  • Enjoy every moment of every day!
When choosing the path of Life, you are choosing a road of obstacles. May they be as simple as speed bumps, or as complex as a step drop off a mountain. No matter what the obstacle, you must know there will be a big pile of pillows at the bottom of the mountain.

When choosing the path of Life, you are choosing a road of obstacles. May they be as simple as getting a detention in your schooling years, or as complex as losing a love one. No matter what the obstacle, you must know there will be a big group of people who love you, waiting at the bottom to cushion your fall. ~ MEM

The brief guide:
  • less TV, more reading
  • less shopping, more outdoors
  • less clutter, more space
  • less rush, more slowness
  • less consuming, more creating
  • less junk, more real food
  • less busywork, more impact
  • less driving, more walking
  • less noise, more solitude
  • less focus on the future, more on the present
  • less work, more play
  • less worry, more smiles
  • breathe


10 Days

Still haven't been to the doctor ... it's just so darned easy to avoid waiting rooms and X-rays and my doctor suggesting that, ahem, as one gets older one can expect a little pain.

Yes, he's said things like that to me in the past.

So I've not taken an intentional walk for four straight days now, which is killing my mileage goal for the year. I'd planned to walk yesterday, but I missed a step coming down from a stepstool and wow, did I ever feel it (and am still feeling it).

I'm keeping busy. I just don't really feel like writing. Or knitting. Or painting interior walls. The things that are keeping me busy are cutting grass, mostly, and decluttering. My husband's church is having a rummage sale in a couple weeks, and we're taking advantage of that event to clear out some, um, rummage.

If I were moving in a couple weeks, I could probably get rid of a lot more rummage. I'm not quite there yet in my thinking, however.

One thing I've been pondering is this: Just how many drinking glasses does a two-person household need? We don't entertain much, and when we do it's generally just one other couple. If I were going to have a larger event, I'd most likely buy disposable drink and dinnerware. I'm thinking of keeping six large and six small tumblers, which would take care of the rare times we need(?) real glass glasses at the table.

Probably no one remembers what their iced tea was served in anyway.

Anyway. I'm still alive. Still having pain. Still keeping busy.

How about you?

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Struggling

I'm barely managing to get my four miles a day in lately. I see a visit to the doctor in the fairly near future to see what's going on with my right leg. I've been rollering it, thinking it might be iliotibial syndrome. 

I wish our healthcare system here in the good old US of A allowed one to go straight to physical therapy without going through an MD first. Insurance companies won't pay for PT if it's not prescribed first. I'm not a doctor, nor do I play one on television, but I'm pretty sure that's where I'm headed. 

Lucky is home by now, I'm sure. His final trail journal entry is here. With all the hoopla about Scott Jurek and his supported speed record, Lucky is way more inspiring to me. I feel pretty lucky to be walking four miles a day on a paved road. He averaged about 15 a day on a trail. That's impressive.

I'm still maintaining the weight loss that happened the month of April, but not making any progress toward the eventual goal. It would be very sad for me to think that the strict Whole 30 is the only way I can lose. Looking back on the 2013 experience of almost making it to my goal and then gaining back a bunch o'pounds, I think a strict Whole 30 could be the only way to maintain. 

Much. Thinking. Ahead.

The first load … pans and dinnerware and the
food processor, oh my!
The dishwasher was installed last Tuesday, and is working well. I didn't realize that these newfangled energy-saving machines had such a long cycle. Nearly two hours, start to finish, but I guess that's normal. The water-saving feature that makes it energy-efficient results in using more electricity and an extended cycle. 

Not sure how that saves energy, actually. 

But it's kind of fun knowing I don't have to stand at the sink for an hour cleaning up a boatload of dishes after a big cooking session. 

Lots o'graphic design work going on here. Many, many ads for a program book for an annual meeting coming up in September. Quarterly newsletter goes out Monday or Tuesday. I feel somewhat chained to a screen lately, but since it's hot-hot-hot and humid-humid-humid, I'm glad to have an excuse to not be weeding the flower beds. Heh.

And with that … time to fire up Photoshop and get to work!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

He did it!

Lucky scaled Mt. Katadhin yesterday, early afternoon, ahead of schedule. He hasn't updated his journal yet, so I won't link to it, but I will when he does. A remarkable achievement!

Just checked again (five minutes later) and here's the latest entry.

I know one shouldn't compare oneself to another as far as fitness goes. We're all at different points along a line beginning at bedridden and ending at setting a speed record for hiking the Appalachian Trail. With tennis and soccer and baseball and marathon and jump rope and swimming medals and trophies in there, too.

But I can't help but compare Lucky's being 73 and hiking more than 2000 miles in five months to my efforts to get four miles a day.

I didn't do it yesterday. Only 1.45. I was hot and dehydrated and hungry and hurting. And I just turned around and went home.

Easier to do that on the road I live on than on the Appalachian Trail, for sure. But I'm smack dab in the midst of those summer doldrums, and need to find a way to get motivated again.

At any rate … here I go, all about me, when this is Lucky's day! YAY!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

One down, one to go

Well, Scott Jurek did indeed break the supported speed record for hiking the Appalachian Trail, by about three hours.

Lucky isn't able to update his journal – he's busy covering those last 50-ish miles! – but the weather in Maine has been decent and he should get to Katadhin tonight.

Guess I'll have to find something else to do for a while.

HAH! That's not difficult. Our Democratic women's group is hosting the statewide annual meeting. We're selling ads for the program book, and I'm doing the artwork for those ads. We have to stock a hospitality suite with snacks and beverages, collect items to put in goodie bags, make sure the banquet favors are completed on time (and don't break in the meantime!), and a host of other little and big tasks between now and September 18.

I don't have anything else to say this morning … I do, actually, but I don't have time!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Wow. I had no idea.

So it's been a while. Again. It gets easier and easier to let the blogging go. I suppose keeping up to date on Facebook is usurping blogging these days. It's certainly easier to post a captioned photo there than it is to string my thoughts together into several paragraphs.

Sometimes easier is better. But not usually.

At any rate, I've been busy or I would have been writing more often.

I've been too busy to even check e-mail. As I've been going through the last several hundred or so, I found one from MapMyFitness that offered this:
Those two weeks of no exercise in late May and early June killed my progress for the year. But I'm less than 40 miles below my 600-mile mid-year goal, so it's still not unreachable.

And, frankly, most women my age aren't putting that many hours into fitness. So yay! Debbi for the win!

And USA WOMEN for the World Cup win last night! What a lot of fun that was, and I don't think anyone expected the US to dominate as they did.

The knitting, running walking, reaping and eating is pretty much the same as it ever was. I hope your holiday was everything you wanted it to be.

I would hope all the feel-good 4th of July feelings would result in less divisiveness as a country. But the number of rebel battle flags I see flying would indicate otherwise.

What's it going to take?

Saturday, June 27, 2015

History, right before our very eyes

I said in a Facebook post this morning that this week has been amazing, but not very graceful. Except that part on Friday afternoon when the President of the United States of America sang Amazing Grace at Clementa Pinckney's funeral. (What a wonderful celebration of a life well-lived and too-soon-ended that was.)

We've lived through an awful lot of history. For me, the list includes (not in chronological order):

  • Man on the moon. 
  • Berlin wall coming down. 
  • Civil Rights Act passed (and I think today we know that passing a law doesn't necessarily change minds or hearts). 
  • The assassination of President Kennedy (who was this country's first Catholic President). 
  • Bob Dylan's first album release (you knew I had to get an historical Dylan reference in there, AM I RIGHT?). 
  • The election – twice – of an African-American president. 
  • The closest thing to health care reform I'm likely to see in my lifetime (I think Medicare for All will someday be available, hopefully for my grandchildren). 
  • Marriage equality for all.

The not-so-graceful comments on Facebook are discouraging, because they show me that we need to do more educating, more good-exampling, more opening of hearts and minds. ALL of us. I'm not going to sit here behind my screen and point fingers at you. If I think you (not you, of course, but you know who I'm talking about) need to be more tolerant, then I've just unequivocally proven that I could use a little more tolerance in my 'tude, as well.

(If the haters were better educated, they'd KNOW that marriage equality doesn't mean their pastor is bound by law to marry a same-sex couple. But then they'd have nothing to fight about. And oh, my, they do love to fight. And there I go pointing fingers again! This tolerance thing is SO HARD.)

This week has been breathtaking in its intensity. I had a personal stake in the Supreme Court's decision about the Affordable Care Act. Most SCOTUS decisions don't really touch me personally, but that one definitely did. Some politicians are still promising to repeal the ACA, but offer no alternative.

Which leaves me wondering … why? Why do they not want ALL Americans to benefit from good medical care? Why do they think those who qualify for subsidies are lazy-ass freeloaders who ought to take better care of themselves? (Yes, I replied to a comment like that.) And file for bankruptcy if they get cancer, which really doesn't only affect rich people who can afford health insurance.

The only answer I've seen to my "why" question is that those subsidies are giving our tax dollars to  people who don't deserve it.

That's kind of how I feel about my tax dollars being given to Halliburton, or any other government contractor who profits from sending young men and women to fight an unwinnable war. And then when those young men and women come home (IF they come home), they're faced with homelessness, joblessness and a Congress that doesn't want to take care of their medical needs.

We don't get to pick and choose where our tax dollars go. We assume our elected officials will be good stewards of our money. You know what they say about assuming, though.

IN MY OPINION, Democrats do a better job at governing than Republicans do. The current Republican-led Congress pretty much proves it. The President spent a lot of years reaching across that aisle and coming up empty-handed. Now that he's a lame-duck President, and fearless by his own admission, well … shit's getting done.

Good for him. Good for America.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A Lucky update

Our friend Lucky is less than 300 miles from Katahdin, Maine, on his hike of the Appalachian Trail.

He's in New Hampshire, but has just 16.5 miles to get to the Maine border. Here's his most recent entry. It's more of a placeholder; hit the "Previous" link to read full journal posts.

Experienced hikers say that the last 20 percent of the Appalachian Trail is 80 percent of the work, and it sounds like Lucky agrees.

My walks continue to get slower. My hip never really doesn't hurt these days. I'd hoped that getting back to solid paleo eating would help, but it doesn't. The only consistent thing about the pain is that it's almost completely gone after a night's rest. I don't have much trouble first thing in the morning, and so that's when I take my walks.

It's been so hot, that morning also is the best time, temperature-wise, to be outdoors.

Yesterday I cut back all the weeds in the herb-garden circle, covered the bed with compost and then my husband and I layered pieces of cardboard over the whole thing. We put rocks on the cardboard to keep it from blowing away and next spring we'll have a nice weed-free bed in which to plant flowers. A lilac or butterfly bush in the center, with perennials and annuals surrounding it. AND MULCH.

Mulching is a big job, and mulch isn't cheap, but I'm more convinced of the value of it as this year drags on. All my lovely landscape beds are full of weeds, and we haven't had enough rain to soften the ground to make pulling – or even digging – them a manageable job, for me anyway.

The combination of a normal walk and a big gardening job really did me in, though. Let's just say I played lots of Scrabble on my phone yesterday afternoon … sigh.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Been a while. Sorry about that.

I really just want to post pictures of puppies
and baby goats
and kittens. (Did you know there was a subset of kitten pictures on Google Images called Kittens With Guns? ACK!)
I'm still walking, still eating mostly primal/paleo, still knitting the never-ending pullover. And still wishing something would happen to bring the country together, in a good way.

I think I'm going to be waiting for that for quite some time.

Facebook has been my rant-and-rave outlet lately. If you follow me there and you're tired of it, feel free to block me. I just can't keep it inside. But I also don't want to alienate either of you who are still reading the blog, so … puppies! Baby goats! KITTENS!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

It starts with food

The Food and Drug Administration said yesterday that the food industry has until 2018 to eliminate trans fats from food. The New York Times has a good wrap-up of the decision here.

At least it was a good wrap-up, until this:
Saturated fats are still an enormous problem in the American diet, and health experts emphasized that Tuesday’s action should not give consumers a false sense of security.
Saturated fats raise the level of cholesterol in your blood. The general consensus is that high cholesterol levels lead to heart disease. In my opinion, that's what the makers of cholesterol-lowering drugs want you to believe, and they'll go to the ends of the earth to protect their profits.

If you do a Google search for "eating saturated fat," you'll find the information YOU want. If YOU think eating saturated fat is bad for you, you'll find a credible, peer-reviewed article to back you up. If YOU think consuming saturated fat is less of a problem than Big Pharma thinks it is … you'll also be validated.

What if we find out, years from now, that saturated fat – found in butter, meat, cheese, eggs – wasn't the bad guy, but growth hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, or something else the agricultural industry uses to grow more food with less effort and more profit was?

That's a big what if.

I'm not arguing FOR trans-fats. They were invented to make packaged products shelf-stable. In other words, trans-fats were developed to make processed foods last longer and cost less. What consumer doesn't want that?

I'm not arguing FOR saturated fats, either. I eat them, but that's my decision, my menu, and you're free to serve yourself whatever you like. My saturated fats come from grass-fed cows and free-range chickens, for the most part.

I'm mostly arguing AGAINST a pharmaceutical industry that wants you to take their pills every day of your life, and a food industry that cares more about making food cheap than making it healthful. In both cases, these giants are better stewards of their bottom lines than they are of your health and welfare.

And, sadly, our government seems to be complicit.

Rant over.