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Monday, December 21, 2009

Remembering Henrietta.....

On December 6, a light went out in a small town in Minnesota. Unremarkable, really, unless you were lucky enough to know the source of that light: my aunt, Henrietta.

Henrietta was a quiet, constant presence in my life. Always smiling, always supportive. She had a vast network of friends, and the ability to put people at ease no matter what the situation. No matter how brief your meeting, she would remember you. And you would remember her. She was unforgettable.

Henrietta checked on me regularly during my fibroid saga, as that was something we had in common. I think she was the only person in my circle who really understood what I was dealing with. After my surgery, I asked my family and friends to let me recoup for a few weeks before stopping by. Henrietta came anyway, bringing flowers and offering support. I was very glad she came.

It's impossible to imagine the holidays without my aunt. Saturday night, Walker and I took Diva to a city park to see the displays of holiday lights. One display pretty much said it all. "I love you all dearly; now don't shed a tear. I'm spending Christmas with Jesus this year!" I think it was very fitting that it was done in lights.

Rest in peace, Henrietta. We miss you.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Seven Degrees....

Winter has decended with a fury. Snow, ice, and bitter cold wind combined to make life miserable here in the Midwest. This time of year, with Christmas approaching, it's usually easy to block out the weather and focus on the season and the family. This year, somehow, things are differnt. I seem to feel a perpetual chill. Walker has been saying the same thing: he has a chill he can't shake. I know it isn't the house, as we feel this where ever we go. Winters get so long here.

January is the time when I start thinking we need some sun. I watch for airfare sales and, on more than one occasion, I have called Walker at work asking him to "take a few days off next week." Of course he does, though at the time he usually doesn't know why. Somehow, spending a week with sand between our toes makes the rest of the winter fly by.

This year things will probably be different. With both of us having surgery this year, and the economy still in the toilet, we will most likely be staying put for the winter. Maybe that has something to do with the's going to be a long, cold winter.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Time Flies....and So Do We did a month go by without a post??? I don't even have an excuse.

Walker and I spent some time vacationing in San Francisco, then drove down the coast a bit. The beaches of the California coast are stunning. I don't love to fly, but I do appreciate the efficiency of air travel.

I really needed the getaway. We spent a few days in the city, then a few days down the coast at the beach in Pacifica. There is nothing like the ocean to renew the spirit.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

My How Things Have Changed!

We had SNOW last week. It didn't stick, and the weather is supposed to warm up in a few days, but I can't help but wonder what happened to put Mother Nature in such a foul mood. Actual snow in October is pretty darn rare around here.

Despite the cold and wet, Walker and I managed to last through an entire high school football game. His alma mater took on mine, and I'm happy to say that my boys prevailed, giving me bragging rights until at least next year, when I'm sure they will whoop butt again.

It's been years since I attended a football game of any sort, but high school? It's been decades. We work nights, what can I say? Anyway - I was totally taken off guard by how much things have changed. The school girls were wearing tutus and knee socks. Where did that come from? The baton twirler added fire batons to her routine for halftime. The marching band had electric guitars. How, exactly, does one march with an electric guitar? I guess I'm getting old.

Magic on My Morning Walk

As a novice blogger, I'm learning the hard way that every day provides opportunities that can be missed in a heartbeat. Case in point: very early this morning, long before the sunrise, I took a break from working at home to walk a lap or two around the block to clear my head. Half way through the first lap, I came across three deer in my neighbors' yard. A large doe with two fawns. Of course my camera was at home.

Deer in my neighborhood are nothing new, but I don't often come across them while I'm walking. They seem to hear me or catch my scent long before I get this close. More than once I've heard them crashing through backyards or seen them bound away down the block. I've even seen them at the birdfeeder on my own patio through my kitchen window. These deer weren't more than fifteen or twenty feet away.

The doe immediately stepped into the shadows and froze. The larger fawn, right under the streetlight, also froze. The little fawn looked right at me then continued to move around the yard, nibbling on treats in the garden. A minute later the little fawn had moved past me, putting me in between himself and his mother, putting me in harm's way as the doe began to march her front feet nervously.

Slowly, slowly, I backed away, careful not to startle the unpredictable fawns or take my eyes off the mother. After what seemed like hours I was all the way across the street. The doe tossed her head, apparently signaling the fawns it was time to go. The larger fawn took off around the side of the house. A moment later, the little fawn followed. Only after the smaller fawn was out of sight did the doe turn away from me to run after them.

My camera will be with me from now on.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Best Laid Plans

The Great Dinner Experiment hit it's first glitch tonight. After working a double shift last night, I slept in this afternoon and got up later than usual. I pulled a casserole from the freezer, stuck it in the oven, and hopped into the shower thinking how nice it was to have dinner all planned out. By the time I finished getting ready for work it would be done. Perfect!
Uh, well.....not so much. It was in the oven for over an hour. It smelled fantastic and looked perfectly toasted on top. Unfortunatly, the middle was still a frozen block of ice. We tried nuking it but that didn't have much of an impact. With time running short, we finally scooped some onto plates and nuked them that way. It was delicious, but I only had ten minutes to gulp it down before I had to leave for work.
Next time I'll make this in a shallow cake pan rather than a deep casserole, and I'll try to remember to put it in the fridge before I go to bed. Over all, though, our experiment has been a success so far.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Our Dinnertime Experiment

If you had visited our house on any given afternoon during the last few weeks, you probably heard a conversation like this:

Walker: What do you have planned for dinner?
Me: Nothing. What do you have planned for dinner?
Walker: I don’t know what we even have.
Me: Well, why don’t you take a look in the pantry?

At which point Walker, who (rightly, I’m sorry to say) thinks the pantry is an overstuffed mess of condiments and baking supplies, would have ordered sandwiches or zipped out for McDonalds.

From this nightly ritual was born a radical idea: Let’s say I did a massive grocery shop, stocking up on everything we needed for dinner for, oh, a month. Suppose I spent an entire weekend day prepping and tossing together casseroles and other tasty dinner delights. Then suppose I stacked all this glorious food in the freezer, neatly labeled and waiting its turn to be heated and served. Would it save us any time? Would it save us any money? And, most importantly, would it finally put an end to the “what’s for dinner” dialog that we have had every stinkin’ night?

At the moment, it appears the answer to these questions is, “Yes, yes, and yes.” It’s only been a few days, but the shopping part took less than half the time of my regular weekly shopping times four weeks, and I spent about a third less money, so far, than I normally would in four weeks. We will need fresh milk a few times, but that should be it. The cooking part took a full day, but I think we can streamline that more, too, if we continue with this. As for the nightly meals, we have a running list of what’s available on a dry erase board on the fridge. All we have to do is allow for a little extra cooking time since we’re starting from frozen. What seemed at first to be a radical idea is shaping up to be the best idea I’ve had in a while.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Top 10 List – what I love about FALL

1 sleeping with the windows opened
2 baking treats to warm up the kitchen - mmmmm, smells great in here!
3 watching the leaves change – every day is a surprise
4 wearing socks
5 comfort food – potato soup & grilled cheese, casseroles, chai lattes
6 fires in the fire pit
7 Halloween
8 locally grown apples
9 cozy sweaters
10 no more mosquitoes

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Hitting the Beach on Watery Wednesday

This is my favorite photo of Walker and Diva on our last trip to the Gulf Coast. Later that day we flew kites and built sand castles. It was the kind of day you dream about when you plan your vacation.

Check out other Watery Wednesday photos here

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Out for a Walk on Ruby Tuesday

Not far from my house is a pretty little walking trail. I mostly use it as a bike path, but on this day I chose to walk. It's amazing how much more you can see when you slow down.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Daybreak on Amelia Island

I took this photo on Amelia Island, Florida, when Walker and I were there for a long weekend a few years back. We stayed at a motel right on the beach and got up early every morning to watch the sunrise. We always had the beach to ourselves, except for the gulls.
We used to do a fair amount of traveling. Lately, not so much. This trip came about abruptly when, after an especially difficult night at work, I checked for cheap airfare on a whim and discovered flights to Jacksonville on sale through Northwest. I booked them on the spot. One of the things I love about Walker is his agreeable nature. Where ever I take him, he has a good time. This trip was no exception.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Atlantic Coast Sunrise

It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time!

I took a bike ride yesterday. You'd think that was a good thing, wouldn't you? It started innocently enough. I took the dog out for a pee and was surprised at what a gorgeous, sunny day it was. I’d been so busy working inside that I hadn’t even noticed. So I changed into shorts and a tank top, strapped on my helmet, and hit the road.

The trouble started almost immediately. For one thing, I am not in good shape. An amoeba has better shape than I do. For another, I am 41 years old. Forty one year olds who have not recently participated in regular exercise should not attempt to ride a bike up a hill in eighty degree heat.

I told myself I was tougher than the bike. I remembered how much I enjoy riding. I cursed a lot. Then I reached the end of my block. I thought about turning around. But I didn’t. I decided to ride a five mile loop, and mentally plotted the route I would take as I pedaled along. I live in the Midwest where the winters are long. I was determined not to waste the gorgeous fall day.

As I neared the end of my loop I realized that I would have to travel – uphill - on the overpass in order to get home. I didn’t think I could make it. I really didn’t. After all, I’d ridden nearly five miles after an entire summer of relative inactivity. True, my odometer didn’t seem to be working but I knew it had been five miles because I’d counted the city blocks. Plus it was HOT outside. I’d neglected to bring my water bottle on this journey. I was probably dehydrated. I would never make it over the overpass. I would pass out halfway up and tumble off my bike, over the railing, and down the hill to my death.

As I approached the overpass I decided to just try it. I told myself I could get off the bike and walk it if I wanted to. Hell, I could call Walker to come pick us both up in the van if I really wanted to. But I didn’t. I stayed on the bike, and slowly, slowly, I pushed myself up that hill. At the top, I paused to catch my breath and was rewarded with a beautiful sight: Virginia creeper vine, all decked out in her fall crimson.

When I finally got home I fiddled with my odometer and guess what? I hadn’t even gone five miles. The odometer read 3.53. So much for my math skills. But at least I have a pretty picture for my blog.

Hope you enjoy Ruby Tuesday!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Fall Color Begins!

My morning walk revealed a surprise: Autumn is just beginning to show her colors on my neighbor's maple tree. I love this time of year!


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Technology is a Wonderful Thing. NOT!

Ohhh, my Wednesday photo meme is giving me the fits! The picture looks awful, the links don't work....I have no idea what happened. I've been trying to fix it off and on all day. I'm not tech savvy at all but I can't seem to let it go and move on. So frustrating!

Seventeen Mile Drive, California

My first photo meme was posted last Friday. Piece of cake. This one.....not so much. When I click on my name in Mr Linky it shows my photo but not my blog. My photo looks all pixelated. Weird cause it looks great in my web album. Sigh. Anyone have a link to a good tutorial?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

My Path of Least Resistance

Why is it, during times of stress or sadness, I do things that directly contradict who I want to be? Some people fight stress by going for a run, or cleaning every closet in the house, or volunteering at a soup kitchen.

I eat.

I know I’m not hungry and I know there are better ways to manage my mood and I know I’ll pay for it later with short-term guilt and long term bulk but for some reason, when trouble knocks at my door I stop in the pantry for a quick snack on my way to answer it.

I think that awareness is the first step to making positive changes. I’ve got that one down. Now could someone please tell me what step two is?

Friday, September 4, 2009

My First Meme

I'm still not sure I'm doing this correctly, but here it is, my first meme! I love the idea of this meme. Hopefully it will remind me to slow down and appreciate this beautiful world we share.


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Remembering Tom

The first time I ever travelled by airplane was in November of 2001, just weeks after the horror of September 11th. I was to fly alone to Denver, Colorado where I would meet up with my sister’s family and venture on to Hawaii.

I was excited about the trip, but as it approached I became nervous, too. The nightly news was filled with scary images of heavily armed military in our nation’s airports even as details about the 9/11 terrorists emerged. Constantly changing rules about what was and was not allowed on planes had me scrambling to reassess and repack. Stories of frustrated travelers pulled from planes after making ill advised comments had me vowing to stay silent for the entire trip.

Finally, the morning of my flight arrived. Before sunrise, I checked my luggage one last time and sat down to wait for my ride to the airport. A movement at my kitchen window triggered the motion sensor light over my back door, startling me. Peeking in my kitchen window with a big happy grin was my friend Tom.

I never told Tom I was nervous about my trip, yet there he stood at 4:30 in the morning, ready to say a blessing for my trip and give me a hug. Before he left he told me, “Don’t be scared. You’re going to have an amazing adventure.” And I did.

Tom was the kind of friend all of us hope to have and most of us would like to be. He never forgot a birthday. When I was sick he would drop off homemade chicken dumpling soup from a neighborhood bistro, leaving the steaming bag on my front step and running back to his car after he rang my doorbell. He would watch to make sure I retrieved it before waving and driving off. Full of wisdom and funny stories, Tom always seemed to know what to say to leave you smiling.

When Tom got cancer it seemed just too unreal. Here was this strapping, energetic man – how could he be sick? He insisted on driving himself to his chemo appointments. The “if there is anything we can do” offers went unanswered. Later, when the cancer was in remission, we all said, “I knew he’d be okay! He’s too young for cancer. He’s too strong.” Ridiculous, I know, but sometimes you tell yourself lies so you don’t have to face the unthinkable.

When the cancer came back, the lies continued: “He beat it before, he’ll beat it again!” "Who cares if the doctors said there was nothing more to do? Doctors have been wrong before." But the cancer didn’t listen to the lies. Very early this morning, when fog thick as a veil swirled through the chilly air, Tom's weary heart tapped a final beat, and he died.

My friend Tom, world traveler, has embarked on his most amazing adventure ever.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Linebacker in a Dress

My mom has always wanted an athlete in the family. Unfortunately, neither I nor my siblings possessed any athletic prowess. My older brother played basketball, baseball, and hockey, but his skills were somewhat limited. He did it for the love of the game.
When the new generation came along my mom encouraged sports of all kinds. One particular event was the annual Punt, Pass, and Kick competition. Thirty-odd years ago my brother was a competitor. Two dozen years after that, his son won first place for his age group at his playground. The problem with that, though, was it was a total fluke. My nephew happened to be at the park that day and asked if he could participate. With no experience whatsoever he threw a perfect spiral and kicked the ball in a straight line. He couldn’t do it again. We were no less proud of him, of course, but after that he refused to practice and was totally shut out at the next level of competition.
Then along came Diva. That little missy is game for anything. I got her a football when she was about four or so, for no other reason than she didn’t have one. She played with it a few times, but she didn’t show real interest in it until last summer. Then, for reasons unknown, she started playing with it in the park near my mom’s house. My mom taught her to throw and kick long and straight, measuring her progress with a clothesline stretched across the grass. They were all geared up for the big competition and then…..nothing. I don’t know what happened but Diva’s dad didn’t take her to the event last year. I think they just plain forgot.
So this year, Grandma took charge. She organized daily practice sessions in the park and called in reminders before the event. On the big day, Diva’s dad got her to the park in time for one-on-one with some local football players. She did well in practice, but the real fun came later: she took first place for her gender and age group. She got to bring home a blue ribbon and a trophy. She was even on the local news.
Grandma has increased her practices to two-a-days. Walker puts her through her paces, but tries to keep it fun. So far she’s really into it. The next competition is in October. If she wins that she goes on to compete during halftime at an NFL game. Go, Diva!!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Call Nancy Drew!

I logged on today to post a new entry and discovered that my last few posts have vanished. Eek! I have absolutely no idea what happened to them. It’s funny to think of all the things that I use on a daily basis but have no real understanding of. Like my cell phone. The internet. My car. I mean, I know how to drive and I know how to check my tires and my oil but I couldn’t build an engine. I don’t even know the names for all of the parts. I’ve decided that’s okay. In my world, being self-sufficient doesn’t necessarily mean you know how to take care of everything, but rather that you know how to contact those who do.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Back to School, Part II

Today my sister and I took our smallest nephews shopping. Cubs is nine, and Squeak is seven. They couldn't be more different. Cubs walks in, gets out his list, and starts tossing stuff into the cart without fanfare. His only requirement? Nothing in the color green.

Now Squeak, on the other hand, took his shopping very seriously. He also had a list, but for each item he studied all his choices before making a selection and placing it carefully in the cart. He organized his finds, making sure not to pile things too high. As each item was decided, he carefully crossed it off the list.

Me? Well of course I had a list. I bought myself a rockin' raspberry handbag and a lip gloss. I had to start carrying a bag again after my surgery. If I put my cell phone and keys into my pants pocket, the pants fall down. Lovely.

After shopping we treated the boys to pizza slices before we headed for home. Our tradition is one I look forward to every year, but I have to wonder how long the boys will be willing to hang out with their old aunties. Cubs is already showing signs of becoming a 'tween. I don't think it will be too long before we're ousted in favor of shopping alone while mom browses in another part of the store where no one will see her.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Back to School

It's amazing how small my world has gotten. I don't think I've been farther than a mile or two from home for the last few weeks. I see the mailman, the USP guy, and some people who share my last name. I take walks around the block. I spend a few minutes here and there in the garden. Once in a while I spend a few minutes chatting with a neighbor. I used to think it would be great to work from home. Now I'm not so sure. I think I could easily get lost in my own little world.

My mom and I took Diva shopping for back to school. It was a little early, IMO, but we had time and coupons, so what the heck. I can't believe Diva's in second grade already. Sometimes I expect to turn around and see a chubby toddler standing there. She's growing up sooooo fast.

I used to love back to school time. We always got new outfits - even shoes! - and fresh desk supplies. New boxes of crayons and bright pink erasers.....when I got older, I discovered Seventeen magazine. My oldest sister and I would read it together, in the back yard, while we baked in the sun. I actually believed I could ace the school year if I just followed Seventeen's tips. For years after I graduated, I still picked up a Seventeen every August. Just to reminisce.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Lazy Days

While so much of the country is baking in heat, we're experiencing pleasant days and chilly nights. Walking around my neighborhood after dark I see neighbors relaxing around fire pits. The air feels like fall. It's easier to be laid up when the weather isn't summer hot. I hate being stuck in the house with the AC blasting, but the raging heat and humidity we often get in July and August is tough to take, too. We got very lucky this year.

I spent the afternoon lazing in the dappled sun on the patio with a glass of iced tea and a good book. That's pretty much my idea of a perfect day. Colorful birds visited my feeder while Thumper, our resident bunny, nosed around looking for treats. He didn't go home disappointed - Diva tossed him some carrot pieces for his lunch.

So much time on my hands. Too much time to think.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


My days and nights are all turned around. My patterns are wonky to begin with, since I'm a night shifter in my "real" life. But now, with no need to watch a clock and no rhythm to my day I sleep when I feel like it, eat when I feel like it, which isn't often, and watch TV the rest of the time. In the morning I have a follow up at the hospital; if all goes well, I should be able to resume some activity. I wish I could get some sleep. I want to be bright eyed and alert at my appointment in five hours. I want to show the doctor how well I'm doing, so he lifts my restrictions. Funny thing is, thinking about how I need to sleep is probably what's keeping me up.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Back Home

It's over, and I'm home. Things didn't go as well as they could have, but I'll be fine in a couple weeks. Walker has the next few days off to take care of me. I think he has some golf on the agenda, too. My mom brought over dinner tonight. She even cleaned the kitchen afterward. Gotta love the family.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


When I was a kid, my mom spent a week in the hospital. Thirty some years ago, that was the norm after surgery. I remember her preparations: shopping for nightgowns and robes, buying travel sized toiletries, scheduling rides to and from her medical appointments, and, of course, making arrangements for my care while she was gone.

When she got home all the neighbors brought over food, candy and flowers, and magazines. She spent the next several weeks in bed, recovering. We moved a TV into the bedroom for her, and I brought her meals on a tray. We got her a bell to ring if she needed me. My aunt came over to help my mom with her grooming. My sisters did the grocery shopping, laundry, and yard work, while I tried to keep the house clean and made the meals. That fall, I picked out back to school clothes from the catalog and my mom ordered them over the phone. When the orders came in, my mom still wasn't allowed to drive so I borrowed my sister's backpack and rode my bike downtown to pick them up, paying with my mom's store charge card.

It's funny how much has changed. I doubt I'll be getting any meals on a tray after I get home. My neighbors aren't aware of my upcoming surgery. There's already a TV in our bedroom. I'll be back at work, full time, before the end of the summer. I could be home from the hospital less than 24 hours after I check in, if all goes well. I didn't bother shopping for robes and nightgowns, though while I'm running errands this weekend I might look for a robe. I'm considering an iPod, too, though I doubt I'd use it enough to justify the purchase. I ordered some books from and I bought a carpet sweeper light enough for Diva to use on her own so she can help keep the house neat. I made up menus of grillable food for Walker.

All that's left is the waiting......

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Counting Down

It's less than a week until my fibroid surgery now. I can tick off the days on my fingers if I want to. I've been very self indulgent lately - sleeping in, eating whatever I want, ignoring, for the most part, my house and yard work. I'm nervous about this surgery, but at the same time, I'm anxious to get it over with, to get on with my life. I'm tired of looking pregnant. I'm sick of wearing maternity clothes. I want to be able to sit on a patio at a restaurant and enjoy a cold beer without getting dirty looks.

I wish I didn't care about dirty looks and other people's opinions but I do. I wonder what people see when they look at me. I got tired of answering people's questions so I just started keeping to myself. Think about it: there is no graceful way to tell someone who just asked about your due date that you aren't expecting. The minute the words are out of your mouth the other person is burning with embarrassment and heading for the nearest exit. This whole experience has been very isolating. I'm ready to join the world again.

Monday, July 6, 2009

What I'm Reading Now

We Thought You Would Be Prettier by Laurie Notaro

Two thumbs down on this one. I can't even think of much to say about it, except find a better way to spend your time than reading this book. The author shares little snippets of her lift that mostly fall short of funny. Her mom sounds like a trip, though. Perhaps Ms Notaro should write a book about her.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Girls' Day

Diva and I spent the day making cupcakes. A few weeks ago at Sam’s I found a book with all kinds of artfully decorated cupcakes, so of course I had to buy it. It’s always a challenge to entertain Diva on the rainy days, what with Walker addicted to shoot-em-up movies that I’d rather Diva not see, and the basement family room still not rebuilt after the floods two years ago. Cupcakes seemed like a great idea. I encourage her creativity whenever I can.
This was a first attempt for us, and I think they turned out rather well, considering. The ladybugs (M&M’s painted with frosting) were tricky to create and trickier still to apply to the flower. We dropped a few onto their ladybug noggins. We ended up eating those. The centers of the sunflowers are Oreos.
I was impressed that, at seven years old, Diva’s attention span didn’t waver the entire time we were working. She’s a dedicated little thing. And the best part? Sharing the finished product with the rest of the family.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Bear in the City

Looking back on the last post, I'm struck by the irony of the timing. This weekend, a black bear that has been living in the woods on the edge of town for several years without incident decided to take a walk down the bluff, across the highway, and into the city limits. He climbed a tree in a local park and was promptly shot dead by DNR officials who stated they had no choice. They say the nearest agency with a tranquilizer gun is ninety miles away, and they couldn't take the risk that the bear, who was drawing a crowd, would stay in the tree. If he tried to get out of the tree, they reasoned, he would be loose in a residential neighborhood.
Well, I'm not a bear expert but I do believe I'd have called for the tranquilizer, ordered the area cleared of onlookers, and waited it out. IF the bear came down, well, then you do what you need to do. But to senselessly kill him on the chance that he "might" become a threat.....well, those people are right up there with the folks at Anthem who thought a hysterectomy was the best course of treatment for a benign fibroid.
I was disappointed and upset to see the footage of this story on the local news, complete with video of the bear getting shot and falling from the tree. Was it necessary to show that? It must be ratings time.
I have to wonder, too, why the DNR didn't have a dart gun when they knew this bear was living so close to the city. I mean, his woods borders a golf course. Golfers were warned to watch for him, and hikers were taught to be aware of his presence. It would seem logical that someday there would be a need to relocate him. It's been dry here this year. I think it's possible that the bear came down in search of food. It seems irresponsible to say there was no choice but to shoot him. I think it was more a matter of poor management. I just hope we learn from it.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Dawn in the Garden

This week I’ve been working overnights at my job, covering for a coworker who’s on vacation. I really like working nights, and if it wasn’t for the fact that most of the world works daytime hours I’d do this schedule in a heartbeat.
One of the best parts of this shift is coming home at dawn. There’s no traffic on the highway, the sun is just starting to come up, and the air is cool and fresh. This morning, I went into the garden as soon as I got home. Walker and I had planted some trees over the weekend, and since we didn’t get the rain that was forecast, I had to water them before I went to bed.
It was peaceful, there in the garden before the world woke up. A chubby striped chipmunk dashed from plant to plant, making me laugh out loud as I watered and weeded. Last week, Walker saw a fox run through the yard in the early morning with a squirrel in his mouth. I warned the chipmunk to watch out for him.
As much as I enjoy the wildlife that visits our yard – deer, rabbits, raccoons, chipmunks, fox, possums, and even ducks have made appearances – we live in the city. I know these animals would not be here if they weren’t losing their habitat to development.
After an hour or so, the garden was tidy, the plants were watered, and my eyelids were getting heavy. Fog was rolling in from the river a mile to the west. I rinsed off my tools, rolled up my hose, and went to bed.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Making Connections

A month from tonight I will be in the hospital recovering from surgery. I’m nervous, of course, but excited too. That probably sounds strange. Here’s the thing: I’ve been dealing with a very large uterine fibroid for a couple of years now and finally, I get to have it taken out.

Last summer I underwent a new-ish procedure that killed part of the fibroid. The idea was, the dead part would be naturally broken down and flushed from my body, making the rest of the tumor smaller and easier to remove. My insurance company, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield decided that the procedure was unnecessary and therefore not their responsibility to pay for. They stated that I should have had a hysterectomy instead. Um, WHAT THE HELL???? You don't amputate your arm when you get a wart on your finger. This is a treatable condition. Besides, I don’t know who made Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield think that they have the right to decided that I don’t get to have children. I’ve been battling them ever since the day that letter landed in my mailbox. In the meantime, I have had to make payments on a very hefty medical bill. So additional treatment had to wait. The fibroid continues to grow, putting my fertility further at risk. I have to face that.

Some days, I look like I'm already pregnant. Other days I just look fat. I have no idea what size I will be when this melon is removed from my belly. I do know that it doesn’t weigh 42 pounds so I still have a lot of work to do. One thing I noticed was, as I wrote out my monthly clinic bill payment I had major cravings for chocolate. Thinking back on it, I realized that a few days ago when I spoke to a girlfriend on the phone about this very topic, I compulsively ate M&Ms the whole time. I bet if I tracked it, I would see a pattern between the tumor growing in my belly and the junk food I stuff in my mouth.

I know I eat when I'm not hungry. At those times, I usually reach for junk food. Making the connection to why I'm eating when I'm not hungry can only make it easier to say "no!" to the cravings. The fact is there are plenty of things to stress about these days. While I can't control a lot of what goes on around me, I can learn to control my reaction to it.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

What I'm Reading Now:

The Men I Didn’t Marry by Janice Kaplan and Lynn Schnurnberger

This is the story of a lawyer named Hallie who finds herself abandoned by her husband after their youngest child leaves for college. After what seems to me to be a too-brief period of mourning, Hallie sets off to find the men with whom she had a significant relationship prior to her marriage.
I liked the concept of the story better than the story itself. I thought things came together a little too easily, even for a light “chick lit” novel. Bottom line: it’s well written and interesting enough for a beach read, but it hasn’t earned a place on my bookshelf. I’m recycling it on the Amazon used books list.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Forty Pound Sack

When I started this blog, one thing that I hoped to gain was a sense of balance in my life. I tend to take on too many commitments, underestimate the time it will take to complete tasks, and generally try to stuff fifty pounds of figurative crap into a forty pound sack.

The idea was simple: I would post my goals in a public forum, therefore making me accountable to someone besides myself as I work toward them. I also felt that by taking the time to explain myself I might be able to see where my thought process was breaking down and maybe figure out once and for all why I do this to myself when I know better. I mean, why do I constantly set myself up to fail? A friend once saw my weekend to-do list and commented that she didn’t know I had taken the week off. Um, yeah…….except the list was for two days. I did not come close to finishing the list. And yes, I actually thought I might, if I could stay focused and just keep working through each task.

Why is it when we see a friend or a family member juggling too many responsibilities we rush in, ready to help, offering to carry some of the load; but for ourselves, the standards are different? Even when half of me knows I will never be able to accomplish the 10 hours of work I have listed in the 4 hours I actually have available, the other half of me tries to squeeze in just one more thing. The result, of course, is disappointment and failure.

I need to turn this around but I’m not exactly sure how. I think this constant feeling that I’ll never get caught up is holding me back from trying new things. I mean, I can’t very well add more to my already bursting sack, right? So maybe it’s a safety net of sorts. There’s comfort in the routine, even when it doesn’t work.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Contemplating a Cutie Pie

My coworker brought me a treat.
Back from a lunchtime run to Walmart, he deposited onto my desk a two ounce fruit pie individually wrapped in a slick paper sleeve. This yummy concoction is called a Cutie Pie. Mine has exactly one cherry and a smear of filling tucked inside a crust drizzled with icing. There is no question that I will eat it.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

On Nurturing

I have a theory: If you can’t stand your body, you will never be able to care for it properly. To that end, I have spent time every day doing something special for me, something that makes me look and feel better. One day I gave myself a manicure, one day a perfect faux tan. I bought a new shirt and changed my hair. I haven’t spent a lot of money, as most everything I used was already stashed out of sight in the back of my hall closet.

When I take time to use makeup or wear jewelry, people notice, they compliment. While I don’t dress for other people’s comments it doesn’t suck when someone tells me they like my outfit, or my earrings, or wow that color makes my eyes look so blue! Feeling good about me makes me more likely to take care of me – all of me, inside and out.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Plus Sized Fashion - An Oxymoron

It could be that I live in a smallish city in the Midwest. It could be that I shop on a budget. It could be that I have never been what you might consider a trendy person. Whatever the reason, in my closet there aren’t a lot of clothes that I would wear if I had an alternative other than begging my mom to drag out her old Singer and whip me up some outfits.

In my town, we have one dedicated plus sized clothing store. One. Their clothes would best be described as “cute”. Not the look I’m going for at this stage in my life. There are a few discount stores and a few department stores with a rack or two of larger sizes, but with few exceptions the clothes are cheaply made but expensive to buy, and rarely are they actually attractive.

I used to get catalogs from Lane Bryant. Every couple of months I would take the scenic drive to the nearest Lane Bryant Store, 90 miles away. Some might wonder why I would drive almost 200 miles round trip when I could order to my heart’s content with a few clicks of the mouse. Well, I’ll tell you why: return shipping costs a fortune and most of my purchases didn’t fit. Even when I ordered the same top in two different colors, I usually got at least one that didn’t fit.

This is why I found myself driving along a deserted highway on a gorgeous summer day, headed for Lane Bryant with my newest catalog on the seat beside me. The cover of the catalog featured a pretty, though hardly plus sized, model wearing a dressy Capri-pant- and- floaty-top outfit that I thought would be perfect for an upcoming wedding. As I drove I put the whole look together in my mind: earrings, shoes, even my hairstyle. Imagine my disappointment when I finally got to Lane Bryant and not only did they not have the outfit in my size, they didn’t have the outfit at all. I waited while the clerk called in to the regional office, checking to see if it could be ordered. When she finally got off the phone the clerk told me that the outfit on the cover on their catalog wasn’t actually a Lane Bryant item. It was “representative” of styles carried in the store. The clerk had a list of item numbers for clothes the company felt would be good substitutes, so we spent a few minutes looking them up. One was a tube top, one was an oxford type button down blouse, and the third was a graphic print t-shirt. I was so appalled that a company would feature an item they don’t even sell on the cover of their advertisement that when I got home that evening I went online and cancelled my Lane Bryant credit card and removed my name from their subscription list.

After my breakup with Lane I flirted with the “Cute” store for a while, but ultimately I went back to shopping online (I’m still not speaking to Lane). When an item is truly awful I suck it up and pay for the return shipping. The rest of the time I make due. I know that to be politically correct I would have to proclaim that I want to lose weight “for my health” but the truth is, I really want some funky clothes.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

If At First You Don't Succeed.............

“So how’s the diet going?” you might ask. Here’s the thing: I’m not sure. I started the week full of energy and enthusiasm, ready to meet each challenge head on. I took at walk each morning as the sun was coming up. I packed healthy snacks for work and went over a week without visiting the vending machine even once. I got out on my bike every chance I got. I chewed sugarless gum when the cravings hit, and I cut back on soda in favor of iced tea or water. I roasted a whole turkey breast and ate white meat with green salads for supper, trading in my beloved bleu cheese dressing for balsamic vinaigrette. Pretty good right? I thought so, too.

One morning, I think it was Day 5, I was out walking and my capris kept sliding down around my hips. Now, I know that five days isn’t long enough to shrink out of your clothes, so I went home and tried on another pair of pants. They, too, were very loose. My original plan was to weigh in only once a week so as not to get caught up in the day-to-day fluctuations we all have, but I was so excited about my too-big pants that I locked myself in the bathroom and pulled out the scale. There was a FOUR POUND difference. Unfortunately, it was four pounds in the wrong direction. What the hell??? I guess my pants were falling off because I’d sprung the elastic or something. It certainly wasn’t weight loss. I was immediately angry and sad, and I vowed not to weigh myself again until Day 7. I decided my body must be retaining water or something because nobody gains four pounds in five days of clean eating.

Except me.

Here on Day 11, I’m still carrying three and a half of the four pounds. So that means my new goal is 46 pounds. That also means I have no idea what I’m doing.

Rain, Rain, Go Away

It’s been raining for four solid days. Real rain, in big fat drops that just don’t stop. One of my favorite things is to cuddle in bed under fluffy flannel sheets listening to the rain on the roof. So it isn’t all bad. But I really need to get my butt outside.

My gym still isn’t set up.

It’s no one’s fault, really. Walker finished the cleaning, and I must say the garage looks so much bigger now. But before we got anything moved in our neighbor stopped by to invite us to participate in a group rummage sale. We hadn’t planned on doing anything like this, but my mom had a stack of boxes already tagged in her basement, so I collected those, set up some card tables, and we were ready to go by the weekend.

The first day went pretty well, but the rain started on the second day, so we didn’t move too much. My mom decided that since it was all set up she wanted to try again this weekend. So we still have tables full of, ahem, unique, well loved treasures, all over our garage.

This kind of thing is very typical for us. We formulate a plan, put said plan into motion, and watch it die a slow death as more pressing things crop up like so many dandelions after a rain. If we got bonus points for good intentions, we’d be winning the game. Unfortunately, life doesn’t work like that.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Happy Memorial Day

Today I miss my Dad. He died a few years back. During his living years, I didn't see him very often. I didn't think he would leave such a big hole in my life with his passing, but I find myself thinking of him all the time.

My father was one of the most patriotic people I ever knew. He was a proud veteran of the Navy. He assisted with military funerals, he marched in Memorial Day and Veterans Day parades, he donated to every military based charity known to man, and he was proud to fly the flag. For a few years I lived next door to another proud veteran, a man named Rich who chaired a committee to decorate military cemeteries in the area for Memorial Day. My sister and I volunteered with Rich, and every year we met at the cemetery with our flags and our grave map and we flagged the graves of wartime vets. My dad was proud of our contribution, and I took to wearing a name tag with my dad's name on it while we worked. I knew he would have been out there with us if he could have been. And I'm sure he would have joined Rich at the VFW for a cold beer when we were done. Rich passed away last Thanksgiving. The veterans lost a dedicated worker when he died. I hope his flag is flying proud today.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Ready, Set, GO!

Walker was all for my idea to turn the garage into a workout space. Unfortunately, we didn't discuss specifics. Since he's still off work and unable to do much, he got started on the project right away. My plan was to sweep the dust off the floor and move my machines in. Walker's plan involves sanitizing the space, decorating it, and creating "ambiance" of some sort. So, three days later, it still isn't done. He vacuumed for hours today. I haven't been able to bring in so much as a single barbell. Sigh. At least he's occupied.

We did get out to the grocery store today. We're loaded up with fresh produce, a turkey breast, diet raspberry lemonade, and fat free frozen fudge bars for my sweet tooth. I'm not planning to follow South Beach to the letter, but rather to use it as a guide to making healthier choices. I took a walk tonight after supper, too. Baby steps.......

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Have Pedometer, Will Travel - on Foot, That Is!

My Goal: 42 pounds. Maybe a little more. We'll see when we get there. Geez, that sounds like a lot!!

My Tools: South Beach Diet Plan to be used as a guide; South Beach cookbooks; bicycle; free weights and body sculpting tapes; yoga DVDs; Walker.

My Challenges: a full time job plus a part time job plus Walker still recuperating plus a house and yard to take care of = not much time; a raging sweet tooth; limited budget until Walker can go back to work.

My Secret Weapons: Orbit Sugar Free Gum in Sweet Mint and Diet Snapple Plumagranate Iced Tea. Good things that taste like dessert but won’t wreck my plan.

So I'm taking the weekend to dig out my exercise equipment, plan some menus, set up a place to do my workout DVDs, and make a stock-up trip to the grocery store. I need a new battery for my pedometer, too. I'm thinking of turning the garage into a home gym but I need to talk to Walker first. I like the idea, though. We don't park in there so why not? Hmmmm.......

I'm excited to get started. In reality, I've already gotten started, though I'm not tracking anything yet. I'm thinking about every food choice I make, and I took time for a walk this morning before work. My plan is to add exercise to each day, and make the healthiest possible food choices. I don't want to do a "diet" per say, but rather, I want to make changes I can live with for a healthier overall lifestyle. And, let's face it: I want to fit into the clothes in the basement closet.

Ready, set, GO!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Getting Started.....

I stepped on the scale today.

One of the reasons I was hesitant to start a diet blog was simply: I was afraid to step on the scale. I mean, I literally felt sick at the thought of it. Why is that? It’s not like you can’t look at me and see that I need to lose weight. What difference should a number make? But it makes a world of difference to someone like me.

Many years ago, before I became overweight, I was talking with some friends of mine, a married couple. The husband was complaining that his wife – a smart, pretty, engaging woman – had gained “too much” weight since they got married. He was appalled that she now weighted nearly 160 pounds. I listened to them argue back and forth, until eventually the husband pointed at me and said, “She would never let herself go like that. You should spend more time with her!” The wife became understandably upset and left. I was uncomfortable, too, and excused myself shortly after that. The next day the husband came over and apologized for dragging me into their argument, and we moved on without discussing it again.

The thing is, it wasn’t being brought into the argument that bothered me, although I wasn’t thrilled about it. What really bothered me was, even though I easily wore a size ten, I already weighed more than 160 pounds. Had I said that, the husband might have shut up and the wife might have felt a little bit better. But I didn’t. Because I always, even before I needed plus sized clothes, thought my weight was too high. There was just no way I would have disclosed that darn number.

Today, I locked the bathroom door and pulled out the scale. The number, though scary, wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. And now that I know where I’m starting from, I’ll know if I’m making progress. I guess I have no more excuses.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Walker Update

Walker got his staples out today. He’s doing well and is now allowed to drive, and to have a bit more activity than he’s been getting. He still can’t lift or twist his body, so golfing is out, and bike riding will have to wait a few more weeks. Overall, the news was very positive. The biggest problem at the moment is boredom. The doctor said Walker can push a lawnmower, since our yard is flat and the mower is self propelled. I have a feeling the grass will be getting cut daily........

Monday, May 4, 2009

My Mother's Back Yard

There’s something very soothing about my mother’s back yard. It’s long and deep and dappled with shade from ancient maples that meet overhead. It’s rimmed with flower beds full of old fashioned flowers like verbena and roses, lily of the valley and daisies. It’s scattered with shrubs big enough for a child to hide in, and hedges with secret passageways to lands unknown. It’s the kind of yard every grandma should have.

Mowing it is a logistical nightmare. Those ancient maples spring from roots just waiting to trip you up. The flower beds, so pretty to look at, are scattered randomly about the lawn. There are shrubs and downspouts and a clothesline…..but I love it. There are worse things than trailing a mower on a warm spring day, the scent of fresh cut grass filling every breath. All those obstacles force me to slow down long enough to appreciate the beauty in the day, the strength to do the work, and the willingness of spirit to commit to it.

Best of all, at the way-back of the yard, behind the hedges and the fence, there are railroad tracks. To this day, in time honored tradition, when we hear the trains approaching three generations stop whatever we are doing to wave at the conductor. And just as when I was a child, small enough to hide in the shrubs, he always waves back.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Spring is in the Air!

Walker's surgery went well. He's home again, and bored silly. He has at least five more weeks of this and I have no idea how to occupy him. He can't do much at this point. Tomorrow, my mom is taking him on an outing to Sam's Club. Ahhh, fun times.

The weather has turned colder, but spring has definately sprung from all the rain we had last week. There are flowers blooming everywhere, and the trees have a translucent halo of new green. My favorite is when the flowering trees burst into bloom, and the air smells so sweet it's almost intoxicating. I love spring! Would I be horrible if I snuck my bike out and took a ride? I really want to......maybe while Walker on his outing. I won't tell if you won't!

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Best Laid Plans......

The weekend plans were all set: clean up the garden, rake the yard, groceries, house cleaning......the usual. Then Walker ruptured a disc in his back. He's having surgery on Tuesday. He can't get around very well. The weather turned crummy - rainy and cold. There went the yard work. Company stopped by. We rearranged the house for Walker's recuperation. I ran some essential errands, started on the cleaning. Now it's 2:45 am on Monday, I'm still trying to get my basic cleaning done. And, oh yeah - I haven't exercised all weekend. So are these reasons or excuses? And in the long run, does it matter? The bottom line is, I haven't taken a single step toward getting healthy.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Wow, I finally did it….I created a blog. I’ve been thinking about doing this for so long, but I never quite got started.

In the beginning the plan was to create a travel log. My sweetie, Walker, and I were taking several trips a year, and I thought it would be fun to document them from the early planning stage right through the bore-our-friends-with-the-photos state. But then I had some medical stuff, and the trips pretty much stopped. Things are better for me now, but of course with the economy being in the can, spending money on travel is a much less frequent indulgence. So that plan was set aside.

A while later I decided that I should start a diet blog. I thought that declaring my goals in a public forum would help me stay accountable. Well, I have a few issues with that. First of all, I haven’t quite committed 100% to a diet. Or to healthy eating. Or to regular exercise. For all my good intentions, I somehow can’t seem to take the leap. I keep thinking that I need everything in order first. You know: clean out the pantry and toss all the snacks. Make a list of healthy recipes. Line up my clothes in order of size. Put a new battery in the scale. Get new walking shoes and find ankle weights. And so on. My brain knows that all I really need is some motivation. Unfortunately, they don’t sell motivation at Target.

In the end, I decided to start the blog just to start it, and trust that it will define itself as we go. Along the way, if I find some motivation, well, that can only make things better.