Friday, December 31, 2010

The Most Wonderful Night of the Year!

The champagne is iced. The cheese and crackers ready to serve. The caviar is chilling, guest invited, table set, a little bling on the coffee table - everything is ready!

Our annual party is ready to kick off after dark - just the two of us. No traffic, no drunken friends or strangers, just a fun evening in front of the fire for the two of us. A tradition.

It's also the time to be thinking big thoughts for the new year. Peace and hope come to mind. Someone suggested serenity - there's a much better chance of accomplishing that than peace and hope, I think.

For all the blogger friends I've made this year, thanks for spending some of your time reading my feeble words. Thanks for the support you have given me, and for all the happy time I have spent reading your blogs.

I wish you all a wonderful year, filled with love and friends, blue skies and following winds. I do wish for Peace - yep. the kind with a capital "P", and pray for the peace makers. There must be some somewhere.

Oh, one more thing: a glass of your favorite champagne! love, webb

Friday, December 24, 2010

And to All a Good Night!

It's finally that night of nights that we have been waiting for so long. Depending on your tradition either the Christ Child will be born in the morning, or Santa will come tonight.

Whatever your plans, I truly hope your wishes will come true; that you will spend the next couple of days with loved ones; and that you will be happy.

I also hope we will not get too much snow!

Let's pray for Peace, and for those who work for it.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sunday Movies

A cold afternoon with nothing pressing to do, so we saw "The Black Swan". While this is not a traditional ballet movie, it was fascinating. Easy to see why there is Oscar buzz for Natalie Portman. I hope Barbara Hershey also gets consideration. If you get a chance, see it.


Six fitness classes this week and one pound lost. One Christmas party survived. A good week!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Let it Snow...

The tea is hot.
The fire is roaring.
The tree is lighted.
Work is done for the day.

A good to enjoy the snow - after all!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Wrappin' it All Up

The cutting board spread out on the dining room table, rolls of paper everywhere, presents stacked waiting to be wrapped, ribbons unrolling across the table, gift tags on the floor... it could have been yesterday at my house, or any one of the Christmases of my childhood.

The first weekend in December [ok, often the second weekend] my Dad would be found with everything piled up and ready for his special handling and wrapping. He liked to do the wrapping, so Mother did the buying. He was very particular. All the folds were straight and all the ends were perfect - drug store fold, he called it - and every bow precise. As a child I worked my way up the ladder of helper jobs - first, holder of the finger on the bow. (No pre-made stick-on bows were allowed in my house!) The finger holder was always the youngest child there - a fact that I lorded over my brother for many years after he was tired of being the designated finger holder.

One could eventually move up to tag-tier - the person who ties the gift tag on after the bow is properly adjusted. The highest position allowed to a helper was folder of the ends. It took years of training to be allowed to do this all-important job, but no child was ever allowed to progress to the top job - cutter of paper and maker for the initial wrap-around. That job was always reserved for Dad. I think he figured that if he got it started off correctly, we couldn't mess it up too much!

He had triumphs over the years - the year that he passed the pool table off as a set of saw horses with plywood on top. That stunt lasted nearly two weeks without my brother even thinking of taking a peek. And, he disguised my piano as a sideboard, going thru an elaborate charade of sending Mother out to shop while "her" sideboard was delivered - with my brother and me hired as guards to keep her out of the house until he was finished with the wrap. The man was a master with paper and tape!

His techniques have served me well over the years and I still count wrapping as another of my beloved holiday tasks. I thoroughly enjoyed spending both yesterday morning and today getting everything that needs to be shipped all ready to go.

I'm feeling a little bit traitorous this year. Sande over at A Gift-Wrapped Life has been encouraging us to spread our wings and try some fancier, more special treatments this year. While my packages will never look like hers, I did choose two themes this year with bright red packages for the women on my list and red and green plaid for the men. My big jump, tho, was leaving behind the curl-tie ribbon that Dad favored and moving up the scale to wider, decorative ribbon that is wired on the sides - at least for the women. I also used fancy tissue papers this year and Merry Christmas stickers - innovations all. My family is going to love Sande's influence on me.

My niece has a late December birthday, so I always try to include a special something for her that is clearly not a Christmas present. This is probably my best wrapping job in years - complete with two perfect ends! And I love the ribbon, except that I bought it before I knew about wired ribbon, so it's not perky.

I'm thrilled with the results and will probably move a little farther to the creative side in the future. (Many thanks to Sande.) So, on the one hand a big job is finished and I will make the trek to UPS tomorrow to get our gifts on the way to friends and family, but on the other hand I am finished with a fun job... until next year!


Finally I am feeling a bit of progress on this little project. The MyFitnessPal website seems to be helping. Somehow there is a sense of accomplishment in logging all my food and exercise, and I like the little computer generated encouragements that I get every day. It's also fun to see if I can search for a food they don't have - so far they are winning that contest.

I gained five pounds during the week of Thanksgiving when we were traveling. Those came off in the next 10 days, putting me back to where I started in the first place nearly two months ago. I am not really counting those five pounds as lost, altho MyFitnessPal does. They had not been attached long enough to get settled into the new neighborhood.

Even counting my old starting point, I am down - ta ta - 1.5 pounds this week. That's after attending three holiday parties this week. I have been to dance class five times and planned for bigger dinners on the party nights, and managed very well. So, today I am feeling very powerful and ready to tackle next week.

Hope that you are doing as well and feeling as strong.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Oh Tannenbaum!

When I was a child, my parents had a very nice arrangement worked out with Santa. In addition to bringing our presents on Christmas Eve night, he also brought our tree. Imagine the wonder for two small children to go to bed in a "normal" house, and then to wake the following morning to a completely decked out, shining Christmas tree.

As an adult I am eternally thankful to those wonderful elves who made that happen, and wonder how they got thru Christmas Day on so little sleep - well, those were the day of afternoon naps! While some friends and neighbors put their trees up earlier in the month, it was fairly common on those days to wait until Christmas Eve, and even after Santa stopped bringing ours, we never considered putting it up a day earlier.

I remember well the first year that I was allowed to stayup after my younger brother was in bed to help with this all important job. It's those experiences that mold our adult traditions and provide the special memories that keep us tied to Christmases past. Perhaps that explains why trimming the tree is still my favorite activity of the season.

Many things have changed. Instead of the balsam of childhood, we now have an artificial tree - which actually has lights permanently affixed. And, instead of the ten-foot tree we used in our last house, we have a small six-foot tree. Sadly, when we down-sized the house, I had to down-size the tree. But large or small, real or artificial, putting it up is still a high priority.

Each ornament has a story. There are glass ornaments that I inherited from my Dad. They were on those well remembered trees of my childhood - even that first one that I helped to trim. Many are hand made by some of the finest craftsmen of the southeast United States - gathered when we made our living with our hands. Some came from trips we took together - the road runner, a map of Texas, the flamingos, palm trees from the Bahamas, and the kissing fish from San Francisco's Chinatown. The newest is an angel made from an oyster shell, walnut shell and Spanish moss.

Some came from friends old and new. Many are from natural materials - shells, wood, felt and a lovely poinsettia made from the scales of a gar fish. There are mini-collections of Santas and angels and many brass stars and snowflakes. A glass pickle for good luck. And, at the top of the tree a hand made tin and brass star.

Each piece is lovingly placed each year and, after the first of the year, packed away in paper for protection until next year.

Now that it's up and glowing, I can enjoy it for the next three weeks and remember all those wonderful trees over the years. This one can join a long line of great memories. Let the festivities begin!

Note: To see what other bloggers are doing this year, check out My French Country Home, where Sharon is linking to other trees. When you are there you will enjoy her blog.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Let the Merriment Begin!

Today is the first day of the holiday season! Well, for me it is. I hung the wreath. The first step.

I love the Christmas season - every single thing: the buying, the wrapping, the cooking, the eating [well, you know about that!], the tree, the music, the everything else. Unfortunately, Mitchell is less enthusiastic, altho he puts up with my enthusiasm for it. And, he does like some of it - he just doesn't want to admit it.

So, step one: The wreath is up. Previous years I used this wreath with big red poinsettias on it, but my wonderful sister-in-law gave me the oversized metal "ornaments" for Christmas last year. I liked them so much that I chased down a local source and bought a couple more. I love the look now.

Ho, ho, ho!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Kicking it up a Notch

So... the 10-10-10 Get in Better Shape (aka Lose Some Weight) program is not going so well. After a week's vacation that included five mornings of tennis and two days on a bike, I "only" gained five pounds - putting me at a new lifetime high weight. Not at all the sort of record one wants to set - ever!

It's time to kick it up a notch.

I have a lot of things going for me:

1) I have all the skills and experience I need for this. I have lost weight successfully a number of times. [Altho it's also true that I am even more successful at gaining it back. We will deal with that later - in about six months!]

2) I have support. Stacy (a Wise Woman), you all in blogland, and starting today Mitchell. More on that later.

3) I have found an exercise that I actually like - Jazzercise - and have been slowly increasing the number of times a week I go. And after a three-month break, I am ready to start playing tennis again.

4) I have a new tool. I know that journaling is incredibly helpful in the weight loss game, but I have not been doing it. Apparently having to write it down if it goes into the mouth causes us to either not put it in the mouth at all, or to choose a healthier option. You know, a cup of tea instead of a tablespoon of peanut butter (right out of the jar!). But, keeping track in my head is just not doing the trick.

5) And, perhaps most important of all, I know that I can do it. It will be hard, but I can do it.

And, I'm sharing the new tool with you. It's a free website called MyFitnessPal. You set up an account, set your goals and create a profile and then track both your food intake and your exercise on whatever basis you want - daily, weekly, or whatever. That sounds a lot like journaling, doesn't it? The modern difference is that the site calculates how much exercise and how many calories you need for a slow and sensible weight loss and provides the info on how many fat grams, carbs, protein grams and fiber grams on a daily basis. As you enter your foods consumed, it calculates what you have left. At the end of the day - when you have also entered any exercise - it gives you a daily summary.

You can do weigh-ins as you wish and it keeps a running track, as well as calculating BMI - now, that's scary - and resting metabolism and all sorts of other nerdy statistical stuff. There are message boards, blogs, all sorts of community resources. You have the option to post your weight loss to your Facebook account - like I'm going to do that!! And if you have one of those fancy phones, you can access your account from there and do your inputting on the fly.

Mitchell found the site this morning and shared it with me. He announced that he wants to lose some weight, too, and we are going to work together on this. It helps so much to have an in-the-house partner. We planned dinner together tonight and calculated how much each of us could have, and he's already talking about how to make soup tomorrow, so it will be a good partnership for us both.

If you are interested, please join us. We're gonna get healthy ... and a bit slimmer! My goal is significant for a short woman, so it may take nine months or more, so I am looking at 11-11-11 as a goal date. How do you like that?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

This is my favorite holiday. None of the stress of present-buying and all of the love of Christmas with better rules. Here are some to remember:

1) Family is number one: but more importantly, family is who you say it is. When Mitchell and I were first a couple we had several Thanksgiving celebrations where we included all the singles and folks "with no where to go" that we knew. It was great fun. A pot luck to bring everyone together and instructions to bring your favorite dish. Sometimes the menu was odd, but the family time always wonderful.

It's always great to be with one's birth family or one's family by marriage, but there are lots of other ways to slice and dice a family and the love is just as good.

2)Tradition is important: All thru college I traveled home with Elizabeth to her traditional Italian-American family. Mama Lee pulled me right into the heart of their celebration and taught me that one really must include pasta in the festivities. She knew I loved gnocchi, so she always made it by hand from potato flour for dinner on Wednesday night when we arrived, but there was always a real pasta for Thanksgiving dinner. I know that when Elizabeth and her sister and their families sit down to dinner today in Florida there will be red sauce on something, 'cause that's how we do it in our family.

3) Food is definitely important: Where would we be without green bean casserole? or sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top? But there are lots of other ways to go. During our vegetarian period, we had tofu. And, we have frequently substituted chicken, or smoked the turkey rather than baking it. Two years we had fried oysters as the main course, and tonight I'm thinking it might be prime rib. It's all about enjoying whatever is on the table.

3b) Overdoing on the cooking is not necessary: I think we all have a preconception of what should be served and tend to work ourselves to death to obtain it. I am looking forward to learning what my friend Marn has this year. She will attend a small gathering for which her granddaughter and her friend - aged 18-ish - will be the chefs. I suspect it will be great, and all the better for having been prepared by new cooks who are sprouting their wings.

4) Home is where the heart is: For many years now Mitchell and I have traveled away for Thanksgiving - just the two of us. We have dined in restaurants by ourselves, with friends, and once with a couple we met while waiting for our table. It was a lovely evening. They were about 20 years our senior and we enjoyed learning about their family and their tradition of travel - which was much like ours. As long as the two of us are together, it's home.

5) Don't worry about shopping until tomorrow!

Happy Thanksgiving! Hope you are at home with the family you love today. And thanks for being out there day after day to read the drivel on this blog. I am very thankful for you all!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Much is being said these days about the TSA and the new airline security pat-downs. If you have not seen Saturday Night Live's* take on this... you must. If you have.... it's probably worth another look! Happy Tuesday!

* Consider this a warning. It is SNL!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Help From a Wise Woman

One of the Wisest of Women came for a brief visit, and as usual brought me her wisdom and a new insight into my never-ending struggle to lose weight. Stacy was in town to speak at our quarterly staff meeting this week.

In the two years since we worked together, she has returned to school and is 75% thru her Ph.D. course load and is working as a researcher in obesity at the state land grant university. The combination of her work experience and her studies gives her the exact set of skills and knowledge that can provide good training and insight to our staff of health educators and exercise physiologists.... and HR me!

It has been fun over the years to learn tidbits from their specialty. In 18 years I've heard at least 100 presentations on some part of health education, and have worked with staff as they developed at least 1,000 programs so I have more than a working knowledge of the field and less than expertise. Stacy's talk on Theories of Behavior Change was not over my head at all, and led me to an ah ha moment.

Self-efficacy - a fancy scientific name for self-confidence. Apparently the reason that many people fail in their efforts to change their behavior is that they are not confident that they can do it. "I need to go to the gym every day, but I can't make the time." " I want to stop smoking, but I smoke three packs a day." " I want to lose weight, but I love to eat."

I just don't believe that I can do it. Wow, there it was. Right in the middle of her presentation it hit me square in the face - almost viscerally. I really don't believe that I can do it.

And, there's a lot of evidence that proves me right. I lost 35 pounds six or seven years ago before putting it all back on. And, I can't count - or even remember - all the other times that I have lost 10 - 20 pounds, just to regain it. A true yoyo dieter. There it is - evidence. I can't do it.

Wait a minute. There's also evidence that I can. What about those 35 pounds? I did lose it. It was hard, but I did it. And I kept it off successfully for 18 months. Bought an entire new wardrobe in a much smaller size. What can I do to replicate that success? What happened? Why did I put it back on? What can I learn from that experience that will make me successful again?

Simple answer: I'm an emotional eater. Something bad happened and I packed on 10 pounds in one week (seriously!) and then "what the heck?" Rather than lose the 10, I gained 25 more seeking comfort in food.

So what's the take away message from Stacy?

1) I can do it. There is evidence. I have done it successfully in the past.

2) I need to reinforce that successful behavior. I need to tell myself - daily? Well, how about at every meal and perhaps when I think I want a snack? - that I can do it. I can skip the extras. I can eat smaller portions. I can throw away food!

3) I need to go back to what I know works - smaller portions, keeping a food journal, and more exercise. And I need to add good self talk.


Ok, so it's been five weeks since I launched my 10-10-10 campaign and I have lost exactly zero pounds. It's a two-pronged campaign - more exercise and less food.

I have done a good job of getting myself to Jazzercise more days a week. Last week it was four, and as much as I hate to admit this... I am starting to resent things [like work] that keep me away. The next step is to add afternoon classes when I miss my morning class. Right now we are headed to a week's vacation where we plan to play a lot of tennis and have already reserved bicycles for the week. The plan is to do some form of physical activity every day, so that should be an acceptable substitute for dance class.

And, I have a new strategy for eating. Remember past success. I can do it.

And you can, too! Think about it. Do you believe you can do it? Do you.... really?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

November 18, 2010



This is what November should be like!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Shrub of the Year

Fall reached out and grabbed me by the throat this week. Somehow, I have been drifting mindlessly thru life for the past few weeks. Yes, I knew it was October, then November, but somehow my eyes were shaded and my heart closed. But no more.

Over the weekend I spent part of three days pulling weeds and cutting perennials back and - my favorite - digging in the dirt! The feel of clean, gritty dirt under my nails. Who would think that I had missed that feeling? But having it back was luxurious.

Someone has painted all the trees red and yellow. I've waited too long to find the perfect tree, because it is raining today and beating the leaves down. The roads are littered with them and the trees are starting to look boldly bald. The yard looks like Midas has sprinkled big coins all over.

How I wish I had starting looking a week ago for the perfect tree. Brilliant reds and golden yellows everywhere make my heart ache. This fothagilla turns to flames in the afternoon sun - every day - like a gift wrapped package... just for me. So, I've chosen it as the perfect shrub this year.

And, there are surprises, too. Like this lovely iris that I planted in July. I don't know if it's confused or a true rebloomer. Either way, it has eight buds on three stalks and if we get a couple of warm sunny days may open before we leave for our Thanksgiving trip farther south - at least I hope they will.

Other plants are giving me one last flush of bloom. A miniature rose that came from my aunt's garden more than 10 years ago is covered with both blooms and buds, and the volunteer nandinas that I transplanted from all over the yard have finally started to make me a hedge. From twigs less than 12 inches tall, I now have three-foot tall shrubs covered with berries. Where in the world did they come from... and when?

The true answer - of course - is that they have been there all along. It was I who deserted the garden this year. First because it was so blasted hot this summer than I didn't want to venture out, and then later because Mother fell ill and I spent my days traveling from here to there, and finally spent weeks in a daze after her death.

At a time when nature is going to sleep, I am finally waking up. As a daughter of Demeter and a sister of Persephone, that's okay. I will take my winter's sleep in a month or two, but like the iris I am blooming out of season this year. The important part is that I am finally starting to bloom.

Garden mums are growing everywhere - filling the yard with lavender.

The "pacific daisies" [they're really mums, too] are also in full bloom.

This mini rose is predominently white, but some blooms have pink picot edging and
some are more streaked - like this one. It makes for a lovely flush of blooms.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Let's All Vote!

You voted last week - right? You hope your vote - whatever way you voted in whichever contest - will actually make a difference - right?

Well, I have another "election" for you and I guarantee that your vote - no matter which candidate - actually will make a difference ... to you, to me and to every tax payer in the country. A tall order, but I can deliver.

Most of us have had the experience of seeing something in our job site that could be changed, streamlined, or done a better way to save our boss/organization/agency either a lot of time or significant dollars - maybe both. Sometimes we can actually get that idea implemented, but probably more often we can't. Because, "we've always done it that way."

Apparently the President has had that experience, too. Last year, he asked Federal employees to send in ideas that would save either time or money for the Federal government - the SAVE Award. The goal was to produce ideas that would save money and improve the way that the government does business. In less that three weeks the ideas came pouring in - 38,000 of them. Twenty ideas were included in the 2011 Federal budget and others were used across the country to save money at Federal agencies.

The winning idea last year was to find a way to avoid throwing out bulk medicines used in VA hospitals. Apparently, when a patient is released from a VA hospital - or any other hospital for that matter - all the left over medications are thrown away. Eye drops and ointments are frequently only used a few times, so the idea is to find a way to safely reuse these items for other patients to avoid the cost of trashing them.

It's time to vote for the 2010 winner and here's where you come in. After 18,000 ideas were submitted, and after 164,000 Federal employees voted to choose the four finalists, now Uncle Sam needs you. The four finalists for this year are:

1) to post sales of assets seized by Homeland Security on the Internet, instead of buying advertising space in local newspapers.

2) t0 distribute the daily Federal Register to 8,000 Federal employees electronically instead of mailing them. When the public was offered electronic copies (with an opt in for paper) the number mailed dropped from 25,000 to 500.

3) To use regular ground service to return empty containers to USDA food inspectors rather than Express Delivery. Currently inspectors ship samples to the lab via Express Delivery and the empty containers are returned the same way.

4) To replace paper forms used by mine operators with online forms to reduce the cost of reproduction and mailing.

All of those sound like great ideas to me - altho I do have a favorite - and I suspect all four will end up in the 2012 budget along with many more.

Before you make your choice, you need to know what fabulous prize the winner gets. It's a trip to D.C. to present the winning idea to the President. No big money; just a trip (and probably a certificate). So there you have it. Go to the SAVE Award website and vote. You will make a difference and help reduce the cost of government for next year and perhaps years to come - I guarantee it!

Vote early, vote often - just kidding!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sexy Shoe


This is the 2010 winner of the Sexiest Shoe contest. Can't you just see Drew Barrymore wearing it? At $2,400 it's a bit out of my league and at 5.5 inches high it's way out of my comfort zone, but if you were looking for a little something to send me for Christmas... I'm a seven.


7 classes, -.5 pound. At least it's back in the right direction

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Getting Out of the Rut...

of cooking, that is.

Do you find a good recipe- or maybe an old favorite - that you make and make and make? I certainly do that, even tho I read plenty of magazines with lots of good new choices. And, I have a pile a foot deep of things that sound good, but which I haven't gotten around to trying... yet.

So the past few weeks I have been really making an effort to make at least one new thing a week. I've even made shopping lists! Two weeks ago it was Southwestern Cream of Chicken Soup - delicious the first night, but too much cheese to reheat well. Last week I tried Pork and Mushroom Stew, which was delicious, and quickly disappeared.

This week's entry was Chicken Chilaquiles Casserole. It looked so good that I meant to take a photo, but since I didn't you will have to take my word that it looked almost like the photo from the magazine! The recipe for two made plenty for two meals, so we will reheat it with chips or something over the weekend.

The real problem was that the promised 40 minutes to prepare was really an hour plus, and I used half the pots and pans that I own. Mitchell gallantly did the dishes since I had been - literally - slaving over a hot stove for so long. I liked the flavors, so will try to find a way to re-create the taste without the long prep time.

I have one more recipe chosen for next week and then it will be time to fall back on some old favorites - Chicken Chili, anyone?


Four Jazzercise programs, +0.5 pounds. Frustration.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Catching Up

Fall has sneaked up on me this year.

In the back of my mind I was aware that college football was underway [seven weeks it turns out!] and that the sky was changing its color. I had seen the deep V's of geese flying and heard their honking. [In this neck of the woods they are flying in both directions - most confusing!]

Pumpkins are lined up at every church in the neighborhood. Who buys all those wonderful orange orbs? and, have you seen the pale greens ones? They look like something a luna moth would love. Actually, I love them, too.

Even the pond fish have started coming sluggishly to get a snack. Gone are the feeding frenzies of the warmer weather.

Yesterday we turned the gas on for the fireplace and put the comforter on the bed. Today we'll switch out the winter clothes for the summer stock.

I think today I will go see how many mall stores have put up their Christmas gear. That should get me caught up with the change of seasons!


5 classes
-1.5 pounds

Nothing extraordinary there - well, the five classes are. But at least I don't have to drag out my excuse of eating for two days this week at a posh resort, where I tried to single-handedly empty their dessert bar.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Creepy, Crawley Critters

This has been an odd week, working on the road with my boss and a cast of thousands (12) including my very own Mitchell. The client is important to us, so we are putting on the full court press, but are actually not at all busy. Mostly I have finished the client work in a couple of hours each morning and then spent the rest of the day being available and charming. No, I am not a call girl - altho charming and available did sound a bit like that. Actually, I am one of the computer geeks in a crowd this is pretty pc saavy and hasn't really needed us.

My laptop is old and slow, so I have spent the week using the boss's and trying to figure out why in the world it is configured (or not configured) the way it is. Fodder for another time.

The big issue this morning was ... bed bugs! You read about them. They are on the rise in the U.S. again, but you never think that you will come close to contacting one. But two people in our group did - up close and move-to-another-room-personal. One was so spooked that she left work this morning and headed to the emergency room for "treatment".

That was when I realized that altho I have read tons about how to prevent them and what to do to get rid of them - basically, call the exterminator and let him worry about it - I had not seen anything much about what to do if you are the not-so-happy recipient of the bites. So, what did I find? Benedryl and cortisone cream - plain and simple.

Apparently most folks are not particularly sensitive to the bites, but a small percent of people do react with an alergy-induced itch. There is an even smaller group of people who will get an infection from scratching the bites and introducing whatever germ is hanging around on their skin or in their environment. That requires an antibiotic cream in addition.

So, my co-worker has gone off to an emergency room to get benedryl and cortisone cream! She will spend a ton of money (and help cause health care costs soar again for everyone) and delay getting treatment because they will send her to a drug store after she has waited for an hour to be seen. I would be a whole lot more interested in cleaning off my suitcase and making sure all my clothes get washed tonight in hot, hot water.

And, I plan to plan ahead for my next trip and include two more things in my overnight bag. Benedryl and cortisone cream.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Happy 10-10-10

It's all over the news today, and it seems like a big deal, so I keep trying to think of something worthwhile to do to celebrate the uniqueness of the date. [I hear the English teachers in revolt over "uniqueness". I know. I did it for effect.]

According to 32,000 couples are getting married today. I can't really do that, since I'm already married. Virginia is a conservative state, and I'm pretty sure bigamy is still a big no-no-no here.

In numerology the date reduces to "5" which is apparently the number for love. Using another formula in numerology the three 1's signify success and the three 0's signify divine support. That makes it sound like a project involving love would have both success and a little help from "above". I don't really have a little project like that in mind. Somehow I think that Virginia might allow it, but Mitchell might have a bit of a problem with it....

Those of you in the garden business will have immediately recognized 10-10-10 as the fertilizer for nearly everything. You know, if you don't have time - or energy - to fertilize all the different parts of your garden with what they need, give them all 10-10-10 and everyone will be somewhat happy and better off than they will be without any fertilizer. This is probably how I should have spent the day, but I didn't. I may see how this one works on 10-15-10 instead.

Suzy Welch has a book [disclaimer here: I have not read the book, just the Amazon blurb] in which she posits that when making a decision one needs to consider the rule of 10-10-10. What will be the consequences in 10 minutes, 10 months and 10 years. Now here's something I might be able to use.

I like the approach. We tend to look a decisions in terms of the ends of our noses, rather than taking a short, medium and long view - all at the same time. So, sometimes we luck into a good decision ("we'll eat the sirloin tonight, because it won't keep") and sometimes we don't. ("Love these shoes, am sure they will feel better as they get broken-in.." but, none of you has ever done that!)

The decision that I have been tossing around in my head for months, ok, years, is to make a commitment to a healthier lifestyle.

Perhaps I should tell you the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth:

1) I've been on every diet known to man: Atkins (lost 35, gained 40); grapefruit (lost 15, gained 15); Pritikin (can't remember); Scarsdale (not that one either); Weight Watchers (three times); SlimFast, OptiFast; NutriSystem (lost 5, gained 5) and dozens more. Net result I'm at least 30 pounds above my BMI optimal weight. Either that, or I should be seven inches taller - I looked it up, but don't think there is much chance of that happening.

2) I work for a health education company. I tell people that I am the affirmative action hire, but going to meetings with all those folks who are in good shape is depressing. The partners are fully supportive of my taking time off in the middle of the day to get exercise. They let me play tennis last season on Thursday mornings, and pay for my tennis club membership. No excuse there.

3) I've taken steps - just not enough. I go to Jazzercise two or three days a week - most weeks. Too often I let my work schedule interfere. I like to go at 8:15 in the morning, but when I have an early meeting I don't go at 4:30 or 5:45 or 7:00 in the evenings, and I could. And, I've slacked off tennis. Actually haven't had a racquet in my hand since the middle of July. I have lots of excuses, but no good reasons.

So, 10-10-10. Here it is. I am committing to a healthier lifestyle - fewer calories and more exercise. The goals are 1400 calories a day and five sessions of exercise a week.

Charlene at the Balance Beam keeps telling me to see this as a positive - live a healthy lifestyle, not go on a diet - so I shall.

The one component of Weight Watchers that I always thought was the most helpful was the public acknowledgment of progress, so I will also be posting two things every Sunday: the number of workout sessions for the week, and the number of pounds lost. [You notice that I am not giving you my starting weight - TMI!]

So, we will call this 10-10-10 because I will love myself more and have success because of the divine support [I actually think that you all are the divine support] garnered by committing on this auspicious day, and the 10-minute consequence is that I will not have peanut butter crackers as a snack this afternoon [tea instead], but in 10 months I will be healthier [and lighter], and I will live 10 more years because of it.

Tune in - we're gonna make me successful.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Tuesday's Child

A child of the depression, she was too young to remember the good days before the crash. While her sisters longed for the closets full of party dresses of better days, to her the depression meant moving to live full time in the beach house and having her beloved daddy home after school every day. She loved to walk downtown with him, even when it took hours for him to stop and speak to everyone in town. She walked and fished and swam in a village of 1,200 in the winters and where she knew everyone, too. She went to the only elementary school and the only high school.

Her sisters went to work right out of high school, and re-designed their clothes so that she never went without. They all saved money so that she could go to college, when all of them had longed to. Even so, she grew up a saver - measuring every purchase in terms of value for dollar. It became a lifelong habit.

She was a bobby soxer, who danced away summer nights at the beach club to the strains of the biggest of the big bands - Dorsey, Miller and the rest. She fell in love with Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett.

At 21 she married that good looking Marine from the next block and embarked on the twin adventures of marriage and motherhood. She left her beloved beach to follow her Marine to Boston and then to Ocracoke, North Carolina. Living with three other couples on the second floor of a "native" home, she cooked in the chicken coop and taught young wives from California to make "southern" fried chicken - but not from those in the coop!

She was 23 when her first child was born - a daughter she could cherish, fight with, and train to be an independent woman like her mother. A son followed, whom she taught to iron his own shirts.

In her forties she left the marriage and started a monogramming company. In a few years she was the business manager of a large medical practice - a niche that suited her perfectly and where she stayed for 25 years. In her spare time, she took drawing lessons and was soon painting in oil, watercolors and pastels. Her portraits of children became sought after around town and a favorite endeavor. She sold quite a few.

Following in the tradition of women in her family, she loved to dig her hands in the dirt and produce lovely flowers. Eventually her interest turned to orchids and she built a greenhouse to house the hundreds of specimens she grew. Even when she downsized, she found room for a few hardy cymbidiums and cattleyas to live on her balcony.

In retirement she returned to her beach and married one of the "beach boys" - no, not them. Together they shared their golden years until dementia robbed them of his memory. In her last decade she joined a writing group and flourished. Short stories and essays led to writing a family memoir and an historical novel based on a true family story. She wrote hundreds of manuscripts - not all finished.

Thursday she will join her sisters one last time - on equal footing in her own clothes, not hand-me-downs. She leaves a legacy of independence, creativity and genuine enjoyment of life for her daughter and granddaughters. She will be missed.

Monday's Child is fair of face,
Tuesday's child is full of grace.

Jean, George, Pat, Helen, Margaret, Agnes, Anne, and Nell

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Vernal Equinox

The moon coming up over the ocean and the sun setting on the sound. What could be more lovely? or peaceful? And not just once, but six evenings in a row. Such is vacation.

Long walks on the beach in the early morning - sand so wet that it tugs at my feet and makes my quads and abs ache. Might have something to do with my overall fitness. Such is vacation.

Many good books read sitting on the breezy porch with Mitchell. Such is vacation.

Good friends, good food, good [ok, great] wine. Such is vacation.

Lots of naps, sleeping late, time for reflection. Such is also vacation.

After six weeks on a roller coaster - at work, but mostly at home - a week at the Outer Banks of North Carolina was just what the doctor ordered. Time to decompress from the hard days of packing up Mother's apartment, visiting her in the hospital, moving her to a nursing home, making decisions that I do not want to have to make. Wow! I needed a vacation. Altho there are worse days to come, I feel refreshed and more ready to deal with them as they arrive.

What is it about the roar of the waves breaking and the rustle of leaves as the wind is passing by that carries off our cares and woes? How is it that getting a little closer to nature makes us whole again. Is it the getting closer to our inner dolphin? More likely, it's six days without access to email!

And, why did I forget my camera?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Back to Blogging - Day Three

Today's assignment is to re-post a title I liked. I found it very hard - not because I liked so many of my former titles, but because I liked so few. I think usually my title is the idea that got me writing that day, and because I often think in little throw-away lines, I just use them as titles. Occasionally, I know what I want to write, but add the title at the end.

In searching through, I liked this one because it gave a better idea of where I was headed than many do. And, I have to admit that I was intrigued by the fact that hair use #2 is for cleaning up oil spills. Apparently the booms they have been using to clean up the BP spill are filled with human hair. I read somewhere that hair dressers all over the country have been shipping hair to the Gulf. I was ahead of my time!

Hope you enjoy the re-run.

Hair - it's Way More Than Just Head Cover

It seems that hair is on my mind a lot recently. You know, the stuff that covers your head. Well, not doing that so well these days, but it's one of those things that I just kinda take for granted. For some reason, tho, I seem to keep bumping into new considerations, like these:

Hair as Mulch - I am not making this up. A few days ago I heard a piece on NPR about using hair as mulch. Seems a retired hair dresser - guess that's an old fashioned term, but I am an old fashioned kind of girl - decided that he was throwing away something valuable and found a way to make mats of hair that one can use as a fertilizing mulch. If you don't want to purchase someone else's hair as mulch for your garden, you could use your own - save it, or perhaps put it in your compose and let the nutrients go there.

To Clean up Oil Spills - About 10 years ago NASA experimented with using human hair to clean up oil spills. They were apparently interested in oil spills at sea, but I didn't know that we had to worry about oil spills from space craft... maybe it was interagency cooperation. Since we haven't heard much about this, I guess it didn't work out.

Make Clothing - A designer in Australia has actually done this in 2007. It takes a lot of hair to make this little number, but I think it's pretty - not my style, mind you, but great for the right person. Wonder how if feels. More importantly, do you use conditioner when you wash it?

Build Furniture
- Apparently you can make chairs out of hair - at least one inventor in London has done it. Should I sit in my hair chair in my hair dress?

Art (and maybe Crafts) - Dartmouth displayed a huge wall hanging made of hair. I actually think it's attractive, altho I don't have a wall long enough so won't be making a bid for it. This one actually makes sense to me. I've always liked fiber art, altho the fiber normally comes from sheep and llamas. Guess is you can spin sheep hair, it's not a big step to spinning human hair. We once met a woman who collected dog hair, spun it and knitted sweaters. Dogs are like family members for most folks. You know, our ancestors kept hair from loved ones. I've seen it rolled into scroll-like designs and kept in a locket. Perhaps this is not such a new idea after all.

Hair! Flow it, show it; long as I can grow it, my hair!

Hair! (hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair)
Flow it, Show it;
Long as God can grow it, My Hair!

Hair! (hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair)
Flow it, Show it;
Long as God can grow it, My Hair!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Back 2 Blogging - Day Two

Today the assignment is to post something that I wish more people had read. Since it is a fairly long post, here's the link, and I won't try to copy it over.

It's basically a post about our obsession with our weight and size and some thoughts on accepting a healthy weight, rather than a size. I worry that we as a nation - at least the female half - are so concerned with our size. It cannot be healthy to hear 10 year olds saying they are too fat - especially when they are not. But, it's equally bad to see the 10 year olds who are already 50 pounds overweight and to recognize the struggle they will have for the rest of their lives.

Why can't we find a happy medium? Why are we still failing to teach our children and ourselves about healthy eating and healthy exercise?

On the down side, I see that nearly a year later I have not actually made any progress in my own struggle. Today I promised myself that I would not have a sugary snack all day... and I succeeded. Now I feel like a member of AA and am telling myself "one day at the time".

And perhaps that is the secret: progress is measured in one small step, or one day, at the time. I'm psyched for day two. Think I'll reward myself with a trip to Jazzercize!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Back 2 Blogging

It's only 11:30, so if I hurry I can still do today's assignment. I need to write this week. Things are not going well and I am bottling up too much inside, so maybe this is the kick in the pants I need. Back in March 2009, I awoke to a gorgeous morning. Wanted to write about it, so I started this blog. So, welcome to day one.

Little House in the Snow Storm

I HATE snow, but this is the most gorgeous morning I have ever seen. It's only the third largest snow I can remember, but by far the prettiest.

The biggest was 1979 in DC when we got more than twenty inches, but I was too worried about missing a day of work to enjoy it. I shoveled for hours to get my car cleared, before realizing that work was out of the question - we were off three days, but I had wasted the best one. The second largest happened in 1983, but we were in Charleston and drove home to it, so we missed the first day ah ha experience. And the most fun was 1966 in Williamsburg. We got about eight inches over spring break. As one of fewer than 50 "women" who had stayed at school, I spent two days wandering all over town with my "day student" friends - played on the golf course, learned to play pool, and had a wonderful time.

But this is Laura Ingalls Wilder snow. At least eight inches on the back deck. It's still coming down and blowing and almost a white out. Huge cardinals in the trees all hunkered down and puffed to the max. The bird feeders are covered with finches and the occasional woodpecker, and all the small birds taking shelter underneath the table on the deck - with its snow hat.

It brings back a primal memory I have of snow in Lafayette, Indiana, when I was about four and the snow seemed to cover the windows. It's not that deep, really, but has that same heavy blanket feel.

I'll be tired of it by noon and will hate it by noon tomorrow, but for this morning I think I will glory in it for a while - and take some pictures. Later I will worry about the shrubs, but for right now they can just be lovely lumps of cream.

Wishing all of you good conditions, altho I know some of you are also getting a bit of this frosting. For now, I'm going back to my fire and watch the birds out the window.