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March 2008

Eating Beautiful Food Pays Off

800pxfruit_and_berries_in_a_groceryI have now lost a total of 18 pounds since I started my weight reduction plan before the holidays. I had joined Weight Watchers to get back into a discipline mode, mostly to do with portion sizes. I lost the first 15 with them. Then with budget cutbacks in our household, I canceled WW and am now eating beautiful healthy food and have lost another three pounds. There was a plateau in there, which was fine. Maintaining is not a bad thing.

I also find that when I'm focused on eating beautiful food, it is so much more fun thinking about all the amazing stuff I can eat, not what I can't eat. Thinking about eating some melon and a nectarine and some blueberries in a bowl with yogurt (goat milk yogurt) is so much more exciting than measuring out 3/4 of a cup of dry cereal and non fat milk. And for dinner, I start with "what veggies do we have?" Then build around that. The other night we had fingerling potatoes and sauteed baby zuchini, oh and some steak on the side. Dee-lish!


(Both images found on Wikimedia Commons and both are in the public domain.)

Spring Planting Day 2

In the garden today I planted the two tomato plants we got. One in the prepped soil from yesterday (along with two yellow pepper plants and some herbs) and the other tomato plant went into a pot. I tend to over buy tomatoes, so I scaled back from six plants to two. I tried yellow peppers last year but they didn't seem to work out well. They seemed to go bad before they were ready to pick. Here is that bed today:

In the far back corner is a pruned rosemary shrub that had gotten out of control. I wrestled it out of the ground and with Kurt's help hacked it into three separate pieces. Kurt said, I don't want to kill it. I said, you can't!

Then I planted the other half of the herbs seeds in pots that will hopefully end up in the kitchen, though I worry it won't get enough light. I'm going to leave it outside until the seeds sprout and grow a bit. Nothing encourages growth than being looked after by the Table Cock.

Then I set my sites on an area that used to have cannas growing, but they never seemed to do well there. I cleaned it all out and will plant yellow crook neck squash in there. I added potting soil, mulch and fertilizer and watered it and will let it rest overnight. I realize I should take "before" photos so you can see that actually, it WAS a lot of work! Well, if you click the photo (to make it bigger) you will see all kinds of grass beneath the rose bush at the far end. There was that much grass plus the tiny canna sprouts that have not gotten any bigger than six inches. Now it is ready to provide beautiful food for us to eat.

I then had Kurt help me arrange the potted flowers we bought around the north field for planting later this week. I also trimmed up some of the tired lantana and a few other plants that hadn't had much love from me lately. There is a lot more brute strength work to be done in the north field, lots of dry dirt with grass that needs digging up, then add soil to get it ready for planting. I'm going to try and plant the aforementioned cannas to that spot and see if they do better.

That was a lot of good work on my part, if I do say so myself, and I'm very pleased with the results. We still need to buy some zuchini to plant as well as italian parsley and more basil. (Never can have too much basil!)

I put the potted tomato by our back door so we can give it pep talks as we go in and out the door.


Now I'm off to the kitchen to make potato/leek/onion soup. YUM!

Eating Beautiful Food

396pxvegetarian_dietThere is a show on BBC America called You Are What You Eat. On this show, people who are overweight call in a nutritionist named Jillian to come to their homes, track their eating, check their overall health including analysis of their poo, and generally give them a stern talking to about their current situation. There are two parts at the beginning that blow your mind. The first is when Jillian lays out a large table with one of everything the person ate the week previous. And it is usually such a disgusting sight. Then they see a huge table full of gorgeous beautiful luscious fruits and vegetables in such vibrant colors. There are also nuts and beans and fish.

There is something so amazing and primal about looking at the table of beautiful bounty that makes me so happy. This show, and that table, have really inspired me to eat so much better than I have been. Even using words like "luscious" and "gorgeous" and "fresh" and "vibrant" to describe what I might have makes a different. When I make a shopping list, I now write "luscious fruits, gorgeous veggies" and it makes me so much more excited to eat them.

And as the show name says "you are what you eat" and the idea of eating luscious beautiful food makes me feel luscious and beautiful -- who doesn't want that?!

(Image found on Wikimedia commons and is in the public domain.)

Spring Planting Day 1

This is the week of Spring Planting!

Today we went and got a couple of bags of dirt, tomato, squash and pepper plants, plus lots of flowers to attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Today's assignment was soil prep for the veggie bed in the south field. I dug out the old Italian Parsley that had gone to seed and also pulled out the rosemary bush that I then broke into three pieces for replanting in multiple areas. Kurt helped with some serious pick action. Here is the result so far:


It felt so good to get down and dirty. At one point, after shoveling and hoe-ing around, I was on my hands and knees, pulling weeds and grass that didn't belong, shoving dirt around. A true grounding experience. And with all that is going on these days for us, a welcome feeling.

Tomorrow's plan is to plant the veggies and repot the plant bought for indoors. Also, get some herbs planted to grow in the kitchen window. If there is time and energy left, do more shoveling and picking in the north fields of our vast back yard. Can't wait!

Happy St. Patrick's Day

"May you always have these blessings...
A soft breeze when summer comes--
A warm fireside in winter--
And always--the warm, soft smile of a friend."

--Traditional Irish Blessing

Image from Inisheer, one of the Aran Islands in Ireland from wikimedia commons.

I was a tough choice between this and this and this. But I chose the Aran Islands because I spent two days there in 1992 and really loved it.

Comfort Me With Pizza

(With apologies to Ruth Reichl for the title.)

My stepdad is in the hospital for blood, kidney and liver issues. He's 83 or 84 (suddenly I can't remember how hold he is.) Not sure if he's going to make it too much longer. I'm on the phone with my mom at least once a day, if not twice. As of this week, they have been married for 26 years. His health has been declining somewhat for a year or two now, so while the suddenness of his hospital stay is a surprise, on some levels it is not entirely unexpected. We are just in a wait and see mode.

My sister is having some issues with her cancer treatment with some not great news being delivered today but again we are in a wait and see mode about what's going on. Her stepmother (She and I have different dads) died last week after a recurrence of breast cancer.

And we are working with Kurt's mom on getting her into assisted living in Los Angeles within the next few months. While her health is good, she is 90--and could easily live another five if not ten years as she has an older sister who is 95 and still doing well-- but she is 90 and this transition will be challenging on all of us just due to the 35 years she's lived in her house, most of them alone, independent and taking great care of herself.

I have a cold, which I understand to be inconsequential in light of all of the above, and while it's getting better, I stayed home last night, tired, congested, sad, overwhelmed, while Kurt went to friends for a dinner party I wasn't up to attending.

I was going to make some pasta. But then I decided I needed even more comfort food than that. And my go-to comfort food is Pizza. And not just any pizza, but Pizza Hut pan pizza -- pepperoni and pineapple (sorry Damon). Hot, greasy, fatty, cheesy, big crust. Perfect. I ordered a medium and did not eat the whole thing (which I might have 10 years ago) so I give my self a sliver of credit for not overdoing it while I was overdoing it.

Eating for comfort is something I've known about my self for ages. Pizza is my go-to order-in food, though cheese and crackers are a close second if they are already in the house. What is it about bread and cheese that just makes you feel (even just falsely on some levels) better?

Life is life and it goes on, with us or without us and while I have to stop and eat pizza every once in a while to have a break from the harder times, I am alive and well and living to my fullest.

I Needed a Bit of a Tickle

I had a sick day today, my cold is just wearing me out and so I rested and forced fluids (under serious threat from Sarah!) and watched too much L&O and generally tried to feel better. I also perused the internets a bit.

You know I love me some lolcats. They crack me up and I'm also loving how the meme evolves. On my personal google start page I have a quote of the day, horoscope, weather, a few headlines and a funny cat photos window. This came up today:

Which killed me because one of the first lolcats that tickled me senseless was the non-edited version:

So I'm still sick, but feeling a little better.

Senior Lives

We were in Texas last week to continue talking with Kurt's mom about moving into an assisted living place. Unfortunately she was in a nursing home for a week following a bad infection that had first put her in the hospital. The nursing home stay was merely to get her strength back with physical therapy before returning home. She should be home by Friday or Saturday.

The nursing home experience was brutal, not so much around my mum-in-law as she's doing very well. But the general atmosphere of the place was pretty depressing. The energy there is heavy and death or at least a level of suffering seems to linger in the corners. Most of the people I saw there every day were permanent residents and two of them both touched and broke my heart.

The first woman was in a wheelchair, parked near the nurses station. There were always at least four or five people parked near the nurses station every day, either for stimulation or for the nurses to keep an eye on some of them. This woman was holding a teddy bear in her arms, cradling it like a newborn baby. She held it so gently and at just the right angle to coo quietly to it, all the while caressing the teddy bear's cheek. I wanted to stop and watch her for a minute, but forced myself away, biting back tears. What was going on in her mind? It seemed so sad to me but perhaps she was comforted by the bear, seeing instead her own newborns from decades ago, remembering the joy of each tiny body wrapped in her arms. I hope she is at peace wherever she is in her mind.061010_home_hmed_3phmedium

The second woman was much more with it. Kurt and his mom were playing cards in the dining room and I was sitting with them when a woman in a wheelchair passed behind me. I scooted my chair up to give her room then turned to make sure she could clear past. "Do you have enough room?" I asked, smiling, and she smiled back, saying she had plenty of room. Then she pulled her chair right up to me and reached over and gave me a huge hug and said, "I just need some lovin'!" She hugged me again and I hugged her back. She said, "Don't you just need some lovin' sometimes?" And to avoid bursting into tears I laughed and pointed at Kurt and said, "That's what I have him for." And she smiled and moved along toward the hallway and back to her (I assume) lonely room in the nursing home. I really fought the tears over that one.

I can't imagine how lonely it might be to live in a nursing home like that. I hope I'm wrong and that there are many more visitors than we saw during our brief time, but my hope is not so strong.

While it was tough going on some levels, I am really glad we were there to experience it all, even the awful smell of urine down the hall on our last day. I realized how out of touch I am with that generation, what would be my grandmother's generation and the idea of the "Old Folks Home." The image conjured up by "Old Folks Home" has never been a pretty one and this nursing home didn't help. You can not avoid the mortality in those places, your own potential future. If not specifically a nursing home, then at least the aging and whatever infirmity that might come your way. It's not always a pretty sight and so we avoid it until forced to confront what comes our way in our own families.

The good news is, as we look for assisted living places for Kurt's mom, there are an amazing array of options out there and we are going to find a good one for her. This is also a lesson in preparing for the future, making sure we have assets and strong retirement funds and investments. I do not want to be looking for hugs from strangers in a sad nursing home. Plus, looking at that end of life is challenging because I feel like I'm still just starting my own life with Kurt! We are talking about having kids at some point in the not too distant future, which makes me feel like I'm only 20-something.

Ask your parents and older family members, if you haven't already, what their plans are for the future. Open that conversation so there are no surprises, no forced moves into places that are not ideal. Plan plan plan. That is one lesson I came away with.

The other lesson is to connect with seniors I will be meeting in the future. Kurt's mom will probably be living in an assisted living residence in Los Angeles in the next few months which means much more time with her and with all her new friends and "house-mates". I want to hear their stories.

Oil Paintings of Internet Memes

I saw this oil painting of our favorite Dramatic Chipmunk (who we all know by now is a prairie dog) on Boing Boing today and it just made me smile in that happy sunflower, soft clouds, favorite candy kind of way.

The website by artist Jeremiah Palecek with even more images from your favorite viral videos is right here. Give them all a look: there is grape stomping lady (Damon!), angry german boy and diet coke with mentos. Some of the images are not safe for work...

I would have bought this painting but it is sold out. Alas.