Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I'm losing weight - again

Hint: You may want to skip this one - Everyone talks too much about diets, even (especially) me.

Much like my mother, I have spent a good portion of my life worrying about and trying to do something about my weight. I so love myself when I am at a weight where my clothes look good on me, or at least I think my clothes look good on me. Mother used to have a "fat" wardrobe and a "thinner" wardrobe, and when she reached a weight where she had only one dress left that fit, she would diet - again.

About three years ago I came to grips with a weight gain that I had tolerated and "encouraged" for almost fifteen years. At that time I lost just under 50 pounds on a laborious and inflexible diet program that cost me a small fortune and involved complicated meal planning, constant attention to eating and a bunch of expensive pills. I realized recently that my clothes were not fitting me well. Faced with the facts, I resolved that buying bigger clothes is not an option.

I have now set certain rules by which I hope I can live comfortably and lose or maintain a decent weight. These rules include certain idiosyncrasies of mine which establish parameters that are not usually recommended by the "diet programs" touted and for sale.

1 - I will never use artificial sweeteners. These neither satisfy my desire for sweetness, nor taste good enough to waste my money on. They usually leave a bad taste in my mouth, and I don't trust a lot of these formulas to be good for long term health. Who really understands these chemicals?

2 - I do not use nonfat salad dressings. They don't adhere to the lettuce and thus are useless for the purpose of making lettuce edible. Since lettuce is not one of my favorite foods, I need something on it to make it palatable. Controlling the amount and using Vinaigrette type dressings work well.

3 - I do not use margarine, or any variation of margarine or non dairy faux butters. I use less than 10 calories worth of butter to give my egg a little flavor, and when dieting, I do not add butter to any of the food I eat. A quarter pound of butter will last me over a month, even when I'm not dieting.

4 - I must have a dessert. In fact I consider having a dessert (of under 140 calories) after my evening meal to be essential for maintaining my diet program. When counting calories for the day, I include the dessert.

5 - I need a meal plan that does not require that I obsess all day on what to have for my meals. These may mean a monotonous program, but doesn't really have to. It's just that I'm not that uncomfortable with eating essentially the same breakfast and lunch on a daily basis, with minor variations.

6 - My meals must taste good. My discovery of the really good meals from Lean Cuisine and Healthy Choice has been a boon to my program this time. Add a salad and vegetable or a couple vegetables, plus my dessert, and I'm set for the evening. Oh yes, and one of my regular "fruit" servings is wine.

7 - Soup for lunch and my morning yogurt with fruit plus an egg or cheese get me through the day safely. Snacks are not only permitted, but helpful in maintaining my metabolism and keeping hunger at bay.

8 - My diet must include cheese. My favorites are Jarlsberg, Swiss and fresh Mozzarella in servings of about an ounce two or three times a day. I don't get fat free or low fat cheeses. They don't have a decent texture. I will sacrifice quantity to have good quality.

9 - I drink lots of water, always, and exercise regularly.

10 - I allow myself a slight break in routine at least once or twice a week, keeping good nutrition and my basic calorie intake limits in mind.

I weigh myself every day. Some days are discouraging, but now that the pounds are coming off, it is very satisfying and starts my day on a positive note. It feels so good to be losing weight and feeling comfortable in my clothes again. It is also amazing how many little things one does each day become easier as the weight disappears.

To date I have lost about 12 pounds of the 20 pounds I had allowed myself to gain. I'm thinking by the end of September, I should be where I have been aiming to be for over three years, which will be ten pounds less than I weighed three years ago. It takes a long time to put this extra weight on, and it seems reasonable to take it off slowly as well.

So here's my toast to baggy size 14s - who knows, I may get down to an even lower size. One can only try.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Scratching the Walker OFF

After reading Mary Abbe's review of the current Walker exhibit, I have scratched it from my Outings calendar.

The Walker has never held much interest for me, as mundane stuff, paintings of nothing and piles of trash in the world are, in my opinion, not art just because they are in a museum. Still, I felt I should at least visit the new Walker and see for myself. Thank you, Mary Abbe, for saving me from a terrible mistake. Ms. Abbe described the exhibit as encompassing "a bizarre obsession with excrement, which [is equated] with clay and all things made of clay." Now really! Who in the world with common sense and decent taste wants to see "vulgarly obvious" clay castings of piles of shit?

I particularly love these sentences in the review: "As Schaffner explains in the truly strange, and not at all recommended, exhibition catalog, 'Psychoanalysts may find much to read into all of the sculptural pieces of s--- and fecal matter that dot this exhibition.'"

"No." continues the reviewer, "Psychoanalysts and ordinary people alike will conclude that the curators have unresolved issues that would be better sorted out in therapy than in a museum gallery." I would suggest that these folks would do well to get a job picking up dog poop. They'd surely get their fill of the subject quickly, and decent folk would be spared exposure to their unresolved issues.

Oh how glad I am for this review, saving me $10 and a very likely, very short visit to a museum whose present exhibit, it appears, is not art. Sounds like an art exhibit being pawned off in much the same way as were the emperor's new clothes. In this case the child would point and yell, "Mommy, look at all the poop!" Saying it is art does not make it art!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Missing people

I sometimes feel silly about all the little things that pass through my mind each day, and the trivial stuff that I notice and think about. I check Facebook several times a day, and keep up with a lot of little things that make up the days of my friends as well, as if the trivia in my own life weren't enough.

Each time I pass the corner of Dowling and Xerxes, I think about the man who last summer was frequently sitting out on a lawn chair watching life go by, while he smoked his cigarettes. When I returned from my winter home, he was not there. He died in March.

A little further up the street on the corner of 42nd and York, the lawn was always a potential advertisement for Turf Builder. It was diligently cared for by an older man with whom I often exchanged a greeting. In past years he had lawn signs for candidates I wouldn't have voted for, but we didn't discuss politics. He too has died.

Last week at St. Paul's we had memorial services for two parishioners whom I knew casually. This Saturday we will have a service for a third. All of these people were a part of my world and, though I didn't know them well, I will and I do miss them.

Ok, so this is beginning to sound morbid, but it's not meant to be. One of the benefits of aging, I think, is the appreciation I have for all the lives that have touched mine through the years remembered each day in the mundane tasks of life. Each one was significant in some way. While I despair that my mind dwells so much on trivia, I can imagine that not remembering this trivia would be much more tragic. I think I shall continue to appreciate my active mind, as long as I can keep it.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The fence

Good fences make good neighbors, I think. That, as I recall, is a wise old adage. My fence is one of those offset things which allows for peaking through the slats, which had become a source of constant anxiety in my otherwise tranquil home. The neighbors, you see, have a large black Labrador, who is a sweet dog by nature, but who will naturally react to yipping, snarling attacks from my vicious sounding population. I too have been reacting to the yipping, snarling attacks, which has not, unfortunately, mitigated them.

So I have now patched my fence so that the dogs can no longer see into the neighbors' yard. It has been amusing to watch as, upon perceiving they have heard something indicating activity in the yard next door, my dogs have rushed in their usual mad fashion out into the yard. The puzzlement and anxiety on their faces as they realize the view has changed is almost funny. I am now counting the events before they fully realize that the days of wild frenzy might as well be over. What you can't see won't hurt you or anyone else. May we have many days and evenings of peace and quiet, except, of course, for their harmless and entertaining zooming around the yard, playing with each other. Hope again springs forth that this mad pack of wolf descendants will be manageable.

Thoughts on Senate hearings

A pair of letter writers in today’s Star Tribune chastised our senators Klobuchar and Franken for their lighter comments and comedic touches during the Sotomayor confirmation hearings, implying that acting like a comedian or recounting a casual conversation with the nominee’s mother was some kind of disgrace. I think we can be proud that our senators’ conversations were in stark contrast to the irrelevant long winded pontifications of the self impressed southern and assorted Republican senators on the committee. If there were ever a place where a little levity and comfortable banter should be welcome, it would be in the midst of this phony interrogation. Wasted time and nonsensical inquiry were otherwise the rule of the days.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Lovely Fall Weather

Emptied, cleaned and refilled my backyard waterfall-pond today. It's a task I do at least twice a year, in spring and fall, so it must be fall? Actually, I do it more often than that, but as we locals know, today feels like fall. I'm OK with that. I get a lot done in the fall. The cooler season energizes me. So, you may ask, why do you leave town for the winter? I have no answer for that. It would seem to be entirely against my nature.

Reminded of my Phoenix house by a call from the security service this week, I realized that, if it had been broken into and something stolen (like the TV, which is really the only thing anyone would want to steal), I really wouldn't care. I thought, "well heck, Mildred, my aunt, will just be delighted that we can start shopping to refurnish the house." No break in, however. Just a huge storm that apparently blew open the back door to the patio area. Don't think about storms in Phoenix, but this is their monsoon season.

Got everything worked out as I waited at the Vet's office for Vickie to wake up from her sedative induced sleep. Had to do that to dress her ear where her granddaughter had disciplined her a bit harshly. Granddaughter, Yo, thinks she is doing me a favor because she knows I don't like Vickie to race barking outside whenever the neighbors are in their yard. What she doesn't quite understand is that I don't like it when she does that either, and I especially don't like her disciplining Vickie or anyone else around here on my behalf.

So now, after completing my waterfall project, I go to Home Depot to get boards for the fence that will block out our view into the neighbors' back yard. I'm hoping this will provide me with much quieter evenings and more peaceful interactions between Yo and her grandmother. We shall see.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Robbinsdale fireworks

Now that I no longer have that pesky, view-obstructing maple tree in my back yard, I had a nice, relatively unimpeded view of last evening's Robbinsdale fireworks from the upstairs deck outside my bedroom. These happen every year as the grand conclusion to our annual Whiz Bang Days. They really were quite spectacular and I would have applauded if I had been properly dressed and not sitting there in the dark in my rather skimpy sleep outfit. One does not call attention to oneself in an outfit like that, at least not if one has a sense of modesty or is of a certain age or both.

I almost attended the Whiz Bang Days event/s this year, but somehow didn't get around to it. I did, however, hear some of the alleged music and a lot of honking and sirens which I assume were part of the parade. A nice small town parade, perhaps like Odebolt Creek Days, but without the huge tractors and farm equipment. At least I don't think they had tractors in our parade. Maybe I should take it in next year and find out for sure. I may be missing a nostalgic experience.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Wild life in Robbinsdale part 2

A rabbit lying injured in the grass just up the street. Conversing with the homeowner, she mentioned that there was a fox in their alley last week. Also mentioned that her neighbor feeds the rabbits. That should insure a continuing presence of foxes in Robbinsdale. The injured rabbit awaits someone to pick it up and humanely euthanize it. Sad. They are so cute, but . . .

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The rich see things differently

Apparently, the rich see economizing on the use of oil resources a bit differently than I do. Recent ad for a new Cadillac SUV, proudly proclaiming that it is a "hybrid", which is now the key word for gas economy - perhaps? They then brag that it gets 20 miles to the gallon in city driving. Whoopee! I think I'll keep my Subaru. It gets 26 miles per gallon in city driving, even though it is not a hybrid.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


As I continue to patiently endure the incessant beeping of the machinery in front of my house, I read in the paper this morning that Victory Memorial Drive is to be renovated. I'm quite pleased about this.

For the past few years we have endured not only huge, deep and nearly unavoidable potholes along this roadway, but also the view of several temporary street lamps. These unattractive utilities are an eyesore both in the daytime and at night. In the daytime we can view the chipped and rusted yellow poles grounded in ugly bases and at night they are seen as different colored lights. Hardly a sight to elicit pride in our city.

This spring I was mildly amused to observe the effort by some public works forces working on the potholes. This effort consisted, from all appearances, of a crew tying up traffic for a couple hours, while they worked on filling potholes in short segments of the Drive. Their efforts consisted of someone slopping black tar around the edges of the potholes, then all of them standing around and visiting for some time as the traffic worked its way around them. After this restful interlude, they dumped a pile of tar like stuff into the hole and left for the day. In the course of a month, working like this once a week on about a half block at a time, they managed to partially fill some of the holes in a two block segment of the drive. They then disappeared, never to be seen or heard from since. How proud I was to see our tax dollars being carefully conserved by the deliberate pace of this effort.

A parkway renovation on our part of the Drive will be very welcome indeed, even if it prolongs the roaring and beeping of heavy equipment. I do hope it includes road work and the replacement of the temporary lighting.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Wild life in Robbinsdale

The other day I thought I saw a fox loping down the parkway being harassed by a flock of crows. Today's paper carried a picture of a couple of foxes with a caption saying, "Don't be surprised to see a fox or two." Their abundance is attributed to a large population of rabbits, which is attributed to a warmer winter. The article did not attribute this to climate change, but we're certainly programed to do that ourselves.

Since predators go where the food is, Lynda Forbes from Brooklyn Park has found that the rabbits disappeared while a "fox stalked the yard and lay on the pool deck sunning itself, probably full of rabbit." Perhaps the fox I saw was Ms. Forbes' fox. Perhaps it was engaging the crows over a rabbit carcass. If so, it appears that the crows won that one. And Ms. Forbes will be free to use her pool for a time?

Meanwhile, in the less wild back yard at my Robbinsdale home, the robins have not returned, and the rabbits dare not enter. A mob of yipping Boston terriers is at least as good a deterrent to rabbits as a fox, and more appropriate for my back yard. It does appear quite likely that I really did see a fox loping down the parkway the other day.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Good example

StarTribune, July 6, 2009: Columnist Stephen Wilbers on Effective Writing headlined "Keep those modifiers from just hanging there." So What's a dangling modifier anyway?", he asks. Check the Star Tribune, same date, page A3, for example. "The ousted president's plane circled the airport as a mass of supporters gathered, then veered away." Can't you just see that sea of supporters veering away from the circling plane?

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Holidays are for relaxing

It used to be that holidays were welcome changes from a work routine, like they are for most of you, I'm sure. The habit of treating holidays like special days when it's perfectly all right to do nothing much and waste time at it does not go away. So here I am doing nothing, and not even feeling guilty about it, but only after dealing with stresses one should not have at all as a retired person.

It all began when I saw that my anti-virus subscription was running out. My efforts (yes, I mean efforts, plural) to renew it (I should remember that nothing is ever easy in the Norton/Symantec world) were futile, as I could not activate it even though I bought the subscription. Eventually, I took it off and bought McAfee, which loaded nicely; however, in the process I lost one of my favorite games. Now that is a serious interference with my peaceful routine. I have no idea how or why, but "Scrabble Blast" has disappeared, never to be found again. Trying to get my favorite game back, though supposedly available for redownload, could simply not be done. I am in deep mourning over my lost Scrabble Blast game. I had many scores at the "God" level of skill accumulated over a period of years - clearly, irreplaceable and majorly grief worthy.

Then, also, my Word program suddenly refused to open for me, causing another episode of irritation. The Word program had to be uninstalled then reinstalled and updated to work again, wasting more of my precious "do nothing and not feel guilty" time.

All of which is irritating, and, more seriously, intrudes upon my game time. I probably should do something about this computer game addiction one of these days. Still, this is my mind's exercise program, so I must persevere.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Friends are good

Today is a brighter day for my having gone on a field trip with friends yesterday. I'm sure I'd have felt good if I'd gone alone, but I feel really good because I spent a good part of an interesting and beautiful day with friends. Friends are good, and I am blessed with some very, very good friends. Thank you!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Privacy rights

Michelle Bachmann, our Minnesota treasure in the House of Representatives, has asserted that she has a right to privacy that allows her to refuse to answer Census questions. In acknowledging the right to privacy, may we now assume that she supports Roe v. Wade? Or would consistency be too much to expect? Ok, you don't need to answer that.