Monday, January 31, 2011

Resolutions - January recap

Last year, Crazy Aunt Purl revisited her New Year's resolutions each month. I'm not sure it helped her, but I decided it couldn't hurt me. So here goes:

Meditate once a day on work days (these are my most stressful days)
I was 89% successful with this resolution. After all, it is not all that difficult to sit down and shut up, especially at 7am. In general, I did seem calmer, and I noticed a difference if I skipped several days in a row.

Practice yoga twice per week
I was only 44% successful with this one. Catching a cold mid-month did not help. Taking a weekly class did. My home practice has really fallen off, though, much to my dismay.

Get some aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes three times a week
And by aerobic, I mean almost anything that involves putting one foot in front of the other. Sometimes that is walking, although the weather and ice-covered pavement was not very conducive to that. I have a spectacularly inefficient method of shoveling snow, a method that involves more walking and snow pushing than actual snow shoveling, so I count that. Again, that cold interfered, but I still managed a 69% success rate.

Turn out the lights by 10:30pm on the eves of work days
I neglected to keep track of this one, but I am guessing I was about 75% successful. Of course, just because I turn out the lights doesn't mean I sleep. And just because I fall asleep doesn't mean I stay asleep. But if the lights are on, I am definitely not sleeping. On a purely subjective basis, I have felt more rested this past month. I will pay more attention to this one, to make sure I am not fooling myself.

So, did this translate into weight loss? I lost four pounds. Not a lot, but enough that I can now fasten my "fat jeans" and that counts for a lot.

Speaking of counting, I discovered that I DID need to count calories, at least initially, to keep from lying to myself ("I didn't eat THAT much today" - like a whole pizza is not that much). Once I had a better grasp on just what constituted 2000 calories, I abandoned the counting.

In general, I have yogurt, fruit, and nuts for breakfast, a salad for lunch, an afternoon snack of fruit, a "normal" dinner (tonight it was homemade vegetable soup and half a grilled cheese sandwich), and a bedtime snack of cereal, fruit, nuts, and milk. That sounds like a lot of food, but it is less than I ate before. I weigh the yogurt, cereal, and nuts, to make sure I am not fudging.

Sometimes I get hungry, but it is not that frantic kind of hunger. No foods are off limits, but I keep an eye on carb-carbs like bread. It helps that I don't have a sweet tooth. It also helps that I live alone so am completely in charge of what food comes in through the door.

I'm satisfied with January. Let's see how February goes.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

I had BK, Betsy had morphine

Betsy likes to hang out at the front of the house while I shovel the driveway.  She scares up rabbits and follows their trails through the bushes and otherwise has a good time as only a beagle knows how to do.  Last Monday, once I finished with the snow, I found the front walk covered in blood.  It was surreal.  There was so much blood that at first I though Betsy had actually caught a rabbit and sacrificed it.  But no, her paw was bleeding.  By then, the bleeding had almost stopped.  I tried to see what the problem was, couldn't really tell, and since she wasn't limping, decided to just wait and see.

Tuesday Betsy seemed okay except she kept licking her paw and making it ooze and dribble, but it still did not seem to bother her much.  I washed it in warm water, poured peroxide over it, wrapped it up to protect the carpets, and continued to wait and see.

Wednesday I came home from work early because I was not feeling well.  Betsy's paw seemed worse.  Of course, her veterinarian is not open on Wednesday afternoons.  I debated whether to take her to the emergency clinic ($$$) and decided to wait until Thursday when we could visit her regular vet.

That's today.  We went to the vet this afternoon.  The bloodiness was due to one claw hanging by a few threads.  Dr. M offered to yank it off, but provided the option of morphine or no morphine.  Betsy  is so traumatized by each visit to the pet hospital that I opted for the morphine.  She is now virtually comatose, nothing like the picture above, which I took Tuesday.  She is also minus one claw.  It should grow back, eventually.  Meanwhile, she has some good drugs to sleep off.

Back to Wednesday, well, actually Tuesday night.  At yoga I felt less than energetic, but did not think too much of it, as I'm not a high energy person to begin with and I spend a lot of time sitting on my butt in front of a computer.  Wednesday morning I still did not feel very peppy, but I had not slept well, so again, I did not think too much of it.  At work, I developed a headache and figured it was due to lack of sleep.  Then I got the chills, but I am usually cold at work anyway.  Then I started salivating, the way one does prior to becoming nauseated.  I didn't throw up, but I did throw in the towel at noon.

The best thing about being sick now as opposed to being sick a month or so ago is, now I have a Blu-ray player.  I watched "The Kids Are All Right" (good but not a "must see" - why was it nominated for an Oscar?) and FIVE episodes from the first season of "Grey's Anatomy".  Five out of nine episodes.  The first season of Law & Order: SVU has 22 episodes.  Why the difference?  Inquiring minds want to know.

And today?  I feel fine.

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This evening I saw a Smart Car with the vanity plate "9VOLT".

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


When I worked for a company that was big on diversity, we did not get MLK Day off.  This same company shares the name of a certain president, but we did not get Presidents Day off, either.  Now that I work for a Swiss company, I get both days off.  Much as I hate my job, I like my employer.

Last Monday I was busy doing those little things that I never seem to have the psychic energy to do at the end of the day.  Like clean off the coffee table.  And the diningroom table.  And the breakfast bar.  I also vacuumed.  Housework is one of those things that no one notices unless you don't do it.

I also bought some new shoes.  Over the years I have invested heavily in Earth shoes, for my back's sake.  But my back is much better while my satisfaction with the value of Earth shoes is much less.  So I decided to try something new.

Keen Presidio in walnut

These are both Keen shoes, two different styles but the same genre, purchased online from Planet Shoes (free shipping, fast service).  I wanted something kind of urban outdoorsie and these fit the bill.  Some of my friends favor Keens, so I was relatively sure of the quality.  And the price, while not great, was tolerable.

Keen Toyah in black

I haven't decided how much I like them.  For one thing, it feels weird to wear shoes with heels after years of that "negative heel technology".  Also, they feel stiff, especially the collars.  But - and this is a big plus - they make my big feet look smaller.  I don't know how, but they do.  And they are light weight, so I don't feel like I am clumping around in them.  I'll keep them.  We'll see if they get more comfortable with use.

Last Monday I also watched my granddaughter for a few hours in the evening.  The last few times I've had her, she has been fussy.  This time was much better.  She seemed interested in the music on the stereo, so held her in front of the speakers and we "danced" to Carly Simon and Conner Oberst.  By the time Carrie Newcomer started up, Baby N was asleep.  She slept through two episodes of "Law & Order: SVU" and probably would have dozed through a third, but her mommy came to get her.

You're so vain!

I don't watch much TV, but now that I have a Blu-ray and can stream Netflix right to my livingroom with just a few clicks of the remote, I am hooked on reruns of "L&O: SVU". I am about halfway through the first season. Interesting tidbit: One of the first season characters (who is already gone) is played by the same actor as that "mayhem like me" guy on the Allstate commercials. While streaming is fun and easy, I really, really, really hope Netflix does not stop offering DVDs because a lot of the movies I watch are not available to watch instantly. I am even willing to pay more than the stream-only customers.  And now I think I am.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Today is the first day of the rest of your weekend

Bumper sticker on a car with Colorado plates:  Honk if you think I'm Jesus.

* * * * *

Have you seen that commercial on TV where someone calls customer service and talks to a burly man with a Slavic accent named "Peggy"?  Well, yesterday I received an email from someone on our help desk in Bangalore whose last name is "Johnson".

* * * * *

We have new recycling service here in the Fort.  No longer will we have to separate our recyclables into paper and aluminum-glass-plastic1&2.  And there's more:  plastic 3-7 will also be accepted.  The two small bins we have had to lug up and down our driveways will be replaced with a single big bin on wheels.  I don't have the new big bin yet, and force of habit led me to separate my recyclables, but when they picked them up this week, I watched.  Yes, they took it all, including the plastic-5 containers, and they threw it all together into the truck.  I watched the sanitation worker bend and lift and toss while trying to maintain his footing in the snow and ice, and I was glad I work in a clean well-lighted place.

Speaking of Hemingway, I recently read A Moveable Feast which he wrote about his years in Paris.  It's been a long time since I read any Hemingway, like maybe 35 or 40 years?  His style appeals to me - no flourishes, no extra padding, adjectives and adverbs being the enemies of that one true sentence.

Last night I finished Shadow of a Doubt, by William J. Coughlin.  It's a courtroom-centered murder mystery, the type of book I usually save for "beach reading" (even though I never go to the beach).  Winter reading should center on more weighty topics, like How to Live.  I just started this book by Sarah Bakewell; it's a biography of the original essayist Montaigne.

What are you reading on these cold winter nights?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Just like (slow) magic

One aspect of growing older that I find disconcerting is the skin changes.  I have sun damaged skin that tends to mottle in the summer, plus these things crop up periodically.  Their official name is Seborrheic Keratosis.  My dad gets them, has them removed.  I have one on the very top of my head.  I showed it to my doctor, who said, "I could remove that, but we'd have to shave your scalp there."  Um, thank you, no. 

Another one of these things recently appeared on my left shoulder, in back where I ordinarily don't look and can barely reach.  It seemed HUGE because it was so raised.  My SO examined it and pronounced it NOT CANCER, and told me that he had had one on his leg.  He treated it with Mentholatum and now it is gone except for a spot of dark pigmentation. 

Dr. Gott writes a medical column that appears in my local morning newspaper.  He serves up legitimate medical advice, but he is also open to home remedies.  Frequent readers are bombarded with treatments such as putting a bar of soap under the sheets for nocturnal leg cramps, eating cherries to ease the symptoms of gout, and eliminating nail fungus with Vicks VapoRub.  Vicks and Mentholatum seem to be about the same, so it made sense that it might work on SK. 

So I tried it.  Twice a day, I smeared a blob of Mentholatum on the latest SK and covered it with a BandAid during the day, sticking a small piece of toilet paper over it at night (the adhesive on BandAids irritates my skin).  After about a week, I could tell that the SK had shrunk.  After two weeks, I picked off what remained.  I am continuing treatment for another week, just to make sure it does not grow back. 

In just a couple of weeks, I went from OMG WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?  to IT'S GONE! without having to visit my doctor.  That's a win in my book.  I'm now treating another spot of SK on my tummy, and once the weather warms up enough that I don't need to wear a hat, I'm tackling that one on my head. 

DISCLAIMER:  I am not a medical professional of any kind.  I'm just saying that this worked for me.  Your results may vary, especially if what you are trying to treat is not SK but skin cancer.  If in doubt, get thee to your family doctor or a dermatologist.  Better safe than sorry.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

That year-end quiz

1. What did you do in 2010 that you’d never done before? Went through a full body scanner at the FW airport.  I didn't even realize what it was until later.
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? No and yes.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth? YES - my daughter birthed my first grandchild.
4. Did anyone close to you die? Yes, another one of my college classmates.
5. What countries did you visit? Massachusetts.  It felt like another country, what with the traffic.
6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010? Confidence in my retirement accounts.  (This is a repeat.)
7. What dates from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? My granddaughter's birthday.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Showing up at work on a regular basis. This is another repeat.
9. What was your biggest failure? Weight gain.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury? No.  Well, except when a took a dive at a local restaurant.  Received my first floor burn in years.  Otherwise, just my pride was hurt.
11. What was the best thing you bought? A lot of electronic shit:  had FIOS installed, bought a digital TV, a new digital camera, and a Blu-ray player.  That sounds really shallow, but world peace was not on sale.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration? No one impressed me this year.
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? All politicians, everywhere.
14. Where did most of your money go? I paid off my mortgage and home equity loan.  Whoot!
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? My granddaughter.
16. What song will always remind you of 2010? I got nothin'.
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? same but about different things
b) thinner or fatter? fatter
c) richer or poorer? poorer (on paper)
18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Exercise.
19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Eating.
20. How did you spend Christmas? With family.
21. Did you fall in love in 2010? Yes, with my granddaughter.
22. What was your favorite TV program? NFL Football.  And reruns of Law and Order: SVU.
23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? The Queen of Perfume at work guaranteed me a headache every day I was in the office.  She is not a bad person per se, but I spent some time and energy disliking her immensely.  Thankfully, we no longer sit near each other.
24. What was the best book you read? I'll say The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton.
25. What was your greatest musical discovery? None.
26. What did you want and get? To be debt free.
27. What did you want and not get? Chickens.
28. What was your favorite film of this year? "The Secret in their Eyes" and "Winter's Bone" and "Nathalie"
29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I visited my granddaughter on my 58th birthday.
30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Being able to retire.
31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010? Hand knits.
32. What kept you sane? Knitting and blogging and yoga.  Lather, rinse, repeat.
33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? No one this year.
34. What political issue stirred you the most? Climate change.
35. Who did you miss? My mom.  Again.  We could have been grandmas together.
36. Who was the best new person you met? Meeting someone new would require I be more social, and I'm not.
37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010. Facebook is a time suck.
38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year. None.

Saturday, January 01, 2011


Every year, I make the same resolution, sometimes to myself, sometimes out loud, sometimes officially, usually not, but always the same:  Lose weight.  This year is no different, but I want to twist it a bit and relabel it:  Eat less, exercise more.  And I want to make it more specific.

I have tried counting calories and following restrictive diets without much success.  One problem is calorie counting and dieting makes one think about food, and thinking about food makes one feel hungry.  A friend of mine who has successfully shed a lot of weight recently told me that her relationship with food has changed.  This tells me that overeating is not the problem, but a symptom of other issues to which food is not the answer.

How does this translate to me and my situation?  I know that I eat more when I am feeling stressed and/or tired.  Meditation and exercise are two ways to address stress, and exercise can help promote better sleep as can going to bed on time.  This translates into the following specific actions:

  1. Meditate once a day on work days (these are my most stressful days)
  2. Practice yoga twice per week
  3. Get some aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes three times a week
  4. Turn out the lights by 10:30pm on the eves of work days
And that is all.  I think these goals are doable and measurable.  In fact, I have been easing into them over the past few weeks.  We'll see if they translate into weight loss.  Stay tuned!