Friday, February 28, 2014

The Perks of Aging

There are definitely some perks to being 71. One is being able to stay home if you don’t have to go. Gym is for my health and well-being and this morning, my health and well-being said, stay home and don’t stress over driving in the first real snow of the season. So I did. I think my exercise may be rocking in front of the fire holding a cup of tea in one hand and a book in the other. Why I may even spring for a cup of cocoa later in the day. Sounds like a good day to me! 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Degrees of Separation

The names have been changed to give some degree of privacy in this not-so-private world. 

How many degrees of separation? Today is Mary's birthday. Jane, her little sister, posted a greeting on her FB time line. FB told me Jane, “friend with Bill Smith”, posted on Mary's wall. Now I don’t know Jane, but I know her sister out here in Tahoe. Bill was my student in Fredonia NY in the 70’s when he was in middle and high school. He and Jane know each other well enough to be friends on FB. Social media has cut the degrees of separation at least in half. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

I Love Learning

First a promise ~ I will not tell you every new and interesting fact I learn while making my way through some 3000 years of the everyday life of the human race. Promise. 

Having said that, I have to tell you this. Human beings were not predisposed to build cities. The first ones were simply blocks of spaces with shared walls. There were neither streets nor doors. If you wanted to visit your friend who lived several spaces away, you climbed a ladder to the roof, crossed over the flat roofs, climbing up and down as necessary, and went in through a hole in the wall. Archeological affirmation of this fact comes from the city of Catal Huyuk in Turkey. According to the lecturer, Professor Robert Garland of Colgate University, some “Neolithic genius” (I Love that phrase) finally created the idea of streets and doors. 

If I had thought about it all, I would have assumed that as caves had “doors” so would houses when they came along. And they did have openings - just not doors. There were no streets on which doors could open anyway. Fascinating. 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

An Early Review

The other day a Great Courses catalogue arrived in our PO box. I had heard about this but had never explored or researched the program. As Dean and I both perused the catalogue, we became fascinated with all the courses offered ~ and by the fact that they were on sale: a Really Good sale! And so we took the plunge. 

The Great Courses are indeed great. I love my professor, my dvds and my book! The book is not a direct transcription but more like Cliff Notes. So after listening to two lectures last night, I went to the book and marked some of the particular places that had interested me and that I wanted to set in my brain. It is fascinating and I am enjoying it thoroughly. Also glad I am at the age where this is learning for my own pleasure and not for a test.

Of course an email arrived today with another great sale. It is hard to pass up a $320 item that is on sale for $50 and I think I have enough to occupy my brain for a while. I am learning more about a subject that has fascinated me for years: the ordinary lives of ordinary people in the ancient world. Dean will use this weekend to delve into Storytelling and Gardening (not in the same set). I am absolutely delighted with our purchases and believe we have established a new learning curve for ourselves. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

It's a Topsy-Turvy Winter

It’s a topsy-turvy weather winter. Usually I am the one sending pictures of huge snows to my friends and family on the east coast while they send me pictures of daffodils and green grass. Not so this year. 
This is the back yard of my cousins’ B&B in Maryland where they have stocked up for the holiday weekend hoping that their guests will be able to make it. Airports are closed. The Federal Offices in DC are closed. People are being urged to stay off the roads. All this in an area that is not prepared to deal with this onslaught. 

On the other hand, here is our back yard ~ yes on February 13th in the middle of winter. Now we may have the best of both worlds right now as the latest storm brought Lots of snow at 7000 ft and over so that the ski slopes are great. Below 7000 ft. it brought rain and not much snow so as you can see the hill behind the house is brown again and the deck has about 3 melting inches and is easy to shovel. Not quite as much fun though as our usual:

Too much snow in the east and the economy suffers as businesses have to close, airports shut down, and only essential services stay open. Too little snow in the west and the economy suffers as the ski slopes have to close, the tourists don’t come and the largest retail time of the year goes bust. It is indeed a topsy-turvy year weather-wise. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Weight Loss Credit

When a product, even a well-known, already touted one, really, really works, it might be nice to say that. So ~ here’s to Weight Watchers, the way I have lost weight easily and with comfort. 

I like Weight Watchers for several reasons.
~ 1) no food is off limits if you can keep it within your point count
~ 2) measurements are easy being in cups, ounces or tablespoons
~ 3) record keeping is easy
~ 4) staff and other members are very supportive

1) I have a friend who tells me all the things she Mustn’t eat on her food plan. There is nothing I “mustn’t” eat ~ just food with very high point counts that I have chosen to avoid. This also means I can eat the same food as my family. I just measure out my portions. 

2) Measurements are easy. The same friend is told to “visualize” a golf ball size portion. Dear friends, do you know how quickly my golf ball would become a baseball, would become a basketball??? I need the discipline of 1/2 a cup or 3 ounces or 2 tablespoons. I did have to buy a food scale, but it was less than $5 at my hardware store.

3) I have used the online program this time and tracking food and activity is very easy.

4) If you go to meetings, the people are amazing. I find the online program difficult to navigate to ask questions or get feedback. I haven’t worried about it too much. Watching my weight line fall has been support enough for me this time. 

I have done the WW program twice, once years ago and once since May. Both times I started I lost 5 pounds the first week, a great motivation to keep going! It slows down after that and loss stays consistent even if small if you stay with the program. This time I have also been disciplined about maintenance. I am now at the age when weight goes on very fast and comes off very slowly. When I reached my goal weight, I decided I needed the continued discipline of the program. Do I track every bite these days? No. Am I Very aware of what I eat, how much and how often? Yes! And I record my weight once a week. Any variation and I return to my tracking discipline. 

Given my age, this has probably become a life-long process. Am I spending too much time thinking about food? I don’t think so. On the vanity side, I have dropped a size in clothes. On the health side, my cholesterol numbers have all moved in the right direction, gym exercises are easier, and I just plain feel better all around. Thank you, Weight Watchers! 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Yummy Memory

I wrote earlier about receiving pralines for my birthday from my New Orleans family. When I was growing up in Dallas, we went for Tex-Mex to El Chicos. At the check out counter, there were pralines wrapped in plastic. Daddy always bought me one and later I would buy one for myself. It’s where I learned to love pralines. 

They were what came to me last week as “original”. Lots of nuts in a very thin sugar base that would melt in your mouth. There was always a little area that was just the sugar and I would save that for my last bite. 

Last week, we went to our favorite Mexican food restaurant for lunch and I came home and had a praline!! Life is good. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

No "Just" to a Cold

Song cue: I’m reviewing the situation ~ *sigh* I have now had this cold for 8 days. For the first three I was sick, really sick. For the last 5 I have simply had a cold, sneezing, coughing, blowing and no energy. All this has meant no gym and only an occasional outing. This morning for the first time I woke feeling like I just might be able to go to gym if I did an easy workout, cutting way back on time and effort. The more I move around, however, the more my body says not yet, not quite yet. *another sigh* I would really like to go. And I am just not quite ready. My younger daughter has what I call sick eyes. I could tell she was not ready to be sent back to school by looking at her eyes no matter what my sense of school or the school officials thought. I wish she had inherited those from me but I guess not. I can’t look in the mirror and tell if I should go to gym or not. I have to do what I have always done and listen to my body. OK, OK, I am listening already! One more day without gym. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Music Hath Charms . . .

Recent research, both formal and informal, has been posted on FB or in the news re: the effect of music on people with dementia. My mother-in-law was an operatic soprano, winning several regional opera competitions. Because one leg was shorter than the other and she walked with a decided limp, she knew she could not make on the stage. Instead, she married a preacher and gave that amazing voice to the church. 

When Alzheimer’s took her memory for names and faces, she could still sing all the verses of all those hymns she had sung for years. 

When she could no long speak at all, Papa was asked to perform a wedding at the nursing home where Mama lived. He placed her in a wheelchair and took her into the service. He put a tape of Mama singing some appropriate wedding music from when she was much younger. Listening to herself sing, Mama raised her head and said in a loud, clear voice, “Damn, I’m good.” 

They were the last words she spoke and it was her music that gave her back to us for a brief humorous moment. 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Super Bowl Monday

And this is my usual post: Prayers please. Today is the busiest day of the year for Domestic Violence Shelters. Yesterday afternoon there were (mostly) men who drank more than they could handle and bet more money than they could afford to lose and took out their anger on spouses and children. Please, pray for those people - all of them - those who were struck and those who struck out.  And please, may this statistic become obsolete very soon. 

Super Bowl Sundae

Dean's delightful parfait in honor of the day.

Frozen vanilla yogurt, coffee ice crew, creamy praline, gluten free brownie ~

~ topped off with chocolate syrup.

Almost better than football.