Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Week Without the Computer

I knew I was in trouble when all the red lights started flashing on the computer. I thought it was my computer security, but it was a fake and stuff started downloading like crazy.

Anyway, it's back and clean as a whistle inside and out, just like I will be by tomorrow. Yep, have to have a colonoscopy and endoscopy tomorrow. I think my new purpose in life is to confound doctors. After the upper GI, I was sent to a gastroenterologist. The ENT doctor thinks the pressure in my throat is acid reflux but the gastroenterologist disagrees. He thinks I may have an ulcer on my esophagus. He also thinks the upper GI is a waste of time, money, and radiation since scoping is always done afterward anyway. Great.

He also doesn't think I have candida, or at least he doesn't think it can be diagnosed with just a symptoms questionaire, so the colonoscopy should answer the question as to why I have such a digestive problem.

Oh, and get this. The doctor's office called this morning and said my insurance company (BCBS) has a limit of $500 for preventative procedures and since I already had a mammogram this year, they were going to pay almost nothing. The doctor's office was submitting the colonoscopy as a preventative until I discussed my issues with them. Now it is classified to diagnostic. It's a shame that insurance companies will spend more to fix a problem (if possible) than to prevent one.

Talking to this doctor, I realized why I gained so much weight since this summer. I have been blaming it on the cortizone shot and inactivity, but it's actually this pressure in my throat. When it gets really uncomfortable, eating something makes it better temporarily, so I am always eating something. Doing this diet and making an effort NOT to graze all day made me aware of when and why the feeling of a lump in my throat is worse, even though it has gotten better since I quit the protein shakes and all the supplements. Once the doctors finally figure out what it is and treat it, the urge to eat something to ease the pressure should go away, and sticking to the diet should be easier.

Saving the good news for last, Tuesday evening I got a call to do a day's work, and once I got the computer back yesterday, I spent all day online researching. I get paid by the day for this whether it is an eight hour day or a twelve hour day and this turned in to just over a ten hour job, but I love doing the work, and it's a nice bonus this time of year. There was also a hint that there could be more work next week.

More good news is that I have lost another two pounds, just eating low carb. That brings my total to seven pounds lost. I have quit wearing my size 16 jeans and am comfortably in a 14. Unfortunately, I only have one pair of size 14 jeans and I'm not going to go buy anymore. I'll either have to wear droopy 16's or cropped jeans. Eeek! Baby, it's cold outside!

Until next time, may you have blessings and no confounded problems,
Marti

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Sounds of Christmas…Pop, Pop, Pop!

Actually that’s the sound of breaking light bulbs when they fall and hit the sidewalk below.

It looks like Christmas preparations are finally underway at our house. I wanted to do this over the beautiful Thanksgiving weekend, but our plans changed when we suddenly decided to go to Tulsa to meet our girls, and that was much more important.

Since then, the weather has been bad or I haven’t felt well enough to even help from the ground. But Tuesday afternoon was nice, so when Hubby got home from work, we began pulling out boxes of lights, but only got one string up before the sun went down. Yesterday, he got home earlier and we began again. Yesterday wasn’t as nice as Tuesday. It was cold and breezy. I had on my warmest coat, lined gloves and a wool cap, and I was still cold. It’s also hard to change out lightbulbs with thick leather gloves on so I had to keep taking them off. Brrr!

I am usually the one who puts the lights on the house, but since I haven’t been feeling well, Hubby didn’t want me on the roof. He didn’t want on the roof either, but he did it so I would promise not to go up there. I promised. With a step stool, I can do the lower lines of the roof, but I can’t do the gables without moving a ladder every few feet, so I usually just get on the roof and do it from there, especially since I have to get up there to do the ridge. One part of our roof is really steep (12 in 12 pitch) and is surrounded by concrete. A fall from it would definitely mean a trip to the hospital. Hubby won’t get up there at all, so if it gets done, I do it. For him to offer was really something.

What I didn’t know is that he didn’t intend to do the ridges and he only got on the roof to do the gable on the part of the roof that isn’t steep (6 in 12 pitch). For the steep gable he used the ladder. Made a mess of the flower beds too, but I guess that’s ok. It’s just dirt and flowers. So with him on the ladder and me handing up strings of light, we did the roofline on house and garage. It’s funny how much of a difference a few lights make. Our old house seems so warm and cheery now. (I’ll add a picture tonight.)

We had been out there about an hour when our mail carrier came by. She’s from Canada and was driving an old postal Jeep with the door open. She had on a jacket, but no hat or gloves. She grinned at me and I asked her if she was cold and she said no. So I laughed at her and she laughed at me.

Until next time, may you have blessings and twinkling lights,
Marti

P.S. Diet update: I lost another pound just eating low carb. Yippee. That makes a total of five pounds.

P.S.2. UGI results. The ENT doctor called and said the UGI didn't show anything major and he still suspects something like acid reflux (despite me never having heartburn) and wants me to see a gastroenterologist to be scoped. Sounds veddy uncomfortable.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

It Could Be Worse

I got really lucky this morning at the hospital. The parking lot was straight-in parking (which is always a pain in a big vehicle) and the rows were close so turning was tight. At first I thought there weren't any parking places and then I saw two people parked next to each other both coming out at the same time. Gave me plenty of room to back in, and then getting out was a breeze. I think I might have hit something if I had had to get into those tight spaces otherwise. So that too could have been worse.

When I dressed for the UGI appointment, I decided to wear a sports bra and knit top so they wouldn't make me take it off. I knew metal was bad. I hadn't bought a new sports bra in a while, or make that a few pounds, and it was like trying to put a rubber band on a water balloon, but I finally got it on. Then, because I had a metal in my jeans, they made me take off everything! Wouldn't have been so bad wearing nothing but a hospital gown if it weren't so cold, even inside the hospital. Well that and that I had chosen to wear black jean, black socks, and black walking shoes. They let me keep the socks and shoes on, and let me tell you, black shoes and socks look smashing with a blue and white hospital gown.

The UGI could have been better, but it was tolerable. They make you take a granular powder like Fizzies (remember those?) followed by about a tablespoon of water. Then drink some thick bluish stuff (tasted bad) and then drink some really nasty white stuff. I thought I was going to lose the white stuff, but I kept it down. Afterward, the assistant told me to drink a lot of water to get the barium out because it can cause constipation. She gave me a really funny look when I said that was great, and told me I had to flush it out anyway.

After getting back home, I was starving - as usual - and ate and then, sure enough, spent time in the library. So much for constipation. Liars.

Until next time, may you have blessings and all your original parts,
Marti

It Could Be Worse


As much of a pain it is to drive the beastmobile every day, it could be worse. At least the hood isn't held on with bungee cords.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Six Week Cure to the Middle Aged Middle Update

If anyone is wondering, here's an update on The 7 Week Cure to the Middle-Aged Middle.

First of all, I think it's expensive. The first two weeks are supposed to be for cleansing the liver of fat, and it consists of drinking three low carb whey protein shakes a day and eating one fairly normal meal. When I first read that I thought it was a lazy dieter's dream come true. I could drink them for breakfast, lunch, and snack, and then fix the normal meal to share with Hubby so he wouldn't have to suffer. Perfect, right? After doing the diet for almost a week, I went back and read the fine print, and no where did it say the shakes were delicious, or even good. It's really even a stretch to call them shakes.

My little town doesn't have a health food store or anywhere else that sells nutritional stuff except the usual big box stores and drug stores. Walmart had a couple of protein powders but none that met the requirements. So I bought a container of the stuff from Whole Foods Market when we were in Tulsa, along with another ingredient the book said was recommended. Since I was determined to do it right and stick it out, I grimaced at the $60.00 price tag but paid it.

Then I had to have a multivitamin with 100% of the RDI. Since I couldn't find one with all that, I bought a generic multivitamin with most of list at 100% and bought a few supplements to bump all the requirements to 100%. Another $90.00.

So then I was set, and got up December 1 ready to take off the weight. The first shake of the morning consisted of the whey protein, frozen strawberries, a little cream, a pasturized raw egg, a packet of stevia, another protein powder, and ice. It looked good, but looks are deceiving.

It made two full glasses, probably because the blender and ice fluffed out everything. The ice also hit every raw nerve in my teeth, and I finally managed to drink and swallow quickly so it didn't have a lot of time to touch my teeth - or my taste buds. I decided to take a few of the supplements after each shake so I wouldn't have them all rattling around together.

I left the ice out of the second shake, and it tasted much worse but at least wasn't painful to drink. Same with the third. The meal I chose for dinner was grilled flank steak with broccoli. It was really good, even Hubby liked it.

All that day I felt good, never hungry and was really optimistic.

The second morning, I tried a chocolate shake. Despite what the label says, chocolate and whey are not a good mix. It was so awful I thought I wouldn't get it all down. And then I really didn't feel good and spent the next hour in the bathroom which will be referred to as "the library" from here on.

At lunch, I had another strawberry shake, with the same results as my breakfast shake. Also, the taste of whey seems to be getting worse with every shake. I dreaded drinking the afternoon shake, but I did, and repeated the trip to the library. Dinner was good, but even after it, I couldn't escape the library.

Day three started out with time in the library, and I decided to cut the amount of whey powder to one scoop even though the diet recommends two scoops for my weight. It didn't taste quite as bad with one scoop, but it was still hard to swallow. The faster, the better, I found. On this day, I spent nearly all day in the library. I was really running short of reading material by the end of the day. I've always wondered why anyone would want a magazine rack in the bathroom, but now I know why. Or I think I do.

The authors of this plan have a website with a discussion board and I searched it to find out if this was a common problem and found that for some it is. The recommended solution was to put flax seed powder in the shake. I had some flax seed I was going to use in a microwave heating pad until my sister-in-law stole my idea, so I dug that out and used Hubby's coffee grinder to pulverize it into a powder.

The next morning, day four, I mixed the flax powder with the shake, but still spent most of the day in the library. I guess this shows my lost optimism because I had put a couple of books and magazines in there the night before. Also on day four, I discovered that blueberry skins don't get chopped up in the blender. They made it much harder to swallow the shake quickly. Raspberries taste okay in a shake, but the seeds settle to the bottom of the glass which can be a good excuse not to drink the last of the shake. Having only one scoop of the whey protein left me with a slightly hungry feeling, but not hungry enough to want the shakes. I put off my lunch shake as long as possible and then decided if I had the snack time shake, I wouldn't want dinner, so I skipped it for the greater good of making sure Hubby had a good dinner. Hey, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

The next morning, Saturday (day five), I mixed the flax powder with the shake once again, and once again, I had to seek out the library. That's when I called it quits. At that point I didn't really care if I never lost another ounce, I could not let these shakes keep me hostage any longer. I wanted to go to church on Sunday, and I had plans for the next week, so the situation had to change.

Also, a throat problem I already had, was getting worse. I didn't know if it was the shakes or all the vitamins and supplements, but I quit taking all of it. By Saturday night, after two normal meals, I was feeling much better, and decided I could continue on with the recommended menus for week 1 & 2, just not the shakes and pills. Whatever cleansing my liver got in those four plus days was all it was going to get.

The next morning I weighed before breakfast, and amazingly I have lost four pounds. Whether it will stay off once I resume life outside the library remains to be seen.

I have to say that this part of the diet is a really bad thing except for people with a cast iron stomach, and I don't know many middle-aged people who have one. Most people I know have to be careful of something. Both in the book and on the discussion board (which seems to have been created to discuss the diet created by a prior book Protein Power) they talk about this diet not causing any problems for most people. I know I am not most people (no brag, just fact as Walter Brennan would say) because I have always had an irritable stomach. I have battled candida albicans for years and even when I think I have it beat or at least under control, I know it has spies lurking in the dark recesses of my gut waiting for a reason to wage war.

Also, the throat problem I mentioned started when I took Fosamax. I was waiting for it to go away by itself, and had intended to see a doctor in December if it hadn't. Why it suddenly got worse, I don't know, but it changed from a slight feeling of discomfort you get when you swallow a pill and it gets stuck in your throat, to a feeling that there is an object pressing against my throat. I hoped after a day and a half of no shakes or pills that it would be better today, but it wasn't, so I made an appointment with an ENT. Amazing that they had an opening tomorrow.

I know the Adkins Plan and other low carb diets work, at least for awhile, but I worry about being on that kind of diet for any length of time. When I started this diet, I had no intention of making it a new lifestyle. I thought I would lose as much weight as I could, and then start eating normal, healthy food. This diet has a lot, and I do mean a lot, of fat in it. Heavy cream in the shakes, heavy cream on fruit for dessert, red meats, pork, and bacon. Oddly enough, as much as I love bacon, I really don't want to eat it again for a very long time. It will be interesting to see if I continue to lose weight, plateau, or start gaining again.

Until next time, may you have blessings and a well-stocked library,
Marti

12/8/09 Update to my update. Went to the ENT today and he thinks I have Dysphagia, Odynophagia...whatever that is. Some kind of spasms of the esophagus. Probably not good, but still a big relief after the things I've been thinking. Tomorrow I go for an upper GI.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

My First Scammer

I listed our dining table and chairs on Craig's List, thinking that the holidays and family gatherings would be a good time to sell. What I didn't think is that it is also a good time for scammers.

I have had a lot of spam from Craig's List ads in the past, usually with something in the title asking me if I need to make money. The two I have received from this ad are a bit different, in that they seem to come from someone with a real first and last name, and ask a legitimate question about the table. Both, however, had spam filters on their email - something I found quite ironic.

The first scammer was a cheapskate. He only offered me $30.00 more than I was asking and said he would send a money order with his assistant. The second one was the typical Nigerian scam. He told me he couldn't come see it himself because he just got married and was on his honeymoon, but it looked perfect and he would send a cashier's check for well over the asking price, with instructions to pay his shipper and send the cash balance back to him.

The marriage was a variation on the overseas business trip which I haven't heard before. This scammer may be new to scamming if he thinks anyone is going to believe he is on his honeymoon and spending his free time surfing Craig's List looking for furniture.

My reply to this second scammer? Bwa ha ha ha ha ha ha.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

D-Day Has Arrived

That's diet day, by the way.

This morning I weighed, measured, and started the plan, or the cure as they call it. I don't know why, but my height was a full inch taller than I have ever measured. I even measured on two different walls to make sure. I have no idea why, but I'll take it. The last time I was measured at the doctor's office, they said I was 5' 1". I have always been 5' 2-1/2" so I thought I was already seeing the shrinking effects of old age. But when I measured at home later, I was once again 5' 2". I'll get Hubby to remeasure me again tonight, but 5' 3" sounds really good to me.

My goal is to lose thirty pounds though I will be pretty happy just to lose twenty. The doctor wants me to lose at least forty and I think he will be disappointed. I'll try to post about the diet as it goes along, good or bad.

I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving holiday. We went to Tulsa where our eldest daughter lives and our youngest daughter met us there. We talked, ate, and shopped - at least the females in the family did. Hubby shopped a little, and napped in the car a lot.

Oh, and bad news on the sewing machine. We took the beastmobile to Tulsa because we had to take some furniture to Brownie, and the transmission is definitely on it's last legs. So instead of a sewing machine, we need to start a transmission fund. Oh well. The new ones are probably too complicated for me anyway.

Until next time, may you have blessings and added height,
Marti

Sunday, November 22, 2009

I Had This Dream

Wait, I should lie down for this.

Dear Dr. Freud,

I have just started to realize that a lot of people have been saying "Hey you look good, did you lose weight?" when I've either got on nice or newer clothes, or even a haircut. Never just "Hey you look good" it's always, always followed by "did you lose weight." I used to be pleased that they thought I looked thinner, but since people are still saying that and I am actually gaining weight, I have just been wondering how long they have been thinking I am fat.

I had a dream last night where I went into a convenience store and selected eight candy bars - eight different candy bars - a Midnight Milky Way, Mr. Goodbar, a Hershey's Krackel, a Hershey bar with almonds, a Zero, a 100 Grand, a Twix, and a McDonald's fudge bar with chocolate chips (yeah I know it doesn't exist). I pretended I was buying them for other people when they were really all for me.

What does it mean, Dr. Freud, when I can't admit that even in a dream?

The candy bars cost almost $20 which I just happened to have in my pocket and instead of looking at the cost and putting seven bars back, I was happy to pay it.

Don't tell me veddddy interesting! I have a diet coming up, am I going to sabotage myself in my dreams too?

Sincerely,
Marti

Six Week Cure for the Middle Aged Middle

A week ago, I went to the library for a list of books I've been wanting to read. Of course, they didn't have a single book on my list so I looked over the new releases and brought home a couple. One of them was The 6 Week Cure for the Middle-Aged Middle by Mary Dan Eades, M.D. and Michael R. Eades. M.D.

I wanted to skip right to the diet part, but thought I'd scan through the introduction first. It was actually fairly interesting and informative and I kept reading. Most of it was stuff I've already heard, Americans are obese because of polyunsaturated oils and refined sugars, more specifically omega-6 fats and fructose. But it also said that middle aged girth has been around for centuries.

But it was these two paragraphs that made me decide to try this diet. Well, these and the part about the diet being only 6 weeks, and it changes every two weeks, a time frame I think I can do.

The primary cause of the expanding middle-aged waistline is the storage of excess fat deep within the abdominal cavity, in and around the vital organs, accumulating where fat isn't really supposed to be and acting in a more sinister way than fat is supposed to act. Visceral fat is not just a passive repository of extra calories as was once believed; it's a metabolically active organ that responds to neurotransmitters and hormones and sends out chemical messages of its own to the brain and other tissues. When its accumulation reaches a critical mass, it begins to behave more like a tumor than a storage reservoir, infiltrating the organs and muscles - mostly importantly the liver - and at least to some degree, wresting metabolic control from them....

Of the subtle changes leading to fat accumulations in the belly, the most common is the accumulation of fat in the liver itself. If you've ever seen foie gras, you've seen duck or goose livers filled with fat. Sadly, many middle-aged human livers often don't look much different. Though it's long been understood that heavy drinking causes the accumulation of fat within the liver, it may surprise you to learn the the livers of many nondrinking, middle-aged people look about the same as the liver of the chronic drunk collapsed outside the local bar. Like those of the overfed geese, those livers are stuffed with fat. The condition has a name: nonalcoholic fatty liver disorder (NAFLD, or simply a fatty liver).

The first two weeks of the diet is detoxifying the liver so it can function better and improve our overall health.

I already know from my earlier attempt to cut sugar out of my diet, that I felt better, had more energy, and was more alert. So what could it hurt to try this diet for a few weeks? It will take me a few days to accumulate some of the ingredients for the daily protein shakes, and to finish reading the book, but then after Thanksgiving, I'll weigh and measure and start the diet. I'll let you know if it works - or if it doesn't.

Until next time, may you have blessings and health,
Marti

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Job Decision

I need to make a decision. A job opportunity has fallen into my lap and I'm not sure what to do about it. It's full-time, starting soon, doing bookkeeping - which I haven't done in awhile, at least for someone else.

I'm supposed to be mulling it over, so I'm mulling, which feels a lot like stewing. Good thoughts and prayers would be appreciated in the mulling process.

Updated 11/21/09.  I found out that the current bookkeeper is the girlfriend of the owner, and neither he nor she knows that the manager wants to make a change. No way, Jose, will I consider that one!

Until next time, may you have blessings and mulling opportunities,
Marti

Sunday, November 15, 2009

I Think I'm in Jewelry Love!

I was just blog surfing (would that be blurfing?) and read the newest post by Susan at Between Naps on the Porch. Susan is hosting a giveaway for Lisa Leonard Designs, so of course, I had to follow her link to see what Lisa designs, and I was blown away. Susan said these are the perfect Christmas gift and she's not kidding. (Or as we say in the South, she ain't just a-woofin' - I'm not sure what that means, I just like to say it to folks outside the South to keep their vision of the South intact.)

Anyway, here is the item she is giving away: A pewter leaf ornament, customized with your name and the date. Aren't they great?


Even if you enter and don't win, her prices are quite reasonable (dare I say cheap?) for handmade, limited edition artwork.

This is my favorite (hint, hint to Hubby if you are reading), The Sterling Ball Chain:


I think I may have found Hubby's present on her site too, so I can't post that picture.

Normally, I don't enter these blog giveaways because I never win anything anyway, but I am going to try my best on this one. If you want to join me, you can enter the giveaway. Just go to www.notgonnatellya.com and tell her I sent you. Ok, ok, that's not the real link. I guess I can take the competition, it's not like I'm first on the list anyway. Here's what you do:

Go visit Susan at Between Naps on the Porch, ooh and ahh over Lisa's art, and then comment on the post I linked. Easy Peasy.

Now off with ya, and may the luckiest person win.

Until next time, may you have blessings and sweet things,
Marti

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday's Flowers


Just had to share another long-awaited bloom. I had given up on this Confederate Rose this year, when it finally bloomed. Made my day.

Until next time, may you have blessings and simple pleasures,
Marti

A Walk About Waxahachie


Since I was already out taking pictures yesterday, I decided to take some pictures of the downtown square area of Waxahachie. Waxahachie is a little town south of me, but one I have been visiting more often lately.

Here is the beautiful courthouse, already decorated for Christmas.


Waxahachie is an Indian word meaning "cow" or "buffalo". There are many traces of this early heritage around town, from names of streets to the mascot of the Waxahachie High School, the Waxahachie Indians. The town was formed in 1850 on land donated by Emory Rogers. The current court house sits on a square with the Rogers Hotel across the street. This court house was built in 1897 and recently renovated. There is an interesting legend behind the construction that the German master stone carver fell in love with the daughter of the boarding house owner where he lived while working on the court house. He was so in love that he began carving her face into the exterior of the court house. But she didn't return his love, and as his feelings changed from love, to dispair, to anger, his carvings of her face changed too, from angelic to grotesque. While it's doubtful one man carved all the faces on the courthouse, it is a great story and a wonderful courthouse.







There are other faces carved into the stone also.


The court house looks large, but the interior is really pretty small, and a few buildings on the south side of the square have been taken over as court house annexes. The rest of the square has shops and restaurants that stay busy, although businesses come and go. Until just a few years ago, there was a drug store on the corner with a soda fountain just like the one where I worked as a teenager. Yesterday, several businesses were having sidewalk sales although those pictures didn't turn out well enough to post.

So here is a walk around the square (you can see Happy's Furniture in one of the pictures).













Just off the main square itself is Rogers Street with the Rogers Hotel. The hotel was closed for years with a few efforts now and then to restore it. That has finally been done, with a coffee shop at street level, and a salon on the second floor (if you look, you can see a woman getting hair coloring).



And across the street:


I wouldn't mind living in Waxahachie; it is a nice town where there is always something to do. Next time I'll show you some of the historic places. Waxahachie was once a prosperous cotton town and there are many beautifully restored Victorian homes.

Until next time, may you have blessings and hometown memories,
Marti

Shopping Locally Update

I have been looking for a small table to put beside Hubby's recliner. It either needed to be a narrow table or a triangular table to fit in the spot. I had seen one at La Z Boy I thought would work, but ended up finding something similar and less expensive in a nearby town at Happy's Home Furnishings. It's a family owned business located in old store on the square and they have done a good job of preserving the history of the building. The people there are friendly and it was a great experience. They have more furniture than will fit in their two story location, and use a building across the street as their warehouse. Many, many years ago, Sears was located in that building and the people at Happy's still refer to their warehouse as Sears. Here's the table we bought, it has a little pullout drink tray and a drawer for remotes and other small things.


We've also been looking for flooring to replace our wood floor in the living/dining room that was damaged when the freezer quit and everything melted and leaked onto the floor. At the Dallas Home and Garden Show I talked to a vendor who said they could get the same flooring, so Hubby and I went to one of their locations. They could get it alright, at three times the price we originally paid! We thanked them and left. The other day when I was in town, I noticed a building that said Carpet, so I stopped in. They didn't carry this brand, but the man there picked up the phone and started calling, and found where he could get it. The price was right (more than we paid originally, but it's been a year too) so we will get it at Glenn's Warehouse Carpets. Maybe we'll even recarpet the master bedroom while we're at it.


I also realized I do patronize other local independent businesses when I got my hair cut yesterday at His & Hers. I've been going there for years. My stylist is extremely thin with thick, curly hair, but I like her anyway. *grin* She's the only stylist I've ever been to who doesn't try to plaster my hair with mousse and spray.


I wanted to visit the one store listed on The 3/50 Project website but it had closed. With Christmas coming, I think shopping locally with independents will be easier than I first thought.

Until next time, may you have blessings and pleasant shopping experiences,
Marti

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Table Setting


As pretty as they are, I don't do tablescapes. I tried, I really did, but events and family conspired against me. One time I cut some gorgeous fall flowers and greenery and put them in a big vase in the center of the table. During dinner, someone found a bug, or two, maybe three. I told them the bugs were natural, but they didn't buy it. The kids wouldn't eat anything on the table after they saw bugs. I didn't really feel like eating either, but I faked it.

Next time, I put a bunch of candles in the center of the table. Long, beautiful tapers in holders of varying heights. I turned out the lights and it was gorgeous. Then, a candle fell over, or maybe it was knocked over when someone passed a bowl of food in the dark. In any case, it caused a chain reaction and several candles fell. There was a little screaming, chairs turned over, possibly some unpleasant words were spoken. I don't know why there was so much fuss, most of the candles went out when they hit the gravy. No one would eat the gravy after that. Oh sure, they'll eat birthday cake with candle wax on it, but not gravy.

After that, I took the safe but boring route with glass and ceramic objects, and the masses complained they took up too much room. Our table was small at that time. Then the truth came out. My mother-in-law doesn't like anything fancy. She uses paper plates or Corelle even at Christmas, and she thinks it is silly to dress up for holiday dinners. Seems she passed on those exasperating beliefs to Hubby and he in turn openly ridiculed my efforts so our girls picked up the idea that decorating the dinner table was pretentious.

So I gave up, and let food be our centerpieces. My china is Noritake Reverie, which we got as wedding gifts. I've probably used it five times in thirty-four years even though I keep telling myself it is to be used, not just displayed. Actually, it's not even displayed right now because I don't have a china cabinet. It's hidden in a cabinet in the kitchen, one of those bottom cabinets that are so hard to get to. I made the mistake of looking for a few more pieces on ebay and replacements.com; after seeing the cost I was apprehensive of using it. In fact, I bought some Corelle in a similar style for the kids' table and told them it was china. I thought about having the adults use plastic knives so they wouldn't scratch the plates, or casseroles that don't need a knife, but what is Thanksgiving without turkey? I bought the stainless (yes, stainless, I don't polish silver) a few years ago, Wallace Continental Bead, so I wanted to use it too. It did freak me out when a relative sawed on his soft-as-jello (well almost) turkey with his butter knife until it ground into the plate. It was bound to happen sooner or later, and this year he either gets the same plate or sits at the children's table - by himself. Maybe I'll serve the turkey precut into bite-sized pieces this year.

Anyway, I am posting this table setting so my daughters can see the Gramercy goblets I bought for my birthday. I guess technically they are from my mother or mother-in-law since they gave me money for my birthday. I was really pleased to find these lead crystal goblets because they are thick enough to use without fear of breaking and big enough to hold a good amount of tea or water. My other crystal is paper thin and I have already had a casualty when two relatives clicked their glasses together in a mock toast. And these were inexpensive so I won't freak out if one breaks. I might even use them at the children's table.


Now if you want to see some lovely tablescapes, go visit Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for her Tablescape Thursday. I am not participating in it because I think my simple display is sadly lacking in the frou-frou-edness necessary to impress those who like to look at such things.

Until next time, may you have blessings and non-violent centerpieces,
Marti

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Answering Your Questions

Some people email me instead of posting in the comments section and there have been several of the same questions lately, so I thought I'd just answer here in case there are more of you wondering. Since they were emailed to me, I assume you either didn't want your name known or you didn't want to embarrass me by putting it in the comments. Very little embarrasses me in case you haven't noticed; I'll talk about just about anything. But I do appreciate your consideration.

The most common question is "why do I end my posts the way I do?" It's a kind of accountability for me. I can be pretty sarcastic in real life and enjoy poking fun at myself and others, and I found that it had slipped into my entries here as well without thinking that other people might not enjoy my warped humor. A while back, I was reading a friend's blog called "Being Mrs. Clark." It was funny, and kind, and she ended each entry with best wishes that tied into the subject. I miss her blog and wish she would start it again. As I read, I thought how neat it was that she did that, and realized that I couldn't end some of mine that way without feeling hypocritical. So I went back, reread each entry, and if I couldn't end it with a blessing, I took it out. There are some I should probably still take out, and I may go back and reread them later and do that. I'll probably still cross the line from time to time, or teeter on the edge, but I'll try to behave. Although, there is a house I pass daily with the most ridiculous gate.....

The other question(s) I have been getting lately concerns my weight, weight loss, and dieting. By the way, it doesn't bother me that you ask. I'm fat, it's a fact, although in my dreams I'm always thin - and young. It's having those bloomin' kids that made me fat. That's my excuse and I'm stickin' to it. Either that or staying home full time and finally eating home-cooked food. My mother couldn't cook. Actually, she cooked, it just didn't taste good. In any case, I've gained a lot of weight over the years and can't seem to drop it, and if I do lose some, I gain it back along with a few more pounds. Most of the women on my mother's side of the family are short and overweight, and the women on my father's side of the family were tall and thin. I grew up thinking the two were connected because the shorter the woman, the bigger she was, and since I am just over the five foot mark, I figured I was doomed.

No, I haven't found any diet that I could stick to, and I guess that shows how lazy I am. Diets take a lot of planning and work and Hubby generally wants no part of it, so I start out ok, but then give in and eat the good stuff he's eating. When I was cleaning a closet in the spare room the other day, I found a pair of jeans that I thought must be a child's size and wondered why I kept them. They were a size 6! I guess that was my someday-I-will-wear-this-again wishful thinking. Bwa ha ha ha ha. And yet, I didn't toss them. What does that mean, Dr. Freud?

The last time I went to the doctor, I was told to lose 42 pounds, and since then I've gained even more, so now I need to lose 55 pounds. According to this calculator at NowLoss, I am Grade 1 obese. That word alone should motivate me, but instead it just immobilizes me. I don't feel obese, (isn't obese where you can't get out of bed?) and most of the time I don't even feel especially fat - just when I see those obnoxiously skinny people at the grocery store. Even though I have the regular clothes, skinny clothes, and fat clothes in my closet, they are more for comfort than a target for losing weight. I had even forgotten that in some delusional state, I kept some size 6 jeans.

Yes I should exercise, and I have been trying, though not as much as I should. I've been walking, taking a timer with me and increasing my time every day. But some days my hips or knees hurt too bad to walk very far, so I don't. I know the joint pain is caused in part by my weight too. So in answer to your question, "do I exercise?" no, not really. But I did check out a book from the library: The 6 Week Cure for the Middle-Aged Middle. Does that count?

No, I haven't really considered Weight Watchers, mainly because I'm afraid I won't stick to it and it will just be a waste of money. Also, I don't want to weigh in front of other people. (See? I lied, I only said I'll talk about anything.) Actually, I wouldn't mind the first weigh in, but every one after that where I gained weight and got chewed out - those would bother me.

And for those who wanted to know if I will make a video showing how to change out the electrical outlet, no. I don't have a video recorder, just my digital camera with no tripod. Besides, there are already tons of videos out there. For those who wanted to know how to change out the light switches, yes, I am going to do that soon and will photograph it.

I hope this answers your questions.

May you have blessings and an inquiring mind,
Marti

A Little Weirdness

My tomato plants quit producing for the most part so I have been buying tomatoes from the grocery store. Today I cut into this tomato and found that the seeds have sprouted in it! (you may have to click and enlarge to see it)


I thought it would make an interesting blog picture, but then didn't have anything else to say, so I picked up my camera to take more pictures.

Below is a group of three trees in my neighbor's front yard. They have grown together so it looks like one big tree unless you look at the trunks. I love it because one of the trees stays green longer than the others. I've been waiting for better color, but this year it appears the red just isn't going to be very bright.


I think I've been blessed by the 'weird gene' because I delight in seeing unusual things, even if I see what no one else sees. In these next pictures, you might need to also possess the 'weird gene' to see what I see.

In 1990, we bought some property in an undeveloped area, with many outcroppings of sandstone. Lil found a perfect fossil shell, then another, and another until we all became trained to look at the ground when walking. We have found some petrified wood and even petrified bone along with many fossils. But I began to find rocks that looked like other things, and so my interest in rocks began.

This is my first 'find', which I call the petrified brain of prehistoric man (woman's brain being much larger of course).


Petrified prehistoric foot:



Petrified egg: (I have two more that are actually much better but I couldn't find them.) I don't know what that light splotch is, it won't come off. Must be a petrified rotten egg.


This is a rock my neighbor (who knows and enables my quirks) gave me. From this angle it looks just like a rock - ok if you insist, it is a rock:


But from this angle, it is a petrified dinosaur:


A heart (although at this angle I see a bicycle seat):


A small grouping with another heart, a peanut, and something I haven't identified yet. It is a real fossil, but the ridges on the side kind of look like something else, maybe dentures.


Petrified soap. Irish Spring, I think.


This one has several possibilities. It is round on top and comes to a chiseled point on all sides. I couldn't decide whether it looked like a top, a tooth, or a pencil nub, what do you think? Lil used to spin it like a top when she was young.


I haven't identified these next two, but I am sure they are something. The first one kind of looks like the end of a finger. Maybe you see something else? Here are two views of it.




This one is just interesting. Any ideas what it might be?


And no, I don't look for faces in potato chips. I leave that to folks with even more imagination than I.

Until next time, may you have blessings and the ability to see the unusual in the usual,
Marti

Monday, November 9, 2009

Another Year Has Gone By

It just doesn't seem possible, but this year has flown by so fast. Lil graduated from college, both girls took jobs and moved to other states, our beloved Gordon Setter Roxie died, and we have accomplished many of the goals we set in January. I have successfully wiped my exact age out of my memory bank, so unless I do the math, I'm not quite sure how old I am today, and that's a good thing.

The only goal I feel a miserable failure is weight loss. I put on a pair of jeans yesterday that just didn't fit, and I thought I had grabbed a pair from the "small size of the closet", looked at the tag and no, they were my usual size. I was bummed, and chalked it up to eating junk while sitting home alone all weekend. So today I am wearing a pair from the "large size of the closet", a pair I have been meaning to take up, but now I'm grateful to have.

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Yesterday I went out to stack the patio chairs and found a West Nile virus incubation center in a flower pot on the patio. (When I bumped the pot, a huge cloud of mosquitoes came out of it.) Evidently the drainage hole had plugged up and all the water from the last rain had filled the pot. Armed with a shovel, I tried to remove the soil from the pot so the water could drain out. I call it soil, but it was actually sloppy mud, which I got all over the patio, all over the shovel, and all over me. From the knees down I looked just like the Mister Rogers mud monster statue, but smelled like swamp thing.

Until next time, may you have blessings and good drainage,
Marti

Saturday, November 7, 2009

It's a Beautiful Day in My Neighborhood and Other Random Thoughts

Not much going on in W-ville today. Neighbors mowing yards, people riding bikes, woman walking her dog, boy walking his goat... Yes, that's right, a boy walking his goat. I didn't catch the boy's name, but the goat's name is Paco and is a three month old show goat. His attention was on the neighbor's dog who was barking and jumping on the fence - guess the dog had never seen a goat on a rope either.



I was having one of those blah days, probably because I have been eating junk food with sugar. I know I'll pay for it tomorrow, but today it doesn't seem to matter. I'm just blah and alone and a bug bit me when I was mowing the yard. Even the cat has deserted me. KittyTom hasn't been here for two days and I have called and called and searched under all the bushes. He doesn't come to "Tom", only to "Kitty", and not in a normal tone, only when called in a high pitched voice like an alien Dilophosaurus. So my crazy cat lady title is intact in this neighborhood. "Won't you be my neighbor?" sung like Mister Rogers. Have you ever noticed that when you call a dog, it jumps up and runs to you, but a cat will just sit where it is, and when you finally find it, it meows as if to say "Oh crap, you found me"?

Speaking of Mr. Rogers, did you see the statue of him in Pittsburgh? I loved Mister Rogers. His show wasn't on when I was a child. Not only was I older when it started, but our little town didn't get PBS channels. Later I heard all the Mister Rogers jokes and satires on tv but never knew who he was. But when Brownie was about a year old, she used to crawl in bed with me in the morning and I'd flip on the tv and cuddle with her while it was on. I loved his message and the way he talked to kids, well, except that one time when he had one of his puppets say "dang" but I did forgive him later. I know, I say crap all the time and I have got to work on that. But I don't say it to children. On national tv.

Now back to his statue. I know art, especially modern art, is all about interpretation, but I just don't like this statue. It's scary, which would be fine for George Patton, but not Mister Rogers. It looks like a mud monster.

Blah, blah, blah. Maybe I'll change my mind tomorrow. But I doubt it.

Until next time, may you have blessings and interesting neighbors,
Marti

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Butterflies


While I was waiting for the cat to come eat today, I saw a group of butterflies flitting from one flower to another. There were several colors and sizes, but of all the photos I took, these are the only ones that turned out. They were quite camera shy.


I followed the monarch from the aster to the blue mist, and caught this other guy on the lantana (which is really blooming, just no blooms in this picture). If anyone knows what kind this one is, please let me know.


Afterwards I was admiring my red oak tree which is turning a lovely shade of russet, when I noticed that my Yellow Bells aka Esperanza (Tecoma stans) is finally blooming. I transplanted it last year and it has NOT been happy. I was about to give up on it when I noticed two clusters of blooms, kind of ironic since its leaves are turning and falling off.



Then I walked around the corner and once again heard the squeaky toy sounds of startled frogs jumping into the little critter pond.


I also startled a little rabbit who jumped a few feet and then sat still as if he thought he could blend in with the grass.


Then the neighborhood stray cat sprung into action and scared off the rabbit, but he's a pretty lazy cat and didn't give chase.

You know those silly people you see on tv with their dog, and the person is trying to convince you the dog is saying "I love you" or something equally ridiculous when the dog is just making ordinary dog noises? Well lately I've thought this cat mimics my "hello" with a hello of his own. You know you have waaaaay too much time on your hands when you hold a camera in front of a cat saying "hello" over and over waiting for him to say it back. And no, I know he doesn't say it, it's just an ordinary cat meow. I think. But I do have video. And this picture. Doesn't he look like he is trying to communicate?



The click of the camera scared him and then he sat glaring at me for a few minutes.


I really do have video.  This cat usually doesn't sit still for me, or even show his face during the day, so this is really unusual.

Until next time, may you have blessings and nature's joy,
Marti silly cat woman