Today’s Beauty – 07/24/2008

It seems as though we are bombarded almost daily with scenes of ugliness, barbarism or brutality – at least if we watch TV at all.  The nightly news has almost become too much for me to bear.  I’ve been wondering why I am so much happier when I spend time on the north shore.  I’m convinced one of the reasons is because I don’t watch any TV when I am there, so my sensitivities get a rest from the otherwise daily onslaught.  And I’ve been watching far less TV since I got back from Lutsen the last time.  And it has helped tremendously.  So, I’ve decided to start a new feature on my blog, at least for a little while, to showcase some of the beauty I am seeing around me each day.  I have a ton of pictures from my garden, which has given me enormous pleasure this year.  Every day when I turn into our driveway, I smile inside.  I’ve decided to share that with the world.  So here goes …

One of the beautiful Asiatic lillies we have have in our front garden bed.  It just opened, finally, yesterday, and I must say, she’s gorgeous, wouldn’t you agree????

How am I doing so far?

Well, today is the second full day on WW.  How am I doing?  Well, I’m already over my “points” for the week because if you are on the Core plan, your food choices are pretty limited.  Now that I see how easy the on-line planner is to use in order to log your food consumption, I might switch to the Flex plan instead.  Although the Core plan makes life easier in some ways because you don’t have to count anything *as long as* you only eat the core foods, I’m never going to eat only Core foods – I just know that about myself.  But you know what?  I’m not the least bit bummed out or discouraged in any way about my progress so far.  In fact, I’m very proud of myself for these first three days.

I think a good start for me is just learning to make better decisions, day by day, about what and how much I eat. Mom got here last night for a visit and I asked her if there was anything she really wanted to eat. She said smelling that BBQ in Memphis and not having enough time to get a sandwich had gotten to her and she’d love to go get a BBQ sandwich some place. So I decided this was a good opportunity to face the challenge of going out to restaurants with people. I ended up ordering the leanest things they had (a combo with catfish and brisket). I didn’t eat the bread the brisket was on. I ate about 1/4th of the muffin. I used less than a tablespoon of BBQ sauce. I ate all my green beans and corn on the cob, but only two forkfuls of potato salad. I allowed myself the luxury of one glass of sweet ice tea, but only one. After that, I switched to unsweetened tea. It’s not earth-shattering, but it is different, because before I would have ordered the half-slab of St. Louis ribs, and eaten every bit of every side and my muffin – and I probably wouldn’t have ordered green beans. So that is what I think will ultimately make the difference for me, making small, but important, changes that add up over time. In other words, making better and healthier choices consistently, and doing so in a very deliberate and conscious way. And yes, I felt much better when we left the place last night than I normally do when I walk out of there.

Today for lunch I had a 1/2 order of the steamed veggies and chicken.  When was the last time I ordered a half order of anything, much less something light and healthy?  That is definitely a better decision that the General Tso’s chicken – a delictable fried and sauced concoction familiar to Chinese-food lovers in the US.   And I had a small bowl of hot and sour soup, instead of the cream cheese wantons I’ve taken to allowing myself.

So that is how I’m doing on day 2.  I think I’m off to a good start, even if I am not yet following the food plan to the letter.  I didn’t get fat overnight and I’m not going to lose all this weight that quickly either.  Rome wasn’t built in a day you know.  I will consider myself a wild success if I take off 20 pounds or more over the next year.  That will be enough to prove to me that I have changed courses and am now moving in a better direction.

P.S.  I did make the change to the Flex plan online, but that wiped out my food diary for the past 3 days, so I have to go back in and re-enter everything.  I might be better off than I realize and not over my points yet.

The time has come, the walrus said, to talk of many things …

As I was in the car on the way to the lab to get my blood work done (that my doctor ordered from my physical back in May), I was almost at the clinic and I sneezed unexpectedly.  I didn’t realize what had happened at first, but I instantly felt more relaxed.  That’s when I remembered hearing a pinging sound and I looked down to find not only had my sneeze caused me to lose a button on my trouser waists, but I had managed to bust the zipper in my fly.  Disgusted with myself, I pulled over into the Target lot – and I was ever so grateful that I was right next to Target so I could run in and buy a new pair of pants.  Lucky for me, the zipper still worked after I zipped it up and down once or twice, so I went ahead to the lab to have my blood drawn, and headed right back to the Target next door to buy replacement pants.

OK, I thought, that’s really it.  The doctor warned me at my physical that I look like I am creeping toward metabolic syndrome (controversy over that diagnosis notwithstanding).  Thank goodness I haven’t arrived yet.  I’ve known for quite a while that I am heavier than I want to be, like to be, or should be.  I have what I consider to be way too much happy fat.  I’ve got pretty much everything I’ve wanted in life and I have indulged.  I have eaten exactly what I wanted, when I wanted, for as much as I wanted, as often as I wanted – for years now.  And my clothes have gotten tighter and tighter with each new pound.  And now I can’t even wear some of my favorite shirts.  The pants you already have an idea about.

Never mind that back in May my doctor glibly said “Have you ever considered gastric bypass surgery?”  I was so stunned at the time, but an hour later I wanted to slap her.  I think she was just trying to shock me, but I found out that I am nowhere near a candidate for such surgery, nor did I think I was at the time.  All I remember saying at the time was something along the lines of “Hell no!” and probably not much cleaner than that.  She did recommend, then, that maybe I should consider going to Weight Watchers.  Which, as it turns out, I am not averse to.  Once before, about 20 years ago, when I lived in Florida, I started attending Weight Watchers meetings with a friend from work, just to get rid of some of the excess poundage that I had tired of carrying around with me.  So, I thought to myself this morning, what the hell?  Why not give it a try again?  Which is exactly what I decided to do.

The programs have changed quite a bit since then.  I actually liked the daily planner you carried around with you on that old plan – and I lost weight like crazy when I stuck to the plan.  But they don’t have that any more.  I did opt for the online version of the plan.  I can pay one-off meeting fees if I decide to go to the meetings at the JCC around the block from our house.  I may go to the first week just to weigh in and get the “Eat Wisely” book, if they will let me have it.  Anyway, the online version does have a nifty food tracker which is probably far more accurate and easy to use.  I can log what I eat every day, easily keep track of my extra points, log my exercise (note to self:  you really *do* have to do that 1/2 hour bike ride if you want to claim the 2 point benefit!), look up foods and recipes, etc., etc., etc.  I opted for the Core Plan so there is less counting to do, but I may switch to the Flex plan if I find it too hard to stay with the Core foods.  I’ll give it a try though.

{{{{{sigh}}}}}  Why can’t I have the metabolism I had 20 years ago, when I could eat anything and everything and it would just burn away?  Well, I’m 42 now and no use crying over what used to be.  It was fun while it lasted.  I don’t want to become diabetic if I can avoid it (maybe I can’t), I don’t want to have words with my doctor over my weight (which it will likely come to the next time she has something sassy to say about it), and I really would like to be slimmer and feel lighter.  Not to mention that serious weight loss would be a huge benefit to my sleep apnea.  Then, too, there is that one pair of red Lucky jeans (they really were!) which I just can’t bear to part with and I would so dearly love to squeeze my not-so-fat ass into them once again.

So there, I’ve outed myself about my need to lose weight.  Sometimes confession really is good for the soul.

Minnesota Quilters 2008

I could just have easily titled this post “or How Boyd sought to get his mojo back” because that’s precisely what I’d hoped would happen. I’ve been quilting in fits and spurts since last year and haven’t just connected with that pure excitement and joy that quilting used to bring me at every turn. I was hoping for an instant change of heart, as if by shear osmosis at a quilt show, somehow the fire would be lit again. Instead, I got sparks and a gentle fanning. Which might turn out to be OK in the end. I attended two lectures and Margaret Miller challenged me to re-exam what got me involved with quilting in the first place and to ask myself what sustains me and connects me with the community of quilters. And Ellen Anne Eddy, always a delightful speaker, reminded me that doing one’s art really is about focusing on what you love, what excites you and leaving the rest of the world behind. Yesterday, I picked up a journal for the first time in a long time to try to start writing and sorting some of this stuff out. I don’t have answers yet, but I am still pondering.

As for the show itself, while there were obvious highlights, some of the show left me a bit cold. And I bought one, count it, ONE piece of fabric during the entire time I was there. I bought some tools I thought were cool, especially the specially-created presser foot for sewing drunkard’s path curves without pins or matching. I’m excited to try that. And I got a great book of vintage apron patterns that I am anxious to make up. But most of the quilts left me flat. Here are some (but by no means all) of the quilts that I thought were remarkable.

Ellen Anne Eddy’s work is as remarkable as she herself is. How can this piece not blow your mind as to the possibilities that await those who have the clarity to follow their own vision?

This was Sue Rutford’s journal quilt and this picture doesn’t nearly do it justice. You had to get up close and really look at it to see what a wonderful and unique piece of work it was.

This quilt just made my soul smile. It is so exhuberant!

Again with the happy-happy, joy-joy.

My Wisconsin quilting buddies at the show, from L to R, Joan, me, Sharyn, Wendy, Carol, Pat, Jayne, and Nancy.