Thursday, November 30, 2006

Cool, cool water

That sweet, soothing old country song seems like the perfect way to announce that:
Our well is fixed!
No longer does the H20 look carbonated coming from the tap. No more explosions of air from the shower head just as you're getting ready to rinse and repeat. Woo hoo!

And it only cost a leg, not an arm and a leg. But Mr. Shrinking Knitter and I agreed that if it had cost an arm and a leg we would have gladly paid it, for the peace of mind of not having to hold our breath every time we turned on the tap.
I kind of wanted to smack Adrian on The Biggest Loser last night, but I also know just how she feels. She worked so hard and did so well and only lost two pounds. Her biggest worry – as is mine – is that we're stuck. This – 20 or 25 or 30 pounds more than that ideal number – is what we're going to weigh for the rest of our lives. I'm sure if I worked as hard as the contestants work, I'd be bummed, too.

And I really wanted to smack that perky little Kim, who just said, "Keep working out and eating right and you'll get there!" Raise your hand if you've been doing that for the last two or five or 10 years.

As I was thinking about my contradictory emotions, it occurred to me that all those months and years I tried and failed to lose weight, I really was smacking myself, instead of acknowledging that I was, at least, aware of the problem and working toward a solution. M@rla has devised – and trademarked! heh – a reward plan to help keep things interesting and reward her compliance. I love that idea, but I end up spending more time smacking myself for things I do wrong. I'm sure there's a deeply rooted psychological reason for this. Too bad my husband won't treat family members.

SparkPeople has an article about rewarding oneself with some good ideas. One suggestion is to take yourself on a trip when you reach your weight-loss goal. While that still focuses on the final number, instead of doing the right thing day in and day out, it's one that I've considered. I've never been on a cruise. A knitting cruise to Alaska would be a great prize for me.

Some of the reward ideas are things I do without even thinking. Do I want to subscribe to a magazine? Okay, then, send a check. If I feel like reading a book or watching a television program or spending time on a hobby, I stop mopping the floor and switch gears. So those aren't really rewards to me.

The electronic food scale was, though. And I ordered Calorie King as a reward and a tool.
My angst about The Biggest Loser is out of my hands next week. I watch the major networks through a satellite service. Because the company provided distant network programming to customers who had local programming available, they've now been ordered to remove the distant channels from their line-up. Thereby denying those of us who don't have local programming the opportunity to watch ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox.

Dish Network will be installing an antenna so that we can get local signals [which will mean figuring out which input button to push ... sometimes even this geek-loving girl wishes for the good old days] on Dec. 12. So I'll miss next week's TBL, but should be able to see the finale.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Born to run

Continuing with our musical theme this week, I have to crow about my morning walks, which have turned into half-walks and half-runs. Or jogs, actually. I can't finish four miles of hills in less than an hour without picking up the pace, and I've been able to do that both Monday and Tuesday this week. Yeah, me!
There's just something about running that makes me feel strong and light and athletic. When I walk I feel like a frumpy old housewife trying to lose weight.

Which would you choose?

After I submitted my "Tunes for a Shrink" iMix, I – like Lori – discovered that a keyword search would turn up lots of possibilities. I tried the words "hair" and "hairdresser," because I think it would be fun to give a custom mix to the fabulous woman who cuts my hair every five weeks, but mostly that search turned up '80s music – nothing with a hair theme. So I searched the iTunes store for hair and came up with some good possibilities, but finally came to my senses and realized that hairdressers like money more than they like music. Maybe I'll do both, if I have time.

Lori wondered in the comments yesterday if Blueprint was like an upscale Better Homes & Gardens. I think they're trying to compete with Real Simple, and I actually like it better than RS simply because I can read it in bed! RS is bigger in both page size and number of pages, and it's just too hefty to leaf through for 10 minutes before I fall asleep. I have to sit in a chair to read Real Simple, and y'all know what I do when I sit in a chair. [Hint: It rhymes with hint. Sort of.]

Actually my bedtime reading is still Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, but you know what I mean.

Most of the rest of my day was spent designing the cover art for Mr. Shrinking Knitter's double-disc set.
I had great fun with that, and just hope my choice of a couch isn't too trite an image. Psychiatrists don't even use couches any more. Patients don't need couches when all they're doing is getting a prescription. [My husband, by the way, prefers fewer prescriptions and more conversation, but that's not the way insurance pays these days. Harumph. That's another issue, not within the scope of this blog, but if you're interested in a better/different alternative, be sure to click the PNHP link over there in the sidebar.]

Ooopsie. Back to our regular programming.

Welcome back, Greta! Greta's been unable to leave comments here since I switched to betaBlogger, but all seems to be back to normal now. I'm sure you've heard of the Clash at a reception or two, and probably also heard of Big Audio Dynamite, kind of a Clash reincarnation. Love that sound; "The Globe" has a good warm-up, marching tempo. [My daughter's brother-in-law was quite young when "The Globe" was popular. He called it the "Whoo" song.]

I was going to whine a little bit about how long it takes to download music and how slow the internets are when I'm downloading, but you've heard it here before.

Wish me luck with the water situation. Luck would be that they quickly find the problem, definitively repair it and we don't have to mortgage the property to pay for it. That's not asking for too much, is it?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

I've got the music in me

I'm a sucker for those free trial magazine offers. The most recent one I succumbed to is Martha Stewart's new publication called Blueprint.

I really like the magazine, and will definitely send in my check to start the subscription. But I'm not sure I'm exactly in their demographics. Maybe I'm a Blueprint wannabe.

The reason I say this is based on just one little snippet from their "Out & About" section, which is tagged as "knowledge and niceties for a well-lived life." A music list called "If You Like That, Try This" offers three categories for several music genres: You've heard, You might not have heard and You'll probably like.

I recognize more of the "You might not have heards" than either of the other two categories. I was taken aback that in the Rock category, Blueprint thinks their readers might not have heard of the Clash.

I must be older than I think I am.

There's a well-written article for beginning runners, including a playlist of motivating music. If you go to the website, they're continuing to add playlists throughout the fall. I'm downloading the Fun Run list as I type.

I've been downloading lots of music lately – iTunes should give me a discount – for some CD mixes I'm putting together for Christmas gifts. I've been listening to the new music while I walk, but I really should have a little notepad with me because it's hard to remember which ones I really love by the time I get home. When I hit the driveway all I'm thinking about is water and a shower!

[Speaking of which, our well is still acting up, but the repairman promised he'd be here Wednesday. If it doesn't rain.]

Yesterday I plugged into the list I'd compiled for Mr. Shrinking Knitter, who is a psychiatrist. Who knew there were so many songs about mental illness? Who knew someone would actually create a comprehensive list and publish it to Wikipedia? I'm glad they did, though. While Mr. Shrinking Knitter's musical tastes run more to Bach and Haydn, I think he'll like some of the ones I chose and it should make his drive to work a little more entertaining. Who wouldn't be entertained by that old classic, "They're Coming to Take Me Away, Ha Ha!"?

Anyway, listening to this mix got me running again. Four miles on hills in less than an hour. How could I not pick up the pace listening to Pat Benatar's "Anxiety (Get Nervous)" or Barenaked Ladies' "Crazy"? You can view the iMix list here. [iTunes required.]

Monday, November 27, 2006

It's a "thin" day

First, wanna see my Christmas tree? I thought you might!

Now regarding today's title: You know what I mean. You wake up and your stomach is more concave than convex. You breathe deeply, fully. You walk taller, sit straighter.

You're not afraid to try on your smallest-sized jeans.

That's how I feel this morning, although I'm still in my jammies. Heh. It's pretty easy to feel thin in an oversized T-shirt and knit PJ pants.

It's a great feeling on this Monday, which I've designated as "Get Back on the Horse Day." I did well over the weekend, but I haven't stuck strictly to the food plan and I haven't pushed myself with the walking. And I haven't picked up a dumbbell in a very long time.

It's easier for me to be consistent with intentional activity when I do it every day. Therefore, taking a walk [or using the rowing machine, or doing a fitness DVD]
every morning eventually becomes a good habit, replacing the one where I sit on the couch knitting while watching "Clean Sweep."

"They" warn not to strength-train on a daily basis, but I think I'm going to throw caution to the wind. If I use lighter weights – five pound dumbbells instead of 10 – and stick to a few careful moves as part of a daily routine, I think I'll be able to make weight-training a habit. Knocking off every other day or, worse, telling myself I only have to do it three times a week, just isn't working for me.

It might work for you, but I have to figure this out for myself.

I think "they" are speaking more to firefighters doing killer routines in a gym, rather than chubby housewives who just wants to create a new good habit. Oh, and some muscle tone in their upper arms.

Time to saddle up.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

More fun with knitting and beads

If you're a regular here, you know I'm making a cabled cardigan for my granddaughter for Christmas. There are four different charts to follow, and as I was starting out, I had trouble remembering which section of the knitting corresponded to which chart.

Beads to the rescue! A box of colorful alphabet beads and some coilless safety pins were the perfect solution to my brain lapse, as illustrated. I just glance at the bead to know which chart to follow. Now that I've gone through all the charts more than a couple times, I really don't need the bead-crutch any more, but before I took them off I wanted to share my tip o' the day.

I've made fewer errors on this cabled project than on any other I've ever done. In fact, I almost passed on this pattern, because the "C" chart is the kind of cabling that I tend to mis-cross or otherwise FUBAR.

I wish I were inspired to write something motivating and insightful about weight loss and fitness these days, but I'm just not. I'm happy to be able to walk outside again. Food choices have been good. I'm not drinking as much water as I did when the weather was hot, and I've been forgetting vitamins, as well. There's always room for improvement.

Thanks Lori and PQ for your thoughts about stats. I still haven't heard from SiteMeter about the lapsed week, but it's a holiday weekend. Maybe they're all taking some time off.

The tree is up and I bravely tossed some holiday decorations we'll never use. Mr. Shrinking Knitter isn't as enthusiastic about Christmas as I am, so decorating is strictly up to me. I've had the same tree for about a dozen years now – very girly-girl, with white lights, pink and silver glass balls and yards and yards and yards of pink tulle for a tree skirt. He doesn't seem to mind … I guess he's just very in touch with his feminine side. Heh.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The day after the day after

The good thing about not being the host for Thanksgiving dinner is that tempting leftovers are minimal. My mother-in-law insisted we bring home some turkey, so I wrapped up enough for a couple of sandwiches [Mr. Shrinking Knitter wanted his on white bread, with mayo and lots of pepper], and brought home what was left of the dishes I'd contributed.

No dressing. No pie.

As of this morning, the only thing left is a dab of that yummy cranberry relish. I mixed some with cottage cheese for lunch yesterday – very tasty!

So yesterday was a good food day, as well as a good exercise day. I've missed just one day of walking since I started back again. On only one of those days did I walk fewer than four miles, and time-wise all have been for more than an hour.

SiteMeter lost a whole week's worth of stats between yesterday morning and this morning. I was thisclose to 15,000 visitors. I'm kind of bummed about it, and hope those numbers are recoverable. I know it shouldn't matter whether anyone visits here or not … this really is just a place for me to be accountable. But I kind of like knowing others are out there cheering and sympathizing and empathizing. I put a new counter up, but the last figure I had was the one from SiteMeter, so I'm a week short on numbers. I guess it really doesn't matter.

If you have a blog, do you pay attention to your site stats?

I'm making good progress on my granddaughter's cardigan. I still have to pay close attention to it, even though I've gone through two repeats of each cable chart. Three more repeats [which is 48 more rows] and I'll be at the correct length to split the fronts from the back at the underarms. I started a sleeve for the other sweater I promised my neighbor for her granddaughter. Very simple stockinette on a short circular needle. I could probably knit this in my sleep, and it's a nice counterpoint to the complexity of the other one.

I like both kinds of knitting – detailed and easy-peasy. While I'm usually a one-project-at-a-time kinda gal, I appreciate the opportunity to take a break from the Aran cardigan to work on the stockinette pullover.

Just a month until Christmas, and the madness of the holidays will be over for another year. I'm putting the tree up today, and also will be purging some of the decorations that we just don't ever put out any more. Maybe while I'm getting rid of stuff, I can also get rid of negative thoughts about this 'festive' season.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Thank you

But first!'s Word of the Day today?
avoirdupois: weight; heaviness.
Those guys crack me up.

Thank you to those who have commented and e-mailed about my, um, indiscretion with the onions the other day. It's always good to have that affirmation that I'm not unique or special or alone, especially when I'm thinking how awful I am. I am, perhaps, unique in binging on canned fried onions. Whatever.

So how are you feeling this morning? Did you enjoy your day? Did you eat without guilt? Did you walk it off, either pre- or post-meal?

I feel great. If my mother-in-law were a better cook, I might have overindulged, but it's hard to pig out on bland, soggy dressing and store-made pie. I don't think she knows how her oven works; everything on the table was catered by Kroger. I contributed the green bean casserole [which I don't care for anyway], a Waldorf salad [my grandmother's Thanksgiving tradition, which I have continued] and a most amazing and easy cranberry relish.

For the cranberry relish, simply dump a bag of fresh cranberries in a casserole dish and mix in a large jar of sugar-free orange marmalade. Bake in a 350° oven for about 45 minutes. Chill. How easy is that? And it's delish!

At any rate, I should be grateful instead of bitching, right?

I walked in the morning, four miles, and will do so again today. The weather outside's delightful, with a prediction of clear skies, lots of sun and pleasant, 60-degree temperatures for the next several days.

Speaking of the weather, I love how the fog around here sometimes tucks itself in behind a hill, settling close to the ground all around us. Even though we don't live at a terribly high elevation, when I see this fog phenomenon I feel like I live in the clouds. Here's one view, from my front door looking slightly southwest:

There was no Biggest Loser last night, no big surprise there. The contestants probably had fat-free deli turkey slices on a Romaine leaf and called it good. Renee has some great, real-world ideas for how next season's show should go. I doubt the unreal world of lowest-common-denominator television production will buy it, though.

I think Renée's suggestions are what most weight-loss websites try to do. [I'm thinking of SparkPeople, eDiets, Weight Watchers Online, etc.] It's just harder to get readers jazzed about sensible eating, moderation and regular – but not killer – exercise.

I wouldn't have watched TBL last night anyway. I watched the end of the afternoon football game and the beginning of the premiere Thanksgiving night one, but fell asleep before the second quarter.

I'm such a party girl.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

We gather together

A bit of a mish-mash of thoughts today, kind of like our plates will be later on!
• • •
My blogless friend N and I have made a deal to get back on track together beginning Monday. She's having more guests for dinner today than I have in my whole family, and even more throughout the weekend, so it's unrealistic to think she can follow the plan to the letter starting tomorrow.

I, on the other hand, don't have the luxury of that excuse, and it will be good for my head, as well as my body, to treat the day after Thanksgiving as simply, um, Friday.
• • •
If you've ever read my profile, you'll note that my musical taste runs to Dylan. And then there's Dylan. Oh, and more Dylan. So I was delighted to read this New York Times opinion piece this morning.
• • •
Speaking of music, I've been downloading some songs from iTunes for a mix I want to give someone for Christmas. Have I mentioned here, ever, how very much I don't like dial-up internet access? [There are more, but, really, I know you're not going to click on all those old posts anyway. You get the idea.] I finally had to pause the last two selections just so the Blogger sign-in page would finally load and I could get this post written. It's Thanksgiving, after all, and I have eggs to devil and Waldorf salad to assemble and, oh, maybe even a walk to take before we head out to Mr. Shrinking Knitter's mother's for dinner.

The computer, on the other hand, will be working all afternoon, 'cause I'm leaving it connected to download those songs while we're gone.
• • •
Brian Williams reported last night that college students gain 1.1 pounds over the Thanksgiving break. In addition to the extra calories we all eat anyway on Thanksgiving, students have the "extra baggage of pent-up demand for home cooking and pressure to please the doting relatives who dish it out." That quote is from this story, which gives more details on the research. Research! Who needs to research something like that? Of what great significance is it, in the whole scheme of things? The part of Williams' report that set me off was when he said, "It's not their fault." Nope, I'm sure Mom was shoveling it in while Grandma was holding the kid down.

I couldn't help but think of that HBO documentary Thin, in which one woman writes down the calories for every bite she eats, so she won't go over 200 per day.
• • •
Have a grateful day, okay?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Biggest Loser news

Just saw this article, which offers some details about contestants' regimens at the ranch and follow-up studies being done on previous seasons' losers.

I feel like I need to build a gym in my back yard.

Just so you know – I'm not perfect

As if you ever thought that anyway.

My name is Debbi and I'm a food addict.

I made a really bad food choice yesterday. After I logged everything, I only exceeded my calorie range by about 300, but the thing I ate – a can of those fried onion things that go in green bean casserole? – was 540 calories and took about 10 minutes to inhale. In the car, for cryin' out loud!

I didn't need much at the grocery yesterday, since Mr. Shrinking Knitter and I aren't hosting Thanksgiving dinner. He requested the green bean dish; I'd hoped to come up with something more healthful and exotic, but he likes traditional, so there you go. Those onion thingies aren't something I keep "in stock," so they were on my list, along with cranberries, sugar-free orange marmalade and Diet Dr. Pepper.

I only needed one can of onions. I bought two. When I loaded the bags in the car, I put them in the front seat, right beside me. I knew exactly where the extra can was and I don't think I'd even gotten out of the grocery-store parking lot before I popped the top.

It might as well have been a Heineken's.

Because of my indiscretion, I didn't eat dinner. Instead, thanks to the thoughtfulness of another weight-loss blogger who reads here, I had a copy of the HBO documentary Thin, to watch. [No, I still haven't figured out how to set up the DVR to record something when I'm not here. Sigh.]

It was probably the perfect late-afternoon entertainment after a mini-binge. All those skin-and-bones women, endlessly debating whether to eat, and how much, and talking about why they had to be thin. It gave me some perspective and, in an odd way, some reassurance. Yes, I screwed up, but at least I didn't hurl.

I had to stop watching to go to the prison, and I was pretty hungry when I got home later. I'd made cookies for Mr. SK earlier in the afternoon. [I did great during the baking, by the way. Buying break-and-bake cookie dough really helps!] But I ate a baked cookie – you know, something with sugar in it – before I settled down for the evening.

So I broke several cardinal rules, or ignored some common tips, or just went to hell in a handbasket for a day. Wasn't the first time, probably won't be the last. I just wish I knew what was happening in my brain before crap like that happens.

I also wish I could handle this problem the way I did the booze one. I need to feel that the consequences of ingesting sugar are as dire as the ones that happen when I drink. But, honestly, they're not. Or, if they are, I don't believe it. Yet.

What's it going to take?

On the plus side, I've walked three of the last four days, for more than an hour each time. Even Sunday, when it was cold and I'd planned to work out indoors, I eventually bundled up and took it outside. My foot has been a little sore when I don't remember to elevate it during extended sit-and-knit sessions. But that sometimes happened before the plantar fasciitis, and my heel still feels fine.

Someone named Anonymous left a comment on the bracelet post asking if I had a pattern. I have no way of contacting her. If she should happen to stop by here and read this and leave an e-mail address, I have written up the pattern and will send a .pdf file to her. And to anyone else reading who might want one.

If you're in the midst of a big food-preparation day, or a family hassle, or last-minute work crap, I hope you find a minute or two of peace and serenity to feel grateful for something.

I'm thankful you've stopped here today, and hope you'll be back.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


This story has nothing to do with weight loss, fitness or knitting. So if those are your reasons for coming here, you may be excused. I don't mind.

Last night I was explaining to my beginning drawing students at the prison the theory behind the work we would be doing during our session. A young woman from one of my previous classes knocked on the door and asked if she could show me what she'd drawn that day. She had to go back to her bunk to get it, and while my students were working and she was fetching, I had one of those small, piercing moments of gratitude.
I teach drawing because I want these women to have something to do that takes them out of where they are. Drawing does that for me, although I don't do much of it any more. When I was selling my work though [that's an example above], I would start a project and not come up for air for hours. I think that's a wonderful gift to give the inmates.

From the feedback I've gotten, especially last night, sometimes I succeed.

The woman came back with her well-worn sketchbook and showed me her drawing, a pair of hands [think of the Allstate "good hands" illustration], holding a rosary. There was much more to it than that; the details escape me right now. Her rendering of the hands, the shadows and highlights, the way she blended them into the background, the background itself … she did a great job. She thanked me over and over for teaching her how to draw.

My new students wanted to see her work, which she proudly displayed to them. This is only their second week; so it gave them a new perspective on what they would be able to accomplish after six weeks.

That's the first time in two years anyone has come back to show me something she's drawn on her own. I've quit asking the ones I run into on the compound if they're still drawing. That one sweet visit made up for all of the too-busy and too-tired ones who put their drawing pads in their lockers and never look at them again.

I think I smiled all the way home. Mission accomplished.

Monday, November 20, 2006

35 days until Christmas

For me, that means 35 days of knitting!

Unlike many knitters, I love having a deadline. Figuring out how many inches of fabric I can produce in a day, and translating that into the number of days I need to complete a project, is fun in a geeky kind of way. When I don't have a deadline, I'm liable to spend my idle hours reading beading scrapbooking playing computer solitaire.

I started my granddaughter's sweater, the lovely Climbing Jacket, over the weekend. The pattern was designed by Janet Szabo, who, in addition to publishing books, also writes a quarterly newsletter called Twists and Turns.

Unlike Janet's daughter, for whom the jacket was designed, my granddaughter would never wear blaze orange. I'm using a DK weight acrylic/wool blend in a more traditional cream color dotted with random flecks of grey and rust.

And I've already ripped it out once. Because it was too big! Even when I knit and measure a gauge swatch – and with this sweater, which is worked all in one piece from the lower edge up, it was necessary – it was quite roomy. So roomy that she wouldn't be able to wear it until she started middle school, probably. [The reason it was necessary is that one wants to prevent, at all costs, ripping out the back and both fronts of a sweater. Fat lot of good knitting that gauge swatch did!]

The beauty of an Aran sweater for the knitter is that there usually are several inches of filler stitches which can be reduced without compromising the design. The beauty for the wearer is self-evident, in my opinion.

At any rate, I was able to knit five inches on Saturday and Sunday, which tells me that I've got plenty of time to finish this one and another, different child-sized sweater which also is due before Christmas.

I ate well yesterday, but didn't exercise at all. I should have, though. I kept thinking any minute we were going to have rain and/or snow, but it never happened. Today? There's a light dusting of snow and it's probably 20 degrees colder than it was yesterday. Harumph! I'll hit the treadmill and rowing machine indoors today. Probably ought to hoist a dumbbell or two, as well, as it's been a while.

To get back to the idea of deadlines … as all 17 of you regular readers know, I started my weight-loss plan in January, 2006, intending to reach my goal by January, 2007. And, as you also know, it's Not. Gonna Happen.

In addition to the plantar fasciitis, which tripped up my workouts, I hit what can only be called a plateau this fall, causing great discouragement and much whining. I've been so discouraged that I've stopped weighing myself because that number, which is simply information, was affecting me as if it were a judge and jury. I've probably gained five or six pounds back from the lowest weight I'd reached, but here's what I've learned.

It will come back off.

The big enlightenment for me this year has been that exercise is vital. I really wish I could lose weight without sweating, but I can't. I could when I was in my 20s. Now that I'm firmly planted in middle age? Not so much. I worked out like a maniac when I lost about 50 pounds 10 years ago. As I reduced my intentional activity, and slipped away from more healthful eating habits, all of those pounds and more came back. What an old song-and-dance, eh?

So that experience, coupled with this year's long standstill, has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that my body likes to move it, move it.

My head, though? We'd rather be knitting.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Getting strong now, won't be long now

Well, it seems there are at least a couple of you who want Batman sweaters for yourselves or your children. Here's the chart, and I know that both of you know how to knit. Go for it!

I know you all probably logged on last night at 11, thinking you'd find out whether I walked outside or not. Heh. I did it! And the best part is there's no pain in my heel. No piercing, no stabbing, not even that residual 'healing bruise' pain I had last week.

That's not to say I'm not a little stiff and sore, though. I walked four miles in 63 minutes outside on hills, and I definitely feel it this morning. I'm 55 years old, for cryin' out loud! Fifty-five and a half, if you want to get technical.

But I mostly feel pretty darned happy about it. Kinda like Sly, makin' his comeback.

[I remember back in '76, when the first Rocky movie was released. I was running back then, too, and was so inspired by his guttiness and determination that I saw it twice. I told Mr. Shrinking Knitter I was definitely going to see the new one, due for a Christmas release.

He just looked sideways at me, like I was nuts. Kinda.]

The day really was perfect – no wind, sun filtered by thin clouds, moderate temperature in the low 50s, just as predicted. I left the house at 11:24, according to the clock on the coffeemaker, and walked for almost a mile. I then said to myself, "Self? How about trying a little jog?" So I jogged for almost another mile, until I got halfway up the second hill. When I got to the two-mile mark, I turned around and jogged most of the way home, arriving in my driveway at 12:27. I was careful to stretch when I got back. I used to never stretch; I've learned my lesson.

To be honest, I felt like a clod, heavy and slow, trying to run after all this time. The last time I remember running outside was sometime in September, although I've taken short walks to the post office and back a couple of times. But I'm sure I'll get over this sluggish feeling and will soon recapture that athletic aura I used to have.

I have my eye on a half-marathon in April.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Nananananananana Batman!

Except for having to go back and shorten the sleeves, the Batman sweater for my almost six-year-old grandson is done.

So I guess that means it's not done, right? What I mean is, all the ends are woven and clipped and it's been laundered, and after a final evaluation I've decided that he probably won't still want to wear it when he's 12, so I need to go back and lop off a couple inches.

I thought the first sleeve looked long when I finished it, but the fiber is 50/50 cotton/wool [my favorite, long-discontinued Brown Sheep Cotton Top], so I hoped for some shrinkage. If there was any, it wasn't enough.

And so … off with those cuffs! Which isn't so bad, really, since I knit the sleeves from the top down. I am literally going to cut the cuffs off, pick out the seam and rip back another inch, then knit a new cuff. Easy-peasy.

How cool is it that I had just the colors I needed – Batman Grey, Batman Black and Batman Yellow – in the yarn closet? That's the beauty of having a stash that competes with some yarn shops.

Yesterday, in response to my remarks about Beth's blog, PQ commented: "I think blogs do have expiration dates, we just don't know when they are." I appreciate that perspective. I was selfishly missing Beth, when clearly a blogger has to do what a blogger has to do. I'm new at this, and I've been known to refer to blogging as my secret weight-loss ingredient. But it may not work the same way for everyone.

I was fired up about working out yesterday, even knowing it would be a rower/treadmill session. [It was cold, windy and raining; I have my limits on outdoor exercise.] Once I got started, though, I could barely keep going. I ended up with a wimpy 15 minutes on the rowing machine and a measly mile on the treadmill. Some days are just like that, though. Your head is ready but the body won't follow through.

Today looks great and my head is still ready. It's supposed to be overcast and in the low 50s – perfect day for a walk outside, I say!

Film at eleven. Or, more likely, tomorrow morning.

Oh, and there's been some talk on television the past couple of days about a Big Game? Something about college football and championship ramifications and such? I don't think the championship game will be hyped as much as today's match-up between OSU and Michigan.

Go, Bucks! [I was born a Buckeye … what can I say?]

Friday, November 17, 2006

Friday Quote Day

Good actions give strength to ourselves and inspire good actions in others.
What a great quote, eh? That Plato was a smart guy. It brings to mind a commercial I've seen recently, where one small kindness leads to another and another and eventually someone even lets someone else in front of him in traffic. The ultimate sacrifice.

The thought came to me late last year that I needed to once and for all do something about my weight. I was unhappy and unhealthy and tired of being both. I've battled my weight since I was about 11 years old, with only two brief periods of success in more than 40 years.

God, that's depressing to write.

I started noodling around the internets for inspiration, searching for bloggers who also were working toward a healthier life and a normal weight. And I found you.

Your actions – writing about your struggles and successes – made you strong and sassy. And you inspired me to pick a plan, push myself, stay the course [oh, how I cringe at that phrase, but really, it's what we do, isn't it?] and Just Do It. Every freakin' day, we eat vegetables, pass up sweets, work up a sweat and decide that yes, it is worth all the effort. And then we do it again.

One of the first blogs I latched onto was Beth's. Man, I miss her. Her last post was July 26, in which she promised to be back mid-August. At that time she hadn't posted in almost a month, and people were getting worried about her. M@rla suggested we needed to create a missing blogger campaign, like the milk-carton missing children one.

Edited later: M@rla just commented that she didn't think she'd come up with the milk-carton suggestion. She's right, and my apologies to PQ, another of my blogging heroes. She mentioned distributing flyers for the missing in this post.

The fact that Beth is among the missing doesn't make her blog any less inspiring or powerful. I printed out her first post very early on, and still read it once in a while. She motivates and inspires me, even though she's no longer writing. I sometimes wonder if she's started a new blog and is waiting for all of us to find her again.

I'm so grateful for all of you who regularly share your triumphs and pain. You've kept me going the last couple of months while my heel has healed. Did you hear that? Healed! No more pain! I walked 1.5 miles outside yesterday and don't feel even a hint of a bruise. Not even first thing this morning, when it's always the worst.

Knowing that you have worked through injuries, strategized to deal with events, lived through vacations and holidays and celebrations, kept your sense of humor, didn't kill yourself and still lost weight proved to me that I could do it, too.

I'm not going to meet my first-of-the-year challenge to get to goal by the first of next year. But I'm 43 pounds lighter than I was last year, and I no longer feel unhappy or unhealthy. Well, hardly ever.

Thank you for that.

Okay, enough with the gratitude. It's not even Thanksgiving yet! If you, too, are looking for inspiration, I hope you've found a tiny dose here. I believe in paying it forward and passing it on.

Some of you were rather incredulous that one of the TBL contestants could have lost 20 pounds in one week. His progress chart is here. He'd had a small gain the previous week, and probably doubled his laxative dose.


Mr. Shrinking Knitter reminded me that the morbidly obese can and do lose massive amounts of weight from week to week, and also the contestants' full-time jobs at the ranch are to eat right and work out. I will admit right here and right now that I don't want to sweat that much.

The winner of the bracelet has been chosen and notified. Thanks to everyone for entering the contest. To all who entered, check your e-mail for a consolation prize.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Always leave 'em wanting more

I was most inspired by last night's The Biggest Loser. The makeovers were fun, all the contestants were amazed at how good they looked, the challenge was creative and even Adrienne's meltdown – after we'd been teased that Kai would be the meltdowner – was entertaining. Marty's post-elimination interview brought tears to my eyes. Seriously! And I'm post-menopausal, so it wasn't hormone-induced. And the videos of him at goal? What a stud!

It's rather a testament to that episode that I actually was awake for the whole 60 minutes. Or 48, if you cut out all the commercials.

The weigh-in, though, left me with One Big Quesion. Or maybe Two.

How, after all this time, when weight loss is supposed to slow down to a nice, steady, two pounds a week [for normal people, not you and me], can someone lose 11 pounds in one week? Or, like last week, 20?

Or, if you're Wiley and your morning workout burned 3500 calories, a big fat ZERO?

Okay, three questions.

Obviously I haven't been eating what they're eating.

Seriously, I've been eating just fine. I haven't been working out at my previous level of intensity, and I can just imagine the pounds I'll be dropping when I do get back to my former routine. Every time I test my heel, even for just a little bit, I have to rest it for a day or two.
You guys are rocking my blog stats. The secret to getting massive blog hits? Have a contest! Wonder what I can give away next week ...
The Roomba is awesome, by the way. I think you should definitely save up for one, PQ and J. [I ordered mine from amazon, at a great price and with free shipping, but now they're 'currently unavailable.'] There are no dust bunnies under my bed, after I turned it loose in the bedroom yesterday. NONE! I thought my dogs might find it amusing, but our old girl Molly just ignores it and the little one, Hershey, is afraid of it. Cats would probably ride around on it. Or demand earplugs, because the noise on the pseudo-wood floor would seriously disturb a good nap.
My attempt at recording Thin failed. There are no adolescents in the neighborhood to help me figure out how to make it work. My best logical thinking says the television has to be on the correct channel and the DVR has to be scheduled and on the correct input. But I'm right-brain dominant, so I could have it all wrong. Time for a manual. Or two.
One more day to enter the bracelet giveaway! Your notes have been so sweet; I wish I had time to make more.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Not to worry

Thanks to Vickie for mentioning the hungryforhunger blog. I spent a fair amount of time there yesterday, and have concluded beyond a shadow of a doubt that I'll never be afflicted with anorexia nervosa. My brain hasn't, doesn't and, it's safe to say, won't work the way the writer's wife does. Like M@rla, my heart aches for them.

I watched commercial-sized chunks of Thin last night, but was more interested in and entertained by House and Nip/Tuck. Thin, being a documentary, wasn't designed to entertain, though. At any rate, I can't comment on it because I didn't really watch it. I set the DVR to record a later airing. This is the first time I've tried to schedule a recording session, and I don't have a teen-ager in the house, so I'll be surprised if it worked. Read the manual? Who, me?

Yesterday was a great day as far as food goes. I stayed within my calorie range and I wasn't hungry at all, thanks to choosing fruit for a snack instead of crackers or an English muffin, which is what I really wanted. And while I usually don't have to be hungry in order to eat something I want, after I ate an apple I just didn't feel like eating any more of anything.


Y'all know how often I have to clean my floor, right? Well, I recently ordered a Roomba, which was delivered Monday. While I cleaned the master bathroom yesterday, I turned it loose. It performed exactly as promised on my acre of fake-wood flooring. I haven't tried it on any carpeted surfaces yet, so the jury's still out, but the literature says it works great on pet hair. I have quite a stockpile of pet hair here, and I don't mind sacrificing any of it to my geeky domestic aide.

Unfortunately, it doesn't mop, and the only way to eliminate dog footprints is by mopping. I actually broke the mop yesterday – snapped the end of it right off the handle. Does vigorous mopping count as exercise?

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Up for grabs

I used to do this when I sewed, and I frequently do it when I knit. Make things too big, that is. My perception of myself is of a much larger person than I really am.

And I've done it again, with the bead-knitted bracelet. I've already snipped the threads, and the only way to fix it would be to take it all apart and start over. I'm not really interested in doing that, so I'm putting it up for grabs.

My wrist measures 6.75". If your wrist is 7.75" it will fit you perfectly, and I'm happy to pass it along.

Send an e-mail with 'bracelet' as the subject to shrinkingknitter AT citynet DOT net. Don't send your address. I'll collect e-mails until Friday morning, and will have my husband choose one name randomly. I'll then e-mail that person to ask for a mailing address. And it matters not to me where in the world you live. This is a global giveaway. Heh.

No strings attached! Unless you count the ones holding the bracelet together.

It had to happen

The other side of compulsive overeating disorder is anorexia nervosa. HBO explores 'ana' in Thin, a documentary premiering tonight at 9 – directly opposite House and Nip/Tuck. According to the schedule, it'll be running at various times for the next month or so, so if I don't watch it tonight, I can catch it later.

[I missed House last week, but understand Chase was true to his snotty self in his reluctance to help a morbidly obese patient, while Cameron, as she always does, came through with compassion and insight. Is that about right? I'll have to be sure to watch the rerun.]

Why, you may be asking yourself, would a fat person want to watch a show about the lives of four women dying to be thin?
I'm almost ashamed to admit I've wished for anorexia now and then, over the years of trying to achieve a normal weight and then stay there, and I'm fascinated by the condition. Maybe part of me thinks that if I could just catch a teensy little bit of it – the part where a lettuce leaf is a satisfying snack – maybe then I could lick my own problem.

Heh … get it? Lick? Like an ice cream cone, maybe? Oh, I'm so sick I scare myself.

Yesterday was so-so. I tacked five minutes onto my treadmill time, for a total of 22 minutes, and lifted weights, but just couldn't force myself to get on the rowing machine. Food was within my calorie range, but I neglected to eat any fruit at all, and the only vegetables I had were in a bowl of soup for lunch. But since I didn't completely blow it, I think I can safely say it's four days on track.

Now to the reason for the title of this post: My new interest in beading and my old passion for knitting collided yesterday, and I started making a spiral knit beaded bracelet. I'm using two colors of small square wooden beads, some sturdy ivory-colored buttonhole thread and size 0000 knitting needles.

The technique is pretty simple. String the beads on a long piece of thread, alternating two of each color. Pay attention while you're stringing. You don't want to have to take them all off the other end of the thread when you're halfway finished because you only put one light-colored bead in there instead of two. Trust me.

Once you've strung all the beads, cast on three stitches. Turn and knit one row. For the next and all remaining rows:

With thread in back, slip the first stitch as if to purl.

Push a bead up next to the needle and knit. Then do that again.

It won't look like much until you've done a few rows, but then you'll start to see the pattern develop.

I'm going to put a clasp on each end, but I'm already wondering if it's possible to knit with stretchy cord. Hmmm. Or how about some of that furry yarn and some fun pony beads, with bigger needles? Or gold lamé and gold 8-0 seed beads, which I just happen to have lying around? The possibilities, they are endless!

Then again, who needs that many bracelets?

The other thing that had to happen, after more than nine years of living here in the Middle of Nowhere, is that I hit a deer while driving to the prison last night. When I was active in a flying club, the old saying about ground loops was you either have done one or you will. Same with hitting a deer when you regularly travel our back country roads.

That old 'deer-in-the-headlights' adage is soooo true. There were two deer standing in the middle of my lane, waiting for my car to slam into them. Fortunately I saw them in time to apply the brakes, and I probably only bruised the one on the right. I cracked the cover of my headlight, and there are pieces of deer fur – ewwww! – stuck in the seam between the headlight and the right quarter panel, but no other damage. The airbag didn't even deploy. Looking back on it, it's like it almost didn't even happen. But I was kind of shook up last night.

I'm taking a rest-from-exercise day today, but will be cleaning my house. The water's still not fixed, but the repairmen are coming back tomorrow or Thursday to continue the job. They left a grave-sized hole open in the front yard; if I get really depressed after watching Thin tonight, and I don't post tomorrow morning, you'll know where to find me.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Three in a row

Thanks so much for your comments and good wishes yesterday. Sobriety truly is a one-day-at-a-time process, with daily – even hourly! – rewards, if we keep our minds and hearts open enough to look for them. I've been such a whiner lately about my heel, but have been slowly bringing myself around to a more positive point of view about it.

Yesterday also marked three consecutive good days of the food-and-exercise game. I'm going to continue not weighing myself for a while [Mondays used to be my weigh-in day], and just keep doing the next right thing. I want my focus to be on feeling good because of what I'm doing and how I'm treating myself, rather than on what the scale says.

In addition to rowing, I walked on the treadmill yesterday, and my heel feels fine this morning. I was careful not to pound it by running, but simply walked a nice, steady, 3.5 mph pace for a mile – about 17 minutes. Maybe the cushioned footpath helped, or maybe my patience is paying off. I think I'll add a couple of minutes each day this week until I'm up to 30 on the treadmill, and then start increasing the speed, evaluating my progress every day, of course. And I'll keep on stretching. Those exercises [link in post], especially done post-workout and first thing in the morning, really help.

On to some knitting progress. I've finished the back, front and neckband of the pullover I'm giving my grandson for Christmas. Only the sleeves remain. I don't do intarsia very often, but I'm very pleased with the way the Batman logo looks on the front. [The link will take you to the chart I used.] I'll be sure to post a photo after I block it.

I used The Knitter's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns by
Ann Budd for my template, a most useful book for beginners and experienced knitters alike. I really like the way the patterns are presented, in a chart form with the size at the top of the chart and the gauge on the left side. One of the few published patterns I wrote, for a simple stranded cap, was done in this manner. E-mail me at shrinkingknitter AT citynet DOT net [you do know how to translate that, don't you?] if you'd like a copy; it's a .pdf file, so be sure you have a program that will open it.

On deck is an Aran cardigan for my granddaughter.

And finally, some stitch markers worth their weight in bling. [Scroll down just a bit from the top of the post.]

I have my favorite brand of marker [the pink and blue Clover stiff plastic rings, which are, for some reason, now hard to find]. I've tried using markers with cute little dangly things on them and find they get in my way. These just might pass muster. And with my newly learned beading skills, I can make them myself! To my daughter: What do you want yours to say?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Sweet 16

"I'm almost shocked that I'm still around after all of these years … and always grateful that I get another turn to do something."
Billy Crystal

It's been 16 years since I've felt it necessary to take a drink, and for that I am truly grateful.
Technically, it's been a little more than 16 years, but when I first started going to AA meetings I couldn't remember the actual date of my last drink. It was suggested that I just pick a date that was meaningful to me. More important than an accurate date was my decision to stop drinking.

I came to AA through the back door, as they say. My introduction to the 12 steps was in Overeaters Anonymous [I bet you're not surprised, are you?], where I became friends with a woman who was active in Al-Anon. So I started going to Al-Anon as well, where it didn't take long to realize that those people were talking about me.

November 12 is meaningful because that was the day, in 1990, that I stopped eating sugar. I figured I probably shouldn't drink it, either. Why I thought it was a Good Idea to start eating it again, I'll never know.

But I'm so grateful I have continued to not drink it. As are all the people who knew me then.

Many alcoholics switch their dependence from booze to food. Since the desire to drink often stems from emotional 'issues,' turning from liquor to food shouldn't be a big surprise. When I was drinking I was smaller than I was in high school because I rarely ate a proper meal. When I did eat, I didn't count the calories. But I really didn't eat much.

Which sometimes leads me to wonder, if I started drinking again, would I solve my weight problem?

Sorry, folks. I'm not about to try that experiment.

I had stopped drinking alcoholically eight years before I went to my first AA meeting – a long, long, dry drunk, punctuated every couple of years with the desire to quench my insatiable thirst. I had no idea that there was a way to live well without alcohol, didn't know anyone who went to AA, thought alcoholics lived under bridges and drank cheap wine. Realizing that I was an alcoholic, even though I had a job and a home and functioned in society, and further realizing that there was a way to live comfortably, sanely, was such a relief. All I ever wanted, really, was to feel comfortable.

All it took was going to meetings, opening my ears, shutting my mouth, learning from those who'd already done it, being willing to accept that my life would, eventually, get better. And it did.

I never expected my life would get this good, this satisfying, this fulfilling, this comfortable, when I stopped drinking. I just wanted to stop hurting. I wanted to figure out what was wrong, and make it right.
I was willing to do whatever it took.

And like Mr. Crystal, but for vastly different reasons, I, too, can't believe that I'm still around after all these years. And I'm grateful – so grateful – that every morning I get a new and fresh opportunity to live sober.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

One day down

Well, no one challenged my theory yesterday, so I must be right. Heh. I thank you for your comments, as always, and am glad I made some sense.

I asked Mr. Shrinking Knitter [who is a shrink] if any of the antidepressants worked in a way that released endorphins. Unfortunately, they don't. The only two endorphin-releasing drugs he could think of were alcohol and marijuana. Definitely not on my menu!

Fortunately the discussion ended before he could point out that I might be looking for an easier, softer way. [You 12-steppers will recognize that line!] I was very aware of it, but didn't want to say it out loud.

Instead, I'll write it down, to remind myself that even though I know what needs to be done, I'm always going to be trying to figure out a different way, one that requires less effort, one that doesn't teach me a thing.

I must always remember to be teachable.

In the year or so before I started following eDiets' Glycemic Index plan, I visited three endocrinologists and my family doctor, looking for a magic bullet. The endos were no help. If your blood-sugar levels are normal, they're not going to give you thyroid medication. I had other thyroid symptoms – dry skin, feeling cold all the time, fatigue, etc. – but lab values rule.

My family doctor – the dear Dr. C, of whom I've written before – was more willing to help me experiment. We tried Armour Thyroid for a while, and another synthetic drug, too. I was finally convinced that this was not the answer when I started experiencing heart palpitations.

He then prescribed Topamax, known among drug salesmen as the 'doctors' wives drug.' One of the side effects of Topamax – for some patients – is weight loss, so lots of samples apparently were making their way home in black bags. It didn't have that effect on me, and my insurance wouldn't pay for it, since my diagnosis code didn't match theirs.

I've also tried Xenical, but couldn't remember to take it and don't remember it being terribly effective. Also expensive, even when my prescription plan paid for half the cost.

My biggest concern with taking drugs for weight loss, though, is that I think I would have to take them forever. I'm not willing to do that. If I had a disease for which I needed daily medication, I would certainly take it. While I realize that obesity is a disease nowadays, I think it falls into a different category for management.

I was diagnosed as hypoglycemic at one time, and the 'prescription' was to eliminate sugar and white flour from my diet. I did it willingly, lost 30 pounds in very little time, my energy levels went up-up-up and my hypoglycemic symptoms went away. After five years, I got complacent, started risking a bit of sugar here and there and thought I was different.

And the truth is, I am different, as we all are. We have to find our own path, surely, and then we have to follow it. What has worked for me in the past will certainly work again. I just have to get back on the path.

Yesterday was a great day. Still not a lot of get-up-and-go, but I managed 30 vigourous minutes on the rowing machine and two sets of 10, 12, 15 or 20 reps of various free weight moves. My arms are so sore this morning I can barely lift a knitting needle. Food was wonderful yesterday, as well.

One day down. No end in sight. I just want to keep stringing good days together until I can't count them anymore.

Friday, November 10, 2006

A prison story, sort of

As many of you know, I volunteer at a women's federal prison, teaching a drawing class and helping facilitate an AA meeting. In the drawing class, the inmates definitely learn from me, with a lot of help from Betty Edwards' excellent book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. At the AA meeting, however, more often than not they teach me.

Inmates who violate the conditions of their parole are subject to immediate return to prison to serve the remainder of their sentences. Most returnees come directly from halfway houses; a violation can be anything from not filling out a form or being late for dinner all the way up to and including using drugs and alcohol.

Halfway houses are not usually in very nice neighborhoods; they're in the 'hood, where there's a liquor store across the street and a drug dealer on the corner. Temptation is ever-present, and it's my opinion that parolees are basically set up to fail.

Fortunately, most of them don't. The ones who do, and the few of those who come back to the AA meeting to share their experience, are powerful examples, role models and teachers.

I can hear you asking yourselves, 'What the hell does this have to do with losing weight?'

Patience, grasshopper.

Returnees invariably say the same things about how they ended up violating. I'm not advocating looking at the whole weight-loss process as a 'sentence' or even as 'parole,' but bear with me here. If you've never thought about your diet as some kind of punishment, I want you to start a blog. And I want your secret.

Anyway, here is some of what I hear from parole violators.

They got complacent
After a few weeks of good behavior on the outside, they start thinking they're okay again. They can handle it. Those drug education classes they attended when they were locked up? No longer useful. Support meetings? Thanks, but no thanks.

They started taking risks
Good behavior at a halfway house doesn't earn you anything more than the right to go to your minimum-wage job, do your halfway house chores and attend a support group meeting. [Some halfway houses offer more programs than others, so I'm generalizing.] When you're in prison, good behavior earns privileges; on the outside, you get to be just like everyone else who follows the rules. So they start rewarding themselves with risky behavior, usually just reacquanting themselves with their old friends, which frequently leads to criminal activity.

They thought they were different
So what if that old boyfriend still uses crack? That doesn't mean they will, does it? Sadly, it often does.

My weight-loss program works best when I pay attention to the details and follow the rules. I need support just as surely as I don't need sugar. But the compliments and attaboys after losing 43 pounds have led to my warped thinking that I'm fixed, somehow. My body, for whatever reason, doesn't use food very efficiently, and the less I weigh the harder it gets. I've learned this from you, from countless websites offering weight-loss information, from my doctor and from my own experience. If I ignore this little bit of wisdom, and risk a cookie here or a Tootsie Roll there, I'm going to fail.

And while I don't like admitting failure any more than an inmate likes taking that bus ride back to prison, I must admit it, learn from it and then do the next right thing.

I have one excuse that I think is legitimate, and if you want to challenge me on it, please do. I'd love to have it knocked down. I need to be knocked down.

As long as my major intentional activity included walking and running outside, I was eating nearly perfectly, following my plan and feeling great. Endorphins work, people! Since my heel injury, the little bit of exercise I do now [about a third as much on the days I do it] just doesn't provide me with that same feeling.

Therefore, I feel sluggish and incompetent and crappy a lot of the time. And when I feel like that, I find it very easy to take my pleasures wherever I can, and it's very easy to use food to make myself feel better. When I think of myself as an athlete, as silly as that sounds, that's the reward.

I've been trying to think like an injured athlete, but thinking isn't doing, and the little stretching exercises I'm doing for my foot and heel aren't helping condition the rest of my body for my eventual return to the road.

I love blogging. I just gave myself an answer, a plan, a goal. I need to be an injured athlete. They don't sit around the locker room moaning about not getting to play. They're in the training room, strengthening the uninjured parts.

That's where I should be, too.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Odd and end

For a news junkie at the end of the political season, it was odd to wake up at 4:40 a.m. yesterday to the sound of no sound. My bedroom, usually humming with the white noise of a fan pointed toward the wall, was eerily quiet. And also eerily dark. The clock on the dresser was black, not red; ditto the green and red power buttons on the satellite receiver, television and DVD player.

That means just one thing here in the Middle of Nowhere: A squirrel has chewed through a power line. Only this time it was a tree that fell over onto a power line, taking out a pole on its way to the ground. Oh, and this particular tree-and-pole combination? On the other side of the river – the side that has no easy access for large trucks full of equipment and repairmen.

How – and more importantly why – did they ever put a power pole there in the first place?

At any rate, I was without electricity all day yesterday. The lights flickered once about 8 a.m., offering a brief, teasing moment of hope, but didn't come back on again until 5:30 or so in the afternoon.

Did you miss me?

I decided I'd probably go crazy crazier sitting around the shanty all day with no access to the news and only the dogs and my knitting to keep me company. [And, since I'm sober, no desire to or possibility of putting a good buzz on. Doncha just love Johnathan Edwards?] When one has no power at Chez Shrinking Knitter, one also has no heat. Also,
I don't work out when there's no electricity, because we need electricity to power the water pump. No water equals no shower. So I got dressed and went to the farthest-away, all-day shopping district, feeling that the best thing I could do for my country the day after an historic election would be to boost the economy.

Also, I got to listen to the news on the car radio traveling to and fro.

I bought more jewelry-making supplies. I'm going to have the most expensive collection of costume jewelry in all of West Virginia if I ever turn all these beads and baubles into necklaces and bracelets. While I was out, I was right across the street from a Target, where I intended to pick up a gift but forgot to. Meaning I'll have to go back.


I promised my daughter pre- and post-felting photos of the Lucy Bag. Here you go, H:

I should have fiddled around with the image sizes so you could really see the size difference, but that's what the yardstick is for. The pre-felted piece is about 42 inches long – maybe longer. The finished bag is less than 18 inches long. If you're looking for a yarn that felts like a dream, look no further than Patons SWS, which stands for Soy Wool Stripes, available at a Michael's near you. I had hoped that this bag would be bigger – something I could throw everything into and then sling it over my shoulder. My wallet won't even fit into it, so it's destined to be a sock-project bag, I think.

Let's see now, what am I forgetting? Oh, yes. This is a weight-loss blog, and the astute among you [that would be all 17 of you] have surely noticed that I haven't talked about weight loss much lately. Like many in the weight-loss blogging world, I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place. I have lots of thoughts about it, but no time to write more this morning. I hope to do something about that later today, hopefully after the well gets fixed. That's right, boys and girls, the well repairman will be here this morning!

It would truly be Almost Heaven to have good water and electricity and a Democratic congress all on the same day.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Toga … toga … toga

Oops. That should be 'yoga, yoga, yoga!'

You can call me lazy right now, if you like. Yesterday when I went to the second-floor office of our detached garage and saw that the only exercise DVDs up there were ones I'd already done, I decided it was a cosmic message to do an hour of yoga. So I'll have to post a review of a new-to-me routine later this week. Today is rowing, and thanks to the anonymous commenter yesterday who opined that rowing might actually be considered a cardio workout. I know that after 30 minutes at a vigorous pace I feel like I've really worked out!

I have two yoga DVDs; the one I like best is called "Yoga Conditioning for Weight Loss." I'll admit to buying it for the title, and will further posit that it doesn't, for me, do a whole lot for weight loss. But I like that I can choose which level [of four] I'd like to do and that it covers a lot of ground. And at my weight, it's truly a weight-bearing exercise.

In case you readers in the United States haven't noticed, it's Election Day. By the end of the day we'll be back to watching
pharmaceutical commercials, instead of negative political ads. [I'm firmly against direct-to-consumer prescription drug advertising, and would gladly vote for anyone who promised to stop that practice!] Since no one in my district has taken a position on that issue, I'll just have to take my chances and hope for the best.

Mr. Shrinking Knitter and I have been quite politically active this year, something new for both of us. We've met with candidates and
political advisers, gone to a political rally and put our [well, his] money where our mouths are. We're supporting someone out of our district – we can't even vote for him. But we like his message and his heart, and we have a lot of hope that those who are able to vote for him will do just that.

Unfortunately, those with a good message and a good heart to match usually end up in education or social work.

At any rate, you know the old saying: If you don't vote, don't bitch.

Yesterday afternoon I dug through my craft stuff and put all the bead and jewelry supplies in one box. I then sat down and made two necklaces and a bracelet. This scan of my new bling also includes the sweet little bracelet my granddaughter made for me, and my first project, which she helped me make. I realize these aren't innovative or unusual in any way, shape or form, but they've already served one purpose: I didn't eat a thing while I was busy making them!

The process is interesting, putzy and time-consuming, moreso than I would have thought.

Much knitting has been going on here in the Middle of Nowhere. I'll try to have at least one project photo tomorrow, and I'm lining up projects to be done for the holidays. A neighbor has asked if I'd be willing to do a sweater for her granddaughter, with a matching one for her Bitty Baby. I'll probably do a Wonderful Wallaby [do a Google search if you're not familiar with it].

I'm also doing a sweater for each of the grandchildren, and will probably make something for my daughter, her husband, my son and his wife and my mother-in-law.

Kidding! I soooo crack myself up.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Because I really am like a dog with a bone

I kept trying and trying to publish the mini-movie – really mini, only four seconds long – and finally [obviously] managed it. But only if there was no other text in the post. I couldn't even go back and title it. Sheesh!

At any rate, it's there, no clicking necessary, and I crack myself up every time I view it. Thanks to my daughter and her fast-fast-fast camera for capturing all the action.

What I did on my Halloween vacation

Now that my little getaway is over, I'm slowly getting back to a normal routine. I'm still waking up before the crack of dawn – I have more trouble adjusting to the fall time change than I do the spring one. But I really miss the busy-ness and activity associated with a couple of elementary school-aged children.

I uploaded photos my daughter took while I was at her house. It wasn't all fun and games. There was some serious pumpkin killing going on a couple days before Halloween, which you can see here.

I'm not the sweet little old lady you all thought I was, now, am I? Heh.

[I tried and tried and tried to embed the video into the blog post, with no success. I could see it just fine on my computer, but kept getting a publishing error. I hope you clicked on the link, but don't blame you if you didn't!]

My son-in-law finished the NYC Marathon in a little more than four hours with a serious cramp in one leg for the last half of the run. I'm so proud of him! I think that's his third marathon, and the last one was less than a month ago. He's a machine! And a great inspiration. My heel still feels bruised when I press on it, so I'm not ready yet, but I think the treadmill and I will be getting back together again in another couple of weeks.

I rowed while I watched the first part of the broadcast, working up a good sweat. I doubt that rowing qualifies as a serious cardiovascular workout, but it will have to do for now.

Food has been good; no issues there. Mr. Shrinking Knitter is more than happy to eat healthful meals, as long as I make three servings for him and one for me. This goes for everything: oatmeal, pasta, chili, dessert. Especially dessert.

Today will be another DVD workout day, but I haven't decided which one yet. I should take an inventory; I bought quite a few last winter after I got bored doing the same two or three over and over again. Figuring out what I have should kill some time and provide some inspiration. I should be at least minorly curious about the benefits of some of these workouts, shouldn't I?

Film at eleven.


Sunday, November 05, 2006

A New York kind of weekend

Thanks to the magic of satellite television, we here in the Middle of Nowhere will be able to watch the New York City Marathon this morning. Yes, that's what happens when NBC4 happens to be your local NBC affiliate.

Big whoop, you might be saying. Well, while we have no illusions of actually seeing Mr. Shrinking Knitter's son in the throng of runners swooping through the five boroughs, we told him we'd look for him. Did you hear that? My son-in-law is running the New York City Marathon!

Jealous? Me? Not a bit. I stopped running, remember? Now I'm a not-so-tiny dancer.

Yesterday, I did an hour-long workout – the exercise part – with four New York City Ballet dancers. There were no hard combinations or unfamiliar moves and, for the most part, each routine was first demonstrated, then done slowly, then done more quickly. The DVD also offers a short cardio workout, which I didn't do because it involves real dancing, while I'm still trying to remember what a tendu is.

Each of the five ballet positions involves the feet and the arms, and that's where I fall short in performance. At one point the ballet master suggests that if we aren't able to add the arm movements, just concentrate on the legs. What a nice guy. I found my arm, back and shoulder muscles really complaining later in the day; the same thing happened when I took the class at my daughter's last week. Something worked … my butt and abs are barking at me, as well, and I found myself walking taller, straighter and with my feet pointed out like a duck all day.

I'm just kidding about the duck walk.

The great thing is that this kind of workout not only doesn't further injure my heel, it seems to be just the kind of stretching recommended to help it mend. And, thankfully, my head seems to be in the right place to accept that I won't be running marathons anytime soon.

Saturday, November 04, 2006


Strat • e • gy:
A plan, method, or series of maneuvers or stratagems for obtaining a specific goal or result.

Synonyms: action, angle, approach, design, game plan, method, plan, procedure, system
I forgot to do a quote yesterday, and while the definition of the word 'strategy' doesn't really qualify as a quote, it does offer something about which to think.

Doncha just love it when someone writes in a grammatically correct fashion? Soooo awkward to read!

At any rate, the holiday countdown has begun. All you had to do to know that was to go looking for black wash-out hair coloring on Halloween and find aisle after aisle of glittery, sparkly, red-green-and-gold Christmas crap.

I'm glad I don't work in a Real Job in a Real Office for a Real Company. Jonathan reports that his office recently staged a 'welcome to the holidays' party, which he chose not to attend. Applause, applause! Avoidance can certainly be part of an effective strategy for maintaining a weight loss, which is Jonathan's goal for the holidays.

I went to the grocery yesterday, and picked up a magazine full of handmade gift ideas. I didn't really look through it at the store, but was kind of disappointed when I got home and leafed through it to find page after page of food gifts. Yes, food can be a gift, and I've certainly done my share of cookie-baking in my checkered past, but I'd hoped for something different. Other ideas are presented, though, and while I might not use any of them, part of my personal strategy is to stay busy with non-food activities for the next couple of months.

I mentioned dancing yesterday; I'll continue to row and lift weights. But the fact that I don't have a Real Job leaves me with plenty of time on my hands, and I need to keep those hands busy and productive. Knitting? Check. Scrapbooking? Check. Handmade cards? Check. All the supplies for those projects are, ahem, at my fingertips. While I was at my daughter's my granddaughter taught me the basics of making beaded jewelry. A trip to the craft store and a credit card swipe later and I can add jewelry-making to my list of crafty hobbies.

I haven't worn jewelry much, mostly because I don't care to call attention to myself. But lately I've pulled out a few pieces and have discovered that I really like wearing bracelets. So that's where I'll start. To all my friends and family, I promise no beaded jewelry gifts!

Also, and apropos of nothing I've written about today, my son tells me he's lost 17 pounds since Labor Day. Good for him! And he wanted me to tell you what his best snack strategy is. Each evening he eats a bag of frozen peaches. It … ahem … weighs in at 150 calories and takes 40 minutes to eat, according to his research, and he finds it a most satisfying way to end each day.

Sounds like a good strategy to me.