Monday, December 31, 2007

You know what they say about good intentions …

My resolve to eat healthfully and run while I was gone over the weekend evaporated inexplicably and rapidly the farther I got from West Virginia. I refuse to try to analyze it.

It is what it is. Or was what it was, I guess.

I had a wonderful and relaxing time while I was gone. The sum of my physical activity consisted of holding and carrying a 16-pound baby at every opportunity.

Well, okay, a little analysis. Even though I ate fast food [twice!], a burger-and-fries lunch at Montana Grill and Chinese Saturday night, my weight is the same this morning as it was Friday morning before I left. Surprise!

On the way out of town I stopped to buy Yet Another Pair of Running Shoes. I've run so little over the past two weeks that the callus that usually burns a hole in the ball of my right foot is nearly gone. I still get a little pin prick of pain with the two pairs of New Balance shoes I've bought this year, though, so I'm trying a pair of Brooks. I can return them within 90 days if they're not obviously worn, meaning the tryout will be on the treadmill.

My gift from my son was a DVD he produced of the video and stills he took at the City of Oaks race in November. I've never seen video of myself running.

I totally suck.

I'm more of a shuffler than a runner, so I definitely have some work to do improving my form. I wish the video evidence matched the mental picture I have of myself when I'm out there on the road. In my mind I look like the people in the Nike commercials – you know, the ones whose feet barely touch the ground. I guess it's better to have a positive image than a negative one, though.

The knitted ball dodecahedron was a big hit with both the baby and her parents, as were the tiny felted clogs. I started a hooded pullover for myself before I left and got quite a bit done on it when the baby was sleeping. Otherwise, my hands and arms were otherwise – and happily – occupied.

Hope your New Year's Eve is a happy one.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Friday Quote on Thursday

"Our chief want in life
is somebody who will make us
do what we

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Now that's something to think about, isn't it?

If you've ever envied athletes or entertainers [Oprah, anyone?] or Biggest Loser contestants who have cooks and coaches and trainers, oh my, then today's quote will certainly resonate with you.

Read it carefully. Ralph is saying we can do it without a kick in the patootie from someone else. Just because Ralph says it, however, doesn't make it so.

Wanting someone to make us do what we're already capable of doing on our own isn't a sign of weakness, in my opinion. Sitting on those patooties wishing for it, or using the lack of an outside influence as an excuse to stay put instead of moving forward is, though, and I don't think that's where any of us wants to be.

Well, I'll speak for myself. I'm not interested in wishing the rest of my life away – wishing I were thinner, faster, healthier, fitter, taller, funnier, smarter or richer. Wishing isn't doing. The only one of those wishes I truly can't do anything about is getting taller. The rest, though, I could accomplish with some time and effort.

We can all help each other, actively or passively, by sticking with a program, being each others' cheerleaders and setting a good example. You have your own personal heroes out there in blogland, as do I, but simply reading about their successes won't accomplish mine. Or yours.

Mr. Shrinking Knitter and I have never been New Year's Eve party animals. For me, the day after Christmas is the day I make a fresh start. I walked for an hour yesterday morning, ate reasonably and only when I was hungry, and slept well. We spent the day together shopping and seeing another movie [Charlie Wilson's War], and enjoyed each other's company.

This afternoon we're going to a luncheon celebrating a friend's 80th birthday and then I'm packing for a short trip to North Carolina. I've checked the weather – lots o' rain predicted, but that won't stop me from walking or running while I'm there. In fact, I expect just about every Tarheel in the state will be celebrating the rain and hoping for more!

I'll be back Monday. Have a great weekend. I leave you with another thought-provoking quote from Ralph:

"Make the most of yourself,
for that is all there is of you."

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

It ain't over 'til it's over

I'm ready for Christmas to be over on Christmas night, but this year the season is extended until the weekend, when I'll be visiting my son and his family. I made and sent their stockings early, to be hung by their chimney with care. However my new granddaughter has a few little packages here and there that she'll want to eat the paper off of.

And since I've had these extra days before the trip, I had to make Just. One. More. Thing. That's the way we knitters are. Give us a couple more hours and we'll whip out a hat. Or something.

I whipped out a dodecahedron:

And I think it's great! Since this was the first one, I wasn't sure how large it would be. It's pretty big for a baby, but so fun and easy to do that I'll certainly be making more in the future.

Mr. Shrinking Knitter and I enjoyed our day. His mother took us out to dinner – no leftovers! Yeah! – and we exchanged our gifts. She loves gadgets, so we gave her a Roomba. We love kicking back, so she gave him jeans [it's all he asked for] and she found a great hooded sweatshirt for me – roomy and long. Do you know how hard it is to find really long sweatshirts?

She'd given me one without a hood years ago – the one I wore in my first progress photo for the blog. Since that shirt's seen better days, this one is a great replacement. [I've saved that first one, though, to wear one more time when I reach my goal weight.]

And now that losing quest begins again and anew. Meals at my son's will be healthful and there won't be a lot of snacky stuff around, since they were out of town for the holiday. They have a great neighborhood for walking and/or running, and they live in North Carolina, where the weather usually is temperate even in late December.

When I wrote that first post in 2006, I'd hoped to have reached my goal by 2007. What happened instead is that I lost a good bit, gained a little bit back and have maintained for most of 2007. Lately I've been gearing up for more losses. Sugar is out, as are crappy carbs. I've signed up for another half-marathon, and may end up making it a full. That means regular training runs plus strength training.

Oprah made a motivational video several years ago in which one woman said, "Exercise is a daily thing." She compared it to showering and brushing her teeth – it's not something to think about or decide to do. It's just something she did, every day.

It's a good attitude to adopt. I'm not at goal almost two years after I started blogging, so it's an attitude I must adopt.

Who's with me?

Monday, December 24, 2007

Wishing you a …

I hope you all stay safe, warm and happy this Christmas.
I'm grateful for all of you,
and feel like this little community is a good place to be.

Thank you.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Knitting update

Some of you may remember that I made two too-big berets last year, and that they remained too big even after deliberate shrinking. I donated them to Goodwill, and went hatless last winter.

Not this season.
Isn't this cute?

I tried to take a self-portrait but couldn't get one that looked good. I ended up using a large can as a model, but the hat looks just as good on me. Well, almost.

The pattern is free, [you can get it here] and took less than two days to knit. Of course it was too big, but not so much that the shrinking process couldn't correct the fit. The only other modification I made was to tack the front part of the hat to the top of the brim.

Now I need to knit a sports car to go with it. Or a newspaper carrier bag. [There certainly should be a pattern out there for a newspaper bag, but I couldn't find one easily, so it shall remain linkless.]

As soon as I cast off the hat, I started a knitty pattern called Doddy. It's a soft ball; I'm going to bury a medicine bottle with a couple jingle bells in the middle of it before I stuff it. Because with three days left before Christmas, there's still plenty of time to make another gift! Heh. The ball is made of 12 pentagons, all linked together to become a dodecahedron. Or a ball.
The designer used two colors throughout, but I'm using six colors and making each pentagon solid colored, two of each color. Five down, seven to go.

Today's the day that Mr. Shrinking Knitter and I are going to see the new film about Bob Dylan called I'm Not There. I had to be out battling Christmas shoppers yesterday afternoon, and I'm not too excited about getting on the road this weekend, but the movie is only going to be at the Grandin until Christmas Eve. If we want to go, today's the day.

I wonder if I should call this blog the Too-Big Knitter. Because that's how everything I knit seems to turn out. And, of course, it would also describe the general state of my body. Thanks for your comments and compliments recently on the too-big sweater. I'd probably wear pink whether it looked good or not, so I'm glad
you think pink is a good color for me.

To combat the too-big-body issue I used the treadmill yesterday for 50 minutes. I'm not yet able to run on the treadmill without gasping for breath after half a lap. The difference between indoor and outdoor running – just speaking for myself here – is huge. I'm about ready to abandon the 20-week marathon training plan and start fresh in January with the 16-week one. There's so much going on this week and next that I can't really say I've been sticking with any kind of plan, be it running or food. And, of course, there's still this useless appendage I call my left arm.

Back on Monday ...

Friday, December 21, 2007

Friday Quote Day

"The truth is you can acquire
any quality you want

by acting as though you already have it."

~ Joseph Murphy

Act as if. If you've ever spent any time in a 12-step recovery group, you've heard those words before. Perhaps you've even done it.

It's much harder for me to apply this concept to my physical self – acting as if I'm slim, for instance – than it is for me to apply it to my emotional self.

And that's a good thing, really. I've practiced being emotionally present for years and I finally feel – most of the time – as though I live in the now, not wishing things could have gone differently or hoping things will be better. Accepting what is, embracing it and enjoying it is a much saner way to live than having one foot in yesterday and the other in tomorrow.

The one area that still is difficult is, of course, my weight. I'm healthy and fit. I just don't look like I used to 10 years ago, or like I want to, in some magical, far-off day when I've dropped the weight I've been holding on to for such a very long, exhausting time now.

It's been almost two years since I started this blog, and I started it to reclaim the fit, healthy body I once had. It says so right up there in the header. Maybe I should restate the purpose. I am fit and I am healthy, according to all the blood tests and lab results. I just don't look it. But it sounds too vain to say I want to reclaim my size-8 body.

That's what I want, though. And so I will carry myself as if I don't take up quite as much space as I do. I'll move as if certain body parts don't get in my way. I'll think thin, or at least thinner, and see where that takes me.

On another note, yesterday marked the end of an era for Mr. Shrinking Knitter's family. Until Thursday noon, for the past 118 years, someone in his family has practiced medicine. He began his career more than 38 years ago. He's a psychiatrist, and both his first and last patients were depressed, middle-aged women. He found that rather ironic.

I find it rather ironic that he lives with one. But that's a whole 'nother post.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Wanna date?

My decision to stop eating sugar last month [38 straight sugar-free days, but who's counting?] didn't eliminate my sweet tooth. I suppose humans are born with one, which sometimes makes me wish I were a cat. I've never seen a cat rummage around the pantry looking for lemon drops or chocolate kisses.


In my quest to find something sweet to eat that isn't also loaded with artificial sweeteners [which I think tend to reinforce the desire to eat sugar, but that's just my wacky opinion], I've found dried fruit.

I started with a simple package of apricots. I expanded my selection when I made the Mincemeat Log Rolls for Thanksgiving. [A link to the recipe is in this post.] Last week I bought a package of dates.

Oh. My. Goodness.

Do you have any idea how sweet dates are? Dates are extremely satisfying, have fewer than 20 calories each and are very portable. They're not particularly low-carb, though, if that's your thing. But the best part is, the list of ingredients on the package is one word: Dates.

The simpler the food I eat, the better I feel. I'm sure you can do some fun things to jazz dates up [I've heard that wrapping them in bacon and broiling them produces a tasty cocktail-party snack], but so far I'm pretty happy with just plain dates.

I wet-blocked the pink sweater; the wool relaxed to the point that the sleeves
were six inches too long and if I were Twiggy-shaped [which is to say, no shape at all] I could have worn it as a mini-dress. So I had to soak it again and then I – gasp! – put it in the dryer. I have a knits cycle and I watched it carefully but it was still too big. So I did it again. I finally have a sweater I can wear, but it's going to have to be an awfully cold day. I literally had to full it a bit to get it the right size. Next time I use good old Patons wool, I'll be sure to make the item a size or two smaller. I will confess right here and right now that I didn't block my swatch, so it's my own darned fault. But the resulting sweater is nice and I'll certainly wear it. Maybe even on Christmas Eve.

I'm not going to go on and on about how fat I look or what a bad photo it is. It's both of those, but there's nothing I can do about it this very minute. The nice thing about sweaters is that they really do look good when they're a little roomy. Next year I'll take a better photo – I'll be smaller, it'll be bigger and I will have figured out how to focus my camera.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

We have a winner!

I've entered everyone's name who entered the drawing into an online randomizer, which did its magic, and I've notified the person whose name landed at the top of the heap that she's the winner of my extra copy of Gary Taubes' Good Calories, Bad Calories. Thanks for participating, and I wish I could send the book to each of you.

When I let the dogs out this morning I was surprised and slightly irritated at the sound and sight of sleet accumulating on the porch and driveway. All the preparation I did for the impending ice storm last weekend did some good – Mr. Shrinking Knitter believes that if you worry about something enough, it won't happen. This stuff that's coming down this morning, though? I didn't hear a peep out of any forecaster that this was coming through.

In fact, according to my little weather widget, today is supposed to be partly cloudy, but the Weather Channel has us under a winter weather advisory. I'd semi-planned to get out of the house today; guess I'll stay in and knit clean.

My 40-minute run yesterday was supposed to be easy, but it felt hard to me and I was greatly disappointed in how slow and sluggish I felt. It crossed my mind while I was slogging along that maybe I wasn't meant to run. It was cold, so I wore long pants, a technical t-shirt and a fleece cover-up. I was sweating after the first half-mile and was quite literally dripping by the time I finished three. Yes, you read it right. I only did three miles in 40 minutes. I didn't feel like I was slacking; I just couldn't get going. Today is a cross training day, which is probably going to be limited to mopping, vaccuuming and dusting, since my shoulder still hurts.

Have I mentioned how much I'd like to be able to lift weights? Why yes, I think I have. Remind me of that the next time I start whining, okay?

Laura asked if I was planning to run the half or the full Country Music race. I've registered for the half, but am keeping my options open. These race directors don't mind at all if you pay them more money and change your mind about which distance you want to go. There's a time limit, of course, so I'll have to decide at some point.

Other than that, not much else is going on. My sweater should be dry today and I'll try to get a photo taken. Next in the queue is one of those cute little newsboy caps. I found this pattern that looks pretty quick to do and is the style I'm going for. There are cabled ones and lace ones and ribbed ones and felted ones, but I just want a simple one. I think I'll do it in red.

Then, of course, I'll need red mittens to match. One good thing about snow … it's great weather for knitting.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

One down, 19 to go

My first week of marathon training left much to be desired, but I'm consoling myself with the fact that there's still a lot of time before the race. I allowed a couple of things to get in my way of completing all my runs last week and, realistically, I think this month will probably end up being quite a bit less than perfect. It's good to have the plan, though, and much better to give a little effort than to just toss my sneakers in a corner until January.

I'm almost embarrassed to say this, but I really miss being able to play with the dumbbells and barbell and weight bench, oh my. How I resisted it for weeks and weeks! I still have pain in my shoulder, but it's far less than it was before Thanksgiving and certainly not worth commenting on. I'm hoping a couple more weeks of rest will be what it needs to truly and finally heal.

Today's your last chance to enter the drawing for Good Calories, Bad Calories; I'll announce the winner tomorrow morning. I misspoke [mistyped?] when I said I was still reading the prologue; Eisenhower's struggles are described in the first chapter, but I haven't had the time or energy to go any further.

I finished my pink sweater and it fits! I was so surprised; I always think something I knit will be too big or too small. I need to block it and then I'll get a photo up. The strong vertical lines of the cables are very flattering, as is the color, and I know I'll wear this sweater a lot. It'll look good with dress pants or jeans – don't you love it when you find something versatile and flattering at the same time?

Barbra asked in yesterday's comments if there was anything she – or you – could do for the inmates. I can't give any specific information, but I can and do urge you to write to your representatives and senators to let them know how you feel about Draconian drug laws and mandatory minimums. They work for you; they need to know how you feel. This country's war on drugs is a big failure and our tough-on-crime stance has done nothing to reduce prison populations or to effect the successful transition from prison to community.

Along the same lines, vote for people who believe that we need a change in the way we dispense justice. I've long felt and said that convicted felons serve their sentences the rest of their lives, whether they're incarcerated or not. They always have to check that box on employment applications, and they are looked down upon by most of society. The women at Alderson spend their first six months out of prison in halfway houses, which are located on the same block as the drug dealers. They're set up to fail, right out of the gate.

If you know someone coming out of prison, or even know of someone, give him or her a chance. They've been isolated from society for a long time, they frequently have a chip on their shoulder and their job and social skills aren't going to get them very far. They need to learn to accept what is and move forward to what can be, and we need to show them a little kindness and tolerance.

If you've never worked with or known a convicted felon, you might be surprised to learn that many of them – most, in fact – aren't much different from you or me. They made a poor decision, took a wrong turn, usually when they were young and they're often spending the better part of their young adult lives paying for it.

I'm not saying they don't deserve to be punished, and neither are they. They all accept that they could have made better and different choices, and they need to pay for those choices. Our mandatory minimum drug laws are far too harsh and are being applied far too liberally to small-time dealers and users who could probably learn their lesson after six months of prison and a long term on house arrest, where they would still be able to work, take care of their families and contribute to society.

Sorry about that … I'll get off the soapbox now.

Monday, December 17, 2007

An early obligation

It's rare that I ever have to be up and out of the house by 7:45 a.m. Don't hate me because I don't have a job. Heh. Today, though, was an exception, and a fun one it was.

As both all of you regular readers know, I volunteer at Alderson Federal Prison Camp. Holidays are not fun for inmates; no matter where they are, their families are usually far away. But at Alderson, anyway, the staff does what they can to make life a little more festive during this time of year.

A longtime tradition at Alderson is a holiday decorating contest, and I was asked to be a judge again this year. I think this is the fourth time I've participated. There are eight housing units at Alderson and each unit prepares and presents a skit, complete with props, costumes and decorations. They get a small amount of money for supplies, but most of their creations are made of discarded cardboard boxes, pine cones, wheat grass and tempera paint.

They come up with a theme – they varied this year from Chistmas celebrations around the world to a version of Home Alone to a variety of characters from Disney animated films – write a script, cast the roles and spend weeks making decorations, backdrops and costumes.

You wouldn't think this kind of talent could be found in a prison, but the creativity, enthusiasm and energy I saw this morning were amazing. They'll be glad to leave it all behind when they walk out the gate, but I won't soon forget the inspiring experience I had this morning.

So. That had nothing to do with fitness or knitting, did it? We'll get back to our regular programming tomorrow. Thanks for indulging me and letting me get off track today. My holidays are much brighter.

Tomorrow is your last day to enter the drawing for Gary Taubes' book Good Calories, Bad Calories. An e-mail to shrinkingknitter AT citynet DOT net with "GCBC" in the subject line is all it takes to enter. You don't have to write, dance, sing, draw or otherwise prove yourself to have a chance. I'll announce the winner Wednesday.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

We won Round 1

Not even a flicker in the electricity last night, nor a flake of snow. That's supposed to change today, however, and we could end up with two to four inches and downed power lines – due to the wind – by this afternoon.

I should probably bake bread.

A wind advisory is in effect for this afternoon and, truly, wind can cause as much damage as ice. If the buckets o' rain we had overnight were to freeze today, well …

But so far, so good, and it looks my planning and paranoia paid off.

And since Sunday is supposed to be a blog-free day [for me], I'll talk to you again tomorrow. I hope to have a new finished object in my list over there in the sidebar.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The ice storm cometh

I think I'm ready.
  • All clothes are clean
  • All dishes are clean
  • Coffee carafe is full
  • Candles and flashlights are accessible
  • Lots of water in jugs, pitchers and buckets
  • Snow shovel and ice melt on the porch
  • Knitting project is handy
My fervent hope is that by doing all this preliminary prep work I will fool Mother Nature into just raining on us. We're on the cusp of the rain/sleet line, but we are west of the Blue Ridge and that's where the storm is headed.

Yesterday was lovely. We walked around saying, "How could bad weather possibly be headed this way?" But the clouds are low and dark this morning, and I should have taken advantage of the sun and mild temperatures to run yesterday.

I didn't, though. Couldn't get over the lack of sleep Friday night and a very upset stomach. In fact, when I should have been running I was napping.

I should probably go fix or buy some food that won't taste bad at room temperature. Do you find it as interesting as I that in my list of preparations I didn't mention food at all? Hmmm.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Knit a sweater in a day!

Berroco just gave us these for Christmas:

Snag the pattern here!

Friday Quote Day

Whatever you are,
be a good one.

Abraham Lincoln

I've been forgetting about the regular Friday quotes around here recently. I guess that makes me a not-very-good blogger. Sorry, Abe!

You all have been very good little commenters, and I thank you very much for jumping in and telling me I'm making you think. I know you wish I could make you think-without-the-"k," but that's just not possible; if it were, I'd do it. And I'd be good at it, too.

Being good at something takes effort, dedication, commitment, willingness, energy and enthusiasm. Think about the various hats you wear – parent, friend, child, sibling, employee, employer – and all of those qualities are necessary. You couldn't be good at any of those roles without them.

This blog's purpose, as stated in the header, is to reclaim my health. To be good at that, I need … well, it's all up there in the first sentence of the last paragraph. After nearly two years blogging about it, I'm certainly fitter than I was when I started, but I'm still not where I'd like to be. As I said yesterday though, I think accepting what is will help me get where I want to go.

I'm not very good at that. Yet.

I started reading Good Calories, Bad Calories last night. [Have you entered the drawing for my extra copy yet? I'm going to nag you until you do!] I'm still in the prologue, in which Mr. Taubes describes Dwight Eisenhower's efforts to stay fit and healthy. I was struck by the lengths to which the former President would go to try to lose weight. He liked oatmeal for breakfast, but when he couldn't lose weight he switched to fruit, and then cut that first meal out altogether. The less he ate, the more weight he gained. He struggled for the last dozen or so years of his life. Could I relate? You bet. I'm hoping to get some good information from this book.

I did my second training run yesterday, which was again 40 minutes, but
more strenuous than the first one. I was slightly faster – I cut 39 seconds off my per-mile pace [from 12:54 to 12:15] – and I enjoyed every minute of it. I felt I'd done a good job when I finished, and I realized that I have 19 more weeks to improve. I don't have to be fast this week; in fact, I don't have to be fast at all. I only have to give it my best effort, dedication, commitment, willingness, energy and enthusiasm.

That's all. Heh.

My, my, I'm introspective and serious this morning. To lighten things up and add a little knitting content, I finished a sweater this morning. No, not the pink one [but I only have 147 rows to go on the second sleeve and it'll be finished]. This one:
You, too, can make your own hideous Christmas sweater! Go here for some virtual knitting fun. If you're on dial-up, be prepared for a lengthy wait for the flash-y stuff to load. And there's festive music, too, so turn the sound down if you decide to knit one at work.

Would a good employee play around with flash knitting websites on company time? Hmmm.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

I'm not there [yet]*

Before I go any further – heck, before I even begin! – I'd like to encourage you to go read Erin's post from yesterday, if you haven't already. I guess if you have, you could read it again.

While I don't ever think I've wanted to dive into a plate of cheese fries – no offense if you love cheese fries, that's just not my thing – I have, occasionally, entertained the strange and enticing idea of living as if I was already where I wanted to be.

I think that's the same as accepting myself just the way I am.

In my past brushes with therapy and psychology and stuff, I've run into the theory that until one accepts what is, one cannot move on to what is to be.

Is that the same as what Yoda said? 'Do or do not. There is no try.'

Smart little guy, that Yoda.

I must admit that while in theory I believe that weight-training will maintain my bone density and running is good for my cardiovascular system, I still huff and puff and lift and grunt because I want to lose weight. I have a long way to go before self-acceptance kicks in.

But … I've been there before. I remember feeling perfectly okay with an imperfect body for at least one other extended period of my life, and at the same time enjoying exercise simply for the sake of moving and breathing and pushing myself.

I'd rather not think of all this as something else to 'work on.' I'd like to just do.

Don't forget to enter the contest for Gary Taubes' book – details at the end of this post. Don't be shy! Everyone wants to win something at least once in their life, right? This is your big chance; I don't think your odds could possibly be any better. Heh.

*This title also
is a reference to the title of Todd Haynes' recently released film about Bob Dylan and which is coming soon to a theatre sort of near me! I'm kinda busy this weekend, but hope to get away next Saturday to see it.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Thinking outside the box

You know how "they" say you should incorporate more activity into your daily routine? Jonathan and M@rla stand up to work on their computers, for instance. Many of you chase toddlers, and we all park at the far end of the lot or take the stairs rather than the elevator. Right?

I don't get out much, since my job is taking care of two dogs, a husband and a house [and since 'getting out' means driving for at least an hour for just about every trip]. So the parking lot/stairway strategies aren't too helpful for me. I've been thinking about how to incorporate a vertical workstation into my office, though. Still thinking at this point.

I ran yesterday morning [a 5K in an easy 40 minutes], showered and then went out to get my hair cut [only a half-hour drive]. And since I can't seem to leave the house for just one errand, I drove another half-hour to Wally World [we don't have any other big-box options; don't hate me for spending my money there] to pick up a few things.

As I was driving, I started thinking about the whole 'more-movement' movement, and came up with what I thought was a pretty unique idea. At least I've never seen it anywhere else. After you read about it, you may think I'm ready for the loony bin.

How many times have you been advised to organize your grocery list by department – group all the produce, canned goods, frozen items, dairy – so you can get in and out of the store quickly? Well, I decided to rearrange my rather short list alphabetically.

Oh, yes, I did.

Because, really, I'm never in a hurry when I go shopping and hey … why not? Here was my list.

  1. Alphabet beads
  2. Apricots
  3. Bananas
  4. Birdseed
  5. Bread
  6. Coffee
  7. Dog Treats
  8. Lettuce
  9. Mozzarella
  10. Tissues
  11. Trash Bags
  12. Water

It sort of worked. Old habits die hard. I didn't want to pass by the lettuce in the produce section after I picked up the bananas, but I forced myself to keep moving. I got sidetracked a couple of times by Things Not on My List, but didn't feel compulsive enough to add them in the correct order. Needless to say, I did a lot of criss-crossing.

If I'd been in a hurry, I would have been in and out in 20 minutes, tops. I was actually surprised at the checkout counter to find I'd been there for an hour!

In the end, it was kind of like a scavenger hunt, only not as fun as Shauna's. Call me crazy, but I might even do it again.

It's probably a good thing that Mr. Shrinking Knitter is a psychiatrist.

Don't be shy about entering the contest to win your own copy of Good Calories, Bad Calories. I'm again sorry and completely embarrassed about giving you the wrong e-mail address. Try again if your message bounced the first time: shrinkingknitter AT citynet DOT net and put GCBC in the subject line.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

How many of you ...

are old enough to remember a teen magazine called Ingenue? They had a monthly column called "Boy, Was My Face Red" that both fascinated and repelled me.

So anyway, it's my turn. Apparently I don't know my own e-mail address. I'll correct it in the previous post. If you've tried to enter the drawing for the book and my e-mail bounced back to you, it's because it's a DOT net, not a DOT com.

shrinkingknitter AT citynet DOT net

Thanks to Laura for the heads-up.

So sorry ... and, um, BOY, is my face red! Heh.

I'll take Potpourri for $200, Alex

I'm totally stealing that title idea from our favorite readhead, by the way. This post is just full of random stuff.

No knitting yesterday. Not one stitch. Perhaps it had something to do with the weather, which is absolutely balmy. If you'll remember, I started getting my knitting mojo back about the time the first snowflake fell.

I wrapped and shipped Christmas presents all day yesterday [only a few more little things to finish up – whew!], left the house at 6 p.m. for the drawing class at the prison and came home exhausted. I had every intention of knitting and watching MNF, but the game wasn't that interesting and sleep came first.

Yesterday was a scheduled rest-from-exercise day. Amazingly, I also rested-from-food. It wasn't until I was at the prison talking about upside-down-drawing that I realized I'd forgotten to eat dinner! I think I can count on one hand the number of times that happens around here.

Today is the first day of a 20-week training program for CMM. If the first four weeks don't go well – and they may not, considering it's the holiday season and all – I have a 16-week backup plan ready and waiting. What I don't like about this plan is that workouts are measured in minutes instead of miles – today, for instance, I'm supposed to run easy for 40 minutes. I think I'll wear shorts, by the way. I kind of enjoyed racking up the mileage last time I was in training. [Don't I sound like an athlete? Heh.] That's not to say I won't keep track of my miles, of course. I most definitely will.

Among the mail I picked up yesterday was yet another box from In it were two copies of a book I'd ordered recently. JuJu inspired me to order it; she talked about it last month, but I've always been a day late and a dollar short, so I'm just now receiving it. Er, them. I'll blame the extra copy on pilot error.

Rather than return it, I thought I might donate Copy Number Two to our local library. And then I thought, "Hmmm. Why don't I donate it to one of your libraries?" So, if you're at all interested in winning a brand-new, unread, pristine copy of Gary Taubes' Good Calories, Bad Calories, shoot me an e-mail: shrinkingknitter AT citynet DOT net and put GCBC in the subject line. You do know how to translate that to a real e-mail addy, don't you?

Deadline is December 18 at noon, a week from today. I'll use a random number generator to determine the winner, which I'll announce first thing Wednesday, December 19. The book is a rather scientific read; you might not even want it. If no one enters the contest, I'll still donate it to my local library.

Denise, if you had a blog I would totally send everyone over with get-well wishes. So sorry about your fall!

Finally – I bet you thought I was never going to shut up – yesterday's Supreme Court decision to restore federal judges' control in sentencing was the best news I heard all day. I'm hoping for more today.

Monday, December 10, 2007

I can still run!

Yesterday was a stellar day, all the way around.

I'm beginning to think this shoulder/arm/whatever pain is something I'll just have to deal with when I wake up. There was a bit of random soreness in the morning and I considered taking an Aleve, but ultimately decided not to. As the day wore on, the pain let up. I had almost full range of motion for the first time in a month.

This morning? Same thing. My upper arm is sore, but not painfully so, and I have every confidence that it will work itself out as I drink more coffee.

Caffeine! The cure for what ails you!

Since I was feeling so good and the weather was amazingly cooperative [a bit of sun, no wind and an unseasonably warm 55-ish temperature], I got ready to run. I went to the grocery first, stopped at what passes for a discount store here in the Middle of Nowhere and bought a watch/chronometer and then hit my two-mile flat road.

My recent walk/runs have been on this road but I've only gone out 1.5 miles. Yesterday I went the distance and only walked the last half mile. I figured out how to do splits with the chonometer but accidentally reset it so I can't report how slow I was.

The good thing, though, is that while I didn't run continuously for 30 minutes, I did mostly run, taking only occasional one-minute walk breaks. And the better thing is that I didn't hurt. Anywhere. For the first time since the Raleigh race, all my body parts felt good all at the same time.

Food yesterday was good, so good, in fact, that the only thing I remember eating is the omelette I had for dinner, and the only reason I remember that is that the smoke alarm went off when I forgot about the butter melting in the skillet. Our smoke alarm is tied into our house alarm system and I got two calls from the monitoring service. I felt really silly explaining that the only emergency we had was of the cooking variety.

And knitting? On Saturday I joined the front and back of the pink sweater I'm working on and finished the neckband, and yesterday I started the first sleeve. The pattern was written for a drop-shoulder, which creates a lot of unnecessary bulk under the arms [and, incidentally, uses up more yarn], so I revised it to a set-in sleeve. Thanks to the magic of short rows, I was able to pick up the sleeve stitches from the armsceye and I'm now working my way down to the cuff.

The advantage of creating a sleeve this way is that the join of the sleeve to the body of the sweater is neat and clean [because you don't have to sew it in] and when you're working your way down, you get to decrease every inch or so – there are fewer stitches on your needle by the time you get to the cuff.

I'm doing the sleeves flat – I don't mind sewing straight seams but my sleeve-to-body seams leave much to be desired – since the sleeve stitch pattern for this sweater is mostly garter stitch. [Garter stitch in the round is *knit one round, purl one round* – call me crazy, but I'd rather knit than purl.]

I've noticed a lot of people have saved the Santa hat pattern – be sure to let me know how it works for you. Pictures! Point me to your pictures! My granddaughter wore hers to day care one day last week; her teachers said she was their "Santa baby." Awwwwww.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

There's still time …

to make a last-minute gift, even if you knit. Large knitting projects – sweaters and afghans, for instance – take for-freaking-ever, and if you started one today, the only way you could put one under the Christmas tree this year is if you wrapped a picture of one. Jewelry, though? Easy-peasy.

About a year ago I made a knitted, beaded bracelet that ended up being too big for me, so I had a contest to give it away. I also wrote the pattern up and gave it to everyone who entered the contest.

This year, the pattern is yours.

I lost count of how many people snagged the Wee Santa Hat pattern, so I thought I'd try it again. Admittedly this takes a little more patience, and some materials may not be at your fingertips, particularly the teeny-tiny knitting needles. You don't want to start this project while you're watching an exciting basketball game, for instance, or you might stab yourself. Teeny-tiny needles are sharp!

Anyway. Click on the little image and the larger one should land in your computer somewhere. Merry Christmas!

Late yesterday evening I told Mr. Shrinking Knitter I might try to do the eight miles outside today if it was warm enough and not raining. My shoulder felt pretty good then. This morning? Not so much. I might get inspired to give it a go this afternoon, though. I've already declared myself a DNF, but I feel like such a slacker doing that! I know that's unrealistic and harsh, but maybe it's what I need.

Training for Country Music begins in earnest in January. I'm registered for the half but can change my mind, give them more money and go for the full marathon. I'm wavering ... but before I do anything I have to get back in training condition. For most programs, that means being able to run continuously for 30 minutes. So far, since mid-November, I haven't been able to do that.

Saturday, December 08, 2007


If you're an athlete of almost any kind, and especially if you're a runner, you know that DNF > DNS means "did not finish" is better than "did not start."

That would be me, for the inaugural 8 on the 8th.

Maybe I should just declare myself on injured reserve. Because of my shoulder, I can't swing my arms as one naturally does when one runs. I'm so very out of shape and unconditioned at this point that it was very discouraging to have to stop after 2.75 treadmill miles.

Had the weather been better, I may have been able to at least walk eight miles. I would have gone to the four-mile-long road and would have had no choice but to turn around and walk back once I got to the end of it. It's just too easy to get off the treadmill.

Anyway, I tried.

Congratulations to all the finishers!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Mind over matter

I've written about mind over matter here before, but not as credibly as Gina Kolata wrote about it in the New York Times yesterday. For anyone involved in athletic training, it's an interesting and inspiring read. I know I can easily cut a workout short when I'm tired or when a random body part hurts. But it appears that even those of us who will never win a marathon or the Tour de France can benefit from the suggestions Kolata describes.

And then there's this: Eating healthfully is more expensive than eating crap.

You don't say. How many times have you
dropped five bucks on a McDonald's premium salad while your friend/spouse/date/kid eats fries and burgers from the dollar menu?

Anyway. Eating continues to go pretty well around here, and I'm using the treadmill – although perhaps not up to my potential – daily. Today's forecast calls for freezing rain and sleet this morning, with showers lingering the rest of the day and evening. Dear Treadmill: See you soon.

As for 8 on the 8th? We'll see. Maybe a mantra, along with grit and determination, will help get me through it. It might end up being a DNF, though.

Thanks for your very sweet comments on the little hat. Thanks, Mich, for telling me where you've been lately. I've updated my Google Reader. As for how long it would take a rank beginner to make a cabled earflap hat … that's difficult to answer. If you're a fast learner, that hat could be your first real project. Or you could make one just like Jayne's.

Knitting involves only a few basic maneuvers:

  • Casting on
  • The knit stitch
  • The purl stitch
  • Increasing
  • Decreasing
  • Binding off

Once you master those, you can manipulate the stitches – crossing sets of stitches, as I did in the cables, or creating deliberate 'holes' in the fabric for lace, for instance – to create just about anything. There are many good learn-to-knit websites out there, and I can answer questions, or you can check your Yellow Pages for yarn shops. Many offer classes for beginners.

This morning is a good oatmeal-for-breakfast one, and my steel-cut oats have been bubbling in the crockpot all night. Yum! I hope your breakfast is as good as mine.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Winter came yesterday

Snow started falling yesterday about 7 a.m. and didn't quit until late afternoon. It started snowing again around 7 p.m., but the second round really didn't add much to the four inches which had accumulated during the day. A lightweight car [mine's an older model], a mountain road and four inches of snow meant I was, as I predicted, snowed in.

And winter continues to wrap its icy fingers around us this morning; the current temperature is just 13°. That short walk from the house to the garage is going to seem mighty long when I go out for today's treadmill workout.

Fortunately, it won't last. Isn't that the best thing about the weather? Wait a couple of days and it'll change.

If I do the 8 on the 8th race [which I signed up for], it will most likely be on the treadmill. When I was still able to run outside comfortably, I couldn't stand even the thought of getting on a machine to pump up my heart rate. Now, while I'm not thrilled about it, it's at least tolerable and I've steadily increased my speed each time. I'm not up to my outdoor pace yet, but part of that is my shoulder.

Yes, it still hurts and it's still in a sling and I took the last anti-inflammatory this morning. One more muscle relaxant and I'll be on my own. Perhaps that's a good thing; when the pain is masked, I do tend to use that arm more, which may be preventing further healing.

I used it yesterday – making sure my elbow was supported – to start and finish a sweet little earflap cap for one of my granddaughters. She and her parents will be in Ohio over Christmas, so she needs a warm hat, right? The well-written pattern didn't specify adding the little braids, but I couldn't help myself. I also did an I-cord edging all the way around it to neaten it up a bit. Even if she never wears it, I had fun making it.

Now it's back to the pale pink sweater for me. I doubt if I get it finished in time to wear it to Christmas Eve services, but I might. That's the goal, anyway. Two sleeves in 19 days. Can she do it?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Really, he's a great guy!

Wow. I think maybe I stepped over the good-little-wife line yesterday in repeating Mr. Shrinking Knitter's rather insensitive question. He's normally not so obtuse, and he was, in his own way, trying to be helpful. Honest!

And you all were, too, so I thank you. I will definit
ely, at the right time, suggest a better way for him to phrase future inquiries.

But … maybe I needed to hear it just like it was. A day later – time heals all wounds, doncha know – it feels not quite so bad, and I felt more motivated yesterday to Do the Right Thing, rather than to rummage around looking for comfort in the pantry, refrigerator or freezer.

Thanks also for your get-well wishes for my shoulder. After my noon date with the treadmill yesterday, my shoulder and I took a shower and then a long nap, something we rarely do. [I can't say I never nap any more, as I used to in my younger days.] I feel kind of guilty sleeping away a good chunk o' day, but in my mind I can hear my mother saying, "You must have needed it."

Sometimes I really miss her and her reassurances.

I haven't knit a stitch in a couple of days, so in order to feed my sticks-and-string habit I spent some apr├ęs-nap time on Ravelry. I've been a member since August, but haven't done much with it except search for one very popular knitty pattern. [You can learn more about Ravelry here, and request an invitation, here.] I contributed the Wee Santa Hat pattern and added some photos to my page and before I knew it it was time to leave for my volunteer gig at the prison. Time flies when you get sucked into the black hole of Ravelry!

Today [if I don't get snowed in – my county is under a severe weather alert] I'm supposed to meet a friend to buy a Hanne Falkenberg Dacapo kit. I've loved this jacket from the first time I saw it, but the kits are kind of pricey. My friend acquired the stock from a yarn shop who no longer wants to carry them, and she offered it to me before she put it on eBay. Lucky me!

And speaking of eBay, I'm sellling a camera lens that will fit a Canon Digital Rebel. If you know of anyone who needs or wants one, please point them in that direction. That mean old Mr. Shrinking Knitter bought me a new lens with the magic of image stabilization for Christmas. I know I won't use the other lens again, but I hate storing a perfectly good lens when someone else could use it.

I've linked to more stuff today than I have in a long time ... I think I'm done now.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Back in the saddle sling again

I'm not sure what I did to my shoulder/tricep/bicep in the night, but I'm once again slinging my way through my daily routine. As I think about it, I ran the sweeper yesterday morning – it's heavy and I probably lifted it over something using my left arm without even thinking about it – and I also carried a very heavy messenger bag in my left hand last night on my way to the drawing class at the prison. I was immediately reminded to switch arms, but perhaps it was just long enough to reinjure that shoulder. Or whatever is injured.

As I told Mr. Shrinking Knitter, at least I know it will get better.

Yesterday morning he asked me, in the most loving way possible, if I'd been gaining weight. I've actually lost two pounds this week, so the question was particularly hard to take. So hard, in fact, that I didn't even tell him about the loss.

Two pounds! Of course I've probably gained it back by now. Because when someone asks you that question, it doesn't motivate you, okay, me, to eat lettuce and lean chicken. And if I look hard enough, there are plenty of comfort foods around here that don't have sugar in them.

For instance, I found the peanuts. They were on a covered basket [full of yarn] next to an open basket [full of yarn] in the living room. Why they were there I haven't a clue. They are now in the pantry, where they belong, and the bag is decidedly less full than it was when I put them there.

This is total self-sabotage, and I understand that. So today, in addition to being back in a sling, I'll get back on the saddle of eating healthfully and mindfully, and I'll take a walk on the treadmill.

Because when it's 25° outside and you're using Neosporin as both hand cream and lip balm, you probably don't need to be braving the elements.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Friday Quote on Saturday

Not unlike an infant who sometimes gets her days and nights mixed up, I seem to have forgotten what day of the week it is pretty much all this week. I was convinced yesterday was Saturday – it just felt like a Saturday, somehow. Maybe because I ran.

Yes, you heard it here first. I ran yesterday! Three miles at an 11:36 pace, which is pretty awesome for me, and especially gratifying considering I hadn't run in 22 days.

Okay, on to the quote:

"Don't let what you cannot do
interfere with what you can do."

~ John Wooden

I didn't know ahead of time that this would be the perfect quote for today. I stumbled upon it this morning and realized that, while the past three weeks have been pretty much a bust as far as exercise goes, I was able to rein in the eating. Best of all?

I'm still sugar-free.

I still have a sweet tooth, though. I exchanged the wrong-size pajamas yesterday and stopped at the grocery on the way home. Because when you live in the Middle of Nowhere and drive for an hour to do one thing, you can't not do something else. It would be a waste of gas, wouldn't it?

I restocked the dried fruit inventory – a couple apricots are a satisfying way to keep the sweet tooth at bay – and I also bought a couple containers of sugar-free, fat-free ice cream frozen dessert. The half-cup I had last night was only so-so, but it'll have to do as a substitute for the real thing.

Because not having real ice cream doesn't prevent me from having the fake kind.

Wendy is running a marathon tomorrow … I know you want to go wish her well.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Almost forgot!

Tomorrow is Adam's birthday and his first half-marathon! Go wish him well.

Knitting and a movie

Added 11/14/12: Before we begin ... I'd like to invite you to visit my new blog at Knit. Run. Reap. Eat. The Wee Santa Hat also is available there, as well as a Garter-Cuff Beanie and my Pretty Comfy Socks, which have been downloaded and knit countless times. Now … back to your regularly scheduled downloading. I hope you enjoy knitting the Wee Santa Hat.

• • • • •

As I said yesterday, I was able to complete the little Santa cap in the time it takes to watch a bad movie. Should you decide to knit one, I would suggest a good movie. Maybe even something seasonal, like A Christmas Story or Miracle on 34th Street – two films I can watch repeatedly.

Blogger doesn't let you upload .pdf files, which would be the easiest way to deliver the pattern. Another Blogger user who knits has come up with an ingenius way to share her patterns, which I am shamelessly stealing here.

If you click on the image on the right and save it to your hard drive, it should be a full-sized, legible page. I can't guarantee the quality of the photo, but hey … it's a Santa hat. It's red with a white cuff and a white ball on the end. What more do you need to know? Lemme know if you run into a problem: shrinkingknitter AT citynet DOT net.

I was in the Christmas spirit yesterday, and shopped 'til I dropped. Why in the world does every girls' nightgown have to have ugly graphics printed on the front of it? Living where I do, with limited selection available, I did the best I could. And then when I got home I discovered I'd bought the wrong size. Hi ho, hi ho, it's back to the mall I go.

I hardly ate a thing yesterday. Wasn't hungry in the morning and didn't stop for lunch. I picked up a turkey wrap at a deli and ate it on the way home, and was happy to finally settle down with my knitting to watch football.

Get well, Brett!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

It's that time again …


There are many, many snowflake generators out there now, but the one I linked to is the first one I found, a couple of years ago. Enjoy, and don't blame me if you end up making snowflakes instead of working, working out, eating, sleeping or tending your children and pets.

On to more pressing matters.

How does one lose a bag of peanuts? Mr. Shrinking Knitter and I took our Thanksgiving guests to Gap Mills, WV, while they were here. Gap Mills is a tiny little Mennonite [we think] community even more in the Middle of Nowhere than I am. There are gift shops, furniture makers, a bakery and a lovely little food store called Cheese 'n' More.

Among my purchases was a bag of roasted, unsalted peanuts, which I used as a garnish on turkey curry Sunday night. When I went to look for them Monday, the bag was missing. I knew right where I had put them in the pantry, but they're not there, nor are they anywhere else in my kitchen – including the refrigerator and freezer. I'm baffled.

It's probably a good thing, except we do get mice in the winter and they will have a feast if they find it before I do.

As for yesterday's short run – didn't happen, but I did take a short walk and felt like that was the prudent thing to do. I'm still a little nervous about losing my balance if I protect my left arm by not swinging it naturally. Range of motion is much improved, though, and I went most of the day yesterday without the sling. Maybe Dr. C knows what he's talking about after all. Heh.

In the process of searching for a mitten pattern yesterday I ended up sorting through literally hundreds of patterns I've printed and saved from the internet over the years. I tossed a bunch, put others in sheet protectors and put them in binders, filled an entire kitchen trash can with Patterns I'll Never Knit and, eventually, found the pattern in the last place I looked. It wasn't even in the house; it was in a knitting bag in the yarn closet on the second floor of the garage.

But I feel really good about getting all that crap cleared out, at least for the moment. I also filled a small binder with patterns for things I want to make in the near future. I think the knitting bug, which has been mostly dormant over the summer, is coming back.

That's one virus I can live with.

A couple people e-mailed me asking for the pattern source for the baby Santa hat. I made it up on the fly, but will try to write something up and post it tomorrow. Thanks for all your nice compliments about it, and thanks, too, for your well wishes for the shoulder. They seem to have helped!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The dread treadmill still works

It's been a long, long time since I've fired up the old treadmill. It works just fine, except something is stuck in it that makes it not fold up to save space. Since I'm not especially concerned with saving space, I guess it's okay.

Thanks to the inspirational message I snagged from PQ [mentioned in yesterday's post] and knowing you'd all be wondering if I did it or not [how's that for egotistical?], I'm happy to report that I walked four miles at 3.5 mph and was quite a sweaty mess when I finished. I kind of forgot how much effort it is to walk for more than an hour on a treadmill.

Also? Boring! Because of you, the printed message and SportsCenter, I didn't quit. So thanks!

My shoulder is definitely stiffer and more painful in the morning; perhaps that's something I'll just have to deal with for a while. Thanks for all your comments yesterday; I feel fairly certain I could do some kind of resistance-band workout now, as Lori suggested, and yes, PQ, it is rather amazing that I'd love to be able to lift, after all the whining I've done about weight-training over the lifespan of this blog.

Knitting continues to be not just doable but also very enjoyable. I'm not killing myself knitting any Christmas gifts this year. At least one designer has come up with a knock-off pattern for this scarf, and I might try to do
one for Mr. Shrinking Knitter's mother, but other than that I'm still plugging away on the sweater for me [and hoping it will block out to the right size because it Just. Doesn't. Look. Big. Enough]. I took a break from it yesterday, though, to knit a wee Santa hat for my new granddaughter. It also Just. Doesn't. Look. Big. Enough., but maybe that's just me.

The hat was simple as could be and I was able to watch a very bad movie with Rob Lowe and Jennifer Grey while I worked on it. Jennifer Grey will forever be Dirty Dancing's "Baby" to me.

I might try a short run outside today. It's supposed to be in the low 50s by this afternoon. If it doesn't work out, at least I know I can always use the treadmill.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A little progress … but very little

Mr. Shrinking Knitter loved listening to former United Kingdom Prime Minister Tony Blair pronounce 'prOHgress' and 'prOHcess.' So when I typed the subject line, in my head I pronounced it with a long 'O' sound. You could read it like that, too!

Come hell or high water I'm going to walk on the treadmill today. Poundage is up, spirits are down, arm is still in a sling and pain is still present. At least I'm sleeping well, thanks to the muscle relaxant, and it's not giving me a hangover effect, as some sleep-inducing medicines do.

I hope you saw PQ's post yesterday about believing in yourself. I snagged the image of her poster and will print it out and tape it to the console of my treadmill. I'd like to do four miles [16 laps!] at a steady 3.5 mph pace. Will she or won't she? Stay tuned!

As to how this injury came about, Dr. C said it was from either the rowing or the weight lifting. How sweet is it that I'm not permitted to do either of those activities? You know, it's not sweet at all. I'd give my left arm to be able to hoist a barbell this morning. Heh.

I'm still able to knit, with frequent breaks, as long as my elbow is supported by both the sling and a pillow. Meaning I won't be going insane any time soon.

I'm sure you're all thrilled to know that.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Short and sweet

The diagnosis is a deep muscle tear, and I'm on a twice-daily NSAID and once-daily muscle relaxant. I apparently am too stupid to not use my arm while I'm sleeping, and woke up very early this morning in agony. Mr. Shrinking Knitter said I screamed. So now my left arm is in a sling.

Making it kind of hard to type.

If I'm not better in a couple weeks, I'm to go back to the doctor to see what else could be wrong. Of course, I'm hoping for it to start healing very soon.

Dr. C said I could run, but honestly? I really can't. I need both arms to feel comfortable and I think I would screw something else up if I tried.

All in all, I'm not a happy camper, but I'm trying to make the best of it.

Thanksgiving was wonderful here – I had lots of help and everything turned out great. The leftovers have been fabulous and I'm still sugar-free!

Probably won't be posting on quite so regular a basis for a while ... but I'll be reading about all of your adventures!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

i've never been so happy ...

to have a doctor's appointment this morning. if he hadn't been pulling a 24-hour emergency room shift, he would have seen me yesterday.

i dislike going to the doctor. that may sound funny to you, but i know people who treat doctor's visits as social events, and have witnessed many strangers greeting each other, asking about family members, bragging about children, etc., in various waiting rooms throughout the middle of nowhere. conversations you city people hear in coffee shops and bookstores are what i hear waiting to get my cholesterol checked.

[it hurts to press the shift key, thus i'm channeling e.e. cummings this morning. the little lame balloon man whistles far and wee.]

because i avoid medical personnel as much as possible [except, of course, the one i married], i've waited until the worst possible time to finally break down and beg to be seen. we have company coming this afternoon – [CAPS LOCK ON: THIS AFTERNOON!] – and after yesterday's baking marathon i really should be on my hand and knees scrubbing the floor. but then what would i do with my other hand? you know, the useless one.

so i might as well suck it up, do what i can before i leave for the 'we'll-work-you-in' appointment and count on our guests' good will and understanding, which i'm sure they will have in abundance.

aleve isn't touching the pain, and i can only sleep with my arm in one position. changing my position creates an exquisite sensation that wakes me immediately. it's easier to be upright and mobile. which i've been since about 3 a.m.

this will be quite the memorable thanksgiving, especially if a shot of cortisone [which is what i'm expecting the doctor to administer] doesn't do the trick.

i'm no hypochondriac, but the what ifs have kind of overtaken me. what if it's a torn rotator cuff requiring surgery? what if it's some kind of infection that only iv antibiotics can cure? what if he has to amputate?

and the one thing that's always helped me relax and not stress-eat is impossible to do.

i can't knit.

while pain is a pretty effective appetite suppressant, i managed to eat to that more-than-comfortably full state yesterday, and i'm pretty sure i'll do it again tomorrow. it shouldn't be too difficult to rein it in today, what with my to-do list growing longer and the available hours growing shorter.

i'm grateful to still be sugar-free in all of this.

i'm grateful to have a computer and a virtual community and the ability to communicate, sort of.

i'm grateful for coffee and for a doctor who will see me at the last minute and for my domestically challenged husband who is, nonetheless, willing to do whatever i need him to do.

i won't have time or opportunity to post again until sunday, probably.

happy thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I surrender

Instead of sitting here waiting for the sun to rise so I can go run, I'm sitting here waiting for 8 a.m. so I can call the doctor to beg and plead for an appointment today. The pendulum has swung from no-pain-at-all on Saturday to not-being-able-to-extend-my-left-arm yesterday. And last night. And this morning.

Good thing I'm right-handed.

But I can't get through the cooking marathon I'm facing one-handed. Just. Can't. Do. It.

I kept thinking, especially after Saturday, that it would continue to get better, but it hasn't and it won't and Dr. Internet and one of you readers and I all feel that it must be bursitis or tendinitis, which means … gulp … some kind of needle with some kind of performance-enhancing drug in it
inserted into my shoulder.


Anne recently wrote about her fondness for mincemeat. That was a traditional holiday food from my childhood as well. Whole Foods sends me a weekly e-mail [not that there's a Whole Foods here in the Middle of Nowhere, but I do like to try some of their recipes] and lo and behold – a recipe for Mincemeat Log Rolls. I made them yesterday and they are quite good. No sugar and vegetarian-friendly.

They're not a low-calorie, eat-all-you-want treat, and they're not a true mincemeat flavor. But they weren't hard to make and when everyone around you is chowing down on sugary crap desserts, it's nice to have something good and tasty that doesn't look weird. And these look like real cookies!


Monday, November 19, 2007

Spoke Wrote too soon

When I last posted, I said my arm/shoulder/bicep felt dandy. So naturally I did what any of you would do – I tested it by rowing and lifting weights. A decision for which I'm still paying. On the bright side, my feet feel much, much better – better than before I ran City of Oaks – so I did a tiny, little, baby run yesterday. That felt great.

I walked a half-mile, ran a half-mile, turned around and ran the second half of the running mile and then walked the last half-mile. The walking part took about 14.5 minutes, and the running part was done in 9:26. That's my fastest mile, but I certainly couldn't have done another one at that pace. It was fun, though.

Thanks for all your nice comments on the stockings! I'm pretty pleased with them. Yesterday I finished the felted clogs for my daughter-in-law – this is the third pair I've made her since we met – and I can't wait until my granddaughter is old enough for her first pair. My daughter-in-law will think they're a hoot, whether the baby ever wears them or not. I might figure out a way to make a small enough pair, using thinner yarn. If so, I'll tuck them in with a Christmas present.

First, though, we get to have Thanksgiving! Three days and counting, and today is the day to really get started. I finished grocery shopping yesterday, but will almost surely have to go back for one last item, because I always forget something. Mr. Shrinking Knitter has been most willing to pick up a thing or two the last couple of days. He's happy to get out of the house in case I ask him to do something. Heh.

I'm a week into my new sugar-free life, and so far, so good. I found a sugarless pumpkin cheesecake recipe that I'm going to try, along with a loaded-with-corn syrup pecan pie, which is the preferred dessert around here. Everything else on the menu is healthy and delicious except, maybe, the cornbread bacon stuffing. Along with turkey, I'll be making homemade wheat bread with sunflower seeds, cranberry relish, deviled eggs, roasted root vegetables, roasted-garlic mashed potatoes (made with chicken broth and skim milk), green bean casserole (which I hate and won't touch), a huge relish tray with homemade hummus and Waldorf salad sans whipped cream – I like it just fine with low-fat mayo sweetened with Splenda.

The cranberry relish is the easiest thing ever – mix a bag of fresh cranberries with a jar of sugar-free orange marmalade and a little vanilla. (I'm going to toss some walnuts in, as well.) Bake in a 350° oven until it smells good and the cranberries are done. Chill before serving.

And if I'm going to get anything at all done today, I'd better get my ass off this Swiss ball and back away from the computer. I hope you all have a fabulous Monday!

Oops! Almost forgot to mention that WVU is NUMBER THREE in the BCS rankings this week. We had high hopes of being fourth – coming in third this week was like getting a present!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Stick a fork in it!

The stockings are done!

I'd rather knit than sew any old day, but last night I sucked it up, found a needle and some unwaxed dental floss and finished the Christmas stockings. Here's my daughter-in-law's:

I love the eclectic and folksy look of the mismatched buttons. I had a jar of both silver and gold, and decided the gold looked more festive. What do you think? Actually, while I hope you think it looks good, I'm not going to snip them off and start over with something different. Well, I will if my son and his wife hate them.

I was inspired by Cheryl Oberle's Many-Buttoned Vest from her book Folk Knits. I made it a couple of years ago – still haven't sewn the buttons on – and have enjoyed wearing it a lot. The vest is supposed to be embellished with a double line of non-functioning mismatched buttons marching down each front. I guess mine is a Non-Buttoned Vest.

It feels great to have that project done. I also have the knitting done on Nikki's clogs, and will shrink them today.

I'm a knitting machine!

For the first time in a very long time I woke up this morning with all my various parts and pieces feeling dandy. The callus on my right foot hurts a teensy bit, but no more than it did before City of Oaks. Confession must be good for the soul shoulder, because I can't even make my left shoulder or bicep hurt.

This blogging thing is better than health insurance. Heh.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Friday Quote Day

It's always something.
Roseanne Roseannadanna

The astute among you will note that I haven't mentioned exercise in a couple of days. I'm glad to report that my feet are healing well. I'm down to just calluses now, and while I don't think they'll go away completely, I'm able to walk – and probably run – with ease. I'd intended to resume running after Thanksgiving, but I might give it a try sometime this week.

In the past week, I've had random pain in my left arm/shoulder/bicep. It seems to migrate and is sometimes excruciating. Like in the middle of the night when I turn over in my sleep in just such a way as to create a piercing stab, painful enough to wake me up.

Dr. Internet is as baffled as I am. It may be a muscle tear or strain, caused by either rowing or lifting. But I think I would have felt something during the activity, which I didn't.

What's odd about it is that sometimes I don't notice it at all, and then I'll go to open a door or lift a coffee mug and bam! [I'm channeling Emiril here.]

My new BFF is Aleve. Actually Aleve is my old BFF, but I've come to appreciate it even more this week.

To compensate for not being able to exercise, I've been watching what I eat like a college football official watches the field of play. [Except the one in Arizona last night who missed a 15-yard facemask violation that would have put Arizona within field goal range. But the Wildcats pulled off the upset anyway, which is good for everyone ranked lower than second but higher than seventh in the BCS. That would include West Virginia. Heh.]

In addition to eliminating alcohol from my diet 17 years ago – and alcohol pretty much was my diet back then – I also stopped eating sugar, only to begin again five years later. Did you read that? Five years sugar-free! This past Monday, on my AA anniversary, I decided to give it another go. It's not like I was chowing down on sweet stuff day in and day out, but I found that on a day I ate sugary treats, I wanted more, more, more. It might as well be crack. At least that's how my body reacts to it.

As an experiment, I bought a bag of Hershey's Kisses and put them in an open candy dish in the living room. I haven't touched them since I put them in the bowl. Now I realize Hershey's Kisses aren't the be-all and end-all of chocolatey goodness, but they're little and relatively harmless and easy to eat. And I've passed them by all week long.

It's kinda crazy, starting a sugar-free lifestyle right before the holidays. I've long thought I should give it up again, but couldn't summon up the mental effort to follow through. Crazy or not, somehow now it feels like the right thing to do.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Sometimes …

I just can't think of anything to say. Today is one of those days. So instead, I'll leave you with something to watch. [If you prefer, it's on YouTube here.] And you know it's good, since I took the time to upload it on this slow-slow-slow dial-up connection.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Mirror, mirror

Denise [who doesn't appear to have a blog, or I would link to her] mentioned in a comment yesterday that working out with weights in front of a mirror was helpful to her. Adding a mirror to my workout space was something Lori also suggested, when she and I first talked about sprucing up that area.

As you might imagine, my first reaction was negative. However, I do have a fairly large framed mirror propped against a wall in a closet, because I have no place to hang it. I suppose I could prop it against the wall in the garage, just to see if I recoil in horror or if it helps to, as Denise said, watch my form without watching my form.

Rowed yesterday, lifted yesterday and worked on a graphic design project yesterday. Each time I get a little freelance job I'm reminded of how much I like to actually do graphic design. It didn't take a lot of time, but it was enough to make me feel creative again.

I noticed that several of you signed the HR 676 petition yesterday. Thanks so much! I hope you'll urge your friends and families to sign it, as well. And if I may wax political once again, the Sentencing Commission heard testimony yesterday urging them to make their recently amended crack cocaine sentencing guidelines retroactive. It's the right and fair thing to do, in my not-so-humble opinion. You can read more about the issue here and here.

Congress has the power to override the Commission's recommendation. Right now it looks as though they won't do that. President Bush has spoken out against the measure; isn't that enough reason to be for it?

I overslept this morning and am a good hour behind my normally slothful schedule. I'd hoped to tackle a few of those housekeeping chores I mentioned the other day, so I'd better, um, get cracking. Heh.

P.S. Kristi asked a music download question yesterday. Could the site I referenced be D.J. Steveboy?