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?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

And another thing …

If you believe, as I do, that health care is a human right, please consider signing this petition. I don't know if it will do any good or not, but it's certainly worth the little bit of effort and time it will take you to click and type.

“Of all forms of inequity,
injustice in health care
is the most shocking
and the most inhumane.”

~ Martin Luther King, Jr.


I'm feeling much, much better this morning, and felt well enough yesterday to slog out 45 minutes on the rowing machine. I wanted to quit halfway through; that's about the time Sports Center started rehashing Sunday's NASCAR results. I just paused the rower and switched to ESPN News. All football, all the time. Or so it seemed.

Today? More of the same, plus strength-training. I finally put a battery in the clock I'm going to hang in the garage, to help me stick to the routine for at least 25 minutes. Still need to do some motivational posters, but so far having the little speakers out there to blast out some music has been enough.

Skwigg listed a few of her current tunes last week; I've added Stronger by Kanye West and A Little Bit More by Jamie Lidell [the "Target" song] to my workout playlist. Today will be the first time I've actually used them along with lifting weights. Mostly I've just been sitting on my ass listening to them.

Thanks to all of you who sent good wishes about my anniversary yesterday. Life is good!

Still haven't embellished the Christmas stockings, but I will. They actually don't need to be sent until after Thanksgiving which, according to every calendar in my house, both in print and electronic, is just nine days away! Since Mr. Shrinking Knitter and I are hosting dinner this year, I'm quickly approaching panic mode. I wish I could be one of those Flylady women whose home is always company-ready, but I'm just not.

I have two big organizing projects that seem to get in my way. One is the hall closet, which would be a great place to store things that get tossed in the guest room, but is filled with "stuff" I can't throw away: old purses, including one of my late mother's and one of my late grandmother's; odd Christmas things that never get used and, thus, never get packed away with the other Christmas things; baskets of ribbon; spools of packing tape, unused picture frames. I need to be in one of those ruthless moods to start the process. I thought yesterday would be the day, so I pulled a handbag out and started going through it.

It is, of course, still on the guest bed. At least I threw some of the contents away, and put the change in the change jar.

The other project is the kitchen cupboards. The only way to reorganize cupboards is to take everything out of all of them. I think that's got D-I-S-A-S-T-E-R written all over it this close to Thanksgiving.

Knitting seems to get in the way of organizing and cleaning and laundry, oh my. Have I ever mentioned how much I like to knit? I've started a sweater I've made before, the Cable & Garter Pull which is no longer available online, as the original website has been taken down. Thanks to the Wayback Machine, you can still get the pattern, which was designed by Nicky Epstein. No photo, though.

The first time I made it I used a lofty mohair blend, and it reminded me of those big-knit mohair sweaters that were popular when I was in junior high school. You know, back in the Dark Ages. I had a couple that I absolutely loved and wore everywhere. This time I'm using Paton's worsted-weight wool, so it will look decidedly different but equally good. The pattern was designed for a worsted-weight acrylic, but I prefer wool. And it's pink. Of course. So was the first one.

I also will be making a pair of Fiber Trends Felted Clogs for my daughter-in-law's birthday, which is fast approaching. I've lost count of how many of those I've made, but I can finish the knitting in less than a day if I don't do anything else.

Like clean closets.

And to continue the dominant knitting theme of this post, have you seen the U.S. Post Office's new Christmas stamps?

Well, now you have! I'm going to use the top two for my cards, and save the lower two for bills and correspondence. They don't look quite so holiday-ish. Yes, I'm one of those ladies Wendy was talking about who spend too much time dithering about which stamps to buy. Except I'm not heading south.

Monday, November 12, 2007

A rerun

First, though, a couple of things.

Thanks to everyone who suggested a way to personalize the Christmas stockings. I haven't tried anything yet, but applying felted letters, possibly just an initial instead of the entire name, is appealing. The yarn I used for the stockings creates a very thick fabric, so I'll probably end up using craft felt. I have some around here somewhere.

I created a workout calendar for November and December, which allows one rest day per week – I picked Saturday. My body picked Sunday, as well. I was sick when I woke up – you don't want to know – and felt weak and weary all day. [Can you hear the violins in the background? Poor, pitiful me.] I'm smart enough to know it wasn't a good idea to try to push through it, although I did spend a few minutes thinking I might. In the end, I rested. A lot. I don't feel a whole lot more energetic so far today, but I'm not sick like I was yesterday. [You still don't want to know.]

Today, as I am most days, I'm filled with gratitude. Thanksgiving always comes a little early for me. Here's why.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

We've got knitting!

My, my, my, I was busy yesterday.

Finished the other fingerless glove; if electric rates skyrocket as heating oil rates have, I'll be in tall cotton [an expression my husband is fond of saying]. Our house is all-electric, all-the-time, and the heat pump we had installed a couple years ago has saved us tons o' bucks. And we're pretty warm. But you never know; it's always good to have a little hand protection in case this economic slowdown turns into a full-blown recession. Which I fully expect to happen. I'm not an economist, nor do I play one on television. I'm just saying.

I wish, though, that there was a way to just wear the finger part of gloves. My fingertips get colder than my wrists, especially when I'm running! Finger puppets, maybe? Heh.

And the stockings for my son and his family are finally done.

Well, almost done. I have to figure out how to put each of their names on the cuffs. I looked at metal alphabet letters in the scrapbooking section at JoAnne's yesterday, but couldn't figure out how to attach them. I'm not sure hot glue would hold up. I might try "writing" their names with strung beads, which I can sew on fairly invisibly. Any other ideas? I tried Swiss darning a letter on the swatch I felted and it looked horrible. I'm a knitter, not an embroiderer.

Lessee … oh, yeah, I rowed for 45 freakin' minutes yesterday morning. I was a sweaty little puddle when I was done, and my arms were aching last night. My feet are feeling better; the blister on my left foot is almost entirely healed. I'm hoping the pin-prick pain I feel on the callus on my right foot goes away if I just stop running for a while.

A full slate of college football today, and my needles are empty. And today is Designated Rest Day. We can relax and enjoy the competition, since WVU won their game Thursday night. But I'd better find a knitting project or I'll be forced to resort to something like decluttering or dusting while the games are on.

The horror.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Friday Quote Day

A real decision is measured
by the fact that you've taken a new action.
If there's no action,
you haven't truly decided.

“In essence, if we want to direct our lives,

we must take control of our consistent actions.

It's not what we do once in a while

that shapes our lives,

but what we do consistently.”

Self-help books? Been there, done that. But I'll take a good quote from a self-help author any day, if it meets my needs. These two seem to do just that.

Right now, and for the foreseeable future, I need to stick to my weight-training plan, continue doing some kind of aerobic activity and, as always, watch what I eat. And not just what I eat, but how much of it.

The astute among you will notice I said "some kind" of aerobic activity. Hey, I'm a runner. What other kind of aerobicizing would I do? Well, for at least the next couple of weeks it's going to be rowing nowhere.

If I ever needed proof that even a few extra pounds is a few too many, I now have it. My feet are a mess; it's painful to walk, let alone run, although I tried to yesterday. I have multiple blisters, painful calluses and just general discomfort whenever I stand or walk. Rowing, while exerting a little pressure on the balls of my feet, is at least a sit-down exercise and I'm just going to have to suck it up and do it if I want to maintain any cardiovascular health while I heal.

This didn't happen after Country Music. I may have been heavier than I'd hoped to be, but all in all I did better then – in less expensive shoes and with no experience – than I did last Sunday at City of Oaks.

You see, once you start running in races, even when you know you're not going to win, it's about more than just crossing the finishing line. You want to do better than you did the last time. I've managed to do worse. I could make excuses for the Army Ten-Miler because it was just so brutally hot. But conditions in Raleigh could not have been more perfect.

So. No excuses! The decision has been made and the action has been taken. I've done my dumbbell/bench routine twice now, and will do it again Sunday. Three times a week, about 25 minutes per session, plus an almost-daily rowing session of at least 45 minutes. Saturday will be a total rest day.

Laura, I do the weights and then run right afterward. Splitting up a session usually means I don't do whatever the second thing is. I'm not sure what I'll do about weight-training and rowing. Rowing is such a full-body workout I might be too tired to lift right away. And my arms and back are tired after lifting, but I need those for rowing. I think this is just going to be one of those suck it up and do it things. And I forgot you were doing Indy. Isn't PQ doing that, as well?

Mary listed a few of her favorite artists-to-run-to yesterday, and Grumpy Chair is an Eminem fan. And also John Denver. What a combo.

I confess to listening to Eminem, as well. Before I started running, I found "Shake That" to be a pretty good marching beat for walking. But you don't want the explicit version if your children will be tuning in.

The hummus recipe is more of a throw-stuff-together affair than a real recipe. Grumpy Chair mentioned some time ago that she preferred cooked dried garbanzo beans to the canned variety, so I tried that and must agree. There's quite a difference. When I'm making hummus, I overcook them so they're very mushy. [If I want some for salads, soups or stews, I like them a little firmer.]

Hummus-like Dip
Four [or more] cloves fresh garlic, peeled
16-oz. bag of garbanzo beans, cooked until very soft
1/2 cup plain yogurt or light mayonnaise
2 tblsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. hot sauce
2 tblsp. olive oil

In a food processer with chopping blade, process garlic cloves. Add garbanzo beans and process until thoroughly smashed. [No alcohol was involved in this recipe. Heh.] Add yogurt, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce, and mix well. Drizzle in the olive oil.

This makes a lot of dip, maybe four cups? We like it with fresh vegetables or with pita triangles. Nutritional information? Your guess is as good as mine. Since everything in it is pretty healthy, I don't worry about it too much.

Finished the stockings. I need to get a pre-felting photo before I throw them in the washer. I didn't have time to look for sweater patterns yesterday but I did find one fingerless glove without a mate. So I started that. Don't want anyone to be lonely this winter. Heh.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Y'all are so kind to me

I find it difficult to believe that both all of you read yesterday's third piece of drivel and didn't correct me on my obvious day-of-the-week mix-up. I have been traveling a bit lately, and I do confuse easily. So thanks for not pointing out how stupid I am. I'm here to do it for you.

I guess you were just so fascinated with that list of weird stuff about me, right? At least MPA was, and wasn't shy about asking about Item Number Four.

Let's just say it involved driving at night with no headlights on a sidewalk in the heart of a major city. And moonshine. And possibly being overserved. Or maybe even overserving myself.

Yeah, let's say that. The charge was eventually reduced to something like "failure to control." This was back in the early '80s, before the law locked you up and threw away the key. The officer who stopped me sent me home in a cab and impounded my car. Actually it was my dad's car.

Okay, moving on. Except to add that I gave up drinking a long, long time ago, or I'd probably not be here to tell the tale.

Neither None of you made even one guess about the Bob Dylan album missing from my collection. It's absent on purpose; I'm not interested in having it just for the sake of saying I own all of them. Because it was awful. And I know I'd never listen to it. [And I can hear some of you snickering out there, saying, "Only one of them was awful?!?!?"] Dylan is definitely an acquired taste.

I'm going to hit the weight room again today. Heh. And try to run for the first time since Sunday. My quads are still barking – just not as loudly – but I won't be boosting this month's mileage unless I get out there and Just. Do. It. My activity yesterday alternated between sitting on my ass or taking naps. Possibly it was a post-race letdown. Also? You really can't throw three posts up in one day without sitting on your ass. Unless you've got one of those computer stations at which you stand.

Which I don't.

I'm feeling pretty energetic already this morning. I'm cooking a pot of garbanzo beans which will be transformed into hummus later today. Mr. Shrinking Knitter requested hummus and raw vegetables for a late dinner while we watch WVU win their game tonight. I've also started a batch of slow-cooker steel-cut oats.

This chilly weather makes me want soups and stews and oatmeal, oh my. It also makes me want to knit sweaters. I have just a teensy tiny bit left to do on the Christmas stockings which are still in progress, and then I'm going to shop in my yarn closet for something warm and wooly for me. If I start now, I might be able to wear it before spring.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Three posts in one day? I need a life.

M@rla tagged me this morning. And at first I thought it would be easy – just make a list and shoot it off, no thinking about what to write. I thought I'd do this tomorrow, as a matter of fact, since it was going to be so easy.

But coming up with weird, random things about myself is harder than I thought it would be. So I'll follow her lead and only list five, and will do the usual Friday Quote Day tomorrow, since I skipped it last week.

Here are the rules:

1. Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog.
2. Share 5 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3. Tag 5 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they are TAGGED by leaving a comment on their blog.

Five facts about me:
  1. At one time [prior to developing carpal tunnel syndrome] I was a nationally published illustrator.

  2. I can shoe a horse. But I wouldn't want to make a living doing it.

  3. I've met Chuck Yeager, John Glenn and the recently deceased Paul Tibbets, as well as Gary Sandy and Martha Stewart. [This could be a meme all by itself. Who are the notable people you've met?]

  4. I've been arrested.

  5. I have every Bob Dylan album on CD except one. Take a guess.
I'm going to be the spoilsport and not tag anyone. So sue me. Heh. But if you'd like to pick up on the thread, please – consider yourself tagged!

They should pay us to find this stuff out

Here's a big "duh": Obesity is associated with functional impairments, such as the ability to bend over and pick something up.

Read all about it here.

Maybe we should invest in the company that makes those grabber things. Heh.

Easing back into a routine

I did it! I loaded those teeny speakers with AAA batteries, grabbed the iPod and did a half-hour weight-training routine yesterday morning. Without motivational quotes. Just think how much more fun it will be when I get some posters made! Heh.

Three sets, 15 reps, six moves with eight-pound dumbbells, plus a couple more exercises on the bench, which has an extension for working hamstrings and quads. I could only do one set for the hammies. Plus 50 crunches.
Plus a mile-and-a-half walk to the post office and back.

I just about broke my arm patting myself on the back.

Mary asked yesterday, rhetorically I'm sure, how many other 56-year-old women were out there running on Sunday. There were only 22 in my age group. We rocked! [Can you all tell I'm feeling a little better today?] My age-group winner came in in less than two hours. I doubt if I'll ever run even one mile at 6.5mph, let alone 13, so I feel pretty good landing in the middle of that pack.

M@rla, the turbulence workout you do sounds like a great alternative to my bench and dumbbell work. I know it's good to switch off every so often, so I've bookmarked it and will try to remember it when my enthusiasm lags. 'Cause you know it will. Also? It looks like I need to build up some muscle before trying it! M@rla also tagged me – that will have to wait until tomorrow. Thanks, Miss M! I won't have to think of anything to write about in the morning!

My son sent a few photos from race day. He mostly shot video, so no action images, but here I am at the finish, after a snack, contemplating the long, long walk back to the car.

Finally, you'll notice a new link if you scroll down the sidebar to the just plain "Links" section. It's called Free Rice, and it's a fun little word game that provides, um, free rice for the United Nations to distribute to help end world hunger. For those of us who could stand being a little hungry once in a while, this seems like good karma. Thanks to Kia for the heads-up!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Make a new plan, Stan

I was reading about cyclist Lance Armstrong's second New York City Marathon experience yesterday, in which he said: "Just like in cycling, your body weight is a huge factor. … It's no accident that the best in the world weigh 120 pounds."

Well, duh. I don't want to be the best in the world, but I'd like to do better than I did the last time each time I run. That won't always happen, but my excess weight certainly holds me back. I'm pretty sure my feet would be feeling a whole lot better today if there had been less of me pounding the pavement on Sunday.

While I can never even dream of weighing 120 pounds [I blew right by that sometime in junior high school I think], I can visualize myself maintaining 135 or 140 for more than five minutes. At one time I weighed 128. That seriously didn't even last a week. But I stayed around 135 for three or four years, 11 years ago.

As many of you know, this blog is called Shrinking Knitter because I started it as a method of accountability while I lost a bunch of weight. And I did lose a bunch – I've kept 25 to 30 pounds at bay for almost two years now. But I both want and need to lose more.

I've proven to myself that I can maintain a loss. It's time to move on. And down.

If you're still with me, you're probably thinking, "But she's been trying for-freaking-ever, and is doing all the right things and still that scale doesn't budge! She runs a bunch and eats right and what else can she possibly do?"

Quick time-out to show you my mileage for the past three months [plus Sunday's race]:
The thing I'm not doing is strength-training. We all know how vital it is. I know that when I lost 56 pounds 11 years ago, the weight started melting off after I started lifting. It's the one chink in my armor. I start and then stop. It's boring and I don't like doing it. I don't get that sense of accomplishment increasing pounds lifted like I do when increasing miles run.

I don't belong to a gym [there are none nearby here in the Middle of Nowhere], and do my [mostly non-existent] weight training in my garage with dumbbells, a barbell and a bench. I have a set of resistance bands, as well, but have never used them. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and boy, do I ever have good intentions.

What I don't have is a good follow-through.

I've experimented with different things to try to get myself to stick with it, and one of the things that does seem to help is music. Don't laugh at me, please, but I find unplugging the portable iPod speaker system and dragging it to the garage for each session to be enough of a deterrent to not do it at all. I'd call that the epitome of laziness, wouldn't you? So after much thought and a conversation with Lori, I decided just to go ahead and buy another speaker system, one that would stay in the garage.

The cool thing is that I had a $20 credit at and I found some wee little battery-powered speakers for less than $15. I love free stuff! The reviews were enthusiastic and positive and I didn't have much to lose, so I ordered them. They came while I was in Tennessee, but I haven't had even a minute to open or use them yet.

Today's the day. The blister hasn't healed enough for running today. I might try to cushion it somehow and take a short walk. And. I. Will. Lift. Weights. Two sets, 15 reps, lots of arm stuff and as much leg stuff as my quads will allow. If they scream too loudly, I'll do upper body today and lower body tomorrow.

The other thing I'm going to do is print some of the more inspiring Friday quotes in big letters and hang them on the walls of the garage where I can see them. Including …

make a new plan, Stan.

Monday, November 05, 2007

City of Oaks stories/photos

The News and Observer has some good coverage of the race here and here and here, and lots of photos here. SofSK will be sending me the shots he took later this week … I'll get something up next week probably.

Done. But not well-done.

Hello again! Looks like I'll be here [at home] now for a few weeks anyway. Back to normal, whatever that is.

I can't say I'm very happy with how I did in yesterday's City of Oaks Half Marathon, but I'm very happy I finished. I'd hoped to shave at least a couple minutes off my Country Music Half time, but it wasn't meant to be. Here are my stats:
Conditions were perfect – starting time temperature was 40°, no rain, light winds. Nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina in the moooooorning. Heh.

But the hills – oh, the hills. The course was hilly. And did I mention there were hills?

Son of Shrinking Knitter [SoSK] knows the city of Raleigh inside-out, so he and Mr. Shrinking Knitter [Mr. SK] drove through all the back alleyways and side streets to catch up with me [with a camera] throughout the course. At one point, cresting a very steep hill, I asked SoSK if that was the worst of the hills. He kindly told me it was, but on the mini-video he played for me later, he can be heard telling Mr. SK, "I didn't have the heart to tell her it wasn't the worst."

All together now: Awwwwwwwww.

There also was [is] a blister. The first I've ever developed, unless you count the ones I got as a little girl when I couldn't bear to take off my new black patent-leather dress-up shoes. This one is in the center of the ball of my left foot. At about the eighth mile, I stopped to see if there was a pebble in my shoe; there wasn't, so I re-laced and kept going. The 'pebble' was the core of the blister. Five. More. Miles.

Needless to say, I walked a lot.

I must give huge kudos to the organizers of this race. No one ran out of water and sports drink, fuel stops were placed every two miles, there were people cheering us on almost all the way and there was plenty of water, bananas, oranges, pizza, sandwiches and beer for everyone at the finish. [I was soooo not hungry at the end.] They had volunteers to remove the ankle-strap timing chips – I doubt if I could have bent down to do that on my own – and they offered blankets right after we picked up our finishing medals.

And the runners were so friendly. I never had to run alone. I started off with someone I'd met at the Army Ten-Miler, then hooked up with a younger woman who was trying to start off slow – her slow was probably too fast for me to start out, but it's so hard to go slow in the beginning. We did the first three miles in 34 minutes, before she moved on. I also met a young family practitioner and a couple people who knew SoSK. The woman from the ATM crossed the finish line shortly after I did, so we met up with her again.

The entire weekend was great; my new granddaughter is now four months old and smiles and giggles all the time. She rarely cries and is a very happy baby. I was so happy to see her and her parents, and am so grateful for their hospitality and support in doing this race. They both work and they have a new baby and they put this weekend on hold just for me. Many thanks to both of them.

And thanks again to all of you who are my virtual cheerleaders. What would any of us do without you? You make running these races more fun than I could ever have imagined.

Even when I think I could have done better. Thanks!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Just passing through …

The drive home today began at 7:45 A.M. EST and I'm just now, at 6:30 P.M. winding down enough to get a quick post up before taking off again tomorrow. For Raleigh. For a half-marathon! I had to sit in one-lane traffic three times today. The first was for an accident which looked pretty bad. Closer to home I go through two tunnels and wouldn't you know they were doing work on one lane of both tunnels!?! Wonder whose wonderful idea that was.

The time at my daughter's was very fun. My grandchildren don't seem like they're going to give up trick-or-treating quite yet, which gives this candy passer-outer a little more job security. I kicked a soccer ball around the back yard, spent a little bit of time at each of their schools, watched my grandson's Tae Kwon Do lesson [he's so darned cute in his little uniform], played Hangman with both of them, ate out a lot [although I don't think I ate a lot] and generally had a very good time. We packed a lot of activity into four and a half short days.

Oh, yeah. I met Crazy Aunt Purl! Laurie is so cute and enthusiastic and – the best word I can think of to describe her is authentic. Here we are, courtesy of my daughter's excellent photography skills [thanks again, H!]:

And here I go. I need to get some things done tonight before we leave again tomorrow. For a race! On Sunday! In Raleigh! [Just in case I forgot to mention it.]