Thursday, May 15, 2008

One last thing …

If you left a comment here yesterday but haven't heard from me by e-mail, please contact me at shrinkingknitter AT citynet DOT net [you know the drill]. Thanks!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

I only live here

I wasn't born in West Virginia, although my father was. That make me half a Mountaineer. After last night's presidential primary, I'd just as soon not admit it.

My husband is a born-and-bred West Virginian, but believe me we are not your typical mountain mama and redneck hillbilly. More of them made it to the polls than we'd hoped.

Mr. Shrinking Knitter and I worked hard for Barack Obama in West Virginia. Not as hard as some, and I guess any effort was futile. When you hang out with like-minded folks, it's hard to see that you're swimming against the stream. In the past two months we've met some creative, intelligent, forward-thinking, progressive people who truly want to see this country make a change. We found ourselves hopeful that maybe, maybe, West Virginia could be a closer-than-expected win for Billary.

Um, not so much.

More disturbing than the final results, in which Obama won not a single county in this whole freaking state, were the exit polls. Mr. Shrinking Knitter and I watched, horrified, as those results flashed on our television screen in a steady stream, repeatedly defining West Virginians as redneck racists.

West Virginia's five electoral college votes just might make a difference in the final outcome this November, as they would have in the last presidential election.

After last night, I have very little hope of getting it right this time, either.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Friday Quote Day

Knowing is not enough; we must apply.
Willing is not enough; we must do.

~ Johann von Goeth

I'm sure I've said this before, but … DUH!

But then that's how most quotes affect me. I read something pithy and wise said by someone [usually] famous and go, "Wow! I coulda had a V-8!" Or the equivalent thereof.

Today's quote works for sooo many situations, including:
  • Food choices
  • To snack or not to snack?
  • Time spent working out
  • Workout activities
  • Hell, whether to work out at all!
And, of course, today's quote also works when the day ahead looks like a mountain which must be climbed, or else.

This much I know: Everyone responds better to a soft word and a kind heart. I not only need to apply this, I need to be willing to apply it.

I'll get around to working out consistently when life settles down. Which should be, oh, sometime before 2009.

I hope.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

To blog or not to blog

Late in a week during which this post was linked to from both DietGirl and Elastic Waist – heady company, indeed – I find myself with very little time to write anything for newcomers to read.

Mr. Shrinking Knitter and I spent much of the past couple of weeks with his mother [who was finally released from the hospital yesterday], and I will be taking yet another blog break beginning Sunday, one I'm very much looking forward to, as it will mean spending time with my younger and newest granddaughter.

How do you bloggers with jobs, families, workout routines and other interests manage to keep up the blogging pace? I'm fortunate to not work outside my home, my children are grown, I have two easy-to-manage dogs and a husband who knows how to [mostly] take care of himself. Oh, and I like to knit. When I have time.

Knitting was, at one time, an all-consuming passion. I'm sure my children were, at times, thisclose to committing me. My interest in fiber arts has slowed down considerably; three or four [or more!] hours of knitting daily has shrunk to maybe an hour in the evening, while watching the news and Jeopardy. [Oh, my, don't I sound old?]

And workouts? You haven't read much about running or weight-training or rowing lately, have you? I ordered and received the new cable for the rowing machine more than a month ago, but have I installed it yet? Nope. If I had the camera handy, I'd post a photo of the envelope containing the cable, still sitting on the rowing machine waiting for repair.

The dumbbells made it all the way to Florida and back, on the floor of the back seat of my car, where they still are. Actually they're probably under the seat by now. Have I looked for them? What do you think?

The Garmin – a much-coveted running tool and one I'm thrilled to finally own – has accompanied me on exactly one run since its delivery. ONE! Granted the weather has been pretty sucky, but still. There've been at least a couple of nice, run-outside-worthy days in the past month here in the Middle of Nowhere, but I've been otherwise occupied.

I'm looking forward, someday, to life settling down again. In the meantime, I think I may need to take a time management course.

When I can find the time.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I love butter

I know it's rather heretical to talk about butter on a weight-loss blog, but hear me out. I'm one of the [probably] few 'dieters' who still eats real, honest-to-goodness butter. I've flirted with margarine over the years, and even took a turn around the dance floor with Smart Balance Buttery Spread.

But I always come back to butter, for at least a couple of what I think are very good reasons.

First, it's a natural food product. No chemicals, no preservatives, just cow's milk churned into buttery goodness. My butter package lists two ingredients: Pasteurized cream and salt.

Second, there's very little waste. The butter on my grocer's shelf is wrapped in paper, four sticks to a cardboard box. I grew up eating margarine, which was presented in little plastic tubs with lids. I swear my mother saved every one of those containers; they would tumble out of the cupboard every time you opened the door. One company even made their bowls from a fairly heavy plastic. We ate cereal and ice cream from those bowls, which are probably still sitting in the landfill in my childhood home town.

Third, of course, butter tastes great!

And finally, like parmesan cheese, it doesn't take much to satisfy. With butter, a little bit truly does go a long way.
A pat on an English muffin, two on a baked potato, a little melted butter on a bowl of popcorn – just enough to give you that yummy mouthfeel. Molly McButter just can't compete.

Besides, if you use too much it'll stain the front of your shirt. Ask me how I know. Heh.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

After all, tomorrow is another day

Woke up with a slightly elevated temperature, which was back down to semi-normal by noon, when the power went out.

Three hours later the sun popped out for a second, long enough for me to post this, and then the heavens parted. Celestial choirs didn't sing, but the rains came, heavily. I look for the power to go back out again any minute.

As today's title suggests, I'm channeling that scrappy little Scarlet O'Hara.

Manana, y'all.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Monday mishmash

Remember last week when we were talking about habits and excellence and housework and meal plans? [Thanks for your comments – nice to know I wasn't the only one who grew up having meat loaf on Wednesday and fried chicken every Sunday.] My Google home page has a sense of humor; this was yesterday's Quote of the Day:

Another year of Oscars has come and gone; this is the first year in a long time I've actually seen any of the nominated films. Of course I wanted the ones I'd seen to win; alas, the only cheering from the Middle of Nowhere was for Diablo Cody, who took the award for best screenwriting [Juno].

It's not a whole heck of a lot of fun watching the Academy Awards with Mr. Shrinking Knitter. I'd much prefer to be my daughter's sous chef, helping her prepare party food for two days prior to the big night and then keeping the platters full during the telecast while she and her girlfriends dish about the designer dresses. She didn't keep the tradition going when she changed states a few years ago; I forgot to even ask if she decided to have a party this year. [Did you?]

Shrinking Knitter thinks the whole 'who are you wearing' and 'doesn't she look divine' patter is "silly." He "doesn't get it." But since he'd seen the same nominated films I had, he was at least mildly interested, and we now want to see Michael Clayton [currently on Pay-Per-View, how handy is that?] and No Country for Old Men.

Oh, and my favorite dress was definitely Cameron Diaz's. With Helen Mirren a close second. And I hope Ellen Page keeps making movies for the rest of my life.

Since this blog is the Shrinking Knitter, how about some knitting content? The three Big Bad Baby Blankets for the triplets are finished – washed, dried, all the ends have been woven in and clipped off.

I only wish I'd made them a teensy bit larger. They're 28 inches square, which is the size the pattern said to make them, but they look just about big enough to cover a car seat on a chilly morning; nothing more. For future reference, if you're going to make a baby blanket it ought to be at least three feet square. In my not-so-humble opinion.

In addition to a Tiny Kroger, we also have a Tiny Hospital here in the Middle of Nowhere, which is where Mr. Shrinking Knitter's mother has spent the past week. [Tiny Hospital has 30 patient beds, maybe, and if you're a child or pregnant you have to go somewhere else.] ] Yesterday she was transferred to Larger Hospital [but still relatively small] in a nearby town, one with a pulmonary specialist who, we hope, will be able to knock this respiratory infection or bronchitis or whatever she has for a loop. Hospitals really are no place for sick people; she's been declining rather than improving all week.

Since Larger Hospital is about an hour away [as is everything here in the Middle of Nowhere], I probably won't be writing much for the next couple [we hope] of days. I'm taking advantage of this early-morning window of opportunity to fill up your Google Reader and I hope my stats won't fall too far if I miss a day or two.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Friday Quote Day

"We are what we repeatedly do.
Excellence, then, is not an act,
but a habit."
~ Aristotle

And so is, ummm, non-excellence? That would be failure, wouldn't it? Heh.

When you think about it – and why would you think about it, anyway? – our daily lives are just one habit after another followed by another. The morning ablutions, the grab-and-go breakfast, the route you take to work, when you eat snacks/lunch/dinner, evening activities, getting the coffeemaker ready for the morning and, finally, doing whatever you do to soothe yourself to sleep each night. Me? I read.

Without those habits, life would be pretty chaotic. Habits help keeps us organized and on an even keel; they also help us get things done.

Since I don't work outside my home, my workout happens in the morning, and that's one habit I don't want to have to change. I like getting it over with and then getting on with the rest of my oh-so-boring day: laundry, anyone? How about cleaning floors? Or bathrooms?

Once the weather warms up a bit, I'll get back into the strength-training habit. Right now the garage is f-f-freezing and I'm just not interested in torturing myself. I think my fingers might freeze to the dumbbells. Seriously!

When I was a child, my mother had a weekly menu that she followed. I don't remember the days of the week, but I remember that once a week we had fried chicken, meat loaf, some kind of awful stew thing, sloppy joes, etc. I'd kind of like to get into that kind of habit. Maybe a two-week rotation. With Mr. Shrinking Knitter home 24/7, I'm cooking dinner every night and it's been kind of challenging to come up with something new! delicious! nutritious! every night. I need to make a note of the things we really like and come up with a plan.

Do any of you have a set meal plan for each day of the week, or was that a '50s thing?

Thursday, February 21, 2008


It's gotten all the way up to 30°, after an overnight low in the mid-teens. My fingers are freezing as I type.

I finally got an e-mail back from the CMM people; their fees are non-refundable and non-transferable. I thought that meant I couldn't transfer my registration to another person, which it does, but it also means I can't transfer it to another Elite racing event. I don't think I have anything going on in early September, but heck, it's only February. I guess I'll wait a little while before I plunk down the cashmoneybucks for the Philadelphia race. I intend to go, but I want to be a little closer to the magic day before I commit.

The trouble with a fall race is that training in the summer is brutal. Or at least it was last year. But since I'm going to be much thinner and fitter when I train for Philly, I'm sure it'll be a piece o' cake. Heh. Cake. Yummm.

Mr. Shrinking Knitter's mother has been in the hospital since Sunday night and she seems to be getting worse instead of better. I'm kind of afraid to go visit. I've managed to not be sick at all this winter [can you hear me knocking on wood?]. As soon as you get off the hospital elevator all you hear is people hacking and coughing all up and down the hallway.

She has bronchitis, which isn't supposed to be contagious. Even so I stand as far away from her as I can when I'm in her room. I'm sure she thinks I'm being rude. I'd rather be rude than sick.

Thanks for all your feedback about switching races. It really does make the most sense at this time. Since the triplets' dad is a runner [he's the one who inspired me to get back into it], I'm sure there will be lots of races for all of us in the coming years.

Well, if my knees hold out, that is.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

You may have noticed …

a decided lack of weight-loss/running content here in the Middle of Nowhere lately. I think I've mentioned that I'm only going to report weight changes the first of each month. Or as close to the first as I can. I wasn't here the first of February, won't be here the first of March and might not be here the first of April. I love Mr. Shrinking Knitter's retirement!

As for running content, the last really good run I had was in Florida, and that happened almost three weeks ago. Needless to say [but I'm saying it anyway] my training for CMM isn't going so well. Mr. SK and I decided that since the triplets could come any time from mid-April to late May, and we don't want to be away from home when the announcement comes, the best thing would be to cancel the spring race and sign up for a fall one.

Philadelphia, here I come! I haven't actually plunked down the cashmoneybucks yet, but I do feel somewhat relieved to have made a decision.

I'm hoping I can switch my Nashville registration to Philadelphia, thus eliminating the need for the plunking down of more cashmoneybucks. I've e-mailed to see if that's possible, but I haven't heard back yet.

The Middle of Nowhere isn't the best place to train for either a spring or a fall race – too cold/snowy/icy in the winter, leading up to an April event, and too blasted hot in the summer, preparing for an autumn race. Oh. Well.

The other cool thing about not doing a spring race is it gives me more time to really work on weight loss, something that tends not to happen during training. You'd think that if you were running an average of four miles a day, week after week for four months, you might lose a pound or 10. That hasn't happened for me. But not training has resulted in a modest weight loss so far this year, and I'll take it.

So that's what's up with that.

I ate an evening snack last night, for the first time in quite a while. It won't become a habit, I can assure you, but it was fun to act like a "normal" person and have a bowl of popcorn while watching election returns.

Isn't that what the rest of you normal people do? Heh.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Despite how I sounded yesterday, I don't envy the mother-to-be having to live on a couch for the next 10 to 12 weeks. I feel like I should apologize for my remarks; if I sounded insensitive, I truly didn't mean it.

No run or walk or anything physical yesterday. [Well, I did unload the dishwasher and managed two loads of laundry.] I was pretty wiped out, and ended up napping – yes, napping! – and then kind of moving around like a zombie because I'm not accustomed to napping.

I hope today will be a return to some kind of normal. Also? I hope it snows, because I'm still kind of wiped out and I don't want to go get my hair cut. It was supposed to precipitate overnight, but it hasn't started yet. It's much colder, though, so any kind of workout will have to be on the treadmill.

My brand-new Garmin will think I don't like him/her/it.

I'm still working on the backlog of unread blogs I missed over the weekend. One of these days I'll be all caught up again. Probably just in time to take another trip. [There are two on the schedule for March.]

Who knew Mr. Shrinking Knitter's retirement would keep us so busy?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Happy President's Day!

How completely unoriginal is that title? Heh.

Our little getaway was terrific. We visited Mr. Shrinking Knitter's son and daughter-in-law, who are expecting triplets this spring. Late this spring, we hope. The later the better. Mama-to-be looks so good and so healthy. She has a great attitude about having to, basically, live on a couch for the next three months. [She's on bedrest for the duration.] We really enjoyed spending time with them.

What's your idea of heaven? Well, I decided having triplets might be mine. You have to eat between 3500 and 4000 calories daily, and you're not permitted to exercise. What could be better than that? Heh.


I'm really tired this morning. These road trips are finally taking their toll, mostly in my very sore lower back. A good walk will help, and it's fairly warm here in the Middle of Nowhere today, so I might even try it outdoors. I should be able to walk between the rain showers. Tomorrow it gets cold and is supposed to snow and winter returns. You need to make hay while the sun shines.

Or something like that.

B&N didn't have the book I wanted in stock, which is just as well, because I'm not nearly as excited about reading it as I was when I first learned about it.

I'm so fickle.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Friday Quote Day

This cracks me up. In much the same way that Crash Davis cracks me up when he asks Annie Savoy, "How come in former lifetimes, everybody is somebody famous?" [Has it really been 20 years since that movie was released?]

I collect quotes in a file on my computer, but they're all quotes from quote lists or quote sites. I have several books of quotations, but I rarely peruse them looking for Friday Quote Day fodder. It's easier to just cut and paste from my computer collection.

And reading or hearing a good line and then writing it down? Never happens. My daughter has been doing it for years and has an impressive notebook full of handwritten wisdom.

She didn't learn that from me.

I've a feeling the six-word memoir book might provide some inspiring quotes. I'll be in a big city over the weekend – blog break alert! – with a little time for shopping opportunities. I hope B&N has it in stock. For once I don't want to wait for delivery from just to save a little money.

Back on Monday. Y'all behave yourselves over the weekend.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Thin? Rich? I'm working on health.

What an interesting concept.

This post's title is my six-word memoir for today. Subject to change, of course. Who knows what it will be tomorrow? I'm going to look for this book this weekend; Mr. Shrinking Knitter and I will be out of town yet again, and I'm sure there will be time for at least one bookstore stop.

Since it's Valentine's Day, and most of us here are trying to reduce our waist sizes rather than expand them, I offer a virtual sweet snack to all of you, with my thanks for helping me keep on keepin' on throughout the past couple of years. You're the sweetest!

There's plenty of room in the comments for you to add your own six-word memoir. 'Cause I'm nosy like that. Heh.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

This is sooo not Cambell's soup

Looking for a warm, filling and healthy soup for a cold winter's night? Try this, which was inspired by a recipe in the February, 2008, issue of Real Simple magazine. Mmm, mmm, good!

Chickpea and Sausage Stew

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 stalks celery, sliced
2 carrots, sliced
5 links chicken-asiago sausage [or any flavorful sausage], sliced
2 cups chicken stock
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
8 oz. dried chickpeas, cooked and drained
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 large bag fresh baby spinach leaves

In a large skillet, sauté the onion, garlic, celery, carrots and sausage in the olive oil until vegetables are soft and sausage is browned. Remove from heat.

In a large saucepan, heat chicken stock and tomato paste. Add cilantro to stock along with chickpeas. Add vegetable and sausage mixture from skillet and simmer all ingredients until flavors are blended. I simmered this soup for about two hours, but it could have been ready in half an hour.

Just before serving, add spinach leaves to soup and stir until spinach is wilted.

Serves 4-6.

Serve with crusty warm bread; offer herb-infused olive oil for dipping.


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

If a tree falls …

Mr. Shrinking Knitter and I noticed the wind whipping up Saturday night, and it continued to blow hard all day Sunday. We went to church, then out to dinner, then came home and holed up the rest of the day.

Imagine our surprise when we ventured out yesterday and found this down our road on the piece of property where our pond is:

That tree is at least 30 feet tall, and has been there 30 years. It is one of several – maybe eight or nine – standing majestically along the edge of the road. That only one of them toppled is quite a mystery.

This is about as exciting as things get here in the Middle of Nowhere.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Still digging …

Not much going on around the Middle of Nowhere. Still working on reducing the office clutter. Perhaps I should work on reducing hobbies, as well. Stuff for hobbies takes up lots o' space. How many years do I have left, really, to make polymer clay buttons? And I keep adding new hobbies – at least with photography it's all digital and the only space I'm taking up is on my hard drive.

I ran not at all this weekend, but here's the interesting thing: I've actually lost a couple more pounds. [There I go again, jinxing myself.] It's very weird to see a new number on the scale almost every day. It was up today, but we ate out yesterday and, like M@rla, restaurant food and I don't get along.

So here's what I've been doing, foodwise, since we got back from sunny Florida. I came home with fresh citrus, and have been eating either half a grapefruit or a whole orange in the morning. Sometimes I add a string cheese, but not always. I follow that with whatever exercise I'm going to do that day and then I have some Greek-style yogurt with a handful of trail mix afterward. [I ate the last of the yogurt today … sob!] This keeps me satisfied until dinner.

Did you read that? A small bowl of yogurt and trail mix satisfies me all day! Unbelievable.

Dinners have been reasonable amounts of whatever healthful thing I feel like fixing: black bean soup, pasta primavera, broiled chicken, etc., and I don't eat anything else after dinner.

I'm going to keep up this regimen the rest of the month, as much as I possibly can. [There will be another blog break this weekend so Mr. Shrinking Knitter and I can visit the triplets' parents-to-be.] Hopefully I'll continue to see losses in the next couple weeks and will have good news the first of March.

If I didn't jinx myself. Heh.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Progress photos

It simply amazes me how busy I am now that this trip is over. Anyway, I finally got around to taking February's progress picture and then making the January-to-February comparison photo. Ta da!

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know … le même vieux, mêmes vieux [I'm typing that with a French accent.]

Mr. Shrinking Knitter says my face looks thinner, but I think he's just trying to be nice to me. Now that he's home all the time, and can actually see the effort I put into this old weight-loss project, he realizes exactly how frustrating it is for me. When he was working out of town, he said he knew how hard it was, but he didn't really. So his saying nice things is good. Whether he means it, for real, for real, or not.

Due to the absolutely lovely weather we had yesterday, the Garmin got its inaugural run. We did 3.5 miles at an 11:54 pace. Total time: 41:45. I'm delighted with this new toy, especially the little map that shows up when I download the data to my computer. How cool is that? But even a fun new toy couldn't get me to run any faster than I did. Lots o' walking breaks. It was fun to be outside, though. Might get to do it again today, if I run between the raindrops.

Just in time for Valentine's Day, here's an online candy heart generator that will let you write an entire sentence, spread out over three hearts. Be sure to scroll down to see the candy they're selling, as well. What a hoot!

Hope your weekend is full of fun. Back on Monday.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Friday Quote Day

"What does not kill me
makes me stronger."

~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

We've probably all heard or seen [or said] this quote – or a variation thereof – at some point in our lives. Jimmy Buffett used a variation of it effectively in "Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On."

This week of travel, organizing, purging, and moving stuff feels like it's about to kill me, but I keep telling myself it'll all be over soon and the end will justify the means.

Same thing with weight loss, isn't it? Except it's never over.

I know there are many lurkers out there who read this drivel. Have any of you lost a significant amount of weight and kept it off effortlessly for any length of time?

If you've had to expend a great deal of effort, has it been worth it? I can only guess that the answer to that one is "yes," or you wouldn't still be working at it.

I haven't had much of an appetite this week for some reason, resulting in not much of a struggle to stay away from food. I wonder two things:
  • How long will it last?
  • Is something wrong with my stomach?
Isn't it interesting which one is first. Hmmm.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Moving Day, Part Deux

I've spent some of this dreary day moving the computer equipment yet again. Thus, no early-morning post. Not posting first thing today is a prelude to switching to evening posting. I think.

My computer system includes a tower, a large CRT monitor, a keyboard, two printers, a scanner and a variety of other smaller peripherals plugged into a couple of surge protector strips. And a hub, since the tower doesn't have nearly enough USB ports.

The office is 25x30 feet, the east wall of which is almost all countertop mounted on a variety of base cabinets. The computer and its attendant accessories used to be on the right side of the counter, and I felt like they kind of assaulted anyone who opened the door at the top of the stairs. Everything is now on the left side of the counter, certainly not out of sight but at least not the first thing you see when you enter the room.

I still need to get a printer cart. The two printers take up a lot of valuable real estate on the countertop, and I think having them out of the way would be good.

What remains to be done, in the way of organizing stuff around here, is culling crap from filing cabinets and figuring out where the rest of the supplies in my old office can live in the new office. That'll take some time.

And, finally, once we have an empty room in the house again, we'll be able to create a nice, cozy little den. I'm looking forward to that.

I'm also looking forward to a longer run tomorrow. I ran out of gas on the treadmill this morning only a little over two miles into the run. Temperatures should be warmer tomorrow and I might get to run outside with my new friend.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Good to be back

Sort of.

As we traveled north, what I missed seeing was color. Florida is one colorful place, from the moment you cross the border and receive your free sample of orange juice, to the blue-blue sky, to the blood-red sunsets, to the riot of tropical colors in the architecture.

West Virginia? Not so much.

Really, it is good to be home again. The dogs were beside themselves when we fetched them from the kennel. I hate leaving them, and I'm sure they hate living in a crate – albeit a large one, and with plenty of outdoor time – for a week. Having them home again makes leaving the sunny south worth it.

My weight stayed the same, despite conch fritters, shrimp scampi and my dad's good cooking. The food prize of the week was finding Greek-style yogurt at a Publix near our hotel, which I ate for breakfast every day I was there.

The other food prize was going to a grove to buy oranges – honeybells are in season, and I got some red oranges, as well. The grove store had a large selection of sugar-free products, so I picked up some marmalade to try. I hope it's better than Smucker's. Heh.

Did I run? Yes, I did. It was great to run a long, wide loop instead of the usual out-and-back routes I take here in the Middle of Nowhere. I did 4.6 wonderfully flat miles Wednesday and Thursday and 8.25 Saturday.

Saturday started out good until I caught the toe of my shoe on a curb and went sprawling on the sidewalk. I have several battle scars to show for it – right forearm, left knee and the palm of my left hand, where I broke the fall. Didn't break any bones, though, and the blood/pain was minimal, so I kept going.

I lifted my dumbbells from their storage place in the garage to the floor of the car and that was it. But I got a lot of those 16-pound – now 17-pound – curls because my son, his wife and their daughter were able to join the reunion for the weekend. Her great-grandpa was thrilled to meet her, and my son went to a lot of effort to make it happen.

My dad's doing well. Thank you for all your good wishes for his health. Mr. Shrinking Knitter and I tried not to wear him out, but he was so eager to take us places and so willing to do the driving that we couldn't say no.

I probably won't get through all your blog posts from the last week. Hope it was as terrific for you as it was for me.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Well, it's not all that cold out this morning, so I made a pot of coffee, dumped it in a carafe and ventured over here to the garage/office in the dark. Because there's really not much to do in the house at 6:30 a.m.

I still have to install a keyboard tray, because the surface we put the computer on is too high for comfort. The tray has been purchased and put together. I'm at a stopping point for want of a drill. I've made it to my mid-50s without one, and it's not likely I'm going to need one again soon. I'm going to see if I can borrow one from a neighbor. Perhaps he'll take pity on me and actually drill the holes as well.

It's been four weeks since my last official weigh-in. I weigh myself daily, but if I reported daily or even weekly numbers it would be too depressing for both you and me. Monthly accountability is the best I can do, and I'm shocked and thrilled to say that I lost 2.5 pounds in January. That's two-thirds of a pound per week, which is better than I expected.

If I keep this up, I'll be at a comfortable weight by St. Patrick's Day of 2009. And since my 40-year high-school reunion will be that summer, I think the timing is perfect. I wouldn't want to get to goal too soon; I might gain it back before the big party. Heh.

I promised I would do monthly progress photos, but February's is going to be late. Mr. Shrinking Knitter and I are taking a little trip to the sunny south – blog break alert! [Sob! There go my stats!] I'll either take a picture while we're gone or as soon as we get home again.

We've had this trip planned for a couple of months. Serendipitously, my dad, whom we're going to visit, is getting out of the hospital today. Hopefully we'll be of some help to him and his wife. He needed a long weekend of IV antibiotic therapy.

If ever there were an in-your-face reason to keep plugging away at this healthy body stuff, it would be my dad. He is obese, has Type II diabetes and has had bilateral knee replacements. He takes a handful of medications four times a day, as well as a daily injection, to manage his blood sugar, blood pressure, pain and probably some other stuff I don't know about.

He's also the best example I know of how to face adversity with grace and good humor. And he's the first one to tell you that if he'd known he was going to live this long, he'd have taken better care of himself.

As much as I get discouraged about my slow downward progress, I will keep plugging away. If I were to quit, all I need to do is look at him to see my future.

My running schedule is a little wacky this week. Yesterday's easy run was great – I was able to run outdoors, I ran three miles instead of the prescribed two and my pace was faster than the suggested 13:25. Tomorrow is speedwork day, but I'm going to do it today. We'll be driving for two days, but on Friday and Sunday I'll be able to run in Florida! Flat land! Warm weather! Gentle breezes! Palm trees!

That's probably enough exclamation points for one post. Maybe even five. Heh.

Y'all play nice while I'm gone …

Monday, January 28, 2008

Moving day

Mr. Shrinking Knitter and I have determined that today's the day to move the computer to the second-floor office of the garage.

I need a moment. To sob.

I spend a couple of early-morning hours in front of this screen, writing and reading and surfing, almost every day. I'm not sure how easily or often that's going to happen when I have to creep out in that cold and dark hour before sunrise to log on. [Our garage is not attached to our house and, um, it's winter here in the Middle of Nowhere.]

We shall see. Blog posts may happen later in the day, and workouts may happen earlier. That might not be a bad thing, all in all.

Speaking of workouts, I'm about ready to start weight-training again, after the minor snow-shoveling injury. I rearranged things in the garage yesterday to make my little workout area more inviting. I have lots of wall space for the poster and inspirational quotes. Photos to come. Someday.

And speaking again of workouts, I did six treadmill miles Saturday at a 13:12 pace, slightly faster than the schedule called for [13:25]. That's pretty slow, I know, but it was a challenge. I can really tell that my fitness level has declined since last fall. I can also tell that I'm improving since I did the home surgery on my right foot. It makes such a difference to run pain-free. Imagine that!

Today is an easy-peasy two miles at the same slow pace. I might get to do them outside, if I wait until later. We're supposed to reach a high of 50° sometime today. My last outdoor run was January 12 – seems like longer than that.

Congratulations to Jess on a great finish in the Miami Half-Marathon. Her recap is full of enthusiasm, and makes me want to keep on running.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

We don't need no stinkin' skinny

I woke up early this morning – earlier than usual, and usual is usually early – and caught up on a lot of blogs. Laurie said:

Makes you think, "I wonder what else I can do that I always thought I had to be skinny to do? I wonder where I can go, see, visit that I just assumed I'd get to once I was skinny?"

Laurie is young enough to be my daughter, but she is One Wise Woman.

I always thought I had to be skinny – or at least look like a runner – to run a race. But 15 years ago, when I did look like a runner, I was far too unsure of myself to register for one.

I can't remember a time when I haven't been uncomfortable doing or trying something new. I hate the awkwardness of not knowing how to accomplish something I've never done before, and races are not just running long distances. They are getting to the starting line, pinning on a bib, lacing a timing chip to my shoe, going to the bathroom and hoping I won't have to go again before the gun fires.
[It helps tremendously to have someone – in my case, family members who live in the towns I've run in – take care of parking and not getting lost and a hundred other things I could add to my list.]

And all the time I'm doing this, I'm thinking, 'I don't belong here, I don't look like these people, what are they thinking about me, who do I think I am? Oh, and I hope that half a banana was enough breakfast, but not too much.'

Such a negative litany when, in fact, everyone on that course is thinking of themselves. Certainly not the same crap I'm thinking, but they don't have room in their heads to be worried about someone else, especially someone who is behind them.

The other day when I made my race-day confession about hoping I wasn't the fattest woman on the course, some of you chimed in with similar concerns. You made me feel less alone, less awkward, less different. Thank you for that.

And this morning, as I read Laurie's thoughtful post, I realized that, while it's taken me a few years to get over it, already, I can do some pretty amazing things. And I didn't have to be skinny to do them.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Friday Quote Day

Nobody succeeds
beyond her wildest expectations
unless she begins
with some wild expectations.

~ Ralph Charell

That quote holds such hope and excitement, promise and enthusiasm, doesn't it? If you're gonna dream, dream BIG!

I don't even know how to write about it, actually. I know right off the bat my expectations have usually been pretty tame. I suppose I rein them in to reduce the possibility of crushing disappointment. But … what would happen if I put something spectacular out there on the horizon?

Implicit in the quote is that along with the expectations must come some effort in order to achieve them. Success doesn't happen on luck and a promise; we need to plan, prepare, make an effort, do the footwork, recognize what works and ditch what doesn't. Who among us puts quite this much analysis into a project?

Maybe that kind of evaluation is exactly what's needed to achieve a great big goal.

Ya think?

Thanks so much for your thoughts yesterday on clutter-busting. I've heard of the study suggesting some people with weight issues also can be hoarders. Even Flylady has made the connection between body clutter and "stuff" clutter. I actually dug into the office "stuff" yesterday, and even wrote down several areas of interest I need to organize the "stuff" into. It's a start.

My mileage is on track so far this week, although I had to split the Wednesday run into two days. I've slacked off on drinking water again – I find it very difficult to drink two liters of water on a cold winter day. But I'm still on track with the other behavior changes and am astonished that I still haven't had an evening snack.

If you had a wild expectation, what would it be?

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Mr. Shrinking Knitter and I are getting ready to move my little office from our house into a bit of space in the large office/family room which is otherwise known as "upstairs" – the second floor of the garage. We designed the garage together and had it built about five years ago, I think. It seems like it's always been there. And it's always been his office.

We'd like to turn my office in the house into a tiny den/TV room, as neither of us really likes having a television in the bedroom, and our living room – well, there's no place to put one. On one side of the room is a large fireplace; the other walls are all sliding glass doors. We did not design the house.

In order to accomplish this move, I need to go through filing cabinets, bookshelves and storage bins to weed out what I no longer need and to determine what will go where. In other words, it's time to purge.

But I don't wanna.

We've already had a two-line phone jack installed, in order to hook the computer up to the very slow dial-up internet connection. [While arranging for this, a Verizon representative told me it looks like broadband will be in this part of the Middle of Nowhere February 17. I'll believe it when I see it.]

At any rate, I'm at a point where if it is to be, it's up to me. And I Just. Can't. Get. Started. It's overwhelming. I need Flylady standing over me, cracking the whip every 15 minutes.

I'm a crafty kinda gal. I need a clear surface for working on paper crafts, beading and bookmaking. And the stuff one needs to do these crafty things takes up space. I have several storage tubs full of supplies, as well as a six-cube storage unit stuffed full of, well, stuff. Most of my yarn and knitting tools are already up there; at least that's done.

What does this have to do with weight loss or getting healthy? Not much. But maybe talking about it here will spur me on to some action.

Thank goodness this inertia hasn't migrated over to the fitness part of my life. I'm following my training program to the best of my ability, which is to say I'm not quite getting the mileage in for the speed drills, but I'm pushing myself farther each week. Speed drills have always been my least favorite part of training. Fartleks – a Swedish word for 'speed play' – are more likely to happen than a sustained 11-minute mile.

I'm going to make up the missed mileage from yesterday sometime today. I was supposed to have done five; I did three. About half of that was at 5.5 mph, and I felt good when I was done. But it wasn't long before I felt really drained and, consequently, no work got done in the office.

Hopefully these almost-daily runs will become routine soon, and I can work on the rest of my life.

Since this post isn't terribly inspiring or motivating, I invite you to go visit Jonathan, who has some really terrific thoughts on how losing weight has changed more than his body. He really does maintenance well, and offers lots of good reasons for continuing to whittle away the pounds, if that's what you're trying to do.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Sleep tight

I occasionally have trouble sleeping, meaning I'll go three or four days with very little sleep, followed by a crash and burn.

Last night was a blessedly wonderful crash-and-burn night.

I slept for 11 hours, which is approximately the total number of hours I'd gotten since Friday.

I usually volunteer at the prison on Tuesday night, so I made sure another volunteer would be there before I bagged it. Mr. Shrinking Knitter even volunteered to drive me if I felt strongly about going.

As it was, I was asleep before my prison meeting would have started. Good thing I didn't go … you never know what a room full of rowdy prison camp inmates would do with a sleeping volunteer. Heh.

Yesterday morning was spent running errands – a doctor's appointment for my husband and a Sam's Club run. With the economy slumping as it is, we felt like stocking up on non-perishables. There was no room left in the back of the PT Cruiser when we finished shopping. Now I have to rearrange the garage in order to store all the napkins, paper towels and sandwich bags I thought we might need for, oh, a year or two.

Anyway, I tried to nap in the afternoon but naps don't happen unless I'm sick. I can't say I feel 100 percent this morning, but I feel better, and I certainly couldn't go back to sleep right now, even if I tried.

No intentional activity was accomplished yesterday, unless you count moving 40-pound bags of water softener salt and dog food from the store to the car and the car to the garage. Today's schedule is another round of speedwork. Alternating jogs/fast runs sandwiched between a mile warmup and cooldown. With my New! Improved! foot, I should actually be able to do okay. I don't anticipate an 11:06 mile at this stage, but I might be able to do an 11:06 lap. Maybe I'll do treadmill fartleks.

Anything is better than nothing, right?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Dear Scale,

Please accept my apology for offering even the merest hint of a loss this past Saturday. I worried about offending you by mentioning the little gift you'd given me last week, and you've certainly let me know, under no uncertain terms, that in the future we need to keep things between ourselves.

I'm so very sorry for offending you, and I promise never to mention any progress whatsoever prior to an official weigh-in day.

May I please have that two-pound loss back by next week? I'm doing my best – drinking water, avoiding sugar, eating vegetables, logging every morsel, running and weight-training. I'm not sure what else I can possibly offer as a sacrifice to prove my worthiness.

I don't mean to imply that you're stingy, though, I'd never do that. Half a pound in three weeks is wonderful. Thank you so much for that crumb of hope.

Now that my foot pain is gone, I'll be able to run longer and faster, just like I did yesterday. Did I mention I made it up to 5 mph for a couple laps? I knew you'd like that.

Anyway, I just want to let you know that I still want to be friends, and I promise I'll never betray your confidence again. I've truly learned my lesson. I look forward to our short daily visits – really, I do! – and I hope you'll find it in your heart to show me some forgiveness next Tuesday.

Your lifelong slave friend,
The Shrinking Knitter

Monday, January 21, 2008

My decorating project

Remember when I was going to put up motivational quotes and posters on the garage walls, and I bought a little speaker system for the iPod so I didn't have to drag the one from the house over to the workout area, and I was going to really bust ass [and biceps and abs] with the strength-training routine?

And then I hurt my shoulder?

Well, I've been testing the waters, as it were, and I'm doing pretty well. I think it's helping my shoulder, actually, to lift some weights – like physical therapy, only I don't have to pay!

I've yet to put up the posters and quotes, but that will change as soon as I get a frame for this. My daughter took the photo [and inspires me daily with her photographic eye] and, when I asked if she'd send me the image on a CD so I could print it out for my garage wall, she instead ordered a poster-sized print and had it sent to me.

She'll do it for you, too. But you'll have to pay. Heh.

I'm going to have the coolest garage in the Middle of Nowhere.

I have a football hangover this morning, and am beyond disappointed that the Old Guy didn't come through in the clutch. But Peyton's little bro' took care of business and, truly, the Giants deserved the win. The Packers seemed bent on self-destruction in that disastrous third quarter. How many penalties? Three? Four? I stopped counting.

As for the earlier game. Patriots over the Chargers. Who saw that coming? Yawn.

Since I'm training for a half-marathon, maybe I should mention that I ran six miles on the treadmill Saturday. I rule! I didn't like it and I wasn't fast and the ball of my right foot still hurt. I wondered all weekend if I should even keep training. Then last night I decided to take matters into my own hand – literally – and perform what Wendy calls "home surgery."

No sharp objects were involved in the operation, unless you count fingernails. If you gross out easily, STOP READING HERE.

I kept digging at that callous until I removed, literally, three little tiny pieces of fossilized flesh. I've always said the sensation I felt was like a pinprick. Now? Gone! I haven't tested it by running yet, but there's an easy run on the schedule for today and for the first time in ages I'm looking forward to it. No matter how hard I press down on the ball of my foot, I feel no pain. None.

I spent $300 last year searching for a shoe that didn't hurt my foot, when all I needed to do was a little self-mutiliation. Who knew?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Course correction

It came to me in a moment of clarity yesterday that there was no freakin' way I'd be ready to run a full marathon this spring. I was supposed to run nine miles today, on the treadmill. I nearly cried at the prospect.

This is supposed to be fun. In order to make it fun again, I've made an executive decision to stick with the half. Today's long run is six manageable miles.

I may be ready for a full next spring, depending on the amount of weight I lose this year. [How's that for positive thinking?] And I'm setting a definite goal of running a full on or near my 60th birthday, which isn't until 2011. That gives me plenty of time to not only condition myself, but maybe, perhaps, hopefully, even look like a runner.

One of the things I'm acutely aware of when I – heh – "race" is that I don't look like most of the women out there. I'm soft and pudgy and short. I'm always checking to see if there's anyone bigger than I am on the course. I know that's horrible, but there it is – my dirty little running secret.

They, on the other hand, those real runners are strong, lean and tall, with defined muscles and nice tans. And cool clothes.

There I go again, comparing myself to people I don't even know, most of whom I will never see again.

My training last winter was fun, and all I wanted each week was to do better than I'd done the previous week. My body amazed me. I remember the first time I ran seven miles. SEVEN!!! I also remember collapsing for the remainder of that day, but still. I ran seven miles; I'd never done that before.

This time I've done that and more. I could get that thrill by running 14 or 18 or 20 miles, I know I could. But I wouldn't be able to walk the next day. The extra weight I'm dragging around is hard on my joints and especially hard on the soles of my feet.

And it's hard on my spirit, too. I've done really well this week with those little things. It hasn't been as hard as I thought it would be to stop eating before 6:30 p.m., to drink two liters of water each day or to log every morsel. The scale has given me a tiny gift; I'm hoping I still have it on Tuesday, which will be the three-week point in this year's effort. Only then will I feel like I can report any progress.

Mr. Shrinking Knitter made it home just fine, about 8 o'clock last night. He isn't anxious to go back, which is unusual because he considers Vegas the ultimate vacation destination, and he's always ready to go to Vegas. Maybe this is a course correction for him, as well.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Friday Quote Day

"Most people seem to want
tremendous improvement, instantly.
But you'll probably find
it's the little things you do
that eventually add up to big results."

~ Joel Weldon

Is that the same thing as "hope springs eternal?"

The daily weigh-in has been less traumatic this week. Do you think, maybe, it might have something to do with, oh, not snacking at night? Or drinking massive quantities de l'eau?

I missed doing any kind of intentional activity yesterday, opting instead to shovel a bit of snow. I didn't get much done before our neighbor came by in his tractor with the snowblade on the front. He cleared the entire driveway and parking area in 10 minutes; it would have taken me two hours, at least. And, truthfully, my left shoulder was so happy to see him. It's killing me this morning; it has been feeling so good lately that it didn't occur to me that shoveling snow might not be a Good Thing.

Yesterday was my last chance to have popcorn for dinner; Mr. Shrinking Knitter will be home today. When I have a popcorn-for-dinner day, I usually have it later in the evening. You know, like a snack. Yesterday I ate popcorn watching the news. It felt weird and wasn't nearly as much fun.

So. Back to those little things. Two liters of water seems to be the right amount for me. Not snacking in the evening isn't as hard as I thought it would be. I'm looking at the daily appointment with the scale as information, not a value judgment.

Logging my food intake does two things. I'm determined to record everything, which helps put the brakes on quantities. And, of course, it gives me an idea of the total number of calories I'm eating.

I do want tremendous improvement, instantly. It's the American way, n'est pas? But I've wanted it for two years now and I haven't gotten it.The Universe must be trying to teach me a lesson about delayed gratification.

Ya think?

Thursday, January 17, 2008


Well, it looks like I get another day to myself and the weekend trip will be cancelled. [Blog break alert cancelled, as well.]

The Middle of Nowhere is in the middle of yet another winter storm alert, this time for real. And Mr. Shrinking Knitter's flight, headed from out west for Atlanta, was cancelled. I probably knew about it before he did, since Delta was kind enough to send an update at 4 a.m.

Not that I saw it then, of course. I was still blissfully asleep.

Nope. More than likely he went all the way to the airport to find out he gets another crack at the Vegas blackjack tables.

Now to answer a couple of questions from yesterday's comments.

From Jeannie, regarding the too-big sweater: "I see so many women who make themselves clothes that are far too big. I think it may have to do with the self-image. Did you knit to gauge? Did you just pick the wrong size to knit?"
I did get the correct tension PRE-blocking, but the gauge changed after blocking. It was interesting – the sleeves grew, but the body got shorter, which was the opposite of what I would have preferred. I probably could have knit the next size smaller, but my experience with this pattern [Cottage Creations' Wonderful Wallaby] is that they tend to run small. Ah, well. I love to knit and enjoyed making it.
And from MPE: "How does the logging food work? it seems so tedious but i think i might need to start."
I use a program called CalorieKing to track my food and exercise. Since I'm still on dial-up [but have heard rumors that we're soon getting wireless or broadband or DSL, oh my], it took a long time for me to enter things in FitDay, which is probably the most popular online service. At the time I was ready to buy standalone software, CalorieKing was the only program that worked on the Macintosh platform. I've been very pleased with it.

SparkPeople is another great site to help you plan and track meals and exercise.
If anyone out there recommends something else, feel free to jump in with a comment.

So how did I do yesterday with nixing the evening snack, drinking tons o' water and logging
food? I'll take a high five for all three!

I highly recommend drinking water earlier in the day, rather than later, and definitely prior to 9 p.m., however. I'm just saying.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Yet another too-big sweater

Somehow I knew the modified Wallaby was going to overwhelm my shortness about halfway through the raglan decreases. I switched to a size smaller needle and increased the rate of decreases, which helped correct the depth of the armsceyes, but the sweater still was just too big after I blocked it. That's two in a row, kids. Maybe I should take some measurements next time. Mine and a post-blocked swatch.

It turned out nicely, and I'm not about to take apart a beautifully made and perfectly good sweater. It's on its way to Indiana, where a wonderful friend who is several inches taller than I am should look great in it. And if she doesn't care for it, I hope she'll pass it on to someone else.

Two weeks into this new year, I've taken another look at my list of things that worked for me in 2006. I'm doing four of the nine things consistently. One of them – a monthly progress photo – has only needed to be done once, so it really doesn't count. But I'm still not:
  • planning my menus
  • eliminating the evening snack
  • drinking tons of water
  • writing down what I eat
Since I'll be out of town this weekend [blog break alert!], planning menus probably would be futile. I can, however, pick one of the other three to really concentrate on with the hope that it will once again become a habit. And since that snack thing is next on the list, I'll just pick that and do my best.

But I'm also going to try to be more consistent with food journaling, and there are four bottles of water on my kitchen counter, waiting for me to guzzle down during the course of the day.

Never let it be said that I'm not an all-or-nothing kinda gal.

Despite daily exercise [with one rest day per week], no sugar, daily blogging and a daily weigh-in, I'm half a pound heavier than I was January 2. It's really not hard to see that, for me anyway, it's more about the food than it is about intentional activity.

Back to knitting: The chocolate brown yarn came for the first of the triplets' blankets. I've done about four inches of all-seed-stitch, all-the-time so far [the blanket has a six-inch seed-stitch border]. I decided to do the brown one first for two reasons: It's the hardest color to work on [old eyes], so I'm getting it over with first, and I didn't have to go digging in the yarn closet for the cream or the blue. All I had to do was open a package and cast on.

Maybe my sloth has something to do with the menu planning/evening snacking/drinking water/food journaling issues.

Ya think?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Out of sight, out of mind …

works very well for me with yarn.

My yarn collection is mostly stored in one large cedar-lined closet in the second-floor office of our garage. The overflow is in a wicker trunk in the guest bedroom. Beside and atop the trunk are various boxes and bags of yarn – the more recent purchases.

When I decide I want to knit something, I'll go to the yarn closet first and find that nothing – nothing – is suitable. We're talking about a five-foot by 10-foot closet with stuffed-to-the-gills storage cubes stacked floor to ceiling on each wall. To find everything in there, I would have to empty each individual cube. It's easier to order something new.

I'm sometimes seduced by yarn – not so much the fiber itself, but a nice wool in a good color at a great price will instantly melt my credit card. Thus I stay away from places like Elann and eBay and Webs and Knitpicks – and if you love nice yarn at great prices, I suggest you back away from those links. Heh.

Does 'out of sight, out of mind' work with food? Sometimes it does for me. All of our food is stored in either a closed pantry, the refrigerator or the freezer. The exception is baking stuff – flour and sugar are on the top two shelves of a kitchen cupboard. When I want to eat, I have to open doors, assemble ingredients, pull out utensils, and chop, mix, stir, cook or otherwise prepare something.

Prior to last year's annual July 4th reunion, I bought some packaged snack foods – chips and Chex Mix – and tucked them in a non-working, built-in microwave. [When this house was built, it was equipped with all the latest gadgets, which are now 25 years old. To replace that microwave means replacing the entire oven/convection oven/microwave unit. Since everything else works, we replaced the broken built-in with a countertop model. Instant storage!]

Well, today's trash day, and those snacks are heading down to the end of the driveway. It's pretty incredible to me that I've had packaged, processed crap in my house for half a year and didn't even remember it was here.

'Out of sight, out of mind' isn't working so well for me when it comes to Mr. Shrinking Knitter. He's in Las Vegas, a combination Christmas/retirement present trip, and won't be back until Thursday night. I thought I would enjoy a few days to myself, to eat popcorn for dinner or stay in my pajamas all day.

All I can say is, his retirement seems to be working very well for us.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Two outta three ain't bad

I experienced almost total football immersion this weekend and came away mostly happy with the results. The Colts won't be defending their championship, but Peyton's little brother fought for the chance to move the New York Giants to the next round, and Brett's Packers [now there's a Comeback Kid] will be the Giants' next opponent.

There's no question where my loyalty lies: I'll be rooting for the old guy.

That probably sounds like a foreign language to those of you who don't follow football. M@rla.
Heh. Translation:

Packers won.
Giants won.
Colts lost.

Thus the title of this post, with apologies to Meat Loaf.

Seven outta eight ain't bad, either. Saturday morning found me on my old, familiar four-mile road, ready to do an out-and-back eight-miler. I haven't run anything even close to that distance since November 4 – the City of Oaks Half-Marathon.

I didn't have to run fast – which is a good thing, because I never run fast – just farther than I have in far too long. I did pretty well [for me] the first four – 51:10 total time – but my ass was dragging most of the way back. I willed myself through the seventh mile by doing a 1:4 walk:run and by promising myself I could walk the last mile.
Total time was 1:32:13, for a 13:11 pace. The schedule suggested a 13:25 pace.

I wish I had a Garmin. Perhaps if I were able to slow myself down I could actually run for a longer period of time.

I'll tell you what, though – I felt old, old, old when I got back home.

Today is a grey, dreary day, with low clouds, no sun and the prediction of snow. It is, in fact, spitting those tiny little snow pellets right now. Mean little snow pellets, not those big, fat, friendly flakes that define the beauty of winter.

My, my, my I'm in a weird mood. Perhaps I need to release some endorphins. On the treadmill. Like, three miles' worth, maybe? Wish me luck.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Two down

Sometime in the past I noted in my electronic calendar that today marks the second anniversary of this blog. However, when I went back to the very first post, it was actually January 10, 2006. Instead of a day late and a dollar short, make it two.

So two years and two days ago – there is a bit of symmetry in that – I found the magic of the blogosphere.

The biggest deal the first year was that Mr. Shrinking Knitter and I ran away to Las Vegas to get married. I can never call him the Spousal Equivalent again. We agree that tying the knot was one of our better decisions.

The second year found me running not one, but two half-marathons and a grueling 10-miler and, sadly, not losing an ounce of weight in the process.

The most important event of 2007 was the arrival of my second granddaughter, my son and daughter-in-law's first child and a new cousin for my granddaughter and grandson. She is now six months old, sitting up, eating cereal and taking two-hour naps. We learned later in the year that Mr. Shrinking Knitter's son and his wife were expecting triplets. They'll be here this spring
, thus doubling the number of grandchildren in one swell foop.

I did a lot of knitting, a lot of healthy eating [today marks two full months of being sugar-free. Again.], a lot of running and, well, a lot of writing. My blog stats have gone up, along with my spirits, and I'm blessed – truly – to have virtually met so many supportive and caring people.

You've extended yourselves in so many ways to help me along this sometimes torturous path to health and fitness. I'm quite sure I'd have thrown in the towel long ago if you hadn't been holding my hand.

So thanks. Lots.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Friday Quote Day

"Some things you have to do every day.
Eating seven apples on
Saturday night
instead of one a day
just isn't going to get
the job done."
~ Jim Rohn

While today's quote mentions food, I'm posting it to remind myself of the necessity for daily exercise. Call it what you will – intentional activity, getting off your ass, moving more – it all comes down to the "E" word. Just like vitamins and caffeine, you ought to have some every day. Heh.

Starting January 2, the only day I haven't recorded at least 30 minutes of running, weight lifting or cross training was last Sunday. I told myself I needed a day of rest when, in fact, half an hour of anything would have been better than nothing at all.

I know it sounds like I'm grrr-ing at myself, but here's the thing: Two years ago, I was recording an hour of something almost every day. Most days it was a combination of two or three things – treadmill-rower-weights, or yoga-walking outside.

When I belonged to a fancy-schmancy gym in Ohio, I wouldn't leave until the total number of calories I burned, according to the readouts on the machines [which aren't accurate but at least are a benchmark] was 1000.

Again, that's ONE THOUSAND. Believe me, the weight melted off. Fifty pounds in five months.

Last year, when race training started, I did only what the plan said to do. Nothing extra. If it was a cross-training/rest day, I opted to rest more often than not. I ran three or four days a week, as prescribed, limited my stretching to my lower limbs and told myself that training for a race was enough.

Clearly, it wasn't. Is it any wonder I'm not losing any weight?

The down side is, sadly, my body needs to burn more calories than your average bear in order to release fat.

The up side is, for some reason today it's very evident to me that I need to put more effort into this project. Period.

Thanks so much for your music suggestions yesterday. I tuned into a satellite music channel of techno/dance music while I did the treadmill, and managed to kick the pace up a bit without panting.

My weight training consisted of moving large pieces of exercise equipment. Picture this: A two-story garage on one side of the house and a storage building on the other. Here's what Mr. Shrinking Knitter and I moved:
  • A gym-quality, non-working Stairmaster from garage level one to storage building.
  • A weight bench and plates from one side of garage level one to the other.
  • A rowing machine from garage level two to garage level one.
And of course you can't move all that stuff without sweeping debris from the garage floor and vacuuming the carpet on level two, can you? I have a lovely kind of achy feeling in my upper back this morning. Like I actually used some muscles, instead of just going through the motions.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

I got the music in me …

and here's why it works.

I haven't run outdoors with music in a long time, preferring to retain the ability to hear cars coming up behind me rather than get splattered all over the road listening to the theme from Rocky.

Indoors, though, if I'm not interested in SportsCenter, a good beat helps with pacing, and that article explains a bit of the science behind it.

Yesterday, though? Not so much.

I had a car service appointment in the late morning, and since it was rainy and windy early, I did, indeed, hit the treadmill. I was disappointed with my performance, to say the least. I was running-running-keep-on-running in time to something that was way too fast for my current level of fitness. My treadmill has a heartrate monitor [the grip kind], and while I don't know how accurate it is, I do know I've never seen a 190 readout. Since Mr. Shrinking Knitter was gone, I felt it best to slow down for a bit, and then to switch to the rowing machine.

So Wednesday's speedwork ended up being a bit of a bust. I'm going to try again today. The rain we're supposed to have should be intermittent; I'm sure I'll find a window of opportunity in which to walk one/run three/walk one sometime today. Heck, the way the weather prognosticators have been missing the mark lately, I can probably work it in any time. If it weren't for my one-shower-a-day rule, I could have done it yesterday afternoon, as it was really lovely.

Seven minutes into my 20-minute rowing session, the cable broke. That was a bit of a surprise, although I've been using the rower pretty consistently for more than 12 years. For all my disorganization in household matters, I was able to find the instruction book within five minutes. I called the toll-free number, spoke with a very cheerful and knowledgeable gentleman, and a new cable, with installation instructions, is on the way.

I was surprised they even had the cable in stock. If you're in the market for an indoor rower, I can personally recommend Tunturi for both quality and customer support.

Food has been going a bit less well. I'm still sugar-free, and that hasn't been a problem for me at all. It's as if I was able to flip a switch and simply not want to consume it, in much the same way that I was able to stop smoking – cold turkey. I'm the same weight I was January 2, which is disappointing, but I'm also eating three dinners each week that I wasn't eating prior to Mr. Shrinking Knitter's retirement. So I still have some work to do here.

That NYTImes article mentioned some tunes on my favorite running playlist, including Salt 'n' Pepa's "Push It" and "Mr. Brightside" by the Killers. And since I haven't asked in a while … what are the high-energy songs that pump you up?

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

I see a treadmill in my immediate future

Need I say more?

Did I say I was going to row and lift weights yesterday? I forgot about a late-morning board meeting at the prison, and by the time I remembered I had to shower, dress and go. I'm not one to take two daily showers, especially in dry-skin-inducing winter, so I bagged the workout.

Then when I got home I felt like such a loser, so I lifted weights. Briefly. So I wouldn't, um, glow. Heh. Anything's better than nothing, right?

I did all my regular moves – curls, presses, lunges, squats, etc. – but instead of two or three sets of 12 or 15, I just did one set of each until I couldn't do any more. I counted the bicep curls, to get an idea of how many I could do, but stopped after 30.

Perhaps I need to move up to a heavier dumbbell. Hmmm.

Thanks for all your good wishes about the babies-to-be. It will be no surprise to some of you that I have enough yarn for all three blankets "in stock," so to speak. But the brown isn't quite right, so I ordered more. One will be blue, one will be cream and one will be brown, to match the nursery, although I guess babies don't sleep with crib blankets any more.

And a belated thanks for all your good wishes about this round of race training. It's so cool to have so many cheerleaders out there in blogland. Mr. Shrinking Knitter does what he can, but race training isn't quite the novelty it was the first time around.

Remind me I said this when I do a 20-miler, 'kay?

I'm starting to wonder how in the world I'm going to be able to find something to photograph every day for the rest of the year. This seemed like such a good idea a week ago. I've already stooped to stealing ideas from others. Perhaps I'll come up with a monthly theme. I might actually have to go on these things called "photo shoots" instead of just hanging 'round the shanty looking for inspiration.

What a concept.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy

This is a three-part post; I'll save the best for last.

Well, the Buckeyes could have played better last night, that's for sure. If you're a Bayou Bengal, congratulations – you were just a little hungrier than we were.

Mr. Shrinking Knitter and I weren't hungry at all, after we tucked into our party feast. We had guests though:

Seriously, I made so much food that we ended up putting the cheese tray back in the refrigerator. The only ones who sampled it were Molly, on the left, and Hershey. We humans demolished the vegetable platter – I felt so virtuous!

For Anne: My high-school senior class president went to OSU and got to dot the "I" in the Script Ohio at the Rose Bowl. I'll never forget watching that on television!

Yesterday's first training run went very well. The weather cooperated – no wind, mixed sun and clouds and temperatures in the mid-60s. I could have worn shorts – in January! In West Virginia! –
that's how warm it was.

My mission was to run three miles at a snail's 13:25 pace. I beat that handily [12:45], and though I wasn't at all swift, I felt great for the entire three miles. I was even able to kick it up a notch in the third mile.
I had fun!

Cross-training is on today's schedule, which will include some rowing and some weight work. The new issue of Runner's World has an article on the importance of core training [that links to a video, which I haven't watched since I'm on dial-up] which makes a lot of sense. I've been doing crunches all this week, which is a good start. But I can always do more, and the article has some good suggestions.

Today's Subject Line
Now for the good stuff.

A little more than a month ago, Mr. Shrinking Knitter handed the phone to me and said his son wanted to tell me something. Since his son is my running inspiration, I thought he might want to announce an upcoming event.

Well, he did, but it had nothing to do with running.

He and his wife are expecting.


And yesterday we learned they're all … boys!

Two are identical, one is fraternal, and their due date is June, but they'll most certainly be arriving early. The pregnancy is going well and all the babies are active and growing just as they should be. For that, we are truly grateful.

My list of knitting projects just got a lot bigger. Heh.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Go, Bucks!

The Ohio State University fight song is on continuous loop on my iPod [not really, but I have played it today], the snacks are ready, I'm wearing my OSU sweatshirt [and it's far, far too hot for a sweatshirt but we do what we must] and it's two hours until the BCS Championship Bowl.

Am I psyched? You bet I am. I'm a transplanted Buckeye and tonight my heart is in Ohio.

Mr. Shrinking Knitter is even going to cheer for them, more to be loyal to me than to that state just north of here.

We've decided to not eat dinner tonight and instead we're having our own little football party, with a huge veggie tray [that's it on the left], hummus, cheese and crackers and shrimp cocktail. I've logged it all and guess what? I'm over my calorie limit for the day!

Snort. Tonight … who cares?

Are you ready for some football?!?