Monday, September 22, 2014

Sometimes It Pays to Listen

Good Neighbor Anne asked me if I wanted to join her on the bike path this morning. I was tempted for a minute, but then I thought:
  • The timing won't work out; I have to drive Li'l Martini to school with his glockenspiel and rental guitar (don't ask); she wants to go at 7:30 and I won't be available till closer to 8.
  • I have a fun big job to do — and still haven't been paid by anyone, we really need some $$$ coming in.
  • My daughter is depressed and silent again, which means I'm sad and depressed. I wish this weren't so, I wish I were better at separating my emotions and not going down to the dark place with her — but it is what it is. You're only as happy as your saddest child, I fear.
  • I have not had a period for 46 days, I feel like I could be getting one any minute now, and sister — it will be a tsunami.
  • I'm feeling heavy, sluggish, and fat. I worked hard to lose a pound last week — exercise! small portions! fresh produce! — and my weight fluctuated by six pounds. I was very psyched to lose four and then went right back to my starting weight plus two. There is no justice in the world.
I mentally reviewed this grim little list, and the way forward became clear. What I just listed above? These are reasons to get outside and exercise.

Over the years, I've found that every single cliche about exercise is 100 percent true:
  • The first step is the hardest.
  • Don't think about it too much.
  • Tell yourself that you're just going to put your workout clothes on, that's all. Once they're on, it will be much easier to get yourself out the door (or down the stairs to your basement treadmill. Whatev).
  • Just do it.
It was gorgeous on the bike path. My house has this weird kind of reverse insulation: when it's pleasantly cool outside, we freeze; when it's warmish, we sweat. If you'd asked me, I would've told you it was hot and humid, based on my steamy bedroom. (Ooh la la!) But it's beautiful outside.

And I saw Good Neighbor Anne at about the one-mile marker; she usually runs and I walk, so we're not really "together," but today she stopped running and joined me, and we talked and talked. My knee held up okay, I'm a little slower than usual but I kept up a decent pace, and of course it's wonderful to catch up with my friend.

Two point seven miles. Accomplishment!

Home now, I will work for an hour then finish my workout (weights and stretching) and shower.

I will not be this thin in six months, but thinner? Yes. I can hope for and work toward that.

So often I'm my own worst enemy, but today I'm my own besty. Way more fun!

xx Lady C, drunk with self-love

Or possibly my first cup of coffee, who knows. I've been up since 7; two hours is long time to wait!

p.s. How come nobody else is blogging? My blogroll (at right) hasn't had any new titles in weeks. Girls! Write something!

p.p.s. For Lady Darcy: Here's what I just read:

LOVED Counting by 7s, liked Dear Daughter a lot (could not put it down! But the ending is weak), and thought Isla was just okay. Stephanie Perkins' first book in this "series," Anna and the French Kiss, is SUBLIME. The other two — just okay. C'est la vie.

And here's what I'm currently reading:

As you might imagine, Paying for College is the real page-turner — this fall's Dear Daughter, for sure. Can't wait to see how it ends!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Sometimes a Bunny Is Just a Bunny

I meant to walk yesterday, didn't, and felt like a loser, so I determined that today was the day!! Though I am excellent at getting up early, full of resolution, and then putting off exercise. I meant to walk at 8 and have everything (weights, shower) wrapped up by 9:30. Instead, I didn't leave the house till 10 (partly because I was talking to my charming husband, but it seems wrong to blame him for my slacker tendencies).

As I prepared to cross Appleton Street, a bunny darted across my path! So adorable. I took it as a good omen for a good walking experience, which I needed right then because my knee was starting to hurt.

And then it began to rain.

I trudged onward for a couple of blocks, but honestly? Walking when your knee hurts is no damn fun. Walking when your knee hurts in the rain — seriously, how much am I supposed to put up with here???

That bunny was a BAD omen, I decided, as I cried uncle and headed for home.

But yesterday's feeling of Loser! Loser! was still fresh in my mind. Are you ready to cheer for me? I headed down to my basement and finished my walk on my treadmill. Yay, me! I shed my Loser skin and emerge a WINNER!


And the most amazing thing – after a moment of stiffness, my knee stopped hurting. I think the flat, even ground and consistent pace of the treadmill is probably better for an injured knee than my usual uneven terrain, which is very good to know!

So maybe that bunny was a good omen after all.

Or, you know — maybe it was just a bunny. Whatev.

I also lifted weights and did my shoulder PT and worked my core and stretched. And hauled a million bags and boxes of Husband's old clothes upstairs; Big Brothers Big Sisters is coming to pick them up at dawn tomorrow, and I will be so happy to have them out of my basement! Husband is not exactly a hoarder . . . he just has a lot of special things. A LOT of special things. But he is kindly allowing me to donate these clothes, and that is huge. He is a good man.

I'm pushing myself to do one more "throw down" each time I do them, and I'm up to 23. Steely abs will be mine in no time! I will invite you all to bounce quarters off me.

On today's docket:
  • Shower, SOON (it is steamy-warm in my basement, I am a sweaty stinky kitten)
  • Edit a science article 
  • Send my Maybelline Queen a birthday card — her birthday's tomorrow
  • Buy wine and soy milk (the bare necessities! And I've found a cheap chardonnay that I like a lot; though I am eternally devoted to Mr. Kendall Jackson, at the rate I drink, he is a pricey beau)
  • Deal with the pile of paper in front of my computer (I'm not even sure what's in there)
  • Read 10 pages of How to Pay for College Without Going Broke (I have vowed to read 10 pages a day; more than that will make me cry, I fear)
  • Make a kick-ass supper (pork chops with mushrooms and cashews, rice, roasted beets, carrots, and turnips, and red-hot apples)
  • Watch Dance Moms with Mimosa (ugggghhhhh), iron two shirts, mend my capris, and re-do the neckline of a dowdy tank top
Full fun day! I am off to seize it.

– Stinky Sweaty Lady C

Thursday, September 11, 2014

By the Numbers

I haven't 'fessed up to this because I've been ashamed, but it's time to face some cold, hard, ugly facts.

When I started my weight-loss journey, I weighed 287 pounds. I managed to get down to 248, but I never really settled there; my new "set point" seemed to be 252. (My goal is 149. I am 5'8", this would be a good weight.)

Then my exchange student Tam (i.e., tamoxifen) came to live with me, and my weight promptly shot up 10 pounds and didn't budge. At first I blamed this on sluggish ladyplumbing and backed up menses, but within a couple of months everything started "moving" again, except the scale needle. (Sorry, this is the GROSSEST paragraph, but we have no secrets, do we? As much as we may long for them sometimes.)

And then I hurt my knee and was no longer exercising regularly, and I kept going to California and drinking margaritas with my mom, and that weight started creeping, creeping . . .

For several weeks now, I've weighed in at 268.  

This must stop.

If I can lose a pound a week, I'll be back under 250 by Christmas. This feels like a good and do-able goal. Obviously, I would like to lose  much, much more than that!! and if I do, then, yay! But having a smallish, reasonable objective, especially as we enter the glorious holiday season of food! food! food!, feels both smart and accomplish-able.

I'm kind of killing time while I wait for (1) Mimosa's event to start (the Madrigal Singers are performing at the State House for a ceremony commemorating 9/11, and I can watch her online — so cool!!), and (2) my science client to answer an editing question, so I can submit my edited article and get paid. (I worked for four different clients last month and haven't been paid by anyone yet. Freelancing really sucks sometimes.)

So here are some other numbers, as I while away the minutes:

Three of My Favorite Movies
All About Eve
Gone With the Wind*
Breakfast at Tiffany's

Four of My Favorite Libations
Chardonnay (duh)
Margarita, on the rocks with salt
Bloody Mary

Five of My Favorite Books
The Cheerleader by Ruth Doan MacDougall 
Betsy Was a Junior by Maud Hart Lovelace**
A Window Over the Sink by Peg Bracken
The Luckiest Girl by Beverly Cleary
Tracy and Hepburn by Garson Kanin 

Six Guilty-Pleasure Movies
Bring It On
Fast Break starring Gabe Kaplan! Oh it is truly awesome
Almost Summer
Grease 2
Thank God It's Friday
Ice Princess

Seven Actresses I Love
Meryl Streep
Marisa Tomei
Susan Sarandon
Emma Thompson
Alfre Woodard
Viola Davis
Jennifer Lawrence

Seven Actors I Love
Hugh Jackman
Daniel Day-Lewis
Mark Ruffalo
Denzel Washington
Matt Damon
Michael Fassbender
Hugh Grant


OK, the event should be starting now. I'm so proud of my girl!!

— Lady C, mama bear

* We are going to see this on the big screen September 28, and I could not be more excited!!!!! This movie HAS to be seen on the big screen.

** I love ALL the Betsy-Tacy books, natch, but this one is my special favorite. It is often people's least-favorite; they prefer Emily of Deep Valley, which is my least favorite. Go figure.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Woman Warrior!

Pride Moment #1: I took a walk! I followed my beloved neighborhood route, which I believe J and I clocked at 2.36 miles. It involves many hills and valleys, craggy broken sidewalks, exposed tree roots, etc. — it's not a silky-smooth treadmill walk, in other words.

Pride Moment #2: At least seven times during the course of my walk, I had that feeling of this isn't fun, I can't do the whole thing, I'm going to stop early. My knee started hurting within a couple of minutes, I got very out of breath climbing the hill by Nurse Kathy's house, my knee began hurting again as I descended the hill that runs along the highway (which was sad, because this is usually my favorite part of the walk — the wind at my back, the vista of Lexington spread out before me, the gold statue of the Angel Moroni on the Mormon temple glowing in the morning sun — but downhill does not seem to be good for me. Alas, I live in Arlington Heights, not Arlington Plateau) . . . but I kept giving myself little pep talks and trying to get lost in my music, and whatever I did worked because I walked the entire route.

And my knee is fine! Well, as fine as my knee ever is lately, but still. I'm no more crippled than usual, how's that?

Pride Moment #3: I lifted weights! I used my 3-pound weights and did 50 bicep curls, 55 tricep curls, and 30 each arm and "armpit" extensions. I also did 25 wall push-ups. And I made myself do 21 throw-downs (ab exercises), even though my back screamed at me.

Pride Moment #4: I stretched!!! This is the part of the workout I tend to skip, but I feel so good after I do it; it's also part of my knee physical therapy, so today I bit the bullet and muscled through.

Pride Moment #5: I need to get cash, and the CVS in East Arlington has an ATM for my bank, and I thought, "Well, as long as I'm driving all the way down there, I might as well go out to lunch . . ." and then thought NO. I am working so hard this week to get back on track, health-wise; I am not going to derail my own good work with butter-soaked restaurant food! I shall eat lightly at home and get my cash another time.

Oh, such virtue! What a model of health I am! How I envy you all, having me to envy!


Moment That Made Me Laugh #1: I stopped by Good Neighbor Anne's house to drop off a thank-you note, she happened to be home, so we took a few minutes to catch up.

Forty-five minutes later . . .

!! There is always so much to talk about!!

Moment That Made Me Laugh #2: As I prepared to ascend the vertical 25-mile hill of Nurse Kathy's street, my singing sweetie Mr. Manilow crooned these words:
Caught up in a world / Of uphill climbing . . .
He IS music! He DOES write the songs! Barry knows everything.

Time to haul my stinky carcass into the shower and then start a fruitful few hours at my computer. There are a million things I could do but nothing I have to do, today anyway, and that is a nice feeling.

— Lady C

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Making Your Way in the World Today Takes Everything You've Got

Yesterday I met Nurse Kathy for breakfast at Starbucks, right at the bottom of Heart Attack Hill. Even though my right leg is still not 100 percent (and never will be, says my Inner Pessimist), I was determined to walk my way through this date, including two errands afterward.

And I did! We had a lovely time (Indian Summer has passed, and it's lovely and bright and cool-ish in Arlington, just like September should be). Nurse Kathy is such a good friend, and I rarely get to see her. We talked fast and furious for 90 minutes, she gave me a bottle of wine, I cried about my dad — you know, the usual breakfast date.

Afterward, I walked up the street to the post office and then went to Penzey's Spices. Lately I've been doing this weird thing; I search for my desired item on a shelf, spot it, grab one, purchase it, and then come home to find that I bought the wrong thing. I saw Chardonnay but grabbed a bottle of Cabernet. I saw Reduced-Fat Triscuits but came home with old-school Triscuits. And at Penzey's, I saw minced garlic but went to the checkout counter with minced ginger.

The good news is that I caught it before I got home, but still. What the heck? I am too young to be this batty.

And then I walked all the way back up my hill, the "easy" way, and dear Lord, from all the puffing and panting and sweating I did, I could've powered a small steam engine. It's been A Year Without Zumba, and man am I feeling it.

I have nothing scheduled for any other mornings this week, so I'm going to try taking short walks around the 'hood and see how I do. I learned that if I lift my knee higher than usual before setting it down (while walking), it hurts much less. And yes, I look quite the dork while doing it, thank you for asking! But I will sacrifice a little vanity to get a lot less pain.

I'm trying, trying to heed Cindy Glamour's wise words and eat a lot less and significantly smaller portions. For lunch today I had half a cup of Whole Foods smoked salmon salad (OMG yum!! Writer Jenny brought it to a writers group soiree, and we gobbled it like it was ice cream), a handful of Reduced-Fat Triscuits, and a white nectarine. For me, that is a minuscule lunch, and I know I'll be hungry later. For dinner, I'm making a veggie-laden frittata, hash browns, and fresh fruit. I will carry the mental image of that frittata with me as I endure my post-lunch hunger pangs . . .

— Lady C, hungry, valiant, usually sweaty

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Doing Something That Scares Me (and Also Cooking, Because Hey – Gotta Eat)

The local adult ed. catalogs all came in the mail this week, tempting me with all the ways that I could improve myself with a small investment of time and money, two things I'm oozing with, ha. I'm intrigued to see that zumba with the Italian Spitfire is now a drop-in class, $10 per session, rather than committing to a three-month deal; I think this will work much better for me, given how often I've cut class in the last year.

My Monday teacher, Shy Jeny, is off to Nepal to care for her ailing mother, so yet another new teacher is taking over her class . . . and this gave me pause. Do I really want to keep doing zumba? High-impact does not seem to be good for me right now. My leg is much better (I was kneeling in the pool and Li'l Martini, whose name is now a misnomer, jumped on me, causing my poor arthritic knee to bend more than it really can and wrenching my muscles) though still not 100 percent. But I clearly need to do something. What should it be?

And the answer came to me in a vision:

Well, actually, it came to me on the page of the catalog, but you know what I mean.

Husband did Tai Chi a year or so ago and liked it a lot, though he found the Chinese male teacher impossible to understand. This class is being taught by "Judith," who sounds neither Chinese nor male, so I'm reasonably sure this is a different teacher (though no guarantees she'll be any easier to understand — and I am remarkably moronic, believe me). And the class is designed for the begin-iest of beginners, which is me.

And guess what? I've coaxed Husband into doing it with me!!!

I am nervous, because it will be totally different from anything I've ever done before (I've tried yoga twice and HATED IT), but I'm also proud of myself (and Husband!) for taking a risk and trying something new. Face those fears, girl! Don't back down!

The character Puddles in Ruth Doan MacDougall's excellent Snowy series suffers from arthritis, and she does Tai Chi; it's always been in the back of my mind as something to try. I am hopeful!

The dream
The likely reality. C'est la vie.

Switching subjects now, let me tell you about last night's awesome dinner. I wanted to make something easy after Chore Day, and I'm trying to cut down on the number of meals we eat out or carry in (for both weight loss and financial reasons). We had Chinese sausage in the freezer, and I'd bought the ingredients to recreate Costco's kale salad, which Martini and I fell in love with in California. I needed a third dish, and I decided to try to make "fried" rice in my rice cooker. I hunted down a bunch of online recipes, got the general idea, and then I went maverick and flew without a net! And the result was delicious! As was my kale salad!

To make the rice, I cut off about an eighth of an onion (for the salad dressing) then diced the rest and browned it lightly in a dab of olive oil. I then added a cup and a half of rice, a handful of frozen peas, and a dash of Paul Newman's Low-Fat Sesame Ginger salad dressing, and I let all that cook in a frying pan, under a lid, for a couple of minutes before pouring it all into the rice cooker. I threw in about a tablespoon of Penzey's minced garlic and rice-cookered the whole thing in beef broth. A few minutes before serving, I whisked an egg (tidily using the beef broth can), poured it over the top, and let it sit a minute to cook before stirring it into the rice mixture. The final touch was 2–3 tablespoons of soy sauce added at the very end.

My kids don't get excited about rice, per se, but everyone loved this!

To make the salad, I bought a bunch of stuff at Trader Joe's: kale, shaved Brussels sprouts, broccoli slaw, dried cranberries, and pepitas. I also threw in a little Spring Mix that Husband had bought. I cut up the kale and Spring Mix chiffonade-style, and made a few knife slashes across the slaw (Mom says she dislikes the long pieces because they're hard to eat), then threw everything into a bowl and tossed it. To make the dressing, I threw sugar, cider vinegar, dry mustard, olive oil, canola oil, fresh onion, and poppy seeds into the blender, and blended blended blended. (Next time I will use a food processor, because that onion never did pulverize completely. But it tasted fine.) Unlike other salads, this one should be dressed ahead of time, so the kale has some time to soften and wilt.

So so so good! A wonderful combo of flavors and textures. And look at all that roughage! Husband and Mom both detest Brussels sprouts, but they don't mind them shaved and raw in this salad. And the kids scarfed it down!

In my final news of the day, before returning my attention to HARVARD, my new client, here's what I just read and loved:

AWESOME books. Four stars! Two thumbs up from me!

And here's what I'm reading (and loving so far) now, both of which kept me in the bathtub longer than I meant to be last night:

On today's docket: work, walk, supervise Li'l Martini's summer reading homework, which he needs to finish today, and take Mimosa practice-driving. And dream up a dinner. Man, the every-nightness of this dinner thing — it really gets to a girl.


— Lady C

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Back from Vacay, No Thinner — What's That All About?

Hee! Travel is broadening indeed, despite aqua aerobics (Mom's sport o' choice) and near-daily cut-throat pool volleyball tournaments. But there were also poolside margaritas and homemade guacamole and tacos from the taco truck and Big Chico Burgers and buttermilk doughnuts and God knows how many bottles, bottles, bottles of Mr. Kendall Jackson Chardonnay . . .

Good times!

This was originally scheduled as a Li'l Martini-and-Grandpa bonding event (in my mind, anyway), but of course that is no longer possible. But he is now super-glue-bonded to Grammy; she let him drive her vintage 1970 VW bus, and he is (1) one happy camper and (2) completely obsessed with driving.

On the home front, Daddy faithfully took Mimosa out several times to practice her own driving; sooner than I can imagine, I'll have two additional chauffeurs in the family, and when that happens? I am never getting out of my chair. Happy days will be here again!

Mom is doing well. Her friends have really stepped up, and she had many calls and visits and invitations while we were there. But she's getting physically weaker, despite all the aqua, so I got very stern with her and talked about weight lifting. She belongs to a health club, for heaven's sake! I said that I will be so mad if she's no longer able to live on her own because of something preventable. (She is always welcome to come live with me — in fact, we would adore it — but you should see the grimace she makes when I mention this.) She has agreed to start going on Thursday mornings to lift weights with our dear friend Tia Gabi, who has a heart of gold but a soul of flakiness, so we shall see.

I came home to some bummer news: I did not get the job I wanted (which, I will now tell you, was to be the part-time Assistant Director of Religious Education at the Concord UU church, almost directly across the street from Orchard House, where Louisa May Alcott wrote Little Women). They have been kinder than kind, bending over backward to assure me that they love me, they really love me, but, as I feared, there was an internal candidate whose qualifications almost exactly matched mine, with the added bonus of knowing all the players involved, so of course they went with her and I don't blame them at all. It's probably a blessing, since I would have had to stop attending my church if I took this job, and that would probably have been a bigger deal than I was admitting to myself, but still.

I really wanted it!

But I have four editing jobs this week for four completely different clients, including our little community college that you might have heard of, i.e., HARVARD UNIVERSITY, and everyone else can suck it.

I am not bitter, stop it.

So I will continue on my merry freelance path, editing when I can (I can do as much of the dense, impenetrable science editing as I want, and that is something — at $5 per page, you can see how quickly I'll get rich), and substitute teaching when I want to, and I will keep Brunie's awesome words to me as my mantra:
Don't worry, little worker, something great is coming. I know that you like the churchy stuff, but I feel like you are meant for greater things. Not that the church isn't great, but it is small and I think it would be confining after awhile. I see you on a broader canvas, or doing something thinkier... Or at Starbucks. Or hooking. Just spitballing here...

OK, it may not be the St. Crispin's Day speech, but I find it very inspiring.

And another friend has also given me words that I'm finding very inspiring. My Sleepy Dear Friend Susan (so named for her habit of cat-napping adorably during theatrical performances or when I'm transporting her to and from Betsy-Tacy events) (and for her dearness, of course) wrote:
I think the important thing to do is what you're doing — getting strong and fit and staying as beautiful as you already are.
Her words "getting strong" have resonated powerfully for me. I've focused on "thinner," "lighter," and "healthier" without much traction, but "getting strong," for whatever reason, is doing it. Since I've been back from Chico, I've eaten much smaller meals and have included exercise (small exercise, I've hurt my leg again, alas) every day. And as always my weight shot up while I was away, but it's coming back down nicely, and I'm adopting my old trick of going to bed slightly hungry, which is a pleasantly familiar sensation. Could it be that at long last I'm getting back on track? Only time will tell, but I definitely feel a renewed strength of purpose, I'll tell you that.

Okay, it's almost 9:30 on Saturday morning, and you know what that means at Chez Chardonnay, right?


The house hasn't been vacuumed in two weeks, and the cats' claws are approaching Howard Hughes length. Time to get at it.

With strength.

— Lady C