Monday, March 30, 2015

East, West, Home's Best

Visiting my mom was a joy. She's realized that in addition to losing my dad, she lost a lot of her confidence — and is only now starting to get it back. But she is getting it back, and I'm so proud of her. Things like using the three remotes that are needed for her TV/satellite dish/DVD & VCR player/DVR combo used to throw her into a tailspin; now she manipulates all three with ease and can toggle between the four devices without getting flustered. She's been faithful to her PT since breaking her ribs and is doing Nautilus-type machines at her gym in addition to aqua aerobics. She's moving around so much better. I am really, really proud of her.

And on Day 5 of my visit, we went to Courtesy Motors and test-drove some cars. She's keeping her vintage 1970 Volkswagen Bus (the car each Chardonnay child learned to drive on — and both Mimosa and Li'l Martini got driving lessons from Grandma at age 13), but my dad's Accura is too much car for her; it's a giant old-man sedan, and she has trouble getting in and out of it. My youngest brother suggested something more like an SUV but with a car chassis, which seemed to be a good fit for her. I believe she's getting this, a 2015 Subaru CrossTrek:

I sat in the back seat while she test-drove, and she told me that she was a little shaky. After prodding, I learned that this was her first time in life driving a brand-new car; either Dad handled it, or she's always bought used cars. At age 72, she's doing something for the first time and handling it like a pro. Go, Mom!

Sadly, my flight to Sacramento was delayed, so I was not able to lunch with J at Old Spaghetti Factory. The flight from Boston arrived in Phoenix more or less on time . . . but then we sat on the runway. And sat. And sat. When I finally deplaned, I "raced" through two terminals on my arthritic knees, and my plane hadn't left yet — but they'd closed the doors and wouldn't reopen them for me. I was distraught. And the woman at Customer Service was a BEE-YOTCH.
  • Me: I'm going to miss half a day of my vacation with my mom, who lives 3,000 miles away.
  • Customer Service Bee-Yotch: I'm sorry. 
(Note: She did not sound sorry. She sounded mechanical.)
  • Me: I'm sorry, I know it's not your fault, but I really am confused. I missed my plane because of you guys. I can't believe there's nothing you can offer people in my situation.
  • CSBY: Well, I'm getting you on the next flight.
  • Me: Oh, really? I don't have to live in Phoenix now? Thank you.
(Okay, I didn't actually say the last line, because I only thought of it later. But seriously.)
Though nothing dims the pain of missing spaghetti with mizithra cheese (and seeing J, of course), I had many fine meals in Chico. The two highlights:
  • Street tacos from the taco truck by the beauty college where Mom and I get pedicures:
I ate A LOT of these. 
  • Dinner at my favorite Chico restaurant:
I love this especially because they do a 2 oz. pour, which lets you taste lots of different wines without committing to something you might not like:

But there was one challenge to this visit. Chico, California, is in full-blown spring right now, whereas Boston . . . isn't.

Remember I had that little cold before I left? Though I faithfully took cold medicine and drank hot tea and cold water every hour on the hour, I didn't get much better and spent the full week of my visit blowing my nose. The lady at the bank (Chico is a very small town, and my parents seem to know everyone) helpfully diagnosed me with allergies, which I think is probably right. I've never had seasonal allergies before, but I was dealing with an entirely different world of flora and fauna, in full bloom — my system went into overload.

Since coming home, I'm blowing my nose less — but I'm dealing with jet lag and have also had a daily migraine. No damn fun.

I've been trying to get my sleep back on track and otherwise take care of myself, but it's hard to do anything sensible when your head is about to explode.

But today, finally, finally, I feel better, and my weight is further down, and I am filled with resolve and resolution! Today is a Get Things Done day; I have a large pile of to-do crap to eradicate, four cards to write (three Get Well and one Thank You), three phone calls to make (I still haven't heard from State Farm chick), and many e-mails to address.

One thing I will not do is ride on Husband's stationary bike with my new comfy bike seat, because the one I bought doesn't fit. That is also on my pile of Things to Do: return bike seat and track down a new one. I'm rather bummed; I was actually looking forward to biking, which I think will be much easier on my poor knees than walking. Ah, well. More will be revealed.

Time to carpe the heck out of this diem!

— Lady C, lady of vim

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Westward Bound

Within the next eight hours I am going to (a) fake-tan my legs, (b) attempt to sleep a little, (c) rise at an ungodly hour that starts with a 4, and (d) enter a giant metal contraption that will transport me across a continent. Crazytown.

I land in Sacramento at noon tomorrow! where it's projected to be 78 degrees! Here in Boston, we just set a record for the snowiest freaking winter in EVER. Packing was a truly surreal experience — I'm bundled up in layers and fuzzy socks, packing capris and a bathing suit. (Hence the need for "tanned" legs.)

To my amazed astonishment, my dear friend J is in Sacramento as we speak, and we have plans to meet for lunch! J lives in Santa Cruz, almost 150 miles away from the capital; this is a true moment of serendipity. We are lunching at an iconic restaurant of my youth:

Mmm . . . spaghetti with brown butter and mizithra cheese . . .

Mmm . . .

Sadly, I woke up this morning with a deeply congested head and the beginnings of a cold.

I have stuffed myself with drugs and am about to take to my bed with hot tea, cold water, Season 3 of The Gilmore Girls, a good attitude, and a prayer. Also, fake-tan lotion. Have I mentioned that? I expect to be bronze and savage by morning.

Which starts at 4 freaking a.m.

Not . . . so much a morning person, over here.

But then, less than 24 hours from now, I'll be with:

And this is something to be profoundly grateful for — both that I have her and that a one-on-one visit is the best thing in the world. My mom is awesome on a plate.

It's unlikely that I'll blog for the week I'm away, but you never know.

In the immortal words of Arnold Schwarzenegger:
I'll be back.

love and (germy) kisses,

Lady C, about to cut cross country like Emma Middleton

(That's an inside joke for Betsy-Tacy people. You know who you are)

Monday, March 16, 2015

Readers Clamor to Know

Inspirational Kathy wrote to me privately and Fresca left a comment: What TV show is depicted in the picture I posted? So sorry to have left you hanging. It is Breaking Bad, the multi-Emmy-winning AMC series starring Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul, which ran for five seasons. We are on season 4 now, and it is a wild ride.

And because I was curious, I did a search; apparently, lots of people sport Breaking Bad manicures:

Something for my future, perhaps. Right now my nails are short, green, and sparkly, in honor of my Irish heritage and our upcoming holiday.


— Lady "C Is for Colleen"

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Weekend Update

So, how'd I do?

I give myself a B+. Maybe even an A–. It was a really good week, and for the most part I stuck to both my plans and my calorie limit. I deliberately ate lots more vegetables and fruit than I might have, and I made a conscious effort to snack less. It became clear to me that I often eat when I'm tired of working and need a break. Teasing apart "actual hunger," when food will give me needed fuel, and "distraction non-hunger" has been an interesting challenge.

The one "theme day" that didn't play out as planned was Thursday: Fiction Writing. I got an unexpected editing job that filled both Thursday and Friday, and editing work trumps everything. I'm disappointed, though, because I was looking forward to having some new pages and stirring that dormant part of my brain again. I have another editing job scheduled for Monday, so maybe Tuesday . . . ? I have to pack for California, but that will only take an hour. We shall see.

Other things that I meant or wanted to do:
  • Connect with my State Farm rep. Instead, I left my fourth message. The thing is, her outgoing message says, "If I'm away from the phone, press '1' to be connected to another agent," and I just haven't pressed "1" yet. On Monday, I am determined to press "1," first thing in the morning, editing job be damned. This has been hanging over me for too long.
  • Do more knee PT. I only did it twice. But I will do it today and tomorrow, so that will be four, and my goal was five. 
My other Weekly Goals were to log my food, order a lady-part friendly stationary bike seat, and lose 1.5 pounds:
  • I logged my food daily. This week comprised several restaurant meals; I ordered fish and salads and had balsamic vinegar for dressing and did pretty well. On one day, the circle representing my Fat, Carbohydrates, and Protein was divided into equal thirds, which is always my goal and literally has never happened before, and that was cool. (Rediscovering cottage cheese has helped; the savory flavors, like Roasted Onion and Chive or Cucumber and Dill, are yummy, and that's a nice bit of protein with very little fat. Win-win!)
  • Today's plans include sitting down with the kids and all our various Amazon gift certificates and ordering a bunch of things, including a bike seat (I plan to try this one; I'll let you know how it is).
  • As of this morning . . . I'm down 3.5 pounds!!!! I know it's early-diet water weight, but I don't care. It is so nice to see the scale needle go DOWN for once!!!! It's been a long time.
No Theme Days or Weekly Goals for next week. My mom eats tiny meals and goes to a gym, so I will endeavor to stay on track when I'm visiting her.

I will bring some of these books to California (whatever I don't finish before Wednesday a.m.):

I don't think I've mentioned that this is my new true love; Husband, Li'l Martini, and I are watching it together (we're up to Season 4), and we are obsessed:

These are not my fingernails, but believe me, I wish they were:

(My own fingers look . . . okay. I am trying so hard not to pick, even during Survivor challenges, even during the most tense moments of Breaking Bad. I am somewhat thwarted by the dry winter air, which chaps and cracks my skin. But I'm trying.)

Martini is having his 14th birthday party tonight — four teen boys, Magic cards, Wii and Xbox games, chocolate cupcakes, and liters of soda in violent Crayola colors. I've been ordered to stay far, far away. Mimosa and I plan to hole up in my bedroom with appetizers from the neighborhood Thai restaurant and watch a pile of movies. Nothin' but good times ahead.

Three and a half pounds!! I shall go dance with my vacuum to celebrate.

Lady C, a blithe spirit

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Small Successes, Pockets of Progress

Ironically, Health and Beauty Day comprised way more Health than Beauty (ironic given what a girly-girl I am), but I simply ran out of time — lots going on around here. But I exercised like a crazy person: walked just over a mile on my treadmill, lifted weights five different ways, did my shoulder PT, did my knee PT, worked my core, stretched. In contrast, my beauty efforts were to exfoliate my face and paint my fingernails violet — not nothin', but not the pampering spa-like experience I yearn for, either.

I also researched ladypart-friendly stationary bike seats and plan to order one this weekend; biking will be very good for my poor knees. And I've faithfully logged my food and am endeavoring to make better choices and to eat small meals.

Today's theme was School and Church. I did the school part, subbing in fourth grade, which was a blast. I plan to make some church calls before Survivor. If I make at least four calls, I will call it Success.

I've lost not a fraction of a pound and every muscle I own is shrieking murderous accusations, but I feel happy and clear-eyed and on track.

About that Bill Cosby quote: I know Mr. C is a controversial figure these days, and yet this quote speaks to me very profoundly. I have a couple of thin friends who make being thin seem incredibly un-fun. They obsess over their tiny weight gains. If they can't fit into their skinny jeans, their day is ruined. They eschew carbs and are convinced that the only thing standing between them and happiness is those last five wretched pounds.

If I manage to lose a significant amount of weight, I would hope that I would dance around in my tank tops and pencil skirts, flexing for strangers, reveling in my thinness, happy as a cricket. I want to thoroughly enjoy my (small, delicious) meals. I don't want to consider any food off limits. On the topics of weight and health, I want to be peaceful and serene.

It's absurd to say that fear of turning into my crazy thin friends* is what's keeping me fat — but it has been on my mind for a while.

Anyway. Time to make some phone calls! Ugh.

— Lady C

* I do have sane and healthy thin friends as well.

p.s. I subbed in Pie's class today, the adorable daughter of Writer Jenny. WJ's in Israel but she e-mailed me this morning:
Subject: Someone is very excited . . .
 . . . about the sub she is going to have for the "hole intire day!"

(If you could work on spelling, I'd appreciate it.)
I responded:
Spelling, no problem. I’ll send her home a champion. But the teacher can only do so much, Jenny — blood will out.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Laugh Yourself Thin

It's "Health and Beauty" Tuesday, and I'm gearing up for my treadmill walk . . . and realized that I hadn't charged my iPod in, like, years. Our treadmill is in the basement. I could play a CD on Mimosa's computer, but the treadmill is LOUD, and Husband is home this week (like Ross and Rachel, Northeastern U is on a break), working in his study, which abuts the basement. Anyway — I'm charging the dead, dead iPod and otherwise being of use.

(I'm about to tackle my most dreaded call: filing a claim with State Farm for all the damage to my house caused by ice dams. My contractor says it will cost $14K to fix everything and do it right. I'm sure State Farm will cover all that. Of course they will. La la la!)

It occurred to me that a few of my hoarded e-mails are funny things that I meant to put in my blog — so, yay! more e-mail eradication! And then I'll make my phone call.

First, Husband sent me these:

He also alerted me to "20 New Titles for Children's Books (Based Entirely On Their Covers)!" Example (they are all hilarious):

You might have seen this next one floating around the Internet; Sexy Em sent it to me:
A first grade girl handed in the drawing below for her homework assignment:
The teacher graded it, and the child took it home. She returned to school the next day with the following note:
Dear Ms. Davis,

I want to be perfectly clear on my child's homework illustration. It is NOT of me on a dance pole on a stage in a strip joint surrounded by male customers with money. I work at Home Depot and had commented to my daughter how much money we made in the recent snowstorm. This drawing is of me selling a shovel.


Mrs. Harrington
Even though this story has been outed as apocryphal, I still enjoyed it.

I've mentioned before the origins of my online name; "The Lady Chardonnay" is the title of a painting proudly displayed in the Museum of Bad Art. It's very hard to find a reproduction of this wonder online, but I managed to secure the following:

Is she not gorgeous?!!

I will conclude with some of my favorite lines from actual church bulletins, again forwarded to me by Sexy Em:

The Fasting & Prayer Conference includes meals.

The sermon this morning: 'Jesus Walks on the Water.’ The sermon tonight: 'Searching for Jesus.'

For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs.

Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person you want remembered.
Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 PM. Please use the back door.

OK — phone call time. I don't know why I dread phone calls so much. What's the worst that can happen?


— Lady C the Intrepid

Monday, March 9, 2015

Monday Progress Report

I have to say, I kinda love the construct of "Theme Day." I muscled down and got through a ton of piles, and my Inbox now boasts 50 e-mails (none of which I want to deal with, so it's not like I can dust off my hands and chirp "Problem solved!" Still, 50 seems so much more manageable than 118 . . . and maybe they'll look less onerous another day).

Of course, once you make a phone call and answer an e-mail and complete the paperwork, yada yada, there is generally a response of some sort, and the whole process just keeps going. I still have a pile in front of the computer, it's just a smaller pile. Nothing ever seems to be 100 percent done.

But still. Definite progress. I got registered for the Naviance (college search) site, I talked to my AAA guy about our summer trip to D.C., our tax-related info is pulled together tidily for the Tax Man — progress!

Now, about that weight loss . . .

My steely revolve was promptly derailed by pie. In an effort to save a kitchen full of aging fruit (blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, grapes), I made a bumbleberry pie with a brown sugar-oatmeal streusel crust on Friday night. Everyone in my house likes pie when it's hot out of the oven, but they tend to eschew cold pie that's been on the counter for two days. If I don't eat it, no one will (and it's delicious). So — I had pie for breakfast.

And I couldn't have felt less like cooking dinner, so we all had burgers from the yummy burger joint down the street that we've just discovered.

For lunch, though, I had skinless boneless mackerel from Trader Joe's, plus a green salad with seven vegetables and rice vinegar for dressing, plus 12 reduced-fat woven wheat crackers, and Fat Secret loooooved that lunch. So despite my excesses, I still came in under my calorie count for the day. Amazing!

And I'm done eating now, just another cup of coffee before bed, that's it.

I'm calling Day 1 a win!

Lady C

Facing Facts, Biting the Bullet, Mustering My Wits — Whatever, I Hate It, But It's Time

Hello, my friends, and welcome back to my weight-loss blog.

What's that? You didn't realize this was a weight-loss blog? Especially since, you know, there's been no actual loss in, like, years?

Yeah. You and me both.

Arthritis demolished my knees, Tamoxifen brought a handful of extra pounds, and grief and a looooong winter wore away at my remaining resolve. I had a brief fling with tai chi, thinking it would be the answer . . . but, no. Not for me. In the face of nonstop pain and failure, frankly, I just gave up.

I have now gained back almost all of the 40 pounds I lost since I started this blog.

Though, curiously, I still think of myself as someone who's trying to lose weight and be healthier, despite all evidence to the contrary. And then I read somewhere that an effective weight-loss strategy is to report to another person — not an anonymous blog, like FatSecret, but someone you actually know — every single thing you eat each day, and I immediately felt panicked and exposed. And this, my friends, was a real wake-up call.

Clearly . . . I am not making good choices if the idea of sharing them with someone else is so terrifying.

But then I put off writing about it, because I felt too panicked and exposed.

I had lunch with Mrs. Cynicletary a couple of weeks ago and I mentioned how proud I was of my mom for being faithful with her physical/occupational therapy and getting stronger. Then later we talked about cortisone shots, and I said that I was ready for another round but I thought that I shouldn't ask for more drugs until I started doing the doctor-prescribed PT, none of which I had done yet, and she got very stern with me, saying, Did you not listen to your own story about your mother????

So last week I broke out the PT handouts and my leg weights and did my exercises. They are not hard, and I definitely felt better afterward; they just take a lot of time. I have to figure out when and how to schedule PT so that I will do it. My resolve is strongest in the morning . . . but that is also my most productive work time.

Anyway. The ice is broken. And my knees are killing me, all the time, I have GOT to do this.

Here are some other things I've collected:
  • In Good Housekeeping, Jillian Michaels talked about a Goal Pyramid:
  • In this structure, you have a Long-Term Goal, a Monthly Goal, a Weekly Goal, 7 Daily Goals, and some Immediate Goals. It sounds worky, but I really like the idea of breaking it down this way while also looking at the big picture.
  • I read an interview with Kirstie Alley, and I liked this quote:  
    You have a history of yo-yo dieting. What are you doing differently now? I looked at the things that worked for me in the past and asked which ones I could incorporate for the rest of my life. I'm just trying to make it fun.
    For me, that was the beauty of zumba — it was so much fun. I haven't been back to zumba in, I think, a year. Too scared of the pain — and now, too scared of being out of shape and not being able to keep up at all.
  • Here's something I read about calories:
Myth: Counting calories is the best way to lose weight. Fact: The composition of the foods you eat is as important as the number of calories you take in. "Calories do matter, but hormones matter more," says Keri Mantie, a personal trainer and fat-loss coach with a master's degree in applied exercise science. A fast-food blueberry muffin might have the same number of calories as an omelet packed with vegetables, but the omelet will give you lasting energy and keep you feeling full until lunchtime nears, while the muffin will give you a short burst of energy followed by a crash, as your body quickly burns through the processed sugar it contains. Soon you feel hungry again.
Lots of food for thought here.

I've had a lot of editing work over the past few weeks, which has been lovely, but so far this week I have very little scheduled. I've decided to try to give my week some structure and address a bunch of different things I've been avoiding, one day at a time:
  • Monday: Organization. Answer at least half of the 118 e-mails in my Inbox. Deal with the to-do pile in front of my computer, which includes gathering my tax documents and looking at Mimosa's college-related info, a task I'm dreading. (It also means writing this blog post. Yay! Accomplishment.)
  • Tuesday: Health and Beauty. Walk on my treadmill, which I haven't done in ages because I've been scared of knee pain. Ice my knees afterward if needed. Lift weights, do my physical therapy, work my core, floss. And then, fun stuff: Paint! Exfoliate! Get a much-needed haircut!
  • Wednesday: School and Church. I have a subbing job, which usually drains me; I won't do much else on Wednesday. But I will make some calls for my church committee, which I've been putting off. I hate cold-calling people, though I always, always enjoy the conversations. I am a big giant weirdo.
  • Thursday: Fiction Writing. Spend the entire morning working on my novel, even if I write a crapload of crap. 
  • Friday: Make Money. I have an editing job scheduled, which is awesome, but if it's not here first thing in the morning, I will edit science articles until it shows up.
Here's my attempt at a Pyramid:
  • Long-Term Goal: Lose 134 pounds and get in better shape
  • Monthly Goal: Lose 5 pounds
  • Weekly Goal: Lose 1.5 pounds, log food and do PT at least five of seven days
  • Daily Goals: See above 
  • Immediate Goals: Finish this blog post, eat a healthy breakfast
My two big rewards for all this virtuous hard work are (1) an upcoming visit with my mom in California, where it will blow my mind to see green grass again, and (2) a huge stack of enticing library books. I am terrible at remembering titles, but here are a few of them:

OK! Time to find a good breakfast and then get started on eradicating crap piles. Woo.

I guess it's good to be back?

— Lady C

p.s. The fortune in my latest cookie said, "You can do everything you ought to do." I like it!

(The second fortune said, "You have a yearning for perfection." Wow, said Husband, your cookies really know you.)