a little light reading please

I got nuthin’.  So I thought I’d put in an order for what I’d like to be reading.

If one of you nice bloggers could please  write something entertaining I’d be much obliged.  I’m not fussy about the content so long as it has nothing to do with politics or bathrooms or whether or not women ought  to shave their pits or show their rhymes-with-pits in public.  Travel, crafts, art, drinking, cooking, sex, family, gardening.  I don’t care.  Just make it good.

Self-deprecating  humor is appreciated – better to make fun of yourself than to mock others.  Optimism is good as long as it’s not too pollyanna.  Sincerity is nice, but you don’t have to be mean about it.

Creative spelling and grammar is dandy as long as you know the rules before you intentionally break ’em.   Then again, it’s a blog, so don’t worry too much about that – no one (with an ounce of kindness) expects perfection.

And don’t feel like you have to wrap it all up with a nice little bow at the end.  If there’s a moral to the story, I’ll catch it on my own.  Jokes aren’t funny when you have to explain them and lessons aren’t as powerful when you have to spell them out.  Just let the chips fall where they may.

And could you make it snappy please?  Allayall take too darn long between posts.

Sincerely,

the blogger who hasn’t written anything in weeks

 

in which I try to try an exercise class

I enjoy reading, writing, drawing, sewing, crocheting, knitting.

I like to hike, walk, swim, lift weights, and if I were fit enough, I think I’d enjoy running.

See what these things have in common?  They’re all activities that are comfortably done alone.  Yes, you can shoe-horn some of these into a group activity, but even when together, you’re still alone.  And I like it that way.

So I tried a Zumba class.  I know – that’s so 2010, right?

First off, I forgot a shirt.  Nothing daunted, I wore two jog bras and a pink warm up jacket over my now poochy-in-the-belly, grey, tight to the ankle leggings and a pair of running shoes.  I am the epitome of fitness fashion, no?

The teacher was outside the class, clearly identifiable because she wore her brand on her body.  I let her know I was a newbie and asked if I could find an inconspicuous spot in the class.  She nodded her assent  and went back to her flock of adoring fans.

Not to seem too eager, I avoided entering the class until five minutes before it began and, of course, couldn’t find a spot in the back.  So I stood in front of a surly-looking broad and asked if it was OK if I took that spot.  She sort of shrugged and said something non-committal.  I explained that I had never taken the class before and didn’t know how much space was necessary.  Now, if I had heard that, I would have said something like “Would you be more comfortable in the back?  I’ll switch with you if you’d like,” if only to avoid being distracted by the noob’s flailing.  But this lady, who had apparently been sucking something sour, just said, “You need a good bit of space.”  I took a step forward.

As I looked around the room I realized that I was the fattest person there.  Medically speaking, I am fat, I know that – but the fattest person in the room?  That was a new experience.  I’m also afflicted with BED – body eumorphic disorder, which means I almost always think I look good, no matter what the scale says.  So this was a bit of a shock.  (Yes, I made the disorder up.  No, I’m not trying to mock people with real body image issues.)

The teacher walked in, smiled at the class and I waited for her introduction.  I expected something like, “Hi everybody!  I’m Bubbles and this is ZUMBA!”  followed by a five second explanation of what to expect in the class, a warning to stay hydrated, go at your own pace, etc. – all the things that people who want to be encouraging and don’t want to get sued usually say.

The music started thumping and Bubbles threw her hands in the air and started hula-hooping with an invisible hoop and every other person in the room immediately followed exactly in step. I said, “No,” picked up my water bottle and walked out.  As I was leaving, the only sweet-faced woman in the room said, “You can do this!”  But no, I couldn’t.  I was too discouraged.

I felt frumpy, fat, and stupid.

and hormonal

BUT

I’ve told people about it which makes it a story instead of something to feel bad about.  (It’s what I’m doing here, too.  Exorcising my fears embarrassment.)  And I’ve been back to the gym and have continued to work out.

And I haven’t ruled out ZUMBA completely.

Fitness Goals for 2016

I AM enjoying the longer days and warmer weather and I can’t wait for summer.  We’ve been going to the YMCA to swim (and the kids are taking lessons!) and I’m just so excited to take a trip to the ocean this year.  I miss it.  Bouncing in the chilly waves under a hot sun has got to be one of the funnest ways to spend a day.

I have some fitness goals for this year.

  • to swim a full lap at the pool – the lifeguard informs me that means there and back – one way is a length, both ways is a lap.  OK, so there and back is my goal.  I don’t remember how long the pool is, but it’s a moderate size.  Right now I can probably make it half a length.
  • I am finally going to finish couch to 5k.  I’ve tried before and have always given up about 1/2 to 2/3 of the way through.  I’m going about it differently this time by laying down a solid foundation of strenuous walking.
  • reach a healthy BMI.  Calorie restriction sucks but I need to do this before I hit menopause.  Twenty pounds down, forty-five to go.

Signs of Spring

There’s a little red squirrel living in the stone wall outside my kitchen windows.  I love him.  Yes, I got a peek and I’m pretty sure it’s a him. He gathers grass in great handfuls and stuffs it double fisted deep into his mouth and then disappears into  a crack in the wall only to pop out again a few seconds later.  He takes frequent breaks to peel old walnuts and to peer at me through the window.  I wouldn’t say he feels for me as I feel for him but so far he tolerates me.  It will be interesting to see if he attracts a mate or gets eaten by the barn cats first.  Well, I’m glad he’s here for now.

I can watch him from my new favorite place in the cushy chair I moved into the kitchen.  I put it together with the  afghan crocheted by my grandmother and my fuzzy red pajamas with the snowmen on them for full cozy effect.  Yes, we’ve been having springtime temperatures the past few days, but my kitchen still thinks it’s winter.

Yesterday was sunny and in the low seventies (F) and the kids picnicked at the creek, but there was still ice on the pond and snow on the lawn.  No wonder I feel conflicted.  The daffodils are poking up a good month early and my husband is building raised bed boxes , but I have no desire to play in the dirt.  I’d rather mend the holes in the boys’ jeans and knit socks.

 

 

 

Went Looking for an Adventure Book and Got a Surprise

They don’t make ’em like Huckleberry Finn anymore.

The kids and I finished a new read-aloud last night.  We really like Jean Craighead George’s My Side of the Mountain and went looking for something similar.  We wanted a straight up survival/adventure story without the complicating “coming-of-age stuff” which, being interpreted, generally means early and unpleasant sex.  We settled on Ms. George’s Julie of the Wolves thinking it would follow the same general structure of MSotM.

Well, NO.  Julie of the Wolves deals with attempted rape, child marriage, alcoholism, spousal abuse, menstruation.  Nothing wrong with writing about those things, but not what we expected and not what we were looking for.  I got the feeling that Ms. George was trying to write something “real” a la Judy Blume and fell short.  I was never much of a fan of those sad and disappointing books foisted on me in my childhood and adolescence anyway.

It’s not that I think authors should only repeat the same old story again and again because it’s what their readers expect, but I also don’t see why I should pay to read an author’s writing exercises.  Besides, well-written adventure stories are a more rare and exceptional thing than this angsty crap.

I’m guessing the unsettled ending might have been intended to get readers to buy and read the sequels but nah.  Not happening.

February Made Me Shiver

It doesn't look like much, does it?

It doesn’t look like much, does it?

Snow, fine hail, slush and yuck.    And that’s after plowing repeatedly for hours.  I was flooring it and barely made it to the top of the hill at the end of my “block”.  The plow driver said if I could pull up a little farther he would sand so I could get back down.

I thought the natives here just know how to drive in this mess or have amazing equipment.  Maybe that’s all true, but it’s also true that they know when to stay home.  As I waited, two other vehicles, one a cab driver and the other a massive truck, coming from the opposite direction stopped to see if I was OK and to assure me I was right to not go any farther – they were headed home too.

The broken K turn I made was more like the spokes of a bicycle because I am NOT falling in a ditch.  again.

Our school start is delayed due to fort building.  The cats are curled in their boxes next to the radiators.  I’ve painted my nails blue which maybe looks kind of cyanotic. I’m about to have some peppermint tea and curl up with a book.  So, some good comes of the winter that almost never was.

 

Low Maintenance

I needed some alone time so I left the kids with my husband and headed off to Walmart for some retail therapy.

I’ll let that sink in a moment.

As I was backing out of my driveway I noticed that winter salt and mud were making it hard to see out the rear window.  So I treated myself to a bucket, a bottle of spray, and a window cleaner.

Go ahead, ponder.

There was a time when wandering around the automotive section or fiddling with my car in any capacity would elicit multiple offers of help.  Yesterday I heard – more than once, mind you, “You could make a lot of money doing that!”

Yeah, I’m bringing squeegee back.

So I threw some nail polish in my cart.

A Soup You Can Chew

Where did I hear this story?  There were two guys.  One often dined with the king and ate sumptuously on rich food.  The other stayed home and ate humble lentils.  The first guy said to the second, “You should learn to be nice to the king so you don’t have to eat lentils.”  The second guy replied, “You should learn to eat lentils so you don’t have to be nice to the king.”

Lentils are tasty, nutritious, and yes, cheap.  Here’s how I’ve been enjoying them lately.

After we’ve eaten a roasted chicken we* put the carcass and whatever remains on it into a large pot with celery, carrots,onion, and a quantity of water and we simmer it for a few hours.  This makes a stock that is probably not as good as using a whole raw chicken, but still pretty good.  Then we pour the cooled stock into muffin tins and freeze it.  When it has frozen we pop the stock out of the tins and put them into a zipper freezer bag.  Label and use when needed.

My lunch for the past few days has been reheated chicken stock with a handful of barley and lentils.  I should sing the praises of barley too.  So much texture!  Today I added some frozen spinach.  Actually, I added too much spinach and had to skim  some of it out.   We don’t season our stock so I added a little salt.  Be careful about that – it’s easy to add too much.

And TA-DA! a soup you can chew.

IMG_1794

By the way, this is my favorite way to cook – winging it without a recipe.

*By “we” I generally mean my husband, but I do it when I have to.

I Hate the Movie Babe

I like animals.  And I like them for their innate animalness.  I like the catness of cats, the dogness of dogs, the sheepness of sheep, and the tastiness of pigs.

Why should an animal be vilified for being itself, for acting according to its nature? Why should its behaviors be attributed to malice rather than the fact that it is an animal?  Cats are not sneaky or evil – they’re cats.

Anthropomorphizing animals should be done carefully to bring out the characteristics of the animals (or for the sake of satire), not to make them screens onto which ridiculous human sentiments are projected.

If animals are just like people, then they are less lovable, not more and need less care, not more.

Finally, for me, animals are also food.  It IS a little sad to have to take a life for the sake of nutrition, but that IS the way it is right now.  I respect dissenting opinions on both sides of this statement, but I don’t want to debate it.  If you’ve informed and  examined your conscience, and you’re not trying to boss me around or manipulate me with talking animals, that’s good enough for me.

Cruelty is deplorable and I believe in limiting suffering  as much as possible – I moved to the country in part to have greater control over where my food comes from.  I slaughter and process my own meat chickens even though it is distasteful, in part so I don’t forget, and so I know that the animals lived as normal and healthy a life as possible before they were killed to feed me and my family, and because – what right do I have to ask someone else to do my dirty work?  I try to have the courage of my convictions.    And Babe tried to undermine that.