Friday, May 31, 2013

A cheerful post

I'm feeling much more positive today. For one thing, I survived my fast. I was weighed at the doctor and I'm losing weight, which certainly provides motivation. My doctor was intrigued by the VB6 diet and is going to get the book to check it out. And while I still haven't decided whether I want to stick to VB6 long-term, I did stop at Whole Foods on the way home to buy some oat milk because the only breakfast I could contemplate preparing in my fast-induced delirium was cereal. So I had cereal with oat milk on it and a banana, which is a kosher, if lazy, breakfast on VB6.

Then for lunch I decided I'd have some leftover rice and beans, and then on a whim thought I'd add salad to that, and that's when my mood seriously improved. I went out to the garden and picked a generous handful of greens including a few leaves of mint and some sage, and I tossed it into a bowl with some carrot and cucumber and a few olives and some dressing. It was heavenly. The greens are so fresh and the herbs add some interest to the bowl.

If every day was a day off, I'd eat like this all the time. I used to eat like this when the Kid was home. I'd make her something interesting and then she'd take a nap and I'd make something interesting for myself. It's part of the reason I love growing edibles in my garden. I threw seeds into the ground and now I've got a huge patch of greens that I can just eat from every day. Soon the berries will be in and I'll have both strawberries and raspberries to snack on. And the herbs are inspiring.

I did look up my hunger problem and Bittman recommends snacking all day long on fresh fruits and vegetables and on nuts. So I've got to get more snacks to carry around. Sunday we'll go to the farmer's market and I'll stock up on some goodies and that will help, too. And if some fresh mozzarella falls into my car, I can eat that for dinner!

As with most diets, the most important part of this one is to shop well. Hopper isn't terribly creative with weekday cooking--he wants to make something easy (which is understandable) and he grew up with what Bittman calls the SAD (Standard American Diet) so he tends toward making more meat and fewer veggies. Hopefully we can get our diet into a better balance if we work together. If I make a nice veggie soup each week and we keep growing veggies it should help. Then Hopper can just make whatever he wants, but heat up the soup and throw a salad together and we'll have good, healthy dinners. And if we prep more veggies when we get home from the farmer's market, we'll have snacks ready to hand.

Ooh! And the summer fruits come in soon. Yum.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

VB6 Update #3


I clearly did something wrong today. I ate my yummy tofu breakfast, my apple and rice treats, my delicious (if soggy) tofu lunch, and a salad with nuts and seeds in it. I even bought myself a soy milk as an afternoon snack, and yet I feel as if death is imminent.

Fortunately, work is over and Hopper will have dinner ready when I get home, so I probably won't die today.


Oh, and I'm having a blood test for my physical at 9AM so no breakfast tomorrow.

But probably I won't die.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

VB6 Update #2

Holy olive spread, Batman!

I had left over tofu, so I've mixed it with olives and olive oil to make a spread that will be my lunch tomorrow (on a sandwich with grilled veggies.) I tasted it to make sure I had the proportions right and it is heavenly. Plus, I think the healthy fat in the olive oil will help me feel full.

In other news, my leftover banana mash is looking mighty gross as it blackens in the fridge, but I think I'll bite the bullet and eat it for breakfast tomorrow anyway. There's nothing dangerous about black bananas and it should be super-sweet, too. Watch out, strawberries!

So far, so good. I think the banana-tofu parfait is a good vegan breakfast option for me, so that makes one healthy alternative.

I'm also making great headway at cleaning out the fridge. I made a soup for dinner tonight with some leftover broth from when I wasn't feeling well this weekend, carrot juice (I also had some juice for a snack this afternoon,) beans and Swiss chard. All those things came out of the fridge (well, the carrots came out and I juiced them) and will hopefully be completely consumed tonight, plus the leftover tofu will be made into sandwiches with leftover grilled veggies, and the leftover banana mash will go with the remaining berries in the fridge for breakfast tomorrow.

Go, me!

VB6 Update #1

I at the banana-tofu parfait for breakfast today. It was a nice, big bowl of food--bananas mashed with silken tofu, blueberries, and a handful of high-fiber cereal. I didn't actually make it a parfait because I didn't have a suitable glass, so I just threw it all into a bowl. I'm not sure I used enough blueberries.

I feel incredibly virtuous, but not as satisfied as I usually do when I eat yogurt. We'll see how the day goes. I saved half of the banana mash so I can have it again tomorrow. Since I won't have to make banana mash, I'll have time to slice strawberries. I think that may be more filling because of the added fiber.

I also have half a box of silken tofu that has to get eaten within 48 hours.

So far, so good, but I have a lot to work out here.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


I just got Mark Bittman's new book VB6. The idea is to eat vegan food until 6PM and then you can eat whatever you want, but with the general idea that you're mostly going to eat plant-based food and try to keep junk food to a rare treat.

This is a hard concept for me because I ADORE breakfast--eggs, pancakes, french toast, yogurt--and avoiding meat at dinner isn't a big deal for me. Maybe I should flip it and eat vegan after breakfast. Either way, I've now got a bunch of good, vegan recipes for breakfasts and lunches (and many of those lunches make perfectly good dinners) as well as non-vegan dinner items with lots of veggies in them. Bittman also makes a point of letting you know where you can substitute different veggies or proteins so the recipes become more versatile.

So I'm going to see if it helps. One thing I really like is that Bittman always emphasizes eating real food, so there are no recipes in the book using fake meat or cheese. So hopefully I can balance my diet better, whether or not I commit to the VB6 lifestyle.

We shall see.

Monday, May 27, 2013

New Directions

It's probably about time I announced that I have retired from teaching Religious School.

About time, right?

I was planning to announce it last Sunday, which was officially my last day, but I was busy getting ready to officiate at a funeral so I missed the whole day and it seemed rather self-absorbed to be talking about my retirement when Hopper had just lost his grandmother.

So I'm announcing it now.

I have retired from Religious School and I intend to spend my newfound free time researching Humanism more thoroughly. I will check out some Humanist congregations in my area (actually, I think there's only one, but I'll check it out) and I'll also find out about some learning opportunities that will help me study Humanism in more depth. Ultimately, I hope to become a Humanist Officiant so that I can be licensed to perform weddings, funerals, baby namings and coming of age ceremonies.

So I guess I started on my new "career" a bit earlier than I expected. Anyway, I think I was helpful to some people I love in a time of great pain, and that always feels good.

Hopefully I'll have some new adventures along this different path.

We shall see.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Circles and more circles

This morning I saw this on Facebook, from my friend Erin who is raising money to help Barbara Garcia, who is the woman who found her dog in the rubble of her house in Moore, OK.

If anyone knows how I can reach John Barrowman, I'd love to join forces. He's trying to help Barbara as well, and is not answering tweets or emails.
Like ·  · 12 hours ago via GoFundMe · 

So I Google John Barrowman and decide I don't care who he is. He's some actor and then it turns out he's helping Erin raise money, so that's a good thing.

Then this afternoon I check in on the Wheatons on Twitter and I see this:

Also, John Barrowman held my hand on the way back into the building because we were using the Buddy System and it was magical.

The best part about evacuating convention center is Wil dropping my hand like a hot potato to hold 's hand walking back in.

. and I'm with him now...

So I Google John Barrowman and I'm all, "Didn't I already Google John Barrowman today?" And I totally did. Only THIS time, I'm all, "Why is he at ComicCon?" So I look more closely and find out he's Captain Jack from Doctor Who, which is actually quite cool indeed.

And THEN we were watching Doctor Who on Netflix, and The Doctor makes a Back to the Future reference, and I've just watched ALL THREE of those movies in the past week with Boo. And John Barrowman wasn't even in the episode.

It's getting freaky around here. Freaky, I tell you.

All coming together now...

The rose bush ate it, the raspberry bushes have been tamed, and the rosemary, chamomile and basil are in the ground.

Up next: two kinds of bok choi and one kind of sweet pepper. (The red kind.)

Sadly, we're having to take a year off from growing tomatoes. You're supposed to do that from time to time. It will drastically reduce the yield from our garden this year, but it has to be done.'s a lettuce fest out there and we've got more and more edible perennials, which was my starting goal. Every year we have less to do and more to eat!

Live blogging my garden

The garden is being wrestled into submission, mostly by Hopper, but I helped some before I had to come in to rest. (Stupid stomach bug.) When he is done hacking down everything that needs to be hacked down, I will go out and decide where the new veggies will get to grow.

We already have some string beans growing that I planted with the edible mulch. I am, by the way, enjoying the edible mulch. It seems to be effective at keeping weeds at bay, and whenever we want salad I just go out and give the garden a haircut and we have a delightful, fresh bowl of baby greens.

I think a rose bush is going to bite it today. The previous owner of our house planted a lot of roses and they're lovely but they get in my way and tend to be pokey, so I think one (or maybe two) will have to go.

To be continued...

Drama in the yard

My garden is out of control. I don't know how this happened. We missed one weekend due to a death in the family, and now it's like a jungle. And it's been rainy so we can't even do anything about it. And I've got a mysterious stomach ailment that is making it hard to eat which is leaving me with no energy so it's down to Hopper and Boo to get the garden under control in the brief sunny periods allotted to us by the Universe.

Ranty much?

To be continued...

Thursday, May 23, 2013

An inspiration

The first time I met her was at a Fourth of July party. Hopper and I were engaged on July 2nd, so the news was still fresh and although we had told our parents when we arrived home from Paris the night before, hardly anyone else knew.

The party was at Hopper's dad's apartment, and I was nervous because it was our first outing as an engaged couple. Hopper's brother was there (let's call him Bill), and some of their friends (whom I knew already, having been friends with Bill since college) but Hopper was most excited to introduce me to his 91-year-old grandmother.

For years, Grandma had been harassing Hopper and Bill to get married already because she wasn't planning to live forever. She wanted to see them each happily married before she died.

When we arrived, Grandma was learning the names of Bill's friends, politely nodding to each of them and instructing them to call her Grandma, too. Hopper introduced me, and I was also invited to call her Grandma. Then Hopper clarified, "This is my fiancee."

Grandma lit up like a firecracker. Suddenly, I was her favorite person in the world: the person who was making her dream come true.

Our relationship waxed and waned over the years. Grandma was a feminine lady--always dressed to a T, always wearing makeup and cologne and jewelry--so when I showed up in my trousers with my face naked and telling Hopper what to do, she didn't know what to make of me. Last summer, Bill was changing his baby's diaper when the baby peed all over the place, and Hopper ran over with some paper towels to help clean the floor. Grandma looked confusedly at me and at Bill's wife and said she felt sorry for these poor men having to change a diaper.

But Grandma had a good heart, and she knew that I love Hopper, and I make him happy, and he loves me and Boo. And that's all that mattered to her really.

Grandma died last weekend at the age of 103. 103 and 5/6, actually. We visited her in the hospital (Hopper visited her every day, but we wanted Boo's schedule to stay as close to normal as we could keep it, so I only got to visit twice) and we brought her a chocolate bar and a bottle of cologne that she had requested. She was herself to the end, and "herself" was an amazing woman who inspired everyone she knew.

But I'd always like to remember her face when Hopper told her that I was the woman who would make her dreams come true.

She is missed.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


"Most people are too busy being the stars of their own movies to worry about you." --my mom

We all see ourselves as the star of the movie. The camera follows us everywhere. We have the major players in our lives: spouse, children, parents, siblings, pets. Then there are the supporting players: co-workers, neighbors, friends. And, of course, the extras.

So when someone does something that hurts your feelings, you tend to feel like they did it on purpose. After all, everything in the movie revolves around the star! Therefore, the only conceivable reason that so-and-so didn't invite you to that party is that she was trying to make you feel excluded. Right?

Except for one thing. So-and-so doesn't know about your movie. So-and-so is the star of HER movie, and in that movie, you are just a day player. Or maybe her movie is about an invitation that got lost, or about being so distracted you forget things that are important, or about making the perfect balance of people at a party.

One thing is almost certain: her movie is not about you.

I have found this advice to be really useful in my life, so I thought I would pass it along. Give people the benefit of the doubt. Assume that it's not about you. Even if you know it's not true, believe the face-saving lie.

Life will be a lot more fun if you do.

Thursday, May 9, 2013


I'm working on an essay that I may never post. I'll have to see how it comes out, but it's on a personal topic and I'm not sure I'll want to share it when I'm done.

But at least I'm writing...

In other news, Delaware and Minnesota have passed Marriage Equality. New Jersey hasn't had time because we've been talking about our governor's secret weight loss surgery. It's good that our priorities are in order.

In the meantime, may I recommend The Frogman? Highly enjoyable.

Monday, May 6, 2013


My grandmother was friends with a mayor. A mayor! A LADY mayor, too.

Nana was so pleased that her friend was reinstated for the day so that she could officiate at her son's wedding. She told me all about it.

The whole time, I was thinking, "There are lady mayors who are Nana's age?!" First, I had to understand that mayors can officiate at weddings. Who knew? But I found it completely amazing that Nana was friends with the mayor of a nearby town.

She was a great mayor, too. As it happens, I now live in the town of which she was formerly mayor. When I go to the Town Hall, I pass a courtroom named after her. They're planting a tree in her memory this weekend. And when we first moved here, when she was still alive, every Democrat in town sought her endorsement.

And she was friends with MY Nana.

See, my Nana was a quiet lady. She was, in fact, a librarian. That's how quiet she was. But she was also that smart. Usually, I think of her and her generation as old-fashioned. After all, they were the parents of the Baby Boomers. They defined the Generation Gap. But the women my Nana chose as friends were all smart. Many of them (including my Nana) had careers. And many of them were active Feminists. (After all, Betty Freidan was only a few years younger than my Nana.)

I love to hear about the Vassar alumnae who went out and faced the world, breaking down gender barriers as they went. But I forget about the women closer to home--the Teachers and Librarians and scientists and businesswomen who faced down sexism to reach their goals.

I'm proud of my Nana and her friends.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Founder's Day

Vassar has an annual beer festival. After all, its founder, Matthew Vassar, was a brewer. It's well known that the unusual design of Main Building, with its wide hallways, was intended not only so that the first women at Vassar could exercise indoors, but also so that should the college fail, Matthew Vassar would be able to use the building as a brewery. The wide hallways would have enough space for transporting large kegs and beer-making equipment.

So every spring, Vassar College has Founder's Day, which has always featured free beer, but somewhere around the 1960's or 70's also began to feature a variety of other substances popular among the young and adventurous.

For many students, the day begins with private parties called "Breakfast of Champions." This breakfast consists, I am told, of Wheaties cereal topped with beer. At some point during the day, everyone stumbles over to the field outside the gym, where there is loud music, unlimited beer (if you purchase a cup to put it in and have secured a bracelet indicating that you are at least twenty-one years old) and carnival rides.

Because what's a drunken party without carnies?

The sun is hot, the lines are ridiculously long, but everyone is there. Blankets cover the hill, students lounging on every flat surface, discussing the various ways to sneak beverages past the unrelenting guards who have been known to empty out very expensive bottles of "water" even when they can't prove anything else was in there. Well, those who can talk are discussing that. Others are discussing how slowly the grass is growing, the many petals that can be seen on a dandelion, or how many arms Joel has suddenly developed. Still others are just staring, or sleeping, or rushing friends to the EMT tent.

Founder's Day is always the day when that couple we've all been waiting for finally hooks up, and that other couple breaks up. It's the day when friendships end, and when other friendships are sealed because the sober friend decides she really has to let that couple hook up (after all, we've been waiting FOREVER) and takes over caring for the drunk friend who may or may not have to go to the hospital. There's nothing like watching someone puke, or escorting her home in a security van because she can't walk, to seal a friendship forever.

After dinner, there's a movie shown on an outdoor screen, the beauty of Vassar surrounding you as the smell of pot wafts over the crowd. I don't know what happens after that--I was always in the dorm by then, holding someone's head, or trying to figure out why she couldn't walk.

I never drank much, and never did any illicit substances at all. I'm allergic to beer. The one year of college I might have had a drink or two, I had to drive the campus shuttle at 7PM and decided it was safer to stay hydrated before work. Still, I loved Founder's Day. I loved seeing all my friends in one place. I loved lounging on a blanket talking about nothing (although when the details of dandelion anatomy came up, I'd turn elsewhere for conversation. The good thing about people on hallucinogens is that they don't really notice when they're being snubbed.) I loved riding the rides and playing carnival games and winning stupid prizes.

Vassar is the most beautiful place I have ever lived, and just being out in the spring with my friends enjoying the campus was amazing.

And that friend who couldn't handle the drinking? I think I'll go call her right now.

Friday, May 3, 2013

It's that time

I have to write it. The obligatory post about how I haven't been writing. Every blogger writes it eventually.

I'm not really sure why I haven't been writing. I haven't been knitting either. Or exercising. Or advocating for gun safety. I've been volunteering at Boo's school and playing solitaire. Sometimes I go to work. Oh, and I've been reading the Percy Jackson books, which I heartily recommend.

My house is a mess. I feel fat. I'm getting the ache in my back that comes when I've been sitting around too much. I know what I ought to do. In fact, I swore that today would be the day I'd exercise. Yesterday, too.

But still...solitaire.

So maybe this is the first step off the couch. No, that can't be, I'm lying down.

Maybe this is what I have to do to get ready to move off the couch.

I'm creating something, even if that something is a whiny accounting of the things I've not been doing. Tomorrow, I have plans to spend the day with old friends in a favorite old stomping ground. That won't help with feeling fat, I'm sure, as there will be indulgences. But it will be active, and fun, and I hope that it will become another good memory that Hopper and Boo and I share with each other and with old friends.

And then I swear I'm going to clean the house.