Monday, July 27, 2015
I'm not obsessive about it, weighing myself just if my pants feel tight. But after I blew my knee out in a fall, I lost 20 some pounds and felt so much better after, I've worked to keep it off.
So when I feel like I've overindulged, I don't count calories, I don't do extra time at the gym. I just cut back on carbs for a few days, more of a Paleo style diet with no processed/high sodium foods, including meats and cheeses (which even if low carb aren't all that great for you), no dairy, grains (except for chia seeds in smoothees) or bread. Then I seriously up my low sugar fruits and veggies. For me, my downfall is carbs - waffles, pancakes and particularly cornbread, corn anything, which is a favorite. So a couple of weeks ago, when I saw a 4 pound weight gain from time off with my Dad I said NO to all carbs and bread going cold turkey (literally) with more Paleo style eating for a whole week. The result was the phone call that ensued, to a good gal friend of mine, retired Air Force, NRA instructor and squirrel in another squirrel division. We all have those friends, that are more like sisters and you can tell ANYTHING to.
Me: I tried to do the no bread/no processed food Paleo thing - it didn't go so well.
L. - What happened?
Me: I made it almost a week.
Me: I just ate an entire box of corn dogs. . . . . With a beer chaser.
L. (laughing) I love you.
But cutting back on cheese, sugar processed food and supersized portions IS a healthy way to cut back, but it's easier if you start by just replacing a few meals as you gradually adjust to healthier eating habits.
By using a measured container, I find I get a nice variety but I'm not stuffed and heading into a coma after lunch. Herb Chicken, salad with candied pecans and blueberries, grapes, carrots and almond raisin mix. All I add is a splash of olive oil based salad dressing I keep in the fridge at work and a bottled water. There's also extra apples in the fridge for an afternoon snack with my tea if I need one.
For dinner - something totally new.
ZOODLES. That's right, noodles made out of zucchini I bought the little julienne tool at Amazon and figured - worst case scenario I could eat the sauce. I was just craving some pasta and thought it was worth a try.
Simply wash the zucchini's, cut off the ends and make a thin slice on the top and bottom. so it stays in place on the cutting board and you have a level surface to julienne, Then you simply run the slicer over it to make long strands of zuchinni.
Cover the zoodles and nuke for two minutes when the sauce is heating. (If you're doing a big batch you might want to cook a bit longer).
Saturday, July 25, 2015
Over in Pittsboro, Jeff Gordon's hometown, there was a huge parade to honor him. I wonder if behind Barkley's first Vet there in that town is still the giant mural of Dale Ernhardt on the side of this one house, of someone that was NOT a Gordon fan. Mr. Gordon, I imagine, smiled and took it in stride and just waved to the hometown fans that love him.
At the grocers, there were race flags and pretty girls offering samples of hot dogs and tailgate food. and I almost took out Richard Petty with my shopping cart, the six foot something cardboard cutout of him anyway. Even early in the morning, the place was jumping. This is a big weekend in this city, and out in the Western suburbs, reasonably close to the race, the air is thick with humidity and excitement.
But there was just something about being there close to the sights and the sounds. If any of you remember "Spinal Tap" guitarist Nigel Tufnel - he once said of the volume knobs on his amps "These go to eleven". If they go to eleven, a NASCAR track goes to fifteen, with a wild resonance made up of all of all of the sounds of the earth. There is something about the deep throated roar of dozens of cars firing up, as if something angry was unleashed from the earth, hungry and drawn by the smell of hundreds of barbecue grills. It was "Gentlemen, Start your Engines", it was the National Anthem, and flags waving, and if you were lucky a military jet flying overhead.
Alongside my Matchbox Mustang, there a little Matchbox car around here from some years back,in UPS colors as I was a huge Dale Jarrett fan back in the day. He was always, and remains my favorite NASCAR driver as I remember the time he won a big race only to talk with pride about his daughter and a recent scholastic achievement. That man is a class act and his racing retirement video still brings a smile and a tear to my eye.
You don't see that many older drivers and there's good reason. It takes a degree of strength not evident merely by looking at the build of the driver. Dad, even as much of a sports nut as he is, doesn't watch racing, saying it's not as challenging as other sports (this is a man that thinks GOLF is exciting, a sport I find as fast paced and excitement laden as farming). But I can say this as someone that' thrown around some serious G's in a jet in her time. That would be a big NO.
Indy racing? Sure it's sleek and super fast, but it' also a flat track, not a track that can have 16 degree banking where you get enough g's to launch you into space, while you do 180 mph inches from someone else doing 180 miles an hour. You don't see that in open wheel racing, and having flown formation, I can tell you it's a heck of a lot harder than it looks. It would be like being in rush hour traffic on the 294 tollway in Chicago doing 180 miles an hour where every single driver is like that idiot in a 180 mph Smart Car that jumps down in front of you, inches from your bumper, like his Smart Phone just notified him he was late for his meeting with Jesus.
Sometimes though, there is that fatally flawed moment, when motion meets something equally as hard. There is a crash, and the sound of rending metal, a howl of machinery that takes on the character if that very moment, the rage, the pain, and the dismay. As debris flies, the team responds, waving hands making eddies in the smoke as help is called and the flag is out. The crowd is on it feet with a hush, listening for those small sounds that survived the debacle, the death knell of a broken motor mount, the tumbling of a piece of wreckage off of a wall. Where ten minutes ago some were cursing this driver because he or she wasn't their favorite, now they are praying for them to climb out of the car with a supportive wave to race another day
The unexpected still of the air, carries on it more than one gathered prayer, a collective heaven-sent message from those that still believe in that power. It is a stillness that is more than quiet, it is a slender hair that holds a sword suspended over the scene. What lays upon the track as the caution comes out, is the wisdom of man rendered helpless by the indifference of physics. We aren't drawn to the sport for the mayhem, but it is ever present, the dangers that pushing the edge of motion carries with it.
As we watch the cars race towards that checkered flag we are all brought back to our own moments, where speed and timing and choice moved us towards victory or something that just wasn't going to "buff out".
I also remember a long ago proficiency check in a simulator for a jet aircraft I was flying at the time. The instructor pointed out a light in the distance at high altitude (the computer generated visuals on a Level D Simulator are nothing short of amazing). I drew my craft closer to it, to see, at 38,000 feet a brown UPS truck racing across the sky that the simulator engineers had programmed in. I tipped my hat to Dale, and dropped a wing to return to formation.
But this weekend- I'll let the noise be in my memory, and smell of a grill only on my deck. I've had a week of going round and round,even with a coefficient of lift in my office chair that doesn't do much in the way of G forces. I've seen too much bent metal in my time, and this weekend, I'd rather not see any more. But I will breathe deep the smell of charcoal and asphalt and I will remember those days sitting in the stands, waiting for something much louder and more powerful than a little redheaded teen ever imagined she could be.
I'll bring out a little metal race car with UPS on it, closing my hand around it as if it was a symbol of all those little freedoms I learned at that age, and of the dangers that made it so very precious.
Ladies and Gentlemen - Start your Engines.
Friday, July 24, 2015
Abby travels back and forth from home to the little crash pad in the city where I work. It's a cozy little place with some of the furniture from the house I owned when I met my husband and little things that make me smile.
Abby's walker L. invites her in for play time after romping in the yard with Andy their rescue lab.
She has a dog walker/sitter at both homes, someone to let her in and out, and stay overnight with her if need be or have her stay with them. She's pretty laid back and minds really well, including having to block her into a specific room at the crash pad when the landlord sends someone to change the furnace filter, check the smoke detector or replace a bulb in the high ceiling fixtures.
Abby just stays behind it, knowing she can see me as I pull in. Then she goes to sleep.
Or so I thought.
There were two days in a row she was blocked in the living room with her toys and water bowl as a small repair was being made in the kitchen. When I came home the first day she was in her usual position - on the couch in the blocked living room, half asleep and looking slightly bored.
If Mom really loved me she'd have one of those aerial baby toys that goes over the couch with music and dangling bacon.
She does occasionally change positions. Last night when I went to take her out one last time before bed she was on sprawled out on her back with one leg straight UP in the air towards the ceiling like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. Low light kept me from getting a photo but I cracked up.
On day two, I came home, but it was Friday, so she was reading the tabloids, looking less than happy about the most recent celebrity divorce.
Today was slightly different though as when I got home I talked to the Indy dog walker to set up next weeks schedule.
She said "Abby was so cute, meeting me by the front door".
I said "huh? No, she was blocked in the living room for the maintenance guy so she couldn't greet him at the door and escape".
She said " No, she must have jumped over the chair when you left for work."
AND jumped back and pretended to be asleep when I got home.
I'm on to you Abby.
I better go count my beers there's no telling what ELSE she was up to. :-)
Wednesday, July 22, 2015
I LOVE my Indiana's own Frangipani skin care cleansers and moisturizers (see sidebar for a link) and my bath and makeup products from Bee Naturals of St. Louis but I also found a great little company that specializes in organic essential oil, perfumes and soaps and other assorted bath and body products from a little sustainable farm in Chickaloon, ALASKA, run by a former Air Traffic Controller (who I probably talked to at one time), I had to try some of their products. OK guys, before you tune out, remember some beautiful lady that loves you that might like that you took the time to find a specialty product for her. :-)
In the 90's Air Traffic Control Rick Wilder had a dream of forming a community of people driven to restore the fading concept of the multi-generational, family owned and operated small business. Twenty years later, Taproot farms has achieved that as true- life farmers prizing the land and being good stewards of the resources they have, using what is available locally to provide heat, water and power for their community.
Pure product made with the best, organic ingredients, simply handcrafted, created with the nose, eyes and hand of an artist not some factory. These are products they would use themselves, and I'm certainly glad I tried them.
In addition to essential oils, they have a number of 100% pure argon oils that are phenomenal to help with hair and hails - just a drop or two will make both sleek and strong. They also have scented ones. I put a drop or two of the lavender argon oil in my hair at night. I sleep like a baby and in the morning my hair is SO soft.
The best part? $12 and they smell as expensive as the department store brands that are $60-$80 as well as last longer as it takes just the smallest amount for a long lasting but subtle fragrance (they will also sell you three samples of your choice for $5)
They also have soaps. I do love my goats milk soap but my husband really liked Taproots sandalwood soap for the shower and it lasted forever, maintaining the wonderful, masculine scent til the last bit.
If you have a sustainable farm or homestead yourself they also carry one of the few Kelp Meals for chickens, pigs goats, cows, horses and pets, full of essential trace minerals, free of all of the arsenic normally found in plant based kelp meals.
They ship everywhere, and even coming from Alaska, I have my products within about a week of order without paying extra for uber-fast shipping.
So if you want some wonderfully scented natural bath and both products for yourself or as a gift for a family member, (which may include Kelp Meal for Arnold the Pig) check them out
This is N109SJ on the missed.
Tuesday, July 21, 2015
It was about four years ago, one of those flawless winter afternoons, the sky crisp and heavy with thought. Coming back from work, I was hurrying to get home. Even though the day wasn't late, it had started very early and I wanted to get home to my black lab before he was doing the Barkley Bladder Boogie. So I took the shorter route on the freeway to get towards home, anticipating the glare of the setting sun when the sky turns to diamond brilliance for a few minutes, intensifying the sound of the truck engine bouncing off the cooling pavement. I was just below the speed limit, as speeds traps were rife through here, the windows up, YoYo-Ma playing Vivaldi quietly on the stereo. So many thoughts going through my head.
The scene I had just left was not a good one and knew I would be carrying the sights and smells of the day with me on the drive, perhaps hanging those thoughts of them up somewhere this evening so I could get some sleep. I needed to think about other, happier things. I needed to stop at the store and get some milk and paper towels on the way home. I needed to give a friend a call back. But I wasn't thinking about my home and my Barkley home on the couch.
He's the keeper of the sofa, guardian of the throw rugs, and something I never planned on getting, but I did, suckered in by the litter of black fur. The first night home, he slept on my chest as I lay on the couch next to his prepared little kennel of which he wanted no part. I felt the gentle thump against my chest, for he began to give me his heart that very first night, and he, mine.
Then the days became weeks, and then months, and before you knew it he was my protector, not the other way around. On those days, when the reality of another sanguinary day takes hold, I could escape into the loving affection of a simple game of fetch or a nap for two on the family room couch. That safe spot buffered me, hid me, helped me distance myself from anything that troubled me, while he and I both left the past in bounding leaps of faith and joy. But, that night, as I drove along the freeway, I wasn't thinking about the doggy greeting I would get when I got home, Barkley yipping for joy at the sound of my big black Chevy truck coming up the drive.
I used to have a VW Jetta, until I moved to where the drive to work involved two lane highways, head on traffic, and little to no plowing before getting to the main freeway into the city. Looking at oncoming traffic as I fought for traction on a road not always plowed, it hit me. Not the subtle detection of nature's wrath I've sensed in the woods when I've picked up my gun and moved quickly to shelter. It was something that had been lurking in my mind for some time, even as I made my way in haste through the dark. It was that perception of a large grill of a semi truck about to spring full clawed on me if it crossed the center line. I realized suddenly how tiny my little VW was and how little chance I had of living if I hit something bigger than I.
Then a couple days later I hit black ice. I was alone on the road, going pretty slow, but I still found myself suddenly facing 180 degrees from the direction I was headed but still in my lane. I'm really not sure how that happened. I know all the rules in a rear end skid, don't brake, steering in the direction of the skid, so that the momentum of the vehicle will straight you out. I think though, in this case, I simply closed my eyes and muttered increasing loud four letter words as my hands did something with the steering wheel from muscle memory.
The next day I bought the bat truck. Four wheel drive isn't my personal savior but I now looked down ON some of the other trucks. It had an extended cab and four doors and big tires. It's as nimble as a Humpback whale. But I bought it to haul stuff and for protection around me, not to play Speed Racer on the interstate.
What we drive is a deeply personal thing. For some, a car is nothing more than transport, Point A to Point B. For some it's a need to show off to the world some image of yourself that only you carry. For some it's custom license plate with a useless Humming SUV that is no better at serious off road antics or warfare than the Smart Car.
I've a truck for squirrel usage when needed, also 4 wheel drive, to get into places that people just don't want to go. I've gotten used to a big truck, and find myself feeling strangely small and vulnerable in anything else.
I feel the same way when I go out without a weapon on my hip. I notice how small I am compared to most men, and certainly most criminals. I've felt it in a city where I could not carry, walking faster, head up, trying to look confident as I swim in a river filled with sharp toothed predators. Kick and stroke, kick and stroke, no fear of drowning, just a fear of the sharks out there as I move, vulnerable as a small minnow in a deep river.
There's nothing worse than the feeling of being small prey, when you have nothing of tooth and claw to protect yourself. I was walking in the woods one night, unarmed before that day I fully understood just how far down on the food chain I was. As I walked down a trail towards my car, I got the sense of something following me. There were no big cats in this part of the Midwest, though I'd heard a coyote way off in the distance, but it set my feet on edge. I heard something behind me, sudden, soft, movements. I stopped. It stopped. It didn't sound big, but still the hairs on my arms stood up. I moved, it moved. I stopped, it stopped. Coyote? Evil Penguin from Wallace and Gromit? Feral cat? Elf on meth?
I couldn't help share the survival instincts of the coyote and a small rabbits quivering role in our precarious world. A world in which the soft and innocent can get snatched out of at any time, grabbed in an explosion of pain. I had no defense, nothing more to protect myself than a set of car keys.
How old is fear? How acquired? And when do we stop listening to it? Somethings running through me that defied predation. The night gathered, rabbits run away, and behind me something moved, a fuzzy harmless woodland creature, or something with eyes as flat as dried blood. It was not a good feeling. I may be college educated and a citizen of the most powerful nation on earth, but on that dark night, I was simply a young woman alone, flesh and blood.
I turned around and turned on my flashlight, scaring the absolute stuffing out of a tiny little porcupine. Hardly more than a baby, he was more afraid of my big form, than I was of his little one and quickly scurried away with a shrill squeaky noise. But after that, I didn't walk the woods unarmed.
I do think I walk differently when I'm armed. I don't open carry. That's a deeply personal choice as well, but just as you don't advertise a punch, I don't like to advertise what my capabilities are. I don't carry in my purse either. I'd probably find my gun in there as quickly as I do my keys and the perp would have already stepped over my body, pawned my gold necklace and had a beer, by the time I got my firearm free from the bowels of my oversized purse.
But I do walk differently, with more confidence, head held higher, hands as free as I can make them. I normally carry even with Barkley with me. More than one woman has disappeared with a dog by her side. Barkley is deeply protective, but I don't know if the Labrador retriever, by general nature, would sink his teeth into someone trying to grab me. Should my attacker be asthmatic and have issues with pet dander, well, the bad guy would be toast, but I'm not willing to run an experiment to find out. So when I'm walking him in early morning, when the neighbors aren't out and about, I carry. On those early mornings, just before daylight, when that dark and solitary suspension of night shifts and brightens with the tentative wakings of both birds and men, we are out. He with his teeth, and I with mine.
But I wasn't thinking about that on that drive home that day, or Barkley. As I left a small road to get onto the freeway, as trees released the load of snow from sagging shoulders onto a road spotted with ice. Four wheel drive won't help me with ice, but I was aware of the might of steel around me, should I end up in a ditch.
The freeway is busy, but not backed up, cars zipping past me at 70 mph. Then there, up ahead, half a mile or so, the flash of numerous red tail lights, and with them my pilot brain went into "master caution" mode. Less than a quarter mile ahead of me, a delivery truck swerved a bit, the car next to it did likewise as if trying to see what was happening up ahead. I eased off the accelerator. There was a young girl in a tiny car behind me, I'd noticed her as I'd passed her, twenty something, chatting on the phone, not a care in the world. I couldn't see anything abnormal ahead either, only experience on the road caused me to take my foot off of the accelerator and tap the brake light, hoping she would see and get away from my bumper.
That phrase "it happened in a blink of an eye", didn't take into account how fast an eye could actually blink. Some one had lost a chair from the back of a truck, a recliner, laying there now in the middle of my lane up ahead. There was truck running just ahead and to the right of me in another lane. If I hit the brakes hard, I could tuck in behind him, but then the girl in the tiny car behind me would likely smash into me if she didn't see the brake lights, or simply plow into the chair. I think the chair was bigger than her car. My only other choice, to hit the horn and swerve around the chair into the left lane, hoping she would see or hear and do the same; hoping I didn't lose control on a slippery road. She was likely still on her phone, not paying the slightest attention to what was unfolding.
My truck was in tip top shape and the brakes are as reliable as they can be. After years as a pilot, my reflexes were developed to make instant movement, with my brain able to calculate time, speed and distance in a way honed by landing a large chunk of metal onto a tiny surface at 123 mph.
In that blink, I was not thinking about driving into my driveway, happy to be home. I was not thinking about where all these vehicles were headed, and so fast. I was thinking about the rest of my day, of fractured steel, and fragile lives, the structure of bone and skin and tears. I've seen fate dive down from the heavens and felt the disastrous beating of its wings. As a pilot, I myself have fought it off with the advance of a throttle, or the jamming of a brake, split second choices that result in clear sunny skies or shattered ruin.
I did not think of my beloved Barkley waiting for me there at home. I thought of blood and bone and tiny fragile vehicles that carried someones heart. I thought of nothing and everything, as simply and ungracefully, I swerved around the debris in the road.
Fortunately, the girl behind me did too, and it was just another bad day of driving in the Hoosier State. But there, in only instants, lives can change. The world may appear to go by as leisurely and randomly as cattle or clouds, but within it are moments in which one single decision may save or break us. It's there in that moment where fear becomes action, as we gauge a threat as if there was nothing else in our vision or our future, save that.
As my heart slowed, I looked at a photo of a black dog in the visor of my big black truck. I pat the gun on my hip, small things, big choices, that keep the chance of being hurt from finding us.
Sunday, July 19, 2015
Thursday, July 16, 2015
On the second floor, among the many collections of tools, a lovely woman in period costume named Susan demonstrated the art of weaving from flaxen thread to make linen, as well as the meticulous process by which the strands of soft flax emerged from a course stalk.
One of the room depictions in the grist house, which included a kitchen and room where the spinning wheels worked, was a little girls room. The furniture was adult furniture, carefully crafted in miniature, the bed, one in which her parents would watch her sleep, praying that she never knew fear or hunger. On the bed was a doll, a small, clothed artifact of that innocent corridor that is childhood.
Yes, the lives of past history are seldom easy, but there would be riches of experience we can not see, the accomplishment of crafting something that would last for generations. There is the pride in your teaching your own family. You teaching, not a school, not a "village", teaching the skills they would need to not just survive, but to prosper beyond the scope of your life. There was also the saving, not perhaps love or riches, but what is left behind in a human spirit when everything else has been taken away.
But they did not.
How many slaves did Mr. Graue shelter there in the basement of his gristmill? How many people passed through this room, putting their trust in a strangers hands, hesitant perhaps to take hold, as a hand too near the stove remembers pain. How difficult must that have been, trust replacing the whip of whistling air, the blow.
On the walls were pictures of some of the slaves, their eyes all projecting something, not words to be spoken but rather a profound and distracted listening for something they know exists, but do not yet know its sound. I paused as I looked at the photos, one of those prolonged moments that contains the distance between this place as it was, and what it is now, everything that has been evoked or dared to bring us both to this place.
As I walked up the narrow stairs from that small and once dark place where women and men ran for their freedom, out into the light, an echo spoke which was not mine but rather all of the lost immutable "should haves" which haunt all dwellings, all the enclosed walls of home or heart. It lingers in the air as a hand takes mine to guide me safely away.
I left the mill with some bags of grain, but even more, with a renewed sense of thankfulness. Not just for my lightweight iron and the luxury of a long, hot, solitary bubble bath, but for something else. I left with a sense of enduring hope for that which is the human spirit, the recognition of a life lived by ones own hand and choice.
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
Apparently I missed "National French Fry Day" yesterday. Today's choice was "National Nude Day" but after "National French Fry Day" NO ONE wants to be caught in the nude after eating the bag of Five Guys Fries.
So I'm just going to be a day late on the fries for lack of time for anything else on my "Monday".
Loaded Potato wedges with Sciracha dipping sauce. A nice little side dish for your "browned cow"..
makes 4 side dish servings
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon Sriracha (thai chili sauce, also known as Rooster Sauce)
2 large potatoes
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup cheddar (I used a mix of white and smoked cheddar)
2-3 Tablespoons diced bacon
1 green onion (green portion only) chopped.
Sriracha Dipping Sauce
1 cup sour cream
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
2 teaspoons sriracha, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Cut potatoes into wedges (extra thick steak fry sized). Whisk olive oil and Sriracha together in a small bowl. Pour over potatoes in a bowl and toss to coat. Add spices and toss again. Place on an ungreased baking sheet. Roast in oven for 15 minutes. Stir and flip potatoes with a spatula (they will be sizzling) and roast another 10-20 minutes (varies based on size of potato but remove from oven when tender when poked with a fork and golden brown, watching closely the last couple of minutes to avoid burning).
While potatoes are cooking, whisk dipping sauce ingredients together in a small bowl,
Remove potatoes from oven, sprinkle with smoked cheddar, bacon, and green onion and serve with Sriracha dipping sauce.