Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Teens and Smoking

The other day my son announced to my husband and I that he is not longer going to smoke cigarettes. I didn't believe him, but I was hopeful none the less. I don't understand how he can do it any way even after we have tried over and over to tell him how bad it is for him. I thought he was smarter than that. Even after he saw my stepfather, a man who was very important in my son's life, died of lung cancer because of smoking, you would think he might think it was not a good thing to do.

So I waited a little. Turned out I didn't have to wait all that long because within a few days he was back to smoking again. He even bought cigarettes for his friends for Christmas. I called them his "presents of death" and made fun of him while he was giving them out. I guess since all his friends smoke he isn't going to quit until they do. I remember it was hard for me to quit when my friends smoked.

Even the other day I got into his car and it reeked so I had to drive with the windows open. Here it is 20 degree weather and I am riding around with the windows rolled all the way down. I went back in to the house when I got back and put on a rough sounding voice to exaggerate how much it bothered my asthma. It really wasn't that bad, but I wanted to make a big deal about it none the less. It didn't really phase him.

I am just hoping and praying that he gets the message soon that smoking is NOT cool and he should quit.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Layered Tortilla Stack

The other night I made another throw together concoction that my husband raved about. He insisted I even take a picture of it and write the recipe up and post it on my FaceBook. I can't believe what a fuss me made about the dish, but he used his favorite phrases, "killer" and "gut bomb" when describing it licking his lips the whole time.
I had remembered a recipe some time back where you used tortillas in the place of lasagna noodles and there was some mixture close to taco seasoning for ground beef. While we are trying to stay away from beef as much as possible I started with a chopped yellow onion and then browned a pound of ground turkey. I went to the cupboard to find out what else I could throw in there and I found a jar of black beans, a can of chopped jalapenos, and a can of enchilada sauce. In the 'fridge I found some shredded cheese and tortillas and started cooking away.

I tried to spice the turkey with seasonings that were similar to tacos so of course chili powder and cumin were a must. I added those spices to taste.  To that I added garlic powder, ancho power, and cayenne pepper. I added a little cinnamon too as I have used that in chili recipe in the past. I dumped in the beans after rinsing them, enchilada sauce and the chopped jalapenos.  After cooking it and adjusting for the spices, I layered it with cheese between medium tortillas in a casserole dish. On went aluminium foil and popped it into a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes until the cheese melted. Since we were on the taco idea here, I chopped up some lettuce and put sour cream and salsa on the top when served.

It's always a relief when something turns out well.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I don't know why, but I am all excited for Christmas. I usually don't get this way, but for some reason I am as giddy as a three year old. It isn't as if I am expecting much; my teenaged boy has been sullen for the last few days and he has told me that he doesn't believe in Christmas and didn't want us to get a tree. But I got him gifts anyway and I hope he likes them. I never know what to get my husband, because he takes back most everything I get, but I did get a few things for him and everything is wrapped and under the tree.

The biggest present that I am giving are two miniature rooms to my parents. Both are pianists and I made music studios for them which are electrified and decorated. I can't wait until they open them. My mother is not going to see hers until Boxing Day as that is when we typically celebrate as a extended family. Every year for the past few years, we have been doing the day after Christmas and having a Mexican feast. We started that tradition because my brother and his wife are musicians and typically have gigs on Christmas which made it hard to get together. I guess I am excited because I am anticipating her reaction to her roombox. I am also anxious to see how my sister-in-law is going to take it as we have this little contest to see who can get my mother the best gift. She doesn't know its a contest, but I feel very competitive about it.

I don't know when I am going to see my dad, but I think it might be next week sometime (they have been divorced for many years and he lives over an hour away). He has not been well, and it's a crap shoot as to how he is feeling every day. A few weeks ago he didn't even think he was going to make Christmas, so we are all thankful he is doing well - at least for now.

So Merry Christmas to everyone and I hope that 2010 is everything you want it to be.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Oh Christmas Tree...

Well I went out and I did buy a small Christmas tree. It was at a local shop and I went in and told the man I wanted the smallest tree possible. He had one that was about 4 feet high and cut it down a little and charged me less than it was going for. I rushed home and got a tree stand and put it on the table in the dining room where we usually put our big tree. I just got finished decorating it and the phone rang. It was my husband who cooed into the phone that he had a surprise for me! My heart sank just knowing that he got a tree.

A few hours later and my husband came home with his "surprise". It was a small tree that he had gotten from his boss for free - well as a partial payment for the plowing that he was doing. We both had a laugh when he saw the tree that I had up and decorated. Since the tree he brought was nicer and a little bigger, we took the other one down and put the new one up, but this time we had to use the other tree stand that we normally use. He said that he just couldn't come home after seeing my puppy-dog eyes after telling me that it was not going to be possible to get a Christmas tree this year.
After a little time we decided to put the other tree back in the small tree stand and put it out on our front porch. So now we have two!

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Christmas Blues

So now I am officially bummed. I took a look at Marths Stewart's blog and she was showcasing her home Christmas decorations. Well I am about as far from Martha Stewart as a polar bear is from Africa. But I try to have a nice Christmas docrated house every year. This year, though, things are different. First of all we haven't gotten our tree yet. I said yet but it is a real possiblity that it will be not at all. I don't have the car to get a large tree, and my husband has been plowing snow after we got hit with about 15 inches of the white stuff in our area. So he is busy, and today when I suggested we get the tree, he balked.

My son doesn't like all the hubbub of the holiday so he is not going to help. So I did my Nativity Scene and my angels and today while my son is at school and my husband is at work (I have vacation until the beginning of 2010) I am going to get a tree on my own. A little one and it will be all decorated when they come home.

So I best get going.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


I have some interesting stuff, well to me at least, on my iPod. One recording artist I came across is Kirsty MacColl. I am not sure where I first heard her stuff, but if you have not heard her you really should. Her songs are a little different that what’s out there. She talks about some weird stuff and has great melodies. The bad thing is that she died in 2000 in a tragic boating accident.

On the last album she made, Tropical Brainstorm, she has a song named, “In These Shoes?”. It’s a wacky song about a girl who is asked out by several men but refuses to go anywhere with them because of the shoes she is wearing. For anyone has ever worn silly, strappy, totally impractical shoes, you can definitely get that song. It came on my iPod the other day and it got me to thinking about shoes – not that I need to think about them as I totally love them.

But I mean, who ever invented the high heel? When you sit down and think about them, they really are the silliest thing ever. Despite the fact that when I wear them I feel glamorous, sexy, and powerful, they are badly designed and terrible for your feet. I did a Google search and found a site where they have a timeline showing the evolution of the high heel. Apparently, the high heel may have been invented by Leonardo da Vinci when in 1533 short-statured Italian bride Catherine d'Medici wore them to exaggerate her height. Later, shoes with high heels were worn by both sexes to aid those who were “vertically challenged”. From a practical standpoint the raised heels are sometimes claimed to have been a response to the problem of the rider's foot slipping forward in stirrups while riding in the 1500s, and I guess it kind of emerged from there. Fast forward to 1904 and the English “pump” comes to America followed by tall "stiletto" heels for women's shoes, invented in Italy, in about 1955 and become a fashion rage then. There is also a Wikipedia page (of course) that lists many historical facts of the high heel.

High heels do give the illusion of longer, slenderer and toned legs, so in the name of vanity they are worn to attract the eye of the male in the complicated courting game we all go through. But they are a nightmare for podiatrists everywhere because they cause such bad things to your feet. As I said, I love wearing them despite the fact I can barely walk in them and can’t have them on for very long. I envy those women who wear them all day long and claim they have no problems with their feet or walking. Maybe really good, expensive shoes are move comfortable, but I have always had problems with heels higher than 3 inches and tend to stick to ones slightly lower, and as I get older I wonder about the sanity of wearing such dangerous garb. I mean, really, who am I trying to impress?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Food Blogging

There are a number of people that I follow on Twitter, one of them being everydayfood. Today, there was a tweet that said there is a food blog as part of the site. It reminded me of the move Julie & Julia, which I saw over the weekend and loved, and I wondered if maybe I should blog about the meals that I often spontaneously create when I am feeling particularity adventurous. So anyway, here it goes.

Last week the dinner I made was a last minute kind of thing. I had half a pork loin marinated in Portobello seasoning which was frozen and my son had requested tortellini, as that is one of his favorite foods. My husband and I had started a little late on the exercise treadmill and so I didn’t have a lot of time. So I defrosted the pork loin in the microwave, sliced it into medallions and melted some EVO and about 1 tablespoon of butter in a pan and began to sauté it. I realized it was quite naked looking so I sliced up a yellow onion and opened a can of sliced mushroom to add to the meat. While that was cooking, I made the tortellini and steamed some broccoli florets. In about 20 minutes the medallions were nicely browned and I served it up. I thought it might be nice to put some gravy on the meat as it was a little dry, but having no canned gravy or even an appropriate soup to use, served it as is. I was right, it was a little dry and my son even commented on it.

Note to self: get some canned or bottled gravy to use in a pinch.

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Different Planet

My son finally landed a part-time job after quite a bit of searching, although not as hard as I would have liked him to. When speaking to his boss the other day I was relieved to hear that my son is working very hard and seems to be very conscientious. Wait a minute, I thought, are we talking about my son?

I remember when my son was quite little and I would leave him at a friend’s house for a play date. When coming back to get him the mother of that friend would often remark that my son was so polite and well behaved, and I would have the same reaction. My son? What boy where? What have you done with my son, and can I keep him? What is it about kids where they are little angels at someone else’s house and the devil incarnate at your own?

At any rate, now that my son has joined the workforce maybe he won’t be quite as irresponsible at the house…or not. Oh well, if so maybe I have flown to a different planet. Don’t worry; I like it here.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Terrible Cold

I have had a cold since Thanksgiving. It’s not been any cold, no…it’s been the Mama of all colds. It started with a sore throat and then progressed to a bad cough and a stuffy head, and now it’s just a stuffy head. My doctor announced that I was suffering from a dysfunctional Eustachian tube. Just another thing about me that is dysfunctional, but I digress. So now I have to find an otolaryngologist. What a name. I have learned that the word otolaryngology means the study of the ear, nose and throat diseases from the Greek oto = genitive for ear, laryngo = genitive for larynx/throat, logy = study.

Anyway, I remember that my son saw one near our home when he had his nose broken in a fight and was suffering from spontaneous nose bleeds, so I went to Google and looked for, and found, the doctor and made an appointment. While I was on the Internet, I searched for various remedies for a blocked ear and found several items all saying pretty much the same thing. When you have a blocked ear, you need to yawn to clear it rather than close your nose off and blow. Apparently that can cause harm to your ear drum. I did the later and got the biggest head rush of my life. I was driving at the time and actually had to pull over because I became so lightheaded I could not drive in a straight line…scary. I also found that a strong decongestant, coupled with a nose spray and ibuprofen to reduce the swelling helps. Ah, some relief. I still haven’t removed the stuffiness, but it has lessened a bit, albeit a small bit.

I have a real empathy for deaf people from this experience. I used to think that of all the senses I won’t miss my hearing as much. But now, with the drastic reduction of my hearing I realize that the hearing sense is just as important as anything.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Teenaged Communication or The Lack Therof

One of the struggles with having a teenaged son, I think, is basic communication. Maybe it’s just my son who is so stubborn. Maybe it’s just my son who thinks that he knows it all at the tender age of 18. No, I think it’s teenagers in general. I do remember thinking my mother was stupid when I was that age, and that there was no way she could ever understand my reasoning, but I don’t remember being so blatantly rude to her.

Take swearing for example. My son seems to think that the F-word is acceptable in any situation. I can’t seem to make him understand that the word is not only unacceptable but when used in everyday conversation connotes a person of low class. I thought I brought him up better than that, but apparently at a certain age all the pearls of wisdom that I have thrown his way have been discarded. I have now taken to merely hanging up on him when he begins to use that language on the phone, or walking out of the room when he goes on his tirade. Trouble is that it is a little hard to push him out of a moving vehicle especially when he is driving! I told him in no uncertain terms that I am highly offended by that word; doesn’t seem to matter.

There are other things that he does that simply drive me up the wall, but I go on for pages and pages. Suffice it to say that I can’t wait until all the neurons in is brain find their connection when he is 24 – at least that is what studies say. Then maybe I have a decent conversation with him and he might just begin to think that I have lived a long enough life to have gained a little bit of intelligence to reply in a civilized manner.

Monday, December 7, 2009

A Mother's Prayer

Here's a poem I wrote recently:

A Mother’s Prayer

What happened to that little boy who used to hold my hand?
What happened to that little boy with face so suntanned?
What happed to that delightful child?
Who laughed and sang and played so wild?

These past few months have been so hard
With the fighting, crying, the doors barred.
Gone are the day with laughing and smiling
Gone are the “I Love You’s” with face beguiling.

These teenaged years are fraught with worry,
And crying eyes, with vision blurry.
Some days it seems I can’t go on
Is the end in sight or is it gone?

I long for calmer days when my son
Was joking around and just plain fun.
It used to be that way, I swear
But now my day is filled with prayer.

They say this time is short; will end
But daily I feel the pain, my friend.
I go to work and come home weary
From worry; my eyes most always teary.

Please God, make him safe and keep him from harm,
Bring back the days full of charm.
Bring back that child I knew, dear Lord,
Older, wiser, impulsiveness ignored.

Take the Devil from out his soul
Provide him the tools to take control.
Allow his youthful eyes to see
The satisfaction of mature responsibility.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Remembering Mr. Grillo

On Sunday we heard that our neighbor, Mr. Grillo had died. He was 85 and lived with his wife, his sister-in-law, and his daughter since we moved into the block. In July, the sister-in-law suddenly passed and on the day of her funeral, he fell down the stairs while getting ready to go. He had been declining in the last few years and they had found an inoperable malignant tumor near his heart. His sight was bad and he had recent cataract surgery. When he fell, he lost quite a bit of blood and broke his arm and cracked a few ribs. He was taken to Hannaman Hospital in Philadelphia and then sent to a nursing home where he passed.

Mr. Grillo was a very active person until July, despite his declining health. In his retirement years he worked at the local golf club scheduling the people coming in to play, and he was very active in his church. He was always so kind to our family, especially our son. He never forgot his birthday or Christmas and always gave our son a card with a crisp $10 bill in it. Mr. Grillo was quite vocal in his beliefs, but he always had a kind word to say. He was very supportive of my political efforts, even putting up a lawn sign for one of my campaigns even though he was of the opposite party.

My husband helps take care of the Grillo’s property and has mowed the lawn for them for most of the 25 years we have lived on the block. Every time the lawn was finished, Mr. Grillo would come out and give my husband two cold cans of beer. Sometimes, our son would do the lawn and Mr. Grillo would give him two cold cans of Coke.

Today was his funeral and my husband and I went to the viewing early this morning. Mrs. Grillo understood that I had to get back to work but asked that my husband come to the luncheon after the burial knowing that he didn’t work until this evening. Needless to say, she was very tearful, and I hope she will be able to deal with the grief. After losing her sister and her husband in such a short timeframe, it will be hard. They were married for 62 years.

He will be missed.

Monday, October 19, 2009

This Weekend

This weekend I helped work on the Selma Mansion, the ancestral home of Andrew Porter. Mr. Porter was many things; Revolutionary War general, surveyor for the state of Pennsylvania, and founder of the Marine Corps. The Selma Mansion, located at 1301 W Airy St, in Norristown, PA is a house built in 1794. For years it has languished, vacant and gathering dust. The Norristown Preservation Society (NPS) was formed to save the property after the owner of the property died back in the 70s when it was in danger of being torn down. Several years have gone by and the organization now finally owns the mansion.

With a new infusion of members on the board, efforts are being made to stabilize the property and clean it up. This weekend’s efforts were centered on making the first floor clean and bright so the people can come and see the potential of the place. The main goal is to house a collection of Civil War artifacts and create a house museum that will highlight Norristown’s history and bring visitors to the area as well as create a place where community groups can meet. On Saturday members of the NPS board and members of the West End Association, of which I am a member of both, went into the house and scrapped loose paint, took down the wallpaper that was hanging from the walls, and cleaned up the mildew that has grow on the walls due to a leak in the basement. We also cleanup the horse carriage house and cleared up the code violations that the municipality has saw fit to charge us with. On Sunday with the help of a crew from Cabrini College, we did more of the same to the four rooms and main hall on the first floor. The place looks fantastic and is well on the way to becoming a useful property.

It was great to see the energy in the place over the weekend, despite the fact that it was cold and rainy. I know the new NPS board members are excited to see that there is so much support from the community to get this house back to where it should be. Now comes the arduous task of raising the money needed for the renovation of the property and the creation of the museum.

Friday, October 16, 2009


This morning I saw a car on the way in that was on its roof. I was in the left hand lane and there were two other cars along the shoulder apparently assisting the overturned car. During my 20 minute ride into work I couldn’t stop thinking about whether I should have stopped and assisted. What could I have done other than call the police? Since there were two other cars there and people obviously helping the situation, I felt okay with leaving the scene. The car was dark and could have been there a while and I was far enough away with no way to turn around since there is “jersey barricade” in the center of the road.

Sometimes I see things like this and drive on past before wondering if I should help. There have been plenty of times that I call right away. Once I saw an old man trip and fall crossing the street. I immediately stopped my car, pulled out my cell phone and dialed 911. I then stayed with him until help arrived. It was no big deal and anyone would have done the same, but his son was effusive when he saw me afterwards. Another time my husband and I were on our way and stopped at the light at a major intersection in our town. As we were sitting there, a car on the cross street crashed into the traffic light pole because the person turning left onto the cross street didn’t watch where he was going. Again I immediately got out of the car and called the police while assessing the situation. So, there are times when I am first on the scene like that that I help right away. I should not feel so guilty all the time.

I hope the person in the turned-over car is okay. However, chances are that he is not given the position of the car and the landscape they are not, but there is always hope. I guess I will read about it in the paper tomorrow and meanwhile I feel sorry for the people going down that road now while I am writing this. They are probably caught in a huge traffic mess.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


My mother called me the other day and prompted me to call my uncle. He is old and feeble and doesn’t have a lot of people calling him, including his own sons. My aunt died about 6 years ago and since that time, he has gotten more and more disabled. He moved out of their house shortly after she died and went to live in a retirement village. He then found that he had prostate cancer and fought that. Since the second round of chemo, he has steadily lost the ability to get around on his own. He is slow, but very determined and I believe he will still driving himself around, although less and less.

I feel a little uncomfortable calling him. I was never very close to him during my growing up; in fact I was rather intimidated by him, and so I don’t really know what to say if I call. It’s like visiting a sick person who is in a coma. Unless you know them really well, what do you talk about? I suppose though, it would a nice thing to do.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The MS 2009 City to Shore Ride

My husband and I participated in the MS150 City to Short bike tour this weekend. It’s a 150 mile bike ride from Cherry Hill, NJ to Ocean City. Generally you do 75 miles one day and then 75 miles back the next. They have many options for you to ride; 25, 50, 75, 100, or the two day 150. As this was our first experience like this, and since we had been seriously riding for less than a year, we opted for the 75 miles (which took us about 5 1/2 hours or riding time) and came back on the bus the next day. We didn’t know how we would feel and whether we could make it back on our bikes. As it turned out, we probably could have done the ride back, except it would have taken a lot of time and I had an event I had to get to on Sunday afternoon. So we took the bus back the following day.

The ride is a fully supported event with volunteers, traffic police, bicycle support (SAG), food and water, photographers, and even massage therapists. The support was amazing. I had a flat tire about 20 miles from the shore finish and within 15 minutes there was a support vehicle that just gave us a new tire and inner tube, fixed it, and sent us on our way. There had to have been about 20 SAG vehicles and the same number of fully dressed motorcycles going up and down the route helping the riders with whatever they needed. Of course there were paramedics and ambulances to help those riders who got injured, and at the end a host of massage therapists to give you a rubdown after the ride. Since my husband and I rode with the second largest team and we had our own massage therapists at the team tent otherwise a massage $15 for 15 minutes.

There were 5 rest stops and each one was organized by the area where it was held and staffed with bike personnel, medical support, DJs spinning records, people cheering you on and handing out fruit, water, Gatorade, energy bars, and of course multiple portal toilets. With that many people working I am sure something had to have gone wrong, but we never saw a thing. The following day, my husband got a flat and even though we weren’t riding back, they changed his tire for him. I was blown away with the organization, the amount of people helping the event, and how friendly everyone was.

The other thing that thoroughly impressed me was the kindness, helpfulness, respectfulness, and courteousness that everyone possessed. Here there were thousands of bikes, some of them very expensive models with computers and GPS units and everyone’s things, and we just knew that nothing would get messed with. People would just put their bikes in the racks and walk away to get their food and left all the stuff there. No one touched anything that didn’t belong to them. I guess coming from a place where you have to watch everything every second of the day, I noticed this. It was very refreshing.

All in all, it was a great experience and one we will do next year.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Joys of Aging

The big ride to the shore is this weekend and I am getting a little nervous. First of all, the weather says it is a 40% chance of rain. Yuck. This is a rain or shine event, and the team captain says that people with MS don’t get to chose what kind of day they have so basically suck it up, but I don’t like to ride in the rain. The second thing I am nervous about is the distance. True I rode over 50 miles before and it was not that big a deal. My butt hurt for a bit, but I made it and it was fun, so a little further won’t kill me. So I shouldn’t be nervous. But I am. We have to be at the start line by 5:15am which means we have to leave at about 4:00am and get up in time to do so. That means everything ready on Friday night and all we have to do is grab our stuff and go.

I plan to Twitter at all the rest stops because there are a bunch of people who are anxiously wondering how we are doing. I am going to have my phone in a plastic bag in the event of rain, so I am going to be ready.

This past Friday I had my every 5 year colonoscopy. I also had to have an endo as well, so I was joking with my doctor about the scopes meeting in the middle. He was not amused. The procedure is nothing, but the prep is AWFUL. I had to do a two-day prep because my system is s slow and the medicine that I had to take was horrid. I had to drink the stuff called Trilyte which is supposed to have flavoring and be chilled. You are supposed to rapidly drink8 ounces at a time until you consume 4 liters. It is the vilest stuff I had ever tasted and it was a wonder how I got it down without barfing each time. Boy, that stuff works. After about 4 times, I was going and going and going. I guess it’s just one of the joys of getting older.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

You Don’t Know What You Are Missing

I am on the first day of my two-day prep for a colonoscopy. Oh the joys of getting old. For two days I have to have a liquid diet and take meds that will force me to evacuate. I am so hungry now, and I have a screaming headache. For “breakfast” I had two cups of black coffee, a half a cup of beef broth, a Jello cup, and a couple sips of Gatorade, which I can’t stand. The broth wasn’t too bad, but it had such a strong smell of beef that I almost threw up. I think I will live wild and have chicken broth instead tomorrow.

This afternoon I have to start on the chemical process to clean out my insides. Tomorrow is more of the same, but the chemicals are worse and they start earlier. My doctor says I have a long and loopy bowel. I guess that’s a bad thing. I did the one day prep the first time I had this procedure five years ago, but I did not get cleaned out enough. I had the process done over again six months later and did the two day prep and that gave him the results he needed. When you get this age, and have a history of stomach cancer in the family, this process has to be done every 5 years or so. I also have Irritable Bowel Syndrome so they want to make sure there is nothing more. Lovely.

I just pray I can get through this. I want food; something that I can chew and not just gum. But I know my duty and I know that I can do it. I did it before; I can do it now.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Difficult Morning

This morning I flew into a rage at my husband who had left my car keys in his car when he moved them last night. We only have on-street parking and Mondays is the day that they street clean the other side of the street where he was parked. Since he has been working nights, he wanted to sleep and not worry about the car in the morning get a ticket being on the wrong side of the street.

Usually I try to be very quiet in the mornings for him. I lay out my clothes and everything I will need in the guest room so I don’t disturb him rummaging around in our room getting my things. However, this morning after I found I didn’t have my keys and they were not hanging on the hook by the front door, I blew up and stormed into the room and woke him up demanding to know where my keys were. I supposed I could have handled it a different way, but I was pissed and I was going to be late in getting to work. He had left them in his car and he had to get up, get dressed and go out there and get them for me.

On the way, I passed a car double parked on the next street. I hate double parkers, especially if there is a parking space within 10 feet of where they are sitting. It is the height of laziness not to park the car and either wait for the person you are picking up or walk to their door. I blew my horn as I passed in a rather long and frustrated manner. The key thing really made me mad and I was taking it out on everyone. I don’t think the neighbors liked having a horn blowing at 5:30am on their block, but maybe they will blame the person who was double parked. I was past the point of caring.

I hate when I get this way. It is childish and small of me. I really need to calm down and take it easy. I realize that. I usually don’t flip out so easily and it usually takes me a long time to loose my temper. It really sets a tone that I don’t like for the rest of the day, increases my stress level and makes me eat. Not a good situation.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


It seems as if have developed several phobias in my middle age. For example, I never was afraid of flying and now am terrified. I used to be able to watch horror movies and not get too freaked out, and now get really undone with some of them. I don’t usually rent them for just that reason, but the other day, I saw one and it got to me in a big way. Even last night, two days after seeing it, I was still unnerved. I wonder why?

I guess, it is because I have more to lose now; my family, my home, and a feeling that if I died I would not have completed certain things. Most of my fears center on me dying, or becoming seriously injured, as a result of whatever it is I am afraid of. I don’t think I could cope with being incapacitated in a way that would make me reliant on others. When I really think about it, it all comes down to a lack of control.

We all need control in our lives and some of us, namely me, have to be in charge of most of the time. I wouldn’t go so far as to call me a control freak, but if I don’t feel as if I have a handle on things I tend to get edgy, nervous, and downright nasty. I’ll admit it; I like to be in control. On the other hand, I don’t always want to be the one making the decisions – sometimes that just too much responsibility. It’s a fine line, I think, between in control and being in command.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Getting Better

Bronchitis with a touch of pneumonia. Sounds like a recipe; sauté chicken and add a teaspoon of bronchitis and a touch of pneumonia. When my doctor told me that on Friday, the first thing that ran through my head was that sentiment.

I know that it can be a serious illness, but in my case it is not and I will be right as rain in a few weeks. I am on very powerful antibiotics and will be feeling much better very soon. I don’t want to rush it, but on the other hand, I have the MS150 ride coming up in less than a month and with taking time to get well is going to possibly take me back further than I would like to be in a few weeks.

So I wait, eat good food, take my medicine and get stronger.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Magical Elixir

This moon-lit morning, I praise the wonderful elixir of wakefulness which is coffee for getting me in to work. For the last few weeks, I have felt extremely tired, and the coffee is the only thing that has helped get me going. I am sleeping fine, but waking up as if I hadn’t sleep at all. I finally went to the doctor, on my husband’s urging, and she sent me for blood work and won’t have an answer until Friday. I usually don’t have a problem with getting my blood drawn, but yesterday I almost passed out. It was a strange experience and I ended up having to lie down and get my strength back. I felt very embarrassed even though the nurse told me not to. They had to take about 8 vials, and one of the tests was done without the rubber tourniquet because it has to be surface blood, or seeming like that. At any rate, I should have somewhat of an answer by today.

I went through this feeling before about 16 years ago when I was finally diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Disorder. I was sick with a low grade fever, body aches, a slight sore throat, extreme fatigue, and a litany of other issues. My first thought when I started feeling this way was that it had returned. My doctor has not ruled out that it has come back but those anti-bodies stay in your body forever and by testing for them you will only find the existing ones. It is a diagnosis of elimination anyway as there is no real definitive test. Many people have the antibodies in their system because many of us are exposed to it. Like other things you can carry the antibodies and not exhibit the illness. I credit the nutritionist who prescribed a mega vitamin therapy which in six months put me in remission.

Meanwhile, I rely on coffee to get me through the morning and at least wake me up to keep going.

Friday, August 21, 2009

A Little Time Off

My husband and I had a little mini vacation in Cape May last weekend. He has a friend from work who has a boat in a marina on Ocean Drive in Cape May, New Jersey. They invited us down to spend Saturday and Sunday there. The weather was really good, although it was pretty hot and a little humid for the shore. I failed to wear sunscreen because I usually feel I don’t need it, and got a nasty sunburn as a result. But it was all worth it. We had a great time.

On Sunday we went over to Sunset Beach. They are famous for the Cape May Diamonds that washed up on that beach from the Delaware River and were discovered by the Kechemeche Indians who believed that the stones held supernatural powers which brought success and good fortune. You can read about then at one of the many sites that talks about the stones. While we were in the gift shop my husband bought me a really pretty ring. I guess you could call it an early anniversary gift because September 6th this year will be our 23rd year together. We also went on the beach and collected a few of the stones there. I suppose if I put them in a rock tumbler I could use them for some jewelry, but I am not sure if I will. The couple who we visited has collected the stones over the years and has a large bottle full of them.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Kitchen Makeover?

We had to buy a new refrigerator last night. For the last few weeks, I have noticed that the freezer in our 57 year old fridge was not always housing frozen foods. I would reach in one day and the popsicles that I like to eat were fine and then the next day, they were so soft I had to eat them with a spoon. I made a comment to my husband about it and he merely grunted. I tried to explain to him that it is very unhealthy to thaw and re-freeze meat, but that didn’t do the trick. I guess when he came home yesterday from work and there was a puddle around the refrigerator and everything in the freezer was a soggy mess, he agreed that maybe this time he couldn’t fix it.

My husband, although I love him dearly, is a tightwad. He tries to fix things instead of getting new and gets all upset when we have to buy clothes for our son. I totally agree with him most of the time, but sometimes he can be really trying. Take the refrigerator for example. He is very conscience of the environment and while that is great, he didn’t seem to understand that the old one we had was using a lot of energy and probably not good for the environment, and that it was probably costing us more than a new one would. The kitchen in the house we live in is the result of a 1960s DYI effort. The cabinets, even though they match, are not very useable and they are ugly. The dishwasher is rotted out, and the stove is electric, which I hate. The corner cabinets are hard to get into and things get lost in there. When they put the cabinets up, they blocked the one big window in the room and the kitchen is very dark unless you have all the lights on.

So now he’s talking about doing a complete kitchen makeover. Coming from someone who is a tight as he is with the money, it’s a complete surprise. Of course everything is going to be a DYI effort (although his work is far superior to the person who originally did it). Then again, he can be a lot of talk and no action. So we will see where this goes.

Monday, August 10, 2009


The company that I work for has a book lending table in the break room and the other day I looked down and saw the autobiography of Quincy Jones as one of the selections. I thought to myself that maybe I should write an autobiography, but then who would read it. I mean my life hasn’t been that interesting. I could call it “An Autobiography of an Ordinary Person”, but that might not sell unless there was some other catchy title. But then again, there is a certain perverseness that people have; a voyeuristic tendency to spy on your neighbors to see what their lives are up to. I suppose it has to do with the competitive nature we have. As humans in the stone age, there had to be a fierce survival personality in order to live, which I think has carried over in us all to some extent – some more than others.

Competition is a funny thing. I know people, like my brother, who have a strong streak in them and compete with everything they do. When I was growing up, my brother was always trying to beat me at everything. I compensated, I suppose more than competed, but to some extent it was mainly more sibling rivalry to get to him before he got to me. Case in point was the time he broke his arm. We had a rope tied to a high branch in our backyard that he and I would swing on. At one side there was a cement patio where we would start the swing from and at the other a swing set that had no swings. Our biggest game was to swing from the patio to the swing set and leap to grab hold of the top bar. The leap was not very far and we made it every time. I supposed this one time, I decided that the leap was to close and it would be more of a challenge to move the set further so we could “fly” longer. I moved it too far and he fell and landed on a log that was under the set on his arm.

His completive nature was evident years later when we were up at the mountain house with our respective spouses and played a game of Monopoly. He was ruthless in that game and we stayed up until the wee hours playing. My husband and I finally went to bed and my brother challenged us to play more after breakfast the following day. Even his wife said, “give it a rest, already”. I have heard it said that younger siblings have this streak just because they are always trying to get the attention of their parents away from their older sibling. Maybe that’s it. Or maybe he has tapped into the survival mode in life which just might make him the stronger person.

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Art of Shopping

So I was in the mall the other day. I haven’t been there in years, but I went to buy a present for my brother who turned 50 this week. I mean, 50 is a pretty big milestone. Not only for him, but for me. It means I AM OLD!! Oh well… Anyway, 50 deserves a present. I used to work in the mall at the Camera Shop before I got the job I am in now. Ages ago…. Decades ago…you get the picture. So there I was wandering around looking at all the shops and trying to make a decision on what to get him.

Anyway, I am wandering around the mall and I come across the Pandora store. A few years ago I got into Pandora charm bracelets. I was buying charms off eBay and got enough for one full bracelet. They were all the rage and I loved to wear mine, even though it was really heavy with all the charms on it. I thought to myself that the Pandora store could be dangerous for me. I don’t really need another bracelet, but they are so pretty…and so shiny…and I fought really hard to resist.

I reminded myself of my mission and ended up deciding on getting him a pen. My first thought was that he should have a fine distinguished pen that men of that certain age have, like a Mont Blanc. My ex loved those pens and longed to have one. I knew they were expensive but I had no idea. So…there is a Mont Blanc store in the mall and I went in. I should have gotten my first clue when I walked in and no one was in the store. The sales person was polishing one of the many glass cases looking rather bored. He blithely asked if he could help me, looking rather disdainfully at my t-shirt and shorts with flip-flops, and I launched into my story about my brother’s milestone birthday and said that I was thinking about the type of gift I was going to get him. I told him my price range and I am sure he nearly choked, silently of course. The least expensive pen is the corporate model for $150 and the least expensive regular model with the custom engraving is $350. Clearly, out of my range. He tells me of another store in the mall which has pens in all kinds of ranges and I went there. I bought a fun pen with notes all over it since he is a musician, along with a journal and two refills, and the total cost was well below my original estimation.

The cost of the pen was still more than my husband would have paid for a pen. When I told him of my saga, he said, “why would you spend that kind of money for a pen when you can buy him a Bic for 38 cents?” You see what I have to deal with?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Old Dog - New Tricks

There is an old saying that goes, “you have two ears and one mouth which means you should listen twice as much as you talk”. I am slowly learning the value of that sentiment. Last night at the end of the trail before it goes into the street, we met a man who was working to clean the wash-out from all the rain we were having. He is a volunteer with the Bicycle Coalition, and we saw that he was working hard and stopped to thank him at the same time as get a drink of water before turning around and heading back home.

In the course of the conversation, we found out he works for the county in their IT department and had some interesting things to say about the new administration. Hearing that, and knowing that he was probably of the opposite party I am a member of, I was glad that I held my tongue and let him rant and rave about what was going on since my party took over. He wasn’t too happy about how things were going but I calmly listened to what he had to say and formulated that he is simply not a fan of change as well as being a party loyal. By staying quiet and just listening, I avoided what could have been a lengthy argument.

We stayed and talked with him for some time about bicycles, county politics, and the MS150 that my husband and I are riding in. It was far longer than I would have like to, but he full of useful information as well as being very complimentary about my bicycle, an old Raleigh that my husband cleaned and detailed when we started this venture. He seemed to know his stuff and had been riding for quite some time. He has done the MS150 several times and was helpful in giving us tips of things to look out for, and we found some things out about the trail that we might not have found out if we had got into a heated political discussion. You see, sometimes us old folks can still learn new tricks.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Angry Again

A coworker just came back from a week of working with an organization called Work Camp which sends high school kids out into the community to help people fix up their homes who don’t have the money to help themselves. The organization arranges for schools and churches in the neighborhoods to house the kids and their supervisors while they are there for a week. It’s a very worthwhile program. He came back with horror stories of death threats from roving gangs, stolen property of the kids who came to help, police coming to the door of the house he was working in to arrest the son of the owner, details of constant police sirens, and tales of the horrible living conditions in which some people live.

Yesterday, my husband and I were coming back from our daily ride on the trail. As we neared the area where we cut off the trail to get to our home, we saw four to five police cruisers on the trail with several youth standing around. Apparently a woman was surrounded by some juveniles and forced off her bike. We spoke to the man who came by shortly after the event and called the police for the woman, standing by to guard her bike as she spoke to the police. This is another in a series of incidents which have happened in the same area since the cycling season started. The report was not in the paper today, but I am sure it will be blasted across the front page tomorrow.

I cannot begin to express my anger of these two situations. Although this is certainly nothing new, I have reached my boiling point. As I expressed in an earlier entry, I am to the point that I feel ready to lash out if someone approaches me with intent to harm. I know I cannot fathom someone else’s life who has felt the sting of discrimination and the anger of dealing in an unfair world, but I also see the results of their actions on the outside world and the sense of fear for the people I know and care about. It is abhorrent to me that such crime goes on. Why in God’s name would someone attack an innocent group if kids who are there only to help a poor woman who can’t fix her home, or harass a blameless woman who is simply out trying to get some exercise? What is there to gain by such action? Is that the kind of world some people want to live in; where people live like animals and the toughest survive? I just don’t see it. Even if it is a question of power, the end result of possibly getting caught and arrested with the life-changing consequences that results is more trouble than it’s worth, IMHO. I’d really like to know what goes through their heads.

Friday, July 31, 2009

The Perils of the American Diet

I came across a blog to day called the No Impact Man by a man named Colin Beavan who talks about what each of us can do to end the environmental crisis. I am not sure if anyone follows that blog, but I put it on my reader list because this is an issue that’s important to me. Today I found it through a posting that was reproduced on the Huffington Post blog which talked about what the American diet has done to the health care crisis.

It seems to me that most people, me included, rarely think about what they eat. They eat for taste, convenience, and sometimes for cost. I read an article the other day that talked about the reason Americans overeat is that the food is filled with fat, salt, and sugar and these are triggers that prevent you from stopping. If you think about all the junk food out there, you realize that is so true. Think about all the fast food ads; they are hawking so much fatty foods that you can gain weight just viewing the commercial. No Impact Man’s blog talked about the increase of obesity over the last 30 years and the correlation of the popularity of the foods like hamburgers, French fries, milkshakes, and the like and you can definitely see there is no coincidence. I also read the Atkins Diet book and he said that the correlation of the food pyramid and obesity was striking. He claimed that the same percentages of the food groups are exactly the same as the way they feed the pigs to fatten them on the way to the slaughterhouse. If you listen to my mother, she swears the sugar industry has us by the short and curlies.

He also goes on to say that the Americans have also sabotaged themselves by drastically reducing the amount of exercise we get. Recently, there has been some realization of that as shown by the amount of gyms have sprung up and the attention that seems to be paid to doing various things to help move the body, even Nintendo helped. Seriously, look at the things we do; drive everywhere, sit on the couch for entertainment nightly, take moving stairs everywhere, and sit in an office cubicle all day typing away. Our brains and fingers are getting all the exercise! With obesity comes all manner of illness, and with illness comes the need for healthcare. It seems like a simple solution to me - one that will take a while, but simple in its execution.

I am really a fine one to talk as I had fallen into that same trap being no better than anyone else. But knowledge is a powerful thing. The more I read, the more I am able to control those cravings…well mostly.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Continuing Saga

The other day I reported that I had read the news about an attack on the bike trail where the victim pulled his gun to defend himself. Well, the saga continues. Today, it was found that the 17 year old youth who did the attack was operating a bicycle chop shop in the basement of his father’s home. They found 15-20 bikes in various states of completion and found that he was re-assembling them and selling them. The kid was arrested for the assault and is facing simple assault charges in the juvenile system. In addition, the DA is currently “re-evaluating” the charges against the man who discharged the weapon. Maybe that is a politcial decision on her part.

I am really glad they charged the youth. I understand that they might possibly drop the charges against the man. Although, I understand his reasoning for doing what he did. However, he didn’t have to shoot at the youth’s bike, he just could have reported it and let it go at that. The man thought he was defending himself and he was the victim.

The one thing that I am not happy about is that the people involved in this situation are all from my current hometown. The incident happened outside of the town and at first I was relieved. But now again, the people involved put more negative light onto the town; just one more thing to turn people off to the town and continue its downward movement.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


It’s been so dark in the mornings lately when I get up that I feel as though I am slipping out in the middle of the night when I leave for work. This morning was quite dark and my husband was still asleep when I was getting dressed as he was not due at his work site until 7:30am. I don’t like it when that happens because I feel like I am really bothering him, so I sneak around trying to find my clothes, jewelry, and makeup in a semi dark room. That’s a laugh and a half – me trying to be quiet.

All my life I have been a major klutz. My husband laughs because he says I am the only person he knows who can fall going UP the stairs, which is exactly what happened about five years ago resulting in a broken toe. I didn’t think it was all that funny. I mean the stairs are carpeted and the soles of my feet were slippery; anyone could have tripped. Anyone could have gotten a broken toe. It was a recipe for disaster no matter how you cut it. Speaking of cutting it last night I dropped a kitchen knife on my foot. Fortunately I only nicked my toe; I am sure it could have been worse. So my trying to be quiet in the morning when my husband is still asleep is like expecting no one to hear a charging rhino.

Then I get to work only to get a call later from my husband saying he stepped on an earring that was on the stairs. I have no idea how that happened. It wasn’t one of the earrings that I am wearing, and furthermore, it isn’t one that I have worn recently. It must have gotten caught on my clothes when I was in the bathroom getting the earrings I wore today out of my little jewelry box and then fell on the stairs as I went down. It was just another example of the accident waiting to happen, which is a description of my life.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Tour

Okay, so it wasn’t the Tour de France, more like the Tour de Perkiomen, but it was a fun ride and we did 57 miles in just under 5 hours. My husband and I, along with our friend, didn’t set out to do any land speed records. Our main goal was to get there and back. We did take a few breaks, most notably half way when we stopped to have a snack. It was fun despite the fact that yesterday my butt felt like it never wanted to see the bicycle seat again and my legs hurt a little today. Overall, though I think I faired well.

I was concerned if I could get back on that saddle again today and ride for our regular 20, and I did, but it was a struggle including the fact I got another flat tire. The whole ride tonight took longer than it should have.

But all in all we had a great time on the Big Ride. The weather held out. When we got to the end (or rather midpoint) it was drizzling but that ended after we ate, and we were under tree cover, and it didn’t rain the rest of the trip - that's what the picture it. Either we were incredibly lucky or we timed it right. We had looked at the weather reports all week and into the night before and the hourly forecast called for 20% chance of rain into the afternoon when it went up to 50% chance with isolated thunderstorms. It didn’t rain until around 9pm and we had some terrific thunderstorms then with lots of lightening.

For our evening’s entertainment, during all that rain last night, we watched Marley and Me. It was an endearing story and I thought quite funny. My husband on the other hand took a dim view to the whole thing because he can’t stand unruly dogs. He grumbled through the whole thing.

Friday, July 24, 2009


An incident happened on a local bike path that involved a rider pulling a gun on some kids after he was kicked by one of the boys while he was riding, which, caused the man to fall off his bike. The man was armed and shot at, and hit, one of the boy’s bike tires. He is in jail now with a rather high bail. The kids? Well it didn’t say in the article whether they were in any trouble, but they ought to be. They ought to be in a juvenile detention facility and have to face charges as well; after all they started it.

I am out on that trail practically every day and the area near my home has made the news more frequently than the area of this incident because there have been more reports of problems. As a result, the police have stepped up patrol in the area of the trail within the town borders. On one hand I am sorry this happened, but on the other I am glad it didn’t happen in my area. It just shows that my area is not the only place negative things happen. There is a biking group who started a website to report incidents on the trail like this, and when they opened the site, they hung notices on the trail about the site. However, once you are out of the town limits on the trail, the notices aren’t posted. That really speaks volumes.

In the last few weeks I have gotten pretty angry, and this is one more thing to get angry about. I don’t know why I am so irate; I am usually a very peaceful person and not one to want to cause any violent act against another. However, recently I feel like I just want to punch someone out. Is it because I am getting so much stronger now I am not afraid to defend myself if necessary? Is all this exercise affecting me in a negative way? Lately I imagine me wailing on someone after they tried to hurt me, or harass me. It’s weird. Maybe it’s old age. Maybe I am getting to be a grumpy old woman. Maybe it’s hormones.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


It rained today. But I am so addicted to the calorie burn of biking – and maybe to the biking itself – that I decided to ride my stationary bike in the basement. I did this on Tuesday also because of the rain. There is on good thing about this, and that is I can read my latest book while I am riding, which of course I can’t do doing the real thing. The other good thing is that doing this makes me sweat like crazy. There is no wind to keep me cool, there is no water container to cool me down, and there is no stopping. One solid hour of consistent pedaling. I am not sure of the calorie burn, but I think it is comparable to doing the real thing, so that’s what I am going to put it in as on my log.

The log I am talking about is an app on my phone that tracks the amount of food I eat and the calories I burn. It also allows me to enter the weight I am at the time and any blood work results that I have. The later is helpful in tracking the progress that I am making in my A1C reduction and my cholesterol readings, both of which need to come down or in the case of the blood sugar, stay below a certain point. I have not been diagnosed with diabetes yet, and don’t intend to. However, the blood work when I first started this journey was up by a point over what it should be. My doctor called it insulin resistance or pre-diabetes. When my numbers were reviewed in the beginning, I was given the option of starting medication and losing the weight or just losing the weight. I decided to go with the medication. I can always stop that either because I feel I am doing better or because my numbers are down there. The next round of blood work is in two months.

It sucks getting old. But I am not going to let it get the better of me.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Must Be Addicted

Last night it rained. We had just cleaned our bicycles and a) didn’t want to go out in the rain and b) didn’t want to get our bikes dirty. What to do? I realized on the way home that I have an old stationary bike in the basement that hasn’t been used in a while. I could still get a “ride” in and burn a few calories and read at the same time. So that’s what I did. I set the timer for an hour and away I went. I guess it was because the book I am reading is good that I didn’t notice the time and it went by very quickly. I looked at the timer twice and I was surprised that the time had gone by. I am thinking that I must be addicted to the biking to explain this compulsion to ride. The day just isn't right until that happens.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Getting Ones Affairs in Order

I have been spending a lot of my time today getting my “affairs in order”. It’s not that I am going to die soon, but one never knows. I thought about this because of my father, who by the way is much better, and discussions with my mother. So I looked up some websites and found two that were helpful, one from the state and one from a church. Both have forms that you can fill out that have all manner of things to have on hand so your family knows what you want done and the location of important documents. I started a binder with sections and started printing out things and putting them in the book. I made up one for my husband too.

I think that most people are scared to think of these things. I guess it’s hard to face your own demise. But it’s eventually going to come and I know from experience if you leave things in an orderly fashion it’s so much easier for everyone. Take my stepfather for example. He left detailed instructions down to the tiniest piece and my mother and his sisters didn’t have to do any second guessing. I mean it was so detailed that he mapped out the role for each person to play at the memorial service as well as the disposal of all his personal belongings. This was far and above his will even.

Of course my mother scoffs at the idea that I get this information from the web. She wants me to go to a lawyer. I am sure that if my estate were complicated with a lot of real estate holdings or money, that would be prudent, but my life is fairly simple.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Finality of Life

My getting older means my parents get older. That’s obvious. My father suffered a small stroke last night and I was wakeful most of the night thinking about it. His health is very poor to begin with and he has been in and out of the hospital since his bypass surgery 10 years ago. Every time he goes in he somehow pulls through, so you would think that I would be somewhat immune to the worry that is accompanies him going into the hospital. However, each time it happens I fear his death. It’s weird as I am not really that close to him.

My father was not an important figure in my life. My parents got a divorce when I was a teenager. It wasn’t a very nasty one and my brother and I did spend a lot of time with our father when we were younger. When I was in college, he got remarried to a woman who is considerably younger than he and only about 15 years older than I. I never got very close to her either. I believe it was primarily because our respective views on life are diametrically opposed, and I never found conversation with them easy. But it was probably more because of the way they treated me after my divorce. I never really forgave them for basically ignoring me when I reached out for support while trying to get out of an abusive marriage.

However, he is my father and his death represents more than the loss of a person. It is means much more to me because he is first of my biological parents to die. My mother’s husband died last year and that was very sad and I miss him a lot, but somehow it’s not the same. I suppose it represents the fact that I am mortal and that I too will die someday too. I don’t think I am really scared of death; I accept it and acknowledge my mortality and am not really freaked out by it. I only hope I don’t suffer.

So we all wait to see what is going to happen this time. Will he pull through again, or will he be incapacitated, or will this be the end?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Value of Exercise

Sometimes changes come really slowly, especially those that involve your body. For the last four months, my husband and I have been seriously biking and building up our mileage on a daily basis. Yesterday my husband shot a photo of me on the trail that surprised me. I know I had lost weight from stepping on the scale, but not the kind of weight that this picture suggests. It only goes to prove that exercise is a valuable part of a life change.

In the gym where I go, there is a large sign on one wall that says “exercise is poor man’s plastic surgery”. For months I looked at that sign and didn’t think much of it. I look at this picture and see such a difference in my face that I am really beginning to believe that sign. I really can’t stress enough that it’s not just the reduction of calories that helps you lose those extra pounds – in my case it’s not just a few – but the exercise that makes all the difference. Sure there are still trouble spots that need to get worked on, and yes the lines of age are still there, but overall, things are getting better.

Don’t get me wrong; it’s really hard to keep this up. Sometimes I go home and get changed to go out and think to myself that I am only going to do a short ride because I really don’t feel like it. But I get one the bike and get through the first few miles and things get a little easier. I almost dread having to go out at first. But as with any habit, the routine takes over and it almost seems easy.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Last night I kind of overdid it. I went for my usual workout at lunch, which consists of doing the elliptical machine for 30 minutes and then light weights for the arms. Then when I came home I did a strenuous bike ride featuring hill climbs for about an hour. Then I left and went rock climbing with people from work for 2 hours at a rock climbing gym. Today I am not as sore as I thought I would be.

The rock climbing event was a work thing and I am pretty much game to try anything. I must confess that I thought I would be able to overcome my fear of heights by doing this. I was not. I got up about half way on the first try and starting shaking so much I had to come down. I went up again on the second try and got a little further but still starting shaking so much I didn’t think I was going to be able to hold on to the hand holds. It was the same with the third time. Even though I was on a rope with a very strong guy (and a rather handsome, rugged-looking, one at that), I wasn’t able to overcome the shaking. By the end of the session I was so tired, either from the earlier exercise or from the climbing I didn’t try any more.

I don’t remember being this scared when I was younger. I remember we had a rope in our backyard tied to a tree on a very high branch and I was able to scramble up that thing with no problem. I wanted to try skydiving when I was a teen (never did), and flying never bothered me. Why do heights bother me now? And speaking of flying, our family trips are a never ending source of amusement for my family. I got so scared one time the airline attendant gave me wine to calm me down because I was scaring the other passengers. Perhaps fears get worse as you get older – and maybe wiser understanding the consequences of the action. Oh well.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A Housekeeper I am not

I have a love-hate relationship with housework. I hate doing it but love it when it’s done. I know that’s not that unusual; plenty of people are in this boat. I would rather have a maid but financial concerns do not allow that to happen. This morning after a series of mechanical problems thwarted our bike riding, I had to make a decision. Did I want to watch my husband fret over the brakes on the bike, or do I want clean sheets for the week and the availability of clean underwear? The clean won. It didn’t take a lot of time and before you knew it, the bikes were working again and out we went.

To me, and probably too many others, dust accumulates in the flattest of surfaces all too soon. When I do get in the mood to actually dust, a week later it looks just the same as it did before I dusted. Well not totally, but dust is there again, looming its ugly head up and proclaiming its appearance once again. I hate the dust. It makes me look like the bad housekeeper I am.
When I got married, I tried to impress my husband with my housekeeping abilities, such as they were. But I soon tired of all the show and eventually when he complained I said “if you don’t like it, do It yourself.” To which, he did! Now he is quite the housekeeper doing more vacuuming and cleaning than I do. I tend to leave everything to the last minute until the time I look around and see that the house resembles something out of a horror film and then decide that something has to be done and we can’t live like this any longer. I the speed around dusting, vacuuming, and straightening until things are somewhat shiny. My husband on the other hand takes his time and really makes things shine. That’s great for him, but I hate to do it and so I do the least amount that I can. I suppose I am a diva at heart.

But this morning the only thing that got done were the laundry and the dishes. Then we went out for a ride.

Friday, July 10, 2009


So tonight before I went home from work, I stopped by a bike shop in the local area who was hosting a Trek demo for women. It was great. I really wasn’t suited up for it, having come from work, but I managed. I rolled up my pant legs and put on a helmet and was set to go. I must say, the difference was incredible.

I have a 30 year old 10 speed and here I was riding a brand new carbon fiber bike. Not only was it lighter but the gearing was better and easier. I only rode for a short time, but it was enough to know that if I get another road bike it is going to mean a big change for me. It felt really different and I wasn’t sure that it was better. I actually liked the hybrid better than the road bike. I felt “squished” on the road bike because the distance was a lot shorter between the seat and the handlebars than I am used to. But the main reason for going to this was to find out what size I should be looking for, which I accomplished.

After I came home, it was much later than I normally get home, so my husband did almost not want to ride. We usually go for about an hour and that would have put us much later so we abbreviated it a little and only rode for a little under an hour. I could have ridden longer, but since I was not riding alone I had to compromise.
To start things off, first there is cycling. Within the last three months my husband and I have started riding our bicycles. At first it was a way to burning a few hundred calories and spending time together (more his reason than mine). Now it’s become almost an obsession. It has also become training for riding half of the MS150 in October. We live very close to the Schuylkill River trail in Pennsylvania so consequently that’s where we spend the majority of the miles we ride. In addition to that, we also ride the connection to the Farm Park when we need to practice a few hills. Since we have started, we have logged over 1000 miles. See I told you; an obsession.

Yesterday we rode to the Valley Forge Park, which is accessible from the trail over a rickety wooden slated bridge that parallels RT 422. It’s a terrifying ride for me. First I have an unexplainable fear of heights and have a mental image of the bridge letting loose and me and my bike falling into the river below. Second because it’s only really wide enough for one person and I can only picture a rider coming from the other direction crashing headlong into me and causing a several bike pileup in the middle of the bridge over the river and then having the bridge let loose and all of us fall in to the raging river below. Some picture, eh? My fears are unfounded, my husband says. He is not in my head.

The bridge is one thing. The trail through the park is another. It’s hilly. Very hilly. It burns. A lot, and my lung capacity is not the greatest (yet) and I get very winded. I suppose that will get better, but for now it was hard. But I did better than I expected. Last night I only had to get off my bike one time in the begininng long climb so I consider that an accomplishment. After that we went back on the SRT and went to Phoenixville. 25 miles in all. Nice ride.