Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Lemon Tree

Lemon tree very pretty
And the lemon flower is sweet
But the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat.
I have had this song running through my head for several days now since I have received my lemon tree.  I ordered a Meyers Lemon from Fast Growing Tees a few weeks ago and it was at the door Friday when I got home from work.  It was very timely because I had time over the weekend to get the container and soil I wanted to put it in.  It is currently in my dining room awaiting the warmer weather so it can go out on the patio.  I am very excited because when it arrived it had several tiny lemons and many buds on it already.  I can’t wait to see them get ripe so I can use them.
The Meyer Lemon is actually native to China and thought to be a cross between a true lemon another fruit. The Meyer lemon is commonly grown in China in garden pots as an ornamental tree but became popular as a food item in America during the California Cuisine revolution. I have read some articles saying that Meyer lemons are actually sweeter than regular lemons on some of the blogs that I have read.  I am anxious to try it.  The Meyer variety is relatively hardy, can withstand colder temperatures, and is fast growing.  In addition it is very suitable for container growing which means I can bring it in during winter and have it on my patio during the summer.
For some reason I have always wanted a lemon tree.  Maybe it’s because of that crazy song, but I think more importantly now is that lemons are expensive at the store and if I grow my own then I can save a little money along with the money I will be saving overall with my vegetable garden.  I am looking forward to my first harvest from the new tree.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Right Stuff

About a week ago I received a visit from the ergonomic specialist at work.  She determined that I needed a new chair, keyboard holder, and monitor stand.  I was at first skeptical as I was unsure that any of those things would help with my aching shoulder.  The equipment came, minus the monitor platform, a few days later and it was installed in about 10 minutes.   My chair is more fitted to my stature and quite a bit stiffer.  No longer do I have the opportunity to lean back in my chair without really trying to which helps me sit up straighter.  My chair was at the right height immediately and didn’t really need to be adjusted aside from the lumbar support.  The foot stool has the appropriate height and tilt and is far better than the inverted trash can I was using.  True, I can’t put my feet up all the way, but it does seem to help with the cold feet problem I have recently been having.
Ergonomics is a fairly new science at least as it is concerned in the workplace.  They have found that with the proper adjustments to your workspace you can avoid suffering from repetitive strain injuries keeping costs down for employees who might suffer from disabilities.  I already have carpal tunnel syndrome which was really caused by the repetitive movement of my right arm using a mouse that was not in the proper position for years.  The doctor didn’t realize it was my shoulder until I went to a hand therapist who determined that my hand problem was really due to the shoulder problem and having to compensate.  That was back then and it has never really gone away, but with the new adjustments to the work space will help to keep the pain at bay, I think.  Only time will tell if I can really feel a difference now that the things are in place.
I am really lucky as I am somewhat ambidextrous and when my right hand was bothering me so much I switched to a track ball with my left, a suggestion made by the specialist. That was several years ago and I have not switched back since.  My old keyboard tray had to be somewhat butchered as the mouse tray was securely on the right side not taking into account we left-handers and I had quite a bit of wrangling that I had to do to remove it from the right and put it on the left.  This new tray can have the mouse on either side with no problem.  That alone is a major improvement because I could never really get it right with the old one.  So with the newer equipment, I hope I will see improvements over time in how my shoulder and hand feel.  As my stepfather used to say, it’s only up from here!

Monday, February 27, 2012


I am very lucky and our family has fairly good health so to us being on medication is somewhat foreign.  The other day my husband had to have an MRI due to a muscle injury that doesn’t seem to be getting better.  He went to the hospital for the test and in the process of registering the nurse asked what medication he was on.  He replied that he was on none.  He is 64 and the nurse was flabbergasted that he was on nothing save an aspirin when he had a headache.
To us being on medication is the exception not the norm.  I often hear of all these people not being able to afford their meds because of various reasons. This includes many seniors who have to make the agonizing decision of whether to pay their electric bill or buy their medication refill.  I often wonder if the doctors are just putting people on medication because they can. 
I recently was placed on blood pressure meds because my pressure all of a sudden jumped to higher than normal numbers.  I find this a failure and am doing everything I can to get off the pills that include finally addressing my excess weight which has been a life-long pursuit.  I am trying to do this naturally without surgery or without eating fake food ala the Mediterranean Diet, which I have talked about before.  I hope that I can accomplish this goal and finally get healthy and not have to add any medications to my daily routine.  I think by and large if we all went back to basics in our diet the pharmaceutical companies might be the ones pinching their belts instead of rolling in dough.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Black and Blue

I did it again.  I wore the navy blue top when I meant to wear a black one.  I have the hardest trouble telling the difference between the navy blue and black sleeveless tops that I have.  I have been meaning to put an extra label in one or the other top indicating the color but have not gotten around to it. 
It really bothers me when I wear things that don’t go together.  Like the time I wore two different shoes to work.  One black and one blue.  Well it was dark when I was dressing in the morning and they are the same shoe only in different colors.  The unfortunate thing is that I am at work and can’t just run home to change my attire, so I just have to hide at my desk.  So it’s another hiding day.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Real Food

It has been three weeks since I have started the PATH program featuring the Mediterranean diet.  This diet consists of replacing all of the “faux food” in your diet with real, unprocessed foods as well as changing the way you eat.  
The food part is really not my problem.  I don’t go in for sodas and highly processed foods to begin with, so cutting out all the fake stuff was not a problem for me.  The only thing that was processed was the artificial sweeteners, and I had cut that out of my coffee a while ago.   I was drinking Crystal Light, which is loaded with Nutra Sweet, but have stopped since starting this plan.  That was kind of hard as it is left out a key thing that I enjoy drinking.  However, I have replaced it with naturally flavored mineral water which suits me fine. 
The hard part of this plan is changing the way I eat.  I am a fast and an unconscious eater.  I tend to shovel the food in and not pay any attention to the food as I am eating it other that the immediate feel that food is in my mouth.  This plan forces you to take smaller bites, put your fork down between bites, and savor those bites.  That is the most challenging thing for me, and I can’t decide why.  On one hand I don’t like eating hot food warm and I don’t like to waste food. So, I have to visualize smaller portions to put on my plate so I don’t leave food.  That is not easy.  Also eating half a bagel, for example, is a challenge because that other half represents waste.  But I did it this morning until I realized I was hungry later on and took another bite of the second half which turned out to be enough.  It is better than normal though when I would have scarfed down the whole bagel right away and then gone on to get something else when I realized I was hungry again two hours later.  I suppose anything that is good for you is not easy.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Time Lapse

I love watching a good time lapse film for some strange reason.  The compression of time in just those few seconds is really fascinating.  So when I saw a tweet about the night sky in time lapse I just had to click on it.  I was not disappointed.  The shots are incredible and are taken in a place you don’t see much anymore because of the light pollution that affects really seeing the night sky.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Give A Note

I stumbled upon a website recently, Give A Note, raises money for music education in schools.  They sponsored a Youtube video contest last year to award money to schools for entries that outlined the need for money for their music departments.  Many of the videos were quite moving and showed the national impact that the lack of education funding in general have had on school around the county.  I ended up signing up for a recurring donation in memory of my father to the National Association for Musical Education.
I have blogged in past entries about the value of musical education.  The Give a Note site has links to many articles which talk about the studies regarding the impacts music has on students.  In many cases music education has improved test scores, improved self esteem, and improved cognitive functions for overall better understanding of math, science, and other disciplines.  I urge you to take a look and become an advocate yourself.
Music education is not just a nice to have, but a “have to have” subject in school.  Not everyone is going to excel in music just as not everyone is going to excel in math or any other subject.  We all have natural talents in various areas, but how will we know if we aren’t given the chance to experience everything.  School and other experiences in youth, allow children to test drive, as it were, many disciplines, so they can discover what they love and what they want to “become.”  It is up to us to support that exploration in order to provide a better future.  Please help today.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Crime of Youth

It is heartbreaking to hear about young children committing a crime where they don’t even know the reason why.  One of the perpetrators, when asked why he beat up an old man, answered “because”.  Because why?  Because you are tougher than that old man and can do it?  Because you think it’s a lark to have power over another human being?  Because you have been desensitized to violence because you have grown up in a violence torn home?  Why knows why this 15 year old answered that way.  Answered as if he doesn’t care a whit about what he did and now feels like a BMOC because he is committed of a crime and sentenced to 4 years in a juvenile facility and when he gets out he is going to do something else again and go to “big boy’s jail”.  This is his rite of passage.
It breaks my heart that many kids are growing up with role models who are thugs on the streets rather than folk who value life and can teach good life lessons.  It breaks my heart that the community does not fight for these kids and cuts the education funding so the schools they go to are unimaginative, uninteresting places.  It breaks my heart that government is putting more money into prisons rather than putting that money in programs that will prevent people from going to those prisons. 
We really have ourselves to blame.  We turn our backs on the people who really need help.  We close our doors to the outside and concern ourselves with only those who are in our homes and not fight the good fight for the things that matter and for the things that can prevent more of the same.  I guess it’s too much work.  I guess it takes too much time.  Well I guess there will be more of youth committing these kinds of crimes.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


NASA claims there is no credible evidence to support that the world will end on 12/21/12, although when you put the date that way it looks interesting.  An article I read recently explains that the Mayan calendar is cyclical not linear and that the calendar is simply predicting the end of a cycle and the start of a new one.  But don’t tell that to the people who really believe.
Fear strikes hard those who believe in things like this, and there are those who are planning to do away with themselves prior to this date.  The article reports that NASA has received many calls asking if this Doomsday prophesy is true and if they should off themselves.  Others are simply buying into the panic buying end of the world survival kits and preparing for the worst as they did with Y2K.  It doesn’t hurt to be prepared for anything, but getting crazed about it won’t help. 
If it happens it happens and there is nothing anyone else can do about it. Maybe if we try to live everyday as if it were our last day we might not have any question about how I we have lived our lives.  That’s not to say you should not plan for the future, but one never knows when the rug will be pulled out from under you so you might want to plan to have no regrets.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Fighting the Biological Clock

As many did over this past weekend, I watched the Super Bowl.  My husband and I are not fanatical fans of football, but we enjoy watching the commercials and the half time show.  Some of the commercials were pretty funny but most were kind of lame and it appears that they have gotten worse over the last few years.  However, I thought Madonna was pretty good during her performance at half time.  I mean at the ripe old age of 53, she was prancing about on those 5 inch heels and doing deep knee bends that made my knees hurt just watching her. 
Madonna is a brilliant business woman in my opinion.  I mean she has been around for 3 decades and has re-invented herself multiple times in order to stay on top of the game and continue to be popular to a particular segment of the listening community.  Say what you will but I give her a lot of credit for doing that.  She has sold more than 300 millions records according to Wikipedia and continues to be the top selling female artist of all time.  There are not too many who can claim that, and for that I respect what she has done.
Still there is something to be said about aging gracefully.  Madonna seems to be fighting the youth fight by doing all she can to remain youthful despite her biological years.  It’s hard to see the ravages to time on ones face, I will admit, and I guess those with mondo bucks can have whatever nips and tucks it takes while us mere mortals have to live with the sagging skin, the weak knees, and the grey hairs that come with time.  Oh well… 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Old Days

I have recently become aware of the Master Piece Theater series “Downton Abbey”.  I was introduced to it by a friend and then saw an article advertising the finale on a magazine.  I love period films and this show is so close to the way my mother said things were in those days.  The first episode is all about the sinking of the Titanic and the changes that the causalities caused to the hierarchy of one particular family structure regarding who will end up being an heir to the estate.  It seems as if back then things were quite structured and things had to be followed in a very precise manner. 
My great aunt lived in England during the early 20th century.  A book of letters she penned and received was put together and describes much of the same things that are going on in the show.  It seems as if I am watching something similar to her life and brings things to life in a way.   
The big thing I wonder about is where the money came from to run this huge house?  I suppose as I watch other episodes, I will find out more, but I don’t see the master of the house doing anything.  There are so many servants that were employed there.  To what standard of living did they have?  The show does illustrate have both servants and nobility in the house and it is very interesting to see the interactions between them.  Those servants gave up their lives for their employ in most cases, and in this first episode two of them discuss where their lives have taken them.  Still the whole thing seems fascinating and I think I will enjoy looking at the other episodes.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Comfort Food

The other day I was craving some comfort food, which always means pasta of some sort to me.  This time I didn’t have much time on my hands to cook something cheesy, hot and gooey, so I settled for some really simple chicken noodle soup but I made it with Rotini.  It’s fast and easy and something you can do for a quick lunch or when you are feeling a cold coming on.  After making this my husband said the house smelled like a restaurant.
Really Simple and Quick Chicken Soup
Serves 2
½ white onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled and sliced into coins
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 can cooked chicken. drained
8 oz prepared chicken broth
1 cup cooked pasta, any type
Salt and pepper to taste

If you do not have cooked pasta, now is the time to do it.  Prepare as directed on the box, drain and set aside.

Drizzle some olive oil into a Dutch oven or large pot and heat.  Add the onion, celery, and carrot, and cook until the carrots and celery are tender and the onions transparent.  Add the chicken and season to taste.  Heat through and add the chicken broth, about 2 oz of water, and the pasta and bring to a simmer for a minute or two. 

Serve and enjoy.

Friday, February 3, 2012

New Way of Eating

My place of employment has implemented a variety of health related programs this year that are designed to put money into your health fund to help defray costs for medical coverage if you take advantage of them.  One of the things they are doing is helping one eat properly.  I made an appointment with the nutritionist, but her calendar is very full and my appointment isn’t until the end of this month.  Last month they brought in Dr. Will Clower , author of the book The French Don’t’ Diet Plan.  I just started reading it a few days ago and it is very refreshing.
For years I have been battling my weight which has slowly become much harder to lose.  Things are really different now than they were in college.  I remember crash dieting for a dance eating only lettuce and water for 2 weeks and losing 10 pounds to fit into the most amazing dress I had back then.  Now I get physically ill if I eat that way, not to mention extremely cranky and ready to bite someone’s head off if they approach within 10 feet.  At any rate, dieting now is a challenge for me.  Furthermore, the more I have learned about the foods we eat these days, the more convinced I am that all the stuff they put in the food you buy in the grocery store is design to kill you.  Dr. Clower confirmed that assumption.  According to him high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is practically the invention of the devil and the number one cause for weight gain in America.  Read the labels and you can’t get anything in a bottle, can, or box without ingredients that will make your eyes swim trying to pronounce it.  His favorite saying in the book is “if it doesn’t grow from the ground or have a mommy and daddy, you should not eat it.”
So long story short, I am fully subscribing to ridding my life of processed foods, HFCS, and all the crap that companies use to manufacture our food; it’s fresh or not for me from now on.  Hopefully if his theories are right my health, weight, and disposition, should be drastically improved in no time. 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Facebook or Not?

Facebook just isn’t doing it for me any longer.  I mean who has the time any more to be hanging on to every status change and friend update?  I have so gotten past the game playing state and refuse all requests for anything remotely associated with games, giveaways, and calendars. 
I update my status every morning (except weekends) with an inspirational quote and look for friend’s birthdays to wish them a happy day, and then go through the first page or so of my friends statuses and then that’s it.  I don’t have the time or rather don’t take the time, to exchange fish, Greek food, Farmville, or the like.  I have other things that I have to do.
I even have Facebook on my smart phone, which is really helpful since I usually do all this during breaks in my day at work.  But unless I am bored out of my tree, I don’t go to Facebook much any longer.  I view it as one of America’s premier time-wasters.  Maybe I am just jealous that others have the time to waste. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Today would have been my father’s 87th birthday.  I guess since it’s the first birthday without him I am little sad.  I keep looking at the picture I have of him on my desk and wondering what he is doing right now and then remember that he is not doing anything – at least on this physical plane.
I read a book a while ago about the journey that souls take.  The book retells many interviews captured by a psychiatrist who does regression hypnosis to have people find their past lives.  There were just so many stories with similar themes going through them and the concept has fascinated me since. 
I wonder if souls travel with their talents or if it is a talent given when they get their new life.  I will question to myself whether it is my father’s soul when I hear about a fantastic musical talent in the future.  Perhaps it is his soul reincarnated.  Rest in peace, Papi, rest in peace.