A health and fitness blog: With an occasional food item

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Socks II

I was telling a friend at work today about the socks story (see Monday). And she said the MIL (mother-in-law) of someone she knows once wrapped up a half-eaten candy bar and gave it to her for Christmas.
Now don't that beat all?
What's the message there? "I care so much about you, I'm giving you PART of a candy bar"? "And by the way, I took the liberty to eat half of it ahead of time"?

Last day of the year

What are you doing today, Internet?
Tonight?
Do you make New Year's resolutions?
I tend not to. (Maybe that makes me a pessimist. Or, maybe a realist.)
Here's to good cheer, good friends and good humor in '09.

Monday, December 29, 2008

No to landfill, yes to socks


Mr. Owen and I didn't make it out to the landfill, after all. There's always 2009.
(You want to tag along? Give us a call!)
The socks part of this story is this: A friend mine--let's call him John--is the middle child of three. He has an older brother and a younger sister. As it usually does, Christmas rolled around last week. John got pretty much the usual fare from his mother. So did his sister and her kids. The other brother? A PAIR OF SOCKS.
Now, John tells me his mother isn't exactly Ivanna Trump in the money department. But c'mon, John's Mom, can you at least feign fairness?
Later I e-mailed John and said I think this pretty much sums up why Christmas is bad for a lot of people. (I'm also aware that people don't get socks, or even food.) But it's that whole high expectations thing. The food has to be perfect; everybody has to get along; nobody can get JUST SOCKS.
Agree?

Friday, December 26, 2008

Landfill blues

So I was all excited about the prospect of going out to the city landfill today with Michael. But he already drove out there, and reported they're closed until tomorrow. Definitely will want to post a photo or two. (Too bad it won't be scratch 'n sniff, haha.) He's unsure about taking me, because it's not exactly the most scenic (or good-smelling) place in the world. But I think I can handle it. One time he told me about the prisoners who work out there, helping people unload their junk and trash, and how they compete with one another in the down time by creating little decorated heaps of refuse.
One man's trash is another man's treasure, as they say.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas


From Bisquick and us, to you.
May nothing you dismay.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Tanzania friends


Our friends Martin and Sandy McCann are in town for awhile. They're missionaries with the Episcopal Church in Tanzania. Both are MDs, and they retired from their practices in Columbus in the mid-'90s. Martin is a clinician/pathologist at a clinic in Dodoma, and Sandy works at a seminary. She's ordained, so she also leads services around the villages. They're in their sixth year of service.
Their tales are wonderful--namely, how time is not of the essence there like it is here. One time Sandy was to officiate at a wedding that was to begin at 10 a.m., but they all waited until everyone could arrive. I think it finally started about 2 p.m. It's not like they have super highways or anything, or even paved roads. That would drive this compulsive time-keeper (me) INSANE. But you learn to deal with it, I guess.
We're so proud of the McCanns.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Dogs galore



First up: Our friend Bebe added Sam to her mix. Sam joins Lucy and Scruffy the cat in what I am calling her own personal zoo.
When Bebe's son Don brings his dog Jack for coffee time on Saturday mornings, it's now quite a collection. But all very well-behaved. (Reminds me of that scene in Moonstruck where the old man is walking about six dogs at a time.)
Then at our newsroom party Saturday night at Pork Chop's house, Michael (shown here) was cutting the pork tenderloin. And Pork Chop's dog Sassy played supervisor.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Uber climber


This is an outstanding article about one Fred Beckey, a mountaineer based in Seattle who's enjoyed seven decades as a climber.
At 85, he's still pushing. It's amazing the drive some still have late in life.
Enjoy.

Great video

Just in time for Christmas!
Click here.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Rough on the equipment

So I broke a pedal last night in Spin class.
Here's how it happened: We were on Song No. 7, which is the last song and the most difficult track. While in a climbing sequence, the left pedal broke off and stayed clipped into (onto?) my shoe. I wasn't hurt, thankfully, unless you count my pride. People clapped. One nice woman after class asked if I was OK.
I'd been using this particular bike about five days a week for several months. I guess I just wore it out.
Sad that it bit the dust but hopefully it can be fixed. (Mea culpa, Gold's Gym!)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Dog on airplane


What does a dog think about while he's 35,000 feet in the air, trapped in a crate? Is he fearful? Hungry? Cranky because he's not in first class?
These are thoughts I had today because one of our company's executives, when she was in town last week, adopted a dog. Dog's name is Scrumpy. (I'm doing well to remember that part; there's a longer version.) She and her husband had been in the market for a dog and our publisher took her to PAWS while here.
It's such a great place, and one of the local charities we support. (In fact, Bisquick the fat cat came from there.) After Lynn signed everything for Scrumpy, he had to go to the vet's and get cleaned up, etc. Lynn, being here only a couple days from California, had to go back sans Scrumpy. The earliest that Scrumpy could get on a plane was this morning.
Meanwhile, I got to walk with him some yesterday; and we said our good-byes. He's a very curious dog. Sniffed at everything.
Valerie, who had charged of him for about a week, delivered him early, early, early to Air Cargo at Hartsfield for his flight. He made it safe and sound. (This is Lynn with him in photo.)
He'll have such a happy home. I understand he has two dog beds and toys. Must make the long plane ride worth it.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Weird.


Lately I've been in a few situations in which I'm "trapped" with other people--namely, doctors' waiting rooms and today, waiting for my car to be serviced. A trend has developed: the people sitting near me feel compelled to start telling me everything that's going on with them. (I know, I know; children are starving in Africa and so this doesn't really rank up there.)
But how do you handle such things? Because I think I need a few pointers. I do know I can be a good listener, but. I'm just wondering what compels someone to start talking to another person while that person is clearly reading a magazine or watching the continuous news loop on TV?
Two women suckered me in today; the first one was worse by comparison but thankfully her car was ready before she could get going too much. The second woman started telling me how she should have let her dog outside because last time she left him in, he ate all the furniture. Then she asked how that governor in Illinois could have done what he did because "he's so good looking."
After awhile, I started thinking of that old slapstick movie "Airplane" in which passengers seated next to the blabbering man, who kept changing seats, committed suicide out of sheer boredom.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

My favorite chicken dish


Chicken Parmigiana

4 boneless chicken breast halves
2 eggs, beaten
1 c. Italian bread crumbs
One-fourth cup olive oil
1 16-oz. jar meat flavored spaghetti sauce
One-half c. grated Parmesan cheese
5 oz. mozzarella cheese cut into 8 slices

Flatten chicken to one-fourth inch thickness
Dip chicken into eggs, then bread crumbs
Brown chicken on both sides in olive oil
Pour spaghetti sauce into 11x7x2-inch dish. Place chicken on top.
Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over chicken, and top with mozzarella slices.
Bake in preheated 400 degree oven for 15 minutes or until cheese is lightly brown.
Serves 4.
--from "A Southern Collection: Then and Now" (our local Junior League book. Those Junior Leaguers know how to cook!)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

That's the spirit!

Instance 2,562 that Christmas doesn't necessarily bring out the best in people: Sat in traffic today at the mall, trying to make a left turn, only to be denied about 27 times.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

'Not like Pat Robertson'


So. I wanted to post an article from a recent New Yorker about the uber cooks/writers Jeffrey Alford and his wife, Naomi Duguid. But the Web site doesn't link to everything in the magazine. So. If you're interested, it's in the Nov. 24 edition. Let me know if you want to borrow it.
I'd never heard of these people, but the New Yorker runs such great profiles, you tend to get drawn in whether you like it or not.
Instead, here's an interview I found at Powell's Books with one of my favorite authors, Anne Lamott. (Who says in the interview that the people who are drawn to the likes of Pat Robertson would steer clear of her work/take on the world.)
Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

GPS can track Jesus!

Check this out.
Some cities that have problems with stolen Nativity figures, and other religious holiday symbols, have taken matters into their own hands.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Paydirt at Cracker Barrel

This is a strange story.
It's strange on two fronts: one, that anyone in his or her right mind wouldn't be more careful with this amount of cash. And two, my "BS meter" tells me this woman didn't sell a house. (partly because no one is selling a house these days.)

Ethical dilemma

What would you have done?
Last night, I was two customers behind a couple buying groceries at one of the local chains. The cashier couldn't get their check to run through the machine. She finally had to call the customer service woman. She comes over, tries it herself and says, basically, "Sorry, but we can't take this check."
From behind the middle person, I quietly asked the cashier how much their groceries cost. The bill was about $80. I couldn't do it. Probably like yourself, I've spotted people a few bucks here and there, in a similar situation. But it was too much for me.
Guilty feeling? Yes, some, but also sad for the couple. They had to leave the cart. But also, I have a "save the world" streak in me that needs to be tamped down at times. Because I'm not Bill (or Melinda) Gates or anybody like that.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Melancholy: Underrated?


First of all, where have all my commenters gone? Are y'all out Christmas shopping?
Back on the computer after a day in Atlanta. The purpose was to attend a memorial service for a friend who died unexpectedly the Sunday before Thanksgiving. Eleanor was 46. What a beautiful, gracious woman.
Then upon my return, I found a post from a listserve I'm on. It strikes a chord. Because of the listserve's rules, I can't copy it here but the gist is that melancholy, a "down" mood that sits somewhere between clinical depression and euphoria, is underrated. The writer says she's hearing from lots of folks who think there's something wrong with them because they're not in the holiday spirit.
(Don't know about you, but I have a touch of that every year at this time. And at work, we joke about all the "holiday blues" stories--not about their content, per se, but that people are probably not blue until they read all those stories.)
The listserve post was prompted because the writer had found this book at a bookstore. I'll have to check into it myself.
(To read an NPR interview with Wilson, click here.) I could also recommend "Acedia and Me" by Kathleen Norris. Read about that one here.
The thing is, the culture (including the culture of religion) has one preferred mood: up. But our souls/psyches know otherwise. We cycle through seasons. Integrating the cycles/moods/seasons takes time and patience and wisdom and something far deeper than giddiness. (Also a fan of giddiness, I'll take it when I can get it!) And I also believe we can hold many emotions in tension at once, if we permit ourselves: Joy and sadness and grief and thanksgiving.
Melancholy strikes, at least for me, when things don't exactly add up or when I grieve with people. Seem to be doing a lot of that lately. Like my friend's wife dying at 46, and our friend Lucius a few months back at 47.
Maybe we can make a friend of Melancholy and then she won't be such a stranger.
What do you think?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Another use for cheeseburgers

Whoa.
Click here.

Cuteness


Today a friend of mine had this brand of dog visiting in her office; and when the day comes when we actually get a dog, I might have to change my allegiance from labs/Golden retrievers. (Sorry, Mom and Dad. And sorry, Molly the Golden Retriever.)
This is a bijon frise.
When my friend let me hold this dog, she weighed much less than Bisquick. And another plus: She didn't try to break free.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A gift for guys

Not that women don't like bacon, but let me just say my husband will do a dance when he hears about these products.
A friend in the office sent this around today.
Let me know if you try some.
Cheers.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Ah, validation ...


This here is a great column in the most recent issue (Dec. 8) of Newsweek, which arrived at our house today. The magazine has a regular feature called "My Turn" (and I am also proud to add I have a friend who's had her own story published in this space); and this woman writes about her craving for a) regular exercise and b) ice cream.
She's a size 14 and calls herself fat.
This is interesting because in the days of Marlyn Monroe, she was a 14 and was considered a goddess. (Yet I think she means in comparison with most other dedicated runners/joggers, they of wirey look.)
But anyway.
I'll say that I'm much closer to Jennifer Graham's build than the slinky supermodels who tell us how we should look. I always want to ask, "How healthy are you?" because looks can be deceiving. Some of the most thin people I know have health issues galore. I'm certainly not advocating for obesity. But somewhere between obesity and size 0 does it for me. And you?

Monday, December 1, 2008

In and out of the vice

Yes, THAT vice. The waffle iron. The cold press. The potato masher.
A mammogram is what you get as a 40th birthday present.
A couple of observations from the wait: One, a woman in the waiting room was chattering away about her breast cancer, which apparently has been treated but she was back for a follow-up. Let me just say that the words "breast cancer" are not exactly words of comfort when one is waiting for such an exam.
Two, a man (boyfriend? husband?) came in with his significant other. I sat next to them when I came back from doing all the paperwork. Brave fella.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

This and that

One, I have discovered Facebook. Wow. (I realize that in Internet years, it's about 500 years old. So I'm a little slow.) It's cool to keep up with people, especially those who don't live in close proximity.
Two, my aunt and uncle gave me a pretty green jumpsuit for the birthday. Complete with hood. So on my jaunt this evening to a convenience store, there was a sign posted at the door: "Please remove hoodies and sunglasses before entering." (In a recent rash of crimes here, many a robber has worn hoodies and glasses.)
Three, the the University of Alabama football team won a shutout today against Auburn. Normally I'm an Auburn fan, because both my mom and aunt are graduates; but our good friend Lucius, who died in August, was a HUGE Alabama fan. It was also his alma mater. (I wonder if he had anything to do with their undefeated season?)
Four, I was not a fan of naps as a child. But now, especially when one is not reporting to work for several days in a row, they are GOLDEN.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thankful for ... Denny's!

Yes, Denny's. The restaurant. It seemed to be the only food establishment open around here, at least this evening. Yes, we had The Feast at lunch but we held back pretty well this year. After a long nap and long walk, I was ready for some vittles. Ventured out but most everything was closed, except good ol' Denny's and the ever-reliable Waffle House.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Thanksgiving poem

After Apple-Picking
By Robert Frost

My long two-pointed ladder's sticking through a tree
Toward heaven still,
And there's a barrel that I didn't fill
Beside it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didn't pick upon some bough.
But I am done with apple-picking now.
Essence of winter sleep is on the night,
The scent of apples: I am drowsing off.
I cannot rub the strangeness from my sight
I got from looking through a pane of glass
I skimmed this morning from the drinking trough
And held against the world of hoary grass.
It melted, and I let it fall and break.
But I was well

Upon my way to sleep before it fell,
And I could tell
What form my dreaming was about to take.
Magnified apples appear and disappear,
Stem end and blossom end,
And every fleck of russet showing dear.
My instep arch not only keeps the ache,
It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.
I feel the ladder sway as the boughs bend.
And I keep hearing from the cellar bin
The rumbling sound
Of load on load of apples coming in.
For I have had too much
Of apple-picking: I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired.
There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,
Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall.
For all
That struck the earth,
No matter if not bruised or spiked with stubble,
Went surely to the cider-apple heap
As of no worth.
One can see what will trouble
This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is.
Were he not gone,
The woodchuck could say whether it's like his
Long sleep, as I describe its coming on,
Or just some human sleep.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Mmmm, tasty

Tonight we're going here with some friends.
Back to Spin tomorrow!
If you're there, too, come by and see us.
And happy Thanksgiving, early, Internet.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Faux pas

So this morning, I had an impromptu breakfast with one of the local rabbis and his wife at their house. Last Thursday was his birthday and on that day, they were driving up to Atlanta to Whole Foods. We were chatting and he asked if I wanted anything. They got me some coffee beans and I called today on the way to work, to pick it up. Being the sweet couple they are, they invited me in for bagels and fruit and coffee.
After I put the cream into my coffee, I helped myself to a spoon out of the drawer.
Oops. They keep a kosher kitchen. That spoon I used for dairy was meant for meat.
I was embarrassed, but the rabbi's wife promptly washed it and we laughed about it. Glad they didn't say, "You crazy Christian! Get outta here!"
For more about keeping a kosher kitchen, click here.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Last spin class ...

... as a 39-year-old, in about 45 minutes.
Yep, tomorrow is the big 4-0.
Some say it's the "new 20," which I hope to God isn't the case. Late 20s might be better, or mid-30s. Those were some good days. I find myself dreaming lately about some people I knew in my late teens and early 20s. Some college days are in there, and when I started my first job. In some ways, life was easier then, but not in other ways--all the questions and searchings and grapplings. Lord knows I still have them, but now it's different. For instance, I really used to get upset about some stupid, trivial things. But now I get upset about things that matter more, such as when loved ones die or when injustices happen. I miss the energy I had when I was 20; but I like the perspective of now.
You?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Smoke out!

Thursday is the Great American smokeout.
A couplea stats: It doesn't appear that by 2010 fewer than 12 percent of American adults will have kicked the habit, as the CDC has been pushing for.
And last year, about 40 percent of the 43.3 million smokers tried to quit for a day.
If you're a former smoker who finally gave up smoking, how did you do it?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Reba's sweet potato casserole

Just in time for the holidays!
Click here for what looks to be a scrumptious and easy-to-make dish.
(Courtesy Reba McEntire)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The case of the disappearing tilapia


This guy in front of me at Publix tonight ordered $120 worth of tilapia. The dude behind the counter recognized him from ordering in bulk before. The customer said he likes to buy a lot of fish at once and freeze it. (Maybe he lives far out in the country, for all I know.) After the employee wrapped up one styrofoam box, he started dipping into the display fish.
Customer turned to me and said, "I hope you didn't want any tilapia."
Which I did. I said, "Just three for me, please." So the employee was kind enough to hold back three.

Here's a simple and tasty way to make it (or any fresh fish):

Soak fish in milk and 1 tsp. of salt for a half-hour
Roll in bread crumbs
Bake on very top rack of oven at 500 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until flaky

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Brunette goddess?

That's the name of my new conditioner. Haven't tried it yet but my hair stylist recommended it Friday. Will let you know how it goes.
The name cracks me up.
And here's hoping I stay brunette for quite some time--considering I am a mere six days from the Big 4-0. Gulp. (But some say 40 is the new 20. Do you think that's true?)

Friday, November 14, 2008

More about Lucy the dog


Here's something Bebe just sent to me:
"Here’s the story. I probably told you all that I walked outside several times just in case Lucy had “escaped” again and had come back here. No luck. Yesterday morning, I left on an errand and, of course, went out of my way to ride by the house I had let her return to. No Lucy.
All the way home from the errand, I kept telling myself, “Don’t ride by that house again. You’ll just make yourself miserable.” So of course I went out of my way again and rode by the house. Presto!
Lucy was outside with Peggy, the woman I had let her go home with. Lucy was thrilled to see me, and I was thrilled to see her. ... She told me I could take Lucy home with me, and I said, “But I don’t want you and your children to be hurt.” To which she would reply, “But I don’t want you to be hurt. You obviously love her.”
She and I must have stood there 10 minutes saying, “But I don’t want you to be hurt” to each other.
She convinced me to bring Lucy home with me when she said she could tell Lucy missed me last night. Peggy said, “She would play with the children for a few minutes and then she would go sit in the corner by herself.” Lucy is not a corner-sitting dog.
Peggy also said, “She would sniff around as if she was looking for someone.” That did it. I said I would take her, and I did. Lucy jumped into the car so excited. We got back here and she jumped out, still excited. Then I stepped on her foot and made her yelp.
She forgave me and ran around to the front door of the apartment. I opened it and she greeted Scruffy the cat almost as joyfully as she had greeted me. Later Don and his dog, Jack, came over and Lucy went nuts again."
I'm a sucker for a good reunion story, aren't you?

Lucy is the dog on the right.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A happy 'tail'

Our friend Bebe was heartbroken yesterday because her dog Lucy was taken away.
But let's start at the beginning. About six weeks ago, a dog wandered into her neighborhood. He didn't have a tag but appeared healthy. She asked around and tried to find the owner. Meanwhile, Bebe (who has a heart not only for animals and people but for strays--in both categories) fell in love with Lucy. Lucy fit happily into Bebe's apartment, which she also shares with Scruffy the cat.
Life was going on until yesterday, when a car drove by her apartment, and the driver spotted Bebe and Lucy outside. There was a child in the backseat. Turns out Lucy was their dog. After some discussion, Bebe gave back her friend, even though the woman said she could keep her.
Well today I got an e-mail from Bebe who said Lucy's come back! I don't know the details yet but I figure the other family figured Bebe was better off with Lucy than they. What a kind gesture.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Dude, I feel your pain



Today something happened to a story I had just finished. It pretty much vanished, even though I thought I was saving correctly. Ever have one of those days?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Weird wedding stories


So, yesterday at lunch, a group of friends and I were discussing weird things that happen at weddings. Weddings and funerals either bring out the best in people, or the worst (or both), given all the emotions floating about. This one friend told the following story: She and another friend were the wedding planners for the bride. They had arranged the caterer, flowers, music, etc. On the big day, the bride's father-in-law was thanking my friend for all her work. He put his arm around her shoulder and sort of went to kiss her on her cheek--only, he "accidentally" stuck his tongue in her ear. Eeew.
Then someone else at the lunch table said she was a bridesmaid at a recent wedding in Florida which in fact was called off the morning of, but happened anyway. The bride and groom had lived together for a year or so but never did have that "special" relationship you might expect of two people about to wed. In fact, this bridesmaid and others had said as much to their friend. The day of the wedding, the groom called it off (sort of?) on the phone with his fiance, with his mother in the room. That's strange enough. Then later in the day, somehow, the wedding still took place.
What are some of your own weird wedding stories?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Gruyere cheese


My first encounter with Gruyere came from our friend Billy, who makes a kickin' tomato-cheese pie. Though not cheap, Gruyere has a kick to it that's out of this world. Then when I was out of town week before last, I attended a party where the couple served cheese grits with Gruyere. Wow. Even before I could drive home from said trip, I was telling Michael about this on the phone; so tonight, he made a recipe of cheese grits with Gruyere, which we ate with pork tenderloin and steamed broccoli. The grits recipe came from the Paul Prudhomme site, therefore, in the venerable words of Mr. Husband, "it wouldn't suck." And it didn't.
Cheers.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Won't you be my neighbor?


Let me brag about our neighbors. I know it's tough these days to find people who will love you as your neighbor, much less tolerate you. But when I came home today, I had this note posted to the door: "No door delivery on newspaper Sat. or Sun. I will be out of town. Love, your neighbor (paper boy)."
You see, the two newspapers we get every morning are thrown to the end of our drive. It's not a long drive, mind you, but it's a pain to go out there when it's raining. So our across-the-street neighbor brings them to our back door.
He's not the only great one. My first grade teacher lives on one side of us and once a week, SHE CUTS OUR GRASS. Not a large patch of grass, but still she insists on it. Michael came home many years ago and saw her cutting his grass (this was before my time), and he said, What are you doing?! and she said, My doctor says I need to get more exercise so I might as well be pushing a lawn mower.
On the other side of us: Bisquick's babysitter. Anytime we go out of town, she comes in and feeds him and talks to him. She and her husband are also very friendly and kind.
It's not everyday you get one neighbor like this, but much less three or four.
Internet, do you have good neighbors?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Memory

Don't know about you but I'm thankful the election is behind us. All that drama! And now, probably starting around next week, someone will announce his/her candidacy for 2012.
Meanwhile, here's an interesting article from Harvard Medical School about dimentia, and about keeping your mind sharp as you age.
(Then again, so much of this is genetic. A professor friend of mine has early dimentia and there's hardly a sharper mind around. It's very sad.)
What are some of your own tricks to keep sharp mentally? I especially like the tip from the article to keep a strong support system around you.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Cornbread in the yard

Yes, we have about half a skillet of cornbread in the yard. I trust the critters will get to it by morning.
I was pulling the skillet out of the oven with an oven mitt. Then I must have tilted the pan a bit and the whole round piece went onto the floor. Fortunately we have a rug that caught most of it. So I went out and shook it off.
This was not such a bad thing because Michael and I can't eat the whole serving anyway.
Hope the squirrels enjoy it.
Here's the recipe. It's called Charlie's Famous Cornbread, named for our friend Charlie.

1 Tbsp. self-rising flour
1 egg
2 c. cornmeal
1 and one third cup buttermilk or milk (buttermilk is better)
One-fourth c. cooking oil.

Preheat oil in skillet at 450. Meanwhile, mix other ingredients. When preheating is complete, pour hot oil into batter and blend. Return to oven for about 25 minutes.
De-lish!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Monday, November 3, 2008

Pet humiliation



These are the pets of two bloggers I read. The yellow-costumed dogs live in Utah. The other is in New York.
If dogs could talk, eh?
What do you think these would say?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

One of the greats


So my little jaunt to Tennessee last week took me to hear the the Rev. Fred Craddock, Ph.D., named one of the best 12 living preachers by Newsweek.
What an amazing storyteller. (All great preachers are great storytellers.) This was a rich experience for me.
Recognizing this is a health and fitness blog and not my subject of daily fare (faith), I'll repeat a story which he told. Though applicable to faith communities, it also helped remind me not to make assumptions about people so quickly. Which could serve us all to be kinder, gentler people. Which is related to mental health, yes?
In this particular lecture, Craddock was talking about guest preaching. Because he has mainly been a seminary professor at Emory University, he's not had a pulpit to call home. The best preachers, he reminded us, are pastors; their words come from their knowledge of what's going on in the lives of the pews. So it's best, if you're a guest preacher, not to comment on something gone awry before you preach. Such as the woman who got up to sing a solo before his sermon. She'd get to a certain verse and her voice would crack. The piano player would stop and they'd start again. Same thing. Then same thing a third time. The woman left the sanctuary and he could hear the car starting and pulling away.
The temptation is to get up in the pulpit directly after something like that and say, "Bless her heart, well she tried. Her heart was in the right place." You just get up and give your lesson, ignoring the faux pas.
Then he found out her father had killed himself two days before.
Lesson: You never know what someone's going through. Don't make assumptions because you will most often be wrong. Food for thought, yes?

Friday, October 31, 2008

Conflicted?


Just back from a little jaunt to Tennessee. These signs were in a patch of grass on a residential street. At first I was confused about which house they belonged to, but then concluded three houses are down the lane, out of sight.
Funny.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

No mammogram on THIS day


Have always wondered how a one-person OB/Gyn shop (one doc) can see to his/her patients while awaiting calls on near-deliveries. It happened to me this morning; my doc was about to do his thing for my checkup (after which I always expect him to propose) when his cell went off. He took the call and was told the woman was 5-6 cm. dilated. He then turned back to me and said I was the last patient he'd be seeing for the next little while.
Whew! Glad we got that in.
A few minutes later, the receptionist got on the phone to schedule my first age-40 mammogram. (Actually, I had one at 30 but that's a different story.) The BIG DAY is Nov. 21, and would you know she scheduled it for 8:30 that morning? The morning of my birthday?
I'll be darned if I'm not going to reschedule. I mean, really! The last thing I want to do on my birthday, much less at 8:30 in the morning, is stick my goods in the waffle iron.
Going out of town tomorrow for two days. Be nice to Michael and Bisquick, if you happen to see them.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Prostate update

If you're a man of a certain age, I urge you to get a prostate exam.
Our friend Larry Foley at work wrote about his cancer for the paper a few months ago; nearing retirement age, he never had such an exam and now the cancer is in his bones. In his column, he pleaded with people to get checked, too.
The party I mentioned from Sunday — at the house with all the TVs — was a fundraiser for Larry and his wife. She's had her own serious health issues this past year as well, and they need help.
Say a prayer for Larry. He's a dear soul and has been such a dedicated employee for many, many years. Want to donate? Contact me. (AKennedy(at)Ledger-Enquirer.com)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The man cave




This is something you need to see. But only if you like football. Or if you're a guy.
A friend of ours, who just hosted a party today/this evening, has what he calls a Man Cave. Five TVs — some of size and with all this fancy stuff I can't explain — in one room. Cute girl in the photo? The TV behind her is just on the other side of the wall of the man cave. So that makes six sets.
I'm not poking fun (he's afraid I am); this is just a male-female/Mars-Venus thing.
At one point I ran upstairs where some womenfolk were sitting around a table. Talking. Quietly.
Too much sensory overload in the Man Cave. With all the TVs on and sound blaring, it bears a striking resemblance to being in Times Square.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

This and that

As Kitty and I were enjoying our coffee this morning (he prefers decaf), I talked to a friend of mine who is the priest at this church.
He and his wife are the proud new parents of dogs Jacob and Esau, whom he described as cocker-spaniel mix. They're brothers, as you might gather from the biblical reference. They're 15 weeks old, and a bit "crazed," as Donald says.
I hope to meet the canines next week, as I'm journeying here for a few days and will make a stop in Chattanooga.
The family's former dog, now deceased, was named Sugar, or Sugardog. He is buried off the coast of Maine.
Next topic: I've taken major naps the past two days. Came home early yesterday and slept for two hours. Slept that much again today after lunch. Weird. But as Michael reminds me: Your body is trying to tell you something. ("Rest!")
Final topic: Fall is pretty here so far. I wish we had the vivid colors of our friends to the north; but at least it's nice to have a break from the long summer and its humidity.
Will see some better colors next week, for sure.
Have a great weekend, Internet.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Cleansing


Have you heard of these body cleansings?
Oprah, perhaps more famous than the Queen of England, talks about her 21-day cleanse here. The point is to rid your body of, well, junk that has accumulated. During a cleanse, you eat only fruits and berries and nuts and such. (I exaggerate. Some.)
But I don't get how the emotional part completely goes away, as this piece suggests. Because aren't you just putting off emotional eating for 21 days? Or do you think your brain and heart adjust too?
Internet, what do you think? Anyone out there ever done a cleanse?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Bountiful harvest


Today I had the pleasure of interviewing this woman, Benita Long of Augusta, Ga.
She and some friends published a book through Thomas Nelson Publishers. "Come to the Table" is part recipe book, part photo/coffee table book, part biblical/historical/literary book having to do with food — and, larger than that, enjoying food with family and friends.
Because I used to work and live in Augusta, we had some friends in common. And it turns out, we were neighbors, unbeknownst to one another, for about five years.
So that part was cool, too.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Election brew

Over here at Columbus Coffee, proprietor John Woodward recently came up with a cool marketing tool: an Obama blend and a McCain blend.
Last I heard, the blends will go through the election.
They're keeping tabs.
Enjoy! And remember: Vote early and vote often.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Opting out

Fascinating. This guy in Texas, married with three kids, has opted out of his company's healthcare plan. Why? It would cost him $1,000 per month.
He figures, in the long run, he'll come out even or be ahead if he pays for everything out of pocket. Could be. (And you know this guy prays every day nothing serious happens! — car accidents and the like.) Back in the day, as recently as a few years ago, I expressed shock at friends who didn't have insurance. Because you always think of the "What ifs"? But I completely get this guy's position. A thousand dollars a month? I understand that it's called "insurance." It's not like you're getting something real tangible every month; you're paying for the (possible) big bill down the road.
Yet. I find it rather immoral that that amount of money doesn't get someone house calls and spa treatments.
What do you think?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

New dog friends



Here are some new dog friends I'd not met until Saturday.
Bebe, on the right, is the owner of Lucy. Her son Don is the owner of Jack. We're friends with Bebe (and I've recently met Don). But Lucy is a recent addition to the family, having shown up in Bebe's neighborhood. Bebe is a True Softie and took her in to live with her and Scruffy the cat.
I don't know the identity of the other dog in the second shot.
This was taken outside Fountain City, a downtown coffee shop.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Ferrol Sams

Got to thinking about Ferrol Sams today.
He's just up the road, as we say, in Fayetteville, Ga., just south of Atlanta. Sams is a rather famous regional doctor and writer. He just turned 86.
I thought of him because I've been thinking of my mother-in-law Sara, now deceased. She was a contemporary of Sams' and attended Mercer University in Macon with him. Sara dated him briefly, and was (sort of) included in "The Whisper of the River" — Sams' novel based loosely on his years in Macon.
A couple of years ago, after Sara had died, Michael and his father Hugh and I were driving around Atlanta. True to form, Hugh started to say some things about Sams that to me smacked of an old rivalry. (Michael had previously told me this was a long-festering wound of his dad's. "I never liked that guy," he'd say.) Not sure the two men ever encountered each other, as Sara and Hugh met after her Mercer days.
Bear in mind that at the time of Sara's death in 2005, she and Hugh had been married more than 50 years. They had a strong and happy marriage and raised two sons.
From the back seat, I said, "Hugh, don't you think it's time to forgive him?"
I guess there's sting in old wounds, real or imagined.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Debate, schmebate

Anyone watching the debate tonight?
I haven't decided yet. I've watched all of them up to this point but I usually get so worked up about them, and yell stuff at the TV, it's hard for me to relax after that. Plus I've already voted. So there's that.
Quite an election season, eh?
In the spirit of bipartisanship, what gets your vote — chocolate ice cream or vanilla?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Going raw


Found something.
This woman, Angela Stokes, after topping out at 300 pounds, went totally raw. Now she weighs 138. Going raw means she eats raw vegetables and non-processed foods and seeds and nuts and fruit.
Mostly I think, "Good job!" She's written books about her plan and her successes, and has support from many others who are walking her path. I like her reasoning that animals don't eat processed food to survive so why should we?
Then again, I have a natural suspicion about programs this extreme. What do you think?

Depleted

I have absolutely no idea what to blog about. Any ideas?
As Fox News would say: "You decide."

Saturday, October 11, 2008

PMS fountain


Aka a chocolate fountain. Have you seen one of these? Forty ounces of pure chocolate flowing through this thing. I was holding back pretty well on the food intake until this came out. Just returned from Pork Chop's house (see Pork Chop in brightly colored kitchen), where we celebrated the 40th birthday of PC's husband, Jeff.
Her real name, as you can probably surmise, is not Pork Chop. It's actually Dawn. That's just what this guy at work calls her.
Happy birthday, Jeffie!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Take the poll

'Tis the season for polls. Please take ours.

Who gets your vote?
Ginger
Maryann
None of the above
  
pollcode.com free polls


If you don't get the reference, these were two of the female characters from Gilligan's Island. It's a question asked frequently of men: Are you a Ginger guy (attracted to busty, blond women) or a Maryann guy (women who are less glamorous). Thankfully my husband prefers Maryann types.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Now for something really peppy

Chocolate. The word for today is chocolate, so say we. (Bisquick and I.)
My friend Bebe reminded me earlier that chocolate will cure just about any ill. Not really, of course, but it makes for a good anecdote.
What is your absolute favorite chocolate-y thing?
I think mine would be double-chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. Or, chocolate mint ice cream.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Parity


Amid the $700 billion in the government bailout package: Parity for mental illnesses in health care coverage. It's only fair; and it's about time.
Link here for the full story.
Also, here's another piece about how the economic downturn/slump/recession/depression — choose your word — is affecting people's mental health.
“This economic crisis has been going on for months and months and months,” said Josh Klapow, an associate professor of health-care organization and policy at the University of Alabama-Birmingham. “If you take the gas prices, and you couple that with home foreclosures, and you couple that with major lending agencies and investment banks going under and retail prices going up, and you couple that with a stock market that crashes plus a bailout followed by a stock market crash, you get anxiety compounding anxiety.”
Internet, what are some of your coping skills, besides "buy low, sell high"?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Favorite restaurant?

Name it.
Or, a place you have eaten once and wish you could go back.
Me? Morton's. The food and service are unreal.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Mighty Max



In more pet news: Max the dog found his way home to Connecticut after being gone for several weeks — and about 45 miles.
Incredible.
When I was a child, my family "gave" one of our dogs to a nearby lumber yard to be a guard dog. Popeye had gotten too big for our yard and was getting into some mischief. My brother and I were sad, of course, when he left home; but we could go see him easily, as the place was only about 2 miles away. One day after the lumber yard adopted him, we were at the breakfast table and there was Popeye at the back door, wagging his tail. He'd gotten out of his new house and came back to ours. Eventually the lumber yard gave him to a nice family in the country where I trust he spent many happy years.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Happy anniversary, us!


It's our fifth anniversary today.
Mr. Owen will grill a steak for later. But first — the pet blessing at church. In honor of St. Francis of Assisi, pet blessings are usually on or near his Feast Day. We'll sing "All Creatures Great and Small," and each pet will receive a prayer by the priest. Sadly, Bisquick can't go. (Not fair to keep him in a box.) So we take Old Kitty (my childhood stuffed animal) and hope that blessing transfers to him.
Hope everyone is having a great weekend!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Guys and dolls











This has nothing to do with the musical, but rather a difference between men and women in the food department.
Regular readers to this blog will recall when we asked if peanut butter needs a vehicle (such as a cracker). A male friend in our office says no, and eats it right out of the jar. (Ick.) Many women agreed with me. Yet others, who are women said, "We eat it out of a jar, too."
So obviously, the complex world we live in doesn't break down neatly, as in "all men can enjoy peanut butter out of a jar and no women can."
That said, tonight's meal was fajitas. At the grocery store, Michael had to wait on me several long minutes while I gathered the following: shredded lettuce, cheese, peppers, lime juice and sour cream and, of course, the wraps.
He was in charge of the meat.
Needless to say, you can tell which plate here is mine, and which one is his.
Men? Women? How do you prefer your fajitas?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Scream is in the building







Edvard Munch dropped by the office a while ago.
"The Scream," or "The Cry," is a series of expressionist paintings by Munch, depicting an agonized figure against a blood red sky. The landscape in the background is Oslofjord, viewed from the hill of Ekeberg, in Oslo (then Kristiania), Norway. (Source: Wikipedia.)
Munch created several versions of "The Scream" in various media. The Munch Museum holds one of two painted versions (1910) and one pastel. The National Gallery of Norway holds the other painted version (1893). A fourth version, in pastel, is owned by Norwegian billionaire Petter Olsen. Munch also created a lithograph in 1895.
"The Scream" is an appropriate symbol for these tumultuous days, don't you think?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Great quote

“We are such spendthrifts with our lives. The trick of living is to slip on and off the planet with the least fuss you can muster. I’m not running for sainthood. I just happen to think that in life we need to be a little like the farmer, who puts back into the soil what he takes out.”
— actor Paul Newman (1925-2008)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Name that duck


Name this duck. He currently resides in the fountain outside of the newspaper. First time I noticed him was Saturday.
If your duck is missing a home, come get him. Otherwise, he'll gladly be adopted.
Prize awarded to the most creative name. Go.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Coming Tuesday: Clean dishes


The disease spread.
Not long after our oven died, the dishwasher — situated right underneath — kicked the bucket. Something with the motor. True to most things these days, it'd cost about as much to get a new one as replace a part. So we did and it will be installed Tuesday. Meanwhile, we are suffering like those in the developing world (!) and washing by hand.
We should have called our priest to come do a funeral. Why not? He met us at the vet's in 2004 when our first cat, Manny, needed to be put down. (Cats have not had good luck in this house, as I may have mentioned before. Granted, Manny was old; but the next one we got, another grey tabby named Levi, lived less than a year because he came to us with a disease from the shelter. Which we didn't know until it was too late.)
Anyway, on the day of Manny's Execution, when he didn't get a last-minute stay from the governor, I told Michael I'd called Doug to meet us at the vet's — which he at first thought was weird.
The technician came into the exam room and said the vet was running a little late, and I said, "That's OK, our priest isn't here yet." She looked at us funny.
Then Doug came and he read a poem about cats and I started crying; and he said a prayer; then the vet came in and did her thing and we petted Manny and talked to him and he was gone.
Bisquick, meanwhile, is feeling fine and continues to be fat and happy.
If you need any dishes washed on Tuesday or thereafter, let us know.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Internet and hypochondria

First, this. We at the Spin Cycle are saddened over the news of Paul Newman's death. He died of cancer Friday in Connecticut at age 83. Newman was one of the class acts. (And, he had those great salad dressings.)
My main tale today is a new theory: That the Internet — or, searching thereon — can turn one into even more of a hypochondriac than one might already be. For instance: Google the words "dry mouth" and "hair loss" and one of the 199 possibilities on one site is diabetes.
This particular instance is not autobiographical; but there have been others. "OMG, I have cancer."
As with most things, I can see both sides: How docs probably roll their eyes when the upteenth patient says, "I saw on the Internet ..." but also, arming oneself with as much (solid) information as possible is liberating.
Any medical experiences with the Internet — good or bad — out there?

Friday, September 26, 2008

What a gas

Did you see this?
Then I was interested to read this morning about Lance Armstrong getting back into the racing scene.
What do you think?
Have a great weekend, Internet.
And remember (whether you cycle or not): May the wind at your back never be your own.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Time to 'waddle and dawdle'


Now for something light and (somewhat) frivolous: The changing of the leaves.
Read here about great places to go.
The closest recommendation to us is the Great Smoky Mountain National Park; but, thanks very much, I'll watch the leaves change on TV here before I get in bumper-to-bumper traffic there.
Plus I am of the humble opinion that this town in the Smokies would win Tacky Town USA. If there were such a vote.
(No offense to those of you who may be mayor of Gatlinburg.)

"Gatlinburg is a shock to the system from whichever angle you survey it. ... It sits just outside the main entrance to Great Smoky Mountain National Park and specializes in providing all those things that the park does not — principally, slurpy food, motels, gift shops [400 of them], sidewalks on which to waddle and dawdle — nearly all of it strewn along a single, astoundingly ugly main street.
"For years it has prospered on the confident understanding that when Americans load up their cars and drive enormous distances to a setting of rare natural splendor what most of them want is to play a little miniature golf and eat dribbly food. Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most popular national park in America , but Gatlinburg — this is so unbelievable — is more popular than the park."
— from "A Walk in the Woods" by Bill Bryson

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Um, reality?


This Barbara Ehrenreich piece appears in today's NY Times.
There's something to be said for living on Planet Reality. And there's obviously a line between "the sun is always shining" to "the sun never shines." Sometimes, at least for me, it seems the sun will last forever; and other times the clouds stick around for what seems an eternity. None of us (I hope) are completely one-sided, all the time.
The deluded optimism that Ehrenreich writes about is very popular among Americans — and certainly the financial world — which can be helpful. But not always, as we're now seeing.
What do you think?
Now for some practical tips about money.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tanking

You know the news. Here's some of the latest.
Had lunch with a clergy friend today who asked a pointed question: Where exactly does the money go that you lost in the market? (By "you," he meant the understood plural, because if I were serious about making money, I probably wouldn't be sitting in this chair.)
My friend said he was seated next to an economist on a flight to California recently; and he asked the guy that same question and he really couldn't answer.
Say you have a hundred dollars. You give it to someone to invest. But then the money's all gone (not hypothetical, as you know.) So. Where does it go, exactly?
My new theory is, we'll all be living in caves again and baking bread by sunlight. Maybe we can all go live with Eustace Conway. (See below.)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Slow as Christmas


The Internet is creeping along tonight. I might have to send out smoke signals to get this one filed. ...
Currently reading "The Last American Man" by Elizabeth Gilbert. It's about one Eustace Conway who sits/works on his massive property near Boone, NC, and teaches people things such as sustainability, hunting and growing your own food and the general wastefulness that is the American life.
The preserve is called Turtle Island.
Either this guy's certifiable, or he's so cutting edge, he seems certifiable. Or maybe a little of both.
If you've read it, let me know your thoughts.
To read more about Turtle Island, click here.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

What a cool gig

The Sports Illustrated writer Gary Smith has what's got to be one of the coolest jobs around. Though I've never been a sports writer (mainly religion, which is comparable if you think about it), it's got to be pretty great to immerse yourself into four full-length profiles a year. Obviously, Smith has paid his dues at the magazine over two decades, and now can perhaps relax a bit, away from the daily grind.
Here's a good quote: “I really want to understand stuff, go on a journey,” he says. “Bringing a judgment to the subject, there’s no journey.” (Translation: You really can find something redeeming in the toughest of folks.)
And, to live in Charleston, S.C. Ooh-lala.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Doing the math


It took me a few seconds to translate 72 oz. of steak into pounds. (It's 4.5). In perspective, a pretty standard-sized filet weighs 8 oz., or half a pound.
We were watching the Travel Channel the other night and a feature on this Amarillo restaurant came on. On this show, three guys of rather average girth tried to finish the meal (with sides) in an hour. None of them could. Not a surprise, really.
Then on Wednesday, a co-worker shared how he was in a Krystal-eating contest last year at a state fair — how many Krystal burgers (we call them gut bombs) you could eat in a minute. Our friend didn't win. He only ate three.
In both cases: Gross.

P.S. "Big Texan" is a bit of an oxymoron, yes?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A pill for everything!

One day, we might be able to program commitment.
Fascinating.
Spouse 1: "Honey, did you take your monogamy pill today?"
Spouse 2: "No, but thanks for reminding me! I was just going to go jogging with my new friend Jill."

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

So long, farewell

To our friend and colleague Brad Barnes.
He's going to work for The Duck, aka Aflac. Here's a little song to send him on his way.
We'll miss you, Brad!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Internet, con't.

Heard this guy interviewed on Georgia Public Radio today.
He's a professor "just up the road," as we say.
In the radio interview, he made it clear that he's not against the Internet and all its advantages; but he also said teens are especially in a cocoon if all they're doing is communicating with — and learning from — other teens via computer.
Now, I don't have a dog in this hunt. I don't have children. But I do care that we might be raising new generations of people who aren't very well-rounded and who don't go to museums or read books, and who can't spell entire words without abbreviations.
What say you?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Technology and time


Defer no time. Delays have dangerous ends.
— Shakespeare

Eating at a fast-food restaurant on Saturday, on our way back home, a woman sat nearby with a young boy. The woman was frantically text-messaging, then she'd put the phone down and stare at it; then she'd pick it back up and go at it again. The boy ate his food silently. I found myself hoping this was the boy's babysitter instead of his mother. Somehow it mattered to me that it wasn't his mother, caught up in "conversation" with someone outside the restaurant.
People say all this technology buys us more time. My question is, Time for what? How do you and I use our time saved by e-mailing and texting and faxing? (Faxing's not new, exactly, but it's still technology.) Is text-messaging, say, a means to an end? Or just an end? If I send a text to someone, do I have in mind to spend more face time with someone else as a result?
My unscientific findings say that the technology, collectively, is an unhealthy escape. An addiction. I get that new things are attractive and cool. But if what results is that a child is ignored while the person in charge of him wears out her thumbs on a phone, well, we gotta rethink our definition of cool. And spending time.
What do you think?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Dialing paws


Bisquick begrudgingly alerted me to this story earlier today.
Begrudgingly, I say, because it involves a canine, not a feline.
His raging jealousy may even have gotten the best of him; even after getting a morsel of grilled chicken from our dinner table, Bisquick whined incessantly then bit Mr. Owen on the leg as he was walking down the hall.
Don't bite the leg that feeds you, I say.

P.S. This story also further illustrates my husband's insistence that the German Shepherd is the best "brand" of dog. I say golden retrievers and/or labs. Truth be told, if this had happened to someone who owned a lab, the person would have died while the dog licked him and wagged his tail. Want the job done? Call the Shepherds.