A health and fitness blog: With an occasional food item

Friday, June 27, 2008

Wear that sunscreen

What a great picture.
This says to me: "Cats on vacation."
As of about three hours ago, Michael and I are on vacation. But we can't take Bisquick where we're going. We keep talking to him about it and apologizing that he has to have a pet sitter. He has a nice pet sitter, though. Not only does she bring in the mail for us, and feed him, but she gives him some attention.
Like he needs more.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The snow is always whiter

Or grass is always greener, or something like that.
Found this photo on my desktop. I don't recall where it came from; but it makes me want to be there, given our heat here these days. (But hey, it's south Georgia in late June--whattaya expect?)

Car repairs part XV

I lost count.
This time, it's not me. Thank God, because vacation is coming up.
It's someone I've interviewed before, Gordon Atkinson of Texas, who has this blog entry from today, June 26.
His latest entry follows one about his car troubles. He's feeling a little less Zen today. But, like me with my own mechanic, he seems to have stumbled on a good one. This is a particularly vulnerable feeling, when one is out of town and not sure when one can get back home. (This happened to my own self back in '97 when I was in grad school. Bear in mind this was before cell phones, at least for me. About 45 minutes into a 6-hour trip, my car just died going down this hill. I coasted into the emergency lane and thankfully a state patrolman saw me soon after. Long story short, but I was able to get my car to the dealer, and fixed--which took all day--and called the wife of one of my professors who came to pick me up and she gave me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in their kitchen. With milk!)
Good comfort food, in a pinch.
Internet, is there a saint for car troubles that you know of?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

You go, girl

Regular readers of this blog might recognize this name. She is a new friend of ours, who moved to town recently. Bebe got the go-ahead today to do some freelancing for one of our paper's publications. She is a terrific writer and storyteller, and has a tremendous story of her own from recent years. (This is where the health and fitness part comes in.)
Click here for that.
Among other claims to fame, she is the mother of two sons and the mother of a cat named Scruffy.
Looking forward to reading more of your work, Bebe!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Repair shop or dealer?

Here's a story I just saw on AOL.
(It has nothing to do with health or fitness, unless you put finances in the health category, which I do.) The Consumer Reports survey says that people are generally more satisfied with taking a sick car to an independent mechanic than a dealer. Myself, I've had good luck with both--but generally my pocketbook comes out better with my mechanic who by the way has a great sense of humor and looks me in the eye when we speak.
Both important.
He has some issues: He doesn't call you back, even when he says he will (you generally have to hound him); and if you can stand the cramped space he calls his office and his mother sitting there smoking and coughing; and the bathroom that's not exactly featured in Southern Living--then you can hang.
Because he's honest and he won't fix anything that doesn't need fixing. And because he doesn't have a whole lot of overhead, you don't pay more than you need to.
If I had a new car that was under warranty, heck yeah I'd go to the dealer.
But when you find a good mechanic who doesn't rape your checkbook and shoots straight with you--that's golden.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Prison gruel?

The normally reliable MarthaStewart.com threw me for a loop with this recipe.
Check out all the spices in it.
It ended up really watery, and bland.
At first, Michael said, "This isn't that bad." (He was being nice.) I had more colorful language for it. Then he said Martha might have picked up this recipe in prison. We opted for plan B. (Sandwiches.)
Calling all the gourmets out there: What could be the problem?

Best ending of a movie, ever

Sunday, June 22, 2008


Went to a young friend's Eagle Scout Award ceremony today.
Here's a little history of the top Scouting award.
Our friend is 16 years old. He organized the building of a wooden covered rest stop, if you will, at a city mountain biking trail. It's since been named for an adult cyclist who was run over and killed here in February. The ceremony was very moving--especially the part where our friend stood up and gave a speech in which he said his father was his hero.
Well done!

P.S. Been thinking about the Melissa C. Morris blog. Is anyone's life that uncomplicated (as it comes across), or does she edit out all the juicy/tragic/difficult stuff? Is your life less complex if you have a ton of money? Some say it's more so, since you probably get a bunch of beggars. But I'd like to test-drive it for a day or so. And you?

Saturday, June 21, 2008


Item one: Read about this interesting blog in the Times. I say "interesting" because this is about three universes (universe-i?) from where we live. Two years ago, the blogger married someone 30 years her senior. He is hugely wealthy and was a bachelor until his mid-50s.
She was his personal trainer. The blog is mostly about this charity function and that; their dog; their country house near the Hamptons; and their fabulous trips.
Item two: Sign at one of the local liquor establishments: High gas prices? A little 'wine' will help. A) Funny but B) Let's not encourage even more self-medicating than is 'Absolut'-ly necessary.
Three: New Murphy's Law: If there are only five people using the hundreds of weight machines in the gym, and at the time you need to use one of them, one of the other people stays on that one for 10 minutes.
Enjoy your weekend!

Paging Dr. Gupta

Just found a Paging Dr. Gupta blog.
If you're a CNN junkie, or just an occasional viewer, you know that Dr. Sanjay Gupta is their chief health correspondent.
My question, after seeing him on CNN and assuming he sees patients in Atlanta, and now finding his blog: Does he ever sleep?
He recently found time to go to Cameroon and report on some of that country's diseases.
An assistant professor of Neurosurgery at Emory University and associate chief of the neurosurgery service at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, he is also a frequent guest on the news program Anderson Cooper 360°.
Sleep, Sanjay! Sleep!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

At what price?

Here's an interesting quiz I just found.
The context: Today my car is in the car-hospital, which lately has been its second home. My mechanic, who's good and trustworthy (BOTH!) is my new BFF. I really like him but I don't like paying all this money. So I was thinking, What would be my limit of things I would sell in order to pay for something pricey like a car repair? (Last night, Michael and I were threatening to sell the cat. But he overheard us, so we won't.)
Then in my Googling I found the quiz.
More context: After such bad news with The Car, I start to play the Perspective Game. You probably do it too: Well, at least I have my health. (And I do, and I'm thankful.) And lots of people are flooded out of their homes in Iowa. And children are starving in Africa, and even in parts of our city.
I feel better.
But also, still poorer.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Our friend here who has the brain tumor is slipping more. His wife posted this today on a health care blog:
"I have been struggling all day. (He) is worsening, he and I both know it, and have talked about it. He will continue to soldier forward. He has been stumbling some--sort of listing to the side. He said this afternoon he realized he is doing it, but doesn't feel dizzy.
"I asked him this afternoon if he was scared of what was ahead. He said, 'No. I'll know who I am until I don't.' "

A little self-indulgence

Like most print journalists, I am sentimental about newspapers.
But I am also sentimental about eating.
— Leonard Pitts, Miami Herald columnist

This is from one of his upcoming columns.
Any ideas about how to help us "save" the industry? (Just for today: Only non-sarcastic comments, please. Later on, we can resume our regular programming.)

Fat and happy?

This week's Time magazine contains this cover story about kids and obesity.
Reading the intro piece, you realize what a love affair Americans have had historically with food. One of our national holidays (Thanksgiving) focuses on One Honkin' Meal, after all.
Then the story breaks down areas of the country hardest hit by this epidemic: Native American reservations and rural Appalachia, to name two.
The poor are at a particular disadvantage. Think about it: If you don't have access to reliable transportation, and stores with healthy foods, what are you going to do? Take three buses to buy a bag of apples?
But kids in middle and upper-class suburbia fall prey to another phenomenon: Phys ed. classes keep falling by the wayside in schools; and they're more sedentary (with computer games and the like) than their peers one generation removed.
Adults, of course, model this behavior. If we don't burn more calories than we take in, PRESTO!--we gain weight.
Thoughts? Rebuttals?

This McClatchy photo is of Tianna Gaines, 28, and her 3-year-old son, Marcus, Turner Jr. and her twins, Marques Turner and Marianna Turner, at their Philly home. Gaines eats junk food because its cheaper, and because healthful food is harder to get.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Guest blogger!

An occasional feature here at the Spin Cycle, our guest blogger for today is none other than Michael Owen (my husband).
(Actually, come to think of it, we have never had a guest blogger. First time for everything.)

Balancing quality and quantity
It was a Father’s Day devoted more to fatness than fitness.
We went to Atlanta Sunday to visit my father, who is 90 years old and a great-grandfather – two things I will never be if I keep eating the way I did that day.
After a nice visit, Allison suggested we stop by Whole Foods on the way out of town. There, we bought two ribeyes of Old Testament dimensions. These bad boys weighed more than a pound apiece and had more marble than the Louvre.
Back home, I fired up the grill and threw a couple of ears of Silver Queen on the top rack. When the temp got up well over 500 degrees, I tossed the steaks on the cast iron lower grate and seared the beejeebers out of them.
As they sizzled, crackled and caused periodic fat-dripping eruptions from the coals, I enjoyed my special recipe for water:
1.) Freeze water into cubes.
2.) Sautee cubes in bourbon.
It’s an old family recipe.

When the steaks were properly seared, I moved them to the top rack to finish cooking more slowly. This method allows me time to finish my water, and we all know the importance of proper hydration.
Then came a great ending to a great day.
After spending time with my dad, brother, his wife, my daughter and her two boys – four generations – I sat down to a huge steak and watched the exciting last round of the U.S. Open. Normally, the TV is shut down at meal time, but this was a special occasion.
So how does all this fit into a fitness blog?
Well, life is about quality as well as quantity. Sunday was one of those
once-in-a-while days devoted solely to the former. And, while it may reduce the latter a bit, I can live with that.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Traipsing around a grave

Last night, we went with some friends to an historic cemetery here to pay homage to one Miss Georgia Wilkins.
She gave the seed money (about $1 million slightly more than 50 years ago) to build our church. As this is our parish's Jubilee year, Michael just completed writing the church history after working on it about 18 months. Others of us were involved, and he had a great editor, but he did the heavy lifting.
Some of this was involved in last night's outing.
Here's to you, Miss Georgia.

P.S. Not real sure how this would fit into the health and fitness category. Will get back to you.

Ode to fathers

Fatherhood is pretending the present you love most is soap-on-a-rope.
~Bill Cosby

A very happy Father's Day today to all the great fathers out there, including my own.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Tim Russert, RIP

Friends, I'm sad, as perhaps you are, by the news of journalist Tim Russert's sudden death.
Here's the story.
Aside from his keen journalistic skills, I admired him equally for his apparent soft touch and for being a "regular" person. So often, you see people at the top of their respective professions walking around like gods--with great arrogance. Russert seemed to have his feet on the ground.
NBC's Brian Williams called him "aggressively unfancy." I like that.

Friday, June 13, 2008

A dream state

So just now I had a massage.
If you are in the Columbus area, may I recommend this place.
My mom gave me a gift card at Christmas and here we are in June ... But, better late than never.
What a dream. Yet, if you were to touch my arm or leg right now, you'd skid off. She put this oil on that makes me feel like a walking can of Pennzoil.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A butter bean sandwich?

Visiting with a friend today, the conversation turned to good veggies out of the garden. He then told me that he used to eat butter bean sandwiches as a kid. So of course I Googled it and here's what we got:
"Cook big speckled butter beans the night before. Mix them with chili sauce to make a paste. Place this between two pieces of white bread."
My grandmother and her sister-in-law, as I recall, ate tomato sandwiches in the summertime. But I'd never heard of the butter bean variety. You?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Verbs and the candidates

Now that we have the Presidential field narrowed to the requisite two, it's time for the onslaught of verbs.
Such as:
Obama challenges McCain on ...
McCain takes on Obama's ...
Obama fires back at ...
Obama says he'll fight for your .... ("fight" is a particularly popular word among politicos. They're fighting? For ME?)
McCain: Bring it on!

I say we have a contest. Between now and November, let's see how creative we can be in predicting verbs the candidates will use against the other, or verbs they use in addressing the public.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Foot in mouth disease

Don't know about you but I started my day insulting someone I'd just met.
It was at an early meeting (early for me: 7 a.m.), and I'd barely had coffee. Another man introduced me to this guy--both live in Savannah--and I said, "Oh, aren't you one of those guys who's retiring?" (A meeting yesterday contained announcements of some retiring clergy and apparently I got this guy's face confused with another one. Or maybe both were wearing bow ties.) Oops. The younger guy says he's about eight years from retirement, thanks very much.
Even after apologizing profusely, I still felt guilty, so I wrote a check after the breakfast for the organization he represented.
I've always fancied myself a morning person, given that I go to bed before most people I know. And yet my brain doesn't wake up for awhile in the mornings.
What about you, Internet? Are you morning people or night people? I think we have had this discussion before. But I have been awake for so long (or so it seems), I can't remember.
Stay cool.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

'Hot' Olympians?

This is slightly offensive to me. (OK, more than slightly.)
Apparently it's not enough to be an OLYMPIC ATHLETE; you have to be drop-dead gorgeous, too.
Eighty-eight made the list for this story.
Wonder what all the other ones are thinking? (Maybe: "I hope that everyone who knows of my athletic ability is blind"?)

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Big Brown booted

Big Brown, the heavy favorite to win today's Belmont Stakes and thus the Triple Crown, failed in his attempt.
Not sure yet what happened to him.
Click here for the Reuters report.
A 38-1 odds horse, Da'Tara, took the title. His jockey is Alan Garcia.
My next question: How do those jockeys stay so SMALL?

Photo by Reuters.

Baby, it's hot

It's about 100 degrees in the shade today. While I was (literally) chilling in Starbucks earlier, this couple came in and the guy said, to no one in particular, "Is it always this hot here?" And I said yes, and he said, "Why do people live here?" And I said, "Because of the winter."

Friday, June 6, 2008

Hydration calculation

On a lighter note (unless you are working outside today in our 95-degree heat), here are some factoids and a quiz about staying hydrated.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Can't think of anything else ...

Internet, I'm sad over a friend who has inoperable brain cancer. Tomorrow there's a big party for him and his family, at which nearly 100 people are expected. He was diagnosed two years ago this coming August. The prognosis has become more bleak in recent days, and my heart has simply hurt for this family, over and over. .... Then also today I was e-mailing with a new friend whose son was killed tragically in a freak drowning accident almost a year ago. He was a teen-ager, about to go off to college. His whole life ahead of him and all that.
She and I were discussing how difficult it is to accept the mystery of it all. She wrote: "I am a person who practices and values fairness and this is so unfair. I keep trying to reconcile it but yet realize there is no reconcilliation to be found."
On some level, she will never be able to reconcile it. Nor my friend, after her husband dies. (And of course if you want to get all philosophical about it, we're all in the process of dying; and none of us is promised another day.) Living with, and into, that mystery, will be lifelong--which is why I become agitated with folks who say stupid things like, "The reason so-and-so died is because ..." Our Western culture leans too much on the parts that can be reconciled and explained away. How could anyone possibly know why my friend, not even 50, will likely die this year of a brain tumor? How can my other friend "get over" the death of her younger son?
The poet Rainer Maria Rilke (in photo) once wrote:
"Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer." (From Letters to a Young Poet).

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

This airline is ready when you are

Did y'all see this?
It seems a passenger gave birth while on a Korean Airlines flight from the Philippines to the U.S. (Awkward.)
The baby was born about two months premature, but delivered successful by its father and a Korean doctor aboard. The baby remains in a New Jersey hospital.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Nap time!

We at the Spin Cycle love naps, and apparently so do our friends the Lowdogs. As you can see, they are keenly in love with naps.
Click here for their June 2 installment.
In Googling the word naps, one thing that popped up was the National Association of Postal Supervisors. Not exactly what we were looking for.
Click here to read about how naps are good for you.
(Though not a fan of mandatory naps in kindergarten--the kind on the red, white and blue mats--I grew to appreciate them more as I aged. Wish we could institute them at work. Pork Chop, what say you?)

Monday, June 2, 2008

Food on a desert island

Internet, if you were on a desert island, what food would you choose to have with you?
Mine? Pasta.
My husband said his would be pork tenderloin; and if long-term health were an issue, baked sweet potatoes.

Kennedy news

First of all, my husband told me some years ago he was disappointed not to be marrying one of the rich Kennedys. Haha.
Second, one of them — Sen. Ted Kennedy — had surgery today for his brain tumor at Duke University. One of the premiere brain tumor sites in the country, Duke is home to renowned surgeon Dr. Allen Friedman who did the surgery (in photo) and who is also guiding cancer treatment here for a good friend of ours.
For the Ted Kennedy story, click here.
To read more about the Duke facility, click here.
Hope everyone is off to a stellar Monday.