A health and fitness blog: With an occasional food item

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Zorba the great!

Because we here at the Spin Cycle love animals, we thought you'd enjoy a photo of Zorba. (The one on the right.) Weighing in at 343 pounds, Zorba is an Old English Mastiff and is apparently the world's largest dog. He stands 37 inches at the withers (does anyone know what withers are?), and from nose to tail measures 8 feet and 3 inches.
Several questions:
How does he play fetch? Or can he?
How much does he eat?
As my husband said, "Dattsa lotta dog!"

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Awaiting word

It's a strange place to be, waiting for news of someone's death. But here I sit, checking the computer compulsively about our friend L. He could die at any time and may have already; I just don't know. I do know that his wife and children are very special people, and I've no doubt they are sending him on his way in good fashion. Perhaps they are singing to him, or reading. I hope the dogs are licking his hands or feet.
L. survived more than a week (and counting) from the docs' prognosis. Three weeks ago, they said he had two weeks. But I chalk that up, in part, to our patient's good health outside of his brain tumor, and his fighting will.
As somewhat of an outsider (though L's wife is my cousin), it's been sort of a daily puzzle of what to do, what to say. When I feel powerless, as I do now, I ask myself what I can do; and that has meant pretty constant phone calls, e-mails and cards. Mainly I tell them of my love and care and prayers. The last I went out to the house was about a week and a half ago. After that, I'd have felt like a voyeur.
L's children are two girls, ages 7 and 12. My heart breaks for them especially. They are beautiful and smart and winsome. They are able to ask the "Why?" questions many of us adults would ask out loud, if (speaking only for myself) we weren't so concerned others would deem us weak in faith.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Easy fish recipe

If you like fresh fish, as we do, you might want to try this easy recipe. We prefer tilapia with it, but you could do catfish or salmon — whatever you prefer.

Fish with crumbs
2 lb. fish fillets
1 c. milk
1 Tbsp. salt
1 c. bread crumbs
4 Tbsp. butter or margarine

Add salt to milk and soak fish for 30 min. (soak either whole or in pieces)
Roll fillets in bread crumbs and place in well-buttered baking dish.
Pour melted butter atop fillets
Place pan on rack near top of 500 degree oven
Bake 10-12 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork and top is browned.
Serves 4.


— The Junior League of Columbus (Ga.) cookbook

Monday, July 28, 2008

Stolen goods

Just lifted this joke from another blog. Thought you'd appreciate it:

Bear walks into a bar, orders "bourbon and ........... Coke."
Bartender: What's with the big pause?
Bear: I've had them all my life.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Not shy, but retiring

Last night we officially sent off three colleagues into retirement sunset: Kaffie Sledge, Mick Walsh and Jerry Gibson. It was out at Gibson's place in Alabama. If you haven't been, invite yourself.
The dog photo was taken because the canine was wearing pearls.
Another retiree pictured here (with photographer Robin Trimarchi) is Jimmy Mann, who was in our I.T. department but got an invite along with his wife Ann. Another photo is Chuck and Mike, not retired yet from the newsroom.
Not that you necessarily know these people but I have a compulsion to I.D. all my photos.
The Grill Masters were Mr. Owen and Dimon Kendrick-Holmes, another of our editors. They rented the massive grill and stayed out most of Saturday doing their artwork. On Friday night, they and I and Bess — D's wife — and our friend Jenny did some massive prep work. Including getting the veggies on the skewers and mixing copious amounts of alcohol with fruit and juices for the sangria.

It was a swell party, with about 65 people and 12 racks of ribs.
Toward the end of the evening, Mick was spinning tales of his long-ago movie "career" in a B-grade film (who knew?) about cock-fighting.
Hearty congrats to Jerry and Kaffie and Mick. Enjoy whatever it is you do in retirement.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Ain't technology great?

Just called some friends to say we're running late for their dinner party. I misdialed the first three digits then called again and told our friends' daughter to let them know we're on the way. Few seconds later, my phone rang.
Woman: "You call me?"
Me: "What? Oh, sorry, I dialed the wrong number."
Woman: "I'm in California, on vacation."
Me: "I'm in Georgia and I'm not. ... Have a great time!"

Ghost in the machine

Regular readers of this blog will know my car is inhabited by a ghost. But don’t take my word for it; my mechanic said so Thursday. It’s back over there today, where they are replacing a part that didn’t work yesterday. The necessary part regulates the needle on my speedometer. (Kind of a necessary tool. Cop would say to me: “Miss, do you know how fast you were going?” “No, sir, I don’t.”)
So they’re fixing that, which was $88.
And also the gauge that shows the internal engine temp. Not working either.
Before vacation, the Ghost got a new transmission. Actually it was used but didn’t have many miles on it so that was about $900. There was also the little matter of an A.C. ring. 60 bucks.
Sometime before that: New clutch. About $400.
Driving around on vacation in early July, Michael noticed a dragging noise when he turned the wheel hard. Turns out, it was the plastic covering that runs under the car. Eventually, it dropped down so far we had to pull over in Gwinnett County, borrow some scissors at a convenience store and cut that sucker out. One side of it wouldn’t pull out, so we got some bungee cords to tie that off.
When I got back to town, the Honda people told me it’s just to keep the car aerodynamic and not really necessary. Whew. Dodged a bullet.
Cue “Dracula” music.
This past Monday, on what was to be a “routine” oil change and tire rotation/balance at another place, the guy called back and said my CV joints were bleeding oil. Apparently, that's something that doesn’t need to continue. Another $400, with the rotations, balance, etc.
The voice in my head began to scream, "Sell the sucker! Call the priest and have an exorcism!"
Then I think, I’ve spent all this money, I want to get something out of it; plus a car payment right now would not be exactly rank up there with my wedding day. (Although a reliable car would be nice.)
Thoughts? Anyone up for an exorcism?

P.S. To top off this stellar week, I just bumped into a preacher friend from across the river in our lobby. Looking me up and down he said, "You're bigger than you used to be. ... You're a BIG girl now." I said, "That wasn't very nice!" and changed the subject, but I wanted to say, "Preacher, meet me in Spin class and see what happens."

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Doggie Prozac?

Did you see this piece in the New York Times Magazine about the trend of pet drug therapy?
The trend obviously plays to those who will do anything — ANYTHING — to keep their pets happy. Or at least better-mannered.
Meanwhile I'm trying to pay for $4/gallon gasoline. Bisquick's Crazy will just have to wait.

P.S. Murphy's Law: After you buy a new pair of (pricey) Spin shoes, your old ones show up. Mine did. Saw them sitting on a shelf in the gym locker room yesterday. Arrgh.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Laughing to keep from crying

Marital health and TVs

Got this idea from a friend's blog. She recently posted about the TV-watching habits in her house: Her man watches and works the remote while she reads or works on the computer. It is exactly the same in our house. What about yours?
I used to be more of a TV junkie than I am now. There used to be shows I had to watch; now I can't name one. Most nights after dinner, Michael goes out to his workshop while I'm in the house reading or cleaning up. Then he comes in and might watch a ball game while we play toss with Bisquick (who is quite the talent.)
Other couples report fighting over things to watch on television. Life's too short. Buy another TV.

Monday, July 21, 2008

A shout-out for a salad

How exciting can a salad be, really?
I'll tell you. Just had one for lunch at this place. If you like fresh spinach, you'll love this. It had pears in it (that had a roasted flavor); pecan pieces; and bleu cheese crumbles. All mixed with a vinaigrette dressing that wasn't too overpowering. Yum.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Spinning in new shoes

Out of necessity, I had to buy some new Spin shoes last week.
Feast your eyes.
The others were just fine and got me through 2.5 years of indoor spinning; but ... they disappeared. Couldn't find them in the house, car or gym. I figure they're on eBay by now.
Hated to spend the money, but my Wrench at this place cut $25 off the price. Sweet.
Hope everyone has had a stellar weekend.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Good news

My dad's "bibopsy" turned out negative for cancer. We are very thankful. It's some kind of glandular/thyroid thing.
Also, while visiting with the wife of our dying friend L. on Thursday, she was telling me how he doesn't like to be without his BlackBerry — even as he's bedridden and very, very sick. Sure enough, I went back to their room to see L., and he had it right next to him. He calls it his CrackBerry. It's wonderful to see his humor intact.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Dog friends!

Saw two of our canine friends (and their owner and her family) last night in Pine Mountain Valley.
The dogs are Grace (brown one) and Kim, the German shepherd. Michael and I dispute what's the best "brand" of dog. I say labs/golden retrievers. He's partial to the shepherds. So we will probably never get a dog. (Plus, Bisquick is the Alpha Animal in our house.)
Kim, incidentally, is named for Rudyard Kipling's "Kim."
What's your vote on dog brands? (Lowdogs, wanna weigh in?)

P.S. Heard from some Arkansas friends who just got a new lab mix. His name is Bishop William Montgomery Brown. Bravo!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The 'bibopsy'

This is another of my fave movie scenes. It's from "My Big Fat Greek Wedding." Aunt Voula (Andrea Martin) is shown here talking about a surgery to remove a lump in her neck. Inside the mass: her twin.
Not to poke fun but my dad also had a "bibopsy" on something on his neck. It was yesterday, and we should know something in a few days.
Gallows humor, as they say.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


I keep thinking about those kids in Connecticut who just want to play wiffle ball, and be kids. (See July 13).
They come to mind partly because it's the time of year that should be about carefree play and imagination and fewer rules and less structure. Less than a mile from where I sit, there used to be some thick woods where my brother and our friends and I played and made forts and went exploring. (Paradise has since been paved over.)
The forts were little more than clearings under bushes, I recall, but they could have been castles. It's where we plotted to take over the world (figuratively speaking) and where we escaped from the rules of the house.
Not far from our territory, my mother was taking a walk one day and came upon a dead body. But that's a story for another time.

Monday, July 14, 2008

World's oldest blogger!

Sad. She died.
Olive Riley of Australia was 108. A blogger since early last year, Riley died peacefully in her sleep on Saturday. She posted her last entry two weeks ago. Riley's blog site was worldsoldestblogger.blogspot.com.
Read the full AP story here.
Do you think there are blogs in heaven? I'm counting on it. But I'm also hoping you don't have a bunch of passwords to remember.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Teens 1, Plaintiffs 0

Interesting story by Peter Applebome from the Times. It's from this past Thursday.
It seems a few teens in Greenwich, Conn., got a hankering to play wiffle ball in a vacant lot. So they went to some trouble to dress the thing up and do it right, complete with outfield green fence.
The lot happens to be surrounded by ritzy homes. (You see where this is going: Lawyers.) Some complain that they're too loud.
Knowing just what I know from the article, and being neither a teen nor a lawyer (but I was a teen once), I side with the teens. It seems there's some way they can work this out, without the adults feeling threatened and without the teens resorting to indoors/video game status. Let the kids be kids, I say.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Saturday: On the bookshelf

If you are a member of the Books-A-Million discount thing, you can--right now--get this book for 40 percent off. What a steal. Can't wait to read it.
David Sedaris is one of the funniest writers around. He also wrote "Me Talk Pretty One Day," "Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim" and "The Book of Liz," among other things.
I love how he says in this Time interview that he is puzzled by the Internet. Not by its vast capabilities, mind you, but that it exists, what it is exactly and that he has never been on it. He said he'd rather curl up on the sofa and read a magazine (which I'm sure the people at Time love to hear).
Which also reminds me of our friend B., who, when you mention this Web site or that, will look at you blankly as if you had just said a word in a foreign language. It's kinda refreshing, actually.

Friday, July 11, 2008

The A.T.

Here's a neat little video diary of one of my long-time loves, the Appalachian Trail.
Not sure who these people are, but the scenery is sure inspiring.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Thursday topic: Sauna suits

Saw this guy jogging around the park today, wearing one of these (see photo). And from time to time, I'll see other people at the gym wearing them. They look like garbage bags.
Does anyone out there want to weigh in? (so to speak.)
Cursory research finds that some people (mostly those who are trying to sell them) say, "They work!" Others say you lose mainly water weight because you're sweating more--and will just replace the weight as you re-hydrate.
I've never used one, and probably never will, because I like my garbage bags in a can.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

What's the first to go?

"I think real desperation will be apparent when Americans start systemically forgoing air conditioning in the summer."
-- Letter to Salon.com

What are you forgoing during this non-recession/slump/recession/Depression (depending on which politico has the microphone)? The typical answer is lattes at Starbucks and I must say, those people have a point. These days a new local Starbucks is the place I go to catch up on reading. When I was there for about two hours last Saturday, hardly anyone came in. Maybe five people. (For the record, my poor self wasn't drinking expensive espresso. Just water.) Meanwhile, the two employees were as cheerful as ever, conversing between themselves.
So if we use Starbucks as a metaphor for the service industry as a whole, what else goes? I'd guess tanning beds — but then I think of all the people in my gym who use them incessantly and I think, "Nah." Restaurants? Maybe. Depends on which one.
Maid service, for sure.
What do you think? How have you saved in this $4-gallon-gas economy?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

This and that

Michael came up for another name for the post-vacation condition: Holi-daze.
Love it.
Here is someone you should read if you haven't already: Ann Patchett.
Last night I was re-reading her latest book, "What Now?" which is short in length but long in wisdom.
Being that we just passed through graduation season, it's an essay based on a graduation speech at Sarah Lawrence College, her alma mater.
Here's a great sentiment: "Even if you have it all together you can't know where you're going to end up. There are too many forces, as deep and individual as tides, that keep us bouncing into places where we'd never thought we'd end up. Sometimes the best we can hope for is to be graceful and brave in the face of all the changes that will surely come. It also helps to have a sense of humor about your own fate, to not think that you alone are blessed when good fortune comes your way, or cursed when it passes you by."
Some years ago, I discovered Patchett's book, "Truth and Beauty." It's a tragic--and at times funny--account of her long friendship with fellow writer Lucy Grealey. Grealey was a writer like Patchett but ... had more problems. I won't say anymore in case you want to read it.
If you do, let me know what you think.

Photo credit: John Dolan

The name fits

Congrats to my friend and cousin, L., who came up with the word "Mountain Haze" to describe my post-vacation spaciness.
It fits.

Monday, July 7, 2008


Dear Internet, please tell me if you know of a word (or make up one) that means: can't concentrate on much of anything because just came back from vacation. On Saturday, I took a couple of wrong turns going someplace, and did so again today.
What would it be? Vacation-itus?

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Random thoughts from vacation

When one is on vacation, one expects things to go well — because that's not generally how things go at home — that's not completely accurate, of course, but we tend to want things to go smoothly when we're away because we're resting and have little to think about except where to eat the next meal. At home, things like bills and work (and Bisquick!) nag at us.
Things were not going well, apparently, for a fellow we saw Tuesday night in front of a laundromat (see irate letter).
The laundry is next door to a high-end grocery and deli. When we were getting back into our car, he stepped quickly out of his and taped this notice on the inside of the laundromat window: "This business is a disgrace! None of the dryers work and only four washers work. The place is filthy and the owners should be embarrassed. Do not use this facility!"
Not sure how long it stayed up. Mostly, I sympathize with the store owner. I don't own a store, but I thought this sentiment was a bit over the top. Don't like the appearance of the laundromat? Lose a sock? Roll with it.
We saw a fair amount of bikes in the mountains. (We were in western North Carolina.) By that I mean motorcycles. My husband dreams of owning one. But "dreams" might be mild--"selling his wife to get a Harley" might be closer to the sentiment.
The weather was fantastic. A bit of rain the first day but it usually rains in the mountains, late in the day, when the heat builds. We wrapped up in blankets at night, which is amazing since it's July.
One night, we went to the Wine Garden at an inn where we could never afford to stay — unless we hit the right six numbers. When we first went to the Wine Garden two summers ago, you should have SEEN the amount of wine in the glasses. It's like they thought they were pouring orange juice. I couldn't finish it. But when we went this time, the amount was far less, and the same price. After taking in the wine (and great people-watching), we went to eat a pizza which was about the same price as one of the glasses of wine. Not that we didn't know this going in.
One day I hiked up Whiteside Mountain. Went up the quick, steeper way. There's a loop road but it takes longer. Lots of people out. Lots of children and dogs. Some were speaking French. (the children, not the dogs.) All polite. Some teen-agers practically jogged up the trail, which made me feel old.
More food news: Have you ever been to a place called Sweet Treats? If you haven't, go. It's not cheap, either, but the ice cream is to die for. (And we just might, soon.) They also sell fudge. With the ice cream, they start with a base of either vanilla or chocolate (ice cream or yogurt), then you specify your ingredients from there. Such as mint chocolate chip or pineapple. Everything's blended together.
Sweet Treats, as well as the sandwich and pastry shop connected to it, has WiFi access. It was interesting to see the contrast between this summer and two years ago, in the increased number of people all wired up. We saw a mother and father sitting at an outdoor patio table, both on a Blackberry while their child sat with them, licking her ice cream cone in silence.
Then again we have seen 6-year-olds walking down the street talking on cell phones.
I assume most of these wired adults are on vacation, like we are. Are they leaders of countries, or can they just not let go of being connected, even on their time off?
Speaking of time, Michael's watch quit working the second day. Two jewelers in town couldn't fix it. (At one, her "new" battery was dead. At the other, her battery was working but she said, "Oops, time for a new watch.") So he drove to another town in the opposite direction. We thought he could find a cheap-ish replacement at a drug store but he went to a downtown jeweler. The guy said he had a Buloba but it was about 100 dollars. Michael said he'd rather pay less than that, and less than the $65 he was then offered. Michael told the proprietor he was just trying to avoid Wal-Mart. So the guy sold him a $100 Buloba for $30, and said he appreciated him staying away from Wal-Mart. God bless 'em.
Also, the cabin where we stayed doesn't have a television. This is something I was very much looking forward to. (I mean, what were we going to do, sit inside and watch TV all day?) Michael is more of a TV junkie than I am; but as he said after a few days, "I know you'll think I'm lying but I haven't missed it."
Another day, we met up with old friends in Asheville. (By that I don't mean they're old but they used to live in our city.) Wonderful people and I was reminded how much I miss them back home. We also had to go to Malaprops. If you haven't been, go. Go now. It's one of the gen-u-ine indie bookstores, and you practically have to have a Ph.D. to work there. They really know their stuff. It's in a real Bohemian part of town — people playing music on the streets, an area with pretty radical politics and a park where homeless people congregate and/or live.
We then drove up on the Blue Ridge Parkway and made another stop at a favorite spot: The Folk Art Center. Artisans from all over the region sell their wares there (pottery, wood, some clothing), and the upstairs serves as a museum for Appalachian craftsmanship. Back to the subject of Wal-Mart: I am so thankful for places like the Folk Art Center, because they remind me that not everything in our country has to be made in China, and sold back to us very cheaply. ("Unnecessary plastic objects," as the singer Nancy Griffith says.)
We also saw this cute black dog named Eddie, who had to be watched by a ranger outside while his owners went in.
Michael and I ate our last big meal at this place on U.S. 64. Wow. Too much food and too much money but, hey, it's vacation.
In summary: A great week with great food and further exploration in this region that always restores and refreshes.
Good for the soul.
Now. Back to spin class.