A health and fitness blog: With an occasional food item

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Running away from home

I'm running away from home for a few days. Going to the hills, of course.
Hope everyone on "the Internets" has a great week.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

"There is Always Something to be Thanful For"

By the Very Rev. Sam Candler, dean of the Cathedral of St. Philip, Atlanta.
This is pretty funny.

When we are asked to think of memorable Thanksgiving dinners, I know we are supposed to recall huge tables of turkey and dressing, laughing kinfolk, general merriment and good cheer all around. When pressed, we can probably remember the ones we are actually trying to forget, too - the ones when the food was awful, the tempers turned bad, and when we finally gave up.
But I actually remember another dinner, one that occurred just after I was ordained a priest in the church. It was not a Thanksgiving dinner at all, but it sure felt like one. It is my most memorable Thanksgiving dinner because it is the one dinner I will forever be thankful is over!
I was a young priest, around 27 years old, I suppose; and my lovely wife was thankfully younger. Both of us had been raised to be ever so polite, and so we made a great impression on the Episcopal parish to which I had been assigned. Parishes still love young couples, especially polite ones, and especially when one part of the couple is the Assistant Rector.
We were invited everywhere for dinners, and we courageously sallied forth, rarely knowing who our hosts would be, what kind of setting it would be, or who else would be there. The agenda was simply, "Let's get to know the young priest and his wife." Lovely. It's still at the heart of parish ministry.
We were asked to be at this dinner early, for the hosts were early diners. No, 4:30 pm is not too early for us. We immediately noticed that the average age of the five other couples there was a number too high for me to count. We could have been their great grand-children.
The other guests and our hosts were even more polite than my wife and me. They asked if we wanted something to drink, and I eagerly accepted. I thought that, if 4:30 was too early for a cocktail, maybe a small glass of wine would be nice. They didn't offer me a choice. We got prune juice. Actually, I had never had it before, and it wasn't bad.
Our hostess talked incessantly, and with an unfortunate tone that reminded me of a hen being chased around the chicken coop. Like many a Southern hostess I have known, she rarely sat down, thinking that she had to be constantly moving in order to be gracious (not true!). Actually, the house was quite small, and she liked yelling to us-or talking to herself-even when she was in the kitchen right beside us. I have politely forgotten what we had to eat before dinner. I remember the conversation revolved around coin collections.
Suddenly, we heard the voice of our hostess rise to an even more elevated pitch. Something bright in the kitchen caught my eye. Yes, something was definitely on fire. She had been preparing hundreds of special dishes for us - well, at least 15-several with wicker containers for the glass casseroles. Her small kitchen had run out of space, her wicker containers were on the stove, and one of them was ablaze.
As the young and agile priest, I dashed into the kitchen in order to save the day. After more squawking and maneuvering in the tight space, we got the fire out. The kitchen was smoky, but most of the food was already prepared without having been burned.
Here beginneth the procession - the long procession around the sideboard (actually two sideboards) laden with delicious Southern goodies. At this point, I must admit that I am not a fan of many Southern goodies. I actually do not like pickles, and at least half the dishes were pickled something or another. The second chapter of every Southern meal always begins, "Have a little more of this, have a little more of that." I was desperately trying to find something without pickles.
We passed the largest silver casserole around the table while we were sitting, all twelve of us around a table meant for about six. Actually, this silver casserole frame was designed to hold a wicker container and then the glass inside dish; and it didn't quite fit right. In fact, its original wicker holder had burned up. But our hostess pressed forward, even if the glass dish was rattling inside the large silver frame; there was no more wicker basket to hold the glass dish.
I had neglected to notice that I should grasp both the silver frame and the ill-fitting glass casserole dish, at the same time, when it came around. So, when I politely took only the outside silver frame instead, the entire glass inside fell through the frame and smashed my plate to pieces. I was horrified, and I immediately pushed my chair back and stood up to prevent further damage. As I did so, my chair hit the crowded sideboard behind me. Another crash resulted; every plate and dish standing so handsomely on its shelves fell flat - or fell completely off.
Much more squawking and cackling ensued. I was trying to be helpful, but I was rather wedged in between a sideboard, three chairs, a table, and much broken china. It was not a pretty sight for the new young Episcopal priest. Of course, when the clutter and clatter had subsided, we still had to actually partake of the dinner.
And now, for some reason or another, the house had run out of china plates. I will just use a paper plate, I insisted; that would be safer. The hostess would hear nothing of it. I had to eat on her china, or what was left of it. So I used a small dessert plate. Now I had to arrange 15 different items on a four-inch plate. Lovely.
I remember little of what else occurred at that meal (though my wife probably does). Actually, we might have had a bit of sherry at dessert. If so, it was not enough to forget the grand dinner, full of frantic fire and crashing chinaware. I will never forget it. And I will never be so thankful for a meal to be over than I was for that one to be over.
So, enjoy your meals this Thanksgiving, from the smallest meals to the grandest, no matter what age the guests are, no matter what people sound like, no matter how many pickled things are served, no matter what burns up, no matter what comes crashing down on you, no matter what you have to eat on, no matter how clumsy the local minister is. No matter. The idea is to give thanks. Give thanks. There is always, always, always, something to be thankful for - even if you are giving thanks that it is over!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Holiday good mood foods

At work, we joke that what really gets people depressed around the holidays is the saturation of stories in the paper about holiday depression.
That said, here's a good piece from Web MD about keeping your mood up by eating the "right" foods. It's good food for thought (so to speak) anytime of year--but especially now, when we're prone to binge.
Some ideas? Whole grain cereal with milk. Spinach with chicken.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Rest in peace, Joe

I'll mostly remember his infectious smile and laugh. And his bear hugs. And how he used to dress up like Santa Claus for the Christmas parties for children at his church. Joe had a gift of hospitality, too. He never met a stranger. He seemed to treat people from all walks of life equally: young and old, rich or poor, white or black.
I'm veering off a bit from my normal (blog) topic of health and fitness. The Rev. Joe Roberson, formerly of Columbus, died in a car accident last evening in a rural part of Georgia, not far from Savannah. For 15 years he was the pastor of South Columbus United Methodist Church and had also recently served a term on the school board.
Last June, he got a promotion. He was the District Superintendent in Statesboro.
His death is still news I can't comprehend.
The service at his old church this morning was equal parts "praise" and sadness. Ushers passed around Kleenex boxes. There were many tears, because he was much-beloved. But at times, people also laughed and clapped during music. The new pastor, the Rev. Denise Walton, one of many people Joe mentored, got very little sleep last night. Joe's widow Beverly still lives in town, because of her work; and Denise was fortunately able to get to Beverly before anyone else could. Denise stayed with Beverly until the last of the three children got in, about 3 a.m. today.
It's cliche, but true: Joe was one of the good ones. He fought for people and he loved with his whole heart. The earth lost a good soul. Rest in peace, pastor.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Plato: On aging

Old age: A great sense of calm and freedom. When the passions have relaxed their hold, you may have escaped, not from one master but from many.
- Plato

(Here's hoping I still have some passion, though.)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Let the birthday commence

Me and Al Breeze, a singer/keyboardist who plays downtown in front of my favorite hangout, Brother's General Store.
(The birthday is Saturday. Send gifts early, and often.)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Field guide to the loner: The real insiders

Psychology Today has this interesting article about people who get re-charged by spending most of their time alone. As I get older, I appreciate this more, but overall remain an extrovert--that is, I derive energy from being around other people.
What about you?
There are always extremes, of course. People who never venture out because of various fears and phobias, as well as those who HAVE to be at a party all the time to be satisfied.
It reminds me of a conversation I had many years ago with a Catholic priest. I forget the context but he said: "I'm not shy; I'm private." I get it.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Mammograms: New study

The AP is reporting on a medical panel that says mammograms are done too early. That women shouldn't get them until they're 50 (or before, of course, if you're high-risk). Darn the luck. Last year I turned 40 and this Saturday the big 4-1; and I have Mammogram No. 2 scheduled for December. No one in my family has had breast cancer. The panel said the risk of cancer was too small to start testing most women in their 40s. (And I'd just as soon not get squashed again anytime soon, I'm just sayin.') Then again, I've known women younger than me who have had cancer, and the mammogram was helpful.
So confusing.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Life in the not-so-fast lane

This recent story from the Times highlights tension between two groups of people who run marathons: Those who run them--who actually run and/or race most of the 26 miles, and those who slow it down but eventually finish. (Say, run a mile, walk a mile.) Problem is, with more and more people "doing marathons," race directors have to keep upping the finish times. The story reports that about 20 percent of last year's NY Marathon finished in over 5 hours. The purists say if you do a marathon, you need to do most of it running. The slower bunch say at least they're not sitting on the couch.
What say you?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Zelosport aims for 10,000 games for soldiers

Here's a story I did for today's paper. It's a fun group of games, and for a good cause. Think sophisticated version of paper football.
Author Jill Conner Browne (mentioned in the story) is plugging the charity drive and humorously said: "Give your whole family the finger for Christmas." Awesome.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Maya Angelou speaks to women

A friend just sent me this.
Love it.

"A woman should have"
enough money within her control to move out
and rent a place of her own,
even if she never wants to or needs to...
something perfect to wear if the employer,
or date of her dreams wants to see her in an hour ...
a youth she's content to leave behind ...
a past juicy enough that she's looking forward to
retelling it in her old age....
a set of screwdrivers, a cordless drill, and a black lace bra...
one friend who always makes her laugh... and one who lets her cry....
a good piece of furniture not previously owned by anyone else in her family...
eight matching plates, wine glasses with stems,
and a recipe for a meal,
that will make her guests feel honored ...
a feeling of control over her destiny...
how to fall in love without losing herself ...
how to quit a job,
break up with a lover,
and confront a friend without;
ruining the friendship ...
when to try harder... and WHEN TO WALK AWAY ...
that she can't change the length of her calves,
the width of her hips, or the nature of her parents..
that her childhood may not have been perfect .... but it's over....
what she would and wouldn't do for love or more ....
how to live alone.... even if she doesn't like it ...
whom she can trust,
whom she can't,
and why she shouldn't take it personally ...
where to go ...
be it to her best friend's kitchen table..
or a charming Inn in the woods ...
when her soul needs soothing ....
What she can and can't accomplish in a day...
a month ... and a year...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Annika Sorenstam: Not the R word

Annika Sorenstam, hesitating to use the R word (retirement), is nonetheless away from the full-time grind of the LPGA. She's a full-time mom and wife. This is a fun update article about the golf great.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Keillor: The just and the unjust

Garrison Keillor's recent column in Salon.
Some days you're the windshield wiper, some days you're the bug--as Nancy Griffith sings about.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The gift of today

Thanks to my friend John for pointing me to this ee cummings poem. And for visiting today.

i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday; this is the birth
day of life and love and wings; and of the gay
great happening limitably earth)
how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any - lifted from the no
of all nothing - human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?
(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

Friday, November 6, 2009

"I'm going to a place called Macon?"

Just now I was reading TrailJournals.com and I thought of an encounter in north Georgia with a hiker from Germany. This would have been 1990 or '91, when I lived in Macon. Before I (sort of) quit hiking in the woods by myself, I used to take off for the A.T. in Georgia or North Carolina. So one day I was at a trail crossing in north Georgia and this scraggly guy came off the trail. We exchanged pleasantries and the guy said he'd been hiking south from New Jersey. I asked him where he was headed when he was finished (in a few days' time) and he said, "I'm going to a place called Macon?" with that lilt in the voice, when the person isn't sure how to say a word.
So I said: "I live in Macon!
He asked me for my number. I was kind of leery, of course, so I wrote down a number that was one digit off my real number.
Well a few months went by, and I forgot about it. One day I was driving back to my apartment, glanced in my rearview mirror and saw THE VERY SAME GUY walking down the road. I knew this because he was waving frantically. (He recognized my car.) I kept going, not about to stop. Turns out, he had moved into the SAME EXACT apartment complex where I was living; and he did wave me down outside one day. He then said, "I kept trying to call you but the number was wrong."
So see, friends, if you lie (even if it might be for a good reason, like protecting yourself from a suspected pervert), the person from another country who hikes hundreds of miles and then moves to your own city will track you down. Happens all the time.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Texas shooter was Army doc

And a psychiatrist, at that. At first blush, I was shocked at the news. Shouldn't mental health professionals have it all together, um, mentally? But then I realized how insidious and widespread mental illness can be.
Prayers go out for all the victims, their families and Fort Hood community.
Update: News reports now say the shooter was wounded, but not killed.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

When doctors double as cancer patients

The Times did a series on cancer, and one of the stories featured docs (and nurses) who were treated or have been treated for cancer. Some returned to practice. It's about how their perspective changed. I like how the one guy said his questions became altered. Instead of, Are you eating? and expecting a certain response, he knew what the answers meant/felt like. He knew that "eating soup," while not a full meal for most people, was the best the patient could muster.
You sure don't wish cancer on anyone, but I can't imagine how that experience couldn't help but change the people who deal with it so personally.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Introducing Leonard Cohen

I started the morning, at work, reading the blog of a friend in Atlanta.
Through something my friend quoted, I did some research on the quotee: Leonard Cohen.
Ever heard of him? I hadn't, until today.
Of particular note was this line from Cohen's work "Anthem": "Ring the bells that still can ring, forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in."
To read Dean Sam Candler's entire piece, go here.
(The one dated Nov. 3)
And here's Cohen's bio.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The road less traveled

Why does a week of vacation go by faster than a week of work?
This is one of Life's Big Puzzles.
Nonetheless, I'm grateful to have gotten away for a few days, into the mountains and the woods and among good friends.
Hope all is well with you, Internet.