Monday, June 01, 2009
There is something so lovely about having tea with a friend.
Sometimes it's iced tea on my shaded deck, made cozy by coral honeysuckle and crossvines growing in the trellis. The tea is spiced with my own spearmint leaves, grown right there on the deck.
Now and then, it's a cup of Earl Gray with a smidgen of cream and a lump of sugar at my bistro table in the bay window of my kitchen. More crossvine and honeysuckle grows outside that window, just allowing a peek at the tiny hummers who come to dip their unique beaks into the depths of the flowers.
Laughs bubble up there, over tea, and confidences are exchanged. A tear or two may be shed. Fun is planned and shared. Often there is a cat in the window and a cookie on the plate, but the attraction of tea time is friendship.
I have a collection of tea cups. Not one of them match. There is no "set". There are as individual and as different as my friends. Like them, the cups and saucers were chosen for the "feel" of them, the emotion they inspire, and the mood I'm in at the moment. It's a joy to match the cup/saucer to the friend, her mood, our state of mind and the "energy" of the visit.
I'd love for YOU to join me!
Saturday, May 30, 2009
The cottage sits high on a hill overlooking the backwaters of Stillhouse Hollow Lake. It's walls are made of the rocks that clutter the hills and fields of Central Texas. It's red tile roof is a reminder of the not too distant past, when another country laid claim to the vastness of the Lone Star State. The cedar trees, which when left to their own devices claim every inch of soil, give a unique freshness to the breeze which sweeps off the water and is passed along from branch to branch, tree to tree, until it blossoms into a swift current of wind which keeps the paneled rooms and tile floors of the small house cool and inviting, even in the Texas summertime.
Since people disdain whatever they have in most abundance, all but the largest cedar have been cleared from around the house, and chinaberry planted in its place for shade, and perhaps for the music of its rustling boughs, for cedar having no proper leaves, only creaks in the wind. The result is cool, constant shade, which crowds the veranda across the front of the house and the unshuttered windows all around.
From the picture window near the fireplace, you can gaze down the hillside, which drops a hundred feet in half a mile, and watch the colored specks that are boats, drifting back and forth across the water, occasionally disappearing into one of the many sloughs that spread like roots, anchoring the lake to the land.
Between the house at the top and the lake at the bottom, there is a small, flat clearing, carved like a step in the side of the hill. A tiny spring gurgles up through the rock and nurtures a small pond that glistens there like a mirror, giving back to the sky, the sun, the moon and the stars, an image of their own beauty.
In the field around the tank, which is Texan for "pond", coastal sprigs have taken root and cover the ground thickly, swaying gracefully in the wind, providing cover for native quail, turkey and rabbits.
The deer bring their fawns to the tank in the evening, to drink the soft, warm water, and make a snug bed in the long grass. During the night raccoons, too, come to drink, and to feel the soft mud with their inquisitive feet, again and again.
From the top of the tank dam the eye sweeps over the trees below, which cling in a tangle of knotted roots to the falling hillside, and stop at the face of a sheer cliff of white caliche, brilliant and blinding in the Texas sun. The cliff is parted from the hillside by a narrow slough that soon loses itself in the woods. In the bright, hot rock, are pockets of cooler shade, carved by wind, rain, and sometimes the swollen waters of the lake. Here, in one of these miniature caves, a great horned owl comes every year to raise her young. The soft white down of the chicks gives the appearance of furry stuffed toys with two large round dark buttons for eyes. The owls, large and small, are still and unblinking as fishermen drift below them, casting for bass. In the dark of the night the owl sweeps up the hillside and watches over the yard in front of the house, helping herself to a mouse or a rabbit, being part of natureís balance of all creatures great and small.
I sleep in the house, knowing I, too, belong to the hillside.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
"After breakfast, work a while.
After lunch rest a while.
After dinner walk a mile."
From the wisdom of Edgar Cayce.
I'm looking forward to my massage this afternoon. If you've never had a massage, give yourself a treat! I prefer deep tissue massage therapy, as opposed to Swedish massage, because it's deeper, stronger, really gets into my muscles.
Sometimes I'm sore the next day, but overall it keeps my muscles free of knots that cause spasms and other problems. A good massage therapist will find "hot spots" in your muscles you don't even know exist - yet. Tones and loosens tight muscles and tension.
Plus, you get slathered all over with wonderful scented massage oil!
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
I lost about 20 pounds before I found Sparks. Here are some of the things Iíve learned about losing weight:
We are all here to feel better about ourselves.
This happens when we are healthier and not overweight. These things just go together and one promotes the other. Sharing this journey with others inspires and motivates us and reminds us we arenít the only ones struggling.
Make one or two small changes first.
Start with what you consider your biggest problem, your most obvious weakness. Change that one thing for two weeks. Example - No Sweets; More Veggies; or Add Exercise.
Once you have felt the thrill of victory over that weakness - add more challenges.
Here is how it worked for ME.
I stopped eating sweets for two weeks. The first week was really hard. Second week I didnít think about it too much. By the third week I had forgotten about sweets. I made sure there were none in my house to tempt me.
Then I had lunch with some really thin friends. We were in a cafeteria setting where you choose each food. I ate what I felt was reasonable for someone trying to lose weight but when we sat down together, each of them had about 1/3 of the food I had chosen! That opened my eyes to portions.
I started really watching every bite I took, really logging in my journal.
Once I reduced the portion size, I began looking for ways to continue to eat, satisfy my ďchewing addictionĒ, my hand-to-mouth habit that wasnít getting the workout it wanted. So I found all the low calorie, healthy foods I could add to each meal.
I designed my meals around a ďCOREĒ of delicious, hearty food, in small portions. Then I added lots of veggies and fruit and clear low calorie soups before, during and after my meal. I discovered that by spritzing all sorts of veggies with olive oil and roasting them in the oven for 20 minutes at 400 degrees, that veggies I didnít even think I liked (cooked carrots) were wonderful!
I began looking for the small core meal that would go well with my veggies. First time in my life I ever planned meals around non-starchy vegetables!!!
Eating Out - Try to plan what youíre going to order before you arrive.
Many restaurants have menus on-line. Order first - before you are tempted by what everyone else is having. When you place your order, ask for a take-out box to be delivered with your order. Put half your food in there before you take a bite. Take it home for another day.
WATER - A category all its own.
I drink eleven 8 oz glasses of water a day. I donít even need to measure anymore, itís become such a habit.
If I overeat, or eat something sweet or high in fat or not good for me in some other way - when Iím done I drown it in water. I drink all the water I can. I keep drinking water until I go to bed. The result the next morning is always better than I thought it would be. Water is a magic agent, as far as Iím concerned.
I had never before lost more than 7 pounds on any diet. This plan works. There really arenít any tricks or weird diets involved. Itís just using portion control and finding a way to make that easier to do by adding low calorie foods and lots of chewing!
I think the most important thing is - when I indulge too much, overeat, stuff myself mindlessly - the best thing to do is go right to the next meal like nothing ever happened.
If I try to compensate, I fall into the old feast and famine syndrome, which never does me any good. And I wonder if that "compensate" need isn't really some sort of guilt/punishment mindset, which NEVER does me any good.
Feeling good about myself is a more positive approach!
Saturday, May 23, 2009
For those of you who watch what you eat, here's the final word on nutrition and health. It's a relief to know the truth after all those conflicting nutritional studies.
1. The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks
2. The Mexicans eat a lot of fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than
3. The Chinese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks
4. The Italians drink a lot of red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than
5. The Germans drink a lot of beers and eat lots of sausages and fats and
suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.
Eat and drink what you like.
Speaking English is apparently what kills you.
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