Thursday, April 01, 2010
The cherry trees are blooming and spring is finally here for real. Life is too short not to get outside and enjoy the spring flowers.
The following poem is one I've enjoyed since I was a child.
Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.
Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.
And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.
A. E. Housman
Monday, March 22, 2010
When I was a kid, I never had more than two pairs of shoes at a time. One pair was patent leather Mary Jane's that I wore to church. They were always bought at least a size too big so that I wouldn't outgrow them too soon. My other shoes were grey or brown lace up oxfords, really ugly, but practical. They were bought a half size too big, and I wore them every where but church, winter and summer. My mother did not believe in sneakers or sandals because they didn't give the feet enough support. This was a long time ago, before Nike. It was OK to go barefoot, though, and mostly we did in the summer.
I so much wanted a pair of red flats, but my mother wouldn't get them for me. Maybe that's why I love shoes so much now. (I love shoes almost as much as chocolate.)
Losing weight has actually made my feet smaller. I no longer wear wide shoes, so my options are greatly expanded. I am donating my wide shoes to charity and buying cute little flats in more than one color. I still don't feel comfortable in heels. Maybe 20 pounds from now. But I'm loving my cute little flats and my feet don't swell over the edges any more. I bought a lovely pair this weekend at Nordstrums.
I found this really cute poem about shoes. I couldn't find out much about the poet, but apparently the poem has been around for a long time.
New shoes, new shoes,
Red and pink and blue shoes.
Tell me what would YOU choose
If they'd let us buy?
Buckle shoes, bow shoes,
Pretty pointy-toe shoes,
Strappy, cappy low shoes;
Let's have some to try.
Bright shoes, white shoes,
Dandy dance-by-night shoes,
Like some? So would I.
BUT Flat shoes, fat shoes,
O that's the sort they'll buy.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Here is a poem for St. Patrick's Day by William Butler Yeats. This poem just makes me happy. I hope it does the same for you.
THE FIDDLER OF DOONEY
When I play on my fiddle in Dooney,
Folk dance like a wave of the sea;
My cousin is priest in Kilvarnet,
My brother in Mocharabuiee.
I passed my brother and cousin:
They read in their books of prayer;
I read in my book of songs
I bought at the Sligo fair.
When we come at the end of time
To Peter sitting in state,
He will smile on the three old spirits,
But call me first through the gate;
For the good are always the merry,
Save by an evil chance,
And the merry love the fiddle,
And the merry love to dance:
And when the folk there spy me,
They will all come up to me,
With "Here is the fiddler of Dooney!"
And dance like a wave of the sea.
William Butler Yeats
Friday, March 12, 2010
I have three separate food issues that complicate my diet.
First, I am gluten intolerant. This means that I cannot eat anything containing wheat, rye, oats or barley. “Modified food starch” is out. So is malt, usually made from barley. Oats are out, not because oats contain gluten, but because they are so often processed in plants that also process wheat, so are contaminated with gluten. I can’t eat bread, pancakes, donuts, bagels, pasta, or any number of other tasty foods.
Second, I am a diabetic. A kind nutritionist helped me develop a diabetic diet shortly after my diagnosis. I need to eat three meals and three snacks a day to balance my food intake and keep my blood sugar stable. I need to eat a little protein and fat, as well as carbohydrates at each meal, and eat a protein and carbohydrate at each snack.
Third, I am trying to lose weight. Spark People has set ranges for me to follow for calories, fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. I’m trying to eat more fiber and more fruits and vegetables and less saturated fat.
All of these issues come into play when I am deciding what and when to eat. I have a routine for home, eating gluten free products from the grocery store, and taking my lunch into work whenever possible.
When I travel, it’s a challenge.
On my recent trip to San Diego, I stayed in a huge hotel, with about 700 co-workers. The hotel provided coffee and pastries for us every morning before the planned classes and meetings started. Of course I can’t eat pastries. They all contain gluten, so that was not an option for breakfast. The breakfast buffet at the hotel was huge and contained a variety of foods, some of which I could eat in moderation. Unfortunately, it cost $24 a day, and that’s a lot even for someone getting per diem. After one morning at the breakfast buffet, spending $24 for a scrambled egg, a glass of orange juice and a slice of melon, the next morning I went by the coffee shop to see what I could find as an alternative. They offered more pastries, muffins, bagels, etc, all off limits. Then I spotted the cold cereals. The only one that seemed almost gluten free was Frosted Flakes. The box listed “malt” pretty far down on the list of ingredients, so I went with it. I wasn’t happy about the sugar & high fructose corn syrup (just another word for sugar). Any product containing 23 grams of sugar can’t be healthy, but with skim milk it made breakfast. I had some nuts with me for protein and fat, so I was OK. The Dannon “fruit on the bottom” yogurt contained 24 grams of sugar!
We went out for lunch every day and I did my best to stick to lean proteins and fresh salads and vegetables. One day I ate 10 french fries because I needed some carbohydrates with my lunch and the fries were the only thing available.
In the afternoon the hotel again provided snacks, usually cookies or brownies that I couldn’t eat. One afternoon they gave us rice crispy treats. I was so excited. I can eat rice and marshmallow, so I helped myself to one. Yes, there is malt in rice crispies, and way too much sugar, but I couldn’t say no. I went to the coffee shop for a latte to have with it and pretended the skim milk was a protein serving.
Dinner was a problem, too. The first night a group of us walked to a local grocery store where I bought a cooked chicken thigh, some baby carrots, and bananas. Not a bad choice. And that gave me carrots and bananas in my room for vegetables/fruits/carbohydrates on other days. On the remaining nights I had room service (horribly expensive and not that good), a restaurant meal (again expensive, but at least good), and a turkey and cheese sandwich from a deli (I threw out the bread and ate it with carrots and a banana).
I don’t know what I would do if I had to travel a lot.
Does anyone have any good strategies for eating on a trip and sticking to my diet guidelines? My job is sending me back to California in August for another one of these conferences, and I want to be ready.
I am sharing the following poem by Billy Collins, one of my favorite poets. It seems appropriate for someone who is very much afraid to fly.
At the gate, I sit in a row of blue seats
with the possible company of my death,
this sprawling miscellany of people—
carry-on bags and paperbacks—
that could be gathered in a flash
into a bank of pilgrims on the last open road.
Not that I think
if our plane crumpled into a mountain
we would all ascend together,
holding hands like a ring of skydivers,
into a sudden gasp of brightness,
or that there would be some common place
for us to reunite to jubilize the moment,
some spaceless, pillarless Greece
where we could, at the count of three,
toss our ashes into the sunny air.
It’s just that the way that man has his briefcase
so carefully arranged,
the way that girl is cooling her tea,
and the flow of the comb that woman
passes through her daughter’s hair…
and when you consider the altitude,
the secret parts of the engines,
and all the hard water and the deep canyons below…
well, I just think it would be good if one of us
maybe stood up and said a few words,
or, so as not to involve the police,
at least quietly wrote something down.
Billy Collins is a former poet lauriate of the US. You can find a lot of good poems on the website Poetry 180, edited by Billy Collins, and owned by the Library of Congress. You should be able to follow the link below to Poetry 180.
Thursday, March 04, 2010
I had a very happy visit at the doctor’s office this morning, reviewing my latest lab results.
Glucose: 116, down from 151 a year ago
A1c: 5.8, down from 7.7
My diabetes is much more controlled.
SGOT: 26, down from 66
SGTP: 25, down from 60
My fatty liver disease is gone.
Total cholesterol: 131, down from 180
LDL: 66, down from 102
HDL: 42, down from 46 (this is the good stuff) The doctor says heredity has a lot to do with this number.
Triglycerides: 115, down from 160
Total cholesterol/HDL ratio 3.1, down from 3.9
My arteries thank me.
The doctor wants to see me again in June. If my numbers stay down, he will wean me off some of my medications. I’m hoping the numbers will be even better in 3 months as I should have lost another 15 pounds by then.
I love my doctor. He never, ever, got ugly about my weight. He seemed to recognize that when the time was right I would do something about it. Meanwhile, he has kept me in reasonable health through medication, and he was as happy as I was about my weight loss. He wrote down the name sparkpeople.com, and so did his assistant.
I love my family, too, because they all love me no matter what I weigh, and they support my efforts without ever saying “it’s about time.”
I love numbers, too. In fact, I was a math major in college many years ago. Here is a wonderful poem about numbers by Mary Cornish
I like the generosity of numbers.
The way, for example,
they are willing to count
anything or anyone:
two pickles, one door to the room,
eight dancers dressed as swans.
I like the domesticity of addition—
add two cups of milk and stir—
the sense of plenty: six plums
on the ground, three more
falling from the tree.
And the multiplication’s school
of fish times fish,
whose silver bodies breed
beneath the shadow
of a boat.
Even subtraction is never loss,
just addition somewhere else:
five sparrow take away two,
the two in someone else’s
There’s an amplitude to long division,
as it opens Chinese take-out
box by paper box,
inside every folded cookie
a new fortune.
And I never fail to be surprised
by the gift of an odd remainder,
footloose at the end:
forty-seven divided by eleven equals four,
with three remaining.
Three boys beyond their mother’s call,
two Italians off to the sea,
one sock that isn’t anywhere you look.
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