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Cherry Trees

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

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CHANCELUND 4/5/2010 12:28PM

    I have a cherry tree just outside my window. It will bloom around Mother's Day. However, we have the forsythia blooming now and of course the tulips! Spring is here! emoticon

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ALIBROM 4/4/2010 10:49PM

    It seems like such a magical thing for spring to come every year. Sometimes during the too long and harsh New England winters it seems like the trees will never be green again. I'm amazed every year when I see the buds! Thanks for sharing this sweet but a little sad poem.

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BRIARROSE30 4/3/2010 11:56AM

    Do you live around Washington DC? My sister is on vacation there, and she keeps sending me pictures of the gorgeous trees. She says it is unreal and breathtaking!

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JCORYCMA 4/3/2010 9:39AM

    That's a great poem and brings back memories of my spring visits to you. You will have to take some pictures and share them with us! I miss you!

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TODAYSAGIFT 4/2/2010 12:10PM

    Such a beautiful poem. I haven't seen it before. ! emoticon

Have a terrific weekend!

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COLEENCOLE 4/2/2010 9:38AM

    Such a pretty poem. Ours are not blooming yet, but the magnolias are.

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SHOSHANADP 4/1/2010 11:23PM

    It is my plan to go see the Cherry Blossoms tomorrow and/or Saturday. True, there will be lots of people, but luckily there are lots of trees to see (so I can stay away from the most popular areas).

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UMUCGRAD 4/1/2010 9:41PM

    How sweet! Thanks for sharing this lovely spring message.

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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.

Frida Wolfe
Choosing Shoes

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,
Perhaps-a-little-tight shoes;
Like some? So would I.

BUT Flat shoes, fat shoes,
Wipe-them-on-the-mat shoes
O that's the sort they'll buy.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LITTLEBIRCH 3/28/2010 10:43PM

    Really liked this!

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JCORYCMA 3/26/2010 10:19PM

    Congratulations! I think I need to come out there and shoe shop with you!
Joanne emoticon

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CHANCELUND 3/25/2010 9:36PM

    Here, here to red shoes! As always, I love your poems. emoticon

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ASPENHUGGER 3/24/2010 12:53PM


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BIBLIOMANE40 3/23/2010 5:09PM

    I absolutely LOVE shoes - but my feet hurt so much all the time that I have to wear certain ones. Hopefully as the weight falls off, I will be able to wear cute ones too!



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GOODWITCHD 3/23/2010 2:37PM

    I loved this! I too, had a very practical mother ~ could be why I have a shoe fetish now! LOL
Also thanks for stopping by my blog!
glenda emoticon

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COLEENCOLE 3/23/2010 7:58AM

    I love this. I so want to be able to get back into shoes. When I was in my 20's I had about 30 pair, but when I got preg. with my first my foot widened and I had to get rid of them all. Now with my weight they are even wider and I think shoes will be my first purchase when I lose 50.

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MBREWTON35 3/22/2010 10:08PM

    emoticon Sounds just like Grandma Mona! Aunt Joanne swares she has a clothing addiction because Mona would make all three of you sisters the same dress pattern and then she would have to ware hers, then Kaye's, and then yours because she was the youngest!! Doesn't it feel great to donate all those wide shoes! emoticon

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SHOSHANADP 3/22/2010 9:30PM

    My friend, who lost a small person, said that her feet also got smaller but it was a length thing. I hope that you are able to find, and wear, loads of fun shoes. Don't worry about having too many. It only means that you need outfits to match! (and visa-versa!)

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Dance Like a Wave of the Sea

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.


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

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TODAYSAGIFT 3/28/2010 11:01PM

    Such a lovely poem! emoticon

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CHANCELUND 3/20/2010 6:24PM

    I love this poem. I haven't heard it in a long time. Thanks ! emoticon

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ASPENHUGGER 3/20/2010 1:39PM

    That's wonderful! And I hadn't heard it before -- thanks for sharing!

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RUSTYSHAW1 3/19/2010 7:56PM

    How lovely, I wonder if it was every put to music. It seems that many Irish poets could sing their poems or had someone put their poems to music. Since St. Patty's Day is past, I wish you a wonderful weekend. Rusty. emoticon

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TDRANDALL 3/18/2010 10:21PM

    Loved this poem!

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WILLOWWEAVER 3/18/2010 10:17PM

    Fun! Thank you for sharing!

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JCORYCMA 3/17/2010 11:06PM

    Delightful and perfect for St. Pat's day! Thanks for sharing!
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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So what do I eat now?

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.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

WILLOWWEAVER 3/18/2010 10:28PM

    It sounds like you were focused and trying to stay on your goal to eat healthy. Everyone has good ideas. I agree... contact the hotel and tell them your food needs. Also, taking some food or if flying, trying to locate a grocery store/health food store nearby and get foods that you can eat! The packaged tuna or chicken, carrots, celery, fresh veggies, are great ideas.

I think you are doing great!
Love the poem.

hang in there!

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VALERIEMAHA 3/15/2010 10:46PM

    Now I know where you were in California!

My you do have some challenges. I don't have any such concerns, but I have traveled extensively for years and I typically pack LOTS of food because I like to eat as whole and organic as possible. My suitcase has more food than anything. That might be a problem for you because it sounds like you're expected to eat with others.

Certainly you could at least come prepared with breakfast, which you you could eat in your room. If there's a 'nuker, you could bring packets of oatmeal too. With a mini-fridge you could keep milk, cottage cheese, etc.

And Joanne has an excellent suggestion about querying the sponsors about special meal options.

Good luck!
P.S. I also LOVE Billy Collins and have a CD of him reading his work.

P.P.S. Also, since you love poetry, I highly recommend the website that I subscribe to for a daily (5 days) poetry offering. Joe, whoever he is, makes incredible selections! Here's an archive link to check out some of the poems:
x.html and at the bottom of the page you'll see where you can subscribe if you wish.

P.P.P.S! Check out 5th and 13th poems down for Jan 2010.

Comment edited on: 3/15/2010 10:52:00 PM

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MBREWTON35 3/13/2010 10:35PM

    Wow! Even faced with challenges and complications you really stayed focused on your goals and obviously put careful thought into each meal, and I want to first commend you on that one!! I'm so like "calories don't count out of town!" Holey cow, 25 bucks for breakfast! ouch! I'd pack as many non-perishable snacks as you can travel with, or find a store right away and fill up your hotel fridge. Good for you for managing your diabetes the right way! I know your trip sounds frustrating, but from what I'm reading you made the best of what you had to work with, and that's what separates the girls from women! Hats off to you! emoticon

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JCORYCMA 3/12/2010 10:55PM

    That is a tough situation for you. I periodically go to conferences and workshops and have noticed at the last few that on the registration form they asked specifically if there were any dietary restrictions. I struck up a conversation with a woman whose lunch was labeled with her name because she was gluten intolerant. It would be worth a shot to let the sponsors know as well as the hotel. For breakfast you might try to pack a ziplock bag of rice chex. I'm with you - $24 for a scrambled egg is a bit much. I had the stomach flu at the last workshop I went to and my bowl of room service oatmeal cost $19 with a glass of skim milk!!

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MCMLXIV 3/12/2010 7:46PM

    I have a friend who has Celiac's, so she always travels with portable gluten free foods. It seems like she's always got a stash of grits, gluten free snacks, etc. If the hotel has a vending area, they might have a microwave where you can cook up some microwavable fat free popcorn or grits. (In fact, I just tasted her gluten free crackers today and they were really good!) Of course, there are times where she just has to do what you did-- throw the bread away. Good luck, I know it's hard, especially since you're also trying to watch your blood sugar. You mentioned you can't eat bread... she's managed to find some pretty tasty gluten free breads and other 'flour' based products that normally contain gluten.

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CUPCAKE_LIL 3/12/2010 7:43PM

    I would specifically find a hotel with a fridge and microwave. I would also Google Gluten Free restaurants/bakeries in that area, because there are more and more popping up each week.

Amazon has quite a gluten free selection, and Trader Joe's has a six page document of gluten free items (if you have one in your area).

We went gluten free with my daughter a few times last year due to learning and stomach issues. The results were immediate.

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4-1HEALTHYCYNDI 3/12/2010 7:42PM

    If you are going to California, call the hotel you will be staying at ahead of time. Let them know about your medical necessities and ask if they can arrange for something you could eat. They may say they can't, but out here in California if you medically can't eat something they are supposed to try to accommodate your needs.

Also, packing your own food may be a good solution. Many hotels have the min fridges which make it easy to store healthy foods.

Good luck!

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CRISPINI 3/12/2010 7:19PM

    I wrote a whole blog post about this for one of my Spark Buddies -- you can find it here:

BR>Bottom line, though, with your gluten intolerance I think you'd be better off packing your own food. I would bet at a local health store you can find a nutrition bar that's gluten free. In fact I would be willing to bet that Larabars are gluten free, since they're all fruit and nuts. And of course you can take your own carrots, celery, fruit snacks etc. - you could even take your own tuna in those pouches. I quite often take a fair amount of food when I travel because there are typically such bad choices everywhere and you have very little control over where you are eating. At least with a healthy bar along you always know you'll have a good choice! Good luck!

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Happy Numbers

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, 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
garden now.

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.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CHANCELUND 3/20/2010 6:28PM

    A math major with a poet's heart. I should have guessed. emoticon

I am so happy your health tests came back so low. You motivated me from the first time I read one of your blogs. You inspire me to keep going!!

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RUSTYSHAW1 3/9/2010 5:32PM

    Hello, if I understand correctly, you reside in San Diego? I live in North San Diego County. We are close of an age; my two daughters are grown and gone; I have 50 pounds I am working on. I have been taking such tiny small steps, it took me until February 15 of this new year to finally give myself a personal challenge. It is my goal to lose 30 pounds by this August '10 for a special event; then the remaining 20 pounds by the end of December '10.
You kindly left a comment on one of my blogs. I tend to be 'flippant' about what I am seeking to accomplish - I try to bring humor to my situation because I became tired of my always 'boo boo hooing' to myself. Anyway, I just want to say I am impressed with your accomplishments and will be checking in periodically to see how you are doing.
rustyshaw1 emoticon

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JCORYCMA 3/5/2010 10:45PM

    emoticon That is great! It is such an empowering feeling to know that when you are proactive about your health, you see the positive results! Thank you for sharing with us because that's so motivating and inspiring for those of us struggling with those health issues. Way to spread the spark too! Goes to show it works!
Joanne emoticon

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MBREWTON35 3/5/2010 4:02PM

    The numbers don't lie sister, you are rocking the spark diet! I am so happy for you! So glad you shared! I'm only 31 but I'm so headed to the medication path if I don't do something now. My cells already resist my insulin that I make. You are truly a motivation. Keep it up and celebrate every medication you throw out in June! emoticon emoticon emoticon

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    That is fantastic news! Keep up the great work! So pleased to hear that all those conditions are improving and you may be able to go off some meds. Congrats to you!


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SHOSHANADP 3/4/2010 11:48PM

    That is wonderful news! I hope that things continue in that positive direction. How nice that your doctor never harped on you about the weight. I firmly believe that it is important to have a positive relationship with a doctor. And remember, your family is not the only people that love you. emoticon

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