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Maintenance Math

Saturday, June 11, 2011

I'm struck by how much harder I have to work at the gym to burn 400 calories on the cross trainer now that my weight is 140 (or, today, 138).

It took me just over 43 minutes at level 8, really sweating it, to burn 400 calories on the elliptical cross trainer.

And burning even 10 calories requires significant expenditure of energy.

When I was over 160 pounds, the 400 calories took more like 30 minutes.

That's why, I suppose, I have to eat much less and work much harder to stay in the same place . . . the place I'm wanting to stay which is right about here. I like seeing a middle number "3" on the scale! And I'm liking the way my clothes fit, and the general feeling of lightness and ease and strength I'm experiencing.

I did a little researching on the internet to determine the maintenance math: how many calories can I actually eat to maintain at 140 or so? Using the Harris-Benedict Formula, I first calculate my basic metabolic rate. That's determined by my height, weight and age, and the figure which came up is 1306.3.

Then I consider my activity level: from sedentary (which would indicate a multiplier of 1.2) through light, moderate and very active to super active (multiplier of 1.9). That's the calories for maintenance, according to this formula.

No way am I sedentary. Most days I'm at least a moderate exerciser. Which would mean that I ought to be able to eat 1900 calories a day and maintain at 140. But in my experience, I cannot eat much more than 1300 calories a day and maintain the same weight. Nope.

And almost twice that? No way, even if I were so super active that I remained on that elliptical cross trainer pumping my arms at top speed all day long: I'm pretty sure I still couldn't maintain my weight if I ate close to 2600 calories a day.

What I do know: eating even 100 excess calories a day results in a 10 pound weight gain a year. Compounding. And it's so easy to eat 100 excess calories: that's a largish apple, or 3 pre-wrapped Lindt dark chocolate squares or 1 oz cheddar or . . . not much!!

So: here's the thing. The less I weigh, the less I can eat, and the harder I have to exercise to stay in the same place. I'm thinking that this is the reason that so many people find it easy enough to lose weight, hard to maintain the loss.

Good to know. Right. Here's the link if you want to try the math for yourself.


And here's another link from the Mayo Clinic which is a bit easier to work with, but doesn't actually explain the process very well:


Love SP: but it's telling me (if I change to indicate the new weight and new weight goal) 2000-2500 calories a day.

And I do know that won't work for me.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JOYFUL711 6/14/2011 8:00PM

    I just did the math on that link, it says I should eat 2013 calories to *maintain* my current weight of 133 lbs, I strongly disagree. My dietician already told me my upper limit for maintneance will be 1200-1300 calories if I want to stay this size. (she did say it was ok for my age to be heavier, I do not want to be). I aleady KNOW, I will be at least 150 lbs if I eat 2000 calories on a regular basis. Good grief!

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WATERMELLEN 6/13/2011 11:00AM

    Here's a link to a "facts and fallacies" post by nutritionist Leslie Beck who tells us that for women, 1400-1600 calories a day is probably the optimal range: high end, I'm thinking, but more doable.


Comment edited on: 6/13/2011 11:00:40 AM

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PENNYAN45 6/13/2011 9:54AM

    I did do this calculation a while ago - and realized how much discipline would be required to maintain my goal weight once I reached it. It's good to know, so that we can have realistic expectations.

I agree that this is probably why many people gain back the weight they lose. They thought they'd be able to stop 'dieting' once they reached goal.

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BRIGHTSPARK7 6/12/2011 9:50PM

    I like the way you make the body's calculus conscious, Ellen, so it falls into the realm we can do something about.
I appear to be 'maintaining' about ten pounds higher than where I'd like to be. I know, I know, eat less and move more. I'm also working with a feeling of contentment, eating enough to feel satisfied -- usually about 1300 cals -- don't really want to eat much less than that. So my math requires me to increase calories out. I increased my walking goal this month, so we'll see what happens. Just working on taking action and then being patient about reaching the results.
Thanks as always for a thought provoking blog.

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TRYINGHARD1948 6/12/2011 9:07PM

    .. and when you get older it seems to get less too. This path never promised to be easy, just healthier. We can do it.

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NANCY- 6/12/2011 7:52AM

    Ah... you have found the secret.
Since you need to consume less... you can invest your food dollars on higher quality foods. (if you already do that... save the $ for greens fees.)
Part of the reason for the need to consume less and work out longer is that you are now moving a smaller body size.
WTG on making maintenance work for you and thank you for the math lesson.
It is good to keep these things in mind when at goal weight, maintaining is sort of like housework, you need to be attentive or it all goes to.....
You are being very attentive.

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STLRZGRRL 6/11/2011 9:42PM

    That's the second corollary, E...

that "the less you weight, the less you can eat, the harder you have to exercise" bit?


I think that's where we lose a lot of 'em...

NO one wants to hear that.
it's true peeps... get good with it!

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  Maintenance is complicated, but worth it! :)

I find I have to aim a little lower than my self-determined maintenance calories, just in case I go over my limit by eating out that week or traveling that month.

I use health(!) as a motivator for exercise, as I have never been a high burner in that department.

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TBANMAN 6/11/2011 9:19PM

    I do a class every Saturday morning called Ultimate Conditioning. Step, intervals, weights, more step, abs, stretch. It's a great class and I love it.

At 170 pounds (6 months ago), I would burn between 550 and 610 calories in the hour.

At 163 pounds (today) I burned 476. Granted, I haven't eaten well the last two days and didn't have as much energy, so really didn't push myself today. Normally I'll burn over 500 calories, but just over.

It goes to show how much harder I have to work, and how much less I have to eat, to maintain the same progression.

As for maintenance calories, there's no way I'd follow SP's advice to eat 2000-2500 a day. Talk about a recipe for disaster! I would imagine that to maintain my ultimate goal weight of 150 pounds I won't be able to consume much more than I'm eating now. And that's fine with me.

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PHEBESS 6/11/2011 8:11PM

    Yeah, according to SparkPeople I'm active enough, and eating little enough, to be losing. But that isn't happening for me. I'm not sure if it's my basal metabolism rate, or if I'm inaccurate in calculating my intake or output, or what. I do know that at this point, I should eat about 1450 cals a day - but that will change, I'm sure.

It's a fine balancing act, and it changes as we change. That is for sure.

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CARRAND 6/11/2011 8:03PM

    Thanks for the link. The Mayo Clinic says I can maintain on 1900 calories. Spark People gives me 1840, and that seems to be working for me. I called myself "active" because I try to do 40 minutes or more of exercise 5 days a week, but my exercise of choice is weight lifting or yoga, neither of them what I think of as high calorie burners.

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ERIKO1908 6/11/2011 6:39PM

    LOL!!! You make maintenance stage seem like something I'm not sure I want to achieve!! (just kidding!!) Very informative - thank you!!

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And Let There Be No (More) Moaning . . .

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Yup, feeling good again: muscles have stopped shrieking.

And: is there anything better than that?

Plus my Oriental poppies will be in bloom any moment!! They do actually pop, with those sepals springing away from the silky folded blossoms inside . . . it's amazing to see, and I'm hoping to be present for at least one of those pops!!

Summertime . . . ahhh!!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

WATERMELLEN 6/12/2011 10:58AM

    OK, many requests for poppy pictures and I'm so technologically challenged:

Will you let me off the hook with this link??


(Yes, I do have both the bright scarlet and the "watermellen" pink!!)

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LEGALLYBLONDE81 6/12/2011 10:26AM

    Can we see pictures of the poppies? They are some of my favorites.

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CRYSTALJEM 6/10/2011 11:09AM

    Love Linda's video idea. Glad your muscles recovered. Have beautiful day gorgeous. Smiles and sunshine.

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TRYINGHARD1948 6/9/2011 8:06PM

    I can almost smell your garden. Gorgeous!

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KALIGIRL 6/9/2011 9:23AM

    Poppies! I emoticon them!
And non-screaming muscles - that's good too!

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NANCY- 6/9/2011 7:38AM

    Ah no more soreness, that is good.
I agree, pictures of the poppies would be lovely.
Enjoy both.

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BRIGHTSPARK7 6/8/2011 11:04PM

    Glad your muscles have stopped moaning. Your description of the oriental poppy opening is so delicious ... and of course they are exquisite. Yesterday, I cut a rose and placed it in the bathroom, in a tiny votive of water. This morning when I went in the whole room was fragrant with it's perfume. It was wonderful just to inhale.

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CARRAND 6/8/2011 8:30PM

    I would like summer better if it wasn't 100 degrees outside.

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PHEBESS 6/8/2011 7:44PM


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    I am with you...I just love summertime!!!!!!!!!!

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_LINDA 6/8/2011 4:12PM

    Oh you lucky dog you!!! I am so waiting for the garden to be safely fully planted and for things to start growing, let alone flowering! Wish you could get a video of these poppies opening up, wouldn't that be cool?? I would settle for photos, though, as I love flowers!! We have reached our high today, 66F, was as low as 44 this morning. I just did a blog of all the flowers I saw at a special greenhouse, restaurant and gift shop, a trip out we don't make very often because its out of town and the gas prices are just too high :(
Have a wonderful Wednesday!

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RITZIBROWN 6/8/2011 8:40AM

    Great blog! I'm waiting for the Dahlias & lilies to open. Right now my grasses and lambs ear are adding great color to the yard. I'm with you summer & spring are. Hope you're there when your Oriental poppies are popping.

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TOOKES519 6/8/2011 8:38AM

    Pictures Please!!!



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Monday Moaning

Monday, June 06, 2011

Love that expression, borrowed from TRAVELGGRL.

And I'm moaning because I may have overdone it a little yesterday -- gardening in the morning, golf in the afternoon, all this after a rigorous free weight upper body workout and cardio on Saturday.

Yeah, weekend warrior -- the old cliche about muscles I didn't know I had, ouch ouch ouch!!

Got my flower boxes planted up (with good ol' reliable geraniums and nasturtiums) and began on some of the flower beds, clipping back spent bulb foliage and rooting out some iris that had declined to bloom . . . too crowded, I'm thinking. There is still lots more to do, that's for sure. And next weekend will probably be soon enough, supposing that I recover by then. I'll get to the gym again and stretch out some of the kinks and maybe sit in the whirlpool . . . that will help!!

It was a completely gorgeous day on the golf course: perfect temperature, perfect breeze, perfect blue sky sunshine, perfect buglessness, perfect company: only the golf itself maybe not quite so perfect!! Is it ever?? I tell myself that the golf is just necessarily incidental to the walk in the park . . . love the cool rustling of the poplar foliage and the way it shimmers in the light. (Monet has permanently made me see lots of things differently, poplars just being one of those!)

Here's a link -- I especially like that "poplars in the sun" version.


And yes, there will soon be water lilies on the pond too . . .

So: how do we moan when the world is so full of such beautiful stuff? Don't know, but promise I'll stop when my poor muscles stop screaming, yes I will!!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TRYINGHARD1948 6/8/2011 5:40AM

    Oh how beautiful, I love Monet and have actually seen the water lilies in his lake. You are too, too lucky to be moaning.

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NANCY- 6/7/2011 12:16PM

    A bit of tonic water with lime helps ease my muscle or whine... um... I mean a glass wine.
I also found that stuff that SP highlighted from Mission... the muscle rub works well and so does the anti friction stuff.

Soon all will be well.

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_LINDA 6/7/2011 1:28AM

    Well, right there with you on the moaning part, the three hour + hike Mom and I did had us both feeling our aches today. I am not used to hills, so felt my shins, and she felt her sore hip. So we took a leisurely walk and trail hike for just 90 minutes today on much easier terrain :) We also indulged in a Berry Barn trip and feast! I coaxed Mom into getting some nasturtiums again. She had them only once before, and I just loved the bright colors and lively foliage! She also got some snaps in an awesome bronze color which I just love!! Can't wait until other weather warms up and things really start to grow. Its been so cold nothing has been moving.
If I had a hot tub, I would be spending my time in it too ;)
One of my favorite hikes is the one that goes through the poplars! I love the leaves, and when they fall they are cool to walk on that bright carpet of yellow!

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PHEBESS 6/6/2011 10:58PM

    We moan because we can. Really. If we couldn't complain about something, what would we do? And how could we know what a perfect day was if we didn't have something wrong, like screaming muscles?

I love the fact that you can talk about being a weekend warrior and Claude Monet's paintings in the same blog!!!!!!

Our most famous Thomian (born on St. Thomas) Camille Pissarro also painted poplars:


On second glance, they may be cypress. Though the planting looks more like a wall of poplars.

Comment edited on: 6/6/2011 11:00:26 PM

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SERENE_ME 6/6/2011 9:31PM

    I, too, am in "late spring overkill" mode - today the white cast iron garden furniture litters the yard like a graveyard of bleached whalebones having been de-molded to their pristine whiteness. This on top of coaching, gardening - planting around the dying tulip foliage is more work than it's worth sometimes :), running and deck scrubbing - I'm ready for bed!! I forget my age which is both the great joy of fitness and a bit of a pain - literally!!

I love "Monday Moaning" - what's tomorrow - the Tuesday Terrors? :)

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CARRAND 6/6/2011 9:23PM

    It seems like the better the weekend, the worse I feel about having to go to work on Mondays.

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DONNACFIT 6/6/2011 9:05PM

    Thanks for the link...this redneck girl knows where to go to find some culture :) Loved the paintings :)

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"You look so tiny . . ."

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Ran into two old friends in two different locations while I was carrying out my Saturday routines (at the gym, then picking up some geraniums and nasturtiums at the nursery) neither of whom I'd seen for a very long time . . .

And each of them said, quite spontaneously, "You look so tiny!"

Tiny? I'm 5'9" tall! I've got size 9 or 10 feet!! I'm wearing a size 8 (which is a medium) or an occasional generous 6 (vanity sizing!)

Tiny I am not!!

But have to say, it made me feel good to discover that I'm looking noticeably slimmer!!

Thanks, Spark Friends, for the support. I've been keeping my weight steady at 138-140 for the last three weeks at least. Beck is working for me in helping me find that lowest sustainable weight!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JENN03275 6/6/2011 9:45PM

    That is great!!

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PUDLECRAZY 6/6/2011 8:45PM

    Hey, Tiny, you are doing great! What is it with people and their perceptions? People think I'm tall at 5'3" and you are tiny at 5'9"??? I think they meant you are thin. Well, what you are is awesome!

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IGSBETH 6/6/2011 3:55PM


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    That is awesome!

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IMAGINE_IT 6/6/2011 1:45PM

    Enjoy the compliment Ellen...you are a Size 8..and that is 'tiny' in my book too....no matter what Height you are....so a big emoticon and continued success on maintaining..your tiny lil' bitty size emoticon emoticon emoticon

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FROSTIERACES 6/6/2011 1:25PM

    Yep I know this all too well...I will never be "tiny" either. Slenderella's comment made me laugh..Slim is good! hehe ...You're doing wonderful btw! Speaking of sizes...I went to the mall...stopped in at Ann Klein to look at their dresses. They had a bunch of dresses on clearance, and a few that were super cute were sized as Petite. Their size 8 and size 6 petites fit me...I was so confused....how could I ever fit into anything that small. But then, it dawned on me that they were probably a manufacturers defect and that was why they were on clearance!! :) Regardless...there hangs a size 6 petite dress in my closet!

Congratulations on your progress and getting to the weight you feel comfy at! It seems to me after my being gone from Spark for a couple months, the word that strikes me here is CONSISTENCY!...you've mastered that Ellen. You've been beautifully consistent with your goals and Beck. I'm really proud of you and happy for you too! emoticon emoticon emoticon

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PHEBESS 6/6/2011 11:35AM

    Absolutely fabulous!!!!!!!!!

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BARBIETEC 6/6/2011 7:07AM

    It is so much fun to get compliments!!!! Enjoy it you tiny little thing heheheh :)

You rock!

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IRONGRANNIE 6/6/2011 4:08AM

    "Tiny"? No, don't hear that much at our height but they meant in circumference of course, not vertically! Nice one!

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NEWKAREN43 6/5/2011 9:17PM

    "Tiny" is a wonderful compliment for a woman who is 5'9"! I always say the 5'9" was the perfect height, I just 'forgot' to stop growing until I hit 6'. I would imagine you look lovely at 5'9" in a size 8. Kudos to you! Blessings on this journey! Karen

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TRAVELGRRL 6/5/2011 9:00PM

    I'm so proud for you!! That was an awesome compliment, and the fact that it was spontaneous is even better!

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CARRAND 6/5/2011 1:05PM

    You sound like a perfect size to me.


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FLOWINGWATER 6/5/2011 12:24PM

    Sure is great to hear, isn't it? I have the same reaction, when people say that to me, being a tall girl myself. "Tiny" is for those petite girls!

Hmm...must see about this "Beck" thing...though I think I'm at a weight I'm happy with, I'm curious...

Congrats on the compliments!!! It's great to run into old friends knowing you're looking F.I.N.E., and having them notice too!!!

emoticon emoticon emoticon

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SLENDERELLA61 6/5/2011 12:16PM

    If "Tiny Ellen" doesn't suit you, why don't you try, "Slim"? I think you qualify and slim and tall go well together. Slim Ellen or just Slim? I think just Slim makes a great nickname.

Have a great day, Slim!! You deserve it. Congrats on all your accomplishments. Your hard work has paid off. Here's to years and years of fluctuating in a very narrow range right where you are!!

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FRACTALMYTH 6/5/2011 11:47AM

    Woooohoooooo! :D

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BNSUHAS 6/5/2011 10:51AM


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DONNACFIT 6/5/2011 9:42AM

    Congrats on the compliments!!

A friend from the ball tournament told me I was looking good yesterday so I told her about Spark People :)

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TRYINGHARD1948 6/5/2011 7:07AM

    You are awesome, never mind this tiny business. At 140, you are probably in the middle of what is deemed a healthy weight, in Australia, at least. Which makes you just perfect.

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P0KERS0PH 6/5/2011 5:36AM

    Thats great! I bet it made you feel on top of the world!

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JIBBIE49 6/5/2011 12:10AM

    I love "The BECK DIET SOLUTION." I recommend it to everyone.

My DD is 20 and she's 5'9" and 145# and does the p90X work out so she has a lot of muscle. But she looks "slim" being that tall. I am only 5'4" so I am happy she took after her father's relatives and is tall. She buys pants that all fit and never have to be "shortened."

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ERIKO1908 6/4/2011 11:42PM

    I love how you are starting the maintenance stage!! This really gives me hope!! Isn't it wonderful when friends notice the results of all the hard work we put in? Keep up on all you are doing - it is really working for you!!

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NATKITA 6/4/2011 11:07PM

    I must say, for 5'9", I think a size 8 absolutely IS tiny!!!!! Seriously girl, celebrate that!!!! :)

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TEENY_BIKINI 6/4/2011 10:44PM

    You better go on with your bad self!!! You rock!

emoticon emoticon emoticon

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BRIGHTSPARK7 6/4/2011 10:30PM

    You're looking and feeling healthy! SO great that you've found your lowest sustainable weight.

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PENNYAN45 6/4/2011 10:24PM

    YES!!! SUCCESS!!!

emoticon emoticon

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SERENE_ME 6/4/2011 10:00PM

    Wow - great work Ellen! You've done so well and are so inspiring to so many. How great you must feel!

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VENISEW1 6/4/2011 9:55PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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CHANLSURFR 6/4/2011 9:37PM

    Awesome work. Keep it up!

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LOLAJASPER 6/4/2011 9:32PM

    I bet that felt wonderful!

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June! Perfection!!

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

"What is so Rare as a Day in June?"

And what is so rare as a day in June?
Then, if ever, come perfect days;
Then Heaven tries the earth if it be in tune,
And over it softly her warm ear lays:
Whether we look, or whether we listen,
We hear life murmur, or see it glisten;
Every clod feels a stir of might,
An instinct within it that reaches and towers,
And, grasping blindly above it for light,
Climbs to a soul in grass and flowers;
The flush of life may well be seen
Thrilling back over hills and valleys;
The cowslip startles in meadows green,
The buttercup catches the sun in its chalice,
And there ‘s never a leaf or a blade too mean
To be some happy creature’s palace;
The little bird sits at his door in the sun,
Atilt like a blossom among the leaves,
And lets his illumined being o’errun
With the deluge of summer it receives;
His mate feels the eggs beneath her wings,
And the heart in her dumb breast flutters and sings;
He sings to the wide world, and she to her nest,–

James Russell Lowell (1819-1891)


This is a snippet from a much longer (and rather heavily religious) poem, taken from an interesting birders' site. And really I like best just the first two lines, celebrating the miracle which is June.

We've a full week of sunny weather forecast . . . it's warm, it's summer, I'm wearing my new white sandals today with white pants!! With fresh asparagus in my lunchtime salad!!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BRIGHTSPARK7 6/3/2011 1:01AM

    I DO love June. It's my birthday month and I celebrate each day, the whole month long. Thank you for this gorgeous poem, so alive with the images of June. It really captured some of the celebration I am feeling. Jubilant.

And after hearing more about the squirrely behavior in your attic, I appreciated your kindness even more.

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TRYINGHARD1948 6/2/2011 5:18AM

    The poetry of earth is never dead: ,,,,, Keats

As you enjoy your June sun, we too are enjoying the most beautiful, clear, sunshiny days now that it is Winter.

Loved the poem, thank you. You always lift my soul and give great pleasure.

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CARRAND 6/1/2011 8:23PM

    Lovely poem. I shared a bit of it with my group at work recently by email. They all know I'm a poetry nut.

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DSHONEYC 6/1/2011 2:49PM

    Wow, we must have been on the same June wave length today! June is bustin' out all over...and yes a 4 day weekend and 3 day workweek works for me!
Ciao, Bella

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_LINDA 6/1/2011 2:03PM

    As with Flowingwater, spring has far from sprung here, let alone summer. Can only dream! But a nice summer poem puts you in the mood! Thanks for sharing!

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KALIGIRL 6/1/2011 1:43PM

    Love the celebration of the season and particularly a sunny summer day.
emoticonfor sharing!

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JOHAL52 6/1/2011 1:42PM

    I knew the first two lines of course but enjoyed reading more of it. Love the buttercup analogy :)

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PHEBESS 6/1/2011 12:16PM

    Beautiful!!! "Then Heaven tries the earth if it be in tune" - quite a concept!!!

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FLOWINGWATER 6/1/2011 10:14AM

    Great poem! Summer doesn't hit here until mid-July. It's still cool and grey out. But, I am having to dodge many more little critters on my bike. Yesterday, I dodged a squirrel and a kamikaze bird.

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE asparagus. Organic is SOO expensive - over $5 a pound, so it's a rare treat.

Enjoy! emoticon emoticon emoticon

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PENNYAN45 6/1/2011 8:54AM

"[In June], if ever, come perfect days."

And those are the days we are living right now!

I found another to add to your tribute to this month of June:

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"Mine is the Month of Roses; yes, and mine
The Month of Marriages! All pleasant sights
And scents, the fragrance of the blossoming vine,
The foliage of the valleys and the heights.
Mine are the longest days, the loveliest nights;
The mower's scythe makes music to my ear;
I am the mother of all dear delights;
I am the fairest daughter of the year."

- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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NANCY- 6/1/2011 8:08AM

    What beauty is written... it amazing me that it was written with the spring of biting insects(which he chose to ignore).
It is all about perspective and you have a great one.
Keep Sparking!!!!

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