Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Genetically Speaking

My two girls, 28 years apart: my daughter, Emily, on the left, her daughter (my sweet Lily) on the right. Guess things really don't change, do they?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

If It's Tuesday, It Must Be ...

Lately each day has been such a gift.

Monday I have Lily with me all day. We've missed each other over the weekend and we play and cuddle and the day races by until all of a sudden it's over.

Tuesday Lily is over at Auntie's house so I'm left on my own to take care of doctor's appointments, hair appointments, shopping, errands, or my favorite, staying in my studio to paw through my gemstones and sterling silver goodies so I can get started making a new piece of jewelry to list in my online Etsy shop (CountenanceJewelry.etsy.com).

Wednesday Lily is back with me and we've got gymnastics for 45 minutes in the late morning. Even this short interlude breaks up our day enough so that the time we spend after we get home from this activity seems to fly by. If Lily naps for 2 hours after lunch, I get a big block of time to spend on myself, but lately her naps have gotten shorter which means more is required of me from her.

Thursday is another day of Lily at Auntie's house so I spend more time being my own boss to prioritize my time. Sometimes I feel so foot loose and directionless that I just sit on a stool for a while and stare off into space until an image forms in my mind of what my next move is going to be. Using this method to figure out how to manage my time reveals to me just how ineffective it is, but since I like sitting on a stool letting my mind wander, I still indulge myself sometimes.

Friday is usually another day with Lily, but this week I'm taking a 'vacation' day on Friday so I can go to the Gem Faire being held at the Scottish Rite Center in Sacramento. I'm taking my large travel-size purse that is full of compartments and has a wide strap that I can put around one shoulder to distribute the weight of all those gemstones I'm going to buy. I'll wear comfortable shoes, have at least one snack handy in my purse, my seller's permit tucked away just in case anyone wants to give me a discount, and my shopping list, which I'll probably ignore 90% of the time that I'm there.

I'm really excited to be going. I hope there will be a reasonable amount of good vendors there. The Sac Gem Faire is not one of the more popular venues for jewelry suppliers to attend, but can still be fun and time well worth spending.

I'm toying with the idea of going to the Tucson Gem Show next February. Since my father lives in Tucson I could probably snag a room at his house with my husband, then drive into town and get a taste of what a full-blown gem show is all about. I feel this will be a rite of passage and something I've dreamed of doing for the last 6 years.

Ok now... so how much money am I budgeting for tomorrow? I think I'll head on over to my stool to figure that one out.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Four Generations

My mother was born in 1928. 
She had a daughter (me) in 1954. 
I had a daughter, my only child, in 1980. 
She then had a daughter in 2008.

As the generations progress, 
our hair is getting curlier,
our skin is getting darker,
our eyes are getting browner,
our smiles are getting wider, 
and now we've got dimples too!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Spaceship I Rode In On

Have you ever had one of those conversations with your significant other that causes you to wonder about your language skills? I mean, let's face it, there are times when a couple's verbal exchange resembles a political debate: double-talk, insinuations, answering questions with questions, things like that.I'm not sure what planets we're from, but it's definitely not the same one.

Recently, my husband and I had to share a very small bathroom in our room at an inn while away on vacation. For the most part we danced around each other pretty seamlessly while there. We were in no hurry one morning and I wanted the whole bathroom all to myself to get showered and ready for the day. Sometimes a girl just needs a little privacy.

So I asked my husband, "Are you finished in the bathroom?"

He responded, "I'm done in the shower."

I said, "So, does that mean you're done in the bathroom?"

He said, "I just told you. I'm finished in the shower."

I said, "Quit saying that. That doesn't answer my question."

He: "Yes it does."

Me: "No, it doesn't. You could be finished in the shower without being done in the bathroom."

He: "Well, you know what I mean."

Me: "No I don't. There is a difference you know."

He: "No there's not."

Me: "Yes. There is."

He: "Ok, I think you should let it go and move on now."

Me: "No, I want you to understand. This is part of why we don't always communicate with each other."

I don't usually try to make my point to this extent (or do I...?), but for some reason I felt that this particular situation was a perfect illustration of our failure to communicate at times and I wanted to drive that point home. I bravely soldiered on.

I said, "You could still need to shave or brush your teeth. I know you're finished in the shower. I'm trying to find out if you're 'done' done. I want the bathroom all to myself."

By now my husband is fully dressed, with car keys in hand ready to go get his morning cup of coffee. He leans over to give me a quick kiss and concedes, "Yes, I'm 'done' done."


Score another one for marital bliss.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Ice Cream-Lovers Diet

Although not nearly as serious as diabetes, hypoglycemia is an annoying problem to have. When you are hypoglycemic, as I am, your pancreas produce too much insulin so that it is difficult to keep enough sugar in your bloodstream. When there is too little sugar in your blood, besides feeling so hungry you could eat the wallpaper off the walls, you can get shaky, sweaty, unable to concentrate on even the simplest things, really crabby, a bad headache, and even pass out if blood sugar gets too low. I always carry a little Something in my purse because when I feel a blood sugar low coming on it can hit quickly and make my life miserable if I find myself without a snack.

I crave sugar, but eating sugar is one of the worst things you can do when you're hypoglycemic because it causes blood sugar to rise very quickly then plummet, making it necessary to eat again. When I have a blood sugar melt down, more sugar makes all of the bad symptoms go away quickly, but also sets me up for another crash. It becomes a vicious cycle and the calories add up fast.

My doctor recently told me that the key to controlling hypoglycemia is to eat as many or more grams of protein as carbohydrates during a meal or snack. Carbohydrates, whatever the source, raise blood sugar just like plain sugar does, but balancing that with protein slows the absorption of carbs so that your blood sugar levels stay on a more even keel.

He also told me that eating some fat with carbs helps slow the absorption of carbs which makes blood sugar spike less, and, for example, that eating a scoop of Ben and Jerry's Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream is better for my blood sugar than a scoop of sorbet. Sorbet is basically pure sugar, but Ben and Jerry's has some fat... okay, a lot of fat. I'm sure that my doctor was using the ice cream-sorbet comparison just to dramatize his point, but I took it as a diet tip. I thought, what if I ate a single serving of Ben and Jerry's during the course of an afternoon rather than several reduced fat, reduced calorie desserts. Could I control the amount and therefore the overall calorie count that way? I couldn't wait to put it to the test. I went out and bought four flavors of Ben and Jerry's ice cream. I was anxious to get started on my new diet.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

You Can Be Honest With Me

Do these glasses make my butt look big?

I have been in a power struggle with my weight since I was 12, although I never really had any excess weight at all until I was 19, and even then we're talking maybe 5 or 6 pounds.  I think I was misinformed as a child because I always thought I was fat. I was never skinny like some kids who have little stick legs and narrow waists you could wrap your fingers around. As one of my aunts once told me when I was very young, "You're not fat, you're healthy". At the time, I took it as an insult.

I remember going to a church potluck when I was 11 or 12 and making the agonizing decision not to have any dessert since I was convinced I needed to lose weight. Anybody who has gone to a church potluck knows that food is good at these things, especially the desserts. All the ladies (only ladies cooked back then) were in competition with each other and this was an occasion to really shine. So, at my tender young age I had decided before I went that I would not have dessert and begin my New Life as a Thin Person. As I remember it all these years later, that night the act of resisting the urge to indulge my sweet tooth was physically painful. I longed to have the wonderful taste of sugar, chocolate, whipped cream, ooey-gooey yummy stuff filling my mouth with happy flavors. When we got home, I remember my mother commenting on the fact that she noticed that I had skipped dessert. She said she was proud of me. Rats. I really didn't want to ever have to live through that experience again, and here what I'd done had made my mother proud. And she was not easily impressed.

Looking back on all of my years of dieting and I'm-not-dieting-I'm-just-eating-healthy, the potluck dessert fast was probably my first official act of dieting. Since then I have been on Weight Watchers several times (including way back in the late 60's when the plan called for canned bean sprouts to replace spaghetti noodles), Diet Center, Nutrisystems, some version of the no carb/high protein diet, Slim Fast, magic soup diet, diet pills (awful!), candy diet (special candies you'd eat right before a meal to fill you up... right....), and my latest endeavor, Jenny Craig. I lost weight on just about every diet I tried, and, just like most people's experience with dieting, I gained the lost weight back some time within a year of going back to eating "normally". I'm currently about 53 lbs lighter than when I was at my heaviest in my 40's. That's a lot of weight, I know, but losing it isn't the problem for me. Keeping the weight off without constantly yo-yo dieting is the issue.

So. Here I am in my post-Jenny Craig days, having lost 17 pounds (again) during the four months I was on the plan. Wow, what a struggle to lose those pounds now that I'm in my mid-50's. Based on that you'd think it would be easy for me to cherish those lost pounds with the passion of a weight-loss zealot, making it easy for me to stay away from all those sweets I crave, that I would feel good about turning my head (and mouth) away from that forbidden unneeded second/third/fourth afternoon snack. But that is not the case at all. When it comes to food, and sweets in particular, my craving for it and my ability to rationalize eating it has not diminished one iota. In fact, in the last few weeks since I declared victory on Jenny Craig I've spent more time and energy looking for new food to eat than ever before. My freezer is so full of reduced calorie, low fat desserts that I can hardly get the door closed. But, see, the thing is you're not supposed to eat three of these desserts in one day. You're only supposed to eat one and then stop. But some days I just can't stop, especially those days I'm just hanging out at home all day taking care of my granddaughter.

However, I will not gain that weight back. Well... this is what I'm telling myself. The big question mark hanging in my mental mid-air is, will I or won't I? If I talk about it and start watching Oprah more often maybe I can figure this out.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

On Turning Fifty-Six

I shouldn't be posting yet another picture of myself as a youngun' but truth be told, the best photos I have of myself are all from my childhood. I became very un-photogenic as an adult. Either that or I'm a lot uglier than I realize and I'm taking perfectly good pictures.

I turned 56 yesterday. Next year I will no longer be able to say that I'm in my mid-50's -- I will then be in my late 50's. How did I get so old? On the inside I feel like I have just recently started to "get it". I wonder if most people are at this stage of awareness earlier in life. I assume that is the case, but I am probably wrong.

The other day I saw my reflection in a mirror... a magnification mirror... in bright natural daylight. I was shocked. I'm getting these weird wrinkles on my face in places that don't crease when I smile or frown. What's up with that? I can understand wrinkles that are created when you move your facial muscles a certain way over and over, but the existence of these new wrinkles is a complete mystery to me. And don't even get me started on the problems with my neck.

Elasticity. You don't really think about it until you find it missing.

And how about age spots? What a strange phenomenon. At first, you might tell yourself that you're just sporting a nice new sprinkling of freckles, but come on, who are we kidding. And can somebody, anybody, tell me why women need extra nose hairs when they get older??? Is it a cosmic joke or something? Or did the Almighty think it would be helpful if women could relate with men on a new level?

Despite the fact that the degeneration of my body is a runaway train, I really don't mind getting older. I've always looked younger than my age, which I absolutely hated growing up. When you're 16 you don't want people thinking you're 12. That just isn't flattering. But when you're, say, 45, you don't mind it if people think you're 35. When I'm out with my granddaughter people are usually surprised to find out that I'm not her mother. They say, "You don't look old enough to be a grandmother." Well, if I had had my daughter at 20 (which I did not) and then my daughter had had her baby when she was 20 (which she did not), then I'd only be 40 when I became a grandmother, so what, I always wonder, is a grandmother supposed to look like? I know without a doubt that I don't look as young as 30. But still, I'm flattered, and I always say thank you for the compliment as I try to slowly back away from the person so they won't begin studying my face looking for signs of age, because I guarantee you they will find it.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

No Skirt, No Shoes, No Problem

That's me on the left, before I started wearing heels.

I am always caught a bit off guard when I go into someone's home and have to remove my shoes. I appreciate the rationale behind it - culture, cleanliness, keeping hardwood floors unscratched - but I need my shoes. My feet get cold.

One fine summer afternoon, many moons ago before I was married, I went to a dear friend's wedding with my young daughter as my date. Not being one gifted in the social graces and an introvert (not the same thing, mind you), I was nervous because most of the guests were people I'd never met. I find small talk difficult and exhausting, and I probably left the wedding knowing the same number of people as when I arrived. I prefer standing around mutely with my thumb hanging out of my ear.

The wedding was held at the home of the bride's brother, and he and his wife had just had their brand-spanking-new hardwood floors installed. I was all dressed up in a mid-calf length, silky, flowing skirt and electric blue silk blouse, with pantyhose and heels; a rare occasion indeed (the last time I wore a dress was when I got married 13 years ago). When I was told at the front door that I'd have to remove my shoes for the indoor ceremony in order to preserve the sheen on the floors, I panicked. On this warm summer day I wasn't going to get cold feet, but this was going to ruin the look of my ensemble. I needed those heels. If you're a woman, you know what I'm talking about. I'm only 5'4" and nobody has ever told me that my legs were my best feature. Sometimes heels are a girl's best friend.

So off go the shoes and, feeling awkward, I try to glide daintily into the living room in my stocking feet where people are mingling. Oh, how I hate to mingle! It requires too much of the dreaded small talk and I never know when or how to gracefully move from person to person. Anyway, I chit-chat with my daughter and a few of the people that I do know, the ceremony finally takes place, then it's off to the backyard, where I get to put my shoes back on, to do some more mingling and to wait for the reception to begin. My daughter and I have just so many things to talk about before it's obvious that we'd both prefer to go home and watch Beverly Hills 90210. But wait, here comes The Bride, all flushed with excitement and glowing. I tell her how happy I am for her (and truly, I was), but she wants me to have as good a time as she is having and proceeds to boldly point out a handsome man sitting at a nearby table. She informs me that he is single and came without a date and, come on, let me introduce you to him. Since the hole I wanted to drop into didn't appear, I had no choice but to go with her. After introductions are made and the effervescent bride has disappeared, it's apparent that Handsome Single Man is no better at small talk than I am. 

Somehow we disengage and I decide to go collect myself by finding the bathroom so I can powder my nose and so forth. As it turned out, the bathroom was in a part of the house without hardwood floors so my shoes stayed on my feet. As I waited outside the restroom for my turn, I was able to look out through the open door to the tables where everyone was finding their seats. Unaccompanied Single Man was facing my direction, but I don't know if he saw me standing there. If he did, then he might have noticed that as I raised my leg just slightly, shifting my weight from foot to foot, I somehow managed to catch the heel of my shoe on the hem of my silky flowing skirt. I didn't realize what I'd done until my foot was back on the ground and my skirt pulled down with it, showing parts of my support system that are usually left to the imagination. The biggest problem at that point was the fact that my heel was securely embedded in my hem which meant I couldn't pull my skirt back up, although I tried with enthusiasm. I squatted down to meet my skirt halfway and somehow got my heel disentangled, stood up, got my skirt back where it belonged, quickly surveyed the people outside to see if anybody noticed (if anyone did, they discreetly ignored me), then stood there trying to act as if nothing had happened. My sweaty, bright red face and drooping torn hem may have indicated otherwise, but I wasn't talking - small or otherwise. I was way past feeling ridiculous; I was feeling like a female version of Steve Martin or Dick Van Dyke.

My recollection of the rest of that evening is hazy. I believe I found a place to sit and tried not to move a muscle. I know that my daughter and I stayed just long enough so that we could leave without being rude. It was still light outside when we got home. We may have even made it in time to watch Beverly Hills 90210. Apparently, Single Man Without a Date didn't ask my friend for my phone number. He probably had serious reservations about my choice of undergarments... more of a Victoria's Secret man than JC Penney. Well. It's best to find these things out right off the bat.
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