Sunday, September 27, 2009

Full of Hot Air

balloons_5For the last 6 years, Pellissippi State, a local community college and now the college my daughter attends, has held a Hot Air Balloon Festival. I have never been. I wasn’t really sure it was something I would find interesting. I wondered what it involved but never more thought more than that.

Last Friday, the festival kicked off and my daughter called to see if I wanted to go with her friend Sara and Sara’s parents. Why not? We went and I had no idea. There was a great band playing, an area with activities for children, a rock climbing wall, tons of stuff to see, interesting food (had to have a funnel cake) and then . . . after dark there was the Balloon Glow.balloons_7

I knew they lit up the balloons, I had seen pictures. But I had no idea they did it to music and it went on for about 20 minutes. It was quite a beautiful and amazing sight.

They had one section where the balloon in the center from Pellissippi State began to rise and below it was a waving flag. Patriotic songs played and the balloons lit and faded in time to the music. I don’t usually enjoy the cheesiness factor of those kinds of things but it really brought tears to my eyes.

I am so glad we went and very glad we decided to go on Friday night as everything on Saturday was cancelled due to the torrential downpour we had all day. And I will be back next year. You should join us.

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

I Think I Can

Several of my recent blog posts and Facebook status updates seem to have involved the enjoyment of food leading some of you to ask if I am still dieting. Yes, I am. I will be “dieting” for a long time.

I still hate calling it a diet although I have no idea what it should be called. Diet seems temporary. Lifestyle change doesn’t really do it either. I haven’t found an appropriate term yet and don’t know that I ever will. This change to the way I eat will become normal at some point. It has to become a normal thing for it to work. I must pay attention to what I eat and the amount I eat, not as a diet but as a normal way of life. I think I can

Several friends have asked how much I’ve lost and I don’t really know except that my clothes, even my yoga pants, are getting too big. Many think it’s weird that I have no idea. As I stated in earlier blog posts, the scale is not my friend. I first said I would weigh when I could really tell a difference in my clothes. I did that after 4 weeks and I had lost 17 and a half pounds. That was a great motivator although I am quite aware that I will not have that much of a loss again. That’s an average of over 4 lbs. per week and it would be unrealistic to expect that to continue. I am shooting for an average of about 2 lbs per week. I will probably weigh again towards the end of the month and will let you know how it’s going.

Something is different this time and I don’t really know what it is. I have tried to figure it out but cannot really come up with why I feel differently. I am so laid back this time and feel no pressure to do this. But I really want to do it and have not really found it hard to do. Not getting on the scale allows me to keep from getting hung up on that up and down everyone experiences as a part of weight loss. My approach has all the hallmarks of failure according to the experts. I have little to no “support” – I don’t go to group meetings, my family is supportive but we don’t really talk about my “diet”, I don’t have a doctor helping me, I don’t even really have a plan. It’s my choice what I eat and I am choosing to stay within my calorie range and make healthy decisions. I have chosen to eat at restaurants and to enjoy, on a couple of occasions, home cooking style food that is laden with calories. But I make better choices at the restaurants by looking up the calories on on my cell phone and when I enjoyed biscuits and hashbrown casserole at the Loveless Cafe, I only at half of my food, stopping when I was full. And then the next day, I go right back to my regular healthy meals.

I have found that I love Greek style non-fat yogurt, especially strawberry and peach by Chobani. I am not a cottage cheese fan but have you tried Rachel’s flavored cottage cheese? Flavors like Pear Mangosteen or Cucumber Dill or Lemon Verbena Berry have got me hooked. I am eating more protein but still struggle with craving carbs. Laughing Cow Light cheese has saved me on more than one occasion when I really needed some mac and cheese. Lean Cuisine frozen entrees are my favorite lunch for work. Right now I am craving a turkey, romaine, and avocado sandwich on Ezekiel Bread that was mentioned and photographed by my online friend Becky, better known as Dyxie.

So give me another couple of weeks and I will update you again with a total pounds lost thus far. I can’t wait to hear it myself.

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

One Short Day

From the song, One Short Day from Wicked, The Musicalwicked-the-musical

Elphaba and Glinda:

Where so many roam to
We'll call it home too
And then just like now we can say,
Were just two friends
Two good friends
Two best friends
Sharing one wonderful,
one short...!

Have you seen “Wicked”? If you get the opportunity, go. If you have no idea what I’m talking about . . . “Wicked” is a play . . . a musical to be exact . . . about the Wicked Witch of the West (her name is Elphaba) and Glinda the Good Witch from “The Wizard of Oz”. But it’s the story of what happened before Dorothy and Toto came into the picture. Very funny and the songs are amazing.

My son and I love musical theater. My daughter, not so much. I heard “Wicked” was coming to Nashville and as soon as I could, I went online to purchase tickets. We have wanted to see this for a long time. Nashville is a 3 hour drive so we debated driving back after the show but the earliest that would get us home would be 3am. I just wasn’t up for that so on Friday afternoon I got a reservation at a hotel in downtown Nashville so we could walk to everything. We would leave Saturday around noon.

My son and I don’t get to spend much time together now. Our schedules overlap – he goes to work at 3pm and works till 11pm. Then he usually goes out with friends and comes home very late (or early as the case may be), falls into bed and sleeps until about 11am the next day. My schedule is more “normal”. I usually hear him come in at night after work and he tells me goodnight. That’s about it except for a little time on the weekends.

So this was going to be fun. Just me and him for a change.

When we arrived and checked in, I remembered that one of my favorite Nashville restaurants, Mambu, was close by. Mambu is an eclectic little restaurant with amazing food and a great atmosphere. It’s not as well known as other places but it should be. So we headed over for dinner and had a great time eating great food before taking a taxi to TPAC for the performance.

At intermission, I headed for the restroom and stood waiting for an elevator. Out of the elevator stepped my old friend Tammy and her husband, whom I had never met. We have been friends for about 15 years while she lived in St. Louis and Atlanta but I have not seen her since she moved to Nashville. We chatted for a second and then she said “Well, we will see you in there. We are in row L”. I said “We are in row L too”. She said “We are in seats 30 and 31.” I said “Don’t tell me we are sitting next to each other! We are in 32 and 33!” I was sitting next to her husband for the whole first act and had no idea! So we enjoyed the rest of the show together.

Have you ever been to one of my favorite places, The Loveless Cafe outside Nashville? If you aren’t aware of The Loveless, you are missing out. It used to be a small motel along the Natchez Trace. The cafe became famous for their southern cooking and their homemade biscuits. It has attracted many famous folks whose pictures hang on the walls. It has changed ownership several times, the motel has been converted into small shops and the cafe has been expanded but the recipes for the food (and the amazing biscuits) have been passed down so the tradition continues. So guess where we went for breakfast? It was just yummy and so much more food than either of could eat. But we tried. The biscuits are melt in your mouth with real butter and homemade peach, blackberry, and strawberry jam. It all reminded me so much of being at my grandmother’s kitchen table.

None of this was planned. Well, except for “Wicked”. And we had One Short Day of fun and being friends. It was the best!

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Friday, September 4, 2009

I Just Can’t Take It Anymore


Okay, I rarely talk politics on my blog. Not that I haven't shared my feelings on some things in the last few years but I just don’t care to make this blog about politics. I am very “middle of the road” when it comes to politics (and most everything else in life) but every now and then, something puts me over the edge. Today it was this article:

Obama Speech To Students Sparks Controversy

If you don’t feel like reading the whole thing, the summary is that President Obama has a speech scheduled on Tuesday that is directed at students, telling them to stay in school, work hard, and that they are responsible for their success in school. School districts have been encouraged to air it to students during the school day.

The controversy seems to enter because there are some who think Obama is forcing his “socialist agenda” on students or that he is trying to sway students politically. President Bush did something similar in 1991 and of course, was criticized by the far left. Many school districts are fielding calls from parents demanding their children not be forced to watch. Schools in many states have opted not to air the speech. This quote particularly incensed me:

"As far as I am concerned, this is not civics education — it gives the appearance of creating a cult of personality," said Oklahoma Republican state Sen. Steve Russell. "This is something you'd expect to see in North Korea or in Saddam Hussein's Iraq."

Here is my problem – this man is the President of the United States. He is our President whether we agree or disagree with his politics or his policies or his speeches. We elected him just as we elected George Bush and Bill Clinton before him. These school children get up and say the Pledge of Allegiance every day and he is the leader of the Republic that is represented by the flag. He should not be censored.

I am sick of the politics going on in the last few years but particularly in the last few months. The health care reform bill has brought out the crazies on both sides. People have avoided reading the facts and have listened to fear mongers and liars on both ends of the health care debate. Now this craziness over a speech to encourage kids to work hard in school.

I am truly an independent, not a Democrat or Republican. I voted for George Bush both times but had very little confidence in him. In fact I came to see him as ineffective and polarizing. But I condemned the far left for working against him to further their agenda. I voted for Obama and felt renewed and full of hope. I am still giving him a chance and watching carefully as it is so early in his presidency but he has his work cut out for him. And I condemn all of the far right that openly voice that they plan to ensure he fails. How is that good for America?

I long for the days when we respected our President whether we agreed with him or not. We taught our children not about liberal or conservative politics but respect for the office and our country and the process of being a part of a democracy. Now we have parents demanding schools refuse to show our President’s speech to our students. That scares me.

I am stepping down off my soapbox now. But I’m still sad.

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