Monthly Archives: February 2011

Minor Triumph

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Tonight I braved the Wii, and, even though it said, “Ooh!” in that pained tone I have come to dread, I found that I had already lost over a pound.  Now, that in and of itself is nothing to blog about, except that, additionally, my clothes are beginning to fit better, I noticed the skin around my jawline fitting better, my rings are looser, and the scale at work also shows me down since just last week.

The best part?  I haven’t been starving myself!

In fact, I’ve been pampering myself with great food – and lots of it!  This evening, I made cajun-style scallops, shrimp, and mahi-mahi, served with madras lentils, lemon-kissed broccoli, and carrots.  (And I get that for lunch, tomorrow, too!  Woot!) 

Last night, my dinner was so beautiful, I even did a foodie and took a picture of it: Mexican-style grilled chicken breast with red, yellow, orange, and green bell peppers, onions, black beans, a tossed spinach salad, fresh avacado, and salsa.  And I had that for lunch today. 

I think one of the absolute best parts of my menu plan is preparing enough at dinner to have the same thing for lunch the following day.  It has saved tremendous amounts of time – and calories – because I’m not rushed to fix my lunch, nor need I even really think about it, and I’m not tempted to go for fast food.  It’s already done as soon as I serve dinner – I simply serve it into my lunch container when I dole out everyone’s portions.

To be perfectly, brutally honest, I did cheat today.  I had a “reduced calorie” cherry limeade at Sonic.  And, no, it was not a small.

But even so, eating great food, feeling healthier, and slimming down?  Okay, it’s worth it so far.

Zanzibar

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Few things stump me faster than asking me to name something. 

Not just recall something’s name, but to actively name it, to bestow upon that thing a word-sound that will represent it forever.

Perhaps it was an early exposure to Ursula K. LeGuin’s Earthsea trilogy and Ged’s constant battle to name his nemesis.  Maybe it is simply the fact that I don’t have a real name.  Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but look at it this way: the only name I’ve ever been called by my parents (and subsequently by most people) is not my legal name; it’s a nickname (and one for which I’ve never been particularly fond at that).  In fact, when my given name is used, it feels as though I’ve just slipped on an old hand-me-down wool jacket – heavy, scratchy, dated, and fitted to someone else entirely.

Or it could be that names are fluid and change over time as people enter into different stages of their lives and associate with different people.  Perhaps that explains some of the appeal for me of fantasy authors whose characters assume different names throughout their lives, either by choice or circumstance.  Whatever the reason, the act of naming for me is difficult.

So, suffice it to say that when the very first question WordPress posed was what I wanted to name this blog, I picked something out of thin air and half-remembered phrases, just trying to get something on the first try that wasn’t already taken.  It worked.

The best I can explain my choice is that I seem to recall my father, in one of his storytelling modes years ago using the word Zanzibar. 

The day after I used it (and yes, this shows exactly how forward-thinking I am in my approach to most things), I looked it up. 

Turns out it was a fairly inspired conjuction of reality and whatever plane of existence my brain inhabits, for Zanzibar is part of the Spice Islands, exporting cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg, spices which infuse the everyday with a hint of sweetness and extra flavor.  That – that to me is the essence of life.

Death and coffee

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It’s so hard to write this.  A good friend of mine died last night and I didn’t even realize it until today.  We hadn’t known each other long – only since December – but the time we spent together was special.  She suffered a traumatic break from a simple fall on concrete, and that was enough.  Everyone thought she was fine, but I wondered at the time if it was worse than it appeared.  Turns out I was right.  Sometimes it sucks to be right. 

I know I experienced every stage of grief – from simple denial (No, she really couldn’t have fallen that badly!) to anger, to bargaining (Please, just bring her back!), to depression.  Writing this is my catharsis.  My attempt to bring some closure, to find some way of accepting the fact that she is gone.

And the worst part?  The absolute worst part of it all?  It was my fault.  I was holding her.  I had too much to carry, and I dropped her.  And when I heard her plastic hit the driveway, I knew that I would indeed be lucky if she survived.  But alas, my travel coffee mug died.

I didn’t find out how serious it was until this morning at work when I filled her up with coffee, and the seepage began.  Her cheerful little snowmen all turned beige, and the brown spread alarmingly fast around the entire design.  When I looked closely, I saw the crack inside and the chipped plastic outside.  I thought it would be okay, that maybe she could live with me as a damaged but usable travel mug, hobbling along beside me, but no, when I went for the last sip, I found that she was retaining fluid.  There was no hope.  Ceremoniously, at lunch, I said goodbye and gently laid her to rest in the trash can.

Then a thought occurred to me – why, that cannot be the only travel coffee mug in the world!  I could buy one on my way home!  I can find a replacement

But is anything ever that easy?  No, no, of course not.

First, I tried Target, but all the mugs were overpriced and unattractive.  I even stopped at Starbucks, but I did not care for the design of the mugs or the bizarre method of accessing the coffee once it was consigned to its traveling prison.  Then, I realized I had no options left.  I had to face the land of the damned.  I had to go where I had forsworn ever going again.  I went to Kohl’s.

Now, for some people, Kohl’s is a mecca, a shopping paradise.  For me, Kohl’s is a labyrinthian enigma.  I do not understand the constant state of sale.  The 40% off of almost everything nearly all of the time?  Why not simply price the merchandise at the actual sales price?  Why make it into a guessing game?  Are people really that gullible that they believe that the merchandise is really worth the sticker price?  I weep for humanity.

However, the compelling piece of information I had was that my mug, my beautiful, wonderful, perfect mug, had come from Kohl’s.  Therefore, into the soul’s abyss I ventured.

Alack!  They had but one – one! – remaining travel mug, and it, too, was cracked.  And even if it hadn’t been cracked, it was but a stubby, squat substitute for my tall, slender, curvaceous friend.  Despair wrenched my heart as I wandered the aisles, searching in vain for the mugs I knew must be there.  But no, there would be no new travel mug for me today.

So, I end today in mourning for my morning companion.  She was true, she kept my coffee hot, and she had the cutest little way of closing her lid to keep from spilling. 

Goodbye, dear friend!  I will miss you!

Laundry, singing blueberries, and other signs of the apocalypse

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My 7 year-old says to me today, “Mommy, I really think we should spend some time today doing laundry, not just fun stuff.”  And that was only one sign that today was not your typical Monday.

Having President’s Day off almost made up for getting to sit in painfully tedious meetings on Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.  On the atypical side, I got to read the paper (not just half of the comics), walk the dog, get laundry and dishes done, and brave Wal-mart for shopping (which was strangely empty today).  I also managed to wave a fond farewell to a hefty chunk of change at the Borders going out of business sale, loading up on books for the kids.  And on our way home tonight, there was no traffic.  Zero!  Definitely the end of the world.

Food highlights of the day?  Steak and eggs with asparagus spears for breakfast.  Can I say how much I really adore asparagus spears in warm egg yolk?  The presentation of the asparagus’s green in contrast with the white and yellow of the eggs always puts me in mind of the ritzy hotels.

For lunch, I fell on the rest of that chicken caesar salad from yesterday, topped off with a handful of forbidden fruit… blueberries.  After a day and a half of no sugar, I could feel the blueberries singing in my mouth with each bite.  It was so strange, but just a few days ago, those last blueberries had seemed so tart, and today they were unbelievably sweet.

Snack – hot turkey sausage links and cold, crisp carrots.  Strange combination, but it sure worked.

Dinner was a masterpiece, and I can only be grateful that I get to take leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch.  I cubed boneless pork chops and grilled them in a dash of olive oil with a splash of Worcestershire sauce, throwing in peeled and cubed butternut squash, a small mountain of dried cranberries, and a liberal shake of cinnamon.  Oh, ambrosia.  If it really was the apocalypse, this would be the entrée on which to end it all.  To round out the meal, dark red kidney beans, steamed zucchini, and yellow squash all made a colorful appearance.

If I could only focus on that last meal, the whole day is put into a rosy perspective, and I can forget all the frustrations and release the mental poisons of dealing with… well, all the stuff I’m sure I will get to eventually.  After all, it’s only day 2.

Gotta write

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I’ve been saying it over and over: I’ve got to start a blog.  It’s not for anyone else.  It’s for me.  It’s just a way to help me get it all down, to get it out of my head, to let it go.  Yes, it’s my “pensieve.”  Hopefully, I’ll see some patterns emerge from all the memories I extract from my grey matter.

So, what was the kicker?  What made it happen?  Was it frustration with my parents?  Was it a brilliant experience as a mother?  A wife?  A dog owner?  A cat-owned-by?  No.  Just a change of diet.  Oh, heavens above how I loathe that word… diet.  You know the first part is die.  It’s truly a death.  A death to unhealthy habits?  One can only hope. 

And the diet is?  Well, it’s just wishful thinking.  I heard from a coworker about Tim Ferriss’s http://www.tiny9.com/u/Tim_Ferriss
menu for weight loss, and I looked it up.  I figured… might as well, you know?  It’s not as though what I’ve done up till now is working. 

So, the plan is thus: a slow carb diet.  Okay, so it’s almost completely opposite what I would normally gravitate toward.  Eek! I just used the word “gravitate” to describe myself! Aren’t planet-sized objects just about the only things that are supposed to generate their own gravity? Yikes!  Basically, it’s proteins – beef, chicken, pork, and eggs.  Okay, and I added in fish, because I feel unbelievably pampered when I eat salmon – vegetables, and legumes (as in, beans, lentils, and um, beans). 

That’s it: protein, vegetables, and legumes. 

Oh, man, this is going to be hard.  No rice?  No macaroni?  No couscous?  No spaghetti?  No warm french bread?  This had so better be worth it!

Bless me, diet, for I have sinned:

Today – rocky start – I stayed last night at a friend’s house, and she promised the girls McDonald’s for breakfast.  So, I could have had just eggs, but yeah, no, I shared the Big Breakfast with Hotcakes! with my daughter.  She had the hotcakes, and I had the biscuit, sausage, and eggs… and a bit of the hashbrowns. 

Lunch – much better! – I grabbed a chicken ceasar salad from Costco, skipped the ceasar dressing, and threw on some ranch-style beans instead.  (Bonus – those salads are so big, it will also be lunch tomorrow!)

Snack – a 35 calorie rainbow popsicle.  Honestly, it would have melted if I hadn’t put it out of its misery.  The poor little thing.

Dinner – Grilled Salmon with madras lentils (sounds and looks like goo from under a wet rock, but was actually delicious), broccoli and carrots.  Now, if you plan to start a diet, always do it with salmon.  It’s so hard to feel martyred when you fork into a salmon filet. 

And, just to make life that much more fair, everyone else had Girl Scout cookies after dinner.  That’s right: Lemonades, Shout Outs!, Thin Mints.  Me?  For dessert, I started a blog.