Saturday, January 31, 2015

Resolutions and The Skinny Kitchen

Hey! I have passed the halfway mark on my resolution to lose 20 lbs. I've lost 11 lbs. so far, and I must say the 5:2 diet should take credit for it. Those two days of semi-fasting make the other 1200 calorie days feel like feasts, so the whole thing just gets easier and easier, psychologically speaking.

I'm eating a LOT more vegetables (above, veggie quesadillas) and learning how to manage portions in an all new way. Instead of just eating less of what I like, I'm cooking from scratch recipes that are INTENDED to be low calorie but delicious. Sounds impossible, right?

But no, I have discovered a website where almost every recipe is to my taste. A brilliant (and skinny) Californian named Nancy Fox has put together The Skinny Kitchen and she's discovered some secrets about low cal food.
It seems to me that MOST of her recipes are spicy. Not all hot spicy, but tasty with spices and sauces (like BBQ, steak sauce, OJ concentrate) instead of butter and eggs. Somehow it seems that spicy food doesn't leave you feeling hungry, even with small portions.

But what I really like about her recipes is that they are usually quick and easy to make, don't require tremendous culinary skills, and don't cost a lot. I've made her "Breakfast Quiche", "Lemon Glazed Chicken, Sweet & Sassy", "Outhouse Steakhouse Alice Springs Chicken made Skinny," "Taco Chili" and I'm about to make her Orange Chicken. I haven't had a disappointment yet!

The memoir is humming along, as is the Writer's Group, so 2015 is off to good start and Resolutions Not Forgotten!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Listen (poem)

for love. Especially when there’s none.
Nobody to make sweet tea,
balance biscuits on your plate.
No-one to hold you when you fall
and so you do,
rising with bruised, bloody face, missing teeth
No, No, No in your mouth.

So listen.
Hear your chest drumming,
that red toy soldier doing turn-abouts
in cadence with its fear.
Then hear the dogs panting,
their gaudy eyes wet with hope,
hanging tongues of hot, pink ham.

See that hummingbird
on the wild star jasmine?
A whispered oratorio,
swelling in your ears.

We’re so afraid to die. There’s nothing there to love.
Gods can’t see in the dark. Hear a void.
Silence is an empty wasp’s nest
lovelessness, death
the last bzzzzz before.

Sit by a buttercup. Tear open basil leaves.
Lie on the lawn when it’s wet.
Take a plum whole in your mouth.

Exhale. And listen.


Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Merger (poem)

You came from my body, that
much of the mystery is known. Not
sliding into life atwist on umbilical,
but irrupting, bit by gory bit.

I blinked and your startled eyes
fell into my palm. Against my thighs
I found gristly little limbs, totemic,
clinging to me like flotsam.

That night I drank dark Jamaican
rum and dreamed of a Botticelli
cherub in a palm tree. By morning
I vomited your beating black heart.

In my bath, gelatinous orchids floated,
your tiny pink and purple organs swam
like jellyfish. I fished your squalling
mouth from the yawing toilet.

Tiny bones shed from me like fossilized
acacia blooms. I gathered parts: coils of hair,
bone, sinew, flesh and sat upon the pile,
a dinosaur seeding an obscure genus.

But your fragments wriggled from me,
scattered in a frenzy of obstinance. Shitting,
screaming, slobbering, refusing to be whole.
Apathetic ears floated in the oatmeal.

You grew in your own way, disassembled parts
like tinker toys, seeking glue pots, sewing kits.
I opened my door, deciding to set you free, but
silver threads, spider-web strong, blocked the way.

They shimmered in filigreed knots, floated down
from darkness, riding on moonlight, a macramé
of mystical integrations. I held you close, grasped
silky strands and fashioned a lariat to hold us tight.

As if a spool, I wound the glitter around and about,
cocooning our form in chrysalis. Hearts slowed
until they beat as one, until mind and matter, soul
and deed merged. And then you birthed me.

I wrote this years ago as a bit of a prose poem, but it has changed over the years. This is the last version of it. I don't have children of my own, so I think the genesis of it was that I, (the product of an unhappy childhood,) ultimately birthed myself. Self actualization gone a little mad. :-)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Update on New Year's Resolutions

My resolutions are:

  • Lose 20 lbs. and get healthy
  • finish the memoir (again) (it's being rewritten in past tense.)
  • bring my bowling average (118) up to 150
  • keep my writer's group intact and productive
  • get some new paintings done, now that I have a studio again!

  • Okay, still doing the 5:2 diet, and learning all kinds of little lo cal recipes and foods I normally wouldn't be trying. It's actually NOT been difficult and since January 1st, I have lost 8 pounds! So am going to keep going on this diet. (those two semi-fast days make the 1200 calorie days feel like a pig out! It is great psychology and works for me. I don't SEE tremendous weight loss on my body (yet) but I have quite a bit of extra to get rid of before the actual body shape changes. Still, I'll celebrate my 8 lb. loss with a Sparkling Ice Zero Calories Strawberry Kiwi drink!

    The memoir and the writer's group are both growing and becoming really important to me. That group may be the catalyst for finishing this baby properly. They are a great group! And the memoir is shaping up into a much better read.

    Monday I bowled 128, 155 and 118. My resolutions are going for a 150 average, so at least I'm picking up the numbers a bit, in chase of that average. I went from an average of 118 to 126 with that big 199 score a week or so ago.

    Alas, between editing jobs, judging the Raligh Fine Arts high school short story contest, my job et al, I haven't lifted a paintbrush. That is still on the back burner. Time to get off the couch, Potato!

    Saturday, January 17, 2015

    The Invitation (flash fiction)

    Connie all chubby under Bloomingdale’s Better Sportswear says pink mouth overloud with; is that a smirk? that she and George bald corporate hubby saving grace is he likes poetry but unable to make eye contact with women who aren’t his wife are going to Georgia on my mind lately too, Ray Baby to visit Beth our mutual but I thought she liked me best friend who sent me a pricey porcelain mud hen in exchange for my chapbook of poetry for a big party, so big it’ll be held in the stables like a fucking mansion, that horse house, with more amenities than my little hut where Beth said all the horses will be Ho! Ho! hanging their heads over their stalls and part of the party staring into the eyes of a bunch of drunks and wondering how long before some asshole shoves stuffed olives in their mouths and of course catered by that what’s his name, you know the fairy with the tarts to die for? not remembering for a minute of course that my brother is gay nor that I know all about her allergy to everything with hair which is why she probably married George in the first place. How nice for you I say sand settling on my tongue like the Sahara Desert almost as dry as the time she told me over lunch that she had herpes and I said Check Please! A gorgeous day for a party I say moving her to the door noticing the dust that dances in the sunlight which is fodder for poetry but no, she looks and collects some gossip for the horse house about my housekeeping, goddamit! have a good time. Excess eyeliner trying to pull a Liz with violet contacts she squints at me I’m sure Beth wanted to invite you, sweetie, she says, but it’s couples, you know? and she finally hits me in the middle of my unmade empty bed and one single coffee cup washed over and over and the dog who gets hugged too often and I picture her bloodied under the hooves of a stallion crazed by a Manhattan poured in his ear and I feel my chest clinch with my faker’s face and the desert falls in a sinkhole the size of South Carolina Don’t forget your antihistimine, you cu*t and my door closes on her fast, fast enough that she doesn’t see me going down, down..

    (I do believe this was published somewhere a long time ago under the title "The Mud Hen")

    Found it!

    Fall 2002 "The Mud Hen" (flash fiction)

    Tuesday, January 13, 2015

    Dinner Guests!

    In the middle of my new diet, I decided to throw a dinner party for friends who like to eat my cooking. To stay true to the diet, I made shrimp fajitas and a wonderful Tangerine and Avocado Salad (on arugala & spinach greens) with Jalapeno dressing. (Epicurious) It was yummy.

    Here's a photo of the cook and one of her guests a table. A good feast had by all!

    Thanks, Dwight for the photo and to you both for the hearty appetites~!

    And another shot of Sugar, utterly enjoying the company

    Monday, January 12, 2015

    Red Shoes (poem)

    I have no interest in small stones now.
    My mind balloons around boulders.
    My hair is long now, the way you liked it
    Not pert in a complicated cut. The ropes
    around the rings sag. Nothing is the same.

    I carry pebbles in my mouth now. My tongue
    does not loll, my lips do not bleed in smiles.
    The wind is a compass for destiny--and belief
    sleeps in the bottom of a bucket with sand.
    I wish I had your faith or someone’s red shoes.

    Thursday, January 8, 2015

    Expectations Are the Issue

    I was thinking tonight on a book I just purchased (from a good review) but which I haven't received or read yet. It's called "Lonely: Learning to Live with Solitude." I'm not entirely sure what prompted me to order it, because loneliness is NOT one of my problems. I just sit outside myself, as if I was YOU, and I judge the solitary person I've become, the "loose fish" and I wonder if I'm not deluding myself, if I'm not in denial, if there's vast pieces of information or unconsciousness that I've just not absorbed into my waking world. In other words, I don't really yet fully understand, so I keep searching for whole answers. I'll likely die still searching for answers. That's in my DNA.

    But while pondering the book, the fear, the questions, I was at the same time exulting in the lightheartedness of my life. There are certain moments, very difficult to describe, when I look around at the very frugal (dismal?) trappings that are my outer life, but the rich and flowing internal life I have sometimes takes me to my knees in tears. Stimulated by art, music, film and literature, I sometimes just lift off this planet altogether. And I wonder if that's true of us all? See, I have NO idea what goes on in the innards of others. When I was young, I thought we were all alike. If I could understand you and your needs, I would understand my own. So I spent a great deal of time on your needs. Silly girl.

    What do I have to be so happy about? Well I don't even know where to begin. Animals live with me who are purer and more loving than any people. I adore them. I have my abilities (writing, painting, poetry, good business sense, logic, a good heart) to carry me over many barriers. Others do not all have such gifts. It is a new year and the older I get, the more appreciate how precious and short it all is, even though I have wanted on many occasions to end it. This is not a pep talk, I am trying to get to my deeper self here.

    I always think I'm hard on people; I don't much like people; (animals are MUCH nicer, believe me). But the truth is, I'm just more honest about them. Others feel the same or much worse, and lie about it. We are all liars when it comes down to it. But I am more loving and respecful of people than a lot I know. That was a surprise to me. Late in life surprise.

    The truth is: I have learned to live with solitude (if you can call this menegerie of cat and dogs solitude~!) and like it. Now I want to read what someone else thinks about it. Lonely? Nah. Not really. Am I aware of what I'm missing? Oh yeah! None of it good. Am I still in my head about romantic fantasies and happy endings? Maybe...just a little...but not a lot. I think I have a lot of courage that most do not. People who are thrust into my situation (due to widowhood or worse) may have a case, but I have no case. I am at choice. I chose aloneness. Not loneliness. I know it's possible for me to be otherwise, but people disappoint. Aloneness doesn't disappoint because one has low expectations of one's self when they're Lucky!

    Happiness really IS, I think, ALL about your expectations. ##

    Friday, January 2, 2015

    Steps to A Better Healthy Lifestyle (swiped from my own blog)

    Some of my thoughts written for a private blog on weight loss (the International Roly Poly 5:2 Diet blog). I found the laundry list on line, but when I sat down to really explore what each item on somebody else's list meant to me, I surprised myself. It proved to me that if you don't take weight loss/dieting/healthy regime resolutions seriously, you might as well not bother.

    I'm kicking off the 5:2 Diet today. Five days of 1200 calories and two days of 500 calories. I went to Publix and loaded up on fruit and veggies, and good low cal items that fit the healthy profile, instead of the diet profile. Skinny Kitchens website for low cal recipes has also been a huge help.

    We've all dieted a million times. Take it off and put it all back on. I myself know it's a matter of putting consciousness around food and weight. Awareness. Here's some steps I found in my reading for helping to focus (not only during the diet but afterwards). What surprised me is how these innocuous little steps took me into much deeper waters about myself. Losing weight is more than....losing weight:

    Your five-day diet plan is going to consist of low calorie and healthy foods. It might be useful to DECIDE that your five-day diet is going to be your NORMAL diet from now on. That will allow you to start planning really interesting menus that can sustain you in the future -- and not focus on short-term "starvation" plans that might lose the weight, but certainly could not sustain your body in the long haul. Form a new eating plan which incorporates a few of the no-no carbs and sweets for variety, but stays within a reasonable calorie range.

    Not many of us roly polys like exercise. It's a necessary evil, in my opinion. But the fact is that your body movement burns calories, and if you don't move your body, the calories coming in will just turn to fat. At any age, walking is a normal and healthy exercise. You don't have to go to a gym or run a marathon. For people in cold climates, an investment in a treadmill (they've come down in price over the years, and you can find used ones readily!) might be the ticket, IF you use it. I myself have two dogs and walking them is not only my duty, but it forces me to take care of my own exercise needs. I also bowl on a weekly basis. So if you enjoy a sport, EMPHASIZE it. Tennis, swimming, racketball, even jumping rope are all going to help.

    This sort of gets down to this blog, and what supportive friends (and family) can do for each other. If you can get help from others (and share the pain as we will here) it will psychologically boost your will power and resolve. If you keep your diet a secret, you will likely talk yourself out of it altogether at the first offer of a homemade brownie, because your hostess doesn't know your plan. Share it, and bring your obsessions right here to the website and share them too. We all are on the same page. Let's get healthy and svelte, and let's do it together!

    SET REALISTIC WEIGHT-LOSS GOALS We're only human. No matter how gung ho we might feel on January 2nd, it's going to take weeks and months to take off the weight we've accumulated over years. Even if you are not obese (and most of us are not) weight loss is difficult, so give yourself goals that are attainable and then make new goals as you go, instead of putting that impossible number out there to stare you down, defeating your spirit and your desire. I am going to set 10 lb. goals as I go, maybe even 5 lbs. and then renew the goals with every success. It will keep things fresh and more cause for celebration, more fun to graph and blog about.

    THIS is a tough one for me. I'm vain. I admit it. I want to look good. My mother was a beautiful and vain woman, and I swear she wore down with her lectures about the importance of looking good. In my heart, I have no such values, and certainly no belief in my own beauty. Au contraire. BUT the compulsion, (my mother's voice) is always with me, so the more roly poly I get, the guiltier I feel. My personal goal in all of this, and most especially at my age (!!) is to somehow switch that attention from how I look to how I feel, and to how healthy I can stay in my dotage. For me, this is a tall order but also goes along with the first step, normalizing eating patterns, so that health becomes a way of life. Better late than never, eh?

    Here's another biggie for me. I somehow have self-image all tied up with my self esteem. If I don't look good, I am not worth much. (oh thank you, mama). But I need to rethink self esteem, in a big way. In fact, I need to read some books and do some study on the subject. I am sadly lacking, and I am pretty sure it doesn't help my life in ANY of its facets, much less weight loss. Watch this space. More to come. My personal mission!

    Thankfully, this is not a huge issue for me, though I think it's an important step, since it is a huge issue for lots of people. Some people have to finish the whole pint of ice cream. They must. Some will eat the whole box of doughnuts. The entire box of Valentine's candy. In my case, I like to keep pouring the wine. I wouldn't say I binge drink, not by any stretch, but one glass always seems to lead to another as my inhibitions weaken. I would like to limit myself to one or two glasses on those occasions when my psychological frame of mind might want the whole bottle (think New Year's Eve?). The REASONS for binge eating or drinking are areas of our life that need our attention. Food and drink are the great avoiders. So by targeting binge eating, we are getting down to the health of our minds, not just our bodies.

    To get off my high horse for a minute:

    By the way....if you want to be BAD at a really low cal price (80 calories each for these snack size brownies) you won't be disappointed. These are my TREAT if I'm good all week. UNBELIEVABLY GOOD!!!