Friday, August 18, 2017

#441 Arsenic and Flying Cupcakes

For the past year or so, I have waged an ongoing battle with sugar.  I feel like I constantly think, or even say out loud, “I’m trying to limit my sugar.”  The usual response I get is, “You don’t have to worry about that.”  As in, you don’t have to worry about gaining weight. 

As someone who has struggled to gain weight all my life, it’s not about the weight.  I could eat junk food 24/7 and not gain any weight.  My struggle is that I know excessive sugar bad for me. 

I’ve heard that cancer feeds on sugar, but found it to be a myth.  However, there is evidence that consuming large amounts of sugar is associated with an increased risk of certain cancers.  Eating a lot of sugar can also lead to weight gain and increase the risk of obesity and diabetes, which may increase the risk of cancer. 

The American Heart Association recommends limiting your sugar intake to six teaspoons a day (100 calories) for women, and nine teaspoons a day (150 calories) for men.  As a reference, a 12-ounce can of regular soda has eight teaspoons of sugar, which is 130 calories. 

I don’t drink soda, but I do love sweets.  I grew up in a house where we always had dessert after dinner.  My dad (and his mother) loved to bake, so it was pie, cake, cookies and other treats.  All homemade, but still sugar.  And then there’s chocolate.  I try to limit those things, but sugar is everywhere!  It’s in pasta sauce, salad dressing (I now make my own), bread and cereal to name a few. 

The other reason I want to avoid sugar is that it ages you.  Sugar makes your insulin levels spike, which leads to an increase of inflammation in your body.  That in turn produces enzymes that break down collagen and elastin, resulting in sagging skin and wrinkles. 

I am realistic about wrinkles.  I have them.  I will get more.  But I don’t want to speed up the process.  I have been using facial moisturizer with sunscreen for years.  Now if I can just get a handle on the sugar.

Last week I enjoyed one of my favorite summer activities – the Indiana State Fair.  I’m not into all the fair food, but love the Dairy Bar and decided to get a chocolate shake.  It was huge.  As I ate it I thought, “I should only eat half.”  I ate the whole thing.  And felt bloated and guilty afterward. 

Last weekend I enjoyed another one of my favorite summer activities – a movie on the lawn at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.  It was Arsenic and Old Lace with Cary Grant.  Each person in my group brought food for a picnic before the movie began at dusk.  Julie brought cupcakes from the The Flying Cupcake.  They are huge with about 1” of icing on top.  As I picked mine, I thought, “I should only eat half.”  Again, I ate the whole thing.  I did leave a about half the icing on my plate (my reasoning:  most of the sugar is in the icing).  Thankfully, I didn’t feel ill that time, just slightly guilty. 

After the movie, I thought more about my sugar struggle.  I do well for a while, then fall off the wagon.  What would help me stay on?  I need to remind myself that in essence, sugar is poison.  And since the movie was fresh on my mind, I likened it to arsenic.  Every time I have a choice to eat the sweet thing or not, I need to remind myself that sugar is poison.  Extreme, but it might help. 

I know that moderation is the key to most everything.  And unlike arsenic, sugar won’t actually kill me and I won’t end up buried in a cellar with 13 other bodies (you need to watch the movie).  We’ll all die of something anyway, right?  Pick your poison.  

Friday, August 4, 2017

#440 Make Magic! Do Good!

This past July marked my fifth year volunteering for a week at The Hole In The Wall Gang Camp (see Post Nos. 351, 382, 405 and 428). 

This summer’s theme was Make Magic!  Do Good!  Camp is a magical place for these kids (and us adults too) and it does everyone good to get their yearly camp fix. 

I was assigned once again to a boy’s cabin.  Yee haw!  (My week’s theme was Wild West so that fits).  And again, they were in the 10-11-year-old age range. 

During Volley-O (volunteer orientation) they talked more about us helping to facilitate the campers making friends.  Sometimes we counselors get caught up in making a connection with a kid and don’t think about guiding them to make friends with others.  Hillary, the camp director, read a letter from a mom whose son had just finished his second year at camp.  Her son was not good at making friends and only had one friend at home.  Last year she arrived to pick him up from camp and he was happily playing with a counselor.  Which was great - he enjoyed his week at camp.  As he prepared to go to camp this summer he told her many times, “I’m not going to make any friends.”  What happened when she picked him up this year?  He was happily playing with another camper and was excited to introduce her to his “new best friend.”  We all got teary.  As Hillary said, we may not see much progress in that first week of camp, or even the second, but we are laying the foundation for progress in the future. 

One of my campers made this in woodshop.  

The song lyric was right in line for friend-making!  
I rebounded from my worst night sleeping in a cabin last year, to a great night in a girl’s cabin this year.  Not a peep from anyone and I actually did sleep. 

My co-volunteer counselors this year were Jimmy (who happened to be the camp CEO – no pressure there!) and Taylor.  My full-time counselors were Dante and Clay, and Bryan (“Coach”) and another Taylor (female).  They were all amazing and so great to work with.  I did see my two full-time counselors from last year – Cam and Will.  And I met Will’s dad, Bill, who was in Will’s cabin this year.  I was jealous of Bill – he lives close enough to drive and brought his bicycle to ride on his time off. 

Speaking of time off, this year I didn’t have any compelling place to go, like Mystic, CT, the Stamford, CT cemetery to visit Gilda Radner or Newport, RI and the International Tennis Hall of Fame.  Where to go, where to go…  I settled on Stonington, CT.  I read an online article on the best small towns in New England and Stonington was close by.  Actually, not far from Mystic.  I borrowed Jimmy’s car (again, no pressure with the CEO’s car!) and set off on a beautifully sunny morning.  The clincher with this town was the name.  Last year I spent a day in lovely Stonington, Maine so decided I would see how this town compared. 

duBois Beach
Stonington is lovely and historic, serving as the spot where the town defended the Royal British Navy during the Battle of 1812.  I wandered down Water Street until I came to duBois Beach.  From that vantage, you can see Long Island, NY to the right and Rhode Island to the left.  I sat and looked out to the sea for a bit.  So nice!  I browsed some shops on my walk back to the car and found a cute pair of flowy pants in Indigo Bleu.  Had lunch at Breakwater – a cod BLT.  I very much enjoyed my lunch and view. 

View from Breakwater
 Back at camp, I finished out the week with the fun boys.  They played lots of Monopoly Deal (I tried, but couldn’t quite catch on).  I joined in with some games of Spoons and War.  One of the boys learned how to throw a playing card.  It went far!  I tried but couldn’t quite get that either.  We played Silent Ball, and a new one for me – Silent Football (Mr. Commissioner Sir).  I also learned Dragon.  Too much to explain here, but fun.  For once my cabin didn’t play Mafia. 

I saw one girl from my yellow cabin from 2015.  She was part of the Hero’s Journey, which is a week-long wilderness adventure for those who have aged out of camp.  The Hero’s Journey kids came to the dining hall on the last day and I was so excited to see her.  I was also excited that I remembered her name.  She remembered me too.  It’s moments like this that keep me coming back to camp. 

Another successful week at camp, and I achieved my “Five Year Tote Bag!  Ahhhh.”  Yes, I could buy one at the gift shop, but where is the accomplishment in that?  Next up, the “Ten Year Blanket.” 

I tried my best to facilitate friendships this week.  Instead of me playing a game with just one camper, I’d make a point to include others to join in, or even get them to play a game together.  They seemed to get along well and I hope their new friendships carry on after camp.  I know I carry the love of camp and all of their smiling faces with me all year long.  

One of the volunteers watching the campers play in cabin circle

Thursday, July 20, 2017

#439 Bike Virginia 2017 (30th Anniversary!)

This year I participated in my fourth Bike Virginia bicycle adventure.  My first two were 2009 and 2010, then I took a hiatus and returned in 2014.  It’s a centrally located ride, which is helpful for my Florida friends, so I obliged them this year. 

I have a “love-hate” relationship with Bike Virginia.  I chose to do it in 2009 to visit friends in Charlottesville, which was the starting city.  I had visited Charlottesville before and it’s lovely.  That love quickly turned to hate when it took me around three hours to complete the registration process.

I loved the riding itself, the scenery and the history of the area.  I hated that there were 2,000 people and I never saw someone after meeting them once.  I hated the stifling heat.  I finally met two really fun guys and loved hanging with them.  Back and forth it went. 

So this summer I was back at it.  This time was more love.  Half the participants stayed at hotels so the camp sites weren’t as crowded.  The weather was perfect – mid 80s during the day and low 50s at night.  Most of our “gang” could go.  We had two camping sites and had our cars with us all the time.  And we had a visit from Steve’s friend Bruce, whom I met on my first ride. 

Buena Vista
I met Duane and Andy in Dayton and drove on to Buena Vista, which is pronounced “Byew-nuh Vista.”  (I don’t know why.)  We camped at Glen Maury Park for three nights.  Steve and Deanna brought a sun tent and a large camping rug.  We had a great set up! 

Saturday I rode 20 miles and then kayaked on the James River.  I enjoyed the five-mile route, but managed to miss the “get out of the water” area and went 15 minutes too far downstream.  Then I paddled an hour back upstream (not even all the way back) to a camp area where the kayak company could pick me up.  If I had to do it over, I would have continued downstream for four more miles to the next pick up area.  Paddling upstream is hard and not fun. 

Sunday I rode 20, saw the natural bridge and tubed down the James River.  Steve and Deanna joined me and it was a much more pleasant experience. 

Natural Bridge State Park
Monday morning, we packed our gear and drove to Staunton, which is pronounced “Stan-ton.”  (What is it with these town names?)  We stayed on the grounds of the former Western Lunatic Asylum of Virginia.  Creepy.  Steve, Deanna and I rode the 11-mile route.  We then had lunch with Bruce (he drove over from Richmond) and we had a fun afternoon exploring Staunton.  I hadn’t seen Bruce since 2009 so it was great to catch up and have a lot of laughs.  We all have super sophomoric humor and it’s awesome. 

Steve and I managed a quick workout at the Gypsy Hill Park
Deanna did her part as well  

Tuesday I rode 43 miles.  I had heard squeaking from my bike since Saturday (is it the crank?  Is it the pedal?) and after lubing with no change, I turned the bike over and inspected my pedals.  The right pedal was loose and Duane noticed that a piece of the end had cracked off, exposing a ball bearing.  We drove to Black Dog Bikes and I bought a new set of pedals.  I’m thankful I finally looked at it, as that could have ended badly.  We flew down quite a few hills and if the pedal had broken off on one of the downhills…yikes. 

The obligatory "Where's Steve" photo
One rest stop gave away puppies!  (kidding)

Wednesday I rode 23 and then we headed back to Dayton to drop off the boys.  I continued home, got to bed pretty late and went to work the next day. 

This trip makes puts the love tally at three and the hate at one.  I guess Virginia is for lovers, right?   

Weeee!  Let's do it again! 

Friday, June 9, 2017

#438 Summer of People

Spring is here!  Although it doesn’t feel like it right now.  As the weather warms (and cools) and I prepare for a fun summer, I am reminded of the fun I had LAST summer that I neglected to share on my blog.  I wrote it, but never posted it.  Here goes. 

One of my co-workers, Barb, designated the summer of 2016 as her “Summer of People.”  As a wife and mom, she spends most her time taking care of her family.  While she loves them dearly, but she doesn’t always have time to do fun stuff on her own. 

Earlier in the year we found out James Taylor (with Jackson Browne) was going to perform at Wrigley Field June 30 and we got tickets, along with her two sisters, her mom and a friend from high school.  Her sister decided to have a family reunion that weekend, which then turned into another concert (for Barb) to see Dave Matthews at Alpine, which turned into her family and another family having a vacation in Wisconsin the week after that.    

A couple other opportunities also popped up for her, continuing the Summer of People theme.  I was happy to jump on board for part of it.  

I followed Barb and her mom to Libertyville, Illinois June 30, met her sisters and then hopped on the bus with Johnny, our driver, headed to Wrigleyville.  Two hours later we arrived and all I can say is thank goodness for field seats!  We bypassed the long lines and got in our seats by Jackson Browne’s second song.  Whew! 

It was a beautiful night with beautiful music.  What a setting!  James usually sings “Shed A Little Light” at his concerts, but this time it held a different tone, with all the mass shootings and terror attacks around the world. 

My friends Keith and Denise picked me up Friday morning and we headed to Milwaukee for Summerfest.  More music and more people! 

Last year was Summerfest’s 49th year.  It’s a huge event - I was there for two of the 10 days.  It’s like a giant fair along Lake Michigan, complete with permanent food and music structures.  Most of the bands that play during the day are cover bands, with more “known” people playing in the evening.  Then there are the bigger names who play at another amphitheater for an additional ticket cost.  We stuck with the regular lineups and saw The Commodores Thursday night (foregoing Richard Marx and Taylor Dayne).  Friday we saw Blue Oyster Cult in the late afternoon and topped it off with Billy Idol at night.  Billy #$@#^& Idol!  (That’s how he introduced himself at the end of the show.)  At 60 he still rocks. 

I even got a little shopping in with Denise to break up the musical day.  Milwaukee is a fun city with a nice canal area. 

My only regret is that I missed the BoDeans (with Kenny Aronoff!) Sunday night.  We left Sunday morning around 10:15 a.m. and I later saw on Twitter they had a sound check at 10 a.m. Agh!  I had to be back Sunday night and my only consolation was that I saw the PERFECT BoDeans show last summer at the Rathskeller.  (Post No. 399) 

Sunday night was a belated birthday dinner for Krista with a group of our pals.  A great way to close out the weekend. 

Sometimes I can be a bit of a homebody, wanting to get things done around the house.  I must admit that before this trip I had thoughts of how much I could get done with three days off – painting chairs, cleaning this and that.  I finally told myself I could do that any weekend and this was the weekend of people and music!  I had a blast!  I got to hang out with current friends and make some new ones.  Then I got home and found that the weather in Indy had been rainy and cold.  Ha!  Summer of people wins! 

Here’s to the upcoming summer of MORE people and MORE fun!  

Thursday, May 18, 2017

#437 Water, Water, Everywhere

Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink. 
The Rhime of the Ancient Mariner
Samuel Taylor Coleridge

The first two lines of this poem popped into my head today.  I had just finished a conversation with a female friend (early 50s, also single) and one of our shared experiences was knowing many attractive men, yet not being attracted to them.  As I walked away, I thought to myself, “Water, water, everywhere.”  Or in this case, “Men, men, everywhere.  Nor any man to date.” 

I used to think to myself, “I never meet any men.”  I realized that was not the case.  I meet LOTS of them.  Funny, smart, attractive.  They are!  (Not just a nice personality.) 

I was talking to another married female friend about this very subject over the weekend and when I said I wasn’t attracted to them she asked, “What do you mean?  Do you not like their body?”  That made me laugh.  And it made me think.  It’s not necessarily their bodies.  I’m more of a face girl anyway.  I like a guy with a great face (eyes, smile, lips).  I care about the body but do not require a six pack or lots of muscles.  I’m good with reasonably in shape.    

Sometimes I feel a bit Seinfeld-esc because I start to get “picky”.  They run too stiffly.  They can’t shoot a basketball.  (They don’t have to have played basketball, but they should at least know how to shoot the rock.)  They don’t like sarcasm.  They don’t have a sense of humor.  They have terrible taste in music.  Or they’re not into any kind of music at all.  (One of my friends won’t date anyone who likes Dave Matthews.) 

Then there’s the height.  The elephant in the room.  I’m tall.  I like tall men.  I want a man who is close to my height.  I’m giving some slack here – I don’t require them to be taller than me.  Just close.  Is that so wrong?  “Why?” you may ask.  Why would I overlook a wonderful man who is 5’10”?  Because I don’t like bending over to kiss a man.  Because I don’t like bending over to hug a man.  Because I don’t want to feel like THE MAN.   

I know I’m limiting my dating pool.  But I like what I like.  One day a 5’9” man may come along and sweep me off my feet.  Until then I’ll keep looking for my tall drink of water.  

Friday, May 5, 2017

#436 @WeDineTogether

For the past several years I have taken bicycle vacations.  You ride, camp and eat with other cyclists for a week in all parts of the country.  My very first ride I went by myself.  I was ok on my bike during the day, but at breakfast and dinners, which were included in the ride cost, I always felt like I was in school again.  I got my food, looked around, and wondered where I was going to sit.  Even as an adult, I had a bit of anxiety.  I quickly made friends and each day found it easier to sit and talk with the other riders.

I recently saw a segment by my favorite CBS Sunday Morning reporter, Steve Hartman, on this very topic.  Students at Boca High in Boca Raton, Florida formed a club after they noticed other students sitting by themselves during lunch.  The young man who started the club had also been new and remembered how hard it was to make new friends.  It’s especially difficult in high school, where cliques are prevalent. 

The name of the club is We Dine Together.  As another club member pointed out, just letting someone know you see them and want to listen to them makes a huge difference in their lives. 

As I usually do when I watch Steve Hartman’s segments, I got teary-eyed.  Which was ironic since I had just put drops in my eyes for my dry-eye condition.  Fake tears mixed with real ones!

It just goes to show you that no matter what your age, we all need to feel that we belong and others value us.  And any act, however small it may seem, makes a big difference.  

Friday, April 28, 2017

#435 I Have Officially Lost My Mind

My memory is horrible.  I used to “never forget a face” but now I meet someone and a few weeks later I forgot that I met them.  Names of people I know suddenly fly out of my head.  A few weekends ago I walked out of Ace Hardware, smiled at a young woman and then saw my nephew walking 20 feet behind her.  “Hi Aaron!” I said happily.  Then I turned and looked back at the woman, who looked at me like, “Who am I, chopped liver?”  It was Aaron’s girlfriend.  Ooops.  I managed to quickly say, “I’m not used to seeing you by yourself.”  To my defense, I had only been around her twice since last October and one of those times she was wearing a shark costume for Halloween. 

Recently, I drove home from work and as I turned into my driveway, I spotted a box on my front porch. The box had L.L. Bean on the side.  I didn’t remember ordering anything from L.L. Bean.  Earlier that week I had perused a Land’s End catalog.  Or was it L.L. Bean?  (You start questioning yourself.)  Did I order something by mistake?  I had looked up things on my phone.  These thoughts went through my head as I pulled into my garage. 

I have had the rare instance where I’ve seen a charge on my credit card statement and not remembered it, only to look for the receipt and then say, “Ohhhhh.”  I wondered if this would happen.  And if it did, I needed to see a doctor. 

After I retrieved the box, I saw the shipping label.  It was from my friend Tammy who lives in Florida.  She told me a couple weeks prior that she would send me some clothes she was getting rid of (she’s 6’3”).  I laughed out loud.  I really thought I had lost my mind.  I’m glad to see that, for now, it’s still in my head.