Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Prodigy Returns

Looks like the new helmet I sent his way is crampin' this little skateboarder's style. (Refresh your memory here.)

Hey, it's no walk in the skate park to ollie cross-eyed, but if anyone can pull it off, Bryce is that guy! 

Assuming he eventually manages to tear his gaze away from the "duck" helmet, that is...


Wearing this thing is a tough gig!

But it's all good...

Friday, January 30, 2009

Some Surprises Are Like Grand Prizes!

Happy days are here again! 

(Or at the very least, funny ones.) 

Guess who's back, Jack? 

(As in:  back at it...back to the land of the living...back in the saddle again...back from the USSR...back to civilization, and BACK IN ACTION...)

It's the one...the only...

One of my very favorites.

Haven't heard about her yet? Well, she's the blogger who was cracking her readers up on a regular basis until the day last November when her young son managed to erase her entire blog singlehandedly. Yessiree. All by his little lonesome. (Quite a feat, too.)

It was pretty excruciating at the time, but Mary has now regrouped and is backety-back-back.

So go have a look. If you haven't tried it, you'll like it.



Thursday, January 29, 2009

Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs and Muscle Weakness

Let me begin with a disclaimer: I am not a doctor. The story I have to tell is purely anecdotal, but I think it needs to be told. While I absolutely would not want anyone to base his/her decision on our experience, I also wouldn't want to deprive any person of being able to take this additional piece of information into account. Anyway, here goes...

About five years ago, my husband was in excellent health. He went to the doctor, at my urging, because three of his friends had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. I was concerned and wanted him checked out. The doctor examined him thoroughly, pronounced him free of prostate cancer, and discovered a cholesterol problem. He immediately recommended medication to address this condition, and my husband began taking that medication. Normally, a statin would have been the drug of choice, but because my husband's liver enzymes were slightly elevated, the doctor settled on Zetia, Welchol, and Cholestyramine. At the next testing, my husband's liver enzymes were fine, but the doctor elected not to change to a statin because the Zetia, Welchol, and Cholestyramine had already lowered his cholesterol considerably...and they were purported to have fewer side effects.

Within two or three months, my husband began to complain of one-sided weakness in his front-thigh leg muscle, the one that enables him to lift his leg. At first, it was mild, but over the next two years it progressed to the point where he had difficulty climbing stairs. He couldn't jump well when playing basketball. He even had to buy a pair of hiking poles in order to manage a fairly ordinary trek in the mountains. This was pretty troubling for him, because he's always been both an athlete and an enthusiastic outdoorsman. Previously, his excellent stamina had been complemented by unusually strong leg muscles. Now, one of his legs was failing him. Did he have a degenerative disease of some kind? Were spinal chord problems affecting a nerve? (He had been in a car accident some time before, and we wondered if that might be a factor.) 

When he went to a neurologist to find out, an electromyogram (EMG) showed that there was considerable nerve damage. Furthermore, that muscle did not respond correctly to nervous stimuli. Even worse, the problem was progressing down his leg and the foot was becoming weak as well. My husband had also begun to feel that the other leg was becoming less strong. Equally disturbing was the fact that I could visually note the difference in the musculature between his two legs...and his arms seemed to be losing some muscle mass, too.

My mind kept going back to the fact that he had been just fine until he went to the doctor. At first, we would say this to each other as a joke. "Gee, sure glad you got yourself to that doctor!", etc. But after a while, the joke didn't seem so funny. I began to wonder if there could be a connection between my husband's issues and the medications he was taking. I looked online and saw many anecdotal accounts of people experiencing muscle weakness with statins, but not with other cholesterol-lowering drugs. However, I remained suspicious. Maybe, I theorized, what constituted a healthy level of cholesterol differed from person to person...just like women have differing levels of hormones. In other words, what was normal for one might not be normal for others. Perhaps there was some kind of individual set-point for cholesterol, and when you got below that set-point for your particular body, nerve health was affected. (This remains just a theory of mine...and has no basis whatsoever in scientific study, by the way.) It just occurred to me that maybe these drugs had lowered Dave's cholesterol to what was a good number for someone else, but a bad number for him. (Or I'm willing to consider the other option...that the number was good, but the means of achieving it was harmful.) Either way, things weren't going well.

I mentioned my idea to my husband, whose doctor assured him that his cholesterol-lowering medication could in no way be the problem. Nonetheless, we were sufficiently worried (and suspicious) that we decided to have him go off all medications for three months to see what might happen. I think you can guess. My husband's strange symptoms, which his highly recommended neurologist had been unable to diagnose (other than there being "considerable nerve damage"), disappeared completely.

Today, about a year later, he is entirely back to normal. We now address the cholesterol with diet, exercise, and natural supplements...including beta sitosterol and omega-3 fatty acids. 

I don't profess to know what others should do about taking Welchol, Zetia or Cholyesteramine, but I am personally convinced that one or all three of these non-statin, cholesterol-lowering medications my husband was taking created his muscle weakness. So patient beware...and be aware.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

My Uneasy Honeymoon with Obama

Let me begin by saying that I didn't vote for Obama. There were things I liked about him, but there were things that made me nervous, too. Some of the things that made me nervous I can articulate...his obvious attraction to bigger government as a means of solving our country's ills, for one. The mere idea of putting federal employees in charge of medical care for our citizens, for instance, made my blood run cold. Can you imagine the bourgeoning bureaucracy? The time-honored inefficiency? The wasted tax dollars? (Think U.S. Postal Service...) Let's face it. The dreaded HMO experience would pale in comparison.

Other things that worried me about Obama were a little harder to define, but his relative lack of a record was high on my list, along with his early ties to a few less-than-impressive characters. Yes, I had the effrontery to be bothered by the ranting Reverend and the far-left friends from Chicago, even though MSNBC blithely reassured me, in its inimitably unbiased way, that my concerns were unfounded. 

Still, taking all of these things into consideration, as well as my political leanings, I seriously considered voting for Obama. He was calm, intelligent, reasonable, and well-spoken. He represented someone who might be able reach out to Muslims in a way no other president ever had. He seemed like he might be a good negotiator, both inside and outside of our country. 

The thing is, I wasn't overly enamored of McCain as a candidate either, though I did admire his obvious devotion to our country and felt pretty comfortable with his record and his past willingness to act in a bipartisan manner. I did not admire his choice of a vice presidential candidate, however, nor did I feel that his advancing years were in his favor. I also worried that he was not, by nature, diplomatic enough to enhance foreign relations at such a dicey time in our history. He was surely no great shakes at talking about the economy, though I hoped he would bring in excellent advisors and really listen to them.

But McCain lost, and my point is that when President Obama won, I was neither thrilled nor disappointed. I was happy in some ways and unhappy in others. In short, there was enough ambiguity to leave room for an uneasy honeymoon, and that's where I am today. I want Obama to succeed. He's the president of our country, and I am hoping against hope he'll be a good one, because we need a good one. In fact, we need a phenomenal one right about now.

Today, my reviews are mixed. I like the way he's gotten right down to business, the way he handles and presents himself, the way he treats his family. I like that he's at least going through the motions of crossing the aisle to involve Republicans. (The jury is still out for me on whether "going through the motions" is all he's doing...but for now, I'm keeping an open mind...even though he chose Rom Emmanuel, a highly partisan fellow, for his chief-of-staff.) I'm as surprised as anyone to say that I like his choice of Hilary Clinton, whose foreign policy chops impressed me during the campaign. Besides, she's smart as a whip.

As for policy, so far I support President Obama's efforts to improve our image in the Middle East, including giving his first formal interview to a Saudi Arabian TV station. That statement of respect certainly can't hurt anything, and might even make a few inroads. I also approve of George Mitchell having been dispatched to address the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. The world can't just ignore it, and that means we can't either.

I don't support the "economic stimulus" package, at least, not in its present form. I sincerely hope that Obama will listen to Republican input with an open mind today, because there is not enough direct stimulus in that package to get things rolling again. If we're going to spend big money here, let's at least spend it effectively. (Contraception, for example, is a bit of a stretch for me.) I'm all about tax relief for small business owners (otherwise known as "job-makers"), and I'm completely against tax relief that results in tax refunds for those who haven't paid any. Most of all, I want to see some major oversight by a real stickler to make sure our tax dollars go where they are allocated. (The bailout funds to date seem to have been poorly monitored, if at all.) That drives me crazy.

My biggest fear about Obama is that he will turn out to be too much of an idealist and not enough of a pragmatist. Usually I like idealism. I still do, in fact, but a president must have an overriding sense of and commitment to what will actually work. When you're dealing with cynical world leaders (or self-serving senators, for that matter), you have to at least be able to put yourself in their shoes...even if you wouldn't want to stand in them. You have to be able to perceive their motivations and machinations and then make a practical decision about what you (and the country) can live with. Hopefully, what you can live with will be something that works.

I love my country, and I want the best for it. Time will tell if Obama's presidency will be something I can live with. To tell the truth, I guess that depends a lot on whether Obama's presidency turns out to be something that works.

Monday, January 26, 2009

A one-size-fits-all cure for what ails you

I had no idea. Seriously. It never even occurred to me...And if it had, I wouldn't have believed it! Why? Because it's altogether too easy...too simple...too eminently do-able.

Here's the deal. It's walking. That's right. Plain old in putting one foot in front of the other and moving your body down the street. Granted, it has to be at a brisk pace, but the previously unknown (by me) benefits are amazing!

How did I find out about these benefits? Ah, good question. From the AARP magazine, of course. Apparently they are experts on keeping us old folks ticking even after we take a big licking from all sorts of age-related maladies.

The thing is...the article applies to other-than-old people, too. In fact, if you start all this while you are young, you may never even grow old! (That doesn't sound quite desirable, does it?) Maybe I need to rephrase that statement, minus the threat of an early death. heehee

At any rate, the point is...walking does wonders for your health, no matter what your age. Those who walk briskly for half an hour each day increase their aerobic capacity by 19% and their physical function by 25%. They decrease their risk of disability by 41%.

But that's not all. They lower their risk of heart disease by 32%, stroke by 33%, Altzheimers by 40%, arthritis by 46%, and diabetes by a whopping 71%! They reduce their risk of breast cancer by 18% and colon cancer by 31%. They also increase their cancer survival rate by 33%.

Each half-hour walk burns 150 calories, which amounts to a loss of 1.3 pounds monthly and 15.6 pounds per year, without even dieting. This kind of activity also keeps osteoporosis at bay.

What's more, if you suffer from depression, walking will result in a 47% reduction in your symptoms.

All it takes is one 30-minute walk each day. And guess what? I'm going to be taking one. And that's a done deal.

Classic Walking

©1994 by Susan Noyes Anderson, Mobius

My body is electric when
I'm walking to Vivaldi;
I shed years and pounds in minutes
moving to Rossini's beat.
Every step inspires new feeling;
I am on my way to healing,
floating on a starry ceiling
when Ludwig directs my feet.

I go marching with Franz Schubert;
Haydn is my soul's delight.
With Tchaikovsky I'm in heaven,
I could stroll with him all night.
When I trip the light fantastic
with Wolfgang, it's orgiastic.
Walks with Bach are more scholastic,
for the subtle appetite.

I'm a mover and a shaker,
overcome with joie de vie.
Gliding down the street with Brahms
is sheer symphonic ecstasy.
What an unexpected treasure!
I could not begin to measure
the unmitigated pleasure
"classic" walking brings to me.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Prodigy

Apparently little Bryce is a skater dude at heart. (I think Zumiez will be carrying this blue, one-piece coverall soon...under the Volcom label, of course.)


PS. Don't worry, the helmet is in the mail! 

PPS. For others of you with daring toddlers, I found a good one for ages 12 months and up, right here. (Free super saver shipping, too.) The Giro helmet gets high safety ratings and is even adjustable! 

I chose the red one with the ducks, by the way...

Friday, January 23, 2009

We Have a Winner! But it wasn't easy...

First of all, I want to thank my very dear blog friends, who spent valuable time and effort to search out the perfect song for me. You did your job too well, because I've been listening to them all over and over again trying to make up my mind which one I like best. In the process, I have come to love every single one of them and have added them to my collection.

As I said, it was a close call, but I've finally figured out that Shine, by Rosie Golan, is my most favorite. I had never even heard of this artist before, which is surprising because I thought I was aware of most of the folk singers on iTunes. Somehow I missed Rosie, though, and I'm glad to have found her at last...all thanks to Natalie, the lucky winner (heehee) of my 100th post anniversary giveaway. (Maybe even better than Shine, by the way, is Hazy. That one really does it for me in a big way...)

This is the part where I thank those of you who read my blog and say that your inexplicable (but oh-so-warmly welcomed) interest in my daily thoughts and doings means more to me than I can express. Whether you submitted songs or not, your comments are always music to my ears (or in this case, eyes). And visiting your blogs is one of my most enjoyable pastimes!

As for you, Natalie, I am ready whenever you are. Just send me the occasion and information and a suitable poem will be yours! (By the way, the offer has no time limit, so if  you want to save it for something in the future, feel free.) I will be happy to write it any old time you need it...

Thanks again, to all of  you. You have made my 100th post anniversary most memorable.  


Thursday, January 22, 2009


Okay, this is  it...The 100th post! And it's about...itself!

Yep, my 100th post is about my 100th post. Or in other words, it's about nothing at all...except the fact that you now have until 11:59 pm (yep, that's tonight!) to enter my custom poem giveaway contest. All you have to do is leave the best song I've never heard in the comments section below.

As a sample of what you'll be getting, here are the first and final three verses of the last wedding poem I wrote. The middle verses (too many to list here) use material gleaned from family members to tell about the bride and groom's  lives. Some of those verses are funny and some are sentimental. (I like to begin and end the wedding poems on a serious note, but there's a lot of teasing and fun in the body of the poem.)

Tomorrow, X and X will tie the knot.
We’re here to celebrate their wedding day.
But first, we want to celebrate their lives,
and mark some milestones along the way.

What better time than now to introduce
the very pair that brought us here tonight?
As friends and family, here to share their joy,
we’re wishing them a future that is bright.

And every wish we make means that much more
when coupled with the story that is theirs.
So, thanks to both their moms, we’ll make them squirm…
and blush…and (why not??)…fidget in their chairs.

(skipping now to the end of the poem)

We end this night with wishes, hopes, and dreams––
expressed directly to the two of you.
Our wish is peace, wherever you may go.
Our hope is happiness in all you do.

Our dream for you is simple: Build your dream.
Create the life you truly want to live.
May every choice you make bring joy and faith.
May everything you choose, rich blessings give.

Tonight we honor you and lend our love
to yours as you prepare to pledge your hearts.
May you hold each vow sacred and receive
the priceless gifts that true marriage imparts.

Here's another type of custom poem, written for a girl who was graduating from high school:

X is a life force; she walks in the room
and the light and the climate start changing.
With all of her colors a rainbow looks drab,
and her talents are vast and wide-ranging.

She’s an artist. Creating’s like breathing for her.
It just happens; it’s involuntary.
Pencil, pen, charcoal, brush, needle, thread, words.....
She’s eclectic. And extraordinary!

But X is far more than her art; she’s a friend
to her parents, her siblings, and peers.
Relationships matter to X. She is known for
soft shoulders and listening ears.

She’s a gymnastic coach who may soon be a nanny.
(Those kids would be in for some fun!)
She can fix up some brownies or fix up a car.
Makes no difference.....She’ll get the job done.

In the future, she’s looking at fashion design––
or interiors.....even fine art.
With so much ability, sometimes it’s hard
to pick one thing that speaks to your heart.

But whatever she chooses, wherever she goes,
XX XX will make herself known.
Our love travels with her as she now embarks
on creating a life of her own.

Anyway, that gives you an idea of the prize.....

Thanks for playin'!


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Gift of Peace

I'm an ocean-lover, but Brooke Fraser's beautiful hymn and its accompanying views of the sea would bring peace to anyone. The artistry of this composition profoundly affects me.

That's why I had to share it.

(Be sure to scroll down and "mute" my playlist before you click on the video.)

©1994 by Susan Noyes Anderson, The Lyric

What is this thing that draws me to the sea?
What passion rises with each white-capped swell
to churn upon a watery carousel
and break in frothy secrets, spilling free?
The foaming, reckless water quiets me
in darkly hidden places, guarded well,
probing the inner reaches of a shell
whose pink walls glow with bright intensity.
I love this ocean pounding on the shore,
untamed and unashamed in all its might;
It rolls and crests and dives and rolls some more,
unbound by man and law and grief and fright.
The sea engulfs me, draws my answering roar,
sends waves of darkness crashing into light.

Hope you enjoy my 99th post. If you want to participate in the giveaway, time's a-wastin'!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Home again, home again, jiggety-jig

Just got back from taking a quick trip to Utah for a family wedding, which was held in a beautiful old church building that has been converted to an even more beautiful wedding facility. It's called The Old Meeting House, and if I lived in or near Salt Lake City, I'd use it as a venue in a minute. (Unworthy blogger that I am, I'm ashamed to report that I took no pictures, but the place definitely has that old-time feel with lots of high ceilings and graceful arches and beautiful chandeliers.)

The wedding decor was simple and elegant with bridesmaids in black, groomsmen in black and white, and roses in red and white. Perfect, I thought, for a winter wedding.

Even better, of course, was the fact that most of my husband's family was there. I'm sure the bride and groom felt love and supported, which is as it should be.

As for me, I got to spend a lot of time talking to people I hadn't seen for a while, including nieces, nephews, and friends of my children. I also got to see all of their children, which is always a good time. I even managed to meet up with my own sister, my nephew, my niece and her husband, my brother-in-law (up there to take in the Sundance Film Festival), and two of our dearest friends. I thought all of this "meeting up" was a mini-miracle, considering the fact that the wedding was on my husband's side, not mine.

All in all, it was a pretty satisfying weekend...and I haven't even talked about my travel companions, who were the best: my husband (of course), my second youngest son (the only one of my kids who could get off work), and my husband's brother (a delightful maniac from way back.) We stayed with my husband's sister and brother-in-law (parents of the groom), and their home and hospitality are always warm and welcoming. I was even given a beautiful fresh water pearl necklace and earrings for writing a wedding poem for the happy couple!

(Of course, you could be the owner of one of these wedding poems yourself...or any kind of poem for any kind of occasion, if you just take part in Granny Sue's famous giveaway. Remember, this is my 98th post, and you only have till midnight the day of the 100th post to submit your song for the competition!)

But back to my most enjoyable weekend...

While this little getaway featured everything from witnessing a wedding to:   visiting a family gravesite...sitting around the dinner table chatting up relatives I don't get to see nearly as often as I'd like...hanging out in a pool hall...discovering an old used book store I could have spent several days investigating...AND way too many more things to of the best parts of all was returning to Northern California. Every time I go away and come back to this beautiful place, I appreciate it more.

Vacations are great fun. They are also great at reminding you just how much you love being home.  =)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Coming up: 100th Post Anniversary Giveaway!

Good old Granny Sue of Sue's News, Views 'n Muse is hereby announcing her 100th-post-anniversary giveaway! You happen to be reading the 97th post, so...needless to say...the big day is almost here.

What will the old gal be giving away, you might ask?...
And she will gladly answer: A POEM!

(She might even tell you about it in first person singular.)

::::::officially dropping the royal "we"::::::

Yep, it's true. I will be giving away a custom poem to whoever hooks me up with the best song that I've never heard before. The one caveat is that I have to be able to purchase the song on iTunes, because I'm lookin' to beef up/refresh my playlists.

In return for calling the winning song to my attention, your custom poem prize will be created, for whatever occasion you request, by little old me. All you will need to do is send me the details about the person or couple you are honoring, and I will turn their information into a poem the likes of which you have never seen! (I will make it funny, sentimental, or a combination of both, according to your wishes.) In short, I will deliver the goods and make that special occasion even a little more special than it already is.

And all this for just one *heads up* on a good song!

You can put your musical suggestion(s) in the comments of this or any post up to and including my 100th. Don't worry; I'll be numbering 'em till then.

Sooooo, the contest starts today and ends at 11:59 PM on the day of my 100th post. (I will announce the winner in the 101st.)

Happy song-searching!


PS. Huh? What's that you say? You want to give a blogiversary gift to me?? And you're wondering what I'd like most??? Well, since you're kind enough to ask, I like three things:

(1) visitors
(2) comments
(3) visitors and comments

PPS. Wanna sample the goods? You can check out my rhymin' skillz here.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

C-Jane-Rule the Blogosphere!

Well, it looks as if cjane may actually be proclaimed the big winner of the 2008 Weblog Awards, assuming that she doesn't get a bunch of votes removed as final counts are checked.

This probable victory does my heart good, because it demonstrates that a number of readers have actually been attracted by wholesome, intelligent humor and plain old goodness. Not that she doesn't encounter naysayers from time to time, but these are definitely in the minority. To tell the truth, the whole thing almost restores my faith in humanity!

Having said that, I am truly puzzled by people who visit a blog with the express purpose of attacking or denigrating the writer. Is hurling insults a form of entertainment for these commenters, or are they just trying to bolster their own justifiably sagging self esteem by lashing out at others? Either way, I am unimpressed by their tactics, and every negative word they write tells a little bit more about who they are...which is ironic, considering that many of them choose to comment anonymously.

The following overused but highly applicable poem, by Roe Parham Fulkerson, is dedicated to them:

I watched them tearing a building down,
a gang of men in a busy town;
with a heave-ho and a lusty yell,
they swung a beam, and the building fell.

I asked the foreman, "Are these men skilled,
and the men you'd hire if you had to build?"
He gave a laugh and said, "No, indeed.
Just common labor is all I need;
I can easily wreck in a day or two
what builders have taken a year to do."

And I thought to myself as I went my way,
Which of these roles have I tried to play?
Am I a builder who works with care,
measuring life by the rule and square?

Am I shaping my deeds to a well-made plan,
patiently doing the best I can?
Or am I a wrecker who walks the town,
content with the labor of tearing down?

(Read it and weep, mean people.)

On a happier note, I was terrifically excited to learn that Stephanie, cjane's sister, will be back on January 16th with nieniedialogues. What a trooper that woman clearly is, and I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to hearing her "voice" again. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

TURNING BLAHS TO HURRAHS, aka What To Do on a Stick Figure Kind of Day

1. Read here to find out what a "stick figure kind of day" is, so you can know if you're having one.

2. Take a shower using either Exotic Coconut or Lemon Verbena.

3. Put on your favorite jeans with your most flattering (purple?) shirt, some silly socks, and crocs.

4. Wear your necklace that says "This Grandma Is Loved a Lot" on it...or a reasonable facsimile thereof. 

5. Put on the "Mom, You Are a Wonder" one, too, for good measure (again, ad lib as necessary).

6. Light a sage and citrus candle, list 5 things you absolutely have to do, (write them on scandalously expensive paper you were saving for a special occasion), and DO them. Check off the ones that get you out of the house first.

7. While in your car or out of it, breathe deeply, lift your chin, and notice every single thing that seems even remotely beautiful. Once home, take a stiff and super-sensuous whiff of jasmine. (Roses will do in a pinch.)

8. Accompany yourself with music, musica, musique (whichever applies). Suggested: Jack Johnson or Brett Dennen...but feel free to improvise.

9. Give yourself a pep talk, out loud. Be sure to throw in a few inappropriate jokes, laugh like the guy floating on the ceiling in Mary Poppins, and use an unidentifiable accent.

10. Dance around your house like a crazy person or walk, in full view of the public, like this

11. Catch your breath and gaze with immense satisfaction at your family photo wall.

or, barring that

12. Create a family photo wall upon which you can gaze with immense satisfaction in just such times as these.

Feeling better? Excellent! Now write a blog about it.


Monday, January 12, 2009

A Stick Figure Kind of Day

Well, the last Christmas visitor has gone home (back to the U of A) and the post-holiday blahs have arrived, enhanced by the fact that my husband is working night, day, and in between lately. In other words, I have a lot of time for reflection.

Almost always, I like reflecting...but this morning I find myself reflecting on: 

(1) the six pounds I gained between Christmas and last Saturday 
(NOT the four I had estimated), 

(2) blood sugars that will surely launch a lively lecture from my doctor, and 

(3) the fact that I'm retaining enough water to float a small ship...or perhaps a fleet of them.


Ah well, back to the drawing board

(Did I mention all I can produce today is stick figures?) 


Friday, January 9, 2009

Hark! The Day of Reckoning Cometh

Tomorrow is the day of reckoning.

Tomorrow I have to face the music.

Tomorrow I have to lie in the bed I made for myself, take my medicine, get what's coming to me, and reap what I have sown.

Tomorrow I must go to Weight Watchers and...

(insert ominous organ chord here, please)

weigh in.

Woe is me. Double woe. Triple woe, even.

(Or maybe quadruple for each pound I've gained.)


Ah well, it's a new day, right? (A new week and a new year, too.)

And with any luck at all...and a lot of hard work...I will feel like a new me for 2010. 

And look like the old me.

With a few more wrinkles, of course.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

U racks up a win; USA racks up a deficit

As a University of Utah graduate, whose husband and half of her kids went the same route, I was thrilled to see the Utes beat Alabama convincingly in the Sugar Bowl last Saturday. I'm sure you can imagine the glee, elation, and raucous celebration that took place in my family room that night. Sunday afternoon the good times kept on rolling with the in-your-face, U-of-U-bragging-rights tie proudly worn to church and flaunted on the stand by my husband. (Please note: We are numero uno in every way that matters, whether Florida wins or Oklahoma. Just sayin'.)  

So Utah is doing great, and that's the good news. The United States of America, on the other hand, is having a very bad run...and it seems like the situation is going to get a lot worse before it gets any better. Hearing President-elect Obama mention yesterday that the deficit is on track to hit a trillion dollars in no time at all was a bit of a downer, to say the least. His follow-up comment that "potentially we've got trillion-dollar deficits for years to come" struck me as very bad news indeed. (But maybe I'm just an old sourpuss.) 

I confess that on September 30, 2008, the end of our last fiscal year, I was shocked to learn that the federal deficit was approximately $455 billion. But hey, that was nothin', kids, because now Obama is urging Congress to approve a $775 billion stimulus plan! How's that for deficit enhancement? Apparently it's the President-elect's feeling that this heavy spending is necessary to spur the economy. (It's my feeling that I'm gonna lose my lunch, dinner, and tomorrow's breakfast.) I mean, this takes heavy spending to a whole new level!! 

All I can say is I hope he knows what he's doing...or that his advisors know what they're doing...or that somebody in Washington DC somewhere has some kind of plan for getting this country back on its feet again (a viable plan by someone with the authority to back it up would be good).

It's like we just got a new pitcher for the last game of the World Series, and we're all crossing our fingers that he's another Nolan Ryan but we've never even seen him play. I'm on the edge of my seat about this thing.

So, here's the deal. No one will be happier than I if Obama turns out to be a major asset to the "team"...a real hurler that clocks over 90 mph...with a knuckleball AND a slider. I even hope he has a screwjie, as long as he doesn't throw it at his fellow Americans.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Today, I begin!

Today, I begin!

Some people are adverse to New Year's resolutions. I, on the other hand, LOVE them. These yearly reminders to myself that change is possible make me feel hopeful and energized, like cleaning out a closet. 

In fact, the process of selecting projects and objectives for a new year is remarkably like cleaning out a closet for me. For instance, what is taking up space in my life without bringing me ample enjoyment? How would I rather use that space? What would look better on me (and to me)? Thinking about these things lifts my spirits. I am empowered and energized by all the possibilities...and I know that turning them into realities is within my grasp because I've done it before.

Do I always keep my various resolutions? No. Far from it. And yet the final days of any given December always manage to find some improvements in me that had their genesis in goals envisioned the prior January. In other words, changes are made. Small? Perhaps. Incremental? Undoubtedly. Satisfying? Absolutely!

So here goes, 2009!

1. I will improve my health.

2. I will increase my spirituality.

3. I will de-clutter my home.

4. I will strengthen my existing relationships.

5. I will open my heart and form new relationships.

Furthermore, I will not let fear, frenzy, folly, frustration, fatigue, fixation, or foot-dragging stop me from accomplishing these. Not even my fondness for alliteration will stop me! Failure, frankly, will not be a factor. (Okay, okay...I'm finally finished.)  heehee

Wish me luck, because I am gonna clear a few closets (literally AND figuratively) this year!


PS. Essential to enjoying this process is the ability to applaud yourself at the end of the year about those things you have achieved rather than beat yourself up over those things you will need to continue working on...

What I'm saying is:  BE GENTLE WITH YOURSELF!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

How to Stop the Stomach Flu Dead in Its Tracks

I've been reading a lot of blogs lately where people are talking about coming down with the stomach flu and passing it around their whole families. This is not fun, and I have the answer!

Two words:  GRAPE JUICE.  

Yep, when the first person in your family comes down with the stomach flu, have everyone else in the family start drinking grape juice three times a day. Apparently, this changes the level of acidity in your digestive tract into one that is not conducive to the stomach flu viruses. Since a mother of ten taught me this many years ago, I have never had a stomach bug spread through my family. Not once! (Remember, you have to keep drinking the grape juice three times a day for a couple of days.)

Even better is when you know you or your child have been exposed. You can start the grape juice regimen and avoid the flu altogether.

Just think of it. No more ruined summer vacations, Thanksgivings or Christmases. (At least, not ruined by the stomach flu...I'm not a miracle worker here...)

So there it is: My New Year's present to all of you out there in blogville. (Feel free to regift this one to those who need it!)


PS. Be sure to use 100% grape juice...the deep purple-hued kind. (I use Welches, but don't get the light or the white variety.)

PPS. Remember...This does not stop the stomach flu once you already have it. It is preventative; once you have been exposed to a stomach bug, the grape juice will keep you from catching it.

Friday, January 2, 2009

The Magic Tree: An Oakish Friend

The Magic Tree is a very big deal at our house. Every morning, it leaves a gift for our grandchildren on the ground above its massive roots. We're not sure how the tree always knows when they are in town, but he has never missed once! 

What a majestic and magical friend he is...and definitely one of the highlights of every trip to Grandma and Grandpa's house.

The Magic Tree
for Jeremiah, Carli and Bryce
c2009, Susan Noyes Anderson

My best friend is a live oak tree.
His branches shade and shelter me.
Beneath these arms of green, each day,
I come to sit and read and play.

If you look up and squint your eyes,
think hard of golden butterflies,
and drink one drop of morning dew,
you'll see him smiling down on you.

Not every grown-up sees his face
but Grandpa sees it (just in case
you don't believe me) and what's more;
around the back, we've found a door. 

A tiny door, for elf or gnome,
or other folk who make a home
inside my wondrous, magic tree.
Each night, they leave a gift...for me!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Opening the Book on 2009

Isn't it appropriate that Christmas, a season of renewed hope, is followed directly by the New Year, a season where hope can be put into action through reflection and planning? Remembering the birth of the Savior each December reminds me what is important in life and has the power to affect not only my assessment of the year gone by, but my preparation for the year to come. I can explore new vistas, revisit (and perhaps, revamp) old ones, take stock of past and future dreams, and find ways to turn the best of those dreams into reality.

Equally important, moving to 2009 allows a purely literal leave the sorrows and disappointments of 2008 behind. This inevitable passage of time makes room for growth and healing, easing the process of learning what I can from my travails before eventually gaining the eternal perspective needed to leave them behind in a figurative sense as well.

Let's face it. The New Year brings wonderful opportunities. While all of us are able to turn a page in our lives any day of the year, on New Year's Day we get to open a whole new book! What's more, we get to close the old one, and sometimes that can be a pretty good feeling. Most of us would probably say that 2008 held enough joy to overcome the sorrow and enough growth to offset the grief. Where this is true, we can be grateful that 2008 is a book which can always be reopened, reread, and remembered.

A few of us, though, would say that the scales for 2008 tipped in the wrong direction, that sorrow and grief held too much sway with not enough respite. For these, opening a new book...and closing the old one...becomes a breath of fresh air, an affirmation that our "afflictions shall be but a small moment," a promise of greater blessings in store. "And then, if [we] endure it well, God shall exalt [us] on high" (D&C 121:7-8).

This is a particularly encouraging reminder for people who face unusual challenges. Just following people in the news (let alone my personal friends) tells me that it's been a difficult year for many individuals and families. It's also been a year of struggle for our country. Some who remember 2008 will recall personal tragedies; others will be reminded of war and terrorism, economic and political scandals, fiscal problems and financial ruin. No matter what the problem, I am convinced comfort and hope will be found in the days and months ahead, for "after much tribulation comes the blessings" (D&C 58:4). Perhaps 2009 will not see the end of current trials; even if it does, more will follow, for adversity is part and parcel of life on earth. But those who are able to close the book on pain and open the book on possibility each New Year will be blessed with peace, and I intend to be among them.

My plan is to put the lessons of Christmas to good use by laying my burdens at His feet and receiving the peace He offers. "Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows" (Isaiah 53:4), and He will continue to do so. The invitation of One who descended below all things to redeem and sustain His people is ever present: "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30).

As I open the book on New Year 2009 with a sense of excitement and possibility, I am going write these very words (the Savior's words) in bold print on the first page. Even more important, I am going to believe them and act accordingly.