16 July 2008


When the big box of food arrived at the door it was a little like Christmas. I tore open the top and excitedly looked down onto the pile of small cardboard boxes that would be my meat-and-potatoes for the next thirty days. Each meal was color coded to easily sort the breakfasts from the lunches from the dinners from the ‘desserts’.

At the end of my sorting and storing, the pantry looked neat and slim. I felt like I had already started to lose weight. I was so excited for the next day and the dieting wonders it would bring.

Many of the NutriSystem ads you see or read mention the word ‘delicious’. After a full day of their food, I pretty much ascertained that NutriSytem has a much different interpretation of delicious than every other human being on the planet.

By the end of the first week I realized that all of the lunches and dinners* fell into one of the following four categories: Okay, Bad, Very Bad, and No.

Okay: this doesn’t mean- Q: How was your dinner? A: Okay.
This category is for food you are okay with eating after being adrift at sea for three or four days. Or, marginally, if you are an astronaut and actually in space.

Bad: looks and smells like dog food.

Very Bad: looks and smells so bad you wouldn’t feed it to your dog.

No: ‘nuff said.

The majority of the meals fit into the middle two categories, with it being a red-letter day if both your lunch and dinner were Bad. So far two of the meals have hit the Okay mark. One of the dinners because I could recognize a mushroom slice as being representative of its real-life counterpart. That is to say, it looked like a mushroom slice, even if it didn’t taste like one. The other was a lunchtime soup that tasted like a really, really, cheap can of bean soup you would buy from the used-food store. A small handful of meals have made it into the NO category. I would need to resort to scatologies (shit, crap) and textspeak (WTF?) to even begin to try to describe these meals. Hey, I ate the stuff I wouldn’t give to The Puppy, so you get the feeling how bad No is.

After a week on the diet I’ve lost three pounds. For the most part I haven’t been hungry or cranky and the plan is ridiculously easy to follow. I do think that people who dig deep into their pockets for the outrageous amount of money for the month’s worth of food may be disappointed to realize that they will be adding a minimum of three grocery items to every meal (except ‘dessert’). The upside is that these added-in items will be tasty, nay even ‘delicious’.

*I’m going to save discussion of the breakfasts and ‘desserts’ for a later posting.

12 July 2008

And Then…Along Comes NutriSystem

When I realized the need to back away from the edge of round, I started to plan my diet strategy. Basically I firmly believe that reducing caloric intake and increasing exercise will equal weight loss. It’s a very simple formula that works in real life and is also promoted by all nonquack experts. Increasing exercise would be the easy part, but trying to fit a ‘diet’ into my lifestyle would be a little tricky.

Having spent much of my life cooking for six people, I’m really over any KP duties. I also live mostly alone during the summer, which means some foodstuffs (bread, etc.) will spoil before I can finish it. From past experience I also know that I can get tired and cranky as I adjust to fewer calories. So the last thing I wanted is to tackle meals that would involve cooking and buying food items that I could eat a quarter of and then they would rot.

With that great attitude it was easy for NutriSystem to lure me in with their glossy ads featuring formerly-fat minor celebrities and perennial stud-muffin Don Shula. The idea of a month’s worth of food magically appearing on the front step was very appealing. All I would have to do was add in some dairy, fruits and veggies, and the odd protein. Seemed simple.

Endorsements from formerly-fat minor celebrities are not always the correct foundation upon which to base health decisions, so I spent some time investigating the diet. I spoke with people who used it in the past, ran the idea past my hairdresser, haunted the NutriSystem website and read a great series of articles at Consumer Affairs.

Hands-down the most oft-repeated comment was that NutriSystem worked, but the food was incredibly bland. Some people used colorful words to describe bland. Some people admitted that they could only endure a few days of the ^#&%* bland food.

Bland? Ha! I scoff at bland. After all, I once ate 1970s freeze-dried campfood garnished with fly.

10 July 2008

Camp Food and More

A little zombie background will help in understanding future posts on dieting:

1) In the two or three decades I’ve spent as an adult I can count the times I’ve thrown up on one hand*.

2) When I was young my parents always plotted these diabolical summer vacations that consisted of putting me and my brother into the station wagon and driving half a day in a north, northwest direction. When they finally stopped, it would be in the middle of some boondockian wilderness, where they would proceed to strap backpacks onto us that weighed approximately five times our body weight and then force march us even further into the wilderness. Miles and miles and miles later (actually three miles), we would wearily set our packs down next to the river and make camp for the next week. Our only sustenance for the entire ‘vacation’ would be the fish we caught in the river and the awful 1970s freeze dried camp food that the ‘rents had so thoughtful crammed into our million pound packs.

Freeze dried camp food from the 1970s really deserves a posting all on its own. Many, many words could be wasted trying to describe the incredible blandness and gag-a-riffic textural qualities. The manufacturers were obviously very proud of the cutting-edge dehydration and vacuum packaging of their products. Which may explain why no R and D money was ever used to improve the actual taste of the meals.

Once, after a long day of fishing and swimming and starving, a fly landed on my forkful of freeze-dried spaghetti as it was being delivered to my mouth. My nine year-old brain made a quick and rational decision: eat it. I instinctively knew that the fly could only improve the taste and nutritional quality of that damned food.

3) I’m a very pragmatic eater, if one meal is blah, so what? I have twenty more chances in the coming week to improve things.

TAKE HOME MESSAGE: I'm pretty willing to eat most anything and can do so without vomiting.

*outside of pregnancy, inside of pregnancy it's a whole different ballgame*


09 July 2008

Round is a Shape

A few weeks ago I noticed that I was getting dangerously close to the thin line that separates Rubenesque from just plain round.

Like many women I know, I’ve spent much of my life worrying about my weight. For many years I was obsessed with numbers; ‘how much do I weigh?’, ‘how much had I lost?’ A later phase would include ignoring actual numbers and finding happiness in wearing my skinny jeans and gloom when wearing the fat ones. For the last handful of years I’ve focused most intently on my level of fitness; how far and fast can I walk or swim?

So, for today, I’m a fairly fit round person who’s trying to lose some weight. Not crazy weight, just eight to ten pounds. Losing that much will make me a very comfortable size eight, which at my height of 5’3” still leaves me technically overweight. I can live with that, having previously suffered through the pain of being a size six.

In the past I’ve been a size six and I admit to looking pretty darn good at that size. The only drawback is that to maintain a size six I can’t eat more than twelve hundred calories a day. My body goes into super-famine-defense mode and my metabolism slooooooows. A typical daily meal plan for maintaining a size six is like this: a yogurt for breakfast, lots of black coffee thru the morning, air for lunch, more black coffee thru the afternoon and a green bean for dinner. Skip dessert. Eff that.

17 June 2008

For Crash...

who's always cool

14 June 2008

The Valley of the Giants

I took a step back in time last night as I visited the Eureka Theatre for a screening of the full length 1927 silent film “The Valley of the Giants”. Great venue, great film and, of course, great audience. The theatre is one of those big old Art Deco buildings that many of us remember fondly from our childhoods. (Memories that always seem to include throwing popcorn from the balcony onto our friends in the floor seats.)

The movie was filmed in Humboldt County in 1927 and starred Milton Sills and his IRL wife Doris Kenyon. It had the requisite hero (mightily cheered by the audience) and villain (hiss!) and a wonderful run-away-train scene. For most of the participants the real treat was the opportunity to see our local environs as they were over eighty years ago. This included shots of Eureka, Samoa, Avenue of the Giants, Sequoia Park and the Eel River Valley, and both the inside and the outside of the Carson Mansion. The opening shot showed redwood trees growing all the way to the ocean, which was almost sad enough to make me weep.

It was quite a treat to watch a film without dialogue, as it really heightened the visual experience. Plot and storyline could only be advanced by what was filmed, not by what was heard. You can see how these early films really helped to establish cinema as a visual art. We did have a wonderful accordionist who played throughout the film, which was a wonderful dramatic addition, without detracting from the pace of the film itself.

Not many films from this era have survived intact due to improper storage and film degradation, but we got lucky with this one as it was a personal favorite of Jack Warner and was stored in his vault until his death in 1986. Prints were made by the UCLA Film and Television Archives and the theatre received special dispensation to play it after proving that the required 35mm projectors were on site.If you ever get the chance, I highly recommend going to see a silent movie in an older venue like this. In this day and age of movies on your laptop or personal dvd player, it’s something out of the ordinary.

09 June 2008

june artsalive

Busy weekend with The Good One and her boyfriend in town. Here are some pics from my monthly art crawl.

Frank Buffalo Hyde

Robert Vasic at Humboldt Carpet Showroom

Lee Harvey Roswell

29 May 2008

on statistics

"There are lies, damned lies and statistics." Benjamin Disraeli

My friend Fantasy recently posted about the media and negativity in America. Her posting is very thought provoking and well worth a visit . The article she references includes the following polling which was originally published by Newsweek:

"The Newsweek poll alleges that 67 percent of Americans are unhappy with
the direction the country is headed and 69 percent of the country is unhappy
withthe performance of the president. In essence 2/3s of the citizenry just
ain't happy and want a change."

When statistics and polling results are used without specific background information they are easily manipulated and misrepresented. For example, how do your feelings about the above quote change given different polling scenarios:

1) several thousand refugees were interviewed inside the Superdome three days after Hurricane Katrina decimated New Orleans

2) last week a random land-line phone poll was taken of one hundred New York City inhabitants (in many large cities, people opt to have cell phones only, especially younger people) asking for their views on the latest State of the Union address

3) twelve members of the white house janitorial staff were polled on their thoughts about the impending cuts in their retirement benefits

4) during the annual San Francisco Aids Walk, random participants were asked what they thought of the President's new push for a constitutional amendment to define marriage as strictly between a man and a woman

5) at their annual conference, forty thousand members of the National Education Association replied to questions regarding the USA being ranked 18th out of 24 nations in education

Does each of these situations cause you to look at the quote, "2/3s of the citizenry just ain't happy and want a change", a little differently? I hope so.

I don't like to be manipulated. I don't like when my teenagers try, and I sure as hell don't like it when the media tries. Responsible media should always define their polling and statistics with where, when, who, how and why. Responsible citizens should always ask themselves, " do one hundred New Yorkers speak for all Americans? Are they a broad cross-spectrum of who we are?"

26 May 2008

Memorial Day

Today The Puppy and I went out to Patrick's Point State Park and wandered about for a bit. The park is one of my favorites and I enjoy the spruce trees, which differ from our usual redwoods and fir.
Around the headlands we heard many sea lions and walked through a field of clover.

The azaleas were blooming,

as were the rhododendrons.

In both pink

and the much more rare yellow.

21 May 2008

Flips, flops and zoris

I was cleaning out the truck yesterday and couldn’t help but notice that I had three pairs of shoes along the back floor. That’s one over my official back-floor limit. Ten months of the year I keep my really good hiking boots there, just in case. The second slot is reserved for extra flips, rainboots or plastic garden clogs, depending on the season. In NorCal the weather is, let us say, flexible and you have to be prepared for any eventuality. That is why the back seat of the truck is covered with raincoats, swimsuits, pants and shorts (again, seasonal).

Carrying the extra pair into the house I realized that my shoe collection had slowly mushroomed out of the bedroom into the hall closet, the Good One’s bedroom, the office and the garage. Idly wondering how many pairs I actually owned, I covered my bed with an old sheet and proceeded to gather shoes. Several hundreds of minutes later I was done. It was not a pretty sight. Or a pretty site. It was not pretty, not pretty at all.

Forty-nine pairs.
1 pr extra good hiking boots: most expensive clothing item I own
2 prs goretex sneakers: a must when annual rainfall is measured in feet
1 pr white sneaks for gym: never used IRL: ohhhh, I mean outside gym
3 prs of miscellaneous clogs: including doc martens
3 prs of miscellaneous boots: including semi-expensive cannuck weatherproof ones
8 prs of converse sneakers: chucks are babyboomer wubbies (not the andy m. kind)
1 pr of skater sneaks: rob dyrdek: my bike is too cool for anything else
1 pr of slipper flip-flops: the absolute best for sliding on the wood floor
3 prs of slippers: summer, spring/fall and winter (down sleeping bags for my feet, aaah)
3 prs of ‘good’ walking shoes: the ‘I am not a bumpkin’, go to the city, leather ones
5 prs plastic garden clogs: too embarrassing to even try to rationalize
6 prs dress flips: pathetic compensation for the absence of high-heels
15 prs regular flip-flops: need no explanation

11 May 2008

More Puppy

We recently held an emergency household meeting to discuss what we should do when The Puppy's "real" owner returns from vacation. The following are options presented at the meeting:

Me: take The Puppy and flee to Canada.
The Grumpy One: just say no.
The Funny One: Pretend that her illness is very serious and she needs The Puppy to recover.
My Sister*: Give The Puppy back.

*It is important to note that my sister does not live with us, that she attended this meeting telephonically, that she has never met The Puppy, and that she is burdened with an overdeveloped sense of what's right and wrong. We voted behind her back to consider her option as moo.

09 May 2008

The Puppy

I’ve mentioned it before, but it stands repeating: The Puppy is the sun, we revolve around her. She is the best thing ever, in the whole-wide-world. Ever. Here are some reasons why:

Each and every one of my friends has the same reaction upon first meeting The Puppy. It goes something like this: My friend opens the front door and is greeted by me and The Puppy. Friend stops short and looks wildly around, notices the squeaky toys and the dog bed. Friend’s face slowly drains of color as they put one hand to the wall to support themselves. Friend wails, “But you don’t even like dogs!” Grinning like a mad fiend I joyfully reply, “I know!” This oft-repeated scenario has made me deliriously happy each time it has played out. Seeing my friends at such a disadvantage has made me inordinately fond of having The Puppy around.

The Puppy does not have bad habits. The Puppy does not poop or pee in the house, chew on non-puppy items, sleep on the furniture, bark at anyone other than the mailman, tear up garbage, poop or pee on the lawn, howl when she’s left alone, whine for food, beg for attention or any other annoying thing that regular puppies do.

She treats each new day as a special gift. Each morning is a love-filled round of meet-and-greets as she traverses the house making sure that each one of us (Myself, The Grumpy One, and the Funny One) has survived through the night. In a land of fog, she is the sun.

Talking a right at the street means a walk; a left hand turn means a truck ride. This the puppy knows. The puppy is hecka smart. She knows that she rides in the back of my truck, but inside The Grumpy One’s truck. She knows that it’s okay to be on the Funny One’s bed, but not to step one paw inside my bedroom (except for the morning meet-and-greet, when she’s allowed to softly lick my hand, for aliveness verification, and then quickly retreat). She recognizes the sound of a diesel engine and will look longingly for the Grumpy One each time one passes. She knows that the sheep and goats are only to look at, not to chase.

The Puppy is fun. The Puppy plays a mean game of Mr. Rabbit. Sometimes this game is also called Squeaky Toy. The Puppy knows that this game can be played in the backyard or in the house. She knows that this Game can also be played with a tennis ball. The Puppy thinks she is very fast, but she is wrong. She is not as fast as me, as long as we stay on the wood floor. She is a little faster than me if we are on the lawn where she has traction. The Puppy doesn’t care if I cheat while we play Mr. Rabbit, she loves me.

The Puppy has only one flaw: she belongs to our friend who is on vacation.

06 May 2008


My new SwimBuddy has a good, nay, great attitude. She quietly observes, practices hard and asks for help when she needs it.

This morning as we were finishing several thousand (okay hundred) yards worth of breaststroke, she commented on how difficult a stroke it was for her to swim. Jokingly, I replied that I felt her pain, because I have the worst breaststroke kick in the world (actually true). Then she told me that she had never swum anything but front crawl before swimming with me (we've been swimming together for three weeks now). Dumbstruck, I asked if she'd at least learned the basic technique in swim class the previous semester. She said no, that she had been watching what I did and trying her best. Poor kid, she'd been watching the worst kick in the pool and trying to improve herself!

She's a great SwimBuddy because 1) she lets me be bossy 2) she's always interested in learning more 3) she still swims slower than I do.

04 May 2008

Weekend Deuce

Lots of sunshine and bike riding.

Accidentally almost broke the first rule of wilderness survival.

Made it safely past and back down the trail.

A good day for a zombie always ends at the cemetary.


02 May 2008


Today I went on my monthly art walk in Eureka. Usually I start off at my mile long loop of galleries at my favorite coffee shop, but today I thought I'd start at the top of Old Town and grab a couple of pics.

The Carson Mansion: currently a members-only men's club.

This house was built for the daughter of Carson: I call it the mother-in-law-unit. It is directly across the street from the Carson Mansion (they face each other) and it is fun to spin from one direction to another and see both.

The Morris Graves Museum of Art is a lovingly restored Carnegie Library. It is extremely beautiful inside and shows a rotating collection from the Humboldt Arts Council and also special shows from outside the area. The main gallery this month is a local juried show that happens annually, which is nice because you get to see the best of a lot of different local artists. I think you have to be invited to even enter something.


The sign for my all time favorite gallery: Accident.

Today I was really excited to pick up a painting that I purchased from last month's show. So excited that I locked my keys in the truck as I went in to get the painting and see the new show. Lucky for me it was a beautiful day and I enjoyed every step of the thirteen blocks to The Skinny One's work, where I borrowed his car to go home and get my spare keys.

After a wonderful couple of hours hitting the galleries and talking with some of my favorite artists and gallery owners, I met The Grumpy One and The Recluse BeatMeister at the local brewery for some bar food and a pint.


May Art Picks

These are my favorite picks from the new shows:

30 April 2008

Still Life with Cherries and Peaches

The dawning of twentieth century art.

29 April 2008

The Guy in the Pool

Tuesday morning at the pool: had to choose between sharing a lane with a muscle-bound walking guy or a slow-swimming senior.

So I choose the lane with The Guy. Sure, he’s a little more muscle-bound than I’m comfortable with, but he’s just walking and I figure I’ll bother him less. I hop in and ask if he minds sharing a lane and he replies, “The world is about sharing”. Uh, okay, thanks.

Half-way through my warm-up I realize The Guy has not been informed of pool etiquette and he wants to talk. He starts by informing me that he’s had the flu for a month and just got back to working out yesterday. Uh, okay, again, thanks.

I try to stay completely underwater as long as I possibly can, but part of my warm-up consists of using a kickboard and I am trapped, trapped in the pool with The Guy. He jog-trots alongside of me as I kick and asks if I’m ‘native’. Just like that, “Are you native?”. At this point I still think he’s just socially stunted and I answer no and kick like hell to get away from him.

The next time we’re at the same spot in the lane he begins to tell me that he recently went to Mexico and while he was there he spent some time at Venice Beach body building. Aaaaaah! Aaaaah! Now I have to decide if he’s socially stunted, a racist nut, or terminally lacking in any geographic knowledge. Aaaaaah!

Quickly abandoning the rest of my warm-up I begin to swim as fast as I can without stopping.

Muscle-bound guys look like potato bugs.

28 April 2008

Home Life

I'm currently sharing my home with one-half of my total lifetime output of offspring. That makes for two, count them, two kids at home. I have with me the youngest girl and the youngest boy. Technically the youngest boy is actually the second born, but you get the idea. The youngest girl is known as The Funny One and the youngest boy is known as The Grumpy One (except when he's grumpy, then he's known as Dark Cloud).

Really only The Funny One has any right to be here, as technically I can't ask her to move on 'til she's legally an adult. I hate all these rules. The Grumpy one has been away and moved home a few months past. He is set to move on again in another six weeks, so we (The Funny One and I) are making Xs on calendars and planning a multi-day celebration.

The only other resident is The Puppy. She is the sun and we revolve around her. The one thing in the world The Grumpy One, The Funny One and I agree on is that The Puppy is the best thing ever.

Other offspring: the oldest boy is The Skinny One and the oldest girl is The Good One. They don't live at home, so I tend to like them better.

27 April 2008

25 April 2008

Randomness happens...

As a species we spend too much energy theologizing, warring, organizing, enslaving, codifying, trying desperately to tame the void that waits in front of us.
The void is still there, the void will win.

* RIP RR *

24 April 2008

Why I Have No Memory

I've been going to community college since 1985. Let me tell you, that's a long, long time to be a sophomore. Sometimes I'll go two or three semesters without taking a class, mostly I'll take one or two classes a semester. There was one semester (we call it The Bad Time) when I took chemistry, anatomy, and Spanish. I woke up one morning covered with flashcards and realized that I was trying to learn three new languages at the same time. My stomach hurts just remembering.

Anyway, all this schooling is the reason I have no memory. I don't have the cute type of no memory, you know the kind where you're standing in a room and can't remember why you entered it? No, I have the being in the middle of a sentence and stopping because I can't remember what I was talking about, type of no memory. I have actually asked one of the kids, "what do you call the machine we put dishes in to to make them clean?". Yeah, that type of no memory.

My theory is that all these years of learning new information, under the pressure to be able to coherently reproduce it in a testing situation, has trained my brain to store memories in a very faulty way. Most people have sensory, short-term, and long-term memory. We can ignore the sensory memory, cause it's just stupid. So, for this post, most people have short-term and long-term memory. But not I, I have short-term, super-stressed-regurgitate-for-a-test-term, and factoids-needed-to-play-jeopardy-term memory.

This means that I know that all your mitochondria is inherited from your Mom, but for the life of me I can't remember her name.

23 April 2008

Verily, I say unto thee...

Creating a public blog that may never be read by anyone seems a wee bit masochistic. I'm already overcome with html, wysiwyg, and other internet maladies. The chief symptoms appear to be writer's block and an overwhelming urge to urinate. Did I just say urinate in my first post?