Sunday, January 31, 2010

What is food and what isn't?

I heard this question proposed on the radio the other day while driving to work. It is part of a new government program that would tax non-food items. One of the defining features of "food" is that it contains flour. Therefore some candies will be taxed and others will not, funny huh? The guys on the radio really got into it. They said that the deli food at grocery stores must surely be taxed as deli food is a "luxury food" item and is prepared and served by others, almost like a resturaunt. They thought for sure that a whole chicken sold in the deli would be taxed. An employee from a local grocery store deli called into the show and informed them that whole deli chickens were not taxed, but fast food items such as corndogs, Chinese food, jojos and such were indeed taxed. The DJ's thought this in consistency was humorous and they concluded the following:

"If you can't eat it with your hands while driving and texting then it isn't taxed."

Monday, January 25, 2010

Blue Monday

I just heard that today, the third Monday in January, has been identified as the most depressing day of the year. Some scientist who studies seasonal affective disorder decided this based on research. These are the reasons why today is the most depressing day of the year:

1) Distance from Christmas
2) Debt incurred from Christmas
3) Too much rain, sleet, snow, and hail and not enough sun
4) No holidays in sight
5) Monthly salary
6) Abandoning, giving up, or not starting new year's resolutions

I am not sure that these are all of the reasons why this day is labelled the most depressing of the year, but it certainly seems like enough. Now I almost feel guilty for having such a great day today, it was the last day of a wonderful and relaxing long weekend in a high altitude snow camp and I got to ski down the first four miles of the mountain road to catch the shuttle to the parking lot. The sun was out and the views were incredible. I should think about spending this day in such splendor every year!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Remembering to Breathe

One of the things that I have learned from the few yoga classes that I have taken recently is to breathe. This sounds simple enough, but when I pause and think about it, I realize that I probably only breathe with about half of my lung capacity most of the time. One of the reasons that yoga poses are so challenging for me is because I need to think about how I am breathing while I hold the pose.

This weekend we have been invited to join a long-standing group at their annual winter camp. We have never been to this camp and only know one family of participants (the ones who invited us) the trip requires preparation in terms of food and winter clothing for all of us and I am not a person who likes to be caught unprepared. I also don't like to have to rely on others should we forget something important. As we are snowmobiled into this camp, we will not have car access for a couple of days. I have been forgetting to breathe all day. Only now, when I am really thinking about it do I pause and stop for three deep breathes. There, that is so much better.

I hope that this weekend turns out to be fun and relaxing. Now if my husband would only get home from work early like he said that he would we could go and get started!

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Hangover

I have to admit that I had some initial resistance to seeing this one. My fear was that it would be way too unrealistic and full of fart humor for me to appreciate. My good friend and neighbor kept telling me how funny it was, so we watched it last night. This movie was indeed very funny, much better than I expected. It reminded me of "Fandago" which is one of my favorite movies of all time even though I am not a huge Kevin Costner fan. If you want to laugh, I can pretty much guarantee that parts of this movie will make even the most stalwart of moviegoers crack a smile.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Finally, A Great Ski Weekend

It has taken us a while to get our downhill skiing into gear this year. Over the Christmas holiday we cross-country skied, but we all like to downhill ski as well. The kids did great at Crystal Mountain. The easier runs go on and on forever, very wide and forgiving, a great place for kids. Beautiful weather, not sunny, but a bit grey, great visibility though just a perfect winter day.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

New Year, New Book

I don't know how new this book is, I am talking about Elizabeth Gilbert's latest, "Committed," which I have seen on bookshelves in almost every store that I have been in lately and that includes my local grocery store. My conclusion: Elizabeth Gilbert has too much time on her hands. I dimly enjoyed "Eat, Pray, Love." The part I didn't ever understand happened at the beginning and that was when she left her husband. So she fell out of love or something like that. Truly, based on her description of things, the marriage didn't seem that bad, certainly savable if one were so inclined. It seemed as though Ms. Gilbert found taking a year out of her life to spend a lot of money on going around the world in order to "find herself" more alluring. In those travels she did, it seem, meet Mr. Right. They apparently had a great relationship because they decided not to get married. Then they had to get married or they wouldn't have a country to live in and this sparked the seed for the latest book on how to elevate self-centered behavior onto a pedestal, "Committed." Unless, someone who's opinion I really respect tells me that this is a must read, I think that I will pass on Gilbert's latest monument to self proclaimed achievement.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Ideal Weight

Weight is a hot topic for most women and many men. I have noticed, however, that men don't get niggled about the weight thing as much as women unless they are obese. It is true that there is a time and season for everything, including weight. As a pregnant women, I was the heavier than I had ever been in my life. After having babies, my weight usually went down, but then I would pack on the pounds when nursing because I was always hungry. Suffice it to say, that in early middle age I no longer have a girlish figure. There is nothing wrong with that though, because I am no longer a girl. That doesn't mean that I don't feel like I have an ideal weight for me though. This ideal would be the weight that I feel most confident, am able to fit into clothes that I like, and do the activities that I enjoy.

For whatever reason I have been hearing and reading quite a bit about women and weight, mothers in particular, and comments like "why would you care about losing weight after a baby" or "it is superficial to care about losing weight" seem to abound. Well, just because one becomes a mother doesn't mean that they instantly lose their sense of self and are suddenly inhabited by their children. The fact that a woman wants to dress in decent clothes and have an active and healthy lifestyle unhindered by being over weight should never be considered superficial. It seems as though when a woman states that she wants to lose weight, people assume that it must be because she wants to look like Barbie. The weight debate then becomes another issue that can separate women and cause negativity about image to bloom.

This just shouldn't be the case. I know that this post seems a bit confusing, but I am trying to make the point that women shouldn't be niggled about weight loss. If you are uncomfortable at your current weight, can't wear the clothes that you like, and are hindered from activities that you enjoy, than work to lose those pounds and don't feel guilty. For every woman that does this, there will be another woman who is happy with herself being a bit heavier, a woman who has taken the trade-off and enjoys eating any food that they want without guilt and guilty they shouldn't be made to feel. I can't stress enough how much more helpful and positive this whole issue would be if there was more variety in the damn media that many of us try to avoid and if articles on how the latest star shed her baby pounds and now looks like she just emerged from the concentration camp diet shouldn't be allowed at all! Bring back the Dove ads, I for one appreciate and relate to the variety.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Half The Sky

I am currently reading the book "Half the Sky" by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. Rather than summarize the book, I have decided to print the quotes that headline each chapter, here goes:

"Women might just have something to contribute to civilization other than their vaginas"
-Christopher Buckley, Florence of Arabia

"Although volume upon volume is written to prove slavery a good thing, we never hear of the man who wishes to take the good of it, by being a slave himself."
-Abraham Lincoln

"Reasonable people adapt themselves to the world. Unreasonable people attempt to adapt the world to themselves. All progress, therefore, depends on unreasonable people."
-George Bernard Shaw

"The mechanism of violence is what destroys women, controls women, diminishes women and keeps women in their so-called place."
-Eve Ensler, A Memory, a Monologue, a Rant, and a Prayer

"Preparation for death is that most Reasonable and Seasonable thing, to which you must now apply yourself."
-Cotton Mather, in a sermon advising pregnant women

"Would the world stand by if it were men who were dying just for completing their reproductive functions."
-Asha-Rose Migiro, UN Deputy Secretary General, 2007

"Whenever cannibals are on the brink of starvation, Heaven, in its infinite mercy, sends them a nice plump missionary."
-Oscar Wilde

"A majority of the dwellers of hell will be women, who curse too much and are ungrateful to their spouses."
-Muhammad Imran, Ideal Woman in Islam

"If you think education is expensive, try ignorance."
-Derek Bok

"Are women human yet...If women were human, would we be a cash crop shipped from Thailand in containers into New York brothels...Would our genitals be sliced out to "cleanse" us...When will women be human...When..."
-Catherine A. Mac Kinnon, Are Women Human

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world."
-Mahatma Gandhi

I am going to work on that last one starting tomorrow, good-night!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Great Chinese State Circus - Swan Lake

This is one of the most daring takes on this traditional ballet that I have ever seen!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Getting to the Core of it All

As I have stated before, I do like to exercise. I don't consider myself to be too much of a gym rat, but if I don't get up and get out there and do something I have like no energy and I feel kind of down. Typically I like a vigorous, hopefully short, exercise routines. It is difficult for me to think about slowing down and doing strength and flexibility training, but I am finding that I must try and do this, too many aches and pains otherwise. With that in mind, I went to my first yoga class since the pregnancy yoga class that I took when expecting my first child almost eleven years ago. I feel great. This class advertised increased energy and I have to say that even though it is late in the afternoon, I haven't gotten the afternoon foggy head that sometimes overcomes me. My goal is to learn some of the stretches and routines and do them at home on my yoga mat whilst attending class once a week. Attending class and learning yoga wasn't a resolution, but I think that I am going to make it one so as to increase my chances of sticking with it.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Happy Epiphany

Today is the Feast of the Epiphany. The word "epiphany" comes from an ancient Greek word meaning "manifestation" or "striking appearance." Before Christianity, the word was used to record occasions when Greek gods and goddesses made appearances on earth.
In the Eastern Church, which includes the Russian and Greek Orthodox Churches, today is a general celebration of God's becoming man. It includes celebrating a whole host of things: the birth of the baby Jesus, the revelation of Jesus' divinity to the rest of the world — like to the Magi visiting from Persia — and most importantly in the East, Jesus' baptism in the Jordan River.

Centuries after the Eastern Orthodox Church began celebrating the Epiphany, the Roman Catholic Church decided to start doing so too. But for some reason, the Western Church really latched on to this image of the Persian priests bringing gifts of frankincense, myrrh, and gold to the infant Jesus, guided from their homeland of Iran by a shining star. The Magi are mentioned only in Matthew's Gospel and he never specified how many magi there were — just that there were three gifts. In 1857, the Reverend John Henry Hopkins Jr. wrote some lyrics for a seminary Christmas pageant, a song that begins: "We three kings of Orient are / Bearing gifts we traverse afar / Field and fountain, moor and mountain / Following yonder star."

I usually like to take the Christmas tree down on this day. That is the big celebration around our house. The problem is that the tree is not completely undecorated and I really don't want to do it by myself. I am thinking that it would be best to wait until Saturday and have my husband and father-in-law do it together!

At one time I heard a story about a college professor who used to like to go on long walks. He like especially to walk with his dog. The dog was called "Epiphany" or "Piphy" for short. This was because this professor would often have enlightening thoughts while tramping around the forest, with his dog.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

It is a popular thing to do this time of year, post resolutions to rid oneself of bad habits and replace them with good ones in the new year. I like to do this and have had more lists than I can keep track of in my lifetime that urge me to throw away my vices and become a better person. Now in the year 2010 I find that I have a few resolutions that I can put out there and will probably be willing to keep throughout the year. I don't know about giving up my vices (red wine, coffee, paper books, and hair products) but I do know that there are a few areas of self-improvement that I must try and hold myself accountable to.

The first one would be finding time and space to write more often and maybe in shorter bursts. I plan to tackle the project of shopping for a small, portable computer that I can call my own (i.e., one that I don't share with the rest of the family) hopefully as soon as this weekend. Ideally, it would be nice to be home to write, but in reality I am rarely ever home, at least not during the day and at night I am just to damn tired. So a quick and portable method that does not require paper and pen is most likely what I need to make this goal a reality. At present I do write. It just comes in short and prolific bursts whereby I produce copious amounts of non-quality written work.

Planning a fitness regimen and diet is always a popular one. I have always worked out in one form or another. It was a habit that I started in high school. The difference between me then and me now is caloric intake. Before I started heading towards dreaded middle age, I could eat any amount of whatever I wanted and burn it all off quickly with a five mile run. Now I really have to watch what and how much I eat or there is literally no workout in the world that will help me get rid of the extra pounds. So, I resolve this year to continue doing my workouts as always AND to monitor what goes into my mouth more closely. I have had to become more diligent regarding this if I don't want to weigh 300 pounds, but I still think that there is room for improvement.

I am going to start making coffee more often at home. Yes, I do live in latteland and Howard Schultz resides somewhere in a nearby neighborhood, so by going to Starbucks almost daily I am supporting a local business, right? Well, that may be so, but the support is expensive! I have already started doing this and found that I have been missing steaming, home brewed coffee especially at this chilly time of year.

Other areas that I could try to do better in include the following: Remembering birthdays, I am truly rubbish at this. I don't really hold my own birthday in very high or special regard, so I am not always that great about honoring the birthdays of others. Perhaps it is time that I become a bit less egocentric about this. I also need to tie up loose ends in my personal life. Sometimes I have terrific amounts of difficulty saying "no." I don't seem to have this trouble at work, mostly just in personal situations. There are definitely some personal situations that I need to resolve. I must become less passive-aggressive this year and become slightly more comfortable with a wee bit of conflict here and there. The last thing that I must do on a very regular basis is learn how to relax. We went away over the holiday and I got so relaxed that when I came home I forgot about a number of things that needed doing, including renewing my professional license which I was able, thankfully, to do on-line. I am now thinking that if I relaxed a little and more often, maybe I wouldn't fall into such a pit of laziness and confusion when returning from a restful vacation. The great news here is that my sleep issues are finally being resolved and I am now able to get great sleep most nights without medication.

That's all for now! I will try to update progress WHEN it happens.

Monday, January 4, 2010

George's Exploding Wallet

This is a close second. I also have an "exploding wallet" but fortunately for me it goes in a purse. Everytime I try to make my wallet non-exploding I wind up not having something that I need!

The Best of The Soup Nazi

After all of the laughs and all of the years, this is still one of my favorites!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

How Should I Then Read???

Lately, I have been reading about and hearing about plugs for electronic reading gadgets such as Nook and Kindle. Most people who have tried to persuade me regarding the wonders of such electronics are either a) very environmentally conscious and wish to save the trees; b) travel quite a bit for business and/or leisure and are avid readers who are tired of lugging books around the world or c) read so much and so often that they can't keep up and are usually reading many things at one time and find it easier to keep track of everything on an electronic device.

I think that the advent of such devices is wonderful. For two years running I have thought about buying my husband a Kindle for his birthday (he falls into category "c" above) and maybe 2010 will be the year that I do this. For myself, I just don't know. See, when all is said and done, I am a book addict. Now I don't just mean a reading addict, which I am, it is the books that I really like. I enjoy holding, smelling, re-reading, and thumbing through books. I can get lost for hours on end in a library or bookstore. It would be hard for me to take up reading on an electronic device. When I am done with books I either pass them onto someone else or I sell them to the 1/2 price bookstore (the libraries in our area do accept donated books), so I am making the most of any books that I purchase. I also love to support local authors that I like and thus I buy their books. Whenever possible I use the library, my in-laws live in a city where budget cuts have closed the local library so I definitely like to support keeping libraries open and operating.

When all is said and done, despite the extra weight when I travel and the seemingly needless use of trees to publish copies of all of these books, I would find it hard to live without a book in hand. Maybe in the year 2010 I will be able to get more technical, I am still not too old to change my tune after all I do know how to text! Maybe the said Kindle birthday present that I plan to purchase this July (yes, my husband does read my blog and no he does not like surprises so I guess that I should put this out there) will convince me to change my mind. I will just have to see what the future holds.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Happy Snowy New Year

We travelled soon after Christmas, into the mountains in search of snow. Some people enjoy going someplace sunny over the holidays, but I always get the itch for snow this time of year. When we first arrived at our destination, there was very little snow on the ground and we were all a bit disappointed. Then, on New Year's Eve, it began to snow buckets and buckets. There was amazing new snow for the kids to sled and play in. We didn't make it up to the downhill slopes this vacation, but we did take the kids on two short cross-country ski trips in ungroomed areas and they loved it, we loved it, and today it was even sunny! As with all great things, vacation must end and we are now back home this evening. I was ready to come home though and that is usually a sign that one as had a great trip. That is true in my case. Happy New Year!