Thursday, October 31, 2013

What Adam's Been Up To

Part of what makes marriage to Adam so fun and interesting is that he is quite varied in his activities and pursuits. In fact, it can be hard to keep up with all he's doing. He just does what he loves, and that embraces quite a bit. He made some wonderful whole wheat bread this week, with flax seed.
In fact, he made us two loaves and then went to an elderly couple's home and made two loaves for them. He makes them lunch several times a week. As he says, he's a full-service pastor. Haha!
That same day, I believe, my desperate need for chocolate cake finally refused to be silenced any longer, and I told him I must have a piece of good chocolate cake with white buttercream frosting. Some things in life are necessary. So, being Adam ... he made a 6" chocolate cake from scratch, as per ordered.
He practiced his icing skills, which he says are still lacking.
And I washed up a dusty cake plate.
He dusted it with some cocoa powder. Very pretty.
And I had my piece of chocolate cake with a half cup of hot homemade chai. And the inner chocolate beast was appeased ... for now.
It's tricky being on weight loss routines and loving to cook and bake. I had a piece of cake, as did Julia, and we took the rest to Tuesday night Bible study at our church. (Adam is not fond of sweets himself. Except pumpkin pie. And Kit Kats.) (Oh, and ice cream. And ginger snaps. And Danish butter cookies.) The congregants enjoyed the cake, I washed the plate and returned home with my diet intact.
The local Methodists have a program for older folks called "Prime Time." They offer all manner of classes, trips, groups, gatherings, meals, etc. Adam is always looking for new ways to meet people in town, being a pastor. He's also had a life-long love for star-gazing and telescopes.
Adam, with the supplies for his astronomy class
He ordered a mirror blank from Edmunds Scientific when he was 14 years old, and he's had it ever since. His goal was always to grind it down to a telescope mirror and build his own telescope. But you need a group of people to do this project. He tried it with a class of school kids once, without success. He tried it with Anna and Peter once too, and failed. What he needed was a group of old guys as enthusiastic as he was.
There are various grades of grit used for grinding the mirrors.
So he's teaching an astronomy class with the Prime Time program, and he'd had great response. He has six people in this first class, and quite a few interested for the next class. He's been studying out this whole telescope-making process for decades. At last! It's time to begin.
Some of the grinding grit he purchased about five years ago
Adam built a stand upon which to grind his mirror. We've been lugging this around from house to house for a few years. He already had some grit for grinding.
Adam's stand, with his mirror on it
Today he took all the grit to class that's been delivered. The new mirrors for the class members have not arrived yet. But Adam took his mirror and showed them some of what they will be doing. It's useful to have a group of people grinding your mirror because the variety of people actually increases the accuracy of the mirror. Do not ask me much about the science of this, because I don't know!
Adam's mirror, now 33 years old
The other thing you have to make is a grinding tool, the object you use to grind down the mirror. This is what it looks like:
In case you're wondering, there are things that Adam doesn't do, or can't do. He can't sing. And he can't dance. He's pretty much tone deaf and has no rhythm. But other than musical ability, I honestly can't think of much that he lacks. He is brainy, he is strong, he is fun and funny, and he is extremely kind. He follows me around like a puppy dog, but he knows when to give me alone time. His knowledge and understanding of God's Word are deep and discerning, which is one of the most enjoyable interests we share. He can build shelves, mend furniture, fix a car in a hundred ways, take out stitches, do beautiful math, explain how most things work, fix broken plumbing, electrical lines, tile, small appliances, and most computer issues. Plus he's a good friend. All that talent would tend to make a man vain, so God also gave him lots of trials to rid him of that taint and make him humble. Thus, I have been given a lovely husband, for whom I'm very thankful.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A Little Happy in the Mail!

Don't you love it when free happies come in the mail? I do!! Yippee! A couple of months ago I sent off for three free samples of tea from Twinings, the well-known quality tea company from London. I had fun selecting some warm autumnal flavors, and then I kind of forgot about it.
And then today ... they arrived! They came in a nice, large envelope with the three bags glued inside, as you see:
My selection. I'm kind of into chai, sigh. If you'd like to send off for your three free samples, here's the link.
Clearly Twinings wants us to partake, and I don't feel guilty for mooching, because we've been buying Twinings tea tins for years. I love their metal tins and keep them for other purposes. These three are in our cupboards right now.
Now go get you some tea :)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Beau Chien

Last night Beau the Pomeranian was napping on the couch while we watched an episode of The Great Irish Bake-Off. He's so cute when he naps.
I love his sweet little face.
I stroke his whiskers and tickle his ears. When I do, he straightens his legs out, but as he falls back into sleep, they go limp again.
Adam came back from the kitchen with an apple and I took a little nibble. In his dreams, Beau heard me nibbling. Any nibbling gets his full attention, and I got this look:
"Where's my nibble?" he asks.
He's grown so much. He's a teenaged doggie now, long, lean, muscular. He doesn't yet have his first winter coat, so he looks rather thin. See what a long dog he is now?
We love him.

Monday, October 28, 2013

It's the Neighborly Thing to Do

You just never know what you'll find when you go out your driveway on your bike. Our neighborhood (which is basically our whole town) is so fun. I was pedaling along on a street, and what do I behold? This! In someone's front yard!
What fun! The gravel path invited me to approach and check out this new "Little Free Library."
I read the plastic-coated brochure hanging there, and proceeded to open the cute blue doors, as if I were entering my own private library, out in public. Rather a contradiction, but there it is.
Atop the library, to make it peculiar to our lovely town, is a sailboat and a photo of an orange sunset.
What does this library offer? Here are some titles:
And a few more:
I didn't remove a tome from the Little Free Library today. I'm not much into modern cultural thrillers. I might read The Help one of these days. But I will -- oh, I will! -- bring a book or two to offer and add a sightly different flavor to the selection, which is always welcome. A little John Donne or Milton or Shakespeare, or something. I must find a spare book lying about the house that we no longer need. Children's books are welcome too!
I'm so proud of my neighbors. Wasn't that a kind thing to do for us all?
I rode on to the park and discovered a new Adirondack chair in our collection! Yippee! We can never have enough of these. I think this brings our total up to six.
This chair has a nice plaque on the back, indicating it's dedicated to the memory of a loved one. A man or two in town make these, and people pay to have them put in the park, for everyone's use. I think this is a lovely, generous thing to do.
I noticed some piles of brown on the side of the road. What in the world?
Clumps of mushrooms! Clearly they're growing from the roots of this cut-down tree.
The sight of something growing in such profusion is somehow slightly bizarre and disturbing. But I opted to share it with you nonetheless. Are they edible? I think no one in Oriental will ever find out.

Julia's Haircut

I posted some of these pictures on facebook, which caused me to neglect putting there here on ye olde blogge. Sorry, family afar. Here's Julia's "new do."
 She didn't want a pixie cut at all, but honestly, she went to the hair place with short hair to start with, so she's not going to come out of there with anything other than short hair.  I told her, "This lady is a hair cutter, not a hair grower." 'Nuff said. She looks adorable.
This is Angel. She's been cutting hair for 21 years, and she's lovely. She's a sweet Christian mom with a salon in her side yard. We're definitely going to her for years to come.
 Julia had never -- ever -- had her hair cut by a professional. In other words, it was always either mama's snips or sister's snips. She was excited, and she enjoyed every moment. It's so fun to have somebody else play with your hair.
 I'm a bit mortified to say that we have neither blow dryer nor hair straightener nor curling iron nor curlers nor mousse nor any other fancy hair product in our house. We're more of a wash-it-and-shake-it-dry type of family. UNfancy.
 Angel sent us home with a little tub of some sticky substance to achieve the "look." But without all the other implements of destruction, I don't know if either Julia or I will ever reach this stage of beauty again :) Julia's head has a million hairs of a million individual lengths, I believe.

 It's so cute. I caught her the other day trying to put up a big wad of hair in a pony on top of her head and I said, "No!" All my children, upon hitting puberty, suddenly grow big crops of thick, fine hair, and it turns curly.  Blame it on the hormones, but they get gorgeous hair, if a bit unruly and unmanageable. Julia's not used to her big hair yet. Taming it with a million layers does help.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree, 
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made: 
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee; 
And live alone in the bee-loud glade. 

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow, 
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings; 
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow, 
And evening full of the linnet's wings. 

I will arise and go now, for always night and day 
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore; 
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey, 
I hear it in the deep heart's core. 

by Wm. Butler Yeats

Click here to hear Mr. Yeats recite his poem, and hear his voice. It reminds me a lot of recordings of Robert Frost reading his poetry, except (of course) for Mr. Yeats's lovely Irish accent.
Below is a lovely recording of the musical group Secret Garden and their song, "Sigma," with the poem's text. (Skip the advertisement at the beginning.)

I love this poem. It speaks of introversion, and intense desire to be alone in order to enjoy all the pleasures of a beautiful, unique place. This desire to be alone is no passive thing; the poet determines to get up, and get going, and leave behind the roads and grey pavements of the city, and seek out the place his heart most desires. He can resist no longer. It beckons his heart, and every moment it fills his mind and his senses. Above all else, it provides peace.

Is it wrong to find peace in a place? Indeed not. We were designed to find peace, utter satisfying rest, in a place. Yeats's description simply shows how heaven has a vice hold on the human heart. Deep in our core, we long for its peace, for its grasses and bees and lapping water. However, having sadly convinced ourselves that heaven is nothing more than a white box or a state of mind or a fuzzy, boring cloud, we resort to finding its peace here, in a broken earth. We are frustrated at our failure to find it. For me, this poem expresses a simple, intense yearning for God's perfect rest after life's "pavements grey."

Friday, October 25, 2013

Losing Weight

When I married Adam, he weighed (I think) about 145 pounds. 5'11" tall. He was thin. He'd been a cross-country runner in college. The first time I saw him without a shirt, he had blue veins running all across his chest -- he was that kind of thin.
Adam's college ID, when he was about 22 years old
Then came marriage, meatloaf, and spaghetti. And a man with a large appetite.
We both gained weight. And we blamed it on bad joints and broken bones and having kids and way too much stress. But in the end, there's really one thing that makes us overweight, and that's overeating.
I dug lots of photos of Adam out of my archives from this past year. He weighed 274 when we went to a health screening (thank you, Farm Bureau!) at the end of May. Even then, I considered him a handsome fellow, and loved posting pictures like this. I found him eminently kissable and huggable.
He carried his weight in his belly, but not like a beer belly. (He's not much of a drinker.) His belly fat is inside his muscle sheath, which is more dangerous for internal organs.
And as he got heavier, he carried weight in his chest, back, shoulders, neck, and face.
June 1st marked a turning point for us. I took photos of us on my birthday date. Adam had discovered his life-threatening blood pressure issues, and he'd just begun his new dieting attempt. He's stretching the limits of this shirt's buttons.

Adam is a gentle-spirited fellow, and he can make himself be downright mellow if need be. But when he sets his mind to something, he can be tenacious as a bulldog. He set about to lose weight and apply all the addictive behavior he had toward food, instead toward his weight loss. He is utterly disciplined about entering every calorie and every moment of exercise into the app. on his iPad. He weighs each day at least twice. He keeps track of his daily heart rate and blood pressure. His doctor wishes all his patients were like Adam.
This photo was take a little over a week ago. You can see the difference in his neck and face. And that angular face on Peter? Yep, that's that same face shape I fell in love with on his daddy, 25 years ago.
Here's a better head shot, taken a couple of weeks ago. The difference is more marked here.
Adam has lost 45 pounds in about five months. 45 pounds is a lot of weight, and it shows. But in the end, even now he is still overweight. Technically, he's still obese. Even after all that hard work, he still has a long way to go. This is a lesson for all the over-eaters out there! If you're still reasonably thin, stop eating so much -- it's so easy to gain weight, and so difficult to lose it.
45 pounds thinner than in the profile shot on the beach
I'll keep taking pictures of Adam, and when he reaches his goal weight of 165, it will be fun to post them. He has achieved this loss with portion control only. He's not using any weight-loss products, nor taking weight-loss pills, nor has he dramatically increased his exercise. (He was already an avid walker.)

It was hard for us both to face this fact:  our excess weight is due simply to eating too much, and the best way to lose it is to stop eating too much. The amount of food necessary to alleviate hunger and nourish your grown body is really not very much. It's alarming how much excess food we were consuming. Adam was easily 100 pounds overweight, and I was at least 50 pounds overweight. I started cutting back my eating last month; I've lost 9 pounds thus far. I post no pictures of me here because you really can't tell a difference yet. How sad! Do you know what nine pounds of fat looks like? It's a lot. But I'm so overweight that its loss doesn't show yet. I have a long way to go.

The good news is this: it's doable. If you're telling yourself (as I did) that everybody else can lose weight, but not me, don't believe that voice. Push away the plate as soon as you don't feel hungry anymore. Throw away the bites leftover. Don't buy the food that tempts you to indulge. Do not eat seconds, ever. We thought some of those activities were "the pleasures" of life, until we finally realized they were killing us.

In all of Adam's Christian life, only two friends have ever had the temerity to tell him, "Brother, I think you might suffer from the sin of gluttony." Only two -- when he's wearing his sin right there in his belly! Gluttony is the jovial sin. But like all sin, it leads to death. Be encouraged, if you're a glutton and are fat -- it's reversible! It requires discipline, and a long view with slow progress. It took us 24 years to get this fat. I think a year or two to lose those pounds is reasonable, don't you?