New Blooms!

Just a short post to share the newest blooms in the yard.

First blooms on my flowering cherry! The tree is full of buds. I’ll share a full picture next week.

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The lilac is doing well. It got a bit rangy, so the recommendation was to prune one half at a time, as lilacs don’t really like being pruned that much and might not bloom if you are too harsh. I pruned quite a bit last year, but left the highest branches alone. The reward? A big bloom WAY UP HIGH! This is well above the roofline. So I will prune those high branches after its done blooming this year, hoping to get some blooms down to the level where I can see and smell them!

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And the New York lily of the valley! In case anyone missed it, I call these “New York lily of the valley” because my blog friend Lori sent them to me. It makes them extra special.

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Have a great weekend. Hoping for some springtime weather for EVERYONE!!

 

Thinking About Food… or Not

Frequently, I read weight loss bloggers lamenting the amount of thinking they have to do about food in order to lose weight and/or maintain that weight loss. I have periodically complained about that myself on this blog.

But first I want to point out that there are at least two different ways that I (and maybe you) think about food.

The first is the way we are usually thinking when we complain. The obsessive “can I eat this?” or “will this fit into my points/calorie allotment/food plan?” This thinking is what wears us out.

The second thinking we can do about food is completely pleasurable. You know I watch a lot of food shows. Those chefs think a LOT about food. They love everything about it, like an artist enjoys his paints and canvases (or fabric and thread :) ) I enjoy reading and then trying a new recipe. I love to think about how I can increase the flavor of something without adding calories. Re-working a recipe to make it healthier, so I can enjoy it on a regular basis, is more fun than doing a jigsaw puzzle. Okay, bad example. Jigsaw puzzles aren’t really that fun. Anyway, there is no reason to eliminate this kind of thinking.

For most of us, we will always have to be vigilant, and we will have to spend some time thinking and planning our meals so that we can lose weight or maintain a weight loss. But there are plenty of things you can do to minimize the amount of thinking you have to do.

  • Find a basic assortment of “favored” healthy foods that you enjoy.
  • Keep those foods stocked in your refrigerator.
  • Batch cook, and freeze in individual portions.
  • Watch for new recipes, or experiment yourself with different ways of combining your favored foods.

The longer you continue to eat in a certain way, the more familiar you become with the nutritional information and calorie count of those foods. I’m not talking about eating the same three foods over and over. You can have a pretty diverse diet without having to think too much at all.

As much as I enjoy food and food preparation and baking and cooking, it might surprise people to observe me for a week. Many days I don’t do any cooking at all. It is more assembling or thawing. This works very well for me. I don’t really have to do much thinking at all. I already know the calorie count of so many of the foods I eat. I still use my measuring cups to portion out things like yogurt and cottage cheese. I have a food scale on the counter for when I do need to weigh food. Sometimes I track my food online, and sometimes I just write it on a scrap of paper. Lots of times my food choices are so familiar that I just track it in my mind.

Think about food now. Its like practicing the piano. Pretty soon you will be able to play that melody (or make a healthy meal) without thinking about it at all.

Scenes From the Garden

Every day there is something new to discover in the garden. Isn’t that one of the most fun things about gardening–exploring to see what is coming up, what made it from last year, new volunteers, Oh, what is that little plant?!

The first sighting of my "New York Lily of the Valley!"

The first sighting of my “New York Lily of the Valley!”

This has been the best spring I can remember. I still hold my breath a little, because we used to get freezing temps in April and May. I haven’t allowed myself to buy any frost-tender plants yet. But it looks like its just going to continue on being spring.

The tulips have enjoyed this unusual weather. Best tulip year ever!

The tulips have enjoyed this unusual weather. Best tulip year ever!

New buds on the trees–anticipation!

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More frequent trips to the nursery!

A new variety of coral bells.

A new variety of coral bells.

I tried to get a nice picture of Noah after his bath. He insists on patrolling the yard when I am out there. When I am not outside, he sleeps 24/7.

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And he finally stopped. Not in the most picturesque place….

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And our latest big project! We needed to get this last Japanese maple in the ground. Last year it did not do well in the heat.

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MLG had the idea to cut the bottom off of the pot–it looks like the pot’s buried, but its just the rim. I think its a very cool effect! Plus, this gave me a place to plant MORE GROUNDCOVERS :) I love ground cover. Here I planted lemon thyme, armeria (new to me,) and in the shade some of my beloved corsican mint.

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Take time to enjoy the springtime. And for my friends in the cold east, my best wishes that you will soon have your own spring to enjoy!

Two Loops

Lately I’ve had a couple of thought loops running through my mind. I think it has something to do with turning 60. The loops do not intersect. It seems they run on separate tracks, although they are about the same topic.

The first loop is this:

I am 60 years old. I do not want to spend the rest of my life obsessing about food and weight and weight loss and weight gain and weight maintenance. I want to live the best possible life, the most meaningful spiritual life that I can. I want to enjoy a meal with friends, accept a treat when offered. I want to celebrate with food occasionally. I want to physically be able to serve God and serve others. I think often about Dallas Willard (the author I loved so much.) He lived the life I seek. “Dallas Willard would not obsess over food decisions like this,” I often think.

I am not talking about gaining weight back. But to eat this way, I need to be content to maintain at a higher weight range.

The second loop is this:

My back hurts. It would help if you lost some weight.

Yep, that’s the whole loop. While my back would not be healed by weight loss, I know for a fact that losing weight does decrease pain.

For a while, these two loops went through my mind on a daily basis. Each of them I acknowledge as truthful statements. But each of them requires that I make a decision and act on it. That has not exactly happened. One day I will follow one loop, and the next day I will follow the other. This, at least, keeps me maintaining my weight at this higher level.

You know, the truth is, that by “not making a decision to follow one loop or the other,” I actually have made a decision. For now, the truth is that I have made a decision to not actively pursue weight loss. To hold life a little less tightly. To live with a bit of pain and a little less angst. To still eat from a very healthy food template and to exercise on a regular basis. But to understand and agree that weight will not be lost this way. And for now, that’s okay.

Its Definitely Spring

Last weekend I was in the Bay Area visiting my mom. The sky and the green hills were particularly beautiful that day. You can see “Niles” painted on the side of the hill. That has been there since I was a little kid! My mom said they periodically go up and whitewash it.

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And just turning in a different direction:

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Then this weekend in my garden:

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the flowering almond is doing very well this year:

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This plant just says “Springtime!” to me.

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Some new hyacinths that are an unusual color. And Noah didn’t knock them down either :)

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Icelandic Poppy. I am going to get more of these next year. I think they are one of the plants that does best if you plant it in the fall.

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A pretty color combo.

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This camellia is one of the first plants I ever planted here (28 years ago!) It has never done well in its current location, and MLG and I were planning to move it, and then this year it decided to put on a big show!

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Chinese Fringe Bush. This plant almost gave up when I had it in a container, but now after being in the ground for a couple of years, it is doing extremely well. It blooms through several seasons, and I have seen it used in commercial landscaping, so I think it is a pretty easy keeper. I think the flowers are very different and pretty.

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Muscari?

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The tulips came back!

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And plenty of daffodils and narcissus.

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I’m including this picture for my gardening/landscaping friends. It doesn’t look like much now, but I am most excited about this. One day a couple weeks ago, I just got it into my head to put all the rest of my Japanese maples into the ground. And the very next time MLG came around, he dug four giant holes in this hard rocky ground, and got those big trees out of their giant pots, and put them in the ground for me. I’m hoping they will be much happier there, and will give me a better show next fall.

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Yep, spring has arrived in Northern California!

Storage and Garden Report

First of all, I want to say a heartfelt THANK YOU for all the nice comments on my last blog about Mr. Monk. You all knew him better than most of my friends! All of us are doing fine. Especially Queen Sophie. After she got over her worry that she might be the next to be “banished” from the kingdom, she has taken back her “rightful place” on the chair next to me in the evenings.

And, I also wanted to thank so many of you for your interesting and informative comments on the previous blog about my knee. Since I wrote that, my first ortho doc got back in touch with me. He had been battling the insurance company all this time (over their refusal to approve the Orthovisc injections), and now advised me to file a complaint with the State Department of Managed Health Care. I completed that today. It will be interesting to see what comes of this.

In the meantime, how about a report on some everyday life stuff :)

Last week J. the contractor came back to finish the little pantry and add shelves to the laundry room. Squeee!!! MORE STORAGE SPACE. I hardly know what to do with it all.

Here’s the pantry. That’s all I’ve put in it so far. I have those two big corner cupboards with lazy susans in them in the kitchen. I’m not sure what to put there, and what to put in the pantry. If anyone has ideas or opinions, feel free to share.

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And here’s the laundry room shelves. Plenty of extra storage up there for I don’t know what!

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I also had J. put this little hanging cupboard in the mudroom. It used to be in my bathroom. I still liked it so finally decided that this would be the place for it.

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I tell you, for someone whose ONLY storage space for many years was a big closet in her bedroom, I feel like I’ve hit the storage jackpot!

And here is a view of the garden. Still pretty bare, but things are sprouting. There are little buds on all the trees. Its fun to go out there and scope things out every day. I have to be careful to not get carried away with planting, because there’s still a real possibility that we will get some frost, up until May.

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The camellia bush is chock full of buds. The Pink Flower Thief is keeping a close eye on it….

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The Long Farewell

“The Long Farewell”–I thought the title would be fitting for a dog named after an iconic television character. Kinda like the episode name for a TV series finale. Mr. Monk is one of the best dogs I’ve ever had the privilege of owning. And believe me, I’ve owned a lot of dogs.

I found him on Petfinder. He was at the pound in Sacramento. A stray that no one claimed, they guessed his age at 8 years old. So I got the senior citizen discount (him, not me :) ) The best $47.50 I ever spent.

The first time I met Mr. Monk (he still had anesthesia on board–that’s why he looks so pitiful.)

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He was a dignified gentleman.

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Over a year ago he developed what we at first thought was arthritis, but then turned out to be a slowly progressive neuromuscular disease. There were a couple of times that I thought we were going to lose him. But I was blessed that with a good vet, some good medicine, and a little assist from me, he was able to have a good life for the past year.

I will miss my little man.

Photo on 12-4-13 at 12.56 PM #2