Thinking it Through

Be Your Own Good Parent
Be Your Own Good Parent

Last night I had a hard time sleeping and stayed up very late.  After awhile I got physically hungry, but I had no calories left, and I found myself craving all kinds of rich foods.  

I did ok by just ignoring the cravings for awhile.  And to help with the hunger, I ate a can of sliced beets. I really like beets.  The pickled variety contains a lot of sugar, but these were just plain sliced beets. They are a relatively low calorie vegetable, loaded with good nutrition.  For that reason, I did not worry about the few calories that they do contain.  Eating them helped my hunger pangs.  But I was working on technical stuff, and some things were not going my way. That added a little stress to the equation, so the cravings returned with a vengeance.

I started zeroing in on all the good things we have to eat in the house and my focus settled on the Fritoes Scoops and a small amount of Hot Bean Dip that was left in the fridge.  Again, I had no calories left for that at all and after the beets, I can’t say that I was really, physically hungry anymore.  Still, they were calling my name.  I almost got them out and ate them, but mentally, I was trying to talk myself out of it.

Finally, I like to think I took the leadership role with my inner child. First I said, “Ok, just go stretch out on the couch and think about this for a few minutes”.  That was a really helpful tactic.  Because while I was lying there, I thought of things like, what all I had eaten that day, and how I have already lost 11 – 1/4#, and how I wanted to see a loss on the scale tomorrow morning,…  So it refreshed me a little and kind of balanced my mood.  Then I said, “Ok, you can have the fritoes and bean dip in the morning.  Right now, have a glass of tea, and in the morning, have the fritoes and bean dip for breakfast”.

Interestingly, this few minutes of rest allowed me some time to settle down, so pretty soon after that, I just got up and quickly cleaned the kitchen.  Then I went to bed.

The adult in me did prevail.  And the scale showed a 1/4# loss this morning, which I am very happy about!  For breakfast, I enjoyed Fritoes Scoops and Hot Bean Dip 🙂  I suppose I could have bribed my inner child if I had needed to.  “Put this off until morning and you can order a book from Amazon”. Something like that. Whatever works!!

Calorie counting requires a little bit of self-discipline from time to time. Sometimes you just have to gently put your foot down and be your own good parent.  I’m beginning to realize, it is important to love and care for yourself as you would, your own child.

Beware of Coyotes

Boquillas Canyon
Boquillas Canyon

Glenn and I used to travel a lot.  Our favorite thing to do was camping, because we could save money, enjoy the outdoors, and even bring Valentine, our sweet little chihuahua. She loved our travels too. One of our favorite places to go was Big Bend National Park, part of the ruggedly beautiful Rocky Mountains, and located on the Texas – Mexico border.

There are a lot of fun things to do and beautiful things to see at Big Bend.  The visitor center is very nice.  There are beautiful hiking trails, a great natural hot spring, and the Rio Grande River.  Now the ferry to Boquillas, Mexico has been opened, I hear.  And at Big Bend, they have a great respect for wildlife, so you see a lot of it.

The Mexican citizens that live around Big Bend, swim across the river and sneak up to the trails unnoticed, laying out their handmade trinkets.  You can leave your money in the jar.  Some of their stuff is really neat. They offer nice, painted walking sticks that they make out of the native plants called Agaves, a dessert succulent. The trail that goes to Boquillas Canyon is probably my favorite.  It’s not a long trail, maybe a mile. But it’s rocky, and goes up and down a lot.  The first time we walked it, Glenn bought me a stick, and one for himself. They really helped, and made great souvenirs, but we found out that we shouldn’t have bought them.

The walk there is not scenic as I recall, but once we arrived, we were awstruck by the beauty of Boquillas Canyon, with it’s tall cliffs rising over the river and beautiful horses grazing on green grasses.  The flat bank leading up to it is the perfect place to sit and rest for a while.   That same evening, we sat on the bank and ate our picnic. While across the river, a Mexican man sat on a hilltop and sang to us. It was so very romantic, a memory I treasure!

The park rangers run a tight ship, and they explain the importance of keeping your camp clean.  All food has to go in a vault, any left out will encourage the coyotes and hogs.  We had gone for a dip in the hot spring one morning and when we returned, a park ranger was waiting for us.  We had left a tube of lip balm on the picnic table.  He made a big point of telling us not do that again!  At night when you go to the bathroom, you’ll probably meet a coyote.  They really feel at home, at Big Bend.

Pets are supposed to be on a leash at all times.  And you hear stories about how the coyotes have come into camp and taken the pets.  So we were very cautious with Valentine.  Still, we were there for a week, and she had to get off that leash, some.  We just tried to watch her close when we let her off.

She had a little pink pig toy that she loved.  We accidentally left it outside one night,  And when we got up the next morning,  The tail had been carefully chewed off and left there, beside the toy.  That afternoon, we let her off her leash for a little while and she was sniffing around the camp.  Suddenly she started running away from camp!  Glenn yelled at her in a sharp voice, and she stopped.  On the edge of the thicket there was a coyote sitting there in broad daylight, acting playful and making eye contact with her.  It was seducing her.   She had seen it and started running toward it.  Glenn picked her up and brought her back to our camp, but not before scaring off the coyote.

It scared me to death!  She could have been a salty snack! We will never take her back to Big Bend!

When it was time to leave, we packed up and drove about 30 miles to the border patrol station.  They saw our walking sticks, and had a fit! Apparently it is illegal to buy those trinkets off the trails. They wanted to search our car, and even threatened to confiscate it.  That would have been terrible, we were a long way from home!  They finally relented, but they probably held us up for 30 minutes at least. It surprised me though, that they let us keep them!

A Big Bend adventure is like no other.  It’s a wild place that will touch just about every nerve you’ve got!  Seeing it through the eyes of a hiker, rather than from the car window, adds volumes to the experience.  It makes a wonderful vacation destination in winter, spring, and fall, but should be avoided in summer.  It is a place where memories are made.  But, bring your own walking stick, and beware of those coyotes!

My Incredible Aloe Vera Plant


A couple of years ago, I stumbled across a great way to grow Aloe Vera.  I bought a small start from the local garden center.  It was only about 2” around and maybe 6” tall.  I brought it home, potted it, and that small start grew into an enormous plant.  I just went out and measured it.  At its widest point, it is 56” across, and it is 3 feet tall.  Some of the leaves are 3 ½ inches across at their base, and the largest leaves are 1 ¼ inch thick.  I didn’t even know what I was doing but I just really hit it right on this one.

One issue with Aloe Vera is the sheer weight of the plant.  It’s really not suitable for a plastic pot.  Another thing about this plant, is that too much rain, or over-watering will cause it to get black spots all over the leaves.  I did not want these 2 things to happen, and that was my basis for the decisions I made regarding how to go about potting it.

First of all, I chose a heavy pot.  I felt like neither the weight of the plant, nor the wind would be causing it to tip over, that way.  Also, we had a bunch of compost ready, so I decided I would include that in my mix.  What follows is my method for potting this plant:

  • I chose an 8” terra cotta pot.  I cleaned it and placed a curved shard from a broken clay pot over the drain hole.
  • I put a layer of about 3” of pea gravel down in the bottom, hoping the good drainage would keep away the black spots if we had a lot of rain.
  • I made a mix of 50% homemade compost and 50% sandy loam, I moistened the mixture a bit and added it to my pot.
  • I hollowed out a place for my little start, and placed it down in my mix, still packed in the soil it was rooted in.
  • I made a thin top-layer out of pea gravel, reasoning that it may act like a mulch and keep the plant cool.
  • The best sun I could get for it was a west exposure that was protected until noon.  So that’s where I put it.

This plant took off immediately.  Very quickly, it was very beautiful!  It did not matter how much rain we got, this plant could not be over-watered and has never had a black spot on it!  After the first year, I had to put it into a 12” pot.  And I used the exact same method that time too, except I probably had a 5” layer of pea gravel at the bottom.  It’s been moved to the sun room and enjoys a south exposure now.  Since it is extremely heavy, I don’t plan to take it out again.  It has been magnificent, so beautiful, and perfectly balanced!!  Recently, it has gotten so big, that the leaves are wanting to break down a little.  In the prime of its life, it gave me only one baby, which is still pretty small.  I plan to make a fresh start with that one.

Fighting Back on Tough Days!

healthysnacksAt 7:00 this evening, I had only 50 calories left for my day.  That’s not good, because I usually have about 500 left at that time of day.  But I was busy at 7:00, so it really wasn’t a big deal.  The problem came around 10:00 pm, at which time I am accustomed to sitting down to a nice, late supper.  I knew it was going to happen, and sure enough, it did.

There are several good things to eat in our house right now.  We have zucchini bread, Fritoes and bean dip, pimento cheese and Wheat Thins, Sunchips,… to name a few.  When I have the calories to spare, I Iike to include a couple of things off that list, but tonight I had nothing!!  And I was seriously considering that zucchini bread.  After all, i was probably going to blow it, anyway!  Then I thought about how I have stuck my neck out pretty far on this whole calorie counting thing, and that gave me a little desire to try harder.  I guess accountability is a good thing!

Instead of blowing it, I decided to work on this Calorie Crusader email, which is kind of like journaling, it helps me a lot!  I usually write it on Friday mornings, but I thought now would be a good time to get busy doing something, since I am not extremely tired at the moment.

First, I looked over my notes that I have accumulated throughout the week.  Then, I sat down at my computer with a bottle of cold water and 3 slices of Oscar Meyer boiled ham. That’s 70 calories worth of ham.  And the reason is, I have noticed that pure protein not only makes me feel better when I am so hungry that I feel kind of sick, but it  also kills unwanted cravings.  So I ate the ham,  and I am sipping on the water as I write this.  I can still have fruits and veges tonight too, because I never count those.  I now  feel like I am out of the woods!!  I was just having a pity party, I guess.

You wouldn’t believe how many times in the past I have “chosen the zucchini bread”.  And then the chips and everything else would follow, because, “oh well”!  That’s the wrong attitude and I call it a “diet mentality”.  Fighting through this evening has given me a fresh focus on my goal.  And my goal is, to make a permanent place for calorie counting in my life!  So it’s good to be learning some tricks that work.

Creepy October

Black cats are being overlooked in favour of more selfiegenic ones.I suppose it is fitting, that October would go this way. It has truly been creepy so far! The disasters began right at the beginning of the month,…

It is my custom to walk down to Mom and Dad’s house each evening and tend to their needs before bed. This night was no different. We took care of the meds, the kitchen, caught up on the events of the day, said our “i love you’s” and then I went on back home.

At this point, I will add that Glenn and I live in an old school building. It’s enormous and sits on a very large and deep, pier and beam foundation. Here and there, at the ground level of the bricks, there are little vent areas where you can observe underneath. When my Dad bought this building, he turned some of the classrooms into living spaces. He crawled under the building and put down all the pipe for the plumbing himself, and it held up for a long time. But this is 45 years later, …

So, I had walked home from Mom and Dad’s that evening. And as I passed by the vent area in the bricks, I could hear a gushing of water coming from underneath the building, obviously a busted pipe. We don’t know how long it had been like that, could have been days, we haven’t got the water bill yet. Glenn went out to turn off the cut-off, but the water still poured. He turned things off at the meter and the water still poured. Finally he turned off the hot water heater and that stopped it. When he went down under the next morning, he found things extremely wet. So he put several fans down there to dry things out. It turned out to be a major plumbing job, replacing old, worn out pipes. The whole thing really scared me. I was worried about the foundation, but I guess it’s ok. We still have the fans blowing down there, 2 weeks later.

So we got past that disaster. Then last night, as I was leaving out to go to Mom and Dad’s, there was a rattlesnake on our porch steps. Not a real big one, about 15 inches long. But they say those are the most dangerous! Glenn got a shovel and chopped it’s head off. It’s still out there, the ants are eating it. We got past that.

Tonight, I was driving home from a Master Gardener meeting, about 9:00 pm. I had just entered a stretch of road that was very curvy when my tire blew out, in the pitch dark middle of nowhere! I got out my phone, no service. Looked around, no houses that I could see. Talk about creepy! Well, thank goodness, after an uncomfortable 10 minutes or so, 2 bars of service showed up and I was able to get through to Glenn! He came really fast in Dad’s truck and put on the spare. Glenn saves my life on a regular basis.  Just before he was going to follow me home, I said to him, “Did you know that there is a garden trailer hooked to the back of the truck”? He had not noticed. So anyway, we got into our vehicles and took off down the dark road.

After a few minutes of driving, I noticed that he was no longer close behind me, but way back there, and appeared to be stopped, so I turned around and went back. He said the trailer had broken and sent me up the road to see if I could find any parts strung out on the highway, about a 10 mile round trip. As for Glenn, the back of the truck was full of stuff, and besides, it was too heavy anyway, so he had no choice but to drive home going about 5 miles an hour, dragging a trailer with no axel.

So anyway, how’s your October going?

A Fish Story

89 years old
89 years old

written for Father’s Day 2015

When I was in my early 40’s, and after my world had turned upside down, I found myself living with Mom and Dad again.  They had welcomed me home with open arms, and never once complained. But it seems like, as old as I was, the whole situation put them in the position of having to raise me all over again!   So once again, Dad was boss!!

…One day, after a deluge of rain had fallen the night before, Dad came to me and said, “put on your rubber boots, i need your help”.  I pulled them on, we went out and drew up buckets of water and put them on the golf cart.  Then he drove me out to the large area where the pond had gone out way beyond it’s banks. The water had already receded somewhat but everything was still quite wet.  And there were puddles, little and big, everywhere we looked.  He showed me that in these puddles were little fish, up to 6 inches long, that had gotten out of the pond and had become trapped after the water had gone back down.  He reached down and began picking up the fish and putting them in the buckets.  They were still alive!  So, that’s what we did that day!  Picked up fish, put them in the buckets.   Then when a bucket got full, we took it to the pond and let them go.

We did that for hours… 🙂  My Dad, the naturalist!  A great memory I will always treasure!!  I love you Dad, Happy Father’s Day! 🙂

Calorie Counting and…

An Important Calorie Counting Tool
An Important Calorie Counting Tool

Hope y’all are having a good week!! It has gone pretty well for me. The plumbing disaster is resolved, now. My mom had her 88th birthday and we had a family party. That presented some challenges but I came through it ok and actually lost weight this week.

For the party, my sister brought everyone a hamburger from Dairy Queen and potato salad and Tres Leche cake from HEB. I partook in all of it and planned to not eat anything else that day, hoping not to go over too far.

After I got home, it occurred to me that Dairy Queen would have their nutrition posted online. So I googled “dairy queen hunger buster nutrition”. It took me right to a nutrition page for everything on the dairy queen menu. So I did get my proper count on that. HEB did not have the nutrition info on the cake box. I googled that too, “HEB tres leche cake calories”. Again, it showed me right away, what I needed to see. I googled “HEB mustard potato salad”. 3 for 3, I got all the information I needed. Very easily, I might add. It turns out that I did not go over on calories, but it was close, the rest of the day I just ate vegetables and drank tea. Woke up the next morning, and the scale showed a loss!! Calorie counting with google is awesome!!

Type the word, “egg” in the address bar, and right on the search page, google has placed some wonderful, reliable nutrition facts all about the egg. Including the calorie count. Type “apple”, “avocado”, “cheese”, “milk”, “butter”, “sugar”, “beef”, “rice”, …. Any natural food will give you a similar result in google. Fabulous help for calorie counting. Google was able to help me get through Mom’s party and I use it daily to look up one food or another.

Staying Focused

Stay Focused on your Goal
Stay Focused on your Goal

In times of stress, it is difficult for me to stay focused on calorie counting. I may get in a hurry and not count my calories, or not weigh or measure my amounts. I may crave foods that tend to eat up my calorie allowance too quickly. That’s kind of how the last couple of days have gone.  I believe however, that taking a day off from calorie counting, really is not a terrible calorie counting problem.

What I do think though, is that it is important to get right back with it. I can think of all the many diets I have ever tried, and if I ever got off the diet, that was pretty much the end of that diet. But I am taking another approach here. I am learning how to live realistically with calorie counting.

There are always going to be stressers in life. So yeah, I might take a day off from calorie counting. But the important thing is that I get back with it right away. And try, try not to get off track very often!! Since this is a lifestyle change and not a temporary diet, I have decided that I may not be an “A” student at this every day. some days I may be a “C” student. I’m still going to graduate, though!!

Healthy Feet

Healthy Feet are Important
Healthy Feet are Important

I just figured out something that works really good for me and might work good for you too. At this juncture, with my weight being what it is and just with being older, I am unable to clean my feet very well. And they get really dirty sometimes.   So it occurred to me that a dish brush might work well for that. I had an extra and I tried it just now. It helped a lot . Did an excellent job!! This one I got at Wal-Mart. It is white with blue and white bristles and a long handle. Kind of a medium soft bristle. It did the trick and I am sitting here staring at my nice clean feet. Which I have not been able to do in a long time. Hope this will be a help to you.


A Fresh New Day
A Fresh New Day

I like to journal.  For years, I have put them in spiral notebooks.  And when I fill one up, I just throw it away.  Folks have been telling me that I need to save them. But seriously, it would be a mountain of paper!  So I thought I would try out blogging.  See how it goes.

I like to stay  busy.   Right now I am building 3 websites and learning a new programming language, operating my cottage kitchen, progressing towards the opening of our store, running a household, trying to lose weight, and last but not least, taking care of my elderly parents.   This kind of keeps things fresh, as I change from task to task many times each day.

I want to write about life, as it is around here with me.  I want a record of things. And I would love to share it with others.

I love life!  And there is not a single other one that I would rather be living more, than mine.