Friday, September 30, 2011

A Diet to Die For

It was going so well. My appointment with the nutritionist, that is. Since my diet leans pretty much toward vegetarian, I thought it might not be a bad idea to meet with a nutritionist and make sure I was eating healthy. You know, getting all my vitamins and minerals, stuff like that.

She reviewed my food diary, taking notes, asking questions here and there, smiling and nodding with each of my answers. "Good, good," she'd murmur, saying things like, "Fish oil? Excellent!" "Wild blueberries, flax seed and almond milk with your oatmeal? Wonderful!" and "Tofu, salmon, brown rice? Great choice."

This nutritionist was loving me. I was her dream client, the kind they must fantasize about in the classroom. "How about snacks?" she asked.

"I don't really snack and when I do it's mostly almonds and raisins," I replied, watching her head bounce enthusiastically like a Bobble Head doll. "Sometimes carrots, sugar snap peas or plain Greek yogurt. Oh, but I often have wine with dinner," I admitted, expecting a slap on the hand.

"Red?" she asked. When I nodded, she advised that red wine was an antioxidant and actually good for the heart. "You've got a very healthy diet," she said with obvious delight. "I wouldn't change a thing."

But wait, there's more.

"I do have a couple vices," I confessed. "I eat two homemade chocolate chip cookies after dinner almost every night."

"Just two?" she asked. When I said yes, she laughed and said that was nothing. Nothing! "Two cookies are perfectly fine." I figured she didn't need to know that each one was the size of a pie plate. Obviously, I could do no wrong with this gal. Or so I thought.

"And one more thing," I added as she was preparing to close my file. "I eat raw chocolate chip cookie dough."

The smile on her face faded faster than a Seattle suntan. In the silence of her office, you could almost hear the needle scratching across the vinyl.

"You WHAT?" she asked, her gaping jaw almost hitting her knees. "With RAW eggs?"

Ruh roh, Scooby Doo. I couldn't backpedal out of this one. The toothpaste was out of the tube. "Uh, yeah," I confessed.

Thus our nutrutional lovefest came to a screeching halt as she admonished me with threats of salmonella and listeria. I may only have one vice, but apparently it's a whopper.

Sigh. And things were going so well.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

'Cause I Wanna

So there I was at this party with a most unusual theme: it was a celebration of the autumnal equinox, which not only marks the beginning of fall, but is also known as The Witches Thanksgiving. It's considered a day of thanks for Wiccans.

How could I resist? Besides, I'm sure I've been called a witch at some time or another. Or at least something that rhymes with it.

The evening also supported a good cause, hosting three large bins to collect "the bounty of the harvest" for the Alameda County Food Bank. Excellent company, tasty hors d'oeuvres, festive decorations. Oh yeah, and did I mention the psychic?

That's right. My friend Sue hired a psychic named Rabbit and generously scheduled readings for each guest. Her intent was that we not just have a good time, but that we walk away with "something memorable, deep and meaningful."

Mission accomplished.

During my private session, Rabbit identified that in the course of grieving the death of a loved one, I'd forgotten how to be happy. How to appreciate those little moments in life that add color, meaning and joy. "I don't mean hopping on a plane to Paris or buying a new car," she explained. "I mean doing little things that make you happy, like indulging in a hot fudge sundae or taking a mid-afternoon nap even though the floor needs mopping. Do it 'cause you wanna."

That should be my new mantra, she advised. 'Cause I wanna.

"If that feels too self-indulgent, look at others around you and do something for them," she continued. "And do so in the name of your loved one. Make someone else happy in her name, 'cause I wanna."

Now I know that sceptics might argue that this is verbiage straight from any Grief Therapy 101 manual, and I might agree. Except, how could I explain how Rabbit knew very specific details about my mother's death? Details that I didn't confirm or deny, but most definitely hit the mark.

This weekend, I remembered her words when I popped off a check to the East Bay SPCA even though I have bills to pay. Enjoyed a leisurely lunch with my sister when I should have been working on a writing assignment. Took time to notice the beautiful sunrise from my bedroom window. And last but not least, I asked Stu Homer, of Golden State Greyhound Adoption, about available fosters. It may be time to find Elvis a companion.

'Cause I wanna. And you know what? It felt good.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Such a Good Boy

This morning, after feeding Elvis, I offer him his usual cookie for dessert, but he ever-so-politely declines. What the...?

Instead, he looks out the sliding glass door and then looks back at me with a worried expression on his gentle face. Out the window again, back at me, back and forth, back and forth. Clearly, something is bothering my dog. What is it, Lassie? What are you trying to tell me? I follow his gaze and look out the window towards my small yard, half-expecting to see an intruder of some sort, maybe a roaming rat or rabid raccoon. Nothing.

Then I notice that his doggie door is locked. And with a jolt, I remember that when I was power-washing the windows, I had locked his doggie door to prevent leakage -- over 15 hours ago. Despite having two meals since then, Elvis had "held it" without a single accident in the house. Not an easy feat, which was evident when I unlocked the door and he immediately bolted outside.

The boy's getting extra belly rubs and kisses tonight. Not to mention a few strips of roasted chicken with his dinner. I think he's earned it.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Read it Here First: Why Women Shop

I get it. Now I know why women enjoy shopping for clothes. Even if we hate the actual physical act of being inside a stuffy, claustrophobic mall, we can shop online to our heart's content and voila! Instant gratification: "Heather grey, size six, bootcut, click, send." It's why God and Al Gore invented the Internet.

Ah, but household goods are another story.
For the first time in many moons, I have a little financial wiggle room. I've prepaid my estimated taxes and Home Owner's Association dues. No vet bills. A freelance assignment paid off the hot water heater I had to replace and the car is running fine. I actually have a couple extra dollars to do some upgrades around the house. Nothing major, just swap out a few fixtures, like that generic white ceiling fan with an elegant cherry wood fan. Simple, right?

One would think.

The current fan hangs near the staircase on a 20-foot ceiling. And apparently my home is the first and only home in California to have 20-foot ceilings because I couldn't find an electrician with a high enough ladder. Really?
By the time I finally found one, I was so grateful, I didn't care that his installation fee was three times the cost of the fan. He was supposed to come out last Saturday, but called to apologize. Someone had borrowed his ladder. We rescheduled for Wednesday evening. Again, someone borrowed his ladder. We re-booked for Saturday morning and--take a wild guess--someone borrowed his ladder. We have now rescheduled for next Saturday, but don't hold your breath folks. Apparently there's a run for 20-foot ladders.
I would also like to swap out my patio sliding glass door with a grid door. I found just the one I want at Home Depot and, at $460, it's within my budget. Should be an easy enough project--just slip out the old and insert the new, right?
Dream on, Kimosabe.
First, Home Depot had to schedule a contractor to come out and measure my existing door because apparently amateurs don't know how to use a measuring tape. Never mind that my measurements ended up matching his. The official numbers had to come from the official Mr. Contractor measuring tape. At the tune of $50. Non-refundable, of course.
Eight days later, Home Depot called to advise that the half-day project would run a whopping $1600. Why so much? They had to tear out the frame, remove the floor around the door, insert the door, rebuild the frame, re-do the floor, do the Hokey Pokey and haul away the old door.
Okay, so ixnay on the new oorday. I still have the fan to look forward to, right? Which was purchased one month ago and is still sitting in my garage.
This is why I'm turning to the Internet. Forgive me, but I'm in dire need of instant gratification.
"Heather grey, size 6, bootcut, click, send."

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Words to Live By

"The guy who invented the first wheel was an idiot. The guy who invented the other three, he was a genius."

~Sid Caesar

Thursday, September 8, 2011

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

"A boozed up moose in Sweden ended up getting stuck in an apple tree in an attempt for just one more taste of the fermented fruit that put the animal in its condition.

The elk most likely got stuck while reaching high to get more apples at the top of the tree. After it was freed, it passed out out on the ground for awhile , but emergency services ascertained it was still alive.

By morning the animal was gone, most likely out buying painkillers and coffee."

~Abbreviated from the 9/8/11 edition of The Long Island Press

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Golden Years

Elvis is sleeping more these days. Deeper, too. Used to be when I came home from work, he'd come racing to the door to greet me, doing a little happy dance that translated as, "She came back, she came back!!!"

Now, he often doesn't even know I'm home. Not until I lean over his snoring figure, stretched across his La-Z-Dog recliner, and stroke his velvety neck. "Hi baby," I greet him. "Let's go bye-bye!" After all, he's been indoors for almost ten hours. With access to the yard, of course, but still, there's nothing like a walk to the park, right? Fresh air, exciting new smells, and hanging with his peeps, like Gus the pit bull, Mandy the chihuahua, Apollo the golden retriever and Sadie the lab. Yep, our park is quite the canine social scene.

Most days Elvis is ready and willing, but lately I'm getting a new look. One that says, "You go on ahead, we'll catch up later." And back to sleep he goes.

'm not surprised. After all, my boy is 12. Since most large dogs have a life expectancy of 12-14 years, I'm all too aware that every day I have with Elvis is just a little more precious than the last. He's healthy, thank God. Much slower, but hey, aren't we all?

This is why I'm relishing our time together and trying to not think about how long that may be. I'm lavishing him with more attention than usual, such as our new evening ritual: every night, I lie alongside Elvis on his La-Z-Dog recliner. I hold him in my arms, stroke his silky face and pepper his needle nose with kisses.

And he closes his eyes and leans against me, tucking his knobby little head under my chin. His gentle face literally vibrates from his chattering teeth (this is an endearing trait unique to the breed called "greyhound chatter" in which their teeth chatter when they're happy or excited). He just eats this up. As do I.

I look at my beautiful boy and hold him tight, tighter. As do I.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Black Bean Brownies

Really, a brownie made with black beans? I had to try 'em. I'm always looking for healthy alternatives, although some desserts are sacred, such as chocolate chip cookies. Fudge. Cheesecake. And yes, brownies.

But what the heck. If I liked 'em, I'd end up saving myself a gazillion calories because trust me, when I make brownies, I enjoy the fruits of my labor. And so, I followed the recipe down to the low-fat sour cream and sugar-substitute, Splenda.

How did the they turn out?

I'll let you know. Just as soon as I'm done rinsing out my mouth.
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