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Sleeping in the Breezes!

14 Jul

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Last night Noel and I slept in the breezes. Our son chickened out and slept downstairs, till we could get the air conditioning fixed this morning, but Noel and I just opened our almost ceiling-to-floor windows and slept in the breezes. Things were pretty still till about 4 AM, but nevertheless we stayed comfortable in our room, despite the temperature in the hallway outside our door creeping up to 84 degrees F.

With the advent of air conditioning, we so seldom sleep in the breezes anymore. When we lived in Germany in the late 1990’s, our non-air conditioned apartment was above a bakery and a butcher shop (both sources of intense heat) so we left our windows open on three sides of the building all summer long! They were not screened either (no mosquitoes in Germany).

We even once went camping near Pisa, Italy in a pup tent (at U.S. Army Camp Darby), with some incredibly refreshing breezes every night except one when it was so still we pulled our sleeping bags out under the trees. Stifling!

Fun memories of fun times.

In more recent days, our son and I spent some vacation time over the summer with my parents at their lake cottage (since sold). We slept on a futon in their screened porch (this was when my son was still a little guy) and very much enjoyed sleeping in the breezes (is there any better way to do that than in a screened porch???).

Then, three years ago, my brother and sister-in-law built a screened porch on to their house and our son got to christen it by being the first person to sleep there overnight. What an enviable position he was in. He especially liked being able to awaken every morning as the sun was rising and see the horses across the street hanging over their fence, ready for breakfast. Lovely!

We did *not* get to sleep in the breezes in June when we stayed in St. Ignace, with our hotel balcony overlooking Lake Huron, as the Michigan Upper Peninsula mosquitoes were big as birds and twice as tenacious that month! How I longed to leave our sliding screen door open to the breezes, but it was not to be.

We all love breezes and probably most of us love sleeping in them. But it is such a rare occurrence in modern times . . .

Aside

“I Only Make Them Once a Year . . .”

17 Dec

At Weight Watchers this week, we were talking about those things we eat at Christmas because someone says, “I only make them once a year and I made them especially for you.”

It is hard enough to hear, “I only make them once a year.”  It is hard enough to hear, “I made them especially for you.”  

But combine those two and it is hard to refuse the treat (usually baked goods), no matter how hard you may have worked to budget Weight Watcher points for your day/week/month. 

I thought right after that, while looking at a poster of plump blueberries and ripe strawberries on the wall of the Weight Watchers meeting, how we always want to make intricate desserts for those we love. God makes these lovely berries, as the most intricate of desserts for us.  Since He makes them, we can’t improve on them as a dessert.  We can just serve them.  Even sprinkling sugar on them really does nothing for them when they are naturally ripened.  They are perfection, without needing man’s touch.

They are almost too simple for us to serve to our loved ones, because God did all the hard work involved in growing them. They are totally gifts of His grace and bounty.  And we, being by nature works-oriented, associate our own hard, intricate work with showing love for our family and friends. Thus . . . we bake and bake.

We bake and bake even when we know that delicious fruit, served plain, would be best for us and for our loved ones (I am not advocating always avoiding baked goods, as we have Weight Watchers weekly points for just such things–there is a balance to be found, after all!).

And God outdoes us every time.  It is a gift of His grace that He does that.  Just by making His lovely fruits to grow. 

Then I thought of the seasons in which blueberries and strawberries are harvested fresh.  I thought I heard God saying, “I only make them once a year and I made them especially for you!”

And, with a fresh understanding of His grace, love for God surged through me.  He really is the best Friend and Familymember of all.  

Merry Christmas! 

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Great Wolf Lodge is a Great Place for Kids at Heart!

14 Dec

Great Wolf Lodge is a Great Place for Kids at Heart!

I have always had a lot of friends, but I have never been in the “cool clique.” Cliques seemed too restrictive to me–they usually end up telling you who your friends can be!

So, you will understand when I explain how I was when I found myself wandering around the Great Wolf Lodge waterpark Thursday night, after the children had almost all departed for their storyhour with Santa Claus at 8 PM. I was alone, with my husband and his colleague occupied elsewhere. I also had never been to the Great Wolf Lodge
before.

Since the various activities in the waterpark are not clearly marked, I didn’t know which of these deserted places were usually only for children unless someone told me. I wandered through every body of water I could see and tried several fun things to do.

My friends have all chuckled and said that was “so Mary” and how fun my view of life is.

I don’t know how to do life any other way! Try things out or I won’t know whether I like them.

Since I am not worried about being a member of the “cool group,” there was nothing to stop me!!! And I got exercise points as I wandered around, swimming and exploring!!!

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Cooking is the Universal Language!

6 Dec

Cooking is the Universal Language!

This is my new go-to recipe for Spanish flan. I love that it doesn’t have to be immersed in a water bath. The recipe I used for years required me to jeririg up a “double boiler.”

This recipe is not only easy, but it also tastes great!!!

I cook when I am transitioning, when I am under stress, when I am feeling creative . . . (I bet a lot of others do, too).

Our son is coming back home next week, after four and a half months at a college that is a two day drive from here.

We are excited, but stressed, too. There is so much to do before then. And we always compete against that perfect Currier and Ives family Christmas that lives in our brain, don’t we?

Even at 21, our boy still widens his eyes and grins when he gets something unexpected that delights him.

I am looking forward to seeing that look at least once during the month he is home . . .

And I am cooking up a storm!!!

Cheesecake Day!

29 Nov

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This delicious cheesecake is sold at the bakery across from Carnegie Hall in New York City; it is Carnegie Deli cheesecake. The only place to buy it locally (fresh, never frozen) is at Route 58 Deli in Virginia Beach, our most famous Jewish deli.

I went there for a piece of this cheesecake once a month while losing my weight in 2012. I now go once every three weeks. It is my reward for staying on plan. I usually eat it in place of lunch, as it is immense.

And, yes, I count the points in my Weight Watchers tracker.

Today was fun as yesterday was not only Thanksgiving but the first day of Chanukah . . . It felt festive to be in a Jewish deli today!

I will follow this with a post on how my husband and I ate fruits and veggies for Thanksgiving yesterday and left Weight Watcher points on the table at day’s end . . .

A Paradox, Bible-style

27 Nov

You know how the Bible has those paradoxes that unbelievers call contradictions?  Things that seem to not be able to both be true at the same time . . . except they are?

I saw one in action three weeks ago.  I lived it.  I then made a Sunday school lesson out of it.

The Bible says, “For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God” (James 1:20).

It also says, “Surely the wrath of man shall praise Thee; the remainder of wrath shalt Thou restrain . . .”  (Psalm 76:10)

So . . . how can those both be true?  

Let’s pick up my story at my hotel three weeks ago, as I checked out in the morning before an all-night flight from San Diego to Norfolk, Virginia (my home).

I decided to go to the San Diego Art Museum in Balboa Park to while away the time before my flight.  I had plenty of time after that to turn in my rental car and check in for my flight.  

I made a mental note, while navigating to Balboa Park, that I would need to look up a gas station on the way to the airport.  San Diego is so compact that I could get from my hotel to Balboa Park in less than ten minutes, then get from the park to the airport in less than ten minutes as well.  But San Diego is also old and doesn’t have many chain stores or gas stations just standing around–at least I saw very few in my two weeks there, going most places on the I-5. There  were not many chains located within a few blocks of my exits from I-5.

So, while at lunch in Balboa Park, I found a gas station on Google, as I looked up my directions to the airport.  Problem is, when I drove those directions, I never saw the station.  Either it was not there anymore or it was one block off of the beaten path or . . . I just never saw it.  

So it was that I ended up at the turn for where I had to drop off the rental car with . . . half a tank of gas.  And I knew my company would be furious if I turned in a half-full car.  That is expensive!

I decided to keep going, straight ahead, on the shore drive that seemed to run through the airport.  Our Norfolk airport is a deadend, but this one did not appear to be.  There were exits in every direction to various airport facilities, but the road itself kept going on.  

It was about three in the afternoon and it was stop and start traffic.  Especially with so many of us out-of-towners driving in that area.  

I later found out it was the hour that many Marines were checking into nearby hotels for the Marine Corps Ball that night.  

The young lady who was behind me in traffic may have been a Marine anxious to get to her hotel.  All I know is that I suddenly noticed she seemed to be holding me responsible for the entire traffic pattern in that area.  

I was in the right lane, but she was riding my bumper, about six inches away.  I stayed in the lane (didn’t want to switch lanes at the same moment she did) but tried speeding up, slowing down, pulling to the left of the lane, pulling to the right.  Nothing deterred her.  She was staying right on my bumper no matter what I did.  She even did that when the passing lane was open.  When all three passing lanes were open . .. 

I was becoming rather afraid of what might happen at her hand when I noticed we had entered Point Loma, the area where another Navy base is located.

In desperation, I decided to take the first right, to try to shake her off.

It worked!  I also saw a gas station, up on the right.

As I pulled into the station, a women popped out of a booth, asking for my ID.  It seems I was at the Point Loma Navy Exchange gas station.  Off-base.

Hurrah, I could fill up and the gas would be cheap(er).  

I looked skyward and asked, “How did You do that, Lord?”  And then I remembered that even the wrath of man praises Him!  And the remainder of wrath He restrains (I didn’t get hit, after all . . .).

See how that works?  From the young lady’s perspective, the wrath of man (woman) worked not the righteousness of God.  She did not glorify God, blowing her top like that.

But from God’s perspective, and mine, He used her wrath to get me to the gas station where I was supposed to fuel the car!!

Amazing God!!!

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A Change of Pace–Sharing a Paella Recipe!

25 Nov

A Change of Pace–Sharing a Paella Recipe!

Someone asked where I found my latest, most updated, best paella recipe so I promised to share this one I found on allrecipes.com.

Paella is of Spanish origin; I first ate it in Spain in 1982. My current recipe includes a good number of red pepper flakes in the rice, which makes it somewhat more Mexican (hot) in taste than the classic Spain version, which is “zesty” but with lighter spices and very little “heat.”

Along with saffron rice, paella has chicken, shrimp, and chorizo sausage; it sometimes has clams, in the shell, also.

My husband usually picks up French or New Orleans andouille sausage if he can’t find chorizo, which is the usual story in our nearby military commissary. It works just as well.

Now, for those who don’t like spicy food (usually half of every crowd invited over . . .) . . . that handy trend of “deconstructing” food works well here. I make one crockpot full of the full spice pepper flake paella, but I also deconstruct my paella into several other dishes as I cook it.

After I stir fry the chicken in onion and red pepper, I pull out a small bowl of chicken. Then I do the sausage and the shrimp the same way, pulling out small bowls of sausage and shrimp to the side.

I found a great use for those small fondue pots that sometimes come free with a crockpot purchase–I put some of the rice into a fondue pot before I add the red pepper flakes into the main crockpot.

Voila! The non-spice eating friend now has rice, three meats, and a bowl of peas (which are not called for in this particular paella recipe, but which I make separately, as I got used to eating peas with paella in Spain). She can build a non-spiced paella on her own plate.

I also serve a fruit platter, a salad (with nuts and croutons to the side to be added, as desired), and a plate of Jacobs cream crackers (British) with cheddar cheese slices to round out this meal.

And flan for dessert (with icecream for the kiddoes). But that will be a separate post . . .

Lockerbie and Me!

21 Oct

On 21 December, 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 blew up over Lockerbie, Scotland due to a bomb placed onboard which turned out to be of Libyan origin.  The bomb had been placed in Frankfort, Germany, where the flight originated, but did not blow up until the plane had landed in London and then had departed for New York City.  Everyone on the plane and eleven additional people on the ground died.  

On 22 December, 1988, I flew from Stuttgart, Germany to Birmingham, England, to visit my (then) fiance and his parents for Christmas.  

As I departed that morning, investigators were still combing through wreckage in Lockerbie, trying to determine what had happened to that flight.  They suspected terrorism, but were not sure.   

I was pretty scared.  I self-talked into a state of relative calmness by saying that terrorists probably would not hit two Germany to England flights two days in a row.  Or would they?  It was all very confusing and frightening.

As I was in the air on my flight, a change came over me.  The more I heard about the carnage on the ground in Scotland, the sicker I felt.  There were no cell phones back then, so I had to await television and the newspapers on the ground, but it soon became apparent that body parts from people on that flight were spread over about a 20-mile square area in Scotland.  I think some parts were never found.

I got a huge lump in my throat that lasted six months.  I could not even think of eating meat without feeling a gag reflex start to happen.  And so . . . I gave up meat for almost a year (Noel and I got married the following May and I may have eaten a small bit of meat at our rehearsal dinner–I think I never got food at the wedding reception at all as we were too busy talking to friends I had not seen in years).  

That was my sole venture into vegetarianism and I would say I did not choose it, it chose me.

It worked pretty well, especially as I had hired a friend’s mom to cook for me in Germany those last few months that I was single.  She did some tremendous vegetarian dishes. 

Now, in my 50’s, I am toying with the idea of intentionally going vegetarian.  It will be interesting to see how different it is now.  I predict it will be much easier now to find fruits, veggies, and grains that work together well without meat.

Actually, it is kind of an exciting adventure now.

That was never the case when contemplating the immensity of the loss at Lockerbie.  God help us!  

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month!

1 Oct

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month!

And October is the month that many of us celebrate surviving breast cancer. I am now officially a five and a half year survivor, having been diagnosed in early April of 2008.

So many fears back then! So many victories now!

I remember lying awake the night before my surgery (a lumpectomy, so not even as painful or extensive a surgery as those many of my friends have endured) and thinking that I would never feel happy, or whole, or painfree again. Yet I still slept pretty well that night because I still knew God had hold of my situation.

And how marvelously He has brought it all back around.

He allowed me to survive. He didn’t have to do that. He would have still been a good God if He didn’t choose for me to have that ending.

He allowed me to get a good Navy contractor job the following year, after I retired from the Navy reserves.

He allowed for me to not only lose the forty pounds I gained during and after chemotherapy, but He allowed me to lose 70 more so that my health is actually much better now than it was in the years right before I got cancer.

He allowed me to start this blog, a true labour of love and a lifetime dream. I could never have imagined when I dreamt of being a writer as a child that someday I could put my thoughts out, worldwide, with a few clicks of a keyboard!

He allowed us to find Shepherds College, a wonderful special needs school, where our beloved son is now getting his education in horticulture.

And He allowed Noel and me to rediscover why we married each other almost 25 years ago.

Our trip back from Wisconsin was a dream! We spent three nights more in Racine after we left our son on his campus nearby, visiting Chicago by train during the day. We then drove to Philadelphia and spent three days there.

See our Liberty Bell shot, with me in (almost) breast cancer pink?

I thank God for giving me a godly, loving husband who shares my interest in art and history. The last three cities we have explored (Milwaukee last year, now Chicago and Philly), we have started with the art museum and worked our way outward. It is how we used to explore Europe, back in the day!

Oh, we have such fun!

Thank You, Lord, for letting me be a survivor! Lord, You are so good!

Congratulations to all survivors everywhere, especially Marci, Kathy, Barbie, Jodi and Jody, and Brenda (both of you)!

Complaining Appropriately

12 Jun

Tonight it happened again. For the third time in nine nights at this hotel, the outside lighting was out around my building as I went to work out. For the third time I called and got the same tired old apologies from the night desk clerk.

In fact . . . He couldn’t quite remember, but wasn’t I the one who called last night (I was!).

At this point, I told him the obvious thing that had occurred to me the first night I was here when I walked back to my room in total darkness, lit only by my cellphone. “Someone is gonna fall out there and y’all are gonna get sued!” Is it a kindness to clue an oblivious person into an obviously bad thing that could happen, affecting his career? I think it is.

I also knew why the lights were out. Men had been digging around the jacuzzi outside my building, as they renovate it. I figured that out the first night, too. The night clerk said he had heard from his technician last night that something of the sort was the case. And . . . ?

With regret in my voice, I told the night clerk that I am going to have to note all this when I am emailed an evaluation from Marriott corporate, as I always am after we stay here (this is about the tenth time at this usually great resort with individual suites instead of rooms).

Is it wrong for a Christian to voice a complaint about a business dealing that is less than satisfactory?

I learned from a college roommate who was wise beyond her years that the answer to that is no.

You see, people are created to last forever. God begins working with them here on this earth, in the time-space continuum, and continues on into eternity. We need to trust God with their destiny and not be overly controlling of them.

Businesses and organizations are not eternal. If they are going to improve, it will be because someone cared enough to make them better while here on this earth. Businesses, in other words, have no soul.

If I have something to say about a business, I had better say it now. And, in fact, since my company pays $130 a night to have me stay here, I do care about this hotel maintaining its good reputation and standing. That might mean I have to speak up when the standards falter, like right now during this renovation.

Now someone will remind me that the night clerk, who is probably not independently wealthy, may get chewed out for his indifferent attitude toward guests wandering about in the dark. And people are created to last, and should be treated kindly.

Yes, indeed, that is true. If I were to complain just to try to get the night clerk in trouble, that would be controlling and wrong. But that is not my motivation. I am trying to improve the processes here. He just happens to be part of those processes.

Truth be told, I wish I could encourage him to walk around when he gets off his shift. He is new since we were last here, four months ago. I bet he has no idea what the campus looks like. He knows the front lobby and his desk. That is all.

If he knew the layout, he would have known he could tell me to come by after my workout for someone to escort me back to my room with a light.

Instead, he let me fumble in the dark with my key card for the second successive night.

So, to review, complaining, gently, about businesses is fine. They have no soul and won’t get offended.

In regards to the people caught in those processes about which you complain, just remember that they last forever. Don’t burn any bridges!

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Visiting a Hero

9 Jun

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I could say so many things about my visit, finally, to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California today. But I will trim my thoughts to a digestible number.

First of all, I was surprised that Simi Valley is a misnomer. At least the presidential library part of it is, as that is set on a mountaintop with a nearly 360 degree view. Splendid way to be greeted at the end of my short 28 mile drive by rental car from Oxnard, where I am working this week.

I nearly did not go. I had gotten into the habit of traveling about California with my coworker Deb on previous trips. She just got a new job and . . . I don’t exactly drive in California. At least not since 1996, in San Diego.

But I thought to myself how it would feel to get to the end of my life and realize I was once 28 miles from the library of the president I regard as the greatest political leader of my lifetime and I didn’t take the chance to go see him and . . . I got the keys to the rental car from my coworker who has been driving this week. Bonus round: I also drove my first SUV this trip, and was pleased I was okay with taking it up a mountain when it came to that!

The moments that reduced me to tears today were several. One was standing before President Reagan’s grave (pictured). I had just left behind a buzzing crowd of foundation members, all waiting to get a book signed by Buzz Aldrin, and had walked across the replica of the Rose Garden to the grave when I noticed I was all alone in intense silence. I enjoyed the solitude, staying there almost half an hour, just savoring the place and its beauty.

Another moment that reduced me to tears was the display about the assassination attempt on President Reagan. I found myself watching the actual video of the event, realizing how close to death he had come, and nodding vigorously when the doctor responded to his joking question about whether he was a Republican by saying “Tonight, Mr. President, we are all Republicans.”

Finally, while standing where I could see all three videos of the Reagan funeral, I cried my eyes out. The stirring tributes by Mrs. Thatcher and George Bush Sr. Nancy Reagan running her hand slowly and lovingly over the coffin. The motorcade from Point Mugu Naval Air Station to the Presidential Library, bearing the body of the President. A motorcade passing citizens lining its 40 mile length, seemingly every inch of the way!

I told the personnel at the Library, who obviously enjoy their work, that for me, the tour is not four hours, as they advertise, but two days. I will go back again, I am sure, to that place full of beauty and history where my hero was laid to rest.

Budapest

8 Jun

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This is the post I meant to reblog from our niece’s and her new husband’s trip to Budapest, Hungary. I noticed it didn’t survive the move between blogs, so I have put up a link to it.

Noel and I went to Budapest as newlyweds, too. I love Rachael’s photos. Ours are not nearly as glorious.

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How the Manchurian Candidate became a Romance . . .

6 Apr

How the Manchurian Candidate became a Romance . . .

Into every romance, some pain must fall.

I didn’t believe that as a starry-eyed teenager, but life has subsequently taught me differently.

If there is an exception to that rule, I would love to meet him/her/them.

I have heard even Christian counselors say, while teaching about marriage, that almost every couple they have ever met has had a near breakup occur right before the engagement.

Supposedly that is about one member (at least) of the couple getting cold feet, as the relationship progresses toward marriage. That person starts trying desperately to come up for air.

The Christian counselors who teach about this also state that it is absolutely imperative, when this crisis looms, for the person who is getting cold feet to be able to see that the world would not end if he went through with the breakup.

In other words, the partner, let’s just call her a “she” here, must show herself strong in the face of the potential breakup, reassuring her partner that she cares for him, but also letting him know he is free to go and her world will go on.

She must convey that, even and especially if she does not believe it at the time.

For it is true, after all. The same qualities that drew her partner to her in the first place will equip her for finding someone else, should the worst happen and the partner depart.

Noel and I were not much for drama between the night we met in June of 1986 and the night we wed in May of 1989.

But even we had one near breakup, and, yes, it was right near the time we subsequently got engaged.

I had gone over to his apartment (his “flat” as they say in London) on a Saturday I had free. I stood watch at my Navy command my entire two years living in London, so it was often the case that I had to work on weekends when Noel was free.

This Saturday we planned to see the re-released “Manchurian Candidate” at a cinema near Noel’s flat. It was a classic film we had never seen. It had been shut up in a vault right after its initial release, due to some unfortunate political resemblances at the time.

So far, so good.

Except when I arrived at Noel’s flat, we got into a discussion that led to some hypotheticals about the need to have some breathing space in our relationship.

After dating me for over a year, my sweetheart was expressing doubts about our relationship continuing in its current form. My heart leaped into my throat.

As I forced myself to breathe, I remembered the advice of all those Christian counselors and forced myself to say the words, “Well, perhaps we do need some space in our relationship if you have that many doubts about it. How about we do that before we proceed any further with plans for our future?”

After we agreed to take a breather from each other, I left his flat and promptly fell apart on the street outside, once I was out of sight.

I was within several months of taking orders to a new command, a new country. There had been discussion of me taking orders to Germany so I would be just a short flight away. I wanted to do that if the relationship was progressing to marriage. If not, I didn’t need to be in Germany, constantly reminded of a failed relationship and a broken heart!

And would I ever see Noel again, or had that been our goodbye forever? I knew I could not go back to his place nor plead nor grovel. The Christian counselors had been clear that I had to wait and pray. If the relationship was meant to continue, the one with cold feet would enter it again.

I didn’t know what to do. Go home to my empty flat when it was still only Saturday morning? Not on my life!

I went around the corner and got in line for the “Manchurian Candidate.” I actually enjoyed it pretty well for a movie viewed with a side helping of broken heart! My attention kept drifting back onto my own troubles, but the movie held my attention pretty well, under the circumstances. Good movie, full of plot twists and intrigue.

When it was over, I went and got something to eat.

It was still far too early to return to my empty flat.

I made a decision. I got back in line for another showing of the “Manchurian Candidate.” It was that good that I was willing to see it twice in one day.

As I got near the ticket window, I became aware of a presence behind me. It was almost like a shadow. It seemed to move when I moved and stand still when I stood still.

I didn’t dare turn to look. I didn’t sense any ill intent from that direction, so my “stranger danger radar” (so developed during two years of walking almost everywhere in London) stayed off.

Eventually the shadow stepped forward and stood right next to me.

I looked over from lowered lashes.

It was Noel.

As the tears fell down my face, I realized we had faced our test, met it head-on, and survived it.

Soon after that, our engagement was announced.

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Kicking it with Weight Watchers in California!

3 Mar

Kicking it with Weight Watchers in California!

Last week I returned from a two week business trip to California. My routine when we go to California (several times a year) is so different from the rest of the year that I thought to do a blog post specifically on how different it is to be on Weight Watchers out there.

First of all, since all the other contractors on my team are male, I tend to eat dinner with my colleagues, then go back to my room to read. I also work out at the hotel fitness center every night while on the road, which is about four nights more a week than I do when I am at home.

I walk to the Navy Exchange every noon hour from our work site out there. It is about a mile and a half round trip. I walk it at about a 12 minute mile pace.

And I mostly stand during the workday, since we are working outdoors in tents with hard plastic chairs. My job involves lots of observation, so I am moving around a lot anyway, but given a choice, I even stand for briefings, rather than park myself on those hard chairs (now that I have lost weight and all, LOL!).

The bottom line is that my second week in California, I earned 54 exercise points. That was counting my gym workouts and my walks, not the general moving around I did all day. If I owned the Weight Watchers Active Link, I would have been able to monitor my entire activity level, and see how different it is from sitting at a desk all day long at home . . . Maybe another trip!

Up against those 54 activity points, I did eat all 49 of my weekly points that week, in addition to my daily points. I never eat all the weekly points at home, but in California I was hungry enough to do it!

Not to mention that I slamdunked fresh fruit and veggies (0 points) all week long, too. In fact, the USO food truck proprietor would make me a fresh salad (just veggies and vinaigrette) each noon, to which I would add a $2 bowl of fresh strawberries from the nearby fields and a $2 bowl of fresh pineapple from Hawaii, both of which she also sold. Yum!

I ate a huge breakfast at the hotel every day, a whole cup of scrambled eggs (11 points), plus a cup of yogurt with fruit (6 points) and a quarter cup of granola on top (2 points). Nineteen points, spread out over the morning, as some of the yogurt, fruit, and granola went with me to work in a “go cup.”

So I ate and ate for two weeks straight, returned, and had lost 3.8 pounds.

Bottom line: 1) I always track my points, even in California. It is a must for me. 2) Fresh fruits and veggies are the stuff of life. I eat a ton of them, so appreciating the fact that Weight Watchers now regards them as 0 points. 3) When I am very active, I also get very hungry and can easily eat all of my weekly points. But if I balance it right, between weekly points consumed and activity points earned, I will still lose weight (or stay the same if that is the goal).

I love California. I love travel and I love sunshine and I love mountains that come right down to the sea . . .

And I love successfully working the Weight Watchers system while on travel in California.

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Controversial Tuesday: Women in Combat, Part II

29 Jan

Women in Combat, Part II

Yesterday I watched a workmate with 22 years in as a USMC officer put in his retirement papers as a protest against the fact that the ban was lifted on women in combat.

Part I, above, is my experiences in the training command, back in 1981, as I went through the transformation from a naive Midwestern girl who knew very few people in the military to an officer, in fourteen painful weeks!

This part expands on my statement in Part I that the prohibition of women in combat was not going to remain forever.

I didn’t expect it to be lifted so soon, but I did expect it to be lifted.

Now, can I recommend to my young civilian friends who are females (or males uncertain in what they believe about combat) that they enter the military for a career?

This post will answer that question.

I now believe there was one period in U.S. history, from the time the service academies opened to women in 1976 until just now in 2013, that a woman could enter the military with an understanding they she probably would not go into combat, but yet expecting that she would be taken seriously on a parallel career path to her male colleagues that involved everything else the military had to offer.

That was a pretty good deal but one that could not last forever.

I graduated high school in 1976 and could have been in that first class of women attending the U.S. Naval Academy for college.

Only I wasn’t thinking about that then.  I went on to a state university in Michigan and only thought about the military five years later, when I graduated from college during a recession that hit the auto industry in Michigan very hard.

I checked with Army, Navy, and U.S.A.F. recruiters, then settled on the Navy, as they guaranteed me officer candidate school and follow-on training in a compatible field for me (if I survived officer training!).

At the time, women did not deploy on combatant ships, only support ships.  And people in my career field did not deploy on support ships.  So, by a weird catch-22, I was not eligible to be on board ships at all, initially.  I later served for two weeks on a cruiser as a reservist.

What I did do was deploy overseas with a patrol squadron (land-based) for the first three years of my career.  I went to Spain (Rota), Iceland (Keflavik), the Azores (Lajes), and Bermuda.

And everywhere I went, I worked inside an aircraft hangar, in an office, with a skirt on.

In fact, it turns out that the only time I worked in slacks in a 27-year career was during my initial officer training and for those two weeks onboard ship.

Did I plan it that way?  No.  Do I believe women should only wear skirts?  No (that is just who I am–I don’t project that on anyone else).

Remember, I was the naive Midwestern girl.  My career worked out in spite of me sometimes.

But it truly was an amazing time to be on active duty as a woman.  I was born ten years after Israel became a nation again.  That means in the Post World War II Baby Boom.  And World War II had first brought women into the services as auxiliaries.  WAVES, the Navy called them.  They were not intended to be full officers, nor to be permanent officers, but they filled some Navy jobs so that men could concentrate on combat.

Not because men were thought to be cannon fodder.  But because men were thought to be stronger physically and more able to handle combat.  If women did some of the office jobs, they freed the men up in wartime to handle the enemy directly.

That concept of freeing men up by doing office jobs away from combat areas continued post-World War II.  It is the concept that was understood when I entered the military in 1981.

Today, that concept seems antiquated.  But it must be taken as the intermediate step it was.  No woman entered the military in my generation thinking of men only as combat-worthy grunts, nor intending to deprive them of anything by taking office jobs.

But our realm slowly expanded and eventually involved jobs where women were taken POW as early as 1991, in the first Gulf War.

Once that became a reality, the ban on combat for women could not last forever.

In insurgent wars and irregular warfare, women were already venturing across the “front lines” without even knowing it.

Thus I know women in all four services who have already been in combat areas.  Navy, too, as the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have both used Navy folks to augment our ground forces from the Army and the USMC.

And, that being the case, the combat ban needed to be lifted.

Now, would I recommend the military for a young woman nowadays?  Or a man unsure what he believes about combat?

No, don’t come in unless you are prepared to possibly go into combat.

Right now we are saying women can volunteer for those positions.  But that is due to the fact that there are currently more than enough volunteers for the infantry in both the Army and the USMC.  That will probably always be the case.  But that can’t be guaranteed either.

It is a custom and a convention, not a law in either service.  And customs and conventions can change, as you have just seen in my description of my career.

Within one generation, we will be like Israel, expecting women to go into combat without batting an eyelash.  And there are certain women who are just as tough as any man around (or tougher in some cases!!!) who will jump on this and perform admirably.

But for those like me who want to serve their country as an analyst, in a skirt, working for the Department of Defense as a civilian should now be your goal.

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