No Such Thing As Average

Average is just a math equation, but in the real world nothing is ever actually average.  In my opinion it is usually feast or famine, high or low, big or small rarely right in the middle.  Take the weather we are having in Durham right now.  Rain, BIG Rain, certainly record setting rain for the day, which just happens to be 1.32 inches.  Gee, I think we got that much in the middle of the night and now it is raining buckets again and will for almost the rest of the day.  We might triple that record, but in the world of averages, will hardly move the average rainfall line at all.


Even though we are up something like nine inches of rainfall for the year compared to the average it is just balancing out the terrible drought we had a few years ago.  In the end when you average the two years together you keep the average rainfall about in the same place it was.


The same idea is true for me in trying to move the needle on the scale down.  If I eat roughly the same food everyday and work out about the same amount I seem to stay in the same place.  My average is what my body has become accustomed too and has learned to live on.  In order to make a dent in my average I have to change some things and keep changing them for a very long time.


I just can’t have one day of extra vigilant eating, but I have to have ten and even then the needle might only move a little.  That’s the reality of middle-aged-peri-menopausal-woman.  I have spent a lifetime of days that makes up my average.  To change the average might take the rest of my lifetime.


But of course no one wants to be average, even our own average.  We all want to be better than our regular selves, which is just plain hard to do, that is unless you put everything about yourself on the scale.  Some days you might have a bad day at working out, but a good day at eating, a great day at work, but a poor day at laundry, a fantastic day at parenting, but a so-so day at being a spouse.  You never have an average day at everything, but over time you create a set point for what you are going to be like in every aspect of your life.


The best we can hope for is that we are a little better at a little more today than we were yesterday and that way, given enough time your average will improve.  The key is not to throw in the towel on anything if you have one bad day, because a good day is coming that will balance it out, just like the rain, the drought year has been overcome by a wet year.

No Fare at the Ballpark


You know the saying, “It’s American as baseball, hotdogs and apple pie.”  When I think about that phrase it all just says fat.  Americans are fat and the hotdogs and apple pie have not helped, but neither has baseball that is unless you are playing it a very high level, say at least AAA.  For most of us, baseball means sitting in the stands and watching.


I’m not a baseball fanatic.  I don’t know when the last time I watched a baseball game on TV.  If I had to guess it was when my Mima was still alive and even though she was legally blind from Macular Degeneration she would “watch” her beloved Atlanta Braves on TV.  That was fourteen years ago.  Despite my indifference to TV baseball I have enjoyed going to the Durham Bulls since they moved to the DBAP some thirteen years ago.  Russ and his business partner Rich decided early on that they needed season tickets for their company, which I have come to love.


A few times a season we go down to the ballpark and sit right behind the Bulls dugout and cheer on the local team.  I am regular enough in Russ’ seats that the promotions team members who do all the fun activities on the field between innings know me.  Those things like sumo wrestling or when a kid runs the bases against Wool E. Bull, our mascot, are what make minor league baseball so great.  This year they have a new one where 8 tiny little children are dressed up in  bull costumes and they chase Wool E. across the field.  It is called the running of the bulls and is about the cutest thing I have ever seen.


The only thing that is wrong with going to baseball is the food.  The choices at the ball park are, hotdog, peanuts and beer of course, bar-b-que, pizza, burritos, funnel cakes, cotton candy, ice cream, snow cones, lemonade and chips.  Food vendors come and go at the DBAP.  One year someone tried selling a salad and I thought I had died and gone to heaven.  At last something I could eat at the ballpark.  But I was much too infrequent a visitor to make an impact on salad sales and that offering did not last.


Years ago I could see how only offering unhealthy foods would appeal to the primarily male audience at games, but now even men worry about their physique.  I know I am not the only person who thinks about what I can eat before a game since I know there is nothing for me at the park.  If someone comes up with a healthy solution and lets everyone know it was available not only might they sell it, but also more weight watchers might come to the games.  I’m not suggesting that “It’s American as baseball, grilled chicken and a fruit salad” is the new slogan, but let’s widen the baseball circle to include the health conscious.  They might be fans that will live longer to cheer on the team.

Pain in the A#$

There are so many reasons people eat which have nothing to do with actual survival.  Boredom, habit, celebration, anger, thirst, and my big winner today was frustration.  I am happy to say I did not let frustration get the better of me, but it took everything in me to recognize that eating would not fix my problem.


This morning Russ got up and took a shower in his normal routine way.  I had an early meeting so I was up reading e-mail waiting my turn.  After his shower Russ lathered up his face with shaving gel and suddenly stuck his head out of the bathroom and announced there was no hot water.  When he said none, it was not that the water was not hot, but that no actual water was coming from the tap.


Last year we installed a tank less instant hot water heater, which had an epic failure this morning.  This was not the news I was looking for in the early morning hours.  I called for service and was told that sometime a repairman would come, but you know the drill, we can’t tell you when.  I asked that they give me one hour so I could go to my meeting and they said of course.  There was no chance a repair was coming to my house in one hour anyway.


Seven hours later a nice guy showed up and confirmed that the water heater, new as it was, needed to have the entire heat exchanger along with some ancillary parts replaced.  Let’s see, it’s Friday afternoon, do you think I might have hot water today.  Not a chance.


The repairman called the manufacturer to order the parts and they were happy to send them for Tuesday afternoon delivery.  Nice as this repairman was I got involved with the manufactures phone call to get the parts sent fed ex for Monday morning delivery.  Naomi, the phone rep, finally gave in after spending over 45 minutes having me get her to admit that five days without hot water from a one year old very expensive hot water heater with a twelve year warranty was just insane.


So here I sit with four days of no hot water, a full dishwasher of dirty dishes and two loads of laundry needing to be done and me in need of a shower.  Frustration was knocking on my door.  I got the dishes washed the really old fashioned way, by boiling water and filling the sink and boiling some more so after the soapy washing I could rinse them.  I had forgotten how hard on a manicure washing dishes by hand is.  I am going to have to not worry about nails since I have a lot of hand washing in my future.  At least I can say I did not let the lack of hot water make me eat something naughty, but boy I certainly thought about.

Worse Than a Hair Sandwich?



The other day at Mah Jongg my friend ordered a sandwich that sounded delicious, turkey and melted cheese, avocado with cranberry mayo and sprouts on grilled sunflower bread.  Not liking the texture of sprouts she asked the waiter to hold them off the sandwich.  Leaving off the only healthy part of the sandwich caused her a little guilt until all the other women spoke up that we too disliked sprouts.


To me the actual health benefits of such a minor player in a dish could be disputed so that part of the guilt should be relived.  There just is not much to sprouts except some annoying hair feeling in your mouth, so why add them?


In college I had a friend whose favorite bench-marking phrase was, “Is it worse than a hair sandwich?”   So clearly the inference is that anything resembling a hair sandwich is bad and that is what a sprouts sandwich feels like in my mouth.


I am certainly all for healthy food, but adding sprouts to a grilled cheese with turkey and avocado does not turn it into a health food option even if it is on sunflower bread.  Does eating the sprouts act as a balance to the rest of the dish?  If you want to eat a treat do as my friend did and make a real treat and own it.  Don’t accept the pacifying part you don’t like as a pardon for your indulgence.


One true honest to god decadence once in a blue moon is way better than pretending you are having something healthy all the time just because you throw a tomato or some lettuce on it.  So don’t be fooled by the existence of the sprouts and for goodness sake, there is no sin on not having them at all because quite frankly they might be worse than a hair sandwich.

The Benefits and the Curse of a Well Trained Nose

Today as I was outside walking Shay in her normal sniff, sniff, sniff “don’t pull me along mommy I’m smelling everything” walk I just closed my eyes and took a big whiff too.  I could really smell the summer.  The overwhelming scents of honeysuckle with undertones of magnolia were the first scents that hit me.  Once of the best things about living in North Carolina is smell.  As we walked past our vegetable garden the basil and mint competed with the flowers.  Then I drew in the very distinct odor of the tomato plants.


Shay all along was concentrating on the ground smells of deer that had certainly passed through the property the night before.  I wanted to teach her to enjoy the beautiful scents and not just those of other animals so I dragged my hand among the sage leaves and held it to her nose.  She pretended to be interested in it for just a moment and then pushed her face deeper into my hand for a good petting.


From the sage I moved to the lemon thyme and then gave Shay another whiff.  This prompted her to go right over to the low growing herb and sniff around.  I realized she thought it might be a good place to leave her own scent so we quickly moved onto the grass.


As we walked in the yard the freshly cutgrass mixed with the clover top notes to make a familiar bouquet. I stopped and closed my eyes and sucked in the air hard, holding it in my throat like my yoga instructor has taught me to do.  For a moment I felt as I could smell the fireflies and the dust on the gravel driveway.  With my eyes closed I felt a tingle and the smell changed to something more pungent for just a second, then just as I opened my eyes to see if perhaps another animal was crossing our path I saw a flash of lightening and a few seconds later heard the confirmation of thunder.  I think I actually smelled the lightening coming.


Paying attention to smells has served me well in the cooking part of my life.  I’ve always been good at deciphering what ingredients are in a dish someone else has made because of my detective like nose.  I also have not done things that dull my sense of smell, which can naturally diminish with age and abuse.


The only problem with a well-trained olfactory machine is that if I smell something tasty it starts my salivary glands going and makes my brain think I need to not just smell something good, but taste it as well.  So for now I am going to spend as much time as possible with the flowers outside.  I have never developed a taste for rosewater and the lavender is supposed to make you feel relaxed.  So to combat any hunger pangs I might get I’m just going to go outside and stick my head in the gardenia bush that grows above my lavender and stay then until the feeling passes.   Feel free to come and take a smelling tour of my garden anytime your diets needs it, but I suggest you stay away from the sage which may prompt you to go in search of an entire Thanksgiving meal.

Care Package Nightmares


What is it about kids and care packages?  When Carter starts to think about getting ready to go to camp the first words out of her mouth are, “You are going to send me a care package aren’t you?”  I think Care packages started during the war to help feed people who were truly starving.  I don’t know when they became the staple of kids going to camp.  I think Carter considers it is a badge of how much your parents love you.


One year when she was at camp she told me about a girl in her cabin who did not get a care package and how the child grew more and more despondent at each mail call without a package.  Think that the entire camp experience can be ruined by one thoughtless, selfish parent who after shelling out thousands of dollars for camp and hundreds more for a trunk, new sheets and towels, and a crazy creek chair wasted the whole thing by not sending one stinking package.


Camp basically provides a kid with everything they really need to live a fun and carefree existence.  But a package from home is icing on the cake.  So I succumb to the pressure and send off a package.  What I have discovered is there are good things to send and bad things and in the end it is all about getting some totally unhealthy food, which luckily at Carter’s camp girls are required to share with the whole cabin.


In Carter’s case some goldfish and sour gummies are the least bad for her acceptable foods.  I also know that a Tiger Beat magazine, especially one chocked full of One Direction photos is a great non-food item.  I throw in a new box of stationary just to take up room and a note and I’m done.


From previous years I have learned that the packages that come from “Care Package Providers” are easy to send, but never have food and Carter comes home with all the crap they sent her and throws it away.  Also books and clothes are the equivalent to sending coals to New Castle.  I get a letter home that says something like, “You sent me a book!”


If only there were some incredibly healthy and desirable things I could mail I would.  I think that the camp would frown upon my sending a commercial frozen yogurt machine and the yogurt in dry ice, unless I was sending it as a donation to the dining hall.  I think I might have to send an electrician along to rewire the cabin to handle the power load and that is a no-no for sure.


So hopefully my barebones package is the care Carter is looking for; just enough reassurance that her parents love her, but nothing too embarrassingly over the top.  If only she could appreciate what having to go to the post office in order to mail it really was like, then she would kiss my feet.

Write to Carter, Please

Carter’s first day at camp and I was looking forward to making some progress on my giant-never-ending-been-on-the-list-for-years house projects.  You know the kind of things you don’t want to do, but you really want done, like cleaning out the junk drawer or organizing old pictures.  Thanks to my opening my big mouth in the winter and volunteering to research, write and produce ten skits for church this summer I spent the majority of the day writing.


This upcoming Sunday’s skit, which is a take off on “It’s a Wonderful Life”, required me to re-watch the whole movie.  I already had the basic idea in my head, but needed a couple of actual lines from the movie, which true to form did not come until the end of the second hour.  But I like that I have checked off this job on Monday because I need to start racking my brain about the following Sunday.


Before I wrote that assignment I had to write Carter a real letter at camp so I could get it in the noon mail.  I had written her a note to leave on her pillow at camp, but her bunk was consumed by a giant gaggle of girls in their getting-to-know-you session so I could not get close to her bunk and was getting the leave-already look.  I forgot I had that note written and wrote another.


Getting mail at camp is the most important activity there is.  I think that Carter grades me on how many letters I send her.  I have religiously sent her a real letter everyday she has ever been at camp, but since no mail gets delivered on Sundays she feels like I must be slacking off somehow.  Quite frankly that is not that much happening without her home so the letters tend to get repetitive.  How many times can I tell her Shay-Shay misses her?  I know she does not like to here that she should not have left her room such a mess.


This year I am trying something new.  As a reader of this blog would you consider sending Carter a note or postcard at camp?  It does not matter that she may not know you, but I think it would be fun for her to get an avalanche of letters.  You can even put in it that she could share it with someone who did not get any mail that day.  If you went to camp as a kid tell her what your favorite camp activity or memory was.  Her mailing address is:


Carter Lange


Camp Cheerio

1430 Camp Cheerio Rd.

Glade Valley, NC 28627-9731


I am not telling her about this, but I will report her reaction when she actually sends me a letter.  This may free me up to not have to write so much and I can get to my big list of chores, or maybe go to the movies or feel less guilty if I start a new puzzle.  Oh no, I am starting a big new list of fun things to do while Carter is at camp, which means my yucky list might stay intact for another year.