Category: The Hodge Podge


As many of you know, I am working on a battle against weight.

I used to weigh 225 pounds. I have been told that being tall makes that weight look less than it is. But let’s face it, a 48 inch waist is still a 48 inch waist. No amount of height is going to make that waist look any smaller than it really is.

I am also dealing with the beginnings of arthritis which really sucks some days. My energy gets zapped and before I know it, I am taking a two hour nap and not the 20 minute nap I was hoping to do instead. I get those flares of a small temp with no reason for it, especially in the winter time. Fatigue is not my friend and I try to work around it all of the time.

In the last few years, I have taken off a lot of weight and 7 inches around the middle. Those seven inches were hard won as I have a deep and abiding love for food. I love trying new recipes, I love things with fat and sugar. If it is deep fried, well, I am in heaven. But research has told me those things are not good for me so I have learned to cut back.

Soda is once a week, cookies and candy are eaten less often. I try to stick to water and ice tea for drinks while snacking on popcorn a little more often.

But still, I could lose about 10 more pounds. The diet and exercise has been good but I need a little extra push. So I thought I would take a gander at the Paleo diet. Some people call it the Caveman diet.

Paleoista by Nell StephensonI picked up Paleoista  by Nell Stephenson. Look at that cover, she looks hip and happy with legs way too long for her body. But that is beside the point.

Then I began reading the book. I was OK with giving up processed food. I mean, I know how to make sauces and such, I shouldn’t rely on noodles from a bag or sauce from a jar.

Eating more fresh fruit and vegetables actually sound like a good idea to me. That is how I have lost a lot of my weight by incorporating fresh or frozen veggies and fruits in the diet. Eating more protein seemed like a good idea as well.

Then I got to the part that said no grains because people in the paleo era were nomadic, therefore they did not have time to plant and wait for grains to grow. That meant no bread, no pasta, no donuts, no cereal, no cake.

After that I go to the part that said no legumes because that would have taken too much time to grow before the group had to pick up and leave again. So no refried beans, no white kidney beans in many of my soups, no beans in the chili or any number of dishes.

But the worst came when she said no dairy because traveling with a cow or goat would not have happened. Which means no milk, cheese, ice cream, sour cream, cottage cheese, or cream cheese.

All credibility was lost when the author made the statement that these three groups are not really food groups and therefore you are not missing out on anything.

Really?

I have learned the hard way that wheat bread – not white bread- is the way to control my sugars from doing the big surge. I have learned that Barilla’s pasta with semolina is a better choice for me than even Prince (even if Wednesday is Prince Spaghetti Day).

I have learned that I feel better when beans are a part of my soups. I feel better when I eat them. As for milk, I only drink whole milk so that the fat slows down the uptake of the sugar in the milk. But I rarely drink more than a half a cup on any given day.

I like butter on my freshly cooked corn-on-the-cob, I like cream cheese on my bagels.

But here is what I do not do. I do not eat like a pig. I know my serving sizes and I stick to them. I allow myself days to cheat and eat some forbidden things because to totally take them away would be killer. I would never stay on that diet.

Perhaps the Paleo diet worked for the author of this book. But for me, it would have been a total wash. I refuse to follow any diet that says stop eating entire food groups.

So I guess I will go back to what I was doing with eating more veggies and fruits, drinking water, and getting plenty of exercise. Perhaps I should up that walking distance again. More exercise seems to be the best  answer to any of my weight problems in the long run.

What diet books have you read lately that seemed like a bust after you started reading the book?

 

 

Planet of the Apes

Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

This week is going to be a blur.

I already know it because it is the start of 4H judging season. This past Monday was the food judging night. We prepared by making cookies, sweet rolls, and cheese muffins.

Wednesday is the clothing judging day. And then starts the race to get all of the rest of the projects done. Along the way some of our chosen projects will get pushed to the wayside. We did not get them done and therefore, it is not going to happen. I am not sure if that is better or worse than the year someone’s corn stalks were attacked by raccoons or when it was so dry there were not enough tomatoes to put on a plate.

To me that is OK because there is always next year. Maybe something was too much of a challenge for this year but next year it will make more sense or have more relevance. At least, that is what I am hoping.

Planet of the Apes - DawnThis past weekend saw the release of Dawn of The Planet of the Apes and it is a movie that is being called better than the 2011 Rise of the Planet of the Apes. It is very rare that a sequel is better than the original movie. The only other movies in my book like that are Toy Story 2 and Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Both movies continue the story in spectacular fashion while making their own compelling and watchable film.

Over the weekend, one of the cable stations ran the 2011 Planet of the Apes movie. As I watched with my son, I noticed that certain elements from the original Charleston Heston movie had to be retained. The line, the famous line of “Get your hands off of him, you damned dirty ape” was re-written but included when a hateful zoo keeper tortures Caesar for fun.

It is a long movie, set in San Fransico. James Franco plays Will, a scientist looking for a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease that plagues his father, John Lithgow. Caeser was born to an ape who was given a drug to help cure Alzheimer’s but it also made her smarter. Caeser inherits these abilities which become known after Will takes him home.

There is much, much more. But what I find most interesting of all is how the Apes develop. The back story involves a man-made virus. And the teens at my house felt that this was a reasonable concern. I told them that the original movie gave nuclear war as the explanation.

Planet of the Apes - RiseRemember the final scene when Heston comes upon the top of the Statue of Liberty on the beach? It is then that he realizes Man destroyed the planet somehow, that this is how the Apes came to take control. Funny how the explanation for what destroys life as we know it now comes in the final scene of the 2011 movie as well.

Both movies are compelling while dealing with our fears. Just as my generation feared nuclear destruction, it seems our children also fear a man-made tool of destruction. But this one is created in a lab.

Wondering who should watch this movie? I would go with tweens and older. I personally think parts of this movie is too long and drawn out to keep the attention of the younger kids. Some of the actions might be too violent for them as well.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

For the Love of Benedict

Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

Because I see so many movies, I am always surprised when I begin to see certain actors turn up again and again.

Sometimes it is because they are the flavor/the cutie of the moment. And sometimes it is because that actor is so good everyone wants to use them in every possible way.

The latest actor who seems to be everywhere is Benedict Cumberbatch. His most famous role is that of Sherlock Holmes in the BBC series, Sherlock. The Sherlock Holmes character seems to be enjoying a bit of revival with the Guy Ritchie movies, the BBC series starring Cumberbatch, and the CBS series starring Johnny Lee Miller. I have watched them all and appreciate the difference of each production.

With Cumberbatch’s performance, there is the usual high level of confidence in his knowledge about, well, everything. This Sherlock doesn’t suffer fools although he can be kind at times as well. What I love most about Cumberbatch’s performance is the insouciance he gives Sherlock. The way he is a petulant child despite his high intelligence.

Holmes is a bear to deal with in the best of circumstances but when he is without a case he is libel to start shooting a gun at the awful wallpaper of his flat. And once he gets a case, he happily steps on the coffee table to get to where he wants to go like a teenager making their way to the kitchen for food.

The thing is, as I watch all of the movies I meant to see last fall, I start noticing Cumberbatch in many of them. Last weekend, I watched August:Osage County starring Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts.The story is about a family gathering together after the disappearance of the patriarch. Soon it becomes a funeral gathering. But it is a mean spirited one in which two women from an older generation feel the need to tear down their spouses and children at every turn.

Cumberbatch plays the son of the aunt who has fallen in love with one of his cousins. It is a brilliant performance in that he does not play a confident man or a smart one. Little Charles is simply trying to get through life and is happy he has found someone those little joys.

You could almost say the same about his performance as a plantation and slave owner in 12 Years a Slave. It is not that his character is suprememly smart or stupid. He is a man of his times in which you needed slaves to run a succesful plantation. His character might have some decency but not enough, not enough to stand up to those things he knows are wrong.

Finally, there is his character in Star Trek Into Darkness. Cumberbatch plays Khan with steely eyed fearsomeness. He is smart, crafty, willing to blame it all on anyone but himself. Fierce, loyal to his fellow creatures, and willing to double cross all because the means do justify the ends.

There are two other movies I have not seen yet that feature Cumberbatch. The first is The Fifth Estate about Julian Assange of WikiLeaks. The second movie is The Hobbit:The Desolation of Smaug in which Cumberbatch voices the dragon. I have them on my list of must-see movies because for Adults, Cumberbatch is always a great actor to watch.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

This has been one of the strangest springs in my lifetime.

The winter lasted so long that the buds on my dogwood tree never formed and, therefore, never bloomed. Come to think of it, I do not remember seeing Magnolia trees in bloom this year either.

The locust trees bloomed but it seemed like a very, very short time that they were out. Finally, last week, the Linden trees set out their flowers and the soft gardenia scent drifted through the air as I walked my puppy along our usual route. The smell lasted six days, maybe a week. It would make me stop in my tracks and look for the trees giving off the scent.

I am not sure how many of these trees exist in the parkways around town. All I know is that each year in the month of June, I truly appreciate them.

Fault in our StarsOne of the things that have been happening with our family is my girl’s need to see some movies that come from Young Adult literature.

A few weeks ago, she went with her friends to see The Fault in Our Stars starring Shailene Woodley. It is based on the book of the same name by John Green. I read it, loved it, and sanctioned her going. The story is about a girl with terminal cancer who meets and falls in love with a boy who lost his leg to cancer.

While the story takes some twists and turns that you don’t expect, there is one thing that you do expect: There is going to be a whole lot of crying. In fact, the girls told me virtually everyone in the theater was sniffling or weeping. There was no way to avoid it.

The group thought it was a great movie and really enjoyed it.

Then this past weekend, we watched The Perks of Being a Wallfower starring Emma Watson. This is a story about a freshman boy who is bullied and teased in high school because he is smart. But then he finds a group. It starts with Patrick in his shop class. Then Charlie meets Patrick’s step sister, Sam. Soon, he is in their group.

The perks of being a wallflowerAs we race to the end, there are teenage dramas and high school milestones. Couplings, divisions and re-groupings occur. But at the very end we learn a secret of what makes Charlie tick. It is devastating and yet the clues were there all along. We didn’t quite connect them together.

It ended with me explaining how the story got “there,” pointing out the clues. The next day as we talked about the Wallflowers movie and the Fault in Our Stars movie, the girl made the comment that while she really liked the latter, it was the former that was the better movie.

When I pressed for an answer, the reply wasn’t ‘because.’ The reply was that Wallflowers was a richer and deeper movie. While Fault in Our Stars was a good movie, it wasn’t as good as the other one.

Which explains why I like the flowers of the Linden tree above all others. The scent is richer, denser, a little more complex. The hints of sadness make the moments of triumph all that much striking.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

The other night when I got home from a softball game with the daughter in tow, there was a sheet of paper on my porch table.

It was about our little Country Market, about the roof caving in, about how we should support the owners in their time of need.

That bit of light you see through the door is sky.

That bit of light you see through the door is sky.

It has been very strange to not have that market available. There have been dozens of times in which I have thought to myself that I need to go to the store and pick up this, that, and the other. My husband says he has done the same. Then we remember we cannot go into the store.

That ‘oh’ hangs in the air before the thud of realization.

A store like that makes a town. It was a big factor in our decision to move here. So whenever I am with people I ask “What do you know?” I ask “Are they going to re-open?”

The response for the first-timers are always shock and disbelief. That was my own reaction when I came home from work that Tuesday. One of my son’s friends was bunking on the futon because they were evacuated from their apartment.

But then we talk about what that little store means, how getting fresh meat and produce really matters. With the closing of that store, even if it is only for a short time, we are suddenly in a food desert. Dollar General might have limit choices of meat but fresh fruits and veggies are not there.

It is sad and frustrating. So my wishes and hopes are that Larry and Sandy decided to re-open, that any and all repair work goes smoothly. And that our little store re-opens soon so that  we can mix and mingle  once more while we buy our groceries as a community.

I thought about movies that focused on small businesses. The first that came to mind was Barbershop starring Ice Cube as a man who has inherited his father’s barbershop on the south side of Chicago. Ice Cube is able to cut hair and has about six other barbers cutting hair in their chairs.

Barber Shop starring Ice Cube, Cedric the Entertainer, Eve, Micheal Ealy, Anthony Anderson, Troy Garity, David Keith, Sean Patrick Thomas

Barber Shop starring Ice Cube, Cedric the Entertainer, Eve, Micheal Ealy, Anthony Anderson, Troy Garity, David Keith, Sean Patrick Thomas

But this is not what he wants to do with his life. Once he can get rid of the barbershop, this man knows he can find a better way to support his wife and expected child. Trying to get rid of his father’s shop is an ordeal until a local ‘business’ man makes an offer. When Ice Cube learns of the new direction for the old barbershop, he feels regret. He looks around and realizes why a simple business like this old shop is so important to the community.

Is this a movie for the younger members of the family? I would say no. It moves too slowly without enough chases scenes, explosions, or fights to keep their attention. Plus, there are some language issues that make me a little embarrassed, let alone a child under 13. I am not sure if kids over 13 will like it because of the adult issues of owning a business but not loving it. There is a sub plot about stupid crooks involving Anthony Anderson but the language these guys use is not appropriate for younger children.

That said, I do enjoy this movie as an adult. I love the interaction of the staff at the barbershop, I find the theft storyline funny, and I love how Ice Cube underplays a role he could have hammed it up. Instead, he let the story play itself out and that is what I love about this movie.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

Lately, I have been reading books and watching movies about the Holocaust. What saddens me the most about this time period is the absolute hatred for Jews that seemed to go beyond hating Jewish Bolsheviks, it went beyond the desire to have a pure Aryan race. It was an evil that went beyond the need to be right no matter what.

I saw this in The Book Thief, I read about it in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. In the Gabriel Allon series by Daniel Silva I see the long term effects of being a Holocaust survivor – whether it is you or a family member.

XMen Days of Future PastHowever, this past weekend the husband and I went to see X-Men: Days of Future Past. Suddenly, we were right back in a holocaust of those who are different. I know the title sounds like some horrible grammar rule gone crazy but the story requires that you suspend disbelief at all costs.

As the movie starts, we see a world in which mutants are hunted down by giant robots called Sentinals. But as with any campaign to eradicate one group, it stops being about only those creatures and includs anyone who aids them or are related. We see piles and piles of bodies and bones in a darkened world in which Sentinals have the ability to use any skill from any mutant.

They were created by a scientist named Trask who used DNA and other tissue from Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence). It is at this point that Professor X/Charles (Patrick Stewart), Magneto/Erik (Ian McKellan), Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), and Storm (Halle Berry) find a lone surviving group of mutants who can escape the Sentinals on a regular basis using a form of time travel.

That is when Charles and Erik come up with a crazy plan to send Charles back in time to talk to his younger self. When it is deemed that Charles would not make the trip, Wolverine goes in his stead. This is when things get really strange as Wolverine eventually meets up with a younger Charles and Beast, plan to break Erik out of prison (it’s complicated), and stop Mystique.

I found this to be an interesting movie, slow only in a few parts, and yet able to laugh at itself. The acting is top tier by the key players of Jackman, Stewart, McKellan, Michaeal Fassbander, James McAvoy and Lawrence. The special effects for this movie are outstanding. My favorite moment has to be when Quicksilver stops an attack during the prison break scene to the soundtrack of Time in a Bottle by Jim Croce. That might be the last time we have a good laugh but it is a fascinating scene.

It is a dark movie that I would not recommend for kids under the age of ten because I don’t think they are going to understand the total context of this movie. We live in an age where scary things happen but not like this in which neighbors and family members might turn you in for being ‘different.’

Nazi Germany would have never happened without the fear of wondering if you would be next to disappear, to be marched to death camps, or killed before your family’s eyes. Especially if you had spent the last several years watching this happen to neighbors and friends or anyone who disagreed with the powers that be.

The X-Men have always had the Holocaust as an undercurrent, that those dark times could and will return. It is that fear which permeates the movie, making it compelling and terrifying all at the same time.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

 

Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

With Memorial Day weekend quickly approaching, I know many people have thoughts about picnics or backyard cook outs.

Old CemeterySome will hang flags from their porches or display small flags in their yards. Others will remember to visit cemeteries to visit with loved one or attend small town ceremonies.

I always think about my grandmother, Ruth Day Weinhold, and wish I could get myself together enough to visit her grave site in Wheatland Township in Will County. Not too far away is the old Methodist graveyard where my great-grandmother, Susan Grill Weinhold, is buried.

However, Memorial Day was not meant originally for visiting our dead but to remember the military members who fell through various various wars. The holiday was first approved in 1868 by Gen. John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic as a way to honor those killed in the Civil War. But as the years passed and other wars took more young men, the holiday’ meaning was expanded. Red poppy flowers are now sold so we do remember them.

And we should. No matter what you may think of these various war, the rightness or the wrongness of it all, we should remember the veterans and help out in whatever way we can. Some were drafted; in the last thirty years it has been voluntary service. That does not matter. What should matter is that these men and women get the support they need for medical services, to find work after their service is done, and to live as all of us want to do.

Flags of Our FathersI thought about movies this week that was fitting for this topic. What I kept going back to time and again was a double feature by Clint Eastwood. Flags of My Father and Letters from Iwo Jima show the Pacific theater from WWII from two points of view.

The former tells the story of the men who raised the flag on Iwo Jima that is shown in the iconic photograph. It delves into the stories of three of those men, how they came back to do war bond tours only to have to return to the Pacific. We find out how each man’s life ended as well.

The second movie tells the Japanese side from the viewpoint of a general who visited America in the 20s and a young soldier who wants to stay alive so he can return to his wife. The General writes beautiful letters to his family but the heartbreak is there. He knows he will not be returning. The young man works to stay alive and eventually finds himself with the General.

Letters From Iwo JimaNeither movie shies away from the difficulties of war, neither is afraid to show how a man might loses his bearings and turn to alcohol to numb the pain or commit atrocious acts out of stressful frustration. Eastwood imbues each movie with a certain amount of grace and truth that stands up to repeat viewings. That is the sign of a brilliant director in my mind.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

 

The final post about the dog

Family Movie Night
by Karyn Bowman
We were in the back yard that is open to the side street since we do not have a fence.
A couple of kids were walking by when their voices became louder. “Burying your dog? Did your poor little dog die?”
By the sing-song tone of their voices I knew they were not being sympathetic. I knew they were trying to make a joke at my grieving family’s expense. So I gave them the look. The ‘mom’ look that let them know if they continued there would be trouble.
As some of you may know from Facebook, our black lab died suddenly at the end of February. We believe he had a heart attack. All I know is that I was there for his last moments, his last breathe. I patted his side and let him know it was ok.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOur family was heartbroken. People cried or did ‘useful’ chores so as not to deal with the grief. But it has been very strange not to have the dog around prowling for food or sharing the couch with his humans.
A few weeks before his death my husband, the two younger kids, and I were on the couch watching a favorite tv show. The dog began pacing in front of the couch until he found just the right space to get up and join us. Once he was settled, the dog began slowly pushing off my daughter while making sure his head was on my lap. As far as the dog was concerned he was the favorite kid.
While we miss his companionship, we do not miss his food stealing or clothing eating ways. I found one of my husband’s favorite winter vests in the dog’s hiding place. Sadly, he had already chewed a piece of it off.
So now we must go on without him. Doing the daily walk, which I haven’t done in any sort of regular form since winter started, is going to be tough without the dog tugging and pulling for every squirrel and rabbit. Meal time seems strange without rushing to put everything away before we ‘let the dog out.’
I thought about him as my daughter and I watched Bride and Prejudice, the Bollywood version of Pride and Prejudice. The story remains the same – boy meets girl and manages to offend her in every way despite his admiration for her. Only after she learns the truth about an unfortunate situation does she begin to realize his true worth.
Image from IMDb com

Image from IMDb com

The setting, however, is in India. And because this is a Bollywood production, the action can suddenly turn into a song-and-dance production featuring hundreds or a handful. The songs are fun, beautiful and always meaningful to the story. And who can deny the incandescent beauty of Aishwarya Rai?

As we watched the movie, I thought of how much Storm would have loved sitting with us, especially if there was the hope of eating some popcorn.
Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

stormtight

This morning around 4:00 a.m., my husband woke me up to say he thought something was going on with our dog.

I smelled the smell of poop and thought the dog had been sick.

But it was worse than that.

He was dying as he tried to get up the stairs to be with Mom and Dad one last time. I sat with him until he breathed his last. I patted him and tried to be comforting. I told him it was okay to go on.

A google search suggested it could have been a heart attack or a stroke, especially since there had been no signs of problems in the last 24 hours.

Here is a better accounting from my husband’s blog called Rambles With Storm at his Stray Casts website.

Wishing the Best

Dear Jane,

Dear Jane,

Jane AustenAnother year, another birthday. If I could I would grant you a wonderful birthday, as I would to all of my friends and family.

I wanted to write you a nice letter, I really did. But those darn children of mine have given me a cold. I am a bit wheezy and coughing and having plenty of drainage in the sinus.

I am weak and miserable so I apologize for the not so great letter you are reading at the moment.

I simply do not have the energy or wherewithal to make witty comments and stunning put downs.

Not that there have not been a few opportunities.

The Tea Party Republicans have been making silly demands such as one senatorial candidate in North Carolina who thinks public schools should be closed and that women do not need birth control. Then there are the idiots in the House of Representatives who finally admitted they did not think the government shutdown would really de-fund the ACA, only after the government had been shutdown for 16 days.

Image from Wikipdeia

Image from Wikipdeia

When your Republican Speaker of the house finally says “You’ve got to be kidding me?” I think the faction might have taken things too far. Those goofs are about to find out how much they are not needed to get laws passed that needed to be passed.

But enough on politics.

Life at my house has consisted of Christmas activities and sickness. Our 16 y.o. had bronchitis while the daughter and I are in the midst of colds. I watched way more TV than usual today because what energy I had was zapped up almost immediately. Imagine getting winded from sweeping up the kitchen.

Picture by Mensatic.

Picture by Mensatic.

Soon it will be my birthday. I hope that you can stop by as I am sure there will be some delightful bit of cake. Perhaps over a wonderfully hot cup of tea we can discuss the plot points of my book that need improvement. It is nearly done, I need only one or two more chapters.

Then comes the fun part – editing.

Until next year, wishing you the happiest and a healthy birthday.

Your devoted fan, etc…

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