Monday, March 29, 2010

Embroidery and Life

I’ve been doing homey sorts of things lately. Actually, I’m a homey sort of gal. Although I like to see new things I like coming home and although housework is not my favorite sport it feels good to be doing Spring Cleaning. I’ve even been participating in the lost art of ironing.

Ironing is a four letter word as far as I’m concerned. Had I a place to leave the ironing board up I might be more inclined to do it oftener, but half the time I don’t even know where the board is because there’s nowhere convenient to keep it. But starting Saturday I hauled out my old wooden ironing board and have been ironing the curtains and dresser scarves we have washed as we clean up for Spring. Ironing gives me a chance to ruminate.

Another thing I like is hand embroidered linens. I inherited pillowcases that my mother had done for her Hope Chest—do girls still have such a thing? No, they just register a Bed, Bath and Beyond and instead of things made by their mothers, aunties or their own hands, they have things sewn in China (and don’t attempt to get things properly monogrammed—I did and Latin letters and the order they should be in are beyond their understanding over there). The linens my mother decorated seventy years ago have been worn out for some time. When I was a stay at home mom in the 1970s I embroidered myself, but never as well as my mother. Now I rely on others, scavenging thrift stores, bazaars’, crafters’ malls and senior centers. I love embroidered pillowcases, tea towels, and dresser scarves even though I didn’t do the work myself and don’t know who did.

I don’t mean to stereotype, but I do believe that in general women seem to be better equipped to make a pleasant home. I would not go back to the bad old days when women could not vote or work and I know that they still are not paid on a parity with men, but I think we’ve lost something having so many women out of the home and I eagerly await the time when I can afford to do more around the house on a daily basis instead of throwing all of my energy into tasks on the weekends only.

As I’ve been ironing linens that someone used their talent and time to decorate with flowers and birds and crochet edging for I wonder about the life of each woman who did the work—her likes and dislikes, her hopes and dreams. As they worked they embroidered their lives and that of their families. It is sad that their work was cared for so little by those around her that it was relegated to a thrift store, but good for me. I am in the process of paring down my pile of books because I know very well that my children will not care two straws about them regardless of how much I do, but the linens I intend to wash and iron and love until like me, they wear out.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Battle of the Bulge

I scored a little victory in my battle of the bulge yesterday morning when I stepped on the scale and discovered that I've lost 12 pounds since my birthday last month. That puts me at 215 which is two pounds less than my previous high in 1987.

I know that oatmeal is supposed to lower cholesterol, but I don't like oatmeal unless it is in an oatmeal cookie. For a quick breakfast I decided on oatmeal muffins. After trying out several recipes I have landed on a combination of them and now consider it my own.

Healthy Oatmeal-Raisin Muffins
· 2 egg whites—can substitute 2 tsp cornstarch, but use honey in place of brown sugar.
· ¾ cup of milk
· ½ cup vegetable oil
· ¼ cup wheat germ
· ¾ cup oatmeal—soak in milk for a while first, if old fashioned oats are used, soak longer.
· 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
· ¼ cup unbleached white flour
· 2 tsp. baking powder
· 3 Tbsp. brown sugar
· 1 tsp. salt
· 1 tsp. Cinnamon
· 1 tsp vanilla
· ¼ tsp. Nutmeg
· Two handfuls of raisins, dried cranberries or a combination

Heat oven to 400°. Grease bottoms of muffin cups or use muffin papers. Put dried fruit to soak in warm water while you measure dry ingredients. Drain dried fruit and stir into dry ingredients to coat. This will keep them from sinking to the bottom of the muffin. Beat egg, stir in milk, oil, and vanilla. Fold egg mixture into dry until moistened. Batter will be lumpy. Fill muffin cups about ¾ full. Bake until golden brown approx. 20 min. Remove from pan immediately.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Life in the Fat Land

Obesity is the last characteristic that it is politically okay to make fun of. Writer and teacher Irene McPherson has stated in her blog In the Shadow of Fat that as she looks forward to her wedding this fall the nasty little childhood ditty of “Here comes the bride, big, fat, and wide” sticks in her head. She should be planning more romantic music for her wedding, but what bride doesn’t want to be ravishing on her wedding day? The good news is that the lovely man who proposed to her loves her just as she is, to borrow from the movie “Bridget Jones’ Diary.” And yet, our society is so obsessed with thinness that girls end up anorexic and models are airbrushed to impossible dimensions.

It’s okay to discriminate against fat people. I have a hard working, tender hearted, large girlfriend who was discriminated against when she applied for a secretarial job. She had the seniority and skills to do the job, but didn’t fit the image the boss had for his front office. I asked her to grieve the action with her union since the department had flagrantly ignored the fact that she was senior to the woman who got the job. “Why would I want to be somewhere where I’m not wanted?” she asked me. Ultimately it worked out for the best because eventually she landed in a department where her skills and character count for more than her size. She is treasured just the way she is. The man who didn’t hire her ended up with difficulties of his own from higher above and left the organization altogether.
Those of us who have yo-yo-ed over the years have wound up with crappy metabolisms that only exercise will get going again. I don't eat that much and while I admit to being addicted to carbs I do not consume copious amounts of them. My body, because of my near anorexic experience in the '90s doesn't want to turn loose of anything for fear of another famine. As the kdis would say, it sucks.

I am fortunate because my own husband, who has seen me yo-yo from overweight to borderline anorexic and back again, also loves me just as I am. I’m not looking to get a job as anyone’s office decoration, but I know that I would be discriminated against if I did. My reasons for wanting to lose weight is mostly about health and sticking around to see my grandchildren all get born and grow and take care of my own Special Needs child. As my mother would say, I don’t expect to be in the front row of the follies, but if I could buy a new dress for Irene’s wedding (which will be recycled for our niece’s wedding in December as well) it would be a nice fringe benefit.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Remodeling Me

Our bathroom is remodeled and our grandson installed in his new bedroom after he and his mama spent Winter in Brazil. The seasons are turning and it’s time to remodel me. Like most people I can know intellectually what I need to do, but can live on the rive Denial and in the land of Procrastination. Since I became a mother I’ve had issues with my weight. Each baby added more to the scale and no amount of nursing got me anywhere near where I’d been when I got pregnant with that baby much less the first one at age 19. Although I’m not looking to weigh 115 again, I’ve known for some time that I need to lose weight. A lot of it. Right after the holidays, right after my birthday, as soon as school is out, tomorrow. Tomorrow’s come.

My blog buddy Lorrene LeMaster of “Pet Peeves and Other Ramblings” has written about how much she hates blood draws. She and I suffer from the same malady. Our veins take one look at the needle and roll over and dive so when my doctor ordered a couple of blood tests about a year and a half ago I thought it a matter of some importance and about a month ago I decided to take care of it while at Group Health for a check of my blood pressure. It was an early morning appointment and not hard to fast before showing up for my 8:30 appointment with PA Gross. This was just before my 59th birthday when we had reservations at a B&B in Snohomish with my best friend who was also having a birthday. I got the bad news (results) the day we were to leave. Although my HBP is under control, my cholesterol is through the roof and I’m staring down the barrel of Type II Diabetes. Aside from that I have two bad knees and was sitting at my highest weight ever—227. Tomorrow had come or at least it was going to come as soon as we returned from our three day vacation.

I’m motivated to share my struggle publically because my soon-to-be-sister-in-law is fighting her own battle with the scale and has taken her struggle to her own blog. It seemed like a good idea. Maybe if I have to be publically accountable my progress won’t turn to regress so if you don’t mind I will share my successes and failures here for whatever it is worth as I struggle toward a class reunion and my brother-in-law’s wedding.

So here I am, the day after my third baby’s 34th birthday. I am down seven pounds. Not amazing for almost a month, but, hey, it didn’t go on all at once so I can’t expect it to disappear all at once either. I'll let you know how I'm doing.