Friday, January 29, 2010

So much good living, Part II.

Day 25. My nose is still stuffy, too.

The good living didn’t end in Switzerland. Even in England I managed pretty well.

Most of the time.

Liverpool was pretty good. There were some pretty funny missteps, but there were also some wonderful home-cooked meals, good bacon-buttys (grilled ham & cheese on thick farmer’s bread) at the local pub, and there was always the Chinese restaurant at Fiveways.

London could be tricky.

Lots of late nights at the office. Lots of meals missed, lots of meals out. Some of them were ok.

Or on good nights, crispy duck (or garlic prawns) at the Tradewinds on Baker Street with a favorite colleague.

If I was lucky.

Another nine rounds with the room service chef at the hotel, if I was not.

I lived in that hotel for six months. And later stayed, off and on, for another two or three years. A very nice hotel, with—very unfortunately, and very typical of British hotels, even really nice ones—a SHORT room service menu.

That led to frequent and frustrating battles with the Room Service Chef.

I’d order roast chicken, with green beans, and wild rice.

No, he’d say. The wild rice comes with the lamb (smothered in mint jelly—YUCK! What a horrible thing to do to perfectly innocent lamb.) and overcooked carrots and mushy peas. The chicken comes with runny mashed potatoes, greasy gravy and drowned green beans.

I get that.

What I’d LIKE is the CHICKEN (no potatoes, no gravy), with wild rice and green beans.

Not possible. The chicken comes with..

After two or three rounds of this (Who’s on first?) I’d inevitably, over and over again (I’m not kidding about this) be forced to order the lamb—WITHOUT THE LAMB, WITHOUT the overcooked carrots and mushy peas,

AND order the CHICKEN, WITHOUT the GRAVY, WITHOUT the potatoes.

And he would send up two plates:

One with the wild rice (hold the lamb, hold the…).

And one, with the chicken and green beans…

And charge me for two meals.

(It’s not like he didn’t get it, either. After three or four weeks he started sending just one place setting, instead of two. Still charged me for two meals, though. For being “difficult.”)

And then occasionally communications would break down entirely.

I once asked for a cheese pizza. I was really tired of all the strange toppings (tuna?!!) and weird ingredients and just wanted a plain, cheese pizza.

I didn’t think it was an unreasonable request.

It certainly didn’t seem like a difficult concept.

Wrong again, Sherlock.

First of all, cheese pizza was not on the menu. If it isn’t on the menu, it’s a PROBLEM.

Full stop.

I’m an American. The “If it isn’t on the menu…” attitude is INCOMPREHENSIBLE to me.

Make me a damn pizza. Refrain from polluting it with corn, leeks, aubergine, mashed potatoes, and any other of the strange and inappropriate toppings you have listed. Leave it PLAIN. Bake it. And then send it up here before I start gnawing on the furniture.

We went around and around: JUST cheese. Nothing else. No, not even onions. JUST cheese. No, nothing else. JUST cheese. Yes, CHEESE. Just like normal. Whatever cheese you usually use. Just don’t put anything ELSE on it. No, JUST cheese…

Ten minutes later, the furniture was starting to look pretty good. Or maybe some of the flowers might be edible?

I resolved to duck out of an all-day meeting with Nintendo the next day (the Japanese appreciate fine food—they’d understand) for an hour and go grocery shopping. If I took all the booze, the salted peanuts, and the jar of candied grapefruit slices (?!) out of the teeny, weeny mini-bar, there’d be enough room to wedge in something.

I waited.

The man next door called down to Reception to complain about the loud growling noises coming from my room.

(It was just my stomach, I swear.)

Then there was a knock at the door.

I looked out the peephole first (I’m no dummy) and was relieved to see that it was just a liveried room service waiter with a cart.

Not hotel security.

He wheeled it in, waited impatiently for his signature and tip (to add insult to injury) and bolted.

Like he was a little afraid.

I grabbed a thick linen napkin and carefully raised the domed cover…

What was revealed underneath looked like a pizza—mostly—and smelled like a pizza—mostly.

Except for five large, evenly-spaced, blue-ish gray, slightly lumpy, toxic-looking puddles floating on top.

I think one of them was moving.

I know of no naturally-occurring edible substance that color.

But it was late. I was really tired, frustrated, and starving. The company at that time had a large insurance policy on me—I figured if I was poisoned to death in this London hotel room the rest of my family would be set for life.

And that chef would get his.

It was not that big of a pizza to begin with, but I carefully cut around the pulsating puddles—leaving a WIDE margin of safety—and ate the little that was left.

By the time I’d finished, the puddles had congealed into a soft, blue-gray, slightly lumpy porridge–like substance. Darker streaks, like veins, were becoming visible.


And vaguely threatening.

I trapped them back under the dome before they could spring to life and make a break for it,  pushed the cart out the door into the hall, shut the door and locked it behind me.


Went for a bath, and a book, and bed.

And an hour later, just as I was falling asleep, it occurred to me.

He’d topped it with bleu cheese.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Life’s Been SO Good, part I

Day 24 and my tongue is still white.

Apparently, a white tongue, (which should eventually revert back to a nice and pink tongue again) is a sign that the body is still de-toxing.

I guess I have a lot of good living to cleanse.

It may have started freshmen year in college, when I discovered Ho-Ho’s. Or Junior Year Abroad, when we ate and drank our way through Germany (yum) and the rest of Europe. Ouzo, anyone? Fond memories of Rahmschnitzel, RitterSport, gyros, and Mandelhoernchen from my favorite Konditerei. Baumkuchen, and tortes and pastries of all kinds. That incredible, fresh bread! And hot pretzels. And hot pretzel buns. Hot, sugar-and-spice cinnamon almonds all winter. And chocolate, chocolate, chocolate.. (I have a whole TWO shelves of German cookbooks. Another of Swiss & Austrian. And all the recipes from my Oma, of course! ♥ )

It got worse during grad school, when I spend a summer as a intern in Bern, Switzerland. And lived across the valley from the Toblerone Factory. It was like coming home every afternoon to an entire valley filled with the inviting aroma of hot chocolate chip cookies.

I tried some strange and interesting new things; learned to make (always stir the cheese in a figure-8) and eat (never, NEVER drink water while eating) fondue, and risotto, and a great salad dressing that I still use; and generally had a great time.

And when I could graciously bow out of the full-fledged hot midday meal with my colleagues in town, I loved getting a fresh roll from the local baker, some chocolate at the Confiserie and sitting on the back steps of the Bundeshaus—the equivalent of the White House in Washington, D.C.—looking out over the river below.

Food didn’t become a big problem until I went back to Switzerland and worked in Zuerich for a year. It was cold, and wet, and rained for weeks and weeks and weeks at a time.

And that was summer.

(I once paid about $3.00—each—for a bag of California apricots. It was like holding the warm memory of the sun in my hands. Every bite was pure heaven.)

I didn’t share.

That winter it was REALLY COLD, and snowed and snowed and snowed. For weeks at a time. The man at the market laughed at me, because I was looking for fresh lettuce, and handed me a head of cabbage instead.

And pointed at the potatoes.

I would’ve dashed from building to building if I could’ve, but the sidewalks were icy. Lethal. The best I could do was a careful shuffle and slip. Or stay inside. A lot.

And eat.

The Swiss eat well—all year round. And exponentially more chocolate—it’s considered food, not an occasional ‘treat’ –than Americans do. (And this is real chocolate, remember. Not the chalk-and-paste stuff that Hershey’s tries to pawn off.)

Rich, full-fat, full-flavor, real cacao chocolate. They even have real white chocolate.

All day long.

Hot chocolate for breakfast. A chocolate bar tucked into the briefcase (just in case). Pick up out a few handmade truffles (mocha, praline’, and white chocolate champagne were my favorites) from the over 100 varieties at the original Teuscher Confiserie you pass by every morning on the way to work. A chocolate-filled Broetchen, or pastry in the afternoon, when the sun goes down at 3:30 and you need a little boost to make it through the rest of the day workday in the pitch dark.

Then a sweet snack for the trip home.

And chocolate fondue (after the cheese fondue for dinner) for dessert on the weekends.

Everyone has their favorite brand of chocolate—and there are jillions of them. Big, international companies like Lindt, and tiny, specialty houses who create only enough for a select, often subscription-only, clientele.

Different chocolates for every season, every occasion, and every possible taste.

On a regular basis the company I worked for took me on tours of their other holdings. Among them, of course, were chocolate and other confectionary companies. And sent me home laden with samples, bless them.

In my free time, I toured a couple of chocolate factories on my own. Like said Lindt. (Very stingy on the samples, they were.)

And it wasn’t just chocolate. Tortes, and pastries, and crispy little cookies (cookies dipped in chocolate, cookies filled with chocolate, cookies sprinkled with chocolate…) Marzipan and real nougat (the soft, chocolate-y hazelnut creme, not the yucky white stuff with fruit & nuts). Rahmcarameli—a Bern specialty—were a particular favorite of mine: little tins (I still have one somewhere) filled with little cubes of of a brown-sugary miraculous confection somewhere between a soft caramel, fudge, and the brown-sugar filling in those See’s chocolates that I can never remember the name of.

And then there were the cheeses—every shape, color, variety. Hard, soft, strong, mild, and those incredible creamy German varieties that are spreadable. And of course the breads—hot, crusty, fresh-baked everyday. Light and airy; rich and eggy; rustic and hearty; chewy and whole grain. (I did miss the pretzel buns from Germany, but I made do.)

In Switzerland (and Germany, and across Europe) people patronize a favorite cheese shop, a favorite baker, a butcher who has the best cuts and makes the best sausages, a green grocer who has the freshest produce.

Every region in every country has their specialties—wonderful things, unusual things.

Things I might not be able to get ever again…

What can I say? I went native. It wasn’t just the food—it was the lifestyle, the camaraderie. The wine and cheese and amaretti on a warm summer evening by the lake in Lugano; or fondue, or raclette by the fire on a cold night in Bern. Fastnachtskuechli and Zwiebeli  at Fasching (Karneval). And Kaffee und Kuchen on a Sunday afternoon in the garden. With friends that became like family.

I spent more than a year living on bread, and cheese, and chocolate, and…

I could go on and on.

And did.

Some really wonderful memories there.

Stuff that no cleanse can ever wash away.

And I think I’ll get my raclette grill out and invite a few friends as soon as this fast is over.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Not cured yet

Apparently God does not mean for me to be a vegetarian.

I can go—and have—for weeks on just tofu and nuts, cheese and eggs at Tassajara.

And clearly, as I’m doing now, I can actually go for weeks without eating anything at all.

(Who knew?)

But I’m still fantasizing about savory, crisp roast chicken; rich, flavorful braised and slow-simmered short ribs; tangy, juicy barbeque; and even golden, perfectly toasted, crisp, warm, melty ham and cheese.

It’s Day 23.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Books in the Bathtub

Day 22.

One wonderful benefit to this fast has been all the long, hot baths I’ve been taking lately and all the books I’ve been able to read as a result.

I LOVE to read. But life gets in the way, and there are only so many nights you can go to bed at midnight and read until two before you need pharmaceuticals to get through the next day. (Or reading glasses. As much as I HATE to admit it, that time is inching nearer. Rapidly.)

Or maybe I just need a better reading lamp.

All this time on the cardio machines at the gym helps, too. But it’s a LOT harder to read bouncing up and down on the elliptical than it was on the old lady bike.


In the past week or two I’ve read, among other things:

P.D. James “The Private Patient” about a well-known investigative journalist who is murdered in a plastic surgery clinic outside of London. I like and respect P.D. James, but this is not one of her better ones. It started out slow and never got any better. It’ll be nice when the new Elizabeth George novel comes out. In May, I think. Hers books are incredibly tragic, incredibly gruesome murder mysteries, but she’s a phenomenal writer and one I hope to learn from. She was an English and writing teacher for years and has also written a great writing book  “Write Away” that I think is one of the best—regardless of genre.

“Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven” by Fannie Flagg, she of “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe.” This dragged a bit at the beginning, but is really a sweet book with a nice message. It’s been on my pile for a while: I was searching for a caramel cake recipe last spring and read somewhere that this book has a great recipe for caramel cake with caramel frosting in the back, so I bought it. It does—and a couple of other recipes that sound fun—and I’ll bake it sometime when I’m eating again.

And about half of  “A Dirty Job” by Christopher Moore–a really strange book about a thrift-store owner in San Francisco, but I’m still reading.

I read pretty fast—it’s very rare that I dislike a book so much that I don’t finish. I can only recall two off-hand: One was “She’s Come Undone” by Wally Lamb, and the other was “The Lovely Bones.” Yes, I realize that I’m only one of seven people on the planet that didn’t like that one, but I don’t care. I hated it. Didn’t even finish reading it, just scanned the rest and threw it far away. Not going to the movie, either.


But back to the bathtub. There have, predictably, been some unfortunate incidents. An old Agatha Christie: “Poirot Loses a Client,” I think it was, and at least one or two other books have been the victims of accidental dippings. Only one book—a particularly thick one—actually got dropped all the way in.


I now have a new only-paperbacks-in-the-bathtub rule.

And a whole stack of books, still waiting to be read.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Wild Weekend Women

I had a absolutely fabulous weekend with a dear, fabulous woman that I’m grateful and honored to call my friend.

Friday night we went dancing. The first time I’ve danced (or been able to dance) in ages and more fun than I’ve had in a long time. It was a wild, wonderful event for a really good cause. The room-length dessert buffet didn’t even tempt me. (The crispy, golden calamari emanating enticing aromas of garlic and goodness from the other end of the room, however, did. )

Not enough, though. Not enough.

Although I used to go up to the City once a week, I haven’t been in a while. And there’ve been things I’ve missed! But we didn’t go to any of my favorite restaurants, didn’t eat or drink any of my favorite foods.

And I wasn’t even tempted on Sunday, at a really unique and fairly rare event: a lovely tea which featured fresh-baked bread and a long table heavily laden with Tassajara-inspired goodies. Instead I enjoyed the music and the company.

And being back in surroundings that feel like home.

I was reminded all over again what an incredibly beautiful city San Francisco is. And how much I love it, and what happy memories I have.

And how glad and grateful I am that I live here, with open vistas of hills and trees all around me, instead.

Day 21.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

You’re Boring the Dog

I have a new idea for a reality show.

It’s called “You’re Boring the Dog.”

Dogs are great. And I’m really lucky—I have a particularly sweet one. He’s fascinated by almost everything I do, follows me around, wants to see, stick his nose right into the middle of, (and participate, if possible) in whatever I’m up to. Or at least watch. Is always ready to run. Or play. Or walk. Or snuggle.

But sometimes even he gets bored.

Like when I’m working at my desk, or watching tv, or soaking in the bath with a good book and it doesn’t look like I’m going to get up and do anything interesting anytime soon.

He gets bored waiting and gives up. Curls up, either under my feet, or in my lap, if he can get away with it (he’s kind of outgrown the lapdog parameters), or on the bathmat in front of the tub and goes to sleep.


Until I get up and do something more interesting again.

The last few weeks have been a little boring for him. I’ve been really busy, and it’s been raining—a lot—so we haven’t been on many walks. I’m NEVER in the kitchen cooking anything yummy anymore. I never drop crumbs, or tidbits, or the little crispy end of anything for him to hoover up. I don’t bring home bags of interesting things from the market anymore. I never save him the last bite of a sandwich anymore.

And there hasn’t been a mixing bowl to help lick out in ages.

These days it’s just plain ol’ dog food, and cookie bones, and the occasional soft liver treat.

And just potion, potion, potion for me.

Even the dog is getting bored.

So, it’s Day 17 of my cleansing fast. I’m going to keep going, but I’m going to quit yammering on about it so much.

I was boring the dog.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Day 16

I’m really, REALLY tired of lemonade.

I usually love the taste, and smell, of fresh lemons. Lemon blossoms on a spring day, the scent of fresh lemons in a bowl, a little fresh lemon squeezed into a glass of water on a hot summer day. And I’m permanently, eternally, on the hunt for the perfect lemon pound cake recipe. (If anyone has one, please, please share…) Ages ago there was a funky little deli in Sausalito that made a great one. Just a plain lemon Bundt cake, but so perfectly done—every time--that even the (usually dry) outside edge was moist and delicious.

And they didn’t pour lemon syrup over it, either. I mean, what ISN’T moist when you drench it in syrup?

Anyway, I’ve always loved lemons.  And right now I’m so sick of the taste of lemons, I would almost rather not have anything than drink another glass of this lemon juice potion.

But I’m doing it. Day 16. I still find it hard to believe that anyone—particularly me, the Nibble Queen—can go 16 days without eating anything. Was out on Friday night and someone asked me “Don’t you miss eating?” I do. I’m not hungry—at all—but I miss eating…

I think at this point, if I could cheat a little—if I could have a piece of savory roast chicken, or a bowll of creamy mac and cheese (heck—even one or two of the edamame my mom was munching on last night)—I would. But J and everything I’ve read warns me, I can’t just start eating again. Going off the fast is a gradual process…they recommend a day of orange juice, then adding vegetable broth for dinner. The next day it’s vegetable broth for lunch, etc.

So, ‘cheating’ would mean getting to drink a glass of orange juice. Maybe some broth, if I really go off the deep end.

Not a slice of pizza.

And nothing about a glass of orange juice is  worth it.

Or even that appealing.

This weekend was a bit rough again and I got frustrated. I didn’t sleep well Friday night, so I was tired and a little grumpy on Saturday. I also hit a wall as far as weight loss goes. Stalled for a couple of days, then Monday morning I was UP two pounds (on what?! a couple of extra glasses of water?) so by Monday night I just could NOT face another cup of potion.

So I deviated a bit. I admit it. For cups 5 & 6 that evening I used two tablespoons of Trader Joe’s pure, 100% cranberry juice instead of lemon juice. Woo hoo! And skipped the maple syrup entirely.

I’ve always loved maple syrup, too (one of the reasons I order waffles, instead of pancakes). And I LOVE maple candy—which was one of the few perks of commuting from Boston to London all that time back when: Logan airport gift shops carry FRESH maple candy—not the crystallized, rock-hard lumps you find out here…if you can find it out here at all.

But now even that taste is getting tiresome.

I did have a little spoonful of maple cream with the first cup, to make up for it. Not getting tired of that—maybe because of the wonderful, creamy texture. It almost gives my mouth something to do.

Cup number six went down completely plain.

And by Tuesday morning the scale had finally gotten with the program again and was heading in the right direction. (I know, I know—I’m not supposed to weigh myself every day. I just can’t help it.)

So last night I did it again: two tablespoons of pure 100% cranberry juice (No sugar, no nothing added. VERY sour. And SUCH a nice change.) in the last two cups.

And I’m good to go again.

In other news, last week, after half a month of warm, dry days, I was hauling watering cans around to water my potted plants. And even some of the ones in the ground. Not too bad, since all of my rain barrels were still full.

This week, we’ve had almost four inches of rain in the last couple of days, thunder, lightning, and even a little hail, and the biggest storm so far is raging as we speak.

I hope everyone stays safe, and warm and dry. Well hydrated.

God bless.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


This puts an entire new spin on the term, ‘craving chicken.’

I’m appropriately humbled. Grateful all over again for the many blessings I’ve been given. And grateful for a new twitter-contact,  @AngeliasArt . It was a link on her site that led me to this short, but powerful film, winner of the ‘Most Popular Short Film’ award at the 2006 Berlin Film Festival.

Chicken a la Carte:

Today’s Day 12. Maybe I will try for 40 days.

Just because.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

I haven’t eaten anything in 10 days

It boggles my mind.

And it makes me think. About what we want, and what we actually need. What I think I have to have, and what is actually enough.

Now I know why God gave me the Frankenlemon tree.


I’m not hungry, although there’s a kind of mental list of ‘oh-the-things-I will-eat’ in the back of head with things like roast chicken, crispy duck, and barbequed ribs on it. I’ve always been a die-hard carnivore, but this is ridiculous! So I guess there’s no longer any doubt (if indeed there ever was) that I’m not just addicted to sugar. And chocolate. But also to protein. And fat.

I’m more than a little mortified to admit it, but it’s true.

Still odd to me that I’m NOT craving sweets—I guess the maple syrup takes care of that. It’s actually been tasting too sweet to me for the last few days, and sometimes I cheat a little and only put in one tablespoon, instead of two. Not sure if that’s allowed, but..

There’ve been some unexpected benefits, too. Except for the juice-squeezy-thingy and a couple of mugs & spoons, I haven’t had any dishes to do for more than a week. I haven’t had to clean the kitchen. And I haven’t had to clean that stove.

I still have lots of energy, and, in fact, seem to be sleeping less. My skin is really soft. Two people yesterday asked me if I’ve lost weight (YES). And no one’s complained (at least not to my face) that I’m any crabbier than usual.

I can’t believe I haven’t EATEN in ten days.

I bought a cute pair of boots (tall, black, suede, scrunchy. Sweet!) as a reward with the money I’m saving on groceries.

Which brings me back to needing and wanting.

I wanted those boots. (What I really wanted was some over-the-knee boots, but I decided that I’m too old for ‘em. Sigh. But these are pretty great.)

I didn’t actually need them.

I’ve been thinking about how much I have, how lucky I am. 

And starting to feel a bit guilty about the boots.

There’s a volunteer opportunity I’ve known about for a while. Shortly before Christmas, I finally went down & signed up. Yesterday was my first of two scheduled days, and I had so much fun!   The first thing they did was get me to commit to a whole bunch more, on a regular basis (the old ladies they put in charge of these things are tenacious.) I was pooped at the end of it, but I had so much fun. Which just goes to show, all over again, that we usually get more out of giving, and volunteering, and service, than we could ever put in.

So maybe tomorrow we could all skip just one thing—that extra latte, the dessert at lunchtime, that mid-afternoon candy bar, that extra glass of wine, or even some guilty pleasure tv show and give that money (or time) to someone in need.

Here’s the link to the International Red Cross, if you’d like to contact them:

In the meantime, since I’ve met my first goal (10 days), the next stop is 15. Wouldn’t it be nice if I could make it?

I’m off to pick more lemons now.

And I’ve put it on my list to ask the local butcher how long it takes to order a duck.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

And then there were Eight

So I got up last Tuesday, admitted my transgressions to my friend J, put them behind me, and started the Cleanse again. Made up a big bottle of potion, as they suggest, so I’d have no excuses.

Day 1 was no problem, but that first evening was ROUGH. It took two pieces of gum to get me through it, but I did it.

Day 2. The second evening was tough as well,  but my mom came by to help prepare some glazes for a local school project (who am I kidding? I just decide,  fetch and match colors—she does all the heavy lifting, i.e. cleaning and mixing, bless her. It is NOT a job I enjoy, or have much patience for.)

I pooped out early (not that I was being much help to begin with), so she decided to stay over and finish the next day. Which means she was there to ‘babysit’ me all evening and so I stayed on the straight and narrow. Although in the end it took a couple of killer games of Scrabble (and one chewy mint) to keep me honest…not sure I could have done it on my own. She also took the rest of the not-sure-how-long-I-can-resist-it food in the house with her when she left the next day. She forgot the head of lettuce and the head of purple cabbage and one lone little endive.

Those, it turns out, I’m able to resist.

By Day 3 I was unbearably  proud of myself for having made it that far. I spent two hours that night at a party at the best pizza place in town, but by then I was too thrilled to have gotten that far to blow it. I didn’t have so much as a teeny crumb of that toasty, crispy edge of cheese. I did bolt early and drove STRAIGHT to the gym, where there was just enough time to get a quick workout in before they closed.

On Day 4, an order of maple cream I’d ordered arrived. What looks like an undistinguished little plastic container is actually a jar of pure heaven—pure, organic maple syrup cooked down to the creamy texture of smooth peanut butter. YUM. I had to hide it from myself or be tempted to eat a significant portion. (I’d already done the math, and knew how much I could substitute for the maple syrup in my potion. I may have eaten just a teeensy bit more…)

I took the dog for as long a walk as I could manage and spent TWO hours at the gym, including an hour and a half on the old lady bike. (My ankle still hurts)

Day 5—Saturday—included an hour at the gym and then dinner with a friend. I watched her eat while sipping my potion. And was only a little tempted. (It wasn’t the manicotti so much as all that warm, gooey cheese on top.) And then I sat through an entire movie—which, as luck would have it—featured people cooking, eating, and talking about delicious food in darn near every scene, without eating so much as a grain of popcorn.

I dropped the forgotten vegetables off at my Mom’s while I was in town—I’d been entertaining lascivious thoughts of crunching into that head of lettuce.

J was right: I DO miss chewing!

By Day 6 I had a hard time even getting all six cups of the potion down. This was the first day that my weight wasn’t down, which J assures me is normal. The gym is closed on Sundays, but I worked in the yard for a couple of hours. Weird weather—at 5pm it was still 70. Kinda still and heavy. What we call ‘earthquake weather’ which it has been all week. No one believed me when I said so Tuesday and again on Saturday. And indeed, biggish earthquakes in Northern California both those days…

I took a long hot bath with a good book, and went to bed early. To no avail: some wild animal was gallumphing across the yard, driving the dog crazy, and once in a while galloping across the roof, just to break it up a little.

Day 7, down another pound. Back at the gym, where I’m starting to warm up to the old lady bike. This is to working out as condos are to camping: I can comfortably read while pedaling, although I’ve already gotten a bruise from just trying to get on and off the thing. Not sure it really counts as working out, but at least I’m moving. I’m not hungry at all, but by late afternoon the thought of a nice piece of roast chicken (I make great roast chicken) is driving me a little crazy. It takes another chewy mint and three little pieces of Flaming Dragon cinnamon gum to get me through the rest of the evening.

And Day 8 is today.

It boggles my mind that I haven’t eaten anything except six (more or less) cups of potion a day and a glass of herbal teal in the morning & evening for EIGHT days. I’m amazed that I’m not hungry. (A little bored, but not hungry.) Not sure if I’m any crankier than usual.

You’d have to ask the people that have to deal with me every day, and so far, they’re not telling.

The first few days, for one reason or another, I kept coming across links for new and yummy-sounding recipes I was dying to try. I wasted a bunch of time researching & saving recipes in a try ‘as soon as I start eating again” file. By Sunday, Day 6, they were all recipes for goodies—some yummy-sounding cookies, some cute cupcakes I’ll probably make at Valentine’s, some decadent dessert bars. I guess it was all some sort of sick substitution for actually eating, but hey—no actual calories were consumed in the process. And amazingly, for only the second time in my life I’m actually NOT craving sweets.

Over the last eight days I’ve had five pieces of gum, two chewy mints, and the occasional sugarfree tiny cinnamon Altoid none of which, strictly speaking, are allowed. Oh well. I haven’t eaten in EIGHT days. I’m so proud of myself I could burst. I feel great. I’ve lost that first five Christmas pounds I gained. And the second.

Part of me never wants to eat again..I mean hey—I’m kinda on a roll here. But there are all those good recipes to try..including a yummy one for pulled pork, and some pecan caramel toffee bars, and just yesterday I found a delicious and do-able sounding recipe for “Fragrant and Crispy Sichuan Duck”

It’s featured on every Chinese restaurant menu in England and almost none here, and I’ve been craving it since I left.

Anyone want to come over (after I’m done with my fast, of course!) and help me try it?

But not yet. My first goal is the ten day mark, which (it boggles my little mind) is just two days away. Then fifteen days, then twenty. According to the literature, you can go as long as 40 days at a stretch, as often as four times a year. Twenty seems a reasonable number for now--we’re taking my mom out for a nice dinner on her birthday, which is just a couple of weeks away.

In the process I’m hoping to learn the difference between being hungry and just liking & wanting to eat—for any other reason. I’m hoping to learn a more intuitive, natural, healthy manner of portion control—one blondie is about a 1”x2” rectangle –not a quarter of the pan, just because they taste so darn good. (And they’re ooey-gooey-chewy. I’m a real texture eater, too.) I’m hoping to improve my health, help my joints, and get rid of stuffy nose that I’ve picked up recently. I’m hoping to shrink my stomach. And kick-start some serious weight loss, too.

Did I mention that it’s going to an INCREDIBLE year?!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Fast the New Year

The driveway wasn’t the only thing I fell off of last Monday.


It was also the first day of my New Year’s diet. One of the things that is going to make this year so great is that I’m getting back in shape. Just getting back to my pre-Christmas weight would be a good start. Ever since they finally, FINALLY fixed my oven, I’ve been baking, and cooking, (and eating) up a storm. I got the five pounds you always gain at Christmas gained early on—at least that was one thing to cross off my list. And then I gained five more…

Darn me for being such a good cook :P

I’d agreed to kick-start that get healthy/lose weight process by going on the ‘Lemonade Cleanse’ with a twitter-friend of mine. He’s done it before, successfully, a couple of times, so we agreed to support one another.

And Monday was supposed to be my first day.

(I’m already lying. Sunday, January 3rd was supposed to be my first day. But I still had fresh crab in the house. Christmas (and New Year’s) on the California coast also means fresh crab, a rare and wonderful treat. Yum! Nice with a good German Riesling, if you’re into that sort of thing.) So I was still eating some of that fabulous crab on Sunday. I also ate, cleaned out, gave away, or froze most of the rest of the too-tempting food in the house. (I froze the rest of the crab legs, but kept them for myself. Already looking forward to those later.)

So Monday morning I’d had my first cup of tea and then my first glass of the magic cleansing potion (2TB of lemon juice, 2TB of maple syrup, and a dash of cayenne pepper in 10 oz. of filtered water) just before I walked out the front door and over the edge of the driveway into hurtville.

But I wasn’t going to let a little thing like pain stop me.

Now, I’ve tried this Cleanse thing before, a couple of times, over the years. And I’ve fasted successfully, for, oh, say six, eight, maybe even ten hours at a time.

This time I was determined to do better. And indeed, the day was a breeze. I often go for hours at a time without eating (during the day), and the potion isn’t bad at all. How bad can anything be with two tablespoons of maple syrup in it? (The very best part is licking the spoon.)

Got through the day, got through the walk, got through the gym and even got through the hour on the old lady bike.

Then I got home and ate everything in the house.

I mean everything. I started with a Baby Ruth bar. A nice fresh, chewy, one. Then I had half a pound of bacon, a slice of Swiss cheese, a CHUNK of cheddar cheese, then a Butterfinger bar. For dessert.

And then another one.

And I wasn’t even hungry.

No human being should be able to eat that much food in one evening. And I shouldn’t have had that food in the house to begin with.

Well, it’s not in the house anymore.

I finished the day with my cup of herbal tea and resolved to start again in the morning.

Went to bed (after scrubbing off the blood) and realized (all night, every time I tried to turn over) that I’d really wrenched by back when I fell and that it HURT to move.

And resolved to do better tomorrow.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Off with a Bang

I started the New Year off by falling down.

No, not from any artificial impairment, and not from anything as exciting as a horse. This time I fell off my own two feet.

It was a bright, blue, beautiful morning. New day, new week, new year! Full of new chances and bright new possibilities.  The weather was gorgeous—still a little cool, but on it’s way to to the incredible 74 degrees it would be by lunchtime.

You have to understand that Christmas in California—at least here near the coast--means that in the last few weeks we’ve had almost every kind of weather imaginable.

tropical flower vine Dec 1 2009 Sunshine….

December started off warm—the tropical vines over my table on the patio burst into unrestrained, almost obscene bloom on Dec. 1st. Roses were budding like crazy all over the garden, the not-a-camphor trees were covered in tiny white flowers, the sun was shining, and the sky was blue. 

Then we had a little rain…. much needed and welcomed. Also slightly unexpected, torrential, and brief.
Lovely green things started sprouting everywhere, the tiny white flowers from the not-a-camphor trees started drifting down like delicate white snowflakes everywhere, but then

it got COLD….

Really, REALLY cold. So cold, in fact, that for a couple of days I could see real SNOW from my backyard!
(Have I mentioned that I LOVE living out here?!)
Snow Dec 2009

Unfortunately, the frost that accompanied the snow took out the tops of the vines and some of the just-sprouted lovely green things. Somebody’ll have to do some pruning out there.

Any day now.

Then the heating went out on the 23rd (of course!) which was also the coldest night all year (of course!) and didn’t get fixed (sort of) until the 28th.

The little dog, however, knew just what to do. He moved from his usual warm, sunny spot out on the patio to an even warmer one inside:

DSCN4484 DSCN4483

So we had a fire burning non-stop over the holidays. Nice, and it turns out that the goofy little ole fireplace heats up pretty well!

(You’d think a black dog would get hot enough—sometimes he lies in the blazing sun until his fur is almost too hot to touch! But he loves being warm and basks in the heat.)

(He’s curled up at my feet, under the desk, with his head on my foot, as we speak.)

Starting Christmas Day, the weather warmed up. And up. And UP. Which brings me to back to New Year’s…

I was on my way down the driveway. Just happy that the sun was shining, and glad that it’s a New Year (this is going to be SUCH a good year!) and glad to be alive. And not watching where I was going until it was too late….

My happy-go-lucky, unsuspecting left foot landed on  the sharp edge of my poorly graded driveway, my ankle knicked over, and I started to fall…

There is a horrible fraction of a second, when you realize that you’re falling, but are already past your center of gravity and beyond any point of equilibrium. Helpless to do anything but flinch in anticipation of the inevitable, and rapidly-approaching impact.

I landed HARD. So hard I bounced. So hard that I was in shock for a second. So hard, that a second later I started to cry.

I lay there for a minute. As the shock wore off, the pain flooded in, and I assessed the damage. My first fear and concern is always my knees but practice or luck had protected them and they were fine.

But I’d twisted one ankle, tweaked the other, scraped a knee, banged an elbow (HARD!) when it hit the raised edged of the damned driveway, hurt my shoulder, and had the inevitable, grit-ingrained, scraped palm. Later I’d realize that I also wrenched my back—one of the invisible injuries that no one who hasn’t been there themselves understands.

Which, come to think of it, is true with most injuries and might warrant a discussion all its own.

In any case, I eventually got up. At first I wasn’t sure I could make it the short distance back to the house, but it’d been a long time since I sprained an ankle. I’d forgotten how much it could hurt. And how quickly you get used to it and walk on it anyway.

I did wonder, briefly, if I should do something …like ice or Ace bandages. My neighbor sprained her ankle recently. She said it didn’t hurt, but that she had to hobble around for a week or two with it bandaged. Her husband’s a physical therapist, so he would know.

But there’s no one in my house that smart. And besides, mine really hurt (still does) so maybe that was a good sign? I was determined to walk it off—so I later that day I put the dog on the leash and went for a long walk around the field, just because. I even went to the gym that night. I couldn’t hack the elliptical, but I did pedal away on the old-lady bike for almost an hour.

I wasn’t until I was changing for bed that I realized that I’d had blood dripping down my leg from the scrape on my knee. Of course, by then it was dry, so I just scrubbed it off and went to bed, determined that the next day would be better.

NOTHING is going to stop me from having a GREAT year!