Still Fat?


So how’s that diet going?

Short answer: if you have to ask, it’s not going well.

I went vegan, and the first week felt wonderful. The next week I was draggy and starving and lethargic and grumpy and felt like I ought to be crawling across the floor with my tin begging cup held out to strangers for scraps.

So I ate things that weren’t on my diet. Then I ate everything in the house, and have since been proceeding to snack my way through every edible item on the east coast. When I hit Maine lobster, I’ll have to turn around and head back the other way…’til I get to key lime pie. 🙂

Seriously, my reasons to diet remain the same. I need to increase health and decrease my size so I can downsize my wardrobe. I can’t simplify my closets until I get this under control.

So once again I find myself publicly addressing the problem. Something’s gotta give, and it all comes down to me making a decision I can stick to, while on my very busy schedule.

Here it goes: 2013 is going to be the year of eating mindfully. I’m not going to specify a weight loss goal or a size goal. I’m not going to promise to only eat vegetables or drink water or to never touch a Diet Coke again. That didn’t work out so well!

I AM going to eat mindfully, all year long. I’m going to make time for exercise. I am going to set goals that focus on what I do, (say, walking for 30 minutes 5 days a week,) instead of “lose 30 pounds as quickly as possible”.

I am going to try out different diets sequentially to see what makes me feel the best. (Every body is different, and what works for one person won’t work for another. I’m going to try on different diets the way you try on shoes, to see what feels good.)

I’m going to start with this: The Candida Diet. Anyone familiar with natural healing methods has heard of the Candida Diet, (which really ought to be “The Anti-Candida Diet,” because no one wants to SUPPORT candida overgrowth).

Anyway, the theory is this: our systems naturally have some amount of candida. An overgrowth of candida causes problems…the typical female “yeast infection,” oral thrush, skin problems, etc. It also can cause problems that are more covert and confusing: from mood – brain fog, inability to focus, irritability;  to respiratory distress –  cough, sinus issues, phlegm, to stomach problems – constipation, diarrhea, gas, reflux, to skin problems and nail fungus. (This is not an exhaustive list. The list of possible candida symptoms is incredibly long.)

The good part: candida overgrowth can be healed almost entirely by diet. Since the overgrowth is fed by carbohydrates, a low carbohydrate diet with lots of pure, nourishing foods will help get the overgrowth under control. There are natural supplements you can take to help get rid of candida, such as capryl (derived from coconut) and grapefruit seed oil. (There are also pharmaceutical pills that can help with candida, but they might destroy your liver while they’re at it. )

The excellent news: The candida diet WILL help with weight loss. Since the ingredients are very, very pure, it will also help with kidney and liver function…important to support the body during a time of change. (When the candida dies, they release toxins in your bloodstream, which must then be collected & excreted. Your liver needs to be able to clean out the toxins quickly.)

The bad news: Candida die-off is always unpleasant, as it can cause unusual tiredness, headaches, even skin issues.

So yeah, I’m jumping back in the water again. This time I promise to post once per week on how the diet is going, & what I’m gonna try next. Start date: December 31, 2012 – because it’s a Monday!

If anyone has tried the Candida Diet before, tell me about your experience with it. If you’ve found something that helped with weight loss, share that too! I’d like to hear some positive stories from the trenches!

Wish me the best!


Heating With Wood

Today was wood splitting day.

We made an excellent decision two years ago, (and by “we” I mean “Rusty”,) to install a wood burning stove.  We had a humongous winter power bill, and knew we needed to do something different if we wanted to keep warm.

Rus hauled in an old wood stove that had been warming up a shed, and we bricked up a hearth and installed the thing. (Don’t you just love how casually I say that? We “bricked up a hearth?” That’s what you do when your husband is a brick mason. I love it!)

Our wood stove is utilitarian, country-looking, and doesn’t have the cute little glass doors so you can see the fire like the newfangled wood stoves, but it keeps us sooo toasty warm. And when it gets too warm, we can close the doors and keep the heat downstairs in the study/den.

Rus with the logsplitter

On the plus side, too, I get to watch my hubby doing his lumberjack routine. Isn’t he adorable in his plaid? Sigh…

Ever seen a wood splitter work? I was afraid the splitter would come down like a guillotine, the way you swing an axe. I assumed our fingers would be in great danger. It doesn’t work like that: the blade comes down very slowly, and it sort of squeezes the blade into the wood.


Then we ran out of gas for the wood splitter, so we went back to the old-fashioned ax-swinging method. Rusty grabbed an ax and started splitting and it looked like so much fun I had to try it too! (Don’t ask how many tries it took for me to get the first log split.)

Wood fires aren’t the best environmental choice, but when you live in five acres of woods, it’s an excellent economic choice. Gathering the wood is a fun activity for the two of us, and wonderful exercise. Just being outdoors makes me happy…being outdoors with a purpose makes me really happy.

We now have three sizable woodpiles, and a snuggly warm home.  That makes heating with wood…and wood splitting, a win-win for simplifying life at our house!


My Biggest Motive for Simplifying


Rusty and the power lines!

This is my husband.

This is my husband on a couple of ladders, pulling off and replacing boards, right next to some power lines. He is doing this because we need the money.

This is my A-number-1 reason for simplifying: I don’t want us to have to do jobs that are unpleasant, miserable, or downright dangerous.

I don’t ever want to see my husband in that kind of position again.

The power lines were really the least of the problems with this house. It was old and in serious need of maintenance. But the maintenance it needed was frightening: first, a pillar supporting the roof to the sunporch was rotten. The pillar had to be cut away while the roof was jacked (to keep it from crashing down on us,) and all the work had to be done with extraordinary care to keep the floor-to-ceiling glass panels from falling on us in a rain of shards.

Then the gutters needed replacing. The yard was a mass of plantings run wild, overlaid with a wash of fallen leaves. It was a hilly lot in the best of circumstances, but the wild bushes and groundcover and leaves obscured upright bricks lining pathways, holes, slippery mud,  and shrubs trimmed diagonally leaving upright spikes to impale the unwary.

It was the obstacle course of the doomed.

We tiptoed around the hazards, blew leaves so we could see a little of the ground we were working on, cut down some of the spikes that threatened to impale us, and prayed for the best.

Then there were the gargoyles.

No, really, there were gargoyles. As in plural. Multiple gargoyle statues with grim faces that stared at us as we worked on all sides of the house.

Ah yes, and after the gutters, the fascia needed replacing. So my husband was ripping off boards where the ladders SHOULD have rested, using a rig to keep his ladder away from his work.

Here’s the clincher: I am afraid of heights, to the point where it is ridiculous for me to even try to be on a ladder. I can get 4-6 feet off the ground, then my imagination kicks in and I visualize all the ways I am likely to be injured if I fall, (which will surely happen because I am too clumsy to walk across a carpeted floor without falling,) and I start to shake uncontrollably.

So I’m the gofer, grabbit, hand it person, while my patient husband is the climb-and-do-it person.

It sounds as though I could stand at the bottom of the ladder and do my nails while he does the hard work, but in fact I am usually very busy.

But I also feel very guilty, because I am worrying about him falling. Then, (hyper-imagination time again,) I’m envisioning his hospital stay and me nursing him back to health. Or that he falls on me and we are both injured. I play through all the scenarios: broken leg, broken hip, broken back, fractured skull, the frantic 911 call, the trip to the hospital, getting in touch with Rusty’s relatives, the long convalescence…

All of it.

Our last strip of fascia and gutter replacement was on the back end of the house, a scary area we had nearly managed to forget: an odd little offset on the back end of the sunroom.

The ground was extraordinarily uneven there, and someone had attempted to correct that by making steps directly into the earth. The area was so covered by leaves we really couldn’t see what was going on, so we blew them away.

There was no way to adequately photograph it. There were odds and ends shoved into the hillside to form makeshift steps, held in place by bits of rebar. Nothing was uniform, or steady, or secure in any way. It was almost more frightening to see how this was done than it was to scale the mess blindly under a mass of leaves.

Then, high above the strangely uneven ground was the wall of the glass sunroom, with the biggest gargoyle of all staring down at us, glowering, arms crossed. It really looked like the area was under a madman’s spell. And my beloved hub was going to have to find a way up there and make that job happen if we wanted to get paid.

More guilt, in waves, and with it the visions: of ambulances lighting up the dusk, the wail of sirens and the preternaturally calm voices of professional EMTs assessing the damage, the puffs of sphygmomanometer and the rustle of sterile packaging, the smells of alcohol and medication and sheets so clean they squeak.

Darkness came in quickly, and we worked fast, growing a little frantic. The sunroom, of course, was a wall of glass panels, and any slip of the ladder would hit glass…all of it old, and likely untempered. The uneven ground made placing the ladders tricky. The sight of my husband high above the ground in front of a wall of glass yanking away at an ancient board was a little overwhelming.

But he survived.

We pulled down the ladders long after the sun had dropped behind the horizon, while the last, weak rays of light barely illuminated our feet. We finished loading the truck and trailer by flashlight.

Never again.

My husband’s life and my sanity are worth more than that.

We drove the truck into the night, our worries melting into a kind of grim euphoria. We left the gargoyles behind…and the spectres that haunt my waking dreams.

I want to leave them behind forever, to have the luxury of choosing only jobs that feel safe and fit our schedule. My biggest motive for simplifying is to keep my little family intact so we can focus on goals that make us both happy, together.

A life without gargoyles.

Why Bother to Declutter?

Sometimes decluttering is as simple as tossing out the trash.

Usually, it’s much more difficult.

We keep things like gifts, mementos from old relationships, life-changing books (or cds, or college courses,) or clothing that will fit when we lose weight. We save the first outfit our child wore, things willed to us by loved ones, business materials we thought would launch us into a new life.

In other words, letting go of the “thing” is not just about letting go of the thing, it’s about letting go of a cherished idea.

That is infinitely more difficult to do! 🙂

So should we keep all those mementos forever? What’s the cost of hanging onto those cherished ideas?

A few things: we lose time, not being able to find the socks we are looking for (for example) in the mounds of underwear and shirts.

There’s expense…possibly being forced to buy more socks (or tools, or spices) because we can’t find the ones we already own.

There’s the expense of storing too much stuff…perhaps even adding rooms, sheds, or rental units to house the excess . That gets expensive! So here’s a question for you:

Could you live in a smaller home if you got rid of excess junk?

If you lived in a smaller home, would your homeowner’s insurance be lower? What about your power bill? Your taxes? Might you be able to spend less time cleaning? A house with less clutter can be cleaned much faster, even if the square footage remains the same. How much time could you save?

And the big one:

Could you possibly work less if your home and your bills were smaller?

What possibilities does that open?

Is it possible that you would live a freer, happier life if we only scale back?

Hold that thought a second.

If we take these actions:

1. Review possessions and toss or sell anything that is not extremely useful or incredibly beautiful.

2. Reduce our home size.

And then we can:

1. Work less and

2. Clean less, saving TIME, that glorious thing that nobody has enough of.

What would you do with the additional time? Would you visit your aging relatives more? Would you send yourself back to school? Is there a volunteer work you’d like to be more involved in? Could you use more exercise? Would you hold more dinner parties? Travel more? Spend more time hiking? Gardening? Dancing? Playing with your dog? Reading?

Whatever you want to do, minimizing your possessions could help you do it.

Is it worth working full time the rest of your life to maintain your collection of beanie babies? You decide.



Decluttering Pure Junk


If I am working on simplifying, (which means, in part, “decluttering”,) then why am I hanging onto a 48 year old teddy bear? And a 42-year-old badly-crafted turtle with a busted tail?

It’s not because they’re so pretty!

Old teddy bear
Teddy Bear
Told ya.

These are things that were mine when I was little, which my mother saved because they reminded her of the cute, tiny version of me.

The teddy bear was something I picked up at a store when I was a one-year-old. I loved it, and it was the first thing I’d “asked” for, so my parents bought it.

My one-year-old self had lousy taste. This is the homeliest bear you are ever likely to see, and he has fur that feels like grated pop bottles…which is misleading, because apparently recycled pop bottles can make a pretty soft fabric. But really, if you went in your kitchen right this minute and grated up your Sprite bottle with a standard-issue cheese grater…the resulting mess would feel like this bear.

The bear’s one redeeming feature is his passing resemblance to Dancing Bear, of Captain Kangaroo fame.

I don’t know if there was ever a licensed Dancing Bear doll, but I know my five-year-old self would have begged for it. Captain Kangaroo spoke through the camera directly to me. He loved me, thought I was special, and the feeling was mutual. And if Captain Kangaroo thought it was a good idea to hang out with a strange, mouthless, silent, dancing bear–well, ok, count me in.

But no, my bear is not actually Dancing Bear. He’s just a homely teddy, who found himself a home.

For a long, long, LONG time.

The turtle was an art project from second grade. I remember the feeling of my fingers in  the clay, and how much I really wanted to make a horse, but knew there was no way to make it recognizable. I made the turtle because, stubby animal that he is, his fat little legs would both stay on his body and hold him upright.  I remember liking the pale color scheme I chose a lot more before the glaze shined it up.

My parents thought the turtle was pure genius because I made his legs “walking”.

I was seven, people! I was doing good to have a total of four legs on my turtle. His legs looked like they were “walking” because I couldn’t line them up neatly the way I wanted them.

While it was sweet that Mom saved those things for me, there’s really no point in saving those things for MYSELF. Then what happens? I eventually die and my children are faced with, amongst all my other possessions, a 79-year-old teddy bear and a 73-year old turtle?


But I hate to just toss ’em out.

So here’s what’s gonna happen: I’m going to do a photo project with these things. I’m going to honor them by photographing them in a memorable way, perhaps posting a few for your amusement, then giving teddy & turtle an honorable burial.

At sea.

With cement overshoes.

Those ugly suckers have got to GO!