every girl needs a greek chorus

a blog about hope

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An Open Letter to My Fitbit

Dear Fitbit;

You call this

Fitbit – You call this “progress?”

I received your email at 1:01am today with my “Weekly Progress Report,” and I sense that you are a little frustrated with me.  You didn’t come right out and say it, but I can tell.  I see the red downward arrows for “Total Steps” and “Total Distance.”  There’s no need to be so passive-aggressive about my laziness.  It only makes me want to reach for the chocolate.  I would appreciate it if you would be more encouraging when I am struggling.

You should know that I lost my rhythm when I was on vacation in March.  Mind you, I took my Zumba dvd with me and even used it three times in 10 days, on the hard tile floor of the condo, during the morning, when I was fairly certain that the guests in the unit downstairs were off scuba diving.  The tile was too slippery for me to plank, so the old abs didn’t get much of a workout, either.  I have returned to planking on my soft wool rug, but I just can’t get motivated to “aerobicize” myself.  Please cut me some slack.

Is it really necessary to rub my nose in the success of my two “Fitbit” buddies?  My friend, Sassy Soprano, has infinite energy, plays tennis and hikes every single day, rain or shine, snow or swelter.  The Daughter is a nurse, for crying out loud, and not only walks a million miles each shift but also runs and bikes for no apparent reason when she isn’t working.  Honestly, I’m getting tired just thinking about them.

I must confess, though, that I lied to you about my weight.  My heaviest was actually 120, but it wasn’t my fault.  I ate French fries because I didn’t want to look like a picky eater in front of my date (who was the first decent man I’ve met in eight months), and then I was served loaded mashed potatoes at a wedding reception and didn’t want to ruin the happy couple’s big day.  What could I do?  Shove them in my purse when no one was looking?

Please tell me what business it is of yours how much I am sleeping.  Are you mocking me for buying the cheapest version of you, which doesn’t track sleep?  If it means that much to you, I’ll have you know that, NO, indeed, I have not been sleeping well, lately.  As the weather changes from winter to spring, I’m having more hot flashes, which means I wake up to throw off the covers and realize that I have to pee again because of all that water that you make me drink, creating a horrible sleep pattern.  I fall asleep at 10, awake at 3, review 62 years of foolish mistakes from 3-5, then doze off until 7, when The BFF butts me with her head for breakfast.

Why doesn’t your activity log include the things that I actually do besides Zumba? Like yard work.   I’ll have you know that I blew or raked all the wet leaves in my side yard that I didn’t remove last fall and whacked all the early weeds.  That took two hours and was really strenuous.  Doesn’t that count?  I dug dirt, hauled cinderblocks, and rebuilt the border of my garden.  Surely, that counts for something, doesn’t it?

How about working at church?  I walked so much at church last Sunday, going up and down stairs, serving at one service, teaching Sunday School, singing at the spring concert in the afternoon, that I was thoroughly exhausted.  You have no interest in religion, do you?

You gave me a paltry 78 calories burned for 20 minutes of dancing at the wedding reception.  That’s 20 vigorous minutes of the Twist, the Boogaloo, the Frug, the Jerk, the Swim, and the Pony.  In gold sandals with 3” heels, no less.  That’s quite an accomplishment for a Senior Citizen who was happy she could even remember the names of the dances of her youth and thrilled to sing along with the great 1960s tunes.  You get quite a workout shouting “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” while dancing off loaded mashed potatoes, especially when you’ve made it into your 60s, so show a little r-e-s-p-e-c-t and find out what it means to be me.

Let me give YOU a weekly progress report.  Every day, I wear you close to my heart (literally). Sometimes, I can even feel you

Snarky little thing

Fitbit – A snarky little thing

poking into my sternum. I regularly change your expensive lithium batteries.  And how do you repay my loyalty?  When I’m exercising and want to know if I’ve burned enough calories to quit for the day, you refuse to sync with the app on my iPhone so I can read it.  What’s up with that?  All I get is your snarky little face with your nasty tongue sticking out at me.  Not nice, Fitbit, not nice.  You need to develop a more generous, forgiving attitude, if we’re to remain in a relationship.  Speaking of relationships…


How much food should you eat on a blind date?  Does it depend on where you’re eating?  Who’s paying?  Time of day?  What do you do when the date suggests a restaurant you don’t like?  Should I just have salad for dinner?  Should I have a cocktail or a glass of wine?  Or should I stick with water?  My dates have always said they would pay because that’s how men of our generation were brought up.  I think that the invitee should pay for the invited, but because there is rarely a second date with these men, I feel a little guilty.

Last week, a guy that I didn’t want to date (even after I asked him to read this blog and reconsider, thinking it would scare him off), invited me to a diner for coffee at 6:30pm.  There were so many problems with this that I should have listened to the Shrew in my head and cancelled.  It was an unremarkable diner.  It was dinner time.  It was 40 minutes away at rush hour. I don’t drink caffeine after 6 or coffee without food.  I didn’t want to be there.  He was so insistent and so clever in his emails that my silly heart said, “Go for it” while the Shrew was groaning, “Are you nuts or what?”

The first thing he said when we sat down in the booth and the waitress handed us menus was, “I’m not hungry.  I don’t get up until noon and eat on a different schedule.  But you have whatever you want.”

“Ok,” I shrugged.  After all, it was a coffee date, but I saw the waitress purse her lips.  I felt even worse for myself because I was starving.  “Well, I’m going to have a bowl of chicken noodle soup.”  I needed it for my soul.  He very graciously paid the $2.95 plus tax and tip for my soup, but I’m still not going to see him again because that was the only gracious thing he said or did in the one hour and fifteen minutes that our date lasted.

The previous week, a different date seemed insistent that we split an appetizer and an entrée.  How do you agree on what food to share with someone you barely know?  He should have picked a cheaper restaurant or skipped the appetizer.  We shouldn’t have had either one, because something violently parted company with my body in the middle of the night.  I also didn’t hear from him again, which was fine with me.  He doesn’t drink wine.  Which brings me to another point…

How many dates should I have with someone who doesn’t drink wine at all?  It’s not like they don’t consume alcohol.  They do, just not wine.  I’m pretty sure that The Veterinarian wants me to be happy, but I’m not sure he wants me to share his fine wine with someone who doesn’t appreciate it and is making moves on his widow.   Of course, it’s my wine now, so, who am I to complain?  Life is good (mostly).  Soli Deo Gloria!

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How I became a carb junkie

French Bliss

French Bliss

My name is Suzanne, and I’m a carb junkie.

Following a serious two month schedule of abdominal crunches that I found on Facebook, I read that you will never see your newly-toned abs, if you don’t get rid of the flab that covers them.  Well, duh!  Smack me upside the head!  Then, I saw the comedienne Rosanne Barr on The Talk explaining a device that tracks activity and realized that I needed to get off the couch, away from the internet and silly talk shows, and get moving.

Giving the internet a chance to redeem itself, I searched Google and Amazon for a similar tracking device, and, having no sit-com residuals to fuel my spending, I chose a cheap little device called a “Fitbit.”  Fitbit clips to a pocket or to my bra and not only tracks my steps and activity but also my eating habits.  Uh-oh.  I discovered that I consume too many carbohydrates.  A lifetime of comfort has caught up with me.

When I was a kid, I was a picky eater, so carbs were a safe choice, not too spicy, but filling, with rich, complex flavors primarily derived from sugar, fat, and salt.  When my high school friends snacked on apples from the apple machine, I enjoyed ice cream sandwiches and Tootsie Rolls from the school store.  By the grace of God and youth, I weighed about 95 pounds.  Ahhh…those were the days…

I craved potatoes fried in cast iron skillets or mashed with butter and whole milk or boiled and topped with melted butter; crispy hashed browns from the Nugget diner on Southfield Road; and, of course, any restaurant’s French fries. My Mother cooked real vegetables, made fresh salads, offered a variety of fresh fruit in season, but I wouldn’t touch them.  I was a meat-and-potatoes girl.

In my multi-cultural neighborhood in suburban Detroit, I could make a meal of  Italian bread with sesame seeds from Marino’s bakery on Allen Road, chrusciki (aka Angel Wings, powdered sugar-dusted, deep-fried Polish wisps of pastry) from Briggs’ Bakery on Park Avenue, or the Delray Baking Company’s Hungarian half-rye bread, which I ate toasted for breakfast.  My southern grandma made the best cornbread in her mother’s cast iron pans, which she also used for her thin, crispy-edged pancakes.  Her dumplings, rolled into thin, light strips and simmered in golden chicken broth or long-simmered pinto beans, remain unequaled.

In those days, carbs were delivered to your door.  Not only did milk, egg, and produce deliveries appear, but Awry’s bakery came twice a week, offering bread, rolls, cakes, and cookies.  Charles Chips and Q-Man (in the blue can) came weekly with chips, pretzels, and popcorn.

Thanks to The Joy of Cooking and Julia Child, I met pâté choux, formed into cheesy gougères and profiteroles, which, I was surprised to discover, I had eaten since childhood as Sanders’ “Hot Fudge Cream Puff.”   When I finally got to Europe, I stuffed myself with pains au chocolat, baguettes jambon beurre, crispy tapas, risotto reminiscent of my Italian granny’s, baklava, scones slathered with Devonshire cream, Yorkshire pudding with roast beef, and Scottish shortbread.  No truffles, foie gras, sweetbreads, or stinky cheese for me!

Closer to home I discovered jambalaya and pralines in New Orleans and tortillas, fry bread, and beans and rice in the Southwest and in Central and South America.  Elsewhere in my travels, when I felt stumped by a culture’s cuisine, there was always some version of rice, couscous, or naan or something breaded and fried.

A little turkey, a few Brussels sprouts, and a whole lotta carbs

A little turkey, a few Brussels sprouts, and a whole lotta carbs, including cornbread

Unfortunately, I passed my habits on to the Daughter, who reminded me that on “snow days,” I baked homemade bread and “Snow Cakes,” devil’s food cake baked in a sheet pan and topped with my buttercream frosting.  Oh, yes, and every Wednesday, on our way to her cello lesson, we stopped at Dairy Queen.  And, oh, yes, every Friday night, the Veterinarian picked her up from swim practice with a pizza.  Every holiday was carb-overload.  Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

So, here I am, six decades later, struggling to wipe carbs from my memory and my abs, following Julia Child’s advice, “Everything in moderation…including moderation.”  The other day, I persuaded the Daughter to give me a couple of her McDonald’s fries—ok, ok, I ate six—maybe eight, but not an entire order.   I accompanied My Mother to our local “authentic” Mexican restaurant and ordered the tacos de carne asada, grilled steak wrapped in corn tortillas.  I ate the steak and nibbled on the tortillas, but, how many carbs were in that 14-ounce Margarita?

Keep the kale and sprouts, juice cleanses, tofu, yogurt, and sashimi.  Give me the food of my life, the occasional pancake or cornbread from those same cast iron skillets, a slice of pizza or maybe pasta on a Sunday.  [You know that there aren’t any calories on Sundays and holidays, don’t you?]

Daily, I’ll keep myself carb-happy with one slice of whole wheat toast in the morning or a dry, toasted frozen waffle.  I’ll carefully measure croutons for my salads and count out a safe number of mini sesame bread sticks to munch with my six ounces of dry white wine or a handful of nuts instead of potato chips with my daily 64 ounces of water.  Sigh.  Homemade hot cocoa instead of chocolate soufflé.  Yummy.

While I’m not earning many “badges” for my vigorous exercise regimen, my Fitbit sends me cheerful memos when I’m “In the Zone” at the end of the day (meaning my “Calories Out” exceed my “Calories In”), and I’m slowly and happily, dropping the lbs.  It’s going to be a long trek to see my abs, but I’m on my way.  So, who am I to complain?  Life is good (mostly).  Soli Deo Gloria!

My Hot Cocoa

1 Tablespoon best quality cocoa (I use Pernigotti)

2 Tablespoons sugar or sweetener equivalent

Pinch of salt

2 Tablespoons + 6 ounces skim milk

Mix dry ingredients in large mug.  Slowly mix in two tablespoons of milk until smooth (a miniature whisk is great for this).  Microwave on high for one minute.  Stir out any lumps.  Slowly mix in remaining 6 ounces of milk, stirring until smooth.  Heat until warm, stirring occasionally.  If you don’t use a microwave, heat the milk first and add to the cocoa mix, but I’m just waaayyyy too lazy for that.