Walking

Sarah

You are probably familiar with Diana Nyad, the woman who swam from Havana, Cuba to Key West, Florida (110 mi) in 2013 at the age of 68.  Since that accomplishment Diana and her partner, Bonnie Stoll, have launched the exercise effort known as Ever Walk.  The goal of Ever Walk is to get Americans up and walking on a regular basis.  If you take the Ever Walk pledge, you commit to walking at least three times a week.   My cousin who completed the Appalachian Trail (almost 2000 miles) in 2017 after walking several segments for a number of years walked with Diana and a group in New England in September of this year.  Those who walked the entire route covered 132 miles in seven days (about 20 miles per day).  They walked from Boston to Cape Elizabeth, Maine.

You may have heard that “sitting is the new smoking”.  According to The Science of Exercise, which was published as a special Time edition, walking lowers your risk for disease, extends your life, makes you happier and keeps you limber longer.  The wonderful thing about walking is that it’s an activity that’s available to almost anyone; it’s free; it can be done solo or with a partner or group at most times of day and in most settings.  While walking you can pray, think, listen to music, an audio book or a pod cast or exercise your dog.–Or none of the previous.  You can simply enjoy the scenery , the sounds and your surroundings.

All you really need is a good pair of shoes and maybe some sun screen.–Let’s make the pledge and get out there.

 

 

 

 

Garden Update

Sarah

My garden got off to a slow start.  There was so much to tend to in my beds at home that I delayed planting my vegetables.  Because of the very hard freeze a couple of nights in Jan., my neighbors and I had an abundance of dead plants,  branches, leaves, fronds, etc. to cut back and remove.  Something I did or failed to do conspired to provide excellent growing conditions for WEEDS–literally thousands of them.  A layer of compost and the product Preen has helped to keep them down, but they are a persistent nuisance.

Bell pepper

Can you see those little peppers?

Tomato

Looking forward to cherry tomatoes.

I finally planted tomatoes and bell peppers.  Herbs fill the remainder of the space.  Those include parsley, oregano, thyme, cilantro and basil.  A pot of mint will be added.  My neighbor has had a very large vegetable garden for several years.  He has already harvested tomatoes, cucumbers, squash and onions.  He credits his success to “compost tea”which he concocts.  My garden boasts an incredible parsley plant, but how much parsley can one person eat?  I found a recipe for Parsley Pesto which I’m going to try.  It really calls for flat leaf parsley.  This is curly leaf; so we’ll see.

Parsley Pesto

2 c. parsley                                                                                                         2 T. toasted pine nuts

1 1/2 T. Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, shredded                               1 t. olive oil

1/4 t. salt

Combine all in food processor.

Joy–How to Achieve It

Sarah

The Book of Joy is a conversation between the Dalai Lama (Buddhist) who is exiled in India but continues to be the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people  and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (Christian) who lives in South Africa and was a crusader against apartheid and worked for justice and reconciliation in that country.  Both men are over 80.

Among other things the book enumerates eight pillars of joy.  Four are of the mind:  perspective, humility, humor and acceptance, and four are of the heart:  forgiveness, gratitude, compassion and generosity.  At the end of the book are a list of joy practices.  A couple of practices that I find helpful are (1) stating my intention for the day and (2) recalling three things for which I’m grateful every day.

Stating my intention for the day does’t mean listing my chores, errands and appointments for that day.  It could be something like, “Today is will I will be listen and engage  with every person I encounter.” Or “Today I will treat everyone with kindness and genuine interest”.  “Today I will be less judgmental and critical”.–You can see what I need help with!

At the end of the day it’s helpful to think of at least three things for which you’re thankful.  Those things could include a conversation you had, a meal you enjoyed, a sunset you witnessed, a book you read.  The list is endless.

Both the Dalai Lama and the Archbishop agree that the joy killer is “self regard”.  Focus on self, self interest, selfishness, self promotion,  me,me,me attitude is counterproductive.  Attaining, achieving, acquiring as a means of finding joy is pointless and ultimately leaves us feeling empty.

A quote from the book at the end of their time together tells us, “the more we turn away from our self-regard to wipe away the tears from the eyes of another, the more–incredibly–we are able to bear, to heal and to transcend our own suffering.  This was their true secret to joy.”

 

Almost a Full Time Job

Sarah

This blog is titled Women Approaching the Age of 70.  You may have surmised that by now I have attained that age.  Now that I’m over 70 I find that a large part of my time is spent trying to maintain my physical well being.  I walk two or three miles six days a week.  I participate in a yoga class twice a week and plan to join water aerobics again this summer.  I take calcium and vitamin D twice a day along with a multi-vitamin and ester-C.  To support a strong immune system I have a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (ACV) every morning in a glass of tomato juice.   I drink five cups of coffee every day to ward off dementia. To avoid macular degeneration I take something called Macuguard and wear sunglasses.  I garden quite a bit but work only in the shade.  I haven’t eaten beef in several years.  White potatoes, flour and sugar have been virtually eliminated from my diet.  Carbonated drinks are off limits.  I avoid all fried foods.

Of course I color my hair.  I’m also having a series of three Skin Pen treatments to encourage collagen production in my face.  I just had the second treatment.  I look like a lobster!  I use retin-A religiously and just bought a new tube of sun screen.  I’m blessed with good teeth, but flossing and teeth whitener are mandatory.

I’m very careful about leaving an object in my path since a friend tripped over something in the dark and broke her elbow.  I still clean out my gutters but exercise caution on the ladder.   I have four pairs of readers stashed in my car, home and office.   I should have taken a pair into the nursery.  I thought I was buying a red bell pepper plant.  I later discovered (when I read the small tag) that it’s a mild jalapeno.  At that same time I accidentally (because I couldn’t see) took home a beef steak tomato when I wanted a cherry tomato.  Oh, boy!

As I said, this maintenance routine is almost a full time job.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vegetable Gardening

Sarah

Last September I leased a 10 x 10 garden plot.  I’ve done quite a bit of gardening, but I’ve never grown vegetables because I have very little sun in my yard.  My friend and I attempted to grow seeds in those tiny “plantable” containers.  I had them on a table on my patio.  Some had begun to sprout.  Unfortunately we had a torrential rain which poured off my roof onto the table (and seedlings) and washed most of them away.  A disaster!  Next we bought plants at a feed store.  I bought lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, radicchio, kale and several herbs (thyme, oregano, parsley, cilantro and mint).  I also tried planting seeds directly into the soil because I couldn’t find the plants.  With the help of my sisters we planted everything except the mint which we left in a pot.  Like all of my gardening efforts I’ve met with some success and several failures.  The spinach seeds did not come up.  Some critter ate the kale.  The carrots and beets should have been thinned.  (Next time.)  I had too much lettuce.  How much lettuce can a person eat?  The greatest success has been with the herbs and radicchio which isn’t a vegetable that’s on everyone’s list of favorites.  I’ve harvested some broccoli and several heads of radicchio, and yesterday I pulled up three beets.  I’m hoping to get some cabbage.  We’ll see.

When the fall/winter garden disappears, I have several packets of poppy and larkspur seeds to scatter.  I’m looking forward to enjoying a showy plot before it’s time to shop for summer vegetables.

beets

 

2017 Resolutions

Sarahcamellia-2

Does everyone think of things they would like to do differently in the new year?  The beginning of another year does have the feeling of a fresh start and making positive changes.  Here’s my list:

1.  Practice yoga every day.  I received the book, Yoga As Medicine, for        Christmas which led me to this resolve.  Walking a couple of miles daily has become a habit for me.  Even though I’ve been attending a yoga class twice a week, I’d like the practice of yoga to become a daily habit as well.

2.  Always have fresh flowers in my home.  During the holiday season I’ve had poinsettias, amaryllis and a Christmas cactus which I received last year.  It survived to bloom again!  I also cut camellia blossoms out of my yard.–I tried to find those with long stems.  Also, throw the flowers out when they’ve wilted.  Nothing more depressing than sad flowers and stinky water.  Let me replace those camellias right now!

3.  Live a little more elegantly.  I have beautiful crystal, silver and dishes.  What am I saving it for?  Presentation, even for myself, is important.

4.  Have cosmetic eyelid surgery.  My eyelids are drooping!  Is there a stronger word?  Sagging?  Over hanging?

5.  Share my home with more friends more often.  I enjoy visiting in a small groups.  This means I need to keep certain things on hand:  soft drinks, beer, wine, cheese, crackers, etc.  (I’ll try not to eat and drink it all.)

6.  Post to this blog regularly.  I did a poor job of that in 2016, but I resolve to do better.  I’ve already thought of the next topic.

Wow! 2017 is going to be a very good year.  I’m looking forward to it.

 

 

Freelance Writing

Sarah

I have recently met a young woman (40?) who is a freelance writer.  I think that’s sort of intriguing.  I began to think about trying my hand at freelancing.  It seems that non-fiction is much more likely to be published.  I immediately found a magazine that solicits articles from amateur gardeners.  Hmmm, I really enjoy gardening, and I could certainly write about what not to do in the garden, but I don’t know that I’m really knowledgeable enough to write a “profile of a single plant species or cultivar, including a personal perspective on why it’s a favored plant.”  (600 words).

The other two subjects that I know about are cooking and cats;  however, it seems that most women don’t cook, and those who do, turn to the internet for recipes and culinary advice.   That leaves cats.

I don’t know if dog lovers or cat lovers dominate in pet preference, but there are a lot of cat people out there.  I have three:  Isabella, Oliver and Stella.  Oliver and Stella team up to capture all sorts of creatures.  Today they brought a long, green-striped snake into the dining room through their cat door.  It may be the same snake they’ve caught twice before.  If so, he’s survived and seems to have grown longer.  I managed to sweep him into a bucket before he slithered under the low (and heavy) hutch where they were taunting him.  I then released him in the neighbor’s flower bed and sternly warned him to stay there.  He could easily be snared again if he returns.

Happy New Year

Sarah

It’s resolution time again.  I’ve been thinking about my resolutions for 2016.  I resolve to post something in this blog every week!  Our categories include exercise, fashion, food & drink, gardening, life long learning, mental/spiritual and aesthetics.

For some reason I’m interested in fashion as the new year begins.  I’ve recently purged my closet, determined to remove items that I haven’t worn because they are no longer becoming (sleeveless), out of style or too worn and tired looking.   I also got rid of several pairs of shoes that were uncomfortable or dated (huge cork wedges which I loved).  One of our original goals was to buy fewer clothes but better clothes and to wear only becoming colors.  (See post titled Living Well.)   I guess I can resolve again to follow that advice.

I’ve recently read that we are wise to base our wardrobes on one dark neutral color:  black, navy, brown, charcoal, deep olive, taupe.  A good neutral isn’t trendy, complements your hair and skin and looks great with other colors you like to wear. Black is the most commonly chosen basic color.  It’s easy to find, goes with just about any other color, is slimming, conceals dirt and is a great backdrop for jewelry.  According to Leah Feldon, author of Does This Make Me Look Fat?, if you’re looking for an easy to manage wardrobe scheme, pick a darkish neutral or two that you like and that suit your skin tone and build your wardrobe around them.   You may have done this without realizing it.  What’s the dominant color in your closet? Personally I’m always torn between black and brown.  I wear almost all the dark neutrals though not much navy.  Of course, some seasons some colors are hard to find, but the search could be worth it.  Besides we’re shopping for classic pieces that can be worn for years.–I’m inspired!– Let’s go shopping.

 

 

Cat Antics

Thanks, Stella!

Thanks, Stella!

Sarah

Some of us are dog lovers, and some of us are cat lovers.  I like dogs, but I’d rather live with cats.  Since adulthood I’ve had several cats:  Louisa, Mathias, Tomas, Miranda and currently Isabella, Oliver and Stella.  Isabella is a sort of a dusty yellow with gold eyes.  She’s very independent–doesn’t like to be picked up or held.  Olivier is a black and white tuxedo cat whose muddy paw prints I find everywhere.  Stella is slim, brindled/gray girl and very friendly.  She and Oliver are good friends.

There are advantages and disadvantages to owning a cat.  They are wonderful hunters.  I think it was the Egyptians who valued cats for protecting their grain from mice and rats.  I’ve read that the well fed cat is the best hunter.  He (she)’s able to be more patient.  Cats discourage snakes.  The cat finds a snake highly entertaining much to the snake’s displeasure.

My cats are able to come and go as they please through a cat door.  It’s very convenient for me and for them; however, over the years I’ve had lots of unwanted critters in my house–live prey brought in by the brave hunters:  two snakes, birds, a bat, several moles, a rat (dead), a couple of crawdads, numerous frogs, toads and lizards.  Yesterday I returned home to find Stella batting at something under the grandfather clock in the dining room.  It turned out to be a half grown squirrel!  I don’t know how the live squirrel got in the house.  She may have chased it in the cat door!  I had gardening gloves and a pillow case ready, but fortunately my neighbor arrived, donned heavy gloves, reached under the clock, grabbed the squirrel and deposited him in a small cage.  The squirrel was unharmed in spite of his ordeal–and mine.

 

 

Great Gifts

Gifts

Great Gifts

Sarah

This was a wonderful Christmas season for me which culminated with a visit to Susan’s home in Austin on Christmas Day where we began the festivities with raw oysters and champagne provided and served by her son and son-in-law.  Gift exchange around the Christmas tree followed.

As one approaches (or has attained) the age of 70, consumable gifts are often the most desirable, and I again received lots of those gifts this year:  a box of grapefruit from Pittman and Davis, pecans from San Saba, Texas and Georgia, homemade jalapeno jelly, tomato jam and pickled okra and several bottles of wine.   I also got some sweets which I really tried to share with others.–Too tempting to have in the house!  I ordered coffee, dark chocolate and almonds from Equal Exchange which is a Fair Trade worker-owned co-op which distributes a variety of organic products produced by farmers in Africa, Asia and Latin America.  I think they also offer tea and cocoa.  I sent grapefruit and oranges to family members as well.–Have you noticed that we give things we like to receive?

In case you’re wondering what I’m doing with all those pecans I got, I found this recipe.  The result is even more tempting than sweets for me!–I’d better give them away.

Toasted Pecans from Cotton Country

12 cups pecan halves

1 stick butter

Salt

Place pecans in a 17 x 12 inch pan in a 300 degree oven.  Toast 30 minutes to dry; then add 1 stick butter, sliced.  Let pecans get completely greasy, stirring once or twice.  After pecans and butter have mixed well, sprinkle with salt generously and stir very often sprinkling with salt each time as all the salt does not stick to the pecans.  Toast pecans one hour or more to desired taste and until butter has been absorbed.