The “Victory Over Coronavirus” Garden

When it seemed like the coronavirus was really going to hit us badly and stretch into spring and maybe even summer, I figured I’d need to get into “homesteading” mode. I always do a vegetable garden, but I usually buy plants instead of starting from seed. Will there be plants to buy this year? Who knows?  Let’s get seedy!

I collected all the seed packets from around the house. Some were in the garage. Some were in the laundry room cupboard. A few were in the basement. Yet more were tucked in the drawer where we keep the dog’s things (brushes, harnesses, heartworm meds etc.).

Altogether, it was a motley collection:

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All my seeds

Lots of lettuces. Lots of peas. Lots of beets. A few tomatoes, cukes, herbs and other goodies.

“Not bad!” I thought. I found some seed starter plastic thingies to start the seeds indoors and got started planting. Then I noticed something:

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Old much?

How long are seeds good for? Centuries, under the right conditions, I imagine. I mean, there are seed banks that store seeds in case of an apocalypse, right? I figured I’d draw the line at 10 years – anything older probably would not be worth planting.

Next I ordered some seeds I didn’t have – tomatoes, squashes and peppers. When those arrived (and it took a while) I popped them all into some seed starter soil and set them to incubate on the radiator.

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Homemade seed germinating system

I despaired that they didn’t seem to be doing anything. Each day I’d water as needed and scrutinize the soil for signs of life. Then one day:

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Hello tiny plants

You can’t imagine how happy I was to see these tiny specks of green.

Shortly after they all started coming. Once the seeds sprout I put them in a sunny window during the day to catch the light and warmth, rotating the tray so the plants don’t stretch too much in any one direction.

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Stretching for the sun

It’s fun to watch the cucumbers especially (they’re the biggest of the lot in the picture above). They really move to capture the most light as the earth rotates around the sun.

From all the old seeds I had two duds – spinach and basil. I’ll have to see if I can get some fresh seeds the next time I brave the grocery store.

Outside, I started the peas. My neighbor, who has the greenest thumb I ever saw, insists that peas are planted on St. Patrick’s Day. I didn’t quite do it that early, but I still got them in the ground on the first warm day.

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Peas – all wrinkly and ready for action

They still have not sprouted. I don’t know if they’re duds or if it hasn’t been warm enough (I strongly suspect the latter). I want to brave a peek at my neighbor’s garden to see if she’s had more success, but I am too chicken. I will try with another packet if I don’t see action soon. I also will start the lettuces and squash directly outside once the last danger of frost has passed, whenever that is.

Too Much Time on Your Hands? Ha!

I have now been self-isolating for 25 days. As the days have worn on – and as the virus has ravaged New York and other parts of the United States and the rest of the world – I have been trying (and partly failing) to Keep Calm and Carry On, as the British say.

It’s hard to concentrate at work. I have been giving myself something to look forward to at the end of every work day as a bit of a reward. One day I took an online Pilates class. Another day I tidied up the perennial beds. At some point, I dug out the yogurt maker and cooked up a batch:

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Homemade yogurt – not worth the effort, but a way to kill time

We ran out of bread, so why not bake some?

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Multigrain bread – tasty!

This recipe from Cook’s Illustrated was excellent. You use a multigrain hot cereal mix as a starter. We ate the last of it this morning in French toast – divine!

Then I got cocky and tried to make hamburger buns:

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Hamburger buns – not rocks – honest

They came out like hockey pucks – edible but dry and misshapen and dense. At least the toasted sesame seeds were tasty.

I’m not one to be defeated, so let’s play around with the Instant Pot! I tried making a turkey barley soup.

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Barley-palooza

I misread the recipe and put a pound of barley into the pot instead of a cup of barley. It swelled up every drop of turkey stock and affected a risotto-like texture. So why not call it “bar-zotto” and eat it with some grated Parmesan? It wasn’t half bad. There’s still plenty left if you’re peckish.

The sun came out – time to hit the garden. For years, I have been meaning to relocate some blueberry plants to encourage better cross-pollination and protection from berry-thieving birds (if the plants are grouped tightly, one piece of bird netting should cover the lot). So I dug up some plants and moved them, replanting with a good dose of fertilizer for acid-loving plants.

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New home for blueberries

There is so little traffic and noise in my neighborhood – we live on a normally busy street – that I can clearly hear all the spring birdsong. In an hour or so I counted 18 species, a few by call alone.

My house is old, with the ghosts of gardens all over the place – a wisteria vine here, a decaying stump there. In the middle of the lawn, this blue-striped quill appeared, ready to delight anyone who came across it:

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Squill making an appearance

Every night after dinner I sew 10-15 cloth face masks. My nurse friends take some to work, while others have been given to relatives, neighbors and friends.

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More masks

Finally on Friday I had to go to the supermarket. There’s only so much barzotto and hardtack a gal can eat, amirite?

The trip took 2 1/2 hours and cost me $330. I wore a mask, gloves and a hat. When I got home, I stripped to my undies in the laundry room and threw everything – including my sneakers – into the washing machine to scrub on the “sanitary” cycle.

The market was out of all kinds of weird things – no salt, no Romaine lettuce, no flour or cinnamon, no chicken breasts, no macaroni and cheese mixes, no 1% milk, no cleaning supplies of any kind, except for some feeble-looking “all natural” stuff that might be a bit better than vinegar or lemon juice.

I figured I might as well live it up – I bought a rack of lamb, a kosher chicken, an organic pork loin – all the cheaper cuts were sold out. I bought a $5 jar of applesauce and four funky-looking oranges called “Sumo” for $1.50 apiece. A big bag of Costa Rican coffee. A bag of frozen wild-caught shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico. Organic onions and potatoes and milk.

Americans have been hoarding toilet paper. We are not guilty of this (we conserved – as a child, my grandmother admonished me that “a lady only uses four squares.”) Still, we were down to our last two rolls. The store limited each shopper to one 12-roll bundle. I felt lucky to get it.

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In the diary aisle by the display of creams, a man was arguing with someone on the phone. “They don’t have quarts of heavy cream! They only have pints of heavy cream! I looked and looked and that’s all there is!” This went on for a minute, while he shouted  all the various creams and quantities available into the phone. I stood by  (six feet away, natch), waiting for reason to arrive on the scene. Finally I suggested that he buy TWO PINTS of heavy cream, as each is 16 ounces and a quart is 32 ounces. He looked at me like I was crazy for 10 seconds. Then his face lit up like I was an angel from heaven. I never have received such fulsome gratitude in my life. He grabbed two pints and bolted for the checkout.

My good deed done for the day, I approached the display and took a pint of half and half. Upon returning home, I realized I grabbed the fat-free shit instead of the real thing. Bah!

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No good deed goes unpunished

 

Quilting for Healing and Power

I haven’t made a quilt in years – about 15 years to be exact – when I made a baby quilt for my newborn niece. I had moved on long ago to home dec and then to apparel sewing, but every so often I would look through my quilting cotton stash and grow wistful at its possibilities.

That feeling grew stronger last week when I sewed up some stash to make masks for nurse friends of mine. I felt the pull to quilt again – partly to commemorate these homebody Covid-19 days, and partly to keep my hands busy, and partly because I had something to say in the fabric and colors and lines.

I heard about a Quilt-a-Long of this pattern by Denyse Schmidt, a quilt designer who lives nearby. I had bought this pattern years ago during a studio open house. While I loved it, the color choices and bias-cut edges daunted me. I thought, however, that with help I could do it.

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The quilt includes an alphabet of block letters done in a slightly rustic style. The letters are cleverly constructed to nest together with design options for the positive and negative space. And while some letters are quite complex, each piece is numbered so that it’s easy to sew them together, step by step.

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Letter T is an easy one
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The D is pretty complex – pieces D2, D5 and D6 are the negative space

So I had my pattern. But what to say? I thought of one friend who had started me on quilting more than 20 years ago but cannot sew any longer because of illness. I thought of another friend who I’d made a quilt for back when I had been a raw beginner – she lost that quilt and her other possessions in a fire last year. I had sewn pussyhats for them to wear to the 2016 Women’s March. I wanted to make them something else. Finally, I thought of my sister, who I also made a hat for and have marched with a few times.

So I hit on this idea:

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My quilt message and color scheme

The entire quote is “Nevertheless, she persisted.” The vile Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell uttered this sentence while moving to silence Senator Elizabeth Warren during a debate on the Senate floor. It became an instant rallying cry for women everywhere who are told to stay silent, be obedient, and defer to the patriarchy. (For the whole story see this excellent Washington Post article.)

The whole phrase would be a lot to quilt – the thing would be over 10 feet long – but the simple verb says it all anyway.

I designed this as four quilts that can be tied together to form the whole or used individually as wall hangings or other decoration. Each word uses lettering in one color and negative space in the color wheel’s opposite side to symbolize struggle and opposition. I don’t know yet if the background will be black or white – it’s more graphic in black, but I don’t think I have enough fabric in stash and I am using all stash materials to be sustainable. I’ll decide that later. In any event, the binding will be in the opposite color of the background.

I had plenty of fabric to choose from, for most colors:

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Stash – stash – stash – stash

I needed four fabrics for each of the eight colors. I didn’t have much orange or pink, but I have enough to go on with some creative use of “near enough” colors.

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Selected fabrics

The long piece at the bottom has elements of all the colors in it, so I will use it in all the letters as a way to tie them together.

The fabrics are mostly quilting cottons, some with metallic designs, but I am using some scraps of apparel fabrics too.

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The reds include silk and ultrasuede from jackets I’ve made, as well as red and gold cotton leftover from a Christmas project and some upholstery fabric in a dragonfly motif. The greens include some Irish linen scraps.

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I am using coral to fudge the oranges a bit. I also have some African Dutch wax with lilac and gold motifs. The blues include seersucker leftover from a bathrobe project from 20 years ago and velvet leftover from my husband’s smoking jacket.

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Yellows include some gold linen from a pair of pants, batik sunflowers from a quilt I made for my cousin’s wedding, and sunflowers from a vest I made my mother years ago. The purples include more leftover Christmas fabric and some brocade from a Halloween costume for my niece.

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Because I am using green opposite of red, I needed a grassy yellow-green to go opposite the pink. Some of this fabric is leftover from a quilt I made my nephew. The pinks include a red seersucker that reads pink.

In truth, the quilt is going to be kind of ugly – I mean, this is a metric fuckton of colors, textures and styles for one quilt. But that’s also the beauty of it. My friends, sister and I are all different people, after all, united in some things but with plenty of individuality.

Face Mask Couture

I don’t know whether Fendi was prescient or callous, but suddenly a face mask is everyone’s must-have accessory to cope with COVID-19.

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Fendi – brilliant and stupid

I made 12 myself this week, for nurse friends who have to work during this crisis. A homemade mask is quite literally better than nothing, as we in the United States can’t seem to get a supply chain of medical supplies going.

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Face masks – Samizdat style

I used closely woven quilting cotton for these, following a pattern demoed by Deaconess Health. I only had enough elastic on hand to make 12, and some of that is lingerie elastic, so those masks are sexy AF.

The quilting cottons were left over from quilt projects I did 15 to 20 years ago. A table runner for my great-aunt. Baby quilts for nieces and nephews (who are ages 14 to 20 now). A wall hanging quilt gift for a friend’s wedding. It was bittersweet sewing these up. I’d help on to that fabric in hopes of making more quilts someday for the next generation. Maybe the fabric will save someone’s life instead, or at least put their minds at ease a bit during this crisis.

Coronavirus Couture and Other Projects

So much for my “Sew Edgy Work Wardrobe” plans for spring and summer. For who knows how long, I will be working from home, like a lot of people who are fortunate enough to be able to.

The #1 rule of working from home for me is to have something to look forward to after the workday is done. For me, that means creative outlets like sewing, gardening and cooking.

My “home” wardrobe is much more normcore than my work wardrobe. Plus I was in the mood for spring colors and textues. First up was this top from Butterick 6388.

It’s a bit boxier and roomier than the technical drawings and pattern pictures would lead you to believe. I ended up taking in the arm and side seams about 1/2 inch, and I made 3/4 sleeves for a more springtime look. I also did the triangular side panels and back yoke on the crossgrain to add some interest.

The fabric was from FabScrap, a charity in New York’s Garment District that sells scraps from fashion houses, schools, stores, tailor and upholstery shops etc. This scant 1.5-yard piece of very soft and comfy mystery poly knit cost $7.50. Sustainable to boot!

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The Fabulous Fab Scrap sign

Since I had white thread in the serger, next up was a basic white T-shirt. Boring, ok, but likely a wardrobe staple I will wear for years.

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Deer & Doe Plantain

I wanted to try the Deer & Doe Plantain t-shirt again. The one I made several years ago did not get much wear because the shirt was a little tight and the fabric didn’t have enough stretch. This time I sized up and used some really soft and lovely T-shirt fabric I got from the Portsmouth Fabric Company in New Hampshire while I was visiting my mom in January.

Unforch, this is a still bit tight. Grr. Maybe it will stretch out. Here’s hoping!

It should take no time at all to make a basic tee, right? So why does it take me forever? Faff about with the serger. Break a needle. Replace the needle. Untangle a nest of thread. Cut some clear elastic for the shoulder seams. Lose one piece of elastic. Hunt about on the floor for 10 minutes. Give up and cut a new piece of elastic. Then find the old piece, exactly where I left it in the first place:

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Where are you, clear elastic?

The coverstitch hem is still a bit wonky. Whatever.

Third up will be … drumroll… a white cardigan. Hey – the white thread is in the serger. That’s saving me like 15-20 minutes right off the bat.

I got some slubbed French terry last summer and earmarked it for a try at the Helen’s Closet Blackwood Cardigan. Once that’s done, I will be ready for some color!

When Your Sewing Project Is a Lemon…

Throw it in the trash!

Well, that’s almost what happened. Here’s the story:

I worked four hours yesterday trying to fix a baggy-knee issue with my second pair of Workroom Social Claryville Jeans. As you may recall, here’s the prob:

IMG_20200217_181725.jpg I got advice to try some darts in the knee area, so I dutifully put the jeans on, pinched out the baggy back-knee area, and sewed some darts. I had no idea that knee darts in jeans were A Thing – thanks for the reassurance!

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Knee dart

The darts were pretty big – at their widest point, it was about a half-inch of fabric, tapering to nothing at the side seams. It worked, sort of.

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Knee dart – take one

But… the darts created a problem in the front. I didn’t get a photo of this, but rest assured it was not pretty. I am perfectly OK with some wrinkles at the knees but it was so much worse with the back fixed. So then I added darts to the front. And then I had to unpick the side seams and resew them again. And it still looked like crap.

Then followed a danse macabre where I went back and forth from my sewing machine to the mirror to the cutting table to the sewing machine to the mirror… in my underwear, trying one alteration after another in desperation.

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Danse macabre – sewing edition

I was making these jeans as a dressy pair that I could get away with wearing to work or any place else where jeans would not normally be a thing. And I realized that was the problem. This fabric is not a jeans denim. It’s a stretch twill – too light to work with the pattern as cut. And as I stood there glaring at it, I realized I kinda hated it. It’s shiny. It’s too stretchy. It looks cheap.

So I threw it in the garbage.

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Good riddance!

And then, in the fullness of time (that is. this morning) I realized…

I could make shorts out of the damn things! Jesus! Just cut it off at the knee and get on with your life, gurl.

So that’s the plan. Once the weather warms up and I actually want shorts.

Baggy Knee Blues

My second pair of Claryville jeans has run into a problem. Behold:

Baggy Knee front view
Baggy Knee back view

The knees on the first pair sewn with heavy stretch denim were a little baggy but not bad. This is a lot worse, especially from the back. This time I’m using a lighter black stretch twill. Isn’t it amazing how a different fabric can totally change the fit of a pattern?

Normally with a close-fitting pattern I don’t sweat the fit too much as the pants will conform to my shape with wear. But this back knee bagginess is too much.

The solution to fix this normally happens at the flat pattern stage. You can add a Y-shaped slash-and-spread remedy to the back calf easily.

Once the fabric is cut though, there’s not much you can do.

I tried letting out the side seams a bit (this jeans pattern has generous 3/4 inch seam allowances). That didn’t help much.

Then I read that I could gain some real estate by just giving the back pattern pieces more room, so I tried staggering the seam.

I drew a 1 cm line in from the sides of the top pieces then sewed with a 5/8 seam allowance, so that the back pieces got more room. This also didn’t help much.

Luckily I basted all these efforts so it was easy to unpick anyway.

I emailed the pattern maker for advice. She got back to me with a suggestion just to pinch out the excess, and if the jeans were still comfortable, sew a dart to take it up.

So I need to try that. Anyone have other ideas?

Me-Made February and Plans for March

I have now worn or used at least one handmade item per day for two months straight. Yes, February is a short month, but all the same, I worked it out.

To mix things up a bit, I started February with plans to wear things that didn’t get worn in January but were still seasonably appropriate. A few things didn’t get worn because I didn’t get around to it, and other things didn’t get worn because I don’t like them. Turns out, once I psych myself up to wear a garment I don’t love much, I can get into it.

Here I am leaving the house in the Butterick 6244 coat I made out of an old Hudson’s Bay blanket, carrying a tote bag from Burda 2562.

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This coat doesn’t work well for a few reasons. It’s pretty heavy but unlined and itchy. It has no front closure, so it tends to flap open in the breeze – not what I normally look for in a coat. The day was fairly mild, so I figured I’d wear it to walk to the hair salon – about 25 minutes each way. It made a statement as I swanned through the neighborhood and on the salon coat rack.

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One of these coats is not like the others…

I had not used this awkward and poorly made red ultrasuede bag for so long that inside I found a packet of sunflower seeds I bought a couple of springs ago.

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My bag has a second life as a forgotten seed repository

Now that THAT’s out of the way, I can say that I will refashion the blanket into a better coat. I love the fabric – it’s a classic coat – but it deserves a way better pattern. The bag went back into the closet for those times when I really need a red ultrasuede tote. So, basically, never.

I also had a goal in February to wear handmade clothes head to toe at least once a week. Here are a couple of favorite looks from the month:

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This is the Jalie drop-pocket cardigan, Claryville Jeans from Workroom Social, and top from Simplicity 1202.

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And at the office

The office look includes the Maria Denmark day-to-night draped top, the Muse Jenna Cardigan, and the skirt from Vogue 1312. I also wore my coat from Vogue 1276 (not pictured).

Me me-made March will (I hope) see the use of some springtime garments into rotation.

A friend from work saw this mug and just had to buy it for me as a thank-you for helping her with something:

IMG_20200224_082058Sweet, right?

So, the wearing went well, but the sewing went poorly in February. I didn’t do much. I have lost a few pounds and find myself unwilling to deal with the whole fitting thing. That is, I started on another pair of jeans but ran into a fitting issue. Still trying to resolve that (more to come).

Instead of sewing, I did something I never do, which is to buy a bunch of things. I really am not the type to buy many patterns or fabric on spec, but I went a little nuts in February.

My local fabric store, Banksville Designer Fabric, got a new owner at the start of the year so I dropped in to say hi. I needed some good-quality linings and also picked up a few fabrics for spring:

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Summer here we come!

I also binged on some patterns. I’d had my eye on this Issey Miyake pattern for a couple of years, but the resale price has been $25 to $35. When a relatively cheap one ($15) appeared on eBay, I had to get it:

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Love the jacket and pants. Very fitting with my office sew-edgy look.

Then for some reason I bought all these too:

They were on sale. That’s my excuse. There is zero chance I will make these anytime soon. Oh well.

Ten-Year Anniversary of My Fattest Day

Ten years ago yesterday, I weighed myself and cried. I was 190 pounds. The heaviest I’d been in my life. I resolved that day to lose the weight, and I did. I have kept much of it off. But today, on this anniversary, I realize I need to try anew to get me through the next 10 years and beyond.

I don’t have any pictures of me from that day (like many overweight people, I avoided having my picture taken at all costs), but this picture was taken a few weeks before, because I got a new (not very flattering) haircut.

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Fat me – January 2010

I have a vivid memory of that red sweater. It was long – past hip length – and I wore it often because I thought it was flattering and because it covered my tummy and butt. I tend to carry most of my weight as a pear-shape below the waist, so this picture doesn’t get the full picture, but it will have to do.

I can’t remember if there was any one thing that got me on to the scale that day. Many people who recover from addictions or turn around unhealthy lifestyles say they had a “rock bottom” moment – that lowest-of-the-low moment when they knew they could not go on as they had been. When they knew they had to change or die. I don’t recall any :rock bottom”  it was more like I was walking barefoot along a bed of pebbles – minor hurts instead of a big pain – but hurts nonetheless.

I joined Weight Watchers, started a blog, and wrote this:

“I wasted my beauty on food.”

shoes15 (diane) on 2/17/2010 10:44 AM | COMMENTS (0)

I am a lifetime member who is back again after a hiatus as reckless as a two-thumb texter driving 100 miles per hour. I weigh 190 pounds – nearly obese and totally disgusted with myself.

Anger motivates me today, but I hope this blog and my new WW attempt will turn that around into optimism. I have to try – the obese alternative stares at me from the corner, licking its lips.

To put it simply, I hate dieting, but I also hate my destructive habits with food. I simply cannot get control of myself, and I am so **** sick of it. I quit WW in disgust in 2008 after about two years of back and forth – 178 pounds, 177 pounds, 179 pounds, 180 pounds, 178 pounds, 181 pounds… I plateaued at around 180, so I thought if I could just maintain 180, I’d be OK until I was motivated to drop more. After a while, outfitted in 14s from Liz Claiborne and Chico’s, I got comfortable with it.

This winter, I clambered up from that plateau and hit 190. Those 14s pinch at the thighs and fall short of the wrist. Even my winter coat doesn’t fit right anymore. I look in the mirror, and I do not recognize myself. I will be 40 in April. I’m one of those gals about whom people used to say “She’d be so pretty is she only lost some weight.” Those days are long gone. I wasted my beauty on food. Today, I’d settle for healthy.

I am trying yet again. So much about the WW experience rings as pure cornball to me, but I do like the saying “Winners are losers who gave it one more try.” I know I can do it – I was down to 135 on WW in college – I just need the motivation and energy. And I need to be good to myself. I need to give myself permission to misstep – to succeed and to fail – while keeping the goal in mind at all times.

You may think that my negative state of mind will hurt my chances to succeed, and you may be right, but what I really need right now is honesty. I am starting this blog to be honest with myself and to give myself an outlet for all my frustrations and triumphs.

Thanks to WW for setting up this feature, and thanks to you for reading it.

Looking back on it, that’s a pretty florid write-up of my state of mind. I put the “self” in “self-loathing.” But I totally recognize the woman who wrote this, because she’s always been with me and lately has been making her sad “self” ever more present in my day-to-day life.

Today I weighed myself at 163. That’s halfway between what I weighed at my heaviest and at my lightest as an adult. I don’t want to get back to the 135 I weighed in college (I mean, I would take it if I could snap my fingers and make it happen, but I know it’s too much work).

Here’s what I looked like at my goal weight of 145 pounds in July 2013 (in a designer dress from Narcisco Rodriguez):

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Thin me – July 2013

Yes, it took me more two and a half years to lose 45 pounds. I actually lost the first 40 in about 18 months. The stubborn 5 pounds at the end took forever to disappear, and they reappeared pretty fast. So, 145 is too hard to maintain. I can do 150. So that’s my goal. The plan is to lose about a pound a week:

  • 4 pounds in February
  • 4 pounds in March
  • 4 pounds in April
  • 2 pounds in May (vacation will be tough so cutting myself some slack)
  • 4 pounds in June

It’s important to write down your goals, or it’s easy to just go from one day to the next without really taking the steps you need to get what you want. So now I have written it down. It. Is. Written.

 

Another Job for the Distaff Side!

Want to feel like a kid again?

Here’s a pro tip from me to you: Spending more time with your parents will make you feel older, not younger.

My mother is recovering from knee replacement surgery, so I took a few days to help her out – shopping, getting meals, cleaning, keeping her company, that kind of thing.

Definitely a job for the distaff side!

Each day began by observing the neighborhood squirrels at the feeder.

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My dad’s favorite squirrel

My parents don’t like to keep a lot of food in the house for some reason. They prefer to go to the grocery store every day. Here’s a typical haul – some Boursin-stuffed chicken breasts and other fixings for dinner, blueberries to make muffins for breakfast the next day, and – via last-minute text request – a giant bag of Cheetos.

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Food for the ‘rents

I found myself eating dinner at 5 p.m. My mother was very taken with my “recipe” for green beans:

  • Buy a bag of pre-trimmed green beans
  • Steam in the microwave for 4-5 minutes
  • Drain
  • Toss with salt, pepper, olive oil and juice from half a lemon

Although she told me that I shouldn’t cook with any salt from then on. There’s absolutely no real health reason for the fatwa on salt – my mother just thinks it’s unhealthy.

After dinner, we had a rousing game of Scrabble while a John Wayne movie played on TV.

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Scrabble excitement

I thought I would make use of the time by working on some sewing projects. One day I combined a trip to the fish market with a shopping trip for sewing supplies.

“You were gone a while,” my mother said when I returned.

“Sorry – did you need me?” I said.

“No, I just wondered where you went.”

I was gone maybe 90 minutes. Gee, why don’t I feel like I am 16 again?

It was fun to set up my machine on my grandmother’s old sewing table.

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New machine, old sewing table

The dining room has plenty of space for this, but it was a disruption in the flow of things. My parents’ cats gave me dirty looks. My dad kept reminding me to unplug the iron. I didn’t get much done and had to drop out of the Refashion Runway competition. I couldn’t find much to refashion anyway – the theme was “fake fur” and people need that stuff at this time of year. Oh well.

My parents live in New Hampshire, so I took off for about an hour one day to hear Bernie Sanders speak:

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That tiny old man at the podium is Bernie Sanders, honest!

That same day someone from Sanders’ campaign came to the door and my father had fun telling the guy off: “Everyone who likes your guy is already downtown listening to him speak!” 

On Sunday I had a rare treat. My parents still get a newspaper delivered daily. On Sundays, the paper includes full-color comics.

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Newspaper comics – memories of childhood

Bonus: a guy I went to high school with has a son who’s old enough to get married. The wedding announcement was in the paper.

After three days of this I started looking forward to my 5 p.m. dinner, some Cheetos in front of the TV, and the squirrel show every morning. One day a scandal erupted when some pigeons ate the squirrels’ corn.

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Thieving pigeons!

Every day I tackled a cleaning project. “Everything’s gone downhill since your mother’s been laid up,” my dad said after I spent 2 hours on the bathroom.

I told him that he needed to help out more. Distaff side, my ass.

I left them after four days with a freezer full of spaghetti sauce, chicken, soup and muffins. My sister also has also been helping out with meals, cleaning, doctor’s appointments and the rest. We have a good laugh about it all.

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The daily text affirmation

I know that taking care of parents is something we all have to do sooner or later. I am grateful that I have the kind of relationship with them that they I can help them – for sure they helped me for many years! This was a relatively minor event – my mother will recover and go on with her life. The day will come when it’s not such an easy job. I am glad I had the chance to prepare for it a bit.

But I left the visit feeling old and feeble. My knee makes a crunching sound when I walk. That can’t be good. I have my mother’s thighs – I guess I have her knees, too.