Friday’s Photos on Monday: Ooookay and Hershey Gardens Part Deux

Holy Friday the Thirteenth! Somehow I missed an entire day. I had this post ready to go on Thursday and somehow, before I knew it, Saturday arrived.  I apologize for the delay. Let’s get to it.

Some more favorite photos. Hershey Gardens was actually broken up into different sections. The sections include a rose garden and groves of trees.  I really enjoyed my day here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In this photo you can Hershey Amusement Park in the background.

 

 

 

 

I love this photo. It reminds me of an Ent from LOTR.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you zoom in close you might see a lot of bumble bees. There were literally hundreds buzzing all around this area.

 

 

 

 

Holly and Faith say goodbye. Come again next week for more Hershey Gardens.

Peace.

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Fat Tuesday: A Successful Failure

This past week was a failure due to eating ice cream last Tuesday and baked homemade peanut butter cookies on Friday and Saturday. The ice cream cheered me because I got depressed.

 

 

Tracey and her coworkers are to blame for my fall from grace with the cookies. They sent Tracey home to beg nicely for a batch.  I did get a thank you card but a photo of cute little Meerkats from the Natural Science Center aren’t going to cancel out those calories although I appreciate the thought.

Last week was a success only because I didn’t gain weight.  And while I did eat a whole box of  York  peppermint patty ice cream I kept it to that day only. The same with the cookies. I made them very early Friday morning and managed to keep the gluttony to a minimum. Yay, me. Kinda.

July the fourth I did excellent. No cravings or anything. Maybe it was a bad strategy to ignore all those cravings and that’s why I caved. At any rate except for those days I did pretty good. What do you think?

Dessert free since Saturday. Three days and counting.

Goals: Gotta work on keeping those carbs down, they’ve sneaked up on me.

 

Some music to cheer us up:

 

I love peppermint patty candy and ice cream, what’s your favorite candy?  Do you have a strategy for eating better?

 

 

Peace.

 

Friday’s Photos: Hershey Gardens Part 1

I’d like to share some of my favorite photos from Hershey Gardens.

This shot of the roller coaster at Hershey Amusement Park across the road from the gardens is one I have to share. The sun was in my eyes (as it was most of the time) so I just pointed, prayed and took the shot (I did this a lot all day long).

 

 

Here’s a great shot taken by Holly.

 

 

Faith seems fascinated by the flowers, doesn’t she?

 

 

In the butterfly house:

 

 

Okay, I intended to take this picture because I loved the way the wings looked next to one another. It wasn’t until the kid next to me said, “Look Mommy, the butterfly is sitting on top of the other butterfly,” that I realized, well, they weren’t. Lol. But then it also hit me there was a third dead butterfly next to the mating pair. Does this photo have a deeper meaning such as life does indeed triumph over death? Is it beautiful in its own way or just plain tacky? You decide. Either way I loved the shot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A mama bird with her babies.

 

 

Holly and Faith lounging around with the letter ‘S’

 

 

Carts of flowers were on every corner.

 

 

We intend to tell Faith we found her under a mushroom and we’ve got the photo to prove it.

 

 

Cows like gardens, too.

 

 

There were lots of these little guys everywhere.

 

 

Holly and Faith say bye for now but come back next week for part two.

Peace.

About Writing On Wednesday: A Patriotic Concert and Writing Biz

The Concert:

Please enjoy some music while you read the post although if you’re interested in seeing the groovy moves of the 70’s you might want to watch the first video, :-).

 

Music and dance popular around 1776:

 

 

Fife and drums:

 

 

From the movie The Patriot:

 

 

Jimi Hendrix and Whitney Houston have performed unforgettable versions of The Star Spangled Banner. Even Slash performs a decent variant. Now here comes Madison Rising with their excellent rendition:

 

Happy Fourth of July!

 

Writing Biz:

There are several things I want to share.

First is news about To Touch A Unicorn. I did get an email advising I have been assigned a new editor who should contact me in the next couple of weeks. I both dread and look forward to it. What I look forward to is learning from a professional on how to make my story a better one. I just hope I’m up to the task. My fingers are crossed.

Dread is because at some point, once the revisions are complete, the story gets published. I know, I know. That is the point. But what if no one likes it? I’m afraid I’ll run the first time someone (readers) hollers, “Boo!” Not everyone will like what I write, I know that in my head, but will I be strong enough to keep going in my heart?

Second, I want to point to the excellent blog about self publishing versus traditional publishing my friend Diane wrote. She does a good job of explaining why it’s all about being professional. While you’re there check out the new fantastic covers for her Broken series.

Third, Tracey and I finished our writing prompts from last week. We both ended up with over a thousand words. She has stated she doesn’t want to share hers although I think she should since it is a good read. I feel squeamish about putting up my story, too. What I will do is put up the revised beginning:

The back door was open. Scarlett Miller paused in her kitchen to stare. Oh, God. This is bad. She called Ginger, her German Shepherd mix, to her side before approaching the door cautiously. An old trunk full of books sat sideways in front it; moving the trunk to the side, she opened the door the rest of the way. She and Ginger looked outside.

It was the first snowfall of the year, the pristine beauty marred by tracks leading up the steps. They did not belong to Scarlett or her companion. Ginger growled. When Scarlett looked down she could see the hair standing on the dog’s back.

A chill worked its way down her back raising goose bumps on arms. The lid on the dark well in her mind blew off. Memory’s dark tendrils began to ghost out. Almost paralyzed in fear, she slapped the well’s lid back down. If she lost it now, she was doomed.

Calming, she knew two things stopped the intruder from coming in: an old trunk full of books and her dog. Patting Ginger on the head she said, “Good girl. You get a steak tonight.” Still a little shaky, Scarlett called the police before getting her camera.

 *****

Tracey tells me she didn’t like the part about the well and I just realized I mention the trunk twice.  I’m not going to correct it for now. I’ll set the story aside and maybe come back to it later.

What’s your favorite patriotic music? How do you feel about publishing? Do you have plans on the fourth of July? What have you written lately? Have you ever played a fife or banged on a drum? Are you in the mood for a revolution?

Peace.

Fat Tuesday: If I Dream About Eating Dessert, Do The Calories Count?

The cravings have been horrible this week. Everything from saltwater taffy to chicken and dumplings. The dreams I’ve had about eating sugary items are so real I wake up feeling guilty. I haven’t done it for real either, by the way.

No weight loss to report.

Fourth of July was supposed to be a day of planned dessert. My plan was to eat out so I wouldn’t have anything leftover to gorge. Now I’m not so sure. If the cravings are so bad now they could get worse after I’ve eaten a piece of yummy cake or pie. Then I’ll be back where I started. Maybe it will let up in the next day or two. Mercy, I hope so.

My goal this week: Work through the cravings the best I can.

Reason to change my lifestyle this week: To set a good example for my family. If I try, they try.

Do you dream about eating food? I’m craving pineapples now, what are you craving?

Peace.

 

 

Friday’s Photos: Stinkin’ Cute

I was sitting with Faith on my lap in the parking lot while Holly ran into Wal-Mart right quick. A woman popped her head in the driver’s side and advised me of Faith’s stinking cute status. Well, uh. Ok. Although I would say wonderful, beautiful, the best baby ever born and so on. Lol. Here’s why:

 

 

She is mysterious, “I just want to be alone.”:

 

 

At about two weeks old she can hold her own bottle and get her feet painted all at the same time:

 

 

She wears cool sun glasses:

 

 

She doesn’t mind giving her opinions:

 

 

Faith has some serious fans. One of whom is willing to kiss her feet:

The hostess from Tendo Buffet admires Faith

Jill and Marion from the Greensboro Natural Science Center

 

 

Let’s face it. The grandchick has an awesome smile and knows how to pose:

 

 

Wow! She can sleep anywhere:

 

 

She has amazing blue eyes and a gorgeous head of hair:

 

Finally, Faith knows how to rock out with her Auntie Tracey:

Rock on!

 

 

Some music to rock with:

 

 

Peace.

About Writing on Wednesdays: Writing Prompts and Memories

Writing prompts are fun and they get those creative juices flowing that sometimes lead to a great story. To Touch a Unicorn was created from a writing prompt Chuck Wendig gave on his blog. He has writing challenges every Friday I enjoy reading even if I don’t always participate.

This week Tracey and I decided we wanted to begin using writing prompts. We each picked a sentence from Daily Writing Tips last Monday. The goal is a minimum of 500 words and we have from Monday to Sunday to complete. On Sunday we’ll share our stories with each other for review. It should be fun.

Tracey chose ‘They came back every year to lay flowers at the spot’ for this week.  This is an interesting sentence because it can be creepy or sad. I can’t wait to see what she does with it. Maybe Tracey will let me put up what she writes. She should because she is a talented writer.

The story prompt I chose for this week is ‘It was the first snowfall of the year.’  This sentence is haunting but the why of it didn’t strike me at first. It was when I was going over my beginning sentences that I realized I was using childhood memories. Here are my first several sentences:

It was the first snowfall of the year but the shivers racking Scarlett Miller wasn’t from the cold, it was the tracks in the snow leading up the stairs to her back door. The same back door that was partly open when she got up that morning. She knew two things had stopped the intruder from coming in: an old trunk full of books sitting in front of the door and Ginger.

A good start I think. I was eleven when the incident I’m drawing from occurred. Yes there was snow and yes there were tracks leading up stairs to our back door. Instead of a trunk of books there was an empty trunk with a large wooden cage on it that had two gerbils inside. I truly believe Ginger saved us that night. Her and her alone. It was just my mom, me and my brother because my dad drove a truck over the road and they knew it.  Ginger was a hero and deserves to be remembered for her love and loyalty. Ginger is why I always feel safer with dogs in the house to at least alert me they hear something.

Children are so naive and trusting. I was no exception. Looking back I realize I must have worked my guardian angel a lot during those years. Sometimes I want to cry for that girl because no child should see or hear some of the things I did but then I remember I am blessed because many of those things could have turned out so much worse.

One day as I walked home from school one of the new neighbors, an older woman, from across the street called to me from her front door, I walked over, she invited me to come in and I did. Inside there was another woman and two men. They were so friendly and when they asked questions about me and my family I answered them.

They said they wanted me to do chores for them to earn a little money, ironing and such. Excited I ran home to ask my mother if I could work for our nice neighbors. To their credit they did tell my mom about themselves, turns out the guys were just out of prison for rape and murder. Her answer was a resounding ‘no’ to me with a stay away from them added for good measure.

Not too long after that the incident with the back door occurred. Not too long after that the murderer killed the rapist. Yes, I saw that. Not the actual killing but the aftermath. I could see the police car and ambulance from the top of the hill where the school bus dropped me off. The paramedics rolled the rapist out of the house and just as I walked by they got to the ambulance on the road. The bullet hole between his eyes could be clearly seen. The murderer went back to jail and the wives moved away. So did we.

Do we know for certain who it was trying to break in our back door? No. But I’d say the odds were pretty good it was one or both from across the street, don’t you? I think I’ve mentioned how beautiful my mother was as a young woman. I think I’ve also mentioned how men stared and occasionally followed her around. My mother did not encourage them that I can recall nor did she dress inappropriately but something made men stop and look and then look again. Whatever ‘it’ was it also made a few of them act inappropriately.

There were at least five incidents that were truly creepy and scary that I remember. One in Maryland involving one of our neighbors stalking her (I don’t remember much except my mother talking with a friend about contacting the police, I  remember being afraid), an incident in California where my mother got money from a company because the man who worked for them actually caused her physical harm, two in Georgia (including the incident I’ve talked about) and one in North Carolina.  There’s more, I’m sure, but they didn’t go that high on the creepy/scary scale so I don’t remember them.

What I find interesting is that I didn’t consciously pick that sentence because of those memories. It kept going round and round in my head; I started putting together sentences before I remembered, “Oh, yeah. That actually happened.” It’s not like every time it snows I freak out or anything but it has always been in the back of my mind like a bug crawling around the kitchen floor. You try to stomp it but the thing is too fast and gets in a crack between the wall and floor before you can kill it. Well now the memory has some use as I draw on it to write an awesome story, I hope.

Peace.

Fat Tuesday: Comme ci, Comme ça

I made it through last week without eating sugary dessert items but there was some compulsive eating so I can’t call it an unqualified success.  Chips and the like need to be added to my list of no-no items.

However I am happy to report weight has been lost. Yayyy! About ten pounds which puts me at almost what my weight was before Christmas. I have several more pounds to go but I am pleased about this progress.

My friend Gail, and Holly’s mom-in-law, sent me this email:

Love  this Doctor!
l
Q: Doctor, I’ve heard that cardiovascular exercise can prolong life.  Is this true? 

A: Heart only good for so many beats, and that it… Don’t waste on exercise.  Everything wear out eventually.  Speeding up heart not make you live longer; it like saying you extend life of car by driving faster.  Want to live longer?  Take nap.

Q: Should I reduce my alcohol intake?

A:  Oh no.  Wine made from fruit.  Brandy distilled wine, that mean they take water out of fruity bit so you get even more of goodness that way.  Beer also made of grain.  Bottom up!

Q: How can I calculate my body/fat ratio?

A: Well, if you have body and you have fat, your ratio one to one.  If you have two body, your ratio two to one.

Q: What are some of the advantages of participating in a regular exercise program? 

A: Can’t think of single one, sorry.  My philosophy: No pain…good!

Q:  Aren’t fried foods bad for you?

A:  YOU NOT LISTENING!  Food fried in vegetable oil.  How getting more vegetable be bad?

Q
  :  Will sit-ups help prevent me from getting a little soft around the middle? 
A:  Oh no!  When you exercise muscle, it get bigger.  You should only be doing sit-up if you want bigger stomach.

Q:  Is chocolate bad for me?  

A:  You crazy?!?  HEL-LO-O!!  Cocoa bean!  Another vegetable!  It best feel-good food around!

Q:  Is swimming good for your figure?  

A:  If swimming good for figure, explain whale to me.

Q:  Is getting in shape important for my lifestyle?  

A:  Hey!  ‘Round’ is shape!

Well… I hope this has cleared up any misconceptions you may have had about food and diets.

And  remember:  
Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways – Chardonnay in one hand – chocolate in the other – body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming “WOO-HOO, what a ride!!”

AND…..

For  those of you who watch what you eat, here’s the final word on nutrition and health.  It’s a relief to know the truth after all those conflicting nutritional studies.

1. The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

2. The Mexicans eat a lot of fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

3. The Chinese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

4. The Italians drink a lot of red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans…

5. The Germans drink a lot of beer and eat lots of sausages and fats and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

CONCLUSION:  Eat and drink what you like.   Speaking English is apparently what kills you.

 

Man I wish he were a real doctor and the above was true. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Goals haven’t changed from last week.

Reason for staying off sugar and changing lifestyle this week: Sugar ages you. No need to help Mother Nature out, she does the job just fine on her own.

Peace.

Do you have any diet jokes you’d like to share?

 

 

Fat Tuesday: I Think I Can

Just chugging a long in another good week. I’ve stayed off sugary foods for about twenty days now. Friday and Saturday were difficult days with cravings hitting at odd times; for instance a craving hit in a used book store. Looking at old, stinky stacks of books was fun but the aisles were narrow and hot. I started feeling a bit nauseous and decided to just go with what I had in hand.

Remember our conversation a couple of weeks ago? Yeah, they had fudge and other goodies stacked around the registers. That fudge knew my name. Holly smacked me in the arm to get my attention off the candy. I walked away with a couple of books (old gothics by Clarissa Ross), a couple of cds and a small bag of pretzels. I thought the pretzels were a good compromise.

On Saturday Holly, Faith and I went to Hershey Gardens. After a lot of walking in unaccustomed heat, the long and short of it is I ended up in a wheelchair to get back to the car. I guess my body just needed to refuel so the craving hit hard but I was able to ignore it and drink lemonade and lots of water when we got to Bob Evans. I ordered yummy roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, carrots, and green  beans. I only ate half of it, saving the rest for lunch the next day.

This week’s goals are to eat more fruits and veggies. I got a good start this last week but I need to eat more. Walking is another goal, but not all in one day; walks in a shorter distance should be what I’m doing.

This week’s reason to stay off the sugar and lose weight: there’s no sense in being old, fat and bald. I can’t do anything about the first item but the other two I’m working on. I notice the less sugar I eat, the less hair I have in my brush.

Here’s some music to enjoy:

Peace.

Fat Tuesday: Hello from Maryland

Yes, I made it here to Maryland last Thursday. Paul was awesome in helping me get ready to leave home. I’d been sick all week with what I thought was my sinuses but Tracey was sick with it this weekend. Since sinus problems aren’t something you can catch then I obviously had a virus or something. She’s doing better today but I feel bad I gave her something then left her at home to deal with it.

It was rough but I’ve made it for just over a week now without sugary items.  Yay! Holly and I went to the movies on Friday while Paul watched baby Faith. I did get popcorn, a lemonade icy (lemonade is on the ok list for now) and water. That was it! We saw Prometheus by the way. It was good. It is a prequel to the Alien movies. A bit vague on some points but Holly and I had fun debating what it all meant.

On Saturday we had popcorn again while we watched Predators (the new one). Holly ate Junior Mints on the sly. I didn’t know until I started to clean up. Bad Holly! I got back at her, without meaning to, Monday night by watching Cake Boss. She doesn’t feel like she can eat sugar because of me and complained the whole time. It seems watching other people eat cake without being able to eat some yourself is hard for some people. Who knew? I averted my eyes during those scenes and tried to distract myself by talking to Holly who advised me I was crazy. Lol.

Really, I’m not into self-torture although Holly thinks I am. I just enjoy watching flour and sugar being used to make incredible works of art. Buddy was on Cake Challenge several times and I sort of followed him from that show to Cake Boss. I don’t watch all the time but it’s fun to check in and see what’s happening with him and his family.

To celebrate my sugar-free ten days, I am making strawberry shortcake today. Normally I like to use a sugar-free strawberry glaze but I haven’t been able to find any this year. I’m not happy about that. I like to use it instead of syrup on my pancakes, too. But I’ve made do with regular strawberry glaze; the whipped cream is sugar-free and the biscuits are home-made with little sugar. It’s a tasty treat that doesn’t stir up all those cravings. I’m looking forward to it.

My friend Diane sent me an email last week and with her permission, here it is in part:

Diets do not work. It is a known fact. Your body will get confused with lack of food, then when you give in and eat more, your body reacts by storing more in case of the next starving time.

Me: I know and it sucks. I wish dieting works, it would be nice just to be able to go through the whole denial thing once and be skinny forever but that’s a pipe dream for sure. The whole diet industry is only around to make money, not because they have a genuine caring for the fat to obese people they are supposed to help.
You need a lifestyle change. Try only eating food that has no preservatives/additives in them. It means you have to cook them.
Me: Lol. She’s killing me here. Talking about changing your lifestyle and actually doing it are two different things. I’ve talked about for years. But actually doing it? It’s like I said, tomorrow never comes. I do like to cook, I just hate cleaning the mess up afterward.
I remove all processed foods from my life and added fibre, fresh fruit, vegs, red and white meats, oats, etc. I prepare them at home and cook and enjoy. 
Me: I don’t eat red meat. I stopped for a lot of reasons and I keep thinking poultry’s gotta go, too. Some day it probably will. I’m working on getting more of the fibre, fruits and veggies.
You can substitute coke/soda/purchased drinks with fruit juice/veg juice/herb teas you make at home. (Think juice extractor.)
Me: I stopped drinking sodas many years ago because of kidney stones. I love fruit juices but they can be abused so I try to limit them. Herb teas have recently been added to my diet. I do like them and they do help with cravings and um, cleaning the body out. As it were. I’ve always loved to drink water and I drink six to eight glasses every day.
I even make my own bread, chocolate, and ice cream (minus the preservatives/additives).
Me: Oh, man. Diane. I’m whining here and my mouth is watering.
I have days where I only eat fruit all day. As much as I want. It is convenient when I don’t feel like cooking or am busy writing. And really tasty in summer with our wide variety of fruits.
Me: This is a good suggestion. I’m just not sure how Paul and Tracey feel about it. Maybe a chef salad for them?
Diane’s email made me realize I needed to clarify some things which is why I posted it and made comments. I’m not dieting. I am trying to change my life. It will not be easy because I have a serious control problem where sugar is concerned. I can’t just eat a little and push it away; before it’s all over I eat the whole thing if I can. For me it’s like a siren’s call that can not be ignored.
I have no idea if I’ve lost weight this week since I don’t have access to my scale. Stay tuned.
This week’s reason to lose weight: I need to get new clothes and it would be nice to get them a size or two smaller.
My goal for the next week hasn’t changed: stay off the sugary items.
Sue Santore has a great post this week and a great recipe for a breakfast smoothie. Blueberry, yum.
Peace.

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