Category Archives: Challenges

Fly, Fly Away…

Guilford Education Alliance

I am flying to Thibodaux, LA to spend time with two of my favorite people. I’ll be back Wednesday. Hold the fort and have a great week!

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Filed under Challenges, character-building exercises, Family

Icing on the Cake

Life Love and Sugar

I’ve told you that my husband and I decided that we needed to do everything we could to get and stay healthier. We know we can’t control everything – by far – but there are things that we can do that will improve our quality of life and hopefully allow us to spend many more years together.

My husband was diagnosed with Type II diabetes a couple of years ago. We adopted a low carb diet and each of us lost some weight, but we needed more help. We decided to try Nutrisystem in April, since they had a program that was geared for diabetics (although my husband denies he has diabetes. He calls it a ‘sugar problem.’) Whatever you CALL it, it had already resulted in pain in his legs and feet and double vision, among other symptoms.  He was turned down for term life insurance. We had to go for the no exam type for low coverage and high premiums.

We had our quarterly doctor’s appointment in August. My husband’s A1C was almost NORMAL. (Isn’t that a lovely word?)  The doctor says if he keeps improving the way he’s been going, he might be able to stop taking the blood sugar medicine altogether in the future! Besides losing weight – since he has tried to cut out as much sugar as possible – the double vision is gone. The pain in his feet and legs is gone.

My blood test numbers were up to 65 points improved in all areas. I had been high in everything, even on the low carb diet, so this was a huge improvement. The doctor was really pleased and said I didn’t need to come back for 6 MONTHS!  My husband has one more 3 month appt in November, and if he has continued to do well, he’ll move to 6 MONTH appts, too!

The icing on the cake – and peace of mind – is that yesterday we found out he had been ACCEPTED by the insurance company for a 10-year level term life insurance policy!!! WOO HOO!  The policy we had was due to skyrocket in premiums in November on his birthday….

So losing weight, watching what we’re eating, and trying to get used to what a normal portion is, plus trying to move more (and in MY case, do some real exercise) is improving our quality of life and our chances for living to enjoy it for several years to come.

My husband is almost to his weight goal. He’ll decide what he wants to do when he gets there, but I’m hoping he’ll stick to the Nutrisystem while I’m on it, at least. I still have a long way to go on weight loss – between the low carb and now Nutrisystem programs, I’ve now lost a total of 35 lbs or so and 24 inches – I have a good start.

Lifestyle changing is no picnic. You have to fight the fight in your head and really want to get healthier. We think it’s worth it.

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Filed under Challenges, Changes, DIET!, exercise, Healthy Eating, quality of life, taking care of yourself

Gremlins are Rampant!

I told you recently that we’ve been plaqued with stuff suddenly not working, busting, etc. And it continues, with the gremlins who hide here running rampant!

Yesterday it was two things:



I went to rinse a dish from dinner to find NO WATER!  We went out to the well house to find a pipe had burst, spewing water everywhere, 4 inches on the floor, more on walls, ceiling, and shelves. My husband found the busted pipe that had a gauge for reading the pressure on the end. We were able to remove the pipe and took it out to the shop.  We were able to find a pipe nipple the right size and a plug, in case we couldn’t replace the pipe and the gauge. We swept out as much water as we could with a broom, and then replaced the pipe with the gauge on the end. VOILA!  We brought out a box fan and ran it with the well house door open all night, to try to dry things out. It was better out there this morning. We’ll give it a while longer, and then move the fan up higher to work on the walls, shelves, and ceiling. It’s SO good to have a husband who can figure out what in the world happened, had the parts we needed to fix it, and was able to get our access to water back.




I have a cute little Sandisk MP3 player my husband and son got me for a birthday a million years ago. They loaded on some of my favorite music from over the years. It has a clip on the back so I can clip it to my shirt and listen to my songs via earphones. I love it, and I wear it whenever I’m on the elliptical trainer so that I can forget I’m exercising. :0)

It suddenly was dead. I put in on the charger, but that didn’t do any good. My husband looked at it last night and decided I ‘probably hadn’t charged it right.’ We charged it overnight, but got nothing more than stuff like the ‘play all’ thing you can see lit up in the pic. It showed ‘no song’ when I tried to play it. We’ll go to Walgreen’s today to see if we can find a new 4G SD card and see if that restores its memory and ability to play.

Fingers crossed!  And hopefully, the gremlins are satisfied they’ve caused enough havoc around here for a while. We still have my husband’s computer to rebuild, assuming we ever get his motherboard back…


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Checked Off!

Google Sites

It seems as if we’ve been working on a bunch of things FOREVER with endless details and lots of frustration, but things are finally coming together and we’re able to get things checked off.

  • The biggest frustrating thing was that both of our computers died at once. This has never happened before, and we’ll be making some changes so that if it happens again we’ll be better able to handle it. My husband finally got my computer up and running and most everything back on it and accessible. I’ve been working on my laptop and we didn’t have access to any of our regular places because we lost access to our passwords. We’ve now made a CD we can slip into a computer and access everything. We’re now sharing this computer, with a keyboard that toggles back and forth between QWERTY (regular keyboard) and DVORAK (my husband’s special keyboard.) He is able to access his email now, plus play on the computer, so we’re workable until he gets his motherboard returned – either the one we sent back fixed, or a new one. Hopefully, the put back together on his will go smoothly. It will be a LONG time before I take any of this for granted again.
  • Since our son lives and works across the globe from us, we’re trying to do everything humanly possible to make things easier for him when the time comes he has to handle our remaining affairs when the second one dies. Some people really don’t want to think about this, but we want to have the decisions made and the arrangements handled, then put them away and not think of them again for hopefully many years from now. We had this all done – or most of it – and then a law in Arkansas changed and messed our plans up. We had to start again. After a huge amount of work, details, legal documents, payments and cards to carry in our wallets, all arrangements are done and paid for.
  • I’ve told you before that my husband was diagnosed with Type II diabetes a couple of years ago. The result was a very expensive life insurance policy that requires no medical exam. This policy premium was due to skyrocket as a ‘Happy Birthday’ present in November. Today we were notified that he has been accepted for a 10 year level term life insurance policy that DID require a medical exam. Since he’s done so well changing his diet, losing weight, etc., he qualified for the policy this time! We handled the remaining details this morning and were able to call and cancel the policy that was due to balloon later this year. Now THAT’S a much better birthday present!

There are other things we’ve been doing, but these are the biggest and most important right now. Now we can relax and feel much less stressed!  Sometimes being stubborn, tenacious and persistent pays off!!!!

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Filed under Challenges, Changes, quality of life

Another Character-Building Exercise

Fabulous Traveling

I was incommunicado all day yesterday because the new motherboard for my computer arrived. My good husband worked on things all day, getting us to about 2/3 up now.

Almost everything that COULD happen – and more we hadn’t thought of – were obstacles. Just one example – the new power supply was wired “backwards.”

We did all we could do yesterday, finally getting so my husband could finally see his email. We contacted a person who bought a book from us on Amazon, apologizing for the delay and telling him his book would be mailed Monday…  We got our Password Safe program and data back, thanks to my husband hooking up his hard drive to my computer until things pass for some kind of normal around here. We made a DVD copy of our data so we won’t be without it again.

Being without a computer is a character-building exercise. Being without TWO computers and access to passwords has been really challenging. We’re thankful we had the laptop from the shop, but I hope I won’t have to use it – except for loading pics of what new mailbox decoration I’m trying to paint – for a long time, if ever again.

My husband is taking a well-deserved nap now. He even got it so I can print something!

Remaining problems are mainly that my data and storage drives aren’t showing on the computer. I’m really thankful we regularly back my main data drive on a couple of external drives. I’ve been using that while on the laptop, and am using it now, as I type.

It’ll be a LONG time before I start taking my computer, keyboard, access to passwords, etc., for granted.

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Filed under Acting Like a Grownup, Challenges, Changes, character-building exercises

Now We’re Talkin’


Pound 24 came off today!  And 23+ inches gone. I feel as if I am definitely off to a good start now.

I had that happy news and then got to go for a heavenly massage, so I’m feeling that today is a stellar day.

We have eaten more ‘flex’ meals than usual because our Nutrisystem supplies were almost gone. (We got our orders today), so I’ve been worried that the scale and the tape measure would both start backtracking. We held our own and made progress. Hooray!!!

Another happy note – we may be seeing a sliver of light regarding the computer issues that have really been character-building exercises recently. My husband’s motherboard has been sent back for repair or replacement. I ordered another motherboard – a different model – and that should be on its way to us now. Today I FINALLY reached someone on chat at NewEgg who found our order for my previous refurbed motherboard and said she would contact the seller to give us an RMA # within two business days, and – if they didn’t get back to us – that NewEgg would handle the return and refund for us. I had almost given up ever reaching their customer service department.When I tried to use the chat, I was told I was number 75 or so in the queue. When I tried to call, the wait time was 36 minutes or so. I couldn’t just send it back because we had no order # or any paperwork to go with it. This lady – Olivia at NewEgg helped us out tremendously.

Even though we’re still in the trenches as far as working regular computers go, things appear to be improving.

I hope YOUR day is good, too!

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Filed under Challenges, Changes, DIET!

I HOPE We’re Getting Somewhere…

I just finished doing 30 minutes on my elliptical trainer in the garage.  My MP3 player wasn’t working for some unknown reason (probably part of the gremlins that are living in our house right now) but I managed to find an old CD player. Listening to music makes all the difference on being able to put in a reasonable amount of time working hard, but staying in the same place.

Another annoyance is that after 30 minutes, my pedometer doesn’t show any more steps than it had when I got on the machine. Apparently the low impact motion of the elliptical doesn’t register as ‘steps’ to the device in my pocket. :0(

We’re on a treadmill around here for many reasons lately. I’ve told you that neither of our regular computers is working right now and I’m on an old laptop we got out of the shop.

We’re waiting for an RMA# for my motherboard to be sent in for repair or replacement. Meanwhile, my husband called ASUS tech support about HIS computer this morning. The guy suggested that maybe his power supply was bad. My husband thanked him, hung up, and then muttered about people not knowing anything and that he’d never had a power supply die. He got the power supply out of my regular computer and tried it in his. It turned out that the guy in tech support was right. Now my husband is busily trying to put his computer back together and see if we can get it going. There may be light at the end of at least one of the gremlin tunnels in the Lewis household!  All appendages are crossed for a resurrected computer!

Meanwhile, since I’m of no use putting computers together, when I get rested a bit more, I’ll head into the living room to do my yoga for the day.

I hope YOUR day is a good one.

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Filed under Challenges, character-building exercises, exercise

Revenge of the Computers


We don’t know what we did in this – or a past – life to cause this, but whatever it was WE APOLOGIZE!!!!!

I’ve lost count of the number of days we’ve been trying to get our computers working here. I don’t want to complain TOOOO loudly because at this moment, I’m still able to use my laptop that we got out of the shop. I am able to retrieve MY email, and function really awkwardly otherwise, but this is really getting old.

My poor husband has been trying to get things going – essentially non-stop – and is now taking a bit of a rest.

HIS COMPUTER – just went on strike a few days ago. He was trying to add a Windows Quick Something-or-Other and the whole thing crashed. It wouldn’t boot at all. He has now taken everything out, cleaned everything thoroughly, tested parts he’s able to, replaced the motherboard, and more. He got it to try to start once and then it simply stopped again. To say he’s in a bad mood doesn’t begin to describe things around here.

MY COMPUTER – the Best Buy tech group said the motherboard was bad, having two non-functional memory slots. We were still under warranty so we sent it to the repair group of the company. We got it back and they said it was all good. Meanwhile, since my computer has been down so long, we went ahead and ordered another motherboard and he installed it. The diagnostic stuff he had, plus the book that came with the motherboard, said the memory was incompatible with the motherboard.  We looked in the book and ordered memory suggested by the book. Two of the memory thingies worked in two of the slots, but not the other two. We have now contacted the help people at the manufacturer’s. We’re hoping to hear from them tomorrow.

Because neither of our regular computers is working, we don’t have access to Password Safe, our computer password wallet program. I have asked for a password reset on a couple of sites. The first one was successful, but the second one wouldn’t allow a reset because we can’t receive email on my husband’s computer. ARRRGH!

I tried to access my husband’s email on the laptop, but I have to exit everything I’ve finally gotten to work in order to try to get his email to download. I don’t want to lose what it’s taken me several days to accomplish, and so we’ve hit a wall.

Hopefully, a miracle will occur and we can get our computers happy and functioning again. At this point, they seem to be enjoying their vacation….



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The Big Picture

Those of you who have been following my blog for a while know that my husband and I have been trying to lose weight and get healthier.

We were on a low-carb diet for quite awhile. We both lost weight, but we decided we needed more structure to attain our goals. We were on Nutrisystem years ago, and decided – due to the changes in their program since then – that we would try them again.

My husband is a Type II diabetic. Through our weight loss efforts (and cutting out as much sugar as possible) his A1C has gone from above 16 to 6.2. He is almost to his goal weight, unless he changes his mind for some reason.

I look at my progress 2 ways: The loss from my highest/largest on the low-carb diet and the loss from Nutrisystem so far.

Nutrisystem loss:

  • 22 pounds and 17-1/2 inches so far. (my triglcerides, etc. are significantly better, as well)
  • From my highest/largest:  37 inches and 35 pounds

I have a long way to go, but I’m feeling good that there is a positive improvement.  The fact that Nutrisystem teaches you to make healthy meals on your own while you’re on the plan with access to counselors, recipes, etc., make this a lifestyle change, rather than a diet that we will go ‘off’ at some point.

I’m also doing a bunch of exercise for an old, sedentary broad, trying to build my strength, stamina, muscles, and flexibility.

  • I’m doing a session of stretching via yoga daily.
  • I’m either walking a mile (or maybe 2) with Annoying Leslie Sansone. (Even though I find her perkiness and laugh quite annoying, I have to admit this is really good for me.
  • I am also taking advantage of some toning and firming exercises she offers on the video, so I’m walking one day and doing the exercises the next.
  • When it’s not over 100 degrees in our garage, I’m walking on the elliptical trainer
  • I’m also doing over-the-door shoulder pulley exercises, plus a weight exercise that is supposed to ease the pain in my neck and shoulders.

I figure if I just keep on keepin’ on, and hold my mouth right, I may meet my goals before I croak from old age. I would like to be in good enough shape that I can do whatever I want and not have to limit activities unnecessarily.

I’ve also told you several times in my blogs that I’m trying to continue learning new things in order to keep my poor brain going as well as possible. The trying to keep going on the laptop computer while my regular computer is waiting for a motherboard necessitates so much concentration and learning how to get around problems that my brain is getting a fine workout. We also changed Internet companies and went back to DirecTV this morning, so my husband and I are trying to leap through hoops together to make everything work and cancel all the services we don’t need anymore.

I hope you’re not having quite as much drama in your life as we have, and that you’re getting closer to achieving your goals.

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Filed under Challenges, Changes, DIET!, exercise, getting the lard off, taking care of yourself


everyday feminism

Things are very awkward – using laptop, external drive saved from my regular computer, and all the patience I can muster – but I seem to be functional on posting on the blog again. :0)

We shipped my defective motherboard to the manufacturer this morning. It’s still under warranty, so they’ll either repair mine or send us a new one. Help is on the way!

I figured out this morning how to transfer my camera pictures to the laptop, edit them, and get them into my blog picture folder, so I’ll post a couple later today.

Since everything is different on the laptop, the mouse is built in and has an idiot trying to use it :0), things are a bit challenging, but doable, with a lot of concentration.

I’m glad to be back, however hobbled my gait. I hope you’re doing well, too.

More later.

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Filed under Challenges, Changes, character-building exercises

More Challenges :0(

The good news is that my motherboard is under warranty and the manufacturer has agreed to either fix this one or send another one. The bad news is that I’m back on my laptop.

I do have an external drive, so tomorrow I’ll see if I can actually get to anything on it.

Fingers crossed.

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I’m BACK! – (Sort of)

We got a call from the Geek Squad at Best Buy this afternoon, dropped everything and drove to Fort Smith to pick it up. They said the motherboard had two bad ram slots, meaning I now have half the memory I used to until we can replace the Motherboard. They did save my data to DVDs, which I’ll deal with later. For now, I’m jumping up and down that I can finally write again!

Things will be limited until we can figure things out – like I don’t know how to restore things when I can’t SEE the D drive where things are supposed to be. No access to saved pics, bookmarks, etc. Again, this is a small problem compared to being totally without. Our son helped us so I could finally access my email – and finally get my answers to go to the recipient, instead of to La La Land.

I love computers when they’re working. There is little more frustrating to me when they’re not.

I’m going to try to get my act together, putting things back on the computer and trying to get more functional, but I hope to start writing tomorrow. I hope you’ve been well. I missed you!

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I’m feeling good that I got my exercise for the day accomplished. I received the gold stars (really!) that I ordered in the mail today and caught my calendar up with my activity, adding another one for today.

I feel a bit silly for “working for the gold star” each day – rather than working just for the loftier and more mature goals of better health, less pain, easier movement, better balance, and more – but there it is. I feel GOOD when I add another star to the calendar, and get up off my duff and exercise if I haven’t, so I don’t ruin my new record, now 5 days and 5-1/2 stars…

I’m still having to push myself to get to the 1 mile marker on the Annoying Leslie walking video, but I’m hoping by the end of next week I can at least START Mile 2. I’m doing half an hour of gentle yoga, stretching, twisting, and breathing. My husband even noticed I was touching my toes with my fingers after less stretching time today, plus ALMOST being able to bend forward in a sitting position, soles of my feet together and touching my head to my feet. (I hope this description makes sense. I don’t know any name for it. If it’s just a bunch of words, just picture me tying myself into a pretzel shape.) :0)

My ‘extra’ for the day today was an hour this morning weed whacking and leaf blowing to finish trimming the grass my husband mowed yesterday. I’ll try to do a bunch of bug spraying and weed spraying tomorrow.

Now I’m looking forward to taking my cup of coffee into the living room, stretching out in my recliner with my “Creation in Death” Eve Dallas book. I’m having such a good time re-reading the 45 books in the series by J.D. Robb/Nora Roberts before I read # 46 “Dark in Death” that came out recently in paperback. (Number 47 “Leverage in Death” will be out in paperback in December of this year. I’ve pre-ordered it. )


Filed under Challenges, Changes, exercise

Coloring in the Lines?

Khaled Hosseini via

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Filed under Challenges, Family, Favorite Quotes


I’m a wimp.

Years ago, when my good friend Debbye was dying of recurrent breast cancer, I watched her doing some watercolors in her bed. I told her, “I wish I could do that.” She got angry with me – the only time EVER – saying, “What are you waiting for? What is your excuse? YOU have time. YOU can practice. YOU can learn. What difference does it make if what you do never makes it off of your own refrigerator door? JUST DO IT!” 

I answered her challenge by starting my own website, Creative Artworks, with the good help of my son, who designed my website. I had only my own stuff on there, but then learned I could add the work of others without increasing my costs – just my own labor. I ran the website for about 17 years, met wonderful people from all over the world, some of whom became good friends. It was a wonderful experience. I shut down the website last year because it was time and I still have my own work on Etsy and ArtFire.

Now I’m trying to learn something new. I’m trying to learn to paint more realistic fur and feathers on my drawings. I’m using a tracing board to do the drawings, since trying to draw animals and birds free-hand is intimidating, too. I now have a group of drawings, some my own, others traced from a book called, Keys to Painting Fur & Feathers, some traced from images I found on the net.

Now it’s time to actually add the fur or feathers and I’m finding that, again, I’m my own worst enemy. I keep finding another drawing to add to the mix. I keep re-reading parts of the book. I continue to look at the drawings…

I’m thinking of Debbye today as I try to gather myself and get started. I’m trying to fight feelings of inadequacy. I know my drawings won’t end up like what I’m trying to emulate. I see Debbye’s face as she sits on the bed challenging me. “What difference does it make if these never make it out of my sketch book? I don’t have to show these to anybody EVER. I can ball them up and throw them away.  WHY am I procrastinating?

I’ve decided to start with colored pencils, just doing a light color block on a drawing, with the idea of refining it over and over until it’s as good as I can make it right now. I can always do another tracing and do it again. Maybe this will get me started – TODAY.

Wish me luck?

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Closet Purge/Reorganization Project Finished

I have now finished going through my closet with my hot weather clothes, all my shoes, purses, scarves, etc. For me, this is good. Before, my shoes were all over the floor, for example. To the right of the shelves you can see my scarves and a hint of my purses.


My shoes are actually in the shelves for shoes now!


Casual tops are on the top. Dressier (as far as I GET dressier) on the bottom.)

I’ve tried everything on and have brought a LOT of stuff downstairs and dumped it in the foyer corner until I start listing and bagging things for donation to the Veterans Thrift Store in Fort Smith. THAT’S for another day, though.

I’m going to go put my feet up and dive into another book. :0)

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Filed under Challenges, giving, Housekeeping - Maintenance, I'm a slob, Lewis projects, Organizing/DeCluttering

Quarterly Progress Report

My husband and I went for our quarterly checkup by our primary doctor this afternoon. We got blood tests last week and were hopeful that we would see some changes for the better.

I’ve told you my husband is a Type II Diabetic. His A1C last quarter was 7.6. (This was down a bunch from his original count of 16+, but still wasn’t normal.)  Today it was 6.2 (the goal for diabetics is <7). HOOORAAAAAAY!  We had essentially given up ever getting a normal reading again, and were just concentrating on eating right and getting the numbers as low as we could. We practically danced around the room!

The big difference in my numbers was in Lipid Profile (Fats in the blood, I think)

  • Cholesterol was down 107 points
  • LDL down 57 points
  • Non-HDL down 70 points
  • Triglycerides down 61 points

She said that since my husband and I are essentially eating the same foods, my exercise was the cause of my improved numbers!

She was so pleased she said I could wait to come back for SIX months. I’ve been going quarterly for YEARS, so this was super good news. If my husband keeps his good numbers in November, HE can go to every six months, too!

Tonight we’re going bowling with our good friends and having our FLEX snack for the week, a scoop of  ice cream from Braum’s. We celebrated by having a FLEX lunch, as well, enjoying a couple of pieces of fried fish from our local grocery deli. We haven’t had that for almost five months now, so it was a joyous celebration, even though we’re supposed to spread the flex meals out – one per day.

We knew we had lost weight.  We knew we had lost inches (though my husband won’t measure, he’s losing his tummy)

It was wonderful to have the doctor confirm with objective numbers that we’re improving our health. She said, as we were leaving, “I wish all my patients took an active interest in their health and worked as hard as you two have.”

A wonderful pat on the head! :0)

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Filed under Cause for Celebration, Challenges, Changes, DIET!, exercise, getting the lard off, Healthy Eating, quality of life, taking care of yourself

Fur & Feathers Project

I pretty much have the drawings I want in order to practice painting fur and feathers that look more realistic than I’m able to do now. I have most of my drawings done with the help of my new toy, a 4 LED Tracing Board, which allows me to trace most anything that fits on the board. I then transfer the tracings to my sketch book using carbon paper. Then I can concentrate on studying the Keys to Painting Fur & Feathers, edited by Rachel Rubin Wolf.

Kingfisher and Parrot are previous drawings of mine that I retraced in order to do what I hope will be a better job this time.


Amber and Molly are our doggies. I traced these from photos I took of them.


Our cat, Abby, is typically on her back or on her side, as in this picture, thinking deep thoughts.


Smoke is a much more active cat, always about to leap from one place to the next.

The bear is a drawing by Claudia Nice in the Fur & Feathers book, borrowed to try to learn to add the fur.


The last two birds I found on the net and traced.

I’m studying the book, trying to absorb enough to get started. I think I’ll try to work in colored pencils first, so I’ll particularly study that section of the book. I’m having SUCH a good time with this. I love learning new techniques!

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Filed under Challenges, doing what you love, learning new things

Amber is Lifting Weights

I just went outside to see if I could get the texting on my cell phone to work. It’s been on the fritz for a couple of days now. I think I’ll call AT&T tomorrow to see if bringing my phone in to them would do any good.

Meanwhile, when I was on the front porch I saw one of my dumb bells in the front yard. It seems that Amber has decided to work on her arms some…

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Filed under Amazing Animals, Challenges, Family

Long-Term Goals


I’m about to hit another milestone in trying to get the lard off – almost 20 pounds gone. I’ve lost almost 19 inches overall.

A good friend asked me what the next goal was – and I immediately responded, “40 pounds off.”

But that’s not really what my long-term goals are.

One quote I love says, “Old age is always 15 years older than you are.”  

I don’t want to live forever, but I would really like to feel good enough to do most anything I would like to do until I croak. Since they haven’t come up with pills that do it for you, it’s up to ME to try to

  • get my excess lard off
  • exercise to strengthen my muscles and bones
  • do whatever else I can to become/stay as healthy as I can

I don’t really know how much weight I want to lose. I would like to be in the normal range according to BMI charts. If I keep on keepin’ on, eventually I’ll get there. I’ll see how I feel when I get there and then make more decisions. I have high blood pressure that is now finally reading normal WITH medication. I would love it if I can one day stop these. I would like my blood test numbers to be all in the ‘normal’ range one day. (I never really appreciated what a delicious word “normal” is before. We’ll see the fruits of my efforts so far at our quarterly appointment with our primary doctor Monday.)

After better health, it would be really nice not to have to avoid clothing stores that don’t carry clothes large enough for me, having to head for the ‘fat lady section’ in the limited stores that do. It’s not really a vanity thing. It’s emotional. I would like to be able to choose something I like off the rack and know it should FIT, but only to be concerned if I like the way I look in it. When I have to avoid stores altogether, or have to only be concerned about it being ‘large enough,’ it chips away at my feelings of self worth. I will enjoy feeling much better about myself.

SO –

  1. Good health
  2. Feeling normal about finding clothes without taking a hit emotionally.

Anything else is gravy.

First short-term goal is getting the 20 off officially so that I can get another ‘bear’ from Nutrisystem – hopefully in our next order!

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Filed under Challenges, DIET!, exercise, Favorite Quotes, getting the lard off, Healthy Eating, opportunities, quality of life, taking care of yourself

The Dog Ate My Homework…

Amber is a big lab with small brain – at least, that’s how it seems to US sometimes. I can’t say much for her owners, either, though, because we SHOULD be smart enough to stay ahead of her.

The latest challenge happened this morning. I was in the kitchen cleaning up from breakfast when I heard the distinct sound of her tearing something up. I hurried into the living room to find her chewing up my sandal!

The fact that she had access to my sandals is MY fault. I love to toe off my shoes any time I’m in my chair. If I get up, I slide into my sandals. They have bumps on the inner soles that stimulate my feet and feel good. I’ve gotten lazy, since she has shown no interest in them, leaving them on the floor beside my chair. Apparently, today was the day she WAS interested and decided to chew one up.



I showed her in no uncertain terms that I didn’t appreciate her eating my shoe when there were wonderful toys to play with here and there all over the place. She looked contrite for about 5 seconds, then bounded across the floor to get one of the ”TOYS” I was talking about.

I THINK I might be able to still wear this. I shouldn’t have been careless, but I really didn’t need this regression in Amber’s training this morning.

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Filed under Attitude, Challenges, Favorite Quotes

Bug Busting


I told you yesterday that a scorpion casually waltzed up from the drain hole in the sink and mooned me night before last while I was sleepily washing my face getting ready for bed.

I won’t have it! Today I’m concentrating on the second floor, getting stuff up off the floor, vacuuming thoroughly, and then spraying all around the baseboards, windows and doorways with our good bug sprayer. One of the bug companies years ago said, “The only good bug is a dead bug.” I basically agree – emotionally – since I know that bugs are good for something in our ecology. I just don’t want them to be good for the ecology in my house!

We’re in the awkward stage for the commercial bug sprayers to come back here. They spray, and for two weeks afterwards, if you see a live bug, you call and they’ll come back and spray again at no extra charge. We’re about halfway between the no charge respray and them coming again for the contracted quarterly treatment. I’m trying not to have to pay an extra charge, if I can knock these out myself in-between.

So far, I’ve finished our master bedroom and the master bath, plus our two closets. I’ll rest a bit and then go up and tackle the next section.  Hopefully, I’ll finish the second floor before the end of the day.

I hope it’s not buggy where you are.

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Filed under Arkansas, Challenges, Greenwood, Housekeeping - Maintenance


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I Did It!


I’ve been trying to do two things each day: my yoga stretches and the 0-6 Pack Abs DVD abdominal exercises.

I did the twelve exercises on the DVD first, then rested a bit on my mat before starting my yoga stretches. I use a really good cervical pillow that my massage therapist showed me that allows me to really relax – after concentrating hard.

I went through my routine, slowly stretching, breathing into the positions and trying to get my poor stiff body to let go. I ended it with simply bending over with my arms hanging down. And that’s when it happened. I felt my body letting go, letting go, and I TOUCHED THE FLOOR WITH MY FINGERTIPS!

You may not think this is all that great, but for an old broad who couldn’t lie on her back and put her arms over her head onto the floor at ALL, and then, for a long time, without causing spasms in her back, this is HUGE!

I can’t remember the last time I bent over and touched the floor. I’ve been bending over, trying to relax, trying to breathe into it, with my fingertips about 6 inches or so from the floor for a really, really long time. The yoga DVD instructor, Cat Kabira, said that even if we couldn’t really get into the position, if we tried as much as we could and held it, trying to breathe into it, eventually our bodies would give. I think she’s a wonderful teacher, but I really didn’t believe I would EVER touch the floor.

I’m beyond happy. I’m making progress!

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Filed under Challenges, exercise

Armoring Up

I WISH our flower planters look like this. I’ve been trying to weed the three 8-foot brick flower planters that follow the slope of our front yard between our grass and the driveway. My rewards for my efforts a couple of days ago was another red wasp sting and an ugly bruise on the back of my hand I received while flailing around trying to get the wasp off me.

I’ve been resting and avoiding the yard since then, trying to get the swelling in my arm to go down and the pain to subside. After two days of feeling sorry for myself, I’m finally over the hump on pain and swelling, both on the back of my hand and my arm. I think in another day or two I’ll be back in fighting form.

When I do go back out there, I’m going to armor up. I’m going to start wearing an old long-sleeved dress shirt of my husband’s that I’ll designate as my ‘gardening shirt.’ I’ll wear my jeans, long socks, and my gardening gloves. It it’s really sunny and hot, I’ll wear my funny-looking hat. Needless to say, I’ll be quite a sight, but MAYBE I can do what I’d like to do without getting injured.

The first thing I’ll do is arm myself with a can of the spray that knocks wasps out of the air and kills them on contact, or at least knocks them down where I can squash them. No more Mr. Nice Guy around here. I realize that wasps serve a good purpose or two, but they are hereby on notice to do their good work somewhere else! I’ll also have my canister of EIGHT bug killer and will hose down the area again before I get close. I’ll take our metal yard art peacock out of the planter (maybe even ripping it out and throwing it into the yard) – in case the wasps have built a nest in it. I’ll also hose down the palette of bricks stacked next to the brick planter because the wasps may have built a nest in there, as well.

Thankfully, we’re getting some rain on and off this weekend, so I can heal up a bit more before I tackle this.  Once I feel a bit safer – armed and armored –  I’ll start trying to weed again….

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Whining Zone

One red wasp and I’m a mess – AGAIN. Last year I could say I had never been stung by anything – ever. Since then I’ve been stung by red wasps three times and a scorpion once. I can tell you I’m a very unhappy camper right now.

I have two small, deep circular bruises on the back of my hand where I bashed it against a palette of bricks flailing around trying to get the wasp off me. Surrounding those two and encompassing about half of the back of my hand is a lighter, swollen bruise. My arm is swollen all around the inside of my right elbow and very pink. In the center is a ‘head’ where the stinger went in.

The pain was such yesterday that I tried a bit of everything last night trying to get it to stop. I finally rolled on PainStop because that kind of deadens the nerve endings – I think – and makes other hurts hurt less. I had already put ice on it. I had also held a tissue with bleach on it. I took two Benedryl. I finally put Cortisone 10 on it, and that allowed me to get a bit of sleep, though I was awake several times last night. It’s still quite pink and sore to the touch, but just a bit itchy, so I guess that’s a good sign.

The weeds in the flower planters will have free rein until the swelling goes down. They’ll probably thumb their noses at me – with the remaining wasps in the area joining the chorus – as we drive by to go to Brunch Bunch this morning.


Filed under Challenges, Gardening

Abdominal Exercises


I tried the new abdominal exercises DVD called, “0-6 Pack Abs” yesterday. It’s good for everyone, but especially for pear-shaped old broads like me who really need to build the LATERAL core muscles. There are 12 positions that are put together to make up 4 exercise routines in Phase I. Once I master these, I can move to the next group, hopefully getting stronger as I go. They emphasize that once I get to the 4th group, I should continue the the 4th workout at least once a week in order to keep my core strong.  I have the DVD so that I can listen to and see what I’m supposed to be doing, plus a book with pictures for reference.

What I wish is that I could afford to go to California where the doctor who created the DVD is, so I could make sure I’m doing the positions correctly. Not being able to do that, I’m going to go slowly, reviewing the 12 positions, listening and watching carefully, trying to do what they’re telling me. The way I’m breathing and holding holding stomach muscles while I move is key.

I’m hopeful that I can make this work for me. I’ve done sit ups and crunches in the past. The result is that I achieve only a backache and aching neck and still have a belly. These exercises in combination with my yoga stretching, in combination with other stuff during the week should help me get stronger.

Other things I’m planning to add in some combination to the every day abdominal exercises and yoga are

  • my elliptical trainer or
  • “Annoying Leslie” walking DVD or
  • and another DVD, called, “5 Minutes to Look Younger – Anti-Aging Follow-Along Workout” that promises to make me look and move like Julia Roberts (just kidding).  and
  • I have a pedometer in my pocket that encourages me to walk more
  • I’m using an over-the-door shoulder pulley system that is supposed to help with my neck and back pain
  • I’m doing an exercise with a 3-lb weight for the same

Otherwise, I’m doing short sessions of yard work in the yard or in my garden, trying to go through my house to get rid of more things (that necessitates a lot of bending, hauling, cleaning, reorganizing), and just downright cleaning (mopping, vacuuming, etc.

Along with my Nutrisystem plan to make sure I’m eating healthy, I’m hopeful that in time I can shed the pain and embrace doing more, relishing it, rather than ever taking it for granted again.

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Filed under Challenges, exercise, quality of life, taking care of yourself

Pet Peeves – Short Rant

I’ve told you that my husband and I are trying to get the lard off and get healthier with the Nutrisystem program. We did this years ago, quitting because my husband was able to order fewer and fewer things he liked due to NS discontinuing his favorites. It’s happening again! :0(

Yesterday I spent a LOT of time contacting NS via email and then chat, trying to find out when the BBQ Pulled Pork lunch would be back in stock. They finally told me that it had been discontinued.

On the website on our previous order, it had said something similar to, “Due to high demand and popularity of this item, it is temporarily out of stock.” To find out this month that it has been discontinued was almost a deal breaker for my husband. He isn’t the most flexible person and doesn’t adapt well. We had a tense hour or so while we tried to figure out what to do. He doesn’t care for many of the lunch choices, so he wanted to eat the alternative “BBQ Seasoned Chicken” for lunch AND dinner. It’s only offered for dinner. We finally decided to order only 4 items for his lunches, order other choices for me to use to make flex meals for us, and then order 20 a la carte BBQ Seasoned Chicken items (having to pay extra) and order a bunch as part of his dinner items, as well. WHEW!

The discontinuing of an item that is out of stock ‘due to high demand and popularity’ doesn’t ring true for me. That seems like stupid business – plus you’re teeing off your customers. I would think a company as large as Nutrisystem could either make a deal with the current supplier, find another supplier who makes this, or figure out a way to make it themselves.

The NS program is expensive, but worth it when you’re trying to make a lifestyle change. To have to buy a la carte because my husband has tried, but doesn’t like a lot of the lunch items is really frustrating.

I will try to contact someone there who might be able to do something about this. I really want to stay on the program. Just a couple of weeks ago, my husband was saying he didn’t see why we couldn’t stay on NS essentially forever – but this was before his choices were being discontinued.


Madeleine Jacobs

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Filed under Challenges, DIET!, Pet Peeves


Dieting is never easy, but some things really complicate our efforts.

We are on the Nutrisystem programs. I’m on the one with most choices for women with too much lard and my husband is on the diabetic men’s program.

We were going along just fine until this past order. The BBQ Pulled Pork that my husband REALLY likes for lunch wasn’t available. He doesn’t handle this well. In fact, when we tried Nutrisystem several years ago, he (and then I) quit because they kept narrowing his choices until he gave up in a huff. This is like an instant replay.

I spent a lot of time on CHAT today trying to find out if and when BBQ Pulled Pork would be available again. Bottom line after lots of time the answer was “it won’t be.” Needless to say, that didn’t go over well with my husband. We explored various options – him huffing and puffing all the while – and finally decided to order an A LA CARTE addition to our next order for him so that he can eat the substituted BBQ Seasoned Chicken that IS available for lunch or dinner as he chooses. (He’s almost to his weight goal so he doesn’t have to worry overmuch about calories, and we’re monitoring his blood sugar on a regular basis.)

I would really like to lose my lard.  An unhappy husband, though, isn’t worth it. I’m hoping that they don’t discontinue the BBQ Seasoned Chicken. If they do, that will be all she wrote. :0(

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Filed under Challenges, Changes, DIET!

Playing in My Art Room

My good friend Marsha suggested that, instead of trying to give myself PERMISSION to play in my art room, I SCHEDULE it at least twice a week as a part of a program to be better to myself. I’ve taken that suggestion and have found my spirits lifting and getting excited about trying to learn something new.

I have a book called Keys to Painting Fur & Feathers, edited by Rachel Rubin Wolf. It gives you hints about how to capture the essence of animals and birds, zeroing in on their most distinctive features in order to try to draw better pictures of them. It also addresses trying to paint realistic fur and feathers.


I decided to take a couple of my previous drawings and reproduce them, trying to concentrate on the feathers techniques.  Then I found others I’d like to try, as well. I’m trying to get a bunch of these drawings into a sketch book and then play with them, using all kinds of different media and see what I get.

I have to tell you the time flies as I ‘work’ in my art room. I turn on an mp3 player, listen to some of my favorite music in the comfort of my CLEAN, air-conditioned and ceiling-fanned room, a cup of coffee or a bottle of water beside me at the table.

I’m excited about learning a completely new skill, and I’m very thankful to have this book for examples, suggestions, and inspiration.

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Filed under Challenges, doing what you love, Encouragement, opportunities, quality of life, taking care of yourself