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Monthly Archives: January 2015

I Hate January

diet-and-appetiteAh, January is here again, raising its ugly head, looking us in the eye, and proclaiming, “You must change your ways…especially your ways of consumption, you gluttonous, over-indulgent, holiday-party-people!” This first month of the new year smacked me upside the head last night as I sat at a cool new downtown restaurant for my supper club’s annual dinner out. Usually, we cook and serve our monthly meals in a member’s home, but every January, we go to a restaurant, supposedly for a relaxing respite from the hustle and bustle of our kitchens and all the time we’ve spent in them in the weeks since Thanksgiving. This particular January event turned out to be a rather sobering one. As we got settled around the table, and I reached for the cocktail menu, one girlfriend announced, “Just so everyone knows, I started a new diet yesterday and will not be drinking.” Waah-waah. Another quickly followed with, “I’m on a cleanse right now.” Well, I “cleansed” last week for a colonoscopy, but thank God that’s over and done with. “Bartender! I’ll have an old-fashioned,” I practically shouted in defiance. Luckily, another couple of friends ordered glasses of wine, then our last member arrived and began discussing the joys of her new Magic Bullet juicer, that can handle spinach, kale, and even broccoli. I was beginning to wish for a magic bullet of a different kind…just then, the waitress, in a conspiratorial tone, leaned over and whispered to me, “I can tell it’s January.” “Yeah,” I meekly acknowledged, starting to feel slightly guilty as I sipped my cocktail. The bread basket arrived, along with a big slab of perfect butter. I glanced at my friends, then back at the basket. No one moved. I boldly grabbed a warm roll, slathered it with butter and ate the whole thing right in front of them, while they looked at me like I was possessed by the devil. “More water?” the kind server asked my girlfriends. Soon, the food arrived, and copious sharing of salads and fresh seafood ensued. I caught one of my pals yawning and, unfortunately, I broke another resolution and spoke before thinking, “You’re no fun when you’re dieting.” I felt bad when she apologized all the way home.

Full disclosure, I’d just read a book that very afternoon entitled, “Strong is the New Skinny,” loaned to me awhile ago by a friend. It had been sitting quietly on my night stand for weeks until January arrived and forced me to open it. Its authors are fitness trainers and consultants with Weight Watchers, and it was interesting, although not exactly revelatory, combining nutritional info with exercises to help one achieve a strong, lean bod, rather than one that is merely skinny. I was inspired for a few hours, until faced with a craft cocktail menu at a fun restaurant. So, I awoke this morning, feeling a bit remorseful about indulging in the bread and the bourbon, but realizing today was another chance to try, try again. With firm resolve, I headed straight to an exercise class. On the way home, I turned on NPR, and heard author Mimi Sheraton, former New York Times restaurant critic, talking about her new book “1,000 Foods to Eat Before You Die.” Now, we’re talking! She stated that her book chronicles her 60 years of traveling the world, and highlights some of her favorite meals, such as linguine and clams in Italy, and potato pancakes and applesauce in New York. The host laughingly said she even included her favorite hot dogs, hamburgers, fried eggs and popcorn!  This got me to thinking, how are we supposed to enjoy all these delicious foods in our short lifetimes if we are constantly cleansing, cutting carbs, drinking gallons of water, and considering almond butter on a rice cake a truly indulgent mid-afternoon snack? Then I remembered one of my mother’s mantras, “All things in moderation.” Right! I’m rushing out now to buy this book. After all, there are only 11 days left in January.

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Middle-Aged Skiing

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10898237_10205596464255268_6016397958861288518_n   I just returned from a ski trip with two of my daughters and one of my nieces. I’m amazed that they put up with me for six days and five nights, and I am oh so grateful for the fun times we shared. Our plane took off on the Saturday after New Year’s, destination: Santa Fe, New Mexico, where these girls have grown up vacationing, learning to ski at Chipmunk Corner. We knew it would be a good trip when, at our first stop at a Wendy’s in Albuquerque, we donated to one of Dave Thomas’ causes and scored key chains, good for free frosties for a year! After that, we headed straight for the home of Walter White, of Breaking Bad fame. We found ourselves in a small neighborhood with a couple of cars parked out front of a nondescript house, and several people  standing in the middle of the street taking selfies. My girls acted as if they’d found a long lost friend, and pulled out their iPhones. Such is the attraction of Mr. White, the high school chemistry teacher-turned-meth-cooker. On to Santa Fe, to a beautiful home away from home, which we discovered on VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner).

Sunday morning we slept in, then made our way to the Cathedral  for noon Mass, celebrating the Feast of the Three Kings. The church was beautiful, still decorated for the Christmas season with trees and wreaths, and I was happy to be reminded that we were still in the midst of the twelve days of Christmas. Unfortunately, I got the giggles when the cantor hit a sour note, and my shoulders shook through the rest of the service. After Mass, we headed for a Santa Fe fave, the Plaza Cafe. It is an unassuming restaurant across from the city plaza, which is owned by a Greek family. The menu includes delicious, authentic gyros as well as New Mexican enchiladas, complete with Christmas sauce, (red and green chiles), and is typically topped off with lighter-than-air sopapillas served with local honey. At the end of our delicious lunch, my eldest suddenly looked at me and said, “I feel horrible; I think I have the flu.” I dropped her off at an emergency medical clinic where she spent the afternoon. I started driving around in circles, wondering what to do. Finally, I went home and set out for a long walk. A few hours later, my daughter had antibiotics on board, was assured she didn’t have the flu, and was happy to join us for dinner. I, having done my research, suggested a gastro-pub that served various ciders, a favorite of my eldest. My daughter, feeling better by now, ordered a plate of pork rinds for us to share, and a large apple cider. We were all laughing and enjoying ourselves when she looked at me and said, “Excuse me. I’ll be in the car.” Then my niece asked, “Does anyone have any Pepto-bismol?” I felt like we were in a scene from the movie, “Bridesmaids.” I quickly asked for the check and we all headed for the car.

The next morning, after a good night’s rest, everyone felt better and we hit the slopes. Timidly, we started on the green runs. By lunchtime, we tackled a few blues, and by 3:00 we hit our first black and we felt good. In fact, we were awesome! We skied down to Totemoff’s, the mid-mountain bar, and celebrated our successes with a couple of hot buttered rums, along with two hot chocolates topped with lots of fluffy whipped cream, for those under-age. The four of us were enjoying our rocky mountain highs when we took our last run down the mountain and headed to our car.  That night we took it easy, ate in, and turned in early. Another big ski day awaited.

Day 2: We headed for the top of the mountain and started with the black run we’d done the afternoon before. Slipping and sliding, we somehow made it to the bottom. “That was icy,” said my daughter. “I didn’t feel as good today,” I replied. We decided to head for the top of the mountain, which was closed yesterday due to high winds. We all had a great run and agreed that we wanted a re-do. Heading for the lift, we had to take a narrow trail that was quickly becoming slushy in the mid-day sun. Suddenly, I saw my youngest, as if in slow motion, take a hard fall, bouncing off the snow on her chin. I skied toward her and when she looked at me, I saw blood on her face. “My nose is bleeding,” she cried, looking panicked. No, it was her lip.  We headed for the bar where there was a restroom to fully check out the damage. We agreed to meet my eldest daughter and my niece for lunch in half an hour. I applied ice to her lip, and we both started feeling better while sharing the most delicious pile of cheesy nachos. “Here they come,” my daughter announced. Looking toward the mountain, I saw the two of them. They had their arms raised, ski poles crossed and were yelling, “Yahoo,” like two hillbillies. “Did you see us,” they asked, excitedly. “No, but I heard you,” I replied. “We did moguls and wiped out,” they laughed. Hmmm. I wouldn’t have enjoyed that as much as they seemed to. After lunch, we hit the slopes again and I suddenly felt tight. “WHOA!” I found myself doing the splits on a run I’d found easy just 24 hours before. Suddenly I was looking up at the beautiful blue New Mexican sky, when a large shape blocked the sun. It was a skier wearing an OU sweatshirt. “I’m okay,” I quickly stated, and he moved on. However, it took me a good 15 minutes to collect my poles and right myself. I felt exhausted with the effort, and spent the remainder of the afternoon over-thinking my every move. “Look ahead. Shift your weight. Keep your balance. Where is everyone else? How late is the bar open? CONCENTRATE!” How does this happen? One day everything comes naturally, and the next, it takes everything I’ve got to keep myself upright. Soon, I found my girls again and we agreed to call it a day. Hot buttered rum to the rescue!

The third and final day dawned, and the morning was beautiful, snow glistening, diamond-like, under the lift. I couldn’t wait to get going. I hopped off the lift and felt the chair nudge me in the butt. Hmm.  I took off toward the left on a favorite run, and all I could hear was “crunch, crunch, crunch.” Was it this icy yesterday? Something just wasn’t right. Each time I turned, my skis slid a little more and I felt unsteady. Parts of the run were covered in shade and I couldn’t see well. My right knee twinged with a sharp shot of pain, and I tried to shift my weight, nearly losing my balance. “Come on,” I told myself, “Quietly go,” repeating the words spoken to me by my Australian friend, years ago, who was patiently urging me down the mountain on one of my first attempts at skiing. Left, shift to the right, shift to the left, slide, faster, faster, oh no, am I still in control, turn, turn, SNOWBOARDER, hard turn, merging lanes, slow down, slow down, people, more people, where are the girls, there’s the restaurant, need to go right, shift weight hard to the left, avoid all those people taking off their skis, turn right and….pizza wedge to a stop. Whew! What’s for lunch?! I think I’m done. Til next year!