Monday, October 08, 2012

Weight Loss--Finally!

In my final December post, I mentioned that I intended to lose ten pounds by the end of January. I'm happy to report that I did, and have gone on to lose about twenty more pounds. In all, I've gone from weight hovering near 170 poundds to weight hovering near 140. I haven't been this "light" in years.

All is not perfect. I have lots of skin hanging on my arms, and my big stomach never disappears no matter what. I guess this is old age. I srtill intend to lose ten moire pounds, and that's it. 125 to 130 is an ideal weight for me, and I'll have to live with the hanging skin and the big stomach. If there's a warning here, it is to lose the extra weight before the age of 79 or 80!

My diet has been mostly the Atkins high protein diet. I've varied it occasionally, and allowed myself one dessert per week and an occasional treat, but I don't eat much. For the most part, I stay out of our gourmet dining room and eat in my apartment. My physical condition doesn't allow for much exercise (more on thaat later).

To all of you struggling with weight (as I've done my whole life), I can't recommend myself as much of a role model. I can't resist good food when it's in front of me, so dieting has been a lonely operation. It suits my loner nature, fortunately. Basically, I guess my advice is to learn to eat a lot less, and exercise more, if possible.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

I'm back!

Hello! No, I've not been seriously ill (nor have I died). I've just been shut out of my blog for many months, with an indecipherable error message beyond my understanding. Now something seems to have changed, and I'm ready to try again. My 80th birthday is approaching, so I should have something to say about that. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Reflections on Christmas

Holidays can be difficult for those of us alone, with no nearby family and not a large number of friends. For the past few years, I have traveled to Texas or Oklahoma to spend Christmas with my niece and her family, and it's been wonderful. This year, due to very understandable circumstances, my niece was not able to play hostess, and my limited mobility made me decide to stay at home, here at The Clare.

Lest anyone feel sorry for me, The Clare is a fine place for the holidays: many Christmas trees, concerts and activities, special meals. My niece sent a box of gifts to open on Christmas morning, and they were very much appreciated. I exchanged Christmas cards with some old friends (not as many as in the past, but enough). I had a phone call from one nearby friend, and another came over for lunch before leaving town for her own holiday celebration.

Television provided many cheerful Christmas stories which I enjoyed. While I didnt get out much, I continued to volunteer at the Chicago Cultural Center on Thursday mornings, and was able to enjoy the decoraations and exhibits there.

I even decided to go on the Atkins diet and lose at least ten pounds by the end of January--more on that later.

We have a special New Years Eve dinner and gathering Saturday night, but I may skip those and just enjoy the coming of the new year on TV. My wants are simple, and I don't need a fattening dinner (as nearly all food here is). I'd like to see some snow: it's unusual not to have any here in Chicago yet, but I may regret this wish.

My conclusion? Things are always changing, and I've discovered that I can manage on my own very well. In sone ways it's been a lonely season, but in general, I'm doing fine. Let's hope that continues as I turn 80 next year.

To anyone who reads this: I hope your holidays brought you what you needed and wanted, especially a feeling of peace.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Freedom of Speech

I attended a presentation by a semi-retired federal judge who lives in our building on the subject of the First Amendment, or freedom of speech. Of course I believe in this freedom, and yet it occurred to me that I have often had doubts about it. What about the "Occupy Wall Street" protesters and their offshoots in Chicago and elsehere? Where do their rights stop and the rights of ordinary pedestrians and workers begin?

I am too old to have belonged to the protest movements of the 1960's and 1970's. In fact, I remember being "saved" on the street during a Chicago "Days of Rage" protest back then by an Abraham Lincoln look-alike when I was merely walking home. Those times were scary to me, and I've never had any desire to protest anything. Does this make me too complacent? Perhaps. Of course I see, and have seen, inequities in society, but other than writing letters, I've never felt empowered to change things much.

Another factor: I remember my late husband, who worked in one of Chicago's federal buildings, remarking that there were some protesters around his workplace. When I asked him what they were protesting, he said he didn't know. Somehow, that made me feel that protest was just an empty gesture. Is protesting just to make the protestor feel good, or does it have a more positive effect? I don't know. Aside from the civil rights marches, with their clear and just cause, I don't recall many, if any, positive results from protesting.

I admit to being old and steeped in law-and-order society (although I don't relate to any political party). While I feel a bit guilty for saying so, I guess I've always felt that protest marches and sit-ins were a waste of time. I'll always believe in individual rights and free speech, but I just don't know how they can best be implemented. Fortunately I'm not a judge, and won't have to make such decisions. With many of my peers, I can just sit back and watch, for better or worse.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Ramsey Lewis Played for My Birthday!

No, not really, but I did have the opportunity to hear one piano selection by Mr. Lewis today, my 79th birthday.

The real occasion was The Clare's "Joie de Vivre" award presentation, with Ramsey Lewis as this year's winner. The award "recognizes an outstanding senior who has experienced the Joy of Living through his artistic and educational contributions to the next generation and sharing of his talents with the people of the world."

The main entertainment was a jazz combo from the Merit School of Music, with which Lewis has been deeply involved. The pianist, bassist, drummer, and trombonist were wonderful, as, of course, was Lewis' piano solo. After a glass of white wine, I finally began to feel that birthdays aren't so bad after all.

Birthdays without family are generally days I prefer to ignore, but this year's reminded me of the big "80" coming a year from now. Now that sounds old! Getting four birthday cards and many friendly greetings helped. As luck would have it, I met a woman, the mother of a Clare resident, celebrating her 93rd birthday today as well, and she looked quite good. And a fellow resident ten years older than I celebrates tomorrow. This age thing is something to contend with, and I don't always handle it very well. Still, I'll remember this year because of Ramsey Lewis!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Rictameters Again


Guilty pleasure,
Waste of time, yet often,
When the day seems dull, I watch too
Many news shows, same old stories, Cubs games,
But still I lack the strength to break
Away and turn it off
For other things.


Favorite meal
To start the day, to wake
Energy, imagination,
Prelude to a day of actiity
Or maybe just relaxation,
Anyway the only
way to begin,

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

More Rictameters

It's been three years since my little, mostly-unread book of poetry was published (Elder Expectations: My Life in Rictameters is still available on, but from time to time I still write poems in my favorite format, the rictameter: nine unrhymed lines with two, four, six, eight, ten, eight, six, four, two lines, the first and last lines the same. At least one of my fellow Clare residents has become hooked on this form. It's amazing how much can be said in how few words.

For some reason, I've begun to think of new rictameters. They truly are addictive, so I've decided to include some here from time to time. Here are two for today:

I'm Old

I'm old.
Funny things have
Happened: gray hair, wrinkles,
Halting gait, early fatigue, to
Prove the inevitable: my time is
Running out, my future not so
Endless, bright, promising
As once I thought.
I'm old.

Bright Days

Bright days
Of golden sun
Viewed from highrise heaven,
Everything takes on a golden
Glow that makes the world seem better than on
Grayer days, when troubles, problems
Take the foreground, make me
Long for sunshine,
Bright days.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Eat Alone? Only in my Own Apartment

One of my old friends (old in time, not actual age; she's younger than I am) asked me if I went to eat at restaurants alone. The answer is no, unless I'm traveling alone by car or stranded somewhere. When I was younger, I occasionally went to a restaurant by myself, but later I began to feel too self-conscious to do so. I enjoyed the convenience of having a husband to escort me on eating-out occasions, but that ended more than ten years ago.

For one thing, I have an uncomfortable relationship with food, all of which seems to add unneeded pounds. The less I eat, the better, so a "diet" frozen dinner in my apartment is not only convenient, but satisfying. Although I live in an area full of Chicago's best restaurants, the trouble of dressing up to go to one alone doesn't appeal to me. I look forward to the very few occasions when a friend invites me to a restaurant meal, but I usually just live vicariously through the restaurant revues a fellow Clare resident provides monthly for the resident newsletter I edit. I can't afford some of those places anyway.

Living at The Clare means that three gourmet meals are available each day if I care to partake of them, but I tried breakfast and dinner and gained five pounds in a very short time--even skipping desserts and other obvious temptations. A large part of my non-refundable food allowance goes unused. The food is just too good here, and designed, I think, to keep my thinner fellow residents healthy. I eat only the Healthy Choice breakfast (an egg white omelet with vegetables, orange juice, once slice of whole wheat toast, a small bowl of fresh berries, and coffee) four days a week. The other days, I have cold whole grain cereal with skim milk. Then, on Sunday, I have brunch with three fellow residents. Sometimes it's a regular omelet or scrambled eggs with bacon; sometimes it's luncheon fare like fish with vegetables and salad (and sometimes dessert, I must admit). My lunches are usually cereal or a salad or some cheese or fruit. I do have the special holiday dinners on occasion. Those are quite spectacular.

I yearn to be one of those skinny women who seem to be able to eat anything, and perhaps if I were, I'd venture out to restaurants more often. As it is, though, my fear of food, my lack of outside eating companions, and my shyness keep me at home. It's not a bad way to live, really, for a "hermit" like me. I'm seldom hungry.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

A Return to Exercise!

Anyone who knows me knows that I've never been the athletic type. Exercise has always been a "bad word," despite my overweight and generally sedentary body. I quit the three-times-weekly exercise classes at The Clare because there were so many things I couldn't do, such as raise my arms or stand for long periods. It was too depressing. The director was very kind and non-threatening, but it just became too much. Besides, it came too soon after breakfast for me to be at my best, whatever that is.

Anyway, I had a new burst of energy, inspired by my exercise-nut brother, and decided on a new exercise program. For more than a week now, I have been going to our fitness room at 7:00 a.m. three or four days a week to use my two favorite machines (actually, the only two approved by my doctor) for fifteen minutes each. One machine is the Nu-Step (pictured above); the other is a recumbent stationary bicycle.

Excercising early in the morning suits me. I've tried afternoons, but I'm either too tired, or involved in something more interesting (even if it is a dull TV program). So far, I've had no trouble being up and ready to go by 7:00. Since I'm always up by at least 5 a.m., this schedule makes sense to me. Besides, I can be sure that the fitness center isn't crowded with both of "my" machines in use. By 7:30, I'm ready for my Healthy Choice breakfast in the Grafton dining room. Since I'm a creature of routine, I think I can keep up this schedule unless sickness or injury intervenes.

I'm sure that this amount of exercise won't end in weight loss, but it seems to be making me feel slightly more energetic. Every little bit helps, I guess. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Memories and Change

This is adapted from The Clarion, resident newsletter of The Clare at Water Tower, the place where I live. It expresses my sadness that a neighborhood restaurant is scheduled to close.

My first exposure to Bistro 110 came a few years back when a former neighbor of mine, now a suburbanite and still a teacher, invited me to celebrate my birthday. I gladly accepted, partly because I could look out the window and see the structure of The Clare gradually taking shape. That was exciting at the time; you know how long many of us had to wait.

I remember an excellent, expensive (or so it seemed to me) meal, but the only "dish" that I really remember was the Gateau “Paradis au Chocolat,” described as "A giant piece of our famous cake layered with toffee and served with caramel sauce." It's embarrassing for one with a weight problem to mention it, but this was the chocolate cake of my dreams!

I revisited the restaurant last summer, and the cake was still on the menu. I had to have it, ala mode this time! On my third and last visit, I managed to avoid looking at the dessert menu, but it's still there. Perhaps the closing of Bistro 110 will help instill better eating habits in me. Still, I'll miss it. That cake is delicious!