Food, Glorious Drug

Food and I go way back. Almost fifty years now. We’ve had a great relationship. I mean, don’t all great friendships include an all-controlling dominant half (food) and a sycophantic lickspittle (me) or, in my case lick-whatever’s-left-on-the-plate?

I have started to question that relationship in the last few years. I’ve tried to take the upper hand by counting calories, cutting out certain kinds of food colored chocolate with labels like ‘Abandon all self-control here, ye of little self-respect’. A few years ago, I started to dominate the relationship to the point where I’d lost fifty pounds, which helped my five foot three frame look more like a short pear than a cantaloupe.

I controlled intake. I exercised. It lasted a few months.

A broken foot knocked me off my fitness routine, and soon I was back on the Bernaise sauce. And the steak and asparagus. And don’t forget the garlic mashed potatoes. Oh, yeah, that’s the stuff..

Last week I had an inkling a depressive phase might be setting in when the mental call of the country store round table took on a decidedly fried sound. My day of work and deep-fried self-medication wasn’t the first over-indulgence, but as I got home feeling sick from over-eating and somehow still willing to eat more to feel ‘better’, I realized, my relationship to food was more like an addict’s to a pusher.

Yesterday, online, I caught the headline of an article in the Guardian about not just changing the relationship with food, but breaking up with it for a few weeks. By taking it out of the equation.

After read the first few paragraphs (always a good idea when making a healthcare decision) about using traditional meal-replacement shakes that have been around since the 60s and 70s to turn food from emotional balm into pure function, I knew what I have to do. I headed out the door to our favorite British-style diner for a last supper.

Okay, maybe today will be the real last supper.

But I didn’t have to read the rest of the article to know that this sounded right. I need to break up with food. I need to get the upper hand and find another, more constructive emotional outlet like writing or painting (I hear some people swear by it).

So today, like the dozens (maybe hundreds) of Sundays before every diet I’ve ever broken, might be a free-for-all (okay, it will be), but tomorrow, we’re breaking up. I’ll make sure the calorie count is sane and that a bottle of multivitamins is handy, but for the next eight weeks, food won’t be what’s for dinner or for celebration or inebriation.

Food, I’ll call you in a couple months, and if you want to be friends, things are going to have to change.

That’s No Lady

We thought we were starting with Lady Jane Grey (yes I watch too many historical dramas) and Gentleman Jim.  Well, 5 minutes after we got home, we decided our swaggering orange tabby was more of a confirmed country boy and started calling him Jim-Bob.

We still thought Jane was very ladylike as she hung back under the coffee table and curled up in cardboard boxes in the sun.

That night one of the house mice made the mistake of venturing out from behind a cupboard to steal a piece of Katy’s kibble.

A ball of grey shot across the living room and kitchen, and the mouse scampered back to his hiding place.  Little Jane was on the hunt however, and she was ready to tear apart our kitchen to get to it.

She didn’t get it, but she was in the mood for a hunt.

Everything was fair game. Bits of string, hands under blankets, feathers.  Nothing was safe.

She spotted Katy-the-Wonder-Dog’s thumping tail and crouched for the attack, but then decided she didn’t really want to hunt anymore.

For now.

When the light is right or she just feels like it, however, Lady Jane becomes a fuzzy poltergeist.  A one-woman weapon of mass distractedness.  She’s a calamity.

Which is how I suggested a better name for her might be Calamity Jane.

I wish I could say it wouldn’t help her fit into her new life at Casa Chaos better.

And Now for Something Completely Gratuituous..

Picking-My-Battles-PORN-FOR-DIETERS-WEB-Round

 

Pretty soon, we’ll be snowbound, and the seed catalogs (otherwise known as Porn for Gardeners) will start to arrive.

But this week kicks off not only celebrations of family and holy days for many religions, but a four-week orgy of eating which will hopefully be a feasible explanation for why I’ve been indulging in so much Diet Porn recently.

Of Plans, Plants, and Cigars

Blog  Plants and Cigars

I have come to believe that in many marriages there is one partner who has their head in the clouds and another who helps keep both people anchored to the ground.  Anyone who knows me knows that my head is not in clouds; it’s often in another dimension.  No one knows this better than the Big Guy, so, last night, when I casually moved the new dark green shrub to the edge of the counter as I unloaded the grocery bags, he raised an eyebrow but didn’t ask what had prompted the purchase.

The plant was just the end of a journey I had started two days ago on the first sunny afternoon since the official start of spring.  For the first time since I’d claimed my Mom-Cave at the back of the house, I minded that my cozy winter cocoon lacks a view of the impending greening of our yard.  Our house is earth-sheltered, and, while all the bedrooms and family areas look towards the forest and fields that border our yard, the bathrooms and the study are tucked into the back part of the house, which is buried under three feet of dirt.

All of this made my first thought – how could I install a window – just a tad irrational.  When I returned this dimension at five A.M. the next morning, I considered other options as I wrote.  Taking over the one unoccupied bedroom/winter laundry room isn’t feasible for the longterm (the boys are getting old enough for their own rooms).  Then I though about moving to our well-lit, but unheated, attic.  My mind churned as I mentally figured out heating and decor for the space.  The Big Guy has plans for most of that space, however, so I nixed the idea.  Then came a stroke though, sadly, not of genius.  It was the stroke I envisioned the Big Guy experiencing when I finished pitching my next plan – remodeling the upstairs and the downstairs with a workshop, study and guest-area down and family bedrooms up.

The Big Guy popped his head in as he was heading out to work, bringing me back to the ground.  I posted my posts, got the kids to school and returned to the Mom-Cave for the next 8 hours of my Work-At-Home-Job.  My 3 minute dance sessions – my latest attempt to get more movement (not exercise, just movement) – reminded me there was another advantage to working in a room without windows.  Maybe I could find a way to make it feel less claustrophobic for the summer.

I googled windowless offices.  Google gave me white offices (straight from the pages of the Neat & Childless Magazine), walls with trompe l’oeil murals, mirrors built into reclaimed windows, and plants.  I remembered the houseplant cemetery we call a forest and took closer look at the mirrors, stumbling on to a gorgeous and, most important, affordable distressed window with a mirror behind it.  I saved the page just as the Big Guy got home with the boys.

“Look at this mirror,” I said, not mentioning my other decorating ideas. “Don’t you think it would brighten up the office?”

“I guess do,” replied my husband with practiced composure. I don’t have hard scientific data on this, but it’s my suspicion that nothing strikes fear into the heart of a married man like the words, “I have an idea”.  To I decided not to reveal my endgame (however much it had shrunk), and the conversation ended.

The next afternoon, I announced I needed to get some groceries after work and headed into town.  The mirror was still in mind, but as I guided my cart through the aisles, I wandered into the nursery area.  The aroma of dozens of Easter lilies and hyacinths assaulted me. I explored, remembering the plant idea and started hunting for something that looked like it would do well in extreme shade.  A few minutes later, I emerged from a corner with a nameless plant whose directions to keep it out of sun and not overwater reassured me it might not join its predecessors in the woods as compost.

When I had the last of the groceries put away, I picked up the plant to take it to its new home in the Mom-Cave.

“What do you think?” I asked. “I just thought the room could use a little green.”  The Big Guy just nodded and got to work on the latest incarnation of his famous pasta sauce.   After +16 years of being the anchor in our marriage, he knows that a cigar may just be a cigar, but a plant is never just a plant.