One man’s treasure, trashed.

Mid Century Modern Basement with Bar

photo credit: x-ray delta one via photopin cc

I went to an estate sale this morning.  I’d never been to one before, but the craigslist ad said there would be pink pyrex there.  I’m wanting a set of pink Cinderella bowls, so my husband and I went to breakfast then stood in line for the sale.

It was a small mid-century house, which had never been remodeled or redecorated.  So it was filled with mid century modern furniture and decor.

We were the only people in line who were not dealers, all of whom were looking for specific types of items.

The first young lady in line has an etsy shop for vintage clothing.
The second one wanted the starburst clock.
The next several people were furniture dealers.
Then us.
Then the lady who was a pyrex dealer.  She got the only two pieces that were available.  I was looking in upper cabinets, while she was moving quickly through the lower ones, where they were.  They were casserole dishes, not the bowls I’d wanted, so I wasn’t disappointed.

The interesting part of the morning was the wait in line before the doors opened, listening to the dealers.

Some were quite pragmatic.  They tended to be the older ones.

Conversation Pit, Modern Decor

photo credit: x-ray delta one via photopin cc

The younger ones – mid to late twenties, I’d guess – were more idealistic.  They were lamenting how often older people ruined mid century furniture.  Original owners and their children committed such travesties as drilling holes to refit pieces for new technology and – gasp – painting the wood.

I just listened, amused.

I grew up in a mid century home, with mid century modern furniture.  Many of my neighbors had it, too.  When it went out of style, it was sold at garage sales, given to Goodwill, or – gasp – painted.

When my parents moved to a new colonial style house, very little of the mid-mod stuff was kept, including the starburst clock.

Mid Century Modern Living Room

photo credit: ooh_food via photopin cc

Maybe it takes a decade of adulthood to realize that there is a difference between collecting things and living with them.

Or maybe it takes becoming a parent.

When you live with your stuff, you get tired of it, or it no longer suits your needs, and you either replace it or remake it.  In the meantime, your kids bang up the tables, spill things on sofa, and leave dripping cups on everything.  It’s called life, and, yes, sometimes it ruins the furniture.

I have some old furniture, things that belonged to my grandmother, things that are not really my style but which I love anyway.  Although I wish they were in better condition, I look at them and see generations of people who cared more about their family than their stuff.

I am keeping up a fine tradition, then, even if one day collectors will turn up their noses at everything in my house.


How Many Weight Loss Rules Are There?

How many food rules can I break?Since I began the food diary two months ago, it has been hard to resist talking – and writing – about it incessantly.  I don’t think I’ve ever had to think so much about eating, so it is often on my mind.

True confession:  Left to my own devices, I’m an under-eater.

One of my dearest friends suggested this to me years ago, but I had a hard time understanding how I could be gaining weight by not eating enough.  My Fitness Pal warns me about “starvation mode,” but we’ve all seen photos of people who are truly starving.  They are not chubby like me.  I really do not believe I gained an extra thirty pounds by eating too little.

I think I gained it the modern way:  eating too much junk and too many calorie-laden restaurant meals as my metabolism was slowing down.  Under-eating some days and way over-eating others has probably been my norm for the past decade.

The first month of tracking, I lost ten pounds, most of it in the first couple weeks.  I think a fair bit of that was water retention.  Does sugar cause water retention?  I think it does, because when I cut the added sugar, my joints no longer felt swollen and achy and I dropped several pounds in a week.

(In case it isn’t obvious, I have no scientific training or medical knowledge, and nobody should take dietary advice from me.  Except my husband and children, who should.)

Then, I stopped losing weight.  I was also struggling to consume 1200 calories, much less the 1470 recommended for me, and felt miserable.  I wasn’t bothered that the scale wasn’t budging.  I was bothered that my digestive track wasn’t budging.

This is the primary reason I stopped eating meat years ago.  Apparently forcing myself to eat both eggs and yogurt every. single. day. has the same effect.  I decided to listen to my body and stop forcing myself to eat “high quality” protein.

Healthy eating is stressful.  All the best advice out there might not actually be right for any given person.  Apparently, I can only process so much protein a day, and most of it needs to come from vegetables and grains.

Sorry if that was TMI.

So, for the past two weeks I’ve been eating less animal protein and more of everything else, and I’ve lost a couple more pounds.  I’m not trying to eat low carb or low fat.  I am trying to eat 1200-1400 calories a day.

I’ve stopped trying to eat the five small meals a day that experts recommend, because it’s too much work planning that many meals.  I eat my three regular meals and, if my calorie count was low for the day, a bedtime snack.

If I crave chocolate in the afternoon, I do eat a square of dark chocolate.  If I want orange juice, I drink it, ignoring the juice-haters.  I have no forbidden foods.  I don’t deprive myself, other than relegating sweets to special occasions.  (Although I am not craving sweets, it does still feel like deprivation when I see others enjoying them.)

The nighttime snack (often cereal and milk because I need to get my calcium) helps ward off the junk food envy.  My family likes to eat chips or candy at night, and the sound of munching makes me want to crunch something, even when I am not hungry.  So a snack before bed works for me, even though I keep hearing that I should not eat at night.

I feel like the foundations of better health will be built upon breaking the rules.

At least, it will be built upon breaking expert rules, but they change their minds so often that I’m probably better off ignoring most of what they say anyway.

Joining the In Crowd.

Throughout high school, I had what teachers and administrators termed an attendance problem.  “We need to talk about your attendance problem,” they’d say, “because in the real world, you have to show up for work.”

I always thought, “But this isn’t the real world!”

Never, at any job, did I have difficulty showing up, every day, on time, and completing the tasks assigned me.  So, I was right in knowing that my work ethic would not be determined by my school attendance record.

I was also wrong.  The real world, much to my chagrin, turned out to be much more like High School than I anticipated.

The cliques, the obsessions over grades and rankings, who likes whom, the adoration of the athletic and the beautiful, the pettiness and bullying, the drinking, the name calling, the popularity contests, and the insecurity – they’re all present in the real world.

I’m glad I skipped it when I could.

As a blogger, I’m asking again:  where do I fit?  The answer, now as then, is more easily framed in the negative.

  • I am not a mommy blogger.
  • I am not a food blogger.
  • I am not a motivational blogger.
  • I am not a health blogger.
  • I am not a style blogger.
  • I am not a craft/sewing blogger.
  • I am not a political blogger.
  • I am not a social media expert blogger.
  • I am not a product review blogger.  (But, Costco, if you need one, I’m here.)

Is there a category for bloggers who write about anything that pops into their head?  A random blogger?

Recently, I joined a blogging support group:  Generation Fabulous.  They are a very encouraging and talented group of “women of a certain age.”

I am out of my league.

Being in this group is like my freshman English class in high school, where classmates were already talking about MIT and how many AP classes could be fit into the next four years while I was figuring out how few math classes were required to graduate.

Likewise, these women are going somewhere.  They are starting or running successful businesses.  They are comediennes.  They are professional writers, tackling serious (or seriously sexy) subjects.  They blog for empowerment, education, and influence.  Or at least they stay on topic.  They discuss blog views in thousands and analyze marketing strategies.

Me?  I want to make a few friends, read and comment on their blogs, have them do the same.  I have visitors in the tens and can’t back-up my phone because I forgot the password.

They want to become a market force and change the way middle aged women are perceived and defined.

I am shopping at thrift stores, hadn’t noticed I was any more or less relevant than I’d ever been, and – dare I admit – didn’t even like Hope Springs.

Even so, I’m in because this clique is all about encouraging and supporting each other, not judging or competing.  Besides, I can’t be the only voice for the middle aged underachievers of the nation.  There must be other women who never lost touch with their inner child; who don’t want reinvention, just a bit of adjustment; who are happily doing their own random thing.

If not, I guess I’ve found my unique market niche.

My Unwanted Super Power

I’ve always had a keen olfactory system, but over the past couple years, it has become my unwanted super power.  Or maybe it is my kryptonite.

Not only do I smell everything, but seemingly ordinary smells can nauseate me.  Last night, cooking dinner, I had to walk away from the stove twice because I was on the verge of gagging.

Gagging!  Until my forties, I had to be cleaning up vomit for my gag reflex to kick in.  Now, the smell of mayo can do it.

A Faded Ginger Licorice Breath

On a bad day, if my husband breathes within a six foot radius of me after eating licorice, it can trigger my gag reflex.  On a good day, he can eat it on the other end of the sofa.

My poor husband!  He thought I was joking when I first told him about the hyper-smell-reactivity, but now he asks me if it’s okay to eat near me.

Sometimes it’s not.

Smells I’ve always disliked now turn my stomach upside down.  The heavy vinaigrette my husband loves on salads will drive me out of the room, and hot dogs are revolting.  On the worst days, even foods I would eat, like scrambled eggs, have the same effect.

Carefully chosen, lightly scented candles have become kitchen necessities, because I do not like to wake to the aroma of last night’s dinner, no matter how good it was.  (I will never again buy a house lacking an exhaust fan over the stove.)

It’s not only food that offends me.  Last week, I made my husband throw away a bathroom waste bin because I could smell it from my seat on the sofa.  Through a closed door.  After I had thoroughly cleaned the bathroom.  I tried spraying the bin with Lysol first, but ended up with a Lysol induced headache.  So it had to go.

I refuse to go inside MicroCenter because it smells like mildew.  My husband and daughter insist it doesn’t, but I doubt they would notice the stench of old dishrags or sponges either.  (I change my kitchen linens every day, so this is an untested theory.)

I slipped my shoes off in the car the other day, only to be assaulted by my own stinky socks/shoes/feet.  The shoes were quickly on again as I exclaimed, “Oh, sorry!  I didn’t know my shoes were so stinky!”  My husband hadn’t noticed.

Unfortunately, I notice and tell him that he smells all the time.

A Faded Ginger Smoking Stinks

Other people, and their houses, smell, too, but no matter the circumstances or smells, I try not to react.  If I feel gaggy, I go home where my own family gets to hear things like:

  • Did you have onions/mustard/coffee/pickles/chocolate while you were out?
  • You can’t smell that?
  • Did you buy a new shampoo/deodorant?
  • Where did you wash your hands?  That soap is nice/spicy/perfume-y.
  • I can smell you from way over here.  You need a shower.
  • Please wash that pan; it’s stinking up the whole house.
  • Prop the door open so the washer doesn’t get stinky!
  • You smell like sunshine and dirt.  (That one is a compliment.)
  • Do I smell like bacon/garlic/smoke/curry to you?
  • How can diesel be clean when it nauseates me?
  • Put that in a ziploc and then in a container so it doesn’t stink up the fridge.
  • Your room smells.  Open the window for a bit.
  • That blanket smells like dogs.
  • Why does it smell like old cardboard in here?
  • Please brush your teeth.
  • The air smells like creosote today.

Most days I feel worse for my family than I do for myself, and my husband takes the brunt of it.  I must annoy the bejeebers out of him, but to his credit, he puts up with this new kind of weirdness.  He often laughs, but he rarely complains.

Who knows what to think about mammograms?

Over the past five years I’ve had eight sets of mammograms.

Why so many?

The first three of those years, after the screenings, I was called back for diagnostic mammograms.   Those target specific areas.  Since the compression is targeted, and seems higher, they hurt, really hurt.  The last time, the tech thanked me for not crying or cursing at her.  She said those are the usual responses.

The moments of pain are nothing, though, compared to the worry while you are waiting for that second appointment.  Even though I know – no, I don’t know, that is why I worry.  Even though I suspect that the extra mammo and ultrasound will reveal what I already know, that I have cysts, I still worry.

While I’m worrying, I question whether the tests are worth the anxiety they cause me.

My GP and my gynecologist, the one who just retired, never seeme to share that question.  They both embrace the mammo-every-year-after-40 policy.

I never feel fully convinced, but I don’t want to be negligent, so I go back every year for another smashogram.

I read an article the other day, that amplifies all my doubts over whether these mammograms are benefiting me.

I already thought that all the X-ray radiation to my breasts was not a good thing at all.  I spent my whole life refusing to have my teeth x-rayed  annually, but I’ve had my breasts repeatedly squashed and x-rayed over the past five years.

That doesn’t seem right, but I’m more afraid of dying from breast cancer than ending up with dentures.

However, when the New England Journal of Medicine starts saying that with mammograms, I’m more likely to be misdiagnosed and/or die anyway, then maybe I should stop the annual smash-and-worry routine.

Of course, other experts disagree.  The American Cancer Society continues to recommend annual screening starting at age 40.

I am almost resolved to discontinue the mammograms until I am 50, or at least to cutting back to every other year.  Every other year sounds like a good compromise, doesn’t it?

Then, another woman I know has a double mastectomy, and learns the cancer is already in her lymph nodes.  My resolve weakens.  I don’t know what to think.

Now is not the time to ask if she’d had annual mammograms throughout her 40’s, but I really want to know.  I want to know if she never had screenings, and if she had that the mammo would have caught the cancer earlier.  Or that she did have screenings and the radiation made it grow, even while the radiologist did not see it.

I want to know I’m making the best decision for my health.  I want easy answers, and there aren’t any.

And I am sad, so very sad, for another woman, another family that is afraid of what comes next.

Where have the old doctors gone?

Marcus Welby was on
before my bedtime.
How old can I be?

Yesterday I received a letter that my GYN has retired.  I’d only been seeing her a few years, but really liked her. She was a good listener, and believed me the first time when I told her where to find my cervix.  That sounds like a simple thing, but a lot of doctors don’t.  Exploring with a speculum hurts.

She was about fifteen years older than me, maybe, and nothing surprised her.  The two doctors who are taking over her practice look younger than me.  Judging by their photos, they are both in their thirties.

I’m not opposed to young doctors on principle, but I have not had good luck with doctors younger than myself. The last time I tried that, I ended up with lots of extra tests and appointments because the young doctor didn’t think anything I described or she felt seemed “normal.”  No, not normal for someone under 30 who has never had a baby, but for a woman in her forties, yes, it can be.  Sorry, things get messy and lumpy.  All sorts of things.

It ended badly, when she sought the opinion of an older doctor in the practice, who ended up telling her loudly in the hall that NO, you should not keep calling a patient back to re-check her breasts when multiple mammograms and ultrasounds showed NOTHING.  That SCARES patients.

I was glad I wasn’t the one who had to yell at her.

It’s not just the gynecologists and GPs.

Also, never seen an episode of Doogie Howser.
I think I had a collicky baby that year.
I’m not young, either.

The last time I was at the dentist he was trying to talk me into capping a wisdom tooth that does not hurt because he saw craze lines on the x-ray.  At my age, he thought, I should take preventative measures.   I thought I was politely declining treatment I did not yet need, and he angrily began telling me that I was foolish to dismiss the advice of an expert who had been practicing dentistry for six years.

Six whole years!  How dare I!

After he left, I asked the hygienist if he was always that aggressive.  She whispered, “No, I’ve never seen him that angry before.”

Maybe his student loans were stressing him out.

I’m only 45.  I wasn’t expecting this for another decade.  Where have all the older doctors gone?

Red Faced: the cause, not the effect, of my embarrassment

I’ve never been much for exercise. I don’t like to sweat, and I don’t know how to breathe. I know that sounds crazy, but it’s true.

I don’t breathe right. Mostly, I hold my breath. I also get confused about directions on how to breathe – when am I supposed to inhale? Should I be exhaling through my nose or mouth? I can never remember, then end up holding my breath while I think about it.  It just does not come naturally to me.

This is why I was the girl who either hyperventilated or passed out in middle school PE class every time we ran.

(The upside of passing out multiple times in PE is that you learn to feel it coming, so later, when you are pregnant, you will lean into a wall and lower yourself slowly to the ground, thus avoiding injury to you or your unborn child.)

So, I’m not a natural at exercise.  I can walk or ride a bike.

I love to ride my bike. It almost doesn’t qualify as exercise because:
1. I don’t make myself go fast.
2. It doesn’t require special breathing.
3. The wind mostly counteracts the perspiration problem.

Recently, however, I’ve developed another issue that is causing bicycling to fall into the exercise category.

My face turns bright red.

I can imagine Hitchcock’s face turning bright red.

By bright red, I mean cooked lobster. Fire engines. Stop signs.

This is almost as embarrassing as passing out in gym class.

I like to ride my bike to places. The library tops the list of places I like to go. It’s only five miles away.

It doesn’t help that there is a bit of hill just before the library, which means I’m also slightly out of breath when I get there.  Maybe more than slightly. There is not a lot of oxygen where I live, and remember I don’t breathe correctly.

The last time I went to the library, because my face was bright red and I was feeling the lack of oxygen, I decided I would sit on the comfy chairs while I cooled off. I was hoping to go unnoticed. No such luck.

This man just stood and STARED at me. I know I looked bad, but really? Move along, mister. I’m not a freak show.

I was waiting for him to ask if I was okay, or offer to call 911, so I could say I’m fine, but he just continued to stand there and stare.

I couldn’t take it. It was almost as bad as hyperventilating into a paper bag while classmates stared in horror.

I went to the ladies’ room to put a wet towel on my forehead.  That’s when I learned that eco friendly towels disintegrate when wet. I splashed some water on my face and went back out, face now bright red and dripping wet, checked out my books, avoided eye contact with everyone, and left.

How can I age gracefully when my body won’t cooperate?

Does this state make me look fat?

I live in the thinnest state in America, or rather, the least obese state, according the CDC.  Curious?  Go ahead and look up your state.  I’ll wait.


Don’t feel bad.  Your state might be fatter because all the thin people moved here.  Not the ones who look like supermodels, the ones you suspect are anorexic.  They probably moved to NY or LA.  The ones who moved here are muscular and fit and burn so many calories that they feel no shame in downing super sized meals that I have never once eaten.  Competitive athleticism is a major draw for the area.  There are triathlons for preschoolers, and 5ks are the most popular fundraisers.

I’m not thin.  I’m not obese, either.  I’m overweight:  above my ideal, but not considered a medical problem.   However, living where I do, I feel huge.  Most places I go, I am the largest woman present.

In contrast, in my home state, with a 27% obesity rate, I look about like most of the other women my age:  flappy arms, a bit of a belly, and a sagging neck.  There, I don’t stand out.  Here, I feel like an eyesore.

Ironically, I gained a good part of my chub since moving here, because, thin state or not, I hit middle age.  Or it hit me.  Hard.  When I was young, I could skip lunch for a few days and drop five pounds.  Now, my metabolism shuts down if I even think of skipping a meal.  Or if I don’t.  Doesn’t matter.  It’s not what it used to be.

Not gaining feels like a win at this stage.  Eating less, exercising more, and neither losing nor gaining is about as good as it gets these days.

I see articles and books which promise I can dress to look thin, but when you are surrounded by people whose idea of fun is eight hours biking up a mountain or training for a marathon, vertical lines and dark colours are not enough.   I’ll still look (and be) bigger than the 30something who spends two hours a day in the gym and wears yoga pants everywhere to make sure everyone sees the results.

Next time, I’m moving to a fat state.

Generation Spanx?

That was the first name I considered for this blog. It seems to describe my stage of life. I decided against it because I’m pretty sure the people at Spanx want in no way to be associated with me. They might even voice their objections, causing me to have to think of another name. So why not just avoid what might turn into a lawsuit? (Besides, I almost never wear Spanx, even though they do work a neat trick.)

This is Karen Gillan, a tall, redheaded actress. Other than height and hair, we look nothing alike. Not even when I was young was I so beautiful.

So here I am, A Faded Ginger. That is true. My hair faded to nondescript not-quite-brown after I had my sons, which was over twenty years ago. Over twenty years ago. I had to repeat that so it could sink in. I am a mom, but not a mommyblogger. Not in the sense of talking about the antics of adorable children. No, my youngest, my only girl, is fourteen. My mantra is, “Nobody is at their best at fourteen.” Last year my mantra was, “Nobody is at their best at thirteen. My sons are in their twenties. Any stories I might will share about them will be more about my ineptitude than their adorability.

Back to my hair. I am like someone who, because she was blonde as a child, thinks of herself as blonde for the rest of their life. Miss Clairol might help. I’m like that, but a redhead who does not dye her hair. Yet. The fact that employees at the DMV argue with me when I list my hair as red means nothing. The lighting is horrible in those places. I’m still a ginger, albeit a faded one.

I am trying not to fade away in other aspects of my life, though. I’m trying to embrace this new stage of my life, and enjoy it as much as I did the last. I don’t find myself all that interesting, but I hope you do. I hope that someone, somewhere, reads this and thinks, “See! It’s not just me!” That is why I’m writing – to you, for me – about being middle aged, full of faults, and happy.