Fit to Knit

There are a few material things that I take for granted. I’m pretty content as long as I have an abundant supply of coffee and paper towels. (We have toilet paper, but we don’t have napkins or tissues, so a paper towel meets all my needs from a fake plate to a stiff handkerchief.)  It’s almost always hot in southern Texas so I can’t imagine being here without air conditioning. And running water is a huge plus. I forget how much I like water until we don’t have any.

Our first winter in Texas was spent in an almost new, but not very well insulated, Class A. Our pipes froze up for a couple of weeks. As many of you know, that led to me planting myself in a variety of flower pots at Walmart,searching for the perfect fit. That flower pot catches rain/air conditioning water now which came in handy this past week when our canister blew up and we needed to pour water in the inside outhouse.

Really, though, we’ve kept that flower pot for 2 1/2 years just in case… It’s hard to find a pot to use as a pot(ty) that’s lightweight and will still hold this much weight!

We were only without water for 6 days this time. The part arrived from Florida yesterday and you would have thought we’d been waterless for a month. We were so excited we just kept grinning and turning the water on and off and on and off. Really.

The washer was surprised by the change and began frenetically blinking F-09 signals at me.

This had never happened before and pushing every button, two at a time even, didn’t calm it down. I read the manual and Heidi unplugged it. After a couple of minutes, she plugged it back in and it calmed right down.

Having a stack-able washer and dryer in this RV has been a blessing but getting to the plug-in place  is complicated. Heidi crawled into the closet and disappeared completely. You know how in Narnia, Lucy hides in the wardrobe and behind the clothes are the coats, and behind the coats there’s snow and a lamppost!?

Well, here, behind the clothes are the coats, and behind the coats you might expect snow because there are piles and plies of scarves. Heidi got pretty caught up in the knitting while trying to unplug.

I’ve covered only a portion of Heidi’s activities over the past few months. I can sum mine up as primarily being a cheery LARGE sofa pillow. I have to shake myself off every hour or two so the caliche doesn’t form a layer on my lap.

The only thing I’ve done since February, other than working my meager 10 hour night-shift and the ritual dusting of everything not breathing, is knit scarves. This is something of an ironic hobby since I live year round in Texas where no one needs scarves. It’s even odder because I don’t particularly like to knit.

I like to eat.

I like to eat when I watch TV and I really like to eat when I read.

I needed something to do with my hands that didn’t involve food. I’m too old and too poor to start smoking so, as some of you know, I sort of taught myself to knit. Just the very basics.

I can prop my Kindle on the arm of the chair and read and knit – as long as I keep it simple. I have friends who knit beautiful caps and hats and sweaters. I knit scarves. A lot of scarves.

I don’t want to count stitches because, well, then I couldn’t read. I can knit and pearl and page-turn pretty seamlessly.

The downside (other than the fact that there is zero demand for scarves in Texas) is that I’m often sitting in the near dark at night (this picture was taken in the daytime for your benefit). I usually only have a couple of pretty, but very dim, lights on.

This is what generally happens. I’ll read and knit. The bell will ring. I go out to the gate. I come back in and pour more coffee and read and knit.

A lot of the time everything is copacetic. Every once in a while I end up with the yarn either stuck to the Velcro on my vest or more often now, on my knee brace, and I drag the whole scarf-in-progress out the door with me. Sometimes it stays intact. Sometimes not so well.

Anyway, I repeat this pattern of knitting and reading and going to the gate and drinking coffee in the semi-dark about a dozen times every night before it occurs to me to turn on more lights and take a look at my project.

Sometimes I’m pleased. But quite often I find I’ve dropped a stitch about 47 rows back which leads to a lot of unraveling. I box the scarves up every few months and send them off to friends or family members in a colder climates to donate to the SA or a soup kitchen –  and who wants to get a scarf with random holes every 40 or 50 rows?

The upside to dropping stitches is that the yarn last longer since I knit it twice, which saves us a little money.

Tomorrow or the next night, I have a story to tell you about my knee and the need to always be prepared but for now I’ll just leave you with this dieting tip that’s worked (sort of) for me: If you find your pants aren’t fitting, it might be time to take up knitting.

The Dreaded D Word

If I had been around when Rubens was painting, I would have been revered as a fabulous model.  Kate Moss?  Well, she would have been the paintbrush. ~Dawn French

I’m on a Diet. According to LIVESTRONG.COM (which is the free on-line program I’m using) 45 million Americans diet each year, spending $33 billion on weight-loss products. That’s a whole lot of people and a whole lot of money.

If you’ve never been a Top Secret Agent, you might think that there’s tons of exercise and tons of money involved in our action packed work. As it turns out, not so much of either, really. I get very little exercise other than going up and down the 4 steps at my TSL multiple times a night.

Indoor exercise like say, jumping jacks, would be out of the question because all the up-ing and down-ing would shake the RV and wake up the sleeping person. (Of course, that’s just a pretend excuse because I wouldn’t do it anyway.)

Walking back and forth and back and forth (TSA’s have to stay on a short leash) is possible, but my car-wrecked knee objects. It’s also moderately creepy for those of us TSA’s who work nights.  There are a surprising number of things at many TSL that aren’t people friendly and can sneak up on you, or at you or under you, in the dark.

Henry VIII has decided that he needs to do his business at 4 a.m. So far we’ve encountered tarantulas, scorpions, mad bulls and happy cows, donkeys, raccoons, armadillos, wasps, hornets, bees, giant beetles, brown spiders that may or may not be reclusive, black spiders, translucent spiders – really spiders of about every color –  brown snakes, green snakes, bats, mean dogs and inebriated strangers and the list goes on… Nothing major, but just enough to be jarring.

So I’m on a no exercise diet. This isn’t my first rodeo or my first dance with the D word. I gave it a try last year. I give it a try every year.  Mostly, my diets have been about 10% effort and 90% wishful thinking.

Having finally given up on a magic pill that lets me eat whatever I want while the pounds melt away, I decided on New’s Years Day – which is the fashionable time for that sort of thing – to try again. I messed around a bit with it during Jan and Feb and March and lost 10 pounds. I made small changes in my eating. I acknowledged that coffee wasn’t meant to be a condiment for my Chocolate Raspberry Creamer.

The older you get, the tougher it is to lose weight, because by then your body and your fat are really good friends. ~ Unknown

I wasn’t so closely bonded to those 10 pounds. We’d just become acquainted during my first year as a TSA. But the other extra 56 pounds and I had been together for 5 or 6 years. This is the year of 5 and 6’s for me. I’m 5’6″, I was born in 1956, I’m 56 years old and as of April 1st, I still had 56 pounds to lose to reach my goal weight.

I’ve been at this place before. The year is coming to an end (and maybe the world, too, on Dec 21st, right?) and I would always wonder how much weight I could have lost by now if I’d just applied myself back in January? This time I shopped around for a plan that made sense with my sedentary life style and very limited budget.  Of course, as soon as I started, all I could think about was food!

You know how it is when you’re in the market for a new car and all of a sudden you see that type of car everywhere, especially if it’s a Honda Accord? I’ve found that same phenomenon is true when I’m on a diet. There’s food everywhere! In my life as a TSA, someone brings us food almost every day – pastries, enchiladas (yesterday), catered dinners with man size portions of steak and shrimp and sausage and potatoes! It’s so generous.

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I find I think about food so much more often when I’m dieting. I do a lot less eating of it and lot more thinking about what I can eat.  It’s a little bit harder during the holidays because there are traditions associated with food. But to be honest, you could say Thanksgiving or Memorial Day or Friday(s) and I would think of food. 😀

My Mother, who was lovely and kind and a fabulous cook, loved people with food. I can hardly remember a time when the bed in the spare bedroom wasn’t covered with homemade noodles (they have to dry, you know) or a lunch or dinner that didn’t include desert. I grew up knowing how to enjoy eating!

I like to eat. I’m not an emotional eater unless you consider every emotion a trigger. I like to eat when I’m happy and sad and mad and scared and tired and energized. I like to eat with people and I like to eat when I’m alone. I just like to eat. I’m an emotionally/socially indiscriminate eater.

My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four. Unless there are three other people. ~ Orson Welles

Motivated by my fear of developing serious heath issues, my inability to comfortably bend over to find Henry’s Kong under the cabinets and being tired of cropping myself out of all the vacation pictures, I re-committed myself on the first day of April (no fooling).

I’m writing about the D word just in case one of you happens to be among the 45 million who are trying to lose a little or a lot of weight. I like the LIVESTRONG program because you decide what you eat. You type in your food and it’s instantly broken down into carbs and proteins and fiber etc… You enter your age and weight and activity level and goal. I had no idea how much too much protein I was eating or how fast I could rip through 1000 calories when my favorite food is pizza.

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I’m not overweight. I’m just nine inches too short. ~ Shelley Winters

I know what they say about how hard those last 5 pounds are to lose. They may be but believe me, the first 60 were no walk in the park either. 😉 I’d like to be done by the end of the year. I may not quite make it, we’ll see. I’ve learned a lot this time around. I can look at almost anything and instantly calculate the calories and nutrition. And I’ve learned (we’ll see, I think I’ve learned) that just like with money, sometimes just enough is better than too much.

The biggest seller is cookbooks and the second is diet books – how not to eat what you’ve just learned how to cook. ~ Andy Rooney