When I Was A Kid…

There are many posts half written; some discussing my absence from blogging – kinda; one describing our adventures in the new camping van trekking to Texas and San Diego; another on friendship; and one begging forgiveness from being absent on so many of your blogs as a commenter. Since it seems very hard to complete anything original now, I have stolen borrowed an idea from Karen@Waisting Time who got the inspiration from Roni’s Weigh.

author at young age









When I was a kid:

1. My parents told me…“you can be anything you want.”

2. I wanted to grow up to be a… an astronaut. Since women weren’t accepted back in the dark ages, I settled for being a physician.

3. I refused to eat… brussel sprouts, which I now really enjoy.

4. My favorite thing to do outside was… play ball, any kind of ball. Softball, baseball, catch, football until the boys outgrew me.

5. I broke my… nose flying across my grandparents king size bed.

6. I liked to wear… OK, I was a tomboy and we mainly lived in warm climates, so shorts and tennies and whatever comfortable shirt I could get away with.

7. My parents always… made us go to church on Sundays. Remember, Dad was a minister so it was twice on Sundays, Wednesday night, and Thursday night choir practice. Usually some other events were thrown in to keep the family scrambling.

8. I thought that Santa was… my Grandfather. I watched my Grandpa get dressed one year and thought I had discovered who Santa really was.

9. My favorite cartoon was… Mighty Mouse. I have a Native American version (Black Lodge Singers) of the infamous song. Pretty cool. “Is it a bird? NO!”

10. I was the… the perfect child who rarely caused her parents any grief. It was really difficult thinking you are perfect in the eyes of your parents but knowing that you are just a normal kid. Tough to live with.

11. I got in trouble when… the few times I did get in trouble I was very young and don’t like to talk about the consequences. What, you think I’m going to reveal everything on this blog?

12. My bedroom was… never shared even though I had 3 siblings. They were much younger (by 8, 11, and 14 years).

13. My favorite food was… my mom’s Sunday pot roast, just because it made the house smell so comforting as well as tasting great.

14. My parents always made me… say ma’am and sir to all adults. It still slips out and people think I am being sarcastic. At my age, I probably am!

15. My first crush was… she knows who she is but I won’t embarrass her by using a name. We were both horrified at age 17.

16. My favorite toy was… a ball, any ball that I could play catch with someone.

17. I thought school was… at times boring, often challenging, frequently anxiety provoking as I kept striving to be my parents’ perfect child.

18. My biggest fear was… disappointing my parents. Needless to say, coming out to them was a lengthy process because of my fears, not their reaction.

19. My favorite story was… I found my Mother’s old Nancy Drew books one summer at her mother’s house. I spent hours reading them. I think that was what hooked me on mystery and detective novels.

20. My favorite memories… summers at the beach with my family, Grandparents, and my cousins.

I Have No Excuse

For not blogging over the past 2 weeks. For not reading my blogging buddies’ posts. For not staying on plan. For bingeing last week. I apologize to myself and to my friends. I am in learning mode – breaking down what led up to the binges because it was more than lack of stimulus control. Fodder for another time.

Vacation was great! We spent a week in Florida for fun and family then a week in Dallas for family and fun. A cottage on the beach was our home for 4 days on lush little Sanibel Island off the southwest coast of Florida. We walked, watched a few shorebirds (very familiar from living on the Texas coast), wandered around refuges, ate at cafes, enjoyed the 80° temps and humidity, took silly pictures, picked up shells, dreamed of living on Hawaii. Then it was off to Orlando to surprise Sue’s parents.

Sanibel DQ Santa

Last year on their annual visit to Sue’s sister’s home in central Florida, the folks spent 2 hours looking for the rental car – sigh. So, we spent a night at the Orlando Airport Hyatt (nice for an airport hotel), shocked the hell out of the almost 86-year olds, brunched, then caravanned to, well, let me just say that rebel flags and NRA bumper stickers dominated the mobile home neighborhood. (OK, I call it Crackerville, but so do they.) I love Sue’s sister not just because she is family but also because she is sweet and funny and thrives despite a tough life. We visited with nieces and husbands and boyfriends and babies. Ate BBQ. Drank a lot of coffee then flew off to visit my side of the family.

My Dad had decorated the house so beautifully. It was grand to see him looking well and actually playing the piano. It was difficult to be in their home at Christmas without Mom. I had to go shopping at the Galleria. (Tucson is not known as a shopping mecca.) Ooh, shiny! I bought more bras at Nordstrom’s after spending time with a “surgical fitter.” Sue and I enjoyed my sibs and their spouses; visited the cemetery where I left an angel on Mom’s grave; had a glorious Christmas Eve Eve (yes) dinner with everyone plus my mom’s sister (who looks just like her, which made me cry), my uncle, a cousin, and her kids. We are long past gift-giving except for the occasional doo-dad. Being together is more than enough.

A huge plus was seeing Ann of Dr. Fatty Finds Fitness for a delightful lunch between her morning and afternoon patients. Put two physicians together who “met” over their weight loss blogs and what do they spend the majority of their time talking about? Medicine. 🙂 I have no doubt that her patients love her because she is so easy to speak with and is passionate about quality health care. Those of you who read her blog know what a crazy schedule she has between her practice, family, and amazing exercise routine. Let me just add that to be able to focus on her own health and then share that experience with the world is amazing. She is amazing. If you don’t read her blog, please do!

Jan & Ann

So you might wonder where I went astray on my eating plan. At the quaint cafe on Sanibel? Confronting the numerous biscuits and gravy across the South? During some romantic dinner? While eating with family over mashed potatoes and gravy? No. I was fine for 12 days. Then. I. just. lost it. I continued to be out of control the first 2 days after returning home even though I felt like crap. I knew this could spiral into 2 weeks, 2 months, 2 years. It’s happened before. It won’t happen again. I refuse to be undone by my self. All or nothing is no longer my way of life. I’m working hard not to hate myself because that only tugs on the periphery, urging me want to eat again. Yep, I did eat to punish myself in the past. I won’t do it now. I’m in the present. It’s good to be home.

Bits & Bites

We will be traveling for holiday joy with family. Well, at least one side of the family (mine) is joyful during this season. A side trip to Sanibel Island for a few days won’t make up for the missed vacation in Hawaii but should provide enough beach time for the family excitement ahead.

The critters and house always get tremendous care from our wonderful pet-sitting company, Nunn Better. Seneca does an amazing job with her staff, and our “Pack” usually has their favorite gal, Aubrey, to spoil them rotten when we travel. Of course we would rather they romp on the beach with us and visit their puppy cousins. I do worry about them. Ha! They are too busy enjoying respite from us and happy to avoid kennel-care.

Betsy & Scruffy

PeeTee & Lucy

After a reaaallllly long weight-loss plateau, I have dropped a few pounds. I continue to be fascinated how my body shape changes even without losing much weight. Don’t say I am toning up because my physical activity still is not up to pre-mastectomy level, but at least I’m moving again without discomfort. Although my goal seems to be only 14-pounds away, I think maintenance for me will hit when I can fit into the pair of really tight size 10 pants hanging. Who knows? Who cares. I’m pretty much eating what I plan to eat for life except there will be no hesitancy for treats in the future. This time of year. with my seasonal affective disorder flaring and the associated carb urge, it is a bit dangerous to venture away from my mantra: no grains, starch, added sugar.

My favorite/only plastic surgeon insisted on a huge hug rather than a handshake at the start of our visit this week. “What, after all we’ve been through you just want to shake my hand?” So, I pressed my artificial boobs into his chest and then flash him. “Are you satisfied with this?” I ask. He tells me I look great for just a little over 2 months since my tissue expanders were replaced with silicone. Scars are healing well. Skin flab might be removed after weight loss is done, depends on if I want more scars. We discuss how one foob hangs lower. Most women’s breasts are not even. I just never noticed because mine were hanging at my waist. He did not use any tissue matrix (we agreed) to reinforce the lower poles of the “pockets” holding my implants. So, I do have to watch and see if that one foob drops any lower. My symmastia (uniboob) has not recurred but I’m still at high risk for up to 2 years. In other words, I am like many women who undergo breast reconstruction after breast cancer – over 25% will require additional surgery after “permanent” implants are placed. I ain’t planning on it, but I am aware. The next step is to get nipple tattoos. (Just in case you were dying to know.) No nipple reconstruction. I don’t want “headlights” all the time, and the Barbie look is kinda weird. We are planning a trip to Baltimore in the spring to have mine done by a tattoo artist who works with academic reconstruction centers across the country. Always wanted a tattoo. Just thought it might be a green sea turtle…

Leaving you with a link to a fun read from the New York Times: Holiday Gifts From Your Kitchen Even non-chefs like make me can make healthy, lemon olive oil and dress it up in a pretty container.

Be reading you on the interwebs!

Happy Thanksgiving Y’all

Dad making egg noodles

My Dad making traditional holiday noodles, 2010

I certainly will miss being with all of my family this Thanksgiving. The holiday means so much more than food to us. BUT, my father makes the best egg noodles in the world. Missing you extra this year – Dad, Teresa, Denise, Scott, Kim, Lainey, Gary, Ann and my extended family Helen and Lin.

Edited to add recipe:

Dad’s German Egg Noodles

Serves about 6

  • 3 eggs beaten
  • 3 c all purpose flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder per c of flour
  • Broth

Sift flour and baking powder together. Make a “well” of dry ingredients and add eggs. Stir eggs into flour mixture until dough is formed. Separate dough into halves. Roll out into very thin layer. (No pasta machines allowed per my Dad!) 😉 Roll the layer into a cylinder then cut noodles ~ ¼ inch wide. Repeat with other half of dough. Allow to air dry thoroughly. They do well especially hanging from chandeliers overnight.

Make your favorite broth. Start with about 6 cups of boiling broth and slowly add a handful of dried noodles at a time, stirring thoroughly so they do not stick together. Add broth to your family’s desired consistency and simmer, covered for 20-25 minutes stirring frequently to keep noodles from clumping and from sticking to pan. (Gosh, a non-stick pan would have been so much easier all those years.) Salt flavor should come from broth. Much tasting is needed…

Enjoy the flavorful carbohydrate goodness that only comes twice a year.

Peaceful Hopes For Veterans Day

Veterans Day has always provoked internal conflict for me. As an avowed peacenik who believes all war is immoral, today I honor the storied history of my family in arms.  My father and father-in-law served in World War II. My dad-in-law miraculously survived the largest sea battle in the Pacific. My uncle fought as a Marine in Korea and returned to his family a hardened man. My life-partner was in the first group of women officers (non-WAC) to be commissioned in the regular army. She left service at the rank of major to pursue her dream of becoming a physician. My cousin was yanked from his post riding and caring for ceremonial Army horses to invade Iraq in Operation Desert Storm. They all gained and gave aspects of themselves for their country. I am proud of their service, especially on this day.

America’s rush to solve conflict with weapons, the monies we spend on “defense”, the toll that war takes on the bodies and minds of soldiers and civilians, all trouble my soul. I have resolved my November 11th cognitive dissonance that occurs from pride in family and those who serve with my commitment to peace in this way: I emphasize the roots of the American holiday – world peace.

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918, hostilities of World War I ceased. In November of 1919, President Wilson proclaimed the date as Armistice Day:

“To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.”

Even a Congressional resolultion in 1926, which stopped short of making November 11 a national holiday, included this wording:

Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations;

By 1938, November 11 became a legal holiday to commemorate those who fought in World War I and a day dedicated to world peace. In 1954, Armistice Day was renamed Veterans Day to honor all those who served or serve in the armed forces.

Our commitment to world peace as a country is not a priority. That does not mean I cannot devote time today to remember my commitment to peace while I thank my family members for their service.

11/11/1918 Philadelphia

My Dad, circa 1944

Born Free No More

Once upon a time, a couple of humans and a beloved legacy of stray critters roamed the country together during precious days, sometimes weeks, stolen from demanding work. Imagine a time before routine use of cell phones, iPads, free Wi-fi. Totally unplugged “The Pack” would bundled up in their cocoon of a 24′ motor home and head for the out-of-doors, away from the 4th largest city in America, searching for dark skies, fireflies, quiet waters, and peaceful dreams. From Oregon to Florida they drove and camped and hiked. Six beloved pets (even the cats) understood the words “going camping” and “get in the Born Free”.


We learned all of the hiding places a kitty could find in such a small space, and that sometimes they could disappear into the forest, onto the beach without leaving a clue as to their escape route. They always came back, not always before their humans had started wailing over their demise. Pups seemed content to lounge and eat in the safety of their second home.

Yesterday, after 15 years, when we pulled her up to the house to remove all of our crap gear (so that’s where my fly rod went to!), the last of the puppy pack leapt into the cabin and rolled on her back, tongue out, tail wagging – where are we going? Nowhere, Lucy. In less than 24 hours on the market, we had sold our Born Free for asking price. We had stopped using her for anything but accommodations for overflow family and one final trip to the Grand Canyon. So many memories of outdoor adventures and our Pack frolicking together. But, like the phase of fast and fancy cars, eating out every night, and working 80 hours a week, our regular camping and RV days have ended.

Hiking, however, is still in my future. We moved to Arizona for the environment. Glorious trails surround us. Our love of travel remains. My stamina will return even though the next surgery requires another serious bout of down time. I found my Leki walking poles in the Born Free!

Born Free, Adios

Father’s Day

When I think about my Dad, I mean really ponder all he is now and has been throughout my life, the ability to express my feelings slam shut. Perhaps because he is so complex, and I am not good at expressing how deeply I feel for him.

Gosh Jan, you say “complex” like that’s a negative. Not at all. His love for his family is unconditional, and I have always felt that constancy.

He was my role model for a work ethic that was too strong at times – I learned that one could escape many other concerns and even emotions by digging in harder at work. He worked amazingly long hours as a minister, counselor, life-long learner, educator, writer, musician, and mentor to dozens, if not hundreds, of men who wanted to be just like him. Now at the wonderful, wise age of 83 and all of that amazing work across the world is behind him and still impacting others, he wants to continue to work – to be active to continue giving, to make his life count every second. We (OK, I) want him to write an exposé on the behind-the-scenes doings/dirt on the religious world in which I grew up. Certainly not all was dirt or he would have never stayed. He is truly virtuous. I want him to compose more music. I hope that gift and inspiration did not die along with my Mom.

Although I have 3 sibs, for the first 8 years of my life, it was just Dad, Mom, and me. I went everywhere with them, and he could not stand to be ANYWHERE without us. Dad worked hard then, but the demands on his time were not as great. He taught me to read, write, and do math at an early age – I loved those hours together. He taught me to play baseball and throw a perfect spiral football. No one delighted more in my athletic endeavors early on than Dad. He taught me to fish. I still experience fishing as one of the most serene activities on earth, but now I just take a pole and sit, not wanting to kill or hurt the fish. He taught me the love of family, instilled the gift (or curse?) of altruism, allowed me to develop my own spiritual path, and waited for my Mom to tell him that I was gay. He loves Sue like a daughter, and they are so alike that it took them a while to become true friends.

This Father’s Day he is in Dallas; I am Tucson. As usual my Father’s Day gift and card will arrive late (procrastination and the adrenaline surge that it provides is another gift from Dad). It’s hard for me to tell him that I love him just because he rarely used those words – his actions were enough. After Mom died last year, I asked him to take over her telephone role of saying, “I love you.” He forgets at times, and I am stubborn enough to wait him out. Maybe I’ll turn it into a race to see who can say “I love you” the quickest as we end our phone conversations. I learned to be competitive from him also.

I love you Dad.

Me and Dad

At the Grand Canyon, October 2010