The Last Holdout

Posted by Kathy on September 2nd, 2016

iphoneWe are shutting down our 2G network by the end of 2016.” – Your friends at ATT.

And so it begins.

I’ve been a cell phone user since 2008. The crappy kind of cell phone with the capability for only old school texting. The kind where you put only a handful of minutes on it each month for emergency calls. The kind that gets you laughed out of the room if you dare show it to anyone.

I deserve it, though. See, I’m a computing consultant by trade, surrounded by cutting edge technology every second of the day. And yet, I used a ridiculously outdated Nokia that I called my “Playskool phone” because it really was. Actually, even toddlers would point and laugh at it.

But now I have to be dragged into this century kicking and screaming because ATT won’t support my phone anymore. “Come on, Kathy. You can do it. Everybody’s doing it!”

Why have I resisted coming into the smartphone age? For a couple reasons:

1. The cost. I don’t want a new large monthly bill that I will surely have the rest of my life. We’re always trying to cut costs and now we’re negating all that effort.

2. I’m already plugged in everywhere I go, except my car and leisure stuff. Laptop at work, laptop at home, iPad at work and at home. Yup, my iPad is on the nightstand because it’s the last thing I check before calling it a night. I don’t want the last slivers of freedom from technology consumed by yet another device.

Sure, I could just let my 2G Nokia die a natural death and leave it be. Live my life cell-phone free and continue to have people question my sanity.

I was all set to fade into the connection-free abyss until I needed a phone in a bad way last weekend.

After doing steps at a local football stadium with my sister, we went to leave and I discovered my car battery dead.

Luckily, she hadn’t driven away yet and she has a phone. So I called my husband to come with jumper cables, which he did. My sister’s like “GET. A. PHONE. ALREADY.”

The next day my husband dropped me off at a job fair so I could hire a student assistant for the year. I don’t always stay at these fairs for the entire time allotted and didn’t want to tell him to come pick me up at the end. If I wanted to leave early, how would I reach him?

No phone, only email on my iPad. So the poor guy had to keep checking his email from home to see if I sent a “Come get me” message. Ridiculous, I know.

Yeah, I could have asked my table-mate to borrow his phone to make a call home, but then he’d realize I didn’t have one and I’ve had enough people laughing at me this week, thank you.

So here I am in the market for an iPhone and it’s crazy what they cost and how much the monthly bill will be. Part of me thinks I should just get a pay-as-you go Playskool phone again, but the other part sees the value in upgrading to something more full-featured.

When the gal at the ATT store laid it all out for me, I complained about cost at every turn. Data plan, cost of phones, installation fee, taxes, accessories. Even with my discount from work, it’ll cost something like $120/mo for two of us and that’s not including the cost of the phones.

The saleswoman said “Wow, I haven’t seen someone like you in a long time.”

What? Someone who’s disgusting by having to attach myself to a never-ending bill every month for something I wish I didn’t need?

I don’t know. I hate it, but I probably deep down want it. It’s like exercise. It’s good for me, but it costs time and effort. The phones and plan will cost me mucho bucks and freedom from every-waking-minute connectivity. I’m not the sort of person who can disconnect easily.

And so it begins.

In My Next Life, I’m Coming Back as a Cat

Posted by Kathy on May 31st, 2016

Every morning when it’s about time to do my cardio video in the living room, it’s the same thing.

My cat Lucky waits for me in the center of the room.

I take this as my cue to put my sneakers on.

I load up my water bottle, move the ottoman out of the way, and prepare two couch blankets in a very specific fashion.

I take the first one and fold it length-wise, then lay it across the couch, smoothing out any wrinkles. Then I take the second blanket and fold that too. I drape it over the couch in a way that creates a tent.

I now have an A-frame house for Lucky, who knows now that he can move to the end table and sit there.

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I begin the video.

For the first couple of minutes, Lucky does nothing but observe me, making sure I have good form and that I’m getting into a zone.

After that, he begins pawing at the edge of the top blanket to indicate that he’s now ready to enter his tented house.

There is plenty of room for him to just crawl through the side opening I have carefully created for him, but no. He paws at the blanket because he wants me to stop doing my cardio, go over and pick up the top blanket, pull it back, then wait for him to decide the time is right to enter.

This may take five seconds or it may take a full minute. Meanwhile, I’m losing precious cardio time. I coax him by saying “Come on, Lucky. Who’s a good boy? Lucky’s a good boy! Go on, go in!”

I encourage him as long as it takes, then he slowly makes his way through the tunnel to settle his warm little body into a nice blob under the center of the blanket. I return the top blanket to its position so as to recreate the tent, taut and well-constructed.

Here, he either makes a satisfying little noise or he says nothing.

Either way, I go back to doing the cardio. If this was a day where he said nothing going in, I go back over to the couch and poke him through the blanket until he makes the noise. I don’t know why I do this. I guess for the same reason Lucky has his routine. I have mine.

Halfway through my workout, I ask him how he’s doing – “Lucky! Is he a good boy? Yes! He’s a good boy!”

When I’m done with the video, I go back over and ask him if I did a good job today. He looks at me like he wants to answer. I like to think what he wants to say is “You did a great job, Mommy! And thank you for making my blanket tent a good one today. You’re the best Mommy! Yes, you are!”

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I love this routine of ours. I like to make Lucky comfortable each morning because we don’t know how much longer we’ll have him. He’s getting up there in age. I love that he has to have a house tent made for him “just so.” I will do it for him forever and always.

So what do you do for your pets just to make them comfortable?

The Mini Junk Drawer

Posted by Kathy on May 22nd, 2016

You have a junk drawer, right? Of course you do!

But do you have a mini junk drawer? A drawer so small that for all intents and purposes is really just decorative. It can’t even fit cutlery. It’s a dumb drawer.

We have one in the kitchen. It’s where my husband Dave and I years ago decided “This is where we shall put all our important receipts and crap. It will protect only crap of the most critical kind. We will never lose anything important if we put it in this ridiculously tiny little drawer.”

And so we did.

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Today I cleaned it out because it could finally take no more when I tried putting in a receipt for my cat Lucky’s medication. It cannot handle the addition of a 0.05mm-thick piece of paper.

As I extricated the pile of stuff, the things I realized we were saving got more and more stupid.

  • Receipts for any meaningful work we had done on the two cars we don’t even own anymore
  • Receipt for a PC our family bought Dad in 2007
  • Receipts for carpet cleaning, purchase of a storm door and new mattress and work on our garage door and microwave
  • Blood work results for my husband
  • Meals on Wheels donation receipt
  • Two Sharper Image mini catalogs
  • Black and white 35mm film (do kids these days even know what that is?) 
  • Said 35mm camera
  • A bird feeder warranty (because, you know, they go bad)
  • Zinnia “Guaranteed to Grow” flower seeds (2 packs)
  • My college transcripts (so that’s where they were!)
  • A thank you letter from 2002 for work I did on a client’s PC that crashed (what?)
  • Instruction manual for a Motorola pager. A pager!
  • Approximately 80,000 screws, nails and cables for unknown things

If this is what I fit into mini junk drawer, you can just imagine what’s in my full-service junk drawer.

The only thing I plan to leave in Tiny Junk Drawer is the meat thermometer. It shall now be known as Meat Thermometer Drawer. At least until we want to save another critically important receipt. Or flower seeds.

So where do you keep all your super duper important things?

How to Be a Thoughtful Officemate

Posted by Kathy on March 16th, 2016

MorningStar-Farms-Spicy-Black-Bean-BurgersYou know how people get all ragey when someone in the office heats up fish for lunch in the communal microwave?

You know how you want to ask them if there is possibly some other less smelly kind of food they could eat instead? But you don’t dare because it’s considered rude?

Instead, you tolerate the smell that lingers for two hours afterward and pray they don’t want fish again tomorrow. But they do. And you want to murder them. But then they finally retire and you can go about the business of smelling other people’s less offensive food choices.

And you rejoice.

But then, if you’re like me, you worry that your own food might be offensive to someone else and they’re just not telling you because rude.

And then you get all paranoid because you really like your food choice, but you don’t want the smell to permeate the entire floor of your building when you heat it in the microwave inside your office.

So what’s a gal to do?

You do this.

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I’m so paranoid now about my breakfast and lunch smells that I’ve taken to blocking the wide crack under my door during cooking, and for half an hour after. Because I’m thorough. And paranoid. And weird. Yet thoughtful.

The only problem is I don’t know if it’s working because, you know, I’m inside with my food smell and don’t know if I’m truly blocking it from seeping out. I’ll have to call someone on the other side of my floor and ask “Hey, do I stink down here?”

I’m also guilt-ridden because a friend knitted the shawl that I’m using on the filthy floor as a smell blocker and she’ll only know about it if she reads this blog post. Heather, if you’re reading, I swear I’m going to bring in an old towel instead so that I can go back to wearing the shawl instead of using it to keep my food odors from the noses of others.

Gotta keep the peace, right?

Weight Loss Update

Posted by Kathy on February 12th, 2016

Do I or don’t I keep this blog breathing? Ugh.

Until I decide, I thought I’d toss up a progress picture of my weight loss effort these last 10 months. If I wasn’t blogging much in that time, at least I was working hard to get less fat.

before and after

On the left, I was about 185lbs. Although I was delighted to be visiting my friends in England at the time the picture was taken, I was disgusted with my weight. I gained another ten pounds after that trip.

Then I got my act together, started counting calories, killing it with exercise and dropped 65lbs, where I’m at in the right photo, taken this week.

How’d I do it?

Mainly through stuffing a lot less food in my pie hole. I always knew I’d have to find a sustainable way to eat differently. To me, that means not cutting out anything I love, just eating less of it.

If I hit my 1,200 daily calorie budget, I stopped eating. I almost never ate back my exercise calories (200-300/day). Early on, I was just walking 2.5 miles a day (flat sidewalks, few inclines). That went on for 3-4 months before my M-F walking buddies and I decided we needed to challenge ourselves more.

For the next 3 months or so, we began walking up the hill of the campus where we work, taking about 1,600 steps in the process. After that stint, we started doing more and more steps and less and less straight walking. I also joined my sister Ann for even more steps on the weekends, many times 4,000 in a session. Killer, but very effective.

I also always did a 30-50 min cardio video every morning before work. In the last four months or so, with 100 min. of exercise a day, I had to bump up my calories to about 1,600-1,800.

I didn’t lose much more weight recently, but I have totally reshaped my frame, my muscles and firmed up some pesky loose skin on my thighs, arms and stomach.

The exercise is so effective that I just moved down a size in my Lee jeans from 6 to 4. I haven’t been a size 4 since the fifth grade. It’s amazing what cardio and body weight exercise can do for you.

So that’s it, kids! The process is simple, though not always easy. Yes, there are days when I don’t want to put on my sneakers and sweat, or go out in the cold or rain to walk/step, but I do it because it works and it’s sustainable.

I’m exactly where I want to be.

Oh! And I had the bracelet custom-made for me with my total weight loss imprinted on it (a few pounds to go yet, but I’ll get there). Looking at the bracelet every day reminds me of my accomplishments and also keeps me on the straight and narrow for the future.

68 bracelet

If you’re like me, over 50 and want to lose weight, don’t let age deter you. I lost at the same rate at this age as I did when I dieted in my 20s. Count calories, it works. I use My Fitness Pal (both a website and an app) to enter everything I eat and all my exercise. If you dig charts, graphs and trends, it’s the tool for you!

You don’t even need to exercise. Remember, weight loss begins in the kitchen. Fitness begins at the gym.

If you’re feeling fat and want to change, know that it’s possible to transform yourself even if you’re older. And you can ask me anything. I’m happy to help you if I can!