Monday, July 27, 2009

Day 24: Bottom Heavy Epicurean


"Red onions are especially divine.
I hold a slice up to the sunlight pouring in through the kitchen window,
and it glows like a fine piece of antique glass.
Cool watery--
white with layers delicately edged with imperial purple...
strong, humble, peaceful...
with that fiery nub of spring green in the center..."

~ Mary Hayes Grieco, from "The Kitchen Mystic"

Inspirational Song

Hot Cookin'
G Love

Food Stories
I have to admit I love food. I love eating it, of course; and I love selecting it; and thinking about cooking it (losing time looking at recipes); and cooking it; and watching others cook it; and looking at things to cook it with; or cut it with, or serve it in, or set it on; and trying new foods and new pairings of flavors; and talking about it.

Even focusing on eating healthfully and limiting the amount I consume, I am not trying to change my love of food. It's too much of my identity. I am just trying to focus my choices on healthy foods and healthy preparations.

Reading Cookbooks
So yesterday for instance, I sat overlooking my friend's garden and watching a family of quail scurrying through, guided by the male, and looking outward to the beautiful views of the hills beyond her olive trees. . . as I browsed through The California Cook--so many fresh and delicious looking desserts.

Watching People Cook
The first lunch we had here, we ate at this wonderful place called Boullette's Larder. It was what they refer to as a "working kitchen." I'm not sure, but it might have to do with the fact that there were huge stoves open right to the dining room so you could see them as they cooked. It was beautiful. Larder refers to the food store room.

And Boullette is both a French culinary term meaning "little meatball" and also the name of the dog that the owner was named for. . . and that sat right under Hubby's feet. We thought it was a folded up fluffy folded blanket. Instead it was Boullette, a Hungarian Sheep Dog. Just like in the picture, I couldn't tell which direction her head was.

That night, I sat at the bar in the kitchen of my stepson J and watched him put together paella. He has this big square/diamond? shaped cast iron skillet on his stove top that he keeps perfectly seasoned. He used it to brown the chicken legs & thighs. Then I watched him mix short grain (apparently this is key) brown rice with saffron and the canned tomatoes he put up himself from his last year's garden (the freshest smell ever) and some of his own homegrown frozen peppers (like a poblano, but he called it something else--pasilla). He chopped up half of a Spanish chorizo (not a soft chorizo he tells me, which is fattier. This one was very lean and yummy--110 calories per serving). He added some little neck clams. He covered the dish and took it out on a wood burning grill--apple wood--to finish off--tossing on some green beans (home grown of course) and fresh calamari at the end (so it wouldn't get tough). He and I "fought" to scrape the bits from the bottom of the pan.

Taste Testing Lavender Ice Cream
The subhead says it all. . .we went to an ice cream store and I had a taste of the lavender ice cream because, hey, I've never had lavender ice cream. It was good--tasted like lavender--but I didn't get it. I got a small cone of raspberry & lemon sorbet. You gotta love health and world conscious Californians. Not only did they give me a real metal spoon for my taste (no disposable plastics to clog the landfills), but they weigh each cone. . . so she scooped me a small bit of each. . really looked like my typical half cup. Lovely.

I could go on. . . and I will. . in other posts. . .

But first. . . something not so fun. . .

Bottom Heavy Stories
My dreams of swimming every day, multiple times a day have completely sunk. And it's all because of my big bottom.

I have never, ever been able to hoist myself up out of a pool. You know, how you put your hands on the side, and push up and swing your bottom left or right to get out? Or some people--like J--push up with their hands and set one foot flat on the side and stand. That is not going to happen for me.

Bottom Heavy at 10
Even as a kid when we spent summer's at the pool, I remember my friend trying to help me learn to haul myself up. It would upset me when the lifeguard would be blowing his whistle and hurrying us to get out for the pool checks and I'd have to scurry to the nearest ladder because I couldn't get up. My friend would be upset that I was upset, so she'd spend the whole next span of time until the NEXT time the whistle blew working tirelessly with me on some kind of way that I would successful get my butt up and out of the side. No success ever that I recall.

So, imagine my dismay when we got here to my friend's house with her lovely lovely pool with the stunningly beautiful views to realize there was no ladder or steps. She and her fit and taller-than-us family don't have any need for it.

Hubby has shrunk from his reported 5'6" to about 5'3 and a bit. I am 5'4 plus I have this bottom heavy issue.

So I suggested he get in first to see how it would be getting out.

He couldn't get out. He pushed and huffed and threw a toe over the side. He tried floating on a noodle, then 2, then 3, then 4. He walked the full perimeter trying each side. It wasn't happening. Despite my heft, trying to pull him up seemed unwise. . .

So finally, I got a plastic Adirondack chair from the lawn and set it in the pool . . . crossing my fingers that it wouldn't rip the lining. . . he had to stand on the ARM, not just the seat, to get out. This did not look promising for me.

Bottom Heavy at 46
And, hell, who are we kidding? I could barely get my fat ass down to the edge of the pool. . . hefting myself down and up is not an easy trick, nor pleasant to witness, or experience.. . or admit . . . or think about. . .

So I am afraid to get in and frustrated and sad. . . and feeling a bit like Scarlett, "As God as my witness I'll never" . . . let this happen again. I clearly haven't been exercising enough to recover some amount of shape. Hauling myself up from the barn through the olive trees, I lag woefully far behind and have to stop to breathe and try to nonchalantly rest again before climbing the porch stairs.

And Hubby said to me immediately, as soon as he was freed from the pool . . . don't get depressed about not being able to swim. . .But who wouldn't feel bad?


  1. Nice blog, I am going to Atlanta in October for a Herbalife convention. You like it there?

  2. I would feel down too. The hardest part is the begginning and getting going.

  3. Ive read your post a few times and pondered my comment a while.

    Its hard as I know sometimes words in a comment come across wrong/can be misread.

    many thoughts.

    I clearly recall when I was a trainer and would work out water exercise with clients we'd spend an entire session going over/talking about how to get in and get out of the pool with ease.

    all that to say, as you know, youre not alone.
    by far.

    and the end? I know youre frustrated and mad but I also wanna see if you (we?) can just turn it inside out and make the experience your motivation.
    as you say with the scarlett comment :)

    so that you never FEEL that way again--no matter your weight.

    hope this comes across as I meant it.

  4. Oh my goodness! I was just enjoying reading about the food, and the strange looking dog, and then came upon the pool story.

    Who in the world builds a pool without stairs or a ladder?!!! That's ridiclous!

    Don't beat yourself up over this. Even after my weight loss, it's still hard to get out of the pool without a ladder! It's not about the weight you carry, but about leverage and arm strength!

  5. Sandy, I loved your post today (as always!) Red onions are an exotic vegetable in South Africa yet only red onions are available in third world West Africa! I laughed at dear Boulette (I thought it was a floor mop before I'd read the post) and I drooled at the paella your s/s made. How super to have reduced fat chirozo. Your s/s looks like a brilliant chef and one who uses all his own homegrown veges. I love that the lady at the ice cream palour and the sound of California. I look forward to your future posts. Sandy, I cried and laughed at your pool episode. You have a WONDERFUL husband who "tested the waters" for you first. Bless you both today as you continue to enjoy your holiday. (((Hugs)))

  6. I love food too, and for the most part, it really is healthy food that I love. like you, I just need to watch my portions more.

    I can not imagine how beautiful your view of olive trees must be. But that obviously isn't in Atlanta...sounds like you recently moved to CA?

    The pool thing...darn. I wonder could you buy a ladder for the pool? One that just hangs on the side to use temporarily. I obviously don't know the whole situation but just wanting to head that you got to swim!

    I just love your blog, even though i have only read a few posts. You really know how to pull your reader in to your story.

    Take care,

  7. You had me at "red onions are especially divine"...

  8. I agree with some of the comments I think it's all about arm strength and not about the other end. Not that it helps, but it's a lot easier to strengthen arms or so I've heard. I have the upper arm strength of a baby.

  9. Loved this post. Great stories. I can't imagine building a pool without stairs of some kind. You are doing great - don't let the non-swimming thing get you down.

  10. I enjoyed your post. I can really relate. At my heaviest, even a ladder was nearly impossible. If the pool didn't have a sloped "walk in" or normal stairs that gently decend into the water---I was out of luck. I would have needed arms like the hulk to pull 500 plus pounds out of a pool.

    Don't let this depress you. You have a fantastic place where your headed---and there will not be a pool that you can't enjoy! Those carefree days of freedom are ahead for you, you know they are!

    My best


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