Sunday, April 28, 2013

10,000 Steps to a Baked Potato

Have you heard about the 10,000 Step Program for weight loss? Apparently, striving to take 10,000 steps per day will get you up off the couch, away from the computer and will transform you into the very picture of svelte vitality.

They don’t need to be brisk steps either, although those are always beneficial. No, they can be baby steps, or steps up the steps, or steps across a parking lot at the farthest distance away from your favorite bagel shop. As long as you get moving. And to help you count how many steps you are taking, because I don’t know about you, but I lose track after a few hundred, you can wear a pedometer on the waistband of your sweatpants that will calculate them for you. “Easy peasy,” I thought, “This will be a cakewalk!” With exercise class three times a week, daily Riley walks, everyday household chores and playing with the dog in the yard a hundred times a day, I thought I’d have it aced!


Day 1 of my 10,000 steps program fell on dance aerobics day. Perfect. Get those steps done first thing in the morning and then I can coast for the rest of the day! Right? Wrong! Ten minutes of warm-up, 30 minutes of cardio, 15 minutes of cool down and 10 minutes working those Abs  = ONLY 3,500 steps. WHAT??!!!??  Are you kidding me? I shook the damn pedometer to make sure it was working. It jumped 17 steps, so I reasoned it wasn’t broken. O.K. Clearly this was going to take some serious commitment! Fortunately I had some activities on the calendar! I’d canvas the neighborhood shops for door prizes for our local CARE Walk. Riley and I would do our usual 30 minute afternoon hike. Still had to go to the grocery store, make dinner and run up and down the basement stairs a dozen times doing 2 loads of laundry. By dinner time, I was only up to 7,880. Oh, good grief! “Alright, Riley, we’re going for another walk!” When he saw the leash, he headed for the couch. “Oh, no you don’t, Mister! Mama needs to get her steps in!” I finally managed 10,006 by the time I fell into bed.


Day 2 presented a challenge. Riley goes to day care on Thursdays, so no Walkies for me. But I had two events downtown later, so I parked half way between them. I walked a couple of blocks to my 11:30 meeting in one direction and then headed four city blocks in the opposite direction to go help set up an art auction in a gigantic banquet hall. I spent the next 4 hours schlepping art from one end of this enormous space to the other. By 5:00 I was in the mid-8,000s. Oh, please. Fortunately, I still had to walk to the parking garage, go to the store, fix dinner and walk Riley, so by the end of the day I had reached a personal best of 11,231. The bursitis in my knees started to act up.


Dance aerobics again. Half hour Riley walk. A bit of gardening. More door prize canvassing. Attended the art auction. Wandered around the banquet hall for a few hours. Walked back to the car NOT parked close by. I hadn’t sat down all day. Topped out at 10,037. When I got into bed my legs ached.


Day 4. More gardening. More shopping. More canvassing. Walked Riley all the way to the pet store and back so he could buy a toy and carry it home in his mouth (one of the cutest things he does and a regular Saturday event.) Later, Ken and I toured an Interior Design show house that has 9 bedrooms, six sitting areas and an immense garden. We parked a LONG way away. Took the stupid pedometer off at 9,150 when we got home, flopped on the couch and turned on the TV. My knees screamed.


Could barely get out of bed. Lurched downstairs. My legs felt like blocks. I made a nice breakfast. Had a second cup of tea. Read the paper. Did the Sunday crossword. Loaded the dishwasher. Made the beds. Didn’t get out of my jammies until 11 am. Read some emails and checked Facebook. By lunchtime I was at 1,552. Ken got up early and rode the stationary bike. He took Riley out for an hour. He wore the pedometer on his walk. He came home and checked how many steps: 6,256. That’s about 2 miles. He calculated what this added up to when combined with the 4 miles he did on the bike and declared that he’d accomplished his day’s goal. I just looked at him with my, “That’s nice, dear” look. Later, when I said, “Riley, let’s get your leash!” the dog hid under the dining room table. I didn’t press it. I made another cup of tea and sat down to write this blog.

When I was surfing the net this afternoon, I read a bit about the 10,000 Step Program. Seems some researchers studied a group of machine-shunning, Old Order Amish to see why they were so fit and healthy, in spite of the fact that they ate starchy, cholesterol-laden foods akin to a pre-World War II diet. The scientists figured that it was the amount of activity inherent in hard farm labor that was doing it, so they asked these folks to wear pedometers. You guessed it. They averaged 10,000 steps per day. Walking behind a team of oxen pulling a plow and scrubbing clothes in a wash tub is apparently good for you.

Now, I don’t think becoming Amish is quite the get-fit workout I’ve been looking for. But it seems we need to emulate our agrarian ancestors' activity level in order to earn our potatoes and homemade bread. Yeah, baby! Strap on the pedometer, call me Farmer Lesley and pass the potatoes!

Saturday, April 20, 2013


If I were a dog I would be seriously pissed off if my family put in an electric fence. It must be so confusing. There you are, guarding your property, like any self-respecting canine, when another dog walks by. So, you “ROWR, ROWR, ROWR, ROWRF,” just as loud and ferociously as you can, run madly down your driveway, hell-bent for a good fight, and get just close enough to the sidewalk to give that other dog what-for…. and what happens? You run right up against some kind of invisible force field and you’re left standing there at the edge of your lawn shaking your head and looking like a total fool! Pursuitius Interruptus! What must you be thinking at this point? “Oooooh, Man! This is SO embarrassing! That dog isn’t so tough! I coulda had him, Man! And now he thinks I’m a wienie!” or, “I just don’t get it! Every time! I go after dogs and cats and squirrels and bunnies and our mail man, and I'm just not making it past the grass!”

And what’s to stop the other dogs and all the cats, bunnies, Postal Carriers and squirrels from taunting the poor thing? “Nyaa-nyaa-nyaa-nya-nya-nyaaa! You can’t catch me!” It would be enough to drive a dog into counseling! “What’s wrong with me, Doc? I must be losing my edge! I’m SO depressed!”

I think it must be equally perplexing for dogs out on their walks, going past an invisibly fenced yard. I mean, they can’t actually read those little flags along the perimeter, so they have no idea. I know Riley’s reaction goes something like this: he sees that other dog from a block away. His ears perk up. He pulls out to the end of the leash, and I bet if I could see his face, one eyebrow has arched up. He’s thinking, “Oh, yeah, Dog? You want a bite of me! I double-dog-dare ya!!”

As we get closer, his ears flatten. The hair on his neck and shoulders ruffles up like a Rhodesian Ridgeback. He never barks back, but I can tell from the huffy breathing that he’s ready, “Alright! Come out here and say that! You’re all bark! Yeah, that’s it! Come out here! I TRIPLE-dog-dare you!”

And then, “Whoa! What happened there?” The other dog screeches to a halt and stands there dazed, like he’s been struck by lightning. Riley struts off. There’s swagger in his crooked little dog-trot. Clearly, he’s thinking, “Dude! Talk to the Paw!” like he totally rocks and his awesome fierceness has saved the day once more.

I never tell him about the shock collar. It would only upset him.


Friday, April 12, 2013

Great Moments in Dyslexia

Honestly, I have no idea what some newspaper writers can be thinking sometimes.

Take this one who wrote a story for the Leisure and Travel section: “Visit the Wieners of Ontario.” Who the heck would be interested in an article about….well, what IS this about? Tube steak taste tours of Central Canada? Seriously? How could this be appealing to anyone but the pork-sausage-obsessed?  I skipped this story in favor of a short essay called: “Use a Composer to Fertilize your Garden.”

Then there was the copywriter who did a story about our unusual weather: “Unreasonable Temperatures Persist into the Weekend,” the headline read.  Really? Well, I thought, I guess this writer is telling us that the weather really has been terribly bad-tempered lately. Like, if it could be a little bit more rational and stop all this nonsense, then those darn temperatures would get back to seasonal averages! But, no, it has been difficult out of all proportion and there has been just no reasoning with it!

And how about this arts reviewer who wrote about a famous dancer’s comeback in the flawless performance of her signature dance, the physically demanding, “Chicken of the Passage”? Now, I ask you. Who does a story about a tour de force dance about barnyard fowl? Well, there should have been a story about the ladies I once competed against in Adult Tap who did a Pink Chicken number featuring a skunk in the hen house. It was poultry in motion. But that’s another story.

Worst of all are hard news stories that some reporters craft with headlines like, “In his Furry, Rebel Leader Deposes Despot.” In his furry? What was this guy wearing when he overtook an entire regime? A shorty jacket made of bunny fur?

What? Excuse me? That headline read, “Fury?” Oh. Really? I guess that kind of makes sense. What’s that? What are you saying? Wineries of Ontario? Composter? Unseasonable temperatures? “Children of the Passage?” Oh. O.K. I guess.

I still think my interpretation is way more interesting. Hmm. Maybe there’s a newspaper out there somewhere that would like to hire a dyslexic copywriter?

Saturday, April 6, 2013

It's a Little Bit Funny

One of the nice things about being 60 is that you don’t have to worry about looking cool at a rock concert. At 30 or 40 or 50 I might have been more concerned. I might have bemoaned my lack of black leather boots with 6 inch heels, skin-tight jeans and T-shirt with a low cut neck and skull motif. I never had that stuff at 20 either, but I would have put in more of an effort.   

When I stood in front of my closet this week, deciding what to wear to see Elton John play here in Dayton, and finding neither electric boots nor mohair suit, I thought, “Oh, hell, you’re an Aging Baby Boomer. No one expects a 60 year-old to be rocker chick.”  So I chose comfy shoes for the long walk from the parking lot to the arena, jeans that don’t chafe my thighs and a coat with zippered pockets so that I wouldn’t have to carry a purse.

And if you guessed that the dominant demographic that showed up to see Elton John were in fact Aging Boomers, you’d be right. Well, that makes sense, right? He’s been around as long as we have and was already a super star when we were kids in our 20s. His songs were part of the soundtrack of our youth.

Ken and I slow danced on our first date in 1971 to “Your Song” (first line: “It’s a little bit funny.”) It became our song.

During late nights with my classmates in the interior design studio at University of Manitoba, we turned the radio up loud whenever “Bennie and the Jets” came on. We sang along almost shouting and danced to relieve some of the stress of working on insane all-nighter projects. It became an anthem for us.

When Ken was away at grad school in Michigan from 1974-75, I got feeling quite lonesome and weepy over the lyrics, “Hold me closer, tiny dancer.”

So there we were on a Wednesday night in an arena holding 10,000 people, two 60 year-olds at a rock concert, reminiscing about our younger days, telling a couple of young things that I had seen the Rolling Stones in Winnipeg in 1968. “Whoooaa!” one of them said. “That was like, 45 years ago, Dude!”

Yup, I’m that old. And, I’m still standing!