Saturday, May 31, 2008


A Body Bugg, that is.

If you don't know what that is, well, neither did I. Not until one showed up in my Mother's Day gifts. My husband knows how hard I've been trying to lose weight. And how frustrating it's been between medication, a year of mono, being almost 40, and the stress of this year. (No, I am not one of those people who loses weight when stressed. Boo hoo.)

But now I have all the information I need. The Body Bugg is a device that I wear around my upper arm and it track how many calories I burn. Not just the ones from exercising, mind you, but all the normal energy expended walking from one room to the other, folding laundry, putting dishes away, writing at the computer, and, you know, breathing.

If it stopped there, it might just be a cool device. But it's part of an online program that provides help in setting goals, coaching support, daily menus, and a great template for keeping track of calories consumed. Check it out here:

I've been a very good girl for several weeks now. And it's starting to show on the scale. You know the biggest surprise? How much work it takes to burn enough to lose even a pound a week. The best part for me of the Body Bugg is that it provides constant feedback so I know what I still have to do by the end of the day. And looking at the numbers (particularly if they're falling on the scale) is a great motivation. It's much easier to walk away from the 200 calorie brownie when I know exactly how long I'll have to be on the elliptical to make up for it. The Body Bugg is a sort of risk/benefit device--no wonder I got it from my accountant husband.

I have to confess, though--the temptations continue. What I wouldn't give right now to have a doughnut for breakfast, a bacon cheeseburger for lunch, lobster ravioli for dinner, and cheesecake for dessert.

But I won't.

Even though I really, really want to.

Friday, May 30, 2008

This morning was a first for me--The First Time I Sent My Child On An Airplane Alone.

Mind you, this child is nearly 15 and closing in on 6 feet tall. But still . . .

By the way, the "nearly" 15 part is important. Under the age of 15, Delta requires you to pay a 100 dollar fee for them to chaperone the child to and from the airplanes on both ends of the flight. When we reached the check-in desk this morning, the man asked my son, "How old are you?"


"Are you sure you're not fifteen?" the man asked. "No one else is going to ask and you look pretty capable of handling a non-stop flight by yourself. So how old are you?"

"Fifteen," my son said.

He was quite pleased with this turn of events, having no desire for a chaperone. And it's not like he hasn't flown plenty, including through several African airports. But he's never been on his own.

He wisely held his tongue while I showed him how to read everything on his boarding pass, told him how to find the gate once he was through security, pointed out all the things he needed to remove from his person or his carry-on bag so he could get through security, told him to ask an airline employee anything at any time, and generally acted like a nervous mother. My children aren't used to that--they're used to the mom who says, "Okay, whatever, have fun!"

He took it well, though. I asked him if he was all right. He assured me he was. I, on the other hand, felt like I was sending him to kindergarten all over again. What if he couldn't find the gate? What if he didn't make the plane? What if someone was mean to him?

I'm glad to report that all is well, he is safely in Boston in the hands of his father tonight.

Fortunately, they're flying home together on Tuesday so I don't have to go through this again.

Friday, May 02, 2008


Hmmm, not my best reading month ever. I don't think there are any A grades in what follows:

Evan Evans (known as Evans-the-law) is a police constable in a small town in Wales. When two men die on the local mountain on the same day, Evans suspects it's more than a climbing accident. A good enough mystery and I did like Evans--I don't know why this wasn't a better book for me. Maybe it was just too slender, and I don't mean in length. A good way to pass a couple of hours, but not compelling enough for me to rush out and find more Evans books.

I really wanted to love this one, being as I'm such a fan of HITCHIKER'S GUIDE. But for whatever reason, the off-beat humor didn't gel into a great book. It's got odd situations (a horse appearing in a bathroom in Cambridge, a ghost wondering why he was just killed, and an alien trying to destroy the world. Maybe that was it--too many disparate threads. At least in HITCHIKER'S GUIDE you could name the central problem--Earth is destroyed, Arthur is the only human survivor. Maybe I'll re-read that this month.

Block is a prolific (was? he might be dead now, that's bad that I don't know) author of mysteries and thrillers. This non-fiction book is a collection of essays grouped thematically for writers. Some I really enjoyed. The book ends with "A Prayer from a Writer" that I thought was particularly good.

A SPIDER'S THREAD/Laura Lippman/A-
Another one I really wanted to love and it came close. I've loved the two stand alone's of Lippman's that I've read--this is the first of her Tess Monaghan series that I've picked up. Tess is a private detective in Baltimore who's asked by an Orthodox Jew to find out why his wife has vanished with their 3 children. I liked the multiple viewpoints in the story, liked Tess herself (although not overwhelmingly), and thought the mystery was quite good. It didn't get an A because it became more of a thriller than a mystery and just didn't engage me as much when I knew what was going on before the end. But a good book.

A ha! An A book. It was a re-read, me reading aloud to my husband as we drove to and from Oregon over spring break. Bill Bryson on the Appalachian trail, I reviewed it sometime last year. Still funny. Still engaging. Still Bryson.

White was the guest of honor at Left Coast Crime and I got these two paperbacks free in my bag. I enjoyed them well enough, but doubt I'll look for more on my own. Both are part of the Alan Gregory series about a clinical psychologist in Boulder, Colorado with an attorney wife and a cop friend. They're thrillers, with Gregory in both books trying to balance his ethical requirement to keep patient confidentialiaty with his need to keep himself or others alive. Gregory himself didn't do much for me, probably the number one reason I won't bother with more books about him unless they fall into my lap. But I read both of them quickly and did want to know how the stories turned out, so take that for what it's worth.

This was my favorite of the new books I read this month. Actually, we started out listening to it on CD while we drove to Zion National Park last week. When we got home, I picked it up in my daughter's room to finish. Lyra lives in a world a good deal like ours, but with some signifcant differences --like the fact that every human has a daemon, a sort of soul embodied outside of them. Lyra and her daemon become caught up in the world of religion and politics and when a rare instrument falls into her hands, she must use it to help save abducted children and her imprisoned uncle. There are wonderful fantasy touches like armored bears and mechanical spy bugs, but Pullman's gift is in creating a world with people who are as real as anyone around you. I loved Lyra and can't wait to finish the series to see what happens to her.

Thursday, May 01, 2008


A post about writing.

Even more amazing, a post about writing that isn't filled with moans and groans and whining. (Which is kind of hard to get away with, since every time I start to whine about how hard writing is, there's that annoying voice in my head going, "Well, it's not like anyone's forcing you to do this!")

Yesterday and today, I actually wrote. Fiction. More than a couple of sentences. In fact, I got chapter 6 and chapter 7 of Annest in fairly good shape. It's the first serious writing I've done since February and it feels wonderful. Last night I went to bed thinking, "So that's what I like about writing."

I've been at this too long to believe this will last forever. The trick is to celebrate when it comes. (The other trick being, of course, how to keep working even when it goes.)

I'm not going to make promises about what I'll finish when--life this year is teaching me too much about flexibility and chaos--but my goal is to have this wrapped up and ready to send out sometime this summer. How's that for a nice, loose, easygoing kind of goal?