Sunday, January 6, 2008


Since the temperatures were in the 50s today, and our lovely snow is just a memory, I thought I'd begin my blog with some wintry pictures.
This was right out our front door and looks kind of dangerous. Actually there was lots of room to skirt around those daggers. I have to say that this winter has been a wonderful one for icicles. (I know, they aren't really a good thing - ice dams and all - but I like them!) As we'd drive to work in the afternoon, I would see fantastic groups of icicles hanging that would grow and change with each day. They remind me of my childhood when we'd break one off the lower roof and suck on it! We never gave a thought to whether it was dirty water or not - actually in those days, the icicles were probably much cleaner than they are now. Anyway, they seem so much like seasonal stalactites and I will always enjoy seeing them.
Speaking of work, (I mentioned it in the above paragraph) the building we work in is about 100 years old and 2 1/2 stories high. It's on a dead end street with our big parking lot at the opposite end of where Steve and I work. So, we generally park on the street near the building. For many years we've seen snow slide down off the roof (it has a fairly gentle peak) on to the sidewalk below and covering cars. The company had installed special cleats to hold the snow but I guess they had come off in spots. To make a long story short, with the snow and freezing rain we'd had, conditions that were perfect for a huge buildup of frozen snow to accumulate. Then temperatures got quite a bit warmer allowing the bottom layer of ice to "let go" of the roof and huge sheets of 3" thick ice as well as a foot of snow came crashing down! Unluckily, Steve's pick-up truck was one of the 3 vehicles that was hit with this mess.
The box was completely packed with ice and snow, the antenna was bent, and most of the passengers side of the truck had many small dents in it. We were lucky - one of our workmates' truck roof was bowed in, windshield wipers broken and large dents and another fellow's windshield was cracked. Here are pictures I took at home that night.
Our company said they would pay for all the repairs and even the cost of a loaner car one man needed, so there was a fairly happy ending. It took Steve a long time to get the box cleaned out.
I wrote a while ago about my rebounder and how I'm going to get into shape this year. I've also decided to try to use natural and organic products whenever possible. I'd read somewhere that our skin is our largest organ and absorbs the most chemicals and toxins so the bath and shower products, lotions, dish liquids, shampoos and conditioners etc. we use should be the most pure we can find. ( I know, I know, makeup has some really scary stuff in it too, but I'm just not ready to give up my Loreal eye-liner and shadow!) It's also been suggested that all the additives, preservatives, and chemicals that we ingest or absorb hinder us when it comes to losing weight. I don't know, but there is probably some truth in that.
I'm a real fanatic for bath and shower gels and soaps and love having different types and scents for whatever mood I'm in (sounds kind of shallow, doesn't it??). So when I would find something that smelled great I'd buy it, no matter the chemicals. But now I've made a real effort to get rid of my toxic things and little by little replace them with organic products. We've got a nice natural food store, Good Harvest Market, nearby so I was there this weekend to get shampoo, conditioner, soap, and dish liquid. I also picked up organic apples, tea, napa cabbage, ground beef, and carrots. Everything organic or "natural" is a lot more expensive but I'm eating much less and have to change my consumer ways. It would be extremely difficult monetarily if I had a big family and wanted to eat and live organically.
Besides the good food and less chemicals in my diet I'm on my rebounder in the basement nearly every day. It is fun and easy on my knees. I'm on it barefoot (tried it with tennis shoes but my feet really hurt) and sometimes, especially if it's after work, my feet will hurt . I'll have to find some kind of support for my feet and ankles.
This is the DVD that I use. Notice it's for "older or inactive adults ", but you can still work up a sweat.
A view of the trainers.
My Urban rebounder with the "stabilizing bar" that is extremely comforting. A person is only supposed to jump about an inch or two above the mat but it feels like a couple of feet up in the air! It's nice to have that bar since my balance has really gone to hell as I've gotten older. This type of exercise is supposed to help regain good balance which would be great. (See that big bag of pug food in the back ground!!) And, so far, I've lost 8 pounds - I'm figuring 1 to 2 lbs a week - that way it won't seem so difficult.
Sometimes Thea will come down the steps and sit on the top of that chest of drawers and watch me. Or, other times she'll get on the rebounder while I'm using it and kind of bounce around until she realizes I won't pick her up. Then she'll visit the fish who are nearby and drink some "fish water".
Sadly, since this picture, the lovely white Comet pictured at the top left has died. You never can tell with fish, but I felt really bad since she's been with us for over 2 years. The rest of the fishies are doing fine and I'm sure they can't wait to be outdoors.
I wish I'd come upon this web site a few years ago. It is an excellent tool for checking out different types of charities and I highly recommend it. One of the "Ten Tips for Giving" they had was not to give small amounts to a number of different charities. (I had done just that - $25 to many various groups.) The reasoning is that to most charities small sums don't cover even their mailing expenses, so they sell your name to other charities for more money than you have given them!! I can attest to that. Last year I received scores and scores of mail solicitations and couldn't figure out why.
Charity Navigator suggests that if you give larger sums, $75 - $100, to just a few special charities they will want to keep your "business" and not alienate you by selling your name. This site shows which groups agree not to sell your info, and in pie chart format (my favorite visual aid type) shows exactly where and in what percentage the money is used. There is a "star" rating that is a nice, at-a-glance way of checking out a charity. And nearly every category of need is covered. A wonderful site and I was happy to see that the organizations I've been giving to scored highly.
Did universal charity prevail, earth would be a heaven,
and hell a fable.
C.C. Colton
Bye for now,


Kerri said...

Great post Alyssa! That rebounder looks pretty neat....I would definitely need that stabilizing bar.

Congrats on the 8 lbs!!!

Alyssa said...

Kerri - Thanks a lot. Sometimes we all need a "stabilizing bar"! I'll keep plugging away and keep everyone informed.

Pam said...

I am a supporter of natural and organic whenever possible. You will notice a difference in how you feel, in time. The lack of chemicals will help protect you from disease and will probably help with weight because it's a different kind a eating altogether.

Nasty bit of a mess, that snow, eh? It comes off the roof of our house like that, so we have to be careful.

DeeMom said...

Super Post Alyssa,I got some ice pictures as well, Wish the ice formed closer to my I could get up close

Will check that link for sure

Mary said...

HI Alyssa,

What a great post loaded with good news. It became warmer and you have lost 8 pounds! Congrats! I should be so ambitious. Maybe after this dreadful cold clears up...

Sorry about Steve's truck. Weird things happen.


Alyssa said...

Pam - I can already feel the difference after a month and a half. It's fun to check out all the differnt alternative available at the health food store. I'm finding it to be a lot of fun!

Dee - Sadly all our icicles are gone. We had temps up to 60 on Monday! And there was a tornado a little to the south of us. Strange weather. I liked the snow better than what there is now.

Mary - Actually, I'd rather it was colder. This warm weather feels just Wrong!! It's going to be back to normal as of tomorrow. I hope you get feeling better soon. When I've got a bad cold, I can't even think of exercising or dieting so you aren't alone with those kinds of thoughts. Take care.

Gina said...

alyssa - i need an urban rebounder update please and thank you!

kate said...

It sounds as if you are making some good and healthy changes in your life. I've never heard of the rebounder - it's a great idea.

We have started eating more organic products, but not completely. It is just too costly when feeding a 15-yr.-old boy.

It's great that you are getting more active and eating better.

Those are amazing icicles! We haven't had many this winter. It has been consistently cold and snowy. I miss them ... luckily no one was hurt when the snow and ice decided to take a dive off the roof of your company!