December 2018

I have the squash, apple, pecan, and cranberry bake ready to go into the oven. I have Aunt Tillie Potatoes ready, too. I have chopped the veggies and am pretty ready for Christmas Eve feasting.

Here is the importance of family stories. We have no Aunt Tillie. What we have is a family story instead.

I do have an Aunt Kathy. She always had wonderful things to serve when we went back to Illinois at Christmas time. I remember some dip for Fritos that was delicious and is just called Aunt Kathy’s dip and she made these wonderful cheesy potatoes that we called Aunt Kathy’s potatoes. We all knew what those were so whatever the official name was supposed to be was totally unnecessary for communication within the family.

Many, many years ago, Cheri worked at a bank. She was a teller there. They had a potluck dinner and she brought Aunt Kathy’s potatoes to share. Everybody loved them and they disappeared quickly. Of course, as with most businesses, the help likes to party at lunchtime. So there were future potluck dinners.

Another teller asked Cheri to bring Aunt Tillie’s potatoes. Cheri had no idea what she was talking about and thought it was some special recipe. When she asked where she could find this recipe, the coworker was puzzled. She said they were the potatoes she brought to the last potluck.

And so, the potatoes were renamed. They are officially now Aunt Tillie’s potatoes although we know no Aunt Tillie. They remain delicious although I no longer add the stick of butter to them. If you would like to make some Aunt Tillie potatoes, you can.

2# frozen hash browns, thawed ½ to 1 hour
1 cup chopped onions
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 pint sour cream
1 stick margarine
8 ounces grated cheddar cheese

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl and place in a greased 9 x 13 pan. Cook 45 minutes to 1 hour at 375⁰ until golden brown. (It’s easier to mix together the thawed potatoes, onions, and cheese before adding mixed together sour cream and soup. If the dry and then wet ingredients are mixed separately first, they mix together better without pockets of unmixed stuff showing up in the bake. Adding the butter/margarine made it too much for us.)

They are simply delicious and go well with ham, which is our main entrée for the feast. And they make us smile as we remember the story each time we make them.

May your holiday be merry and bright. Enjoy your meal. Tell some family stories to keep the traditions alive. Share your history with the next generations.

Merry Christmas.

Christmas Greeting Merry Christmas Christmas Card


We don’t know what the workout is going to be until we show up at the gym. We know what movements are going to be in the WOD, but we don’t know exactly how that’s going to work. On Mondays, we know nothing. But for the rest of the week, the moves are posted on Monday morning.

We also don’t know what day of the week is going to turn into a partner workout. It used to be every Thursday, but then some people were cranky or something and so now we take our chances. Partners are usually arrived at by drawing names from the Red Bag. When there won’t be enough bars for everyone if we don’t all share, that can change.

Thursday’s movement was “run”. That was it. Thursday was also stormy. It wasn’t pouring for 8 AM and I had no idea how this was going to work, but I go to the gym on Thursday and so there I was. I was there alone at first and then just me and Laura. I had a chance to talk. First, I had read the board and noticed that we didn’t have to run in the rain. She had switched Thursday and Friday and we just had a regular workout on the board.

But Friday was going to be running. I don’t. I walk. I walk faster than I can run over the long haul, but I really can run a teeny tiny bit. I just can’t do anything after I run. But I knew the workout was going to be four 400 meter runs with a two minute rest between each. I asked how much disturbance in the force would happen if I actually ran but did only 200 meters. I haven’t been able to run 400 meters even once since I started CrossFit and it doesn’t look like I will ever have the endurance to do so. But I have run 200 meters.

Everyone knows I walk half the distance and that takes me about the same time it takes everyone else to run. But this new proposal would thwart that.

We watch each other. We know who doesn’t do the full range of motion and who miscounts their reps. We know who the cheaters are. I’m not a cheater. This is simply a scale. At least that’s how I look at it. I’m doing my best. I’m just not the same age as all those younger, faster, fitter people I spend time with there at the gym.

Laura was pleased to hear that I was willing to give running a try. And she gave me her blessing as well as her protection for my version of the running WOD.

She also suggested that I wait until my heart rate was low enough and not be concerned with how much rest I took between runs. We were only keeping track of our times on the runs and didn’t have to worry about total time taken. It was nice to know that someone there was experienced with CPR, too. Not that I was going to need it, but it was nice to have available, just in case.

So today, for the first time ever, there was a running WOD and I ran. I ran my first 200 meters in 1.01. I rested two minutes and was able to run again. Second time was 1.03 but my heart rate was higher at the finish. I rested 2:15 that time and got back on the third round in 1.05. I had a higher heart rate again and the longer I work, the longer it takes to get it back down. So I waited 2.5 minutes before heading out on my last run. I managed it in one minute even.

Today I ran a half mile. I know there are marathoners and super-marathoners out there who would scoff at such a “feat” but for me, it is a win. I haven’t run that much in years and probably decades. I know it was just in spurts and I know that other people, even people my very own age and older, can run farther and faster. But I couldn’t and yet today, I did.

Just as an aside, yesterday’s usurped WOD was heavy kettlebell swings at 70/53. I usually use the 26 pound kettlebell so I tried using the 35 pound one. I had used a 30 pound before at CrossFit Summerville but that’s not available here. I gave the heavier one a try. And it worked. So I used it for the WOD and managed to get five rounds of the crap in seven minutes which was only a total of 15 kettlebell swings, but it was a PR for me there, too.

Merry Christmas to me. I’m racking up the PRs before I turn 66 like they are free candy. Who knows what I’m going to be able to do now!


At Forge, we did the annual horror known as 12 Days of Christmas yesterday. After we were finished killing ourselves we went out to eat together. It was a fun morning and no one actually died. At least, not that I know of.

Lisa and I were in the first heat and she said something about the old, slow people going first. I agreed with her and then the next thing she said made me think that she thought she was older than me. I knew she wasn’t because we just celebrated her 60th birthday. I said I was much older and she asked how old. I said I was turning 66 in two weeks. She then said she didn’t know if she would still be doing this at 66. I told her she would be because she is doing it now.

It is so much easier to keep going than it is to start. We are the only two people at Forge in the 60 decade. There are a few more in their 50s. One of them is Chuck. As we were waiting for our orders to arrive for our feast, Chuck said he was the oldest person there.

Lisa and I were sitting nearly directly opposite him. We looked at each other and then looked at him and told him he wasn’t even close. He laughed and then nodded in agreement.

The point? The older you get, the harder it is and the more badass you are for even getting into the ring. This is really a young person’s game. That’s why in competitions, they start scaling around 30 or 35. Those people can’t compete with the 20 year olds. It is just a fact that we peak early and then there is the rest of our lives to slowly go downhill.

The good part is, if you do stuff like take the risk and hit the gym, that downhill slide is slowed. Not just a little, but by leaps and bounds.

It took me six years and I had given up trying to get Dick to go to the gym with me. He’s pushing 70 and feeling the years creeping up on him faster and faster. There was a great special going on and he took the risk. He has a personal trainer who is helping him defeat his demons.

On the first trip to the gym, he was given an assessment. He had thought he wasn’t in too bad of shape because he walks the golf course. I did not sneer when he said such things to me, but I knew. And after his assessment was over, he knew, too. His balance was terrible. His core strength was minimal. He came home “humbled” by the experience.

But he did not give up. He goes to the gym twice a week, once with a personal trainer and once on his own, following his own path. His balance is improved. His core strength is improved. His range of motion is improved. His attitude is improved. And as a benefit, his golf game is improved, due to all those other factors.

We old farts are in a precarious position. It is beyond difficult to start. But once we get going, we are forces to reckon with. We know that nothing happens instantly. We know we don’t win every game. We have a lifetime of experience behind us. And we know this crap is difficult for everyone and even more so for us oldies but goodies. We are truly special and in a very good way.

We put in the effort and eventually reap results. We astound our peers. We encourage those younger than us who are fearing the aging process. We aren’t younger than our years, we are fitter than our peers. It shows. We do the things. We may not do all of them and we may have to accommodate our own slipping health. We give a nod to our old bodies while pushing them to the limits, and often beyond. We are the shining examples of what can happen when you make the effort.


Here is something I never thought I would say. I had a bit of a revelation today and it made me recall other incidents of its same type.

We’ve all heard that comparison is the thief of joy. Since none of us is the same as anyone else, they are always incomparable comparisons. And yet, we compare all the time. Who has the best car, the biggest house, the most money, the highest grades, and the best scores on the CrossFit board? We can’t help but compare because none of us really know what the hell we are doing.

We had a new member show up on a day when it was just a bunch of horrible stuff. And then she continued to show up the rest of the week. That was great. Then she missed a week. Then she missed a day. She finally came back today.

Laura brought her over to me and asked me to tell her how you get strong. I flexed, pointed out that I would be 66 in a couple weeks, and I got all this doing CrossFit. Not doing cardio, not running, not picking up five pound dumbbells, but by doing CrossFit and lifting heavy until it isn’t heavy anymore. That’s the only way to get from spaghetti arms to muscles.

The new and hopeful gym rat had been discouraged by having to use the PVC pipe and still not master the movement. We all start back there at the beginning, but with time and practice we get to the present and move things with weights.

But this is the thought that hit my like a ton of bricks today. There I am, moving weights, albeit not excessively heavy ones, and I have gray hair (I don’t color) and wrinkles (I don’t Botox). I can do the stuff – at least some of the stuff. I swing kettlebells and lift barbells, and snatch dumbbells, and perch atop boxes, and hang from the rig.

I’m intimidating to new people. They can see I’m older than dirt. I was nagging God at the creation. Yet here I am, doing the stuff that these new people can’t do. They are younger, often by decades if not generations and they can’t do what I can do. And I scare them.

When they compare themselves as a newbie who doesn’t even know what a snatch is – at least the ones at the gym – to my tossing an entire barbell with plates up over my head, they can’t match me. Pitiful, old, feeble me. How horrible it must be to see the very old lady doing the things and not be able to keep up with her.

I told our current new person how I started everything with a PVC pipe. I could do exactly nothing when I started. I’ve been at this for years. If she would keep at it for six month, she would surpass me in everything. She is relatively fit, just not strong. And she is far younger than me. And she seems determined even if I scared her.

I remember the statuesque woman who kept trying to do push-ups and couldn’t and would say over and over, “But you can.” Well, I couldn’t when I started and if she had kept coming back, she would be totally rocking this stuff now. But she didn’t come back because she couldn’t do the things. Not only that, but I could.

I would like everyone to know that if they worked as hard at this as I have, they would also not be in the same place they are now, not having worked at all. It’s not my age that makes this awesome. It is the fact that I’ve kept at it for so many years. I’m not the strongest, fastest, most able person in the gym. I’m just the oldest. And I do things. Not all the things, but many of them. And if you go to the gym regularly, put in the effort, learn the skills, practice your moves with integrity, you will be able to do the things, too.


I’ve been not diabetic, as a diagnosis rather than a state of being, for nearly three months now. I know this because I’m soon going to have to get my prescription refilled and it was for 90 days worth of pills. After the initial shock, the reality sunk in and I’ve been more or less okay with the whole mess.

I say more or less because I can still cry over the dumbest of things. I don’t cry with each trip to the grocery store anymore, but I was still able to shed tears when thinking of all the Christmas cookies I couldn’t have and wouldn’t bake. It’s not that I really liked the baking part, but I sure did like the eating part.

Someone asked me yesterday if I couldn’t just cheat and eat some. I could. But the cheater and the cheated would be the same person – me. I know I could have one or two cookies without a problem, but the cookies I really like and am missing the most are the ones that Dick doesn’t eat at all. Candied cherries, candied pineapple, and dates along with the chocolate chips make it way outside what I should be eating by the recipe full. So, I don’t get them. I will live and I will be fine.

I’ve found some really good recipes and some sorta good recipes so far. I have purchased a variety of odd foods. I have fake sugar which is really so not Paleo as to be ludicrous, but there you have it. There are no foods we eat today that are the same as they were thousands of years ago, anyway, so I guess I’m just working with what I have. Broccoli used to be a flower. Almonds were never supposed to be milk.

I lost five pounds in the first couple weeks because I couldn’t find anything to eat. All the foods I love to eat are high in carbs. This is the whole root of my problem. I love French fries and Tater Tots. I love pasta. I love good bread. And I adore dessert. I have always built my entrée choices when dining out based on the dessert menu and what I wanted to eat later. Even the salads I enjoy most are filled with dried cranberries and candied pecans.

I’ve more or less stabilized my eating but have still managed to lose another five pounds. I wasn’t terribly overweight, and losing ten pounds has been an asset. If I lost another five, that would be okay. After that, well, I better find more to eat. But I haven’t gone a single day being hungry. I have to remind myself to eat more calories on the days I don’t work out. I don’t have all the calories I consume with my pre-workout stuff and recovery eating on those days.

I’m not delighted with this diagnosis, but it hasn’t been as horrible as I first imagined. On Thanksgiving, I ate carefully, but didn’t even really keep track. I just know what I had and what I didn’t eat and still had a great day. For my birthday, I will go to Kaminsky’s and I will get something decadent. I will not eat all of it and I will not bring the rest home. I will eat some and love it. I’m going to guess that with all that sugar in it, it would be a bit nauseating if did try to eat the whole thing. My body is no longer used to that stuff.

What I have noticed the most is how many of our easy, grab and run foods are full of carbs. Years ago, there were studies saying how fats were our enemies and making us obese. The sugar industry may have funded some of these. My diet has been fat heavy (isn’t that a ludicrous phrase?) and I’ve lost ten pounds only because I cut out the carbs (and not even all of them). Snacking has been the most difficult part of the process. I have some low carb snacks available now, but they were the hardest things to find. And they are always more expensive than high sugar foods. Apparently that high fructose corn syrup is so damn cheap, they can put it in everything and so – they do.

The internet has made this transition a lot easier, too. I can look up some keto recipe online and get hundreds or thousands or way too many hits. It has helped me to make some really wonderful new dishes that have been amazingly low in carbs. I made lasagna without noodles (using zucchini) and even Dick liked it. We had lasagna! For less than five carbs. I wouldn’t have ever thought of that by myself.

All in all, this is getting to be more of my routine and I’m growing accustomed to it. Even if my A1C number is better in another three months, I know I can’t go back to 300-400 carbs a day, what I apparently was eating before, without a problem. Even if my diagnosis goes away, I can’t pretend I’m not at risk. I am learning a lot with this new chapter, and I guess that’s really the important part.


I know what I am supposed to do. I don’t always do it, not because I want to be stubborn or perverse, but because there are times when I’m so chagrined, horrified, and hopelessly saddened that I just can’t make myself do the one thing I know would be best for me.

I choose, far too often, to critique myself harshly. I see the flaws, the mistakes, the imperfections. I’ve been like this my whole life and perfectionism has never worked for me. However, I stick with the familiar even when it is detrimental. I understand I’m not the only person to do this.

Where it shows up the most nowadays, is in my gym life. To be fair, I will rip out rows of crochet to fix a mistake back there even though no one else would see it or notice. So even now, it’s not just the gym. For Thanksgiving, my squash didn’t cook up perfectly and I don’t really know why except perhaps it was because it was refrigerated before baking instead of more room temperature. But I worried about that for days afterwards, too.

This is just what I do to make myself miserable I guess. Lately, I’ve been having a run of good days at the gym. This is amazing, but I’ve done it before. I’m coming home happy with what I’ve managed to do. I know what I do is pretty damn awesome and I have given myself the proverbial pat on the back. It has made going to the gym quite a bit less stressful and quite a bit more enjoyable.

My list of things I can’t do hasn’t really shortened to nothing (but I have been stringing more and more double unders together of late). Somehow, and I have no idea how or why, I’ve been able to focus more on what I’m getting done instead of what I can’t do.

I have managed to do this for a while in the past, and then something happens and I never know what that will be, and it all turns to dust. I stop seeing what I can do and only see how much I have to scale and how weak I am even after all this time.

Intellectually, I know that most people can’t do what I do. I know that even fewer people my age can manage all the things I manage. Even fewer of them are women. I also know I’m limited in many respects by my age and gender and it irritates me. That’s rather stupid, but there you have it. I’m not getting any younger and this is the gene set I was given long, long ago.

One would think that if I could figure out how to be happy at the gym for a couple weeks, I would know how to be happy at the gym for all the weeks. I’m enjoying this respite from self loathing and high critique, but I know it won’t last. At least, it never has before. If there was some magic thing I could do or say to myself, I would gladly do or say it in order to keep this bubble of contentment going.

Maybe if I write it down here and when things go to hell in the always present handbasket, I can see that I’m not forced to live in the dark and brooding discontent of imperfection, but can enjoy the process of improvement and sustaining the good health I have.

And on a health note: I’ve been doing pretty good with all the carb counting and haven’t gone over my limit since I was given this stupid diet. I did not count anything at all for Thanksgiving, but I was careful in my food choices.

I’ve found some keto recipes and some diabetic recipes and I’ve been experimenting with other food options. I’ve bought some Miracle Noodles that are carb free from Amazon. They are coming tomorrow. I have no idea what they will taste like, but if they are like the two desserts I’ve managed to bake and eat, then I should be all right. I’m getting more used to this restriction and it is getting less daunting.

Today, I’m reveling in the joy of my life. I hope I can keep this up for a while.