songbird's crazy world

life in and around NYC is insane

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Thanksgiving HodgePodge

This week's questions from  Joyce.

1. tightly do you cling to tradition when it comes to holiday gatherings and celebrations? For instance do you always do the cooking, never eat at home, always go to grandma's, never miss the parade, always watch football, never change the menu, always eat at 2 PM, etc.? Have you ever celebrated Christmas or Thanksgiving away from hearth, home, and family? How did that feel?

Family dynamics keep changing, so our holiday is not completely set in stone, but we will dine in the late afternoon/early evening.  My sister always wants to eat at 4 PM, but she's never able to get everything ready by then. And the friends who join us every year always run late...

 2. it easy for you to ask for help or are you a do-it-yourselfer? How is that a good/bad thing?
I'm fairly independent, reluctant to ask for help unless I have tried to handle it myself first. 

 3. Abundance...what is there an abundance of in your kitchen?

Clutter.  Need I say more?

 4. Name...the smallest thing you're thankful for? the biggest?

The big stuff is what we all have, or strive for.  Health, love, family, security. 

The small thing?  A gadget that makes my life so much easier.  It's a hook that latches on to the side of my purse and keeps my keys accessible.  I'm so happy about this hook that I actually blogged about it a few months ago.  Read about it here.

 5. Key...What do you think is the key to living a more grateful life?

Noticing and appreciating the small things, understanding that nothing is promised.

 6. State your own random thought here.

We are headed into another holiday season.  A time to celebrate, to enjoy life, but also a time to reflect on the passing of time and plan for the coming new year.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

And he’s gone

It seemed like all of his fans participated in the death watch.  It started on Saturday, when we heard he was in a hospital in Florida.  The prognosis was not good.  And then we were told that his family rushed to his side.  We were told the “expect the worst”.

He held on for several days.

But it was inevitable.

The announcement came tonight.

Rest In Peace, David Cassidy. We will always remember your smile, your angelic voice, the pleasure of watching you perform.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Sad tonight

About 4 1/2 years ago I saw a concert — you can read about it here — that was a dream come true for my 10-year-old self: I saw a David Cassidy concert.

Cassidy toured with Mickey Dolenz of the Monkees and Peter Noone of Herman’s Hermits.  It was billed as a “ teen idols” tour.  It was supposed to be Cassidy and Davy Jones, since Jones had helped Cassidy come to term with his teen idol past. But Jones had passed away in 2012.  Still, it was a great concert.

It was actually the second time I’d seen Cassidy live.  The first was when he, his brother Shaun, and Petula Clark appeared together on Broadway, in a show called Blood Brothers.  A fantastic musical with amazing performances, it really showed off Cassidy’s talent as an actor and singer.

Back in February we learned that Cassidy was retiring because of ill health.  I wrote about it here.

And now, some ten months later, he is in a Florida hospital, surrounded by his family, and the prognosis is very, very poor.

I am about to lose another of my teen idols.
This is just too sad ...

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Weight Watchers redux

So I did a bit of research.  I signed into my account at Weight Watchers, and I read their Facebook page.

And a lot of it sounded all too familiar.  Complaints about the technology crashing.  Complaints about customer service issues and problems cancelling an account.  Complaints about Oprah taking over.  Some things never change.

So I know what I’d be getting myself into if I rejoined.  I’d be double tracking anyhow, I have a streak going at My Fitness Pal, so if I couldn’t get into the Weight Watchers app, I’d still be able to track.

I looked at the schedule at my meeting center.  My “7 pm on Tuesdays” meeting is gone, but there’s a 5:30 on Tuesdays, and meetings on Wednesday and Thursday evenings as well.

When last I looked, the company was trying to expand into fitness classes, offering Tai Chi at some meeting centers.  Apparently that didn’t work out.  But I belong to the JCC, and I have access to the gym at work.  

There were some complaints from UK members, they don’t like the new program.  But it’s not the same outrage that I saw two years ago, where there was a mass exodus after the program change.

So...the new program is still a variation on Smart Points, but now lean proteins (chicken, turkey, fish), eggs, and nonfat yogurt are 0 Points.  So when carbs use up a lot of points (my chief complaint when the original program rolled out) you can still find nutritious choices that won’t break the bank.  

So I’m considering it.

Weight Watchers? Well ...

If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you know that weight is a major issue for me.  I’ve had a serious weight problem since my teens, and throughout my adult life.

And I had many, many attempts to lose weight.  I’d lose a few pounds, fall off the wagon, gain it all back, and more, too.

About 10 years ago I lost 70 pounds.  The euphoria didn’t last. Neither did the weight loss.

The lesson to be learned?  You can’t fix what’s on your plate until you fix what’s in your head.

And then, in March 2015...

My weight was creeping up into a range I’d never seen before, and my health was suffering.  My doctor said I could undo some of the damage if I lost weight.  The surgeon suggested I consider weight loss surgery, he recommended his favorite bariatric procedure, the “gastric sleeve”.

Scary proposition, wasn’t it?

Then another doctor suggested I lose some weight in anticipation of the surgery.

So I did what I had done before:  I joined Weight Watchers.

And I was successful at losing weight.

And then, six months later ... meltdown.

Weight Watchers has an interesting business model.  They revamp the program every two years.  Sometimes the changes are subtle.  Sometimes they completely redesign the program.    Two years ago the company introduced a brand-new version of the program called “Smart Points”.  And at the same time, they redesigned the website and apps.  So we all found ourselves trying to learn new technology — which kept crashing — along with the new program.

The frustration with the software, that I could manage.

The new program?  Not so much. I found it totally unworkable, far too restrictive.

When I was sitting in a meeting in tears, and the leader had nothing useful to say ...

I felt angry.  Betrayed.  I’d been a Weight Watchers member, on and off, for decades.  And what had always worked for me was no longer reliable.

I quit Weight Watchers, and continued to lose weight on my own.

Well, it’s two years later, and I’m floundering a bit.  I’ve gained back a few pounds. I am not happy.  I need to refocus.

And, like clockwork, Weight Watchers is making changes again.

They rolled out the new version in the UK this week.  The US version will be released December 3.

The articles I saw online describe the changes, and I am intrigued.  The modifications seem to address all the problems that made the plan unworkable.

And to tell the truth, I miss going to the meetings.  Online support groups are a pale imitation of the real deal.

I think I will be rejoining Weight Watchers.

Friday, November 17, 2017

#SkywatchFriday -- autumn sunset

Wednesday, November 15, 2017


grab button for From this Side of the Pond

Joyce always poses interesting questions.


1. What takes you out of your comfort zone?

What popped into my head when I saw this was ...athletics.  I’ve been a couch potato most of my life, only recently discovered a real interest in gym-based activity.  I’m not very good at it, but I’m trying.

2. Your least favorite spice?

Actually an herb, dill.  There’s a diner in the neighborhood that uses dill in the tzaziki, and it’s not my choice ...

3. What's a small change you'd like to make?

I’d like to be a bit less distracted and more on point.  Lately I find myself all over the place.

4. Do you enjoy visiting historic homes? If so, of the homes you've visited which one was your favorite? What historic home near you is open to visitors? Have you been? Southern Living rounded up eleven of the best in the southern part of the US and they're as follows-

Monticello (Jefferson's home in Virginia), Nathaniel Russel House (Charleston SC), Swan House (Atlanta), Ernest Hemingway's home (Key West), The Biltmore (Vanderbilt home in Asheville NC), Mount Vernon (Washington's home in Virgina), San Francisco Plantation (Garyville, Louisiana), Windsor Ruins (Port Gibson Mississippi), Longue Vue House and Gardens (New Orleans), Whitehall (Palm Beach FL), and Pebble Hill Plantation (Thomasville GA)

Have you been to any on the list? Of the homes listed which would you most like to visit?

I love history, I love visiting historical sites.  I loved the mansions in Newport, RI.  Of the homes listed here, I’ve seen only one, Mount Vernon.  I’d love to see all the others.  Hemingway’s house is supposed to be interesting.

5. What's something you think will be obsolete in ten years? Does that make you sad or glad?

Cursive writing.  And I won’t miss it.  My own handwriting is awful.   And I’m in a paper-oriented business, where deciphering handwritten materials has not been fun.

A former coworker was born in Egypt and educated in Tel Aviv and London.  He was fluent in Arabic, Hebrew, English and French.    When you looked at his files, you’d have to ask if his handwritten notes were really in English, because his writing looked like Arabic.  When we went to an electronic note taking system, it made a huge difference.

6.  Insert your own random thought here.

Is it Friday yet?

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