Archive for February, 2011


You have no idea how close I came to posting another photo of poop today. Apparently, it was just too cold outside to take the dog all the way out. Letting it do its business just outside the elevator was close enough. I’m trying to keep a positive attitude and not dwell on the negatives, though, so I refrained from taking the picture. Instead, I’ll show you how gorgeous the view was from the deck this morning.

It was really, REALLY cold this morning. I was seriously considering just walking to the tree, taking a photo and turning back.

I didn’t do anything to alter the color on that shot. The sky really was that blue. When I approached the tree I realized I was getting bored with photographing it from a distance so I got as close as I could without ending up in the blackberry bushes. Once I took the picture I decided to keep walking, but just couldn’t bring myself to taking the same route I normally do. Even heading East just didn’t seem appealing. It’s not like it wouldn’t have been beautiful or that I couldn’t take any good photos. I just wanted something new and different.

I took a path I hadn’t been on before, but it put me right back at the tree with the confused moss. I still wanted to see something new and different so I crossed the bridge and turned left knowing that I’d eventually reach the Knickerbocker bridge where I could head back. I ended up on a gravel path that didn’t have much to look at so I started taking pictures of the frozen puddles. So much for new and different.

As I walked along, avoiding the mud, I was starting to think that I was just going to have a collection of puddle pictures to post. I ended up taking others, so I’ll just show you my favorites.

My positive attitude was rapidly fading as the lack of interesting things to look at allowed me time to ponder my total loss of control the night before. I kept trudging along through this wasteland, wishing I had just gone the regular way. The railroad tracks that were a ways off to my right were suddenly much closer to the path.

Not giving the close proximity of the tracks much thought, I continued on. The rocks had become larger and more difficult to walk on so I kept my head down to avoid tripping. I’m sure there were some lovely views of the river on my left, but I couldn’t be bothered. I didn’t even look up long enough to notice the two quail until they flew away as I walked right past them. All thoughts of what I ate the night before were gone. All my concentration was focussed on where I was going to place my next footstep. I did notice some interesting things that I would’ve otherwise missed had I been looking up.

By this time, I was just hoping and praying that I would reach the Knickerbocker bridge soon and that I’d even be able to get on it from where I was. Obviously, I’d taken a wrong turn somewhere because I was certainly not on the South Bank path. The last thing I wanted was to have to retrace my steps. Just as I was taking the next photo, I heard a sound coming from behind me…

…a train whistle. I turned around to see if I could tell how far away it was.

Suddenly, I was acutely aware of my surroundings. Two paths, one easier to walk on, but close to the tracks and one muddy and uneven, farther from the track, but closer to the thorny blackberry bushes and the drop off above the river.

I figured I could stay on the easier path until the train got closer and then hop over to the other. As I continued on I tried to remember just how far the cars stick out over the tracks because even on the difficult path I still wouldn’t be that far. A thought crossed my mind, “I’m either going to die or get a great shot of the train.” Then I noticed a sound was missing. I couldn’t hear the train moving on the tracks anymore. “I’m saved!” I looked back again and noticed a familiar sight that made me feel both comforted and full of regret that I hadn’t been content with the beautiful walk I could’ve taken. One that never made me wonder if I was going to die.

Then I heard it. The train was moving again. I looked ahead and much to my dismay, the rough path ended leaving just the one that I knew would put me close enough to the train to lick it as it whizzed by. What was I going to do? Even if the train passed by safely there could be another and I’d have nowhere to go. I moved past a group of trees to discover a wide spot that would give me plenty of room to stand safely while the train went by…and just in time.

Talk about feeling vulnerble.

After it passed, I saw where I actually needed to be.

Unfortunately, this was the only way to get down there.

“But wait! Maybe there’s a way down on the other side.” Nope.

So I went back to the rocks and tried to figure out the best way down…besides on my butt…that was a given. As I scaled down the “cliff” I wished I had some gloves, but I made it.

Once I got back on solid pavement I noticed some interesting and amazing artwork under the bridge.

Back out of the tunnel, I was so happy to be taking pictures of lovely trees with bright green ferns and moss.

In just minutes I was on the Knickerbocker bridge. I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to be on a bridge. Well, except for the time I was falling in love with the man who’s now my husband as we walked across the Golden Gate Bridge.

Safely back on the North Bank path I looked back across the river and saw the train track I was walking next to.

So today’s life lesson is: always be prepared. No wait, that was yesterday’s. Ok, it’s actually: Don’t take a nice, quiet, peaceful life for granted. When we think we’re bored and search for something new and exciting, we often bring trouble and drama into our lives. There’s nothing wrong with having adventures and taking risks, but there’s a right way and a wrong way. Always be prepared…and have a back-up plan. I guess it actually was part of today’s lesson after all. 😉

The kids had a snow day today so we decided they should watch a documentary with the hope that they would learn something. After browsing through Netflix for a while we chose Super Size Me. I’ve always wanted to see it and we’ve been making some healthy changes to our eating habits so it seemed like a good choice. If you’ve seen it, I’m sure you can understand that the kids have no desire to eat at McDonald’s anymore. If you haven’t, you should. It’s pretty interesting and disturbing. It was time for lunch when it was over and I found myself desparately in need of some veggies. And another big shout out to Trader Joe’s for supplying the world (well, some parts of it anyway) with minimally processed, casing-free jalapeno chicken sausage.

Breakfast – P90X Cafe Mocha protein bar (took my walk early and the kids weren’t ready for breakfast before I left so I switched it up – heaven forbid I wash the blender twice)

AM Snack – Chocolate Shakeology made with 8oz water, 4oz 1% organic milk, a little vanilla extract and exactly 1 1/2 drops peppermint extract (3 drops total in the blender – I make a double batch so I get a full serving and kids each get half a serving)

Lunch – 4c romaine lettuce, 1 jalapeno chicken sausage, 1oz crumbled feta, some peperoncini slices (didn’t count them), 1Tbs Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mixed with 2tsp Taco Bell Restaurant Sauce and a little water

PM Snack – 1/4c hummus, 1oz Trader Joe’s Stoneground Tortilla chips, 1 banana

Dinner – 1 Boca Flame Grilled burger, 1 slice colby jack cheese, 1 slice crushed wheat sourdough bread from Trader Joe’s, 1Tbs Simply Heinz ketchup (the kind without high fructose corn syrup), 1tsp yellow mustard, 1c peas, 2 wedges Weight Watchers garlic & herb cheese, 6oz Yoplait Light Blueberry Patch yogurt

Now, you’d think I would’ve been satisfied with all that, but no. I still felt like I needed something. In hindsight it was probably water, but I read it as hunger. So I had a bowl of Cheerios. Still wanted more. Two pickle spears. Didn’t cut it. Decided to just have another protein bar, Chocolate Fudge this time, knowing it would definitely fill me up and make me feel like I’d had “dessert”. After the bar, I did feel full and started cleaning up and making dinner for my husband who had just come home. I found one snack size Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup left in a bag of assorted chocolates that I’d managed to ignore all week when I picked up the bag to throw it away. “Might as well eat it,” I thought. And I did. After all, how much harm could one little piece of candy do?

It was like a switch flipped on in my head and suddenly, even though it had completely registered that I was full, I just wanted to eat everything in sight. As I pulled the hummus back out of the fridge I asked myself what in the world I thought I was doing. Then I told myself that I just wouldn’t post anything I ate after the protein bar. I rationlized that no one would ever know and I didn’t have to tell everything if I didn’t want to. It was my blog after all. I ate several spoonfuls of the hummus right out of the container, chugged some apple juice from the container, and crunched my way through a handful of croutons.

Did I stop there? No. The spicy beef and broccoli I was making for my husband was done so I had some of that, too, with rice. It was somewhere around the apple juice that I noticed I was having a little trouble breathing. That used to happen a lot when I would sit up at night eating ice cream straight from the carton. That shortness of breath usually turned into a full-on asthma attack and by the time I downed the beef and broccoli that’s where I was. Ugh. And, I hadn’t done my workout yet so I didn’t even had that option for burning off some of those extra calories. Double ugh.

I was so annoyed and disturbed that I had done that to myself again and at how easily I crossed that line. Like Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde. One minute I was in control, carefully tracking what and how much I was eating and the next minute I totally lost it. It’s like walking a tightrope. You’re so careful to stay right on track so you don’t fall and it becomes easier as you form new habits, but just when you think you’ve got it you lose your focus and crash.

When I woke up this morning I knew I had to post this, as vulnerable as it makes me feel, because the whole point of sharing my food journal is to be accountable. If I left out the bad parts I’d be lying to everyone else, but most importantly myself. So here it is and today is a new day with a chance to get back up on that tightrope and do it all over again, but better because I’ve learned from the experience.

Total Calories – at least 2900 (can’t really be sure, but I tried to account for everything), Protein – 167 grams, Carbs – 379 grams, Fat – 92 grams (YIKES!), Fiber – 38 grams

Protein 22%, Carbs 50%, Fat 28%

Total calories burned – 2567, SURPLUS (ugh!) of at least 333

The great thing about Costco is that you can get some fantastic deals, but it can also mean having huge amounts of just a few things on hand. With the Great Snowstorm of 2011 they were predicting, I knew I’d better get some more food or we’d be eating pretty much nothing but edamame, popcorn, sliced turkey and Cheerios for the next few days. That’s where Trader Joe’s comes in. If you don’t have one where you live, consider moving. You can get the best stuff there for such a great price and you can usually get in and out quickly. Besides most of the food we had for dinner, I picked up some frozen mango puree, among other things, which is a key ingredient in my favorite Greenberry Shakeology recipe. I’m sure you’ll be seeing it soon.

Breakfast – Chocolate Shakeology made with 8oz water, 4oz 1% milk (always organic by the way), a little vanilla extract and a bit of cinnamon

AM Snack – P90X Wildberry protein bar (decided to change things up a bit – usually leave this flavor for the kids because it’s their favorites)

Lunch – leftover 6in turkey sub from our Februany feast the night before – it was a delightful discovery as I really didn’t feel like making anything, 6c Smart Pop popcorn sprinkled with garlic granules and cayenne pepper

PM Snack/Post workout – running out the door to take the kids to karate I completely forgot my recovery drink (which I can feel today :/ ) Grabbed a slice of whole grain white bread and 6 extra thin slices of turkey and ate it on the way to the car. I wasn’t going to have a repeat of the pizza and cake incident. Speaking of which, it seems I wasn’t the only one dealing with a frosting addiction. One of my best friends recently made a cake for a birthday party and had thrown the leftover frosting away (in a sealed container) which she later dug out of the trash and ate with a spoon. Yes, she did give me permission to disclose this information. 🙂

Dinner – 3oz seasoned turbot (one of Chef Ramsey’s favorites and I can see why), 1c broccoli, 1/2c zucchini, 1/4c yellow onion, 1tsp olive oil, 1/4 cube chicken boullion, 1 large slice cracked wheat sourdough bread, 1tsp Smart Balance original spread

Dessert – (also thanks to Trader Joe’s) 10 TJ’s multigrain pretzel sticks, 2Tbs Rondelle Cranberry Orange spread (only $.99 for an 8oz tub), 1 mandarin orange

Total Calories – 1735, Protein – 112 grams, Carbs – 220 grams, Fat – 52 grams, Fiber – 30 grams

Protein 24%, Carbs 49%, Fat 27%

Total calories burned – 3307, deficit of 1572

Boots…check. Sweater…check. Hooded jacket…check. Spandex…check. (This time, the pants were worn under another pair of regular pants, for warmth.) Camera…check. Fully charged batteries…um, check, I think. Turns out not so much. And on one of the few days I’d have a chance to photograph some snow. Good grief. My camera still works when the batteries are low, but does some funky things with the color. As I was taking pictures, I was thankful I had a back-up plan…Picasa.

My battery situation reminded me of a story my cousin told me about one of my half brothers who passed away a few years ago. It seems he wasn’t always good at checking batteries, either. He used to spend a lot of time on weekends with my cousin and her husband taking their remote control trucks out to the desert, gravel pits, etc. I think my cousin tells it best…

“We drove out to a gravel pit and he was ready to try out his relatively new gas truck with a body he had painted himself. The body was an El Camino painted maroon and he had worked pretty hard on it. My husband asked him if he had checked the batteries in his remote and got the normal of course! He also warned him not to get the truck out of range or he would have a long walk to it because the truck would just keep going until it ran out of gas…are you seeing where this story is going? : ) 

He started running the El Camino and it took off like a shot and headed to a big mound of sand. All of a sudden he said he had no control and that’s when he realized the batteries were dead in the remote control! For some reason, he decided he could go run after the truck (running out of control now and could go 35 mph) and get it. So he takes off after the little truck and we watch, the truck hit a bump spun around and now the truck is chasing him! We started laughing hysterically as he is sprinting towards us with the truck hot on his heels! The truck hit another bump and spun around and took off the other way…of course he turned around and took off after the truck again! Are you with me, do you know what happened next?

The truck hit a bump again and took after him again…my husbnd and I were laughing so hard it was all we could do and we wished for a video because I know it would have won money! Finally the truck hit a big bump and flipped over on its top, so he was able to go get it and shut it off. We all three laughed until we cried and asked him what he was thinking! All he could say was he wanted his truck back.”

Ok, now the pictures which I think turned out pretty well considering the low batteries. Thank you Picasa! Scroll over the images for more info.

Some people have suggested that I put some photos of me on here so here’s my foot.

As I made my way back home I was thinking that it was unnecessary to close the schools, but by the time I reached my destination I thought maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea after all.

Finally back in the warmth of home, I ventured out into the cold once more. This is the view from our deck.

I don’t have a lot to say today, especially since I’m distracted by my husband and kids who are home because of the snow.  Just remember, always be prepared and have a back-up plan or you may end up running in circles. 😉

Pretty typical day…nothing special. Took advantage of Subway’s $5 for any kind of footlong deal since we were out doing the basketball practice thing when it was time for dinner.

Breakfast – Chocolate Shakeology with 8oz water, 4oz milk, a little vanilla extract and a couple drops of coconut extract

AM Snack – P90X Chocolate Peanut Butter protein bar

Lunch – 3oz Barilla Plus angel hair pasta, 3/4c Prego Heart Smart Traditional sauce (just remembered I was going to have some cucumber and Italian dressing, too, but I completely forgot)

PM Snack – forgot to have one because we ran out the door to basketball, but we ate dinner earlier than usual

Dinner – footlong Subway Gardenburger sub on whole wheat with all the veggies except cucumber (love cucumbers, just not on subs) and American cheese, light mayo and spicy mustard

Late Snack – 1/2 of the Gardenburger my son pulled of his sub because it had red peppers in it (good grief), 6oz Yoplait Light Peach Harvest, 10 Fresh Gourmet Roasted Garlic Focaccia croutons

Total Calories – 1919, Protein – 96 grams, Carbs – 286 grams, Fat – 46 grams, Fiber – 35 grams

Protein 20%, Carbs 58%, Fat 22%

Total calories burned – 3455, 1546 deficit

The original purpose of starting this walking group was to get my neighbors interested in health and fitness. So far, no one from the apartment complex has shown up. I’ve had a couple of friends join me on occasion which is great, but for the most part I’m walking solo. I suppose I could’ve just given up. It’s not like I need to walk for exercise. I’ve got plenty of fun and effective fitness programs at home like Turbo Jam, TurboFire, P90X, Brazil Butt Lift, and the one I’m currently doing…ChaLEAN Extreme. But, I keep going because I know eventually someone will join me and I have tons of energy and I love being outside taking photos of the things I find interesting.

Growing up an only child (yes, I did say I have a brother, two actually and a sister…long story for another day), I learned to enjoy time alone, but like they say…no man is an island. This morning I ended up walking next to a college student on her way to class. Even though we didn’t speak, having a companion made the chilly morning feel warmer somehow. Her presence was comforting. I knew we’d eventually part ways since I’d be slowing down to take pictures so I took this one of her as she went on her way. Yep, there’s the tree.

I went on my merry way, heading left at the tree with the confused moss instead of right toward Alton Baker Park like I normally do. I was thinking about how we need friends and family to support us as we go through life. I remembered the people who have come and gone, the ones who were there for me in tough times and the ones who were there, but still made me feel alone.

A little off the subject…couldn’t decide which angle I liked better so I posted them both.

As I thought about the times I felt alone and about all the people around us who have felt the same way, like the woman I met on my last walk, I couldn’t help but remember that we are never really alone. No doubt, there are those who disagree with me. You may even be thinking, “Oh, here we go. She’s going to get all preachy on us.” But, relax. I don’t have some secret agenda where I’m slowly going to start trying to convert the masses through my blog. I’m just sharing my thoughts and experiences and my belief that God exists and cares about us is part of my experience. If God himself hasn’t felt the need to force you to believe He exists or to trust Him, then it’s certainly not my place to, either.

For me, the question of whether God exists has never actually been a question. Just as I believe the sun is there even when it’s obscured by clouds, I believe God is there even when His presence is not obvious.

I know there are plenty of people who believe God exists, but aren’t too happy with the way He’s running things. All I can say to that is that we see our lives from a different perspective and a limited view. I’m reminded of a quote that was taped on the inside of the bathroom stall door in the girls’ dorm where I went to college. “God never leads His children otherwise than they would choose to be led, if they could see the end from the beginning, and discern the glory of the purpose which they are fulfilling as co-workers with Him.” Desire of Ages

You may not agree with me and that’s fine. I’m not here to argue the point. I just know that all aspects of my life would be much worse if it wasn’t for what God has done in my life. Those who knew me back in high school can attest to the fact that I’m not the same person I used to be…and that’s a good thing. The bottom line, and I think we can all agree, is that all of our lives will be better when we can stop thinking about ourselves long enough to see the people around us who need love, compassion and companionship and do something about it.

Again, I couldn’t decide which shot I liked better so I’m posting both. I was overjoyed that the birds weren’t bothered by my presence and allowed me to take more than one.

It looked like I wasn’t going to be taking any photos of the bottom of this bridge for a while.

After I chatted with one of the workers about the new bridge for a few minutes and continued on my way, I saw a familiar sight. A man was walking toward me with all his possessions strapped to his back, his head hung low. As I approached him I tried to catch his eye, but he just stared at the ground where his next footstep would fall. I said good morning, but he didn’t respond. Not far behind him was another man, loaded down with various packs and bags, but his head was held high. I looked him in the eye and said good morning. After a split second of shock, he smiled back and said the same. Moments later I heard him ask the worker if they would be able to go under the bridge. His reason for being under there was much better than mine, but the answer was still no.

We all need love and companionship so we need to stop and ask ourselves if the bickering and drama we sometimes allow in our lives is worth it. We need to stop taking the people around us for granted.

Going back off subject for a brief moment…perhaps this is the new OPB station since they’ve announced cutting funding to public broadcasting. Not to get all political or anything.

Ok, back on track. I’ve considered renaming this category “Ramblings with Some Focus…and Photos”. Seems fitting. As I finished up my walk and passed by Autzen Stadium I couldn’t help but notice that the wind was picking up and the trash cans that stood alone were being blown over.

The ones that were in pairs seemed to be faring better.

9 “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: 10 If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. 11 Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? 12 A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” Eccl. 4:9-12

Yeah, I just quoted the Bible, but I couldn’t have said it better myself. We need relationships, but sometimes those relationships are hard. I’ve found that when we allow God to be that third strand, those relationships transform into a source of joy, comfort and strength.

Tomorrow there may be snow so I might have to miss a day of walking. If it’s possible, I’ll go. Either way, there will be pictures. If I go, I’ll most likely be alone…or not. Just depends on how you look at it. 😉

Usually when I head out for a walk I don’t plan where I’m going or what I’m going to photograph…well, except for the tree.

But, today was different. I was on a mission. Since I had a free hand, I decided I would go back on the same path I was on the day before and pick up the bag of poop if it was still there. As I looked for it along the edge I found this instead.

Sorry, but I had to share. I was just so amused that there I was looking for poop and although it wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, I found it. Of all the times I’ve walked those trails I’ve never noticed any before. That got me thinking about a life principle brought to my attention recently through the wonderful people on my team of coaches. In life, you find what you’re looking for so you’d better look for things you want to find. Like squirrels.

Ok, maybe most of us aren’t looking for squirrels, but we all are looking for something even if we don’t realize it. Our attitudes often determine what we find in life. Positive people find positive experiences and success while negative people just can’t ever seem to catch a break. Even if we’re not exactly sure what we’re looking for, having a positive attitude and an open mind allows us to see bright spots and opportunities along the way. The more time and energy we spend focussing on what we want, or don’t want, the more likely it is that it will happen. Goals gives us direction and something to move toward. We take action so we can move closer to what we want. Eventually, we find what we’re looking for even if it doesn’t look exactly the same when we reach it. The opposite is also true. When we spend our time focussing on all the negative things that can happen we become the kind of person that negative things happen to.

For example, if a person in a relationship is constantly worried that other person will be unfaithful or leave them they begin to act distrustful and jealous, turning themselves into the kind of person their partner doesn’t want to be around. They drive the other person away, creating the very situation they’re so worried will happen. If they had believed the best and focussed on the positives in the relationship they would’ve been that much more irresistible to their partner, creating a strong, happy relationship.

Besides looking for that green bag, I had another mission. WordPress has a weekly photo challenge and the title this week is Refuge. I was looking for something that would fit, though I wasn’t exactly sure what it would be. Since I hadn’t gotten the shot by the time I reached the main part of the park I left Pre’s Trail and headed out toward the mall along the river.

Once I passed the mall I crossed over the river and headed back.

The benches on the south side of the river were donated in memory of loved ones and each carry a plaque. This one was my favorite. Obviously a woman who was looking for good things in life.

Passing by the rose garden, I thought that someone looking for thorns would certainly find them, but even in winter while the bushes lie dormant there was something amazing there.

A little farther down the path, another memorial.

Directly across the path from the war memorial, something considerably more lighthearted.

Shortly after passing the cheerful animals I came upon a figure barely moving forward along the path with their whole life on their back and their head hung so low I couldn’t tell if it was a man or woman. I don’t remember ever seeing a person so downtrodden and heavily burdened. I overtook them quickly as they seemed to be struggling to put one foot in front of the other.

As I listened to the shuffling footsteps fading away behind me it occurred to me that I should do something. As I pondered the idea I slowed down, but kept going. What could I do? I had no money or food with me. Then I knew. I could lift their burden, even if for only a few minutes. I retraced my steps until I was standing right in front of what I had finally figured out was a woman. “Excuse me.” She didn’t look up, but tilted her head to the side so she could see me. “I don’t have anything on me to help you out, but I can carry that for a while if you’d like.” The look on her face made me wonder how long it had been since anyone had actually spoken to her. She shook her head no and kept shuffling along. Maybe she was afraid I would take her stuff or maybe she was holding onto one last bit of pride. Either way, she refused my offer to help, but it was fine. Maybe the fact that someone actually noticed her was enough to lift her burden for a while.

We parted ways and I found myself wishing I had asked her name or just walked with her for a bit. But she was gone so I went back to taking pictures.

I headed home, a bit weary from the extra long walk. Did I find what I was looking for? I did. You can see the photos here. No matter what you’re looking for you will find it. Whether it’s a person who needs help, or an opportunity to learn something new, or beauty among the thorns you’ll find it. And, if it’s poop you’re looking for, well, there’s plenty of that around, too…if that’s what you want.

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