Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Goodness, Gracious, Great Balls of Snow

Sunday morning, whilst we enjoyed our breakfast in the hotel restaurant, the heavens let loose great wet globs of snow. We hadn't been paying attention to the weather report, so we didn't realize at the time that we were in for four inches followed by a night of "wintry mix," but it sure looked pretty from our room window.

It dusted the picturesque fire station whose alarm had gone off a couple of times during our stay.

It dusted the less-pictureque liquor store adjacent to it.

It dusted the street corner nearby, and the trees looked gorgeous, ethereal.

It made this smart pedestrian look totally adorable. And it made his/her photo stalker (moi) a very happy shutter bug.

P.S. In case you wondered what Raw format would get you, the answer is detailed snow. There's detail in them there drifts! It's amazing to watch the Photoshop program (a plugin for CS or earlier, built in to CS2) work, allowing you (with a keyboard shortcut, God bless them) to see exactly where you gain and lose detail in the highlights and shadows, allowing you see just where the processing is giving you results. I'm still a novice, and the number one thing I need to study is getting good exposure at capture, but I can already see how it'll change the way I take pictures. I'd also recommend a book Rob Sheppard's Adobe Camera Raw. Very helpful.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Picture Post Week: Capitol Building

Saturday afternoon, on our walk back from the National Portrait Gallery, we decided to trek to the Capitol Building. Interestingly, though we've taken dozens of friends and family members on the National Mall tour, we've rarely walked all the way to the Capitol. It was nice to spend some time snapping pictures of the building and the view from it down the Mall.

View from the Capitol toward the Washington and Lincoln Memorials.

Looking upward from the building, front and center. Hubster remarked that it looks like a fortress. (Photo Credit: Hubster)

I'd never noticed this little alcove with the trees before. I think it's lovely. (Photo Credit: Hubster)

That evening we had dinner at M & S Grill. Hubster enjoyed the chicken parmesan (with the world's largest chicken breast, seriously, it was huge) and I enjoyed my bay scallops in citrus butter with an herb crust. We also shared their creme brulee, which had toasted almond slivers on top, and I decided that while not necessary, the almonds did deliver a pleasant flavor note. Good on you, M & S. Anyway, on the walk home, we noticed the bright Capitol framed at the end of the street of our hotel, so we snapped a picture before heading back into the warmth.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Picture Post Week: National Portrait Gallery

Seven years ago, I was geeked about my senior class trip to London in the spring. We'd see museums and galleries, pubs and squares, a castle and some cathedrals, and I'd could not wait to whip our my passport and get outta dodge. Sandwiched between the British Museum and the National Library's exhibition on Bibles (Christian schools gots to get them a church connection), I noticed we were slated for a visit to the Britain's National Portrait Gallery. I was so excited to be heading over the pond for any reason, I didn't really give it much thought, but it turned out to be a highlight of the trip. It helped that my best friends were with me, snarking the fashion, furnishings, facial expressions, and major life moments of many of those pictured. It seemed like every other image was something I'd seen in my textbooks growing up, of course they were 1-in square in the books, but it was amazing not just to see the whole portrait but to see all of these people thrown together - like art and history all at once.

When we moved to DC, having failed to ever hear of such a gallery here, I naturally looked it up. And it was closed. It recently reopened (after a seven-year hiatus for renovation and restoration), and Hubster and I just HAD to check it out. Sometimes, it's nice to be married to a fellow learning nerd. This was one of those times.

We got there around when it opens at 11:30am (coincidentally), so we happened to catch the third floor (20th Century American Portraiture) pretty wide open. The restored building is mighty fine.

Dome on the third floor. It was a bright day, so the sun is just pouring through that stained glass.

He may have had a hand in our views on education, but we philosophers claim John Dewey, too. Unless we hate American pragmatists. Then not so much.

Back in the day, mom included a biography of George Washington Carver in our homeschooling curriculum. I was deeply moved by his life story and his scientific work, and I remember seeing this portrait and thinking how well it captured my conception of him. I have no idea what he was really like, but I'm pretty sure I'd like to have tea with him in the afterlife.

This portrait of FDR's inauguration has some fun caricature work.

We wandered into one section on the second floor which was labeled Graphic Arts on our map and really wasn't. It was part of the American Art Museum's exhibition entitled: "Eadweard Muybridge: The Central American Journey." It included amazing photographs of Central American people and landscapes (mostly landscapes), but the design of the rooms, the colors, and the awesome frame job made the collection look fantastic.

Next time I go there, I'm totally asking them about their frames.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

FyF First: Picture Post Week.

Hubster and I went away for the weekend - away to the city which makes us its suburbanites. I know, when we do something, we really know how to get it done. We dream big; we're dreamers. And we also like to shoot us some pictures. And I'm going to burn them off all week. Because content is scarce, people, we took a lot of sweet snaps. So enjoy the FyF's First Ever Picture Post Week. (Pomp and flair for the dramatic enhanced this evening by the fact that I'm watching the Oscars and blogging on commercial breaks. My wardrobe provided by chain boutiques and Vogue purse patterns.)

Moi, at the Mall, with some strange arm positioning.

We pricelined our hotel, landing the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, a fairly swanky, and satisfactory homebase from which to launch operations to the National Portrait Gallery, Chinatown during the Georgetown/Pitt game (oopsies!), M & S Grill, and, of course, our nation's hott legislative HQ, the Capitol Building.

Preview of Coming Attractions: Some fantastic Capitol images, like this one from Hubster.

Today it started snowing in the morning and laid down 4 inches before switching to everyone's favorite "wintery mix." I could not resist this little tree while waiting for a train at a Metro station.

Moi, enjoying the flavors of the city. Also cold.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Puff Goes the Cat Tail

Yesterday, I finished writing my post and pushed my chair away from my desk for bed time. There was much yowling and the cats jumped backward, their tails looking like giant pipe cleaners. I still have no idea how I startled them so much; I didn't roll backward that abruptly, either. They just lost it. And of course, I had to humiliate them with snaps. Because I love.

Tiny's tail is currently three sizes too big.

Little's tail's not too small either.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Remembering That I Am Dust

Today is Ash Wednesday. I have ashes on my forehead, placed on me in the sign of the cross but better resembling a grey blob - a grey blob that iches where it's drawn the moisture from my skin. I knelt on a wood floor because the choir loft doesn't have kneeling cushions. I listened to the Rite I language (which our church uses every other year) through all the embellishments of the Elizabethan English to the service elements I thought I knew by heart. Yet I am glad I went to church today.

Our choir director hates Lent. She understands its importance, but she dislikes the dreary music, the special rules (she can't pick any hymns with the word "allelulia" anywhere in them) and the black robes we wear. She's a cheerful person and the dreary season feels unnecessary when it comes around every single year. I, on the other hand, love me some Lenten season. It feeds into my melancholic side, no doubt, with its focus on the tragic, the unworthy, the wrong and imperfect. But truly there is nothing more satisfying than a good requiem, a good minor Russian liturgical piece, a sad movie, a tragic book, a poem that cuts you to the quick. In this Hubster and I are similar. We appreciate life through appreciating the lows as much as the highs, but I know how tough it is to feel happy and find your loved one revelling in a sad song - you feel put upon, unready, frankly, you want to run the other way.

Every year the church experiences Lent. Not all churches usher it in with dust and ashes, although most usher it out with the extra large hymns, range-y descants but of COURSE, and all the pomp they can muster for Easter. I remember the first time my non-denominational church joined a Lutheran parish for the Imposition of the Ashes. We filed past the pastors who dipped his hands in a grey pot and sealed our foreheads with a cross saying over and over "Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return." I was a happy kid, most of the time, so why was I so fascinated by this reminder? Why was I upset ever after when I wasn't able to receive ashes and hear that litany said?

I'm weird, yes, but not so weird that I can escape that need of humanity to be a part of community. I guess that's why this service is so special to me - it ushers in the downer of Lent by joining us together, with Christ and with each other, for a season of studying the dark side of life. We note where and how we've failed to live up to our calling, we note the pain and suffering the world. We do not dole out platitudes and move on quickly to the allelulias. We sit and contemplate. We trade the silver chalice for the clay one. We shroud the gold crosses with purple cloth and focus on that which we'd like to forget - our mortality, our limitation, our failure. There are few occasions in American society where we are encouraged to focus on those things - we idealize a rather perky society on the whole - but here we all strip away pretense and avoidance and kneel and think and feel.

You don't have to be a Christian to understand that deep need to be honest about the human experience, but I hope we Christians, if not in this season than at least sometime each year, observe life with unflinching eyes and experience a time of renewal in our faith not just through the Easter lilies but through the ashes as well.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Flores are BACK, BABY!

I just opened a RAW image which I took on my own digital SLR which was captured on a 2 GB card that my sweetie just bought me for Valentine's Day. If you'd told me last Valentine's Day what I would be doing this year, I would not have believed you. Life, kids, can be so pleasantly surprising. Mira:

The roses might have been there when I arrived home Saturday. And they might all be so darn pretty that I want to eat them. But I restrain myself and instead take huge digital images that I then obsessively process.

Obviously I have some kinks to work out and lots of options to explore. Fortunately, my trip to the printers yielded a book on Camera RAW so I have some help.

At least it comes closer to capturing the velvety texture of the petals. Someday I'll be good enough at capture and process to achieve it.

I might also be geeked because I have done all of the following fabulous things in the last 12 hours: received by Valentine's 2GB Compact Flash Card, received my Valentine's cookbook, exchanged some frumpy brown shoes for bangin' brown boots, drank some coffee at a local fair-trade organic coffee shop (and it was delicious!), started reading Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez (awesome so far), and my husband has been a hilarious companion since I got home. By all means tune me out until I rant bitterly about minor annoyances again. You might get a sugar buzz if you stick around here too long.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Lots of Snow and Dress Shopping

The sights, sounds, quips and profound realizations of an entire week are difficult to condense. I know I can't do it justice. Working from home at someone else's home through a two-day snow storm was alternately fun and frustrating - fun when the comraderie was high, the kitty was about, and I knew I'd use the time for the end of the week's slacking off. It was less fun when friends and family discussed the details of their current slacking off. I felt left out, what can I say? I did manage to visit the office on my last day in Indiana to catch up with coworkers. I'm also fully registered, including flights and hotel (Westin, here I come!!!) for Photoshop World East 2007. I'm so pumped! I'm missing Holy Week (which I'm NOT pumped about, especially considering how richly rewarding it was last year), but it's still going to rock my face clean off of my head. Permit me a dorkish "W00T!" (Thank you.)

Thursday afternoon, I picked up my one-way rental at the combination National Car Rental/health food store (where else?) and headed south for my former-roomie's digs at University of Kentucky law school. I had an uneventful trip, thankfully, despite the snow and Indy traffic, and I arrived in time to enjoy a late dinner with her and her fiance. That night, K-dog and I managed to talk until 4am. I believe we've now done this enough times to demonstrate that our "tired" brain signals don't work around each other. It's all in the name of science for these one-semester science majors!

K-dog and I amused ourselves the next day by shopping for dresses as Dillard's while we talked. We were looking for a dress suitable for a wedding she had to attend in a couple of weeks, but we found tons of adorable dresses on clearance, so we settled for two each. I got an adorable semi-casual dress I'm sure I'll wear to church constantly under my choir robe, and we each bought the same awesome printed-stretch halter dress. We both looked good in it and we, sadly, admitted we'd never spend enough time in the same place for anyone to notice about the whole "matching dresses" thing. Sigh.

That night and the next day were a blur. We drove to Cincinnati to her aunt's house and spent the next day bridesmaid dress shopping with her aunt, her mother, and her sister (who flew in from DC). We found one, in the end, and it's beautiful. It took a while, and quite a bit of emotional wrangling with her family, but we made it work in the end. Huzzah for the triumph of . . . intricate negotiation, I guess. Then she drove me to the airport and I arrived home in time for bed. Oh, and then my husband had the day off today and I didn't and I complained about it all day. And now you're all caught up, so on to the pics:

In Kentucky, liquor "stores" are for the feint of heart, apparently.

The oft-mentioned Florence water tower. I didn't believe her when K-dog claimed this existed. I am duly chastised by my own photographic evidence.

Perhaps the most ubiquitous sight this trip: snow.

Snow falling on trees - I used to think there was nothing lovelier until I saw the sun setting on the ice-encased trees in southern Indiana and Ohio. It was so gorgeous that I'm still mad I didn't have my camera and time to spend trolling the streets and highways for the perfect shot. Someday . . .

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Word of the Day is "Apropos."

I've been reading Zadie Smith's The Autograph Man for the past couple of weeks, and today I stumbled across the following lines:

"There will never be that moment, don't you get it?" she asked, punching the arm of the sofa. "When you've had all the different people you want, when you're done, when you settle for me. People don't settle for people. They resolve to be with them. It takes faith. You draw a circle in the sand and you agree to stand in it and believe in it. It's faith, you idiot." (p.291)

The passage appears at a crisis point in a relationship when the woman realizes her man betrayed her, hence the tone. The book deals a lot with themes arising out of the Jewish background of its main character, so faith is not a new concept to him. Still, this concept of needing faith in the relationship is telling, I think. It's not a new concept, but it was interesting to read something so true yet smarm-free on this Day of Smarmy Love. There's a place for sentimentality, but too often it seems like we're either cynical or silly about our loves and our lovers. The honest in-between is worth a look.

That's all I've got for you. Except for Hubster, because I might have said it on the phone a couple eight times, but I kinda love you. Enough that I embarrass you on the interweb with my base sentimentality. I know, I'm too giving!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Snow Day!

I may be in the mad, mad world of Indiana winter storms, but I am not dead. Yet. I flew out here Sunday night and stayed over with Bee for delicious dinner eating, Grammy snarking, rum and coke drinking, and a whole lotta sittin' around. Yum. A snippet of the evening's proceedings:

Scene: Will, Neo the Cat and I in Bee's kitchen

Erica to Neo, who is sniffing at her face: "Hey there, kitten-cat, what's up? Why are you sniffing at me so intently? Is my breath scented?"

Will (looks up from stirring the pasta sauce): "I'm sorry, what did you say?"

E: "I was talking to Neo. He seemed to sniffing my breath and I asked him if it was scented."

W: "Oh, I thought you said something else."

E (laughing): "No, honey, they're not scented!"


Scene: Bee, Plankiest, and I are watching the Grammys and Beyonce comes out to sing looking like this:

E: Oh, Beyonce, you can wear the white gardenias but your are SO NOT Billie Holiday. Grrrr.

Bee: I'm so glad Erica's here to get mad at the random stuff.

Dawn: (laughs musically, not because of the occasion but because her laugh is always musical)


After partying and talking, we hit the hay at midnight. BossLady picked us up at the house around 7:30am for the drive down to Cincinnati for a press check on my big beastly project. I got to tour the printing house seeing the massive machinery which provides so much delight to readers like me by printing, trimming, gluing and sewing words into pretty, pretty books and magazines. Oh, and we also got to take free books from their "sample room," a magical place from whence I took several digital photography guides, a couple of crafting books (Teach Yourself to Knit? Okay!), and some other good stuff. Raise the song for free books! (Cue random, semi-blasphemous singing.)

We got out a little early from the proceedings because we knew the Blizzard of 2007 would hit in the evening. We ended up having time for a leisurely dinner at Loon Lake Lodge after all, and I enjoyed my American Bison Meatloaf with Garlic and Cheddar Smashed Potatoes (although avoid their overdone, bacon-flavored green beans - blech), as well as half-price bottle of wine night with a Jewel Collection Petite Syrah. We wrapped up and drove Bee home before heading home ourselves and beating the snow. Highlight:

Scene: BossLady's car, as she prepares to fill up the gas tank on our way home. Bee and I in attendance.

BossLady: Could you get my company credit card out of my wallet? Be careful about the change purse, though. It's a little overfull, and it's incontinent.

Bee and E: (laugh uproariously)

E: You know, that works as a metaphor for budgets, too. I'm going to try using that next time I overspend - I can't be blamed, MY WALLET IS INCONTINENT!


I guess I didn't realize how tired I was because I started reading my cuddled up in bed at 10:00 and I awoke at 3:00am to find myself still dressed under the covers. Oops! I got ready for bed and slept until 9:00am when I got ready for going into the office. Sadly, with roads bad and getting worse, the office was not to be, so I've been working from Boss HQ all day. Thursday afternoon I head off to see KD and do all kinds of crazy wedding stuff with her, her mom, her aunt, and her sister in (where else for this trip?) Cincinnati. I'm looking forward to it, especially now that working through this snow day gives me the time off gratis. Huzzah!

Okay, I know I'm boring you. I could tell you all about the fantastic weekend Hubster and I enjoyed, but that would be OVER THE TOP ANNOYING, I KNOW. So I dutifully shut up and tell you to have a great day and stay warm and safe. ¡Hasta!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Possible Disturbance in the Time/Space Continuum

On the way home from choir tonight, I pulled behind a hatchback Suburu and my eyes fell on a bumper sticker whose likeness I have mimicked below:

Prominently placed in the trunk were three hula hoops - one florescent yellow, one florescent orange, and a black one with dots of the other two colors strewn about its hideous surface. It was like 1992 all over again. Back then I also liked trolls, wore my hair in pigtails, oh, and I WAS TEN. What's their excuse?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Update Post? Zzzzzz

It's been a dull week here at the Fyf. The cats have been only low-key amusing. I've been collecting important supplies for crafting but have yet to generate anything new this week. Lazy slob, I know. I haven't cooked anything too fancy nor tried anything too exciting for takeout. I enjoyed a couple of free concerts in the US Army Field Band's Chamber Music series - one with flute and the other with clarinet selections. They were fantastic, both well over the hour mark in length and chock full of beautiful music. It looks like they tour the country, so if you get the chance hit them up. Lovely, plus people know not to clap between movements - huzzah for fellow music nerds and our persnickity ways!

Today Hubster and I hit up DuClaw Brewing Company for happy hour with friends, and I tried their Misfit Red ale. Delicious beer, totally insane crowds. I guess it was an event night when they debuted a new brew, but still, yikes. Still, the beer was fantastic. Worth a little crowd surfing. I just had the one and I didn't try any food, so maybe we'll return sometime and check them out more fully, but it was fine for a casual get together.

Oh, and I've finished reading several books. I was hoping to write one big recap with all of them together, but frankly, I'm not motivated to write that much. So here are my truncated reviews:

Matthew Pearl's The Dante Club: I love this murder-mystery/literary thriller because of the interesting, fairly good characterization, the period detail (it's set in the mid-19th century), and the excellent plotting. Read List Priority? High.

Tracy Chevalier's The Lady and the Unicorn: Better known for the Girl with the Pearl Earring (which I've yet to read, although the movie was gorgeous), this author's style is beautiful prose with well-drawn characters, but aside from those features, I didn't really love it. It was interesting because of the period detail, but the plot and story still left something to be desired. Read List Priority? Medium.

Anne Rice
's Interview with a Vampire: As I alluded in previous post, it was because I so enjoyed The Historian (review here), that I decided to delve into other vampire-themed books when I picked it up. At her best, Rice describes the apparently heightened vampire senses of sight and hearing and movement and in those descriptions, there's rich detail and inventive passages. The story involves an at-times reluctant vampire wrestling with the morality of killing to survive eternally. It seemed as though the rationalizations of the character lacked depth in some way - the changes were too sudden and convenient to the plot. I don't know. Ultimately, I found it unsatisfying. Read List Priority? Low.

Right now I'm plowing through Matthew Pearl's second novel, The Poe Shadow, but it's not nearly as engaging as The Dante Club, and I'm finding it hard to sympathize with the main character's obsession with Poe's death considering the he has rather slim reasons to ignore his future wife and his work responsibilities. It's annoying enough that I don't actually choose to the read the book often. Not usually a good sign, right? We'll see if I finish. For now, enjoy this totally unrelated picture:

Experimenting with the poster edges filter in Photoshop. (Incidentally, should I be alarmed that our church's trees are budding now, in the dead of winter? I totally love this tree. Don't die, Tree!)

¡Hace frío!

Winter. We go out less because it's so cold, because it might snow, because tea and a quiet night in which your thermal-regulatory systems won't be challenged in any way? I'LL TAKE THAT WITH A SIDE OF WARM COOKIES, THANKS. (Incidentally, I love that in Spanish, the weather has agency: it's not that it "is cold," it's that it "does cold." It makes me feel better about taking it personally.)

Hubster had to go get a crown put on Monday. I was going to drop him off and then pick him up. In between, I was going to browse for matte-jersey-appropriate patterns at a local fabric store (that jersey? $3/yd at G Street, talk about your shopping coups!). The second I landed out of the car, all motivation was gone. Not even the irritating and repetitive dental TV programming - hilariously entitled "DentLine," get it, like "DateLine" for teeth, HA - could motivate me out of that warm room and into the car for the extra cold my errand would entail. Now, I eventually got bored and thought about destroying their giant plasma screen just so the pictures would stop - all those bad teeth magically fixed with dental procedures costing mere thousands of dollars. "Double-mortgage your house, sell a kid, pretty teeth will totally be worth it," coaxes the DentLine voice as my daydream self unleashes a primal scream, rips the TV off the wall and bends the frame into a horrific industrial sculpture expressing my tumultuous relationship with postmodern dentistry.

I left for Joann's instead. If anyone's making me pay for a plasma, it should end up on my wall in functional condition instead of on the floor of a waiting room in a mangled heap, potential sculptural career notwithstanding. It was too cold to take it out to the dumpster anyway.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Colts for the win!

So Friday, BossLady calls to inform me that if the Colts lose the Super Bowl, I will get two paid hours of work so that my day starts at 10:00am. If the Colts win, I get a PAID DAY OFF. Hallelujah!

It was a lovely day, the game yesterday was pretty fun to watch (the delicious food we enjoyed with friends whilst watching had a weeee bit to do with that), and the whole weekend was fine, really. Saturday, I went to a magical place called G Street Fabrics which was so stocked to the gills with beautiful apparel fabrics, gorgeous decorating fabrics, trims, notions, and anything a seamstress' heart could desire that I've asked my husband to procure a burial plot for me on its premises. Should you be a) a sewer and b) in the DC vicinity YOU MUST SEE IT. [swoon]

Other than that, I didn't really do much of interest. I'll write something tomorrow. Technically, I still have the day off for another hour and 27 minutes, and I intend to use it. To sleep. I live large, people, and I'm okay with it. Good night!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Boot Camp It Ain't

It's interesting that I wrote this whole anti-FitWell post the other day, because I'm increasingly comfortable with matters of nutrition, health, and weight management lately. I've mentioned that I enjoy yoga oodles of times, but joining a local studio or classes at a gym is complicated what with Hubster and I sharing a car. Until it's financially and physically possible for me to get out and do yoga, I've been doing it at home with videos and books as my guides. About a month ago, though, I realized I hadn't been doing it more than once a week for a long time. I wasn't motivated anymore, and I was letting all exercise slide because of it. Oopsies!

I have four or five videos which I alternate, but they tend to seem the same after a while, and variety is the spice of every other part of my life, so shaking things up seemed like one way to get back on track. I bought a "cardio-sculpting" program that's supposed to involve both aerobic and low-resistance strength-training exercises. It's been humiliation central ever since what with my body and mind have totally separate ideas about how to accomplish all this movement, but at least I'm moving. I now realize several key things: 1) the fact that I ever learned to swing dance can only be attributed to persistence because my feet are unruly at best, 2) my heart is NOT in shape - every time I do the "cardio interval" segment I have to skip portions because my heart starts to feel like the entire cast of Stomp on speed, and 3) "boot camp" is only a figurative title. I asked myself the question "Aren’t you supposed to yell at me and call me 'homo' and motivate me over this wall?" I should have my brother revamp the entire course to more accurately reflect his experiences in Army. Yes, that's just what their target demographic of 18-34-year-old women wants - real, balls-to-the-wall, remove-your-gas-mask-in-a-contaminated-room-then-state- your-name-and-serial-number boot camp.

I'm better at the whole food angle. It's by no means easy for a gustophile to avoid those tasty, tasty plates of alfredo in favor of marinara, but I'm doing it and doing it consistently. My cooking is lowfat pretty much all the time because otherwise Hubster gets all antsy about his nutritional intake and puh-lease tell me someone else's significant other does that because I swear I WILL END HIM sometimes, and I would like to think I'm not alone out here. I guess the flip side of that coin is that I eat well most of the time and save my dietary sinning for restaurants where it is done with joy and relish (the emotion, not the condiment).

This week I've been enjoying my workouts. No, really, Mom, I'm not kidding or exaggerating (please don't have a heart attack). I'm also realizing that this will stave off back problems in the future, and since I also graduated from physical therapy this week, I am looking forward to saving my $40 co-pays for more frivolous matters. My therapist said over and over that regular, full-body workouts were a good way to ensure that my goal of financial wantonness was met.

Bottomline: I have more reasons than bad body image to eat well and exercise. More importantly, I'm able to be more consistent about pursuing those things in a way that motivates and challenges me. It's nice to have made that kind of progress.