Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Close enough

This is my dog Snickers. He's a Schnoodle - a mixture of Schnauzer and Poodle. Technically, he's a mutt. But he's also a great dog. He loves to - as his picture illustrates - play ball in the yard. Or the house. Or up and down the stairs. He's a bundle of energy that we have to tire every day if we want to avoid playing ball all night long. Or we have to put him in his crate to get a little peace.

Lately, Snickers has taken to being more of a lap dog - he weighs almost 30 lbs, so he's a little out of the lap dog range. But he likes to sit on the loveseat with me or with my wife and watch TV.

I remember being surprised the first time he did it. He jumped up into my lap and curled up. He put his head on my shoulder, puffed out a big breath and relaxed. I was amazed. He had hever done that before. But lately he's making a habit of it.

Interestingly enough, when he's that close and I am stroking his hair (he has hair, not fur, which is great because he doesn't cover my lap with apricot fur!) I can see and feel if there is anything wrong with him. As I said, he likes to play ball, and in the back yard, the dog is absolutely fearless. He has been known to run into the rose bushes or the wood pile or even under the shed to get his ball. But his tenacity can leave him covered with dirt. Or mulch. Or thorns. Or at least leaves.

But when he's in my lap, I can see all the crud he's been into. If he's too coated with stuff, I have to brush him or clean him off before he gets in my lap. But most times, he's clean enough for couch time. But when he's there I can see all the little things that I can't see when he's playing. A scrape on one of his pads. Mud under his nails. Crud around his eyes or in his nose. All stuff that shouldn't be there, but isn't really visible until you're up close.

And I clean him up. And we snuggle. He doesn't like me getting the crud from around his eyes, but I clean him up anyway. And the unpleasant part doesn't last very long. I can also stroke his sides and feel for ticks or thorns or burrs that he might have picked up. I love my doggie, and this stuff doesn't belong on him. And we can snuggle for as long as he wants to stay there.

Isn't that like us with God? We get all messed up and covered with the crud of the world, but He loves us, and cleans us up, and wants to sit with us. We often mistake His cleaning off our crud for something vindictive, or bad, but He just wants to relieve the stuff that ultimately doesn't belong. And we can be with Him for as long as we want. And it's only in those close times that the small stuff can be plucked out of our lives. Working, playing, running around, doing life don't allow those little irritants to be removed. We're often too distracted, or don't want to be bothered.

But when we get close, He can take the thorns out of our lives and remove the dirt from our eyes and make sure we haven't been entangled with litter.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

On and off

I have been on Weight Watchers since December. Since then I have lost a total of 10 pounds. Doesn't sound like much, especially since I want to lose a total of about 60 lbs. It's a painfully slow process.

Weight watchers has been in business for decades. They have altered their formula and their methodology in recent years and now the latest program is called the momentum program. They even have a cute doll puppet to represent hunger in their commercials.

But the secret is no secret - eat better and exercise more. Blah.

I admit I feel better when I am thinner. I have battled weight my entire life, from the time I was five. I ate my way through my parents' failed marriage, sexual abuse, divorce, and lost jobs. I used food to help me through tough times and to celebrate good times. I don't know if I would call myself and addict, but dependent, yeah. Absolutely.

The tricky thing about food is that you have to eat. You don't eat, you die. It's managing what you eat that's the secret. Weight watchers uses what they call "points" programs, based on the calories, fat, and fiber in each meal. They also require you to journal, and the weekly meetings are sources of encouragement.

I joked at my first meeting in December that I felt like I should say "Hi, my name is David and I overeat." The program makes the point that it is not a cure-all. You can go off Weight Watchers any time, and unless you have some miracle pill to take, you will gain weight.

Some people complain about measuring foods, saying that it's not convenient. But let's get real - we all measure what we eat, even if it's to say "that's enough," as we spoon our fifth helping of Mac n cheese on our plate.

WW also helps deal with what's called "emotional eating," using food to deal with pain. That's mostly my problem. Food was something I could control, and something that made me feel good. From my brief limited studies of the brain, there is something to that. Food - especially certain kinds of food like chocolate - does make you feel better. It releases some chemicals in your brain that make you feel better.

But emotional eating always brings a load of guilt with it. Which of course starts the addictive spiral - you feel bad, so you eat, then you feel relief, but then you feel guilty for overeating, so you feel bad, so you eat. Round and round until you die of a heart attack.

My best man's death last year was a shot across the bow for me. He wasn't overweight, per se. To look at him you would say he was average. But he died at 61 of a blood clot that broke loose and went to his heart. One of the contributing factors could have been his diet. He liked to eat, and used to joke "you have to die from something." But not from this; and not now.

So in order to live, I will write down what I eat, stick to the program, go to meetings and continue the battle of the bulge. It's harder the older you get, but it is a battle I must win. My mom died at 60. My grandmother at 70. Both had high blood pressure (something I don't have, thank God). My grandmother was diabetic and my mom was overweight all of my life. So I have to do something. Again.

A helpful site for others who struggle with weight is Scientific American's webpage. Check it.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

The Promise

The cold broke here in Washington today. The Mall is full of people walking in the warm sunshine. Some are taking photos, some are looking at maps, there's even a pretty competitive Frisbee football game going on by the Smithsonian Castle.

The day holds the promise that the crushing cold we have been experiencing will end. We often have these thaws about this time of year. Then the most horrendous weather of the year comes - like the President's Day snowstorm that hit a few years ago and buried the region in nearly two feet of snow.

But the days are getting longer and the sun is warmer. My dog still is a hardhead. My yard still needs work. And the car needs an oil change and a good washing.

But the Promise of a new day is still there. The Spring WILL come; I just have to survive the next month or so.

Monday, February 02, 2009


So what is it with these rich guys that Obama is appointing at Treasury and Health and Human Services? Do they not know that Americans pay taxes?

Tom Daschle
had a car and driver and didn't pay $120,000 in taxes; Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner - the guy who would be in charge of the money - didn't pay $40,000 in taxes over a couple of years. And what does the White House say? "Nobody's perfect."

Whaaaaa? Nobody's HHS Secretary or Treasury Secretary either unless they can pass muster. And these guys have been playing fast and loose with the rules.

It was the Obama transition team that said "Hey, you might wanna pay these things." But who do these guys think they are? Saying "we won, so we can do what we want" is the height of arrogance.

I have to pay taxes; my wife pays taxes. She is self-employed and has to file a quarterly tax return. And she has an accountant double check her work, just in case.

But the TREASURY secretary didn't pay his taxes. But now he's Treasury Secretary. And Daschle will probably run HHS. But hey, let's look a little closer before we anoint these guys king, huh?