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… at the chicago botanic garden

We are so lucky to live near a world class garden… membership is interesting… the ‘cost’ is for the parking… expensive on a daily basis, most reasonable with an annual membership.

So, if you are lucky enough to live walking/biking distance from the garden, it is truly free.. for the rest of us, we pay our annual dues..

Chicago Botanic GardenThe garden is extraordinarily popular, a site for weddings, a go to place for walkers and bikers, a must stop for the serious gardener and the beginner alike, there is always something interesting happening at the garden.

I have my favorites, the Japanese garden is near the top of my list.  I love the waterfall and winding paths, and especially the vista views of the surrounding areas.

From the Japanese garden, there are so many choices… I can spend hours in the English walled garden, the healing garden and wander through the surrounding areas, or head out to the prairie, past the test gardens and into an extensive open area.

It is easy to spend an hour… or four… to ‘see it all’ or to focus on one area.  Often the esplanade is filled with special exhibits or the farmers market.  This is one of the places DH rests when he has had enough walking and is longing for his ‘chair’.

Throughout the garden are benches, in shade and sun, areas to relax.  DH and I have decided we need to come late afternoon and bring our books… the calm silence is an oasis in the middle of a bustling metropolis.  We have also learned that if we are coming early in the day, we need to come early in the day… by midday, as we left, the traffic into the garden was backed up all the way to the highway… (quite a distance).

Our garden is a teaching garden, classes abound, docents are often in the field, showcasing and teaching.  the vegetable garden is remarkable.  I do want to know how they keep the local rabbits away from the lettuce!  Some days we come home with a plant, or seeds, always we come home with ideas and hope.

I am fairly clear that my home ‘garden’ will never achieve the pulled together look of our professional Chicago Botanic Garden, but optimism abounds!  This trip we thought about ferns for the back corner…

As often as we go to the garden, there is always something to learn.  Last year, with family in town, we took the tram ride and bundled it with the butterfly garden.  Amazing.  Butterflies have a very short life, yet provide much beauty and joy during their time.  This year there appears to be construction in that area, we will return to see the outcome.

Leaving the garden, I always stop in the gift shop… my favorite hat is from there, and I am contemplating air plants.  Did you know all air plants bloom, and survive with just a misting of water?

Time to go… Do you have a favorite garden?

….. chubby cheetah wants to talk about the scale

… do you get on the scale?  how often?

At my most obsessive I got on the scale multiple times per day, many multiple times per day.  we had a traditional bathroom scale, and a lumpy bathroom floor.  the number was never the same.

and life is sometimes all about the number… one cannot leave the house with a bad number, one cannot feel positive about oneself with a bad number…

so I would carry the scale around the house looking for the spot with the lowest number…..

Yes, I do understand that chubby cheetah weighed the same in all of the spots…. unless of course cookies were eaten while carrying the scale, but generally they were not…

that was a crazy time…

at some point I threw out the scale… truly, not out the window, but took it to the curb… and weighed in weekly … and paid to weigh in weekly.

Actually that worked well, probably the paying helped as also!.

I became a proponent of the weekly weigh in…Thursday was my day…. before the weekend, and long enough after the weekend for ‘recovery’.

over time, scale technology and accuracy improved and we acquired a less lumpy bathroom floor.

I again owned a scale.

and begin to weigh in daily… BNW (bare naked weight)  after the bathroom and before the first sip of anything… and that worked well… for awhile.

why do I tell you all of this?

because now that the cheetah is not as young, it seems that the scale is a tough opponent… hard hard hard work will move the number down, and the slightest indiscretion will pop that baby right back up…. sigh

a light lunch out, a dinner eaten a bit later… all can produce a reversal of down.

I think it is salt…. and salt is not really weight… thus the thought that staying off the scale could be a good choice… but maybe not… maybe staying off is an invitation to greater gain.

It is so complicated!

one more thing…. do you weigh in at the doctor’s office?  I stopped years ago… never really knew I could and one day I just said NO… seriously, at the doctor’s office, dressed and fed… is not going to be the same number as BNW… I ‘report’ my number accurately to the staff, I do not lie…. but I will not stand on any scale but mine! (and the one I pay to stand on).

….. and on we go!

… chubby cheetah approaches the holiday weekend…

…. chubby and hubby have different ideas about long weekends.  hubby left to his own devices would be in his chair, clicker in hand, sports galore and snacks abounding…

chubby is ready to go… with 6 days of plans stuffed into 3 available days… and some plans left over as well…

we should:

go to the city, stay in the city, walk 20,00 steps per day, go to the botanic garden, go to the flower shop, plant flowers, go to a show, go to a museum, clean the garage, sit outside and enjoy the yard, go to dinner, breakfast lunch, go to the gym, put in a few hours at work, read, knit, go to the grocer, go back to the city, meet friends for coffee, plan future weekends, plan the rest of our life, take a bike ride, drink coffee, get a facial, manicure, visit with neighbors, volunteer, rest, relax, and enjoy the weekend…

I don’t think we will accomplish all of the above, I am hopeful we will do some of the above… I will have to prioritize… make choices, factor in the weather… allow time for hubby to be hubby…

with all of the activities ‘planned’, there should be absolutely no issue of over eating, indulging, or finding the scale up on Tuesday morning… HA!  Somehow, the actual holiday weekend tends to look more like this:

go to the city, have a latte on the way, stay in the city, eat ‘special food’, go to the botanic garden, have another latte and lunch at the garden, go to the flower shop, stop for a latte, plant flowers, have a cool refreshing adult bevvie on hand, go to a show, eat popcorn, go to a museum, munch on tootsie rolls, clean the garage, forget that and have some chips and dip with a cheese platter, sit outside and enjoy the yard, with an adult bevvie, eat 3 good meals every day,…  ah, a picture is appearing..

I am warned… holiday weekend can quickly go from anticipation to regret…

No regret this weekend.  Chubby cheetah. are you listening?  … this is but the first of the big three, Memorial Day, 4th of July and Labor Day, with just all sorts of other ‘special’ days tossed in.  this is the beginning.. this weekend sets the tone…

What tone am I setting?  fun without food…. FUN WITHOUT FOOD?  YES, fun without food… Now that does not mean a foodless weekend of carrot sticks and energy bars, food in this context means too much food, the wrong types of food.

Food will be eaten, food will not be the focus… Food will not be the focus, food will not be the focus… (They say mantras help!)

What is your plan?

…. long holiday weekend ahead for the Chubby Cheetah.

…. what to do?  weekends are so hard!!!  (said with a nasal WHINE.)

and they come every 7 days…. 5 days of recovery and then………. another weekend…. and this one ahead has 3 days of weekend, so only 4 days of recovery.

this is called maintenance, and it works beautifully when any chubby cheetah weighs exactly what they want to weigh!  However, and that is a BIG however, when the number on the scale on Friday morning is NOT the desired number, than a weekend, 2 or 3 days, with a recovery period is NOT going to result in a lower number on the scale the following Friday…

hmmm, this is not new news!

BUT WEEKENDS ARE SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARD. ( I have been reading about good writing style and the previous sentence is NOT good writing style, but it is the ONLY way to make sure you understand EXACTLY what I am saying… Although if you know me, you know exactly what I am saying!)

But I digress.

And digressing often results in a nasty number on the scale Monday morning.

So back to the task at hand… It has been a really good couple of weeks, the chocolate project is going well with truly some days without chocolate.. The paying attention part is also going well, watching portions… etc…

A really good couple of weeks can be totally demolished by one 3 day weekend… back to square one, weight before the couple of good weeks, start over….. again…. I don’t want to do that!  Chubby Cheetah, listen carefully… I don’t want to do that.

Yesterday was quite instructive, I was giving a presentation at lunchtime to a group of wealthy ‘socialites’.  Lunch was green beans, some chicken thing with quinoa on the side, and fresh fruit…. AND NO DESSERT.  NO dessert on the buffet table, no dessert served later…. NO dessert… SERIOUSLY?!  A meal at a function with NO dessert…. AND WE ALL SURVIVED!

I looked for that dessert, I made quite sure I had not missed the dessert…. there was no dessert.

So, here is this weekend coming up…. can it be done with no dessert?  That would be a big help.  Portions can be watched, steps can be taken… holiday weekends seem to demand dessert.  But why?  Even IF dessert is available, I am not required to consume the dessert.   Sheeeesh.  But I like dessert.  .. AH, but what do I like more…. a one time dessert or a life time smaller chubby cheetah? sigh. (that deserved a sigh.)

And one more thing.  Alcohol is in the same category as dessert.  Repeat above conversation, substitute alcohol.

And get over it and move on!

Yes, I can do this… I can be that person who stays on track on the weekend.

How about you?


… a post on Giardiniera?   First I had to look up how to spell it!

I come from the bland Midwest of the 1950s.   Butter, Sugar, Lard and Meat…. the main seasoning was salt, applied to everything, everyday before tasting…. If needed, catsup was available.. in quantity… There may have been some secret mustard users… and sweet pickle relish was a staple in the summer.  But hot, spicy, tangy?  NO!

Not until I moved to Chicago, did I meet a pepper other than green.  And it has been a slow acceptance of ‘heat’ in food… Slow, but steady and ever hotter…

Likely, I am behind the trend – I don’t mind – but trending non the less!

…. Banana peppers, hot pepper jam, hot sauce, spicy pickles with jalapenos.. I am willing to and eager to add spice to my life.

Yesterday was Subway veggie sandwich day… Once determined, at about 10am, that this was the best choice for the day, I could not get my mind off the treat ahead… In my favor, I did walk to the local Subway and back…   over dreaming of my sandwich, and back rapidly, swinging my Subway bag..

A Subway veggie sandwich?  The sandwich is good, I chose a bread of my liking and add every vegetable and provolone cheese, I have no sauces, only the shaken herbs and spices… AND triple giardiniera… hmm, dripping out of the ends, all of the various components catching my taste buds on every bite, some so hot as to be nearly overwhelming, some a bit less hot.

… A good sandwich gone fabulous with the addition of the giardiniera!

 Amazon’s description of the product:
  • The ultimate condiment for pepper enthusiasts.
  • Mixed peppers, olives, celery and seasonings in vegetable oil combine to make this famous Italian-American favorite.
  • Made famous by spreading over Chicago style Italian beef, sausauge, meatballs and cold cut sandwiches, the uses are are limited only by your imagination.
  • Also adds an exciting new dimension to re-heated leftovers.

YUM!  And how interesting that this Italian favorite is iconic Chicago.. I kind of know this as a search for the product in New Jersey found no such thing, and no one who had heard of it.. …an aside, of course a search for anything in New Jersey should not be considered definitive.. Chris Christie has turned the state into somewhat of a clown show! (I will leave that for another post.)

Today I am left with the memory of Giardiniera… and the expectation of a bland corporate lunch.  Bah Humbug…

….fitness aps have taken over our lives..

…. it started over a decade ago with a pedometer…. and a goal, 10,000 steps per day.  Those early pedometers were a mess, dropping steps, falling off, flushing, burning batteries, but they began our addiction to ‘knowing’.  Knowing just how active we are.  Or aren’t.  Seems like the next generation added miles as well as steps… distance covered.

I kept a paper log of my daily steps and miles, along with my miles biked… I was ‘training’.

Then I added a heart rate monitor, the old school one, with a sticky smelly strap and a monitor that had to be sent to the manufacturer when it needed a battery… an expensive battery, nearly 1/2 the cost of the original monitor batter.  Plus postage.

But I needed to know my heart rate, my target heart rate, how quickly my heart would slow at the end of exercise.  I was ‘training’.

The heart rate monitors piled up, sans batteries… and the active link controlled my movement, a feisty piece of equipment it allowed me to enter activities other than walking and get ‘credit’ for them… biking, yoga, zumba all became part of my daily mission.  Along with this came an electronic PC based AP that gave me information aggregated by week, month, year, my lifetime…. I really could see how my ‘training’ was going.  Or not.

Then came FITBIT… small, accurate, synced to my phone.. I knew every moment how many steps, miles, active minutes… and I could sync in with My Fitness Pal and record food as well.

I have walked over 2,500 miles since clipping on FITBIT.. I have badges, awards… FITBIT knows I am ‘training’.

With each of my monitors, I have added control over my workouts, and lost other information… Where is the ap that has it all?

My latest acquisition….(thank you DS and DD) is FITBIT HR… now I know my heart rate easily without a sticky strap, I know my steps and miles… the number of floors climbed… calories burned… and my sleep efficiency… Really!  I am connected to the ap on my PC and the ap on my phone and the apparatus on my wrist… It is a wonder I have time to do anything else.

You would think that by now I would be trained… totally and fully trained… Well, I am trained, trained to believe that I cannot be fit without a multitude of information providing gizmos and programs!  As far as the other training?  Still a work in progress.

Do you wear a monitor?

…… a new Sefer Torah for our Synagogue

300 people welcomed a new Torah to our synagogue yesterday. and there was not a dry eye among us.

When one of our members lost his wife after a long and debilitating illness, he and their family determined to honor her memory with a new Torah scroll.  Tradition says that each of us in our lifetime should write a Torah and if we cannot, we should commission that one be written for us.

The Torah is our base, as our Rabbi said, ‘it is where we find everything we need’.

Torah is written by hand in Hebrew on sheets of parchment.  There must be no errors.  An error requires that the page be redone.  Our new Torah was written in Israel, shipped to Chicago, where it was assembled and rolled onto the scroll.

When the day came for the new Torah to meet the 5 Torah’s of our congregation, a very precise plan of celebration was in place.

Everyone gathered outside the synagogue and while the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band played, the Torah joined us..arriving under a traditional Chuppah made by tying the corners of a tallit (traditional prayer shawl) to 4 tall poles.  Members of the family held the poles and walked along side of the family patriarch as he carried the new Torah.  Serious, yes…. a celebration, definitely… As various family members held the Torah, everyone danced and clapped and laughed and cried as the music urged us to join in the circle dance of the Hora…

After a time, the family led us all into the synagogue, leading us inside for the next celebration.  On the Bima, a more formal Chuppah was erected, and underneath was a long table and a Torah scribe, the Rabbi who had facilitated the creation of the Torah.  The Torah was complete, except for the last 52 letters.  As various friends, clergy, officers of the synagogue and family members received the honor of a letter, we watched…. watched the Rabbi from where we sat, and with the wonder of technology, viewed his hands inscribe each of the last 52 letters on a large screen to the side of the Bima.

When the last letter was finished, the Torah was lifted and covered with a beautiful Torah Cover.  Our Hazan led the blessing of our new Torah, and then it was passed down the aisle, from the family patriarch, to his children, to his grand children, to his great grandchildren and then to our Hazan who received the Torah for our Synagogue.

More dancing, with the Klezmer band leading us in the songs of our tradition, the family in the center, laughing, hugging, dancing, celebrating life as they also remembered.

And then food, we don’t celebrate without food… actually we don’t do much of anything without food, lots of food, excellent food, traditional food, lox, bagels, kugles and sweets.

Yesterday was truly a once in a lifetime experience, touching the core of our tradition, bringing us closer as a community, and closer as individuals to our center, our core, our Torah.


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