Posted on October 30, 2012 in Conversations, Hounds by Jay10 Comments »

It was a horrible day. It was blowing a gale, and the temperatures were hovering around 2-4 degrees celsius* because the wind had blown all the clouds away and it was bright and sunny.

We looked at the temperature, and we looked at the dogs and thought.

And what we thought was this: why don’t we just do one long walk today in the nice sheltered town park, instead of two short ones in our miserable, windy, cold village?

And so it was that after lunch, when the day would be at its warmest for this time of year, we popped a jacket on Jeffie (but not Sid because it’s not cold enough for Sid yet), and drove into town to walk them in Central Park.

Sure enough, it was much less windy, and much warmer, and with the sun shining and the autumn leaves glowing, it was a very pleasant afternoon. Jeffie and OH strode ahead, while Sid took great pleasure in investigating all the smells and rootling in the leaves and then pretending to be surprised that they’d got so far ahead, and running to catch up.

After one particularly long rootle, and subsequent pretence of surprise, we began running towards OH and Jeffie, when I noticed something strange.

Instead of the two of them disappearing off into the distance, OH was bending down low to the ground at the base of a tree, while Jeffie, on the path behind him, was waiting patiently and staring into the distance.

We caught up, and OH, straightened and looked at us a little … I don’t know .. guiltily, I suppose.

Me: ‘What is it?’

OH: ‘Huh?’

Me: ‘What is it? What were you looking at?’

OH: ‘Oh .. nothing … I was just trying to get him to smell something.’

Me (Looking at him a little askance): ‘Why??’

OH (A tad shamefaced): ‘I thought it would give him something to do while we waited!’

I knitted my brows and continued to look, albeit a little sideways.

OH: ‘It’s a tree! I thought if I smelled it, he would!’

Me (slowly): ‘Um.  You were trying to get him to smell something …  ?’

OH: ‘Yes! ‘

Me: ‘…. to give him something to do while he waited.’

OH: (ducking his head like a schoolboy) ‘When you put it like that, it sounds silly!’

We looked at Jeffie, still staring into space in that peculiar ‘Jeffie’ way he has, with his one remaining canine caught outside his lip.

Me: ‘It didn’t work, did it?’

OH (giggling now): ‘No!’

It’s no wonder Jeffie spends half his life being bewildered.  Us ‘monkeys’ must seem like very strange creatures at the best of times, but when we try to behave like dogs, that must really take the biscuit.

Let’s just hope OH doesn’t take it to its logical conclusion.  I think he might get arrested if he started peeing up trees in the park.



* No, I don’t know what that is in ‘real’ temperature, only that it’s cold.  I have to rely on OH and his weather station for this information, and it’s all in ‘foreign’!

Posted on October 28, 2012 in Oddities by Jay12 Comments »

Here you are, folks – this week’s Macro Monday puzzle!

Now, what can I say about this one? Hmm …

Well, I imagine that many of you will say instantly ‘Oooh, I know, Miss – I know!!’ while waving your hands wildly in the air in an effort to be chosen first. But for this week, ladies and gentlemen, I want you to tell me not only what it is, but where it is.

Stifle the groans (Honestly, you sound like a class of nine-year-olds!). Really and truly, I think this is pretty easy, so doesn’t it add some extra interest to ask for a little more information? I mean, you don’t want it to be too simple, do you?

And you know I have trouble with getting the level of difficulty right!


I want you to tell me what this is, but also where I found it. There are clues in the picture if you look for them, but here are one or two more:

Some people might never have seen it, because they simply don’t have what it takes. Most of you will have seen it.

It’s pretty common, in the grand scheme of things, but only in the civilised world. It’s a fairly modern ‘problem’ .. in the grand scheme of things.

It’s harmless.

It’s pretty, but maybe only I would think so!

I see it quite often, because of my nature.

It’s inside my house.

And I really can’t think of anything else which will help you without totally giving it away!

So there you have it. Answers in the comments as usual, and I’ll be back tomorrow evening (UK time) to add the picture link with the answer. And this time, in a most unusual step, I’ll be adding a bit of text to the picture because it’s possible that it might still not be clear.

Have fun! And for more Macro Monday, go visit Lisa’s Chaos. I’m sure there will be some great photos there! And yes, I know I’m early. Just be happy you have more time to guess!




Here I am with the answer – so sorry I’m late!

Well, tut tut … I really thought you’d get this one easily! Clearly I’m the only one who lets things slide this far. Go here to see what this is a picture of!

Now, since two of you guessed it, but then told me it wasn’t that after all, I suppose I’m going to have to declare this a winless week, but congratulations to Shooting Parrots and Carol anyway, for even thinking of it!

Thanks for playing everyone! You all make it such fun by being good sports and guessing for me!

Posted on October 26, 2012 in Life, the Universe and Everything by Jay10 Comments »

As promised, here are the rather wonderful Halloween decorations in Lititz, PA.

I’m not a big Halloween person. It simply wasn’t celebrated here in England when I was young, so it isn’t in my mythology … and it has two other major strikes against it: first, I really dislike the colour orange, and I truly, passionately hate cinnamon. If I eat something cinnamon flavoured I actually feel quite unwell, and even the smell turns my stomach. While we were in the US, someone served us a cappucchino and without asking, laced it with cinnamon. Good grief – is nothing sacred? Why would anyone do that?

Anyway. Leaves are exempt from my orange phobia, and pumpkins are kind of exempt too, because they’re natural and they can’t help being that colour, and also I do quite like the ghosties and witches theme, so – provided I don’t see any Halloween stuff of any kind before October, I can enjoy the show to some extent.

Lititz folk love their door wreaths. Most have a wonderfully autumn theme (and I have nothing at all against autumn) and one or two don’t seem to follow either trend, but instead are just plain pretty, like this one:

And of course, some folk can never resist the opportunity to wave the flag -

And then there are the innovative displays of seasonal exuberance. I saw statuary, floral arrangements, shop window displays, clothing – you name it. And this delightfully relaxed looking bear, seemingly quite at home in Lititz’s main street, doing a lousy job of scaring the shoppers.

This wonderful ‘scarecrow is decorated for Halloween, but in fact he’s also out there to advertise a quirky gallery of metal objets d’art and photographs etc. I really, really wanted one of the moving, bobbing, swinging garden ornaments with little birds perched on it, but it would never have fitted into my suitcase. And Jeffie would no doubt have impaled himself on it at the first opportunity.

Pumpkins were everywhere. There were little ones perched on windowsills and above doorways, mounds of them on porches, two or three here and there as part of an autumn display on a set of steps, etc. But my personal favourite was this unique idea. A window box of gorgeous purple-veined petunias, with a single pumpkin nestling in the centre!

Maybe one reason I particularly liked the Halloween decorations in Lititz was because some weren’t Halloween decorations at all, but merely autumnal. I love the rich colours – and the grapes – in this wreath -

And this one was kind of unusual …

So far most of these have had a seasonal air to them, whether autumn or Halloween. The ‘Welcome Friends’ one above is just sweet, and while it may not be particulary autumnal, it has a subdued air, echoing the slight melancholy of autumn itself.

I’m at a loss to explain this one though.

Do Mariachi bands have a particular tie to autumn? Well. Who cares? It’s just FUN, isn’t it?

The 5:2 Intermittent Fasting continues, after a break for the holiday.

OK, so we probably could have fasted during the holiday, but it might have been quite difficult since we were staying, and later travelling, with friends, and we visited places like the chocolate factory at Lititz … Well, OK, we were lazy, or self-indulgent, or something.

Anyway, we’re back on the wagon now, and I have discovered, with a little research, that in fact the recommended way to approach this particular fasting regimen is to fast on two non-consecutive days, and not two consecutive days as we have been doing. This is great! It makes it easier and more flexible should we have family commitments which fall on a fast day, and the roll-over effect happens twice instead of just once. The roll-over effect is what I call the natural inclination to eat less on a day following a fast day. Don’t ask me how that works, because I don’t know. I only know that – contrary to expectations – it does.

So this week we fasted on Monday, and again today.

Now to the paradox.

Here’s today’s received wisdom:

No. 1 – To maintain a healthy lifestyle, we should eat no more calories than necessary. That means a lot less than most people do on a daily basis.

No. 2 – To maintain a healthy body which functions on the highest possible level, there is a table of recommended daily allowances (RDAs) of vitamins and minerals. There are minimums and maximums of many of those, and there are also guidelines on recommended daily intakes of the major food groups – for instance: we should eat no more than a fist-sized portion of meat with your meal, eat no more than seven eggs a week, and eat ‘five a day’ of fruit and veg (only one of which can be fruit juice).

No. 3 – It is far, far better to get your vitamins and minerals through your diet than through supplementation.

When you are attempting to lose a lot of weight, things get rapidly more complicated. Even though the allowable calorie intake has been relaxed these days, you’re likely to be advised to restrict your calories to something like 1,200 for women, 1,500 for men (this always seems extremely unfair to women!), and at the same time, to increase your exercise as much as possible, thereby driving up the disparity between intake and requirements.

Now. YOU try composing a dietary plan which reduces your calories enough for you to lose weight, while at the same time making sure you get all the necessary nutrients according to all of the RDAs, because I can’t do it. One of the things I always fall short of is calcium. Another is magnesium. Fibre, of course, is no problem, neither is keeping my sodium down or my vitamin C up. However, getting my RDA of potassium seems nigh-on impossible while restricting my calories to a level which will allow me to lose weight – and that’s without taking the other minerals like copper, boron, manganese and zinc into consideration.

Fatty acids? Another minefield. Some fats are essential, and some of the best sources of ‘good’ fats are nuts and seeds, which are (as I’m sure you all know) very high in calories.

I asked a nutritionist once and they had no answer for me. They actually DID NOT KNOW how to assess my diet in those terms! Some time later, I had a BUPA health check and asked their nutritionist, who was also completely useless. If I remember correctly, what she actually said was:

“That’s not what I’m here to discuss today”.

Oh, really? Well, excuse me for thinking that that is exactly what you were here to discuss!

So, if anyone can tell me how to work out a plan where I’m getting ALL my RDAs and still eating sufficiently few calories to lose weight, I’d be awfully grateful to you. Personally, I don’t think it can be done, and that, my friends, is the paradox.

Of course, this takes no account of the need to keep a certain amount of interest and pleasure in the food we eat. I have a feeling that IF the ‘RDA up/calorie restriction down’ thing can be done, such a diet would not be including chocolate cake or hot fudge sundaes, or even Sunday dinners.

Or crispy fried bacon.

Or strawberry jam scones, panna cotta, treacle tart, pizza, toad-in-the-hole, liquorice allsorts … oh, to hell with it. Go ahead and add your own! I bet you have a long list, too.

However. Maybe there is a glimmer of hope, because this is something that the 5:2 intermittent fasting idea might actually address. You see, while you severely restrict your calories on the two days that you fast (500 for women, 600 for men, remember – which I still think is most unfair to women), you are allowed to eat just exactly what you like for the other five days, crispy fried bacon, panna cotta and all!

My hope is that, due to the ‘reprogramming’ it seems to provide to our poor abused bodies, we may actually be able to start relying on our appetites again, and let our bodies dictate what we should eat, and how much of it we should eat. And that would be awfully nice.

What do you think? Should we forget trying to satisfy the advice culled from all the conflicting studies done by the medical profession and nutritionists?

One thing I do know, and that is that over the years, the ‘experts’ have changed their minds more times than I can count.