Sunday, 27 April 2008


Things are moving in the right direction again. I lost 4.4 lbs this week !!! I think that watching my salt intake was what did the trick.

On the earthquake front. Things are still rocking and rolling here. We had a 4.7 late Friday night, which caused damage to homes, businesses, etc, that were near the epicenter.

We were about 6 miles away from the ground zero. No damage, but the house shook and objects rattled. There was a 3.7 about 3/4 of an hour later, that gave the bed a good sharp shake. One of the dogs was at the foot of the bed. She scuttled up to the top rather quickly and both dogs spent the rest of the night huddled around my head.

Poor things were pretty freaked out all Saturday. They were not happy about letting me out of their sight and followed me around all day. They seem to have settled down a bit this morning, as they are both curled up on the couch, while I am across the room on the computer.

Looking at the list of overnight quakes, they do seem to be getting less frequent, Hopefully that means that this particular swarm is coming to an end. The scientists have been warning that an even bigger one may be coming. Fingers crossed that this will not be the case.


Friday, 25 April 2008

Shake, Rattle 'n Roll.....

Was relaxing on the couch yesterday afternoon, at a friend's house, when all of a sudden objects started rattling, the water in the fish tank started sloshing back and forth and the house shook. Having lived in New Zealand, which is not known as the 'Shaky Isles' for nothing, my immediate reaction was 'EARTHQUAKE'.

Young Taylor wandered into the lounge, just as the shaking stopped. I asked if she had felt that. "Yes" she replied "That was just Sissy (The 16 yr old Teenager) shutting her door."

Now, I am used to the TT shutting her door. Mostly it's a fairly quiet procedure, but occasionally, in true teenage fashion, the door shutting can be a noisy, picture rattling experience. However, even in the midst of her more spectacular meltdowns, sometimes brought on by me insisting that she does her chores before her Dad and Mum get home, I have never, ever seen the water in the fish tank slosh back and forth!!

Sure enough, it was an earthquake. A moderate one at 4.2 but strong enough to get your attention. The TT said that she didn't feel it, probably because she was lying on her bed at the time, listening to music and texting The Boyfriend. Mind you, I wasn't surprised at that. I'd occasionally ask my own Teens "Did you feel/notice that?" and get a blank "Huh?" in return.

It's part of a swarm that's been hitting the area since Feb. Since 3.58 am yesterday (24th) we've experienced around 67 quakes . Most have been in the 1.something range. However there have been a few at the 3 and 4 intensity on the Richter scale. The strongest has been the 4.2 that I felt.

It's been a sharp reminder that Nevada is the 3rd most geographically earthquake prone State in the Union. The first two are Alaska, followed by California.

Hopefully, the 4.2 trembler, was the 'Big One' in this particular swarm and things will start settling down from now on. Fingers crossed!!


Was just talking to friend. Their house was not very level. Apparently the quake settled it, as the crack that was in Taylor's ceiling has closed up. Hmmmm ... not sure if that is a good thing or not!!


Wednesday, 23 April 2008

That was not pretty at all !!

I think I've been sort of ignoring this post. Rather hoping that it would go away. Kind of like my 1.8 lb weight gain at Saturday's weigh in.

I had weighed myself at home, so I was forewarned and didn't keel over in shock when I hopped on the WW scales.

I'm not sure what went wrong though. Earlier on in the week, I was right on track for a good loss. We did have a chinese meal on Tuesday, but I thought that would be early enough not to affect me by Saturday. I also had one bad day, where I got into the 'standing in front of the open fridge, aimlessly grazing' thing. However, I logged everything I ate and did not go over my 27 daily points or my 35 extra points. I exercised, including lots of walking. I was expecting either that I would remain the same or lose only a little.

BUT GAINING 1.8 *expeletive* POUNDS ????????

Oh well. That was last week. This is a new week. :-)When I weighed myself this morning, I was back on the downward slope again.

I'm thinking that maybe I need to really watch my salt intake. I had also had a couple of Weight Watcher's and Lean Cuisine meals during the week. I hadn't thought about checking the sodium content before now, thinking that they would be okay. Holy cow, Batman, they are really high!!

So, no more Chinese or WW/LC meals this week.:-(


Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Too Cool !!!!!

Way to go, Ali !!!!!!

First woman to win 'The Biggest Loser'. :-)

Saturday, 12 April 2008

Well, shucks...

The good news today, was that I didn't gain any weight. The bad news was that I didn't lose any either!

It can be a little deflating, when you know that you have stuck to your eating plan, exercised, drank your water and tracked your points. Then at weigh in time, the scale records that you are in the same place you were at last week!!

This seems to be par for the course, since I started this journey. One week I have a good weight loss. The next week I plateau and either lose nothing or just a smidgen.

I have been doing a lot of exercise, which includes walking, strength training with light weights and using a friend's elliptical trainer. However, I haven't been as good at eating all my daily points. Therein, I suspect, lies the problem. Talking it over with my WW meeting leader, I'm even more convinced.

So this week, I'm going to concentrate on eating my daily allocation of food points, all 27 of them, and see what happens. The only problem that I have with this, is I do not want to eat for the sake of eating and especially when I'm not feeling hungry. That behaviour was part of what got me overweight in the first place. It's a habit that I've been working hard at breaking.

So what do you all do, to fit in those extra points? My leader suggested a smoothie. I'm also thinking that I might double my servings of chicken, fish and other protein, as that is necessary for muscle building.

Sighhhh ... who would ever of thought that NOT eating enough would be a problem!! :-)


Friday, 11 April 2008

We are almost the same.....

One of the questions I regularly get asked, once I've opened my mouth and my accent is noticed, is what differences do I notice between the United States and New Zealand. That's of course, after I've explained that no, I'm not from England, Australia, South Africa, Scotland or, as one person suggested, New England !!

Even though we are both English speaking countries and belong to that conglomerate of countries known as the 'Western World', there are differences. Some of them have been cause for a certain amount of confusion and hilarity.

One of the first differences I noticed, was that you drove on the opposite side of the road. This, I was already aware of, but that didn't help when trying to cross the street. I learnt very quickly, after almost being flattened a couple of times, that I needed to look in the OPPOSITE direction, before crossing. While learning that lesson, I probably gave a number of drivers a small heart attack.

Driving was also an interesting experience. I constantly got into the wrong side of the car and will still do that, if I'm not thinking. I'd end up on the wrong side of the road, much to the consternation of any passengers or oncoming drivers! I was okay as long as I was going straight ahead and didn't have to make a turn. I'd go to flick on the indicator and the window washers would come on instead. I was also used to driving a car that had the handbrake situated between the driver and front passenger seats. I'd be groping around furiously, much to the puzzlement of whoever was in the car with me. I prefer , these days, to be driven rather than drive, probably much to the relief of the driving public.

Then there were my adventures with bathrooms, plumbing and light switches.

Light switches took only a short time to figure out. They are simply reversed from what I was used to. We flick down to turn on and up to turn off. Only time it really throws me, is when the bulb is blown and then I have to consciously remember which way is which, so as to avoid a shock. Light bulbs are different as well. Here (US) they screw in. In NZ you push them into the socket and twist and they lock in. First time I tried changing a light bulb here, I couldn't figure out why twisting and pulling didn't work. Almost pulled the whole light fixture out, trying to disengage the bulb.

Until I arrived over here, I didn't realise that there were so many ways to flush a toilet, turn on taps, run a bath or turn on a shower.

First night I got here, all I wanted was a nice hot bath. Sounds simple? HAH!! There was no sign of a plug anywhere and when I turned on the taps I immediately got doused by the shower that was over the bath. Someone finally took pity on me and demonstrated how to run the bath. There was this little lever that you pulled up that sealed the plug hole and another little lever that you pushed down, that turned off the shower so that you could fill the bath. Then there were the taps that you had to pull up and twist, the ones that turned on by themselves (my first encounter with one of those was startling, to say the least) and a number of other varieties. It seems that I spent my first couple of months trying to figure out the various types of plumbing fixtures. Like clothing sizes, nothing was standard.

Same can be said for toilets. I was used to toilets that you flushed, by either pulling a chain, depressing a lever or pushing a button. There was also a standard position for these to be in. There are no standard positions for the flushing equipment here. I found myself often having to hunt for it. I also encountered my first automatic flushing toilet. In fact, it was the first toilet I ever used in the US and it was faulty. It flushed while I was still sitting on it. Now, I have a small phobia that I've never really talked about. For some unknown reason I have this mild fear that something is going to come up through the toilet bowl and get me. It may have something to do with going to sit down on the toilet, when I was a kid and discovering an eel frantically trying to get out of the bowl. Whatever the reason, I would like to apologise to all who were using the bathroom at LAX, the day that a wild eyed woman, shot out of a stall, frantically trying to pull up her jeans. Not sure what I thought was in there, but I was not going to hang around to find out!!

The subject of language differences, deserves a new post altogether.

Oh and if you want to know why I have a toilet phobia, it can be found here

Now I guess you can understand why I have this irrational fear that something is going to rear out of the toilet and bite me bum :-)

Thursday, 10 April 2008

A Letter To Three Idiots

Dear Idiots,

I really don't know why you felt the need to hang out the window of your truck and yell "Here, fatty, fatty", then make oinking noises, when you passed me, while I was out for a morning walk.

Yes, I know I'm fat. I can lose the fat. I can get fit and I am working hard at doing just that.

You three, on the other hand, have ugly minds and that's something that you are not going to lose.

You all looked a little puzzled when I passed you a few minutes later, as you were getting out of your truck at Wendy's. I guess you were wondering why I was laughing so hard.

I was seeing the irony and the humour in the situation. You see, as you heaved yourselves out of the truck, you all revealed stomachs that would have put a 9 month pregnant woman to shame.

Glass houses and all that ...:-)

Cheers ...

Monday, 7 April 2008

Sand Mountain and the Le Beau grave

Travelling along Highway 50, you pass Sand Mountain. When I first heard of this place, I thought it was a large mountain surrounded by sand. The reality is that yes, it is surrounded by sand. However the mountain itself consists of a series of rather large sand dunes, which have been named Sand Mountain. Sort of obvious, once I saw it!!!

Sand Mountain has been meandering across the Nevada desert for the last 4000 or so years. It is also the only 'singing' or 'booming' dune in the area. Apparently if you slide down the slip face, the friction causes a booming sound as the sand slides under you. It's very popular with dune buggy and ATV riders. There is often a small city of motor homes, etc, clustered around the base. They can be seen if you click on the photo to enlarge it.

Another bit of Nevada history on Highway 50. In 1865, the Le Beau family were crossing the desert in a group of wagons. Unfortunately the three little Le Beau girls, 9 yr old Jennie, 6 yr old Emma, 3 yr old Emma and a 3 yr old boy, Wilson Turner all became sick with diphtheria and died within 3 days of each other. the children were all buried together, at the foot of Sand Mountain. In 1940, the grave and the children's remains, were washed away during a cloudburst. Two men found the skeletons of Jennie and Louise, a year later, on the salt flats. They reburied the children's bodies and added a new cross. The bodies of Emma and Wilson were never found.

There is some debate as to whether the bodies were those of Jennie and Louise. What ever the true story is though, all 4 children are remembered at this site. In a sense, it is a memorial to all those brave souls who crossed these barren wastes to settle Nevada.

People visit the grave and leave flowers, stuffed toys and money. Despite the grave's isolation, it has never been vandalised or desecrated. Gives you some hope for the future of humanity!!


The second part of my Saturday....

Spent the day with a friend, her daughter and her parents, exploring the ghost town of La Plata. Plata means 'silver' in Spanish. La Plata was a silver mining camp, circa 1864 - 1868. It's down a long gravel road off Highway 50,(known as the loneliest road in America) about an hour out of Fallon, NV.

The photo to the left shows Highway 50. This was taken around the Sand Mountain area and shows the alkali flats in that area. The photo on the right is of the road through La Plata itself. The first few miles of the gravel road, as it leaves Highway 50, is in good condition, as it is maintained by Fallon Air Station and they grade it 4 - 5 times a year. Further on into the hills, the road gets rather rougher, as that part is maintained by the County and they only grade it once a year. It looked as though it had just been done.

These stone ruins are the first thing you see as you enter La Plata. A plaque in front says that this may be the remains of the courthouse. However, I found articles online, that suggested that this is the remains of a silver mill that was built at the entrance to the town.

One of the old mine shafts that dot the hill side. This one was about a hundred yards from the above ruins, so it might add credence to the theory that they were the remains of the silver mill. You can still see the ladder that goes down into the tunnel. All this was dug out with pick and shovel and presumably a few sticks of dynamite. None of the equipment that the modern day miner has!

Walking up along the road,you can see the remains of little stone cabins, that the miners built for themselves. La Plata was built in a narrow gully and it looks as though the rocks for these cabins were hewn out of the gully walls.Other rocks were possibly from the rubble that came from digging out the mine shafts.

The cabin in the middle photo, was very upscale! That large hole in the back wall is a fireplace, complete with a stone lintel above it. Most of the other cabins just had the remains of fire pits, that were situated in the middle of the room. The cabin in the lower right photo had been hollowed out of the hillside.

Wandering around the site, I was struck by the sense of history that this place held. My modern day mind can only begin to imagine the privations that these men and women must have undergone. All of what they would have needed, had to be bought in by bullock/horse/mule drawn wagons or carried in. The weather was harsh in those days, with hot, dry summers and cold, snowy winters. With the high snowfall that they had then, the road in would have been impassable for a good few months of the year. If they were injured, or became ill, it was days, if not weeks, to the nearest medical help. It was heavy, labour intensive, dangerous work and a harsh life. Made me feel like a real wimp!!

Found some squarehead nails, that were common in that era. Also came across some cans that would have held food. They were sealed with lead at the seams, so I can imagine that the lead levels in the miner's blood, was fairly high in those days!!

I my defense, my *wimpiness* factor is undergoing a change. To gt the photo on the left, which is a view down the valley towards the mountains, I had to make the climb portrayed by the photo on the right. I kept up a steady pace all the way up, without having to stop and rest. By the time I got to the top, I was a little out of breath, but still able to talk. That's quite a change from where I was at, 9 weeks ago, when I first started my journey towards being a fitter, healthier me. It felt very good and a real sense of achievement. :-)

All in all, a wonderful day :-)


The first part of my Saturday...

My Saturday got off to a great start, with the weigh in at Weight Watchers, recording a 4.6 lb loss. Reached and passed my first mini-goal of a 10 lb loss. Started doing a jig on the scale. It's true, if you move around a bit on the scale, your weight does change.;-)

All that walking and other exercising is beginning to show results ... it was a happy beginning to my day.


Friday, 4 April 2008

Caribbean Chicken Stew

Found this in 'USA Weekend', which arrives with our local Sunday paper. Looked interesting, so decided to give it a try.

The meal got the thumbs up from J and it's certainly something that I will make again. I think that next time, I will drain the black beans before adding them to the pot. The undrained beans gave the stew a sort of grayish look and a slightly overpowering taste. I'm also going to use fresher spices as I think mine were a bit old!! I'm also thinking of adding a bit of grated fresh ginger. I also steamed the chicken first.

Caribbean Chicken Stew (serves 8)

2 Tbsp canola oil (I used olive)
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 large green pepper, chopped (I think I'll use a poblano next time)
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsps cinnamon
1 tsp each, allspice and nutmeg
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
Salt to taste (I left that out)
1 bay leaf
1 16 oz can diced tomatoes, no salt added
2 cups 99% fat free, low sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and pulled into strips
1 1/2 cups of winter squash, cubed (or substitute thick cut zucchini slices)
1 15.5 oz can black beans, undrained
4 limes cut into quarters
Optional: cooked brown rice

Heat oil in a large pot. Add onion, garlic and green pepper and saute for 3 mins. Add spices, saute 3 mins. Add tomatoes, broth, chicken, squash and beans. Simmer, covered for 20 - 25 mins, or until squash is cooked, stirring occasionally. Remove bay leaf. Serve over optional brown rice with juice from lime wedges.

Nutritional info per serving - 221 calories, 18g carbs, 23g protein, 6g fat(1g saturated), 60mg cholesterol, 6g fiber, 274mg sodium.

I work that out to be 4 Weight Watchers points per serving, approx 1 cup. Add extra for rice. I had half a cup which brought the total to 6 WW points.

Cheers :-)