Friday, December 9, 2016


I’m in Chicago. The last time I was here it was September and so warm that we were concerned with turning on the air conditioner. The fan is still sitting in the living room where we used it to bring in the cool evening air. It seems pretty irrelevant now.

I got here just as the weather changed from mild to cold. I heard all about it on the local news. It fascinates me how the news reports the weather now. Words are my business, so I pay a lot of attention to how they are used. No longer do they merely list what the high and low temperature is going to be and whether there is going to be sun, clouds, rain or snow. It seems that whatever the conditions are going to be, they are described in threatening terms. Everything now seems to be about wind chill. All the talk today was that the wind chill was going to make it feel like it was zero. But when it’s zero, the wind chill is always lower than zero, so who knows what zero even feels like.

The weather people were using terms like frigid and dangerous cold. I was supposed to meet a friend for breakfast and I wondered if I’d turn into an icicle on the way since I had to walk a far distance. After all the warnings to bundle up, I put on a long coat I keep here, along with a hat, a scarf and gloves before bracing myself to face the icy blast the weather people had warned about.

It wasn’t that bad. The wind gusts did take my breath away, but all I had to do was hold the scarf in front of my mouth to block the wind and I was okay. I walked almost four miles and I was fine whatever the wind chill was.

Now they’re talking about two snow storms coming this weekend. It is interesting how they describe the accumulation. The weather person talked about a European measurement and I guess an American measurement. There was no explanation what the two measurements meant, or why since they were both in inches, they were different. Also the weather pattern to create all this snow is still quite a distance away, so you have to wonder how accurate all the warnings were anyway.

The point seems to be to make any weather condition sound as dramatic and dangerous as possible. As if everybody doesn’t have enough to worry about already.

I notice that whenever they talk about the national weather and some storm path, they talk about the millions of people who will be impacted by it. That’s a new thing and it certainly makes it sound worse than it is.

Area has become region. And though this has nothing to do with weather, the big word on the Internet now seems to be hack. According to the dictionary, the word hack has several meanings, but none that include how it is being used currently. Now hack seems to mean a shortcut in doing something. I guess hack is slang.

I do my best not to include slang when I’m writing. It might sound trendy and current now, but once it’s over with, it just sounds tired and stupid. Think “talk to the hand.”
I guess becoming a writer has affected everything I do including how I watch the news. I am fascinated by the words they use and how they use them.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Research Proves it: Yoga improves Bone Density!

I became interested in methods to build bone health in my early thirties.  Not coincidentally, it was the same day my first DEXA scan showed that I already had osteoporosis, likely due to excessively low estrogen levels in spite of estrogen replacement therapy.

I’ve long believed that yoga could safely help build bones, as has my teacher, Gary Kraftsow. It makes sense. After all, yoga is a low impact, weight-bearing exercise that strengthens the muscles supporting the spine, wrist, and hip, which are at particularly high fracture risk in individuals with osteoporosis.  Anecdotally, I also know that my own bone density increased from moderate osteoporosis and osteopenia (depending on the bone) to “low normal.” The increases began after I started practicing yoga--in spite of the fact that the doctor took me off of bone-building medication.

Finally, we have some research that backs us up.

The ten-year study done by Dr. Loren M. Fishman—a physiatrist at Columbia University who specializes in rehabilitative medicine—involved Iyengar postures, but I have every reason to believe Viniyoga (which uses repetition as well as “staying” in poses to build strength) would have results that are as good, if not better.

Study practitioners performed yoga poses for twelve minutes every day (or at least every other day) for ten years. The time period is important:  Bone density builds slowly. It can take years to find measurable change. According to a December 21 New York Times article:

“The findings, as reported last month in Topics of Geriatric Rehabilitation, showed improved bone density in the spine and femur of the 227 participants who were moderately or fully compliant with the assigned yoga exercises.

Improvements were seen in bone density in the hip as well, but they were not statistically significant.”

Even more encouraging, there were no fractures or significant injuries among any of the participants in the study—indicating that yoga is a safe activity even for older individuals with significant bone loss. And unlike bone-building drugs, which come with a host of gastrointestinal and other side effects, yoga gives increased strength, better posture and improved mental health.

Go forth and practice! Your body, breath, mind, and bones will thank you!


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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Party Time!

It's now the last month of the year, the holiday season.

That also means it's time to party!

I attended a really fun holiday party of the Sisters in Crime Los Angeles chapter last weekend--on the same night I also attended a really fun party thrown by a friend.

Weekend after next is the holiday party thrown by the local chapter of Mystery Writers of America, and I plan to be there, too.

And a couple of days ago I participated in a particularly enjoyable Winter Holiday Online party on Facebook where I posted some fun stuff and answered questions and gave away a prize.

There are other events going on, too--some with family, some with friends.  It's definitely a busy part of the year.  Almost enough to make me forget upcoming deadlines... not.

No, I'll work everything in somehow.

I'm sure the rest of you are busy, too--but I'd love to hear what you're up to during this eventful holiday season!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Evoking Memories

I finally got the tree up and decorated – I really am getting too old for this climbing on ladders, even little ones, but I love it too much to quit.  One of the best parts is hanging ornaments I’ve had for a long time.  The memories some of these evoke are precious to me.  One is a double memory-evoker.  I don’t remember where I first heard of making one, but it is a clear glass ball that I’ve filled with orts – the tiny ends of floss clipped off when I’m stitching.  I bought the ball at Michael’s, the craft and hobby shop chain.  This one is years old, from back when I first heard of doing this, back when I was just learning to really stitch.  I can even remember some of the pieces these orts came from.

I am currently filling a new glass ball with orts from the Dancing Skeleton and the Christmas Stocking, and whatever I work on next.

Today I am at last resuming Remicade treatments.  It’s an “infusion,” which means that every six weeks I sit in an extremely comfortable recliner and get hooked to an IV that puts a mixture into my bloodstream that knocks down my immune system.  I have psoriasis and, unfortunately, psoriatic arthritis, a double-whammy auto-immune disease.  I had to stop the treatments when I had the MRSA infection.  But I’ve been clear of any trace of it for a while, and my rheumatologist has ordered the Remicade to begin again.  I’m glad because my psoriasis has flared up and my joints are very painful.  And yes, we’ll be looking at my response to Remicade very closely as time goes on.  Just in case.

 It appears the extremely mild autumn and early winter weather we’ve been enjoying is ended.  Bitter cold and high winds are predicted for the next several days.  Fortunately, the snow that generally accompanies this change is all out in the Dakotas and up in the northernmost part of my state, not down here in the Twin Cities.  Up there, it’s blizzard conditions, but like they say, there’s nothing between them and the north pole but a barb-wire fence, and it’s down.