About the Noise Level…

An Open Letter to my Fellow Gym Members who need Ear-Splitting Levels of Music to Work Out:

Isn’t it great that we belong to a 24 hour gym? One that lets us in to work out even when there is no one there to supervise? Yeah, I think it’s great too. Keeps costs down, and hey, we’re all adults, right? Meaning we are responsible users of the gym and won’t abuse the privilege of being able to be there at any time we want. Right?

So how come when I go in during unsupervised hours, often the gym’s sound system is cranked to brain-puddling levels? So loud, that I have to dial up my iPod to the max just to hear my workout music, AND I CAN STILL HEAR the gym’s sound system playing thrash-metal over top of it.  I don’t think it’s particularly fair that I have to choose to between getting fit and keeping my hearing, do you?

Forget it. Don’t bother to answer. It was a rhetorical question, dumba**.  There is no good reason/excuse to damage everyone’s hearing, including your own.

Speaking of iPods/MP3 players…why don’t you get one and crank it till your ears bleed. That’s right…YOUR EARS…and no one else’s.

So, the next time I go to the gym and I feel like my head is going to explode as soon as I walk in the door, I am heading straight to the sound system and pulling the plug. Please try to keep your ‘Roid Rage in check.

This has been a public service announcement for/by sane people everywhere.


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3 weeks later and 4 pounds lighter…

…I am seeing benefits of my renewed dedication to my health.

I have a significant increase in physical and mental energy.

My legs are firming up and regaining their shape, from the running and the walking I am doing.

I have been successful at integrating running workouts into my schedule. Just completed week 3 of a Couch – to – 5 K plan.

My weight training workouts  – well, I am not so successful there.  This is because it is not as easy and mindless as jumping onto the treadmill, tapping on my iPod to get the workout playing, and taking off from there.  I have to concentrate on proper form, and at this stage for me, it means referring to the print-outs of the exercises I carry in my gym bag. Plus it takes longer than my treadmill workouts. According to the Body Sculpting Bible, I am supposed to be resting for 90 seconds in between sets. So, I perform a set then…la di da di da ho hum la di da…I set up for, and read up on the next exercise. I wait for the time to pass… and fret just a bit about how my lunch hour is running long and I need to get back to work…and by that time my pretty little pink Gym Boss rings and away I go again.

So, when I feel pressed for time, I ditch the weights and jump onto the treadmill. For that mindless, feel-good workout. Yes, I do realize the stupidity of this. I am a big believer of strength training so this bugs me, that I can’t get into a regular routine with weights. I have to come up with a different solution – a faster workout to get me into the habit of lifting weights again as I am now in the habit of running again.

I have a lot of weight training DVDs that offer 10-20 minute workouts of particular muscle groups (legs and glutes, arms & chest, etc.). But I’m not really too jazzed about bringing my DVD player to the gym – I feel that would be like bringing my own personal trainer onto the gym trainers’ turf.  It just doesn’t seem too “nice” – rather rude, in fact. Like bringing a bagged lunch to a restaurant and eating it there. So I will have to be doing this at home or in my office since I am not willing to shell out for personal training at this time.  (Not that I have any thing against personal trainers – after all, it was through my former personal trainer that JD and I became re-acquainted!)

I will switch to DVD for now, and come back to the “Bible” once I am more re-acquainted with the exercises and the strength training is firmly established in my routine. There’s nothing like an exercise video to get the job done and do the thinking for you. 😉

My first strength-training goal – to be able to do a set of  12 full, on-the-toes, manly-man-type push-ups. Not going to happen soon, but it will happen! You read it here first. 🙂

Next week: I’ll be taking my measurements again after my weigh-in. (I plan to do this every 4 weeks – another measure of progress, perhaps even a better one than the scale.)

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Holland Trip – May 2011

Sunset, flying east.
Sunset, flying east.

Time at last to publish some photos of the trip I took last month to Holland, with my daughter and my mom.  The purpose of the trip was many fold: spend time with, and introduce my daughter to her heritage, celebrate my mom’s 75th birthday and the successful end of her recent bout of chemotherapy, re-connect with my extended family (aunts, uncle and cousins), and just take a break from everyday life, of course!

(JD couldn’t make it this time due to work constraints, but we are looking forward to a trip to Holland together, hopefully in the not-too-distant future).

Because of space restrictions, Mizz J and I stayed with Peter and Adel in Amsterdam, and Mom stayed with her sister, my Tante Julia, in Haarlem. Even though we were apart, we did spend many days together visiting with family as the two cities are only a 20 minute train or car ride away from each other.

We did the tourist things, natuurlijk (naturally)…

Zaanse Schans
Zaanse Schans

Old style windmills (still around and some still working)…and now new style windmills, much more abundant and definitely working:

New style windmills.
New style windmills.
Mizz J and a friend, Volendam.
Mizz J and a friend, Volendam.
Museumplein, Amsterdam (of course!)
Museumplein, Amsterdam (of course!)
Fabulous architecture, Amsterdam
Fabulous architecture, Amsterdam
Statue of Hans Brinker, Spaarndam. Note Hans has his whole hand in the dink, not just a finger.
Statue of Hans Brinker, Spaarndam.

Statue symbolic of the struggle of the Dutch to reclaim (and maintain) their land from the water. Note: Hans has his whole hand, not just his thumb, in the dyke.

Organ in de Grote Kerk, Haarlem
Organ in de Grote Kerk, Haarlem
View of Haarlem and Grote Kerk from Vroom & Dreesman (Dutch department store chain)
View of Haarlem and Grote Kerk from Vroom & Dreesman (Dutch department store chain)
Overlooking Het Strand (The Beach) at Zandvoort
Mizz J photographing the shells in the surf, Zandvoort
Mizz J photographing the shells in the surf, Zandvoort
Afsluitdijk, North Sea on one side, Ijsselmeer on the other
Dutch engineering, transforming land and water, 1933
Dutch engineering, transforming land and water, 1933

And we really enjoyed being together with family and experiencing Dutch culture and everyday life.

Our gracious hosts, Cousin Peter and his lovely wife, Adel
Our gracious hosts, Cousin Peter and his lovely wife, Adel

Peter and Adel live in an airy, bright, spacious apartment in Amsterdam overlooking a canal. They couldn’t have made us feel more welcome and we loved staying with them. Adel treated us to delicious Indonesian home cooking and Peter spoiled us with a dish made of white asparagus with ham, eggs and smoked salmon – a more typical Dutch meal for this time of year.

Cousin Ton and Tante Julia, enjoying country living at Ton and Helen's in beautiful Breezand
Cousin Ton and Tante Julia, enjoying country living at Ton and Helen’s in beautiful Breezand

My cousin Helen and her husband Ton took a big risk a couple of years ago and moved from the city to the country, in order for Ton to set up his own business. Ton is a mechanical genius and of course, his business has become a success. They love their new life and what’s not to love? Peaceful, beautiful Dutch country village living!

Canal in front of  Ton and Helen's, Breezand
Canal in front of Ton and Helen’s, Breezand
Tante Tineke and Oom Roel's gorgeous tuin (backyard) in Driehuis
Tante Tineke and Oom Roel’s gorgeous tuin (backyard) in Driehuis
Mom enjoying a herring on the Cronje Straat, Haarlem
Mom enjoying a herring on the Cronje Straat, Haarlem
Oom Nan, far right, singing with the Zandvoort Mannen Choir
Oom Nan, far right, singing with the Zandvoort Mannen Choir

Each of my aunts,and my uncle too, belong to some kind of singing group, and perform regularly.  There’s talent in the family, that’s for sure. I think that is pretty cool.

Oom Nan, Tante Tineke, Mom and Tante Julia (Helen and Ton cutting up in the background) Mom's  75th Birthday Celebration @ Tante Julia's beautiful place in Haarlem
Oom Nan, Tante Tineke, Mom and Tante Julia (Helen and Ton cutting up in the background) Mom’s 75th Birthday Celebration @ Tante Julia’s beautiful place in Haarlem
How do you find your own bike in a pile like this? Outside of train station, Haarlem (and many more bikes behind me)
How do you find your own bike in a pile like this? Outside of train station, Haarlem (and many more bikes behind me)
Flower fields, flowers cut off to allow energy to be put into bulbs - Notice how flat the land is
Flower fields, flowers cut off to allow energy to be put into bulbs – Notice how flat the land is
Typical street scene, Amsterdam...with Mizz J. Note the ubiquitous bikes.
Typical street scene, Amsterdam…with Mizz J. Note the ubiquitous bikes.
Another typical view of Amsterdam, city of canals
Another typical view of Amsterdam, city of canals

A lovely trip. Time spent with lovely people. Many happy memories and connections re-formed. Good times, good food. Heritage, culture, art, recreation and entertainment. Everything a vacation should be.

Cousin Peter and Mizz J, in front of Centraal Station (train station), Amsterdam
Cousin Peter and Mizz J, in front of Centraal Station (train station), Amsterdam


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Project Me Update

I really should be blogging about my recent trip to Holland and the ensuing reuniting with my far-flung relatives, and the even more recent reunion with my two sisters (also far-flung but still on the same continent as me), but those posts will take some time to put together as they are going to be picture-heavy.

And right now uploading pictures to the blog postings is more than my patience can handle, so it will have to wait until I am:

  1. More rested
  2. More interested in learning how to do this in WordPress without pulling my hair out as I try to figure out the best way (upload them all first, or write post first…hmmmm?)
  3. More patient (not my strong suit, but I can dream, can’t I?)
  4. Less inclined to suffer shoulder and neck pain from too much time spent in front of the computer. I see the chiro tomorrow night so that should help a bit. I live mostly in my mind as opposed to my body, so if it hurts enough for me to notice it, I am in a lot of pain.


I’ve been seeing a naturopath since I am not getting anywhere with my family doc in figuring out why I am so tired and in a state I call “brain fog” most of the time. Perimenopause, malfunctioning thyroid, anemia….all possible suspects. I had my blood tested for all manner of things in April and the doc proclaimed my results were “perfect”, so apparently there is nothing left to be done, according to modern medicine. Great doc, so why do I still feel like crap a lot of the time? Hmmmm?

I looked at these same results and saw my TSH levels were still high, according to newer thinking by medical professionals….although my doc says she can’t prescribe anything till my results get a tiny bit higher. So what do I do in the meantime, suffer? Hell no, I shall do my own research and be my own doc, says I.

And so I did. I learned an awful lot about hormones. And not just the female/male kind either. Adrenal and thyroid as well. And how all 3 (adrenal, thyroid and sex) glands work together to keep things running tickety-boom in our bodies. And how if one is out of whack, it puts extra pressure on the other two to perform and can burn them out too. And mostly I learned that I am quite possibly a hormonal hot mess.

During this time, JD cut an article out of the paper about a visiting speaker, Lorna VanderHaeghe, who just happened to be coming to the Village Hotel to talk about….Hormones. Mizzus J and I went to hear Ms. V, despite my initial skepticism/cynicism upon researching her online, that she was the modern day equivalent of a snake oil salesman. I was pleasantly surprised to find that she was warm, sincere, and made a lot of sense. So Mizzus J and I walked out of the seminar with several bottles of her products. I tried the Ironsmart drink  – it really does taste like a Werther’s candy, which is a welcome relief after Floradix – a great product that tastes yucky. I also started taking Estrosmart, and after a couple of weeks of this regimen I noticed something quite amazing. I had gone from experiencing 15-20 hot flashes a day to ZERO. Yes, my hot flashes are gone.

And I actually am feeling a bit better. But not 100% yet so the naturopath has given me a little bottle of pills that contains actual ground up porcine thyroid in it. It may be a bit soon to tell, but I think it is working.

Among the other things Dr. Dao did during her 90 minute (!!!!) initial exam (just try to get a “regular” Dr. to spend 90 minutes with you, without having to resort to having a medical emergency in the exam room), was an in-depth lifestyle interview. She also performed a body composition analysis. After my trip to Holland, I saw her again  – and again, a body composition analysis was done. I was pleased to find out that:

  1. My weight stayed the same, despite enjoying many, many Dutch goodies. Stroopwafels,  I am looking at you. For example. One of many. 😉
  2. I had actually lost 1 pound of fat and gained 1 pound of muscle, due no doubt to all the walking that was done while in Holland.

This has inspired me to see how much more fat I can lose and muscle I can gain before I see Barbara again, for another body composition analysis.

I have taken a long, hard and realistic look at one of the things I was hoping to accomplish this summer – signing up for, and training for another half-marathon. Ain’t gonna happen. Not this summer. Not ready for it.

This summer I am going to do the smart thing instead, and redo my Couch-to-5K running regime. I am also going back to weight training, as with my running program, as a beginner (yet again). I am starting off by following the workout plans in The Body Sculpting Bible for Women, a really great book on the subject I picked up recently.

Progress so far: on week 3 of C25K and really enjoying it. On week 2 of “The Bible’s” Break-In Routine #1, not minding that at all either.

I am also logging my food and exercise at My Fitness Pal.com, a website I  really enjoying using (and it’s all free!).

I’m feeling good about the changes I am making, and I think the changes I am making are making me feel good too!

I’ll keep you posted.

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Welcome to my new home….and about the new name…..

Hello Subscribers and Internet Surfers!

How do you like my new place?

The old place (The Next Year of My Life) was a very comfortable and cozy home, but I felt it was time to stop…ahem…”renting” (not really – it’s free but I think you get my drift) from Blogger, and “buy” my own place (really – I am the proud and happy owner of my first domain name.) The irony of the above statement is not lost on me:  now I am truly a renter, of hosted space on the Internet for my new home.

Those of you who know Dutch probably know what Hete Bliksem is and those of you who don’t know Dutch are probably wondering how to pronounce it and what the heck it is.

What it sounds like: “HATE-uh BLIK-sem”. Say it out loud. There. You spoke Dutch, and no phlegm was required. (If you’ve ever tried to speak it, or know someone who does, I hope you are laughing at this point.)

What it means: Hot Lightning or Hot Flash of Lightning. Not sure which translation is the most accurate and really, does it matter?

What it is: a hot dish made of mashed potatoes and cooked apples, with some kind of smoked pork product (like bacon) thrown in for extra tastiness! I’ve been told the name comes from the fact that the dish stays hot for a very long time. Recipes abound in many variations on This Very Internet. Google it!

What possessed me to choose this name for the blog:

  • It’s Dutch.
  • It’s a hot dish of tasty comfort food * – these are good qualities for a blog!
  • I just came back from a trip to Holland to visit family, and having All Things Dutch on the brain, purchased a Dutch cookbook (Let’s Go Dutch, by fellow Canuck Johanna van der Zeijst Bates).  I saw the recipe in the book, and the rest is history.
  • I could have called it Blote Billetjes in Het Groen (another recipe from the book), but “Bare Little Bums in the Grass” might send the wrong kind of traffic to my site, if you know what I mean. (What IS IT with these Dutch recipe names?!?!)
  • I like watching lightning, from a safe, dry place of course.
  • I am in the “Hot Flash” time of my life, though I am currently no longer experiencing them thanks to a herbal remedy I am taking.
  • I think it’s a cool name. Did I mention it was Dutch?

*Nope, can’t recall ever eating it and I’ve certainly never made it. But every Dutch person I have talked to about this perks up at the mention and tells me it’s delicious. So now I just have to make it in the fall when the weather is right for this type of dish.

So here it is…Casa Hete Bliksem.  Come on in and make yourself comfortable.  Hope you like it here as much as I do!

Update on the Name (June 19/2011):

My cousin Peter informs me that Hete Bliksem is also a slang term for a “hottie”, an attractive woman who’s got it goin’ on. This usage is news to me and didn’t turn up on the internet when I was researching the name. Don’t feel it applies to me and don’t really need it to…but maybe someday, if  I get my mojo back…50+ mojo??? One can dream, I suppose. 🙂

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