A Full Degree Below Normal: You Get the Point…

    Saturday, July 16, 2011, 5:38 PM [General]

    I’ll be darned. I’ve posted to my blog every day now and I haven’t yet mentioned that (a) I am a consummate “foodie” and (b) I am a lifetime member of Weight Watchers (WW). Usually those factoids are among the first things I mention about myself. Imagine that.

    Well, there’s no time like the present, so… .

    About being a foodie: It’s simple, really. Food – buying it, preparing it, eating it – is always on or close to my mind (more on that in a future post…).

    About WW: I achieved the exalted status of lifetime member in 2003 after 10 months on the program and the removal of 65 pounds. Life being what it is however, I “lapsed” and, these days, I attend weekly meetings to gain insight and remove the pounds I’d earlier *lost* that somehow found me again.

    Which brings me to this morning… .   

    I’m almost completely recovered from surgery I underwent 3½ weeks ago. In that recovery period, however, I lacked the fortitude to exercise or attend WW meetings. The combination resulted in my packing on the pounds. Okay, it wasn’t *that* bad. But I did put a few pounds on, so I decided to wipe the slate clean and start from the beginning again. (I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve done that, if you must know.)

    Now, in my years as a Weight Watcher, several structural changes have been made to the program. Through all the changes, however, one thing has stayed constant – using the renowned “points” system.   

    When I got home today after meeting, I realized that I didn’t know how many daily points I’d been allotted. “Wow!” I thought, “Could I possibly have more points than I did before surgery?”   

    Ha! I should be so lucky … .

    So I was thinking about points and a recent conversation with Gary sprang to mind.

    On Beliefnet, website activity earns you “activity points.”

    WW has activity points, too. When you do enough exercise, you accrue points to add to your daily/weekly total for use on … FOOD! 

    The other night during dinner, while discussing my blog, Gary asked, “How many (Beliefnet) activity points do you have?”

    “About 9,000, give or take,” I replied.  

    As I looked at my plate, I thought, “If only, if only…”


    0 (0 Ratings)

    A Full Degree Below Normal: The 11th Commandment

    Friday, July 15, 2011, 4:29 PM [General]

    When I was about nine years old, I declared one morning that from that moment forth, I was a vegetarian. Later that evening, as I happily tucked into a hot dog, my sister asked how my pursuit of vegetarianism was going. Whoops! 

    My parents probably knew “It was just a phase….”

    After college, I became a vegetarian again, briefly. This time, though, I had good reason and considerably more motivation. 

    After graduating, a gal pal and I considered a trip to Israel to take part in an archaeological dig. I’d studied art history and thought it would be very exciting. When I told my parents about going to Israel, they started making plans for me to stay on a kibbutz they’d visited on one of their many trips. In short order, the fledgling idea of being an archaeologist for a summer was shelved and I was kibbutz-bound.

    Like a farm, a kibbutz has an agricultural focus. At the one I was at, they had spice fields and a factory to process the spices for commercial sale; they ran a fish farm; they had a bug-raising program in which the bugs were used as “natural” pest control, to avoid chemical pesticides and they had some standard “farm” elements, including a cow barn and chickens.

    As on a farm, everyone – people and animals – lived among everyone else. My luck, I lived about 100 yards from the coops where the chicks were kept. Could you really eat something this cute?    

    Just call me Fern, like the young girl in E.B. White’s epic novel, “Charlotte’s Web.” Like Fern, I came to feel that the immature chickens were my friends and so, I swore off eating chicken while I lived there.

    But it still disturbed me that other people were killing and eating these adorable creatures.

    There are two commandments among “the Ten” about appropriate behavior towards one’s neighbor and a third about not killing. I decided I needed an 11th commandment so I added one to the list. The 11th Commandment is: “Thou shalt not eat thy next-door neighbor.”

    What would your 11th Commandment be if you could add one?



    1.9 (1 Ratings)

    A Full Degree Below Normal: I’ll Lead…

    Thursday, July 14, 2011, 11:46 AM [General]

    There’s a story circulating on the Internet about a blind woman traveling with a seeing-eye dog whose plane was diverted, causing a layover. The pilot, who knew the woman, asked if she wanted to stretch her legs during the wait. She said she was okay, but asked that her dog be taken for a walk, which the pilot gladly agreed to. You can imagine the horror of the other passengers when they saw a pilot wearing dark glasses step off the plane with a seeing-eye dog!

    Allegedly, the story is true. I don’t know. I wasn’t there.

    But it made me smile, all the same, as it brought to mind a story I was there for….

    Years ago I dated a blind guy. Our relationship was a hoot, right from the start. You see, “way back then” the Internet, if it even existed, was not commonly available like it is now, so dating services, such as the one I used (Yes, I used a dating service. Not that it did much good ... thank God!) relied on postal mail and the phone to connect singles who were “looking for love.”

    When Nick and I first spoke after I heard his message for me, I asked, “Did you say you were blind or blond?” Either way, I was open-minded. Of course, being a girl and loving “cute, fuzzy little animals” I had to know if he used a seeing-eye dog or a white cane, secretly hoping for a dog. Dapper guy that he was, though, he used a cane.

    So we made a date.

    On that first date, in late summer, we met in New York City and took a walk in Central Park. Hmmm. Central Park in summer. There were *just a few people* out that day….

    Before we began walking, Nick explained that for comfort’s sake when with someone else, he would fold up his cane and simply hold his companion’s arm. Sounded good to me. He seemed proper enough, besides I had plenty of witnesses if he tried to “get fresh….” 

    So we started walking together. After a short distance, I thought it’d be neat to see what it was like to use a white cane. So I asked Nick if I could try it out. Worse came to worse, I figured, he’d say “No.” But he was game. So I opened the cane and off we went again – me in my dark (sun)glasses wielding the cane and my legitimately blind partner.   

    Le me just say that never before or since have I had busy New Yorkers clear a path faster for me than they did that day in the park. I could barely contain myself as we ambled around because only we knew that we were engaged in a social science experiment known proverbially as “The blind leading the blind”! 


    1.9 (1 Ratings)

    A Full Degree Below Normal: Just Call Me Miss Spelling…

    Wednesday, July 13, 2011, 4:43 PM [General]

    I am gregarious and curious, by nature. As such, my character lent itself to being a reporter, which I was for nearly 10 years. That was nearly 10 years ago. Since then, I’ve held a few jobs. The big change came in 2009, though, when I left the workforce to be an at-home wife.

    Let me point out that for me, being “at-home” doesn’t literally mean being at home. Because I like to interact with others, I volunteer several days a week.

    For the last two years, I’ve been offering resume writing assistance at our local one-stop career center. Many of my clients are poorly educated, others are not native English speakers and still others are just careless. The result is that what I see on resumes amuses and amazes me.

    It’s mind-boggling to me how substituting a few letters – or even just one – can radically change a word’s meaning.

    Consider this from a recent resume: “Confident with numbers and financial matters.” If we replace confident with an alternate meaning we get: “Self-assured with numbers…” Maybe the writer is self assured with numbers, but would you agree with my assessment that she probably meant: “Competent with numbers…”?

    In preparing a recent blog post, my finger hit the wrong letter on the computer keyboard and I wound up with a blog titled, “A Dull Degree Below Normal.” Yikes. I don’t want to read that blog and I’m writing it.

    When the Navy rolled out their new advertising slogan – “America’s Navy: A Global Force for Good” – two years ago, there was considerable backlash. A Navy Times article said sailors felt the pitch was too “preachy.”

    What, I wonder, would they have thought had they seen the slogan as I saw it on the JumboTron at a sports game?But for one pesky letter….

    The slogan read, “America’s Navy: A Global Force for God”!


    0 (0 Ratings)

    A Full Degree Below Normal: God is a Little Too Good Sometimes…

    Tuesday, July 12, 2011, 12:20 PM [General]

    Years ago, before we were married, Gary and I were scoping out his property (now our property) when in among numerous flowering plants we saw something that resembled a fig tree. We weren’t really sure it was a fig, though. The leaves looked promising, but we’d seen other trees in our area that had fig-like leaves, so…

    But as we looked at it more closely, we saw … a tiny fig. We were convinced that it was the genuine article.

    After we got over our excitement of having a “yummy fruit” tree in the yard, we realized to our consternation that the tiny, delicate tree wouldn’t survive in the shaded area in which it had somehow put down roots.

    This wouldn’t do, we concluded.

    So with care and Herculean strength, Gary dug the tree out by its roots and we replanted it in a sunny spot in the center of the yard.

    I was so excited! “Just think,” I thought to myself, “soon we’ll be eating figs galore!”

    Be careful what you wish for….  

    In the first few years the tree did little, other than frustrate me, by not producing. In the last few years though, each harvest has been progressively more bountiful.

    Cut to yesterday. Gary and I harvested approximately 50 figs. The day before, we collected 35 and the day before that, 25. That’s more than 100 figs in three days.

    I’m running out of bowls to put them in, my neighbors are already getting tired of them and there’s a limit to how many I can eat in one day. (No one can say I’m not getting enough fiber in my diet…)

    I’m about to go out and gather today’s harvest. I confess I’m nervous.

    God is good, perhaps a little too good sometimes…


    2.3 (1 Ratings)

    A Full Degree Below Normal: Faithful to a Fault …

    Monday, July 11, 2011, 2:53 PM [General]

    Wow. Gary and I have been married for six years and we’ve been together for more than seven years. I’ve certainly “noticed” other men in that time, but I’ve never considered being unfaithful. Indeed, you might say I’m faithful to a fault. Allow me to explain….

    Commuting in the National Capital Area is similar to the northeast’s “Tri-State Area.” Just as residents of NJ and CT go into NY for work, in our area, people live in Maryland and Virginia and go into DC to work.

    When Gary and I were dating, I lived *and worked* in Maryland and he lived in Virginia. For me to get from VA to my job was a complete schlep, so while I’d have liked to come home to him every day, at that time we only spent weekends together.

    You know the saying, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder”? That was my story. Gary was my sweetheart and I carried him with me in my heart. And when we got engaged, I carried a token of his love and affection on my finger every day.

    One day, subsequent to our engagement, I had to work late. When I left the office, it was dark out. I’m wary of “things” after dark so while waiting at a red light, out of the corner of my eye I took in a guy motioning to me from another car, but I ignored him. I wasn’t buyin’ whatever he was sellin’…

    This guy was not to be deterred, though. He kept tapping his horn and waving to me.

    Finally, I raised my hand, pointed to my (engagement) ring and mouthed, “Dude, I’m married!” 

    Some men just can’t take a hint, though… He continued to point to my car and gesture to me, signaling that I should roll down my window.

    Finally, I figured the only way I was going to get this guy off my back would be to grant him an audience.  

    So I rolled down my window and he rolled down his. Totally exasperated, I looked and him and said, “What?!”

    He replied: “Lady, your headlight is out!” 


    0 (0 Ratings)

    A Full Degree Below Normal: My Husband Wears Many Hats

    Sunday, July 10, 2011, 3:51 PM [General]

    It’s here! It’s arrived! It’s … my anniversary. I promise I’m almost done talking about it. (There might be one more post after this...) I’m going to keep this post simple, since I’m busy celebrating with my “one and only.”

    I’ve been thinking about him endlessly lately and it occurs to me that he’s much more than a husband. He’s a son, a friend, an employee, a boss, a son-in-law, a nephew, a cousin and who knows what else? In a nutshell, you could say that he wears many hats.

    Here he is in a few of them…. How can you not love this face? 


    1.9 (1 Ratings)

    A Full Degree Below Normal: My Name is Stein Steinberg …

    Saturday, July 9, 2011, 5:21 PM [General]


    “Marriage is a great institution, but I’m not ready for an institution yet.” – Mae West

    You’ve probably figured out that this post is about me getting married. Stands to reason, since my anniversary is tomorrow....

    Growing up in the 70’s, I used to sing a popular song called, “My Name is Jan Jansen” (Yahn Yahn-sin). The song is what’s known as “infinitely recursive,” meaning that it continues in a loop ad infinitum (or ad nauseum, whichever comes first…). If you’re not grasping the concept, think, “The Song That Never Ends.”

    Give or take, this is how the song goes:

    Feel free to hit “Stop” whenever you want, although I have to say that the end of this video is rather amusing.

    But I digress…

    If this post is about my marriage, why am I thinking about the song “My Name is Jan Jansen”?

    Before I was Daphne Steinberg, I was Daphne Stein. Daphne Stein dated lots of men – and some boys, too – before meeting Gary. You’d think I might have met someone before him, no?

    In answer to that question, I offer this Yiddish proverb: “Man plans and God laughs.”

    Of all the guys I dated, naturally, I fell madly in love with the one whose last name was *Steinberg.* Thus, upon marrying Gary six years ago tomorrow, I became, Daphne Stein Steinberg….

    Lest you think you’re witty, I can pretty much assure you that I’ve heard every joke/gag/inquiry in the book already….

    To date, my favorite is this one from a college pal:  “I remember knowing you in college as Daphne Stein. I thought maybe you shortened your name for school!” 


    1.9 (1 Ratings)

    A Full Degree Below Normal: Thank You for Firing Me

    Friday, July 8, 2011, 1:25 PM [General]

    There are several schools of thought about who coined the phrase “Have an attitude of gratitude.” Was it Anthony Robbins? Maybe Wayne Dyer? Could it have been Zig Ziglar? Perhaps Oprah?

    I’ll let others argue about who said it first. I’m just going to concentrate on putting those words to work for myself.

    This Sunday, Gary and I will celebrate our anniversary. We’ve been married for six years and a couple for slightly more than seven years. Since we met, I’ve been incredibly grateful to everyone who had a hand – knowingly or not – in bringing us together. But I’ve never really declared that publicly and manifested my attitude of gratitude. So…

    Simply put, Gary is the best thing that has ever happened to me. Indeed, when we were dating, I asked him for a list of his ex-girlfriends, so I could personally write each one a note saying “Thanks for breaking up with him and making him available for me.”

    But when I think seriously about us, I am especially grateful to the person who set things in motion. His name is Tom and he was my boss about 10 years ago. When I worked for Tom, I was unhealthy physically and emotionally. I was more than 50 pounds overweight and very depressed. Towards the end of my tenure at Tom's company, every day, upon waking, I would say: “Please God, let be the day that I get fired.”

    I guess I need to thank God, too, for answering my prayer. After several months, “the other shoe dropped” and I was fired.

    It took a while to get back on my feet, but when I did, everything fell into place – I lost the weight; got a new job; moved to a wonderful, vibrant part of the country and met Gary. And the rest is history.

    I really don’t know what might have transpired if I hadn’t been given that pink slip. It terrifies me to think that I might still be in upstate NY – alone, sick and angry. I have just one thing to say about that. Thank you, Tom, from the bottom of my heart, for firing me.  


    1.9 (1 Ratings)

    A Full Degree Below Normal: Kill ’Em with Kindness

    Thursday, July 7, 2011, 11:46 AM [General]

    Until recently, my next-door neighbors drove me crazy. They are inconsiderate, unfriendly people who have no respect for others’ property. I guess they're not familiar with that famous passage in Leviticus: "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself...."

    Every day, for several months, I would have to collect garbage that had blown out of their overstuffed cans into my flowerbeds. Gross! And one day, I chanced to look into my back yard only to find my neighbor’s wife, children and dog running around, seemingly using my space as their playground. 

    I was especially distressed by that incident because we have a glorious garden with herbs, berries and a big, beautiful fig tree, which produces fruit in abundance. I envisioned the dog – or the kids – knocking the tree over, running over my berry bushes… Ooh! It made me shudder.  

    At times I hoped and prayed that they would just “go away,” not caring whether they moved, disappeared in a cloud of smoke or simply faded away. Just so they’d be gone.

    But they didn’t leave, by any means.

    So, of late, I’ve resolved to try to live with them as they are. After all, it could be worse. I mean, they could be ax murderers, for all I know, right?

    And if living with them doesn’t work, I’ve got another, more “sinister” idea …

    This morning, while I was gathering plump, ripe, fragrant figs one after another, the children and their grandmother came out of their house. The tree yields too many figs for Gary and me to eat on our own, so I offered some to them and in that moment, I lit upon a way to get rid of them…

    My plan? Kill ‘em with kindness.  



    2.3 (1 Ratings)

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