Dear Kids, I worry about you. All the time. Incessantly. I want your lives to be perfect. I want you to be happy and have no worries. And most of all, I want you to be safe. I find as you get older, it is harder for me to protect you. I can’t control everything. Because I want smooth sailing for you, I am often too critical, trying to improve small aspects of your lives. I am sorry about that. Believe me, I turn over each critical remark thousands of times in my mind wishing I could take it back, realizing that living your own lives your own ways is more important than my trying to tidy up the edges and control outcomes for you. I could not ask for better, smarter, more caring and responsible people than you are. So, Resolution #1 for 2005, is to celebrate the fact that you’ve turned out so well and worry less.


Here’s my salad dressing recipe. Use this on salads or as a marinating liquid.

Make up a packet of Good Seasons Fat Free Italian Dressing according to the directions using balsamic vinegar. Add one teaspoon of olive oil. Shake. You will be amazed at the difference in taste.


Today’s word is familiar for this time of year, but it is an alternate meaning that I am focusing on today.

Resolution – This word can mean “a firm determination on a decided course of action.” But, it can also mean “to see something more clearly and distinguish a fineness of detail.”



What is it today with people not following the rules? And I’m not just talking about being polite, that is a whole other worry. Yesterday, I was standing in line at Best Buy, first in the “please wait here for next available representative,” and a guy just walks right past me and takes the next available representative (I guess “salesperson” must be demeaning.) Did I go up to the guy and say, “Excuse me, sir, I’m next in line?” No, you just don’t say that kind of thing nowadays without worrying that you might get shot. Don’t litter, use your turn signal, mute your cell phone, express lane – 10 items only, and I am sure you can think of a lot of other examples where people just don’t think the rules apply to them. So what am I worried about, anarchy? No, but life would be less stressful if everyone followed the rules.


When at a restaurant, is salad the dieter’s friend? The leafy greens and many of the other vegetables you find in salads are low in calories but the salad dressing is not. And most of the low-cal dressings available taste horrible. Many people order the dressing on the side. Then they dump it all over the salad. The little cup may contain more dressing than the chef would have given you in the first place. I have found the best way of dealing with dressing on the side is to dip just the ends of the tines of your fork in the dressing, spear a piece of lettuce and then enjoy. You get a little flavor of the dressing with each bite but don’t end up using all the dressing. For an even lower calorie way of dealing with the salad, dip once, spear twice. This technique works well with tartar sauce, too.

Tomorrow, an amazingly good low calorie dressing recipe!


If you are a crossword puzzle fan, you’ve got to love Will Shortz, crossword editor of the “New York Times” since 1993. Recently I discovered that he is also the puzzlemaster on NPR’s “Weekend Edition Sunday.” Each week he presents a challenge for the audience to solve. One of the correct solvers plays an on-air game as well. I know the show is on at 6:40 AM Mountain time and 7:40 AM Pacific time. Too early for you to be up on a Sunday? The puzzle can also be found on the NPR website –

Here’s a word whose definition is very useful in crosswords due to its vowels.

sniggler -A person who fishes for eels; an eeler



What’s up, or should I say down, with the dollar? Against the Euro, the dollar is trading down almost $ .50 in the past three years. So, this should mean that American goods are flying off the shelves. But are they? What consumables do we produce? Clothing, shoes, small and larger electronics and furniture are all produced overseas where labor is cheaper. Count how many American vs. foreign cars you see on the road. Things that we do well such as finance, health care, distribution and intellectual property are difficult to export. What happens is that Americans buy increasingly more expensive foreign goods adding to a burgeoning trade deficit. The US government borrows money and drives up interest rates. More of our money goes to pay off our credit cards and to service this huge debt. What’s the solution?


Usually, when I go on a diet, it is all or nothing. I’m on it or I’m off. But since it’s the holiday season, the good choices I talked about yesterday are a little more difficult. So, obviously, it must be time to throw up your hands and give up. But the difference between making your best effort and no effort can relate to staying the same weight this week (or maybe even losing a little) and packing on another few pounds. If you have gone off the wagon a little, cut yourself some slack. Ultimately, you’ll get where you need to be and, really, nobody’s giving you style points anyway.


Here’s a word that I came across in my puzzling that sounds like its definition should be, “an agreement between internet users,” but means something totally different.

epact – the difference in days between the solar and lunar years



As if there weren’t enough in the world to worry about, the recent disaster in Asia has caused me to search the webpage of the U.S. Geological Survey ( for information about tsunamis. Ryan and Jon are leaving for Hawaii today, so in addition to worrying about the flight and the road conditions on the way to airport (it’s raining), I have to consider the possibility of tsunamis in Kauai. Fortunately, I recently saw a program about tsunamis on History’s Mysteries and know that there is a warning system in place for all the Pacific Rim countries.


Being on a diet is all about choices. You always have the free will to choose the better food or to skip it altogether. No one is forcing the food down your throat. It is your rational being making the choice for immediate gratification over long term benefit. Stop being a victim and whining about how everyone is undermining your effort! You are only fooling yourself.


When I was a junior in high school, my English teacher, Miss O’Connor, always posted a word for the day. We were called on randomly to give a definition. It didn’t matter whether you knew the word or not; you had to come up with some sort of definition. The next day, you were called on again to give the correct definition. In addition to knowing the Word for the Day, you were also responsible for the definitions of all the words around it. It was a great vocabulary builder.

Miss O’Connor was very memorable. Before Jenny Joseph’s poem, “Warning*,” caused millions of American women to feel they had the right to wear purple, she was wearing it. Plus, she was brutally honest, probably the only teacher I ever had who would have told me, “Mary, sometimes you are less than charming.”
*(for a copy of the poem see

This section of my blog is dedicated to her.

Today’s word comes from “The New York Times Sunday Crosswords,” Vol. 21, edited by Eugene T. Maleska

nyctophobia – an abnormal fear of the night or darkness


This blog, among other things, is to help allay worries that plague me each day. Many of them like to pop up between 2 and 4 am. The idea is, much like burning your wishes and letting the smoke go up to the gods for wish fulfilment, that just the physical act of writing worries down, will help them to dissipate. We’ll see.

In any case, today is not a day for worries. Today is a day for thanking my wonderful family for all the happiness they bring me. Thank you, Ryan for being the best daughter-in-law ever, for making Jon happy and for giving me this blog. Thank you, Jon, for all the hugs from the time you were born until today and for always caring. And thank you Sarah, for being my friend as well as my daughter and trying to keep me out of obssessive mode by making pointed comments when I am too over the top. A special thanks to my wonderful husband, John, the smartest man ever, who has always stuck by me even when the worries took on a life of their own. God, that was maudlin but it needed to be said.

So, in addition to the worries, what will I do with this blog? I’d like to catalogue some of my diet tips. I am embarking on the hundreth or so weight loss attempt, many succussful. Perhaps writing down the wisdom of 35 years of dieting and then rereading it will help my effort. Maybe it will help someone else.

Also, I am quite the crossword puzzle fan. New York Times, primarily. If you’ve ever done one, have you ever thought, “Oh , yeah, I’ll remember that?” And then, of course you don’t. So I am hoping to put in some “words of the day.” I think that a person remembers things in lots of different ways; sometimes by reading something, sometimes by saying it out loud, and sometimes by writing it down. I will be curious to see if this will help me remember some of the arcane things that I come across each day.

I had a very merry Christmas, I hope you did too.