A journey in words...

Welcome to my journey in words! A story about health, exercise, weight loss, food addiction, humor, size discrimination, sarcasm, social commentary and all the rest that’s rattling around inside my head...

I now twit, er... or tweet. Anyway, you can follow me on twitter @Aeon1202

Sunday, April 29, 2012


I have to apologize to the author of this recipe – because I can’t find her.

A few times a week I’ll surf through health, food and exercise related links in search of inspiration.  This past Friday I blundered over this idea for a smoothie weird enough that I wanted to try out, and it was so tasty and so nutrition packed that I want to share it.

Unfortunately, by the time I realized how good it was I’d forgotten where the heck I’d found the video on how to make it – so I admit: this recipe is not my own!

If it looks familiar to anyone please let me know and I’ll happily give credit where it’s due.

Generally I’m not a smoothie person.  Fruit milkshakes don’t really thrill me, they go against my rule about drinking my calories and I’d rather just eat the fruit most of the time.  This one woke me up because the first ingredient is kale, which I know to be a nutritional powerhouse but which I usually wind up leeching a lot of the nutrition out of by boiling it for soup.  The smoothie itself is fresh tasting, tropical, refreshing, and has a kick – I strongly encourage you to try it!

Supergreen Smoothie

Add to blender:
Two thoroughly washed leaves of kale (just the frilly bits).
A generous handful of spinach.
About a cup and a half of frozen mango chunks.
About a cup and a half of frozen pineapple chunks.
The juice of one fresh lime.
A generous splashing of coconut water.
A pinch of cayenne pepper.


Mixing it in my blender isn’t easy, I think I need to get a more smoothie friendly one for the future if I’m going to keep doing this.  It’s really worth all the noise and blender jiggling though, because it’s SO GOOD!

Friday, April 20, 2012

APPEASE the Vacation Gods!

Are you going on vacation this summer, Dear Reader?  If so, I pass my sacred vacation quest along to you.

While journeying through parts warm and water laden, you must find and photograph the elusive coconut monkey.  The photograph must contain yourself and/or a friend or loved one upon whom the monkey has been placed.  Purchasing the monkey and bringing him home will earn you additional karma with the Wannahakkaloogie vacationing tikki gods – but upon arriving back at your home you may not pass on your coconut monkey to another person (especially not to me), or his blessings will go to the receiver instead of staying with you where they rightfully belong.

Should you feel compelled to send a digital copy of your sacred coconut monkey picture along to me, you shall receive fame and notoriety among the ten to twelve people who regularly read this blog as your victorious image is placed in pixels hereupon the interweb pages of the Long Road.

Recently, I vacationed to Myrtle Beach, NC – and in flagrant disobedience to posted signs stating that I should not take pictures inside the shop-of-many-things-you-do-not-need, I had myself photographed holding the elusive monkey.  See below.

Me: victorious
I got bonus points this year for also locating minions
Thusly I brought home my own vacation blessing for the summer – now, are you game?

History:  You’re probably thinking I’m crazy right about now, yeah?  Well, okay – yes I may be a bit crazy but I figured I’d explain where the summer Monkey Quest came from.  Years ago, I was going with my friend Lisa to Key West, FL for a weeklong holiday.  Prior to leaving, our friend Rich commanded us to, “Bring me a coconut monkey.”  At the time, I had no idea what he was talking about, so he amended his request to discovering exactly what the coconut monkey was, then bringing one home with us.  We did in fact figure it out, purchase said beast, and bring it back to Rich – who may or may not still have it in his possession to this day.

Since then, whenever a friend of mine tells me they are going on vacation, I in turn command them to bring me a photograph of the monkey.  I no longer ask for the monkey itself because quite frankly, they were starting to clutter up my house.

As you can see, I got my own picture for this vacation year – so I figured it would be somewhat funny to see if anyone else is actually willing to have themselves photographed with the world’s cheesiest carved coconut vacation trinket so that I can post the resulting images here on the blog.  Yes, this is what I do to entertain myself.  What?  I’m easily amused.

Go FORTH readers!  FIND the monkey!

Last year I had difficulty locating the Monkey and had to settle for the alternate: Coconut Pirate Head
2010 was a good year - Ted found an entire family unit of the Monkey

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

They're Coming To Take Me Away... Haha.

In the morning as I shower I always listen to our local news radio station to hear the weather and traffic and get a general idea of what’s going on in the world.  They also have a physician on staff who gives reports on the medical community, new news, discoveries and things of that sort.

The other morning the good Doctor was reporting on the inaccuracy of the BMI.

The BMI (Body Mass Index) is the commonly used scale that physicians and health insurance companies use to slot us all into the appropriately labeled box.  All of us are classified as either underweight, normal, overweight, obese, morbidly obese or super morbidly obese.  (I always wonder if those last ones get to wear shiny capes or not..?)

The BMI was devised in the 1800’s by a Belgian mathematician and sociologist named Lambert Adolphe Jacques Quetelet who was looking for a way to quantify the variables that effect people’s social interactions.  Basically he created a formula for the math behind the obvious social point that the general public doesn’t really care for fat folk very much.  He was not a medical doctor and in fact was not looking into people’s health at all when he did this work, he was just looking for a way to figure out how successful people would be socially in proportion to their body size.

As everyone knows by now it’s a really simple equation to perform.  You simply take an individual's body weight and divide it by the square of his or her height.  Easy peasy.

Here are the things the BMI does not take into account: percentage of body fat, bone density or muscle density.  What does this mean?  Basically that the BMI is a horrendously inefficient system by which to measure health, and by and large is completely meaningless.  Just to give you an example: professional athletes will almost always show up on the BMI scale as overweight, obese or morbidly obese because muscle is crazy heavy and they have a lot of it.  Body builders in particular skew way wrong on the scale, and although not everyone may like the way a bodybuilder looks they are generally viewed as healthy compared to the couch potato mass that comprises the rest of us.

Still don’t believe me?  Check out this link below.  This lady collected literally hundreds of photos of normal, everyday people who bravely submitted along with their photograph their weight and height so that they could be properly classified on the BMI scale.  Pay particular attention to the ones classified as “overweight” and “obese”, since they quite literally blew my mind.  Almost every single one of them looks like a normal, healthy person to me – but according to the American medical community, all of them should be smaller.

I classify as “morbidly obese” on the scale.  Basically that means that whenever I die, it will probably be much earlier than it could have been because I’m so fat.  I actually don’t argue that point, I know that I need to lose weight to improve my health.  But according to the BMI in order to be “normal” and “healthy” I am going to have to shed about 60-70% of my current body weight.  Realistically, after 30 years of chronic obesity, the only way that’s probably going to happen for me is via extreme measures such as surgery or being completely removed from my normal environment and placed in a weight loss facility.  Since the BMI also fails to take into account the heavy skeletal structure and natural muscle mass gifted to me by my Highland forbearers, toward the end of a weight loss journey dictated by the BMI, I would probably need to start shedding muscle tissue into order to claw myself into the weight classification defined by the AMA as “healthy” for my height.

See the problem?  I’m dense.  (Go head, laugh.  I’ll wait.)  No matter how much weight I lose, I will always be built dense.  I will always have calves that feel like rocks and shoulders like a load bearing pack animal.

So back to my morning shower… as I said, the Doc on news radio was in fact mentioning this morning about how it’s becoming acknowledged more and more in the medical community that the BMI just doesn’t work as a good scale by which to measure public health, and that new tests are being developed.  This, as you may suspect, made me very happy.

He then stressed the point that in fact, what the BMI is failing to calculate the most is how extremely fat we all really are.  It’s been going too easy on us all these years, we’re even FATTER than first suspected!  He ended his report by stressing how important it is that more help be given to fat people to fight this growing (haha) American epidemic.

I’m all for help, but to be honest I’ve started looking over my shoulder a bit and wondering just when exactly the government run task force is going to show up at my front door to cart me off to fat prison, with a release date determined by my eventual adherence to proper human size regulations.  What?  I’m obviously a threat to the public health.  It could happen.

Look… all I ask is that if you’re one of the majority of people who fall into either the “overweight” or “obese” categories on the BMI scale, please don’t beat yourself up.  Please don’t even give it a second thought.  That scale is outdated, overestimated, and has been an inefficient system by which to measure actual health since the day it was created.  Hopefully soon, the medical community will officially catch up to that fact instead of just hinting about it in five minute blurbs on morning radio programs.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Theme Parties

In addition to cooking, I enjoy vintage clothing. I happily include vintage pieces in my everyday wardrobe so you can imagine how much I love costume event such as a vintage themed party. It's a fabulous way to merge two of my favorite things, cooking and costuming.

Yesterday was the 100th anniversary of the Titanic sinking. One of the style bloggers I follow threw a Titanic Tea, a party where everyone dressed in the styles of the Edwardian period. The pictures are pretty. And it turns out, a friend of mine in Philadelphia attended a Titanic themed party last night. He spilled port on his tail coat.

These sound like they were very pretty events, and the costuming aspect is very appealing to me. But I'm a little sickened at the thought of throwing a happy, fun, and drunken bash to commemorate the terrifying and tragic deaths of 1500 or so people. It's too ugly for me. I'd far rather attend a general Edwardian tea in the late summer. Or maybe I'm too tenderhearted.

I have a themed party on my mind that's based much more on the ridiculous. Lately I've been on a Mad Men kick. The styles of the late 50s and early 60s can be very cool and it works with a vintage cookbook I bought a while ago. Check this out.

That, my friends, is a cookbook published in 1960 by Knox Gelatine, Inc. A Completely New Guide to Gel-Cookery. There are gel recipes for salads, main dishes, desserts, and drinks. It's amazing.

Imagine a (small) table with a glistening, jiggling, spread of gel-molds. Yes, it too is a little sickening, but it's in a fun and ridiculous way! Now, imagine dressing in your Mad Men, 1960s finest, listening to Miles Davis and sipping a bourbon cocktail. Bourbon makes everything happier, even gel-molds. Trust me.

Now if I can only work out how to make some of these gel recipes using agar agar. I have too many cool vegetarian guests to invite.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Ashley Judd

I have to admit that I know very little in general about this actress, other than having liked her in The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood, which I admit I both watched and enjoyed.

I came across this article by her on an internet forum that I belong to and was absolutely gobsmacked - so I am simply re-posting it here in it's entirety in the hopes that as many people as possible read it, and hopefully benefit from it the way that I did.


The Conversation about women’s bodies exists largely outside of us, while it is also directed at (and marketed to) us, and used to define and control us. The Conversation about women happens everywhere, publicly and privately. We are described and detailed, our faces and bodies analyzed and picked apart, our worth ascertained and ascribed based on the reduction of personhood to simple physical objectification. Our voices, our personhood, our potential, and our accomplishments are regularly minimized and muted.

Photo by: Richard Drew

As an actor and woman who, at times, avails herself of the media, I am painfully aware of the conversation about women’s bodies, and it frequently migrates to my own body. I know this, even though my personal practice is to ignore what is written about me. I do not, for example, read interviews I do with news outlets. I hold that it is none of my business what people think of me. I arrived at this belief after first, when I began working as an actor 18 years ago, reading everything. I evolved into selecting only the “good” pieces to read. Over time, I matured into the understanding that good and bad are equally fanciful interpretations. I do not want to give my power, my self-esteem, or my autonomy, to any person, place, or thing outside myself. I thus abstain from all media about myself. The only thing that matters is how I feel about myself, my personal integrity, and my relationship with my Creator. Of course, it’s wonderful to be held in esteem and fond regard by family, friends, and community, but a central part of my spiritual practice is letting go of otheration. And casting one’s lot with the public is dangerous and self-destructive, and I value myself too much to do that.

However, the recent speculation and accusations in March feel different, and my colleagues and friends encouraged me to know what was being said. Consequently, I choose to address it because the conversation was pointedly nasty, gendered, and misogynistic and embodies what all girls and women in our culture, to a greater or lesser degree, endure every day, in ways both outrageous and subtle. The assault on our body image, the hypersexualization of girls and women and subsequent degradation of our sexuality as we walk through the decades, and the general incessant objectification is what this conversation allegedly about my face is really about.
A brief analysis demonstrates that the following “conclusions” were all made on the exact same day, March 20, about the exact same woman (me), looking the exact same way, based on the exact same television appearance. The following examples are real, and come from a variety of (so-called!) legitimate news outlets (such as HuffPo, MSNBC, etc.), tabloid press, and social media:

One: When I am sick for more than a month and on medication (multiple rounds of steroids), the accusation is that because my face looks puffy, I have “clearly had work done,” with otherwise credible reporters with great bravo “identifying” precisely the procedures I allegedly have had done.

Two: When my skin is nearly flawless, and at age 43, I do not yet have visible wrinkles that can be seen on television, I have had “work done,” with media outlets bolstered by consulting with plastic surgeons I have never met who “conclude” what procedures I have “clearly” had. (Notice that this is a “back-handed compliment,” too—I look so good! It simply cannot possibly be real!)

Three: When my 2012 face looks different than it did when I filmed Double Jeopardy in 1998, I am accused of having “messed up” my face (polite language here, the F word is being used more often), with a passionate lament that “Ashley has lost her familiar beauty audiences loved her for.”

Four: When I have gained weight, going from my usual size two/four to a six/eight after a lazy six months of not exercising, and that weight gain shows in my face and arms, I am a “cow” and a “pig” and I “better watch out” because my husband “is looking for his second wife.” (Did you catch how this one engenders competition and fear between women? How it also suggests that my husband values me based only on my physical appearance? Classic sexism. We won’t even address how extraordinary it is that a size eight would be heckled as “fat.”)

Five: In perhaps the coup de grace, when I am acting in a dramatic scene in Missing—the plot stating I am emotionally distressed and have been awake and on the run for days—viewers remarks ranged from “What the f--k did she do to her face?” to cautionary gloating, “Ladies, look at the work!” Footage from “Missing” obviously dates prior to March, and the remarks about how I look while playing a character powerfully illustrate the contagious and vicious nature of the conversation. The accusations and lies, introduced to the public, now apply to me as a woman across space and time; to me as any woman and to me as every woman.

That women are joining in the ongoing disassembling of my appearance is salient. Patriarchy is not men. Patriarchy is a system in which both women and men participate. It privileges, inter alia, the interests of boys and men over the bodily integrity, autonomy, and dignity of girls and women. It is subtle, insidious, and never more dangerous than when women passionately deny that they themselves are engaging in it. This abnormal obsession with women’s faces and bodies has become so normal that we (I include myself at times—I absolutely fall for it still) have internalized patriarchy almost seamlessly. We are unable at times to identify ourselves as our own denigrating abusers, or as abusing other girls and women.

A case in point is that this conversation was initially promulgated largely by women; a sad and disturbing fact. (That they are professional friends of mine, and know my character and values, is an additional betrayal.)
News outlets with whom I do serious work, such as publishing op-eds about preventing HIV, empowering poor youth worldwide, and conflict mineral mining in Democratic Republic of Congo, all ran this “story” without checking with my office first for verification, or offering me the dignity of the opportunity to comment. It’s an indictment of them that they would even consider the content printable, and that they, too, without using time-honored journalistic standards, would perpetuate with un-edifying delight such blatantly gendered, ageist, and mean-spirited content.

I hope the sharing of my thoughts can generate a new conversation: Why was a puffy face cause for such a conversation in the first place? How, and why, did people participate? If not in the conversation about me, in parallel ones about women in your sphere? What is the gloating about? What is the condemnation about? What is the self-righteous alleged “all knowing” stance of the media about? How does this symbolize constraints on girls and women, and encroach on our right to be simply as we are, at any given moment? How can we as individuals in our private lives make adjustments that support us in shedding unconscious actions, internalized beliefs, and fears about our worthiness, that perpetuate such meanness? What can we do as families, as groups of friends? Is what girls and women can do different from what boys and men can do? What does this have to do with how women are treated in the workplace?

I ask especially how we can leverage strong female-to-female alliances to confront and change that there is no winning here as women. It doesn’t actually matter if we are aging naturally, or resorting to surgical assistance. We experience brutal criticism. The dialogue is constructed so that our bodies are a source of speculation, ridicule, and invalidation, as if they belong to others—and in my case, to the actual public. (I am also aware that inevitably some will comment that because I am a creative person, I have abdicated my right to a distinction between my public and private selves, an additional, albeit related, track of highly distorted thinking that will have to be addressed at another time).

If this conversation about me is going to be had, I will do my part to insist that it is a feminist one, because it has been misogynistic from the start. Who makes the fantastic leap from being sick, or gaining some weight over the winter, to a conclusion of plastic surgery? Our culture, that’s who. The insanity has to stop, because as focused on me as it appears to have been, it is about all girls and women. In fact, it’s about boys and men, too, who are equally objectified and ridiculed, according to heteronormative definitions of masculinity that deny the full and dynamic range of their personhood. It affects each and every one of us, in multiple and nefarious ways: our self-image, how we show up in our relationships and at work, our sense of our worth, value, and potential as human beings. Join in—and help change—the Conversation.

-Ashley Judd
April 9th, 2012