New Isn’t Always Better

Speaking of close shaves, I have been doing a lot of reading lately about a quintessentially masculine experience, shaving one’s face. Of course, being married and having three daughters I know that shaving in and of itself is not the sole province of men but, in general, shaving one’s beard is. I also know that not all men shave their beards so, if you fall into that camp, feel free to skip the rest of the post, read on with curiosity about those of us who do (most of the time), or read on and become a convert to the clean-shaven.

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Eating & Mindlessness

I’m a good cook, and I don’t care who knows it. Problem is, I’m not a good eater. Oh, it isn’t that I don’t eat what I cook (never trust a skinny chef, they say), and I certainly know how to eat. That’s the problem. If you read my posts tagged with “food” or “health” or “wellness” you’ll see how much of a struggle it is. You’ll also see how little real discipline and effort I’ve put into it. I mean, let’s be honest. Keeping a food journal seems to work for a while, but only for a while.

So it was months ago that I ran across a story in the New York Times (sorry if you’ve used up your free articles for the month… try next month) about mindful eating, not so much about dieting as about being more aware of what we eat and why, about putting food in proper perspective. Then, about a month ago I came across another story about binge eating among men and the “Fat Dad” NY Times blog bosts. My situation isn’t as dire, but there’s no denying that those extra pounds contribute to a range of undesirable outcomes, and I am about as far from being a mindful eater as you might care to imagine. And then I suppose there’s something to be said for the first step in any recovery program, recognizing that you have a problem.

Scent of a Man

I’m not one of those, you know those perfumed men? I’m not passing judgment – if you’re one of those, that’s fine – but you have to be careful not to cross the fine line into cologne-dipped jackass-dom. Anyway, though I’m not a regular cologne wearer I do like a nice aftershave lotion and I get tired of the same old thing all the time.

Before I go too far let me just say I am also not the kind of guy to spend a lot of money on things like aftershave. This, I realize, may be part of the problem, but it’s also not likely to change. Perfume for my wife as a special gift, fine, but not for me. If I splurge on me it’ll more likely be motorcycle tires, or a new sauté pan, or something else manly like that.

When I first started shaving I was all about Old Spice or something similar, sometimes from Avon when my mom was into that. I’ve gone through my Skin Bracer phase, my Aqua Velva phase, and a Brut phase. I found something at Bath & Body Works a couple of years ago – Woodland – which, of course, has since been discontinued.

Doing some last minute HBA shopping with our eldest before she returned to school, I came across Pinaud Lilac Vegetal. Cool bottle, not expensive, something different. Yes, different indeed. Too bad they didn’t have a sampler, or that I didn’t read the online reviews on first. Of course I could have listened to my daughter, too, who was skeptical about the whole lilac thing.

Not wanting to be put off I tried it after a nice shave one morning recently. It was like putting lilac-scented eau de first-thing-in-the-morning on my face. Plecch. The rest of it went down the drain in the bathroom sink where I trust it will feel right at home in its final resting place.

But just what is it men want to smell like? I’ve been looking around, and still haven’t come up with an answer, at least not one I’m willing to spend money on. I’ve given Pinaud another chance, this time with its Clubman aftershave. If that doesn’t work out I guess I’ll have to stick with the old faithfuls in the grocery store shaving aisle.

Over the Lips….


Please don’t call Mr. Leibowitz and tell him I should have flunked algebra in eighth grade. This is my formula for the next fifteen fourteen weeks. Our wellness committee at work has launched its version of “Biggest Loser,” just in time for the post-holiday guilt fast in which many of us are now engaged. I was going to do this anyway, but if there might be an actual prize, then I might try harder. Which is the point, after all.

I have spoken many times on this blog about my fondness for food. Much more the gourmand (gourmoo?) than gourmet, I don’t shy away from much and have little in the way of will power. Portion control in a world of double this and triple that extra value meals is a constant battle. As inaccurate as they may be I have to rely on the nutrition facts panels and a daily running calorie count of everything I eat in my little black notebook (and you thought that was for something else!).

Now if you’ll pardon me I have to go find my hiking boots or, if we finally get some snow, my cross country skis and work on the output side of the equation.

Digging Out

No. Sorry. Still no snow. Not to tempt the wrath of the whatever from high atop the thing, but here it is early January in Maine and there’s no snow on the ground, at least not at this end of the state. It never fails. Every time I want to get the cross country skis out it doesn’t snow. I think it’s out of spite.

Anyway. Just because there’s no snow doesn’t mean there isn’t digging out that needs to be done. Digging out? Digging out from what? Why, the mountains of food left behind by the holidays, of course. Cookies, chocolate, other assorted candies, spiced nuts, crackers, cheese….. I swear it’s right out of the scene with the Ghost of Christmas Present in Scrooge’s sitting room.

Really it’s not all that bad, but as so many people do at this time of year I have resolved to eat more healthfully and sensibly. I won’t call it dieting but, hey, if that’s the effect it has, so be it. Besides, the wellness committee at work has started its own version of “Biggest Loser.” Naturally, I signed up.

Now if we could only get enough snow to make use of those skis.

Another Outing

This last Saturday we were back at Bradbury Mountain State Park (BMSP), this time all five of us. If anyone (hello? anyone?) has been reading my blog for any length of time, they’d know I have a hard time both a.) taking vacation and b.) dealing with indecision. A few days in advance I made it known that I wanted to take a hike on Saturday and left a book and a few maps out for others to peruse. Since it is almost impossible for us to get out of the house before 10:00 a.m. on a weekend morning I suggested BMSP as a destination we might all enjoy.

Instead of almost 21, 19, and 16 1/2, you’d think our girls were ten years younger (and in some ways, I wish they were). “Are we there yet?” “This is a long ride.” “Are you sure you know the way?” Seriously, and it’s only forty-five minutes from where we live. But once we got there, sunscreen and bug lotion liberally applied, we were on our way up the Northern Loop and Boundary trails to the modest summit. An hour up, half an hour there, and an hour down (at a fairly leisurely pace), I’m glad we went. How many more times will the five of us get to do things like this? At some point, I know, all five of us won’t be together or, if we are, there will be others with us (and I look forward to that, too, in a different way), and it won’t be the same.

But for this Saturday, it was just us.

Big Bald Peak

Having whetted our appetites with the pleasant walk up Bradbury Mountain the other day, our middle daughter and I were looking for another hiking experience on Father’s Day, something a little more challenging. We found it.

Pleasant Mountain isn’t a long drive from where we are, but it’s interesting to note the change in decorative motifs. In about an hour you go from coastal/nautical, to country, to alpine. Since Pleasant Mountain is home to the Shawnee Peak ski area and not much more than a stone’s throw from Conway, New Hampshire and the White Mountains it doesn’t take long for old buoys as wall decor to give way to skis crossed on the gable ends of a faux Swiss chalet.

The point of our trip wasn’t to study people’s choices in decor, but to explore the landscape. It’s easy to overlook places like Pleasant Mountain because they’re so close to home. Even though I had never really been there I thought, “Oh, it’s only Pleasant Mountain. How exciting could that be?” The answer is, pretty exciting.

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