Here in Walla Walla, as in many places, severe winter weather persists. At last the daily high is above the teens, a balmy 23 F as I write. Yes, we still have “wintry mix” issues with ice making a slick crust on top of the snow, but I plan to venture out today for the first time in a week, primarily to beat back the rising tide of substitutes.

Like substitute teachers? I hope we don’t get that mean old lady with white hair and sweater dresses.

Not exactly, 9. I’m talking about substitutes for my usual types of food and exercise.

That makes me think of Weight Watchers. Mashed turnips with imitation butter flavoring is no substitute for mashed potatoes!

Agreed, Lily, and that’s the first of today’s blog.

If you are familiar with World War II history in Great Britain you have probably heard of the inventive and often gruesome-sounding “mock” recipes with abundant ingredients substituted for ones in short supply. For example, root vegetables were substituted for meat, as was paraffin for butter. If you’d enjoy a comic deep dive into this topic I highly recommend the BBC series The Supersizers:…

Here, we are not quite to that point. I am ready, though, in the event that my grocery run today is short-circuited by weather. For example, if the 2% runs dry I have this:

Substitute for 2%: dried nonfat milk

Though I far prefer fresh fruits and vegetables, I’m well-stocked with frozen berries, peas, corn and beans. When and if those run out I can resort to my stash of emergency supplies, represented here:

Fresh produce substitutes: in cans

Exercise substitutes are readily available. I’ve missed the Y for an entire week and my body craves a long swim and a session in the weight room. However, I have an online, on demand yoga course to draw on, ditto for DailyOm’s “Belly Dancing Goddess Workout” (fabulous for the obliques!) and the good old Nordic Track.

Substitute: the ancient and venerable Nordic Track in its stall

That looks like torture!

In reality, 9, it’s a decent substitute for our thrice-weekly walks, and it pushes my heart rate into the peak performance zone more than any other form of exercise.

How do you know that?

Good question, Lily. The FitBit is my monitor. Thanks to the FitBit I realized something else this past week. On a regular good weather day (highs in the 30s and 40s and no ice) I generally top 10,000 steps per day. This week, housebound, one day I barely broke 3,000! Yesterday I found myself doing that thing that other FitBit users have described but I have never succumbed to: meaningless walking around the house to reach the 10,000 step goal. If the snow and ice last much longer I may wear out the carpet with these treks.

Substitute: FitBit says I’d better get moving!

And, pending today’s expedition into the outer world:

Substitute: Clearing snow = great cardio!

This cold spell has made me appreciate more than ever how fortunate I am. I have food, shelter, exercise, work and companionship (thanks to Lily, 9, Hoosegow, email, Facebook, Chat and FaceTime), and plenty to read (library and personal books, and I finally caught up on three back issues of The New Yorker). I’m up to Season 1, Episode 7 of Around the World in 80 Days (David Tennant version) and started watching the Masterpiece serialization of the late, great Hilary Mantel’s trilogy Wolf Hall.

Today is the day the extreme cold starts to ease. With luck, we can get back to regular life early next week.

If you, too, have been in the midst of winter’s grip give yourself a pat on the back for working it through. Here in Walla Walla, tomorrow promises 2 minutes, 7 seconds more daylight than today. Time to thumb through the lushly photographed seed catalogs and dream of spring.



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