Friday, 5 June 2009

Confession Friday

I toyed with the idea of calling this post "Me and My Shadow," because it was seeing my silhouette that started it all.

Usually, England's sky is thick with cloud, but this week it has been gloriously sunny. The other evening, Sigmund and I were taking a post-prandial stroll and I couldn't help but notice our shadows holding hands. Unfortunately, it was a moment of horror for me.

There was no denying it: I have become distinctly pear-shaped.

(Was it turning 40 that did it? Ok, I'm 42 if you want precision in these matters. Was it moving to England, where the pear shape is the womanly norm? Was it the bad weather? Was it the cake baking? Was it blogging that did this thing to me?)

Perhaps I've always had a tendency towards the pear, with a small waist and speed-skater thighs, but it is definitely getting worse. With the pull of gravity and age, my bits are all starting to pool towards the bottom.

So, here's the rub (and I'm not just talking about my thighs):

On our last anniversary, Sigmund gave me this card. I suppose that the sentiment is nice, (and quite apt in our case), but all I could see was the bottom on that woman. Was this my husband's way of telling me that my derriere is getting large?

Here is part of my confession: I have never, NEVER, asked my husband if I look/looked fat. I have never discussed my weight with him. I have never uttered those cliched words: Does my bum look big in this?

Unfortunately, (for the sake of my vanity), I have an exceptionally thin husband. He has slim hips and a tiny, tiny bum. If you see his shadow, you might think "carrot" -- but with no feathery bits at the top. He is also very honest, and wouldn't bother to spare my feelings. Don't ask, if you don't want an honest answer. Even if he didn't actually say anything too horrible, the smirk would give it all away.

Here is another part of my confession: I have only been on a diet once. When I was 15, and already perfectly slim, I decided that I needed to lose a few pounds. I went on a diet that I found in a teen magazine, and the main thing that I remember about it was that I ate an orange for breakfast every day. Then, I played tennis for several hours and swam. Not surprisingly, I lost weight. I also became a little bit crazy. I distinctly remember my mother trying to get me to eat a hard-boiled egg and a piece of whole wheat toast before a tennis tournament, and I remember having a teenage, full-scale, drama queen melt-down because I could only eat the orange. I became a little bit afraid of food, and yet I was in thrall to it. At 15, I discovered that diets make you think about food all the time.

I firmly believe that our mothers influence our attitude towards food and that there is nothing we can do about it. My grandmother had a weight problem, and thus my mother was and is determined to stay thin. When I was a child, I can remember her making us wonderful meals and just having a Sustacal shake herself. Although she eats healthily now, she doesn't eat much and she works out every day. I wouldn't say she exactly deprives herself, but she doesn't indulge herself either.

Ever since my unfortunate dieting experience, I have been determined to enjoy my food. In fact, I am famous (at least among my friends) for it. There are no "bad" foods in my language; there are no self-imposed restrictions. I have always liked to exercise, and I kind of thought this would help me get away with eating cookies on a daily basis.

For most of my adult life, I have been the same size -- give or take 5 pounds. It's a completely "normal" size: an American 8/British 12. I've never been thin, exactly, but I'm not fat either. But the extra five pounds are starting to look permanent and, oh dear, my butt . . . it's getting bigger, and I'm not happy about it.

I was walking with a willowy friend of mine this week and I asked her what she ate every day -- not because I am going on a diet or anything, but I'm starting to realize that I'm going to have to cut back. Here is my friend's average daily intake: No breakfast; soup for lunch (no bread or crackers); no snacks except for fruit; chicken or fish and salad for dinner. She slightly relaxes this punitive diet on the weekends. When she goes out, she likes a glass of champagne.

I went to her for advice, but all I could think was Noooooo way.

And yet: We are going on a biking trip in 6 weeks and I am going to have to wear hideous black lycra shorts. To add insult to injury, they have padding on the bottom.

This week I have walked at least 12 miles and exerted myself for three body pump classes. I have consumed nothing that could be described as "confectionary." Extreme measures are required.

Years ago I taught myself to eat when I was hungry, and for the most part, that is what I do; unfortunately, I may have to start teaching myself to learn to live with occasional hunger pangs.

Tomorrow is the annual Sports Day, but I won't be making any cookies.

I love to eat, but I really don't want my theme song to become Baby Got Back.

To paraphrase Sir Mix-A-Lot: I've got a big butt and I cannot lie . . .


blackbird said...

I say 'enjoy yourself'. Bodies do change as you age and it seems easier to gain weight. The solution to that is to keep moving and eat a balanced diet. And breakfast. Treat yourself and your family to your delicious baked goods. Drink lots of water and watch the empty calories of alcohol.

Your husband, obviously, loves all of you the way you are. I don't know what you can do about the lycra shorts but they don't look good on most people. And laugh back at your shadow- you don't worry when your shadow is a tall as a house- do you?

ArtSparker said...

I don't want to get ranty, but...healthy bones and muscles are the most important thing, and exercise is way more important than maintaining a specific weight for this. I see ladies in their 70s and 80s who obviously weigh what they weighed in High School, and you could probably snap their arms in two. Eating healthy, yes, but the whole dieting/skinny thing is something that has been sold to the public and made a few people very rich. For the record,I'm also a size eight. Fight the power(heh, just thought I;d throw that in)!

Beth said...

What a delightful, humorous (and reality based!) post. You have me both nodding in agreement and laughing!
We either bow to time with grace (our boobs & butt certainly do but not so gracefully), fight it or come to a compromise - as in, all things in moderation. And that includes exercise!

(Have a cookie – you’ve earned one with this post…)

Lover of Life said...

I think all my blogging has been terrible for my apple shape. I'm appalled, actually. Now walking twice per day and going the no goodie route. My daughter, the consumate healthy eater said to take 2tsp raw, unfiltered, unpasteurized vinegar with a glass of water at each meal. It's supposed to help with weight loss, as well as, digestive issues. We'll see - started that this morning.

Good luck!

linda said...

oh bee, I laughed myself off my chair-quite literally-this morning, reading this! as you might imagine, I am indeed grateful for your wonderfully humorous take on weight issues....and that card was so perfect, so hilarious, it is just exactly the way it "feels" to have a thin, perfect man-not quite that tan as mine is scandinavian- and know, as you stand there beside him, you don't look quite so perky as he....oh well, dear bee, I say bake those cookies, wear that black lycra with your head held high...we women stick together, big butts and all, so know I am there with you through "thick and thin" and don't want to see you deprive yourself of one little thing, even if it's a cupcake piled high with coconut cream cheese frosting..

La Belette Rouge said...

I, like Cezanne, think pears are beautiful. I am hard on myself and my body and I often dream of liposuction that would turn this pear into something more carrot like. But, when I saw that image of the card all I thought was "lovely". When I read the spartan diet of your friend and the thinness of that kind of eating I felt a sadness for that kind of, what seems to me, a joyless and rigid approach to food( that is how it would feel to me).
You have given me a gift today. I feel more forgiving and accepting of my pearness and the richness of the choices I give myself when it comes to food.
What a lovely post, Bee. Thank you.

Sarah Laurence said...

Bee, this post makes me sad, amused and grateful for your honesty. So many women feel this way, and you express it so well. Women are by nature designed to be pear shaped for child bearing, and it’s much healthier to carry extra weight on your butt and thighs than on your torso as men often do.

Like you, I don’t diet but got a little weird about food in high school, substituting an ice cream for lunch and counting calories. Some people are naturally willowy, but your friend does not sound like a healthy eater. Skipping breakfast? This is not good. I’m very concerned about eating disorders as they seem to plague teenaged girls these days.

Still, being overweight is unhealthy so it’s best to get regular exercise and eat a healthy diet. From what I saw of you last year, you have nothing to worry about. Honest. You are a beautiful woman both inside and out – and funny too!

I had to change my diet for health reasons. I’m hypoglycemic which means I’m very sensitive to blood sugar and I used to faint. My doctor recommended eating more protein and frequently. I usually have 2 breakfasts (whole grain cereal for one and then boiled egg and whole grain toast), lunch, a snack (yogurt, nuts, cheese or fruit) and dinner. I also exercise every day but nothing excessive. My husband had to cut down on salts, fat and red meat due to his heart. As a result we eat a very healthy diet and still have ice cream regularly in the summer.

It wasn’t a diet, but a permanent change in eating habits, and it toned me down as a byproduct, but I’ll always have a butt. The goal should be eating well and staying healthy, not looking a certain way.

CashmereLibrarian said...

Oh, Bee. I personally obsess about food/being thin way too much and at some point I'm going to need to acknowledge that I can't win this war.

But not yet. (I'm 43.)

Anyway, it's frustrating that watching what one eats + exercise = not much difference! (At least in my case--especially since deprival, as you noted, just makes me think about food ALL THE TIME.) Grr.

julochka said...

your confession is so much deeper than mine. and i feel for you. because so much of this is true for me as well and i just realized how bad it was getting when i had a bit of trouble buttoning some jeans i hadn't worn in awhile. the worst for me would be giving up wine. :-( i can give up cakes and chocolate and frankly bread and we cook quite healthy around here already, but it is so depressing to think about it.

bravo to you for getting lots of exercise and starting to do something about it this week. i need to do that too. of course, after nor-shipping, because there will be no time (that's my whole problem, always an excuse). :-)

i'm sure you're lovely, so don't be too hard on yourself.


Bee said...

Blackbird - Oh, I do enjoy myself! (That's my problem.) I do eat very well and exercise and all of that . . . but I'm just saying that I may not be able to eat my cake unless I want to "have" it, too.

ArtSparker - I know! I know! I get ranty, too, and have lectured all of my friends who won't just ENJOY and let go a little bit. I've lectured about dangerous narcissism for years. But I'm realizing that if I don't want my body to change, I'm going to have to eat a bit less.

Beth - Maybe if I eat the cookie at breakfast? :)

Lover of Life - Tell me if the vinegar helps! And thanks for the empathy . . .

Linda - And he just gets skinnier with age! Thanks for laughing with me (because truly I was); although I really am "body pumping" as well.

La Belette Rouge - The tyranny of my friend's perpetual diet IS terribly sad. I could never live with such self-denial. I will try to embrace my "pear," but I want it to be a firm pear . . . not a mushy pear. Think Cezanne!

Sarah - You know, I'm hypoglycemic too and have to eat quite often to keep my blood sugar up. I would NEVER skip breakfast (or any other meal). I think we have a healthy diet, but I may need to rethink my obsession with baking. Sadly. Sigh.

Cashmere Librarian - It is a bit depressing to realize that you can never just stop fighting the good fight. But what is the alternative?

Julochka - I'm really not being hard on myself; I'm acknowledging a fact. I've always had a J.Lo booty and it is getting bigger! I just want to keep it in check and work on my "personal growth" in other areas. BTW, even taking out the bit about being over 40, I've always noticed that I weigh more in England than I do in Texas. Red wine and comfort food, honey.

Elizabeth said...

What a very sensitive topic!
We are what we eat ....or something
That is why I am so very, very sweet........all those carbs.

R. is thin (of course.....)

being anorexic and waiflike is all very well when you are 16
but unseemly later on

I think the less you think about it, the more likely you are to be about the right size
but what do I know who used to obsess about it a lot.
ps I am rather Mum-shaped right

Cait O'Connor said...

Well as long as you are not obese/very overweight and you eat a balanced diet and get plenty of exercise then I think it is OK if you are pear shaped. I am one of those possibly annoying folk who only ever eats when hungry and stops when full. I used to be very thin as a child and I ate like a horse then. Now I put on weight round the middle if I don't exercise. We are all different I guess. Some of us eat to live and others live to eat. I wouldn't wear lycra though!

Delwyn said...

Hi Bee,

You know that I am a walker, and I would recommend plenty of it especially up and down stairs for bone density. Even though I attend four gym classes a week (2 pump and 2 body balance) and walk every day my bone density is below average... I am tall and thin and this body type is more prone to low BD.
This is what we need to be worried about, more so than our heavier butts...If mine keeps deteriorating at the same rate by 65 I could be breaking bones. I recommend all women have a density test before they are 50 to ascertain where they lie on the scale and begin to make changes.

At 56 I am going to struggle to see big changes, but I am hoping...
Exercise and health are more important than a few pounds on the butt, but the two tie in together.
Pump is good for the butt - all that butt clenching with the squats...and lunges - I noticed a big difference - so did Beloved ...

Happy Days

Fantastic Forrest said...

My darling Bee, you and I suffer from the same horrible affliction: string bean husbanditis. I have long contended that Professor X made a Dorian Grey-like deal with the Devil; he can eat anything in large quantities and I am the one who gains the weight. I can tell you that if he gave me an anniversary card like that, he'd be meeting up with the Devil shortly thereafter. I am capable of murder in certain circumstances.

Hope is on the way. Check out my post from yesterday about Club Hasay. A good way to motivate ourselves. And your commenters all have some darned good advice.

Oh - and there are some good baking recipes that cut the fat and sugar in clever ways.

A Thousand Clapping Hands said...

I'm walking and dieting too now. Not used to it, but time and a winter with a couple of broken bones has caught up with me. Fortunately, because of dancing I can be my own personal trainer. Balanced and healthy is what I do -very little carbs, no refined sugar, fresh fruit, lean protein, and small meals throughout the day. But exercise is key for me. Exhaustive exercise to burn the fat. More muscle - more burning power. And I write down everything I eat. What a bore! No really, it works for me.

I ran right out and picked up a copy of 'Strapless' and I am going to spend the weekend with it. Thanks so much. I got the letter at an antique mall in Texas.
Happy weekend, Bee!

rxBambi said...

I think everything I was going to say has already been said, so I'm just going to reiterate the ones I think are important.
Eat breakfast. It jumpstarts the metabolism. Make sure you get enough of the good calories and go easy on the bad ones (ok, totally easier said than done as I need to lose about 15 pounds before the end of next month). And get cardio and strength training. Anything else is just time taking it's toll on us and well do you want to spend your last day on earth wishing your butt were smaller or actually enjoying your life for all its good things?
I'm sure you look beautiful too...

vicki archer said...

I hear just gets so much harder to keep the weight off. I think it is not only age but because we know about the finer things in life...good food and wine. Good luck, xv.

Bee said...

Elizabeth - Not giving the subject too much "weight" has always been my modus operandi, but now I find that I'm a bit of a hypocrite . . . because I really don't want to get any bigger.

Cait - About the lycra: apparently, if you are going to be on a bike all day, the lycra padded shorts are a necessity.

Delwyn - You know, I've always been a walker . . . but last year I did a marathon, and now my usual amount of walking doesn't seem to be working for me anymore. My mom has to worry about bone density, too. It is probably a very good thing to add these body pump classes.

FF - string bean husbanditis is indeed an affliction!(I really don't want to be Jack Sprat and his wife!) Our family is skinny on both sides . . . grrrr . . . but some of them work at it quite hard.

Catherine - I'm so glad that I could give you a book recommendation! I think that you will enjoy Strapless. Your diet sounds like what I'm doing -- plus that blast of exercise!

rxBambi - I would never want to totally in thrall to the pursuit of a better body. All I'm saying is: As you get older, more stringent measures are required. (At least in my case.)

Vicki - Wine has been the downfall of many a middle-aged woman (and man)!

♥ Braja said...

Hell, a few pounds? You gotta take it in and take it on; you're not gonna be 20 ever again, and the body DOES change, especially for the likes of you and me and the others who have been a 12 (UK) always...not thin, not big, not worried, can eat anything. I'm 45 and at 42 it hit my arse and stayed, and I'm happy with it. If I feel uncomfortable, I'll do something about it, but I'm acknowledging that the body must change in time and that's all there is to, bring on the sponge cake :))0

Dick said...

As a guy, I'm not going to risk any rash utterances here. Abundant common sense is evident in the comments so I shall confine myself to saying that I enjoyed reading your 'cri de coeur' (or should that be 'cri de cul'?) for its humour and wry perception.

B said...

This is such an honest post! I also tried all sorts of diets when I was slim at 15 and had all sorts of drama queen moments. I've learnt that I rather be a bit less thin and enjoy my food. Like you, I try to be careful, but could never go on the kind of diet your friend has. It's just not worth it! By all means, cut back on certain things, and exercise (that's my weak point), but don't worry too much. And don't look at your shadow! :)

Reya Mellicker said...

If we could gather up the energy that goes into angst over weight and size and put it in a generator somewhere, we would no longer have energy shortages anywhere on earth.

Part of aging includes changes in body shape. Some women get thicker in the middle (Meryl Streep is a great example), others plump up everywhere (Diane Wiest), some become more buxom and some get bigger bums.

Nothing looks more shriveled to me than an unnaturally thin middle aged woman. Diane Keaton would look so much better with just a few more pounds on her.

I've never been thin. I don't think of myself as fat as long as I don't have to shop in the "plus woman" section of the store. I eat well and enjoy my food.

The idea of moving into old age half starved makes me so sad. I hope you'll continue to savor your delicious meals and long walks and try not to think so much about size. Please?

--end lecture--

Bee said...

Braja - Doesn't your yoga practice keep you lithe, though? I've been doing some yoga positions in my body pump class and they are DARN HARD.

Dick - I appreciate a "guy" weighing in on the debate (or at least mentioning my writing in a positive fashion!). It's definitely fair to say that men don't fret about this kind of thing nearly as much.

B - You know, we don't have a full-length mirror in our house . . . so perhaps not "seeing" it IS the answer. (Kidding, though. Unfortunately.)

Reya - I know; I know. I really do know and I do agree. Believe me, I'm not talking about living a starved, joyless existence. But I tend towards self-indulgence and I can't really get away with it anymore. I'm talking about exerting a little self-control and feeling better about my body.

♥ bfs~"Mimi" ♥ said...

I loved this post! For many reasons.

In high school, I think we all tried crazy diets. My worst experience was the egg diet. About 3 days into it, I awoke one morning and shrieked when I got out of bed. Such pain. Looked down, and my feet were 3 times their size. I looked in the mirror, and could hardly see anything my face was so swollen. My hands were blimps. I barely made it to my parents' room, still shrieking. They shrieked (not really) when they saw me.

Turns out, it was an allergy to the eggs. Too many eggs for me is like injecting sulfa drugs, which I am allergic to.

What we go through to be "beautiful" in the eyes of the world is very sad.

I say, go through love -- and you will always be beautiful.

Anne said...

Oh, Bee, I sympathize. I have a long and rocky relationship with food and weight. In the 15 years since that I first became conscious of that relationship, I haven't made a ton of progress, but I've made some, and part of that progress is inching toward embracing an active, strong body rather than one of a particular size, shape, or appearance. I'm not there yet (far from it), but I'm closer than I used to be. You sound like you have a healthy, sensible take on things, and I'm glad for it. (And somewhat envious, as I can tend toward the irrational in these areas.)

As for the biking trip and running around in lycra, honestly--and I say this as someone who's spent 6-7 consecutive hours swimming, biking, and running in nothing but lycra--you get used to it. You never quite get over it, but it becomes gradually less awful. So the best advice I have for you on that front, which you might not like very much, is to get an early start on the lycra-wearing and bike-riding. Ride a few times a week (yes, wearing the shorts) until you leave for the trip, and you just might feel a bit less uncomfortable.

As it happens, I'm writing this suited up for a ride of my own, lycra shorts and all!

Anne said...

A postscript: your garden and house are gorgeous, Bee!

Barrie said...

Bee, what a delightful post! My problem is that I'm a natural grazer. I love to nibble my way through the day. The only thing that saves me is exercise. :)

Lucy said...

Better a pear than an apple I can tell you! Seriously, though, pear-shaped is supposed to be the healthier of the two, as well as being the more attractive, unfortunately (for me, being apple not pear) I gather it's genetic and not much can be done to change one's predisposition.

Frankly with all the delicious things you cook, I'm surprised you're not the shape of a watermelon. I'm sure you look lovely.

Good luck with the bike and lycra!

willow said...

Oh, please. I remember the beautiful photo you posted of your skinny self on your birthday. You are not fat. Not anywhere near it.

Polly said...

I agree with B - don't look at your shadow, that'll definitely make you feel much better! It's all about feeling good in your own skin, after all, and sounds to me that before you saw your shadow you did.

I know what you mean about dieting, I tried a couple of times in my life and never got anywhere with it. I lack strong will when it comes to food and when I diet all I can think of is that I'm hungry. I went to India a couple of years ago and being super careful with the food I ended up losing lots and lots of weight. When I saw myself in the mirror after I got back I was terrified... and after that experience I'm a very happy size 12 :-)

Bee said...

Anne - I have the feeling that, more than most, you understand my greediness for food (yet interest in being physically fit). Finding the balance! (BTW, I took out my lycra shorts . . . and maybe I'll even give them a test run. :)

Barrie - If I could ban myself from eating whilst at the computer that would probably cure all!

Lucy - Yes, I may have to cut back on the baking! (I know what they say about apples and pears, but I also know who looks better in jeans!)

Willow - Well, I only selectively showed my upper body! :)

Polly - Remember that philosophy supposedly attributed to Catherine Deneuve? After a certain age, you have to choose between your bottom and your face!

dogimo said...

Bee - what a heartfelt and humorous post! I laughed the first half through at the humor, then smiled more and sighed at the truth sinking in. When we mourn the little changes that happen as we age, is it really mortality on the way that we are mourning?

Our youth, our vigor...our indestructibility - that realest of youth's illusions gets a crack in it once the back starts acting up and one acquires a little technically unnecessary protective padding. But of course there are people 60, 70, 80 and on who still course through life with vigor and abundant joy! Let's not mourn too much. It's just a case of being sensible about being healthy, putting in a little extra hard work to remain strong - and perhaps most importantly, finding ways to enjoy our hard work. Find ways to do things that we can enjoy voraciously, for themselves.

Biking is a great choice! I don't think I've ever walked for exercise, but I've trudged dozens of lateral miles and thousands of vertical feet with packs on my back for the sake of the view at the top and along the way.

If it comes to diets, I see all over the internet that there seems to be a new one where all you have to do is OBEY. I haven't seen the details, but I'm a bit skeptical. Sounds like somebody's idea to keep women in their place. "Shed them pounds like water! All you have to do is...OBEY."

Fie upon such foul regimens!

Bee said...

Dogimo - The OBEY DIET? Oh dear. I'm not good at obedience or denial, but I shall be trying for a bit more moderation.

And I think you are right about body changes=mortality.

Anne said...

Oh yes. If there's a Hell, and if the seven deadly sins are in fact the ones that send you there, I'll be in for gluttony. :)

Nimble said...

I can't resist chiming in. (Is there any modern woman who hasn't had to decide what her approach to food and body issues is going to be?) I'm embracing summer as the time my butter reduction and exercise increase. It's easier in the summer and I'm all for easy. I find that if I have generous amounts of summer fruit that I don't miss the rich treats as much. I think a huge piece of watermelon is the perfect dessert. So that's helping.

You've always been trim and shapely and beautiful. I am sure you can find a new balance to sustain.

Chiara.u said...

Hi Bee :) it's the first time I comment on your blog! I do it now because I feel so much this confession! I've stopped smoking quite 8 months ago, I'm very happy for this, but not so happy for my weight! At the beginning I was very indulgent with me... in fact I've always been very thin and had no problems with diet! But now I cannot wear my clothes of the last year and I'm not happy!!! Why? I've always been sooooo thin... Maybe we change: the age, the children...Uff ok let's work now :)
I love cook and eat so I suppose I must work hard with sport!!!
Have a beautiful week :)

Lisa said...

Just this morning I looked at myself in the mirror in the black capris I'm wearing and complained that I don't like these snug-legged pants because they accentuate my apple shape.

It's an ongoing battle for me - a size 12 American, thinking how nice it would be to wear an 8!

Sig said...

Time to "uncloak" (Trekie reference for you non-geeks). Bee's body is not expanding in terribly obvious ways to me. She is nothing like the woman on the card. I don't see Continental claiming a second ticket to accomodate each cheek !

As for me. I can and have gained weight particularly when I was a resident in Paris. I had to change my lifestyle and diet 15 years ago due to diabetes. I travel and eat out all the time and still keep thin - just stick with the program and you will get there. Slowly, slowly. Nothing drastic and you get there.

Next time I do see her booty I think a little slap might be order for all the trouble it has caused.

Bee said...

Anne - Me, too!

Nimble - Yes, summer fruit does make dieting a lot easier! I always look forward to cherry season.

Chiara - Thanks so much for speaking up. I hope that more sports activity works for you . . . and for me!

Lisa - I guess that pears always envy apples, and vice versa! If we lived nearer each other, we could walk (and talk) the weight right off!

Sig - I think you are being very cheeky!!

jenny2write said...

Pear shape looks better (and is healthier) than a roll of fat just above the navel. I'd swap! (Although sometimes I fear I may have both ;-)

Kate said...

Hysterical, hysterical, hysterical, Bee. I wish it really were possible to laugh one's butt off! (I would be a willowy sort myself then.)
Your hubby's card is a memorable one!
I love independent bookstores too. Sadly, my favorite "By the Book" turned to frozen custard instead. There are still magazines and gift items, but the bookshelves have been emptied. Sad.