Farewell to Nohema Graber and More- Empty Nest by Curt Swarm


Ginnie and I participated in the First Annual Walk for Nohema in Chautauqua Park in Fairfield last Saturday morning.  Nohema Graber was a Spanish teacher at Fairfield Community High School, who was murdered allegedly by two high school boys as she walked in Chautauqua Park. 

Ginnie and I did not know Nohema Graber, we just wanted to show our support for a grieving community and high school that are reeling from this senseless tragedy.  The walk was a “First Annual” so hopefully we will be able to walk it again next year.  It was a fundraiser put on by the FHS Student Council for a scholarship in memory of Nohema, since she was such a big supporter of learning.  On the back of the t-shirts we were able to purchase, were the Spanish words, “AMOR Y PAZ” meaning “LOVE AND PEACE” which Nohema was well known for saying.  It was a windy Saturday morning and, as we walked the hilly road through Chautauqua park, following the same path Nohema walked almost daily, we couldn’t help but think of the educator we did not know.  Love and peace to you, too, Nohema. 

            Henbit is back—perhaps in honor of Nohema also.  Its pink or lavender color is beginning to dot the no-till farm land throughout Iowa and the Midwest.  Henbit is an invasive weed that springs up quite rapidly this time of year and is a major source of irritation to farmers, not to mention it’s a nutrient-and-moisture robber.  Henbit is quite pretty and can be confused with a cover crop.  A non-native plant, it gets its name because it was originally brought to the United States for chicken fodder.  Now it has a stranglehold on spring planting.  Artists like to paint and photograph fields of henbit, farmers like to eradicate it.  On the plus side, the entire henbit plant, from stem to flower, is edible, and can be used in salads. 

To find out for myself, I stopped by a field and harvested a sack full of henbit.  Ginnie did some major huffing when I took it home, but we had henbit on our evening salad.  It’s rather chewy and has a somewhat earthy taste with a slight minty smell.  It’s okay.  No worse than parsley.  One man’s weed is another man’s garden salad.  

            For all of you out there battling weight control, here’s my best tip of the day.  After struggling for years to reach what I consider to be my optimal desired weight of 180 lbs, and reaching it, now the fight becomes one of maintaining it, i.e., not going under or over 180 lbs, which can be tricky.  I’m an aerobic exercise fanatic (or nut).  Ginnie and I have our own dedicated exercise room, with two treadmills and one elliptical machine, that we use daily.  I have discovered, after buckets of sweat, that 150 calories burned on the elliptical machine equates to one pound of weight loss.  I always weigh myself before and after exercising.  Therefore, if I’m 183 lbs before exercising, I know that I need to burn 450 calories on the elliptical machine, which takes about 40 minutes (or if I’m 190 lbs, I need to, well, yikes!).  150 calories per pound of weight is a pretty good rule of thumb.  It varies of course according to the individual, type of exercise and intensity.  You can figure your own formula simply by weighing yourself before and after exercising.  Do the math, avoid the fast.  

            My doctor tells me not to get too hung up on BMI (Body Mass Index).  It was popular back in WW II as a gauge for military inductees.  If I reached the desired BMI for my height, I’d be skin and bones.  My high school football weight was 172 lbs.  Will I settle for 180?  U-bet’cha!  

Have a good story?  Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, find him on Facebook, email him at curtswarm@yahoo.com, or visit his website at www.empty-nest-words-photos-and-frames.com.       

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