Tuesday, December 14, 2010

In Hindsight

In hindsight, I should have known my family was planning a birthday party for me last Friday. I'm not quite sure why I didn't put it all together, but I didn't.

When my husband said our friends Ed and Sharon forgot to invite us to their Christmas party, I should have known. When my hair guy called and said I should get my hair done before my birthday, I should have been suspicious. When friends of ours who should not have known when my birthday was were all wishing me a happy birthday, well, you get the idea.

So my husband and I went to the Christmas party just a little bit later than what he said we should be there. As we walked up to the door, I was feeling bad for the hosts because no one was there. I even said something like, "Where is everyone?" But as soon as I walked in the door and saw the "50" signs, it all started clicking.

So wearing a princess crown and a pink "Fabulous" sash and drinking a super jumbo Margarita, I greeted my guests.

The party is basically a giant blur of laughing and drinking and doing a pretty good job of being the center of attention. (I'm not normally good at that!) The photos all over the walls were great and yes, my hair really did look that bad for a lot of years! The mix CD of tunes for me was hysterical! I feel as if I did not spend enough time with anyone. And by the time I opened gifts, some of the jokes had to be explained to me. (No, the gift is not IN a Corona beer box. The gift is a case of Corona!)

So, in hindsight, I should have known what they had in mind. It was a lot of fun, and like all good parties, it ended WAY too fast!

Thanks for a great evening! I'm hoping photos of me and my kayak will surface soon!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Nothing

All year I had planned to post something deep and insightful for my birthday -- I have nothing!

I had hoped that as the day got closer, it would just come to me. I would write something really great, really important, life changing. Suddenly, everything would make sense.

I still have a few hours to come up with something. Maybe in the morning.

Why I'm Not Old

Earlier I posted a list of reasons why I am old. Today is my list of why I'm NOT old.

1) I wear smaller jeans now than I did 10 years ago. AND they are not Mom jeans! (Anymore)

2) I finished six half marathons this year.

3) I have the same winter coat as one of my teenaged son's friends.

4) Without my contacts in, I can read the small print.

5) I did a zip line this summer. The tallest zip line in the United States!

6) I like Corona. (Have you EVER seen an old person drinking Corona? Me neither.)

7) I know how to blog, Tweet and I have a Facebook page. (OK, this might not be a sign of youngness.)

8) I was carded for buying beer earlier this year. (OK, they carded everyone, but still, they carded me!)

9) I have all of my teeth. (Well, except for the one crown which wasn't my fault. A filling fell out and I didn't realize until it needed a root canal.)

10) I text my kids instead of calling them.

11) I was given a kayak for my birthday. No one would give an old lady a kayak!

Need more proof?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

You Wouldn't Give an Old Woman a Kayak

Hence, I am not old. Photo to come.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

WARNING

WARNING


By Jenny Joseph


When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people's gardens

and learn to spit.


You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat

and eat three pounds of sausages at a go

or only bread and pickles for a week

and hoard pens and pencils and beer nuts and things in boxes.


But now we must have clothes that keep us dry

and pay our rent and not swear in the street

and set a good example for the children.

We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?

So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised

When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.


Copyright Jenny Joseph

http://www.wheniamanoldwoman.com/pages/348544/index.htm

________


Today I am wearing purple -- and I have a red hat, though I am NOT wearing the hat today. (I am just practicing!)


The first time I read this poem it made me smile. Shoot, it made me smile today, too. I hope Jenny Joseph forgives me for reprinting it here without her permission.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Annual Winter Sadness -- Amplified

WARNING -- I'm feeling sad and this blog posting is all about that.

The year I met my husband, my grandmother died the night before Thanksgiving. Needless to say, it affected Thanksgiving holidays for the rest of my Dad's life. One of the funnier/sadder/truer things he said was something like, "If you are going to die, don't dork up the holidays."

With that in mind, my Dad died 14 years ago this month. His funeral was on December 21. Way to take your own advice Dad!

My Mom wasn't much better. She died in January 4 years ago after a prolonged illness and we spent those holidays before her death worrying about her every single day.

So, in addition to my usual weather-induced depression, I have the memory of both of my parents dying or being sick over the holidays. Add in that my job entails editing very boring material while sitting in a little gray office with no windows. When the skies are gray and it is very cold outside like it is this week, the downward spiral is nearly unstoppable.

This year let's add that I'm turning 50 at the beginning of next week and my feelings of sadness are even worse. I'm turning 50, the skies are gray and I miss my Mom and Dad.

How am I not suicidal?

Before you start panicking and taking away sharp objects and my shoelaces, I understand this is a temporary depression. There are things I can do to make this better -- I just need to start taking action.

  1. First I need to acknowledge my depression and have a good cry. It doesn't help to hold everything in. Plus, crying releases endorphins which are in desperate need right now. Kinda started that, but an early phone call interrupted me. I'll try to cry more later.
  2. I need to do something different to jumpstart better feelings. I made a first move here by taking the day off. I woke up dreading going to work, so I called in to play hookey. Even told my boss I'm not sick -- I just need a day off.
  3. There are a couple of things I have been avoiding and I need to just suck it up and do them. During this day off I'll get some of that stuff done. Lifting even a little weight off my shoulders will help.
  4. I need to get outside and walk. Being outside is a great way to lift my mood. Because exercise releases endorphins, it is one of the depression solutions that usually works for me. It is part of the reason I walk outside year-round. Once you get acclimated to cold weather it isn't so bad. And if you are outside every day, eventually you get a couple of sunny winter days that are just amazingly beautiful. Well, the sun isn't shining, but I will try to get outside today.
  5. Christmas shopping. This is a little obvious, but if I do something that makes me think about other people, then I can't be obsessing about me. It is so easy to wallow in self pity if I don't change my focus.
  6. Eat dark chocolate and drink Margaritas. Just writing this sentence makes me smile!

OK, I'm feeling a little better already -- even without the additional crying. I will head out to run some of those vital errands and move on with my day. Maybe the sun will come out later when I'm outside.

Friday, December 3, 2010

In Good Company!

Hard to believe, but there are a lot of stars -- some pretty hot -- who also turned 50 this year!
http://omg.yahoo.com/photos/stars-turning-50-in-2010/4426?nc#OmgPhoid=1

Gotta say, Daryl Hannah is looking a little rough. My new claim to fame. I'm aging better than Daryl Hannah!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Be Careful What You Wish For

Growing up, my hair was way too thick. When handheld blow dryers first were available, I couldn't use them. First, it took forever for my hair to dry and second, I burned out the motors pretty fast. I can remember wishing my hair was thinner or straighter or less frizzy.

In addition, my whole life I have been a shedder. My sister and I were constantly clogging the shower drain when we lived at home. And several years ago, my husband and daughter wrote a song for me called Mommy Hair -- about how my hair ends up everywhere.

So, I was not alarmed when I noticed that there has been a lot of hair in the bathroom sink, in the shower drain and all over the bathroom floor. Wait, I thought the other day, I don't normally lose hair just standing in front of the bathroom sink. And it isn't just a couple of hairs, it's a lot of them. And then I realized that in the shower it takes almost nothing to get my hair wet when I used to have to stand under the shower for a few minutes to get it wet all the way through. It also takes almost no time at all to dry my hair.

The other day I was walking with some friends who are all older than I am and I mentioned my hair is getting thinner. They laughed. Yeah, that happens, they said, oh, and it doesn't come back!

I know that some women lose their hair -- I know a couple of women who are nearly bald. But no one told me that everyone's hair gets thinner. Just another one of those wonderful aging things that no one tells you until it is too late!

Not only did I happen to start going silver (we don't go gray in my family) at age 16, now I'm going to go bald? This is so unfair!

I want my hair back!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Wrong -- Just Plain Wrong!

Saturday there were exactly two pieces of mail in our mailbox addressed to me:
1) an AARP application;
2) ANOTHER preplanned funeral flyer.

That's just wrong!

PS: How many preplanned funeral flyers am I going to get? And I have received three, and Len has not received one!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Direct Overhead Lighting Should be Illegal

At the Houston Convention Center this week, I was looking in the bathroom mirror and I had to stand there -- stunned. Is that really me? That is NOT me, I decided. OK, I knew it was me, but I was still in shock. Where on Earth did all of those wrinkles come from?

Daily I look in the mirror when applying makeup in the morning and throughout the day -- I know what I look like. So, why would I suddenly have a ton of wrinkles?

Direct overhead lighting!

When standing under the dreaded direct overhead lighting, every single crease, furrow, wrinkle and crow's foot was emphasized and glowing. Even the little tiny ones that I can't typically see if I'm not wearing my "cheaters", and I'm unable to see up close. I have never ever looked so old before!

I am absolutely positive that a man made the decision to put direct overhead lighting in front of mirrors in a woman's restroom. (He should be shot!)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Traveling with Co-workers

So, I'm out of town for work and have had dinner with a couple of female co-workers the last couple of nights.

Tonight at dinner, I mentioned something about an upcoming birthday. Joan, who is 10 years older than I am asked how old I'll be on my next birthday. I said, in about 28 days, I'll be 50. Though it is still hard for me to actually articulate those words, I said it aloud. "I will be 50."

The good news is, they all said I look younger than that. I was feeling pretty good, until they started saying how old they are. One said she will freak out when she turns 30 in 2 years. (She is only 5 years older than my daughter!) The other said when she turns 40 in 2 years it won't be hard at all. The other is already 30 and had no problem with it. (This last one I thought was closer to my age!)

So, the only person there close to my age is Joan!

I feel younger than what I am. And I do think I look younger than the average person my age. But here I am -- out with my co-workers, my peers -- and I am old enough to be their mom!

Somewhere along the way, I have to have made a bad career choice when everyone I work with is just starting out their careers, and here I am, at an age where I should be established and enjoying being at the top of the heap.

(But at least I look younger than that...)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

My Hero

I have a friend, Ellie, who is amazing. She recently retired as a nurse, is about to be a grandmother for the first time, and has completed five full marathons in the last couple of years. I have totally lost track of the number of half marathons she has entered.

What is amazing about Ellie, and makes her my hero is, she is 71 years old and started race walking about 10 years ago in her early sixties! Oh, and she is quite a bit faster than I am!

When I think about members of my family, and how they have aged, I don't have a lot of strong role models. My Dad died at 61, all four of my grandparents died of smoking-related illnesses and my Mom died of complications of stroke and COPD at the age of 71. Her last few years she needed a walker, needed oxygen all of the time and had constant knee and back pain.

Ellie is a good gardener, giving me tomatoes all of the time (I barely grew any this year -- again), she is a fantastic baker, spends lots of time with her neighbors, loves going to concerts, her house is immaculate, she cleans her gutters, rakes her leaves and mows her lawn... She never stops moving!

Ellie is officially my role model. When I grow up, I want to be just like her!

ADDENDUM:
Recently after we had completed a half marathon, a woman in her twenties walked up to Ellie and asked if it would be OK to ask her a personal question. "You don't have to answer if you don't want to," she said. After Ellie said OK, the woman asked how old Ellie is. "I noticed from your race bib that you did the entire half marathon," she said to explain the reason for her question. "I did just 2 miles of the relay, and it is the farthest I have ever run. This was my first ever race."

When Ellie said she was 71, the young woman was almost dumbstruck. "You are kidding! You are my new hero!" the woman gushed. Ellie went on to say how many half marathons she had completed this year and how many full marathons she has completed over the last few years. The woman was appropriately impressed.

The woman turned to me and said, "And you are..." I replied proudly, "Her friend. Her very good friend."

NOTE: After the conversation, Ellie was worried that the young woman thought she looked like an old lady. Her point was, why else would she have asked Ellie's age. I explained my perspective. She knew Ellie was older -- that is obvious from the gray hair alone. But she was expecting Ellie to say she was at least 10 years younger than what she really is.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Over a Month!

I cannot believe it has been more than a month since I last posted here. Lots of momentous things have happened, but I cannot figure out why I have't written about any of them. I'm not going to try to get totally caught up all in one posting, but I will hit a couple of the high and low oints.

1) I met a couple freakishly odd people -- in the same week! They were so odd, I was basically speechless around both of them. I don't want to say anything that will let these people know I think they are freakishly odd -- I'm pretty sure they don't know they are freaky.

2) I had a couple of bad days around October 13 -- two months before my birthday. I'm really not ready to turn 50 and it is starting to hit me.

3) I've been pretty busy and when stress and being busy are overwhelming, well, I don't blog like I should.

Less than two months to go and the whole point of this blog is to help me cope. I need to do abetter job of it.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Feeling Blue

I was feeling a little bit blue the other day for a variety of reasons -- car repairs, house repairs, autumn, shorter days, jobs... So my husband and I decided to head out to happy hour.

There's a little pub that we hang out at regularly. We've been going there for years and have a group of friends we hang out with there. I was hoping to run into a couple of them.

Shortly after arriving, we found out one friend is having legal difficulties and another had a family member die in a horrible house fire. Both situations made me rethink my worries and put things in perspective.

So I've spent a small fortune on car repairs and have some house repairs yet to handle. And my husband's and my job concerns are nothing when I think about the friends of mine who have lost their jobs. And when you think of the other losses our friends have experienced, my troubles and concerns are insignificant.

So, though we went out because I was feeling a little blue, I did not come back feeling better. However, I am feeling thankful that I have the problems I have, and though they are somewhat annoying and can be tough, I'm able to handle them (so far).

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Whiskey in a Milkshake?

Today I saw the online headline, "Who put the Whiskey in my Milkshake?" Though it ended up being a legitimate story about milkshake recipes that contain Bourbon, it brought back memories -- weird memories of growing up with three older brothers.

One day before junior high school, I decided to have Shredded Wheat for breakfast -- the large biscuits that were much bigger than a Brillo pad, but looked like they were made the same way. Because it was pretty cold outside, I decided to warm up the milk. This was before microwave ovens, so I put about a cup of milk in a saucepan and ran upstairs for a second.

When I got back downstairs, I poured the warm milk on my cereal and began to eat. The weird thing is that all three of my brothers were at the table eating -- we didn't normally all end up eating at the same time. With the first bite I noticed that the milk didn't taste right. "Does the milk taste bad to you?" I asked. They all said it tasted fine to them.

After a couple more bites, I was positive there was something wrong with the milk. "The milk is spoiled," I announced. "I'm throwing this out." The reaction from my brothers was immediate. They said stuff like, "You can't throw that out, Mom will be mad." They continued to tell me I was wasting food, etc., but I threw it out anyway. I have no idea what I ate instead.

Flash forward to several years later. Someone brought up this insignificant breakfast morning at a family event. It went something like, "Do you remember when you heated milk for your Shredded Wheat and the milk tasted spoiled?" Confused I said I knew what they were talking about. "When you were upstairs, we poured Dad's Scotch in your milk."

Yeah, just what I needed -- Scotch for breakfast.

So, from experience I can tell alcohol in milk does not work. And if Scotch is bad in milk, I can't imagine Bourbon would be any better in a milkshake.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Green Eggs and Ham turns 50

I was surprised to find out that the Dr. Seuss classic Green Eggs and Ham turns 50 this year!

I remember this as being one of the first books I could read by myself. (Actually, Hop on Pop was the absolute first. It was also my dad's least favorite kids' book.) I have probably given it as a gift to tons of little kids. And because of the great rhythm and rhyme, the book has been put to song, made into a musical, read to school kids by a million celebrities, was made into a rap by a comedian and Jesse Jackson read it with a flare on Saturday Night Live.

While watching a news story about the anniversary, I learned that Dr. Seuss wrote the book as a bet. His publisher bet him he couldn't write a book using only 50 words. The result was Green Eggs and Ham and the author won the one dollar per word wager.

Only 4 Months to Go!

My husband turned 50 yesterday. Yep, his birthday is 4 months to the day before mine.

Though it was uneventful for him, I'm really not surprised. He never gets worked up about things like age or weight or gray hair...

In the meantime, his turning 50 has made it all the more real for me. I have only 4 more months to be in my 40s! I cannot believe I'm going to be 50 in such a short amount of time! ARGH!

OK, panic attack over. (I think.)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Funeral Planning -- Already?

I recently received a mailing saying that I may qualify for the Funeral Advantage Program that assists SENIORS with their funeral expenses.

"Obviously this is a mistake," I thought, as I skimmed through the info in huge type. Alas, I was wrong! "Thousands of Ohio residents age 50-85 have been accepted so far..." the flyer read. I had to re-read that part. It actually says that people aged 50 are considered to be seniors!

Needless to say, I was appalled. I have not even reached middle age* yet! How on Earth can this company call me a senior? (To be fair here, it did not actually call ME a senior. It called people 50 and older seniors. I have lots of time until I'm 50 -- more than 4 months.)

I was so upset, I needed unbiased confirmation that 50 does not define someone as a senior. So I did what every person who has Internet access does -- I checked Wikipedia. It says:
The age which qualifies for senior citizen status varies widely. In governmental contexts it is usually associated with an age at which pensions or medical benefits for the elderly become available. In commercial contexts, where it may serve as a marketing device to attract customers, the age is often significantly lower. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Senior_citizen]
Earlier in the listing it says that many dictionaries define senior as 60 and above, even though few people retire by age 60.

Whew! So, I am happily correct that I am much too young to be reading this flyer directed toward senior citizens. And I just want this company to know, when I am finally old enough to care about your service, I will NOT be contacting your company. (That will teach them!)
_______

*Please don't bust my bubble on this. If I plan to live to be 100 or older, I have not yet hit middle age. And I can live in denial for a long, long time.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Early Alzheimer's?

This past Spring I drove by the most beautiful purple irises I had seen in a number of years. They were tall, full and a really deep purple. They definitely brought back memories.

I strongly remember that there were a bunch of extremely beautiful purple irises in front of my grandparents' house on the south shore of Lake Erie. I always wondered about them because no one ever used the front door, they weren't visible from inside the house, and my grandma didn't seem overly concerned about landscaping, though I remember Dad planting a few rose bushes in the back she could see from the window.

Some of my favorite memories revolve around this house, this land and Lake Erie. Growing up we spent a lot of time up there fishing and swimming.

So I told my sister about the irises and how much they brought back memories. She said, "What irises?" Even after describing them, she had no idea what I was talking about.

Since my aunt had lived in that house for a number of years, I decided to ask her about the purple flowers. She said there were no irises at the house.

Now I have got to wonder -- why on Earth do I think there were irises? If they weren't at Grandma's house, where were they? What other things do I think I remember but never happened?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Land Shark!

At a recent baseball game, one of the moms told me a story about feeling old.

At work that day she had to interrupt a closed-door meeting. She knocked on the door and someone from inside asked "Who's there?"

She replied, "Land Shark!"

There was no reply from the other side of the door.

She felt pretty foolish, even though someone walking by chuckled.

For those of you who need an explanation, the Land Shark was a reoccurring skit on Saturday Night Live (back when it was funny) which was introduced in 1975.
... the Land Shark is considered the cleverest of all sharks. Unlike the great white shark, which tends to inhabit the waters and harbors of recreational beach areas, the Land Shark may strike at any place, any time. It is capable of disguising its voice, and generally preys on young, single women.
Yeah, when NO ONE in a group has ever heard of a Land Shark, I think you are approaching old.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Going 50 mph at (Nearly) 50

On a recent long-weekend trip, my husband and kids thought it would be great if we would try a local zip line. In theory, this sounded like fun, but in the back of my mind, I kept expecting something to prevent it from happening. (Too costly, too life threatening, it was broken down...)

So it was with mixed emotions that I returned to the car from checking on prices to tell everyone it was within our price range. When the three of them got all excited, I decided I would do it too. It's not every day I'm offered the opportunity to ride a zip line, why not try it!

Though a little nervous, I was feeling absolutely fine until we rode the glass elevator to the top of the tower. The higher we went, the harder my heart pounded. As we stepped off the elevator and looked out the observation windows I started having a panic attack. "I can't do this!" I gasped. The looks on their faces started out as surprise. I think they were all thinking something like "What do you mean you can't do this simple thing?" Slowly, two of the faces turned to concern. They all gave me a few minutes to get used to the idea, I watched a couple of people go before us and I started to relax.

Finally it dawned on me -- how would I feel if I walked away? How would I ever look myself in the mirror if I didn't take this opportunity? And finally, I'm turning 50 this year -- I need to do things I have never done before.

After that, I was doing fine waiting. Actually, I was doing fine until I physically got into the chair hanging from the zip line at the launch site. Each hanging chair sits behind a metal gate. It was good they had the gate because it limited my view of the 230-foot drop before me. Again my heart started pounding so hard, I thought I would have a heart attack. But once I was belted in, there was no way I could back out.

The gate opened, I went out over nothing and had a split second of panic. I screamed once and then I was fine! I even released the death grip I had on the straps and put my arms out to my sides.



For about 70% of the ride, I was in the lead. Our daughter started to catch me, then slowly fell behind. Then suddenly our son passed me and he won. My hubby was last the entire way. By the way, when they say an "abrupt" stop, they are not understating the event. When you get to the end, you stop!

It was an absolute blast! That half mile at 50 mph went by so fast!

My legs were rubbery at the end, but I would love to do it again. I see a canopy tour in my near future!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tA-1nQhQCBw

Monday, July 5, 2010

Another Dog is Gone

I've been debating for a couple of weeks about what to do with the old blind poodle that I inherited from my mom when she died three years ago. The dog's cataracts were severe, her dementia had progressed pretty quickly over the last few months, and she was basically no longer house broken. And she smelled bad no matter how many baths I gave her.

Despite that, she could hear -- she just chose to ignore everyone. And she was pretty mobile. She would walk around in a little circle in the middle of the backyard for as long as I would let her. (Though it was sad because she was confused, it looked pretty funny. I felt guilty for laughing and I never left her out there for more than a few minutes.)

So this past weekend we had a couple of people over. My sister walked into the kitchen, took one look at the dog sleeping in her crate and said, "Oh! It is time!" A friend who recently had to have her own beloved pup put down agreed. I didn't even have to ask. Whew!

I made an appointment at the vet for 5 this evening. It didn't need to be today, but once I made the decision I just wanted to get it over with before I chickened out.

By the time I got her to the vet, the bath I had given her this morning had worn off, and she was smelly again. She looked horrible -- she looked scraggily and uncared for. I felt terrible!

Of course, the "mean" vet who has yelled at me (undeservedly) in the past had to be the doctor who walked in the room. When I said we just needed for her to be put down, he immediately agreed with our decision. He said it would be fast and it was. In a few seconds, it was over.

Here is why this feels weird. Though we had her for three years, this dog didn't really bond with anyone. She loved my mom so much, and my mom spoiled her so bad, she had a hard time adjusting to being treated like a dog. At our house she was not held constantly and she had to eat -- dog food. She slept in the kitchen in her own bed, like the other dogs. Because of this lack of bonding, I never felt that she was our dog -- she was my mom's dog. That gave taking care of the little animal a different feel. Though we all cared for her and wanted the best for her, we didn't have the love for her we have for our own dogs -- it was more of an obligation. And making a life or death decision for an animal who you feel is not yours is in some ways much harder. Was I making the decision for the right reasons? Was it best for her? And in an odd way, I was losing that last final connection with my mom.

Luckily I was offered some unbiased opinions that helped me make the right decision. I'm confident the guilt will pass.

Side note: When my mom rescued this dog from a puppy mill -- the little dog had been forced to have way too many litters of puppies -- mom asked if we wanted her. I said no. She tried and tried to push the little poodle on me and I said no. I told her, I don't want a dog that takes that much grooming and extra care. I prefer dogs that don't need haircuts.

So years later, after the dog got old, I still ended up with her.

Another side note: Sometimes I get really ticked off when I ask a direct question and someone (who shall remain nameless) refuses to give me an answer. A couple of weeks ago I asked directly if it was time, and he said it was up to me. Of course I read that to mean it must not be time or else he would have said so. No, he just wanted it to be my decision. Well, I obviously needed help or I wouldn't have asked! (Some men are so aggravating.)

Sunday, July 4, 2010

How did you get to be so old?

My three-year-old cute-as-a-button niece walked up to my good friend Scotty and asked innocently, "How did you get to be so old?" Scotty's jaw dropped. Once he recovered, he just did not know what to say.

The thing is, Scotty is my age -- he will be turning 50 just three months before I do! Though he has more gray hair than some (my lack of gray is thanks to my hair guy), he doesn't really look old. But then again, I'm not three.

After the little cutie bounced off, and we finished laughing, my sister-in-law explained. Lately the little girl has been asking to do things, and her mom's response has been "when you get older." She just wanted to know how to get there.

Well, cutie, it just takes time.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A Morning "Starter"

I've known the woman for a couple of years, but I don't have the opportunity to talk to her often. Usually we are walking with a group and we are at a different pace.

She's pretty amazing. At 24 years older than I am, she is out walking all of the time and just recently won her age group in a local 5-mile race. She worked for years as a technical artist creating drawings for the aeronautics industry. The only reason she quit working is that she didn't want to learn to draw using a computer.

So today while eating breakfast after the weekly walk, she started talking about her Mom who lived to be 85. The 4'10" woman sounded as if she could be a little cantankerous.

"She would drink a little Southern Comfort and Dr. Pepper every morning as a starter," she said. "She what?!?" the rest of us sputtered in shock. "It wasn't a lot of Southern Comfort," she continued. "She just needed it to get started in the morning."

I guess when you are in your 80s, you have earned the right to have whatever you want for breakfast.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Psycho Turns 50

The movie Psycho turned 50 last week! It made me think of a story my parents would tell, but might really be one of those family "urban legends."

My Mom and Dad went to see the classic horror movie while Mom was pregnant with me. She was pretty frightened by the movie and was affected by it -- showers made her pretty nervous after that.

Later that year, Mom was past her due date and apparently Dad wanted me to hurry up and arrive. One night while Mom was showering, he crept into the bathroom, stood right in front of the shower curtain and, with his arm raised high, made stabbing motions at the shower curtain with a banana in his hand. Mom screamed bloody murder, fell to the floor of the bath tub and curled up in a fetal position, screaming and crying hysterically! From what I heard, it took quite a while for Mom to calm down, and no, I was not born soon after.

You know how they say that babies can be affected by things that happen in the womb? Well thanks to Mom and Dad, I'm not a fan of horror movies, I hate to have people scare me, and I hate to admit this, but I can't take a shower if I'm home alone. In fact, when I lived alone in my first apartment, I had to have a clear shower curtain so I could see if anyone broke it. (Sounds crazy now.)

So, thanks for seeing Psycho, Mom and Dad!
_______

The urban legend part of the story is that my Dad wanted to go on his annual deer hunting trip, but he couldn't because I was late. The logical me knows that Dad would not have left Mom home alone for a week with three sons under the age of 3 and a newborn.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Crying in the Parking Lot Again

My daughter graduated from college today and though I almost cried when the band played Pomp and Circumstance, I didn't. In fact, I waited until I was leaving her house after the cookout that was rained out -- more or less. I stood in the parking lot behind her house with my husband and cried -- just a little. Though I wanted to stay and help her pack or clean, she really needed people to leave, so I left.

I hope she has the chance to relax a little today. I hope she has a chance to tell everyone good bye.

Another milestone reached.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Daddy's Girl

While walking in our neighborhood tonight I encountered a neighbor I've never seen before.

He was walking his fairly large dog, which is not unusual by itself, but he didn't pick up after his dog, which was unusual. (It was half in the grass of a random yard and half on the sidewalk -- gross!)

I was pretty shocked and had planned to say something to him.

He looked to be in his early 20s and was fairly tall -- well over 6 feet! His black hair was in dreadlocks with bright purple highlights. He walked with his head held high as if he was proud of himself. I wondered if this was a purposeful act.

As we approached each other and I thought about what I would say, I noticed his skin-tight black T-shirt with the ripped off sleeves --in a pretty purple script to match his hair it said "Daddy's Girl."

I walked on by. How would I ever be able to talk to him and keep a straight face.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Margarita Pants

I saw a woman today who is my new idol.

She had to be in her early 70s. She was thin and fit and her snow white hair was in a great trendy short haircut. But what I loved was her outfit.

Her bold patterned pants could only be described as "resort wear" -- they were bright green with a pattern featuring bottles of wine, glasses of wine and people drinking wine drawn in black and bright pink. She paired the pants with a matching green shirt and a great pink scarf that matched the wine bottles perfectly. I immediately knew this woman was fun!

As I looked at her, one thought came to mind -- the only thing that would have made the outfit perfect is if the pattern featured Margaritas!



OK, this fabric is not nearly as cute as the "wine" pants, but it would still look pretty good with a bright green shirt and maybe a bright pink scarf.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Don't Blink

Is there anything better in the summer than a really good country song to bring you to tears?

Today I heard Kenny Chesney's "Don't Blink" for the first time. I nearly cried.

The song is about a man over 100 years old being interviewed on TV, he says in part:
Don't blink
Just like that you're six years old and you take a nap and you
Wake up and you're twenty-five and your high school sweetheart becomes your wife
Don't blink
You just might miss your babies growing like mine did
Turning into moms and dads next thing you know your "better half"
Of fifty years is there in bed
And you're praying God takes you instead
Trust me friend a hundred years goes faster than you think
So don't blink

As my daughter prepares to graduate from college next week and my son becomes a junior in high school, I feel like if I blink, tomorrow I'll be that 100-year-old person. Life has gone by too fast the first 50 years and it gets faster every year.

I have got to start having more fun in my life.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

When is it too Late to Change your Lifestyle?

A friend of ours had a heart attack this past weekend. He's OK and even went home Tuesday. Still, his having a heart attack scared me. Not only am I scared for him, but it makes me wonder about both me and my husband.

This friend, who I'll call Michael, did not seem to be a typical candidate for a heart attack. He is in his mid-40s, a healthy weight, active in his job, physically fit, energetic ... So I have to wonder -- why him? What did he do -- or not do -- that caused this?

I know that at one point in his life he was heavy and he worked hard to lose the weight and be healthy. Did being heavy for several years do it? Did he have a history of eating poorly I don't know about?

Here is part of the reason this scares me. Though I have been thin for the majority of my life, I have not been healthy for much of it. For a good portion of it I was too thin but had no muscle tone and was not very active. I was physically unfit.

It's only been in the last 10 years that I have exercised regularly and attempted to eat well. Even then, I ended up being 20 lbs too heavy, it has taken longer than necessary to lose most of the weight and those last 5 lbs have been horrible. I keep gaining 3 lbs back and still have not yet reached my goal weight.

So, do the last 10 years of exercising and trying to eat well make up for nearly 30 years of bad food and a sedentary lifestyle? Is there some type of RotoRooter for arteries that I can use proactively to clear out any build up? (Or is it "retroactively" since it is after the fact?)

I am thrilled our friend is OK! Regardless, I'm nervous and I doubt if I will ever take minor chest pain lightly again.*
__________

*Let me just say that because of sporadic exercise over the years, I have had my share of inflamed rib cages or pericardium. Because I have had both more than once, I tend not to get overly excited when I have chest pain that feels like those conditions. In all instances, I have been to my family physician, been diagnosed and been given medications to reduce the inflammation.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Hornitos & Mom

Saw a commercial for Hornitos Tequila today that made me laugh.

A suave guy tells his roommate about a great cougar he met the night before and wants to invite over. He starts dialing his phone. The roommate says he can't, he has family over for dinner that night.

During the discussion, a pink cell phone on the counter starts ringing. They look at each other as the second roommate yells, "Mom, your phone is ringing."

The facial expressions are priceless! (Reminds me of stories I've heard about college Moms' weekends.)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Being Random

Yesterday my husband and I went to Dougie's funeral. We had never met his parents, sister or his nieces or nephews before. But it felt important to be there -- for them.

All of our parents are gone. We've planned funerals. We know that as hard as it is to get through the actual day, having people show up to share that pain with you is extremely helpful. Actually, having people show up to share their love of that person is even better.

There are people we expect to show up -- relatives, good friends, neighbors -- having them around is invaluable! We expect them to support us -- they do -- and we will support them when it is their turn. It's what we do for people we care about.

Then there are random people -- those who show up at a funeral, but the family members didn't know them.

When my dad died, there were so many people who came up to me to say, "You don't know me, but I knew your dad. Here is something great about him." Most of them had driven at least 2 hours to be there.

I ended up with a whole new picture of my Dad. He had a lot of friends I didn't know existed. He had a lot of casual acquaintances who really liked him. He made them laugh, he offered advice, sometimes he would just have a beer and listen. All of those funny and inspiring stories about my dad were a surprise -- he had touched people in ways I never knew! I've thought about those people over the years, and even now, more than 10 years later, I smile knowing my dad made an impact on so many people.

It took me a while, (after my mom died 3 years ago) but I finally decided that I would become a random person. I would be a person who shows up unexpectedly and says, "You don't know me, but your loved one was great!"

After introducing myself to Dougie's sister yesterday, she said: I see so many faces of people who I have never seen before. It feels good knowing all of these people knew and cared about my brother.

I'm glad I was able to be one of so many people who made that day a little better for her.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Putting Things in Perspective

I found out this morning that a casual friend of mine died last night. His name was Dougie.

Though Dougie was not a close friend, we saw him often -- he worked at the pub where we hang out. He was always in a good mood, he worked hard and he treated everyone very well. Dougie had some of the best bartender T-shirts ever, including my favorite which read: Tell your mom to quit texting me. On Halloween he wore a great pimp-wolf costume.

Dougie was only 36 years old.

So, today, as I think about Dougie being only 36 and his life cut short, I'm putting some things in perspective. Having a business that failed, working a job that isn't ideal and having major home repairs do not seem like they are very important.

And, turning 50 later this year is looking better and better every day.

Good-bye Dougie! You'll be missed!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

And the Award for Worst Singer goes to...


My Mom was a horrible singer. If you did not know the song based on the words, you would NEVER know what it was based on the melody she sang.

In everyday life, being a bad singer is not a big deal. Though we teased her, it did not stop her from singing.

However, I HATED to sit near her in church. She would change octaves in the middle of a song -- sometimes in the middle of a phrase -- making it impossible to sing if you were next to her.

My Dad was not much better. He knew one note and every song he sang he used just that one note. At least he was not distracting and confusing. He never sang loud, so it was easy to just block him out.

Today in church I was trying to sing when I realized the notes were getting too high for me, so I switched octaves. I then realized the song was going too low and I couldn't do that either. So I opted to pick one note and sing the rest of the song using just that one note. Once I realized what I was doing, I nearly laughed.

Yeah, my Mom and Dad are definitely still a part of me.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

He Thought I was a Pole Dancer

The other day a friend my age told me a story that ended with, "He thought I was a pole dancer."

At first I was just stunned. "What?" I said in shock and horror. I'm sure my mouth dropped open.

She explained how, because of loud music and some miscommunication, the guy she was introduced to that night thought she worked as a pole dancer/stripper.

My second reaction was to offer sympathy. How could anyone believe a woman this classy could be a pole dancer? Seeing that she was not angry I asked how she felt about it.

Her response made me laugh. She said something like: How cool is it that someone would think I could make money as a pole dancer -- at my age!

A male friend leaned over to whisper in my ear, "I'd pay to see her pole dance." Well, she is pretty hot.

It's funny how things that would be insulting at certain times of your life are seen as compliments when you get older. At the age of 25 if someone made that same assumption, I'm sure she would have slapped him!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

AARP Invitation

An invitation to join AARP arrived at our house today -- for my husband!

Yes, he is quite a bit older than I am. He is exactly 4 months to the day my senior.

Though I got a pretty good laugh out of his invitation, I know mine is probably on the way -- in about 4 months.

Monday, May 3, 2010

I'm Not Ready for This

I was a little sad yesterday. It's not a logical sadness, so I'll just explain.

While spending time with my daughter and her friends at college, I was truly proud of how adult they all are. They were busy in the kitchen chopping, marinading, boiling and cooking. As they were doing all of this, they got along better than any family I've ever seen. They each knew what the others would do before they even did. They enjoyed good conversation and teased each other -- especially when one had a "mom" moment. And they took turns making sure I had a beverage and anything else I might need.

While standing in the kitchen watching all of this I had an ah ha moment -- I'm not needed.

This is where it is illogical. My job as a parent is to raise self-sufficient children who can go off on their own and live their own lives. Watching her, I felt that my job is done, there is nothing she needs from me anymore.

The past 22 years have gone by SO fast! (Well, except for those first few months when she did not sleep through the night.) How did that little baby, huge toddler, super cute kindergardener, obnoxious high school student and nervous college freshman turn into this adult?

I'm just not ready for this!

But then again, I survived that first day of kindergarten. And I survived moving her into her first dorm and everything in between. And whenever I needed it, I waited until I got back to the parking lot before I cried.

Yesterday, I again waited until I was in the parking lot before I cried.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Welcome Mom's*

I visited my daughter at college this past Friday night and Saturday for Moms Weekend. Though I've been there before, this is the first time I've spent the night for this weekend.

It was really nice having my daughter and all of her friends cooking a great dinner for me! Even her boyfriend jumped in and helped cook. I was pretty proud of the way they all handled themselves in the kitchen. The food was delicious and they were great hosts!

After dinner they took me to a couple of their favorite hangouts including a pub with a band playing great 70s songs. Yeah, they knew how to cater to moms! The band was really good, and though I did not do so well on the pool table, my daughter did. It was a really fun bar.

But the highlight of the evening (for me) came as we were walking down the street to another pub. We stopped when we ran into another group of friends. The conversation between the boyfriend (BF) and Guy #1 was a little odd if you have not been consuming alcohol and are not on a college campus. It went something like this:
  • Guy #1 to BF: Sorry that I hit on your girlfriend a few times.
  • BF: That's OK.
  • Guy #1: But what about her friend. Can I hit on her?
  • BF: That's not her friend, that's her mom!
  • Guy #1 to me: You are gorgeous.
Yea for me!
(OK, before I get all of those snarky comments from friends, I understand that Guy #1 was drunk. I can still enjoy the moment, can't I?)
_______

*I have this thing about apostrophes. All over the college campus (from where I have a journalism degree), signs welcomed "Mom's". (Mom's what?) At the pub where my daughter works, I asked the bartender to erase the apostrophe from the dry-erase sign, which he did and he laughed. "Are you a teacher?" he asked. My daughter replied, "No, she's an editor." In my defense, my request might have been inspired by a little alcohol, too.

PS: If you are going to admit on a blog that you are an editor, it is a good idea to proofread. I hope I caught all of the typos (this time).

Monday, April 26, 2010

My Dog Died

The dog of the infamous list of Things my Dog Ate has died.

Because of the nature of this blog, I wasn't sure I should even write about it. It took a while to make the decision -- he died over a month ago.

Ozzie was a very smart dog who was not aware he was a dog. He knew the other dogs were merely dogs, but he was above it all. You could see his brain trying to figure out how to get the pizza off the counter, how to open the dog-proof trash can, or sneak somewhere he shouldn't go.

He was only 6 years old, so his death was a surprise. Both of the other dogs, our yellow lab and my mom's old blind poodle, are much older. We had expected that Ozzie would be around another 8 years, long after the old dogs were gone.

So, though I feel bad he is gone, he did go suddenly and it appeared to be without pain. And I'm confident it was not anything he ate.

If I can find a photo, I'll post it.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

At the age of 20...

We had nearly lost touch with a long-time friend of ours. Recently we had been running into him more often at the local pub where we hang out. It's been great seeing him so often!

The other night we were talking about how long we had known him -- nearly 20 years! It was shocking to us how old we are now. (We are all turning 50 this year.)

"When I was only 10, I could not imagine ever being 20. That was so old!" he said. "Then at 20, I couldn't imagine being 40. Then that seemed old." He continued. "When I was 40, well, 50 seemed old." He paused, took a big drink from his beer, looked me straight in the eye and with a little smile said, "Now, I'm here -- this is it -- I'm just old."

I know where you are coming from -- and most of the time I am right there with you -- but lately, I am not feeling so old!
_______

PS: I hope we keep hanging out for another 20 years!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Quotes from Friday Night

We had a small crowd of people with us last night when we went out. Needless to say the conversations were scattered. Because of this, I kept hearing just random lines out of context and couldn't help but laugh:
  • And he said "I can't talk right now. A pitt bull has my cat in his mouth."
  • Donny and Marie taught me how to roller skate.
  • I met a really nice watermelon farmer.
  • If you were in prison, would you try to defend yourself or would you be someone's bitch?
  • If your 19-year-old son was dating a 39-year-old woman...
I think I'll just grab another cup of coffee.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

280Z


Walking through my neighborhood today, I saw a Datsun 280Z parked in someone's driveway. It was in pretty good condition, too!

One of my favorite memories of this particular car involves my first visit to the city of Cincinnati. My oldest brother had moved to Cinci and my younger sister and I went down to visit him.

Though I do not remember how we got there, I do remember that we drove around the city in my brother's 280Z the entire weekend. Could it have been rust colored?

What you might not recall is that this car is a two-seater. Even though I am older than my sister, she is a good 5 inches taller than I am. Needless to say, I was the one who spent the entire weekend viewing the city laying down in the back of the car.

That weekend was also my first introduction to Skyline Chili -- a food I love though can eat only in moderation now that I am in my LATE 40s. I think that trip we were eating it about 3 in the morning. (Doesn't it always taste better really early in the morning?)

I also remember that the back windows had a slight curve to them making the view going up and down all of those hills just a little weird. It also caused the occasional case of motion sickness the other two were not particularly sympathetic to. At least I never hurled.

I'm having a hard time remembering what year it was. I don't even remember what else we did. But I'm absolutely positive I will never forget that Datsun 280Z, Cinci and Skyline chili. And a fun nearly adult weekend with two of my sibs.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

1989

From across the room I could read the sign -- 1989 in big red numbers. It didn't register right away -- you see signs like that in bars all of the time. Because it was in my line of sight, I kept looking at it over my lunch partner's left shoulder.

Then it dawned on me -- in order to legally drink in Ohio, you must have been born no later than 1989. Geez! 1989!

That was my last year in my 20s and I was freaking out about turning 30 that next year.

That was the year that the San Francisco 49ers beat the Cincinnati Bengals in the Superbowl, Mike Tyson and Robin Givens divorced, Iran's Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini offered a $1M-$3M bounty on Salman Rushdie because of his novel "Satanic Verses", a 6-week study of the Arctic atmosphere showed no ozone "hole", "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" premiered, Pete Rose was suspended from baseball for life and hurricane Hugo hit. My daughter turned 2 that year.

Since I have a daughter who is older than 21, I should not really be shocked by things like this. Shoot, she has already been legal for more than a year!

But there is something about seeing it screaming at you in big red numbers that can be seen from across the room.



Monday, April 12, 2010

Here's a Sign

The last few times I have seen characters on TV shows who have my name, they have all been over 40. Tonight, she is the ex-wife who was dumped because she was too old!

BTW: Neither of my kids (22 and 16) have ever gone to school with a girl who has my name. Every women I have ever met in the last few years who has the same name has been no more than 5 years younger than me.

(At least my name isn't Pearl! That would make me over 70.)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Weed is in the Eye of the Beholder


When I was young, I loved dandelions! There was a field near the grade school that would be solid yellow with dandelions in the early spring. I thought it was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen!

I can remember my friends and I hanging out there and even rolling in the field. We would check to see who likes butter and make necklace chains. The only downside was the liquid from the flowers turning black on our hands and clothes. (It was hard to wash off.)

After they went to seed, we would wish on the white puff heads of the flowers. For some reason, we thought if we found one that didn't have any seeds missing yet, we were more likely to have our wish come true. (I didn't end up marrying Michael from my third-grade class, so it probably did not make a difference.)

My dad had a different view of those beautiful yellow flowers. He hated them, using chemicals and a special digging tool to kill as many as possible. He even got irritated when neighbors were not as diligent about getting rid of the pests.

I didn't understand why something prettier than the grass could cause him so much irritation.

On a related note, when I was in high school my dad told the story of a co-worker who had a wild flower growing in his flower bed that he thought was beautiful. He was mulching it, watering it, using fertilizer and wanted my dad to stop by to see if he could identify it. When dad got there, he recognized the flower immediately -- it was a common thistle. Another weed.

As the first few dandelions are popping up in my yard, I still think they are beautiful. The bright yellow color still makes me happy! But, because my neighbors do not feel the same way, I kill them -- just like my dad did.

Now I wonder -- way back when people were deciding which plants were food, which were flowers, which were weeds, etc., who made the decision? People eat dandelions. Others even make wine from them.

So, who decided that a dandelion is not worthy, yet a rose, collard greens and grapes are? Who determined that the simple beautiful yellow flower is just a weed?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

I Read Obituaries

About a year ago, I had read the entire daily newspaper -- except the obituaries. Before that, I never read the obits because, well, my friends are young and if any relatives die I'll get a phone call. Because I was bored and did not really want to do what I had to do next (probably cleaning), I killed time by reading the obits.

That day I discovered an acquaintance of ours from our dart league days had died. His name was Gary, and though we weren't close, we always had a good time throwing darts with Gary and looked forward to seeing him at tournaments. The shocking thing to me -- Gary was younger than us! In fact, he was more than 10 years younger than us.

A few months later I was thinking about Gary and decided to scan the obits again. This time a member of my walking club had died. Becky was older than I am and had been sick for quite a while, so it was not shocking. Still, I always liked Becky and will miss her.

Since then, I've discovered the deaths of other people I know: members of my church, parents and spouses of friends and acquaintances... all in the newspaper.

Part of me is glad I was able to contact relatives and offer condolences. But then part of me is sad. How did my friends and I get old enough that I need to read the obituaries to check on them!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Laptop Computer vs IBM Selectric

The other night, one of our college kids came home for dinner. It was great hearing about her days: new friends, how her classes are going, studying at the local coffee shop...

"I used to do that," I said. "I would study at the Hardee's across the street from my dorm." The thought of me at sitting at the hamburger place brought out the humor in everyone. "So, did you take your typewriter with you?" she asked in a mocking tone.

At that moment, it hit me again how LONG it has been since I went to college and how things have changed!

You see, I had an IBM Selectric typewriter and it was the nicest typewriter in our dorm. It was a professional office-type machine with several font balls including italics and it erased! It was huge, took up my entire desk, weighed a ton and was the envy of all around. Those of you my age are probably sitting there with your mouths hanging open thinking, "Wow! That was a great typewriter!" These were the same typewriters used in our journalism writing classes.

Just before my freshman year, my dad's office was downsizing. (Yes, they did that in the late 70s and early 80s, too.) They had fewer secretaries (yes "secretaries," not "assistants") and the company was selling some of the office equipment. My dad bought the typewriter for me. What a great dad!

It's a totally different writing process when you have to re-type your paper over and over again because you changed your mind. And your typing skills get pretty precise when you can't just go back to the first paragraph and fix all of your misspelled words. And -- this was something I was VERY proud of -- I could spell! There was no spell check -- just me, my brain and a dictionary.

We took notes in class by hand and we actually studied our notes! If you needed a reference, you walked to the library to look in a book.

So, as I sit here on my deck in the beautiful sunshine typing this blog posting on my laptop computer, rewriting the first paragraph over and over again on a whim, getting ready to send it out to the world via the Internet, I think about how far we have come. The Selectric typewriter is gone, but then again, so is that Hardee's.
_______

One of my best college memories is of my news reporting class. One of Professor Lambert's favorite sayings was, "Journalism informs minds, public relations twists minds."

Finals for this class was "speed week." We would be required to type a certain number of news stories in just 2 hours from the information the professor provided. We would type the first story, proof our sheet of paper and make editing corrections on it, hand in the paper, and would then be handed our next story "assignment," just like working in a real news room. Points were taken off for misspellings, etc., but if you spelled someone's name wrong it was an automatic F.

Sometimes I still think, those were the days!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Learning from Annoying People

It is pretty obvious that we all learn from people we love. Starting with our parents, we learn all kinds of things from people who care about us and who we want to emulate.

Sometimes we also learn things we do NOT want to emulate. Not only am I a nonsmoker because my mom smoked, but I've learned all kinds of things from being around behaviors I dislike.

As I approach 50, I am amazed at how much I also learn about myself from seeing other people act like me -- and not in a good way. How often do we all think "Wow, that person is SO annoying!" If we really think about it, many of the traits we find annoying in other people are things that WE do ourselves!

This is not a totally new concept to me, but I thought about it recently. There was a person who was absolutely driving me nuts! I won't go into detail how this person was driving me nuts, but let's just say it was getting pretty bad. I was just about at my breaking point and was seriously thinking about how to approach it. Somehow that led to my thinking about the motivation on the part of the annoying person.

It was thinking about motivation that caused the "ah ha" moment for me. Suddenly it dawned on me that the things that were so annoying me are things I do! In fact, many of the things that other people do that bug me are also things I do! How do my friends stand me! (Obviously, they are much more patient than I am. I really dislike impatient people.)

The good news is, I'm only 49 -- I have plenty of time to work on these things and actively be less annoying. So the next time you are in the seat ahead of me on a plane, you should notice my being more considerate with my tray. And if you are driving in the car behind me, I'll be driving no slower than the speed limit and using my turn signals. And you will NOT find me talking on the phone while standing in line to buy something (tickets to a museum maybe?).

Wish me luck! I'm going to need it!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sex or Ice Cream?


Sometimes my male friends have TMI moments. Yesterday, my friend Henry had one of those moments.

Henry is about 2 years older than I am. I've known him for about 20 years. I've been married that entire time -- he's been married about 10 years.

Somehow yesterday the topic of sex came up in conversation. I think it started when I told him I'm turning 50 this year and he said, "Welcome to the club!" Following that statement, he proceeded to tell me how things change after the big 5-0. A lot of it was positive -- until he brought up sex.

"When I was younger and single, all I wanted was sex," he said. He described going out on the weekends with the main goal being to meet women to eventually have sex. Now, he confessed, his testosterone levels aren't as high, which has had an affect.

He told me it has nothing to do with his wife -- she is beautiful and he loves her. "Sometimes, though, I'm thinking, 'Do I want sex or do I want ice cream?'" With a somewhat embarrassed look on his face he admitted, "Sometimes I would really rather have a bowl of ice cream."

No one ever told us about this in our high school sex ed classes!

Photo from: http://www.freefoto.com/images/09/36/09_36_5_prev.jpg
______________

Disclaimer: Obviously, the name was changed to protect our friendship.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I Can't Open a Jar

I don't know how it happened, but suddenly I cannot open a jar! It used to be a little bit tough for me, but if I just hung in there I could do it. Sometimes I would just tap the lid. Other times I would run the jar lid under hot water. Years back, I would even get a knife and pry the lid just enough to release pressure and the jar would magically open.

Now, if I grab the lid too tight, my hands and wrists hurt. If I hold the lid too long, my hands and wrists hurt. I can't even grab the lid hard enough to get the feeling that with just a few more seconds it will pop. Using a dish towel or rubber lid grabber just do not work.

A few years back my mom gave me a weird contraption that looked sort of like a wrench, but had a piece of rubber that went around the lid and would tighten and get the lid off. I could never get it to work.

For the time being, I'm OK. I have a teenaged son and a husband, and usually one of them is around to help me out. But, if anything happens to them, I'm going to be stuck only buying stuff in cans. Thank goodness I can work my can opener!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Great Body -- But the Face!

The Arnold Sports Festival has been held in Columbus, OH for years. This is the first year I have ever attended any part of it.

While walking around the expo, one thing became abundantly clear -- though a lot of those body builders have really great bodies, their faces look really old! It's almost as if they completely forgot that tanning is bad and simply fried themselves.

Regardless, it was nearly impossible to determine anyone's age. Were they young with an old face? Or old with a young body?

Some of them have gotten smart and they now use spray on tans, which is cool. However, most of these women were orange. I don't mean they had a great tan with an orange tint, there were ORANGE and basically looked like large Oompa Loompas.

It's funny how when you get really involved in an activity that has its own culture, you want to dress and act like everyone else who is into that activity. Whether it is whitewater rafting where the guides wear Teva sandals and wool socks, or runners who wear their favorite race shirts at race expos, or even NASCAR fans who wear their favorite driver's number everywhere. You want to fit in and look like the other fans.

I understand the thinking. I especially understand that if you have worked that hard to have a great looking body, you do want to show it off. But who ever decided that orange skin is a great look really should be shot!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Thoughts on Mommy Blogs

This may irritate some people, but it is not intended to.

Though I am a mom, I have never been a "mommy blogger." Truth be told, I even had a bad attitude about them. The average woman has so much more to her than just being a mom, that I've always wondered about women who define themselves strictly in relation to their children.

Despite that, today I followed a link to a mommy blog that really touched me. The writer discussed how difficult it is to be a mom, how there is a lot of self doubt and guilt. She even mentioned seeing a mom crying as she pushed her child in a stroller, and how she reacted to that mom.

I didn't quite capture the emotion of the blog, but I'll just say my first thought was, "Wow! I've been there!" I've had the doubt and the guilt (don't even ask me about the school production of Grease) and lots of tears. It can be overwhelming.

Recently, I apologized to my 22-year-old daughter for some things I have felt guilty about for years. To me these were pretty big parenting mistakes and I felt horrible. I honestly thought she needed to know I had not intentionally failed her.

She turned to me and listed her major accomplishments (so far), which included that she will be graduating from college this June. After the fairly long and impressive list she said: I think I turned out OK. YOU need to get over it.

She is absolutely right. I need to get over it. (She knew I was flawed long before I did!) Parents are human beings. For whatever reason, no matter how good our intentions, we make mistakes. And if we are lucky, the things we do right will outnumber the mistakes. And if we are REALLY lucky, our mistakes will just make our kids stronger.

So, no, I am not a mommy blogger and I never will be. But based on the writing of one mom, I have a new respect for the women who do it well. It's not easy being a mom and it isn't easy being a good mommy blogger.

Tomorrow I'll probably feel a little guilty about my initial comments in this post.

Monday, March 1, 2010

This is a Joke -- Right?

On some odd cable channel this weekend I saw a commercial featuring Lee Majors, best known as The Six Million Dollar Man. The product was the Lee Majors Rechargeable Bionic Hearing Aid. Yes, you read that right -- Bionic Hearing Aid! "It won't cost you $6 Million, but you'll think it is worth it!"

I'm not quite sure how to feel about this. Should I be surprised that Steve Austin is old enough to need hearing aids? (He did have enhanced hearing, by the way.) Is it meant to be funny, like the William Shatner commercials where he makes light fun of himself? Is it just sad?

Growing up I loved both The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman. In the mid-70s when the show aired, I was about 14 years old. My friends and I would pretend to run in slow-motion and make the "bionic noise" -- you know the one. (Being that I had almost no athletic ability, the only way I ran was in slow motion.)

Even though Austin was just a TV character, he was a hero. He was cool! He saved the world! He was indestructible!

And now he is hawking hearing aids. What's next -- dentures?

I feel old.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Anna Pigeon is 49!

I like to read mysteries and thrillers. One of my favorite authors for light reading is Nevada Barr. The plot lines are adequately interesting and suspenseful, the characters are well developed, the dialogue is realistic and I love the fact that many stories involve national parks.

But my favorite thing about this author is her main character, Anna Pigeon, is my age!

Anna is tough, smart, strong, resourceful, brave and aging -- just like me! (Really, I'm tough -- I think.) She still can do the things she has done in all of her books: repelling, hiking long distances, rock climbing, white water rafting, and anything else a park ranger does. But in her most recent book, Anna complains about aches and pains, gray hair and the wrinkles on her face.

I'm liking Nevada Barr and Anna Pigeon more and more as the story of Borderline unfolds.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Nice Compliment Today

I haven't written in a while because I've been a little busier than usual, but I absolutely had to share this.

Today I was talking with a co-worker about different races I plan to travel to this year. I mentioned that I'm thinking about doing a full marathon to celebrate my 50th birthday. She was shocked. "You're turning 50?" she said in disbelief. "I can't believe you're going to be 50!" (The exclamation points were my interpretation.)

I don't normally tell people I'm turning 50. It even feels weird coming out of my mouth. And I'm never sure how to react to people's comments. Nothing feels natural right now.

But I have got to say, every time someone says I look younger than what they think 50 looks like, it makes it that much easier. If this keeps up, by the time December rolls around I'll be just fine!

Friday, February 19, 2010

American Idol Ramblings

Though not a big fan of the show, I do watch American Idol. (It's my family's fault, but that is a different story.) There are many very talented people who appear on the show, but I have very conflicted feelings about it.

I really hate the first auditions. This part of the show is just plain cruel. How on earth can a screener pick someone to see the judges knowing they are just plain horrible and the judges are going to publicly humiliate them? I know it is down for ratings, but is it necessary to pick the best and worst just to make fun of people? I do really wonder how the whole process works. How many screeners are there?

Once the group that goes to Hollywood is chosen, the show gets better. What I like about this part of the show is you hear each singer's genuine voice and they pick songs based on who THEY think they are. There is such variety, especially in voice tone. This year there are some women with really great gravelly 60s folk rock singer voices!

When the final 24 are chosen, and as the show progresses, a lot of that individuality is removed. Week by week as people are voted off, the finalists all start to sound the same. The ones that started out sounding different and cool either change to be like everyone else, or they end up leaving the show. The judges throw weird musical styles at these people taking them out of their comfort zones (which is not all bad) and then are amazed that no one can sing a Sinatra song like Sinatra and make it sound like a current hit at the same time.

There are exceptions -- Chris Daughtry and Adam Lambert kept their personalities -- but they didn't win.

So, I watched the beginning of this season enjoying the variety of really good musicians who made it to the top 24, and at the same time, I'm sad. What are they going to do to the two blond women (one with dreadlocks) who are amazing just as they are? What will happen to the goofy rock guy who reminds me of Jeff Conaway playing Kenickie?

I know, I know -- it is just a silly TV show that I don't even enjoy that much. I'm not even invested enough to know the singers' names! And is it any different from what most famous people have had to go through to make it in "Hollywood"?

I just hate seeing talented people, many more talented than stars who have very lucrative singing careers right now, turned into middle of the road pop singers. (Milquetoast is the word that comes to mind.) But then again, it is American Idol and the entire point is to find the next "pop star".
_________

Note about me: I cannot stand the vast majority of current music. Having grown up in the 70s, I just like rock music -- real instruments, real voices, good melody, no techno crap. I am not the demographic that American Idol is trying to reach. There are times when I am convinced there are a million 80-year-old grandmas doing the voting.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I Need a Snow Day!

On day's like this I wish I was still in school and could have a snow day. Unfortunately, I'm an adult with a real job, and they kind of expect me to show up, regardless of the weather.

Maybe next winter...

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Reminder -- It's the Calories!

After today's City Wrestling Meet, I gave a couple kids a ride home. As many people know, wrestlers are obsessed with weight. Though the coaches do not encourage the boys to lose weight, they don't discourage it either, and often the kids resort to unhealthy outdated methods, like avoiding eating for days on end.

One boy needs to lose a few pounds by Wednesday. Unfortunately, I found out after we had already decided to splurge on Chipotle for dinner. (The kids wrestled all day -- they could handle the extra calories.) This young man said not to worry about it, he would run the mile home and burn it all off!

I tried to explain to him that in order to lose weight, you have to burn more calories than you consume. He said that his mom said not to eat carbs.

ARGH!

I understand that high school kids are prone to following fads, but this is ridiculous. I'm continually amazed at the misinformation that continues to be spread.

Though I talked to him a little bit more about calories in and calories out, I could tell his eyes were glazing over, and he was not listening.

The wrestling season is almost over. There really isn't much I can do about it now. But if my son decides to wrestle again next year, I think I'll have a talk with the coaches about providing a nutrition program for the athletes

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Making My Hair Guy Sick

One of my New Year's resolutions was to visit my hair guy every month and avoid the "skunk" look. My hair has grown especially fast this past month and I should have seen him last week instead of waiting until today.

I knew something was wrong when I walked into his shop and I didn't see Dan anywhere. He yelled from the back that he would be out in a minute. Several minutes later he came out looking pale, was light headed and said he almost passed out.

I offered to come back in a couple of days and he said no -- my hair looked bad enough (my words, not his) he really wanted me to get color TODAY. While we talked, he got dizzy and had to sit down. All I kept thinking is, he is going to get half my hair colored and pass out.

Well, he insisted and mixed the color. All the while he applied it to my hair he was breathing hard and occasionally had to hold on to the counter for support. Oh boy!

Luckily, he got all of my hair covered, wrapped my head in a plastic bag held by a big black clip, put a towel around my shoulders and sent me on my way. I was happy I didn't have to stop anywhere on the way home. And fortunately, I did not get any auburn #5 on my car seat.

After an hour, I washed it out and except for needing to be cut it looks great!

Now here is my question: If my hair looks so bad my extremely ill hair guy insists on coloring it before he will go home, have I really kept my resolution? (And no, there are no photos. Though I thought about it, I decided I'm a little too vain for that.)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

10 Snowmen


I counted over 10 snowmen in the neighborhood tonight. One family was even creative enough to have a family of snow people roasting marshmallows over a fire! (My camera died, so I didn't get a very good photo of the family. I'll post them tomorrow!)

The snowmen reminded me of some really fun days the winter we lived in Omaha. I thought I knew what snow was since I lived my first few years in a city near Lake Erie. Can you say lake-effect snow?

Then we moved to Omaha, and learned that lake-effect snow is nothing compared to what happens in a really flat state. After plowing, the snow on the sides of the roads was well over 6 ft for most of that winter.

Maybe the year living in Nebraska is why I sometimes still really enjoy a good hard snow.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Enjoying Snow


For some odd reason, I am really enjoying the snow that has fallen over the last couple of days. The flakes have been big and fluffy. Everything is covered in a layer of white and the entire world is beautiful! (How does so much snow stay on top of such a thin branch?)

I love the way a thick layer of snow muffles all of the extraneous noise. It hasn't been overly cold, so it is nice being out in it. I haven't been able to get in as much walking as I would like, but right now I'm OK with that. I'll just enjoy the beautiful snow as long as it lasts!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Slightly Forgetful

I had planned to make rosemary chicken for dinner tonight. Crushed the garlic, got out the olive oil and lemon juice reached for the rosemary ... The cupboard is nearly empty, how could I forget I threw out the really old rosemary!

We ended up having something else for dinner. I went out for rosemary and we will have it tomorrow. (It needed to marinade anyway.)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Herbs as Life -- Or How Old is Old for an Herb?

Part of my "need for control" spree Saturday included organizing my herbs and spices. I prefer to have all of the spices in alphabetical order, though they don't often stay that way. (I know they don't stay that way because I found four cans of sage and two large containers of creole seasoning!)

After taking all of the bottles and cans out of the cupboard and arranging them on the counter, I noticed that several of the containers looked a little old. I started looking for expiration dates and was amazed at how few of them had expiration dates. What year did expiration dates on food products become the norm?

It was about this time I noticed that some of these spices were pretty inexpensive. How did I get allspice for 45 cents? Then I had to think: What is allspice and why would I have used it? I do remember when I bought that jar of cardamom -- back when I worked at a library 12 years ago and baked cardamom cookies for a medieval festival!

I was beginning to think that some of these containers might even be antiques. (The dry mustard was from my mother-in-law's house. She died 22 years ago!) I know the package designs have changed several times since some of the stuff was purchased.

So, using expiration date, price or assumed age of package design as criteria, I threw out anything that appeared old.

All that is left: red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, oregano, peppercorns, sea salt, basil, cumin and bay leaves. The cupboard is nearly empty and it feels pretty good!

Based on this one cupboard that I access almost every day, it made me realize that I can get pretty complacent. I am so used to having things around, I don't think about whether they are still useful or need to be replaced or pitched. What other areas of my house or my life can use this type of scrutiny and review? What else can I pitch or organize?

I know they were only jars of old mustard and allspice but it feels like so much more!
__________

BTW: This was actually the first cupboard I attacked this weekend. I got SO frustrated with the shelf paper, I threw out the pieces I cut because I could NOT get them to fit the cupboard. And I did end up thinning the coffee cup supply. They will end up going to Goodwill.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Why do I Need Shelf Paper?


Did you ever feel like things are out of control? When that happens to me, I need to take something small and clean the living daylights out of it!

Sometimes it's a closet, sometimes dresser drawers, refrigerator, bathroom cupboards or a section of basement. It doesn't matter what I organize, it's the taking control that is key. (It can't be too big, like the entire garage -- just something small.)

Columbus was snowed in today and I felt the need for control. So I decided to go through our coffee mugs and get rid of the ones we don't use or that are just plain ugly. That spread to going through drinking glasses and the rest of the everyday dish cabinet. Before I knew it, I had both cabinets totally empty and I was replacing the shelf paper!

Which led me to my complaint. First, who decided that we need shelf paper, and who was the idiot who decided that it needed just enough adhesive to stick to itself, but not to stick to the shelf?

It also turns out that my cupboards and shelves are not the standard size. I finally got smart. Instead of trying to cut each section for both length and width (I could not find an Exacto knife), I cut 2 inches off the end of the entire roll with a carpet knife. I also got tape out to hold down the corners. Getting the shelf paper straight and without wrinkles doubled the amount of time I had planned to spend on this project!

So two cupboards are clean and I have gained some control. And it has finally stopped snowing. But I still have to wonder -- who was it that invented that horrible shelf paper!
__________

One of my clean cupboards with wrinkled, blue shelf paper. The blue wine glass used to have a match, but I broke it.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

I Hate Being an Adult

Recently I inherited a small amount of money that will make a difference in our lives. I have a million plans for that money that includes a new kitchen, great new wardrobes for everyone, trips all over the world and probably new cars AFTER we invest in our IRAs.

The trips are what I am most excited about! (And a new kitchen. My refrigerator is avocado.) I'd LOVE to hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, spend a few days and then hike back out. I was hoping we could go to Cozumel for our anniversary. We had promised our son a trip to San Diego, we've talked for years about going to Germany and there are a million half marathons I want to enter.

If I took every single trip I have in mind, well, I would spend that small amount of money many, many times over! (I'm not the Federal government. I'm not allowed trillions in deficit spending.)

It's depressing, but there are other things that are much more important than these trips and renovations, and a lot less fun and exciting. I don't need to list them -- you all know what they are.

Sometimes I really HATE having to be an adult!