Friday, July 19, 2013

Tied Up in Knots

  Upon turning 49, I had a terrible realization that I only had one year left before I was 50.  I'm not sure what great difference there is in being 49 and being 50, but that voice in my head was screaming, "Hurry up and do something before it's too late!"  Turning 29 had the same effect on me and left me scrambling to enjoy ever last minute of a decade that would soon be gone. So, as I sat here last night, perusing my birthday gifts of perfume, blinged out slippers, a jar of cash and a bottle of tequila, something hit me.  I want to enter my fifties as if I was 29 again and not be some sloth on the couch overwhelmed from work, heat, bills and other weights of the world.  Renewed with a goal, I donned my shiny slippers and got my body in motion.

  Suddenly a woman on a mission, I tore open the entertainment cabinet and dug out the old Deepak Chopra tapes and unopened Zumba DVDs purchased during a late night binge of cookies, milk and infomercials.  Then I found it.... "Beginner's Yoga."  My yoga mat had been safely stored behind the entertainment unit for more months than I prefer to admit and was a tad bit dusty.  I plopped it on the ground in a cloud of dust, popped the DVD in and began my journey to look like that woman on my television who stood before the Hawaiian shores filled with focus, grace and anything but chocolate chip cookies and high fat beverages.  Granted, she didn't have sparkly glitter shoes, like I did, but you can't have everything.

  She welcomed me and I looked around to see who might be witnessing me befriend a character on my television and took comfort that I was alone in my madness.  The dog walked in and took its place on my yoga mat and I promptly nudged her off with my yoga feet.   My new friend and I stretched our arms to the sky as we welcomed the day.  I realized it was ten o'clock at night but my DVD broke and I can't skip chapters, so I have no way to select the evening yoga workout.   I am permanently stuck with the "Morning Yoga" routine until I invest in a new DVD.   I felt fairly successful stretching my spine and lengthening my body until the yoga teacher threw in new requirements.... soften your jaw....lighten your eyes... honor your space... inhale, exhale, over and over.   I was twisting and breathing and stepping on the dog, trying to exhale the bad and inhale life but it was masked by the glorious smell of birthday cake from the kitchen.  I learned the Downward Dog and Sun Salutation poses and as I tried to balance on one hand, locate the television screen with my head under my arm and stretch my spine, I realized that these were not new moves to me as I had used these same skills in a crazed game of Twister with my children.  Downward Dog was pretty much the same as left hand yellow and right foot blue.  I could do this if my eyes weren't covered by my leg or the dog wasn't wedged underneath my feet.  As I twisted into odd positions and the dog had taken over my yoga mat beneath me, I spied the bottle of tequila sitting on the counter next to the birthday cake.  Both looked terribly inviting and I abandoned my focused stretching, donned my shiny shoes, left the dog to sleep on my mat and wandered off to find my family to join me with some late night birthday cake.

  Today is 49 plus one day and I will greet the world with giant stretches meant to open my spine and return my youth.  If I fail to make it all the way through the morning exercise routine again, at least I will have sexy shoes, light eyes and a soft jaw.  That has to count for something!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Burning the Candle at Both Ends

  Apparently, you can burn a candle at both ends.  I know this because I found a very good deal on candles and bought 144 votives for $5.  I never thought to pick one up and see why it was such a good deal.  Since they simply will not sit properly in a candle holder, I will stash them away in my "Emergency/End of Days/Alien Invasion/Someone Didn't Pay the Light Bill" kit. They will be safe among the ammunition, junk silver, jars of dried beans and Family Pack of Twizzlers.  Should I find myself in the dark, I will be twice as prepared.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Once Around the Bend

    We are not a canoeing family.  While I like to think that we are, nothing could be further from the truth.  My children have not properly been exposed to manually operated watercraft other than the deluxe inflatable pool lounge with cup holder that floats about our pool.  There's a reason for this and has nothing to do with the fear of open waterways.  My husband and I have different visions of floating down a river.  Mine involves a leisurely four hour float to a tastefully decorated cabin where steaks are sizzling on the grill.  My husband's plan for a water adventure involves entering the river where normal people take out, a 23 mile trek through a canyon with no cell phone signal and catching, cleaning, and preparing our own food along the way.  If I have to strap a knife to my leg to ensure an outing is successful, I tend to avoid it. So, for eighteen years, we've been unable to merge our visions of floating down the rivers of the South and stick to watercraft with engines where we can putter around the lake with ease.

    During a recent road-trip with my children, I made a surprise detour to Devil's Den State Park so I could take my kids canoeing in the upper lake above the dam.  We had been there years earlier and I have fond memories of floating on the lake with my toddlers properly and safely secured in the canoe.  We sailed around the tiny island with ease and my children squealed with delight each time we spotted a turtle, a hawk and even one snake.  It was a marvelous outing, once upon a time.

    This time, upon arrival to the lake, my children did not jump from the car to run to the canoe with wild abandon.  Instead, my daughter roamed the parking lot desperately attempting to find the last shreds of cell phone signal that may have drifted down into the hollow for she had been in mid-conversation with friends from home and now she was suddenly unreachable. My son sized up the situation and carefully removed electronic devices and expensive sunglasses, properly safeguarding them in the trunk of the car.  After giving up on modern conveniences, they joined me at the water's edge where I paid $5 for a 30 minute canoe adventure.  Three more dollars would have bought me an hour, but I knew this wasn't going to last long.  In the searing afternoon heat, we grabbed our paddles and life jackets and began the walk to our boat of choice.  Certain we looked like Larry, Curly and Mo, as we tripped over our paddles and stepped on the life jacket cords, we somehow made it to the dock without injury.

    Allie immediately stepped into the canoe like she was stepping onto a yacht and discovered that balance is key in a canoe.  I caught her by the arm and explained the new rules of canoeing. The first problem we encountered was the fact that the canoe had two seats and we had three people.  I assumed Allie would sit in the middle, on the bottom of the canoe.  That lasted until my son stepped in and the dirty water from the back of the canoe came racing down to soak the person sitting in the middle.  Terrified of germs that could possibly be from prior canoe people, Allie jumped from the bottom of the boat to sit on the black plastic seat that had been baking in the hot Southern sun.  Having your skin bond to the seat was the lesser of two evils and she remained on her perch to avoid the germ infested waters that I suddenly realized I would surely be taking my place in.   I accidentally dropped our bottles of water into the canoe sludge and Allie announced, "I'm not drinking that," as if we thought she would.

    Before too long, we were all perfectly seated with me in the middle and we were ready to go.... until I realized that nobody had untied us from the pier.  This was not Six Flags where someone pushes you off on your adventure.  There was a group of small children with no parental supervision who were sitting on the dock, but I opted not to employ their help as one of them had already fallen in the water and had to be rescued by a stranger. Much like a balancing act of Cirque du Soleil, I pulled myself up from the bottom of the canoe and climbed back onto the dock to free us from our bonds.  As the canoe began to drift from the dock, my son extended me a paddle and I jumped back in to take my place in the middle.  We all began paddling in different directions and found that this was getting us nowhere.  As my daughter announced we were drifting towards the dam, we suddenly developed a plan and began paddling in the opposite direction.  Just as Joey and I worked up some momentum, Allie stuck her paddle in the water to poke a turtle, thus slowing us down and spinning us in the wrong direction.  It didn't take long to figure out that this wasn't working and I opted to get some pictures, instead.  Allie heard the words "Take Your Picture" and immediately stood up in the front of the boat to pose.  Joey and I yelled at her to sit down and somehow we avoiding tipping over.  Still certain of her balancing skills, she stood up again.  We held on tight and yelled a little louder.   We never actually made it around the bend towards the island, but we did all find our inner canoeist.  Joey's job was to row from the back and ensure we made it back to the dock. My job was to redirect the water freely flowing back and forth inside the canoe to avoid soaking my pants or touching Allie's feet.  Her job was to ride in the front like a Princess and whack the paddles in the water to drive turtles to the surface for her viewing pleasure.

    It was a short trip in our canoe and was less than successful if we actually had a goal of traveling from point A to Point B.  But it was great fun and we laughed all the way.   We embraced our lack of canoeing skills or ability to work as a team and somehow made our way back to the dock where a man with two small children was beginning their canoe adventure.  I thought to myself, "You'll make it around the bend on this trip, but give it fifteen years and it's a whole new experience."  Once around the bend had been good enough for me.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Spam Isn't Just for Breakfast Anymore

  I have developed an interesting new hobby that fills my time while I wait in doctor's offices or at airports with nothing to do.  I have discovered the fun that exists in my Spam folder.  I always knew it was there, filtering out the messages sure to deliver viruses, empty promises and mail order brides.  My friends in Spam are many.

  Andre Ouedraogo has written on multiple occasions and has been waiting for my response for weeks. While I don't want to be his business partner and receive $11.2 million dollars, I do have a strange desire to play Scrabble with this man of many vowels. Bento Desmond has some pictures he wants to share with me and unless they are digital images of my dog from the Wal-Mart photo department, I'm going to have to look the other way. Michael Osei, who suggests that we are dear friends, is a manager of a financial institution and needs me to care for an orphaned child from a country I'm not sure exists. In exchange for taking this child in and providing my banking information, I will receive several more million dollars.  Who would have thought the Spam folder held such opportunities? An individual named Mira Razak is sorry for invading my privacy, but has some important information for me.  If all of this wasn't good enough, I have several notices that I've won an iPhone, a cruise, and a Final Award Winning Prize that can only be identified and claimed once I share my banking info with the UK Economic Minister.

  My son and I have both received letters from Dr. Nabieh Khrastine who is running from fire on a mountain and yet, in his escape to safety, he is filled with good investment ideas that we might be interested in.  I'm curious how one gets internet on a burning mountain as I reside in the city and can't get a quality connection because I live at the end of the street.   Mrs. Amanda Johnson wrote me from her death bed and needs me to help her sort out her will.  A woman I've never met wants me to manage her finances.  Does she know me, I have to ask. It took me twenty years to figure out that credit cards were gifts from the devil himself.

  I have to wonder who replies to these open invitations to fortune, fame, and depleted bank accounts.   Sassy Sara and Gina Pena have recently begun writing and while their names are cute, I doubt they can be trusted. Amy Hacker is bold and while she promises a career in the movies, her clear objective is right there in her screen name.  Robert Muller writes every day and I have to admit that I thought he was the "Feed the Children" guy and almost moved him to regular mail. Then I discovered he was selling romantic mind control.  I admit, I'm as curious about this as I am about the fiery mountain for I'm just not sure what romantic mind control is. Does it give the ability to make others swoon in your presence or leave daisies at your door? I may have to flag that email for further review.

  Between the requests from the Ivory Coast for banking information, the promise of Russian brides and mail order meds, I could spend all day perusing my SPAM folder.   Of course, just as I get ready to send a scolding reply, my wait is over and I head off to the dental chair or exam room where I then spend an hour studying the anatomical charts on the walls and convince myself that I would have made a great doctor. Of course, I have an email in my Spam folder that can make that happen for $99 and a valid shipping address.   - Dr. B

Oh yes... You know you want to know why I have a bat icon on my phone.....

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Not So Easy Chair

  Archie Bunker had a chair.  It was a good chair that he came home to each night after a long day at work.  After a nice dinner, he relocated to his chair where he enjoyed watching television and rested until bed time.   As I headed to work yesterday,  I realized that I do not have a chair like his and wondered where our lives took different paths.   When I come home from work, I've already received numerous phone calls and text messages from my family demanding to know answers to important questions such as, "When is my eyebrow appointment" and "Where are my socks?"   Upon arrival to the house, the dog greets me only because she wants to make sure I don't know that she has been lounging on my couch or nosing through my pantry.  My husband is perched by the pool, donning a red bandanna, dripping in sweat, because he somehow chooses the hottest days of the year to split wood or relocate fencing, both things nobody does in the 104 degree heat. When I enter the house, I have no Edith greeting me with a tasty meal.  I step lightly to avoid a stray Nerf dart that may be flying down the hallway.  The kitchen is quiet and any hint of dinner can be found in the freezer waiting for me to create magic in thirty minutes or less.  The children are armed and ready with beach bags and cell phones ready to be transported to their friend's houses or the ball park.

  Several hours later, I have prepared dinner, done two loads of laundry, waved at my friends as I pass them on the road, traveled miles out of my way to retrieve a forgotten cell phone, dropped by the grocery store for fresh milk and finally returned home where the only chair in the living room is waiting on me with a pile of towels that need to be folded.  This is certainly not the kind of chair Mr. Bunker had and it is clear to me that we shop at different furniture stores.

  While I don't have an Archie Bunker chair, I'm certain that he did not have a band of children anxious to share with him their latest stunts, videos, songs, dances and more.  I doubt he ever walked in his kitchen at two a.m. to find teenagers with night vision goggles engaged in full scale Nerf Combat.  I doubt that he ever looked in his glove box, found a box of mints and said, "Hmmmm  - this looks like breakfast."  Our lives are in fast forward and there seems to be no sign of slowing down and relaxing.  Should I ever find a chair like Archie's, I can only hope that I have a lifetime full of memories to reflect on while I sink down in the comfort of my easy chair.  

Early Retirement and the Great Resignation

        At the age of 57, I stared at my 35 year career, whispered a polite thank you to the heavens and hit the send button on my retiremen...