Tag Archives: humor

Miss Smartypants Bites The Dust

So for some reason I’ve been putting off writing this blog. I could plead fatigue. I could plead that my worries are so small in the face of all the disasters around us that I’m embarrassed to focus on me. But I realize most of it is avoidance and denial.

Our mother always said: Pride comes before a fall. This can be a crippling refrain if it plays constantly on your brain’s radio dial. But in the story I’m about to tell, it plays a big part. I let my ego take control and it all got out of hand.

I was so proud of myself at the beginning of May. Here was my mindset: Seventy-one years old and close to being in the best shape of my life!! Walking four to five miles a day, working out, doing yoga, eating well (well, mostly well), and in fantastic health. Working on my memoir, writing short stories, writing my blog! And I only needed 6 hours or less of sleep a night! Others around me might be aging, but not me!! I was like good wine. (Muscato fine vintage.)

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Then on May 25th, I got a sore throat. But because of allergies, I often get a sore throat and then it goes away. Or if I get a cold, I easily get over it. Positive thinking and meditation helped with that. I even wrote a funny blog about how sick I felt. But after a month, it wasn’t so funny. I made it to the important things like my grandson’s high school graduation, but I’d have to rest all day. My brain was a little fuzzy—I’d mean to say kitten but I’d say cotton. Even though I couldn’t manage to go to a manicure appointment (that should have told me how sick I was) I managed to finish a memoir piece about being sexually harassed when I taught school in the Sixties.

And I did start to get better. “I can tell I’m turning the corner,” I’d say to people when they asked if I’d gone to the doctor. “Look at Rachel Maddow. She had this thing too and it knocked her out of work for over a week.”

But then I started to get worse. I began to feel like a vintage wreck.

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“You’re still coughing?” my son said at the beginning of July when they returned from their trip to Thailand. “What did the doctor say?”

Well, unfortunately my doctor was away on a trip also. And it was a holiday weekend. I found out a month later that no one had really read the results of my chest X-ray to see the pneumonia and other issues. So I kept going like the little engine that could barely get up the hill. I thought I should be done with a cold so I started walking three miles. Yeah, not so smart.

After two months I went to Seattle. My daughter took one look at me and called her doctor. We went first thing the next morning: her doctor diagnosed walking pneumonia and I got on an antibiotic. It probably would have been better if she had said I had lying down pneumonia or stop what you’re doing pneumonia because I thought I could still walk around. Me, who thinks I’m so smart, just didn’t hear the message that I needed a lot of rest.

I guess my hearing is non-existent when I’m supposed to be listening to my body. I always push myself beyond my limits so was I going to quit now? No, not me. I went to Canada as planned and to the Bruno Mars concert. IMG_1719

 

I didn’t cancel plans with friends in Seattle though I was having trouble breathing, especially in the smoke filled air. I couldn’t really talk because it made me cough, but I went to a party and tried.

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I could go on and on, and I did. When we got back home, I finally shut down.

 

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So now we’re past the third month. I am better. I am. I’m trying to do less while keeping up with must get done. I prioritize better.

I’m not good at staying in bed. I get antsy. Fortunately, I’ve kept busy at home with little projects. Researching sponges was fun!

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Yes, I did become addicted to Facebook and the news.

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I found Facebook to be similar to leafing through magazines in the old days when you were sick. Oh, and shopping online!

I always try to learn from my experiences. This time I’ve learned that I’m an idiot. My husband is happy with that thought, and the fact that I’m no longer giving him advice on how he should follow doctor’s orders. The blind can’t tell others how to see.

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Okay, there’s more to this story, but I’m tired. I think I might listen to the doctor’s advice and go rest. He did go to medical school, after all.

 

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Believe it or not: I Found a Hair Volumizing Product that works!

This is a message for those of you who are folliclly-challenged. The rest of you who have full, thick heads of hair probably won’t be interested, including my sister who was handed out all the hair anyone could ever want at birth. She still has lots of hair she can have fun with.

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I, myself, would do almost anything to have thicker hair…and I probably have. I can resist other types of products but if anything has “MORE VOLUME” written on it, I buy it. I have more products under my sink than Johnny Appleseed had seeds. IMG_1646

Some of these things above have been helpful but I want to announce that I have found a new hair produce that actually seems to work: Toppik Hair Fattener.

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It is giving my limp, lifeless strands more body! Just a little before I blow dry and my hair is so much thicker. How it works, I don’t know. I’m just seeing with my own eyes that it does.

I am obsessed by hair. When I’m in a crowd, after I’ve checked that no one is carrying a suspicious package, I’m checking out everyone’s hair. I can honestly say it’s the first and last thing I notice about a person. “Why can’t I have a swinging ponytail?” I mutter under my breath as I watch a woman walk by. “Why can’t I have a thick bob?” I whine to myself. You can’t really let people know how you feel about this, especially when there are children starving and good friends are losing all their hair to chemo. But, I know I can confide in you.

My story of hair deprivation begins early and with a mother who had scads of hair. You can see that she’s already wondering if the bow will cover the bald spot. I’m already questioning the fairness of the Universe: why I didn’t get the thick hair genetics?

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By nursery school, my hair wasn’t lush like my friend, Chi Chi’s in the foreground, but it wasn’t bad except for the bangs. I’d suffered a burn to my forehead so the bangs had to be short.

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Grade school I don’t know how my hair looked because I didn’t care. By the end of high school I got interested, but the results were mixed.

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In the Sixties, big hair was in. Everyone teased and sprayed and wore these little dome wiglets on top of our own hair.

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I wore one at my wedding:

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That began my life long love of wigs and falls. Here my granddaughter is modeling one.

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An extension of the wig is extensions, which I adored when I wore them. Unfortunately, they are hard on the hair, creating more hair loss.

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My amount of good hair days compared to bad is miniscule. My hair is not only thin, it’s baby soft. Also it has just enough curl to cause problems, better known as frizz. My hair won’t stay down or straight. ( My oldest granddaughter and I were measuring the other day to see how tall she is now. My son said if you discounted my Afro, she’s as tall as I am.) My hair is unable to withstand humidity or a windy day. If anybody touches it, they run the risk of great personal injury. I almost divorced my husband once when he insisted on driving his father’s classic 280SL with the top down to a party. Has he no sensitivity?

In order to counter effect my reality, I wear a lot of hats. And once I wear a hat, I can never take it off until I get home. If anyone playfully tried to take it off, they’d probably lose a hand.

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I grade photos of me on how good my hair looks. Here’s a couple of examples:

You might think I like this photo because my little grandsons who are now 18 and 19 look so adorable. No, it’s because my hair looks great!

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Here’s another one. You might think I like it because I’m with Charles Schultz at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference–nope, I like my hair.

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I do like the following one because I had a great lunch with Judy Blume, but also my extensions looked fabulous:

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You might think I like the next one because it records a very special time, but get a load of my hair! It looks amazing! It lasted through the B’nai Mitzvah ceremonies and then it was toast for the next ten days.

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You might think I like this one because I’m surrounded by my family. I do, but the hair is the main thing–it looks thick!

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Besides just having lousy hair, I have a long and sad history with hair loss. Each time I had a kid, my hairline receded a bit. I had a widow’s peak before them.

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Widow’s peak was gone after. (I wanted to have three kids, but I guess it was prudent that we stopped at two.)

When I had malaria, my hair fell out in handfuls. And then grew back sparsely. That’s when I joined the American Hair Loss Association.

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My dermatologist saved my sanity when she suggested Kenalog injections. She felt that the malaria had sent some of my follicles into a dormant state and they could be “reawakened.” Yes the injections hurt but they worked!!! And yes, I’d do it again in a second.

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This is the photo I had my daughter take of me a couple of weeks ago, trying to show I was getting better from the virus. Actually, we had to do it that night because I’d had my hair done earlier in the day and it looked good. No matter that I needed my bed, I wasn’t going to waste any opportunity.

So now you know more about me, probably more than I’d reveal on an every day basis.  Probably TMI, actually. But if you’re interested in any other products I’ve found useful, just ask. Oh, and for those of you who have oodles of hair

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and tell me how difficult it is to take care of, (you know who you are) be nice to me and others like me. You never know when we’re carrying scissors.

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All About Me! or Get Her Well and Shut Her Up!

Since there’s nothing happening much in the news, I thought I’d give you all an update on my health! I mean, let’s keep what’s important in perspective, right?

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I’m well into week 5 of this virus, no pun intended. I do think I turned a corner last week in that I’m not as flat-out sick as I was. But still, once I start feeling tired, I’m done. There’s no cushion to the fatigue. And once it comes, so does the cough, which tires me out more.

I’d like to first say that I have so much more compassion for people who have chronic illnesses. And I’d like to say that I’m sorry for not understanding how debilitated a person can be. I now understand why people become incommunicado—it’s just too much work to get in touch. It takes too much energy to go to lunch or even have a manicure. I don’t mean to say that my virus is on the par of chronic illness—I fully realize it’s just a virus. But it’s given me a taste of what people go through.

I think it also gave me a taste of what I may be like when I’m old, in my late 90’s. Right now my energy bank is not very full. I rest a couple of hours a day, especially if I have to go to an event. Otherwise, I wouldn’t make it. I make tradeoffs, also. If I’m going to go to the grocery store, I can’t take a walk or go to yoga. Not enough energy to cover both.

But I’m grateful that I’ve been able to do the important things this month. I made it to my grandson’s high school graduation and to my granddaughter’s dance recital. I made it to my daughter’s birthday and to our neighbor’s birthday. I made it to the family celebration of birthdays, Fathers Days, graduations and anniversaries. I even finished the chapter I’d been working on.

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I couldn’t eat much with this virus—too tired and slightly nauseous from the fever—so I lost a few pounds. (there has to be a silver lining!). My brother saw one of the family celebration pictures and thought I looked too thin.

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So last Friday, after I had my hair cut, I put on a lot of make up and had my daughter take my picture. That way I could show Steve I felt much better.

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One disturbing thing I realized during this siege is that if you don’t feel well, you make a lot of mistakes. My mind was kinda fuzzy—from the virus or the meds, I don’t know. I tried to keep going and accomplishing, but I’d come back to find out I hadn’t actually finished a task or had not done something correctly. Imagine if I were your pilot! Or your lab technician.

I want to thank everyone for the good advice, encouraging words and help. I did go to the doctor three times and I did get a chest X-ray. I did take more vitamins and kept up my fluids. Part of it was fear engendered by midnight coughing fits. Didn’t Jim Henson die of pneumonia? I’d think as I chugged cough medicine. Oh, and that reminds me. I had a lot of trouble with cough medicine—I tried it with codeine and I had weird dreams and sores in my mouth. And most over-the-counter ones have sucralose in them, of all things.

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A final thought: I realize as I read this over, that I must be very grateful to be such a healthy 71-year-old. If I can complain so much about this virus, I’m mostly in good health! I may be a rust bucket but I have classic lines!

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Too Cool For School? Not Me

I don’t know about you, but I have an affliction: when I try to be cool, I end up looking like a fool.

I think this all started at the end of junior high. Until that time I was a confirmed bookworm who never had time to think of things like being cool—my nose was always in a novel so I rarely registered where I really was in time or place. Nor did I care about how I looked or what I wore. Not until the day I saw Gloria wearing a cool sweater with a dickie collar. Wow, I really wanted one!

The poodle skirt phase was before my time, but I craved having a dickie collar.

I think I probably also wanted to look like the girl in the picture below. She was so white–so American. From her loafers to her plaid skirt to the shutters on her house, she personified the kind of girl who scared me to death. But I wanted to imitate.

Next thing I knew, I really wanted to shop at the Bon.

None of this was happening for me as my mother was against all of it. She thought shopping at Lerner’s was just fine for me. Somehow I wangled white bucks out of my dad.

The coolest was the white buck bag that accompanied them—it came out in almost every class so I could apply a little of whatever that powder was to my shoes, whether they needed it or not.

My mother did loosen up enough to buy me pedal pushers and saddle shoes, which was a great victory.

I was 14 when I started high school—being young was a disadvantage to coolness. I joined this high school sorority to be cooler and started smoking to be cooler still. But it really didn’t work.

I still wasn’t cool. Which was fine at Garfield High School. Just getting to go to school there was cool enough.

In my heart of hearts, I was still a nerd who loved being in the library more than anything.

This continued on into college. I loved to study. Well, maybe not loved—but I admit to liking it a lot. At the University of Washington, I used to study at Balmer Hall—it had big tables where I could spread out my books, notebooks, three pens with different colored inks, index cards and ruler. I remember one day acting very cool as I walked by a group of guys, pretending not to see them. I walked straight into a huge ash can that tipped over, spreading sand and cigarette butts across the floor. I can still hear the clang of the metal as it bumped over the floor. Not so cool, after all.

As I get older, a lot of my “too cool for school” episodes involve falls and/or being a know-it-all. My mother always said, “Pride goes before a fall,”—it seems my karma is to act that out again and again. It’s not that I’m unsteady on my feet…yet. I go to yoga to practice my balance and work out to keep my strength up. No, it’s more that I don’t pay attention to my surroundings.

Usually, before it happens, I’ve just congratulated myself on my fitness, and that my skinned knees and elbows have finally healed. (It takes so much longer now.) I’m thinking things like, I’m doing pretty darn well for a 70-year-old!

Like on our 50th anniversary. I wore a flowing dress and my new diamond ring—I felt youthful and beautiful.

As we walked up a few stairs into the oceanside restaurant, I was handed a glass of champagne. How sophisticated and cool is this, I thought.

I stepped forward to take the champagne, not realizing I was on the edge of the lanai. Yes, I stepped into empty space. I tried to get back onto the stair and keep my balance, but couldn’t quite do it. I started falling backwards and decided the wisest course was to just go with it. Fortunately it was only a short distance into the flowerbed. The horrified onlookers did give me points for the gracefulness of my descent. Except for a few scratches and a rip in my dress, I was just shaken, but unhurt.

My final point about being cool or being a fool concerns my fondness for getting things right. It’s not that I say, “I told you so,” (although I do roll my eyes quite a bit). Like when we were traveling in the Galapagos and Peru with friends. I was wise and ate according to the rules we’d be given. The rest of them ate off the street and tried the national dish, guinea pig. What fools, I thought, as they all succumbed to Inca Revenge, and asked to borrow Imodium.

I, on the other hand, was so cool that I had nary a stomach cramp. Until we got home. Then the 105 degree fever that goes with malaria hit me. Not so cool after that.

Another problem is that I try to stay current technologically: I’m so cool that I use the Internet all the time. This leads me to buy gadgets, which I can’t figure out how to use. Like this electric wine opener. You have to admit it looks cool and very high tech, but I can’t even figure out how to put it in the charger unit. Now, I don’t know what to do with it.

I hate to say it, but being cool is just not my thing. At this point, it’s a battle to keep from making that old saying true: There’s no fool like an old fool! 🙂

 

 

 

Need to Know Basis

I want to start worrying about getting old again. I want to worry about my crow’s feet turning into pigeon’s feet. I want to feel bad that when I wave my arm, my sagging skin keeps flapping like a loose sail. I want to worry about whether I should be buying a cemetery plot rather than worrying if there’s a plot to bring down America as I’ve known it.

I want to worry about not being able to remember anyone’s name. Is it dementia creeping up on me or overload? Because all of a sudden I need to know a lot of names that I just took for granted before.

I can be naïve—I used to think banks existed for me to deposit my money in. Bankers were there to help and protect me. That’s what I thought about our government too. I thought the elected officials would act in the best interest of the country as a whole. So complacent was I that I didn’t worry about officials’ actions or know their names. I admit I still don’t want to know the name of the Speaker of the House is Paul Ryan or the senator from New York is Amy Schumer’s cousin. I don’t want to know that Mitch McConnell is from Kentucky. I’d like to feel everything was going to be all right and I could obsess over my bunions.

I want to worry about my weight. That would be so refreshing instead of worrying about my granddaughter taking ballet at our local JCC. And I’d like to fret about whether I should join the American Hair Loss Association or just quit coloring my hair.

I’d like to have trouble falling asleep at night thinking about how time is flying rather than thinking about neighbors who could be deported in an instant. I’d like to have time to think about whether Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty screwed up because they are old farts instead of needing to think nonstop about the deep divisions in our country.

I’d like to worry again about how short a skirt a woman my age can wear. And whether I can read a Jodi Picoult book without getting my heart broken. I’d even like to worry about how I can get my husband to drink enough water. That I know is a lost cause. I just hope our country isn’t.

New Year, Not so New Resolutions

This is my new year’s resolution blog. You might think it’s too late for it but it’s only January 15. 2017 is just two weeks old. Still a baby!

Anyway, one of my resolutions is to stop rushing around like a chicken with my head cut off. (You might think this is a cliché but my husband actually got to see the phenomenon. In the old days of his Ancestors.com, a newly built home was blessed by cutting the head off a chicken. The vision of the chicken running around their yard featured in my husband’s nightmares for years.)

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As for my resolutions:

I have resolved to stop multi-tasking and to slow down. We had dinner with friends last night and she asked me what I’ve doing. “Since we’re in Hawaii, are you sitting around and relaxing?” she added.

I shook my head. “You know me. That just doesn’t happen. But, I’m trying. As soon as I get caught up with everything, I’m going to put relaxing into my day. It’s one of my new year’s resolutions.” It’s that I so rarely get caught up. Then something happens, either good or bad, and I’m behind again. I didn’t think I’d have this problem in my 70’s. Still.

I find that every year I resolve pretty much the same thing. Writing that, it reminded me that two years ago I printed out my 2015 resolutions and taped them to my computer. I was supposed to look at them every day but then I forgot they were there until just now. Oh well, one of my resolutions this year is to give up trying to do everything right. That leads to perfectionism, which means you’re polishing things at midnight, be it silver or words. It also means there’s constant judgment being aimed at my endeavors. Mother has been dead twenty years but she still is holding up the signs and there’s never been a 10. So time to get over it!

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Now, I’m looking at my list on the computer, and I like it. I haven’t accomplished any of the items, but they still seem like worthy goals. They aren’t global but more about me taking care of me. As a Grandiose Co-Dependent, I’m good at taking care of others, especially in the way I see fit. Taking care of me can go sideways.

No more procrastinating: here goes:

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  1. Be happy with myself at my age.
  2. Stretch after my walk.
  3. Eat Healthy.
  4. Do one thing at a time. Finish it.
  5. Think the thought that makes me feel good. Work on reducing anxiety.
  1. Write a blog every two weeks. Write every day.

 

All of this should keep me busy. I told myself just the other day, “You better learn to be happy with your age, or you’re going to be constantly depressed. Stop looking at your arm and wanting it to be firmly muscled. Ain’t happening. Be happy if it is has a muscle at all.”

Which reminds me—this getting older is not so much fun sometimes. Keeping healthy is more than a full time job. Cancer knocks on your door and comes in uninvited. Strokes and heart attacks and dementia are only a Plavix away. Friends and relatives are getting really sick or dying. I finally get it when people say, “This is not a dress rehearsal.”

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So, I guess my main resolution is that I’m going to do less and enjoy it more. (Okay, friends and relatives, stop snorting.)

 

 

 

 

Turning Seventy is Sublime

 

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I am in the middle of writing an essay about how wonderful it is to be 70. I started it in January, but got caught up in other things and in writing a memoir piece. So now I’m almost half way to being 71. With luck and time, I will finish the essay before that birthday.

Meanwhile, I’m going to share some thoughts. On my 70th, I was determined to not look or feel my age. It was a lot of work! Now I’m purposefully slowing down—as a matter of fact, I took myself out of the race. I’m not so touchy about people holding a door open for me or asking to help me with my grocery bags. I don’t have to be in charge. I don’t have to be the responsible one. I don’t have to try proving that I’m as strong and capable as I once was. I can surrender to the aging. I can admit that I get tired. I can admit that I can’t lift my suitcase. I can admit that a swimsuit is not my best look, but I’ll wear one anyway.

One of the great benefits of aging is that I like being who I am. I say to myself when I’m doing something, “You know, that’s who you are. You’ve always been that way.” And I feel good rather than thinking I should change to conform to somebody else’s ideas. It’s true, for instance, that I rather write than play golf.

 

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I still think of myself as young. For instance, if I’m on a bus or train, I’ll stand up to give my seat to an older person. Only… what’s happening is that sometimes there is no older person. The first time this occurred was last summer when I went to DC to look after my grandson who was interning there. To begin with, that was a joke. Garrett, in reality, looked after me. He set me up with a Metro pass and with Uber. He made sure I was fine when he went to work. He’d call to check on me. He made the dinner reservations and showed me where the washer/dryer was in the building. The day we took the Metro to Capitol Hill, he made sure I got on the train without any trouble. I was standing next to him when a man asked me if I’d like his seat. I smiled and looked around for an older person to take advantage of his offer. Then I realized I was the oldest by at least twenty years. That was a “Yikes” moment!

I’m not denying that aging comes with a lot of loss. We have lost so many dear friends and family to cancer, heart attacks and strokes. Or they are suffering with the effects of their disease. There is a sadness now that really has no time to go away. Then there is the loss of taut skin, height and strong muscles, eyesight and hearing—but let’s not go there right now.

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I want to age gracefully, but I want to have fun too. Cindy Joseph’s make up tips for older woman have been widely distributed on Facebook. Here’s some of her advice around the eyes: “Women older than 50 tend to lose definition in their eyebrows. Just go with that. Don’t recreate the brows you had in your 20s.”

Really? I liked my eyebrows in my twenties, and if I don’t use eyebrow pencil now, I have no definition at all. I also tint whatever eyebrow hairs I have left. True, I don’t want to get to the stage where I’m drawing them on and entirely missing the eyebrow line. That is not attractive. But I figured out the solution to that: getting a stronger magnifying mirror for now and a trusted helper in my nineties.

Joseph also says: “Do not wear any eye shadow at all. …A little bit of mascara is OK.” Sorry, Cindy, but I plan to be wearing eye shadow in my coffin when I’m a 110. I love eye shadow. I’ve loved it since I was 13 and my mother wouldn’t let me wear it. So I’m not giving it up now or ever. I had a friend who got false eyelashes when she was 84. She loved them and they were cute on her! So there!

 

 

 

 

 

The Quest

When does an obsession start? Who really knows, but you may wake up one day and find yourself in the middle of one. It starts slowly, maybe even with a reasonable idea, but then it overtakes you. It happened to me this autumn—I became obsessed with seeing the glory of leaves changing color. This is a story that is enhanced by pictures, some of those enhanced as well, as you will see.

It started in mid-September when we were in Seattle visiting our daughter and grandkids. I took the three-year-old for a walk and we collected leaves that had already fallen.

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Later, when our grandson was playing in the band during their high school football game, I scouted for changing leaves.

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But it was too early for Seattle, which would be glorious by October.

I told myself that it was fine—I was just warming up my skills because we were to leave ten days later for a trip that would begin in Quebec. We’d board a cruise ship in Montreal, traveling on the “Fall Medley Cruise” up the St. Lawrence Seaway to the Atlantic Seaboard. “Mother Nature’s Paintbrush,” the cruise line’s brochure said. “Imagine a land so transformed by color that even the commonplace becomes extraordinary. A walk through the woods is like stepping into an autumnal kaleidoscope.”

Maybe it was this description, which started me on being a crazy person. I fell for the hype, hook, line and sinker. I expected to draw my curtains in the morning and be presented with the kaleidoscope described. Not to be. Quebec was a jewel: charming and unique. But the trees were green.

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On the train to Montreal, I was encouraged when I saw patches of changing leaves along the tracks. But it turned out that was an anomaly.

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It was chilly and crisp, but the leaves were proudly green.

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I was still hopeful. With the cold temperatures, the leaves had to turn soon, I thought. And we were going way north to Nova Scotia, so that would certainly do the trick, right? Wrong.

IMG_6653Above is what we saw. Below is what we could have seen.

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It was when we were in Maine that I became aware I was obsessed. We’d had a tour guide take us to Kennebunkport from Portland, Maine so we could visit friends and eat at the Clam Shack, which has the best fried clams anywhere in the world. On the way back, I saw some trees along the highway that were crimson. “Stop the car,” I yelled. As I stood on the side of the highway, I saw my traveling companions shooting me questioning looks. The question: Has she gone nuts?

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It wasn’t as if I hadn’t had this happen to me before. I remember being in Boston one year at Halloween. “All a yuz shouda been herah last week,” I was told.

On our return to the West Coast, we stayed a couple days in Seattle. “Finally, “I said to my husband, “we’ll see some autumn color.”A day earlier, maybe. But a storm had blown in and blew the leaves off most of the trees. I know because I took a walk with my camera to find them. An hour later, I returned, with little to show for my effort.

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Finally home, my neighbor made me feel a lot better about all the greenery we’d seen. “One year when we were back there, the leaves were so technicolor, you needed sunglasses,” he said. I’m sure he’s still wondering why I doubled over in laughter.

I did a little research on Fall Foliage, which, BTW, has become big business for the Northeast. Cruise ships disgorge hundreds of Medicare Tourists daily during this period—we were as numerous and pesky as fleas on a barn dog. I had evidence that I wasn’t alone in my quest for florescent foliage. You can even download an APP that will keep you updated as to when the leaves are reaching their peak.

But why is this so unpredictable? New England Fall Foilage Central says “the unpredictable factors that influence the rate at which leaves change colors are rain, the amount of sugar in the leaves, the number of daylight hours and temperatures….The three-day weekend around the Columbus Day holiday is often associated with peak foliage in Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island, but there are no guarantees.”

Really? Thanks for the heads up!

And by the way, the photo below was taken on October 15!Screen Shot 2015-10-18 at 1.30.49 PM

Blood Lust

 

 

 

 

imagesMy fellow Phlebotomist phobics, do I have a story for you! Last week I had to have blood drawn at UCLA Medical. I have veins that can be extremely hard to find—a family trait—but haven’t had trouble lately. I was taken into a room by two young women in white coats. Then a man came in and introduced Holly and Nicole: students at UCLA who would be practicing on me.
“My veins can be difficult to find,” I warned.
“Not to worry,” James, the phlebotomist, told me. “I’m sure Holly will be able to find a vein. And I’m here to step in if needed.”
Oh great, I thought as they all gave me toothy grins.
Holly actually did find a vein, but the needle wasn’t in exactly the right spot so by the time Dr. James intervened, the vein had dried up. He was distressed (because he looked like an idiot, I think) and couldn’t find any more likely veins on my right arm so we turned to the left. I’d already pointed out that my left arm was even less giving than my right, but Dr. James poked anyway.

 

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“Did you drink water today?” he asked sharply when the only blood available was from the pokes on my arm.
“Yes,” I said.
“Well, you didn’t drink enough. You’re dehydrated. You need to drink a lot of water if you’re going to have a blood draw.”
I almost apologized but caught myself. He was the professional, for goodness sake! I did give him a pleasant smile. He was beginning to sweat and I wanted him to be calm–I had a couple of more vials to be filled.
He started looking up and down my arm and then at my neck. I swear he began to grow fangs. I quickly pointed out an almost invisible vein in the crook of my arm. It was lucky that it worked. I was ready to bolt. No way was I giving him a field day with the rest of my body.

“Ah, I think . . .” I started to say when Dr. Phleboto breathed a sigh of relief.
“Got it,” he said. “Holly, hurry, get me another vial.”

I hazarded a look. My blood was flowing now. I wasn’t sure if Holly was going to move fast enough, but she did.

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I left the examining room with two bandaged arms, shaking my head. This would never have happened to my husband, and not only because he has good veins. He’d never have put up with the trainees. I wonder if someday, I won’t.

Writing Do, Living Don’t

I always tell my writing classes that their stories need to be full of conflict and drama. “You want your life to run smoothly, but your story has to be full of hurdles and problems,” I say. Now I know first hand how true that is.

Right before surgery Selfie.

Right before surgery Selfie.

 

After my recent knee surgery, I felt great—even the crutches weren’t that difficult to use. It was a boring story—the kind you want to live. But then conflict and drama came in the door with the houseguests my husband had invited to stay.

The houseguests are wonderful people—it’s just that it’s difficult to be a hostess on crutches. My husband was a great host, though. He showed them around—took them to Malibu, took them boating, took them to breakfast, lunch and dinner. They’d leave at 9:00 and be gone for most of the day. My husband told them that I wanted to be alone. (Really? Someone on crutches really wanted to be left alone on the second floor of a house?)

Then I got a charley horse in my calf. When I called the doctor, the PA insisted I go to the hospital for an ultrasound. She thought I was probably overdoing, which would cause the leg to cramp up, but she wanted to make sure there wasn’t a blood clot. Blood clot? Blood clot! Blood clots travel to the lungs. They travel to the brain. Oh my God! I could die! But I was fine there, by myself, on crutches on the second floor. Sure I was.

I was to be at the hospital at 2:00. I called my husband. No answer. I called our houseguests. No answer. I guess they were out of cell range as they made their way to Malibu. My husband called at 12:30 to ask what kind of fish I wanted with my fish and chips. Really? Was I hungry at all? But especially for fried foods?

I have to admit I was angry. But then I told myself that the anger would not help my blood flow, which could affect my clot, existent or not. I did a 15-minute meditation, which was very helpful. My husband got back at 1:30. By then, I was reaching for the phone to call my son or daughter-in-law or a cab.

We got to the hospital on time. I did a silent meditation in the car, ignoring the Formula One race my husband was driving on the freeway. Once there, he left me off to go park the car. It was a long haul on my crutches from the sidewalk to the Information desk. Four people offered me encouragement as I gimped along.

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“Slow and steady wins the race,” one man said as he sprinted around me.

I vowed, then and there, to be kinder to people on crutches or using a cane.

I’d almost made it to the desk when my husband approached me from behind with a wheel chair.

“Get in,” he ordered.

I maneuvered into a sitting position, but didn’t know what to do with the crutches. I finally put them in my lap and my husband took off at what seemed like warp speed. He did a 360 around the Information desk and then zeroed in on the Admissions office. We took off towards it, me wondering if I were going to get motion sickness. The doorway was narrow and at the rate of speed we were doing, it would have been a miracle if we didn’t crash. I wanted to get down on my good knee to say a prayer when he slowed down enough to navigate through the door.

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The ultrasound went fine and when we left the hospital, my husband wheeled me this time to the curb. It was terrifying to be totally under his power. “Stay there,” he said and took off at a run.  I realized he’d left me on a decline as the chair began to roll toward the street. I called out to him, but he was gone. I started to put my foot out to stop the chair, but then realized this could compromise my knee. I fiddled desperately with levers until I found the brake. My husband didn’t know why I had sweat on my brow when he returned.

The houseguests left the next day. By then I had a terrible headache and was kind of achy all over. No wonder, you might think. But it turned out to be the beginnings of the stomach flu. It was a terrible stomach flu–TMI to tell you the details, but I was sicker than a dog. The only silver lining is that I am closer to my goal weight than I have been for 10 years. Today I graduated to scrambled eggs and toast. So far, all seems well in that department.

Only one other mishap to report: The earthquake Monday set off our alarm. I jumped out of bed, forgetting about my knee. The alarm would not shut off so I hobbled quickly down the stairs to the main box. The dog was doing wheelies by then, so I opened the front door to let him out. A man was there in a tree, trimming it. Really? Branches littered our lawn where Bogey makes his daily offerings. He wasn’t going near it so, of course, I had to take him for a walk. Just a short one. Nurse Ratched wasn’t there—he was playing golf.

An hour later, my knee blew up to the size of a grapefruit. No exaggeration. I go to worse case scenario in these situations. Really? You say? You hadn’t noticed. But with ice and elevation it calmed down.

Now my stitches are out and I’m on the road to recovery! Yay! The dramatic arc is complete.

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