Sunday, February 27, 2011

My Retirement - Sins of the Mother

End of February and doing OK

How I ruined my daughter's life!

As I reflect on my life, I feel quite proud of how I raised my children and how well they turned out.  They are all good people and I am so proud of them.  I give myself a pat on the back for a job well done.  Three of my children live within 45 minutes of me and I am blessed to have them so close.  My #2 child though was an adventurer and after finishing an internship in Colorado, headed out to see the country.  Her old car broke down in Santa Cruz, Ca and that is where she has stayed these past 17 years. She has gotten a new car, a great job,  a wonderful family and life and we all agree that she has found her shangri-la.  It hurt so  much when she left us but you raise children to let them fly, have their own dreams and fulfill their destiny.  It is the way it should be.  It took me awhile to adjust to her move, but with the Internet, you are never more than a few clicks away. 

I named her Heather Elise, a name I had read in a book when I was about 12.  I had never heard this name before and it sounded so lovely and peaceful and I was determined that would be what I would call my first daughter.  Apparently everybody else had read this book and the year that my daughter was born, that was one of the names most commonly given to girls - or at least so it seems.  You don't hear it much anymore as Madison and Emma and Emily have taken over, but in the early 70's Jennifer and Heather were the names of choice. I am still glad I called her that, as it fits her well.  She is my wildflower that will grow and thrive in both the loveliest and more difficult of circumstances.
With all this said, #2 child told me recently what a horrible thing I did to her when she was young.  I listened in amazement as she related to me how I had sent her to school in the 1st or 2nd grade in a Dolly Parton costume made by me and she is still trying to get past the trauma that I put her through.  I actually thought I had been quite clever, but seemingly this was not the case.  Let me explain. Back in the late 70's Dolly Parton was extremely popular, she was the Lady Gaga of today.  I never liked those cheap-looking Collegeville costumes that were available in those times so I made all my children's Halloween regalia.  I spent months thinking of themes that would be clever and would win them a  prize in the all important parade, one of  the highlights of the year in our small town. Top prize was a big $5.00, well worth the anxiety.   I made Star Wars creatures (with lights attached), Colonel Sanders, chicken legs, Gumby,  and even an Adams Family group.  They always won something and one year captured 1st prize.  People looked to me for ideas as I was Halloween Mom. When I think about it now, was it about me, not them. Was I like those crazy people in Toddlers and Tiaras?   For #2 child, who never mentioned this to me until almost 30 years later, the grapefruits that I put in her Dolly Parton outfit were over the top.  Who would have thunk? Then there was the episode where she was pelted with candies as she walked down the parade route wearing balloons for the Fruit of the Loom grapes outfit.   To add to this, a few years after these disasters, I also talked her into having me give her a hair permanent which turned out to be a very frizzy Afro in a year she was attending a new school.  I knew about that right away as she cried for days and my heart hurt for her. This Dolly Paton episode though was news to me.though.   So I say #2 child, it is the the tough times that make you stronger and give you character.  It has enabled you to have your wonderful sense of humor and you are fearless.  I didn't do it on purpose, I thought they were all good things, and you really looked amazing as Dolly.  Wish I could find those pictures.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

My Retirement - Forest Gump

The snow is melting and I'm doing OK.

Life is like a box of chocolates and it is all about what you choose.

I love chocolates and they don't have to be a premium brand; M & Ms will do just fine.  They are easy to pick up, you always take more than one at a time and they can be put in the mouth as a group and are consumed quickly. There is little evidence that you ever indulged.  Nobody will know you broke your diet (except if you kept them in your hands too long and the tell-tale colors are on your fingers). My philosophy is that if nobody saw you eat them, there were no calories consumed. 

Most gift boxes of chocolates contain at least one or two candies wrapped up in a foil.  They look so special and your eyes go to them first.  It is a mystery candy which makes it desirable.  I have found that more times than not when I bite into one of these, it is the plainest chocolate in the box; it is just gussied up to get your attention but has no substance.  Then there are the creams - some vanilla, some fruit flavored and some chocolate.  Good, but kind of what you would expect; it is usually a safe choice but somewhat boring.  Caramels are chewy and take a while to consume.  These you will remember for at least a few minutes after eating them as they tend to stick to your teeth.  You like that they stay around, but they can give you cavities. Cherries are sweet and there is usually only one in a box, so you are lucky if you get first pick.

Now to my favorite, nuts.  I do like those chocolate covered peanuts. There is nothing complicated about them, you know what you are getting all the time and it is a great combination.  Another are Hazelnuts, they stand out with their size and it is hard to resist, but when you bite into them you take the chance of breaking a molar. My first choice though is the chocolate with the tiny pieces of nuts.  The texture is just right, you get to chew without the fear of breaking a tooth and you get an equal amount of both composition and flavor. Perfect! They do tend to get stuck in between your teeth and gums but all the better as you get to indulge in them for awhile.

Then, of course, in every life there are some jelly chocolates.  It is about disappointment and how you deal with it.  You can dwell on it or you can use it to learn and move on. I'd like to think that I have gained the most from the jellies. They have made me stronger, smarter and more resilient.  All in all though, I would rather have more M&M days with a Twix bar thrown in.


Monday, February 21, 2011

My Retirement - One More MonthTill Spring

8 Week of Retirement and doing OK.

Looking forward!

Last week was a reprieve from winter.  There was no snow, no ice, no temperatures below freezing, and no weather anxiety.  Body shop dealers could take a week off.  The local TV news shows had to find something else to frighten us.  Of course, they had to tell us not to enjoy what we had because there was something on the horizon that would bring our happiness to a crashing end.  However, while we had sun and temperatures hitting the 70 degree mark in February, I basked in its glory.

Although it has been cold, we have not had to endure a winter like we did last year.  While our average snowfall is 36", 2010 brought us 86.6" with 62.8" falling in February (2 storms), so anything is better than that.  We have had snow but only 3" to 8" at a time and it really mattered what town you lived in.  There could be a difference of 6" between a few miles.  Most of the time this year, my area has been on the low end and as Martha Stewart would say, that is a good thing. Then last week we had that wonderful "spring in winter" interlude.  It was so beautiful, I took my Mayo Clinic, 5K run, 7-week training course for beginners outside.  The first day you walk-run (45 seconds for walking, and 15 seconds for jogging) for 30 minutes and I came back alive, a definite positive.  I did OK but found that running on pavement is a little different than running on cherry wood floors.  I kept up my training all week and came to the conclusion that I might have to alter my goals.  As the days went on I also found that it was harder on my lungs and maybe my heart.  I am not totally crazy, so I thought it over and decided that I might have to just walk.  I will continue with my plan and find some kind of race to enter in the spring, only I will be going slower.  My family might have to wait a little longer for me at the end but I will finish.

While I did my training outside last week I passed so many of my neighbors smiling.  Good weather seems to bring out the best in us all.  People greeted me, commented on the beautiful day and then all said something to the effect that this would not last.  Bummer!  We all know that is probably true as it still is February, but we only have the moment, we should embrace it and not think of the negative.  Spring is coming, it is less than a month away.  I am thinking in those terms now and am already planning on what seeds and flowers that I will plant this year.  This is great fun for me and as I listened to all the weather people say to get ready for another one-two punch (their phrase of the year), I think what flowers I will order today.

Speaking of negativity, while we were enjoying a salad last night with my daughter, hubby mentions that he has printed out an Internet article that tells you how much pesticide is on vegetables and fruit.  He promptly got the print-out and before we had finished our "healthy" meal, we were informed that everything we had consumed was loaded with organisms and poison.  Bon appetit`. He is a good guy with such a big heart, but he can't help himself, he thrives on calamities, for him, it is about survival.  I guess it is part of the caveman thing .

Find a good story and laughter in all things; it will comfort you.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

My Retirement, A Day of Memories

Moving on with my life and doing ok.

Relatives can be chancy, Friends you choose, Old Friends you cherish.

I can't be funny today, my heart hurts with thoughts of the loss a year ago of a friend.  Time has gone by but  there is not a day that I don't think of her.  Pat has left me and all those who loved her with wonderful memories of her wit, her great smile, her joy of planning and the funniest stories ever told. 

We were a group of 5 women who had known each other for over 35 years.  We raised our children together, were there for each other when our children married and when our parents died. We went on vacations together and met each other monthly for a Ladies Night Out.  Once or twice a year we invited our hubbies and that was fun also, but the friendship of women is something special.  We talked about everything and when one of us was having problems, we were all there to console and somehow at the end of the day or evening, we would all be laughing.  We were five very different people, me being the most intense, yet they put up with me and loved me anyway.  Pat was non-judgemental, seldom got into any deep political/religious conversations, loved to talk about her family (always a funny story), and enjoyed living in her hometown and knowing almost everyone. This was not to say she wasn't spirited; she was adventurous, she was a planner, she was our leader!  We depended upon her to find fun things for us to do and she never let us down.  The times when I laughed the most was when I was with my friends on an outing orchestrated by Pat. I miss that so much.

Life goes on but it is changed.  It has been deminished because we no longer have Pat to talk to, to laugh with and to have as a friend.  Our monthly Ladies Night Out has become semi-annual, when one of us pushes to have one.  Yes, time does heal somewhat and now the holes in our hearts have been filled with the memories of all the good times, fun and laughter that we shared together. The Fab Five, as we called ourselves, will go on as our friendships have no ending. It will always be Pat, Barbara, Kathy, Herta and Arleen. My life has been blessed.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

My Retirement - Moving on

End of my 6th Week of Retirement and doing OK.

Chariots of Fire

I am motivated by inspirational people, movies, music and quotes. I am so sentimental that I cry when I see the flag raised.  If I read something in a newspaper or book that tugs at my heart, I cut it out and paste it somewhere.  I read them over and over.  Music is part of my heart and I will play the same songs for months or possibly years, until they begin to get on my nerves, (ex: I Hope You Dance). However  I am not very nostalgic for old times or old music, I think of tradition as somebody else's idea or something to be improved upon.  I try to live in today and now, and for the moment.

No matter my doubts and fears, I  believe in myself.  I always thought that even if things pile up on me, that somehow I would get them all done.  Don't misunderstand me, I have always had family and friends to get me through the tough times and I have no trouble asking for help.  It is difficult for me now to accept that I can no longer do some of the physical or mental  things I once thought easy, but as long as I am vertical, I will try my best.

If you had read my prior blogs you will remember me saying that I have started jogging, something I never would have considered even a few years ago.  I am not an athlete and sports and me have never mixed.  In my younger years hubby encouraged me to play tennis, even buying me a pair of Tom McCann bobos and a tennis racket.  When I took the lessons I hit very few balls, as a matter of fact, I ducked when I saw them coming at me.  I compare going to those sessions as being in a dentist chair having all my teeth extracted.  It was not fun.  I have quit very few things in my life, but after lesson 3, I was out of there. Tennis was not the only sport that would put me in a state of extreme panic. I used to cringe at the words "anyone for volleyball" or "where's the Frisbee".  It still sends shivers up my spine and I am grateful for old age and my friends infirmities (from these sports) that I no longer have to hear those words.  However, now that I am sort of running, I am enjoying myself. There is no euphoria that I have heard others have after a run, but seeing what I can do gives me such satisfaction.  Unfortunately, two weeks ago, I hurt myself and could no longer run. . My ankles and heels hurt so bad that when I walked, I looked like a penguin.  I gave it a rest for a week and once I felt better, I tried again.

I am being sensible this time, I decided to wear sneakers (after advise from absolutely everybody) and instead of doing it all at one time, I broke it up into 4 sessions per day, doing 4000 to 5000 steps each time.  Because I like to be inspired, I found "music to run with" on the net.  Now if you are passing by my house, you may hear "Chariots of Fire being played over and over again all morning and afternoon.  It changes my mood and I find myself swaying my shoulders and moving my arms like they do in the video.  I don't wear white pants and shirts like the actors, as it is a fashion faux pas to wear white after Labor Day or before Memorial Day.  I now also have a partner, my 16 year old rickety cat.  Martian is a smart old guy that has been my constant companion since I retired. I just have to pat my leg and say come-on Martian, and there he is right behind me.  He can't run like before but he can walk fast, not dissimilar to his owner.  He must have done at least 10 laps with me, sometimes taking shortcuts under tables.  The rest of the time he would sit on chairs or couches that I would pass and give me a high five with his eyes.  OK, now I figure you are all raising your eyebrows at me, old lady running around the house with her old cat to the sounds of Chariots of Fire thinking the cat is giving her a high five.  You all probably think that I am one step from senility.  I can see your point!  However, I have a plan.  Next week, when hopefully the snow melts and the temperature rises to its projected 60 degrees, I am taking my running outside.  I will have to buy an IPod, or one of those "I" things so I can hear my music, but I intend to build myself up so that by the time my birthday comes in June and another nasty number defines me, I can enter some small race, hopefully with my grandchildren, and finish without the EMT on the medical van that follows the runners putting me on a stretcher.  I know I can do it; yesterday I finished 8.5 miles.  I am woman, hear me roar.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

My Retirement, Six Weeks Already

 Moving on and doing OK

So I was thinking......

1.  It is good to think, as who knows how long that will last.
2. In my dreams I am young; my subconscious  has not caught up with reality.  For those seven hours I am wearing size 6.
3.  Being in a bad mood and feeling sorry for yourself is a waste of time. 
4.  However, people who are always perky can get on your nerves - especially when you are in a bad mood. 
5. Junk food really does taste better than healthy food - even though we would never admit this to anyone
6. The oldest child in the family does have it the hardest. Glad I was a middle one.
7. The happiest people in the country live in the coldest states. What about shoveling snow and wearing hideous hats 9 months a year makes them happy?
8.  Why do people watch the reality show Hoarders?
9.  The worst feeling to have is lonliness
10. The best times are those when you are surrounded by family and friends.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

My Retirement, Second Month +

February, the cruelest month and doing OK

One of my Friends is a Winery - another blog on Technology.

The word "friends" has a new meaning in our times.  Friends now include people we only really know in cyber-life, those we once vaguely knew and now with whom we share all the mundane parts of our lives.    Last year I joined Facebook.  Oh, how happy my children were!  I am sure they gave some thought about accepting "Mom" as a friend.   

I notice that all the younger people have hundreds of friends. It seems like a popularity contest.  Sadly, on the web I only have 30 (but more in real life) and one is Peju Winery in California.  However, having a winery on my Facebook wall is a quite nice.  It adds a certain perception of joie de vivre to my image.  I do have an association with this site as I visited it in Napa a few years ago with my daughter and her family.  It is a beautiful place and they do have fine, fine, very fine wine.  I have recommended them to people who are visiting Napa and they all were quite impressed; they have even joined their wine club. My son is one of these people and has kindly given us some bottles but hubby has been saving them for a "special occasion". I do not know what that occasion will be, but at our age I hope it comes soon.

I just began  texting and can see how that can become addictive. I just love to hear that little ding-a-ling when I get a text.  I feel a real part of this new age!  I'm cool, I'm hip, and it is all so sweet.  (Yes, as you can see, I am not quite up to the latest urban slang, but I did not say "groovy").  Until a few months ago I though of texting as another form of communication that further detached us from others. Now, however, I look for reasons to text people.   It is also a new language and spelling correctly is not necessary.  I am beginning to learn "this talk" and have been thinking of new abbreviations to add.  Instead of LOL, we mature people could write PMP  (figure it out) when explaining our excitement when hearing something funny.  I am behind in this text talk though, so most of what I can come up with probably has been used for years.  However, finding new acronyms can be a new goal of mine.

Facebook, Twitter, Texting, My Space (once the rage, but hear little of it now), are what makes the world go round.  Egypt's new revolution was spread by the use of Twitter and everything came about so quickly that it surprised most nations' leaders.  It is amazing and frightening at the same time.  Today is about instantaneous information, however important or correct it may be.  It has become difficult for many of us to keep up as communication/technology is changing at breakneck speed. I am suffering from whiplash at times and feel old and passe. I still am amazed though at what has come about in my lifetime and look forward to the future and more remarkable achievements. It's a rollar coaster and I want to be on the ride, even if it is only through the first loop.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

My Retirement, Month 2

Starting the 2nd month of Retirement and doing OK.

Never buy pants without sitting down in them first.

Last week, on a very cold day (but without snow), I embarked on a shopping trip to an outside mall.  I needed to get some gifts for my granddaughter who was turning 10.  If you have been reading this blog, you will agree that I need to get out of the house - really bad!.  I was on a mission and passed by all the women's stores with their 50% off sale signs because I was there for one purpose only - for my sweet Emma.  However, a 70% off sign caught my eye, stopped me in my tracks and lured  me inside.  I had no intention of buying anything but "just look".  I am always attracted to black pants and have at least 10 of these hanging in my closets, but there is always room for one more.  I grabbed a few and off to the dressing room I went. Now this store is not exactly a BCBG or PacSun where hips can be no more than 32", but it was not a Lane Bryant either; it was a middle-age to mature woman's boutique.   The slacks easily went on, I did not have to lay on the floor and zip them up so things were going well.   They looked OK in the front and felt comfortable, but then I turned around.   The seat seemed to start at the back of my knees.  My body parts have dropped, but I did not think that far down.  The legs were so wide, that I could picture myself getting caught in them and falling down the stairs.  The small blurb in the paper would say, "elderly woman trips on her pants and taken to trauma center".  Sadly, I think I would probably be more traumatized by the word elderly attached to my name than breaking a few bones   Thinking this was just a particular style, I tried on another pair but the result was the same; I looked like a homeless person.  Out the store I ran and told the saleswoman that nothing fit.   I felt depressed and  decided not to ever go into that store again.  I went to the Tween store Justice and bought my Emma some "skinny jeans" and some shirts. Skinny jeans and spandex, words that I have outgrown in more ways than one.   On my way out of the mall I passed  Jones New York and decided to try again in the hopes that my future wardrobe would not include pants that look like potato sacks.   I was  checking  through the racks when the sales lady came up to me and said, "Ma'am, you are in the wrong department, the smaller sizes are in the front."  I could not have been more excited if I had been told that I had won the lottery, my whole mood changed instantly. Life was looking up!  I thanked the woman profusely and proceeded to shop my heart out.  Unfortunately, everything in there was made for a 5'8" woman (I'm 5'4 and shrinking by the moment), even the scarfs had to be wrapped around me a few times.  Now I am questioning about what she meant by small.  As I said, I was not out to shop for myself, but my pride was now on the line.  Onto my third store and one that always has jewelry that I like.  If nothing else fit, a necklace would. I found some black pants that said "tapered  and thought "that might work".  Into the dressing room I went with 3 pairs in hand. One looked just like the jeans that I had on so I eliminated that.  The other two seemed a little big, but put my tush back in an area that looked like the top of my legs. The sales lady knocked on my door and asked if she could help me.  I remembered what the lady in the 2nd store told me about my size and boldly asked for a 10.  A 10, it has such a nice sound, it is not a 6 like all first ladies wear (or say they wear), but it is not a 12, my size for the past few years.  I tried them on and I felt svelte and tall.  No hanging butt, no yards of material threatening my life, no turning pants up 4 inches on the bottom, I was thrilled.  They were not on sale, but who cares, they were a smaller size.  The jogging around the house was paying off!  The day had turned around, I had bought my granddaughter some gifts and I was walking out with two new pairs of black pants that would make me feel like a new woman. 

Then I went home and put one of them on to show hubby.  He did not notice, but then again, I always wear black or brown pants in the winter so I'll give him that.  However, I wanted him to compliment my new tall, thin appearance with no hang ass.  Alas, there was no reaction.  I went into the kitchen and sat down dejected.  All of a sudden a pain came over me; it was like a Slurpee headache in my stomach. I thought my eyeballs would pop out.  The pants had some kind of elastic that seemed not to expand when the body is put in a seating position.  They were pressing into every organ in my body.  I remembered that I was so happy about how I looked standing up in these sleek pants, I never thought of sitting down in them.  I am sure there is some defect in them.  I took them off, put on my full bodied sweats and had some M&Ms.  My new purchase is now hanging in the back of my closet waiting for the day that I will fit in them without pain or when I will go someplace where I will only be standing. 

I will tell you that the other pants I bought fit well and they do not inflict any suffering upon me.  I put them on before we went out on Saturday night and then hubby, instead of saying how good the slacks looked,  asked me when I was going to change into my clothes.  He did not notice how tall or thin I looked, he just thought I was still wearing my pajamas.   So much for style.

To the chagrin of my children, I am thinking of buying the new thing - the Pajama Jeans. If  these embarass them too much,  I can wear my Snuggie over them.