And just when you think you cannot bear one more stinkin' minute of your day, the weekend rides in like the cowboy hero on his white horse, there to save the day.
Have a great weekend y'all
Heigh ho Silver!
Everyone who doesn't love a bit of serendipity in their lives now and again, raise your hands.
Okay, now all those of you who raised your hands, lower them again, because I don't believe you for one second, you liars. Everyone is at least bemused by serendipity. Just saying the word brings a smile to my face.
I just adore it. And I find that it happens in my life a lot.
Just the other night, I was having one of those nights where I just couldn't sleep no matter how tired I was. So rather than toss and turn and risk waking Tim who actually was able to sleep, I finally gave up, got up and wandered out through the darkness to the family room. I turned on the TV and found an old movie that I haven't in about twenty years and settled in to watch. It was a light romantic comedy so I didn't have to think too hard while watching. I just relaxed and enjoyed it. It was only when the movie was over that I realized how funny it was that I watched the film, "While You Were Sleeping" because I wasn't sleeping. HAHAHAHAHAHA! That sort of thing just cracks me up.
It happened again yesterday. My morning blog topic yesterday was dreams, as you may or may not recall. I wrote the blog just before I left for my gig at the museum. I mean seriously, I hit the "post" button, grabbed my purse and zoomed out the door. I was still mentally going over what I had written and was wishing I had taken more time with the topic, Dreams, Dreaming, Dreamers...... Then almost the minute I walked through the door to start my shift, my boss came in and asked me if I would please read and review a new book they were considering for the gift shop. That's my kind of job task :) The title of the book had the word, "Dreamers" in it. Awesome! I just love when that happens.
I don't believe that there is anything mysterious or supernatural or ghostly about it. It's just a funny funky happenstance and occurs to everyone. The universe has a lovely sense of humour sometimes.
Not long ago, on a weekend day Tim suggested that we eat out and try some new restaurant that he had heard or read about. Sure! On the way there I said, "You know, I am having the strongest strawberry cravings. I think I'll go by the farm market next week and see if they have any fresh ones in". We no more than got seated in our booth and were handed our menus than I saw that their "special' dessert that evenings was strawberry shortcake. Sweet!
See, it happens to me all of the time. While walking to Pilates class earlier this week I thought to myself, I need to ask the instructor after class if there are any special exercises for a sore neck. I had slept funny and woke with what my family refers to as a crick in my neck. One of the first things the instructor told us that day was that we would be working back and neck muscles first thing. Nice!
Now I'm not saying that it happens every moment of every day, but often enough that I'm not surprised when it does. I'll be thinking about a friend and the phone rings and it's that friend calling :) Love when that happens. I'm sure it happens to you too.
I found out today that there is a movie called Serendipity which I had no idea existed. I think John Cusak is in it. I will have to find this film because I am positive it's one I will enjoy. Just because of the name. Perhaps not a brilliant flick. Nothing earth shattering or award winning. But it doens't have to be. Most of the movies that I rank really high on my favourites list are not award winners. They are just movies that I like. Same goes for books. I don't buy books because they are on a bestsellers list. I get books that I like.
Sometimes when we are traveling and we are driving aimlessly around a town or city we've never been in before and we really have no idea where we are going , we make our turn selections through serendipty. And sometimes that is how we have stumbled across some of our greatest finds! We have stopped at Sam's Number 3 in Denver for breakast and driven down Humphreys Boulevard in Memphis TN because, well we just have to!
I happen to know that there is a Thatcher AZ, a Corbin KY and a Hurley NY all of which are on our gotta visit list. Just because there are some things you just gotta do. AND what's more, I know that we will have a great time when we do.
One of my favourite serendipity stories ever was actually not mine but youngest son's story. His name is Hurley (if you've forgotten). Years ago now, when he first moved to New York City and was looking for work, it was a struggle. There were so many people applying for every single job that he was getting worried and of course, we worried with him. Time went on and things got more concerning and then one day he walked into a sports shop. You know the sort, clothing, shoes, gear for specific sports. In this case, Skating, Roller Blading, Skate Boarding etc. He filled out the application and turned it in. The manager looked at his name and said, 'Is this really your name?" Hurley said, "Yes". The manager looked at him again and said, "No way". "Hurley showed him his drivers license as proof. The manager smiled and said, "I guess I have to hire you!" And suddenly Child 3 had a job again. In case you didn't know, the Hurley brand is huge in skate sports and therefore that store sold a ton of Hurley brand product. Serendipty!
It's all around us people. Embrace Serendipity in your life and let its magic bring a smile to your face. It's there, knocking at the door, open it up and welcome it in. I promise you will, at the very least, be bemused. And that is never a bad thing.
I am seeing the word "Dream" in articles a lot recently. It's a word with a lot of different meanings and connotations. Sometimes it's a positive, other times a negative. On the one hand we are encouraged to "Dream Big" and to balance that we are warned against having unrealistic dreams. Sometimes we wake in the night after having a bad dream. Other times, we wake refreshed in the morning feeling absolutely renewed from having an especially good dream.
The film "Pretty Woman" opened with a man saying, "Welcome to Hollywood. What's your dream?". But Hollywood itself has been accused of shattering many a persons dreams. As beautiful as a dream can be there truly is the other side. Crushed dreams, shattered dreams, broken dreams, nightmares, dream killers.....all very bad.
There are a lot of songs with the word, "Dream" in the title: "Dream On" by Aerosmith, "Dream a little Dream of me" originally by Ozzie Nelson, "Sweet Dreams (are made of) by Marilyn Manson, "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" by Green Day and "All I have to do is Dream" by the Everly Brothers......just to dip a toe into the song title realm.
Movies use the word, or a derivation thereof, a lot too: "Mr. Blandings builds his Dream Home" with Cary Grant and Myrna Loy, "Nightmare on Elm St, numbers1 through at least a zillion by now" nightmares being the other side of a dream, "The Dream Team' with Michael Keaton, a zillion or so versions of Shakespeare's, "Midsummer Night's Dream" or how about the teen flick, "Dream a little dream of me" with the Coreys (Feldman and Haim).
As for TV Shows: "I Dream of Jeanie" is honestly the only one I can think of and I won't even get started on book titles. Suffice it to say that the concept of Dreams or Dreaming is important to us. So important in fact, that there is something called, "The American Dream". It is not ambiguous. When you say that phrase, almost everyone in the world knows exactlywhat you are talking about. It's not just a nationally understood concept, it's global.
Some cultures put great stock in dreams. All the way back to 5,000 BC in Mesopotamia. There archeaologists have found a book believed to be the first book about the meaning of dreams. In ancient Sumaria, there were Dream Priests whose job was to interpret people's dreams. Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome also believed in the prophetic nature of dreams.
Some Native Americans believed so strongly in the importance of dreams that they decorated their homes with Dream Catchers which were meant to filter out the bad dreams and only allow the good dreams through. Having visions and dreams, to some of these Native Americans meant that the dreamer was in touch with a higher form of reality and that dreams and visions were a doorway, so to speak, to a wider awareness.
Dreams are fascinating. There are countless books that claim to help us interpret our dreams, much as the ancients did. Secretly, and sometimes not so secretly, some people still believe very strongly that their dreams have deep meanings and even prophetic powers. Edgar Cayce, also known as the Sleeping Prophet, was believed by millions to be a clairvoyant who solved problems, predicted the future and answered questions while asleep.
While I do not subscribe to that particular fancy myself, I do find the concept of dreams and dreaming to be very interesting. So interesting in fact, that years ago I took a class on the "Psychology of Dreams". It was fascinating. The first and most important thing that I learned was that the dream belongs to the dreamer. Which means that a dream means whatever the dreamer believes that it does. Never mind that scientifically, dreaming is mostly just your subconscious sorting out all the dribs and drabs of information your brain has collected.
We are constantly bombarded with information throughout our day, it's almost a sensory overload and it's just too much to fully appreciate and review while we are awake and busy in our workaday lives. So while we are asleep and our brain isn't busy doing other things, it has the time to go through all the piles and kind of clean house. I suspect that is why a lot of dreams make no sense at all. It's just flotsam and jetsam. It's not supposed to make sense. A lot like the junk drawer in the kitchen.
But other times, suddenly something that was very confusing makes perfect sense. That's because so much information came in so quickly, that the dreamer didn't have time to fully process it during the busy day. But at night, while sleeping, all of the unimportant things are separated from the far more important bits and taadaa! A solution to the problem is presented! Voila! It's not magic. You always had all of the information that you needed to find the answer, your mind just needed some chill time to follow the clues.
It's kind of funny because I have all of this information, I am aware of all of these (and many more) related things about dreams and dreaming and yet...and yet...and yet! I almost never remember my own dreams. Bizarre.
Sometimes I wake up knowing that I have dreamed but I have no idea what it was about or even the sort of dream it was . Good? Bad? Meh? I have no idea. I do recall that as a child I had dreams. In fact, as a child I had terrible nightmares. Often. In fact, I had one very detailed recurring nightmare for years. I know that I had dreams in highschool. Before school started sometimes my friends and I would walk around talking about what we had dreamed the night before. And then, one day, suddenly, I realized that it had been literally years since I remembered any dream. Which is bizarre.
At first I suspected that it was because I wasn't spending enough time in REM sleep. It was, at one time, suspected, that REM sleep was necessary to achieve a dream-state. But science has since disproved that. True I don't get a lot of sleep. As a life long insomniac I suppose it would make sense that to dream, first one must sleep. And of course I do sleep. Here and there, now and again in fits and starts, bits and pieces. So obviously, I do dream.
I just Very rarely remember those dreams. And I find that incredibly odd. But I'm not alone. There are enough people, like me, who don't recall their dreams that scientists are intrigued and do studies on it, trying to determine why that would be. To date, they have theories galore, but nothing that they can be certain about. So hmmm. No answers there. They do all agree however, that day dreaming is quite important.
I suppose I suppose it doesn't matter whether or not I remember my night dreams. The important part is that I have the other kind of dreams. Big dreams. Day Dreams, Life dreams. And most of mine have been realized. I am very fortunate and I am grateful.
It is essential to have dreams, goals, wishes. It is absolutely vital to have something to work toward, something to fight for, something to grab onto when it feels like everything else is slipping away. I think you have to be very brave to hang on tightly to a dream and I also think that bravery is eventually rewarded.
Have big dreams, my friends and never stop.
Not to be self-promotional about it but, in case anyone wondered how the interview turned out, I am going to post here today, the rough draft. I made a few corrections which are not reflected here and of course I am not a fan of the photograph. But that is not the fault of the photographer but more about how I feel about myself I suppose. And I have always been weird about pictures of me and blah de blah de blah. Overall, the journalist did an amazing job of taking my ramblings and, as I told her, turning my blather into a cohesive piece.
So without further ado, here you go:
So there it is. Relatively painless. And now it's over and I can breathe once again :)
Hope everyone has a Terrific Day that offers up at least one lovely surprise!
I honestly don't know what it's called, but there it is. The windshield cover for my car. I know lots of people have them and use them but I never ever did until we moved here. It was purchased very shortly after we moved to Florida. After I had burned my shorts wearing legs one too many times because of car sitting outside in the hot summer sun, off we went to good old Walmart to find a solution. I opted for the pretty butterflies with absolutely no hesitation. Tim bought a cover for his cars windshield as well (his does not have butterflies on it in case you wondered) but never ever uses his. I presume that he doesn't bother because his air conditioning works. Mine does not.
Most of the time having no functional AC is not a big deal. And I mean that very seriously. First of all, I rarely drive anywhere. It's a small island. Almost every single place I need to be is walking distance. Secondly, most of the year, the weather is gorgeous thereby making each errand walked, a delight. And lastly, I like walking at least as much as I dislike driving, maybe more. For me, this works.
During those couple of horrible high heat and humidity months, I borrow Tim's car. Usually it's just for grocery shopping. When the heat/humidity dealio is super bad, let's say, the month of August, I don't want my yogurt turned into soup before I get home so Air Conditioning is a darned good idea. No big deal. Tim has no problem with me borrowing his car now and again. The rest of the year, in my own car, if I absolutely must drive, I just put my windows down and enjoy the breeze. AND I find that as long as I use the windshield covers, or whatever they are called, while the inside of the car may be stuffy from being closed up when not in use, at least the seats are not blazing hot.
The vast majority of the time, this system works just fine.
But every once in a long while, there is an issue. Like this morning when Tim dropped his car off at the garage for some work to be done and I needed to pick him up.
I certainly didn't mind picking him up. And it was early enough in the day that the heat wasn't an issue. And it's late enough in the season that the humidity is starting to back off a little bit. Nope the problem was that since I drive so rarely, and drive my own car even less frequently than that, I forgot something important.
The place where I was picking Tim up was off-island. Now, we live on the west coast of Florida. In fact, we live on an island off the west coast of Florida which means that we drive east to get off the island. Dead East as it so happens. And this was first thing in the morning which means as the sun is coming up. So I was driving directly toward that big fireball in the sky. What's the issue, you wonder? I mean, I do own perfectly good sunglasses, right?
I do not know what it is called and I do not know why it exists, but my car (maybe it's all cars, I have no idea) develops this little film on the inside of the windshield that can only be detected when driving directly into the sun. This little film makes seeing out of the windshield nigh on to impossible.
I forgot about this. It's been a long time since I drove anywhere facing due east first thing in the morning.
So at the appointed time, I jumped behind the wheel, started her up and drove, first south which is not a problem. The issue simply does not exist unless I'm driving into the sun. My visibility is absolutely perfect driving south. Or west. Or north. Or in the shade. Or under cloudy skies. Or at nighttime. The problem is completely undetectable unless I'm facing into the sun.
Which happened as soon as I turned east. Dang! Now I remember. I immediately pulled over, which itself was an accomplishment because I could see almost nothing out the window, and scrabbled through my purse and the glove box looking for something to...I don't know...maybe wipe down the inside of the windshield?
First I pulled out my glasses wipie cloth thingie. I don't know what that's called either. Man, I'm having a day here. Anyway, it seemed logical to me that if it would clean a pair of sunglasses, or a TV screen or a computer monitor that it would also clean the inside of a car windshield. As it turns out, that is incorrect! It kind of smears whatever is already on the glass. Not good.
Now at this point, I know that Tim is probably waiting and wondering what the heck is keeping me, so I even starting looking in the pockets of the back seat wondering if someone had, at some point accidentally left behind a scarf or some socks or, I don't' know, am errant sweatshirt? (I know, crazy) But unfortunately, I keep my car very clean and tidy. Usually that is not a bad thing. But in this one instance, it would have been great if I had overlooked an abandoned beach towel or something.
I was seriously considering my own shirt when I found one of those small tissue packets in the back of the glove box. There was one lone tissue in it. I folded it over several times and leaned way forward into the windshield to put as much pressure on that itty bitty tissue as possible and scrubbbed with all my tiny might at a portion of the glass that was directly in front of my face.
Marginal success. Enough for me to very carefully limp down the road, over the bridge and pick Tim up. The way home was fine as we were once again pointed westward. Whew!
Anyone know what the heck that icky film is? Has anyone else experienced this? What causes it? How do I prevent it? Or at least properly clean it?
That was a downright scary drive!
What do you think about my schmancy new gloves? Nifty eh? And they are pink!
This was one of the recommendations by the arthritis specialist that I visited this week. He and all of the staff were really very nice. I never once felt rushed. He was thorough, asked a zillion questions and then listened, actually listened to my responses. As doctor visits go, this one wasn't bad at all.
He determined that I do not YET have rheumatoid arthritis. Whew! Although he does believe that it will develop over the next 5 - 10 years. So there's something to look forward to (not!). I was told that what I do have at the moment is a particularly aggressive form of osteo arthritis and I'm teetering on the brink if something called Erosive Osteo Arthritis which I haven't even bothered to look up because it sounds unpleasant and I think right now I want to just bask in the non-rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis afterglow.
The mitts on my hands are compression gloves. And well, I'm still trying to get used to them. Points for being pink and not grey or some other blah non-colour. They are fairly easy to put on and take off despite my declining hand mobility so a few more points for that. But huge negative points for driving me crazy.
I tried wearing them at night but I find that I take them off in my sleep! HAH! All I can assume is that since I never like feeling closed in and by virtue of it's very purpose, compression gloves....compress, they definitely close my hands in. It's a claustrophobia thing. It's the same reason I prefer my clothes to fit a little loosely and I need lots of windows that are not covered by shades/draperies. Open! Not closed! In a previous life, I was probably a cat. (Cats notoriously hate closed doors/windows).
So since I cannot seem to control myself while I am sleeping, now I'm experimenting with wearing them during the day as long as I'm not doing something that will get them dirty, like cleaning, cooking or yard work. Which kind of leaves typing, reading, playing the piano. So right now, while I am typing this blogpost, I am wearing the gloves. Which is slowing me down something fierce because my movements are constricted enough to make me make a lot more errors than usual, which in turn means constantly going back to make corrections! ARGH!
I think reading would probably be fine. When I'm reading I don't notice ANYTHING else. It's me and the book and that's it. But playing piano I think will be an even bigger challenge than typing. I haven't tried it yet, but I will. Maybe I will get used to it. Let's just start out assuming that I will.
I will not be wearing them outside. Not because I give a damn what anyone thinks but because it's too damned hot. Still. Maybe when it's cooler I could try it. In fact, in the winter maybe I will appreciate wearing something on my hands!
The doctor's other suggestion was to take Alleve on a regular basis instead of Advil only when I cannot bear it any longer which is what I was doing. In other words, stay ahead of the pain instead of trying to catch up to it. And Alleve as opposed to Advil because Alleve is supposedly a 12 hour medication meaning taking less medication and I'm always in favour of that. So far I've managed to remember to take Alleve two times this week, at night. So I am not doing a very good job on that end, but I will try harder.
He said that there are shots as a possible future thing but he would advise avoiding it as long as possible (Ok I'm good with that) and he also threw out the possibility of me going to Occupational Therapy which I declined for now at least. It would just one damned more thing on my schedule and I honestly prefer to find new ways to do things on my own. The things I cannot do, there are no work-arounds for. I wave byebye to those things and concentrate on finding new ways to do the things I can do. Pragmatism.
As far as everything else goes, it appears that I am doing the right stuff, exercising, eating (mostly) right, having a good attitude and bless his heart he did not say one single word, not even a hint of a possible suggestion, that I need to lose weight. I am liking him better by the minute.
Unless I have a problem, I don't have to go back for three months. Yay!
So that is the result of the appointment with the arthritis specialist. Aren't you glad you asked?
Please everyone have a wonderful weekend! Have fun and be safe :)
Guess which one of these two people is the Volunteer of the Month for the town of Venice? That would be me. Oh, that's me on the left. I'm standing next to a cut out of Bertha Honore Palmer, probably the single most important person in developing Sarasota county and therefore, the town of Venice. Ms. Palmer looks rather elegant, don't you think?
Yesterday a lovely lady named, Lorraine, from the town came to interview me and take a few photos. Photos! Yikes! (the above is NOT one of them. I took this selfie myself at the museum a few weeks ago on a lark).
Being interviewed was a new experience for me. First of all, in a very efficient way that I applaud, Lorraine, emailed me a list of questions to answer and email back to her. Now doesn't that just make perfect sense? It does to me :) So once we met in person, she already had my answers to those questions as a jumping off point. Lorraine made it a point to put me at ease by first telling me a bit about herself. She, by the way, is a very intelligent and fascinating person on her own.
Then gradually she asked questions, based on my answers to her original questions, to expand or clarify. It was relatively painless although I will admit that many of her questions really made me stop and think before answering instead of just blurting out the first thing that popped into my head (as is my usual way)
I know you are going to find this hard to believe since this blog is basically all about me (such a narcissist!) but most of the time, I am not my favourite topic. Here, I don't see anyone else. It's not a conversation really, or if it is, I feel as if I'm talking to myself. This is almost like a diary, only you ("you" being anyone who actually reads this besides me) are privvy to it.
I have no idea (most of the time) who, if anyone, reads it and who doens't. I do love the positive comments and "likes" (who doens't?) which is pretty much the only way I know who - if anyone - read my post on any given day. Those comments and "likes" tell me that at least regarding that particular post, I had written of a shared experience or feeling. Occasionally something that I wrote about, touched someone in some way. Very Cool! I find that rewarding!
And the few times I have had negative feed back, my sole response is that the reader, like me, is fully entitled to their opinion and if my opinion bothers them that much, my suggestion would be to not read mine. The end. In other words, here I have far more of a sense of control and oddly, annonymity. Considering how many times I have plastered my own stupid face at the top of a post, that is just crazy but it's how it feels to me.
This felt completely different. While being interviewed, in the back of my head constantly was the reminder that this time I have zero control over who reads it, what they think or what, if anything I can do about it. Lorraine told me the number of subscribers the two publications have and frankly, it was too scary to contemplate.
After all was said and done, Lorraine kindly informed me that in about a week she will send me a "proof" of the article and photos so that I can make any necessary corrections, sign off and then it will go to publication.
I am all about new experiences. And as this one went, at least so far, it went far more smoothly than I anticipated. We will see if I feel the same way a week from now when I see the article and photos.
Miranda Lambert wrote a song about how, "Everybody Dies Famous in A Small Town". Here you go, Venice is a pretty small town. I am sitting here chuckling to myself as I write this because right this moment, I find this whole thing kind of funny. When it comes to the concept of "Fame and Fortune" I have long maintained that while I would never be stupid enough to turn down a fortune, I very specifically did not want fame. Perhaps Andy Warhol was right. Everyone really is famous for 15 minutes. This will be mine.
This past Saturday was the 1st annual Venice Rowing Regatta! We made it a point to stop and watch for a bit. It was, at that point of the day, very pretty out; not yet too hot or windy. We stood on the shore of the Intercoastal Waterway for a bit and then climbed the stairs to the Venice Avenue bridge to watch from a higher vantage point.
They called it, The Battle of the Bridges. There are three bridges that join Venice Island to Venice proper (and therefore the real world). And the regatta used all of them. The rowing competition took the 67 competitors teams from the North or KMI bridge, then under the Venice Avenue Bridge and all the way down to the South, or Circus Bridge and then back again for 24 different events. It was pretty darned awesome.
I think rowing is such a pretty sport. Perfectly synchronized, smooth, quiet (other than the cheering from shore at least) and rather like a ballet. Or maybe the way soldiers march and do that rifle drill thing. And since it was on the water, I could not help but think of Esther Williams and her synchronized swimmers. The oars slice into the water leaving little circles beneath as the boats smoothly move forward over and over. If it weren't for those tiny ripples left behind, they would almost appear to be floating over the water.
We have a neighbor who rows. She is an amazing woman, a force of nature. Very petite but clearly strong and disciplined because she is up and out very early in the morning to go row row row her boat. She has suggested more than once that I consider joining her, but I always smile and say, "no thank you".
And it's not just because I am lazy, although, we all know that I am. It's goes back to the clumsy thing. One of the nicknames given to me by my parents as a kid was "Grace" coz I am not. Sort of like a tall person is called "Shorty" or a big guy, "Tiny". My best friend in high school was a dancer. Everything she did was graceful; sit, stand, dance, even fall. Yes, she even fell gracefully. If we stood together at a ballet barre, her every movement would be as beautiful as a butterfly. I could do most of the same things she did, only when I did it, (assuming I didn't fall on my butt while doing it) I looked like a water buffalo attempting ballet. Do you remember that scene from Fantasia with the hippos wearing tutu's and pirouetting around? Yeah, that's pretty much me doing ballet only not as good.
So that's part of it. But also, I actually have rowed before. In Maine. On the ocean. In a rowboat. I spent most of my summers as a kid on the coast of Maine. Apparently one of my arms is much stronger than the other because every time I took the boat out, I traveled in a zigzag pattern. Strong rowing for a few minutes with what appears to be both arms working together but apparently is really only one that took in almost in a circle, and then a lot of shorter strokes with the just the other arm to straighten back out, over and over and over. Row and correct, row and correct. As hard as I tried, I never got better at it. I actually didn't mind very much, but it probably took me twice as long as necessary to get anywhere and it's a good thing there are no lanes in the Atlantic because I'd be over the double yellow for sure!
And then, there is the fact that when rowing, you are traveling backwards. With no mirror. Isn't that a bizarre way to go anywhere? Seems dicey to me.
Now Canoeing makes more sense. First of all, canoers faced forward. To be fair I only ever canoed one time. Tim took me out on the Myakka River in a canoe a few years back, before we ever even thought about moving here. I loved how quiet it was. We didn't even disturb the birds, the fish hardly knew we were there and (gulp) alligators quietly moved past us without acknowledging our existence. (which was fine with me by the way).
Tim had to teach me how to paddle of course, I'd never done it before. But I paid attention and in a very short time, he was not having to remind me of anything or correct my form. I was rather tickled with myself. Silently, we would paddle and glide, occasionally stopping to, without any words, point something out to each other or take a photograph. It was amazing. And then I got cocky. I suggested that Tim stop paddling entirely and let me do the work for awhile. I was in the bow, Tim behind me. "Okay" says he in agreement. I narrowed my eyes, settled my ballcap and adjusted the lifevest to a more comfortable spot. I dipped my paddles back in the water and push. I paddled for all I'm worth. I could feel the strain in my shoulders, the stretch of muscles in my arms. I was positive that we gone miles at the very least. Finally I stopped, panting a little bit. I looked around and well, I'm not certain that we moved at all. Maybe we did big circles and I just didn't realize it. But that's about it.
Tim suggested gently that he paddle and I just take photos and that is exactly what we did. And for us, that worked out perfectly. Occasionally Tim mentions kayaking to me and while I would certainly give it a try, I am pretty sure I already know how that's going to go.
So you see, while I can certainly admire the rowers, I will not be one of them. I can cheer them on from the banks of the ICW. The extent of my participation in any sport is that of spectator. And I think that is an important job too.
It almost never happens but this past Sunday was a blob day.
Tim has been working mad-crazy hours and while I don't get a paycheck for my job, I've been working at home and volunteering all sorts of extra as well. And while we really enjoy what we do, we also love our time after work and on the weekends to do fun things, get out and about or spend time with friends. And then, for reasons known only to the sandman, neither of us has been sleeping much lately. So by the time this past Sunday rolled around, even though we had every intention of both getting some things done and then getting out to have some funfunfun, neither of those things happened.
First of all, we were awake before the sun was up, having gone to sleep LONG LONG after it had gone down the night and even then we slept sporadically, so basically it was another non-sleeping night. Then, as we stumbled around bumping into walls, neither of us could make a decision to save our lives. The question, "What do you want for breakfast?" had the same degree of difficulty as solving the Millennium Prize Problems!
We sat on the sofa starring at the wall, not moving. One of us (and I honestly don't recall which) said, "What do you want to do today?". The other of us, about 5 minutes later said, "I don't have any idea, you?" And another 5 minutes or so passed, I think I fell asleep for a few minutes there, but eventually the answer was, "Nope, you?" We get kind of goofy when we are that kind of tired.
In fact, when I am that kind of over tired, first I'm silly and then I alternate that with crying for absolutely no reason that even I understand. Tim just does a lot of slow blinks.
We couldn't make a decisions, couldn't stir ourselves enough to get up and move around and so there we remained. On the sofa, starring at nothing, drifting in and out.
Eventually one of us (and again I honestly don't recall which of us) said, "Let's just veg" and the other one said or did something that indicated agreement. And I recalled that scene in "Pretty Woman" where Julia Roberts suggests to Richard Gere that they just Veg. He didn't know what that meant and she went on to explain that it meant that they should "Lay like vegetables". The mental image makes my eyebrows go stratospheric
Which vegetables do we resemble? And if you say eggplant you are in big trouble!
Neither Tim nor I were raised to "waste" a day just laying on the sofa, eventually summoning up the energy to click on the TV. It's just not what we do. It's not productive. It doesn't accomplish anything. We are goal driven people, both of us. But I am learning, ever so slowly, to listen to my body. And every once in a long while, apparently what it needs is to do absolutely nothing. AND what's more? Occasionally, in a rare blue moon, it's okay.
The hard part, for me anyway, is to not feel bad about spending a day watching old movies and napping on and off throughout the day. I didn't wash a single dish, I didn't make a single meal (there were leftovers enough to just reheat - nobody starved), I didn't even sweep the floor or make the bed. The most energetic thing I managed to do all day was to Skype with youngest son and his wife and she was exhausted too, poor little thing.
I knew I would feel very guilty about it the next day. On Sunday I was too tired to feel guilty. Nope could not even summon up enough energy for guilt. How pathetic is that? But yup, Monday rolled around and there it was. That little voice in my head telling me what a slacker I was the day before. But let's face it, there are always things that need to be done. The gotta-do list is eternal. No matter how hard we work, not matter how much we do, we will never finish it all. There will constantly be more that needs doing. Were anyone's last words, "I wish I had gotten more done on the gotta do list"?
And maybe, just maybe, one of the things on the gotta-do list should be, take care of yourself. Or Rest. Or just Relax! The math is so simple even I can do it. When a person is totally exhausted and they have the opportunity to relax, they should do so. They same way we need to properly fuel the body, we also need to properly rest it.
The fact that we did absolutely nothing all day except nap and watch TV and still, for a change, slept through the night Sunday night tells the story. We truly were exhausted and absolutely needed a blob day. And when I think about it, we earned it. Okay, paid in full.
Talking about "Fast Food" today. Yeah, I know, it's terrible for us. And almost nobody that I know will cop to ever eating this crapfood. And Yet! There are an incredible number of fastfood restaurants across the nation and they are always packed sooooooo somebody is eating there.
I will go ahead and confess first. Sometimes, we do. There I said it. Yes, sometimes the people who live in this house, knowing ahead of time how very awful it is for us, knowing that it's only marginally even categorized as actual food, knowing how doggone many calories are involved, still, on rare occasions, eat fast food. Once in a great while, it's just The Answer to whatever the question is.
Sometimes the question is, we just got off a plane and we are heading home and it's after midnight and we are exhausted but starving and what is open? Fast Food Restaurants is that answer. Years ago when we had a houseful for hungry boys but not a lot of money and we wanted to give them a treat, where was the most obvious place to eat? Fast Food is once again the correct response. After the hurricane last year when we had no electricity for 11 days and had already eaten all of the food in the house that didn't require cooking, the question then was where can we find something to fill our bellies? The answer? Dingdingding...fast food. And every once in a very blue moon the question - at least in this house - is what are you in the mood for that doens't require getting cleaned up, or honestly even getting out of the car and yes Virginia, that answer to that one too is Fast Food.
This came to mind, not because I am in the mood for garbage food, but because I recently learned that the McDonald's Big Mac, which is their signature sandwich, is 50 years old this year! Woohoo! Happy Birthday Big Mac! Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame bun was introduced to all of McDonald's many franchises in 1968. And that got me thinking about McDonalds which easily led to thinking about all the other zillion or so fast food brands out there and how I feel about them.
I was surprised, for example, to learn that Subway is considered fast food. Interesting. I disagree. For me, it shouldn't qualify because it has no drive-through window. To be considered Fast food a restaurant absolutely needs to have service without leaving the car. I think that ought to be one of the rules.
While I have eaten at Burger King, I despise it with every fiber of my being. For whatever reason, my mother loved Burger King and when the boys were little, if she and my dad came up to visit she often oferred to take us out to lunch and it was ALWAYS Burger King. Gack. I'm not sure why I dislike it so much but I suspect it has something to do with the buns. Good bread is key to a good sandwich and I find theirs lacking. I haven't eaten anything from a Burger King in decades. Literally.
When I was in college there was a Burger Chef in town. We students frequented that one. Not because it was any good, you understand, but it was very cheap and most of us were pathetically poor. Sometimes when we were studying all night long and would get rumbly in the tumbly, a few of us would pool our money and walk down the street to Dunkin' Donuts which was open 24/7. How many donuts we bought depended on the amount of money we scraped together. In one instance that I recall, it was one donut. One Single Donut. Brought it back and divided it between us. Honestly it was the best piece of donut I ever ate. We were so hungry. Nowadays Dunkin doens't even make their donuts on site. As far as I'm concerned that was a huge step down. I no longer eat at Dukin' Donuts. But then I also don't drink coffee so I also don't drink there.
Popeyes, I've never eaten at so I cannot tell you how I feel about it although I am going to assume it isn't named after the cartoon character Popeye? I just don't see a connection between Popeye the sailor man and fried food and biscuits. Maybe I'm missing something.
TacoBell? Yikes! When youngest son was in high school, I think he ate there every day for lunch. There was one across the street from the campus. There is not one single solitary thing on that menu that I have even the remotest interest in eating. I don't even like to walk in the door. No thank you very much please.
I've seen quite a number of Checkers restaurants here but I've never eaten at one. I do notice that their prices are low. Really low, like lower than any prices I've ever seen. Which leads me to believe that the quality is commensurate and so, no, I think I could skip Checkers. Although if there had been one in the town I went to college in, I'm sure I woulda been all over it.
Sonic? I love their fresh fruit slushies. That may be all I've ever had from Sonic. I always order a lime fresh fruit slushie and it's always awesome. Cold, icey, freshing, not too sweet. Ahhhhhh. Love it. And I love that it has that old fashioned drive-in kind of vibe. I've actually eaten at a real old fashioned A&W where the staff wheeled out on skates balancing food on the trays. The food was unremarkable really, not bad, not great, just okay. But the show was terrific! And occasionally I enjoy a rootbeer. I'm such a rebel :)
Dairy Queen offers food. I know because I've seen it on their menu but I have never tried it. With DQ I'm all about the Blizzard. Oh me oh my, I do love a DQ Blizzard and hey, did you know it's actually not ice cream? It's something like ice cream but not. More like Ice Milk I suppose which is why for all that it's certainly not health food, it's also not quite so bad for you as a lot of junk food. And honestly I wouldn't care if it was a heart attack in a cup. When I'm in the mood for it, I'm going to eat it anyway.
Every once in awhile, when my iron levels are super low I get a craving for Arby's. All I want is the basic sandwich, no sauce, no sides, no nothin'. Just meat'n'bread. I scarf that thing down so fast I'm surprised I've never choked on it. I should be embarrassed by that, but apparently I'm past the days of being embarrassed by anything that I say or do anymore. It doesn't happen often but once, or maybe twice a year the only thing that is going to satisfy me that day is a hot Arby's basic sandwich and then I'm good again for at least six months.
Chik-fil-A I understand to be a high quality fast food but I only ate there one time and I do not recall the food at all. I do remember the people who worked there being very nice though. Jack-in-the-box, no thanks in a box. The first one I ever went to was in California many moons ago. Didn't care for it then, still don't care for it now. But as a kid I got a kick out of my very dignified father ordering a meal into a clowns face. teehee.
KFC. Hmmmm. Well I kind of like their cole slaw and sometimes their mac-n-cheese is okay but that's about it for me and KFC. Pizza Hut? Gack no! Step away from the hut. I'm not sure what that goo in the box is but I know what it's not. It's not pizza. It's just not. Panda Express? I feel the same way about that place. I'm not sure what it is but it's absolutely not chinese food. Big Nope.
So far I sound like kind of a fast food snob don't I? Well we haven't gotten down to the crux of the biscuit yet. I know there are a ton of other fast food restaurants out there. Most of them I've either never heard of or never tried so I certainly cannot pass Sam-judgement on them. But the last two that I'll talk about today are Wendy's and the fast food giant, the big daddy of them all, McDonalds.
I used to really like Wendy's'. I loved their baked potato stuff with broccoli and cheese. YUM. It's been axed from their menu and before it disappeared, the quality had really gone downhill on that tater anyway so it was a mercy killing. The sandwiches...ehhh...they are square which is different and sometimes they even listen to me when I say NO ONIONS! Sometimes. But it's not my favourite. Their fries are okay. Not great, but okay. Usually. However, I still love their frosty's. I bring them home and put them in the freezer and eat it the next day. It's like the creamiest ice cream ever but with little ice crystals for crunch. I don't know why I like it but I do. So Wendy's in my estimation has declined and while I won't snub it outright, if I have a choice, that is not what I'm choosing.
And now, McDonalds. Their fries are still the best. I do not know why they are so good but they just are. Years ago now, McDonalds made this big announcement that they were changing the kind of oil they fried their potatoes in and everyone was panicked in the streets! 'Oh NO! The fries will never be the same. It's ruined!!!" But it wasn't ruined, the fries are still awesome and of course the hotter they are, the better they taste. Hate their milkshakes. Disgusting. Do not EVER order their milkshakes. Gross. But their hamburgers are still okay. I'm okay with the little singles, I'm okay with the doubles but if I'm going to break the calorie bank by eating at McDonalds I am going whole hog, if you will excuse the expression. I'm eating a Big Mac. And yes, I can. Eat. The. Entire. Thing. It may be ALL I eat that day, but there is just something very satisfying about that sandwich. It's awful for me, I know that. It's at least a zillion calories. I know that. It's probably only just barely actual food and I know that too. But on the unusual day that we eat at Mcdonalds I want a Big Mac and fries. That's all. And life it good once again.
I would say that it's a rare and guilty pleasure except that I don't feel guilty about it at all. Not one single solitary bit.
Let's have a respectful moment of silence in memory of my old hairdryer. It looks good doesn't it? And it went, much too soon.
I was in the midst of drying my hair the other morning, and suddenly I heard a little "pop" sound and then there was that awful bitter burning smell that I could taste and what little air wheezed out of the old girl was cool. How sad. And by the way, it always happens in the middle of drying/styling the hair. Not at the beginning when I could have just let the entire thing air-dry or at the end when I was already done. No. Exactly half way through when one side of my hair was starting to look fairly decent but I hadn't yet touched the other side.
I don't know about you, but if I air-dry my hair, it looks COMPLETELY different than if I blow dry my hair. So that day I felt unbalanced all day. Left side was one .....okay let's call it a look.... and the right side completely different. Not pretty.
It felt to me as if I had just bought the darned thing too. But as it turns out it was about two years ago. Shortly after we moved here the exact same thing happened and off I went to the store and bought a new one. Two years just seems to be a very short period of time for an electronic piece of equipment to last. Yes I use it almost every single day, but it's not as if I don't take proper care of my things.
Tim reminded me I didn't do my homework and read reviews and that since I am so doggone tight with a buck that I tend to buy inexpensive things I shouldn't expect them to last very long. His general feeling is that you get what you pay for. And sometimes, I agree, sometimes that is true. But not always. And he is also right in that I didn't read any reviews ahead of time. I didn't have time! I needed to dry my hair! And also I didn't think of it the previous time. So this time, I did.
I went online and read reviews of various hairdryers. All sorts of brands and price tags. First of all I was shocked at how expensive some of them are! Holy Cats! I'm not saying that they aren't worth the money, just I cannot make myself spend that kind of money on a hair dryer. I'm not a famous person who needs to look camera ready every day. I also don't have really complicated or super thick hair that needs extra special tending. Heck, I don't even have a paying job that requires that I look business good. Nope, I'm really only bothering to please myself and apparently I set the bar pretty low.
Secondly, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that my hairdryer, the one that just died, got 4 stars. That's 4 out of a possible 5 stars, by the way, not 4 out of 20 or something crazy like that. So honestly, 4 stars isn't bad at all.
So from this collective information I am going to make a leap here and surmise that perhaps, two years is the built-in obsolescence of the average 4 star hair dyer. I'm only guessing you understand. I have no scientific studies to back me up. But since I paid less than 20 bucks for it, I suppose that is reasonable. (well not to me but then again, I'm ridiculous).
Did you know that the expected length of time for the average large appliance such as a washing machine or a refrigerator to last is only 7 years? True. Think about how much money you spent on your last washer. And that's for only 7 years. Even if you divide the original price by 7 to get the actual "cost per year" it's still crazy.
I know that I'm seriously dating myself here but I remember when, for example, a Maytag Washing Machine was expected to last twenty years or more! I believe that to be a good cost per year! Nowadays even Maytag is in the 7 year category. And of course the lower level appliance you buy, the lower the expectation is.
I believe that it's possible to still build appliances, be they large or small, that last twenty years. But in our consumer driven society, that doesn't make the companies nearly as much money as a 7 year large appliance or a 2 year small appliance and therefore, they don't. And people will continue to throw out the one that doesn't work and buy a new one. Maybe even a more expensive one.
So with those thoughts in mind I went to good old Walmart and bought a new hair dryer:
Looks remarkably like the old one doesn't it? That's because it is. It was still less than 20 dollars and my feeling is that if whatever hairdryer I buy is only going to last me two years, I'm not going to spend one more penny than I absolutely half to on it.
Yup I am frugal, cheap, miserly, tight with a dollar, whatever you want to call it. But I'm now set for the next two years and today my hair looked pretty good.
We learned, very recently, that Florida residents get a big discount on admission to the Mote Aquarium on September Saturday's! Discount? Oh yeah, that sounds like me. I'm all over that.
Which is why, this past Saturday found us at the Aquarium! We had actually been there before but it was a very long time ago. At least 15 years, perhaps more. Honestly, I didn't remember much about it which says to me that it wasn't an E-ticket kind of experience. I always have a good time, everywhere I go, but some experiences are just more of a standout than others. Apparently that one wasn't.
I recall visiting the Mystic Sealife Aquarium in Mystic Connecticut. I remember wandering through the big New England Aquarium in Boston. I even remember visiting the Aquarium in Maui! But this one just slipped through the holes in the sieve I like to call my memory banks.
So obviously we weren't, "Woohoo! Hurrah! We are going back to the Mote!" No it was more, "Well, we haven't been in a long time and it's something different to do and it's only 7 bucks". So Saturday, roughly mid-afternoon, off we went.
I must interject here that I am always a little ambivalent about visiting zoo's or aquariums or anything like that. While on one hand, I love seeing the animals (or sealife or whatever), I hate that they are in cages regardless of how lovely and well thought out and carefully constructed those cages are. And honestly, this visit was no different, I still felt that same twinge. But I also was delighted to see some of my favourite sea creatures there. So my emotions the entire time kept struggling back and forth. Having a conscience can be exhausting!
Still, I could sit and watch the moon jellyfish forever. Scientists believe that watching fish is very soothing and stress relieving. It doesn't work for me with all sealife but moon jellies, absolutely. I don't even know why really. It's almost hypnotizing. (If I start clucking like a chicken mid-sentence you will know that's it's more than "almost")
Another favourite of mine are the river otters. Oh my goodness. Those funny little critters just amuse me to no end. There were three of them frolicking and playing and swimming together. They are the clown princes (and princesses) of the animal world. And such high energy! They just gogogogogo all of the time! I understand that they sleep lying on their backs in the water, holding paws with their fellow otters. How cute is that?
We enjoyed all of the exhibits actually (with those guilt tinges mingled in). The seahorses are fascinating. They never look quite real to me. Manatees, those dear, sweet, friendly, giant creatures, look like stuffed animals that have been rather the worse for being hugged too much. Sharks are still terrifying.
We got to "pet" sea rays and teensy gold sharks. I absolutely didn't pet the sea urchins! Nopenope. My mama didn't raise a fool. But I did enjoy the star fish! And the octopus! And, and, and...well almost everything.
The one thing I did not enjoy one single solitary bit were the screaming, shrieking, out of control children. Now, I adore children. Everybody's kids. Mine, yours, theirs. all of them. BUT honestly! People were wincing, holding their ears, walking around with their shoulders up to their earlobes and racing through certain exhibits trying to escape the sound. And it wasn't just one or two kids. It was scads of them.
We would leave one exhibit breathing a sigh of relief, move to the next one and yikes...more screaming and shrieking! I understand that kids get excited, but why weren't the parents trying to help them calm down? Nope they were on their phones. Probably didn't notice it at all. I took my three boys with me nearly everywhere I went and there is no way I would ever have put up with that behaviour. To be fair it wasn't all of the kids. Some of them were just awesome! Enjoying everything just like we were. But those other ones....yikes! Ok I'm done complaining about that!
We went, we enjoyed and at some point, we will probably go back. Maybe I"ll bring noise cancelling headphones! Before I go, here are some of the other awesome stuff we saw. Hope you enjoy it, even if, like me, you feel just a tiny bit of guilt doing so.
We have made the most wonderful discovery! Big Olaf! Need more information? Okay. How about 40 different kinds of locally hand made, fresh ingredients, high butterfat ice cream? Oh and all sorts of different coffees? Chai Latte's? Breakfast Sandwiches, Gourmet hotdogs? And Karoke! They call themselves a creamery, but it's so much more!
The first time we ran across this small local brand was at our local farm market. In their small freezer were enormous white tubs with blue and red writing and Big Olaf was the name-o. Never heard of it, I thought to myself and I continued to contemplate other purchases. I did notice however, that at least half of the people at the market had those tubs in their carts. Hmmmm.
Then I don't recall if I read in the newspaper or heard it on the radio, but it was an ad for a local Big Olaf's creamery. "We ought to check that out" I said to Tim and he nodded and that was the end of that until this weekend. I knew we had no plans to go anywhere on Sunday after our flu shots and perhaps I felt inclined to treat myself as a reward for behaving so well during said injection. (I know, I know secretly I'm a three year old) So after we finished doing everything else we needed to do, we headed off island to check out the local Big Olaf's.
It was in a large plaza filled with all sorts of other things. Big Olaf's Creamery was perched at the end of the row, with lots of room and an appealing entrance. I was delighted from the first step in the door. There was a grand piano in one corner of the front that actually is a player piano! The website indicates that that piano is so mart it knows upwards of 600 songs! Wow!~ Loads of tables and chairs and two enormous chalk boards listing the many, many options. They had me at piano.
The owners, John and Susan Stone were right on hand to help us out and they were absolutely delightful. Very welcoming and happy to meet us. Turns out that they moved here from Connecticut. And since we, at one time, lived in Connecticut, there was that immediate familiarity to begin what I'm sure will be a long and wonderful relationship.
The most difficult part of the entire visit was deciding what to order. I am not a hotdog fan myself, but Tim is and honestly, if I was ever going to eat a hotdog, it would probably be one of these. I, naturally, opted for ice cream. But which one to choose, which one to choose. With, seriously, 40 different options, I knew this was going to take a few minutes. Finally, I selected Rocky Road! Oh my gosh! I wish I had bothered to take the time to take a photo of the ice cream because it looked amazing and it tasted even better! I'm a little embarrassed that I didn't manage to hold myself back from eating long enough to get that photo for you.
We do however, have a photo of me enjoying the ice cream. As I sat on the bench in front of the shop, Tim snapped a quick picture: (most adorable bench ever!)
Do I look happy? Oh yeah, I was happy. And if you went there, you would be happy too!
If you are a local, check it out. You will not regret it! If you are not a local but you come to visit us, anticipate a visit. And then you will be happy too :)
Yesterday Tim and I got our flu shots! Yay us!
We actually went there with the intention of getting the 1st in the series of shingles shots. But as it turns out, there is a shortage of the vaccine and therefore it's unavailable. In fact, the pharmacist told us that there were already 40 people on the waiting list for the 2nd vaccine who had gotten the first already. Obviously, they are at the head of the line when vaccine shows up again.
I don't get this shortage of vaccine thing. They keep lambasting us with..."get this vaccine, get this vaccine". Okay, we are trying to do what what we were told and then...."nope, only fooling. We don't have any". That was kind of annoying. And Surprising.
But we didn't want to waste the inclination to be be stuck with needles so when the pharmacist offered us our flu shots instead, even though it was a month earlier than we usually do it, we said, "what they heck, let's do it". I wear my bandaid proudly.
I never really thought about the whole flu shot or not debate until I worked at Hospice which is probably 25 years ago or so. In fact, nobody even asked if I wanted the shot. One of the nurses came up to me and asked if I was allergic to eggs, I said no why? And the other nurse jabbed me with a needle. Ouchie. Turned out it was a requirement at that job. I thought about it later and it made perfect sense. Working around sick and dying people and the people who care for those sick and dying people put us at higher risk. And if we got sick, we could imperil those same patients and their familes. Also I didn't want to be sick myself and possibly pass it along to my family. Selfish I suppose, but hey, it's honest.
From that point forward I have made it a point to get my flu shot (almost) every single year. And in all of that time, I only got the flu once. Once was enough. It was probably one of the most miserable weeks I've ever spent. Let's not EVER do that again.
And misery aside because Ok I could be miserable for a week. Obviously. I already was. But influenza doens't just make people sick. It can actually kill you. In 1918 influenza, or "the flu", killed between 50 and 100 million people in the world, 2/3 of them in a single 10 week period of time. 675,000 of those people were in the US. In New York City alone the flu killed 20,000 and produced 31,000 orphans. In Philadelphia, priests drove carts through the streets encouraging people to bring out their dead so that they could be buried. People cowered in their homes, afraid to be around other people who might possibly carry the disease. It was a terrible time. And it wasn't just the elderly, the ill or babies who have not yet built up an immune system who died. Perfectly robust healthy people went to work feeling fine in the morning and were dead by the end of the day. Seriously.
There have been three flu pandemics since 1918. Thomas Frieden who stepped down as the head of the CDC last year said in an interview, "We always worry about pandemic influenza because this has the potential to kill so many people. We stockpile antivirals for an emergency. But much more is needed to both track influenza better around the world and devlop a better flu vaccine."
A Vaccine. Yes to fight against it and that's because there is no cure for the flu. It's a tricky virus and morphs into something different every year. We have no control over this virus. It does exactly as it pleases. The best thing that we can do, is to arm ourselves as best we can against it.
The 1918 influenza pandemic was terrifying and I know you are thinking. "yes but that was 100 years ago. Old news. Ancient history." It might interest you to know that in 1957 the "Asian Flu" left as many as 4 million dead around the world. As recently as 2009 there were 60.9 million cases of the flu reported in the US. Far more cases are suspected to have been active, but unreported. Nearly 600,000 people died. That is only 9 years ago.
So, with that in mind, I believe I will continue to get my annual flu shot. Wear my little bandaid and have a tiny bit of a bruise for a couple of days. I do not care to be that sort of statistic thank you very much.
Meanwhile, we will keep checking to see when the Shingles vaccine is available again. Tim has zero desire to ever suffer shingles again. And now that I have witnessed his bout, I am feeling the same way.
You know when I was a kid, people still got measles, mumps, whooping cough, scarlett fever and polio. I had every kind of measles a person could have. For some reason I had some sort of proclivity to the disease. I do not recall suffering mumps but I had scarlett fever, very badly and ended up with hearing loss as a result. I am very fortunate that by the time I was in school, a polio vaccine had been developed. It was bright pink and was extremely sweet but the sweetness merely covered a superbly nasty bitterness that lingered on the tongue. They lined us up against the wall in the cafeteria and every child was given a tiny pleated papercup of the vaccine to bolt down our gullets. But unlike far too many people, I did not get polio. I am so grateful that I was not one of the unfortunate before Dr. Salk's vaccine was available, who either died, spent their lives inside an iron lung machine or had to use braces and crutches to walk for the rest of their lives.
I remember the misery of having measles. Fever, achy body, coughing through a painful throat, sore eyes, lying in a darkened room for endless days, waiting for it to be over. I remember every families fear that polio would strike. I remember the sound of children with whooping cough, spasms wracking their little bodies, gasping for air that would not come. Those kinds of diseases are terrifying.
I am certainly never going to tell someone else what to do. We all make our own choices. But you better believe that my kids had every vaccine that was available to them. And Tim and I will absolutely do the same for our own sake and for the safety of those around us.
Just sayin' It's flu season already. If you are so inclined, go get your shot!
I overheard someone the other day who was talking on their cell phone in a very public place. I was not eavesdropping. I couldn't NOT hear. And they said one thing that just broke my heart. With tremendous weight to the sentences he said, "It doesn't matter, nothing matters. I don't care." Holy cats. I am of a completely different train of thought. I believe that everything matters and especially us. We matter.
None of us are invisible in this world. Did you ever give much thought to how very many things there are that represent you? I mean each of us, specifically and individually. It's a lot!
First of all, our names. Technically, my name is Sandra Faye Hurley Graham Humphreys. The full name I was given at birth, plus my first married name then my current married name. Tim would prefer to say and my LAST married name but you know what I mean. If I google just Sam Humphreys a ton of people show up. Pages and pages and pages before you ever get to the Sam Humphreys that is me and if it wasn't for this blog, it would take even longer. I think the first Sam Humphreys that shows up is an Australian Soccer Player. But if you type in Sandra Faye Humphreys I show up pretty quickly. Just an address thing, probably the white pages for my town. Any combination of those names is me but apparently it's also a lot of other people.
Now if you put my birthdate with it, we get a little more specific. Up pops facebook pages for everyone with my name and birthdate. Look at that. Now I am absolutely not the only person in the the world born on July 9th 1953. I share that day with a ton of people. Among them a cosmonaut, an author and a choreographer. But it does help narrow the field down.
Then of course there is my address. That's it in the photo above. 344 Bayshore Dr. I am the ONLY Sam Humphreys living at this address. Very specific. We have now narrowed the field down to one. Just me.
And still there are so many other numbers that represent me. My phone numbers, both the house number and my cell number. My social security number of course. In theory anyway, I am the only person ever on the planet to have the specific S.S. number forever and ever amen.
Bank account numbers, credit card numbers, library card number. All of those paths lead directly to me. No the soccer player in Australia or the cosmonaut in Russia, just me. I have patient ID numbers at every doc and dentist office I have ever gone to and every pharmacy I've have ever gotten a prescription filled at.
I had a student ID number at both of the colleges I attended and account numbers for every service we are provided: water, garbage pick up, electric and so forth. I had employee ID numbers for payroll purposes at every job I've ever had and volunteer ID numbers for all of the volunteer positions I've held over the years.
Do not get me started on passwords. There are so many passwords that are specific to me that if I dared to give it more than a seconds thought I would just throw my hands in the air and give up entirely. As I say, we are not invisible even if we wanted to be.
And then there if filial connections. I am Dot and Larry's Daughter, Tim's wife, Hurley, Corbin and Thatcher's Mother, Jessie, Julie and Rachel's Mother-in-law. I am Joy's sister, Carrie and Stacy's aunt and Kay, Ken, Carol, Bill and Annette's cousin. I am Shorty and Leatha's niece.
(Side note here: My mother was born and raised in a teensy little bitty town on the coast of Maine. Every summer when we showed up again, at some point, someone would point at me and say (in a deep Maine drawl), "Aren't you little Dottie' Howard's girl?" Yessir I am.)
I'm my ESL students' teacher. I am that lady at the museum. I'm that nice lady down the street. And that blonde lady with the blue mat at Pilates class.
Once upon a time I was that lady who teaches the classes at the audiology office. At another point in my life I was the lady who co-chairs the Task Force. At other times I was the voice on the other end of the phone at a Hospice and at an Oncology Unit.
My goodness, the list goes on and on, doesn't it. For each of us! And in every single one of those connections, I interacted with people. Which means that in some way, I affected their lives. And they affected mine. I am who I am because of all the people I've known, all the places I've been and all the things I have done.
If ever in your life for one minute you believe that you haven't accomplished anything and that you are just a nameless, faceless number, please let me assure you that you mistaken. You have made a difference just by existing. You are the only one of you to ever occupy space on this planet. You are the only one of you that ever will. You have reached people, you have touched their hearts and you have made a difference. Every place you have been, everything you have done represents who you are.
We all matter.
I don't know about you but as much as I enjoy a 3-day weekend, and believe me I so totally do, my internal clock and calendar is messed up for the rest of the week.
Today is Thursday. Normally Thursday is the eve of Happy Dance Friday, y'know? The weekend is very nearly in sight. I can start getting a little bit excited. Thursday is the day that, traditionally, I tell myself to just Hang in there for only a couple more days and then it's Woohoo! Weekend!
But the week that follows a 3-day weekend, I have no idea what any day is. Even the 3-day weekend itself is a little confusing. Every single day feels like Saturday. So it's three Saturday's in a row. And while it's nice, it throws every day that follows that off kilter.
If Saturday is Saturday, and Sunday is Saturday and then Monday is Saturday then Tuesday is Sunday? No wait Tim is back working at his desk it must be Monday. Except that it's actually Tuesday. It's a MondayTuesday. That's the worst sort of Tuesday.
All week long I've had to be constantly checking my desk calendar to reassure myself I was in the right place at the right time and that is unusual for me.
Like most people, there is a rhythm to my week. Certain things that happen certain days. For instance, I change sheets on Mondays. I'm not sure how that came to be, but Monday has been sheet changing day for long enough that it's my pattern. Tuesday mornings find me at Pilates class first thing. Wednesdays mornings I go to the gym with Tim bright and early. Thursdays I teach my ESL student. Fridays...well you get the idea. Certain things happen on certain days.
If you accused me of being in a rut, that would probably be fair to say, but it's just how things happen. By way of example:
Our garbage trucks pick up on Mondays and Thursdays. Which means, I have to remember to gather said garbage and take it to the curb Sunday and Wednesday nights. Because it's a nice constant, I have no problem remembering to do this. There is no last minute panic stricken hearing the big old truck rumble and clank down the road and running outside in my PJ's dragging cans from the side of the house toward the street yelling, "Wait! Wait!" which I have seen happen. Just not at my house. Because I am in tune with the rhythm of it all. Except on a three day weekend when there was no pick up on Monday. But of course, since Sunday felt like Saturday, there was no issue with me remembering to bring the garbage to the curb anyway so I suppose that worked out.
On Wednesday and Saturday we get two newspapers, the big one out of Tampa and the local paper from here in Venice. So if I walk to the end of the driveway early in the morning and see two newspapers, I can at least whittle the possibilities of what day it is down to two. If one of those people forgets to deliver our paper, I have no idea what day it is.
For whatever reason, I tend to do my grocery shopping on Thursdays. If you see me at the grocery store, odds are really good it's a Thursday. If you see me at the grocery store on a day other than Thursday it means I forgot something absolutely essential and I'm running in for just that one item.
If I am at the museum, you can bank that it's the middle of the week because Wednesday is my museum day. (Except in August when the museum is closed of course which is an entire other issue. What do I do with myself on Wednesday if I'm not at the museum?)
Friday has become bathroom cleaning day. Not quite sure how that happened, but every Friday, armed with lots of cleaning stuff and a stern attitude, I scrub both bathrooms to within an inch of it's tile. And since I'm already in full on cleaning mayhem mode, generally that means the rest of the house needs to submit to my ministrations too even though I've already done at least a half-assed job of cleaning earlier in the week. Tidying happens all the time. I tend to clean as I go. But it's not the whoa baby level of cleaning that happens on Fridays. Maybe it's just like putting an exclamation point at the end of a sentence. Because unless I make one hell of a mess in the kitchen over the weekend, cleaning is not on my weekend agenda.
So you see, all this week I've been utterly perplexed. I have no idea what day it is, what time it is or what I was supposed to be doing. I've felt unsettled and a little, well, just wrong. No day has felt like what it is. It wasn't immobilizing of course. I figured it out. I ended up being where I was supposed to be and doing what I was supposed to do. But, even so, every day this week felt like I was wearing someone else's shoes and they didn't fit quite right. It's okay. I mean nobody else can see that it's wrong. But I can feel it and it bugs the heck outta me.
Maybe it's just me. Maybe every other person on the planet has no problem at all adapting to the week that follows at 3-day weekend. Could be. I'm that kind of weird for sure.
I did love seeing Tim relax and enjoy three days off in a row and getting to hang out with him. That was awesome. And I do remember how it felt when I was still working to have those three consecutive days with no obligation other than the ones I chose to have. But even back when I did have an office to be at most work days, the week following that 3-day weekend was killer. And secretly I was always relieved to get back into the rhythm of a "normal" week afterwards.
I guess it's just part of the price we pay for the 3-day weekend.
I broke another doggone dish. I was emptying the dishwasher and I'm not exactly sure how it happened. One minute the plate was in my hand and the next it was in pieces on the floor. Many, many pieces, scattered from one end of the kitchen to the other. You know how that goes. Tile floors are unforgiving. No dish stands a chance against a tile floor.
My dratted hands are the culprit. I've never had pretty hands, but they were at least strong and capable. Nowadays I tend to drop things. We are down to only 5 of the small plates, 4 bowls and 7 of the larger plates. Originially there were 8 of each. Sometimes they get dropped in the sink or on the countertop but usually it's the floor. Smashola! Maybe I need to invest in something sturdier, like plastic or concrete.
I've always been clumsy so that part isn't new. But it definitely gotten worse with the advent of arthritis in my life. And you know, it isn't as if nobody prepared me. The jokes, the stories, the not so subtle inferences that getting older was no picnic. We've all heard them. But I was sure that I would be different. I would stay strong and healthy, I would take care of myself, keep my mind sharp and my knowledge base current. And above all, I would keep a good attitude.
And I've done, or at least tried to do, all of those things. But none of them prevented the one thing that seems to make me feel older than everything else combined. Arthritis. My arch nemesis!
It started maybe ten years ago. But at first y'know, it's not really a big deal. Some minor discomfort in one finger joint or another. And over time, I have kind of gotten used to it. Even as the discomfort became worse and the inconveniences began to pile up, it was a slow descent into this issue and so I equally slowly adjusted to it and didn't give it a lot of thought. I just accomodated the changes and tried to ignore how it felt.
And then I realized one day not long ago, that we only had 5 small plates left and that the reason is because I have accidentally dropped and broken them and damn that kind of ticks me off. I mentioned it to my regular doc at my last visit. He gave it a lot of thought, asked me a zillion or so questions and then sent me to have x-rays taken. The result of which was that, "the degradation is far worse than suspected" and I was next ordered to have blood tests done.
Okay. Off I went. The result of those was a referral to a specialist. The suspicion here is that I have not osteo-arthritis which is what I was originally told but perhaps I have rheumatoid arthritis instead. So I made the appointment. And as is always the case with specialists, there is a ton of paperwork to be filled out and appointments are booked out months.
It took a bit more than a half hour to fill out the paperwork. It was very thorough. In one section they asked some very specific questions about my level of ability. Things like, can I tie my shows, button my clothes, dress myself, wash myself. The answers are yes, yes, yes and hell yes. So it's obvious that my problems are very small compared to a lot of people. Still there are things I can no longer do. Those questions are not on the forms but they are things that are important to me.
For instance, I can no longer:
1) Play violin. Forget proper form. Forget discomfort. Even if I could find a way to hold the bow with my right hand without dropping it a dozen times, the fingers of my left hand, which are the ones that hold down the strings no longer work properly. Two of those fingers do not even touch the strings. They are sticking out in all sorts of wierd, wrong directions none of which are in the direction of the neck of the instrument. Bizarre.
2) Play the guitar. Same basic reason, but chords as opposed to individual notes and of course no bow. Probably could twiddle a few things out badly but, dang.
3) Sign. My youngest daughter-in-law who is deaf, has taught me a little bit of sign language. While I understand at least some of what she signs to me (occasionally just to keep me in practice) I can no longer sign back. My fingers just cannot make the proper shapes anymore. It's a communication problem.
4) Make a fist. No matter how much somebody may deserve being punched, I cannot be the puncher. My hands no longer can make a fist.
5) Snap my fingers. You'd be surprised how often this comes up.
Then there are the things that I can do, it just takes me a little longer and maybe it's not as pretty as when other people do it. Things like:
1) Working a jewelry clasp. There have been days when I decline to wear a necklace or bracelet. Not because I don't want to wear it, but because I have tried and failed multiple times to work the clasp and I got frustrated and quit trying rather than continue trying and eventually get it. Usually I stick with it until it's done, but occasionally.....
2) Putting a fitted sheet on the bed. Takes a little longer and involves my right knee and both hands. But I get it done every damned time! yay me!
3) Playing piano. Not so pretty but I keep playing. Almost every day. Papa Hayden is rolling over in his grave, or at least he is twitching pretty good every time I have the audacity to tickle the ivories, but I'm still at the keyboard working at it. I used to say I was a pianist. Now I just say that I play the piano. Some days, I sort of play the piano.
4) Shake hands. It's not that I cannot, it's that most people squeeze too hard. Ouchie. I avoid it when I can and I'm gracious about it when I cannot. But I dread the hearty handshake. And usually I can tell when it's going to happen before it does which is good because then I can have just a pleasant expression on my face and a nice howdy do on my lips rather than the grimace and ouchie that I'm thinking.
5) Decorating Baked Goods. I can still do it. They just don't come out quite as pretty as I'd like and the more things I have to decorate, the less prettier they become. Still taste yummy though.
Anyway. I don't mean to be all whiny about this. It is what it is. I have no idea what this specialist is going to say or even if there is anything that can be done. But I suppose at least I will know after the appointment (which isn't until next month). And meanwhile, I will keep on keeping on.
In a weird way, it's all good. I get a great sense of satisfaction when there is something that is very hard for me to do anymore and I figure out a way to do it anyway. HAH!
Eventually I will have broken enough dishes to warrant buying new ones and I will figure work-arounds for everything else. I may not be able to do everything the way I used to, but I'm very creative and I will find a different way.
Saw one of these over the weekend at the jetty. Never saw a limo there before so it caught our eyes. Fortunately it wasn't a crowded or busy place that day because that vehicle required a lot of room to get in, park and get out. Face it, those babies take up some serious space. Luckily, it was not an issue.
It was a wedding party and their photographer. What a lovely backdrop for wedding photos I thought to myself. Or at least it would have been if it had been a pretty day.
One of the reasons that the jetty wasn't busy of course was that it's off season here. But the other reason was the weather. It was Very windy and a little sprinkley with obvious plans for full on rain to come. The bride gave up on her veil in very short order. The wind was either trying to yank it out of her head like a teasing big brother or completely tangling her up in it like a fish in a net. It was not pretty. But her dress was lovely with the big full skirt and the sparkly top. The groom also looked dapper in his black tuxedo. And I have no doubt that their wedding photos will look dramatic with her skirt billowing in the wind. The sparkly bodice of her dress maybe would have caught the light better on a sunny day but what you gonna do?
I was entranced enough by the limo itself that the wedding party was just a side note to me. I've never been in a big old limo like that before. Oh I've been chauffeured in town cars before and that was lovely but there just is something so very elegant-seeming about a big old stretch limo. It could be all hype of course. Just that silver screen magic. But it is now clear to me that I have bought into it completely. And the picture in my head is very specific.
I've seen limos in white and I know that is often the choice for weddings but probably in the same way that I wouldn't choose to buy a white car, I wouldn't choose to ride in a white limo. I'm not sure what my issue is with white cars but it's an issue and apparently it extends to limousines. I've also seen them in pink. I simply cannot take a pink limousine seriously . Nope. Once saw a limo painted in camouflage. Had to bite my tongue to not laugh out loud. I guess I'm kind of a snob. Oh my! I didn't realize that about myself until right now. Shame on me.
Well I'm not saying that a white, pink or cammo limousine isn't right for anyone. I'm just saying that it is not right for me.
Nope, when I finally get to ride in big old stretch limo, it will be a classic. An older one that's beautifully maintained. It will be shiny, comfy, super luxe and black. Again I have no idea why that is the picture stuck in my head, but stuck it is. Probably too many old back and white movies. And now that I think of it, since they actually were black and white films, who knows what colour those limousines actually were? That honestly never occurred to me before. Hah! I am ridiculous.
See in the picture in my head, Tim and I are both decked out in full gussy. I don't know where we are going. Could be the opera, could be McDonalds, I have no idea. But wherever we are heading in this mythical big old gorgeous classic limousine, we look really good in it. We also look good getting in and out of it. Sigh. What a lovely mental image. I wish you could see inside my head. You would think it looked good too.
Maybe if I had gone to a prom I might have gone in a limo and had this out of my system. I went to high school in Texas but not to prom. It was a traditional thing at that time for people to go to their proms in a limo. Sometimes several couples would throw their money in together to afford it. A few couples limo'ed solo. I have no idea if that is still how it's done today.
Or perhaps if our wedding had been both bigger and more elaborate requiring a limo this would have been over and done with for me and I could check it off the list. Our wedding was so small, that even if we could have afforded a limo you could have fit the entire wedding party in it! Too funny.
Funny, I didn't think I had a bucket list but apparently I do! And riding in a gorgeous limousine seems to be on that list. I guess I need to give more thought to the items on the list that I didn't even know existed until this minute! Who knows what else I'll find on there.
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.