Wednesday, November 8, 2023

A Genre With All The Words


Name any movie in the genre of "made-for-TV, science fiction, action, comedy, horror, disaster." Hint: There was a series of films made in this style between 2013 and 2018.  Per Wikipedia: "The first two films received mixed to positive reviews from critics, while the others received negative reviews." Rotten Tomatoes gives the first film 75%, the second one 61%, and the remaining movies anywhere from 14% to 36%.



So bad, it's good. 

We stumbled upon it quite by accident because we would have never seen it otherwise. Indeed, we've been actively avoiding the Sharknado movies. The name alone should tell you that it's not worth seeing.

Then, one day, I heard an interview about "Surely You Can't Be Serious: The True Story of Airplane!" by David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and Jerry Zucker. I thought, that (Airplane!) would be a fun movie to see again.

While I was looking for ways to stream the Airplane!, we came across Sharknado and the only reason we picked it was because we could stream it for free. 

It was entirely worth every penny! 

But then we were hooked. The first one was bad but the second one was elevated to cult level bad. It's like everyone got the joke with the first one and wanted in. The cast of the second movie includes Vivica A. Fox, Richard Kind, Billy Ray Cyrus, Kelly Osbourne, Judd Hirsch, Robert Klein, Matt Lauer and Al Roker, Michael Strahan, Downtown Julie Brown, Kelly Ripa, and so many others.

My recommendation for this Friday's pizza and movie night is Sharknado and Sharknado 2: The Second One. Even more people signed on to be in the third movie, aptly named Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! If you've got the stomach for it, just keep going. We only made it to the third one. Luckily, there are three more! 

Woo hoo!

Saturday, October 14, 2023

Can I Buy A Vowel?

City News - October 14, 2023

Old Town La Quinta will finally be changing its name to OTLQ in keeping with the NVWL Ordinance of 2020 after the city of La Quinta threatened the village with fines and a potential lawsuit.

"They are a full year past the due date for dropping their vowels," said a City Council member who asked not to be identified as she was not authorized to comment. "The vowel shortage is real."

Concerns over vowel shortage began in 1999 concurrent with the supposed Y2K catastrophe that was expected at the end of the millennium. Vowels started disappearing with little notice in the early 2000s but as new restaurants and businesses began to move into Old Town La Quinta at a higher rate than in recent years, the loss of vowels became more widespread prompting the City of La Quinta to take action with the No Vowel Ordinance (officially, NVWLO).

"First there was RD RNNR," recounted our source. "Everyone thought it was weird but for the most part, no one took any particular notice. They - tourists, that is - they would ask 'How do you even say that?'"

Shortly after RD RNNER opened their doors, TQLAS followed with a name change from Taquillas Agave Bar and Grille. "Residents were okay with it but visitors started to complain which is when the Council took action with NVWLO."

DSRT CLUB, which opened earlier this year, was subject to the Ordinance when applying for its business license which was granted without issue. (Vowels are allowed but must be purchased from the City.)

Demonstrators outside La Quinta City Hall is calling for the city itself to change its name. While the Council will be considering the issue after the next election cycle, they have in the meantime put pressure on Old Town to make the change now. Some demonstrators have said this is not enough and have promised to campaign against candidates who refuse uphold the NVWLO.

While a date has not been officially announced, the name change from Old Town La Quinta to OTLQ is expected to happen before the end of the year.

Sunday, October 8, 2023

El día próximo ...

We met a man from Venezuela. Another visitor from yet another country to rock out to some heavy metal music in the desert. His English was a lot better than my Spanish so I didn't even try. 

Nevertheless, I'm pretty impressed that "Power Trip" turned out to be such an international draw.


Friday, October 6, 2023


Algo muy interesante ocurrió ayer. 

Something very interesting happened yesterday.

Estuve aprendiendo español durante 150 días con Duolingo. Ya había estudiado español durante muchos años en la escuela cuando tenía aproximadamente quince años. ¡Han pasado cuarenta y cinco años desde entonces! Pero decidí que quería practicar mi español y aprender más. 

I was learning Spanish for 150 days with Duolingo. I had already studied Spanish for many years in school when I was about fifteen years old. Forty-five years have passed since then! But I decided that I wanted to practice my Spanish and learn more. 

Y ayer, tuve la oportunidad de practicar lo que había aprendido. 

And yesterday, I had the opportunity to practice what I had learned.

Hay un "dive bar" en mi pueblo. Es pequeño, oscuro y no es elegante. Las bebidas eran baratas y los baños eran muy pequeños. Se llama "Club 5." Pero este fin de semana, el nombre cambió a "High Voltage AC/DC".

There is a "dive bar" in my town. It is small, dark and not elegant. The drinks were cheap and the bathrooms were very small. It's called "Club 5." But this weekend, the name changed to "High Voltage AC/DC."

La razón es que la banda AC/DC está aquí en nuestro pueblo para el concierto "Power Trip". Es una fiesta de bandas de rock durante todo el fin de semana, y AC/DC es una de ellas. Es la banda favorita de mi esposo. 

The reason is that the band AC/DC is here in our town for the "Power Trip" concert. It's a party of rock bands all weekend long, and AC/DC is one of them. It's my husband's favorite band.

Vi en Instagram que era posible conocer a los miembros de la banda en este bar. No sé si era verdad, pero fui al bar de todos modos. 

I saw on Instagram that it was possible to meet the band members in this bar. I don't know if it was true, but I went to the bar anyway.

Hacía mucho calor, pero había mucha gente allí. ¡Eran personas de todo el mundo en este pequeño bar de nuestro pequeño pueblo! Venían de Ecuador, Reino Unido, Australia y hay un hombre de Chile. Seguramente también había muchas otras personas de muchos otros lugares. 

It was very hot, but there were many people there. They were people from all over the world in this little bar in our little town! They came from Ecuador, the United Kingdom, Australia and there was one man from Chile. Surely there were also many other people from many other places.

El hombre se sentó con nosotros y nos dijo que no hablaba inglés. ¡Pero yo hablo un poco de español! ¡Era una oportunidad perfecta para practicar para ambos! Él podía practicar su inglés y yo podía practicar mi español. No fue perfecto, pero nos entendíamos. 

The man sat with us and he told us that he didn't speak English. But I speak a little Spanish! It was a perfect opportunity to practice for both of us! He could practice his English and I could practice my Spanish. It wasn't perfect, but we understood each other.

Fue muy divertido pero no conocimos a la banda. ¡Tal vez hoy!

It was fun but we didn't meet the band. Maybe today!

Tuesday, August 22, 2023



This video shows some of the damage in the Coachella Valley area. While dramatic, especially to those affected, it could have been much, much worse.

We are fine.

Saturday, August 19, 2023

Hurricane Preparedness

With the advent of Hurricane Hilary, the townspeople are on the verge of panic. News outlets warn of flooding, evacuations, and rescues. Flights have been canceled and stations have been set up for obtaining sandbags.

The campus restaurant has closed!

Hubby went to the hardware store at eight o'clock this morning to buy an inverter where there was already a line out the door with people buying generators. He plans to use the inverter to connect the golf cart batteries to the refrigerator for a backup power source.

Wait, I said. What will be the backup power source for the coffee maker?

He shrugged his shoulders not sensing my rising panic. 

Afterwards, he went about making sure the garage floor was clear of anything that could be damaged by water while I made enough cold brew coffee to last a week. While he verified our first aid supplies, I ground some extra coffee to make coffee in my French press should the cold brew run out. While he taped up our plate glass windows, I confirmed all the coffee cups were clean. While he filled the bathtub with water so we could flush toilets, I filled empty containers with water for - well, water. Also, for coffee.

In case of evacuation, tire pressures have been checked, fuel topped off, and blankets and warm clothes are stowed. The coffee travel mugs are secured in their cupholders.

When the neighborhood restaurant closed, I hightailed it to Total Wine!

We have COVID-level amounts of toilet paper, plenty of canned food, lanterns, and Scrabble. All of the devices have been charged. And, if worse comes to worse, I have about five pounds of coffee beans in the freezer that I can just gnaw on.

We should be fine.

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Will work for stars

The stars aligned this week. I'm not talking about the picket line in Hollywood or the Perseid meteor shower. I'm talking Starbucks.

They have my number, Starbucks does, with their stars. I support craft beer but I don't have the same loyalty toward craft coffee. Why? Because of those damned stars. 

(If my boss had figured out that I was motivated by stars, he would have retained my services a lot longer. Too late for that now.)

This week, three Starbucks promos overlapped. The first one promised 35 bonus stars if I bought something - anything - from them two days in a row inside of a week. Honestly, I don't usually go to Starbucks all that often and I never go two days in a row except when I'm traveling. 

When I went to the grocery store on Sunday, there was a Starbucks inside so it was easy. I went again Monday because, well, there was the matter of 35 stars to be had.

Before the end of the week another promo was offered that overlapped with the first one. It promised 60 more stars if I went three times in the following seven days. It's crazy to go to Starbucks three times in a week. But, because of the overlap, I earned 35 stars on Monday on the first promo while simultaneously logging the first of three coffees on the second promo.

Tuesday, was triple stars day. That meant for any purchase, I earned triple the amount of stars that I would normally get on any other day. Heck, yeah, I went! I bought a latte and two breakfast sandwiches!! I earned triple stars for Tuesday's purchase and and was one day closer to earning another 60 stars on the second promo. Are you getting all this?

Wednesday, I went yet again! I don't know why except maybe I was drunk on stars at the time. This time, I not only got all the stars from all the promos, Starbucks tossed me the keys to my own freaking' franchise!

I'm just rolling in stars now, baby! Woo hoo!!

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Pet Peeve

My pet peeve is poop. Particularly, pet poop. More particularly, my peeve is the pet's person who permits poop in public places. Please, pick up your pet's poop!

One such person perpetually permits its pet to poop near a perimeter gate. The person scoops the poop in a bag and places it purposefully in a pile. With persistence, the pile grows each passing day. Until another person - me - personally picks up the pile and puts it in its proper place. This is quite unpleasant.

There is a pause in the pattern when the person, and, presumably, the pet, pass from this place making my performance somewhat non-permanent. But when the perpetual pooper, from whatever place they perchance visit, returns to this place their pet's perpetual pooping pattern persists.

Please! If a person is permitted to own a pet, said person should be prepared to scoop its pet's poop and place it in its proper receptacle. If said person cannot be personally responsible for its pet they should not be permitted to be a pet person, in my personal opinion. Without opposable thumbs, pets cannot be responsible for their own poop. Therefore, the onus is placed on the pet's person to perform this unpleasant duty.

While I perform this perfunctory duty on behalf of keeping this place pretty, I do so under perpetual and petulant protest.

Monday, July 10, 2023

Portland is Sustainably Weird

You know you've landed somewhere weird when people take pictures of the airport carpet. That's just what they do in Portland.

The carpet pictured here is the new airport carpet. The one it replaced, the old carpet, was famous. Go ahead, look up Portland Airport Carpet. Among other things, it has its own Wikipedia page

I digress. What makes Portland weird is not the carpet. That's just the introduction to what makes Portland weird. In fact, if you were flying in to Portland from another country, the test at Customs is whether or not you take a picture of your feet on the carpet. If you don't, then you can't come in.

The last time I was at the Portland airport, I saw an emotional support duck. It was a Mallard, to be precise. It was being pushed in a dog stroller (much like this one) only instead of a dog, it was a duck. It was zipped into its stroller but I could see through the mesh. It was definitely a duck. It quacked. 

I wondered if it had been on my flight*. Or, if it had taken a different flight. Did it fly with other ducks? Were they in formation? Did they have humans, too?

Don't laugh. While ducks aren't recognized by the ADA as service animals, ducks can provide emotional support. Well, not to me. But they can to Carla Fitzgerald. She traveled with her duck, Daniel, and became an overnight sensation. 

That was a few years ago. Carla and Daniel are both older now. Maybe Daniel needs more support now than Carla. Maybe it was Daniel in the stroller.

That was weird enough. I didn't even bother to go into the city of Portland. I crossed the river into Washington. It's a little less weird there. 

To be clear, we were in Washington State, not Washington DC. 'Cuz it's really weird there!

*It was not. I checked the website for Southwest Airlines. They only allow dogs and cats on their flights. (And humans.)

Friday, July 7, 2023

True Enough

I read this blog post on 76003.1414 about people walking backward and how it could improve one's mental and physical health. To his delight, he imagined that if this caught on, people would be walking backwards everywhere.

The article behind the blog post, Could walking backwards be the secret to physical and cognitive health?, recommended "that people walk backwards for shorter periods of time and that they create resistance by dragging something while they walk." 

For me, this evokes a vision of people dragging unknown heavy objects rolled up in carpet. The blogger's idea that it could simply be a shopping cart may be a better idea.

While it may not have caught on with the population at large, if you were to stop by my house just before bedtime you would find its occupants indeed walking backwards. For exactly two minutes and again in the morning while we brush our teeth.

We've gotten quite good at it. The challenge - and the cognitive benefit, I would assume - increases significantly when we are both walking backwards around the house at the same time. Knocking on wood, we have yet to trip over furniture or the edge of a rug and fallen to smash our skulls resulting in more of a physical detriment than an improvement. On the other hand, if one of us fell, the other one could drag the first one's body to even things out but let's hope it doesn't come to that.

I grin each night to think someone - perhaps this blogger - might spy in a window and catch a glimpse of our evening routine. Anyway, that should scare any potential intruders away.

In fact, they might back away improving their own cognitive abilities. Then, who knows? Maybe it will catch on.

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

I wonder how it was "discovered."


Seattle Times

Large hole closes northbound Highway 99 ramp from West Seattle Bridge

A 5-foot-by-4-foot hole was discovered Tuesday night on the northbound Highway 99 onramp from the West Seattle Bridge. There is no estimated time for the ramp to reopen.

Seattle Times story here.

I'm so tired!

I just walked 13.1 miles at the first ever Trilogy Half Marathon! I'm still feeling amped up from the experience! (I wrote those sentences yesterday - LOL. Today, I'm just TIRED!)

It was a well-organized event although there were some last minute problems. I can't tell if the organizers just didn't have any experience on how to put on such a event - like any! - or if there were some unforeseen circumstances that couldn't be avoided. It didn't matter; I had a great time! 

The people who come out to cheer on the racers were the best part. It really elevated my spirit, especially in those final miles. There was such a feeling of relief and gratitude when I crossed the finish line. I nearly cried! There were cowbells (can't get enough cowbell!), music ("We Are the Champions!"), and craft beer (Fruitlands from Modern Times, no less, which - btw - is the perfect after-sport beer imo). 

I walked away with a few medals which surprised me. The last time I did something like this, I ran the whole Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati with my dear aunt who did the half. I didn't even come close to getting a medal then. Maybe because this was a much smaller event - you might call it "boutique" or "semi-private" (if not "exclusive") - that I had even a chance.

Today, I slept in and later today I plan to get a much deserved pedicure. The Trilogy Half Marathon was a world away from larger marathons such as Cincinnati's Flying Pig (or Seattle's Marathon which I ran just months after 9/11) but I would do it again. As I got ready for the event, I felt the lure of addiction, adding every marathon and half-marathon I could find to my calendar. I felt drawn to the "high" of exercise (if such a thing can be said about exercise) and I schemed as to when I could do this again.

Today, well, I'm just tired.

Hopefully, I'll get the opportunity to do the Trilogy Half Marathon again. Next year.


2023 Trilogy Half Marathon

2023 Trilogy Half Marathon Results

Tuesday, April 25, 2023


Restaurant servers say funny things sometimes.  Like one time, when we were skiing in Utah, we had a waiter who also skied. He told us he would be in the Olympics one day and we would know him because his name was Kraft. "Like the cheese," he said.

We asked him what the soup du jour was and he said, "I don't know. It changes every day!"

Another time, we were having dinner at a Red Lobster. We were doing so in memory of an acquaintance who had died a year before. He used to treat us to dinner at Red Lobster, mostly because he could eat his own weight in lobster on all-you-can-eat night. He was a nice man and we always remember him when we see a Red Lobster.

On this night, we asked the waitress about the wine list. She recommended the Chablis but pronounced it shab-LISS. We laughed behind her back about the mispronunciation but it stuck. For the past I-don't-know-how-many years, we've pronounced Chablis as shab-LISS.

Then, one day very recently, we went to lunch at a nice restaurant near our town's hockey arena. It's in the clubhouse of a golf course and not only does it have good food and a nice wine list, it has amazing views from its outdoor patio. Without even thinking about it, I ordered a slab-LISS with my meal. 

The waitress said nothing but no doubt she was laughing behind my back.

I deserved it.

Sunday, April 2, 2023



We went to see Iliza Schlesinger perform recently and I ended up sitting next to a college student from Kansas here on Spring Break.

She asked whether we had seen Iliza before. Wanting to seem cool and hip, I told that we had adding that we also had tickets to see Leno the following night.


So much for cool and hip. 

I mentioned Leno again the next day to a young waitress, this time asking if she was familiar with him. She said, "I'm not a fan but I'm sure I'd know their music if I heard it."

The last time I saw Jay Leno was probably in the 90s. As in, the previous century. While I saw him on a college campus, I think the kids are into someone else now. To be fair, his crowd was rather geriatric. Iliza's crowd was definitely younger.

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Air Fryer Review (Part 2)

I never did make the beets after publishing my first air fryer review. I thought I had too many to do in one batch so I roasted them in the oven. Instead, I made kale chips. Twice.

The first batch was rather tasty. I had freshly grown kale and while I had to make it in batches, each batch only took as much time as it took to prepare the next batch. I kept the chips on the kitchen counter and snacked on them often throughout the day. I figured it was a great way to sneak more greens into my diet. It also prompted me to floss more as I was forever walking around with kale stuck between my teeth.

The second batch was made from grocery store kale and wasn't nearly as tasty as the first batch. Was it the kale or some inconsistency in my preparation? I don't know but I've had enough kale chips for a while. (Kale has been touted as a cancer-fighting food. I can affirm that during the time I was eating kale chips, I did not have or become diagnosed with cancer. There you go.)

I also tried some asparagus in the fryer which came out rubbery. They were tasty - and I ate them all - but I prefer my asparagus to have a little crunch. Sautéed with olive oil, salt, and pepper works just fine and might be a little easier both in preparation and in cleanup.

I've also tried hard "boiled" eggs. They turned out okay, if not a little rubbery, but I prefer how they turn out when made in my pressure cooker.

One thing that did turn out well, was chicken wings. I had bought a giant bag from Costco to make during the Super Bowl and if not for the air fryer I wouldn't have even considered making them. I've never made chicken wings before and while I'll eat them, I've never ordered them at a restaurant either. 

All that to say, I don't think the air fryer is worth the cost (regardless of how much it cost) or the space to store it. For me, that is. I know a lot of people who love theirs. 

I haven't given up entirely, though. I saw a recipe for chickpeas make in an air fryer. Like the kale chips, the idea is to make a healthy snack. I've also read you can make a toasted cheese sandwich in an air fryer. I guess the idea there is you can toast both side of the sandwich at the same time. Like a panini press. (Register me skeptical.) I just read you can also bake cookies in there, if you only want four at a time.

If I get around to any of those, I'll let you know. In the meantime, however, the air fryer will be gathering dust in the pantry. I've got better fish to fry.

Or do I?

Monday, February 13, 2023

Air Fryer Review (part 1)

We recently acquired an air fryer for no other reason than it was on sale. I asked my sister-in-law what she uses hers for and she said it's good for all the same foods you would normally fry. This presented a problem as I don't usually fry food. In fact, I can't think of any food that I fry.

I asked a neighbor. She said she loves to make chicken and vegetables in hers. I haven't had much need for an alternate way to make vegetables but I was curious about how the chicken might turn out but haven't tried it yet.

My daughter-in-law likes to make fish or vegetables in hers. She has my interest. The next time I make fish, I will try the air fryer. (Review to follow.)

The fact is, we live in a great produce growing region and fresh fruits and vegetables are easy to come by. I just recently picked up some beets which will be my next experiment. But my first experiment was to make apple chips.

The advice I found online was to slice the apples very thin and then sprinkle lightly with cinnamon. The slices were to be placed in the air fryer in a single layer and "fried" at 375 degrees for three minutes.

The first thing I realized was that a single apple would require two batches which seemed like a lot of effort to go through to eat an apple. Plus, dirty dishes.

The second thing I figured out was I didn't get the apples thin enough. While the online advice warned me of this, I thought my knife skills were up to the challenge. They were not. After three minutes, the apples were just soggy slices. I flipped them around a little and put them in for another five minutes. Still, only one slice was thin enough to crisp up. While it was sweet and tasty, it was clear it wasn't worth trying to crisp the other half of the apple.

It's possible to get the apple slices thinner with a mandolin but then I would have a knife, a cutting board, a mandolin, and an air fryer to clean when I could have just eaten the apple.

It reminds me of something my grandson said when I told him I sometimes like to make a little shot of espresso in the afternoon and drink it out of a tiny little cup. It's a tiny, warm, and yummy afternoon treat. He said, "It makes too many dishes, Doesn't seem worth it."

I guess it's in what you value. The dirty dishes are worth it to me for a shot of espresso every once in a while but when it comes to my apple, I think I'll just eat it raw.

Up next, beets....

Sunday, January 29, 2023

April 2014

I got an email from Gmail that said one of my blog posts from April of 2014 violated Blogger's spam policy and was, therefore, unpublished. The email included a hyperlink to the post but I wasn't willing to click on it so I don't really know what I posted nearly nine years ago that could have been so controversial. The post didn't have a title so I suspect it was only a photo. 

Instead, I went back in time and read all my posts from April 2014. If you have a few minutes, you should read the insanity. I literally laughed out loud.

I should consider writing more.

Friday, January 13, 2023

So what're you gonna do when you retire?

That's what people ask. My answer has included:

  • take more Spanish lessons
  • take American Sign Language classes
  • volunteer
  • get involved in more fitness activities
  • cook more
  • be more organized
  • write more
What actually happened:
  • wasted time on my computer
Honestly, that's what I did when I was working. I did laundry, walked or biked, ran errands, picked up the grandkids from school, posted photos on social media. I always had a lot of email that seemed to distract me, usually items that involved local entertainment or news. I always had a lot of tabs open on my computer for things I wanted to remind myself to do or look into.

Now I'm doing pretty much the same thing except without work getting in the way.

I have actually done some of the items on the above list - volunteered, took a Pilates class, cooked and baked. One thing I didn't see coming.

On the first day of not going to work, I tuned into a show about people going to work. Accountants, specifically. Like I missed my job already. 

On IMDb, the summary for the show reads, "This workplace comedy sheds light onto the hilarious scenarios CPAs, staff accountants, and audit professionals find themselves in on a daily basis."

Yep, that's the first thing you think of when you think of accountants: hilarious.

As tax season starts to ramp up this year, I'm happy to sit this one out. If I ever find myself missing it, I can always watch it on TV.

Tuesday, January 10, 2023



Who will help me bake this cake?

You would think, when offered, both kiddos would have jumped at the opportunity to bake something sweet but when they found out the plan was to make coffee cake, they both declined to join me in the kitchen.

"I don't really like cake," the first one said.

"I don't like coffee cake," the other one said more specifically.

I proceeded alone.

I mixed white sugar with brown sugar and flour. "It's not like a cake you eat for dessert," I tried to explain. "It's more like a breakfast cake."

The first kiddo was still uninterested. The second one tried to disguise her intrigue as disinterest.

I added cinnamon and nutmeg. "See? This cake has all the same ingredients as apple pie . . ," one of their favorites, " . . . except there's no apple."

The older one looked at me disbelieving. This could not be a thing, he seemed to be saying. "I think it will be too sweet," he said being the discerning baker himself.

"It'll have too much coffee," the younger offered matter-of-factly. (She, being matter-of-fact in all things.)

"There's no coffee in this cake," I said. This utterly stumped the younger one and did nothing to change her mind. She stood steadfast by her previous statement regarding her opinion of coffee cake.

I added the rest of the ingredients and poured the batter into a pan. I added the crumble topping and popped the cake into the oven. Soon the kitchen filled with the aroma of cinnamon and sugar. When the cake was done, the little one wanted to know if she could try some. (The older one having already wandered away.)

"You've already had dessert. Besides, it's time for bed." We said goodnight as their parents came home and we went home ourselves leaving the cake for them to enjoy in the morning.

The next morning I received a text from our son thanking us for the breakfast treat. "Did the kids try it?" I asked. 

"Yes, they were going to help eat the cake," he answered.

Next time, I bet, they will help me bake the cake.

Thursday, January 5, 2023

I got my ass kicked by senior citizens.

On Tuesday, I took a Pilates class. It's the first fitness class I've taken in roughly 30 years. (From that reference, you might think that I'm a senior citizen myself and you'd be correct.) For most of my life, I've relied on what I could do without paying someone to tell me how to do it: walk, hike, bike; situps, pushups, and the like. This method, it seems, has served me well. I feel fit; I look fit; and, I feel great. I don't remember why I thought I should try a Pilates class but I figured it couldn't be all that hard. Besides, the class I was taking was in a gym whose membership is entirely made up of senior citizens. How hard could it be?

Pilates is all about balance, stretching, and strengthening the core muscles. Or so I thought. Once upon a time, I purchased a book (limiting my fitness expense to the book alone) and tried the exercises at home. I  don't know if it had the desired effect, or even what effect I was going for. It was just the popular fitness craze at the time so I thought I would try it.

It's popular again with gyms (they're called studios now) devoted to the practice. This form of exercise (and I never really thought of it as exercise) has been modified to incorporate equipment which means not only more of an investment if one is to do it at home but requires an instructor which, as I've mentioned, I usually avoid.

Whatever possessed me, I signed up for the class.

I was the last to arrive and noticed that everyone had a yoga mat, a ball (such as one you would use for dodgeball or foursquare), a giant rubber band, and hand weights. Although I expected the yoga mat, I couldn't imagine what the rest of it was for. A very helpful white-haired man helped me gather all the requisite equipment from around the gym - er, studio - and the class began.

We started innocently enough with some stretching and range of motion exercises that incorporated the ball and the rubber band. Then, we proceeded to sit-ups combined with leg lifts. Later, we were instructed to clamp a hand weight behind one knee by bringing our heel to our buns and then lifting our leg behind us while we were on all fours (well, threes if you don't count the leg we were lifting). I couldn't keep my weight in place and dropped it on my other stationary ankle. At that point, I decided it was safer to proceed without the weight.

Finally, we did an exercise that closely resembled squats and we did them in slow motion which exercised the quadriceps - the fronts of our thighs. I'm not sure how many we did but I can tell you, it was not my core muscles that were begging for me to stop. When the class was over, all the senior citizens got up and put their equipment away while I lay on my mat and wondered if I should call to get a ride or if I could still walk home. Although I fared the rest of the class fairly well, my legs were shaky.

On Wednesday, my legs were so sore, I took a bath with Epsom salt which helped a little but by evening, I could barely get myself in or out of a chair. I had decided I would do some baking but when I realized that my mixing bowls were on the bottom shelf, I decided it wasn't worth the effort to crouch down to get them. Laundry was similarly out of the question as the dirty clothes were on the floor.

Today is Thursday and I had wanted to take a Zumba class offered by the same Pilates studio. Even though I would have had to pay for the class, Zumba doesn't appeal to me as an activity to be done alone. Besides, it sounded fun: music and dancing. Again, I asked myself, how hard could it be?

Well, I won't be fooled by these white-haired senior citizens once more. If I sign up for Zumba, I'll never walk again!

Sunday, January 1, 2023

When a Bitch meets an Angel

When I say "bitch," I mean this - in the bitch's own words - as a term of endearment. And this bitch is the most endearing one you will ever meet. She is a kind and caring soul to her core, a woman of faith. She is no angel; she is but human suffering like the rest of us.

I saw her recently when we went to a holiday party where everyone was supposed to bring a gift for a “white elephant” exchange. We were a little reluctant to go. Why, for instance, would we want to go to a party to exchange crappy gifts with people we don’t know well enough to think that could be amusing?

We went, nevertheless, and brought an elephant as our gift - albeit a brown one. We had acquired it in a similar gift exchange but rather than feeling stuck with it, I rather liked it and kept it for several years. It had hinged limbs and has sat on the mantel every year alongside the Christmas stockings. 

The elephant became sacrificial when a week before Christmas, I didn't have a gift for a gift exchange that I didn't really want to go to in the first place.

Once the party was underway and everyone had been served a drink, the gift exchange began. It was played as a game. We all drew numbers to determine the order for each of us to select a present from under the tree or to steal a previously opened present from someone who had already taken their turn. With 41 players, it was destined to be a long night of embarrassment. My number was 12.

The first player opened a bottle of wine. A fine gift. Surely, it would be stolen by player number 2.

The next gift was a martini shaker in the shape of a penguin. It was was a nice present. I planned to steal it myself if I got a chance. I guessed the giver had gone above the budget of $20 set by the hostess (it also came with vodka) but the gift also seemed to reveal an unspoken theme for the evening. I mentally slapped my forehead for bringing an elephant, white or otherwise, when alcohol would have been the safer bet.

Trepidation set in. Players number 3, 4, and 5 selected their gifts. No one was stealing because no one selected duds from under the tree. As predicted, all of the gifts contained some quantity of alcohol. I was starting to strategize that I should select my own gift from under the tree and act appropriately disappointed for having selected a (nearly) literal white elephant. At least someone else wouldn’t be stuck with it.

Then, it was player number 11 who provided my solution. Their gift was handmade pottery - items made by dear friends of ours. They had just taken an introductory class and these pieces were their "mistakes." Rejects to them, the bowl and mug were treasures for me so when my number was called, I swiftly snatched the pottery gift from player number 11 without explanation or apology.

At this point, I will clarify that I am neither the bitch in this story. (Nor am I the angel.)

The elephant was eventually selected and I felt sorry for the recipient; she was clearly disappointed. I was relieved when the woman who was standing to my left later stole the elephant and claimed it for herself. I was surprised that someone actually wanted it.

A later player got a knit hat that looked like braided dreadlocks, another disappointment. However, the potter who made my bowl loved it. He traded his alcohol-related gift for the hat and immediately put it on. The dreads fit him to a T. Both parties to the trade were happy with their outcomes. Things seemed to be working out for all involved.

Finally, everyone had their turn but two presents remained under the tree. Coincidentally, two people in the room didn't have gifts: the hostess and the bitch. 

The crowd roared that the gifts should be distributed. One appeared to be a wrapped candle but the other was a mystery. The group's decision was the hostess should receive the candle and the bitch should get the last remaining gift.

The bitch unwrapped her present and found an angel. The woman who cherished my brown elephant had brought it. It was a metallic figure that could be hung as a wall decoration.

The bitch sobbed. She sobbed for a recent, personal, and tragic loss. She sobbed for a loss other people have suffered. Her heart was broken and as much as she is a positive light, the sight of this angel reminded her of an anguish she couldn't contain or understand. It was like a message from heaven. 

I don't know what the message was, or what it meant to her. To me, it meant that everything will eventually work out as it was meant to be although that's impossible to imagine in time of such momentous loss. 

2022 was hard for me, in its own way, and for people I love. There was the loss of loved ones (some expected, some not). There were diagnoses of cancer, covid, flu, and pneumonia. Others were sick but didn't know what they were sick from, just beat down and exhausted. It all seemed to pile up in the month of December and made for a very sad way to end the year.

I say, good riddance to 2022.

However, that angel reminds me that there were far more good moments in 2022 than bad ones and that life, though difficult, goes on. 2023 promises more of everything - the good and the bad. My heart aches for the people who are suffering or having to struggle through horribly difficult times. My prayer for all the bitches in my life - and remember, I call you this because I love you - is that the good will eventually outweigh the bad in 2023 and beyond.

Just hang in there and watch for angels.