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email from Gmail that said one of my blog posts from April of 2014 violated Blogger's spam policy and was, therefore, unpublished.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.