Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Oh For A Nose That Works!

Looking Innocent. Yea Right.
I've heard it, but now I believe it. The first sense that disappears when you get old is your sense of smell.

My sweet kittie (not the bad one) has a urinary tract infection and bladder stones. That means she has a hard time relieving herself, hence referred to as peeing.

Being the good kittie, she wasn't doing a whole lot to announce her predicament, at least not that I noticed. As far as I knew she was going downstairs to the basement taking care of business as usual. Then one morning, she decided to visit me before I got out of bed. I was sleeping in a bit so she had been released from the back of the house where all kitties are kept in the evening. I thought at the time, how unusual for her to visit. She doesn't generally seek out company.

Then, she assumed the position. Being a cat owner for over 20 years, I recognized it easily. I grabbed her, shouted the appropriate No! and ran her downstairs to her box. Then, I started watching. Poor kittie. She kept going to her box and sitting there for long stretches and all that came out was a little drop. It was obvious what was wrong and eventually we got her to the vet and on antibiotics and special medicine food.

But that's not my real story here. So, obviously, we had a little clean-up to do. I removed the duvet cover and lo and behold, I saw on the comforter many, many little tell-tell signs that kittie had been visiting our bed for quite some time. Just little drops, but smelly none the less. At least it smelled once I realized it should smell.

How is it possible I could have slept under this comforter for probably a week without smelling cat pee? Has my smeller just gotten use to it? Or has my sense of smell gone kaput? Does my whole house smell?

I know the popular thing to do when you age is to nip and tuck here and there. Add a little botox to the forehead wrinkle. Me? I'm looking for a smeller upgrade.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Thinking Thinking Is Not So Bad Afterall


When I retired I looked forward to evenings when my brain would be at rest. So often I would lie awake at night thinking of all the things I did that day, should have done that day, or needed to be done the next day. I'd think of things that I said to people or people said to me. Some people claim they can magically turn it all off. Compartmentalize things. Not me.

But with retirement, I figured that would stop. But it hasn't. I'm involved with a number of volunteer activities that clog my brain at times. I have a teenager who, like many teens, is struggling with how to become her own person but at the same time make room for others who are not like her. I worry about how I can help knowing that I probably can't. My brain does not turn off. As a result I've had more than my fair share of sleepless nights even since retiring.

It's bothersome. It makes me want to stay uninvolved. Maybe that would keep the brain free of worrysome thoughts.

Then today I saw a documentary on alzheimers. An alzheimer patient said she remembered when she had too many thoughts in her head, just like me. But now, her brain is empty. No thoughts.

Tonight I will sleep better. Tonight, I think. And that's good.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Terrorist Squirrels Brutalize Halloween Display

Sometimes it just doesn't pay to try and spice up your Halloween decor, not when there's Terrorist squirrels on the loose.

Halloween is a cool holiday. Love the candy, love the costumes. I always put up decorations to make sure that the kids know my house is open for business on Halloween. This year I decided to add a little fall flavor to the usual displays. I bought a nice selection of mums, pumpkins and gourds and a hay bale. I had no idea what to do with any of it, but I fashioned sort of an alter to fall with all the stuff. It looked pretty good for my first attempt. Sat a little witch right in the middle of it all to scare off invaders.

But that witch was no match for the Squirrel Terrorists residing in the front yard. They began devouring the pumpkins first. Ate half of one before I realized what had struck. I prettied things up as best I could, then THE WIND came. Everything went flying, including my Craig's List papasan chair..right on top of the fall alter. But once again I straightened things up. But the terrorists struck again, devouring the rest of the pumpkin and knocking over the mums. Then THE RAIN came. Things did not look pretty. But after I was sure things had dried up I repaired my fall masterpiece. Why did I bother?

As I left the house this afternoon, I spotted the Terrorist digging a tunnel through my prettiest gourd.

I've given up and now think of my display as a wildlife preserve.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Overthrowing Communism in the Kitchen

I haven't posted anything in a while.  Been too busy loading and unloading the dishwasher, which is the basis of this post's inspiration.

We recently finished a remodel of our kitchen from top to bottom.  I like it a lot.  It's clean and neat and orderly.   Perhaps that's why I began loading and unloading the dishwasher throughout the day.   I like keeping the counter clear so you can see the loveliness of it all.

But enough is enough.  After several weeks of being the sole person to manage the dishes, I suggested to my Hubby that he should take a turn.  This didn't seem to be that much of a stretch to me.   In our old kitchen he was such a stickler that he would always reload the dishwasher after I loaded it.  I didn't have the right technique or something.    But in response to my simple request he said, "We're a communist household.  We all do whatever needs to be done."

Uh, oh.  This is how I ended up being the primary wage earner for 18 years while Hubby stayed home with Darling Daughter.    No discussion.  Just do whatever needs to be done.

But gosh darn it, when it comes to loading the dishwasher, I want to live in a democracy!  I want to talk it through.   I want to vote on what I want to do, not just do simply because no one else will.   But Hubby refused to discuss.

So I had to take matters into my own hands.  Last Saturday I declared that I would do the dishes thing Monday through Friday, but the weekends needed to be covered by Hubby and Darling Daughter.   So on Saturday I went on strike.  

I watched the dirty dishes pile up in and around the sink on Saturday.    I watched as the number of clean forks, spoons and coffee cups dwindled.  I watched them avoid emptying the clean dishes from the dishwasher though it was the only place where a new supply of utensils and cups could be found.  (I personally simply pulled things from the dishwasher as I needed them, though admittedly tried to hide the fact since I didn't want them to get any ideas.)  At the end of the day Saturday, nothing had been touched.

When Sunday rolled around, Hubby and Darling Daughter dirtied up in the kitchen as always without lifting a finger to clean anything.    By midday, there was hardly a bare spot left on the counter.  It left me weak and shaky but I stuck to my plan and refused to play dishwasher maid to the household.   However, I found myself debating in my head whether I would clean up after everyone on Monday, if nothing had been done.

Fortunately by Sunday evening Hubby took his turn.  He wanted to make dinner and realized there was no counter space available.  So he loaded and ran the dishwasher and washed up the pots and pans.   Of course dinner created a new mess, but I felt that my revolt had produced results.

I volunteered to clean up the dinner dishes that night.  After all, I've never taken a turn making dinner.  Call me a communist if you must.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

No Eye Contact Please

The other day I took a walk around the lake to get a little exercise.  It was a beautiful day,  so many people were out and about.  I did what I always do, avoid eye contact.

However, on this particular day, I began to question my behavior.  Why avoid eye contact?  I've got nothing to hide.  I don't have to engage in some long conversation.  Just have to catch someone's eye and say something like "good afternoon" or "hello" or  "great day".   I'll smile.  That person will smile.  Then he or she will see the next person and say something similar and soon everyone will be smiling and greeting each other and the world will be a better place.   After all we probably live in the same neighborhood, shop at the same stores, send our kids to the same schools.

I pondered this while several other people passed me by, all of us avoiding eye contact.   Finally, I decided that I would boldly look at the next person going by and say hi.   I could see her up ahead.  I'd already passed her once silently so it seemed rude to pass again in silence.  I looked her way.  She looked my way.  I smiled, nodded, said a brief hi, thinking that was easy.   Then, she said "Hi Jackie."    What?   Oh my.

I quickly scanned her face and slowly recognition came to me.  Yes, I did know her.   She once worked for me.  Once she threatened to quit because she wasn't getting something she wanted and I said something like "go ahead, make my day" only nicer.   She lost her job by someone else's hand, but I didn't lift mine to save it.     I did my best to make pleasant chit chat.

So much for spreading good cheer around the world.   And now that I think about it, there are times when no eye contact is critical.  Like when someone wants to squeeze their car in front of yours.  No eye contact!    Or if you are a waiter and you don't want to bring the bill.  No eye contact!  Or you know if you look at someone, you'll start to laugh or cry.  No eye contact!

So walking around the lake is just practice for those important no eye contact moments.  I therefore have gone back to admiring the sky, the clouds, the ducks on the lake, the cracks in the sidewalk or adopting that glazed look of someone listening intently to their i-pod.  

After all, no eye contact is an important life skill.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Tornado Preparedness Gone High Tech

We had a huge thunderstorm on Saturday. Tornado warnings were out. One tornado had been spotted touching down fifteen miles north of us. Hail was expected. It was a test of our preparedness for inclement weather.

Over a year ago Hubby purchased an emergency, wind-up radio, with a special weather station. But it wasn't until a week ago that he figured out how to access the weather station. It has a computerized voice that sounds like it is hiccuping as it tells its grim news. It's now like a brand new toy.

So when the foul weather hit, out came the special radio. We had all the latest info like where the tornado touched down, how it was moving, what counties were in mortal danger, how long it would all last. Since our garage is being used by our kitchen contractor for his junk, our cars were in the driveway. Hubby moved them under our big elm tree to protect from hail damage. We figured if the tree fell, it would fall on our house, not the cars. We had the best spot on the block.

Then the lights went out. The whole neighborhood was dark. Even though it was only 8:00 p.m., we couldn't see much of anything. I went immediately to the candle drawer, found matches and lit a few candles. Then I went in search of flashlights. I used the candle to light my way to the flashlights which turned out was unnecessary. The super radio also had a built-in flashlight which Hubby failed to mention to me since he was so busy listening to the dire warnings of the hiccup voice. Only one flashlight had working batteries so my preparedness was clearly lacking on that point. In the end I managed to get batteries into two additional flashlights so each of us had our own. It was past midnight before the lights came back on, so they came in handy.

There's a certain excitement about dangerous weather that I enjoy. Obviously, I don't want anyone or anything to be hurt, but standing on the front porch watching the sky for suspicious shapes and seeing the trees sway in the wind is fun for me. As I stood there I was reminded of the tornado warnings of my youth.


I grew up in Kentucky where tornadoes were pretty common. When the warnings came out my mother and I would go to Mrs. K's house down the block. So did Mrs. K's daughter and kids who lived across the street. I don't remember any men at these events which tells me we only went during daytime when the men were at work. (This was the 50's before mom's went to work.) I think we went to Mrs. K's house because she was the only one on the block who could attest to seeing the devil on her garage roof. That made her pretty spiritually powerful in our neighborhood.

Someone would crack a window and then we would all say the rosary. I don't know if the rosary worked, but I do know that a tornado never touched down in our neighborhood. One did touch down just a few miles down the road though so who knows.

Weather radio and flashlights or open window and rosary. I suppose tornado protection has moved up the technology ladder.

Monday, July 5, 2010

To Tan or Not to Tan

When I was a teen, I would have paid for a tan.  A real honest-to-goodness tan.  But instead I was blessed with the skin of an Irishman, freckles and pale.   I can still hear my friend's mother commenting about how white my legs were while piling into her car.     That was 1972.

But I kept denying my fate.  I sat out in the sun with my face turned directly into the sun's rays.  I lathered on the baby oil just like everyone else.  Then I turned deep red, blistered and peeled.  And then... I did it again.    You can look at my arms for proof that I have not ever shied away from the sun.  I'd win a freckle contest if it only included arms.    I used to think that if I got enough freckles, they would join together and then I'd look like I had a tan.  

When I was pregnant with my Darling Daughter I wished for a happy, healthy baby.  But I also wished she would NOT have freckles.   All my wishes came true.  She is blessed with tannable skin.

Fast forward to Year 2010.  We are smarter now.  We know the sun will damage your skin.  As I type this I know that an old high school mate is dying of melanoma.  I know this is serious stuff.

My D.D. just returned from a two-week camp of fun in the sun, snorkeling and diving.  She was tan and thrilled to be so.  I know I should have cautioned her about not using her sun screen, but instead I was excited for her.      A tan!  How glorious!  

I admit it, I am a bad mother in the tan department.  I even at one point suggested she go to a tanning booth and get a base.  She even chastised me for that one.  Sorry it was a 70's moment.  I take it back.

Fortunately, she has a great dad who keeps an eye on both of us.  Hubby lathers us down in #30 whenever he can get his hands on it and us.  If we survive our time in the sun, it will be because of him.  

And that fake tan stuff helps too, even if I do turn a little orange.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Fifty-five Is The New Five

This morning before I got out of bed I spent a few moments stretching my legs. It was like listening to someone cracking their knuckles. First my knee popped. Then I could hear popping sounds from my hip joints. But unlike my knuckles,these pops just kept on coming.

I remember my hubby telling me about the first time he noticed how stiff he was getting out of bed. He was worried. So much so that on his next trip to the doctor he brought it up. I can imagine the silent chuckle before he said, "that's just what happens when you get old."

As I walk across the desert paths in Joshua Tree National Park, I listen to my body. "Watch that step" says my right knee. "Oh, do we have to go downhill again?" says my left shin. "Yowser, you need wider shoes!" say my cramping toes. The lower back is not silent either.

But I keep going because my mind, unlike my body,hasn't figured out it is fifty-five. Retirement hasn't made me feel old. It makes me feel young. When was the last time you could do pretty much what you wanted? I was five. Granted the body does not always cooperate but I'm not letting a few noisy joints boss me around.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Nothing Important to Say

When I started this blog I figured I would have no problem coming up with things to write about.  But I found as time went on that selecting subject matter became more difficult.  I think that I believed it needed to have some meaning or interest to people.

I heard a recent Public Radio show that made me rethink that.  It was an interview with a woman who has been blogging about a plastic bag stuck in a tree.  She even gave the bag a name, Windy, and has held birthday parties for the bag.   You see the bag has been caught in the tree for over two years.

I'm figuring surely anything I blog about can't be any more mundane than a plastic bag stuck in a tree.  So here's my topic.  Pens with no ink.  Pencils with no lead.   I've got a pen/pencil holder sitting on my desk with at least 20 writing instruments in it.  And every time I pick out one to write with it doesn't work.  It must be like that unmatched socks in the dryer thing.  Or the keys that are never where you left them thing.

If you want to read more about the plastic bag, here's a link to the blog.   www.junkdrawerblog.com/2010/06/windy-interview-on-npr-all-things-considered.html

Next post:  what to do with 30 empty kitty litter buckets

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Boomer Reflects on First Three Months of Retirement


It's now been a little over three months since I retired.  I figure it's time to report to the world (or at least my 14 followers) how it's going.  First and most importantly, I'm loving being retired.  I particularly like sleeping until I'm ready to get up.  No alarm!

My first goal was to start exercising and lose some weight.  I am happy to report I have lost ten pounds which is just about the amount of weight I gained last year.  And I've gotten at least an hour of exercise almost every day of the week for the past 3 months.   My new exercise goal is to get arms like the Terminator Lady, Sarah what's her name, aka Linda what's her name.   (At 55 I'm afraid my memory for names is pretty much gone.)

My next goal was not to watch too much TV.  You see I like TV but recognize that it is very easy to get sucked into sitting on the couch all night.   Am doing pretty well here.  I allow myself a few guilty pleasures, like Dancing With the Stars and Modern Family.  And I watch Glee on Hulu.com.   No daytime TV except what I see while walking on the treadmill at the gym.  Speaking of daytime TV, what's the deal with the Real Housewives from xxx (insert city)?  It's just spoiled women behaving badly.   Whatever happened to good old fashioned game shows?  

Goal three was to do a little volunteering but not get too wrapped up in anything for now.  Want to keep my summer open.  Darling Daughter was quite worried about this one, but I think she's gotten over it.  So far I've just collected admission fees at a few SW High School band concerts.   Still doing a bit here and there for the Environment Committee for the neighborhood, but resisted the call to serve on the neighborhood board.  

Goal four was to reconnect with friends.  Just getting started here.  Got more lunches to schedule.

Things I haven't done yet?  Still haven't gotten started on decluttering the house.  Cleaned out a couple of closets but that's about it.  Haven't really tackled anything big.  But, we're in the midst of a kitchen remodel and I figure that's a big enough mess for now.    I haven't set up my "project" space where all my partially done and yet to be done crafty projects will live.  Got to declutter first.   Still have a million computer based projects to do but they keep getting deprioritized.  

I've put off until the fall the beginning of my post-work education.  Piano, voice, dance, photography and a million other fun sounding things are possibilities.   But next fall seems early enough to make those commitments.

Darling Daughter and Hubby seem to be adjusting to my greater household presence.  I'm learning to keep a distance from Hubby when he begins to growl his responses to my questions.   And I'm learning to just do my own thing which is just fine with him.

The days fill up quickly.   Time has not slowed down.   I'm just happy that I spend it here at home.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Boomer Ponders the Value of Cleaning

In my opinion, my house is an absolute mess.    We are redoing the kitchen so there's a constant presence of dusty footprints, a constant settling of dust on the furniture and a constant smell from having to put the cat's litter pans in the dining room while the entrance to the basement is blocked.    I've taken to walking through the house with a dust cloth in my hand.  And I've bought every kind of kitty litter odor fighter on the market in addition to a few air freshener aids.    My Darling Daughter (aka Teen) believes I'm obsessive about cleaning.

This observation, unfortunately, is very inaccurate.  I am not a neat person.  Up until the kitchen redo, pulling out the vacuum cleaner more than once a month was rare.    Last week I finally got on my hands and knees and cleaned the bathroom floor.  I have no recollection of when I did that last.

The Darling Daughter observation came on the heels of my vacuuming in HER room.   I have been advised by many, including DD herself, to stay clear of a teen's room.   Her idea of cleaning is picking clothes off the floor and dumping them into the hamper.  And most of the time, I'm okay with that.    But once in awhile my inner "mom" comes out and I just have to get the vacuum cleaner going.

I remember my mom as a vacuuming crazy lady.  We (meaning brothers and dad) would be watching TV on a Saturday and next thing you know...vroom, vroom.  There goes mom vacuuming in front of the TV.  We'd all groan and complain, but she'd keep at it until she was done.    I recall a time when she was so aggravated with me about my room that she dragged me into my bedroom to give me a lesson in how to make my bed.  To this day I always make sure I'm doing "hospital corners" on the sheets.  A lesson given in anger sticks I suppose.   My friends remember how nice and neat she kept things.  So compared to my mom, I fall far short of obsessive cleanliness.

My mom and I do share the same attitude about cleaning up for company.  Company creates both obligation and motivation.   My Hubby and Darling Daughter do not share in this feeling, particularly when the company is related, so shake their head when I start ranting and raving about the condition of the house.  Their philosophy is "it's family...family doesn't care about those things."  My philosophy is that a clean house is a sign of respect for your guests.  And I appreciate entering a clean house when I am invited to their place.   But here's why I'm not obsessive about it.  It's clean when they arrive, but I don't spend time cleaning up behind everyone throughout the visit.    I do like to enjoy my visitors.

As proof of my non-obsessiveness, it's Saturday at 11:00 a.m. and I've not touched a surface in this house.    But I do need to get the Teen out of bed sometime soon.  A little Vroom, vroom should work.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Even Garbage Has A Story


On Saturday I did my part for the environment and collected garbage around Lake of the Isles. It was an Earth Day event. Made Hubby go too. This is my kind of volunteer event. One and done. Since I'm on the neighborhood Environment Committee, I felt it was my duty to participate. Plus, I like to walk around a pretty lake.

We managed to come up with quite a haul despite covering just a small amount of the lake's edge. That's where the most garbage collects. Hubby and I had a few chuckles imagining how some items made their way to the lake.

The combination of beer cans, candles and condom was a pretty obvious story. While I suppose to the couple that left their accessories behind, it seemed like a romantic evening, to those of us picking up later it was only gross.

I imagined the baby pacifier was the result of a young child being given a close-up look of the lake shore resulting in a gleeful laugh that landed the pacifier in the water. I wouldn't use it again either.

There were plenty of candy wrappers, plastic pop bottles and tops and straws. Just the leftovers from some fishermen or picnickers I suppose. The plastic alien head and action figures may have been tossed in a little temper tantrum. And the tennis and wiffle balls must have once provided hours of entertainment to a never tiring dog, but one not inclined to jump in the water.

The only clothing we found was a pair of men's flip flops. They were quite a distance apart but clearly a matched pair. I think you'd have to be a little inebriated to walk home without your shoes and not notice. There were a few Bud's around.

Our favorite was the environmentally inclined litterer of two organic beer bottles. After chugging one back, he/she thought "I'll just toss these bottles here on the ground. After all it's organic beer. It's good for the lake."

We found one six-pack soda ring. In unison, Hubby and I said "That's why there's no dolphins in this lake!" I knew there was a reason we were meant for each other.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Letting Go


When I was pregnant with Daughter (aka Teen) I worried like most new moms-to-be do. Did she kick today? Is she growing okay? Is she healthy? I distinctly remember a co-worker saying, "and after she's born, you'll just keep worrying."

I have this big crease down the center of my forehead as proof that I have indeed continued to worry. Just the other day Daughter asked if she could attend an all-day rap festival. This sent shivers down my spine. A rap festival? You mean like gansta' rap? Apparently not. This is an "indie" rap festival. That's supposed to make me feel better. I went on line and searched for anything I could learn. When I saw a video from last year's festival showing a performer rapping about walking around Minneapolis lakes, I decided to take the chance and let her go.

She's going to a marine biology camp this summer. She'll be snorkeling and diving in the ocean. With sharks. And possibly other things with sharp teeth. I don't swim, but we made sure she did so she could do just these kinds of things I never could. But I'd feel better if her father was swimming alongside. When she asked, I was ready to say no, but Hubby intervened so we're letting her go to that too. He'd like to have a diving partner someday I think.

Letting her go. Don't you just hate those words?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Boomer Honors Baseball with New Blog Look

In honor of the start of the baseball season I have altered the look of my blog. Note baseball.

Tomorrow I'll be attending my first Twins game of the season. We have a 20-game series. This is only 1/4 of the available home games. When I was a working person (for money) attending 20 games was tough. Will be interesting to see if it feels like a lot of games or not now that I am a retiree with much more time on my hands. Can't imagine, even now, going to 80 games!

For those of you who do not have the privilege of attending this many Twins games, I am going to blog about my season experiences. So first blog will be after tomorrow's game. There are many things to see and do at the ballpark beyond just watching the game, so I promise to report on non-game related things too.

Maybe Hubby and I will be on Kiss Cam tomorrow. Oh the excitement of baseball!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Lincoln and the Art of Memory Making

This past week I vacationed in Key Largo with Teen. She was eager to try snorkeling before her June Marine Biology camp. Since I'm not a swimmer I was content to enjoy the sunshine on board the boat. All went well. Perfect weather, calm seas. That was Day 1. We were pretty much out of things to do after that. Yup, Key Largo is all about snorkeling, diving and fishing. Beaches aren't much and I wasn't too interested in getting my name carved on a seashell so I spent a great deal of time lounging outside and reading a book on Lincoln, Team of Rivals, by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

This is no ordinary book. It's a big sucker..754 fascinating pages. Admittedly, like all his contemporaries, I fell a little in love with Abe. I teared up at the end, even though I already knew how it ended. One passage in the book struck me so much I underlined it. It said that Lincoln was unable to find comfort in the idea of a literal afterlife in heaven. Instead "he found consolation in the conviction that in the memories of others some part of us remains alive."

Lincoln did a lot of things worth remembering. But what about us ordinary folk? Will we remain alive in memories of others a hundred years from now? I grew up hearing the stories of my uncles and aunts growing up. They were passed down to me and my cousins, but it's unlikely they will move beyond my generation. I sometimes tell my daughter bits and pieces about my parents, but she never knew them herself so do those odd details really have any holding power? It's unlikely that I will live long enough to make a lasting impression on a granddaughter of my own so will memories of me stop at the next generation? If my daughter tells her of our trip to Key Largo, will it stick and be passed along?

Yet, I am hopeful that someone somewhere a hundred years from now will be doing a little genealogy work and will run across my name and seek to learn more. Perhaps they will find these little postings forever held in some internet cloud just waiting to be discovered. I suppose it's still possible I could do great things and make the history books, but not likely. Still, I've many years ahead of me to make memorable memories and to resurrect the memories of others. Because, yes, I do want to live on in someone's memory.

When Hubby asked me how I wanted my remains handled after death I said, buried with a marker. It won't say much about me other than I existed, but that's a start.

Darn, now that I think about it, I should have had my name carved on that seashell! I don't think even Lincoln had one of those.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Teen Working on Time Management


It's amazing to me how much kids do these days. For the past several weeks and through next week Teen is part of the pit band for the school musical. She likes it but it makes getting homework or anything else done quite difficult. This week is particularly bad as she is practicing till 9:30 at night or later.

This is requiring some new tactics in time management. Last week she needed help getting definitions for geography vocabulary, basically looking the words up and writing the definitions on a card. When approached I said "I'll do it, but looking up and writing down the definitions is part of the learning process." She disagreed with that until her father said I was right. (Hubby is the last word on all things educational around this house despite the fact that I too attended high school at one time in my life.) So she agreed to wait and see whether she could handle it then if not come back. She came back. No big deal, mostly busy work.

Then last night, after a 10:00 p.m. pick-up from pit band practice, Teen was stressing about a special project due on Monday: the history of the Golden Delicious Apple and its role in saving mankind. That's what the questions sounded like to me anyway. She didn't ask, but I could see she was once again using her new time management tactic, get mom to help, only this time waiting for me to volunteer. I'm a wimp. I did.

So today I looked up anything I could find on the Golden Delicious apple, bookmarking anything that looked remotely relevant to the salvation of mankind. In particular I hunted for information on Johnny Appleseed because Teen is convinced there is no historical context to him and scoffed at me when I brought it up. (Remember that I am not the educational guru of the house, so what do I know.) I am happy to report that Big John was indeed based on a real person and can be tied back to the history of the Golden Delicious. So there.

So far her new time management system appears to be working. Too bad Hubby is out-of-town because now my system is breaking down.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Murderous Machines

When you walk on a treadmill in front of a TV at 10 a.m., you get to hear all kinds of interesting tidbits. Today I learned about murder mysteries that are all named after a dessert. The book being promoted was called "The Apple Turnover Murder. " I kid you not. Some of the other titles are "The Plum Pudding Murder" and "The Cream Puff Murder." I tried to imagine how the people died in these books. Heads smashed into a concoction of butter, cream and chocolate? Maybe with a few nuts stuck up the nose? This reminded me of the murder series that is based on the letters of the alphabet: "K is for Killer," "Be is for Burglar," "S is for Silence". A limit of 26 letters puts a potential end to the crime fighter's murder cases whereas the dessert detective could go on and on and on.

Inspired by the dessert and the alphabet murder series AND my treadmill, I've come up with my very own series: The LA Fitness Murder Mystery Series, featuring the somewhat underweight detective, Lana Flexor. First books of the series are Treadmill Trauma, Bar Bell Barbiturates, and The Curse of the Bicep Curl.

In Treadmill Trauma, a poor hapless out-of-shape exerciser is the unwitting victim of a machine gone mad. He thinks he sets the speed at 4 m.p.h. but the murderer has rigged the machine to move at 10 times that speed. Before he can pull his red emergency cord, which the murderer knows the exerciser never attaches to his clothes, our victim flies off the treadmill, hitting his head on the Stair Master behind him, instantly dying. Our skillful detective, Lana Flexor, a personal trainer by day, must solve the crime with only her wits and a Polar Heart Monitor to aid her.

There are days when I think exercise is murder.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

In With the New, Out with the ....Nothing Much

I received a new color printer for Christmas but it won't fit in or on my desk. I found the perfect sized rolling stand for it over the internet but there's no space for the stand in my office. Thus begins the great eradication of stuff. It's a bit like lining up the dominos and starting the cascade.

The printer needs to go where the 3-drawer storage bin sits. That bin is full of "who knows what" and piled up with "got to do something with that" stuff. The "got to do something with that" stuff needs a home IN the 3-drawer bin so I need to clean out the closet in the guest bedroom, full of ten years of arts and crafts materials, to make room for the "who knows what" stuff. The 3-drawer bin itself needs a space so I'll have to clean out the closet in the office which is full of an extra bedroom's worth of linen, summer clothes, and more "who knows what".

So I started with the arts and crafts materials that I've collected since Teen was a toddler. For ten years we had to buy a new box of pencils, pens, crayons and markers to start the school year off right. Somehow the old box would never do. Classic markers are not the same as Tropical markers etc. etc. Then there's the stamps, glue sticks, stickers, scissors, construction paper. You can't throw this stuff out! It's all still good. It all works. Into the basement it goes.

Next I attacked the office closet. Shoved the clothes to the side. I need those. I'm going to lose weight. And I might have more than two guests one day and need those extra bedroom accessories. I stuffed the pillows, blankets, etc. into a couple of those special bags that you suck the air out with a vacuum cleaner . The picture on the package shows a nice pancake-like package full of all your important stuff. Mine resembled a diorama of the Rockies. Close enough. Into the basement it goes.

Then I attacked the 3-drawer bin inside and outside. More arts and crafts. Important brochures on everything you can do in Minneapolis (in case of guests). But most troublesome: photos and more photos. Photos of previous generations and earlier times, past vacations, and lots of Teen when she was still Baby and Toddler. How can you toss these? Even knowing that I've already captured the best of many of these collections in photo albums doesn't help me part with them. After all, I can't really KNOW until I've cross-checked. So I had to move everything out except the photos. Shove those into the bin, then into the closet it goes. That's a for later job.

So now I'm ready for the printer stand. There's nothing like getting something new to bring home the reality that I do not easily part with the old.

Worse still, now I have to clean the basement.


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Boomer Appalled By Age Bias in Star Track Treadmill

This is my first in what could be a series of boomer advocate posts if I have more than one. As an advocate I am dedicated to the mission of ridding the world of age related bias. My target today is the Star Track treadmill at my LA Fitness center. I am hopeful that some "with it" marketer will be tracking "buzz" on his product and my blog will pop up because I have used the words Star Track treadmill several times.

My favorite machine at the fitness center is the treadmill (Star Track treadmill) because it is the only piece of equipment that will keep going even if I want to stop. I've been using the Interval Training program. It requires you to enter your weight and age and from that information the machine will suggest a lower and upper limit for your heart rate. For my stats the upper limit is 123. I discovered quickly that I can reach 123 just by stepping on the machine so I played around with the weight/age variables so it would give me a 130 HR upper limit. I learned that a 400 lb. twenty-year old will get a 150 HR upper limit while a 125 lb. fifty-five-year old will get a 123 HR upper limit.

Now I ask you, dear readers, who's more likely to have the heart attack on the treadmill, the 400 pounder or the svelte 55-year old? This machine totally ignores weight, relying solely on age to set its Heart Rate limits. And the older you are, the more the machine presumes you are likely to keel over. I consider this an outrage to all only slightly plump 55-year olds. And what's worse, it's asking for my weight information and not even using it.

I solved the problem by telling the machine I was only 45 and on a good day I might only weigh 115. Now that I think on this more, maybe I like this machine just the way it is.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Boomer on Fast Forward

Should have, could have, why didn't I, why did I? While doing my thing at the fitness center today my mind became clogged with questions along those lines. Boy, I should have started coming to the fitness center when I was still young and fit like that skinny girl walking by. Boy, I could have looked really good like that other grey haired woman if only I hadn't let myself eat from the candy bowl every time I passed by. Why didn't I spend more time on myself instead of at work? Why did I let myself get so out-of-shape?

Then suddenly the brakes engaged. Screech! Whoa girl. Stop that. We are only looking forward. We're thinking only about what we want to feel like, look like, do from this point on. Yesterday is yesterday. It was a good moment. A positive moment. One I did not expect I needed or would have yet did.

However, I am very glad I didn't buy that hounds tooth coat I saw someone wearing today. So yesterday.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Boomer Refuses to Look Part of Retiree

I managed to get myself out of bed in time to see Teen head out the door for school. Determined to be friendly and approachable, I said "good morning" when I saw her. She did not respond. I tried again. Still no response. Then Hubby yelled at her, "Say good morning to your mother." She grumbled something. Ever the supportive husband, he gave her grief in the car as he drove her to the bus stop.

She's taking this mom retirement thing mighty hard. I've decided, for the sake of Teen, that I need to make an effort to not LOOK retired or old. First decision this morning, put on makeup. Second decision, blow dry rather than air dry hair. Then off to the gym.

I spotted a woman at the gym who got me thinking about looking old and my grandmas. My grandmas were always old to me. Each had the classic look of a woman who led a hard life and gave birth to a dozen kids. Flowery dresses that were belted at the waist, even though there wasn't much you'd call a waist there. Breasts that sagged down to that non-existent waist. And a bun in her hair. A mound of hair twisted into a knot down low on the head then pinned together with a dozen hairpins. The woman in the gym had a bun. It didn't matter what she was wearing or how old she really was. That bun put her in the 70's age zone.

I'm getting my haircut tomorrow. Cutting it short. No way am I even going to be tempted to put my hair in a bun.



Saturday, February 13, 2010

Teen Faces Facts

Last night Hubby, Teen and I went out to eat. The restaurant was like most restaurants these days, a bit noisy. Hubby was admiring a painting on the wall but couldn't see the name of the artist. Teen had a better view of the name so Hubby asked her to read it. She said it's After. We both said "what?". She said it again. We said "what did you say..after?" Teen said, "Gahh dad, you're going deaf. You're old, retired and going deaf. You're both old, retired and going deaf. Most of my friends have parents a lot younger than you. " Hubby and I looked at each other with a somewhat amused smile. It is a fact, we are old, retired and going deaf. The retirement statement is a new addition, however, since it just happened.

Despite the fact that Teen has lived with older parents her whole life, she has never declared it to our faces in such a negative tone. Obviously only one new thing has happened, my retirement. I got to thinking. The answer to "what does your mom do" is now, "she's retired." That probably sounds really old to kids who have grandparents that still work. Is it embarrassing to have an older parent? Did saying "my mom works for General Mills" give her some cover on the age thing? Perhaps I can pretend to be doing some other kind of work. I can say "I write a blog." Then Teen can tell her friends "my mom's a writer." That sounds kind of cool as long as they never ask what I write.

When Teen made her declaration to us I didn't take it sitting still. I fired back, "well most of our friends have kids a lot older than you. So there!" Somehow it didn't have quite the sting to it.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Boomer Ponders Pondering

I am about to retire from 28 years as a Marketing Researcher. Two days to go. I know that many things will change and I'm sure I'm not as ready for the changes as I should be. People ask me what I will miss. Few people ask me about what I won't miss. Perhaps everyone figures they can guess. But here's something I've been pondering. For 28 years I've thought about work. I've thought about it in the shower, before I go to sleep at night, when I wake up in the middle of the night, when I'm sitting at the dinner table. I have to work at occupying my brain with something else to turn it off. So what will I think about, when I'm not thinking about work? What's going to occupy that nagging little space?

So yesterday I woke up at 3:00 a.m. and couldn't get back to sleep. Apparently even retirement is not going to solve that problem. I took a quick trip to the bathroom and when I settled back into bed, here's what popped into my mind. Who invented toilet paper? The great American Indian, Chief White Cloud? Perhaps it was Charlemagne ---Charmin, get it? I was so amused at my line of thought, I kept myself entertained until I went back to sleep.

So maybe this is what I will ponder in the future. Already I'm having fun. Think I'll go google it. I've got the time.