Monday, June 30, 2008

Gym Rat

I am trying to get into a summer gym groove. It is hard with the kids around a lot more, balancing work and also dealing with the strange men putting in our patio. What do the strange men have to do with going to the gym? Well, if it weren't for them working at the house, I would have no problem leaving the kids (Thing 1 and Thing 2) for an hour and twenty minutes to get my work out in and come back. I just don't want to risk it as, who knows what backgrounds these guys have?

Anyway, I made a deal with the hubby and went off to the 7:45 class this am so I could work out with peace of mind with respect to the kids. Having to squeeze in the workout like this makes me realize how much I should appreciate it and the effort to make it to the gym. So, I have decided to work on some of my poor gym attitude, or as I like to call it, fatitude. Some of you may recognize that you too share this fatitude on occasion:

The act of feigning an urgent bladder issue, and heading to the bathroom stall, whenever you come to a part of the circuit you really don't like.

Trying to keep pace with your neighboring gymbot, not out of competitiveness, but to get the scoop on her friend, the gossip at school, to complain about the town taxes, anything to get your mind off of the self inflicted torture, I mean exercise.

Stationary Amnesia
When you haven't the foggiest idea what you are supposed to do at a certain station in the circuit, even though the instructor went over it in detail, not two minutes prior. Note, this can also be self-inflicted when an exercise is too distasteful to remember, similar to childbirth.

Hydration Motivation
When the only thing that can keep you going through the circuit is heading for your water bottle (conveniently placed as far from the circuit as possible) between each station.

Modification Preservation
Modifying the exercise to keep my sanity or my joints from whining.

As for this morning's workout, other than a wee bit of modification preservation, I did not suffer from any stationary amnesia and could not be accused of stalling. I did have a mild case of hydration motivation, but all in all, I was really self-nosivated, concentrating on my saddlebags and spare tire and trying to figure out where they came from.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Sweat Dreams

I made the mistake of wearing regular pajamas to bed last night. Ever since about 35 years old ( I was born premature and seem to do everything that way), I have been plagued by occassional night sweats. It used to be pretty tolerable when I was on a birth control pill with estrogen in it.

However, ever since I have been on the progesterone only pill, I could be my own water source most nights. Thus, the special wicking pajamas I now usually sport to bed. While they don't exactly keep me completely dry, I have never woken up soaking in them either. I will wake up clammy sometimes, which is a vast improvement.

Prior to wicking pajamas, some nights, I would wake up and the sheets underneath me would literally be soaking wet. This was particularly problematic when it happened the first time at a B & B in Vermont. What do you do when you essentially "wet the bed" in the middle of the night at an Inn? There was no front desk, open twenty four hours. Even if there was, I was going to be a very uninviting sight going down there at that odd hour to ask for extra sheets. Who knows what they would think? Probably that I did actually have bladder control issues, or worse.

Plus, having to change the sheets, even if I did have them, would involve waking my husband and making him get out of bed. Anyone who knows him also knows that he is not the easiest person to wake up. If he were asleep near train tracks, he would slumber away as the train went by.

So, what is a soaking wet, cranky girl to do? The quickest thing possible to try and get to sleep. I grabbed one of the bath towels and put it on the bed beneath me. It was a little weird and kind of beachlike to sleep on the towel, but it did the trick and provided the necessary barrier.

These night sweats don't seem to be affected by the temperature of the room, or the rest of my body. It can be a delightful New England night where we are being buffeted by arctic winds outside and the temperature is below zero. Add to this lovely scene that my hands and feet are freezing and I have donned socks and am seriously contemplating mittens-in bed! So, I finally fall asleep, and low and behold, I will wake up in the middle of the night, drenched. Go figure, if someone could just tinker with the wiring, the heat could be distributed to my hands and feet, and I wouldn't even complain if they got a bit sweaty or clammy.

Maybe instead of having doctors trying to figure out the mystery of night sweats and hot flashes, we should be looking at plumbers or HVAC guys. We could use their lingo and tell them that zone 1 is hotter than hell, where zones 2 and 3 are being frozen out. I am guessing they could figure out a solution quicker than the doctors, but I wouldn't want to see the bill.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Summer Cramp

Well, survived day one of the children's (Thing 1 and Thing 2) summer vacation from school. I only had to threaten full time, full day camp 5 times and a military academy 2 times. This school's out thing is cramping my style.

After several episodes of whining, I kicked them both out of the house, as it was a beautiful day, and I remember as a kid, we only hung out inside when we were forced to come home for lunch and dinner. So of course, like a recurring rash, they kept coming back, trying to get into the house. Or worse, they would stand within ear shot of my office and torment each other, with one or the other taking turns screaming "Mommy, mommy" at the top of their lungs, as if a grizzly bear were about to attack them.

Finally, when they realized I wasn't going to let them in until lunch time and that no neighborhood kids happened to be around, I noticed an eery quiet decend on the place. I became all proud, thinking that my plan had worked and that they had finally realized they could stop trying to get my attention/annoy me/make me regret I didn't send them to 7 weeks of sleep away camp, and have some fun.

What I found in reality was the two of them, their nintendos in hand, playing some kind of virtual chase game. I momentarily thought of confiscating the nintendos, because it wasn't what I had in mind. Then I came to my senses, realized they were momentarily not at each others' throats and out of the house and my hair as well. Whatever. We shall see what day two brings, I am hoping it is other kids in the neighborhood.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Hidden Words in Our Marriage Vows

Last week was our fourteenth wedding anniversary. This week, I experienced computer problems again and, as usual, relied on my husband, tech support, to fix them. Which gave me pause to consider how some of the words in our wedding vows have taken on different meanings.
Thanks to my husband's packrat behavior, he was able to pinpoint where a copy of miscellaneous wedding things were in the house. Unfortunately, I couldn't find all of the vows and was not motivated enought to watch them again from the wedding video, however I did find his special vows.
Here is a portion of them:
"Donna , you are truly my special friend. I know that whenever I need someone to talk to, you are there to inspire me. And I will always be there to support and encourage you."
That was the theory behind the vows. Now, here is my take on the reality of those vows complete with hidden words in italics:
"Donna, you are truly my special needs (read: high maintenance) friend. I know that whenever I need someone to talk to, you are there to inspire me, as long as I make sure not to start any conversation between the hours of 9 pm and 7 am. And I will always be there to provide technical support in terms of computers, cameras, power equipment and motor vehicles and encourage you, except during school vacations, snow days and the seemingly unending school holidays, when you are on your own with our misbehaving spawn."

Too bad I can't find my special vows. Something tells me there would be some hidden words there too.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Alvin and the Chip-punks

Can you make out my fury litle "friend" right along the border of my lawn in this photo?
Lately, I find myself engaged in constant patrol mode throughout my yard. Enemy number one? The chip-punks (as I like to call them) who have been wrecking my yard, my plants, and especially my lettuce, all the while squealing with delight.
My in-laws don't sympathize, they have bunnies to contend with in Rhode Island. However, I point out that at least bunnies are silent ravagers. I have to hear the constant squeals of the 'punks while I try to get work done in my office and still get fresh air. So much for a quiet street. They are noisily ravaging the work we have put in around the yard.
Just witness what they have done to the lettuce my husband planted:

Now mind you, the lettuce used to look as full and lush as the lettuce on the right side of the planter, until the day I found one of the chip-punks, derriere in the air, furiously digging up the middle of the planter, and making an awful mess in the process. I tried patching the hole, but as you can see, the damage was done.

We had strategically placed this planter of lettuce as close to the kitchen as possible not only to protect it, but to protect ourselves from having to walk very far to get it. As you know, out of sight, out of mind. Apparently, we weren't the only ones with this idea. The chip-punks had the same idea, but in reverse. They decided to build their house as close as possible to the lettuce. If you plant it, they will come.
In case there are any skeptics out there, here is a picture of the chip-punk hole showing it's close proximity to the planter, formerly full of lettuce. I was always opposed to the Iraq war and consider myself somewhat of a pacificist on foreign policy issues, but where these chip-punks are concerned, I am seriously thinking of sanctioning the use of force. I imagine what Bill Murray's Caddyshack character would do to get these guys out of here. In the meantime, I am thinking of redirecting that gutter a little to the right.

Monday, June 23, 2008

But It Was A Bargain

Yesterday, I did a little spring cleaning while hunting for something in the craft area of my basement. I like getting organized, but I hate the guilt that often goes along with it. What guilt? The guilt from buying things I have never used and at this point probably never will.

Case in point, these cute blank invitations: They were really cheap at the card store’s local sidewalk sale, so how could I pass them up? At the time, it was a reasonable purchase, because my children were probably 5 and 3 years old. Now that they are 10 and 12, you can see why I feel a little guilty every time I run across these never used invites. There is absolutely no chance that either of my children would allow me to use these invitations for any party in their honor and I can’t blame them. Upon closer observations, they really were meant only for the below kindergarten age set.

While getting organized, I also ran across these great camping/western themed card shapes.

I have a distant memory of buying them thinking that they would make great gift tags. However, I didn’t stop to consider that the corrugation of the paper would make it impossible to write on them. I am proud to say however, that I remember using a few of these several years ago, to adorn a make your own picture frame. Somehow I never did get around to using the rest, and after moving three times until settling in this house, I have had three opportunities to save them thinking I will use them. Now my motto, begrudgingly, must be, when in doubt, throw them out (or recycle or donate them).

I also have no less than all twelve of these cute, make your own wind chimes from a set that I must have bought inexpensively about 7 years ago, which also have never been used. Way back when I bought them, I remember thinking they would make a great craft activity for one of my daughter’s birthday parties. Well, now that she herself is 12, I am older and wiser and have learned never to have 12 hormonal girls together, under my charge for the sake of a party where my daughter will get presents she does not need. I am still recovering from the sleep over with 8 girls two years ago. Of course, my daughter was the biggest problem on that night. She never did stop to consider that the dynamics of 9 girls altogether might mean that she would not be the center of attention all of the time. The theme song could have been "It's My Party and I'll Cry If I Want To."

So I have to ask myself with these relics from my retail therapeutic past, why did I do it? Even if the invitations were only two dollars, I probably should have taken two dollars out of my wallet and set them aflame right there and then. I still would have wasted two dollars, but then I wouldn’t be racked with all of the guilt. Guilt over wasting money on the invitations, guilt over never using them when I undoubtedly had forgotten I had them and went out and bought other invitations for seven dollars, year after year, times two kids, until the children had outgrown the invitations altogether. Guilt over what to do with the darn things now. After all is said and done, it would be a shame to throw them out, even to the recycling bin. So, I must think of to whom or what organization I can donate them.

It is all so stressful. I think I will put them back and have a think about where I can donate them while avoiding all sales racks and sidewalk sales for the summer as temporary penance. Hopefully by the time I figure out who can truly use them, I will remember where I put the invites, otherwise, they would be great for my grandchildren’s parties.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Little League, Big Egos

My alma mater, Trinity's, winning team!

My husband disagrees with me, but I think men have issues with aging just as much as women, they just handle it differently. While we go out and buy beauty creams, color our hair, avoid mirrors, maybe get botox, or if not, just blog about getting old (like me), men give up and seek to control something else in their lives, like Little League (or insert other sport here, like hockey).
These guys see themselves literally slipping, as we women do, but instead of focusing on the abdominal fat, the grey hairs, the decreased flexibility, they focus not on changing themselves or accepting the reality that it is out of their control (something we women refuse to accept either), but instead on controlling something else in their lives. Then along comes Little League. Perfect, somewhere to reign supreme again, memorize the big book of rules and boss around players and umpires and of course, the opposing team.
From what I have witnessed, most of these coaches run their teams like little kingdoms where they reign supreme. My son's coach is a fine example of this himself. Wanting total control, he begrudingly let my husband help out and allowed another dad to be the first base coach for games only. Most of the other coaches I have seen in the league have not seemed much better, though they did have more assistant coaches, which says something.
I give Little League as an example because I have just spent part of the morning writing a protest letter in response to a protest letter lodged by the coaches from the team which lost to my son's team yesterday. You see, their coaches, who were similar in number to the Bush Recount Team, approached the umpire after the game and explained that there were various infractions committed by my son's coach in terms of player positions. The key word in that last sentence is 'after.'

As I mentioned above, my son's coach is no angel, and I have problems with the way he often coached, from being too controlling of the team but not controlling enough of his emotions, to saying things to the children which were frankly inappropriate. However, I do think it becomes down right pathetic when at the end of the game both teams know who clearly won and who clearly lost, and yet we have to explain to our kids that because of some technicalities which weren't brought up in the game, the other team may end up winning and my son's team end up losing.
What it boils down to is that the other team doesn't like the way my son's coach coached. Well, neither did I, but who was I to complain? As my husband points out, we women have the opportunity to help out too. I don't know why more women don't help out. I saw one woman helping during warm up by catching the ball. I think that more women probably don't help out because it is like trying to get the TV remote control in a room of men. After a while, you give up and read a book or a magazine instead. It is just not that important. But not for these Little League coaches.

We as women should get more involved but are probably frankly intimidated by some of the encyclopedic knowledge of the rules by some of these guys. Though there was always softball growing up, the rules are different (as I understand it) and baseball has always been a pretty male bastion.
For my part, I don't actually like the sport very much and never did. It is way too slow and takes too long. That's not even counting the time spent writing the protest letters.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


I read in Sunday’s New York Times about Melissa Morris’ blog, May-December ( which has gotten 40,000 hits. It chronicles Mrs. Morris’ high society life. As you (lone reader of exactly 1 hit) know, I have started my own blog. So I was curious to see what her blog was like and why it was so attractive. I checked it out and decided to model today’s entry after some of hers, though of course adapting it to my more mundane life. I chose to call my blog entry December-December, because alas, I don’t spend the winter in some exotic locale, rather here I stay in the wintry mix of precipitation that coats Connecticut. I also chose December-December because, after fourteen years of marriage, two kids, one dog, three houses, three rentals and five job changes between us, it is clear that this is no seasonal romance. In fact, I recently watched my wedding video with my daughter and when she asked “where was I then?” I actually thought about who might have been taking care of her since I can’t even remember my life before kids and thus temporary amnesia made me forget that she didn’t exist at that moment. But enough about little old me, and on to Mrs. Morris’ blog.

Mrs. Morris’ blog was professionally designed. Mine is done by moi, who just recently learned how to get the pictures off of the camera and onto the computer, so there is a slight difference in terms of layout and attractiveness, to say nothing of picture quality. I think it is pretty obvious that I am not related to Ansel Adams.

Mrs. Morris showcased her signet ring and discussed her family crests. The only crests in my family or my husband’s are tubes of tooth paste. So instead, I present to you what I should have been doing instead of reading about her signet rings, that would be cleaning the rings around my toilet. This is also a natural analogy because she discusses a book where you can find your family crest if your family is from Great Britain. Chances are, if your family is not descended from folks in Great Britain, that you do your own toilets, and perhaps even the toilets of others to make ends meet. Here is a view of one of the toilet rings.

Here is a view of the toilet ring with my wedding ring:

Mrs. Morris also has pictures on her website of her wedding day. Unfortunately, I can’t oblige on that count, as we got married before digital photos existed (an ancient fourteen years ago and though there is a way to scan photos undoubtedly, that is beyond my capabilities).

She also has many pictures of her dog, Monty, enjoying ice cream at some hotel. While I don’t have any pictures of my belated dog Kramer in any hotel, as he never made the cut for family vacations due to budgetary and space constraints (unlike Mrs. Morris, we don’t have a Range Rover), we do have a picture of Kramer right after he stole some ice cream and before he got sent to solitary confinement for that stunt.

Before digital photography, we also took a picture of Kramer enjoying a “Frosty Paw” which is nondairy ice cream marketed to dogs. It was the first and last picture we had of him eating such a treat because he became viciously protective of the “Frosty Paw” and was banned for life from ever having them again.

Mrs. Morris also wrote about her and her husband’s debate about which of their two dishwashers is preferred. She chose the one in the butler pantry. She has pictures of both kinds on her website.

As it turns out, my household has two dishwashers as well.

Here is a picture of the Bosch dishwasher:

Here is a picture of the other dishwasher, me!

According to Mrs. Morris, she has no butler, only herself. Though she can dine with the likes of Senator Bill Frist, apparently, if he comes over to her house, she will be the one who ends up loading the dishwasher (no wonder she dines out!). Surprisingly, I too lack a butler. In fact, not only do I lack a butler, but I even lack a butler’s pantry. No wonder none of those butlers wanted the job when I interviewed them…

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Not So Smoothie

Today is my fourteenth wedding anniversary. This should be a good day, but so far it hasn’t gone smoothly. Or should I say smoothie? You see, this morning I went about making the usually breakfast smoothies for my husband and I. In my typical near coma-like state in the morning, I failed to notice that I had incorrectly screwed the glass part of the blender into the base, so that it was cockeyed. So, there I am pouring in the organic concord grape juice (chock full of antioxidants, or so I have read), when I see it all rapidly seep out all over the counter, then, kitchen floor. I tried to stop the deluge by taking the top off and rushing it to the sink like an orderly ferrying a critical triage patient. Not unlike such a medical scene, the floor was covered with grape juice, simulating a blood bath. Ignoring for the moment that the kitchen looked like the set of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, I wrestled with the glass part of the blender, trying to get it off the base. This was not a pretty scene.

I finally gave up using my brute strength and opted for pliers. The second pair I tried finally did the trick. After washing the floor three times until my shoes did not stick to it, and making the smoothie twice, I was finally able to sit down to breakfast. By this time, I was awake.

The Smoothie fiasco would have been enough for most people in terms of ruining the start of their day. However, I like to excel at everything I do, even if the category is screwing up. So, I gave my husband the anniversary present I impulsively picked out yesterday. It was a pair of Orrefors cobalt blue crystal champagne glasses to replace two out of the four ones he had broken when the mirror he had put up on the back of our new bar, broke (as you can see, in terms of clumsiness, we are a match made in heaven). It turns out that I had forgotten, in my over forty years old fog of amnesia, that he had already bought himself four replacements.

The saddest part of this is that I have only the vaguest recollection of him buying the four replacement glasses. If this is what my memory is like at 41 and 14 years of marriage, I shudder to think what the future holds. However, I am not going to get too worked up about today’s faux pas, because the way things are going, I am certain to forget them!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Of Mice and Men

Sorry it has taken me so long to post this story. You see, I have been running around the region trying to find someone who can repair the zipper on our picnic backpack. As you can see from the picture, the zipper has been ravaged, and not by a puppy as one might guess, but instead, by mice.

We were living in England when we got it and right after we purchased the picnic backpack and had used it exactly once, we stored it in the big closet we had. Shortly thereafter I went through one of my periodic cleaning frenzies. When I went to move the backpack, I noticed that the front flapped open. Upon closer inspection, I noticed it was all chewed up in several critical spots. Those included the top of the insulated back section (which fortunately they did not penetrate through-perhaps their teeth had been warn down to nubs by this point?) and the front zipper, in two places.

Let me just point out at the onset, there were several other zippers on this backpack, anyone of which we would have been much less irritated about had they been chewed. But no, these mice had to go for the gusto, they had to eat into the zipper of the pocket which holds together (when zippered up) all of the dishes, silverware, corkscrew, cuttingboard, cheese knife, table cloth and napkins which first attracted us to its efficient and yet complete features.

I just mention napkins above. That is because the set did originally come with napkins. One man’s napkins are another mouse’s bedding, apparently. As you can see from the picture, the napkins were shredded by the mice for bedding or for fun or for who the heck knows why? But the bottom line is that the napkins have been discarded to the rag pile and are no longer with the set. Curiously, the table cloth remained untouched. Perhaps the napkins were thought to be more diminutive, like the mice themselves, and sort of like choosing twin size over king?

So, what do you do with a picnic set that you paid the equivalent of $120 US dollars for and which you used exactly once, which you can no longer carry around in one piece (and wasn’t that, after all, the whole point?) First you try emailing the American company, Concept, which made it and is based out of Colorado. Not exactly once, but several times, and receive no response. Then, when all else fails, you listen to your mother-in-law and find a cobbler (a man who fixes shoes, not a dessert, though the dessert in the end, would have been easier to find).

This is easier said than done. In our throw away world, cobblers are a breed which is rapidly going extinct and those that actually do luggage repairs, well, they may as well have put a cage around him and sold tickets, by the time I found him. He is a regional attraction that people need to drive miles to find. I had started off in my town, first trying a tailor, and then trying a shoe repair place (the more modern term for cobbler) and struck out at both places. I took the seamstress’ suggestion at the second place and tried the yellow pages. Yes, I let my fingers do the walking, and after talking to Fazio the cobbler/luggage repairer on the phone, I set off on the 22 minute drive to show him the backpack and see if he could fix it.
Eureka! While I haven’t gotten it back yet, he showed me how he could fix it and put a ¾ length zipper in its place that would still work but not open as wide. Luckily I had saved the little zipper grabber thing at the end, because it turns out he needed it. Even better, he will have it for me on Friday and for only fifteen dollars. On the scoreboard of life the score is now: Mice 1, (Wo)Men 1, and we won’t mention the napkins.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Dog Gone It

Four months ago, we had to put our dog Kramer, our first and only dog, to sleep. He had been with us since he was 7 months old. If he had lived a few more months, he would have made it to fifteen years old. Not a day goes by that I don’t miss him. Though I have gotten used to not tripping over him in the kitchen where he always managed to lie right in the middle of foot traffic, I still expect to find him every time I enter the kitchen.

I also feel a little guilty that we decided to get rid of the mysterious multilevel deck in the back yard now, when he will never benefit from a straight forward patio instead. I can’t forget the first time I let him out on that deck. He stood there confused, trying to figure out how the heck to get off of the thing.

You see, this was no ordinary deck. It had three levels, but no railings in between the levels. Additionally, it was replete with switch backs and stairs that did not flow from one set to the other. I think my husband was probably right when he ventured a guess that the deck was the work of an over eager architecture school student, undoubtedly a direct descendent of the former owners. What really was the deck’s most sore spot was the “lighthouses” as we affectionately coined them. In reality they were two storage sheds with a tapered look and a nautical light fixture on each. The bizarre thing about them was that, like the rest of the deck, they made no sense. In fact, you could not get from one to the other from the deck. In order to achieve this feat, you would have to jump off the deck and walk around and climb up the other side. So, you can see why Kramer was confused and ultimately opted to give up trying to find the path to the lawn and instead peed right on the deck.

Yesterday, I was preparing salmon for a Father’s Day picnic and it broke my heart remembering I had no eager Kramer to whom I could give the salmon skins (a favorite of his, though he would take anything he could get, quite literally sometimes, which earned him the reputation as a thief). These days when I pull out the middle of the loaf of bread to make a smaller, less dense sandwich, I have no one to whom I can give the extra bread. It seems that I remember the things I used to do for him the most, rather than the other way around. But what he did most for me was to be a first rate walking buddy. That is why I miss him the most when I go for a walk.

I feel naked without Kramer when I walk through the neighborhood. It’s like I don’t know what to do with myself. There is no one to talk to (yes, I did talk to him on our walks, I love a captive audience). I don’t have to keep my eyes peeled for squirrels or chipmunks. But I also don’t have Kramer to coach up the big hill. Towards the end he didn’t relish going up hills as it was a great deal of work for him. It was far easier for me to focus on getting him up the hill than to focus on me getting up the hill. Now it is just me and the hill, and it is much less fun.

Of course, not every walk was exactly fun with Kramer. Back when he was a puppy, there was the time that he dragged me around a tree in hot pursuit of a squirrel. I returned home with a bloody hand and the realization that I was going to have to spot the squirrels before Kramer if I was going to survive the relationship in one piece.

It is, I must admit, much quieter at dinner time without Kramer around. You see, Kramer had trained my husband to give him any leftovers, so lingering over dinner was met with much barking from Kramer. If we were done eating, it was his turn, and he was going to make sure we knew it.
Sure, the house is cleaner and quieter than before, but I miss having a receiving line of one big white fluffy dog whenever I get home. It is so nice to have someone always happy to see you when you get home. Dog gone it, four months has gone by and I still miss him!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Oh You Dirty Girl

My husband likes to call me “Messy Marvin.” Some of you might remember years ago, “Messy Marvin” was the name given to a child who got stuff all over his clothes in a laundry detergent commercial (I can’t remember which brand, which would be to the dismay of the company, no doubt). You see, I have a track record of spilling things on myself.

The probability of my dropping something on my outfit is directly proportional to the amount of money I spent on the outfit. So, needless to say, I don’t go in for very expensive clothing. And yet, I still manage to get the clothes I do buy dirty.

I don’t just get them dirty, I succeed in staining them with chocolate ice cream or spaghetti sauce or some other nearly impossible to remove ingredient, not on the periodic table of elements. In reality, I should probably dress all in white, on the theory that I could just bleach out whatever life (or I) threw at me, literally. However, I must be the only person on the planet to fail at bleaching. Somehow, when I use bleach, I will manage to ruin the outfit I have on, while trying to rescue the outfit from yesterday that ended up with teriyaki sauce on it (after it had enrobed the chicken, of course). I do this by splattering the stuff while applying it.

Even if I manage not to get my current outfit covered in bleach, I somehow fail to get the garment I am working on clean. Either the bleach doesn’t penetrate, or it works too well and the whole thing ends up a yellowish color that looks like an item of vintage clothing. When I say vintage clothing though, don’t think ebay, think oldlay, as in old lady!

I really don’t know what the solution is. I could try dressing all in black, but then I imagine that I would find some whitish substance, having the characteristics of crazy glue, to spill on myself. Plus, I don’t think I look good in black, so why be practical?

As I mentioned earlier, the more expensive the outfit, the more likely that I will get it dirty, and this definitely extends to evening wear. Let me give you a concrete (or should I say chocolate?) example of my messy laundry problem. Last year I attended a fundraiser in London where there were various yummy gourmet food stations. For my friend Mary Jane and I, the highlight of the evening was the chocolate fondue station.
I knew before I approached the fondue that I was undertaking a very risky endeavor given my history of being a food klutz and the fact that I was wearing a very expensive, and brand new L.K. Bennett dress. So, I decided I would be extra careful. I grabbed an extra napkin and made sure it was safely underneath whatever I was eating as I leaned over the fondue fountain and overindulged. I came away from the table sated and proud. I was proud that my extra napkin and extra caution had succeeded, or so I thought, in keeping my outfit clean. As we walked away, I looked down and discovered to my horror, that though I had managed to keep the bodice of my gown clean, I had somehow managed to lean into chocolate from the waist down. How the chocolate got that far down, I don’t know. Someone must have spilled chocolate down the table cloth and I hadn’t noticed. That someone must have been a pretty messy eater. I swear it wasn’t me.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Freakish Feet After Forty

My mother-in-law was on a quest for summer sandals last week. She has had narrow feet all her life, narrow feet and thus, a narrow array of shoe options. I, on the other hand, have always had wide feet. However, I have not enjoyed a wide array of shoe options. Nevertheless, I have been able to get by in life without too many difficulties in finding shoes I liked and which also fit.

After looking for sandals myself with my mother-in-law, I discovered much to my dismay, that the act of finding shoes one likes and the act of finding ones which fit are, more often than not, mutually exclusive activities. It seems turning forty had a big impact on my feet.

I’ve never really gone in for the super sexy sandal. The practical side of me always wins out and I generally search for a sandal that is cute, yet comfortable. So I began my annual hunt for such a sandal while my mother in law tried to find narrow sandals at a nearby shoe store which markets itself as specializing in hard to fit sizes.

I picked up no less than 10 pairs. Being a seasoned shoe shopper, I knew that not all of these sandals were going to be available in my size. I also knew that of those that were available in my size, some might fit better than others.

As I mentioned already, I am a seasoned shoe shopper, so you can imagine my surprise and indeed, shock, when none of the sandals that came in my size fit! The sandals either fit the front part of my foot (the “toe box” per the saleseman) or they fit my heel, but not both. I was just getting over my initial shock over the probability of none of the sandals fitting ( and had just finished accusing my mother-in-law of jinxing me with her freaky, hard to fit feet), when the salesman suggested that I take a look at the SAS shoe line table. I nearly fell over.
Here is what SAS sandals look like:

Here is my age:


So, you can kind of understand my reaction. I told the guy: “The SAS table? Are you serious? Gimme a break, I am only 41 years old!”

I must admit, in desperation I did actually go over to the SAS table and make sure I wasn’t overreacting. I was not overreacting (though, before I get hate email from SAS groupies, I did later see a pair on the internet that I would not have run screaming from…).

I returned to my seat dejected and disgusted. I asked if there wasn’t anything else out there. After all, this was a specialty store meant to fit freaky sized feet and, unbeknownst to me while I was preoccupied watching my face form gullies and my head sprout grey hairs, my feet had turned freaky in size.

Obviously, since turning forty, something has caused either the front of my feet to spread or my heels to shrink, or probably both. Of course, I blame it on hormones and aging. I now know where the collagen that used to be on my face ended up: in my toe boxes. And the baby spare tire I now sport? You guessed it, probably from my heels.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Ever since about 39 years of age, my hair has been coming out in greater numbers every day it seems. I know I shouldn’t preoccupy myself with it for many reasons. The most important being that my older sister is about to lose ALL her hair temporarily, thanks to the ravages of chemotherapy to treat breast cancer.

Though I must admit it does still bother me and sometimes, when brushing or washing my hair, it seems as though there is so much hair in my hands that I fear looking in the mirror. My deepest fear is that I will look into the mirror one day and see only 6 or 7 hairs left on my head.

I know the chances of this actually happening are very low, but still, I do continue to be alarmed by the accelerated hair loss. I have visions (or nightmares) of Kojak staring back out at me from my mirror. I also worry that my mother’s prediction that we children would end up “bald, fat, and toothless” might indeed come true (I thought I only had to contend with the battle of the bulge since I go to the dentist regularly).

As I mentioned, my sister’s impending hair loss puts my paranoia in perspective. At any moment, her hair is due to fall out, and not just on her head. As much as I hate having to get my eyebrows “done” every four weeks, at least I have eyebrow to get “done.” And even though I shudder at the thought of the pre-vacation or summer bikini wax, I definitely want it “all” if it has to be “all or nothing.” I don’t think we realize how much our own self-image is tied up with our hair until we are faced with losing it.

For her part, my sister says she is not too worried about the hair loss and is planning on just putting on a hat or a scarf and not going the wig route. She has had her hair cut shorter in anticipation of the big fall out. On the bright side, she is happy not to have to shave her legs. This is the one obvious benefit from chemotherapy during the summer season.
So, I am going to appreciate my hair, all of it. That includes the stuff that keeps falling on the ground and making my bathroom look like the floor of a hair salon after a cursory sweep. After all, at least I have hair to pick up after.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Twisted Sister

By some freak of nature, I actually found myself reading the Automobiles section of the New York Times yesterday. What caught my eye was a review of the 2009 Honda Pilot. It was a life affirming moment for me when the reviewer relayed that “Eight people will not be happy in the Pilot unless three of them are adolescents willing to endure prolonged flank-to-flank contact.” (New York Times, Sunday, June 8, 2008).

Me and my flank are still recovering and unraveling from a recent drive from Connecticut to New Jersey where I had the misfortune of sitting in the third row with my five year old nephew in his car seat to my left and my ten year old son to my right. It was obvious to me after a few minutes, exactly why my brother-in-law had insisted I switch seats with him after only 3 seconds in the back row.

Wedged in between the two boys, it became very apparent that the middle seat was meant for an anorexic young child. The part of the seat belt that the buckle goes into (sorry, don’t know the technical term as I am not a regular reader of the Automobile section of the paper) was digging into my right hip and causing instantaneous nerve damage. Meanwhile my knees were parallel to my breasts (and no, not because my breasts had dropped down to my knees, I am not there…yet) causing what felt like hip displaysia. After a while, I realized I could no longer feel either butt cheek (I believe that is the technical term).

Not being one to suffer in silence, I complained vociferously to the other seven passengers. I insisted I was probably on my way to permanent health problems, a walker or a cane, months of physical therapy, or worse. I also targeted my eleven year old daughter and kept telling her she should have made the sacrifice and sat back there seeing as how I had sacrificed for her for 20 hours of labor and then had a c-section.

Of course, the discomfort was compounded by the fact that we were driving through a rainstorm the whole time which caused traffic to slow down to a crawl. Add to that the usual kind of kiddy banter between four children ranging in age from three to eleven (“x called me a boogerpicker”, “let’s sing the diarrhea song”, etc.) and I was having a flashback to the time we took them all to see the holiday lights and I was sure that I was trapped in Jingle Hell.

As we got within range of our destination in New Jersey I started moaning that because I had lost all feeling in my legs and because my knees were now glued to my ears someone would have to call the Fire Department. I was sure that they would need to use the “Jaws of Life” to extract me from the vehicle. I am proud to say that in the end, I was able to hobble out of the vehicle (very ungracefully, if I must say so) myself.

My constant whining at my own discomfort did achieve one thing. It guilted my twin sister into taking a seat in the third row (though she wisely did not take that middle seat with the integrated seat belt housing unit/cattle prod device) while I sat in the second row appreciating the return of sensation to my bottom. Now we can both go to physical therapy together.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Do I Look Fat In This?

I was trying on a pair of my summer pants from last season and, desperate for an opinion, I asked my ten year old son if I looked fat in the pants? “Yes” he said without hesitation. And my reply was “oh come on, I mean really?”

Why do we ask the eternal question, “Do I look fat in this?” We ask it as if we were otherwise svelte and swimsuit model material until we put on that skirt, that dress or those pants.

If I asked myself honestly the opinion I was seeking, I guess I would have to reword the question to something more along the lines of “Does the cottage cheese on my thighs show through this? Or perhaps, “Do these Bermuda shorts look like riding pants when I wear them?”

Instead, I stick with the tried and true “Do I look fat in this?” This is the question that strikes fear in every man’s heart. It is the proverbial damned if I do damned if I don’t question for the guys. If they say yes, well, you can pretty much guess the rest. But, if they say no out of kindness, weakness or an effort to get their wives or girlfriends to step out of the way of the ballgame on TV, it will invariably come back to haunt them. They will be confronted sooner and not later with the fact that “You told me I didn’t look fat in this!” This is shortly after the realization sets in on the woman’s part that in fact she doesn’t just look fat in it, but she is fat in it.

Let’s face it, outfits aren’t like appearing on TV, they don’t “make you look fat.” They don’t add ten pounds just by putting them on. It is what it is and what it is, unfortunately, is fat.

Maybe we should turn the question around and start asking it in a more positive way. “Does this outfit successfully conceal my spare tire?” “Can you still tell I am a pear shape in this?” Or maybe we should stop buying outfits that will look great when we lose 5 pounds, even if they are on sale and looked really good on the model in the catalogue.

Until then, I am going with my new question, adapted from my days of living in the UK, combined with my legal education, “Does this suit me? A yes or no answer only please!”
When the answer is no, I will just have to accept the fact that much to my dismay I don’t suffer from a distorted body image and what I already suspected is true. I am fat in it.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Bikram Yoga

Okay, I will admit it. I am becoming a Bikram yoga junkie. I started going in January. Now, most people want no part of this form of yoga when they find out it is done in a room that is heated to 105 degrees. I on the other hand, was eager to sign on since I am almost always cold.

So I tried a few classes and, yes it was hot, even for me. At first it was something to get through, especially without getting nauseous. Then, on about my third or forth class, I really started enjoying it, and not just when it was over. I had done many other forms of yoga, but this was the first where I felt so energized afterwards. Other classes were energizing during the class to some extent, but after the relaxation portion, all I wanted to do was go to bed.

I find myself going regularly, about 2 or 3 times a week now and have definitely noticed improvements in my flexibility and energy level. I even read Bikram’s book (my friend who introduced me to Bikram yoga also lent me the book).

As I read the book and learned of all of the health benefits of each pose, I must admit, I grew more eager to start a regular practice. The skeptical side of me, however, keeps telling me to do it because I enjoy it, not because of any supposed health benefits.

When not espousing the health benefits of his yoga and putting down Western doctors, Bikram talks throughout his book about how he learned yoga through his guru. The whole long term health benefits part of the book kind of flew out the window for me when I read the part of the book where he talks about how his guru knew it was his time to die and went off to die, wait for it: at age 67! 67? Long term health benefits of Bikram yoga? I can’t help thinking that his editor must have been semiconscious when reviewing the book.

So I plod on, trying to do “toe stand” and other acrobatic feats in the 105 degree room. I figure I will enjoy myself and get energy. If I am lucky, I will even live past 67!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Paranoid People Against Plastic Unite!

Hello All,

As some of you may know, my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year. This is the first instance of any kind of cancer in my family (well except my grandfather developed colon cancer in his eighties...). Anyway, the scare of my sister's diagnosis has brought my recessive paranoia gene out of hiding.

I chucked out all my plastic containers, haven't had a pedicure since her diagnosis and think two and three times about what I put in and on my body. As those who know me will vouch, I have always been a kind of a health nut, but I have definitelybecome obssessive (see my earlier blog, Look Out for Flying Plastic).

I wanted to share with you some great information that Leslie at my gym shared with me. It is a website called and it is part of the Environmental Working Group. It is a fascinating website and rates all kinds of personal products for potentially dangerous chemicals, etc.

Also a tip that my friend Diane (also from the gym, where I seem to excercise my mouth as much as the rest of me!), is Anchor Hocking glass food storage containers. These have glass lids too! So no need to worry about heating up that plastic in the microwave (or dishwasher!)

Finally, a great article on general tips for safe food storage can be found at:,7518,s-5-83-1110,00.html

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Plentiful Pantyliners

It used to be my period came like clockwork due to the pill I was on. Now, however, I have had to switch birth control methods and my period comes when it likes and overstays its welcome like a rude houseguest. Its unpredictability has caused me to become a major player in the pantyliner market. While before I could get away with a few boxes of pantyliners a year and not give the whole pantyliner purchase much thought, now with its “imminency” due any time at all, I take the purchasing activity much more seriously.

So I sauntered down the aisle at my local drugstore and am overwhelmed at my pantyliner choices. It seems as though the pantyliners have been quietly multiplying. Now you can get ones with scent or with out, for wedgie underwares or the traditional granny underwear models. You can get them “on the go” or, I guess, the alternative would be “within 3 feet of the toilet?” Most bewildering to me though seems to be the newest addition to this market-the “body shape” pantyliner. Body shape? Well now, I ask myself, perplexed,why would I want anything else? What exactly have I been using up until now? Why are non-body shape pantyliners still on the market?

Since I decided that I definitely wanted the “body shaped” ones, after about 10 minutes, I narrowed down half of my choices. I then made the gut wrenching decision that I would take the “on the go” ones. I had a moment of being verklempt over this choice as it seems to be the non-global warming choice with its excess packaging. Each individual pantyliner is wrapped up in its own little wrapper, like a little present. Still though, if you have to carry them in your handbag (or at least mine, where small children have been known to disappear), they would get pretty nasty without that pink covering

Finally, fifteen minutes later, I emerged from the feminine care aisle victorious, the theme song from “Chariots of Fire” playing in my mind. I was a woman “on the go” once again, armed with my body shaped pantyliners, I was ready to conquer the world.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Don't You Frette My Dear

I just got through doing my ironing, so I am good for another 6 months before I attack the pile of linens. I have only myself to blame for being a slave to my iron now. You see, I wised up several years ago and stopped buying anything that required ironing in terms of my wardrobe. It was just reality setting in. If it needed to be ironed in order to wear it, I knew it would mean I just wouldn’t wear it. So I stopped buying it.

Unfortunately, my utilitarian logic where ironing was concerned went right out the window when I fell in love with fine linens, especially linen napkins, tea towels, table cloths and unfortunately, expensive linen sheets.

If right about now you are question what the big deal is with respect to linen sheets, it is obvious to me you do not own any. You see, in a moment of what I now like to remember as linen-induced lunacy, I decided to spoil myself and treat myself to Frette linen sheets for my birthday with money that my in-laws had given me.

I researched Frette linen sheets extensively. I had seen them in my home type magazines and in fine hotels. I was taken in by the fact that one of the ads said that they were favored by the British royal family. Being an anglophile and a linen lover, I was sold.

Well, I never did stop to thing about the fact that the royal family can favor these sheets because they have an army of domestic servants to iron the darn things out. The fact that I would become a slave to these linen sheets never crossed my mind at all. Who ever heard of ironing sheets? Well, the rest of the world and me, until I washed the Frette sheets upon arrival. My one year of college Italian was long ago, but I would wager a bet that ‘Frette’ actually means ‘sucker’ in Italian.

Let me tell you, those sheets get more wrinkled than my forehead when I am trying to figure out how to download a photo from my cell phone to my computer. I am stuck. I have forked over LOTS of money for these sheets, so I need to get my money’s worth, but that means having to iron the darn things so they don’t look like wrinkled rags on my bed. I grudgingly iron them so I can use them. However, I can tell you, I don’t use them often.

In another episode of linen-induced lunacy (yes, it is unfortunately chronic and most dangerous at the acute phase when there is imminent danger of financial ruin) I purchased Yves Delormes linen sheets. I must say, the French have it all over the Italians when it comes to fine linen sheets. Those Italian Frette sheets are what I would consider one ply to Yves Delormes two ply sheets. Sure, I have to iron the Yves Delormes pillow cases, but there it ends. I can get away with just putting the other sheets on the bed. Not so with the Frette linens. Every piece looks like a wrinkled rag unless it is laboriously ironed until the person doing the ironing has broken out into a steamy sweat.

Come to think of it, that is probably why the British royal family favors the Frette linens. Just by having them on their beds they are effectively saying to the world that they have a palace full of servants engaged full time in ironing the heck out of those wrinkled sheets.
Just by having them on my bed, on the other hand, I am telling the world that I am a sucker, pathetically trying to indulge my linen-induced lunacy and to imitate the British royal family when everyone knows that I am the serf that has become a slave to those sheets.

Monday, June 2, 2008

The Box Stops Here

My husband and I are engaged in a never ending battle. Not for each other’s hearts or minds or anything significant like that. Rather, it’s what I call the Battle of the Box. You see, he likes to hoard any cardboard boxes that cross over our property line for any reason. There is no good rationale, such as an oncoming cardboard shortage or something logical like the fact that we were preparing to move to another house. His theory is that if we ever need a box to ship something in, we will have the perfect size box readily at our disposal.

Being rational, I cannot see the logic in this. I point out that he ships things maybe twice a year, max. I also point out the other obvious rejoinder, that we get an average of two boxes delivered to our house every week thanks to his nocturnal visits to and similar sites. Thus, if we do need a box, it is likely that we will have just gotten one.

So, because this is a war and because diplomacy has not worked on either side, we’ve both quietly engaged in our own forms of guerilla warfare. For his part he squirrels away his boxes in less and less likely spots every week. For my part, I spend a portion of Thursday, the eve of garbage day, on a search and recovery operation. Were you to pass by my house in the afternoon, you might just see me emerge from the garage or the house, with a victorious grin on my face and one or more cardboard boxes in my hand, on my way to the recycling bin, like a pilgrim headed to Mecca.

I have also begun strategic intervention maneuvers. These involve opening boxes immediately after delivery and before he comes home from work, and recycling the box before it ever gets into his hands!

Unfortunately, he does know the location of my blog, so I can expect him to step up his military action plan, but I am prepared, bring it on baby, just don’t box me in.