We Really Need to get out More

I’ve never been one to go out and wander the shopping malls, even before moving to the Pacific Northwest. Now I venture out even less, not being very familiar with the area. Plus, traffic sucks, no matter what time of day or day of the week. Amazon is my new best friend for almost everything. I still go to the grocery store, but I don’t just go out for a day of shopping. Sad, huh?

Today I needed to go to a certain store for some Christmas shopping, can’t say where because it’s Christmas, but I will say it is in a mall. Mitch and I drove over to the closest mall and through google on my phone, I located the approximate location of the specific store, but not being very familiar with the layout of the mall, we weren’t sure where to park. We drove around looking for a likely entrance. Being creatures of habit, we parked by one of the Macy’s entrances and walked into the store.

We wandered through Macy’s looking for the exit out into the mall, but couldn’t find any exit. We walked the entire circumference of the store and there was no exit. We didn’t dare ask for help and look like total morons, so we kept walking and looking in every corner for a way out. We finally decided to take the escalator down a floor in hopes of a way out into the mall on that level. One floor down and we started circling the lower level, reading the signs hanging from the ceiling and finally found the sign that said, “exit to mall”.

I was never so glad to leave a store in my life. I thought for sure, we had been teleported to the “Bermuda Triangle” of Shopping Malls. Once out in the mall, we started walking toward the middle of the mall, (we hoped). At one point, Mitch said he was ready to read the mall store finder to see where we needed to go. And I answered, “Sure, but I haven’t seen one of those signs, yet either.” We turned to the left for fun and wonder of wonders, the store we were in search of was up ahead on the left.

We laughed so hard at ourselves, and decided that we really do need to get out more.

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State of Grace

The description, “She walks with fluid soft grace, she almost floats” has been used to describe me NEVER! You will never hear the words fluid soft grace, when someone talks about me. I have an uncanny ability trip over thin air, lose my balance when doing the simple task of standing or fall up or down stairs. I’m quite an accomplished professional faller. I also find new ways to either cut myself on the most mundane object. Case in point, I sliced open my knuckle on a piece of aluminum foil the other day. Who gets a paper cut from aluminum foil, me that’s who.

I can’t blame this ability on getting older or some strange side effect from the gravitation pull of a full moon. I’ve been this graceless from childhood and the phase of the moon has no effect on me. My mother even sent me to Charm School when I was budding teenager. I learned how to set a proper table, to sit with my ankles crossed and how to stand with a book on my head. And do you know what happened at the graduation ceremony, I tripped walking across the stage to pick up my diploma. Poor mom, couldn’t get a refund.

I have fallen off the side of the road and face planted in the ditch without any help from the dogs. I’ve crashed and burned falling down a hill carrying a four-foot step ladder. I burn my hands on oven racks almost weekly. (Hum, maybe I should quit cooking) And as I mentioned above, I have lacerated myself with aluminum foil, paper, knives and forks.

Last night I reached a new level of clumsiness. I was cleaning the huge mirror in our bathroom and couldn’t reach the top of the mirror standing in front of the vanity. I know what you’re thinking, I climbed up on the vanity then fell off. You would be wrong, not that I didn’t consider it. Nope, I went and got the small rickety wooden step ladder from our closet, so I could reach the top without falling off the vanity. I set the step ladder up and climbed up to reach the top section on the left side of the mirror. But because the mirror spans the length of the room, I had to move the step ladder to the other side so that I could clean the top right hand side of the mirror. As I set the step ladder down, I placed one leg on the toe of my right shoe, then proceeded to climb up on the step ladder.

Yes, I knew I set the ladder on my shoe and still stepped up on the ladder, I don’t know why I continued, but I did. Needless to say, I crushed one toe so badly it bled in my sock. I hopped off the ladder cursing and hopping around the bedroom. I know what you’re thinking, “What kind of moron would put a ladder on her foot and then step on it?” I don’t have a good answer for you, except I think I move faster than my brain. That sounds as good of an explanation as any, or I’m just a moron. That would work too.

So now my options are I can only use ladders when supervised by an adult or hire a mirror cleaner.

Note to Self – Don’t Do This Ever Again

We moved here almost two years ago, but for all intent and purposes we don’t have a clue how to get around well in areas we don’t travel to regularly. Case in point, last fall one of my son’s and his family came out for a visit. We planned a day trip to go see the Space Needle and Pike Place Market. We not so brightly parked at the Space Needle went up to the top, then walked across the street to eat lunch. Consulting my trusty cell phone, the distance from the Space Needle to Pike Place Market didn’t look that far. After a consultation among four adults that didn’t have a clue how to get around well in downtown Seattle, we headed off on foot.

The walk to Pike Place Market wasn’t so bad, it was an all downhill mile long walk. The walk back to the car was a different story, a mile long walk uphill, did I mention with two children under six? It wasn’t until about a month later, I found out there was a monorail that goes from the Space Needle to the Pike Place Market area. I’m surprised my son still speaks to me.

We have more family coming to visit soon and we want to avoid a repeat of that fiasco, so we decided to check out the light rail system from the airport to downtown Seattle. This weekend is hosting the Spring Flower and Garden Show at the Washington State Convention Center and we thought this would be the perfect opportunity to check out the rail system and how it works. We wanted to see how hard it would be to get to Pike Place Market, the Space Needle, the aquarium then back home and if will be worth the effort.

Since Mitch works at the airport and has access to free employee parking, we thought that would be a perfect parking place. The only hitch is that only badged airport employees can ride the bus to the airport. That meant Mitch would have to drop me off at transit station stop, go park the car, ride the bus to the airport, then walk to the transit stop to meet me. Mitch pulled up to the curb and I jumped out of the car. No sooner had I pulled my left foot out of the car to step up on the curb, did a police siren go off. Right behind us was a transit police officer, and I thought what did we do? I stepped back and Mitch waved me off so I walked farther away out of earshot so I couldn’t hear what was said.

As I walked up the stairs to the train, I kept watch hoping the police officer would just give him a warning, but it didn’t look that way. Less than five minutes went by, the officer walked back to our car and handed Mitch a piece of paper. I was pretty sure, it wasn’t a coupon for Starbucks.

Yes sir, it was a ticket. It was a ticket for violating the HOV lane. The second I stepped fully out of the car, Mitch was violating the HOV ordinance, can you believe it? If I’d just stayed in the car, we would have been golden, but for the split-second I was out of the car and before Mitch pulled away from the curb, we broke the HOV law. And now evidently it is not cheap to break the HOV law, one hundred thirty-six dollars for a split second. Talk about an expensive day trip.

Note to self – find another drop off spot.

Don’t Try This at Home

Many years ago, Mitch gave me a hand-me-down parka that someone at his work had out grown. It is a long knee length winter parka with a zip in liner, and is quite warm. It is water proof with a hood and lots of pockets, and reflector strips to be seen in the dark, making it perfect for walking Orso in the dark and hiking when it’s cold. I’m not sure how old it is, but I can say that I have gotten at least ten or more years of wear out of it.

The down side to the parka is that it has one of those double zippers on it, you know the ones I’m talking about. The ones that you can zip up closed and at the bottom of the hem, you can zip up toward the collar to unzip to an open jacket. I have always hated that part of the parka, because the double zipper is always harder to catch at the bottom, making it more difficult to zip up. Oh, I know the theory behind it, to be able to unzip the coat to get to a pocket or to go pee without removing the coat, but I would just wait until I was somewhere warm to heed the call of nature.

Over the years, the zipper has gotten weaker, making it harder to get shoved down into the second zipper sometimes. Usually that happens when I’m in a hurry or Orso is impatient, making it take longer to get outfitted and out the door. This morning everything was going just fine, I put on my sweatshirt and hat, then put on the parka and zipped it up, donned my gloves and hooked up Orso to his harness and off we went on our pre-dawn walk.

The walk was going along smoothly when I started feeling a chill on my thighs and stomach. I looked down and saw that my parka was wide open flapping in the breeze. Upon closer inspection, I saw that the zipper on the bottom had let go and my parka was unzipping itself from the bottom up. I tried to reconnect the zipper and zip it up to meet the top zipper but that didn’t work. Then I tried to unzip the top zipper to meet the bottom of the zipper where it had stopped at open, but that didn’t work either. So, in an act of desperation, I zipped the top zipper back up all the way and pulled the two sides of my parka together in one hand to try and keep it closed until I could get back home.

When I got back home, I struggled with the zipper trying to get the upper zipper unzipped far enough to force the lower zipper down. That didn’t work either, I had only gotten the upper zipper unzipped down about three inches from the top and the lower zipper had unzipped itself up the rest of the way to meet the upper zipper.

I stood there thinking about how I was going to the parka off. Panic was starting to set in. I had to get it off and get in the shower to get ready for work. I couldn’t just stand there all day in a parka that was more unzipped than zipped but wouldn’t come off. Have you ever tried to pull a knee length parka off over your head with an opening of about five inches and not rip off your nose? It’s not easy let me tell you.

Not Your Ordinary Funeral

Funerals are for the living; the dead don’t care because they are dead. Funerals are there to bring closure to the family and friends. For me the whole process of the funeral, from notifying the funeral home, buying the casket or urn and arranging the services at the funeral home and graveside, is long and tedious and does nothing to aid in the grieving and healing process. I also must admit I am bitter from past experiences with my mother and father’s funerals. So my opinions are quite biased and slanted.

My father in-law died last week, necessitating a trip to Texas for his funeral. This was a trip neither of us wanted to make, we had been pretty much estranged from his family for years. There was tension and hard feelings over the years with his father. Don’t get me wrong, Mitch loved his father, he just couldn’t be around him for any period time without the past being dredged up. Lets’ suffice it to say, Mitch had a misspent youth, part of his charm.

We made hurried travel arrangements, taking Orso to a dog spa and me reserving the hotel room. I found one close to the airport and an hour away from the funeral home, thus keeping his exposure to his family limited and maybe saving me bail money. Our flight got in Austin at midnight and after picking up the rental car we got to the hotel around one in the morning. We ended up getting about four hours sleep before heading off through the Texas hill country to the funeral home.

We parked the car and slowly walked into the funeral home, dreading the first salvo of family comments, but everyone was on their best behavior. We met the pastor that was going to preside over the service, a nice young man who obviously didn’t know my father in-law. We were asked if we wanted to go look at my father in-law, (a ghoulish tradition, in my opinion), something I have never been able to do. I waited outside until Mitch and gone in to see him, maybe to make sure he was dead and not just an elaborate ruse to get Mitch to come for a visit. I’m pretty sure he probably poked him to convince himself his father was really dead.

After the casket was closed we were ushered in as the service started. The pastor began his sermon with a short eulogy about his father, which was the obituary, chapter and verse printed on the memorial, then said we would listen to a song. I was expecting a hymn, but no not a hymn, a song by Neil Diamond, which the pastor said was my father in-law’s favorite singer. Who knew? I looked over at Mitch, who had this look of utter disbelief on his face. I turned my head and looked at the pastor who was sitting there with his eyes closed and head bobbing up and down rocking out to Neil Diamond. It was hard to not laugh out loud.

After the song ended, the pastor started speaking again, saying some prayer. Since I am not religious I couldn’t name one prayer from another. After the prayer, he spoke for a few minutes then asked if anyone had anything to say or share a memory about my father in-law. A man stood up and related a story about the time my father in-law spent on a mine sweeper during World War II relating a story about a man dying during a battle and how interesting the story was to him. I thought that was an odd story to tell and almost stood up myself to relate a memory of my first hunting trip with him, but didn’t.

I would have told about opening day of pheasant hunting in Western Kansas. That for three hundred and sixty-four days, cars drive up and down the country roads with people stopping along the side of the road opening and closing car doors, but on the three hundred and sixty-fifth day of the year, the opening day of pheasant hunting season, a closed-door meant one thing, Pheasant Hunters! So while we were getting our guns out of the truck walking around, the dogs going nuts in the back of the truck, the one thing we always heard from him was, “Don’t slam the doors, it will scare off the birds.” Oh please. I figured that story would not be well received so I kept my mouth shut.

After the memory sharing, another Neil Diamond song and a rocking out pastor. This was getting entertaining. The pastor closed the funeral with a traditional song, “Amazing Grace.” Then came the announcement that there would be a last viewing of the deceased. I almost tripped over Mitch trying to get out of the row and out of the room faster than they could open the casket.

After everyone walked by the casket again for a final viewing, we got in the rental car for the drive to the cemetery. Another surprise, we had a police escort (not unusual) but this one had both city police and county sheriffs as escorts. One in the front, one in the back and one would race up the road to the intersections and stop all traffic. Oncoming drivers would pull over and wait patiently for us to pass. Very touching. I chalked it up to small town people.

As we pulled up to the burial spot there were eleven men in military uniforms waiting for us. There was a flag draped over the casket and chairs facing it. We sat down and the pastor said a few words then turned it over to the Honor Guard that was waiting. Two men walked up to either end of the casket and picked up each end of the flag and stopped, waiting. Another man stood in the middle of the casket to help hold the flag. A fourth man walked up to the podium and spoke in the microphone explaining the meaning of the flag and the eighteen-gun salute. The men folded the flag until it was a long narrow strip, then the man at the podium started explaining what each fold meant. At the last fold, the second man tucked the end of the flag into the folds. Then the six men fired three shots each, and one of the men picked up three spent shells and brought them to the men holding the flag. One of the men placed each shell in the flag and explained what each shell meant, Duty, Honor, Country. The speaker at the podium walked over saluted the man holding the flag and took it from him. He then walked over to my mother in-law, saluted her and presented her the flag. Then one of the men played Taps on his bugle and sounded so soulful and sad. It was all very special and something I had never seen before.

So far so good, everyone was on their best behavior, the day was sunny and hot and just as I was thinking we were in the clear, one of Mitch’s cousins called over to me to warn me that I was standing on a fire ant mound. Super, and I was wearing open toe sandals. Fire ant stings burn like an acid burn and the only thing that works to remove the burn is to pour bleach on the stings.

Ah the hill country in Texas, I am so glad we live in the Pacific Northwest.

He’s Going to be the Death of Me

If you find me dead alongside the road sometime it will be more than likely because of Orso. I walk him every day at least three times a day, the first at four am, and almost always it is in the dark. We also have more than our fair share of rabbits out and about along our route and Orso just has to lunge and bark at them in the dark. I try to be very vigilant on our walks watching out for any movement and Orso and his demeanor. If his ears are up and he gets stiff I know something is close by. I do this to avoid becoming a boat anchor or at the very least avoiding rotator cuff surgery.

This morning though I was a bit distracted and not fully on high alert when Orso decided to lunge and bark at something on the side of the road. He thought it was a small rabbit and was determined to scare it off. But it wouldn’t budge, just sitting on the side of the road daring him to cross the street and get closer. As we closed the distance, I saw that it was a rock, a round rock about four inches and not a rabbit. Dumb dog almost dragged me across the road to get to A Rock.

I should have taken that as a sign of what the rest of the walk would be like, but I didn’t. I just kept plodding along. The farthest point we walk to, is down a very dark section of road with no street lights and all of the homes on one side of the road are dark because all the sane people are sound asleep and nothing but dense woods on the other side of the road. As we turned around to head back home, Orso decided it was time to take his morning poop. I waited patiently for him to finish then fished out a poop bag and my flashlight so I could find it and not leave any behind.

After I picked his “elephant dump” and started tying a knot on the end of the bag, I stepped right in some other dog’s poop. Some thoughtless moron left his little dog’s poop on the side of the road and I stepped right in it. I should have shined my flashlight around the area before I took a step. I stood there cursing all little dogs and their owners, because at that moment I hated them all, (even though I know it’s not the dog’s fault, I grouped them all together). That was when Orso either heard or saw something moving in the woods and gave way to barking and lunging at the unseen phantom.

There I was standing on the side of the road trying to get the end of the poop bag tied off and wipe my shoe in the meager amount of grass and Orso was trying to get to some unseen monster in the woods. I’m lucky I only got poop on my shoe and not road rash from being dragged across the road.

The day is off to a bang, I can’t wait until our mid-morning walk and more opportunities to use my Aflac policy.

Another Myth Busted!

We’ve all heard them, the statement of “facts” handed down for ages that turn out to be not true at all. Like the one, “If you swallow chewing gum, it will stay in your stomach for seven years.” Well it won’t, it will pass through looking pretty much like it did going down. Or the myth, “Your hair and fingernails will continue to grow after death.” They don’t, but because your skin starts to shrink, it looks like your hair is growing longer.

Well I have a new myth to bust. Mine is much more relevant than chewing gum in your stomach or hair growing on a dead body. I have through research and “clinical” trials debunked a myth that has plagued women for decades. And I want everyone to be forewarned so as not to get fleeced by this long standing myth.

First off, let preface this by saying I have curly hair. Not only do I have naturally curly hair, I have very thick coarse naturally curly hair. If I were to place one of my hairs next to one of Mitch’s hairs, mine would look like a redwood tree next to a piece of silk. So when I say I have a lot of hair, it is an understatement. In order to have hair that looks somewhat presentable, I wash it every day. Because when I get up in the morning after rolling around in bed all night, I wake up with clown hair. I am not exaggerating one little bit when I say my hair is pretty scary to look at when I jump out of bed. It is sticking out in all different directions with curls going up, down and straight out in a wildly uncontrolled mess and it is not brush-able.

When my children were just three weeks old, they decided it was best to sleep through the night because I was so scary in the middle of the night. Orso won’t get up and ask to go outside in the middle of the night because he has seen what I look like after tossing and turning in bed. Suffice it to say, that thick curly hair does not sleep well.

The woman who cuts my hair told me to buy a satin pillowcase, because it would keep my curls under control and I would wake up with this beautiful head of lovely naturally curly hair with every hair still in place. Of course she neglected to say that I had to have every hair in place to start with. I am the poster child of the “messy hair” look and I wear it well. Anyway, I was willing and eager to try something, anything that might make my clown hair look less clownish.

I found and bought a single satin pillowcase, red of course. My choices were red, zebra print or leopard print so I bought the red pillowcase. I thought that I would just buy one and see how it works and if it did, then I would go back and get more. Well another myth bites the dust. I slept on it and woke up with clown hair. Nothing different than any other day, hair sticking out in all different directions, pretty scary for any unsuspecting soul out walking at four in the morning.

Maybe satin pillowcases only work on straight hair.

One of Those Days

We all have them; you know those days where you are better off staying in bed. Some of us have multiple days in a row where everything you touch goes way wrong. And then there is me. When I have one of those days or multiple days that go bad, it usually means I have maimed myself in some sort of fashion, and holding true to history, I’ve done it again.

Yesterday, I was sharpening my boning knife on the sharpening stone using deliberate circles like my dad taught me. I held the knife at about a forty-five-degree angle to the stone going in a counter-clockwise motion. Flipping the knife over I repeated the process only going in a clockwise motion, when the knife slipped and sliced into my right thumb. The good news is that I got the knife good and sharp. The bad news is that I bled all over the kitchen.

Today I put a bottom round roast in the crockpot to cook all day for dinner. The roast was so tender by the time dinner rolled around that it was falling apart in the crockpot as I was dishing it up to put it on the platter. I used a large fork and spatula to try and get it out of the crockpot when it broke apart, with part of the meat plopping back into the crockpot and splashing a small piece of cooked hot onion to wrap around my little finger and another piece of onion stuck to the left side of my hand below the thumb I tried to amputate yesterday.

I ran to the sink and turned on the cold water, pulling the onion off of my finger and let the words fly. Who would think a hot cooked onion would stick like glue and burn the daylights out of you. I actually have blisters on my little finger and a long red streak on the other side of my hand. I thought that using the crockpot would make my life easier not help me meet my deductible for the year.

Needless to say, I am not looking forward to tomorrow.

Undo

I wish I had an undo option. If I had an indo button, I could fix my stupid mistakes with a simple push of the undo button. Wouldn’t that be something special, being able to hit the undo button? Think of the possibilities. Think back through your life and all the times you said to yourself, “I wish I hadn’t done that, said that or eaten that. With an undo button you could have a second chance at getting it right. I don’t think that every mistake or misspoken word should be undoable, just the really big ones.

You have the chance to undo the harsh words you spoke to your husband or wife or child just because you were tired or frustrated from work. You could undo the night at the bar where you drank too much and woke up with someone you’ve never seen before. Or you could undo eating the super large slice of cheesecake before it ended up on your hips. There are so many undo’s waiting out there.

For me I would have been able to undo some of my biggest blunders in life. Like the time I thought a perm would be a good thing. Yeah right, a perm on a woman with naturally curly hair. Not a really bright idea. I looked like a thirty something woman with a very tight afro. I had almost shoulder length hair that was curled so tight I looked like I stuck my finger in a light socket. It took almost six months for the permed hair to grow out enough to be all cut off.

Or maybe the time I got in a hurry driving out of the airport and instead of being patient and letting the rental car bus get in front of me I decided to hit the gas in my firebird. A really bad idea since my tires were well worn and the road was wet. I lost traction and started to fishtail. I overcorrected and spun out right in front of the rental car bus and slid across the road tearing up two tires and two wheels. To add to my embarrassment the first one to stop to check on us was a deputy director of the aviation department. Yes sir, definitely an undo.

As a teenager growing up I did lots of really dumb things. Some I needed to do to learn and grow from but some I would undo. I started smoking cigarettes when I thirteen and didn’t quit until I was in my thirties – definitely an undo. I didn’t apply myself in school like I should have or go to college. I would definitely undo that, slap myself upside the head and make me buckle down and get my degree. I was smart enough, just didn’t push myself like I should have. I should have listened to my parents better, but that goes with each generation. My parents didn’t listen to their parents and my children didn’t listen to me, just wait until their children get older, that is something I wouldn’t change even if I could. Everyone should have some regrets and insights from their flubs. But some would be awesome if we could wipe them out and start over.

A Challenge

I have a challenge for you. This is a toughie even though it shouldn’t be. Go stand in front of a mirror and look at yourself. Really look at yourself, from top to bottom and bottom to top, give yourself a really close look. Look deeply at every body part then look at the whole package, all put together. Now find things you love about yourself.

I did that this morning as I was finishing up putting on my makeup. I looked at the whole package, from my curly unruly hair to my badly done self-pedicure and at first glance I wasn’t particularly pleased with what I saw. Curly hair that always looks like I just got out of a convertible on a cross country road trip. Reconstructed breasts from a bilateral mastectomy complete with tattooed nipples, and contrary to the common misconception, it’s not a boob job. A stomach that is no longer taut, legs that are too short and thighs that are too big. Nothing grotesque but no super model by any figment of the wildest imagination.

Then I looked again and really looked at myself. I decided that my curly unruly hair fits me quite nicely as I am unruly and brash. I looked at my eyes and the odd color of blue that they are is quite striking. My gaze traveled down to the rest of my anatomy and decided that I don’t care that my reconstructed breasts are not perfect but at least I’m alive and cancer free. My legs are short and heavier than I would like but I can walk and get around just fine.

Then I turned inward and looked at my soul and spirit. I found a person that doesn’t take life too seriously. I am as irreverent about life as how curly my hair is. I will almost always make a wisecrack about anything sad or happy. We’re not here long enough to get too serious. I am basically an honest person and will protect my family and friends to the death. I am passionate about living the rest of my life doing things that make me happy and whole. All in all not a bad person, fairly normal.

Now it’s your turn, what do you love about yourself? The list should be long, because there is so much more to a person that what looks back at you in the mirror. Your smile, the way you tilt your head to one side or the really tight hugs you give to the people you love, these are the wonderful beautiful parts of you and should never ever be dismissed. These things are what make you perfect