Jan 31, 2010

Trial by Error

Things I've Learned the Hard Way
  •  Ignoring problems does not make them go away.  This is also true for toothaches.
  • Water, ice and skin do not mix.
  • Make sure the phone is hung up before you make a smartass comment about the conversation you just had.  (Don't even pretend you don't talk bad about other people.)
  • You can't please everybody.  Hell, you can't even please most people.
  • Keep both eyes open when shaving your legs.  You need the depth perception.
  • Dogs don't live nearly as long as they should.  They should live as long as we do so that we won't have to say goodbye.
  • Your advice is usally not wanted, even when it's asked for.
  • Never talk bad about somebody's ex.  They usually end up with them again and it makes your "I always thought he was a dickhead." comment hard to explain away.
  • Humility is the key to learning.

Things I Will Never Learn Even Though I Should Have By Now
  • How to bake biscuits without burning them.
  • How to not wait until the last minute to get things done.
  • Cleaning as you go makes housework easier.
  • Don't ask questions you don't want truthfully answered.
  • Opening letters with your fingers instead of a letter opener leads to paper cuts.
  • Buying perishables in bulk is not a good idea.
  • Nobody cares that I won the Adams Jr. High School Spelling Bee back in 1974.  I have the engraved dictionary to prove it....  but.... you don't really care, do you?  Sigh.

Jan 26, 2010

How'd you find me after all these years?

I got a facebook friend request from an old boyfriend. Not the grade school version. “I like you. Do you like me too? Circle One -  YES or NO.”  I’m talking first serious, adult relationship kind of boyfriend. A “move out of the house and live in an apartment together” old boyfriend.   Came out of the blue after over 25 years of no contact. All thanks to the World Wide WTF am I gonna do now?

You ever have one of those moments when you stop and take stock of your life? Our break up was one of those moments for me. I took it as an opportunity to do a complete about face on a lot of things in my life. I started taking college more seriously. I stopped all drug use. I cut ties with anybody that I thought was headed for trouble in the future, which included nearly all my friends.  I even stopped using the nickname Chris and asked people to start calling me by my full name as a reminder that I was a whole new person.

What did I do about the friend request?  It seemed rude to ignore somebody you spent four years of your life with.  He was my first love.  He and I had some good times together.  Bad times too, but I won't go into details.  Plus, I was just plain curious about how he's been and what he's been up to all these years.

I accepted his friend request.  We exchanged a few emails back and forth. He's doing fine. I'm doing fine. All very anticlimactic.   The unexpected bonus is that it's made me see my husband for what he is. The man I chose to be with for the rest of my life. It was a good decision.

Jan 22, 2010

Ohhhh, Shiny!

I suppose he is the hardest lot that wears feathers. Yes, and the cheerfulest, and the best satisfied with himself. He never arrived at what he is by any careless process, or any sudden one; he is a work of art, and "art is long"; he is the product of immemorial ages, and deep calculation; one can't make a bird like that in a day.  Mark Twain

The video above doesn't do this murder of crows justice. This is the big field next to my office. There were hundreds of huge crows in these trees. You can hear them carrying on. I've always liked crows.

Crows can recognize people and can pick them out in a crowd. Even after years. We however, can not distinguish one crow from another.  That crow is watching you!

Crows gather in large groups in the winter to sleep together in the trees. They have recently been migrating into cities and towns from more rural areas. There are a number of reasons they think this is happening. Cities are warmer and cities/towns have trees that grow very tall. Crows like very tall trees.

Crows can be taught to speak and contrary to the myth you don't have to split their tongues in order for them to do it. A crow at the zoo in Traverse City Michigan very clearly said "Hello" to me. Of course he did it when nobody else was around and wouldn't do it again when I brought them all back. Crows have a sense of humor.

Crows are one of the most intelligent birds. They not only use tools to get food, they use a combination of tools in sequence to get what they want. A study of crows found they figured out how to use a short stick to open a box to get a long stick that could be used to get some food from the bottom of a hole.

Jan 20, 2010

They have a pill for that.

I rarely take over the counter medications. During my childhood years the contents of our “medicine” cabinet were one bottle of aspirin, one bottle of hydrogen peroxide and a box of Band-aids. Everything you could possibly need to fix any ailment or injury.  Aspirin was good for headaches, cramps, colds and flus (along with some OJ).  Stomachaches were cured with a glass of Vernors (gingerale).  Nothing you could do for the mysterious ailment known as "growing pains" except to "grow up".

The neighbor kids were the exact opposite. They had a medicine for every ailment imaginable. Pepto Bismol, stool softeners, rash cremes, allergy medicine, Midol (which is basically just pink aspirin). Those kids were always whining about tummy aches and headaches and cramps. What a bunch of pansies.

My childhood has made me; 1) leery of medication in general and 2) unsympathetic to those who take medication for every little ailment, ache and pain.

I do a cost-benefit analysis every time I am thinking about taking something. Does the discomfort I am feeling warrant the side effects of the medicine? I think I'm in the minroity. They have a pill for everything these days and it’s totally acceptable to pop all these pills.  We are even encouraged to ask our doctor about them.   Do people know, or care, what they are doing to their livers?  Give your body a chance to correct things before you ask for the latest and greatest pill to fix it.  I think pills for insomnia end up causing more sleeping problems than they cure.

Now it's spilling over into medicines taken for cosmetic purposes.  Botox, nail fungus and the latest, a prescription drug to thicken your eyelashes.  We really are insane.  If you ask me this is where we're going to get the medical resources to provide health care for everybody..... live with that yellow toe nail and let people get medical care and attention that is actually needed. 

Jan 11, 2010

Giving it another go.

I've decided to join Weight Watcher's on-line.  I have a history with WW.  Back in 2002 -2003 I lost about 60 pounds doing the meetings.  I faithfully followed the program and got awesome results.

Being the self indulgent person that I am though, I didn't heed the WW advice of making the habits I had learned a way of life.  Slowly the weight has come back.  So here I am in the same boat I was in all those years ago and feeling older to boot. 

I've gone back to meetings before but if you've ever been to a WW meeting you know that they are pretty much the same. 
  • Awards are given out (star stickers like you get in grade school for every 5 pounds, a ribbon at 10 pounds, a keychain at 10% loss)  Award recipient says a few words about what's working for them.
  • A theme is introduced by the leader.
  • Leader gets people to participate in a discussion about the theme (avoid eye contact or she'll call on you).
  • Tips and pointers on how to prepare food to taste normal.
  • Meeting deteriorates into a discussion about which diet foods taste best.
  • Meeting further deteriorates into a discussion about what foods we miss the most.
  • Leader breaks the food trance by giving us a little pep talk.
  • We are released back into a world that is not, I repeat not, set up for people to eat healthy.
The last few times just haven't motivated me.  What is motivating me now is the same thing that motivated me last time.  (It's not the New Year).  It's a trip to Germany and Norway in August.  Europeans are beautiful and slim and cosmopolitan.  I accept that it will be impossible for me not to be identified as an American (the shoes give it away).  But I don't want to be identified as yet another self indulgent American.  Maybe I should just accept the the blatantly American shoe fits but I'm not going to.   I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

European Shoes - Style>Comfort
American Shoes - Comfort>Style

Jan 7, 2010

I always knew Beth was trouble

I drove behind this bumper sticker today. “Well behaved women seldom make history”. My problem with this statement is it presumes an antiquated truth as the current condition for women, at least here in the US. The very notion that the women of today should "behave" is offensive to me. It implies that women are under somebody’s watchful eye, presumably a man’s. Do you know what subjects come up most often when you google the phrase “well behaved”? Children and pets. (I'm not counting the blog called wellbehavedmormonwoman.blogspot.com, that's a whole different matter.)

I wasn’t surprised to hear this quote came from a historian. It’s from an article about Puritan funeral services by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, a graduate student at the time. She is currently a Harvard professor of early American and women’s history. It became such a popular phrase that she later wrote a book with the title “Well Behaved Women”. It’s a history book not a treatise for modern feminism.

Replace the word “make” with “made” and I have no trouble getting behind the sentiment. Women who made history before the women’s movement were breaking traditional gender stereotypes of behavior. We owe them a lot. But believing misbehavior increases our effectiveness gives credence to the nonsensical idea that we are subject to some womanly standard of behavior.

Hasn't the goal of the women’s movement been to have our ideas, opinions and achievements counted the same as any other person’s. That’s the ground we start on and we don’t let people drag us to a lower level by buying into this behavior crap. 

In my opinion a more appropriate bumper sticker for today is “Pay Me What I’m Worth”

Jan 6, 2010

Grandpuppy.... you heard me.

You're not hearing things.  I called her my grandpuppy.  Lonely, empty nester Moms take what they can get and little Miss Maize will do just fine until the real thing comes along.  The daughter and son-in-law picked her up last weekend.  She started out as the most well behaved puppy known to man but that turned out to be shell shock from leaving her Mom and siblings (I know how she feels).  The shock has worn off and she is in full puppy mode now, racing around their house chewing on things and making the cat's life hell.  I think I may knit her a doggy sweater with "Oma's little puppy" on it.

Jan 1, 2010

I don't like this.

Happy New Year.  I have mixed feelings about New Year's.   I hate the pressure to have a good time on New Year's Eve.  What if your idea of a good time is to curl up in bed with your new Stephen King novel and a nice Sarasota Slicker?  This does not tend to meet with approval.  So we watched the sad spectacle of Dick Clark counting down the last seconds of TWO THOUSAND NINE, kissed each other and toasted TWENTY TEN.

I am skeptical about New Year's resolutions.  In my experience January 1st is no different than any other date when it comes to mustering resolve.  I either have the desire and motivation to do something or I don't.   No date will magically infuse me with the necessary determination. 

Yesterday we went snorkeling.  It was my second time.  The first time was in Cozumel Mexico and it was the stuff of Corona commercials.   Beautiful, calm, blue water that was as warm as the bath I draw for myself on a cold winter night.  Leisurely flippering around in a calm lagoon.  We ended the day by sipping cervezas on the patio bar and sharing our nachos with a stray cat looking for handouts..

Yesterday was the antithesis of that experience.  We drove down to Key Largo and bought seats on a snorkeling tour boat.  It was a chilly day so we had to stuff ourselves into wet suits.  The ladies who run the shop advised that we rent them.  They suppressed a laugh when we proclaimed that we were from Michigan and 74 degree water sounded warm.  Have you ever dipped a foot in Lake Superior?  That's cold.  When they started talking about core temperatures it sounded ominous so we decided to follow their advice and were glad that we did.

The boat took us 1/2 hour out into the Atlantic ocean to a place called Grecian rocks, a coral reef built up behind a sand bar that breaks the violent waves.  The water was still wavy and choppy and there was no land in sight.  I didn't like it....  at all.  Sure the fish were amazing and the coral was beautiful but every time I pulled my head above the water I panicked. I might have been OK if I could have touched the ground but you can't do that in or near a coral reef or you kill the coral. 

I ended up swimming back to the boat and having a beer while I waited for my family to finish.  One New Year's resoluton I can keep is that I will never again snorkel in any body of water other than a calm, bathwater lagoon.