Category Archives: health

Ditch Day

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We woke on the last morning of November to gray skies, a welcome change after the endless summer we are enduring here in Tempe, Arizona.  It’s still warm, but waking up that morning to the absence of the sun made my whole world look different.  I felt like pulling a “ditch day.”  Maybe it’s because it’s finally cold enough to wear boots, and wearing my boots makes me feel sassy (even though after a few minutes on the school playground they are covered in a fine layer of dust).  Maybe it’s because I was wearing a new blouse with a bold pattern and gypsy sleeves?  Maybe it’s because Christmas is just around the corner, and I’m filled with excitement and anticipation for all of the holiday fun coming our way!

Of course, I did not call in sick to school.

Upon reaching school, I chatted with a friend on the playground.  I asked her, “Did you ever ditch school?”

“Yes,” she said.  “In fact, I was thinking this morning how great it would be just to stay in bed.  I think it’s because of the cloudy sky.”

I shook my head.  “When I ditched class in high school, it was after second hour Humanities, a class I had with my best friends, or sometimes we’d go out to lunch and decide not to go back.  It was the BEST feeling to leave school during the middle of the day and not go back.”

She smiled, and I whispered,  “Let’s ditch.  C’mon . . . let’s go!”

“It would be great to go home and get back in bed,” she mused.

“Think bigger!,” I said.” We could go to the Farm at South Mountain!”

Her eyes got big. “Oh!  A chai latte and a big breakfast!”

I nodded vigorously. “And walk all around the gardens and look in the gift shop! It would be so relaxing!”

Then the bell rang, and all the teachers and all the students went inside to our separate classrooms.

I did not ditch school.

We all love working at our school . . . but something in me that morning made me feel like doing something wild and crazy and spontaneous.  Lucky for me, working with three-year-olds makes EVERY DAY wild and crazy and spontaneous. I had a fabulous day at school, and afterwards did errands and googled Christmas gift ideas and texted with my lovely auntie in Illinois and played Words with Friends and picked up my Christmas cards from Costco.

On that note:  Why can’t we take a good picture?  Hubby and I are standing in strange poses, and there is a hand on Patrick’s shoulder that looks creepy. Is it William’s? Whose hand IS that???  I’m seriously not sure what happened there, but when I look at our photos from all the previous Thanksgivings, I laugh remembering all of the moments that lead up to the picture that is chosen for the Christmas card.

Happy December to all of you.  I hope you will keep in mind it’s okay to “ditch” every once in a while.  My December calendar is packed with social gatherings, and I’m quite certain I will “ditch” one or two of them, just to stay at home, start a fire in the fireplace, and bake cookies while singing badly to my favorite Christmas song and my favorite winter song.

Cheers,

Mary

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When I’m Old

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Do any of you play Words with Friends?  I am absolutely addicted to this word game, which I play on my phone.  Each morning after my shower, I sit on the couch and play the 10-15 games I have going. I sip my coffee and pet my animals and truly, it’s a lovely way to greet the day.  During my school day, I can’t wait for a free minute to play a word or two, and lately, at night, I’ve been dreaming I’m playing.  Last night I dreamed I played the word “sofa” for 120 points!  This game is supposed to be good for maintaining healthy brain function and increasing memory skills.  A good player will be able to quickly find words in a jumble of letters, which is called anagramming.  Scientists have studied expert Scrabble players by examining MRI images while they are playing, and studies show that the expert Scrabble players are using different parts of their brains than non-expert Scrabble players and are strengthening areas of the brain associated with working memory.  I’m so happy to be addicted to a game that is actually good for my old noggin!  (Read more about it here.)

In general, I feel like my brain is keeping up with me quite well, but every once in awhile I can’t recall the name of an actor, even though I can see his face quite clearly in my head.  Or the name of a movie or book escapes me.  It usually comes to me later in the day, but it’s a frustrating feeling.  More embarrassing is telling the same stories twice to the same person. I’m especially guilty of this with Hubby, but in my defense, I talk to SO MANY PEOPLE during the day that I can’t remember whom I’ve told what!  I try to be entertaining and interesting and am always happy when someone cuts me off and says, “You already told me.” I also have incredibly vivid dreams, so it works the other way sometimes, in that I’ve dreamed that I told Hubby something and in waking life, I’ve never told him.  You know, just little things like we have company coming for dinner Friday, or my sister will be staying the night next Tuesday.  Lucky for me, after all these years, Hubby is used to my crazy ways!

The little lapses in memory do worry me, and lately I’ve been wondering what kind of old person I will be.  I want to be the nurturing, wise old grandma that always has banana bread baking in the oven and potato soup bubbling on the stove and time to listen to every story (like my Grandma Summers).  I’m so worried that I’ll be the embarrassing grandma with Turret’s Syndrome that shouts out things like, “PENIS!” at family dinners, or picks her nose or farts in public.  I’ve heard of elderly people who take their clothes off at the grocery store, or insist on watching the same tv series over and over again (and for me will it be Gilmore Girls, New Girl, or How I Met Your Mother?).  Will I stop bathing and get that old-person moldy smell?  Will I shuffle around the neighborhood wearing my bedroom slippers and bathrobe leading a chihuahua named Honey?

Well!  I’ve gotten myself quite worked up thinking about my future, so I’d better stop here and take a deep breath . . . and I’m pretty sure there’s a new word to be played.  If anyone wants to play WWF with me, message me, and I will send you my Zynga code name!

Cheers,

Mary

 

Yawns

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It’s been quite a month of travel for me.  I’ve had exciting adventures and slept in many different beds, so how wonderful it felt to get back to my own bed this weekend.  I slept like the dead–until about 7am when my ears were accosted by the sound of tweeting birds, which is very unusual at our house. These birds were serious about their songs; they did not let up, and after an hour, when (half asleep and half awake) I weighed plans about getting ridding of them (BB gun pellets? Sharp bird pest strips planted on the roof?).  I woke up enough to realize it was Hubby’s alarm clock that we both had slept through. ON A SUNDAY MORNING. I seriously wanted to punch him.  I told him he needs to go back to the old-fashioned BEEP BEEP BEEP alarm or else I will be slumbering in a different room.

Hubby is gone for a week to Georgia on a business trip so his alarm clock will not be disturbing me, but I still haven’t slept well for days.  The last night I was in Illinois, I sustained 60 mosquito bites–45 on my left leg and 15 on my right.  These were not the pesky little mozzies we have here in Tempe whose bites disappear after an hour.  These big-ass Midwestern mosquitos left some sort of toxin in my skin, causing each bite to swell to the size of big red nickels . . . and they are so itchy it’s hard to keep my fingernails off them.  It’s been a week and they show no signs of healing.  If they aren’t better by Monday, I will seek medical attention.  I keep wishing I’d used the bug repellant spray offered but nooooooo, I didn’t want the chemicals on me.  UGH.

Then last night Ruby the Wonder Spaniel got me up FOUR TIMES to go out and do her business between 2am and 5am.  She’d eaten so many cicadas before bed that her tummy was literally buzzing.  She does this every year, and while watching her leap about the yard for her summer snacks is Youtube-worthy, those crunchy treats always give her a case of the runs.  I gave her a Tums that she licked at loudly for a good 15 minutes, but then we were back outside soon after that.  Complicating the situation is that I’d taken a Benadryl to try to calm the itch from the bug bites and couldn’t figure out which way the door was!   Several times in the past few weeks, I’ve woken up in the dark thinking Hubby and I are still in our fabulous British hotel room with the magical view of the Tower of London.

Next week school starts and I will be back to an “early to bed and early to rise” schedule. It will be a difficult transition after a summer of staying up past midnight either reading or watching Netflix, waking up with no alarm clock, then napping mid afternoon.  But I am excited to meet the new staff members, new parents, and most of all our students . . . and be living a useful life again after the long, restorative summer break.

Cheers,

Mary

 

The Day I Almost Got Run Over by the Light Rail (and Other Stories)

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On this quiet Wednesday evening, I’m trying to remember everything I wanted to tell you.  I leave notes for myself, but days later I can’t crack my own code of shorthanded and abbreviated words written messily in pencil on small scraps of paper.

One story I DEFINITELY remember is called, “The Day I Almost Got Run Over by the Light Rail.”  It goes like this:  A few Fridays ago, my adorable sister-in-law LeaAnne and I were cleaning out the last bits of stuff from the ASU House so as to ready it for sale.  (My kids lived there during their college years.)  How we ended up with 20 cans of paint, four large containers of pest control poison, two packages of weed killer, etc., I’ll never know, but we were responsible citizens and drove a whole trunk full of haz mats to the Tempe recycling center on University.  On the drive back we were chatting and when I came to a red light by a train crossing, I remembered that one is never supposed to stop one’s car on a train track.  So I was careful to come to a stop a few yards in front of the tracks.  Lea and I continued to chat, while I kept an eye on the light which seemed like it was red for way too long.  THAT’s when LeaAnne made a strange noise, and we both screamed as the railroad arm came down and bounced off the hood of the SUV.  Then we heard the clanging of the train alert, and I madly tried to put us into reverse.   I’d only driven Hubby’s new car once before and the gear shift is super awkward, but PRAISE THE LORD, the driver behind me had left space, and I backed up JUST IN THE NICK OF TIME as the light rail trains swished by in both directions.  I was shaking and looked around for any sort of warning I may have missed, but all I saw was one small street sign announcing, “Do not park on XX.”  Well.  THAT would have been good to know.  The next day I texted Lea and said, “I’m so so so sorry for almost getting us run over by the light rail yesterday.  Do you think we would have been smart enough to jump out of the car if we were on the tracks??”  She didn’t respond . . . so the next day I texted her again and she said, “I’m still wondering!!!”  All’s well that ends well, and I’m 100% certain I’ll have anxiety anytime I’m near a train crossing for the rest of my life.

Here’s a short list of other interesting moments from the past few weeks:

  • I binge-watched on Netflix Anne with an E, which is an adaptation of Anne of Green Gables, which were favorite books when I was a preteen.  I loved every moment of this new series and am so sad that Season Two will not be available for a whole year.
  • I bought a squatty potty from Amazon which had been recommended by teacher friends and by my naturopath, but it turns out Hubby and I are naturally good at doing our business.  This weird stool thing actually worked against me, and when I went online to return it to Amazon, I was given a full refund and was informed they did not want the item back.  Imagine that!  (Let me know if you’d like to try it.)  (Note to self:  Do NOT buy trendy healthcare products.)
  • As long as I’m oversharing, I’ll confide that one hot day last week I decided to go for a long walk in pants that were very uncomfortable and developed a heat rash on my keister.  I was applying Desitin cream before bed each night and the problem was almost resolved.   I put the tube of Desitin in the same drawer as the toothpaste and one night when I was sleepy, I accidentally applied Colgate Optic White which had quite the opposite effect as the one which was desired and again, I think to myself, how can I be so bad at life when I’ve been alive for so many years????
  • I’ve not been able to lose any additional weight which I partially attribute to the fact that a little orange tube of Braunschweiger caught my eye at the grocery store a few weeks ago, and it’s become a sinful late-night snack.  I love it on Saltine crackers. When I was a child, my mom often packed liverwurst on white bread with mustard in my school lunchbox.  It’s not good for you nutritionally and is full o’ fat.  I love it.
  • Today I found a website called MyAnimalWeight.com where I found out my weight equals 7.9 honey badgers, 8.8 ocelots, 14.2 raccoons, 39 hairy tree porcupines, and almost HALF A LION!  Definitely one of the strangest websites I’ve visited–you MUST check it out.   I’m hoping to lose one honey badger by the end of the summer and a raccoon in the Fall so I’ll be slim for our oldest son’s wedding in January. Goodbye liverwurst . . . I’ll be seeing you in my dreams.

Cheers,

Mary

Chivalry is Not Dead

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I am in Mexico.

Hubby and I are having a very relaxing, quiet weekend at the beach reading books, doing crossword puzzles, and taking long walks on the beach with Ruby the Wonder Spaniel. Hubby is always so pleasant to spend time with and is such a gentleman. He doesn’t mind if I fill his pockets with seashells on our walks, insists I share bites of his mango bought from the beach mango man, and today during our walk asked me, “May I hold your bag of hot dog shit?”  I tell ya, chivalry is not dead.

Today I did something I haven’t done since college!  (Nope–nothing illegal.)  I lay out in the sun in my swimsuit.  GASP!  (So politically incorrect! Forty lashes with a wet noodle!) The wind was cool, my skin was pale, and it just seemed like the right thing to do.  The chaise lounge was so comfy, and I immediately felt my bones go to jelly.  I felt so warm (but not too warm) and felt so in the moment.  I was almost dozing off when I began to notice the weird noises being made by all the patio umbrellas:  tap-tap, tippety-tap, tap-tap, tippety-tap.  I focused again on being in the moment, but that’s when Ruby came over to lay beside me.  Her wet dog smell wafted over me in what must have been a visible cloud . . .  and then she began to lick my legs.  ARRRGGGGG!  When I heard the nice vendor man asking me if I’d like to buy some “yewelry,” I knew it was time to give up.

Thinking back through the years (and looking down at my wrinkly hands), I’m pretty sure I kept up that sun worshipping hobby through my twenties.  Please remember it WAS THE STYLE then (think Miami Vice and Baywatch)!!!  My goal in college was to be the tannest girl at ASU—and I think I pretty much was.  So that’s why now my skin is leathery and spotted and well, would I have listened if anyone had tried to tell me what lay ahead? Probably not. Being tan made my teeth look whiter, my eyes look brighter, and my hair look blonder.  In 1984, I thought I was all that and a bag of chips.

Last week I also did something I hadn’t done since college:  I met with four old friends whom I was close friends with in high school and college.  These guys were the sweetest, goofiest, smartest bunch . . . though not the coolest boys in school.  Somehow we lost touch, and life went on, but I always hoped their lives were going well.  Last week, I was invited to happy hour last minute by my friend Gail, because two of the guys were visiting from out of town.  I was really nervous, but I think it went well.  We’ve all changed tremendously in 35 years, but we laughed remembering our high school shenanigans and all those summer tubing trips down the Salt River.  I’d always avoided school reunions, and most of that was due to the fact that the only thing I’d accomplished since high school was creating and raising my three beautiful children. So many people from my class have done so well, being doctors, lawyers, and Indian chiefs (ha) and well, my CV is not very impressive.  Last Tuesday at happy hour, none of that seemed to matter, and it was great to see their faces again.  I enjoyed our time together and hope we can make it a regular thing.

So I hope you’ve enjoyed this latest installment of Cheers Darling in which we’ve learned: Don’t worship the sun or your skin will get leathery when you are old, beauty is fleeting, good friends don’t care if you’re Important in the World . . . and if you’re on a walk and your husband offers to carry the plastic bag of hot dog poop . . . always say YES!

Cheers,

Mary

Saturday

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Is there a time of the week more heavenly than Saturday morning?  The whole weekend lays before you with so many possibilities for fun.  Tonight I hope Hubby will take me out on the town–maybe stop by the new Samurai exhibit at the art museum, then over to Angel Trumpet Ale House to try one of their 31 flavors of beer on tap, or maybe over to Taco Guild for their drool-worthy beef&blue cheese&cherry tacos (I swear they are the best food invented, after chicken shwarma).   I’m going to zip up my sexy tall leather boots and find my reddest lipstick, and uh oh, now I have Lyle Lovett’s song, What Do You Doin my head:

“You could put on some makeup
And you could pile up your hair
And at least try to do something
With what you’ve got there
You could tell me you love me
To put off my blues
But what do you do
Say what do you do?”

But now we are suiting up for a hike over at the War Paint Trail.  I’ve been walking a lot this past month, but not really getting my heart rate up.  So even though I prefer to bear to the right and go on the flat trails, I’m going to be brave and say, “let’s go left” which means steep inclines that leave me gasping.  Or maybe we’ll go straight and do the zig zag trail Corona del Loma trail that rewards you with a beautiful view of the Gila River Indian reservation to the south.  It’s the best time of year for a dusty walk among the blooming creosote and stately saguaros.

The tension is gone from our quaint little neighborhood (which I talked about in my last entry).  Our mentally unstable neighbor is in jail awaiting his bail hearing.  SO SAD.  There is a bustle of activity at their house as his wife prepares the home for sale.  It’s lovely with high-end everythings so will probably sell quickly.  Come be our next door neighbor!  I’d say the only annoying things about living next door to us is Cosmo occasionally walks the fence and might take a wee catnap on your patio, and Ruby the Wonder Spaniel barks every time I take out the trash.  She thinks the bag is a doggy pinata and often manages to bite a hole in the bottom, rewarding her with some stinky trash.  Good dog.  I hatched a plan to scare off any undesirable potential neighbors touring the house:  I’m going to fill a bag with beer cans which will be thrown on the lawn, and in my bikini will do yard work while listening to rap music played at a loud volume.

Happy Saturday!!!

Mary

 

 

Looking for Rainbows

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It rained all weekend.  I kinda loved it, and in the moments when the rain let up, Ruby the Wonder Spaniel and I went out to pull weeds.  At one point on Sunday afternoon, it began to pour, and then the sun came and shone so brilliantly, all while it was still raining.  It was magnificent!  The thrill I felt from smelling the earthy wet smells and seeing the unusual rain on this quiet Sunday filled me with a simple joy.  Ruby and I went out front into the cul de sac to look for the rainbow and found one vibrantly lighting up the sky.  Both of us smiled from ear to ear, and then the clouds covered the sun and the rainbow disappeared.

We came back in the house, and Ruby began to bark.  My hearing is good, but somehow Ruby is the only one who heard shots coming from our next door neighbor’s house.  Hubby was in the office, but was on the computer, so it must have dimmed the sounds.  The rest of the day turned into a nightmare or alt reality when our usually calm and boring street turned into a crime in progress with 20 (at least) police blocking off and surrounding our street with weapons drawn.  Across the street a policeman watched over the fence with a rifle.   Two SWAT trucks pulled up behind the house next door and shone bright lights onto the backyard.  We were asked to evacuate, but we knew there was no real threat. Turns out we were right; our neighbor was drunk and passed out cold, and he came out peacefully once he awoke.

We knew our neighbor was having a bad time of it.  She moved out a year and a half ago. He was drinking and suffered from delusions.  He is a gun owner and apparently got black out drunk on our rainy Sunday afternoon and started shooting inside his home.  One of the shots ricocheted into the neighbors’ house on the west side of him.  Most of the neighbors heard the four shots.  Nobody knew if he was dead or alive inside the home.

Like I said, I knew things were bad. While living out our daily lives, I tried not to dwell on the situation; I knew she was trying so hard to get him to go to AA or get treatment for his issues and was still not giving up on her beloved husband of 33 years.  But our vegetable garden is near our shared back yard wall, and I often found myself feeling scared and moving as quietly as I could while cutting lettuce for our dinner.  He had no bone to pick with us, yet, if someone is that unstable, who knows what could  happen?   I didn’t mention the situation to very many people so as to protect their privacy and the few friends I mentioned it to didn’t seem overly concerned.  I was so hopeful it would all work out, and she would be able to move back to her adorable house, and he would find the help he needed.

This week it’s been hard for me to focus on life.  I’m still shaken from our six hours sequestered on the east side of our home because as the police told us, “bullets can easily penetrate dry wall.”  When darkness fell, we turned off all the lights and moved from window to window to watch the situation play out.  I was never afraid for our own lives. But I’m still shaken by what’s happened to our lovely neighbors of 15 years who always cat sat for us when we were out of town and would never accept payment, and twice a year invited all the neighbors to BBQs in their driveway,  all of us sitting on  camp chairs enjoying potato salad, hot dogs, hamburgers, and brownies, but most of all each other’s company.

Many neighbors (friends and acquaintances) called  me that night to find out if we knew what was happening.  I relayed only the basics and then said to each person, “I don’t know any family who doesn’t have someone who suffers from mental health or addiction issues, and I hope you’ll keep that in mind when talking about others about what’s happening. They have been lovely neighbors.”

I was sad to talk to her yesterday and find out he is in custody probably for a long time, and that she plans to put the house on the market as soon as she can have the dry wall repaired.  She says there are so many holes it looks like her house has chicken pox.  I’m glad she has kept her sense of humor.  I think it will be a long time before anyone on our street can forget about that horrible, terrifying night, but I know Ruby and I will be happy now to take our time with our gardening . . . and we’ll still keep looking for rainbows at the end of the street.

Cheers,

Mary