Thursday, July 23, 2009

Searching for Mr. Right Includes Wrong Turns!

Well, here it is, the weekend is one day away…. tomorrow is Friday - again, another Saturday is coming and then of course Sunday, the proverbial day of rest. Yet by the time Sunday is here, I’ll be so rested, Monday will seem like a cake-walk.

While everyone else (my female friends that is) are out having an evening on the town with a male companion, I’ll be sitting at home watching my telephone. No, I don’t mean my television, well, actually, I’ll be watching that too, but with one eye on the phone.

It’s like the old proverb – a watched pot never boils – well, I want you to know, a watched telephone never rings. If it does, it’s probably one of the cable companies wanting to know about my weekend television habits (how do they know I'm home alone???), or the proverbial tele-sales computer voices with a list of questions that have nothing to do with anything I'm remotely interested in…. does kind of pass the time though.

During my days at University, back in the '90s, I met this really cute, younger guy on campus. He was absolutely adorable. He started to flirt with me and I thought I should be honest and tell him I was a grandmother. His response? ….. He liked older women.

Older women? He was younger than my daughter!! The poor boy followed me all over campus that day like a little, lost puppy. I began to feel sorry for him and actually thought, for a brief moment, that he might be fun to take home and keep for a pet!

Not long after my encounter with puppy-eyes, I saw an older friend of mine at a gala event. He informed me he had a new girlfriend. My “friend” was about 67 years old at the time (pretty darn old in my opinion) and his new girlfriend was 25. I asked him what did they find to talk about. “Talk?” he said, “She don’t talk, but she sure communicates good lyin’ down.”

The following evening, I found myself at what once was considered a rather nice nightclub catering to the "slightly" older generation. I walked in and was immediately accosted by several gentlemen – one almost ran over my foot with his wheelchair.

Another gentleman took 10 minutes just to say, “Hi honey,” all the while wiping the drool away from the corners of his mouth - must have been caused by the false teeth that somehow had a mind of their own! And the other gentleman, well, let’s put it this way – it’s a good thing he had arthritis because he let his fingers do the walking.

However, the music was nice and the place had a distinct ambiance – along the coat rack was a rack for canes, and the coatroom had numbered wheelchairs. I was told the local geriatricians even had a nickname for the club – “Menopause Manor”.

I did meet a rather nice man about my age, salt and pepper hair, nice build, incredibly charming, owned his own business and drove a really cool sports car. Wow, I thought, a “real” man – until I found out about the others. There was a lady friend in Dallas, one in Atlanta, one in Mexico City and then there was The Wife!

Oh well, just my luck; they’re too young, too old or too attached.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Grow Up and Act Your Age!

How many times have you asked your children, “when are you going to grow up and act your age?” Yes, I’ve uttered those same words time and time again to my kids only to be looked at with eyes rolling, a shrug, a deep sigh and the sound of feet leaving you standing alone in the middle of a room.

Well, somehow the tables were turned. It was after the (ex) hubby decided to search for a more fulfilling life -- one with a much younger woman. I decided I would fulfill my life as well and enrolled in college.

It was during my son’s senior year in high school. I started off with a bang – got straight As the first semester and dear son was horrified. “Geez, mom, why’d you do that? Are you trying to embarrass me?” I told a couple of his teachers who also were my friends, that son and I were studying together – paybacks are hell!

Darling son was never known for his academic achievements; his claim to fame was his famous mooning episode from the back window of the school bus.

Daughter dear, a few years older than her little brother, was quite proud of my efforts until one fateful night. Because I was now a “college person” I wanted to try out my new single, college wings and have some fun on the town.

Daughter phones mom a little after midnight and doesn’t get an answer. Guess who’s in trouble now? I didn’t know I had a curfew. “Mom, says she, “Act your age; you’re not a kid, so don’t act like one!”

Hey, I was just out with some of the other kids from school. Unfortunately, some of these “kids” had gone to high school with my kids. My son informed me that dancing the night away with his friends was not the way a grown woman should act, especially his own mother. “But son,” I explained with a slight whine in my voice, “they asked me to go and I couldn’t say no”.

For some reason, his friends and a few of my daughter’s, thought it was cool to have “mom” (not theirs of course) hanging out with them!

In my quest to find a fun activity at college, and one that fit in with my age, I tried the college pool. I used to be a pretty good swimmer in high school; I even won a few awards, but when I walked in to the pool area the only person close to my age was the coach.

So, there I am, in the pool with gorgeous hunks of male college muscle and of course thin, young, thin, tanned, young, thin coeds. Did I mention they were young and thin? Yes there I am, - ALL of me, my shriveled cellulite, bleached stretch marks and worn wrinkles – exposed for all the world to see. Even though I stayed under water for as long as I could, I still had to come up for air sometime!

While all that exercise was great, all the running, swimming, tennis and racquet ball made this slightly older body feel and look pretty good, what about the other exercise? The one all my new friends do on a one-on-one basis? Yes, I’m talking about the great sport of dating!

I began to seriously enter the dating scene and what did I get? A lecture from darling daughter about safe sex. Didn’t we have this conversation several years ago? I clearly remember discussing the birds and bees with her. Yes she agreed, we did talk about birds and bees – blue birds, red birds and the stork. Come to think of it, I may have left something out of that particular discussion.

My son was in shock. Dating? Not his mother, he proclaimed. That stuff is for young people, not someone “your age”.

What can I say, I was in college and wasn’t I supposed to act like a college kid? I enjoyed going to parties, complaining about too much homework, watching TV when I should be studying and I even liked the exercise.

So how come I kept hearing “When are you going to grow up and act your age?”

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Feel the Burn!

Back several years ago, I decided to do something healthy for myself. I took the plunge and became a full-fledged member of a health club. This club was the kind where you see strapping young men with muscle shirts – and the muscles in them – and curvaceous women scantily clad in thong leotards, which of course no self respecting woman over the age of …… let me rephrase that…. MY age…. Would dare try to wear!

Joining the health club was a no option choice. I worked in an office where cakes, candy, donuts and potlucks were a way of life. All that good food gave my body an extra dimension – one I was not too happy about.

So despite the grumbling over the cost, the idea of embarrassing myself in front of scads of gorgeous shaped young bodies and actually having to do some real exercise, I bit the bullet and wrote the check.

The first item on the club policy’s list was to have the club’s physician conduct a fitness test to ensure I was healthy enough to spend my money on some dumb-bells. I filled out all the forms, answered all the questions – except how old I was and how much I weighed.

The physician, with his stony face, informed me he needed to have ALL the information in order to assess my training needs. He made it sound like I was enrolling in obedience class.

So, glaring at him, I wrote down some numbers in the age and weight brackets just as he asked, daring him to say another word.

He said another word all right. He looked at me, handed the forms back and said “I want the CORRECT numbers. I don’t know what made him think they weren’t the right ones.

He then put me on a Lifecycle machine and told me to keep the RPMs at 80 mph. First I had to get the pedals moving…. And sitting on that seat….well, now I understand why they call it a “banana” seat! I was lucky to be able to get the darn thing going at all much less at 80 mph. Then he set it on level four, which must be for the guys out there on the gym floor playing with those big, round manhole covers.

I pedaled up longer, higher, steeper hills then the cyclists on the Tour de France. Every couple of minutes the doctor would look at me through the glass window separating us, nod and give me a little smile – I think it was a smirk. I grinned back at him realizing the glass window was probably bullet proof.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, he came into the “how fit are we” room and said “Ok you’re finished.” How right he was! I toppled off the machine and with rubbery legs and a sore bottom, wobbled back to his desk and sat down – gingerly!

He then handed me a list of all the exercises I needed to put this body back in shape, along with the repetitions and the number of days each week I was supposed to do them.

The list was nearly two pages long!

He sent me – list in hand – to the main workout area where the receptionist called for THE TRAINER.

Each brand new member gets their own individual trainer for the first few workouts to show him, or her in my case, the ropes. (I would loved to have shown that doctor some rope.)

Over walked a huge, muscular, big hunk of a man. Did I mention he was huge? This was my trainer? At that moment, I began looking for the nearest exit. This man looked like he could single-handedly lift a house off its foundation! Before I knew it, he grabbed my hand and shook it like it was attached to one of those WW whatever wrestlers. Thank goodness I’m ambidextrous and can write with my left hand.

He started me on the exercycle – the twin to the Lifecycle and said I would have to start with this machine each time I came to the gym as it would warm up my leg muscles. Not that they weren’t already warm. By the time I finished this part of the exercise program, my leg muscles definitely were warmed up – they were burning, as was my behind – again – with another of those skinny banana seats! Why do they not put seats on those bikes that would accommodate behinds like mine?

Then he started me on the other machines, rather, they started on me. I did leg presses, leg lifts, shoulder lifts, tricep pulls, bicep pulls, abdominal crunches and last but definitely not least the Butt Blaster. That is one machine that does exactly what it says.

By the time I was finished with my routine, I was finished. My trainer, Mr. Big Hunk, (did I mention he was huge?) was grinning ear to ear as he helped me crawl my way to the treadmill informing me that I had another 20 minutes to go – walking briskly at four – count ‘em – four mph (that miles per hour for all you non athletic types).

He did take pity on me when I gave him a sad, pathetic look and lowered the speed to 3.5 mph.

Two full hours after I arrived at the gym, I carefully waddled and limped my way out to my car. Why do they call it a “health club” when you are in so much pain afterwards?

I sat in my car, with its nice full, cushiony, soft seat and headed home. When I arrived home, I cautiously put one foot on the concrete driveway, picked up my other foot with both hands transferring it to the driveway as well, and putting all my weight on the door, slithered down the side of the car. As I sat there, I ruminated on why I was doing this to myself. Stumbling and staggering, I made it to the front door holding on to anything I could grab and once in the house, I collapsed on the couch and passed out!

One full week after joining the “club” and working out semi-faithfully, I could walk out of the gym standing upright with just a slight rubbery wiggle to my legs.

I started to feel pretty good and I thought I noticed a difference in my hips and waist and even my derriere – thanks to the Butt Blaster.

I told all my friends how wonderful working out was and how great I felt afterward. I had a kind of superior feeling when I mentioned it to them especially when they were sitting on their sofas in front of the television.

I was off lifting those weights, pumping that iron and crunching those abs and maybe, someday, I would have Buns of Steel!

Fast forward to several years later…. The only iron I’m pumping is my daily intake of iron tablets, my abs can be found somewhere near my waist wherever that has gone and my buns can best be compared to hamburger buns – soft and doughy!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Opportunities Happen When You Least Expect Them

It’s called serendipity by many people. It can be called coincidence by some. I chose to call it an “opportunity” that happened when I least expected it!

As my good friend Bonnie, a
life coach, knows, I have been lamenting about my weight – yet not really doing anything to lose these unwanted pounds. (No, this isn’t a diet story…. But it could become one eventually!)

On the day before my “opportunity” came to pass, my good friend Richard and I were at a Rodeo event as our alter ego Rodeo Clown personalities. He is a very active person, with his running/walking, working out and kayaking, and he found a kayaking group online in our area. Of course, I was whining (as usual) about not having anyone to walk with or “support” me during my weak attempts at losing weight. He suggested I go online and find a meet-up group.

Following the event, as soon as I got home, still in rodeo clown attire and make up, I sat down at my computer and went online. Now that’s nothing new in itself as I seem to “live” online – but again I digress and that is another whole story!

I found a
meet-up group for walking in my area of town. In fact, they had a walk scheduled in the mall the very next morning at a reasonable hour… 11 am, so, I could sleep late, grab a bite to eat, drink my morning coffee and make the walk. The best part was I could walk in the cool wide spaces of the mall… and everyone knows that Houston is HOT!

The meet-up organizer had said she would be wearing a tie-dyed T-shirt and pink Capri’s, which would make her easy to find. She was – on both counts. We met in front of JC Penny’s and as we began our walk, we of course are asking each other where we live, what we do – all the small talk one does when first meeting a new friend, and here is where the serendipity comes in – and the

Although I didn’t recognize her, I did in fact know her and had met her many times! We went to the same wine bar, participated in the same theatre group and both knew my best friend who is opening a new wine bistro and piano bar as she lost her two previous businesses during Hurricane Ike. It was like we were long lost cousins! We began remembering the good times we had prior to the big storm, talking about what could have happened and what was going to happen in the next few months.

Then, we began talking about what we were doing to “earn our way” through this life. This is where I kind of get chill bumps. For years, I have been a
story teller to children. I then take those stories and write them, hoping that one day I will publish them and maybe earn a tad bit of money to help pay the utilities, etc. But, I had a road block…I simply am not an artist! I can’t draw worth a flip! I am not a graphics person or even know how to use a graphics program. And what I need to make my books really tell their stories is an illustrator. I had no idea how to find someone that could draw a few funny pictures of a turkey.

Last week, I had a brainstorm! I contacted the Art Institute of Houston in hopes that an aspiring student might want to take on this assignment for credit; as you see, I currently am without full time employment, and unable to pay an illustrator what they should rightfully earn. And, I had no success. No phone calls, no e-mails…. Just an empty mailbox.

My walking partner, in her tie-dyed shirt, so reminiscent of the ‘60s, just popped up and said, “I have a friend who is a graphics artist. She currently is not working as she just had a baby. Maybe she could help.”

I just love technology, don’t you? Right then and there, she dialed her friend on her cell phone while walking. Keep in mind, we are moving at a pretty fast pace and doing all this talking, while
opportunity builds!

This lovely young lady, then hands the phone to me and I begin speaking with….. Drum roll here…… my new illustrator for my children’s book! She readily agreed to help out and even sounded very excited about the project! Later that day, she sent me a link to her online portfolio and, oh my gosh, or in text speak O M G!!! Her illustrations are fabulous! They are exactly what I have been seeking!

They were colorful, bright and humorous! They were perfect!

And, now my stories can begin!

Call it coincidence that all these “events” came together, call it serendipity or providence… whatever you call it, it was/is indeed an
opportunity waiting to be discovered!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Bare Breasted Facts of Life – Nah, Don’t Go There

I have now seen it all. During my schooling, entering into my senior year of University, two of my male friends decided I needed to expand my worldly knowledge. They knew I had led a very sheltered life and had not experienced a lot of “life” as they know it.

When you’ve been raising children most of your life, your experiences are somewhat limited, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, friend No. 1 asked if I had ever been to a strip club. “Well of course," I replied with some superiority. I’ve seen the Chippendale guys and even went to Le Bare, the only “girls” club in Houston.” What they didn’t know is I saw them – from under the table with my hands over my eyes, hoping no one I knew would see me in a club where guys strip for girls (another story for another time!)

That wasn’t what he had in mind, however. He and friend No.2 said they were going to take me some place really nice, but with girls. Now, why on earth would I want to see nekkid girls? But the guys insisted and since I was still in school, they considered this a key element in my education process.

So, there we were at this kind of nice place, at least as nice as strip clubs go. We sat at a little table in a dark corner, one male friend on either side of me.

I want you to know, I was the only, fully dressed female in the place. I had just been to the Houston Live Stock Show and Rodeo and was sitting there in full cowgirl regalia – you know, jeans, boots, hat, the whole nine yards – or enchilada – it had been “Go Tejano” night at RodeoHouston™.

But those girls – you should have seen what they were doing. Some of them must have been double jointed. There was this one young thing that if someone pushed her from behind she would topple over like a set of dominoes – boom, boom. Then she would have bounced all over the floor – look ma, no hands.

Oh, and there was another girl with cellulite on her behind. I could see it from the corner where I was sitting. I excitedly pointed this out to my friends, rather loudly I might add, when all of a sudden I found a hand clamped over my mouth.

Yes, I was able to find something wrong with every dancer in the club. A couple of the girls looked as if they needed to be put out to pasture, and I don’t mean because they were looking too old!

Some of the women looked as if they had bosoms enough to supply an entire nursery. One little girl (I say little only because she was younger and shorter than me) was an acquaintance of male friend No. 1 and was so excited about her newest surgery that she pulled down her stretch-top and ecstatically bounced all around in little circles.

Stupidly, I asked the guys if seeing this much bare skin gets old after a while. They both looked at me as if I was suddenly contagious with a terminal disease!

According to my male friends, this was just another step in furthering my worldly education. I just wonder if my new knowledge will open doors for me.

Nope – I can’t afford the surgery.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Furniture Comes and Goes – Yet Pictures Stay

I was cleaning and rearranging furniture in my small one bedroom apartment after moving to Houston from the country. You know how it is when you’re cleaning house – you start cleaning one area and somehow you end up somewhere else with another huge mess. I started in the living room and kitchen area of my small apartment. You would think in an area that small it wouldn’t be a problem deciding where to put what. I mean, there are only four walls.

The last time I rearranged furniture, I got in a fight with my nine foot couch. Moving that piece of furniture was like trying to push Mount Rushmore through an opening the size of a quarter. I bought that old couch back in 1980 something. The (ex) husband took off to go hunting and left me home with the young’uns – again! And what does one do when the hubby goes off to the deer lease? Why go shopping of course!

My first couch, after raising the kids, the ex, several dogs, a wide variety of cats, one guinea pig and two ferrets was down to the bare wood and springs. So, I decided to have a new one in place when the (ex) hubby returned home.

I found it at a garage sale - of course. The owner said they never sat on it and had kept it in their formal living room. I have a feeling their “formal living room” was probably in another state.

I loaded the monstrosity into the back of the pickup, the kids helped me move the old sofa out and we installed the new one in its place. (Ex) hubby arrived home the next day, tired and weary from a long weekend of hunting and bonding with his buddies and nature – a man’s work is never done.

He sat down to relax and watch some football. Six weeks later, he realized there was something different in the living room. (Someday I’m going to get rid of that old couch too!)

This time, it was the oversized recliner and I that had a problem. I should say the recliner, my cat Sweet Pea and I.

She loves to play hide-and-seek, and she chose the recliner to use as her hiding place. I had to turn the chair upside down, which took some doing – kind of like wresting with a sumo wrestler – all girth and no give. I ended up using a squirt bottle of water to get her out of there. I got to sit in a wet recliner and Sweet Pea had to find another place to hide.

The most fun rearranging furniture I’ve ever had was when I moved everything while (ex) hubby was gone (to the deer lease of course for more – um – bonding). Sometimes he would trip over a table or chair that wasn’t there before and I would hear him swearing all the way out to his truck. Yes, ladies, if you ever want to get back at that man in your life, rearrange the furniture – it works every time.

I finally had almost all of my furniture in the middle of my apartment when I noticed my walls. Well, one wall in particular that is. I have what I call my rogues’ gallery on the big wall in my den.

I have the standard graduation, wedding and group-shot pictures of my children. But I also have some that take a little explaining.

There’s one of my daughter lying out in the sun by our pool, laughing. What you don’t see is my daughter’s best friend doing her best to keep her horse out of the pool. Every time she rode her horse to our house, that animal seemed to think he needed to take a dip.

One of my favorite pictures is my son in his cute little white tuxedo and red cummerbund going to his eighth grade graduation dance. His date, a full head taller than said son, wore a red dress that matched his cummerbund!

Chauffeuring for the evening was none other than his big sister (he thought she would be better than having mom hanging around all night) and she also was instructed to wear red.

That was one of those nights when he begged me to “please stay home this time, Mom.” Are you kidding? Me, stay home and miss this party? Not on your life!!

Oh, I let them get a good head start before I got myself cleaned up and ready to go. I arrived about an hour or so after they did. We spent the rest of the evening playing “catch me if you can.”

He was just so cute in that tuxedo – thank goodness for his taller date – made it easy for me to follow them. I used up two rolls of film that night and then had to borrow from one of the other parents – all of us causing our darlings the same kind of embarrassment.

Then I have a really good picture of son at about two years old sitting in – not on – the commode - only his head and legs can be seen. I use this picture for blackmail purposes.

So, I finally got my furniture rearranged the way I want it this time. I’m sure I’ll change my mind in about three months or so and have to do it all over again. One thing I won’t change - are the pictures on the wall.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

It’s a Bugs World

Do you know that roaches can live for a week without their heads? Do you know they can run three miles an hour? And do you realize there are 5,000 species of roaches?

Well, I know one thing for sure; they all came to my house when the other condos in my complex were sprayed during the annual insect inspection.

And those bugs are smart -- they know just where to go and who’s not using their pantry.

The last time I had any real need to open the pantry was when I dropped a malted milk ball and it rolled under the door.

It was my last one and I don’t believe in wasting good chocolate.

Anyway, this is the week my townhouse is supposed to be de-bugged. That means taking everything out of the cabinets – dishes, pots, pans, food – everything!

Unfortunately, this is one job I now have to do all by myself. At least when my son and his friends were around I never had to clean the pantry. I’m talking two legged garbage disposals here. They could literally devour the complete contents of my pantry in 12 seconds flat.

During the "cleaning out," I found four boxes of partially eaten cereal – each with a different expiration date – all prior to 2001. I think they were supposed to be eater prior to the new century!

Anyway, since I had to empty the cabinets, I figured this was as good a time as any to finally get rid of all those mismatched, chipped and cracked dishes, most of which look like they went through several wars.

Considering the fact they lasted through my marriage, my two kids and all the stray kids they brought home, I’d say they lasted a long, long, long time.

I started with the cups and glasses shelf and found a mug, way in the back, which read “I hate housework.” I’m leaving it on my countertop for future reference.

It had been ages since I’d seen some of those dishes. I’m not even sure where they came from.

I found an old yellow Tupperware bowl that must have had spaghetti in it at one time. I could tell because the yellow was a deeper shade of orange near the bottom.

It was all dented and bent and I kind of looked at it for a minute wondering why on earth -- and then I remembered – back in 1987 or ‘88 one of my daughter’s friends brought it over with her lunch in it -- the day her horse fell in our pool. But that’s another story.

Finally, after all my reminiscing, I got all those dishes pulled off the shelves and out of the cabinets so the exterminators could do their job.

And just because the bugs weren’t running around while I was cleaning, doesn’t mean I couldn’t tell they had been there.

They left little trails of black dots all over the shelves and the only way to remove those dots off is to sand down the wood and repaint it.

And yet, it doesn’t matter how many times you paint over those little speckles, the darn things come right back up through the new coat of paint.

I don’t even know why we try to exterminate these bugs.

You know what I think? I think they’re supernatural.

It’s just like plucking out a gray hair, if you pluck one ten grow back in its place. And it’s the same thing with roaches. Kill one of ‘em and a 100 more appear just for revenge.

They’re the only living creatures to survive through all seven cratonic stages -- they even outlived the dinosaurs. In fact, some female roaches mate once and are pregnant for the rest of their lives.

Maybe that’s where all those little black spots came from. Mama roaches dropping babies everywhere!

When I finally finished cleaning out the pantry and cabinets, I ended up with two trash bags full of mismatched, chipped, cracked and broken dishes.

I even threw away all those little sample envelopes that you get in the mail. I think I must have had about two hundred of them. Also gone are the half-empty boxes of cereal, crackers and croutons.

Putting things back after the exterminators finished was a lot easier than I thought it would be – all I had left were four plates, two bowls, six glasses, a couple pots and pans, three cans of soup and NO BUGS.

Next week I think I’ll clean out my refrigerator, well maybe I’ll do the closets first. No, on second thought I think I’ll just go out of town!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Sell Me Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Huddled Garbage

I love sales. There is absolutely nothing that gets my adrenaline up like a sale – especially a garage sale.

Driving down city streets on weekends, I keep my eyes peeled for those almost unreadable signs prominently displayed on street corners, pointing the way to a yard sale.

As I slow to a snail’s crawl to read the directions, I hear the sound of brakes squealing and horns honking wildly. I don’t pay much attention to the chaos behind me. My mind is on the terrific bargains I’m going to find. Have you ever seen the bumper stickers that say, “I brake for garage sales”? I need one of those stickers.

Garage sales are a great way to clothe the kids and the hubby. When I was married to Mr. Ex, I bought almost all of his shirts at yard sales. He never complained. He couldn’t tell the difference between those and the new ones.

I found bicycles for my kids, plants and pictures for the house and once I was really nice and bought my “ex” a four-wheeler for hunting season. It was painted in camouflage green, grey and brown. Attached to this four-wheel, man-toy was a hunting bow, a bow rack and saddle bags, all for only $100.

I was so proud of myself and I just knew my (now ex) hubby would show his appreciation by at least taking me out to dinner. I know, I know – dumb idea. Instead he took me to the deer lease to show off his new toy to his hunting buddies.

Once the kids, dogs, cats and ferrets (and other miscellaneous pets) had their way with the furniture, eating and beating it down to the bare wood, I found a remarkable, never used, gargantuan sofa.

This piece of furniture was nine feet of hideous, yellow, green and cream-colored comfort. Over several years, the couch took on subtle shades of gray cat hair, white dog hair and the stains of teenagers' feeding frenzies.

I tried covering it with sheets, bought the largest sofa cover I could find and finally just piled all my junk boxes on it so I wouldn’t have to look at it.

Four times I moved with that sofa. Each time, I had friends who helped me move and one of them would end up with a hernia. Of course, I don’t use the same friends every time.

The last time the couch moved without me. Son and his wife, who were just starting off their married life with child number one, took it off my hands. I ended up with boxes of “stuff” and nowhere to put them.

But I always found great bargains – a white wicker chair for only $10 and bar stools for five bucks each. I’m even still using the television set I bought nearly 25 years ago for $50. So, it doesn’t have a remote – it still works and I get my exercise getting up and down to change channels.

Bargain hunting - rather garage sales - are in my blood, and as my son used to tell our friends, “Our house is furnished in early garbage sale”.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Preface to the Beginning

Before I begin my first real blog post, I want to preface these postings by saying that many of these were written while I was actually attending school (the University of Houston) during the mid '90s. In fact, it was because of these "essays" that I was able to finish my schooling and graduate with a Bachelor's degree in journalism. I have to admit, I love humor, so most of what I write hopefully will be somewhat funny, maybe provide a little grin, incite a slight ha-ha, or even provoke a loud guffaw! And, while I do and will write sometimes serious pieces, I hope my readers will enjoy the "trials and tribulations" of a 21st century grandma!!

And, the story begins.................

Care to eat? Got Dinner?

Ever been broke? Sure you have. We all have at one time or another been down to the nitty gritty hoping for that miracle to come into our lives. Except sometimes the miracles aren’t exactly what we had in mind.

I’m broke – down to my last 50 or so dollars. Paid the rent this month, might have enough for one more tank of gas, but like old Mother Hubbard, my cupboard is bare – bare as a bone, empty as balloon with no air – even with air it’s empty. A void in my refrigerator – cold, dreary and my single can of Slim Fast is very lonely. But wait, down in the bottom there’s beer left over from a party long, long ago.

I hate beer; I wouldn’t drink it on my best day let alone on my worst. But there you have it. Lots of cans of beer, one can of Slim Fast and an old piece of dried fish in my freezer. Well, on the bright side, the refrigerator won’t need cleaning for a while.

Yes, looking for a job has been a lot harder than I anticipated. But now that I’m broke, I might finally be able to lose that 20 pounds I’ve gained over the last six months or so – no food in the house, no money to go out and buy food, no more fast food, no more slow food.

But wait, I’m not hungry. In fact I’m full, very, very full. I just returned from a wonderful luncheon I was invited to by some co-volunteers of an organization I (still) belong to. There were two large, long tables set up with cold salads, sweet rolls and pasta on one table and wonderful, tantalizing warm buffet servers stuffed with meats, vegetables and breads on the other table. What a feast. Oh and the desserts, wonderful, simply wonderful.

That was such a nice lunch. Even more bountiful than the one I had yesterday with my former boss from my former company. He called and said, “You’ve been on my mind. How about we do lunch – I’ll buy.” Well, that certainly is an offer I can’t refuse – food has always been my weakest link. So there we are at this fabulous Chinese buffet lunch – the best in town I might add. I went back for seconds, thirds and then of course, the desserts.

Hmmmmm, so far, my idea of losing weight is going the wrong way. I’m broke; I’m supposed to be going hungry. Last week, I had a two-fer day. That is, I had a luncheon in the afternoon and dinner was served at my volunteer meeting that evening. That means I ate twice that day – for free – again, all the food I could eat – OK, stuff in my mouth. And I did. I had chicken that afternoon, and beef and veggies, salad, bread and dessert. That night I had fried catfish, hush puppies, cole slaw and of course – dessert. I still haven’t learned how to say “no” to any and all desserts – especially if they involve chocolate!

This is not working the way it’s supposed to! I’m supposed to be losing weight because my cupboard is empty and my refrigerator is bare. Oh yeah, I almost forgot – Saturday night I had one of those very rare occasions when I have a date. (I had to re-look the word up in the dictionary it has been so long since the last one.) We went to a beautiful, classy steak house. The service was impeccable, the food was beyond description – I had the fish – something about fish, dried or wet – it was melt-in-your-mouth good! Another fabulous meal and of course, dessert!

Before I became unemployed, I ate out regularly. I had lunch, dinner and sometimes I’d even have breakfast. I know, breakfast is the most important meal of the day as some experts have determined. But what do they know? Food has always been in my refrigerator. I had boxes, cans, packages and bowls of ready to fix goodies in my pantry. Ice cream, cookies (ok, cookie dough) and candy abounded in my refrigerator. I was almost glad when the time finally arrived when I could no longer eat all that gooey, chewy, flavorful, tempting food. Finally, I can lose weight, albeit not the way I imagined I would.

But here I am getting ready to go out to eat again. Another invitation by a good friend – dinner at her house, barbecue and all the fixin’s, plus she has chocolate caramel ice cream with vanilla butter cake for dessert.

This being broke thing isn’t so bad. Now all I have to do is find someone to give me all their “too big” clothes.

Eventually I will have to go back to work at a company somewhere in this huge city. And soon my refrigerator will again be full, my pantry will hold untold delights and I will forget I ever dreamt of losing weight.

Thongs, Strings or Straps?

It's official - it's summer in Texas. The days are hot and steamy, girls are wearing short-shorts and halter-tops. Kids are swimming at the beach and you can hear bands with their primitive beats from the lakeside enticing young women and men to jiggle and gyrate to the moving rhythms. The girls and guys are gravitating to the area with beach towels, sun tan lotion and those wonderful little bikinis.

I tried on my bathing suit yesterday to see if it still fit. Yes, it fit all right, only in the wrong places!

So I haven't been exercising like I should. I tried going to a gym last winter in anticipation of summer. However I couldn't pass the entrance exam. You know, you enter wearing a body suit with a strap that disappears somewhere behind you.

The first time I saw one of those contraptions on another female I couldn't believe where they expected me to wear that strap! Years ago we had sandals called thongs… know what a thong is today? They don't go on your feet!

The gym commercials aren't lying either. Those same hard bodies you see on TV are the same ones in the gym. And of course there are big glass windows on the front of the facility so that all the cars and passersby can watch the guys lifting and the gals bending.

I want to know where they hide the soft bodies -- the ones over 35 -- ok, ok, the ones over 40… all right, over 50… with those few extra bulges, they're certainly not in the windows!

The apartment complex I used lived in added a workout room two doors down from my apartment – so convenient! If I woke up early enough I could sneak down there before anyone could see me.

The first morning at the new workout room I worked with weights for my upper arms, did some leg curls to work on the thighs (notice I didn't say 'mine,' I refuse to claim them) and then I hit the stair master.

I slapped that thing as hard as I could and it wouldn't budge. The apartment manager must have seen me because she came running in and told me not to mistreat the equipment. C'mon – who's mistreating whom here?

One week I actually made it to the workout room three times. I stayed for about 15 minutes, long enough to do 10 sit-ups, five minutes on the treadmill and 10 steps on the stair master. As the first bead of sweat dripped down my shirt, I figured I had done quite enough for one day.

I never thought I would have to worry about flabby thighs or a bulging tummy when I was young. And, it's getting harder and harder to lose those few pounds I gain each winter. They keep finding new places to attach themselves and never where I can use them the most. Every time I start losing weight I change bra sizes. I have four different sizes in my drawer – a size for each season.

Not long ago, a male friend, whom I hadn't seen in several months, asked me if I didn't think my hips were bigger than they used to be. Luckily, he was not standing within (h)arms length.

Yes, exercise is wonderful, it can turn a soft, flabby body into a body wracked with pain, sore joints and aching muscles!

If I continue at the pace I'm going I might fit into my bathing suit by Labor Day -- no thongs, strings or straps…. But it will have a nice big “skirt” to hide the cellulite!!