Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Future and The Past

Tomorrow is 2015.


Doesn't that sound like the Future? It does to me.

And 2014, which used to sound like the Future, will soon be in the long-ago past.

Speaking of 2014, let's take a look at it, shall we?













Now that is what I call a self-respecting year.

Happy New Year, my people. Let's live the hell out of 2015, shall we?

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

uncle Merv is out and about

We've been on the road since Boxing Day, and Uncle Merv has got some great stories for the likes of you! Sorry that you'll have to wait until I'm back on an actual computer to transcribe the tales! Pizza's here, smell ya later =\

Pismo Beach, 12/27/14. Pre-rescue. 

Monday, December 29, 2014

Gym and I

Well I did it. I went to the gym. I honestly can't remember how long it's been since I've been to my local 24-Hour Fitness, although I know I've been paying for it since the late 1980s. I have my monthly statements to prove it, so knew they'd have to let me in, regardless of the gaping lapse in time.

It'd had been so long, however, that they had a hard time finding me in the system. They urged me to reach into the deep, dusty recesses of my brain and come up with the phone number to my landline in the house that I moved out of more than 7 years ago, I may have burst a few thought bubbles trying to reach it, but I did it.

But in truth it was many, many years before then that I last went to the gym. I started practicing yoga almost 12 years ago, so it was prior to then. Suffice it to say. It was a LONG time ago, and it was strange to be back. Strange because it was a big, heaping dose of deja vu; decades had past, but it felt, looked, and smelled almost same. At least upstairs, where you enter. I mean, don't get me wrong, it was much bigger than the last time I visited. The downstairs has probably doubled in size. It was so big, in fact, that I actually got lost. I couldn't find the spin room, Instead, even with instructions from the front-desk staff, I found myself in a giant room filled with all manner of machines and free weights with big muscly people grunting and checking themselves out in the mirror. I had a brief moment of  panic but then remembered that I wasn't required to have a boob job or a minimum bench press of 100 lbs to gain entrance (or to leave, thank god).

I just ditzily smiled and ran-walked the hell out of there, into the smaller, louder hell of the spin room. The teacher seemed really old to me, which gave me some hope, and she was really great about helping me get my bike set up. My friend Shannon, who is actually a gym friend of Jacquie's, met me there to also lend a hand with set up and to provide moral support.

Once the class started it was mostly distracting to have her next to me though, her legs peddling at a frequency much more rapid than mine, and without pause. She seemed to relish the sprints and hills and, well, all of the never-ending wheel rotation. I instead mostly looked at the somewhat overweight couple in the back row, who were still kicking my ass, but only by a little bit.

I discovered that I have a hard time not singing while spinning. I have a hard time with this in the yoga studio too, but the music there is not quite so pumping, and rarely as loud. In fact, I can't remember the last time I heard Michael Jackson's Don't Stop Till You Get Enough during a yoga class. This quirk of mine may have annoyed Shannon, but I had to get her back somehow anyway.

At minute 10, before the hard stuff had even begun, I could not fathom the idea of staying on that bike for another 50 minutes. But I did it. I sang and lip-synced my way through the entire class. A class, that I might add, I found plenty challenging, but which Shannon informed me afterward was sub par, and which she posted about on Facebook:

Not all spin classes are created equal 
— at 24 Hour Fitness - Point Loma, CA.
Thank god for that is all I can say. As the saying goes, one woman's disappointing spin class is another woman's salvation. Someone is definitely looking out for me. (Thank you, Ganesha.)

I'm not sure if I'll spin again or not. Lord knows my ass could use it. I'm holding off judgement until tomorrow to see both how my ass and legs, and, more importantly, my shoulder (the lingering injury being the only reason I'm there in the first place) feel.

If I do go back, I'll remember my athletic shoes next time.  I won't have to drive back home to switch out my flops for Nikes (which are almost as old as the last time I visited the gym). And I'm all set up for the cardless check in too; all I need is my current phone number, which I do actually have committed to memory, and my index finger.

So both a step into the future and a blast from the past for me this morning. Mostly I'm feeling dejected about being back, but, hey, if I can't hang with spin, I could actually take it all the way back, I'm talking back-in-the-day back, because I kid you not, there was an actual, honest-to-god step aerobic class going on as I exited.

Yay for the gym!

Let's get physical

Friday, December 26, 2014

May We Wish You . . .

. . . and yours.

Merry. Happy. Joyful. Love. Peace.

Thursday, December 25, 2014


Merry, Merry Christmas to our lovely little corner of the universe, and beyond!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

O Christmas tree

I have to admit that I am a bit conflicted about Christmas trees. On the one hand, I love them. They are so lovely and they smell divine --  a little piece of Mother Nature right in your very own home. However, watching the machine that is the "Christmas tree lot," is mind boggling.

Just how many trees are cut down each year in November and December, only to be thrown out in December or January? I know that some people make their living doing this, but geez, it's A LOT of trees.

I suggested a fake tree, a worse abomination in some ways, but perhaps the better call, environmentally, if you're going to use it for 10+ years? But don't worry, I was quickly and noisily drowned out by a small chorus of "NOs." And yeah, deep down, where it counts, I guess I have to agree.

So, a Christmas tree. We got one again this year. And unsurprisingly, we decorated it. Me mostly, while the kids ransacked the boxes of ornaments, pulling them out for a quick nostalgic moment, only to just as quickly cast them aside, all over the sofa. (Be careful! becoming my mantra.)

So there you have it. A decorated tree. Again this year. End of story, right?

It should be, but I couldn't help noticing that so many other decorated trees have a totally different look and feel than does ours. There are so many picture-perfect trees shining through neighbors' front windows, color coordinated with lofty, illuminated angels; trees with judiciously chosen ornament themes; trees wrapped with "cascading tendrils of colorful ribbon"; trees all over the place that Martha would be be willing to lay claim to.

Here's the big tree over there at that fancy Coronado hotel.

It is both color coordinated and has an ornament theme.

Which is apparently weird, white Santas.

I even saw a tree, and I won't name names here, where the tree ornaments matched the wrapping paper underneath! (Oh, actually I see that they do in the photo above too, but I was referring to someone I know's home.)

Am I doing it wrong?

With my tinfoil covered cardboard star?

And my ornaments from my and my children's childhoods?

With ornaments actually dating as far back as 1906 because my mom gave me all of her ornaments from her life as well.

(Although I think this one is actually from the late 1940s)
With myriad ornaments that take me right back to Christmases past spent with since-divorced spouses.

Circa the Michael years.

And the fewer Tommy years.
With it's photo ornaments that forever preserve my babies as, well, babies.

Hmm, are there only two of these? 

But still with ample room left to fit new ornaments from life's ever-ongoing momentous occasions.

Turtles commemorating my mom's 70th birthday in Maui this year

My mom actually had a fancy tree period, while with my step dad. He ordered gold plated(?) ornaments that came in fancy boxes with velvet lining, and I must admit, their decorated tree was stunning. (You can see an example of an ornament above, to the left of the turtles.) But somehow, it wasn't quite right. It was devoid of something. It didn't have that, yeah-it's-crazy-messy-life-and-some-of-it-is-falling-apart-and-gaudy-while-other-parts-are-shiny-and-full-of-love feel. If you know what I mean.

It's pretty to have a put-together tree. It would be pretty to have a put-together life, but me, well, I guess I'm going more for the keeping-it-real look. The good with the bad, the successes with the failures, the one-winged angel with the popsicle-stick tree.

Our tree, well, it might not be pretty, but it's organic. And as we all know from biting into that deformed, bulbous, home-grown, juicy organic tomato, those are the very best kind.

Merry Christmas to all. xoxo


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Better to Give *and* to Receive

The other day Mistah went Christmas shopping and bought himself a bunch of stuff. I said, "Dude, aren't you supposed to be shopping for other people?"

He replied, "You know that expression? It's better to give than to receive? Well, I like to give and to receive."

Atta Schelckah.

I've got to tell you, though. I'm not that good at giving or receiving. I like presents, of course I do, but I'm terrible at them. I'm terrible and giving and I'm terrible at receiving.


I like Christmas Trees . . .

and I like Christmas cards . . .

and I like Christmas lights . . .

and I like Christmas parties . . .

and okay, yesterday I delivered a present and, well, I liked giving.

And now? I am ready to receive.

Monday, December 22, 2014

ice, ice, baby

 A couple of nights ago, I found myself sitting with a friend and a glass of wine at a bar whose top review on Yelp said simply: "Oh my God. No."  It was at the mall. The waitresses wore tiny kilts and tinier shirts. Boobage abounded and we female patrons really weren't the key demographic during what turned out to be a very exciting Saturday night NFL game. We sat and talked and sipped and made lists for the surgical strike we were plotting against bed, bath, and beyond. Right next to our table, there was an odd sight to behold... an ice skating rink! Really small, really square, really weird. I guess that's the thing now, though. People with no business being on ice like to shell out $20 to fall down in front of a bar full of people at the mall. It's a mad, mad, mad, mad world. It brought me fond memories of other days on other ice rinks, though. Like this one:

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Oh, I've got photos

What's that you say, Ellie? You hope that someone has photos of the ice rink in Millennium Park?

Oh yes, sister. I've got photos!

As Ellie alluded, our massive group had plans to divide and conquer the windy city that day. Although I wept with angst every time anyone left me, ever, I managed to pull it together enough to capture at least one shot of our smaller group on yon side of the ol' beanie weanie.

Body language translation: only chumps choose bookstores/bars/museums over skating!

Ellie and Jane (I think) carried a combined total of eight pairs of skates during the bean adventure; it wasn’t until much later that someone had the brilliant epiphany that everyone could  technically carry his or her own pair.

Have you ever seen a more adorable glimmer of joyful anticipation?!

We were thankful to have that huge assortment, because the line for skate rental would have required endurance of an hour or longer in the frigid cold.We had ourselves a joyful glimmer, but many among us were grasping it by threads.

Aside: note the difference between those who own flattering headgear for long term endurance of the season and those who grab whatever is made of fleece, thinking: "Fuck my good looks, it's cold!"

We smugly eschewed the rental line and went into a wretched little room equipped with benches to select whichever skates we could find to fit our respective tootsies. Mine were perfect, but Jane sported a size 9 men’s hockey skate on her wee size 7 geisha feet! This room was a cesspool of humanity, mostly inhabited by children bellowing MOM MOM MOM MOM MOM MOM MOM MOM MOM and moms sweetly suggesting that the beckoning children stifle themselves or face their untimely demise.

We finally got everyone into skates and toddling precariously toward the ice, so very eager to test our talent and the ankles that in youth had never let us down. At the exact moment we prepared to set off, the whistle blew, indicating that it was time for the Zamboni.

I swear, it was the same guy who used to torture us at Crystal Rink, in conspiracy with the evil lifeguards who enforced adult swim at Shorehaven. I wished ferverently for a rotten tomato in hand to chuck at the Zambonista’s fool head. It took just under 75 bazillion hours for him to adequately encircle the ice until it sparkled and shone like … um, ice.

And then, we were off:

Is that the unibomber?

My girl cried in despair the whole time, despite the fact that she was literally being carried aloft by her mother and her aunt. This smile appeared only when we had agreed to let her stop and I told her: "I hope you'll make this a good memory, because you did really well and it was fun."

If only we could see her ginormous feet.

This guy considered himself the king of the rink.

He even offered to teach his younger cousin how it's done. Although I'm not exactly sure that shouting: "just go fast!" is technically considered teaching...
Through it all, my girl Ellie and I wore huge grins, marveling at the muscle memory that escorted us around and around on that little freezing patch of ice in the middle of Chicago. It was so fun! We never left the rink, the two of us, until absolutely everyone else had disappeared back into the pit of despair to de-skate and wait. They were patient, though. One of the greatest things about that week together was how patient everyone was with each other, each person allowing the other to indulge in her own winter midwest adventures without judgment or ire. Ellie and I loved that skating, and we stayed 'til the bitter end and then took a moment to try and capture the happy with a self portrait:

Here's where the grumpy people in line for skates could have come in handy to help us by taking a shot, but they were too grumpy. 
When it was finally time to leave, it was c-c-c-c-coooooold. The smart thing would have been to hightail it over to our warm cars and head back to Jane's warm house. But we were right there in the middle of the city, and Jane, Ellie and I were in agreement that we should make at least a rudimentary attempt to find a nearby pitstop.

Less than two blocks away, there was a bakery, with cocoa and cookies but tragically,  no pie:

Guess who quipped: "What kind of bakery doesn't have pie?"
I may or may not have fallen UP the stairs in that bakery.

But the best part was that two doors down was the Chicago institution, Miller's Pub, where polite young gentlemen gave us their barstools and Damien gave us big people our drinks:

Photo by Damien

Friday, December 19, 2014

A common Jewish blessing *

I'm pretty sure I've whined about my shoulder/arm injury on this blog before. Probably more than once. But you know, it's so interesting to hear other people's complaints, isn't it? Especially when it's about their failing, sad human bodies.

I know! It's riveting. So you're welcome in advance.

But really, I'm not so much going to complain about my pain, or my disappointment and irritation at my body and its limitations, but talk about what has come about since I decided to do something about said pain.

You'll hear many a yogi say something like, "My injury was such a blessing, it taught me so many things, for instance, blah, blah, blah, and more blah." And while that sounds like total bullshit, on some levels this has been true for me.

I don't feel as though the pain itself has taught me shit, other than getting old sucks. Not an especially feel-good sentiment, brilliant insight, or something you would feel compelled to share with anyone.

However, my quest to try to remedy my injury has led me to some new people, who I have very much enjoyed getting to know, and who I think I may know for some time to come.

I definitely found a new teacher, which is exciting. He knows a lot about the human body. He's been a masseuse for more than 15 years and is also a decades' long yogi and co-owner of a yoga studio (with his wife, also a lovely person) and active yoga teacher. He teaches upwards of 10 classes a week, plus privates, etc. He's helping me rehab my shoulder using a TRX system and has been generally all around helpful.

Fine, good, whatever. But don't stop reading yet, because these facts are only setting the scene, this is not what I want to share. Instead what I want to offer up is something he told me the first time I went in for a massage. In the course of our conversation he told me, in total, complete, President-during-the-Sate-of-the-Union-Address seriousness, that he plans to live to be 120.

120? Years old?!? Really? Now, I can say with complete confidence that he is the first and only person to ever say that to me.

I mean, 120?

Is that aiming high, or just plain crazy talk?

Who wants to live that long anyway?

But this goal of his, well, it shapes his life. He is in it for the long haul. At 50 he's not even half of the way there. Therefore, it stands to reason that he does not view himself as old. Shit, he has a decade until he reaches the start of middle age. Kind-of refreshing. (Or total coo-coo nutzoid.)

I was pretty much speachless upon hearing the news, but the next week when I saw him again, after having had time to contemplate his crazy life plan, I asked him what his wife thought about his goal. His reply was something like, "She doesn't share my in my enthusiasm."

Ha, well, I can't say I'm surprised. But I can say that it is one of the most thought-provoking things I've heard from anyone in a long time. Maybe we should all be living our lives like we're gonna be supercentenarians.... I'd probably need to make a few changes, how about you?

*I guess in Judism, "May you live to be 120 years old," is a common blessing, which I did not know prior to writing this post.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Pub Crawling

Well, we did find ourselves in Westerly after our walk on the beach last weekend. Why wouldn't we avail ourselves of that lovely little town's lovely pubs and bars?

A stranger's table and his olive oil. Mistah loved the light.


We had heard a motley crew of 15 or so had taken the train from New London to Westerly -- about a 20 minute ride -- that morning for "Christmas Shopping". Everywhere we went the bartenders were texting eachother about the crew's location. Westerly may never be the same.

See Miles in the reflection?

Kind of Blue, and the Epitome of Cool.

More signs of New Londoners in Westerly.

Our favorite.

Who knew cheddar and jalapeno stuffed pretzels could be so fabulous?

I'm a new fan of the cool little city across the river -- thanks for the Rhode Island fun, Westerly.