About eight years ago, my husband and I moved to the country.
Okay, not “country’ country. We’re one mile from the highway. But it’s a very second-rate highway.
And there’s a sheep farm down the road.
And watching those sheep, and driving around our little patch of rural Connecticut, I have been overcome with desire.
Desire to be a farmer.
And I am positive I would make an outstanding farmer.
Except for one thing.
It’s not the hours. Everyone talks about how you have to get up really early in the morning. But I have turned my cats from nocturnal creatures into dayturnal creatures. They sleep at night now and don’t get up at the crack of dawn. Well, Merlin gets up before dawn, but he is senile. And he’s only up between five and six a.m. He sleeps the other 23 hours. So he doesn’t count. The other cats sleep till seven. They just want to be like me. I am sure the cows would feel the same way.
And it’s not the manure. Shoveling shit is a natural part of life. And I babysat once for my nephew when he had diarrhea. No horse could be worse. Besides, this would be my husband’s job.
Not the aroma. I’ve notice with the neighbor’s sheep that they are not exactly sweet-smelling. But my neighbor is about ninety-five. He doesn’t understand that those sheep just need the right cologne. I recently received a sample of Isaac Mizrahi’s new scent, Fabulous. I think it would be perfect.
Not the field work either. Sure, I’ve seen “Places In The Heart.” But I won’t grow cotton. This is Connecticut. Just vegetables. Right now, I plant my couple of raised beds by hand. With a field, I’ll have a tractor. So…Piece of cake.
And I like weeding. It is a kind of meditation to me. And I can work on my tan at the same time.
The financial struggle doesn’t worry me either. I’ve worked in budgets and finance my whole career. I understand that you have to cover all your costs. My $19.95 cucumbers will be so worth it.
No. there is only one thing that keeps me from taking up farming.
Have you heard those animals?
They are screamers. And for no reason at all.
The llama dealer at the local country fair told us that llamas will scream to protect the other farm animals.
Chickens just like to hear themselves.
You may be thinking that I could move them further away from the house. But our neighbor 10 acres down the lane has chickens – and I can hear them right now. I might, however, re-train my chickens to just quiet down, just like I could train the cows to sleep late. I can shush with some authority. In college, I thought for a while I might make a good librarian.
But back to chickens. I just discovered something about chickens that is intolerable.
My neighbor gave us eighteen eggs last week. Farm fresh – laid that morning.
The eggs have disgusting stuff all over them.
“Don’t wash them until you are ready to eat them,” my neighbor said. “The coating is a natural protection”.
I scrubbed them with a brillo pad and dish soap. For like fifteen minutes.
And I am never touching chicken twat goo again.
My exercise schedule is wearing me out.
Not the exercise.
I readily admit that I am not the busiest person in the world. Every single person with a kid or a grandkid is busier than I am.
How in the world am I supposed to obtain a gorgeous body that my husband will desire and also find time to actually see my husband and give him a chance to desire me?
Never mind keep track of it all.
When I added Zumba to my Yoga practice, I found the perfect (for me) combination. Strength, flexibility and serenity punctuated with sexy calorie-burning abandon.
So for the last year I have gone to Yoga on Monday night, and Zumba on Thursday night and Saturday morning. Busy, but manageable. Complaints from my husband are almost manageable.
Then two weeks ago, my gym decided to cancel the Saturday morning Zumba class. Because they had a great new offering: Boot Camp.
Zumba makes me smile. I am sure that Boot Camp would make me cry.
So I have to change my schedule. My schedule that has worked for me (and almost worked for my husband) for the last year.
The only other Zumba class during non-work hours is Wednesday night. Zumba two nights in a row.
I tried it this week. It worked great, if you don’t count the humongous leg cramp I had at 10PM and then again at 2AM. But I am sure my calves will eventually adjust.
Only Wednesday night is the night I have dinner with my mother. But I can switch Mom to Monday.
Only Monday is Yoga night. But I can switch Yoga to the Saturday morning that is now free because I will not go to Boot Camp.
I attend Yoga at a regular Yoga studio and not the gym. My gym offers Yoga – they even have one of the same teachers from the Yoga studio. But Yoga at the gym is weird. My gym shares a building with the local bowling alley. Their group fitness classes are held on the second floor. Above the bowling alley. When we are Zumba-ing, we are really loud and can’t hear anything else. But Yoga is really quiet and you hear a lot of bowling going on. I end up giggling during Shavasana,
So I pay extra for the correct ambiance.
And my Yoga studio offers a multitude of classes. Four on Saturday mornings.
The only thing is – those Saturday morning classes are either beginner or advanced. My current Monday night class is Intermediate.
It took me eleven years to get out of the beginner’s class. I’m not embarrassed too much about that – Yoga is not a competition. And besides, it just shows how patient I am – which is a fine Yoga quality. But to go back to beginner’s classes after eleven years does hurt a little.
So I am now going to the advanced class. It is Hot Yoga. The studio is heated to about 95 degrees and the Vinyasa (flow) is very challenging. It was a miracle this week that I didn’t puke. But I’m considering that to be a good omen.
But it does induce a slightly non-Yoga attribute: Aggravation. There is not enough parking on Saturday mornings.
There are only two Intermediate classes – on Monday and Wednesday nights. But now I am Zumba-ing on Wednesday. And I’ve moved my mother to Monday. I could move Mom to Tuesday, and go back to Monday Yoga, but then I am not home on
Monday – Yoga
Tuesday – Mom
Wednesday – Zumba
Thursday – Zumba
My husband would not be happy.
So I will stick with Saturday morning Yoga and Monday evening Mama.
And of course I will settle into the new schedule eventually.
But not this week.
Because the gym cancelled the Wednesday night Zumba class.
They need the room for the bowling banquet.
Today I will meander through a couple of little stories, but eventually I will stroll on over to the point.
When I was young I had a secret ambition (which I still have but I’m not young and it’s not a secret) to solve some great mystery. This desire started of course with Nancy Drew books. My name was Nancy. I could eventually drive a roadster. I could solve crime.
But then it got much more serious. Dianna (over at These Days of Mine) reminded me this week. I was twelve when President Kennedy was assassinated. Twelve is the age when your critical hormone develops. I don’t mean ‘critical’ like ‘vital.’ I mean ‘critical’ like ‘criticism.’ Like Cynicism.
And although I may have been a pre-teen who still played with dolls, I also knew that something was very stinky in Dallas.
And I read and read. Over the years, I read every assassination book I could get my hands on. I was determined to solve this thing.
I read conspiracy theories until I dreamt that Lee Harvey Oswald was standing at the foot of my bed. Then I gave it a rest. I switched over to Lizzie Borden. And Sam Sheppard. And then I moved over to Jack The Ripper. Surprisingly, Jack was less nightmare-inducing than Oswald.
Since I got nowhere on any of these unsolved mysteries, I decided to try my hand at some lesser-known cases. When I first got married, my husband told me about his father’s cousin once removed who disappeared. I gave that a few weeks, but there was every indication that the incident was mob-connected, and I figured that I would be better off laying low.
And then I heard about an old prostitute who had been murdered in Connecticut in the 60′s. Her ‘professional’ name was Princess Sahara or Zahara and she was a friend (of sorts) of my husband’s uncle (different from the missing cousin). From what I understand, her murder was never solved, and nobody much even tried to solve it. But since that was about 50 years ago, and I don’t even know what her real name was, I think that particular mystery will have to wait until I retire. It will be an interesting hobby.
Meandering twenty-five years in both directions – 25 years after Kennedy died and 25 years before my present day minor interest in Princess S(Z)ahara – I had accepted a job promotion that I did not particularly want. But hey, you’re supposed to want a promotion, right?
I became the general manager of a small cable TV system. My predecessor, who as far as I know disappeared with my husband’s father’s cousin, had won a corporate contest just before he vanished. He recorded the highest 3-month subscriber gain in his region. and he had won a four-day all-expense paid trip to Bermuda. Only he was no longer the GM. I was. And they gave me his prize. Bermuda in May – for free. I felt guilty as hell – but then again, I had a wonderful time.
And when I got back to Connecticut, I found out that my predecessor had won this prize the old-fashioned way: He cheated.
He had lots and lots of cable subscribers because he hadn’t disconnected anyone. I was stuck with a gazillion backed-up delinquent accounts. Which should have made me feel even guiltier, but it actually alleviated my guilt. Since I paid after all.
Now back to the present.
As an accountant, I should feel that numbers are pure. But given my experience of 25 years ago, I know that numbers can be downright depraved.
As Mark Twain said (or perhaps stole): “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics.”
And with the help of my cable TV experience, I got my childhood wish.
I have solved a mystery.
In the last two months, I have seen a 50% increase in subscribers to my blog.
Wow, I’m popular.
But as I mentioned last week, many of these subscribers do not seem to understand English. Even more curious, they don’t even seem to exist.
And BINGO! I’m back at my my unwanted promotion and undeserved vacation.
Because I have also recently discovered that there are now ADVERTISEMENTS on my blog.
No advertiser pays for an ad that no one sees.
Ads need viewers.
And now I have viewers.
Like fftqizb123 – who just subscribed!
Since I am committed to Improving My Perfections, it is probably not a surprise to you that I love Self-Help stuff.
Books, articles, TV shows. I want to learn the True Secret of Eternal Happiness, and I am sure someone must have found it, and would like to make money off of it. And I will give him some of mine (money, that is, not happiness).
And better yet, a lot of advice is FREE.
That’s wonderful because I don’t have to feel guilty when I don’t take it.
(And doesn’t it make you crazy when people ask your advice and then don’t take it? They’re called Ask-Holes.) (But not me, of course.)
The mecca of Self-Help articles is no longer late night TV infomercials. It is the internet. The internet is a veritable cornucopia of advice (I love that word – Cornucopia – and except for Thanksgiving, I almost never get a chance to use it).
For quite some time I thought that The Internet True Secret of Eternal Happiness had a lot to do with keeping your eyeshadow from creasing.
But then I found that I can get a lot of advice emails besides the ones Self.com.
And I found Huffpost Healthy Living.
I love The Huffington Post. Where else can you go for information on Syria’s chemical weapons and a video of a sloth hugging a cat? The latest Stonehenge theory and Gwyneth Paltrow’s fashion faux pas?
And Huffpost Healthy Living will send you frequent (meaning every thirty minutes) emails with all kinds of wonderful advices.
Even luckier, about 50% of these emails contain articles about reducing stress. Did you know that breathing reduces stress? (Yes, I thought you might.) Sleeping too. Huffpost believes in sleeping. I do too.
But now the bad news.
The other 50% of the articles tell me about all the things I am doing wrong. (I do sleep perfectly.)
For every stress-relieving email there is always a stress-inducing follow-up.
- The 8 germiest things in your kitchen (like a spatula)
- Ten things dirtier than a toilet (like a cell phone)
- The ugly truth about soup (like the sodium)
- Eight ways you’re messing up steak (like using a fork to turn it over)
Oh my God. I stuck a fork in my steak. And I ate soup. And I touched my cell phone. And my spatula has anthrax.
I am so stressed.
And if my anxiety isn’t high enough,
I got this email today:
“Seven French Toast Mistakes.”
Good thing that in less than one-half hour, I will get a stress-reduction email.
When last we met (well, almost every time we’ve met), I discussed a few of my husband’s little quirks. It’s probably my laziest subject – there’s not much challenge here. He has so many quirks and I watch him – and them – incessantly.
But fair is fair, so I figured I should now reveal some of my own little quirks.
I’ve spent days looking for them.
It is the curse of the writer to be so perfect and so normal.
If you are also a WordPress blogger, you may have recently experienced a surge in subscribers of the weirdest kind. Namely, of the nonexistent kind. I now have Followers who appear to be bloggers with no blog. I suppose I should be surprised by this, but in truth, it seems quite fitting that fictitious folk find me fascinating.
And then there are some subscribers who actually write a blog, but on subjects completely without connection to my own. News, Science, Weather. But then again, perhaps the weatherperson not only likes hailstorms but also false eyelashes.
But I digress.
And no, that’s not one of my faults. My digressions are - I’m sure – quite charming.
And anyway, this is not really a digression. There’s a point coming up, just a couple of sentences away.
Two weeks ago I gained yet another mysterious subscriber. This blogger has an actual blog. It purports to be a news site. But mostly it just reblogs some tasteless videos. You have to start somewhere though, so that’s okay. I’m sure you could go from whacked-in-the-nuts videos to the Pulitzer Prize. But I think this blogger might have a better chance of success if he were to try blogging in his own language. That English is not his first language is excruciatingly obvious. And humorous.
Especially as he describes his goal: ” To improve our perfections”.
And see? There’s the relation to this blog.
I can’t find any faults in myself.
But I can see a couple of places where I just might be able to – slightly – improve my perfections.
Like my phone skills.
I am not a phone person. My husband, however, is among the world’s greatest phone persons. I usually let him make my calls for me. I would have him call my girlfriends if I could.
For someone whose head is chock full of ideas I can write about, I can’t seem to think of anything to say when I am on the phone.
My conversation with my Mother goes something like this: ”I’ll come over and we can talk then.”
Because I need to be face-to-face. I can’t talk unface-to-unface.
Because if you can’t see me, I can’t pay attention.
I’m sure I would do okay skyping. Because I’d know you’re watching.
But if I’m invisible, it takes approximately 46 seconds before my mind wanders.
Years ago, I used to watch TV while on the phone. And though you may be a sparkling conversationalist, let me confess: the TV always won.
And now with cordless phones, the possibilities are limitless. I can get a snack, neaten my underwear drawer, play online games, brush the cat, try a new lipstick, or watch one my husband’s annoying quirks.
I had a phone call at the office on Friday. It was important.
But even though there’s a cord attaching me to the phone and the phone to the desk, I can’t remember who it was or what they wanted.
Damn you, Grumpy Cat.
Anyway, if that was you I was not listening to, please don’t call me back. Write me an email.
My mother-in-law raised her boy with a few of her little quirks.
I think I have mentioned before (maybe five or six times) that he never throws anything away. When he gets a new J.C. Whitney catalog, he puts it right besides the seventeen old ones. When I gently (but perhaps not in my inside voice) ask him to throw the old ones away, he responds that he likes to know what things USED to cost.
I can understand. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be able to state (definitely not in his inside voice) how today’s prices are frigging ridiculous.
He also doesn’t throw away receipts. As I have mentioned before (but only two or three times) we have receipts for cat food that our cats ingested so long ago it isn’t even compost anymore.
When we first started living together – which I will admit was about fourteen minutes after we met – I was a bit disconcerted at all the little reminder notes he wrote. And I guess he was worried that he would lose those little scraps of paper, because he had a tendency (which is a nice word for insane compulsion) to tape them to the counter, desk, cabinetry, dashboard.
Then I met his mother. She had little notes taped all over the house. (Yes, and receipts.) I thought to myself, “Okay, this is what my future looks like.” And I was a teensy bit afraid.
But I noticed something interesting. Many of those notes taped by the phone and the sink were little prayers. That old lady had a prayer by the toaster. Endearing, no? So I decided this was a quirk I could live with. And that I might get some really good toast.
On that same day of meeting my future mother-in-law for the first time, she put the kettle on to boil and we all sat down for what I thought would be a nice cup of tea. Only it wasn’t. My mother-in-law served us cups of hot water. I figured I was going to have to cope with some dementia here. But no. All my husband’s relatives have a cup of hot water once in a while. Harmless. But weird.
These little quirks are not so bad. Totally livable.
But there is one little gift from his mom that drives me crazy.
My husband’s mother had a shoe fetish. And I’m not talking about a desire for hot shoes.
She thought barefoot was bad. Really Bad.
My husband was NEVER allowed to run around barefoot.
Couldn’t lounge around the house barefoot either.
And he still can’t.
So what, you say?
It irritates me.
I feel personally insulted by his ever-present footwear.
Last night Hubby got up in the wee hours to wee. (Yes, he’s old too. He doesn’t get up during the night as often as I do, but only because penises extend the bladder capacity somewhat.) Anyway, I saw him stumble towards the bathroom – just a few feet away from the bed – in his slippers.
And in my half-awake state, I still gnashed my teeth.
Is my house so dirty he has to put on shoes to go to the bathroom?
Is he afraid that I left a trail of pee when I went half-an-hour earlier?
You know what’s almost as much fun as doing what you love to do?
Doing what your spouse loves to do.
Doing what my husband likes to do is usually awful.
But once in a while I feel like I should.
It’s not like it was part of my marriage vows or anything. I didn’t stand at the altar and promise to crawl through used-car lots just ‘to see’, or spend five hours in Cabela’s, or watch ice trucking shows.
But on the other hand, there was a vow that someone snuck in there that said ‘For Better or Worse.’
My husband’s idea of fun things to do is definitely part of ‘Worse.’
A few weeks ago we made our annual pilgrimage to the New York International Auto Show.
The Javitz Center has 675,000 square feet. That’s a shitload of cars.
Some are concept cars; some are vintage. There are rare cars. There are minivans. There are gull wings and limos and pickup trucks. Every single one is unique to my husband. every single one is identical to me.
Of course there are some fascinating things to do.
Like sit in one.
People wait in line to sit in a car. My husband is one. And he encourages me to do so.
“Try it,” he says after he gets out of an SUV that looks exactly like ours (and like every other SUV I have ever seen).
So I get in.
And guess what?
It feels …
like I am sitting in A CAR!
One of the best parts of the NY Car show is the food!
Once you enter the show, there is Absolutely No Re-entry. (That’s in BIG LETTERS at every door, and they have about 25,000 doors.)
So you eat in the Food Court. The Food Court is not a court with a judge and jury, but it does have criminals. Like the people who write the signs that say “Fresh” and “Tasty” – or the people who price the water at $4.00.
But I find ways to amuse myself.
Mostly by listening (okay, half-listening) to my husband amuse himself.
Because what he likes best at the car shows is the opportunity to torment the sales reps.
(If I insult your favorite car here, please forgive me. I am just the (food) court reporter.)
To the Lincoln rep he said: “Over the last ten years you guys have eliminated every distinctive feature. Now it looks mostly like a Mopar shitbox.”
To the Toyota rep: “How are you doing with all those lawsuits?”
To the Ford truck rep, whose ‘concept’ truck has a ladder rack that pops up from the tailgate: “This was obviously designed by an idiot who never used a truck, since you can’t get anything out of the bed without taking the ladder off.” (He had a point on this one.)
To the Chevy rep (who was pretty): “You seem to know a little more about this vehicle than most of the morons who work for Chevy.”
To the Jeep rep, who offered my husband a chance to win $45,000 towards the purchase of a Jeep: ”"Hmmm, $45,000 isn’t quite enough to make me want to drive a Jeep.”
Hubby was nice to the BMW guy. (Hubby loves Beemers.) They had a nice long conversation about the wonder of the Beemers, and I didn’t mind because Beemer-guy was very very extra cute.
But the best thing about the New York International Auto Show:
Oh yeah, I get MILEAGE!
He will owe me for MONTHS.
I’m a late bloomer.
Like really late.
I was a cute kid, but in a weird-looking half-elf/half-orphan-from-Ellis-Island sort of cute.
No one would have wanted to cast me in a commercial, although I was hankering strongly to be in one.
“I can do that,” I said to my mother. “I can eat Wonder Bread. I can blow my nose in a Kleenex. I can scream when you pull off my Band-Aid.”
“You don’t live in Hollywood.” said my mother.
And I accepted my residence as the primary impediment to my acting career, and not the fact that I had a face with all my features grouped too close together in the middle, wispy hair and knobby limbs.
I figured I would blossom as a teenager. I remember seeing a well-endowed woman on TV - probably Ann-Margret -
and thought to myself: “Pretty soon I am going to look like that.” It never occurred to me to check out my mother, who is extremely well-endowed in the brain area, but not so much in the chest area.
But my hopes were raised in 1967 when Twiggy dominated the fashion magazines. You could be flat-chested and skinny, and still be pretty.
There was a problem with this concept though – the boys didn’t think so.
It didn’t matter that I cut my hair and drew on some eyelashes. I still looked eleven. And the boys who wanted to date eleven-year-olds were mostly in jail.
I was in college during the Woodstock years. And I tried my best to look the part. But I was trying too hard – I was too concerned with love beads and bell-bottoms as Fashion Statement to look natural as a hippie. I would be hanging out at a poetry reading (Yeah, I did that), wondering if my headband was just the right number of inches from my eyebrows. (And I still looked eleven.)
In my twenties and thirties I concentrated on my career. Power dressing was my specialty. I might have been able to pull it off if I had a power face too.
But my mother’s brain endowment (and my father’s too) did manage to get me ahead, despite the fact that I mostly looked like a little girl dressed as Joan Crawford for Halloween.
And my late-bloomerism continued – I got engaged on my fortieth birthday. And I got married the same year. The short engagement was not due to a pregnancy – it was due to the knowledge that I was going to be a forty-year-old bride. I was NOT going to be a forty-one-year-old bride. I was already seeing gray hair – and that is not a good accessory for a wedding gown.
So that’s when I finally hit my stride.
No, not really.
My career was going really well. I had lots of money for clothes and hair and makeup. So I tried everything. Sometimes pretty good. Sometimes (okay, often) pretty dreadful. And complete change with every season. My husband must have had a little trouble identifying me at times.
But eventually I turned sixty. And 61. And 62.
And guess what?
I got there!
I like my style. I like my hair. I like my makeup. I even like my weird elf-orphan face.
Today at breakfast I could feel my husband staring at me.
So I said in the sweet voice of the long-married:
And he said:
“I never would have guessed that you would become such a beautiful old lady.”
We haven't had much snow this Winter (Autumn, however, was ridiculous).
We had a little snow last weekend, and as I looked out over the slope of our backyard, I thought about sledding. And the image of sledding always reminds me of...
When I was about ten, I became friends with a girl in my class. Maureen only lived two blocks away.
But definitely peeved as all get out.
Does anyone even used the term “all get out” anymore? If not, then THAT peeves me too.
I have had a very peevish week.
It started last Saturday. I ran into Target to buy the Easter equivalent of stocking-stuffers for the little ones in my family. I knew they were already getting enough candy. I took pity on the Moms and Dads and didn’t add to the sugar-high. But I couldn’t have nothing either. So I had a cart full of cheap toys. And in aisle 3, I met up with my Zumba teacher. And she said,
“Buying gifts for the grandchildren?”
Now the fact that I am old enough to be a grandmother (my sister has four) is beside the point. I decided last year that I would be 46 instead of 62. Doesn’t Zumba-girl notice how I waggle my butt to Shakira? That I have cool pants and blond hair? That I wear my eye-makeup and lipgloss to class? That I check my cell-phone before we start? That I haven’t fainted since week 2? How could she assume that I am a grandmother? Geez.
And that was only Zumba-annoyance number one.
At the gym this week, we Zumbaists were informed that the Saturday morning class was being replaced. The biggest determinant of whether you will stick with your exercise program is how much you like it. I have been practicing Yoga for eleven years, and I appreciate it a lot. But when I found Zumba, I knew I found the love of my life. I may feel serenity and accomplishment in Yoga; but I rarely smile in class. (well, maybe when someone farts in downward dog). But in Zumba, every time I watch myself in the mirror (which is constantly, of course), I am smiling. Big, goofy smiling.
And so what are they replacing my Saturday morning class with?
What are the odds that boot camp will make me smile?
So I am even more annoyed.
There’s only one cure for that.
I decided to treat myself to a present from one of the pricey-pricey stores in the center of town. I live in Litchfield, Connecticut, which is a bit of a tourist destination. With a quaint Norman Rockwell green lined with artsy little shops whose duty it is to
soak serve the tourists. And there are some choice choices. So I went into the best store in town. And the jeans were on sale! “50% off”, according to the sign! Oh boy! I was going to get some designer jeans with designer holes in the knees! There was a pair in my size - faded to almost white! I was so excited! (see all the exclamation points???!!!!!) And I checked the tag. Regular retail price: $565.00.
I drove to TJ Maxx. I tried on new fitness clothes. After all, I still have one smile-making Zumba class and my less-thrilling but nice Yoga. I found some great capri fitness pants with a little gather at the shin. Cute cute. And there was an adorable top to match. And it was sexy and TIGHT.
I am NOT a Grandma.
And then I couldn’t get it off. My shoulders were stuck. I almost had to walk out with the damn thing around my head and my boobs peeking out, and beg the number-ticket-lady to help me out of my sexy clothes.
Maybe I should go back and buy some jeans. I could borrow against my 401K.