every girl needs a greek chorus

a blog about hope


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Simple Gifts for a Not-so-Simple Woman

A surprise in the leaves

A surprise in the leaves

So…I’m sitting on my deck on the first sunny day in a good long while, when I hear an occasional buzzing near my head.  I sit up and look for horseflies or wasps or bumblebees.  Nothing.  I sit back and return to my book.

Thirty seconds later, the buzzing returns.  Still, no flying insects.

“Hmmm,” I say to My BFF, “Sounds like a hummingbird.”  I’m perplexed, because I don’t have a hummingbird feeder, and there are no blooming plants.  Must be a large hornet of some kind.  I look up into the dogwood branch hanging over my head, and there it is, a small hive-shaped nest.

“Uh-oh.”  I put the BFF in the house and carefully examine the nest, when, suddenly, something rushes past my head.  A dull-colored hummingbird.

I am beside myself with happiness and rush into the house for a stepladder.  How incredible is it, that there could be a hummingbird nest on my deck?  The BFF watches as I drag the ladder outside.  I can tell by the look on her face that she thinks I’m losing it.  I set up the ladder and climb it with my cellphone, because I won’t be tall enough to see inside the nest — if it is a nest — but, with my arm extended, the cellphone will have a clear shot at it.  I take the first blurry shot, and there they are, two little hummingbird eggs.  My eyes tear up.  So serene.  So perfect.

And then The Shrew in my head pipes up,  “Are you crazy?  Do you know how you’re going to look to the EMTs when they find your lifeless body on the deck when you fall off this ladder?  Your lifeless, 63-year old body wearing a black bikini?  Have you no shame?”

Simple gifts

Simple gifts

“I need a shot that isn’t blurry,” is what I’m thinking.

I move the ladder to the other side and shoot again.  This time, the picture is in focus, as is my headless torso, the deck, the ladder, and my chair.  I get down and sit back on my chair.  The little hummingbird flits back and forth but doesn’t come back to the branch.  When it rests, it sits on a wire of my television antenna and looks down at me.  We are both a little dumbfounded.  The hummingbird by the scary woman.  The woman by life.  If I were an ordinary, sane, rational woman, I might be amused and check the little nest daily until the chicks hatch and fly away.

I, on the other hand, am plagued by “The Meaning of Life.”  What does it mean that a hummingbird nest has appeared to me?  Is that routine?  Does everyone have a hummingbird nest hanging over their decks?  Or, in the lunacy that is my life, does it just remind me that, as the medieval mystic, Julian of Norwich, said, “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well”?

It also begs the question, why would I be so stupid as to post a picture on the internet of my headless 63-year old torso wearing a bikini?  That one’s easy.  It’s a great shot of the nest, and the photo is taken at such an odd angle that my body is completely distorted.

What have I learned?  I’ve learned that the key to a good swimsuit photo is, apparently, to stand on a ladder with your arm extended three feet over your head, thereby elongating the torso, removing folds, wrinkles, and stretching the skin as good as a plastic surgeon would.

God made me smile today, so, who am I to complain?  Life is good (mostly).  Soli Deo Gloria!


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Attraction Satisfaction Survey

Attraction Satisfaction Survey-page-0

Everybody has an “Exit Survey” now.  You get your car’s oil changed, and they email you a “How Did We Do?” survey.  You spend two hours and 12 minutes on the phone with your cable company only to be told that they can’t restore your service, and they send you a “Customer Satisfaction” survey.   [I made that up from the anecdotal reports of my family and friends.  I can’t get no internet satisfaction in my neighborhood.]  Even two centuries ago, the entertainment industry was asking.  “Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the show?”

I’m thinking of creating an “Exit Survey” for my online dates.  You know, how could I have been a better date, so I provide better service to others in the future?

For instance, am I a boring dresser?  I’ve been told that I still have my “dancer’s legs,” so I try to wear a dress or skirt on a date, except once in the winter when it was really cold, and I wore leggings with a fitted, knit tunic, and booties.  Another time, I wore a small fuzzy pink turtleneck with a faux black leather skirt, black tights, and the same black booties, which I thought was really hot, but, then, the date was so boring that I was dejected that I had wasted a hot outfit on a not-so-cool guy.  Ditto a short skirt with gray suede high-heeled boots, which got a rave from the hostess at the restaurant but nary a word from my date.

Of course, I thought those outfits were hot, but, I’m a woman, so I only know what other women think is hot.  The joy of having a long-term spouse is that they A). don’t notice and B). think everything you do is hot.  The Veterinarian didn’t care much one way or the other.  He once said that I dressed better than his mother, the implications of which are pretty unsettling, even 40 years later.

How much is too much make-up?  I don’t wear a lot on a typical day, usually just lipstick to keep my lips from sticking to my teeth.  My eyes are deep-set, and I’ve always had a problem with mascara.  My eyelashes smack around my eye sockets every time I blink, so the mascara ends up making those raccoon circles around my eyes.  I trained The Veterinarian and The Daughter to alert me when I needed to tidy them up, but, alas, now I am on my own, so I quit wearing mascara.  As the years roll by, I’ve noticed that my eyes are disappearing, so, when I don’t want to look like one of the pale portraits of Elizabeth I,  I haul out the eyeliner and mascara and blame the smudges on the “smokey-eye” look.  Hmmm…it could also make me look like I just rolled out of bed, couldn’t it?

Fashion victim

Fashion victim

I always make sure I wear 3-4” heels, because the only thing I lie about in my dating profile is my height.  5’ ½” just sounds unbelievably short, even to me, like a perky rodent or something.  My profile says I’m 5’ 2”, which I’ve always used when I go on auditions, for the same height reason.  Last week, I went on a lunch date in 4” wedges, all the while envisioning myself face-planted on the floor of the restaurant, like I had been almost three years to the day earlier on my 60th birthday.  The EMTs told me that I was the third fashion victim to take a ride in their ambulance that day.  I fell off my 4” platform wedges and fractured my patella (knee-cap) in two places and spent the summer in a brace.  Happy Birthday, Old Lady!

Do you drink alcohol on a date or not?  I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t get sloppy drunk on one glass of wine, but I’m picky about the wine that I drink and don’t want to stick the date with a $12 glass of pinot noir.  I’d rather drink iced tea, since I don’t drink beer.  And hard liquor?  I think that sends the wrong message at lunch time, don’t you?  PLUS, I spent years warning The Daughter about the risks of leaving a glass unattended on a bar, a magnet for all kinds of “date drugs.”  I don’t want to explain to her how I fell victim to that old ploy.  Do senior citizens drug their Old Lady dates?  For what?  To watch them fall off their shoes?

Is my vocabulary too obscure?  I was IM-ing a prospective date the other day and used the word “ephemeral.”  He texted back, “I have a graduate degree and don’t know what that word means.  Here’s my number.  Call me tomorrow, if you want to talk.  I have to go let my dog out.”  Yikes!  Don’t need an exit survey for that one.

I laugh at my date’s jokes, even when they’re not funny.  I try to keep my own info light and funny.  I don’t talk about my late husband unless I’m specifically asked, and even then, I don’t cry or appear maudlin, because, well, I’m not maudlin.  I don’t comment on politics or religion or sex, which no date has ever mentioned to me.  Must be the racoon eyes.  Well, at least they know what I look like in the morning.

Speaking of s-e-x, how much physical contact do you have on a first date with a stranger?  Every one of the men has given me a hug, which seemed innocent enough, especially when I was wearing a coat.  No one groped me or anything like that.  And, how do you end the date?  That never gets easier.  What do you say?  A handshake?  Another hug?  A kiss?  If I say, “Let’s keep in touch” because I mean it, it sounds so vacuous.  Everyone says, “Let’s keep in touch,” even when we know that we don’t ever want to see one another again.  I always send a “thank you” email, which seems polite.  If they respond to that, it might be a favorable sign…or not.  Maybe it’s just best not to be polite and cut things off quick and, relatively, painless.

And I haven’t figured out, yet, if there is an appropriate point on a first date to say, “What, exactly, am I doing wrong that you keep looking at your cellphone every five minutes?”  Maybe they’re coordinating their next dates.  It’s a known fact that women over the age of 50 outnumber men that age 2 to 1, which is why we can’t find anyone to date us.  We’re overdating them, wearing them out, and killing them!

Well, every woman for herself!  I need to fine-tune my game-plan to remain competitive, and the “Attraction Satisfaction Survey” may just give me the ammunition I need.  If not, maybe I can come up with a “Frequent Dater” loyalty program.  Naw, I can’t think of any benefits I’d be willing to award.

Attraction Satisfaction Survey-page-0

Thank you for taking the time to help me perfect my dating technique, as I aim to be the best darn drinking/dining/hiking/traveling companion for all your reasonable dating needs!  Your honest critique will provide a valuable service to women everywhere!

On a scale of 1 to 5, your overall satisfaction with our date was _______.

You found that my written online profile was…

  1. the funniest profile you ever read.
  2. the snarkiest profile you ever read.
  3. completely misleading.
  4. enigmatic.
  5. None of the above.

When we met, your first impression was, “She looks…

  1. …nothing like her photo.”
  2. …like she sleeps in her car.”
  3. …like she just rolled out of bed.”
  4. …shorter than a 5th grader.”
  5. …like my ex-wife’s poodle.”

While we chatted, you kept wishing that I had…

  1. shown more cleavage.
  2. laughed harder at your jokes.
  3. been dumber than a 5th grader.
  4. stood you up.
  5. All of the above

Geographically, I…

  1. am too far away.
  2. am too close for comfort.
  3. am undesirable.
  4. am an alien.
  5. couldn’t be found on a map by a 5th grader.

I (at age 63) most closely resemble which of these gorgeous, mature ladies…

  1. Goldie Hawn (69)
  2. Susan Sarandon (68)
  3. Jessica Lange (64)
  4. Christie Brinkley (61)
  5. None of the above

On a first date, I should wear…

  1. more make-up.
  2. less make-up.
  3. higher heels.
  4. a 5th grade Girl Scout uniform.
  5. a bag over my head.

When ordering while on a date, I should…

  1. skip the appetizer and go for the main course.
  2. offer to share a single entrée.
  3. choose the cheapest thing on the menu.
  4. drink more alcohol.
  5. not ask the server to “card” me.

If I have my own money, I should…

  1. pay my share.
  2. fight for the check.
  3. let my date pay.
  4. skip out while you’re “sharpening your skates.”
  5. put a twenty in your pants.

From a male perspective, I most likely…

  1. can’t attract a man smarter than a 5th grader.
  2. am the scariest woman you’ve ever met.
  3. will be sued eventually for defamation.
  4. will never hear from you again.
  5. All of the above

Finally, would you recommend me to a friend or family member? ______

Actually, I don’t need an exit survey to tell me that my customer attraction factor is really low.  But my dog adores me, so, who am I to complain?  Life is good (mostly).  Soli Deo Gloria!


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Fashionable Foolishness

Scarlett and her personal assistant

Scarlett and her personal assistant

This morning, The Daughter sent me an article about “waist trainers.”  Because she is a medical professional, it was an article using quotes from physicians debunking the latest fashion fad.  That’s right, you women who just got used to Spanx, corsets have been revived to give us an hour-glass shape, because — listen carefully — “men are attracted to women with hips.”

Pardon me while I put down my mug of sweetened tea and laugh myself silly.  I love to start my day with a good laugh!    If men are looking for women with big hips, then I’ve been highlighting the wrong body parts in my dating profile photos.

Although I’ve already written about accepting the girth of my hips (“How I learned to love my hips”) and the pudginess of my tummy, I just have to throw in two more cents’ worth of commentary.

This new lunacy is touted by those Krazy Kids in Calabasas, California who have turned their own questionable life-style into a national media frenzy.  Middle-aged women (including you, KKs), who already have enormous hips and thighs, are popularizing corsets to “train their waists and lose their pregnancy fat.”  As the physicians and nutritionists in the article rightly point out, and as any other middle-aged woman can tell you, you can stuff your gut into tight jeans and lay on the floor to get them zipped, but, when you stand up, there’s going to be a new roll of unpleasantness mocking you with the name “Muffin top” between your breasts and your waist.  It’s gotta go somewhere, above or below, but it ain’t going away, regardless of your age, your bank account, or your celebrity.

Why not just have some of your ribs removed?  That would be easier and, in the long run, way more comfortable.  Who needs those ribs, anyway?  They just protect vital internal organs that no one sees, a minor detail. When you squish your guts around, you impede your digestion, and  I don’t know about you, but I find acid reflux to be an unpleasant side effect.  The article also says that constricting your lungs makes breathing more difficult (duh), leading to pulmonary ailments.  This illustration from the Irish Examiner shows you better than I can tell you.

It's all gotta go somewhere.

It’s all gotta go somewhere.

We get mixed messages from the media, don’t we?  On the one hand, they parade diet trends and unrealistic fashion standards before us, and, on the other, we are told not to criticize ourselves or others because we don’t fit these standards.  “Be the authentic you!”  They shout.  If I hear the words “authentic you” one more time, I’m going to show someone the “authentic me” and unleash World War III.

No, for the love of God, don’t be the authentic you.  Who I want to be or who I think I am is not necessarily who I should be.  I’m a shorter-than-average 63-year old woman who has a soft middle, regardless of the number of crunches that I do.  No waist trainer, no surgery of any kind is going to change that.  Should someone provide me with free Louboutin shoes because I think I would be happier if I were taller and more chic?   Should someone give me a television show because I think I’m the most fascinating woman in the world?  (Well, probably, since most everyone else has one.)

Fortunately, I surround myself with people who remind me to have some self-respect and dignity.  That I am not the center of any universe, including my own.  To be prayerful and introspective, to change the things that I should change and to accept the things that I cannot.  It’s called discernment, which I desperately need to practice, because my ideas can be pretty wacky, and that Shrew who lives in my head cannot be trusted.

Remember Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind, that politically incorrect classic about mid-19th century US history?  After Scarlett gave birth to her first child, she braced herself with her bedpost while her personal assistant (in this day and age, a more “pc” title than the character’s actual name) tightened her corset.  She was trying to regain her 18-1/2” waist, but the best that her “assistant” could manage to pull in was 20”.  A 20” waist…can you imagine?  Nope, I don’t think my waist has ever been that small.  I think it might have been 24″ when I was a 90-pound teenager, but that was so long ago, and my memory is so bad that I am most likely mistaken.  Which brings me to my point, as Scarlett’s personal assistant tells her, she has lost her girlish waist by having a child, by being a woman.  We are no longer girls, no matter how much we may look back fondly at a fleeting moment in our lives.  And I, for one, frankly don’t give a damn.

DATE UPDATE:

Yesterday, I read that Jerry Seinfeld and other comedians will no longer perform at college campuses because the academic environment is too “politically correct,” which seems to be a complete reversal of what was going on when I went to college.  In my day, we questioned everything.  Humor was used to examine life’s fallacies without condemnation.  Now, they condemn us if we don’t all think the same way.  And what “way” would that be?  Who is the new standard of perfection?  The vegan tri-athlete who says “anything goes, unless I don’t like it?”  The wildlife hunter who says “anything goes, unless I don’t like it?”

I think this is the problem with the online dating format.  Most people are trying to be inoffensive and end up saying nothing about themselves.  There is no nuance.  We present facts about ourselves by answering a series of questions, and, ironically, facts don’t tell us anything.  He’s short.  He has a motorcycle.  He likes to work out.  He likes to eat at home. He’s never going to tell you that he’s human and sometimes cranky or over eats or has bad knees or is sometimes too “tired” for sex.  I get that.  I, too, am unbelievably human and flawed, which is reflected in my written profile and undoubtedly why I haven’t had any luck.  I’m not selling an idealized vision of who I am.

Last week, I came across a perfect combination of honesty and self-aggrandizement, a man exactly my age, right down to the same birth month.  He claims to be an Ivy-league graduate, a professional by day and a musician by night.  His profile photo shows a good-looking middle-aged man with mirrored shades and a hipster haircut, and other photos show him with his colleagues in business attire, playing with his band in t-shirt and jeans, and several more where he is surrounded by glamorous young women.  I was amused and perplexed and intrigued.  Who is this guy?  Not, his name, but what kind of human is he?

He says he’s looking for an “adult relationship” with someone who “gets the concept of ‘living in the moment’ [sic]” and discourages women who are separated or are aged 25-30 and looking for someone “35-85 within 2500 miles.”  I looked at the age preferences of this 63-year old man…”42-50 within 25 miles.”  I burst out laughing and wrote to him, “Is this profile for real, or is it a parody?”  I wasn’t looking for an answer, but I just can’t believe he’s for real, no matter how literate and hilarious his profile may be.  He’s probably looking for a woman who uses a waist trainer.

Now that I reconsider the matter of personal authenticity, I hope my next date does bring his “authentic self” along when we first meet.  I don’t want any surprises, and I reserve the right to determine if his “authentic self” doesn’t match my values and standards, which, after all, make up my authentic self and are every bit as valid as his.

We all want to be loved just the way we are.  Your waist may be smaller than mine.  Your hips may be bigger.  Your fashion sense or taste in men may differ.  I may disagree with you, but I will love you.  And if you don’t love me back, that’s ok, too.  I have my own friends, so who am I to complain?  Life is good (mostly).  Soli Deo Gloria!


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Twins

geminiAngelina Jolie and I have more in common than you might think.  We are both Gemini and share the same birth date, June 4.  I’m not bragging or anything, but she and I have been incredibly lucky in life.  We’re both fabulous actors.  We both were married to incredibly handsome and accomplished men and adopted beautiful children from exotic locales.  Well, in my case, Denver isn’t that exotic — exciting but not that distant.

Ms. Jolie and I are also missing our uteri.  When she wrote in the NY Times about her hysterectomy at the age of 39, I almost wrote to her to say, “Don’t worry.  It’s a piece of cake.”  I was 24 when I had my hysterectomy, and my life clearly didn’t end. I didn’t shrivel up.  I didn’t grow a beard or start singing bass.  I didn’t gain 50 pounds.  My husband didn’t leave me.  In fact, men still hit on me when he wasn’t around, because they just can’t tell.  You think no one’s going to hit on the beautiful Angelina Jolie because she’s missing a few body parts?

I’ve been without my uterus for almost 40 years and can’t say that I’ve missed it.  So what if I have a little untimely sweating?  It’s a small price to pay to stop menstruating, and pregnancy has never looked like a day at the beach to me.  When I was a little pudgy around the middle a few years ago, a stranger ask me if I was pregnant.  Was I embarrassed?  Heck no!  I was pretty excited that they thought I was young enough to be pregnant.  Woohoo!

Twins

Twins

Strangers frequently comment on how much The Daughter and I look alike.  Coincidentally, we are both short, and the corners of our mouths turn down naturally.  Our hair is the same color, thanks to my hairdresser.  (I have no idea what color mine really is any more, but I suspect it’s mostly white.)  I blame the “Stockholm Syndrome,” where the captive begins to identify with the captor.  There’s a lot more to parenting than passing along your DNA.  If you’re good at it, you pass along your values and instill your child with courage, perseverance, kindness, and hope, the character stuff that hasn’t yet been isolated on a chromosome.

I’ve had a lot of practice making lemonade out of lemons in my almost-63 years, and I’m always amazed at how a miracle pops up to lift me when things seem especially dark.  Why, just last week, it dawned on me that, because I’ve never been pregnant, I don’t have any stretch marks.  It made me laugh out loud, it was such an absurd thought.  On the other hand, find another 63-year old woman who can say that.  Now, I just need to figure out how to work that into my online dating profile.

Happy Birthday, Angelina!

DATE UPDATE:

I decided to give the dating site Zoosk a look-see because it claimed to be free.  Actually, it’s so confusing that I can’t tell what’s free and what isn’t, because now they tell me there’s stuff I can’t see, people I can’t contact, whatever.  Anyway, they have a feature called “Carrousel” where faces flash up, and you’re supposed to click “No”   “Maybe”    or    “Yes”.  You get a gold coin for each “Maybe” or “Yes.”  I have no idea what the coins are for, and I really don’t care.  This isn’t my kind of game.  I’m not a gambler, although online dating is a crap-shoot.

I’m shallow.  I’m a visual person.  I always judge books by their covers, which is probably why I haven’t found a serious date yet.  There seems to be something wrong with every photo that I see.  Again, I can’t stress enough that the fault lies with me, not with what are probably perfectly ideal men for normal, God-fearing, kind, decent, gracious, loving women.  No, I’m persnickety.  For instance, I am not attracted to profile photos of a man who

wears a Crocodile Dundee hat,

a cowboy hat,

a cowboy hat with a string tie and leather vest,

or a straw cowboy hat with a picture of a spitting cobra;

a bad toupee or a woman’s wig, even if it’s part of a Halloween costume;

a sombrero, beret, balaclava, or any kind of headscarf, including bandanas;

a captain’s hat, unless he’s in the Navy or Capt. Stubing;

a baseball cap with a suggestive slogan and especially not a backwards cap;

or a “Steelers” cap.

I don’t want to know anyone whose profile name includes the words “Snake bit” or “Luv,” “Hung,” “Kiss,” “Baby,” “4 U,” “Skin,” “Brst” (regardless of your choice of vowels), or “Steeler.”

I always skip photos of men whose eyes are closed, have partially hidden faces, look dazed and confused or Tased or are frowning;

or out of focus;

who are missing all or most of their front teeth  (please, no hate mail);

who wear more jewelry than I do and/or forget to remove their wedding bands (I told you I was persnickety);

who are covered in sweat or standing in a cemetery or using fingers to “shoot” at the camera (yep, I’ve seen ’em all).

I am wary of men whose style-icon is Donald Trump;

who look like they still follow the Dead, with locks longer than mine and carrying AARP cards;

who were stuck all winter in Donner Pass without a razor.

Men, don’t choose photos if your cellphone is visible as you take your selfie;

your computer monitor is reflected in your glasses so your eyes look like they’re glowing;

you’re being hugged/kissed by a woman who clearly isn’t your mother (especially on the mouth—ew!);

your photo shows five men, and you’re……..which?

your photo is date-stamped 2005;

your photo is an actual photo of Jack Lord from the original “Hawaii Five-0” (true);

you have photo-shopped stars and/or hearts on it;

you appear to be choking your dog/cat while restraining it;

you are up to your elbow in the mouth of a catfish;

your motorcycle is bigger than you are;

your car is the most prominent feature in your photo;

your dress shirt is unbuttoned to your belt buckle, exposing things that are best hidden until we know each other better—if ever;

you’re wearing a sleeveless sweatshirt, tank top, or wife beater, even if you have guns of steel.

And, for the love of all that is good and holy, NO SHIRTLESS PHOTOS!!!!

Especially if you’re on a beach in swim trunks with a Crocodile Dundee hat and a Duck Dynasty beard, because nobody, but NOBODY wants to see that.  (Having seen that, I may never be the same again.)

I couldn’t make this stuff up, folks.  It writes itself, so who am I to complain?  Life is good (mostly).  Soli Deo Gloria!


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Queen of All I See

I tend to swear a lot when I drive alone in my car.  Other drivers aggravate me when they tailgate, drive too slow, drive too fast, fail to signal, abruptly cross lanes of traffic to exit, stop in the middle of the road, drive without headlights, come at me with their high beams, don’t clear the snow off their windshields, play music too loud, park too close to my car, bang my car with their doors, park in restricted spaces without authorization, and on and on.

However, I am a lady.  It would never occur to me to set their car on fire.  Or smash their windshield with a baseball bat.

Instead of a bat, I want a magic wand.  I would wave my glittering wand in their direction and POOF!  The offender would disappear instantly, transported to their final destination — their earthly destination, that is — so that they couldn’t endanger anyone else.

When an inconsiderate fool with 20 items gets into the express lane for 15 items and under, instead of shoving my cart into their backside, I would wave my wand and POOF!  They would be transported to the end of the longest line in the store.  While they wait contentedly, they could enjoy the tabloid headlines: Sleep your Fat Away, Baking Wedding Cakes with Three Common Household Ingredients, Self-Mowing Lawns, etc., etc., etc.

When a clerk talks on her cellphone while waiting on me, instead of slapping it away from her ear, I would use my wand to send her on a break and replace her with one of the wacky characters from the British television classic Are You Being Served?  We customers would be gently amused and served tea out of fine bone china while our purchases are wrapped in discreet packages with elegant ribbon.

When my flight is delayed for mechanical issues, instead of ranting and raving to the gate agent, I would wave my wand and POOF!  I would be transported with my loved ones to a private beach on my own private island — in a comfy chair under a shady palm tree with an infinite supply of good books — and a cooler full of iced beverages — and nothing to do all day — forever.  No jerks.  No fools.  No swearing.  Queen for Eternity.

With a private chef.  My idea of heaven includes a skinny me eating all my favorite foods, guilt-free, no fat, no calories, no carcinogens, and food that I didn’t even know existed.  Ambrosia.  The Nectar of the Gods.  All that crazy good stuff.  Transports of delight.  Even food that I can’t stand.

IMG_5067When I was a child, I ate three vegetables, corn, green beans, and potatoes.  It’s a wonder that I survived, isn’t it?  When I learned to cook, I discovered a whole new world of earthly delights.  For example, asparagus.  I always hated asparagus when I was a kid, because it came in a can and was a slimy, drab olive green.  It smelled bad and tasted like the can.

What a treat to find out that the real thing, properly prepared, tastes almost sweet, especially when garden-fresh.  I look for stalks that are a uniform diameter, either all tiny or no bigger than ½” in diameter.  I look for heads with tight “petals,” preferably almost purple.  If I’m not preparing it immediately, I cut off the bottoms to even them up and stand them in ½” of water.   When ready to cook, I break off the tough bottoms by flexing the stalk until it snaps.  (It actually does the work for you.)  If they’re larger than ½”, I scrape them with a vegetable peeler.

IMG_5073Don’t be intimidated by asparagus steamers.  Even I, the collector of obscure cooking equipment don’t have one.  Just follow these super-easy directions:

In a skillet large enough to lay the asparagus in one layer, bring 1” of water to a boil.  Gently lay the prepared stalks in the boiling water.  Reduce heat and simmer for 3 minutes or until a bright green, never drab green.  If your stalks are under ½” in diameter, reduce cooking time to 2 minutes.  Turn off heat, remove skillet, and carefully drain the stalks.  Return stalks to the hot skillet and roll in 2 Tablespoons of butter and 1/8 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg.  If desired, sprinkle with freshly squeezed lemon juice and sea salt to taste.  Serve immediately.

After 40 years, I’ve learned what asparagus smells like when it’s properly cooked.  When it’s overcooked, it smells like that stuff in the can.  Of course, asparagus is one of those foods whose fragrance returns to haunt you a few hours after dinner, if you know what I mean.  Of course, I’m a lady and wouldn’t dare use the “p” word…wink, wink.

DATE UPDATE:

Things have been really sloooow.  100 men (I assume they were all men) viewed my profile last week.  I like to reset my view counter each week to see how many men I have frightened away.  Of the 100 potential suitors (that sounds idiotic, even to me), several were brave enough to wink, like, or favorite me.

An attractive man winked at me, so I returned a wink, but he did not respond, so I still don’t understand the purpose of winking.  Maybe he was winking at someone else.  If he winked at me in public, I would have made eye contact and smiled.  If he turned away, I would have looked around to see if he was winking at someone else.  You know, that embarrassing moment when you realize that someone is not waving at you, as you wave back at them? Maybe it was a pity wink.

I received another message from match.com about a different attractive man that read, “So-and-So is interested in you.”  He only lives 15 minutes from me, so I read his profile and, thinking that I should have written to the other guy instead of just returning a wink, I commented on a photo of him on a sailboat, asking where he was when the photo was taken.  That was three days ago. My email box says the message hasn’t been read.  Does that mean that it was deleted or just not read? Maybe I shouldn’t have commented?

No one tells you these things.  I googled “Online Dating Etiquette” and found conflicting information.  Maybe he didn’t read it (match says he’s been online every day).  Maybe he deleted it (no way of knowing).  The “experts” say that I should just move on to the next guy because the more that I look and the more that I answer the more chance I have that the next guy who is interested or winks or shows up in my “Daily Matches” could be THE one.

I’m having my doubts.

More from the “experts”:  Guys who wink instead of writing are “players.”  Guys who wink instead of writing are just shy.  Guys who click “interested” without writing are just shopping.  Guys who click “interested” fear rejection.  Guys who are still married say they’re “currently separated.”  Guys want confident women who write to them first (ha!).  Guys of a certain age don’t like women who initiate contact.

You should answer every email, even if you aren’t interested.  It’s ok to ignore email from guys you don’t like.  Send a second email, if the guy doesn’t respond.  Never send a second email, if the guy doesn’t respond.  Don’t lie about your age.  It is expected that everyone shaves a couple years off their age.  Contact guys who want much younger women because much younger women don’t want them, anyway.  Don’t contact guys who want much younger women because they’re delusional.

Where’s Emily Post when you need her?  This is why manners are de rigueur to me.  We all understand the rules of the game when we follow proper etiquette.  Hey!  Guys!  How about just being honest?  If you don’t intend to start a conversation, DON’T DO ANYTHING.  If you’re married, talk to your wife!  Why frustrate two women?

In browsing what the site calls “Matches,” there was a 63-year old guy about 30 miles from me who said he’s a veterinarian.  I looked at all of his photos but didn’t recognize him.  Okay.  So, maybe I don’t know every veterinarian in Maryland (could be industry or government), but I know most of them.  And, yes, he didn’t want a woman older than 55 (wth is with these old guys?).  I wrote to him anyway, saying that my late husband had been an avian veterinarian and asking if he was in private practice.  As a divorced man, I guess he doesn’t want another long-suffering veterinarian’s wife, because I ain’t heard from him, either.  Silly me. I’m only one year younger than he is.  My email box says the message hasn’t been read, either, whatever that means.

On Sunday, I received a first email from a man inviting me to a “music circle” at his brother’s house on “Friday night” at which I “wouldn’t be expected to sing or anything” with a “group of men with guitars.” That sounds like the plot of a slasher flick.  No, thanks.

You may be amused to hear that the widower who doesn’t like the French emailed me that I am geographically undesirable.  For once, distance worked in my favor.  I didn’t need to bring out the wand and make him disappear, so, who am I to complain?  Life is good (mostly).  Soli Deo Gloria!


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An Open Letter to My Fitbit

Dear Fitbit;

You call this

Fitbit – You call this “progress?”

I received your email at 1:01am today with my “Weekly Progress Report,” and I sense that you are a little frustrated with me.  You didn’t come right out and say it, but I can tell.  I see the red downward arrows for “Total Steps” and “Total Distance.”  There’s no need to be so passive-aggressive about my laziness.  It only makes me want to reach for the chocolate.  I would appreciate it if you would be more encouraging when I am struggling.

You should know that I lost my rhythm when I was on vacation in March.  Mind you, I took my Zumba dvd with me and even used it three times in 10 days, on the hard tile floor of the condo, during the morning, when I was fairly certain that the guests in the unit downstairs were off scuba diving.  The tile was too slippery for me to plank, so the old abs didn’t get much of a workout, either.  I have returned to planking on my soft wool rug, but I just can’t get motivated to “aerobicize” myself.  Please cut me some slack.

Is it really necessary to rub my nose in the success of my two “Fitbit” buddies?  My friend, Sassy Soprano, has infinite energy, plays tennis and hikes every single day, rain or shine, snow or swelter.  The Daughter is a nurse, for crying out loud, and not only walks a million miles each shift but also runs and bikes for no apparent reason when she isn’t working.  Honestly, I’m getting tired just thinking about them.

I must confess, though, that I lied to you about my weight.  My heaviest was actually 120, but it wasn’t my fault.  I ate French fries because I didn’t want to look like a picky eater in front of my date (who was the first decent man I’ve met in eight months), and then I was served loaded mashed potatoes at a wedding reception and didn’t want to ruin the happy couple’s big day.  What could I do?  Shove them in my purse when no one was looking?

Please tell me what business it is of yours how much I am sleeping.  Are you mocking me for buying the cheapest version of you, which doesn’t track sleep?  If it means that much to you, I’ll have you know that, NO, indeed, I have not been sleeping well, lately.  As the weather changes from winter to spring, I’m having more hot flashes, which means I wake up to throw off the covers and realize that I have to pee again because of all that water that you make me drink, creating a horrible sleep pattern.  I fall asleep at 10, awake at 3, review 62 years of foolish mistakes from 3-5, then doze off until 7, when The BFF butts me with her head for breakfast.

Why doesn’t your activity log include the things that I actually do besides Zumba? Like yard work.   I’ll have you know that I blew or raked all the wet leaves in my side yard that I didn’t remove last fall and whacked all the early weeds.  That took two hours and was really strenuous.  Doesn’t that count?  I dug dirt, hauled cinderblocks, and rebuilt the border of my garden.  Surely, that counts for something, doesn’t it?

How about working at church?  I walked so much at church last Sunday, going up and down stairs, serving at one service, teaching Sunday School, singing at the spring concert in the afternoon, that I was thoroughly exhausted.  You have no interest in religion, do you?

You gave me a paltry 78 calories burned for 20 minutes of dancing at the wedding reception.  That’s 20 vigorous minutes of the Twist, the Boogaloo, the Frug, the Jerk, the Swim, and the Pony.  In gold sandals with 3” heels, no less.  That’s quite an accomplishment for a Senior Citizen who was happy she could even remember the names of the dances of her youth and thrilled to sing along with the great 1960s tunes.  You get quite a workout shouting “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” while dancing off loaded mashed potatoes, especially when you’ve made it into your 60s, so show a little r-e-s-p-e-c-t and find out what it means to be me.

Let me give YOU a weekly progress report.  Every day, I wear you close to my heart (literally). Sometimes, I can even feel you

Snarky little thing

Fitbit – A snarky little thing

poking into my sternum. I regularly change your expensive lithium batteries.  And how do you repay my loyalty?  When I’m exercising and want to know if I’ve burned enough calories to quit for the day, you refuse to sync with the app on my iPhone so I can read it.  What’s up with that?  All I get is your snarky little face with your nasty tongue sticking out at me.  Not nice, Fitbit, not nice.  You need to develop a more generous, forgiving attitude, if we’re to remain in a relationship.  Speaking of relationships…

DATE UPDATE:

How much food should you eat on a blind date?  Does it depend on where you’re eating?  Who’s paying?  Time of day?  What do you do when the date suggests a restaurant you don’t like?  Should I just have salad for dinner?  Should I have a cocktail or a glass of wine?  Or should I stick with water?  My dates have always said they would pay because that’s how men of our generation were brought up.  I think that the invitee should pay for the invited, but because there is rarely a second date with these men, I feel a little guilty.

Last week, a guy that I didn’t want to date (even after I asked him to read this blog and reconsider, thinking it would scare him off), invited me to a diner for coffee at 6:30pm.  There were so many problems with this that I should have listened to the Shrew in my head and cancelled.  It was an unremarkable diner.  It was dinner time.  It was 40 minutes away at rush hour. I don’t drink caffeine after 6 or coffee without food.  I didn’t want to be there.  He was so insistent and so clever in his emails that my silly heart said, “Go for it” while the Shrew was groaning, “Are you nuts or what?”

The first thing he said when we sat down in the booth and the waitress handed us menus was, “I’m not hungry.  I don’t get up until noon and eat on a different schedule.  But you have whatever you want.”

“Ok,” I shrugged.  After all, it was a coffee date, but I saw the waitress purse her lips.  I felt even worse for myself because I was starving.  “Well, I’m going to have a bowl of chicken noodle soup.”  I needed it for my soul.  He very graciously paid the $2.95 plus tax and tip for my soup, but I’m still not going to see him again because that was the only gracious thing he said or did in the one hour and fifteen minutes that our date lasted.

The previous week, a different date seemed insistent that we split an appetizer and an entrée.  How do you agree on what food to share with someone you barely know?  He should have picked a cheaper restaurant or skipped the appetizer.  We shouldn’t have had either one, because something violently parted company with my body in the middle of the night.  I also didn’t hear from him again, which was fine with me.  He doesn’t drink wine.  Which brings me to another point…

How many dates should I have with someone who doesn’t drink wine at all?  It’s not like they don’t consume alcohol.  They do, just not wine.  I’m pretty sure that The Veterinarian wants me to be happy, but I’m not sure he wants me to share his fine wine with someone who doesn’t appreciate it and is making moves on his widow.   Of course, it’s my wine now, so, who am I to complain?  Life is good (mostly).  Soli Deo Gloria!


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Betrayed by My Peeps

The only good Peep is a stuffed Peep.

The only good Peep is a stuffed Peep.

Today has turned into “Health Maintenance Day.”  For reasons that I don’t recall, I scheduled a visit with my internist on the same day as my semi-annual dental hygiene appointment.  Perhaps I thought that confining my agony to one day every six months was a good idea.  Actually, I don’t mind the dentist.  My gums are great, so no one yells at me for neglecting them. I’m in and out in 30 minutes. It’s the doctor that I dread.

The doctor’s visit started last week with a routine blood draw.  I don’t care for those much.  You have to remember to fast the night before and drive to the office the next morning before you faint.  Of course, my blood pressure always elevates, and I might very well faint either from low blood sugar or from hyperventilating.  Either way, not good.

I don’t like the latex strip of drain tube that they wrap around your arm like an anaconda. I don’t like the smell of alcohol, and I don’t like that big wad of gauze that they tape to the wound that is going to become a half-dollar-sized bruise about 10 minutes after leaving the office.

More than that, I absolutely hate having a stranger slapping my arms trying to find my veins, because I have those shy veins that are invisible to the naked eye.  “Oh, it should have been right there,” the phlebotomist will say as she/he swivels the point of the needle subcutaneously (i.e., under the skin) like a snake searching its prey, while blood drains from my brain and pools just above the tourniquet.  I once had to send the phlebotomist to get her supervisor when she threatened to take the sample from my foot.

When I was first diagnosed with high blood pressure and sent for a nuclear stress test, the technician stabbed me six times before settling on the top of my right wrist to catheterize me and strapped on a 50cc syringe filled with radioactive material.  I swear, it was so big that if the lights had been turned out, I probably would have glowed.  Instead, they sat me in the waiting room in front of a television tuned to the “Maury Show” with inbred idiots screaming at one another over paternity issues.  I was the only one NOT surprised that my blood pressure peaked at 210 on the treadmill portion of the test.

About a year ago, a very capable phlebotomist pointed out the exact spot on the upper inside of my left arm.  “In the future, tell them that’s the sweet spot,” she advised.  By golly, she was right.  Maybe I should get an X tattooed on the spot.  Medical professionals don’t like to be told how to do their job, but everyone has listened to me after slapping both arms to find a vein.  And no one, but no one, is going to draw blood from the back of my hand.  I will draw blood from someone’s nose, first.

Today’s visit was about a 5 on the satisfaction meter.  My weight remains what it was last October. [Must they weigh you in your clothes?  Can’t each exam room have a scale, so you can strip down to your skivvies like you do at home?  Don’t they know that boots and a heavy sweater add 5 pounds?]  My blood pressure was 136/74, which is actually low for me.  Yay!  The beta blocker and statins are doing their jobs.  Then, the doctor came in.  After looking in my eyes and ears and listening to my chest, he sat down in front of his computer to go over my lab results.  My HDL (or “Happy” cholesterol, as I think of it) is so high that it probably keeps my LDL under control.

“Liver function, normal.  Complete blood count, fine.  Blood sugar, low 90s — it’s always low, you know. [Nope.  I had no clue.]  Cholesterol is good at 194.  LDL is 74, but triglycerides are 299.  You need to work on your diet.”

“What?  What will be left to eat?  I don’t eat fat or dairy.”

“Sugar and alcohol make the triglycerides go up.”

“I don’t drink more than 3-4 glasses of wine a week, and I’ve cut out sugar,” I protested. “I’ve lost almost 20 pounds.  What else can I do?”  For nine months, no sugary drinks, no sugar in my coffee, no ice cream, just the occasional (maybe once a week) dessert.  I apportion super thin cookies, which have 20 calories each, to one a day, or one little square of dark chocolate a day.  I don’t even have maple syrup with my daily frozen waffles.

And then, I remembered.

“Oh, wait.  I had that blood drawn last Monday, didn’t I?  The day after Easter, after two weeks of eating Peeps.”  The doctor started to laugh.

“I ate the Peeps because they’re fat free!  Oh, give me a break.”

“Well, we’ll see when you come back in October.”  As he left the room, I heard him chuckle, “Peeps!”

DATE UPDATE:

I know I say this all. the. time, but I am really going to give up online dating.  I’m proud to say that I annoyed two men on three dates in the past two weeks.  The one guy even tried a second date, but he moved to the kissing stage before I did, and boom!  He deleted me.  I’m too much of a lady to pass judgment on them in print, but I will say that I was relieved.  I will also say that I learned a little.  No divorced men.  No men who lie about their health.  No men in their 60s who have never been married.

My friend, Maureen, and I frequently compare notes on the guys we encounter on match.com.  We are similar in many ways.  We are both short.  We both have daughters.  We’re both blonde (one of us naturally, and it ain’t me).  We both live in the country in beautiful homes with large dogs.  We are both singers.  Well, she actually has a degree in music, which I can barely read.  I just have a degree in English, and, heck, everyone I know reads, speaks, and writes English, so that’s no big deal.  She, however, enjoys the outdoors.  I appreciate the outdoors — from the indoors.  Therein lies a key difference to all the rock-climbing, snowboarding, marathon-running, cross-country-cycling silver foxes on match.com who aspire to be Bruce JennerLance Armstrong — well, maybe that’s a different issue.

Located 15 miles north of Baltimore, Maureen and I have decided that we are geographically undesirable, although she attracts a better class of date than I do.  She actually had a guy from the DC-area (the most desirable demographic) date her more than once.  I can’t even get one to answer an email.  Her dates are professional men who take her to trendy restaurants and out kayaking and hiking (yeah, yeah, I take ownership of that).  Mine are all ax-grinders.

Do all short blonde singers look alike?

Do all short blonde singers look alike?

One of my recent dates tried to set up a date with her while his date with me was pending.  This is not the first time that’s happened.  I once dated a guy who turned out to have been one of her former boyfriends.  Maybe all short blonde singers look alike.

“You should put the photo of us singing together on your match.com profile,” I suggested.  “I have it on mine.  We’re standing side-by-side.  I wonder if anyone will notice.”

On my date with the guy who unwittingly was trying to date us both, he mentioned having been on an outing in the neighborhood where she lives, not too far from mine.  I seized my opportunity.

“Oh, yes, that’s where my church is,” I told him.  “St. James?  The old, historic church on the hill?”

“Really?” he was clearly uninterested.

“Yes, I’m the Senior Warden there, and my daughter went to school there.”

“Oh,” I thought I detected wheels turning.  “Did you say you sing?”

“Yes, I sing at St. James, and I sing with the Deer Creek Chorale.  I have a photo of it on my profile.”

I could swear he was putting it together, but I could be wrong.  That would make the perfect story, wouldn’t it? Alas, I’ll never know. Our date lasted a total of 90 minutes, which was a disappointment, not because I wanted to spend more time with the guy who showed up, but because I wanted to spend time with the charming man who had written the most flirtatious emails I’ve ever received.  Instead, we found out that our political ideals don’t match, our cultural ideals don’t match, and our geographical preferences don’t match.  I told him that before I agreed to go out with him, so he can’t say he’s surprised.  Another date courtesy of mismatch.com.

Well, I’m going to enjoy the last slice of My Sister’s birthday cake, orange and devil’s food marble with fudge frosting, so, who am I to complain?  Life is good (mostly).  Soli Deo Gloria!