About michelleferg

a prairie dweller, a mom and a librarian...sounds like the start of a joke

Middle Age Boot Camp, Because

gratuitous prairie photo for calm and internal retreat

When I aged to Middling, God bequeathed my form with scaffolding, an onboard shelving system running the length of my sides between ribs and butt that was not drawn into the original blueprint.
It… appeared. Window washers could stand upon these flesh brackets for easy reach.
It’s not pretty and it’s certainly unwelcome.
Thus, do I Boot Camp. Bootcamping is difficult, exhausting, humbling, and sad, but because I want to disband the mounds of newly formed flesh from off my person — like lichen on a rock, it’s stuck — I endure outdoor workouts in late-fall temps to be social and allow a trainer to help me heave heavy things while squatting and lunging and all other forms of ignominious behavior for neighbors to see as they drive by because I want to throw the extra luggage overboard. Lost and never found again, please, because I didn’t check this baggage, it was abandoned upon my person and I want to discard it like last decade’s newspaper.
On the other hand, the Eat part of the plan, I cook, with so much protein that the cattle industry sent me a Christmas card. Beef out the wazoo because I am ignoring all the documentaries I’ve seen videographing reasons I should eschew all meat products.
Trainer says the protein will aid in ridding the carbs that have glued the shelving unit firmly in place for far too long.
And eggs! My diet consists of many too many chicken leavings.
High protein, big sweats, tons of cursing, three days a week. I’ve made a life of this four weeks, and Thanksgiving — the day in which we eat en masse, eyes averted, no judgment — was thrown into the mix, through unfortunate timing.
And I’ve been good, mostly. Perhaps a bauble here and there, but overall, not bad. I drank the requisite 72 ounces of water daily, cooked the menu items in assigned order, cleaned enough cookware to stock an Applebee’s, and then came the fateful evening when the trainer ordered, “Twenty-five jumping jacks, ladies!”
Well. As a Middlin’, I can EITHER drink the 72 ounces, OR I can jump 25 jacks. As Depends were not installed, I had a choice to make.
I chose mutiny and a sudden need to grab tissues from my car, High winds, chilly air, need for avoidance equals Trifecta.
When it came down to it, I caved. “Got a [fake] text from my son, haha,” Point to the fake phone in my hand. “Imagine the timing, so unfortunate, haha, gotta go!” Grabbed all accoutrements of activity and bolted.
Yet, I’m going to attend another class tonight.
What is this pull from a Boot Camp train that’s run me over, cleaved me in two, and left my upper half crawling the ground in search of low-lying M&Ms?

Middle Aging Camp, Day 4

I missed the big workout with the other Boot Campers last night because of a work board meeting I couldn’t escape.
I mean, I probably could have left earlier than I did, if I’d only stopped inciting more conversation so that the minutes would tick away. There’s that.
It was a chilly, dark night in the park where my buddies were squatting and lunging and making all sorts of grunting noises, though I’ve heard the muscle aches are creating bigger groans of pain today than last evening.
I’m scheduled to work out this evening with the same said individuals, also in the dark, around 7:30 this evening. I’ve packed warm leggings, scarf, mittens, hat, layers and layers of fleece, so that I may start warm and covered but finish sweating and cold beneath a steamy fog lifting from my skin.
Love exercising, I do.
But no, I don’t.
Days three and four have been the most challenging so far of this elongated attempt at bettering myself. The idea of eight weeks of , watching what you eat, exercising occasionally seems so doable on Day 1. Anticipation runs deep, especially when you’ve organized your efforts from the start gate with a hole punch and three-ring binder. All things are possible with proper office supplies.
Then reality sets in — flour powders the recipe pages within your binder, ink pens push a bit forcefully through the printed boxes on the To Do list when checking things off, vanilla extract flows into the back pocket of the binder leaving a delightful scent but oddly sticky puddle for future things to cling to; I’m spit balling on items that could happen to one doing all the exercising/logging/begging for two months to pass. These are possible setbacks.
I’m on Meal Four with a taco soup — did I mention it at some time previous, how delicious this particular stew was but ask me again on Leftover Day?
Yes, I may have foreshadowed my own displeasure with leftovers and I was not wrong.
Especially since this is Meal Four with an entree I plan to never ever create again. One, because of the mess — I’m not sure I’ve yet fully repositioned all the items in the kitchen that I used to concoct such a monstrous amount of Cuisine Today-ready food ( six large plastic containers of this stuff sat in my fridge after the debacle of “cooking”, six; that’s too many) — but I sallied forth and created other dishes for consumption, adding to the mountain of dirty spoons (I did not know I did not have enough spoons in my life) and measuring cups, more spoons, and Pyrex ware of undeterminable origin. Really, I need a housekeeper every Friday for the next…twenty weeks, to cover the ensuing 8 weeks but also for insurance that I don’t lapse into this world of cuisine preparation. Chefs are underpaid, but dishwashers are undervalued.
Fortunately our trainer has emailed us the next week’s delights: a new menu, a new set of exercise options, a new grouping of uplinks to inspirational quotes.
Which means I’m headed back to the grocery store to buy unheard of items in order to envelop them into delightful items within my kitchen to eat and clean up afterward.
I feel like I’m one step away from wearing dresses and pearl necklaces, what with all this new found domesticity. Sadly, though, I don’t think the Cleavers had dogs. They add a new level of danger to the homemaker mix.

Boot Camping: Day 3

I am in new territory.
I don’t cook. Not because I don’t want to, because I don’t, but because I feel like it’s time I’m constantly trying to use in other ways. Protein shake, dry cereal, bit of fruit, that’s all food, and it’s adequate to me.
Enter this two month challenge to better myself and on the third day, I find myself compiling a taco soup for lunch. Finding spice packets before noon is not in my wheelhouse, yet I have glass to-go containers cooling with portioned scoops of soup awaiting transport to the fridge or work, whichever comes first.
I actually have lunch ready for today. Like…a LUNCH, not a pre-packaged item from within a tiny big box store cardboard box.
And now the word “lunch” doesn’t look right. Lunch. Ha! Weird word, lunch. Did I spell it right?
Yesterday was officially a Rest Day for the boot campers. No exercise mandates and I was relieved because frankly, Monday was a bit much. Things like Stations, and Repetitions, Assessment Base Levels, Measurements, Sprints. Whew.  Arms are sore, ego’s bruised, thighs still slap together; not terribly successful as I can see and it’s been a FULL two days.
But for some reason, on the second evening of self-imposed improvement methods, fearing I wasn’t trusting the process enough but still restless, like I was cheating the program.
I wouldn’t call what I did strenuous, but I practiced yoga for a full half hour and grabbed my kid’s Beat Saber goggles so I could feel cool for ten minutes or so. It’s a great game and strangely magnetic. My Bubs won’t play it for days on end until I pop in to ask its whereabouts, and suddenly he’s all in on together-with-Mom time, though it’s a solitary endeavor.
We’re in the  same room, I take it as a win.
My point: even when I’d been given down time, Day Two felt too soon for that. I mean, I’d cooked, TWICE, in one day, so exercise seemed like the lesser of the two evils.
Here it is Day Three, still an hour to go before I need to hit the office, my kitchen still smells like taco seasoning, the counters are buried beneath a dozen cooling bowls of various shapes full of soup I’m not sure I want to eat — except for the first portion, of course, I’ve earned that — and I’ll be cleaning dishes for an hour, and I’m stupidly proud of myself.
People can change. For two and a half days. I’ll check in with myself again this evening, see if the transformation is going to stick until morning, especially considering I have an outdoor workout with the rest of the boot campers this evening…in the dark, drizzly, forty degree weather.
Middle-aged but willing to try new things. Feels like an accomplishment, yet I won’t go so far as to establish myself in the Old Dog/New Tricks category.

8-Week Challenge, 1st Attempt

Day 1, Middle-aged-Woman Boot Camp, eight long weeks as a run-up and push-through for the holiday season.! So unlike me! — by spending a ridiculous amount of dollars on fresh fruits and vegetables — including cauliflower and broccoli, EGADS! I hate those so much — at an actual grocery establishment (no Amazon delivery for this girl!). I printed things like menus, and recipes, and instructions — instructions! I was prepared prepared, a week ahead of the game with Halloween looming and still I was good. No s’mores last night, no bite-size chocolate bits, none of that. Mentally honed, I would say.
Cut to today, Go Time: I’ve been on this ride four hours and I need a re-do.
At six this morning, my phone subtly woke me with pinging tones, alerting me to positive, uplifting, inspirational notes from the trainer, the one leading us into a no-guilt Christmas. I was all in, roused and ready to hit the tile with a tentative unsocked foot and a full-on desire to do well today.
Plus, the other impetus for getting up before the sun even titillated the horizon, it was time to get the Bubs to school, so I knew coffee — black coffee, two tablespoons of sugar-free creamer (shudder) — was nigh.
Last night I prepped breakfast with a thing called overnight oatmeal: dry oats, skim milk, chia seeds, cinnamon, and vanilla extract. To which I was to add plain greek yogurt, peanut butter, strawberries, and blueberries.
I was looking forward to the fruit portion.
But first, I dropped the Bubs in his hall of learning before dashing to the kitchen for coffee, for which I promptly ignored the mandate of sugar-free things and temperance in measure.. Hey, a jug of Stokes iced coffee in the fridge, I could NOT let that go to waste, though it doesn’t strenuously follow my new eating lifestyle.
Toes on the starting line and I’d already cheated.
Next came actual caloric ingestion, an oaty sludge covered in fruit that I choked down by the light of the televised morning news.
Breakfast was a gray color, of thick, not-enough-moisture wallpaper glue consistency, and oatmeal was already not my favorite food, so yeah, I didn’t look at it, just ate. It was a paste, a horrible gelatinous rubbery taste sandwiched between fruit that didn’t deserve this ignominious fate.
It was only after contemplating a new tack — for instance, punting the boot camp entirely — that I realized I had forgotten to add yogurt. And peanut butter. You know, the stuff that would have been a tremendous asset in forcing breakfast.
Now I’m on my second cup of coffee, no judgment, and twenty-fourth ounce of refreshing cool water and I have yet to get ten feet away from a restroom.
Here’s another funny: Day One of New Life, and today happens to be Book Club Day, which is more “Foodies who Read” than “Book Nerds who Eat.” It’s a monthly meet-up at restaurants on Memorial Road — ten years of club meetings and I can’t think of more than 2 held anywhere other than Memorial Road — and this time the selected locale is a Dog Park/Human Cafe. Well. Who wouldn’t punt a Diet — Excuse me, Improved Way of Eating Lifestyle Change — on Day One in favor of eating nachos with a poodle looking on??
I’m all in for Book Club, can’t let that opportunity down. I’ll have water with whatever delight the menu allows in the 400 calorie range; sounds like fruit cup and a single cracker, one that a beagle will salivate near, hoping I’ll toss it to him, but sorry, pooch, with only a 400 calorie allowance, I’ll need every morsel. Though, now that I consider it, I believe I have a bit of leeway, seeing as how I ate only half of the prescribed morning meal…

Band and Momming

Y’know, this parenting stuff is hard.
This weekend my Bubs and his exemplary band mates won the State title for their high school division band. They broke a 10-year winning streak for the 2nd place finishers, who quickly rounded up a social media campaign claiming otherwise, fighting tooth and nail for their “right” to the title, diminishing our kids’ hard work. Sore losers.
The real crisis came for me and this parenting stuff.
The hours! The early mornings, the late afternoons, all the heavy lifting and quick pushing and uniform washing, all paid off bigly.
As a parent, I couldn’t wait to rush the field for congratulatory hugs and Big Time Momming, and there’s my boy, 6’3, relishing his moment, and my heart swelled one hundred sizes for pride in my young man, near-adult, glorious individual relishing his moment with his friends and bandmates.
Such dichotomy: revel in the victory, but from over here, because I did my job and look what happened? My baby grew up.
So I cried happy, happy tears and heart-rending sobs for the glory that is parenting.
It’s not for the faint of heart.

Band Momming Continues

Saturdays are FULL during band marching season.
After 4 or 5 of these competitions, I’ve got my Go bag ready: Gatorade, Farkle dice for down time, money for all the accessory vendors my son spots — Cane’s chicken, Mazzio’s pizza, all the big names come play but funnel cake was all mine; I’ve never whipped out seven bucks for fried dough so quickly in my life — fresh socks, a teen boy’s shoes (separate Ziploc, green closure for ensured safety.
My point: I’m ready for anything.
Then there’s the marimba pushing.
I know I’ve told you one or two little vignettes about marimba moving. ‘Tisn’t easy, rest assured. My quads light up with effort.
So I was certain I was prepared for the last round of percussion pushin’. Especially since the terrain was NOT mountainous like in previous weeks. In fact, it was downright dull…straight-line drives, ample space, paved walkways, easy peasy, and along the trek I tried to chat with my marimba-ist — a waif, pale, slight (my left thigh weighs more than she does), golden hair, big blue eyes, and mute as a stone — to no avail. Buttoned up like an 1800’s corset, I tell you. All my wiles and attempts at chatter fell on deaf ears. (Maybe she’s deaf?)
And after a non-adventurous trip to the field, we had to wait, all 22 of us percussionist parents, for…something. I was unclear. The sidelines were clear, I saw no impediment, I knew not why we waited.
Thus did I make one last attempt at convo. “You nervous?”
A shake of the head, which encouraged me. “You’re gonna do great!” I announced grandly, for which I got a most basic nod and near-eye-roll.
“You got this,” I muttered less enthusiastically as finally we were waved forward for set-up on the turf.
Set up, got a final nod from the unwilling recipient of my help, and I trotted to the sidelines.
Magic happened, as the band played their halftime show for the seemingly-one-zillionth time — each of which I watch with so much anxiety that I lose three pounds; I’m like a Tan and Tone machine in a fleshy wrap — and I marched right back out to the side of my best little frenemy to aid her against her will.
“You were so great! What a show! It felt so new”
Sure, I was reaching, desperate to get to this tiny mite’s inner core and make her like me.
I hear the percussion leader say, “Ready for power, ready for power,” and kids are streaming around grabbing extension cords, power outlets, microphones, no big deal. Power needs picking up, gotcha. Take with ye what ye brung, got it.
And before I took a breath to look to my left, my tiny acrobatic marimba-ist had gotten behind her set of keys and RUN, like a mighty wind, AWAY from me. She was a foal, hair streaming, practically frothing at the lips to get away from me.
“Hey!” I yelled. “I’m helping you!!”
And I began pursuit.
It took a minute, I can tell you that, what with being weighted down with my Go bag and a strong desire to be helpful. I thought actually that she was going to run me over and if not for a fortuitous tripping on my clumsy part, I could have been down. Medics called. The whole nine yards, right there on the football field. (I made a sports reference, did you get that? It’s rare, that’s why I’m pointing it out, so you’ll appreciate its uniqueness.)
“Whew!” I said when I finally caught up and had a tenuous grip on one side of the instrument. Fortunately she’d slowed a bit, maybe her battery needed changing, but this ol’ girl finally caught up. “You’re all muscle,,” I wheezed toward her, glowing, trying to compliment, trying to reach her core.
It was a long quiet walk back to the trailer where I bid her a hearty adieu and much success in the future. She ignored me completely.
Come to find out: “Power” means: run like you’re on fire. Points off if you don’t leave the field in x number of nanoseconds.
Also of Note: talking on the field — anywhere on the green turf stuff — even if it’s by a big ol’ nerdy mom who just really really reeeeeeaallly wants to help — points off.
Welp. Now I know.
And perhaps I’ll help another child with an equally large bit of equipment, probably not my son, because he shoos me away…
No funnel cake for him, I tell ya.

The Bloat

This week has been all about Band Momming, Tornado Watching, and Jobbing.
The band mom part was fun. The rest is all stress, all the time. Tornado sightings for two nights already this week and it’s only Tuesday. Leave work, park in front of the TV and watch meteorologists compete with each other across channels for the prime shot of a funnel.
It’s quite entertaining.
And in Oklahoma, this is really a Spring sport. October storms, well, that’s extra.
As with most sports — all the ones I watch: Superbowl, tornado chasers, and Band; they’re sports, prove they’re not — I snack.
My new snack of choice: Julio’s Original Seasoned tortilla chips.
To know: I’ve been curbing the gluten since the first of September in solidarity with my Bubs’ sensitivity to the carb loaded glue that makes bread taste oh-so-good.
Thus the tortilla chips; no gluten, still fun.
Perhaps I’ve indulged overly much in my gluten-free lifestyle, because after so much time Tornado Sporting and Tortilla Gulping. well, it’s no fair at all, but my Go To Shorts did NOT rise properly up my suddenly bloated thighs. No forgiveness whatsoever; two excited puffer fish, those are my thighs.
Who knew that excessive salt was so cruel?
Today, I threw myself into the Diet Overload: no carbs, no gluten, no salt. Can you believe it? It’s awful, after so many days of gluttony, nada.
And a tornado is bouncing across the state. Come on! I’m human! What fun snack is there for me NOW? I mean, my goodness, the funnels are up and down and running and being chased by hordes of people. Stress is high, snacks are required! n
But my big ol’ thighs say no.

Marimbas Up Moore Mountain

A marimba, the weight of which cannot be undervalued.

I’m a proud Band Mom. My Bubs plays percussion, like, all the time, not just in band class proper. It’s become his adorable…ahem…habit to tap on things, slug things, snap, click, cluck, all sorts of weird twittering noises I can’t define, in order to get a feel for resonance.
He’s a rhythmic soul, a melody-based being in search of the ultimate groove, man…in my Band Mom mind.
In the normal “Mom” role, all the tapping and clapping and drum-sticking drives me nuts. I take lots and lots of deep breaths in order to find my Karmic center, blah blah blah.
I’m trying to be Hip, as people said in the 1900’s.
Along came marching season, a thing that 2020 disallowed, so I had no idea what it really meant. Summed up: hours and hours of watching two hundred kids dressed in polyester bib overalls stand around waiting for Go TIme…the playing, and the musical portion of the pageantry that IS Band Season!
More specifically, I watch 13 bibbed percussionists unload heavy equipment and push it around a track to land somewhere near the 50 yard line, play five minutes and fifteen seconds, then reverse order and move heavy things BACK to the trailer, seemingly acres and acres away.
As a Good Band Mom, I want to help. It’s in the DNA script, the Maternity Gene.
Last week, “we” played in Moore, the heart of the City, where giant high schools large enough to host 14 tractor/trailer rigs, buses, a few U-Hauls, and one thousand parents for an entire day — 17 hours — of good clean musical fun under a sweltering sun, immoderate ninety degree ambient temperature, and whining, all on my part.
Note to self: still need to buy new shoes; the old ones cratered in the Moore HS parking lot.
But earning my Mom o’ the Year badge meant helping my sweet innocent tiny six-foot-three baby and his friends — mostly girls, mostly petite — with lugging mammoth bits of wood and steel up and down the sideline of the football field.
So after the performance — the definitive contest winner, if you ask me — I rushed down like an ant smelling sugar cane, grabbed onto the end of one of the marimba sets, and said to its player, “Lead the way!”
She kindly asked, “Would you like to steer and I’ll push?”
To which I gallantly responded, “No, no, young lass whom I could crush with my overloaded handbag — side note: want a Gatorade? they’re very heavy — much less my middle-aged girth, you shall guide while I shall push this beast, as I know not where to lead its nose!” (I think I’d put my hands on my hips and looked toward the moon for best effect; she seemed underwhelmed.)
She shrugged.
I should have taken heed of that shrug; ignoring her knowledge of the way the land lay would be my downfall, as this was her third trip around the majestic plains between goal post and bus and I had meandered toward a snack bar a few times and accrued far less mileage than she had that day.
We set off! A band of merry marimba-ists, end-to-end like elephants on a glorious star-filled night, nine-thirty-ish and still the awards ceremony to view. I was optimistic and naive.
M’lady guided us off the field, I fought the turf, a substrate far less forgiving than say, grass. Who knew? I was learning as I went. And huffing a lot.
“Tuff turf,” I joked, a reference to not only the field but my progressive age and an old movie, one she had not watched apparently, and in reflection, not a big loss on her part, though Spader…yummy.
I was winded, a tiny bit, I’ll admit, in that beginning flat stretch, but the ground, she hated me and my marimba wheels, so we tussled until we reached pavement, no big deal.
But at the base of a tiny driveway outside the field, my leader made a right turn onto the quickest rise ever known to marimba movers. I really thought I was going to go high center and my arms shouted, “We’re done.”
Still I pushed on, into the mountainous regions not mapped in any Oklahoma atlas, I assure you. Past a pond, past losers who’d crapped out and couldn’t make the rise. (…not really. No one flagged but me, and only in my mind. Really, I was a sport; I rallied.)
Even as the band student asked, “Are you okay? Should we trade places?” and as blood flowed strong through my ear canals, blocking her gentle hint that we should indeed trade places, I wondered about the next day’s headlines in the local paper: Band Parent Made Immobile While Moving Marimba.
Oh, the embarrassment for my Bubs. Couldn’t have that. I soldiered on and at last — at last! — the hills rolled into a gentle flat plain and once again I could breathe fully and not as though through a straw.
Once the wheels had stopped turning and tunnel vision abated, I heard the band member, the marimba-ist, the one I’d followed to my near-extinction, say, “Would you like your Gatorade back?”
I don’t speak of that night often, and no, I didn’t take the precious girl’s Gatorade. I had three more in my bag.

Hark, the Herald, of Crayola Utensils

School is upon us and for such a momentous occasion, one requires school supplies.
Lovely, new, uncapped, pointy, newly lined, still smelling faintly of the woods, school supplies — to ink, of graphite, spiraled or loose-of-leaf — are fabulous.
My Bubs needed some, too, as he is the one entering hallowed halls of learning. Me, I’m simply going to the library — I have a key to a library, I’m awesome — and for that I, too, insist upon cups full of writing instruments.
My kid appreciates not the glory quite so much as I, but…he’ll learn…for now I’ll continue to corral the remnants at year’s end because, hey, school supplies, in any form, are beloved.

Week 4: A Late Entry

This fourth week of Anti-Aging Because Aging Sucks started so well!
I must say, I recommend police escorts.
We spent Saturday morning on a community bike ride that consisted of 6 folks — three community civilian bike riders, two officers who formed a new “bike unit,” and one officer in a squad car to stay behind/zoom ahead as needed to ensure safe travels through the mean streets of this little prairie ville.
And oh, my goodness, I love an escort.
Lights flashing, zipping and zooming so that I never miss a pedaling moment…so cool.
If ever you see “Community Bike Ride” posters, I recommend you air some tires, chew some rehydration gum, and put on the weird padded shorts because dang, those seats are intense.
It’s worth it all.
And if you need a community, come to the prairie. We’re ready and willing to throw another ride.