This very morning I sat in my kitchen with Ben and Jerry clutching a spoon suspended a hair’s breath above One Sweet Whirled when I heard the voice of my trainer, “Would this fulfill you or just fill you?” I’ve heard her say before, “If it’s something you need emotionally, eat it. Otherwise, it’s a meh.” My thighs screamed, “Listen NOT to the voice of reason!” over the whisper of my heart: “Yeah…this is a ‘meh.'” Proud of the fact that the pint went back into the fridge. Then I ate 78 grams of protein to counteract the need for sugar. Win! But don’t tell the trainer that even my heart could NOT resist a shortbread cookie straight from an online recipe for Biscuits with the Boss. (If you don’t know about Ted Lasso, please run to any streaming device and rectify that lack immediately.) So I WON…then I lost a little bit…but then I went to yoga. See? Week 3 of Aging Gracefully — at Least with Less Whining — is going swimmingly! Now for Day 2…
The first 7 days of my 31 day challenge were not the best. Caloric content through the roof, reluctant-at-best exercise in which the motions were made but effort was not spent, and my attitude…poor, and I’m being kind. So. Today is Day 8 but I’m claiming it instead to be 1.2. The main difference: I prepared this time — went to the grocery store with a list of Trainer Approved foods; counted the actual calories I’ve consumed today in my fitness app, the one my trainer can see because I hit “share with friends” and now I hope she shall be kind like a friend would be; thus I haven’t gone feral today because I’ve eaten, at a normal pace, with appropriate time lapses between snacks. I’m killin‘ it today. Tomorrow? Tomorrow will be the true test. a. I’ll be at work, where I get busy, I get grumpy, and I know where the chocolate is hidden and 2. …well, I don’t know why there’s a 2. Let’s refer back to the first reasons tomorrow will be the true test, because actually there are things in the one statement. Thus, there are THREE reasons why tomorrow will be the true, true test of my re-inspired dedication to 31 days of the Epic Challenge of Getting Old Gracefully, AKA Aging Sucks.
Tip: “serve your food in a pretty bowl.” as I’ve read under “helpful hints” when “making a lifestyle change so as to decrease the suckiness of aging.” The bowl? Pretty. The food? Pretty tiny, even when surrounded by melamine design.
Star Date: Four. Four of 30 big ol’ days of training for the rest of the days. Counting calories, bicep curling with the stapler, using apps for tracking water and food. Exhausting. Ended up with a migraine on day 2 because of the stress…or because I didn’t want to play anymore…not sure where I stand on the maturity level today, what with all my whining and calf raises to reach the top shelves. Busy, busy…I’m off to app…and things…
Oh, sweet goodness, it’s May — birthday month — and I’m feeling exceptionally old. My bat wings are fully formed, my Grandmother’s jowls are burgeoning and ready to drip from either side of my single-haired chin; I maintain a feeling of youth through inhalations of caffeine and re-readings of Calvin and Hobbes, and yet all of that equates to a Crap Fest. Ugh, aging sucks. In an effort to continue bolstering a sagging attitude, lowering butt, and to stop looking upward at every opportunity in feeble attempts to scaffold the dwindling elasticity of a droopy countenance, I’ve incorporated a trainer. Now, on this first day of the third day of the fifth month, I’m weighing foods and counting calories. I have wellness-geared apps on my phone to aid the process. The trainer is on standby with prompts and smiles while I repeatedly clench my butt to perch above the couch cushion, again to bolster…things. Supposed to fast for 18 hours a day at my age…recommended by nutritionists, scientific minds, medically trained pros. I did that today as well, minus three hours. I made it to 15, felt faint, called it a win. It’s Day One, this Third Day of the Fifth Month of the 50-plus-ist year of my Life. Threw on some short Lycra pants seen only by my dogs and bent over to touch my bare toes…sure, I felt a stretch but mostly I recognized that it’s time for a pedicure and to shave the winter coat. Log dinner calories, participate in Fight Club at 7:45, down two Aleve at 9 with the remaining 34 ounces of water I need to drink today to fulfill my hydration schedule for today. Pee at 11.
Snow is to start at midnight and continue until Monday at noon, dumping up to 20 inches during ambient negative temps and wind chills so low I could kill a boar and leave it outside until the grill is heated. That was the forecast at sunset. Thirty minutes ago, updates report that we might get 8 inches of the white stuff with no temps below zero. I’m giving it until 3am to learn that tomorrow will be sunny and forty degrees. Millions of dollars in sonar, radar, blipping machines that tell the time on Mars and no idea when or how much snow will fall. At sunrise tonight I pressed my into the “throw boiling water in the air and it will turn into vapor, or snow, or fuzzy stuff resembling steam…I don’t know…just do it.” Come to find out, 16 as a positive integer is not cold enough to vaporize anything, but boiling water will shock dormant flurry-covered Bermuda grass into early death. Friends say, “Wait until the temp is negative 15 and try again,” but I’d already compromised my personal ethic by venturing outside during less than freezing temperatures, so waiting another thirty degrees to throw water to the wind is not on my horizon. Also, smoking grass looks similar to a whale trying to breach the prairie. Come spring, I’ll be reseeding the lawn.
Today is a ridiculously cold, and getting colder, week. Forecast is for 10 days of single digit temps with wind chills in the negative digits. Oh, and new to the party, we are expecting fifteen to twenty inches of snow on Saturday. It just gets better, doesn’t it? I’m afraid to turn on the news tonight, in case of locusts or frogs. Lately, I’ve found myself tossing one or two items of clothing into the trash each day. I’m sick of everything in my closet, all of it, and instead of reasonably filling the voids before tossing things aside, I stare at empty hangers and swear no one Out There is making cute but affordable clothing for middle aged women. And then I get mad because I’m middle aged. And then the WEATHER is threatening my good spirit. I’m just angry. Yet I need my job. So I stomped outside in slippers — threw my boots out because the dog ate the top half; seemed reasonable to delete them from the closet — and promptly fell upon my bulbous bottom before spilling to the side taking out a shoulder. And here I am, still angry, but enjoying the benefits of Advil and tiny sips of limoncello while perched atop a heating pad by a roaring fireplace. Still no clothes to wear tomorrow — the most recent clothing purchase I made and still enjoy wearing was for a fundraiser shirt for a local charity; so soft, I’m telling you — still no appropriate footwear, still need to get to work tomorrow, but all in all, not a horrible day.
A photographer friend gave me a camera a while ago and I have yet to learn how to use it.
It’s on my list.
Today I wanted professional photos of my artwork and since I’m not a pro, I consulted my pro friend.
Granted, I’ve had the camera about a year and by now should have learned its ins and outs, or at least more than On/Off. But I didn’t.
Anyway, here’s our text-versation:
Me: What’s the best setting on the camera to take photos of paintings I’ve done now when the light is so good from my west window?
Him: Automatic is good as anything
Him: Maybe set your exposure compensation 1/2 stop over exposed
Him: Make sure shutter speed is at least 1/60th of a sec (preferably 1/100 or faster) if you are handholding the camera
Me: Yes! That’s the kind of weird professional photographer kind of technical stuff I was looking for! (I was really was, because then when someone asked, “How did you take this exquisite photo?” I could answer honestly with lingo I did not understand but accomplished.
Him: That said, you artists are very OCD with the photographing of your artwork so maybe take a pic and then if it’s not what you want, explain to me what’s wrong and maybe I could help with ideas
Me: Ha! Yes! Ok I like that!
Texts lag a bit, as you know; crossing in the ether allows for some delay, so his next thought was slightly behind my own.
Him: What do you mean?!!! You asked!!
Me: LOL! Yes I did
Him: And it wasn’t even technical! Next time though, next time
Me: It was totally technical…you can’t go from “fully automatic” to “f stops a half step over xx the short stop with bases loaded at 1/600 of a second past midnight”
Him: Two settings! TWO!!
Me: Problem: my paper is wrinkly and the window is so dirty I’m actually photographing smudged glass reflected upon my painting…I wish I was kidding.
Me: Where are these settings?
Him: Just use auto!
Him: And see what happens
Me: Ok, ok, sheesh…so much yelling…
Him: Then let me know what you don’t like about it. The whole key is trying to keep the whites white; the camera wants to make them gray. Hence 1/2 over exposed.
Me: Yup, gray. Where’s the half stop?
Me: And when was I OCD? I loved your photos [of my previous art, photos he’d taken and suspiciously did not offer to take today] and I don’t remember complaining about a single thing
Me: This th
ing [the camera] isn’t touch screen…it’s broken…
Me: I broke you, didn’t I?
Many minutes later…
Me: I found the half stop! Yay, me!
Twenty-two minutes later…
Him: Ok. Did you figure it out? Did you get results?
Me: I…got pretty pics…I think. Wanna see? I can maybe figure out how to DL to a FD [flash drive] and IM them to you. [I’m not certain in any way I can DL them…it requires a cord, and rising from this comfy chair and digging into the depths of one of the many kitchen junk drawers for a cord I’m not certain I would recognize if I saw it]
Yup, he’s done with me.
But sometimes, poking at someone is just too fun. 🙂
Yesterday, I communed with nature,
I meant to whack nature down with the tractor, not make peace, but along came a preying mantis to perch upon my hood.
I took the picture without cutting the mower because, hey, I was working. All that vibration and the mantis is fuzzy, yes, but look how crisp the grass appears? Splotchy, browned by August heat, but green thanks to weird rains.
We rode the acreage, and the bug made me miss my pups, the two who usually rode the plain atop my lap when I mowed. They are gone. One rode no matter what, ears flapping, toothless, tongue drying in the wind, there for the duration. The other rode until he couldn’t, at which point he clawed my denim leg seeking a point for launch. Brake. Set the pup free. Mow on, while he plodded along behind until the mower quit.
If Fitbit had counted his steps, he would have set records.
Now on a fine Sunday afternoon, a storm to the north sending cool breezes my way while I watch the clouds for lightning, Pup-less, I’m riding with a bug, his oversized eyes upon the changing horizon, my human-sized eyes torn between the sky and the insect. We are happy.
Around the sixtieth left turn, Mantis grew bored. With a pivot I did not see he set upon a path straight up the orange hood of the mower while my subconscious screamed, “They jump!”
Just as danger green-leg stilted in my direction, as soon as his antennae honed into my location, and as his back legs crouched further, tensed to pounce, I may have jerked the wheel to the left.
His tiny form flew past, front legs reaching to nab me.
Whatever he found wanting in the ride, I don’t know. But these days, I travel alone.
An hour later a juvenile rattlesnake sprang from beneath my favorite Vitex bush, and a cicada riding a weeded tree limb cried “foul!” from beneath the oversized plastic lid of the world’s most gigantic municipality-provided trash can.
I told them all to suck it and hit the shower.
All in all, a good day on the farm.
I didn’t take this as a clue, a premonition, insight from a cookie I cracked open in January at the end of a festive Asian meal celebrating the turning of a page.
At the time, I naively saw it as only interesting before snapping a photo-journalistic statement for the next 6-plus months:
Do I wish I was a prepper, now that store shelves are depleted? Yes, a little, but I still contend that I don’t have storage for superfluous food.
Ask me in a week, when the chocolate donut gems are a memory and Bubs is seeking yet another bag of baked Lays potato chips.
THEN I’ll fervently wish I was more of a prepper, and ALSO that I had more pantries.
But for NOW, while Social Distancing, in a county newly besieged by a lone despicable case of COVID-19, I CLEAN.
And I don’t just spot-clean like I’ve done all my life, nope, not today.
Today, I BACKMAN clean.
My favorite author wrote somewhere that he cleans a bathroom like a rabid tornado — not just a REGULAR tornado, a RABID one — and though I may have altered things a bit, in my head I see a gloved, snarling, middle-aged, blondish man armed with Lysol-equivalent spray bottles, wringing a soapy sponge, gutturally snorting and diving into the bowels of the most disgusting room in any home.
I channeled the vision and did the same. I CLEANED, people, I ATTACKED, with a fervor never seen in my fifty years. The tub GLOWS, the toilet GLEAMS, the floors are unwrapped from their coating of don’t-ask-just-remove accumulated over these many moons.
I cleaned so hard that the walls look MORE beige, THAT’S how vicious I was with the scrubbing brush, the anti-septic wipes, the numerous sponges that now reside in the big blue trash can outside.
I went all BACKMAN on it, then I did it AGAIN…because there are two bathrooms…and now I’m frenzied, hopped up on fumes and redolent sounds of blaring heavy metal reverberating around one-chick army of clean.
I’m slightly deafened…perhaps the sound could have been lower.
I’m exhausted…attacking filth is hard work.
My dermis is alligator-like, dry, hardened, moisture-depleted from so very many chemicals.
And I’m discouraged…because Bubs has finally risen, disappeared into the belly of the spotless restroom, and I’m going in there….never. It’s officially dead space to me.
So THAT’S good news. No more cleaning THAT area of the house.
But the I caught a glimpse of the feet of the stove. Have you ever seen the feet of YOUR stove? I’m going to need a nap before Going Backman on THAT.