Monthly Archives: February 2017

Confessions of a Weekend Snowbird

Several winters ago, I flew to Florida. But only for a weekend. And only because of work.

Thanks to my in-laws, I realize snowbirding isn’t easy. Snowbirds deal with two sets of household worries. Before leaving the Midwest, they must forward mail, stockpile medicines, and empty refrigerators. By law, they cannot desert the state until they eat or give away every single egg.

I only had to stockpile frozen dinners for Hubby — and assure him I would try not to enjoy my work too much.

However, I faced wardrobe complications, digging through mountains of summer clothes for an outfit that fit. Usually I don’t even have to say the word “waistline” until May.

Migration itself proved challenging. At the airport, I, a sixtyish grandma armed only with expired Liquid-Plumr® coupons, was dusted for explosives.

The airline also implemented an aggressive program to increase passenger space. All zone four passengers, including myself, were tossed into compactors that crunched us into pillow-sized rectangles. We fit into the airplane seats, no longer suffering from lack of leg room.

Finally carted from the aircraft, I understood why snowbirds brave Florida migration tribulations. Palm trees, with real green leaves, fluttered a hello. Brilliant flowers abounded. No wonder the Spanish explorers named it “Flowery Land.”

Today, however, they might name it “Trailer Court Country.” Thousands bloom on the Florida landscape. These mobile home parks offer neighborhood lifestyles like no other. Need to borrow a cup of sugar? Simply stick your measuring cup out your window into your neighbor’s kitchen.

Need exercise? Walkers benefit physically and enjoy constant access to neighbors’ favorite episodes of The Andy Griffith Show — at Cape Canaveral sound levels.

If such excitement does not suffice, back out of a driveway amid the daily NASCAR Golf Cart Challenge.

I did enjoy the novelty of hearing, “You’re so young!” Throw in fresh seafood, and it doesn’t get much better than that.

Given my schedule, I did not see the ocean. Had I viewed its blue, sparkly waves, I might have, as my hospitable hosts urged, stayed much longer.

Instead, the heat chased us inside, where they turned on air-conditioning. I tried to imagine avoiding torrid Easter temperatures. Seeing Santa in a red tank top.

I envisioned myself in a bathing suit most of the year.

That prospect scared this temporary snowbird back to airport security, zone four passenger compactors, and a flight back to her Midwestern nest.

Are you a snowbird wannabe? Or do you prefer snuggling by the fire?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: February Heat Wave

O my God, the Ten Commandments include “Thou shalt not covet,” so I try not to envy those who spend $$$$ so they can post beach pictures in Florida. But OMG, is it wrong to feel just a little smug that today in Indiana, we’re expecting 65 degrees?

 

 

Lovin’ It

Me, a prim 6-year-old

Vestiges of first-grade shyness still cling to me when Valentine’s Day nears.

As my class colored purple-lined mimeographed hearts, our teacher explained we’d soon celebrate a love holiday.

“Ooooooh.” The boys made kissing noises.

Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween — none of these turned my face red as my Crayola. I’d even heard yucky rumors people kissed at midnight on New Year’s Eve. But my parents always sent me to bed early, so I didn’t have to witness it.

Now in school, I celebrated mushy Valentine’s Day. Despite reservations, I enjoyed decorating a white doughnut bag with pink hearts — though I had no idea why. Then our teacher explained we, like mail carriers, would deliver valentine cards to our classmates’ bags to make them feel special.

Though I didn’t consider Scary Larry Williams and Donny the Dirt Adams special, I could live with that. On Columbus Day, we only sang songs about a dead sailor who got lost. On Valentine’s Day, I ate the red-hot cinnamon hearts off a pink-frosted cupcake, then washed it down with cherry Kool-Aid.

I labored over my class list, reserving ballerina valentines for my girlfriends. For boys, a lower species, I selected animals. Ugly ones.

I suffered my first case of writer’s cramp printing names on the cards. This love stuff was hard work!

But I received pink ballerinas and multiple Snow Whites in return. I even enjoyed those sent by subhuman boys.

I applied phonics to the faint print on candy hearts, only to discover such steamy sentiments as “my baby,” “be mine,” and the dreaded “kiss me.” More disconcerting: we each received fat red wax lips. The first-grade class looked as if we’d made a field trip to a plastic surgeon’s. More kissing noises.

But Mrs. Cade didn’t stand the boys in the corner. Instead, she abdicated her moral responsibility as a teacher and donned lips herself!

Later, I asked my mother to solve the mysteries surrounding the heart candies. Was “my baby” supposed to be a compliment? All my baby brother did was pee, poop and puke. Mom said a young man might call his girlfriend “baby.” That explained the incomprehensible songs on the radio.

Valentine’s Day appeared the strangest holiday of the year, and the love/romance scenario remains puzzling as ever. But it’s nice to know I’ve moved past the first-grade version. Forget the candy hearts; now I’m into Belgian chocolates.

I also understand real love means even harder work than addressing valentines.

And that kissing noises aren’t so bad, after all.

 

How do you remember your first Valentine’s Day experience?

 

 

 

Morning Vs. Night People

Two kinds of people coexist in this world: morning people and night people. Night people don’t officially breathe until noon. Morning people stop breathing at 10:00 p.m. Or earlier.

During peak energy hours, both can conquer their respective worlds. During lethargy hours, they also conquer those worlds, but they require coffee. Oxygen. And a spouse/parent/boss wielding a high-voltage cattle prod.

All toddlers and preschoolers are morning people. Their shiny inner weaponry systems launch them from bed at the crack of dawn. They will begin search and destroy missions unless intercepted with a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios.®

 Fortunately, they retire early, which explains why the human race has survived.

The lone exception: if a parent must reach a destination before 8:00 a.m. Then little ones portend the future when, as comatose teenaged princesses, they won’t awaken if 10 Prince Charmings appear; or, as hairy 17-year-olds, they must be spatulaed from their beds.

I, an oddball teen, retained my morning person habits. As a college student, however, I had to change my ways.

Even my boyfriend, Steve, who shared my staunch early-to-bed-early-to-rise background, joyously embraced night-person status. I attempted staying awake till midnight. According to Steve, I learned new study skills, including turning pages for hours while dead asleep. When our weekend Bible study group partied, I never lasted through a game of Monopoly. Dragged to a quiet corner, I snoozed until awakened for breakfast.

Regardless, I, a dedicated music student, hit the practice rooms by 8 a.m. Afterward, I phoned my boyfriend.

Groggily, he asked, “Did I miss breakfast?”

“You missed lunch.”

“Oh.” Then, “You want to get something to eat?”

I’d already eaten twice. But if the early bird got the worm, pecan pie proved a satisfactory substitute.

After marriage, a studio apartment, medical school/practice and new babies helped us cope with our incompatibility. We no longer categorized ourselves as morning or night people. We mostly were exhausted.

Fast forward a few decades. Steve has slipped into old patterns, staying up to finish compelling books or ball games. He occasionally sleeps in, wrapped in blankets like a giant burrito. I confess to adopting his stay-in-bed vice during dark, arctic months.

But soon, dew-fresh spring mornings will arrive. I’ll run outside early to welcome delicious fragrances wafting from earth, trees and flowers. Most birds are morning people, too, singing their best concerts at dawn. On days like that, how could I be anything else?

Which do you do better, mornings or nights?

 

 

 

 

 

Lifetime Fitness Awareness

Three little words.

We’ve all heard them: word trios that drop on our heads like clusters of miniature anvils.

  • You are overdrawn.
  • The IRS called.
  • What’s our deductible?
  • Congratulations! It’s quadruplets.

But the three words on my adult college registration eclipsed them all.

Dress for exercise.

Dress for exercise?

“Lifetime Fitness Awareness is required for everybody,” my college adviser insisted.

“But I’m already aware,” I whined. “My knees crack and I injured my back reading the newspaper. Why should I throw away perfectly good money to find out what I already know — my abs of steel are flabs I conceal.”

She gave me a sympathetic look, but said nothing.

At the first session, I felt encouraged. Our instructor, a Nice Young Man (over-50 translation for hunk), prayed at the beginning of class for health and well-being. A Christian college has its advantages; I could use Divine help, especially since one glance told me I was at least 10 years older than any of my co-sufferers.

He prayed, his voice full of compassion.

Then he proceeded to kill me.

“Okay, everybody, let’s hit the weight room!”

Weight rooms exist for football players. Olympic medalists. Japanese wrestlers in loincloths.

I don’t even like to swimsuit shop.

As we filed into the weight room, young men with biceps the size of hams gave us polite smiles as each hoisted half a house above his head.

I stared at a machine.

It smirked back. Deep in its shiny metal innards, it knew the truth: to me, heaven presents no mystery, compared to the incomprehensible operation of any and all machines.

I refused to be defeated by a lower species. I grasped the machine’s cold, skeletal limbs and yanked them toward my chest. The machine fought back, but with grim determination, I conquered my opponent. I had nearly completed a whole set when the instructor interrupted me.

Would I please stop wrestling with the equipment rack?

He stuck close after that, introducing me one by one to various torture devices:  machines that

  • bent my biceps,
  • pulled my pectorals
  • decreased my height
  • reversed my elbow direction.

“Can you believe it?” I asked my adviser later, after describing my brush with death by machinery. “We spent the last class session talking about managing stress. I’ll tell you about stress. Taking ‘Slow Execution 101.’”

My adviser looked up from her schedule of classes. “You’re mistaken,” she said. “That course is required next semester.”

What exercise horror stories are you trying to forget?