Monthly Archives: January 2020

Hula Hoop Hullabaloo

I halted before an after-Christmas-sale toy display. What to my wondering eyes should appear, but a rattling, green-and-purple-striped Hula Hoop®.

Shades of the 1950s. I looked down. Was I was wearing anklets and Mary Janes?

As a four-year-old, I marveled as my friend Kathy bobbed and wiggled. Her hoop never touched the ground. Though my few borrowed sessions consisted of rattle-rattle-clunks, I wished the Hula Hoop® and I could be best friends forever (BFF).

But my mother doomed my dream. She said I could not steal it. So, I begged for a birthday hoop.

She informed me: a) $1.98 was a lot of money; and b) they were impossible to find. Wham-O sold 100 million hoops in 1958, with demand outracing supply. No hoop for me.

She lied. On my birthday, I received a green Hula Hoop®! When Dad sent it rolling toward a busy street, I shrieked. Had I found my BFF, only to lose her? To my utter amazement, Hoop rolled back to him. Birthday magic was complete.

My favorite toy accompanied our family on a mission trip to Mexico. Happily, the street children also spoke Hula Hoop®. Unknown to me, my neighbor Maria bragged about my superiority. This gringa, she proclaimed, could keep the hoop going 12 hours straight.

Another pigtailed girl faced me, a gleam of challenge in her dark eyes.

My BFF turned traitor. Rattle-rattle-clunk. Rattle-rattle-clunk. I failed my country.

I didn’t leave the mission compound for awhile. Maria joined a temporary witness protection program. During retirement, though, I couldn’t remain apart from Hula Hoop®. Our glory days were past. But we would stick together, come rattle-rattle or clunk.

Before long, our family planned a return to the States. My parents insisted we did not have room in the car for Hoop and my new baby brother.

Why not leave Brother and take Hoop with us? But no one asked my opinion, so I sadly tucked my BFF behind a dresser so no one else could play with her.

Fast-forward several decades. My sister insisted on introducing me to her new exercise equipment. Sessions with it had strengthened her core, she said.

A Hula Hoop®.

These days, I cannot even find my core. As I watched her bob and wiggle, I wondered: could an old friend aid in my search?

The New Year and my surprise Hula Hoop® encounter had reawakened both core conscience and childlike longings. I brought the hoop home.

Our sessions have largely consisted of rattle-clunks. My core remains AWOL. But I harbor no qualms about exposing my flab to Hula Hoop®.

After all, what are BFFs for?

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What was your favorite childhood toy?

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Giving Thanks for Winter?

O Lord, I’m tempted to gripe about dreary winter. Still, in January, I don’t do yardwork. I skip washing the car, because everybody’s car is grimy. And while poor souls in Hawaii must maintain abs of steel, my flab I conceal with warm, fuzzy layers. OMG, thank You for Indiana weather!  

Hotel Versus Home

“Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.”

Everyone knows the opening words to “Home! Sweet Home,” penned by John Howard Payne in 1823. Few know that Payne, an American whose family opposed his theatrical career, wandered Europe most of his life, dying in Tunisia.

What did he know about “home”? Payne rarely stayed around long enough to pay for trash pickup and roof leaks.

No doubt, his home-sweet-home fantasy was fed by the reality of 1820s lodgings, in which guests often shared rooms with scary strangers. If Payne were traveling today, he’d discover modern hotels present their own unique challenges.

For example, the more expensive a room, the harder it is to operate its coffee maker. Ditto for the clock — at least, I assume it’s a clock. Both devices appear to have been designed by NASA.

Likewise, nice hotel rooms feature remarkably complex TV remotes … whose batteries are always on the blink.

Given all this advanced technology, one would expect more than two clothes hangers in the closet, right?

I do appreciate hotel rooms’ multiple electrical outlets, as our 1960s home features one extra, originally intended for summer’s single oscillating fan. In most hotel rooms today, I’m not surprised to find outlets in the ice bucket.

But where the heck are the light switches?

John Payne probably took baths in a horse trough. Unlike us, he never faced crucial questions: will turning the faucet to red guarantee tepid or scalding water? Even worse (gaaaaahhh!), was the installer color-blind?

Payne surely couldn’t have imagined hotel grooming aids labeled “Clean Sand Spa.” Racier names almost prevent me from taking them home, for fear grandchildren will discover them in a bathroom drawer: “Grandma, what’s a French Fruity Massage?”

The French factor in today’s hotels does seem overdone. Who uses a duvet at home? Why do we need more French stuff in this country? Aren’t fries and toast sufficient?

I do, however, laud hotel king-size beds, loving those 26 pillows.

Did Payne pay extra for breakfast? Probably. Past, present, or future, nothing’s free. However, some modern “free” breakfasts are worth the hidden cost. Others feature orange water and cereal resembling kitty litter.

A less familiar verse of Payne’s song reveals his mind felt at ease at home. Is this true in my case? Not always, especially as I’m eating while sneaky ants pursue “free” breakfasts.

They picked the wrong ant hotel.

For me, though, it’s home. I can make coffee here, find light switches, and sleep well, even without French influence and with only one pillow.

“Be it ever so humble,” there’s no other place I’d rather be —

If only a housekeeper would show up.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your favorite hotel amenity?

Star Wars Oldie, er, Veteran

My husband and I wait in line to see The Rise of Skywalker.

Annoyingly skinny and unwrinkled, few fellow moviegoers viewed the original film. I am seized with the urge to proclaim — complete with drumroll and spotlight — “I’ve seen every Star Wars movie since 1977.”

Hubby indicates where his sock hat will go if I do.

Spoilsport.

Ignoring him, I recall that first, magical night. A medical student then, Hubby orchestrated a rare evening off. We scraped together five dollars for tickets. Annoyingly skinny and unwrinkled, we stood in a long line.

That money could have bought more groceries. This had better be worth it.

“Daaa, da, da-da-da daaa, da. …”

The music captured me. When “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. …” crawled up the screen, I followed the words into dark, velvety space.

I was there.

Breathless.

By movie’s end, this Trekkie admitted Luke Skywalker and Han Solo could compete with Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock. Besides, Princess Leia defied an evil empire with battle savvy — keeping her clothes on, which I appreciated, even back in 1977.

Though I never would twist my long hair into weird side buns.

Hubby interrupts my reverie with ticket choices that didn’t exist 40 years ago. “3-D? Or IMAX?”

I’m cheap. Besides, running screaming from storm troopers doesn’t sound fun. 

As for IMAX — “If I collapse with a heart attack,” I say, “you can explain to the ER why four-story-high space slugs were a great idea.”

“Maybe D-BOX seats?”

Supposedly, full-motion chairs also would immerse us in the action.

“Not after that brunch,” I say.

Hubby agrees.

Finally purchasing plain old (senior) tickets, we find our theater, mostly inhabited by other moldy oldies and cheapskates.

Pre-movie blather runs on forever. This had better be worth it.   

“Daaa, da, da-da-da daaa, da. …”

Huge words crawl into dark, velvet space.

I am there.

Breathless.

New characters, plot twists, and weird, intergalactic creatures. Past characters we greet as longtime friends, old glitches, and familiar, weird intergalactic creatures.

All entangled in a horrible, wonderful battle of good versus evil. Despite radical cultural shifts the past four decades, those values remain.

I do like Princess Leia’s new hairdo.

Still, how can “young Skywalker” have aged so? And Carrie Fisher looks like a … a matron. 

Um, so do I. Unlike Yoda, we can’t live 900 years.

Despite gray hair, Hubby and I anticipate additional chapters in our own stories. Exciting chapters.

As will the annoyingly skinny and unwrinkled.

Whether young or old, and regardless of Star Wars sequels, prequels or equals, let’s all grab the nearest Wookiee and fly high into new adventures!

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your favorite Star Wars movie?

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: But Aren’t We Still 21?

O Lord, Thank You that Saturday, Hubby and I celebrated 45 years of wedded stress — er, bliss.  You must have smothered a thousand laughs — and rolled Your eyes — as You’ve watched our attempts at adulting. But OMG, thank You for holding us together! We’re glad You continue to give us lessons in love. 

     

What Happened to Two Decades?

Has it really been 20 years since Y2K? Hoarding batteries, bottled water and turkey jerky, we feared computers would crash worldwide, technological brains scrambled until capable only of playing nonstop games.  

That didn’t happen, enabling millions of relieved humans to continue that role.

Others choose self-improvement, including making New Year’s resolutions.

Opponents argue that such resolutions last as long as a snowflake chomped by a kindergartner. Do resolutions accomplish even less than computer games?

Several years ago, I formulated a brilliant solution; I make only resolutions I can keep. Below, I’ve listed My Astute Pledges for 2020:

  • I vow to put away my Christmas decorations before Easter.
  • Obeying my mother’s long-ago admonitions, I promise to wear my boots outside … when there’s no snow to ruin them.
  • I will make at least one snow angel this winter. But not before Hubby rents a hydraulic lift to hoist me back on my feet.
  • I vow to amaze my neighborhood with spectacular spins and leaps on my icy way to the mailbox. Also, as I back our car out of the driveway. (I expect all 10s, folks.)
  • I resolve to wear lots of fuzzy, checkered socks. January needs all the excitement it can get.
  • I promise to go camping with my husband. I will, however, ignore all conversations that begin with, “I’ll bet Iceland is beautiful in January.”
  • I will continue to let my kitchen range outwit me. Weeks after the time change, it finally allowed me to change the hour on its digital clock. However, it adjusts the minutes to please itself, just to show who’s boss.
  • I promise to wow servers at our favorite Mexican restaurants with my Spanish. Never mind that I’ve ordered enchiladas with pineapple-lizard salsa and included a short treatise on jaywalking laws. I know they appreciate hearing their native language.
  • I pledge never to need a box for uneaten pizza.
  • Regarding chocolate: I will double my intake this year. Are you aware that, averaging nine pounds per year, Americans are 20th in world consumption? Unthinkable that the Swiss, Austrians and 17 other countries should out-chocolate us. So, I’ll do my patriotic duty.
  • When we play board games with grandchildren, I aspire to always come in last. (Unfortunately, older grandkids now refuse to be my partner.)
  • I promise to deny my adolescent grandchildren will ever, ever drive.
  • Finally, I resolve to LOL and hahaha more in person this year than on Facebook.

You, too? Then regardless of scrambled brains, computer or human, turkey jerky or patriotic chocolate, 2020 is well on its way to being a Happy New Year. Let’s go for it!

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What weird resolution will you make this year?