Friday, September 12, 2008

Stress Relief

The voices in my head are singing Saving Grace, by Everlast.

Relax, it's my iPod.

Here is a great way to relax when you're in that moment just before running through the streets of your neighborhood wearing only a Happy New Year hat and argyle socks, with a bullhorn, announcing the arrival of the Mother Ship.

I am so there--or I was, yesterday. This helped.

Turn off all the lights and light a few candles.

Start your bath, running the water a little warmer than you normally might. Pour in half a bottle of your favorite bubble bath--lavender scented is great for this. Some Lancome Aroma Calm bath oil is also nice. Throw in a fizz ball. The more products you put in the tub, the better.

Get the champagne bucket and start some chilling by the side of the tub. Sidebar: I have a reputation of ALWAYS preferring the most expensive of everything, and yet, while I've had pricey French champagne that I enjoyed, Korbel Brut (yes, I know technically it's not Champagne) is my favorite. This is an anomaly, as it usually goes for around twelve bucks a bottle.

If you've already had more than two glasses of wine, use Pellagrino instead of Korbel.

Crank up iTunes and make yourself a playlist of twenty songs that appeal. Resist the urge to fret over which songs to pick. Don't sit there and try top make the perfect Bathtub Playlist, and don't choose more than twenty. Remember, your bath water is running.

Transfer the new playlist to your iPod shuffle. The shuffle is best for bathtub use, as it's easily clipped to your bath pillow.

If you don't have a bath pillow, roll up a towel, clip the shuffle to it, and climb into the water.

Pour yourself a glass of bubbly, pop the earphones in, and turn on the iPod and the jets.

Your bath additives, activated by the jets will soon make mountains of bubbles, beyond which you cannot see. Close your eyes and sip the icy bubbly. When you start to feel too warm, hold your champagne flute over your face and turn it upside down, dousing your face, neck, and chest. Pour another glass.

Periodically peek at the mountain of bubbles. Just before they spill out into the floor, pull the plug on the tub. When the water level drops enough, turn on the cold water. This will keep the bubbles at a safe level.

Continue alternately sipping the champagne and pouring it on yourself until you feel human again.

After you get out of the tub, blow out the candles and go straight to bed. Sleep until you feel like getting up.

Disclaimer: Please do not try this at home if you cannot do it without drowning, scalding yourself, or experiencing an irreversible past-life regression.

Peace, out...


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Three Words You'll Only Hear at Jazzercise

Sing it, Susan!

This, from the Queen of Pain today, as we writhed on the floor in agony while of one of those American Idol winners belted out a poor imitation of Aretha's Chain of Fools. I couldn't tell you who was singing--I never watch that stuff. I think reality TV is a network conspiracy to make more money by not paying actors and writers. I digress.

To distract myself from the searing pain in my upper thighs--officially known at Jazzercise as the side butt--and because I love Aretha, I sang with enthusiasm. It's a testament to how bad the leg routine was that no one got up and left.

The last time I sang in front of people was during our annual Labor Day Family Weekend in the Mountains. I was jamming around the cabin with my iPod, singing along with The Black Eyed Peas when most of my family bolted from their rocking chairs into the woods, where they fled the vicinity along with all creatures great and small.

Only my brother-in-law, who is a kind soul, and was particularly attached to his rocking chair (and possibly bidding on something on Ebay as his eyes were glued to his laptop) stayed behind. "You sound different with that thing in your ears," he said. Who knew?

I have actually sang on stage, though it's been a, ahh...ahem... a few years. In high school, they let me sing on stage in not one, but two musicals--Bye Bye Birdie, and L'il Abner, although, a case could be made that few of my classmates wanted to sing and dance on stage, making it hard to cast an entire musical, and parts therefore easy to land.

Nevertheless, I sing, not so much for the enjoyment of others, but because it makes me happy. They let me do that at Jazzercise, which is one more reason I go.

Peace, out...


Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Another Brand New Start

Monday was the first day of my brand new diet. I'm trying South Beach this time. I think I'm the only person in the known universe who hasn't, and most everyone I know that's tried it lost weight. So far, the food is surprisingly good, and I haven't had to eat anything strange.

The weirdest diet I can recall embarking on was that Beverly Hills fruit diet many moons ago. That one had un-fun side effects. I seem to remember the woman who wrote the book saying that of course you sat on the toilet all the time--how else would you get rid of the weight? Fat doesn't just jump off your thighs...

Then, there was Atkins. I am not a pork lover, and, I have to tell you, eating pork rinds and a lot of bacon was not my thing. Also, if you eat too much of the Atkins candy, you're right back in the bathroom.

I thought about getting some of that Alli stuff that's all over the TV, but have you heard about the side effects? According to Consumer Price Watch dot net, possible side effects include:

• Flatulence (Bad enough.)
• Oily anal discharge (What is that all about???)
• Loose stools or diarrhea (Yuk!)
• More frequent bowel movements (Yuk again.)
• Hard-to-control bowel movements (Now, this one would not make you popular.)

Once again, one would be spending quite a lot of time in the loo. As nice as the bathroom in our new house is, I really don't want to spend my days there. Seems like it might be difficult to balance a laptop on your knees while sitting on the toilet.

Up until now, most of my dieting has been of the garden-variety counting calories persuasion. This, I get bored with in no time flat. I hate having one more thing to keep up with. Plus, I tend to cheat. I don't look up how many calories are in each thing--I estimate. Some of my estimations are suspect. Like, for example, I used to estimate that the Carolina Club salad at Ruby Tuesday's had about 400 calories. It' s a salad, right?

According to their website, it actually has 996 calories, and as far as I can tell, that's without the dressing.

I tried eating only things that come with labels that confess the number of calories, like Lean Cuisines, but The Queen of Pain insists that I shouldn't eat food that comes in a box.

So...I've stocked the kitchen with veggies and lean protein. I bought a new set of scales, having thrown the old ones out on account of they lied. Today is Day Three, and so far I haven't cheated--really.

We'll see how long this lasts.

Peace, out...


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Will Dance For Food

Yesterday, I drug myself back to Jazzercise to get to work my third resolution of 2008 to be more fit. It's nearly August, so I'm hoping the third time is the charm.

The Queen of Pain, who is normally on stage on Monday's at 5:40, was AWOL. I was put out, of course. How dare she not be there on the third Monday I've shown up this year? But, Donna, the Singing Alien was teaching, and I like her class.

Now, as I have not been in a month, after the first two songs I was, naturally, telling myself that it would be FINE for me to cut out early since it was my first day back. But then, Donna put on the dancing music. I don't even know what the song was, but it had a BEAT. And I remembered why I go.

I love to dance.

Well, that, and I have to do SOMETHING to burn off the Mega Moo Mocha Moo Lattes. I've decided to devise a point system. Something like, if I go to Jazzercise four days in a week, I can have Fettuccine Alfredo on Saturday. Or cheesecake. I'll put up posters of my favorite foods on the refrigerator...hey, whatever works.

Peace, out...


Thursday, July 17, 2008

People Like Me Should Stay Out of Walmart

I avoid Walmart for the usual reasons some folks do. Yesterday, I had to choose between going to Walmart for three items, or driving ten extra miles round-trip to Target. I gritted my teeth and went to Walmart. I only needed three things, and I recited them over and over as a mantra: picture frame, Swiffers, ice cream. Picture frame, Swiffers, ice cream. Get in, get out.

The parking lot should have been a tip that things were not going to go well. On Thursday afternoon it was packed. I parked half a mile away, and hiked across steaming asphalt. Once inside, all the other reasons I avoid Walmart slammed me upside the head.

Apparently, I am in the minority: hordes of people love Walmart, and they were all there yesterday. I don't handle crowds well. Actually, to be more precise, I don't handle throngs of people milling about, vacantly starring at aisle after aisle of stuff while I try to get my three things and get the hell out of there well.

Don't ask me why, but I got a cart. You just do. I'm absolutely convinced that the greeter hypnotizes you with her eyes when you walk in, forcing you to take a cart, even if you only want THREE things. I maneuvered the cart without incident to the picture frame aisle. Some impulse that I can't explain compelled me to load up three collage frames instead of the one, single frame I needed.

I resisted the urge to plow the cart over a woman much more voluptuous than me. She was browsing lingerie, and appeared to be running a block pattern to keep me from cutting through on the way to household cleaning supplies, which was a mile away on the other side of the store. I dodged grannies, small children, and what appeared to be a family of zombies doing some sort of tandem shopping.

Five of them, obviously brothers and sisters from their similar coloring and features, walked single file through the store in lockstep. The tallest one led the group. They never spoke, and they focused on the sibling in front of them. I don't know what the guy in front was focused on, but it was serious. Occasionally, one would reach out and pick something off a shelf, never missing a stride. They didn't have carts, and may have been operating covertly to avoid detection.

After what seemed a long journey through foreign lands, I arrived in household supplies. I had to plan my maneuver carefully, and jockey for position with three hundred fifty other folks who wanted Comet, Windex, or Pledge. I grabbed the Swiffers, then remembered I needed toilet bowl cleaner refills. They were on the other end of the aisle. I fell in behind the zombies as they parted the crowd.
They needed Scrubbing Bubbles toilet refills, too. Hmm...they were near picture frames when they first passed me. They came by the Swiffers and stopped at toilet refills, which I had nearly forgotten. Would they be stopping by ice cream? What else might they need that I was also out of? At the very least, walking behind them made navigating easier. I rode their wake out of household cleaners.
The next stop was dairy. Huh. I needed yogurt, so I snagged a few Yoplaits and jumped back in line. I wasn't good at picking up things while keeping in step, but I jumped back in quickly.
On our tour through Walmart, I filled my cart with a cornucopia of things I had no idea I needed. We did parade down the ice cream aisle, and I picked up my low-fat vanilla Edy's gourmet. The zombies didn't get ice cream. Somehow, they must have known I needed it.
As the zombie line headed towards the register, I reached out and scored a bottle of Merlot that I felt sure I was going to need if I ever escaped Walmart. Had I a cork screw, I would have opened it and drank it in line at the register.
The zombies checked out with the same efficiency they had shopped. Each in turn placed their items at the checkout, then moved to the other side and waited in line while the tall one paid. I waved and smiled as they marched out if the store. "Bye, y'all," I called.
The shortest one glanced over her shoulder and looked at me as if I was a nut. Of course, she had a point.
I've decided to do all my shopping online from now on.
Peace, out...

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Through the Looking Glass

So, my very good REASON for missing Jazzercise all week (even though I now have clean clothes) is that I've just returned from a trip to another galaxy. Faith, NC, may as well be another planet for how different life is there. I forget this when I haven't been home in a while.

Now, lest anyone think that I am ridiculing small towns, let me reassure all that I LOVE small towns, especially Faith. It holds a charm for me like no other place on earth. And, frankly, were it not for spending my formative years in Faith, I would no doubt be a normal person (how tediously boring!) without the neuroses from which I draw creative juice. It may not be necessary for every writer to be insane, but, speaking for myself, I would be utterly useless as a writer were I mentally stable.

I will tell y'all just ONE of the many interesting things that occurred during my recent sojourn. It involves squirrels, as many small-town tales do.

While I was growing up, my father shot many a squirrel. Along with rabbits, quail, deer--whatever. And we ate what he shot. Not all the time, of course, we had normal food as well, but, I confess that as a child, on many occasions, I had squirrel for dinner. My grandmother would skin, braise, and serve them with gravy, and usually rice. At the time, I thought absolutely nothing of it--it was a routine dinner menu. Although, looking back, I do recall that many nights Mamma had no appetite. And you can bet the farm she NEVER skinned anything.

While Daddy still owns his collection of rifles, shotguns, etc., the town of Faith has long since passed an ordinance against firing guns inside the town limits. For years, residents largely ignored this, but recently, some new folks have moved into town who tend to call the law, or, at the very least, walk over to inquire what is being shot at.

In recent years, squirrel has not been a dinner table staple, so this would not be an issue, except for the squirrels tend to dig up my mamma's flowers. This makes her unhappy, and when Mamma ain't happy...well, you know.

So, my brother-in-law bought my daddy a squirrel trap. Daddy baits this contraption with peanuts, and when a squirrel goes in, the door slams shut. When I arrived, on Monday afternoon, Daddy was aglow with the victory of a recent catch. He'd just returned from releasing the squirrel "out in the country" (which in and of itself is a joke, as Faith hardly qualifies as an urban area--I digress).

Late yesterday, as I was trying to catch up on email from Mamma and Daddy's snail-paced dial-up connection, Daddy yelled from the kitchen, "Come here, quick!"

I went running. He stood pointing out the kitchen window. "Look, he's going in!" A poor, unsuspecting squirrel was poking his head into the cage. He went for the peanut. As soon as the door slammed shut, Daddy went running out the backdoor. I followed him, aghast, as he proudly admired his catch. "Come on," he said.

"What?" I looked at him in disbelief. Surely, he didn't think I was going with him to relocate the squirrel. But he did. He put the cage in the back of the pickup truck. "Come on, you'll have to help." Under protest, I went, but only in case someone had to call 911 if the squirrel turned out to be rabid, or just plain mad about being caged and evicted, and bit Daddy.

Ten miles from my parents home, where Daddy reasoned the squirrel could not find his way back, my father pulled over, muttered at a women in the car behind us who was rubbernecking to see if perhaps he was disposing of a dead body, and released his captive. I stayed in the truck with the door locked, which was smart, because Daddy tried to open the passenger side door and give me an up-close view of the caged squirrel.

In a separate squirrel-related incident on Tuesday, my uncle, who lives outside the town limits, shot two squirrels with one shell, cunningly waiting until they were lined up, so he could take them out together.

Last night I kissed my mamma goodbye and drove two hours and fifteen minutes to the other side of the universe right after dinner--grilled hamburgers, nothing wild.

Peace, out...


Thursday, May 22, 2008

What A Nickle's Worth

On Monday, the parts for my space age washing machine did not arrive, as scheduled, from NEW ZELAND, in time for the TEAM to make it out to fix the d&%n thing. The new control panel and pump arrived late Monday afternoon, and the TEAM showed up bright and early yesterday to restore order in the Boyer laundry room. Mission accomplished!

The brave repairman came upstairs with the ticket, which had already been paid, because parts must be paid for upfront as UPS only runs in one direction--FROM--on the New Zealand route. Along with the ticket, which I had to sign for reasons unclear, the brave repairman held a nickle, and the old washing machine pump motor.

I bet you can see where this is going. He spun the rotor on the motor. It made a hellacious noise. He grinned. "The nickle got in the motor and made it go out. That's what shorted out the control panel.

"How did the nickle get into the insides of the washing machine?" I asked. I mean, even if it was in the tub, how could it get to the motor?

He shrugged. "I've seen all kinds of stuff get in there. Underwear, rocks, sticks..."

A month, without a washing machine, because one of us missed a nickle when emptying the change from our pockets into the jar which holds lottery money. (Not money we've won, but spare change with which we allow ourselves to purchase tickets, in hopes that we will one day win Giraffe Money. If you don't know what Giraffe Money is, here's a clue: Michael Jackson owns a Giraffe, or used to, on his Neverland... err, Ranch.

Talk to y'all later. I've got to go search a load for stowaway coins. That nickle cost me $396.65.

Peace, out...


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Yet Another Reason to Buy Stuff Made in the USA

On April 29th, my washing machine died peacefully in mid-cycle. One minute it was spinning my delicates, and the next, it had departed this world. As it was only four years old, and had died long before its time, I pulled out my manuals, located the customer service number, and called New Zealand.

You see, when we purchased this state-of-the-art-high-efficiency-eco-friendly appliance and its brother, the dryer, we were totally sold on how efficient and eco-friendly it was. It was a high-end set, one that we normally would have avoided due to the price tag. But it was ON SALE!

The folks at Jeff Lynch saw me coming. They'd likely had this blue-blooded marvel of modern machinery for months with no takers, because the suckers were made in NEW ZEALAND, and most folks in Greenville have better sense. Regrettably, I do not. I was quite impressed with the salesman's assurance that THIS washer and dryer only had two moving parts each which would naturally cut down on repairs...

The nice lady in New Zealand informed me that, of course their washers will last longer than four years. It simply needed to be repaired. She gave me the phone number of the lone authorized repair shop in the area. I called. They come to Greenville on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, they said, but they were all booked up that week. They could come out the NEXT Monday.

Because my husband loves me, and knows that if I had to go inside a laundry mat my therapy sessions would increase to three times a week (which would be very expensive), he went.

On Monday, the repair team (yes, it takes two repairmen to look at appliances made in New Zealand) were here exactly four minutes before the brave one informed me that all they could do that day was collect the $65 for the service call because the control panel had gone out, and a new one would have to be ordered. They don't stock repair parts on this brand.

I said something my mamma probably wouldn't approve of, then wrote him a check. He told me that I'd have to call the office and order the part because the computer was down. He wasn't sure what it would cost, but I'd have to pay for it in advance because parts ordered from NEW ZEALAND are non-returnable.

I called. I said some more things my mother wouldn't approve of to the poor lady who answered the phone. She ordered my control board ($245) and scheduled the team to come back out the following Monday. Poor Jim went back to the laundry mat.

But, the part didn't arrive on time from NEW ZEALAND, and she called me the next Monday morning to let me know that they'd have to reschedule for Wednesday. On Wednesday, I was going to be out of town, so we rescheduled for the next Monday.

Poor Jim went back to the laundry mat. But this time, sure that the washer would finally be fixed on Monday, he only did what we absolutely had to have to get through the weekend.

On Monday morning (of this week) the repair team came in with the control panel. "This shouldn't take long," the brave one said. I came upstairs and went about my day. Ten minutes later, the brave one called upstairs, "Ah, Ma'am?"

I was on the phone, but quickly finished my call and scurried downstairs, alarmed by his now not-so-confident tone. The team was huddled over the patient, which had been disassembled like one of those bodies being autopsied on CSI. I will tell you right now that there are way more than two moving parts.

The brave one shook his head. "It was your motor that shorted out the control panel. Soon as we got the new one on, it took it right out. We're going to have to order a new motor," he said. From--you guessed it--NEW ZEALAND. All they could do was collect the money for the motor. The computer was up, so they knew they needed a check for another $86.43. "You won't have to pay for another circuit board," the one that never would look me in the eye assured me.

They're coming back next Monday.

Poor Jim will go back to the laundry mat this weekend...

But because LAST weekend he only did what we thought we'd need until Monday, I am slap out of workout clothes. Which is why I did not make it to Jazzercise yesterday, nor will I make it today or tomorrow. I am not happy about this at all, because I was finally back into my routine, but, let's face it, I can't dance without my motion-control workout bras and lycra capris.

I bet you those New Zealand washing machine manufacturers are all are part of the Vast Fat-Wing Conspiracy.

Peace, out...


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Singing Alien

Okay, today was an interesting day in the torture chamber, and I'll tell y'all all about it just as soon as I get something off of my chest: there ought to be some agency that regulates people who manufacture scales. I have cut WAY back on what I'm eating--I've not had a Mega Moo Mocha Moolatte since way before they closed the Dairy Queen in Greer. I've even cut back on wine--I only drink it only on weekends. And I've been exercising my derrierre off every day.

And today, that lying piece-of-junk scale said I'd gained a pound. Myra should have that thing calibrated more often. With all those starving people with aching muscles running around the place, somebody could snap. It might be me.

Anyway, today, I danced with Donna, who, previously I had thought of as "The Serene Alien." She just has this peaceful aura about her that calms your nerves while your blood is pounding in your ears and your left arm is tingling. Today her serenity was taxed when there was a music malfunction. Now, with no music, many Jazzercise instructors would have immediately opted to switch to a body sculpt format, which would have meant getting to lie down on the mats sooner, but lots more spot torture.

Not Donna's class, the show does in fact go on. She SANG the songs to us, seamlessly inserting cues into the lyrics. It hepled that Donna actually CAN sing--she's quite good. But the truly amazing thing--and the dead give away that's she's a high ranking alien--is that she never lost her breath nor glistened while dancing the highest intensity song in her set and singing the whole time.

Betty was Donna's class manager today. Class managers log the victims into the computer and keep 911 on speed dial and such. They also assist in technical emergencies. Things really got interesting when Betty joined in to help Donna out with the singing. Don't get me wrong--lots of us sing from time to time: with the music playing at rock-concert levels, who can tell that you couldn't carry a tune in a Kate Spade purse? But, there was no music today...

Betty, bless her heart...the best thing I can say about Betty's singing is that it's better than mine. And I'll say this: Betty didn't sing long before Donna somehow fiddled with that sound system and got that sucker kick-started.

I'm going to get my aspirin. Then I'm going to Goggle the manufacturer of that sorry excuse for a scale...

Peace, out...


Monday, May 12, 2008

Postpartum Depression

No, I haven't been on maternity leave since last June. Y'all wouldn't believe all the many valid (or at least plausible) reasons that I've fallen off the exercise wagon (and abandoned my blog) for nearly a year, so I'll skip those, but none involved bearing children. Likely, it was due to the efforts of the notorious Vast Fat-Wing Conspiracy (VFWC).

Anyway...when last I reported on my attempts to become svelte, the Queen of Pain (also know as Casey, the alien Jazzercise instructor), was undergoing a bizarre alien birthing ritual that required her to perch on her throne for months while others brought her offerings of peanut butter milkshakes.

A while back she delivered a gorgeous child that appears to be a human baby girl. We'll see. The QOP has been back on stage significantly longer than I have been back on the dance floor. I drug my self back in about a month ago. This was a huge mistake.

Pregnancy, I have learned, turns your average alien aerobics instructor into a woman consumed with the need to burn calories...mine, yours, hers...all calories must be dealt with harshly. We are ALL suffering to make sure that the QOP (who is, naturally, skinnier than she was pre-pregnancy) looks good in her bikini this summer. She shoved a whole extra song into her set today, and every last one of them was so fast I swear it sounded like she was auctioning cattle while she cued.

I crawled out of there, drug myself home and started speed eating aspirin.

It's going to be a long, painful road back...

Peace, out...