Drinking

I bought this new Camelbak water bottle that you turn upside down, put in your mouth, squeeze and the water comes out. It’s pretty cool because unless you squeeze it you can turn it upside down and the water doesn’t come out. Apparently, it takes a little getting used to.

The other day at pickle ball my friend Cooper was sitting on the bleachers waiting to play. I looked at him as I was walking by, turned the bottle upside down in my mouth and squeezed. Something went awry. I’m not sure if water squirted from my mouth or dribbled out but something less than elegant happened. Cooper probably knows.

“You alright?” Cooper sort of mumbled. I laughed and sat down next to him.

“What?” he said, “You look at me and forget how to drink?”

“Something like that….” I replied. We laughed until we almost cried.

 

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My friend Cooper with his friend (That’s not me!)

         The water bottle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“OUCH!!”

“Ouch, oh god!” I exclaimed.  “OW!”  Helen made consoling sounds but kept on working.

I was born with several congenital abnormalities and as a result I’ve had more surgeries than the average person and maybe a few more aches and pains.  Big areas are my hips, low back and since taking up pickle ball my shoulder and elbow.  I probably play more pickle ball than I should although who is to say?  (Is 14 hours a week too much?)

She calls it “Korean Massage” but what Helen does is outrageously deep tissue muscular therapy.  It keeps all my parts working and I see her twice a month.  She is a master at her craft and if the issue is muscular, she can fix it.  It might take a while but she will do it.  Her Christmas card to me said, “Thank you for letting me keep your body updated.  Happy Christmas.”  I supplement her work with regular stretching so I can joyfully and addictfully continue playing my sport.  (I take the creative license on my own blog to make up words!)

Helen is Korean and trained in her country and in the US.  She is soft-spoken, subtle, graceful, highly intelligent and respectful.  When I enter her space she performs a slight bow.  I return the gesture.  Her English is coming along but isn’t fluent.  We have a wonderful time together.  I am very good at understanding accents and I’m very patient and persistent in trying to understand what she is saying and we’ve made huge strides in in our communication.  She tells me I’m “opened mind” so she feels comfortable as we go back and forth until we understand what the other is saying.  We do all this while she is expertly finding any and all areas on my body where my muscles might be sore, tight or utterly killing me.

I look forward to seeing Helen every other week but I don’t look forward to the pain.  As I drive away however, I am pain free so it’s worth it.  Today as she worked on me I was saying “Ouch!! and OW!”  At these times she models a deep breathing technique and I can hear her and begin doing it myself.  Sort of like Lamaze for childbirth.

Then this gentle soul quietly said, “You say ouch and ow, some people I work on say son-of-a-bitch or mother fucker.  I know what son-of-a-bitch means but what about mother fucker?”


Getting Older

“Maybe this young lady will know…” he said, as an embarrassed looking shopper sped away.

People in Texas are very polite and it always makes me chuckle when they refer to me as a young lady. I mean, c’mon, I’m 58. However, this man was clearly in his late eighties or early nineties so to him, I suppose I’m a spring chicken.

Something that makes me feel sad is when someone like that shopper is embarrassed by another person who needs help and speeds away.

There’s the good, the bad, and the ugly about aging. Not so thrilled with sagging skin, wrinkles, aches and pains, doctors’ appointments, etc. But there are some up sides and one I’ve been keenly aware of lately is our tendency to take care of one another, people we don’t even know, a lot better than we did when we were younger. Having the time and not being in such a huge rush all the time surely has something to do with it. But also, life experience, illness, surgery, loss and vulnerability create intense compassion.

I have a new friend named Kelly who I met at pickle ball. I don’t know her well but her sense of humor is infectious and for those of you who don’t know me, that is right up my alley. When Kelly and I are together much of the time is spent laughing. One day at Pickle ball when I first met her, Kelly fell down and hit her head on the gym floor. I rushed over to help her up, as did many people. I told her to sit and drink water and listen to her body and if anything felt weird, I would immediately take her to the emergency room. She said she was fine but would do what I said. Twenty minutes later she came to me and said she was feeling a little light headed. I said, “let’s go!!” I wanted my exercise and my fun that day at Pickle ball but this was more important.

Recently, Kelly blew out her Achilles and had to have surgery. She is on one of those scooter things to keep all weight off her leg. The other day I took lunch to her house. We talked and laughed and I helped her fill dog dishes with water, feed the fish, replace toilet paper in bathrooms and play with her adorable dog.

Today I was at Walgreens looking for beauty products for 58 year olds. (HAHA!) Suddenly I heard, “Maybe this young lady will know…..” I turned and saw a very old man with a shopping cart containing his folded up walker and some items he had chosen as he shopped. (The shopping cart provides the same support as a walker as I well remember from after my hip surgery.)

I did not hesitate. I walked right up to him. “What do you hope I know, sir?”

“Do you know where the hair gel is?” he said without hesitation.

“We are in the right aisle,” I replied, “this is the hair section. Are you looking for men’s or women’s hair gel?

“It doesn’t matter!!” he said sort of grouchily, which made me laugh because he reminded me of the character playing Winston Churchill on Netflix “The Crown”.

“Okay, let’s figure this out,” I said, “Is it for you or someone else?”

“Me,” he said, “I’ve got to control this hair when I’m at the office!”

“Okay, fine and by the way your hair looks great,” I said. “Now let’s look at some of these products. Here, let’s sneaky open this one, does this feel right?” I said as I put some of the product on his fingers.

He shook his head and looked somewhat annoyed. (Just like the cantankerous Winston Churchill.)

“My wife knows what it is, she bought it for me!”

“You should have brought the empty container then this would have been easy,” I said.

“I should have brought my wife!”

I laughed out loud.

Suddenly he said, “Here it is! This is it!” It was Suave $1.99 hair gel.

“Great!” I said, “I’m so happy you found it!”

He then proceeded to talk to me for about 15 minutes about his life. He is 90 years old, a molecular biologist who owns several small companies creating products I really didn’t understand. (A dressing for wounds which knows when to come off your body so that ripping the thing off doesn’t damage tissue, etc.) He has turned the company over to his granddaughter but still goes into the office every day. (Which is why his full head of hair needs to look so awesome.) I stood with him patiently and listened to him happily.

Out at my car, I worried a little about him getting his purchases and walker to his car. He was mentally completely there but he was fragile physically. I watched as he came out. It wasn’t good. He had the shopping cart in front of the walker and was trying to finagle both. I guess outside he felt he needed the walker and not just the walker folded into the shopping cart like he was doing inside.  I was about to park my car to get out and help when a woman my age saw what was happening and stepped over to help him. He immediately gave her the shopping cart and clutched his walker more tightly while pointing to his car. This woman stayed with him, with her own shopping bags in her hands, while he slowly got his stuff into his car and told her his life story. I stayed in the parking lot to watch. When he finally got into his car and the woman went on her way to her car, I pulled around to her.

“I saw that whole thing,” I said, “and so did God. Good for you!”

She smiled, put her hand to her chest and blushed.

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Fun (And Funny) With Tim

“He’s going to have to close to perfect,” I told the owner of a dog walking service when I first moved to Dallas and was looking for help with my dogs.  “I mean, I’m going to have to be comfortable with him in my house, having a key and caring for my dogs.  I believe it is going to take a long time for me to find the right person, but you can send him over and I will meet with him, but don’t hold your breath.  Also, I hate hurting people’s feelings so when I call you to tell you he’s not right, please make something up so his feelings are not hurt.”

What I didn’t know is that Tim, a retired non-profit high level executive who had taken a part time job caring for dogs for pocket change, would be going on his very first meeting with a client.  He was brand new with the company.

The doorbell rang and I hesitantly opened the door.  The person who stood in front of me was obviously gay, had beautiful, piercing blue eyes, had amazing eye contact and I trusted him before he even said a word.  He was wonderful with my dogs and by the time he left, he had my house key.

Fast forward 2 and a half years or so….I stole Tim from the dog walking company to work for me and my husband at our home.  He is my best friend in Dallas and he does all our landscaping, helps with the dogs, schedules service people, stays here when Steve and I travel and much more.  In fact, he took care of me after my back surgery because Steve had to go on a business trip.  I wish I had on video the scene of him trying to get compression stockings on me in the morning and off me at night.  OMG!  I told him back then that it’s perfect that he’s gay because I am so Ir-friggin-resistible.  (hehe, I’m no spring chicken and I looked horrid after my surgery.)

So, anyway, last week we had a problem with the thermostat/AC in the master bedroom.  Yes, it’s still warm here but the humidity is really why you need the air on.  Tim was worried he couldn’t get the AC repair guy out fast enough and said, “Are you sure you’ll be comfortable this weekend?”  I said, “Yes, because I will be in a hotel in Houston and you’ll be staying here.  Will you be comfortable?”

The last time Tim and I took Haley to the vet we pointed out a weird growth she has on her head about the size of a pencil eraser.  They were all analytical and Tim was asking all these questions and then I said, “Hey you guys, about a year ago after 3 glasses of wine I pinched that thing right off with my fingernails and threw it in the bushes. She didn’t even wince so I know it didn’t hurt.   My mom did that to some wierd growth on the back of my neck years ago which is how I learned this technique.  Mine never came back, Haley’s has after a year but if you don’t want to complicate things, I’ll have 3 glasses of wine tonight and take it off again.”  Tim was hysterical with laughter, the vet and tech were kinda dear in the headlights.

A while back, Tim and I were talking and I mentioned a woman Steve and I know who Tim has also met.  “She’s gay, you know, Tim,” I said.  “Oh, she is?”  he asked surprised.  “Yes, Tim, everyone’s gay” I joked.  “Oh right, they just don’t know it yet…..” he replied.  We roared.

Tim and I have so much fun and he adds so much to my life and I’m so grateful for him.

Are You My Mother?

Just heard from my Mom. To me, she is the funniest person on the planet.  From the time I was one and a half years old and could understand what she was saying she has always made me laugh.  This is classic Mom:

I went in yesterday for a flu shot. They were giving them in the lobby of Kaiser which is big. I registered, waited my turn and was ushered to table number 3.
The pretty nurse said “how old are you?”
“I’m 80,” my mom said.

“Are you allergic to eggs?” she was asked

“No,” my mother replied.

“Have you ever had dizziness or disorientation?” pretty girl asked.

“No,” mom said.  “I mean maybe four times in my life when I drank too much champagne!”

“Normal,” pretty girl said.

“Do you have allergic reactions?” 

“To certain people,” my Mom replied.  (To those of you who know me, if you think I’m a rebel, you should meet my mom!!)

“Have you had any incidences lately with pests that felt disturbing in your life or left you feeling anything less than healthy?” pretty girl asked.

“Yes!” Mom said a little too loudly.  “There were deer on my redwood forest property in the last several days and they ate the flowers I JUST planted! SOOOOO frustrating!!”

“We’re almost done here.  Do you feel safe at home?”  

“Uh, I live in the middle of a redwood forest that is very isolated.  Are you referring to the person I live with or anxiety in general.  Are you a therapist or a person who gives a flu shot?  This is getting a little wierd….”

“Okay, final answer before I give you your flu shot. Are you or do you plan on getting pregnant in the near future?”

“Yes, as soon as I can.


Human Silverbacks

“There are a lot of alpha personalities in the room!” he said.

A normal gorilla troop in the wild consists of a silverback male, several females (called a Harem, sorry gals) and all of their offspring. The silverback calls the shots. He dictates when to feed, when to nest, when to move on, etc. He also breaks up bickering between his females and patrols his territory for his family’s safety. It’s a stressful job and silverbacks are notorious for heart disease. But he is, without a doubt, the boss.

I know our DNA is 98.5 percent the same as gorillas. But we are human and I have noticed in racquet sports if women and men are playing together, certain men revert to gorilla behavior.

I am an amateur expert on the Western Lowland Gorilla and the Chimpanzee and I work as a Gorilla and Chimp Ambassador at the Dallas zoo speaking to zoo guests about their behaviors and personalities. We are desperately trying to save these animals from extinction.  I know each individual chimp and gorilla intimately and I love every one of them with my heart and soul.

Eight months ago I switched from years of tennis to a game called pickle ball. It originally was for slightly older to very old people but young people are swooping in because it is so much fun (addicting actually) and such great exercise. It is very fast, can be played very aggressively and it’s a mix of women and men of all ages.

The behavior that concerns me in pickle ball is certain men thinking they are in charge like a Silverback!  They force unsolicited advice onto women, try to dominate how the rotation works, try to monopolize courts for themselves and other men, and sometimes even try cruel tactics to get the weaker women off the courts by slamming them with balls on an overhead smash, often 0n very old women. Let me be clear, most of the men do not fall into this category, many I would describe as officers and gentlemen, but something like 15% act like they can call the shots.

Breaking News: I am an assertive person.

Assertiveness is my nature and the school I attended of very hard knocks ( In addition to getting my degree in biz mgt at a U, so as to not sell myself short) has reinforced it. I try very hard to be self-aware enough to not let it slip over into obnoxiousness. But I am definitely not going to be a door-mat to anyone. I am also a very good pickle ball player. I have told many, many men in the last eight months that I do not want or need their coaching. I have had male partners tell me where to stand, when to come to the net, how to serve, etc. all of which I completely ignore. I withhold eye contact with those guys and freeze ‘em out. I pretend I’m playing alone. They can go to hell. The game will be over soon and I’ll have a different partner who is not so insecure or whatever the problem with this one is.

When summer arrives our pickle ball venues become inundated with children at summer day camps and the availability of gym time is at a premium. Translation: there are not as many places and times to play so the ones where we can get very, very crowded. This is when we have to figure out systems for rotations for use of pickle ball courts.

Recently three men and I were having a discussion about how that rotation should work. Seems everyone has a different opinion. I play at so many different venues (and most people don’t) so I’ve learned several different ways to do the rotation and I participated in the conversation wholeheartedly. The younger men are used to strong women in these kinds of situations, of course, but apparently the older ones are not.

After that dialogue we came to an agreement on some rotation systems to experiment with. Half an hour later I was sitting on the bleachers next to a 78 year old man who had been part of the rotation discussion.

“There are a lot of alpha personalities in the room,” he said.

“Yes there are,” I agreed, “maybe because this is a competitive sport.”

He leaned into me. “There are a lot of FEMALE alpha personalities in here,” he said.

“Yes,” I said, “and I know I’m one of them if that is what you are trying to say .”

“Well,” he said, “some men don’t like to argue with women.”

I’m positive my jaw dropped. I couldn’t believe what I’d just heard. To me this implied there are “people” and there are “women”.  I was flabbergasted.

I turned my head slowly and looked him in the eyes.

“That is too damn bad,” I said quietly.

He has treated me like a queen every time I’ve see him since that day.

 

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Mr. Perfect

I wish I did, but I didn’t write this and I don’t know who did so I can’t give them the credit.  My sister sent it to me and I love it.

I recently picked a new primary care doctor.  After two visits and exhaustive lab tests, he said I was doing fairly well for my age.

A little concerned about that comment, I couldn’t resist asking him, “Do you think I’ll live to be 80?”  He asked, “Do you smoke tobacco, or drink beer, wine or hard liquor?”

“Oh no,” I replied.  “I don’t do drugs either.”

Then he asked, “Do you eat rib-eye steaks and barbecued ribs?”

“Not much….my former doctor said that all red meat is very unhealthy!”

“Do you spend a lot of time in the sun, like playing golf, boating, sailing, hiking or bicycling?”

“No, no I don’t,” I replied

“Well then,” he said, “do you gamble, drive motorcycles, drive fast cars or have lots of sex?”

“No,” I said.

He looked at me and said, “Then why do you even give a shit?”

 

 

 


Stay Calm and Chive On

They must be chefs I thought as within a couple weeks I saw the phrase “Stay Calm and Chive On” on several t-shirts and bumper stickers. It’s the only thing I could think of to make sense of this phrase. I’m a cook. Here is a lovely definition of a chive:

Chives belong to the same family as onion, leeks and garlic.  They are a hardy, drought-tolerant perennial growing to about 10-12 inches tall. They grow in clumps from underground bulbs and produce round, hollow leaves that are much finer than onion.  In mid-summer, they produce round, pink flowers similar in appearance to clover.

One day, a week or so after pondering this, I was at the zoo in front of the gorillas describing behaviors and body language to the zoo guests. Many people at the zoo glom onto every word I say because they are so interested in gorillas.  On this day I noticed a young man and his girlfriend who were listening intermittently. She had long jet-black hair, a crop top, a nose ring, a belly button ring and a French manicure on fingernails as long as my fingers. He was laced with tattoos, several piercings while a knife swaddled in leather graced his belt loop. His t-shirt said “Stay Calm and Chive On.”

As I was explaining that chest beating really isn’t chest beating at all, but chest “cupping” which causes a popping sound when gorillas engage in that behavior, I thought, I’ve got to wrap this up for now so I can ask that guy what that means!

“Are you a chef?” I asked. “I see a lot of these t-shirts and wondered if it was some kind of Dallas chef promotion.” They both looked at me like I was missing a chip and glanced around self-consciously like young people do when they think an older person is going to embarrass them in front of other young people. She let out something between a gag and a giggle.

The young man looked around nervously. “It’s a website,” he said quietly once he realized no one else had heard my question. “A men’s website.”

“Oh, thanks,” I responded as they hightailed it away from me as soon as they could.

I could have googled it on my phone while I was still at the zoo but I didn’t care enough and I didn’t want to miss any awesome gorilla behaviors. When I got home to my Mac, up popped a website with hot cars, sizzling girls with big boobs in string bikini’s pole dancing, images of “wasted” guys and a wide variety of cool guns and knives.

Here is how the website introduces itself (This is copied directly from the website and pasted below.)

Chive On refers to the mutual understanding between Chivers on how to go about life, regardless of all the assholes, douchebags, posers, etc, who might fuck it up from time to time. it’s also stronger in the sense that it unites people who share similar opinions or tastes or those who just like to see crazy shit as it happens – it’s an underground social network, a family

Alrighty then…..

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Loose Screws in Texas

“Bounce it! Bounce it!” a person named Susan was shouting at me from the other side of the net.

“I know the rules, Susan!!” my voice was raised as I whacked the ball as hard as I could back over the net aiming for her head.

I missed her head and the ball flew out of bounds (It surely would have been a home run had I been playing baseball) and I lost the point. I am normally not at all mean spirited but this woman was obnoxious and had been adamantly bossing us all around.

“Susan,” our coach Dave said gently, “if this had been tournament play you would have lost that point for shouting over the net to your opponent!” Susan glared at him menacingly and if looks could kill, coach would be dead.

I have recently taken up Pickle Ball. I wish it were called something else because that doesn’t sound very fierce but it is a fast paced game and a cross between badminton and tennis. The court is one-third the size of a tennis court and much of the game is played volleying at the net. It’s the fastest growing sport in the country because the baby boomers are aging (me) and it’s not as hard on the body as tennis but just as much fun. I am happy to say I am a very good pickle ball player as the skills I acquired playing 15 years of tennis were directly transferable to the sport. It is a very convenient sport if you are the victim of the dreaded Dallas weather of severe ice storms, extreme winds, torrential rain, oppressive humidity and outrageous heat because it is played indoors in a gym.

Dave is a youthful 71 years old, is very outgoing and gregarious, has a charming South African accent and an irrepressible sense of humor. I have so much fun with him. I also have a great time with the other women in our group.

“Dave!” Susan shouted, “You have to quit calling the score! Whoever is serving should call the score! It’s incorrect in Pickle Ball for one person to call the score, Dave!” Scoring in Pickle Ball is very confusing and is the only thing I didn’t pick up immediately and am still struggling with.

“I want him to call the score, Susan!” I loudly interjected, “I’m still learning the scoring!” Mitra backed me up by forcefully saying she also wanted him to call score.

Things were getting really weird and Dave made an attempt to lighten things up and with a delightful smile on his face he said, “Susan, quit bossing me around. You are not my wife,” as he walked away to get some water.

“Thank god I am not your wife. I wake up every morning and thank god I am not your wife!!” Susan viciously asserted.

It was so bizarre and I was realizing this woman has a real screw loose and I couldn’t help laughing as Dave approached me. “Did you hear what she just said?” I said.

“What?” he said. I repeated her comment.

“Do you think she knows the feeling is mutual?” Dave laughed.

As we said our goodbyes and see you next week Susan said she would not be there next week. It was all the rest of us could do not to break into applause.