musings of a retired educator…

“The words are not good for the secret meaning, everything always becomes a bit different,
as soon as it is put into words, gets distorted a bit, a bit silly—yes,
and this is also very good, and I like it a lot, I also very much agree with this,
that this what is one man’s treasure and wisdom always sounds like
foolishness to another person.”

Hermann Hesse


(a bunch of wilted and rotting swiss chard in the trash / Julie Cook / 2018)

Or so that was the impetus behind my wanting to start a blog 5…ish years ago..
I was a retired teacher who still had things to “teach”…
or so I figured.

But then ‘it’ happened.

It happened not all at once but rather it came upon gradually…slowly and almost undetected.

It was life and we all know life brings with it…change.

Life changed.
I changed.

It happens.

But that didn’t mean that I didn’t have musings or things I still felt compelled
I needed to “teach”…
I did and I do.

Take for example the above image of the spent swiss chard.

I like swiss chard.
I grew it myself once when I use to have a garden.

I had a garden when I first started blogging.
I blogged about my garden…
then ‘it’ happened.

Life happened and things changed and now I don’t have a garden to blog about.

So now I buy swiss chard at the grocery store.
I like to chop it and sautee it with bacon, onions, a little chicken broth and salt and pepper.

The swiss chard you’re looking at is in the trash.
As has been the last five or so bunches of swiss chard I’ve brought in oh so many weeks.
They’ve all been sent to the rubbish bin…because ‘it’ happened.
Life happened and my swiss chard wilted and got past its prime and I had to throw it out.

Life can be that way…wasteful as well as expensive.

Life can also grow and expand or it can shrink and shrivel.


(two cousins enjoying the human’s couch / Julie Cook / 2018)

I had two cats when I started my blog.

I still have the two cats, but I also have a granddog that has come to stay with us since her new
human baby sister arrived.

They’re all staying with us.

Because ‘it’ happened.

Life brought new life and old life had to go back to work so now older life is caring for the
new life and the two cats and the dog.

And since all these lives are currently living under our roof,
I find that I visit places like the grocery store and Target a lot more often then I use to.
And sadly waste more and more and more swiss chard as life keeps getting in the way.

Take for example yesterday when I had to go to Target for a few things for the new life currently
living under our roof.

Look what I saw for sale…

Politically Correct band-aids.
For when life gives us boo boos.

They are marketed as diverse band-aids.
Skintone correct.

Yeah, right.

Kind of like a Crayola crayon box—talk about diversity in a box.

Because even band-aids have now decided to be all about diversity and the politically correct.

“Genius” some would muse.
“Why didn’t I think of that” others would lament.

All the while I look at traditional band-aids while shaking my head as I know they match
my skin tone about as much as a strip of duct tape does.

Simply put, they don’t.
So let’s not pretend that cream colored band-aids are just for creamed colored folks…
Next, we’ll be changing the color of gauze or surgical tape…

I think the clear band-aids were more along the lines of correctness.

These stips of sticky color are just one more example of members of the bandwagon
jumping on that proverbial train ride while touting that diversity brings everyone together…
yet failing to understand that diversity is really all about splintering.

And then there were these desk signs…

I’m a girl.
I have a granddaughter.
I’m all for equal pay for equal work no matter who’s doing the work…
But if the furture is all about being female…where does that leave our male population?
And where will that leave the making of more males and yes, more females…???

Sigh…

Another example of all things marketing taking life to the same level of
the militant movements of activism…
Hurray for more militant activism…

Sigh…

But happily, I am pulled back to thinking about that new life currently,
yet temporarily, living under our roof.

She got very sick this past week.
Life threw us a tremendous curveball.
A frightening, scary, grab you by the collar, curveball.

When we got home from the second hospital, after a very frightening couple of days
of touch and go, her grandfather presented her with her first bouquet of flowers.

See…this is what life and new life can do to older life.

It can make older life think and do things it normally would not have thought about
or done before…
Like walk up the sidewalk to a store selling flowers in order to bring the sickly little
new life a pot of pretty purple flowers.

Which brings us to a hard part of new life.

Sleeping.

Some new life is all about, well, life…sleep is not an important factor…
because sleep precludes one from , well, taking it all in.
It gets in the way of eating, being held, having diapers changed and missing out
on the older lives scattered about.

And so we now introduce the Finnbin

A couple of years back, before I had this new life in my life, I read an article about
babies in Nordic countries who sleep outside—even in the dead of winter.
Parents make no never mind about meeting up at a cafe for a coffee while their babies hang out,
outside in the sub-zero temps, bundled up, yet happy as little snuggly clams.
They claim babies sleep better out in the fresh air versus inside…
makes sense as I have been known to go a bit stir crazy when I can’t get outside.

I thought the concept intriguing at the time and that perhaps our Nordic friends
were on to something.

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-21537988

And so when this new life came into my life and had a nice new crib, a functional pack and play
and two Mama Roos yet still found sleep elusive,
I recalled the story of our Nordic friends and the other stories I’d seen about
Finnish babies sleeping in boxes…
yep boxes.

A box seemed a bit safer then shoving the new life outside to fin for herself in a stroller.

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-22751415

And so, in desperation…I found the Finnbins.

Boxes for baby sleeping—albeit made in America, The Finnbin is a Finnish style sleeping
baby box.

The concept tips its hat to the Finnish Government providing all new parents-to-be with
a baby sleeping box full of all kinds of goodies for new parents to be.
Finnbins make great gifts for expectant parents.
We’re hoping it will provide a happy and much cheaper alternative spot to this new life’s
other more expensive sleeping devices.

Or maybe the stroller will just have to do….

Maybe I’ll go to the store tomorrow and pick up a new bunch of swiss chard…

My son, pay attention to what I say;
turn your ear to my words.
Do not let them out of your sight,
keep them within your heart;
for they are life to those who find them
and health to one’s whole body.
Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.
Keep your mouth free of perversity;
keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
Let your eyes look straight ahead;
fix your gaze directly before you.
Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
and be steadfast in all your ways.
Do not turn to the right or the left;
keep your foot from evil.

Proverbs 4:20-27

Up, up and away…

“Congratulations!
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!”

― Dr. Seuss

DSCN4295
(the persimmon Up band by Jawbone / Julie Cook / 2014)

“What is this?”
It’s an Up band.
“What is it for, what does it do?. . .”

So the other day a friend of mine, (and just so you know, I may be using the term friend a bit loosely right about now) told me she’d bought an Up band.
“A what?”
“An Up band”
“Why?”
“It monitors my steps throughout the day plus it monitors my sleep”
Ahh the kicker. . . She knows that I do not sleep well, nor does she for that matter. . .not since we’ve both reached that certain age—the age women reach when they don’t really talk about it any more.

Humm.. .
So she’s telling me that I need to go buy a bracelet. Some sort of bracelet that’s going to tell me how much I’m not sleeping. Why do I need to be reminded of my tortuous nights?!
“How much is this little puppy going to set me back” I inquire.
“A HUNDRED AND FITY WHAT?!” I practically scream over the phone.
She tells me there are a couple of versions but the one she had syncs to her phone wirelessly.
“I’m telling you, it’s worth it. You’ll be amazed tracking your steps and movements. You can log-in the food you consume and it’ll tell you how many calories are burned and turned into energy.. .”

“Is butter converted to energy” I feel my brain digressing.. .

Off to the Best Buy I go.

Walking into the store I immediately inquire as to the Up bands. The nice man points directly in front of me to the huge display. Wow!

They come in 3 sizes and 4 colors.
Hummm.
I quickly call my friend.
“There’s a size guide attached to the package” she explains “but you’ll want a small.” “People with chicken wrists wear a small” she quips.
My wrists are indeed the smallest thing about me—my husband calls them grasshopper wrists. I’ve always wondered what that means. . .

I choose a small band in Persimmon—they didn’t have the blue in a small so persimmon beat out the black or white.

I get home and quickly tear into the package.
I download the Up app to my phone inputing my data—age, weight—why does everyone keeping wanting to know those things?!
It tells me that for a female of my age (arg) that I need to average 10,000 steps a day.
Next I plug the thing into my computer to charge it up.
Once it’s fully charged, I put the band on my right wrist.

Off I go.

Sure enough it keeps pace with my steps. Alerting me to my idle burn, my active burn, my total burn—as in burning calories I assume. It alerts me to the percentage reached of my goal of the 10,000 steps and how many I need in order to reach the magic number.

Humm . . .

By 8 PM I notice I’m at 94 percent of my goal.
Ohhhh, I need to get a move on before it’s time for bed!
I begin running in place at the sink while doing the dishes.
“What in the world are you doing” my husband snaps as he rounds the kitchen corner.
“I’ve got to up my steps if I’m going to reach my goal before I head to bed later” I sputter breathlessly.
He rolls his eyes.
I than take a few laps around the house. ..

In the morning it tells me how much sleep I logged. Heavy deep sleep. Light sleep. How long did it take me to fall asleep. How long was I awake in the middle of the night.
Humm. . .this should be interesting.

“You woke 0 times”
WHAT?!
I’m sorry but when the cat jumped up on the bed, landing on my face at 2:45 AM and I had to make certain I still had both eyeballs in my head and was not bleeding profusely, and you’re telling me I woke up zero times. . .Houston, we have a problem!!

Ok, so I think it may be a little off.
I wake up all through the night, but I just lay there real still like, fighting my brain to go back to lala land. . .so perhaps it’s not registering movement, or whatever it needs, to alert itself that I am indeed a wake.
Trust me, I know awake and awake, on an off all night, I am.

Then there is the elliptical.
My nemesis.
Remember, there’s a June wedding in our future.
Have you forgotten my husband’s suggestion of duct taping my butt in place?
The elliptical and I are one each morning.
30 minutes of pure torturous bliss.

The band has a spot on the app for me to input a workout. It will measure my heartbeat and pulse, but it doesn’t seem to think an elliptical equates to steps.
Let me tell you one thing, if my knees are moving up and down, trust me, I’m stepping!!

So yesterday morning, I was working out really fast and furious.
I wanted the blasted band to be proud of my workout.
“Did she just say she wanted a plastic band to be proud of her?”
Stay with me. . .
I was huffing and puffing.
Up and down I went.
4.3 , 4.5 , 5.0 mph while coming up on mile 2. . .5.4 mph. . .
Faster and faster.
We should note that I like to put in a piece of gum in my mouth before a workout as my mouth gets so very dry.
Pushing to 6 mph as I’m moving my legs up and down, sweat is dripping down my face. I glance downward noting what looks like droplets on the cement floor. A small wave of panic. You must remember that woman of a certain age who have had children can have, well, accidents when jumping, coughing, laughing—-thankfully this time it’s just the sweat pouring off of my head.
Whew!

At this point, I have just 3 more minutes to go.
I push it even harder, practically hopping up and down.
I’m so tired I lean down onto the stationary handles as my legs kick into hyper speed.
I’m so out of breath by now that I’m sucking in any available air through my open mouth. . .when it happens.
Imagine a car barreling down the interstate at 80 mph.
A bug meets the car.
Woosh.
That bug is either splattered or is sucked into the the grill.
Suddenly the gum that was in my mouth is sucked down my throat.
Sudden panic sets in with the blink of an eye.

“Oh dear God, I’m going to die!!”
The gum is going to lodge in my windpipe (I think we call that a trachea)
I’m going to fall out right here, in the basement.
My poor husband will come home, many hours later, only to hear the odd sound of music rising up form the basement. He’ll go to investigate finding me sprawled out on the cold basement floor in a pool of now dried sweat, with Bono blaring from my phone as U2 is on shuffle mode—sadly it will be determined that I had asphyxiated on my sucked in gum.
All because I wanted the damned band to be proud of my speed. . .

Within the millisecond the gum went down my throat and my brain preformed my funeral, I’m relieved to realize that I am very much alive, sweating, sucking in air and still pumping my legs like a mad woman.
The small alarm sounds.
The 30 minutes are up.
I’m sweating, huffing and puffing, and wobbling on jello legs.
All the while as the thoughts of what happens to the a piece of swallowed gum circles my brain.
Surely I will live, right?!
How many pieces of gum did I swallow as a kid?
Does it digest?
Will it clog my poor pipes.
That’s just what my poor guts need, a ball of plastic stuck somewhere in the recesses of my feeble guts. . .

I look down at the band muttering. . .
“I hope you’re happy” I disgustingly tell the orange thing on my wrist.
A quick check the progress on the phone. . .
“you are at 38% of your goal”
“WHAT?!”
Damn band!!!

Chickens, Appearances and bums…yes, bums…

People that seem so glorious are all show; underneath they are like everyone else.
Euripides

Humility is the foundation of all the other virtues hence, in the soul in which this virtue does not exist there cannot be any other virtue except in mere appearance.
Saint Augustine

DSCN3743

***ok so yesterday’s pilgrimage did not go so well– perhaps it was more like a disaster. You, we, I don’t want to talk about that today— let’s swing toward something a bit more, uplifting, shall we. . .we’ll talk about the disastrous pilgrimage later, once we recoup and attempt to regroup. On to better things, or maybe, in this case, not exactly better. . .*****

Do you suppose the other chickens get a bit jealous of those chickens in the coop with the prettier feathers, the fancier combs, the fluffier feet or the more garish head feathers? Do the more showy chickens somehow perceive that they are prettier than their coop mates? Do the other chickens who are not as festive, not a pretty, gravitate to the more fancy chickens, wanting to rub wings as it were, with these more glamorous birds?

I think we can be safe in assuming that a chicken is a chicken is a chicken—regardless of the extra fluff and puff. They all scratch, cluck, eat, poop, sleep, and the layers lay and the others, well, they wait to star in Sunday’s Supper.

With all of this chicken business racing through my mind, I am attempting to take stock of what I see staring back at me in the mirror.
Hummmm. . .
Maybe the chickens are looking a little more puffy and preened than what it is that I’m seeing in this mirror.
Geesss. . .
I don’t think February is a good time of year to study one’s physique in a large mirror– this while a pasty white overtly dry body stares back.

So there is this wedding thingie I’ve been alluding to, on and off for a while now. As in I’m the mother of the groom. . . in just a mere 4 months.
Hummm.
My husband walks into the bathroom while I’m precariously perched on the side of the tub turned around backwards with a mirror in one hand while trying to see over my shoulder as to what in the heck is the view from behind, as in my behind.

“What in the world are you doing?? Have you lost your mind? You’re going to break your neck!”
“Look at that” I exclaim!
“Look at what?” mr. gallant asks.
“Look at that, something’s wrong, it’s, it’s not symmetrical”
“What do you mean it’s not symmetrical?
This as he heads to the closest to gather whatever it is he came to gather when he walked in on my moment of taking stock.
“My, uh my, uh,uh, my butt, look at the right side, it’s like part of it has lost it’s “umph” and gave way”
“Maybe I need to go to see a doctor. . . maybe it’s some sort of mass or lump blocking the view of my butt”
“Are you crazy” mr. gallant smirks from the closet, eventually coming out to where I remain perched on the side of the tub, mirror in hand, head cocked around almost backwards, like an owl, peering over the shoulder.
“You don’t need to see a doctor, you’re perfectly fine. You’ve just gotten older and things just— fall.”
“WHAT!!!!!”
“Did you just say I’m old and that my butt fell?!
“No”
“Yes, you just said that I’m old and that my butt fell because I’m old”
“No, that is not what I said” as I note the slight curl upwards around the corners of his mouth.
“Oh my God, I can’t believe you just called me old and fat”
“I did not call you old and I never said fat”
“Look, all I’m saying is that age has a way of shifting things around”
This as mr. gallant makes a very poor attempt at logic.
A woman standing on the side of bathtub, taking stock of a pasty white dry aging body, is in no mood for logic!

“You may speak for yourself, thank you very much” I smugly retort.
This as I’m debating whether to say something about a delicate subject. . .about seeing more head than hair. . .when suddenly mr. gallant spouts out his now marvelous thought of a solution.
“I’ve got just what you need—
Duct tape!”
“What?!”
“We’ll just tape things back into place. . . you’ll be good as new!”

May I just say that he is very very lucky that he is still walking around with all appendages in tact.
Duct tape. . .I mean really.

Hear my cries. . .is my time on that blasted elliptical all in vain?!
“Where are the results?” I seem to constantly scream as I step from the scales.
Maybe it’s the elliptical’s fault my butt fell off in the first place. And anyway, who’s bum looks as if its fallen off in the first place?
How do I tell the doctor I think something is wrong with my behind? How do I tell her it looks like part of it just gave way, sort of like some sort of mini avalanche. . .hummm. . . .

30 minutes every morning on the elliptical.
Check.
Incline on.
Check.
Level 15, one of the more difficult levels.
Check.
Cardio workout.
Check
up, down, up down . . .all to a very swift pace.
This while my “workout music” echoes throughout the basement.

Next, it’s time for the protein smoothie– every morning.
Who says spinach and ground flax seed doesn’t mix with cranberries, strawberries, frozen cherries and peaches?
Add a scoop of protein powder, a little coconut milk, voila.
When did I start drinking coconut milk?!
Just like a milkshake. . . a brown throw-up looking milkshake. . .mmmmm. . . good, I think.
No bread, no sweets, no butter. . .
Ah ha!!
That’s it!!
This is all Julia’s fault!
Julia?
Yes, Julia.
And no, not me Julia, Julia Child, Julia!!
Julia and that blasted affinity of butter and cream of hers!!!
Julia could carry a love of fat on that 6 foot frame of hers and get away with it—- at 5’3″ (it was 5’4.5″ but then the osteoporosis kicked in. . .let’s not talk about that) I sadly cannot!
UGH. . .

We took our son and his fiancé out to dinner the other evening.
“So”, Abby begins, “Did you find the workout song you were wanting?”
“Oh yes! I first start out with a little U2, switching then to Bruno Mars. . .”
“MOTHER, you listen to Bruno Mars!?
I suddenly feel the eyes rolling.
“Yes Brenton.” I continue. ..
“Perfect music, with a great beat, for working out.”
“Oh, and I also like that Macklemore group, that’s great music with a beat to huff and puff to.”
“WHAT! Mother when did you start listening to Macklemore?”
I feel the eyes rolling again.
“When I started working out” I triumphantly reply over my shoulder to the back seat that holds my incredulous son whose eyes are now popping out of his head.

And so it goes.
No support from the males in my house.
One wants to duct tape me and the other one wants to sensor me.
GREAT!
My aunt is always exclaiming “it’s hell getting old”
So yes, whereas it may be hell getting older, all I know it that I’m going to give it hell right back! Plus demand the return of my, uh, derrière!!

I may be pasty white, a little out of shape and no longer symmetrical, but come June, I will be a lean mean fighting machine marching down an aisle!!