Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Loveliest Birthday!!


August 10, 2017, was a truly great day for me — I hope you felt some of the joy!

The kids and Husband let me sleep in by feeding our yowly cats and making the coffee. While I sipped, I read birthday cards and birthday letters, then had a delicious breakfast of toasted crumpets with honey and real butter, fresh raspberries, and some yummy cold Korbel Brut in my favorite daisy-painted wine goblet. I read The Lying Game by Ruth Ware and talked to Mom and my youngest brother, Mateo. While I dressed in my pretty birthday outfit (low-cut red blouse, black pencil skirt, silver Silpada earrings, Poison perfume) and drank more champagne, Mrs. Cynicletary called, and much laughter ensued.

Off to Newton! (for reasons that will become clear, I chose to spend most of my day in my "first" town in Massachusetts, where I lived as a young nanny) It felt nostalgic and sweet to hang out there, and I thought about dropping in on my nanny family, whom I adore, but they've moved and I'm not actually sure where their new place is. In any event, I had plenty to do!

First stop: Legal Sea Foods, one of my favey restaurants! 


I splurged and ordered oysters on the half shell, and my fun chatty server told me that she had been in Wellfleet yesterday (home of one of my oysters), and I asked if she'd had oysters and she said no, and I said, Well, after working here all day, maybe you just want a burger, and she laughed and told me that yesterday had been her birthday. "Today's my birthday!" I cried. "Yay, Leo girls!"

I hadn't been planning to announce my birthday, but now that the door was open, oh my! The free stuff came pouring in!! First she brought my oysters, then looked at the plate and frowned and said, "I think you're missing one." (I wasn't.) She then brought a second plate of two more oysters!! And friends, they are not cheap!

I had my oysters and Prosecco and a Caesar salad with anchovies (at this point reflecting on how every item in my most delightful meal would make sweet Husband vomit) and grilled shrimp and white rice with spicy Shandong sauce and some onion strings, which were the only part of my meal I didn't adore, so I ignored them and brought them home for Li'l Martini. And that was plenty for me, I'm not a huge sweets girl, but my darling server brought me a vanilla ice cream bonbon coated in dark chocolate, and a tiny dish of whipped cream with a candle in it! No singing, no hoopla, just a perfect bite of sweet after a perfect meal. Magnificent!

Then I went next door to the Lux Theatre at Chestnut Hill; I haven't been since they upgraded many years ago, and ooh la la!!! I want to live at the Lux Theatre. I was early, so I ordered another glass of Prosecco — and the bartender carded me.

Well, again, I hadn't been planning to "announce" my birthday, but he's holding my ID right in his hand, I couldn't help but say, "Please note the birthdate!" and he chuckled and said Happy Birthday, and then charged me for 6 oz. of Prosecco while pouring me 9 oz. And he started to pour it in one of those stemless tumblers that are the new thing but that I totally hate, and I pointed to a rack of pretty stemmed glasses with streaks of fire painted down the sides and said, I know those aren't champagne glasses but could I have it in one of those? and without hesitation he switched. Such a sweetie! I gave him a nice tip.

Why would you want this . . . when you could have this?

And then I settled down on their lovely comfy couch and read my book and drank my bubbly drink and was one contented kitten.

The movie I chose was The Big Sick and I cannot recommend it highly enough!!! So so funny and also very moving and romantic. I adored it.

(Sadly, I can't say the same for my book; I've liked other books by Ruth Ware, but this one has a lot of interesting components that don't add up to much. Not recommended. Alas. But I adored the YA book I read simultaneously, Connect the Stars by Marisa de los Santas and David Teague, so rest assured, the reading portion of my birthday was not a total bust! I know how you worry.)

My final destination: Marty's Liquor Store! Oh, how I love this place! Besides having a magnificent hooch selection, they have the best deli. When Husband and I lived in Newton and Mom came to visit, her first question was, "When can we go to Marty's???" But the real reason I was there was to track down the elusive Bitter Lemon Soda that I've been trying to find in Massachusetts since Mateo introduced this cocktail to me in June. I have tried three stores so far, with no luck, but I had high hopes for my old friend Marty's.

And — success!! 


It's not a Schweppes product but it is Bitter Lemon, and that is good enough for me. And the nice salesguy who helped me was so intrigued by my description of the cocktail, he followed me to the deli to get the recipe, keying it into his phone while I dictated. Then he said, What are they called again? and I said, My Minnesota brother calls them Lemonades, but I think you should call them Lady's Lemonades, and he laughed and wrote "Lady's Minnesota Lemonades." I'm immortal!
Lady's Minnesota Lemonades
Fill a drinking glass with ice. Add three fingers of vodka. (I use citrus vodka, Mateo likes plain vodka.) Then add (equal parts of each) tonic water [I use diet], sweet and sour mix*, and Bitter Lemon. Stir gently and enjoy!

* To make sweet and sour mix, boil 1 cup sugar or sweetener and 2 cups water until sugar is dissolved. Add 1 cup fresh lemon juice (strained) and 1 cup fresh lime juice (ditto). Mix well. Voila! You can also buy it commercially, your choice, but homemade is better and cheaper. I store mine in the fridge in a mason jar.
Warning: These go down smoooooooth. Brunie was just at my brother's house — she is scouting Betsy-Tacy Convention sites in Minnesota — and wrote me: "When I get to your house for the Liz party**, you must put a lemon sour in my hand immediately. Mateo made me one the other night and I was already two sheets to the wind and ever so sleepy, but I can think of little else other than how delicious it was!"
 ** I am hosting "Liz" this week, my dearest god-daughter who lives in Michigan. She arrives Wednesday, and we are introducing her to the NEWBETSYs on Saturday, which is also Husband's birthday. So much celebratin' in these parts!!!!

No free stuff at Marty's, but four delish sandwiches and a very fun interaction with my checkout clerk, who also carded me even though I wasn't buying any hooch (for the first time today!).
Home to another glass of wine (which I only half finished — apparently, I do have a limit) and episodes of Hollywood Game Night and Full Frontal, which I'd Tivoed (I LOVE Tivo!!!!). Husband brought in all my favorite ice creams from Trader Joe's, so I had coffee ice cream and salted caramel gelato and hot caramel sauce and a handful of salted almonds.

Throughout the day, I got calls and texts from almost all of my dearest friends, and a very cute "letter" from Lady Darcy — she wrote it across 55 vintage movie postcards, awesomesauce!! — and I felt rich in love.

The next day I had my annual birthday lunch with Mrs. Cynicletary, presents and laughter and wine and joy, and that was the perfect capper to my perfect perfect 55th birthday.

In fact, yesterday opened with the six-month follow-up to my knee surgery, and my PA says that I'm the poster girl for bilateral knee replacement! (Husband and Mrs. C immediately asked where this poster will hang and when they can see it. I don't ask the right questions, I guess.)

She was hugely impressed with my range of motion and strength. Then she asked if I had any concerns, and I said, Yes: I am extremely disappointed that a lack of knee pain has not transformed me into a person who exercises a lot and cares about fitness.

She was awesome. She said, very calmly, Yes, that is what every study shows: People who are overweight and don't exercise before this surgery are overweight and don't exercise after this surgery, and lots of surgeons draw a line at a certain BMI for just that reason. This was quite fascinating to me and also made me feel like less of a loser. Knee replacement is one thing, and committing to a fitness and weight loss plan is entirely another. (As Mrs. C said, "You didn't get a brain replacement!")

All of this led to my choice of this year's theme:

Between Mom and Mimosa and other life challenges, this seems to be an astonishingly stressy period, and big goals simply weigh me down. I will instead focus on one day, which I will strive to make as successful as I can make it.

That I can do.

Today, though, is Chore Day, and my house is full of crap that needs to be dealt with and put away — four boxes from Mom's house have arrived, whee! Where am I going to put an 18-inch silver Lazy Susan with crystal dishes??? It's gorgeous, I want to use it, so it can't be too unreachable . . . and yet I am sorely lacking in empty cupboards that could store such a sizeable and yet delicate object.

Awesome, right? I totally love it!!

Challenges await!

But — there's an authentic Lady's Lemonade in my future!! And that is very motivating.

Maybe I'll lift weights today. I don't see me squeezing in a walk, but weight-lifting is fun and doesn't take too long. And then I'll have my Lemonade and a bath, with my 99 new birthday bath products! Nothin' but good times ahead.

Lady C, a well-preserved fifty-thrive

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

I Am So Sad About This!!

I cannot tell you how many times I listened to "Wichita Lineman" on vinyl, sitting in my parents' living room (we had one record player and a tiny house — working-class, all the way), lifting the needle to play it over and over.

Loved "Rhinestone Cowboy," loved "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," loved the documentary "I'll Be Me," loved the voice of Glen Travis Campbell.

Rest in peace, gentle man.

Mea Culpa

OK, now I'm feeling bad about my harsh words regarding my mother in the previous post — particularly when I reflect on my dear friends who no longer have their moms or whose moms are not compos mentis enough to make the major life decisions my mom has made on her own.

I am sorry. I adore my mother. I try very hard to be kind and compassionate.

And I get it, I really do. Aging sucks, as does disease, and it's no one's fault. Moving is stressful, facing the fact that you're nearing the end of your life is stressful, loneliness is stressful. I have total empathy for all of this.

And I'm sure that part of my own emotional detonation is grief — Mom will not be here forever, and that day is closer than I want to think about. And, I've already "lost" the energetic, confident mom I remember, and I miss her a lot.

Having said all that . . .

Mom is very, very bad at managing stress — she always has been. It is likely that her diabetes was brought on (and is certainly exacerbated by) her poor stress management. We saw her neurologist when I was there, and he diagnosed her "dementia" as stress. He prescribed a stress management class taught at our local hospital, which her insurance will cover. I was thrilled that her treatment was not yet another pill, which she truly does not need.

I then witnessed the following conversation between Mom and her best friend EB:
  • Mom: The doctor says I should take a stress management class at Enloe.
  • EB: Sounds good.
  • Mom: So put it on your calendar!
  • EB (smiling): I'll see if the dates will work.
  • Me: Mom — even if EB doesn't go [EB is calm as toast, she does not need this class, which isn't cheap], you should still go!
  • Mom: I know I should . . . but will I?
This drives me bonkers. She has the right to make her own decisions about her own health, but watching her make bad decision after bad decision truly wears me down, and I lose all patience.

She is also a glass-half-empty person, which I don't remember her being. She is determined to look on the dark side of life, no matter what — and I cannot abide this type of negativity at all.

  • Mom: They served us banana splits at Oakmont last night.
  • Me: Sounds yummy!
  • Mom: Well, it was only a small scoop of vanilla ice cream, maybe a fourth of a banana, and a small spoonful of syrup.
  • Me: So . . . it wasn't enough for you?
  • Mom: Oh, no, it was the perfect size!
So say that, you ninny, rather than start by complaining about the small portions!!!
  • Mom: I went to Happy Hour at Oakmont. 
  • Me: How was it?
  • Mom: White wine in a box, red wine in a box, some beer, and some sodas.
  • Me: So . . . the wine wasn't good?
  • Mom: Oh, no, it was quite tasty.

  • Mom: Everyone who lives here is so old.
  • Me: Yep, that does seem to be the case.
  • Mom: (sighs)
  • Me: Try to think of yourself as the hot young chick who happens to live in an apartment building with a lot of elderly people.
  • Mom: No, I think they're just going to bring me down.
Well, if that's your working plan, Mom, then probably so.

She gives up the second anything is the least bit challenging, and has no desire to learn anything new. She has no boundaries about asking people to do terrible jobs for her (like — give her a shower! which she was planning to ask her neighbors to do!), and her way to deal with challenges is to avoid them completely.

All of this wears me out and wears me down, and when it's relentless and I'm on my own and there is no letup whatsoever — and it's freaking hot and I have to carry endless boxes of books — sorry, dudes, I am just not my best self. At all.

So I snapped at my mother, constantly, adding to the joy and fun of our 10 days together.

I did assure her that she is not "trapped" at Oakmont, that she should give it a chance but if she truly hates it, we'll figure out something else. She doesn't have a ton of options, but there are at least two more that I can think of: an actual condo or apartment, with people hired to bring her meals, clean, etc., or a condo/apartment with a paid live-in companion. (If you have any more ideas, let me know. Of the senior living residences in Chico, Oakmont is definitely the best.)

So — we shall see. One day at a time.

In other news:

My low-key birthday celebration is starting early, as today I stopped at Trader Joe's to pick up crumpets and raspberries (which, with a glass of Champagne, while comprise my birthday breakfast, yummy!) and mentioned to my favorite TJ's pal Abrahim that Thursday is my birthday and TJ's is providing my breakfast. "Oh!" he said, "if only we had known, we would give you a cake!" He tells me to wait for a second, dashes off, and then presents me with a huge bouquet of daisies, dahlias, and lilies — gorgeous! I felt like Miss America.

I am reading the best book:

I have a few things I need to do, but all I want to do is read!!!!

Tonight we are having spinach lasagna, sauteed mushrooms and garlic, and a veggie-packed green salad with homemade blue cheese dressing. Gotta use up the CSA share! I made my first lasagna last fall, and I have since become a lasagna queen. Such a great way to hide slightly aging vegetables, which I will do tonight with a softening red pepper.

That is all for now.
Lady C

p.s. My birthday list:

Yes, a baby sloth.  What are you asking?
Awesome, right???

If we're being honest . . .

Monday, August 7, 2017

Sandwich Generation, C'Est Moi


I'm just back from second cross-country trip, this time to help Mom with the final steps of her downsizing and, ostensibly, her move.

Note: I did not understand this to mean that I was one of her "movers." I assumed that since she is an adult woman of means, she would hire professionals.

Oh, silly me. My mother can nickel and dime a person to death. No, she "hired" my brother's best friend from high school and his young co-worker, Big Ben. She is paying Brother's BF in furniture (he gets her king-size bed, her extension ladder, and a few other things — all fine with the Chardonnay kids, believe me, and we love BBF), and she's paying Big Ben the princely sum of $100!

To move four truckloads of furniture!

Without a dolly!

On a 103-degree summer day!

No insurance, of course — no safety net whatsoever if either non-professional gets injured in the course of the move (or breaks her stuff).

Yeah. I declined to have any part of this, so after I got her fully packed and ready for the movers (necessitating bringing three carloads of stuff to Goodwill, and carrying I don't know how many boxes of books into the living room — Mom is bringing four bookcases with her to her new residence), I fled, taking myself to the movies.

But that was just one day — I worked like a Trojan the other nine days of my visit.

(Note: She ended up paying Big Ben $140, and she's giving him two couches and a TV.)

My last day was devoted to packing up all the treasures I'd culled, things that I wanted and thought my brothers might want. My goal was to send only one box to each of us; instead, I sent two boxes to each brother and four to myself. But one box (which is HUGE) is completely full of the family videos I'd faithfully mailed to my parents since 1997, when they gifted us with a video camera to record the wonders of their first grandchild. I am not going to watch all these movies, I highly doubt that I will ever (a) want to or (b) figure out how to transcribe and edit them into a single highlight reel, and yet, and yet. I could not throw them away, and Mom wouldn't take them. What else was there to do? Thank God for flat-rate boxes.

Mom used to be overly sentimental, but I think surviving the death of both parents and subsequently dealing with all of their "stuff" has cured her of that; she was giving away family treasures with nary a second look. I'm not sentimental either; Mom's sister Aunt Nasti visited while we were packing up/throwing out (to pick up the table that either Grandpa or Great-Grandpa made in high school shop class — which, admittedly, is pretty cool), and she said, "What did you do with Grandma's pitcher?" Mom and I looked at each other and said, "Uh . . ." (though we're pretty sure Mom kept it). Nasti frowned at me, and I said, "Dude, I have pitchers. If it's beautiful and I think I'll use it, I will take it — but if neither of those things is true, the fact that it was Grandma's is not reason enough for me to keep it." Nasti frowned harder, but I headed off the coming lecture by opening another beer for her. Thank God for my family's reliable lushy tendencies.

Though, I did have trouble with a few items. For example, Mom is renowned for her homemade French bread, which — every batch since the beginning of Time — has begun its life in the same blue ceramic bowl.

(I'm trying so hard to find a picture of something like it, but everything online is too pretty. This is sort of it . . .

. . . but remove the handles, change the color to this —>, and make some big chips in the paint — that's pretty close. The point is: It's not all that attractive.)

I do not need this bowl, I do not want this bowl, I do not find this bowl enticing in any way — and yet, it holds so much history, this bowl, and I couldn't bear to see it thrown away. (I can't imagine Goodwill would want it, given all the chips.) But I couldn't convince my brothers to take it, either.

Honestly, I left it on the kitchen counter (after giving it a kiss and thanking it for its years of service, because I am just that queer), and I don't know what Mom did with it.

She was very bad about allowing me to throw things away that I thought were not Goodwill-worthy (like, stained Tupperware so old it's not even recyclable), and even though she usually gave in, I often sneaked things into the trash when she wasn't looking.

Oh, it was not a fun trip. Not one single second of it. I was always hot and always tired and always emotionally spent, and throughout it all I watched my once confident, bright mother devolve into a doddering idiot. Which I say with love, but still.


I arrived around 4, and she tells me that the screen guy is coming at 4:30 to replace the newly repaired screens. Around 4:15, we hear stirring in the garage. She jumps up, looking alarmed, then comes back and tells me that it's just the screen guy. I said, Yeah, I assumed. She stares and says, You knew he was coming???

Later I asked her, Why do you think you're forgetting so many things?, and she said, like it's obvious, Oh, I have dementia. OK, now I'm freaking a little, because this is what I have feared (based on an article I just read about Holly Robinson Peete's father, who, like Mom, has Parkinson's disease — you know, a solid reliable source), so I said, Who told you you have dementia? and she points to herself and says Me.

I cover my face for a while, and she says, At least it's not Alzheimer's! I said, No, go ahead, diagnose yourself with Alzheimer's too, why not? And then pronounce yourself cured! (Husband says she should diagnose herself with multiple personality disorder, then give herself a second opinion)

Oh, Mom.

So that's done, and I didn't kill her nor did I die, both of which seemed possible on a daily basis, and she's happy "enough" in her new place. I'm in no rush to head back out again; we'll just see.

But in two weeks I get to enjoy Transition #2, when my angel Mimosa returns to college in the Big Scary City. Her first year was pretty much a disaster. We've put some excellent supports in place, but who knows how Year 2 will go. She knows that if it doesn't work out this semester, we're done with NYC — she can fail a lot closer to home for a lot less money.


We'll be in the city for a few days before she moves in to her dorm room, ideally to have her meet with potential therapists and apply for jobs. I thought about trying to see some shows or visiting a museum or two, but I am so freaking exhausted, I will likely sit on a bench in Central Park with my book and stare vacantly while my eldest roams the city.

(My birthday is this week, and I want to do NOTHING. Though I'll probably do nothing at a restaurant with air conditioning and a good cocktail list. It's kind of a milestone birthday — I'm turning 55 [fifty-thrive!] — but I just. don't. care. Someday I will have energy and care about life again, but today is not that day.)

Enough for now — my clients all seem to be on summer vacay, which is just fine; I gave them each a gentle poke to let them know I'm back and ready to edit, but I will use my "free" time to get all the other crap done that tends to pile up.

This is cool: My client at the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (I've done two big books for them now) wrote me today:
I know you are on the freelancer A-list, so you'll be hearing from someone else here, no doubt.
Freelancer A-list! Who knew there was such a thing?! I shall don my new status with aplomb.


Lady C

Monday, July 10, 2017

My Big Healthy Heart

Yesterday was another stressful day, and again I felt like exercise would help, and again it never quite worked out time-wise.

As I lay in bed last night, tossing and turning, stewing and fuming, I thought, I simply have to take a walk when I wake up.

The new day dawned at 6:49 a.m., with demon seed Duke mewling at me (he is such a tough butch kitty, but he's got a princess meow; it always amuses me), so I'd had maybe five hours' sleep, and I cannot tell you how little I felt like walking — but I knew I would feel worse if I didn't, so I grumbled my way into my fitness togs, reasoning that I could always turn around and come home if I succumbed to misery.

I chose to walk the streets of my 'hood rather than the Bike Path. I actually tried this walk a couple of weeks ago; it begins with a steepish incline, and by the time I'd crested it I was panting and heaving like a dying bovine. Seriously, I briefly thought I was having a heart attack, which was very unsettling. And it rattled me sufficiently that I took an extremely abbreviated version of my full walk; I probably didn't even hit a mile.

But today — today! — was different. I crested that incline with relative ease, and even though I was definitely breathing harder, my heart was just fine. My heart will go on! It was exhilarating to note how much progress I've made in just two weeks.

There's another big incline right in front of Nurse Kathy's house, and again I slowed a bit but otherwise dispatched it with aplomb. Yay, me!

The second leg, downhill along Route 2, is usually my favorite, but the last time I walked this walk (however many months and years ago) it was no fun at all; downhill was very hard on my poor knees. But those knees are DEAD now! My new titanium knees all but sang an anthem as we soared downhill.

I'm still out of shape, so again I was very tired at the end (and in fact didn't do the whole route — maybe 2.5 miles total? I'll drive it sometime and see), but I was happy to have found my oft-missing will.

I am still really tired. Tossing and stewing all night is not restful in any way. Maybe tonight will be better.

And I've lost another pound. FatSecret will be so pleased! Slow and steady, that's me.


Lady C

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Floating in the Sea of Friendship

I think I've written before about how I feel about my friends. My BFs are like family to me; I would take a bullet for each of them. And I am profoundly lucky and blessed to have so many true soul-sustaining friendships in my life.

Sometimes I know instantly that a person is destined to be my true friend, and sometime it takes a while to feel the "click." Or, conversely, sometimes it takes the other person a while to realize that we are soulmates. Fortunately, I'm patient.

Well, not really at all. But in this case, and this case only — yeah, I can wait.☺︎

In any event: One reason that I spent so much time out west in June is that I wanted to see my two closest California girlfriends, Lady Darcy and J, whom I hadn't seen since Dad's memorial service (which can probably be described as one of the worst weekends of my life). And to my great joy, both were available!

And to my astonishment, I see that we didn't take a single picture! What the heck, girls??? (I blame the hooch.)

But here we are in 1984, sitting in my apartment at San Jose State, where I was the newly hired Residence Hall Director. Ah, so young and dewy. Little did we know what life had in store . . .

I still have that blue and white afghan!!!
I've been friends with these girls since 1980, and we picked up Zanny three years later. There is something truly wonderful about bosom chums who have known you for decades. I'm still friendly with two of my junior high pals, but we're not particularly close; these three are really my oldest friends.

J, Lady Darcy, Space City, Zanzibar, and me! (1989, maybe?)
It was so lovely to spend time with them — partly to catch up on all the happenings of our exciting lives, but partly to just be together. At one point Lady Darcy and I simply sat on my mom's plushy couches with our books and a fan (even with the a.c. on, it was crazy hot), and that was awesomesauce.

Right before my West Coast jaunt, I had a fabulous movie evening with Writer Jenny; we drank cocktails and ate delicious snacks and watched Gaslight, which she'd never seen and which led to a spirited argument: Is Ingrid Bergman blonde or brunette? (Readers, what do you think?  Cast your vote, then I'll tell you which side we each took.)

And I had a coffee-and-multi-hour-conversation date with Nurse Kathy at Arlington's new coffee shop, Caffรจ Nero, which is fantastic. It's half a block from Starbucks and across the street from Kickstand Cafe, both of which are always packed; can Arlington sustain yet another coffee shop? I hope so, I think I like this one the best.

I also spent a glorious evening with Brunie, Mr. Brunie, and Li'l Martini; we had dinner at Soma, a fantastic restaurant in Beverly (such yummy martinis!! oh my!!), where Mr. Brunie instructed my young son in the finer points of drinking good beer ("Life's too short for Coors Light, son!"). Martini and I then took Brunie to see The Music Man at North Shore Music Theater, which she soundly slept through.

(She says:
Friday night I went to the theatah with Lady C and her charming son to see THE MUSIC MAN. It was lovely but I did fall asleep for the second act. Not my fault. Just try to keep up with Lady C, drink for drink. I dare you . . .)
Right before I left, I spent a morning on Good Neighbor Anne's lovely and serene back patio, where we talked fast and furious. She lives within a stone's throw of my house, yet I can go weeks without seeing her — which, we agreed, is not good for either of us. We are in the same exact spot in terms of Life Events — college-age daughters and aging mothers, both of whom we simultaneously adore and are being driven insane by — and we are an important support system for each other. I left full of good coffee and good intentions and haven't seen her since. But I will!

Really — such good intentions!!
And then, on my first day back from the Left Coast, Mimosa and I headed to Boston to see Mrs. Cynicletary in the Boston Actors Theater Play Festival 2017 — she performed a monologue that she wrote herself, called, "That Time We Were Followed," and it was simply stunning. Yes, I was a little weary and jet-lagged, but no way was I missing this. My girl is a genius — the best one in the show. We clapped till our hands ached.

I've known Good Neighbor Anne for almost two decades, and Brunie and Mrs. Cynicletary since I was pregnant with Li'l Martini (who is about to get his drivers license), and both Writer Jenny and Nurse Kathy are friends from my Dallin Elementary School days, so I guess they all qualify as "old" friends now.


According to the Mayo Clinic, friendships are good for your health:
Adults with strong social support have a reduced risk of many significant health problems, including depression, high blood pressure and an unhealthy body mass index. Studies have even found that older adults with a rich social life are likely to live longer than their peers with fewer connections.
I am delighted to include "maintain my strong friendships" in my weight loss–better health plan!


Lady C, who earned a Girl Scout badge in "Friendship" in 1972

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Anxiety, Fear, Pride

I have been very stressed and anxious this week — I lie in bed at midnight tearing at my hands and trying to calm the spinning hamster wheel that is my brain. In particular I'm worried about both Mom and Mimosa, who are not making good choices, which is driving me crazy.

I have this thought about many people — If you would just do what is so clear to me that you should do, your life would be exponentially better — but no one more so than Mom and Mimosa.

(I wonder if people have this thought about me? Well, I know Good Neighbor Anne thinks my life would be better if I exercised more, which is probably true.)

Usually I pride myself on my ability to handle stress. Between hot baths, prayer, exercise, writing, friends, and — yes, I'll say it — alcohol, I can usually turn any frown upside down. But for whatever reason, I could not shake the cloud of misery and malaise that engulfed me this week

Yesterday I was caught in such a spiral of anxiety, it felt to me like the only thing that would bust me out of it was a hard sweaty workout. But for one reason or another, the timing was never right.

Then last night I had an e-mail exchange with my awesome writer pal Sapphire Pen, who is hoping to have both her knees replaced and is seeking my guidance. She wrote:
How are you doing, my friend? Tantalize me by telling me the things you are able to do now that you have bionic knees!
And I thought: Huh. What am I going to tell her? I can go up and down stairs with relative ease, I can walk without pain, I no longer lurch from side to side like Charlie Chaplin . . .

. . . and I seem to have gained an additional 10 pounds???

This, I feared, was not the inspiring pep talk she was seeking.

So last night I committed — to her, to myself, to God and the universe — today was the day. I've been putting off a long multi-mile sweaty walk for too long now, and it was starting to feel overwhelming and scary. Which is simply ridiculous. It's a walk. One foot in front of the other. And no matter how slowly I move, as long as I keep putting one foot in front of the other, I will eventually reach my goal.

And I did it. I got up at 8, strapped myself into sneaks, tight capris, and my new polka-dotted sports bra (compression is my friend!), and I walked the Bike Path, the route that Good Neighbor Anne plotted out for me lo these many years ago, either 2.9 or 2.7 miles, I can't remember for sure, but I think 2.9. 
Terrifying, isn't it?

I was ridiculously tired and sweaty afterward, which I suppose makes sense — I haven't walked that long or that far in, literally, years.
But I am also very proud.
I see my knee surgeon in three weeks for a six-month check-up; wouldn't it be amazing to be in significantly better shape by then? What can I do in three weeks? Is it time for a Boot Camp?
Let me think on this. Right now it's Chore Day at Chez Chardonnay, and I've got floors to vacuum. And I think I'll finish my workout with some weight-lifting, core work, and a long hot bath.

This weekend's library books:

In conclusion:

Yay, me!!!!!! 

Lady C

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Happy Birthday, America! You Don't Look a Day Over 240

Husband was telling me about a new poll saying that only 52% of U..S. adults are "proud to be an American," which, he suspects, is largely due to their feelings about Trump. Which is probably true.

And I can't tell you how much this irritates me.

I'm no fan of the new president either (though I'm always pleased when he spends his time on Twitter. Yes! Do that! It's not remotely presidential, and his tweets confirm so much about his character that I'd already suspected, but let him do that rather than anything actually important!), but "How do you feel about the president?" and "How do you feel about America?" are two different questions.

I think it's rather marvelous and wonderful that a majority of Americans can answer questions about their president in such negative terms — and it's okay! There's no civil war or vast swaths of unrest; there have been many protests but relatively few arrests; my trash is picked up every Friday. We are still one of the greatest countries in the world and I will stand proud, whatever numbskull we elect as president.

But if there isn't a big turnover in 2020 — well, check with me then because my God how stupid are we??

July 4th is not a huge holiday at Chez Chardonnay — we are indoor kitties, as I've mentioned. When the kids were littler, we went to a carnival and saw fireworks in Lexington, which was lovely — I adore fireworks and never saw any growing up as they were illegal. But no one was motivated to do anything particularly patriotic yesterday; I'm not sure that we even hung our flag.

Instead — but let me back up a minute.

Husband used to mow our lawn, and he hated every minute of it. A few years ago, as our young son ripened into manhood, Husband seized the day and set up a most felicitous arrangement: for the princely sum of $20, Li'l Martini would mow and edge the front, back, and side lawns. Eureka! Our lawn has never looked better.

But Martini is 16 now, he's an employed citizen, he is not motivated by money the way he used to be, and (I say this with love) he is a laggard and a slug. In other words: He is tired of mowing the lawn.

"Mimosa," I said, "do you want to take over for your brother for $20?" Mimosa is a good girl but (I say this with love) she is slothful and indolent. No, was her answer. Not on your life. Not now, not ever.

"So," said Husband cheerfully, "I guess we'll hire someone!"

Oh, hell to the no. In a house with two strapping teens and two reasonably healthy elders, we are NOT hiring someone to mow our lawns!!!

Guess what, people? Not every chore is "fun." Welcome to life!

I announced the new plan at dinner two nights ago: We would each take a turn at lawn-mowing and edging, once a week (or every 10 days at the latest). We would randomly draw our slots. Oh, and no one is getting paid for this endeavor. At any time, if someone wants to change the system and mow the lawn out of turn for $20, we will happily allow that. But this is the new plan.

Martini wrote the numbers 1 through 4 on slips of paper, we drew (so dramatic!), and Mimosa is our first lawn-mower.

And that's what we did yesterday. Martini wisely ducked out to visit a friend, but the rest of us congregated in the yard. Husband gave Mimosa a lesson on lawn-mowing (then came to me and confessed, tearfully, how much he missed his dad; Granddaddy was not a particularly patient teacher of the fine art of yardwork, but nonetheless. He was such a sweet and generous man, he took great pride in his family, and we really do miss him.)

While she mowed, I broke in our new electric hedge trimmer (I was so excited when Cute Josh came out of his house; "Look, look!" I cried, eager to lap up his praise. Instead, I got a big kiss from Loki) and trimmed our hedges — not to 2 feet because I'm not a freak but to a perfectly respectable 4 feet.


I also pruned our ornamental tree by sawing off dead branches, as high as I can reach, and then cut up the branches to be burned in our fire pit.

And oh man are my arms feeling all this today! They are limp achy strands of spaghetti. Fortunately, I don't plan to tote a barge or bale hay any time soon.

(Mimosa struggles with anxiety, and she was highly anxious about doing a good job with the lawn. But she did fine. Later, I asked her if she felt proud and confident, having this new life skill under her belt, and rather than blow me off with a flip remark [i.e., "I live in New York City"], she actually paused to reflect for a moment and then said, "I really do!" So that is something.)

After my week of dramatic weight loss, I have lost nary a pound, which annoys me because of all the activity I've been engaging in. (I lifted weights and did PT during Whose Line Is It, Anyway? on Monday night, impressing my children.) Whatever. I am eating less and moving more, and I know this is good for me, even if my scale is a spitey bitch.

I am also eating a ton of fresh vegetables because we have a CSA share again — and my partner's on vacation, so I'm getting two shares in a row. That's a lotta lettuce!

This is the actual farm stand! Isn't it cute?
But I really like this new farm we're working with; they offer 12 or so different items, and you get to choose 8 of the 12, so I don't have to take kale or lettuce if I don't want to. This week I made a fresh spinach salad, with bacon and hard-boiled eggs and red onion and creamy dressing, and everyone scarfed it up like it was caramel truffle ice cream! I will see if I can get two portions of spinach this week — or maybe a lot of dark greens, and then I'll cook and freeze them all.

Last night was Martini's turn to help with cooking, and he made a new recipe called Vietnamese Caramel Salmon, which was so freaking delicious. I try to give the kids a recipe and let them cook it from start to finish, and yesterday he learned how to use a citrus zester and peel corn. Life skills! We also had bok choy, sauteed with onion and garlic, and lots of fresh fruit. Yummy dinner!

And then we had Family Game Night, which was a blast as always. Mom has been downsizing, preparing for her big move to a senior condo, and she had a huge pile of stuff for me to take home, most of which didn't fit into my suitcase. But I took the most important thing: a vintage 1962 Password game!

Mimosa and Husband were Team A, Martini and I were Team B. This was the best exchange:
  • Mimosa: Wood.
  • Husband: Tree?
  • Me: OW!
[Everybody flinched.]
  • Martini: Uh . . . ? I have no idea. Plank?
The word was "splinter." What would you have said?

We also played Presidents, Scattergories, Spades, Marry Shag or Kill? (Mimosa is going to shag and marry Anne Frank, what are the odds?), Cards Against Humanity, and Consequences. It was a rollicking evening with my nearest and dearest, and that is what America is all about, if you ask me.

Tonight I'm throwing every vegetable we have into a giant salad, but our main course will be simple: Trader Joe's macaroni and cheese. If Netflix isn't lying to me, LEGO Batman arrives today! We shall dine and view, and it will be lovely.  And I'm a little tired of cooking, quite frankly.

I'm waiting for two editing jobs to show up, but I saw my retina doc this morning and my eyes are dilated (please forgive any typos; I am bat-blind), so probably it's best that they aren't here yet. I will attempt to eradicate the pile that grows in front of my computer, which I think is mostly a matter of phone calls to strangers, which I hate, but I will bite the bullet and gird my loins and whatever else is required.

Ew, bullet tastes nasty.

Off to it!

Lady C