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, Caffè 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

Monday, July 3, 2017

Oooooh, Baby

Yesterday was so fun!

Two of my library books are due on Monday, so I pushed myself to finish one, turning the last page as I sipped a cup of coffee on Sunday a.m. An awesome book, and such a lovely start to my day!

Then I woke the family. The deal I'd made: one hour of yardwork at 8 a.m., before it got prohibitively hot, with a special treat afterward of a movie at Chunky's! (N.H. cinemaplex where you sit at a comfy reclining chair at a table and are served food and drink. We love it!!!)

The yardwork was as un-fun as it usually is — good Lord, but my family comprises laggards, slugs, and bellyachers. But we got a ton done. My death tree (the willow that grows like Topsy and hid a bald-faced hornets' nest a few years back, remember?) is now half its size (seriously: I filled an entire leaf bag with what I sawed off this tree), which means that the rest of the front garden actually gets some sun.

I weeded and planted and pruned and raked and tried to ignore the rest of the team, as they ambled about the yard in slow motion, taking frequent breaks.

I LOVE my family, but these are not our best moments.

C'est la vie.

Cute Josh next door is a dedicated yard worker (snow shoveler, jogger — your basic nightmare), and I returned from my California vacay to see that he had gone to town on his hedges.
  • Me: Cute Josh has cut his hedges to two feet off the ground.
  • Mom: Wow.
  • Me: Our yard looks like a jungle. I think it's clear what I have to do.
  • Mom: Yeah, hire Josh.
I offered Josh ten dollah to clip my hedges yesterday, but he just laughed at me — though he came over a few minutes later offering to loan his electric hedge trimmer, which is just so sweet. He really is a good neighbor. He then dropped by again a few minutes after that, walking their super-cute dog Loki and hand-in-hand with their darling toddler Angelica.
  • Me: They are the cutest family.
  • Mimosa: Yeah. Too cute. They must be harboring a dark secret.
  • Martini: Did we find out why the mom is bald?
  • Me: Yeah. Breast cancer. But she's not bald any more, she's super-nice, she works in the NICU, and she makes amazing cookies.
  • Martini: But I've heard her yell.
  • Me: That's right. Angelica must be a demon seed.
  • Martini (worried): Mimosa, you better not babysit for them!!   

True Confessions: The "hour" was more like 80 minutes, but the yard looks SO much better and I am happy.

And then I had a lovely afternoon drinking iced white wine and reading Library Book #2, which I'm loving less but still enjoying. I will push myself to finish it Monday morning (i.e., NOW).

At 2:30, we headed to the Granite State to take in a show: Baby Driver, starring multiple Oscar winner Kevin Spacey, Oscar winner Jamie Foxx, Emmy winner Jon Hamm, and teen heart-throb Ansel Elgort.

It was AWESOME. We all loved it!!!! Two thumbs up from the Chardonnays.

I have this vague feeling that I don't like Ansel Elgort, vaguely based on misogynist comments he's made that I vaguely remember reading. But Readers, he won me over in this movie. He is adorable. I wanted to stroke his lightly scarred brow and cure his loneliness. (In a motherly way, pervs.)

A perfect way to spend a summer afternoon!

Though we were all deeply distraught to see that our traditional post-Chunky's treat was not to be: the Dairy Queen in Nashua, N.H., has been torn down!!!!

I suggested driving to Sister Hart's house (she lives nearish) and begging her for dessert, but the family thought that would be rude. Instead, we went to the Baskin-Robbins in Lexington, Mass. (Baskin-Robbins around here tends to be tucked into a Dunkin Donuts, so you have maybe 10 flavors to choose from; it's pretty funny), and that was delicious — but dude, when you're craving a Buster Bar, it is hard to settle.

I will note that my weight was slightly up this morning, which — given yesterday's consumption of ice cream, chili nachos, and so many glasses of wine I require a full hand to count them — is perhaps not a surprise. But it's the first time since California that my weight went up, not down, so today I'm back to Spartan living and good choices.

Today's goals:
  • Do five PT exercises
  • Get up and move once an hour whilst editing
  • Lift weights
  • Eat small meals of real food and lots of fruit and vegetables
  • Only one or two glasses of sangria, after 5

Very do-able!

Off to finish a library book, I hope, and then start this week's editing. I have three clients, and I'm hoping to hold it to that.

Happy America's Birthday Eve, my peeps!

Lady C

Saturday, July 1, 2017

I Have Alarmed FatSecret

When I'm motivated, I record my food on FatSecret, which is great for tracking not only calories but also nutrition. I especially love seeing how much fiber I eat in a day, as my aim is 25–30 grams. Fiber fascinates me, as it's never where I think it is. I was also astonished to see that the apple I ate yesterday had 19 grams of carbohydrates!!!! Carbs are in everything, man.

I decided to weigh in today, as it's been a full week since my scary scary weight last Sunday. And we all know it's Xanadu, what happened then and now doesn't resemble an actual weight loss plan, but nonetheless: I lost 8.5 pounds in a week.

FatSecret is concerned. They would like me to settle down and stop losing at this alarming rate. Think of your health, they said.

It was pretty funny, I must admit.

In California, my brother Mateo turned me on to a new drink — "Lemonades" — comprising vodka, tonic water, sweet and sour mix, and a product they have in Minnesota but not in California apparently: Schweppes Lemon Sour Soda (they subbed in margarita mix for this and the sweet-and-sour). And sister, those went down gooooood. I had eleventy-thousand of them.

We also ate Mexican food, a cuisine not known for its dietetic properties, like it was about to be discontinued. Oh, man. It was a good vacation.

Here are some funny bits:

As we were going over the menu for Mom's not-birthday-party, a Mexican buffet:

  • Sunny Yellow: Do we want a dessert or treat of some kind? Like, a birthday cake?
  • Me: Mom, want a cake? Do you know a good bakery?
  • Mom: Oh, Upper Crust Bakery makes wonderful cakes!
  • Me: Great! Which one is your favorite?
  • Mom: They have all different kinds.
  • Me: Well, what's your favorite cake in general?
  • Mom: Oh, I don't know.
  • Me: OK, let's look at their menu.
  • Mom: I don't have it.
[Note: At my brothers urging, she had purchased a new laptop computer, which they set up for her that morning. Her old computer, just to give you some perspective, still has DOS on it and can read floppy disks — like, the actually floppy ones.]
  • Me: We'll look it up online.
  • Mom: Or we could just call them . . .
  • Me: Mom, they're not going to read the entire menu to you over the phone, and even if they did, by the time they got to the end, you wouldn't remember what came first.
  • Mom: I guess you're right.
Mateo finds Upper Crust's website, and we begin to peruse. (Seriously, check it out. I had a small O while reading, and I'm not even a cake person.)

(In the meantime, Mom has gotten out the phone book and is prepared to launch her "Let's just call them" plan. Oh, Mom.)
  • Mateo: Mom, come look at these.
  • Mom (sighs, puts down phone book): OK . . .
Long pause.
  • Mom: They all look so good . . .
  • Me: Mom, would you like me and Mateo to choose your favorite cake?
  • Mom: Yes!
I look at the menu again, point to one, Mateo agrees. Miguelito wanders in.
  • Miguelito: So, what did you decide is Mom's favorite cake?
  • Me: Chocolate Truffle.
  • Miguelito: I knew it!
Dang me, it was good!!!!!
Mom was consistently inconsistent as to whether she wanted a party or not; we finally compromised by inviting our nearest and dearest relatives to "drop in" (though it still came as news to my youngest Chico cousin, who was only informed the night before — as in, "Hey, Cousin, could you bring Sierra Nevada beer tomorrow?" "Uh, what's tomorrow . . . ?" he said.) (He works for Sierra Nevada.)

"Dropping in" is also kind of funny, as one cousin was driving up from Southern California, but oh well. It was sweet that they all wanted to come.
My tribe. Love 'em all!!

And of course, on the cake Mateo and I wrote, "Happy Birthday, Mom! (Thanks for dropping in!)"

My adorable little nephew Walkman was less excited about the menu than we all were.
  • Walkman: Do I have to eat everything?
  • Me: Of course not, honey, it's a party. Eat only what looks good to you.
  • Mateo: Will you stop using the "P" word?? It's a drop-in.
  • Me: Oh, right. Sorry, Walkman, you have to eat all the vegetables.
Mom, God bless her, is getting battier and battier as she ages.
  • Me: Hey, it's June 14. Happy Flag Day!
  • Mom: Oh, is that why there were so many flags around town yesterday?
  • Me: Yes. Flag Day Eve is huge in Chico.
We're about to run a bunch of errands, I'm getting dressed, Mom is rummaging around in the closet where she keeps the lockbox full of financial records and other important stuff.
  • Mom (conversationally): The safe deposit key is in the folder with the passports.
  • Me: OK . . . those seem like strange bedfellows. Is it labeled clearly?
  • Mom: Yes.
I put my shoes on and prepare to leave.
  • Mom: Did you get the safe deposit key?
  • Me: Um — was I supposed to?
  • Mom: Yes, we just discussed it.
  • Me: Oh. OK. So, I was supposed to know that "The safe deposit key is in the folder with the passports" actually meant "Lady, I can't bend over far enough to retrieve the safe deposit key, so can you get it for me?"
  • Mom: Yes!
Too funny.

More to tell, but it's Chore Day at Chez Davis-Kay, I have a few more things to do, and I'm madly craving a Lemonade. It's a sultry day in Arlington, Mass.; I think I've already sweated out five pounds by vacuuming my house; a tart sparkly cocktail just fits my mood.


Lady C