Remember when blogging used to be fun? It was fun for two reasons:
It was a frequent record of life events, no matter how small those events were. I still refer to the archives to determine what color pray paint I used on an item or the recipe for Oignons en Sauce Rouge. Ever since this blog bored itself to death, I’ve lost that record.
The commenters! It was all about the connection to the commenters. Where did the commenting community go? I’m giving this another whirl and I know I can welcome back Denise VB and Pam but pretty sure I’m going to have to keep myself going with only the notion of the personal record of my life.
/In early March I spent a ton of money on a fresh haircut and highlights. Then I went into self imposed isolation and only my husband and the Amazon van driver got to appreciate the effort. Turns out it was the worst haircut I ever had and I had to look at it and try to ignore it every single day since. Now it’s grown way past the stage where I should have had at least two more hair cuts and now I look like Mary Berry if Mary Berry was a zombie.
/Last week, I got up early on Grass Cutting Day and went out to pull weeds from around the outside of the pool screen so I wouldn’t be humiliated when the grass cutters got here. Long story short, when I fell backwards, I landed on my butt like a baby just learning to walk and then my top half continued on it’s own slammed backwards onto the wet grass. My brain felt like it came loose from my skull for a while but that only lasted until that evening.
[Interlude: I couldn’t get up by myself and no one was around so I had to wait one hour and fifteen minutes sitting in the wet grass and watching surface mud sink deeper into my pale blue terry cloth slippers until my neighbor came out for his coffee and came over to help me up. By that time I was completely soaked and my t-shirt was sagging but mercifully and by rare coincidence I was wearing a bra so no free show for him. He was probably looking at my hair anyway. UNCOMBED zombie Mary Berry.]
/I thought that was the end of it until the next morning when I took that lovely first sip of coffee and jumped up right to the moon. Turns out that the double impact with Mother Earth meant that my teeth banged together two times , cracked one or some molars not sure yet and exposed a nerve. It was so painful that I didn’t even care that I looked like zombie Mary Berry.
/Later that day, I potted up a baby flapjack plant which is my new favorite plant and took it over to leave on his front door step to thank him for lending a helping hand.
/On the weekend, a week-known local musician lives on my street and he got his band together to give a free concert in his driveway for the neighborhood. I’ve been strict about keeping my husband well away from the threat of contagion all this time, but he kept bringing it up and looking at me hopefully so see if it would be okay. Meanwhile, the street is a short cul-de-sac with only 7 houses on each side, so I spent a few days calculating how many individuals who believe that the stay-at-home mandate in Florida didn’t apply to them would be roaming around with neither mask nor respect for social distancing. But when the time came we made a plate of snacks, brought a cocktail for him and a bottle of red for me out to the end of our drive way and settled in.
/It was so much worse than I thought it would be – kids were careening around on bikes and skateboards, half naked teens were standing on the cabs of pick up trucks and there were more motorcycles and golf carts filled with slap happy adults then I could ever imagine would be in this neighborhood. Yet, we felt adequately isolated on our own patch of cement sidewalk compared to the roiling mass of celebrants who were dancing in the cul-de-sac (where the free margarita bar was located.
/Overall, it was good. My husband was so happy and he didn’t even mind very much when I got halfway down the wine bottle and started channeling my inner Lucy Ricardo by explaining something to him that had to be urgently explained right then and there while pouring another glass for myself and he ended up partially covered in a pretty nice 2017 Malbec.
/Anyway, that’s what’s been happening around here. You?
Staying at home is good for finishing projects that got off to a great start but then languished incomplete due to waning interest.
Spray paint. More than 2 years and 7 months ago, I brought home some sad patio chairs that I intended to paint beige with teal straps. I did mange to paint one chair solid beige during the first week but then lost interest in going further. A week ago, I pulled out the three year old can of teal spray paint and finished the job. Sort of. There’s still one chair untouched.
Needlepoint. Many years ago maybe 6, I saw a beautiful English needlepoint kit on eBay that I had to have. I made a high bid on it but then went on a business trip. The auction closed while I was sitting at an airport gate and someone outbid me. I was crushed. And that is why 2 years ago, I saw the same kit, brand new, on eBay again. I was so happy and thankful that I got anther chance at it that I didn’t want to risk losing it again so I paid the But It Now price. It arrived within days and then sat collecting dust while I alternately ignored and cursed over the work-in-progress I had already going on. Very few additional stitches but a lot of curses happened on the WIP until three weeks ago when I just bought another frame and and started work on the beloved. It’s fast going , is simple enough that I can hold conversations or follow a tv show in the background while I stitch. As you can see, I already have about 2 inches done across the top.
Doorway plants. This isn’t much to write home about yet – see me in about 3 months when it all fills out and it’s magnificent – but I never got the doorway plants right before. The entrance looks symmetrical but it’s not so I needed similar plantings in matching pots of different sizes. I think this is it. I don’t expect you to get all excited about this especially since I half-assesd it and worked around plants that survived sun and freeze in other locations. The photo is noteworthy to show you a slice of my life that is hardly meaningful to anyone else but charms me every time. I put those blinds up on the sidelights of the door to block Stedman from licking the glass whenever anyone came to the door. Or a car drove by. Or the mail truck pulled up. Now whenever the glass separates us, he lifts up a slat with his nose. I think he’s trying to see out but he never managed to actually get a look. Every time I come back from being out, I’m greeted by crooked blinds and a little black nose. It’s charming.
I’d like to be able to say that i fonsihed recovering the dining room chairs, or the chair in my oyster-painting studio, or the gold chair that I resprayed brown and now I need a new piece of fabric to cover over the hot pink zebra, but none of that has happened. Maybe I’ll get that all done during the stay at home order for Wu Flu Part 2.
I never really knew how to swim. Not really. I knew you had to windmill your arms and kick your legs and turn your head side to side, but that was about it. I managed to live a life that way quite nicely. Bobbing and floating was all that I expected when I was in the water -pool or ocean – and I was happy with that.
Now I live in Florida and I have a swimming pool right outside my door. Coincidentally, this happened just about the same time as I was referred to physical therapy for two bum knees. When the insurance authorized evaluation + five sessions were over, I continued on my own but in the pool where gravity could not do its evil work. Those exercises made a world of difference in my on-land mobility and stamina. So since I’m such a fine physical specimen now, I decided to add actual swimming to my repertoire.
“Swimming” as in windmilling my arms, kicking a little, running out of air and getting hit by all the water that I pushed ahead of me to end of the pool just as I was about to take in a breath through my mouth. All this with the added effect of arching my back to keep my head above the water line.
But then YouTube taught me how to swim.
Hey, you guys- there’s a lot to this. I had to focus on one part each week and add it to what I had already learned. It took me WEEEEEKS to get it all together and I still have to concentrate on each part to get it right. But it paid off. I can feel it when everything is going right – I can swim longer because I’m not as tired out from fighting the water and I don’t get overtaken by a big bad wave at the end of the pool anymore. But get this:
My last out-of-state visitor was here earlier this month and we were blessed with beautiful weather almost every day. Lots of pool time. My knees had been especially achy then so I mostly bobbed and floated through the early days but when I finally did a few laps in front of him, something happened that was so astonishing, I’m still thinking about it. When I stopped to take a rest , he asked me if I ever took swimming lessons. And then he said
“Your form is really good. You hardly make any movement above the water. I asked about the lessons because Little Edie had perfect form when she swam and you reminded me of her when you were doing laps.” *
[Now this might not be an exact quote. I was then and still am stunned to realize what he said. My recollection is that he said my form was perfect but I didn’t want to overstate it here in case he didn’t really say that. Something about Little Edie (Beale) taking swimming lessons and seeing her (in a film clip) gliding so smoothly the water wasn’t disturbed at all.]
I’m up to 50 laps a day now. It doesn’t sound like much but considering the absolute zero of exercise I’ve been doing lately (for years) , I’m proud of that. The pool is only about 12 strokes long, 11 on a good day but a lap is a lap and I’m only comparing myself with myself, not with Olympians or even Little Edie. Okay maybe with Little Edie. This happy state could crumble at any time depending on what’s going on with the knees so except when it’s a full out thunderstorm, I’m out there every day, plugging along, silently chanting Head still Eyes on the floor Cut into the water Power scoop Rotate the shoulder Rotate the hip Straight leg kicks. When I get to the end of a lap where I’ve got it down perfectly and I can feel myself absolutely SLICING through the water, now I pop up for a turn and add Ooh, you Little Edie to the silent chant as a private reward.
And that brings me to this:
Not only is my friend a sincere complimenter, but he’s also quite ingenious. When he saw that I was pulling to the side and ending up far off from the center of the pool where I intended to be ( because I was staring intently at the floor and not trying to look up to see the pool wall ), he started thinking about how we could mark the bottom of the pool and quickly came up with laying the long-handled pool brush down as sort of an underwater runway. It works! It seems so obvious now, but I never thought of it on my own.
So now , when I come to the end of a lap the silent chant doesn’t change, but when I see the broom handle I realize with relief and pride that I’m headed on the right path and that my form could hold up against Little Edie. It’s a weird feeling.
post script: I haven’t thought about Little Edie in years, not since I saw the Drew Barrymore movie in 2009. In googling around the web fruitlessly searching for a film clip of Little Edie swimming, I did come across many articles noting Little Edie’s struggle to be her own person in the shadow of Big Edie’s dominance. This article The Edies After Grey Gardens discusses how she lived after her mother died. Spoiler: she sold the old house. It made me happy to read this: “Photos taken during that time show the smiling ex-socialite lounging on leather furniture, posing with family members, and—generally—enjoying her life. By all accounts, Edie returned to the world of wealth and pomp with the grace and poise that had always resided beneath the patina of her circumstance. “
So here we are after all this time, me and Little Edie. She returned to the world of wealth and pomp with poise and grace and I’m the backyard athlete that has always resided beneath the patina of my physical circumstance.
I’m deep into visitor season now. You would think that the colder months elsewhere would bring people around to this part of Florida but it doesn’t work out that way. I’ve had 4 visitors since May 19, looking forward to 2 more in July and hoping for 3 more in September/October. That’s as far into the future as I can see.
Visitors mean lots of ill-advised pool time under the mid-day sun, eating out and a boatful of shrimp in the kitchen and later, lots of shrimp heads in the garbage can. Possibly a slight increase in cocktailing. Fortunately for me, the recent visitors have been from my demographic so it was relatively early to bed/ early to rise. A younger set arrives in June so they will be on their own after ~9pm.
Pre-visitors, there was a flurry of cleaning which as usual was not completed 100%. Are you familiar with a coastal storm surge? That’s when a hurricane force wind blows tons of water along a coastline, and the water floods up on the land. In the case of 2012 superstorm Hurricane Sandy, in NJ not only was the ocean coast devastated but the coast of the Raritan Bay took a heavy hit as well until there was nowhere else for the water to go and it crashed into an area that usually gets a rise in water but not in such volume or violent arrival.
I bring this up because this effect is exactly what happens when I houseclean and run out of time to finish – it’s a furious force pushing things along to the farthest point. This time, it was the master bedroom that sustained the accumulation of things blown in from other parts of the house. I just kept the door shut for a week. Now you know how it is.
In other news, I’m still working on that side garden. Year 2. We’re in the home stretch but sometimes I just can’t face the idea of hauling one more bag of rocks to finish the termite-proof mulching. So I made a little tropical container oasis under the palms out front, also unfinished.
The Friends of the Library volunteer thing is going well – I manned the information table in another branch of the library to promote our new group – the first event for us. And now another volunteer opportunity has arisen:
This is a brand new group, – organizing right now but they already have their debut performance – Cat On A Hot Tin Roof – with auditions starting in 2 weeks. Volunteer opportunities in general are limited for those who can’t run around or tote and carry, so I thought I might mosey on over and volunteer my modest sewing skills for the costume department. I figure right now at the earliest stages, they’ll take anybody they can get so good chance they’ll accept me (a broken down old cripple). Or maybe I’ll audition for the part of Maggie the Cat . If that worked out, they’d have to change the play’s name to Cat In A Hot Tin Wheelchair, so maybe I’ll just stick to repairing rips and tears in the cast wardrobe. [Note: I have some concerns that this might be too high pressure for a person whose retirement goal is to loll around, very unlike promoting a library where the focus is on lolling around reading. We’ll see.]
Off to see my new primary care MD for the first time today. That means hours of shaving and scrubbing before I go and then once I get there more time listing all the things that are wrong with me. Let me clarify that: listing all the things that are physically wrong with me. He can find out about the mental defects as we go along.
So now you know why my blogging has been light. I’ve been very busy busy busy.