Monday, June 27, 2016

Batman!


I was in the middle of a tiling project when my daughter Kate wandered by.  "You look just like a villain from Batman," she commented.  I pondered that.  

Although I'm not a Batman fan, I am crazy-in-love with the beautiful Anne Hathaway, who bears a startling resemblance to my own gorgeous and adorable daughter-in-law Susan.  So, of course, the only woman I thought of was Catwoman.  I was flattered, but why would anyone compare me to a young, tall, slim brunette?  I do totally love her sleek outfit and she is kinda busty. It's a stretch almost beyond imagination, but I was flattered and I'm all about graciously receiving compliments, however ludicrous they are.   "Thanks," I said then turned back to my job, still considering how great I would look in Anne's costume.  

I'm thinking all kinds of happy thoughts. I just adore over-the-elbow gloves and the mask is cool, too.  The hip-hugger belt would probably hide some tummy.... 

"No, Mom. You really do." Kate asserted.   "Let me show you a picture."  In seconds, she's turning her cell phone around for me to see. "His name is Bane."


So, my daughter thinks I look like a creepy looking bald guy wearing a muzzle. Hmmm....
It's a huge blow to my ego, but I can sorta see what she means.

www.StillSwimmingUpstream.com

Friday, June 24, 2016

Judge Not, Lest Ye be Judged

I was standing at a crosswalk waiting for the light to change. Across from me was a family. Dad, mom in the middle, daughter.  As I looked at them, I realized that the lady in the center was short.  Quite short.  Exceedingly short. Painfully short. 

While I was pondering this, the light changed and I began to walk towards her. As we passed, I said, "4-11. And you? "  She walked by, then turned around and smiled.  "5-1," she replied. 
Even shorter than I realized.

www.StillSwimmingUpstream.com 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Down the Lazy River

Last week I had the pleasure of accompanying Jerry on a business trip to Amelia Island, Florida.  The area is gorgeous and April was the perfect time of year to see it.  With the Atlantic Ocean right outside our window, the sunrises would be spectacular.


There was an opportunity to join a kayaking excursion one afternoon, but since we have our own kayaks it seemed silly to pay for the privilege. Jer hoisted ours atop the car and we drove south. The wind gusted into the kayaks and it sounded like we were riding inside the cab of a semi. Ambiance! Steering seemed difficult and we stopped often for readjustments but weathered the adventure without incident.

The day prior to our privately scheduled "fun on the water," I started to get antsy.  I remembered this is alligator country.  Visions of alligator death rolls filled the movie screen in my mind.

The spouses went on a cruise along the coast that morning and I learned all kinds of fun facts which upped the fear factor exponentially.  "There is a convergence of three rivers here," said the captain, "and one of those is the Okefenokee Swamp.  Every time there's a storm," he said, "snakes get washed in.  There are more rattlesnakes on Tiger Island than anywhere else in the U.S."  It doesn't even matter if he was telling the truth.  That there might be a possibility is enough for me.  Now, my mind movie features alligators AND snakes.  Nice. 

The final nail in the coffin was when I read a local newspaper headline entitled, "Counting Great White Sharks off the Coast of Amelia Island." Kayaking here is clearly a dumb idea. I'm amazed I consented to it! Although I'm questioning my intelligence, peer pressure being what it is, I'm keeping quiet about my misgivings. And, if you believe that, you don't know me. At all.  No, I'm telling everyone, even strangers we pass, what a dumb idea kayaking here is. Jer had to drag me kicking and screaming out to the parking lot.  I was not a happy camper and he knew it.

When we arrived at the boat ramp into the ocean, there were white caps on gigantic waves crashing onto the shore. No way am I entering the ocean - not here with the sharks lurking nearby - especially when I know the rattlesnake holiday destination is just a rock-skip away.

Jerry, undeterred by my protests, could also see that conditions were not right for ocean kayaking.  He was disappointed.  After all, he had struggled  with these kayaks many hours and, dang it, intended to use them.  We got back in the car.  I heaved a sigh of relief because I thought I was home free, but then we drove over what appeared to be a creek. He pulled into a bait shop parking lot.  "We'll put in here," he said.  

Honestly, there were little white caps on this river too and the current seemed fast, but my protests fell on deaf ears and in we went.  I requested -- no demanded -- that we paddle upstream because I wasn't sure I'd have the strength to fight the current on the way back.  Jerry agreed. 

My husband, who weighs more than I do, was sailing smoothly ahead while I was way behind, paddling like a maniac, getting nowhere.  As I inched forward, the wind turned me sideways.  Try as I might to avoid hitting the gigantic sailboats that were lining the waterway, my kayak was now perpendicular to the current. Never have I capsized while paddling in my own kayak and I was determined that today wasn't gonna be that day either.  

Occasionally, Jerry would yell, "We can turn back whenever you want to."  I wanted to turn back before I got in, but I kept struggling because that's what wives do.  Then he shouted back, "I just want to get to that opening ahead."  That was when I had the horrifying realization that the "opening ahead" was the ocean and directly in front of us was Tiger Island!  

The wind became my best friend about now because it began blowing with gusto and even Jerry started having problems paddling.  It was a losing battle; we turned back.  Jerry made up the distance between us in a heartbeat. "Don't paddle," he hollered.  "The current is so strong I'm afraid we'll miss the boat launch and I don't know how we'll get back if we do."  He has a knack for knowing exactly what words to say to reassure me.

We struggled into the boat launch but the tide had gone out.  I didn't even know that was possible in creeks, but obviously it is.  The water was at least a foot lower than when we got in. What that meant to me was I had to drag the kayak up a slick incline and I'd have to get out of the boat to do it.  When I did, I sank up to my knees in muck.  Smelly muck.  Think "sewage" smelly.  The kayaks were covered in muck too and when we hoisted them onto the car top, the stuff flew everywhere. It was even in our hair. How attractive.

A half hour later, just as we were turning into the hotel parking lot, my sweet husband announced, "The bus we need to catch for our supper destination is leaving in fifteen minutes.  I don't think there's time to shower."

That just goes to show you how wrong a man can be.  Given a choice between going to a fancy dinner smelling like sewage and taking a shower in under fifteen minutes, most women can probably rise to the occasion.  

I did.



www. StillSwimmingUpstream.com



Wednesday, February 24, 2016

A Girlfriend

"Grammy, can I have a dark cookie?" said Grayson.

"Of course, Dear," said I.  (That's what Grammys say.)




"A girlfriend brought these,"  he replied.

"What's her name?"  

A dark cloud passed across my grandson's face as he pondered this.  Finally he answered.  

"I don't know.  A girlfriend came to the door and Mommy bought us a box of cookies."

Sure she did.  Who can resist a Girlfriend Cookie?

www.StillSwimmingUpstream.com






Sunday, January 24, 2016

It's Winter!


Yesterday evening a frigid north wind blew ice and snow into our Carolina world. We welcome you, winter weather!

Trust me, there are sledders in this picture.
Today rosy-cheeked children are sledding on snow covered grass while Jerry is chipping ice off our driveway. Meanwhile the sun is shining brightly. Water is dripping onto our deck off petite icicles hanging from the eaves.
They say tomorrow will be 50°. The winter season is mercifully short here.


www.StillSwimmingUpstream.com

Monday, January 18, 2016

Ugly Words

I read an interesting article on Facebook about Lee Marvin, Captain Kangaroo, and Mr. Rogers. Interesting, but not true. Lies! Lies! All lies! Still, I give its authors an A+ for creative writing. According to Snopes it's pure fabrication, but it makes for a great urban legend.

While doing that research, I stumbled across this picture. It got me thinking. While a picture may be worth 1000 words, sometimes what you see is not really what you get.


Picture from Snopes.com
Mr. Rogers was not gleefully flipping off his preschool audience here. What he was actually doing was a lot more in line with his character. He was singing that classic children's favorite, “Where is Thumbkin?”

Here's another photo that's open to misinterpretation. This is not my grandson dancing to that Motown classic, “Stop in the Name of Love.” It's not even Grayson volunteering that his brother is five years old now. 




In this case, a picture is not worth 1000 words. It's worth four. “No more pictures, Grammy.”

There's about as much chance of that happening as there was that Mr. Rogers was a Navy seal.

www.StillSwimmingUpstream.com

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

All's Well that Ends Well

Yesterday Jerry The Superhero rescued a damsel in distress yet again.  That damsel was ME.

It all started in 2015 when I decided to learn to back down my driveway, a feat that sounds easier than it is, especially if you don't understand we live in a house that's dramatically perched halfway down the side of a steep hill.

Not even ten people have braved our driveway in the five years we've lived here.  One of them, our 18 year-old-niece Maggie, yelled "We're going to die!" the entire time she was driving down. Her mother - my baby sister - DID back Maggie's car back up the driveway, so clearly she has nerves of steel. I'm proud to call them both family.

Fact is, without a backup camera I wouldn't have been courageous enough to attempt this insanity myself. With the camera, it is possible.  Painful, but possible.  Or so I thought.  Until yesterday.

Yesterday my positioning was off just a hair and when I got to the tricky part where there are trees on one side and a sharp turn on the other, my front tire ended up off the pavement.

Unfortunately it's been rainy here and the ground is saturated.  In my efforts to straighten the car out, a back tire ended up in the mud as well.  Of course this spot is on the steepest incline and when I tried to go forward I ended up sliding into the clutches of an evil gardenia bush.



This not being my first rodeo, I put the car in park, engaged the emergency brake, crawled over the seat and left the vehicle from the passenger's side.  Why get muddy?

I enlisted a friend to help me.  He dug mud out from under the front tire and added gravel.  Nope.  Next he wedged in a piece of board.  No go.  He shoved the car sideways while I put the car in drive.  Nothing. All that was happening was the rut was getting deeper.


"If it were my car," he said, "I'd back over the bush.  But there's a chance that your [brand new] car will end up at the bottom of the gully and I do not want to be responsible for that."

I respected his candor and was grateful for his efforts, especially because I knew if he couldn't get my car out, I certainly couldn't. I went inside and ate lunch.

When Jerry got home that evening, all he said was, "I need to move your car before it gets dark."  Three minutes later, he was backing the car into the garage.

The best thing about the experience was not that Jerry wasn't angry with me.  I knew he knew I didn't do it on purpose. The best part was that he didn't tease me.

That's the mark of a true superhero.



www.StillSwimmingUpstream.com



Friday, January 1, 2016

Too Good to be True

I was feeling mighty proud of myself for having the presence of mind to check out the "Mark Zuckerberg is giving away millions to Facebook users" post on SNOPES.  It is, as most now know, an urban legend.  

Fresh from that victory, you might think I would have been more suspicious when my friend sent me the video of the two ladies selling laundry magnets for $69.95 that "clean your clothes without detergent."  But no, not me. I got excited.

Forgetting that I make my own laundry detergent that costs approximately two cents a load, I began thinking about how much money I could save. Then I forwarded the video to Jerry.  Immediately I began receiving (many) scientific looking pages refuting these claims.  Ensnared in the web of my own gullibility, I finally cried "Uncle!"  He was right and I was wrong - another great idea bites the dust.  Why is it so always so easy for me to believe something that's 'too good to be true?'
   

Later I stumbled across a video on Pinterest where a guy took an overripe banana, put it in a baggie of rice (like you do when your cell phone goes for an accidental swim in the toilet), waited several hours, then used his blow drier on it.  Voilà! The dark-skinned banana magically turned yellow right before my eyes.

That I somehow convinced my skeptical husband and open-minded daughter to try this still surprises me, but I did.  We buried the overripe banana into the rice and then went out to have lunch and shop.  Hours later, we pulled the banana out of the rice and plugged in the blow dryer.  With great enthusiasm, we all watched as the skin turned ... even darker.   

Banana bread anyone?



www.StillSwimmingUpstream.com




Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Epic Fail!

We were having friends over for supper and I was making an easy meal I've made many times - a mushroom main dish, fruit salad and pumpkin pudding.

Things were not going well.  I had managed to use more dishes prepping than normal so the counter was covered with dirty pots and pans, utensils, and the like.  Grease had splattered all over the stove and walls when I was sautéing the onions, so the entire kitchen was a dirty, grimy disaster.  There would need to be a massive clean up to be guest-ready. 

Then I scorched the milk for the pudding.  This meal was turning into more drama than seemed necessary.  I realized a lot of the stress I was feeling was self-generated so I took a deep breath.

I started over - which seriously threw my timing off - and I could almost hear the countdown in my head. Apparently that deep breath had just wasted precious time.  It was becoming obvious that the kitchen was not going to be pretty when the doorbell rang. Oh, well.  What are ya gonna do, right?

I was whipping the egg yolks to finish the pudding when Jerry arrived home from work.  He tasted the entree - one of his favorites - and announced that it was "too spicy to eat." That was happy news.  Not. 


Gross.

Those words were chasing each other around in my mind when I poured the eggs into the warm milk too fast and they instantly curdled, turning scrambled before my very eyes. I didn't have enough milk to attempt pudding for a third time. For a split second, I wondered if I could strain the lumps out - seriously, there was less than five minutes before Dick and Lee were to arrive.  


Then a miracle occurred!  Lee texted me that she had burned the green beans that she was bringing as a side dish.

I believe in divine guidance and I know it when I see it.

Ten minutes later, we were all sitting in a booth at our neighborhood Italian restaurant, ordering dinner.   

The food was excellent.


www.StillSwimmingUpstream.com

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Deer


I just saw this pic of a friend on Facebook:  
Greg in his gear.  Practically invisible.

He is decked out in his camos - I think there might even be feathers involved - his face looks like it's smeared with black shoe polish, and he is hiding in a tree

News flash!  All that effort is not necessary.  There's an easier way.  

Just come to my house, get a cold drink and a plate of food and sit on the deck.   When you look up from your first bite, you will see a deer wander up and begin eating birdseed out of the feeder which is inches away from you.  A second will be ambling up the stairs - why walk through the brush when you can just use a staircase?  Most likely there will be a third who will be dining nearby on the flower heads of chrysanthemums.  

Don't think you will scare them either, because you won't.  Nothing you can do or say will convince them to move on.  Nothing.  Not banging on a pan, not shouting, not running around waving your arms.  Believe me, I've tried. Occasionally they will make eye contact, but it's more to taunt me than anything else.   

My dad told me once that when he was young he went to Michigan's Upper Peninsula to deer hunt, "because there weren't deer in lower Michigan."  

Times have changed.  We live fifteen hours south of the U.P. and sometimes there will be ten deer in our front yard at once.

Hunters are searching for deer in the wrong place.  The deer obviously have all moved to the city.



www.StillSwimmingUpstream.com


    

Friday, October 9, 2015

My Dinner Companion

This week I am in beautiful Banff, a national park in Canada, accompanying my husband to an AHTD conference.  Although one guy told me it means, "Acquired Hyper-tension Disease," AHTD actually stands for "Association for High Tech Distributors." These affairs are old-hat for Jerry but it's a rare pleasure for me to join him.  Yes, I am totally out of my element here.  Meaningful conversation with the attendees will not be happening but I totally can socialize with the other spouses and we are staying in a castle in the mountains.  This luxury is not the normal world I inhabit but I am willing to adapt.

Beautiful Lake Louise
Photo courtesy of
Kathy Golubski

Last evening I found myself at dinner in a noisy restaurant sitting with a table full of strangers.  I was nervous because, as I said, I rarely attend these events and I'm totally clueless about almost any topic which they might discuss.  It's going to be a long, long night, fraught with mine-fields of dangerous opportunities in which I might unintentionally embarrass my significant other.  

The tension mounts.

I choose to forgo the cocktail and I get teased.  I stick to my guns.  I need my wits about me.

There are two other spouses at this table, but I am not sitting beside either one of them.  I am between Jerry and a gorgeous younger woman named Rhonda whom I initially thought was the host's wife.  Of course I didn't keep this assumption to myself.  The very first thing I said to her was, "How long have you and your husband been here?"  to which she chuckled and replied, "He's not my husband; he's my boss."

Oops.  Strike one.

In fairness to me, my husband's chosen career is male dominated so it was an honest mistake.  When you do come across a woman in this field though, you can bet your paycheck that she will be hard-working and as sharp as the blade of a well-honed knife.  Women who succeed in this industry are uber competent and dedicated; there is no express elevator to the top.  Because I know this, I am even more nervous than usual.

The guys were talking about football, or baseball or basketball - some sport.  I have nothing to contribute to this conversation so I'm only half-listening when this gal leans in my direction and says, "Do you like cocaine?"

Panic! 

To say that I was blindsided would be dramatic understatement. My mind froze. Where there was once brains, there are now just icicles.  I could feel the color drain out of my face.  How do I respond to this?  I knew - I just knew - that no matter what I said, it was going to be the wrong answer.

This is beyond awkward. 

After a pause that was far too long, I rose to the occasion.  I may not be in my element, but I have been a mother for almost forty years.  Within this timespan, there have been more than a few uncomfortable conversations.  I prepared for another.

Falling back on hard-won skills that parenthood has taught me, I looked her square in the face and, without flinching, I said, "Do I like cocaine?"

She burst out laughing.

"I'm from Kentucky," she said, "I said, 'Do you like UK?'"

The evening got a lot easier after that.



www.StillSwimmingUpstream.com


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Crystal Clear Instructions

My cousin Nancy had this lovely ginger jar for many years before she looked inside it.







When she did, she found these directions:






While I'm the first to admit that I am not the sharpest crayon in the box when it comes to putting things together, even I feel that this might be overkill.  On the plus side, both steps are easy to understand.




www.StillSwimmingUpstream.com

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

New-fangled gadgets!



Last week, Jerry and I were in Denver visiting my cousins and their families.  We had a blast - because vacationing is fun and because the Denver cousins are good hosts.
Ride 'em Cowboy!
Orange and purple cauliflower.  Who knew?  


This story is even funnier because it totally could have been me and either of my daughters would have responded exactly the way Nancy's daughter Sarah did. 

We were riding in the car on the way to visit Aunt Mary, Nancy in the backseat so I could sit up front while her daughter Sarah drove us.




Sarah, Aunt Mary and Nancy
The phone rang.

The car is equipped with blue tooth which means it rang within the car.  I get that this is a new-fangled way to have hands-free conversations while at the wheel, but I was still caught up in the thrill of it. (I don't get out much...)

The car's backup screen lit up with the name 'Alan.'  Of course, you do have to read the screen and touch it to accept the call, so it's not exactly risk-free but it sure is easier than juggling a phone while you're steering.  Plus when you get a call this way, it's automatically on speaker so it's much easier to hear.    

Sarah moved to answer the call from her Uncle Alan but before she actually touched the screen, her mother pressed the green button on her iPhone, which automatically transfers the call from the car to her phone, which she was holding at arm's length.

"Alan," Nancy said.  "I'm in the car....

...I don't know what's wrong, but....

I can't hear you very well..."

Sarah sighed.  

"Put the phone to your ear, Mom," she said.





www.StillSwimmingUpstream.com




Wednesday, September 9, 2015

At Three




This is the exact conversation I had with my favorite three-year-old:


Grayson:  "Levi is funny."

Me:  "Does Levi make you laugh?"

Grayson:  "No."

Me:  "Then why do you think he's funny?"

Grayson:  "Because he is."



He recently informed me that his
pre-school teacher, Miss Sandy, is his new best friend.  I protested.  


Me:  "I want to be your new best friend!"

Grayson:  "No.  Miss Sandy is."


I could talk to that kid all day long and never get bored.



  

www.StillSwimmingUpstream.com





Wednesday, September 2, 2015

A Day at the Beach

For anyone out there in the great, big world who doesn't yet realize that I, Chris Zimmerman, am married to a superhero, here's a true story:

On Saturday we were at the beach and I was jumping around in the waves in knee-deep water while Jerry was out farther playing on a boogie board.  All of the sudden, a monster white cap came crashing in and, at that instant, I was underwater.  It carried me to shore and when I stood up, both my hat and my prescription sunglasses had been swept away.  


Someone on the beach called that they had grabbed my hat and I wandered away to retrieve it.  After I got it, I realized that, by moving, I'd dramatically reduced my odds of finding my sunglasses.  Ever.    

Meanwhile Jerry, who had seen what had happened, swam over and I waded out a bit to meet him.  As I was telling him that they were lost for good, my husband reached into the Atlantic Ocean and pulled out my sunglasses.  I repeat:  I lost my sunglasses in the ocean and my husband found them.  Only a superhero could do that!  I'm still amazed.

That man should be wearing a costume with a cape.


www.StillSwimmingUpstream.com

    

Thursday, August 20, 2015

My Pets

Toby, my pet SCOBY

This is Toby.  He's alive.  I know that Toby looks like a placenta but he's actually a SCOBY - a Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast - and he's alive.   I think of him as my pet.  

Although Toby likes to eat, he's as picky as a toddler.  All he wants is one thing: sweet tea.  Toby floats in about a gallon of sweet tea which I refresh every seven to ten days.  If Toby were a cat, you'd change his litter that often, wouldn't you? So my pet doesn't take any more maintenance than your cat or dog.  And, I don't have to walk him.  Totally a plus.

What Toby does, and does well, far better than your pets - even if you have gerbils or mice, is procreate.  He breeds faster than a rabbit! Every week when I change his tea, I take Old Toby, who is now lying below Baby Toby and remove him, allowing Toby Junior (the clone) to bask in the sweetness of the new batch of tea all alone.  Papa Toby goes into my SCOBY hotel, a resting place for Toby, Toby Senior, Grandpa Toby, Great Gramps and so on.  
The SCOBY Hotel

I could just pitch Old Toby onto my compost pile or eat him like gummy candy but I prefer to "put him out to pasture" in the friendly gallon jar with his family.  That way, if something happens to my current Toby, I have one in reserve.  Or two.  Or ten...  

Another, happier, alternative for me is that I can give Old Toby to YOU.  YOU take Old Toby, put him in a jar full of sweet tea with a cup or two of his fermented tea and then you have your own cute pet.  

What's that?  You don't think Old Toby is cute?  Didn't your mother ever teach you that if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything?  Maybe I don't think your pet is that cute either, but you don't hear me announcing it to the world.

You could buy yourself your own Toby online.  Tobys there cost $50.  Makes my gift idea seem more generous, right?

Toby can sit on the counter, all but ignored, for several weeks, just happily floating in his sugared tea water and growing more SCOBYS but the longer he sits without fresh food, the more sour his pool water becomes.  Ultimately, Toby will be swimming in vinegar - lovely if you want to use it for salad dressing, but pretty tough to drink.  

Drink?

Yes, that's right.  The byproduct of Toby's sweet tooth is KOMBUCHA, a fermented tea that's chock full of probiotics, 38 - 43 strains of those little buggers, all just waiting to improve my gut health when I swig down a drink. And swig I do.  

When I put Baby Toby into his new tea (again, with a cup or two of old tea, just to keep it acidic), I bottle his used-up pool water which is now Kombucha, add flavoring and let the tea sit on my counter for a day or so.  Then I put the bottles into my fridge.   

Because I like the taste of Kombucha, which is like a sparkling apple cider with a champagne-like fizz, I also change the SCOBY hotel once a week and bottle that tea, too.  My fridge is filled with fermented-tea-in-beer-bottles at all times and usually more is just a day away.  I am happy to let guests who wander down taste test the current flavors.  Usually there's one that's a standout and we chug down that bottle immediately.  The rest will improve as they age.

Kombucha sells everywhere these days.  Somebody told me you can even buy it at WalMart.  I have never seen it sold for less than $2.50 on sale and some brands sell for nearly $4.00 each.  Mine costs me $.50 a gallon.

Now that you know that, I don't seem to be one cat shy of crazy anymore, do I?



* * *

This is Karen.  She's alive.  Karen is a Water Kefir Grain.....





www.StillSwimmingUpstream.com

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Circus

Summer colds are the worst and mine was a doozy.   Monday morning I was scheduled for the first appointment of the day with my dentist.  Since I couldn't reach the office over the weekend to reschedule and I didn't want to be one of "those people" who cancel at the last minute, I decided to go and let them hear me for themselves.  Cough.  Cough.  Cough.  I knew that nobody in their right mind would want me within six feet of them.

Although I was hacking while talking to the receptionist, she didn't seem too concerned. Even though I know the dentist wears a mask and plastic gloves, I was still shocked when he didn't think my coughing was a big deal either.  I, on the other hand, didn't even want to be in the same room with me.

My view from the dental chair.
They led me back to the chair, clipped my bib on and the circus began.  First, Sidekick Sam put a mini-trampoline in the front of my mouth, which may have shielded them somewhat from gross-ocity but I believe it's designated function was to keep my jaws wide open.  Then, the dentist crammed both his hands and part of his arm into my mouth and began baton twirling with tiny silver instruments, an act that he himself said he never perfected in any classroom during dental school.  I started to laugh, which made me cough, which made him stop and raise the mechanical chair to an upright position.  Every time he lowered the chair, he would say something funny which would make me laugh, which would make me cough.  This was going to be a long morning.

Somewhere in the middle of the hilarity, Sidekick Sam, who is the Princess of Compassion, says, "I don't mean to frighten you, but...."

I ask you, does it even matter what she says next?  I mean, I'm already alarmed based upon her introductory statement.  This, apparently, was the wild animal portion of the show because I have turned into a dragon and plumes of smoke are billowing out of my mouth. Sam is just trying to reassure me that this is normal.  Normal.  Really?

Guess what?  My eyes had been closed.  Before she mentioned it, I thought there was a pot of chili burning somewhere.  Now I have arrived at the painful conclusion that my mouth is on fire.  That's okay though, because it's normal.

Years ago, my dentist made me a queen when he inserted a permanent crown of gold into my mouth.  I have behaved regally ever since; sometimes I even wear a tiara. Now these two are trying to one-up that guy by making me the winner of a prestigious sporting event:  The Triple Crown.  I am short enough to be a jockey, but I'm not crazy about that outfit.

When the dust settled - or, in this case, when the temporary crown was glued into place, three hours had elapsed.  The trampoline was removed.   The whole side of my face was achy and sore but I was floating on air I was so elated.  Why?  

No, I hadn't been sucking in the nitrous oxide!  Who would even think I would do that? Well, it does make your voice sound squeaky and funny, so it would fit into the circus theme. 

But that was not the source of my glee.  I was delighted BECAUSE IT'S OFFICIAL! After he finished, my dentist told me I have an extremely tiny mouth.

 My dentist is a professional and he says I have an extremely tiny mouth.  It must be true then.

Extremely.Tiny.Mouth.


www.StillSwimmingUpstream.com




Thursday, July 23, 2015

My Questionable Cleaning Style




Kitchen Horror!
My lovely Motel 6 bedroom

I have made a hideous mess of my kitchen while elevating our bedroom to "cleanest ever" status.  
If you are asking yourself what a cake dish and two punch bowls were doing in the bedroom in the first place, you don't know me well.

Last week four of my all-time favorite friends came to visit and the first couple arrived six hours before I expected them.  The sheets were in the dryer and I was at the tail-end of my weekly kombucha bottling session so the kitchen was a wreck, but other than that things weren't as gruesome as they could have been. These were "self-cleaning" guests and after a week of fun - including Indian cooking lessons - they departed, leaving the house cleaner than they found it.  I must mention that the guys prepared all the meals and cleaned up afterward too. I swear, I could soooo love communal living!
Learning in Santhoshi's Kitchen.  Yum.


Guess which guest chef is left-handed?
Maybe depression at their departure inspired the current cleaning binge?

Yesterday I ripped everything out of all the closets, cabinets and drawers of the master bath and bedroom and took everything that didn't belong to the kitchen. It took all day but I knew Jerry was going to work late so I had extra time to get everything straightened back up.  What I forgot to factor in was that Kate was coming over.

"Oh my God, what happened here?" was her entry line.  Things only deteriorated from there.  Before the evening was over, I had emptied drawers and shelves in the kitchen too.  When Jerry got home, he didn't even comment.  He's used to these upheavals and knows that they usually abate on the third day.  It also helped that he could see that the boudoir was Holiday Inn clean.  
Vanilla in its infancy

Today I got up to face the explosion in the kitchen and ended up arranging my spices which led directly to infusing vodka with vanilla beans.  When I was done with that, I whipped up a batch of my homemade deodorant and made laundry soap - all in a kitchen that would have caused social services to remove my child from the home had they had occasion to visit.   (She's twenty-six.  I wonder where they would place her?)  Then, instead of picking it all up, I decided to write this blog.

I am currently taking an online course called:  Focus and Concentration.  I wonder if they have a money-back guarantee?  


www.StillSwimmingUpstream.com

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Choosing Glasses

Two years ago, Jerry made a major faux pas when he went to get an eye exam and came home with new (unapproved) glasses. Glasses are a fashion statement that demand careful consideration. Just grabbing a pair and buying them without (my) scrutiny is such a ….guy thing.

Over time I got used to them but apparently Jer felt the sting of censure because last Monday morning he called me from work. He appeared to be inviting me to lunch but he had an ulterior motive. He slid in a plea for me to help him choose a suitable pair of glasses, since we would be out anyway.

We arrived at the optical side of the eye doctor's practice at 11:30. Jer commenced trying on frames. A rep was standing off to the side and I asked him what frames were “in” in Europe. (This matters because European eyewear arrives in the US a couple of seasons later. If you don't mind looking like a dweeb for a few months, you will be totally stylin' for the rest of the time you wear your glasses.)


No.
Nyeh.

Harrison Ford?
Jerry modeled frame after frame after frame but neither of us could make a definitive decision. The rep even chose a few pairs for Jer to try on. Neither of us liked his choices either.


Girlie.
Intense.
Mobster.
Colorful.










Finally we winnowed down the selections. We took pictures of the top contenders and sent them to our daughter Kate for her opinion. Then, for fun, Jer began to try on sunglasses:


Sophia Loren?
Retro
About now the technician began giving us her input and I had this feeling that the selection process had dragged on too long and maybe we should leave so she could close for lunch.  

The decision was difficult but finally the group achieved consensus, the glasses were ordered and we went on our merry way.


Three days later, we were sitting together at dinner when Kate said, “Are those your new glasses, Dad? I like them.”

I looked up. I agreed. The temples had this interesting shape and were made of dark brushed metal. Very classy. “Me too,” I said. “Great choice.”

Jerry said, “No. These are still my old ones. I pick up the new pair tomorrow.”

My husband always has been on the cutting edge of fashion. It took me two years this time, but I finally caught up!



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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Beat the Heat!

When it's a hundred outside, how does this northern girl - a self-professed shade loving mammal - beat the heat?

(Of course we have air conditioning...which I keep at 80 degrees during the summer.   If I'm outside in über hot weather, going inside to 80 degrees feels wonderful.  Today I went wild and turned the a/c down to 79, but that's mostly for emotional reasons.

Usually one of the following tricks cools me down enough for me to be comfortable:

First, I get a bandanna wet and then wear it around my neck.  This serves a dual purpose.  It cools me, sure, and that's important. But I'm also in my sixties so any legitimate reason to cover my scary neck is a plus.

Next, I make myself a big glass of ice water, adding thinly sliced cucumbers and mint from the garden.  The floating mint and cukes don't make the water any colder, but the glass sure looks classy.  Presentation is everything!

While I'm in the kitchen, a quick trip to the freezer scores me a handful of frozen grapes.  (I also like frozen mango chunks.  Frozen chocolate covered raspberries are my very favorite, but they disappear immediately after I dip them.  They rarely even make it to the freezer, they are that awesome.)  Of course, ice cream would work too, but that goes without saying, right?

I take these icy snacks down to my basement where it's naturally cooler because it's underground.  Then I set up a box fan to blow air on me.  This is the summer equivalent to a space heater in the winter.  I only care about my immediate environment, not the entire house.   I also have a lovely handheld black feathered fan I can use.  It may be 80 degree air, but air in motion feels cooler to me.  

Usually those couple ideas are enough to make me feel comfortable, but some days when it's really, really humid, I might need to take my game to the next level.  

When this happens, I will plunge my feet into a dishpan that's filled with cool water.   This immediately cools me off.  My friend Elaine, who taught me this trick, calls this a "redneck swimming pool" but I jazz it up a little. By adding Epsom salts to the water, I can pretend I'm at a spa.  

Hydrotherapy also works in the form of a quick cold shower.  Style points to those who keep their hair wet.  Blow drying your hair in summer seems so wrong to me.

If you are not absolutely frigid after trying these suggestions, you can employ my number one secret weapon for beating the heat.  This will work, guaranteed! Drop everything and drive to the library.  Reading a magazine in the cool, cool library is a perfect thing to do in the heat of a Carolina summer day.  

Remember to take a sweater.  Oh, and save a seat for me.


www.StillSwimmingUpstream.com