Saturday, December 25, 2010

Going South

(This is a for real story....Toby.....I hope you're reading handsome devil you!  This was when we were in Temple and I decided I needed to do this and it worked amazingly well until Monty woke up one day with cancer and everything really did go south on this plan anyway.....I have a LOT of funny stories about this personal trainer episode of my life, most not printable, but a hoot....this guy wouldn't let me get away with anything....his hunkness kept me from hurting him. This is our first meeting. It was not love at first site......)

Going South
     The first of the year is always depressing.  For two months every magazine displayed holiday meals and desserts with clever, subtle promises of no weight gain.  Pictures portrayed mouth-watering fare, pleasing to the eye, artfully camouflaging every calorie.  Then all of a sudden, ads start to flow in abundance for weight loss programs.  Gyms guaranteeing a body-to-die-for with a resounding - ‘just join now and start the new year right!’
     In one of those low moments of self awareness, I did the unthinkable.  I critically examined myself sans clothing in front of a full length mirror.  Oh my.  Everything had gone south.  Literally.  Those love handles overnight had mutated to rolls of cottage cheese!
      I made a decision.  I would join a gym.  Tomorrow.
      Funny how one day having a personal trainer sounded great. The next day I found myself rethinking the heroic delusion of grandeur, as I watched a hunk, about the same age as my son,  walk--no, saunter--towards me, and realized he faintly resembled a heavily muscled action figure from my grandson's toy collection. 
     Yes, I was a relic in the making.  This sober knowledge hit in its entirety when the mass of brawn smiled, showing his perfect pearly whites--some people really do have it all--asking in a rakish voice, “And what are we doing here?”
     “We?”  My voice squeaked much like an overgrown mouse who’d just lost its cheese.  Quickly regaining control, I arched my eyebrow, hoping my stern don’t-you-make-fun-of-me-young-man look was totally in place.
     “I think it should be more than obvious why I’m here.  I am mid-fifties with everything going downhill on my body faster than I can drive!”  I knew right away I was in trouble when my breath caught delivering the indignant reply.
      Pearly whites provocatively agleam, he gently assured me that after he measured me, put me on a good diet, and exercise regimen, I’d be buff.
     Buff?  Did he mean naked?  Did he say measure me? I began to sputter in earnest.  
     “You don’t understand.  I don’t do buff.  I don’t do spandex.  I don’t do thongs.”  Sighing deeply, I added, “Oh, and I don’t like to sweat.”
     “Calm down, ma’am.”
      Ma’am?  I began to hyperventilate.  This wasn’t what I had envisioned.  I was supposed to walk in and a miracle would happen.  My thighs would disappear while exercising gracefully in baggy sweats–barring sweat, of course.  There would be no measuring, no buff, no--
     “Excuse me, what did you say about bon bons?”  I demanded as his words broke through my already exerted thoughts.
     I finally recognized this first impression hunk, quickly becoming a demon of torment and pain, was actually laughing at me.  “Do you want to be one of those ladies who watch soap operas from the couch while eating bon bons?”   
     Could he not tell I was a Snickers woman?  Did he actually state I would learn to love sweating?  Surely my overworked brain heard incorrectly.  The gym, workouts, and a handsome personal trainer were making my brain sweat.  I began to reexamine my love handles.  Maybe they weren’t so bad after all.
     As I followed the well-built figure of physical fitness on a tour, I couldn’t help but be a bit dubious of some of the so-called exercise machines.  How on earth could one get themselves into these contraptions, I wondered.            
     “You what?  You want me to get in that, that...thing?”  I asked in a pitiful ‘oh-please-not-today’ voice.
     Pearly whites evenly glowed over encouraging words of reassurance.
     I did what I knew couldn’t be done.  The impossible.  I wadded my not-so-flexible torso into an extremely awkward and contorted position inside the apparatus while this specimen of a man proceeded with his tutelage of torture.
     My first encounter with a personal trainer changed me forever.
     I learned from this experience.
     I am too old to be a pretzel.
     Pass the bon bons.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Martha Stewart Where ARE YOU?????

(This happened before we left for Phoenix to see Jenny and after Thanksgiving about 3 years ago)......

A Dollar’s Worth
By Alisa Dollar

I was reading last week’s paper and saw a headline “Kitchen Fire…..” and stopped cold before reading the rest. I still haven’t read, but must to make sure everyone is fine.

About three years ago, I decided in late fall to fry some okra I’d put in the freezer. Now mind you, it did not come from Mac’s absolutely wonderful farmer’s market. I still can’t believe all the choices of fresh vegetables and fruit he had when I went there with Kathryn. 

My okra came from the grocery and was farm grown (I supposed everything is, but this was ‘fresh fresh’). I always buy okra and peas when I can.

I’d put this in the freezer ready to fry….sliced with healthy doses of cornmeal shaken about evenly.

It was close to Thanksgiving and I decided one Saturday we needed to have fried okra and almost, but not quite fresh tomatoes. Here again, they were hot house but not near like Mac had.

I put canola oil in the pan (one must be healthy while frying, right?) and did the most irresponsible thing I can think of for that moment. Or that’s what husband said anyway.

I went to check my email. And yes, I forgot the oil I’d left on the burner to ready for the okra.

I heard husband yelling before I heard the fire alarm. I ran into the kitchen and there was smoke everywhere!

Husband had turned the burner off, but with electric that doesn’t do much. I thought he was telling me to take it outside.

My brain only works in emergencies involving the dog and my kids. I knew I was in trouble with husband and I knew I was wrong to not have stood there watching the stupid oil get ready.

In my eagerness to please (no laughing please) I picked up the pan and ran to the front door pouring hot grease here and there over carpet and myself.

When I got outside I wondered what I was supposed to do with it when husband ran out with a horrified look. He’d put the fire out he’d started trying to grab the pan with a kitchen towel and ran after me.

After ER, new kitchen and living room flooring, that was the most expensive okra I’d never eaten.

I got a fry daddy too.

Just in case.

Monday, December 20, 2010

For those last minute shoppers!

I wrote this one last year:

A Dollar’s Worth
By Alisa Dollar

If I hear “only x amount of days left till Christmas” again, I’m going to scream!  It’s a frantic “I haven’t gotten all my fill-in-the-blank” done yet!”  The shopping hustle and bustle is interesting to watch.  I wish my bustle was in gear.  I’m a “wait-till-the-last-minute” shopper.
Shoppers try to talk over, around, and through children when deciding what to buy, while kids appear to be distracted but with an eager ear directed expertly toward whispering voices.  To really annoy, they turn quickly only to see parents go into an undiscovered form of sign language.  I’ve always wondered why kids don’t just point to the desired object and say, “Wow, isn’t that one neat?”  They could watch mom and dad either sigh with relief they were correct in their choice or frown because it won’t be a secret.
The games we play at this time of year.
Husband particularly irritates me.  First, he can always guess what’s in a package.  I used to be convinced he paid one of the kids to tell him.  Since they’ve left, he still does it.  I’ve looked everywhere for a little x-ray gadget, but haven’t found one yet.
Secondly, he knows I can’t stand a wrapped package with my name on it.  I shake, rattle, roll, smell, listen (just in case it’s ticking) and guess a lot.  To no avail, he’s a “Christmas morning and not one day before” opener.  Easy for him since he guessed his!
I read the end of a book first.  I know it’s a bad habit.  My theory is if it is a good ending I have something to look forward to.  If a bad ending, I have to know why.  That’s my reason and I’m sticking to it!  One year I’d been waiting for a book by a certain author I enjoy and was surprised that he even knew about her much less this book. I was so happy to open the gift until I found the last chapter missing!   A note was attached to see husband.  Needless to say, I wasn’t as appreciative as I probably should’ve been.  What a mean thing to do!
Memories are often swept under the carpet to fly out with the dust bunnies after all the hoopla’s over, but if one sits to ponder events that took place in their lives with family and friends makes shopping more fun at Christmas. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Year the Wise Men Lost Their Heads

(I wrote this when Elizabeth was 18 months old....she celebrated her 15th birthday this past July. I think about this every year at this time).

        My excitement at the first Christmas with my grandchild overrode my common sense.  As I busily decorated, my husband asked, "Don't you think you need to leave some of that in the boxes?"  Arrogant and impatient, I answered snippily, "Why would I want to do that?"  As if on cue, the expected answer, "Elizabeth is only 18 months old; you can't expect her to leave the decorations alone."
            What?  Of course I expected her to leave the decorations alone.   Hadn't ours learned to leave them alone?  Visions danced through my head of a perfect little grandchild, much like her mother and uncle had been, who would mind, respect and leave the Christmas decorations alone.
            Little did I know this doll-like, angelic, less than 2 foot, blue-eyed little person would have her Nana's number.  Big time!
            "No!  Elizabeth, " I exclaimed, as I rushed behind her taking Christmas odds and ends out of her little hands.  Lord, I thought, not for the first time, did her mother have this much energy when she was 18 months old?  Realizing it was Nana who didn't have the same energy, I patiently explained the rules in Nana's house.  Do not touch the Christmas decorations.
            To say I enjoyed this Christmas would be a tiny lie.  Oh, I loved having my children home.  My son had been away teaching, and my daughter had lived out-of-state since her marriage.  The house brimmed with laughter and love, the recapturing of memories, the creation of new ones, one of which was Elizabeth, Nana, and the Christmas decorations.
            On several occasions, I caught my husband laughing at me.  Not grinning-- laughing.  In our house, everyone knew, Christmas decorations were to look at, not touch, push, drag, or slide.  Even friends knew this instinctively most likely from the gasps of breath if a hand went toward a particularly breakable piece.  Did it really matter?  Why now, after so many successful Christmas seasons, was my obsession going to hell in a hand basket--or, perhaps better stated, to the floor with a swoop of an 18-month-old hand?
            To cover my impatience, I cajoled. . .I bribed. . .okay, yes. . .I took Elizabeth to Walmart to buy her own decorations.  Nothing worked.  The beautiful setting around my "big people" nativity scene became disintegrated when bright red connected beads were jerked off.  Baby Jesus scooted to the very edge of the table, precariously hovering on the brink of disaster.  The wise men had fallen back into the cotton snow so artfully patterned between them.  Their unstable positions were no less dubious than mine.  The beads had been placed precisely, so the appealing motif captured minds while viewing my work of art.  The beads did look pretty around Elizabeth's little neck, though.
            It became apparent to me Elizabeth was enamored with the "little people" nativity scene, a child's rendition of the birth of Jesus.  Eye level to my little angel, she would stand in awe, putting her chubby little index finger on the crib, saying "Dis iz Bebby Desuz, and diz is de mommie, and diz iz de daddy."  Maybe it was a mistake to clap our hands in joy because this child appeared to be the smartest child known to
date.  I watched in amazement each time we went through this routine, the wise men were ignored.  Patiently, I explained about the wise men and how they were led by a star to the Baby Jesus, but Elizabeth's attention span ran to play with the doggie.
            Feeling somewhat sure my decorations were finally safe, I settled in to enjoy the holiday only to hear Elizabeth and Freckles, our border collie, running up and down the hallway.  Elizabeth shrieked and Freckles barked.  During one of the minute run-by's, I saw "little people" wise men tightly ensconced in tiny little fingers.  Not knowing I could get out of a rocker so quickly, I ran and rescued the wise men, telling Elizabeth one more time to play with her decorations, not Nana's.
            Time flew so quickly, with just hours away from airport delivery.  Something caught my eye--Elizabeth standing in the archway to the living room holding the "little people" wise men in her hands.  As she raised them high into the air to show her prizes to Nana with hope she could get by with having them, heads clicked together.  Wise men's heads toppled in unison to the floor.
            Elizabeth's eyes widened.  My eyes widened.  In the split second we stared at each other, so many thoughts raced, wrecked, and healed within my heart.  Tears welled in her eyes as I walked and kneeled beside her.  In her fear, and with a child's limited understanding, she placed the bodies in my hands and spoke her name the best she could, "Bibbabeth boke.  I sawwy, Nana."
            I laid the bodies down in the middle of heads gone askew.  I hugged her tiny body close to mine and as those chubby arms circled my neck, I knew I had to teach this little one in a different way than I had my own.  After all, I only had her at short intervals.
            We gathered bodies and heads and took them to the dining room table.  I sat her on the table, and with glue in hand, we put the wise men back together again--all the while, Nana explaining to Elizabeth the valuable lesson learned this Christmas.  I felt good about what I had learned.  Material things, even the destruction and repair of the precious wise men, were not worth the loss of love and happiness that flowed throughout our home.  I somehow knew Elizabeth learned something. 
            Looking up, I saw glue in her baby-fine blonde hair and across her new Christmas dress.  Her index finger balanced a big dollop delicately on the edge; blue eyes mesmerized by the wondering look of “I'll bet this would really taste good."  I sighed as I smiled and touched my hand to her cheek.  Her eyes moved to mine, bestowing the most beautiful, unconditional loving smile.
            My tears finally came.  I silently thanked God for this lovely child, the true meaning of Christmas. . .and washable glue.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Applying Makeup-------

A Dollar’s Worth
By Alisa Dollar

I was putting on my face (that’s what husband calls it) this morning after nearly a week of sporting my real face during Spring Break.

I looked in the mirror and groaned. I asked myself why I do this for work and not at home around husband and dog.

The answer is simple.

One, they love me unconditionally; even without my “face.”

Two, I didn’t want to scare the people at work.

As I put on my base (that is girl-speak for try to get even color tone but better than your real tone), I smeared on one side then the other, then across the chin and lastly, the forehead.

In other words, makeup splotched all over my face like a really bad Picasso.

I remember having one of those home makeup parties. Husband had to be smart mouth and ask what we had to make up, had we been having catfights. Men.

I’d had my first knee replacement so I hobbled around watching how everyone applied base.

Bree splats and rubs. Prof dot dot dots on each cheek and gently blends. Another put hers on both hands and used both hands to rub (not gently) on her face. I couldn’t help but wonder how she washed it all off her face.

Others were the basic plop and smear and hope it’s not streaked, like me.

The eyes were a much harder task. I found myself holding my mouth just right like each of them to get that line straight across the eyelid. There is an art to getting it straight. It’s the mouth. It has to be scrunched up over to the side mascara and eyeliner are being applied.

Don’t ask me why. It’s pretty much universal.

I don’t wear lipstick, so it was lots of fun watching others. The splats and rubs followed suit, as did the dot dot dots and the plop and smear. Even both hands applied with as much vigor as she did the rest of her face.

The universal lipstick trick is to make a taut “O” with your mouth. Why? Who knows, but it must work.

Blots are different. There’s the blot blot blot. The blot and quit. And my favorite, the blot and wipe.

As anyone can see, putting on a face is no easy task!

Men don’t appreciate what we women go through to look presentable to them.

Women know.

It’s universal.