GPS’s

FYI-My map picture would not download from my phone so just imagine it.  lol

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Today I am grateful for the GPS on my phone.  This little Ap has to be the greatest invention in modern times.  Okay, that might be an exaggeration because there have been so many inventions, but it sure is right up there.

 

Since I do most of the driving, I have to program our intended location before I even start.  Asking Himself to do it while we are on our way is an exercise in divorce.  “This damned thing doesn’t acknowledge my crooked fingers!” he’ll scream at me as I shut his window so he can’t throw it to the curb, still attached to the umbilical, pink charging cord.

 

“Just touch the X if you want that to go away,” I try not to watch because I’m driving, but man, I can’t tell you the times I’ve pulled over to do a few simple adjustments so we can get where we’re going.  I even got him a little stylus to keep in the car but now he can’t remember where he put it.

 

I should not complain because years ago, when he was the primary driver, he’d tell me to get the map out.  Oh boy.  Might as well tell me to multiply fractions or diagram a sentence.  I am probably the worst map reader in the universe.

 

“We want to go northeast on highway whatzitz,” he’d say to my blank look.

 

I’d have the map unfolded all over the dashboard trying to find highway whatzitz.  No way.  It all looks like spaghetti to me.

 

“No look,” he would shout, tapping his finger on the open map.  “It’s right there, over there, near the big dot which is the city we are going to.”

 

“We’re going there?” I’d feign stupidity, but was really not feigning.  He can still remind me how far we are from rest areas, waysides, bridges, tunnels, you name it.  The man has never forgotten where stuff is on road trips we’ve taken, no matter how long it’s been since we were there.  I forget once I’ve passed it.

 

The thing that drove him completely over the edge was when I’d have to turn around with the map in order to get my bearings.  Sent him right over the edge!  But where I grew up Lake Michigan was east, Green Bay was north, Milwaukee was south and Plymouth was west.  No gray area.  No weird angles on the map.  No northeast or southwest.  Simple.  So I’d have to turn myself and the map to not be confused.  Sort of, because I was still confused.

 

Looking back on it, I think that’s probably why I started driving.  He couldn’t read the map and drive at the same time and I was completely useless at reading a map.  He was my GPS before it ever existed, except GPS doesn’t swear at me, “Turn right, turn right, TURN RIGHT!  I said!  What in the #$%@%*&+ are you doing?!”

 

It was a happy day for me when I learned how to maneuver (sort of) GPS on my phone, except it still doesn’t feel familiar to me.  “At the nearest possible intersection, make a safe U-turn,” the car bitch says after I have gone off the grid.

 

As I continue to add my own ideas to her directions, she maintains her calm voice, telling me where to go and what to do.  It just doesn’t feel normal.  I need her to sound like a screaming husband with all of the colorful language involved and then end with. . .

 

“So you finally got here, you stupid idiot!  How in the Hell did that happen since you haven’t followed my directions since you left your bloody driveway!  Why in the billy-blue-hell did you even bother to put the directions in, you #$%@!?  If you had driven off that bridge you would have blamed me!  Do me a favor!  Buy a MAP, bitch!”

 

I’m waiting for the company that records those thingies to call me so I can add a little “color” commentary.  Even though I don’t always listen, I’m still grateful.  I’d be lost without GPS.  Wait, where am I?  And I’m supposed to be where?  Northeast what?  Blchhhhh!

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Cirque du Soleil

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Today I am grateful for Cirque du Soleil.  We have never seen a full-on show done by these amazing dancing acrobats, because frankly the ticket price is out of our budget, but we have now.  Wow!  The experience has left me achy and exhausted just from watching.  I might need traction.

 

A friend’s family member somehow got free tickets for them and because someone else could not make it, they asked us to go.  What an experience.  In a tent!  And I didn’t have to pack long underwear, or wake up in a rain soaked sleeping bag, or get enough mosquito bites to become a science experiment on malaria.

 

Since I’ve had some experience in the theater with lighting, set changes and the other logistics involved in creating the magic of a live production, I was in awe from the first moment I walked into the tent until I left.  I wanted to climb the catwalk and crawl into the pit and see just exactly how all of it worked.

 

The lighting was spectacular, with little winsome light fixtures dangling from the ceiling throughout the audience and tall fronds of light beams shooting up from all over the set.  There was a circular rigging high in the center of the ceiling which had cables that lowered and raised various performers throughout the night.  You never quite knew what was coming next, or from where.

 

A large tub of water with a Plexiglas lid, was pushed onto the stage several times and used as a landing zone for dancers and acrobats.  When it came out without the Plexiglas I was rapt with anticipation.  The amply endowed, liquid dancer, whose feet flipped around like graceful hands, slid in, then out of that pool, surfacing in one motion, flipping her long braids so that the droplets caught the light like runaway fireflies creating feather formations.  Amazing.  “Did you see her feet?” I said to Himself.  “She had feet?” he answered, with his tongue hanging out.  Men!

 

Then a pole was lowered from the rigging and a young, buff, gorgeous. . .oh hang on. . . I have to turn the hose on myself for a minute.  Whew.  There, I’m better.  Anyway, he was fabulous, crawling up that pole then dropping fast to within inches of the ground, then hand-over-handing himself back up again with ease, every muscle ripple caught in the exquisite lighting.  Oh my.

 

On a pole!  Then I thought of the terror I had in my high school Physical education class whenever the “apparatus” was brought into play.  My own personal nightmare was being forced to climb a pole.  You know how people say anyone can do anything they want to do if they just try hard enough?  Don’t believe it for a minute.  My teacher wanted me to climb that pole.  My friends wanted me to climb that pole.  I wanted to climb that pole. . . mostly to shut them all up.

 

I’d grab hold and pull like my life depended on it.  Nothing.  Just hung there like a dead fly on long glue strip paper, not going up, not putting my feet down.  “Pretend there is a fire under you and you have to climb that pole or you’ll die,” my teacher screamed.  Nope.  Nothing. I would burn like Hester!

 

So when that gorgeous specimen was climbing up and down with such ease, I forced myself to picture a fire burning under his tight ass, just to distract myself and make it seem more possible.  But he didn’t need a fire because he owned it. . .and he had “it”.

 

Every single performer was the best of the best.  There were a lot of bests.  Even the odd-couple, whose primary role was to offer amusement while set changes occurred, were great.  And those changes happened in the dark with the crew constructing equipment that could kill if it wasn’t placed correctly with only tiny pieces of glow tape to guide them, and skill.  A great deal of skill!

 

My favorite part was done in the hum of some musical notes, but mostly virtual silence, with one young woman picking up sticks of increasing size with her feet and balancing them on each other until she had a huge herringbone skeleton, which she balanced on the last, largest stick.  It must have taken fifteen minutes and if you checked the oxygen level of each audience member it would be low for all.   No one breathed.  No one.  Until she was done, when she first teased to audience gasps. . .then pulled out a small stick and the frame collapsed to the ground exactly as it looked in mid-air.  I mean, wow!  Thunderous cheering.

 

What training.  What dedication.  What incredible skill and raw talent.  From musician, to technicians, to lighting, to musicians the show was spectacular.  I was still talking to a cluster of people in the parking lot about how fantastic it was when we were getting in the car.  We laughed and joked about how now we all had to go home and take Arthritis strength Tylenol and a muscle relaxant.  They agreed.  “And oxygen,” one of them said.

 

As I was dodging cars that were also backing up, pulling forward, moving sideways, still joking with them and telling them to not move or I might mow them down, I said, “Look at me.  I’m doing Cirque du So-parking lot!  All I need is a tent and some lighting.  You can keep the pole.”  And their laughter was the best.

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Amusement Park Rides

'Who ever came up with the idea that throwing up is fun?'

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Today I am grateful for amusement park rides.  But you are not going to catch me on one.  Ever.  Not ever.  So don’t look for me dangling from a broken cable on a bungie ride that is supposed to fling you from the ground to the heavens in 10 seconds at a speed of a hundred miles an hour.  I get enough of a thrill maneuvering myself on an icy sidewalk, thank you very much.

 

I get it that a lot of people LOVE, LOVE, LOVE riding rollercoasters and all other manner of killing machines, but not me.  I’m a scaredy cat on the Tilt-o-Whirl.  Don’t get me near a Merry-go-Round, cuz this Mary will be puking-all-around.  I give motion sickness a new meaning.  Yes, sometimes just watching.

 

When my kids were little and I took them to the playground, plopped them on the little merry-go-round and gave them a strong push, I had to look away.  I’d glance every so often to be sure they hadn’t been flung into a tree, but then I’d have to look away again.

 

This queasy tummy stuff probably started when I was a kid.  My parents both smoked cigarettes.  Dad liked Camels and mom liked Belair Menthol.  One set of grandparents lived 50 miles away, so road trips were common.  Maybe only twice a year, but too often for me.

 

Mom would spray herself with Avon’s, To A Wild Rose perfume like she was exterminating an infestation of termites.  You could smell her from two miles away, like the tanning factory, sans the decaying animal odor.  She also had her hair “done” every week.  In order to make that helmet last, she’d spray it with layer after layer of Aqua Net aerosol hair spray.  Yuk.  And because of the complications of that hairdo we could never have the windows open or the wind would mess up her hair.  As if!  She could have been plunged into Lake Michigan and that hair wouldn’t have moved.

 

Take all of the above and jam it into an old car with small windows.  Throw me and my sister in the back seat where I can barely even see out of the window.  Then wait while the adults light up.  “Mom, I’m dying here from the smoke!” I’d whine as only I can.

 

“Oh be quiet!  There is not that much smoke!  I have the wing window open.  Sit back and shut up,” she’d say, and off we’d go, with me already green and ready to wretch before we left the driveway.

 

“I’m gonna puke,” I’d say, by the time we got to the two-lane highway a mile away.  “I’m really gonna puke!”

 

“Don’t think about it,” my mom would say.  What?  It’s all I can think about.  I can’t think about anything else except to wonder if perfume and hairspray and cigarettes can be considered toxic and a form of child abuse and if they are where would I go anyway?

 

“I’m trying,” I’d say three minutes later.  “But I’m really gonna barf!”  You can feel it coming and no amount of head games will stop it.

 

“Willie,” mom would shriek.  “Did you stick a Piggly Wiggly bag back there just in case?”  He’d say no and an argument would ensue over whose job it was to remember the Piggly Wiggly bag in case Mary barfed.  He’d tap-tap on the brake and the wafts of stench would wrap around my throat like a demons claw until finally it was too late and I’d barf all over the back seat.

 

Once the car was pulled over and the shouting about cleaning up the mess was in full force and my poor sister was trying to become one with the car door to get away from me and it, I felt better.  But not in the car.  Walking along the side of the highway.  I would have rather walked the 50 miles than be stuck in that deathtrap of a car.  Eventually I was given the front seat and my mom was in back.  I was allowed to have the window open a crack and stuck my nose out of it like a beagle and then everything was fine.

 

I thought I was over that motion sickness nonsense until I went on a fishing boat on the questionable Atlantic, off of Cape May.  It wasn’t pretty.  It was maybe four years ago and I was a total embarrassment to myself and my group.  Ugly doesn’t describe it. . .and I’m not going to describe it further.  Let’s just say that I would have paid anyone $2,000 to lift me OFF of that boat via helicopter and winch!  That’s a ride I would have gone on!

 

So all of you out there who love amusement park rides go ahead and have a great time being flung into the Twilight Zone without me.  I’ll be on the ground, looking away, with my fingers poised to hit 911.  Because I don’t do rides and if you are standing underneath one looking up, you can be grateful I don’t.

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Highway Construction Workers

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Today I am grateful for highway construction workers.  If you’re an avid follower of my missives, you might have noticed that I went silent for a few days.  Usually that’s because of the US/World news, which certainly comes into play.  Sometimes I need to tuck in so I don’t lash out.  But this time it’s because I am mentally and emotionally dealing with issues surrounding my 92 year old, miserably unhappy mom.  Yeah, not going there, though.  I’ll cope and spare you.   Back to topic.

 

On my way to the YMCA at least three days a week, I go through/past/under a construction zone.  Pennsylvania is revising the turnpike which requires that all of the many, many small roads that it passes over, with their small bridges, have to be revamped and widened.  It is not a huge job.

 

Because we live at the first exit of the Northeast Extension of the turnpike, we have gotten to “enjoy” this reconstruction going both ways.  Whoopee.  It’s massive!  The road going south is done, but not north.  I think of my dad, Willie, who taught me to drive by taking me out to the new highway construction in my hometown.  It was not very far from our house and I’d drive.  Then we’d stand and watch the heavy earth moving equipment, yellow backhoes, green front end loaders and tons of dump trucks regurgitating their loads.   He’d offer sidewalk-supervisor suggestions to any guys who dared get close.   We’d stand around.  He’d kibbutz and joke and tease, lusting after the big machinery like every once-farm boy would.  Then I’d drive home.  Probably 10 minutes of actual driving in an hour long trip.  Every day when he got home from work we’d “go for a drive” and soon the crew started waving and shouting, “Hey, Willie,” before he even got out of the car.

 

That memory is my disclaimer for wanting to take the turnpike when we head north rather than back roads.  Like Willie.  It’s genetic.  I see the guys on the ground level driving big diggers and moving more earth than God makes, but I rarely see what’s happening up top.  It’s a lot.  And it’s my tax dollars so I have an investment in this project.  And I’m nosy!  Very nosy!

 

The “Stop” and “Slow” people stand in the blazing sun, with heat indexes in the hundreds all day long.  I can’t stand in one spot for twenty minutes without every muscle in my bode seizing up like an old ironing board.  And in the heat, fugetaboutit!

 

I’ve watched guys in orange vests try to climb the mud hill in torrential rains, slip down, then forge ahead.  “I have no clue how something like this is constructed,” I said to Himself one day as we drove past the gigantic crane that was moving beams across the road and gently laying them down on the other side.  “How do you even begin to learn how to do this?”  He gave me an answer about engineering and mechanics and physics and dirt and education and blah, blah, blah but I didn’t listen.  It was a rhetorical question that didn’t need an answer.  But I still don’t get it.  Maybe I should have listened.

 

It’s not just the deconstruction/reconstruction part that amazes me.  It’s the day-to-day business of standing out in the blasted weather.  Extreme heat!  High winds!  Torrential rain!  They are there.  Stopped as I waited for oncoming traffic to go past, sitting in my car with the air conditioning on full-blast-tundra, I saw a guy climbing up a ridged, steel wall like it was nothing.  Then he hung there welding something or other, never slipping, even though the sweat balls were rolling off his arms leaving dirt rivulets in their wake and the trucks moving above him were stirring up more dust in his face than behind my fridge!

 

I’ve seen seven guys at lunch, all clustered in six-square-feet of shade from a dump truck, standing there while they wolfed down sandwiches and guzzled Gatorade, with traffic sliding past slowly, trying not to cause any more than the unavoidable clouds of dust.  Not much of a break for them.  Who are these people?  They are Super Heroes, that’s who!

 

I have no clue how long this highway construction project will take.  It’s already taken forever, so longer than that.  But I have decided that when my mom starts to complain about minor stuff that really doesn’t matter, I’m going to tell her about them.  Every time.  Because I am so grateful there is someone to do that job. . .and more grateful that it isn’t me!

 

(FYI-All pictures, fuzzy as they are, were taken while stopped, just so my friends don’t start hollering at me again about snapping-while-driving.:)

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Tortes

a torte board

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Today I am grateful for tortes.  Not torts, which are legal things I couldn’t care less about, but tortes, the desserts made with crumbs, gooey stuff and whipped cream, which I grew up with.  Sadly. . . and happily.  Yeah, it explains a lot.

 

Someone else posted this list on Facebook, of high calorie, absolutely delicious weight watchers nightmares from Gosse’s, a great Sheboygan restaurant.  Look, I know I have food issues.  No, duh!  You can’t deny it when you wake up to go potty in the middle of the night and find your mind wandering to everything you want to eat the next day.  Issues. Or when you dream of the most delightful food, hot and savory invades, wafting odors and all.  Issues.  Big time.

 

So it’s no surprise to me that since I saw this posted I have not thought of much else besides those damned tortes.  My friends from Pennsylvania, where I now live, have asked me what could possibly be in some of them.  They don’t understand Sheboygan, so I’m going to take a wild guess and list what I think they are comprised of and how.

 

First it’s important you understand that tortes are layered, with a crust at the bottom and topped with whipped cream, albeit probably cool whip in this case, which is already intriguing, not to mention high caloric.  Second I guarantee that if you took only one forkful of each of these you would use up WW points for two or three days.  At least.  Remember these are not recipes.  I’m going on taste-bud memory here and guessing.  Grab a cup of coffee, because I promise you will want a pastry of some kind when you’re done reading.  Sorry.

 

  1. Poppyseed = a graham cracker crust, vanilla pudding mixed with poppyseeds, cool whip topping with more graham cracker crumbs sprinkled on top.
  2. Brownie Delight = chocolate cookie crust, chocolate pudding mixed with pieces of brownie and cream cheese, cool whip and more crumbs.
  3. Drumstick = a sugar cone/graham cracker crust, vanilla ice cream mixed with pudding, peanuts, chunks of chocolate ganache, cool whip and crumbs of peanuts, cone, chocolate on top.
  4. Reeses Peanut Butter = graham cracker crust, probably a layer of cream cheese and peanut butter, crushed peanut butter cups mixed in vanilla pudding, , then cool whip with more crumbs and cups on top.
  5. Turtle = chocolate cookie or graham cracker crust, caramel cream cheese layer, bits of chocolate and caramel swirled in pudding, cool whip with crushed candies on top.
  6. Cherry Cheese = probably a layered cheesecake with cherries. Pretty benign.
  7. Peanut Square = I will have to explain what a peanut square even is to most people, but they are a staple in Sheboygan. You take a 3 inch square of white cake, smear buttercream icing around the whole thing, then roll it in chopped, salted peanuts.  Absolutely delicious!  Now picture that assembled in a torte and covered in cool whip.
  8. Rhubarb = vanilla cookie crust, a mixture of cream cheese and sugar, chopped rhubarb cooked with cornstarch to thicken and sugar, then mixed in some vanilla pudding with cool whip topping.
  9. Heath Bar = chocolate cookie crust, a layer of cream cheese, sugar and mixed crushed heath bars, pudding with more heath bars, cool whip topping.
  10. Butterfinger = Same as the heath bar only with Butterfinger candy bars.
  11. Pistachio = graham cracker crust, cream cheese/sugar layer, pistachio pudding, cool whip topping.
  12. Oreo = I actually used to make this and now Himself wants one. . .after he gets the okay on his diabetes. Crushed Oreo cookies for the crust, a cream cheese/sugar layer, chocolate pudding, cool whip and more crushed Oreos for the topping.
  13. Banana Cream = graham cracker crust, cream cheese/sugar layer, banana pudding with chunks of banana mixed in, cool whip topping and more crumbs.
  14. Carmel Apple = vanilla cookie crust, cream cheese/sugar layer, full layer of caramel spread over the top, cooked & thickened apples mixed with vanilla pudding, cool whip topping drizzled with caramel.
  15. Raspberry Cheese =probably just like a regular cheese cake.
  16. Chocolate Éclair = graham cracker crust, custard pudding, chocolate sauce, cool whip topping.

 

Whew!  I think I gained ten pounds just writing all of that.  But there you have it. . .a high caloric look into the culture that made me.  All of me!  Swell.  Maybe they will now be exorcised from my brain.  Enjoy your treat.  I hope it’s a torte.

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Teaching What I know

a cole jumping in pool

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Today I am grateful for teaching what I know.  If you spend any time around kids, you are a teacher whether you know it or not.  Any engagement with a child can be a teachable moment if you look at it that way.  And also fun.  Let’s not forget about fun.

 

This is my third summer teaching a friends grandson to swim in her backyard pool.  The first year was dicey.  He could not touch the bottom and hated putting his face in, not to mention his ears.  He would shake his head like a beagle in a sprinkler every time he came up out of the water.  By the end of the summer we had made progress.   Most of all he didn’t hate my guts, which can happen when you are teaching someone and they get frustrated.

 

The second summer he was able to swim after a fashion, making it all the way to the other end of the pool, albeit with a few gasps and looks of angry panic on the way as I shouted encouragement for him to keep going.  We never know how far we can go until we try.  In anything.  Swimming is no different.  He was able to float on his back and was blowing bubbles instead of holding his breath.

 

I taught him important safety measures that I had learned from an amazing lifeguard who was my mentor when I first started officially teaching kids to swim at the Indian Valley YMCA.  “Jump in, turn, and swim back to the side,” I told him.  He didn’t see the point until one of our final lessons last year when I did not warn him and bumped him in the pool as I was walking past.  He was shocked!  He sank, popped up, turned, and swam to the side, just as I had taught him!

 

Perfect.  Then I explained to him that accidents can happen and when they do panic can set in.  The natural instinct is to keep going straight ahead, but that’s the wrong choice because you could tire out before you get to the other side.  And if it’s a boat you fell out of the other side could be very far away!  Like Canada!  Or Europe!  He passed the test.

 

This year?  Oh my, this year has been phenomenal!  I’ve had to up my teaching game big time.  I figure I can teach him for one more year and then he’ll be beyond my skill set.  He’s doing a great job with rotating breathing, although sometimes he saves a little too much air then struggles to get more in when he turns his head for a breath.  His fingers still want to be stubborn and fan out, but he’s working on it.  His arms are straight and strong and most of the time he bends the elbow at the correct time, when he’s taking a breath.  I leave the lesson feeling so proud and invigorated.

 

I bought some diving sharks for my granddaughter and brought them along.  They were a hit.  Soon he was going down for all four of them at one time.  Amazing.  Then I told him about the dead man’s float, a term I hate, but he loved.  All boy!  He did it in seconds, relaxing like I had not yet seen him do.

 

I figured it was time for a for real backstroke and have a pretty decent backstroke so I demonstrated.  BAM!  He did it.  He still needs to work on gaining flexibility in his shoulders, but that’s because he’s a bit muscle bound there. . .built like his dad.  He’ll get there.

 

I confess I was searching for new things to keep him engaged, so I had him stand on a step and try doing a forward summersault in the water.  He was wonky for a few weeks, tipping to the side or not getting over at all and just thinking he did while he was still on the surface.  So I pressed his belly up with one hand and pushed his head down with the other.  Around he went, but he still didn’t go very straight, so we worked on it.

 

Realizing that he and I are both visual learners, I held two noodles about two feet apart in front of him and told him to stay between them when he rolls.  He did.  First time.  I was so excited!  So was he.  Then I said, “Now do it from the bottom step.  It’ll be harder, but I know you can do it.”  So he did.  More excitement.  This was turning into an amazing lesson.

 

“Okay,” I said.  “I know you can do the dead man’s float so I want you to do that and then tuck into a forward summersault.”  Nope.  Didn’t happen.   I had him try again and really watched closely with my goggles on, under the water.  Aha!  I saw the problem.  “Your head goes back and you bend your neck backwards.  You need to look past your feet under the water, pushing your head forward before you tuck.  Your head will lead the way and your body will follow.”  At least I hoped so.  I honestly had no clue if it would work, but because I’m a buoy and can’t do this myself, it was all I had.

 

He took a couple of deep breaths, like I taught him.  He did the dead man’s float, like I taught him.  When I said, “Roll!” he tucked his head and pulled his body in like a bowling ball and spun around perfectly straight and fast.  Brilliant!  We were ecstatic!  I grabbed him and started jumping in the pool holding him and chanting, “I’m so proud of you!  I’m so proud of you!  I’m so proud of you!”  His mom-mom was laughing right along with us.

 

But the lesson wasn’t over.  “Four laps without stopping,” I said.  “Any stroke.  Touch at the end, but don’t stop.”  He was not thrilled and gave me a death stare evil-eye by the last lap, but he did it.  “Now tread water for one minute.  I’ll count to 60.”  Also not thrilled, but he did it.  “You have now passed a swim test at any pool,” I said, and he was shocked.  “That means you could go off a diving board, down a slide, or be in the deep pool.”  Wow.

 

But I’m tough and he was in a strong learning curve so with mom-mom’s permission I extended the lesson a little. “I’d like to try something,” I said, dragging him to the middle of the pool.  “When I say go, take a deep breath and swim, with the rotating breathing to the side, long arms, strong leg kicks.  Before you get to the side go into a dead man’s float.  Then do a forward summersault in front of the side.”  I had to help a few times but then BAM!  He nailed it.  “Now when you go over push your feet on the wall and start swimming back the other way.”  He did.  Like a seal showing off for a crowd!

 

I had goose flesh from excitement.  He had done a pretty decent swimmers turn. . . a move I have never been able to master.  We still have a few more lessons this summer, so we can review all he’s learned.  I’m fairly certain that I do not do the breast stroke properly because I think my timing between legs and arms is wrong, so I won’t teach him that.  I’d rather he not learn it than learn it wrong.

 

As so many teachers are full of excitement facing a new school year, I want them to know I get it.  When THEY get it. . .their students. . . there is no feeling like it in the world!  Soon my young swimmer will pass the teacher and I will have taught him all I know about swimming.  That is wonderful.  More than wonderful.  And a little sad, too.  But only a little.  I’m so proud of him!

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Comradery

a bathing beauty at pool pic

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Today I am grateful for comradery, which is great anywhere, but in this case I mean at the YMCA.  I convinced myself that I joined the Y for exercise and to help me lose weight, but I’ve learned that was only a small part of what I’ve gotten from the experience. I have built a whole new base of friends.  My tribe.

 

Frequently I hear stories about older people who are lonely, but don’t want to leave their houses for numerous reasons.  Maybe many of their friends have moved to assisted living facilities or even died.  Maybe they have physical limitations and a loss of energy.  They feel lonely despair so they stay home, which makes them feel even worse.  And that makes me sad, because it doesn’t have to be that way.

 

There is a community waiting for you at the YMCA.  And I’m not talking about just my local Y’s, either, I’m talking nationwide.  When I was in both Sheboygan and Madison, Wisconsin I hooked up with water exercise groups that welcomed me just like my own.

 

Most women hate their bodies so I can just about hear the shouts out there. . . “Water aerobics?  I am NOT getting into a swimming suit because I’m too fat!”  Well guess what?  So am I!  No one cares.  Seriously.  No one.  Get over it.  These days you can go on line to find a suit that will fit you and if you can’t walk into any locker room and six people will help you.  If you can’t handle a locker room with old naked ladies, with all of the sags and bags that rightfully implies, then there are private/family rooms available for you.  Modesty is okay.  So is standing on the scale buck-ass-naked.  Again.  No one cares what you look like.

 

But if the water is not for you, there is pickle ball.  Personally I don’t see the attraction, but those who play are fanatics and love the sport.  I’ve never heard of anyone being turned away because they didn’t know anyone, but with anything that is competitive I would ease into it and not come on too strong.

 

If your balance and coordination are in question you can show up for a Silver Sneakers class, which is done with a chair close at hand.  Sit or stand whenever you want to while doing low-impact exercises to music with lyrics you can understand.  It’s fun.  You’re too old?  Hah!  Ages range from 50’s to 96.  People rehabbing knees or using walkers come to this class.  Some are brought by home healthcare workers.  Any movement is better than no movement.  But the human contact and friendships made there are worth much more than a better heart rate.

 

There’s senior Zumba, a walking class, the fitness center, and a billion other ways to become involved physically and socially.  Still not sure?  Pick up a brochure and look for a bus trip you would like and try that on for size.  We went to West Point a few years ago and it was amazing and didn’t break the bank.

 

Your joints hurt?  You have mobility issues?  You hate exercise.  Join the club.  Seriously, join the club.  The YMCA!  Because I swear none of us love it to death. . .although with water classes I’m close.  The getting dressed after is a pain and I call it the most strenuous aerobic activity of the morning.  So we laugh.  And we joke.  And we care.

 

When we lose a member we might not all know her/his name, but she was the “lady who made the great hats” or he was “the guy who always smiled at the side desk”. . .and we care.  When they lose someone from the walking class, we care.  When one of us waves while being taken out on a gurney after suffering a stroke, we care.

 

At after aerobics coffee, we solve the problems of the world.  Or we cry over someone’s problems, or we tease someone about their directions to a restaurant, or we pick up on stupid things like the fact that someone read that sniffing Rosemary (the herb) is supposed to be calming and someone else says, “But what if Rosemary doesn’t want to be sniffed?”  And we belly laugh, until tears run down our wrinkles!  There are cards, words of encouragement, visits to hospitals, offers of meals and other services needed in times of struggle.  As different as we are, our one common denominator is the YMCA.

 

You don’t see your family much?  That’s just the way it is for some of us. But you don’t have to be alone.  Or lonely.  Build another family.  There are special people out there at a YMCA close to you, just waiting to include you.   All you have to do is make a move, call them and then check it out.  Who knows?  Maybe you’ll discover, like I did, that comradery is the best exercise.

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