I Can Relate to the Newly Convicted and an Addict.

My stomach is in turmoil.

It is going to happen tomorrow?

Do I really have to do it?

What happens if I don’t?

All day today I have been thinking about how I can relate to a newly convicted prisoner going to prison.  Her  life will be so restricted and much too structured.  Even before she goes in she thinks about escaping.

The addict wants to go to rehab, but she doesn’t want to go.

She doesn’t want to give up the things that make her feel better–even if it is only for a short time.

She starts rocking in her chair, hoping that this is a nightmare and she will wake up and she will continue to take what makes her happy.

Yes, I can relate because tomorrow I am starting a new diet.

Di–ets, are painful, restrictive, and make you a little crazy.

Like the addict, I have done this countless times before.

Yes, I relapsed and relapsed badly.

I want to feel better.  I want to be able to move easier. I want to be able to exercise every day without soaking my aching knees in Epsom salts for three hours. I want to stop buying big clothes.

I DON’T WANT TO GIVE UP CHOCOLATE!!!!!!!!!

I don’t drink.  I don’t do drugs. I am very well behaved in most situations.

But I do, do chocolate.

Of course the new diet I am starting does not include chocolate.

It has vegetables, vegetables, vegetables,  vegetables and a few more vegetables.  Not much fruit (I love fruit).

I can eat chicken and eggs and chicken and eggs and chicken and eggs all day long. Oh, I can throw in a little red meat and a little more fish, too.

NO CHOCOLATE!

My weekend treat is a 1/2 cup of brown rice and a piece of fruit.

NO  CHOCOLATE!

I made the first step in my journey.  I admitted I have to lose weight–I have been admitting this for a long time.

I set up my environment for success.  I went to the grocery story and the only things in the refrigerator are vegetables.

Before I go to bed I will make the big sacrifice to finish off whatever chocolate is in the house.

Tomorrow–I think I will sleep in so I won’t have so many hours to go through without carbs and chocolate.

Tomorrow will come all too soon.

Good-bye chocolate! I will never forget you!

 

 

Will Books Be As Obsolete As a Rotary Phone?

 

I walked into a bank last week and while waiting to speak to the accounts person, I sat in the conformable chair facing a bookshelf of books.

But it was not a bookshelf of books.  It was a PICTURE of a bookshelf of books.

It made me think that a lot has come and gone over the past 60 years.

You cannot find a typewriter, except in antique shops.

 

 

 

Anyone born after 1970, most probably, has never heard of a slide rule.  And for sure, they never used one.

 

 

 

The  rotary phone–you know–the kind that you have to dial is now considered a novelty.  My daughter has this one in her room as a “dope” (i.e. cool) decoration.

When we use the phrase “dial a number,” someone from my generation knows what it means to actually put a finger in the little hole and turn the dial until it reaches the concave finger stop.

There is nothing to “dial”, as in moving in a circular motion, on a cell phone or a push button phone!

Push button phones came out in November 1963 and Bell had to convince customers it was better and faster.

By 1980, almost all phones in homes and offices were push button.

The phrase, “dial the number” is an antiquated term.  I wonder how long it will be before that term is as obsolete as the rotary phone.

Back to my picture of the bookshelf of books.

Will future generations only know about books from paintings or pictures that are hanging on the wall?

Will you only be able to find them in antique shops, or will children only know about them from stories handed down from generation to generation?  Will they be a “dope” decoration in a room?

Will the real meaning of the term “turn the page” be a term that is as vague and unknown as “dial the number?”

I was just wondering because the flat screen television above the picture was real and working just fine.

 

 

Daughters Chit Chat, Sons Grunt

Spending time with your grown children gives you insight into their lives and personalities.

 

My daughters and I chit chat when we are together.  We chatter about the kids, how busy we are, and how we hate grocery shopping.

We prattle, babble, rattle on and blather–I guess I am the one who blathers–about anything and everything.  We are interested in each other’s lives, needs, goals, dreams, trials and tribulations.

However, sitting in a room with my son is an entirely different experience.

It is silent! Pure uninterrupted silence.

When someone is in the same room with me and we are absolutely quiet, I suffer extreme pain.  My ears ache hoping to hear some sounds, some voices, or even a ticking clock.  Digital clocks don’t tick.

 

When my son does speak, it is usually a grunt, a grumble, a mumble, a groan, a sigh or worse, I get the look.  The look says all the above, but with extreme sarcasm.

He mumbles a quick answer about who is playing in the game–I really don’t care–I just want to hear someone speak.

He groans when I start telling him about my day.  The purpose of this is to encourage him to tell me about his day.  Guess what?  It doesn’t work, but I have to keep trying.

He grumbles if there isn’t some ready-made food in the house.

I actually got a response from him the other day.  When I told him I was going to write this, he said, “A grunt is an effective form of communication.”

Eight, count them, eight words in a row!

Now, that I think about it, I do know the meaning of his grunts and groans.

They mean,  “I don’t feel like talking.  I am ignoring you. I want to sit in peace.  I am busy doing nothing.  It is too much work to make some food for myself, why can’t you do it?”

Maybe he is right, a grunt is an effective form of communication!

 

 

Dwayne, Dwayne, Dwayne, I’ll Never Forget Your Name!

Remember the adage?

There is an  old adage that says you should say a person’s name three times when you meet him/her.  This repetition will assure that  you will not forget the name.

I forgot the adage!   Or maybe I just thought it read old age, and I was trying to ignore anything that mentions old age.

WRONG DECISION!

As I have mentioned, I have been going to Orange Theory. I was quite flattered when the manager of the gym asked if she could do a member profile on me for the newsletter. Maybe I shouldn’t let it go to my head.  It could be that they just can’t believe I am still there–meaning I haven’t keeled over yet.

I answered the questions and sent the manuscript thinking that the editor would edit my blurb.  Nope.

Another lesson learned, do not assume anyone else will clean up your mistakes.  You have to take responsibility to make sure you get it right.  Which I didn’t.

I mentioned the names of individuals who had encouraged me to keep coming, pulled me off the floor a couple of times, or just smiled at me when I was scared I wasn’t going to survive a session. I remember the names of Zack, David, Jeff, Dana, and Lauren, but the name I mentioned in the article was not Dwayne.  I don’t want to say the name I wrote because if I say it too often it will get stuck in my head, again.

Now, this young man was raised right.  He takes the time to talk to old ladies, laugh at old lady jokes, and encourage the old ladies.

I am horrified that I hurt his feelings and now I’m afraid  he won’t speak to me, chuckle at my jokes, or support me.

Any good suggestions on how I can ask him to forgive me, other than handing this apology to him?

If he reads  this, it will be my luck that Dwayne is spelled either as Dwaine or Duane.

 

 

A Greenland New Year and Resolutions

We rang in the New Year–but I we did our countdown from Ittoqqortoormiit, Greenland–meaning, it was 9 p.m. in Washington D.C, but we had the kids convinced it was midnight.  Are we going to hell for lying to the kids?  Thank goodness for Netflix and their pre-programed countdowns.

Ittoqqortoormiit, Greenland

RESOLUTIONS

I gave up resolutions for lent. Oops, wrong holiday, we are not there yet.  Every year I try to be resolute, but I make resolutions that are impossible to do–such as losing weight.

 

This year I will be resolute in drinking more tea and learning 10 new words for the year.   I’m not promising myself that I will remember the words, but I will learn them.  Does it mean I am hedging my bet,  if I get an email every day with new words? Unfortunately, I know most of them. But 10 is doable.

So far this year, I drank more cups of tea than I did in six months last year, so I think I might make it.

And, I already learned one new word.  Senectitude.

If I want to live a long life, it is important to stay active in my senectitude.

You will find the meaning in the text above.

Now, it’s only 9 new words to learn in 12 months!

 

Warm tea on a frigid 68 degree day, sound so comforting.  Want to join me?

I’m Afraid I’m Growing Up!

 

Imagine if you will, sweet, creamy, scrumptious, chocolate melting in your mouth and filling your every sense with happiness, contentment and joy.

Since the beginning of time chocolate has been the temptation of the gods.  My history may not be very accurate, but since the beginning of my time, it has been my temptation.

My family celebrated Christmas with chocolate.   Thank you, Jesus, for bringing chocolate into our home on your birthday.

In the center of the dining table, my mother’s crystal, lazy-Susan was brimming with chocolate kisses. Chocolate flowed  from and overflowed  the candy dishes.  When you picture this, don’t see it from the adult view from above.  Look at the candy dish as a child would with your nose level with the table.  The dish sparkles and shines and holds a delightful treasure.

With the help of huge chairs, I reached and grabbed and reached and grabbed until my hand was slapped for taking too much, or I felt really sick from eating  so much chocolate.

Long after I left home and had my own children, Christmas always included Hershey kisses.    Like the child I am, I couldn’t properly execute my Christmas duties without the ever-present Hershey Kisses.

They could have silver wrapping or red and green, it didn’t matter, as long as they were filled with chocolate.

Every present I wrapped, was accompanied by a chocolate kiss.  My family always wondered why they got so many presents.  Duh!  If they only got a few gifts, I would only eat a few kisses!

Then, while sitting under the tree on Christmas morning…yes, you guessed it–each gift had to be UN-wrapped with a kiss.  By the time Christmas was over I had the same funny tummy ache that I had as a kid.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sadly, this year I grew up.

 

How do I know this?  I know, because this year,  I wrapped ALL my gifts and DID NOT eat one kiss.

Once, while in the grocery store, I picked up a few packages of kisses, thinking I wanted them, but I put them back.  It wasn’t the child in me who put them back.   My hand just did it by itself! I would NEVER have put them back before.   (If anything I hid more packages than most people saw.)

There are NO kisses in the house and there are only two days until Christmas.

Is growing up my Christmas present?  That is as bad as coal–maybe worse–you get coal only once, but now I will be grown up, forever.

 

Is There Any Hope?

 

Maybe I’m  not really growing up.  Maybe my tastes are maturing?  No, that means growing up.  They are expanding, or maybe evolving, but I won’t accept that they are  maturing.

 

A few days ago, after all the gifts were wrapped,  I walked past the bulk candy display in the grocery store.    

The chocolate covered peanuts called my name.  My whole name–not just Virginia.  I swear the peanuts were shouting so loud, that I thought the whole store could hear them.

I succumbed to their pressure!

I bought a bag.  I managed to dump only a little in the bag, but, unfortunately,  those were eaten far too quickly.

 

Yesterday, I went back.

Again, the peanuts were  screaming my name, so  I pulled on the lever.

 

NOTHING CAME OUT!

 

A kind lady–she said her name was Claus–saw my utter disappointment and slammed the container with her hand a few times, and then hundreds of peanuts filled my bag– over three pounds worth.

You can’t put bulk candy back, so I had no choice, I HAD to buy it.

Yes,  I feel better.

With that kind of behavior, it is obvious that I can’t be growing up.

It is merely that my tastes are developing and diverging!

 

Christmas Central = My Office

Christmas gifts have become true surprises, thanks to on-line shopping.

Remember the days when we would leave the huge, ripped paper bags filled with Christmas toys and gifts in the trunk of our car until everyone went to bed and then we would sneak the gifts into the house to keep them hidden in a closet, or under a bed.  At least, we thought they were hidden.  But sneaky little elves would search high and low to get a peek of the wonders that would be under the tree.

Now, there is no sneaking.  The plain brown box with a big smile is dropped at your front door.  Anyone can pick it up because it gives no hint of what is inside.  Remember, it is illegal to open someone else’s mail.

There is no need to hide the boxes, but they still need to be stored somewhere.

Therefore, my office becomes Christmas Central.

First, My Desk

My desk has always had a life of its own.  It knows how to multiply better than a rabbit.  It’s just that my desk multiplies papers, books, notes, folders, lists, Christmas catalogs,  patterns for crochet projects, receipts and of course, my Diet Coke cans.   The rest of the office usually looks presentable.

In the midst of all this cheery Christmas hustle and bustle and singing–yes I do listen to Christmas carols all month long, my computer caught the flu.  I tried to nurture it with love and care and a few cuss words, but I had to luck.  TA DA!  I bring Number One in to be my knight in shining armour and fix it.

His eyes bulged and his face paled as he stood helpless before my desk. His hands were shaking.  “I can’t fix it with all this stuff here.”   “Sure you can,” I assured him.  I had moved the monitor  and was able to fiddle with the cables, just as I thought he would.  It’s just that somehow his fingers are magic and he can fix computer issues.

As he sat in my chair, I thought he was going to be physically ill.  He sat motionless for a few seconds as he stared at the mish-mash of my life laid out in all its glory. But, it is an organized mess.  I know how many papers or folders down that I have to go to find an item.  Number One could not stop frowning as if I was asking him to put his hands into a messy toilet.

He survived the ordeal, but he wasn’t able to fix the computer flu.   He looked like he had caught the flu as he left my office.

 

Christmas snuck onto my desk, too!

 

 

Just in case you are wondering, that is only about a quarter of my desk.

 

Christmas Central has taken over my office!

Christmas Central

I do not have a wide angle lens so you can’t see all the boxes on the right or the left.  But believe me, there are more boxes.

Why does Christmas Central look like this?  The closet is open because I am searching for various skeins of yarn to create hats, blankets, and scarves for the holiday.

The card table in the middle was used to write on as I did my Christmas cards.  I am very old fashioned, and like my mom, I want to send out cards.  I do type my yearly letter filled with all the antics of the Ghoniems, but I love signing each card and sometimes writing a little note on them.  I love the gel pen and the feel of my the pen as it  glides as I swirl out our names.  I send out about 200 cards, so these pictured are just what is left after a day-long labor of love, writing.

Either this table or one that is a little longer and higher will be in that same spot while I wrap the gifts.  The gift wrap holder is also hiding to the right.

Hidden in the Costco box are gifts that I don’t want people to think are interesting .  Under the jacket is something else.   (I can’t say what, just in case some is reading this just to find out what they are getting for Christmas.

Those brown boxes keep coming.  I am curious about which one has my gifts in it.  But, my family is smart, they don’t send the gifts in my name, so it stays out of Christmas Central.

Christmas Central will be cleaned up by January, but I can’t make any guarantees about my desk.

I Need a Bigger Bucket!

First of all, just VISITING China was high on my bucket list.

Growing up in rural Wisconsin, the thought of visiting China was as alien to me as the UFO’s are now.  Besides, I was a little embarrassed to visit because I had wasted some Brussel sprouts (still can’t eat them) and was scolded for wasting food because the people in China were starving.  Had anyone starved because I didn’t eat my sprouts?

 

Here are a few more things that I can check off my bucket list.

Trudged up the Great Wall like the ancient Chinese warriors.  Yes, I said trudged.  I literally had to pull myself up using the hand railings because the ramp was at least at a 30 degree angle.  Number One thinks it is a 30 degree angle.  I swear it was at least a 45 or 50 degree angle.  The steps were uneven.  Some were a few inches high and then some were two feet high.  They had to have been used by very tall people–another misconception that I had–I thought the Chinese were short. The highest point is 3,330 feet above sea level–I got to the top!

The view at the top was amazing.  I was watching ancient history come to life as it trailed over the mountains at great heights and flowed with simple elegance.  I was entranced by the beauty.

The Great Wall, to the Chinese, can be compared

to Mecca, for the devout Muslims.   The number of people on that wall that day was in the thousands,  and it wasn’t even a holiday or in summer.  It was in November!

This wall has such significance that Mao Zedong said, “He who has not climbed the Great Wall is not a true man.”

I guess I am now a true man.

 

Sipped tea at an authentic Chinese Tea Ceremony.  There are two types of pots for the tea.  One is to brew it and one is to serve it to guests.  They do not use the teapot with the spout to serve, they use  a small pitcher to pour the tea.  I learned you need to wash Jasmine tea before you make it.  You must also pour hot water over the tea pot to prepare it.  They women splash and pour between the two containers to get the tea to the right temperature.   It is pretty complicated.  I think I might stick with my one pop of the can of Diet Coke.

 

This is the tray, pots and cups that they use.   Another sure-fire way to see if the water is hot enough is to pour the hot water over “pee boy.”  If he starts peeing, the water is just right.

 

 

 

 

 

I rode a two hump camel.  Now, I can say that  I have ridden a one hump and a two hump camel.   It looks as if you can use one of the humps as a makeshift handle to get onto the beast, but that hump just wiggles all over and it actually is more of a hindrance  than help to getting onto the camel.  You need to fit between the two humps.  Ok, I got onto the camel, but the owner had to give my backside a boost. Once the picture was taken,  there was no way I could get off that creature.  I finally called to Number One so he could push my right foot up high enough so my left foot would slide down the other side.  It was not a graceful mount nor dismount, but I can check riding camels off my bucket list.

 

 

I rode the one hump camel in Egypt in 1983.

I rode the two hump camel in China 2017.

It took 34 years to accomplish this feat, but I did it!

 

 

 

The largest palace in the world is “The Forbidden City.”  It sounds really ominous, almost scary. It was forbidden for anyone other than the royal family to enter.  This palace, which is the size of a city, housed the emperor, his family, which could be 500 or more children, his 1000 concubines, his wife, and his mother.  Luckily the mother and the wife each had separate buildings.  The number of buildings is astonishing as well as the artwork.   On the roof, mythical creatures of  the sea were carved and placed to protect the palace.  However,  lightning struck and burned a building.  They learned from the Americans that lightning rods do a better job of  protecting than mythical creatures.

 

 

 

The Summer Palace is on an island surrounded by a beautiful lake.  It would be easier to see if the Beijing SMOG was not so heavy.

I loved the city of Beijing.  We stayed three days, but  by then I could feel the smog clogging up my lungs.  The Chinese have plans to fix it, but it will take some time.

 

The Terra Cotta Warriors. These warriors were supposed to be the emperors army in the afterlife.  They were made larger than life. Each facial expression is different and the warriors displayed their rank by their shoes.  The higher the tip of the toes on the shoes, the higher the rank.  You can read anything you want into that, but that was the way it was. This Emperor was 13 when he took power and  was not very nice–like most teenagers at 13– and the people didn’t like him.  So, after he died, they raided his tomb of all the valuables and smashed his warriors.   These warriors have been waiting to fight since about 250 BC. Luckily, in 1974 a young farmer discovered these warriors by accident.  He was digging a well and found what he thought was a ghost in front of him. No ghost, just an ancient warrior.  The farmer now can sign his name on coffee table books.  He was not able to write anything when he found the warriors.  The tour guide said he is very old now.  Number One and I think he is younger than we are.

 

         Japan is not that far away from China.  Number One had a conference in northern Japan.  Once it was finished, I was able to check off one more item on my bucket list.

Growing up right after WWII, Japan was not on the favored list of countries to visit for anyone in the country, so I was sure I would never visit a country that had attacked us.   Well, I did.  And, I am glad.

There are so many vistas of one special place in Japan, and that is Mount Fuji.   Yes, I went to the seventh station of Mount Fuji.  It looks like the mountain has snow at the top, but it is actually sun glinting off the ice which gives it a white color.  This mountain, of course, is a volcano with an interesting shape.  It is almost symmetrical with gentle slopes on each side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After exploring far-away places filled adventure and intrigue, we get to come home to reality in  sunny, Carlsbad, California!

Duck. Duck. Duck. SCORPION!!!

My First Duck

Peking Duck is a delicacy that must be enjoyed in Beijing (remember it used to be called Peking). I also experienced other delicacies with my first duck that I can truly, and never to be repeated, take off my bucket list.

One of the best Peking Duck Restaurants in Beijing is named, Quanjude.  It was established in 1864.

As a treat, we were graciously hosted in this restaurant. There was a group of 10,  so they ordered two ducks.  Each duck has a code and a number.  Number One ate duck 150062 and I ate duck 150063.  My question is, “Who ate duck number 1?”

Yup, we ate duck, and duck and duck!  Peking Duck meat is very tender, juicy, and delicious.   You put pieces of duck into a Chinese crepe/tortilla along with some veggies and some sweet sauce.  Oh, it melted in my mouth.   YUM, it was good!

First Course

However, the first course was a delicacy I have never dreamed of trying.  I was given the honor of eating the first boiled duck foot.

Yes, the feet of the duck are eaten.  Of course, our hosts wanted to give us their specialties as a treat.  All eyes were on me, when they brought out the feet.  Yes,  it looks exactly like a webbed duck foot.  For flavor, you dip the feet into a Dijon sauce.  However it turned out to be horseradish–closer to wasabi.  I picked up the feet by the ankles, dipped generously thinking it was mustard.

Deep breath,–of course–you know everyone is watching me–and plopped that foot into my mouth.  I chewed.  To be honest, the foot tasted like rubbery chicken cartilage, but the power of the horseradish, shot right through my nose into my sinuses.  Who knows what happened then.   It was so strong, that I felt I blacked out.  They laughed, so I guess that is the usual non-Chinese response.

Fresh Duck Feet

The next course was  fried duck heart.  I am still hoping it was fried.  It looked very red and was sort of crunchy.  I didn’t taste like much, I think my taste buds went on a hiatus after the horseradish.

I enjoyed the sweet, fried, duck skin, mainly because it was sweet.  Yes, I checked to make sure there weren’t any feathers in it.

Dinner Time

We didn’t stuff ourselves by any means at lunch, so by the time dinner time rolled around we were  quite hungry.   We were staying close to the downtown and shopping areas.  One street is completely closed with all the high end boutiques flashing their neon signs and wares.

Old Town China

Surprisingly, we stumbled upon an alley filled with old shops, hole in the wall restaurants and snack vendors.

Our first opportunity for a snack was LIVE SCORPIONS on a stick!  Yes, they were alive.  Their little legs were moving.  I don’t want to know how they were attached to the stick and still moving.  There are certain things your mind protects you from, and that is one of them.

Dinner was at McDonald’s that night.  At least it is filled with familiar ungodly things.

 

 

Give Me Some Credit, Please?

Dear Orange Theory,

I know I missed three sessions of torture—I mean exercise—because I have been traveling.  Orange Theory is good for my body—eventually I will see the results—but traveling is good for the mind and the spirit.  And thankfully, you see immediate results with traveling.

But, you need to realize that traveling can be exercise, too.

First, I trudged up the  40 degree incline and the thousands of steps on the Great Wall.  I also did a lot of twisting and contorting getting through the crowds there.  It was a non-stop trek up the mountain for 45 minutes.  Okay, I stopped a couple of times because I thought my heart was going to blast out of my chest.  My lungs worked extra hard trying to breath through the heavy Beijing smog.

I didn’t bring my heart rate monitor—I know a big mistake—but I know my heart rate would have been in the red zone or maybe the purple zone.  I gave you an extra color to show how hard I was working.

You need to have a new routine called The Great Wall.  It will be as bad as your hell week sessions.

Following that, I hung on for dear life—literally—on the airport bus in Beijing.  The bus driver stopped and started with such force that holding onto the rings from the ceiling was a workout all on its own.  Your strap rings are easy peasy—even for the ancient like myself—compared to the bus rings.  As I clutched the rings, my nails dug into my hands while my arm was yanked in all directions.  I used every arm muscle, pectoral muscle and any other muscle that is in any vecinity of my arm just to stay upright and not fly into the person in front or in back of me.

No, it’s not over yet.  Our plane was delayed in China for one hour, so our window of time to catch the next plane narrowed considerably.  Without going into details, we had to run through the Japan airport at top speed, pulling luggage, backpacks and posters.  We raced to the gate in ALL OUT mode.   Even though you don’t see it on my heart monitor, I was RED!  We made the plane by squeezing through the door as it was closing.

Now, as you can see, I did exercise.  So, my question is, is there any way I can get credit for at least one session, maybe even two.

If not, you will see me three times a week for the next three weeks.

Oh, in case you haven’t noticed, I don’t suffer in silence.

Please give me the credit?

Sweaty, Tired and Achy,

Virginia