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,


Teed Off, Driven, and Buried

Over the past three years, hundreds golf balls have bounced off our trees, dented the outdoor grill and refrigerators, wizzed past our heads, plopped a foot behind us when we are swimming, and broken two windows at our cost of 500 dollars each.

Now some of these golf balls have been bright yellow, orange or pink.  I have to admit that I never knew golf balls could be so colorful.  Some of them are dented, some are quite muddy, and some looked pretty chewed up.


The last group could be the result of Max finding it first and using it as a  chew toy.  To be honest, Max thinks the golf balls are manna from heaven.  He doesn’t have a chance to get bored, because as soon as he has lost or buried one ball, another just drops from the sky.  God forbid if they land in the pool, because he trembles, shakes and races from one end of the pool to the other trying to figure out how to get to it.    We take pity on him and take it out, which we soon regret  because he insists on dropping the slimy orb into our laps, hoping that we will throw it.  Needlessly to say, we tire of the game long before he does.


Not long ago, a special ball landed in the yard.  It was the traditional white,  but this one came with a message.


This ball caused a great deal of consternation.  Did this come from a neighboring house?  After a quick look across the golf course,  I realized that to hand throw a ball a half a mile from across the course would have been almost impossible.  This is especially true  when you think a weaker person would need help, and not someone who could throw a ball one half mile.

Kidnapped Golfer?

Let’ get real!  A kidnapper would not put a driver into the hands of someone they kidnapped.  That is unless the kidnapper is really dumb. And why take someone to a place where you have to pay 240 dollars a round to play?



This poor golf ball is tired of being teed off, driven for miles with a smack and it knows if it lands in a backyard a dog will bury it deep in the ground.  Then,  a few months,  later it will be recycled and used by an even less experienced golfer.


I am giving this ball sanctuary!  This ball will be placed in the china cabinet.  It should be ok until an estate sale and then it’s journey will start all over again with our great grandkids.


We tell ourselves that age is just number.  We still can do whatever we want–our age should not affect our actions.

No matter how smart we think we are, sometimes as our age increases, our Common Sense IQ decreases!

DIY (Do It Yourself)

Doing odd jobs around the house is good for the soul–it gives us a sense of accomplishment.

However,  some DIY jobs are not meant for creaking, aching joints and slow moving reactions.


We purchased three 7 feet tall pictures that we wanted to put on the wall.

I knew it was a huge job, so I tried to hire it out.  Unfortunately, at the last minute, the hired help was not able to come.

Now, once plans are made to do something,  Number One cannot change gears and do something else.  He must continue doing what was planned.  If the handyman couldn’t do it.  He would do it.

Did you hear me scream, “NOOOOOOO, let a younger person hang these?”   ” He will bounce better than you do.”


In order to hang these, you need to stand on the steps.

To make the height of the steps even, Number One  brought in long, flat bricks and piled them on the steps.

He still couldn’t reach the spot for the nail.

So, we added a step stool on top of the bricks which were on top of the steps.



We cannot step back far enough to eyeball it to see if it is straight because we would start walking on air.

So, we need to measure top from bottom, bottom from top and in between–literally in between the pictures.

Now to complicate matters, once on top of the step stool, he had a hold a measure, a level, a drill and a tiny  screw.  Then he had to  reach as far as his arms would go to drill the screw into place,  all without falling off the step stool, the bricks or the steps.







Oh, did I mention that he was hanging these pictures on a 20 foot wall –which means, we have a long way to fall.

I want you to picture Number One standing on the step stool that has the back legs on the steps, and the front legs on the bricks.  I am standing under him, holding my arms up like the basketball player ready to receive the ball for a layup.  What scares me that most was that I believed that I was going to catch him if he fell.  My common sense has also diminished with age.  How am I going to catch a 200 pound man being pulled by gravity 15 feet above the floor?


They are up!!!


If you look closely, those two shining lights are our guardian angels, who are  sorely overworked by two oldie moldies who have lost their common sense.

The Sirens of the Deep are Calling Me.

The Sirens of the Deep are calling ME–not just my husband.

Ok, the pool is not THAT deep, but it does go over my head!

Since I have become Darth Virginia with my mask, I discovered I really like swimming.  (If this doesn’t make sense, check out “My Husband’s Mistress.”)

Now, that it is October,  those cold winds are blowing– 0k, the scorching California Santa Ana winds aren’t cold, but the pool is a frosty 72 degrees.

The sun doesn’t heat up the solar panels  to get the pool to the 85 degrees that is perfect for swimming.



Why, now that I like to swim, I can’t?


A few days ago, as I walked on the beach and watched the surfers, I had a thought.

I was thinking that Number One has a wet suit, so why don’t I wear his wet suit and see if it will keep me warm in the pool.

There was no way I was going to try it on while anyone was home–which in hindsight–I should have re-thought that idea.

The wet suit was heavier than I expected.  Oh, did I forget to tell you that I have never put on a wet suit before?

I pulled and pulled and twisted and sweated and yanked and cussed for 20 minutes before I finally got that thing on.

I feel as if  I did 20 minutes of weight training because my arm muscles were killing me.  And, my back was a little wrenched, too.


When I looked in the mirror, I saw a cross between the Cat and the Hat minus the hat and the tail, and a Penguin.

I didn’t have the smooth strides of a lithe cat.  I waddled like a penguin because the suit wasn’t fitting quite right.


Was this going to work?   Was I going to freeze in the water after building up such a sweat putting om a second skin?



I grabbed my Darth Virginia helmet, stuffed the earplugs in my ears, and donned my swimming mitts.

Now I looked like the Creature from the Black Lagoon!

Our dog, Max, ran back into the house once he saw me.


I stepped into the water.  I felt a tiny chill.  Then I bravely  jumped into the water and swam to the other end of the pool and back.

Holy Moly!  The water wasn’t cold!


I swam for about 40 minutes–it was invigorating!


My next problem.   How was I going to get out of this contraption?

I twisted, turned, pulled, swore and finally I got the suit  to my feet.  I only had to pull my feet out.

I felt I was giving birth again.  I haven’t pushed so hard to get something out of/off of my body in 31 years!           

How do surfers do this every day?

The Sirens are calling me, but the Creature from the Black  Lagoon is holding me back.

Are you taking bets on who is going to win?




Remember When Biking Was Just You and Your Bike?


Growing up, my pink Schwinn bike was my escape and my fast getaway.

I remember bounding down the steps of the side porch-actually I missed a few, but still landed on my feet.

I jerked my bike away from the house, slid my leg through (I didn’t have to swing it over, it was a “girls” bike) stood up and peddled as fast I could  to the road.

Our road was the best to bicycle on, because it was the only paved road in the area.   It was so much easier riding on blacktop than the gravel roads.

I spent hours biking around the neighborhood and going up and down the street at top speed–or as fast as a ONE gear bike can go.



NOW, there are no more quick bounds out the door, jumping on my bicycle and riding on the street in front of my house.


I still do bike in  the neighborhood, but not directly in front of the house because there are LONG and STEEP hills.

So the next best thing Number One and I do is bike in our neighborhood by the beach.

As you can see our neighborhood is not flat, even along the beach.

No bounding out of the house because:

We must don our bike shorts and shirts.  We do  have to look the part, so we can fit in with the “professional” bikers that wiz by us at 95 miles an hour.  You think I’m kidding, come ride with me.

Since we cannot bound down the steps and jump on the bike, we need to take it to somewhere we can ride.

So, that involves putting the  bike rack  into the hitch that was specially attached to  Number One’s car so we can ride our bikes “in the neighborhood”.

To install the bike rack, you need two wrenches.  One to hold the end of the screw and one to turn the bolt–but that is after you  fiddle around with the rack checking to see which hole we need to put the screw into.

We still need to put the bikes onto the rack.  However, Number One stores the bikes on the ceiling.  Only someone with strong arms can bring them down–meaning it is not me!

Then, check the air in the tires.  Why are they always low?  My Schwinn tires were never low and if they were, I never noticed it.  As long as I could ride, I was happy.

Next, we fit the bikes into the specially designed  holders and pull the straps into place, then we double and triple check to see that the bikes are held in place so they don’t go flying off the rack..

As a kid, I wonder how far I could have biked by now?

Once we get to the street where we can park our car, we have to go through the same process with the rack, only  in reverse.

The bikes are finally  on the street that we will ride on–yeah!!!!!



First, we need to put on our helmets, then we put on the gloves that do not cover our finger past the first knuckle.  I  slip on the camel-back backpack so I can drink  my water whenever I want.


Now we need to put in the earplugs for our iPods (yes I am behind the times) or our iPhones.  Next, check to make sure it is playing the tunes you like.

You grab the handle ready to go and uh-oh–I need to turn on the RunKeeper App on my phone.  I need to know the distance I have traveled,  my speed, my average speed, and how many calories I spent on this ride.

Finally, I am ready to go!

I swing my leg over the bike–I know–it’s a bummer that they don’t sell girls bikes.  I could have very easily slung my leg over when I was kid, but now it is like slinging my leg over a horse.

I push down on the pedal, start off and oh my goodness, I forgot!



It almost seems pointless to ride now because I forgot my Orange Theory heart monitor.

I won’t be able to see how orange and red I am.    There is no record of my heart beat!  I could have shown the young coaches  that I was exercising over the weekend.

Yes, I biked 10 miles, rode up steep, heart pounding hills, but it DIDN’T COUNT.

Tomorrow,  I am creating a bike check-off list that will be attached to my helmet!

I just have to remember to tape it to my helmet!


There Is Orange Theory and Then There Is My Theory

Oh what a mother will do to hang out with her grown children!

My oldest has been going to a workout center named Orange Theory.  Sounds strange, I know.  The name comes from the idea that we need to be in a “zone” of 80% of our heart-rate in order to get the maximum benefit from our workout.

While visiting last month, my oldest convinced my youngest to go workout with her and sort of guilted me into going, too.  I told her  I was afraid that everyone there was going to be young with perfect bodies.

“Oh, no,” she said.  “there are older people and”–then she hesitates–“those that are not in perfect condition.”    That was a good save!

My daughter needs to get her contacts changed–there were no old people there.  Oops, maybe I saw a 40 year old.  Again, not old.


Yes, you guessed it, I think there was one person there who could maybe have lost 15 pounds.  No where near my numbers!

I was fitted for a heart monitor–that should have been my first signal that this was going to be more than I bargained for.  Oh, they give you a free first lesson to entice you into coming.  That is not an enticement.  Give me a piece of chocolate cake if you want to entice me .

Once inside, you can either start on the treadmill or the floor lifting weights.  I started on the treadmill.

All I can say is that Thank Goodness the trainers and staff are really sweet and supportive while they are giving orders like a drill sergeant to increase the pace or increase the incline.


I was red.   My face was red, my neck was red and the screen displaying my colors was RED.  I skipped orange and went straight to RED.

I had to keep up.  There is something in my genetic makeup that if someone tells me to go faster, I go faster.  If they tell me to go higher, I go higher.





Noooooo, I was  NOT done.  I still had to lift weights and contort my body to make it stronger for another half an hour.

“I’m so proud of you,” both my daughters cheered.

I got news for you.  Moms want their kids to be proud of them, too.

“We have to sign up for this,” my younger daughter said.

I had no problem having her sign up.  More power to her.

“But, mom, you have to sign up with me to encourage me to go.”

I can encourage her from the kitchen table.

Nope, no such luck, I had to GO and encourage her.  We signed up for 8 sessions a month and got the heart monitor–otherwise you can’t see yourself go orange, or in my case,  red.

I have survived three classes.

My muscles are sore.

My knees ache.

And, I am so tired all day long after the session.

But, I feel better.  I feel tighter.  I feel stronger.

So I keep on going to the classes.

Oh, and I was right.  There are only young, thin, people there and me, the old, not thin one.

Today my youngest said that next month she wants to sign up for three sessions a week.

My daughters say they want me to do this for my health.


My theory is that my daughters are looking for an early inheritance!





Construction Worker? Me???


I am not handy.

But Number One believes he can fix anything.

I can read directions.

However,  Number One doesn’t think it is necessary.

So, with these great skills and talents, we decided to don our construction helmets and belts and build a building.

Ok, I will admit that the word building may give a false impression, but we did put together a micro-house, or in layman’s terms, a shed.

Surprisingly, you need strong muscles to put together a micro-house.    You also need the ability to see things from different angles and slants and you need to swivel, contort and twist yourself and the pieces to see how they fit. This is similar to putting together a giant puzzle. Did I mention puzzles are not my thing?

Oh, and one more thing, you need the ability to bounce when you fall.

After snapping these three together Number One thought we were almost done.

The location of a mini-house needs to be on flat, solid ground.  Therefore, the narrow space between the property line and the house was the logical place for it.    The key word is narrow.

To put the sides up, you need to jam them down so they will click into place.  So, while Number One is inside, I am climbing the wall–really climbing a wall– to get a better angle.

I remember the good old days when I could put my foot on a 3 foot wall and just jump up on it.

These are not the good old days.  I got my foot on the wall, but my body  didn’t nimbly jump up.  Number One tried to hold my arm to help, but somehow my arm flexed and flopped at a grotesque  angle.  I want to say that he caught me in his loving arms and saved me.  I only bounced once before he caught me.

Captain Step-stool to the rescue!  (All rescuers need a name.)

Once on top of the wall, I had to battle the Cyprus tree.

It won.

The tree and I did a dance of King of the Hill. Cypress trees have lots of arms and they push in all directions. I grabbed for the branches, then I  lunged for the sides of the shed, but the only thing I made contact with was the sidewalk below.

The next hurdle was the vaulted roof.  Even the instructions, which, of course, I read, said you need a second person to  push or pull down on the roof so it could be attached to the walls.

There was room in some places for me to hang onto the edge of the roof–can you picture me dangling from a roof?

Other places were so squished that I had to climb up that damnable wall, fight King Cypress,  and bear down with all my might.  That fall was a little more controlled.  When you fall so many times, eventually you learn to fall without too much pain.  How do I explain to my chiropractor that my back is contorted because of King Cypress?

We finished our project in one day and under budget.

Why under budget you ask, because my pay was lunch at El Pollo Loco!



I will never do that again!





Guardian Angels Are Real



Someone is watching over Number One and me.

Our angel helped us find our way in Paris.   Then again, in Venice.  It was 2 a.m. and not a soul was out.  But two men dressed in white walked us to our hotel and then suddenly disappeared.  You may think that was pure coincidence, but  I can assure you that was our Guardian Angel at work.

Last Friday, she was hard at work again.

I will do a visual to show what happened.

This will be a math problem.  Number One’s favorite kind of problem.

What do you get when you add a very tall, thin, palm tree, plus a long ladder, plus an old man, plus a machete saw, plus a long, long pole that the machete saw is attached to, plus an old lady holding the ladder and gripping her husband’s ankle.?











This was quite a sight to see.   The ladder was wobbling.  Number One was wearing flip-flops and trying to keep his balance while holding a pole that has been elongated to 15 feet and there was a very sharp blade on the top.  Of course it was all ready to topple over onto the old lady hanging onto the ladder and her husband.  Oh, I do need to add that the old lady was begging the old man to come down because  it was too dangerous.  I guess the words, “Are you out of your mind?” may have slipped out about 20 times.

As Number One starts to realize that maybe this is not a good idea, a truck drives up with two men, wearing white.   Amazingly, their job is to trim palm trees.  In seconds, Number One struck a deal.  Moments later, these two men are climbing the trees with ropes and spurs, dropping huge palm fronds and seeds.   They move  up and down the trees as easily as monkeys.

In twenty minutes the trees are trimmed and the men are off to save another old couple from disaster.

We keep our Guardian Angel pretty busy.  We like to think she looks like the angel on the top, but I think she looks more like this.


Her hair is messy, her halo is a little askew and that might be a black eye from trying to sweep in fast enough to save us.



My Bucket List Started Long Ago!

After this summer, I can cross 15 things off my bucket list.

  1. Four raw oysters slithered down my throat!  What do they taste like, you ask?  Lime flavored slime.  I can say I ate oysters (plural) and now never again.
  2. I visited a Temperate Rainforest in Alaska!  Yes, I said rainforest and Alaska in the same sentence.  In Ketchikan the annual rainfall is 153 inches!!!!!!  Yes, it rained every second we were there.
  3. My legs were like Jello as I  inched across a 450 foot long suspension bridge that is 230 feet above ground, that was built in 1889!!!!  Yes, it was swaying.  Yes, I was petrified!!  I made it across going hand over hand and clutching the railing and some poor soul that was next to me.  THEN, I HAD TO GO BACK!!!!!!
  4. The King Crab legs in Juneau were almost as long as mine.  The amount of tender, tasty crab meat in those legs was unbelievable.  Then dip it in butter and, bam–you are in heaven!
  5.   The  Hubbard Glacier was a mere 1/4 of mile from our cruise ship.  I watched it calve into the ocean.  It was  like a sonic boom, you hear the noise after it crashes into the water.
  6.   Reindeer meat is quite tasty, and no it wasn’t Rudolf–I checked. Reindeer sausage is quite a staple in Northern Alaska.  I learned that Caribou and Reindeer are the same, except that Reindeer are domesticated–you know–to pull Santa’s sleigh,  and Caribou are wild.
  7. Several black bears were mere feet from us.   One is called Roly Poly for obvious reasons.   Nope, there was nothing to protect us, except the person behind me who can’t run as fast.
  8. I mushed behind 12 Alaskan Huskies down a forest trail at twilight.  I learned if the leader of the pack takes a pee to the right, the entire group has to pee to the right.  If he goes left,–yup, you guessed it–they all go left.
  9. A Moose calf  was happily walking down a trail,  and Mommy Moose was hiding in the trees behind her baby, munching leaves.  Mom looked calm so we guessed we were safe,  or maybe we were just too dumb to know how dangerous it was.
  10. Three humpback whales–each about 45 feet long—were  bubble feeding–that means they create a bubble under the water and they all breach the water at the same time and  together to catch the fish–awesome sight.
  11. I was within 150 feet of a bald eagle catching and eating a salmon.
  12. A lonely salmon was trying to swim upstream.  It was working so hard, but wasn’t getting very far because the current pushed it back further than its original progress.  It was sad.
  13. I was within 150  feet of a Grizzly Bear!  Yup a real live Grizzly.  I,  however, was in a bus, safe and sound.
  14. The Arctic circle was only 100 miles from us–believe me, that is as close as I want to get!
  15. The crowning glory of our visit was the complete view of Mt Denali (McKinley has officially changed its name to the original name).  The tallest mountain in North America (20,310 feet) is very difficult to see because it creates its own weather, but we were one of the 10% who visit it, that got to see the entire mountain.  Yes, I took this picture!

Only 10% of visitors get to see this mountain.