LOOK TO THE SKIES

The weather has been in the news a lot lately. The Polar vortex hit the Midwest with a blast of arctic temperatures starting at a minus 24. Then the wind blew fiercely and the wind chill plunged the already freezing temperature down to minus 40!



Huge snow snow storms dropped up to 30 inches of snow on the East Coast, along with lots of snow in the south. Did you know that snow storms have names, just like hurricanes. Our most recent ones were Harper and Indra. Snowstorms didn’t used to have names, but the Weather Channel, beginning in 2012, began naming snowstorms that will affect a lot of people.

Freezing temperatures create ice sculptures on trees, yet the sky in the background is such a pure blue.

Thank goodness for rain in the West.

The Left or West Coast doesn’t want to be left out, so this year we have been soaked by severe storms. I know you Mid westerners and East Coasters are no longer in awe of thunder storms. But, let me tell you, in 40 years of living in Southern California, there were perhaps two thunderstorms–with real thunder. This past year, we have been thundered upon, several times.

The loud boom is so unexpected, that it startles everyone. When lightening strikes, you feel as if a strobe light just passed you. And strangely, your first thought is why am I in a 70’s nightclub? You don’t think lightning.

These weather patterns create wonderful vistas of the skies. The cooler air and cloud cover create spectacular sunsets and all over the country. Number One took this picture. See the birds flying–trying to get closer to the sun where it is warmer.

Number one took this view from our balcony at 5:00 a.m.

Surprise! It was 35 degrees this morning in Carlsbad!!! Dang, that is cold! The clouds create spectacular sunrises, too.

However, we were presented with a beautiful surprising gift a few days ago. After very heavy rain and thunder, a huge complete rainbow arced in the northeast.

Not only were we given one rainbow, but a second complete complete arc appeared above the first. I have never seen a complete rainbow, let alone two complete ones!

You could even see where the rainbow stopped. We all wished we were the people at the end of the rainbow getting our wishes and pots of gold.

It is beautiful, but the picture doesn’t reveal the vibrant colors of the bottom rainbow. It was as if God dipped a brush in wet paint and brushed it across the sky.

Storms are uncomfortable and sometimes very dangerous, but our latest storms have painted the sky with deep reds, oranges and yellows and topped it off with two vivid, multicolored rainbows.

So, next time, you hear that a storm is coming, make sure you look to the skies and see what a beautiful palette of colors we have been gifted.

Two Week Resolution

I wasn’t thinking about my New Year’s Resolution until about mid January when I was grocery shopping and I turned down the candy aisle. I, really, was just passing through!

Suddenly, I found four people standing directly in front of the the wall of candy, staring wistfully at each item. I don’t remember seeing that many people in that aisle at one time–not even for Valentine’s Day.

I could hear the gears working in each brain. “I promised myself I would lose weight. How can I lose weight if I give in and buy this candy?” It was almost as if their mom was giving them the, “No you can’t have candy!” reprimand, and the child in them was saying, with their sweet puppy dog eyes, “Please mommy, I will only have one.” Then the child in you silently adds, “at a time.”

Another was thinking, “My resolution was to give up sugar this year. Not because I have to lose weight but because, sugar, according to the experts, is poison for my body. I don’t want to poison my body, but I really want some chocolate!”

The third was thinking, “I made an agreement with my doctor. Since I am pre-diabetic and I really don’t want to be diabetic, I would not eat candy or any thing that turns to sugar in the body, like bread, pasta and rice. I will fill up on vegetables and fruit.”

I am doomed!

The fourth was a tall, thin, young man. He wasn’t thinking about anything. He strode down the aisle, grabbed a couple of large bags of chocolate and left.

I hope he didn’t hear the angry curses that were aimed at him.

Our minds can stay focused on our resolutions or promises for about two weeks. But, only if it is in January. It doesn’t last quite that long the rest of the year. I think the reason we can’t stay focused, is that the resolutions we make are so broad and that there is not a specific element we can focus on. If you tell yourself to give up all sugar–you are doomed before you try! Tell yourself you will eat one less sugar filled item a day. That is doable.

This year, I didn’t make a real resolution nor did I make a promise. I did say I would “try” to do something–but a try–can last 5 minutes without any guilt.

I did say I would continue eating the way I have been, which is: I am sort of eating healthy, sort of exercising, and sort of cutting down on the amount of Diet Coke I drink. This was a resolution that cannot be broken. How do you measure “sort of”? Each person has their own definition, so I am going to “sort of” keep on “truckin” and “sort of” keep my resolution for the first time, ever!

And “sort of” avoid of the candy aisle!

Yoga With Goats?

Beth, our instructor, wasn’t always holding a goat.

Yes, it is real yoga.  My aching body will attest to that.

 

Yes, they are real goats. One pooped and peed so close that when I reached to catch my balance–well-you get the picture.

Look at them, you cannot get upset because they are so cute!

Goat Yoga started in Oregon in 2016 so it hasn’t been around for long.  And lucky for me, Sweet Sugar Farm in Encinitas, California  has goat yoga.

No, I am not so tired of doing yoga in my regular gym that I just needed a new venue.  For those of you who know me, I am the least limber of anyone around. I think this may be the third time in my life I’ve done yoga and I am sure I was the oldest one there.  The reason I attended is because I need to do research for one of the books I’m writing.  Who said research isn’t fun?                               

We reached and stretched, warrior posed, chair and child posed, cow and cat posed, and I tried the downward dog, but I was best at the corpse pose–meaning lying flat and not moving.  Also, I was pretty good at sitting and holding the baby goats.

This goat yoga venture supports a young 4-H girl who is raising an endangered species of dairy goats.  They are called Oberhasli goats. Yes, all you Wisconsinites, there are 4-H’ers in California.  I’d go again just to help her help an endangered specie.

I will go again–once I can move my hips.

 

The farm is located in the rolling hills and ranches of Encinitas.  It is a beautiful drive just getting there.  My daughter and I came early because I didn’t want to miss anything.  That means,  we had a chance to meet some of the other farm animals.  There is a pony, donkey, turkeys, rabbits, chickens, roosters, geese, and a pot belly pig.  I am sure there is more, but that is all I saw. Oh, and of course, the goats.  There are pygmy goats in the corral, they are short and squat, but they don’t yoga well, so they stay home.

 

The goats that ride on our backs are African goats called Nigerian Dwarfs.  They are so cute!

The goats that are raised as diary goats are the larger brown ones.

No, they do not ride on your back.  They are cute, but not meant for yoga.

 

Then we have some other visitors.

 

 

 

These are a little larger.  The llamas love to munch the hay that is placed all around, while you yoga. And, they also aren’t much into exercise.  The female likes to consider herself invisible, but Bandit, the one with the black halter, loves selfies.

 

It also looks like he loves the love more than the selfies!

Check out Goat Yoga at Sugar Sweet Farm.  You will have fun!

 

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

There is no truer statement than “necessity is the mother of invention.”

I’ve worn a lot of hats in my life,  daughter, sister, wife, mother, teacher, friend, principal, and counselor.

But now, I can add a couple of more hats.

Inventor.  Engineer.

If anyone has been in my kitchen and has had the misfortune of having to throw something in the trash or to recycle anything, they are forced to make the agonizing decision of  which of the containers the item goes into.  This is because they both seem to shmoosh and glide into one.

About a year and a half ago, we changed the kitchen cabinets and made a pull-out drawer for trash.  The trash drawer was too small for the waste baskets that came with a normal pull out trash drawer.

In keeping with wanting to save the environment for my grandchildren and great, great, great grandchildren, I wanted two containers in the drawer.

You may think that finding two containers to fit in a drawer is easy, but it is not.  I checked Amazon, the Container Store, Target, Walmart, K-mart, restaurant supply stores and even garage sales.  NOTHING!!!

Finally, I did manage to find two containers that would fit.

If you notice, they are very short containers.  They do not even come half-way up the drawer!

They are so short that within four hours they are full–remember there are only three people living in the house.  Of course, no one wants to take the trash out, so they try to push and shove the trash into the appropriate container.  The one is the back is for recycling, the one in the front is for trash.

I think the people in our recycling garbage truck are swearing at us every Tuesday because the containers usually become so co-mingled that  there is a little bit of everything in each one.  I feel bad because there may be several cans that were never recycled because the recycle basket was always full.

We illegally co-mingled for about two years!

I had an idea, for over a year, that I tried to get Number One to try.  He kept telling me that it wouldn’t work, that it would be ugly or  whatever kind of excuse he could come up with.

Finally, I had had enough!  I guess this is the year of the women who think they can so…. I did it!

I got this shirt from Jazz for my birthday as incentive to help me exercise.  It didn’t help with the exercise, but it did encourage me with my invention.

I had an idea to use PVC piping, but when I went into Home Depot to ask for help with it, I said PCP piping.  (He laughed and corrected me and told me it was PVC.  I guess he thought I was going to pipeline an hallucinogenic drug.)  Also, I was carrying the wastebasket that I wanted to use–maybe he thought I was going to fill the wastebasket with PCP.

I needed 16 three-way-tee fittings and piping. He suggested 2 pipes, I got three for good measure.  And, I am glad I did.  Oh, I also asked about cutting the PVC piping.  He showed me tool that was not too expensive and would make my life very easy, and it did!

I came home, showed Number One what I wanted to do with the piping and he was intrigued.

The next morning we started “our” project.  You know to keep peace, I can’t take all the credit.

 

Side View

 

Top View

Completed Project

 

 

 

The finished product!

We now have two distinct baskets.  Each one is big enough to hold two days worth of garbage–not four hours–and I am patenting it!

I can hardly wait to see the faces of our garbage people.

SHE CAN DO IT!!!!!

Cruising On a Saturday Night

 

Well actually, we were cruising on a Sunday  morning, but the old person Saturday night, is early Sunday morning.

The Santa Barbara beach bike-path, which meanders a long the deep blue waters of the Pacific, was a like an old  friend that  we hadn’t visited in a long time.

Luckily, Number One’s conference was held at the Hilton.  When you spend enough nights in hotels, there are certain perks that you get.  The Hilton provides free Beach Cruising bikes.   We love to bike, so this was a great opportunity to have some fun and anything free makes Number One happy.

I rode a hot pink  cruiser with wide handle bars and  an extra wide seat, (so comfortable) and to my chagrin it also had the old fashioned pedal brakes. It has been years and years and years since I  rode a gear-less and hand brake-less bicycle.  When I was younger,  I loved my banana seat and the super high “ape hanger” handle bars.    I raced up and down Blake Road for hours.  I thought I was the greatest bicyclist.  Of  course, there were no sidewalks, no cars and no pedestrians!

Not only was it a blast to the past, but I also had a blast of fear as my cruiser pitched and lurched towards a parked jaguar.  I was reaching frantically for the hand brakes, but there were none.  I didn’t stop to think there might be pedal brakes, I just slammed my foot on the ground—using the Fred Flintstone braking system.  Fred was lucky, he didn’t have to  balance his car and brake at the same time.

Before I was willing to venture onto the street and then the narrow bike path, I had to practice in the parking lot.  (No, I didn’t practice near the  expensive cars.  )

I finally—-sort of —got the braking system figured out.  You may never forget how to ride a bike, but you certainly do forget the braking  system.   It does NOT come naturally after using the modern new-fangled brakes.

Somehow I managed to cross the street and hobble onto the bike path.  I am sure you have had an experience when a steering wheel on a car has to too much play and a simple turn sends it careening hard to the right or to the left.  It was the same with this bike.  I was hanging on for dear life while bringing my hands closer to the front fulcrum, hoping that moving upward would give me more control.  NOPE!

We biked for only three miles, but I think I put fifty thousand miles  on the soles of my shoes.  My shoes  braked better than  the bike.   The out of control front wheel barely missed a few pedestrians.  Thank God I had a lot of tread on my shoes.

Next time I am either bringing my 21-speed Trek bicycle with hydraulic brakes, or I will have to learn to love the view of the parking lot.

If anyone has a cruiser that I could practice on, I would appreciate it. I hope you have good insurance.

 

 

It May Not Be What You Think

On hot summer days, when the temperatures  rises,  your young charges grow  anxious and rambunctious.

They  run  up and down the stairs, gallop into the kitchen almost pushing you over with their enthusiasm.  Then, they dash shrieking, wailing, and howling out of the house and  into the back yard.

When that doesn’t satisfy them, they start pushing,  bumping, and wrestling until you hear a sharp cry.  One of them got hurt.

Your nerves are frazzled and you obviously don’t have time to take them to the park right now, but for everyone’s–no your–sanity, you realize you have to get them out of the house.

It may seem that a trip to the park is easy, but it is a trial.  Your little ones need to put on their play gear,  but they are so excited that they continue to dart around and turn in circles while you  try to corral them into the car.

As soon as we near the park, they crane their necks hoping to get a look at one of their friends.  They are so excited that as soon as I open the door, they jump out into the parking lot.  I grab them quickly and take them inside the  park.

Most of the caretakers are watching their charges and if one of them is playing inappropriately, usually  the caretaker stops them.  Some just sit and talk with the other parents, oblivious to what is happening with their little ones.  But there is always that bully, or the older one, that pushes, shoves and sometimes bites.

When one makes a disgusting mess, most parents take care of that, but not all.

Some of them pull things away from others on the playground.  The sad part is that no one is watching those little ones and they continue to be a problem child forever.

If someone else’s charge gives you a hug, your little one is very jealous and needs to shove the usurper away.

After a while, they stop running and start sitting in the shade and playing in the dirt.  They love to kick up as much dust as they can.

Now, I can take them home and hopefully get some work done, but both are deaf to my calls and pretend I am not there.   Yes, the dog park is no different than your children’s park!  But wait, these are my children’s dogs, not mine.

Why am I taking them to the park? you ask.   For my sanity.  Besides, dog people are really nice people.

Step Up and Up and Up and Up and UP!

 

The gorgeous seaside towns along the Amalfi coast, capture your imagination. Picture yourself sitting on the balconies of the 17th century palaces built snugly into the rugged cliffs.

Yes, the views are spectacular, more than you could have imagined, but did you ever stop to think how people get to these palaces.  Let me tell you in simple terms.  STEPS.  Unending steps!  If you weren’t in a paradise, you would think you had gone to Hades.

The stairway that leads from the street to the palace is so narrow and dark that it is very easy to pass by it. This stairway  is about 4 feet wide and goes almost straight down.  Yes, it is that steep.  Hang on to the railing!

How many steps, you ask? 70!  Yes,  I said seventy steps, but those only take you to the first landing.  You get a bit of a respite as  you walk through a gorgeous, arched,  grape, arbor.  Oh, no, you are not done.   Then you walk down 18 more steps until you get into the front door.

Ok, to be fair and, and so I won’t sound like a wuss, all those steps were downhill.

To discover the center of the city, there are another 300 or so steps down.  Down is bearable.

The problem is when you go home, you have to walk UP those 300 plus steps!

Grandchildren scurry of the steps, children jog up the steps, grandparents play the wolf in the story of The Three Little Pigs.  We huff and puff all the way up.

Number One figured out that as long as both feet were on one step at a time, he could get a second or two of rest before he had to lift his legs one more time.

I focused on the steps under my feet.  If I looked up, my heart started pounding harder.  I had already walked up so many steps and it seemed like I still had a thousand more to go.  Also, I found myself stumbling if I didn’t keep track of where my feet were.

The first day we scouted the city and then the second day we headed to the beach.  Believe it or not, there are another  200 steps down to the beach—and unfortunately, 200 more steps UP!

Now, while in Italy, you eat, pasta, pizza, pasta, pizza, pasta, pizza and gelato all week long. You would think one would gain weight.

NOPE.  The advantage of these steps is that you burn more than you take in.    I lost four pounds on this vacation!

Oh, remind me to send a thank you letter to the sports medicine doctor who shot up my knee  with cortisone.  That was a vacation saving drug.  My knee didn’t hurt at all!

This may be a great way to lose weight, but I think for my future vacations, I will choose a spot where it is easy to gain a pound or two.

 

 

 

 

 

My Blossoming Prejudice

I am not and will not be prejudice against anyone!

I am an open minded individual who feels everyone needs to lead their life the way they want.

I am no better or worse than anyone else.

I am different, but that is not a negative.

However, sadly, I recently discovered I do have a prejudice.

My mother was an avid gardener.  We would see her on her knees working in the garden, which was the size of a small field, all morning long.  The center of the garden was filled with vegetables (never call them veggies) and then it was surrounded with flowers.  Sturdy zinnias that could withstand the Wisconsin weather were the constant of the summer.

Then, along the driveway she planted peach and orange gladiolas and red and yellow tulips  Ringing the house were colorful petunias.  The sweet fragrance of the lilac bush wafted through the air.  Finally, by the basement door–where it is always in shade –were her Lily’s of the Valley.

I thought Mom loved every flower.

NOPE.

Every time we went someplace that had red geraniums, she would tell me she hated geraniums and would never have them in her garden.  Mom hated geraniums because her step-mother had them all over her childhood house.  She would wake up in the middle of the night thinking she was eating geraniums.

 

As an adult, every time I walked by a geranium, I would think, it was such an ugly flower.  Who would want that in their garden.  I also didn’t like the thick velvet greenery.

A few days ago, while searching for some flowers at the nursery, I noticed these beautiful lavender and pink striped flowers.  They were gorgeous! As I put my hand out to pick them up, I saw the name–GERANIUM!

It suddenly dawned on me that I was prejudice against geraniums!  Why did I think they were bad?  I had nothing against them.  I never got the taste of them in my mouth.  But there I was…hating what I really didn’t know.

If my mother would have thought that she instilled any prejudice in me, she would be mortified.

It also is very telling how easy it is to develop a prejudice from childhood and carry it into adult hood.  (Careful what we say in front of our kids–that off-the-cuff remark may stay with them for a lifetime.)

I now have geraniums dotting my garden landscape.

And, I apologize profusely to the geraniums of the world for any harm that I may have done.

 

I Missed the “Old” Celebration

We have all heard about months that we are to celebrate or to honor ideas or individuals.Of course, I’ve heard of June Dairy Month. Hey, remember, I grew up on a dairy farm.

Then, there is Keep America Beautiful Month, American Heart Month, Black History Month and Children’s Dental Month, just to name a few, but I just found out that May is National Older American Month?

(Of course, I missed it, since I’m talking about it in June.)

I have been an older American for quite a while and I have known many older Americans, but I never knew there was a month to honor them, I mean us.

As anyone who knows me, once I find something that intrigues me, I have to look it up and find the history behind it.

Holy Cow!   They have been celebrating older people since 1963!   But they were called Senior Citizens then.

President Kennedy was the first to declare that May would be called Senior Citizens month.

In 1963, there were not many older Americans.  The majority of the Americans were in their prime and busy MAKING BABIES!  There were a lot of babies.  They called us  Baby Boomers.   In 1963, only 17 million adults had reached the age of 65.  The very sad part about the Baby Boomer’s grandparents, is that one third of them lived in POVERTY.

Well, in 2018, the Administration on Aging still promotes May as Older American Month.  The theme this year was Engage at Every Age.

Many of the Older Americans I know have been engaged at every age.  In my Older American group, we are very much engaged.  This off the wall idea must have come from some whipper-snapper.

One of the activities that they want us to do, is impart our wisdom.

I have been trying to impart my wisdom to my children for years.  I impart, but their hearing is impaired.  They don’t listen to my wisdom very well.  I am sure many others have experienced the same issues.   The person who came up with that idea, was a wise old coot with no children.

There is good news!

The good news is that Older Americans are doing much better than our counter parts in the 60’s.  In fact, in the past 50 years, the poverty level of those 65 and over has dropped from 30% to 10%!

We have more power in numbers.  Now, there are 46 million of us compared to 17 million in 1963.

Yes, the good news is that we are not poor, but us poor souls are continuing to support our children.  There are some statistics about how many millennials live with their parents.   One report says 50 % and other says 1 in 3 are still living with mom and dad.  That is a major drain on the Older Americans.  We need to keep working longer to support the millennials.

But, there is light at the end of the tunnel.  By 2030, there will be 78 million people over the age of 65.  That number will be greater than the number of children.

I hope that by 2030, the millennials will have moved out and they will be supporting their children, AND, they will be supporting all the Older Americans.   I really don’t believe they will give us monetary support, but at least emotional support. Maybe by then, they will be willing to listen to our wisdom.

As we ponder about how our children will support us, we have to remember, that every May we will be acknowledged.

MAY IS OUR MONTH!!

But May?  I got news for you, us Older Americans are not in the Spring of our lives.

I think for many of us it is LATE, LATE, LATE FALL.

 

What Happens When a 77 Year-Old Plays a 3 Year-Old?

All three years old love to run and jump and play–non-stop!

Most 77 year-olds like to sit, relax, laze in the sun, and take long afternoon naps.

 We all know older men tend to grumble a lot and their low voice sometimes sounds like a growl, particularly when they are tired.

The three year-old loves to hear her high pitched voice and shouts it over and over and over hoping someone will listen to her and play with her. She especially wants the 77 year-old to play with her.

They try to play hide and seek, but the 77 year old is too tired to look for a good hiding place and he is found much too quickly. He growls as the three year-old jumps up and down and shouts.

 

The little one is always picking things off the floor and the older one is constantly trying to take it out of her mouth.  It is like a tug of war, that is either won by the three year-old because she just has too much energy, or the angry retort from the 77 year-old stops her in her tracks.

And the problem is, they are making my office their playground.  I am trying to write and their constant chatter puts me over the edge.

But I noticed last Sunday when the three year old wasn’t around, the 77 year-old moped around all day.

 

He kept looking for the younger one thinking she was playing hide and seek. He never found her.  It was a sad day.

The house was even too quiet for me, too.

 

Max is 8 inches tall.  He is a Toy Fox Terrier.  Dakota is a Siberian Husky, and at only three months towers over Max.  She loves to lay her leg across Max’s back pretending they are friends, but Max usually isn’t in the mood for a hug.

Max, my 77 year-old, (in dog years, but 11 in people years) spends most of his time growling, disciplining, and arguing with Dakota.  Dakota is three years old in dog years and three months in people years.  Dakota spends her time chasing, barking and irritating Max as much as she can.

Yes, they are “playing” in MY office.  Yes, Max is always that noisy.

It looks like they are going to kill each other with their mouths wide open, but believe me, they are just trying to prove whose mouth is bigger.

And worst of all..

These are not my dogs! I just get to babysit them both!!!!