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!

 

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

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.

HEAVENLY GIFTS

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.

A SIGN FROM ABOVE?

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

CALL FOR HELP?

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?

THIRD OPTION?

GOLF BALL SEEKING REFUGE

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.

SAFE HAVEN

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.

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.?


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE ANSWER:

DISASTER!!!!

 

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.

 

I CAN CHECK THESE OFF MY BUCKET LIST

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.

Conquering My Husband’s Mistress

Water has never been my best friend.

Ok, I can tolerate it for  a shower.  However, it took me a long time to handle a shower because I was used to a tub where the water stayed away from my face.

For Number 1,  water is his mistress–nope not jealous.  He grew up swimming in the blue, balmy waters of the Mediterranean.  If he could choose, he would be a dolphin in his next life.

So, as you can see, this  is a bit of a conundrum for us.

Yes, I learned to swim at the local pool–6 miles from the farm, but…I never put my head in the water.

I do have my reasons.  I can’t stop the water from surging up my nose.  Water funnels deep into my ears and,  of course,  I end up with an ear ache.  Finally,  my glasses were so thick, even as a child, that I couldn’t see underwater, even if I did open my eyes.  Which I never did.

So once we started traveling it was usually to a place with a big body of water.  It would look gorgeous, but…it was always too deep for me to put my feet down on the sand.  i.e. my face would get wet.

I tried.  I dog-paddled a lot.  Yes, I got laughed at.  Yes, he did try to teach me.  But he gave up quickly–he’s smart and he knows a lost cause.

Eventually, I managed the breast stroke with my head above water.  It was a better variation of the dog-paddle.

Oh, and I can swim on my back as long as no one is near me to splash water on my face.

 

Warm, sunny, southern California means there are a lot of pools and a good reason to use them.

Our new home, came fully equipped with a gorgeous pool.

 

As you can see, I am absent from this picture.

 

Believe it or not, my doctor turned me onto this and helped me conquer my husband’s mistress.

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