Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Playing Eighteen

I had the pleasure of spending last week with my sister who makes me laugh until I am crying, hacking and peeing.  Amongst our laughing this week, came this gem of a story. I so wish I could take credit for it, but this bit of genius goes out to her friend, Annie.

My sister Betsy’s good friend, Annie and her husband, Mark, had come up to Traverse City for their annual “Up North” vacation.  On one of those days, the tradition is for Annie and Betsy to spend a day at the pool lounging.  That’s what they do.  So, a few days before their rondevouz, Betsy received a text from Annie:


Betsy replied: OMG!  What’s wrong?


Betsy:  That’s great - clears the way for us to sit by the pool.


The all caps should signal that Annie was PISSED!

When Betsy and Annie finally hooked up that Saturday, Annie shared the following story. Please picture a small, dark haired fireball with a slight yiddish lilt.

“So, we were sitting with Mike and Patty the other night at The Lake Inn having a nice dinner -  broiled fish, light but still filling.  Anyway, they start talking about playing golf.  The good courses, the difficult courses, their best and worst shots.  Well, anyone who knows me KNOWS I loathe golf.  Don’t play, don’t watch, don’t care so I checked out. But these three people, unbeknownst to me, had the NERVE to make a golf date for the FOUR OF US on our last Saturday of vacation without even asking me if I wanted to join them.

So Mike and Patty showed up today about an hour before Tee time and I announced that I would not be joining them for the game.

There was silence.  Blank stares.

Patty asked, ‘Why not?’  So I pasted a big ass smile on my face and reminded her, I dont play golf, I don’t watch golf and I don’t like golf.  To which Mark and Mike both said they thought I could drive the cart and watch. AND WATCH!? Doesn’t that sound fun?

I told them I would happily meet them for dinner but would not be going out on the course with them.  Golfing was not something I wanted to do.

Silence. More blank stares.

So I said. ‘Let me put it in terms you might understand.  Lets say all four of us go to the Grand Traverse Mall.  Shopping, now that’s something I enjoy doing. We can go to eighteen different stores where I can search for an incredible outfit. . .one in each store.  Then, I’ll go try it on while you guys watch.  You can clap for me when I come out of the dressing room and model for you.  Doesn’t that sound fun?


Mark finally spoke, ‘Tell Betsy I say hi!’ and he lead the golfing group out the door.”

Point made.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

It's Everywhere

My husband comes by it honestly.  You know, that penchant for exaggeration?  His mother suffered from the same affliction.  A bleeding hang nail was hemorrhaging.  If someone spoke pointedly, they were hollering at her.  We learned early on to put it through a reality filter.  My husband and his oldest brother are the same only their targeted victims are the family pets.  Their favorite phrase?  It's EVERYWHERE!

My husband is convinced that the animals in our household intentionally make messes to irritate him.  He is so convinced of this that he has, on many occasions, mistaken something as simple as a wet leaf for a dog pile.  "Your dog pooped all over the basement," he will announce in disgust as he comes upstairs.  If I laugh he follows with, "It's EVERYWHERE."  To which I will dutifully go downstairs and find three or four leaves that came in on paws scattered around the floor looking for all the world like wet leaves not piles of poo. 

You can interchange my husband for my brother-in-law and the conversation is the same.  It's become a code for us Coltman women when we think our spouses are going overboard.
 We will roll our eyes and say, "It's EVERYWHERE."

Last week my husband, Moondoggy, got a true dose of what everywhere really means.

It is important to know that we have two dogs.  Moose, our Bichon is almost twelve, wise and sneaky.  Our Goldendoodle, Porter, is a puppy - eleven months old.  He is the happiest dog on earth and he will tell you so every minute of every day.  He's never really been in trouble so he has no frame of reference for "naughty".

We were in the final phases of moving with the house clear of all furniture when we decided to go out for supper.  These changes had caused some agitation with the dogs to which Moose reacted by moving one of the gates just enough to escape into the basement and torment Porter who could not fit through the small opening.  As furniture disappeared, we were forced to come up with different ways to keep the gate in place. So, on one of our last nights, Moondoggy hauled in a 5 gallon bucket with my basil and thyme plants and set it in front of the gate.  We were gone no more than an hour.  When we returned, I entered to find the basil and thyme pulled from the bucket and the partially eaten plants strewn across the hardwood floor among clumps of dirt. The gate had been moved just enough so that Moose could go downstairs while Porter was stuck in the kitchen.  As I looked around at the mess, I could see Moose giving me that look that said, "Don't blame me, I was downstairs."  I didn't say a word and quietly swept then vacuumed the floor as Dave shook his head, his lips pursed, holding in his mounting anger.

The next night we again headed out to grab some food.  This time, we had a heavily packed box that we dragged in front of the gate, certain that it would do the trick.  We were gone four hours.  Upon return, I opened the door and peaked inside.

The lower cabinet lazy susan was pushed open.  From the cabinet had been pulled a twp pound bag of confectioners sugar and the remnants of a five pound bag of flour.  They had been gutted.  They had been dragged across the room.  They had been been deposited in every nook and cranny available, on the walls, in the cabinet grooves. The happiest dog in the world greeted me at the door, tongue hanging out. It was as if he was saying, "Look!  Look what we found!  Watch.  If I roll in it and shake I can make a cloud.  If I get a running start, I can slide across the floor and if I lick it, it sticks to my fur.  I LOVE this! Come!  Roll in the sweet white stuff with me!"  Moose, on the other hand was cowering in the corner.  He knew he was busted because he is the animal that knew how to open the lazy susan in the first place.

I turned to Moondoggy who was hyper-ventilating and said, "See THIS?  THIS is everywhere."

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

What's a Girl Gotta Do?

If I were to simply list the stats for the past two weeks, you might think I am a fairly avid athlete.  I have run about 27 miles, walked close to 10 miles, biked 23 miles and participated in 3 sessions of water aerobics and lap swim.  Impressive for a 52 year old woman who believes beaches are for lolling, not volleyball.  

I began the whole run thing last September in an attempt to shore up my heart.  My family heart history errs to the side of weak and I wanted to beat the odds. . .and drop some weight.  I have been successful at both.  My resting heart rate is in the mid 40s, I've lost a significant amount of weight and in the process have become addicted to running.  Bravo.

So, here is the problem.  My resting heart rate (which I already mentioned) is at the same level as a Lance Armstrong type. . .which would be great if I was in the same physical shape.  I'm not and I've had that heart rate for several years, so really there has been no change.  I still have high blood pressure and always will (thanks, Dad, Grandpa, etc.). I have high cholesterol (same family). I have made a concerted effort to accurately and honestly write down everything I eat and drink (and yes, that includes the 2-3 glasses of wine on Fridays with my friends).  I literally cut most restaurant meals in half and take the other half home.  That being said on MOST days (sometimes you have to live a little) I stay between 12-1500 calories a day.  You would think I would be completely transformed.  Yeah, you would think.

So, I look in the mirror and assess.  What do I see?  I don't cast as large a shadow (credit to Ralph for that phrase), but it's still the same body.  Still round, still fat.  This is where I will tell you that it's ok.  I am happy with the achievement, accepting of a body that carries genetics beyond my control.  I am at peace.

But, that would be a lie.  

I can't leave on that sour note so I will let you in on a secret.  It is my summer cocktail-- low calorie, yummy and effective.

Hole in One

If you enjoy an Arnold Palmer (lemonade and ice tea sweet). . .this will kick it up.

1 packet Crystal Light lemonade
2 oz Seagrams Sweet Tea Vodka
1 large tumbler

Mix the Crystal Light (I like mine stronger so I use about 2/3 C. water to mix) with water.  Add ice.  Pour vodka over the top, mix and enjoy.  132 calories.

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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

On The Soapbox: Marriage, Race and God

I don't normally climb up on my soap box and preach, but this week I have three times been poked just hard enough to make that climb.  I am sure I will get a lot of hacked off readers for this, but the beauty of it all is I really don't care.

I loathe politics.  I am neither red or blue and I think politicians lie.  The other day I read some diatribe written by some dude that proclaims to be just to the right of republican.  His beef?  Gay marriage.  I refuse to reassemble his arguments here but suffice it to say his bottom line is that gay marriage is sick, immoral and disobedient to God. His platform included a proclamation to Republicans that if they were true Republicans, they would agree.  I don't remember the guy's name and I wouldn't print it if I did because I do not want to support anything he says.  If I were a Republican, I would be appalled that he is single handedly undermining the more relevant issues of the Republican platform.  I would stand up for the more critical issues of my party and leave love alone.  Love is not heterosexual and it is not partisan.

Cheerios has a commercial where a little girl asks her mom if Cheerios is good for the heart because daddy said it was.  The mother confirms - yes it is.  The little girl then goes to her father napping on the couch and pours a box of Cheerios on his chest (knowing that is where his heart is located.)  Cute?  You bet.  I love that commercial.  I saw it at least three times before it registered that the couple is bi-racial and the beautiful little girl is of mixed race.  I loved the commercial even more.  However, there has been a very public backlash against this commercial - name calling, complaints, outright proclamations of disgust.  I am shocked and disappointed. I thought we, humanity, had evolved from that.  And I wonder - IF the parents were both Caucasian and the little girl bi-racial;  the unspoken message that the couple had adopted her, would it THEN be acceptable?  Love isn't race specific.

Finally, I had a discussion with a friend who is heavily involved in her church.  I admire her dedication to her church family, I respect her deeply held beliefs.  She believes that those who have not accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior as the ONLY way to salvation are damned to hell. And that's where we part.  I believe in God but I no longer attend any churches or belong to a specific religion.  I was once asked by a pastor why I had not become a member of the church I attended for quite a few years.  I told him that I could not stand up and proclaim that Jesus is the ONLY way to God.  I cannot believe that a loving God would create so many vastly different, beautiful people and cultures, so many different belief systems, only to make the sweeping majority wrong in the end.  The more I think about it, the more I feel like organized religion is a function of the mortal demand to manage God.  If God is love, He loves us all.

I do not feel a need to back-up my beliefs with Bible quotes, philosophical arguments or political facts.  It's what I believe and I don't have to justify it to anyone.  That is freedom.

Judi Coltman is an author of mystery books.  She is currently working on her fourth novel.  Follow her at 
Facebook , JudiColtman.com
Books available by clicking on the covers in the sidebars.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Enjoying The Second Act

The first time I heard that phrase was out of the mouth of Frankie Heck, the mother on "The Middle."  I love that show - a show about an average family with average kids who have quirks and ego and the ability to blend into the wall paper (Sue Heck reminds me of me except she has the guts to try out for everything and I tried out for nothing.)  In one recent episode Frankie is let go of her car sales job and is faced with figuring out what she should do, "What," she asked, "should I do for my Second Act?"  A second act, the chance to do something completely different, a frightening prospect or an opportunity? 

I was faced with the same decision about five years ago.  Due to an unfortunate set of circumstances, I resigned from my position with our local school district and was faced with the question, "What next?" For me, the question wasn't dire.  I am fortunate to have a family situation that allows me to indulge my creativity.  I had time to test the waters, paint, draw and write.  The truth is, if asked, I always wanted to write a book.  I was not unfamiliar with the "writing" world having worked for various publications in the 80s and 90s before shifting to the world of elementary education (which, by the way, has the schedule most conducive to parenting).  I have written pieces on point of purchase advertising, the benefits of end cap displays, unique sales incentives and many a piece on Nuclear Power.  Is your mouth dry yet?  That was NOT what I wanted to go back to writing.  With some gentle prodding from my youngest child (who told me to get off my ass and write a book), I took the intrepid step.  

My first book is a series of humorous essays based on my life and observations.  It was an experiment.  If I could float that, then I could go for what I really wanted to do. . .write fiction.  Is It Just me? or Is Everyone a Little Nuts not only floated, it sailed and still continues to enjoy numerous sales each month.  With that under my belt, I endeavored to write a novel.  In The Name of The Father was inspired by an incident that occurred while on vacation in Virginia Beach and it blossomed into mystery/thriller.

My latest novel, No Such Thing, is a fictional account of a child killer based on events that happened in Michigan on the 70s.  It is both dark and sad but there is a healthy dose of redemption as well.  I am proud of all of my books but, this one, in particular came from deep within.  Amazon chose No Such Thing out of 10,000 entries to be a quarter finalist in its Breakthrough Novel Award.  I am proud of that, too.  The letters I have received from readers along with reviews are remarkable and evidence that I hit a nerve.  Sales of late have been so-so. I'm ok with that.  The feedback I have received has more than validated that I have done a good job.

So, my second act?  I can now say with confidence, I am a writer.

If you have any interest in my books, click on the covers and they should take you to the Amazon links.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Ain't Life Grand?

My neighbor is an energetic woman, a nurse, an avid walker, a gardener.  She is trim and attractive as well as active. She is often seen playing Pickle Ball with kids in the yard. 

Her garden, though, is her hallmark.  Packed with perennials that start with crocus and daffodils before the snows have melted away, she has a pallet of ever-changing colors blooming through October.  Trees, flowers, and grasses explode like summer fireworks expanding in the sky before they slowly die out to make room for the next show of color.  Sitting in my sunroom, I mark the changing seasons by the state of her garden. 

I think my next door neighbor has a boyfriend.  I first noticed something going on a few weeks ago.  A silver pick-up would drive slowly by several times a day.  Up the street, down the street, moving at a snail's pace, the pick-up once slowed to a stop in front of her house before driving away.  

Spring has been slow to arrive this year.  Snow, heavy rain, cold temperatures and winds have forced the intrepid crocus and bold daffodils to hide out a bit longer.  Last week, a break in the weather brought her out to the garden.  She assessed its state, trudged to her shed and pulled out the tools of her passion.  She only worked for a few minutes before she disappeared into the house.  Perhaps an hour later, she reappeared, a man following behind.  She led him to the shed and I watched as he pulled out the heavier gardening equipment and together, they worked the garden.  He followed her cues and instructions and slowly the garden was cleaned up and ready for spring.  They laughed together, worked quietly together and then she led him to the memorial stone the neighbors bought to remember her deceased husband.  He stood in respect.  He put his arm around her and gave her a hug and then they walked back to the house where he started the grill while she retired to the kitchen to prep burgers.
They ate out on the deck.  In her driveway, a silver pick-up.

My neighbor is in her mid 70s.  Ain't life grand?

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Sacrificial Dinner(s)

My 31st wedding anniversary is fast approaching.  I married Moondoggy, my high school sweetheart thirty-one years ago and I have never regretted that decisions ever.  He has never done anything so heinous, stupid or thoughtless that I can't overlook.  Except maybe this; last week he called me "Gran".  Not because we are grandparents (we aren't. . .yet) but because I shared information with him that he apparently decided was reminiscent of his own grandmother whom they called Gran.

Gran lived with Moondoggy, his mom and his brothers - his mom was her caretaker.  Gran was wheelchair bound but got around the house by walking her feet along the floor as her body, in the chair, followed.  Gran liked being self sufficient and therefore could be found in the kitchen often frying various foods for meal.  She would put whatever food in a frying pan with a little Crisco and fry it up.  Food like peas; frozen peas, that when they hit the hot pan actually spit flames and burned the kitchen.  But that isn't why he called me Gran.

Once a week, I would have dinner at Moondoggy's house.  A sit down family affair with all four boys and meat, potatoes, vegetables and milk.  During my first meal there, Gran wheeled in, took her spot and looked at me, "Who's this?" she asked in a her gravely, loud 90 year old voice and Moondoggy answered, "It's Judi, Gran.  My girlfriend."

Looking me directly in the eye, she asked, "Ever been to South Dakota?"  I politely replied, "no," and she goes on to tell me she was raised there, lived in a sod house as a little girl, hard work, snakes, outhouses.  I sat and listened without eating as she spoke to me - because my parents taught me to be polite. No one else said a word, apparently enjoying their food.

The next week, I was back.  Gran wheels in as we take out seats and asks, "Who's this?"  Dave answers as he did the week previous.  Then she asks, "Ever been to South Dakota?" And we repeat the same scene again, no one saying a word as she spoke.  This time, I snuck in a few bites of dinner as everyone else enjoyed their full meal.

The next week was like someone had hit "Rewind" and then "Play."  This time as Gran asked the opening question and Moondoggy identified me and she began to ask if I had ever been to South Dakota, I looked around the table seeking asylum from Moondoggy, any one of his three brothers - even his mom.  I looked at them with pleading eyes, "Help me, here."  And this is what happened:

I looked at Moondoggy and he dropped his head as if studying his plate before starting to eat.  Then I looked at both of his older brothers who both dropped their heads, fully "occupied" with the meal. I looked at his little brother, well schooled apparently as he pushed corn around his plate.  I looked at their mother, the daughter of Gran, the one I thought I could count on to understand.  She, too, dropped her head and began to eat.  Again, Gran posed the question, "Ever been to South Dakota?"  and I am stuck answering and listening like a scene from Ground Hogs Day while everyone enjoys their meal fully aware that I, alone, am making it possible.  They've heard the story, they tell me with their actions, you're on your own.

Last week while driving down the road that hugs a river, I thought I would point out the most recent eagle's nest I discovered on the route.  As we approached, I explained that if you look carefully, you can see the male sitting in the nest, his white head popped above the rim.  I spoke with animation and admiration.  They were on the Endangered Species list, you know.  Moondoggy reached over, grabbed my hand and said in his best gravely voice, "Ever been to South Dakota?"

Point Taken.


Publisher's Weekly reviewed by book, No Such Thing as it was submitted to the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA).  A Quarter Finalists, this is what PW said:

ABNA Publishers Weekly Reviewer
Young boys are disappearing in Detroit, boys with no families or homes. Boys like Tim, who skateboards in a store parking lot nearly every day. But one Fall afternoon, this proves to be the wrong choice. The killer is never found, but this novel creates a scenario to explain what might have happened. Sydney, newly divorced, has come home to Detroit to write a book about the Purple Gang, a notorious mob of bootleggers from Detroit’s Prohibition Era. She decides to rent the house where she spent part of her childhood and where her mother went mad; the house where her family stopped being a unit after her mother was committed to a mental institution. Then Sydney begins to hear voices. Are these the very ghosts her mother swore existed? Or is she plagued with her mother’s problem? Part ghost story, part thriller, this book engages from the first paragraph. Set in modern day Detroit, the city becomes a character of the novel. Sydney’s detailed memory provides quite a comparison between the city where she grew up and the Detroit of the present. The plot -- woman goes home to find answers only to find more questions, danger, and murder -- has a fantastic spin with the addition of paranormal activity. The characters Sydney, Tim, Jack -- Sydney’s brother -- and Thor -- Sydney’s dog -- are brilliantly developed with strong individual voices. The points of view of Sydney and Jack reflect the different truths experienced by two children raised under the same roof. The house itself becomes a spirit to be reckoned with. This superb story has many layers and well developed characters and makes for thrilling reading.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Grandma Has a Crush on Steven Tyler

My grandmother died in the early 80s.  She was a not a cuddly woman by any means, she was stoic and proper. She was unusual in that she was the wife of a retired naval captain, well traveled and a professor of music at USC in the mid 1920s.  She was not so unusual in that she tended toward a rounded figure, wore polyester dresses with matching jackets and covered buttons, sensible shoes and had a standing appointment at the hairdresser for bluing, wash, curl and comb out.  She looked like a typical old lady. This picture is necessary to understand something I recently experienced.

Moondoggy and I became the recipients of two tickets to see the Ten Tenors at the McCallum Theater in Palm Desert, CA.  It was a matinee show attracting an abundance of elderly people there to enjoy the remarkable talent these men showcase.  And so, we sat in our seats mid theater and as I waited for the show to begin, I surveyed the crowd.  In the box seat that hovered over stage left, there was a woman, sitting ram rod straight, pocketbook on her lap. hair newly styled with a bluish gray cast.  She was the spitting image of my grandmother.The house lights went down, stage lights up and the Ten Tenors came out singing something from some opera.  I don't know because I was mesmerized by this lady in the box.  Like the Queen of England, she offered her rapt attention as they crooned several songs.

The Ten Tenors are a blend of voices that create incredible sound whether it is an operatic piece or contemporary artists.  As the show continued they moved from pieces like Ave Maria to Elton John, the Beatles and even Aerosmith.  Their rendition of "Yesterday" was compelling and had the audience singing along.  I looked up and yep, even the grandma was moving her lips.  They transitioned to Elton John and I noticed the grandma actually swaying and clapping in time to the music as they sang.  It made me happy to know that she could appreciate the contemporary as well as the classical stuff.  Then, one of the Tenors announced their last song,"Love in an Elevator" by Aerosmith.  Uh oh, I thought, this may be where grandma leaves.

Several colored lights swirled across the stage as the guys regrouped and started to sing.  And when that happened, this crowd of matinee going senior citizens went crazy.  People stood, they danced, they swayed.  I looked at the grandma in the box seat and I swear to all that is true in the world, she was not only singing and playing air guitar as she was draping her pink polyester suited body over the railing, she screamed, "I love Steven Tyler" and then took out her iphone and produced a "flame" from her lighter app.

Well, I was stunned, to say the least.  I was impressed that this older crowd had such an appreciation of "MY" music.  Then I realized, perhaps these older people weren't appreciating my music. . .they were enjoying THEIR music which makes all of us old, I guess.

My book, No Such Thing has been selected as a Quarter Finalist in
The Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award!

A Free sample is available here:

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Confession of a March Madness Housewife

I have a confession.  I am a March Madness addict.  I come by it honestly though.  My grandfather was a well loved basketball coach (Danville HS, 1950 State Tournament Final Two) and co-wrote a book on the subject, Fundamentals and Techniques For Winning Basketball.  Decades after he retired, he would still stand in front of the TV during a game and pace as if he were still coaching.  It was how he watched the game.  My father played the game.  This time of year we base our social interactions between games.  Priorities. 

I come by it honestly.  I have, however bastardized my own fanaticism into a shorter season.  I haven't watch pro BB since the Bulls were on top.  I don't pay too much attention to the college season.  In fact, I have always maintained that the most exciting part of the game is in the last 10 minutes.  For that reason, I don't care to watch the first half of any game.  What's the point?  I know I am going to get a lot of rebounds from that, but truly, what does the first half do but waste time, tire out the players and frustrate the fans?  If they could just cut it to the last 10 minutes, the 3 weeks of March Madness could be no more than 5 days.  Ok, I realize I am not taking into account the dollars generated in advertising et. al.  I get it.  I'm just sayin' is all.

I have my bracket all filled out and ready to go.  I don't get into a pool anymore.  I hate losing money.  So, instead, I happily fill out my bracket and doggedly follow the games, circling my winners and exing out my losers.  I base my picks on the science of emotion.  I am a Michigan girl, I always pull the Michigan teams to the second round, at least.  I like the east coast better as a general rule so I always favor the teams from that side of the country.  And I always choose Gonzaga to go to the final 4.  Gonzaga.  I love saying it, love the way it sounds.  So, there you go.  I won't reveal my other picks for the final four, that is between me and my bracket. I will get excited, I will have disappointments and I will behave just like my dad and grandfather.  I'm proud of that. I just wish it wasn't three full weeks.

My book, No Such Thing has been selected as a Quarter Finalist in
The Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award!

A Free sample is available here:

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Tape a Cheetah to My Back

My Inner Athlete used to be very active: skiing, kickboxing, biking, weights, you name it she was doing it until sometime in the early 2000s.  Then, she saw the light and instead of attempting to shame me into joining her (it didn't work. . .I know my place-- it's
 on the beach. . .in a chair), she joined me.  Together we'd hit the sand, lie back and relax, sip wine.  It was a happy union.
I'm not sure what Inner Athlete has been spiking my wine with, but our relationship has changed without my even realizing it.  I have been duped.  Last August I started "running" using the Couch to 5K program; a program that turns you into a runner in spite of yourself and I have surpassed the 5K mark - heading toward 10K.  All of this has happened while IA stood on the sidelines with her back to me, glass in hand, pretending she didn't even notice.  She didn't say a word about it, just continued to sip wine with me, lamenting the winter months and yearning for sun.  DIDN'T SAY A WORD. . .until I needed new running shoes and then she started peppering my speech with words like "pressure sensors" and "mid-strike", whispering in my ear to buy the "good" running shoes because my feet would thank me (and they have).

Inner Athlete re-emerged in full force last weekend while in California. She grabbed my hand and dragged me full speed down the road to watch a triathalon.  The participants swim through the local lake, bike through a 14 mile course and run 3 miles to finish.  I stood on the corner as these athletes came riding by in all ages, shapes and sizes and the thought that I can do this quietly presented itself.  IA whispered in my ear, "Yessss, you caaannn."  I pondered the idea, concerned about my speed. . .or lack thereof.  I wouldn't do it to win, that's never gonna happen, but I would do it just to do it.  I am a strong swimmer, I love to bike and I can run 3 miles now.  I could do this.

And so I am.  Next year's Desert Triathalon has another participant.  I turned to IA and sneered, "This is all your fault."  She laughed.  I said, "What if I am so slow that they pack up before I am finished?"

She laughed again,"We could always tape a cheetah to your back."

IA is such a smart ass.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Call It What you Will. . .

Menopause.  The Change of Life.  The Critical Period (or really lack thereof).  Whatever you want to call it, I've been ready for it since the day I gave birth to my last child.  No more children; no need for the uterus, the fallopians or ovaries.  I was ready to yank them out and donate them to an organ bank a long time ago.  My gynocologist, however, wasn't in agreement.  So, I toiled on until now.

I've had some symptoms for awhile.  Hot?  All the time (southerners call it "my own personal summer").  Itchy? Check.  But really, the bitchy and forgetful part haven't been so bad. I've been fairly open and ready to poke fun at myself when the sniping bitch rears her head and am quick to spin it back into position. In fact, I pride myself on quick thinking and innovative action.

Last week, a friend dropped by with little notice. I had enough time to pick up the dog toys, put the extra dirty dished in the oven and make a fresh pot of coffee.  And, we had a delightful visit, talking about, of all things, our experiences with The Change.  Her biggest complaint is her swiss cheese memory, which her children are quick to point out when it involves something they claim they have already told her.  You know, things like I'm having fifteen people over tonight, will you cook something?

That evening when Moondoggy came home, I told him of the visit, laughing at the funny stories my friend shared.  I preheated the oven for dinner, then continued the conversation, asking in a somber tone if I had been successful at not being overly moody or bitchy.  Moondoggy assured me, my bitch has been painless and sometimes downright funny.  I felt pretty darn proud of myself.

Proud, until I smelled melting plastic.  The dishes!  I had left them in the oven and forgotten.  My white plastic colander was dripping through the oven grates and pooling on the oven floor at a temperature of 375˚.  The stench overpowering.

I was stunned.  How could I forget?

Moondoggy grabbed his coat and brought me mine.  As he helped me put it on he said, "You know, you only asked about being bitchy, you didn't ask me about how your memory has been."

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

And The Beat Goes On. . .

Often, during the oppressive days of the summers of my youth, the neighbors with pools would run up a flag signaling that the pool was open.  Like vultures, we would ride around the neighborhood, circling, waiting for the flags so we could pedal home and drag our parents to the neighbor's pool.  We would play games: Marco Polo, Shark, Underwater Tea Party.  And when there was nothing left to do, we’d ask our mom  (who had grown up as the oldest child in her family) to “Judge” our underwater handstands.  Enjoying the poolside herself, she would assign arbitrary numbers to our attempts as a form of judgement without using any uniform criteria.  In other words, she was making it up as we went along.  And it worked.  We would repeatedly attempt to better our score.  As the older child, I caught on to what she was doing so that when I got tired, I joined her at the side of the pool and “helped” her continue to judge my little sister until she was thoroughly spent. I knew the game was over.

When my kids were small and bored and looking to expend extra energy, I would tell them to run around the house and I would time them.  I’d sit on the front stoop and when they returned, assign an arbitrary number for which they would then attempt to beat.  Around the period where my oldest could tell time, he caught on to what I was doing so that when he was tired, he would sit with me and check his watch while his younger brother continued to run around the house in attempt to better his time. (In all fairness, youngest did take the State Championship in the 4x400 at the State Track Meet in his junior year of HS.) My oldest son knew the game was over.

Yesterday, a cold, windy, blecky day, I was home.  No longer a child, my own children grown and out of the house, I pulled the same trick on my dogs.  I stood at the top of the steps and tossed a ball down.  The dogs chased the ball, ran it up the steps and I’d toss it again.  Finally, they figured out they could do it all themselves.  Drop the ball, chase it down and return to the top only to drop it again.  My older dog (12 pounds, age 11) kept pace fairly well, but the “baby” (5 months, 28 pounds) has boundless energy.  On the final toss down the steps, the oldest was in the lead, got the ball, returned to the top of the stairs, ran into the living room (with the baby right behind him) and pushed the ball under the couch where neither of them can reach.  Then, he ran back to the stairs and pretended to drop the ball, sending the baby back down the stairs and on a frantic search.  Older dog curled up on the couch. Game over.

Friday, January 18, 2013

To Flu Shot ot Not to Flu Shot?

The flu is running rampant across the country.  Hospitals on the east coast have been flooded and even our own local hospitals here in the midwest have found themselves unable to accept new patients because they are at capacity.  There has been a nationwide clarion call to the GET THE FLU SHOT.  They say, it’s not too late.  This has spawned the anti-flu shot people to rise up in defense.  The arguments are compelling on both sides and I fall squarely on the fence about the whole thing.

I worked in a germ factory (aka elementary school) for 10 years.  In all of those years, I was offered the shot, but only took up the chance once. . .by accident.  How does one allow a needle to plunge into ones arm accidentally? It was offered to kids who were on public aid. The Health Department nurses came to the school and administered them.  One of the kids I escorted to the staging area was scared, tears raining from his eyes.  He pleaded with me to save him.  SAVE HIM!  I told him that I wasn’t a fan of shots either and I admired his bravery in going through with it.  He swelled with the first waves of pride at the thought that a grown-up might be equally scared and he took up the sword for me, “If I do this, you can too!”  He took the shot like a trooper, then got out of the chair and offered it to me, “Ok.  Your turn.”  Well, what could I do?  I coughed up the $9 and filled out the paperwork and, gulp, got a flu shot.  And what happened?  Nothing.  I didn’t get the flu.  I didn’t get the after shot sickness.  I didn’t even catch a cold that year.

In the ensuing years, I chose not to get the shot.  And what happened?  Nothing.  Even the year we were down to 4 or 5 students in a classroom, I did not get the flu.  So, I climbed up on the fence and allowed my friends on either side to extol the virtues of their opinions on intentionally injecting an illness into one’s body.  

This year, the flu has been a pisser.  I did not get the shot. The news has broadcasted of raging fevers, screaming aches and pains, and 3 week recoveries.  I did not get the shot.  Moondoggy gets the shot free at work. And what happened?  Nothing, except we have a vacation planned soon.  People around him at work are dropping like the proverbial flies, he could be bringing those nasty hangers on germs home.  I could catch this thing third party or worse on the plane as all those germs mingle in recycled air.  So, the thought of the flu on a vacation finally pushed me off the fence.

I bashfully walked into CVS and asked for the shot.  I filled out the paperwork and took a seat where?  Where other sick people sit to wait for their meds, of course.  Is there any hand sanitizer around?  No.  Any wipes like at the grocery store?  No.  But, I got the shot.  And now I have to worry for 2-3 weeks that I have been exposed to this heinous strain before the shot is full strength. And what’s happened?  So far, nothing except that I am now a raging germaphobe. All for a vacation?  I’m not sure the stress is worth it. 

I will be hiding out for the next 2 weeks, but then, I’m climbing back on the fence.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Waiting for the First Responders

 Every night before we go to bed, Moondoggy asks if I locked the front door.  I am only mildly offended when he hears me say, "yes" and then checks anyway.  Here is why. . .

During my first year of wedded bliss, approximately nine months were spent alone as my husband was working abroad.  I, on the other hand, was living in Virginia Beach working as the on site manager for a large apartment complex.  Everyone knew Moondoggy was not around, thus, I slept with an axe.  Yes, an axe and no, not to do serious physical harm to the murderer I was sure would be breaking in.  The axe was for breaking the window so I could make my escape.  I hated being alone at night. . .still do, although it got immensely easier when we moved from the big house in the woods to the small house in town.  Within screaming distance I always say.

For thirty years the thought of being alone all night has conjured elaborate scenarios involving me slithering out of bed and slipping under it - which no longer is possible, me using my mad kick boxing skills. me breaking the window for attention and then running like hell..  I have lain awake at night plotting every escape route, strategy and hiding place possible should I be stuck alone and the murderer come a callin'.  So, last night, due to work schedules, Moondoggy had to work an odd midnight shift and there I was, alone.  I wasn't even nervous about it, after all, I do have Moose the Wonder dog.

There I was, minding my own business, sleeping in the middle of the bed with ALL the pillows and my dog, when my ADT alarm beeps the little staccato beat indicating that a door has been opened.  The dog goes nuts barking and leaping off the bed, scrambling headlong into the living room.  I have prepared for this moment for years, I know exactly what to do, self preservation is my middle name.  And what do I do?

I climb out of bed, head down the hall toward the living room where I see the light of a flashlight shining along the floor.  You would think at some point I would have stopped right?  NO!  I keep going, where I come face to face with a man in a dark clothings who, I realized later, was more shocked than I.  
"Oh NO!  Wrong house," he calmly and quickly raises his hands in the air and clearly announces, "We're firemen!  Wrong house!" Like a scene from some slapstick comedy movie, he starts backing up repeating, "We're firemen.  Wrong house.  We're leaving."  Moose is doing his best warning growl (although secretly thinking if one of those guys produced a ball, all bets were off) and just before he closes the door and leaves, I say, "Wait, what's your name?"  He gives it to me (and I am now awake enough that I know who he is).  Then, there was that ghastly smell.  I think Moose might have had a little "nerve" gas.

I flip on the light and there, in the mirror, get a gander at what the intruder was looking at.  I am wearing my best thread bare pair of red Mickey Mouse jammy pants that long ago lost the drawstring.  I am also wearing an old gray tank top.  Gravity hit the girls long about pregnancy time and never left, so, without a bra, a tank top is about the worst look I can have.  My kids have said they need therapy after seeing me in that tank top.  And amazingly, I'm still not scared.

I called Moondoggy at work to relay the humorous tale, calm down, and allow my dog to relax because something smelled awful and I'm pretty sure it is my perfect little dog. Moondoggy was not happy at all and asked me to call the police.  I waffled.  I WAFFLED but acquiesced, dialing 911 assuring the operator It was NOT an emergency but felt it needed reporting.  She did not think it was funny. "Ma'am there have been NO fire calls tonight.  I am going to have an officer stop by."

Well crap!  I've already seen myself in the mirror and, looking around, I realized that I was not prepared for guests.   I quickly threw on a hoodie sweatshirt, fluffed the couch pillows, took my old coffee cup to the kitchen, decided I didn't have time to do dishes so opted to shut that light off and sat down with the shade up to wait for the officer, like it was the most normal thing in the world.  And a minute later he was there.

The young, good looking, former marine was on duty.  I wished I had brushed my hair!  He took some info but offered what he thought had happened:

The next street over in the same location lives a woman who is infirm.  She often makes errant calls to the fire and police stations and sometimes they do midnight service calls to her house.  There is a new driver on duty and he got confused with the streets. . .

As he was telling me this, there was another knock at the door and the two firemen returned after making their call, to apologize again.  All I can think about at that moment was about is my hair, which looks like a tornado!  They had in fact, been doing exactly what the police officer said.  I looked at these three men standing in my living room, one apologizing profusely, one turning redder by the minute (he must be the new driver) and one who now has to make a report about the whole thing and I said, "Next time I'll make coffee and have donuts," to which the police officer, a funny guy, says "Donuts?""   

As they left , I scooped Moose into my arms and took one last look in the mirror, "and I'll even brush my hair,"  I commented to my reflection.  Moose sniffed close to my mouth and jumped away running down the hall.  I smelled that putrid, rotting sour odor again.  It wasn't the dog, it was my breath.  Forget brushing my hair, I should have brushed my teeth.

As for the practiced escape plan?  It went out the window without me.