Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Puberty's Bookend

I considered blogging about my experience reading "What's Happening to Me?" with my 9-year-old son. He sees "THE MOVIE" this spring in school, and I don't want him to be surprised by anything in that movie, so we're taking an educational peek at his body with this book.

But since I told him that the information we're learning is his private business, I should follow my own words and keep it private too. (Could you imagine how you'd feel if your crazy mother posted that conversation for the world to read?) Plus, the details of the experience are some that I don't want some internet pervert -- not you, my dear reader -- getting his hands on. So to speak.

So instead, I'm going to blog about "What's Happening to Me". I assure you no perv will find this very interesting.

ME (a few years ago): Doctor, my monthly menses is behaving like a broken water main, and it lasts for about 10 days. Ten days before the flood, I'm all cramped up, my head spins around, and bad words spew from my mouth. So that leaves me about a week of feeling normal every month.

DOCTOR: Uh huh.

ME: And everything I eat other than vegetables shows up as another pound on the scale the next day. And I’m tired a lot. Maybe we should check my thyroid.

DOCTOR: We can, but I don't think it's your thyroid.

ME: Then there's the IBS that sneaks up on me, usually at restaurants. It's so embarrassing, not to mention gross.

DOCTOR: All sounds like perimenopause to me.


What the hell? Perimenopause? Sure, I've heard all about regular menopause in your 50s, but what's with the peri? Nobody warns you that this is what the 40s bring you. So I'm here to warn you. The 40s are definitely not the new 30s. Did I tell mention that a chunk of my tooth fell off a couple weeks ago?

My experience may not be yours, so of course you’ll keep that in mind. But nearly every time the subject of “Why am I so crazy?” comes up in conversation, other women my age are almost always standing on the same cliff.

Those in the know say its hormones. I agree. But what I don’t get is why are those hormones acting up 10 years early? Is it all a biological way to prepare you for the Big Show? The bookend to puberty?

I’m confident in the hormone theory because I’ve luckily been able to control most of my issues with estrogen-laden contraceptives pills -- the “extended-regimen” kind that you take for three months straight before taking a week off and allowing your uterus to shed. You’d think the pills were Paxil the way they calm down my systems.

The pills don’t make the belly fat go away, however. In fact, I'm pretty certain they add to it. Since turning 40 almost four years ago (about when I started taking those pills), I’ve gained 5 permanent pounds each year or so. A doctor-expert on some morning show recently said that belly fat is even harder to get rid of once menopause hits. So I apparently have to work hard to dispose of it now. But as you might have noticed, I called them permanent pounds because they don’t seem to have any intention of leaving no matter what I do.

Sidebar: I once suggested to Husband that the blubber around my waist was a badge of honor for carrying three babies. “Nice try,” he replied.

Aside from medication, more exercise, a healthy diet, and less alcohol and caffeine are likely keys to managing this peri business. (They solve all other health issues, don’t they?) I’ve cut back significantly on red meat and while it has yet to be proven, I think my digestive system is happier. Then there’s the 18 months of
psychotherapy in which I invested. For that, I think my emotional system is happier.

Despite the negatives of these disagreeable yet inevitable changes, it has been my experience that the 40s are a fascinating time of self discovery. You finally realize that all the superficial bullshit out there is irrelevant and that everyone else is nuts. The only thing that really matters is in your heart and in your home.

Be careful of your head though. If you’re in your 40s, your brain is probably bathed by hormones that make you nuts too. So good luck with that.

(748 words)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Tough As Old Nails

On my Meals on Wheels route this morning, I was once again reminded how much I enjoy old people. Most of them. Not the grumpy kind. But as you might imagine, the people receiving the meals I deliver are always happy to see me and grateful that I've stopped by.

Vermont seniors -- the ones that don't move south -- are a tough, proud, independent, practical bunch. Most are probably former farmers with conservative political views. They have their own dialect and a noticeable accent, to be sure. And though this is a little stereotypical, the men wear old baseball (Red Sox or Yankees) or farm equipment caps and the women are likely to be quilters or some other type of crafter. Or famous for pies.

Today, when I drove into Mr. Maynard's yard, I noticed his ice fishing shanty behind his garage. Its paint was in better condition than his house's, and it was set on a pair of old skis. Mr. Maynard is 89 and can't hear very well. I know he's home because I can hear his TV blaring -- and I'm outside his trailer.

"Come on in. I got a story for ya," he says.

So I went in and turned down the TV so I could hear him.

"Did ya see my shanty out back? Well a few weeks ago, it was anchored out on the ice. We didn't do a very good job tyin' 'er down though. On that day when we had those 50-mile mile-an-hour winds, she broke off the anchor and slid away on those skis," he told me.

"How far away did you find it?" I ask.

"Oh, about three miles," he answers.

We laughed together. I mostly laughed at his telling of the story. It lit him up. But I was also highly entertained by the image of a runaway ice shanty and this nearly 90-year-old man, who hobbles to the door to collect his meal, chasing around Lake Champlain looking for it.

He told me a few more fishing stories, adding all sorts of old-man color, and he asked me to let him take my kids fishing.

"It'd be like a vacation to me. I'd love to teach those kids of yers. It'd get me out of these four corners, ya know?"


I coordinate the delivery of Meals for my town and sub when drivers can't make it. Every Monday, for probably the past ten years, two women, Betty and Shirley, have delivered the meals. One is in her upper 70s and the other in her 80s.

One really cold winter day, when the temps were below zero, I called Shirley and offered to help drive because it was really cold and snowy, and I have a four-wheel drive pickup truck that can get places their sedan might not.

"Shirley, do you want some help delivering meals today?" I ask.

"What for?"

"Well, it's pretty cold and blowy today, and I have a truck."

"Oh no, we don't need any help. We'll do just fine."

"Well make sure you wear your long johns," I remind her.

"Oh, I don't have any long johns. I don't need those."


I have no idea how someone lives for 80 years in Vermont without a pair of long johns. Like I said, they're a tough, independent old bunch.

(557 words)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

It's Wild Out There

OMG. I can't keep up with the blogsphere. Even if you just peek a little under the blog covers, you'll see that it's mania out there. It goes like this: You read a blog you like. Then you read a blog or two that they like. And you realize your own blog is so far from original. And that there are maybe hundreds of clever blogs out there that you should read daily. But you have, a job, kids, significant other, pets, yard, dentist appointments, socks to knit, birthday parties, meals to deliver, and so on.

Then you see that bloggers give each other awards, they have contests and memes and long lists of followers and comments. They link to each other's blogs to keep the web spinning. Some take donations, some host meet-and-greets. It's mind boggling. I wonder if anyone has started a Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon of blogs to how deep this all really is.

Personally, this begs the question: How far do you want to go with this, Patty? How much are you willing to let this into your life?

Clearly, with two blogs, I'm a willing and eager participant. I appreciate followers and comments (and emails from those who don't comment), and Naturelady even gave me an "If life gives you lemons, make lemonade" award:

(Thank you!)

But at the end of the day, I remind myself of my initial reasons for writing: to stay connected to faraway family and friends, myself, and my place. I really can't put the time into becoming a blog celebrity, omniscient commenter, meme breeder, or clever designer. Plus, if you read my therapy blog last month, you know that I'm all about keepin' it calm. So on those days, I'm not even interesting.

So I'm just going to stay nice and peaceful over here in my two tiny blog hideouts and continue to unload my mind when it fills up and hope that you, reader, find some enjoyment or connection in my musings. Whew. Glad I got that cleared up.

(344 words)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

In One Word

My friend Amy sent me this...it is both a little challenging and enlightening...

ANSWER USING ONLY ONE WORD! It's not as easy as you might think! Copy and change the answers to suit you and pass it on.

1 Where is your cell phone? coat
2. Your significant other? Tom
3. Your hair? straight
4. Your mother? nurturing
5. Your father? absent
6. Your favorite thing? kids

7. Your dream last night? blank
8. Your favorite drink? Coke
9. Your dream/goal? teach
10. What room you are in? family

11. Your hobby? gardening
12. Your fear? gore
13. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Vermont

14. Where were you last night? home
16. Muffins? blueberry
17. Wish list item? fence

18. Where you grew up? Michigan
19. Last thing you did? shower
20. What are you wearing? jeans
21. Your TV? off
22. Your pets? needy
23. Friends? scattered
24. Your life? lucky
25. Your mood? Calm

26. Missing someone? No
27. Car? Ford
28. Something you're not wearing? makeup

29. Your favorite store? Target
30. Your favorite color? blue
33. When is the last time you laughed? yesterday
34. Last time you cried? inauguration
35. Who will resend this? Daria
36. One place that I go to over and over? taekwondo

37. One person who instant Messages me regularly? nobody
38. My favorite place to eat? Out

39. Why you participated in this survey? entertainment
40. What are you doing tonight? gardentalk
41. Favorite animal? dog
42. Beach or Mountains? beach
43. Cake or Pie? pie

44. You? busy
45. Age? 43
46. Last Holiday Destination? Florida
47. Skiing or Water sports? water
48. Rugby or football? football
49. Last thing you bought? groceries
50. If you won the lottery what would your first purchase be? retirement

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Those Little Green Guys Are At It Again

In honor of St. Patrick, I put green food coloring into our toilets today. When Max went in to use the bathroom, he called me in to investigate the aberration.

“Mom, you need to see this.”

"Oh, it's just those naughty leprechauns," I told him.

He moved close to me and looked up with a concerned look on his little face.

"Go ahead, you can still use it." He did, but not with certainty.

Then he suggested that we check the leprechaun trap that he and his older sister had set in our guest bedroom.

"Mom, I think you should come with me, and you check it."

"Are they big or little?" I asked.

"They're little," he whispered.

The coast was clear.

"OK. Now we need to check the refrigerator," he said.

"Why the refrigerator?"

"Mom, they turn your milk and eggs green!"

That coast was clear too.

So no sightings or captures so far. Wonder if he be able to get to sleep by himself tonight!

(only 167 words. Damn.)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Parking Pandemonium

I created quite a commotion at the downtown mall today. Thank goodness I was in abstentia (or rather, happily shopping with some good coupons I scored.)

So I parked in the parking deck and went my merry way. When I returned a couple hours later, my car was in the same parking space but somehow not in the same spot. There were also two pylons behind the back tires, and a phonebook behind one of the front tires. Not to mention the notes stuck on the window from the parking lot manager and the police department.

As it turns out, I forgot to set the parking brake (I ALWAYS set the parking break!), and the car rolled backward into another car and blocked traffic circling around the structure. Can you imagine the problems that must have caused?

Following the instructions written on the notes, I went down to the parking structure office and turned myself in. The dude in there laid into me:

"If you're going to park in my structure, you'd better follow the rules. You created a huge mess...we had to call in the police…[blah, blah, blah]."

"Sorry." (And I really meant it.)

"Don't tell me you’re sorry."

"OK, but I don't know what else to say."

"Where are the pylons?"

"I left them back at the parking spot. Want me to go get them for you? It's the least I can do."


"You want me to just get out of here?"


Enough said. I honestly felt terrible about my knuckleheaded move, but whad'ya gonna do? I was mostly glad I didn't return to my car in the middle of the chaos – and that neither car suffered anything more than a little paint scratch.

Driving home, I could really only laugh at the situation, but I did wonder what kind of karma makes something like that happen to me? I'm sympathetic to others. I'm not a road rager. I compost. I guess now I need to follow all the parking lot rules too. Man, it's an tough world out there.

(344 words)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Read Review: "The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs" and "Son of a Witch"

I finished two books worth a share last week....

1. The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs: On Tuesdays and Fridays, I have Book Group -- with a group of fourth graders in my son's class. It's a sweet book, and my book buddies rated it between a 7.5 and a 10 (on a 10-point scale). While they all enjoyed reading it, the boys preferred a little more action, and the girls loved the stories told within the story. I really liked the setting -- rural Missouri, 1923. The author used some great folksy language, and you could really see the main character, Eben, shuffling along dusty country roads with his dog trailing behind, visiting other farms and neighbors looking for "wonders". The story made our group think about wonders within our own homes or communities, and the language and setting made the readers think about what life was like for a kid back then. So for 9-10-11 year olds, this is a good choice.

2. Son of a Witch: The second of a three-book series, this story picks up where Wicked leaves off. My reaction to both this book and Wicked is that the author Gregory Maguire has a very strange imagination. While I had trouble following some of the wild psyches of the characters, I was still intrigued with the seductive story and complicated, decorated characters. I liked Son a bit better than Wicked, but I'm not sure I'm inspired to complete the trilogy because I don't get the impression that the third continues the storyline. You should read Wicked before Son. But should you read them at all? No, if you're in an introspective, impassioned mood. Yes, if you're looking for something a little more magically uncivilized.

Now that I've checked off "uncivilized" for now, I'm off to work on the March issue of The Sun magazine; a re-read of a book of gardening vignettes, People With Dirty Hands, for a little spring inspiration; and Jack Kornfield's The Wise Heart, for a little inner boost. In and around work, mom, wife, Netflix, and that other sock I need to knit.


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

What's in Your Cargo Hold?

I've been a little remiss in blogging lately due to a VACATION! We visited my parents in Florida and happily enjoyed a few of the tourist traps -- Universal Studios, Discovery Cove, and the South Florida Museum. We also hunted for sharks teeth at the beach, and the kids enjoyed quite a bit of pool time. Grandma cooked and squeezed fresh orange juice for us. All the opposite of what we'd be doing back home in Vermont.

While I certainly had time to blog, my head was empty! That alone is evidence of a great vacation. My mind isn't an easy one to escape.

We flew home from Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport late yesterday afternoon. As I was waiting there, I flashed back to the same time last year, at that same airport waiting to fly home. While watching the baggage handlers load luggage into our plane, a small truck backed up to the conveyor belt. The handlers pulled from the truck two long and large wooden boxes and sent them into the belly of the plane. Bodies.

This caught my attention, to be sure, but there's more to the story...

So the little truck unloads its corpse cargo, pulls away from the plane -- a little too fast -- and another box falls out of the back and onto the pavement. To think of the poor stiff inside being bounced around like that. The driver stops the truck, walks around to the back, and stands there, hands on hips, for probably a full minute trying to decide what to do because he can't reload it alone. Finally, he drives away, leaving the box sitting there in the hot sun, and comes back with another fella who helps him put it back into the truck.

Needless to say, I was a little taken aback -- and completely fascinated in that peculiar way that makes you read books about vampires. Never in my life would I have imagined bodies in my plane's cargo hold. But if you think about it, there are probably quite a few flown out of Florida on any given day. It's not exactly a mecca for young people.

So besides luggage, packages, carseats, an occasional dog, and bodies, I wonder what else might be down there? Would they put live dogs and dead bodies on the same plane? How well packed are the bodies? Are they on ice? Inquiring minds no longer on vacation need to know.

(409 words)