Thursday, December 30, 2010

HAPPY NEW YEAR

When I lost 150 lbs, eight years ago, everyone marveled at my fortitude. They assumed I went on a diet after the first of the year and stuck with it. The truth is, I didn’t. Temptation would have sabotaged my efforts. Instead, without telling anyone, I began walking, four to six miles a day. The weight just melted off and I suddenly had a new lease on life. For about four years, it stayed that way. I felt like a completely new person… the old me, discarded, once and for all. Unfortunately, little did I know, that all that walking had a cumulative effect on my body. It helped to mess up, my already, arthritic knees. And the end result was devastating. Seemingly overnight... the walking, I loved to do, became impossible to do. I was in unbearable pain. I had lost my favorite pastime, in addition, to my new self. The weight came back on. And the damage to my psyche was immeasurable. It’s taken me years, to finally accept my limitations. So I’m telling you, when the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, try not to be too unrealistic about the goals you set for yourself in the coming year. Just remember you could have the rug pulled right out from underneath you, too. Researchers have differing opinions on whether you should keep New Year’s Resolutions to yourself or share them with everybody you know. In my case, talking about my goals, ahead of time, makes me less likely, to follow through on them. Just too many prying eyes, watching and waiting. It’s too easy to slip up, and disappoint someone else, in addition, to yourself. And that adds unnecessary pressure. Therefore, I’ve found, I make much better progress, on my resolutions, if I keep them, my little secret, until after the fact. Then, when I have something to really brag about, I can share, and bask in the glory of my accomplishment. So, on this New Year’s Eve, remember… “An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in. A pessimist stays up, to make sure the old year leaves.” What are you?

Friday, December 24, 2010

MERRY CHRISTMAS

The beauty of the season is upon us. What a wonderful time of the year. In a festive holiday mood, with our tummies stuffed full of food… my hubby and I... bundled up in hats and gloves, as the cool night air, nipped at our noses. We clamored into the Dodge Caravan, happy… that the automatic car starter had warmed our seats, in advance. Flurries were in the night air, as Christmas music played softly on the radio. With no destination in mind, we headed down the road. Giddy with excitement… we were going a-wandering, in search of AWESOME outdoor Christmas displays. Everywhere we went… from one neighborhood to the next… lights dazzled in hues of red, green, amber, white, and blue. Wooden snowmen, Angels, Nutcrackers, Reindeer and St. Nick’s… stood in yards and on porches.  Giant snowflakes and stars, lined the rooftops. Icicle lights dripped from gutters. Trees glistened in house windows and in front lawns. Wreaths… with big red bows, dotted doorways.  As we drove past the houses... we caught random glimpses, of families gathered around, dining room tables, and in living rooms, celebrating the holiday. After a couple hours of being out, on the town, exploring... it was time for us, to head home. On the way back… guess what? AMAZINGLY... we saw eight REAL deer, mingling, in a neighbor’s yard. It just had to be… Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen. Santa must be busy at work. It won’t be long now, until he stops to visit you, too… Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

JUST IN TIME

Worried that the temperature outside was dropping into the single digits… I hurried out to my car, to bring in the two six-packs of raspberry tea, still in the trunk. I didn’t want the bottles to freeze. Last year, I had a bottle of soda pop explode in there. Besides making a mess, I almost wrecked my car, when the thing went off. And, I didn’t want a repeat performance. It had snowed the night before, so my hubby had cleared off all the snow sitting on top of my trunk, so I could get inside. But there was still some residual ice, hanging around, making it difficult to close. With the tea in hand, I slammed the lid shut, best as I could, and made my way back inside. Two days passed before I had occasion to venture back out to my car. But when I did, it was because I needed to go to the store. It was 5 degrees, with the sun shining. Angry because my remote car starter wasn’t working, I had to manually do it. Everything was frozen, though. My car door didn’t want to open. I had to struggle with it for 5 minutes. When I finally put my key in the ignition, all I heard was CLICK! CLICK! CLICK! The battery was dead. I called my husband. He decided to come home early, from work. Meanwhile, he told me where to find the battery cables in the garage, so he could jump start it, when he got here. He said the current battery was the original one, so it was time to replace it. My hubby had an hour and a half drive home, and might not make it here, before the store closed. So, I could be without a car for a couple days. That made me antsy. I didn't want to be stranded. I wanted this problem resolved sooner, rather than later. Instead of waiting for him, when my daughter got back, I suggested she help me, instead. We attached the jumper cables between her jeep and my car, getting just enough juice to start my engine. I kept it running, making the decision to head up to Sears, for a new battery, praying the charge would hold until I got there. Fortunately, it did. Thank goodness for small miracles. The mechanic asked me if I knew my trunk lid was open, too. I said, “No, I didn‘t!” But that explained the dead battery. My trunk lid is connected to a power source, a light. For two days it sat open, in freezing temps, wearing down the battery. Mystery solved. So all I needed now, was the brand NEW battery, to get me going again. While I watched Oprah in the waiting room… the store clerk and my husband, via cell phone... decided WHICH one. It took an hour to put it in. Installation was not straightforward because of where the manufacturer has the battery situated in the Stratus. But... the guys at Sears, got it done. And I’m back on the road, just in time for Christmas.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

ONCE UPON A TIME

Once upon a time, because of a job, we lived in two places. And when we did… we took down the outdoor mailbox, at our primary residence and replaced it with a post office box, downtown. We did this because we were constantly having fights with the mail carriers about holding our mail when we were out of town, at our other residence. Changing the address to a PO Box fixed the problem. But it created new ones. For example, once or twice a week, we have to go downtown to pick up our mail. With this chore comes a lot of headaches. The biggest one is finding a parking space, somewhere near the Post Office. I have BAD knees and can’t walk that far. So I have to drive around the block more than a few times to locate a place. Minutes click past. Eventually my persistence pays off and I usually nab one close by, but sometimes I don‘t. Then it becomes quite a trek. Next problem… climbing a gazillion steps. I have to use the hand railing to balance myself as I climb. Hard to do if you’re carrying packages to be mailed…especially since the railing is coming out of the cement and is unstable. No other way up because the handicap ramp is being revamped and is closed. Finally I’m inside, but I don’t get far. There is always a line out to the door. No matter what time of day, they only have one or two service windows open. After a while, my knees feel like they’re going to buckle from the pressure of standing there so long. I tell myself to hang on. But it hurts. Meanwhile, people often cut in line, in front of me, courtesy of friends and family, already there. Not fair, but it happens. When I finally get my turn, I make the most of it. I ask them to check my PO BOX for notices of packages or anything else too big to fit inside it. Then, I’m ultimately loaded down with stacks of junk mail, catalogs, magazines and occasionally boxes, as I leave. Navigating my way back down those outside steps, holding all that, hardly being able to see in front of me, proves almost hazardous. How I keep my footing, I don’t know. By the time I get back to my car, I’m ready to collapse. What should have been a ten minute jaunt to the post office, turns into forty minutes. Each time I go, the wait is a crapshoot. And with holiday time here, it has just gotten worse. How I long, to walk to the edge of my driveway, to get my mail. Now that we live in only ONE place, we‘ve considered going back to curbside mail. But if history tells us anything, it’s this… the local carrier would botch things up, so we’d have a bigger mess to deal with, than we do now. Better to leave things alone. So I'm done kvetching.

Friday, December 3, 2010

NAUGHTY ME & THE CHRISTMAS TREE

Years ago, when my hubby and I lived in the mountains of Pennsylvania… at Christmastime, we would buy a LIVE evergreen tree to grace our home for the holiday season. It would fill our humble abode with the fragrant smell of fresh pine and delighted us to no end. When the NEW year came, we would plant the tree outside, somewhere on our property and it became a permanent part of the landscape. This family tradition lasted until economics forced us to leave the region and migrate to the Midwest. Live evergreens weren’t readily available where we settled, so we began to buy fresh cut pines for our Christmas celebrations. But they came at a huge price and were always laden with trouble. We could never get the tree to sit upright in the stand and despite our best efforts, it dropped pine needles all over the place. After fighting this hassle for several years, we decided there must be a better way. It was then, we discovered the ARTIFICIAL tree. The simplicity of the concept, wowed us. We were hooked. Why hadn’t we done this sooner? Content with our decision, to go FAKE, we adapted. We could still get that fragrant smell of evergreen, by using liquid potpourri or scented candles… so our home was filled with holiday cheer. Over the years, since that first one, we’ve had a variety of artificial trees. Some were easier to maneuver. Others were purchased because they were prelit. Many were donated, decorations and all. Our most recent tree is about 7 years old. There are two pieces, to it. It stands about 6ft tall. It is called a TWIG tree. I fell in love with it, the moment I saw it. The branches are just a little more sparse, than your average tree. But it looks so realistic, you’d swear it came straight from the forest. Although it’s a cinch to put up and take down… I have a confession to make. Last year, after the twelve days of Christmas… I left it standing, firmly in place, in the corner of my family room. It was so gorgeous with it’s sparkling white twinkle lights, golden garland and crimson red bulbs...why destroy it? I thought my husband would nix the idea of a year round tree. But to my utter amazement, he said, “Christmas is only 11 months away. Let’s keep it up.” During the seemingly endless spring, summer and autumn months, the tree’s presence sparked serious debate about our decision to keep it decorated. But when songs of Christmas began playing on the radio, right before Thanksgiving, this year… I felt vindicated.  It was only then, we flipped on the switch, lighting all the lights on the tree. Until then... it had remained dark, all throughout the year. Still pristine and beautiful, it glistened, radiating joy. I smiled... with tears in my eyes. Time flies. All those months, of waiting for Santa to return, had finally melted away. Now, here I am, basking in the glory of a new holiday season, sharing my little secret with you. Have you ever been, naughty, and kept your Christmas Tree up, year round? It might just become a NEW holiday tradition, here at our house. What do you think?