Monday, July 30, 2012

Poor, Poor Pitiful Me

So we are still waiting for our new king-sized bed to arrive. It should be here in 2-3 weeks. In the meantime we still sleep in our queen-sized bed using sheets that I probably bought in 1990, when we moved in together. 

There are a zillion sheet sets available in all ranges of colors and thread count but I have never been able to find sheets that were soft from the get-go. Or if I found soft sheets they would "pill" by the second night. (Pills are those little bitty balls that appear on certain fabrics --- sweaters are probably the most "pillable" --- especially where the fabric gets rubbed.)

Your choice seems to be immediately soft sheets that pill right away or rough sheets that take forever to get soft.

Hence, I always went back to the old, old sheets: soft and smooth, like sheets should be! CPA Boy recently changed the sheets and I noticed a small rip in the bottom sheet about where my knees would be located. Starting with the first night I began catching my foot in it. A four-inch rip soon elongated to about 20 inches. Our solution: duct tape!

Yes, we have joined the white trash nation. (In the interest of fairness and inclusion, ALL skin tones can be trashy and/or solve problems with duct tape.)

So I have been reading reviews of sheets. Yes, that is the most fascinating use of my time. Maybe I can make sheets out of duct tape?

Meanwhile, some of the new window blinds have arrived and now sit in the dining room in their boxes. Pretty! (Not. Messy? Yes, definitely.)

I did mundane things today, like register my new cards for Lowe's and Panera Bread. I actually have a separate, smaller wallet to hold all those stupid membership/rewards cards because there are just too many for my regular wallet. It's kind of a pain in the ass to carry all these around but I now have a 5% off coupon for my next Target shopping trip (where it seems I always spend about $100) and a free pastry at Panera. So in some cases these cards are worthwhile; some are not. In any case, a large pile of paperwork is now off my desk and that was my main goal today.

And in between paying some medical bills (last month's check-up and lab work) I subscribed to a couple of magazines. (Yes, CPA Boy, I am giving the credit card a workout today instead of going to the gym myself! But think of the points I've earned us!)

Oooh, and success! CPA Michelle (who I will henceforth refer to as CPA Girl) and I went shoe shopping on Friday and I have the cutest white and pink exercise tennis shoes! (Pink is my favorite color to WEAR although red is my actual favorite color.) Apparently you need to have bigger shoes for exercise so these are size 8s. That kind of freaks me out because I generally wear a 6-1/2 to 7. See? Here's the bad thing about one of my favorite body parts: I need to wear bigger shoes! It's a conspiracy, lemme tell you. Well, along with my nail fungus issue, I guess. (My smooth, soft elbows seem to be going strong, in case you are interested!)

The rest of the week is shaping up as usual but with the addition of the gym. I have a couple of new things to read on the Kindle which is nice and light so it will be easy to use on the stationary bike. (It's hard to hold a hardcover book especially when you are trying to keep it clear of your pumping knees!) And I have several paperbacks worth starting so I should have plenty of reading material to keep me going for miles on the bike.

To recap:
  • Duct taped sheets
  • Boxes all over the dining room
  • Yep, we're in a white trash phase!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Am I Ready to Zumbaaaaa?!

So today I went to my very first Zumba class.

(For those not in the know, it's an exercise class that's "an exhilarating, effective, easy-to-follow, Latin-inspired, calorie-burning dance fitness-party"TM.)

I am not sure it's going to be a good fit for me but we'll see.

The negatives:
  • The class I went to was from 6:30 to 7:30 pm, not my favorite time to exercise.
  • I hadn't eaten all day, which was stupid, but I just never had a chance to fit in a meal or beverage. I felt very light-headed and dizzy when I was done.
  • I felt STUPID. Obviously, this is the first time I've attended so I am not expected to get it right away but I have NEVER been good at following exercise choreography. Never. And usually by the time I figured out the step the instructor was already on to a new variation. Time and several more classes will take care of this but in the meantime I HATE feeling stupid for not getting it because it's "easy-to-follow".
  • I do not care for the music so far. But there were two songs that I recognized (the instructor referred to them as "oldies" and they both came out around 1985; am I that old?! Yes.): "Conga", by Gloria Estefan, and "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)" although they were "Latin-inspired" versions. But at least I knew what to expect.
  • There are mirrors on the wall. It's bad enough that I will get hot and sweaty but I don't want to see myself in the mirror all hot and sweaty. Plus it just accentuates how out-of-step I am from the other participants.
  • My shoes were uncomfortable but at least this will be the easiest thing to remedy. I tend to buy cheapie tennis shoes from Payless Shoe Source. My feet were getting numb by the end of the hour which doesn't make it easy to do any steps. I've been putting this off for a while. I'll be with CPA Michelle tomorrow so maybe we can go shoe shopping after our Costco run.
  • I was already sore from yesterday's workout. I tried the elliptical machine again and it was so hard! I could only stand four minutes. Then I biked for 20 minutes and pedaled like crazy the whole time. I'm not sure which made my front thighs so sore though. I will persevere and see if I can build up some stamina for the elliptical (5 minutes!) and maybe the soreness will go away as I develop muscle tone. 
  • I usually walk on the treadmill or pedal the stationary bike for 20-30 minutes, then I switch to weights for about 20 minutes. Doing ONE thing for an HOUR was LONG. (Plus I can READ while I walk or pedal. This is the big benefit of treadmill over walking outside!)
  • I wish I had a girlfriend to go to class with and sweat together! Time to convince CPA Michelle to sign up with the gym again (she already bikes around Sonoma County and runs for miles --- things I will never do --- so it's not like she needs more exercise!).
The positives:
  • It doesn't cost anything more as it's all part of my gym membership.
  • The people were nice. The gym people told me to start with Zumba Heather because she was great with beginners but she wasn't there. The substitute was very nice though. She was wearing an adorable Zumba-logoed shirt, very "Flashdance" with an off-the-shoulder look to it.
  • There were only 9 participants so there was plenty of room for me to flail about. Would day classes have MORE people, less or about the same?
  • I sweated like crazy, despite my lame dance moves, and definitely feel like I got a workout! 
  • I can buy some more exercise clothes! Yay, online shopping!
I will try again next week as there are classes at other times than 6:30 pm. I will have better shoes. I will slowly learn the steps. And I will try some of the other classes and find a better fit for me! The gym has step class, yoga, strength endurance, aqua aerobics and others. Just because everyone else I know who does Zumba loves it doesn't mean I need to love it too.

PS to Lady Chardonnay (or as Dear Abby would say: Confidential to Lady C): I had no idea what the "plank" was so I looked it up. I can hold it for about 7 seconds as of today. But I was tired, sore and faint with hunger when I did it. Tomorrow, rested, less sore and fed I should hit 8 seconds! We'll need to have a plank-off in August (though you'll no doubt win!). And "plank-off" somehow sounds so dirty!!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

No More Excuses


I went to the gym today for the first time after a few years of absence. The hard part is actually making myself GO. Once I'm there I'm fine. Today I rode the stationary bike and used some of the machines to lift weights.I need to take it slow with my shoulder but that is slowly getting better.

Tomorrow I will go back and do some more, perhaps try the elliptical machine. Last time I tried it it hurt and I've since learned that I was doing it incorrectly.

There are also some classes, like step and Zumba, that I will try out.

One thing is true: I felt so virtuous after working out!

I have no idea how much I weigh because I haven't checked since we came back from vacation. I will do the gym thing for a couple of weeks then try. I had lost 30 pounds but I know I gained a bit back during and after vacation. Ugh. And it's time to cut out sugar for a while. This week will be the hardest.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Perfect Flaws

If you are female, I'll bet you have a mental list of which parts of your body you love and those you hate. If you are male, well then, you have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about so move along, nothing to read here for you.

The list of physical things I like about myself is surprising long: hair, boobs, eyes, feet, hands, height. Elbows?

Time is the enemy and as it passes each of these items seems to be heading into the "don't like" category.

I have the coloring of a brunette of Mediterranean heritage. I do NOT look good as a blonde. I wore a blonde wig once (I dressed as Mrs. Howell from "Gilligan's Island" for Halloween at work) and all it did was bring out the green undertone of my skin. Horrifying!

But I had always been more than happy with my dark brown hair with its natural red and gold highlights and never had the desire to become a blonde or redhead. But when I turned 24 I discovered my first gray hair. (My gray hairs have all been white though.) I plucked that sucker out right quick. But alas it grew back and brought friends.

By my late 20s I had a small thatch of white on the right side of my forehead and it was kind of cute. Just like Valerie Bertinelli's hair in the miniseries "I'll Take Manhattan"! But damn if that little swatch didn't take the entire front of my head! So I think I am over 50% gray/white. It's hard to say for sure how complete the white has taken over because I color my hair every few weeks. (But then I bet Valerie Bertinelli colors her hair these days too.)

I always liked my eye color too. They were basically blue while I was growing up and then, in my 8th grade picture, you can see that they changed from blue to a green-blue mix. I wear glasses to correct my vision. I used to wear contact lenses but around the time I turned 30 my eye doctor told me that while contacts would continue to correct my vision they wouldn't be able to correct my astigmatism (which causes me to see two of everything).

So I wear glasses and that means my eyes are somewhat hidden. I have gotten lazy about wearing eye makeup but luckily I have that dark coloring so I really don't NEED to wear mascara. It certainly makes my lashes look longer though.

I lucked out in the bosom area too. Between my mother who was somewhat flat-chested and two VERY bosomy grandmothers I got something in the middle. So I was always happy with what nature gave me. And let's just say that time is working it's (negative) magic there too and leave it at that!

My height is a nice average 5'5" (even though time will bring that down by a couple of inches in the next decades) and I had no desire to be taller or shorter. I have little feet (size 6.5, hooves!), little ears and young-looking hands. I suspect my feet and ears will stay the same overall but I assume my hands will one day soon make the move to old age. I notice hands of women on TV and in movies and they look young in the face but so many of them have hands that belie their age. (My fingernails are another story. I don't like polish on them and I really don't do a lot except trim and file them from time to time.)

And that brings us to the elbows! My elbows, especially the left one, have been rough and dirty-looking ever since I was a little girl. I've had people point out that I have dirt on my elbow and I have to say, "Um, no, that's just the way it looks." If I exfoliate and moisturize regularly I could keep the uglies at bay but I was terrible about "regularly".

Then this year when I turned 50 all of a sudden my elbows are no longer rough and dirty-looking! I don't know why this is. Crazy. They just look a little dry but not filthy and orange peel-y. I guess I may need to move my elbows to the "like" column. 

In my experience many males like to show off their scars, those "imperfections" that make them unique (or at least have a good story behind them!). We females have been more conditioned to dislike our imperfections so that we'll buy the product necessary to correct these flaws. Isn't that weird, this difference between men and women?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Nothing. I Got Nothing.


At the top of each Facebook page there's a box to type in your "status update" and this box has the words, "What's on your mind?" And seriously, I think to myself, absolutely nothing! Or at least nothing I want to share with my friends on Facebook. (Example: "Doing the last load of laundry! Found a quarter in the dryer so my day is made!! Ugh, lint.")

I can think of nothing worthwhile to post there. So I will maintain my "cone of silence" for the time being! (Bonus points if you get the reference!)

Pops and I went on our usual Tuesday shopping trip today and he's slowly getting better. He's lost a bit of weight (almost 10 pounds) and he's feeling more fragile since he hasn't done his usual walking every day. He said his legs feel like rubber. I think it just takes longer to heal the older we get. In a month I hope he will be back to his usual active self.

I bought a bunch of veggies and fruit at Trader Joe's so we will have healthy meals this week! Corn, artichokes, asparagus, raspberries (which were pricy but so perfect-looking I had to get some --- somewhere CPA Boy is having a palpitation!), salad greens, onions, beans. Yum!

We go to our local farmers' market every once in a while (not yet this year so far though) and buy an occasional item but overall everything is SO expensive it's hard to justify the expense. I guess I was naive to assume that fruit and veggies direct from the growers would be less expensive, no grocery middlemen, but alas, not so. I guess it's like how "organic" produce is always more expensive. The thing is, produce is reasonable as long as you are willing to buy at the grocery store when fruits and veggies come into season.

And now that I know how to microwave fresh ears of corn (4 minutes IN husks) we will have it until we are sick of it until next year's season!

Hey! Who wants to read about my toenail problem?! Which seems to be getting better; thanks for asking! My doctor recommended soaking in a bleach solution and using Vick's Vapo-Rub (she heard of this from a podiatrist friend). I substituted hydrogen peroxide (I saturate a cotton ball and let it sit on my nail for 10 minutes), rub on the Vick's and wear socks for a while so I don't get Vapo-Rub everywhere I walk. It seems to be doing the trick though. Slowly. This is a home remedy to see if I can avoid taking the meds which can be hard on the body.

The worst part is that I can put no nail polish on my tootsies until it's completely cleared up!! Which will take months. Oh well, I probably got it from a past pedicure so I guess there's no rush to go back for another.

See what I mean about nothing to say?!

Monday, July 9, 2012

June 2012 Books

Not much to report for the month of June book-wise. Only 6 books completed! What with the traveling to Colorado and hospital visits there just wasn't much time to fit it in.

And Olympic trials coverage; I watched a lot of swimming, track and gymnastics. I LOVE the Olympics and pretty much plop in front of the TV for 2 straight weeks when they're on. Because I generally watch TV utilizing the DVR I miss out on reading during the commercials. On the other hand I watch TV in less time so I guess it all evens out. The Olympics, with all that filler, are perfect for DVRs, as long as you don't mind watching the next day. I record the whole shebang each evening (I think they run from 7 to midnight each day?) and then skim the next day for the things I want to watch. 

I am LOVING New York so far. All I want to do is get back to reading it (I am about halfway through) but I want it to last so I force myself to put it down.


FICTION
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
    • I love these books. I think Ms. Rowling did a fabulous job in storytelling as well as tying up all loose ends. 
    • I love the heroism of Neville Longbottom and wish the movie version had been a bit more faithful to that angle.
    • And Professor Snape! I think many women loved this character, probably due to the amazing Alan Rickman's bringing the character to life in the films. The conclusion of Snape's story is heartbreaking and perfect.
    • The ending is satisfying too. At the saga's last line I felt a sigh of pleasure and completeness.
    • It will be interesting to see what her new novel (The Casual Vacancy) will be like. I read something about how authors generally move from writing adult fiction to young adult but rarely go the other direction. Like that's a rule writers should follow.
    • A+ for both books
  • Mrs. Bridge by Evan S. Connell
  • Mr. Bridge by Evan S. Connell
    • These books tell the story of a marriage. The first, published in 1958, centers on the life of Mrs. Bridge, a wife of a prominent attorney living in Kansas City in the 1930s and 1940s. The second, published in 1969, tells much the same story through her husband.
    • I had these both on my shelf and wasn't sure which one to start with so I went with the order they were published. I had more of an idea that they would tell the identical story from the two points of view but that's not really how it works out.
      • Mrs. Bridge's story is a series of short vignettes over the course of their marriage. We follow their children, the housekeeper, the friends and neighbors.
      • Mr. Bridges covers some of the same ground but concentrates instead on larger arcs such as a trip to Europe the Bridges take just before the start of World War II. 
      • Together they make a cohesive story of the marriage of an upper middle class couple.
    • I am dying to see the Merchant-Ivory movie with Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward! It also has Simon Callow, Kyra Sedgwick, Robert Sean Leonard and Blythe Danner.
    • I didn't love these books but they were pretty interesting and I'm glad I read them.
    • B for both
NON-FICTION
  • Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher
    • Carrie's first memoir based on her one-woman stage show which I had watched on HBO last year.
    • She is a very funny writer and I think I would have laughed more at the book had I not already seen the show. Watching her demonstrate via blackboard the relationships of her parents (Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, natch) is obviously much funnier while watching her do it than it is following along in a book.
    • I look forward to reading her next book, Shockaholic (she uses electroconvulsive therapy, aka electro-shock). I have already read her first 2 novels when they were first published in the 1980s.
    • B
  •  Boomerang: Travels in the new Third World by Michael Lewis
    • Through long chapters on Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Germany and the United States Michael Lewis takes us through the cultural reasons why countries behaved as they did during the financial crisis. The chapters were originally written for Vanity Fair magazine. 
    • The Germans, for example, don't like to get into debt so the real estate bubble didn't affect the general populace. Their banks, however, had no trouble lending to other countries so Germany did not come out unscathed.  The Icelandic people, especially the men, believe they can do anything, even if that means working as a fisherman one day and then as a financial trader the next.
    • Interesting, if a bit dry, and it makes believe that the financial crisis will be difficult to overcome without a change in cultural beliefs. Which is unlikely to happen. The next several decades will be interesting times...
    • B
That's it for June. I hope to have a more interesting roster for July.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Catch Up

Way behind in blogging, sorry.

Pops is recovering nicely, if slowly. When you have laparoscopic surgery you get very small incisions and they use cameras to see what they are doing during surgery. (As opposed to "open" surgery where the incision in several inches long and recovery is much more difficult and painful. I've had both types and laparscopy is the way to go!) But they also fill the surgical cavity with air so they have a bigger space to work. While you recover the gas wants to escape but it takes time for it to find the way out of your body. Oddly (well, not so odd as gas rises, duh) it seems to settle in your shoulders and also can make you feel like you have constant, painful heartburn. Which is what Pops has been going through.

It's odd because you think, "I had my appendix out and my SHOULDERS hurt?!"

It also turns out his appendix did NOT burst which is good news as it made the threat of peritonitis dissipate almost completely. Yay!

Meanwhile, The Boy turned 19 but we see very little of him these days so we really didn't do anything to celebrate. The last three years he's been away working at boy scout camp and now he has a job and a girlfriend. I saw him around midnight when he came home after his day of working a shift at work and hanging out with The Girl.

Which is fine; I was at college celebrating with my friends and not my parents when I turned 19. Long ago in 1981, yeesh.

The other, more important birthday was CPA Michelle's. She asked me if I could get away for a night (what with everything going on with Pops but he was fine) and we went to stay in Bodega Bay. We had a nice seafood dinner, then massages and then we just relaxed, talked and read our books. It was perfect, just what I needed.

Speaking of books, I made a purge of several items from my "to-be-read" (TBR) shelf and I feel so much better for it. I am generally not a big reader of mysteries but I pick one up every once in a while.

The thing with many of today's mysteries is that they are generally part of an ongoing series. This is nothing new, of course, as with Sherlock Holmes or the detectives of Agatha Christie, say. But as a reader I was getting overwhelmed! So I went through the shelves and pulled all of the mysteries whose 2nd, 3rd and sometimes more volumes were waiting for me to tackle.

And yet I still have at least 50 books on the TBR shelf! I only managed to read 6 books in June. But I also went through the huge pile of magazines that built up and now most of those are done because their subscriptions (which were free) have expired.

One of the books on my shelf is New York by Edward Rutherfurd, one of my favorite historical novelists. I had been saving this one up (it's his most recent and I have read everything else he's written) because I knew once I started I wouldn't want it to end. He writes the history of a place through the eyes of his fictional characters but as the years pass their descendants take over as main characters. And on and on until (usually) the modern day.

Anyway, what with the purging of the mysteries and starting a book by a favorite author, I am in a happy book place!

CPA Boy and I had a tiff last weekend and it somehow resolved itself in furniture buying. Which is the way all arguments should end: buying new stuff!

We will be getting a new bed frame with mattress and box springs. We decided not to replace the nightstands or dressers at this point since we like them fine.

And while we were at the furniture store we found a cute dining room table. It's counter high (36") and is a 54" square with 4 padded chairs to match. There is a leaf which folds and stores right in the table! It will be perfect now that it's mostly the two of us at dinner time. Here it is with the leaf stored away:

Nothing will arrive until the end of July though. That gives me time to shop for new sheets (we are moving from queen to king!). The coverlets I bought earlier this year are already king-size. We are going back to a red, white and black color scheme in the bedroom which will match the rest of the house.

Yesterday, while both CPA Boy and The Boy were out of the house until late night, I did housework. I really need to manage my schedule better so I can enjoy these days to myself! At least the laundry, sweeping, and vacuuming are all done. For now.