Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Brave: An Independent woman's tale

Dear Pixar:

As always, I am behind on watching movies. Ever since my son hit puberty we aren't as prone to racing to the theater to see your movies. He's into fart humor flicks and action/adventures.

So, this morning I was flipping through the 100s of channels offered up and stumbled upon your film BRAVE.  Since I had not seen it and nothing else piqued my interest, I opted to view.

First off, let me applaud the design of the wild haired Merida. It's clear in the very beginning she is not the usual 'live in a shiny castle upon the hill' sort of princess.

Secondly, it was refreshing that none of the first born males of the other clans were strapping, handsome warrior sorts with the heart of gold. You almost always throw some stud in the mix that the wild eyed princess fawns over completely losing sight of her identity. Again, thank you.

Thirdly, encouragement from the father to remain independent reminds me a lot of my own relationship with my dad. My mom, bless her heart, didn't do much in telling me I could be anything I wanted to be.  She was content that her daughter was pretty enough to not have to be smart or independent. She also didn't live long enough to cheer me on. My father, on the other hand, did everything in his power to bolster my confidence to go forth without entanglement or dependence on a man to provide for me. Even when I met someone, my father threw opportunity my way to continue with my education rather than marry the dolt who would become Mancub's father.

Hey, I didn't say I listened to my dad all the time.

The part of the story where Merida talks about destiny and fate. Yeah, that hit home. I chose my destiny in marrying and I know that man wasn't the best choice, but it was fate for me to have my son. So, while the wrong prince *cough* was the suitor who won my hand, the right child was born into my life and he would teach me how to become independent, strong and brave. Together, our destiny was altered. Fate is that we have each other.

Anyway, thank you for keeping true to the story and not introducing some studly sort at the end for Merida to run off with into the sunset. Some girls don't require rescuing because they are capable of being their own hero.


PS. I like a good fairy tale now and then, but our girls need strong female role models who aren't selling themselves short for a handsome guy with a great house and a silver spoon in his mouth.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Get moving

Blah blah blah a couple years ago I lost 40 pounds. Injury to the left knee incapacitated me beyond doing more than standing and walking. Then, the icky wound on the left leg. That is all it took for this food addicted, exercise loathing girl to revert back to the habits that would put all that weight back on.

Yes, I am pissed at myself, but that mindset isn't going to help me one bit. All that can be done now is to pass 'get out of jail' and move on.

I feel like shit and have accepted it.

Now, let's get this big ol' ass on the road to recovery. In this instance I compare it to someone falling off the wagon with alcohol or heroin. Checking into rehab isn't feasible. So, that means I am my clinician and therapist along with the help of friends who've successfully lost weight. What's ironic is that a couple of those friends were inspired by my weight loss commitment to do the same for themselves ... and here we are.

I thought the quickly approaching 30th class reunion from high school would be enough of a catalyst to make me serious about losing the weight. Alas, that hasn't been enough of a threat.

Last night was the beginning of this new journey. I went for a two mile walk with my dear friends Justin and Frank. Justin argues that it wasn't close to two miles. Frank and I feel like it was 90 miles... I guess we know which one of the threesome is in better shape.

I talked their ears off the entire walk. It had been a long time since having a captive audience. We see each other (I work with Justin), but it's piece meal conversations because we're always in a group setting. My short stories can become long ones without intention. Sorry, guys. Thanks for letting me have the stage.

It was Frank's idea to get our butts moving and invited a group of us to join him. Hell yeah! Mancub went with me to meet the boys, but while waiting at their house he fell asleep on the couch. Needless to say, he remained behind while we strutted on the trail.

It could be coincidence, but this girl slept like the dead. Mind you, my damn feet are killing me this morning. Once the blood started flowing to my tootsies there was relief.

It always makes me feel better to get moving -- traditional exercise gets boring fast. Plus, walking with two of my most favorite people on the planet makes the time go by quickly.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Suddenly, Last Summer

If you've been stalk following me for more than a year, then you know I had some issues with my left leg. Wait, did I blog about that horrible experience or did I manage to keep it to myself? I keep very little about my life to myself. What I mean is that I may have only reported the ugliness on Facebook.

OK. In March of 2012 a funky bump appeared on my lower left leg. I, being stupid, picked at it. Despite bandaging, treating it with triple antibiotic cream etc... the damned thing would not heal. After 2 months of that nonsense I sought out WebMd. (You thought I was going to say medical treatment, didn't you?) There was a myriad of possibilities and I treated the wound accordingly. From soaking it with apple cider vinegar to coating it with hydrogen peroxide, it only got worse.

Surprise! Hey, I wanted a homeopathic remedy. In the long run it was foolish. Don't you dare wag your finger at me.

When our vacation to California was quickly approaching, I made haste, finally, to get an appointment with a doctor. It took over 3 weeks to get in because prior to this, I have never had the need for a physician. Oh, sure there's the almost  yearly peek-a-boo at my girly parts doctor, but not the nose, throat and ears doctor.

The new doctor was quick to tell me to stay out of the sun, public water, ie pools, ocean, lakes, hot tubs etc... The public waters might worsen the infection. The antibiotics made me highly sensitive to the sun's rays. One antibiotic after another and several outbreaks of red itchy, rashy bumps made me want to go all Poltergeist and rip off my own flesh. They even put me on the antibiotic used to treat MRSA. It did horrible things to my skin. It was worse than the wound itself. I was miserable!!!! That's some serious shit. After being tortured and getting no improvement, I was referred to an infectious disease specialist.

That guy tested me for everything from lupus to jungle rot. Maybe not jungle rot, but there was a host of diseases being ruled out. All i know is that the blood sucker chick took 7 viles of my blood. By the by, that's an effing cool thing to watch. No queasy stomach here. Whenever blood has to be drawn I always inform the technician to hit my left arm. The veins are more cooperative.

After everything under the sun was ruled out, the specialist sent me to a surgeon for a biopsy. At that appointment, the doctor said to cut into a newly developed oopy sore would be a mistake. He told me that the problem was simple: Lack of fresh blood circulating through my legs.

Hellloooooo I have had varicose veins since my late teens/early twenties. I opted out of the biopsy and followed his advice. The next day Vein Clinics of America was called and my consultation appointment was made. The big gas funky, thick, stick-off-my-flesh-like-a-relief-map veins are gone. Three laser treatments and hundreds of injections later -- not an exaggeration, all that remains are the teeny spider veins which are a result of the blood seeking other means of travel. Those will be taken care of, too.

My legs were in bad shape. Now, the only thing that will gross people out in public is the amount of cellulite and wiggly jiggly flubber. But NO PURPLE VEINS!

All of those appointments took up my entire summer and most of autumn. Aside from our trip to California, I didn't get much sun.

Now that I have bored you to tears and you've probably not even read this far, fast forward to the summer of 2013. TODAY, look at the date, I spent the afternoon on my deck reading in the sun. Yes, I used sunscreen. Sheesh. I'm not entirely vapid.

If you're ever feeling blah, constantly battling one ailment or another, you must consider if you're suffering from Vitamin D deficiency. Seriously. The vast majority of us don't get nearly enough. Read up on it. This public service announcement has been brought to you by Kankakee's Number one pasty white girl.

And now, for your gratuitous cleavage shot:

Don't you judge me. When ya got it... ya got it.

PS. The book I am reading is by Clark Brooks and can be purchased in paperback and for Kindle at Amazon. A Ridiculously Inconsistent Treasury. Click the damn link and go buy the book.

Monday, June 17, 2013

You can lead a duck to water ...

Sunday, Father's Day, Mancub and I were returning home in the late afternoon. When making the turn for our block, I noticed a lone duckling quickly waddling from the church parking area making its way to the street.

STOP! Look! A duckie! I put the car in park and grabbed the phone to take this photo.

See the little feathered friend in the gravel?

Mancub hopped out of the car -- no one was coming from either direction -- because the duck vanished and we feared he'd gone under the car. Alas, he'd diverted to the front. Poor thing had to be bewildered. Mancub safely escorted the duck across the street to prevent an oncoming car from hitting it. At that point I had exited the car to take another photo.

Why did the duckling cross the road? He's center just within the shaded area.

Shortly after the above photo was taken the duckling took cover in the bushes at the neighbor's house. Mancub dashed in the house to use the bathroom while I kept watch. Oh, I had pulled into the driveway and parked our car. My son returned in a flash to find me across the street filming our new water fowl pal.

On the next block there is a pole barn like building. The duck walked half the length of the building before becoming befuddled. We didn't guide him up to this point. We just followed to ensure his safe journey to the river which is two blocks from my house.
When the duck came to what appeared to be a clearance between buildings he learned there was no passage way. It was then that I stepped closer which caused him to waddle in the right direction to get around the building.
This adventure lasted about 30 minutes. At one point the little fella grew tired or needing to get his bearings and he sat down at the base of a maple tree. This break occurred not more than 50 feet from the bank of the river. Never did his chirping subside. Mancub and I kept a far distance from him as not to interfere with his instincts. We followed.

It wasn't too long before he found cover in this thick  hedge. We no longer heard the chirping within moments .

That was the end of our duckling adventure. We only hope he found the family he'd been separated from when we met with him.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Pops, dad, papa, daddio

The approach of Father's Day always gets me thinking. For one, it makes me miss my own father very much (he died in '99). That was the same year I went through my divorce. We were 800 miles away from the nearest family and I had to go through it without my rock, my father. You can tell me he was and always has been with me in spirit but those are just empty words when all one truly needs is to have the presence in human form of the embodiment of unconditional love.

He wasn't a man of many words despite his articles in The Kankakee Journal's Voice of the People and other various publications. When it came to his kids, his thoughts were many, but his words profound and few.

Our relationship hadn't always been ideal. As a little girl, I was undoubtedly his baby. The last born of the brood he had with my mother, he seemed determined to do right by me. We had a special bond. Then, when my mother passed away in '81, it was quickly severed and we hit years of rough patches. No need to go into detail, but the relationship he and I had was almost withered to non-existent.

Eventually, he would meet and marry a spectacular woman who seemed to, in her own special way, manage to create a pathway for Dad and I (and the other kids) to rejoin. He was more approachable. His anger over losing his spouse of over 30 years had dissipated. My relationship with Harold L. Rapier became better than it had ever been. To know my father as an adult and speak with him in grown up tones was beyond compare.

Dad never minced words when advising me on my life choices, but never lost sight that, ultimately, they were my choices and he respected them. He said his peace and let it go. It couldn't be easy for him to allow me to screw up massively. While those errors must have been hard to witness and bite his tongue with the 'I told you so', he took that energy and converted it into rejoicing the triumphs with verve.

He loved my Mancub without bounds. He knew from the moment they met what unbelievable specialness my baby possessed. "He's an old soul, you know. He reminds me of your mother's uncle." Maybe so as Mancub would jibber jab with the rocking chair that was once my maternal grandfather's -- the brother of the uncle dad compared Mancub to. That chair was my nursing spot. Little man in infancy, would gurgle and coo as if looking at someone beyond my presence. When he learned to get around he'd go to that rocking chair and talk. Again, just babbling, but it seemed to have the cadence of a conversation. I simply accepted it and enjoyed the sound.

Mancub and I miss my dad greatly. What a blessing that little dude had at least 5 years to get to know Grandpa. He was, after all, the only one he knew. My son is 18 now, but those remarkable moments he and dad spent haven't been forgotten. He remembers being given Lion King 2 before we departed grandpa's house on a visit from Georgia. He recalls talking to him on the phone for the last time. Dad always called us on Sundays to get the weekly run down. We may have been separated geographically, but the connection of hearts made it feel we were in the same room.

It is no wonder that Mancub has elected to change his last name to my surname ... the last name of my father. He chooses to carry on my family name. I believe dad's heart would swell with great pride that his grandson would go through the legal rigamarole to have such an honorable last name.

Happy Father's Day, Dad. Mancub and I miss you every day.

Grandma Nancy, Mancub, uncle Aaron and Grandpa

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Gray matter

It's on my head. The gray matter. Not surprising to some of you who know me. No, not my brain or manner of thinking. Although, there are days I wonder how I manage to get my underpants on without falling over. Anywho ...

In July of 2012 I decided that coloring my hair every four weeks to hide the silver roots sprouting forth was far too much. Hated it! Loathed the cost even more and that was with box color. L'Oreal 'cos I'm worth it and all that jazz. My dearest friend had taken me to a Chicago salon for color correction because box color and my lack of knowledge really botched up the roots.

Those bright red roots were not intentional
During the voodoo this adorable young man had to perform to bring me to a more natural state, he insisted that I never do box color again! I promised. The salon maintenance does not agree with my meager pay. What's a poor single mama to do? Go natural.

After months of explaining that I wasn't failing in touching up my roots but intentionally doing this ...
I wore hats ..see the roots on the temples? Distinguished? Not so much

I pulled it back ... and thought it looked cute (gag)

And through the magic of photography ....

I'd had it cut a couple of times. Once, I went to the salon brave enough to let the stylist just chop off the remaining brown hair. She whined lamented that earlier in the week she'd made a woman cry when she took her hair from shoulder length to super short. My argument was that hair grows. I swore I wouldn't yell or cry or take it out on her. She hemmed and hawed until I grew bored with it and caved. She left me with half and half hair. I walked out upset that I let her convince me to throw in the towel to my original plan. It's my damn hair. It grows!!

A couple of months later, after being frustrated and coming close to getting out the clippers and just giving myself a high and tight, I went to the salon, requesting a different stylist, and insisted this new girl cut off the brown. With verve she did just that. My only request was that she not give me the typical middle aged woman hair cut. You know what I'm talking about ... I hope. My request was simple: The style should be funky. The ears must not be cut out.

This is the result. Lots of platinum. I know!!

I've been sporting this new look for a couple of weeks and am still taken off guard when seeing my reflection in the mirror. Not lying, I feel older. The wrinkles are still minimal yet when a woman of 70+ comes in our store I wonder if people think I am her age. It isn't easy letting go of vanity.

The other day it dawned on me that the new look wasn't causing a turn of heads. Meaning, men don't give me a second look. Perhaps if I went to the senior center that might occur. It's not as if my dating opportunities suddenly took a nose dive when my gray was revealed (I haven't had a date in years.) With that epiphany, it helped me embrace the aging process natural to me.

The bottom line is that I am who I am. Accepting myself 'as is -- no warranty' is pivotal step in life. I've just waited half a century to look in the mirror and be happy with what I see.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Weather or not

No, that is not me misspelling a word in the title. It's a play on the phrase. Sheesh.

The weather has been less than agreeable given that it is late Spring. Today, it was a brisk 53 〫 at a local arts festival. Celebrate strawberries and jazz. At least it is referred to as the Strawberry Jazz Festival.

In rebellion against the weather as it was, I wore what would normally be appropriate for this time of year when the temperatures are usually in the upper 80s and sunshine would be baking my shoulders: A sundress and flip flops. My fingers and toes went numb, but damn it! I proved a point to Mother Nature while looking like a fool in comparison to those dressed for the cloudy, chilly weather. Bah. Who cares. I don't embrace fitting in anyway.

There were many art and food vendors. We went specifically for the live entertainment. I should mention this is the first outing the boy has made since graduating. Oy. Even with the cloud cover I hope we got a good dose of Vitamin D.

So, live entertainment. My niece is Go To Hell Kitty in the Acting Out Theatre Company's production of CHICAGO. The cast sang three songs from the show. It looks quite promising. It will be performed in late July on the streets of Momence, IL in front of Off the Vine.

A tad later, several participants of Kankakee Valley Theatre Association performed songs from productions over a 50 year span. They celebrate their 50th season this year. Wow! Pieces of paper were handed out to the audience to guess which shows the songs were from. There were eleven and I guessed them all correctly! As reward for my musical theatre dorkdom, I won a t-shirt. WOOT!

Yes, my desk is messy and that's my big toe

As you can see, I don't let the weather get me down or dictate my mood. Now, if the sun doesn't begin to shine more than it is hidden behind the clouds, I might become a tad bit less joyful in my natural disposition. It's a good policy to make the most of each day in a manner that makes you happy. Weather or not.