Category Archives: Current news

If It’s Cramps, It Must Be Monday

It’s not quite 5 a.m. and I did not sleep much last night. I have the sixth of eight glasses of a powdered laxative and sports drink combination at my side as I write. My fast is almost 24 hours old. The stool softener helped the process, but the stomach cramps are annoying.

If you’re over 50, you recognize this as the “Hooray, It’s Colonoscopy Day” preparation.

There are things you do to stay healthy, standard stuff throughout your life. Eat right, exercise regularly, don’t smoke, don’t do illegal drugs, consume alcohol in moderation. Those cautions have been around as long as food, drink, drugs, tobacco and tempting comfy couches have existed. But we have other temptations now, such as the “digital heroin” of smartphone addiction, online gaming, relentless consumer spending. We don’t think of those as unhealthy because they don’t bring on a fever, chills or a cough. But they impact our lives negatively as well.

Then there’s the endless testing and checkups that increase as you get older. Blood work, screenings, vaccinations, mammograms. And body parts aren’t what they used to be.


It’s your digestive system, not pretty but you really need it to work well.

Teeth crack and fillings don’t fill anymore and fall out. Bruising happens more easily. Cuts that used to heal in two or three days take a week now. And don’t get me started on sore muscles. I have more salves, balms and potions to fight this malady than my local drug store.

But the colonoscopy prep, although the protocol has changed in recent years, is still hard on an older body. But I’m grateful I’m not an older, sicker or diabetic individual, for whom this test is probably more torture than test. And having the test is better than finding out later that your colorectal cancer developed (as it almost always does) from precancerous polyps, easily detected and removed during a colonoscopy. Only two-thirds of Americans age 50 and older are up-to-date on their screenings. Are you? If not, get it done; if you’re underinsured, free and low-cost screening options are available. After all, I hate to drink this stuff alone.


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Filed under Current news, Exercise, health and beauty, Medicine

My Holiday Story (And I’m Sticking To it)

Thanks to my friends Gayle and Paul, I almost got arrested yesterday. Knowing their collective sense of humor, they will probably find this story funny.

I stopped by the post office to drop off a holiday card for these dear friends, and as I was in a hurry, I drove up to the curbside box, a commodious double-wide thing with enough room inside for a football team. Failing to actually look, I attempted to gently place my little card in the slot , and the mailbox upchucked cards all over my car.  Turns out the box was overloaded (probably by some eggnog-addled snowbird who shoved packages down its slot and jammed it), so my one pathetic excuse for a greeting card resulted in a puking postal. I got out of my car (at that point, there was no one pulled up behind me) and picked up the cards, intending to put them back into the impossibly stuffed slot. Fortunately, a nice postal


Yup, my box runneth over, too.

worker came out just in time to empty the box.

Of course, as I am bent over, hands full of other peoples’ mail, who pulls up but a local cop. At that moment, of course it looks like I am committing a federal offense. Call it luck or a lack of desire on his part, but I was spared a set of nice shiny handcuffs, a ride in that tricked-out ridiculous police SUV (why our town cops have them is a puzzle; we live in a village, people!) and worst of all, explaining to my husband how his wife is in jail and he would have to fix his own dinner for one night.

So, if you have a good holiday story, please post, share, tag and laugh about it. We could all us it. And stay safe out there.

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Filed under Current news, Holiday, humor

A better idea for Veteran’s Day

Amidst the backlash, bombast and brouhaha that’s brewing in this country and the NFL regarding standing versus kneeling during the national anthem,  there is yet one more topic of discussion: the idea of a viewer afootvallnd attendance boycott over the upcoming Veteran’s Day weekend. The boycott organizers urge fans not to attend, watch, listen or stream games, not to purchase gear or interact with the National Football League in any way on Sunday, November 12. The boycott page has attracted some interest from a few thousand people and a lot of Likes. Then again, anything that screams “I’m a patriot!” (the American revolutionary kind, as opposed to the New England football team mascot) is going to get attention.

Is this the right kind of reaction? Is kneeling for the national anthem the right kind of reaction? Does either one accomplish a real purpose? In the sense that we can and we do have the opportunity to express our beliefs freely here, there is a purpose. In the sense that we continue all the conversations when our president prefers it to be only one-sided, shutting out any dissent or alternative discourse, the is a purpose. At some point, when attention to this situation wanes and other news relegates it to background noise, we’ll stop giving it so much press and cease caring about it more than nuclear proliferation, starvation, mass shootings and the multiple natural disasters of the last few weeks.

But here’s a better idea. Ask a veteran what they think about this. If you don’t know one, go to your local VA hospital, nursing home, halfway house or senior center. Plenty of vets in these places. Plenty of televisions, too. Offer to sit with a vet on November 12, and listen to their stories and sorrows. Maybe those old soldiers and sailors, those Marines and pilots and gunners can teach you something.  Bring some snacks and a little patience. These folks are slowed by time but worthy of yours. And they just may decide that the whole boycott idea is hooey, because they earned respect and honor without anyone standing up for them before now.

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Filed under Aging, Current news, football, Holiday, National Football League, television, Veteran's Day

It’s True: I Read Playboy for the Articles

imagesHugh Hefner, the publisher of Playboy, died at age 91 on Sept. 27. Loved, reviled, admired, despised, seen as an icon of sexual liberation and a pornography promoter, few people stood in middle ground when discussing him, his empire and his life.

My dad was one of those millions who bought Playboy for something other than the words, and then hid the magazine, figuring the kids would never find it.

He was wrong. And not very good about his hiding places. I found his stash and actually did read them. The naked ladies didn’t mean much. I did not, and do not, look like them, and never associated with anyone who did. I don’t recall feeling personally slighted by the photos. I just never made any real connection to them.

What mattered were the words: the poetry, fiction, short stories and essays by the influential and still unknown. Renown writers I later studied in high school wrote for the magazine: Joseph Heller, John Updike, Norman Mailer, Kurt Vonnegut, Truman Capote, Hunter S. Thompson and Gabriel Garcia Marquez contributed to Playboy. Women’s writing appeared as well: Ursula Le Guin, Joyce Carol Oates and Germaine Greer. And there was The Interview, where the famous, the illustrious and the controversial agreed to a let-it-all-hang-out-sit-down: Jimmy Carter, Donald Trump, Miles Davis, Bette Davis, Stanley Kubrick, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Siskel and Ebert…the Interviews comprise a time capsule of  history as no other print publication ever captured.

If I write well today, it’s because I was influenced by those early readings, and I am grateful for them. I don’t know how the history of the sexual revolution will handle Hugh Hefner, whether he will be embraced or excluded, but this is one writer happy to acknowledge his daring, at least as far as the written word is concerned.

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Filed under Careers, Current news, death, freelancing

Palm Fronds, The Poodle Tree and Banana Bread

We survived Irma. And did pretty well, thank you.

Aside from landscape damage and some fence sections down, the house is fine. The cats were listless and annoyed, likely due to temperatures inside the housimagese getting close to 90° during the 72 hours we were without power. All they wanted to do was eat and sleep, which is pretty much all they do during any normal day.

I made a bazillion trips from backyard to the driveway, dragging tree branches from the one shade-providing tree we had. Let’s just say that in canine terms, it was a big, shaggy dog before the storm. Now it looks like a poodle with a very bad haircut. About half the tree is gone (The Husband did the best surgery he could) and instead of throwing shade, it’s just throwing crumpled leaves.

One palm tree out front snapped in half, and about 10 palm fronds bent, pointy end towards the earth. The Husband expertly removed those, too.  It looks better out there, but my  Sunday afternoon shady car washing spot is history.

When the power returned, I used the bananas I bought pre-storm to make a good banana bread, and shared it with the ladies at my salon. I figured everyone could use a little sweetness at this point. And frankly, there’s nothing like turning the oven up to 350° and baking a loaf of comfort to remind you how nice it is that you can shut off the oven in an hour and the house will still be nice and cool.

Hurricane Irma was ugly in a different way than Hurricane Harvey. It’s made places ugly, unstable and downright unlivable by force of wind and some flooding, rather than wind plus the sheer magnitude of  rain. In both cases, people lost homes, cars, businesses, pets, power and boats. But most have yet to lose their sense of humor and determination to fix up, clean up, restore and revitalize what’s theirs and what belongs to their neighbors and community. Our own house is still a very, very, very fine house, to quote the Crosby, Stills and Nash song.  Keep donating to the hurricane relief efforts of your choice, and help make everyone’s house a very, very, very fine house once more.


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Filed under charity, Current news, donation, Hurricane Irma

College is funny and confuses me

Two of my nieces are now in college, one as a fcollege booksreshman and one a sophomore. And I am confused.

College campuses today are nothing like my college campus forty-something years ago.

Case in point: my brother texts me that he bought his daughter a block of 50 meals to get her started this year. I had no clue what he meant. I assumed he either:

  1. Went to the grocery store, spent a lot of money and borrowed a semi to haul the food to her new apartment,


2.  Ordered from an online meal delivery service, and six FedEx trucks would show up with a forest’s worth of boxes containing artfully packaged ingredients and instruction cards with pretty pictures showing what the final dish is supposed to look like.

Turned out to be neither of these options. He ordered meals on the university’s dining program and put them on her account, so she could grab quick and healthy food between classes without going to her off-campus apartment.

I never had that choice. You lived on campus, you ate on campus (and the food was pretty good). You lived off campus, you were on your own. There were no food courts, coffee shops or pick-and-choose meal plans. The closest we came to choice was the line of vending machines in the Student Union. A walk downtown meant fast food, diner fare and the bars, but the legal drinking age was 21 and you’d gain that “Freshman 15” in a month if you frequented the local restaurants (I do still have a soft spot for sticky buns and Wuv’s onion rings, however).

College kids have ID cards now. The cards are a form of campus credit, used to pay for books, meals, laundry, printing and the like, which is a fine idea. Sadly, the cards identify students, as opposed to angry and violent strangers lurking on campus. I never had that worry back in the day.

Political correctness is a bigger issue today than it used to be. I like the idea of fairness, equality and the need for every voice to be heard. But forty years ago, when a controversial speaker was coming to campus, you did not go to listen if their message was not your message. Or you protested peacefully. There were no threats, violence, beatings or people killed for their personal conduct.

I hope the girls have a great year. I hope they learn a lot and advance in their chosen professions (pre-law and actuarial science). But even more, I hope they enjoy meeting new people, value commitment to a kind and generous world, and never become complacent.

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Filed under Children, Current news, family

Entering the (dev)ice age

I recently took stock of the things that keep my human bits going day after day. It’s not an attractive list.

Multiple prescription meds, including the one recently added for chronic dry eye syndrome (not caused by swimming, but probably not helped by it, either). The OTCs, including pills for major muscle pain; the balms, salves, ointments, creams and patches for assorted aches; the earplugs (so I can sleep), the elbow brace (keeps my right arm straight to prevent nighttime cramps), saline nasal solution (periodic allergy relief), mouth guard (for TMJ), the toe separator (bunion that needs removal some day)…


For the days when this was all we needed for play.

Some of the issues are age-related: the body breaks down and does not recover like it used to. Some are stress-related, some are inherited. As I gaze at the medicine cabinet, with more first aid products than my local pharmacy, I sometimes wonder how I still get up and function. It does not surprise me that people give in to pain, relying on prescription painkillers, booze and the indulgence of others to relieve their suffering. I used to watch a show on the A&E network called Intervention, where family and friends of an addict would lead them into a meeting and tell the addict they were loved and cherished, but admission into a treatment facility was something they had to do, or everyone in the room was forsaking them. I was fascinated with how people got to the point of addiction and living at their lowest point in the first place, particularly when many addicts seem to start out with a normal life. Both the state and county I reside in are in the midst of an opioid epidemic, where people overdose and die every day. Most of these dead are young people, whose lives were unremarkable until things took one bad turn. Pain started,  pain moved into unbearable territory, drugs came next and the war they would never win began.


I am happy every day for my average life, with average challenges. I’ll take this any day, along with average aches and pains, over dealing with worse. Meanwhile, I noticed these new compression running socks online the other day and I was wondering…


A job update: I am starting part-time work next week, with a very nice property management company. Nice people, good hours, and interesting work. Looking forward to trying something new!

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Filed under athletic competition, blogging, Current news, Cycling, drugs, Exercise, mental health, opioid