Tag Archives: Friendships

Swim in a meet, meet new friends

Watch and learn: even when you're waiting for your event, other swimmers teach a lesson.

Watch and learn: even when you’re waiting for your event, other swimmers teach a lesson.

I drove (and swam) a little outside the proverbial comfort zone this weekend. I went to a three-day swim meet about two hours away.

I’m wiped out, but it was worth it.

I was the only swimmer from my team to make the trip (hey, you’ll have to ask the other swimmers why they didn’t go!) and of course, it gets a little lonely being a solo act. Fortunately, I was adopted by another team. The group was from Georgia, and there wasn’t a “y’all” to be heard from any of them. Actually, they all sounded like they were from anywhere except the Peach State. Their hospitality, however, was pure Southern. They want me to come to their next meet. They’ve promised me great barbecue and adult beverages. I’m not planning on turning any of that down, by the way.

As for the meet itself: it went well enough. I brought back some hardware.  There were a lot of better swimmers there, and a lot of old swimmers. And by old, we’re talking about athletes age 85 and older, who can still go fearlessly off the blocks and haul hindquarters up and down the meter lanes with the best of the whippet-thin whippersnappers. I saw family while I was there; my niece was my counter for one of the long races. I warned her that what she would see at a Masters meet was nothing like the high-school team she coaches. “You’ll see bodies that don’t belong in these kinds of swimsuits,” I said. “And body parts that should never, ever see the light of day. Just letting you know.”

Her reaction? “I hope I can still swim when I am as old as some of these people!”

Kids say the darndest things. And I agree with her. I hope I can still swim when I hit the age where they stop bothering to keep official records. By the time I reach that age, it shouldn’t matter anyway. What should matter is that I’ve made more friends than I can count (and hopefully, they’re still around) and that I can stagger out of bed each day and steer my rear to the nearest pool.

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Filed under Aging, Exercise, family, Relationships, Swimming, thought, travel

A Real Friend Likes You After You Eat An Onion Sandwich

English: me and my friend

I’m not one of those people who lives in accordance with the number of “Likes” I get on Facebook.

And while I appreciate my Twitter followers, I don’t spend time agonizing over how many I have or who I follow.

And some days, the legitimate comments I get on my blogs and my food column are outnumbered by the spam slammers promising me everything from more Google hits to a greatly increased libido.

If the year’s personal losses have taught me anything, it’s the value and definition of true friends. I have one of those, and I spent time with him this weekend. He has recently experienced the deepest and most personal pain of life’s losses, but he has such grace, humor and kindness, that his sorrows seem to sit lightly on him, if you don’t know him. I was supposed to be the strong friend this weekend, the listener, the one with the shoulder to lean on. Turns out I needed strength, an understanding ear and a place to lean, too.

We cried, laughed, had lunch, shared and remembered, and I realized that this friend of nearly thirty years is someone with whom I don’t have to be a politically correct, always-in-control, grown-up human. I can say anything without causing him shock, ask him anything and get an honest answer (even if it’s not one I want to hear) and know that what is said between stays there.

Everyone should be fortunate to have several close friends; a network of people to rely on at any hour. If you think of life as a car, the scenario will occur when all four tires go flat at once, the steering wheel falls off, the transmission starts shifting on its own and the engine makes a noise like a locomotive just hit your living room. That’s when you need those friends.

Because I also write about food, I guess the best way to characterize our friendship is to put it into food terms. He’s the kind of friend who still wants to be with you right after you’ve eaten an onion sandwich. And I am one lucky soul, stinky breath and all.

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Filed under food, inspirations, mental health, Relationships, thought

Wedding Shower Survived. Now Dive Into The Deep End Of the Crazy Pool

English: Bride and groom at the ruins of Sutro...

English: Bride and groom at the ruins of Sutro baths. California, USA. Français : Deux jeunes mariés dans les ruines de Sutro Baths, en Californie (États-Unis). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My friend “T” made it to her nephew’s wedding shower over the weekend. She said the food was good and the restaurant was nice. All went well, considering their party had no reservations. Then again, it was a barbecue joint that didn’t “do” reservations, but that’s another story for another blogpost.

No word on how her highly sensible gift card was received. Since it wasn’t something on the BtB’s wish list, one can only assume she looked at it thought “Hmmmmm…” Hopefully, she at least said “Thank you so much!” out loud.

The ride to the shower was apparently quite instructive, “T” tells me. The nephew (groom-to-be, GtB) is the son of “T’s” sister, and sis held back nothing in terms of how stressful it all has been:

  • The choice of restaurant for the rehearsal dinner is out of the GtB’s parents’ price range. GtB has now accused his folks of trying to ruin his wedding.
  • MooG (Mother of the Groom) wants to have a talk with BtB to explain why relatives just cannot afford items on her registry. But she’s still too much in shock about the invites going out without stamps on the RSVP envelopes or maps to the venue, and the fact that this still-in-college couple “must have” only the best to start out their new lives.
  • The serving of alcohol issue: GtB’s dad is a recovering alcoholic and won’t put in a penny towards booze for anyone.
  • The BtB’s sister and her infant are here visiting from a former Soviet bloc country and don’t speak a word of English. They are staying in the BtB/GtB’s apartment for either the next two or next three months, depending on who you ask.

Needless to say, it’s getting pretty emotionally crowded in that family. The wedding is a month away. I’m considering sending my friend a case of name-brand pain relievers.

“T” is doing her best to stay out of it, and just be a sympathetic ear for her sister. She has elderly parents to worry about; they will soon have to move to a location that is safer and easier for family members to watch them, but will likely remove what little is left of their independence. Been there, faced this, and while my mother passed away before a resolution was reached, the process of getting one’s parent(s) into a new environment is monumentally difficult from both a legal/paperwork process and an emotional one. It makes the selfishness of this particular BtB and GtB seem especially petty. I mean, $60 for a single pillow sham? People still use pillow shams? I thought those were only featured in high-end furniture catalogs, just for show.

Still to come: the rehearsal dinner, the bachelor party (without the GtB, since he could not agree on the date with his best buds) and of course, the big day.

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The No-Plan Wedding: Big Hair, Mom’s Food, Margarita Machine

The brother of a friend of mine is getting married in just a few weeks.  My friend, a fellow blogger, is the wedding-planner-by-default.

The BtB (bride-to-Be) is best described as part ditz, primarily drama queen. The groom is simply a man in love, though is family thinks he is settling rather than seeking Ms. Right. The “plans” for the wedding are not exactly the best-laid type. Rather, they sound more like something an ADD-addled third grader might make up while bored in reading class:

  • The happy couple forgot to take the day off before the wedding from their respective jobs.
  • The only beverages ordered for the reception of about 100 guests: soda, a margarita machine and a single keg of beer. Neither the keg nor the machine were scheduled to be delivered the night before the reception, so they could be chilled, filled and tested.
  • No one is yet designated to get the keg, flowers and cake to the wedding/reception site. They’ve all be ordered, but minus any means of getting from places of origin to final destination.
  • Total number of chairs ordered for 100 guests: 20. Only the elderly and the parents/grandparents of the bride and groom will be asked to sit down. Everyone else will be standing, for both the wedding ceremony and the reception.
  • Featured food for the reception is barbecue. Not sure how one gracefully eats barbecue standing up. Pick up the pieces, tilt head back, open wide and drop ’em down, perhaps? Then fold the plate (because you know this is a paper-plate wedding, of course) and drink the sauce along with the small bits.
  • BtB insists only one hairstylist on earth can do her hair for the big day. No, stylist cannot possibly come to the wedding venue (read: she doesn’t want to pay her extra to do that) so blogger friend/wedding planner will driver her to the salon, close to an hour’s drive, for an 8 a.m. appointment on the day of the wedding. Then drive like she’s up to her eyeballs in espresso to get her back in time for the ceremony. All this for a teased and sprayed updo that’s supposed to survive a South Texas wedding starting at high noon.
  • And as for the wedding venue – it’s outdoors at the couple’s home. In the event of rain, there is a backup plan. It’s their garage. That’s right, they may have to promise to love and cherish each other until death do them part, right there among the rusty coffee cans of screws and nuts. There is at least one Jeff Foxworthy “Redneck” joke in there somewhere.

There is one bright spot in all this. My friend’s mom is doing nearly all the food, so at least there’s a guarantee that 1) it will be good and 2) it will arrive on time and be enough to feed everyone. As for the rest of this event, it does sound like something out of The Down and Out Guide to Dirt-Cheap, No-Budget Weddings.

There will be a follow-up blogpost after the vows are exchanged. After all, you don’t want to be left wondering, do you?

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Eye Can’t Decide: Too Young for Surgery, or Too Late for Moisturizer?

I look in the mirror at least twice a day: once to get presentable in the morning, and once to scrape it all off at night.

I’ll sneak a peek throughout the day, to check my hair, my lipstick and make sure my teeth don’t contain any remnants of my lunchtime salad. But overall, I’m not really vain when it comes to my appearance. Until I started noticing my eyes. Specifically, the area around my eyes. It’s looking a bit worse for the wear.

I’m in my fifties, a period of time I refer to as “Medium Age” rather than middle age, since all this talk started about sixty being the new forty, and lately, eighty becoming the new sixty. No one seems to agree on a standard point of reference, so why should I refer to myself as being in the middle of anything, let alone a lifetime? There are things you experience as you get into these years, and they’re nothing like those frolicky commercials featuring tanned seniors on cruise ships and slightly-gray-at-the-temples couples sitting in his-and-hers bathtubs following a (presumably) wild night of little blue pill-fueled hijinks.

You experience aches and pains in places that you can no longer reach. You can’t eat at the endless buffet anymore, without experiencing what feels like an endless stint on the porcelain throne the next day.  You can’t pound down a six-pack of anything without your kidneys howling and your bladder leaking sufficiently to make you think adult diapers could be useful.

You experience sadness and loss, as your friends become less likely to go out for a night of fun, and more likely to stay home because they cannot drive at night anymore. Trips to the movies and the mall become fewer as retirement arrives and the budget shrinks. Phone calls announcing So-and-So is in the hospital no longer surprise you.

Change is the pavement on the road of our lives. Smooth, bumpy, potholed, straight, narrow or covered with fallen debris – it’s all there. My eyes are representative of those changes. I cannot reverse what is, but I can make repairs, go around what I cannot fix and do what I can and lessen the damage later on. The doctor said no eye surgery for now, so the eye cream coupons will come in handy. And speaking of hijinks, The Husband is eating a Whoopie Pie for breakfast…

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$*!*# The Holidays, I’m Not Peaceful And Calm

The holidays don’t exactly suck this year, but they’re not the picture-perfect, Normal Rockwell illustration, either.

Mom is entering rehab/long-term care, and I need to be there tomorrow morning, with her personal items, so she can start some semblance of what will be the rest of  her life. Then I begin to shut down or suspend her old life. Phone, mail, cable, newspaper, banking, credit cards and all the everyday stuff many of us do without thinking will change. I am glad we are at the beginning of some form of closure, though I have no doubt that she will hate it – and me, particularly, for doing this. Anyone who’s faced with this decision understands the choice, or lack of it. Cannot stay alone, cannot afford the luxury of staying in one of our homes (none of us can quit our jobs), not ready to be at home with an aide.

None of us want it, for ourselves or anyone we care about. But it happens every day. I take some comfort in that. And some of my friends have been along for this messy train wreck of a ride, including many of my virtual posting friends, one of whom sent me a little holiday ditty, punning on my name, and those of a few other fellow board posters:

“Jake The Halls with Matzah Balls, iggy’s gettin’ jiggy, so is nancypooh. We’ll have lots of Matzah soup, iggy’s gettin’ jiggy, so is nancypooh. Don we now our chatting slouch wear, iggy’s gettin’ jiggy, so is nancypooh. A comfy bed is gently calling, iggy’s gettin’ jiggy, so is nancypoooooooooh.”

Heck, I thought it was cute. He made it up when I mentioned there was a distinct lack of Hanukkah music on the radio during the holidays, and I could not listen to one more rendition of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” or “Little Drummer Boy” without pulling over to the side of the road and randomly shooting at passing cars. When your holidays aren’t going well, you hate to see anyone else having a good time. It just doesn’t seem fair.

But then you think about people who don’t have  jobs, and aren’t likely to find jobs anytime soon. About the servicemen and women who didn’t live to see the holidays, and their loved ones who will never see them again. About the elderly who live alone and have nothing to look forward to, not even a visit from a neighbor.  About the children who want what the other kids have, but those things aren’t possible when your family is homeless and living in a shelter, or a car.

None of this is meant to be a downer, or a lecture on  “don’t complain, someone else always has it worse than you.” It’s just a basis for comparison. Our situation can and will get better and be resolved. For many, there is no getting better, and in resolution, there is still no healing. I’ll take all the help I can get, whether it’s a  favor or a funny song from a friend.

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Filed under Aging, family, Holiday, Relationships

Praise the Past and Pass Me the Deviled Eggs

It’s been a rough few weeks, as I have previously mentioned. But I get a break tomorrow.

I’m getting together with friends and heading to a local amphitheater for some Shakespeare and supper on the lawn. Yes, it’s summer in South Florida. I know it’s hot outside, and even after 6 p.m. things don’t cool down a whole lot, even near the beach. But with good food, good friends and enough bug spray and adult beverages, all will be more than well. It will be excellent.

Everyone is contributing different foods: tiny sandwiches, fruit, crudites and dip, exotic chips. But my personal plan is to eat myself into a deviled egg coma. Margaret makes the deviled eggs for all occasions, and they are rich, and  stupidly addictive. She makes different-flavored varieties, and no matter how many of her artery-clogging creations she brings, none go home with her. 

Where did this most favored morsel get its start, anyway?  And why do we like them?

According to The Deviled Egg Gourmet, no one person gets credit for their invention. The idea for stuffed eggs has been around since ancient Rome, and the term “deviled egg” has been in use since the 17th century. They are classic party food and perfect finger food. They can be expensive calorie and fat-wise, yet they don’t feel like it because they seem so small;  just a mouthful. You can keep them simple, with mayonnaise, mustard and seasonings. You can dress them up with curry, capers, pickles, bacon, paprika or just about anything else you have in the fridge or pantry. I am happy to forgo most food for a day, and put in hours of exercise, for the privilege of partaking in bite after bite of firm white outside and creamy yellow filling, enhanced with just about any seasoning or additive. I don’t know why I like them, or why I am not picky about flavorings. There is something both childish and childlike about deviled eggs. Eating them is like going back to your grade-school lunchroom, brown bag and all, when choices in food, friends and fun were simple and obvious, unclouded by technology and adult concerns.

This time tomorrow, the play will no longer be the thing. The coolers will be packed, chairs folded, trashed gathered. And I’ll be feeling a little bit of cholesterol-induced guilt and shame, but a whole lot more  of “devilishly good eggs, weren’t they?”

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