Shopping For the Body You Want

Just as I walked into the great room, I heard the person on TV saying: “Get the body you want.” Until that instant I thought I already had the body I wanted. But now curious, I couldn’t rest until I obtained information on getting a different body. So I decided to find out how much the body I might really want would cost. The choices offered ranged from a well-toned body to a celebrity body, and I was assured that I could have a face that would be aesthetically balanced, visually stunning, radiant, and youthful. The word “youthful” kept me searching.

The first step to getting a new body requires a gym membership and personal trainer. I partially lucked out there. My health insurance springs for a membership in Silver Sneakers®, and at the facility were I’m a member I have access to all kinds of body toning equipment that I have no idea how to use. No personal trainer, though. But I’m good with Google, so I think I can probably do the personal trainer bit via the internet. No cost.

A diet plan is also a requirement for getting a new body. I had heard that Dr. Oz promotes a one-day diet. I liked the sound of that, so I checked it out. Unfortunately, my research uncovered a ruse. Every day is day one of the diet. I used to entice my kids with that same kind of incentive until they attained the age of – well, maybe two. The diet plan I really like includes a chef and meals delivered to my door for only $40 a day. I’m sure I can slip that little sum right past Hubby’s watchful eye without him even noticing!

The third step to acquiring a new body is what I now call the “buff and bedeck” step. I was sure this part of my new body would be reasonably priced. However, I found that not to be the case. At a minimum, “buff” requires seventeen different products. Eight of these products are just for the face. And now that I know I should have been using all of these products rather than relying just on my 99 44/100% pure bar, I’m no longer shocked that I totally look my age.

While “buff” products remove all skin cells that are not essential for survival, “bedeck” products conceal any facial skin that has miraculously avoided obliteration. Not surprisingly, all “bedeck” products must be removed nightly with a whole different collection of “buff” products.

Net shopping for what would be considered fair quality “buff” and “bedeck” products, and not even taking into consideration suggested cologne, perfume, body mists, wrinkle removers, and sunscreen, I came up with a total of $425 to design a new body starter kit.

I’ve been thinking about how new body shopping could be made much easier for others than it has been for me. Therefore, I plan to design a business model for a Full Image New Body Shopping Center. Included will be a gym complete with swimming pool and trainers, a beauty salon, a nail salon, a spa, a buff shop next door to a bedeck shop, a supermarket style diet center for shopping diet options, a health food store, a vitamin shop, a perfumery and, at the very center of the mall, an “if all else fails” anchor store for plastic surgery and cosmetic dentistry. Any investors out there?


Snow On Easter

When I think about Easter lots of images come to mind. Snow is not one of them. The weather forecasters did give us fair warning when they told us last week that the Easter Bunny might need snowshoes here in the Pikes Peak region. But, having once read a disclaimer in the Indianapolis Star that said, “Weather predicted more than one day in the future is strictly for entertainment purposes,” I chose to ignore the forecast and looked forward with enthusiasm to a beautiful, sunny Easter.

There was no indication that the Easter Bunny stopped at my house. I hope that was just an oversight and totally unrelated to the whole “being good” thing connected with Santa’s arrival to fill my stocking at Christmastime. But, even though I didn’t see the Easter Bunny or his little tracks, I have to assume that he wore his snowshoes in order to keep his paws from freezing.

While the snowfall where I live up next to the foothills was light, some areas of our city got up to three inches, and in the mountains there was much more. The positive to having snow on Easter is that we needed the moisture to help with the prevention of wild fires. An indication of how desperate we are for moisture was underscored a couple of weeks ago when the weather person on the channel I was watching exuberantly reported, “On my way to work this evening, I saw a couple of raindrops on my windshield.”

From my observation, it did not appear that the mindset of people who attend church on Easter had changed much because of our inclement weather. One might think people would get their winter coats back out in an effort to keep warm. Not so! I did not see a single person wearing a coat as they came in to our all-church Easter breakfast. The mind over matter attitude prevailed. If we believed it was a beautiful, warm Easter day, then it was a beautiful, warm Easter day.

As always, the kiddos looked adorable in their new Easter outfits. One little gal wore a stunning sheer, white, sleeveless dress and her dolly had a miniature matching frock. A Coat? Absolutely not! I did have to wonder how many temper tantrums it took to get out of the house in that little garment. But, after I thought about it, I decided that if I were the mom and had spent the kind of bucks no doubt required to outfit princess and her dolly, I probably would have kicked them right out the door in those outfits. Wear something warm? Not a chance! This is what you were whining and begging for and this is what you are wearing. Okay, I might not have been quite that bad of a mom.

I really am very grateful for the moisture we got over the weekend. In order to illustrate our need for the Easter snow, I’m including some pictures I took last week in our condo commons area.

The green is the tennis court – beyond is the grass.

The tree outside of our front door - standing there contemplating whether or not it wants to expose new leaves to the cold weather.

This is the one lonely little flower in the “grass” in front of our condo. But...

...this is our view. (Note the Aspen – the only kind of tree in our complex that loves cold weather and, like the people at church, pretends it is warm enough to wear spring attire.)


My Favorite Day Of The Year

Included in the reading my mom did with her children when they were growing up were Bible stories. These stories were contained in a thick hardcover book and included beautiful color illustrations.

No modern TV adventure could possibly have rivaled the thrill of those stories as Mom read about the close calls of Old Testament characters and the miracles of the New Testament. What kid wouldn’t get caught up in the suspense when Daniel was thrown into the lions den or little David went alone to face the giant? And while I liked the adventures of the Old Testament, I was captivated by the miracles of the New Testament and wished many times that I could see a miracle take place. But the story I loved most was the Easter story.

In our home we had many Easter traditions. We had new Easter clothes, we dyed and hid Easter eggs, we went to church, and Easter dinner was a spread without equal. Going to church was something we did every Sunday, but Easter was the most special of all the Sundays. On Easter Sunday, we sang the resurrection hymns, “Christ Arose,” “Christ the Lord is Risen Today,” “He Lives.” We sang with smiles on our faces. We sang with passion. Our singing expressed the joy that inhabited our very beings.

During the week before Easter, we had been reminded of the betrayal, the crucifixion, and of the long silent day in the tomb. But even with the sadness we felt for the hurt and humiliation our Lord suffered, we already knew that Sunday would be our day to celebrate. We already knew how the story ended. We were the believers.

Today is Maundy Thursday or Holy Thursday, and today Christians commemorate the Last Supper of Jesus with his disciples.

Tomorrow is Good Friday, the day when Christians commemorate the passion and death of Jesus Christ.

Saturday is Holy Saturday, the day when Christians symbolically wait by the tomb and reflect on Christ’s sacrifice for their salvation.

Sunday is Easter, the day Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

He is Risen!

Cross hand carved by a Colorado Springs disabled veteran.


My Life As An Actress

While reading the Old Testament book of Esther last week with my Bible study group, my mind traveled back many years to an experience I had at the little private Christian school where I attended seventh and eighth grades. That this school was the smallest school in the city would not be in question. Grades one through four met in a small cottage across the playground from the sponsoring church and, in a room at the back of this church, grades five through eight had classes. As I recall, there were eight students in my classroom and one rather rigid teacher.

Skipping the details concerning required theology readings, all day prayer sessions, and campus rules, I’ll go directly to the reason for this post, to tell you about my short-lived career in acting.

Seventh grade came and went with no mention of an event for our parents. But in the spring of my eighth grade year, we were informed that we would be performing a play, and our parents were to be invited. The play had been written by the primary grades teacher, and the entire school would comprise the cast. It was a play based on the story of Esther.

The story of brave Esther saving her people was one of my favorite Bible stories, so to be able to perform in a play about that story should have peaked my interest. It didn’t. I had learned to dread performances. Every year at Christmastime, our church presented a program with recitations by the younger kids and a pageant performed by junior and senior high school students. How special to get up in front of a church full of adults who laughed at our mistakes while we stood, knees knocking, trying to remember our lines!

Upon hearing the news about the play, I immediately started trying to discover the path to non-involvement. Since the play was to be performed on the same night as the mid-week service at our church, I figured I’d get an automatic exemption. Missing mid-week service happened only in cases of dire illness or providing a death certificate. Well, I had only tried the illness excuse, but I always assumed a death certificate would also work. At any rate I was sure mid-week service was my ticket out of the performing arts.

To my dismay, mid-week service was quickly eliminated as an excuse. Miss Rather Rigid was way ahead of the game. She called all parents to get permission for us to participate and, for reasons unclear to me, performing in a play at another church became an acceptable reason for a mid-week skip. My father, the pastor of our church, would not be attending the play. And, although Miss Rather Rigid had no idea, my knowledge that Dad and his high expectations would not be present on performance night did not bode well for her as the director.

With the non-participation option out, my second choice was to snag a non-speaking part. But the cast had been pre-selected. I was Esther. Not only did I have the most speaking parts, but now, after having spent seventh and eighth grades dismissing a certain young fellow by tossing my head and rolling my eyes, I now had to bow down to him.

Rehearsals should have been Miss Rather Rigid’s first clue that the play should be cancelled prior to opening. My close proximity to the “King” meant ad-libs through clenched teeth. HRH pronounced me not pretty enough to be Esther. Esther responded to King Shrimp that he was not tall enough to be a king. All the while, the cast of extras giggled and Miss Rather Rigid made threats, one of those being the aforementioned all day prayer session.

During rehearsals, Esther’s bravery lost standing with the cast as their favorite part of the story. Now we all cheered when Haman was sentenced to hang on his own gallows. Okay, it was the junior high kids who cheered.

On opening night, the cast, dressed in curtains, bathrobes, assorted scarves, and two cardboard crowns, stumbled through a poorly rehearsed performance for the little audience of parents. And when I think back to that play and being cast opposite King Shrimp, I now know how clever Miss Rather Rigid was and how well she knew her class. Following the closing of the one night run of our play, she must have smiled to the heavens and shouted, “Yes!”


I Won!

In general, I consider myself a winner. Each time I overcome an obstacle, witness family achievements, wake up to coffee prepared by Hubby, or have lunch with a friend, I am reminded that I’m a big time winner. But winning recognition or a reward is not something I have experienced often during my lifetime.

My narrow definition of winning includes: 1) acquiring something for which I gave nothing in exchange, 2) coming in first, or 3) being recognized for unusual accomplishment. So, according to my definition, the lottery is excluded. Purchasing of lottery tickets must logically be categorized as high-risk investing.

Winning has happened for me a few times in my life. My first big win happened in third grade. My teacher, a person I remember mostly for her big jewelry and bright red lipstick, gave the class an assignment to write a paper about fire prevention. Then she told us we needed to do an excellent job because our writing would be entered in a contest.

As a young child I was rather uptight, and near the top of my uptight list were things like staying out of the principal’s office, pleasing my teachers, and receiving praise from my parents for good grades. Therefore, as with all assignments, I worked diligently to complete my paper. But this assignment was of more interest to me than were most assignments. Fire prevention is a big deal in Colorado, and Smokey the Bear was one of my childhood heroes, ranking right up there with Superman and Uncle Sam.

Once my paper was drafted in pencil, I carefully recopied it using my big kid dip-pen. Then I turned the paper in to the teacher and forgot about it. I already knew from almost three years in the system that writing assignments usually vanished into the vast unknown, never to be seen again.

Imagine my surprise a few weeks later when Mrs. H. stood before the class and announced that winners of the fire prevention writing contest had been chosen. I came in second. My prize? Along with the first and third place winners, I was invited to read my winning essay on a Saturday morning radio show. My dad’s prize was to drive me to the station, wait through a long rehearsal, and stick around until the show was over.

Subsequent winnings have been few, but special enough to me that I will mention them here. My sixth-grade pencil sketch titled, “Llama,” won first place for my school and was displayed at the Fine Arts Center; at a home show my name was drawn to receive a beautifully matted and framed picture; and during conferences and meetings I attended, I was chosen to cart home such things as a science fiction novel, a certificate for a complete dental check-up, and a bouquet of flowers.

Recently, I won again. Just a few days ago I received an email that read: “Congratulations! You were the 10,000th visitor to the blog, String Too Short to Tie. You have won this email from the owner of the blog, who appreciates your patronage.”

This is my brother’s blog and I am a faithful reader. Among his writings one will find original essays, historical accounts, trips down memory lane, humorous personal experiences, biographical sketches, reports of notable events, and descriptions of interesting places. You might enjoy visiting Dave at: http://vanilla-ststt.blogspot.com/


What Do Retired People Do With Their Time?

People often ask me, “What do you do with all of your free time now that you’re retired?” In all honesty, I used to wonder how people filled up their time when they no longer had jobs. But then I retired. And what I discovered was that retirement presents unique problems that need to be resolved, and doing so consumes considerable amounts of time.

Before I retired, the computer I used for my work was protected by sophisticated filters that screened out unwanted email. Rarely did an email that could be considered spam breach the system. But with retirement and no more filters, I became dependent on downloaded antivirus programs and soon discovered that my space would be invaded on a daily basis. These invasions are in the form of unwanted email messages.

The first of the series of messages I have received expressed great concern for my safety and well-being. I was advised that it is important to periodically check my credit score. I was cautioned to be sure that I’m not underinsured. I was offered an identity theft protection plan. I was warned that my car is now old enough to pose a danger to me. I diligently tagged these messages as “Spam.” Problem fixed! Not so fast.

Barely having finished with spam-tagging the string of concern-related messages, I began to receive pleasure-related messages. I was offered cruises, prizes, daily horoscope readings, package deals on ski trips, invitations for river rafting adventures, and a discount on an electronic cigar that can be “smoked” in public places without violating Colorado’s smoke-free law.

As each email arrived, I assigned it to spam and hoped maybe I was getting a handle on the problem. That was when someone out there with great phishing software became concerned about my health. That meant I could purchase discount diabetes supplies (don’t have diabetes), follow up on the recall of my hip replacement (don’t have one), and acquire various health-related products for the aging that I never even knew existed. Now I’m starting to say not very nice things, to no one in particular, as I spam-tag.

The fourth wave of messages was apparently intended to convince me that I should do something about my lack of education. Three degrees apparently are not enough. I was invited to enroll in college classes, given opportunities to apply for grants so I could complete my degree, and offered low interest rates on college loans. I was now starting to delete rather than tag many of the messages.

The fifth group of phishermen apparently had deficient software that did not pick up on the fact that I’ve been happily married for fifty-four plus years. So, I was quite surprised to receive a message titled, “Tired of being single? That message was soon followed by messages asking me if I was interested in senior romance and if I would like to meet senior singles in my area. (Yes to romance, right here at home; no to meeting.) But the zinger arrived this morning. The complete title of this email was: “We’ve matched you with a sweet single near you.” I’m sure Hubby will be so pleased.

Over the past month or so I’ve been receiving offers that I would really like to consider. These are work at home opportunities. What retiree wouldn’t consider a job making thousands of dollars a month a dream job? And this while sitting in front of one’s own computer for only a few hours a day! But, as tempting to me as these offers may be, I have to pass on all of them. I already have a full-time job tagging unwanted email as spam.


Manners, Obsessions, and Other Family Matters

I grew up with a Dad who loved life and saw the funny side in almost every circumstance. If I close my eyes and think about it, I can still hear the sound of his unique laugh and the tunes he whistled while he worked.

Dad had his softer teddy bear side, but in some circumstances he could be a bear. This meant that his reprimands were sometimes stern and that he had some rigidly established guidelines his children were expected to follow.

When I was young, household rules were usually instituted and monitored by mothers, and that was true in our home: close the door; wipe your feet; cover your mouth when you cough; wash your hands before eating; don’t make fingerprints on the walls; pick up after yourself – the whole drill. But Dad was the one who sometimes had precise techniques and firm guidelines for specific things.

When I watch people in restaurants, I think about Dad and know that he would have gone nuts trying to fix the habits of some of the diners. Dad wasn’t a scientist, but he had studied eating habits and created rigid guidelines for successful eating.

According to Dad’s “Principles of Eating,” the position and angle of the body with relationship to the table while one is eating are of great importance. By his calculations, a diner should sit about six inches from the table’s edge. A diner’s back is to be held stick-straight, and his/her body must lean slightly forward before taking each bite. As the eating utensil comes to one’s mouth, the chin should be aligned directly above the edge of the table. Dad’s method, we were promised, ensured that food arrived safely in the mouth without mishaps or spills.

Elbow placement while eating was equally precise. An elbow was never to stray more than about an inch away from the rib cage. Getting food into one’s mouth was, according to Dad, the function of the elbow joint, and was never to involve the extension of the arm or elbow into another diner’s space. And, of course, an elbow was never to make its way to the tabletop. If this should happen, we would hear the rhyme: “Mable, Mable, if you’re able; get your elbow off the table.”

An additional requirement, once food arrived safely in one’s mouth, was related to chewing. By Dad’s standards, food was to be thoroughly pulverized before being swallowed. And he seemed to know if swallowing occurred while the food still contained any particles distinguishable from pureed fruit.

Table issues were not the only things about which Dad was fanatical. The Bibles in our home never, and I mean never, had anything on top of them. I was educated concerning this issue very early in life. There simply was no such thing as inadvertently placing something on top of God’s Word. An infraction of this rule meant a one-on-one teaching session with Dad concerning the sacredness of God's Word.

Dad would have been the first to admit that his tools were not sacred, but he did have some explicit rules that applied to their use and care. (Maybe this is the reason no carpenters or decorators are listed in the numbers of his offspring.)

I’m actually grateful for the early training I received in my home. But some of that training may just possibly contribute to the fact that I can be a little obsessive. (Are there degrees of being obsessive? I’m not sure.) If you want to see obsessive in action, you might observe what happens when . . . on second thought, maybe I shouldn’t tell.


Indianapolis and the Case of Mistaken Identity

When someone shares with me about a convention or conference they are attending, my eyes start to glaze over. This reaction is no doubt related to the fact that I have attended so many conventions and conferences during my lifetime that I’m all “conferenced-out.”

Places I visited on my path to joining the ranks of non-attendees include the great cities of Miami, Austin, San Antonio, Albuquerque, San Diego, Kansas City, Chicago, New York City, Atlanta, Baltimore, New Orleans, Tucson, Phoenix, Des Moines, and Indianapolis. Not necessarily in that order, and some more than once. All of the places were great, all of the conventions, well, not so much.

Conference and convention planners understand the need to promote not only the conference agenda, but also the location. Aware attendees understand that what these planners are really promoting is attendance. In order to bolster attendance, some planners schedule motivational speakers and entertainers, book local tours, and broker deals with tourist attractions in the area. Other planners just leave free time in the schedule for people to explore the sights and, in my case, find great shopping.

At the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis, a large shopping center can be accessed without so much as leaving the comfort of the convention complex. Just by following enclosed walkways from the main convention area, one will arrive at the site of a large number of stores. Anyone who knows me knows where I spent my spare time while I was there.

It was during one of my excursions to this masterfully crafted money pit that I discovered a new beauty secret, eyebrow threading. A sign outside of the threading shop indicated that this process originated in India and that it would be quick and painless.

I watched for a few minutes as a young employee of the little shop skillfully twisted and rolled a length of thread along the surface of her client’s skin. When she finished, the client had perfectly shaped eyebrows.

Always up for something new, I decided to utilize this method and rid my brows of any unwanted little hairs. This was my first, and only, threading, but it was also the first time I remember feeling I was getting old. Much younger clients emerged from the shop with smiles and beautifully shaped brows. No smile or great look for me! The young lady assigned as my professional threader attempted to remove the little skin folds below my brows. Hence, I returned to my hotel room with tiny red nicks where my skin had been mistakenly identified as hair. These nicks were accompanied by noticeable and embarrassing swelling, making it appear that I had developed some strange malady. To say I was annoyed would be an understatement.

So, if you ever run across one of those threading places and are tempted, you might want to take a look in a mirror before committing. All such places need a warning sign that reads: “Successful Only for the Young,” or maybe “Our Employees May Have Poor Eyesight.”