And climb the stairs to the beach...

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A Dead Whale Or A Stove Boat

Yesterday I went golfing for the first time in just three weeks. I don't understand it. It really hasn't been that long since I was in the habit of golfing 3 times a week with little or no discomfort the next day. Eighteen holes is cause for an afternoon nap, for sure, but not for the way I felt when I woke up this morning.

My back felt like I'd spent the previous day in the park as one of those living statues, bent over and unmoving for hours at a time. My legs felt like I'd walked from Naples to Cape Cod. Even my fingers hurt like I'd just typed War and Peace or "Ladies of the Club" which is the longest novel I've ever read at 1,344 pages. Incidentally, if you've never read it, especially if you are familiar with Ohio, you should get a copy. It's definitely a chick book, but very good, nonetheless.

But back to my aches and pains.

This morning my pain and stiffness reminded me of a morning some 40 years ago, when I was only 21 living in a third floor apartment with no elevator. The night before that I had gone bowling, something I'd done fairly often as a child but seldom since junior high.

And in Massachusetts when we talk about bowling, we don't use those big balls with finger holes in them. No, we use small balls about the size of a very large grapefruit that weigh just two pounds or so.
It's called Candlepin Bowling where I come from and it is as old, if not older, than the Ten Pin Bowling the rest of the country is familiar with. The pins are shaped like, well, Candlepin Bowling pins. They are narrow at the bottom, bowed out slightly in the middle, and narrow again on the top.  Strikes and spares are much harder to get than with the big balls, the size of the ball makes it harder to make those spreads, but we don't clear the deadwood away, making it possible to hit the pins on the ground into the standing ones. It's kind of fun, if I remember.

Back then, I was a rather small little thing, believe it or not. I weighed less than 100 pounds and was no more than 5' 1/2" tall. (I am still the same height but certainly not the same weight. In fact the only thing that still fits me from back then are earrings.) So, my physical state and youth should have made bowling a few strings  a snap.

However, that next morning when I was heading off to work, I took the first step of the 3 flights down and I thought I would have to call in sick. I had to literally hang on to the railing in order to remain upright. The front of my thighs were so sore that when I stepped down onto each step I whimpered a little. I really thought I would not make it down to ground level without assistance. Evidently, although I was an active 21 year old with lots of energy and everything else that goes along with being a mere child, there were no day to day activities in my life back then that involved those same muscles in my upper legs. I felt like I was the age of my grandmother. I remember that incident like it was yesterday. If my life was a novel, it would serve as foreshadowing for today's dilemma.

I thought of that youthful 21 year old struggling down the stairs this morning when I made my way from the bedroom to the kitchen. Would I ever be able to walk normally again? My fingers recovered pretty quickly with one little Aleve, hence my typing this blog. And I was able to move around enough to boil an egg and make a cup of coffee.
As my muscles and joints became a little more flexible with every dissolving particle of that Aleve, I tackled the making of the king sized bed wedged between two walls in our trailer. It was not a pretty sight. Laying flat on my stomach in the middle of the mattress, feeling like a beached whale and sort of pushing the sheets and blankets up toward the pillows as far as I could reach, I thought this might be amusing if I wasn't crying.

In spite of running around with the grandbabies here and there I guess I have been a lot less active,  than I thought  for this past few weeks.

All this just proves that at my age if we don't keep moving we are doomed.

Ed likes to call the state of stiffness and/or pain after exercise being "all stoved up". His 30 years in Chattanooga was what I blamed that expression on. But when I looked it up in order to learn its origin I found it was a term that most likely originated  along the east coast of New England, where people spoke the language of fishermen and old salts.

The word "stove" in this instance is the past tense of stave, which is both a verb and a noun. Sources agree that 'stave' is the plural of staff, meaning a stick. Of course we've all heard of to "stave off" and that literally means to hold back something nasty using our staffs.  Most of us are familiar with the staves of a barrel,  the strips of wood that make up the barrel.
And we have all said at one time or other that something is all stoved in, meaning caved in or broken, like the side of a car might be after a collision. But, in nautical terms, a 'stove boat' is one that's  got a hole punched in the hull or damage of some kind elsewhere and rendered out of commission and good for nothing at all. Melville used these words in Moby Dick:

"Me thinks we have hugely mistaken this matter of Life and Death. Me thinks that what they call my shadow here on earth is my true substance. Me thinks that in looking at things spiritual, we are too much like oysters observing the sun through the water, and thinking that thick water the thinnest of air. Me thinks my body is but the lees of my better being. In fact take my body who will, take it I say, it is not me. 

And therefore three cheers for Nantucket; and come a stove boat and a stove body when they will, for stave my soul, Jove himself cannot."

Originally I wanted to use this quote just to illustrate stove body and stove boat, but as I read it digested it I am really quite taken by it's masterful construction, but more so by it's meaning. I understand him to be saying that while we accept that our bodies may be stoved as part of life, a vessel, as it were, nothing can take our souls. Melville speaks to the fact that we are so much more than just our bodies and this morning I say THANK GOD for that!

Also from Moby Dick the expression "A dead whale or a stove boat" described  the tune the crew "pulled to" when they rowed out to get the whales.

Not far from Cape Cod where I am right now, in the town of New Bedford, that phrase is carved into the wall of the New Bedford Whaling Museum behind a statue of a 19th century whaling man. It was 'either the whale or the whaler' back in those days. They were committed to the fight to the end and if they didn't succeed, they'd be dead in the water.

How fitting that today I should find these quotes, on a day when I feel both like the dead whale and the stove boat. 

Have a great day and keep moving!

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Never Save the Sandwich

I suppose if you believe in Serendipity, like I must admit I do, the universe was probably sending me a message yesterday when I opened up my "A Writer's Book of Days" to the suggestion of the day: "Write about an injury."  My friend Sandy had been encouraging me to write about it and a few others had been asking where my blog was lately. So, here we are on a Rabbit Rabbit Rabbit day and I thought it would be fitting to post something.

It was a morning like so many others here in paradise. The sky was a perfect blue with thread-like wisps of white clouds that looked like they'd been placed there just to contrast the blue. It was early enough in the day that the heat hadn't set in yet, but dry enough that the dew on the fairways wasn't slowing down the roll we women count on to get us to the green. The front nine holes was a course called Pine, and our foursome had just finished number 9 before heading on to Cypress for the back nine. I had a really good round and had great expectations for the second half of the game.

Sandy and Peg were in the other cart, but Peg decided she'd only play the front nine. While Sandy drove off to deliver Peg back to the clubhouse, Connie and I were going to meet her over at the next tee. But, it was nearing noon and the snack cart pulled up. We decided to get a sandwich to eat on the fly as we played. "Can you get me a half a tuna sandwich?" Sandy asked. "Sure" I answered, not knowing how that innocent little exchange would effect my life. I always say I'd like there to be a soundtrack in my life, and if there had been, I certainly would have heard those 5 notes of the Dragnet Theme we all know.

Connie and I chatted with the snack girl and the foursome of men who had came around to park near us, now ready to play the green we had just finished. "Did one of you girls just get a birdie on that last hole? We heard your shouts!" We had kind of made a lot of noise when Sandy made her putt. We are apt to do that. We are not the most sophisticated of players. We have way too much fun out there for most serious golfers. The four older men joked and flirted with us a little. They were probably in their late seventies, far older than we were. But some men do welcome women on the golf course, believe it or not. And whenever we find that type of fellow, we try to encourage them.

We make the most of every round out there. We are usually laughing about something. Even when we have a bad shot, we try to make light of it somehow.  We are a very friendly bunch. We have a favorite Starter who we give a hug and a peck on the cheek to every time we see him. We are sometimes known to break out in song or do a soft shoe off the green when we've had a good hole. I remember after seeing Les Mis, I couldn't resist picking up the flag from the hole and waving it like I was standing on the barricade singing  "Do You Hear The People Sing?" My friends joined in on the chorus.

And so this had been a great couple of hours so far. Two of us, Sandy and I, are self proclaimed "fast women of Heritage Bay" because we don't waste any time on the course. You'd think all that fun would slow us down, but I think it makes us move faster. We are supposed to finish nine holes in about 2 hours and 8 minutes, but we are frequently under the 2 hour mark which makes us "fast women". Now that I think of it, maybe that foursome of men behind us knew we were "fast women" and that might be why they were flirting with us. But who knows?

The snack girl told us there was only one tuna left. How disappointing. But, being the magnanimous person that I can sometimes be, I got myself an egg salad and a Diet Coke, saving the last tuna for Sandy. Poor Connie wanted a tuna, too, but she wound up with a Snickers bar instead, which gave her gas, but that is another whole story.

I was driving the cart that day and the small dash area was pretty crowded with all the drinks, little bags of chips and sandwiches we had just picked up. Trying to keep our "fast women" reputation in tact, I took off at full speed, feeling somewhat euphoric after shooting a 51, and having just impressed a group of lovely older men, who were still behind us on the cart path. As I accelerated to maximum speed, Sandy's tuna sandwich started to slide off dash to the left, threatening to fall out the driver's side. I was not going to let that last tuna sandwich get away, nor would it slow us from getting to the next tee.

In one expertly executed motion, I leaned out around the left of the steering wheel placing my hand where I thought the sandwich would land, poised to catch it mid-air as we flew down the path at 5 to 10 miles per hour.

Unfortunately, just as the sandwich landed in my hand, I instinctively hit the brake. However, I didn't just hit the brake, I hit the parking brake, causing the cart to screech to a halt. The cart stopped short but I didn't. I tumbled out of that cart, head first, ass over tea kettle as it were.

It was like they always describe things like this, as if in slow motion, I felt myself falling, falling, falling, all of the 12-14 inches to the ground, landing soundly on my outstretched left arm, tuna sandwich in hand, in a pile of large craggy lava rock, lining the cart path. I don't know how I got myself up, since at my age and shape, getting up off the ground can be a challenge in itself. And, of course, my first reaction was embarrassment. The 4 men we had just flirted with shouted "Are you okay?" to which I shouted back "I'm fine, thanks." waving with the one arm that was working. Connie, the kind friend that she is, was laughing quite hysterically. I suppose I would have laughed, too. In fact if you look back in the archives of this blog, just a few months ago I wrote about how I tend to laugh when people fall, but I mean really, Connie! At least find out if my arm is broken first!

Anyway, I got back in the cart and pulled up out of sight from the snack girl and the 4 old men before stopping again and brushing myself off, inspecting my wounds. It was really quite miraculous. I had a few scraped areas on my forearm, but nothing was even bleeding. However, a large lump was forming right below my elbow. As it grew almost before my eyes I started to wonder if I should quit and go to the ER, but I had such a good game going I decided to continue on.

Sandy came back after dropping Peg off , oblivious to the drama that had just unfolded in her absence. As I handed her the last tuna sandwich on the planet, I showed her my arm, which by now looked as if there was a golf ball growing out of it. She was grateful I had saved her sandwich, and far more sympathetic than Connie who had stopped laughing and was now having quite a bit of gas from her Snickers Bar and Diet Coke lunch. Karma can be a bitch.

I finished the round as my arm grew. I shot a 53 on the back nine. My concentration was off a bit as I was a little flustered. Connie did get a bag of ice for me from another snack girl when we spotted her. Of course we had to tell the whole story to everyone we met. At one point the club pro was driving around the course just checking things out and he offered to get a seat belt installed for me after hearing the story. I am thinking that might be a good idea. I suggested they ask the snack girl to put more tuna sandwiches on the cart.

Day 1 after the fall

By the time we had finished our round and got back to the bag drop area, we had told the story a dozen times. Sandy, one of my biggest blog fans, of course wanted me to write about it in a blog. I wasn't so sure it would make good copy. And I was feeling a little sore at that point.

At the urging of many friends and Facebook Friends (I did post a photo of my arm on FB) the next day I went to the ER and thankfully, nothing was broken.  Today, a week later, the bruising is starting to subside, but it really did get quite colorful. The lump is still there, but only a fraction of the size it had been.

It has given all of my friends a lot of entertainment over the past week. At dinner Tuesday night, one of the couples who joined us wanted to see it. They'd heard about it on Facebook. Then as we were leaving the restaurant, we ran into Joan and her husband. Joan lives in the community near ours and is my friend Sue's sister. Sue is one of the other "Fast Women of Heritage Bay" and of course I had to text her all about. She's back up in PA for the summer and wasn't there for the actual event.  Evidently, Sue had told Joan about it and it was the first thing she asked about when we saw her! It has become a very famous injury here in Paradise. I feel like a celebrity. Funny, if I were going to choose why I became a household name, it wouldn't be because of this particular story.
A couple of days later. Such a lovely color.

But I have learned my lesson: Never Save the Sandwich!

Have a Great Day Everyone! 


My friend Connie being nice to her grandson. Wonder if he knows how she laughed at me?

My friend Sandy, who's sandwich I saved and who will forever be indebted to me for having done so. She is also one of the Fast Women of Heritage Bay

Saturday, March 15, 2014

What the Heck is an Ide?

"Beware, the Ides of March are upon us" was a quote a favorite teacher was fond of when I was in high school. I knew it was a reference to Shakespeare's Julius Caesar and the date on which he was assassinated in the year 44 BC. But I really never knew why they called March 15 the "Ides" of March. And what the heck is an Ide?

I went all through elementary and high school with a girl named Patty Ide, who sadly passed away a few years ago. When Patty and I were just preschoolers her family moved to my home town of Sudbury from West Virginia and she always said they were hillbillies. Back then anyone from neighboring Framingham seemed pretty exotic, let alone West Virginia. But that was the only other time I'd ever heard the word Ide.

So, of course today being the Ides of March I felt compelled to Google it this morning.

Aside from the Ides of March reference, Ides is  the acronym for Internet Demonstration and Evaluation System or Intrusion Detection Expert System and short for an Integrated Drive Electronics cable. Huh?

Ide is also a nymph who educated Zeus at Rhea's request. Zeus' father, Cronus was warned he'd be overcome by one of his own children. Apparently Cronus had done the same thing to his father, so he knew enough to heed the warning.

Cronus and Rhea had six kids and each time one was born, Cronus swallowed it so as to prevent it from overtaking him. Eeeeeeyooooooo!

Zeus was the baby of the family and when he was born, mama Rhea wrapped up a rock and gave it to Cronus tricking him.

 He swallowed the rock and she hid Zeus from him, having others "foster" him. Zeus was raised by others on Mount Ida, including the Nymph Ide and a goat nurse named Amaltheas.

 Eventually Zeus forced his father to regurgitate his siblings. I really don't remember that myth at all. I may have been absent when they covered that one in school.

Then there was Saint Ide who was an Irish nun  from the 5th century whose name is pronounced Ee-da. The name means thirst, as in thirst for goodness and knowledge and Irish parents still name their daughters Ide. Pabst makes a malt liquor named Saint Ide's  and probably had another kind of thirst in mind when they named it. Ide is an important Saint to the Irish, associated with education and foster parenting. She is  known as the patron saint of foster mothers because her convent became a place where very young children were left in her charge to be educated and many would later become important church men, including a saint or two. Probably no coincidence that Nymph Ide fostered Zeus and Saint Ide fostered young future Bishops and saints. Saint Ide is thought to have died from cancer as it is written "her side was consumed by a beetle that eventually grew to the size of a pig." No particular species of beetle was identified. That has nothing to do with the Ides of March, but I thought it was a kind of funny way to describe what was most likely a tumor. Oh my.

But as for the Ides of March and Julius Caesar in the Roman Calendar the Ides means roughly the middle of the month. Every month in the Roman calendar has an Ides that is acknowledged in some way. It's supposed to align with the full moon and can be the 13th or the 15th depending on the number of days in the particular month.

Tomorrow there will be a full moon on the 16th of March. My neighbor Vern likes to go out on his lanai and howl at the full moon. I think he does it for my benefit. That's neither here nor there, I just thought I'd mention it because I will be listening for him tonight.

In the Roman Calendar March was the first month of the year. The Ides of March marked the end of the "new year" period and the first full moon of the year. This had always been a time for celebration and public and private sacrifices and feasting and getting drunk. It was a carnival and Rome was whooping it up in 44 BC as it always had.

Ironically, 2 years prior Caesar decreed that the calendar would have to change. The Roman calendar feast days were no longer lining up properly with the seasons and when the autumn harvest was taking place in the summer Julius decided to make some changes. The Julian Calendar began in 46 BC and Caesar decreed that year would have 446 days in it. It would later be called the year of "confusion". After that on year, in 45 BC, everything started lining up better. However, March was no longer the first month of the year.

Hey did you hear we can celebrate the Ides of January and the Ides of March this year? Whoopeee!
Rome, however, was not ready to embrace the new calendar quite yet and it hadn't given up the Ides of March holiday right away. And so, in 44 BC the celebration was as it always had been, a wild and crazy day of partying. But, Caesar went to the Senate to conduct business as usual, despite his wife's warning him about a dream she had and various other warnings that he chose to ignore. Shortly after the proceedings had begun, Julius Caesar was held down and the plotting conspirators of the senate pulled their daggers from under their togas and stabbed him forever linking Caesar's death with the Ides of March.

"Et tu Brute, Then fall Caesar" were words in Shakespeare's play that had become popular in the retelling of the story long before Shakespeare put it on paper but they were never spoken by Caesar.

Most accounts say that he said nothing at all.

His body was left for 3 hours on the floor of the senate and he bled to death. Caesar's was the first recorded autopsy ever:  23 stab wounds were reported, the second of which was in his chest, the only one that would have caused his death.

So there you have it. The Ides of March are upon us. If you want an excuse to celebrate you could commemorate Caesar's death or the first full moon of the Roman year by howling at the moon like my friend Vern.
Howling Vern

Or you could follow the suggestion by somebody on Twitter who tweeted:  

"Note to self: On Saturday March 15th, order a Caesar salad, lure it into a false sense of security, then stab it 23 times #IdesofMarch"

 Have a great day! 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Am I Too Brown?

My husband almost always looks nice. The clothes he chooses usually go well together and it's only occasionally that I send him back to the closet for a do-over.  But there are times when I realize it's sometimes a challenge for him. Ed said to me yesterday before leaving for the golf course, "Am I too brown?" I had no idea what he meant exactly, so I said in an incredulous  slightly befuddled tone "What are you talking about?!" He pointed to his hat, then his shirt and then his shorts and  said "Brown, brown, Brown." Nothing he had on was brown. He had on a beige hat, a grey shirt and khaki pants. Ed's just a little color blind when it comes to certain subtle shades. Not bad, really, just enough so that there are times when his clothing choices can be a little strange. Although, I am not totally convinced that's because he is color blind or just because he hasn't any real color sense.

Then there was the time when some of us gals were out shopping and my friend Karen was trying on a sweater. It was bright red, like really, really red! She said to me "I love this coral color, don't you?"

Of course I had to argue with her and run around the store to find all the things  that were really coral and show her that the sweater was really red!. When I think of coral, I think of a pinkish orange kind of color, sort of between peach and orange, but never would I confuse it with red. Of course when our other friend Sandy came on the scene, we grilled her to see what she thought coral was and she sided with me, which didn't surprise me. I mean it was very clearly a red sweater!

Then there are my favorite Pinnacle golf balls which I use because they are easier to see in the brightest of morning light when the fairway (or the rough, which is usually where I am) is covered with dew and the sun is low and bright.
I call these balls yellow but my friend Sue calls them green. I have heard others call them green, too, but to me they are clearly yellow and not one bit of green in them at all! Not only do I think they are yellow, it says so on the box!

The question here is something I have actually thought about quite often: Is color a subjective thing? Are we just using words to describe a color based on other things we know of that share the same perceived color? Do some people use the word red to describe something I see as green? As long as we are consistent and describe the tomato as "red" we wouldn't know if we were actually "seeing" the same color, would we?  Little did I know there are groups of scientists who have for centuries been studying the same question. Color realism is being studied in places like MIT and the University of Illinois today trying to answer the same question.

The most popular theory among color scientists currently (did you even know there were such people?):
"nothing is colored–at least not physical objects in the perceiver's environment, like tomatoes. For example
  [W]e know from psychophysical and neurophysiological investigations that color is created somewhere in the brain, although the exact location of this process is still unknown, and we even have no idea what entities the sensations called color are . . . In short, colors appear only at a first na├»ve glance to be located in objects." (Backhaus & Menzel 1992, p. 28)

And Galileo wrote the following:
"I think that tastes, odors, colors, and so on are no more than mere names so far as the object in which we place them is concerned, and that they reside only in the consciousness. Hence, if the living creatures were removed, all these qualities would be wiped away and annihilated. (Drake 1957, p. 274

As we know, in our eyes there are rods and cones. The rods are sensitive to light but not  so much to color. The cones are all about color. We have between 6 and 7 million of them and they are categorized as blue, green and red. I grew up with a brother who was very color blind. His "cones" were somehow genetically not up to par. It was just another thing that made me feel like men were indeed from Mars.

Although, from what I know about most color blindness, it is passed down by the mother, who is a carrier, to the male child. The cones that perceived red and green are usually most effected in color blindness and that was certainly what my brother had difficulty with. I would say Ed's color blindness is to a much lesser degree than my brother's is. For the most part, Ed is pretty good about knowing red from green, unless the shades are really dark.

So, it's all very interesting, these theories about color and whether we "see" the same thing when we look at a tomato. Or a particular golf outfit.

But solving this problem won't solve how our husbands pick out their clothes. I'm not totally convinced their choices have anything to do with color blindness so much as taste, but that doesn't sound very nice, really.

When I was telling my gal pals about Ed's question before golf yesterday, we all decided our hubbies could use some help in choosing their outfits. We decided we needed some sort of Garanimals for our menfolk.

But the suggestion was we'd call them Grampanimals or Manimals instead. And instead of matching giraffes with giraffes and hippos with hippos, we could use burgers and pizza. Maybe Sports team logos would work, too. Or brunettes and blondes. Or cars...The possibilities are endless! I think we might have to put a call into "Shark Tank".
Click Here for a link to Shark Tank

Of course we'd end up sewing in all those tags ourselves, so, maybe not. Maybe we will just keep letting our men, with their faulty cones, continue to come up with new and fascinating combinations. After all, we gals have to have something to talk about!

Have a great day!

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