Weighing In

blue tape measuring on clear glass square weighing scale

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I’m on a diet. Well, no, let’s say I’ve changed my way of eating. Doesn’t matter what I’m doing differently (it’s the keto diet) or why (I’m diabetic and fat). It just matters that I try to avoid that scale in the bathroom as much as possible (it hates me).

For years, we had an old mechanical scale in there. Oh sure, it worked just fine, but I wanted to get rid of it because it was ugly and, well, it worked just fine.

So I bought a fancy digital scale, even though I try to avoid unnecessary battery usage because, at some point, you have to change the battery. And whatever type of battery it needs, that’s the one I just ran out of.

But I digress. I thought the digital scale would be fun … and would be easier than trying to read the old-fashioned scale’s wavering needle without my glasses every morning (or every other morning, or every other other other morning—it all depended on how much conflict avoidance I was mastering that week).

What I quickly discovered was that this thing shows weight changes to a tenth of a pound.

Wait … what?

If you’re doing great on your diet, this is an awesome thing. But if you’re like me, you’re constantly looking for ways to fool it into thinking you’ve lost weight overnight. At least a little

For those of you who silently curse your maddeningly precise digital scale, as I now do, here are some tips for pulling the wool over its proverbial eyes. I bet it gets you at least a tenth of a pound lower:

  1. Stand on it with one foot in the air. Okay, no, this doesn’t work.
  2. Stand on it with one foot on the floor. Okay, this works but it’s cheating.
  3. Stand on it while leaning up against the wall. Okay, this also works but is also cheating.
  4. Stand on it first thing in the morning, before you eat breakfast. This should work, unless you woke up in the middle of the night and grabbed a snack.
  5. Stand on it naked, avoiding any glances in that full-length mirror on the back of the bathroom door. Some things you just can’t unsee. Your spouse may be required by law to see you naked, but nobody said you have to.
  6. Stand on it after you’ve gone to the bathroom. I won’t elaborate on this.

If all else fails, then try this:

7. Stand on it after you’ve trimmed your nails, cut your hair, coughed up all the overnight phlegm, Q-tipped your earwax, and blown your nose.

You’re welcome.

Getting Our Picture Taken

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So, it was time for the yearly mammogram. Oh, joy. One of the few times someone squeezes my breasts and I don’t enjoy it. It’s like getting groped by Optimus Prime.

But, as we women all know, it’s a necessary task as we age, especially if we have a family history of breast cancer, which I do. So, I go. And I’m grateful for the kind, gentle technicians who work with me. (The technicians are gentle. That machine, though, is another story.)

They’ve updated the tech since last year and now it takes 3-D images, meaning they lock one of your girls into place, squoosh it almost flat, and the camera machine thingy circles around the smooshed breast to get images from all around it.

Yeah, it’s about as much fun as it sounds. Especially when the technician has to remind you to hold your head back so the camera doesn’t swing around and whack you in the face. It’d be just my luck I’d get bonked with the machinery and end up unconscious but still trapped, smooshed up against the plate, waking up later with a monstrous headache and a big square bruise on my boob. Try explaining that to my insurance company…

Beyond all that, let’s review what we need to do, friends, to keep ourselves healthy:

  1. Do a self-exam at least once a month in the shower. Or have your partner do it for you for extra fun. Think of it as an Easter egg hunt for very, very, very tiny Easter eggs… that you don’t really want to find.
  2. If you’re over 40, schedule a mammogram once a year. This is especially important if you have a family member who’s had breast cancer. Or if you’re a masochist.
  3. Remember not to put on deodorant or powder or perfume the day of your mammogram. These will interfere with the results. Besides, you’re not there to entice the technician, right? Save that smelly crap for your spouse.
  4. Try not to flinch when that technician comes at you with her blue latex gloves and helps you place your girls on that cold, clear plastic squishing plate. And don’t blink when she tries to engage you in normal conversation while manipulating your armpits so the camera gets the image right the first time. (“How about those Steelers?” is a good conversation starter almost everywhere. Almost.)
  5. Getting pictures taken of your girls is a vital health screening for us middle-aged women. But, before you leave, remember to ask the technician for a few wallet-size pics for your husband. He’ll thank you. Well, mine would, but then again, he’s an engineer, so the rules of normalcy don’t always apply to him.

I made it through another mammogram last week, and I get to breathe easy till next summer. (Literally. You can hardly breathe when that machine clamps down. Yikes.)

I hope all you womenfolk out there suck it up and get your mammos! They could save your life. Just try not to take them too seriously while you’re in the middle of them.

“2018”: How are we saying this?

It’s been more than eighteen years since the year 2000 hit and we all started writing really wrong dates on our checks. I think I’ve waited long enough to ask the question we’ve been anxiously asking ourselves for nearly two decades. (And, by the way, how has it been nearly two decades since Y2K? That seems to be the really frightening question.)

So, tell me, do you call this year “two thousand eighteen” or do you say “twenty eighteen”? Or are you drunk or high and don’t know what year it is? (Okay, that last question is really off the subject. Let’s act like I didn’t ask that one.)

I find that I’ve been using the “two thousand” version of the year when I speak. In fact, most people I’ve heard say the year out loud have been saying it that way. A few folks say “twenty eighteen,” and frankly, they still throw me off when they do it. For a nanosecond I have to see the “2018” in my mind and realize they’re talking about the year we’re in. It happens seldom enough to feel jarring, even now.

Strangely enough, most of the times I hear “twenty eighteen” are on car commercials. So, someone’s selling a “twenty eighteen Kia Soul” or is begging me to come on in to get a trade-in for a “twenty eighteen Ford F-150 pickup truck.” (For what it’s worth, I’m not interested in a pickup truck, but thanks for asking.)

Now that this new millennium is old enough to vote, let’s ask the question we’re all dying to ask: do you prefer “twenty eighteen” or “two thousand eighteen” when you speak?

Also, was it a conscious decision or did it just happen organically?

Also also, do you think you’re going to change your mind?

Also also also, this is about as controversial as I get. Try to rein in your excitement.

All hail, King Arthur!

Okay, so, right up front, I have to repent of my “Granny to a Weasel” bit in the previous post. Turns out that, a week ago, I became granny to a li’l string bean, NOT a weasel.

And he’s perfection in the flesh. He’s the most awesome human being in the entire history of human beings. This isn’t bias or opinion. It’s scientific fact.

Yes, watch out, world. I’m now a grandmother. Let the ridiculously obnoxious string of photos commence (and continue for the next several decades).

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Meet Arthur. Or, as I will henceforth be calling him, King Arthur. (He’s already ruling over the entire extended family on all sides. Might as well claim the title, too.)

I’m supposed to be writing right now. I’m also supposed to be proofreading. And let’s not forget that I’m behind on laundry and housework and there’s not enough food in the house. Forgive me. I keep scrolling through photos and sighing like a fool in love.

Because, well, I am.

I’m going to have to keep this post short. I gotta go grab a hanky and cry some more. Because apparently that’s part of my job description now, too.

And I’m okay with that.

Granny to a Weasel

If you’ve endured any amount of time around me, you know I’ve whined about wanting grandchildren for the past few years. Between us, Wayne and I have six grown kids. Three of them are married. You do the math. (It involves multiplying, of course.)

I was starting to wonder how many more of our kids we’d have to marry off before we started to see grandchildren. I mean, honestly, kids, what’s your rush? You’re only in your thirties! By the time I was your age, I was wrapping up the whole childbearing-years thing … and I had four of you by then! FOUR.

Not that I’m bitter or anything.

Who does a gal have to sleep with around here to get herself some grandchildren? (That was rhetorical. I know exactly who I had to sleep with to get myself some grandchildren.)

Okay, for now I’ll stop whining. Because this is all going in the book and I don’t want to spoil it too much. I’ll save the spoiling for the grandchild.

Yes, in a few weeks, dear reader, I’m going to be a grandma! My son and his wife are expecting, and she’s positively glowing. (And we’re the ones who live near the nuclear power plant, go figure.) I haven’t noticed if my son’s glowing or not. He’s a bit of an introvert and sometimes I’ve gone years without noticing him. Just ask him.

I think about my impending grandmahood all the time now. As for my beautiful grandchild’s parents, I’m trying to stay out of their way and not hover (and it helps that they live about fifty miles away), but boy, do I want to hover. I’m coining the phrase “helicopter grandma” now, before the baby’s even here. Because clearly it’s all about me.

My son sends me a text every week: a picture from some app that tells them what size their little offspring is this week, compared to some other animal. This week Li’l B’s the size of a Pomeranian. (Probably without the fur.) Last week I got a comparison picture of a skunk.

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Before that, a chihuahua. Before that, a ferret.

Most of these were cute and funny. Around the middle of the pregnancy, though, they were just weird. The naked-tailed armadillo was a particularly troubling choice at the end of April.

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Not to mention the slow loris in mid-March or the least weasel. (What the heck is a “least weasel”? I suppose it’s a compliment to say, “You’re the least weasel you can be.”)

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Naturally, I found guinea pig week (in mid-February) kinda cute. Of all the animal pictures, this was the only animal that was eating something. Clearly the artist has owned guinea pigs.

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There were never any squirrels, though, which was a little disappointing.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, the book.

It didn’t take long after hearing about the pregnancy last November for me to develop the urge to push. No, I don’t mean THAT. I mean, to push my opinions and wisdom on this poor kid. So, I started taking notes. Keeping a journal. Stuff like that. And what do writers do with a whole bunch of words when they think they’ve got ’em in the right order? They publish ’em.

So, sometime toward the end of this year, be on the lookout for my book of grandmotherly wisdom for this first grandchild (and any subsequent grandchildren we have … I HOPE YOU OTHER KIDS ARE LISTENING! Tick-tock, tick-tock). I’m fiddling with titles, and I already have my cartoonist, Mike Ferrin, on board for the cover art. The tentative working title right now is something like: Dress in Layers at the Casino … and Other Wisdom for My Grandchildren.

Because I’m nothing but classy all the time.

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(photo: Slot Machine Queen, from Photobucket [@SatuS_albumi]

Eclectic (read: weird) Reading Tastes

Whenever I publish a new blog post, I spend inordinate amounts of time clicking back on the post, just to make sure nothing exploded, or to make sure I didn’t misspell the word “public” without the “l.” (Note to everyone: Never misspell “public.” Your spell-checker won’t catch it, and you will never live it down.)

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So naturally, this morning I clicked onto my own site yet again and glanced at it yet again. Then I saw it: my “Currently Reading” section on the right-hand side of the screen. What kind of freak reads Lake of Destiny, The Last Word, Not That I Could Tell, and Haunted at the same time? (Oh, and toss in Daily Rituals since I just started that one too.)

That’s largely a rhetorical question. Obviously I am that kind of freak.

Then I felt defensive that I had just called myself a freak, and my first thought was that I really oughtta cuff myself upside the head for calling myself a name. (Clearly people who work alone from home for too long must miss workplace bullying and start making up their own versions to compensate.)

But I got over the urge to beat myself up for calling myself names, and instead I made a trip to Home Depot to buy lumber and a nail gun to build myself a cry closet. Wayne won’t notice if I put it in the middle of his home office since nobody can see half the room anymore due to the boxes of ancient tech gadgets he never unpacked when we moved in … in 2012.

Anyway, one or two back-and-forth motions with a handsaw and I gave up on the cry closet (because the project itself was making me cry and because I already cry every time I go in that office) and sat down to take a coffee break. While I was sitting in the middle of the stuff I’d just bought, wondering how long it would take Wayne to notice large pieces of wood behind his desk chair, it dawned on me that I wasn’t really a freak after all.

No! In fact, I was a genius! I never read those sorts of books literally at the same time. I read them concurrently but not simultaneously. Well, okay, I just checked in the dictionary and it uses each of these terms to define the other, so maybe I’m not the wordsmith I thought I was. Anyway, my point is that I never quite know what mood I’ll be in when I read each day. Sometimes a fun Spellman novel is the right choice. Other days I want the creepy Palahniuk story. Still other nights, a love story set in the Scottish Highlands is the way to go. Or, that Strawser story that’s firing on all cylinders for me.

So, really, instead of being freaky for reading such disparate stories simulcurrently (ha ha, dictionary! I win!)… I’m brilliant for always having the right story to match my mood.

Do you do this? Do you juggle a Currently Reading pile of different genres? Are we all freaks, or are we all brilliant? Feel free to confess here. Besides, I really need the personal validation.

Unpacking and Repacking

legs-window-car-dirt-road-51397.jpegIn late March, I stayed overnight in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, so I could meet-and-greet “Weird Al” Yankovic at his concert appearance there. I packed a quick overnight bag, and off I went.

A week and a half later, I packed a larger suitcase to attend the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop in Dayton, Ohio. That trip included a cooler full of snacks and a messenger bag full of tech gadgets, cords, cables, books, medications, toiletries, and supplements—everything I’d need for four nights away from home.

A week after getting home from that trip, I’m now repacking that suitcase and messenger bag for yet another jaunt, this time to Grand Rapids, Michigan, for two days of publication board meetings. Tomorrow I’ll replenish the meds and the shampoos, put the newly washed clothes back into the suitcase, and download all the new maps to my phone.

After this trip, I get to stay home for about two months, till late June, when I’ll head off to Grove City, Pennsylvania, for the St. Davids Christian Writers’ Conference.

Frankly, I don’t know how some people travel for a living. Sure, I love each little jaunt for its own sake, but I really don’t like when they start ganging up on me like this. I prefer long stretches of time at home (and long walks on the beach… no, wait, that’s from somebody’s Tinder profile)… so I can concentrate on a book project or consider long-term goals like mopping the kitchen floor. (That sort of goal requires too much brain space to be accomplished in the short time in between road trips. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)

In the two-month gap between Michigan and Grove City, I hope to birth two novels that have been teetering on the edge of publication for far too long. Let’s just hope no more urgent trips spring up in that gap… because I’m liable to curl up in a fetal position and weep uncontrollably. And I really hate when I do that. It’s awkward.

Although every road trip has its marvelous moments, I’ll be glad when they’re over for a while. I’ll leave the globetrotting and the gallivanting and the meandering to those of you who enjoy it a lot more than I do. Or who get paid to do it. I’d totally enjoy lots of road trips if I got paid to take them.

As I pack yet again and decide which color Converse All-Stars are going with me on this trip, my inner homebody sighs and anticipates pulling back into the driveway for the last time this year. Till then: Have GPS, will travel. Won’t always like it, but will travel.