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Posts tagged ‘humor’

Pedaling My Tush Off

/bobbe white/5.22.18/

 

 

sport bike bicycle cyclist

Photo by Tookapic on Pexels.com

While in St. Louis, my daughter-in-law, Jenna, treated me to Cycle Bar for spin class. I spin occasionally and do other cardio workouts, so I was certain I could hold up for 45 minutes. Walking Lily used to be cardio, but, seriously, how many 77 year olds do you know who can clip off a four-minute mile? But, I digress.

 

We received emails and texts, welcoming and preparing us for class. I was fitted with shoes and given a welcome water bottle. It was even personalized. I loved this place!

 

Our bikes #25-26, were located on the second tier. It felt like we were sitting in the piccolo section of an orchestra room. Our instructor, Michelle, adjusted my bike. I think LeBron James had ridden this bike in the previous class. The seat reached my armpits. Michelle lowered the seat and locked my shoes into the pedals. However would I escape in the event of fire? I’d be the last man out dragging the damn bike with me, because I wouldn’t be able to unhook my shoes. In previous classes, I’d worn my own shoes. I must admit, I felt smugly professional in the clamp-ons.

 

Two towels hung on each bike. One was for sweat; the other to cover the dashboard. Michelle explained that in classic spin classes, the dashboard was utilized to motivate us to reach “push” levels. The stats revealed velocity, degree of difficulty, caloric burn and minutes remaining until my legs might fall off. Or my tush, whichever came first. I’d forgotten how unforgiving the hard saddle was. Fortunately, the class was taught mostly from a standing stride.

 

Rather than being dashboard directed, Michelle helped us attain limits from desire and inspirational encouragement. She motivated us by getting into our heads. I do adore psychobabble! Did I mention I loved this place? Michelle’s mantra unfurled in a smooth, but convincing voice, fit for a DJ. Her monologue was punctuated by dancing lights and playlist that could rev up Rumpelstiltskin. It went like this. (My internal reply is in parentheses.)

 

“What do you want for yourself today?” (“I don’t know, but let’s get it, Gurl!”)

 

“Come to the edge, farther than before!” (YES! Show me the razor’s edge!”)

 

“Leave behind all that which does not enhance your existence.” (Bobs is leavin’ it in the smoke, Baby. Raaahhrrrrr!)

 

It occurred to me that pacing myself, regardless of my stoked inner power, might be wise. I backed off a teensy bit. Jenna dialed up her resistance and velocity. She meant business. I merely hoped to leave Cycle Bar on something besides a gurney and oxygen. Like my legs.

 

At the end, everyone applauded Michelle. She was an amazing instructor. I felt like I’d attended Tony Robbins’ seminar. Shortly, our compiled stats were emailed to us. This was new. I’d no idea I was being assessed. How cool is that? Jenna read hers first. She’d nearly ruled the class, being ranked for effort and workload, ranking her #2 out of 23 participants. Impressive, but not surprising. She is a fitness machine, that one!

 

“Check yours!” Jenna encouraged. “It’s in your email.”

 

“Oh, I hope I didn’t perform really badly…” I envisioned being #10-11…middle of the pack.I was pumped. I’d pedaled hard. I felt gooooooood! I LOVED THIS STUFF!

 

My recap showed that I’d burned 263 calories, my average speeds and workloads. Then in all its glory, we read my ranking…. #23. That’s out of 23.

WHAT? I WAS THE WORST? I HATE THAT PLACE!

 

Devastation flooded my head, for, like, one 23rd of a nanosecond. Then we started laughing. It got funnier. Take two bikes, side by side. Jenna was nearly the best in class; I must’ve had a flat tire.

 

Yet, here was the method in the madness: numbers don’t always justify results. I felt great and had a great experience. Nobody could take that away from me, #23. The laughter was pretty great too. Pedal on, my friends. bw

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“Gotcher raincoat?” my mom

/Bobbe White 4/5/18/

IMG_5289 (1)

Most of my writing referenced Dad, be it customer service, strength or humor. It was safe to say that Mom lived in his shadow, but was no shrinking violet. I looked up shrinking violet: it means shy or timid. This was not my mother. Call her, “Quiet Steel.” Man, she was/is a strong woman! Most acquaintances did not experience this quality about her. Here are examples.

 

CRYING: I’ve seen Mom cry, oh, maybe three times in my life. If she’s 93, this averages once every 31 years. Not often. It doesn’t mean she was unfeeling and certainly, it wasn’t that she didn’t feel sad at times. She just expressed it without tears. She was a soldier when all else crumbled around her.

 

WARM & FUZZY: Not. My sister, Cathy, and I regret we didn’t get many hugs, kisses or “I love yous,” from her. This was just Mom. It is one thing, however, Cathy and I have vowed to do differently with our own children and grands.

 

DRILL SERGEANT: If swim practice was scheduled, my fanny was in the pool, on time, every time. She slid on ice into a ditch once, on the way to practice; we eventually made it. Piano lessons? We were there. Dance class: in our tutus, on time.

 

DISCIPLINARIAN: Whenever we went out to dinner, if we even hinted at misbehaving, Mom pinched my thigh. YOWSER! I’ll be good. I’ll be good. She didn’t tolerate back talk or eye rolling. Cathy tested this more than me; I remained very afraid. At age four, I shoplifted (one and only time) at Illinois School Supply. I was so excited about my colored pencils I showed everyone in the car. She made my sister march me right back in the store and confess. Geez.

 

HEBREW SCHOOL: Every Thursday. Get over it girls and learn something.

 

ORGANIZATION: Mom planned and executed. She made a list for everything. Even into which dish the broccoli should go. We never – I mean NEVER – went anywhere, when she didn’t say, “Do you have your raincoat?” Even during a ten-year drought, we’d have our vinyl raincoats or ponchos rolled up tight and stashed. Just in case. (See photo of Bobbe in her raincoat, age 2. Yes, even then.)

 

THE SOFTER SIDE OF SHIRLEE: In 1970, some unusual events inspired Mom to write the booklet: “Love Is…” It is profound. She never promoted it, obviously, when I unearthed a shoebox full of them in their house. I also found a treasure she wrote and here it is. It’s rather deep and I had no idea Mom’s brain was so prophetic. It almost makes sense it was written in the 70’s, except I know mom didn’t smoke pot! (I’m sorry, Mom, I realize I could get my thigh pinched for that one!) Interpret it to your own needs…

 

WALK WITH ME

Shirlee Schecter

April 4, 1971

 

Walk with me in the sun or in the dark – the sun melts your tension and the dark holds you close to let you think. To walk alone is to free yourself from the bite and snap of the scene about you- to feel the wind, whether it’s warm or cold, is like a shower in the morning that wakes you and makes you tingle and get alive again to face what will still be there or what is yet to come-

 

The walk alone is needed; but to walk with another is better. To talk is to walk with the mind as well as the body. It can be brisk and pointed, sharp and stimulating; or it can be quiet and meaningful and an easing of doubts and soothing to a tired soul. One can be alone and walk, but then you walk with your God; and in thinking, you talk with your God and you are not alone.

 

To walk with another is to be aware of sharing, but even then, two alone cannot live on an island and survive for long; neither can just two walk together. Each one must reach out to many whose lives touch and whose paths meet, some in love and some not.

 

A family shares and family loves; and where there is strain within that unit, you find an ingredient so vital that it pursues your whole direction. One cannot turn off the emotional self- you are surrounded by it and cannot walk away from it – it can surround you like barbed wire and there is no escape, then you walk in a circle; but in walking, you are doing, and to live and survive you must do something. Then you are making the motions of being alive and find there is always a way out of the circle that seems to close in like a whirlpool in the water, first pulling you down, then releasing you once more to tread the water up and thereby walk again to life –

 

Walk with me and share life with all those who touch my life –together. –Shirlee Schecter, 4/7/71

Leave it to Irvie: Goes Out With a Giggle

irv profileIt’s been quite a week around here, since Dad died February 22nd. In honor of the fact that he died on George Washington’s birthday, a profile picture which I thought looked a bit presidential is  featured. Also, before we go any further, I apologize that this post at least twice as long (or more) than I prefer and probably you prefer. If it’s TLTR (too long to read), just do what you can. No rules here.

Let’s just say, “Alzheimer’s Disease – or any form of dementia- is one ugly beast”. I hate it and what it did to Dad and so many others. I hate that many of you are currently in its grip with your own loved ones. But hate is an ugly word, so let’s focus on some good stuff, shall we?

What I learned: that even in the darkest hours, humor can bubble up through the tears.

And yes, there were some bubbles of humor during his last week. First, Dad’s very mean roommate, bless his gnarly heart, caught me at a bad moment. Really bad:

Him (growling): “Is it time for me to go into dinner yet?”

Me: “I don’t know.” (Queue major snotty attitude, like a bitchy 13-year-old in puberty.)

Him: “Why don’t you know?” (Dripping with sarcasm.)

Me: “BECAUSE I DON’T WORK HERE!!!!!!!” (Note: all bold caps and multiple punctuation marks.)

Him: “That’s the problem. Nobody works around here.”

All staff in earshot: (laughter).

Boy, did that feel good. Don’t cross me, Buddy. I bite back. Hard. Fortunately, there was a private room open and Dad was moved into it for privacy.

Funeral arrangements: I had many questions:

“Do we put britches on him?”

Funeral director: “It’s a good idea, in case the body would have to be exhumed for an investigation, DNA match, and etc. (Uh-oh…they’ve Googled Dad’s cousin, Mickey Cohen!)

“Underpants?”

Funeral director: “Yes.”

“Socks? Shoes?”

Funeral director: “Socks, yes, shoes are optional, usually not.”

“But Dad was a shoe man. He MUST wear shoes.”

Funeral director: “That’s fine.”

We started coordinating the outfit. I’d ordered (Thank goodness for Amazon) an Ohio State golf shirt, representing two of Dad’s favorite things: Buckeyes and golf. Jeff contributed an undershirt (Dad ALWAYS wore one under his golf shirt), slacks, socks, belt and Topsiders.

I delivered the outfit to the funeral home. Then it hit me out loud, “WAIT! How is Jeff’s 10½ shoe going on Dad’s size 12 foot?

Funeral director: “It won’t.”

“Will you just cut out the heel?”

Funeral director: “Probably. “It’ll be like he’s wearing CROCS.”

Me: “I don’t think so. I’ll be back.”

There was one obvious solution and the universe delivered. Dick’s Sporting Goods golf shoes were on clearance: Walter Hagen’s, $29.99. YES! Anybody who knows me knows I love a good theme: golf it was. It was my secret, because few shared my humor, except for Dad. I’d explain at dinner, after the burial. It was out with the Topsiders, in with the cleats.

We held a private graveside service with military rites. Dad probably would’ve wanted a parade and fireworks, but it was going to cause much anguish among some family members and wasn’t worth it. Let me just say, “Every veteran deserves military honors.” The meticulous flag folding, presentation, twenty-one gun salute and Taps were so touching and deserved. (In my opinion, he deserved a 42-gun salute for his P.O.W. deal, but Dad hated rifles anyway, so never mind.)

Traditions: If you’re unfamiliar with Jewish burials, you need to know the casket is lowered during the service. Unlike other religions, the mourners leave and the crew finishes later. After lowering, the funeral director, Jeff, pulled a strap out from one end. A vault company employee, we’ll call, “Harvey,” tugged and tugged, but Harvey couldn’t release his strap. It was stuck under the casket corner. As a last ditch effort, HE JUMPS IN THE HOLE! Yes, he did. I looked at my Jeff wide-eyed, then at our son, Nick. You could hear Harvey’s boots land on top of Dad’s new roof. The grave was deep enough, that Harvey disappeared from sight. He climbed out with the strap, as if from a swim pool. I mean, how else would get out, right? Each corner of the metal frame, which held the casket, had a plastic cap on the four corner domes, to protect from scratching the casket, if contact was made. One of the four caps fell into the hole. We heard Harvey groan, as if to say, “Noooooo, not again!” Yep, HE JUMPS BACK INTO THE HOLE!  I look at Jeff again wide-eyed; this time smiling, then at Nick who is wide-eyed and nearly smiling.  My girls are snickering/crying/stifling soooooo hard, they can’t contain themselves. They were audible. The officiant looked at them, smiling nervously, as if they were out of order, which they both were and weren’t. It WAS comical, you have to admit. I wasn’t much better, holding my program underneath my eyes to cover my full smile. I was crying (not from grief); the substitute rabbi and funeral director wouldn’t know which kind of tears were falling. All I could think about was Dr. Seuss’s “Hop On Pop!”

The bottom line was (sorry, bad pun…) Dad would’ve absolutely LOVED this series of events so very much. He would’ve been crying from laughing (i.e. “Craughing”) if he’d been on the outside looking on. In fact, he’d probably said out loud ,”OH MY GARSH!”

Sidebar: In support of the vault company and the funeral director, Jeff Spear, for whom I cannot say enough good things, they were probably sweating bullets. We decided this might happen a lot more than we know, as most of the time, the mourners are not present. Leave it to the Schecter’s to have Murphy’s Law of Laughter*. It truly was the best and most fitting end to a sad situation.  

A serendipitous moment occurred when I attended POUND class on Monday morning, after the funeral. Two of the songs were: “Raise Your Glass,” by Pink, and “Thanks for the Memories,” by Fallout Boy. Coincidence? I think not. Those two songs are now part of my play list, because we did, (raise our glasses) and we are (thankful for the memories.)

One last thought: I thought for sure I’d be finished with my book on aging parents, before any of our parents died, but whenever we put an assumption out there, the universe proves us wrong, right?  This is such unusual, therapeutic material, for possibly the final chapter, and for which I’m most thankful. I think it was meant to be Dad’s final gift to us: laughter. I’ll take it. RIP Irvie. 1924-2018.

The end. Yes, that it was. Quite the ending.  bw

*Murphy’s Law of Laughter: “At times when you shouldn’t be giggling, the oddest thing will set you off in uncontrollable laughter.

Why I Gave Him the Finger

give the fingerTo those I’ve interrupted, “Guilty as charged”.

 

It’s recommended that we find our “third place” to write, do taxes, work, read, pay bills, think, study, sketch, paint, workout or meditate. I tried a Third Place on Sunday.

 

What and where is your third place?

 

It’s not home, or work.

 

It is a neutral, mostly distraction-free zone. Think: coffee shops, parks, libraries, gyms and beaches.

 

Third place-why? First and second places tempt us with many diversions, such as:

 

-Laundry

An instant burning desire to wash, dry, and fold every last article, which includes ironing Jeff’s Jockey’s or sockies.

 

-People

Without hesitation, you’re outside the house or down the office hall chatting with neighbors and co-workers, whom you’ve ignored for years.

 

-Eating: Before starting, you need a little snack, which turns into a full out pantry and floor sweep for crumbs, expired spices and old food in the fridge. Sure, the kitchen sparkles after this effort, but you haven’t done one intended thing yet.

 

-Revamping space

Home closets, credenza drawers or under your work desk are favorite diversionist destinations. A simple pen search evolves into sorting envelopes, medications and paperclips. There’s something safe about diving deep into closets, drawers and other dark spaces.

 

Why are these activities appealing distractions? Google it. I’ve decided to term it: “Ostriching”.

 

Ostrich defined:

A flightless swift running and the largest living African bird with long neck, long legs and two toes per foot.

 

Myth: ostriches bury their heads in sand to avoid predators.

 

Fact: they would die from asphyxiation.

 

Fact: When nesting, they dig shallow holes to bury their eggs. From afar, ostriches appear to be burying their small heads, when they’re simply tending their eggs.

 

 

Human ostriches (i.e. procrastinators):

People who refuse to face reality or accept facts, such as finite time. While ostriches are actually engaging in functional activity in their nests, humans, on the other hand, creatively try to avoid the intended task by burying their heads into places like closets, washers and refrigerators.

 

Our third place isolates us from distractions and enables us to stay on task.

Starbucks was my third place Sunday morning. I sat in the corner with my ear buds inserted and thought, “I don’t know anyone here!” Which was shocking. Then, a man, whom I scarcely knew, approached me while chatting, but I couldn’t hear him, of course.

 

I decided I had to give him the finger or he’d stay all morning. Mom always gave me the finger too. The “Wait-one-second-I’m-in-the-middle-of-something-on-which-the-survival-of-the-human-species-depends” finger. To further indicate my intention to stay on task, my eyes remained on my paper; ear buds stayed inserted. I felt (a little) bad being rude, but these types of people are easily encouraged and hard to disband.

 

What I learned

  1. If you want your time uninterrupted, you must be willing to protect it.
  2. When I happen upon someone who’s obviously busy, I will resist the urge to engage him or her in mindless chatter. Unless my pants are on fire. bw

Puppygate: gauging aging.

 Bobbe White/1.13.18. 

 

puppygate

 

We have an unconventional method for gauging aging at the White house. It involves baby gates to keep Lily White, the black Lab, from roaming room to room. After reading, you’ll understand how gates experience aging cycles, not unlike humans.

 

For Puppy Lily, we used 24” gates. She never attempted to breach security. As she grew from tip to hip, our hips were growing too. Growing older. I occasionally caught the gate, with either the front or the back foot, causing the whole damn contraption to fall down. I wasn’t alone. Jeff cussed puppygate more than once, too. At this point, we should have tried harder to maintain range of hip motion by bicycling, if only to practice mounting and dismounting. (i.e. swing that lead leg a bit higher.)

 

We downsized to a 17” gate. Thankfully, Teen Lily never attempted to escape. It was a major victory, physically and aesthetically. In time, however, we started tripping over 17”. I purchased replacement gates and pitched the broken ones.

 

Clearly, it was downsizing time again. We now have a 7” gate. It’s a breeze to hop! Old Lady Lily still minds, mostly because her 77 year-old hips couldn’t do it, unless there was a piece of salmon, ham or pumpernickel on the other side. Obviously, we don’t store our food on the floor, so she’s out of luck and leap, as well. Every time I scale that 7” gate, I fist pump the air and yell, “YES!” Sadly, it’s only a matter of time before the 7” gate trips us too.

Aging stinks worse than a dirty dog, but I’ve determined our next four gate levels, in descending order.

  • Level Four (3½”): Playing cards propped vertically across the thresh-holds.
  • Level Three (2¼”): Playing cards will be turned horizontally, end to end. That should be a piece of cake…
  • Level Two (1”): Dominos, and
  • Ground Zero: dental floss. I figure that, by then, we won’t be able to pick up our feet and can just shuffle across the border. Not only that, we probably won’t have any teeth anyway, but we can still floss everyday. It’s just that we’ll be flossing the floor. Sit. Stay. Floss. bw

(Photo guide: Lily White is pictured above. The 7″ and 2 1/4″ gates are featured. If you look very closely, you’ll notice a Royal Flush…)

HaPpY dO yEaR!

Bobbe White

 

My extremely wise friend, Lisa Pemberton, says, “Ask not what are you doing, but ARE you doing?” She knows me well. If anything speaks my truth, this is it.

 

When our son, Nick, was a little pup, he’d ask many times a day, “Doing?” We would tell him, but he never seemed satisfied with our answers for very long. Maybe as a little guy, he was Buzz Lightyears ahead of us and wanted to ask, but lacked the vocabulary:

 

  1. Doing that…why?
  2. Doing something meaningful?
  3. Doing what you need to be doing?

 

Those questions are an obvious segue to my 2018 DO YEAR LIST:

 

  1. Monitor the rabbit holes. Rabbit holes are the social media links which we begin reading for seconds, turning into minutes and sometimes into hours. It means keeping the lure of Amazon, Insta, Facebook and eBay at bay.

 

  1. Fold bed sheets better. Okay, I admit this is random, but the Quincy Wash Tub attendant has offered this tutorial. That gal can fold a wad of cloth into a postage stamp. Not kidding. Our linen closet deserves it.

 

  1. Write fewer words. Say more. I typically write 500 word posts. But nobody really wants lengthy reading. Less is more. Always was/will be.

 

  1. Listen full in. People observe when you aren’t present. Also, my kids will appreciate not having to say, “I already told you that, Mom.”

 

  1. Sit. Stay. Do. P2C is my mantra. (Project to Completion).

 

  1. This last DO is a DOozie of a DO – to return this home to my husband. I have seeped my DO into every room, nook and cranny of this house. It’s time to undo. It’s probably another article as well as to why we do this.

 

Let this year be the year of the doing and when necessary, the un-doing. HaPpY dO yEaR tO yOu! Let’s do the do!

bw (320 words…Woohoo!)

Get It, Girl

wtad.com/white pages/7.19.17

“When you know your why, you can endure anyhow.” John O’Leary

 

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Last Tuesday was a difficult day, one of many, because that’s life.  There was the day we had to take Dad’s keys away. That was a doozy. Or maybe when we moved Dad into the Veterans Home – without Mom. That one was the mother of all tough days.

After enough of these, we begin to understand that no matter how many tough days we have, their purpose is merely preparation for the next tough one. It reminds me of track hurdles. I attempted them once, but was never adept. Leg #1 cleared the hurdle, but then there’s that Leg #2. It’s like an educational program: “No Leg Left Behind.”  But the back leg just won’t rise up enough. I still can’t hurdle, even though the hurdles are now shorter. Pet gates at home are hurdles. They keep Lily White corralled. If I had a nickel for every time Leg #2 leveled the gate, I’d be retired on a beach in Fiji. The lesson: next time lift leg higher. It’s hard -sometimes very – because of  “it”. Yesterday “it” was a tough conversation with Mom. Who knows what it’ll be tomorrow?

What’s that troubling issue in your world? Imagine you’re on a relay. The runner prepares to pass the baton to you. You must grab it and immediately hurdle. Without tripping. Not this time. Tuesday, I told myself, “Just get over it. No moving gates aside, like I can with Lily’s gates. I got over it. It wasn’t easy. Tough’s hard.

There are other ways to help clear the hurdles. It’s whatever works for you. Here’s what I did. Tuesday I dressed for strength. My earrings were from Poland. Korey gave them to me on that trip. We toured Auschwitz I and II,  to understand history and the conditions in which my P.O.W. father was forced to live. And because that girl of mine/ours is one strong gem, conquering hurdle after hurdle. She inspires me. My necklace and ring are from Jeff. If he was a boxer, his robe would read, “THE ROCK”. Sometimes I’d like to throw rocks at him, but he just builds me a path with them. My bracelet is from Nick, given to me on his and Jenna’s wedding day. As a four pound preemie, we prayed he’d have strength to survive. Did he ever. Let’s call him, “ROCK II”. Mr. Strong & Steady, Jr. My skirt is from Jenna, who exhibited unbelievable strength on the premature death of her dad. She’s currently hurdling a new career like an Olympian and also being strong for Nick throughout Grandpa’s death. Love that girl, like our own. My hair is from my mom. Talk about a strength in the face of adversity. Whoa. Now, it’s my turn. Sure hope I got that gene. Finally, my shoes. I recently attended “Let’s Rise!” conference. Jeff Googled it and thought I’d find inspiration and rejuvenation. He was correct. I’d forgotten my shoes, so had to buy some. Wearing them reminds me of what I learned at “Rise”: with thought and preparation, we can do more than we thought.

It’s been tough before.  It’s tough today. It’ll get tough tomorrow. I need to get it done and behind me. After Tuesday, I’m not jubilant, but relieved and a bit stronger. I’m doing the right thing. I know that feeling.

No resting on laurels, Girl, get strong for the next tough opportunity.  At Hobby Lobby, I saw “Get it, Girl”, an 8”x 8” light-up, home accent in Barbie colors. I know! I called later. They held it for me.  At 90%, it probably won’t drop further…better grab it for $2.50.

What’s your “Get it, Girl?” What thing gives you strength?

Find it. Own it. Get it.