Joyce Meyer recently told a story about something that happened with her little dog. In the morning, Joyce’s normal routine was to let her dog out to do its business, rewarding them with a treat afterwards. However, on this particular day, when her doggie came back inside, instead of giving the dog a treat, Joyce popped the tasty morsel into her own mouth. Which, reminds me of something that happened in our household recently. I must preface this with a little background information about my husband, Steve. First of all, I love my husband, warts and all. Goodness knows I’ve got my share of warts. But, some of his habits are, how can I put this, less than “tasteful”. Early in our relationship, I invited my husband to lunch with my parents, whom he’d never met. Already smitten, I was hoping he’d make a good impression. We were having a delightful lunch, and right in the middle, Steve stabbed his fork into my last bite of meatloaf, “You don’t want that, do you?” Stunned, “I guess not” was all the response I could manage. My dad, known more for his quick wit than civility, said, “You picked a good one here”. Even though my husband failed the school of social graces, I married him anyway. Some battles are worth fighting–this wasn’t one of them. Well, one of his habits came back to “bite him”, so to speak.
My son, Zach, a college student, usually feeds Rosy, our dog, her dinner. But, school has been requiring so much of his time, that I decided to give him a break and feed Rosy myself. The problem was that I was also simultaneously fixing our dinner. While preparing dinner, I normally set the spoon that I’m stirring the food with onto a paper plate. Multitasking as always, I set about fixing Rosy’s meal, which consists of dog food crunchies, fish oil, arthritis pill, and no salt French green beans, which I mash up with a fork, and stir into the rest of her concoction in her dog bowl. Without thinking, I set the fork down on the same paper plate that I had set the stirring spoon for our meal. I stepped away to fold a little laundry. As usual, my husband made his way into the kitchen, and lickety split, pun intended, licked the contents off the fork. “What are you cooking? It tastes sort of like fish, but not any fish I’ve ever eaten before.” Right then, I realized what had happened, and died laughing, totally at my husband’s expense. I wanted to tell him what he’d actually eaten was from Rosy’s meal, but couldn’t stop laughing. Finally, composing myself, I revealed the truth about what my husband had unknowingly just ingested. Grunting, “That’s gross”, he made his out of the kitchen. You know what, I think I’ve figured out how to break some of my husband’s bad habits. He hasn’t licked a random fork in a long time.
What a proud moment this was for me. I was attending my first graduation ceremony as a parent. Like any other doting mom, I made sure that I had a good camera so I could take lots of pictures during this momentous occasion. Of course, my graduate had to have clean teeth and brushed hair. She looked absolutely radiant, the blue mortarboard delicately perched on her dark, wavy locks. This was not just my triumphant moment–it was Rosy’s.
I eagerly snapped the proud graduate’s pictures, capturing the brightness and intelligence shining from her eyes. Surprisingly patient through the first couple of pictures, Rosy, the graduate soon grew tired of the headpiece, and shook it off her head, throwing it onto the floor. Most parents would have been mortified by this brattish behavior, but I laughed hysterically, as did the other parents attending the ceremony. Thankfully, this was not the behavior of a defiant teenager. No, this was the response of a confused, middle-aged dog during her graduation ceremony from Beginner Obedience Class.
It all began when my teenage son decided he wanted to get Rosy into Agility, after watching too many dog shows on Animal Planet. After all, most agility champions are border collies, and Rosy was part border collie (we think). She’s a rescue dog, so there’s no way to know for sure. But, she’s got the distinctive black and white markings of a border collie, so, we figure she’s at least got a little bit somewhere. The other part, is up for grabs (based on some of her habits, I’m guessing junkyard dog’s not too far off the mark). Anyway, based on her possible border collie heritage, she had potential in agility. Potential is the key word. So far, her potential had only been explored as to how much food she could consume. She demonstrated great ability in eating anything and everything that didn’t eat her first. This “skill” netted her about ten extra pounds than the charts indicated healthy for her frame.
Despite her weight issues, Rosy did have other qualities that showed promise. She chased squirrels and possums scurrying along our back fence with amazing speed. Plus, in spite of some of her rather disgusting habits(remember the previously mentioned junkyard lineage), Rosy was quite alert and certainly intelligent. Yes, the potential for a great agility dog was there. The problem. Rosy was six years old when my son decided to train her. That’s forty-two years to you and me.
My son was persistent in his pleas, and we located a good school that was close to our home. Proximity was important because Rosy was a very anxious traveler. This was understandable since her only car trips resulted in multiple pricks and prods, humiliating explorations of every conceivable orifice (at the vet’s office) and the drenching, soaking, and clipping noise contraptions blowing hot air (at the pet groomer’s). If those unpleasant events had greeted me after every road trip, I might need heavy sedation during car trips, as well.
We finally got Rosy enrolled in Beginner Obedience Training (the first step in the long journey toward agility). And, we would soon find out if it’s possible to teach an old dog new tricks. Our first class, the teacher recommended a pronged-collar for Rosy, since even my rather large husband could barely control her during walks. We were assured that this collar did not actually hurt Rosy, but rather gets her attention for training purposes. So, Rosy was fitted for a pronged-collar (which did, in fact, get her attention almost immediately). We were also told to bring plenty of treats for her training.
The first class was awful. Since my son was not yet eighteen, I had to stay outside the perimeter of the training ring, for insurance purposes. Rosy and I go way back. My son was only ten years old when we got Rosy, so I was the one who “raised” her. I fed her, potty-trained her, and we ended up being roommates, even sharing a bed. So, our bond goes way back and runs deep. My son’s desire to train Rosy, however sincere, was only recent. Prior to this training experience, Rosy had seen him as more of a playmate. So, the transition from playmates to teacher and student was going to be tough, if not impossible, on everyone.
So, this first class was a bust. Rosy whined and paced the whole class period, and kept looking over to me every five seconds, in hopes of a rescue, that was never coming. And, I must admit, it was hard sitting idly, trying to remain nonchalant while my “baby” was being jerked around and chastised. But, I began to notice something rather remarkable. It was working. Rosy was beginning to respond to my son’s commands. The teacher brought in her dogs, who were extremely impressive and well-trained, of course. Watching her work so well with her dogs, gave us hope and a vision that perhaps with persistence, hard work, and a little luck, our dog, too, could be one of those dogs receiving admiring glances from other envious dog owners.
But first, some of the dynamics in our home involving Rosy’s care would have to change in order for success to be possible. First, my son would have to be Rosy’s primary caregiver. He would need to start feeding Rosy. Wow! This would indeed be a monumental change in our normal routine. I had not only been feeding her, but I even made Rosy homemade food. This would be the second change. My food, along with the indiscriminate tidbits of food which “happened” to drop from my husband’s plate, would, of course, have to stop. The teacher mentioned Rosy’s girth (See my earlier post, Leftovers: Chicken Ala Compost Heap) confirmed by a subsequent vet visit. Rosy was definitely overweight.
So, Rosy and my son began working together almost every day. I’d try peeking out the patio curtain, so as not to distract the “master” at work. I was amazed. My son was giving Rosy commands, and she was following them. It was a beautiful thing to witness their teamwork. Both of them focused on the same goal–working together. Before long, my son would take Rosy for walks around the neighborhood. A truly amazing feat in itself, since prior to obedience training, Rosy was affectionately referred to by some of our neighbors as “Taz”, short for Tasmanian Devil–completely appropriate given her behavior prior to training.
Now, however, my son and Rosy are poetry in motion. Rosy, walking perfectly aligned by my son’s side. Stopping when he stops. Waiting until the moment he admonishes her with a quick “let’s go” and their off again, on their astonishingly peaceful sojourn around the block. What a triumph for both of them. That my son can actually walk Rosy around our neighborhood without fear of Rosy going AWOL or being charged with disturbing the peace.
Yes, this was indeed progress. My son proudly reported that they had strolled calmly past a busy garage sale and an unsuspecting patron had remarked what a lovely dog Rosy was. It made my son proud, and it made me proud when he told me the story. Proud of both of them–my teenage son who had gladly, and somewhat naively, taken on the responsibility of training our middle-aged, heretofore, stubborn female border collie mix dog in hopes of some day competing in agility.
Which brings me back to the graduation ceremony. When my son accepted the Certificate for Beginner Obedience Training, it was a very proud moment for all of us, especially for Rosy. This experience taught my son to be more responsible, our dog more adaptable, and me to believe in miracles. It’s been awhile since Rosy’s training. Since then, my son’s gone on to college, and I tend to be the one caring for “my girl” these days. Because of my son’s hard work during training, though, I’m able to walk Rosy around the neighborhood. Eleven years old, Rosy has yet to appear on Animal Planet, though, we did see a dog show recently, and one of the stars was a twelve year old dog, so, who knows. But, even if she never competes, Rosy and my son are already winners in my book. Apparently and amazingly, you can teach a young man responsibility, and maybe even teach an old dog new tricks.
At 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit, clay turns into fine china, carbon dioxide turns into diamonds, and, give or take a few degrees, middle-aged women, like me, turn into human microwaves, just shy of spontaneous combustion. Welcome to the wonderfully warm world of hot flashes, ladies!
Even before menopause, I was entrenched in an offensive known in our home as the “Great Thermostat Battle”. Always chilly, I would sneak stealthily down the hall and, with a magician’s slight-of-hand, turn the thermostat up to a more balmy level. Meanwhile, my hottie husband, displaying less finesse but more bravado, followed closely behind, turning the dial down, to a temperature only a popsicle could love. Naturally, now that I’m in meltdown mode, my hubby’s cooling off, so, the battle continues. Peace talks are, however, ongoing. You don’t stay married for as long as we have without them.
In order to win this “Cold War”, I’m determined to embrace my hotness, go with the flow, even if it is a lava flow, and, like carbon dioxide, become the precious and sparkling gem God created me to be. Approaching life with grace, humor, and a great air conditioner, I can beat this heat. Besides, there’s nothing hotter than a woman who’s comfortable in her own skin, whatever the temperature. And, that’s pretty cool.
I just polished off a Styrofoam container full of lasagna, fettucini alfredo, and grilled chicken with goat cheese–for breakfast. You see, I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with leftovers. Love the
taste; hate the calories. Some foods, like lasagna, actually taste better the second time around. The problem is, leftovers in the fridge call my name. I don’t know how, but last night’s lasagna was able to communicate with my too-easy-to-entice brain, whispering “Eat me, you know you want to, eat me, already”. Now, there are certain vocalizations I’m completely equipped to ignore, like the vocalization from my conscience, urging me to “exercise”. Against the siren song of leftovers, however, I’m completely defenseless.
For my husband, a charter member of the “Clean Your Plate Club”, throwing out food, even bad food, is a sacrilege . Having leftovers in the fridge seems to give him comfort; as long as we have leftovers, we’ll never go hungry. My son and I agree, more than two meals in a row containing the exact same components is going above and beyond our gastronomic capacity. My preference is to throw out less-than appealing cuisine. Once is enough. Put the food (and us) out of our misery. During my husband’s daily inventory of the contents of the fridge, the question of “What’s happened to the leftovers” inevitably comes up. During these inquisitions, I’m torn. Am I honest with him, and confess to throwing out the undesirable food, resulting in a tirade about wasting food, and threats of cutting the grocery budget to the essentials (cheese and dog food). More often than not, I tell him that we ate the atrocious food for lunch (a little white lie), because, like Jack Nicholson’s character in the movie, “A Few Good Men”, my husband “can’t handle the truth”, and peace in the home is preserved, at least until our next meal.
Some people are able to “morph” their leftovers into a culinary creation virtually unrecognizable from the original dish, like turning roast chicken into chicken “magnifique” (a term rarely used to describe my original culinary creations.) To my credit, I have tried this Power Ranger tactic a couple of times. The results have been less than stellar. The reactions to my latest creations run from “Nice try, Mom”, to “Do we have any fast food coupons?” Let just say, Rachael Ray I’m not.
Unsuccessful at morphing leftovers, I started giving them to our dog. Often, in fact. When my son started looking up stats for the World’s Heaviest Dog in the record books to see how our dog compared, I realized the error of my ways. Fortunately, she wasn’t a record-holder– yet. After a stern talk from the vet at our dog’s annual check-up, and a prescription for doggy diet food, the dog’s no longer an acceptable receptacle for leftover disposal.
So, we’re back to the problem of what to do with all those leftovers. Restaurant portions are large enough to feed a family of four. If you’re able to convince your spouse to share a meal with you, great, problem solved. I’ve not been successful at this request, however. My husband wants an eighteen ounce Porterhouse steak, while I want chicken or fish. Finding ourselves at an edible impasse, there’s always leftovers to wrap-up.
And, speaking of wrapping up, I’ve got to wrap-up my thoughts on leftovers. My husband wants to take me out to eat–so, we can, you guessed it, have some more leftovers. And, so on, and so on…Eat it again, Sam.
Donuts. You know you’re in trouble when that’s the first thought that pops into your head in the morning. Plus, I had already gained a little weight recently. Okay, maybe more than a little. Anyway, there are some foods worth fudging a little bit on our diets for, like, well fudge for one, and donuts, of course, for the other. So, instead of feeling guilty over my bad choice, I decided to let destiny determine my fat. Oops, I mean fate.
I diligently scoured the “coupon drawer” for a coupon for donuts, figuring my financial budget didn’t have to suffer along with my caloric budget. Ah-hah! I found one. And, even better, the coupon was promoting football-shaped donuts. Since two of my favorite teams were playing football that afternoon, what a perfect way to kick off the day. And, with a coupon, I could be both frugal and festive(won’t my husband be proud). Plus, saving money would make me feel a little less guilty about my decadent indulgence. A little. Except for one minor detail–the coupon expired twenty-four days ago. (Sadly, this coupon was one of the more current coupons in the drawer). Organizational skills aside, at least my intentions were good.
Just then, I remembered that I had not looked in yesterday’s paper. Perhaps, there would be a coupon for my precious donut there. By the way, my favorite donut is the chocolate long john. This delicacy defines lusciousness. Puffy fried dough covered in a rich velvety chocolate blanket. What’s not to love. I’m obsessed. I reasoned that if there was such a coupon, then surely I was meant to eat it. Eagerly shaking the paper out of the yellow plastic bag, I unfolded it with great anticipation. It was a miracle. Right there at the top of the front page was a coupon. No kidding. And, not just any coupon, my friend. No, this was the rarest of coupons–a coupon for a free donut. Score! So, I hurriedly got dressed and headed out the door toward my “donut of destiny”. There was still one major hitch, however. Everybody else in town apparently likes these lovelies almost as much as I do. Whenever my eyes wander toward the pastry shelf, those tasty long johns are very often long gone. And, under the circumstances, only my donut of choice would do. If I was going to sacrifice my diet and health, it better be for a very good reason(I absolutely crave these suckers!) So, only the real deal would do. Thankfully, this coupon was for a store located on just about every corner of town. Determined, I would search far and wide, if I had to, for my beloved chocolate long john. (Never mind that gas prices were at an all-time high; I had a free coupon for a donut, remember!)
That was not necessary, however. The very first location I visited was a success–there it was, the love of my life, john, chocolate long john (Sorry hubby, you may have my heart, but my stomach belongs to john). At last, it would be mine. I quickly grabbed a wax paper sheet along with a plastic bag to protect my tasty treasure. Triumphuntly, I strode up to the counter, proudly displaying my conquest, along with the free coupon. What a coupe.
Sure, donuts have about a thousand calories, give or take. None of which benefit me physically, in the least. We all deserve a little indulgence every once in awhile, especially one ordained by a sign from above, like a free coupon. Besides, I watched a nutritionist on TV talk about healthy eating, and drank a glass of skim milk, while eating my donut. That’s got to be worth something, right?!
You know you love ’em, too. So, what’s your favorite donut?
While waiting for a doctor’s appointment, just prior to my fiftieth birthday, I read an article in a health magazine titled, “Over Fifty, Proceed with Caution.” Choosing to ignore the ominous warning on the cover, I dived right into the article, unaware of the “terrors” ahead. One of the first items I read was how women 50+ can expect to gain one inch around their waist every three years, without so much as an extra potato chip in their diet. Oh, say it isn’t so. Already thick-waisted, ( I believe apple-shaped is the correct term), I found this tidbit of information quite alarming. According to the article, I’ll have to call out a search party in order to locate my waist in a couple of years. In fact, that’s something I have in common with Scarlett O’Hara–no, I don’t have a seventeen-inch waist, but I do have a waist that has “Gone With The Wind”. According to the research, and given that my grandmother lived to be almost 102, I can expect my waist to grow to roughly the size of a tire–an airplane tire. Being a wise shopper, I have already begun preparing for the coming girth by stocking up on elastic whenever it’s on sale at the fabric store. Just because I have a big waist, doesn’t mean I have to be wasteful.
In addition to cornering the market on elastic, another delightful effect of turning fifty is the loss of most of my eyelashes. Apparently, we are born with three rows of eyelashes. By the time we’re fifty(that seems to be the magic number) we lose two of those rows. They just fall out. That certainly explains why more mascara ends up on my eyelids than eyelashes these days. To resolve this, I’ve contemplated wearing false eyelashes. With my fifty-year old eyesight, however, the eyelashes would probably end up on my cheeks, instead of my eyelids. Not exactly the effect I’m looking for.
Not only eyelash- deprived, hitting the half-century point often results in a slower metabolism. After fifty, our metabolism hovers somewhere in the neighborhood of your average tree sloth‘s. Basically, the only way that I can maintain my current weight is to cut my caloric intake from 200 to 500 calories per day(I guess that means the leftover Halloween and Christmas candy are out), while simultaneously training for a triathlon. And, speaking of the tree sloth, they have one major advantage over us human sloths. Their elimination schedules are in sync with their slow metabolisms. Meaning, tree sloths climb down trees but once a week to “do their business”. Ironically, we human sloths “go more” the slower we get– and, at the most inopportune times. Nature inevitably calls at 3 A.M.
So, aside from purchasing my underwear from an airplane factory, my eyelashes from a costume shop,( or, in the alternative, settling for scary naked eyes), and being jealous of tree sloths, I am negotiating the aging process as gracefully as possible. Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of becoming a woman of a certain age is the ability to laugh at myself, which is supposedly good for my health. In fact, I’m down right hilarious. Considering the amount of laughing I’m sure to do at my own expense in the coming years, I should be very healthy, indeed. Besides, it could be worse. If I were a dog, I’d be over three hundred and fifty years old in human years. On the other hand, in doggy years, I’m a young pup!
Are you aging gracefully? If so, how? Let me know…I need all the help I can get!