Retirement is a week filled with Saturdays and Sundays interrupted only occasionally by a holiday.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Whole Lotta Shakin'

I knew it had been too quiet lately...quiet on the earthquake front. When you live in Southern California, you come to expect a little temblor once in a while. And today was that "while."

Mom and I were sitting in my car at a red light this morning when suddenly the car began to rock and roll. At first, I thought maybe my engine had decided to sputter badly but then I looked at the car in front of us (which was doing the same "dance") and realized we were having an earthquake.

I immediately turned on the radio to a local news station and, sure enough, they reported that we indeed had just had a 5.4 quake centered nearly 70 miles from where we were. I was pretty amazed at the intensity of the rolling considering the distance from the epicenter but I guess I shouldn't be surprised. We've had other quakes some distance away and have felt them too.

I don't think you ever become totally blaise about earthquakes but I think I've learned to take them in stride. The first earthquake I ever experience was the 1971 Sylmar quake (2 years after arriving in L.A.) which was pretty intense (particularly since we were living on the 3rd floor of an apartment building only 10-15 miles from the epicenter). I still, to this day, remember the rattling sound of the bathroom door which was right next to my bed.

Then there was the 1994 Northridge quake which was "just around the corner" from my house. Although our house itself was not damaged, many of our possessions (including Rick's running trophies) were smashed on the floor and our exterior block walls came a 'tumbling down.

Thankfully, today's quake caused very little damage (even near the epicenter) and that's a good thing. I think all the shaking did was rattle a few nerves and remind us, once again, how important it is to be prepared for when the "Big One" comes.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Mamma Movie

Rick and I went to the movies yesterday on another one of our weekly dates. This time I got to choose and so I decided on Mamma Mia. I know it's been described as a "chick flick" so I gave him every opportunity to pick something else...he declined so off we went.

We usually go to a movie which has been in release for several weeks so there are very few in the audience. Although we were the first into the theater, the place began to fill and, by the time the movie started, there were actually 40 people in the audience. And, "yes" it's definitely a "chick" flick. How do I know this? Because, of the 40 movie-goers, exactly 4 were men. That's right...10%...which means that 90% were women (see, I can do math).

I know the film hasn't gotten the best of reviews but, from the reaction of the audience, it was a winner to them. Women were simultaneously singing on screen and in the audience and I think everyone would have gotten up out of their seats to dance if given the included.

Was it a great movie? No. Was it a fun summertime bet!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Damn...It's Only July!

So I'm sure you're wondering why I have a jack-o'-lantern graphic in today's post. After all, Halloween is still three months away.

Well, yesterday I was in a local store when I turned the corner only to find myself facing shelves and shelves of Halloween decorations. That's right...Halloween "stuff." I'm sorry but did the store manager rip too many months off the calendar that must be hanging on her office wall??? Did she forget to look at the date on the front page of her morning newspaper?

I can understand all the back-to-school supplies and clothing which are now displayed in every store. School here begins in late August-early September and moms need that much time to get everything their kids will need. But honestly...Halloween in July?

Then, to add insult to injury, I had the television on this morning and found myself watching a Monk re-run with a Halloween theme.'s still only July for goodness sakes!!!

Yes, I understand businesses are now run by youngsters pretending to be adults. And I understand my middle-aged self no longer fits into the demographic they're trying to attract. But still...someday they will be my age and realize that time is already moving far too fast. The one thing they won't need is corporate America helping to rush them (and us) along.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

A Most Perfect Weekend

Rick and I are home now after enjoying a wonderful weekend in Laguna Beach. Our friends Joe and Sue were kind enough to ask us to accompany them to the Pageant of the Masters which is an incredible 90 minute art experience which is held in conjunction with the summer-long Festival of Arts. We've always wanted to go and so we were thrilled when Sue invited us, not only to the Festival and Pageant, but also to stay at her brother's incredible hillside home.

We arrived early Saturday morning and marveled at the wonderful home and its views of the Pacific Ocean. We stayed in the home's "mother-in-law" suite which consisted of a living room, dining area, kitchen, bedroom and bathroom all beautifully furnished. We even had our own little balcony with a wonderful view of the ocean.

The four of us went out for breakfast and then took a backstage tour of the Pageant. From there, we walked a few blocks to the Sawdust Festival. This arts and crafts fair is also held in Laguna Beach during the summer and provides booths for less "formal" artists and crafts people to sell their creations. We wandered around looking at all the beautiful things and Rick was sweet enough to buy me a pair of beautiful silver earrings. Although I'm still in my black walking boot, there was no way I was going to miss any of it and so I trudged along, stopping to sit when I needed a break. Thankfully, the weather was overcast so it was much cooler than in previous years (at least that's what Sue told us) and it made my life a heck of a lot easier.

After our shopping extravaganza, we headed back to the house for a little R&R. Then it was off to a local beachfront restaurant for dinner where we ate out on the patio watching the waves.

After dinner, we walked over to the Festival of Arts where artists display and sell their work. We wandered around and did find an oil painting we liked but not at the $6500 purchase price.

Then it was time for the Pageant to start so we entered the outdoor theater and took our seats to watch the show.

It's really hard to describe exactly what the Pageant is all about. It's basically 90 minutes of "living pictures" which are exact art re-creations of classical and contemporary works (paintings and sculpture) with real people posing to look exactly like their counterparts in the original pieces. It is truly amazing to watch these performers hold difficult poses for 90 seconds to 2 minutes in intricate costumes and makeup.

This morning the four of us went out for breakfast and then Rick and I bid "adieu" to our friends and got on the road and headed home. This was definitely a memory-making weekend and we're already talking about ordering tickets when they become available for next year's Pageant.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Back In My Own Bed

I've been away from BlogLand for the past few days thanks to my house-sitting, Mom-sitting, dog-sitting, kitties-sitting, foreign exchange students-sitting time at my sister's home while they were off camping this weekend.

I've done this every July now for a few years but this time they added my niece's two new kitties plus the two foreign exchange students they have been hosting for a few weeks. Actually, Yulia (from Russia) and Surya (from Indonesia) spent most of the weekend in San Francisco but I picked them up at the meeting point Sunday evening and then got them ready on Monday to be picked up for their morning English class/afternoon Santa Barbara excursion. Surya left for home Monday evening and Yulia will be here for another few days and then leave for home late Sunday. I know it's been a great experience not only for these two fine young people but also for my niece and nephew who have had an opportunity to learn something about life in other countries.

On another note...I've been trudging along with my black walking boot counting the weeks until I can get rid of it. Besides being difficult to find a shoe for my left foot that is the same height as the boot on my right, it's been really hot and humid here in Southern California and my leg feels like it's in an oven. The good news is that I tested the injured area this morning and the pain seems to have disappeared. Yeah!!! So now I'm thinking maybe I won't need to wear the boot for the entire four weeks. I think I'll give it another week and then call the podiatrist and plead my case. I can be pretty convincing when I need to be.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Blame It On Mom (and Dad Too)

It's never a good thing when your doctor's nurse leaves a voice mail message on your cell phone less than 24 hours after you've done your lab me. Rick and I were playing golf with friends yesterday morning (OK...I spent most of the holes sitting in the golf cart nursing my still-hurting foot) and, when we were done, I checked my phone and retrieved the message which basically said "call me back ASAP." So I did and that's when I got hit with the bad news. My LDL (the "bad" cholesterol) number was way off the charts! Yikes! So now my doctor has switched me to a more effective cholesterol-lowering medication and, of course, I have to watch my diet and do that evil thing called "exercise." Then I have to re-test in three months. Can you hear me sighing...?

So now I'm even more depressed than I was on Monday when I was told my blood pressure numbers were too high. You have to understand...yes, I haven't been exercising like I should...I admit it. But except for a sudden yen for salty crunchy snacks (which probably explains the rise in blood pressure), my diet has always been a low fat, low cholesterol one. When I look at the list of foods to avoid, I'm already avoiding most, if not all, of them. All some people need to do is cut out all the bad food and their cholesterol numbers come down dramatically. Not mine! Geez, I lost 40 pounds nine years ago after my original high cholesterol, high blood pressure diagnosis and my bad lab numbers did not budge...not one point! The doctor's reasoning was simple...blame Mom and Dad for my lousy genetic makeup.

So I guess that means I need to do it with a combination of my more potent drugs AND exercise. Oh wait! My foot problem is causing excrutiating pain when I simply walk. How am I going to add cardio exercises to my life when I can't put even the slightest pressure on my foot without pain? I guess that's a question the podiatrist is going to have to answer when I see him this morning. Lucky man.

Update: Well I'm back from the podiatrist appointment and the good news is that the Xrays indicate no stress fracture. The bad news is that the diagnosis remains undefined. He and I both assume it's some kind of soft tissue injury so he gave me a cortisone shot to reduce the inflammation and then put me in one of those heavy black orthopedic boots which I need to wear for 4 weeks (count 'em...4) until I have my next appointment with him. This will not be a fun month and it means golf and all the cardio exercises I was planning to start need to be put on hold. Damn!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

I Wanna Cup of Coffee

It's morning and normally I would be seated at our kitchen table with Hubby; we'd be reading the newspaper; and both of us would be sipping our deliciously smooth cups of coffee. Instead, I'm sitting in the den, writing this post and trying desperately to avoid the wonderful aroma of just-brewed java coming from our kitchen. Why am I depriving myself of my favorite morning drink? I'm fasting.

My doctor appointment yesterday went pretty much as expected particularly since I hadn't done any lab tests yet so she couldn't scold me too much. She did the normal physical exam and we discussed the questions on my list. My foot problem remains unresolved so she's referring me to Podiatry where hopefully I will get some answers and relief. My blood pressure numbers were depressingly high so she's increased one of my medications...damn. And she scheduled me for a battery of lab surprise there.

So now I've been fasting for nearly 14 hours. When I'm done posting this, I'll throw on some clothes and drive to the lab to have vials and vials of blood drawn. Then I'll race on over to the closest St*rb*cks where I will order my usual vente latte and savor each and every drop. Then maybe this headache I have will finally go away.

Monday, July 7, 2008

What's Up Doc?

I've been dreading today for three weeks now. Why? Today I have a doctor's appointment and, since it's been 3 years since I last saw her, I'm guessing she's going to read me the riot act about ignoring my health. And I have no excuse...I have been ignoring things. I guess I've been subscribing to that very wrong philosophy that "ignorance is bliss."

So today is the day I will face the truth. I've been sitting at the kitchen table this morning making a long list of the various questions I have for the doctor. I'm sure she will discuss in great detail my hypertension, high cholesterol, weight issues and a variety of other conditions that come with middle-age so those aren't even on my list. My questions are more individualized and specific to my quirky body.

It doesn't help that I'm going to be walking into the exam room limping dramatically. I've had a terrible pain in my right foot now for a few months and it only seems to have gotten worse. Had I not had this appointment scheduled, I might have asked Hubby to take me to Urgent Care this weekend which tells you the amount of pain I'm now having. Yes, I've been playing golf. Yes, I've been out shopping. Yes, I've been trying to ignore it but that time has long passed.

My appointment today is a "physical" which means that my time with the doctor will be longer than usual and, considering my already known conditions, the length of my questions list and my very sore foot, it's a good thing. I have a feeling I'm going to need every minute I'm entitled to.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Independence Day

Happy 4th of July! I hope everyone enjoys the usual festivities of the day...parades, BBQs, picnics, beach parties, fireworks. We're going to our friends' annual BBQ this evening. Their home is on a hill and each year their backyard gives us a view of not one but three (yes, 3) fireworks displays put on by their city, the nearby community and the big amusement park in the area. So have a wonderful time today and remember to stay safe.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Balance Anyone?

Today I took my mom to her first "Balance and Gait" class presented by our HMO's Physical Therapy department. The purpose of the class is to help seniors prevent falls by developing better balance and it is held once a week for 8 one-hour sessions. The class has 8 students all of whom qualify for Medicare and I'm guessing my mom is close to the oldest (if not the oldest) member.

Anyway, today's session consisted of an introduction to the class, a demonstration of the 3 exercises each student is expected to do on a daily basis as homework, and then a series of timed tests which are used to evaluate each student's starting physical capabilities. These tests included:
  • Standing up from a seated position, then sitting down and then repeating the action as many times as possible in a 30 second period
  • Standing up from a seated position, walking as fast as possible for 8 feet and then turning around and sitting back down as fast as possible
  • Marching for a 2 minute time period and counting the number of steps taken
  • Standing still with arms crossed against the chest, feet together and eyes closed for 30 seconds without losing balance
Well, let me tell mom's performance was surprisingly good considering her age. Yes...she does have balance problems when she walks yet she was able to complete most of these tests well within the expected results for someone her age. The only one she had any real problems with was the "standing still with eyes closed" test. She did lose her balance on that one and had to grab on to the rail next to her. Still...I tried that one myself and I can tell you that it's not as easy as it sounds. Hmmm...maybe it's a good thing I'm going to take her to each session and sit in with her.