No Shave November

I briefly toyed with the notion of giving Nanowrimo a try, but decided that I have a better chance at No Shave November.

Novembeard.

Why did I think that only women with swarthy complexions suffered with facial hair when they got old?  Probably because I thought there should be some justice in the world, and they got the facial hair so the wrinkly old pale women would have less to envy.

Once again, I have learned there is no fairness when it comes to the female body.

I also learned that “old” is actually “not young,” meaning that at age 45, I am fighting off a beard one whisker at a time.  To add insult to injury, they are red, like my hair used to be.

As you might have noticed in the portrait above, my eyebrows are slightly less bushy, which is good because they can no longer hide behind the big glasses that were in fashion for the last couple decades of the 20th century.  (I never did learn to/bother to tweeze them into shape.)  I did not draw the crazy old man eyebrow hairs (again – why did I think only men got those crazy eyebrow hairs?) because I only have two of them, both in the same brow.

I have downy blonde hairs which, were I of olive skin and glossy dark hair, would probably already be a mustache, but here my lack of pigmentation is, for a change, working for me not against me.  I’m choosing to ignore them because they are only noticeable if you are inches from my face.  Unless my husband is lying.  I drew them on anyway.

The chin whiskers, I cannot ignore them.  They drive me crazy whenever I touch them.  (Yes, I can feel them before I see them.  I’m weirdly tactile and have bad eyesight.)  Usually, I notice them when I’m in the car, the only time my hands are not typing, knitting, holding a book, or otherwise occupied.  Once I notice one, I have to pull it out immediately, attempting to grip them with my bare hands.

This drives my husband a bit crazy…I think it is because I look like a loon, obsessively plucking at my chin trying to create a vise with my fingernails to pluck that one invisible whisker.  I’m sure it is not at all attractive, but once I feel a prickly little stub, I cannot stop until it is out.  I have considered keeping tweezers in the glove compartment, and if more than three of you tell me that is a brilliant idea, I’m going to view that as a voter mandate and buy a pair for each vehicle.  Or not, as I’m not sure I could visually locate anything without a magnifying mirror, and that seems too crazy, even for me.

To participate in Novembeard, I’d have to stay out of the car for the entire month.  So I’m out.

For men,  No Shave November, it is a great reason to forgo shaving to raise money for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospitals.  It sounds rather fun, and takes a $30 donation to enter.  They shave tomorrow, the 1st of November, then no shaving until Dec. 1.  If your husband or son or brother or friend or co-worker is participating, you can also make them shave for a donation of $30, if you don’t like bearded men.  Or bid against others to prevent the shaving they desire.  Before and after photos are posted online.

Do you know anyone who is participating?  If your husband did, would you bid to have him shave, or to prevent him from shaving?

(I am not affiliated in any way with St. Jude’s.  I just like people who help sick children get better.)

Being a stand up kind of girl

Do you spend most of your day sitting down?  I do.

I don’t even have the excuse of working an office job.  I just spend a lot of time lounging around my house.  I read, I knit, I blog, I sit, sit, sit.  So when I read an article last week about the health risks of sitting more often than not, I took notice.

I couldn’t find the exact article, but this one is good.

The gist of it is that even if you exercise an hour a day, which I don’t, your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and, well, death, is significantly higher if you are sitting four hours a day or more.

Four hours of sitting each day is considered risky.

Four hours?  That sounds like someone who has been on their feet all day, doesn’t get to sit down until dinner time, then falls asleep in a chair while watching tv with their kids.

If four hours is risky, is there any hope for a couch potato like me?

Even my bicycle riding is a seated activity.

Momentarily alarmed, I have spent the last three days trying to stand up more often.  I ate standing up, even though this would make me a social pariah in France. (I’ve never been to France, but this is the sort of thing I think about while standing in my kitchen eating a bowl of cereal.)

I paced the kitchen waiting for the dogs to eat or come back inside.
I attended a child’s party and stood the entire time.
I read standing up, for a few minutes anyway.
I did not sit down during an hour long phone conversation with my mom.
I even remained fully upright while brushing my teeth, no leaning.

I made a concerted effort to stand up.  I still spent the vast majority of my waking hours seated.

If you don’t hear from me next week it is because I sat myself to death.

My only consolation is that I would be just as dead if I had been going to the gym for an hour each day.

Sunday Funnies, vol. 6

Why were the images removed?

I feel this way all the time.

Yep.

I know so many people who want the Sexy Halloween Costume trend to end.
Now. Especially before their daughters grow out of toddler sizes.

If your neighborhood has trick-or-treating on Halloween, please read this,
and consider how you could make the evening less frightening for elderly neighbors.

Baggy khakis at The Sartorialist.
If you wore them the last time they were popular, would you wear them now?

Is your child too old to trick-or-treat?

I read this article yesterday, about some communities setting a maximum age for Trick-or-Treating.  This is the sentence that caught me:

Mayor Mark Eckert led the push for a high school trick-or-treating ban in 2008 because constituents — primarily single mothers and senior citizens — were frightened by larger teens showing up at their homes on Halloween.

This is my mom.  It might be someone you know, too, but who has not spoken up about how intimidating it is to be elderly, living alone, with teenagers knocking well after dark, being incredibly aware of how vulnerable you are.

In my mom’s neighborhood, it is not unusual for teenaged “Trick-or-Treaters” to ring her bell after 9:00pm, cigarettes in hand, not a costume in sight.  No matter how appropriate you think it is for teens to participate in an childhood tradition, that’s not.  If you are old enough to smoke, you are too old for free candy.

None of your teens would do that; nor would mine.  They are decent non-smoking kids who would wear a costume and remember to say thank you.  Yet they are still bigger than my mom, and look scarier traveling in a rowdy pack, even if the rowdiness is just happiness spilling over.

I am not telling you to keep your big kids home. (Although, I’m not opposed to that, either.)

I am asking you, if you have elderly relatives or neighbors, to stop by after the little children are done for the night.  Maybe invite them over, or just ask, “Are you okay tonight?”  Obviously, don’t incite fear if it’s not there, but don’t ignore it if it is.

If you are not near enough to be there physically, call them on the phone.  Ask if they’ve had many visitors.  Ask what they thought of the costumes.  Let them know they are not alone.

I’m also asking that you remind your older children that being extra-polite makes a big difference.  Walking on the sidewalk rather than trampling through a garden says, “I respect you and your property.  I’m not a hooligan.”  Letting smaller children have the right of way says, “A piece of candy is not worth trampling a toddler.  I’m a nice, goofy kid.”

Mostly, remind them that this is a holiday for children.  Children go to bed early.  Trick-or-treating should not last all night; when the families are done for the night, then it is over.  Invite them back to your house for pizza and a scary movie (or a not-scary movie) if they (and you) want the fun to continue.

On behalf of my mom, and others like her, thank you, and enjoy the candy!

I would not usually ask this, but please share or tweet this or even just mention to your friends that this would be a good time to reach out to your elderly (or single lady) neighbors, who may not enjoy this night as much as your children do.  Thank you!

Why is the pantyliner talking about a bra?

I bought some feminine hygiene products yesterday.  Putting them away at home, I saw the back of one box and experienced several moments of utter confusion.  What had I bought?

They make bra liners?  For athletes?  Oh, I got the ones for sports bras.  I don’t …. would they work in a regular bra?  No, they are different for different bras.  I never knew people needed bra liners.  I guess they’re like the armpit liners.  How did I pick these up by mistake?  Is this one of those new Poise products for menopausal women?

Flips box over to check the front.  Wait, these are pantyliners.  Why are they talking about bras?  I don’t get it.

Whose idea was this to have a pantyliner comparing itself to a bra?

I want bras that defy gravity and aging.

I want menstrual pads that absorb quickly and don’t leak.

They are nothing alike.

Culture Clash: Movies and Marriage

My husband and I grew up in the same state, only an hour away from each other.  He lived in the suburbs of one city, I grew up in the suburbs of another.  Yet we were worlds apart.

It was not socioeconomics, or religions, or race, or anything you could see by looking at us.  Our worlds were separated by film.

We both grew up in homes where the television was always on.  Always.

They were rarely tuned to the same channels.

His mom watched soap operas and family dramas.  Mine watched game shows and crime dramas.  Both our fathers watched the news, but mine also watched 60 Minutes, while his family watched the Wonderful World of Disney.

The difference that mattered, though, was what we ourselves watched.  What created the soundtracks of our childhoods didn’t matter.  The most profound impact on our marriage would evolve from the movies we chose.

My husband loved Planet of the Apes, Omega Man, Soylent Green, Logan’s Run, Silent Running, and others whose names I barely ever knew and can no longer recall.

I was watching Yours, Mine, and Ours; Cheaper by the Dozen; The Sound of Music; Meet Me in St. Louis; Seven Brides for Seven Brothers; and Life with Father.

He was internalizing the great fears of the 1970’s about the impending population crisis.

I was dreaming of a large family.

Culture clash.

I lost.  It hurt.

I blame the movies.  (And him for being selfish, and myself for not fighting with every ounce of my being.  But it started with those movies.)

When our sons were young teens, he wanted to share all these “classic” movies with them.  They’d seen most of mine when they were younger, because, obviously, I was watching child-friendly movies.  Since I blame those movies for my lack of progeny, I didn’t want to watch them with the guys.

I did say helpful things to my sons like, “That movie is the reason you don’t have more siblings.  It’s ridiculous!  Big families are wonderful, and the world has plenty of room for everyone if we all share!  Don’t let those movies brainwash you like they did your dad.”

They promised not to go over to the dark side.  They even told me my movies were better.

Athough this is painful for me (yes, present tense), I did learn from it.  Mostly, I learned about forgiveness.  It took a long time to get there, but I did.

I also learned to be very careful about what my own children were reading and watching.  I did not forbid them from things that did not reflect my own values, but we talked about it.  I taught them to look for its underlying message or presumptions.

I wanted them to see there is not a writer/movie-maker out there who does not have their own take on the world, and if you look, you can see it.  Then you decide whether you agree with it or not.  And you can enjoy the movie and still think the philosophy is rubbish.

(I also told them to actually listen to their wives and discuss their differences, and to speak up, and keep speaking if necessary.)

What about you?  Can you see the impact of your childhood viewing habits in yourself today?

Conversations with my daughter, about shoes

At home:

Daughter:  “Would you wear black shoes or red ones with this?”

Me:  “Black.”

“Well, I don’t have black shoes.”  Staring commences.

(Who didn’t want black and picked out the red flats?  Her!)

Another day:

Daughter:  “Do they make boots like Emma Swan wears in my size?”

Me:  “Yes.”

“Do you think I could get some?

“Maybe for Christmas.”


Shortly thereafter, in shoe store, for new sneakers:

Her:  “What should I get?”

Me:  “Pick out whatever sneakers you like.”

“What size do I wear?  Where are the sneakers?  How do I know if they fit? Can I get two pairs?”

“One pair is enough for today. Pick the pair you like the most.”

“Do they sell boots like Emma Swan wears here?”

“Yes, but we’re replacing your sneakers today.  We can do boots for a Christmas gift.”

She chose skate shoes.

Later that week, in the car:

Her:  “Would my shoes look okay with my skirt?”

Me:  “Which skirt?”

“I only have one.”

“You have more than…”

Husband:  “She only has one skirt?  Why does she only have one skirt?”

Me:  “She has several skirts.  Enough for someone who only wears them once a week.  Which skirt?”

“The one I like.”

“Personally, I would not wear those shoes with a skirt, but you certainly can. It’s up to you; it’s what you like.”

“Well, I don’t have any other shoes.”

“It’s a red skirt.  You could wear the red flats.”

“Do you mean the ones you bought in Chinatown? They broke.”

“No, I mean your red ballet flats.”

“I can’t because I don’t have the right kind of socks.”

Husband:  “Why do you need socks with flats?”

“Anyway, I don’t have any boots.”

“I’m not buying boots right now. They can be a Christmas gift.”

“I wasn’t asking for boots.”

The next morning, getting ready for church:

Her:  “Can I wear my shoes with this?”

“You can wear whatever shoes you want.”

“I can’t, because I don’t have boots.”

I’m being worked over by a relentlessly passive aggressive campaigner, but I am not buying those boots as anything but a Christmas gift.  My daughter is a sane person.  A nice person.  Unless it involves footwear.

(She does own boots, btw.  Snow boots and generic Uggs, as well as a few other pairs of shoes which she is also ignoring right now.)

My new favorite season: spring

When I lived Back East, autumn was my favorite season.  Most people seemed to feel the same way.

Crisp, cool days admiring colourful leaves under a clear blue sky seemed like a just reward for having survived another summer.  A summer of mowing lawns in stagnant heat; of humidity that fogged my glasses, momentarily blinding me as I stepped out of my air conditioned car; of being eaten alive by mosquitoes; and of sweat dripping down my neck and legs by the time I went to the mailbox and back.

Autumn really lasts there, too, starting to cool in mid September and stretching all the way past Thanksgiving.  With a myriad of trees, the leaves turn shades from crimson to gold, each at their own speed, an ever changing display, that ends just in time for us to wonder if it is cold enough to snow for Christmas.  It won’t, most likely, but we all wish it would.

As beautiful as fall would be on its own, the long, hot, nasty summer preceding it made it truly spectacular.  That contrast, that is what made autumn my favorite.

Here, in Colorado, summer is not that bad.  It’s mostly nice.

Which is nothing to complain about.  Nice weather is, well, nice.  People move here for the nice weather.  Sunny 300 days a year is nice.  A sunny winter day is much nicer than a grey winter day.

Nice is not fabulous, though.  Nice gets taken for granted.  For fabulous, you need to have some misery first.

The weather is rarely miserable here.  Summer is hot, but not humid, and nights remain cool.  Autumn brings cooler weather, but not different weather.  November is the second snowiest month of the year, which makes it sound like winter is long and hard.  It’s not.  It’s mostly sunny, so the days are pleasant even when the nights are well below freezing.  Spring still brings snow, but it, too, is mostly sunny, slowly warming to summer.

However, Colorado has a different sort of misery:  brown.

This is a semi-arid climate (one step away from desert), and, although, we all dress it up with as much green as we can manufacture with our built in sprinklers, outside the housing developments, it is a world of brown dirt and sparse brown grasses.

Up in the mountains there are trees.  Down here on the plains, there are no swathes of forests along the roadways.  If you want colour, look up.  The sky is almost always blue.  Look down, it is brown.  Not my favorite colour.  I mostly look up.

The only respite is spring, when the snow melts.  Spring’s timing is iffy.  March is our snowiest month, and it almost always snows in April, usually after the daffodils have bloomed.  The experts say to wait until Memorial Day to plant anything.  We can’t.  We’re impatient.  We plant on Mother’s Day, and hope for the best.

Spring is so fleeting.  Going from brown to green, or even from sooty snow to green – I spend months anticipating that change.  From the time the last rose fades, I am living in a pleasantly sunny brown land, waiting for the earth to turn green.

But, green is not enough on its own.

So I find that in October, I am thinking of spring, about red poppies, pink tulips, yellow daffodils, blue hyacinths, and purple irises.  I start thinking that after six months of brown, I will really need more than green.  I will want as many colours as I can fit into my small garden beds.

So on this beautiful, warm autumn weekend, I planted more daffodils and blue grape hyacinths, which have proven to withstand spring snows, and I thought about how lovely my garden will be in spring, my new favorite season.

Unless it snows.  In May.

Sunday Funnies, vol. 5

Images have been removed because….

If you are not sure how happy you are, you can take a short quiz here.

This is one of my pet peeves when I am out riding my bike on a trail:  the custom here is to shout, “Passing on the left,” but the joggers with earbuds in cannot hear, no matter how loud I shout, so I either startle them by passing, or, in some places, have to ride onto the grass.

It also annoys me when my daughter is doing her laundry, and the washing machine is beeping away while she, earbuds in place, is impervious to the sound that is harassing me.

Monkey in the Middle

Last week, when I was at the zoo, I witnessed some family drama among the monkeys.

There was a baby monkey, a juvenile, and an adult, whom I guessed was their mother.  The two youngsters were playing tag and scuffle, on the same branch where their parent was eating a branch.  They bumped into the muncher and received a Look.

Being kids, they ignored it and continued to play.  Again, they jostled their elder…..who then grabbed the baby’s tail and bit it!

The baby started screaming!  Holding its little tail, and wailing!

Rushing from the brush in the back of the enclosure came Mom.  She sees Baby, sees the monkey I now realize was Dad, and stopped about six feet away.

Baby ran to Mom, still screeching, and buried itself in her arms.  She stroked his little head and kept an eye on Dad.

At lunch, I recounted this to my husband.  He said, “Well, their dad warned them.  They shouldn’t have been playing on his branch.  He probably grabbed the nearest tail and didn’t care whose it was.”

That evening, I talked to my baby boy on the phone.  He’s 20.  I told him the story.  He said, “That poor baby!  He was just playing.  What a cranky dad.”

I know just how that momma monkey felt.