59 Candles, 59 Things – Part Sixteen

Twenty Fourth thing – Before retiring last year, I worked for a major bank in a small community. I kept noticing the local women had great manicures. Whenever I asked who their nail tech was, the answer was always “Dawn” and I became a client. As an additional benefit, Dawn has become a friend whose company I enjoy. While she pretty-fies (is this a word?) my nails, many laughs are shared and world problems are solved. Here’s just a sample of a few of my favorite manicures:

This is an ongoing series of 59 Things that make me happy to commemorate my 59th birthday and happy life!

My First Award!

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It is with both humility and appreciation that I accept my first award!  One of my most favorite bloggers, Cupid or Cats, just nominated me and it’s pretty exciting stuff let me tell you!

As part of the process I must:

Thank the person who nominated me and include a link to their blog – nominated by one of my personal favorite bloggers, check her out at cupidorcats.wordpress.com Her blog is full of humor and heart, it’s an absolute pleasure to see each new post on her blog. Thank you for your gracious nomination! – check!

Display the award on my blogcheck!

Write seven facts about myself – check!

1. I bruise like an overripe peach. I kid you not. I can focus my eyes on a body part with enough intensity to make a bruise appear. Been doin’ it for years, no idea why – just do. I used to work in an environment where I wore skirts and would wear black tights all the time. I wouldn’t make this up.

Courtesy of an image search for
Courtesy of an image search for “bruised peach”. You’d be surprised what I had to choose from. Trust me.

2. My shoe size is Ladies 11. As a young woman at 6 feet and 1/4 inches tall and size 11 feet, my Mom used to say “a girl as tall as you would fall over with smaller feet”.  Which was comforting except that I was also well-known for falling all the time . So big feet, very tall and a klutz. Attractive – not so much, endearing – perhaps to my friends. When someone of my height falls, it’s like a tree going down and rather spectacular (so I’ve been told).

Back in my 20’s and 30’s, (no internet in those days folks) I would dare you to find a ladies size 11 shoe unless you drove an hour north to a “specialty” store.  As a result, I crammed my feet into size 10’s for years. Then someone alerted me to a size 11 section at a Payless Shoe Store! I drove there immediately in spite of the sketchy neighborhood – next to strip clubs and known for well…..hookers.  Undeterred, I was on a mission, found the 11’s and began trying them on with glee. The lady next to me, sensing my delight asked “isn’t it amazing to find your size?” I looked at her, noticing she was a good 3-4 inches taller than I, was in the size 12 section and sounded like Bea Arthur from Maude. “Yes” I agreed, admiring her flamboyant dress and wig.  And yes, she was a drag queen.

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The problem with blanket statements.
No, tell me, what do they say? Go ahead, take your best shot.
No, tell me, what do they say? Go ahead, take your best shot.

3. I have diverse yet specific tastes. I like my wines dry, my beers dark. I watch Downton Abbey, Walking Dead, Gilmore Girls and Justified with the same unbridled enthusiasm.

I find it impossible not to dance to Love Shack, Uptown Funk, Blurred Lines, I’ve Gotta Feeling and every Fallout Boy song but have nearly broken my wrist turning the channel if a Bruce Springsteen song comes on (sorry, I know he’s The Boss – just not my boss).

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I find the idea of frog legs to be gross (yes, I’ve tried them, they taste like chicken but they’re frogs – green, slimy frogs with legs big enough to eat) yet I thoroughly enjoy escargot, crawfish, octopus, calamari and raw oysters. Go figure.

Disturbing, right?
Disturbing, right?

4. Not a fan of driving over big bridges. Being tall, people assume I don’t have a problem with heights. They’d be wrong. For instance, if I were still single and on the Bachelor, I would leave the show if asked to go in a hot air balloon, repel down the side of a skyscraper or into a cavern, go up in a helicopter or bungee jump.  I’ve tried to live by “never say never” but these are things that would be deal breakers. Lucky for me, I’ve been with Spence for 24+ years and he doesn’t make me do scary stuff to prove my love and devotion. And on road trips – he drives over the big bridges.

I'm right there with you Claudia. Don't look down.
I’m right there with you Claudia. Don’t look down.

5. Golf and me. When I was 12, my Dad took me for a golf lesson. The pro took one look at me, a tall, skinny, long-legged (probably bruised, see #1) girl with glasses who was terrified. The lesson was painful (I’m pretty sure he doesn’t remember me) and at the end, I heard him tell my Dad “save your money man, she’s hopeless – and left-handed“.  Well that was just plain unnecessary.  Dad got in the car, I burst into tears. I think we went for ice cream.

Years later, I love driving golf carts. During my first marriage I did so at an accelerated speed, going airborne as the cart crested a hill. Upon landing, my husband’s golf clubs flew helter-skelter as he screamed obscenities at me. Every time he almost caught up to me, I sped off.  Good times.

I do enjoy watching golf on TV and one of my favorite movies ever is Tin Cup with Kevin Costner.

Excellent movie about golf!
Excellent movie about golf!

Here is the lesson: you can enjoy something that you have no talent for and save yourself years of therapy induced by mean golf pros.

6. Love food – live to eat. Not a surprise to those who know me. I’m always thinking about my next meal with anticipation. My travel journals include vivid descriptions of scrumptious meals I’ve enjoyed and I frequently whip out a camera at restaurants and at home to photograph culinary masterpieces. I subscribe to countless food magazines, watch the Food Network as though I’m being paid and created special built-in shelving for my cookbooks when I re-did my kitchen a few years back. And if you go to @spencesgirlblog on Pinterest, you’ll see my love of food represented in multiple boards.  With the exception of only a few things (frog legs being one, see #3) I enjoy all food. Obsessed? Maybe just a bit.

Bring on the chow!
Bring on the chow!

7. My favorite nickname.  I’ve been given a few nicknames in my life, many by Spence who is known for assigning nicknames to those he loves. My favorite is when he called me “Private Snuffy of the Flying Monkey Brigade”.

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Though lengthy and a bit odd, it has stuck.  After he first said it, I proclaimed “I just want 5 minutes inside your brain to see where you come up with this stuff“!  He cracks me up.

______________________________

Nominate fifteen people for the award – not quite 15 but here are 8 of my favorite blogs, check!

  • creekview carol
  • mangoes to mutts
  • story shucker
  • in cahoots with muddy boots
  • the lodge on Haydon
  • 4wallsnaroof/the view from the porch
  • rachelmankowitz
  • the migrant chef

59 Candles, 59 Things – Part Four

On our wedding day.
On our wedding day.

Seventh thing: As I said when I started this series, my 59 things are in random order.  Just wanted to be clear since the reality is that I put my marriage at the top of the list of things that make me happy.

It took a long time to find the right man and longer still to marry him. I was so afraid that things would change. And guess what – they did.  After eighteen years together, our wedding day created a shift in our world. I felt more nurturing and protective of our relationship and this life we’ve made. I’ve never regretted it for one day.

Marriage is work, love, compromise, passion, more work, silliness, health crisis’, exploration, love, discovery and knowing you belong to someone else.

Simply the best decision of my life.

Just Three Songs?

From our third Writing 101 assignment participants are asked to free write about the three most important songs in our life.

My first thought “ugh”.  Not because I don’t love music but rather because I LOVE MUSIC.  In order to complete the assignment without completely losing my mind I’m going to slightly alter it to choose my three favorite albums.

  • Court and Spark by Joni Mitchell
  • Aqualung by Jethro Tull
  • Live at the Troubadour by Carole King and James Taylor

The first two were easy enough since I owned them on LP, cassette, CD and full downloads to my iPod.  The third I happened upon quite by accident at my neighborhood Blockbuster check-out counter which featured a CD/DVD pack of a live performance by the incomparable Carole King and James Taylor.

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Court and Spark:  The brilliance that is Joni Mitchell is never brighter than on this compilation (in my humble opinion).  I know the words to every song and they still evoke emotions at age 58 though in a different way than they did when I discovered it in high school.  The songs are lyrical, painting musical pictures.  Her voice resonates.  I have listened to this during happy times but also when nursing a broken heart. It is in a word…..divine.

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Aqualung represents the “rock chick” that I was at 16 and still am today.  This album was being released at the same time I went to see Jethro Tull in concert.  Having already discovered an earlier album by them, I was excited about the new release.  I’d never been to a concert but cannot  imagine a better performance than what I experienced that night. Ian Anderson, the lead singer and player of the flute, (that is such a defining instrument in their body of work), was electric.  I was mesmerized, gob-smacked, mind blown.  The songs are stories crafted inside of music that you can’t explain in words.  If you made me choose one song from the album, it would be “Locomotive Breath”.

And lucky me, last fall Spence and I traveled to see Jethro Tull in Buffalo, New York.  (see my earlier blog post “Flash Back – Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, then and now” for more about that experience and some little known trivia…..intrigued? I hope so.)

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Live at the Troubadour is like a gift from the gods.  First of all, the life work of James Taylor and Carole King, two of the most gifted singer/songwriters is without equal (again, I’m blogging so I get to state my opinion but sense I’m not alone). Spence and I have listened to this CD (and watched the DVD) so many times it would be impossible to guess. These are songs that are lovely, evocative and so interwoven into our lives and memories that you couldn’t extricate them if you wanted to – and why would you want to?  Listening to this music brings tears to my eyes, a smile to my face and  an overall sense that everything is right with the world.

So there you have it.  Not so hard an assignment once I tweaked it a bit.

No room for negativity

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In my yoga class yesterday we discussed the importance of asking “will it disturb my peace?”

Whether from situations, people or things, increasingly I find that I ask myself this question. As I have embraced yoga and meditation in the last year, I’ve found more focus and clarity. I’ve also found that I need to “clean house” both literally and metaphorically. It’s meant making changes. As a result, my health is better, I’m happier and I’m accomplishing more. I’ve also learned not everyone you know will understand or support the changes. And that’s okay. It’s just the path I’ve chosen.

Lion or Fox? That is the question…..

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I dedicate this post to Jules who posed the question in the first place and has gotten me to explore my mind, my soul and the universe in which I exist. As a Lion.

Yesterday was my yoga class with Jules from whom I take private instruction every two weeks. She is my teacher, guru and guide, responsible for my increased physical capacity as well as the expansion of my mind.  She is light, love and inspiration, always positive. Besides time on the mat our time encompasses meditation, chanting and discussion of yoga philosophy. This time Jules presented a challenge to me, along with a pen and a legal pad. While she read a brief story, I was asked to consider as I listened, “Am I a Lion or a Fox.” I was then asked to write which I was and why. While it was a spontaneous exercise, it was surprisingly revealing and spot-on.

This is what I wrote in case you’d like to read it.  And hey, ask yourself – which are you?

I am a Lion

Like a Lion, I take charge of things; it is and has been my role to be a leader.

A lion is decisive and watchful, as am I.  

Out of necessity, the lion provides (and in my case) prepares the food for others. 

As a Lion, I’m fiercely protective of my family and friends.  I can roar when provoked but take measures not to show my claws, unless there is good reason to do so.

Like a Lion, I’m wise, sought out for my knowledge and I’m a survivor. 

I’ve created a warm and comfortable “den”and share it with others with whom I feel a kinship.  

I’ve created a safe haven for a colony of feral cats, providing food, water, shelter. While a Fox might threaten them, I ward off threats.  Sometimes with a roar.