Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Everything Old is New Again

Bazooka Bubble Gum, Twizzlers, Dots, Candy Necklaces, Pixie Sticks, Neccos, Bull’s Eyes, Chico Sticks, Candy Buttons, and Rock Candy on a stick. If you are my age, you will recognize these as the piece de resistance from any little league stand throughout the nation. You remember...little league, Saturday afternoons, downtown ball fields? The parents would give us a quarter and we would head to the stand and pick out our favorites. Hours later, the stickiness of left over red licorice shoelaces outlined our lips, we’d head home for dinner and bed, knowing full well that the next week we would do the whole thing over again.

I came from a small town. Every Saturday, the fields behind Jefferson Elementary would be overrun with little leaguers, decked out in their official team colors, running the grounds like ants poked in a nest. Constantly moving, they would warm up in preparation for battle.

The parents and siblings would haul chairs and blankets out from the back of the family station wagon. Coolers with drinks and sandwiches were placed on the corner of the blanket, marking the spot where the family would spend the afternoon. Extended family members would show up as smoke from the hamburgers and hotdogs at the concession stand would waft through the grounds, reminding the kids that it was quarter time.

We would all converge. Even though it was the same candy every week, we would stand there like pirates looking over their bounty. We all tried to ensure that we got as much bang for our bucks as possible. One time, I thought getting ten fireballs for a nickel was a great buy. Then I ate the first one; let’s just say fireball was an appropriate name for the candy. My face turned red and tears ran down my face. Lucky for me I had a Dad who always said, “The hotter the food the better.” He bought the fireballs and I headed to the stand for a Snow cone to tame the heat. I got what we called a "suicide cone," covered in every color and flavor, a perfect cure for the intense heat that was burning my taste buds. To this day if someone is eating a Fireball the smell will cause my eyes and mouth to water.

The ball field was also located right next to Dairy Queen. If you were smart enough or had the ability to hold back a nickel from the concession stand, you could get a junior vanilla, chocolate or swirl cone. Most of my friends went with the swirl, but I have always been a vanilla girl and still am to this day.

With the whole world talking about childhood obesity, I find it interesting that we would scarf down all that candy and ice cream and still stay healthy. Maybe it was because we were allowed to eat the bad things that one day only. Soda was a special treat we got on Friday night when we had pizza. Candy was allowed only on Saturday at the park. We also spent most of our free time riding bikes around town, hanging at the pool in summer, playing tag or hide and seek. We were constantly in motion, not sitting in front of a computer where our only friend is the avatar we have created in our image to fight the battle looming on the set in front of us.

Maybe that’s what made the Saturday concession stand so special. We weren’t permitted candy during the week. It was the one day we were allowed to travel outside the rules and fill up with the abundance of sugary sweets. It made us appreciate the moments even more. As for the mathematical implications...when you’re trying to get as much of the sugary treasure as possible you learn to budget accordingly. It was a lesson learned early in life, and the best tasting lesson ever.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Cats and Kittens

I have come to the conclusion that a major difference between men and women has to do with cats and kittens. Women love babies. They love everything about them...the smell, the soft fatty spots, the tiny fingers and toes. We love to kiss them and snuggle them. Men like looking at babies. They will hold them carefully, do the Daddy thing, (we all have that picture of Daddy sleeping on the couch with the baby on his chest). But they really don’t get the parenting thing until the kid starts toddling and can actually play.

My husband was great with the babies. With the third, I worked nights so he was feeding, bathing and reading the nighttime story. And he was good at it. But he really started to shine as a parent when they could toss balls or run around the yard. The kids' favorite game was pretending to run out of the yard towards the street and Daddy would run after them. We thought this was a great game. We never actually let them run into the street and oncoming traffic. Yes, we were great parents.

I’m not saying that I was better with the babies and that he was better with the older kids. We were a team, each stepping in to take over for the other when needed. But as I’ve grown older I sometimes look at these adult children and I really miss the babies. I miss the kisses beneath the ear, the giggles emitted from deep in the belly. I miss blowing on the belly. I miss holding the baby so close that the baby fine hairs tickle my nose as I take in the scent that if it could be bottled would make someone billions.

Maybe it’s because it was easy. Feed, wash, sleep, and again. No major decisions, no, 'where should I go to college,' 'what should I study,' 'who should I date?' No 'what car should I buy,' 'where should I live,' 'how do you get over a broken heart?'

Maybe it’s the one good thing about getting older. You remember the past with rose colored glasses. The struggles of the kitten years are romanticized, as if glancing at the memories through densely placed clouds.

But men seem to shine in the cat years. Perhaps it’s that logical mind compared to the quixotic point of view. Whatever it is, it works.

And maybe that’s why God gave us grandkids, because as we get older we need that infusion of baby powder and innocence. We get the kitten years, but luckily there are others out there that will deal with the cat years!!!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Half Full

Most of my close friends have come to see me as a glass half full kind of girl. I try to look at things from many sides and usually with a shrug of the shoulder I’ll use the newest adage, “Whatever”. I used to hate it when my kids would say whatever. Maybe it was because when they used it the word was followed by a huge sigh, a shake of the head, and a roll of the eyes. You know, you’ve seen it. But my whatever is more along the lines of, "whatever, it is what it is”. My sister-in-law has even jumped aboard the, “It is what it is,” wagon. There are some things in life you can’t change.

These are the times when no matter what you do the circumstances won’t change so it’s up to you to accept the situation and move on.

· A family member with whom you will never get along.

· A broken relationship with no hope of reconciliation.

· The scratched furniture from the overzealous game of spoons played one rainy afternoon.

· A wrecked car, a broken window, a flat tire.

Some say that this might be a cop out, an easy way to move on and put things behind you. But life is just too damn short to worry and struggle with things you have no control over. “Whatever, it is what it is,” puts everything in perspective and keeps the mid life ulcers at bay. SO I say, “Whatever,” shrug shrug, eye roll eye roll, and a deep, deep sigh.

How’s That Working For You?

I started a new diet today. I broke down and went to a nutritionist. First off because we are, um-hum, over fifty, the body’s I understand the bodies metabolism has completely changed. Our intake is considerably less and the types of food we now require also needs to be somewhat modified. So I sit in the chair across from the five foot two, 102 pound nutritionist who is so emaciated that she may have just returned from a year in a third world country. Imagine my amazement when she told me I don’t eat enough, of the right kind of foods. After years of watching friends and family diet by cutting out food, it is now brought to my attention that I need to add food.

My daily eating schedule is like this.

7:30- 8:00 am - cup of coffee. (Most times I drink the whole cup, but many times one of the other family member’s walks up to me with a half empty mug and asks, “Do you know where I found this? It’s like a game of Where’s Waldo.)

Noon – I fix husband lunch salad (Yeah he’s one of those) and I nibble on a couple slices of deli turkey.

3:00 – grab a cookie or protein bar, sometimes five or six crackers

5:30 – dinner. Consists of meat (beef, chicken or pork) potato, (Or potatoe, you’re my age you know what I’m talking about) rice or couscous and a veggie. Sometimes I have from five to sixteen grain wheat sourdough bread. (The more grains the better, right?)

My husband snacks every night so if I look over and think a bite to eat might be good, I’ll grab a handful of pretzels or nuts.

So by my calculation I should weigh around 50 pounds less than I do. But, “No” she tells me. I’ve screwed up my metabolism big time.

“And do you know what that means?” I must have looked confused because she brought out a picture of the human body and started pointing out parts of the body as if I were a two-year-old.

“I know how the body works. But if I don’t eat how come I gain weight?”

“Okay, let me see if I can make you understand.” Exasperated sigh followed by eye roll. (I get this from my husband and kids but geez; I’m paying good bucks for this “meeting”).

“You need to fuel your body throughout the day, starting with a good breakfast and keep feeding the body small bits of fuel throughout the day. That way your body is constantly receiving good energy and burning it at the same time. When you don’t eat, everything slows down because your system has to use the stored fuel. (Pause here for the confused look to leave my face.)

“Just little bits throughout the day. Grab some carrots. A handful of nuts. Half an apple. Just keep fueling the body and we’ll change that metabolism in no time.”

She hands me a schedule of things to eat at specific times. I smile. I can do this.

I go to the grocery and pick up the healthy snacks. I get home and slice an apple and grab a small handful of almonds and head to the desk to get some writing done. The phone rings.

“This is Dr. Simmons office. We just got information from your insurance company and they don’t cover the visit. I can take your credit card number over the phone.”

I grab my card. “How much?”

“Today’s visit will be a hundred and seventy five dollars. The lab where you got the blood work will bill you separately.”

I give them the information and as I hang up the phone I think to myself, a hundred at the grocery for HEALTHY snacks, probably a hundred and fifty for blood work, and the Doctors bill. Damn, this being healthy stuff is expensive.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


Recently I traveled to my home town of Gahanna, Ohio. I was born in Columbus but besides those first few days in the hospital I spent my childhood in a town that had been home to generations of Blake’s and Graumlich's. My Grandfather was one of the first constables and the other started the fire dept. Both my parents were well known throughout the community and my brothers, sister and I knew better than to come on the radar by doing anything wrong. The whole town knew who we were and what we were up to ALL THE TIME!!! It led us to be either

a. Very good


b. Very sneaky

I’d like to think we straddled the fence most of the time. Meaning, we were very good except for those few times we got caught.

Then thirty years ago when my husband and I got married he took a job in Florida and we have lived down south ever since. Yearly we make the trek back home to visit family, brothers and sisters who still live in the area and my Mom. My Father passed away as did my husband’s parents; we cherish the time spent with our remaining parent.

The problem lies in the fact that everything has changed in the small hometown I remember. I grew up knowing how to get around town by landmarks that are no longer at hand. Gone are the large family farms that gave way to housing developments. More than once I’ve been lost on some back road trying to recognize one small thing from the past. Occasionally I notice they have named a development after the previous owners of the family farm. Smith Acres or Rodebaugh Ranches. It helps a little, “Oh this must be where the Smith’s use to live”, but mostly if I have to leave the downtown area I’m lost.

It seems to frustrate the people who live around here. The ones that have seen the change take place gradually, watched as the sprawl took in those beautiful old family farms. But I still see the place through the eyes of a young woman from thirty years ago. When I had to find a soccer field last week that was located in a development they built around the beautiful pond in the woods where we use to ice skate, well let’s just say I had to stop and ask for directions not once, but twice. (This is for you Connie, tell Stan I asked for direction.) Nothing looked familiar. I could have been in a completely different town in a completely different state. Places, like life, change. I guess it’s just up to us to try to make the necessary adjustments.