Thursday, September 22, 2016

Planet Fitness and the Beauty Angel

It reminds me of something out of an old Woody Allen movie.
When Planet Fitness opened up five minutes from my house, I dusted off the old jogging bra and sprinted over to sign up. Why wouldn't I? It was $10/month to join with no initiation fee (at the time) and, besides, I'm a champ at signing up for fitness centers. There isn't a gym in town I haven't tried, at least for two or three days.

Planet Fitness has a 'big tent' marketing approach that discourages obnoxious gym rats and encourages couch potatoes and everyone in-between. Signs placed around the facility say: You Belong, No Judgment and No Gymtimidation. As a result - or maybe because the price is so low - members run the gamut in all shapes, sizes, ages, colors and fashion sense. I love that about the place.

At first, I couldn't figure out why it was so cheap. The place is huge and well staffed, the equipment seems top-of-the-line and what they spend in cleaning products could break the bank. This is a sparkling facility with comfy rubber flooring (bonus!) and it's not bare bones. But, they don't have classes or fancy stuff like a pool, hot tub and towel service. And, I guess they're counting on volume.

I'm happy to report that, six weeks later, I am still going to Planet Fitness just about every day. I upgraded to the "Black Card" membership for another $10/month which gives me "spa" privileges including unlimited guests, access to HydroLoungers and tanning beds which I will not be using as I  firmly believe they should be banned from the planet...and the Planet.

My favorite perk of the upgrade is unlimited use of the Beauty Angel, a sci-fi "total body enhancement" booth with walls of red light and a vibrating floor. The infrared light (no UV rays) is supposed to boost collagen production and ease pain while the vibrating floor - builds muscle, increases circulation and strengthens your core. What's not to love? It felt awkward and silly at first, especially since you go in there naked (the room is locked) if you want to get the full effect. I couldn't stop laughing the first time but now those good vibrations just zen me out.

It's hard to know if the firming I've noticed is due to the Angel or the exercise or both, but my skin is much, much softer. The vibration is doing my joints and lower back a world of good and the occasional numbness in my legs is completely gone. That's worth a lot more than $20 a month.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The day that will live in infamy, if only he can remember it.

Photo from the same year as my husband's up close and personal encounter with Angie.
Pictured are the infamous vials of blood worn by her and Billy Bob.

Yesterday, I promised to share this story in light of the YUGE news of the Brangelina break-up. (Is it still news today? I haven't checked.) I knew I had told it before and, in fact, it appears I told it twice: Once in 2009 before this blog existed and again in 2011 when my husband inexplicably forgot he went swimming with a topless movie star while swapping stories on a boys' weekend. (This is so typical of him, I can't tell you.) The versions are slightly different, as one would expect as the years pass, but the truth remains. Someone will no doubt tell this story at his funeral someday (decades from now, I hope) because it is so uniquely him: Refreshingly unassuming and far more impressed by female nakedness than celebrity.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

One more time with feeling

As Elton John once famously said, the bitch's blog is back. Not that anyone will read it with the hot Brangelina divorce news breaking. Stunning! Tragic! So unexpected! I'm reeling, dear readers!

(Did I ever tell you the story of my husband swimming alone with a topless Angelina Jolie at the Sunset Marquis Hotel shortly after she won her Oscar for "Girl Interrupted?" I'm sure I did. It's one of my best stories. And it's 100% true, unlike some of my other best stories. I'll have to dig that little nugget up again for tomorrow's post.)

My extended hiatus was necessary to allow me time to complete a big project (a play) and to regain my enthusiasm for the whole blogging experience which, after so many years, was becoming a bit of a self-absorbing drag. The truth is, I didn't think I had much more to say.

But, shit happened and now I do.

In the past several months, I have become a mental health advocate, a dedicated practitioner of net-zero-injury exercise (a term I made up where the goal isn't miles or steps or losing weight but not getting hurt), a FODMAP-restricted dieter and, yes, still a seeker of boomer-friendly products, services and travel.

Also, I've recently embraced the idea of finding comfort in ritual, something that's eluded me my entire life. These days, my daily rituals are limited to coffee drinking and teeth brushing. I don't even make my bed on a regular basis. This may be why I tend to be.... let's call it scattered. I prefer that word to the others. It reminds me of baby bunnies scampering in all directions when the dog goes out to poop. Scattered = Adorable!

When done consistently, blogging can be a satisfying ritual much like journaling at the end of one's day. It's important to keep writing when you're a writer. Especially at my age. Which is only 8 years older than Brad Pitt and totally within the realm of possibility. I'm just sayin'.

See you tomorrow.

Friday, November 13, 2015

I'll be back after these messages

Boy, I thought I'd never see the old blog again after the whirlwind of life I've had - and am still having - this fall.  Thanks for not giving up on me.
The beautiful bride and man-bunned groom at their sunset ceremony.
First, the wedding in late October came off with only one hitch. (Don't get me started on over-extended wedding planners.) I ended up cobbling an outfit together from Chico's in taupe (my spin on the mother-of-the-groom mandate: Wear beige and keep your mouth shut), threw on a bunch of pearls and an autumnal pashmina, and did my own hair. Boom! Done. The beautiful Sunday evening wedding in the country culminated a week-long string of activities I have come to call Burning Man East due to the predominance of bonfires at various celebrations. Big fun, big exhaustion.
Three days after the newlyweds returned to Brooklyn, my son summoned the hubs to Game 5 of the World Series in Queens (in which the home team was playing the Mets.) The kid flew his old man to NYC,  bought tickets for themselves and two others, and put him up in their apartment for three nights on an air mattress. And, wouldn't you know, the KC Royals won the whole damn thing at that game? Amazeballs! I didn't go, but was exhausted just texting them about it!
Me, our director and the Short Jewish Gal
Last weekend, my writing partner (Short Jewish Gal) came to town from L.A. to attend auditions for our first play, which is opening in Kansas City in April at H&R Block City Stage in Union Station. Callbacks are tomorrow. So, much more exhausting fun and excitement! Here is the link to our website and our Facebook page. We are even getting a reading in New York on December 13, which will be one helluva way to celebrate my 60th birthday.
And that, in a nutshell, is what's been going on. For my encore, I have decided to return to the original format of my aging, pro-aging blog because I suspect I'll have things to say about facing the big 6-0 next month. There will still be reviews under the headings of travel, cool products/services,  food/libation, and - God willing - maybe "gifts for the grandkids"... someday! I am one lucky, exhausted gal.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Eureka... fingers crossed!

   I won't say I've been too busy to blog because I was searching day and night for the perfect MOG (Mother of the Groom) dress. That would be exaggerating. The truth is, I've got a part-time job that requires blogging (and other editing duties) that often leaves me with little motivation to post my own stuff.  Plus, it's ragweed season which is always the low energy point of my year, anyway.
   BUT, I am pleased to announce that I have found what I hope to be THE dress for my son's upcoming nuptials on Oct. 25 and it is this...
providing it fits, that is.  I ordered it by mail today from Dillards. It's got the flow-y Bohemian feel my future daughter-in-law is going for without screaming: "You're too OLD for Boho!"  I had purchased another navy blue cocktail number (below) that was kind of early "Mad Men" retro but it didn't seem to fit the overall vibe, as the kids say, of the rest of the bridal party.

     Still, that one fits like a glove so I have a back-up if the new one doesn't.  It's a process, people!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Scaia: Buy this wine!

Kudos and many thanks to my sister, Wendy, who highly recommended this delicious dry rose' while liquor shopping for my son's bridal shower two weekends ago. Finally got around to cracking one bottle open and - oh, boy - such quality for only $13.99 (sale price).  For bonus coolness, each bottle is capped with a glass cork/stopper. Cheers!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Stress Less Coloring: Paisley Patterns

I'm totally into adult coloring books. There, I said it. But, hey. 'Better than being totally into adult diapers... or adult films... or adult beverages. (Wait. I'm into them, too. The beverages, I mean.) Anyway, count me among the throngs of people discovering the stress-reducing value in coloring and the fun assortment of coloring books available to calm-seeking adults. Here's my current favorite:
Colored with watercolor pencils.
Page after page of nothin' but paisleys. The only potential pitfall in my new hobby? There are well over 1,000 coloring books to be purchased and I have about 20 I'd like to buy right now. I guess Santa won't have to do much guessing this year.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Behr-y, Behr-y good paint

Watching paint dry is vastly underrated.
The home improvement continues at a frenetic pace in advance of a couples' shower hosted by my three darling sisters, coming up on Aug. 9th, here at Chez MOG (Mother of the Groom). I'm finally getting around to painting our little "gallery hall" adjacent to the powder room. This is where our guests can view pictures of us and our relatives, going back four generations, as they wait to use the john.  I am the designated interior painter of the family and, as such, I highly recommend Behr Ultra, paint AND primer in one can. (Would you believe this hallway used to be a deep cranberry red?!) The color is French Silver.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

La Fresh Travel Wipes

I was so caught up in all the negative drama surrounding our overnight trip to California (see entry below for unsparingly nightmarish account), I forgot to express my enthusiasm for a new product line I tried out along the way.  I found a plastic bag full of samples from La Fresh (probably sent to me years ago) as I was packing a small carry-on bag for our flight. We wanted to be as nimble as possible (you know, just in case we got hung up somewhere....ugh) and these little packets came in very handy. My sample package contained an antiperspirant (which kept me remarkable cool during the San Diego fiasco), anti-bacterial (handy when a blister on my foot popped open), make-up remover, sunscreen and two more wipes I didn't use (see photo). So easy! So space-saving! So spill-proof! I highly recommend La Fresh for frequent fliers. Sadly, that won't be me for a while. I'm sticking to road trips for the foreseeable future.

Monday, July 20, 2015

38 Hours in Hell: A Travel Diary

     This entry is intended primarily as therapy, but since it qualifies as a "review" (albeit a bad one), I have no problem posting it on my blog.
     We left the house at 11:30 am CDT on Saturday en route to Concord, California, for my husband's brother's celebration of life. The poor man had been valiantly battling brain cancer for over two years and did not want a funeral. His family eventually decided a celebration of life was in order for those he left behind, so we gladly paid the big bucks for a last-minute flight, booked a rental car and hotel room and off we went.
     The outbound Southwest flight that was to connect in San Diego for our flight to Oakland left Kansas City on time. All was going well until the pilot came on the loud speaker and said, in that distinctive wannabe-stand-up-comic Southwest tone, "Well, folks. You've probably noticed we've been circling San Diego for a while. (Actually, I didn't.) They've got a bit of bad weather there (In San Diego? Really?) and we're starting to run of out fuel. I'm afraid we'll have to divert to Phoenix. But, don't worry, we'll be there in a jiffy. They've got dust storm warnings in Phoenix, but we'll let you know what kinds of fresh hell you can expect to further stress you out just as soon as we can." (I paraphrased a little.)
    After 45 minutes on the ground in Phoenix, it was apparent we would miss our connecting flight to Oakland. "Don't worry, darlin'," the oh-so-sympathetic Southwest flight attendant said after I played the 'we've got a funeral in the morning' card. "We'll get you there. They know all about you on the ground." Do they? Great. Wonderful. Color me reassured. Finally, we landed in San Diego where the airport looked like one of those creepy zombie apocalypse movies. I've never seen so many dead-eyed, ravenous and pissed-off people in one place.
    There were so many delayed and missed flights (remnants of Hurricane Delores) we were left on our own. No one to tell us where to go or what to do. Long lines at every counter. Chaos and confusion everywhere. The next available flight to Oakland had been cancelled and the 8:15 flight was already delayed to 9:45 (11:45 our time). Fortunately, the gate for that flight was in a completely different part of the airport, so we schlepped over, found a desk without a line and a Southwest employee who didn't seem like he wanted to kill himself. Or us. He booked us onto the 9:45 flight and handed us new boarding passes. Now we only had 3-1/2 hours to kill. We headed to the closest and only bar/grill where a bunch of bachelorettes from the delayed Vegas-bound flight were at least 4 drinks ahead of us. Not that we were trying to keep up. We still had to drive 45 minutes from Oakland to Concord in our ALAMO rental car.
Gettin' sloppy, girls.
If this were a video, you would hear very loud, very slurry talking.
We were very glad not to be on their flight when it finally took off.
    Fast forward to Oakland where we landed around 11:15 pm (1:15 am, our time - did I mention my bedtime is 10 pm?) and shuttled to the rental car complex where ALAMO WAS CLOSED!  "But, their website says "Open 24 hours!" "Not on Saturday night," said the AVIS lady at the next kiosk who gladly rented us a large deluxe model ("No small ones left") for twice what we would have paid for the ALAMO car.
    Driving out of Oakland on the freeway in the dark isn't a pleasure cruise, but we safely arrived at the CROWNE PLAZA HOTEL in Concord around midnight. My husband stayed in the car while I approached the night manager behind the desk. "Hamilton. Checking in," I said, wearily. "Oh, Mrs. Hamilton. Sorry, but we don't have your room. We're sold out tonight." "That's impossible. I prepaid for the room on Priceline. In full. Non-refundable." I produced the paperwork. "Yes," he said. "And, we couldn't get hold of you..."
    I am not necessarily proud of what happened next, but I'm not sorry either. To explain it, let's just say I morphed into someone else. Call her my evil twin, inner bitch, awful alter ego, whatever. But, I laid into that guy like I have never laid into anyone before: "Are you f%#$ing kidding me? This is NOT acceptable. We have been traveling for 12 hours from Kansas and have a funeral to go to in the morning! I paid for this room in full. Now, listen to me. I want a room. This is your problem, not mine. You need to find us the room that I PAID FOR right now G'dammit!" He looked sick. "What happened was, we had a group who wanted to stay another day..." "I don't CARE! Do you hear me, I don't give a sh**! That room was paid for and you need to fix this RIGHT NOW. I'm going to f#&$ing DESTROY you on TripAdvisor, Yelp, Priceline, Facebook and my own very popular award-winning blog!!" (OK, I didn't actually say that last line out loud but I wanted to, dammit!)  "We could give you a roll-away bed in the parlor," he actually offered, his hand starting to shake. "Do I look like I'm going to be a happy camper on a f%#$ing roll-away bed in your f%#$ing PARLOR!?!?! (And, what the hell is a hotel parlor, anyway?)
    Minutes later, we were in transit to the Hilton five minutes away - a much nicer hotel than the Crowne Plaza - where, thankfully, the bar was still open and the bed was not on wheels.
   After the lovely and peaceful celebration of life yesterday, we headed back to Oakland International at 3 pm. California time, for our non-stop flight home, which was only two hours late.
Making the most of it at Gate 25.
We climbed into our own bed at 1:30 a.m. this morning, just as a storm rolled into Kansas City. 
    Our next flight isn't scheduled until my 60th birthday in December. Until then, I'll be channeling the immortal Dorothy Gale on a daily basis: There's no place like home.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Devil's Thumb Wrap-up: Trail Ride & Gourmet S'Mores

The last morning of our work/play/wedding vacation was spent confronting one of my long-lasting anxieties: horseback riding. It's not that I fear horses (nor do they fear me.) It's just that I had never had a successful horseback riding experience in 59 years. The most notable fiasco was the hubs' and my second date in 1975 when he took me riding at the local stables. A romantic notion, no doubt, but I was unfortunate enough to draw a tired and cranky old horse named Big Dude who, unlike my future spouse, just wasn't into me. I mean, the guy took 20 steps out of the stable and just froze. Did. Not. Budge. As in, "Uh, sorry. You're not worth it." It's a great story to tell now, but the whole incident left me skeptical where the equine species is concerned. Thankfully, that ended with our fantastic trail ride at Devil's Thumb stables...
From the time we checked in to the end of the trail, the wranglers were friendly, helpful and covered the "Riding For Dummies" basics in an efficient and confidence-inspiring manner.
After an intimate moment of bonding, the hubs prepares to hop on Little Joe.
Ever-vigilant Megan leading us into the aspen grove.
We had Wrangler Megan all to ourselves on the breathtakingly gorgeous trail. She even obliged us by taking our photo to prove, once and for all, that Big Dude no longer defines our riding experience.
We both somehow managed to turn and back our horses up several feet for this shot. That's Buster under my saddle.
Now, here's why we probably won't be riding horses anytime soon again, despite the wonderfully positive experience: MY BUTT HURT LIKE THE BLAZES THE WHOLE WAY HOME IN THE CAR! (Omigod. Seriously, people.) Before the saddle soreness set in, however, we enjoyed one last meal at Heck's restaurant and the best darned s'mores this side of the Continental Divide out on the patio. The secret? Stuff'nmallows with mint chocolate chips baked inside!
They make them in Ft. Collins. Genius. I can't wait to buy a case for the next fire ring party here at the old Kansas homestead.
So long, Devil's Thumb. Thanks for the memories, pardners!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Fly fishing lessons @ Devil's Thumb Ranch

    Of the myriad of activities available for the doing at Devil's Thumb, we chose fly fishing lessons today. The hubs and I have been in search of a hobby we might be able to enjoy together as we approach our golden years and, given our vast differences, interest-wise, it was either this or hiking....and my crazy big toe still isn't back to normal.  
     My dad was a fly-fishing enthusiast (albeit more in theory than reality) and I've always wondered if I might take to it like (gulp) a fish to water. The jury is still out, my friends.
Me intently watching our fantastic teacher, Kevin, tying a knot. There is an extraordinary amount of stuff to know about fly fishing to do it well.  Hell, even to do it badly.
When the hubs started casting, Kevin likened him to Brad Pitt's stunt double in "A River Runs Through It." 

My poor fly after a 2-hour beating.

Why is this woman smiling?
After an hour-and-a-half instruction, Kevin cut us loose and I promptly forgot 68% of everything I learned. In the above photo, I am smiling joyfully, even though my line had been stuck for 15 minutes in the knot of my hoodie tied around my waist. I didn't yet understand why I couldn't get any distance in my casting. What an idiot.