Park it; Plant it; Pedal it; Preserve it!

I’m freshly returned from attending an ICAA conference (International Council on Active Aging).  The topics (as probably can be discerned by the name of the conference) focused on the benefits of exercise and activity on the aging process.  “Sitting Is the New Smoking” was a quote I heard cited from a Huffington Post article.  Activity promotes wellness and brain health and contributes to quality of life and longevity.  Considering the conference was held at the Orange County Convention Center, a virtual city unto itself requiring considerable exertion just to get from parking my car to parking my self, I felt positively virtuous about the amount of exercise I had undergone just to get to my chair.  As an aging Baby Boomer, this information has great salience to me.  We are expecting our second grandchild and I want to be around for a while to enjoy them. 
So, with active aging on my brain, I thought about one of my very favorite pastimes- bicycling.  Biking is the ultimate multi-task enabler (and as a crazed Lady Boomer that’s important!)  (1) it provides a mode of transportation enabling you to get to a desired destination; (2) it is great exercise, (3) you are outside, (4) you help protect our planet from noxious carbon emissions, and (5) IT’S FUN!   So, with improved health and protecting the environment in mind, why not park that car and ride your bike?  Driving is boring and fraught with hassles.  Put saddlebags on your bike for shopping- only buy as much as your bags will hold (a surprising amount by the way).  My husband and I have managed to fit as much as $180 worth of groceries in our saddle bags at one time.  People have laughed and waved as we careen around the corner with a 12 pack of Miller Lite in tow.  Biking makes everyday chores more fun and helps preserve the earth for future generations (even more important to me now with an impending birth around the corner).  So, park it, plant it, pedal it, preserve it!

A Week of Lasts

This has been a week of lasts.  The last Thursday night spent in our home; the last Halloween spent on Choctaw Trail, one of the premier trick or treat sites in Central Florida; the last Saturday morning; the last Fall Back for Daylight Savings time; the last Sunday morning dressing for church; and the final fire in our fireplace.  Sweet, sentimental moments, not necessarily sad ones.  As I write this post I’m sitting lengthwise on our living room sofa gazing out at the robellini palms and golden Lantana bushes.  My labradoodle is perched on our window seat, a place she commandeered earlier in her life in order to keep vigil over the neighborhood.  

While I’ll miss this house and neighborhood of 32 years, I’m excited about the change.  I think change contributes to brain health and a youthful spirit.  I am looking forward to the prospect of shopping at new grocery stores, biking for burgers, and traveling new routes to old places.  At 61, with all the aches and pains associated with aging, I relish accessing a few of those youthful feelings again. 
Kitchens House

Girls’ Weekend

I’m freshly returned from an annual women’s weekend. This time the venue was southern Indiana at a house on Horseshoe Bend on the Ohio River.   Scallops, steak, and Shiraz awaited our arrival.  The inky blackness obscured our view of the river until morning.   Women with wine glasses have a tendency to talk, and talk we did into the night.
Many mornings found us bundled up against the crisp morning air, enjoying a gradually pinkening sky.  Adirondack chairs on the wrap around deck held us as we engaged in the kind of easy conversation that comes from living in close proximity.  The freedom to look your worst- hair askance, no makeup, baggy, comfy, clothes and feel accepted “as is” feels affirming.  These women whose house I shared are television personalities and partners in law firms.  Dressing appropriately is a requirement.  
One of my few regrets is not experiencing dorm room life at an away college in my youth.  But this gathering of women, I suspect, mimicked that experience (sans the catty competitiveness).  Rather than anxieties about grades and guys, we shared anxieties about retirement and families.  The conversations focus on the joys of a good night’s sleep rather than the ecstasy of a night of sex.  Such is the evolution from 20 to 60.  But I don’t think I would trade the sagging chest and etched facial flaws for perky boobs and nimbleness.  Like the river carving this vista, our experiences have sculpted our beings.  Our collective wisdom is hard-earned.  I’ll take that over perky tits any day.
Horseshoe Bend

The “Girls” at Girls Weekend 2014

Ch ch ch Changes….

Throughout the course of my 61 years I’ve fancied myself to be flexible and adaptable.  I enjoy changing things up.  I don’t really like routines.  I can barely stand brushing my teeth in the same place every day…I like varying driving routes.  Apparently, however, that flexibility does not apply to the changes inherent in moving.  I’ve posted more than a few rants about selling my house of 32 years this summer.  I think ranting is the operative word here.  Apparently I’m not one to keep my anxieties contained.  They have managed to spill out into my blog posts for all to share.  (I obviously believe writing is a mutual endeavor.  We become partners in the words).
So..yes, I’m experiencing a bit of angst about moving.  I’ve heard it said moving is one of the top five stress inducers.  I’m surprised to say I can understand why.  All of the changes we’ve made to make our house marketable have eradicated the soul and spirit of my home.  The beige walls, carpet and dining room chandelier do nothing to nourish my spirit, which thrives on color and warmth.  (The name of this blog, after all is Be Brave. Lose the Beige.  Beigifying my house is a virtual assault to my eyes and being.
Anyone who has listed a house remembers the endless hours spent scouring and scrubbing to ensure remnants of family meals don’t inhabit the inside door of the dishwasher.  Not a single solitary squirt of toothpaste can remain in the bathroom sink; the disemboweled squeaker dog toys (or not so squeaky since they are disemboweled) are hidden from view from prospective buyers (what pets?  Who us?)  Everyone goes through this when they decide to move.  As much as I value variety, the disruption of routines is rather seismic.  I have to say, a warm, stable, nurturing nest trumps change and variety any day for me.  A home is a place where the collective sighs of the day escape your lips like air escaping an errant balloon as your key unlocks the door.  Your potentially clenched stomach relaxes at least a bit.  I’ll admit it…except for my children, I’m not a fan of long or even short term visitors in my house.  My home is a place where I unpack my emotions- joyous or otherwise.  That vulnerability is not something I necessarily want to share with non-immediate family members until I’m good and ready.  So I, and perhaps my co-enablers (readers) of this blog, will be happy with this change actually occurs.  The music from David Bowie’s refrain, “Ch ch ch ch Changes” replays itself over and over in my head, as like him, I turn and face the strain. 

The Perils of Pauline (or Liz)

My blog posts this summer might suggest my life is starting to resemble an episode from the 1914 show, “The Perils of Pauline”.  I’ve been behaving like the drama queen damsel in distress title character with all my hand wringing and complaining.
Any of you who have tuned in to my posts have read/heard about (1) our impending move to Baldwin Park and the process we have undergone to ready our current house for the real estate market, namely beige-i-fying our colorful house, stripping it of art and personality; dealing with the aftermath of shoddy contractor work; the stress of insuring no remnant of last night’s dinner remains in our kitchen sink prior to an open house or showing; and finally the ego blows from the rejections by strangers evaluating your home of 31 years.  These are fairly common complaints from people trying to sell their homes (except from those who boast about selling their house within minutes of posting it on MLS);  (2) the fire that occurred in the midst of our Chicago vacation.  The late night phone call advising me firemen were breaking down my front door. A smoldering dryer was the culprit setting off our alarm and summoning the Maitland Fire Department.  (3) of fairly minor consequence was arthroscopic knee surgery. 
Well, I’m adding one more (and hopefully the last) episode to my summer of feeling sorry for myself.  Last week Central Florida experienced torrential downpours as people were making their way home from work.  The storm was so aggressive roads and sewers could not accommodate the rapidly rising rainwater.  My husband was driving our newly leased BMW to get a hair cut in the midst of this Noah’s Arc-like flood.  (Perhaps the real issue here is why I feel a need to move from a perfectly good house to a townhouse and lease a red BMW when all we have ever owned are practical cars.  Aging issues, perhaps?)  Self recriminations aside… as my husband turned from a highway on to a side street, a wall of water engulfed the car, stalling the engine.  Afraid to open the door for fear of flooding the interior, Jim sat for two hours awaiting rescue.  Who knew AAA won’t touch a submerged car?  As the water subsided, he optimistically assumed he could put the car in neutral and push it out of the middle of the road.  As he pushed the starter button the ignition caught fire.  Fire trucks and police were dispatched.  The battery was removed to avoid future fires.  I was finally able to reach him just as all the rescue vehicles were leaving.  “No problem, a tow truck will arrive shortly to transport your car”, we were advised.   My totally traumatized husband, who had been sitting in the car since 5:15, was forced to sit for another 6 hours awaiting a tow truck.  Finally, one of Casselberry’s finest arrived around 10:30pm.  Officer Stewart called their emergency towing company who arrived in short order to transport our car home.  We were his ninth customers since 7pm.  “You know it’s totaled, right?” he asked.  No, the thought had not occurred to us.  It looked in tact.  “You’ve basically drowned your car”, he said.  “These cars are so computerized they can’t survive submerged in a puddle for a prolonged period of time”.
Seriously?  A house fire and a drowned car?  Within a month of each other?  I feel like a James Taylor song-  “I’ve Seen Fire and I’ve Seen Rain. I’ve seen sunny days I thought would never end…” It’s been feeling a little cloudy around here.  I keep hoping for sunny days to return soon… (See, the drama queen in me has raised her head yet again.  Oh well…)