Surprise me


Rock Island boat house, https://huffygirl.wordpress.com, © Huffygirl 2012I was bored. I had been home too long. I was tired of everything. Tired of all the food in the house, the TV shows, my books and games. I needed a change.

Since my son was getting ready to do the grocery shopping, in a moment of desperation I added a hasty scrawl to the bottom of the list:  “surprise me with something good and fun.” I was expecting that he’d come home with a candy bar or a box of Oreos.

Instead, he brought me light. Four shimmery little solar lanterns. I pulled out the tag and immediately was surprised with a pretty silvery glow. I tucked the lanterns into the garden, among the emerging hostas and grasses. The little lights were just right, casting a pleasing shimmery circle among the greenery. Suddenly everything seemed new and hopeful again. Sometimes all we need is just a little light.

© Huffygirl 2015

Advertisements

Mother’s Day


IMG_6402 crop2, https://huffygirl.wordpress.com, © Huffygirl 2015This weekend we set aside a day to honor mothers. While this should be a day where we honor the sacrifices our mother made to give us life, to teach, and to nurture us, instead it often becomes a day for cynics to arise and promote negative ideas about Mother’s Day. Some say that mother’s day denigrates women who do not choose motherhood. Others say it makes those with bad mother’s or unhappy childhoods feel sad and isolated. Still others think that the commercialization of this holiday has ruined it, making all things Mother’s Day cheap and insincere. I could go on.

In the late 1800’s Anna Jarvis espoused a wish to have a day to honor all mothers, and wrote this prayer: “I hope and pray that someone, sometime, will found a memorial mothers day commemorating her for the matchless service she renders to humanity in every field of life. She is entitled to it.”  Anna appreciated her own mother and recognized the difficulty of the work of mothering, and its contribution to society. She was intelligent enough to know that honoring  one group, i.e. mothers, does not defame or lessen the importance of  non-mothers and others. She worked tirelessly to have mother’s day established as a national holiday, and it finally was declared  so in 1914. Anna later regretted the commercialization of Mother’s Day, but held true to her belief that mothers should be honored.

In this country we have many days set aside to honor different people and things. Some are silly, like National Hat Day, or fun like National Pie Day. Some are serious like Veteran’s Day, and some are overly commercialized, like Valentine’s Day, and yes, Mother’s Day. Should we then not celebrate pie because cake will feel hurt?  Are socks insulted on Hat Day? Do non-veterans become offended on Veteran’s Day? The answer to all of these questions is of course, no. In a mature and enlightened society, we should have the common sense to recognize that honoring one group does not insult the opposite group. As a nation, we must not lose sight of the reasons we have chosen to recognize certain ones – for dedication, loyalty, commitment, service. These values matter and deserve to be honored.

This Mother’s Day I will remember my mom for all she did for me, and all mothers for their contribution to society.

© Huffygirl 2015

Running Mighty Mac


100_2327, https://huffygirl.wordpress.com, © Huffygirl 2014First, let me say, this is not yo’ mamma’s bridge walk, when 50,000+ people stroll across the Mackinac Bridge each year on Labor Day.  This is a 5.8 mile timed road race, most of which takes place 552 feet above the chilly Straits of Mackinac on the amazing feat of engineering, the Mackinac Bridge. This is the same bridge that is closed during windy weather, least its travelers be swept off into the water below. The same bridge where a Yugo driver met a watery grave in 1989. The same bridge where 400 or so drivers a year avail themselves of assistance from the Timid Driver program, too frightened to drive themselves across. Though the 5.8 mile distance is almost twice the mileage I’ve ever run, Best Husband and I accept the challenge and train to run Mighty Mac.

The day before the race we drive to Mackinaw City at the foot of the Mackinac Bridge,  so we’ll be ready to board the bus to cross the bridge at 5:30 next morning. Once we are settled in our hotel room, BH and I begin our pre-race rituals, for most runners, a cross between runner superstition, preparation, and nervous anticipation.

BH: Pin race number to front of T-shirt.

Me: After checking weather.com, lay out appropriate running clothes for the predicted weather, and affix race number.

BH: Lie on bed and nap.

Me: Lay out alternate running clothes in case weather turns out colder or warmer than predicted.

BH: Lie on bed and nap.

Me: Lay out running accessories – lucky socks, earrings, heart rate monitor and pre-race food.

BH: Continue to lie on bed and nap.

Me: Do pre-race manicure with favorite red polish.

BH: Well, you know.

Me: Stretch hamstrings and tight muscles while nail polish dries.

BH: Wake up from nap and ask if it’s bedtime yet.

It tuns out that BH is much more relaxed about this run than I am.

Sunrise over Lake Huron.

Sunrise over Lake Huron.

Next morning we rise early, wanting to be one of the first to get on the bus to take us to the start at the north side of the bridge. The enthusiasm among the runners as we board the bus is almost palpable. Mostly young people, in assorted neon, black tights and warm weather gear, as we expect it to be a little chilly that high above the straits, which only a month or so ago still sported ice floes. I capture the pink sky with my iPod  as the sun gets ready to peek over the horizon on our right as we cross the bridge on the bus.

And then, it’s showtime, Unlike most races where the runners congregate at the start line and take off all at once, this is a staggered start, since there is not enough room on the bridge to send off all the runners at the same time. We start off with the sun rising on our left, and a mild breeze coming off the water on our right. For this far up in Michigan in May, this is about the most perfect weather we could hope for. There are no mile markers, no cheering crowds, no water stations – just a few race monitors scattered across the bridge. It feels like we had just decided  to get up early one day and run across the Mackinac Bridge on our own.

But despite this idyllic setting, I’m having a little panic. I’ve never run this distance, and once you’re out on the bridge, the only way off is to finish. It’s a gradual uphill to the halfway point of the bridge, roughly 2.5 miles. From there, the rest of the way on the bridge is all downhill, then just a few blocks through the city and we’re done. I can do this. BH and I take off together, pacing each other, as we’ve decided to run this together.

As we pass the half-way point, I know I’m home. Still amazed at how well I’m doing, we speed up on the downhill side of the bridge. We finish the last few blocks through the city, still quiet this early in the morning, and bring it home, well under the time I predicted for myself.

Running Mighty Mac was by the far the most amazingly beautiful race I’ve ever done.  Will I see you there next year?

HG, BH and Mighty Mac in the distance.

© Huffygirl 2014

 

 

 

 

A Christmas tree for Scarface


A storm brewing over the tree farm, or my finger over the lens?

A storm brewing over the tree farm, or my finger over the lens?

Suppose you’re feeling down because you fell and broke your face, and nothing has seemed right since. What could cheer you up more than going out to cut a Christmas tree on a bright sunny day, unless of course you are Jewish, in which case, it wouldn’t cheer you up at all. But, since I am not Jewish, is was just the what I needed.

Best Husband and I loaded up the family van, which ironically, has no family at all to ride in it, and headed out with the required accoutrements:

  • a genuine 1960’s snowmobile suit, a wardrobe staple since our kids were old enough to be embarrassed by their parent’s outfits
  • a beat-up orange hand saw, rescued from my dad’s garage, also circa 1960
  • old shoes and boots for slogging through the tree farm mud
  • an entry coupon for the tree farm’s annual  “Win $500 dollars” drawing, which we have dutifully completed since 1974, and as far as we know, has never been won by anyone

A half hour later we had reached our destination: a family owned local Christmas tree farm, which despite being within spitting distance of my childhood home, I had never visited until I grew up, moved away  and married the man with the snowmobile suit.

Being Christmas tree pros, we headed right to the Douglas Fir section. Eschewing our usual tactic of wandering around among 50 to 75 trees and finally picking one when we were too cold to no longer care, we instead drove to the far end of the Douglas Fir section, ogling the choices along the way. In the end, when we finally got out to walk among the tree choices, we picked the second one we saw. This sure beats our usual method of letting our frozen brains make the choice, and was ironic to boot, since the day was especially balmy for Michigan, and we could have afforded to wander among the trees for some time without risk of freezing.

Best Husband, grounded.

Best Husband, grounded.

The rest of our cut your own Christmas tree tradition involved our handing over the tree to underpaid tree farm workers, who stand out in the cold all day and half the night from Thanksgiving to December 24th, putting trees through the shaker and baler and helping city folks load them into their yuppie vans and SUVs. Sometimes this includes broad gestures and lots of nodding if the workers happen to be non-English speaking migrants, which only adds to the charm of this annual event.

Once home, our tree awaits the appropriate time for decorating, as BH and I are not the kind of people who put up Christmas trees the day after Thanksgiving.

Trees for Christmas Future.

Trees for Christmas Future.

Related post:

It wouldn’t be Christmas without Kling (huffygirl.wordpress.com)

Christmas shopping=bah humbug (huffygirl.wordpress.com)

© Huffygirl 2013

 

 

Why I will bike no more


Bike Helmet

I used to bike a lot. Not professional cyclist or racer, just recreational cyclist. Best Husband and I, once freed of the penury of child rearing, developed our own hobbies and interests and eventually invested in good road bikes. We’d spend hours out of every summer biking together, enjoying the scenery and companionship. I will miss biking, but I will bike no more. And here is why.

Flash backwards about four weeks ago. I’m sitting on the side of the road, a good vacation gone bad, with blood pouring out of my nose. One friend is holding my head steady while another is staunching the blood with tissues. Meanwhile horrified onlookers stand by while I’m sobbing and trying not to sob at the same time, shaking hot and cold and wishing I had never ridden my bike that day.

A fun bike ride with friends had turned into every cyclist’s nightmare:  a face first over handlebars freak accident. Soon  the ambulance arrives, and my husband and I ride to the barely adequate  urgent care clinic. Once there, a third-year resident who acts more like a third-year med student takes over my care. Everyone asks me the same questions incessantly, writes them down, but no one looks at the answers. My jaws are sloshing painfully back and forth and I finally motion for a clipboard. Then, holding my swollen eye open so I can see, I write a pretty coherent med list, allergies, and answers to all their questions, while the medical indifference swells around me. As I sit in the clinic bay, no blanket offered, I realize I’m getting woozy and faint, chilled and hot at the same time, and suggest they might want to think about getting me a blanket and starting an IV.

Later, I endure an ambulance ride across the Mackinac Bridge and farther south to get to the closest real hospital, about 45 minutes away. With my face and body throbbing, I convince myself that moaning softly and keeping my eyes closed will relieve the pain, since no one has offered to give me anything to soothe the awful  throbbing during what is normally a very pleasant drive.

After x-rays and CTs, it is confirmed. My face is broken. All of it. The orbits, the delicate maxillae, and my already somewhat crooked nose – smashed into shards of bone. A week or so later I have grueling surgery to put it all back together. The plastic surgeon using screws and plates, delicately reassembles the puzzle that had become my face. The shards of bone, now held in place with metal, have put my face somewhat back together, though it no longer feels like my face. Places that once were soft are now hard, metallic, crooked, numb. It is not a perfect face, though,it was a pretty ordinary face before. Time will tell if it becomes the face that I had before, or something close enough to it, or if it will remain a hideously skewed semblance of a face that makes polite people look away and rude people stare.

No one told me that I must give up biking. I had biked nearly 5,000 miles, with no hint of a serious accident, and chances are, could bike another 5,000 in my lifetime without incident. But, it somehow feels wrong, to take my patchwork of bones back out onto the road, where anything might happen in the blink of an eye. It seems like an insult to my surgeon, and to myself and my family for all we’ve gone through, to tempt that fate again. I feel grateful to have a face, to still have life, and to not have suffered more serious injury than what I already had. And so, I will bike no more.

© Huffygirl 2013

Weekly Photo Challenge: Nostalgia


The Huffys in 1974.

The Huffys in 1974.

The Huffys, 39 years later.

The Huffys, 39 years later.

Today’s photo theme is perfect for me. I’m feeling a little nostalgic because 39 years  ago today I married Best Husband. He has indeed been the best (and only) husband I’ve had, and we’re both glad that we’ve stuck together these past 39 years.

Although it doesn’t seem like that long ago, things have changed a lot since we posed for that photo in our horrible 70’s clothing. Gas was about 20 cents a gallon, and folks were getting used to this new kind of gas called unleaded. The Viet Nam War was still raging and Americans were still protesting. President Nixon was close to resignation. Most goods sold in the US were manufactured here. People worked for the same company most of their lives, retired at 65, and died a few years later. Seventy-five percent of the US population smoked, and no one stood outside to do it. Words like outsourcing, networking and texting did not exist. Most women chose homemaking over the workplace. Blow dryers, cell phones and home computers were still a long way off. Most TVs received two to three channels, unless you opted to pay extra for a new-fangled thing called cable.  No one had anything digital, except the ten things on the end of their hands. And lest you think I’m 100 years old, all of this nostalgia was really only 39 years ago.

© Huffygirl 2013