Honest Mistake

When my husband brought in the mail recently and laid it on the kitchen table, I noticed the title of an article on the cover of our TIME magazine. “Monogramming is over,” it read.

“I can’t believe monogramming is now passé. Who makes those decisions?” I said, pointing to the cover. “What am I supposed to do with all of your monogrammed L.L. Bean shirts? Now, when you wear them to work, people will think you aren’t up on the latest fashion trends.”

My husband tried to break in, but I wasn’t done.

“That reflects poorly on me. Everyone knows I pick out your clothes. They’ll think I’m a bad wife.”

“Are you done ranting?” hubby asked. He pointed to the article. “Monogamy is over. Not monogramming.”

“Oh.” I’m not a bad wife. Just a bad reader.

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I Am Not a Calculating Woman

My first job after college was editing at a small publishing company in Westport, Connecticut. After I married, I took time off to raise a family, go to grad school, and have a career in education. Forty-three years after that first editing job ended, I have decided to try my hand in that field again. I had business cards made and scouted around for a freelance editing job. When I was finally offered one, I was ecstatic.

Then my anxiety kicked in. The publisher said this project, a fiction manuscript, should end up being about 90,000 words. I started figuring out how long that will take me. And the more that I thought about it, the more anxious I became. I researched the copyediting standard for the average pages one could edit an hour. The limit seems to be ten. The average is six. Since I’ve been away from this for so many years, and I want to make sure I don’t miss anything, I’m figuring I will only be able to do five pages an hour. I also don’t want to work at it more than five hours a day because I have other responsibilities, and sitting in front of a computer for more than five hours a day would be bad for my back and my eyes.

After doing the math, I realized I would have to do more than five pages an hour and work more than five hours a day. Much more on both accounts. This project was overwhelming me, and the publisher hasn’t even sent it to me yet. In fact, it’s been keeping me awake at night.

All that changed yesterday when my husband and I went out to lunch. We were sitting outside on glider tables by the water at our favorite summer spot, Rudee’s. We had ordered iced tea and were waiting for our beer-battered shrimp to arrive. I was trying to focus on what my husband was saying, but my anxious mind was pulling me back to the enormous editing job.

All of a sudden, a thought occurred to me, and with a huge sigh of relief, I started laughing and took out my calculator.

“What’s so funny?” my husband asked.

“I don’t want to tell you because you will laugh at me.” Since I was already laughing at myself, I reconsidered. I told him about my anxiety over this impending editing job and how, by my calculations, it would take me 150 days if I edited ten pages an hour and worked ten-hour days. Then, in a rare moment of clarity, I just realized I was thinking about 90,000 words as 90,000 pages. Obviously, there is a huge difference! A page actually averages 250 words on a double-spaced page of type.

“I may not be in trouble after all.” I wiped my eyes, my laughter not subsiding. “By my new calculations, I can edit this manuscript in three or four weeks doing five pages an hour and working five-hour days.”

I thought my husband would share in my mirth, but he just stared at me and shook his head.

“It’s a good thing you aren’t editing a math book.”

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Country Music Makes Me Cry

WHRO, our classical music radio station here in Hampton Roads, plays constantly in our  house. I tune to it in my car, hum along with the recurring themes, and win, more times than not, the classical music quizzes.

I have never been a fan of country music, but that’s not to say I don’t appreciate it. Certain times in my life I have found myself drawn to country. When we moved to San Antonio in 1980, it was such a foreign place to us, I wanted to drink in the flavor of our new city. I started listening to one of the many country music radio stations. My two favorite songs were “You Picked a Fine Time to Leave Me, Lucille” and “If You’re Going to Do Him Wrong Again,You Might As Well Do Him Wrong Again With Me.”

I finally outgrew my country craze and went back to my classical music. But recently, I’ve started listening to Emmylou Harris. Don’t know why. One of her songs which I play over and over is “Calling My Children Home.”

Country music is so plaintive, drawing out every loss and sorrow. It tugs at your heart.  My children all live far from us, and we don’t get to see them but two or three times a year. It’s been this way for years. Emmylou’s song grabs hold of the raw edges of my heartstrings and plucks away. These are some of the lyrics of her song:

“Back in the years with all together,
Around the place we’d romp and play.
So lonely now and oft’ times wonder,
Oh will they come back home some day.”

“I’m lonesome for my precious children,
They live so far away.
Oh may they hear my calling…calling..and come back home some day.”

I can listen to that song over and over again as tears stream down my face. I’ll make myself a cup of tea as I hear Emmylou’s sweet twang. The tea isn’t always enough to stem the flood, so I will add a few biscotti (Sorry, Darling, I didn’t save any for you. I was too sad). Sometimes I need to pour myself a glass of wine. Or two. Wine is always best with cheese. Or dark chocolate. I try not to cry into my chocolate chip cookie dough–oh, did I mention cookie dough is fab with cab?–because I don’t want to make it soggy.

I’ve added a few pounds lately since Emmylou has taken up residence. I suppose I could turn that durn song off. Or maybe I could just retitle this blog post, “Country Music Makes Me Fat.”

Listen to this at your own risk.

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Toward a Realistic Body Image

I had weighed nearly the same for decades. No matter what I ate, how much or how little I exercised, my weight didn’t fluctuate more than a pound or two. Even when middle age hit and my hormones went on permanent vacation, the needle on the scale stayed the same.  I was  satisfied with what it said.

Why, then, when middle age is a distant memory, has my body decided  to sock away some extra pounds? I could understand if I were in my forties or fifties. But with seventy  looming in three and a half years, I am crying, “Foul!”

If all the extra weight were evenly distributed, I could live with that. I could get new clothes and feel stylish. But the poundage has settled in one area: not north of the equator—which would be much appreciated—or south of the equator, but totally at the equator. If I buy new clothes to fit the equator, the rest of me will be swimming in them. I’ve taken to wearing my husband’s shirts to cover zero degrees latitude.

I used to look at other women’s bodies at the gym and pick one I wanted to model myself after. The young women leaving the body-sculpting boot camp class always inspired me. I’ve become more realistic lately.  I look for women with more mature bodies and aim for that look.

Yesterday, in yoga class, I saw a woman with the perfect body for me. She was sleek and toned. However, she did have the slightest pooch to her stomach. Granted, she just had a baby. But, hey, I just had three children. A little while ago. It takes time to get back in shape.

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My Best Friend, Dave

My time is running out, and I’m beginning to panic. When I bought my most recent computer, I purchased a year’s worth of one-to-one sessions with a techie to help me with things I didn’t understand. You would think that I would require fewer and fewer of these sessions, but  the opposite is true. The closer I get to the end, the more questions I have. Just when I think I’ve got a handle on one of the computer applications, Apple decides to update it. Nothing works the same way anymore, and I can’t figure out what I’m supposed to do.

For example, iPhoto no longer exists. It is now called Photo. How could the removal of a little “i” cause such chaos? I have three separate photo libraries–make that had–which I could switch between at will. The dropdown menu gave me the choice. When I updated to Photo, that option disappeared. With the help of Dave at the Apple Store yesterday morning, I was able to find my three libraries again, but accessing them wasn’t as easy anymore, and my default library had changed without my permission.

I’ve thought of never doing another update, but sometimes you have no choice because something else won’t work until you do. I think this is all a scheme to get me to buy another year with Dave.

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Engaging My Inner Smile

I have a love-hate relationship with yoga. I love how my body feels when it’s over, but I hate all the work I have to go through first in order to feel that way. If I’m going to put in all that effort, I want the experience to be everything it’s supposed to be. And that means I don’t want to be disturbed during class.

Yoga is a meditative affair as well as a physical one. It engages the entire self, mind and body. The episode is incomplete if one of those two things is not engaged. During our session, our yoga teacher constantly brings us back to our inner self to “check in” with how we are feeling. She stresses that we need to be in the here and now and drive all other thoughts away.

Our class starts at 10:45 a.m. sharp. By 10:55 we are deeply in the zone. We have cleared our minds of distracting thoughts and are absorbed in our practice–and then this woman disturbs us by coming in late. Every time.

We have a large class, and I always get there early to claim my spot in the last row, nearest the door. That spot is like my pew in church. It has my name on it. Last week this woman came in late as usual and couldn’t find an empty spot. She had the gall to squeeze next to me where there clearly was no room. I felt suffocated. Claustrophobic.

The next time she came, she tried to do the same thing.

“You can’t put your mat there,” I said. “It’s blocking the door.”

She looked at me with disdain, as if I could possibly tell her what to do.

“Fire code,” I added.

“Oh!” she said sheepishly and moved.

Today at 11:00, after we had done a strenuous warm-up, our teacher told us to close our eyes and engage our inner smiles. As my insides were smiling, I heard the door handle rattle. Uh, oh. The door was locked. Someone must have accidentally pushed the button on the doorknob when they closed the door at the start of class. I assure you it wasn’t me.

A few seconds went by and the door rattled again. No, I was not mistaken. Someone was definitely trying to get in. The perpetually latecomer was seeking entrance. I peeked at my compadres, and they were deeply engaged in their inner smiles. A few more seconds went by, and the person rattled the doorknob again. Since I was closest to the door, I should have let that person in. My inner smile was turning into a frown.

I was about to get up and unlock the door–I really was!–but the rattling finally stopped. Problem solved.

My inner smile was matched by my outer one.

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Color My World

My husband and I were on our way home from visiting my brother and sister-in-law this weekend when I asked my husband if he had remembered the items my brother left for us on the dresser.

“Yes, I put them in the blue bag.”

“Blue bag?” I asked. “What blue bag?”

“You know. The bag we put our clothes in.”

“Do you mean the lavender bag?” I shook my head.

“Is that what you call that color?”

No, my husband is not colorblind. Not in the traditional sense of the word. But he is limited by his maleness to knowing only the simplest names of colors.

I know this narrow color vocabulary is not true of all men. However, I’m willing to bet it describes the majority. Things are either blue, green, red, yellow, brown, black, or white. How many times have you heard a man use the words mauve or teal? My husband  says he also knows gray.

Last weekend we finished painting our living room. If you ask me what color it is, I will tell you it is an extremely light shade of celadon or cucumber. My husband will tell you it’s green.

When we were at my brother’s, I had the pleasure of playing with my two-year-old grandnephew.  I asked him what color his pajamas were.

“Gween,” he said.

“What color is Grandpa’s shirt?”


“What color is Uncle George’s shirt?”


If I don’t intervene soon, this little guy will be as colorblind as his great uncle. But if I get to spend enough time with him, I expect this to be his response to my questions in a year:

“What color are your jammies?”

“They are Kelly green, Aunt Toosie (his name for me), with a touch of cyan. And Grandpa’s shirt is a lovely shade of citrine with cadmium overtones on the collar.”

I have a lot of work to do.

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