Tuesday, April 26, 2016


"A norm is a guideline or an expectation for behavior. Each society makes up its own rules for behavior and decides when those rules have been violated and what to do about it. Norms change constantly."

This is the definition I got when I Googled "social norms". I was curious because I'm spending a lot of time at the pool here in Kauai. I'm pondering the incongruity of all the time spent shopping for attractive outfits, looking this way and that in front of mirrors, making sure all the bulges are tamed and everything fits to maximum flattering effect, versus, well, baring it all in public just because there is a swimming pool in the vicinity.
In olden days, these were the beach fashions:

These days this is more the ideal:

Of course, not everyone wears a bikini, thankfully!  Some look great in one.  But some, well,  do not.  It's a rarity to find anyone who is without bulge, flaw, flab or sag and a bikini accentuates the less than positive.

Still, I'm all for embracing a positive body image and I love the freedom some folks have to let it all hang out (literally).  I just wonder exactly when we collectively decided that revealing so much skin, more than my doctor has asked to see for my last two physical exams, is socially acceptable.   

A modicum of modesty and good taste seems to prevail in our "normal" day-to-day interactions, but at the pool, anything goes!!!  Cellulite, varicose veins, scars, tattoos, butt cracks, woolly back hair, enormous beer bellies, scrotums nestled in their Speedo nests, breasts threatening to break free of the strip of cloth holding them hostage -- it's all OK!  It's all on display!  

I'm not a prude and I don't really care so much about how much people decide to reveal.  I really do think, since this is an agreed-upon social norm, that everyone should show up at the pool and feel comfortable regardless of body size or shape or condition.  I guess I'm just curious.  Is everyone really as comfortable as they appear?  I wear a pretty modest black one-piece suit and I still look in the mirror and think, "Hmmm, where are my leggings?"  

At least, that's the (sometimes startling) view from here...©

Monday, April 25, 2016


Already four days into the vacation; it's flying by.  Hung out at the Marriott on Friday and Saturday.  Went to Waimea Canyon yesterday and did a miserable hike on the Canyon Trail, which looked vaguely familiar and later I realized we also did it in 2012 and I was not so happy then, either.  http://myviewfromhere-donna.blogspot.com/2012/05/hikingfor-birds.html

I keep trying to like hiking and I keep hating it.  I want to be a good "adventure" companion for Hub and hiking seems like something I could do, unlike snowboarding (risking a broken hip standing on a slippery hunk of wood sliding down the side of a mountain) or snorkeling (akin to waterboarding) or pitching a no-hitter (which he did and I nearly missed it because I was young and more interested in chatting with my friends in the stands).  But nearly every time I hike I end up feeling incompetent, hot, sweaty, sore, tired, and angry.  No fun.  Also, as the laughing, smiling, "ain't it great to be on this trail?" hikers pass us by, I feel like a lame-ass loser.  Also no fun.

One couple on their way down the trail to the waterfalls asked if we were having a good time.  I said no, not really.  Silence.  Then they asked if the waterfalls were spectacular anyway.  Hub said not particularly unless you have never seen a waterfall, which, being from Washington means we've seen a kajillion of them.  The ones at the end of the trail were like 15 feet or something.  Puhleeze!  At any rate, our responses were not the requisite jolly good time exhortations our trail companions were seeking.  I'm sure they thought we were champion curmudgeons.  They were right in my case; not so much Hub's.  He was just trying to be informative.

We are staying at the resort today -- beach and pool time.  But I woke up thinking I should be taking more advantage of this vacation/vacant time.  I should meditate more, do some beach yoga, take longer walks or go the gym.  But mostly I'm re-reading the second book in the Outlander series.  (Diana Gabaldon has laced these books with some sort of addictive subliminal messaging.  I never re-read fiction books and I can't stop myself....plus the TV series is covering the same territory and that is equally addicting.  Even Hub said the other night, as we caught up on Season 5 of Game of Thrones and endured yet another graphically violent massacre, "I like Outlander better." )  So, anyway, I'm not doing much of anything that I said I'd have more time to do once I was on vacation.

But maybe that's the point:  Do nothing.  Indulge in self-indulgence.  I'm eating healthy, meditating with the sound of the waves splashing the shoreline, languidly stretching in front of the open patio doors as the breeze off the Bay cools my skin; I'm enjoying walking through the gardens and along the beach, camera at the ready.  Maybe the idea is to let go of the self-improvement agenda, open my Kindle and just be.  Since I am a champion reader, people-watcher, and gazer into the horizon, I should really be in my element today.  I can out-sit Hub any day of the week.  Lame-ass loser?  Not me!

At least, that's the view from here....©

Friday, April 22, 2016


Where has this month gone?  Can it be I have written only one blog post?  Yes, I guess it can.

Well, we are project managing a kitchen update.  And when I say "we" I mean Hub, mostly.  He has floor refinishers, granite fabricators, skylight installers, sink and faucet manufacturers, and appliance salesmen on speed dial, getting bids and scheduling deliveries, installations, and work dates.  I've gone along on multiple trips to select from a dizzying array of choices for granite, sinks, faucets, windows, and outrageously expensive appliances.  Do not EVER decide to have a built-in refrigerator, since forevermore you are required to replace the thing with another built-in unless you want to reconfigure your entire cabinetry to accommodate a free-standing model.  Built-ins, these days, are about three times the cost of a free-standing!  Ouch!

We've also been doing the annual spring yard clean up, which this year included having some huge trees and dead/dying limbs felled on our property.  One shed a goodly sized limb in the last windstorm, impaling itself through the roof of our big outbuilding.  The arborist declared both Big Leaf Maples on either side of the this building essentially dead, and disasters waiting to happen.  We sort of knew this, but the expense of downing huge trees is on par with with a built-in refrigerator, with a lot less to show for it.  The entertainment value was worth something, however, as we got out our lawn chairs and watched the crew of five "tree pirates" work for two full days performing death- defying feats of chain saw magic, sometimes 60-75 feet in the air!  I am in awe of this profession now. And I get the expense -- lots of heavy duty equipment, bucket lifts, chippers, and guys in bandanas swinging from ropes above the forest floor, Tarzan-like.

Having done all the shopping and scheduling, weeding, raking, mowing, planting, and Granny & Grandpy Nannying that has been our life this past month, we are now enjoying a brief respite at "home" at our timeshare on Kauai.  Regular readers know this is an annual trip and are likely tired of the same old photos of the same old places, but Hub and I are fans of the familiar.

We LOVE being in comfortable and familiar surroundings.  Well, when I say "we", I mean "me".  Hub is more an adventurer, but even he will admit that when he wants to just kick back and chill, it's best done in a place he doesn't have to learn to navigate.  We both find being lost and confused stressful, which likely explains why we come back here year after year -- for like 16 or so years now.

Our timeshare purchase, a rare "impulse" buy in the late 90's, has proved to be a good one.  No buyer's regret.  We loved bringing our sons here, then allowed them to bring friends along on occasion, then when they grew up, it became and remains a getaway for just the two of us - which is best because actually the "unit" could be better.  It's not "purpose built" condo, but a hotel conversion.  The full unit is basically a huge hotel room and adjoining sitting room, where there is only an
"efficiency-kitchen" -- a microwave, sink, small refrigerator, small dishwasher; service for four dishes, silverware, etc.  It's fine for us; not that great for a crowd.  There are grills in the courtyard and Hub grills fresh fish every night for dinner.  We have to shop every 3 days since the 'fridge doesn't hold much.  It's a little inconvenient; I'd prefer a full-sized kitchen.   But, the Marriott is not exactly camping -- the rest of the amenities are fabulous.  We have a balcony overlooking the ocean and the open-air Terrace where I sit each morning to sip my coffee, people-watch, and write, overlooks the largest pool in Hawaii.

We arrived yesterday, exhausted and jet-lagged.  We were in bed by 8:00 p.m. (three hours behind home time, so not that early, really) and up at 6:00 to see the sunrise here.  Now a full day of reading at the beach awaits, with intermittent strolls over to the pool for a quick cool-off.   I completely get how blessed I am.  I just wish I could have all the people I love here with me -- in their own unit.  :)

At least, that's the view from here....©

Saturday, April 9, 2016


I just got home from yoga class.  It's Saturday and I hadn't gone all week.   I almost didn't go again today.  I stared at the kitchen clock, as I sipped my coffee, until the last possible minute before I had to leave to get there on time, trying to  convince myself it was fine to just be "in the moment",  "just breathe", overcome the "worthless energy expended on feeling guilty"...

Then I got my butt in gear and went.  Glad I did, of course.  Lovely, slow asana today with lots of attention to stretching for the low back and sciatic nerve.

I guess the reason I was feeling I could take a "pass" on class today was because I'd already done an early morning 50 minute stint on the treadmill  -- enough time to watch 2 episodes of the recently released Season 2 of "Catastrophe" on Amazon Prime -- a raucously irreverent Amazon Original comedy series about a couple who hook up, get pregnant, get married, have a kid... Now in Season 2 it's like 2-1/2 years later... I won't go on in case you check it out, but I was home alone walking the treadmill with earbuds in, laughing out loud...often!  You may hate the show and judge me for my twisted sense of humor (lots of sex -- sometimes a little too much and over the top even for me -- and swearing and life situations that are hilarious), but so be it.  I am looking for things that make me laugh out loud these days.  Politics isn't doing it for me.

But anyway, the treadmill thing is yet another attempt to discipline myself to get more aerobic movement (I won't say the "E" word) in my day.  My Fitbit dutifully records my steps, but really doesn't care if I'm running up hill or shuffling around the house in my slippers.  Hub got up this morning declaring that he needs to be more physically active (this as he was hustling about to go snowboarding) and has set himself the ungodly goal of a 5-mile brisk walk every day.    I know that is not completely realistic, but I know him too, and if he says it he will to it every day, I know he'll do it most days.

I added up the time it would take me to walk 5 miles.  I walk at a less than "brisk" 20 minutes per mile pace; I could push it, but then I'd hate every minute of it and that would defeat me in short order.  So, we are looking at an hour and 40 minutes to get my 5 miles in.  On yoga days, I'm already committed to a 90 minute yoga class with a 40 minute round trip drive to get there and back.  Pad that with another few minutes on either end for parking, set up, clean up, etc. and Yoga is a 2-1/2 hour commitment that I make most weeks at least twice, ideally three times.  Yoga and a 5 mile walk = almost 4 hours.  I read I'm also supposed to lift weights for 30 minutes three times a week, which I have whittled down to 10 minutes about every three months, but I could kick that up a notch, I suppose.  So if I added in some weight lifting I'm up to 4-1/2 hours, plus meditation of course, for brain and spirit health (let's say 30 minutes) and that's 5+ hours just for exercise and meditation in a day.  (You can check my math on that; I am deficient in that area and had to actually draw little clock faces and pretend my pencil was the hour hand -- I blame 1950's public education system for my woeful arithmetic skills and the humiliation of making me solve problems at the blackboard as part of a competitive team for which I was always the last chosen and the sole reason for many teams losing.  I digress.)

Now subtract 3 days a week care for  a one year old who is not on board with ANY of this personal improvement stuff,  meaning it would have to happen after 5:30 in the evening after a full day of childcare.  Also there is that twice/month volunteer commitment to my old social service agency.   Plus I have an active social life (instrumental for mental health, all the articles say) which gets me out to various breakfast, lunch, and/or coffee dates each week with my gal-pals.   And Hub and I are currently undertaking a big kitchen update project with requires meeting with contractors and shopping for granite and sinks and faucets and appliances, etc, etc. on the days we don't have the grandbaby.

The point is, it's very hard to do all this walking, lifting, yoga-ing, meditating, teeth flossing, bill paying, vacuuming, shopping, cooking, gardening, reading, talking, socializing, traveling, Facebooking, blogging, and sleeping in a time frame that makes any sense at all.  No wonder I get overwhelmed and occasionally (often) just grab a book or a magazine and read about what I should be doing instead of actually doing it.  Oh, and I'm also a sedentary person by nature.

Hub really will go for his long walks because he actually enjoys it.  I enjoy the occasional long walk outdoors, but I'm more content on the treadmill where I can read or watch TV to distract me from the effort of what I am doing.  I do fret occasionally that the incline feature on my treadmill is broken, so I can only walk on "flat ground", but then I remind myself that I have a skewed vision of altitude challenges.  People who don't live in Western Washington have flat-land as their natural terrain.  I should know; I grew up in Northern Illinois where a big hill was a topographical anomaly.  At my house now there is nowhere I can venture outside my front door that is flat.  It's all up and down -- either hard on the knees or or the calves and takes me to an anaerobic state just to get gratefully home again.  But if I don't struggle, I feel like I'm cheating.  May need to work on that with my therapist.

I know I need to step up my game to ensure a healthy longer life and I've been meaning to do that for about 30 years.  It's starting to be (ok, past) time to get serious.   So I'm beginning (again) with baby steps into this thing.  I will never, ever be able to keep up with Hub.  It takes most of my energy just to get my ugly walking shoes on, so 5 miles is out of my range and beyond my attention span.

I'm gonna do it by TV episodes.  Starting out with two episodes of Catastrophe most days of the week until I get through Season 2.  Then on to Transparent, which I only managed to see for half of the first season.  I also have Mozart in the Jungle on my "to watch" list. (UPDATE:  Its' GREAT!).  Outlander, Season 2 starts tonight and I will do a bit of weight lifting, sort of like a drinking game, every time Jamie says "aye" in that sexy Scottish brogue.  See?  All of these TV shows actually make me want to get moving!

Whatever works.

At least, that's the view from here...©