Monthly Archives: April 2012



Lets time-warp up to the 80’s…

Place:  Duluth International Airport (Seriously?…International?)

Players:  Me and my husband, daughter; my sister and her family;  a group of strangers

Scene:  We are all out on the observation deck waiting for my parent’s flight to come in.  See plane coming so we all are standing at the north window…plane lands and taxi’s over to the other side of the deck so we all move emnmasse to the other side.  Somehow my sister’s 6yr old son gets behind me and I fall on top on him.  Everyone turns to look as my nephew struggles to get out from under me and all I can do is laugh.  My husband is loudly whispering, “Get up, people are looking at you”.  Like I didn’t know that?  The only way to save face in this situation is to just laugh like it’s no big deal!!

The next really big fall happens in the next millennium.

Place:  The big conference room at the Edgewater Motel.

Players:  Me, my friend Connie, a room full of rug hookers

Scene:  It was during a week long rug school that I was attending and I was chatting with a bunch of women   and I was walking away when my friend said something funny .  Never one to let an opportunity pass to give my two cents worth of comic commentary, I whipped around to say my shtick.  At least my top part of my body whipped around…my bottom half was still heading in the other direction.  Well there must be some law of physics that I broke because I found myself going backwards at warp speed unable to stop…..faster and faster I went all the while my arms were whirling like some frantic human windmill.  It all happened in slow motion and I remember thinking, “Oh this is going to end badly and painfully” and for once in my life, I was right!  I crashed into the banquet tables that the ladies were sitting at, smashing my head on the edge of the table, eyeglasses went flying off my face and hitting my head a second time under the table on the leg brace.  Picture this…..most of the ladies at this event are retirement age or older so they are shocked  at the behavior of my friend who was laughing hysterically at the sight she just witnessed. She said I looked like the guy in that stop smoking commercial who goes crashing backward throughout his office building to the outside to have a smoke.  And she had known me long enough not to be surprised at anything I did.  I, of course, was laughing hysterically myself, still under the table.  The ladies were sure I had either had a heart attack or a seizure and they wanted me to lay still and call for help.   It took a few minutes to assure them that I was OK and I didn’t need help (just a new pair of panties!).   The next day I wore a helmet with a sign on the back that read: “WARNING: THIS WOMAN BACKS UP UNEXPECTEDLY”

My latest fall happened just last month and I think it was my best one to date.

Place:  Waiting room at the OB/GYN office

Players:  Me, a guy I went to high school with, strangers and the ultrasound nurse

Scene: As I was checking in, I noticed a man sitting all by himself in the waiting room that I had gone to high school with.  My first thought was, “Crap, of all days not to wear make-up” and my second one was to wonder if I could pretend not to recognize him.  But I figured he would wonder why I didn’t say hello so I sucked it up and went over to him feigning happiness in seeing him again.  Well I needn’t have worried about him recognizing me as I had to explain to him who I was.  I sat down next to him and we began to chat.  I should have known it could only go downhill after he asked if I was pregnant.  OK, I might look pregnant but holy crap, I am 57 so the chances of me being pregnant should be pretty dang slim even to a guy who never married.  So now I am getting embarrassed, thinking, “Holy crap, I must really be a cow if old Roy boy thinks I am pregnant” and when I get embarrassed I kinda run on all cylinders.  So there I am, talking a mile a minute, not even making any sense and the ultrasound nurse comes out and calls my name.  In my haste to escape, I somehow got my feet tangled up in my purse handles and as I was attempting to get up and away, I stepped forward and before I knew what was happening, I was on my way down to the floor.  I had just had both wrists operated on and in my frantic attempt to break my fall, I landed on my wrists, undoing any benefits of said operations.  The look on the nurse’s face was priceless.  She came running over to me asking if I was ok and what was I doing?…..laughing like a hyena, trying to get up more gracefully than I had gone down.  I never even turned around to see what Roy had done or what the other folks in the waiting room had done.  I had just hoped that no one had gotten it on video.  I couldn’t stop laughing and I had the nurse laughing and apologizing for laughing during my whole appointment.  She did come up with a silver lining to my humiliation.  “At least you didn’t wet your pants when you fell”.  I have since taken that as my life motto.  No matter what happens to me now, I can always tell myself, “At least you didn’t wet your pants”!



I come from a long line of women who expressed themselves through their hair.  My grandma Lou was once a hairdresser and my mom did all the women in our neighborhood’s hair.  So it was just natural for me and my sister to follow in their footsteps.  My first day of kindergarden I had a french twist.  You must be of a certain age to remember french twists or french rolls.  Basically your whole head was backcombed and then it was sleeked down a bit and the back was rolled or twisted into a hotdog bun-shaped roll and pinned with bobby pins and hair pins.  And then they used a half can of Aqua Net hairspray to hold it all together….for days.   At night you wrapped toilet paper around it to help hold it in place.  Not that it was going anywhere.  You could have been out in hurricane force winds and that sucker didn’t move.  But heaven help you if you got caught in the rain!  But every woman kept a rain hat in her pocket or purse and you would just tie that baby on and you were good to go.  So what about when it was time to wash it?  I remember sitting in a highchair with my mom trying to brush out the spray and the ratting and me crying and my mom telling me, “You have to have some pain to be beautiful”.   Well I can tell you that either we didn’t suffer enough or she was lying cause neither my sister or I ever turned out beautiful and yet we suffered through many years of our mother doing our hair.  Her ponytails were so tight that my eyes were slanted back towards my ears.   In every school picture I have some god-awful bouffant hairdo.  And my poor sister has a pixie cut. How many of you remember “Tonettes”?  It was the childrens version of the perm called “Toni”.  I can’t tell you how many Tonettes I had.   I can still remember the horrid smell and the cold solution that would run down your neck and into your eyes and ears.     And do any of you remember those shampoo aids that were round and you would put it on your head before you washed your hair so soap and water wouldn’t get in your eyes? I was terrified of water in my face and I had to wear one but of course some water still ran down the sides and onto your face and I would fuss and my mom would get mad.

Let’s leave the grade school years and head on to Junior High where I   first started coloring my hair.  My first dye job was to spray, “Sun In” on my hair.  In the commercials all the girls had gorgeous light blonde streaks.  In real life it turned your hair orange unless you were already a blonde.  In my 8th grade photo I have this brassy orange hair with black roots.  So much for Sun In.  Ninth grade shows a much better hair color-stripes.  I had my hair “frosted”.  Now you want to talk torture…picture this.  A tight rubber cap is squeezed down over your head like a swimcap only it is full of tiny holes.  What are the holes for, you ask?  They are there so the torturer can yank pieces of your hair out of them with a tiny crochet hook.  Hundreds of holes.  The more hair yanked out of these holes, the blonder you would be.  This was a many hour production.  First the hair was yanked out, then a bleaching solution was slathered on the hairs sticking out of the torture cap.  Depending on how dark your hair was and how blonde you wanted to be this process could take a long time. It often was sped up by sitting under a hot dryer with toxic fumes blowing down for you to breathe in.  Once you were blonde enough, then the bleach was washed out and a toner was put on.  More waiting.  Toner was so your blonde wouldn’t turn brassy.  Finally, the right color (if you were lucky) was achieved and it was time to take off the cap.  Holy Hell….by now your head was throbbing from all the yanking and you had burns from where the bleach had sat on your scalp and now this person who you are going to pay a small fortune to, is pulling this freakin’ hair sucking giant condom off  and you swear every hair that has been yanked through is being ripped out by it’s bleached roots!  Finally the dang thing is off and now you have to have it all washed and the last thing you want is to have someone touch your throbbing head.   But it has to be washed, so you sit through more torture all the while saying to yourself, “You have to go through some pain to be beautiful”.  You would think by now what more could hurt….oh honey, the fat woman ain’t sung yet….the water is scalding hot and the stylist has daggers for fingernails and she thinks she is doing you a favor by scrubbing your head.  Why not just poor boiling oil mixed with glass shards on next cause that’s exactly what it feels like.  Panic starts to rise in your throat when you think you still have to have it set, dried and styled.  And dear Lord, what if she uses those rollers with the brushes in them….you can just feel each little prick of those hundreds of sharp little brush tips.   I don’t know about you, but I am breaking out in a sweat just thinking about it!  And to think, I did this many, many times and it was worse when I would try to save money and have my mom do it.  She would take out every frustration she ever had with us when she would yank those hairs out.  My sister and I would tell ourselves that we would never have Ma do our hair again but there we would be, begging her not to be so rough this time.  And what would be her reply?  “YOU GOTTA HAVE SOME PAIN TO BE BEAUTIFUL”!!!!




I am listening to an oldies channel on cable TV and what a rollercoaster of emotions these songs can be.  Some of the songs (all from the 60s) can make me sad…not because of the lyrics but from the emotions I must have been feeling when the song was popular.  Some times I could just sob but I couldn’t tell you why.  Some songs actually make me sick to my stomach…not because they are so hokey but because of the turmoil I was in during that time.  I can’t pinpoint what exactly.  My teen years were not something I would ever care to go back to as some of you can imagine!  Yet there are the songs that bring back memories of a young girl.  Perky bust, tiny waist, nice booty, large eyes, smooth skin with that unmistakable glow of youth.  Ahhhh, if only it was that way now!   When you are young, you are invincible.  You can only imagine the life you may have.  Who knows what may happen.  Everything is open to you.  Life is exciting and fresh.  The possibilities of what you can do is unlimited.  It’s like living in a CandyLand world or a Katy Perry video!  You wake up excited to see what the day brings……

And here I sit, 40 years later.  Bust has gone South, waist has expanded like our government debt, booty is as large as a third world country, eyelid droop has made eyes half their size and what of that smooth skin? The only smooth skin I see nowadays is my grandbabies bottoms!  I look into the mirror and think, “who the hell is that?”  Inside I am still 21.  Outside I am on the wrong side of 60.  When did the transformation happen?  Where was I???  How could I have let this happen?  Sure, I suffer from SO’HS (Scarlette O’Hara Syndrome….”I’ll think about it tomorrow. For tomorrow is another day.”) but seriously, you would have thought in 40 years I would have taken a good look at myself and said, “Damn, girl.  You better do something quick or you’re gonna be in deep &^%$”.   Must have been too busy dying my hair or cutting it myself (whole nother post!!!) cause it’s the one thing that doesn’t take any self control and no sweat or grunting (tho, I did scream in shock a couple of times).  And shopping on Ebay.  I have very muscular fingers from typing and scrolling  and very good eye/hand coordination from trying to outbid others at the last minute.   And let’s not forget my all time favorite pastime…..napping.  I have had a sleep disorder since my early 20’s so I never get quality REM sleep at night so I tend to nap for three hours or more anytime I get a chance. Somehow, napping doesn’t seem to be an aerobic activity (Ha…you should see what I can do in my dreams!) and snoring must not burn many calories.  Still, it’s not like I was sitting on my couch eating bonbons 24/7.  You’d think you’d get some points for just breathing.  And what about all those hotflashes?  You would think that those suckers would burn the calories like hellfire on a sinner.  I should be glowing just from the constant heat and sweat.   And all the walking I do….from one room to the next saying, “What the heck did I come into this room for?”  But most of all, I should be in much better shape as I am carrying around an extra human woman.  Like in that movie, “Shutter”.  There has to be a person sitting on my shoulders cause I can’t possibly weigh what I do all by myself!!!!  Everytime I get my picture taken I can see parts of her under my chin, around my upper arms, behind my butt and thighs.  Oh ya, she’s there….just like a Siamese twin…..only headless.  (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!)  So next time you see me,  see if you can see her, OK.  And get that beyotch off of me!!!!!!



I love the word, “bittersweet”.   So many things are sad/sweet and I like having a word that means that.  Today’s post is very bittersweet for me.  It is my last weekend with my friend who is moving to a nursing facility this week.  I have seen the facility and it’s brand new and beautiful.  Her room is much bigger than I expected and she has a nice view of the woods that surround the facility.  Huge, huge bathroom with huge shower.  Even has a small fridge.  Staff seems very nice.   She will have most everything she needs but when you have just turned 60 it just doesn’t seem right to spend the rest of your life  in a “facility” no matter how nice it is.  There is no other choice.   She has to have 24 hour care and it has now progressed to more than I and my co-workers can handle.   Being the type of person I am, I having a hard time letting go.  I think about her daughter who is flying in this week and has to deal with this plus get her mom’s huge apartment emptied out by May 1st.  How is she going to do it?   How is my friend going to cope being in a new place without us there to help her?  Does the new staff realize how dependent she is on help?  What will she do all day?  So many things to worry about and yet, there is nothing I can do.  My time with her is over.  I will go on to help others but will always  think about her and wonder how it will all end.  Bittersweet.



Strange things I have seen in the past few months:

January 14….snowing, cold….I see an older man driving without any shirt on headed to Canal park.  No shirt.  Snow.  Wasn’t close enough to see if he had on pants!

March 27….a car heads toward the freeway from Canal park with a surfboard  tied to the top of his roof.  A surfboard?  In Duluth?  In March?

April 12….43 degrees out, a dapper fellow driving with his convertable top down but windows rolled up.

(and as a side note:  why is it I always see MEN driving with a little dog in their laps?)

A few years ago, I was driving down a backroad when I saw something strange coming up.  It was a line of what I thought to be dogs walking right down the road  but as I got closer it turned out to be 6 or 7 PIGS out for an afternoon stroll…all different sizes and colors.  I got right up behind them and they just strutted along as if they owned the road, not caring that I was behind them.  I tooted my horn and they got flustered and trotted off willy-nilly, some to the right and some to the left.   I must say in all my years of driving that is the oddest thing I have ever seen!     Can anyone top that?



One of the first things I needed to learn after moving out to the country was how to shoot a gun.  My husband decided that I needed something light and easy to use so he got me a 410 over/under shotgun.  For you city girls, that is a shotgun that shoots little bullets out the top of the gun and big shells out the bottom.  I don’t like shooting the big shells cause the noise hurts my ears and the “kick” of the gun hurts my shoulder but I kinda get a charge out of shooting with the little bullets.

My first encounter with a wild creature took place in our barn.  I heard our dogs making a commotion in the barn one day after we had gotten our first baby chicks and I ran and got the gun and went to see what the fuss was all about.  There up in the rafters was a huge porcupine.   Porcupines eat chicks, don’t they?  So I took aim, squeezed the trigger and fired.  Down it came.  Unfortunately, I hadn’t killed it and so I had to reload and walk over to it and shoot it in the head.  Now, this gave me no pleasure but I didn’t know what else to do.  But now I had a dead porcupine in my barn and two dogs that were bound and determined to get into it so I dragged a piece of plywood over to it and put it on top of it. Now my dogs and chicks would be safe.  I must admit I was rather proud of myself.  My family started calling me Robyn Oakley.  A rural legend was born……

My next call of the wild came that winter.  Mid-January, freezing cold out. All of a sudden I hear this “whirring” noise right above my curio cabinet in our dining area.  Sounded like a woodpecker was pecking at our roof.  I had seen the damage the peckers can do to wood so I was sure this pecker was going to put a hole in the roof so I got all bundled up and took my trusty gun and went outside for a looky-see.   Hmmmmm, can’t see anything on the roof but just in case, I fired a shot over the roof and stepped back to see if anything flew away and fell face first into a huge snowdrift.  My daughter who was watching from the window said I looked like a big X laying there.  Snow was in every nook and cranny I had.  But at least I had done my duty and my husband would be so proud.  Later that evening I was regaling him with my tale of heroism when all of a sudden the sound was back.  Did woodpeckers peck at night?  And in that same darn spot.  Well, my husband began to laugh and laugh and showed me my “woodpecker”… was his pager that was set on “vibrate” going off on top of our wooden cabinet! Another legend was born that night.

My latest kills have been those pesky red squirrels.  We have a grand birdfeeder that my hubby made right under a set of windows in our great room and the red squirrels like to make themselves at home in it and eat the birdfeed.  Normally, my philosophy is “Live and let live” but I had just seen a show on TV about squirrels and how if they get in to your walls or attic you are in for a heap of trouble.  So out comes the gun.  But how to kill them without having to go outside and walk around the house.  Being the creative genius I am, I thought why not open up the window and put the gun barrel out and rest it on the feeder and shoot them that way.  Well, danged if it don’t work slick!  They come right up to the gun and I fire and problem solved.  Except for the fact that shooting them at close range like that is messy and they fall to the deck and I am too chicken to go and clean up the mess….ew… my poor husband has to do it.  But I think he is so impressed at my ingenuity that he doesn’t mind.  The legend continues……..



Awhile ago I wrote about a woman I know who is slowly fading away from the woman she used to be.  Her life journey will now be taking another turn as she will be entering a care facility.  Her life of “endless possibilities” has shrunk to one room and a bath.  Her future includes being fed and wearing adult diapers.  And still she smiles and laughs and dances funny little jigs.  Tears sting my eyes as I write this and my heart aches with pain for this courageous woman.  We went out today.  Nice long drive up the North Shore. Hamburgers at our favorite fast food place, now eaten in the car instead of going in as all the distractions make eating more difficult for her.  A stop in a greenhouse where she longingly caresses a pair of purple gardening gloves eventho she has multiple pairs at home.  Gardening was a passion of hers now reduced to pulling grass around that which others have planted.   A trip into a department store includes countless reminders that she needs to put back that which she just picked up to take.  At the checkout, she takes our bag and then tries repeatedly to take the pad that is on the counter for scanning purposes  as the young clerk looks on with an air of impatience.  Oh how I wish I could shield her from all the odd looks she gets when her behavior is not that of a “normal” person.  I want to scream out that she was once brilliant and beautiful and talented and successful.  That her behaviors are not who she  IS.  That she is a superhero disguised in a broken body.  My Super Hero.  My teacher.  My inspiration.  My friend.   Back home she busies herself with her “work” (moving little piles of old photos, ads, subscription card inserts, pieces of papers from one spot to another) hoping for a chance to be helpful.  I notice she has a small purse, worn across her body  and as she sits beside me I reflect on how that small, empty purse is a symbol of her life now.  I’m sure she must have had many a purse, filled with all those important things we women can’t leave home without: keys, cell phone, make-up, day planner, wallet, brush, etc.  Everything that an independent person would need.  And now she wears a worn, little bag filled with nothingness.  And still she smiles and laughs and dances funny little jigs….