Category Archives: Health
At least I used to joke that I did. Until by mistake it really happened.
I recently ordered on eBay an “open box” of eyeball moisture drops — the disposable kind. Not only was the box open, every single vial was, and empty. So I kind of bought someone’s recycling. Otherwise known as garbage.
In Maine, a getaway state for Vermont’s Upper Valley, a sign says as you cross the border, “Welcome to MAINE. The Way Life Should Be.” Which is only true if you’re vacationing there. Because if you live there, Maine is pretty much life as usual. Meaning: generous servings of aggravation, taxes, family ordeals, automotive hassles, and work. Lots of work.
Also lots of hosting because if you live in a vacation state like Vermont or Maine, your friends and fam want their vacation…at your house. And really, since when is vacation “the way life should be?” It’s supposed to be just a lot of reading, recreating, sleeping, gabbing, rampant spending, and overeating? Isn’t that what vacation’s for? But I digress.
I took a vacation recently and, due to the burdensome stressors of Modern Tymes, I overanalyzed the hell out of the vacation nearly to the point of its ruination. You know, catastrophizing and messing with time, from the moment of walking in the door thinking, “Only 5 nights left!”; then, “Ugh, down to 4 nights,”; “Oh no, 3 nights, it’s dwindling!!” Et cetera. Bringing so many provisions to save on dining-out costs that it takes an hour to load and unload the car. Not really that relaxing.
Once someone told me anything shorter than a 2-week vacation is a waste because it takes the first week to unravel. But this was 30 years ago when employers could offer free dental, eyeglasses, and ample time off. Who can take two weeks off now, when precious vacation days are used moving, moving people you know, or recovering from moving and moving people you know?
With pressing thoughts of work so debilitating it occurred to me more than once to just drive home and deal with the work issues instead of spending a bankload in paradise to worry about them without being able to solve them, I often wasn’t in paradise at all. But it was unrefundable and I wasn’t insane. So I stayed and endeavored to stifle thoughts about work, global warming, contagion, invasive species, vanishing species, and the shifting, buckling tectonic and oceanic plates that will cause much of the west coast to crumble into oatmeal before it’s hit with a debris-filled tsunami of epic proportions. I tried not think about these things. Fishing helped.
Many Vermonters do the stay-cation in our short summer. Why go anywhere else, they ask? Because it’s not much of a vacation when you’re running into your neighbor who for the thousandth time lets his dog way too close to the family jewels. I want a change of scenery, a change of neighbors, a menu or at least a grill whose knobs I’m unfamiliar with. I want newness. Newness keeps one’s mind occupied from thoughts of global contagion.
So does sleeping on a lake in the woods. For 13 years I’ve lived in areas rather noisy by Vermont standards. When you are exploring uncharted regions, marinating in newness and hearing no noise at night, you can unravel enough for your mind to enter new territory. It can go forward in time, where you imagine the future – of you, your peeps, or your planet. We mostly went back in time, discussing our childhoods and childhood vacations. Back then vacation was all taken care of for us so we simply benefitted, sure, but it was different in other ways, too. In the 60s and 70s, average families could not only afford a house on one salary, but also a modest lake- or sea-side cabin – and time to actually go to the place.
I shan’t candycoat those trips, now comical, wherein multiple flat tires and bursting radiators caused the parents to nuke and the dog situated in the middle of the back seat (or “way back” of the Country Squire) was tortured by your brother, your indignant outcries ignored or ridiculed by bickering parents in a roasting, A/C-less, metal prison clouded by mom’s burning Kents. But the destination was ever worth the journey. Frolicking in the woods. Spinning in inner tubes with the nozzle jabbing your thigh, your cousins’ reckless antics unmonitored by drinking adults out of earshot. Skinnydipping with your aunt under the stars. Burgers and dogs. Great freedoms, great times.
We were lucky to have been young then. And you can be lucky now. By going on a real va-cation when prices plummet. Go. Ignore global threats, eat, rest, float your body in the now-warm water. Bask in nature and pleasant childhood memories. The cosmic soup demands your happiness. Do it. With love. Good day.
Provocative Autofill of the Month:
When Why does your bladder…is entered in the search box, Google autofills with:
- Have to be full for a sonogram
Send ideas to email@example.com. Twitter handle: @uvgvt. … ann.aikens.7 on Facebook.
Geez, if only mankind would stop picking the low-hanging fruit and kicking the can down the road in granular, bricks-and-clicks efforts at synergetic pushback 24/365, just think how far we’d have gotten by now!
If you don’t work in a a corporate environment, you won’t find that to be annoying, or even English. You may have been mercifully unexposed to unintelligibly strung-together words that sound important yet have no meaning.
But if you do, and haven’t, the sites below will transfix you…or should I say, their robust, outcomes-based, multi-tiered platforms will integrate your scalable branding:
Here click on MORE BS, PLEASE! for a fresh batch of lifelike BS.
On this gem hit MAKE BS and watch it pull from three Parts of Speech columns.
This is pretty, but will make you insane.
A Brit one offers “A random piece of business bullshit every time you visit this site.” You can even submit!
Happily, some people make corporate jargon Bingo cards before meetings and see who gets Bingo first based upon hearing their words in the meeting. Not sure what the prize is. The last link offers a delicious twist that makes me wish I still attended such meetings. Click Bingo tab at top.
With last week’s cosmic Soopermoon and unexpected low humidity, Vermonters were feeling their oats—a horsey expression referring to “hot” feeds such as oats that provide extra equine energy. Carbo-loading for ponies.
We’ve been flat-out frolicking. As we bike, swim, and tool about our gorgeous state via horse, cycle, and golf cart, we inhale gnats and drink in the astounding natural beauty of the Land. No matter our troubles, her scenic landscape’s backdrop to our drama grows, flows, and enchants mightily. The Creatures of the Land also sparkle. Musicians strum, hummingbirds hum, and stories fill out ears with delight. Campfires! Charades! Laffs!
Deliriously happy, we pack on summer blubber by way of chips and macaroni salads (hot feeds), with dripping cones, toasted marshmallows and extra mayo all around. Chomping chewing gum with the ferocity of a jungle cat, I wear a bikini as a disturbing incentive to avoid the snack bar lakeside. Unsightly, but y’all don’t look that slender, either. As a friend’s father happily observed, “There are no Beautiful People at Silver Lake.” It’s Vermont. We just don’t care.
With little rain, the long and sunny days demand movement. Soopermovement. Early we rise, to tend gardens and hit balls, knowing that pacing oneself now is not an option. For soon the air will grow cold, leaves will float down the brooks, and the Tunbridge World’s Fair will be upon us. Is this year’s theme The Year of the Insect?? Giant horseflies take meaty chunks from us daily. I hope they are having a good time.
The tourists are. As they cram our roads with Corvette Clubs, motorcycle brigades, and kayak-lidded vehicles, they stuff our coffers with (hopefully) enough wampum to get us through what friend Sassy calls “the dark months.” While we lament oftentimes the physical and financial hardships of Vermont, visitors envy our visual bounty from the windows of inns and restaurants. Let us see, as they do, that the grass is in fact greener here. There’s a heck of a lot more of it.
With all our rivers, woods, and contradancing, we get physical without pricey gym memberships. Fishing and tennis are almost no-cost, and you can’t live here without knowing someone with a canoe or bike to borrow. We get our ya-ya’s out for next to nothing. People everywhere need to get their ya-ya’s out because life in Modern Tymes is vexing. Tech nuisances drive us batty, our free time devoured by the modern bane that is overcommunication. Which disPinterested, Twitterless, Linked Out Facebidiots like me don’t do much of, yet it’s still exhausting. Many here lack—or shun—the [devil’s!] tools needed to overcommunicate, a source of ruin. Good for them. It seems to me that the more we communicate, the more we worry. More people to worry about, I guess. More worrisome details shared. Just. More. Worrying.
I told my friend Kay I was glad in some ways I have no kids, so in our “sandwich generation” years I am open-faced, with only parents to be concerned about. Her reply:
“One thing better about parenting elders than parenting kids is that people are not competitive about their aging parents. Imagine if they were. ‘My mother got into Green Mountain Golden Years Assisted Living. It was her reach facility, but she got in! Her safeties were Maple Heritage and Mellow Manor Northeast Kingdom.’ ‘Well, my mother was sent to prison and it’s not costing me a dime. Free dental!” We could brag about who has lasted the longest without a walker. That would be like lettering in track. Blood test results as SAT scores…’My dad’s combined LDL and HDL were under 250!’ ‘Wow, you must be so proud. I’m going to make my dad take it again. Surely he can improve over last time.’ I feel a Roz Chast cartoon coming on… ”
A toast to Green Mountain splendour, hay-makers, canoe-loaners, tech-shunners, shenaniganers, parenters, summer fatties, and sooperfriends who supply laffs. Thank you all. Good day.
My neighbor Rebecca, a no-nonsense Iron Woman tuffie, once emerged from her apartment with cuts and bruises like she’d lost a round with a threshing machine. No, she said, it was the Death Race. She’d been asleep for two days.
One of Vermont’s crazier offerings, the upcoming Death Race is a twisted, punishing exercise in x-treme sport nutterness. For one thing, particpants are not told until the last minute when it will actually begin. Articles detailing it appear here and here. Its competitors mystify regular folk; they also entertain. Thank you, nutters.
I say: know when to give up. Also: barbed wire is not your friend. Good luck!
A normally wry friend recently told me how his ex had pointed out his faults on her way out the door. This had made him especially dejected. I asked, “What faults?” and he explained. “You know, the disorganization, the forgetfulness, the keen desire to have my picture taken with political celebrities. . . .” I replied, “Those aren’t faults. Those are endearing traits, charming to those who love you.”
It’s been said that what attracts you to someone is what later drives you nuts. Likewise, qualities you have that delighted someone can devolve into vile faults demanding extirpation. But it’s a puzzle when someone who is leaving you feels obligated to express exactly why you’re not good enough. Why do that? Isn’t it bad enough they’re abandoning you? I once received a 13-page Dear Jane letter, detailing all I had done wrong. I see, I thought. Yes, it’s clear now. Thanks so much.
What became clear? My shortcomings? No. That the devil is alive and well. He enters people and makes them romance you, leave you, and tell you how you failed. The devil was in the details: in this case elaborately illustrated criticisms. The devil also invented call waiting, data mining, and other vexing details of modern life designed to make us willing to swap with him our souls, for just a few moments of blessed peace.
He also recruits Litterbugs. When I’m behind someone that throws a cigarette or Big Gulp out a car window, I become possessed. I honk, flash my lights, and make impolite gestures. I know this is wrong, and both Litterbug and I could rightfully say (nod to Flip Wilson), “The devil made me do it.”
Discussing this in church, a wry southern friend says with vehemence, “I want to know. What does a litterbug look like?” I know precisely what they look like but the words I’d use to describe one cannot be said in church. We work ourselves into a lather over it. Then, pews away, I hear a Vermonter of many years (90+?) say to her companion, “It always takes me by surprise, spring. It’s such a lovely transformation, especially after a hard winter.” That this woman could still be awed by how our area is like a different planet in spring, after nearly 100 of them, drives the devil right out of me.
I give a wry friend a candy bar named Chocolate Interlude which she promptly renames Chocolate Intervention. Then I think how in these blasted modern tymes how they add an “e” to things (e-billing, e-commerce) and how we can add our own e’s for the heck of it, to our e-underwear and our e-moxy and our e-breath. And how a wry Vermont friend said in Connecticut, “They call these pot holes?” And how nude season is nigh, and the mighty Goliath of mud has been subjugated by gravity and slender blades of grass, and nothing but nothing smells like flowering trees.
Then I attend, despite this column’s deadline, the local Legislative Breakfast. Our state senators and representatives articulatewith intelligence and fairness issues that are ridiculously complex, e.g., the GMO labeling bill just passed—and how VT will be sued by corporations. That the Governor’s so-called “Food Fight Fund” is being established, smartly, with the help of non-Vermonters, is cheering. Someone half my age pays me a compliment. I spot a granny on a riding mower. Finally—get this—technology proves heartening. I choose truelove as a password and it is denied for being “too common.” That its selection as a password is too common says something huge about humankind.
Yes, there is plenty of hard evidence of the devil’s existence, including but not limited to black flies, BP, and the Disgraceful Home Printer Ink Scandal of Modern Tymes, wherein (pricey!) ink tanks mysteriously dry up and your (infernal!) printer won’t even scan without ink. Sometimes we choose between two devils, say, black flies and DEET. A Mainer I know says you can’t go fishing without it. I use it when the biters are so vicious I don’t care if it shuts down my brain, bladder, and kidneys, though I know DEET to be compressed devil in a can.
Some days, the devil’s around every corner, seems like. Yet somehow, with an overheard “lovely transformation” and a too-common password and grannies riding mowers and a posse of wry friends, we remain eHopeful. We soldier on. If you feel disheartened, I’ll give you part of my heart, that as yet unaffected as yet by DEET and other devilment. Good luck. Good day.
…I will be baking my first whole chicken. I don’t want to do it; it was just on sale. Which says a lot about how much I care about the Sooper Bowl.
These are all the non-dairy ingredients on hand — we’ll see what makes it in. I’m thinking: chocolatey goodness. In the cavity, you might find smoked almonds, whole frozen egg rolls, and pickles (not pictured, not kidding).
But first, we’ll do what we did last year. Gotta make hay, er, before the field becomes a lake during the thaw.
A special thank you to last year’s Detractor for pointing out that Sooper Bowl is two words.
The ReelFeel® here will be 44 below by 4 AM—bad, per AccuWeather®, for kite flying, swimming, and breathing. Not to worry…it will soar to 12 below by 8 AM, when you can resume normal activities. Like hacking away at ice formations on your car, calling in sick, and going back to bed.
Our sunny foliage season was a hit; now for the private after-show for locals. As an artist friend noted with her specialized eyeballs, late foliage affords us remnants of red and gold with the twiggy lines of trees now bald mixed in. As another put it, the leaves on the ground provide a colorfully crunchy carpet before “November’s…dirt.”
Last week’s full moon (the hunter’s moon, traveling moon, or death moon, depending upon your tribe) offered us pagans good lighting for rituals wherein we place into a (lit. or fig.) caldron our wishes for our people and this krazy planet. I put into mine: clarity, love, creativity, strength. You?
With short days, TV and radio and film become alluring alternatives to outdoor sports. If you podcast, Billy Crystal and Graham Nash crushed on Fresh Air on 10.17, as did the rerun of an April 20th Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me’s “best of” celebrity callers episode (Melinda Gates! Jeff Bridges! A surprisingly hilarious Tony Danza! The Fonz!). Colbert’s on-air wedding for a couple gypped out of their nuptials at a (closed) national monument along with Jon Stewart’s Shutstorm 2013 made the government shut-down almost worthwhile. Randolph’s revamped Playhouse Theater, a local treasure (the oldest cinema in the state), is now rocking Gravity with national treasures Bullock and Clooney.
There’s still time to squeak in a few holes at the Woodstock Inn or Montague Golf Club…fore! While the Bethel Ethels have hung up their rackets for the season, playing tennis on Bethel’s crevice-marred town courts adds an element of chance to a gentlewoman’s game for those with a taste for danger. Terrible players like me can WIN via unforeseen benevolent bounces.
Our weirdly warm foliage aside, two weather phenoms remain certain: (1) it will always be so hot on July 4th that overdressed marching band members faint—or as the boys put it, “pass out”—and (2) it will always be so cold on Halloween you cannot see the kids’ costumes. “Welcome, er, Tundra Fairy! Is that a wing poking out of your…fairy parka?”; “I see you are an Arctic Vampire, young man. Do you take your blood neat, or with iceberg cubes?” I myself hand out Snickers and warm hardboiled eggs, unsure of the effect of chemical handwarmers upon Earth’s mighty landfills.
It’s time to trade in our garden tools for musical instruments and knitting needles. Which for some reason you can take on a plane, but not a nail clipper (pretty sure I could do more damage with a saxophone). Kimball Public Library’s knitting group provides community in Randolph as do the Knitters (Knutters!) of the Round Table at the Whippletree in Woodstock. Get some laffs while banging out colorific holiday gifts.
It’s also time to eat. Which can be counteracted by memberships at VTC, killer MOVE Fitness, or at the Woodstock Inn. For fall dining, personal faves include the Harrington House, Barnard Inn, Big Fatty’s BBQ, Cockadoodle Pizza Café, and Five Olde. My gastronomic goal is both Worthy restaurants some time soon—wanna take me on a date? Ahahaha, that’s so funny. Dating: not a local treasure of the Upper Valley.
For beer I dig Burlington’s unfiltered ale, Switchback; for cocktails a nice Bloody Caesar (Bloody Mary with clam juice) using local Silo Vodka or Vermont Gold, a maple vodka. Crockpotting demands top vegetables from your farmers’ market or the Chef’s Market. And don’t put away the grill—the only time that’s no good is when it’s 20 below. Then the meat freezes on top while the bottom cooks, sort of. Don’t ask me how I know that. For dentistry: wicked old-school kindly Dr. McDonald in Woodstock. For knockout eyeglasses: Eyes on Elm; no competition for 150 miles. Pies? On the Edge Farm on Route 12. Dana wizards the fruits of the Land from apple to sour cherry.
Your monthly Useful Information is this: glucosamine makes you gassy. Your Good News for women is: there is a product for after shaving and waxing called finipil that feels like a York Peppermint Pattie; for men, the beauty industry is catering to aging male boomers with “special formulations” “just for men” (what’s in there?). Next up in the beauty aisle: eyebrow hair relaxant, for old Scottish weird curlicue eyebrow hair growers like me. I hope. Good day.