Saturday, July 20, 2013

Leslie Sansone's Walk Slim System

Leslie Sansone’s Walk Slim System is one of her more challenging sets. It is also one of her earlier ones.  As a result, there are some problems with the cues given for when to change and such.  Over all, I can't say that this is my favorite set of her various walking dvds.  But let me go through each one at a time so you'll have a better idea why I feel the way I do about these workouts.  Also, bear in mind that I'm writing from the perspective of someone with a balance disorder so what may be challenging for me may be super easy for you.  Hopefully so, anyway.  
First there is the Fast Firming dvd.  This one is all about using the “Firm Band” that comes with the set.  You will work the chest, back, arms, legs, etc.  In less than 30 minutes you get a full body workout.  This is good for beginners and the bands can easily be adjusted to create more or less tension.  Warning:  I once broke a band trying to get enough tension.  If you think the band that comes with this set is too loose, you may want to invest in a set of bands that includes stronger ones, ones that give you more tension.  I was expecting this to be more like her other dvds that use the band where it is incorporated into the walk itself but this is not a strength/cardio combo.  This one has Leslie on her own.


The second dvd includes two separate dvds--Fast Start and 3 Fast Miles.  The Fast Start is a two mile walk with 3 interval boosts.  In other words, put on your trainers because you're going to be jogging.  Of course, you can choose to just keep walking, leave the workout low-impact.  It is doable. In fact, for me there was a move in the boosted walk that was more than my balance could handle.  So I skipped the "leg swings" altogether.  There's also a big, burly man in this workout.  His name is Jim and Leslie and he have a lot of fun.  It is not at all mean-spirited, just friendly.

The 3 Fast Miles dvd is baffling to me.  At one point Leslie Sansone has one of her walkers, a woman who also teaches at Sansone's studio, take over and lead the walk for her.  But the woman is has no microphone so you can't hear anything she is saying.  You have to really watch and try to follow along as best you can.  Clear instructions are crucial for avoiding injury and I can't even begin to express my disappointment.  I expect better from Sansone's production company and this dvd is simply so far below standards that, had this been the first dvd I had tried, I may never have tried another.  As it is, I'll likely only include it in my exercise rotation when I am especially bored of every other exercise dvd I own.  Shame shame shame on them for not doing better.

The third dvd, Fast & Firm 4 Really “BIG” Miles  is Leslie with her people. It’s a four mile walk although the package says it’s a fast start with 3 fast miles.  I tried to see if there was warm-up separate from the other mile and there isn’t so unless you do the first mile, there is no warm-up.  The concluding stretch, however, is separated.  So the menu is a bit deceiving in its breaking up the four miles and stretch.  I just went ahead and did all four miles.  This one incorporates the band (in the fourth mile) and introduces boosts (in the second and third miles).  I found this dvd to be a little uncomfortable for highly subjective reasons.  At one point the camera person does a close-up on one of the walker’s crotches and just lingers.  I found this odd and wondered why they didn’t choose to edit this highly peculiar camera shot.  I also found myself not enjoying how Leslie Sansone was picking on one of the walkers, Steve.  I realize that they are all like family and it was not unlike listening in on how close relatives will mock and pick on one another.  But in a dvd where you don’t really know the people, it was strange and I didn’t like it.  However, I loved the stretch at the end.  One of the better ones she does.  The running time is 56 minutes.

Last but not least is Walk Slim: 4 Fast Miles! and they aren’t kidding.  In 50 minutes you’ll do a warm up and cool down and, thanks to five different sets of “boosts” you’ll work through four miles in under an hour.  You won’t need the band for this walk but be sure to wear shoes.  Of course, Leslie Sansone reminds the viewer that you don’t have to jog in place.  You can keep everything low impact.  Nonetheless, the pace is very fast.  I was unable to do the leg swings because it required more balance than I had the day I used this dvd for the first time.  I just kept jogging in place and didn’t feel I was missing out on the intensity.  And there is always someone showing a low impact version so no need to job if you prefer to walk.  The best thing about this one:  there’s an option to do the dvd “Music Only” so if you want to do your own thing without following along but you want to ensure that you get in a good cardio workout, you can turn on the dvd in “music only” mode and walk however you choose.  I think that’s great.

Overall,  these are good dvds but I don’t love them.  I would love to see Sansone’s company repackage her older workouts in a more technologically savvy way.  With options to create menus and such, there’s no reason a menu couldn’t be created with a separate warm-up and cool-down.  Then there could be single miles added, some fast with boosts, others less intense, some using the band, or not.  The user could then create the perfect workout, beginning with a warm-up and then as many or as few miles as wanted or needed for that day, and still end with the cool-down and then stretch at the end.  I know this can be done as I’ve seen it on other workout dvds and goodness knows Sansone has a large enough library of different walking workouts to create one really amazing dvd that makes full use of dvd menus.

However, that's not the reason that, for me, this is not the best Leslie Sansone set and I would only recommend it to someone who already has a solid walking dvd collection and really wants to add some variety.  Even then, I'd probably say just take a walk outside and skip this set altogether while you wait for Sansone to come out with something new and certainly something better.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Another Part of the Unrevised Novel

A little over two weeks ago, I shared part of an unrevised novel.  I thought I'd go ahead and share another part of it.

Compromise
San Francisco
“You know, if I had met you before, I would have fallen in love with you.”  Brandon’s voice was quiet, a sepia photograph of sound that barely reached past his pillow.  The staff’s prediction had been mistaken.  He was degenerating faster than anticipated, straining every day to survive for one more.  The pain of his struggle evidenced in the strain of his features, the dark shadows of his eyes.  Still even now, Brandon was a handsome man; skeletal depreciation could not blur the beauty he claimed in his youth.  His dark eyes held a light, his dimples rising like lotus blossoms out of the mud of his disease ravished face, and the dense eyelashes all a testimony to how exquisite he must have been before.
“And you don’t love me now?” Michael chuckled around the words.  He leaned forward in the chair, holding Brandon’s hand in both of his own, his face resting on the pillow as if he were lying alongside him in the bed.  He always moved as physically close to Brandon as he could, knowing the man missed most the intimacy of human touch. 
“You know what I mean.”  Brandon’s fragile squeeze had grown barely perceptible, as soft as his voice.
Michael did know and kissed the parchment thin flesh of the dying man’s hand.  “I’m sorry we didn’t have more time together.”  The words were true albeit futile.  His time with anyone, especially someone with whom he shared any love, was limited, an inevitability that crushed him.  He had no hope for more than a few months or years.
With a sigh, Brandon closed his eyes.  “There’s never enough time.  Life is tragically short.” 
Michael released his gentle grip on Brandon’s hands and picked up the book lying on the bedside table.  “I’ll read to you until you fall asleep.” 
“Will you still be here when I wake up?”
“I’ll probably be gone but I promise to come back.”
Opening the book to the place marked from the previous visit’s reading, Michael began reading aloud, keeping his own voice soft, holding the book so that it hovered above them both.  If Brandon wanted to follow along, all he had to do was open his eyes.  During the first bed bound visits, this is how the two had worked their way through several books, reading alongside one another.  Now, it was Michael’s voice alone, weaving a soothing spell like a chant in the room.
The book was Brandon’s choice, an ironic or profound one, depending on a person’s perspective.  For Michael, reading a translation of The Tibetan Book of the Dead was apropos and although he never asked Brandon directly, he often wondered if his friend had made the choice for Michael’s sake or his own.  It did not matter.  The words were a comfort if only because it was something they shared.
There was a smell of decay saturating the room, the bed linens, and still Michael leaned in close to Brandon, so close that he could taste the changes in the man’s breathing before the machines picked up on anything, close enough to hear Brandon over the clicking and beeps of the technology that kept him alive.
This close, Michael could feel his way past the somatic to Brandon’s suffering beneath.  Michael wanted to embrace the pain, the struggle that was blurred through the blessing of morphine and other pharmaceutical cocktails.  These twinges of discomfort, the irresistible urge to move knowing that even a twitch would bring on more suffering than the possible relief a shift would bring.  He reached toward Brandon’s suffering not to relieve it, because there was nothing he could do to make this easier for either of them.  He immersed himself in Brandon’s being to give himself the strength he needed to stay and love this man, the resolve to let him love in return, knowing fully well that requited love would lead to death.
Had they met before, the end would have been the same, Brandon would die leaving Michael to mourn alone, and their love no less than what they shared now.  Coming to Brandon day after day hastened the end and Michael allowed his gift to facilitate what medical miracles fought to stave off.  Brandon understood and was ready to let go of life but did not surrender out of a duty to family and friends who rarely had the time to visit.
All love is doomed.  That was Michael’s experience.  His reality.  Michael knew that Brandon was condemned by his disease and he was determined to love him through this transition.  Every visit hastening the final visit and the only peace Michael knew was rooted in his knowing that Brandon’s end would be as full as love as he could make it.  And so he read on, long after Brandon was already asleep and kissing his still full lips before leaving the hospice.


Compromise 
New York
Lillith was lying on the very edge of the hospital bed, one leg twined over the legs of her lover, an arm carefully arranged around his body.  There was an intravenous tube running from his arm to three plastic bags and her body was situated to embrace while not risking any accidents.  The night before, Christian Palmer noticed her fever, anxious that she was infected with the as yet undiagnosed virus that had forced him into an extended hospital stay while they tried to cure whatever it was the was gradually eating away at his life.  Lillith reassured him that the fever was nothing, even hinted that the reason she was on fire was because she was so close to him after so many nights apart. 
At his urging she acquiesced to his desire, lowered the side of the bed and cautiously climbed in beside him on the narrow bed.  She trusted herself to wake up at some point during the night and slip away without awakening her fiancé. 
Exhausted from her vigil, she slept more soundly and later than she’d meant to but could not help sharing with him the warmth of her body.
The slide of the hospital curtain rings, drawn the night before, alarmed Lillith and she sat up alert while Christian continued to sleep beside her.  Swinging her leg to the tiled floor, she came almost face to face with Marjorie Palmer, Christan’s mother.  The older woman didn’t say a word, swerved around with a military precision, and shoved past the man who stood behind her.  Edward Palmer, smiling and blushing, followed his wife after bobbing a quick but silent hello to Lillith.
Lillith sighed, gave the still sleeping man in the bed a light kiss on his temple, before following his parents out into the hospital corridor, adjusting her clothes and muttering to herself a gratitude that she’d not slept nude as she normally would.
“You bitch.” 
Marjorie Palmer stood in the corridor of the hospital, her hands on her hips, not nearly large enough to actually block anyone but interjecting herself between the nurse’s station and the path that would lead to Christian’s room, shifting Lillith away from where her son lay ill and possibly dying.
“I’m sorry, Mrs. Palmer.  I didn’t mean to startle you by being here so early.”  Lillith hoped the other woman would believe that she had not actually been there overnight but she knew it was a feeble attempt and the anger emanating from the other woman would cut through any explanation other than what her eyes had already witnessed.
“Stay away from my son.”
“Christian’s my fiancé.”  Lillith turned a dimpled smile to the man.  “Hello, Mr. Palmer.  Erm Ed,” she corrected herself.  He had insisted she call him by his first name and it was still not a habit Lillith easily embraced. 
Marjorie pulled away from her husband, coming closer to Lillith.  “You’re the reason he’s in there.”  She thrust a finger, pointing to the room. 
Lillith looked at the door briefly, debating whether or not she should try to shove her way around Marjorie who was determined to block her progress.  Or perhaps just leave the hospital altogether.  “Marjorie, I understand how you feel.”  It was more than sympathy, as she empathically attuned to the fear that was exploding into rage.
“How dare you?  What do you know about my feelings?”
Lillith looked down at the floor, unable to explain her intuition sensing the fear that fueled Marjorie’s ire.  There were other emotions as well.  The guilt only a mother could feel in the face of powerlessness, unable to protect her son or heal him.  And that was tinged with shame for having ever liked the young woman she was now blaming.  Lillith could feel them all roiling inside as if they were her own confusion of emotions and she looked towards Edward, silently asking him with her eyes to do something.
“Marj, please,” Edward put his hands on his wife’s shoulder, mouthing a silent apology to Lillith who raised her chin just enough to acknowledge the mutual discomfort of the moment, a shared chagrin the two would someday chuckle over.
“I know you do not believe me,” the older woman’s voice was twisted tight with rage and unwept tears.  Nearly as tall as her husband, she looked directly at him.  “She’s the reason he’s in there.  She made him sick.”
One of the larger nurses moved from behind the desk and joined Edward in an attempt to pacify Marjorie.  “Please, Mrs. Palmer.  You’re disrupting the entire floor and there are other patients.”
Lillith did not have to look around her to know that there were other visitors now looking out of the patients’ rooms trying to find out what the yelling was all about.  A few doors had been closed by less curious family members to keep their loved ones from being disturbed.  She yearned to reach out and offer some comfort to Marjorie.  If they were alone, Lillith had no doubt that she could soothe the woman, saying nothing that amounted to anything yet somehow finding the perfect words.  It was an empathy that complimented her more natural gifts.
Instead, she stepped back to let Edward and the nurse steer Marjorie down the corridor, even as she continued to ask why nobody would believe her and see that Christian was dying because of “that bitch,” her voice fading away as they moved from the more central location of the nurse’s station. 
Returning to the room, Lillith found Christian awake and sitting up only slightly.  He was moving carefully because of the intravenous tube attached to his left arm and oxygen tube that was inserted in his nose.  She lifted her hand to the light switch and paused.  He smiled and nodded before closing his eyes against the light before she flicked the switch. 
This is how they both turned on the light for the other, pausing to make sure they were both ready for the change.  Christian was smiling as he blinked his eyes open.
Lillith did not need to look at the chart at the end of his bed to know that the doctors, with their various tests and studies, could not find a cause for Christian’s illness.  No test would give them the answers that they needed to cure him.  Lillith knew there was only one cure for her fiancé.
Unfortunately, she was not yet ready to make the necessary sacrifice. 
She pulled the curtain back around the bed.  This was a private room at Lillith’s insistence.  She went to the bedside table to rearrange the bouquet of American Beauty roses she’d brought to the room the night before.  “I should change the water.”
Instead, Lillith climbed up onto the bed beside him, knowing that Marjorie would have preferred she sit in the chair like any other guest.  The hunger she felt to be close to Christian made any distance between them unbearable.  “I didn’t mean to wake you.”
“It wasn’t you.  I heard my mother yelling.”
Lillith sighed and pressed her lips against his forehead, which felt cool and damp.  “She’s upset.”
“She’s calling you a bitch and you’re saying she’s upset.”  The look of appreciation and admiration on his face was endearing, an expression that would make any woman fall in love even more than Lillith already had.  Christian’s transparent adoration was infectious.
“She’s more scared than angry.”
He lifted Lillith’s left hand to his lips, kissed her palm.  “You’re burning up.”  With his thumb, he rubbed the ring he’d given her months earlier. 
Back then, Marjorie had been thrilled her bachelor son had finally met a woman he could love enough to propose; she was charmed by Lillith at first.  Conflict grew over time but Christian’s parents lived in Maine and rarely came to the city except for the occasional visit.  And it was on these visits that the tension in Marjorie grew.
Lillith knew that the resentment Marjorie experienced on these visits was complicated by a vague jealousy.  From her past experience, Lillith knew that Marjorie displaced the jealousy and assumed it was about her being displaced from Christian’s life.  The first time Lillith faced this complication of emotions from a lover’s mother, she accepted the simple Oedipal explanation although over time she came to realize that the jealousy was directed at her as much as it was over her. 
These mother’s, unaware of Lillith’s true nature, were attracted to her.  The mother’s experienced the same charismatic magnetism as their child and the shame was interpreted through a safer understanding.  After all, how could Marjorie, or any of these other women, explain the desire they were feeling towards Lillith? 
In the echo of her sympathy, she knew what underlay the anger of the mothers.  And because she understood why they grew to hate her, Lillith found it impossible to reciprocate. 
 “I miss you so much.”  Christian’s voice broke through her reverie.
“I know.  I miss you too.”  Christian’s hand felt feverish in spite of the heat of her flesh.  Lillith recognized her own hunger empathetically manifesting in the flesh of her lover.  “I should go, let you rest.”
“Stay.”
“No.”  The desperation in her voice was not rooted in her desire to be away from him but the hunger that was consuming them both.  Afraid of Christian’s physical weakness she pulled away.  “I’ll try to come back later, before visiting hours are over.”
“Promise?”  In spite of his weakness, he gripped her hand like a vice.
“I’ll do what I can.”
It’s too soon, she thought.  Not ready to let what they shared go, Lillith lay down beside him, careful not to disturb him too much.  Christian maintained his hold on her until his fever made it impossible for him to stay awake. 
Lillith was gone when a nurse later came to the room to change the IV bag, she returned the lowered bed rail to its raised position and covered the patient who continued to sleep, his breath labored but steady.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Weight Watchers Didn't Work For You? Me Neither.

I read some research ages ago about how men and women respond differently when a diet fails.  While men will simply say that some weight-loss supplement or dietary change didn’t work women will qualify by saying “It didn’t work for me.” 

That “for me” is significant because there is a sub-text, a self-blaming.  Intellectually we understand that everyone is different, that our bodies respond differently to different things.  My friend Kanika cannot take ibuprofen because it upsets her stomach.  I take most medications and become sleepy.  One person’s daily dose is another person’s overdose. 

We are all of us different.  But women blame themselves, for not being good enough, for not following the diet carefully, for not losing the weight.  It didn’t work.  Period.  End of story.  Which is why I am writing this blog post about why I think Weight Watchers didn’t work for me because I know I am not the only one who found it didn’t work.   Sure, the research proves that Weight Watchers is the most effective way for people to lose weight.  Statistically it works.  The body is not a statistic.  Here is my Weight Watchers story.

When I joined Weight Watchers, I was beginning physical therapy.  I went from being about 90% sedentary to 50% active.  I was exercising and every week Rob would drive me to the meetings.  At the time there were two programs:  the points program and the core program.  I tried both in the six months I was a member.  I kept a food diary, tracked my progress (or lack thereof) online and off. 

My diet didn’t change really.  At the most, I had to eat more which meant my forcing myself to eat when I was not hungry.  This didn’t make sense but with the point system I had a daily requirement, a goal for how much I needed to eat on any given day and I was determined to do this thing right.  So, at the end of the day, Rob would sometimes remind me to check my points.  I would and we’d try to figure out what I needed to force myself to eat this time.  A snack, a protein, a piece of fruit. 

Recommendations at the meetings were not always the healthiest choice.  Processed and prepackaged foods would be mentioned time and time again.  So easy.  So convenient.  Just pop it in the microwave and you’re done.  No mention of the calories one can burn cooking from scratch. No comments about how chemicals are not as nutritious as organic.  Coupons for the latest 100 calorie snack, granola bar, frozen meal, jarred or canned something or other. All of these would be touted.  So when I would step in with my recommending something as insane as cooking from scratch, people would dismiss me for complicating things.  Never mind that we were there to share our ideas of how to live a healthy lifestyle because, don’t you know the local fast food place is introducing something new and it’s only 5 points? 

In spite of my being more active, I never lost any weight.  Week after week, I would go into the meetings and weigh myself.  No change.  Week after week I would clap as others lost 1, 2, or 3 pounds.  I would clap as someone earned the first 5 lbs lost key chain and then the first 10 lbs lost charm.  Or maybe you got a charm sooner.  I wouldn’t know.  I never even got a bloody keychain.  And yes, it was discouraging.  I was eating more than was comfortable for me, forcing myself to ignore my natural appetite so I could consume enough points.  I was exercising more than I had been in months.  And still I didn’t lose weight. 

Six months of this and I didn’t beat myself up, although I was disappointed.  I recognized that many of the people who were new to the program were not eating well to begin with.  For them, eating only so many points a day actually resulted in their eating less per day rather than more.  And if they were eating processed foods, it wasn’t necessarily unusual.  Stopping off at the fast food place and choosing the new 5 point offering was better than what they would have ordered before joining Weight Watchers.  And those who never found time to exercise would be encouraged to exercise because they earned points for doing so and more points meant eating more food. 

For someone like me, someone eager to exercise because I wanted to be free from using my walker, for someone like me who preferred to meals cooked from scratch, for someone like me who only ate fast food once a month on average, the Weight Watcher’s diet didn’t improve my life or my lifestyle.  And it taught me to not listen to my body.  Hungry or not, I had to hit those points. 

So it makes sense that it didn’t work for me.  And maybe there are others who don’t understand why it doesn’t work for them.  Who gave it all a fair shake and counted their points, measured their portions, and still didn’t lose any weight.  Six months and not even one pound?  My body and Weight Watchers?  Not a good fit.  And that’s okay.  Not my fault.  Not the fault of the program.

 If one thing worked for everybody, for every body, then there would only be one diet program out there, one exercise program, one solution.   So no blame.  Just an objective attempt to make sense of why and then moving on to the next hope, the next expectation, and maybe to that one pound finally lost. 


The success is not merely in the losing.  It is in the determination to lose and do what can work, what should work, and not blaming yourself if this one thing didn’t quite work after all.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Vertigo Verses: The Next Five Poems

A couple of weeks ago I shared the first five pieces from a chapbook I created for Robert Brewer's Poem-a-Day challenge.  Here are the next five poems.  Enjoy!

Bed Ridden

Tossing, turning she whimpers and moans through sleep
As I try to cradle her in stillness, holding my ground while she
Misperceives the floating feeling of endlessly falling from me.

Within these four corners I lay myself and there I keep
A vigilant embrace, holding and folding close enough
And still she jerks awake, her world become too rough.

Lifting her from a world that doesn’t shift, I let her grip
Holding onto the only things solid in her life, the slip
Of her world from solid to this endless, boundless trip.



Rhetorical Questions

What if I never get behind the wheel of a car
never have the freedom of the open road
and just stay here, not sure if I can
but never knowing I cannot.

What if the doctors and specialists are wrong
and it’s something else the multiple tests
failed to see that’s slowly, steadily
killing off essential parts of me.

What if Rob gets fed up with my many fears
drops my hand and won’t hold me anymore
when I feel like I’m forever falling
although everything is still solid.

What if my children are likewise damned
bound to get up unable to walk a straight line
genetically doomed to fall apart
just like their faltering mother.

What if this really is all in my head instead
and I’m just making it up as I go along
unaware that all I need to do
is pinch myself to wake up.

What if there is no waking up
and every day I spiral forever deeper into
a new circle of the hellacious dream
that will never release me.

What if there is a cure out there
not yet realized and I am forced to take
responsibility for myself
and my freedom.

What if the only cure is death
and I wake up too tired
not wanting to fight anymore
willing to die for my freedom.


Leaning

Betrayed by my body,
I am fragiled into leaning upon against
The strength of my children.

Years into decades of praying
To see them grown from
Girl to woman, boys to men.

Is this not the desire of every mother
To see her children capable and able
To stand on their own two feet?

The weight of my need as I lean
Does not cause them to stumble
And all I can say to them is

thank you.




Around the Water Cooler

Did you see her? The way she walked into the corner of the desk?
I hear she’s been drinking and during working hours no less.
Hard not to believe it, the way she stands as she hands off a folder.

I heard her say to someone else how she has this condition but
if you ask me it’s all a bit convenient, how she has to call in sick; although
I heard she has a doctor’s note, which can be forged and I still think she’s faking it.

I mean, give me a break. Who ever heard of someone being too dizzy
To sit at a desk all day? It’s so ridiculous. If you ask me, she’s full of shit.
Here I am having to cover her ass while she goes in for another test.

You know, I heard about somebody famous who said he had it too
But you know I read online and saw some Hollywood report where they said
He was wasted, not sick, which is what I think it is, really, with her so why should I
Buy into her story when we all know how much nicer it would be to stay home
All alone with nobody to tell you what you can do? I wish I were her, able to lie about
Some incurable condition that makes it necessary for me to be home all day.
Living off disability must be nice. She’s so fucking lucky, I wish I were her.




just words

“love is just another four letter word”
you roll away from me on the bed
I kiss the tattoo on your back while
you sleep too deep to be reached

in the morning you curl into me
I have to pull myself away
crawl across the light to escape
dreams left like roses on my pillow

the morning afterglow knows
there are never enough nights
to belie the truth of four letters
that fill the days we spend apart

words with you grow like fate,
faith, belief, promise, strength,
tomorrow, and tomorrow and
it all comes back to I do and yes.


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Fights, Family and Farewell to Facebook Forever

I started the week by deleting my facebook account yet again and for the final time.  I knew why I deleted my account the first time but having friends and family ask me if I saw something on facebook and Rob’s saying, “You should look at so-and-so’s facebook.”  Photos of people I love that can only be seen on facebook.  Stories that people write on facebook and don’t have time to email to anyone.  It’s so easy. 

And so complicated.  I hate so much of what I see on facebook.  I see someone complaining about something day after day and when that something changes they say nothing.  Or I share good news and happy posts but the moment I share one venting rant about not losing weight people who never commented before eagerly leave well-meaning advice.

I understand the rationale.  Where there is frustration, pain, anger, it is natural to want to come in and clean up what seems messy.  But I honestly think everyone who creates a facebook account should be forced to learn something about  B F Skinner and the idea behind positive and negative reinforcement.  Why do we make more effort to lick wounds when we could be spending more time dancing for joy?

And so it was enough is enough for me and I deleted the account for what I know will be the final time.  I begrudgingly recreated my account.  At least once a month, I’d bitch to poor Rob about something hateful or stupid or even vicious I would see there.  So we have an understanding.  No showing me something on facebook or telling me I should check out what someone else shared on facebook.  If it’s important enough for me to see, he can email it to me or maybe even share it with me on google+ but I’m done with facebook forever.

12 July 2013 ~ Met Rob's family including his Aunt Trish, his cousin Jennifer and her husband Keith, his cousin Loralynn and her son Gray.  My face looks weird in this photo.
My face looks distorted.
Aunt Trish, Rob, and me in front.
Cousin Jennifer, Keith, Cousin Loralynn and Gray in back.
On Thursday, Rob and I had brunch with some of his large family.  His aunt Trish and her daughter Loralynn and her son Gray.  We were also joined by Rob’s cousin Jennifer and her husband Keith.  We had a lovely breakfast, talking about so many different things.  About Rob’s uncle retiring from the funeral business.  About Loralynn’s daughter singing in a choir in Washington DC.  About another cousin’s daughter taking accelerated courses so that she’ll graduate from high school with an associate’s degree.  About Rob planning a trip to Kentucky soon.  About our niece Isabelle and the gifts we have already bought for her for her birthday in August. 

I think I even managed not to offend anyone because they all gave hugs when we left.  On the ride home, Rob told me a little more about his aunt and uncle.  How the uncle stepped in and was like a father figure after Rob’s parents were divorced.  And he got tears in his eyes, remembering how much Trish and Sonny meant mean to him.  He even told me a lovely story about Loralynn.  They were riding a bike and hit a bump, were both thrown from the bike.  Rob was barely scratched up but she had a cut that was bleeding.  Yet, she was more concerned about how they would get the bike back so she could return it.  I guess it was borrowed but that wasn’t the point of the story.  The point for Rob was that she was more concerned with a replaceable object than she was with a bleeding laceration on her scalp.

So much love in Rob that it welled up as he shared these stories about his family.  Family is so very important to him and I forget that sometimes. I wish I knew how to impress this upon my children, how important they are to him.  All they have to do is try to listen, to see.

On Friday Rob and I took Snowdoll to the dog park.  When we arrived, there were no other dogs there but Snowdoll enjoys all the new smells and the big space to run around.  Soon a man showed up with two large dogs and one small yorkie.  Shortly thereafter, two women arrived with two more big dogs.  Perfect!  The man threw a ball for one of his dogs, a golden setter.  She chased the ball and came bounding back with it, immediately settling down at his feet, ignoring everyone because she had her ball.

I was sitting down because I was taking advantage of the time at the park to call my mother and update her on things.  As I hung up, I overheard one of the women laughing about something, and I heard her say, “Oh my god, my dog does the same thing.  That’s why I don’t bring her to the park.”  Later, Rob explained to me that the setter is territorial about balls, that she growled because one of the other dogs came too close.  Which is why this woman doesn’t bring this particular dog with her.  She leaves the dog home because it gets aggressive when it has control of a ball.

Most of the dogs were dashing around.  One in particular came to me and Snowdoll came over as well, showing signs of having had enough.  We had been there for over 40 minutes and it is summer hot so it’s no wonder she was ready to go home.

Another man with a large dog.  Rob decided we should leave because this guy said his dog plays rough but, it’s okay, because he has a shock collar on the dog.  Really?  How safe do you think we were feeling at this point?  Not very.  And seriously, why would anyone bring a dog so aggressive it needs a shock collar to an off leash dog park?  Why?

So we got ready to leave.  We said, “Okay, Snowdoll.  Let’s go.”  She knows what this means and started trotting over to where the gate is, just slightly ahead of Rob who was likewise slightly ahead of me.  And that is when the setter dropped the ball and pounced on Snowdoll who immediately threw herself onto her back while aggressively protecting herself.  Rob shouted out, “Get your damn dog off my dog,” as he ran to catch up.  Not precisely the most gracious way to handle things but, given how Snowdoll was just attacked by that stupid brown dog last weekend . . .

He did apologize.  He explained that Snowdoll had been attacked three times recently and he didn’t mean to over-react.  He apologized again as we were walking away from the fenced in area reserved for dogs. 

So is Snowdoll putting off an “attack me” vibe or something?  I don’t know.  But I’m bloody tired of dogs attacking her.  She remains unharmed (except for a few weeks ago when that little brown dog hurt her ear).  More importantly, she remains a friendly dog, eager for play and fun.  How many more times she can be attacked before that changes, I do not know.  I can only say that four random attacks is clearly not enough.

species photo
Black Rat Snake
Image found here.
Speaking of attacks, Rob had an encounter of his own in our back yard.  He saw a black rat snake, somewhere between 4 and 5 feet long.  He was anxious that Snowdoll would find it and want to play with it so he went to get a rake to sort of nudge it away.  When he nudged it, however, the snake merely lifted its head and looked at him, as if to say, “What?  I’m lying here.”  So Rob did what anyone would do—he threw the rake at it.


Okay.  That is not what anyone would do.  That is what anyone in a horror movie would do—throw away their only weapon when confronting a danger.  In this case it worked; the snake slithered off.  But when the zombie apocalypse comes, one of us is going to survive, and it ain’t gonna be Rob.