Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Zumba musings

I am, frankly, amazed with myself.

I am totally, completely, ridiculously besotted with Zumba at our quirky little YMCA in The Beav. Perhaps it's my not-so-secret obsession with "Dancing with Stars." I understand now, completely and no longer without snarky judgment, why so many celebrity dancers crack.

Do you know how freaking hard it is to master the heel-toe at a 4- and 2-count?

But, on the other hand, perhaps it's why I now love, at the age of 62, Bruno Mars ("Uptown Funk") and Pitbull (sorry, but "Fireball" is awesome. . . although, come to think of it,  I noticed recently it's been pulled from Zumba playlist. Maybe because, after watching the video, it's just slightly naughty?). Anyway. The musical mash-up of Latin, hip hop and funk is deliriously wonderful.

Perhaps it's because of the Zumba Ladies. There are veterans (ie, they mostly know most of the steps)  There are newbies (me!) -- who the veterans cluck over like a new chick: They gave my best piece of advice the first week of class:  "Don't even bother using your arms." As if it's humanly possible.

I'm still in the Limited Arm Use mode. But the ZLs assure me it will come. It will come.

Perhaps it's because Zumba Ladies work to their strengths, sometimes looking wonderfully graceful and athletic with small steps and graceful arms. And sometimes stopping in the middle of class to chat with a Zumba neighbor.

Perhaps it's because, after 8 weeks into the Zumba games, the ZLs  come up and say how amazing it is that I've caught on so quickly. That would be after a class where the ZLs and instructor were going south. . . and I was most decidedly going north-by-northwest.

And perhaps, it's those golden moments, when the Zumba Ladies tackle a new turn move, or as I like to think of it, unleash yet another Zumba zombie apocalypse of flying arms and careening middle-age bodies upon the YMCA.

And most definitely, it's the little things: At last Thursday class, one of my back-row ZL posse waved me over and pressed a 500-pound a hip scarf (okay, okay 5 pounds) into my hands. It was tricked out with 3-inch long brass torpedoes quite capable, I think, of also sinking The Lusitania. She smiled and said, "Use it. I'm in Palm Desert for the next 4 weeks."

Thank you, Zumba sister. I will. In honor of your generosity, it will get a hip-shaking, torpedo-rattling workout of epic proportions while you're gone.  And will still be smoking on your return.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Bermtopia by the Sea: The 36-Hour Edition

One of the many advantages of being retired is the ability to pick up at a moment's notice for an adventure.

Well, not exactly a moment's notice. . . finding a Ben-friendly hotel in Cannon Beach proved somewhat vexing for my date. And took a couple days. Largely because when the website of said hotel said it was pet-friendly. But wasn't. 

But that's neither here nor there. We found The Guest House Inn and took off with Ben Wednesday for an overnight at the beach, or as Ben calls it, The Place of Noisy Water.

Ben: Sweet. But I won't get my paws wet.
Although Arch Cape is our go-to coastal sweet spot, we landed in Cannon Beach because of the plethora (or so we thought) of dog-friendly hotels that will book one night with you. Of course, it helps it's February -- the lowest of the low season on the Oregon coast  -- and the middle of the week. We packed for a windy, wet overnight trip -- and were rewarded with balmy shirt-sleeve (well, long-sleeve/sweatshirt) weather. 

Fat Bastard and I are having such a time of it, figuring out these mild climes.

Upon arrival, we beat feet to Ecola Seafoods for clam chowder. My date ordered the bread bowl and promptly sent a cell phone pic to the Number Two Son. Simply to torture him.

I ordered a side of pickled herring. Simply to torture my date.

Then on to the Cottage at the Guest House Inn. Just steps from the beach, it's a tidy little place, fully equipped with a serviceable kitchenette, electric fireplace and -- ahem -- the biggest jacuzzi tub I have ever seen. 

In the living room.

Use your imagination. 

*sound of crickets*

On to the beach. You know it's going to be a good walk when this is the first thing you encounter:

Don't tell Ben, but I have an inexplicable obsession with pugs.
This 14-week-old puppy cemented it.
The rest of our walks over the next 36 hours did not disappoint either. Especially a chance encounter with a South Korean choral group who took approximately 8 zillion selfies with Ben. A sweet soprano's voice guided us home Wednesday afternoon.

It's good to be retired.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Yoga lady

As a Christmas present to ourselves, my date and I joined the YMCA in The Beav.

It's a quirky place, located in the midst of a business/industrial park. There are a bazillion most excellent basketball courts -- hence, a very lively youth sports/development program. This makes me smile, thinking of the Number One and Two Sons' journey through YMCA youth sports.

And, oh, there's adult fitness too. A serviceable cardio/weight area -- and group classes.

Group classes. Hmmmm. I've never been much of a fitness class type person. Till now. I'm in: Yoga and Zumba. You've read it here. And here's why: I need to tone up.

Since retirement and our move in September, I've lost between 20 (thank you, holidays!) and 25 pounds. Oh, attribute it to stress and the physical effort of unpacking 8 zillion boxes, but I will share a deep, dark secret to my weight loss:

There are no vending machines on The Lane. 

But I digress. Let's talk yoga for just a moment, shall we?

I took a yoga class several winters ago in Bermtopia. We met in a church basement. Classes were cancelled due to snow, rescheduled in OTHER church basements, cancelled due to snow, rescheduled. . . . oh, you get the picture.

Nevertheless. I fear I may be terminally yoga-challenged: (1) The class is at 8 a.m. Following my first outing, I deduced two cups of French roast were not advisable. (2) I have bad feet.  Thanks to bunions, my left foot still takes a sharp right turn at the big toe. Balance is not happening.

Operative word: Balanced. Sigh.
Case in point: The Tree position. It seems simple enough, right? You slide one foot up the side of your leg, and hold the position, standing on one leg,  for some interminable amount of time. . . and in some, unfathomable contemplative state (sorry, that's the coffee talking).

Not me. Tap. Tap. Tap on ye olde yoga mat. That's my (sorta) uplifted foot assuring I don't do a side plant in yoga class. Tap. Tap. Tap.

Yoga instructor Jim observes The Tree is done without tapping toes.

Tap. Tap. Tap. I will return, Yoga Jim. I will return.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

Monday, December 29, 2014


Like most of his canine cousins, I think Ben is perpetually perplexed by the holidays.

Walking schedules are kaput. . . favorite nap spots usurped by odd structures that faintly resemble trees but smell like Tupperware. . . and there are houseguests, whose random comings and goings are simply unacceptable for a herding dog who needs his flock present and accounted at all hours -- day and night.

His Royal Highness is perhaps the biggest game changer for Ben this year. They met briefly in Everett earlier in December, but Ben was too busy being petrified of Kitty Pants, the Number One Son's cat, to take much notice of our little bundle of human joy.

Ben's has had more time to study the the little munchkin this week -- and digest the sudden paradigm shift where he is no longer the rock star of family gatherings.

Ummm. Excuse me?
I actually think he's okay with this -- as long as there is a morning and evening walk and portions of our holiday meals are regularly deposited on the kitchen floor.

However, Ben's still getting around the fact we all think it's cute HRH pees and poops in his pants.
Dude. That's what parks are for.
And, good herding dog that he is, Ben decided he must supervise any HRH proceedings that involve the living room floor. As a result, he's become our holiday photo bomber extraordinaire:

He also was not above nicking one of His Royal Highness' Christmas presents.

Sorry, little one. This one's staying in The Beav.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Cell phone tripping

Prior to our last trip north for an audience with His Royal Highness, I thought it might be judicious to clear out the photo gallery on my cell phone:

From the Bobcat Chic Department

This fellow (stuffed, I should add) greets us each time we pull into the city library parking lot. New trend in apartment decor? Gargoyle surrogate? The Beav -- epicenter of cutting-edge interior design.

From the Holiday Cheer Department

We dropped in on The Beav's annual city Christmas tree lighting earlier this month. It was quite festive:

There were carolers (well, we THINK they were carolers -- the sound was a little dodgy where we were standing, but we tapped along anyway because it's CHRISTMAS, dammit!). . . .

Pictures with the Disney princesses (sans, thankfully, "Let It Go). . .

And the tree: I will leave it up to you to decide what it resembles. . . .

From the You Can't Go Home Again Department. . .

Behold the mighty -- and vacant -- Oregonian building. I had dinner with a friend at a restaurant across the street from the old newspaper building. Back in the day, between my junior and senior years in college, I spent a summer working in the newsroom as a "copy kid." I worked the 3 to 11 p.m. shift and, aside from having my car towed one night, it was a glorious job. The city editor, Virgil, brought chocolate-coated popcorn and zucchini bread in almost every night. 'Nuff said.

My dinner mate Oms, whose dad, coincidentally, was an editor with Portland's evening paper (yes, two papers! those were the days!), and I observed a quick moment of silence before concluding they must now produce the paper out of the back of a late-model VW van.

And, finally, from the Peaceful Coexistence Department. . .

We are back in the bird business on the lane. I know that will make many of you happy. (Hi, Katie! Hi, Gay!)

We started with the black sunflower feeder. The chickadees, nuthatches and juncos love us. . . flying into the kitchen window -- not so much. There were a few awkward days involving regular, audible thumps as the little buggers overshot the feeder perch, but I'm happy to report they got the navigation down, and everyone's tiny avian heads are fine now.

More recently, I learned Anna's hummingbirds stick around all year in Portland so we added the hummingbird feeder. Come to find out -- Portland hummingbirds are just as territorial as their Bermtopian cousins.

There were a few tense moments while Attila the Hum II figured out the chickadees, nuthatches and juncos were not too interested in sugar water. Now we've got one big happy bird family.

Group hug! Tis the season, right?

Saturday, November 29, 2014

A baby haiku

His Royal Highness The Grandson recently penned this haiku and sent it to his grandma and grandpa. The child is a genius.

In my world, there are

Nose tickles, Bearsie and love.

I think you'd smile too.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Kitchen is open!

The boxes are unpacked. The kitchen -- Because I Said So Kitchen, that is -- is stocked. And we're back in business with The Barefoot Contessa's Rich Beef Barley Soup.

You so need this.