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Aches and Pains, but Flowers!

I need all the help I can get!

I found a four leaf clover on the cool down walk after a recent run.  I open with it, because as I sat down to make my blog post, a voice in my head said, “Good luck with that!”

As I worked today, I thought that after work, I could go for a run, mow the lawn, or take a walk, and write a blog post about whichever I picked.  As I pondered my choices, I had to weigh which would wreak the least havoc on my back.  Hey, I’m middle-aged and overweight: I get back pain.  Returning to work after an extended break has caused some pain (YES, I am grateful I have a job!  We have been through this!  Sheesh!).

I apologize for complaining.  The fact is, most of us at work have been having more than the usual aches and pains.  I may philosophize about possible causes on Lame Post Friday (half bakedly of course) (ooh, here’s an autocorrect I’m glad I noticed: the computer put “nakedly” instead of “bakedly”).  For today, I decided a gentle walk would be my best choice.

I got about two houses down the street when my knees started in.  What the hell, me?  I turned around, thinking I could at least take some pictures at my own house.  First I crossed the street to take a picture of the lilac bush in front of a neighbor’s house.

How have I never noticed this before?

Returning to my house, I took some shots of the front yard.

And a few dandelions.

I am so into forget-me-nots this year, and it seems Mother Nature is as well.  I see them everywhere.

I did not get to the tulips at their peak.

We had two tulips, but I did not get any pictures when they were at their prettiest.

A wider view.

This is a kind of a preview of coming attractions,  because the peonies and daisies are not blooming yet.

I see I am over 300 words, so I think I will save my back yard shots for a future post. I will try not to spend so much time blathering about my aches and pains!


Middle-aged Musings on Age

How fortunate that I have back pain today. Yesterday (and the day before) I blamed my difficulty writing on my sinus headache. It led me to wonder if other kinds of pain were better or worse to write under. Who knew I would get a chance to find out so soon?

Well, I guess I knew I’d get a chance. Middle-age has been hitting me with both barrels lately. You know that expression, “Live fast, die young and make a good-looking corpse.” I apparently did not live fast enough to die young, yet not slow enough to age gracefully. Then again, when have I ever done anything gracefully? (For those of you not well-acquainted with me, the answer is almost never.)

Before you all conclude that I am an unmitigated kvetch, I’d like to just say I am laughing at myself. I don’t mind being 50. I think it’s kind of fun. I like my grey hair. I’m hoping to experience some of them there hot flashes this winter when my place of employment gets really cold. I can’t say I’m nuts about the extreme difficulty in losing weight, but you can’t have everything.

Earlier today I said to a co-worker, “Getting old ain’t for sissies. I like saying that. It makes me feel bad-ass for having back pain.”

So here is my Monday Middle-aged Musing for the week: yes, I can write a blog post with back pain.

Best Laid Plans

I thought the time had returned when I would come home from work, go running, and write a blog post about it. I put out running clothes last night when I put out my work clothes. I spent the day questioning my choice of running clothes and deciding what I would wear instead (because of how warm it was, not because I’m a running clothes horse).

And then my back betrayed me.

I guess us middle-aged ladies need to treat our bodies differently from how we treated them when we were in our resilient twenties (as if I remember that far back!). In any case, it seemed like a really dumb idea to spend the latter half of the afternoon at work complaining about my back pain, then go home and do something that would probably make it worse.

And any smug people sitting there smirking at me like I’m making up some lame excuse (they won’t openly accuse me of it, they’ll just sit there giving me that look — oh I HATE that look!) (you know who you are)… well, if you ever feel a fraction of my pain, just remember not to take pain relievers on an empty stomach.

Be that as it may, I took a walk instead, with my wonderful husband, Steven, and my delightful schnoodle, Tabby. I wore my flood boots, because some of those puddles are pretty deep. You know, where the snow banks on either side of the sidewalk act as dams (those damn snowbanks!) (get it? I thought it was clever). Steven did not wear his and had to do some fancy stepping to not get his feet soaked. I walked carefully through each one. Less twisting and maneuvering was better for my back.

Unfortunately, the walk was short and not very eventful. Then again, it’s a Tired Tuesday. Let’s see what I can come up with for Wuss-out Wednesday. As always, I hope you’ll stay tuned.

A Cold Walk

I have been wanting to walk my dog, Tabby (I didn’t name her after a cat) (I told that story, didn’t I?), for some days now, but it has been too cold out for cute little doggies and middle-aged ladies. Today was only marginally better, but I thought I’d give it a try.

One reason I wanted to walk is that my back has been hurting me. I thought maybe I did something to it, but I really think all that I did was live to be fifty. And I haven’t been walking. Walking every day is very good for your back. It is good for your dog, too. How could I stay inside?

My thermostat said it was 18 degrees, which is practically 20. Luckily, my thermostat says nothing about wind chill. I hoped for the best. I put Tabby’s coat on her, bundled myself up, and we were off.

That bright sun ought to help, I thought. If only it hadn’t gone behind the houses. At least there were strips of sunlight. The sidewalks weren’t too bad. In the few places where nobody had shoveled, other pedestrians had worn a path. I don’t mind a little snow. The resistance burns a few more calories.

One patch of sidewalk was completely bare. I wondered if the people living in that house had put a heater under it, like some businesses do. I’d like to do that and not have to shovel. With my luck, I would mis-set the heat, the snow would melt then freeze, somebody would take a header and sue my pants off. Then I wouldn’t be able to afford to pay the heating bill.

When we turned the corner, we had full sun on our backs. Aaahhh. Well, I guess it was mostly placebo effect, because the air was still cold. My nose was running, but at least I had a handkerchief today.

I decided we would only go around one block. Tabby might have preferred to go farther, but I don’t think little dogs necessarily know what is best for them or me. Around another corner, we were in shade again. I thought how much I would appreciate the shade this summer. Then the wind picked up. Yikes!

I think Tabby enjoyed the walk. At least she stopped and sniffed the usual number of times. I enjoyed it too. I certainly needed the exercise. I needed more than what I got, to be honest, but one does one’s best. Tomorrow the temperature is supposed to be in the 20s. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it sure looks different on the way up than it did on the way down!

Back at it Despite the Back

Over two weeks ago I had some problem with my back (you may have read about it in my blog), so I have not been running since October 3. That is just not fun for me, so I was determined to begin yet again today (October 23 — eek! 20 days! Say it ain’t so!).

My back has actually been feeling much better with very little effort on my part. Then I noticed my weight was starting to creep up, and that can exacerbate back pain (oh, I love that word exacerbate). Of course I knew my first step had to be to stop eating like a huge honkin’ hogger (my favorite way to eat), but I also knew that running would help.

It was raining as I left work, but I did not let that deter me. For one thing, it was a mere sprinkle, not a deluge. The temperature was just about where I like it, somewhere in the 50s. Of course all my running clothes were clean, so it was no problem getting into gear and getting going.

So far so good. I turned right onto German Street. Steven, Tabby and I had gone left the last walk we took, so I thought I would look for different Halloween decorations. I knew I would have to cross Main Street, but I hoped for the best.

Right away I saw two college-age-looking girls on the sidewalk ahead of me. Oh dear, I would have to say “Pardon me” and go around them. Well, so what, I told myself, the worst thing that could happen is you’ll run through some wet grass. There is no reason to think those girls will not be perfectly polite. Anyways, at the rate I run, I knew it would be at least a couple of blocks before I caught up with them.

It took less time than I thought, so maybe I’m not such a plodder after all. I said, “Pardon me,” as planned. One girl was on a cell phone, but the other girl smiled at me.

“I need to do that,” she said.

“It’s been two weeks since I’ve done it,” I told her as I ran on. You see, I had not at that point checked previous blog posts for dates so did not realize the 20 day thing.

I saw plenty of ghosts, scarecrows, skeletons and pumpkins. Many porches sported cobwebs, both clumpy and nicely spread out. One house in particular had an elaborate graveyard in the front lawn. I made a note of that one for when Steven and Tabby and I take another walk. I also saw the cutest little pumpkin lights in an enclosed porch. Got to get me a string of those.

Soon I realized it had stopped raining. Bonus! I never reached the “I Can Rock This” stage. I alternately plodded and shuffled, but it didn’t feel too bad. Eventually my back started to hurt a little. I promised myself I would do stretches later, per the papers my friend at work gave me.

As I was running I composed a blow-by-blow in my head, very little of which I have used here. Then again, I don’t think every running post has to run up to 1000 words.

I was listening to WVHC, 91.5 fm, Herkimer County Community College’s radio station, as I drove home from work. The student on the air said, “Happy Tuesday. Not that anybody has any reason to be happy on a Tuesday.” I may be misquoting. Well, I do so have a reason to be happy. I started running again. Happy Tuesday to the rest of you, too.

Walk, Don’t Run

I was going to go running yesterday, because halfway through work I realized my back felt much better. I miss running! For one thing, I go further away from the house, so I see different scenery than when I take a walk with Tabby. For another thing, I’m gaining weight again. Say it ain’t so! If any more motivation is needed, it’s a built-in blog post.

On the other hand, for the past week my back has been really paining me. I mean, more so that your common or garden over-40 aches. I seriously considered going to the doctor and embarking upon a long struggle with addiction to prescription painkillers. Of course, there was no guarantee I could get in to see the doctor right away, and even less guarantee that he would prescribe anything beyond physical therapy and weight loss (say it ain’t so!).

While I dithered, I did some stretches I found in a Women’s Day magazine (April 2012) as well as a couple shown me by my mother and a woman at work. I know, this is not the same thing as working with a trained physical therapist who can ensure I am doing the appropriate moves with the proper form. Well, it fit my schedule and my budget for now.

And IT HELPED!!! I felt joyous. I knew I had sports bras clean. It had only been a week and one day since my last run. I could rock this! Then I thought, don’t be stupid. Your back just this minute stopped hurting, don’t instantly do something known to cause back strain. Still, running helps with the weight loss thing. I dithered a little more (I always say, go with your strengths).

Perhaps it was fortunate that my back started twinging again on the drive home. I thought a nice walk with Tabby would be more my speed. Tabby was agreeable. She didn’t want to go very far, either. Two blocks was all we did. I stretched some more later on.

Today at work, my friend who had shown me the one stretch brought me a copy of the physical therapy exercises she did when she was out for a month with back pain. I showed them to another co-worker and assured him I intended to do these exercises faithfully, “So you won’t have to listen to me complain about my aching back ANY MORE!”

He expressed skepticism. I explained that he would still have to listen to me complain about other things, and he believed that much.

I had actually meant to write a blog post about my two block walk with Tabby. When I sat down and put pen to paper, all this garbage about my back came out. I originally thought I might segue into an amusing description of the walk and edit out the back garbage later, but for some reason I never quite got to the amusing description. Then I thought, it’s Lame Post Friday! What could be more lame than two Fridays in a row complaining about my aches and pains? Stay tuned for more posts about Why I Can’t Write a Decent Post. Happy Friday, everyone!

Some Intrepid Girl Reporter

I think back pain must also effect the brain (cue brainless jokes) (you know who you are), because I had completely forgotten about another horror classic I watched on Saturday, The Corpse Vanishes (1942) starring Bela Lugosi.

Of course, starring Bela Lugosi is not a guarantee a movie will be any good or even that it will be a horror movie (remember when Boris Karloff played that Chinese detective?). Still, with the word “corpse” in the title, I figured we’d at least get to see those famous scary eyes.

The movie starts out quickly enough with a bride dropping dead just as she’s about to say “I do” (cue anti-marriage jokes). A photographer rushes in and takes a picture (paparazzi in 1942?). The undertaker takes the body away, and we catch a glimpse of some scary eyes in the back of the hearse. Oh boy! Then the real undertaker shows up. Oh no!

“Another kidnapping of a dead bride!” exclaims a girl from a newspaper who has just been denied an interview with the bride’s father. “What a story!”

At this point I sat up as straight as my bad back would allow and cheered. An intrepid girl reporter! Yay!

As per usual, Intrepid Girl Reporter gets no respect from her paper. The editor sends her to the next society wedding and he ONLY wants her to find out who’s there and what the bride is wearing.

“But what if I get a clue?” she asks. He does not deem this likely.

The mother of the bride in this wedding has demanded police protection. As the bride prepares, a mysterious orchid arrives, which she naturally pins right on. It MUST come from the groom, right?

Hello! Two minutes earlier the groom was at the door and was denied admittance. Would he not at that point have said, “Oh, well, give her this orchid from me.” That occurs to no one, and apparently the police protection does not extend to questioning deliverers of mysterious orchids.

Predictably, this bride also drops dead. They make sure the coffin gets on the right hearse, which is surrounded by motorcycle cops, but Bela cleverly steals it anyways. Intrepid Girl Reporter ends up with the orchid, which she — and nobody else — immediately recognizes as a clue.

Meanwhile, we follow Bela to his lonely mansion, castle, whatever it is (I missed the exterior shot), with the mysterious laboratory, and we find out why he wants the corpses of beautiful young women. He uses them (by means which are not clear but that hardly matters in a movie like this) to keep his wife young and beautiful. Does she have a wasting disease that makes her look old before her time? NO! She’s just old and doesn’t want to look that way! Come on, lady, none of us do! Slap on some Oil of Olay, schedule a Mary Kay makeover and drive on!

Perhaps I should be a little more understanding. These were the days before botox, after all. And, without this woman’s desire to look young, there wouldn’t be any movie. But she is so annoying! She’s crying with these big, loud sobs that go on and on, begging her husband to hurry, she needs [whatever he does] NOW! I was wishing he would give her a mysterious orchid so she’d just shut up already.

Intrepid Girl Reporter tracks down Bela through the orchid, which is surprisingly easy. What dumb cops they have in these movies. Law enforcement ought to sue Hollywood for defamation. Come to think of it, so should intrepid girl reporters, because this one is not a good representative. She spends a lot of time screaming and fainting (I think Fay Wray screamed once in The Mystery of the Wax Museum, but you really couldn’t blame her and she was intrepid the whole rest of the time).

It’s not a bad movie, in spite of Boo-Hoo Wife, Dumb Cops and Not So Intrepid Girl Reporter. There are some scary parts and a few creepy minor characters I haven’t mentioned (thought I’d save you something). One might wonder if it was really all that memorable, seeing as I forgot I had watched it till Monday morning when I was pondering my blog topic (it was kind of like, “Wait a minute, didn’t I see three movies on Saturday?”). But on looking back, I will give it this accolade: it was fun at the time.

Shopping with Corman

As I mentioned yesterday, due to a bad back all I was good for was watching cheesy movies — uh, I mean horror classics. I continued my viewing with Roger Corman’s Little Shop of Horrors (1960).

The movie later became an off-Broadway musical, which was also made into a movie with Rick Moranis and Steve Martin. I never saw the play, and I did not like the movie (although in general I like both Moranis and Martin). However, I saw a trailer for the original movie on the Extra Features of Horror Hotel, and I was intrigued. I found it in Steven’s Collection of 50 Horror Classics.

In case you’ve never heard of the movie or play, it is about a man-eating plant. The plant is raised by a nebbishy loser who is on the verge of getting fired from a Skid Row florist at which he works. He doesn’t exactly know what he’s raising and discovers quite by accident that the plant craves blood and eats people. Complications ensue.

I have to say I liked it. Corman throws in a lot of comedy, some of which is heavy handed. For example, at every opportunity, the nebbish sticks his foot in a bucket and trips. It takes some finesse to pull off a bit like that and not have your audience say, “Where do all these empty mop buckets keep coming from?” Roger Corman films are not known for use of finesse. However, that is part of their charm, and I did get enjoy a chuckle or two.

I especially liked the florist’s one regular customer, a lady with an apparently infinite supply of relatives who died and needed flowers sent to the funeral. I also like the florist, the struggling businessman who is alternately ready to fire the nebbish or adopt him as a son and is reasonably torn between doing the right thing and making money.

The big name in the cast is Jack Nicholson. I had known he was in the movie, but I was under the impression he played the sadistic dentist later portrayed by Steve Martin. Not so: Nicholson is hilarious and a little scary as a masochistic patient. It is not a large part. At Nicholson’s stature now it would be a cameo. At his stage of career then, it is a memorable bit.

Leonard Maltin in his 2007 Movie Guide (Penguin Group, New York, 2006) says the movie is now seen as one of Corman’s best. I can see why. The plot moves right along, there are some good scares, and the dramatic conclusion is fitting. An enjoyable interlude on a Saturday afternoon. I may try it again sometime without the backache.

Saturday Movie Matinee

I am hoping that this blog does not degenerate into All Back Pain All The Time, but can I just say, Ow. There was not a chance that I could run this morning and write a blog post about that. I thought I might manage a walking post, but I tried it and no dice. I did, however, watch an old horror movie and I’d like to write about that.

Spoiler alert! I may even give away the ending this time. We’ll see how it goes. I will say right up front that this is not a bad movie; I do not feel you would be wasting your time by watching it. So if you like this sort of thing, you might want to stop reading, go watch Horror Hotel, then come back and read this (clearly I do not feel that anybody’s time is wasted reading my blog).

Horror Hotel (1960) is the first entry in a DVD collection I got for Steven some years ago called “Horror Movie Classics.” It came in a tin box that makes horror noises when you push a little button on top. I purchased it mainly because it included the silent classic Nosferatu, one of the scariest pictures ever made. But I find I enjoy the cheesier entries as well.

The first thing that struck me about Horror Hotel is that the opening scene, a flashback to a witch burning in 17th century New England, was used in The Curse of the Blair Witch.

Wait a minute, have I written about this before? At this point it would behoove me to check. However, that would entail making my painful way up the stairs to the computer, waiting while it boots up and sitting on a chair which totally exacerbates my suspected sciatica for as long as it takes me to search every entry I’ve written about movies. That ain’t gonna happen. Oh well, they show re-runs on TV all the time. And scripted shows recycle plot lines ad infinitum. Anyways, maybe I never wrote about Horror Hotel in the first place.

Where was I? ah yes, the witch burning scene later recycled by the clever Blair Witch people. It turns out that this is a part of a lecture given by a wild-eyed professor who is, I think, getting just a little too heated about his subject matter. Of course a beautiful blonde student is fascinated by it all. She wants to go to the site of the aforementioned burning and do research, over the disapproval of her science professor brother and varsity sweater wearing boyfriend.

Setting aside the wild-eyed professor, this movie is lousy with foreshadowing. For one thing, here’s the ground level fog which never goes away. Seriously, outside of a haunted house with a good dry ice machine, has anybody ever actually walked through this thick, scary mist on the ground? I never have.

Naturally Blondie ignores the gas station attendant who tells her “decent folk” do not go where she is headed. Naturally she picks up the scary hitchhiker who speaks in sepulchral tones using language from another century, apparently thinking he’s a perfectly nice guy that needs a ride even though it is just a bit odd that he disappears abruptly without saying goodbye or opening the car door. And why wouldn’t she explore that dark, cobwebby basement where there isn’t supposed to be one?

I’ve skipped a bunch of stuff, which I think is a good thing if you ever want to watch the movie. I think I’ll skip a bunch of other stuff, too. For one thing, it is probably going to be painful to sit at the computer and type this in (man, I love writing a blog; you can get away with all kinds of stuff).

The climax is exciting. I may be giving away too much by saying that evil is vanquished, but I just wanted to tell you that I sat there asking, “Why didn’t they just do that 300 years ago and save these kids the trouble?”

Well, over 600 words and my back isn’t hurting too badly. I think I’ll go lounge on the couch some more and watch some more horror classics. That way I’ll have something to write about if I’m not up for more energetic Mohawk Valley adventures soon.

Almost Completely Lame

Myself as well as this post.

I think somebody somewhere has a voodoo doll of me and is sticking pins in it. He or she picks different spots. One day it’s the sinuses, one day the upper back, one day the lower back, later that day the bunions. This evil person’s evil plan is to make it so nobody likes me any more because all I can do is complain. I fear it is working.

Yesterday at work my headache reached nightmarish proportions. Seriously, I felt that I was in a nightmare. As I walked up the stairs to the ladies’ room I was surprised to see that I actually made it to the top of the stairs. I expected them to continue infinitely, as happens in some dreams (or have you never gotten the never-ending staircase or road or hallway?). When I got to the bathroom I was relieved to see real toilets not disgustingly dirty. I don’t know about anyone else, but when I dream about bathrooms they are either too wet and dirty for use or they are not real toilets but in the dream you are expected to use them as such, usually in full view of other people (or, again, is that just my sicko dreams? Paging Dr. Freud!).

After I got home and took a nap the pain subsided into mere lightheadedness. I could rock that, at least till bedtime, which would be early. Then as I was walking up the stairs (one flight) to the (normal) bathroom, I felt this sudden jab in my back. What the hell was that? After I went back downstairs and sat down, I found I could not get back up. This sucks! Well, I went to bed (after Steven helped me up). Sleep would help.

It did, somewhat. When I described my symptoms to a friend at work, she said it sounded like sciatica, which she suffers from. I do not know much about sciatica, except that it is fun to say (try it!). After a while the pain subsided. I reported this encouraging development to my friend.

“It comes and goes,” she told me. Damn! She went on to describe her own tribulations with sciatica. Oh dear! I said maybe I should not complain, because her case was obviously much worse than mine.

“You go right ahead and complain,” she told me. “That’s your prerogative. To complain and to change your mind!”

“Maybe I’ll change my mind about complaining,” I said.

The pain was practically gone by the end of the day. I thought I might even go running. Then I thought it might be more sensible to walk with my dog Tabby. Obviously she would prefer that alternative. By the time I got home, however, the pain was back. I could still rock a walk, I thought. Um, no.

I got on the computer. I would check my email, make my blog post, then decide. I checked the email. “Oh yeah, I wanted to email Entertainment Weekly and complain about YET ANOTHER double issue!” I stood up to go downstairs and get the magazine for the address. OOOWWW!

I went and laid down instead. I read, I relaxed. I made my painful way downstairs and ate something. I really really really wanted to make my blog post and get it over with. I had not written anything, but I had a tentative title, “Not Completely Lame,” and I had a tentative subject, my walk with Tabby which I had not yet taken.

In desperation, I came up with the above title and started typing, the results of which you see. You know, I think it is the hoariest cliche in fiction where the character wants to write a book, wants to write a book, wants to write a book, has some movie-ish adventure, then writes a book and it’s THE MOVIE YOU’VE JUST BEEN WATCHING!!! Have I just been guilty of a hideous piece of hypocrisy? How lame would that be? I would say, almost completely.