Scrambled Eggs and the Barbie Brigade

 

 

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“2. The Time Barbie Did Werk-out Gear”. Photo image from https://getleashedmag.com

Today Zoey and I got off to a late start on our walk to Daybreak Lake. It was around 8:00 in the morning and nice out, the 90-100 degree weather expected this week was a mild 71. The sun was up accompanying a light breeze.

As we moved along our regular route, we noticed more people than usual. Men ran by pushing toddlers in specialty jogging strollers. Women came in droves, two-by-two as if ticket holders to board an infamous Arc.

Two such women came down the street. I heard them before I saw them, chatting loudly and incessantly. Daybreak mothers are a peculiar breed; Perfection, perfection, perfection. They don uniforms of oversized sunglasses, skintight running gear, sports bras, and designer tank tops everywhere. They do so in full hair and makeup, too. They are toned, tight, and augmented, the crème of the crème of the Barbie set and I long to be one of them.

The two women, one a brunette, the other a blond, moved together side by side, ponytails synchronized, left, right, left, right with a single stroller between them, towards my little black dog and me.

I half smiled, and half nodded to them, suddenly feeling underdressed, and under accessorized and luckily went ignored. Zoey and I crossed the crosswalk, and the women and baby followed us to the lake.

Ducks lined the edges of the shoreline sunbathing. Zoey snubbed the birds, and the feeling was mutual. We stopped so Zoey could round up her pee-mail, and the two women maneuvered closer to the birds.

Brunette Barbie continued talking about someone apparently the two didn’t like. Blond Barbie stopped the stroller and produced a small Tupperware container and peeled back a baby blue lid.

“Duckies want eggs?” she called to the fowl. Several ducks craned their necks towards her.

Without holding the container low or bending down so the birds could investigate the offering, she turned to the blond toddler.

“See, even the ducks won’t eat your breakfast.” With that, she turned the contents upside down and dumped them out. She replaced the lid and slipped the container into a bag. Taking hold of the stroller, she backed out of the area, Brunette Barbie falling in step, never seeming to take a breath or notice what her counterpart had done. The two women continued to a playground a head.

The scene was both confusing and unsettling. Was Blond Barbie glad that neither the child nor the birds would eat the eggs? Would she have been unhappy if the ducks ate what the baby wouldn’t? Also, which is worse, taking a toddler to see the ducks only to reprimand him for skipping breakfast or feeding birds eggs? Maybe there’s something to be said for not being part of Barbie World after all.

Foreign Objects

IMG_4060Most of my subjects revolve around walks I take with my pet Chiweenie, Zoey, around Oquirrh Lake, aka Daybreak Lake, and this post is no different. I am always surprised when I go to the lake, and although my route is largely the same, the scenery often baffles me.

Two weeks ago, I came across a turtle. I believe it is a pet shop turtle, one of two I’ve seen residing at the lake, with yellow stripes across its dark green shell and measuring eight inches in diameter. I saw this turtle as well as its much larger companion, sitting on two semi-submerged rocks. Each one had its neck stretched out in front and mouths wide open soaking up the sun. The turtle was off the path in the tall grasses. It was moving its two front arms forwards and back, digging down into the mud and I wondered if it was laying eggs?

A week later I bumped into a friend who pointed out a man riding his bicycle with a bright green parrot on his back. I have seen the man several times before, with his long strands of silver hair slicked back and his bird perched on his shoulder blade. A birdcage is mounted on the man’s handlebars and is covered with a hand towel. The first notice of the man is his voice. He talks in low, soft tones, answering questions that haven’t been asked. I haven’t heard his Parrot speak, but have witnessed it bouncing its head in agreement. I’ve even talked to the man before, he is nice and seems to find having full conversations with his pet as natural as riding a bike with a bird on his shoulder. Someday I’ll have courage enough to ask him if I can take his picture!

The first notice of the man is his voice. He talks in low, soft tones, answering questions that haven’t been asked. I haven’t heard his Parrot speak, but have witnessed it bouncing its head in agreement. I’ve even talked to the man before, he is nice and seems to find having full conversations with his pet as natural as riding a bike with a bird on his shoulder. Someday I’ll have courage enough to ask him if I can take his picture!

Last week, I had almost finished my route, seeing nothing unusual when something caught my attention—something was moving outside of the sidewalk. I pulled my dog over to get a better look and saw a tiny brown Lobster. A Lobster! In Utah?

A passerby noticed me studying something and came over to see what it was. She said the Daybreakers call them Crawfish and apparently they are new to the area. Crawdads, Crayfish, and Crawfish are all names for these freshwater crustaceans, and they’re known as great bait for fish like Bass and Trout in which Daybreak stocks varieties of. However, I’m unsure if small brown lobsters have also been thrown into the stocking mix.

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Because I have seen turtles, as well as fancy looking ducks with bouffant feathery crowns (very unlike the wild ones that flock here), I’ve concluded that the Crawfish was also a pet store buy and now inhabits the lake. It bothers me that this beautiful area is the dumping ground for unwanted pets. I think the most bizarre thing about my experience is having to remind people that when going on a walk around Daybreak Lake be sure to take your pet home with you—even if it means it hitching a ride on your back as you bike home!

The Eyes Have It

 

IMG_5237When I was thirty-seven-years-old, I was told I could no longer wear contact lenses. Not since the eighth grade had I slipped on a pair of eyeglasses during regular work or school hours, and I found myself at nearly forty, staring in the mirror, with the fuzzy-haired, white-pocked pimple-faced adolescent I remembered staring right back. Although many, many people can wear glasses and look fantastic doing it, I am not one of them.

 

I tried changing my mindset. I bought a pair of bejeweled Versace’s, thinking, these aren’t regular eyeglasses, these are Versace’s! But still, across every reflecting surface looking back at me was the girl with bad skin, the one who wouldn’t grow into her front teeth until she was at least twenty.

With a mixture of desperation and conviction, I knew that something else could be done. I started looking into LASIK eye surgery. The price, in general, wasn’t too bad—though my husband had hoped I would want to keep the money and save for a breast augmentation instead. When I said, “Nope, I’m getting my eyes done,” after the initial let down, I swear I heard him humming Danny Boy somewhere in the basement, Brian was on board.

I visited every conceivable eye facility possible, even a sketchy one in the Holiday area that could have been the back of a Semi-truck, which convinced me to aim a bit higher—someplace without the guarantee of partial blindness and perpetual pink-eye afterward.

I went to Hoopes Vision in Draper. It was a beautiful place, all glass and lunar lighting, plush couches, and sparkling chandeliers. I was given an eye exam and had my eyes dilated for the third time in two days, and was led to a consolation room to wait. A man in a white lab coat and receding hairline strode into the room like he owned the place, which he actually did. He was Dr. Phillip C. Hoopes, Sr. the head honcho of Hoopes Vision.

He hadn’t even sat down when I asked him about a discount. He withdrew his outstretch hand, threw his pen across the room, and yelled, “You want a discount? You’ll get discounted surgery!” and then he stomped out. I sat for a while, scared, feeling very, very confused and guilty that I had even asked about a deal.

Soon, a second man entered, also in a lab coat, only he didn’t walk in like he owned the place, more like he simply worked there—which was the case. He asked me what happened. I gave him the play-by-play and apologized. He sighed then said, “Yeah, Dr. Hoopes Sr. does that.”

The man went over what all the others had told me, that because of thin corneas, I wasn’t a good candidate for LASIK and should consider PRK instead. PRK stands for Photorefractive Keratectomy in which the cornea is actually scrapped off completely, and a new one grows back in its place. It’s the preferred surgery for Fighter Pilots—who am I to argue with Top Gun?

When I was told that it would, in fact, be Dr. Hoopes Sr. who would do my procedure, I decided to take my cheap eyes someplace else. I went to the Eye Institute of Utah, who didn’t offer the same glittering pizzazz but did offer me a student discount first thing! Nice! By the way, I should note that Hoopes Vision does offer discounts, now.

Anyway, on the day of the surgery, I arrived early in the morning. I was given a green apple Jolly Rancher and washed it down with a Valium. In the middle of the surgical room, I laid back on a recliner. Each of my eyes was given eye drops, and both the top and bottom lids were taped wide open. While one eye was being worked on, the other was tucked under what looked to be the scoop part of a black plastic spoon.

I sat, staring at the ceiling as a small gardening hoe-like tool the size of a toothpick then glided over the surface of my eye cutting hoe-like slices as it went.

The procedure was quick—I still had the sour apple as well as the Valium bitter aftertaste on my tongue when it was over. I was fitted with protective lenses to keep air from my exposed nerve endings, plus a set of light-blocking goggles and was sent home.

“It’ll feel like sand is in your eyes,” I was told before and after the surgery. I hadn’t realized what that meant at the time:

See, when sand blows into your eyes, it stings. Tears well up until that piece of broken-down granite is either dissolved or flooded out. But, what happens if tears aren’t produced, your eyes are glued open, and your face is then dragged side to side, forward and back across a sandy beach? Horrible, horrible, eyes-scooped-out-by-a-melon-baller-then-dosed-with-lemon-juice-knuckles-gouged-on-a-cheese-grater type of pain!

I didn’t sleep. Any hint of light was like a shard of glass carving into my ocular cavity and painkillers were as helpful as taking Tic-Tacs for a hysterectomy.

At two o’clock in the morning after going three days without sleep, Brian took me back to the Eye Institute where the on-call doctor, a Reese Whitherspoon doppelganger who was mad we woke her, met us. She checked each eye and discovered my protective lenses were too small and were acting like a vice on my eyeballs. She switched out the lenses. Immediately, the puncturing pain subsided, and I went home. I slept.

Overall, I don’t regret having PRK. Five years later I still have nearly 20/20 vision, and as an added bonus my husband Brian got a joke out of it. When asked why I had eye surgery he chimes in saying, “she wanted to make her eyes bigger” and laughs.

 

 

 

 

Doorbell Ditched

This morning, leaving with Zoey for her after breakfast walk, we went through the front door, which we haven’t done for over a month. Usually, after driving my son to football summer camp, I park at the lake and Zoey, and I walk it. Today, however, the camp was canceled, and we left through the front door.

The sun was out, the birds were flying, and lawn sprinklers had turned off and dropped back into their holding positions in the grass. As I turned toward the door lock, I noticed a smudge of red across my illuminated doorbell. I leaned in to examine it.

I could see the scarlet raised sections of a fingerprint and the middle that was thinned due to the pressure put on it as someone pressed down. What is that? Paint? Blood?!

A list of who could have left the print came to mind.

My daughter had gone—she was my first thought as she is an amazing painter. Perhaps it was her painted pointer finger impression? My husband rarely uses the front door and is meticulous and would know whether or not he had red smudges on his fingers—he would have used his elbow if he didn’t have his house keys on him.

That left my son, my son who leaves greasy prints on every surface of my house. My son who is tall enough that when he touches the stairwell with orange Cheetos-dusted digits, I have to pull out my stepladder to rub them out. My son, who at that moment, basking in the canceled practice, was sound asleep. So I left, deciding to deal with it when I got back.

As I strolled along the path leading to DayBreak, it occurred to me that our house hasn’t received its regular volume of carpet cleaning, solar paneling, and ant killing salespeople. We haven’t put out a No Soliciting sign. On most sales attempts I simply don’t answer the door during working hours. Besides, Zoey goes crazy at the chiming of a visitor, it’s enough to put off an unwanted sales pitch—but maybe we’ve inadvertently come up with another dissuasion; red paint or plasma.

Zoey and I finished our walk, and I remembered the crimson mark once more. As we entered the house, my son was awake, and I asked him about it.

“Oh yeah. Remember that fundraiser for Scout Camp?”

I did. The scout group went around the neighborhood trading cash for painting house numbers on street curbs.

“It’s from that,” he said. “I couldn’t get it off.”

I had to use an Exacto knife to chip the red paint off the doorbell—Zoey wailed each time I pushed too hard and sounded the alarm that someone had arrived. But now that I’ve restored the doorbell have I also restored the return of window washers and weed killer-killers? Have I opened up my porch to the endless pestering of passerby’s, now that there’s no mark that Jackson Pollock or Ted Bundy live at my home address? Yeah, probably. Hmm…maybe I should open up a can of paint or a vein?

What the Hammock?

IMG_3992 (1)On an early morning a couple of weeks ago while my dog, Zoey, took me to retrieve her pee-mails we came across something unusual. Suspended from a large wooden pergola by four bungee cords hung a hammock. It was odd that one would be hanging in a public area in the first place, but it was early, and I could make out a body inside the pea-pod shape. A red car was parked close by, which I assumed belonged to the swinging sleeper.

Immediately my mind spun an ominous story; this person was running from someone, maybe an abusive spouse, perhaps from hired thugs because they uncovered company secrets, etc., etc. Anyway, he or she was in such a hurry, and they couldn’t get the money together and had no place to stay for the night. While driving aimlessly, they came across a lonely pergola on a hill and remembered about the hammock they’d recently purchased and left in their trunk…

Such over the top theories often run amuck in my head. But in truth, I had no idea what this person’s story was. Were they homeless? Runaways? Or did they decide the night before, hey, wouldn’t it be fun to sleep in a hammock—could it have been that easy? Could someone lack so much drama in his or her life? It’s more likely the case than a scenario of running from the mob like a John Grisham novel. Could it be that someone simply wanted to sleep in a hammock outside?

If so, I’d have to agree; it would be fun falling asleep to the hum of crickets or by a gentle rocking breeze. What about the fresh air? The moonlight? Seeing the view of the entire Salt Lake Valley from one spot, dangling five feet off the ground? Or maybe they were lured there for once, to wake to the sunrise and not to the set, beep, beep, beep, of angry electronics?

I realized then the strangeness of seeing a hanging bed wasn’t that it was there, but that my knee jerk reaction to it led me to think of something so dark.

 

 

Single and Looking For A Mate

cropped-img_3382.jpgI often follow a trail that meanders 3.2 miles around a lake by my house. It’s a manmade lake, peppered by inlets of sand beaches and wooden boat docks that have gone to the birds—literally; the ducks have taken over the waterfront!
Last week on my walk, I started noticing a single flip-flop sandal here and there—out on the shore, in the middle of a patch of grass, next to a bench, or at the bottom of a slide. It wasn’t a pair of shoes, but rather a series of one flop without it’s flip.
The shoes varied one to the next, big ones, floral ones, Dora the Explorer ones.
I saw some with diamond sparkles and some that strapped to the ankle. There was a teeny-tiny red and blue foam one and one that could have fit Shaquille O’Neil.
I counted sixteen singular sandals along the trail as if a stampede of pedestrians had been forced to evacuate, each leaving a piece of their hurry behind. What was going on? Was there an enormous amount of single footed people living in my area? Or was it some sort of summer equivalent of an Easter egg hunt? I had no idea.
As I rounded the lake’s final bend, I saw a bench off the main path lined with shoes, and some had mates! A thin and tanned woman marched across a stretch of beach in front of me. She had gray hair spilling from her bucket hat and held a handful of flip-flops. She stood over the bench eyeing the cache with the ones she kept in her hand but did not make a match. She slid some shoes over and placed her latest find.
I nodded to the matchmaker. She didn’t respond—she was busy assembling finds with those that were lost, so I left her alone.
The whole way home I thought about this woman; who was she? What compelled her to collect orphaned shoes? I certainly wouldn’t have. In fact, I didn’t, although it wouldn’t have been hard to grab one and put it in a singular location to await its owner. Why didn’t I? What does that say about me?
It wasn’t until I got home that I thought about taking a photo of what I’d seen—what that was, I’m still unsure—but if you’re searching for your sole mate, check out Northshore Beach. Who knows, a lady in a white bucket hat with rivulets of gray spilling from underneath, may have found one for you! To point you to the right location is the least I can do.

The Fruit Man and The Naked Chick

I wonder if people who are married to a fat spouse wear, what are the equivalent of Beer Goggles? I ask because my husband was once married to an overweight woman, me, and had no idea! He was clueless when someone pointed out that I looked exactly like Liza Minnelli, but not the young, 1970’s Liza…

Brian thought the comparison had to do with both of us having short, dark hair. I, on the other hand, was not confused. The non-1970’s Liza was extremely overweight and sported a pixie style haircut. Me, too.

My big weight loss came after a particularly humiliating morning over seventeen years ago. My husband, daughter, and I had recently moved into a new house in West Jordan, Utah. I had just gotten out of the shower when my then two-year-old, Lorrin, called out that someone was at the door and she was letting them in. I threw on my robe and wrapped a towel around my head and emerged from my bedroom.

Standing inside the frame of my open front door was a middle-aged man selling oranges. He was friendly enough pitching to me while slicing an orange for me to sample. I didn’t want an orange, but I also didn’t want to be impolite, so I let him continue with his spiel.

Benjamin, my longhaired Chihuahua, seized an opportunity and bolted outside. My daughter trailed after him still wearing a diaper and nothing else. My undeveloped neighborhood was full of vacant lots brimming with rocks and with sticker bushes looming large.

I tried excusing myself, but the farmer continued whittling at sections of orange to feed me. He said something about his twelve-year-old daughter and something else about his twenty-one-year-old son who had freshly returned from a Mormon Mission. However, I wasn’t paying attention. Instead, I was looking for my streaking child and my dog. With my apologies, I stepped around the man and hurried down the street, barefoot, robed, and towel-turbaned.

As I ran, I spotted the man’s missionary son as well as his daughter selling fruit nearby. And then, sprinting down the pavement, I saw Lorrin crying and in pursuit of Benjamin, our dog. Lorrin had fallen, and I could see bloody toe prints on the sidewalk.

When I caught up with her, blood streamed down her leg and off two toes. I swept her up, but Lorrin was stubborn and began screaming for the dog and bucking to get down. I held her tight and began hauling her home when down the street I saw a streak of black fur near the farmer.

“Stop that dog!” I yelled over my hollering child. As I came closer, I noticed the missionary son was mid-stride with a box of oranges in hand facing me. His little sister was doing the same; watching me, mouth opened, eyes bulging, and frozen.

I was struggling, holding my child with one hand and trying to keep my towel turban from sliding off. When I was almost in my front yard, I saw that the farmer’s face was white and he was staring at me. I looked down.

My robe was open. The whole front side of me was visible; breasts sitting sunny-side up, stomach mounding, and then there was my Netherlands—everything was exposed. Surprise!

The fruit guy stepped quickly forward and handed me my dog, in which I positioned strategically slightly below my waist. Embarrassed I dashed into my house. The fruit man followed. I synched up my robe and ended up buying an entire box of oranges just to get rid of him. I guess I have the fruit man and his family to thank for my sudden urge to join Weight Watchers.

Years later, the orange farmer returned, though, I had lost over sixty pounds and had grown out my pixie cut. When the man finally did recognize me, his pupils retracted and he didn’t argue when I told him, no, I wouldn’t care for any oranges, today. I remembered the oranges as being bitter—though I didn’t tell him that. The man left. He practically ran from my porch.