Monday, May 28, 2007

Cicada Invasion

On May 24 ABC News had a report on the invasion of cicadas in the Midwest. The most interesting of all was the coverage of a cookbook author preparing these for a cicada party. Cicadini cocktail? Fried cicadas? Sushi with cicadas? I don't believe it, yet I watched the report showing participants eating the morsels that taste like "woodsy, peanut butter-like." And the male cicadas have a lot of protein!

A cicada invasion hit in the mid 1930's in Denver, Co. I was about four years old at the time. Still reeling through my mind on occasion is the remembrance of the total coverage outside these bugs made and the annoyance of having to brush them off after running from the car to the apartment where we lived at the time. Nothing we could wear or the quickness of our movements gave us any relief from thousands of cicadas who stuck on us. I don't remember being afraid of being bitten, more about the annoyance. Never have I been involved since then in any other kind of bug plague. Fortunately for the Midwesterners, this only occurs every 17 years!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Goodbye, Kisses

I should never have gone to the grocery store Friday. After walking my usual two miles, I swallowed a biscuit with sausage at McD's and headed to the next door store.

But that morning I figured I needed a pick-me-up for the weekend and came home with a bag of.....Hershey's Kisses! I may as well have shot myself, at least I'd have been several pounds lighter upon death. I had broken my vow of no more candy, held since March and I was strutting with pride.

Like a lot of ladies my age, pounds go on easily and rarely drop off. Weight is our middle name. I'm already looking at the latest microfiber underlings that promise a slimmer me. Honestly, life has not been good for my once-skinny body. When I was thin, chubby was in. Now thin is getting all the publicity. T'aint fair, McGee.

Before the night shades pulled over the sky on Saturday, I had devoured all the kisses, sneaking them in my mouth when R wasn't looking. He's slightly hard of hearing (though he won't admit it) so unwrapping the silver foil was too easy. Careful to accumulate the wrappings, I was savoring every motion of my tongue across the roof of my mouth, knowing very well that I was committing a crime of passion.

Despite the fact that latest statistics indicate the body's need for dark chocolate, there's no way I can live on one daily kiss. I need a lot of kisses (with a few hugs of forgiveness thrown in!) A hiker I met in Santa Fe bragged how well she was doing, eating one Dove chocolate a day as a reward for her tenacity to reduce sweets. I had thought about imitating her practice, but no, my eyes flickered past the Dove packages for my childhood favs--milk chocolate kisses. I hesitated a moment, thinking that if I could find the new cherry filled kind, I'd substitute. No such luck.

Now I'm filled with remorse, a noticeable fold around the middle, and a pitiful feeling of regret for my actions.

Friday, May 25, 2007

A Better Way to Walk


Trying to solve my hunched back, my weak knees, and husband R's painful back, we decided to try the new Earth Shoes. These are built with a "negative heel." The ads for Earth Shoes indicate that wearing them will allow you to walk correctly, with the heel lower than the sole. So off we went last week to the only store in our area stocking selections.

The walking shoes made my feet appear as small boats.(To you, seeing the photo, they appear "normal" size. The negative heel isn't apparent.) The toe box was roomy and the laces tied tightly. A good fit. Standing straight was an easy feat. Feeling like I was leaning on my heels, I testily walked around the store. Hmm--not bad. But the salesman thought I should try another brand just to get a comparison. Out he came with a pair of walking shoes with a curved sole promoting "neuro-muscular/proprioceptive training, lower limb blood flow, and postural and gait adjustment." MBT, they're called: Masai Barefoot Technology. (The Masai are known as shoeless natives.)

These shoes looked even bulkier than the Earth Shoes, but felt much better on the feet. The rocker sole gave one the feeling of floating across the floor. However, the price tag was considerably higher.

While I pondered the shoes, their prices, and their fit,, R decided to
try on a pair. He immediately liked both types, but the Earth Shoe was on sale--$100 off!! He bought two pairs, while I decided on the Earth Shoe, salivating for the MBT's. I, too, settled on Earth Shoes.

We were cautioned upon leaving that we should wear our shoes each day for a short time. Ignoring his advice,the next day we walked a mile in our selections, only to understand better the caution we'd received. Without practice wearing the Earth Shoes, the muscles in our legs and feet feel strained until the change in our posture and gait occurs. We have to wear them for a few hours daily in order to adjust.

Now R is ready to discard his other shoes. He has noticed an immediate change in his posture. As a woman who loves shoes, my discarding all others is a difficult decision that will take a bit longer. In the meantime, I have bought a pair of Earth Shoe sandals so I'll wear both pairs more than any other.

MBT's will be on our list for next year. Expensive? Yes, but the improvement of our neuroskeletal makeup is proof of their importance.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Weekend of Plays

Now I understand the War of the Roses--such bloodshed! This weekend Sis and I attended another annual Southern Writers' Project of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. A marvelous Friday through Sunday of readings by new and somewhat-new playwrights both young and adult then evenings and matinees of this season's plays. I have to say I'm learning to "hear" strong and weak points of plays in the early stages of development which readings are for, and discussions afterwards gives the playwright a glimpse of what did and didn't appeal to the audience about the characters and situations.

"Rocket City" told of early stages of Warner von Braun's arrival with his German scientists into the city of Huntsville, AL, and the residents' reactions; "The Dragonfly Tale" showed us a communtity largely inhabited by blacks with a Jewish shopkeeper's involvement in their lives--an inside view of humanity:physical violence, pettiness, friendship, love, hate..."The Fall of the House" concerned a group of people stranded at one house the day after Katrina hit, how one woman stood her ground not to leave her home, while the victims she nurtured attempt to convince her to leave with the rescue boats.

Evenings we saw Henry VI Part B (having missed Thursday's production of Part A) where a second generation continues bloodshed to gain the crown and Richard III whose "right to the crown" was tweaked by Richard killing off his brothers and families and his loyal subjects to gain the power he felt he deserved. Lots of action, but most of all, a better understanding of Shakespeare's works. A quick review of history beforehand of how Shakespeare himself tweaked history for his dramatic plots by a seasoned college professor, gave us the understanding we should have obtained in our own college lit classes. Not an adult in the audience would have protested a class in Shakespeare after these productions. The program ran a genealogy chart of the "Dynastic Rivalry of The Wars of the Roses: It's All in the Family." that should be kept while rereading these famous plays. The resident actors and MFA students gave outstanding performances.

Present at the weekend festivities were playwrights who are making quiet noises in the play world. Their names unknown by most of the public, but will in coming years be recognized. Talks by these writers is worth the weekend away from home. We all left with the idea we could write a play.

"Thinking of You," a last year's reading by Peter Hicks was the light presentation. This is about a family's psychic ability and how it interferes with the daughter's opportunities to find a decent boyfriend who can overlook the fact that his girlfriend can read his thoughts. Funny, almost to slapstick.

Now I'm back to normal, ready to attack unpacking of boxes and replacing of furniture after five weeks of house renovations. As I rummage through the boxes I can lose my mind in the battles of royal families...

Saturday, May 12, 2007

It's Only 85 Degrees? Gads, That's Hot!

Although the temperatures this month aren't the usual summer ones, when the thermometer hits above 80 degrees, I begin to feel like the characters in "A Streetcar Named Desire." Remember the glistening bodies, the few clothes those characters wore, the stringy hair? I FEEL I'm in that story when the first perspiration pops out on my body.

The other day I told my doc that I didn't feel good after walking. That seemed to surprise him, but nothing I say to him should raise his eyebrows by now. I guess I was hoping he'd tell me to quit walking, but he didn't. He asked me how I felt after being in water aerobics, and I said "tired." I'm sure he didn't believe me.

"Once spring gets here I don't feel up to par," I said. "Hmmm, " he replied. Since I don't know anyone else who feels this way, I assume I would make a good study for medical students.

Hot Mississippi weather has always been my enemy. As a preschooler I wanted to stay indoors in front of the fan. The relief was like taking a quarter of an aspirin for a thundering headache. Relief-- just an arm's length away. I wore only sun suits in those days. The bedroom fan oscillated day and night. Fortunately, my parents recognized my plight and we moved to Denver, Colorado, where snow was still on the ground that spring of '35. Mother's only mistake was to take me a month after arriving to a doctor for his advice.

"Hmmm," the doctor replied, "I think we have just as much hot weather as you do in Mississippi. I don't see the need for you to upset your life to move out here!" He had just signed my slow death warrant. After the grasshopper plague, the Parents packed me up and returned to the home state. And since then I've struggled to survive.

I have had that doctor on my short list of people I dislike. He ruined me with a few words. I could have learned to ski, climb mountains, and slept nights with the windows raised if he had made a more positive statement. He enslaved me to the heat for the rest of my life.

For 20 years without air conditioning my mornings as a teacher began fresh, and within 15 minutes my makeup had slid to my toes, my clothes stuck to my perspiring body, and my hair had become as stringy as that of Blanche DuBois. I would have given my right arm to wear her slip throughout the day. Tennessee Williams knew just how to write about the heat of the South. It eats at your soul, sucks energy from your pores, makes you listless.

I should be happy now. But, I'm every bit of a hermit in the summer in the Deep South. My only escape is to the cool waters of the pool at the fitness center. I can't wait for our July trip to New York, where the heat lasts from 11 am until 3:00 and then Mom Nature cools the earth down so I can relax. She's my buddy.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Do You Ever Read Good Books?

In recent weeks I've had the above question put to me, after explaining I'm a voracious reader of mystery books. "Sure," I answered, "I sometimes surprise my librarian with a known author of good books. On my last trip to the best "store" for books, I spied an author, Nicholas Evans, and found he had his fourth book The Divide published. An Englishman, he is the writer of the popular The Horse Whisperer and The Smoke Jumper.

I've also read a few of the best 100 books of the year. One of my non-mystery favorite authors is Alexander McCall Smith, author of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. This group of stories is set in Botswana and gives a delightful running account of a woman's life in the dusty country that she finds appealing.

When I was sure I was going to visit Los Alamos, I read the story of its birth, which wasn't a mystery novel, although the bomb business was kept a mystery; I want to reread Hiroshima by John Hersey.

For those who think authors like Tony Hillerman, Lee Child, Harlan Corban, and Kathy Reichs aren't real writers; well, they are. Writers of mystery and intrigue have grown in popularity over the years. Remember how popular Sherlock Holmes series were? Writers of this genre have found their place in the world of books.

I guess there's no one list called the Best Books of the Year. I've found from various websites that the best books of Publisher's Weekly will differ from that of New York Times Book Review or of Barnes and Nobles Best List. In each there are always one or two mystery writers. "Best" may mean the most sought after books, the ones with the biggest sales, or the number of published ones.

I read what will transport me to another world: biographies, travel accounts, histories, and those by foreign writers. Mostly,I just want to be entertained, not educated in politics, religion, or world events unless the time is ripe for it. I don't read self-help books, cook books, or practical books on gardening or cleaning or mixing drinks or preparing for a party, for example. Do those books help one to be a widely-read reader?

On my bookshelf there are a number of non-fiction books written by talk-show hosts, political figures, and admired people, and a few poetry and meditation books, but I've not had the inclination to read them--yet. There'll come a time when I no longer can trudge to the library or the local bookstore and will have to reach into my book collection, but until then, those books will take up space on my bookshelves.