Sari, Not Sari

High temperature yesterday – way too hot

Predicted high today – nearly as hot as yesterday

I decided not to mess around. When I went to work-out at the gym, I grabbed one of my sari skirts to change into after showering.

“You’re all dressed up today,” one of the locker room ladies said. “Where are you headed?”

“Yeah, where are you working these days? We miss you here,” said another.

“Nowhere,” I told her. “Just home. I’m trying to stay cool.”

It’s true. I’m not working there any more. It’s been all of two days and I already miss it.

It’s also true that I put on a skirt to stay cool. I learned on Sunday how comfortable these skirts can be on a hot hot day in July. I wore the skirt to church and stayed in it all day.

Last month I had ordered a number of skirts from a site called Darn Good Yarn.

I confess I fell prey to an onslaught of Facebook advertisements. However, a few of my friends had “Like”d the company so I visited.

They sell yarn (obviously) but I don’t “do” any yarn crafts. I knit one mitten once. I crocheted about a 4 inch square once. I don’t think either of those qualify.

But they also sell these wrap-around skirts made from recycled saris. No two skirts are alike.

From their website:

Each skirt is handmade by our co-ops in India out of recycled saris and turned into the beautiful finished skirt you see. With your help, these artisans are able to sustain year-round employment.

Some of my other skirts

I love the idea of repurposing and employing women in another part of the world.

Wrap-around skirts are forgiving, especially for people between sizes. If my size goes down (which is what I’m working toward), the skirts will still fit. If my size goes up (ugh), the skirts will still fit. And, if I stay the same, the skirts will still fit. They come in three sizes – regular, x-large, and child – and in varying lengths from mini to maxi.

Because every skirt is unique, you tell them the size, the colors you like, and the length. They do the rest. I have not been disappointed.

It’s rare that I do product reviews here, but this is something I love.

Also from their website:

From the artisan to the person who packs our orders, Darn Good Yarn is fueled by infusing Good into all parts of our business. From our warehouse and order fulfillment partnership with Schenectady ARC (a non-profit dedicated to providing employment for adults with developmental disabilities) to our employee benefit programs, our goal is to create a better world by caring and doing things the slightly harder way. In a world of short-cuts and cookie cutter experiences, we believe that when you slow down in order to build that this creates more sustainability and stronger communities.

I can get behind a business with those values.

ps — I think they’re running a sale for 4th of July — buy two sari skirts, get three free.

Not Your Typical Swim Camp

Several years ago the aquatics director asked me if I would be interested in running the swim camp.

“It wouldn’t be your typical swim camp,” I told her. “I don’t want to do freestyle on Monday and backstroke on Tuesday. I’d like it to be fun and a little goofy.”

She let me run with it.

I came up with the theme of “Swim Like a Beast” and chose a different animal for each day: jellyfish, golden retriever, otter, dolphin, and frog.

The best thing that came out of that camp was a game called Otter Island. My friend Katy was helping me. I told her I was thinking about a game like “Sharks and Minnows” (standard pool fare) but we could make it sharks and otters because sharks eat sea otters.

“Yes,” Katy said, “and we could put one of the big mats in to be an island where they could go for safety.”

The kids love climbing on the big floating mats.

The otter island mat

“When they’re on the island,” I said, “they run the risk of being grabbed by an eagle.” I had read that bald eagles predate on otters.

“So we can have kids on the side with noodles to act as eagles,” Katy said. “If they get tapped by a noodle, the eagle got them.”

Before long, we had concocted a game that was fairly crazy and totally fun.

I realized then how fun it is to collaborate with Katy. We both throw ideas around, bouncing them off each other, like the ping-pong balls that sometimes show up in our games.

Katy has ping-pong balls that look like eyeballs. She’s that kind of person.

I’ve never done the same theme twice for swim camp. One year we did Skull camp — and we did lots of sculling, trying to teach kids how to feel the water. One year we did the Incredibles and called it an Incredible Swim Camp.

In fact, as we were putting stuff away on the last day, Katy said to Mat, our other full-time helper with camp, “Next year it’s up to you. You could probably do the Incredible Swim Camp again.”

Mat stopped piling kickboards and said, “Wait — what?! Aren’t you two going to do it?”

Katy said, “No, this is my last year. I only did it so I could work with Sally one more time.”

I laughed. “It’s my last year, too. I only did it so I could work with Katy.”

I love collaborating with Katy.

This year’s camp was called A Quintessential Swim Camp — and we used the five classical elements: earth, water, air, fire, and æther. We did science-y things in and out of the water.

On Thursday night, as we were trying to come up with a bang-up game to end on, Katy and I bounced ideas off each other — and ended up incorporating those ping-pong balls.

“What if we had kids blowing ping-pong balls across the pool –” she said.

“Okay, that’s the air,” I said, mentally check-marking one element.

“And other kids could be splashing them or making waves in the water to make it difficult,” she said.

“That’s water,” I said. “How about it we have a third group of kids pretending they are stuck to the bottom — you know, can’t move — to represent earth?”

“Yeah! And they could be trying to grab the ping-pong ball or tag the person or something,” she said.

“It sounds chaotic,” Mat said — and it was. Chaotically fun.

Swim camp was fun — once we figured out those initial obstacles — but I’m not doing it again.

“I’ve heard that before,” one of my kids said.

This time I mean it.

Swim Camp

The other night I watched part of a Red Sox game against the Seattle Mariners with my father before I went to bed. In the morning I looked up the final score. The headline read: Sox can’t solve Leake as Rodriguez struggles

Leake was the pitcher for Seattle, and he has more pitches than numbers on a Bingo card.

“What do you think he’s going to throw this time?” one commentator would ask the other.

“I don’t know,” the other replied.

Apparently the Red Sox didn’t know either. Pitcher vs. Batter is such a mind game.

Seattle won 7-2.

Meh — baseball is a long season. I wasn’t too dejected.

I’ve been procrastinating planning swim camp for a while. I set up two meetings last week to discuss the nuts-and-bolts of swim camp with the staff that I would have. We planned activities and scheduled who would be where when. This is the 4th year that I’ve run the swim camp. I wasn’t cocky, but felt like I had a pretty good handle on it.

Plus I knew that a curveball or two would be thrown at me.

It goes with the territory.

Yesterday (Sunday) Bud and my children were covering little signs I had made with clear contact paper so they would withstand a week in the pool.

Last Wednesday I had 22 kids registered so I planned for 28. You never know.

This  morning I got up early to cut up our watermelon snack. 30 wedges should be plenty. I put it in a big bowl and brought it to the pool along with tape for my signs, sandals for my feet, and my whistle for silencing the small masses.

Curveball #1 — It turns out that I’m not allowed to tape anything on the walls. No worries, I thought. The signs were cheesy anyway.

Curveball #2 — Between last Wednesday and Monday (today), the camp had grown from 22 to 31. I didn’t have enough supplies for some of the activities. No worries, I thought. I have several sets of siblings and siblings can share.

Two of our three pools.

Curveball-slider-fastball-knuckleball-all-rolled-into-one — Two of the three pools were not available to me. AND the pool that was available was also being shared with adult lap swimmers and another camp. Maybe I could have three lanes.

I may have started hyperventilating.

Changeup pitch — Over one-third of the swimmers who signed up for my SWIM camp could not swim. One of the pools we couldn’t use was the shallow teaching pool. Now I had safety concerns.

We were told that we should have asked. Asked to use the pool for swim camp? A swim camp scheduled by the facility?

Apparently, it was my fault for not asking. Asking wouldn’t have changed anything. It just would have prepared me.

I was speechless.

So we fumbled (<– sorry, football analogy) through the morning.

The kids had fun.

Who knew that kids could have fun in such circumstances?

And I went home still feeling totally blindsided.

The prompt for today is my greatest regret. My greatest regret today was agreeing to run the swim camp.

It’s not my greatest regret, though. That has to do with far bigger things — missed opportunities with people I love.

However, today, I’m reeling.

The Red Sox couldn’t solve Leake, and I couldn’t solve Monday at swim camp.

BUT — tomorrow is a new day, with no mistakes in it yet. (Anne of Green Gables)

I can’t wait.


Things That Make Me Happy/Things That Make Me Sad

In no particular order:

My children make me happy — especially when they’re together having fun.

Half my children on Father’s Day

Daisies and baby’s breath and buttercups growing by the side of the road make me happy.
Garbage – cups, cans, bottles, bags, etc – thrown out of a car window makes me sad.

The physician patiently listening to my father’s time travel narrative from baseball to Africa to Boston, and asking appropriate questions like there was nothing out of the ordinary in his story makes me happy.
People who ask “How’s your father doing?” and then walk away before I have a chance to answer make me sad.

My father chuckling and outright laughing at Gary Larson’s The Far Side makes me happy.
My father making many mistakes on the crossword puzzle and not recognizing them as mistakes makes me sad.

Wispy clouds in a blue sky make my happy.

A dog with a wagging tail makes me happy.

Hearing from friends makes me happy.

Being able to allow my father to stay in his home makes me happy.
Giving up my job at the pool (so that I can be home all the time) makes me sad.

Jeans that fit make me happy.
A hole in the pocket of my favorite jeans makes me sad.

Having friends from other countries and other cultures makes me happy.
Politics void of compassion make me sad.

A doe peeking her head above the grass to watch me as I walk on the road (and then learning that she recently gave birth to fawn) makes me happy.

Can you find the doe?

Posting something on my blog makes me happy.
Too much busyness makes me sad.

Three Words

Years ago, I bought Helen one of those pillowcases. It said, “Eat. Sleep. Swim.”

Like that’s all there was to life.

Thank goodness, she didn’t adhere to it or the world would be less one fine nurse.

Today’s culture is into distilling life into three words to live by. A quick Google search revealed these:

Live. Laugh. Love.

Dream. Plan. Do.

Imagine. Believe. Achieve.

Learn. Live. Hope.

Smile. Sparkle. Shine.

I can see the value in three short words. Those words can be become a mantra. You know, to “Remember. Speak. Repeat.” when the going gets tough.

A dementia caregiver’s three words might be –

Protect. Assist. Repeat.

with Repeat being ambiguous. Repeating the act of protecting (from harm) and assisting (with daily activities), or repeating the same instructions, or listening to the same story repeated. There’s lots of repeating in caregiving. There’s lots of repeating in caregiving.

For myself, three mental health habits which I try to incorporate into each day are

Read. Pray. Walk.

For general healthy living, I would say

Eat (unprocessed wholesome foods)

Exercise (every day)

Enjoy (take time to relax)

Love is the underpinning for all of life. I don’t include it in my three words, not because I don’t believe in it, but because it goes unsaid. Love always.

I think this came from Lancelot Andrewes, and I apply it to love —

In every imagination of my heart:
The words of my lips
The works of my hands
The ways of my feet

Love could be distilled to: Words. Works. Ways.

What are your three words?


The Refrigerator

Our refrigerator is slowly dying.

I picked out a new one, and ordered it.

Before the delivery guys came, I cleaned the old fridge, throwing away old and unidentifiable items. I disposed of leftovers that had gotten pushed to the back and overlooked until they turned pretty colors. I tossed out salad dressings whose “Best by” date was two years ago.

I was ready.

The new refrigerator arrived on a hot, hot day in late May. The temperature hovered around 85, the humidity around 80.

They backed the delivery truck to the house and I went out to meet them. “Can we see the place this is going?” one asked, and I showed them in.

They nodded approvingly at the large sliders they would bring the refrigerator through. One pulled out a tape measure and measured the other two doorways it would have to pass. They looked at the dying refrigerator and asked if they were hauling that one away.

Yes, yes, yes. Everything was a go.

They wiggled the old fridge out and put it on a hand truck. The whole process gave them a trial run (in reverse) of getting the new fridge in. It all went smoothly.

While they lugged the old one out to the truck, I quickly cleaned the floor underneath since I knew it wouldn’t see the light of day for a while.

They brought in the new fridge, shiny white and wrapped in plastic, and a box that they set on the table.

“This is your ice maker,” one of them said to me.

“Wait — what?” I asked. “Isn’t it already installed?”

“No, you have to call a plumber for that,” he said, and nicely explained all the reasons that was so.

“But when I called and ordered, no one said anything about that,” I told them.

They apologized as they unwrapped the new refrigerator, but I knew they couldn’t do anything about it.

As they tried to wiggle the new fridge in the old spot, they stopped to realign many times. Too many times. I knew there was a problem.

“Ma’am,” the spokesman said, “we have a problem. See how this is bowing out here?” he asked, pointing to the side panel from the cupboards. “This unit is about a 1/4″ too wide. And up here,” he pointed at the cupboard above, “you’re a good inch too low.”

I looked. He was right. We stood there silently studying the refrigerator that didn’t fit.

He finally broke the silence. “What do you want us to do?” he asked.

“Are there choices?” I asked.

“There are always choices,” he said, smiling and dripping with sweat.

The other guy was sweating even more. He said, “I think your husband can fix this.” I don’t think he wanted me to consider the other choice.

“We can leave it here and your husband can make some modifications so it will fit,” the first guy said, and I looked at him doubtfully, not doubting my husband’s skill of course, but doubting this old house. “Or we can bring the old one back in.”

The other delivery guy was pleading with me with his eyes.

I sighed.

“I am so sorry,” I said. “Can I fix you some ice water or something?”

They both looked at me, waiting for me to say the dreaded words.

“I think I want the old one back,” I said.

I walked behind them, carrying the ice-maker-in-a-box so they wouldn’t forget it as they hauled the new refrigerator out. Then they brought the old one in again.


Here’s a peek inside my refrigerator this morning. Nobody can tell that it was recently cleaned out.


What’s in the Bag?

What’s in the bag beside my chair?
I’ll tell you what I keep in there —

Three books
Five journals
Two mechanical pencils
Four loose pens — two black, two blue
A set of six black graphic liner pens
Another set of three in sepia tone
A set of eight Pilot G2 gel pens in varying colors
A recipe for shortbread,
Morning prayers from Laity Lodge,
My portable hard drive
A portable charger,
An I-love-you note
A thank you note
Blank postcards
Advil
Zinc cold remedy
A sticker
A pin
A travel lock
Loose change totalling 86¢
Old shopping lists
Expired coupons
Old grocery store receipts

Clearly I keep too much stuff
So I said, “Enough is enough!”

The last three items on my list
Without much fanfare were dismissed.