Tag Archives: exercise

Leaving Arizona, A Lament

As I sort through accumulated treasures of the last eight years ready for the removal men to box up our lives and whisk them away, I tear up now and again. I have petitioned for this move to England and yet . . . . we have been comfortable in our Arizona bubble of the good life.

My days consist of meals out, coffee with friends, swimming, shopping, yoga, reading, writing, blogging, walking amongst the desert flora, book club, watching wildlife from our balcony, writing group and wearing lightweight to barely any clothing all year round.  What’s not to like?

Unbearably hot summers are alleviated with air-conditioning or going north. Our neighbor expressed it as eight months of heaven and four months of hell. Even now when it is 105° outside we’re comfortable, until the electricity bill arrives.

Our quest for the last eight years has been to look for the perfect place to live. With family spread around the world, there is no such place for us but all other factors considered we came close to it in southern Arizona. The weather has been kind to us in our ridge top apartment as we’ve watched monsoons and dust storms sweep through the valley from the comfort of our balcony. While the rest of the country endured an insufferably long winter we put the heat on now and again and wore trousers instead of shorts.

All photos taken from our balcony. Please click to enlarge. Go on! You can’t see them properly unless you do, especially the dust storm and the pink rain!

The next few months, year? two years? will consist of uncertainty, insecurity and temporary accommodation tempered by the warmth of family and friends. At least I hope they will be pleased to see us.

I have made a pact with himself, the green card-toting Englishman, who apart from his views on politics and guns could be a native Arizonian.  For two or three months each winter – possibly beginning December 26th – we will cross the English channel and head south until we reach sunshine.

Right now I am in my anxiety default position – brain freeze and inertia. I gaze at our apartment with Native American and Mexican decorating touches and my American Southwest photos adorning the walls and don’t want to touch a thing.

Our year’s hiatus from travelling, cocooned in comfortable stationary housing, has turned into two-and-a-half years of spinning our wheels.

Which way now? The UK beckons.

I need a new blog title. What do you suggest?

Exercise for Dummies

Namaste! Tree pose with cactus arms.
Namaste! Tree pose with cactus arms.

“What are you doing?” He didn’t need to preface his sentence with “Now . .” It was implied by his tone.

“I’m shoving a magazine down my pants. What does it look like I’m doing?”

“No need to be sarcastic.”

“I’m using the magazine as padding to protect my spine from the hula hoop.” My new waist whittler had killer knobbly bits on the inside. To demonstrate, I gave the hoop a little spin.

“See? No pain. Whoops!” The fruit bowl took a hit and needed to be pushed back a bit. With the table cleared, myself carefully positioned between bed, window and wall, and Jimmy well out of the way, I could get my hooping exercise indoors instead of looking a fool outdoors.

I tried again. “If I put the magazine in my pants, keep my feet firmly planted, put my hips into it, concentrate and don’t let the hoop slow down, there’ll be no damage to me or the trailer.”

“That has to be one of the most stupid things you’ve ever done.”

“Thanks!” Who, after all, wants to be predictable?

“You’ve already injured yourself once.”

That was my leg. I can’t hurt my leg. The table’s in the way.”

“I still think it’s stupid if you’re risking hurting your back.” He’s trying to insult me or frighten me into stopping. It isn’t working.

Exercise is an issue in our confined quarters. We walk when we can, I swim when there’s a pool on the campsite and we both do sit ups about every six months. Even with constant tweaks to our diet to reduce calories and improve nutrition, our waistlines are expanding.

I worry about the blood pressure and obesity implications of eating a big meal then taking one step to the couch to have dessert and vegetate in front of the telly for the rest of the evening.

With Jimmy away for two weeks I had contemplated our lifestyle and found it lacking. In the midst of doing what I wanted, when I wanted to (instead of falling into step with the tour director/camp commandant) I exercised frequently and cleaned up my diet between bouts of reading trashy magazines and watching trashy TV.

“Guess what I had for lunch today?” I had asked Jimmy during one of our international phone calls.

“Please don’t tell me.”

“Sautéed spinach with Parmesan cheese slivers on top.”

“Oh God help me.”

“It was yummy.”

“The thought of it makes me feel sick.”

“Tonight I’m having jumbo shrimp braised with garlic, onion, ginger, Jalapeños courgettes and spinach.”

“I won’t come home.”

“Tomorrow I’m having a crab cake.” Jimmy doesn’t like seafood, shellfish in particular, so I gave him all the details because there’s an unruly streak in me.

Back to the exercise matter, it is only four steps from our dining “room,” or living “room” or “bedroom” to our toilet. We joke about going upstairs to bed. It’s one step up. My pedometer registered just 151 steps from late afternoon to bedtime.

Where’s that hula hoop? And my magazine padding?

How do you include exercise in your daily routine?

Can you imagine me hula-hooping in this same space? It wasn't a great success.
Can you imagine me hula-hooping in this same space? It wasn’t a great success.

A Pox on California Roads . . . and Hula Hoops #2

Mt. Shasta, California
As if we didn’t have enough trouble already, I just had to stand in the middle of the road to take a photo of Mt. Shasta. Himself was having kittens.

California roads had put us in a predicament and would be our complete undoing without an on-the-spot repair to our trailer.

We were halfway to a campsite in northern California about to enter the wilderness of the Siskiyou Mountains. Our water tanks were empty-ish in preparation for mountain climbing and our batteries were big dead weights barely capable of lighting one light. Our only company for miles and miles and miles was trees.

Our bed slide was out, the runner was broken and the slide wouldn’t go back in.

As the California sun shone down on our tin box house we grew hotter and hotter trying to affect a makeshift repair. Our hearts were hammering and we were gasping and shaking with exhaustion.

It had occurred to me that we could be stranded for days with no electricity or water while help was summoned and parts ordered from Hoboken or Timbuktu though that thought was not articulated.

Nor did Jimmy share his bleak thoughts with me. We’d pulled the slide out possibly for the last time ever.

With the slide pulled out we couldn’t tow the trailer. If we pushed it back in the runner would break causing more damage.

We took the only option open to us.

We let bloody-mindedness take over.

The decision was reached by mutual unspoken assent.

We tried again and again and again. We just needed to unscrew one screw from the ceiling and put a washer on it.

Again. Gasp. Gasp. Gasp.

“Take a break,” I begged Jimmy. He was bright red in the face. I was probably the same but we each think we are invincible and don’t easily accept our limitations.

We tried again. Pull runner, engage screwdriver, grunt.

And again. And again.

“It moved!” Was I hallucinating? “Try it again!” I said excitedly, holding the screwdriver in place ready for Jimmy to put some muscle into it. The screw head moved a miniscule amount.

“Again!”

Each monumental effort, with both of us poised awkwardly and straining produced only about and eighth of a turn before the screwdriver would jump out and skitter across the runner. The screw head was acquiring a nice polished sheen and losing its sharp cross threads.

Seeing me shaking with exhaustion, heat and anxiety Jimmy called the next break and I sat quietly with my head and arms flopping down at rest.

“I took the screw out of the other runner last week. Do you want to know how long it is?” Without raising my head I let my eyes swivel round to his hand where he held his thumb and forefinger four inches apart. Needing eight colossal attempts from both of us to turn the screw one revolution, I wasn’t sure we’d survive the repair.

We let despair replace any stabs at conversation or conjecture and stared vacantly until the panting slowed, then resumed battle.

As long as the screw moved a tiny amount we were motivated to keep trying. The sight of a whole inch of screw poking from the ceiling turned the tide of the war and we got a second wind. The next inch was easier and I twiddled the screw out the last two inches with my fingers.

It only remained to put the washer on and screw the runner back to the ceiling. Flush with triumph, Jimmy decided to take the next screw out and put a washer on it as well. So pumped up with success was he that he put three washers on it.

It was a good idea, in theory, until we tried to push the slide in but the extra washers blocked the slide. It wouldn’t go in.

A cartoon of my expression is appropriate at this point:

Awooga.
Nooooooo! (Photo credit: Profound Whatever)

It was a minor blip as it happened and easily remedied. Victory was ours.

Our reward for perseverance was Sequoia National Park and among other BIG trees the General Sherman Tree – the largest tree in the world – not the tallest or the widest but the largest in volume.

The top of the General Sherman Tree:

sequoia 111

And here’s General Sherman’s bottom:

sequoia 110

See the little people above for perspective.

If you’re worried about us we had the runner replaced. And after a few more bruises I gave the hula hoop to Goodwill and took up yoga.

Why Did The Crab Run Away?

Surf walking for exercise in the Florida Keys, I missed the opportunity to snap “piggy-backing” crabs as I’d left my camera behind. Mr. Crab, in six inches of water, reared up on his hind legs, claws thrust aggressively at me, while another set of legs clamped Mrs. to his undercarriage. He must have been all of four inches across to my five-and-a-half feet, but he was ready to take me on to defend his wife. While I was deciding whether to laugh or back off, he took the initiative and scuttled away, still in position with Mrs., possibly to get it on with her under cover of the sea grasses.

You caught me! I'm embarrassed now.
You caught me! I’m embarrassed now.

The camp site at Long Key afforded many of these marine life views as the ocean bottom sloped off so shallowly. Other people waded out several hundred yards to waist depth but I would only go to a depth where I could still see my feet clearly. Stepping on something bitey or squishy or stubbing my toe on a rock or coral is not my idea of fun. And why bother when I could amuse myself for hours in shin deep water?

I would pass the same people each day and smile and wave, or stop to chat. As I passed a mangrove tree I was called back to it with, “Did you see the frog?” A frankly artificial looking frog was sunning himself on a limb. “I’ve seen you with your camera. I thought you might like to take his picture.” Indeed I would. Not until I looked at the picture on the computer screen days later did I notice that the tiny frog, perhaps an inch and a half long, was wearing weeny “black rubber gloves.”orange and black frog on a mangrove tree, Florida Keys

Moments after the rubber-clad frog encounter, I turned to see a snipe in stealthy pursuit of lunch. Wading slowly through the shallow water, he would plunge his head in, come up and Gulp! What was it? Too quick for me. I snap, snap, snapped with little hope of getting a decent shot as I was shooting into the sun but with the potential to take hundreds of photos and the delete function to get rid of my duds I carried on. What I caught was Mr. Snipe dangling a little crab in his long beak, the sunlight shining right through it, twinkling like a tragic Christmas tree ornament.snipe with crab, Florida Keys

Squadrons of pelicans flying overhead became “5 3 2 squadron” or “5 4 2 squadron”

 . . . . or 5 5 4 squadron . . .
. . . . or 5 5 4 squadron . . .

to denote their formation and numbers or “Oh, look!” when there are too many to count. A single flying pelican was a “squadron leader.”

“Please tell me you are not going to take another picture of a pelican (or heron, parrot, cormorant, egret or ibis),” himself begged. I couldn’t help myself.

Several hideously large insects and spiders we were unable to identify were captured from a safe distance with a zoom lens.

Alligators were photographed in the same way. You can count their teeth in the photo knowing I haven’t knelt down in front of them as it appears, but was standing on a boardwalk, behind a railing, six feet up and twenty feet away.

Fancy a wrestling match darlin'?
Fancy a wrestling match darlin’?