When the Whirlpool Corporation came out with a consumer version of the front loading washing machine, I set my sites upon it like a laser. What could be better than having your own laundromat washer at home? I couldn’t wait to get one.

I’m not sure when my fascination with the clothes washing process began. I remember watching my mother do laundry in a big old washing machine with a ringer on the side (Yes, I am that old.). It was mesmerizing to watch the clothes get drawn under the soapy water by the big, broad agitator. I also remember trips to the laundromat. Buying the adorable mini boxes of detergent from the vending machine, putting the coins in the slots to start the machines and the clicking sounds as the machines went through their cycles.  And then there was the smell. No matter what detergents or other additives were being used, there was always the smell of clean. Freshly washed clothes from the washing machine and warm clothes, right out of the dryer. Heavenly.

We bought our first front loading pair (washer and dryer) with our tax return one year. I dragged a chair into the laundry room to watch load after load roll and tumble, first in the washer and then in the dryer. It was completely captivating. Certainly better than any TV show. My son even wondered where I was. “Watching the laundry spin,” he was told. 

There is something so soothing about watching clothes roll through the soapy water. The sound is so relaxing and watching it is entrancing to me. I’m sure there’s some psychological theory behind this obsession but no matter. It hurts no one, bothers no one and is a wonderful stress reliever. In these days of “mindfulness” I find peace in laundry.

So if you need me for anything, check the laundry room. 😊

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Blank Book

I do not recall when I bought it.
A lofty New Year’s resolution from long ago to keep a journal.
Turns out, I didn’t have that much to say on a daily basis and abandoned the book.

So, the book has been shuffled in and out of various boxes and piles but never discarded.

And here another New Year.
This time with an interest in poetry.

The book has been opened.
Let the exploration begin.

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After months or reading, classes, hive assembly and painting, yesterday I became a beekeeper. I picked up my pre-ordered box of bees and brought them home. And promptly got stung. In the face. Yes, I am truly a novice and if I ever thought this would be a breeze, the bees put me in my place. Fair enough and lesson learned. They are just doing what bees do when they feel threatened. After several days locked up in a box, they were a little testy. So, after doing things the “Murphy Way” (the wrong way first and then the correct way) I started over.

Undeterred, I fashioned a makeshift bee veil out of some mesh I had in my sewing room and my hoodie cinched tightly around my head, donned leather gloves and lit my smoker. I gathered up the box, put it into our little red wagon and proceeded out to the hive. Thanks to a bit of smoke, the bees were much calmer and I was able to open the door in the box.  Out they came with great speed. I could almost hear their relief at being free. For the rest of the day, I left them alone to roam thier new surroundings, eat, drink and generally make themselves at home. I checked on them in the evening (approaching from behind like I was supposed to) and they were still busily flying in and out. And the sound. The low buzzing just sounded happy and content to me. That’s a good sign, I think.

This afternoon, my mentor will be coming out to supervise me as I put the bees into my hive. I’ll try to keep a lid on my excitement and do what I know I should. I am excited and nervous. I know I’ll make mistakes in this new endeavor. I also know I will learn a ton by those mistakes and I look forward to it.

A new adventure. Lots to learn and lots to see. I can’t wait!

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Today is the day for lofty and mostly empty resolutions. Diet, exercise more, organize, on and on. All made with the best of intent and sincerity yet people being people, rarely attained. I haven’t made an actual resolution in years. Despite my best efforts, round about February, whatever I had planned on doing has gone by the wayside.

This year, I have decided to revisit the resolution tradition but with a bit of a twist. I have decided to try and be better; a better person, do a better job (professionally), embrace my creativity better, make better choices, do better things.

We are faced with choices all day, every day. What if we put more thought into these choices and chose the better option? Things might take longer or be more involved but isn’t “better” a good result? What would happen then? Whatever we were doing would be done with hopefully a better outcome, we’d feel better about the effort put into it and maybe others would feel better about it as well? Sensing a theme here? 😀

I dare say that striving for “better” just might end up in weight loss, an improved diet, organization, positive outlook, etc., etc. without even really setting out for those to begin with? Maybe not but I think being “better” can only end positively. We should go easy on ourselves. Be BETTER and see what happens. The results could surprise us.

My wish for everyone is a BETTER year. Whatever that means for you. Happy New Year!

There…that’s better. 🙂


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I Am Not a Runner

I participated in the Boilermaker 15K in Utica, New York on July 10, 2011. Notice I did not say that I ran the race. I did not. Despite my best effort, I knew as soon as my foot hit the pavement that I didn’t have what it took for the distance. Although this was somewhat disheartening, it was not surprising to me. Several weeks prior, I had set out on the roads around my house on a seven-mile run. The longest distance I had ever attempted. I ran the majority of the distance with small walk breaks only occasionally. I pushed my mind and my body very hard and finished in two hours and fifteen minutes. It was not pleasant, I hurt in places I didn’t know I could but I was satisfied and felt that I could do the 9.3 miles necessary for the Boilermaker.

The race was a 50/50 proposition for me; I either “had it” and it would be a good race or I didn’t and it wouldn’t be so great. I didn’t have it. There was no particular reason for this other than the fact that I had too much time to dwell on it. I run well when I just do it. No standing around waiting, fretting, etc.  Anyone that has ever participated in the Boilermaker knows that the crowd is large (this year the largest in race history) with a lot of waiting involved. Not a good scenario for me. I did try. I tried all of my usual mind games and tricks to coerce myself to find my groove but it just never happened. And I realized quickly that I was fine with this. Relieved even! The stress of training, trying to fit in hill runs and workouts after work when I was tired, hydrating, etc. all seemed to fall away as I cruised the course. The people of Utica were MOST supportive with many still cheering me on even as I heard the crickets chirping in the rising heat. I got to really see parts of the city that the runners never do even though they had just been down those very same streets. I didn’t get to appreciate all of the entertainment that the runners got. By the time I rolled through, many of the infamous bands, dancers, etc. had packed up and left. I took water and ice from almost every child that offered it and I did get to see the clean-up efforts of the volunteers. They do an outstanding job of dispatching all the cups, Popsicle sticks and assorted gel wrappers and other debris that we participants left in our wake. BRAVO to the volunteers and THANK YOU!

I finished second from the last in a field of approximately 11,000 runners. 2,000 did not finish at all. They either dropped out of the race or pulled themselves out via one of the medical aid stations. I hope they are OK regardless of their reason. Finishing was my goal and I did that. What I got out of the race was much more however. I realized after attempting it that I am NOT a distance runner. I much prefer puttering up and down the roads around my house, at my own pokey pace. I do not have a competitive nature and organized races are not for me. I do excel at being a spectator and will continue to cheer on my running family and friends as they run their hearts out and their feet off. I will continue to “run” when the mood strikes me but I have no inclination to attempt a long distance again. This has given me a new appreciation for getting fit and being active and I will continue to do that. I can check this race off of my Bucket List and move on to the next thing.

Sky-diving, anyone? 🙂

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A few weeks ago I turned fifty. A few days after that I shaved my head. One did not preclude the other however. This was not any sort of midlife crisis. It was pure curiosity. I have long pondered what my head looked like. I felt lumps and bumps and wondered if they were as pronounced as they felt. I decided to take the opportunity of my fiftieth birthday to find out. Only one way to do that. I have learned many things from this experience. First, I discovered that I have a rather pretty head. It is nice and round with slight symmetrical grooves down both sides of the top; I guess where my skull fused when I was a baby. I also have a pretty impressive scar on the right side from an attack by a clothesline pulley four years ago (that story for another blog post). My second observation is that my hair wasn’t the light brown I thought it was. Even as it was falling in my lap at the initial shearing, it was a dark, steel gray. When did it change color? I have no idea. I’ve kept short hair for 20+ years and used assorted styling products to spike it so it may have changed color years ago but I just never noticed it. The third thing I have learned is that, at least on my head, gray hair grows faster than the rest. It is about a quarter-inch long now but the gray hairs stick ever so slightly above the rest and sparkle in the sunlight. Fourth, my hair has grown through stages. Initially, it felt like Velcro. It was rather coarse and hard. At that point I had considered making my head “interactive” using felt pieces cut in the shape of the continents or perhaps celestial bodies. A quick game of “Pin the Continent on Monica’s Head” anyone? My hair now has the feeling of velvet. It is very soft and I find myself patting and rubbing it quite often. Others do as well. Depending on the person, I will allow this. Close friends only although strangers have presumed that they could as well. When my son was a baby, he used to fall asleep with one hand rubbing his head. I can completely understand this feeling now. It is quite relaxing. The most amazing realization I have had since embarking on this adventure is the reaction of others to it. While I did this for purely personal (and nosey) reasons, there is the expectation among some that I am making some sort of “political” statement much like Sinead O’Connor did years ago. Others have concluded that I am sick. Still others presumed that I did it for attention or that some sort of accident occurred requiring me to cut off my hair. While I appreciate people’s concern for my well-being and get amusement from the rest, it seems almost anti-climactic to admit that I just wanted to see what my head looked like. There should be a more interesting story? This, of course meets with more skepticism and even derision. I have gotten animosity from some as well. The negativity has surprised me, I must say. Why would anyone truly care about MY hair? What does it matter? It grows back. And what does it say about our expectations of “beauty” that men can shave their heads at will but woman can/should not? It is after all, MY head and MY hair. Should you find it so egregious, avert your gaze! I have no reason to stay bald. My question has been answered and frankly, maintaining a bald head when one is not genetically predisposed to it, is time consuming. I’d have to shave it every other day for the true Yul Brynner look. I’m not that ambitious. It has been very enlightening and an interesting experiment over all but now it’s done.  My hair will never be long. I don’t have the patience for that. I’m not sure what style I’ll go with now. Oh…the possibilities!

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Hello world!

It strikes me as somewhat arrogant to think that anyone would be interested in what I have to say. However, I have also learned that sometimes it’s a good thing to get things out of one’s brain lest they fester or preoccupy us. Sometimes we have to purge ourselves of anger, share an accomplishment or happiness or just write. Writing should NEVER be a meaningless exercise. So, thank you for coming to my blog. Let me know what you think.  This should be fun. 🙂 Monica

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