House Cat


Back legs on tip toe, anticipating the next stroke,

The tip of her tail flicking contempt at the dog,

Eyes half closed in contemplation,

As she lies in the letter box on my desk.

Impatient yowls for attention,

Boneless and relaxed in the terrace sunshine,

Purr of content and persuasion,

Curled in a ball on my bed.

She is cat of the house,

Owner of canine and humans,

Queen of her domain and hall,

Graciously gracing our lives.

KJ Combs 14/01/06

The Fat Lady Needs To Exit Stage Right, Now!


Over the past four years, I have lost 168 pounds and change. Yes, I feel better, have more energy, look better, and enjoy my grandchildren more. However there are a few drawbacks that never occurred to me before hand.

Skin. Losing weight, even as slowly as I have, leaves a lot of saggy, ugly, rumply skin. Bat wings for upper arms, skin that sags down from thighs to knees, and it just keeps on going long after I stop moving. Totally gross, totally embarrassing. And wrinkles are much more prominent too. I always had a smooth face, now I have wrinkles that I never had before. The upside is I look a lot thinner, the down side is learning a whole new way to apply makeup – when I bother that is.

Clothes. For years, like most fat women, I tried to hide my weight in baggy clothes, ugly dresses, and lots of jeans and t-shirts. Underwear was pretty much limited to grannie panties, and because I am rather well endowed up top, very boring super strong support white bras. Now, I nearly have a panic attack when I go into a store to buy clothes. I have gone from a size 28-30 in Women’s (that means fat lady clothes in girl code) to a size 14-16. But because I still have the well endowed parts to contend with, I get a larger size top. I don’t like tight clothing, it generally shows every lump and bump, cellulite, and muffin top on a fat lady. But, I find if I get looser clothes, they fall off me, which can be horribly humiliating if it happens in public. Oh, and shoes. Did you know that when you lose a lot of weight your shoe size gets smaller? Neither did I, but I have had to replace a large portion of my shoes lately. I’ve gone from a 8.5 Wide to a size 7 average. How freaky is that?

Temperature. I have long passed menopause, but temperature change really causes me issues. If it is cold, I freeze when the same temperature in my fat lady stage didn’t bother me at all, because I was always too warm. I forget about that and pay for it by shivering constantly. Wind also has an effect on me. I used to relish the cool wind, not so much now. Besides, I actually got pushed hard enough to almost fall the other day. I am so used to being sturdy enough to stand up to anything up to about 40 miles an hour winds. Now I just feel cold and like a wimp. Heat still makes me miserable. I hate hot and humid climates, but I don’t get miserable as fast as I used to, and can actually stand hotter weather than before.

Hair. I have always had rather thin hair. Now, because I am healthier, stronger, and I actually take my meds and vitamins every day, my hair is thicker. So I have had to learn to change my whole regime while washing my hair. It is hard to break a habit of over 30 years. I keep heading for my old shampoo and conditioner when I simply do not need that brand any longer. It is, well, annoying to have a routine totally changed.

Food. I didn’t have surgery to lose weight. I became very, very ill. Even the doctors didn’t think I would pull through. Fooled them. Wasn’t my time yet. Anyway, I used to crave sweets, sodas, carbohydrates, and fatty foods. I could eat a full meal at any restaurant in America. I was always hungry, and I used food as my drug of choice to cope with life. Now, food – eh – whatever. I don’t often eat every day, and I rarely have more than one meal a day. I make it a policy to eat only half of what is on my plate when we go out to dinner. Because half of a serving is a bit more than a serving for one person should be. The standard meal is FAR too much. At least it is using American sized servings.

Attitude and Mood Swings. I have never been so easily angered as I am now. Part of that is hormonal because everything is still out of whack. But a lot of it has to do with my attitude. While I have never been one to be a door mat, I would often allow my feelings about being fat make me want to stay in the background and unnoticed. Today, I am pretty much one of those old ladies who says what she thinks and devil take the hindmost. Whereas, I used to stay quiet, I am now more than willing to debate and do verbal battle with those who oppose my stance on everything from politics to dealing with bratty kids. So, on one hand, I am dealing with moodiness, and on the other I am dealing with trying to shut the hell up and stay out of trouble. Not doing too well on either issue.

The up side to weight loss is better health, the downside is that my entire lifestyle had to change and catch up with my body changes. I sometimes don’t recognize myself in the mirror. I sometimes think that I am fooling no one, and the fat lady still resides in my mirror and every one knows it but me. I sometimes feel overwhelmed with the way everything changed and continues to change as I keep losing weight.

I guess, because I can spot a phony a mile away, and because I don’t suffer fools gladly, that I tend to step back from every compliment. Like most fat ladies, people would compliment me on my eyes, color of my clothes, hair, but never say I was pretty. Now, folks do say I am pretty, but the fat lady hasn’t sung and exited stage right just yet. I really wish she would shut the hell up so I can get on with who I am becoming. Hateful cow.

“Inaction is not an excuse for failure to thrive.”

“Inaction is not an excuse for failure to thrive.”

I’ve noticed lately that a lot of people my age tend to simply stop. They stop doing fun things, they stop being involved, they stop thinking and growing intellectually. They just stop. Then they sit about and complain about how boring life is, how hard it is to do things they used to do, how much they wish they had done such and such before they got too old. They are failing to thrive in the late years of their lives. And there is no excuse for that- period.

I know, things are a bit harder to do when knees hurt,backs don’t want to bend, and the body gets tired much easier than it did at the age of forty. We all have to slow down,but that doesn’t mean we have to stop. It may take longer, but there is no reason not to at least try.

Years ago there was a movie entitled Cocoon followed by another, Cocoon Returns. If you haven’t seen them, I suggest watching them at least once. It starred a lot of “stars” who were getting quite elderly. All stuck in a nursing home, waiting to die, fussing at one another, etc. Until things change due to a visit from the aliens. Look, I know it is really a sappy story, but what I loved about it was the willingness of almost all of the elderly folks to embrace that which was different. If their youth didn’t return, their joy for life certainly did. And, at the end of the day, their inaction became action, and their lives infinitely better.

Another movie I loved was Driving Miss Daisy, a stellar performance by one and all. Again, another character that defies the tendency to just sit down and stop. Fried Green Tomatoes is a fantastic film. Kathy Bates and Jessica Tandy were great together and the flashback between Mary-Louise Parker and Mary Stuart Masterson is equally dynamic. At the end of the day, we are still not sure which woman Jessica Tandy was as the elderly friend of Kathy Bates. Ambiguity saturates the film, while turning Katy Bates’ character from a meek doormat into a woman filled with confidence. And, of course, the character played by Shirley Mclaine in Steel Magnolias is just like I want to be when I get old.

I see many older folks off and doing things all over the world. They travel, explore, serve missions of compassion – regardless of sore knees and aching backs. They move, act, and they live every minute of every day. That is what I want to do too.

When our youngest son went off to college, my husband and I decided to work our way around the world. Eight years later, we finally returned to the US. As we were raising our granddaughter, she went right along with us. We lived in London, Hong Kong, and New Zealand, and only came back to the US due to health issues and the awful Socialized Medical care in NZ. We traveled all over each region and were enriched many times over by our experiences.

But I was in my forty’s when we did that. Now I am sixty, and it is going to become more difficult to do some of the things we did. So, we chose other things to do so we could travel. A cruise or four, a road trip across the US, and our big adventure this year is to travel across country by train. I don’t hike for miles any longer, but I sure can sit and enjoy the view from the train.

So there is no excuse not to thrive, people. Just get up, take a few steps, find a hobby that fulfills you, volunteer as a surrogate grandmother to rock babies at the hospital. Volunteer at the schools or libraries to help kids with their reading skills. Go help out a nursing home if you have a talent like playing the piano. There are a multitude of things you can do to overcome the lack of inertia and sedentary inaction. For me, being with my grandchildren is one of my greatest motivators. I write, I hang out on social media sites, I keep up with friends and work on my family history, and I am planning on taking art lessons. I have always wanted to learn how to paint. That will be so much fun!

So, you are old, so what? Inaction is not an excuse for failure to thrive. Just because your body is starting to creak and moan, it doesn’t mean your brain isn’t functioning. (Unless you have a serious condition, of course.) With all the medical miracles out today, most of us will live well into our eighties or nineties.

I have a friend who is ninety-eight. For the several decades, she has traveled the world following the performances of the operas of Wagner. All on her own, she would jump on a plane and off she would go to Italy, France, Germany, or any place in the world that the operas were being performed. What an amazing lady

who just kept on going like an Eveready Battery. She is running down now, but she is still in control of her life and decided to go home until the end of her days. It is heartbreaking, but at the same time, what a life she has had! Even now, she keeps busy with doing her family history and chatting with her friends and family.

Even if you are homebound, unable to walk, unable to drive, so what? There are a million things you can do to keep your brain healthy and busy. Never just stop and wait to die. We all have a finite amount of time here in this life. I could spend it worrying about death, or I can just get on with living while I am still here.

The more we let inaction rule our lives, the less likely we are to live a long life. Not just because our bodies need to move to function well, but because our brains atrophy at an alarming rate. Inaction is not an excuse for failure to thrive. But it is only you that can take that first step. I can’t wait to become a feisty old woman who says exactly what she wants to say about everything.

Come on people, get up, find a cause, reason, purpose, or passion to fill your life. Go on!


Valentine’s Day Morons.

Most old people say, “Kids today,” then add something along the lines of how WE never behaved in such and such a way. I always told myself I wouldn’t do that. I lied.

I was in Wally World this afternoon because we were out of milk and a few essentials. As I was walking down the main aisle, two boys between 10 and 12 ran out of a side aisle and nearly knocked my shopping cart over.

After making sure no one was hurt, I told them in my teacher voice, “Guys, this isn’t a playground and not a place to be running like that. Especially since it is so crowded.” They glared at me. No apology, nothing as they kept right on running.

Their mother came up to me, all puffed up like a ticked off hen, she said, “ How dare you discipline MY SONS! They are just being kids! You have no right to correct them, or say anything about their behavior. I am their mother, that is my job.”

Inside I was really pissed off. But I calmly said, “Well then, honey, you ought to act like a mother and teach them how to behave in public and teach them some manners while you are at it.” OK, snarky, but heck, I didn’t even raise my voice to the brats. Geesh!

The woman got right in my face, “WHAT DID YOU SAY?” “Oh,” I returned, “Not only are you a miserable failure as a mother, you are also hard of hearing if you have to shout at people. Or, perhaps, I used words that were too large for your limited vocabulary.” Still keeping calm outwardly, I was seething inside. Several people gasped at my comment, several more snickered, and a few laughed right out loud. Sarcasm, in the South, is best served by using a sweet, bless your heart, voice.

About that time, one of her kids came running back, and hid behind the old hen. Right behind him came the security guys. I made eye contact with another mother, and she just rolled her eyes. I didn’t stick around to find out what happened, but for security to chase him down he probably did something bad enough to get into big trouble. If his mother didn’t try to protect him, that is.

Why is it that parents are so afraid to parent their children? What happened to teaching kids basic manners, correct behavior for the situation, place and time? When did it become acceptable to get in an elders face and and scream at them when they simply ask kids to stop running before they get hurt? Maybe it is because I am old, or maybe it is because I was taught by parents who could put the fear of God in me when I acted up, but honestly, if I had ever behaved that way, not only would my mother warm my bottom up, I would get a lecture from my dad that would make me cringe. Those kids will probably have a car accident – heaven help other drivers – and even if they killed someone, she would make excuses for their behavior. Not their fault, after all, they are just kids being kids. Gag a maggot that excuse really ticks me off!

So, after fighting my way to the check out area, I got in a long line just like everyone else. As I stand there, the twenty-five-ish woman in front of me was picking up magazines and flipping through them. Putting them back in the wrong places, and every time the cart in front of her moved, she just stood there flipping through the magazines. Meanwhile, the distance between her and the cart in front of her was getting larger, large enough for someone to ask if she was still in line. She got a bit huffy, but moved up. Then started all over again.

I asked her if she wouldn’t mind moving along, as people were waiting to check out. “Besides,” I told her, “if you want to look at the magazines, perhaps you should buy them and read them at home.” “I ain’t gonna buy this $h*t, I just wanna look at ’em.”

“What are you, ten years old, little kids flip through comic books like that. A grown woman would at least have the common sense to put them back where they found them, or have the decency to actually purchase them. And keep up with what is going on around her, so not to delay everyone with her childish behavior.” I got an eye roll, and she told me to go do something totally impossible. I laughed and did my standard, “Sorry honey, I don’t roll that way, but its nice to know that you fancy me.” So she called me a female dog, and I thanked her for noticing. She was next in line and started throwing her stuff on the moving belt, fuming. She was still holding one of the gossip rags, and when the clerk asked if she wanted to purchase that, she slammed it back into the holder and nearly took the clerk’s head off with the glare she threw at her. Couldn’t help myself, I snickered, and rolled my eyes.

So, finished with Wally World, we headed to Sam’s to get diapers and such. I was wandering about looking at summer clothes and sales for Addie. I came around one rack, and a woman cut me off and got ahead of me. “Eh, so what,” I thought. But the woman just stopped right in the middle of the aisle, and started looking at those trousers all the little girls are wearing with the ruffles on the bottom of the legs. I think they look like clown clothes. But,I digress.

I waited patiently, I couldn’t get around her or her basket unless one of them moved. I finally asked her to let me by. She gave me the most hateful look, and ignored me. I waited another five minutes, by my watch. I couldn’t back up and turn around, there were people behind me. So I asked her to let me by again. She glared again and proceeded to ignore me AND the folks behind me. Eye contact and eye rolls were exchanged between us. I figured that if she could be that rude, I would serve hear a slice of her own hateful pie.

I reached out, took hold of her cart and pushed it out of my way, and moved in front of her. Again, with the swearing and the F word and the female dog word. I stopped, looked her dead in the eye, “If you insist on acting as if your are mentally disable or so ignorant that you don’t recognize a polite request to get your fat ass out of the way so others can get past you, then you should expect to be treated just as rudely in return.” Again, with the female dog word. “Thanks for noticing, I wouldn’t want anyone to think I am a push over or a door mat.” Again, I was told to go, well you know what, myself. “Nice language coming from a woman your age. Didn’t you go to school, read a book, or learn how to speak like a proper grown up person?”

They guy behind me walked past and leaned over to me. “Ma’am, there are just some people who ain’t got the sense God gave a tree, and they are stunted from growing in the wrong place. She can’t help it that she is stupid and rude, she don’t know no better.” Before I could come back with a response, she told him to do the same thing she told me. “Are you offering, sweetheart?” I thought she was going to turn inside out with indignation. She grabbed her cart and stomped off in a huff. “Hey,” the guy called after her, “Don’t go away mad, just go away, far far away to the land of the hateful.” I lost it and started laughing. “Good one.” He winked at me, shook my hand, and we both went our own way.

Must have been my day to deal with stupid people. Gotta love it that the guy got my sarcasm, most don’t. Oh, and the kicker is that he had to be at least 70 plus. Overweight, and not a pretty sight, he was sharp as a tack, and dead on right about people like that woman.

Too bad I don’t drink booze, I could use a glass of wine about now. Happy Valentine’s Day. everyone.Greetings

Shopping With The Husband

Never take your husband shopping at the grocery store. Especially if he is hungry. One never knows what they will find when they get to the check out counter. It is even worse if we go to get groceries at Wal-Mart. Not only will odd types of food find their way into the trolley, but other things like tools, duct tape, smelly candles (that I can’t stand, but he likes), and the occasional packet of underpants will end up in the trolley too.

However, when we are in the grocery store together, I have a list, and send him off on explorations to find certain items. “OK,” he says, practically dancing, “what do I need to go find?” If he were a hunting dog, he would be salivating with excitement. “We need a loaf of French Bread. Not the kind in the regular bread aisle, but the Rustic French Bread from the bakery. Oh, and while there, check and see if they have any fresh hummus – the garlic kind – at the deli.”

“Rustic French Bread, bakery and hummus – garlic – deli next to bakery,” he repeats. Then heads off in the correct direction. I know that he will be gone a while, because he will get distracted before he ever gets to the bakery area, and once there, he will have forgotten what I sent him for in the first place. He will remember, bread, hummus – “Oh Look, CHEESE! Butterkasse, yummm.”  And when he gets back he will have the wrong bread, the wrong hummus, but he will have his favorite cheese.

Meanwhile, I will have finished with at least half my list, working methodically from one side of the store to the other. I take what he brought and send him off again. “Dish soap for the DISHWASHER, fabric softener, and I need some of those small paper plates.” “Dishwasher soap, Fabric softener, paper plates – small.” Off he goes.

I know, you see, that he will have to go past the automobile aisle, the office and craft aisle, and the miscellaneous household doodads aisle. He will get totally distracted the second he finds the light bulbs and he will spend ten minutes looking at stuff before he gets to the aisle that has all the cleaning products. Meanwhile, I keep on moving and filling my trolley. Eventually, he turns up, with Dawn soap, dryer sheets, and a huge container of paper plates, regular size – because they were cheaper that way. Along with light bulbs for our collection of about 50 packets already, super glue, some crayons for the grandkids, and a stapler – because it looks so cool!

The next things on the list will stump him for even longer. I am sending him after cookies, hot dogs, and a whole chicken for baking. Diabolical. Before he even gets out of sight, he is distracted by the magazine rack. He slows down and lets his body keep walking forward while his head turns as far as it can while he checks out the new computer mags. I know, of course, that it will take him forever to decide on hot dogs. He will end up with Hebrew National, but he won’t be able to stop himself from doing all sorts of computations to justify buying the most expensive hot dogs in the store. And he will end up with a few Lunchables for the grandkids. The cookie aisle will slow him down even more, because I know he likes Oreos more than any other store bought cookie, but there are so many more less expensive, and he will do the hem haw dance trying to talk himself into getting the Oreos. Then comes the chicken. A whole chicken. That means he has to decided how big, how much to spend, which brand, and by the time I am nearly through the store, he will come back with what I wanted. Sort of, anyway.

Then I send him off again for Ice Cream, get some for himself, and then find some difficult to find flavor for me. He will get Blue Bell chocolate chip for himself if they have it, and then end up with strawberry sundae for me from some off brand. (I actually feed this to the grandkids. Ice cream is ice cream to them.) While he is off doing that little chore, I put back the Dawn soap and get the right stuff for the dishwasher, I put back the dryer sheets and get the right fabric softener, and replace the paper plates with what I want. I keep his light bulbs, super glue, crayons, and stapler. I figure we can always us them some day. I end up getting the right French Bread, hummus, and replace on of his favorite cheese packets with one of my favorites. He never notices the different products when we check out, he is too distracted by the magazine rack.

Am I a horrid wife? Nah, just one who knows I have to keep him busy to keep him from putting odd things in my trolley when I am not looking. He is helping by staying out of my hair. It works. Really. Try it next time you have to take the husband with you. Just don’t forget about him and leave him in the magazine aisle, the store management really doesn’t like that at all!

Where Is My Phone?

I have a love/hate relationship with my cell phone. I love to have it when I really need it, but I hate dealing with it most of the time. I am one of those people who lets the phone battery go dead, and forget to charge it for days at a time. I once managed two weeks of no phone until my husband charged it for me. I guess it makes sense, because I don’t like to talk on any phone these days.

I have an old AT&T phone that has the slide out keyboard. It doesn’t get on line, or do all the apps (Thank Goodness), but it does take photos, does texts, and, of course, makes phone calls. And really, that is all I need. My phone is small, light, fits in my pocket or hand, or handbag easily, and it still works just fine. I don’t see any reason to run out and buy the newest toy that comes out every year or so. I am 60 years old, why in the world would I want to try to watch television on a screen that is six inches wide?

We went into a store last night to check out a new program for our family package. Since my phone is old, and I bought it off e-Bay to replace my original phone, it is unlocked. Easy peasy, switch over. But, the sales girl just didn’t understand why I didn’t want to carry around one of those monster phones that also serves as a video player, music player, e-book reader, and does everything by touch screen.

First of all, I am married to a security IT guy. Paranoid doesn’t begin to describe how he is about security on all electronics in our home. After listening to him telling about what the FBI told him in a meeting on Internet security, I am a bit paranoid too. It is easy, super easy, beyond super easy to hack into a phone that has all the bells and whistles and gain access to all your information.

Second, I have issues with touch screens. Ask my family. They do not work for me. I touch the darned thing, it just sits there. I swipe my fingers in the right order, and it still just sits there. No matter what I do, or how I do it, the darned thing will not respond in time to answer a call. I had one of those for a few days, then I gave it to my granddaughter. I blame it on always having cold hands, but I really think that electronic things simply do not like me. My husband says it is because I zap everything with my electric personality. (rolling eyes here)

So, I finally convinced the 20ish girl that I really didn’t want a phone with all the bells and whistles, I quite liked my little old phone, and as long as it works, I’m good. Does that make me an old grumpy lady? I use tech stuff all the time. (Duh, I blog don’t I?) I don’t love every bit of it, but I am capable enough to make things work most of the time. (I do love my Kindle, saves on room, and I can carry around dozens of books all at once.)

However, I will probably forget to charge the phone, or I will charge it and leave it sitting on the table the next time I go out of the house. I keep trying to lose it altogether, but if I do, I will be stuck with one of those monster phones, or digging around e-Bay to find a replacement for it. See, love/hate issues ensue every time I bring up the subject of Where Is My Phone?

Have you ever wondered?

Have you ever wondered at the ads that keep popping up about different treatments to make you look younger, whatever? Why is it that most of them are from a “secret formula” especially designed by some scientist or dermatologist? I bet if we all got the list of the junk in them, they would all be pretty much the same. Then, they have the audacity to charge upwards of a hundred dollars for a 4 ounce jar of the goop. And women buy it! Are we all really that paranoid about growing older? Good skin comes from eating right, hydration, and genes. Don’t smoke, don’t drink to excess, and for heaven’s sake don’t do drugs. And go easy on the makeup, it clogs pours no matter how well you clean your face.

My sisters and I (four of us girls) always had nice skin. My mother didn’t allow us to drink soda, eat junk food, and we used good old Ivory soap and Jergen’s lotion to keep our skin in good conditions. I still use soap and water to clean my face, and I use an inexpensive night cream (Ponds) to moisturize my face once a day. Oh, and a sun screen anytime I am outdoors for very long. I’m not a beauty at 60, but my skin is still in good shape.

Anyway, there are no “secrets formulas” that out do common sense and practicality. I know, some suffer from the dreaded acne gene, but keeping your face clean is the most important part of dealing with that.  Photo is from waaaay back when. And the handsome guy next to me is my hubby.

couple 1971