My Toes are Betraying Me

This started out to be a piece called “Why High Heels Should be Banned,” but titles are tricky and it’s important to get a good one.  So I thought about what I really wanted to address with this post.  And while I would sort-of like high heels to be banned, I decided that even more than that, I wanted to complain.  And if it serves as a cautionary tale to anyone to not wear high heels that would be a bonus.  Actually, if anyone other than me reads this it will be a bonus.

So, I’d like to start by saying that ageing sucks.  But, given the alternative I’ve had to refine that sentiment, because ageing does not suck as much as death, in the vast majority of instances.  So what I actually mean is that many of the changes that happen to our bodies as we age suck.  And the funny thing is, you think you know about getting old.  But there are all these little things that start happening that no one ever mentions.  Until now.  So, here are some under-reported problems of ageing:

Everyone knows your eyesight gets worse.  Especially close up vision.  We all know about “cheaters” (The glasses, not the rotten spouses. If you know firsthand about them, sorry. But I digress.)  What I didn’t realize is that you also need more light to see as you age.  I first noticed this while driving at night.  And I was so clueless about it being an effect of ageing I actually took my car in to the shop and told them there was something wrong with my car’s headlights.  The mechanic said, “Oh we’ll just re-aim them.  Sometimes headlights need to be adjusted after a while.”  And I thought, “Good.  That’s sorted.”  But when I picked up the car the young mechanic seemed puzzled when he told me there was nothing wrong with the lights.

And where do I start with hair? My friend LuAnn, who is an amazing writer (that’s amazing in a good way) wrote a brilliant essay on ageing and hair, so if I’ve stolen any of this from her I apologize, but it’s not on purpose.  It’s because another of the many delights of ageing is that your memory gets faulty. Ok, with that said, grey hair wasn’t ever an issue for me.  I always knew it was my destiny.  Both my grandmas had gorgeous white hair, and I found my first grey strand at age eighteen.  Yes, that’s right, eighteen.  How would you like to be a freshman in college and find that?  It might or might not have driven me to drink.  But by now I have accepted that grey roots are my lot in life (cause I haven’t completely resigned myself to grey hair, yet).   What I didn’t realize is that grey hair is insane, and even color can’t cover that crazy.  It boinks up randomly, defying the laws of gravity.  (Think of the Albert Einstein posters.  He wasn’t a careless groomer, that’s just how grey hair behaves.)

Another thing I didn’t realize about ageing hair, or rather one’s hair as one ages, because hair itself is dead.  (Don’t think about that too much, or it becomes a bit disturbing.) Anyway, what I didn’t know was that my hair would get thin.  Even my eyebrow and eyelash hairs.  Really God?  Really?  Eyebrows?  I spent so much time and energy in my teens and 20’s trying to restrain my eyebrows.  Now I’m painting them in because they have become so sparse and light. Or have migrated to my chin.

And as if that wasn’t enough, now my toes have betrayed me. (Yes, I’m finally getting to that.) Or maybe I betrayed my feet by wearing pointy-toed high heels when I was young and foolish(er).  Honestly, I know those kind of shoes make women’s legs and butts look better.  I understand that.  And believe me, my legs and butt can use all the help they can get.  That’s why I propose heels be made illegal, so no one has an unfair advantage.  I mean, let’s face it, a boycott would never work.  Most women would break the ban to temporarily impress some loser guy she didn’t even know in exchange for years of debilitating foot pain.  Totally worth it, right?  It makes no sense.  We have:

-Super-models and singers falling off their shoes on stage

-You and I twisting ankles, tearing ligaments and not able to keep up with our male counterparts who stride obliviously on in flat-footed comfort

-Business women, and others who have to get stuff done, pack and carry around extra shoes they can actually walk in.

-Women over 35 or 40 hobbling around on ruined feet, with toes twisted and malformed and Achilles tendons shortened to the point where they can no longer wear flat shoes comfortably either

-Global climate change (ok, maybe that’s not the fault of high heels, but I always like to add it to lists of things that upset me)

-Women on tv news and talk shows, sitting with their stilt-shoes, talking about equality, when they can’t even walk down the block or run from a fire.

And what about all those dumb women in horror films who can’t escape the sensible-shoe-wearing hatchet murderers?  I suspect one day anthropologists will dig up evidence of our society and honestly not understand what was going with all the bathroom debates and Kardashians and reality tv shows.  And they will wonder what type of society tortures its female population by forcing their feet into these pointy, stilted devices.

Anyway, back to my traitorous toes.  I don’t have gross, thick, yellow toenails – yet; still looking forward to that.  But recently the second and third toes on my right foot are starting to act like annoying, middle school girls.   They are staying as far away each other as possible and instead making bffs with the toes on the opposite sides.  Besides looking weird and twisted it also hurts.  So, I looked on the internet, asked friends, bought 13 different types of foot and/or toe pads at the drug store and finally asked my doctor about it when I was in for a totally unrelated reason.  She knew exactly what to do.  Make an appointment with the podiatrist.

When I got there, the first thing he told me he wouldn’t judge me for wearing flip-flops.  I was a little bit put off by this, because I was wearing good flip-flops, the ones with a little arch and lots of cushion.  I seriously considered giving him my rant on high heels, but decided to hold off for now.  After all, he might be charging by the hour.  So, after a brief examination he concurred with google.  I had the beginnings of hammer toes. His treatment consisted of giving me a type of toe/foot cushion that wasn’t carried by the drug store, and told me I would eventually, probably need surgery.  But not until the balloon payment on his yacht was due.  Ok, maybe I made up that last part.  So, I went home with my new toe/foot pad and it helped, sort of.  Then the following week I got his bill for $17,541.23, or something like that.  Because the health insurance industry in America is the devil.

But that’s another rant for another day.


For those of you who don’t know what NaNoWriMo means (National Novel Writing Month) you don’t need to worry about any of this. Continue happily on with your sane lives. But for any of you out there who have accepted the challenge of writing a novel of 50,000 words in 30 days I have compiled some advice from well known authors to help (and by ‘help’ I mean, ‘not help at all and marginally harm by distracting’) you through your odyssey.

The road to hell is paved with adverbs.
― Stephen King

Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.
― Louis L’Amour

There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.
― W. Somerset Maugham

You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.
― Jack London

This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until its done. It’s that easy, and that hard.
― Neil Gaiman

Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open.
― Natalie Goldberg

Nothing’s a better cure for writer’s block than to eat ice cream right out of the carton.
― Don Roff

In writing, you must kill all your darlings.
― William Faulkner

And finally:

Beware of advice—even this.
― Carl Sandburg

So, to those of you making the attempt I wish you all the best!



Living in the middle of nowhere
one has more cows than people
for neighbors

A church, a bar
and a few scattered houses –
in Wisconsin that’s all you need
to make a town

That, and the folks that fill them.
Though, they fill the bar more than the church,
if truth be told


God’s Kitchen

mag 162 yerka jacek_mind fields_between heaven and hell
Image by Jacek Yerka, Between Heaven and Hell

I have always imagined God as a woman;
and though She is timeless,
She looks to be
(to me)
in her middle-sixties.

I picture Her with
short, salt and pepper hair
and sparkling eyes –
not unlike my undergraduate adviser
Margaret Odegard,
who would throw back her head
and laugh a magnificent laugh if she knew.
(And so would God, because
I’m quite sure She has
an outstanding sense of humor.)

Though God does not wear tweed, like Dr. O.
In my mind She dresses in sunbeams, starlight,
clouds, hemp and linen.
And sensible shoes.
God did NOT create high heels.

And most assuredly God would have a cat in Her kitchen.
And rows and rows of pots and crocks and jars
filled with darkness and light and creeping things,
and baskets of stars,
and bushels of peaches,
and a huge stoppered bottle
full of annoying people,
and another with mosquitoes
and large bin of dinosaurs and sea monsters
all mixed up together.

Then She created the Earth and saw that it was good.
But She knew She could do better…
particularly if She went easier on
the obnoxious people and the mosquitoes;
so She keeps trying.

And in spite of Genesis,
I think God spends
every Sunday afternoon
cooking up new worlds.
So that’s where She can be found,
in Her wonderfully cluttered kitchen.

And by the way, you’re always welcome in
for a chat and a cuppa.’

April, National Poetry Month

“Heaven deliver us, what’s a poet? Something that can’t go to bed without making a song about it.” ― Dorothy L. Sayers

Today begins National Poetry Month, no fooling!  It was started by the Academy of American Poets to help increase awareness of poetry in our very prosaic existence.  Here is a link to thirty ways to celebrate poetry.

Another way to celebrate (if you like celebrations with lots of agony (no, not 50 shades of agony)) is to try writing a poem a day for the month of April.  If you’re interested have a peek here:

And if you write a poem a day anyway, just because you are that creative and disciplined, you probably aren’t wasting time reading something like this; and by the way, I sort of hate you.  Well, not really, not hate – I guess it’s more like envy.  And that’s still not good, I know, but I”m working on it.

I’m going to do the NaPoWriMo poem a day challenge on another blog I have that’s not on WordPress.  I’m feeling a bit panicked, because I haven’t been writing ahead with a week or two worth of poems on in reserve.  In fact I haven’t even written today’s #1 poem yet. *gulp*  But I will in a few minutes.  If you’re interested you can have a peek here:

And just because I can’t really talk about National Poetry Month without having a poem in the post I’ll include one that I wrote awhile back and still sort of like:


Fingers reach
to pick
coral, shells, stones and bones
littered across memory’s beach.
Sands collects
water disburses
air feeds fire.
We stir the cauldron and reflect.
Bury your treasure deep –
golden moments silvery seconds
no matter the lock
they will not keep.

Happy Pi Day!

Pi Pie

Well, like a true nerd (which I claimed to be in my “About” blurb) I had to make a pi pie today.  Here is the result, a blueberry-cherry pi pie.  If the letters look a little goofy, because they are… hand crafted – yeah, that’s what I’ll call it.  Anyway, I wish you all a sweet (or savory) Pi Day!

Why I Believe Technology Hates Me

I will be the first to say I’m not very techie.  I don’t deny it.  If there was a 12-step group I’d stand up and admit it to all assembled.  Admitting the problem is the first step in correcting it, right?  But it’s more than just that – really.  I have this superpower (well, two actually, but one is choosing the slowest moving line in any store, theatre, etc., and we can discuss that another time).  But the superpower related to this little rant is my ability to foil technology, which is why technology hates me.  And yes, I have evidence.

First, I am one of the approximately 7 people on the planet, in 2015 A.D., who does not have regular access to cellular telephone service.  Cell towers refuse to send signals to my house.  My techie friend, Lori, refers to my locale as “Amishville.”    Several years ago my phone carrier decided to put up a tower just across the highway from my house.  I was happy that I would actually be able to use my cell phone while at home!  Then my neighbors, whose homes are built on land 2 feet higher than mine, and are magically able to get cell phone reception, decided either:

  1. I did not deserve cellular telephone reception
  2. If I received cellular telephone signals after going without for so long, I would use them all up
  3. If I got cellular telephone reception I would somehow foil the technology and everyone would be without it; therefore, the situation was too dangerous to be allowed (this is the one I believe)
  4. The cell tower hundreds of yards from their homes was more dangerous to them than the phones they held against the sides of their heads most of the day, and would give them cancer, decrease their homes’ property values, and make their teeth fall out.

Or something like that…I’m fuzzy on all the details of their arguments.  But the final result is the same.  Cellular telephone technology hates me (and maybe my neighbors do too).

So,          Technology: 1  /  Mary: 0

Another example of a technology that hates me is the coffee maker.  I may not be very techie, but I can make coffee.  At least I could… until Christmas last year. I received a Keurig rapid, single cup, hot beverage brewing/dispensing system. It all started well.  I managed to get the coffee maker out of its hermetically sealed packaging and set up on the kitchen counter before Boxing Day.  I read the instructions, which told me that besides buying little, plastic overpriced individual coffee “kups” to use in the Keurig rapid, single cup hot beverage brewing/dispensing system, I also needed to buy bottled or spring or water.  Unfortunately it was winter, not spring, so I opted for softened water, which was also acceptable, but sort of looked down upon (like sending your kids to Hogwarts in hand-me-down wizard robes).  Anyway, after setting the brew kup size, time, date, temperature, barometric pressure, average wind speed and number of cats in the household I was ready to brew my first kup of coffee.  Let me tell you, it was wonderful.  And so was the second kup.

But, the following morning, when I was half asleep and really in need of a good kup of coffee, once again technology failed me.  Or I foiled technology.  After swearing at, apologizing to and pleading with the Keurig rapid, single cup hot beverage brewing/dispensing system, I read the troubleshooting tips in the booklet that came packed with my Keurig rapid, single cup hot beverage brewing/dispensing system.  It suggested I first unplug the coffee maker, wait 97 seconds (or something like that) and plug it in again.  After doing that four times (because I’m not good with technology, and maybe I didn’t do that quite right) I moved on to their next suggestion: clean the hollow needle that stabs into the coffee kup with an unbent paperclip, in case coffee grounds have plugged it.

I sacrificed 6 paperclips and two fingers doing this to the best of my ability before finally giving up and calling the toll free number found in miniscule writing in a tiny corner on page 23 of the instruction booklet.  Surprisingly, they were, “experiencing heavier than usual call volume at this time,” so I waited about 35 minutes before Jason asked if he could help me.  But first I had to find the serial number affixed in microscopic hieroglyphs to a recessed spot at the lower edge on the back of the machine.  After several unpluggings and paperclip cleanings under expert direction, it turned out I had indeed killed the Keurig rapid, single cup hot beverage brewing/dispensing system, and Jason said he would send me a new one in seven to 10 business days.  In the meantime, I probably needed to buy some Redbull  caffeine laced energy drinks.  But finally after about 8 business days and two weekend days I had my shiny, new Keurig rapid, single cup hot beverage brewing/dispensing system.

This one lasted a full two weeks before I had to call Paul at customer service.  When he asked how he could help me I told him he could get me a damn cup of coffee.  He did not get me a coffee, but eventually we came to the conclusion that I had again destroyed this epitome of modern, coffee-making technology. Perhaps this second Keurig rapid, single cup hot beverage brewing/dispensing system somehow knew that I had destroyed the first one, and was bent on revenge.  Or perhaps I once again foiled modern technology.  Anyway, eventually Paul sent me yet another Keurig rapid, single cup hot beverage brewing/dispensing system.  This one is still making my coffee each day, fingers crossed, knock wood, etc. But only after several weeks of caffeine-deprived hell.

So,          Technology: 2  /  Mary: 1, sort of

My most recent example of how technology hates me comes from the Fitbit popular brand, activity tracker I just purchased.  It’s a great activity tracker, intuitive and easy to use. Any idiot can work one.  So, my cute little Fitbit popular brand, activity tracker arrived in the mail from Amazon a major online retailer. I struggled a bit, but eventually managed to get it out of the packaging.  The simple step-by-step instructions to set up and sync it were pretty straightforward, but being left-handed, I went backwards and only found them after I was done.  Still, it was easy enough that I managed anyway, only taking about three times as long as the average Bonobo.

The Fitbit popular brand, activity tracker was working swimmingly until the morning of day three (and yes, I did heed the instructions to not take it swimming).  This particular morning my Fitbit popular brand, activity tracker would not sync to my computer.  I tried three times for good measure, because as we all know, I’m not good with technological innovations. Then I got my coffee and tried again, because coffee helps everything (and I thanked the heavens the Keurig rapid, single cup hot beverage brewing/dispensing system was still working).  But the Fitbit popular brand, activity tracker still would not sync.  I went to the online troubleshooting site and tried all their suggestions several times, to no avail.  Then I went to the online community forum and spent an inordinate amount of time reading, deciphering and trying their suggestions.  I even resorted to the number one cure-all – I turned my computer off and back on.  But when it did not sync, I knew I was sunk.

Finally I swallowed my pride and found a phone number that would connect me to a live, human Fitbit popular brand, activity tracker employee who could tell me the one, obvious thing I didn’t do.  I didn’t even have to wait that long on hold, when Aggie asked me how she could help.  In the end though, it turned out the only way Aggie was able to help me was to send another Fitbit popular brand acitvity tracker.  Something actually went wrong with the device.  I was not being inept, once again, technology hates me.

So,          Technology: 3  /  Mary: 1, sort of

I have lots more examples of this, but let’s face it, I’ve already rambled on quite a bit, and you’re getting antsy, ready to go on to the next blog.  Or maybe even go out and exercise or make yourself a cup of coffee or phone a loved one.  Well go on then, and enjoy it, because technology is probably your friend.  But now you know I have good reason to believe technology hates me.

*NOTE: While the above is entirely true it may not be factually accurate in every detail, which is why I have omitted (sort of) using any brand names.