The Locker Room

One of the things that I struggle with on my journey to health and (relative) fitness is exercise.  The last time I took this trip, I was a runner. Running is an easy, no fuss, sport.  There is no equipment needed – you just stretch a little and………run. Even on the treadmill there is no preparation. That really worked for me.

Running feet on gravel path
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This time because of various physical problems that have accumulated over the years, running is out of the question. So are any of the other in-home fitness solutions, like instructional tapes…Pilates, Zumba and my daughter’s current favorite Insanity.  I can’t do those types of things any more, so I was forced to find an alternative.  My solution?

Water Aerobics.

I started going to an organized class once per week last fall, and after some initial trepidation, it worked for me.  It was social as well as physical, and most importantly – the other women were just like me – middle-aged and needing to get moving a bit. (Sorry if any of you are reading this – that is not at all meant as a derogatory comment.  You were all perfect, welcoming and helpful!) Unfortunately, though, it was held at the local high school and the classes have been put on hold for the summer.  I was forced to find another option.

There are no classes held in the evening anywhere near where I live, so I made a huge decision (for me), and decided to “do it on my own” at the local pool/gym. This place is a converted school and is frequented by many athletes who, in my opinion, are in much better shape than I am.  Thus, my first obstacle to fitness:

The locker room.

Womens Locker room braille sign spanish english
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I have had an aversion to the locker room since middle school, when all of the athletic girls made my insecure, underdeveloped twelve-year-old self tremble from intimidation.  Showers during the school day? In front of other girls? I would rather eat worms, or better yet have my eyelashes pulled out one-by-one.  Nothing was more unpleasant than the thought of undressing in front of my peers. This is the stuff nightmares are made of!

Flash forward 40 (or so) years and here we go again.  In order to enter the pool I needed to undress, grab my towel and walk past several other bathers, who all appeared to be in training for the next Olympics in their racer-back suits and goggles/swim caps.  I would enter the pool on the “Open” side, with my two blue floatie “dumbbells” and run in place and do various stretching and calisthenic-like moves by myself for 45 minutes while the others were swimming laps in the three roped off lanes.  A few children and dreamy-eyed older ladies splashed and floated around me, but I prevailed, and for the past few weeks have gotten a fairly good work out, if my sore muscles are any indication.

After I finished,  I would get out of the pool, shower in the (gasp) open shower area, quickly change into my dry clothes and get the hell out of dodge before anyone could actually engage in any kind of social interaction.  Although it was stressful, it was beginning to get a little easier each time and I was slowly gaining a little more confidence. Until last Tuesday.

It started out like a normal night.  I put my clothes in the locker (I wore my dry swimsuit underneath – the less time in the in there, the better), put my glasses on the top shelf, grabbed my towel and was off.  45 minutes later I returned to the showers, stripped off my wet suit and took a quick shower.  Wrapped in nothing but the towel, I entered the locker room, which was now occupied by 4 or 5 other women and walked up to my locker. I opened the door to get my things and found, to my horror that


Empty Locker
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This was impossible! I quickly checked the lockers around the one that I was sure I had used, and they were filled with other women’s things.  Most of them did not have locks on them, but none contained the few things that I had arrived with.  I never bring anything of value – a bag (to which I attach my car keys), some flip-flops, my jeans and sweatshirt and underwear.  The most valuable thing in the locker were my prescription glasses.

The other women in the room immediately sensed my increasing panic, and started to ask questions. While this was very nice of all of them, the fact that I stood there naked except for my towel-became increasingly uncomfortable for me.  I somehow managed to stuff myself back into my wet swimsuit and located the girl from the desk in the fitness center.  Together, we looked everywhere for my things.  We checked every corner, unlocked locker, even the garbage cans, and found nothing.

At this point it became apparent that I would have to call my husband to bring me an extra set of keys, some dry clothes and my sunglasses so that I could see to drive home.  The desk girl and the other (male) attendant told me that they would have to call the local police and report the incident, so after Jim arrived with my clothes I went back up to the desk and gave the officer my account of the events of the evening.  At this point EVERYONE in the facility was aware of my situation and any semblance of anonymity for me was completely destroyed.

I couldn’t help but start to feel like this was a targeted attack.  After all, none of the other client’s things had been removed. Paranoid and discouraged, I got back into my car to drive home  half expecting to find my underwear hanging from the telephone lines, mocking me as part of some  sophomoric prank.  I called my husband in the car behind me and told him that when I got home I wanted to order out.  It was too late at this time to make dinner so we would just have pizza. Mind you, I had not consumed real pizza in several months because of the aforementioned diet and quest for a new me.  Pizza (and wine) would be the order of the night.  It only made sense that I should wallow in my defeat.

I got home, poured a glass of red wine and sunk into a chair in the living room to regale my daughter and her boyfriend with my tale of woe while Jim went to get the pizza.  As I was halfway through the (first) glass, my cellphone rang. It was the director of the gym.  Apparently after I left another woman who had been swimming laps had returned to the locker room and unlocked her locker, only to find my things inside. She must have arrived after I did and somehow managed to put her lock on the wrong locker!

My things (including my glasses) were returned to me a little while later by a friend who happened to be there earlier when I had caused all of the commotion.  All’s well that ends well, a pretty anticlimactic end to my drama filled evening.  I continued to enjoy my wine and pizza – after all, I had earned it!

I will continue to swim every Tuesday and Thursday evening, although everyone now knows who I am. I am hoping this is going to be a good thing.

And this weekend….I think I will buy a lock.

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Tradition, Family and Rememberance

Memorial Day has always been a special holiday in our family. For my own children it mostly meant the beginning of summer, a day off from school and a family picnic.  During family visits like this we would always gather around the table and gossip talk and laugh. My girls always liked to spend time with their Grandma Prudie, because she seemed to always have a funny observation or story to tell.  Every year on Memorial Day she would remind us of the time in grade school when she was required to memorize the poem “In Flanders Fields” by John McRae, a remembrance written during the first World War. She would recite it word for word, and we were always impressed that she could remember it all of these years later. We would talk of their Great Grandfather, who served in that war, but whom they had never met. A few years before she died, she challenged my youngest daughter to memorize it as well. She did, and now she can recite it (almost) as well as her Grandmother could! The poem now serves to remind our family of my Mom as well as the soldiers that it was written about.

This past weekend I tagged along with my sister and my 5-year-old nephew to the cemetery to plant flowers at my Mother’s grave and to visit the graves of our maternal grandparents. This tradition is one that my sister and mother shared for years before my Mother’s death. I was never really a part of the ritual, but I respected the fact that they did it together every year and it was meaningful to both of them.  I have joined my sister and her son the last few years to keep her company. I felt that it might be difficult for her to do this without my Mom,  and also because I wanted to spend more time with her family.headstones, cemetery, history, marigolds

Cemeteries have never really been “my thing”.  I guess that I felt that I would rather remember loved ones in places that I had memories of them.  I have told my own family that I have no interest in being buried in a cemetery – I want my ashes scattered and have told them to “plant a tree or something” if they need a visiting place. Better yet – they can go to Mexico and feel my spirit there!

This year Memorial Day  seems to hold an even more significant meaning for our family, because we lost another of our children’s grandparents last fall. Grandpa Ray, who was such a large part of their lives, was a Veteran.  He is buried in the Soldier’s Circle at one of our local Cemeteries.  His stone was recently placed, and Jim and I had a plan to visit his grave later in the weekend.

The time spent in the cemetery listening to my nephew’s observations, and his mother’s patient responses, along with the first visit to my father-in-law’s resting place have given me a better appreciation for Memorial Day and what it means to those of us that are left behind when loved ones pass away. The history that is present there and the lives and stories that the sites represent seem so much more meaningful when there is a recent connection. The love and care shown by family members trying to give something back, to make an adequate tribute, is touching and personal. I have a new-found respect for this annual tradition.

My children are very lucky to have had such involved grandparents on both sides of our family. They had the chance to know them and love them and learn from them. I am lucky that my sister feels so strongly about keeping up this yearly practice. It gave me a chance to think about what family means to me and how much richer my life is because of all of them.

Happy Memorial Day! Hold your loved ones close today and be thankful for the sacrifices of the ones that have gone before us so that we could enjoy this day.Memorial Day Flags Sunset Hill Cemetery

Dear Fee

Smiling baby in orange polka=dot skirt
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I am starting to get excited.

Do you want to know why? Exactly one month from today you are coming to see Poppa and me at our house here on the Hill!

You have already been here two times before, but this time I think it is going to be a little different. First of all…now that you are a bit older, I think that your Mama and Daddy will actually let you spend some time here with Poppa and I ALONE. (I think that by now an evening away probably sounds pretty good to them!)  That should be fun…and maybe a little bit scary (for me and Poppa :))  You see, we haven’t had a toddler around the house for a while. I am looking around the place every day now for trouble that you might get into.  Not on purpose, of course, but I am a bit of a worry-wart, so I want to make sure there is nothing around that can hurt you.

Also – we need to have some fun things for you to do here.  When we chat in the mornings you are very busy, so I know that we will need things to entertain you. I am hoping we can spend some time outside and use the pool that we bought you when you were here last summer. We will need to get a new ball and maybe a riding toy so that you can play out in the yard.  I am sure that Max and Moe will enjoy that, too – we will just have to keep them from popping the ball!

We want to take you to the park so that you can swim in the lake and maybe to Midway Park, where we can ride the train and the carousel.   Your Mama went there when she was little with her Grandparents. Of course we will go to the Parade up town on the 4th of July.  Village of Mayville Fourth of July FireworksIt will be fun to spend an American holiday with you (Don’t listen to your Daddy when he calls it “the day of Colonial aggression”, I know that he secretly enjoys it just as much as the rest of us!)  Maybe your parents will let you stay up late that night to watch the fireworks, too.  We will roast marshmallows out back and I am sure you will roll down the hill a time or two.

I have a pretty good feeling that right about now is when this grandparent/grandchild thing starts to get fun.  I am hoping that our morning Skype dates have made us familiar enough to you that you feel comfortable here.  I just can’t wait to hug and squeeze and tickle you. I am sure that this is just the beginning of many wonderful years of memories for us.Happy smiling baby in stroller

It’s going to be a long month of waiting…

See you soon!

Love and kisses,

Gram ❤


It looks like a lot of the blogs that I follow are posting videos today, so I guess I will follow suit.

This one is a teaser for what I will be doing this weekend…

I am off after work today to see my middle daughter in Pittsburgh.  I am looking forward to a little bit of shopping, a pedicure and an evening with Tim McGraw!  I wish that the other two girls could be with us for the fun, but then again, sometimes it is nice to have a little one-on-one!

Here is one more just for fun! 

That one should get us in the mood!

OK…just a few more hours of work then off for a weekend of country music and IKEA!

I hope you all have a good weekend!

photo (25)I am sure it will be a little warmer than last time 🙂


How time flies!

Flying squirrel
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According to my trusty Stats, it has been six months since this little space on the net has been in existence. It has been a pretty interesting experiment so far, and overall I am fairly pleased with the results.

Since the kids have been gone I have been a bit listless and felt the need for a hobby. I feel like I am the creative type, but not in an artsy-crafty way.  Any kind of project that I tried just didn’t seem to work, and I found that I can often buy what I want with much less aggravation  I have always written my thoughts down in one way or another, and have even been recruited by friends and family on more than one occasion to write a letter or some other document.  I often send long, rambling messages to friends and family when I have a hard time verbalizing my feelings (imagine that!). I usually write letters to commemorate big events, like birthdays and graduations, so it only made sense that writing might be the answer.

I have been a blog reader for quite some time and follow several regularly.  I even encouraged my daughter to write her own after discovering several “Mommy Blogs” that I enjoyed. It seems like I always encourage my children to do what I really want to do.  I hesitated to start my own blog for quite a while because I had a hard time finding a niche where I felt I fit in (sounds a bit like high school, doesn’t it?) and coming up with a title.

After much searching a reading, I decided that blogs that focused on the “empty nest” or “middle age” seemed to be my current peer group (sigh), I decided to give it a try.  Squirrels on the Hill is the result, and for the most part I like the path that I am travelling here.

I have tried to write a few different kinds of posts, but my favorite ones to write are (as my daughter describes them)  the poignant ones.  These are my favorites to write, but they are a bit like knitting a sweater or painting a portrait.  They take me a few days to complete and I am never fully satisfied with the results, often going back and tweaking them a bit from time to time.

I have also started a series of letters to my first granddaughter  Fee.  She lives so far away that I don’t see her much and sometimes I just feel like I want to communicate directly with her, but since she may or may not ever read them, why not invite you all in as well?

I have been greatly encouraged by your support (and comments), and I can’t tell you how many times that I have run into someone that I know and they mentioned that they read my blog.  That always surprises me, because often when I write things I spend so much time with the story that I forget it is out there for public consumption.  So far, I think I have been successful at not embarrassing myself or my family (although I am not sure that Jim will always agree with that statement).

Right now I have a long list of subjects and half written posts that I want  need to share with the world. I just need to get organized so that I can make the time to actually publish them.

Thanks for joining me this past 1/2 year.  I hope that you have enjoyed some of the things that I have shared with you as much as I have enjoyed writing them. My goal for the next six months is to be more deliberate (and regular) in my posting. I want to tweak the looks of the place a little and add some extras.   Stick around…it might be fun to see what happens!

Six felt acorns
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