Where Frogs Should Not Be

As a mini me growing up in the Midwest, the gentle croaking of frogs was one of my favorite sounds of summer. They were the perfect lullaby to the lazy days of a childhood spent outside getting muddy and rinsing off in the lake. I still love the sound of frogs croaking and can even name a few froggie calls from the comfort of my deck chair on the lanai. To my brain, the froggies live outside, and I live inside. Evidently, I have been somewhat misguided in that notion.

There have generally been herpetological critters hanging about my house on purpose: Florida anoles, frogs, and leopard geckos have all been included the care and maintenance of pets, sometimes at the same time. Spiffy, and what does that have to do with the blog, you might wonder. Well, this:

There’s a frog living in the pipes under our house, which comes to visit every once in a while via the toilet in the master bathroom. I am absolutely comfortable with the love bugs, palmetto bugs, fire ants, and alligator sightings of Florida, but I am extraordinarily not okay with something that peeps its head up out of my toilet to say hello.

The first time the froggy came to visit, I was in the kitchen when a bewildered husband came to me and invited me to check in the bathroom. I have not been a fan of potty show-and-tell since the children were toddlers, so I was a little less than pleased to accompany him to the bathroom. Once there, he quietly gestured for me to look at the toilet. No need for me to step in for a closer look, a big frog was peering over the edge of the commode. It was green, it was froggy, it croaked.

I very maturely squealed and hastened to my amphibian-loving daughter to get the thing out of the toilet. I wish I could say I stepped right on up, scooped it out and carried it to the retention pond by the house, but it wasn’t me. Nope, not it. I was holding onto my daughter’s t-shirt like she was the guardian protector of Amphia-land and I was a trespasser who wanted to go home. But wait: I was home. She and my husband made plans to invite the frog to leave on its own. The plan failed. It stared at us, and I swear it was defying us to do something about its presence in the house.

We were at something of a standstill until the frog did what frogs do: it hopped. It hopped out of the toilet and I hopped onto the bathroom counter, and my husband and daughter hopped to action. Lots of hopping, most of it not from the frog. I waited on the counter until husband and daughter caught the frog, escorted it outside and placed it near the retention pond so it could go hop and tell its friends about the idiots at our house.

Husband and daughter returned, laughed at me for still being on the counter, and then began to discuss how it could have ended up in the toilet in the first place. Whatever the reason, I began checking before using the bathroom. Good thing too, because it came back to visit today. Did it miss us? Does it get lost some kind of way? Is it a prince in disguise and all I have to do is kiss it? Absolutely not to the last; I know where it’s been.

It’s still there because while I am wearing my big girl pants today, I’m not wearing my frog-catching pith helmet. I did as any mature nature-loving person would do: I closed the door to the bathroom and it will stay that way until someone comes to remove the frog from my house.

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But first, let me (not) take a selfie

Confession might be good for the soul, but it’s definitely not good for the ego. To wit: I am not particularly photogenic. If I grin with reckless abandon, the photo looks like I’m in pain. If I try to look like I have a secret, it tends to look like I have to go to the bathroom. The only time I look like myself is when I’m not paying any attention to someone else’s camera/phone/camcorder. In other words, there is no selfie that will ever turn out well. This also doesn’t bode well for driver’s license photos, staff pictures, yearbook pictures, etc. In an era where everyone’s everything is exposed everywhere (sorry, got stuck in alliteration land), I am blissfully undocumented. Most of the time, I prefer it this way.

When I peruse my social media, I delight in pictures of my friends’ vacations, their children and grandchildren. I am a huge fan of pictures of particularly well-presented food as well. Recently, however, a picture of myself and a friend appeared on social media, which caused a familial frenzy. We don’t live in the same geographic area, so pictures are a great way to keep in touch. So are letters, though, and I usually draw stick figures to accompany the lines for visual effect. I am a) older and b) still not photogenic, so any current photos aren’t really all that useful.

I know there’s a lot I could do to “become” more photogenic: stand a certain way, angle my head a certain way, and wear certain colors. Ultimately, I have to wonder why I should bother. If I look best when I’m not looking, that must mean my best angle is face averted away from the camera. Either way, I don’t really care whether I’m in a picture or not. It bothers me slightly that I don’t look more like me, but not enough that I’ll practice making smiley faces in my mirror or on my phone or whatever it is people do to figure out their best face.

Today, I was reading a fantastic article about swimsuits and how to look great in them, and I realized I’ve been a bit hypocritical about the whole celebrating oneself business I’ve been espousing. I am healthy and vibrant, but I don’t like pictures. I love swimming, but I hate swimsuits. Well, that’s kinda silly, now, isn’t it? If I look like a person and dress like a person, and I’m person-shaped, I’m probably a person who doesn’t need to stinking worry about whether or not I have thigh gap or thick ankles or whatevertheheck it is people worry about.

I will continue to be relatively unfeatured in pictures on my social media. It’s not something I’m comfortable with, obviously. I will still delight in the photos other people post, even as I have to wonder how many pictures they took or how long it took them to realize they had to stand just so to look that fantastic. I will remain elusive and relatively undocumented, a modern-day Audrey Hepburn without the acting chops.

 

30 Days of Blogging–Goal Achieved!

After a month of blogging for the sheer joy of sharing my passing, quirky thoughts with people, I pause to celebrate my self-assigned challenge of posting every day for 30 days, fully well realizing this particular project isn’t complete. I met the construct of the assignment I gave myself, and in so doing, I saw what I care most about.

For instance, in everything I decided to consider, so many more ponderous ideas flitted around my noggin. There is a huge part of me that would have commented on the whole Donald Trump running for President scenario, but I haven’t written about train wrecks yet, so I won’t start now. You’re welcome. I also realized that I type almost the exact opposite of what worries or concerns me on a particular day. For those of us who read as a form of escape, the same is true for those of us who like to entertain and inform. I don’t type specifically about the issues pressing most on my heart and in my mind largely because I can’t address the larger issues of my life’s focus in fewer than 1,000 words. There’s no particular word count limit to what I produce, but I have considered my blog a drive-by along the path of someone’s day, not a sit-down experience. I may change that soon.

I have learned that verb tense switching is annoying and also runs amok on my pages, the byproduct of the fact that I live in the present with nods to future and past imperfect (subjunctive because it is, after all, myself I write about, and perfection isn’t the motif of my days). Time is a nebulous concept to me, as evidenced by the boxes I sorted through recently. If my children’s graduation programs can sit in the same box as their preschool artwork, believe me that I have no trouble with the notion that past, present, and future are all hanging out in my noggin clamoring for representation on the page.

Carving out a spot of time to participate in something I love, it turns out, is part of the USRDA for self-actualization. I am pretty sure my husband feels the same rejuvenation after working on the truck – even when the truck isn’t cooperating. My words haven’t always run out of my brain into my fingertips, as can be seen in the range of topics I write about. There was one night I almost wrote about what I had for dinner a la the YouTube “What I ate today” genre, but I stopped myself because my fingers refused to type something quite that idiotic.

Here I sit, a few hours before I go to vote because, wow, do we all need to engage in the democratic process this year. I may go back to posting once a week, I may continue to post more. Either way, I am grateful that I decided to see what would happen if I wrote every day.

Don’t Do This When You’re Tired

Evidently I have reached the nodding off age: that time of life when sitting equals sleeping. I knew I nodded off during movies, but I also doze if the house is quiet or if I’m reading. You could point out this probably means I’m sleep deprived; I would agree. I have become rather like the video tapes of toddlers who are so tired they fall asleep in their food. Now we’re awake–and now we have face planted into the macaroni and cheese. It’s funny, probably because it’s so endearing.

During faculty meetings I now stand because 3:30 is the time of day when I most need to recharge with a little protein-packed goodness. I understand that the early mid afternoon is my body’s siesta time whether or not I actually rest. It’s always been this way, which is why I know to snack wisely in the afternoon.

Wisdom is elusive in the evening, though. I was whitening my teeth the old-fashioned way: oil pulling. Coconut oil, to be specific. It works best for me if I sit and read while I let the coconut oil do what it does. Of course, I nodded off. I woke up with a start because I felt the sensation of the oil hitting my shirt. The stain didn’t wash out. I will now add this to the list of things I won’t do when I’m tired. I really liked that shirt, too. Fortunately, my teeth are sparkly white.

Chocolate is Good for Me (Kinda)

As you can tell from the subhead of my blog, I’m a fan of chocolate. I don’t eat a lot in one sitting, but I eat chocolate every day. I do not apologize for this. It surprises people when I mention that I’m a daily chocolate eater, as if my chocolate consumption negates the positive effects of an overall healthy diet. In my brain, however, chocolate is as essential as brushing my teeth and showering. I get to say a small amount of “Hah!” to my health fanatic friends because today I received vindication in the form of a longitudinal study. According to my local newspaper in an article pulled from The Washington Post*, a study indicated that “people who eat chocolate tend to perform better cognitively.” The types of tasks include remembering phone numbers, shopping lists, and doing two things at once.

Let’s pass the Hershey’s kisses in celebration. I am excited. I am ebullient. I am shocked to learn that many of the participants ate chocolate only rarely or never versus once a week or more. Who are these people who eat chocolate rarely or never? Most people I know have a chocolate stash in their desk drawers, ready to be shared or consumed at will.

Further complicating the potential good news of this scenario is the fact that the type of chocolate that the study is referring to is the type of chocolate with less sugar and more cocoa bean goodness. It’s the cocoa in chocolate that has antioxidants and cholesterol-lowering properties. The benefits also include preventing cognitive decline and reducing stress/blood pressure.

This still sounds great to me, but the downfall is a question that wasn’t answered by the study. According to the other studies I’ve seen, the current assumption is that it’s darker chocolate – you know, the kind that mostly closely tastes like undiluted cocoa powder-that renders the health benefits.

Merrill Elias, the scientist who conducted the study, stated, “We didn’t look at dark chocolate and lighter chocolate separately.” Interesting question and one that must be answered. I herewith most humbly and respectfully volunteer. As one who exceeds the average 4.5 kg of chocolate consumption per year, I know a thing or two about chocolate. Just don’t make me eat the 75% or greater dark stuff. That really does taste like the bean itself.

 

*By the time I’m typing this, the information is awfully far removed from the original study, so please treat this like the good spirited gossip it is. Or, find the study and read for yourself.

Skin Deep

Beauty is skin deep, in the eye of the beholder, and/or a matter of perception depending on whom you ask and whether they’re talking about themselves or someone else. One of my favorite quotes that I wish I could give proper credit to is that everyone is beautiful given the proper light and perspective. Maybe it was a photographer who said that, maybe a poet, or maybe I wish I could have made it up.

One of my favorite people had a baby a bunch of months ago and was disheartened recently when her clothes didn’t fit the same way post-baby as they had pre-baby. Even though she could remind herself that her innards had shifted when she birthed a person, there was still a part of her that felt betrayed. The clothes hanging in her closet are as yet still unwearable, not because they don’t fit but because they don’t fit her the way she remembers. She literally has a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear. The clothes lurk there, silently passing judgement on her postpartum physique. It doesn’t matter that I could remind her that she is a remarkably beautiful woman, with honeyed skin and big blue eyes that show a deep level of caring for others. Nope, it’s inanimate objects she’s paying attention to.

This weekend she’s going to be the boss of her closet and take down the clothes that aren’t comfortable at present so that she can assess what she has to work with. I hope that she’ll feel a burden lifted by putting subliminal reminders of the past away rather than lament what doesn’t agree with the beautiful woman she is at the moment.

We’re ever-changing multifaceted critters, we people, and our beauty is best expressed in our current evolution, not some vestigial remnant of clothes and days gone by. I don’t advocate to anyone that they run out and buy an entire closet every season – that’s pretty silly. I do, however, know how much better people feel when they feel comfortable in what they’re wearing. It’s just another version of being comfortable in one’s own skin, which is quite a bit more than skin deep.

Random thought for the day: humility

A person who is arrogant looks only in the mirror

One who is insecure spends too much time holding the mirror up to other people

One who is humble doesn’t need a mirror

 

 

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