Archive | March, 2014

Educational Insomnia

25 Mar

A long time ago my mom struggled with insomnia; a side effect of one of the medicines she was taking. I couldn’t understand what she was going through because, except for an occasional sleepless Christmas Eve or night before vacation, sleeping had never been a problem for me. But now I’ve come full circle & history seems to be repeating itself. Thanks to one of my medicines, I have insomnia.

Since I need the medicine, I tried to ignore those two full pages of side effects that MIGHT happen while taking this medication. I hate those TV commercials advertising medications for relatively common ailments that add a disclaimer “Has caused cancer in some patients, thoughts of suicide & rarely death.” Fortunately, that bit of gruesome information was not included on the two-page pharmacy leaflet that came with the pills but insomnia was, among other non-life threatening things; some of which I also have. But the insomnia is the thing that disturbs my sleep & my life. I consider myself blessed that it doesn’t include that “and rarely death” thing, so I try to deal.

My nighttime routine includes getting into bed very sleepy. I turn over a few times & I’m awake for the long haul. If I’m fortunate enough to go to sleep quickly, I wake up just as quickly two hours later & stay in that condition of suspended animation for hours until daylight starts to happen & I finally go to sleep. My day is shot because it’s difficult to get much done when you sleep until 10 a.m.

On the positive side I DO get my daily work-out tossing & turning.

So how do I pass the time in the middle of the night? Counting sheep only worked for a little while. By now I’m on a first name basis with all those “Counting Sheep” (One, Two, Six, Ninety-four) & that no longer works.  Instead, I’ve become an “Infomercial Junkie.”

It’s truly amazing just how many infomercials there are on TV in the hours before dawn. We get about 3000 channels & at one time or another, every one of them has an infomercial advertising SOMETIHNG during the night. This tells me one of two things – either there’s not a lot of regular programming producers wanting to air their stuff in the wee wee hours or there are a heck of a lot of us dealing with insomnia. And we insomniacs make up an audience of sleep deprived people who will buy anything in the hours before sunrise when we’re so sleepy we really don’t know what the heck we’re doing.  I’m guessing its door #2.

So how has this underground life of the insomniac affected me? I know a lot of stuff. Some of it I’ve learned because I’m actually watching the infomercials & some of it I’ve absorbed through osmosis. The amazing thing is, I’ve retained it; probably primarily due to repetition.

I can tell you how to burn belly fat in four different languages & three different time zones. I can do a complete set of Hip Hop Abs without even skipping a beat. I can repeat, verbatim, testimonials from no less than 25 people who have lost at the very least 400 pounds in six days.

I know how to straighten hair, curl hair & deal with hair loss in women. I know how to end male pattern baldness & sometimes that involves a can of spray paint specifically formulated for use on the scalp.”

I’m familiar with slow cookers, deep fryers, blenders & juicers that guarantee to give your vegetables more bang for their buck & add 10 years to your life if you use them regularly while indulging yourself in the joys of the Hip Hop Abs workout.

I know how to rid myself of unwanted lip, chin & nostril hair in the privacy of my own home & how to order catheters for my personal use that will be delivered by the UPS guy discreetly to my home in a plain brown wrapper.

And speaking of rap … well, not exactly rap … but I can sing without the lyrics on paper in front of me every song from the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s & the last decade INCLUDING rap.

I’ve become a midnight authority on the Wonder Bra, the Genie Bra, the “As Seen on TV” Bra & can slide into my Spanx without bursting the first blood vessel in my brain. This is certainly acquired knowledge that will help me through the trials of life or at least getting dressed for a night on the town.

I can now install a tankless hot water heater without referring to the instruction manual & can hold my own at the dinner table at any party when the topic of slipping dentures & flatulence comes up. I will be the first name at the top of the guest list.

They say time spent learning stuff is time not wasted so I’m guessing my Infomercial-acquired knowledge has somehow made me a more well-rounded individual who has a wealth of knowledge about a lot of things & a better person. Those HAVE to be positives.

In the long run, I’m exercising my brain. As we age, that is such a positive in warding off dementia & the ravages of Alzheimers. And you know what? It’s a lot better for old farts than sitting on the porch doing Word Search Puzzles.

Now, if I could just get some sleep …………………….



Ancestors: Sam, John & Will Part Three: Will

17 Mar

Friends of ours have a son who is in his third year at UVA. I’m FRIENDS with him on Facebook & recently he posted about living in student housing at “Lambeth.” I responded to his post telling him my ties with “Lambeth” & he did some research & learned quite a lot about the subject.  He thought it was fascinating.

Dr. William Lambeth (Will) was my great uncle & long time professor at the University of Virginia. He died before I was born but I always referred to him as Uncle Will & knew quite a bit about him from a very young age.

His wife, my great aunt Irene lived in Charlottesville until her death at 97. We saw her frequently. Mentally sharp until her death, she constantly told me stories about her life & about life with Will Lambeth. When she died she had very little arthritis, or so she claimed, & she had all of her own teeth. She credited that to exercise, diet & good oral hygiene. She was way ahead of her time. She left each niece (my mom) & nephew a little bit of money & my mom’s inheritance eventually helped purchase my first car. She left all of their kids (me) very nice, expensive watches. I still have mine although the car, an ancient Renault (called a ReNAULT in those days & not a Re-nooooo) has long since gone on to be spare parts & scrap metal.

In 1890 Uncle Will, a NC native son of a Confederate veteran, enrolled in the University of Virginia Medical School where he received his medical degree. The university hired him to oversee the Gymnasium while he worked on his PhD. Except for three years at Harvard University where he earned a degree in Physical Training, he stayed on at UVA after med school as a professor & joined the medical faculty. He developed a huge interest in athletics … particularly football … & also served as Athletic Director & physical education instructor.

At that time football was not just a very dangerous sport … it was far more so than now when there is an on-going controversy surrounding football, helmets & brain injury. In those days it was deadly. With only one break at half-time & the roughness of the sport, players literally died on the field & as a direct result of injuries suffered during the games.

In 1909 Uncle Will traveled to New York with UVA President & friend, Edwin Alderman to address the Inter-Collegiate Athletic Association (today’s National Collegiate Athletic Association) about football safety. He became a member of the Football Rules Committee that was attempting to make football a safer sport. He was responsible for instigating many safety practices, which included making football games into four quarters instead of a game with only one half-time break.

Uncle Will has been lovingly referred to as “The Father of UVA Athletics.”

Lambeth Field, Lambeth Stadium & Lambeth Hall were named after my Great Uncle Will. He left a permanent mark on the University of Virginia & added significantly to its rich history.

Retired Lynchburg ENT surgeon, John Rischer – himself an octogenarian – told me once that he had been in one of Uncle Will’s classes. He said that students loved him for many reasons but not the least of which was his teaching method. He sat cross-legged in the Lotus position atop his desk while lecturing, to the delight of his students. I LOVED hearing this story about him from Dr. Rischer. It reinforced in me the belief that there has been quirkiness in my family for decades & that it didn’t actually start with me.

Most of this is documented history; stuff anyone can find out through a Google search & it’s what fascinated our friend’s son, the UVA student. What isn’t documented history is what I know about Will Lambeth.

He & his wife, Irene traveled extensively in Europe. He possessed linguistic skills that made such travel easy & mostly carefree. They had most of the things they desired but were unable to have children. There were no fertility testing, fertility clinics or surrogates in those days so adoption was the only option for barren couples & the process was long & difficult.

During the pre-depression days my grandparents had a huge family … nine children with eight of them living. My grandfather was ill & times were tight so Will & Irene approached them about taking one of their children to raise as their own. They wanted the youngest … my mom. Being shy & sickly, she didn’t want to go but her sister, Betsy did & was eventually chosen. My grandmother, attempting to deal with a sick husband, many children & low income didn’t seem to mind relinquishing a daughter to the Lambeths. And so it was done.

They traveled & eventually partially educated Betsy in Europe. My mother was never sorry she didn’t have that luxury, while Betsy reveled in it.

Years later my Aunt Betsy & a friend were the first female students to attend some regular classes at UVA. Women had been attending classes through outside programs associated with the university but not actually attending on campus until then. Betsy would later describe their experience entering the all-male world of UVA. She said that when she & her friend entered a classroom, the male students would slam their books shut & stomp their feet in protest. But they were pretty cool women to take on the challenge & are part of the family “feistiness history” that fascinates me. I don’t know if Betsy attended full time but I do know she was a UVA graduate … again, to her credit.

I think Will Lambeth is probably one of the most interesting ancestors I have & I wish I’d met him. The fact that he taught his university classes sitting cross-legged atop his desk endears him to me & I am proud to be his descendant. Had I chosen education as a career, I probably would have taught classes from the same vantage point.


Be Complaint Free

4 Mar

Our minister decided should we wish to participate, that our congregation should give up complaining for Lent. He even gave all willing participants one of those blue stretchy rubber bracelets to wear for the duration of Lent that says, Be Complaint Free.

The deal is if we complain we move the bracelet to the other wrist. If we REALLY have a bad case of complaining (& the minister said, “You know who you are”), then you get more bracelets & start stacking them on your arms. My husband mumbled to me under his breath, You’ll have them all the way up to your armpits …” I’m assuming that was a joke because he smiled when he said it.  But maybe not … so I set out this morning to see; to monitor my complaining as we approach Lent.

I got up at 8 a.m. & it was only 9 degrees with a yard full of VERY solid snow. In my head I said to myself, “I can’t stand this … will it ever be spring?” I’m assuming if you’re alone in the house & THINK complaints in your head they still count, but I’m not sure. I was very careful not to say that out loud to the cat just in case “head complaining” isn’t counted against me, while being audibly vocal definitely is. There’s a fine line & I’m trying not to cross it in favor of armpits free of little blue rubber bracelets.

We’re having work done to extend our sunroom out onto the deck & the people were supposed to be here at 9 a.m. to begin the project, which seemed doubtful, but I got up early anyway. I’m really not complaining about that although I could have enjoyed staying in bed longer. I think that falls into the CHOICES & OPTIONS category & doesn’t qualify as a real complaint (does it?).

I checked email & wrote in my STATUS on Facebook that “I’ve totally lost interest in waking up to 9 degree temperatures & a yard full of very solid snow. I want spring & I’m on a personal pilgrimage to do very extensive damage to the groundhog …” (my friend, Nakesha responded that red wine probably goes best with groundhog for dinner). I don’t think my STATUS counts as a complaint but it is a definite STATEMENT OF FACT, so I’m letting myself slide on that one.

The Four Seasons Sunroom people arrived at 9:50 in three trucks & a flatbed filled with building materials. They were all smiling & even though they are starting work in 14 degree weather, none seemed candidates for the dreaded blue bracelet. How can that be possible? I KNOW I’d be complaining if I were working outside in 14 degree temperatures because how could I not? That’s just inhumane working conditions & I admire them for doing it & their cheerful attitude. What I’m thinking, though, is it’s so cold out there on the deck that their lips have frozen permanently to their teeth & they’re not really smiling at all… those are grimaces. Since I’m very excited about enlarging the size of our sunroom, I’m not complaining.

Hot flashes are another “iffy” area where complaints are concerned. I mostly have them in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep anyway because one of my medicines causes insomnia. At around 3 a.m. this morning when I was awakened in the midst of a “personal tropical moment,” I thought about some afternoons being cold while sitting at the computer in my office. I turn on a small electric heater & drink coffee & hot chocolate to warm up. At 3 a.m. this morning in my own personal “sweat lodge,” my THINKING voice asked why I never could have a hot flash when I NEED one. Again, I’m not sure that counts as a complaint for two reasons; 1) it is a STATEMENT OF FACT & 2) it is said to me by me in my THINKING voice in my head.  I’m not counting it!

I have a lousy knee. Sometimes when I’ve been sitting a while & get up, walking can be painful. I’m pretty sure I’m quite vocal about that when it happens & that certainly counts as a complaint, I think … but maybe not. That may fall into the category of RESPONSE TO PAIN & may not count at all.  I’m taking that off my “Complaint List” right now.

Our cat, Max may be another “complaint area,” not that he sets himself up intentionally to be the object of complaining. He is a Himalayan with long fur that causes hairballs that he coughs up with some frequency on the hardwood floors & most significantly, on my off-white area rug in the dining room. While I don’t fuss at him … he can’t help it … I do say stuff under my breath & mostly to myself like, “Oh, jeeze, why do you have to do that” or “Not on the off-white rug, PLEEEZE.” Once again, however, I’m not sure that falls into the complaint category. I believe that falls into the WISHFUL THINKING category & is definitely NOT a complaint.

I’ve just decided I’m going to make it through Lent mostly complaint-free & with far fewer blue rubber BE COMPLAINT FREE bracelets than my husband anticipates. What it all boils down to is a little CREATIVE THINKING & categories that change would-be complaints into most anything else.

I can DO this. My armpits will be filled only with deodorant at the end of Lent & I will not fall into our minister’s YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE category. What a relief …





Our Hunger Games Saga

1 Mar

In November we planned a wonderful evening out with a couple we are very close with to celebrate her birthday. It had been in the planning stages for about a month; dinner out at Logan’s Roadhouse, followed by a movie – Hunger Games. We were looking forward to the night out & the celebration, but here is how it ACTUALLY went:

Willy & I had recently been to TEXAS Roadhouse & somehow in my brain (they say this happens as we age) by the time we were in the car & headed for the restaurant, TEXAS Roadhouse just popped up in that “restaurant place” where LOGAN’S had previously been. Subconsciously, LOGAN’S had apparently been dumped into those dark recesses where things get lost as we get older. I wonder what else is in there.

And so it was on that frigid November evening that we found the last remaining parking place at TEXAS Roadhouse & made our way into the restaurant. The greeter girl (who bore not even a slight resemblance to the greeters found stationed at the entrances of WalMarts world-wide) asked if we were a party of two. We told her we were waiting for another couple. Since the restaurant was VERY busy she suggested we go ahead & be seated & promised she would point Peter & Beth in our direction when they arrived. We took our seats together on the same side of the booth – saving the other large seat across from us for our friends.

The waitress came & asked if we’d like drinks & an appetizer. We told her we were waiting for another couple but decided, since Peter & Beth are seldom late, to go ahead & do that. Shortly the drinks & appetizer arrived but Peter & Beth did NOT. Willy went to the entrance to see if they’d arrived & were perhaps waiting for us at the door. They hadn’t & weren’t but while Willy was gone I called Peter on his cell phone. He answered immediately & asked where we were. I told him we were in a booth & asked where they were. He said they were in the bar waiting for us. We hung up just as Willy arrived back at our booth.

Willy said he would go get Peter & Beth in the bar & would be right back. He came back after a while…alone. He said Peter & Beth were not in the bar. We both stood up & looked around, believing in the depths of our hearts that we would see them making their way towards us, smiling, with drinks in hand. We did NOT. At just that moment of confusion my cell phone rang. It was Peter. Where are you guys?” he asked & I told him.

In the meantime a couple had been seated in the booth next to us. They, like we, sat on the same side of the booth as though waiting for friends. I noticed that the woman began making phone calls while her husband began taking small trips about the restaurant, much the same as Willy had. In between his trips the couple seemed to be having a confused discussion. I deduced this because I recognized expressions on their faces that I’d recently been aware of on ours.

Getting back to Peter on the phone, I gave him a very clear answer to his question about where we were, including the name of the restaurant, which was NOT the roadhouse where he & Beth were. They were at LOGAN’S Roadhouse having drinks & an appetizer while waiting for us but we were at TEXAS Roadhouse. At that very moment, considering TEXAS, it seemed as though we actually WERE several states apart rather than just a mile down the road.  Since we both had appetizers & drinks, we decided to stay at our respective restaurants & ended up having a bit of dinner conversation on our cell phones. Not ideal, but after a while, it seemed to work.

Meanwhile, I couldn’t help myself & just had to ask the couple in the booth next to us at TEXAS Roadhouse if they were waiting for friends. With a voice filled with frustration the woman told us they were waiting for friends who, ironically, had gone to the wrong restaurant & were also at LOGAN’S Roadhouse. We had a nice chat & a few laughs with the other misplaced couple, Willy commented that this probably happened more often than suspected & we decided we hoped their friends had somehow found our friends & were having a pleasant meal together. Although that didn’t happen, it would have made a terrific story.

After dinner we met Peter & Beth at Regal Cinemas, had a good laugh about the earlier dinner confusion (which turned out to be my fault … remember those dark recesses in my brain?) & we gave Beth her birthday gift.

We got our tickets & went to see Hunger Games.

The theater was almost completely sold out & there weren’t four seats together. So Beth & I sat together & Peter & Willy sat behind us. Separated one more time on this birthday evening that was starting to seem like an episode of Twilight Zone with just a hint of Groundhog Day tip-toeing around the fringes, we made the best of our seating arrangements & actually enjoyed the movie, although sharing popcorn seemed like a chore & just didn’t happen.

After the movie we went for coffee & had a wonderful time. We sat together in MacDonald’s & talked about all the things we probably would have talked about at dinner. By the time we left, the MacDonald’s staff was sweeping the floors & looking at their watches.

In the end I realized I’ve had evenings that went without a hitch that weren’t as much fun as this one &, while I can’t remember most of them, I won’t forget our night out at the ROADHOUSE celebrating Beth’s birthday. She seemed to have a happy, albeit unique one &, in the end, we enjoyed sharing it with her & Peter … kind of.