Celebrating THE OAKS’ 30th Birthday

I’d like to pay tribute to two of THE OAKS’ most endearing and enduring women, Janet and Bernice.  THE OAKS wouldn’t be what it is without these two ladies.  They are an inspiration to all of us.

Janet, our fitness whiz, has been here the entire 30 years of THE OAKS’ existence!  Amazing!  She’s perfect for her job, vital, energetic and enthusiastic, the list could go on.  I’ve signed up for several of her classes (I’ve flunked out of a few of them, too) but she always welcomes me back, never losing patience.

There’s just one thing about Janet I don’t get – she’s so darned happy!  Happy! Happy! Happy!  Is this normal?  How can one person be so consistently happy?

The rest of us get up in the morning and open our blinds to a typical western Oregon winter day, grey or dark grey, drizzle or more drizzle.  Janet throws open her blinds and she sees rainbows and butterflies.  I visualize her preparing her breakfast; organic, non HMO, steel cut, gluten-free oatmeal, never seeing the grey or the drizzle, just rainbows and butterflies.

And while I’m on the subject, I’m not too sure about Bernice either.  I don’t know if she eats gluten-free oatmeal or not, but she’s a bright, unassuming person, young at heart, and a real pleasure to be with.  She’s another happy lady who sees only rainbows and butterflies.  A resident of nearly 26 years, Bernice will soon celebrate her 100th birthday.

Has anyone ever seen Bernice frown?  I don’t think she even has frown lines.  Everybody has frown lines, I was born with frown lines, but not Bernice.  Imagine living here 26  years and never frowning!  Unreal!!

Think of the changes these two ladies have seen, the changes they’ve been part of, the changes they helped to bring about, always remaining the same happy people.

Is it just coincidence that the two women most closely associated with THE OAKS seem to be the happiest?  I have to wonder about the connection.  Sure, it’s a great place to live, sure we’re all treated with affection and respect from the invariably kind and gracious employees, but there seems to be something more.

I’ve mulled over several possibilities.  Perhaps we become more appreciative as we get older, maybe our age group was taught to concentrate on the bright side of things or maybe, as we near our second childhood, we accept things in a more child-like manner.

I even pondered the possibility of something in the water. Hey, that’s not as far fetched as it sounds.  I’ve heard several residents comment on the fact that the water in the dining room tastes different from the water in the apartments.  What do you think?  Maybe a little PROZAC in the ice-cubes?  Nah, they wouldn’t do that.  Or would they??  One can’t help wondering…

All I know is I’d like to be associated with  THE OAKS  for a long time to come.  I’m trying hard and I do eat lots of gluten-free oatmeal.  I’ll never reach Bernice’s 26 years or Janet’s 30 years but I’ll be happy with what I get.  I like rainbows and butterflies too!

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Auntie Jo’s Dilemma: Diet or Exercise?

“Mercy,” gasped Auntie Jo.  “Gracious Me!”  Well, those weren’t her exact words.  Auntie Jo’s language was usually much saltier, but shock had set in and she was nearly speechless.

And the cause of her shock?  Her jeans, her favorite jeans , the ones with the multi-colored spangles on the back pockets and the fringe down each leg?  They wouldn’t close.  The button lacked a good two inches of meeting the buttonhole, and the zipper?  Forget the zipper.  She’d snagged her undies and pinched her tummy too many times on that zipper.

She fell back across her bed, breathless, and tried to assess the problem. She’d been through this before and had to admit she already knew the answer, too many jelly donuts and too much time spent tweeting on her iPhone.  She even knew what to do about it.

The answer was not pleasant. Diet and exercise.  Diet or exercise?  Diet, no exercise?  Exercise, no diet?  How depressing!

O.K., decision time.  “Do Something!”  Auntie Jo told herself emphatically.  Maybe she could ration the jelly donuts, limit the tweets and sort of ease into an exercise program, a few deep knee bends at a time. Maybe she’d try a gym, something she’d never done before.

GOOGLE turned up several possibilities. AHA! Here was one that promised results with a 5 pound weight loss in one week’s time!  One week!  She could handle one week!  A quick phone call and she was signed up for the very next morning.  She was so pleased with her decisiveness that she treated herself to one last splurge, a Super Double Giant Cheeseburger, then happily began to plan a shopping trip and an entire new wardrobe.  In a smaller size, of course.

The next morning Aunty Jo grabbed a comfy old tee shirt and leggings and set off for the gym.  The tee shirt was a little snug, the legend, “Hot Babe,” had faded and the leggings only came down to her knees.  No matter, a week from now they’d fit.

She stopped at the nearest CuppaJoe for some glazed donuts (the kind with no jelly) and a caramel latte, figuring she’d need the energy for her work-out.  Any extra calories would easily burn off.

Licking donut glaze off her fingers, she cheerfully signed in at the gym and was assigned to a group.  She took a quick peek around to make sure she wasn’t the chubbiest person in the room and confidently joined in the exercises under way.

It didn’t take long to realize her mistake.  The pounding beat of the music, the strange terms used, the jumping jacks – OH! those jumping jacks, the kicks, the squats, the lunges, the abs, the lats, the glutes.  What on earth was it all about?

Auntie Jo’s left foot tripped up her right foot so many times she had to sit out two whole series of moves.  Shaking and breathless, she managed to last through the entire 30 minutes.  She staggered up to the instructor long enough to pant “I just can’t do this”  and was stunned to hear how well she’d done!

“Auntie Jo, you were a natural!  We’ll have you shaped up in no time.  See you tomorrow.”  Speechless, Auntie Jo wobbled off toward home, aching and shaking, the loud music still ringing in her ears.

She managed to finish off most of a carton of CHUNKY MONKEY ice cream before falling into bed, where she slept the clock around.

The next day brought pain to joints Auntie Jo didn’t even know she had and she resolved never to go to another gym for the rest of her life.  Several cups of mocha fudge latte and a few glazed (but no jelly) donuts gradually revived her flagging spirits. She managed to drag herself back to the gym for another 30 minutes of sheer torture, her hopes for the 5 pound weight loss leading her on.

Gradually the week wore on.  Each day seemed to bring a tad less pain and a tad more improvement.  Weigh-in morning finally arrived.  She jumped on the scales with one last burst of energy, eager to confirm her 5 pound weight loss.

What’s this?  UNREAL!  She’d gained 2 pounds!  How could that be after an entire week of pain, agony and suffering?  After all that, where was the 5 pound weight loss?  The exercise plan hadn’t worked.

Auntie Jo crept home, finished all the ice cream in the freezer along with a package of Oreos, crawled into bed and pulled the covers up over her head, visions of her new wardrobe fading away.  Now what?  She tossed and turned all night long.

Morning finally arrived, Auntie Jo’s eyes flew open and she jumped out of bed.  She had a plan!  No more diets, no drastic exercise.  She promised herself she’d be much more prudent in the future; as for now, the perfect diet plan had just popped into her head.

Now, Auntie Jo had long been known among family and friends as a terrible cook. She seldom cooked and when she did, any invitations she extended were tactfully turned down.  If asked about this, she just laughed and claimed her cooking was guaranteed to give anybody heartburn.

So how to lose weight?  Simple!  Give up fast food meals, coffee stops and two-wine lunches out with the girls.  She’d prepare all her meals at home, and eat only her own bad cooking.  Brilliant, if she did say so herself! To celebrate she headed for her seldom used kitchen, began banging pots and pans around and soon sat down to a thoroughly unappetizing breakfast of weak coffee, burnt toast and dry, salty scrambled eggs. Even the O.J. tasted sour, probably because she’d added a dash of bitters. (Not a good idea.)

A few bites and she’d had enough.  Happy to have finally settled on a foolproof diet, Auntie Jo got busy and wrote out a grocery list featuring all of her least favorite foods.

Mealtime wouldn’t exactly be fun time for some weeks to come, but she hung her spangled, fringed jeans right in front of the refrigerator and grinned in anticipation.