Back to school memories live on

bus-20clip-20art-school-bus4

Courtesy of Clipart Panda

For most of us, the anniversary of a particular event, experience, birthday, or a death of an influential person in our lives will trigger memories. Most recently, the anniversary of the 9-11 tragedy brought back many memories of that day and of weeks and months that followed. In early September, I am always reminded of a more routine but also special event: the first day of school.

I haven’t worked in a school system for six years, but when I see ads for backpacks and three-ring binders, and friends posting their kids’ and grandchildren’s back-to-school photos on Facebook, the memories flood back.

In my childhood and youth, by mid-summer I was bored and ready to return to the classroom. I wanted to meet my teacher(s) and reunite with my friends. And I loved school. But those weren’t the only reasons for looking forward to September. I loved shopping for new school supplies: wide-lined tablets, freshly sharpened pencils and later fountain pens, pristine notebook pages unmarred by my sloppy handwriting, textbooks not yet coated with yellow Magic Marker. (I’m still addicted to buying writing supplies.) Even more special than locating just the right tools of the trade was the task of searching out the best possible first-day-of-school outfit, something that would easily be recognized by my peers as the latest fashion.

For my entire career I worked in school settings. In the K-12 system, even in administrative offices, the first day of school was a BIG DEAL. Schools had to be cleaned, teachers assigned to classrooms, food service ready to go, playground equipment put in good working order, and much more, including a plan for taking care of children who disembarked at the wrong bus stop. In my job as the media contact the first day and week were quiet. Typically, I’d have to scout out an elementary school principal willing to have TV cameras on campus filming parents saying goodbye to their kindergartners, ideally all sobbing together. At the end of the first day, the school board met and heard inspiring reports of all the first day happenings by school. Everyone left excited and possibly relieved that the news from the schools seemed to portend another successful year.

When I worked at a community college, the first day of school lacked the excitement of the public school system. Students registered, went to class, sometimes changed their schedules, and went home. While there was commotion, the spirit of a fresh start didn’t permeate this setting.  I worked in a counseling and career center, so we mostly saw the students who were frustrated and lost, physically or emotionally. The most predictable outcome of September was that my colleagues and I caught colds.

When I first retired I was well aware of opening day. Six years later I still know when school starts. The school buses roll through the neighborhood, and parents and children assemble expectantly at the stops. I think about past school beginnings as a student and a worker and am glad that the working life is behind me. But also happy that good schools in this community and learning will always be around.

While others think of January as a time for a fresh start, I often think of September as my time to get organized, slow down the social life, open a new notebook and make plans for writing, reading and learning something new. For three autumns I enrolled in non-degree programs at the University of Washington. This year, a friend and I joined an organization that offers frequent lectures by academic and literary figures. We’re attending our first on Saturday, the perfect way to start the school year. No textbooks, no homework, no awkward conversations with professors whose classes we plan to quit, no tests, and no colds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in changes after retirement, current events/themes, memories, personal reflections, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Seasons of change

fallen leavesNorthwest skies are gray and our backyard plum and maple trees have already begun to let go of their leaves.  No matter how warm the days, nights are cool. Projects I began in the spring, then ignored while the sun shone, are appealing again. Suddenly I’m in the mood to stay indoors, to read.  Books from amazon.com and the library pile up in each room.

 

Since it’s obvious that the season is changing and because I just turned a year older, the first book I chose to read had to do with the seasons of our lives. It’s called “Triumphs of Experience” by George E Vaillant and tells the story of the 75-year-long Harvard study of adult development. The goal of the study was to determine what kind of family life, personal qualities, experiences, and behaviors would lead to a longer life and good physical and mental health in old age.

The author describes five stages of adult development* the last two of which he calls Guardianship and Integrity. I’m focusing on these two because for me the earlier stages are history. Guardianship, he says is “the capacity to care.” One of the study’s subjects tells a story that illustrates his entry into this stage. “‘I have finally come through to a realization of what is of critical importance to our future — that we finally come to live in harmony with nature and our natural environment, not in victory over it.'” Integrity is “the capacity to come to terms constructively with our pasts and our futures in the face of inevitable death.”

 

What have we learned from the Harvard research?  I cherry-picked a few of the study’s conclusions. Although only white males were included, the conclusions seem reasonable for either sex.

1. We don’t stop growing and changing when we leave school. We develop throughout our adult lives, even into our nineties if we live that long.
2. Marriage becomes happier after 70.
3. Being a conscientious child was the most important predictor of well-being among those 65 to 85 years old.
4. “A happy old age requires both physical and mental health. For mental health, love is a necessity.”
5. “Physical aging after 80 is determined less by heredity than by habits formed prior to age 50.”

This quote from a letter by George Eliot gives voice to the season of the year and the season of life:
“Is not this a true autumn day? Just the still melancholy that I love – that makes life and nature harmonise.” In other words, a good day to curl up with a book.

*based on the work of Erik Erikson

Posted in aging, friends and family, health, seasons, support and caring | Leave a comment

Good posture: your mother was right

Illu_vertebral_columnWhat advice did your mother give you that you listened to and still follow? Or listened to and ignored? A few years ago I read a book containing words of wisdom passed down from mothers to daughters. What the mothers forgot to mention, and which I now think about daily, is my mom’s mantra for me.  She began repeating it starting when I was in seventh grade:  “Stand up straight.”

Now, many years later, I’m sorry I didn’t pay more attention, for I’m convinced that good posture is essential to healthy aging.

Why worry about posture?  From a chiropractic website, “Studies have shown that good posture can help you have more energy, less stress and avoid fatigue. In fact, good posture is essential if you want to stay physically fit.”

Another site says, “…Good posture means your bones are properly aligned and your muscles, joints and ligaments can work as nature intended. It means your vital organs are in the right position and can function at peak efficiency. Good posture helps contribute to the normal functioning of the nervous system.” In contrast, poor posture can lead to “fatigue, tight achy muscles in the neck, back, arms and legs, joint stiffness and pain.”

I am becoming a crusader for good posture, starting with my own. I’ve been receiving gentle chiropractic care — called Network Spinal Care — for several months. I can feel my posture improving, though not enough to overcome bad habits of slumping in front of the TV or the computer and bending my neck forward to text. I have a “before” photo that shows the curve of my spine is wrong and my neck is not in line with my shoulders.  I’m sticking with the program until I can see an “after” photo that shows my body in alignment. As a new advocate for standing up straight, I’ve also begun making enthusiastic — though unsolicited — presentations to my friends about this treatment.

Good posture is as important to younger generations as it was for my generation.  I was only exposed to computers in the workplace some twenty years ago.  Imagine kids who sit with their necks craned forward in front of screens starting in preschool.  When an anesthesiologist gave me a cortisone shot in my spinal cord at neck level, he said he was now seeing patients as young as twelve, not an age when a body should be needing regular cortisone injections.

But wait. The benefits of good posture get better. Everyone of a certain age has heard the warning:  as you age you will become invisible. I believe the better your posture the less likely this will happen, because “..when you are slumped over, or hunched over, not standing straight, you can add years to your appearance.” Good posture gives you confidence, vigor, and a more powerful physical presence.  Even if standing up straight doesn’t bring store clerks swarming to assist you, for women, there’s one advantage that beats them all:  “Any woman, no matter what her age, can help reduce the sag in her breasts by nearly 50% by simply standing tall.” If this isn’t an incentive I don’t know what is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

My very slow weight loss program

WW success storyI’ve lost 9.6 pounds in a mere six months, that’s a whopping 1.6 pounds per month. Dr. Oz will cry when his viewers hear reports of my miracle program, which, by the way, puts a little less weight (pun intended) than his plan on the role of green tea in helping those pounds slide off.

Much earlier this year, I decided to lose ten pounds. I just wanted to turn the fist-sized love handles around my middle into small bulges more the size of love knuckles.  Not a big challenge, I thought, just cut back on sugar. In the two months following this resolution, I added a few more pounds. “That’s it,” I told my husband.  “I’m rejoining Weight Watchers.” He decided to do the same.

I know the Weight Watchers’ approach works. It has every time I’ve tried it. WW employees spend their working lives examining fat, sugar, and nutrients in anything you can put in your mouth and chew. They then assign points to these food items and advise participants to eat anything they want within a thirty-point limit.

The cornerstone of the WW program is counting the points for everything you eat in a day, even if the total comes to more than 30. They convince you to eat many fruits and vegetables by assigning these zero points, and proteins, most of which are low-point items. One possibly unwanted boost to your protein points is the 6 oz. T-bone steak which provides more than one-third of your daily total. (Since 6 oz. seemed small, I checked the menu of a local steak house for weight of the smallest steak on their menu. It’s 8 oz. and the largest is 24 oz. No worries if you need bypass surgery following the larger meal. Whatever they feed you in the hospital will have very few points.)

After my first WW session, I read over the Pocket Guide and made a quick decision to stay away from certain choices, such as,”restaurant-type grilled cheese sandwich” (20 points), accompanied by 8 oz. of prune juice (10 points), on the grounds that I prefer to eat several meals of many foods every day, and not a single 30-point meal consisting of two items, one of which is prune juice.

The other times I participated in WW, I didn’t mind writing down my points, but this time after two or three days I quit counting.  It’s obvious that eating a pound of nuts will delay your next meal for a week. What more did I need to know? Instead of counting, I looked up some items, weighed some, and decided to wing it.

I didn’t stress out if I gained weight one week and lost some the next. I enjoyed every dinner out and every party, but controlled my portions.

I reached my goal yesterday.  Our leader said, “Now we have to talk about how many points a day you will have on ‘maintenance’. What’s your average now?”
“Uh. I don’t know. I didn’t count.”
“We’ll you’re going to have to count for a few days so you know how much more food you can add to maintain your weight.”

So yesterday I counted. Wow. Forty-five points. Today I was a pound higher. At this rate I won’t have to worry about maintenance.

PS In all seriousness, there are women in our weekly weigh-in who have dropped more than one hundred pounds using this system. The program works…if you count your points.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

French bread-making as an Olympic event

bread.JPGYesterday , when I turned on the TV to record something scheduled for later in the day, I encountered the PBS program, the “Great British Baking Show.” It’s a reality show like many American cooking competitions, but with a name more polite than “Cutthroat Kitchen” or “Throwdown.”( It’s true that in 2013, an American show modeled after the British baking program aired for a short time. It was replaced by “Big Brother.” Need I say more about American reality TV audiences?)

The British contestants were charged with making French bread, real French bread, which I consider a food group in its own and, undoubtedly, the most important food group. The recipes I’ve used before, including the one I blogged about earlier that required nine days to produce bread, all make decent-tasting bread. None, however, lead to the kind of bread you’ll find in every Parisian bakery. With help from the British bakers, finally I could produce authentic French bread.

I found the recipe on the show’s website. Four ingredients. A lazy baker’s dream.

I scanned the rest of the page. Oh, there was a second page and a total of thirteen steps.  I looked at the clock.  My husband would be home in a few hours. Surely enough time to bake the bread, and enjoy a lunch to remind us of the City of Lights. I started to work.

Hmmm. Fifteen minutes to work in water by hand, another fifteen to knead in the yeast, and another fifteen to add the salt. After forty-five minutes I knew I’d stayed away from the gym too long. What a relief to have arrived at step four: letting the bread rest.

Wait!  I missed step three. “Grab dough at one end and lift shoulder high. Slam it onto work surface and roll dough over on itself. Give dough quarter turn, grab one end and repeat slamming and rolling.” And I have to slam and roll for how long? Another fifteen minutes? My arms were already hanging limp.  Was bread-making now an Olympic event? An hour after I began, the recipe mentioned a fifteen-minute rest.  I raced to the couch and stayed there until the timer went off.

My husband walked in the door, and we ate open-faced sandwiches on the last of the two-day-old bread from the grocery store.

At least I have help now, I thought, for the eight remaining steps. I turned to page two of the directions. No. Really? Steps six through twelve direct the shaping of the dough before it, and the baker, have a two-hour rest.

The final line of the recipe, and the only one we ignored, said, “Cool at least 20 minutes before cutting.”

bread 2

Bread straight from the oven is always good and this was no exception. In minutes, we’d finished half a loaf. We tapped the loaves and the crust was hard, though it didn’t look gnarly like real French bread. We broke the loaf open by hand to examine the inside texture, like the judges did on the British show. It looked perfect. But the flavor? Was it any better than the loaves we’ve baked before using other recipes?  Hard to tell, but the house smells great, much better than the gym.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Suddenly I’m a fan of Chick Lit

editors

Sample bios of editors from PNWA conference

I’ve pitched my novel to literary agents and editors for the past five years at the Pacific Northwest Writers’ Association conference.  Over time, these professionals have been gracious, and most asked me to send them something, sometimes only a synopsis and the first ten pages of my novel and other times the first fifty or one hundred pages.

The beauty of pitching the same story again this year to a different set of agents was that for the first time I was pitching a completed novel.

But this year the experience wasn’t beautiful.

First, the setting.  Picture a long, narrow windowless hotel conference room. Rectangular tables in the rear, pushed end-to-end, stretch across the length of the room.  Two chairs sit behind each. Agents and editors fill these chairs in alphabetical order. In front of them is a row of blue tape, the starting line for the race. At the pitching hour, the doors open, writers storm the room, choose an agent or editor who represents the genre they’re writing, and stand single file behind the blue tape until the bell rings and the announcer says, “Let the pitching begin.”

Each author pitch, including time for questions from the agent, can last no more than four minutes. When time is up, a bell will ring, the agent hands the author a business card and asks him or her to submit something, or the author walks away empty-handed, eyes aimed toward the floor, away from other writers who have pitched successfully.

This year, I found myself in the latter group.  I heard, “It’s a great topic, there’s a market for it, but I’m not interested;” “It sounds too complicated;” “It doesn’t sound like anything I’d like to read;” and other variations on these themes.  What’s going on this year? I asked myself.  I pitched well, didn’t read my notes, didn’t stumble. I’d rehearsed it before other writers, and they had pronounced it and me ready. The subject has been well-received for four years. Why wasn’t it likeable now?

I’ve always had trouble deciding on the genre of my novel. Mainstream fiction? Women’s fiction? Mainstream commercial fiction? Upmarket commercial fiction? (Yeah, I don’t know what that means either.) To cover all bases, I picked agents who specialized in at least one of these and chose whichever genre title they wanted to hear most.

On the second day of pitching, I chose a friendly looking editor whose bio said she was looking for mysteries and women’s fiction.

I introduced myself and my genre — women’s fiction for her — and gave my pitch.

“That was a good pitch,” she said.  “I’m looking for Chick Lit. Is your story funny?”

Oh my god, I thought. She wants stories about female airheads looking for rich men. My protagonist is seeking social justice, not a date. How did I end up with this editor? Her bio should have been clearer.

Then I thought about her question.  Now that she mentioned it… “Yes,” I told her.  “It is funny.”

“What percent is funny? Think, “The Devil Wears Prada.””

I started running through the chapters in my mind.  There were obviously funny ones, but percent?  “I don’t know. It’s not funny at first, but midway…”

“Here’s my card. You can send it all.”

“But I don’t know if it’s really Chick Lit.”

She shrugged and pulled her card away.  “It’s up to you.”

“Wait! I reached for the card and took it, not yet entertaining the idea I might use it.

Later, I shared the experience with a friend who knows my story. She said, “That’s great. It’s perfect.”

“But my character is smart. She’s not chasing after men. She’s saving the world.”

“I know your novel. Without much effort you can make it funnier. If you want, I can help you decide where to insert more humor. It will work. Do it!”

I thought about this for a while. My character was funny.  She did get herself in embarrassing scrapes. What did I really know about Chick Lit? Had I written in this genre without even realizing it? I hadn’t ever felt comfortable with whatever genre du jour I’d chosen. None seemed like quite the right fit, but agents always want to know where a novel belongs on a bookstore shelf.

The next morning, my former teacher of Popular Fiction echoed my friend.  “Make a few changes. It will work.”

Minutes later, I saw the editor sitting alone drinking coffee. I walked over to her and sat down. “I pitched to you yesterday,” I said.  “Later, I realized I have never been confident about whichever genre I tell people I’m writing. Thank you for helping me see my story in a new way. Whatever happens, I appreciate your challenging me about the box I’ve put my story in. It’s a message about other boxes too.”

“It’s always hard to put some books in categories,” she said and smiled. “I look forward to reading your manuscript.” I floated away.

P.S.  I found a website that helped me put Chick Lit in perspective.  The protagonists are not all airheads.  And as one writer friend told me, “It’s stories about bad-ass women.”  Not quite my protagonist, but maybe with a little editing…

 

 

 

Posted in inspiration, writing | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Too many friends or not enough books?

bookshelfWhile complaining to a friend recently that I had no free time, she reminded me of a very old song — the title sounds familiar though the tune doesn’t — called “Those Lazy Hazy Crazy Days of Summer.” I don’t think there is such a thing as a lazy day anymore, summer or winter. Hazy days, occasionally. The day after joining friends for “Happy Hour” this week, my memories of that experience were very hazy, though the word doesn’t characterize most of my days this month. Crazy, however, fits July perfectly.

Lunches out, a wedding, a birthday party, dinners out, more lunches out, more dinners, multiple “Happy Hours,” volunteer jobs, out-of-town visitors, and a four-day conference. I’ve even seen a friend from elementary school and a college roommate this month. I told my husband that based on the number of social events, July and December are remarkably similar.

We cancelled a trip scheduled for today to dine with friends in another city. We still want to see the friends, but what a relief to have a day at home to work on our own things-to-do-lists and not have to socialize.

Even if I feel too busy, warm summer days are a premium in this area and cannot be taken for granted, nor can friends.

I have read one novel this month, when usually I’d have completed four by now. Nothing is more satisfying than getting lost in a good book, ignoring everything but mealtimes, my husband and the cat. I opened a new library book yesterday and realized I’d read it. Following that I opened a book I bought. After 30 pages, I knew it would not be a favorite. Maybe my issue is not so much about too many social engagements as it is about not having a good book to read.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Dress Codes

office wearA friend and I meet often at a Starbucks in an office park and enjoy the parade of office and tech workers coming in for their morning coffee break. We first revel in the fact that they’re working and we’re not and then turn to examining their work clothes. We check out the six-inch heels on the women and are thankful we’re not wearing them. Beyond that, there is little uniformity: slacks, mini-skirts, long skirts, dresses, tunics, jeans. Styles include high collars and no cleavage, low-cut and lots of cleavage, loose, and tight. Anything goes. Then we move to the uniforms of the men: shorts and t-shirts or jeans and t-shirts. Oh yeah, and athletic shoes. Backpacks are the most common accessory.

Thinking about today’s work clothes took me down memory lane. When I was a university student, women could only wear skirts or dresses. My second job after graduating was in a community college, where again we were not allowed to wear pants. A few of us “rebels” complained to our boss and said we would like to propose a new dress code, one that would allow for certain tasteful trousers. He told us to form a committee and develop a proposal.

About the same time, Yves Saint Laurent was designing the first pantsuit and the idea caught on fast in the ready-to-wear world. Our committee went through catalogs and magazines and cut out samples we thought the boss would accept, pasted them on poster board and presented them to him. After he approved, we shared our pictures with the rest of the staff.

I’m confident that what Laurent designed was not the pantsuit our committee came up with. Most of the ones on the market were one color, made from cheap material, and without any redeeming flourishes. I remember proudly wearing my first outfit that passed muster with our boss: a maroon polyester pantsuit. The pants were baggy by the end of the workday, but wearing pants represented victory.

Now, the thought of going through what we did to be able to wear pants in the office makes me cringe. But I researched the issue and found that our experiences were not unique. We argued for change and were successful in the 70’s, but “until 1993 women were not permitted to wear pantsuits (or pants of any kind) on the United States Senate floor.” I wonder if they had to form a committee and cut out clothing ads, then plead to their colleagues for permission. Or was the Supreme Court the final arbiter?

Posted in aging, current events/themes, personal reflections | Tagged , , , | 11 Comments

A wedding gift for eternity

bouquetBeen to a wedding recently? My husband and received an invitation to a wedding this summer, our first in several years. Our friends are either long-married or confirmed singles. Given the infrequency of the invitations, we don’t know what’s in and what’s out for weddings, or more precisely, wedding gifts.  Actually, we never did know.  We were married by a judge in the county courthouse. We didn’t know about gift registries then, and even if we had, we never considered owning china, silverware or crystal. (Years later we inherited all these things.)  It was the seventies. We had little money and our lifestyle was simple.

Thankfully, the recent invitation directed us to a couple of wedding registries, so we knew choosing  a gift would be easy. A few days before the wedding date, we visited Macy’s and typed the bride’s name in the store’s wedding registry computer. We tapped our toes and checked our watches as we watched the gift list grow to the point it reached the floor. As it got longer and longer and began making its way toward the housewares department, we expected to see the message, “This machine is experiencing technical difficulties.” But the message never arrived. Eight feet and three inches of paper later, it ground to a halt.

Reading the 93 items on the list reminded us of two wedding gifts we received (the only ones we could remember): three stainless steel serving trays, which we still have, and a hideous bouquet of plastic flowers which we didn’t keep for more than a few minutes. We only received about seven gifts.  Imagine trying to remember 93.

Despite the length and depth of the gift wish list, it still signified that not much has changed from the past. When I mentioned this to a friend, she updated me on something that has: the addition of honeymoon registries. She knows two attorneys who are getting married and have added honeymoon options to their gift list. I’m imagining the choices:  hotel room upgrade: $300 a day; room service —  three dinners, $450;  private surfing lessons, $300; and new warm-weather wardrobe, $4,000.

Wedding customs vary from culture to culture. In many cultures, money is the preferred gift. This saves a trip to the registry and the time required to pour over the list. But even this practice has its drawbacks.  A Romanian friend said that guests put their cash donations in envelopes, which they set in front of them on their tables during the reception.  They then hold their breath as the emcee moves around the room, chooses some envelopes to open, and reports their contents to the larger audience. The stingy donor is soon exposed, much to the pleasure — and relief — of others who have given more.

The more I think about these changes, the better our wedding sounds.  We’re still married after 44 years and only have one bad memory of gifts. We still laugh about the plastic flowers. In a charitable moment, my husband said, “Plastic lasts for eternity. Maybe the sentiment behind this gift was, ‘May your marriage last as long as these flowers.'” Nice try.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Getting soaked in Iceland

Blue Lagoon

Blue Lagoon

Who visits the saltwater thermal pool — a giant hot tub — in Southwest Iceland known as the Blue Lagoon? Tourists like me, who believe they’ll be sorry if they travel all this way and miss out on the most well-known destination in the country.

I say tourists because of the high admissions fee;  it cost us 60 Euros each, while there were seven public pools in Reykjavik with entrance fees of about $5.  Also, the number of selfie sticks or phones bathers carried into the Blue Lagoon in clear, waterproof bags seemed inordinately large for local residents looking to relax after a day at work.

Whatever the cost or clientele, I had to go.

As it turned out, the kind of adventures the seven of us from our group experienced weren’t quite what I imagined.  Getting to the pool was the first challenge.  The transport we thought we’d arranged turned out to be a free mini-bus that drove us two miles to the Reykjavik bus depot, thus giving us the opportunity to board another bus and pay about $40 each for the round trip to the lagoon.

Because rush hour and freeway construction were causing a traffic jam, the bus took a colorful alternate route, winding through neighborhoods and small towns at 20 miles per hour. We arrived at our destination 45 minutes past our appointed time.

As we checked in, we each received electronic bracelets, different colors for different fee levels that would permit us to open and close a locker and charge for other services. The clerk warned us that we’d pay a hefty fee if we lost the bracelet. Our pink bracelets labeled us ‘economy bathers.’

The three females in our entourage found an available locker in the darkened changing room only after peeping like voyeurs into a series of small rooms filled with naked women. We changed, showered, and dripped our way out into in the chilly evening light.  “Ah,” we said as we shivered, “So that’s why the lifeguards walking around the swimming pool are dressed from head to toe in winter wear.”

Once accustomed to standing in neck-high bathtub water, we checked out our setting. Why were the faces of the cluster of bathers standing nearby painted in white? And how could we achieve the look of geisha or Kabuki actors too?

In the center of the main pool bobbed a man balancing a tray that held several containers.  He looked like a butler about to deliver a meal. We slogged over to him and held up our pink bracelets. “You’re eligible for a silica mask,” he said, a treatment we hoped would tighten our skin and erase wrinkles. He scooped a handful of white mud, which we slathered generously on our faces. Our expectations plummeted as we spotted the facial for people wearing green bracelets: algae. If only we’d paid another 15 euros, we could look so young that bartenders would be asking for ID.

We walked around and tested the water temperature in different areas, which were separated from the main pool by bridges, lava rock buttresses and other geologic formations. We stopped at a wet bar and used our bracelets to charge Skyr smoothies (Icelandic yogurt) and continued to wander around.The water temperature was perfect, but after an hour, though our faces felt taut, the rest of our bodies were wrinkled. Buses back to town left infrequently and we intended to be on the next one.

Everything went smoothly until I’d changed my clothes and walked into a restroom. Shortly after I’d shut the door, I saw a pink bracelet on the floor.  I checked my wrist. Gasp. My bracelet was missing. I held onto the one I found as I searched futilely through the changing rooms. I was going to have to exit with someone else’s bracelet and pray they hadn’t charged too much for which I would be billed.  I explained my problem to the young woman at the checkout stand.  “What did you buy while you were here?” she asked.  I answered and she confirmed that what I’d charged matched the charge on the bracelet, “so it must be yours.” I felt like Winnie the Pooh and his friend, Piglet, who decided their own footprints belonged to a wild animal.

My husband (who had been patiently waiting for me to exit the dressing room) and I made it to the bus — to the cheers of the folks we had come with — one minute before it departed. Though the driver had promised us he’d drop riders off at their hotels, after stopping at five in the heart of Reykjavik, he took the rest of us to the bus depot where we caught another ride to our hotel.

I’m glad I went to the Blue Lagoon.  After all, I had to. But if we ever return to Iceland, one of those $5 community pools without tourists and cameras sounds like a perfect place to bathe but avoid getting soaked.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments