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FAT MIRRORS—Part 2

The following day, Walter  Young joined Charlie Swanson at his round Moka-House table.  Sipping his dark roasted flavor of the day, he said, “I’m not sure what happened yesterday.”

“What happened my friend, is that you got side-whacked by two women who have a mission proving fat mirrors exist.”  Charlie grinned and asked, “When is the shopping trip?”

“Today,” was the succinct reply.

Charlie missed a day with his coffee friends due to his long-awaited visit with his cardiologist, but he heard all about fat mirrors the next day.

“Missed you yesterday, Charlie,” Muriel Long greeted him. “You missed hearing about the whole fat mirror research excursion. Walter went with Annie and Violet to visit several boutiques and unisex clothing shops. Checked out the mirrors in each shop and came to a conclusion. He’s not telling us what he concluded but it’ll be in his article in Sunday’s ‘Around Our Town’ section of the ‘Victoria News’.”  At that moment, Walter Young set his latte and mocha fudge brownie on the other side of Charlie. Violet Whitfield sat beside him with her almond croissant and Americano coffee.

“Missed you yesterday, Charlie,” Violet commented. “Did all go well with your specialist?”

“Annual checkup and I’m still ticking along like that Timex watch commercial.”

“Did Walter tell you about the shopping trip? He’s keeping it a secret on whether or not fat mirrors exist.”

Charlie smiled. “I must admit I’m curious about the plausibility of fat mirrors.”

“I have to tell you, Charlie,” Walter mumbled as he bit into his brownie. “Initially, I didn’t believe the ladies, but there’s nothing like a bit of research to prove or disprove a theory. Meanwhile, I’m enjoying my free desserts for a week. . .”

Charlie looked at him expectantly. “Surely you can give us a hint on whether fat mirrors actually exist?”

Taking another bite of his mocha fudge brownie, Walter chewed, swallowed and finally managed a comment.  “I did get to visit a mirror shop and talked to the experts about the quality and tint of the glass used for mirrors. It was quite an education.” Shaking his head, Walter continued.  “I can tell you that the quality and thickness of the mirror; the way it’s displayed;  the size of the change-room and the lighting in the room all influences whether or not a customer looks great.  Does the mirror have a delicate tint? Is it tilted or flat against the wall? These things are all part of the looking terrific game of selling.”

“We tried to get him to declare that fat mirrors do exist, but he won’t admit it yet,” Violet laughed. “Would you like another one of those mocha fudge brownies, Walter?”

“Yes, thanks Violet. I’m enjoying all my desserts but. . .” and making the familiar motions of zipping and locking his lips, Walter grinned and said, “But keep the pastry bribes coming, Violet. Everything will be explained in the Sunday article that I decided to call, “The Skinny on Fat Mirrors.”

“Catchy title, Walter. I’ll look forward to reading the piece on Sunday.” Smiling, Charlie  collected the sections of newspapers he wanted to re-read, grabbed his sturdy walking stick, tipped his hat to his Moka-House coffee mates and cheerfully departed with a “Enjoy your day, my friends, but don’t stand in front of any fat mirrors!”

 

 

 

 

 

FAT MIRRORS–Part 1

Annie Soo set her cup of decaf cappuccino and her napkin wrapped chocolate fudge brownie on Charlie Swanson’s table. Muriel Long grabbed the chair on the other side of Charlie, plonked her cup of dark roasted coffee down and replied to Annie’s earlier question.

“I’ve never heard of “fat” mirrors—have you Charlie?”

“Are you talking about mirrors that are thicker than regular mirrors?” was the puzzled answer.

“No Charlie,” Annie answered. “I’m talking about mirrors in dressing rooms that make you look fatter.  Jeff just laughs when I tell him this, but what do you expect when you’re talking to someone who buys clothes every decade or so.”

“To be honest, I haven’t bought anything in quite some time, but I’ve never heard of fat mirrors.”  Charlie tried to supress his grin at the sudden vision of numerous ladies expressing horror as they looked at themselves in these “fat” mirrors.

“What fat mirrors?” demanded Violet Whitfield as she brought her cafe au lait to the table. “I swear they have them at ‘Petra’s Boutique’, since anything I tried on definitely made me look fatter.”  Ed Barnes ambled over to set his cup of mocha latte and cherry danish on the table, snagging the chair beside Violet.

“Ladies, Ladies,” he laughed.  “If everyone dropped their pastries and passed them over, you wouldn’t have to look into any more fat mirrors.”

“Okay, now I get it,” exclaimed Charlie. “This is one of those female topics, right?”

“We may as well get another table, Charlie. Once these ladies get a buzz in their brownies, it’s a lost cause to grab a more serious topic of discussion. For myself, I’ve never encountered a fat mirror  and I’ll be 67 in another two months.”

“Wait, here comes Walter. Let’s hear what he has to say about fat mirrors.”

Charlie, Ed, Violet and Annie took sips of their coffees and bites of their various pastries, watching Walter Young settle in his chair, sip his cappuccino and take a satisfying bite of his pecan tart.  “What’s up?  Want a bite of my tart?” he asked with a puzzled frown. “I could feel your eyes and waves of tension throwing themselves at me across the room.”

There was a collective rolling of eyes around the Moka-House table as the coffee mates looked at their wannabe writer.

“What’s your opinion of fat mirrors in dressing rooms, Walter?” challenged Annie.

“Umm-mm, is this a trick question?”  Walter took  a cautious sip of his cappuccino. “I’ve never heard of fat mirrors.”

“This is one of those ladies’ pet peeves, Walter. Charlie and I were about to move to the next table over so the ladies can bash away at fat mirrors that exist only to drive women crazy.”

“Hey, not so fast—I’m a writer who’s always looking for a good topic and this one may be a ‘winner’, especially if it attracts the female readers,” was the quick response.  “So Ladies, what are your opinions on fat mirrors. Do they truly exist? Or is this another ‘urban legend’ voiced by women who won’t admit they are slightly overweight and that this  excess is magnified by  a mirror.”

“I must admit Walter’s logic is a possibility. We all know that cameras can add pounds, why not mirrors?” Violet thoughtfully remarked.

“See!” Annie triumphantly crowed. “Fat mirrors do exist regardless of what men think.”

“Too bad Peter isn’t here. He has such a geeky logic about most things,” Violet murmured.

“I’m pretty sure if you ladies passed your desserts over, I can save you all from the agonies of fat mirrors,” Walter commented hopefully. Walter was skinny as a beanpole and ever since the Moka-House friends congregated daily, he had the enviable metabolism  that burned off his calories and sugar intake as fast as he ingested them.  Annie and Violet looked at each other and then at Walter.

“What?” he asked. “Are you seriously going to pass over your desserts? There’s only a bite left in each and I usually get them without any bites in them at all.” He paused and added, “It’s like getting a chocolate with a huge piece missing.”

“Walter, come with Annie and me to some clothing stores and check out the mirrors in the dressing rooms. Tell us if they make you look fatter.”  Walter looked at Violet with horror. “I can’t go into a ladies’ dressing room unless it’s with my wife.”

“We’ll pick an unisex store so it’ll be okay.”

“Or, you can go in as Violet’s boyfriend,” Ed suggested helpfully.  “You know, the younger man/older woman? What do they call these women—oh yes, ‘cougars’. . . .”  Violet’s mouth curved into the beginnings of a grin at the thought.

“Honestly Walter, all you have to do is try on something and check in the mirror. Or, come in when I have something on and tell me if the mirror makes me look fat.”  Violet  looked at Annie and getting her nod added, “We’ll buy you dessert for a week if you do this for us.” Annie added, “Consider it research for your article on fat mirrors.”

Walter looked thoughtful, gazed around thetable and reluctantly nodded.

(to be continued)

 

 

FASHIONS

We all know–especially women–how quickly fashions come and go. Bouffant hairdos and bobby socks in the 50s gave way to long straight hair and sandals in the 60s. Hemlines went up and down faster than Elvis’ pelvic twitch.

I never fell for any of the trends because none of it was flattering to my short shape; besides, I never did “master” the art of fluffing and puffing the hair.

A few months ago, searching for the perfect outfit for a family wedding, I saw a lot of trends that didn’t exactly “make it” in Victoria. Most of these items were on sale for an almost-free-give-away price. Let me tell you about them.

In the summer dresses I never bought, the uneven hemlines were a source of frustrations for me. I finally found a dress with short sleeves, a decent neckline, pockets and in my size except for a hemline that seemed to drag to the floor on one side and went above the kneecaps on the other. I suspect the length was supposed to be worn by someone much taller. This fad was not at all suitable for a shorty. Another annoying   feature also involved  hemlines that ended with pleats—not the entire garment—only the hemlines.  Pu-ul-lease, we can’t all be leggy models!

Foregoing the idea of a dress, I decided to search for a nice top. After all, what can a sane designer do to a nice top?  Well, let me enlighten you. No longer dependent on unique colours, patterns and textured fabrics, tops get embellished. I don’t mind a few sparkles to make it dressier, but I totally detest any additions of cute flounces or bobbles. And,      to find what would have been a great top except the sleeves, necklines and hems had flounces with bobbles  was just too much.  Who let the wacky designers decide that unconventional clothing was the way for the masses? Hey, we’re not all young, confident and quirky to feel unique wearing your designs.

Where are the great designers who put style and class into their clothes? There are an awful lot  of us loving the classical charm of clothes that makes any woman feel good.  The chic, grace and panache of classical clothes will always attract our attention. In this day and age where money is a great motivator, designers who tout their outrageously zany clothing line will eventually discover that traditional and classical sells better. Classical is never boring because there is a wealth of material and designs to make a classical piece unique.

Women do not dress like their mothers, but they know what appeals to them. I love the simple classical styles. The use of updated colours or textures in the fabric, makes it far more appealing to me than any superficial or distracting detail that makes the garment a one-time wear only. Classical pieces are timeless. Dresses can be changed-up with a belt, scarf or piece of jewelry; skirts or suits with a blouse or sweater. Perhaps this is why classical pieces are difficult to find since I’m less likely to search for another skirt or dress when I already have them in my closet.

Classical clothing is out there somewhere on some young, obscure designer’s mind. I’m hopeful he or she will have that  aah-ha moment soon and we’ll see our 21st century version of classical clothing for women.

Meanwhile, those older and younger women–who look chic, attractive and fashionable, are wearing their updated classical pieces that are popping with colour, not bobbles. Or maybe, they’re wearing their older classics that are ageless and have outlasted any fads or trends. . .

 

 

Fortune Cookie Future

This one is for Gillian, Aces and the Hilltop Ladies’ Trekkers, who requested that I repost my fortune cookie story.  So, as I start my “hilly” route and they tackle their hilly hike, here is my fortune cookie post of  2014.

Fortune cookies are one of my secret weaknesses. I know it’s very non-Chinese of me because honestly, fortune cookies were never a genuine Chinese tradition–only in Chinese restaurants as a gracious way to present the bill. I hate it when the Chinese restaurants offer the obligatory fortune cookie to each person at the table. This means you only get one grab at a fortune. But when you get to scoop a bunch of tasty fortune cookies in your own bag, then your chances of getting a decent fortune increases tenfold.

You know, when you have one of those moments when you crave something less potent than dark Belgium chocolates and a lot more than healthy snacks? This is one of those snack attacks when chips and Cheetos just won’t do, but you definitely don’t want a rice cracker either. When all else fails to entice, then it’s a bag of fortune cookies for me.

I had the fortune cookie craving the other day. I felt I needed some fuel for walking the hilly 4-mile route around my neighbourhood. Reading the fortunes always spurred me on as I snacked while tackling the hills. Besides, I could burn off 2000 calories, maybe even 3000, by the time I completed my route.

The first hill is a killer because my knees practically hit my chin as I make my way up the top, munching three fortune cookies during the climb. Before descending the other side, I read my fortunes. Number 1 said: “Beware any obstacles.”  As far as I could see, I had two more hills before the route leveled out and got me home. Fortune #2 said: “Smile and the World smiles with you.”  Just knowing I had two more obstacles made me groan. Who could possibly smile?  Fortune #3 said: “Your efforts will pay off.”  Now, that one was a keeper.  I wanted to look great in my new dress and by gosh, by golly, I will!  Tucked this fortune in my pocket and chucked the others in the trash bin.

Downhill was a breeze—a fast pace downwards, a block of level ground and the n the start of hill number 2. This one is a sneakier hill because it’s a gradual upgrade, then steep near the top and a slow drop down the other side. Because the route is longer here, I ate five more fortune cookies. Finally reaching the peak, I sorted through my fortunes, two were the same: “Stop and smell the roses.”  Not yet, not until I complete the last hill. The next fortune predicted: “Today, indulge your craving. Tomorrow arrives soon enough.” Whoa, was that some kind of dire warning? My last fortune said, “The sky’s the limit this month.”  I liked that. Tucked that one in my pocket; but wait, five cookies should have five fortunes. One of my cookies arrived empty—or, was it? I didn’t think I had dropped a fortune and I sure as heck wasn’t going back to look.

Trudging down the gradual decline I waited until I got to the final hill before I ate my way through the last four cookies. This was actually a medium hill with a medium incline and then a running decline. Finally, a block from home, I checked my slips of paper:  “Laughter is the music of one’s soul.”  Hmm-m, that sounded nice. The next slip of paper said: “Fortune has a fickle heart and a short memory.” Guess that meant my lottery ticket didn’t win–again. The final two were identical and whoever wrote these had a terrific sense of humour.  “Fortune smiles at those who help themselves; but sometimes Fortune needs a good kick in the pants to recognize you.”

Never mind that I devoured a bag of fortune cookies. Of course Fortune was seeing the future thinner Me. That 4-mile walk had to have burnt off 3000 calories. Whoever said “Never trust a fortune cookie” didn’t know what they were eating—I mean, reading!

Side Roads, Fences and. . . .

Beckoning RoadBeckoning side road

I’ve been tackling some challenging walking routes in my daily routine. I’ve walked or more like climbed some very steep hills; the kind where your kneecaps almost hit your chin, if you’re a short person. I’ve also walked a route where the hill begins gentle and gradually keeps climbing. These are my deceptive hills. It doesn’t really start as a very steep hill because it tempts you to keep moving. It isn’t until you look behind you that reality hits that it had been a steady climb upwards; the final hill being a kneecap-to-the-chin climb before it finally leveled off to a fantastic view of water and mountains. I like exploring side streets or lanes that beckons. Sometimes, unexpected surprises pops out when you least expect the unusual.

This is a very creative gardener to use an old bicycle as part of the garden display. And no matter where you roam, the urban deer roams close by, unafraid of any humans.

Bicycle by a Garden - Copy (2)                                                                                    Cropped Pic of Deer on Victoria Drive

Fences catch my attention because Victorians do know what kind of fence they prefer.  Some Victorians can also make their distinctive statements regarding their privacy. . . . .

corner wall                 Decorative Fence in Hampshire Lane                                             fence4

And best of all, the colours and art that springs out to delight the eyes of any walker. . .

Birdhouse               Red Poppies - Copy

Heron at garden Centre2

Walking is definitely a fun way to enjoy exercise, fresh air and the unexpected treasures encountered on a daily jaunt. Just watch out for sneaky hills. . . . .and urban deer.

 

MACHO MAN of the GYM

One of the first things taught to everyone who attended Liz’s “Orientation Class for Using the Weight Room,” was that we  had to wipe the machines down and leave it at its zero settings when we finished. Everyone who attended Liz’s classes did exactly that. We respected each other’s efforts and treated the machines as if it were ours.

BUT, when the weekends and evenings arrived, so did Macho Man. He and his fellow Macho Men ignored the signs and did all the things we were told not to–drip their sweat on the machines as they tried to best each other by adding more weights or peddling faster on the stationary bikes or running harder on the treadmills. And, that was just warming up. When they left each equipment, the next person to use it had to wipe it down and reset the weights.

I know. I especially know all the moving parts of each piece of equipment and how to reset the weights on the equipment used for upper body strength. The first time I reset the weights, I was so nervous I unscrewed this huge nut and the whole system fell out of the metal support.  I had to spend most of my reserved 1/2 hour putting it all together and then using the remaining 10 minutes to make sure the equipment still worked as it should. It did.

Normally, I don’t go to this particular gym in the evenings but Lyssa, my god-daughter, who is on the university swim team, wanted to put in some gym time. I agreed to go with her to keep her company. She calmly watched Macho Man leave his machine to amble over to another. He was not coming back to clean off his machine or reset it.

“Hey Muscles!” she called out. “You didn’t wipe your machine down or reset it.” She tossed him a casual smile and stood there waiting—61 inches of slender female in an oversize tee-shirt and pink shorts; long curly hair held back with a scrunchy and patiently tapping her shapely sneaker clad feet on the mat. Macho Man stopped and turned around, rudely eying Lyssa like a tasty appetizer.  Lyssa stopped my angry movement and stepped in front of me.

“Not nice to drip your sweat all over the equipment, Muscles–especially not cleaning up after yourself. This is a nice gym and has rules for a reason.”

“You going to stop me, Mini-Gal?”

No, but I can stop you from coming back.”

“Don’t think so ’cause I’m way bigger than you, Mini-Gal.”

“I wouldn’t touch you unless I had my sani-wipes in my hands, Muscles. All I have to do is tell my Daddy about you and all your buddies. My Daddy is the Chairman of the Board that runs this gym.”

Macho Man, aka “Muscles,” displayed his most intimidating pose, pumping up his muscles and staring Lyssa down with a petulant smirk. His body language and smirk said very clearly, “Make me,” as he sauntered off to join his buddies in the testosterone corner—that’s where all the serious weights and bar-bells were.

I had encountered bullies in the schoolyard and bullies in the workplace. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised to find bullies at the local gym. The weekdays were so much more civilized since all the macho men and bullies were busy terrorizing their workplaces.

Three days later, I returned to the gym to catch the excited buzz zipping around about the Macho Men. Henry, the stationary bike guy I peddled beside, gleefully said:

“Guess you heard what happened on Sunday?”

“Haven’t been back since I hit the gym with my god-daughter on Friday evening. Lyssa had a few words with Macho Man,” I replied.

“Seems the chairman of the board for Parks and Recreation was hitting the circuit when the Macho-Men came in and did their usual thing. The chairman called them on it and reminded them nicely to wipe down the equipment they used and reset it back to zero. Macho Man told him that wasn’t their job and to feel free to do it. Then the yahoo went off to join his buddies.” Henry continued with a grin at what happened next.

Well, it seemed William S. Sorensen, Chairman of the Board for Oak Bay Parks and Recreation, was no wuss to stay silent. He threw out his booming drill-major voice and brought the entire gym to a halt.

“Halt, You! In this gym, no one ignores rules that are there for a reason. If you wish to continue using this gym, then you do your own wipe-downs, etc. Otherwise, I have the power to ban you from any Oak Bay Recreation Centre and I will pass the word along to my colleagues in the other municipalities as well.”

There was silence as 6 feet, 4 inches of muscle-bound Macho Man tried to outstare 5 feet, 6 inches of the Chairman of the Board. Then Macho Man quietly got a paper towel and sprayed it with disinfectant to wipe down the machine he had been using. He also reset it at zero, ready for the next person.

“No one’s seen any of them since,” Henry reported. “It seems the Macho Men probably found another gym they could take over and do as they wish. Hope so, ’cause the machines are always clean and reset now.”  Thoughtfully, Henry paused for a moment and then remarked, “I’ve never seen William S. Sorensen in this gym before and you know what else? I checked the names of the Board members and there is no William S. Sorensen on the list.”

Falling “Off” the Foodie Wagon

There is one word I try never to use—the word is d-i-e-t, diet. I figured I would burn-off excess calories the way I always had in the past. Well, okay, in the far, far, long ago past. However, a recent family wedding which involved numerous photographs, taken at every conceivable angle, showed my Winnie-the-Poo “hunny” tummy. I was determined to get back into my svelte shape–wait, that wasn’t me–that was my sister. . .Anyway, as everyone knows, it’s way easier to pack on the fat cells and tons harder to remove them.

My plan was simple—no breads, no mini-doughnuts, no dark chocolates. Caffeine was okay since black coffee didn’t have calories. Since this was my favourite season, Hubby and I would load up on fresh veggies (salads) and fresh fruits with fish or chicken for the protein. Seemed like a good plan and easy to follow. It wasn’t really a diet, just not eating all my favourite no-no’s.

The first day of following the agenda was almost my downfall. The Avenue, outside my front door, was closed to vehicular traffic as vendors from all over Vancouver Island and Greater Victoria, converged for the first Oak Bay Summer Outdoor Market. The first Avenue Market is always the best because this is the one where new vendors test the waters for public response to their products and older vendors return with the public’s favourites.  I had already lost 4 pounds and felt confident I would not be tempted by delicious foods and/or fancy pastries. Hubby came along with me and since he never indulged in sweets, it felt doubly safe to have him as my deterrent.

Ha, fat lot of good that was! We had already navigated past 3 French pastry stalls, 3 different home-made fudge and chocolate vendors, a fabulously awesome macaroon pastry stall, 2 farm-fresh produce stalls, the Greek food cart, the Mexican Taco food cart, the Risotto Ball food cart, a Barbecue Salmon food cart, the Italian pasta/pizza food cart, the Sausage Wagon, 3 wineries, 2 gin companies,  2 cider/beer vendors, Grandma’s Kitchen plus 4 jewelry vendors, 2 hand-made children clothing carts, a candle-maker, a leather accessory vendor and an exotic lady selling silk scarves and blouses. We were almost homeward bound when I fell off the foodie wagon, figuratively speaking.

What made it difficult not to stop was the vendor was in my sing-along group. The cart was operated by the Rotary Club and the funds it generated went to good causes. Before I could say, “Hi Ray!” a bag of mini-doughnuts, hot from the conveyor belt, was in my hand. I guess I’m only human when I inhaled the scent of the cinnamon-sugar sprinkled on each mini-doughnut. In a nano-second, I decided that doughnut holes were way more calorific than mini-doughnuts. The logic being that regular doughnut “holes” were 100% fried dough–miniature size but still  solid mini-balls of dough. BUT, miniature doughnuts were tiny AND had a hole in its centre, making it less fried dough. Perfectly logical and reasonable thinking. . . .

The next day, I tackled the elliptical for 15 minutes at Level 7 with the incline. Then I went for my 4.5 miles of walking.  Hopefully that “burned-off” the bag of mini-doughnuts.

The following week, I scheduled a full-day of exercise. My “drill sergeant” was really tough. Mena Maye had made the amazing discovery that she could not only stand upright but run like the wind when you’re not watching. Fourteen months old and already in charge of her domain including everyone around her. By this time next year, Mena Maye would be “training” a new sibling, but in the meantime, my little dynamo kept me moving and ever alert. That was a fun work-out as well as a bonus break for her Mom. I have signed on for a few more sessions with MM as she’s “tough” but I get results!

I have learned something about myself over these past few weeks. I only like “fun” workouts. Not all exercise classes are fun but I thoroughly enjoyed the drop-in Line-dancing and the Zumba Gold.  Zippity-doo-dah music with lots of movement in a class filled with enthusiastic women brings us all back. It’s true when the experts claim that a simple 15-20 minutes of daily walking helps, but for me, I need more. It’s been a learning process to find what works for me. And, it’s working if it doesn’t feel like exercise. As long as it’s entertaining, enjoyable and definitely not boring, I’ll eventually reach my goal.   Line-dancing anyone?