I thought I was old!

Posted on May 15, 2006

by Trudy A. Martinez

Taking an aerobic swim class can be fun.

I thought I am too old.  I am sixty-five (or I was when I wrote this).  To top it off, I am on a short leash so-to-speak:  The oxygen tube line only lets me go so far in the water.  That is okay.  But when there is a current (and there always is with everyone stirring up the water to do the exercises), I seem to drift, making the work effort and the struggle to get back into a safe place and keep from dragging the tank into the water with me all the harder. 

Most say the safest place for me is on the side lines. But I disagree.  I never (at least not yet) pull the tank in with me.  Although the tank was christened, I didn’t do it.  Take my word for it, it doesn’t float!  It is heavy. It sinks to the bottom of the pool immediately.

Bubbles come popping up to the surface.  No, I didn’t fart!  The tank did!  There is a leak in the hose the day it joins me in the deep-end of the pool.  It is quite funny. 

The person who pulls it in will never forget, especially since everyone keeps reminding her to keep her eyes open and stay clear of the (invisible) line. Two young men come to the rescue, pulling the tank from the water and setting it back on the edge.  It is a lot harder getting the tank out of the pool then it is getting it in!

Anyways, the instructor is 76 (then).  I have difficulty keeping up with her, but at least I am trying.

She does this for a living.  My daughter who goes swimming with me says she gets a real work out.  She is amazed what this woman does, not just the hour that we are there but also the hours of classes she teaches daily.  She isn’t on the side lines telling those in the water what and how to do it; she is in the pool doing it too.

I wish I still had the shape and stamina I did when I wore this “Yellow poke-a-dot bikini.”

 

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It brings back the memories of those good old days.

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Grama’s Birthday

Posted on October 7, 2007

by Trudy A. Martinez

Today is not my birthday: that day passed weeks ago but here stands Elijah and Charity, wishing me happy birthday, handing me a present, asking me to open it, gleaming with joy from anticipation.

The package they hand me is a work of art:  personality spills from its hand painting design; each stroke tells a story, filling my heart with joy; each color depicts a mood, an emotion springs from it, leaping at my heartstrings.

There is a cake waiting for us to eat so I need to get along with my story.

“I painted this!”  Elijah exclaims, smiling as he points to his design.  “Charity painted this,” he continues as his words spring to life in the ears of his little sister standing next to him, waiting her turn to speak.

“Open it Grama!” her words ring out, sprinkling the air with the soft tones of her voice.

“Do you know what it is?”  Elijah queries.

“No,” I reply, “Can you tell me?”

“Can’t tell. Can’t tell, Grama, Elijah!”  Charity’s reprimanding voice rings out.

“No-O-O-O-O-O.”  Elijah answers, dragging out the one syllable word, lingering it in the air momentarily before he adds, “You need to open it, Grama”.

My fingers already begin to carefully undue the paper from one of the packages.  The paper is unique as it is homemade; the designs are drawings Elijah and Charity make.  The pictures will make a perfect addition to my refrigerator door that houses and adorns such treasures.

My two-prize possessions hang from a loop chain attached to a magnet on that door:  pacifiers, one blue one and one pink one.  The blue one Elijah gave me a few years back.  The pink one Charity reluctantly gave up on her second birthday.  She was not forced to give it up; she did so willingly, but it is a difficult decision for her to make.  I remember.  She stood at a distance from me, covering her eyes.  She knew it is her birthday; she knew she is going to give up her infancy with the passing of her prize possession to my refrigerator door and thereafter, ‘patsy’ will be my prize possession.  My thoughts are suddenly brought back to the present with the sounds of voices:

“Come on, Grama, hurry up–Open it”, Elijah says.

“Open it,” repeats Charity.

“Here,” Elijah adds, reaching for the other end of the package, ripping the paper off quickly.  Charity in the meantime, picks up the other package and quickly opens it for me.

“Here, Grama, here’s your present.”

“Thanks honey that is a pretty cup.  Why, that is my name on it:  Grama.  It’s a Grama cup.”

  Elijah just finishing the unwrapping of the other present proudly holds it up for me to admire. “Do you know what it is, Grama?”

I look it over.  It looks like a milk carton, but windows are cut out of each side.  There are also two small holes in each side.  In addition, it has been painted all over with paint, different colors of paint.  There is a separate stick that goes with it.  On the top of the structure, a rope like twine is attached to it on both sides.  “Hm mm,” I think, “I wonder what this beautiful creation is?”  Elijah and Charity eagerly wait for a reply.  I was taking too long to guess and they are extremely anxious to tell me.

“It’s a bird feeder, Grama!”  Charity exclaims.

“You put seed in here,” Elijah explains“, and then you put the stick through here,” he continues, “And the birds come and eat the seed”.

“They come and eat the seed.”  Charity echoes, smiling.

“It is beautiful”, I say, “I know just the place to hang it.”  We go to the patio, hang the bird feeder, and then, come back inside to watch and wait, but no birds come.

“They’ll come”, Elijah and Charity assure me.  Nevertheless, the birds did not come and Elijah and Charity went home.

A few days later, Kit, my cat, starts jumping, running, and acting real crazy.  She sits at the patio door, swinging her tail back and forth, faster and faster her tail goes back and forth.  She’s trying to get my attention so I will let her outside.  I open the blinds and see there is a bunch of little visitors in my backyard:  birds perch on the bird feeder on the little stick that sticks out from the side.  Birds are walking on the ground, pecking at the seed their friends up above drop on the ground from the pretty bird feeder Elijah and Charity made for me.

I immediately call Elijah and Charity on the telephone to tell them about the little visitors.  They are not home.  I leave a message.  Here is what I say:

“That beautiful bird feeder you gave me for my birthday is bringing joy. There are lots of birds in my backyard where before there was none.  The birds are eating the seed. I keep filling it up with more and more seed because they are very, very, hungry.  Need to go now–just want you to know–love you.

Oh yeah, Kit likes it too. She likes it so much. She jumps, runs, and acts real crazy.  She wants to go outside with the birds.  She wants to catch them, but they fly away when they see she is coming out.  Love you–Bye.”

No Where to Run

Posted on December 4, 2006

By Trudy A. Martinez

Reassuringly, little voices whisper dramatically, “It’s okay, Kit, we’re not going to hurt you.”

Kit, my flame point white Siamese cat, is asleep when the two young children surround her with the intent of making friends.  Normally, she runs at the sight of them.  Now she is unknowingly in a corner surrounded by them with nowhere to run.

When the words, “It’s Okay — we’re not going to hurt you.” are repeated in unison, Kit’s eyes open.  Obviously, she is not sure what to make of them:  Her ears move from their normal stance, when their hands reach out for her, to a stress slick back position.

They pet her, gently.  Kit’s ears remain down.  “It’s okay,” they reassure her.  Their words did nothing to change her countenance.  She is stiff and looking for a way to run.

Perhaps she recalls the day before, being in the corner and her tail pulled.  The perpetrator of that incident is now gently running her hand from the top of Kit’s head slowly over her thick winter fur to the tip of her tail without tugging.  The question now is:  Is Kit going to relax and take advantage of this freely given affection?

The children continue to assure her they mean well with each movement of their hands over her body.  It is a slow process, a persuasive process, a winning process.  Kit’s ears relax, finally relinquishing their stress.

Smiling the children exclaim, “She likes me!  She’s purring,” They add, “She likes me.” With excitement, “She’s purr-r-ring.”

Armed with Feathers

Posted on June 19, 2006

By Trudy A. Martinez

I came up pillow in hand.  Resounding agitations arouse not only me but also my anger.  With a fury, I hurl the pillow in the direction of the origination of the noise.  Kit knows not to scratch the chair; that cat knows better. The racket her nails make, protruding inward, pulling outward, creates a reverberating, irritating, and displeasing noise. The noise awakes not only me but also a demon who seeks her out.

“It’s only 4:00 A.M…” I scream.  “Leave me alone. I want to sleep.”  And then I exclaim with dramatic emphasis, shaking a finger at her while I speak.  “Don’t you dare touch that chair again with your nails?”

Her body stretches out and moves upward while her nails position themselves in the chair ready to scratch.   When the sound of my angry voice reaches her ears, she stops. She glares at me. She tests my patience.

I stare back.  She releases her nails from the upholstery. She then slowly moves away in defeat.  “Now get out of here!” I exclaim as I hurl another pillow as she exits.

“She’ll be back.” I think. “Maybe, just maybe I can grab a few winks before then.”

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I’ll be on Top!

Posted on June 18, 2006

By Trudy A. Martinez

Half asleep my eyes open.  A rolling motion startles and awakes me.  Looking at the clock, I note the time: 4:35 A. M. (Or there about; I always set it ahead of the actual time). The room is swaying, rolling.   My imagination runs wild, thinking, imagining, wondering if the second floor will fall upon the first.  A voice inside me rings out: “Get up!  Get in a door way!”

Common sense tells me, “Stay where you are.”  I know my knees are weak and I will fall before I make it to a doorway even if I try.  If this is the big one, prayers are my only avenue of escape.  I stay put.  An eternity seems to pass.   When in actuality, only a few seconds go by.

I look around, stopping when Kit’s eyes meet mine.  Her expression says, “Why are you shaking the bed?”  Usually in the morning when I want to sleep, she wakes me.  Now this little cat is thinks, I am the perpetrator.

“I am not doing it.”  I assure her in a calming tone.

The rolling motion continues, building momentum.  My inner voice regurgitates and reasons: “You’re better off where you are.”

I remember experiencing such a long rolling earthquake once before.  Then in a compromising position, I am balancing myself (stark naked) on the edge of my whirlpool spa in a glass house, a glass enclosed patio.  I let another convince me if I go in naked no one will see me; she assures me struggling with a wet bathing suit each time I go in is not only unnecessary but also ridiculous.

Of course, who knew an earthquake would hit just at the moment I straddle the edge of the whirlpool, naked, with one leg in and one leg out.  I question my decision, after the fact, when the earthquake hit as I balance myself on the edge of the spa.  My imagination runs wild. I see myself at the bottom of the pool of water naked. Dead.  “How embarrassing to be found in such a state,” I think.

Now here I am again, telling myself, “You’re better off where you are.”  Reasoning:  If the roof falls, the headboard and the footboard will stop it.  If you go down stairs, the second story will fall on you–you’ll be crushed, mashed, trapped on bottom.  If you stay where you are, you’ll be on top of the rubble, not on bottom.  Besides, there is a soft mattress under you, a blanket over you, and it’s warm.  What would it be like if you move?  “Stay where you are–stay, stay.”

The movement recedes and then, the quake stops almost as abruptly as it began.  Only 45 seconds elapses but yet, an eternity seems to pass, nothing fell, not even me.

Kit stands, stretches, and then lies back down, digs her head into the soft comforter before she again closes her eyes.  It didn’t even faze her.  How can she go back to sleep?  Wasn’t the earthquake a wake-up call from Heaven?  It wasn’t me as she thought.

I shake the bed, unable to resist the temptation to show her the difference.  One eye opens, and then quickly closing once she sees it is only me.

 

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Next time. Next time, we may not be as fortunate.

Abandoned and Home Alone

Posted on December 4, 2006

By Trudy A. Martinez

She did it again. She left, leaving me here alone again. Why? I do not understand. I’ve been good. Why does she leave me?  When she leaves, she’s missing for days. She locks me in. I can’t get out. I’m left alone. I can’t leave; I can’t reach the door knob; I can’t open it.  I can only sit. I can only look. I can only watch. I can only watch everyone outside living life to the fullest. But what is someone to do when you’re left alone for days on end.

When I am feeling sorry for myself, like I am right now, I mope. I mope around. I sleep. I sleep some more, more than I should.   I guess you might say I’m depressed.  I get lonely.  I tend to get in mischief when I’m lonely and alone.  I think I do it just to get back at her for leaving me.  After all, turn around is fair play.  Isn’t it?

It’s fun to do things you’re not supposed to.  I am feeling down, a little possessive too. I go upstairs to sit and look out the window at everyone playing on the green grass. Then I look for trouble because I can’t play on the green grass. I roam the room instead. When I get to my favorite chair, I find it occupied. Nope, I’m still alone. But to my surprise I am now alone with her stack of papers.

“That’s my chair!” I exclaim.  I quickly throw all the papers on the floor.  But I didn’t stop there.  I am still upset because she left me.  So, I tear the papers into little bits; I shred them!  I even make sure, if she is able to glue them back together, she will never be able to read them.

I poke all the papers full of holes before I shred and tear them.  The ink runs on some of the pieces because I put them in my mouth and get them wet.

Oh is she going to steam when she sees what I did.  I’ll surely get her attention.  She will yell, “My papers!”

Well, they were her papers and she can have them now.  I had my fun.  I’ll bet she’ll think twice before she puts anything on my chair again. I bet she will think again about leaving me alone. It will serve her right. She deserves torment.

What is that noise? I look out the window. The car is home. That means she is home. I turn. There she stood, frozen in time.

  Are those tears in her eyes? She stood glaring at me; she didn’t even blink.  “Hasn’t she learned by now I can out stare her?” I think.  I think, “She’s getting ready. She’s attacking me. No, wait. It’s the look at me when I talk to you time. Just before she attacks, she does this. That’s okay. This time I will not back down.” I keep telling myself, “I will not back down. I will stare back.”

She reaches for me.

I want to run. I just stare. I freeze. I stare. I am frozen in place. I can’t move. “Oh no! Oh, no!”

She scares me. She is so intense.

She is grabs me. I didn’t yell out; I didn’t fight back.  I wasn’t scared.  I did get my motor running though–you know–I start– “Purr, purr, purr, purring.” That always gets her to smile again.  Then, she starts petting me.

She loves me no matter how mischievous I am or what I’ve been into.  I love her too.  But I hate it when she leaves me here alone.

The Winners

By Trudy A. Martinez

As I approach the Junior High, a hum catches my ear like a swarm of bees.  Occasionally, a high squeal pitch punctures the air, following a towering roar, commanding, “Get over here–leave that girl alone!”

Crowds of mother’s litter the doorway with an occasional father here and there. And of course, there are a lot of small children trying to squeeze through small openings in the crowd.

A long metal table blocks the wide entrance, except for a small passage way leading to the activity floor.  Behind the table, volunteers sit on tan metal folding chairs frantically handing out fliers, signing up enrollees, or answering questions.  It is difficult for early enrollees to push past the eager new participants.  A harsh voice rings out, “Just a minute, Jimmy.”

“Come back here,” says another.

Anxious children who manage to escape their parent’s side pepper the passage way in black outfits that look like over-sized pajamas tied in the middle with a white belt.  The belt wraps around their small frames twice before being tied in the front.  On their backs, contrasting the black color of the pajama, are bold white letters forming in a semi-circle, spelling out “Young Olympians,” an artistic illustration of a block kick in action, and stars, U.S.A., and more stars.

An air-borne white sock flies high above the heads of the crowd, as if propelled by a rocket–tailing behind a voice commands:  “Go get that sock!”

The activity floor with its waxed and shining hardwood takes on the appearance of a gym. An instructor, giving directions to children from an earlier session, is about to break up.  He says, “Remember now,” taking in a deep breath as he raises his finger to his puckered lips, “Sh-h-h!”  Then he continues, “What you learn here tonight you only use as self-defense to protect yourself from anyone who tries to grab you or hurt you–NOT your friends,” he adds.  Taking another deep breath he says, “Your participation in learning and mastering the techniques I show you can earn you this bright yellow belt.”  Then he asks, “Do you want one?”

A loud sharp, “Ya,” rings out as all the children reply to his question in unison.

Although the educational activity program is sponsored by the Y.M.C.A., a men’s organization, encouragement is given for both boy and girl participants.

Chandra, my granddaughter, eagerly awaits her class to begin.  Her big brown eyes glisten and beam with excitement.  It is difficult for her to remain still.  Her muscles tense and her fists clinch in anticipation.  When her mother says, “Chandra, you need to get your shoes and socks off.”  Chandra immediately drops to the floor as if she is a puppet and the words pull her string; her mother does not need to repeat the words.  She moves quickly, untying her shoes, pulling them off, and then removing her socks; when she finishes with one foot, she instantly repeats the process with the other.

On the activity floor, the instructor tells the early group, “Good-night,” as he bows to them with both hands at his side.  All the students reciprocate and then leave the floor, scampering with excitement back to their parents.

Chandra’s eyes grow in size, taking on a pleading look as if to ask, “May I go?”  Her lips form a smile and she turns her head upward toward her mother, anxiously waiting her mother’s approval.  “Okay, go on.”

The turnout for self-defense and safety awareness programs highlights a growing problem that faces America: helpless children falling prey to unknown assailants and turning into victims.  A concern for the safety of children prompts the offering of the classes.  An overwhelming response indicates parents worry.  Because of the size of the class, some parents participate by holding the block pads and block sticks (foam padded) for the children to practice on, thus freeing more instructors to assist kids who have difficulty mastering the techniques. The Children form lines in a row.  Chandra makes sure she is right up front so she doesn’t miss a move.   Chandra’s mom said the first night of class, “Chandra needs encouragement and reassurance. She doesn’t want to be the only one who dosen’t know anything.” But out there on the floor during her first lesson her shyness disappears.  She certainly did not act like a novice.

“Horse stance,” says the instructor.

Immediately, all the children assume the position:  they spread their legs apart, assume a semi-squat position, double their fists tightly until their little knuckles appear white and hard, and position their little arms in preparation to block and punch.  Their bodies are rigid.  “Punch,” yells the instructor.

The children throw one arm forward sharply with force–”Ya.” they reply in unison.

The instructor has them sit on the floor in a squatting position as he demonstrates the next move.  “When I say, ‘get up.’  I want you to get up as fast as you can–but don’t start until I tell you.”  All the little bodies tense and lean forward slightly. 

One over-anxious little bottom leaves the grown, protruding upward–it is Chandra.  “Down,” the instructor repeats.  “Don’t get up until I say.” 

He went on giving detail instructions on how to block a hit and then immediately follows through with a kick forward.  “Up,” he says.

Little bodies pop up like they are spring-loaded.

“Horse stance,” he yells.  They instantly assume the position.  “Block–Kick.”

“Ke–.” they yell as one arm goes up to block.  “Ya,” they continue as their leg goes up close to their body and instantly shoots forward.

Judging from the height of their kicks, I imagine an assailant dropping to his knees.  “These kids can turn out winners,” I think as my mind envisions an encounter and then their little legs carrying them speedily away from the danger.