I Want My Hoover Back

I can’t seem to get anything fully accomplished today anyway, so I decided I would take a minute to waste some time to tell you about it…

When I went off to college my mother and I went to the store and picked out a vacuum cleaner for me to use in my first apartment. It was quite the moment; sort of a “rite of passage”. I felt like an adult, with new responsibilities; owning a vacuum. I left the store with a $75 Hoover upright requiring F-type bags. About five years later when that vacuum gave out I considered the following: $75×1.06% sales tax=$79.5 total investment. Then, if 365 x 5= 1825 days of ownership, my final calculations determined that my Hoover had been well worth the average 4 cents per day it cost me. I then carried my Hoover to the street, swung it around my head one time for good measure and chucked it into the trash pile and wrote “new Hoover” on my grocery list. Done.

About 2 Hoovers and 10 years later I decided I was going to get serious about my cleaning. I was ready for a mature vacuum like any proud part-time physical therapist / homemaker would be proud of. I watched Lowes advertisements like a hawk and practically stole a $400 Electrolux from them about 5 months ago. Driving home, with my new drag behind canister Electrolux, I dreamed of the Vacuum Therapy we would experience together and I promised her I would never toss her to the side of the road like I had done to my others. It was going to be a long-term relationship.

Until a couple of months ago, my only complaint with my new Electrolux was that it was so quiet I couldn’t pretend that I couldn’t hear others in my family trying to talk to me while I was sucking up floor debris. However, after 3 months of inefficiently loud vacuuming, I noticed it wasn’t sucking up dinner remains on the floor even as good as the $20 electric broom my mom used to make one of us 3 kids run in the kitchen from time to time. (And no that didn’t kill us but I do always blame Mimi and say, “when I was a kid”, when my offspring complain about running the vacuum.)

For the past 2 months, “calling Electrolux Customer Service” never quite made the top of my list until this weekend when I discovered there was no suction at all. There were times previously that I was wondering if the debris was being sucked up or just being thrown around by the roller brush when I would be hit by a small bead or gravel right smack dab in my shin. However, like with other uncomfortable housewife duties, I just moved on.

I put my Electrolux to the test this weekend; one my old Hoover could have tackled with ease. I will let you figure out the details of the scenario but Harrison spent about 4 hours in our upstairs rec room vacuuming up kinetic sand that he and a friend had thrown from end-to-end, side to side, and top to bottom of the room. It was extremely ugly. Not just the site, but my reaction to the blatantly defiant, destructive action, lacking any blame of childhood innocence that I try to consider when raising my son. I’m quite confident that Harrison’s list of words that is he never to repeat was lengthened that day.

So today, in addition to calling Samsung to get my washer door to stay closed so I can keep my family looking presentable and smelling fresh, I called Electrolux. I spoke with an Elaine, who continued to assure me that “we were going to take care of this”! She sounded like she worked at Mel’s Diner minus the gum chewing. Also, her name was “EEE”laine. Little did I know that “EEE”laine was going to walk me through a step-by-step maintenance process for my Electrolux. I quickly discovered that I had only been cleaning two of the five filters that required regular routine washing, then drying 24 hours, then replacing. On the back of one of them I found enough fuzz to compose a small animal that could have been enjoying some of the toys I had sucked up in the past 3 months as well. It was at this moment that I realized I had made a commitment I was not ready for. I was not ready to be a serious cleaner removing 99.9% of allergens in my home. She told me to simply remove this and that, check the brush roller for hair, and on and on with the 24 point inspection. I decided that the extensiveness of the exam was getting out of hand when she wanted me to take the hose out into my yard and swing it around my head to loosen any clogs. Enough was enough, I said. I was not going to use an old toothbrush on my vacuum and we no longer have wire coat hangers in our house to the best of my ability; moving to plastic hangers SOLELY was also a rite of passage I remember making me feel like an adult. How many years had I been walking around with puckers in my shirts, sticking up in my shoulder region…ridiculous.

Well tomorrow, I’m supposed to call “EEE”laine when my filters are dry for us to continue our customer service experience.  I looked at all the parts and pieces of my vacuum in the floor and immediately realized I hadn’t taken pictures with my phone to help me put it back together. In stressful situations I am well aware that my visual memory is less than 24 hours. I made a quick reminder note to myself to give Harrison a lecture after school that would sound something like, “so help me, if you put your grubby little hooks on even one part of my vacuum cleaner, laying here in a million pieces that look fabulous to play with, I will…”

Regret at this moment, is what I was feeling. I was stuck, in a commitment that was going to require maintenance, care, and upkeep. “EEE”laine did say she was making note of how friendly and nice I was about the situation and that it would help me if we needed to discuss “replacement”. Reality hit me again; I was stuck, no chance of refund to spend on an upright Hoover I should have bought in the first place.  I have learned over the years however, that sometimes when the “pooh” is hitting the fan it is more effective to dodge than to face your adversities. I do however wish that right now I had a 5-year-old Hoover; that I could swing over my head and chuck into the trash pile by the road. It would be so freeing; knowing that tomorrow someone would come by and simply carry away my problem. Instead, I am trying to pump myself up like “EEE”laine and be confident that “we are going to take care of this”!

Wish me luck with SAMSUNG!


I was 8 hours behind my group and still feeling sub par and questioning if I should have packed a second pair of pants. I was determined to make it by dinner and not miss out on anymore time I had been looking forward to with her. I drove alone, passenger-less, having sent her ahead that morning to the West Virginia Dance Festival. sent her Sometime in the middle of the night I had woken up with what I thought was the beginning of the salmonella outbreak that my family is eminently doomed for as discussed in 12 Things I Should Probably Quit Doing Just days ago I had made two pans of brownies, loaded with chocolate chip cookie dough chunks and I licked the bowl and had eaten more than my usual amount of raw egg laden dough nervously preparing them for an upcoming presentation I was giving. I thought to myself, “if my presentation leaves them wanting more, at least they will be satisfied by my crankin’ brownies”. I was fortunately the only victim but I’m still quite sure I will lick my next brownie bowl.

I drove alone, disappointed and wondering if Sophia had recognized or missed my absence. She is 11 you know and her friends are becoming very important. I did wear an outfit she likes of mine. I hope she seems excited to see me. I remember when she always chose me first. She loved to sit in my lap, as a tiny little girl, straddling my waist and kissing my left then right cheek over and over again like we were French people greeting one another. I remember her laugh and smile between each kiss.

I turned on the radio and hit scan hoping to find something to inspire or entertain me. I started thinking about the presentation I have just given the day before discussing “The Vestibular System: Diagnosing and Treating Common Disorders”. Pretending my coworkers had a choice to attend made me feel a little less nervous but I couldn’t stop thinking about “the pause”. Was it obviously long? Did they see me holding in a snicker? I was describing a torsional eye movement that is often seen with a common disorder and said something about the eyes torqueing in their orbits. Is that right? I said to myself. Torqueing? Why did that sound wrong? Torqueing? Torqueing? Twerking? Torqueing? Twerking? Thanks Miley Cyrus, there went faking the professionalism I was trying to exude. I got back on track in what I have decided was a reasonable amount of time and what I’m pretending looked more like deep thought preceding a profound statement verses an awkward pause. I do however strongly recommend, if you ever see eyes twerking in their orbits during an ocular motor exam: STOP IMMEDIATELY and refer to a neurologist with a stat recommendation for an EEG and a brain MRI including the brain stem. I’m quite confident that eye twerking does not fall within my scope of practice as a physical therapist.

I hope we get a chance to do some Spring clothes shopping in “the big city” while we are gone. I’m exhausted with Wal-Mart and Kmart’s wardrobe selections. She has grown so much this winter. Will she like anything I pick out this year? I bet she won’t want to go to Claire’s and accessorize, looking for bows and barrettes to complete her look, like I loved doing with her when she was five. 2013-08-01 07.53.55 Moments later I realized my Sirius radio was still scanning. Those of you who can’t imagine not noticing this, obviously do not have a third child who absolutely never stops talking. I can tune about anything out quite easily and applying my essential oils to my inner wrists and temples helps. While I don’t know what my 2 older children will become when they grow up, Haley is surely destined for a bright career as a QVC host.

Other than the occasional, unexpected wave of nausea and predictable, prepubescent look from my daughter that clearly stated, “I can’t believe you just said/did that”, we had a beautiful weekend together. Being my oldest of three, I miss being with her even though I see her everyday. Thankfully, I found some rekindling that at least I had been looking for. the look On our drive home Sunday evening, my sweet, tired passenger slept. It was raining so I slowed down…but mostly to enjoy and soak the moment in. Curled up in the front seat she lay like she used to in her infant seat in the back; peacefully resting under my watch. Just me and her…alone. The hillsides were covered by new spring redbuds and speckles of white, wild dogwoods opening. Above them all in the tips of the tallest trees glowed a lime green light of tender leaves waiting for a long, full day of sunshine to fully come out and turn dark green. Time was changing her as well. My sweet, peaceful reminiscing was repetitively interrupted by hints of panic that kept trying to intrude.

I’d see a bridge or interstate overpass ahead through my windshield wiper blades and look forward to that sudden, momentary absence of noise that is so loud and pronounced; as the last raindrop hits my car on one side and the first to hit on the other. How long was I dry?, I’d think to myself. What would I need to know to find out? The width of the bridge, the length of my car, and my speed. Yes that would do it. But what if the rain was coming down crooked? The questions. Would the height of the bridge matter? The unknowns. Would the density of drops per square inch change the experience for me? Anxiety kept trying to steal my moment. I forced myself to stop thinking about my college physics class so I could fully enjoy the next bridge.

While there are constants in life, like the width of the bridge, that I cannot change, there are many variables that surround the same situation; some I can control and others I can’t. I can look at my sleeping beauty sometimes and almost panic thinking about time passed and I can imagine my future with her slipping past me just as quick. While I can’t slow time or lengthen life or tell the rain when and how to fall, I can change how I move through it, so I won’t miss that lime green glow of spring that lasts only a few sunsets. A gift of Spring I always enjoy… that can be easily missed if I’m distracted by the noise of my life stuck on scan, jumping from one event to the next, forgetting to soak any of it in.

While there are so many thing I hope to teach my daughter, I hope she learns that even very short, even silly periods of time can be moments filled with experience if her mind and senses aren’t tune out by busy noise. I hope she will be filled with great memories of time spent with me but that she will have many little ones; like driving under interstate bridges in rain storms or watching trees glow in the Spring, that will top her list as favorites with me. This will let me know that she learned how to live awake, instead of simply passing through distracted, missing beautiful, simple, normal, little moments that make life full and satisfying.

“To the illuminated mind the whole world burns and sparkles with light” -Emerson 2015-05-04 17.44.23

The Rub Down

Every year in April, Rick and I leave the kids at home with his parents and go away for almost a week for a business trip. This year it was in San Diego. While it is business for him it is full trip for me…the whole time. I sleep in, I slowly drink my coffee in the morning, while watching a show that I chose, and primp while getting ready like I used to before kids. Our anniversary is April 14th, my birthday is May 1st, and Mother’s Day comes about a week later; so basically I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy my season of receiving or that I don’t look forward to it every year.

My kids and hubby usually get me trees and spring flowers to plant in my yard as gifts. To some of you this may sound like a terrible present but to me it’s perfect. It often comes wrapped with time alone with my hands in the warm dirt, a clear mind, and only the sound of the birds chirping as I find happy homes for my new “babies”. On other occasions it means time with my wee ones offering their “help” and with me hoping they too will fall in love with process. My trees and plants are gifts that keep on giving. Every Spring I look forward to my pink dogwood blooming and the thoughts of my girls, past and future, that come as the buds open. In the same way, my Weeping Alaskan Spruce stays strong and alive, even in the deepest winter snow, reminding me of my boys.

My parents and in-laws on the other hand, always get me something that fits perfectly and is always useful…CASH. I believe Rick has caught on, but I spend my birthday money a few times while I’m away. Every year, once a year, on this trip, I go to the spa and enjoy a rub down. The one I had this year at the Marilyn Monroe Spa at the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel probably topped them all. The best way for me to explain to you how wonderful it was, I think, would be if I compared and contrasted it to another one I have experienced.

I had just finished a relaxing eucalyptus steam and was waiting in the Serenity Lounge in a beautifully soft, white robe, (and provided slippers) and enjoying a cup of warm herbal tea. My masseuse came out to greet me. He was a clean-cut man probably in his mid-fifties with an appropriate amount of gel in his neat hair. He was gently plump which immediately made me feel comfortable, knowing he was used to softness. I felt instantly relaxed and followed him.

Since I’m a storyteller and I like to paint pictures with words, I thought this one would be best in color. When I was a little girl in Sunday school, one of my favorite songs to sing went like this: “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world, red, brown, yellow, black, and white they are precious in His sight, Jesus loves the little children of the World”. While I loved looking around at all my little friends smiling and singing along, I did worry that my olive skin toned friend could be feeling left out.  Now as an adult, I’m concerned that someone with a severe case of jaundice could be misled by this innocent song, convincing them that they are fine and causing them put off that much needed bilirubin check. More importantly, it always made me remember that we are all beautifully different and the same mold has never been or never will be used twice. It seems that I love each one of my plants and flowers for that very reason. The yellow ones make the purple ones even prettier just because they aren’t purple and the occasional “odd-ball” grabs my attention and extra admiration just because it is unlike the 10 other perfect ones surrounding it.

(Sophia found this crazy buttercup right smack dab in the middle of a patch of normal, 5-petaled buttercups. It of course was our FAV!)

In much need of some deep relaxation, I anticipated the results of my upcoming massage. I sat in my street clothes, in a room more like a doctor’s office than a spa, as I waited to be received. Moments later, I was greeted by a young, fit, fine specimen of a man, who with all 2% of his body fat, nearly filled the doorway. He called my name. As soon as I stood up I could tell that I was nervous for there were significant body composition differences between ours; with mine being far more palpably soft. While I hoped my young masseuse had many fond memories of time spent with his mother as a child, I hoped that a memory of learning to fold and knead white bread dough wouldn’t be stirred while rubbing my posterior thigh area. I found myself quoting my Spring clothes shopping mantra as I followed him to my room: “I am fearfully and wonderfully made”.

Anyway, when God made me he dipped his paint brush in a color somewhere on the spectrum between “Milky White” an “Ultra Caucasian”.  When God was selecting a color for my masseuse he chose a color somewhere between “Moonless Night” and “Rich Expresso” and used it liberally. In addition, being born and raised in West Virginian, I have to work hard to say “hey man” without giving “man” two syllables or showing all my molars when pronouncing my valves with a wide smile. In comparison, my masseuse greeted me with a quick, happy-go-lucky, “eh mon” and led me to the massage room.

I peacefully entered the Marilyn Monroe treatment room and positioned myself prone as instructed under crisp, white sheets that were warmed by the gentle heat of the massage table. My masseuse would carefully expose one extremity at a time, gently folding back the soft sheets. The room was filled with scents of lavender and rose hip and my muscles melted with his deep pressured strokes. In the background I listened to a CD that had to have been titled “Tranquil Morning”, with birds chirping and creeks streaming. There was the occasional moment that I thought the beginning of the Titanic theme song was starting up but it never climaxed. As my massage came to an end, I was concerned that I would be unable to find enough motivation, amongst the relaxation, to physically get off of the table or support my body weight with my limp legs in order to walk out.

I was a “hint” nervous waiting on my Jamaican masterpiece and I was glad my massage table wasn’t heated; I was already equator warm. After hanging my clothes on the backside of the door I slid under the faded black sheets face down and waited. I tried to relax but the CD playing in the background, which could have easily been titled “Monday Night Slow Jams”, wasn’t helping. I answered the knock at the door with an audible “I’m ready” but with an internal “I hope so” that followed. He entered. He rolled the sheet down my back low enough to make me question if the top part of my crack was exposed and began rubbing. The scent of Johnson and Johnson baby oil surprisingly helped me relax. He finished my back and neck and arms and…. it was nice. He then rolled the sheet back exposing my right leg and started working. As he moved up my thigh into my gluteal area I reminded myself that I’ve been in other even more uncomfortable situations in my life time but at the moment could not think of one. He moved on to my left leg but kept my right exposed. I’m sure that in an aerial view of me at this moment, none of us could deny that I wasn’t wearing what I would like to call a black sheet thong.

He stood at my feet with his hands every bit as big as my US 6.5 wides and he rubbed up and down my calves at the same time, inching higher and higher with each stroke until he was undoubtedly focusing on my “thass” area. Up and down he went from toes to calves to thass to waist when swooped his hands out to the sides scooping up a handful of flesh from my bumm before sliding back down.  I felt like I was being milked and I knew he wouldn’t stop until I rendered milk from my toes or relaxed. At one point, I began thinking that producing milk may be easier than calming the clinch that was instinctively activated when his big hands slid up the back of my legs and fanned out over my buttocks. I’m sure that if I could have seen him in this moment, I might have mistaken him for Bob Marley singing One Love while delivering his milking strokes. I tried to reconnect with my inner hippie; pretending that what I was experiencing was a beautiful moment of giving and receiving between two souls in this world, but found myself challenged to fully embrace the idea. I did however conclude that I was thankful that I had not bought my mother a gift certificate for Mother’s Day at this facility because she has no inner hippie to even try to connect with. Several strokes later and about the time I was wondering if I had accidentally bought an 80 minute massage instead of 50, he covered me up and said, “Thank you. You are done”.

“I did it!”, I said to myself excitedly. “It was over”…exhale.

So that is how much I enjoyed my massage at the Marilyn Monroe Spa in San Diego California.