The Basics of Swim Spas

I had no idea what I was getting into when we bought a swim spa. I thought you just ordered it, put it in the backyard, fill it up, and started swimming. I didn’t know I needed degrees in chemistry, engineering, and physical education to operate the thing. But I have learned to never buy something this large from a “spa show”. Expensive lesson learned.

First, I have never bought something so large and immobile that it required a large crane to place it in the desired spot. Cars are mobile by definition, and I’ve never really wanted a car in my backyard. I’ve bought houses, but they come in situ. No movement required. So I didn’t think about the scary prospect of lifting a big-ass spa OVER our house and trying to get it placed on the exact desired spot. My nerves were shot by the time this feat of engineering was complete. I had visions of a splintered spa in the middle of my living room with pieces of roof scattered around.

Speaking of engineering, who knew that getting the cover off a spa was a feat requiring either a hydraulic jack or a block and tackle? These things are BIG and HEAVY. You really don’t need to swim after removing the cover. The removal process is enough of a workout.

Now the chemistry part. Water is not just water. It must be the right blend of pH, alkalinity, chlorine, and calcium/hardness. And once you think you have it right, it changes. I read somewhere that one way to see if you are using too much chemicals is to get in the pool and see if your skin bothers you. Uh, no. So they have these test strips you use to see which magic potion to dump into the spa. Chlorine low? Add granules and wait 30 minutes. pH too high? Use potion “pH Down”, wait 30 minutes. I really understand why people hire pool services.

Okay, so the pool is in place, filled up, and a delicious blend of water and chemicals. Now  what? Let’s swim! Turn on the propulsion fan, get slammed into the back of the pool. Okay, too high. Turn the fan down, try again. Now I keeping swimming into the front wall. Too low. Finding the right speed is like Goldilocks and the three bears. This is too fast, this is too slow – now it’s just right!

But the benefits so far have outweighed the drawbacks. No more schlepping to the local pool for lap swimming during their limited hours. I can not only swim, but jog in place in the water which my arthritic knees appreciate. And it came with all kinds of resistance equipment to work on any part of the body. Win, win, win.

But the one thing I can’t do is dive into the damn thing. The instructions are plastered with NO DIVING warnings. Apparently, you can seriously injure yourself diving into something with only 3 1/2 feet of water. Really? I wonder what kind of genius has tried that? Maybe a candidate for the Darwin award?

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The First Annual (hopefully) Year in Review from Purrkitten & Spouse

I used to think these annual holiday letters were a bit narcissistic and pretentious. However, as I get older, I find I genuinely look forward to reading them to catch up with friends. So I am embarking on what will hopefully be an annual tradition of narcissism and pretension. Forgive me?

Our household has had a busy year. Who said that you slow down in retirement? In January, we started the year with a combination business/pleasure trip to the Big Island of Hawai’i. I attended a conference on echocardiography while the spousal unit golfed and hung out. We had the pleasure of being on the Kohala Coast which is advertised to get less than 10 inches of rain per year. In 2014, most of that rain occurred during our visit. Between the storms, we took a helicopter tour of the cliffs of the northern part of the island where we got to see the result of all that rain – beautiful waterfalls. To stay out of the rain, we turned into foodies, going to every restaurant in the area and sampling every specialty we could find. Oh, and let’s not forget the Super Swell that closed the beaches during the first part of the trip. But the sound of the surf was amazing from our hotel balcony. I won’t give too many details about our whale watching trip, except to say that the spousal unit can say “Keep taking pictures!” while looking at the bottom of a plastic bag.

Since retiring in late 2013, the spousal unit has pursued her passion for golf with a vengeance. She played in several tournaments this year, winning some of them and gaining friends along the way. High on her bucket list was winning the Industry Hills Club Championship in July. Her name is now permanently inscribed on the club trophy in the Industry Hills Club pro shop. She also won the EWGA-OC open invitational in July and the Public Links Women’s Championship in September. She continues to take lessons and still plays in golf events with ex-coworkers. Meanwhile, I complain bitterly about being a golf widow, which goes in one ear and out the other. Oh, did I mention all the ugly trophies sitting around the house? But really, I’m proud of her accomplishments.

I continue to work part-time at St. Jude Medical Center in the Non-Invasive Cardiology department. I call myself semi-retired. I do a little bit of everything, from administrative to echocardiography. I passed the Registered Vascular Technologist exam in September, adding yet another set of initials behind my name. I thought working part-time in a hospital would be less stressful than working full-time in the IT industry, but I was wrong. Somehow, making sure that a website works properly is so much less important than making sure that a patient doesn’t die under my watch. But I continue to enjoy learning something new every day I walk through the door.

Did I mention that we went to Vegas in August? Yes, August. Crazy hot, right? Believe it or not, it rained. Do you sense a theme? We saw Cirque Zumanity and Blue Man Group. Zumanity was both fascinating and bizarre. I had wanted to see Blue Man Group for years, and they were awesome. Another bucket item ticked off.

The feline family members continue to enjoy the pampered, spoiled life in the OC. Our most recent home improvement project was to tear out the back yard and start from scratch. This included a small screened-in porch which provides an optimal laboratory for feline ornithology. We enjoy it for reading, napping, and spying on our neighbors-some of our favorite retirement activities. However, I am still not allowed to read the OC Register opinion page. No one wants to hear me ranting and raving for the rest of the day. We do read a lot of books (I am a librarian’s daughter after all), and we started a book club with a bunch of friends who are also avid readers. We meet once a month to discuss a book. Oh, and we gossip, drink, and eat a lot. Retirement definitely does not suck.

In addition to golfing, the spousal unit started a program called “The Perfect Workout”. I have my doubts since she comes home feeling like a wrung-out dish rag. But she feels like it is helping to keep her in shape. I continue to swim at the local public pool, feeling lucky to be able to swim outside year around, rain or shine. We both need all the exercise we can get because we still spend too much time watching TV. I will probably die with a remote control to our DVR in my hand.

We occasionally get our Segways out of the garage and go for a glide. They are a great way to see a lot of territory without spending a lot of energy. We took them to Long Beach one day and went up and down the beach path, ending with lunch at the Belmont Brewery. But I found out that a Segway can also be a weapon of mass destruction when I fell off of mine over Labor Day weekend and ended up with a severely sprained knee. Keep repeating softly our 2014 mantra “It’s all good. It’s all good.”

In September, we went back to Ohio and Kentucky to visit with family and attend my niece’s wedding. We stayed with my younger brother, who found out what it is like to have two menopausal women invade his space armed with luggage and Trader Joe’s grocery bags. I’m pretty sure he was counting the minutes until our departure. During our visit we hosted a party in a suite at Paul Brown Stadium for the Bengals-Titans game. A great time was had by all. Except the Titans fans on the spouse’s side of the family – the Bengals spanked the Titans. But the food was good, right? In November, I returned to Ohio solo and stayed with my older brother. It snowed while I was there, and I was a picture-perfect OC princess trying to figure who to call to get the snow off my rental car. I also got to visit with several of my University of Cincinnati dormitory buddies for an evening of debauchery. Enough said. The trip wound up with a tour of childhood memories as my brother, sister-in-law, and I spread my Dad’s ashes around the Dayton-Beavercreek area. Sounds morbid, but we laughed a lot remembering little details of our early lives.

We hope that your 2014 has been healthy, happy, and productive. We are looking forward to 2015 and the adventures that it will bring. If we haven’t seen or talked to you in a while, please give us a call! And just to be clear, I (Julie) wrote this letter. But Melissa has approved this message.

Have a great holiday season!

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BrainFogLandia

I am establishing a new community by the name of BrainFogLandia, BFL for short.  It is a world were I wander around, trying to remember what I was doing to get myself where I currently am.  Sound confusing?  Here’s an example:  today I was supposed to be driving to Lowe’s, but I drove to the massage spa instead, even though I had no massage appointment.  So I turned around, got to Lowe’s, and remembered everything to buy on my unwritten list.  I’m not sure why I was able to remember the list, but not the destination necessary to purchase from this list.

Ah, some of the delights of living with Hashimoto’s disease.  If I appoint myself Mayor of BFL, will I remember to run the place?

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Go away go-daddy

Apparently go-daddy no longer wants to support blogging software.  So all of us who had Quick Blogcast had to move over to WordPress.  I’m hoping this looks okay, because I did this in a hurry before I went on vacation.  I just love technology – but I don’t love technology companies.  Thank goodness for user forums because I learned more there about how to convert over to WordPress.  And here is a message for go-daddy:  just keep paying the big bucks for all of the slutty commercials.  You are getting less and less of my money each year, so you will have to get cheaper and cheaper sluts.

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At last – a blog entry

It’s been nearly two years since my last entry.  What in the hell have I been doing all that time?  I’ve been in school.  Yup, I ranted in a post two years ago about the incompetence of the school I was trying to attend, and they later called me and said they had an opening in the program.  I went, I studied, I graduated.  And I am actually working in a hospital part-time.

So what else has changed in these two years?  I’m fatter.  Nothing beats comfort food when you are stressed out about school and work.  My knees crunch even more and I am someday going to need knee replacement.  Oh yeah, and I have arthritis in my neck.  My thyroid is giving me fits.  But other than all of these petty annoyances, I’m just dandy.
I started swimming for fitness.  I swim in all weather at the local community pool.  If it rains, I swim.  If it is cold, I swim.  If it’s hot, I fight the crowds and swim.  It is really the only exercise for someone who hates to sweat.
I have taken a hiatus from being a political junky because I simply don’t have time anymore.  Now I find myself studying the heart and related diseases because I have to take a big fat test to get my official registration as a cardiovascular technologist.  I’m really looking forward to that.
And in the past two years, I’ve lost my Dad and two cats.  Well, I didn’t “lose” them, but they are gone.  Should I sound more sad?  I do sarcastic better than sad.
And we started another remodel project.  This time it is the master suite.  Apparently we have too much money and need to get rid of it.
Speaking of money, we got Segways this year.  Now that is a good time.  Until you fall off it and it runs you over.  But that has only happened once, so it’s all good.  And it happened to the spousal unit, not me.  I’m glad I was in front of her so I didn’t run over her too.
That’s a brief rundown of the last two years.  My life in a very small nutshell.
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You know you’re over 50 when…

More and more, I get daily, if not hourly reminders that I am over 50.  I don’t like it, but as my mother says, the alternative isn’t so hot.  So in the vein of Jeff Foxworthy, here goes.

You know you’re over 50 when:
  • going to the pharmacy is part of your regular errands.
  • loud music in cars stopped next to you at a traffic light annoy you, especially when they are drowning out NPR on your radio.
  • doctors all look like Doogie Howser, except the ones that look like Barbie.  And you actually know who Doogie Howser is.
  • hair is growing in places it doesn’t belong, but you hardly care because you can’t see it when you look up close in the mirror.
  • speaking of mirrors, the kind that flips between normal and magnification?  Now they are always on the magnification side.
  • a wardrobe change means changing between an array of different eyeglasses for different purposes.
  • your knees make a weird crunching sound when you go up stairs.
  • cats like to sit on your lap because you don’t move much once you sit down.
  • the AARP has killed a tree or two trying to get you to join.
  • a drug test concerns you because you have to actually list all the prescribed drugs you are taking and you might forget something.
  • while waiting at the dentist’s office, you pick up Architectural Digest instead of People.
  • speaking of People magazine, you don’t even know the people on the cover.
  • a Saturday night of board games with friends makes you tired and ready for bed.
  • all the “fun” drugs make you sick to your stomach.
  • you can remember not only what a slide rule looks like, but how to use it.
  • you drive a car that cops don’t look twice at.
  • getting pulled over at a sobriety checkpoint is interesting, but you worry about the balance test because you recently had knee surgery.
When I think of more, I’ll add them on.  I need to stop now and take a nap.
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DVR and OCD

I have this thing about details.  I notice some things that other people don’t see.  Oh, not everything, but there are some details that elude other people and they just scream “Hey, over here!” to me.  I’m thinking this is some type of weird OCD, but I’m not a psychiatrist, so I’ll stop trying to diagnose or excuse my weirdness.

So I’m thinking that the digital video recorder was invented just for the sole purpose of satisfying my need to verify what I see and hear, and to prove it to others.  Which makes me a real pain in the ass to watch TV with, unless you are used to this.  It’s bad enough that I pick apart TV shows, but I always feel inclined to share.  As if that reflects well on me.
The other night, we were watching a show where the two characters were lying in bed and one of them was reading a book.  Depending on which “take” they used for the final version, the woman was either 1/3 or 2/3 complete with the book in her hand.  And it went back and forth from shot to shot.  Drove me crazy.  After I got done watching the scene, and counting the number of changes in “reading progression”, I had to rewind the entire scene because I hadn’t heard a word the characters had said.
I see this all the time on TV.  If only I could rewind real life so I could verify details of what I see and hear.  But I find that people object to re-playing their lives just to accommodate my idiosyncrasies.
Don’t worry, I won’t stop taking my medication.
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