"Any arbitrary turn along the way and I would be elsewhere; I would be different." ~ Frances Mayes

After losing 112 pounds in almost a year and a half, I have come to realize how very much I was missing. I may be Late to the Party, but I am doing my best to catch up in my own unique way!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Confession Friday - I'm a Swinger

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.  ~J. Lubbock

Confession Fridays return!  If you are a follower, you are very familiar with my Friday confessions. For those of you who are new to Late to the Party, Friday is a good day for "the baring of my soul and the telling of my darkest secrets" to all of you.  Please keep in mind that I haven't written in about six months, so I am just a wee bit rusty.  Here we go.....

I am a "swinger".  Swinging is near and dear to my heart.  It fulfills me and fills a void that my soul longs for.  Shocking, I know..... I LOVE to participate in swinging.  The thrill, the way it makes my body feel..... And yes, Ed knows I swing.  In fact, he arranged my swinging activity from the get-go.  There are few secrets in MY marriage.

Okay, even I am getting a little uncomfortable about the creepiness factor in the paragraph above.  In the words of Ernest P. Worrel, "Eeeeewwwww."  I feel like I need a shower or a good cigarette. 

Relax, it isn't what you think.  Thank God, you are saying to yourself at this point.  So let's cut to the chase....

HAMMOCKS.  I love hammocks. Not just any hammock, oh, no. But before we get to that, let me enlighten you on the lovely and interesting world of hammocks.  Interesting?  YES!  Read for yourself....

According to Wikepedia: "A hammock is a sling made of fabric, rope, or netting, suspended between two points, used for swinging, sleeping, or resting.  It normally consists of one or more cloth panels, or a woven network of twine or thin rope stretched with ropes between two firm anchor points such as trees or posts. Hammocks were developed by native inhabitants of Mexico for sleeping. Later, they were used aboard ships by sailors to enable comfort and maximize available space, and by explorers or soldiers traveling in wooded regions. Today they are popular around the world for relaxation; they are also used as a lightweight bed on camping trips. The hammock is often seen as symbol of summer, leisure, relaxation and simple, east living."

Native Americans used hammocks, as was discovered by the Spanish during the Spanish conquest. The origin of the word "hammock" is from the West Indies meaning "fish net", from nets made from fibers of the hamack tree. Hammocks were used to help protect the native peoples from snakes, insects, biting ants and some animals. 

Even Christopher Columbus liked a good hammock and transported some back to Europe from the Bahamas. Then in the late 16th Century (1500's if you get confused like I do), the Royal Navy started using hammocks on board ships.  Before the introduction of hammocks, sailors were at great risk of injury and death from being thrown out of their rigid berths during storms or heavy seas.  With hammocks, they swung and moved with the ships' motions and the sailors were enveloped inside of them.

Even into World War II, hammock were still used in our ships.  And during that conflict the US Marines adopted the jungle hammock which was used in the South Pacific, then later in Vietnam.  Did you know that NASA used hammocks for the astronauts in the Lunar Module during the Apollo program when man landed on the moon?  And you thought hammocks weren't educational and interesting, didn't you?

You might be asking yourself  how I got to be so obsessed with hammocks? Well, I'll tell you....

My love of hammocks comes from my dear, dear Uncle Jack - my father's brother-in-law who was married to my Aunt Etta.  He was a teddy bear of a man.  Big and gruff with marshmallows on the inside.  I spent weeks on end at their home during the summers growing up.  Now Uncle Jack liked to relax, unwind, and appreciated and valued the restorative value of a good nap on a summer's afternoon.  And the best place to do this is in a hammock in the cooling shade of big maple and oak trees with a gentle warm breeze blowing.  Add a glass of cold lemonade, though my beverage of choice would be a blueberry martini or a pina colada.  But there is a caveat to this scenario.  You MUST calculate in what I call "the swing factor".

You see, different types of hammocks provide different swing factors. For example, if you are fortunate enough to have 2 large substantial trees growing close together, so close that you can attach hammock hardware to each tree and suspend you hammock between them, you have the ultimate in swing.  But most of us swingers are not that lucky and this is where your choice of hammock frame becomes crucial.  There are hammock frames where the hammock attaches to four places, two at each end, resulting in the most stability but minimal swing factor, which is fine for small children and initiates into the world of suspended relaxation. But this to me isn't what the fine art of hammocking is about.  Nix the four-point hammock stand.  Then there is one level up, the three-point hammock.  This hammock suspends from two points at one end and a singular one at the opposing end. Still somewhat stable and a little better swinging, this is for the somewhat experienced intermediate hammocker.  Which brings me to the hammock stand and hammock of choice for me - the two pointer.  Just as in being attached to two trees, the hammock stand accomodates the hammock at one point on each end.  Aahhh...nirvana achieved.  The art of hammocking at its' best. 

There are hazards involved in hammocking, particularly in the two-point hammock.  With a larger swing factor comes the method in which one proceeds to get into the hammock.  And if you have bad knees as I do, all precautions should be taken or you will find yourself hitting the hard ground instead of lying comfortably in the cocooning folds of the hammock.  Approach the CENTER of the hammock walking BACKWARDS into it until you feel the material of the hammock touch the back of your thighs or knees.  Continue to SLOWLY walk backwards, pushing the hammock into an almost vertical upright position.  Make sure your buttocks make contact, grab the edge of the fabric, bend the knees into a sitting/squatting position and lower yourself into the hammock, making sure that your hind end is still in contact at ALL TIMES.  Take a deep breath, gather your courage, sit and straighten your legs in one awkward movement and PRAY that you don't slip out or flip backwards.  Lift your feet and turn on your hiney to EASE yourself into a prone horizontal position in the center of the hammock, again using precise and measured movements.  Congratulations!  You have now entered into the Hammock Zone of relaxation.  Please note:  Before committing to lying in the hammock make sure 1) you go to the bathroom, 2) have all reading material and pillows with you and 3) all beverages are in easy reach.  Failure to do so will cause you to struggle to get out of the hammock which is almost as bad and dangerous as getting into it and having to repeat the entry process.  Unless, of course, you have children or grandchildren or a willing, doting spouse who can be your legs and go fetch whatever you may need.  In the case of needing a bathroom, however, you are on your own.
Though not mine, this looks very much like the setting in my backyard.

Late last summer, Ed gifted me with a gi-normous hammock of my very own - a two-pointer, none-the-less. And so now June, luscious June, is upon us and hammock time is here once again.

For me, my favorite time of day to be in my hammock is almost dusk.  Located up under the canopy of the lush green leaves of midsummer of the grand old trees in my backyard, surrounded by trailing ivy, I lie in a woodland setting of fireflies with the sounds of the birds' evensong and the strange rise and fall of the melodic cicadas in their symphony with the accompanying crickets.  I am transported into a world away from my modern life and daydream of fairies, elves, and Celtic lore.  I visualize lists of the creative things I want to make, the books I want to read, the far away and distant places I would love to visit.  The last of the sun sets, the greens and browns of the woods and the golden orange of the sky fades, and the colors disappear into the gray of night.  If I had a mosquito net, I would stay well into the night sleeping in my suspended bed.

Now if I can just get Ed to add twinkle lights!

All I can say is that there is nothing, and I do mean nothing, that is as relaxing and soothing as being a swinger in a hammock.  Hammock swinging is not the same as swinging in a porch swing or being in a lawn glider.  No, it is more subtle, more sublime, more delicious. 

It teaches one the art of the guilty pleasure of daydreaming, of passing time specifically designed to squander, of doing absolutely nothing except enjoying a summer day or evening, relishing the ever gentle motion of the hammock.  Thank you Uncle Jack! What an absolutely wonderful life's lesson to learn!  I wish it for all of you.

Sometimes it's important to work for that pot of gold.  But other times it's essential to take time off and to make sure that your most important decision in the day simply consists of choosing which color to slide down on the rainbow.  ~Douglas Pagels, These Are the Gifts I'd Like to Give to You

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Muse Awakens

It has been a while since I posted....anything....6 months to be precise.  The Muse has lain dormant. Much has happened in 6 months. When I am consumed by another calling, another Muse, all else is pushed aside. 

Since I last composed anything for Late to the Party, I have celebrated Christmas and New Year's.  I have survived another legislative session at the Georgia House of Representatives.  I have planned and produced my 40th wedding vow renewal and celebration, a grand success in May.  I have gained weight, lost weight and gained it again. I have sworn to pick up the exercise gauntlet again, only to fail miserably.  So publicly, I promise to start walking once more...now it's offficial and you all can hold me accountable and to my word,

I have worked like a dog on my Etsy shop, The Celtic Heart, and watched two daughters get new jobs and another daughter lose one, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.... losing a job, that is.  She has been given the opportunity to spread her wings even more, shall we say, and that is always a wonderful thing. 

I have become obsessed with Celtic lore and history, an off shoot of planning my vow renewal party which was at an Irish pub and the ceremony incorporated Celtic symbols and traditions.  My Irish roots are calling me.

I have seen a dear nephew just on the beginning cusp of an addiction recovery to a full-blown sober life.  You can read the latest in his journey here on  http://erindrello.blogspot.com/2012/06/vacation.html.  And if you have followed me at all, you know I love stories of epiphanies.  Congrats, Erin, wonderfully done.

Ed continues to take care of me when I need it and sometimes when I don'g and love me through it all.  He turns 62 next week and combined with 40 years of marriage to this man, I ponder to where all the years have flown off  and how can we actually be discussing which year in the near future to start drawing Social Security. WTH?

The Fab 5 grands have had birthdays and milestones to count; they are, after all, growing up despite my protests.

We have taken another yearly trip to Hilton Head Island, albeit a very short one this time.  I can tell the South Carolina kids are growing up.  Only the youngest one, Cale, took us up on any bribes to learn new things in the pool.  We got away with only having to shell out $7 to him only.  His big sister Erin was too busy with the other teens at the pool and Walker said he had learned enough swimming.  Sad but true, they are learning independence. 

Erin, our oldest Fab, is on her way to SCarolina's Governor's School for the Arts for an intensive 5 week summer ballet training.  Can't wait to see what she has learned at the performance at the end of the summer

The remaining two of the Fab 5 have had their ups and downs.  Carson's biggest challenge is reading...no, that's not right... learning to LIKE reading.  And fight his fear of timed tests.  Olivia, who used to never read, has discovered books, particularly The Hunger Games series and animal books.  Her goal is to read all of James Herriot's series All Thing Bright and Beautiful. Olivia has just returned from a Young Woman's church camp.  As I write, they are at First Tee day camp learning the nuances of golf. 

The future holds bright and promising things.  A big trip in the fall.  More Etsy business opportunities.  An upcoming week at the SCarolina daughter's house with no men, filled with creativity and fun. working on Etsy items....maybe.

The need to write has returned.  Funny how the Muse works.