Thursday, October 18, 2012


“Is she okay?”
DL gives Penelope that worried look, her eyes magnified big and round behind her steamy glasses.

The woman in question has been giving soft moans as she moves slowly in front of one of the jets of the hot tub. It could be pleasure. It could be pain. It could be nothing.

But a moan is a moan.

“You okay?” Penelope calls out to her, eyeing DL for support.
Another moan. This one sounds like a mix of pleasure and pain. “Oh, ooohhh….oh…..ahaaa….mmmmmmm……”

Penelope waits for a few seconds, then gets a response in words, “I’m okay. It’s just my back. My scapula. Since the accident I been in so much pain, but today I ordered me up a Juicer. And oh I just can’t wait. I’m gonna get me some spinach and some kale and some berries and juice juice juice.”

Penelope and DL both grin broadly. She’s okay. Just dreaming of her juicer evidently. Penelope hopes that she doesn’t combine all of the listed ingredients in one smoothie. Spinach? Kale? And berries?

“I’m like a kid with a new bicycle,” Juice Rapture Woman continues. “I can’t wait for that juicer to get here. I gained all this weight. Over 100 pounds. The doctors. They just wanta throw pills at you for the pain. But I had enough of that. I’m gonna get me this juicer and I’ll show them. I gotta get this weight off.” She smiles serenely, visions of spinach and berry juice floating over the hot tub.

“That’s so great!” Penelope grins while DL nods, enthusiastic. “And looks like you’ve been swimming too!”

“Oh yeah,” JRW nods, her round soft face beaming. “I just started that in August. Then they closed the pool and I said oh no not that! But now it’s open again and I’m starting up.”

“Swimming is the best!” Penelope preaches.

“It is. I was just lying around all day. Depressed. My therapist telling me this and that. And I tell her this and that and then I think, Why am I paying you to talk about this? I’m just gonna go out and do something. I’m gonna turn this thing around. After the accident, I worked for the Telsa Plant in Fremont and hurt my back in 2003 and 9 years it’s been 9 years and I gotta turn this thing around. That juicer. I tell you. I gonna get me some Anika Berries. They make you lose weight I heard and some spinach and kale and mix me up some juice and I wonder if it comes with a recipe book?”

“Most things like that do,” Penelope interjects.

JRW nods, “Yeah, you’re right. Most things do.”

“Or I’m sure you could find some recipes on the internet. Google has everything.”

Snorting, JRW nods, “That it does. That’s one good thing about life today. You can find almost anything on the internet. I need to get me some recipes offa the internet. That’s a good idea.”

She moans again, shifting back and forth in front of the jet. “That feel so good.”

“The healing power of the water,” Penelope offers.
“You said it. That it is.”
“And juice,” Penelope adds.
“I feel like a kid with a new bike.”
“It’s Christmas in October!” Penelope jokes and they all laugh. DL, JRW joining in Penelope’s silliness.

And all is okay. With JRW. With DL. And with Penelope.
As long as she doesn’t think too much about what spinach and kale and berries juicetopia would taste like.

That would not be okay. At all!

Sunday, October 07, 2012


“Where did you get that most excellent purple cap?” Penelope asks as she finishes tucking her hair into her ordinary Speedo cap.

“Tee hee!” The Lovely giggles, pleased. “Isn’t it great? I can’t remember exactly, but I think down at Transports on College.”
Penelope nods, remembering her former life on College Avenue. Frequenting Transports was part of this life. Yet she doesn't remember any such caps.

The Lovely I’s was vintage layered scallop. You know the type. Thick rubber with little layers of rubber leaves folding upon each other. And it was, as already mentioned, an enchanting purple hue (The Lovely I’s favorite color---Penelope knows this cause when she used to car pool to Mills with the Lovely I and picked her up at her cute house, it had lavender trim. Penelope had commented on this fanciful dress. The Lovely I had nodded, admitting proudly of how purple was her favorite color.)

So, now admiring this purple cap, Penelope is taken back to pictures of Esther Williams, swimming her graceful backstroke, big smile plastered on and a scalloped cap holding her locks inside.

“It’s a Classic Old Lady Swimmer Cap,” The Lovely I had grinned. “I for one can’t think of a better thing than becoming an Old Lady Swimmer. In fact I think I’m well on my way. This summer at Mills, when all the kids were there with their mothers, it’s always their mothers, isn’t’ it? I noticed that these mothers were REALLY YOUNG! I used to see them, it seems not so long ago, and think how they were my contemporaries, but not anymore. I am well past the child bearing years.”

“Thank God!” Penelope exclaims.

“Yes,” The Lovely I agrees, “you and I do definitely agree on That One.” She stares for a moment, pensive, into the mirror as Penelope tucks the last lock into her own cap and begins the earplugs insertion process. Soon she won’t be able to converse anymore, but she does want to finish the Old Lady Swimmer musings.

Sighing, The Lovely I smiles serenely into the mirror, before picking up her enormous gym bag and hefting it over her Lovely shoulder. The Old Lady Swimmer musings seem to be over.

Yet as Penelope finishes the earplug insertion, she considers the Old Lady Swimmer Pronouncement and its preference over other Old Lady Considerations. Or at least this is how it comes across to her.

She doesn’t want to think of herself as an Old Lady ever. It’s so depressing. There’s such a stigma in our culture against being old, esp. for women. Old Women are obsolete. They can’t bear children, they’ve lost their beauty, they serve no purpose.

But yet, she guesses that if she does become an Old Lady, if she makes it that far, then yes, being an Old Lady Swimmer is the way to go. And swimming, she’ll predict, will do much to combat this stigma against old age and what it means. What one can do.

For the beauty of swimming is, Penelope is certain, that she’ll be able to swim her whole life. Even if it means swimming more slowly, with fewer yards, and in less time.
She’ll always swim.

So, when Penelope pictures herself and the Lovely I 20, 30, 40? years from now she sees them still swimming laps in a blue blue pool. The Lovely I will, of course, still be lovely, and she’ll still be swimming albeit at an old lady pace? She will sport the Lavender cap and be quite pleased to be doing so.

She’ll smile and sigh happily after her swim and continue to make pronouncements on this that and the other thing (Penelope had told her about the Black Adonis as her nurse. The Lovely I had been suitably impressed, but then had told the story of how she’d once tried to talk with him at Mills and ‘Well, I hate to say it but he was kinda boring. You know, the Hot Guy. The Hot Guys don’t have to try.”)

Hot Guys don’t have to try?

Hell, Penelope is betting that Old Lady Swimmers don’t have to try either. They’ll just be naturally entertaining.

Esp. if you’re an Old Lady Swimmer with a Classic Old Lady Cap.

Purple, of course. And excellent, no doubt.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

New Neural Pathways

“It’s good to swim in different pools,” the Lovely I beams over at Penelope as she adjusts her goggles. “It carves out New Neural Pathways.”

Penelope grins, delighted. It’s so wonderful to have the Lovely I here at the Hilltopia pool with her. Just like old times. What with the Lovely I’s pronouncements echoing across the lanes as the Rusty Hinges start to fill up the walking lane.

“What are the Rusty Hinges?” The Lovely I had asked Penelope earlier.
“You’ll see,” Penelope had teased. Later she’d explained how she thought, at first glance of the pool schedule, that Rusty Hinges was the name of some aquatics instructor. It was only later that she’d learned that it was a special class for arthritis sufferers.

“That is so great,” The Lovely I had giggled when she’d told this story, sincerely appreciative of the different interpretations of a pool schedule.

Penelope still remembers taking the Lovely I to water therapy at the Albany pool after her fall from a horse. Broken pelvis. Penelope can’t imagine the pain. Gallbladder surgery is nothing compared to some kinds of pain.

And water therapy did the trick then for the Lovely I and was doing the trick for Penelope now after her surgery. Today was the first day that she’d felt no ‘pulling’ at her wounds. (She didn’t know how else to describe it. It wasn’t pain exactly but a strange tightness around the small incisions in her midsection.) She’d adjusted her swims accordingly. More kicking with the fins (no butterfly kicks yet though); less freestyle without the paddles; more backstroke of all things. (Penelope is a horrid backstroker but for some reason this stroke didn’t ‘pull’ the way the freestyle did)

Was she carving out New Neural Pathways as a result of these ‘adjustments’?

What did the Lovely I mean by this anyway? That when one is in a new pool, the old habits had to be adjusted? At Mills, the Lovely I had one routine, and here in Hilltopia she was being forced to create a new one?

How different could it be?

You got in the lane. You swam up and down. You counted your laps or timed your swim.
How did this change your neural pathways?
Of course, being the Lovely I, her Neural Pathways are very sensitive and creative. They must notice any teeny weeny difference in routine or situation. And this ‘difference’ was a good thing.
Penelope gets this. Her new routine with adjusting her swim was Neurally Challenged.

She had to THINK.
And this is what she wanted to avoid when swimming.
So, maybe this idea of it being a good thing to swim in different pools has to be tempered. It isn’t something you’d want to try all the time.

At least not if you’re a creature of swimming habit like Penelope.

Or the Lovely I.