soft sweet brave monday

Hello again, friend, and a very happy Monday to you.
I can only stop here for a moment.
My day is full, my mind is swimming in possibility, and
My heart is bursting.
Prayers are being answered left and right.
This brings a lot of change, so I need to conserve my time and energy.
If you could keep Handsome and me
and our family
in your continued but uplifting prayers
(everything is going to be amazing)
I would deeply appreciate that.
Remember the Worry Door?
It’s shut and sealed.
Promises are coming to fruition.
We are trust falling now, giving thanks every minute.
Loving, loving, loving.
Breathing deeply.

xoxoxo

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our $45 apple

Sweet, smart Mama Kat, with her frugality and her perfect skin and eyebrows and delicious camera presence, has invited us this week to write about something apple related. Chances are she was hoping we’d share recipes for the crisp new season or, in light of recent retail events, maybe a tech rant or funny story. But all I can think about is my wanna-be Lazy W orchard and its singular fruit.

A few years ago I planted three fruit trees on the south side of our pool yard, two apple varieties and one plum, and have babied them ever since. And by “babied” I mean I look at them lovingly and remember to water them deeply and infrequently, not a flimsy sprinkle every day. And I never, under any circumstances, speak ill about them in public or accidentally chop them down. Never. I am a pretty decent tree mama. But in three growing seasons now, despite abundant flowering each spring, despite thick leaf cover each summer, these three trees have among themselves produced exactly one piece of fruit, a yellow apple about the size of a golf ball.

 

slowfood apple growing

Now don’t get me wrong; this small yellow gem is adorable! I mean, I appreciate the heck out of it. I love it. Every time I see it my mouth salivates and I wonder how fast I can find the salt shaker. But I dare not touch it. Being the only fruit in my entire orchard (I have no problem using terms loosely if they make me sound cool) this is a bonafide treasure.

slow food apple orchard Lazy W

But when will there be more? Can I even be sure of more to come? What am I doing wrong, do I just want it too much? I think about this more than I probably need to. Like, every time I buy apples at the grocery store. And every time I pass by the three trees while doing yard work. And at every single Hot Tub Summit (they are adjacent). And every time I prune back the over productive tomato vines. It’s hard not to compare parts of your garden, you know. Difficult not to shame one plant by praising another.

Handsome and I have discussed relocating the Lazy W Orchard in favor of installing a pool deck, but I just can’t bring myself to risk that one tiny apple. To me, after all this waiting and watching, it would feel like giving up on a miracle.

slow food apple orchard Lazy W

This definitely takes the idea of #slowfood to a whole new level. I think maybe even Barbara Kingsolver would grow impatient. Then again, she would probably have planted more than just three trees, so that by the time they would come into their own she is suddenly baking apple pie for the entire county.

Thanks for listening to my apple woes. I have a lot to learn about growing apples, for sure, and this fruit angst is raising all kinds of questions about the economy of small scale farming. We paid $15 for each fruit tree, three seasons ago. And I don’t care how much you like apples; $45 is too much for just one.

Do you have any apple growing experience? What can you teach me? What is the most you have ever spent on one piece of fruit?

The best time to plant a tree
is twenty years ago.
~Unknown
XOXOXOXO

 

Be sure to click over to Kat’s site and browse the other stories today.
Lots of fun people!

Kat Bouska

http://www.mamakatslosinit.com/

almost wordless wednesday, OSU-OKC campus garden photos

Tuesday morning I arrived for Master Gardener class early enough to stroll through the campus teaching gardens for about twenty minutes. I took lots of photos and just luxuriated in the atmosphere. Right there at northwest tenth and Portland, in the middle of rush hour traffic, near the highway and everything, the campus garden at OSU-OKC is brilliant and accomplished, a cultivated bubble of art, peace, and beauty. What struck me, in addition to the health and vibrancy of each individual plant, was the overall composition of the garden. Curves in just the right places, color, texture, rhythm, even surprises. This small series of plots and walkways, raised beds and borders, has it all. See for yourself.

 

OSU OKC teaching garden

I love the clean edge of this curved path and how packed the border is. Packed but not crowded. Lush and rhythmic.

 

OSU OKC teaching garden

This raised bed is so nice in its perfection. Just cinder blocks, nothing fancy, but absolutely pristine. Not a weed in sight. Love these heavy zinnias.

 

OSU OKC teaching garden

These color and texture combinations are just so beautiful. And I wish you could have seen this sunlight for yourself. It was streaming through the branches. Sparkling.

 

OSU OKC teaching garden

Speaking of sunlight, this view quieted me more than yoga had earlier that morning.

 

OSU OKC teaching garden

This shrub put me in the mood for autumn, all by itself. And that simple driftwood arbor is so great too. I love it all.

 

OSU OKC teaching garden

In my dreams and overactive imagination, my east-facing flower bed at the farm looks a lot like this.

 

OSU OKC teaching garden

Or maybe like this… I have enough space to pretend both gardens are mine. : ))

 

OSU OKC teaching garden

I used to grow this every year when my girls were little. It’s hyacinth bean vine, and it is a show stopper! What a great idea to grow it on a driftwood tipi. Super cool.

 

OSU OKC teaching gardening

I fell in love with this plant after seeing it in New Orleans years ago. Gardeners there drape angel trumpets with white twinkle lights all year long! Not just at Christmas! Rumor has it that my class mentor Schroeder Wilson brings starts of this plant (just bare sticks) to the students every year. I’m basically counting on it now. My white twinkle lights are ready and waiting.

 

OSU OKC teaching garden

Is this rosemary again? I think so. I like how it looks against the mulch and cut log. Finished ground areas make all the difference in showcasing gorgeous plants.

 

Friends, I saved my favorite photo for the last.

 

OSU OKC teaching garden

Pure enchantment. I can barely take my eyes off the whole long enough to see the individual parts of all this beauty. I just stood there for a few minutes and breathed deeply.

 

So there’s a quick little garden tour for you this Wednesday. It’s about as wordless as I can be. Hope you enjoyed it.

I’ll be sharing more and more about the Master gardener classes as the weeks progress. Just two sessions under my belt and I am learning a holy metric ton. And there’s so much happening at the farm right now! Lots of gratitude floating around, lots of energy being drained and replenished day after day. Thank you for all the kind words on my daughter’s birthday!

Happy gardening, friends! Happy everything.

A garden reminds us the value of intention-
plan, prepare, nurture…
A garden lets us work the soil,
teaching us everything is interrelated and interdependent.
Why not enjoy the company?
~Jean Larson
XOXOXOXO

p.s. I have been invited to be a guest on a podcast all about nature and simple living, I am so excited! Stay tuned for that.

nineteen wishes

For my daughter, my first baby full of love and strength and light, on your nineteenth birthday, I wish you so much happiness. I wish you happiness in every form it can possibly take, from the physical to the spiritual, both fleeting and eternal. Here are nineteen wishes for you from your momma.

 

picking wildflowers joc 2007

 

I wish you health and vitality, physical stamina and comfort
that carry you through any activity you choose.
(Thank you so much for inspiring me to run.)

I wish you a strong, healthy back and relief from allergies.

I wish you the confidence that comes from sensing your own magnetic beauty
without needing to diminish another’s. (You are so beautiful in every way.)

I wish you success in a million endeavors.
That you can earn all the money you want,
pursue any goal that crosses your fertile imagination,
and enjoy that strong, buoyant feeling of independence.

I wish healing for your Dad and with him.

I wish you peace in every direction you look.
That no bridges are ever burned unless it’s for your own protection,
that you see Love mending things on your behalf.

That your boundaries in this world are ever widening and stimulate your potential.

I wish you a lifetime of horses and all kinds of animal relationships.
Maybe even a career in this field if it’s your desire.

joc on willow haven

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I wish you a never ending supply of drawing paper and pencils and paints.
And soft paintbrushes.

joc art

I wish you music that soothes you, music that motivates you,
and music that lifts your spirits.

I wish you miracles when you need to see them most,
so that you always remember God is near you and loves you.
And that His power is very real and far beyond what any of us can do for you.

june orange lilies

I wish you healthy friendships of every variety, for every occasion in this wonderful life.
Lifelong friends, purely fun friends, supportive friends,
even friends who challenge you and help you polish off your rough edges.

Mostly I wish you a deep and abiding friendship with your sister.

rp_girls-on-donkeys-2006.jpg

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I hope you travel. I hope you find ways to see the world while you are young,
explore places that move you, and find that place that clicks with your soul.

I hope you learn to cook extravagantly and can always feed yourself well,
infusing this necessary daily ritual with your artistic nature.

And I hope you always read good books. Let them transport you.

I wish for you deep and galvanized family bonds with all of your family.
I hope you never feel alone, always feel like you belong and are loved unconditionally.

joc gorilla kids

joc haven eggs

I wish for you an incredible romantic adventure. True love.
Comfort, safety, and thrills that can only come with that rare and lasting relationship.

And I hope that even when I slip and say something that reveals
how you will always be my tiny little doe-eyed baby, you still understand
I see what a beautiful young woman you have become.
That I see you now as both a baby and a woman
and I will always love you, no matter what.

joc baby

These are more than birthday wishes; these are my prayers for you as you step into an exciting new life chapter. Never forget how loved you are.

XOXOXO
momma

worm or pasta?

Earlier today I decided to bring all of my houseplants to the kitchen and bathe them in a special homemade concoction. It’s cooled pasta water (leftover from dinner last night) mixed with cooled coffee (leftover from this morning). I happen to believe it’s a magical combination and love to do this for my plants once in a while. Then I rinse them off and comb out the brown leaves and feel fancy.

Today something weird happened as I was putting the nourished, shiny plants back in their decorative urns. And I hate to upset you, but it was disgusting. Ok. Deep breath.

I was just standing there in the kitchen, thinking My god I am genius! Why am I even taking these master gardener classes? I have got this under con-TROL. Then I flashed a gang symbol to my own reflection in the microwave door and did the Dougie.

Then I grabbed another soon-to-be-flourishing house plant and it happened.

I saw a long, thin, limp, not quite brown, shiny something very gross hanging from the delicate branches of a croton. I froze. I had just eaten some raw oatmeal with milk and strawberries, and that was all threatening to make a reappearance.

What. The. Heck.

“What is it???!!!” I shrieked too loudly to the empty house. But I couldn’t look away. My face was lowered to the kitchen counter, staring with disbelief at this organic but probably not living item draped across my plant like the weirdest Christmas tree garland ever. I was afraid to breathe, terrified of vomiting right there on the freshly bleached everything. Then I thought, Oh sweet granola, if it’s alive it could be playing dead and might at any moment spring out at me! This was easily the worst moment of my day.

I took a slow step backwards and raised myself upright, breathing deliberately but not blinking. Not looking away from the unidentified gross adornment.

Was it an earthworm? Had I disturbed a soil bed in one of the plants and tempted an extremely long and extremely thin earthworm out of hiding? If so, that was the most disgusting earthworm I have ever seen. So thin. So long. And no head or seams or anything! Eww.

Wait, maybe that not a worm. Maybe… Could it be spaghetti? I had, after all, used the starchy water from last night’s dinner, so maybe one stray noodle had stowed away. And maybe when I added coffee to the bowl it soaked into the noodle and turned it light brown. Maybe I had unknowingly poured the noodle onto my plant.

So I found a long grilling fork and investigated from a safe distance. (And no, I’m not afraid of worms, but if one is playing dead then it is probably afraid me. Scared creatures are scary.) It never responded to gentle prodding, and I could never see any body parts that guaranteed it’s a worm.

I also never got stronger confirmation that it was a noodle.

This whole situation really upset my day. Then when Handsome got home I showed it to him and he recoiled. “What the heck is it?? That is not a noodle! That’s a butt worm.”

Oh boy.

Our animals are healthy. We are healthy. This was becoming quite a problem.

 

what is it?? please help us

what is it?? please help us

 

What do you think, fair reader? Please vote. We need to know. Keep in mind that I snapped this photo after the unidentified gross adornment had been out of moisture for about two hours. When I first made the discovery, it was ever so slightly… plumper. Paler.

I don’t know what else to say. Stray pasta noodle? Earthworm on the Paleo diet? Or a butt worm? And while I don’t want to influence your vote, I did eat an almost raw bratwurst this weekend. Handsome has already googled the whole situation and cast his disconcerting vote.

Eww.

 

 

 

spaghetti carbonara

Hello again! How’s your week so far? What’s on your dinner menu? If you have a blank spot and are looking for something quick to prepare, food that’s filling and energizing and undeniably delicious but not expensive, then I have a suggestion: Spaghetti Carbonara. Handsome and I both love this stuff. It’s comfort food you can cook in about half an hour and with pretty standard ingredients. Plus, it’s a great carb-loading meal. I have a long run scheduled for tomorrow, so this was perfect for tonight. And it’s so full of protein that it leaves you feeling full for a nice, long time.

 

spaghetti caronara

This spaghetti carbonara is fast, easy, and delicious!

 

What You Need:
1 pound pasta (Use your fave! I think this works great with angel hair & penne.)
1 pound bacon (cut the slices into thick chunks)
olive oil
minced garlic
2 large eggs
1 cup Italian cheeses (I like to split it between parmesean & mozzarella, the better the cheese the better the final dish, but the green cans of parm work just fine)
sea salt, pepper, nutmeg, & garlic powder if you really want it
so much fresh parsley

See? I love recipes like this that require only ingredients we almost always have on hand. Great for between grocery trips. Great for economizing a meal here and there. Great for feeding each other on busy weeknights between work, school, homework, sports, and everything else under the sun. Spaghetti carbonara is definitely something you could delegate to a sous chef capable of handling hot bacon. And no planning ahead is required!

What You Do:
cook the pasta in heavily salted water to al dente
while pasta is cooking, fry bacon chunks with minced garlic, season as you like (I add salt, pepper, & nutmeg at every stage)
in a small bowl whisk together the 2 eggs with the cheeses & more spices if you like, add a Tablespoon or 2 of olive oil to that
after draining the pasta, return it to your large pot
add the crispy bacon pieces to the hot noodles
add the egg-cheese mixture, working it through to distribute & allow the eggs to cook through
if it’s not slippery enough, if the noodles seem too dry, drizzle some bacon grease over it & continue working it through with forks until the whole pot has a similar coverage & the eggs are mostly cooked
garnish with lots of fresh parsley then devour

I think this dish is a meal in itself. It’s crazy filling with all the pasta, bacon, cheeses and eggs. Then if you add enough fresh parsley it breaks up the heft and savory flavors and you barely need salad. Your mouth feels satisfied and fresh. But that’s just me. I eat several tons of salad per week, so once in a while it’s nice to just fill up on the guilty stuff. And this recipe yields plenty. You’ll spend less than $10 and only about half an hour but still feed yourselves luxuriously.

What do you think? Is bacon on your menu soon? Are you okay with eating almost raw eggs? Tell me what you’re cooking this week. And how many miles are on your training plan. Tell me everything!

By the way, this post is dedicated to Shel Harrington, a fellow Oklahoma Women Blogger who recently shared a mouthwatering nod to National Bacon Day. She writes about marriage with wisdom and humor, and I appreciate her so much!

One cannot think well, love well, sleep well,
if one has not dined well.
~Virginia Wolf
XOXOXOXO

 

 

morning has broken

We slept late today, not peering out the sunny windows until almost 7:30. I needed it. My mind, my body, my soul… Life is good and beautiful but sometimes very heavy, and the deep sleep has done wonders for me.

Soon I crept outside with perfect coffee, wearing my gorgeous new (thrifted) red satin kimono and snapped a few photos of the farm, this place we have made our home, these nine acres of natural wonder and animal fascination and unending work.

So much work, every where we look. But today is Labor Day, so Handsome and I are resting. We are pausing the long list of projects and chores and repairs in favor of repast and maybe a little romance. I’m hopeful that the deep refreshment of a good night’s sleep will carry over. My husband especially needs it.

 

thornton wilder & morning glories

Part of the reason we slept late today is that last night we partied late. It’s Handsome’s birthday weekend, perhaps you remember, and we had the farm filled with friends until almost midnight. It was wonderful! So much happy, loving energy floating around. So many laughs, so much food. Our hearts and full and our belies ache.

honey bees & passion flower vines

Can you see the tiny caterpillar on the passion flower vines? And the bees were in great big, beautiful clouds around me this morning. So enchanting. I actually believe they love me.

 

Last night I took a small group of kids and one lovely new friend out to see the bees. The sky was pitch black, only a crescent moon and glittering stars to barely light our path. So with a flashlight we all gazed at the bee hives coated in trembling, fuzzy creatures. The kids asked excellent questions and then on the way back up the garden path they harvested a dozen tomatoes and one eggplant in the dark.

 

eggplant in august

My eggplant & tomato bed is looking a bit scraggly but still hanging tough. Still offering us a slow, steady harvest.

 

 

faithful bachelor rooster

This is Lone Wolf, our bachelor rooster. He was rejected from the flock and has taken up with the humans. We love him. He followed me around this morning as I snapped photos.

 

zinnia in august

Zinnias are some of the few blooms still thriving here in the roasting late summer heat. I hope that all my life I can grow wild patches of these cheerful, colorful flowers.

 

horse & llama at dawn

Dusty is as peaceful as can be, getting nice and fat in the middle field. Romulus, on the other hand, is a nervous wreck on constant horse watch. You can barely see him there in the distance.

 

I am frequently stunned by the beauty we find here. Today it took my breath away. Big sweeping views, tiny colorful details. Fragrance, animal chorus, thrumming loving energy leftover from our friends and sustained by Love. There’s so much.

Happy Labor Day friends! I hope that if it’s your wish, you manage to pause all your heaviest work and just soak up the best things. Look around and see your life. Smell it. Taste it. Feel it.

Recharge.

XOXOXOXO

friday 5 at the farm: goose attack

Happy Friday! For this week’s edition of Friday 5 at the Farm, I thought I’d share 5 photos of geese (6 if you count the one of my arm) and tell you a little story.

A few days ago I was minding my own business, feeding treats to the very harmonious cats and chickens in our front yard, trying to catch a nice moment on camera, when the Gangsters (that what we call our gaggle) showed up and caused a ruckus. It was noisy and confusing and ended in violence. Violence directed at me. So, pride wounded, I posted the following photo to Instagram.

goose bite

A goose attacked me and I almost died. “That’s gonna leave a mark!”

All my internet friends were immediately on my side, declaring how scary and vicious geese are, and possibly evil, and how they can’t believe I probably need a tetanus shot and maybe amputation of the offended limb. Goose bites are horrible, right? Then I felt bad. Because, in retrospect, the Gangsters tried to warn me. I was just too caught up in catching a great photo of cats and chickens to pay attention. I’ll tell that part of the story with our Friday 5 photos.

 

Canadian gosling domesticated

Duck-duck, our adopted Canadian gander, approaches from the right while the hens make a graceful exit.

 

South African goose happy posture

The other five, the South Africans, enter the scene quickly but Mia in right in my face. See his different posture? This is a goose in love.

 

South African geese on high alert

This is where the tide turns. I was way too close to their beloved Duck-duck, as you can plainly see from the straight necks on Mama and the other three. Mia, as always, is still curve-necked and honking his love softly.

 

Gaggle of geese protecting their adopted baby

That’s Duck-duck still in the middle of it all. Mia is on the right, trying to protect me. I should have listened to him.

 

goose attack

This is Johnny Cash. He had enough and charged me, biting my tender forearm and not letting go for what felt like hours. (It was probably like ten seconds.) I screamed like a little girl and Mia honked wildly and Handsome came to my rescue.

 

That’s pretty much the whole story. Except that since Johnny Cash has tasted my blood (yes, it bled a little) his bullying has gone to new levels. I cannot go anywhere on this farm without looking over my shoulder. He honks with this particular tone of arrogance that just drives me batty. I woke up from a goose-related nightmare last night. He doesn’t even care.

I still love the geese, even Johnny Cash. Mia has to be careful not to show me too much affection in front of The Gangsters, but his heart still belongs to me.

The End.

Have you ever been attacked by a goose? Let’s have all the gory details.

We’re goin’ ballistic, Mav, go get ‘em!
~Goose to Mav in Top Gun
XOXOXOXO

 

 

fancy hotel chocolate chip cookies

Have you ever stayed at a nice hotel where in the afternoon they give you an over-sized chocolate chip cookie, and perhaps it is gently warmed, and most likely it is nestled inside its own brown paper envelope, as if they made the entire batch with you in mind? I have. And the experience is divine. I am telling you right now: If you are a hotel that offers Afternoon Cookie Service, you barely need a pool; you are already my favorite. (But please still have coffee.)

fancy cookies bite

I have goofed around with lots of chocolate chip cookie recipes over the years, leading up to that really fun taste test we hosted a while back. Handsome has his favorites and I have mine. But this? This is borne of a desperate baking moment. I discovered in my pantry a weird collection of extras that didn’t quite match any of our recipes. I tried it anyway, and BAM. Fancy hotel cookies. Like, exactly. Here it is.

Ingredients:

2 sticks real butter, softened
3/4 cup white granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar ( I like dark)
2 large eggs (farm fresh, because I grew up with Martha Stewart & Ina Garten)
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup quick oats (ground up)
1/4 cup pecans (also ground up, not just chopped)
1 teaspoon baking soda
at least 1 teaspoon good vanilla
1 whole bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips or 2 cups chopped semi-sweet baking chocolate

Prep Work:

Allow butter to soften to about room temperature
Use coffee grinder to grind up the quick oats & pecans (pecans will almost become a paste)
Play music like Iggy Azalea’s I’m So Fancy or, if you’re feeling old school, Reba McEntire’s Fancy

These cookies turned out so tender, so chewy and densely chocolatey, so vaguely flavored of pecans (without the crunch) and just perfect in every way, that I kind of felt fancy. Like I was eating an afternoon hotel treat. So I scrubbed all the tile in our house with bleach, to get that hotel bleachiness. And I played soft jazz. And fluffed the throw pillows and swept the front entry and Windexed all the glass. I changed our bed sheets and folded the tissues into roses.

Then I panicked because we didn’t have reservations, and who would feed the animals while we are out of town? Then a rooster crowed outside the kitchen window and I remembered I was safe at home. Not at a fancy hotel. But the diversion was vivid and lovely.

Assembly: It’s easy & nothing different, once you’ve ground up the oats and pecans.

Cream together the butter and sugars
Mix in the eggs and vanilla
Use a fork to stir together the dry ingredients (including the almost pasted pecans)
Mix those into the egg-butter-sugar loveliness
Stir in the chocolate pieces
Scoop and roll dough into extra large balls (maybe 2 or 3 Tablespoons?)
Bake until just the edges are browned
Allow to cool then devour

crushed pecan chocolate chip cookies

crushed pecan chocolate chip cookies

Will you try this? What is your favorite chocolate-chip cookie strategy? What do you love most about fancy hotels?

I am linking this recipe post to the Oklahoma Women Bloggers page, where every Friday these wonderful ladies collect a different type of recipe. It’s a creative spin on Progressive Dinner Parties, and I love it! This week, desserts. Go see the other yummy ideas!

********************

Today is Handsome’s 39th birthday. Around here, perhaps you’ve noticed, we do birthday weeks. He’s already celebrated with his office family, and this weekend I intend to spoil him rotten and hope lots of friends can join in. It’s his first birthday without his Mom, and so many other family changes since her passing have made the grief sharper, more bitter. I would really appreciate you lifting him up in prayer this week. Thank you friends. I know you will.

XOXOXOXO

 

 

 

 

in which my bellydancing career ended abruptly

I haven’t told you guys this yet, but I recently took some belly dancing lessons. It was a fun summertime diversion which I really enjoyed. But now it’s over (the dancing, not summertime, not by a long shot), and I want to share the story with you. If you’re embarrassed to be friends with me after this, that’s cool. I get it.

It started off nice and easy. The lessons were weekly for a month, that’s it. And I paid for them on Living Social where I already had a nice credit balance, so the lessons were practically free. I have always wanted to learn how to dance a “real dance” and this particular discipline has always held a certain allure for me. This can probably be traced back to my childhood fascination with I Dream of Jeannie. Anyway, I showed up for class. I paid close attention. I gave it all I had and even managed to wear a gauzy scarf around my hips. Still, my success was painfully limited.

The class consisted of about a dozen women of varying ages and styles. We all faced an expansive mirrored wall and followed our fearless leader and she guided us through different steps and exercises. The music was rhythmic and peppered with desert magic and mystery, everything I hoped belly dancing music would be. But the magic had limits.

Whenever the class was working toward the right, I was invariably wandering to the left. I was physically incapable of doing pretty things with my hands while managing my feet. And apparently all the beat-box style pulse dancing one does at home while cooking does not necessarily translate to controlled, choreographed sequences. Not the same. Who knew?

And you guys… Shimmying is a lot harder than it looks! When the instructor tried teaching it to us, I could only either stand very still, stuck in the necessary muscular contraction, or shivver like I was imitating a full body freeze. Shivvering is not shimmying, and I was lost.

When the instructor walked hip-circle loops around her right foot in a sultry, fluid motion then invited us to the same, all I could do was sort of skip on one foot, more or less in a circle but really more of a square. Had I added in a little curved-back loopy action like I was trying to gain momentum on a playground swing, it would have been the boot-scootin boogie for sure.

When we did just plain hip circles, standing still and rotating first clockwise then back around, the circles were supposed to be even and precise. The instructor watched me sideways for a while then walked over to gently correct me, saying I was putting just a little too much in the back half of my circle. My knees were straight; that was a nice, clean, non-stripper move. But the hip circles were supposed to be even and symmetrical. Mine were… leaning. Yep, message received ma’am. I have a big butt.

So you get the idea that I was struggling. And that the instructor noticed. Okay.

Remember how I told you this was a Living Social purchase? The deal offered four consecutive lessons to sample then encourages you to commit to three months of progressive lessons as a beginner. You know, get you hooked. Well, I have been to time-share sales pitches before, folks, so this weren’t my first rodeo. As my final class approached I knew a sales pitch was coming and was prepared to gently but firmly decline all offers because of so many reasons. Mostly, shimmying. I actually practiced my decline speech in my head on the way to that last class, while listening to Shakira.

Shakira is excellent belly dancing music, and it mixed up my feelings.

Imagine my surprise, then, when the class ended and our instructor did not approach me with any literature or coin-trimmed scarves or other luring tactics. Nothing. In fact, when I approached her and mentioned saucily that it was my final class (sub-text: don’t you want to convince me to stay?) this is what happened:

She said, “Oh, huh. Is that so.”

“Yep. Last one. All I paid for was four.” I might have even held up four fingers to drive the point home.

“Oh. Well, what did you think? Did you enjoy it?” She was complete elegance in yoga capris and a shredded tank top.

“Oh I did! It was so much fun, I absolutely loved it and I practice at home and everything. Just can’t believe the month went by so fast!” I am hopeless. Never play poker with me.

“Yes, the month is over.” Nodding and smiling politely, “I’m glad you tried it and had fun. We enjoyed having you! Now I guess you can go back to doing…” and at this point she glanced up and down my body, “whatever it is you do.” Just a trace of pity. But elegant pity, you know?

I was nonplussed. This was not even close to how I imagined things going down between us. I mean my speech declining the up-sell! What follows is something I am not proud of.

“What… what… whatever it is I do? I’M A RUNNER, BITCHES!” Then I balled up my fists, thrust my skinny, sunburned arms into the air and let out a whooping, high-pitched scream like what you might hear on Xena Princess Warrior. “AAIII YAI YAI YAI YAAAIII!!!” And I ran out of the studio, a feral cat released. I just abandoned my purse, my phone, my Jeep keys, everything, and ran barefoot (because belly dancing is a barefoot endeavor) all of the seven and a half miles home to the farm.

By the time I reached our front gate, the sun was setting and I regretted leaving my phone there, because now how could I log my miles? Runner problems.

hula hooping at the medieval fair... close enough

hula hooping at the medieval fair… close enough

I should impress on you that the woman teaching our classes was not only elegant; she was also very sweet and a consummate professional. I am totally kidding about how we parted ways. But part ways we did, as there are other adventures on my horizon.

In the mean time, back to running.

The End.