Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Spandex--It Ain't For Sissies

I discovered something about Spandex. It’s airtight.

That’s right. If you’re wearing Spandex, there’s nothing getting between it and you. Not sweat, not hair, and definitely, not air.

Spandex and I are completely incompatible, and yet…I succumbed to the urge and bought myself an outfit. A tank top. Some tight little exercise pants. No problem, right?

My Spandex came without instructions. No warning labels. No ‘How To’ directions….

It was a free-for-all.

I waited until the house was empty before entering the fray. In my bedroom, with the door locked, I took my Spandex outfit out of the package.

It wasn’t much bigger than Barbie doll clothes. How could those tiny pieces of black material fit someone my size? Wow. I was entering the world of polyurethane-poly-urea copolymer. That tells you right there… Spandex ain’t for sissies. This stuff is used in orthopedic braces. Surgical hose. Wrestling singlets. Heck… Superman, Batman, Captain America and Dolly Parton all wear Spandex. This stuff ain’t for sissies!

By the way, until I began writing this, I didn’t know what a ‘wrestling singlet’ was. Without a doubt, it is the ugliest sports uniform known to man. A wrestling singlet is like wicked tight underpants... with suspenders. Horrific. There’s no way I’d ever put a full-Nelson on a guy in a wrestling singlet. No way.

But back to my Spandex. I shook out the tank top. Size-wise, it was more Tonka than tank, but I shrugged off my apprehension. I took off my sexy, knee-length sweatshirt. I took a deep breath. It was the last one I was allowed to draw for several minutes. I took that deep breath, and I pulled that Spandex tank top on over my head.

Over my head. Over my shoulders. Arms through the holes on either side.

But there, it stopped. Completely. Wrapped in a tight band underneath my armpits, it remained. It was a band of rolled steel encircling my shoulder blades and my upper sternum. I couldn’t drop my arms to my sides. The pressure was so bad that the blood stopped flowing to my head. I couldn’t contort myself in any way, shape or form to allow me to unroll the rest of that elasticized straightjacket.

I’m claustrophobic. I could feel panic setting in. I sat down on the edge of my bed, arms straight up in the air—but that was a mistake. For--opposite the bed is a mirror… and the sight of a half-naked Rubenesque woman being cut in two by polyurethane-poly-urea copolymer is not a pleasant or calming sight. I couldn’t get it on… and I couldn’t get it off. I was skewered by Spandex.

There was only one course of action. I was reminded of the Spandex-clad Caped Crusader. When Robin asked, “Where’d you get a live fish, Batman?” Batman replied, “The true crime fighter always carries everything he needs in his utility belt, Robin.”

I knew I kept a finely-honed 8 inch buck knife in my night-stand for a reason.

As I looked at the cleanly sliced Spandex tank top lying on the bedroom floor, I was not defeated. After all, the exercise pants couldn’t conquer me. I could visualize how I would look in those skin-tight leggings. No longer would I have soft, squishy thighs. Oh, no! I was about to be toned and honed!

I shucked my sexy flannel sweatpants and sat back down on the edge of the bed. I put one leg through and then the other. I drew the Spandex up—much like one would pull on tights—tights that were way tighter than any tights had a right to be. Up over my calves. My knees. My thighs. I laid back on the bed. I broke out in a sweat, because you see...Spandex ain’t for sissies! Not only was I fighting the laws of elasticity, but until I laid down--I had gravity working against me, too.

The ‘law of elasticity’ is called Hooke’s Law—named after a fellow named Robert Hooke--and it states that “the extension of a spring is in direct proportion with the load applied to it.” Therefore, if I wanted that Spandex to stretch up over my hips and my butt, I was gonna have to apply a heck of a load.

Not only was I sweating; I’d commenced with some heavy breathing, too. But by Hooke (or by Crook) I was gonna get those Spandex leotards on!

I rocked back on my shoulders and picked my butt up off the bed, and with one final gasp, tug and spurt of adrenaline, I hauled those babies up over my hips.

I was exhausted. Exhausted, but triumphant. I laid there for a minute and caught my breath, but I couldn’t wait to see what I looked like in Spandex. The mirror beckoned.

And I couldn’t move.

Seriously. I couldn’t move. Could not get off that bed. There was no bending of this body. I couldn’t sit up. Every time I tried to heave myself upright, the laws of elasticity, gravity and constraint conspired against me. It was as if my bed was a magnet and I was a huge iron filing. I didn’t know what to do.

I couldn’t stay there. No way was I going to let Steven come home to find me stuck to the bed. No way was I gonna ask Steven to help get me out of the leggings. Besides, he wouldn’t be able to help me, anyway. The door was locked.

My analytical mind kicked into overdrive. It was time to make the laws of nature work FOR me, for a change, instead of against. With a heroic show of strength and using the laws of leverage to overcome the laws of elasticity, gravity, constraint AND inertia, I rolled myself over onto my stomach and began inching myself backwards across the bed. Off over the side went my feet. My knees. My thighs. And at last, the law of gravity enabled me to bend at the hips. I got my feet underneath me and pushed myself upwards, until at last, dizzy with effort (and lack of air) I was upright.

Victorious, I spun towards the mirror… just in time to watch those Spandex pant-legs roll up on me like window-shades! It appeared as though I had kielbasas wrapped around the top of each of my thighs. Or, better yet—black rubber inner-tubes.

It came to mind then that polyurethane-poly-urea copolymer might actually BE rubber, because I’ll tell you this! When that stuff went whizzing up my legs, rolling along at 36 inches a second, it took with it every hair it came in contact with on its way up. And then some! I discovered I had hair I never even knew about. Hair that I wished I didn’t have. Hair that’s never grown back.

You think waxing is the way to go?


It ain’t for sissies.

And just for Ali g....that photo up above is NOT me.  THIS is me.  :o)  Sheesh....(it was for illustrative purposes, only!)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Maine Citizens Overwhelmingly Say “NO!” to First Wind’s Bowers Mountain Industrial Wind Proposal

Maine Citizens Overwhelmingly Say “NO!” to First Wind’s Bowers Mountain Industrial Wind Proposal

In one of the most hotly disputed industrial wind development proposals to come before Maine’s Land Use Regulation Commission, citizens of this state spoke out in opposition to the Bowers project by a margin of 9:1.

Champlain Wind LLC, one of the many limited liability subsidiaries of First Wind of Boston, is proposing to build a grid-scale wind facility on Bowers Mountain in Carroll Plantation and Dill Hill in Kossuth Township. The proposed development would site 22 wind turbines, each approaching 500 feet tall, on a ridge overlooking the Downeast Lakes Watershed.

Based on LURC’s Wild Land Lakes Assessment study of over 1,500 lakes, this watershed has the highest concentration of Class 1A and 1B rated lakes in the state. In order to achieve that rating a lake had to exhibit “outstanding values of statewide significance.” There are at least six lakes in this watershed that have a “1A” rating, three that have a “1B” rating and numerous others that are rated as a “2”.

During the application process, Maine citizens requested and were granted a public hearing. An astonishing 374 citizens gave oral or written testimony about this project. Three hundred thirty-seven (337) or 90.1% of those testifying were opposed to First Wind’s Bowers Mountain project.

Due to concerns that such massive industrialization would seriously damage the area’s
extraordinary scenic value; more than two dozen professional guides and many of the local sporting camp owners took precious time away from their businesses during peak tourist season to come to Lincoln to testify in person. Three prominent organizations, representing nearly 1,000 Maine business owners who are familiar with the watershed, publicly came out against the Bowers project:

* The Maine Professional Guides Association, 900 strong, which has representatives on committees such as Tourism, Conservation, Land Access, Landowners Relations, River Trust and others, voted unanimously to oppose the Bowers project.

* The Maine Sporting Camp Association, which represents more than 50 sporting camp owners.

* The Grand Lake Stream Guides Association, representing 50 full-time professional
guides who make their livelihood on the Downeast Lakes Watershed, voted unanimously to oppose the Bowers project.

Maine citizens have faith that LURC will listen to the will of the people and deny First Wind/Champlain Wind a permit to industrialize Bowers Mountain and Dill Hill.  Please consider attending the final deliberation session to be held at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, October 19th, at the Waterfront Event Center, 8 Prince Street, Lincoln, Maine.  Local residents, business owners, tax payers and tourists will be there.  I hope you will be, too.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Stopped For Not Speeding--Part Duh...

I love Kingfield and the surrounding communities and I often think how lucky my family was when my father was transferred to this district in 1967. It’s not that other areas of Maine aren’t lovely—there are treasures to be found around every bend. But if you’ve traveled around the state at all, you’ve got to admit that the western mountains are a bit of a jewel… and the people of this area are among the best.

When someone writes to me or stops me in the store to tell me how much they enjoy “Observations”, it makes me very happy; happy that I brought a smile to someone’s face and pleased that I can make a difference, however small, in others’ lives. I love to hear people tell me about a memory a particular column invoked and I enjoy getting the low-down on their own funny experiences.

But one of the best things about being part of a small community is the giving spirit of our friends and neighbors. Last week, I recounted the tale of the ‘date’ I went on with my husband... and how we were stopped by police as we returned home through Rumford. Steven was pulled over for driving cautiously. (Even now, that makes me laugh…pulled over for driving under the speed limit and staying on his own side of the road… priceless!)

I understand now that cautious driving is an indication that the vehicle operator might be intoxicated—however illogical that seems. I understand that there are standard operating procedures law enforcement officers must use when approaching ‘suspect’ vehicles. I understand that it’s the law that a current insurance card must be kept in vehicles at all times. Yes, I comprehended all that. What I didn’t like, however, was the feeling of being considered a danger—and of being in danger, ourselves.

I am the daughter of a retired law enforcement officer. I grew up believing that police officers and game wardens and border patrol agents were here for our protection—that they were the good guys; the front line; the knights in shining armor. But on that rainy night in Rumford, I felt a little bit threatened. There we were—a middle-aged couple trying to find our way through a big town on a rainy, foggy night—and we were pulled over by armed men who treated us like criminals. As I mentioned, it wasn’t just a solitary cruiser which pulled in behind us; there was a Suburban, too. Four cops…cops who made a point of staying out of the ‘line of fire’, cops who engaged in no pleasantries, cops who didn’t make us feel safe. They made us feel threatened.

And that made my husband mad.

All that aside—there’s a point I want to make. On the Monday after that Friday night event, my husband called the police station in an attempt to have the large fine dismissed. He was told to mail the ticket in with his insurance card and the court would take it ‘under advisement’. So that’s what Steven did… and he’s been anxiously checking the mail ever since, waiting to find out what the final judgment will be. Hoping that the system isn’t as screwed up as we think it is.

In the meantime, I learned via that little-understood-but-well-known super highway called ‘small town scuttlebutt’ that someone has flown to our defense. It’s been repeated out and about and here and there that a friend read of our experience in the Irregular and wrote a scathing note to the Rumford police department protesting the ‘incident’. He not only wrote a note—he sent it! (Since the gentleman may wish to remain anonymous—not receiving credit for his charitable act--I’ll just refer to him as “Drew”.)

Drew’s actions tickled the heck out of me…so I told Steven what he’d done.

My husband stopped in his tracks. He stared at me. He asked, “Drew? Have we received notice that the ticket has been dismissed, yet?”

Oops. I suspect the chances of that happening may have plummeted. But I realized something. We are lucky to have friends who will fly to our defense when we need defending—and sometimes, even when we don’t. Folks like us who live in communities like ours are blessed. There are no two ways around that fact. We’re among the lucky ones.

We might have points taken off our licenses unnecessarily and we might pay ridiculous fines, but by golly—we’ve got each other.

And that’s priceless.

Stopped For Not Speeding

I recently had a speaking engagement in the small western town of Woodstock—aka Bryant Pond. While I often travel to such things alone, this trip was different. Steven came with me. It’s been ages since we’ve spent the day in each other’s company and I looked forward to the jaunt.

Knowing my propensity for getting lost; Steven had a friend at work ‘google’ the directions and with print-out in hand, I navigated for my husband.

The trickiest part was following the directions through Rumford, with its rotary, high volume of Friday afternoon traffic, and its painted-on-the-tar road signs. That’s right. The arrows pointing the way to Rt. 2 are painted on the pavement; at every little intersection, dog-leg and corner. We wound our way through town and laughed; saying we hoped we’d be able to see the signs when we came home after dark, so that they would guide us back across the river.

It was 9:45 before we were back on the road. It had rained and there were scattered areas of fog hanging close to the ground.

We’d never been to Woodstock, and we’ve rarely driven through Rumford; certainly, not at night. We hit the bustling mill town at approximately 10:15 p.m. As we left Route 232 and merged with Rt. 2, I leaned forward in the passenger’s seat… self-appointed “Arrows-On-The-Tar-Spotter”.

Steven drove cautiously; worried that if we didn’t take the correct road, we’d get turned around and stuck in the downtown area, swallowed up for hours by the metropolis alongside the Androscoggin River. Laugh if you will but this was serious stuff; and I refuse to go down alone. If I got lost, my husband was coming with me!

He couldn’t see very well. It was dark and foggy, and the road was wet. The glare of the town’s sodium vapor lights reduced the visibility through the sand-pitted windshield. The headlights of the car behind us shone into the mirrors, reducing Steven’s vision even more. He slowed down as I squinted to find the road signs leading us along Rt. 2. I leaned forward to get the “google map” directions from the dashboard, but as I did, the seatbelt locked up, trapping me and preventing any forward movement. That seatbelt is temperamental. If I cough or move even the slightest bit, it locks and there is no coaxing any slack out of it. The only way to prevent strangulation is to unbuckle, let it retract all the way, and then pull it out again.

I unbuckled, took the page of directions off the dash, and sighed.

“I suppose I should buckle up again.”

“Yep. Especially since there’s a cop riding my bumper!”

I rolled my eyes, knowing he couldn’t see in front of us, to say nothing about what was behind. Steven loves to spout doom and gloom—he’s a glass-half-empty kinda guy. But I complied. It is the law, after all—even though I disagree with it.

I’d barely snapped the buckle into place when Steven said, “Yessuh! I told you!” before pulling off into a small parking lot. Blue lights flashed behind us.

“Oh, for crying out loud. What’s that all about?”

I was glad Steven was driving. I’ve never received a traffic ticket, and I don’t intend to start now. He parked the Blazer and started digging for his license and I tried to open the glove box for his registration—but was strangled and held in place by the seatbelt, which gave an ominous ‘click’ as it locked and tightened.

In any other circumstance, I would have quickly unbuckled my seatbelt, sitting there in a stationary car parked off the road. But in my mirror I saw another police vehicle pull up behind us—this time an ominous-looking Suburban. Rumford Police’s version of a paddy wagon, I suppose. This seemed to be over-kill for whatever our infraction was… a plate light out? Tail-light? What else could it be?

Not only did an officer walk up to Steven’s side of the Blazer, but another approached cautiously on my side. What the heck was going on? I decided to find out. I rolled down the window and poked my head out. The officer shined his Mag-light in my face and stood far back, hugging the side of the Blazer. I understood the protocol, but it irritated me, nonetheless.

“Hey, what’s up?” I asked with a smile. No response. My ears tuned in to what Mr. Grumbles was saying to the officer on his side of the rig.

“What’s the problem, officer?”

“You were driving 18 miles per hour, sir,” came the response. Steven’s eyebrows rose.

“What’s the speed limit?”

“It’s 25 m.p.h.” the public servant answered.

I could feel static electricity as it began to emanate--snap, crackle and pop—from my husband’s aura.

“It’s 25 miles an hour… and I was going 18?”

“Yes, sir. And hugging the curb.”

“So, let me get this straight. You stopped me because I was NOT speeding, AND I was staying on my own side of the road?”

“Honey…” I poked him in the shoulder as I gave that cautionary word. I leaned past Steven to speak to the primary officer in charge. “I had a speaking engagement in Woodstock. We’ve never been there… and we’re just trying to find our way back home. We were going slowly so we could see the arrows painted on the road. Honest!”

Why I said “Honest!” I don’t know. There was no reason for anyone to doubt the veracity of my statement. The policeman gave me the same attention he’d award to a pesky mosquito. He ignored me—brushed me aside.

“Have you been drinking tonight, sir?”

Snap, crackle, pop from the driver’s seat while two vehicles-- blue lights flashing—drew attention to the violent law-breakers in the 15 year old Blazer.

“No. I haven’t.”

“You haven’t had a beer or two?”

The air was heavy laden with ticked-off-man. I poked said man again, and his voice remained somewhat polite as he once more informed the young officer shining the bright light in his eyes that he had not been consuming alcohol. None. Not one beer, not two. That he’d been in a crowded room, enthralled as he listened to his wife speak. (Okay, okay. I have it on good authority Steven didn’t doze off, and that’s close enough to ‘enthralled’ for me!)

“License, registration and proof of insurance, please.”


I unbuckled, risking the wrath of the law and a stint in the slammer. It was the only way to reach the glove box. I knew what I would find. Registration; yes. Insurance card; yes. But not a current insurance card. The day before—on Thursday—I’d remembered my truck registration expired at the end of July. I’d assembled the paperwork to license it, but realized that Steven and I didn’t have the most recent copy of our insurance cards in our possession. I called my agent and asked that she fax them and she did. But a new card didn’t get placed in Steven’s Blazer. My ‘bad’. I knew our insurance was current, but I couldn’t prove it.

The cops went back to their cruiser to ‘call us in’. They must have communicated our apparent harmlessness to the SWAT team in the Suburban, for their strobes were extinguished and the paddy wagon drove off. Reinforcements weren’t needed. We were just two boring old farts who hadn’t even had a drink on our first date in two years.

All we were was…lost.

The ticket for not producing a current insurance card was $171.00. The cab of the Chevy filled with blue smoke as we drove across the bridge and away from Rumford.

I had to laugh—and did. It was par for the course. Who else but my husband could get stopped—by FOUR cops, no less!--for driving cautiously, AND land himself a $171.00 fine?

Do I know how to show a guy a good time, or what?