Life

I keep rubbing my eyes. They are getting red and swollen as a result. It is never recommended to do this as you might aggravate the problem, but they itch and it drives me wild. I must have allergies I don’t know about and should get tested for different pollens. There is some irritant in the air. But that wouldn’t explain why my eyelashes are sparse and sweat gets in my eyes. They are supposed to protect you from dust and moisture, but it isn’t working. Now I have a double problem that no one has heard of. I ask my friends and family members and they just look at me with a puzzled expression.

I made an appointment with a doctor suggested by my sister who specializes in ophthalmology. You wouldn’t go to an optometrist, for example, who prescribes eyeglasses. I need something else. During my visit, I get a complete eye exam and am told I have chronic dry eye. There are many drops on the market available online or in drugstores that help. You must use them on a regular basis. They don’t contain preservatives or alien chemicals and are safe for the eye. Just make sure if you are also afflicted, that you buy them fresh once a month or so. Okay, I can do this if it will stop the rubbing. Now what about the eyelashes? The doctor said it was my natural condition. Women with short lashes resort to false eyelashes, but this is not for me. Instead, she prescribed an eyelash growth serum from Eyelashes to Die For. These are becoming more and more popular for cosmetic purposes. I really don’t care about batting long lashes, but I do want protection. The lashes need to do their job.

I applied the serum twice a day and waited a couple of months as the doctor predicted. My lashes were getting longer by the day. I wondered where it would stop. I looked so different because not only were they longer, but thicker and darker, too. This is a great serum. You must have a prescription as it is considered to be a medical treatment. It is therefore covered by most insurance policies. You have to keep at it if you want maximum growth and then you go into the maintenance period of one or two applications a week. That isn’t too bad. I have added it to my regular routine. Thank you to whoever invented such a serum for eyelash growth. I read that it was discovered accidentally as a side effect for glaucoma eyedrops. Innovation isn’t always in the lab I guess. It’s like Propecia (finasteride) that is used for male pattern baldness to regrow hair. It is a drug that originally was prescribed for prostate problems. Whatever the reason for its existence, this eyelash serum is a virtual miracle. I don’t think people would donate money to do research in this area; so I, for one, am grateful it was discovered.

I was out in the SUV. It needed to be taken for a drive (or I did in any case). I decided to go camping and loaded the van with gear. I pack pretty well having done this a dozen times. It is like second nature. I get to my destination, ready to breathe some fresh air and cast my weary eyes on some memorable scenery. I am accommodated most of the time. I know where to go and it is like clockwork. What isn’t is finding surprise critters when I unpack.

There was a mouse in the house. Eek! Yes, a mouse in my stuff. I want to get rid of this mouse instantly. I suppose he was sleeping soundly during the voyage and woke up just in time to greet me upon parking in the campsite lot. He probably stirred because he was hungry and didn’t have the skills to open my tightly-packed vittles. He looked at me beseechingly.

Nope. I wasn’t going to let this creature survive. But pest control in the wilderness seems barbaric and inhumane. You feel like everything out there is a natural habitat and should be protected. But he was different. He was hiding in my cargo, a stowaway of the worst kind. Mice are unsanitary in case this has not occurred to you. They are not cute little furry pets to coddle and feed. They don’t need a long life to serve any purpose to mankind. Well, I suppose they do eat insects, but that’s another story…

Back to pest control. I thought I would create a kind of makeshift version of a trap and snatch his little body from my presence. I looked in my backpack for a morsel of cheese. Not there. This is not something I readily carry around. I looked for a substitute and found a bit of deli meat. That would have to do. I placed it in a hiking boot. I figured the shoe would be long enough to capture him and keep him inside if I folded over the top. I got everything ready. I was alert.

The mouse sensed something amiss and started to scurry about the back storage area looking for an exit. I quickly slammed the hatch shut. He was my prey and he was a goner. He scurried some more and finally found a crevasse in which to crawl. I couldn’t reach him. I was fighting the mouse and he was winning for sure.

This little game of hide and seek went on for some time before I got really exasperated. He was out of my gear and more or less in the open, so he was less of a threat overall. Yes, he had tarnished almost every inch of the car with his existence, and it was going to be time to fumigate when I got home, lest he had deposited any little telltale droppings.

A frustrated half hour later, I got an idea. It was not a brainstorm, mind you, but a final act of aggression. I opened the door to the van in the hopes that the intruder would hop out and be gone. Forget pest control. Let’s just have pest departure. I waited. He waited. It was a Mexican standoff. Finally, I took a stick and touched him on the back, gently of course. I don’t want to offend any of you environmentalists. He reacted and soon was trotting about on the ground outside the vehicle.

I was thrilled. It had been an exhausting interplay and I was ready to move on to the campgrounds and get set up for the night. I did so at my leisure. When I returned to the SUV for a final load of food to grill over a nice open fire, there he was—waiting for me in all his brown-textured glory. I tossed him the deli meat from the boot and I swear I could see him smile.

There is nothing, absolutely nothing, like a hot shower and a steam after some vigorous sports activity. Most of the time I work out at the gym and I always look forward to a post exercise dousing of intense water. It soothes the muscles and relieves the ache. In other words, it hits the spot. In point of fact, it doesn’t even allow any discomfort to come on. You go home invigorated and ready to hop in the SUV for a night of adventure. Let your mood be your guide.

A shower is the best athletic recovery tip I have other than bandaging a swollen knee. I am usually asked about other subjects, but this one I will offer as free advice. You don’t want to encounter a situation, however, where hot water is in short supply. It either requires a major tank, or even better, one of the best tankless water heater units. I am probably the only person I know who would check this all out before joining a gym. So now you also know. It should be tops on your checklist after the monthly fee, the locker room amenities, and of course the equipment.

My motto at the gym is “hit the showers!” Public or private, this kind of indulgence may be daily, but it is special every time. You can’t say that about a lot of things you do this often. I am so adamant about having enough hot water at home, that I have a backup system generator. You can see that I am not kidding about this necessity of life. Drinking water isn’t not even as important.

Let that barrage of heat pour over you and massage your back. Let your feet trail in the pools below. Rinse your every part in welcome warmth. Has anyone ever written an ode to a shower? Well, there is always a first time. Just looking at things from a practical perspective, you will get squeaky clean while you relax and unwind.

I vote for putting a great shower head in your bathroom at home—the best money can buy. It has to be flexible and adjustable to your mood and whim. It should never corrode and lie down on the job. This is my athletic recovery tip number two. A good one is worth its weight in gold in superior performance and longevity. If you want to add a soft water cartridge, so be it. The shower experience should be rich and full.

Okay, enough rhapsodizing. You say a shower is a shower is a shower. While I beg to differ, I won’t overdo the paean. I will say, however, that if you don’t know what I am talking about in this blog, you have been missing quite a nice experience. If you are willing to accept tepid water, unreliable shower head spray, and even a rough towel after the fact, you are compromising way too much. Try paying a little more attention to the experience, and you will find ways of making it better.

Workout buffs love the gym and go with regular frequency – some every day of the week. I am no exception. But there are times when it is closed and the mood moves you to get a little nighttime exercise. What do you do? You either forego or start thinking about acquiring equipment for a home gym system. It would be the ultimate in personal luxury.

You need space first and foremost to spread it all out. There is nothing worse than having a cycle in the living room squeezed between the sofa and an overstuffed chair. You need a place in the basement, attic, garage, shed, or spare room. If you have any of these, you are well on your way to an anytime gym that is custom designed for you alone. Don’t forget storage. You need a place to stow gear that is unused, towels, straps, and balls.

There are a million options, I know, when buying equipment. So apart from space, you have to establish a budget. This can be difficult as it should be dictated by what you need in the way of basics. Consider working every part of the body. What will you use for abs, pecs, lats, and hamstrings? Are you one to stretch with control?

So point three is to have a workout plan that addresses your body type, age, and physical condition. What are your goals? To lose weight, maintain tone, build muscle, achieve flexibility, or more? I vote for a rack of weights to start. This is a necessity of any program. Get a variety to use for curls, biceps, triceps and the like. They have to be heavy enough to count or you will end up doing a thousand more reps.

You then need cardio equipment. A stair stepper, elliptical, or treadmill device of the small home gym type. If space is at a premium, you might go for one of the versatile Bowflex trainer multi-purpose machines. You can lower body fat percentages, tone up, and feel good all around. People say they are efficient, but as for me, I don’t mind the time I spend in the gym. It is my refuge from work, not the other way around.

When buying equipment, you may want to get some help from a reputable consultant. You will no doubt talk about strength, endurance, weight loss, and tone. How do you get this in a home gym without breaking the bank or taking over the house? In case there is more than one person in the household, you want versatility and ease of use. There are just too many variables to go it alone.

Things like a rower can be added, but again, it is a matter of priorities and square footage. Few people have a power rack or a bench. Any equipment that can be combined in one unit may be the perfect answer for the average user. Some are a medley of an Olympic bar, weight stacks, a pulley system, pull up bar, leg extension and curl attachments, and more—all calibrated for a low ceiling height. Yes, that too is an issue to consider. You may want an abdominal crunch station and/or a press arm. You can see that I can’t dictate exactly what is best without knowing your workout style.