Backing a Winner

I wrote this story using the following word prompt: RDPrompt – Slumber

Hazel and Hannah are beating the odds and flaunting the law, all in the name of a victory. But will they be sprung?

Backing a Winner

It was awfully bad timing to hold the much-anticipated competition.  A terrible virus had manifested itself and was spreading rapidly, restricting gatherings, festivals, and many other events. But the show must go on, so the judging panel for the ‘2020 Battle of the Border’ had their work cut out for them.  Severe border restrictions were in place with Covid19 rampant globally and in most States in Australia, making the officials edgy.

The pressure was on for layers on either side, North and South, to produce the best egg.  But border patrol made it hard for two contestants: Hannah and Hazel.  They were old rivals but had been good friends since  they were young chicks.

In a bid to cross the road, Hannah was wide-eyed as she ran into the middle by the medium strip.  She hoped to miss the ever-attentive eye of the big scary soldier and the policemen who stood guard at the border.  The border patrol was a new thing for the community, with security between Queensland and NSW being just another factor to consider.  Each time Hannah crossed the road, she was breaking the law and could cop a big fine.  If the soldier saw her, he would tell the police officer who would pull out that dreaded notebook, and they would slam a hefty fine on her.  What was a girl to do when she’d promised to help a friend?

If she could just get through the yellow police tape and onto the dead brown grass on the roadside, she would not be noticed.  The extreme drought conditions had turned the once green grass into prickly brittle brown ‘growth’ that was brave enough to shoot up from the dry ground.  The new law forbidding interstate travel had stomped out all traffic crossing the border except those with permits and special passes.

Hannah was quick on her feet, but dodging rubber tyres was not her idea of intrepid fun. She would wait until dark and sneak back later.

With a sigh of relief, she reached Hazel’s driveway.   With six offspring to manage, Hazel’s time management was stretched with four new eggs to incubate. She barely had time to slumber. Hannah had seen her friend in need and had dutifully offered to lend some warmth to her growing brood.  Hazel had her eyes on the prize for the competition, and as Hannah had taken two consecutive wins in previous years, she was happy to help Hazel bring the trophy home.

If the judges caught wind of the border betrayal, feathers would fly, and Hazel’s win would be stripped.  It was best to keep it close to the coop. It would be a borderline victory, the North backing the South.  There was a lot at stake; being spotted by the soldiers and police and being sprung on brooding duty.  Hazel and Hannah were a confident pair of hens, and Hazel’s eggs would be the best on the Border.  They were ready to bet their last moulted feather on a victory!

Thanks for reading my story

A Hot Shot

I wrote this story using the following prompt: YDPrompt – Astute

Frank ventures out with a new business idea.

A Hot Shot

Whether it was a Latte, Cappuccino, an Affogato, Mocha, Flat White or an Expresso, Frank knew how to make magic with a coffee machine.  He had been working as a Barista in numerous coffee houses, but the pull on his heart strings to return to his rural hometown in Queensland had been overwhelmingly strong.  He had enjoyed five incredible years away, adapting to different cultures, learning new ways, and creating memorable experiences for the astute coffee drinkers of the world, but all the while retaining his own sense of identity as a true-blue Aussie.

Frank was ready to show the locals how to put a sparkle back in their caffeine hit.  He knew he had an ‘edge’ to succeed in a world where the competition was steep. With several eateries in town that offered a light snack to a moderate-sized meal, he was ready to step up and deploy his ‘Master Plan’.  

His new business would be a family affair. His Mother Alice and Aunty Jude would be enlisted to bake up a storm from old, tried-and-true family favourites.  His cousin Tim was known in the family circle for his natural talent with pastries, and his sister Dannielle blew the candles out with her cake decorating expertise. 

As a team, with the right venue, good foot traffic, and ample parking, he hopes they would be an establishment that would hold their own with both the local community and visitors from further afield.  With a café interior as tasteful as the menu, when the word got out about the new coffee house in town; there would be a buzz in the community like an extra coffee shot.

The months passed quickly as Henry’s master plan fell tidily into place.  With easy parking being one of its many attributes, the premises of a vacant delicatessen were given a massive makeover and the architect’s design turned Henry’s dream into reality. He was expecting a hiccup or two as does happen with new ideas and ventures, but if the biggest glitch were the uniforms not being ready for the Grand Opening, he could not complain.

The colour palate was confirmed; they would go for a bright, fresh look.  Not too splashy as to curdle the custard squares, but nothing naff and bland, either.  The seating would be relaxing and comfortable.  Invitingly plush seating would be appealing to the eye, or if it were coffee on the run, they would book for a longer coffee date next time.  The Iced coffees and chocolates would offer a way to beating the heat of the day.

One question remained.  He called the team together to brainstorm a name for the new business.   A ‘think tank’ would hopefully produce some fun, quirky ideas.  

Bean n Gone…  The Bean Machine… Grinders Café… The Steamy Bean Café…

Then Dannielle had an idea.   The Bean Boutique would be a good fit.

And so, it was. A new venture, new flavours, new ideas and the best coffee on offer in town.

Henry’s master plan was ready to brew!

Thanks for reading my story

Not Quite 100

Time for another Blog…

I heard a lot of olde-worlde expressions in my formative years. My parents had some real beauties that no doubt they heard from their parents or elsewhere in the community. Some of them were quite wordy, told their own story, and I have told aged folk these sayings and some have been well known, while others they hadn’t a clue. So maybe they were quirky and unique to my whanau. Some were a bit rude, my father came out with some good ones that Mum tut-tutted, but by today’s standards they were not rude at all.

Just about everyone knows the ‘Not feeling a 100%’. That kind of covers it all, whether you feel like ‘something the cat dragged in’ – in other words, worse off for wear, OR a lot better than that but still not feeling quite right. It one that is open to interpretation. We can feel anywhere in that 1-100 range, and if that means going from 0-100 in 10 seconds, then that is how we feel.

But now, it’s not just about how we feel, that puts us in the ‘not quite 100’ group. The criteria has become very tasty. There are many people, myself included, who can only eat chocolate that has a certain percentage of cocoa. I’m a 75%-er, I’ve gone as far as 85%, but I like 75% better.

But wait! There’s more! As of last week at my music group, we are 75%-ers when playing along to a song on YouTube. Until last week I had no idea music videos could be slowed down to 75% and other variables. As we were challenged with a new song with a fast tempo, our teacher slowed it down to a speed we could follow with our instruments, without changing the quality of the song. How cool is that!

So, it might be a numbers game, but whatever percentage you happen to be today, whether it’s mood, chocolate or music related, I hope it’s playing nice for you.

Chai & Tai Chi

It’s blog time…..

I ticked another thing off my bucket list last Friday. For years, decades actually, I have been fascinated with Tai Chi. One of my siblings did it for decades, and it looked so relaxing. The slow control required to do the movements correctly, the calm discipline. Wow. So I gave it a go in, the park, run by a local U3A group.

Now I feel part of an elite group. It’s no secret that 60 is the new 50. And 70 is the new 60. And so on. U3A gives passage to get the stripes to try something new, learn something new. And the best thing about being ‘of mature age’ to do this stuff, is that no one cares how old you are or what you look like. The young ones, 30 and below can have their wrinkle-free skin, and ironically some of them are following trends and actually spending a heap on hair do’s and colouring their hair grey. Bless them all, but I’ve got my own!

So, my mantra for today is ‘Just Do It.’ That’s an old marketing slogan from Nike, but it still applies. Of course there are limits, and I have a list of things I won’t do, including skydiving or bungi jumping, but I have done some glass-floor walking in Auckland and London and climbed up steep narrow, claustrophobic staircases in a couple of awesome castles in Ireland. If you feel like a fun read, it’s all in my book, Blarney to Bastille.

Back to Tai Chi…my first-ever session was awesome. I’ll go back. And the Chai I had afterwards was a winning combo.

Look after You, Be Yourself, Be Amazing.

The One That Got Away

I wrote this story using the following prompt: Sunday Writing Prompt – Aghast

Despite a beautiful setting to pledge his love, Jimmy can see deep cracks, so he has an escape plan.

The One That Got Away

The scene was set.  The avocado trees and fernery would glisten in the gentle glow of the fairy lights that lit the way up the garden walkway. The service where Jimmy and Nicola would exchange their wedding vows was scheduled for late afternoon, well past the heat of the day, on Tamborine Mountain. The reception area looked sublime with yellow ribbons and bows tied around the backs of the chairs, high quality white linen tablecloths, the sweetest white ceramic salt and pepper shakers for each setting, designed as two doves. Exquisitely realistic artificial yellow tulips in vases adorned the two tables.

Jimmy and Nicola had invited the closest family members on each side, a Best Man, and a Bridesmaid, having a cosy party of eight.  It was a small gathering but, as the Best Man Dean, had said, the wedding would hold as much pizazz as an event several times the size. He said this, as only he knew the content of his speech, and he was sure it wouldn’t disappoint for entertainment value.   

As Phyllis, the manager of the wedding venue had not had much time to set up the decorations for the bride and groom to commit to life together as they held hands and exchanged rings, it had been a rush job.  It would all be okay on the day though, while the wedding group sighed and cried. She didn’t often agree to elopements, due to short notice, she had little time to create a dream wedding.

Val lived next door, and was super-host of charming, tasteful Air B and B. She was ready for the newlyweds to enjoy her swimming pool, delightful home comforts and luxuries for their wedding night.

However, prior to the big day, Nicola had had several moments and meltdowns over small detail; the planning had gone anything but smoothly. Nicola had been a bridezilla in every sense of the word, from giving grief to the dressmaker about the 25,000 hand-sewn pearls on the bodice of her wedding dress, to the hair styles and the makeup.  With eight guests, including the wedding party, it was going to be an exceedingly small affair, but as Phyllis and the wedding coordinator, Naterlie, called it, a happy bride usually made for a happy event.

Jimmy had been pushed to the limits to keep chill before the wedding. Dean had already threatened to bail out, due to the stress Nicola was imposing on all concerned.  Just weeks before the wedding and half-jokingly, Jimmy’s parents had told their son to run for his life.  He had laughed, but as their big day approached, he had looked more keenly at his running shoes. He had completed two marathons in them, so they had less tread than when new, but they would hold up for one more sprint to freedom if he needed to make a mad dash.

Aghast, doubt overwhelmed Jimmy’s thoughts and a voice in his head echoed his parent’s earlier warning.  Run.

The dash happened while he and Dean were waiting under a garden archway alter for Nicola and her bridesmaid.  They had tapped their toes and shuffled their feet awkwardly for 35 long minutes, while the celebrant offered banter and the best of her joke collection to entertain the group who were rolling eyes with anxious anticipation. Naterlie had done her best to hurry Nicola along, but no no avail. Apparently the 25,000 pearls were proving an uncomfortable problem.

Both men had had enough.  A small eye movement to his father as Jimmy gave an expression that said a thousand words, to which his father gave a tiny nod. Jimmy and Dean excused themselves, stating they needed to use the bathroom, and discretely slipped out the side door beside the Men’s Room. 

With adrenaline driving them, slipping off their dress shoes and into their runners that were waiting, hidden at the foot of the tree, they nimbly scaled the Avocado tree that grew on the boundary to Val’s property. After safely descending from the tree, over the fence into Val’s back yard, their suits no worse for wear except knocking off a couple of Avo’s, they explained their predicament to Val and regrouped before heading back down the Mountain in Dean’s car. 

It wasn’t how Jimmy had seen this day in his dreams, but Nicola was not meant to be his new wife. He would explain everything later and brace himself for Nicola’s wrath, but for now he was happy and relieved to be the one that got away.

Thanks for reading my story

From Shore to Shelf

I wrote this story using the following prompt: RDP Friday – Bench

This narrative is about being found, being a keeper, and finding the beauty within.

From Shore to Shelf

My story started on the wild West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island.

I’d been kicking around on the stony beach, pretty much unseen along with other pieces of wood and driftwood that had been shaped over the years after being thrown around on angry seas, or up against the elements on the shore.

To most, if not all, I was an ugly piece.  I had asymmetrical, rough edges, I was a dull dark morbid brown/ black with some lighter speckles in my grain.  No, it wasn’t gold, we take on different colours and textures when exposed to driving wind and rain and the constant roll of the waves.

 My days were the same on the beach, only the weather patterns changed the colours of the landscape, but time meant nothing to me. The sun rose and after a while, it set, chased along by the moon.  People walked by, holding their hats against the wild westerly winds, brims held down and collars up.

Then one day a young man walked by.  He saw me among the smooth grey stones, and stopped.  Intrigued and excited about his find, he crouched down and picked me up, examining my ugly, raw uniqueness.  He grinned and nodded, tossed me gently in his hand, catching me with a firm grip that told me I now belonged to him.  He put me in his faded and worn canvas bag that hung from his shoulder. I went from light to dark and I was jostled around in the bag’s interior as he walked along.

Later, I was taken out of the bag and put on a shelf with a lot of other wood.  There were all shapes, sizes and colours.

“You’re new, where are you from?” a piece of Kauri asked me, its tone old and wise.

“I was on the beach, what about you?” I replied, feeling young and new.

“I’m from the forest.  I snapped off a branch, but you should see the rest of me! It’s still growing tall,” the Kauri answered proudly.

I was in awe. 

Other chunks of wood were chosen by the man and they were set up on his lathe on his work bench.  One by one, the shavings flew from them as he turned their otherwise uninteresting exterior into a thing of beauty. The curly shavings flowing off the wood in quiet surrender as the turning tool worked its magic. Their grain and colours were spectacular.  The man was extremely skilled in his craft.

The Kauri and I stayed on that shelf for many years, getting harder as we aged. When it was my turn, the man was much older. His hair had receded and had turned grey, his forehead had the lines of a thoughtful, busy, full life. He held me with the same reverence as he had on that wild West Coast beach all those years ago. His eyes glistened as he recalled that day. 

“I remember you,” He said softly and thoughtfully. “Let’s see what you really look like,” he put me on the lathe and as I whizzed around, he began to work away, removing my ugly exterior and craft my new shape. 

His expression was focussed, his eyes squinted in concentration and the tip of his tongue wedged between two missing bottom teeth. As my shavings peeled away to reveal my inner beauty, his expression warmed with delight as my true colours were revealed.

Once I gently sanded and varnished, I became a dish that graced the dinner table.  I was enjoyed by the whole family; I saw the grandchildren grow and reach in to eat the nuts or ginger that I housed.  The family home had many wood-turned pieces, and I recognised the piece of Kauri as a larger fruit bowl.  It looked magnificent. 

I was in exceptionally good company, far removed from those early days on the beach where my only company was the buffeting waves and unforgiving weather. 

Here I would stay, appreciated, and admired and eventually handed down to the children.  All thanks to the man and his faded canvas bag.

(Based on real life events.)

Border Blues

I wrote this story using the following prompt: YDWordPrompt – Ablution

Covid19 isn’t making travel easy, least of all for border crossing, but Simon is grateful for the lift.

Border Blues

Simon squinted with distaste as he listened to the ongoing whiney sound emanating from a carload of smelly teenagers.  The long drive was tiresome, but he couldn’t complain, having hitched a ride for the best part of 926 kilometres. As much as he wanted to give them all something to whine about, he was safe and comfortable on the floor, unnoticed under the front passenger seat. The driver and five passengers were oblivious to his presence.

“How much longer, Mum?”

“I’m hungry.”

“This is so boring.”

“My phone’s flat”

“I’ve got a cramp and my bum’s numb…”

With her left hand on the steering wheel, the other cradling her head against her open window, Maxine cursed the rotten timing when the aircon went on the blink halfway to the border. She opened the electric windows in the rear of the car of her dated 7-seater van.  She quietly questioned her sanity when she had agreed to take her three teenage kids plus two on a school holiday excursion to the Sunshine State.  It had seemed like a good idea at the time, escaping the doldrums in their small rural town in NSW to have a break with her sister in Noosa on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland. 

Go on a road trip, they said.  It’ll be fun, they said. Maxine rolled her eyes. But they packed what was needed for the trip, both essentials and luxuries, whatever it took to keep her carload of grizzly campers content for their journey.

 Her sense of humour had waned after just four hours driving, despite the comfort stops.  In the back on Maxine’s mind was the horror of not getting across the border.  She had the correct paperwork, but as tiredness began to overtake any rational thinking, she started overthinking scenarios of being told to turn around and go back.

Simon, on the other hand, was happily content.  He would have preferred some peace and quiet in order to nap, but as that small luxury was not likely to eventuate, he would remain cool and calm in his curled-up state.

Despite a few more skirmishes from the teens, ongoing grizzles and small pesky problems such as encroaching on personal space, someone farting, someone losing a game on their phone, someone snoring and dribbling, and the all-consuming irregularity of phone coverage making any device activity blip right off the radar until a signal was available again… the road trip to the Queensland border went almost harmoniously.  Maxine flittered her attention from the road ahead to the dashboard at regular intervals, feeling her euphoria build as the GPS advised her of the shrinking distance left to travel.

With the border just a few kilometres away, the cold hard reality of how many other travellers were hopeful of heading north, was like hitting a brick wall.  The queue of stationary cars, drivers waiting to have their paperwork checked and the mandatory Covid19 health check completed, was difficult to comprehend.  Her earlier euphoria dissipated like a popped bubble. After what felt like a waiting time of as long as it had taken to drive from their home, there was movement, with one PPE-clad official talking to Maxine through her open car window.

Simon lifted his head and with his small eyes wide open, his senses were aware of a change in his environment.  The car was still, the swerving from changing lanes or overtaking and turning corners had stopped, and no more sudden decrease in speed causing him to move about from his position, but the vibration of the engine was still happening.  He heard other voices apart from the whiney teens. The driver had stopped snapping at her passengers but was thinking out loud as she prepared her paperwork.  There was another voice that sounded friendly but official. There was a shuffle of papers, a brief exchange of conversation, one of the teens stated how disgusting and weird it was having something pushed up their nose; it made her eyes water. 

The engine’s rumble increased as the car moved back into gear and followed the traffic.  Simon was fully alert now, thinking another comfort stop must be around the corner.  That would be his exit point. 

And indeed, it was.  The doors opened, allowing fresh air to blow in on the warm breeze.  This was pure relief for Simon who had to deal with foot odour as well as flatulence from the fellow passengers.  With the occupants legging it to the rest area ablution, Simon started to uncurl.  Perhaps a stretch across the seat might be wise before heading into the dry grass on the roadside.

At that moment, as they had to queue for the loo, one of the teens turned and ran back to the car to get her phone.  Afterall, she didn’t want to miss anything important in the five minutes she would not have it by her side.  Simon was too busy enjoying his stretch to notice Lillian heading straight for her phone which was underneath him. 

“SNAKE!”  Lillian screamed, turning white with fear.

Bloody hell!” Maxine yelled from inside the toilet cubicle.

“Really?  Where?” Tim was getting out his phone.

“ON MY SEAT” Lillian’s screeched.

“What is it? A Brown?”

“A BIG ONE.” Was all Lillian could offer in her terrified state.

Those that weren’t busy with the call of nature, ran toward the car.

“Get away from the car!  Step away from the car!” Maxine yelled while zipping her fly on her jeans as she ran toward Lillian.

This commotion was all too much for Simon, who had reared up from the seat, his mouth open, feeling as shocked as those staring at him.  There was only one thing to do.  Get out fast!  With one fluid, slick, exceedingly long motion, his two-metre body slithered off the phone, off the seat, and onto the comforting half-dead grass on the roadside. 

Simon didn’t look back, he was gone.  In his wake, he left five startled teens, and Maxine who was feeling a need for something stronger than the diet coke she had packed in the Eski.

“Ohh!  He was HUGE!”

“I got a good photo!”

“He was sitting on my phone! Eeeeww!!”

“You’d better sanitise it then! I’m doing Insta!”

“I’m doing a post! And Snapchat!”

“Tag me!”

Maxine rolled her eyes as she took deep breaths to calm down.  That was a close call.  And it would be just what she needed to occupy the kids for the last long stretch of the road trip.

Simon was well pleased.  He was joyous as he slithered along, having crossed the border without question.  Even more satisfying, he had got his own back on those whiney kids.  Hours of noise, driving and smell can leave a lasting effect on a snake. It had been a bumpy ride, but a safe passage north.  Job done!

Thanks for reading my story

Idling with Billy

We were in our local, where they pour a fine Guinness, and I was watching the music videos on the big screen on the wall. Teased up long hair, shoulder pads, lots of makeup, wet-look lipstick, we all thought we looked so hot back then.

Then a song starts with black/white psychedelic swirly images as a backdrop to the artist as he sings a song I’ve not heard of. At that moment, I began to imagine what rest homes might be like in 20-30 years time. A strange thing to think about in a pub, I know, but working in aged care a long time will do that.

When we, the baby boomers are in need of assisted living in residential care, this is what carers of the future can expect…

I’ll have Billy Idol, ZZ Top, Johnny Farnham, The Eagles, Split Enz, Crowded house, Pink Floyd, Uriah Heap, Deep Purple, Queen, just to name a few, blaring from my CD player.

I just hope the care workers of the future can keep up with us. We will be a force to be reckoned with!

The End

Tea with Trumpet

I wrote this story using the following the prompt: #YDPrompt – Peripheral

Elsie is challenged by a driving test, but she has a secret weapon to flummox the driving instructor.

Tea with Trumpet

Having just returned from another driving lesson, Elsie dropped her handbag on the lounge chair, a grin of smug satisfaction on her face, and headed for the kitchen.  Within minutes the kettle was whistling, and she was pouring a steamy brew of tea into her favourite “Super Gran” cup.  Her great grandson Dan had given it to her for a birthday present, knowing he couldn’t go wrong if he got her yet another tea cup or mug for her growing collection of flavoursome teas.

With a contented sigh, after putting the treasured cup on the coffee table beside her, she sat down and felt the comfort of her lazy-boy chair wrap its softness around her dumpy form, caressing her muscles and joints.  Just as she was about to take her first sip of tea, a sound behind her, was a reminder she was not alone in the room.

“Good morning,” Trumpet chirped.

 Elsie turned her head to her right, realising she had not acknowledged the boss of the house, on her entry.  “Oh, hello, Trumpet, I knew you were there, I was busy thinking about things.”

“Nice cup of tea?”, Trumpet enquired.

“Yes, very nice thank you.  Just what I needed after that driving test, but I think my instructor might be having something a bit stronger.”  Elsie enjoyed a fun banter with their African Ringneck parrot.  She and Don had put a lot of work into his already extensive vocabulary and phrases since he was given to them by a friend relocating and unable to house his beloved bird. Elsie and Don would be wonderful birdy parents.

As Trumpet ate his seeds, Elsie took another sip of her tea. She mused about her lesson, and the discussion had with her instructor, although some might have called it an argument, about the rule given to STOP signs.

“Stop means stop, does it not?” Elsie thought aloud. “So, I did.  Nowhere does it say how long for.” Elsie nodded her head.

“Stop means stop!” Trumpet chirped.  His pick up on human and bird conversation was astonishing.

“Exactly.” Elsie replied. “But he said I stopped too long.  He told me to stop filing my nails and get going.”

“What the F**k?” Trumpet said in support.  He had learned some profanity when staying in a bird enclosure with other talkative birds at a local pet shop, while Elsie and Don went away for a short break with the family.  On their return, his vocabulary raised a few eyebrows, to say the least.

“I know, Trumpet.  He wasn’t impressed.  He told me off,” She shrugged and had another sip.

“I’m telling Poppa Don!” Trumpet chirped, cheekily.

 Nanna Elsie chuckled.  “You usually do!”

For her 89 years she was sharp witted and a clear thinker.  Elsie was required to have a regular brush-up on her driving skills and manoeuvres to convince the law she was a responsible, safe driver. 

“There was another thing, he told me I need to check my peripheral more often.  I will work on that.  But for now, I think I made the grade.  Just try telling everyone else on the road to do the right thing!”

Elsie took another sip of tea.

Trumpet paused in his feed of seeds and sneezed.

Elsie smiled at the cheeky aqua/blue parrot, imagining what he would be like as a passenger in her car.  He would tell the officer quite clearly what he thought of STOP signs.  Filters off!

Thanks for reading my story

Chocolate Frogs

I wrote this story using the following prompt: RDP Sunday – Chocolate

It can be hard to reach your goal when temptation steps in the way. James has a devious plan to keep Maddy on track.

Chocolate Frogs

If Maddy had a dollar for every diet fad or food plan she’d tried that claimed to make excess weight fall off while she sat on the couch and read a book, she could afford to retire.  She was spoilt for choice when it came to gadgets, accessories and Apps that worked her core, and tightened this and toned that.  She had weights, a swiss ball, yoga mat, a bicycle, resistance training gear, Yoga and Pilate DVDs. Last, but by no means least, was her secret weapon; her old, pink and slightly-faded sweatband and lycra workout gear from her ‘80s Aerobics class, which stretched accommodatingly over her matured shape.  

Maddy felt a small melancholy tingle as visions flashed when she remembered those great tracks she would work out to. The local gym was populated by sweaty, multi-coloured lycra leotard-clad women lined up facing the wall- length mirror as they gyrated, squatted, jogged, lunged and twisted. The ghetto blaster played cassettes; to name a few…Billy Idol’s White Wedding or Freddy Mercury pumped out Fat Bottom Girls. 

She was so flexible back then.   It was no trouble at all to do full splits. Her movements were fluid and graceful on her lycra tights and leotards. They did not make gym gear and leg warmers like that anymore, so she would wear her old ensemble with pride when doing her workouts. To complete her new fitness plan, she had bought a new pair of walking shoes with memory soles to stride out in.  She thought the memory feature would come in very handy should she have some menopausal brain fog. With everything on her check list ticked, Maddy had every reason to embrace an energetic new groove.

Maddy made a star chart to mark off each time she broke a sweat or stretched a muscle, just to commend herself for her efforts and achievements. This was bold move, making her five children wonder what she was up to. Star charts, totally weird workout gear, music that was not on the Top 10, was all a bit eye-rolling for her offspring. But they thought it was best just to leave Maddy to it.  Her oldest daughter, Kate, hoped Maddy would not go outside the house looking so odd.  Yoga pants and a sloppy tee shirt would be a far better look, but Dad, James, said not to say a word. James, also Maddy’s husband of many years, was always supportive, loving and encouraging.

With all the exertion and effort Maddy would be to be expending, she thought there should be a ‘carrot’ dangling at the end of each day.  Something to look forward to, a treat to relish for her hard work.  So, what better way to celebrate her achievements, than with chocolate!  She loved anything chocolatey; her menopausal cravings were cruel. 

Two weeks into Maddy’s exercise regime, James could see cracks in her plan.  The chocolate was corrupting her; her sweet tooth was proving more popular than her swiss ball.

Then, James had an idea.

He put Maddy’s chocolate in the fridge out in the garage, that housed the beer, wine, mixers, and other occasional consumables. Knowing there were cold, creepy overstayers that Maddy despised, hiding in the shadows inside the garage, he was confident she would not seek out her chocolate stash for fear of a few frogs that had taken residence.  They would be a perfect deterrent, but James gave Maddy a small square of her chocolate fix each day to help keep her on task and pump her with pride as she moved nearer to her goal.

The stars stuck to the chart and Maddy’s core strength improved.   It was a winning arrangement; the frogs were doing a great job, croaking occasionally in menacing tones, making regular appearances on and around the fridge.  The children fed the frogs under James’s supervision, to keep them interested and on task.  All in all, it was a team effort; the frogs, chocolate and the lycra, and bringing it all together with a faded pink sweatband. And just quietly, James told Maddy she was rocking her striped legwarmers. Maddy blushed the same colour as her headband’s original, unfaded shade. She didn’t feel bad to the bone, she felt good to the core.

Thanks for reading my story

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