Vacationing till it hurts

The weekend was lovely. The veranda was crowded with pillowed seats, an assortment of tables, decorated gourds, and a jungle of potted plants.

We lounged. We reclined. We milled. We lingered. We lollygagged.

We belonged in a renaissance painting, especially my cousin Zoe.

So much of the weekend consisted of eating, really good eating. Do you know how refreshing it is to eat my kind of food for an entire weekend, without the Children’s Complaining Choir wailing away in stereo? As it were, when each dish was placed before us, we started talking and admiring and poking and asking questions. And then, as soon as we took the first bite, we began to name the ingredients.

It went something like this. For the orange soup with sprigs of mint, we suggested carrot! orange! ginger! lemon! onion! For the potato salad: vinegar! capers!—what are capers anyway?—green peppercorns, I think—oh. For the salad dressing: goat cheese! lemon! olive oil! maple syrup!—no, not maple syrup, honey—oh.

That was just the meal that Dr. Perfection prepared (and only part of it). For the restaurant dinner: grilled watermelon, corn-molasses fritters, peppered brie, a cheese platter, scallop ravioli with provolone cheese, Swiss chard, and black sesame seeds. Chocolate flan, smoked pear-ricotta cheesecake with blue cheese drizzle, coconut-white chocolate ice cream comprised the dessert. There were cocktails and coffee, too.

There was only one hitch to the whole blissful affair—I sustained a mysterious back injury (and it was not due to the yoga, of that I am certain). After sleeping four lovely hours on a feather/air mattress, I awoke at 4:30 with intense back pain. I couldn’t lay down, so I got up, hobbled to the bathroom, and took 1000 mg of Tylenol. I gingerly walked downstairs to the first floor. I paced. I couldn’t move my arm. Was my shoulder out of socket? The grandfather clock ticked eerily. I tentatively tried to perch on the edge of the sofa. Success! I waited. My mother was sleeping in the sun room—I could hear her snoring. I didn’t know my mother snores. Do I snore?

I tried to rub my right shoulder with my left hand. I discovered I could lean back on the sofa. I found a “comfortable” position, chin elevated, but not too high, head slightly tilted to one side. Any variation hurt. Breathing too deeply hurt. Blinking hurt.

It was six o’clock. Was it too early to wake my mother? I cleared my throat. That didn’t hurt. I cleared it again. I waited some more. I breathed.

Surely Mom would be waking up soon. She’d come out and make her coffee and then I could tell her that I hurt. Not that she could really do anything about it.

Shortly after 6:30 and a few more throat clearings, Mom emerged. She made her coffee. She came and sat beside me and rubbed my shoulder for a good thirty minutes. Dr. Perfection woke up and gave me 400 mg of Motrin, and then another 400 mg. The medicine relaxed me enough that I could lay down, and Aunt Valerie and Cousin Amber kept me company as I lay on my bed of pain. After a bit, I kind of passed out.

When I woke up, the rest of the group had finished up with breakfast and were visiting, squeezing in the last few minutes of Veranda Lounging. Dr. P had given us all fancy (and very comfortable) flip-flops. We posed, snapped photos, and departed.

Back home, I glided stiffly through the house, slowly unpacked, half-heartedly helping with the evening chores. I took another 800 mg of Motrin and went to bed.


The next day—Monday, yesterday—I called my friend Shannon. She wasn’t home, so I left a message: He-ey. Just calling to check up. I’m back. Don’t remember your Monday schedule, but apparently you’re not there. Call me when you get back. But I should warn you, I can’t really talk on the phone. I injured myself vacationing—it’s such a strenuous activity, you know—and I have a hurt back and can’t hold the phone with my shoulder so it will have to be a shorter phone call. But anyway, call me. Bye.

When I’m bored, I like to leave long, annoying messages like that. It helps to pass the time.

A little later the phone rang. It was Shannon.

“You will not believe this,” she said pointedly. “Guess where I just was?”

I thought hard for two seconds and then gave it my best shot, “The chiropractor?”

“YES! Over the weekend I developed a knot behind my right shoulder blade and then it radiated up into my neck and I have been in so much pain and couldn’t sleep and can’t hold the telephone with my shoulder and then I went to the chiropractor and she said she’s seen about five people with this very same thing over the last couple weeks and it has a name! It’s called torta-something or other. She said not to stretch it, to treat it like it’s a smashed finger, and to use a simultaneous combo of ice and heat on the sore spot. She said it will go away in several days.”

Do I have a good friend or what? She doesn’t settle for simply feeling my pain, oh no! She goes to the extreme of experiencing the exact same thing, making a trip to the doctor, obtaining a diagnosis and treatment plan, and then filling me in on all the little details…for free! How totally cool is that? True, she did get the privilege of running around with a couple of acupuncture needles stuck in the back of her neck for 24 hours, but I’m okay with that. (My back is already feeling much better—could it be possible that we’re so connected that somehow her needles are helping me?)


I’m relieved to know that my mysterious condition will not last forever and that I’ll soon be able to scrub a toilet and pick up toys without wincing. Not that I really want to scrub toilets or pick up toys, of course.

But then again, I do want to do those things. You know what I mean?

The best part of vacationing is realizing that you wouldn’t want to do it forever. It drives the lesson home even more when you sustain injuries while slacking off.

But even so, I’m already looking forward to next year’s soiree.

I’ll be sure to pack plenty of Motrin.

About One Year Ago: Cross Dressing.


  • Anonymous

    So, I will be expecting a check soon for my medical consultation, right? Or maybe just another delicious dessert over a cup of coffee! Happy birthday to you!!!!

  • Jennifer Jo

    Wow, Mavis. I feel super-analyzed. Maybe you should be my shrink! I could send you pictures of my life and you could analyze them and then I'd send you a check!

    Anyway, yes, I am the one with red toenails (I prefer a darker red, but my favorite nail polish is mostly dried up) and bare legs (capris).

    And no, you don't get a prize. But maybe you could paint YOUR toenails to celebrate?

  • It's me ...Mavis

    Wait….I change my mind…red toes…Duh… if you were holding the camera it would be over your feet 🙂 Does the winner get a prize….maybe a chicken caesar salad sandwich from Panera or at least a ribbon or something?

  • It's me ...Mavis

    Okay….I'll guess…you don't strike me as the kind of person who paints their toes…or that has a tan line on her feet…or one who wears skinny jeans like the two on the lower left….so…I bet you are on the upper left next to the pink toes wearing your best jeans. Enough drama already….which feet are yours 🙂

  • You Can Call Me Jane

    A day early…

    Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday you, Happy Birthday dear JJ, Happy Birthday to you!

    You are an amazing person and friend, dear. Enjoy your special day. Love, me

  • Jennifer Jo

    K, Wha-a-at? How could you figure out the other feet when you don't even know the people who belong to them? What are you? Omnipresent?

    Aunt V, I loved talking with you…and with everybody. It was quite worth it, even with my body breaking down in the middle of it.

    Cheryl, Your septic tank backed up? Oh dear. It sounds perfectly dreadful!

    Dr. P, did you read what Mavis said about you? Those are some mighty words indeed!

    Thy Hand, I think Zoe looks stunningly VOLUPTUOUS. There was another 7-month-pregnant cousin there, and she was also voluptuous—I just didn't happen to snap a picture of her lounging.

  • Anonymous

    Ahhhh, What a great weekend to remember! Sorry you had to feel so rotton JJ. At least it wasn't the whole time. It was good to reconnect in a way other than blog comments.

    Aunt V.

  • Cheryl B.

    I must remind myself NOT to read your blog before bed. Now I'm soooo hungry!!! The food sounds amazing. I'm so happy you had such a great weekend (minus the back pain). Sorry about that… I hope it feels better soon.

    My weekend consisted of our septic tank backing up… quite a different experience than you had ;). Glad that's over – I WAS able to use the mop along with every disinfectant I could find! Good thing I didn't mysteriously get the 'behind the shoulder' pain! Oh, but I did get one on Thursday in my lower back… had me immobile and came from just outta no where. To comfort you though, it did subside after about 4 days. I didn't get the Dr.s diagnosis and I did stretch it out – I think for MY pain it helped.

  • It's me ...Mavis

    #1 I want that swan neck gourd…it almost looks like it has a faint leopard print on it.

    #2 I was rather disappointed when I found out Dr. Perfection was female last week when you talked about your upcoming party… When I read the comments on your blog I always imagined "him" about 50 with rimmed glasses…uptight… and a brown leather couch…and yet still very witty.

    #3 Thanks for clearing things up with a photo of the good Doctor. I can now continue to read your blog because this female… Dr. Perfection…. the one with the apron and stellar choice of eye wear that screams…look at me….I'm the life of any party I go to….Yep….She does indeed look witty… and fun…and who knows she may even have a brown leather couch…She looks like one cool cat….and it appears she gives out parting gifts as well….I LOVE THAT!
    I hope someday I too ….. can look like that.

    #4 Sorry about the back pain issue…if it makes you feel any better I skinned my wrist on the counter this morning…..

  • You Can Call Me Jane

    What a lovely time! And I got to see a picture of Zoe!! Zoe, you are stunningly pregnant:-)! Sorry to hear about Shannon and your back problems- you two better stay away from me. (Just for a little while.)

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