Monthly Archives: June 2013

The Pool Float Flounder, A Workout For Lazy People

float 2

By Vicki Hughes 2013                Posted June 17, 2013

I recently spent some very serious lazy-time on my favorite pool float, reading a book and doing my favorite form of exercise, The Pool Float Flounder. This particular float is made in two sections, so when it’s on land you can fold the leg section underneath the butt section and it instantly becomes a sort of seventies style chair. This is great because the moment you decide it looks really stupid sitting on the deck, you can grab it and fling it back into the water where the dogs can’t pee on it. Very convenient.

In a sudden burst of redneck, “Hey y’all, watch this!” I wondered to myself if I could sit on the float, in its folded up state, in the pool? I imagined myself perched up there, a la Cleopatra, and wondered if I could get John to fashion me some sort of shade awning out of palm fronds. I folded up the float, drug it over to the pool steps, gingerly tested it with both hands, pressing it down in the water to ensure its seaworthiness. Once my rigorous scientific testing was complete, I took an over-confident hop and sat my ass down on it, and I was promptly bucked off like a rookie bull rider at the PBA finals. My cowboy hat flew off and everything.

As I came sputtering to the surface I realized I’d narrowly missed knocking out a couple of teeth on the side of the pool. I took a mental pencil, and added this to an ever growing list of things to never try again. My list includes: roller skating, walking in the snow in nothing more than slippers and a bathrobe, coloring my hair anything other than some variation of blonde, using the “cheap beans” in chili, doing my own pedicures and helping acquaintances get their lives together by offering them a place to stay “for a week or two.”

You live, you learn.

I decided to be mature, and simply use the float according to package directions, which, I assure you, I never read. Roughly forty-five minutes into what I call The Pool Float Flounder, it dawned on me that I may be on to the next internet craze. The Pool Float Flounder is just as idiotic as say, Prancercize or Gangnam Style.

Here’s how you do it: On the side of the pool you place your beverage, your book, your cell phone, a journal and a pen. Be sure to place your phone in a shady spot so it won’t get a heatstroke and cause the ominous Temperature! warning to come on. That is bad, so I’ve been told. Now, bring the float over to the shallow end, and raising one leg, attempt to straddle the float. Do not attempt to look dignified. That will only slow you down and lead to low self-esteem and bitterness. Expect to resemble an oiled up Michelin Man getting into a rubber canoe.

Now, once the rocking and rolling settles down, use your hands to paddle yourself back to the side where you’ve left your relaxation paraphernalia. Contemplate the wisdom of taking your cell phone away from land, consult your recent memories of stupid things not to do again, and then opt to leave it relaxing in the shade of a potted gardenia. Grab your beverage and your book with the ruffled pages. Fun fact: in the humidity books get curly hair just like people do.

Make sure your straw cowboy hat is someplace on your head, and then with your foot, launch off from the side. At this point, you’re doing great. You’re afloat, you have your drink, which is not exactly as cold as you’d like, but there’s no going back for ice cubes now. Your book will have damp thumbprints and a few smeary lines of text. This is normal. Your body will be making these hilarious, squeaking gunshot noises every time you wiggle around to get comfortable. Also normal.

When you realize you are schlumphed down like an eight pound newborn in a big boy carseat, you will need to position your feet on the lower portion of the float, getting just enough traction to push yourself back, carefully lifting your butt and skootching backwards. This is important in case anyone shows up with a smartphone and wants to take pictures, and you’d like to have fewer than forty seven chins.

Take a deep breath. You’re doing great.

At this point, if you’ve timed your Pool Float Flounder workout correctly, there will be someplace in the pool, preferably along the side, where there will be a smidge of shade. Paddle towards it. You will need to rest quietly for a few moments.

When you determine that the level of shade you are enjoying is perfect and that you’d like to float quietly, this is when the real workout begins. You must try to use either a hand or a foot to create a mooring to the edge of the pool. Your success rate will be sketchy. This is normal. You will suddenly feel your inner engineer kick in, contemplating a series of ropes, canvas straps and bunji cords that should be installed poolside. At the very least, you’d like to see docking slips for people who have finally found the perfect spot but cannot maintain it for love or money.

All your wiggling around will have made you thirsty, so you will need to hydrate and take a few sips of your room temperature beverage. You will find it pressed between your thighs. At this point, your hat should be properly askew and in danger of falling off the back of the float. Once you readjust it to keep the sun out of your eyes, you may attempt to read your bedraggled book through the holes in your straw hat. This should not continue for more than seven minutes, or you will feel yourself growing tense while floating in a pool.

Should a light breeze come up and magically blow you over to the pool’s sweet spot, stop whatever you’re doing: re-adjusting your swimsuit, grimacing at your flattened thighs, flicking gnats off of your drink. Stop everything and relax. Enjoy the moment and soak it in. Because now you have to pee.

© Vicki Hughes 2013



First day of school, me and my Daddy


John and The Girl circa 1989

It’s Father’s Day. I am most thankful that my Daddy is happily spending his day enjoying beautiful Bend, Oregon. I am blessed to have him here, where at any given time I can pick up the phone, and hear his voice, and touch base, share the latest news and just feel that lifetime connection. It’s a blessing, and one I don’t take lightly.

Today is hard for many people, those whose dad’s are no longer here, and those who have never known or been close to their dads. One thing I know, growing up under the same roof with a father is no guarantee you have a Daddy.

To my way of thinking, a Daddy is a man who has a genuine love for, and interest in, the short people under his roof, eating all the food, leaving expensive shoes outside for the dog to chew on, and accidentally deleting the sporting events he meticulously set the DVR to record. A Daddy does more than provide the necessities. He provides the security, the perspective, and the occasional bear growl that kids need, to know when to get it together, now. He demonstrates adult behavior with love, while retaining some childish qualities that make kids feel like they can relate to his strength, and bigness. Daddy’s can basically do anything, and they take care of stuff, usually behind the scenes, without fanfare or glory.

Today, I salute the two best daddies I know, my own Daddy, Al Portune and my husband, John. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for making life great for both me, and The Girl.

A peek at the two greatest Daddy’s I know

© Vicki Hughes 2013

Self Service is For The Birds


By Vicki Hughes     Posted June 4, 2014

About every five years I decide to do my own pedicure and then I remember why it’s been five years. They say a cobbler’s kids go without shoes and they should say that a salon and spa manager goes too long without a root touch-up or a pedicure. That’s because I end up surrendering my appointments to customers during business hours and I am loathe to ask anyone, least of all myself, to come in early or stay late to do my “maintenance.”

So I stick with a low maintenance blonde that isn’t a far cry from my natural color and I have learned the art of a messy up-do with a strategically placed hairpiece. Womanhood is all about smoke and mirrors. I’ve also developed a pathetically predictable relationship with one toenail polish color, Cajun Shrimp. This means that rather than do a pedicure when needed, I can simply add one more coat when a minor toe decides to slough off it’s corally lacquer in one complete piece, leaving my foot with a surprised, gap toothed look.

This morning it became impossible to hide my toes of shame. We’ve arrived in full blown sandal season. I cannot blend in, by wearing cowboy boots or clogs when it’s 89 degrees in the shade. As I slipped on my open toed wedges, I stared down with a mixture of shame and resignation. Today must be the day. The travesty must not continue.

I arrived at work and dutifully put my own appointment on the book. I planned. I resolved to not give it up even if The Queen of England needed it. Then, as my appointment neared, I realized it was so not going to happen.

I felt the desperation clouds gathering. I spent the rest of the day strategically hiding my feet from people and then as I left work, I grabbed a bottle of base coat, a new color (same coral family, but with sparkles!) and the mother of all top coats, Seche Vite. I made an oath. Tonight we polish or we die trying.

After I staggered through my front door with my arms full of flimsy white bags full of all sorts of doo dads from Wal-Mart, I realized the one thing I lacked was polish remover. Before I allowed myself to begin keening and renting my clothes, I texted my Mom to see if she had some, and of course she did. She’s the human equivalent of a Swiss Army Knife.

Feeling marginally less inept and ill equipped, I immediately shunned my pants, and exchanged them for a tennis skirt with the little built in shorts underneath. I took my slightly sweaty, very tired, and medium-level, cranky self out to the patio. I was armed with a paper towel, my borrowed polish remover and the tri-fecta of polishes, along with grim determination. Oh. And nail clippers. Don’t forget the nail clippers.

Now, when I say I “gave myself a pedicure” let me use this disclaimer: This was more of a hoof trim/polish change. There was nothing relaxing or girly or mildly spa-like about what was about to unfold. I seated myself in an Adirondack chair on the patio, because I figured they are low to the ground, and my feet are all the way down there. Closer is better.

I dosed the paper towel thoroughly, as if I was about to chloroform a large man, and began to rub away the polish on my left big toe. And I rubbed. And I rubbed. I checked the paper towel to make sure polish was in fact coming off, and it was, but so slowly I actually had time to contemplate the origins of nail polish, nail clippers, the possible need for a sandblaster, and a brief mental list of just how many coats may in fact be involved. At one point the fumes gave me an actual flashback to applying Compound W to childhood warts, and watching them turn a chalky white.

I’m not sure if I was holding my breath or having a near death experience, but I’m pretty sure I saw a white light. There comes a point, when bending over at the waist to do anything pertaining to one’s feet, is riduculously uncomfortable. Examining a callous for a jabby sliver of glass, attempting to fasten the microscopic buckles on very cute, profoundly uncomfortable strappy heels, or hypothetically, removing polish from one’s toenails, it’s just not pretty.

Suddenly every single pound you wish would go away and never come back, suddenly leaves your chin, your upper arms, your butt and boobs, and quickly relocates to your midriff where it all attempts to kill you via suffocation. You have very stern, earnest conversations with yourself about the need for Pilates or yoga or immediate liposuction.

It makes you think of a time when you were twelve and you could fold up your leg and fully examine every crease on the bottom of your foot. Of course at twelve, you couldn’t pick out a good pinot noir, so there’s that. But still, when you are in a position to see what the hell you’re doing with your toenail polish, you are also in the sad position of looking directly at your inner thighs, pressed together like dinner rolls. This is disheartening. Dignity has left the building. You have to focus, and get back to the job at hand.

I decided I needed to quit screwing around and get serious, put some elbow grease into it. I kept rubbing. I was having a hard time not losing heart over the fact that I was now smearing Cajun Shrimp all over my toes, grinding it deeply into my cuticles, callouses and the sad, sad edges of my toenails. I felt the panic rise as I considered an amputation, and then doggedly continued. I was starting to feel like those old women with the smeary red lipstick all around, but not quite on their lips. I thought, “This is how it happens. You just get too tired to continue, and you buy a pair of those brown vinyl shoes to hide what you’ve done to yourself.”

I started to blame the industrial grade top coats we use in the spa biz. Then I blamed the slack, over the counter strength polish remover. The purple kind, “with gelatin and unicorn feathers to strengthen your nails.” I thought to myself, “I need pure acetone, like Sherwin Williams in a metal can, with the skull and crossbones. This Barbie Kool-Aid stuff couldn’t remove a coffee stain!”

I had to sit up and get a few gulps of air to clear my head. Finally, about a half a bottle of remover later, I dosed a second paper towel and moved on to the next toe. This was disturbingly satisfying, as this nail only had a few sad remaining color crumbs on it. Also, I had unsheathed the tiny textured nail file from my nail clippers. You know, the one they are afraid we all might use the next time we want to hijack a plane?

I manage a day spa, for criminy’s sake. I should own an actual nail file. But I don’t because I manage a day spa. I flipped my mini nail file out, like a switchblade, vainly attempting to get a decent grip on the clippers as a handle. I began slashing across the surface of my current victim, thinking I could either buff my way down to the inner crust, where the molten lava lived, or that somehow maybe all the friction would force those polish nodules to just give up the ghost and fall off, like the polish on the toe right next to it had already done without my permission.

How does that happen? They are all polished the same, yet some seem to be affixed with marine grade epoxy, and others are held on with vague promises that we’ll “do lunch sometime.” Suddenly I saw a loose edge. I felt my heart do a tiny skip of joy. Using my fingernail, I pried the edge up and pulled that polish flake flat off. In my mind I did a little Indian whoop of victory. Okay, it wasn’t just in my mind. Whatever.

After I got the final smears removed, and a fresh coat of polish on all ten toes, I felt like I’d completed a marathon or exited from a sweat lodge, or both. Doing your own toes is a job that belongs solely to the professionals. I have seen the white light.

© Vicki Hughes 2013