Saturday, April 11, 2009


Hello, Dear Clotters,

I apologize for the blog delay, but we have been in Palm Springs, basking in the sunshine (Yes, Virginia, there is a sun) absorbing and re-directing vitamin D to regions of our bodies where the sun don’t shine. The temperatures were so hot we feared spontaneous combustion.

I can see why T. S. Eliot calls April a cruel month. April in Salt Lake is most assuredly not the same as April in Palm Springs.

Our annual anniversary trek to the land of surgical enhancement and conspicuous self-absorption went off without a hitch…depending on what you mean by “hitch.”

Palm Springs has a personality as peculiar to itself as most regions around the world. (Hello, I’m from Utah.) For instance, in South Carolina, life moves at a noticeably slower pace. The people there even jog with a drawl.

In Palm Springs, some people use golf carts to walk their exquisitely coiffed dogs, just prior to their standing appointments with the personal puppy masseuse. Now I’m not suffering from indulgence envy, but I am unclear on the concept. We had a dog, Bert, that the girls considered the favored younger brother. That was an exaggeration, although he passed away before he was named sole heir to the estate. However, he was clearly a canine savant, whose personal integrity would have prevented us from hitching him to a golf cart or enrolling him in a doggy day spa.

Ah, but I digress. It is almost a funner spectator sport watching the people than watching the tennis. There were men bearing such blatant biceps, one suspected they might have been surgically installed. Of course, upon self-examination, I was able to identify if not
“biceps,” at least a majestic “unicep.” (My “ceps” reserves are seriously depleted.) I also realized upon closer inspection, that I had manifestly exceeded the legal chin limit of Palm Springs, as defined by the local population. I wondered if there is a specific diet for chin reduction…without resorting to the final “shrink wrap” resolution. However, with the current focus on being prepared for any disaster, I have found myself actually hoarding surplus neck tissue. Our family could survive any catastrophic event on my supply alone.

We are quite impressed with the Palm Springs road works project. They had the foresight to paint wavy lines to compensate for the ubiquitous cell phone lane wobble.

Brodi suggested we petition the Palm Springs city council to change the pedestrian street crossing signs from “Walk/Don’t Walk” to “Strut/Pose.”

Time is measured in “celebrity years,” which seem to pass without significantly impacting local body contour. The plastic surgeons in this region are obviously quite gifted, for they do give the impression of time standing still. But we did see a few botched exceptions where it would be in everyone’s best interest to call a mulligan and move on.

There seems to be no size restrictions in this community. There were enhancements so bounteous, they could have kept the Titanic afloat. We saw skin pulled so tight that it could deflect any missile launched by alien invaders. Obviously, in Palm Springs, sag is a drag, and I distinguished myself as being manifestly “perky-less.” So be it.

Speaking of celebrities, a tennis icon joined us unexpectedly at our table where we were toasting our anniversary with diet colas and jelly bellies. None other than Bud Collins emerged from the multitude pretty in pink...the color of romance. I like pink. In fact, I, myself, was looking rather adorable in my own saucy pink hat. It’s just that Bud was so consumed with the laying on of pink, that he will forever remain in our memories as the placebo for a bottle of Pepto Bismol.

Bud was quite tanned, which was in stark contrast to the “Utah fish bellies.” Talk about a lighter shade of pale. There is a skin tone specific to Palm Springs residents. Our particular personal pigmentation pallor just screamed, “tourist,” “non-resident,” “Utah transplant,” “Mug me, please!”

But all the celebrity dazzle aside, the tennis was remarkable. I am including Brodi’s chronicle of the tournament, because her version is more entertaining than mine. She rocks!


Mood: I gotta say, I'm feeling rather complete.

Mood: Totally Rocks.

Mood: Satisfied.

Reason for Mood: You all know, right?

So, first day of the tournament, I took my seat over at Stadium 1 for 15 minutes of one match: Rafa against... ummm... some poor soul. My seats were in the stratosphere, and I could barely see him. But at least I could see him, as in, there was only air between us.

This was my view. Rafa is the "dot" on the right.

I considered paying some exorbitant price for closer seats, but the tix would have cost like 200 dollars. I love Rafa, but my love apparently has limits of the monetary sort.

So, I could leave, saying I saw him in person. Technically.

Then, the schedule for Tuesday came out. It showed Rafa would play his singles match in the gigantor stadium... and then... he would play his doubles match in Stadium 2! Which, is general seating! Which means, if you get there early enough, you could have front row!

So I told my parents, we WILL see Rafa. Up close. Personal. Splash zone for his sweat.

I was determined to beat everyone to the front row. We woke up early the next morning, and I felt like it was Disneyland, wrapped up in a package of Christmas, with a bow of Heaven, or something.

My mom told me it was my turn to say grace on our food, and my brain wasn't quite up to the task, so it went something like this:

(Words in italics represent what I was actually thinking, but trying desperately not to say out loud, because I take my blessings seriously).

"Ummm... bless the food (that it will give us the strength to sit through 5 matches in the blazing heat) umm... bless those (poor suckers) we left behind ... umm... bless our health (that I may wear black, and still withstand the scorching sun, because black is my fave)... and so forth."

By the time I finished, my dad was nearly in tears, laughing at my sincere effort. I told him, if he's laughing, he's not eating, and therefore he's wasting precious minutes.

After all my hard work, we got second row. We were so close to the players! Now I just had to sit through 5 or 6 matches.

What does it say about me that this guy had the same idea?

And the matches were stellar.

The annoying guy behind me would say things about the women like "Boy, she's got some caboose on her. That's a Serena caboose." And I would turn around and give him the elite tennis stare- the one that says "Stop being such a butt-munch, and have you seen your own gut? and tennis fans are supposed to be polite!" with my eyes only.

The hardest part was teaching my eyes to say "butt-munch".

The caboose guy marveled at my courage in wearing black on such a hot sunny day. Or really, he mocked me for my stupidity.

me: "Rafa's playing tonight. And black is my signature color."

caboose guy: "It absorbs the heat."

me: "Rafa doesn't care about that!"

guy: "There's no way Rafa's coming tonight."

me: "Take it back!"

But he didn't. Because, you see, nobody thought Rafa was going to show. He already had a singles match, and everyone knows that singles players don't care about doubles, so if they have two matches in a day, they will default on the doubles.

I just shook my head. "If I have to park my butt on this metal bench until it melts, he will come."

guy: "Is that like some sort of twisted take on that Field of Dreams movie?"

me (resembling a growl) : "Yes."

And then, as much as I was enjoying the matches before Rafa, they kept getting longer. and longer. This added to the speculation that Rafa would withdraw.

I started yelling things like: "Will somebody please just dominate and get off the court!"

But there were 3-setters galore. Nobody wanted to take one for the team. And by that, I mean, nobody wanted to default so I could see Rafa sooner. Nobody wanted to succomb to the heat. Bah!

By the time the match before Rafa's started, I had been in my seat for ten hours straight. Then, the ladies in front of me gave up, and donated their front row seats to the cause! Hooray!

And still, everyone was all, "You're delusional, little Chica. The scorching sun on your black shirt has made you crazy. He's not coming."

And I was all, "Whatev's"

Finally, after 12 hours in my seat, he showed.

He came. He played. And it was beautiful.

He wore his signature white long shorts, and he picked his snuggies (aka "wedgies") multiple times. (Because Rafa is so good, he doesn't care that he has to pick his snuggies between every point. His tight shorts ride up, and he wants to be comfortable, no matter what people think. How cool is that? Makes me want to pick mine.)

Anyway, many fans lost faith. And I like to think they lost sleep over their decision to give up on Rafa.

And now, dear readers, I will focus on something else in my blogs. I promise.

By the way- Rafa loved the black. Did I mention that?

As you can see, Brodi added a lot to our anniversary trip…extreme fanny fatigue mainly. Dennis did return to Salt Lake with a souvenir…a hernia. Yes, a hernia. We have named it Rafa. We’re not sure exactly how it happened. It might have been a natural consequence of sitting on hard backless bleachers for 14 straight hours in 90 degree solar rays so our youngest adored offspring could sit within sweat-flicking range of Rafa Nadal. In addition, Dennis had to go to the dermatologist for a suspicious freckle that Dr. Reese disintegrated with a cocktail of liquid kryptonite, acid, and carefully preserved extract of “essence of Rafa sweat.” He will be scaring babies and puppies for at least a week before it heals.

And Dennis, indeed, must have an operation on his hernia. But this will be done laprascopically. Apparently laprascopy is a fairly routine process by which a tiny computerized scope is inserted into Dennis’ lap, and the entire hernia is extracted through his belly button. I’m constantly amazed at what medical technology can do!

We spend the greater part of each day counting our blessings, and the greater part of each night in prayers of thanksgiving. It’s almost lilac time. The sun is shining. Happy Easter. He is Risen. It is all good.


The Clot


Brodi Ashton said...

Are you blaming me for Dad's hernia? I resemble that comment!

Anonymous said...

Me thinks I've heard that resemble comment a long time ago, say by grampa Ashton. But I digress....

Glad to know that all is swell at the Clot.

Love from AZ,

Paula said...

I look forward to entertaining Ashton blogs. Thank you for your upbeatness. It never fails to amaze! Yes, He is risen. Look at this beautiful Easter day.

Anonymous said...

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Julie O'Leary said...

No one can make me laugh...or cry more heartily than the Ashtons. So happy to see you having fun in the sun! Love you all...dearly. Julie

Anonymous said...

Hey Ashton Clot-
Glad to hear your anniversary trip was a success...I think that Brodi could be responsible for the hernia due to all the laughing Dennis did at the morning blessing! It wasn't Rafa at all. Glad to hear things are going well. We met Deann at the Huntsman Infusion Center when Meg's was there to get an Iron infusion....they were having trouble accessing Megan's port and she was the star. Just as you reported they are the best! Take care and thank you so much for keeping us updated. I love reading your writing's. Chris C

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