Columns

Spa Daze

Soothing music. Delightful fragrances. The absolute absence of ringing phones or pinging emails. And best of all, the only time anyone says my name is to ask me how I’m feeling.

There’s nothing like a spa day to refresh my soul.

The Spokane and Coeur d’Alene area is blessed with ample places to bliss out, and I’ve visited most of them. For work. Seriously.

A few years ago, I took on a bunch of travel writing assignments for several regional magazines. Interestingly, most of them wanted me to cover spas and resorts. It was a rough gig, but somebody had to do it.

Not all experiences delighted. At a media day at one resort, my masseur looked like Bill Gates, and sounded like him, too. I closed my eyes and tried to relax, but all I could think about were the questions I’d like to ask Mr. Gates. Like would he care to subsidize my writing career? And what the heck is up with the Blue Screen of Death?

And sometimes the choice of music in the massage rooms isn’t exactly restful. Many places use the sound of ocean waves or a tinkling stream. It may sound soothing, but isn’t if you’ve had a mimosa or a cup of coffee before your appointment.

One of my favorite spa experiences involved my husband. An airline magazine had asked me to write about fun local activities for couples including a spa day at a local resort.

Derek had never been to a spa and was a little apprehensive.

“I don’t have to get my toenails painted, do I?” he asked.

“Only if you want to,” I replied.

The couple’s package included a soothing private aromatherapy bath in a huge jetted tub, and then a candlelight massage.

Derek followed a male attendant to the men’s changing room, and I went to the women’s. Luxurious robes with our names stitched on the lapels awaited us.

The attendants then ushered us into a suite, lit by flickering candles. They poured lovely smelling things into a tub that could easily hold a half dozen of our closest friends. Then they gave us each a glass of wine and told us they’d be back in an hour.

As they closed the door behind them, we got ready to climb into the tub.

That’s when I knew Derek was out of his depth. He dropped his robe and revealed he was wearing swim trunks.

I doubled over with laughter. He says I hooted and shrieked. I say I chuckled softly.

“Hey,the guy said I could wear them if I felt more comfortable! I didn’t know we were going to be ALONE,” he said.

I may have giggled intermittently throughout the hourlong massage that followed, but it was just because I was having such a fabulous time.

While I enjoy massages, manicures and pedicures, there’s one traditional spa activity that I haven’t cared for – facials. Be they European, aromatherapy, collagen or paraffin, I just haven’t found the facial experience relaxing. For one thing, I’m pretty claustrophobic and having my face wrapped in a hot towel with only my nostrils exposed feels suffocating. And once, the aesthetician got a little exuberant with an astringent and splashed some in my eye. My skin looked pink and rosy. So did my eye.

But recently with a gift card to my favorite spa burning a hole in my pocket, I decided to give facials another try.

And you know, it wasn’t that bad. The aesthetician explained each application and treatment, was careful with the hot towel mummification and didn’t splash anything in my eye.

One thing gave me pause: Most of the products used, she said, were to help with “fine lines and wrinkles.” After hearing “fine lines and wrinkles” for an hour, I started to get paranoid. Just how fine were those lines? And by wrinkles, did she mean laugh lines or wadded up linen blouse tucked in a drawer wrinkles? I was afraid to ask.

However, the organic masks, toners and scrubs smelled delicious, delectable even. There were applications of strawberry-rhubarb stuff, pink grapefruit potions and liberal lime mistings. In short, a fruit salad was applied to my face.

While facials still aren’t my favorite spa experience, I’d probably do it again. Especially if I’m hungry.

Contact Cindy Hval at dchval@juno.com. She is the author of “War Bonds: Love Stories From the Greatest Generation.” You can listen to her podcast “Life, Love and Raising Sons” at SpokaneTalksOnline.com. Her previous columns are available online at spokesman.com/columnists. Follow her on Twitter at @CindyHval.

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Columns

I’m Dancing as Fast as I Can

Lately, I seem to be in the groove. I even mosh-pitted!
Boogie on, friends 😉

My feet are tired. Lately, I’ve been dancing as fast as I can.

In early October, friends Craig Heimbigner and Karyn Christner offered us tickets to see Arrival From Sweden, an Abba tribute band.

The music of Abba dominated my middle school years. The fact that their songs still get continued radio play shows the staying power of classics like “Dancing Queen” and “Take a Chance on Me.” In fact, I’ll wager you’re humming those songs as you read.

The Broadway musical “Mama Mia” and the movie that followed means new generations have been exposed to the music of the Swedish band that broke up in 1982.

That multi-generational impact was visible on October 7, as I scanned the crowd packed into the Coeur d’ Alene Resort. Rows and rows of gray-haired folks sipped their drinks as we waited for the show to begin.

“Oh my goodness,” I whispered to my husband. “Do they know this is a rock concert?”

He stared at me.

“This is not a rock concert,” he informed me. “This is a pop concert or a disco concert, but is absolutely, positively, definitely not a rock concert.”

Whatever.

Then I did some mental math, not my strong suit I admit, and figured those gray-haired folks were probably around for the heyday of rock-n-roll and could certainly handle the raucous strains of “Knowing Me Knowing You.”

As the band worked its way through the Abba oeuvre, dancing broke out across the room– most notably in front of the stage, the area cleared for such moves.

“I’m going to the mosh pit,” I hollered at Derek as the crowd swept me away.

“That is not a mosh pit!” he yelled.

I don’t care what my husband or the features editor of this newspaper say, I most definitely mosh-pitted that night.

By the time the band concluded with “Dancing Queen” we were packed together tighter than an unopened roll of Life Savors. I had a great time, even though I didn’t feel “young and sweet, only 17,” the next morning.

Thankfully my dancing shoes got a break before the Spokane Public Library Trivia Championship on October 19. That’s when Linn Parish, deputy editor at Spokane Journal of Business, and I resumed our roles as dancing scorekeepers for the event.

I must point out that when Sarah Bain, director of development for the Spokane Public Library Foundation, asked me to do this for the inaugural competition; there was no dancing in the description of scorekeeping duties.

Believing no journalist should do math alone, I convinced Linn to share the scorekeeping stage with me. Our responsibilities involved making hash marks on a white board and knowing how to count to 10. The dancing came about because Sarah instructed us to make scorekeeping “not boring.”

Making math “fun” and “exciting” can be hard on your dancing shoes.

This year, Sarah lobbied hard for costume changes and feather boas. Linn and I declined to stoop to such silliness, and shimmied and shook our way featherless to the final round.

In the end, The Spokesman Review team triumphed, proving beyond all doubt that journalistic knowledge remains trivial.

My toes got a bit of a break before a concert billed as “Hot Rockin’ Blues” at the Bing on October 22.

When Derek saw the opening act was Peter Rivera, he snapped up tickets for the whole family. We are huge Peter Rivera fans and the headliner, Paul Nelson, was the longtime guitarist and friend of legendary blues musician Johnny Winter. We love blues and Johnny Winter, so we eagerly anticipated this concert.

As always, Rivera didn’t disappoint. The 72-year-old former Rare Earth singer/percussionist was in rare form. His energy, showmanship and skills had us on our feet. Well, Derek and me anyway. Our sons are not fond of dancing with their parents in public. Go figure.

I wish I could say the Paul Nelson Band followed Rivera’s dynamic lead, but they didn’t. The group may have been rockin’ but they were not hot, nor did they play blues. Unless you consider a rather horrific version of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” blues music. While some of the crowd stayed up front to dance, many people voted with their feet by leaving the venue after a few songs.

So, October has boogied on by and I’ve returned my dancing shoes to their box on the top of my closet shelf. When I complained about the lack of winter grooving opportunities to a friend, she said, “Well, there’s always ice dancing.”

My heart leapt. I’ve always wanted to wear one of those glittery costumes and glide across the ice! I mean, I’ve never actually ice skated on purpose or anything, but suddenly winter seems to sparkle with possibilities.

Contact Cindy Hval at dchval@juno.com. She is the author of “War Bonds: Love Stories From the Greatest Generation.” You can listen to her podcast “Life, Love and Raising Sons” at SpokaneTalksOnline.com. Her previous columns are available online at spokesman.com/ columnists. Follow her on Twitter at @CindyHval.

War Bonds

The best part of being an author is spending time in bookstores!

Bookstores are the best places on earth and since War Bonds was released in February, I’ve spent a lot of time in bookstores.

On Friday, I had a reading at the Well-Read Moose in Coeur d’ Alene. This charming store features the perfect trifecta: books, wine and coffee! And my friend, Phil, aka Idaho Dad came to visit!War Bonds at the Moose

On Saturday, I signed copies of my books at Barnes & Noble in Spokane Valley. War Bonds BN ValleyA rainy day meant lots of people browsing the shelves. The staff was welcoming and wonderful and kept me supplied with coffee. Even better, War Bonds bride, Bonnie Shaw came to visit! War Bonds Valley BN

I love it when my War Bonds family attends a signing. The Shaw’s story is featured in  a chapter titled, “Little Things Add Up To Love.”

An even bigger surprise was a visit from Eric Loer and his family! He said, “I’m Eric and my picture is in your book!” War Bonds Chpt 7 James and Helen Loer with son, early 1949

Yep. That’s baby Eric above featured in his parent’s chapter “From Sailor to Preacher.”

And that’s Eric below with his wife, son and granddaughters.

War Bonds Valley BN Loers

At every signing or reading event, I feel like my War Bonds family grows.

What a wonderful thing!

If you weren’t able to attend these events, I signed lots of extra copies, so autographed books are available at both of these locations.