Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Practical Application of Yoga.

So, this morning I'm leaving for work, running late. I enter my garage, open the passenger door of my car, throw in my giant tote, purse, and lunch bag, and go around to the driver's side to get into the car.

To set the scene: picture a narrow, one car garage, containing a 2006 Subaru Forester and way too much other stuff. On the driver's side of the vehicle stands my long-neglected bike. I do not ride my bike in the summer, because I am not into heatstroke. I'll take it out again in a month or so. So it's been standing, unmoved, against the wall for several months. It's close to my car, but I have enough room to get in and out of the car without bumping it if I'm careful.

I was careful this morning, I swear. I didn't bump the bike! But when I shut my car door (with myself inside) the bike sort of...sighed...and slumped over. Against the driver's side door. Oh, shit. I was already running late.

I tried to open the car door, and couldn't open it more than six inches. The rubber handlebar grip was against the car door and working like a remarkably effective doorstop. I didn't want to damage the bike or the car, so obviously starting the car and backing out was not an immediate option. I was effectively trapped in my vehicle in my garage.

A 2006 Subaru Forester isn't very large. We are not talking roomy SUV here. It also has a center console with a cup holder. The cup holder contained my "drive to work" beverage. I also had the aforementioned giant tote bag, purse and lunch bag crammed into the passenger seat.

Pause, swear, take stock of the truly comical situation. How do I get out of this without damaging anything or spilling my tea? I would have to climb into the passenger seat.

I transferred my giant tote bag and purse off the passenger seat to the backseat. My lunch was on the front floor, not in the way for what I intended to do.

I then pulled my right knee to my chest, angling it to avoid the steering wheel, and extended it outward and partly over the passenger seat. Placing my hands one on each seat, I hoisted my rear smoothly over the center console, right leg still in the air, then lowered my ass onto the passenger seat and repeated the lift and leg fold with my left leg. The whole process took about 10 seconds, I moved slowly to avoid hitting the beverage in the center console. I got out on the passenger side, went around to the bike, un-wedged it from the car and balanced it on its sadly flat tires again, and gave it a little apologetic pat, got back in the car and went to work, thinking that THIS is why I need to keep up with my yoga practice. You never know when your bike will turn on you and trap you in your car. Or at least *I* never know. And not too bad for a 58 year old grandma of three, I think.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Hiding in Books Lately.

My sorry schedule of updating this sorry little blog is even more sorry lately. Sorry.

I'm just...hiding from the world as much as I can right now. I am a politically active and involved American, and I'm just so disgusted I have to actively disengage for the sake of my blood pressure. I will of course contribute in every way I can to get Secretary Clinton elected, but I just can't take the immersion in the day to day insanity, hate and lies (and NO, it's not "both sides"). I've been thinking about writing about my encounters, and the realization that some people really are actively, willfully ignorant and like it that way, and it's frustrating as hell. BUT this is not about that.

This is about what I've been reading/listening to lately. (I count listening to an audiobook as reading and use the term interchangeably.) So does Amazon's Kindle Unlimited and it paid off big time for me this month. I had been thinking of dropping my subscription. It's around $10 a month for unlimited downloads of books identified as "KindleUnlimited" selections, and honestly, a lot of it is pure crap. I've stopped reading a lot of books and returned them to make room for other choices, thanking God I hadn't paid for that load of crap that somehow had rave reviews on Amazon (vanity Kindle author has a lot of friends, methinks).

So I was thinking it's not worth it, and then holy shit, a truly amazing trilogy by a real author was offered up for free! I have been burned many times, so tried the first one with my "Eh, it's free," attitude and have been devouring the rest of the series as fast as I can. Brilliance. It's alt history science fiction - our current time, but tweaked. Starting around 1980, a small number, maybe one in a hundred, children were born with extraordinary abilities - sometimes physical, sometimes mental, it could be math or spatial awareness or extraordinary memories or the ability to read body language down to the twitch of an eyelash - and the effect those children have, especially as they reach adulthood and start a second generation of "brilliants" is incredibly complex. I freaking LOVE these books so much, it's hard to put into words. The author doesn't fall into any cliches of Evil Government Forces vs. The Good Guys - the good guys are on both sides and are complicated as hell, and a lot of blood is shed as the "normal" and the "brilliant" are pitted against each other by members of their own kind, and at the end of the second book in the trilogy the country is in a new civil war. It's fast paced and very original, and I especially like how Marcus Sakey created ordinary woman "minor" wife-type characters who are smart and strong and step up when confronted with insane adversity. Apparently he's a prolific author I'd somehow never heard of, and now I want to read everything else.

I'm also working my way through Linda Castillo's Kate Burkholder series. They are addictive, though by halfway through the series I have started to think of tiny Painter's Mill as Cabot Cove, Maine, the fictional town where Jessica Fletcher solved murders on a weekly basis. (Never, ever, have tea with that woman, btw. I mean Jessica Fletcher, not Angela Lansbury. I'd give up a month's pay to have tea with her.) The Kate Burkholder series has a similar issue: though the crimes are all original, interesting and well-written, that charming rural Ohio county apparently has a murder rate to rival a major city. Still interesting brain candy with likeable characters and an interesting setting, and I like them enough to pay for them.

Otherwise, it's work and books and peeking out of my bunker now and then to check in with Facebook. And Disney. We went to the Magic Kingdom and I rode Splash Mountain for the first time in 20 years! I'd forgotten how long and fun that ride is! Everyone focuses on the big drop at the end, but the rest of it is adorable! We'd met up with my daughter's friend and her little girl, who was riding it for the first time. I rode in the front, and we got wet, but not soaked. I do wonder why I bother to style my hair before going to Disney, and wonder how some of the women in the ladies rooms look so groomed, standing at the mirror touching up their lipstick and running a brush through their hair. A few hours of sweat and sun and wind and roller coasters and I look like I've been shipwrecked for a month, and I don't care. I am cultivating not caring about a lot of things that would otherwise annoy me or piss me off. Yoga. Yoga is good.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Lovey Cat.

Yesterday was dreary and gray, and I was sorely tempted to lounge on the couch doing nothing, but I forced myself to get off my ass and clean the house. I vacuumed and mopped and laundered and dusted for hours, and when I finally sat down on the couch, both animals joined me. I had Sophie glued to my left hip and Ellie draped across my lap, and after a while I noticed something:

Ellie had reached across me and was deliberately touching Sophie's paw.


Sophie noticed after a bit and delicately moved her paw out of reach. Ellie rearranged herself just a bit, stretched a little further, and touched Sophie again. It was no accident.


This time, Sophie let Ellie keep her paw on her and went back to sleep. Ellie was being possessive, and she wanted to possess both of us. Sophie is hers too. She may be the sweetest cat I've ever had.




Sunday, September 04, 2016

Disney's Hollywood Studios

I refer to it as the "once a year is plenty" park, and that remains true, somewhat, but they are trying. The Star Wars expansion will help a lot; it's by far the most fun part of the park now. After you've ridden Tower of Terror and the Rock 'n' Rollercoaster, there's always geeking out to a storm trooper parade. The small people weren't ready for T of T or the rollercoaster, so it was a day of Muppets in 3D, the Frozen singalong, and lots and lots of Star Wars.


I particularly loved the pic above after I saw it later. Embiggen and appreciate that the storm troopers appear to be walking in twos from the restrooms, led by what looks to my Catholic school trained eye to be the one they call Sister Death Star.


Delaney and her friend decided they'd meet Kylo Ren together.


This was NOT like getting an autograph from a Disney Princess! But they were brave!


They know how to use the Force:


Note that Kylo Ren looks suitably intimidated and baffled by the tiny Jedi.

The Frozen singalong was hilarious. The premise is that the two "official historians of Arrendelle" share the story and introduce song clips for singing along. We saw this a couple of years ago and it as cute, but in a safe, little kid Disney way. Yesterday's Official Historians were freaking hilarious: "Oh, they DIED! Like Bambi's mom and Simba's parents and...he rattled off a half dozen other "dead parent scenarios" from classic Disney movies until the grownups in the audience were howling and applauding, when he turned on us, "You people are CLAPPING FOR THIS??" Their commentary was like that. Nothing off-color at all of course, this is Disney, but their act was packed with sly not-so-innocent humor. They were awesome. I had to dig a tissue out of my purse to wipe my running mascara, and my daughter reached over to ask for one. Delaney didn't appreciate it much. She was sitting next to me and muttered under her breath about how they weren't respecting Queen Elsa. Queen Elsa appears at the end and freezes the room, and "snow" falls on everyone, and it's absolutely a blast. Another one of those kid things that, if you saw and liked the Frozen movie, you can do without a small child. It's a big theater, nobody will ever notice. ;-)

Today I went to IKEA alone - my daughter wasn't feeling it after a long hot day at Disney. I wasn't really either, but was determined to fulfill my urges for a few small items. I skipped the main floor entirely and used the double door cut-through to housewares. I bought a teapot, a glass carafe with a silicone seal that I hope will work for transporting iced tea or coffee concentrate to the office, new cheap cork coasters, a roll of lovely floral gift wrap on clearance for .99, some cookies, half a dozen cute .49 tealight holders, and my big purchase of the day: a really cool adjustable desk lamp I just had to have.

That teapot - it's this one is just what I wanted. I want to, as the wise philosopher Kermit the Frog said in the commercials, Be More Tea. I love tea and prefer it over coffee, but I drink coffee on weekday mornings for two reasons: 1) massive caffeine infusion standing by, all I need to do is pour; and 2) Mr. Coffee has it ready when I roll out of bed around 5:20-ish. Tea requires attention. You can make a ritual out of coffee, to be sure - you can grind your beans and fuss over your water quality, and you will get a much more special cup of coffee. Not that I would notice the difference at 5:20 a.m., when my zombie brain is just staggering toward the smell, moaning, "Coffee..."

Tea, OTOH, requires your presence, or at least your attention, which is usually not too focused at o-dark-thirty. Tea has to be timed, you can't just pour water over the bag and walk away and whatever happens, happens, like they do on TV in the US. What usually happens when you do that is a nasty bitter mess. One of the things that drives me slightly crazy about TV and movie staging is that they've taught people that it's okay to leave the teabag in the cup while drinking! Now, it is okay for some types of tea - herbal teas don't usually care - but if you leave a "regular" tea bag in your cup you will end up with "stewed" tea that's as bitter and nasty as a Trump voter's soul, and not at all the way the tea is supposed to taste. Not to mention that adding milk or sweetener to a cup with a tea bag in it is kind of bizarre. But I digress.

So making a decent cup, or pot for that matter, of tea in the morning always feels like too much work to me. And I'm not saying that this new teapot (unlike the ones I already own) will somehow give me the patience to make tea on a work day. I think Mr. Coffee will still be my go-to guy for the magic beverage that keeps me from washing my hair with the body wash, on week days. But on non-working days, yes, I prefer a nice, non-stewed, properly made pot of tea.

This pot needs a tea cozy. Fortunately, I just happen to have a way to make one of those things.

And - this is truly a rare and exciting phenomenon - I've enjoyed a weekend of Disney and an IKEA visit, and I still have - wait for it - TWO MORE DAYS OFF!!!! Whooo!!!

I have no idea what I will do for the next two days! This is almost unheard of luxury in my world.


Saturday, September 03, 2016

Hermine has moved on.

We did get quite a bit of rain and some thunderstorms out of the trailing bands of the storm, but things are drying out today. There is the usual chance of thunderstorms, but if we avoided going anywhere due to the weather forecast we'd never leave our houses for six months of the year.

And of course I'm a total Disney Nut and Star Wars Nerd, so guess what? (I'm betting you can guess.) We're going to go hang out with Chewbacca later today! Grandma has already put the Chase Disney card in her wallet so I can get everybody in to the cardholder Star Wars meet and greet, if we have time. And we will finally do the Toy Story Midway Mania ride, which is a new experience for me. It's one of those super-popular attractions that's hard to get into and the fast passes are booked far in advance. And the Indiana Jones stunt show! I'm assuming we'll stay for the fireworks too, because my daughter is even more obsessed than I.

It's Labor Day weekend and I have given myself the treat of an extra day off. I'm taking four, count 'em, four days off, something I haven't done since I started this job last October! And then I drove to AVL and back, which was lots of fun but hardly relaxing. These four days are MINE. Disney and IKEA and othewise lolling around doing not jack shit for four days. Yup. That is my plan.

The IKEA trip is dual-purpose: I need to pick up a few cheap kitchen items, and we are going to plan the big girl redecoration of Delaney's room. She will be five next month, and she has tons of toys she never plays with and will no doubt get tons more at her party, so Mommy and Daddy and Grandma are going to give her something more practical for her birthday: a new bed frame and a more grownup looking bedroom, and more books. (I think Grandma may have to throw in a nightstand with a good reading lamp to put beside that big girl bed, just because.) So tomorrow or Monday we will take Delaney on a reconnaissance mission: lunch and a pre-shop of big girl bedroom decor. I truly love to decorate, though my passion is severely impaired by a chronic lack of money. Enter IKEA - we can put together (heh heh) a functional bedroom for a few hundred bucks. That and a trip to Home Depot for a gallon or two of paint and her room will be transformed into something that should work for her through elementary school. Because we are all facing the reality: they are never moving out of that house. The Reluctant Landlady is resigned to her fate. ;-)