Monday, January 24, 2011

OMG IIC (it is cold)!

During the Christmas freeze of 1983 in Texas, we thawed the pipes at my mother's house with blow torches and hair dryers, a necessary step for restoring the luxury of running water. When we returned home, there was a broken pipe in the attic and major damage at my rental unit.

27 years later, I'm sharing another chilly experience with my extended family, who thought moving to the edge of the Tundra in New Jersey was a fine idea that July when they left Texas. Today though, at -8F when we awoke, it's a bit nippy.

The first hint of a problem came when I couldn't get hot water to wash my face.  The house has a circulating hot water heating system, and yes, it did seem a bit chilly inside too.  The heating oil has jelled, not flowing to the furnace, and as the day has progressed, we can see our breath inside the house.  And once again, the hair dryer came out. I didn't have to man the hairdryer this time. Lucky for me, my niece grew up to be a TRUE WOMAN who went outside without me to try to warm the oil lines. Not that the attempt was successful. She called the fuel people. They'll be here some day, and then we will take a bath again and go back to wearing our indoor clothes.

Everyone on the street has fireplace smoke curling from their snow covered roofs. We don't have a fireplace, but there is a chiminea on the deck....maybe we'll bring that indoors and roast some marshmallows. Nancy's busy making steaming chicken and dumplings and the teapot is going. Jennifer has found a plug for the space heater in her office that won't blow the circuits, and that's where I plan to stay for the foreseeable future.

The finches are feeding outside the window. They don't seem to mind the cold. With Birds of New Jersey in hand to confirm the sightings, so far I've seen the golden finch, the house finch (he's red), the tufted titmouse and the red bellied woodpecker visit the feeder. Out in the evergreen fir a redbird is pecking the snow. 

I've got on most of my layers and a fleece blanket wrapped around me. If the inside temp continues to drop, I can always put on my ski pants and jacket. High of 18 today. Perhaps sledding another day. Back home, I hear it is hailing.  I think I prefer cold....maybe.....

Friday, January 21, 2011

Over and over

The other day, doing squats, I got to wondering about stats.  So roughly, since the beginning of October, three days a week I have done 60 squats of varying styles.  So, you do the, I'll do it, because I find the answer amazing.  3,420 squats.  That's how you start climbing stairs again.

Then, there's the leg press.  That's a squat with weights.  200 of those each workout means 11,400 leg presses.  I am beginning to feel quad muscles.

The big yay! of January was the 18th, when I added another step to my front step-ups.  And a few days ago, I decided to get on the treadmill.  I am not walking the same on both legs, a slightly shorter gait on the right, which causes compensating body whining somewhere, so what better lab to force my legs to move the same?

Onward!  New goals.  There's a brick wall in a park nearby.  I should be able to step up on to it.  My mind says do it.  I send the message to my legs.  Nothing happens.  I'm working on that.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The cobbler's bedside manner

Today I took shoes in for repair.  Same little place, same Mr. Kadinsky, same cluttered workshop, same smell of glue, same customer service.

"I glue.  No guarantee."

I haven't worn those shoes for a while, but they are my only pair of Cole Hahns, and it's winter.  I could use a closed toe shoe that used to fit.

"$5 each".  

"Plus tax".

"Pay now."

In the old days, he used to insist I pick up my shoes the next day.  That's because, in his old shop, abandoned shoes were groaning on every shelf.  Then he solved his problem by collecting up front. Now he has no shoes for sale, just a few assorted handbags hanging on pegs by the carts overflowing with tools, cans of paint, bottles of unlabeled liquid.

I pulled out a $20, starting digging for coins, eyeing the cups of change on the edge of his cluttered desk.  He followed my gaze.

"No problem.  I give you $9 back."

My mind starting doing the math.  Sales tax, 8.25%.  That 82.5 cents.  He's shorting me 20 cents and making it sound like I'm getting a deal.  I considered pointing this out to him, thought the better of it. I like those shoes.  He filled out the claim check.

The next morning I remembered another pair of shoes that needed repair.  I took in the broken one.

"Never bring just one shoe."

"The other one is not broken."

" I fix and clean up, not look the same."


"One shoe, $8."  He didn't mention the tax this time.

"Are my other shoes ready?"

"What shoes?"

"I was here yesterday, remember?"

"I don't remember yesterday."

Later in the day, I found the match to the second shoe and dropped it by.  This time there was recognition in his eyes.


I sat.

I've known him for years.  I knew this was his way of saying my shoes were ready.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


It has been four months since my knee surgery and three since I started working out with my trainer.  When I look in the mirror, I see muscles.  When other people look at me, they can see all the room for improvement that still exists. But I can't do that and stay motivated, so I press on with a vision of Rachel McLish in my mind's eye view of myself.

When I first started using the leg press at the manly man's gym, Hanks, I could barely lift the weight of the machine.  Lisa my trainer said I was probably pushing 50 pounds.  Then came the day I said I was ready for some weights.   Give me five more pounds, I said.  I had visions of the 12 inch diameter three inch thick 50 pound discs all the other women were pressing.  She walked over with two 3 inch diameter 1/4 inch thick discs and clinked them on.  The visual effect was more humbling than pushing no weight at all.

Lisa's initial rehab workout for my knee included daily straight leg raises, all four directions.  I started with lifting just my own leg weight and progressed to ankle weights.  Week by week, I added another weight to my 5 pound set.  Finally, all my weights were loaded, and I put a 10 pound set on my Christmas wishlist.  I was feeling pretty pumped.  Then I discovered Carl's 5 pound ankle weights in the closet, and I said, well, why not just put both sets on instead of buying a new one.  I took Carl's weights to the gym.  Lisa picked them up and got a puzzled look on her face.  She turned and walked away with them.  When she returned, she reported that she had weighed both his and mine.  Carl's were 5 lbs.  Mine were 2 1/2 pounds.  Oh my Gosh.  I had spent three months building up to just 2 1/2 pounds.  Humble Pie a la mode for me.

I've always considered myself a strong woman.   Kamikaze gardener, farm girl, woman of power.  Then I sat next to a 5 foot woman on the abductor adductor machines.  I set the weight at 85 lbs, proud of my progress since starting at 40.  We both finished our sets and switched machines. She raised my 85 to 160.  Abashed, I lowered her 160 to 85.

I've got a solution for the next time I sit next to her.  I'm going to set the weights at 200 when I finish my set.

Humble Beginnings

Today I started my professional writer blog.   It's very modest, since I have decided to only post things that have been published.  Two things.  But that's two more than a year ago.  The link on the right will take you there.