Monday, April 22, 2013

Reading Frenzy

      I'm one of those rabid reader people. I start to jones when I'm getting near the end of a book that I'm enjoying. I'll read the thing like a woman possessed, but as the last chapters come into view I'll slow waaaayyy down to prolong the agony of being...finished.  When I finally muster the courage to read the last chapter, I will savor each word in each sentence. After I read the last line,  I'll place the book down on the table and try to imagine how I'm going to carry on.  My body will feel like an empty husk, my wan expression will bear evidence of the sadness deep in my soul.  It's over. It's the same feeling that I used to have as I went to bed on Christmas night when I was a little kid. Remember that? The build up for Christmas is so psycho-amazing when you're little. Between the cookie decorating, tree decorating, candles with colored light bulbs in each window, and the presents? Christmas is like a little kid crack party.  And then it's all over. The next day is just another day. It's not special. It's Dec. 26. Big whoop. The decorations lose their sparkle, the tree looks limp. You get it.  That's how I feel after I finish a really good book. Sad, like I'll never find a book to read that is that good again. It's a wonder that I'm not in therapy.

  I have a Kindle, but after the first couple of months the novelty of reading a clinical paragraphs on a grey tablet the size of a large index card wore off.  Call me old fashioned, but I'm a library book person.  Our local library in Millbrook kinda sucks. The librarians are all prudish older women, with permanent parsimonious expressions stamped on their faces. They basically exude an air of disapproval. Of what? I don't know the answer, maybe it's just life in general, enjoyment, puppies and chocolate. There is one nerdy young dude who is now working at the library. He's just what you're picturing in your head. Tall, geeky, clunky dark framed glasses (of course!), wears tight sweaters and has a prominent adam's apple.  I can see him at the guidance counselor's office as a junior in high school, tapping a pencil on his Battlestar Galactica trapper keeper saying in an excited high nasal voice, "I'm really interested in becoming a librarian!", while the guidance counselor suppresses a yawn and replies, "Of course you are, Steven."
Selecting a book at the library is like playing the lottery. I try to limit myself to three books at a time, four at the most. My standard method for selection is to read the title, open the jacket, read a bit of the blurb on the inside cover and scan the first page.  For me it's either in, or out. I'm not into cheesy romances, or period pieces about war, or dragons, or women clad in corsets and bustles. I like real, fleshed out characters, good description and a story that will hook me in so deeply that while I'm reading it I'll forget that I have clothes that need folding in the dryer and nineteen other things that need doing while I'm sitting on my ass with my nose in a book.

 This morning I finished what I considered to be a very excellent novel. It's called, "Truth in Advertising" by John Kenney, a first time novelist. The writing is as smooth as glass. The story is sweet and sad, but not schmaltzy. The main character was wry, smart and quick witted and you love him, feel sorry for him, want to take him out for a drink. I want more of him. I miss him already. When I read John Updike's "Rabbit, run" series of four novels about an ordinary man from PA named Harry Angstrom, nicknamed Rabbit, there was security that Harry would have some longevity. This was to be a long term relationship and by the end of the last book, "Rabbit at Rest", you were wistful, but ready to let him go. He'd run his course. Harry wasn't the best guy in the world for a multitude of reasons, but in the end you still like him and even though he smoked for years, drank too much and ate pounds of greasy food, you're still sad that he dies of a heart attack at the end.

  I have one more book to read out of my current library stack of three. However, I need a few hours before I'm ready to start it. I'm not over the mourning period of finishing the last one. I need a little space. Some closure. Time for deep reflection.  I may light some candles and chant. Don't worry, I'll find the strength to carry on and read again. I always do.

Friday, April 12, 2013

A robot vacuum, who knew??!!!

  For his birthday this year, Jonathan's parents gave him a present that has revolutionized both of our lives.  It's a robotic vacuum cleaner aptly named the "Neato".  No bigger than the average bathroom scale, this clever little unit zooms around the house methodically clearing our floors of dog hair, cat hair, dirt, sticks and whatever other bits of detritus has accumulated over the course of the day.  It has a memory so it knows where its been and it even knows when the battery is getting low and it returns itself to its port, which is based in our living room.  This machine is amazing. First of all, it does a great job. Our rugs have never looked better. Second of all, it is very thorough and though it doesn't move the dining room chairs to get under the table perfectly, I'm not complaining. I haven't taken out the Dyson is two weeks, and the floors look like they could be eaten off of (though I wouldn't advise it in my house).  Third of all, its programmed to vacuum every day while we're out in the barn so when we come back to the house it's like the Vacuum Fairy has been there. The damn thing cleans under our bed AND under the living room sofa. How many times have you gone to look for a lost shoe, sock etc. and gotten on your knees to take a peek under these two pieces of furniture and risen in disgust at the amount of "stuff" under there.  Please tell me that its not just my house that has hosted giant dust bunny parties under the bed and sofa. I believe we've had entire dust bunny conventions in my house. Any time we've moved I've always shrieked in horror at the things that were hiding under the furniture, which hadn't been disturbed since it was last moved into position.  I can happily say, that will never happen in my home again. I'll even push the sofa aside next time my mom comes to visit just so I can show off how pristine the carpet is under there.

  Sometimes we happen to be inside the house on a break while the Neato is working its magic. The Neato has sensors on it so it doesn't ever bump into us, or the cats, or dogs if any of us are in the way of its path. I was a little concerned when I saw it hurtling across the carpet towards my very deaf cat, Miss Girl, but it politely veered away from her allowing her to continue on with her bath, undisturbed.  My boy cat, Zeke (who is very bored this time of year since he's been waiting for spring to come so he can get out of the house and eat moles again) has taken it upon himself to challenge the Neato. He likes to walk by it while it's working and give it cold stare and puff his body up, while he cruises by on his tippy toes, like Fred Flintsone at the bowling alley.  Jonathan noticed him doing this threatening drive by last week, and I've seen it a couple of times.  Cats are so ridiculous, especially Big Zekie. He's such a badass. The Neato gives him a respectable berth when it goes by and I think Zeke feels he's gotten the requisite respect he deserves from it. Win/win. The only member of our household who really doesn't enjoy the Neato, is our big merle Aussie, Remy.  He's a sensitive sort and has never been fond of the vacuum, or the blower we use to clean the aisle in the barn. He doesn't care for electronic beeps that come from the TV when we're picking a show from Netflix.  And now a motorized moving, humming robot that seems to go everywhere in the house, therefore making no where safe. Poor Remy.  He seeks solace, laying by my feet, eyes wary as the robot passes through the room. I tell him it's okay, but I know he doesn't trust this vacuuming robot freak. It's unnatural. And it is. Unnatural. I like to think it's supernatural! It means we always have clean floors. I will never again wince when I have to bring someone up to our house, thinking "Oh my heavens, the floors are SO dirty!", because they aren't dirty. They are fabulously clean!! Happy Birthday Jonathan!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Working it Out!!

     I just realized that I've skipped blogging for the entire month of March. Why? Because March was HORRIBLE! Cold, windy, grey and basically an extension of winter 2013, which is unfair to say the least. I'm going to stop my whining right here. March is over and done and despite the fact that April hasn't started out much better, the upcoming forecasted temperatures look acceptable for this time of year. I can live with any day over 50 degrees. My expectations have been lowered and a sunny day, with no wind, over 50 will do just fine. Okay, weather bitching is now officially done.

 Now onto the meat of this blog, which is that I've started going to a gym to workout. It's the first time in my life that I've been compelled to exercise beyond my daily mucking stalls, throwing hay bales, lifting grain bags, wrangling horses and riding.  That might sound like a fair amount of physical daily exercise to most folks, but considering I've done this job for the last 20+ years my body is a virtual robot and I can do these chores with one arm tied behind my back, albeit my very sore, aching, seized up back.  I realized around mid-February that I was getting up out of a chair bent over like a 80 year old grandma, and my middle resembled the Pillsbury Dough Boy. I have thin legs, so during the winter of wearing ten layers, no one ever thinks I look pudgy, but the mirror doesn't lie and my stomach was in sad shape. We're going to a wedding in the Dominican Republic in the beginning of May, and I was starting to panic at the thought of exposing my lilly white, whale belly in a bikini. It became time to DO something about my decrepit, chubby state. So, off to the gym I skipped, or rather limped like quasi-modo.  The gym I chose is a tad run down, but it has all the requisite machines and weight equipment. And it was cheap as hell to join. Perfect. The manager is kind of creepy, but I don't care. He spends most of his time on his cell phone, sitting around in a tacky, leather Yankees jacket, with a "lid" on his head and reeks of cigarettes. I always give him a cheerful "Good Morning" as I scan my card and leave it at that. I decided early on that I was going to abandon my gregarious nature when I was doing my workouts. No eye contact, no smiles, I would be The Terminator in the gym, a workout zombie. I'm sticking to it. I'm a workout beyotch. Every day I put in my earbuds attached to the iPod, set it on some groovy tunes and set forth to work up a sweat by torturing myself on the elliptical machine, treadmill, weights, etc. I mix it up and I'm learning as I go what works best for my body and how far I need to push myself without making myself horribly crippled. The scary thing is that I really f'ing like it!! My back has never felt better, no joke. For the first time in years I don't feel like the Tin Man in need of a good dose of oil. This was a welcome side effect that I wasn't anticipating. My core has a ways to go, but already after one month, my stomach muscles are visibly tighter and I'm getting in shape. I have a waist! And the muffin top is smaller! Hallelujah!! I just may be able to brave the beach in the D.R. without sucking it in so hard that I pass out taking my first sip of a rum punch.

  I go to the gym around 8-9 a.m. and though I don't engage in conversation with the other patrons, don't kid yourself, I watch EVERYTHING. It's all done on the sly, because staring at the gym is a total no-no. One of the rooms has a solid wall of mirrors and it's tempting to get stuck looking at other people (especially for a serial voyeur, like myself).  Getting busted staring is the kiss of death. I learned the hard way and now I've devised some quick glances that go unnoticed, just fast peeks then back to making it look like I'm training for a marathon, like a serious athlete (ha ha ha ha ha!). I'll never run a marathon, in fact if I run for 15 minutes on the treadmill, I look like a bleary eyed co-ed who just woke up from a two day bender. It helps that most of the other gym folks that I see are in the 60+ age group. I give these guys and gals a lot of credit. A few of them could potentially kick my ass. One guy does weights like no one I've ever seen. He's a total freak. Covered in sweat, he goes from machine to machine, huffing and puffing, lifting and groaning. He's an animal! Another older dude gets on the elliptical machine and pumps so hard that I fear the thing will take flight.  I swear this gym must have 911 on speed dial, but these folks are there almost every day and I haven't seen an ambulance, yet. I take a day off every fifth day, since I do have a business to run and I have to attend to certain duties beyond my own vanity. I know, boring, but it's true. So that's what I've been up to for the last month. Getting older doesn't have to suck, or mean that we have to surrender to letting ourselves go. Vain jackasses, like me, can pay to punish themselves on a daily basis. Whoo hoo! Off to mix myself a martini now...I don't want you to think I've TOTALLY lost my mind, or that this blog has been hijacked by some kind of health nut. No, it's still me, the martini floozy, just in a bit better shape, getting down with her bad self, while she secretly watches old folks swing their flab. Hey, don't judge, I could be spending the hour I work out stalking people on FB while eating pancakes!