Courtesy of our local "vintage TV" station, our evenings are spent watching Star Trek from 8:00 to 10:00. First, the original series, and then Star Trek The Next Generation. Our kids have become huge fans of both shows as well as the recent movie. This strip is a result of actual conversations in front of the TV :-)
A couple of years ago, I resolved to get into shape. It wasn't that I was terribly overweight, it was just that the pounds that used to creep on and off with the cycle of life began to creep on a little more frequently. And they weren't leaving.
I wasn't in a position to join a gym but I had an old exercise bike in the basement and a great neighborhood to walk in so I took the plunge. Very quickly I discovered I had a problem.
I was bored.
Bored, bored, bored.
So I decided that what I needed to get me moving and keep me moving was an ipod. I figured if I had something to listen to while I worked out all would be spiffy.
And it might have been, except then two things happened. The exercise bike decided it now went only one speed - and it wasn't a good one - and winter hit. At first I tried pedaling my now tension free bike like mad but I could tell I wasn't really getting anywhere. I also bravely went out in the cold weather and walked around the neighborhood a couple of times. A fall on an icy unshoveled sidewalk put a stop to that.
So I put the ipod to the use for which all such devices are really intended anyway.
I used it to play solitaire.
More pounds crept on.
This state of things continued for a while and then, luckily, two things changed again. First, I realized I drove by an indoor walking track every day. A track to which I, as adjunct faculty at the college housing that track, had access to.
Free is good.
Secondly, my sister came to visit and brought her ipod playlist with her. This was important because it contained a large amount of Irish music.
Up until this point, despite my Welsh/Scots/Irish antecedents, I am afraid my main acquaintance with Irish music was a song by Dennis Leary called "Traditional Irish Drinking Song". (I am unable to find a video of Dennis performing this himself - I saw him do it on Letterman and it was hilarious.) So there was obviously going to be a learning curve here.
I started with the Chieftains. Everyone should start with the Chieftains. They have a lot of great up tempo jigs and reels and some of them even have funny lyrics.
I moved on to music by "The Celtic Women". I have no idea who these women are. I suppose that, true to the title, they are a number of women who are Celtic. But I quickly ruled them out for exercising. Beautiful stuff but not really rousing.
Then I came to the music of Bill Whelan.
Bill Whelan is the composer behind the music that swept the country by storm as the backdrop for Riverdance. When I realized this, I promptly fast forwarded past it because I now remembered that I had another previous acquaintance with Irish music and that was Riverdance. And, by the time it had stopped showing on PBS every pledge drive, I had had enough of Riverdance.
But this was a mistake. Because, removed from the trappings of the Riverdance machine, this is some great music. And much of it is incredibly up tempo and just right for walking around and around in circles on an indoor walking track. The two best tunes I have found for this purpose are "Reel Around The Sun" and "Countess Cathleen".
So I got myself into gear and made it a point to walk at least 3 days a week for 30 minutes.
Almost immediately I noticed a difference. I didn't lose twenty pounds in a twinkling, but I noticed a difference. Along with being good for walking, the music was starting to alter my mood.
Like many folks I have a busy life. A life so busy and full of the needs and demands of other people that I often feel overwhelmed and a little depressed. Not clinically depressed but the sort of depressed that makes many days seem daunting right from the outset.
Walking to this music was starting to make my days go more smoothly. I had more energy for one thing. But, and I think this is really important, I had more optimism.
I'm sure the energy partly comes from being physically active and endorphins and stuff like that. But the optimism really seems to be tied to the Irish music. When I listen to other types of music, even good up tempo rock music, I don't get the same feeling. A feeling that I am ready to tackle my day and conquer it. A feeling we could probably all use a big dose of these days.
Of course, there are some side effects.
I now frequently find myself wishing for a pub, a pint, and a rollicking good group of people to dance crazily with.
I have an unaccountable urge to run up and bite the Queen of England on the leg.
And it feels right to drive about 15 mph over the speed limit.
That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
I don't know if you've spent a lot of time in the greeting card aisle lately, but something odd is going on.
I first noticed it last year when I was trying to pick out a nice anniversary card for John.
(I know, I know, artistic types like John and I are supposed to be whipping up beautiful homemade cards for each other - as I stated in a previous post, "Like we don't have enough to do.")
As I cruised through all the cards marked "Husband" I was having a tough time finding a nice one. Because so many of the cards had a sentiment like this "I know we haven't always had our fairytale ending, but we're still together and I love you anyway."
I know you think I'm kidding but I'm not. Card after card said something similar. Then I found the cards that had about 6 paragraphs about true love - not expressing that this woman feels that her husband is her true love - simply stating the fact that, if you're lucky enough to find it, it's really, really wonderful. After reading all the previous cards, these cards now had the aura of faking it.
So I decided to check out the "Wife" cards and see if there was a similar trend.
All those cards went on and on about "I can't imagine my life without you" or "You complete me". "I'm the luckiest man in the world."
I can only deduce that there are a whole lot of crabby women out there who, for some reason, feel they could have done better, and a whole lot of men who feel at least they lucked out and someone said yes.
Or else there are a bunch of crabby women trying to send their husbands a message and a bunch of men just telling their wives what they want to hear.
Or else there is just one crabby woman writing all the cards and she is saying what she thinks everyone should be saying.
I forgot about it until the other day when I tried to find a nice Valentine and ran into the same thing all over again.
It's too late for you to check this theory on Valentines because at 12:01 on the dot all the Valentine cards were spirited away to be replaced with Easter cards (I know this because of the year I forgot to get a card and thought "No biggie, I'll just grab one tomorrow" - Ha!)
But, next time you're in the store, swing on over and check out the anniversary cards and let me know what you find.
In the meantime, I guess I'm back to making my own cards :-)
This is our cat.
He gets a medal for taking all the abuse our youngest has doled out. We got him as a kitten when she was only a year old so they have grown up together. He has withstood being used as a pillow (frequently), carried upside down, sideways, backwards, by his neck, you name it. He has submitted to being dressed up in her doll clothes on numerous occasions - I never thought you could get a cat to wear a hat and keep it on for more than 10 seconds. It can be done.
He also thinks he's a dog. For years he chased our terrier around the house and yard. Now the terrier is too old to run but the cat keeps the border collie busy by letting her think he's a sheep and herding him.
He's a champion hunter - not only has he saved us from the yearly mouse migration into our house (every October they come, bags packed, full of decorating ideas for the new space), he has also taken out about 10 squirrels. This is important as the squirrels declared war on us 8 years ago and began eating through various wooden bits of our house.
He has also been expensive. To date, the regular yearly vet bills notwithstanding, there have also been the bills to sew his nose back together (fight with something - maybe a racoon) and the bill to have his jaw wired back together along with other injuries sustained when he was hit by a car in front of our house. (We live on a residential street with a speed limit of 25 mph - apparently this translates to 55 mph if you're late getting the kids to school.)
But today was the kicker.
Today he ate my contacts.
As in my contact lenses.
Yes, you heard right, the cat ate my contact lenses - the $50 a pair ones.
Lately he has developed a craving for saline contact solution. At first it was just annoying as both my son and I have had to lock him out of the bathroom while we put in our lenses. He jumps up on the sink and starts licking the saline right out of the lens case (which means I have to add to my busy day the act of boiling my lens case to disinfect it - I'm not sure how many kinds of germs live in a cat's mouth at any given time but I'd bet it's a lot).
Well today he ramped it up. I apparently had not screwed the case covers on tight enough and the cat actually knocked the case off the sink, got the covers off, and licked the case clean - contacts and all. I mean, it's like he had a plan.
I have no intention of subsidizing a diet of contact lenses so my son and I are going to have to develop a security protocol for the storage of all things contact related.
Like I don't have enough to do.