26 January 2009

This isn't exactly covered in the Miss Manners books...

And charm school didn't prepare me, either.

My hairdresser is dying.  He has been battling cancer for a long time now, more than a couple of years.  All along, he's been battling the beast, not letting it get the best of him.  Surgeries, radiation, chemo, hair loss, all of it hasn't stopped him from working or doing anything else he wants to do.  But he's getting tired; I can tell.

He's been my hairdresser for about 10 years.  I've gone from mousy brown to blonde to a sort-of conglomeration of red, blonde, and a shade a few shades darker than my natural color, from long to super-short hair with him.  He came to my parent's house on my wedding day and made sure that the braids didn't slip away from my veil.  He's a part of the family, and not just to me.  He is like a second father to my middle sister.  She worked for him all through her undergrad years, lived in buildings he owned, worked for his friends.  He does my mother's hair too.

When I went to see him before Christmas, to get a trim before I went to Florida, he was moving slower than he had been.  I asked if we needed to touch up my color; "Probably," he said, "but I'm just not up to it today.  Is it OK to wait until you come back?"  Sure, I told him.  

This is a guy that I've watched put up drywall, hang an entire art show, move furniture, till a garden.  When I went for my color touch-up, he sat in a chair that he could raise and lower to put the color on my head, and he used it again to trim my hair.  Mixing the dyes was an exhausting effort for him.

I don't know what to do.  And saying that is just patently stupid, because I can't do a damn thing about him dying.  I can't change that.  He isn't a young guy; in his mid-70s doesn't mean he's old, either.  Until last week, I'd never seen him move like an old person.  It is breaking my heart.

Many times when I've spoken to my sister over the past year I've told her that I didn't think he was doing well, that I thought he wasn't telling anyone the full spectrum of what was going on, that she needed to make time to see him when she came "home" to Ohio.  She tells me she will, and then doesn't.  Surprisingly, that doesn't make me angry, it just makes me hurt all that much more, because when he does pass away, she's going to be in such pain.  We grieve for the loss of someone when they die, but we grieve more for the loss of the relationship, that we can't just call them, or pop by for a cuppa whenever we're in the neighborhood.

Like anyone else with a terminal illness, he know's he's dying, and like everyone else, I don't think he knows what to do about it, either.  

I hugged him when I left the salon on Saturday; that's not unusual, I'm a touchy/feely huggy sort of person.  What was unsual is I told him I'm worried about him; he smiled, and said, "I get by."

I'm not so sure I will without him.

25 January 2009


Zumba.  The Latin-dance based aerobics workout.  I joined a new gym, one that costs - no joke - TEN TIMES LESS than my old gym, and they offer Zumba several times a week, at widely varying times.  At my old gym, they offered Zumba, too, but the new gym changes its schedule of classes about once a quarter, so if there's something you want to try, chances are that it will eventually end up in a time slot that works for you.  My old gym kept the same schedule all the time.  There are pros and cons to both methods...so far in 2009, I can't really get to any of the yoga classes I want, because they're at times that are highly inconvenient to me; but at the end of last year, there were two that worked well in my world.

I despise old-school areobics.  With a passion.  Step - hate.  Cardio-kick - hate.  Jazzercise - hate.  But I keep trying new classes in the hope that something will be fun, something will be one I'd like to stick with.  This attitude is what got me into a BOSU class - -which looked like such fun.  In the end, I hated it, but at least I gave it a shot.  (More than once, just in case you're wondering.  Three times.  The first one was the only class EVER I have considered walking out of in the middle of the class, just packing up my shiz and leaving.  Ugh.)

I was late to Zumba (shocker), but the tardiness was due to confusion at the door over my membership card.  Hopefully that mess is straightened out.  I walked into a dance studio full of 23 year-olds, mostly skinny ones.  Can I tell you that I'm glad for the death of the leotard for exercise classes?  That Jane Fonda/Oliva Newton John look of leotard, tights, socks, sneakers, and sometimes legwarmers?  Ugh, I hated that.  So at least the 23 year-old skinny bitches aren't one-upping each other with skimpier and skimpier outfits.  Mostly t-shirts and leggings, the sort of thing I myself wear to work out.

At first blush, the class was filled with cute young things, but as I looked around, I saw several other women in my age bracket and older, and I relaxed a little.  I also noticed that I'm not the only one who gets off-track from the instructor.  (I have 3 left feet!)  I might have been the only one in the room who had never done this before, though, because it seemed like everyone else had the moves mostly down. 

Ten minutes into it, gasping for breath, knees killing me, sweating profusely, I was wondering what the hell I had been thinking, wanting to do this.  But then the music stopped, and everyone grabbed water or just vegged for a few seconds until the next song came on, and it was slower.  I kept catching my reflection in the mirror through the next sequence; and wonder of wonders, every time I saw my reflection, I was smiling.  I was *gasp* having fun.  Astonishing.  Don't get me wrong, I was still watching the clock, like I have in every single exercise class I've ever taken, except for Pilates.  

But I enjoyed it enough to want to go back, I'm even looking forward to it.  Even though 3 days later I was STILL sore.  Damn, who knew that dancing was such a workout?

17 January 2009

Ladies and Gents, welcome to 2009

This is a storytelling post.  Unfortunately, unlike the other storytelling posts, this story has no end.  Yet.

Laundry might be the bane of my existence.  It is never, ever, ever done.  If things are running along swimmingly (which, um, when, exactly does that happen?) I would start a load of laundry in the morning, allowing it to run mostly while I'm at work, because it is loud, and obnoxious.  That load would be tossed in the dryer when I got home, and folded before I went to bed.  Then, there would not be what the Fly Lady calls  "Mt Wash-More."

Instead, what actually happens is I manage to wash about 3 loads a week, and the clean clothes get tossed on the couch in the living room, and I fold them on Saturdays, catching up with whatever is left over then, too.

One weeknight last week, I came home and took off my coat, hat, scarf.  Have I mentioned lately that it is bloody freezing?  Anyway, I turned away from the closet, and I noticed that a sock had fallen off of the couch.  It makes the house look even messier than really is, and bothers my OCD-urge to have everything put in its place, even when its current place is not where it really  belongs.  So I walked over and picked up the sock, and that, my friends, is where the true trouble began.  Because that innocent black sock was soaking wet.  Not damp from the dryer being out of order, but soaking wet, dripping wet.   From the ceiling above, a drip, drip, drip from a crack we had repaired before we moved into this house.   Dammit.  There went my planned evening of a few glasses of sangria, dinner at a nearby Mexican place, folding the laundry, and going to bed.

Following the trail of water across the ceiling led us upstairs to our bedroom, which is the largest room in the house.  The wall in question had a desk up against it, and we pulled that back to discover a patch of damp drywall, damp enough to push our hands through to the insulation behind.

DH, once upon a time, was a firefighter and had to pull walls down searching for any errant flames, so he attacked the wall and pulled out insulation that was dripping wet, just like my sock.  Bugger.

We pulled off about a 3 square foot area of  that drywall, and discovered a hell of a mess.  Behind the soaking wet insulation was not a pretty picture.  I know almost nothing about construction, so my terminology may be inaccurate, but sometimes that's the way it goes.  The studs that frame the house are covered with a composite material, which looks like particle board.  I know, I know, it is not particle board,  rather, it is an insulating material that is between the pink fiberglass insulation INSIDE the house and the aluminum siding, OUTSIDE the house.  The wall joins up with my neighbor's section of our duplex and creates a 90 degree angle very close to where we ripped all that wet drywall off.  With a flashlight, we took a peek at that angle, and discovered a wall of ice between the aluminum siding and the particle board stuff.  You can reach into it, run your hand up and down that ice wall.  

What I don't know about construction could fill a library full of novels, but I do know that ice shouldn't really be *behind* the aluminum siding.  We had a contractor come the next day, someone we have worked with in the past, so we trust him.  

I have no idea what he did to fix it.

The ice, however, remains a problem, because it is still there.  Whatever contractor J did, it was to keep more water from coming into the house.  The ice that is already there has to go out the same way it came it; via the path of least resistance, and as liquid.  Which means that we will be cleaning up water for quite some time to come. 


In the meantime, two rooms of my house are torn up, furniture shoved away from its usual spots, and, while not quite the hassle and expense that the leak has caused, something that adds little bit of fuel to this already messy fire.....

My laundry still isn't done.

12 January 2009

Traits of Strangers

DH and I were out to breakfast when someone at a table adjacent to us asked if we'd managed to score tickets to the hottest event in town.  No, I told him.  Even if we'd been interested in the event (and we're not) we wouldn't have purchased tickets.  Much too expensive.  He and DH discussed it for a few seconds, I went back to reading the paper.

After the man left, DH raised his eyebrows and asked me if I had ever randomly struck up a conversation with someone in a restaurant.  Being an extrovert, talkative, and wildly curious, (ummm....read that nosy) of course I have.  

People-watching is a sport, one I thoroughly enjoy.  When I've noticed that someone is people-watching me, I usually just allow it, ignoring whomever it is.

I was out at a coffee hangout with a small group of fiber-fanatic friends for an evening of knitting and networking (also otherwise known as gossiping) and I noticed a woman in a nearby chair watching us.  We're loud, opinionated, have a very good time together, and, I imagine,  a great deal of fun to watch.

My birthday just passed, and since I hadn't seen my friends before my big day, they had presents for me.  Lovely presents were opened, and our observer giggled right along with us as I laughed over the choices my friends had made for me.  A knitting book I'd wanted, but been too cheap to spend the money on.  A pound of coffee with a vanity label, hysterically funny.  Stitch markers from Hide & Sheep, a company whose name amuses me to no end.

When the presents were put away and the needles pulled out, she gave up pretending that she wasn't paying attention to us and asked outright what we were doing.  We invited her to pull up a chair and give the knitting a shot, and she did.  

We proudly showed off our individual projects, talked about how each of us had learned to knit, showed her things we'd made that we happened to be wearing.  As we talked, we discovered a kindred spirit.  Someone whose political leanings were in our direction, whose sense of humor mirrored our twisted own.  What began as an evening of just our little insular group grew by one, and the evening was richer for the experience.

We exchanged telephone numbers and e-mail addresses when the baristas looked like they were going to kill us if we stayed for just one more minute, inviting her to join our knitting group that meets monthly.  Oh, she said, there are more of you?  Laughingly, we explained that we're just a clique of the larger group, and that not everyone is as cool as we are.  Or so we think, legends in our own minds that we are.

I kept thinking, though, about how even the most extroverted of us don't usually walk up to a group of boisterous strangers and ask to join in.   And even the most friendly of us might not be receptive to someone "barging in" to a gathering of friends.

I'm glad she did.  I'm glad we were.  And I hope she comes to our larger monthly gathering.  Time will tell.

06 January 2009

On Keeping Yer Fat Yap Shut. Or....not.

It is a fine line I walk between over-sharing (hello, mental illness) and keeping myself from being too personal, writing about things that I probably shouldn't.


When something good happens, I want to shout it from the rooftops, even when I maybe shouldn't.  When something is sucking in my life, writing about it is cathartic for me, even therapeutic.  It is very difficult for me to just not dump it all out in a verbal barrage of often meaningless drivel.

(Hi, interweb, BTW.  I sorta missed you while I was away, and sorta didn't, too.  Being back to my usual routine is good.  Being back in the freezing-ass-cold north is *not* good.)

This time around, it is a good thing that I want to over-share about.  A great thing.  A wonderful honor and amazing opportunity, and I. Can't. Talk. About. It.  And of, course, I'm dying to.  Urgh.

Shall we talk about the news instead?  We shall.  The topic du jour upsetting me:

The Israel/Palestinian conflict.  Or, should I say, the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  There is no "right" side to this, IMESHO.  That said, it really bothers me on many levels that Israel is working hard to unseat a democratically elected government.  Like Hamas, don't like Hamas (and I don't) they are the party that was elected in free and fair elections by the Palestinian people.  Where do you get off bleating about "democracy" if you are working to get rid of a democratically elected government?  Regime Change begins at home, people.

I have been watching with much fascination the various cabinet appointments of President-Elect Obama.  An interesting distinction between the Idiot Administration and Obama....daily press conferences.  What a concept!!!  Government operating without stonewalling.  Wow.  I say watching with fascination because it seems to me that he is choosing moderates, across the board.  Not the super-radical liberal nuts that I think many on the opposite side of the aisle feared.  I don't envy the work that the incoming administration has in front of them; fixing the economy is one huge m-effing job.

Oh, and of course, I can't close the post without mentioning my perennial bitch, the weather.  It is January in Ohio.  Bleh!!!  Cold, overcast, and with the added delight of freezing rain today, I'm so glad to have a roof over my head, warm slippers on my feet, and a warm bed to crawl into.  I miss the Florida sunshine already.