Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Cure for Indoor Torture

I hate sweating indoors. I hate the humid, steaming cloud that develops around my face as I sweat indoors. No, I detest sweating indoors. I ABHOR sweating indoors.

But I’m kind of stuck with it. Ever since the knee injury, I haven’t been able to run. I can’t run until I develop really good supporting muscles around my knee, and even then, on the advice of my doctor, the pounding of running is not really good for my joints.

So I swam. But since this is a Third Third story, soon my shoulder started hurting. I took to hiking (with trekking poles to reduce pressure on my knee), but I can only manage hiking one mountain a week (if that). There isn’t enough snow for cross-country skiing yet, so flab grew, pounds appeared, and pants and bras got tighter. And, as we all know, life expectancy diminished and odds of dementia increased. Meanwhile, worrying about all that increased my cortisol levels. Soon I’d be a goner. A depressed goner.

There was no way around it: I had to go sweat in the athletic club.

I could give the elliptical machine a try. It resembled running in an odd, loping, incongruous sort of way, and it wouldn’t pound my knees. Plus it would do my arms.

I picked a machine, checked the TV screens in front of it. My choices were football, NASCAR races, and more football. I put the little foamy covers on the earpieces of the headset and tried to turn on the channel and volume. It didn’t work. I peeled the foamy covers off and moved to another machine, where I put the little foamy covers on, and that didn’t work, either. Not to mention I had to stare at the guys around me to see how the headset is supposed to sit on my head. Upside down?

“You have to pedal to turn the sound on,” one guy said.

Okay. While I was trying to figure out my “options” (weight and age? What kind of options are those?), the machine told me to “Pedal faster.” So I pedaled while I fiddled with dials. I’d aim for 30 minutes of NASCAR.



I tried playing games with myself: Don’t look at the time remaining until the next commercial.

27:58 Does that count as “making it to 27” or is it really still mostly 28?

27:26 Oh, this is excruciating! My eyes wandered to every other television in the room. By the time I got back to my TV, the cars were still going round and round. There was a moment of excitement because a piece of lint got stuck in front of a brake air vent or something and somehow the pit crew cleared it while the car was still racing around.

26:01 Wow, that piece of lint was worth a minute and a half of distraction!

Eventually the steam started coming off my body. I was breathing sweaty air! I was breathing everyone else’s sweaty air! I had to think about something else – NASCAR had to get more interesting – or I was going to have a panic attack from insufficient fresh air.
Eventually – because time moves on, even on an elliptical, even when it’s torture – I got to 0 minutes remaining. And then, I actually went back another day. It happened to be a weekday at 3 pm.

Jeopardy was on! I watched and answered (or rather asked the questions), and when Alex Trebek took a break, I looked at my remaining time: 15 minutes! Time had flown! It was miraculous! I knew the words were from Australia’s national anthem, that Cervantes had written Don Quixote, and that antidote and anecdote were often mixed up.

I still sweated and breathed sweaty air, but I didn’t notice.

Now I even go a little earlier to make sure I get the foamy earpiece covers on in time. Tim asked if I go to the gym to watch Jeopardy. No, I go to the gym to exercise … but I’m only happy when Jeopardy is on. I once was stuck with a CSI or an NCIS or an SUV or whatever, but it didn’t make time fly as much as Jeopardy. Jeopardy exercises my brain, too!

My whole life, I always equated watching daytime TV with sickness or depression or degeneracy. With being a slug. Now, in my Third Third, daytime TV is making me fit. Ha!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

The Quest for New-ness #4

The quest for New Things is always a win – for variety, for newness – but the exact result of the quest sometimes yields a few duds. Recently, I’ve scored two clear wins, but the jury is still out on the dud.

They all came from classes at Anchorage Community House, my new go-to place of learning and doing New Things. The other things I’ve made there have been wood projects, but the class description for Indigo Dyeing said, “Create beautiful indigo creations using the shibori dyeing technique.”

In class, we took our fabric and folded it, tied it, clothes-pinned it. Basically, we made a tight little wad so that when it sat in the indigo dye bath, we’d leave the marks of where dye absorbed and where it didn’t. Yes – shades of tie-dying! – that’s shibori.

This was a clear success. I think I’ll cut my bluish indigo-ish fabric into squares and make a quilt, but that’s a project for another day … or year.
While we were busy dyeing indigo, Meg told us of another Community House offering: Bundle Dyed Scarves. What I got out of this one was that we’d roll flowers and vegetables up in cloth and make patterns. This sounded sufficiently goofy and fun and useful – right up my alley.

Yup, we rolled rose petals and leaves and eucalyptus and flowers and bugs in silk. (The bugs are from cochineal insects which produce the crimson color. I first met them when visiting weavers in Peru.) Then we wound the silk around tin cans or sticks and tied it on really, really tightly. Then we stuck the bundle in boiling cabbage water.

Finally, our dye bath was over, and this one, too, was a great success. An artistic, silk, loop scarf will challenge my usual schtunk attire, but it’s soft and pretty … and can always make a nice gift.
So now we get to my last New Thing class:

“Learn to make bags out of plastic grocery bags. These bags are EXTRA sturdy and hold lots of weight. It’s easy. Just bring a scissors, a crochet hook the size of your pinky, and patience.”

What really amazed me was that everyone in the class brought their own Bags of Bags. We all have Bags of Bags … along with Boxes of Boxes and Containers of Containers. Even using cloth shopping bags, plastic bags accumulate. We were supposed to slice our plastic bags into strips, loop them together, and make “plarn,” plastic yarn. This class was a decluttering/recycling opportunity!

My only experience with crocheting was a Brownie project when I was little. I would ride my bike to Mrs. Goodhartz’s house for help crocheting Pierre the Poodle. Every trip, Mrs. Goodhartz would say, “My, my, these stitches are so very tight.” They were SO TIGHT they were impenetrable. If Pierre had ever been finished, he would have been airtight.

But this time, I was armed with a crochet hook the size of my thumb!

A crochet hook the size of one’s thumb is no protection against tight stitches. My thumb nail hurts from trying to pull stitches off the crochet hook. When I come around a row, things are so tight and jam-packed that it’s hard to tell what exactly qualifies as a stitch. Peggy, who took the class with me, said I must be adding stitches: instead of going up, my shopping bag is going out. I am making a plastic rug.
Mimi, who also took the class, said this sort of project would drive her mother crazy. Her mother doesn’t get quilting (“Why cut fabric up only to sew it together?”) so the idea of slicing plastic bags in order to crochet them together to make another plastic bag would strike her as ludicrous. I’m starting to agree.

I had to take a break for my thumb nail, cuticle, and spirit to recover, but then I cut my thumb slicing an onion. After bleeding on my plastic bag, things have ground to a halt.

In my Third Third, I get to abandon projects that aggravate more than they please. Maybe I’ll recycle my crocheted plastic and call it a draw. Then I’ll sit and re-admire my indigo-dyed fabric and flower-dyed silk.

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