Monday, August 25, 2008

First Day Of School

About a week ago, I was looking out the window from my little office here in my house. There is an enormous maple across the street, and it kind of marks the seasons for me. In this case, the season is autumn, and even though it was 88 degrees, the maple knew what was coming. Just there, on one side of its massive girth of green leaves, the yellowish-red edges of a dozen or so leaves let me know: Get ready, honey, because it's getting here faster than you think -- the first day of school.

What is it about that first day of school? Here I am, nearly 50, and I still feel that panic: Do I have the right kind of notebook? Did I study for the test? Granted, I have a rising sixth grader to bring that panic home to me. But still, I'm marked for life with my own latent version of first-day-of-school-itis. Come Labor Day, I will have bought a nice new notebook of my own, along with a box of pencils. I'll tell myself that this stuff is for the workshop. I know the real truth: I'm still making sure that Ms. Runkle won't call me out for forgetting to bring whatever it was I DID forget to bring to her class in 1971.

At least I'm not worried about who my teacher will be or who I'll hang out with on the playground at recess. I think. I will miss sleeping in, though. And making s'mores in the microwave. (Summer staples here.) Who wouldn't?

Friday, August 15, 2008

You Know Nothink. Nothink!

Yesterday, Steve, our new aquarium guru, came by the help me figure out why our chiller is on the fritz, our refugium (will explain that later) is full of red algae, and the protein skimmer isn't making that nice, cruddy shaving cream-like bubbles like it's supposed to.

This is my world, people. I have been transformed into a tank head. An aquarium geek. Someone who, when eyeing the dark storm clouds on the horizon does not think: Must close the windows. No, I think: Lord God, don't let the lights go out for more than two hours, because then I will have to drag the 500 lb. generator out of the shed and crank up that bad boy, spewing gas fumes and neighbor-infuriating-high decibels. When the power goes out and the water pump can't circulate oxygen-rich water, it's that or stand on a chair next the the aquarium and stir the water with my arm to keep the fish alive. (This I have actually done. For hours.)

For years, I balked at the tank care stuff. Wasn't this my husband's hobby???? (Even wrote an article about it.) But I've changed my tune and have taken on the marine nuts and bolts full bore. This transpired for two reasons. Reason One: My husband was leaving town soon for the Democratic Convention (what I like to call the National Satanic Suit & Hat Convention.) Reason Two: The aquarium equipment only breaks down when he is out of town -- far, far out of town. Until now I would just ignore the aquarium equipment until whatever inevitable disaster landed. But this year, rather than wait until the main water pump seized up or the aquarium started making this sound like a strangled toilet running ALL DAY AND NIGHT and then having to make my hysterical call our former "tank guy" who would string me along for days and overcharge me to boot, I did something kinda of evolved, and smart even.

I found my own tank guy. And that guy is Steve from the Tropical Lagoon in Silver Spring. He came over. He explained about 8 different things I didn't know (and needed to) about my aquarium just on the way downstairs to the pump room. He figured out why the water chiller was never going off and was super heating our basement, stoking my nightmares that it would burst into flames. And he adjusted a light timer so the refugium -- an aquarium filled with crud-eating plants that naturally clean water -- actually worked. "Just reverse the timing of the lights, and that should fix your plants up just fine." He showed me how moving one little tube about a half inch higher would make the protein skimmer -- a neato contraption that cleans the water by making bubbles that literally lift the nasty gunk out of the saltwater -- actually skim.

And what's really sick is that now I am actually into this stuff. I'm all gotta get over to the store to get that new salt gauge and filter thingie. Heck, if I can do this, installing those solar panels on the roof -- to pay for all the power the aquarium uses -- should be a cinch.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Bull In A Yoga Studio

So, I've been taking this Saturday morning yoga class. (Okay, I've only gone twice.) If I can get myself there at 8AM, by the time it's all over at 9AM, I am feeling pretty good. In between is another story.

Imagine the quiet yoga room, the vaguely alter-culture-world music (sung in a Tibetan dialect unknown outside of the small valley where it is spoken), the neatly arranged mats. Six women follow the measured instructions of the teacher. Five of them fold smoothly into human pretzels and unfold with their butts in the air in downward dog, still as majestic as ever. Their breath is even, hardly above a whisper. These women look cool and relaxed, as though they took a bath in baby powder before class, and not even a sudden appearance of Katrina would dampen them in the least.

And then, there is me.

I am wringing wet -- even when it's the still meditative part of class . My tee-shirt -- which I've been mopping my face with -- is blotchy and bedraggled. My breathing sounds more like someone running a 10K than a swami engaged in an asana. And I must continually remind myself: Breath, breath. Hey you, breath! I mix my right side up with my left. I can't figure out how to get my foot to go over there, any there. I sweat even more.

But at the end of it all, as I stumble gratefully toward my car, I feel better - actually really good. And, I think, I might even be able to walk home from yoga class (only about a mile) -- maybe in about a year. Still, some things may never be achieved. Like me in a a white yoga-tard for instance. (Look on the cover of the Kripalu Yoga Center's catalogue and you will see what I am talking about -- a whole series of yoga divas wearing white yoga-tards, smiling, with their heads, hands, and feet in places I have to turn the catalogue around just to figure out.) White-yoga-tardness will never be achieved by me, at least in this lifetime. I am accepting that as my own little act of humble acceptance.

Breath, breath. Hey you! Breath!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Feeling Sporely

Ever since my son came home from the Apple Store with the game called Spore, our home has been a stomping ground for fantastic creatures. Spore is an easy, fun animation software that allows you to create critters-from-another-planet. They move, run, dance, have mating calls (and babies), and have their own personalities.

With some instruction, I managed to make my own Spore. I call him Aviamph, because he can swim and fly.