When the week began, I felt a bit like this snow sculpture. Once a cheerful friend I passed on my daily walks, it has been slowly disappearing through a few thaws and refreezes; its jaunty top hat is now missing and its carrot nose and banana smile are half buried in the no-longer fresh snow.
There was no particular reason for my gloominess. It was, as Downton Abbey’s Dowager Countess of Grantham Violet Crawley (aka Maggie Smith) said of parenthood: “the on- and on-ness of it.”
No matter how much we have adapted to the way we now live; no matter how much we understand it is necessary; no matter how well we do at finding new pleasures in our diminished circumstances, the fact remains that there is such a sameness to each day that trying to remember whether it is Monday, Thursday or Sunday can be a challenge.
How to lift myself out of this zone of on- and on-ness? Fortunately for me, last weekend was the birthday of a close friend, and she asked me to MC her Zoom party.
We encouraged guests to wear costumes, at least from the neck up; we provided a recipe for a special birthday cocktail, and I organized a modest toast/roast for the guest of honour, who was also the costume judge. I suspect everyone was feeling similarly in need of a bit of silliness, and the costuming, some of which was pretty spectacular, provided an outlet for us. There were some funny speeches and some more serious ones and a spontaneous Zoom version of “Happy Birthday” that instantly established why none of us make a living out of singing. For an hour, we feted the birthday star and got caught up with one another, many of us not having been in touch for almost a year, and I think we all left the Zoom feeling a little less isolated.
The first few weeks of the year are rife with birthdays in my family: six of them in as many weeks. With family dinners off the table for now, we have had makeshift celebrations: driveway gift drop-offs, phone calls, online cards and promises of festivities to come later.
A few weeks ago, I made a chocolate chip cookie cake for our youngest grandson’s seventh birthday celebration, which I delivered, but didn’t stick around to enjoy. Happily for me, I received an enthusiastic two thumbs up from him (and didn’t have to eat the concoction myself).
It was my son’s birthday yesterday. I delivered some homemade curry powder and his favourite dessert – key lime pie – to him and then we went for a long walk on his farm. It was a mild and sunny day that gave us a glorious way to spend some time together.
Left neck stretching straightly
The really cold weather coupled with a few slips on icy sidewalks and paths led my partner and me to consider the need for indoor exercise possibilities. We decided on a stationary bicycle and, thanks to my daughter’s partner who loves to look for bargains, had one within a week.
Assembly was relatively straightforward – or so I am told: I am not the assembler in our household — and we were in cycling business by early this week.
The bike is set up in the basement, which — other than our periodic walk-throughs to do laundry, grab a bottle of wine or clean her litter box — our cat considers to be her exclusive territory. She has been signalling her displeasure for not having been consulted before we made this change to her space by giving me a fierce and unwavering glare each time I get on the bike.
Secret pleasure of the bike: I can catch up on the really trashy TV shows I don’t like to admit to watching.
The instruction manual for the bike included a page of “Sports Advice and Guideline.” It was immediately obvious upon reading the first sentence that it had been written in another language and translated, possibly through several other languages, before landing in a strange form of English. The user is encouraged to begin their exercise time with some warm-up movement, followed by aerobic exercise on the bike and ending with leisurely movement.
I am especially keen to find my left neck, which is required for one of the exercises, and to change to “another foot” as though I have several from which to choose.
Give one of these a try if you need to limber up this week:
“Right hand hold up the wall, keep body balance, the left hand manual back lift the left foot, make the left foot heel do best close to buttocks.”
“Sit down, right foot unbend, left foot bend, left hand hold ankle inside pull, make the left foot do best close body and the sole of feet close to inside of right thigh, than body down press, left and right spread to touch the tiptoe, more big down press range more better, then change to left foot.”
Who says exercising can’t be fun?