Thursday, April 28, 2011

Physical Fitness Update

You may be surprised to hear that I've actually kept up pretty well with my exercise class commitment. I've missed a few here and there, but tried to make up for it by jumping on an elliptical or stationary bike. Good news is, my pooch hasn't gotten any bigger. Looking forward to the weather improving so we can take yoga class outside.

And speaking of most impressive accomplishment? I did a headstand! I haven't done a headstand since Sunnyside gymnastics in 6th grade.

Monday was the last "ballet" class since Lindsay is deserting us to instruct water aerobics, which I will happily watch while the girls are taking their swim lesson. I can report that my gracefulness factor raised exactly zero points and I still felt like a heffelump during the actual dance portion, but I think my bar work improved. Maybe? I did get yelled at for not having my leg high enough this last time.

So I need to find another class, but in the meantime, Lindsay also started teaching a cycle class at the same time as Turbokick and has been trying to lure me away. Since I'm no more graceful in Turbokick than ballet, cycling does sound like a more appealing option.

The first time I was going to go, Zoe decided not to take a nap that day. And when she doesn't take a nap, she turns back into Devil's Spawn, which I don't feel is appropriate to subject the nice girls at Kid's Club to.

The second time I was going to go, I walked in and Lindsay wasn't there, so I grabbed a towel and walked back out to join Turbo (recall my fear of new things). Turns out she was in Columbus that day, running with some nut that runs across the United States and yelling at the governor's wife. She might be partially related to Scott.

Last night was try number three...

I pulled a bike out and that's about as far as I could get on my own. So she came over and showed me where to position the seat and how to change the gears and such. I probably should have been paying a little more attention to that part but I was too busy fearing this mechanical marvel and wondering if anyone had ever fallen off one in class.

It is for this reason that when we started climbing first thing (meaning out of the seat, standing on the pedals) I may have had my gear a smidge too high for my level of experience. I think it was supposed to be a three minute climb and I made it about 20 seconds before having to sit down, wondering what the hell was wrong with me.

Considering it was a 55 minute class and I already can't breathe, have turned beat red, and have sweat pouring off me; I'm contemplating the humiliation of stopping after 30 minutes...if I could even make it that long.

But then I began realizing that my problem was I had no clue what gear I should have started at. (Disclaimer: She did say something about beginners being between 4-7, but when she was telling the class to gear up, I was thinking that meant exponentially. My bad.) By the time I hit the 30 minute mark, I had come to some sort of epiphany and knew I could push through for the full 55. Thank god.

So how do I feel?

Anticipating it getting worse during the day, but for the moment it's merely the vague inclination that my legs weigh 100 pounds a piece. I might think it was worse if my crotch didn't hurt so damn bad. I mean really...they can invent an iPhone but not a comfortable bike seat that doesn't make wish you could spend the entire next day standing? And this is coming from a girl who has spent at least a third of her life riding horses.

I'm probably going to find out I was sitting wrong or something, and it's my own damn fault, but for the moment I'll blame it on the bike.

Wondering if I could go raid a maternity ward for their miracle ice pads to put in my underwear.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Starz "Camelot" vs. HBO "Game of Thones"

I’m in fantasy heaven while Starz and HBO battle it out to capture the same audience. The following contains a lot of spoilers so if you had any intention of watching these, you've been warned.

In Summary
Camelot is loosely based on the rise of King Arthur and is historically accurate for the period and geography, regardless of whether Arthur himself is fact or fiction. On the other hand, both Merlin and Morgan practice sorcery. So in that regard, it is still of the "fantasy" genre.

Game of Thrones is based on a fictional world which looks almost identical to medieval times but seems to have a large variety of cultures (though mostly British accents) within an unfathomably limited square mile area and some zombie-like creatures on the attack.

Gore Factor
Camelot has had a lot of death, but not a huge amount of bloodshed with two notable exceptions. One of these exceptions is King Lot spearing Sir Ector in the gut and Ector walking forward on the spear, plunging it deeper and deeper until he gets close enough to Lot that he pulls a dagger out and stabs him the back. Best. Death. Ever.

Game of Thrones seems to favor decapitation, which just appears way too fake for me. Not that I've witnessed any decapitations in my life. It could very well look like that for all I know.

Winner: Camelot (if you're going to kill people make it look real)

Incest Themes
You would think that Camelot would have this wrapped up with the whole Morgan and Arthur relationship (they are half-siblings, but in the legends have a child together through a mistake of "enchantments"). But Game of Thrones stepped it up a notch when 10-year-old Bran comes across the Queen getting it from her twin brother. But wait there's more...because certainly that's not shocking enough...they also threw in some weird thing going on with an exiled Lord and his sister that he is selling off to a warlord to get his aide in winning back his throne. Sweet.

Winner: Camelot (I prefer my incest a little less overt)

Regular Old Sex
Speaking of sex, you can't have a show on HBO or Starz without it. Often. And I find myself saying that Starz has been almost tasteful in it's nudity in Camelot. The makers of Spartacus: Blood and Sand. Shocking, yes? But if it's gratuitous boobies you want, turn right on over to Game of Thrones because there is plenty to go around for all of HBO, Showtime and Cinemax combined. Some of it just doesn't even make sense, but maybe that's just because I'm not as fascinated with bouncing orbs of fatty tissue...or silicon.

Winner: Camelot (because I'll take Leontes’ ass over 1000 prostitutes’ boobs any day)

Didn't think I was going to get to this, did you? So Camelot had a wealth of material to turn to from classical literature to modern fantasy, which they are clearly choosing to ignore. And though the average viewer probably doesn't give a crap, I would like...just for doesn't seem too much to ask...for someone to tell the damn thing the way Tennyson or White or (and this is saying a lot for me, because it is mind-numbing) Mallory intended. Just once. If I pretend that this isn't about Arthur and Merlin, but rather too other people with the same's pretty good. And they get two bonus points for doing the two most important scenes justice (pulling the sword from stone and retrieving Excalibur from the "lady in the lake").

Game of Thrones is the first book in a series that I never read, so right away it has that going for it. It's still a little confusing how the kingdoms are connected. Plus, there are multiple story lines to keep track of. But seeing as it is the first episode and I'm already drawn in by a couple of them, I anticipate them coming together more by the next episode. Particularly, the exiled princess Daenerys that was married off to some savage, the obviously honorable Stark household and their dire wolves (particularly the young tomboy daughter), and just who the hell these zombie things are.

Winner: Game of Thrones (clearly I'm biased)

I do not like the kid they got to play Arthur. He has not grown on me. At all. Compounded by the fact that they aren't making his character very sympathetic at the moment does not go over well with me. Joseph Fiennes as Merlin leaves me hot and cold. When he's being sarcastic, I like him. When he's being crazy sorcerer guy, he's over the top. Not thrilled with Gawain who I really want to like so maybe he's the one that will grow on me. I do like Kay, Gwynovere and Morgan. And the one person I shouldn't like (because he doesn't exist in the legend) ended up my favorite character - Leontes (and not because of his butt). He does an excellent job as the king's champion and recruiter of knights. Of course, if they end up revealing that his real name is Lancelot, I will give up the show in total because that is just wrong.

This is what I have come to expect from HBO. Even when I don't like the shows that much, they do an excellent job casting. Sean Bean (Lord of the Rings, Troy, The Lightning Thief) is the perfect choice to center this around. And while I have a great dislike for many of the characters, I'm pretty sure that is intended and a sign that they are being played brilliantly. (From what I can tell in one episode.)

Winner: Game of Thrones (I am having a tough time getting past my Arthur fixation)

Game of Thrones (but I'll keep watching Camelot until they piss me off with the Lancelot thing)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Clocks, Trains, and Pekingese

No this isn’t one of my normal ramblings…this is a Memorial to my Great Uncle Speed. Great in all aspects of the word.

AMHERST – Ludolf "Speed" Norman Kreeger, Jr., 87 years of age, and a resident of Amherst, passed away Tuesday, April 12, 2011 at New Life Hospice Residential Center in Lorain following a lengthy illness.
He was born November 7, 1923 in Amherst, Ohio. Ludolf was a lifetime resident of Amherst and graduated from Central High School in the class of 1943.
Ludolf served in the United States Army during World War II with the 8th Infantry in the European African Middle Eastern theater. During his service in Germany, he was awarded the Purple Heart medal.
He was employed as a sheet metal worker for over thirty-five years at A. Nabowkowski, D.L. Page Inc. and then T.O. Murphy before retiring in 1985. Ludolf was a member of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Amherst.
He was a member of the Lorain DAV Louis Paul Proy Disables American Veterans #20 and the Lorain Amvets.
Ludolf was a gifted craftsman and enjoyed making wood clocks and calendars. Ludolf was an avid college football fan, especially of Ohio State University.
Survivors include his wife of sixty-four years Evelyn "Ev" Yvonne Kreeger (nee: Kirschner); his beloved dog Bandit a Shitzu; many nieces and nephews and many great nieces and great nephews.
He was preceded in death by his sisters Connie Turner, Betty Kreeger, Sally Loch; and by his parents Ludolf, Sr. and Candace Kreeger (nee: Werner).

Uncle Speed and Aunt Evi didn’t have any children of their own, but to our branch of the Kirschner clan (Aunt Evi being my grandfather’s youngest sister), they are loved as dearly as parents and grandparents.

Growing up, one of my favorite treats was spending the night at their house. To them, I am “Annie” and they taught me how to play Chinese checkers and quizzed me on state capitals. We always ran out for “frozen custard” even though it looked like soft ice cream to me. And at the end of the night they pulled out the sleeper sofa in the great room and I had a whole king-sized bed to myself.

After I graduated and took a short-term gig delivering mail (Yes, I was a postal worker. Explains a lot, doesn’t it?) Whenever I had their route, I ate my lunch with them, listening to Paul Harvey’s “The Rest of the Story.”

Uncle Speed was a big man. Well over 6 feet and much larger than life to a scrawny runt like me. It kind of always felt like he should have been a lumber jack, as I still picture him in a red and black flannel shirt and suspenders. He had a fabulously deep voice, but was always smiling and ready to laugh.

And of course he loved John Wayne. He practically was John Wayne to me. That’s what we watched when my parents would take us over their house for a movie night. And while, I don’t share his and my mother’s passion for The Duke, The Cowboys is one of my favorite westerns of all time; and the first time I saw it was with him.

But maybe what I remember most about him were all the things you wouldn’t expect by looking at him.

While most people remember the fact that he made clocks, what I remember is just how many clocks he had in his house and each and every one of them had a distinct chime. I also suspect that he purposely set them just a little off from one another so they weren’t all singing at the exact same moment. To imagine hands at least three times the size of mine doing all that work is astounding.

He also loved model trains. I don’t remember how many he ended up with, and over the years he put less and less of them up each year until only one stayed out all year long, but when we were younger we made special Christmas visits just to see them. Some of the tracks wound underneath the sitting room sofas. Some were up on tables. I may remember a year when one ran from the front of the house to the back. He was an oversized kid at Christmas time.

And this is a man that should have walked beside German Shepards and Mastiffs but he loved his Pekingese and Shitzus. The first of their dogs I remember were Chin and Choo – two black Pekingese that wore matching red sweaters in the winter time and he taught to do tricks. Over the years, the puppies they brought home could literally fit in the palm of his hand, but there was no gentler person I know.

He’ll be missed, but remembered fondly.

“Sometimes it's hard to understand the drift of things. This was a good boy. He'd have been a good man. He didn't get his chance. Death can come for ya any place, any time. It's never welcomed. But if you've done all you can do, and it's your best, in a way I guess you're ready for it.” – John Wayne as Will Anderson in The Cowboys.

“Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It's perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we've learned something from yesterday.” – John Wayne as himself

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Words I'll Never Say

Disclaimer: This is just a rant...I don't actually hate my neighbor, and by the end of reading this you'll probably think I'm the crazy one, but certain things just get under my skin and fester. In reality, they are pretty nice and often extend the invitation to come over and swim in their pool anytime.

Disclaimer 2: They also keep talking about selling their house, so I promise if one of you moves in next to me, I won't post nasty blogs about you.

Scene: Last fall while cleaning up debris, pruning back landscaping vegetation and otherwise making the yard presentable for the winter dormancy.

Crazy neighbor:
Did you realize your fence is broken?
I noticed the lower rail is pulled away from a couple of the slats when I trimmed our shrubbery back there.
Crazy neighbor:
Well, I wanted to make sure, because I wouldn’t want your kids getting through and falling in the pool or your dog coming over.
Well, the ground is too hard for us to do anything with it right now, but it’s really not big enough for our kids or dog to get through anyway. We appreciate your concern.

On the other hand, your yippy little pain in our ass could easily squeeze through the four to six inches it is pulled away and get chomped into bits by our St. Bernard who (a) can’t see said hole because his is BLIND and (b) has not, in fact, learned how to alter his genetic make up to pass through said hole because he weighs 140 POUNDS.

And it may surprise you to know that we didn’t see that the fence needed repaired because we have actually landscaped our back yard and planted tall privacy grasses next to the fence so we don’t have to look through it and see your crap hole, which may a may not be decorated by an area rug you drug out of your house and draped over your patio furniture two months ago after your dog crapped all over it.

Three Things That Have Me MORE Concerned for the Safety of My Daughters

1. That a gust of wind will pick the peeling paint chips up from your front porch and blow them into their unsuspecting mouths.
2. That they will receive a contact high from the amount of weed your kids (I assume) smoke in your back yard during the summer.
3. That you will run them over while attempting to leave your driveway in a raving lunatic rampage. I’ve seen you go through your own yard, and I don’t think the hedge would be able to stop you for going through ours.

Scene: This weekend while out getting beds ready for new mulch (used to keep weeds down and general aesthetics) by removing old leaves (that blew over from someone who must have inadvertently forgotten to rake their leaves last fall).

Crazy neighbor:
Are you going to be able to get your fence fixed soon? I wouldn’t want the girls to get through and fall into the pool.

Okay, we are going to fix the fence because on the chance that my kids eat crazy pills and decide to bust the rest of the way through, mistake the pool for a solid surface and then forget everything they’ve been taught in swimming lessons and drown, I’d feel pretty damn bad.


(a) It’s not my responsibility to build a fence around your f-ing pool.
(b) You are benefiting from our desire to keep you out of our yard.
(c) We could rip the whole god damn fence down and you couldn’t stop us.

I’ll tell you what. We’ll fix our fence when you grow grass in your front yard – real, actual grass. Not the burnt out mound of dry strands mixed with random clumps of clover and dandelions that has inhabited your landscape since two winters ago. How about that?

God praise Marty Moose! Pass the Tylenol.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I Want To Ride My Bicycle

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Something is broken on my blogger, causing me to actually have to type in the HTML command for all my line breaks. I am not a happy camper.

So of course the one thing that Morgan specifically asked for her birthday was sold out. So of course it now costs three times as much on Amazon...ARRRGGGHHH!

In related news....

Scene: Morgan riding her bike while I push Zoe in the stroller up to Walgreens.
Mommy: You are way too big for that bike now.
Morgan: I know. I need a new bike very soon.
Mommy: Well, maybe Daddy will have to take care of that.
Morgan: He should take care of it for my birthday.

Too smart for her own good.

Incidentally, part of the problem was that Scott had lowered the seat so Zoe could sit on it in the driveway, so it wasn't as bad as a I thought.

On Saturday, Scott hunted around for a new bike. Came away with a very cool, very girlie Schwinn cruiser, but left it in the care of Performance Bike to put training wheels on it.

On Sunday, I went to pick up the bike and was notified that no training wheels will actually fit this bike. After talking with the guy, he and I agreed that it would be best not to have training wheels anyway, as it would prolong her learning to ride without. She did, after all, teach herself to pogo stick this winter. How much harder could it be to ride a bike?

I suggested to Scott that we let someone else teach her how to ride it (kind of like my friend taught me how to drive, so my dad wouldn't yell at me and my mom wouldn't gasp and brace herself against the dash every five seconds, pumping her imaginary brake). His response was that his dad taught him, so he would teach her. With that kind of "can-do" attitude, I give it 10 minutes before one or both of them is in tears.

It may surprise you to know that I never had training wheels. Me. Well, there was a bike with training wheels in the family. (It was green. It had normal sized tires, but they weren't rubber. They were the same composition as Big Wheel tricycle tires that ended up cracking open so they had duct tape wrapped around them. Duct tape.) But that is not how I learned.

After we had moved to "the country" when I was in third grade, I had no use for a bike. We had a very long driveway, but it was gravel. And we lived on a state route with semi-trucks passing by every 2 minutes, thus I wouldn't have been allowed to ride on the road. So a lot of time passed sans bike.

Suddenly one day...and at first I told Scott junior high, but now I'm thinking maybe it was a little earlier - perhaps fifth grade...Dad came home with a bike. Can't remember where said bike came from, but it could have possibly been a trash picker moment for him. It was also green but had a big black banana seat. It was the 80's, people. What can I say?

Anyway...this is a time in my parent's life when they had yet to accumulate mounds of old furniture and exercise equipment in their basement and we had a relatively large (but industrial) area to play in. And since the chimney went up the center, it was perfectly set up for roller derby.

Charlie and BJ (his best friend) would get on their Huffy bikes and Tina (my best friend) and I would put on roller skates (mine had metal wheels until I grew into Tina's old pair). John would be on his little black trike and we would race in circles as fast as we could.

1. There was a narrow spot in this track where the furnace took up more than half the space, so absolutely only one person could fit through at a time at the record-breaking speeds we were traveling. That's not saying we didn't try many times.

2. At almost the exact same spot, Dad chose to place a gi-normous box of extra heating duct work. I mean this box was almost as tall as I was at the time. Because you don't get rid of extra duct work, you keep it in case you decide to put an addition on your house twenty years later.

Guess where I learned to ride my bike? I got myself into a pretty good rhythm but would occasionally get going a little too fast and since I had no idea how to use the brakes, I would let myself crash into the duct work box instead. Hey, at least I wasn't crashing into the furnace.

The moral of this story, I did not break any bones learning to ride my bike, and I pretty much suck at I have high hopes for our first born.

P.S. Uncle Matt or Uncle Justin should totally be on standby the next time they are home.