Archive for November, 2005

Back to Reality (part two of a series)

(Start from the beginning)

I have to start with sad news. My favorite blog is going on hiatus until the new year. He’s “unplugging.” I don’t know what that means. Isn’t plugging in necessary for life? The internet feeds me! I will miss Nickerblog, but I will patiently (or impatiently) await his return along with the newness of 2006.


This morning was in fact normal again. Too many snoozes, because I’m an idiot and watched the WPT that TiVo had taped for me not realizing that it would be two hours. Don’t make fun of me. I just recently realized I should be TiVoing the WPT when I ran out of WSOP to watch. I’m yawning right now as I type.

As we sat on the sofas and new recliners in Mike’s uncle and aunt’s basement watching the news and making fun of the cat, the yawning began, and it was time to head off to our respective beds. Mike’s mother and sister headed over to her mother’s house in the next town, Mike and I were to have the “blue room,” which has a double bed, and Mike’s father was to have the “yellow room,” which has only a twin bed. Of course, Mike’s father didn’t get that memo, and apparently he also didn’t understand the difference between blue and yellow… so he had put his stuff in the “blue room.”

Upon retrieving the stuff, he managed to ever so gracefully knock down Mike’s aunt’s full length mirror. Seven years bad luck! I was the only one wearing shoes, and so shoed everyone out of the room while I swept up the shards. Mike and his aunt showed up shortly with a vacuum cleaner, and we picked up every speck of sparkle before heading to a blissful (but tremendously terribly freezing cold – Mike’s aunt doesn’t believe in heat, I swear) sleep.

I slept in until 8:00 or so, and looked out the window to see Mike’s uncle’s new truck pulling out of the driveway, gracefully evading Mike’s Element. Mike’s aunt’s car was already absent from the driveway, as she had left early to go run in a 5K. Oh, and did I mention that it was snowing quite heavily? Welcome to New Hampshire!

After a nice warm shower, I peaked into the oven to look at the bird. She looked happy, toasting away in the oven. It was one massive bird, at 22 pounds. I then discovered the newspaper over in the corner by the love seat, so I sat down for a read. Well, it was a read, until I found a Sudoku puzzle. Then I had to find a pen and start puzzling. I solved that and was starting on the crossword before Mike’s dad finally got up. We chatted a bit, read and solved the newspaper, and the family came back together as Mike woke up, his aunt came back from the 5 K, and his mother and sister returned.

Mike’s aunt was coated in melted snow (also known as water), but was still highly upbeat. She had a respectable 32 minute run on packed powder with snow blowing into her face. I don’t understand how someone can be so full of energy!

After a filling breakfast, we started with the cooking for the day. We took turn using the cutting board to chop up squash, apples, potatoes, raw vegetables, cheese, and pepperoni. We caramelized onions for a recipe that Mike’s aunt only knew by name. We laid out shrimp, cheese trays, chips, vegetable trays, and various dips for the football contingent. Eventually the other half of the party, Mike’s aunt’s family, showed up. Much food was eaten while football was watched.

Now that everyone was here, the insanity could begin. Mike’s aunt’s father (they call him Big Luke) is a handful. He’s old, he’s Polish, and he’s a laugh riot. He makes ridiculous demands, while everyone around him just says, “Nope!” He constantly hits on anything with boobs, despite having a girlfriend who treats him very well. She takes it with a high sense of amusement.

By the way, I can make a statement about him being Polish because I am half Polish – my dad’s side. In fact, Big Luke is so much like my Dziadzi was… I can’t explain it. If you have a Polish grandfather, I’m sure you can understand. In other funny news, my dad becomes more like Dziadzi every day…

Soon, the first football game was over, and it was time for turkey. Mike’s uncle carved the turkey under the watchful eye of his wife. Meanwhile, the rest of us took our seats and started passing sides around the table. Big Luke constantly asked if we were ready to say grace and eat. The man was either very hungry or in the mood for religion. In any case, we were finally ready, and he led us in giving thanks for family and food.

We ate and talked and ate and talked and ate and ate and ate. Mike’s aunt’s sister’s dog whimpered quietly while otherwise behaving very well. The food was good, the people were wonderful, and our plates were soon empty of food (or, well, holding various bits of stuff we couldn’t possibly feed ourselves). People quickly disappeared into the living room to continue watching football, while a few of us bagged up enough leftovers to feed a family of four for a week. We joined the football people soon after, and football watching and pie eating continued up until the high point (or low point, depending) of the evening…

November 29th, 2005 • 11:05 am • dinane • Posted in Family, FoodComments Off on Back to Reality (part two of a series)

Back to Reality (part one of a series)

This morning, I woke up at 6:20 Diane Time (actually 5:55 Eastern Standard Time). I then hit snooze, and woke up at 6:29 DT. Then, much to Mike’s likely displeasure, I hit snooze again and woke up at at 6:38 DT. Then, to tempt fate and Mike’s patience with my alarm clock, I hit snooze again and woke up at 6:47 DT. I smacked my alarm clock and got the hell out of bed and into the shower.

Welcome back to normalcy. Welcome back to work. Welcome back to reality.

Okay, maybe it’s not really reality, seeing as I’m currently listening to the “Traditional Christmas” station on LaunchCast. Kate has a strong influence on my love of Christmas. o/” It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Toys in every store! But the prettiest sight to see is the holly that will be on your own front door! o/”

The non-reality of the extra-long weekend started almost normal. I did the 6:20 DT wake up, but with less of the snooze button, on Wednesday and prepared myself mentally and physically for pie day. All the ingredients for five very different pies were lined up on the dining room table waiting for me as I ate some breakfast and turned on the television. The first order of business was pie dough.

Three batches, three dish-washings, and three trips to the refrigerator later, I was in good shape. I started my laundry and sat on the sofa watching some odd day-time television. I left the TV on as I started rolling out the crusts. Unfortunately, however, I had no plastic bags and my make-shift press-and-seal contraptions were not doing it. I nearly had a hissy-fit while trying to roll out the first mass of dough, and ended up throwing that ball back into the fridge and selecting a different one. That one went much better, and was stashed in the freezer while I worked on the second. The second went into the freezer when the first went into the oven to be blind-baked, and this little trip continued around my dining room and kitchen as I stacked up blind baked, completely baked, and completely raw pie crusts around my house. Not for the first time, I thought how awesome it would be to have a real kitchen.

Interlude: Kate would be excited. “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas” is now playing in my headphones.

While Ellen was taking a tour of the smallest apartment in Manhattan (seriously, the single dorm rooms at WPI were bigger than this whole apartment that cost this poor girl $500 a month), I started on the pecan pie filling. Pecan is one of those pies that really baffle me as to how it could possibly work. First, you cook some sugar and corn syrup until it boils. Then you mix in the nuts and flavorings (hissing… lots of hissing…). And then, by some form of magic, beaten eggs just mix right in without becoming sugar-coated scrambled eggs. I just don’t understand the chemistry involved. I guess that’s why I don’t work in a pharmaceutical lab. Oh, that’s probably because I didn’t major in chemical engineering.

I did manage to deal with my laundry and worked on the fillings for the pumpkin and cranappear. This is when tragedy struck. I had mixed the pumpkin filling (also involving some bizarre chemistry) and cut up all the pears and apples. I then poured out the washed cranberries (night-before preparation was awesome) and some sugar into my wok (my biggest pan). I stupidly wasn’t paying any attention (and had even stupidlier set the burner on high), and the next thing I knew, smoke was rising from my wok. I do not recommend burning cranberries. The smell is atrocious.

Kate came to the rescue, however, as she had not left her house yet. She stopped at the grocery store (much to her dismay) and brought me a new bag of cranberries. At least the people in the store were being nice to her because she had only one item. Although apparently some smartass asked her if she was only having cranberries for Thanksgiving.

Once rescue arrived, things went much smoother. The cranappear filling was completed, and both it and the pumpkin were put in the oven. Kate made pudding for the pudding pies while I sliced bananas and whipped cream. She even helped me clean up the disaster that was strewn across the first floor of my house. (When I say house, you should actually know that this is an apartment – a nice one, but still small. My kitchen has about 3 feet of counter space, and my dining room table is a 4 foot round. Also, there is no dining room, just a corner of my living room that has a five-light brass chandelier hanging from the ceiling. Pies were cooling on the coffee table. Pie dough crumbs were everywhere.)

Kate was a life saver (and pie saver!), and I was soon able to go pack my clothes and stuff for the trip. Mike didn’t get out of work quite as early as he had hoped, but he was home before three. We started bringing bags and boxes and pies out to Mike’s Element (yes, he drives an Element – yes, I know they’re ugly – no, you may not make fun of it – it is useful – plus, that’s my job). By some form of magic, we were able to fit all five pies, two small suitcases, a backpack full of PS2 equipment, two bottles of wine, a cooler full of soda, a mini cooler containing the makings for whipped cream, a stuffed animal turkey, and three people into the vehicle.

We and 50 million of our closest friends were soon on the road heading north. Surprisingly, the traffic wasn’t bad, and we only saw the remains of one accident (3-car pile-up, no fatalities, one totaled car). Cell phone discussions of dinner were had amongst cars, how-do-we-get-there conversations were had in our car, and we arrived at the lake.

Mike’s uncle and aunt live on a pretty little lake in southern New Hampshire (I get yelled at for calling it Cow Hampshire, so I’m trying to be nice…). They welcomed us and our pies very kindly. We stashed our stuff in “the blue room” and the pies out on the back porch. Friendly conversation was then had as we waited for Mike’s parents to arrive. When they finally came, the conversation got louder and more excitable, and Kate, Mike’s mom, and I tried valiantly to get everyone to agree on a place to order dinner from. Finally, we chose some subs, and the three of us went to pick them up.

Kate and I were salivating as we held the sandwiches for the trip back to the house. One carnation instant breakfast with milk, two leftover rolls, three leftover breadsticks, three leftover barbeque wings, and one left over slice of pizza do not make a day’s food for one person, let alone two. We handed out the food, and dove in. Good food and good conversation continued, as it would for the entire weekend…

November 28th, 2005 • 12:02 pm • dinane • Posted in Family, FoodComments Off on Back to Reality (part one of a series)

Preperations for Pie Day

No, I do not call Thanksgiving “Pie Day.” Nor do I call it “Turkey Day” – at least not any more. Thanksgiving is Thanksgiving. Tomorrow, however, is Pie Day. This will not be due to the consumption of pie, but to the baking of pie.

Seeing as I’ve decided to take Wednesday off of work, this week is kind of bizarre. Yesterday was Monday. Today may as well be Friday. As such, I’m having a hard time concentrating. So between yawns and spurts of productivity, I’ve been planning for tomorrow.

Two Thanksgivings ago, there was a miscommunication. I volunteered to make pies to bring up to Mike’s family’s Thanksgiving (my first major holiday with his family). I was told that six pies would be required as the family is full of big pie fans, but that the apple pie was already being taken care of. My brain translated that into “make five pies.” The actual request was “make one pie and we’ll get four other people to each make one pie.” Quick math will tell you that ten pies were at Thanksgiving that year. Quick math would be wrong, as I was not the only person to oversupply the pies. In fact, there were fourteen pies. And fourteen people to eat them.

Last Thanksgiving, the families were alternated, and Mike and I were with my family. Somehow, this information did not get disseminated amongst Mike’s family. My pies were so popular the previous year that everyone just assumed I’d be bringing pies. I was three hours and two states away with my two pies (much better communication amongst the pie-bringers of my family). Mike’s poor family ended up buying the last pie at the supermarket – an apparently flavorless custard pie. No one ate it. Everyone is still bitter.

As alternating goes, this year we’re going back to Mike’s family. So I am once again responsible for pie. Much discussion has occurred and I am fairly certain this time that the apple is taken care of but no others will be there. As such, I will be bringing five pies. And I’m nervous that it won’t be enough pie. These people really love pie.

My pies have been a popular staple of Thanksgivings spanning along the northern east coast for a few years now. I make my crusts from scratch, and I go heavy on the sugar and spice (and everything nice). People love buttery pie crusts and sugary fillings apparently. I find it hilarious, however, that the most complemented pie is in fact the pumpkin pie I make by following the recipe on the back of the One-Pie can. Shhhh… don’t tell!

This year, in addition to “my” famous pumpkin, I will be toting along pecan, banana cream, chocolate cream, and a cranberry-pear-apple concoction. Only one of them has a top crust, but almost all of them (excepting the two pudding pies) have completely different preparation routines. As such, the event from crust manufacture through baking and cooling will take approximately five hours. I love baking and am therefore extremely excited.

The current plan of action is to wake up early and after showering, make up three batches of pie dough (producing six crusts). During the chilling of the dough discs, I will start up my laundry and maybe even clean up some of the house (shocker!). I will then blind bake three crusts – one for each cream pie and one for the pecan. While these bake, I’ll make up the pecan filling, which will go into one of the crusts after blind baking has completed. While this pie finishes its baking procedure and the pudding pie crusts cool, I will move the laundry along and maybe rest a little bit.

Once the pecan is finished and cooling, I will move onto the construction of the cranappear and pumpkin pies. Both of these pies require a two-stage baking process, which thankfully requires the same temperatures. By this point, I am hoping that Kate comes by (she is taking a half day from work). We will simultaneously shape and fill these two pies, and I will get to use my new gadget (actually a Christmas present from last year) which should make a pretty lattice for the covered pie and some neat decorations for the top of the pumpkin. More baking, finishing of laundry, perhaps a second shower, resting, and cooling of pies. By this point, Mike will hopefully be home and we will take off for the New Hampshire non-wilderness.

Why am I telling you all this? Probably because I want to make sure the plan makes sense. Writing it out makes me feel better about it. I’m pretty confident now that I’ll be able to accomplish the pie baking marathon of Pie Day with little difficulty. Now, the only thing I need to do is remember to stop at the grocery store to get the ingredients today.

[Editor’s Note: Dinane will be away Thanksgivinging for the remainder of the week and weekend. You can expect posting to resume on or around the 28th.]

November 22nd, 2005 • 1:05 pm • dinane • Posted in Food, LifeComments Off on Preperations for Pie Day


My birthday was supposed to go something like this:

  1. Work on mindless reviews all day.
  2. Leave quietly at 4:15.
  3. Pick up my employee-discounted product from the warehouse.
  4. Go over to a bar local to work.
  5. Meet up with coworkers.
  6. Wait for departing manager (not mine) to show up.
  7. Yell, “Surprise!”
  8. Thank her for being awesome.
  9. Wish her luck in her new position in another division of the company.
  10. Leave the party early.
  11. Go to church choir.
  12. Sing.
  13. Go home.
  14. Spend maybe an hour or so with Mike.
  15. Collapse.

Well, item 1 happened.

Around 4:00 or so, Kate calls me. “Bruins tickets? Box seats? Company pays? I’m so there.” Organizational things go on, and we decide to meet up at Riverside at 5:30. I calculated that it would take me 45 minutes to get the T station, and decided that left me with barely a half hour to learn everything there is to know about hockey. I failed at that, but did learn that in a fit of irony, I was headed to watch the Bruins take on the Toronto Maple Leafs.

4:30 quickly arrived, and I bolted out the door while putting on my jacket and juggling my purse and other various bits. No time to put on my jacket first! Just like I had done on Monday, I didn’t turn right to leave the industrial complex, but continued straight on to the warehouse to pick up my product. Just like Monday, they didn’t have it. On another day, I might have been frustrated about the situation (seriously – they kept calling me to beg me to get my order out of the warehouse, but it wasn’t ever actually there), but on Thursday, I was flying high.

I waited some obscene number of light cycles to leave the complex, and was finally barreling along the Pike. People who aren’t from New England really don’t have any idea what it is like to drive around Boston. For that matter, many people from New England don’t have any idea because they avoid driving around Boston like the plague that it is. The Mass Pike isn’t even the most insane part of the system – it’s just the part I have more cause to take. If you can’t manage stress while driving, don’t drive around here. Just don’t do it.

Soon, I was paying my toll via the airways and the magic of Fast Lane. I merged slowly, ever so slowly, onto 128 (this is, in fact, the most insane part of the system). I quickly got off at the next exit and within a moment or two I was parking at the Riverside T station. At 5:05. So much for the 45 minutes theory. I always, always, always overestimate the time it will take me to get there from work.

I sat in my car for a while, and eventually decided to call Kate and let her know I had arrived. Turns out she was also obscenely early! So I walked on over to her car and we called Mike. He was not insanely early. He would likely be a couple minutes late due to the insane traffic. But he did come, and we did get our handfuls of quarters from the change machines, and we did board the trolley car, and we were on our way to North Station. Of course, this train only went as far as Government Center… It is not unusual for the green line of the T to be a disaster, so we weren’t exactly surprised.

We arrived at the Gardens (or whatever it’s called these days) pretty uneventfully, and took the short cut through the lines that is allowed to the “Premium” visitors. The word “awesome” applies. Of course, we got slightly lost, and ended up going up about eight thousand flights of stairs to get up to the main concourse. We then took our special escalator up to the promised land – the “Premium” level. Awesome!

We walked around the perimeter of the stadium and quickly found the correct box and opened the door. We were lined up with the blue line, with an awesome view. The box itself was like a small hotel room (sans bed). It had a private bathroom with fancy fixtures, a little kitchenette type thing, a closet, a couple squishy leather chairs, a bar and bar stools facing the ice, and a huge glass sliding door. We ogled everything, and then went out to the seats in front of the glass. These were also squishy leather and each seat had ample room and a cup holder or two. I tried to call my dad. No answer. I left a message.

The waitress (waitress!) came by and opened the glass doors all the way (we didn’t realize they opened all the way!). She asked if she could get us anything, and Kate asked her to come back later after the rest of the group had arrived. As we waited for them and for the game to start, Mike discovered that one of the three television screens (three!) was actually an interactive system. Using the touch screen, you could dynamically select the camera angle, pick out a replay, and read all kinds of statistics right from the “Premium” box. It was super-cool-awesome-neat.

Eventually the other two groups came. One was five people from a department Kate doesn’t work with (no customers) and the other was three people from Kate’s department (also no customers). Given that Kate was somehow the highest ranking of the three employees, she was in charge of ordering food and putting it on her company credit card (!). The employee attached to the group of five didn’t think they should do that, and was kind of a bitch about it. Kate, meanwhile, had been sat down by her boss before she left for the game, and he told her she could spend like $300 on food for the 11 of us. We got together with the group of three (which consisted of employee, husband, and cute-as-a-button [why are buttons supposedly so cute?] 7-year-old who was wearing a Bruins sweater), and picked out a pizza and some fancy nacho dip thing, along with some beers.

The food arrived very quickly, and it was pretty darn good. We settled in at the bar, allowing the families to spread out in the seats below. The bar really did offer a great view, along with convenient places to eat from. By about ten minutes into the first period, and the Bruins looked to be doing well. They had significantly more shots on goal than the Maple Leafs, and the puck generally stayed away from their goalie. Sweet. In the second period, the Bruins finally scored. Awesome!

Unfortunately, the third period did not go so well. The half of the stadium that had previously been booing was now cheering relentlessly. See, the Bruins aren’t exactly the most popular sports team in the Boston area. We prefer our Red Sox and our Patriots in most cases. So, the stadium doesn’t sell out. It seems that some Torontonians figured this out, and pulled a reverse on what Mike and I did for our vacation. Anyway, the people in the stadium that were wearing blue and adding “Eh” to the end of their phrases started getting their chance to cheer during the third period as the Leafs came from behind and beat the crap out of the poor Bruins 4-1.

As we rode back to our cars on the T (along with a few sad-but-not-disappointed Bruins fans and a large number of happy-and-chipper Leafs fans), I savored a most exciting birthday.

November 21st, 2005 • 9:43 am • dinane • Posted in Life, SportsComments Off on Thursday++


Kate just called me and subsequently Mike and we’re going to the Bruins game tonight!


November 17th, 2005 • 5:05 pm • dinane • Posted in SportsComments Off on NEAT!

The Kindergarten Fast Track

I played with glue and scissors and ribbons and fake flowers on Tuesday! Yes, that’s right, arts and crafts! I love arts and crafts. I wish I was actually good at them, but really, I’ve just got a bit of a proficiency at using a glue gun. I can tie mediocre bows, I can’t cut fabric to save my life, and I have a hard time picturing something when I try to make it. But that glue gun – I’ve got that skill down pat.

The past couple Tuesdays, Mike’s sister Kate and I have been going to church to make arts and crafts projects for the church Christmas Faire. (Speaking of which – if you want to go to the Christmas Faire, it’s on December 3rd pretty much all day. Ask me for directions.) We showed up this week with several bags of goodies.


After the football game on Sunday, Kate and I took off for her favorite place on Earth. I’d ask you to guess, but unless you know her, you’d probably have a difficult time. So, I’ll tell you. It’s the Christmas Tree Shops. Yeah, the girl loves Christmas. Not that I don’t love Christmas, just that she loves Christmas. She actually has had to put a stop-loss on her spending at this crazy store. She “only” allows herself to go once a week.

So, there we were, at the Christmas Tree Shops. At least it was a Sunday night, and before Thanksgiving, so it wasn’t super-insane. As soon as we walk in, Kate spots something that excites her greatly – a light-up turkey centerpiece thing. She immediately picks it up for her aunt, who is hosting Thanksgiving this year. At this point, I realize that I’m in for quite a ride.

We went up and down every aisle (except for the furniture section – who needs furniture) looking at all kinds of trinkets and gadgets. We were on a mission. The previous Tuesday, while we were helping out with the Christmas Faire things, the basket people didn’t have enough little things to put in baskets. That had to be fixed, so we each picked up a couple… a few… a dozen… okay, a few dozen little bits and pieces: Christmassy picture frames, kitten picture frames, poker picture frames, decks of cards, toenail care kits, teapots, tea, soap dispensers, hair ties, matchbox cars, day planners, gardening things… Basically, we got one of each. And if it was really cute… two or three.


So grabbed our Christmas Tree Shops bags and Kate took her craft bag, and we went inside. We met up with a lady we hadn’t met last week, who was sorting various bags of donations in the downstairs hall. We helped her carry various bags of stuff upstairs to the Sunday school classrooms.

Upstairs, we found the ladies we were crafting with the week before. We dropped off our basket goodies, and went into the art classroom to start assembling Christmas ornaments. The sense of urgency was minimal, and Kate and I just started making parts and pieces of this cute angel that her mom taught her to make. Kate wound string around a CD case while I cut the buds off of tiny little fabric flowers. Then Kate kept winding string (these things require a lot of string) while I cut up bits for halos and wings. Assembly time came, and some of the other ladies kept “oohing” over Kate’s fabulous angels.

While we were working on these, several other ladies and a couple young girls were assembling baskets for the silent auction. The kids were sitting next to me in chairs that were too small even for their twelve-year-old frames, so I took more interest in what they were doing. They put together an awesome basket of painting supplies from an area paint store where one of the girls’ dads happens to work. They hot glued ribbons onto baskets, deftly avoiding burning their fingers. Later, they were packing little doggie treats into little stockings. Christmas is full of adorable things.

The time went by too quickly, as we gabbed away through our three hours of assembly. Soon, it was time to pack up and go home. We weren’t done, but we had made about 14 or 15 beautiful angels. We’ll have to figure out how to hang them as ornaments next time we go craftify.

As we were leaving, we chatted for a while with some of our fellow crafters. We talked about the town, about the church, about the local newspaper, about life in general. They are such nice people, and I really am blessed to be able to spend time with so many awesome people. I haven’t loved church like this in so long, and I don’t think I ever had so much fun with church.

November 17th, 2005 • 11:58 am • dinane • Posted in Life, Religion246 Comments »

Press It!

Jon Abad posted a link to this most fabulous thing ever. Don’t click the big red button!

Go. Play. Now.

Did you go play yet? Then, tell me where the spy is! I can’t take the pressure!

November 17th, 2005 • 9:09 am • dinane • Posted in Uncategorizable235 Comments »

Moving in Ways That Are Not Walking in a Winter Wonderland

After I parked my car, I kept it running for a few more moments so that I could finish listening to the song that was playing. I do this so often that I don’t really know what song it was that particular time. I like music. Deal.

I feel weird taking pleasure in getting a good parking spot at the gym. I mean, how lazy can you really be when you’re about to work out? So, every time I get one of the good parking spaces, I have a moment of silent celebration followed by puzzlement at my oddity. On Monday, I got the third spot from the door and silently celebrated and contemplated the meaning of existence.

When I finally shut off my car, I gathered up my backpack and water bottle and made for the entry. I beeped my car locked, and chatted quickly with one of the trainers who was also on her way in. I knew she was a trainer, but for some reason, I didn’t act as if I did…

“Here we go again,” she muttered.

“Yup. Great way to top off a Monday.” I didn’t know if I was being sarcastic or serious.

“I work here.”

“So… great way to start a Monday?”

“I just came from my other job.”

“Then, I stand by my first statement.”

“I like it here.”

Why she said that last statement is beyond me. I don’t see her around the gym all that often (I think she normally does her appointments in the morning), so I filed the conversation away and marched right into the building, keys still in hand. I swiped the membership card that dangles from my keychain along with the grocery store cards, pharmacy cards, and other tracking devices, and smiled at the guys behind the front desk as I walked by.

One of the newer front desk guys likes to poke fun at me. If I’m not smiling, he chastises me in an attempt to flip my mood. If I am smiling, he taunts me. He’s recently started teasing me about my socks. (Recent foot covering features have included a variety of argyle, some floral print, and fun stripes. Today, my feet are covered with stitched vegetables.)

I went into the locker room, changed, and stuffed my crap into locker #42, just like any other day. I weighed myself (1/2 a pound less than last Thursday – neat!) and filled my water bottle. Then I considered my options. I could “run” (where “running” is more like jogging with the occasional sprinting and more than occasional fast walking), but I’ve kind of got bored of running. I could ride the stationary bike, but I always feel like that’s a cop-out. In fact, I usually ride the bike when I’m not feeling so great because it’s less work. Having knocked out those options, I settled on an elliptical machine. I picked one and started her up.

“Pick a program”


“Enter weight”

“23… clear… 226”

“Enter time”


I then started… um… “ellipticalling?” “Pedaling” maybe? Whatever. Moving the elliptical while staying stationary. I had debated picking up a magazine, but instead I decided to try something different. I have heard that some people while running or performing other such repetitive exercise get into a kind of “zone.” I decided I wanted to try to do that on purpose, so once I got into a rhythm, I closed my eyes and started imagining snow. Just as I was starting to fall into a winter wonderland where I felt no pain…

“You sure got right into it, didn’t you?”

My eyes snapped open, I looked up, and there’s that front desk guy walking by. I nod, not willing to actually speak for fear of coming out of it, but it was too late. I looked down at the clock on the machine, and it informed me that 4:35 had passed. “Not bad,” I thought, as I took a sip from my water bottle. “Not bad at all,” *gulp*.

I was beginning to become aware of my surroundings, and that just wouldn’t do, so I placed my water bottle back in its holster and re-closed my eyes. Snow flakes. Rolling hills covered in snow. Snow-coated trees. Winter wonderland. Hey, isn’t that Frosty the Snowman over there?

Yes, I understand how odd it is that I decided to actively try to gain a passive state while exercising. But it was just as much of an intellectual exercise as a mechanism to try to get myself to enjoy the activity. I wouldn’t necessarily call the idea a success, as I “came-to” (for lack of a better phrase) several more times before my twenty minutes had passed. Still, though, I think I would like to call the experiment a plausible success.

I will be trying this again. Worst thing that happens is I get bored of the elliptical and I go back to the treadmill (where closing ones eyes could result in serious disaster). Best thing that could happen is I learn how to meditate through exercise and I redevelop my love for moving.

November 16th, 2005 • 3:47 pm • dinane • Posted in HealthComments Off on Moving in Ways That Are Not Walking in a Winter Wonderland
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