Sunday, March 30, 2014

Thank you Gwyneth

Attacking Gwyneth Paltrow when she is already down would not be fair or kind. Instead I will thank her. Thank you Gwyneth for shedding some light onto yet another tangent of the great Mommy Debate. You have made mothers think about how difficult the life of a starlet must be—a life to which most of us working and stay-at-home Moms cannot even fathom.

I honestly never imagined how very difficult it must be making one movie a year to tide you over on only a couple of million dollars. The stress of being on the movie set 14-hours a day must be truly exhausting. And all of that traveling to far-flung and exotic locations is taxing. Such sacrifices you have made! What it must be like to come home to nannies and staff who must be dealt with so your lovely Southern California home can operate smoothly. Two children and a rock star husband certainly require a flock of hired help. How do you even manage it all? Wait . . . I mean soon to be ex-husband. Good thing that Chris Martin's inevitable departure will make your life a bit easier since you won't have him living under your roof every day. Pesky rock star husband!

Thank you Gwyneth for opening my eyes and making me realize that I really don't have it so bad. Juggling three children's schedules, a husband's schedule, my own busy work schedule, the dog, an endless Minnesota winter, and the house and yard work really is ideal. At least I'm not a movie star and can somehow stay on top of my own boring 18-hour day life.

If you have no idea what I'm blogging about, please read on about Gwyneth Paltrow's E! interview/pity party and New York Post entertainment writer Mackenzie Dawson's response.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Observations from the Elliptical Machine

An ideal elliptical view—
multitudes to observe
Sometimes my family wonders how I can continually workout at the gym without getting completely bored. My answer lies in my loaded iPod and people watching. No not stalking, just silently observing. Airports, the busy center or downtown of any city, and fitness clubs are perfect for people watching. Today's 35 minutes on the elliptical machine was far from boring given the interesting attire and fitness club antics on display.

First there was the young woman on another elliptical machine wearing a turquoise peasant/gypsy sort of skirt with black tights, forest green knee high gym socks, and purple sneakers. I'm not quite sure if she came directly from church and forgot her shorts and opted to leave on her church skirt. She did not last long on the elliptical as that skirt proved a bit dangerous for entanglement in the gears.

Then there was the mint green eyeshadow lady a few machines down from me. These ladies are always working out in full makeup and usually heavily perfumed. Her eyeshadow did nicely match her mint green top. There were also lots of "parent personal trainers" at the club some with little kids in tow as they lifted and ran. Good to know that my club is family friendly.

Not quite so PG-rated was the middle-aged, rail thin, runner guy training on a treadmill. His tight white shirt tucked neatly into his even tighter black Lycra compression shorts that fit like a second skin, leaving nothing to the imagination. He must think it's a good look because he is there every Sunday morning wearing the same clingy attire that makes me shudder and wonder why.

Also joining in on this Sunday morning club spectacle was Randy who climbed onto the elliptical alongside me. Randy never disappoints and immediately started craning his neck to see who was working out. I have no idea if his name is Randy, but this name suits his particular behavior. He also is at the club nearly every Sunday morning and is truly out on display, sauntering along as he scopes out women. You know the type—that randy sort of behavior—aggressive weight lifting, chatting up the single ladies, checking out the women no matter what the age. Let's just say that Randy is a bit of a male stereotype and always amusing to watch in action.

The workout flew by, and yes I probably would be completely bored if I did not have such interesting companions at my club and my music playing as the soundtrack for an hour of exercise and entertainment.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Serendipitous Serenade

Have you ever become encapsulated in a moment? A furtive instant in an unfamiliar place where you normally would not linger? The scenario is an early morning horn lesson in a sleepy suburban Twin Cities neighborhood. My daughter is the student; I am the driver. Always the driver who lingers on in the background. The lesson was with a master French Horn player who teaches out of her home.

We are welcomed into the home by the instructor. She seats me in the dining room and ushers my daughter away to her lesson. I plug in my laptop, anticipating an hour of solid work. Until the master of the house finds me working away in his dining room. He is dressed for the gym except that he is holding a cello in one hand. A brief greeting ensues, an offer of coffee. Thank you no. He disappears.

A moment later the music begins. The most beautiful cello concerto I have ever heard performed live while I listen from the dining room. Dvorak I believe. If he is merely rehearsing I hear no errors. No repeated runs, no working over notes. Just the most fluid, exquisite work of art. Captivated by the cello, my work faded away, the laptop disappeared, and I was completely enchanted for 30 minutes of stunning passion released through the cello.

As the last notes faded away reality replaced my musical trance. The maestro reappeared, glistening with sweat from his workout, nodded, and left with his cello. Solo applause seemed inappropriate. I departed the home with my daughter. However the beauty of that moment, of the mastery of the cello, and being lost in the concerto lingers with me.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Sound of Silence

The sound of my morning is silence. The Simon and Garfunkel song takes on new meaning this morning. When you think of living in a house with two teens and an almost teen, you would expect a cacophony of noise surrounded by chaos of life with teens. While that is true in certain moments, not this Saturday morning.

Outdoors is a brilliant blue sky. The sun is actually shining, which makes it impossible to gaze out the window without squinting as the light reflects off of the endless white blanket of snow. It is quiet and still. Silent.

Indoors is uncannily quiet too, especially for a Saturday morning. One teenager is at a sleepover, one at a very early morning orchestra rehearsal, and the almost teen is plugged into his laptop and lost in his world of MineCraft. The dog went back to bed. After years of loud children running around the house on a Saturday morning and me wishing for a long, sleepy lie-in, this new norm is quite a shift. Perhaps this is that subtle move toward the children leaving home. They are easing me into it with their prolonged absences, weekend sleepovers, and hours spent with girlfriends instead of Mom.

This slow variation in life is a good thing. I embrace their exciting futures while I savor my silent Saturday morning.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Winter of My Discontent

Ask anyone in Minnesota about global warming and you will probably get thrown into the nearest snowbank. My snowbanks are growing in breadth and height with each passing weekly snowstorm, towering over my frigid body as I toss snow on top of the mounds lining my driveway.

Today is March 1 but you would never guess that. At -4° with the windchill plunging to -23° your skin will freeze in 5-10 minutes if left uncovered. That's nothing though. The brutal blast of -45° air predicted to hit after midnight means that you may well freeze the instant you set foot outside. Sadly people are actually dying of the cold out here. I would like to know where on the earth this arctic air is coming from? It is a good 24° warmer at the North Pole in Alaska and 35° warmer in Antarctica. I blame our cousin to the North. -13° in Hudson Bay. Thank you Canada.

If you have ever read Laura Ingalls Wilder's book The Long Winter you will get a good taste of a truly brutal winter. Similar to 2014 except for the fact that we do have food and electricity and heat that we do not have to generate by weaving hay sticks to burn for warmth. Not quite as bad as Laura's winter back in 1872, but that was the worst on record. This winter is the worst since 1979. Maybe it is hitting me so hard because since 1979 I have been fortunate enough to live in climates where it is not so cold and snowy.

Here are the facts about the Minnesota winter of discontent:
  • 37 days of measurable snowfall.
  • 24 inch snow depth in my yard. This makes me wonder when in May the snow will melt enough for baseball games.
  • At least 1 inch of solid ice on my driveway and on the neighborhood streets, making driving far too thrilling and treacherous.
  • 46 days with temperature 0° or below 0°. Puerto Rico anyone?
  • Lake Superior nearly frozen sold (yes, I said Lake Superior the largest fresh water lake in the world).
  • Colder in Minnesota than on Mars. According to NASA the Rover on Mars recorded temperatures on Mars -13‚ to -24°. Minnesota's -50° January temps do make it colder here than the surface of Mars. That's comforting!
  • 30° below normal heading into March.
  • Ice caves have formed intricate icicle formations only seen in extreme cold (like this winter) at the Apostle Islands on Lake Superior. Winter weary Minnesotans and Wisconsinite have been flocking to visit these ice caves.
What is the easy answer? Escape of course. I have tried to no avail. Escaped to Portland, Oregon and was hit with a freak period of snowstorms, blizzard conditions, and an ice storm. I'm escaping to Washington, DC this week and what awaits me? A winter storm of course. Welcome to the winter of my discontent.