Monday, 30 July 2007

Weights and Treadmills and Trainers, Oh My!

When I was in my twenties, the gym was a place to see and be seen. Sure, we went to work out, but at the time, it was more about how cute the boys looked in their muscle shirts, and how colour coordinated we were in our gym attire. It was less about getting in shape, or being good to ourselves than it was something to do to look cool, and - well, just something to do until it was time to go out and party again.

Now, my metabolism is on permanent vacation, and my body is telling me that it’s quite happy to lead the sedentary lifestyle. My mind is slightly mutinous and tends to side with my body, telling me that laying around isn’t such a bad thing, that it helps with cell regeneration and stuff.

However tempting that may sound, if I don’t fight the laziness, the ease of sinking into that perfect corner of the comfy couch, I’ll soon become another part of the furniture and Peter will never find me again, until I give him clues with general demands to bring me an iced cap from Timmy’s before Paradise Falls comes on (a Canadian soap that is my daytime guilty pleasure).

So, to combat this overwhelming need for laziness, I decided to up my dopamine levels and join the gym. The day I signed away a year of my life I went in all proud and strong and a little too loud “I want to join the gym!” I think I was loud enough to squelch the inner screaming of my muscles, cringing in fear. I think I startled the girl behind the desk. But hey - I couldn't take a chance - I didn't want my mind to win over my vocal chords at this point.

After getting my card, I asked for a training session and was told that I could meet with a trainer the following Thursday. I decided to use the treadmill until then, because all of the other machines look like bionic octopi or something. At the end of my 45 minutes, I thought “I can do this, it’s not so bad.” I kept visiting the treadmill until my appointment, thinking I was going to show that trainer, after I’d built up a week’s worth of cardio.

And that’s where it all went horribly, scarily wrong.

She is way too cute and perky. Her smile lights up the room, and she is as bouncy and energetic as a 6-month-old pup. I loved her and hated her on sight, and kind of wanted to rub her belly. But mostly, I hoped I could catch some of her vibe, so I could build up some excitement for the hell she was about to put me through.

And she did her best, smiling the whole time. Hell started with the legs, then went to the arms, the back, the abs, and, Lord help me, there’s a machine that helped me do my very first pull up. She ADDED it to my routine because she was so proud of me. That brat.

I felt like I kept up pretty well. I only sat the wrong direction on two machines, because her way just didn’t make sense. When I fight a bionic octopus, I want to be able to face it. The trainer won. I did it her way. And the octopus won.

It's two weeks later and I'm still going. What a good girl, right? Ha! I still look for excuses, but then I know that my 34.50 is going to be theirs, and dangit, they are gonna earn that dough from me.

I’ve got to go change now. I’ve got a harpoon and some chum, and a bionic octopus to conquer.

Monday, 23 July 2007

Facebook: My Life on a Wall

There probably aren’t many of you that haven’t heard of Facebook by now, especially if you are between the ages of 14-25. However, there are a startling number of us adult ‘tweeners hooked up on Facebook.

By the way, adult ‘tweeners are those of us that are okay with saying goodbye to the prime of our youth, because we are happy in what we know to be the prime of our lives. The time that is rich with ‘if I knew then what I know now’, usually followed by an all-knowing, wisdom filled chuckle.

But it’s also a time when some of us reflect on those relationships that meant so much to us when we were younger, when we thought we had responsibilities. Yes, if I knew then, what I know now.

Anyway – these friendships were the ones that know all your little kid secrets. Some of these friends were the pals that you smoked your first and only cigarette with, or even the ones that helped you home the first time you got drunk at their house. In any case, they were close, forever kind of friends that I’ll bet you’re thinking of right now, because you have no idea where they are.

Enter Facebook. This creation by Harvard students has now taken 6 Degrees of Hey I Know You to new, frenzied, obsessive heights. But it’s also helped me find a couple of those really great pals I had when I was growing up. One of the great things – unlimited photo storage is allowing me to scan old pictures. I mean really old pictures with us in our hair-feathering 15-year-old glory.

It started out innocently enough. Roxie told me about a cool place to find old friends. I only keep a blog, so I thought I’d check it out. I signed up and immediately added Roxie as my first ‘friend’. I had one friend. I was so excited. But Roxie already had about twelve friends. I was envious, and immediately wanted more friends.

I started typing in names of people I knew in the area. Then my search expanded to my home town, my high school and college. It’s less than six months later and I now have more than 50 friends listed. My husband is on Facebook and I can send him little flirty gifts. Mom is on Facebook now, so I can jot quick notes or put pictures on her ‘wall’. It’s almost like I’m there to mess up her house in person.

The number of friends keeps climbing, and a steady ‘Mini Feed’ tells me what every one of them is doing, through their wall posts and photos. It’s like my own personal reality show, starring people I actually care about.

But now it’s getting bad. I’ve added Chip to “Dogbook”, and Wick has her own profile on “Catbook”. And I think it’s cute. Seriously, somebody help? You can reach me at, under Joyce Russell-Menyasz.

Saturday, 14 July 2007

Wick, the Determined Squirrel Hunter

Sunday afternoon, I decided to have a few relaxing, lazy hours with a book I just can’t keep my nose out of. Because I work at home, I make myself leave my office, and go to our bedroom to read, adjusting the pillows just so, and turning on my side so I can look outside the patio doors to the woods outside.

I am soon engrossed in the latest chapter and forget about the world around me. That is, until some bizarre screeching noise interrupts my Manhattan adventure and pulls me back to Carleton Place.

Living in the wilds of Lanark County, most noises go unnoticed; as they are part of the landscape and every day experience of living out here. However, something outside was really angry. I give an exasperated sigh and put my book down, rolling on my stomach to gaze out the door.

And there she is. Our brave little cat, more than a year old now, swishing her tail in the tall grass at the edge of the lawn, looking up into a sparse oak tree. But she isn’t the one making the noise.
Our sweet little hunter has a giant mutant black squirrel screaming at her from half way up the tree. The squirrel isn’t scared, it’s mad, and it’s giving Wick a stern talking to.

Wick isn’t interested. To show her impatience with lectures, she runs half way up the same tree as the scary squirrel, sending the monstrous black thing twenty feet higher in the tree, shrieking the whole time.

I’m sure my chorus of ‘good kitty, you GO Wick!’ didn’t help matters, but I have a thing against these bizarre Canadian squirrels. They are like climbing black Chihuahuas with furry tails. They are bigger than squirrels I’m used to, and not nearly as cute. So if our cat wants to run one off our property or make it a play thing, I’m okay with that.

My book is forgotten. I have to see how this turns out.

Wick climbs a few more feet and decides to sit and wait on the roof of a bird feeder nailed to the tree. This sends the squirrel into a frenzy, jumping from tree to tree, hanging from branches, screaming the whole time.

Eventually Wick grows tired of the game, and leaves her perch. She follows the squirrel’s progress from tree to tree for a few moments, and gives one loud meow up into the tree before moving on, twitching her tail again in a disdainful dismissal.

I’m hoping the squirrel is moving to another part of the forest, because I’m sure that Wick told that rat-looking thing that it is not welcome in her yard. And, if it decided to stay, its squirrel days would be numbered, and will soon become nothing more than a squirrel flavoured snack.

After all, Wick’s count is up to seven moles and five mice. By the way she stalks that squirrel, it’s only a matter of time and determination.

Monday, 9 July 2007

Girl Cult Summer Opener, Cutie Style

A fellow member of the Girl Cult just bought a house on the Mississippi. She’s not even forty yet, and she was able to do this. I will forever be in awe of Cutie’s determination to obtain this awesome spot. And I will forever be glad that I am part of her inner circle so I can share this with her occasionally

Last week, when the days were scorching, Cutie invited us all over to take in her new digs. We all showed up with icy drinks and swim suits. We congratulated her on her new home and immediately went to dive off the end of her dock into the cool, weed-free, refreshing water.

Once our skin stopped sizzling from the heat, we chatted on the deck of the next door neighbour. Cutie doesn’t have any deck chairs yet, but happens to be close friends with her next door neighbours, as well as two neighbours beyond.

As we laughed and stuff (remember, I can’t tell you everything, or I’d be ousted from the cult forever), I found myself looking over the lake to the West, watching as the sun began its descent into the horizon.

The clouds were sparse but fluffy, dotting the sky with dusty pink punctuation marks, casting shadows on the ground and the water as the sun started its final show. Whether it’s saying goodbye to us for the night, or hello to the other side of the globe, we’ll never know, but I wanted to watch the performance, just the same.

Conversation faded for me (a rarity, I know) as I positioned myself in front of a plate glass window in Cutie’s house, facing the Western sky. Framed by two mighty oak trees, the sun’s bright, blinding rays softened and reached out to touch the water’s surface, sending a message to tell us to pay attention we wouldn’t want to miss what was coming.

I knew at that moment that sunsets from this spot were going to be spectacular.
The slight ripple on the surface of the Mississippi added a glittery sparkle as bright, blinding day rays fizzled to make way for the lullaby song of the sun. It started with fiery pink fingers that stretched its magnificence into orange tendrils, touched the surface of the lake with its reflection and crawled all the way to Cutie’s shore as it tickled us with a good night story.

The oaks swayed slightly in appreciation, proud to be a part of this glory. I could almost hear the hiss of the sun as it hit the surface of the Mississippi, could almost see the steam rise from the water’s face. The sky glowed to a peaceful lavender and blue, sending the last ripple through the water’s reflection once more on a swan song of departure before the sun kissed us all with a bright red goodnight.

And now I am more certain than ever that I must make sure to bring Cutie an expensive, thoughtful gift any time I visit her shore, because I never want her to ask me to leave.