Erin's Everyday Thoughts

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Cold, cold, cold

Yesterday at work and last night hanging out at a friend's house, I was cold, cold, cold. It amazes me that it can be nearly 100 degrees outside and still I am shivering, my fingers like icicles, my fingernails blue. There's something very unnatural about air conditioning when it provides this much of a temperature discrepancy--30 or 40 degrees I'd say! It can't possibly be good for a body to go from one temperature to the other and back again.

Last night, I went to bed wearing long pants and three covers. The warmth was a welcome relief after my chilly day. I thought of hot chocolate and sweaters.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Keeping it Clean

Two Saturdays ago, it finally cooled down. Two Saturdays ago, I took the dog outside at 7 AM and felt a cool chill in the air. I took a deep breath without feeling suffocated. It was an exhilarating glimpse toward the fall. I felt weightless, free from the humidity at last.

Two Saturday ago, I went back to sleep after taking the dog outside at 7 AM. I slept for another hour and a half, because the week had exhausted me. I took my time eating breakfast, chatting with my brother and our current houseguest, my brother’s girlfriend. They left at 10 AM, and I decided that it was the perfect morning to wash my car.

My car was VERY dirty. I hadn’t washed it in a while, and I’d been on a few road trips—a camping trip where firewood was stacked in the trunk, a trip to Indiana and Northern Ohio. My car had dirt souvenirs from each destination.

I started with cleaning the interior of my car. I used Armor All wipes on the steering wheel, the dashboard, until everything was slick and clean. Then I moved on to the door wells (my least favorite part of the car to clean), with a bucket of soapy water. These hadn’t been cleaned in ages, so it was slow going.

When I was finishing with my first door well, for the driver’s side door, I heard an awful din next door. My neighbor, out of nowhere it seemed, yelled (so I could clearly hear it outside, even though he was inside), “What the F*** are you doing? Get the F*** outside!” There was a racket of something being hit or thrown, then the yelp of a dog. Then more yelling.

I stopped. I waited for them to come out the back door. But they did not come.

I heard them a few minutes later in the front yard. And boy, was my blood boiling. I thought of the things I might have said to my neighbor had he come out the back door, the glares I would have given him. I thought of the way my neighbor’s dog used to skulk around as a puppy, always with his tail between his legs, flinching if you tried to touch him.

But I didn’t say anything or do anything. (Because what could I realistically say or do?) I just kept cleaning my door wells, then the exterior of my car, then made a trip to a car wash where they have giant vacuums so I could clean the seats and floors.

When I was finished cleaning my car, I sat inside it feeling pleased with my work. I love to sit with things that I’ve worked hard to clean or organize. I feel accomplished. Usually I also feel at peace.

But peace did not come that day. The angry curses kept ringing in my ears. I thought of Armor All wipes cleaning more than dashboards.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Adventures in Dog-Sitting

As I’ve mentioned before, when taking a walk, Phoebe the dog likes to eat things. Chicken bones in particular are her favorite, but she’ll pick up anything that looks or smells interesting, if I’m not fast enough to keep her from getting to it. She regularly eats napkins and tissues. Last week, she actually tried, unsuccessfully, to pick up an entire full kitchen-size trash bag and bring it along.

This morning, she must have picked up something that was not good for her. We took a usual walk between about 7:00 and 7:30, and I jumped in the shower as soon as we got home. It was when I was toweling off after the shower that I heard Phoebe running into things. She has a tendency to make a ruckus, but this sounded more intense. She slammed into the bathroom door, then she slammed into what sounded like the wall. I thought—what in the world?

When I opened the bathroom door to let her in, she took a nosedive for the bathmat and buried her snout into it. But her snout … oh no. Her snout was twice its usual size!

Please see the pictures above. The first is a picture of a flat-coated retriever, and looks roughly like what Phoebe usually looks like. The second is a picture of a Labrador retriever. Note the twice-as-wide snout. This morning, Phoebe looked like a Labrador retriever.

While I hurried to complete a highly abbreviated getting-ready-for-the-morning routine, Phoebe continued to run and slam into things. She burrowed behind my bed and into a stack of pillows. She ran downstairs and (I later discovered) burrowed a cushion right off of one of our chairs.

It seemed like this was probably an allergic reaction of some sort, but I obviously didn’t know for sure. So I called Phoebe’s vet … closed. I called my brother (Phoebe’s owner) to see if he had an after-hour vet. I called an after-hour vet and spoke with a specialist who said I would probably be okay waiting until 9:00 to bring Phoebe to her regular vet (that’s when they open). And so, after a quick e-mail to my boss at work, we piled into my car (Phoebe in crate, me in driver’s seat) and drove to the vet.

That is where I left Phoebe. Of course by this time, she was much less agitated and less swollen. (Isn’t that how it always works?) I’m not sure if they believed that her mouth had been twice its usual size. But they are going to do a thorough exam. And hopefully the next time I see Phoebe the Dog, she will look just like herself again. Maybe she’ll even learn a lesson about picking up trash on walks. But I doubt it.

Monday, August 06, 2007

The Hot, Hot Heat

Yesterday, I helped friends who live on the third story of a three-story house move their stuff down to a moving truck. I started out helping in the kitchen—packing boxes, organizing. It is always oddly unsettling to me when I’m asked to help pack and sort other people’s things. Even items as generic as kitchen goods seem intimate. I feel responsible for creating rhyme and reason in the boxes. Packing up someone else’s things is something I do not like to do.

I was happy when I was able to switch gears from packing to hauling. I constructed three wardrobe boxes (I’d never seen these before, but they’re a great idea—cardboard boxes with metal racks so you can haul your hanging clothes in an orderly fashion) and proceeded to take trip after trip up and down the stairs until all of the hanging clothes was safely secured within the boxes.

The stairs were steep. And narrow. The day was hot. I was there between 2 and 6 pm. After I’d been moving clothes for half an hour, I ran into my brother-in-law (who had been moving heavy furniture down the stairs since before I arrived and who was soaked through with sweat), and he said, “I see you’ve caught up.” I looked down and saw that my blue tank top was a darker, sweatier shade of blue. I had obviously noticed the sweat dripping down from my hairline, but I hadn’t noticed the shirt. And I hadn’t noticed my legs—they were slick with sweat. There were pieces of lint and hair stuck to them that the sweat had attracted and held onto.

This all sounds gross, and I can’t say that I didn’t have moments of feeling somewhat miserable, but there is also something exhilarating about heavy sweating. It feels like a release, like a cleansing. I was sure to drink a lot of water to replenish myself, but the sweat made me feel in an odd way clean. (Smelly, but clean.)

I went home at 6 to walk Phoebe the dog so my older brother (who usually walks Phoebe, as she’s his dog) could stay and continue the move. Phoebe couldn’t stop licking my legs—they must have tasted so good and salty.

After the walk, I took the best kind of shower, using chilly water and an extensive lather to wipe away the grime. Afterward, I felt tired and happy.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Shameless Promotion

I have a story in this month's (Aug 2007) Highlights magazine! It's called "The Class List." If you happen to be at the doctor's office or a bookstore that carries Highlights, check it out! :-)

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

A Night at the Opera

Last night, I enjoyed seeing my second-ever opera. It was a performance of Aida, written by Giuseppe Verdi, performed in coordination with the Cincinnati Opera. I like excuses to get dressed up, I like excuses to see beautiful buildings (like Cincinnati’s Music Hall, where this was performed), and I like excuses to listen to music / see dance / hear an orchestra. So, I was not surprised that the evening was so enjoyable. A few notes …

--I purchased our tickets through an organization called Enjoy the Arts. By going through this organization, I was able to get great seats at a discounted price. We were in the very first row of the orchestra (floor), so the only thing between us and the performers was the orchestra pit (with a full symphony orchestra!). When I ordered the tickets, the person taking my order said we’d be so close that we’d feel the singers’ spit. That, unfortunately (or fortunately?) was not the case. But it was a great close-up view.

--Wow, can opera singers sing. Obviously this is true, but really and truly—one person’s voice filling a room like that? Amazing. (The terrific acoustics there help, but still …) I especially enjoyed the voice of the lead soprano, Aida, and of the high priest, a bass. The big chorus numbers were truly magnificent. As a would-love-to-be-better singer, I felt envy and awe at the beautiful voices of the performers.

--There was a ballet sequence in the second act of the opera that was quite good. I don’t mean to sounds vulgar here, but one of the most interesting parts (very modern dance) was that the male dancers were covered in gold body paint and wearing, basically, thongs on their bottoms. So you could see the movement of their bodies very acutely, including the contractions of their buttocks. Dancers are so amazingly physically fit; it was interesting to see how their muscles and bodies worked throughout the dance. Of course the women dancers were amazing, as well, moving in ways I can scarcely imagine moving.

--The second act was my favorite. This act was in every way GRAND OPERA. From ballet sequence to large chorus number to huge props being dragged onto the stage and dropped from the ceiling to the appearance of a live (and gigantic!) eagle from the Cincinnati Zoo … it was a thrill.

--During intermissions (there were three, one between each of the four acts), you could buy concessions including “regular” things like soda, coffee, chips, but also including champagne and fancy chocolate. During the second intermission, we decided to live it up and go for champagne and chocolate. Because of the long lines, we thought to divide and conquer—half the party going to gather the bubbly and the other half on a sugar hunt. Just as we met up and began to sip our champagne, the bells indicating that the show would be starting again soon started to sound. Oh no! We weren’t allowed to bring food or drink into the theater. We downed the champagne (gulps, seriously, not the best way to drink champagne), and I (because I couldn’t stand the thought of throwing it out), demurely wrapped my chocolate in a napkin and slid it into my purse to eat during the third intermission. The third intermission was a chocolate-filled delight.

--The evening ended after midnight. I believe everyone in my group of seven had a good time. At home, I fell into a deep sleep and dreamt of nothing. I awoke with music in my ears.