Wednesday, April 27, 2011

An Abrupt End

I've been writing a lot the past several days.  It's been mostly drivel based on vague memories from high school and college, and I usually don't get much further than a paragraph or two.  I'm finding it helpful in these instances to not have a very good memory for reality.  For example, I remember going miniature golfing with friends in high school, but that is about all.  I don't remember when in high school and I don't even remember which friends I was with.  I just remember being on the golf course with a small group of friends.  Since I don't remember the actual events or people involved, it's easy to have some fun with the story....

The invitation to mini-golf was legitimate, but everyone involved knew that it was another attempt by the group of friends to get Tiffany and Steve together.  Tiffany was quite comfortable being single even though the prom was fast approaching, but her friends disagreed.  Since they were her friends and she wanted them to be happy, or at least to stop bugging her, she went along with the ruse and found herself paired up with her handsome, yet awkward companion.

Steve pulled out all his best cheesy date moves.  As Tiffany was about to putt on the fifth hole he wrapped his arms around her.  "Let me help you with your form."  It was a cringe worthy moment.  His arms were strong, fingernails clean and he smelled nice so Tiffany was willing to overlook the ridiculousness of it all.

By the end of the round Tiffany had agreed to get some ice cream with Steve.  Pleased at their success, the rest of the group made their excuses not to join them so the two "love birds" could be alone.

The pair meandered down the boardwalk and onto the pier while eating their ice cream and nervously talking about what a great time they had that night.  As they stood at the end of the pier watching the sunset melt into the lake Steve contemplated kissing the girl he had been dreaming about for months.  Without warning, Tiffany grabbed Steve and threw him over the edge.  She turned and casually strolled back down the pier to the beach.

Crazy can come out of nowhere.

Monday, April 25, 2011

I Do Not Heart Zumba!

I do not love Zumba.  This is not a popular opinion.  It's been my experience that, for the most part, people who like zumba love it, and people who don't love it rarely go back for a second class.  I do not fall into either of those categories.  I grudgingly return to the gym twice a week, every week to endure the humiliation that is me attempting to dance and be even remotely funky while doing it.

I get through it by standing behind a really tall girl in the class so I don't catch a glimpse of myself flailing around in the floor-to-ceiling mirrors that surround the room.  I imagine myself being just as coordinated as the lovely and tall instructor who has been a dance teacher for 25 years.  When she stretches her arms out from side to side looking graceful as a swan, I imagine I look the same and not, as I notice when the tall girl was out one day and was exposed to my own reflection, looking like Kermit the Frog having a seizure.

Guilt is a big factor in me returning to the gym for zumba.  My kids take dance lessons from my instructor and when I pick them up from class she gives me a doubtful look and says, "Are you coming tonight?"  She has a gift for getting people to do things that they have no motivation to do; a gift I am sure is helpful while she is trying to get a room full of 3- and 4-year-olds to pirouette all at the same time.  She is lovingly motivational and pushy in the best possible way.  :-)

I think the most motivating factor in getting me to go back to zumba is friendship; friendship with my instructor who keeps me on track, and friendship with the other ladies in the class.  One friend in particular keeps me coming back.  We share a similar sense of humor about ourselves.  We snicker at the same ridiculous moves.  Class is not the same if she's not there to laugh with.

So no, I do not heart zumba.  But I do love all the friends I have made while going.  And that's what will keep me coming back.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Unwelcome Tenant

Raccoons are horrible creatures.  I know this because there is one living in my chimney.  He (I say "he" because I'm praying it's not a "she" who is ready to have babies in my chimney.  Yuck.) as I was saying, he has been living in there since February.  My husband and I were coming home from a date night (which we get to do about once a year, but that's an entirely different post) and saw the horrible beast perched on top of our roof against the moonlight.  We grabbed a flashlight to determine what it was and, sure enough, the masked bandit peered back at us.  Then he got spooked and ran towards our chimney. 

"No!  No!  Noooooo!!!"  I yelled as he squeezed his fluffy butt into the tiny hole leading to our fireplace.  We could hear him banging around inside for several months.  We would hear him leave just after dusk and return at around 5:00am each day.  Sometimes he would bang in the middle of the afternoon and my kids would start pounding on the wall near the fireplace yelling "Get out of our chimney, you filthy beast!"  My husband wouldn't get him out because of the ice on the roof.  It was too dangerous to climb up there.  He assured me (repeatedly) that there was no way for him to get into the house.

So finally, Spring came (sort of).  At least the ice melted from the roof and we were able to get up on the roof to put a cap on the chimney.  But first we would have to have a fire in the fireplace to smoke the stinking thing out.  So we collected all of the old bills and credit card offer that I've been meaning to shred and had ourselves a good smokey fire.  Unfortunately, the flu was stuck closed and the living room filled with smoke.  But don't panic!  We got a hammer and smacked that darn thing opened.  The smoke began to rise up the chimney, but there was no critter going out.  Apparently, he had met some friends for lunch that day, so the fire was for nothing.

No matter.  My husband happily climbed up the roof to install the chimney cap.  Once he was up there he realized he needed a different screw driver.  He wanted me to throw it up to him, but I refused because that just didn't seem safe.  So I decided to climb up the extension ladder leaning against the side of the house.  This is when I discovered two things; 1) I do not like heights and 2) I think aluminum is a stupid material to make a ladder out of.  It does not give any feeling of stability or safety.  I almost called my dad to come and get me down, just like when I was a kid and climbed that 30-foot pine tree and couldn't get down.

The cap made it on the chimney without any further problems and we cleaned up the mess from the fire by shoving the cold ashes down the little chute at the back of the fireplace.  Everything seemed fine until about half an hour later when we noticed the basement was full of smoke.  There was smoke streaming out from behind the basement wall right under the fireplace.  We opened the ash door in the basement and found nothing.  Not even the ashes we had put down the chute earlier.  Weird.

As the smoke got thicker, we had no choice but to call the fire department.  Apparently, there was nothing else going on because we ended up with five engines from two different fire houses, plus three volunteers in their own cars, and about 30 gigantic firefighters in full gear stomping through my kitchen and into the basement.  I thought having that many people in my basement might violate fire regulations, but I figured I'd leave that detail up to the experts.  After a while, the fire fighters came out of our basement with a smoldering bucket of small planks.  Apparently, the previous owner of our house had shoved three or four small boards and a foam ceiling tile up the ash trap.  There was a single ember that was still warm enough to start the tile smoldering.  Who stores flammables in a place you put ashes?

Once the fire fighters and their engines were gone, we thought everything was fine.  Then came the windstorm.  The next day we heard some banging on the roof and the chimney cap lifted up and blew off.  Later that night we heard the all-to-familiar sound of the raccoon climbing down the chimney.  The stinking thing is back.  And the wind and rain haven't let up enough to get back up there to put the cap back on the chimney.  We might just have this unwelcome tenant until summer.

Which is why I was so annoyed to see caged raccoons on display at the zoo today.