The Gift That Keeps On Giving

I spent a lot of time last week cleaning out our garden house, which is what we call a cute little structure that Ken built many years ago in our side yard. In the summer, it’s a nice place to sit and relax, and in the winter, it stores all of our summer furniture. So with the weather getting nicer, I decided it was time to take everything out of storage and get the place spruced up. There was only one problem—earlier in the spring, in a sudden moment of lunacy, I had purchased a used elliptical machine from our neighbours across the street who had posted it on Facebook. “Look!” I said to Ken. “It’s not very expensive, we just have to wheel it over here, and it fits in perfectly with my exercise plan.” Ken gave me the look he always gives me when I announce that I’m going to exercise, which is to say, he looked at me with incredulous disbelief.

“Just put it on the porch for now,” I directed him. “We can bring it in the house when I figure out where to put it.” But finding a place for a very large piece of exercise equipment proved to be more daunting than I thought, and the elliptical stayed on the porch until I had another brainstorm. “Let’s put it in the garden house. I can exercise in there.” Ken rolled his eyes, as one does, but loaded it onto the handcart and wheeled it over. “Remind me who’s supposed to be using this to exercise again?” he asked, but I promised that it was ME. And to prove my point, once it was installed in the garden house, I immediately hopped on to prove to him that I was serious. Then I immediately cracked my head on one of the ceiling joists to prove to him that perhaps this wasn’t the best idea. But we repositioned it so that I could—I don’t know, do you RIDE an elliptical?—do whatever it is you do on one of those without giving myself a concussion.

And there it stayed until last weekend, when the weather suddenly got much warmer. It was a gorgeous day and I immediately headed out to the garden house. I stood there contemplating the elliptical, when I had yet another brainstorm. The garden house would be a perfect spot for an outdoor office, where I could sit and write whilst listening to the bubbling of the fishpond outside the door and the birds singing in the trees nearby. But there was an elephant in the room, and by elephant, I mean a giant metal elliptical machine that, by this point in time, may or may not have become slightly spiderwebby from disuse, and that’s not my fault because I’ve been quite ill lately and here’s a slight tangent for you:

I finally called my doctor and he wanted some ‘samples’, so he sent me to a lab over half an hour away to pick up the sample bottles, and let me just say that for someone in my current situation, driving that far away from home during a pandemic when there are NO open public washrooms was one of the most terrifying things I’ve done in a while. But I made it there and back without incident. At some point later that evening, I was able to provide the required samples (which was an ordeal in and of itself and one I will NOT be sharing with you, and yes I can hear your palpable sighs of relief), and the instructions said to refrigerate them until taken back to the lab. I couldn’t stand the thought of them just sitting there in the refrigerator though, so I went into our dining room closet which is obviously where we keep wrapping paper and gift bags, and picked out a small but cheerful little bag to put them in. Then I placed the bag on the top shelf of the refrigerator. Sometime later:

Kate: Ooh, what’s this?
Me: Don’t look in–
Kate: What the hell, Mom?!
Me: I tried to warn you.

The next morning, I had to return to the same lab, with the same sense of terror, this time with my cheerful gift bag. The line-up to get in was very long, and I was glad that my offering was charmingly concealed. When I got to the registration desk, the nurse asked why I was there:

Me (whispers): I’m just bringing back some samples.
Nurse: Oh, what a lovely little gift bag.
Me: You might think it contains sweets or a treat. Yet it does not.
Nurse (laughs): I’ll take it in for you. Do you want the bag back?
Me: No. No, I don’t.

I’m still waiting for the results and a thank you card. Tangent complete. I believe I left myself staring at the elliptical machine that was obscuring my plans for an outdoor office. I decided to sweep and mop as I considered my dilemma, all the while being taunted by the elliptical:

Elliptical Machine: Why did you buy me? You’ll NEVER use me. Be honest.
Me: But I want to use you. So bad.
Elliptical: You never will.
Me (sadly): I know.

For sale: one elliptical machine. Bit of a bully but works fine otherwise. Just want what I paid for it, or will trade for a comfy chair. (Update: Someone is coming for it today–I hope it’s kind to her).

My Week 255: Exercising Restraint, Fun At Home

I know that a lot of workplaces have group obsessions: some are fixated on a certain TV show, like Game of Thrones or Survivor (mostly because a lot of offices FUNCTION like Game of Thrones or Survivor, where they’re constantly trying to either stab each other in the back for control over Westeros or vote each other off the island), some have football/basketball/bowling pools where they discuss results ad nauseum, and some are relentless in their discussions about certain kinds of special diets and recipe swapping. I was never very much interested in any of these types of group activities—I might be in the hockey pool but my only contribution to any discussion about hockey is “That guy has a cool name. Why didn’t I pick him?!”— and I find myself in the same boat yet again. My colleagues are lovely people, a highly professional and somewhat esoteric group, who don’t watch a lot of TV, don’t follow sports, and aren’t really the “recipe-swapping” type. But they DO have a group obsession, and unfortunately for me, it’s EXERCISE. These people exercise ALL THE TIME. They talk about exercise, they have fitness plans, they are the most physically fit people I have ever met. It puts me to shame. I have to tell you right up front that I don’t exercise. EVER. My idea of exercising is pausing Netflix, walking downstairs to the refrigerator, and pouring another glass of wine. The closest I ever came to having an actual fitness plan was once, a few years ago, I bought a recumbent cycle, which is a kind of exercise cycle where you can sit in a comfortable reclining position while your feet do all the work. So it’s like walking fast, but the rest of your body gets to take a break. Awesome. And the best part is that you can drink while you do it. It was the most relaxing fitness plan ever—I would pour a glass of wine, sit in my Lazyboy/exercise machine and peddle away until I had burned off enough calories to offset the wine. After a while, the machine broke (I may or may not have spilled some Chardonnay on the control panel), and I moved on to a more satisfactory level of exercise, which is to say, none at all.

10 reps each side and don’t spill any!

But now I feel the peer pressure of working with people who LOVE to exercise. They all have these electronic wristband things that tell them how many steps they’ve taken in one day. How many f*cking STEPS, you heard me. Last month, after walking the perimeter of the conference centre where we were working in order to discuss plans for the day, one of my colleagues cheerfully announced that we had just put in 3, 000 steps. I was like, whuh? And she explained that her goal was to reach 10,000 steps each day so now she only had 7,000 to go. I wanted to ask if there was like a medal or some chocolate as a prize, because I would be all over that, but from what I gathered, it’s simply an intrinsically motivated goal, which is to say, THERE IS NO PRIZE AT ALL.

Then the other day we were sitting at lunch, and everyone was sharing their plans for later. One person was going to Zumba class (I thought Zumba was the name of the elephant in A Jungle Book, but apparently it’s some kind of weird Latin fusion/cardio/dance thing). Another person was going to Aquafit, which is exercise that takes place in the water. I call this “having a vigorous bath”, but apparently Aquafit is also a cardio thing for people who need low impact exercise, having blown out their knee last year doing extreme yoga. EXTREME YOGA? WTF? I can’t even sit cross-legged anymore, never mind “extreme” cross-legged sitting. Someone else was taking tennis lessons and was gearing up for a sweaty evening on the court. The last person was “going for a run” because she needed to get back into shape for a marathon next month. (Who in their right mind “goes for a run”? The only time I run is if something is chasing me). Then they all started reminiscing about other types of classes they had taken in the past, sharing war stories about step class, and crazy instructors who went too fast or were too demanding, and so on. Then there was a lull in the conversation, and they all looked at me expectantly. What was I going to say—“I tried kickboxing once but the gloves were too heavy”? So I smiled nervously, stopped eating my cheesecake and said, “Does anyone have a good recipe for quinoa?”

Fun At Home 1

Me: (*goes into Ken’s bathroom): Ergh! Why are all the toilet paper rolls white?! How am I supposed to make my toilet look like it’s smoking a cigar?
Ken: What?!
Me: Nothing. (*leaves bathroom)

10 minutes later

Me: Come and look at my toilet. I saw how to do this on Facebook.
Ken: Haha! Hey, the paper towel rolls are brown. We could use one of those and it would look like the toilet was smoking a cigarillo.
Me: See, this is why I married you.

Anybody got a light?

Fun At Home 2

Ken: Aw, the screen on this door is ripping.
Me: Good job I bought some spline the other day.
Ken: Yes, I used that spline on the kitchen door.
Me: It’s good spline.
Ken: Very good spline.
Me: Do you think we just like saying ‘spline’ A LOT?
Ken: Yep.
Both: Spline, spline, spline, spline, spline!!!
Me: What a great word. Do you think it’s out of our system now?
Ken: I should spline so.