Thursday, January 20, 2011

"I never even picked up a racquet"

As some of you know, I have been a gym member for about 6 1/2 years. In that time I have gone through spurts of super- dedicated weight training and cardio 5 days a week (with the regular help of a real trainer), as well as months that I didn't even darken the door. Yet I have kept my membership because it is so darn cheap, and I will never get a deal like it again. Since I am not giving up my membership, I feel like I need to use it, so that usually gives me the incentive to go back if I have lapsed in my dedication. For the most part, my gym attendance falls somewhere in between the two extremes- several days a week of some combo of cardio/weights, but nothing too strenuous (this may be why I haven't actually seen any serious weight loss or change in my body in that time, sigh).

Since I am a semi-regular I notice more or less, people who are also "regulars". I usually don't engage in conversation, as I am not one to chat up perfect strangers, instead I prefer to get in, do my work out, and get out, with minimal eye-contact. After I had been going for several years, in the middle of one of my more consistent periods of exercise, one man kept smiling at me and finally introduced himself. (Now before you get any ideas, it was perfectly innocent and friendly- I call him "the Mayor" because he knew everyone and greeted everyone. I think he is at the gym every day for at least 2 hours, possibly 3, so he knows who the regulars are. After that initial introduction I would say "hi" when he was nearby, and this went on for several months. After some time we got into conversations occassionally, he told me about his kid, I told him a little about mine, I invited him to church and he said he'd come (but still hasn't).

One day we were talking and the subject of racquetball came up. I noticed him playing with different partners each week and said I didn't know how to play, but I was intrigued. He offered to play with me once a week. I was very hesitant as I am not the "athletic" type. But I finally agreed because he said it was a very good workout. We decided to play one morning a week, and for the first couple of months I was very, very bad. I missed the ball, I had very little coordination, power or direction on my hits. It was so embarrassing that I almost quit one week, but decided to do 'just one more' week, mainly because the workout really was great. I needed to consume large quantities of water throughout, I would get winded, and I also felt it in my muscles the next day. The next week I turned a corner and started to improve enough that I was encouraged to keep trying.

Up until this point I hadn't purchased a racquet, instead using the "lost" ones in the lost and found, not wanting to invest in my own until I was sure that it would "stick". After another month of modest improvement, I decided that part of my problem was that I didn't have a "feel" for my racquets. One week I was using a racquetball racquet, the next, a junior tennis racket. Not exactly great for consistency. So I went ahead and purchased my own racquet. I also got some necessary undergarments for increased support, which greatly helped in comfort while running around.

I continued to meet up with the Mayor every week, gradually getting better. All of this time we were just hitting the ball back and forth, but not playing a real game. Finally, last week the Mayor decided that I was ready. We played a short game in which I "won", but not really since we only played until 10 and I had to go before we could finish, so I just happened to be ahead. This morning we played 2 games, and although I lost both, it wasn't by much, 12-15 the first game, 14-15 the second, and I got in lots of good shots that he couldn't return. I am so excited to have found some kind of physical activity that I look forward to, something that I can honestly say has never happened, from field hockey and softball in HS to the present mixture of whatever it is I do for 20 minutes every morning. I like the challenge and the feeling of actually getting a cardio work out, without all the drudgery of running on the treadmill or elliptical. I think this sport might actually "stick". Now if only I could find another partner and add another day of the week to my schedule. I think this is the start of a better, more "in shape" version of me.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Plumeria and Primroses

Last year, when we went to WDW, I got myself a little souvenir. It wasn't much to look at, just a forked stick. But the promise was enticing. If I took that stick and planted it, and watered it, and made sure that it got plenty of sunshine, it would grow into a plumeria tree. So I bit. I took home the stick and hoped that some of that Disney magic would bring this little stick to life. I planted it in special succulent soil, and put it in a sunny window until the days got warmer. Then it sat outside on our patio all summer long. About 2 months in, it began to grow little spikes on the top. These spikes lengthened and unfurled to beautiful, shiny leaves. It was magical. By the end of the summer, it looked something like this. Lush, vibrant and healthy:

And then the temperature dropped, and I had to take it inside. According to the directions, I wasn't to let the plant go dormant in the first year. I was to keep on watering it, and then the next summer it would burst into bloom. So I put it next to our one sunny window in the house and kept my eye on it. Every so often I would notice dirt on the floor, and then the leaves started to spot and drop off, and I got suspicious. I went in for a closer look, and smelled the unmistakeable odor of cat urine. The cats were using my precious plumeria as a litterbox! By the time I realized it, it was too late. The leaves were dropping every day, and my once lush plant looked sickly. I must, at this point, admit that I kind of went crazy on the cats. Or more specifically, cat. I knew that it could only be our male cat, Jasper who was defiling the plumeria. I googled for remedies and found several suggestions for deterring the cats from going in the plant. But first I had to bring the pH level back within normal range. So I flushed out the pot, running water through it several times until there was no odor left. Then I took skewers and placed them around the dirt to keep the cats out. Finally, we put the plant on a stand in the middle of a wall, where the cats couldn't reach it. After all this, the plant lost every last leaf, but one.

This last leaf has hung on for at least a month, and I think the plant is going to make it. But it is a sad shadow of the plant it used to be.
We are many months away from the 60 degree night temps that I need to put the plumeria back outside. Hopefully by then those little leaflings will have fully sprouted, and the plant will make a full recovery.

Right now, in the dead of winter, spring seems so far away. I have had enough of this snow and ice, and am starting to feel the burden of the cold temps and dark days. So, yesterday, on an impulse, I introduced another little plant into our house because it was so cheery, and spoke of the promise of spring. "Soon", it says, "soon!"

Now I need to figure out how to keep those cats far away...

Blossom- "I just want one tiny lick, I promise"
Jasper- "Hey, what do you have up there?"

Jasper- "Let me take a closer sniff, that soil needs some 'Eau de Jasper', I think"

Jasper- "Me, a plant killer? You must have me confused with some one else. See, I don't even care about plants!"