Monthly Archives: November 2011

Helga made me do it


So today was another grueling session with Helga.  I’m pretty sure Helga has some kind of Axis II diagnosis.

As always I warmed up by cozying up to my bosom friend, the DeathMaster.  Ten minutes or so and I was sweaty and fully prepared to go home.  Just in time for Helga to arrive!

We started with some delightful squatting exercises.  What is the obsession with squatting?  I was made to squat and then stand up and push a million pound hand weight1 to the ceiling.  I did this about fifty bajillion2 times.  Maybe sixty bajillion.  After 45 bajillion I kind of lose count.  And then I had to do some kind of arm thing with a barbell like the ones they use at the circus, where the strong man lifts up giant weights1, each one bigger than the planet Earth.  You know the ones.  I always thought that was for effect but it turns out that through modern advances in magic and improbability and some other stuff, this kind of thing is actually possible.

After I was sufficiently horrible with sweat and general loathesomeness, we moved on to YET ANOTHER SQUATTING EXERCISE, this one calling for repeatedly stepping up onto a platform with an enormous weight1 and again pushing it up toward the ceiling.  Because that’s a useful skill.

And have I discussed planking with you yet, gentle reader(s)?  This is where you put your elbows on a surface such as the floor or a bench or (if Helga is feeling sufficiently sadistic that day) one of those yoga ball things, and you hold the rest of your body straight like a plank, kind of like you were in the middle of a horrible pushup and something really bad happened with the space-time continuum3 and froze you there like that.  You hold this position for about a week4 each time.

True story: my arms were so sweaty that my elbows lost purchase on the bench and I was compelled to break position and dry the bench and my arms off with my handy towel.

After I had complied with Helga’s demented schemes long enough for him to become bored with the whole thing5 he did something unspeakably wrong6 to my IT bands right there in front of the whole gym! I appealed to onlookers with my eyes but they all continued working out as though nothing was amiss.

I have another appointment on Monday. I CAN HARDLY WAIT.

1. ten pounds

2. fifteen times each set

3. Eddies, no doubt, though I’m not sure what kind of sofa he had this time

4. it really was a week, or else about 50 seconds.

5. 30 minutes

6. stretched them



Suffering and Splendor


So I spent a rather low-key Thanksgiving Day loafing, seeing a movie, and putting up a few lights here at Swampy Acres.

The movie wasn’t bad, for three bucks.  I wouldn’t have wanted to pay full price for it, but it was fun and silly and visually very pretty.  It was The 3 Musketeers.  Not the worst movie I’ve ever seen (certainly no Cabin Boy) but not one I’m keen to rush out and buy the DVD for either.  This despite my abiding love of bodices, Milla Jovovich, and Milla Jovovich in a bodice.

And then I and my friend Josh headed outside to hang lights.  Actually I went outside to hang the lights and Josh went out to supervise.  He is slightly curmudgeonly and it is my belief that he will get coal in his stocking this year.  Nevertheless he is a good sport and even assisted me despite the fact that it was windy and rainy and cold outside.

It was all going well in that the lights were still functional from last year and I was able to locate them and the extension cord in fairly short order.  This is an improvement over the usual state of affairs in which I would most typically find the lights, after an exhaustive search, tied in a giant knot inside of a box marked “YEARBOOKS,” and half the string would be burned out, and the extension cord would have been severed in two by the lawnmower at some point over the summer.  So this is progress, of a sort.

But then I stumbled and fell onto some large decorative rocks in the front flowerbed, and now my right knee has a sort of extra auxiliary knee alongside itself.  An auxiliary knee that smarts rather a lot and is purplish with a scrape on it.  And my chenille glove got all torn.


I did not sustain any injuries putting up the ones inside the window even though there were small suction cups involved.  Just FYI.

We win.


So we had this new “ductless” heating system installed recently.

The installation company had sent out the nicest guy ever to give us an estimate.  We were excited to get going on this project.

Then the installation company did some things we were not so excited about.

They screwed up the scheduling and told us they’d be here a week before they actually intended to do the work.

They left our cat trapped in the crawl space and it took us 15 hours to figure out he was down there.

They broke The Lovely Rhonda’s dresser.

And they ran some kind of drainage tubing or something directly in front of our dryer exhaust vent.  Which caused our dryer to clog up and stop drying, and we had to get the tireless Kenny to come fix for us.

And then?  They did the worst thing of all.

When TLR called them to complain, the owner’s wife (who in our humble opinions should not be engaging in customer relations activities of any kind) was defensive and obnoxious and denied that any of these things could have occurred.

This left TLR no recourse but to complain to the power company, which provided the financing.

Today the owner called us.  He’ll be coming by tomorrow to have a look at everything.  The installer who broke the dresser fessed up to it.  He’s new and didn’t know he should not have moved furniture without permission or assistance from the homeowner.



Like Gray’s Anatomy, but for kids.


So the Collective Spawn were separated for about a week, which usually results in more enthusiastic and cooperative play.  Overheard this evening:

“Hi, I’m having a really bad heart surgery?  It’s going FASTFASTFAST, slow, slow.  Um, can you bring the am-blee-ants?”


Our players repair to the back hall for further shenanigans.

Helga, Helga, Helga.


So today’s torture session commenced with a few minutes of DeathMastering for warmup.  Then we moved on to some horrible machine, then another one, then pushups with the bar yet LOWER.  Helga tried some Jedi mind tricks on me but I didn’t just climb out of the trash compactor yesterday.  I could tell it was lower.

A lot of what we do seems to involve squatting, which is a posture that I try never to assume in public.  What does this mean?

Then when the torment had finally come to an end I was encouraged (at gunpoint, natch) to continue the agony once again by engaging in yet more of this horrific “cardio” on the DeathMaster or similar.

I told Helga how I had completely bonked at 8 minutes last time I had tried to do this “cardio” after a session.   He merely laughed at my weakness and taunted me mercilessly.

Okay, so that’s totally untrue, but it would be funnier if it was.

This time I complied with his demented request to do 15 minutes.  I did pause once at I think 13 minutes?  For the one whole minute that it lets you do.   I was panting like Lamaze class and sweating like a pig.  The gym makes me feel so pretty!

I’m sure I could push the pause button again for another minute if one minute was just not enough, but, and I am totally not making this up, the first time that I wrote about this?  I was so dismayed by the whole thing that that honestly never occurred to me.


I kick you to the curb, sir


So I went to the gym today.  I go to LA Fitness, or La Fitness!  It’s French!  as my friend Mark says.  Best if you can muster up a really gooey French accent while saying it.

So as all both of you might recall, last time I went to the gym, and the time before that, it was somewhat less than a rousing success in the sense that I exercised well and thoroughly.  It was a rousing success in that I went there in the first place, but that’s not exactly good blogfodder.  I mean, who enjoys reading boring accounts of perfectly satisfying gym excursions?  Nobody, that’s who.

So anyway, this time I hit the treadmill first.  (It turns out that the treadmill is so boring, and makes my feet cramp up, that I’m reconsidering the elliptical.  Also boring but maybe less brutal on my feets.  We shall see.)  Anyway, 20 minutes of abject boredom got my heart rate into at least a respectable range.

Then, with a heavy sigh and grim sense of foreboding, I climbed up onto the DeathMaster and fired up the mp3.  My goal: to log 20 minutes without a) falling off, b) requiring emergency services, and/or c) beating the machine into a pulp with my mighty, enraged fists because it’s too hard *sob*.

A realistic subgoal, I felt, was to not touch the pause button until at least ten minutes had passed.   I imagined I might pause it at that point, for the stupid one minute it allows, and perhaps again at 5.  And I imagined that I might be hating life so very much by the 5 minutes to go mark that I would be desperately plotting to warp forward in time or something.

What actually happened was that I slogged, and trudged, and plodded, and heaved, and struggled.  Also, there was sweating.  Soooo much sweating.  But BY GRABTHAR’S HAMMER I made it.

As I approached ten minutes remaining I thought, Oh what the heck, let’s shoot for nine minutes.  Obviously the exercise-induced insanity was setting in at this point.

Then at nine minutes some devilish little inner voice purred, Bet you can’t make it to seven minutes.  And I thought, BLOW ME, INNER DEMON.

And at seven minutes the same voice prodded me to shoot for five.  And then three.  And then I was done.

Why Hello There, Mr. Pratchett


Okay, so I didn’t actually MEET Terry Pratchett today, but it was the next best thing.

I have this thing wherein if I enter a thrift store for any reason I peruse the book section for Terry Pratchett books.  I usually come up with nothing because who in their right mind gives away a Terry Pratchett book?  But once in a while someone else’s misfortune benefits me.  I can picture it:

“Honey, where did my copy of Thud! go?”

“Your what?”

“You know.  That book?  With the helmet on the front?  That book that is MADE OF AWESOME?”

“Oh, that old thing?  Oh, I gave that musty old thing to the Goodwill months ago.  Let’s go see Breaking Dawn tonight!”

This exact scenario, no doubt, accounts for the high rate of divorce these days.

Anyway, over the many months that I have pursued this bizarre hobby I have managed to accumulate a few titles.  It’s the thrill of the hunt, since I could waltz in to Powell’s and buy any and all titles that I could wish for, but it rankles me to pay that much.  Besides, it seems more meaningful somehow to gather them piecemeal like this.

(I really would waltz, too, because that is the kind of dork I am.  Trust me, this is better for everyone.)

Anyway this evening I had some unwanted junk that needed a new home so we dropped it off at the drive-through donation thingy at Goodwill, and then Delia convinced me that we should go inside to look for a stuffed animal.  Because the fifty or so that she has are all so boring now.  I agreed to this with the caveat that she would part with one of her existing animals to make room for it.  Of course I had to meander through the book section, and of course I had to find the science fiction/fantasy shelves, and of course there they were.

Four titles, three of which I was positive that we didn’t own and one that I wasn’t sure about.  And all inexpensively priced!    I literally (ha ha) could not lay my hands on them fast enough, and it was all I could do not to scurry out of the store cackling and rubbing my gnarled old hands together.

You look so nice up there on the bookshelf, Mr. Pratchett.



So I met up with Helga at the gym today.  We had a carefree half-hour of skipping gaily about the gym singing, “Neener neener neeeeee-ner!”

Okay, not so much.  I was forced, practically at gunpoint, to engage in a variety of alleged exercises designed probably by terrorists to humiliate and beat down the most hardened American commando spy.  Rambo couldn’t have tolerated these exercises.

There was this squat-and-lift thing with weights!  There were pushups on the bar, and the bar was lowered from last time!  (I fixed him with my wobbly steely gaze and said, “Is this bar lower than it was last time?” and he laughed and asked if that was a rhetorical question. Helgas are evasive like that.) There was an unspeakable throw-this-so-called-medicine-ball-over-sideways thing that my entire rib cage will hate me for tomorrow.  There was jumping!  There was stepping up onto a platform repeatedly while holding enormous (okay, maybe 7.5lb?  maybe only 5, because I am weak and pathetic) weights!

When the torture session was over, Helga decreed that I should continue, voluntarily, to engage in “cardio” for another thirty minutes.  I started with the DeathMaster.  I dialed up my 15 minutes, I set it to Level 2, I slogged along for as long as I could tolerate.  And at 8 minutes I completely ran out of steam.


Okay, I don’t, but I think I need to build up to thirty more minutes of cardio after a training session.

I’m still in the “baby-steps, at least I am a Good Tryer” stage, so I’m not beating myself up too much.




So the alarm went off at 6am and I actually got up. I know, I didn’t think I would either! But I did.

I find that if I lay out my stuff the night before I will actually go, just like if I pack my lunch the night before I’ll actually take a lunch to work. So I not only laid out my exercise togs last night, I also packed a lunch. How good am I!

So I got up, ate my banana with just a smidgen of peanut butter for staying power, and off I went to the gym.

Helga told me, “We will meet twice a week and two other days of the week you should hit the gym for some cardio. And take the other day off.”

It turns out that cardio is fancy trainer talk for sweating and wishing you could just lay down and die.

He said, “The treadmill, stair climber, or elliptical, 45 minutes total. And you can split that up between them however you like as long as you don’t let your heart rate fall too far between machines.”

So, I thought okay, stair climber and treadmill it is. I’m not a huge fan of the elliptical because it makes my feet fall asleep. So I climb up on the stair climber and set it with 20 minutes and my weight and the “fat burner” program. Level? it asks, and I’m all, how the hell should I know? But I am traditionally built, so probably a low level. My pride dictates that I cannot set it on level 1, so I set it on level 2 and off I go. Got my water, got my mp3 player, got my towel. I’m golden!

Two minutes in, I bump it up to level 3. I AM WOMAN HEAR ME ROAR.

Five minutes later the clock has ceased to function. It has to be out of whack. How can time be passing this slowly? They just don’t make clocks like they used to.

Five minutes later a bead of sweat has actually formed on my right temple and slid down the side of my face. I am nearly panting, and my quadriceps are burning. I trudge on. I trudge on, and I turn it back down to level 2. The shame of turning it back down pales in comparison with the shame of someone having to break out the AED to resuscitate me.

Three minutes after that I pause the machine for a minute. That’s all it lets you pause it for! One minute! Gah! What sadist designed this horrible thing?

Three minutes later I pause it again. My HANDS are sweating. My palms — MY palms — are slimy with common, revolting SWEAT.

I just didn’t know it was going to be this sweaty.

Also, the clock has all but ceased to function. I calculate whether I have the strength to lob my mp3 player at it to shock it back into working, but decide that I probably don’t since I can barely lift my water bottle in my disgusting slippery hand to take a drink.

Finally I reach the magic twenty minute mark, and I dismount and wipe down the horrible machine. Time for the treadmill! The Bataan death march would be preferable to doing more time on the DeathClimber, so I’m all but giddy with relief. I set it for some program or another, forest walk or similar. This turns out to be super dull so I change it to 5k loop or something. Still dull. But I slog on, sweating like a pig and wishing for sweet, sweet death. It’s taken me some time to get settled in and I have to leave by 7:20am, so I don’t get quite twenty minutes in on the treadmill, but I figure I’ve satisfied the spirit of the thing this first time out. I hike the fifteen miles of hilly parking lot to the car and hit the drive-through at the Starbucks.


Helga Lives!


So a year ago in the summer time The Lovely Rhonda and I were going to the gym and stuff, and it was all fine and good but then I started working nights and it so messed me up that I stopped going.  I was so exhausted and sick from working nights that exertion made me nauseous.  Plus I was super grumpy.

Finally I’ve started going again, and I’ve once again engaged a personal trainer at the gym.  He’s quite nice and his name is Andy and I think I will work well with him.  He’s enthusiastic without being obnoxiously perky.

At any rate, in keeping with tradition I’ll be referring to him as Helga.  I’ve decided that all personal trainers are named Helga regardless of their nationality.  Or gender.  They are all channeling an East German swim coach who eats muesli and yogurt and goes for healthful marches about the countryside, braiding flower garlands and singing anthems of some kind all the while.  Helga is sturdy, no-nonsense, practical, and will dismiss your whining by snapping curtly, “VE HAFF VAYS UFF MAKINGK YOU SVEAT, FLABBY AMERICAN VIMP!”

So, Helga started me off pretty easy, and I grimace fondly each time I get in and out of the car.  Because my quadriceps are now made out of rubber.

Muesli, anyone?