Curling Anyone?

I wrote this earlier this year on my private blog, but it’s such a good introduction to Dean, I thought I’d post it for you.


For as long as I’ve known him, Dean has been fascinated — well, maybe obsessed — with curling. Yes, it snows in Maryland, where he’s from, but Maryland is south of the Mason Dixon line and is, at least according to Dean’s dad, in the south. Curling isn’t exactly a cultural norm in the south. And in curling’s case, the south is actually anywhere below Canada, so how and when Dean’s affection for the game — which he’s never played — started, I really don’t know. But there it is. There. It. Is.

(I’m using the word ‘game,’ by the way, in deference to my sister. She’s the only athlete in my family — a damn good one — and she has certain, let’s say, athletic sensibilities. Sensibilities brutally worn into shape by years of sweat, pain and glory, pushing her body to perform in ever stronger, smarter ways, with greater flexibility, agility, endurance, etc. Should you, in your lazy ignorance and unforgivable naivete suggest that curling is a sport, my sister is likely to launch her impeccably-tuned body at your throat and rip out your jugular. Never mind that it’s in the Olympics. A stupid, inexplicable lapse in the IOC’s judgment that borders on being an international atrocity. So, OK. Curling is a game.)

There is some logic to Dean’s attraction (not that that’s remotely required for Dean to be obsessed with something). He likes aiming games. Pool, bowling, darts. Quarters. And curling has the added appeal of being just a little bit ridiculous. Sweeping the ice like mad to keep the stone moving. Intentionally making one foot super slippery on the ice. Really, it’s perfect for him.

So, it wasn’t all that surprising when he asked me if I’d go curling with him.Well, wait a minute. Let me restate that. It wasn’t surprising that, in theory, he wanted to go, or that, in theory, he wanted me to go. When it became evident this wasn’t a theory, THAT was surprising.

Turns out, there’s an ice rink in the valley where we live, only about 15 minutes away, and they have a curling club. With members. Devoted members. Teaching members.

Apparently, curling enjoys a surge in popularity in the south during the winter Olympics. Those in the know say it happens every time. So, the Hollywood Curling Club (whose rink is nowhere near Hollywood) offers several clinics in the weeks before, during and right after the games. (Funny that expression — “the games.” Shouldn’t it be “the sports?”)

Dean would have been crazy gung-ho to go no matter what. But then a little poking around revealed that there is such a thing as accessible curling. In fact, the US has a paralympic team (sorry, Tash). The rules are a little different (no sweepers and disabled curlers use a stick to push the stone) but it’s an established version of the game and — hold on, here it comes — the club in the Valley has all the equipment and TEACHES this version! OH, YEAH! It was a done deal.

Since the clinics are on Sundays, Dean asked if we could go for some date day. Sure. No sweat. I’m not the least interested in curling, myself, but what the hell. We’ll give it a try.

Then it became evident that the Sunday in question was Valentine’s Day. Hmmmmmmmm. When date day falls on a holiday, especially one devoted to the couple, does one partner still get to pick the activity? What if it’s the boy and he wants to go curling??

Apparently, I’m just not that attached to how Valentine’s Day gets commemorated. Last year, we went out to dinner, not to a fancy, romantic restaurant but to Dean’s choice — Professor Hogley Wogley’s Tyler, Texas BBQ, where bibs are required and if you want a vegetable, you better bring it. The food (aka meat) is great and we had fun sitting next to each other in the booth, sucking down really good BBQ and licking our fingers. (Our own.) (Not each other’s.) Curling certainly wasn’t something I’d ever considered doing on Valentine’s Day (or any other day, for that matter), but why not?

So after raspberry brownies, 7 cards (another one turned up inside my computer), breakfast, snuggling and movies, we went curling.

It’s a lot harder than it looks. People were falling all over the ice. And the stone is bloody heavy. It weighs more than 40 pounds. The first dozen times I tried pushing it with the stick, I couldn’t even get it into play, much less into the zone where you score! (Which is called the house.) (I could sense you were dying to know.) And my arm was killing me. My arm. My not-exactly-weak, pushes-a-wheelchair-all-day arm. And then I thought, my arm. My not-exactly-weak, HAS-to-push-a-wheelchair-all-day arm. Can you see it? Me, the next day, wheeling around in circles, my right arm hanging lifeless at my side.

Dean was having a similar problem with his left, butt cheek. Able-bodied curling requires this crouch and slide action, and though he was mighty graceful (see stunning picture below), his ass wasn’t exactly happy. By the end of the night, we had between us only three working limbs and four frozen fingers. But, I have to admit, it was fun. And we both improved a lot.

As it turned out, I’d been practicing on a length of ice in between two groomed curling lanes, so the ice was much rougher. When I finally got in an actual lane, the massive shove I’d been perfecting shot the stone not only into the house but through it and beyond, right out of play. I spent the rest of the night learning how to pull back.

There are actually a million tricks to learn, all kinds of ways of finessing the stone, but I’m not sure my attention for curling will hold. As a disabled curler, there is less for me to do on the ice which means a lot of sitting around doing nothing, and I can think of much warmer places to do that. But, we’ll see. I know Dean wants to go back (“They have leagues!“). Who knows. Maybe curling will become our thing. At least every other Sunday.

Dean CurlingLyena Curling

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Ask Me Something Simpler

Had to get up at 6am this morning. Even in the best of circumstances, that’s the middle of the night, as far as I’m concerned. And I had trouble falling asleep last night. Ugh… Bad day.

Before heading out the door an hour and a half later, I scanned the fridge and found delicious cauliflower/dill soup and some leftover beet greens. I threw them together in a bowl with some freshly boiled quinoa… Total yum. A-ha… Good day.

Six blocks from home and three bites into my breakfast, I slammed on my brakes, sending bowl and breakfast flying, porridge all over the floor and interior of the car. Yeah… Bad day.

I did not hit the car in front of me. I did not get hit by the car behind me. OK, good day.

Despite allowing an entire extra hour to get to my appointment during morning commute, I was late. So late, I didn’t have time to pee before the appointment. Potentially REALLY bad day.

An hour later, I made for the bathroom and discovered my bladder had spared me, for once. My clothes were dry. I had a nice, long pee. Good day.

Back at my car, scraping up the porridge puddle, I found copious splatter underneath the steering column, and a wilted, semi-desiccated beet stem draped over the brake pedal. I couldn’t reach that far into the car and had to leave it all there. Indeed, a bad day.

Then I was rudely reminded that beet stems come from, well, beets, when the stems left pink splotches on the grey upholstery of my car. Increasingly bad day.

I was, of course, starving by then and found a little Mexican place a few blocks away. On the wall, there was a framed article touting the food. Encouraged, I ordered a grilled veggie burrito. I loaded back into my car and (parked) took a bite of my burrito. Well-seasoned rice, guacamole, cheese, some tomato… Quite delicious. Mmmmm, a good day.

A few bites in, it became clear they forgot the vegetables. I’d already loaded in and out of my car 3 times and now it was raining. Unable to convince myself to unload again, I ate the rest of my rice burrito and waited for my stomach to bloat. An unfortunate, bad day.

Getting on the freeway, I spotted a hawk sitting motionless on the top of a pole encircled by the on-ramp. Hawks are special to me, some would call them my totem animal. His presence, especially in this ultra urban place, felt like a gift. A very, very good day.

As I headed north, the rain got harder and harder. Visibility dropped a ton and everyone slowed way down. I kept catching myself gripping the steering wheel. A crappy, bad day.

My favorite Led Zeppelin song came on the radio (Fool in the Rain, wouldn’t you know). I blasted the music, my sternum vibrating with the bass drum. A fine, good day.

Two hours later, I was still on the road. It was the middle of the day and traffic was just crawling. My day was eight hours old and I’d spent four of them driving. I couldn’t decide if I should pull my hair out or cry. Just a tiresome, bad day.

About ten miles from home, the freeway finally opened up and I spotted another hawk atop another pole. It was a two hawk day. A truly excellent day.

Rolling from our parking lot to our apartment, a gust of wind blew back my hood while simultaneously blowing a bucket full of water off the roof, onto my head. Yes, a ridiculously bad day.

Soggy on the ramp outside our front door, I imagined Dean greeting me, as he sometimes does, on his knees just inside the door, welcoming me eye-to-eye, arms open for a hug. A huge smile took over my face. Such a good day.

I opened the door and found Dean not in the entryway but in the office, on a business call, his back to me, too involved to even nod hello. Sigh… Kind of a bad day.

I wheeled to the kitchen and had a big glass of fresh, cool water and a juicy, red bell pepper, which I bit into whole. Not such a bad day.

Then, I suddenly realized I hadn’t peed in more than four hours. Dammit. This time I was sure to be soaked. A truly bad day.

Yet once again, I was totally dry. Will wonders never cease? A miraculous, good day.

And people wonder why I find ‘How was your day?’ such a complicated question.

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Blink, Blink

All we wanted was a little time together. OK. A little sexy time. But that doesn’t seem like too much to ask for a happily married couple. Unless…

… they have a baby.

Last night, Aidan went to sleep like he usually does around 7:30. There wasn’t much fuss and, contrary to his norm, he didn’t wake up at the 30 minute mark asking for help to go back to sleep. Dean and I had a nice dinner together, watched a little TV and, at 9, discovered ourselves in a rare circumstance.

The baby was sleeping soundly, we had both stopped working for the day, and it was early enough that we both had a bit of energy. Woo HOO! You can guess what that meant.

Dean ducked into the bathroom to shave, we both had a pee and brushed teeth, I downed my meds and vitamins, and quietly, stealth-fully, we went into the bedroom.

And there he was, our little Aidan, sprawled wider than any 10-month old could be, on my side of the bed.

Quick like bunnies, Dean and I cleared out his bassinet (the one he never sleeps in) and built a barricade around its walls (because he’s big enough now to stand up and topple himself right out). Then, the moment of truth.

I should say that we have, at least a couple of times before, successfully picked up Aidan while he was asleep and transferred him to a different sleeping surface. So, it wasn’t an ABSOLUTE given that our evening was about to take a sad, sad turn.

Dean gently bent over Aidan, scooped him up, and put him in the bassinet. Aidan stretched, quietly rolled onto his back and – blink, blink – stared at him.

Shit.

But there was still a chance. Dean laid a hand on Aidan’s belly, made the sh-sh-sh sound that Aidan likes, and waited.

Aidan rolled onto his side, took a deep breath… and sat up.

Shit shit.

Dean picked him up and started walking around the room, singing his standard medley of please-go-to-sleep songs. Since I was still optimistic (how foolish the desperate), I transferred onto the bed to relax and await my beloved.

I got Aidan instead.

SHIT.

Once he’d seen me, go-to-sleep songs just wouldn’t do. It was breast or nothing. So, Dean handed him over, then lied down next to me to awaithis beloved.

And wait, he did.

Aidan nursed for a bit, then rolled off the breast, came sitting and started looking around. Wide awake.

OK. Do not engage. Do not talk to him. Do not play with him. Do not smile at him. In fact, short of keeping him from falling off the bed, do not pay attention to him at all.

Didn’t matter. He was perfectly content to entertain himself with nothing but the air around him. Which might have been fine except he was only content on our bed. If I put him in the bassinet, he cried and climbed out.

Surely he’d eventually get tired and go to sleep, no? Any reasonable baby, without toys or parental attention, in what was for him, the middle of the night, would get tired and go back to sleep, right?

Wrong.

Ninety minutes later, 9 – 0, Aidan was still awake and crawling around. Dean looked at me and said, “Gaffers tape?”

Then… Aidan had an enormous poop. I swear I heard Reba look up from the other room.

Dean and I looked at each other. My face said, “Just shoot me.” His face said, “Do you think we can leave him in it?”

There was nothing to do but admit it. It was over. Dean and I had, at different times, both dozed off, it was 11 o’clock, Aidan needed a change, and I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore. Seriously. Shit.

So we took care of Aidan, took Reba out one last time, and all crawled into bed. Aidan nursed while I silently bitched about having neither sleep nor sex by 11 o’clock. And as I drifted off, mercifully quickly, I noticed in my last conscious moment that Aidan had fallen asleep.

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One Problem Solved…

… and the rest topple like dominoes.

Yesterday, I picked up a Baby Bjorn carrier from a friend of ours. She hated it, so it came to us in terrific condition, sporty in red and black (because how it looks is everything).

There’s all kinds of controversy, apparently, about the Bjorn (and split leg carriers, in general). Some concern about the way the baby hangs and the pressure on his spine and the angle of his hips… In the words of a great Evo video (and my husband when, as a guy I’d just met and didn’t like, he wanted to date me and I gave him a dozen reasons why that wasn’t going to happen), “I DON’T CARE.”

The thing WORKS!

We tried it out yesterday — It doesn’t take a hundred years to put on; it’s not too hot; it keeps Aidan securely on my body; he doesn’t scream while he’s in it; I can get it on and off, and him in and out, by myself; it distributes his weight evenly across my shoulders and back; it fits my seated body. I’m telling you… It’s a miracle.

Best of all, it’s secure enough to facilitate a whole host of other things. I can move him throughout the house with ease. I can toast gluten-free frozen waffles, slather them in almond butter and strawberry fruit spread, feed the dog and fill her water bowl, all while WEARING Aidan. And get this… I can leave the apartment.

The ramp at my front door was a big test, but he’s secure enough that I could navigate the little lip going out and I could lean forward enough to get up the ramp independently. I cannot impress upon you enough how HUGE this is. Up AND down the ramp. By myself. WITH the baby. Am I making myself clear here?

Of course, we were too excited to stop there, so we went on a family walk. Usually I take Reba and Dean takes Aidan but, yesterday, we switched. I was able to navigate the crummy sidewalk in my neighborhood, get up the curb cuts (even the really steep one at Chandler and Colfax)… I could do it all. Of course, it only took about two blocks for my arms to register the extra 15 pounds on my lap but did I care? NO! Onward! We did our entire route, much to everyone’s satisfaction.

And while that would have been enough, and stopping there might have been an appropriately gentle-pace thing to do, GENTLE BE DAMNED. When we got home, we went straight to the car. Could I transfer into the car wearing the baby?

This is important because if I could, it might very well solve the intractable car seat problem. I’d no longer have to find a way to lean forward while holding Aidan. I could just transfer in, putting myself close enough to the car seat to get him into it without issue.

Yes, my dear friends, we got into the car. Aidan got jostled a bit. In fact, he leans a lot to the side while I’m moving. But he didn’t mind at all. And he’s secure. He can’t fall out. So, as long as he doesn’t mind, and it’s safe for both of us, we’re set! I didn’t actually put him in the car seat or drive anywhere (I’m doing this at a gentle pace, you know), but it’s looking good for independent travel.

This morning, Aidan was up early and Dean hadn’t gotten much sleep. Since I had, I offered to take the baby.

I got him off the bed with greater ease than usual (without a carrier), got him changed and dressed, and we suited up. We let Reba out of her kennel, got her leashed and collared, took her out for a pee and a poop, dumped the poop in the back, made breakfast, and settled on the couch for mama milk and waffles (for him and me, respectively). It was as close to bliss as an ordinary morning can achieve.

Of course, the concerns people have about the Bjorn do, in principle matter to me. In fact, Dean and I have been having an ongoing debate about the safety of the Ergo split-leg carrier he currently prefers. But in the case of the Bjorn as I use it, I don’t think there’s much to worry about.

Aidan doesn’t hang in the carrier. He’s resting, actually, on my lap. So, there’s not much if any pressure on his crotch. His legs are split, but he doesn’t spend hours like that and, again, there’s very little if any weight on his split hips. And, truly, if the Bjorn was as bad as some people say, Sweden would be full of bent, pained people needing hip replacements. So, I say Whooo-Hoooo for the Bjorn!

Aidan & Mama - Baby Bjorn

P.S. Don’t I kinda’ look like a turtle in the above pic? Breastfeeding might be taking off a bit too much weight. Hmmmmm. Where’s the chocolate?

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