June 14, 2010

Serenity... not so much

I belong to an exclusive sports club. Actually, not that exclusive since they'll let anyone in who is willing to pay their exorbitant monthly fee, but it's where Boris Becker sometimes plays tennis.

They offer a friendly staff, child care, horses, an upscale restaurant, state-of-the-art machines and all sorts of classes. Plus the odd Boris Becker sighting.

It's my one luxury.

My favorite classes are Fighting Fit, which involves lots of kicking and punching to music, and Monday yoga. I've taken a fair number of yoga classes by now and I can tell you that Caroline, the instuctor at my gym, is unusually good. She pushes you just the right amount, does a good balance between stretching and muscle work and speaks in a well-modulated Kathleen Turner voice that every famale yoga instructor should be required to have.

The only false note is the Iron Man class next door. As we yogis slowly and serenely greet the sun, focusing on our breath, we can hear Iron Man screaming, 'EEEEIIIINSSSS!!! ZWEIIIIIIIIIII!!!!!!! DREIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII!!!!! VIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERRRRR!!!!!!!'

Iron Man is a little soft spoken guy but he really gets excited during his class, which is hugely popular with extremely fit women who like being yelled at.

The most jarring part is at the end when we do our relaxation. We lie on the floor exhausted and sweating while the harp music plays and Caroline softly takes us through several mediation phases. . .

Caroline: Close your eyes and breathe deeply.


Caroline: Feel the sensation of relaxation traveling up your bodies, starting with your toes.


Caroline: Feel the stress leaving your body through your fingertips...


Caroline: Feel how you are one with everything. Feel the entire universe around you. Don't focus on anything. Let yourself go.


Contradictions and conflicting directions. Part of life, I guess.

June 5, 2010

On Family

Some of you may recall that K got a couple of hermit crabs for her last birthday: Lily and Emma. Lily was the smaller, intrepid one, Emma mostly just sulked. And a few weeks later, Emma dropped dead out of her shell, which was kind of sad and icky.

Lily toughed it out alone for a couple of months, burying herself for longer and longer periods, no longer her usual cheerful self. K largely ignored her but I worried because hermit crabs are social creatures. Finally I badgered Ralf into ordering two new crabs, which K named Bruno and Manuel.

Don't ask, I have no idea where these names came from.

Manuel has a long, thin shell and we rarely see him. Bruno is the easiest to find because he's gigantic. In the beginning I feared he'd eaten Lily, although hermit crabs aren't supposed to be cannibals, but she re-appears from time to time.

Because Bruno is too big to hide and fairly active (he bangs on the glass with his big claw when he wants something) I have grown unexpectedly fond of him. Not quite love, more like active good will.

Which is why when I saw his shell-less body lying lifeless I nearly cried.

But wait! It wasn't his body, it was just his skin, which he'd somehow peeled off entirely, eye stalks and all. The rest of him had crawled back into his shell to grow new skin. Apparently they do this periodically.

Because we have a personal connection, I felt interested and proud instead of completely grossed out, a bit like when one's child blows it's nose properly for the first time.

You'll be happy to know he's doing quite well.

The crabs are not our only pets. We also have a cheesecake-eating cat and the neighbor's bunnies are bunking with us for a couple of weeks. And I discovered yesterday that both of my children possess an impressive fur collection, i.e., a pile of cast-off fur from our own and various neighbor's pets.

My aunt started the trend when we visited her last year. As a parting gift to the girls she presented them each with a small tuft of fur from her angora cat.

You should have Ralf's face. . . it was glorious. I took the proud lead in the strange family competition that day, mwa ha ha ha ha!!!

You can't buy memories like that.

So that's our little nuclear family: mama, papa, kids, crabs, cat, various visiting animals and a growing pile of fur that will one day destroy our vacuum cleaner.
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