Saturday, June 30, 2007

Z is for Zebra

It is more likely than not
that I will never
see a zebra in the wild.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Z is for Zamboni

Only four more days. The ice rink opens July 2 for six weeks.

I have been awaiting this day since they melted the ice mid-March, turning the space into an indoor soccer field. I miss skating. And I have never, ever ice skated in summer. What does one wear for a 50- to 75-degree differential?

This past year, ice skating proved to be the most wonderful break from my NordicTrack workouts. I would skate for one hour solid, then make myself go back to my workday, as with any other workout.

I am not any good. I can skate forward, fairly quickly, without falling. Occasionally, Fat Red Ant (remember her?) skates with me. Fat Red Ant used to teach figure skating. Chick can jump if she wants to. Someday maybe I’ll get up the nerve to let her really teach me how to skate backward.

The only time last winter that I didn’t get my full hour in was the day the ice was so beat up that rink officials felt they had to stop the action and bring out the Zamboni. I was only 10 minutes out, maybe, from the end of my hour, and I could have stayed, watched, and made up that time on the newly glassed surface. But I’m a boring, working-class adult who really didn’t have time, who honestly needed to move on and get to work, who needed to count her blessings that she had enough control over her tight schedule to get to the rink in the first place.

So it’s been years since I’ve watched a Zamboni (or its generic equivalent, the ice resurfacing machine) at work. And because I now have a second opportunity to use the word squeegee (see end of previous post, “Y is for Yesterday”), I would like to note that a Zamboni shaves the ice, dumps some water on it, then smooths it with a squeegee.

Skating out onto that smoothness is a joy, and I had many opportunities last season to be part of the deflowering of virgin (or nearly so) ice—even though I hadn’t seen the Zamboni make it so.

And here’s a bit of Alphabird trivia: I have a friend who has a sailboat christened Zamboni, a boat that has often been his Baltimore address.

Four more days. I can just hear that Zamboni engine turning over.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Y is for Yesterday

Yesterday I (almost) finished washing the windows.

In my interview of June 3, I stated that I had thirty-one windows to wash. I’d like to correct the record. I forgot to count a window I already did, one that lives in a storm door and changes places with its screen counterpart seasonally. So, that’s thirty-two. I also didn’t count the door by the storm door, which has a bunch of little windows in it. I’m going to count that as one, and call it thirty-three.

On Saturday, I washed twenty-six windows. I am very lucky in that—after replacing almost all the windows in the house in order to “conserve energy”—my windows tip in, so I’m not endangering my life too much in washing them, what with not having to wash them from the outside, although I can’t say I got away bruise-free, even so.

(And yes, in the name of tradition, I started the task with Prince, The Hits 1 and The Hits 2.)

After twenty windows, I had to lie down and put a pillow under my lumbar. Aging sucks.

Then yesterday, I did four windows. That’s thirty.

I completely bailed on dusting the blinds. So I’ve not quite 8 hours into the job.

The three windows that are left? Well, two are bigger “picture” windows, one on the front of the house, and one in the mudroom. (These two have never been replaced. Too expensive to think about.) The one in the mudroom has never really been washed on the outside because I don’t have a ladder. And when I borrow one, it’s never tall enough. I could wash the inside, though. Guess I’m just lazy. The one in the front, in Tim’s studio room, well, there’s this big drafting table I need to move. I could do that. But I have to borrow a ladder for the outside. So I’ll wait til then. Of course, my sister Alison just did a little landscaping for us, just put a few plants in right there, right outside, right in front of that window. Do I want to stick a ladder out there? I might hurt them.

The last window is a door window, in the kitchen, but the door has an incredibly heavy piece of furniture in front of it, and I’ve been home alone. That one will bug me, though. That one will have to happen.

For some reason, it had never before occurred to me to use a squeegee. Alison loaned me hers. It helped a little, and I love to say squeegee.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

X is for XX

I have been happy with this chromosomal arrangement. I’ve even become expert at the art of peeing outside.

The nature/nurture question is unanswerable. If I’d been born with a Y, would I be more daring and aggressive? Or would I continue to be an introvert, just stuck in a Y body instead of an X?

Of course, having a clitoris is fun.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

W is for Windows

Voice-over: Amidst swirl of rumors of impending window washing, Indigo Bunting has agreed to a press conference to address these rumors directly. She approaches the podium now.

Indigo Bunting: Good morning. It’s come to my attention that rumors abound regarding my annual window washing. Rather than let this get out of hand, I’ve decided that a free exchange with the press is the best approach to ward off any possible misunderstandings. One of the primary reasons for washing windows is to let in more light. With that, I welcome your questions.

New York Times: Ms. Bunting! Is it true you are about to embark on the annual washing of your windows?

Indigo Bunting: The truth is that I have begun to think about doing this. It’s become a matter of scheduling.

New York Times: Ms. Bunting, a followup. It’s already June. Isn’t it getting a little late?

Indigo Bunting: Not so much here in Vermont. I once made the mistake of washing my windows in early May, before the pollen had really settled. In a couple of days it was like I hadn’t washed them at all. I won’t ever do that again. I vowed then and there to never wash them before Memorial Day weekend.

BBC: Are you saying that after you washed them too early, you didn’t wash them again for more than an entire year, even though they were covered with pollen?

Indigo Bunting: That’s correct. I did not.

New York Post: But didn’t that tarnish your reputation as a homeowner?

Indigo Bunting: It may have. But the fact is, I’m very busy, and I don’t have time to be constantly washing windows.

Weekly World News: Busy with what?

Indigo Bunting: Work. Occasionally life beyond work.

Boston Herald: But if you’re working, couldn’t you afford to pay someone to wash your windows?

Indigo Bunting: It’s true I pay some people to do some things for me. But I can’t see adding windows to that list.

Fox News: Ms. Bunting, wouldn’t a professional do a better job?

Indigo Bunting: Yes. A much, much better job. I’m not very good at it, frankly.

Weekly World News: Is it a big job, Ms. Bunting?

Indigo Bunting: Yes. I have thirty-one windows to wash. And in the past, I’ve dusted the blinds too, one by one. It usually takes me three days working several hours per day.

NPR: Thirty-one windows? Isn’t that an awfully big house for two people?

Indigo Bunting: Maybe. But I have a home office, and my husband has a studio room, and we have a guest room, so it feels like just the right size for us. And it’s a Queen Anne Victorian—is that the proper terminology?—so it’s really all windows and doors. I feel like I’ve barely got any solid wall space, if you wanna know the truth.

USA Today: So it’s light and airy?

Indigo Bunting: Absolutely not. I don’t know how these Victorians managed to put in all these windows and still retain a sense of darkness. On the upside, of course, it is quite cold in the winter.

Washington Post: Isn’t it politically incorrect these days to live in a house that’s not energy efficient?

Indigo Bunting: Well, I’ve replaced almost every window. And we had insulation blown in. So we’re trying, but it will never be exactly cozy. That chimney won’t ever allow a working fireplace. We didn’t build a new house, though, which in itself is somewhat environmentally minded.

CNN: Ms. Bunting, it’s all well and good to think about washing windows. When are you planning to actually do it?

Indigo Bunting: Look. I don’t mean to sound defensive, but I’m absolutely swamped with work right now. I have hopes of Saturday next, June 9. That is, if it’s not raining.

Toronto Star: And if it is?

Indigo Bunting: I don’t know. I’m traveling the next weekend. It may get put off until the end of June. I’m hoping not.

Washington Times: Do you think it’s right to take a trip if your windows haven’t been washed?

Indigo Bunting: I’m not sure I can choose to think of it in terms of right or wrong.

Weekly World News: Why not? Why are you afraid to commit to an opinion here? Are you trying to hide something?

Indigo Bunting: Next question, please.

Rutland Herald: Ms. Bunting, have you ever considered dusting the blinds separately from washing the windows?

Indigo Bunting: Thank you for asking. Usually, because I’m already up on the ladder and I’ve already moved the furniture, I figure I might as well do the blinds. This year I’m seriously thinking of just washing the windows. Maybe I could finish in one day. I don’t have too many guests inspecting my blinds. At least I don’t think I do. I might be able to get away with it.

Reuters: Are some windows worse than others?

Indigo Bunting: Certainly any window facing the street is filthy. I do them first.

NPR: Do you have any window-washing rituals?

Indigo Bunting: I always play Prince at some point. I find his music quite motivating for this task. Each year I find myself thinking, Wow, this guy was a genius. Why don’t I listen to him more often?

USA Today: Everyone has sentimental window-washing memories. Can you share one of yours?

Indigo Bunting: A few years ago, I suddenly felt a strong need to be in touch with my friends Debbie and Lee, whom I hadn’t heard from in a long time. Because I knew where Lee worked and could find his e-mail address online, I got in touch with him first. Turns out they had broken up, and I had contacted him a few days before Debbie’s wedding! We scheduled a catchup conversation for during the wedding itself, a conversation that lasted two hours and was great fun. I was in the middle of washing windows when that happened. So I always think of Lee when window washing comes around. Come to think of it, that must have been the year I washed the windows too early.

Highlights for Children: Ms. Bunting, do you ever find yourself having fun while washing windows?

Indigo Bunting: Sometimes I actually get into a rhythm, and it’s a little bit fun. What it’s NOT is sitting in front of a computer editing copy. And I get to listen to music.

Portland Press Herald: Are you nervous?

Indigo Bunting: Definitely. This is a big chore. I’m afraid I have so much work to do that I won’t get the windows done. Or, if I do the windows, I won’t meet my deadlines. It seems I don’t have time to keep up with things. I used to have a blog, Alphabird, that I don’t have time to write anymore. It’s pathetic, really.