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Sunday, January 18, 2009

A Shovelful of Snow

The snow just kept coming and coming. We woke up this morning not to the alarm clock's barely audible beeps, but the "RRrrrrrr-thump" of the township's diligent snow truck plowing the road in front of our house (That's one of the joys of living on the sole access road into the neighborhood.Our driveway may be covered in 6 inches of the white stuff, but the road in front will always be a nice shiny black, generously sprinkled with road salt crystals.)

After getting the kids their breakfast ('Waffles or Lucky Charms? Omelettes? Sorry, we're out of eggs. Bagels, from Costco? Are you kidding? How are we going to drive out in the snow to get it?" Sighing, M and S shake the Lucky Charms and Cookie Crisps into their bowls.), I decide to get in on the 'activity bandwagon', trying out the brand new WiiFit game that my husband had been lucky enough to snag a week before it flew off the shelves at the aforementioned Costco.

Setup complete, I try the Yoga poses: Standing, half crescent, warrior pretty good, I suppose, considering that I spend 15 minutes on freestyle yoga every morning. But my tree pose shakes and shimmies, like a palm tree on a windy day. "You did put your foot down,didn't you", accused the Wiitrainer in her gentle monotone. "You need to build up the strength of your core muscles blah blah blah", as I click her off in the middle of her lecture.

Next, it's time for the balance games.'Try the Head the Ball game, Amma!' And suddenly, I find myself dodging not only soccer balls, but assorted flying shoes and panda heads. Methinks I know the secret of Dubya's agile avoidance of the shoes at the press conference, now. He must have been training well in advance for just such a situation!

Next, the Hula Hoop- what fun, at the risk of looking rather silly trying to move the hips in neat circles. Maybe I should get a real Hula hoop, that might be more challenging than just moving my hips.... Oh dear, this is getting quite exhausting, when is it going to be over, I'm just about ready to collapse. Get a real hoop? Perish the thought!

Alright, need to get thinking about what to do for lunch. I relinquish the Wiimote to the kids and head into the office for a cursory email check before I get started on making lunch. The email from the dance school said in essence "We're holding classes whether you make it here or not." Time to come up with a new plan, since I had been hoping for a cancellation due to snowy roads.
I threw the dal and spinach in the pressure cooker, the rice in the rice cooker, bundled up and set out to clear the driveway. Hubby was busy tapping away at his email, getting ready for another long conference call later. "Turn the stove off when you hear the pressure cooker whistle" I told him, as I went down to the garage.

Shovel, shovel, toil and trouble... My nose is dripping, the neighbors are waving cheerfully as they barrel down the road in their massive pickup trucks that presumably didn't need any cleared driveways, the driveway will likely take another month to clear... and all of a sudden, I've reached the end of the driveway, where the salty slush intersects with the pristine whiteness of the snow. Hubby opens the door: I look up hopefully. Will he offer to take my place?
"How many whistles before I turn off the pressure cooker?" To accentuate the point, he mimed one or three fingers.
I lift my hand and indicate one with my index finger. See, that was easy, and didn't require much self-control in the least ;)
I head back to the uncleared zone near my husband's side of the driveway and start slowly working on it, might as well finish that up, I supposed. Think of all the extra calories that I might be burning. Or maybe not, since pushing snow hardly qualifies as hard labor in comparison with bend-and-lift shovelling. The door opens once again. Hubby shouts "It didn't whistle yet!" I yelled back "Just turn it off!"
Driveway done, I trudge back in. M and S are chirping hungrily, exhausted after their morning snow battle and fort building activities, as well as Wii rounds earlier on. I make the dal, tamarind stew and set out the table in a record 15 minutes after getting back to the kitchen.

Who says Mom can't be a superwoman? I certainly felt like one after all that I managed to pack in the morning, plus the drive to the dance class after lunch.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Commuter Survival Tip # 345

Invest in a decent car audio system and CD player. Or as in my case, bring all those unused cassettes out of retirement and pop them into the sole working audiosaurus in my 12-year old car : a state of the art (in 1996) car cassette player.

It's how I learned to love my long commutes and stop complaining about it. There's something about the dulcet tones of Bombay Jayashri's "Inta sowkhya" in mellifluous raaga Kaapi that makes it work better than a morning cup of 'Kaapi' (Tamilized rendition of 'coffee', for those unfamiliar with the lingo.) Or the assertive "Okapari kokapari" with M.S. Subbulakshmi and the ever-faithful supporting voice of her stepdaughter Radha Viswanathan. Or a lulling 'Alaipayuthey kanna" by the Mellifluous Maharajapuram Santhanam (that's what I think it said on the ancient cassette cover that I dug up from the bowels of the dusty audio cupboard in our living room.)

Next up, I might even manage a full practice session, if I manage to snag a cassettized version of an electronic tampura sruti (drone). 1/2 hour of singing full voice (windows closed, naturally) in crawling traffic could do wonders for my voice practice and culture, and all the listening could not but improve my ear training.

I might even get to work on time, if I can make it past the dreams of future music concert grandeur...

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Reverse Midas Touch

I have the kind of touch that Bush has, but not as grand a scale- my reverse Midas touch pertains to devices, rather than nations. For all you know, some astrologer might opine "You are currently passing through a Kandam: Saturn is now retrograde in your 7th house and Mercury is in your 5th, explaining why devices/machines don't cooperate with you." (Disclaimer: All the last is purely made-up gibberish, I don't play astrologers on TV or the internet.)

It's a bonus in my line of work which involves testing devices, and works like a charm. You only have to have me in the same room as the device to make it malfunction. Even better, it will malfunction reliably so that it becomes easier to figure out what is causing the problem, which often turns out to be the sheer awe at my presence. Just kidding- It usually ends up being arcane problems with the way the device's session manager interacts with a variety of other servers and loggers clamoring for attention, much like the old woman in her shoe and her children*.

To get back to the main point,I turned the switch on the thermostat the other week to Off, since it was a warm day and turned the heat back on at night, as temperatures started dropping again. A couple of hours later, M was shedding her layers of clothes like onion peel, complaining she felt too warm. I walked into the family room (one of the warmest in the house) and the heat hit me like a blast, just like when you exit the airplane in Chennai after the icy cold air-conditioning on the 747.

A glance at the temperature showed the temperature, normally set to remain at 68 degrees (fahrenheit) was now 82 and rising.

"All I did was switch it off in the afternoon, and on in the evening", I protested.

Hubby shot me an accusing look. " I don't know what you did, but it's not working properly."

He turned it off before we went to bed and the next morning, we woke up to a freezing house. My teeth chattered as I got ready for work and shooed the kids off to school by their usual time. Then I left, ensconced in the cozy warmth of the car heater, for more battles with recalcitrant devices at work.

When I got back from work, all was hunky dory. I asked my husband, "What did you do?"

"I just turned it on again. It worked properly all day."

Thank goodness for the Midas touch.

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*There was an old woman who lived in a shoe.
She had so many children, she didn't know what to do.
She gave them some broth without any bread,
Then whipped them all soundly and put them to bed.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A Moment in Time

Yes, I know, it's a New Year. I confess to sleeping through its arrival last night.

This morning, on with the usual routine of humdrum daily life. Traffic jams resume in a few days time, the garbage still sits out on the snowcovered driveway, Mr. and Mrs.Cardinal stop by a birdfeeder that hasn't been replenished for days, the water in the bird bath frozen.

I go through my addressbook, thinking briefly of each recipient as I click to add their name to the list. It's a brief lingering, which might have been an extended musing and memory, had I been writing greeting cards. Maybe it's time to ditch the email and switch back to the snail mail greeting cards. But then, in the rushed life that I lead, it's just as well that I have the ability to instantly recall and send off last minute "Happy New Year" e-cards to everyone.

There's an ocean of good wishes out there today, let's delight in its waves, at least for today!

Happy New Year, dear readers!