Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Crazy Event no. 412 in the Life of Donloree

One day I hope to be a decent runner. I want to pass people while racing instead of memorizing what all the people look like from behind. In order to help me on my quest to be a better runner, I joined a hardcore running club. We meet Tuesdays and Thursdays right after work just south of downtown. Our very in shape coach is great, but she has us do workouts that involve running up and down large hills – such as Connor’s hill and Grierson hill – and then we work on our speed while running up and down them. After we finish an hour of running all over the river valley, we go back to the community league to do core exercises, such as 'the plank’! If anyone is curious, I hate the plank…

Since I live in the arctic, there is ice everywhere which results in very dangerous running conditions at times – especially up and down hills! Due to the icy conditions of yesterday, our coach planned a workout that involved over 1,000 stairs, after all, the stairs weren’t icy…I managed all the stairs, and felt the very bottom of my lungs for the first time ever in my life. There was also an odd wheezing noise that came out whenever I would reach the top of the Hotel MacDonald stairs.

I usually hate doing the core exercises, but after that work out I was happy to do any exercise that involved lying on the floor! As we were finishing up with the plank, I saw Jon poke his beaming face into the room. He came to pick me up with tickets to go see Stephen and Avi Lewis at the Shaw Conference Centre – which started in 15 minutes! I quickly changed back into my work clothes and off we went to the Shaw. I was exhausted after running up and down the Hotel MacDonald stairs 3 times and the Crowne plaza stairs 5 times, but it isn’t very often that you get to see Stephen and Avi Lewis and ask them any question you want! So off we went in a hurry.

The event started at 7:00 and we didn’t leave the Riverdale Community league until 6:55, so we were obviously quite late. Once we got into the Shaw we started quickly down the escalators. The second set of escalators is ridiculously long and on my decent I somehow tripped and went flying forward and ended up sliding head first, face down on the supremely long escalator – my laptop bag leading the way. Jon noticed that I was no longer standing beside him and grabbed my ankle so I stopping sliding towards certain death. All I could think about was my hair getting sucked down the side of the escalator and ending up at the bottom of the Shaw Conference Centre with the stairs hitting me in the face. At that moment, I recalled a frightening story my grandma had told me about a little boy getting his foot sucked down the side of an escalator while she watched in horror. I sure didn’t want my whole body sucked down the side of the escalator, so I rolled awkwardly toward the middle, still going down head first. I was so tired and frightened that I all I could do was meekly say, “Help, help, help…”

Jon came to my rescue, he jumped over my body that was strewn over most of the escalator and hefted me right side up. He saved me riding the rest of the way down head first and arriving at the bottom like a beached whale in front of important people wearing nice suits. I ripped holes in my best pair of pants and have huge scrapes from the stairs up the whole right side of my body. I look like a red and cream zebra. The worst part is my shins – who knew an escalator could cause so much bruising and such deep cuts?

Once I could breathe normally and realized that I was going to live, I was just glad that we were late. If we had been on time, who knows what tragic thing would have happened? Are you familiar with the domino theory? After all of this, we continued on to the event, ripped pants and all. I am sure I looked quite disheveled. I managed to run up and down 1,000 stairs without tripping, apparently that 1,001st stair is a doozey.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Young, Poor and Stupid

Young, poor and stupid is a bad combination. If all three characteristics are present at one time, it can lead to severe and epic things happening in a person’s life! One or two of these qualities can be overcome with fortitude and help from older, wiser people in your life, BUT if you are like my husband and I were when we were first married, something crazy needs to happen to snap you out of this dangerous frame of mind.

Jon and I had been married for about 9 months when our ‘retro’ apartment complete with shag carpet, galley kitchen, paper thin walls and one tiny bedroom went up in rent from a reasonable $495 a month to $700 a month due to supposed renovations that were taking place. We found ourselves being slowly forced from our home due to our semi-impoverished state. For months we looked for a place that we could afford – we found nothing. Finally, after scouring the city, we found a TWO BEDROOM basement suite of a duplex for only $450 a month. It was larger and cheaper!! It felt as though we were moving into a castle. Although, it did resemble a mobile home since it was long and narrow and all the rooms went off to the left when you walked down the hallway...but there was no 40 year old shag carpet. I would feel free to take off my shoes while in my own home, what a treat!!

We burrowed into our little underground castle like two groundhogs, happy as ever to be beneath the crust of the earth, patiently waiting until spring to see our shadows. The windows were one of the more hilarious features of our new home. The ‘front windows’ were 1 foot from the ceiling and only about 18 inches tall, but stretched all 10 feet of the front room. I happily put up window treatments as though they were a full sized windows and hoped no one would notice. The 1 year old boy that lived upstairs loved my windows – after all they were at eye level for him when he was playing in the yard. It never ceased to amuse me when I was doing my dishes to see a set of chubby legs wander by and then bend over to reveal a beaming face that begged me to play with him. I knew he wanted me to come play whenever he would start to bang on the window and say “Duh, Duh, Duh!!” (Donloree is a hard name for small children, I decided my nickname of ‘Duh’ was given to me with love and just embraced it.)

When the spring thaw came that year, it came with gusto right into our living room, kitchen and dining room. It was as though we had a waterfall coming from under our kitchen sink. Waterfalls are a lovely and beautiful thing in nature, but not in your living room! We sopped up as much water as possible and tried to ward off the mildew that wanted to settle in. Our landlord, Howard, gave us some helpful advice, “Open up the windows and let the air blow through.” As if I didn’t think of that on my own. His lack of help should have been a sign to us, but we were young, poor and stupid.

That same summer, I hosted my in-laws at our new underground castle. It was a tight squeeze, but we put Jon’s grandma in our room and the other 5 of us found places to sleep wherever there was room. Let’s just say it was cozy… The first morning of their visit, I woke up in my living room, now bedroom and walked the 4 feet to the kitchen only to realize that my socks were suddenly soaking wet. During the night we had a heavy rainfall and the waterfall decided to reappear under the kitchen sink. After waking up the whole house with my loud announcement about the waterfall, I immediately dialed Howard. I was going to deal with him this time. Jon was obviously way too nice the last time nature decided to enter our home uninvited. This time Howard sent over someone to clean the carpet and dry it up for us – thank goodness someone dealt with him firmly! The rest of the time visiting with my in-laws involved dining with huge floor fans blowing our supper about and everyone walking around with their pant legs rolled up, but we made due.

One day, Howard decided to take some action against the waterfall that had taken up residence in our home. Apparently there was an issue with the weeping tiles in the foundation and some sort of protective webbing needed to be put down to keep the waterfall from reappearing. He approached us about taking care of the problem. All we needed to do was dig down to the bottom of the foundation of the house for about 12 feet, put down some of this protective webbing and then put all the dirt back into the massive hole. If we did that he would give us a month’s free rent - $450! So being as young, poor and stupid as we were, we agreed. After all, how hard could it be?

The next day Jon and a friend set out to find the bottom of the house while I was at work. I came home to find they had only made a few feet of progress. I was shocked at the slow progress they were making through the clay. Wouldn’t this be a one day project?! As the days and then the weeks went by, the hole slowly grew. I rather enjoyed the hole because Jon was at eye level with me while he was in the hole and I was in the kitchen. We would chat through the open kitchen window while he dug and I baked. Finally I heard a triumphant yell, “Weeping Tile!!” To the rest of the neighborhood it sounded like he had struck gold. I was so excited at the prospect of seeing the weeping tile that I pulled on my digging clothes and hopped in the hole with him. At this point the top of the hole was at my eyebrows. Jon and I dug like crazy to reveal all the weeping tiles we could find. As we neared completion, a movement on my left caught my attention. When I glanced over, I saw to my horror that the hole was starting to cave in on us. I immediately started to scream and claw my way out of the hole, which caused it to cave in even faster. I made such a huge commotion that the upstairs neighbors came running out and pulled me and Jon out just as the last bit of the hole fell in. We stood there in shock, unable to form proper sentences. It looked like a small earthquake had happened. We were mere seconds away from becoming artifacts for future generations to dig up!!

This event resulted in another terse call from Donloree to Howard. He immediately hired a professional digging company to do the job and they were finished in an afternoon. Even though we didn’t put the special webbing on the weeping tiles, we still got a month of free rent…mostly because I pointed out that we nearly died while in the hole.

Well, we were still young and poor, but not stupid – and it only took this:

to rid us of our stupidity.