Category Archives: homemakering
Yesterday was the first day since the beginning of the ballet season that I haven’t had something scheduled that required leaving the house—or, well, technically, I did have a cirque rehearsal, but I was running a fever and decided that it would be prudent to stay home rather than passing my germs along to everyone else.
Same thing today: Monday is a day off ballet-wise, but a rehearsal day for a small group of us from cirque. We decided to cancel cirque rehearsal today, since of the three of us, one is away and one is ill (spoiler alert: it me). Meanwhile, it’s break week at FSB, home of the partnering class I’m taking on Monday nights.
I’m definitely not complaining about the extra day off, though. One of the things I’ve learned about myself is that I really need some measure of time alone in order to stay sane.
I’m not sure whether my need for solitude (ha, that makes it sound so much more studious and intentional!) is an inborn trait or a function of having spent a great deal of time alone when I was growing up, but that doesn’t really matter anyway. It is, as they say, what it is.
Anyway, this past month has been one long, unbroken stretch of work days—and though I love my work, I’m seriously grateful for a chance to come up for air, even though it’s purely a function of coming down with whatever bug is making the rounds (and even though I’ve spent most of this unexpected down time asleep).
So, anyway, I’ve been meaning to write about how I’m managing at the moment—I mean the nuts-and-bolts of it. Now seems as good a time as any.
First, here’s a look at my work schedule:
- Sunday: Cirque Rehearsal, 12-2
- Monday: Cirque Rehearsal, 5-7, partnering class 6:15-7:30 (in practice, to actually do both, I have to leave cirque rehearsal at 6 and miss the first 45 mins of partnering class, due to an hour long commute)
- Tuesday: Ballet, 10-3:30; Teaching, 4:40-7
- Wednesday: Ballet, 10-3:30, Teaching, 4:40-8:15
- Thursday: Ballet, 10-3:30
- Friday: Ballet, 10-3:30; GFD rehearsal, 5-7
- Saturday: Ballet, 10-4
My shortest commute is about 30 minutes. My longest (home to ballet) is about 90. FSB is on the way home from the ballet, which is helpful, but it’s still a good hour from FSB to home. (I actually rather like driving, but it’s also physically and mentally stressful, so I’m profoundly grateful to finally have a couple of days on which I don’t have to drive at all.)
I’ve also been working a good many one-off cirque gigs and substitute-teaching fairly frequently, which is good for my income, but obviously means more driving and more time away from home.
The upshot of this is that I have very little time to do household stuff, which has been a challenge for me.
I’m not going to say that I’m on top of everything at this point.
I’m so not, especially not when I’ve planned my week around having most of Monday free and I get called in to sub during the day. I’m not great at switching gears, so things get a little bumpy when that happens.
I am, however, hanging in there better than I anticipated.
With that in mind, are the tools I’m using to at least keep us mostly ticking over:
- The Magic Of The Slow-Cooker: It would be hard to overstate how handy a slow-cooker is in my current situation. D doesn’t really cook, and I often don’t really have time to really cook, either, right now. Our slow-cooker has the standard low-heat setting and a higher setting, so you can throw a bunch of stuff into it and come back 3 to 8 hours later, and you’ve got food. It’s also huge. In practice, this means that I can dump some stuff in on Sunday and Monday afternoons, jet off whatever rehearsal, and return to dinner already sorted. It also helps with the next point, which is…
- Batch Cooking: D doesn’t like to eat the same thing for more than a couple of meals in a row, so I used to regard batch cooking as fairly impractical for our situation. Then, it dawned on me that I can make different batch meals on two consecutive days and stick the leftovers in the fridge, and D can alternate between them when I’m not home (or when I’m just too cooked myself to bother). Fortunately, D is a man of fairly simple tastes, and is generally quite content with things like chili, stew, pulled bbq chicken, and so forth. When I’m actually home for dinner, I serve them with…
- Bagged Salads: …Which are also my go-to lunch. At any given time, at least one store will typically be running a special on the “chopped salad” kits that include lots of crunchy vegetables and come with dressing and toppings like sunflower seed kernels, freeze-dried sweetcorn, raisins, and so forth. Often, I find them on clearance for less than $2/bag. They don’t hang around in my fridge long enough to go off, so I grab lots of those. Usually, one bagged salad can feed me through two rehearsals, which means that a fairly healthy lunch runs between $1 and $1.50 per day. A second one usually makes up the bulk of my supper. I also go through a ton of…
- Greek Yogurt and Frozen Fruit: I buy large bags of frozen berries (on sale, whenever possible) and large tubs of Greek yogurt, but I still get through about $8 worth of yogurt and $4 worth of fruit each week. Still, $12/week isn’t bad for a high-quality top-up between rehearsal and teaching.
- Frozen Burritos: I like to make burritos in batches and throw a dozen or so into the freezer. When you get home from a long day dancing and teaching dance, it’s easy to nuke a couple and actually make a decent meal out of them.
- Apples: I’m out of apples right now, and it has made me keenly aware how much I depend on them. I like really crisp apples, preferably tart or semi-tart, so I buy large bags of Granny Smith, Jazz, and similar cultivars. Normally, I eat a couple of them with some toast for breakfast, and they get me through to lunch. Without them, I wind up eating twice as much yogurt and twice as much toast. Apples are filling, y’all. They also don’t require any…
- Dishes: okay, so here’s where I’m flummoxed. I manage my own dishes by using as few as possible washing each dish as soon as I’ve used it and simply reusing the same two cups all the time: one for hot drinks and one for cold (they get washed once a day or so). D doesn’t adhere to that practice, though, which means I’m left with a batch of dishes to hand-wash on the regular (out dishwasher is dead). I haven’t found an ideal time for that, which means that at the moment they get done basically just whenever. It’s not ideal, but it’s not the end of the world, either. The slow-cooker also helps, since I generally only make one-pot recipes, which means fewer dishes to wash.
I’m still struggling to keep on top of laundry. The challenge there is mainly that D wants his work clothes hung up as soon as they’re dry, which means babysitting the dryer. Maybe simply hanging those things up to dry in the first place would help, though. Socks and the like could still go through the dryer.
D has taken over some of the stuff I was doing—particularly the yard work—which does help, and he doesn’t hesitate to wrangle laundry as needed. In the past, when I had no regular income, it bothered me if he did that, because I felt like as long as I wasn’t bringing in any money, that should be my job. At this point I’ve got a regular income, so I’m learning to feel okay with that.
We still have way too much stuff, which means that I never feel like the house is tidy, because it’s literally impossible to put everything away. We’re discussing how to deal with that—it’s not something I can handle unilaterally, because most of the stuff in the house isn’t mine. I have, at any rate, begun reducing where I can.
So, basically, we’re getting through. I enjoy working on cirque shows, but I won’t be sad to finally have Sundays off for a bit once our current show is done.
I’m actually managing better than I expected to, thus far. Ideally, going forward, I hope to eventually figure out a way too schedule my life so I have at least one regular day off, for sanity’s sake (two would be even better). Likewise, I am at present considering the best way to reduce the amount of stuff in the house and prevent more stuff from accumulating in its place: in other words, a way of solving that problem that will be equally motivating to both of us.
Life as a performing artist is unlikely ever to be as routinely-scheduled as almost any other life in a modern Western economy, and I’m rather glad to discover that capable of handling that.
Anyway, we’re back to ballet tomorrow, so I’d better go wrangle.my ballet laundry. I’m planning to post a couple of my go-to slow-cooker recipes some time soon, as well, and to get back to posting semi-regularly about technique.
I’ve been babying a minor ankle sprain so it won’t turn into something worse before the Gale Force show at the end of the month, but it’s starting to feel a bit better, so yesterday I did some dishes and made some deodorant.
A] As previously established, I’m a sweaty beast, and using deodorant is simply the polite thing to do if your job involves manhandling other humans. It allows my partners to work with a merely sweaty beast instead of a sweaty, stanky beast.
Nobody … or, well, almost nobody wants to dance with someone who smells like an entire disappointment of teenage boys. Or, at least, not in this context.
- In case you’re wondering, this was an actual direction for a dance I’m learning right now: “Just really manhandle her” 😁 Apparently my natural partnering style is quite gentle 🤔
- I’m not sure what the right aggregate noun is, but I bet any number of parents would agree that “a disappointment of teenage boys” sounds about right … Or maybe a disagreement?
B] There’s a brand of deodorant that I really like that uses the same set of ingredients … But it costs $10/tube and I’m a bit skint, as it were. (America really needs to adopt the use of the word “skint.”)
C] It looked really easy, and I needed to accomplish something because I’ve been struggling of late. Like WM says, don’t even bother with a double-boiler. I made my batch right in a jelly jar.
I followed Wellnessmama’s recipe for share/coconut oil deodorant fairly exactly … which is to say that I was a bit cavalier with my measurements in that I didn’t obsessively level the shea butter or coconut oil.
Apparently I haven’t decided whether I want to smell French or Australian, because I added lavender and eucalyptus essential oils. That said, I kept the amounts very small, because strong scents are deeply unwelcome in the dance studio.
Anyway, here’s the end result:
It turns out that this formulation won’t stay solid in this climate (at least, not in a house without central aircon), so I’m going to remelt it and add more shae butter so I can transfer it to a deodorant dispenser tube.
That said, I tried it yesterday, and it works a treat. This is a deodorant rather than an antiperspirant, but I haven’t noticed that I’m any sweatier using this than I am using my usual commercial antiperspirant.
I might stay dryer using a “clinical strength” antiperspirant, but of late they tend to give me hives, which leaves me rather disinclined to use them.
I’m now wondering:
- Can I make deodorant out of cacao butter?
- If yes, will it just make me crave chocolate all day?
So that’s my next bit of DIY deodorant research.
I’ve got some reusable deodorant tubes that I’ll be using to make a portable final product, and I ordered some smaller-size tubes as well so I can make portable Shae butter bars and cacao butter bars to give away at Burning Man.
Shae butter is a fatty acid with lovely soothing qualities, but it remains solid even at pretty high ambient temperatures, which makes it the perfect antidote for Playa Foot, which is caused by the extremely alkaline dust of the dry lakebed that is the Playa.
I haven’t tried using cacao butter on the Playa, but I suspect it’ll be great, too. It stays harder than shae, however, so I might need to blend it with something like coconut oil to lower the melting point a little.
That said, cacao butter will happily melt if you leave it in a hot car, so maybe I’ll maybe some pure cacao bars so people can leave them in their hydration packs with less danger of creating a permanent chocolate-scented oilstain. Hmmm.
I’ll have to think about that one.
I already wrote this once, and WordPress did some glitchy thing and ate the post (like, ate it so hard that it’s not even in my trashed posts bin), so unfortunately you’re getting the short version, which will inevitably be way less clever than the original.
Anyway, I recently learned an important fact:
I also discovered that when you randomly want polenta for lunch, but you also want to eat, like, Before Someone Gets B*tchy, you can nuke yourself some Quick Grits and just add stuff.
Only … like … if you add a bouillon cube? Add it to the boiling water before you add the grits, and safe yourself the weirdness of a random encounter with a big chunk of undissolved bouillon.
You should probably take a similar approach if you’re using something like Better Than Bouillon, just to make sure it’s distributed evenly. (BTW, Better Than Bouillon is awesome.)
Anyway, here’s the recipe for this afternoon’s lunch.
- 1 & 1/3 cup boiling water (or broth)
- 1 cube of bouillon or equivalent (unless you started with broth)
- 3/4 cup quick grits (not regular, or you will be sorely disappointed)
- salt to taste (you can definitely skip it if you use bouillon)
- random cherry tomatoes
- the remaining edible leaves in an otherwise disreputable-looking bag of kale (spinach would work just as well)
- about a teaspoon of butter & olive oil blend
- one egg
- Boil the water or broth and (if necessary) pour it into a large microwave-safe bowl (1 qt/1 litre will do)
- If using bouillon, ADD IT NOW, not later ^-^’, and stir to dissolve
- Add the quick grits and salt (optional) to the liquid
- Stir again
- Microwave for 4-5 minutes. My microwave is, erm, gentle, and it takes about 4.5 minutes. Yours will probably be faster.
- Remove the grits from the microwave, add veggies, stir, and allow to stand
- If desired, nuke an egg (spray a small plate with cooking spray, crack the egg onto it, and put it in the microwave). In my microwave, this takes 30-60 seconds depending on the plate in question and how cold the plate is at the start.
- Slide the cooked egg onto the grits, add the butter blend if you want it, stir, and enjoy.
If you prefer not to use the microwave, just follow the package directions to make your quick grits on the stovetop, adding the bouillon (if desired) at the appropriate point (before you add the grits), then carry on as before.
You can, of course, also make this with Instant Grits, and you can use any other veggies you have on hand. Get creative! Tofu? Why not! Could it be …. SEITAN? Sure! Toss some ham in. Omit the veggies and make a sweet-savory version by adding butter and maple syrup. Chill it, slice it, and fry it! Branch out and try old-fashioned Hasty Pudding! It’s all you!
Oh, and if you decide to make regular (as in, Not Quick) polenta?
Know that no less an authority than Serious Eats’ Daniel Gritzer says you can ignore the “rules” about waiting ’til the liquid is boiling to add the cornmeal and then stirring constantly until it’s ready.
I keep promising to add photos to my Like Skillz posts, but then forgetting, so I’m going to try to stop making that promise. Maybe I’ll come back and add photos here, maybe I won’t.
This might be something you’re already doing. I might be the last person alive who hadn’t thought of this.
If you’re still wrestling with pillows every time you change your sheets, here’s something that might help.
When you fold your pillowcases, fold them inside-out.
(Since they’re likely to wind up inside-out when you yank them off your pillows in the first place, this can save a step in the washing/folding process, too!)
Then, when it’s time to put them onto your pillows, reach into an inside-out pillowcase and use the corners like hand-puppet mouths. (This isn’t as kinky as it sounds … but if you want to make it kinky, you do you, Boo!)
Bite down on the corners of your pillow. The pillowcase will probably bunch up on your arms: that’s fine; it actually makes the rest of the job easier.
Next, keep a firm grip on one corner while you use your other hand to start pulling the pillowcase up by its open edge, turning it right side-out as you go.
This is especially useful when you’re wrestling a really fat pillow or a floppy down or feather pillow. It’s also the easiest way to get duvet covers onto duvets, which is where I picked up the idea (which in turn transferred from putting on compression stockings).
Like I said, you’ve probably already figured this out. But if you haven’t, I hope it makes making your bed easier.
And if you’re in a place right now where making the bed and/or folding pillowcases isn’t really on the radar, that’s okay, too. There are way more important things in the world.
It’s been about a thousand years since I posted a recipe, but this one’s worth knowing about if you like tapioca. If you don’t like tapioca, on the other hand, you might hate this stuff.
Prep Time: ~5 minutes
Cook* Time: 1 – 8 hours
Who’ll Like It: Tapioca fans ❤
Who’ll Hate It: Tapioca haters XP
Best Uses: Dessert, Breakfast
Hardest Part: Remembering to buy the d**n Chia Seeds
Pairs Well With: Disorganized mornings; late-night cravings
*And by “cook,” I mean “stick it in the fridge and mostly ignore it”
The Actual Recipe
I’ve adapted this from a variety of similar recipes with similar goals. One of the best things about it is that it’s adaptable. Lactose intolerant? Use almond milk. Allergic to almonds? Try coconut milk. Hate coconut? Use rice milk. Don’t like artificial sweeteners? No worries; you can use sugar or agave or honey or maple syrup or…
Here’s What You’ll Need (for each serving)
- 1.5 tablespoons of chia seed (I’m using black chia seed because that’s what I’ve got, but white is fine, too)
- .5 tablespoon unsweetened coconut shreds (or powder)
- .5 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- 1-2 tsp sucralose
- ~.25 tsp coconut extract
- ~.25 tsp vanilla extract
Here’s What You Do
- Put everything except the chia into a small container with a lid (I’ve repurposed a glass jar that came with shredded cheese in it)
- Stir briefly
- Add the chia
- Whisk all the things briefly with a small whisk (a fork will work fine, too)
- Stick the lid on and stick that bad boy (or girl, or gender-nonbinary personage) in the fridge
- Chill for a minimum of 1 hour, but preferably more like overnight, then come back, stir, and stuff it into your maw
For even distribution of the chia seeds, I’ve been coming back 30 minutes into the chill time to re-whisk everything, but that step is optional.
Most of the recipes I’ve found for this use 1 cup of whatever milk-like product and 3 or 4 tablespoons of chia seeds, but when I made my first batch, I found that makes rather an enormous portion. I halved all the volumes to arrive at what seems, for me, like a more reasonable end product.
That said, you can definitely shove an entire 1-cup-of-milk portion of this into your face if you try hard enough.
- I’ve read that highly acidic ingredients can prevent the chia seeds from “gelling” adequately, so if you’re going to toss in orange juice, lemon curd, etc, you might want to do it right before you serve this up.
- If you eat this stuff after one hour, chances are good that it’ll still be a little loosey-goosey and a little crunchy. Don’t worry, though, you won’t die. Or, at any rate, I didn’t.
I entered the ingredients above into LoseIt’s recipe calculator, and here’s what it threw back:
I suspect that this would be really, really good with lemon curd … which, of course, I don’t happen to have on hand. Even better with berries (which I do have) and lemon curd.
As always, I’ll try to get some pix up here soon.
‘Til then, please enjoy this picture of me looking disconcertingly like a young George “Dubya” Bush on the trapeze:
And also this one of “splits down,” just because:
This week, the days seem unbelievably long. I just basically seem to have SO FREAKING MUCH TIME (First World Problems again).
It just occurred to me that there’s a reason for that: last week, there was an awful lot of running off to rehearsal and class and that TV news thing; this week, there’s … well, there’s class?
Class and housework. Some technologizing in the margins.
I’m fine with that. I’m really not complaining. It’s actually pretty nice—it’s just weird and surprising how spacious this week feels after last week’s compressed, frenetic schedule.
You would think I’d have figured it out by now; that I’d have been around this block enough times to be able to predict that, hey, this week is way less busy than last week so it’s going to feel luxuriously slow, but nope. I haven’t figured that out yet, apparently.
My brain is on a break, or I’d try to draw some really intelligent correlation between this kind of experiential relativity and Einstein’s relativity. Like, I feel the germ of an idea kicking around in there, but I can’t quite seem to get hold of it.
Anyway, this morning I did barre and adagio, then made my excuses (foot, as usual >.<). Killer B gave me a correction that made my arms look awesome: keep the shape of the arm as is, but imagine that you’re pressing the whole thing down against something.
Curiously, what this accomplishes is not arms that collapse, but arms that look strong and shoulders that stay open and down and back and all that good stuff (read: all the other stuff BW regularly reminds me to do ^-^).
Basically, it’s like when you’re a little kid in those swimmy things (they still make them—who knew?!) that go on your arms, and you’re using your lats to push them down against the water so they push you up. Maybe normal people don’t do that, but during my Swimmies-wearing phase, I totally did (in my defense, I was 2.5-3 years old) because I liked being able to go Boing!Boing!Boing! in the water, usually whilst my grandparents’ German Shepherd/Alsatian looked on with a heckin concern.
- We also had those floaty swimsuit things that make you look like some kind of undernourished koopa: basically, an aquatic romper with what was essentially a couple of small kickboards—one in front and one in back, if memory serves—sewn between two layers of lycra. Mine was initially too big and would ride up and bonk me in the chin and chafe my armpits. By the time I was the right size, I already knew how to swim well enough not to need it.
- For those in the US who are not dog nerds who spent too much of their formative years reading dog books from the UK, German Shepherd = Alsatian.
Anyway, here’s a bunch of pictures taken (JUST NOW!!!) with D’s late-90s-era webcam (seriously, this thing is geriatric in tech years, though it still does the job) that more or less illustrate the point:
In case you’re wondering, this is my office/guest room, where I’m in the midst of catching up on the laundry after last week’s scheduling madness.
The really interesting thing is that I didn’t actually change the angle of my arm between the first and second shot in any of the sets: engaging my lats moved my entire shoulder joint.
That said, I don’t think pix 5 and 6 are great illustrations of anything except the fact that engaging your lats makes your neck look longer.
Picture 7, meanwhile, is just silliness for its own sake.
I’ll have to try to get better pictures of this effect next time I’m in the studio. It was hard to get enough of my body in the frame and still be able to click the mouse (I appreciate voice-activation so much more right now, you guys). I would’ve done better just to use my phone and email the pix to myself, but that seemed like too much work.
One of these days, I’ll try to see if I can get D to take a picture of what this looks like from the back, because I really feel it right below the margins of my scapulae/shoulder-blades/wing-bones, and I suspect that it’s probably quite visible.
I am not, however, very good at taking pictures of my own back.
*Honestly, I’ve lost count, so they’re all to be number 8 from here on out because #dancermath
You might be a dancer if you get home from rehearsal, decide you’re too tired to fold the already-clean laundry, but then put your Ballet stuff in the washing machine and stay up ’til it’s done so you can hang it up (because #priorities).
D installed new cabinets in our kitchen some while before I arrived in his life.
He bought them as a lot, rather than having them custom-built, because he’s the frugal kind of person who does that kind of thing and makes it work (I love that about him).
Anyway, I think our cabinets were originally intended for a more typically-sized and -laid out kitchen. This led to one significant problem: a deep, inaccessible well in a corner where two cabinets should connect, but don’t.
I’ve dealt with the problem, thus far, by shoving things I rarely use into that deep, dark well.
This is all (ahem) well and good until I actually do need to use them. Then, it’s a giant pain in the neck to pull everything out of the near end of the cabinet so I can fish around in the far end, hoping against hope that nothing with big, sharp teeth is hiding in there(1).
- Okay, it’s fairly unlikely that there are, say, badgers living in my cabinets, but there’s still something I instinctively dislike about shoving my arms into dark hidey-holes.
On the other hand, if anyone needs a secure place to stash the One Ring for a few decades, my Badger Cabinet is probably a good choice.
Anyway, I’ve been wracking my brain trying to come up with a better way to manage the Badger Cabinet, and I think I’ve finally figured something out thanks to a really expensive sliding spice rack.
Denis would almost certainly murder me if I spent nearly $80 on a sliding spice rack right now, or even $45 on the single-tier version that holds “large containers,” but he almost certainly(2) won’t murder me if I buy some appropriately-sized plastic or metal bins and some of those stick-on felt slidey feet, as long as I don’t spend too much money.
- I say almost certainly because D doesn’t understand my desire to organize things into easily-removable units. He has no problem with removing 15,000,000 individual small items in order to access one large item, probably because HE NEVER PUTS ANYTHING AWAY, EVER(3). /me stomps off in a huff
- Seriously, this is true. You should see his work bench But he makes up for it by his many other excellent qualities, like knowing how to do plumbing and already owning a Fancy Stand Mixer so I didn’t have to buy one ^.-
One set of bins could go up front, so rather than removing a bazillion individual bottles of miscellaneous oils, tins of baking powder, bags of baking soda (I have discovered that you can buy baking soda, which I use both for cooking and cleaning, in 2-pound bags), I’ll just have to remove a few bins.
The slidey feet will make it easier to get the the bins in the back out.
Et violà—no more sticking my poor, naked arms into potentially badger-infested dark holes.
I will have to measure our fancy stand mixer to confirm this, but it might even be possible to move the Fancy Stand Mixer (which currently lives atop the fridge, where I can’t reach it for fear of dropping it on my own head; that thing is heavy) to the cabinet, where I could potentially wrestle it free without risking cranial injury. Then I could actually use said Fancy Stand Mixer.
That or else I could move the Fancy Stand Mixer to the spot on the countertop where the SodaStream and several cookbooks currently live, then move those guys into the cabinet above or onto the top of the fridge.
I could even move all the random junk that lives in the large cabinet under the flatware drawer up into the Badger Cabinet and then use it to store things like the bread machine (also currently inaccessible due to its precarious perch atop the fridge) and possibly some of my loaf pans, cupcake molds, and so forth.
There’s also a Badger Cabinet on my stove. Right now, it holds all the muffin tins, loaf pans, and so forth, but they’re not very well organized. (Okay, really, they’re barely organized at all.) I have some plans to improve that situation; the challenge is finding the right parts. I’m thinking a combination of slim tension rods and some kind of heat-resistant shelf could work.
So there we have it. A possible solution for the Problem of the Badger Cabinet. I’ll check back in once I try implementing one of my possible solutions.
1. I Dream Of Turning
Last night, I dreamt very vividly about successfully attempting quadruple turns. I should probably note, though, that the class in question took place in something like a a church fellowship hall, we had to clear up folding tables and chairs first, and I accidentally stole some girl’s water.
But still, I hope the turns part will be like the dreams in which I sorted out Albrecht’s variation.
2. Things I Don’t Like About My House
- Low ceilings. 8-foot ceilings are sub-optimal for dancers, chandeliers, heat distribution in punishing Southern summers, and ceiling fans.
- Lack of cross-ventilation. This house was built after WW II, and the floor plan seems to assume central air conditioning. It does not have central aircon, however, and thus is a boiling misery even on days when a little proper cross-ventilation could solve the problem.
- Too much clutter. I find it hard to clean around clutter. D won’t get rid of his stuff, so instead I’m getting rid of mine bit by bit.
- Too many small rooms. There’s no reason a house this size should have a separate dining room at the expense of counter- and cabinet-space in the kitchen (which it too small even for a rolling island). If I make one major change to this house, it will be to knock out a couple completely-extraneous walls (they don’t even have have electrical outlets, let alone ductwork or structural importance) to join the kitchen and dining room. This will allow for a much better kitchen while still preserving a reasonable dining area.
- The location. Our neighborhood is not walkable at all by most people’s standards. By mine, it is unpleasant to walk in. This is one thing about the house that I can’t change.
- Edit: Oh, yeah—left out the thing that inspired this post in the first place. I really profoundly dislike the fact that the front door opens right into the living room. Full disclosure: I grew up in a pretty big house with an actual foyer. This is the only place I’ve lived that had an entry directly into the living room. It feels weird and exposed. Maybe that could be changed along with the kitchen, if we stick around long enough. On the other hand, it’s probably not worth it.
3. Things I Do Like About My House
- It’s a house. At the end of the day, that’s nothing to sneeze at.
- The kitchen, though tiny and not terribly efficient, is rather private. I actually used to hate that; I would find myself washing up after dinner and bitterly resenting the fact that D was relaxing in the living room, watching TV. Then I thought the problem through and realized that I could listen to documentaries or podcasts while working. Now my kitchen is really a haven for me; a place where I can both be alone (which, as an introvert, I desperately need) and get things done (which makes me happy).
- The port de bras mirror in the bathroom. There’s a huge mirror, probably 5 feet wide by four feet high, that takes up an entire wall (from the edge of the linen cabinet to the side wall of the house). This mirror is where I practice port de bras. This and video are why my arms look less stupid than they used to.
- The colors. D is not afraid of color, and as such we do not live in a sea of beige. Truth be told, this was also a factor in his making it past the Just Friends stage. The fear of color says a great deal about a person. I’d rather live with someone who decorates boldly and badly than with a timid soul who is afraid to decorate at all. Fortunately, D does it boldly and well.
- The world’s most efficient furnace. Seriously, the thing is dedicated and does its job insanely well. Our electric bill can be rather high in the summer, but it’s balanced by the ridiculously low gas bill in the winter.
- The mid-century main floor bathroom. For a long time, I thought I wanted to completely redo the main floor bath. The downstairs bath (technically a 3/4 bath, as it has a stand-up shower of the variety in which one whacks one’s elbows whilst shampooing one’s hair) is beautiful and modern, and I thought I wanted the main-floor bath to be beautiful and modern as well. However, as it stands, it has rather a charming mid-century modern feel that could be fully realized by replacing a few broken floor tiles, removing a seriously hideous set of shower doors, and repainting the walls. I haven’t decided whether to replace the shower doors with something period-appropriate or something more up-to-date, but unobtrusive.
- The window above the kitchen sink. US homes built before the 1970s almost always feature a window right above the kitchen sink. For some reason, newer homes often lack this feature. Few things say, “Homemakers don’t matter,” quite as effectively as staring at a blank, depressing wall whilst doing the washing-up. Fortunately, my house does not suffer from this.
So that’s today’s unusually-pedestrian post.
A bazillion (okay, six) years ago, when I was training in Muay Thai(1), there was a “How Do Armbar” meme that circulated the Mixed Martial Arts forums and made us all snicker uncontrollably and snorf our drinks at school and work.
- If you dance and are looking for an effective stand-up fighting game(because who isn’t, I guess?), I highly recommend Muay Thai, because A) it’s hella fun and B) your existing flexibility, rond-de-jambe, grand battement, and ridiculously powerful legs give you a totally unfair advantage starting out. Basically, Muay Thai is a lot like ballet, only when you kick people in the head (for which, btw, you use your shins, not your feet), it’s on purpose and sometimes they grin at you and your instructor gets all joyfully goggle-eyed. Also, you get to learn the arcane art of hand-wrapping and how to legitimately punch a mofo, should need arise. There is much less face-punching in ballet. Usually.
Anyway, I apologize for committing not only meme necromancy, but obscure meme necromancy, in my title.
Regarding which: OMG, you guys! Why did I never think of recycling worn-out socks into phone armbands?
It literally couldn’t be easier. Here’s the source (lots of other amazing Mixed Martial Homemaking stuff on this blog, too, by the way):
For dancers, this is probably also a good way to repurpose that pair of legwarmers that looked amazing at the store, but started unraveling as soon as you took them off after class (I’m looking at you, sparkly legwarmers.)
Because I can’t leave well enough alone, I think I’m going to work on a version that folds over at the top and buttons, because dance, amirite? No way my phone is going to stay in an unsecured sock-based armband during tombé-coupé-jeté. Not for a minute.
But this kind of thing could be incredibly useful for earphones-required rehearsals (Bluetooth earbuds are the best invention ever) and backstage warm-ups and everyday life (and running, and bike rides). Maybe I’ll sew them into pockets, too. Easy hand-sewing project, there. There are so many possibilities, here.
I may never have to wear actual trousers with actual pockets again!
In other news, I went and got my Pathetic Fanboy on last night, and it was so worth it (though the music for “Mother Ginger” always gets stuck in my head, presumably because #AncientAliens).
First, it’s weird watching The Nutcracker year after year and ticking off the parts you could actually do (and those you could do if you just had a reliable tombé-coupé-jeté: regarding which—in men’s technique, tombé in second to achieve maximum liftoff, apparently; forgot to mention that yesterday).
The last time I saw Nutcracker was two years ago. It was a totally different thing. I was really just climbing back into ballet, optimistically (and impatiently) forging my way back through all the stuff I’d learned as a kid. I had no experience of partnering. A lot of the men’s technique, in particular, still seemed further from my reach (let alone my grasp) than I cared to admit to myself.
This year, much of the choreography seemed reasonably in reach—partly thanks to simply having learned a lot, and partly because learning Albrecht’s variation taught me that I’m more capable than I think (though, like Albrecht’s variation, maybe I would have to learn things with single tours subbed in ’til I have solid doubles).
Anyway, watching BW dance was, as always, enlightening.
First, I think it may have given me some insight into nailing down my double cabriole, which is one of next year’s #BalletGoals.
Second, BW’s technique is beautiful and clean and classical. Likewise, he legitimately makes partnering look so natural and effortless that it could be the kind of thing that just happens while you’re walking down the street or what have you(2).
- I don’t recommend just, like, ambush-partnering people, though. That might be taken wrongly, all things considered. So, in short, don’t roll up to the bus stop and be like, “Greetings, my good lady/fellow/etc,” and loft people above your head. They really might not appreciate it.
And he seriously has the most beautiful legs. He has gigantor thighs like mine instead of sylph-like, Hallbergian ones, which rather flies in the face of our collective assumptions about what ballet bodies look like(3). They’re robust, yet so finely sculpted that you can practically see the individual muscle fibers(4, 5).
- Though maybe less so for people who don’t constantly simmer in a vat of ballet. Honestly, I’m pretty convinced that when the average American pictures a male ballet dancer, they always picture Baryshnikov, Nureyev, or possibly Carmen Miranda, although she was neither male nor a ballet dancer.
- To my great vexation, a month of sitting on my butt has largely de-sculpted mine #FirstWorldDancerProblems
- Also, no, I didn’t just spend the whole ballet creeping on BW, though it totally sounds like I did. White tights, you guys. They hide nothing(6).
- Which is why(7) we have dance belts.
- Well, that, hernias, and testicular torsion.
The other bit that seemed interesting: I noticed a few moments in which things subtly Didn’t Go According To Plan, and also why. I don’t know if that’s just a function of two years’ more experience and technique, or if it comes in part of watching painful video of myself dancing and thus learning to see why tiny error A leads to less tiny error B(8). Possibly both?
- As a whole, I think only one of these would have been visible to audience members who are neither dancers nor true balletomanes.
The second-act Sugar Plum pas de Deux wasn’t quite on form, though. I haven’t seen BR do classical partnering before, so I’m not sure if it’s not his thing or if it was just an off night.
The casting for Arabian seemed a bit strange. BB commented that this may have been intentional; our new AD is into pushing dancers out of their comfort zones.
Anyway, MK is the company’s resident Central Casting Classical Ballet Prince—and I mean that in a good way. That said, he’s not by nature the sinuous kind of mover the music demands. To my eye, he looked uncomfortable, and it translated into a stiff-ish performance.
His partner, on the other hand, was perfectly cast. If I remember correctly, she also danced Sugar Plum opposite BW’s cavalier in the other cast, though I can’t remember her initials right now to save my life.
Also, an errant paper snowflake drifted down from the rigging and upstaged (well, technically, downstaged) everyone during the last part of the pas de deux. If there had been, like, ten snowflakes, it wouldn’t have been quite as funny. Instead, it was just just the one snowflake that maybe was asleep or something during the snow scene.
Frankly, it was pretty hilarious, but I refrained from from laughing out out loud or narrating (“Omigosh, how did I miss my cue? Well, the show must go on—BANZAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIII!”).
On the other hand, no little kids waved to their parents. Apparently that happened once last year, and will now circulate in the Horror Story annals of the company and the school forever.
Of course, Nutcracker doesn’t close ’til the 22nd, so a wave could still roll in.
The flowers, on the other hand, were really lovely this year, as were the flutes or Merlitons or whatever they are in our production (I suppose I could go find my program?). Tea—a solo in this company—was playful and skilful, while Spanish chocolate—a quartet—danced with brilliance and playful flirtation.
On the whole, everything was beautiful and magical, as it should be. HUK shined as a very non-creepy Drosselmeyer, and one of my favorite dancers, SV, owned the Russian dance (our company’s rendition isn’t my favorite, but it’s still pretty fun).
So that was Nutcracker, and now it’s on to whatever’s next. I know The Sleeping Beauty is coming up, and I’m looking forward to that.