Sunday, May 8, 2011

Living Left-handed: Day Seven

Today the housekeeper didn't show up to feed the animals. We had a pretty one-sided conversation yesterday in which I thought she said that she would be here..but I guess I really need to get better at Italian. Leif had a bike tour today. That left only me, the one-armed wonder, to feed the dogs and cats. Luckily these aren't animals that demand to be fed the instant their slaves, I mean owners, get up. They are perfectly content to sit in the sun and wait for me to decide I'm ready. Which is good, because there is prep work to be done, rice to cook and meat to parboil before they can eat. It went pretty good. I made sure the stock pot wasn't over my weight limit of my good hand. (this is an experiment, calling my left hand my "good" hand. I'm trying to encourage it to perform a little more smoothly by using positive reinforcement.) I used a "mostly" sharp knife to avoid accidental dismemberment, even though that is covered by my special health insurance.

Except for a small rice spill all went well. Just for your information, in case you didn't already know, even one grain of cooked, sticky rice is difficult to clean up with one hand. A normal person gets all the errant rice stuck to their less dexterous hand, holds it over the trash, and brushes wipes flings the rice off with the good hand. Even with two hands it's a pain in the ass. Yes? Once you have cooked rice stuck to your only hand all you can do is shake it madly and beat it against the edge of the trash can, hoping that the force of the impact will separate your hand from the rice. Ever seen those videos of cats trying to walk through water? I pretty much looked like that, with the occasional downward stroke at the edge of the can. My guess is they are going to find rice dried to their authentic rough-hewn beams on the ceiling and wonder how that happened.

Yesterday I decided I was finally comfortable enough with the cast, and pan-free enough, to attempt an actual shower. I was really looking forward to it, because as you might remember our hot water heater finally got replaced after I broke my elbow and I have yet to take a shower that can boast hot water for more than about 45 seconds. I got all my clean clothes together, grabbed a fresh towel from the stack in our room and climbed the (narrow) stairs to our bathroom. I looked at the shower in the corner and started to laugh.

Our shower/tub at home is a 6 foot model with doors that fold away against the wall. Plenty of space to maneuver around in and handy for situations like the one I find myself in now. The one here is the kind of shower that people see in a show room and think about all the floor space they are saving. And it's cute, don't get me wrong. Curved doors wrap around the shower space like a cocoon. A normal, reasonably flexible person can use it easily. But there is only about a foot and a half opening to enter and not much more space once you are in.

After some thought and mental calculations (not my strong suit) I decided there were two approaches I could take. I could enter cast first, which would allow me to keep it dry, but I wasn't sure if I could hold my arm up like the Statue of Liberty for longer than a minute. Well, not while turning on water, guiding the shower head to hit all the important spots and applying generous amounts of soap. If I dropped anything I would be screwed. I also wasn't certain that I could slide the door shut once I got in, or worse, open the door again once I was finished. The other option, entering body first and slowly turning to ease the cast in afterward would allow me to hold the arm lower but increased the chances of getting the cast wet by about a million percent. Really, all that hot water at my disposal and no space large enough to accommodate me and the cast. I had to laugh, what else could I do?

So I turned to consider my options and there was the bidet. I think everyone knows my reluctance to explore this alternative to the full shower or bath. But I refused to be beaten by this bathroom and quite frankly I was tired of feeling dirty. Between the broken elbow and the layer of dog hair I have been sporting lately, I just really need to smell like soap for once. I won't bore you with the details, but when I left the bathroom I was squeaky clean except for my hair. For all you bidet-lovers out there, I'm sure I didn't use it right. I didn't come away from the experience all starry eyed. Just clean.

I grabbed some shampoo from the shower (I could reach it without getting in. Yeah, the shower is that small.) and my towel and headed down to the kitchen. When all else fails there is always the kitchen sink. I got myself in position, turned on the water and started to wash. Well, I got everything wet, then realized that the shampoo I brought down wasn't shampoo but conditioner. Crap! I wasn't going to drag a headful of dripping wet hair up four flights of stairs so naturally I grabbed the first available soap-like soap. So now my hair is not just clean: it is grease-free and sanitized and smells kind of like cucumbers. I believe it was also an ecologically sound choice, if I am reading the bottle correctly.

The dogs are getting used to me so we are all getting along pretty good now. They bark less, run and play more and come by for affection a lot more. Since I was feeling so clean I thought they might like to pretty up a little bit too. No, I didn't give them baths. That would have been a disaster from start to soaking wet finish. But I did find a brush and they are still carrying around a good part f their winter undercoat. When I was young one of my chores on the farm was to brush the dogs every day in the spring to get rid of their winter coats. I spent hours a week brushing our collie and putting all the hair in that ubiquitous receptacle of my life - the Kemp's one gallon ice cream pail. They are good for everything you storage, carrying basket, toy box, barf pail. There is usually a stack of them as tall as me in my parent's basement and I rarely leave their house without taking something home with me, lovingly placed in a festive plastic pail. But I digress...the dogs today loved the attention and I kind of hoped brushing them would slow the migration of hair from their bodies to my clothing. Because I'm not really sure just how much dog hair a person can ingest and inhale before it becomes toxic. There must be a website out there with a calculator for this.

Other than that it has been pretty boring. Sunshine, birds singing happily, flowers blooming, gorgeous views, great food, fantastic wine..what? Did you just tell me to shut up? Don't despair, spring is coming I hear.

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