Sunday, May 9, 2010

Thoughts on Planting Iris

Got up with the birds this Mother’s Day and flew to the computer, chirping with ideas, prepared to write long and lovingly about the wonders of motherhood, the joys of giving birth and the pleasures of potty training (my kid’s are grown so we’re talking about bleached memories).

But the birds started chirping, the sound getting louder and more intrusive. Finally I got up from my desk, pulled open the blinds and peered into the dark. No birds on a branch, but the sound continued, louder. It came from the fireplace, which hasn’t been cleaned since winter. I got down in the settled ash, craned my head up the chimney. The buggers had built a nest, probably in the chimney cap, and were raising a family practically in my living room.

Back to the computer with blackened hands, an Internet search of chimney caps and how to evict squatters turns up this info and advice:

1. Without a cap, the rain will run into your fireplace and/or ruin your walls and ceilings.

2. Birds and other animals will enjoy the warmth of your chimney and possibly clog it with nests. The cap helps keep them out. (Not at my house.)

3. Metal chimneys are made of two or three layers of metal with air or insulation between them. Without a cap, water and moisture can get into these layers and cause premature failure of the chimney and other problems.

Problem: Mesh on chimney cap is too large and therefore nesters slip in undeterred. I check. At 4 a.m., on Sunday, Home Depot doesn’t open for two hours.

Solution: Coffee on the back patio.

Problem: The 20-30 somethings across the street are having a tiff. Yes, 4:30 a.m. is early or late for such wrangling on the front lawn, but, hey. I’m not here to take the inventory of other people’s children. Exchange went something like this: “Let me in you @#!%&.” “#$%! You!” “You piece of trailer trash!” “You don’t know anything about my life!” “I know you’re screwed up and selfish.” “%$$hole!” “Unlock this GD door or I’m calling Mom. Right now!” 4:30 a.m. Happy Mother’s Day! I’m glad my phone isn’t ringing.

Back inside, I settle into my office chair, slurp more coffee, contemplate making toast, think about yesterday’s pleasantries. My friend, Margaret, treated me to a spa foot massage, followed by pad thai at a quaint noodle shop. She took me to a part of town I didn’t even know existed, pulled into a non-descript strip mall with random nail shops, trinket stores, herbal centers and a lame duck barbecue place.

We slipped into Happy Day Spa http://www.sachappydayspa.com/ and found a darkened room with about 30 towel-covered recliners and a very large tranquility pool with a splash feature the size of Havasu Falls. Each chair was occupied, each client being attended to by an Asian masseuse. Speakers piped soothing piano riffs. I surrendered and Jack gave me a vigorous, thorough massage, one that occasionally required use of advanced Lamaze shout suppression techniques. (Childbirth classes still come in handy.)

To better understand what I’d been through, I looked up reflexology on the Internet and learned “foot massage has long been part of Chinese tradition and culture. It is believed that foot massage can not only maintain and promote health but also cure a variety of ailments. Foot massage is considered a form of relaxation and, to some extent, a luxury.” (Definitely the case with my budget, but I contemplate adding Happy Day Spa to my online bill pay program anyway.)

A report from the National Center for Biotechnology Information noted that with an improved economy, foot massage has become widely popular in China. For example, in Shanghai alone there are 1,300–2,000 foot massage facilities and the total number of foot massage workers in Shanghai is estimated to be close to 30 000. In Shenzhen, the booming city just north of Hong Kong, the number of foot massage facilities is estimated at 3,000–4,000, and the number of foot massage workers at more than 40,000. (Who knew foot massage is a major industry?)

Reflexology, I’m told on a New Age website, is an ancient Chinese technique in which specific pressure points (usually on the feet, but also on the hands and ears) are massaged in order to re-establish the flow of energy throughout the body. Relieves stress and releases energy and pressure. Reflexologists apply pressure on "reflex zones" found on the feet, hands and the ears, which are said to correspond to the different parts of the body. Application is done through thumb, finger and hand techniques.

But the website Quack Watch http://www.quackwatch.org/ warns reflexology is based on an absurd theory and has not been demonstrated to influence the course of any illness. Done gently, reflexology is a form of foot massage that may help people relax temporarily. (I’ll say. Heaven, even temporarily is a bargain at $20 an hour.)

According to the International Spa Assn. of Lexington, Ky., as of June 2008, there were 18,100 spas in United States. Spa growth from July 2007 to June 2008 was 24% and 1 in 4 Americans has been to a spa, leaving nearly $11 billion in cash at spa reception desks, which doesn’t include tips for deserving workers like Jack. (Does Warren Buffet know about this?)

The association says 86% of ISPA members are now offering a wider variety of 30-minute options, instead of traditional and pricier 60- or 90-minute sessions. While consumers continue to ponder the wisdom of pricey vacations and designer labels, many still see value in the sanctuary of the spa. Spa visits are up 58% over the same time last year, partly because of the more affordable treatments, said ISPA President Lynne McNees.

(TMI, way too much TMI. Computer research is giving me kinks in my neck and a reason to visit Happy Day Spa.)

By now, it’s getting on to 6 a.m. I stretch. More coffee and more thoughts about mothers. I hope my children are sleeping, grown men that they are. I think about my own mother, dead more than 20 years. I think about my sister, nieces and nephews, my granddaughter Ada (who’s coming from Wisconsin to visit in August) and the impending birth of my grandson Gavin at the end of June. I think about iris in late spring, about my sister-in-law Melanie and her mother Kay.



Melanie sent a facebook message the other day that included a photo of blooming iris and a thank-you to Kay for dividing the iris from her own garden, sharing them Melanie, providing beautiful continuity, one generation to the next. I suppose that’s the reason for Mother’s Day. Happy Day to everyone. Hope to see you at the spa!