blk: (bike)
Today I rode Pedal Pittsburgh's city tour. My goal was to ride the 100km (62mi) route for the first time ever. My second goal was to finish in time to hang out and get some beer at the finish line festival. My tertiary goal was to fail competently, with a smart bail plan. I succeeded at one of these!

I got up godawful early and started the route just after 7am with two friends who had promised to go slowly with me. The first 20 miles went without much incident, except that we dropped one of our three on the second big hill, because they weren't able to keep moving. Unfortunately, those first 20 miles took a good three hours, which put us on track to finish in... 9 hours. That length of a trip was not really in the plans, so we opted to skip the third big hill climb, and at 35 miles we ran back into our third (who had also skipped a big section) as well as a fourth who had been busy volunteering earlier. We set out to finish the 62, but within about 2 miles we collectively decided to switch over to the 25 mile route, which would save us about 10 miles on the rest of the route. Another ~7 miles and a hill later, it was getting late and we were all super tired and everything hurt, so we decided to ditch the rest of the planned route and just head straight to the finish line.

Total distance ended up being just about 48 miles. Alas, there was no free beer this year, and if I'm going to pay for beer, it has to be something that I actually like, and this wasn't it. But I failed at my goal very well! I didn't disappoint myself, I didn't try to push myself too hard, I didn't injure myself, I didn't get grumpy or cry, I didn't end up having to hop on a bus and take myself home, and I'm pretty satisfied at all of that. 48 miles is definitely further than I've ever biked in a day, and it included several thousand feet of climbing. I think I probably could do the full 62 if I was prepared in different ways: if I'd planned for a full day of riding (instead of a half day), if the weather wasn't quite so awfully hot and humid (it was above 90 by noon), and maybe a few other ifs. So maybe it can be a goal for next year.

I did a lot of things right on this one, though, including remembering to eat and drink regularly, even though I wasn't hungry, which is a very odd feeling for me, because I am constantly trying to stay in the habit of only eating when hungry (because overeating makes me feel physically not good). But I don't get hungry when I exercise, and while I can easily go for a 60 minute workout without any interim sustenance, that doesn't work for multi-hour workouts. I packed good snacks and made use of the rest stops and kept my energy up until the end. I wore clothes that were comfy, and sunscreened sufficiently such that the only places where I got burned were a little bit on the backs of my hands, because I forgot my gloves and didn't realize until I was about to start (I got a few weird blotchy red spots on my thighs, but I don't think those are sunburn).

Eventually I came home, had a wonderful shower, ate all the things, and got a beer. Now fall over.
blk: (avatar)
This past weekend xuth and I drove out to Philly for [ profile] soong's wedding. This is great, except that the only road that goes from Pittsburgh to Philly and takes less than 5 hours is also one of the most expensive long toll roads in the nation, costing a whopping $32.90 in cash to travel this subsection one way. There's a significant (~30%) savings using E-ZPass, but we hadn't gotten around to getting a transponder yet because a) we don't travel on toll roads very regularly and b) we intended to wait and get it in MA because it's cheaper ($0/yr instead of $3/yr in PA). This trip was going to be expensive enough that I looked into getting one right beforehand, but didn't plan ahead enough, so that didn't work out, and we just resigned to paying lots of money.

We stopped at a service plaza a few exits in for lunch, and I saw a sign that said they sold E-ZPass there. Well, that would be convenient. So I went and inquired. Turns out although they activate the transponder at the time of purchase (and trade it for your current toll slip), it doesn't actually charge until the next time you enter a toll booth. Which means that if you acquire the transponder in the middle of a toll trip, that trip is free. Even with the yearly fee + "convenience fee", that definitely made it worthwhile!

The wedding itself was lovely and wonderful. The setting was beautiful; the people were pleasant and colorful; the food and drink was delicious; the weather mostly cooperated; the string band which played quiet background classical music rickrolled us during the cocktail hour; and overall it was a great party. The only downside is that while I wore fairly comfy shoes, they were not dancing shoes, and by the end of the evening of walking and dancing, I had worn fairly painful blisters on the balls of my feet. Oops. Fortunately a night of rest made them walkable again. I took just a few pictures and posted the good ones to the groom's FB wall (who made one his profile pic, yay!). I also braided a few people (surprise), got to see a few of my much-missed Boston-ish friends, convinced myself to get an undercut, and in general had a nice relaxing day.

The ride back was uneventful but annoying. I think 3.5 hours of driving is just about my limit of what I can do comfortably, so by 4.5 hours I'm antsy, tired, and impatient.
blk: (tree)
I have SO many things to write. Why is it so hard to start?

I will start 2016 by doing some 2015 recapping.

This is Places I Slept in 2015 except I prefer to put a bit of explanation into each one so I don't confuse myself later.

I started the year in Pittsburgh, PA, which is really my favorite place to sleep of anywhere. In January, I drove down to visit family in Woodbridge, VA, and shortly thereafter, to our annual Arisia jaunt, where we overnighted with friends in Queens, NY and Waltham, MA in between the con in Boston, MA.

A few months passed before I left home again, first to visit and make new friends in Cleveland, OH, and the next month down again to Woodbridge and then out to Hanover Twp, PA (in Beaver County) for a regular camping trip with friends at Raccoon Creek State Park. The middle of the summer saw another trip to Boston to see a variety of friends, where I hopped around to Somerville, MA, Dorchester, MA, and Berlin, MA.

The end of the summer had the most biggest stretch in other cities, with first a 4 nights in New Lebanon, NY for camping and ice cream, then home for about 32 hours before flying to Seattle, WA for more camping with other family and friends in Seabeck, WA at Scenic Beach State Park.

I had a glorious three months (mostly) quietly at home again before squeaking in an end-of-the-year trip to Ohio for hiking and family, spending a few beautiful (and wet) nights in Logan, OH at Hocking Hills State Park and a short stay in Columbus, OH, before once again coming home to end the year in comfort and partying.

15 cities. That's enough for me.

Next up, books.
blk: (house)
After posting about RLS last week, I got some suggestions and also did more reading about how to treat it. I decided to go for the carpet bomb approach and added to my daily diet: a banana yogurt smoothie with protein+vitamin powder, handful of almonds, antacid, less alcohol, and more leg exercise. I was going to do this for a week, but within two days all my symptoms were suddenly much better and I actually was able to relax in bed in the morning. Success! Now I start taking out the parts of that that I don't want to keep up long-term and see if I lose any benefits. I did not take quinine, sleep with a bar of soap, take hot and cold showers, extra dark chocolate, or massage (although maybe I should try those last two anyways, y'know, for science).

In recovery news, my foot is also much improved, thankfully enough to make it through an entire evening in a nifty Halloween costume that involved, um, shoes that were rather harsh on them. I forgot to get pictures, but I'm sure I'll get plenty at Arisia. This week, I'm planning to walk a bunch. Next week, I'm gonna start running again (carefully).

Now that my Halloween costume is done with and I suddenly have a bunch of free time, I decided to properly do my hair again. A couple months ago I found a yarn color I'm fond of, and have been waiting for an appropriately free day. 6.5 hours yesterday didn't quite finish it, but I think I only have another hour or so to go, so I'll finish tonight. Then pictures.

The yard still involves apples and leaves. After I did an apple sweep last weekend, we had another windy day, and poof, another 50 lbs lying in the yard. But I think this might actually be the end. Another batch of applesauce tonight.

The sidewalk apparently got several compliments from trick-or-treaters. I wasn't doing most of the door answering (as Jim had his coat on). Also this weekend I'm finding delayed effects from lifting heavy concrete stones, as the calloused skin on my fingertips has all started to peel off. Whee?

Yesterday Justin finished and submitted his CMU application! A huuuuge load of stress off of him (and me, by proxy). The essays were pure torture but he ended up with some decent quality ones. And now all his future college applications will be much easier.
blk: (Default)
I just had two weeks (well, 13 days) away, in two vacations back to back. Now I'm back, and I'm really glad to be back.

In two weeks my garden continued to grow. I pleaded with some friends to come by and steal my kale and tomatoes and I think they did so nothing went to waste. Apples are covering my front yard, though, so I really have to do something about that now.

In two weeks I only occasionally skinned social media, and then only the parts that sounded personal or happy. It was really nice. I briefly checked email headlines to make sure there was nothing that needed immediate attention.

In two weeks, CMU has changed. Students are annoyingly everywhere, the Wean-Porter plaza is passable again, and the UC locker rooms are open (but now want a card swipe for just entering, phooey).

In two weeks I didn't miss work at all. Although I am very happy to have a job where things don't pile up while I'm gone, and also one where deadlines are pretty mushy so it didn't matter that I didn't finish things up before I left. I was back today and I even got a little bit accomplished.

I did actually kind of miss my kids, probably because they aren't 4 year olds. Although I admit I'd been looking forward to coming home to an empty, quiet house, it was actually nice to come home to boys who had conversations and ate dinner with me. And thanks to them, my kitty didn't seem to have suffered too much from loneliness.

I missed my bed. In 12 nights away, 7 of those were spent on an air mattress in a tent. While we have a very nice air mattress, I'm so happy to be back in my own bed in my own bedroom.

I missed Pittsburgh weather, although I hear we missed a pretty good heat wave and maybe I wouldn't have missed that. The NY weather was beautiful but the Seattle weather was way too cold for me. I had on several layers pretty much my entire time there.

Three weekends ago I went to a bunch of local events and saw a nice subset of Pittsburgh friends. Two weekends ago I saw a nice subset of Bostonish friends. Last (long) weekend I saw a nice subset of Seattle friends. This coming weekend.... I think I'm ready to stay home and be with myself and catch up on projects.
blk: (ow)
Well that was the most interesting blood draw visit I've ever had. Summary: I'm fine. No bloody details included here.

I arrived at the nearby clinic for some routine lab work early this morning after dropping off the car for inspection just in time to hear an older woman in the waiting room declare that she couldn't find her script. I signed in and sat down to wait, while she went out to her car to look. She came back in, slightly panicked, and asked a nurse who was passing through what she could do, and the nurse suggested that her doctor could fax it.

Except the patient didn't know her doctor's phone number and the nurse was too busy to look it up. I offered to look it up on my phone, and fortunately the doctor had a unique enough name that I found it on the first search, even after spelling it incorrectly. She spoke to someone and asked for a fax, hung up, and thanked me profusely.

In the meanwhile, my appt time came up, and I went through the normal blood draw activities, and it all went smoothly. I was feeling fine when I got up and started to walk out.

then I almost fainted )

The whole episode took maybe 15 minutes total. I'm glad there were nice people around. In the future I probably shouldn't try to have blood taken when I have just run 10 miles the day before and not eaten since dinner. Oh well, lessons learned. And more excuses to take it extra easy today. (ETA: Oh and now I've definitely earned this donut.)
blk: (sandwich)
What a week. Tuesday we drove all day to return home from Arisia (which I still intend to post about), the rest of the week was prep for the weekend (while still keeping to usual social/active things), and the weekend was more party prep and parties. Today is the first day of real downtime in a long time and it's wonderful. I'm also getting a whole lot accomplished because I'm procrastinating the chores that actually need to get done (like cleaning off the game shelf to allow access one of the windows that is getting replaced tomorrow). Thus, LJ.

But first, successes for the week: Friday I went to another clothing swap, and I successfully gave away more clothes than I came home with. Plus I acquired a pair of jeans that fits me PERFECTLY. It's amazing. Just the cut that I like, looks good on me, AND it stays up without a belt. I haven't checked to see if the line is discontinued yet (that's usually the case when this happens to me) but I still have hopes.

Then Saturday I got to be Supergirl again briefly for a little girl's superhero party. She and were both dressed similarly, and I have to say, her surprised happy face when I revealed my outfit that matched hers was possibly the most adorable thing I've seen from her ever.

The party was brief because overlapping that party was my Soup Swap party. I planned ahead semi-poorly and didn't actually get my soup started until after noon on party day. Jim helped out by chopping ALL THE THINGS (while I peeled) and then I roasted and sauteed and stirred and simmered (while also cleaning stuff from the first floor to make party space) and got 6 quarts packed up just as the first guests were knocking on the door.

Souping was super fun (even though I had changed out of my costume) and lots of tasty things were there. We didn't get anything as surprisingly awesome as the dill pickle soup from last year but there was a particularly nice creamy garlic one. My soups once again got claimed out first, which is a nice ego boost. I guess I make good soup.

Soups represented )

While making soup yesterday I discovered I have a surfeit of onions. On top of that, I just read about making caramelized onions in the crockpot, and now I REALLY want to do a big batch of French Onion Soup. I might need to figure out another social event to do this for.
blk: (xmas)
What a difference a bit of time makes

The car is back, fixed and working. And I have slightly better ideas of what to look for / people I can ask for advice next time this happens.

I am healthy again. I'm extremely fortunate to have a generally healthy baseline, so even though the flu is really pretty awful, the worst of it only lasted for a day for me. I quarantined myself for the rest of the weekend, although by Sunday I was feeling healthy and energetic enough to move around a lot. I ended up doing some house cleaning, some baking, and reading with blankets and a cuddly cat. Today I judged myself sufficiently non-contagious (according to CDC recommendations) to resume life as normal and was even useful at work on the first day back.

After doing a lot of nothing for several days, I'm left with a lot of drive to resume regular active hobbies, get my house and my body back into order and shape, and spend time on various personal projects that have been rolling around in my head. I'm hoping to do something to start all of these things soon so that I have some momentum going before the initial motivation boost wears off.

I've also heard from several other friends who have had worse starts to the year than I have, and I realize how grateful I am to have life and health and awesome friends and general stability. I have more thoughts about where I want this year to go but will save further belly-button gazing for later. Also, sunrises are about to start getting earlier and every minute counts.
blk: (Default)
The problem I have with summer is that there is always too many fun things going on and any given day I have to miss large numbers of them. Seriously, on any given day I have two, three, or more things going on that I could go to or do or throw or spend time on, but I only have so many hours, and some of them have to be spent on me or I go crazy. Which means sometimes things simply get left behind.

Although all things considered, having the problem of "Too Much Awesome" in my life is really not that bad of a problem to have. Mostly it means I need to work on my time management skills so I can get the most out of my available hours. I suppose it's also a window of insight into what I really prioritize in my life, based on which things I actively make time for. Also, I need some more solid goals. I want too much these days to just let things happen to me.

That said, some of the awesome things I've gotten up to in the past week+ include: helping a kid out with homework, going to pirate party, tea partying with lovely ladies, visiting the local renfair, having a fantastic date and several delicious dinners out, hosting a wonderfully successful clothing swap, holding a satisfying yard sale, visiting a friend in the hospital, seeing The Book of Mormon musical, and doing some more cleaning in the spare room in prepping it to be turned into a craft room. That looks like a lot because it IS a lot, I've been busy and rushed and slightly frantic for several days; today I spent a lot of time doing some small organizing and vegging and that was also a very good thing.

Things I did not do in that same space include: doing absolutely anything with the yard, laundry, cooking dinners, reading, running the Great Race today, doing much of any exercise at all (stupid foot) like yoga or climbing or acro, going to board games events, going to trivia night, going to several other parties/dinners, going on walks with friends, going on organized bike rides, getting in enough snuggling, and writing LJ updates. Well, I'm at least remedying the last one now.

My goal for this upcoming month: spend time doing things that I want to do, without wasting time in regretting that I can't do it all.
blk: (running)
The first big sign I had that something was wrong came Tuesday morning, when I got out of bed and stepped down and there was significant pain in my right foot. Some gentle poking revealed tender spots on top, but also places that were fine, and with a little care and practice, I was walking almost without noticing it. I mentioned it to my regular doctor (who I was seeing for something unrelated), and she poked it, said "stay off it for a couple weeks" and nothing else. I could wear my bike shoes with the stiff soles to walk better, so I went on in to work. More poking and internet research suggested a metatarsal stress fracture. I guessed third. I had my usual running planned (the first since Saturday), but by afternoon I decided that was not a good idea.

Overnight I woke up a few times from pain, and Wednesday it was worse. Again it felt better with the stiff bike shoes on, so I just wore those all day and tried to minimize walking, but it still hurt a lot in the wrong positions. I fixed up a foot pillow to sleep with, which helped.

The worsening alarmed me a lot, so Thursday morning I called a recommended podiatrist, stayed home from work, and did nothing but sit almost all day. By mid afternoon, it was feeling significantly improved, and by morning down to slight pain if I stepped wrong, which I've had before. I went to see the podiatrist anyways, and got X-rays.

The doctor came in after looking at my X-rays, took one look at my foot, pressed -there- and I went OW and he went "yep." Diagnosis: 4th metatarsal fracture (I was one off). A small one, I think, as I couldn't recognize it on the X-ray even after he pointed it out.

Things of note:
- On timing: He said that fractures like this generally take longer than a week to show up on X-ray. So while I had been assuming this was something that happened at the race last Saturday, it seems likely it was something earlier (like track speedwork the previous Tuesday maybe), and JASR just aggravated it, being the second hard run within a week. Then possibly biking further aggravated it, given that I biked Mon/Tue/Wed, and it got worse Tue/Wed.

- On cause: Obvious contributing factors we talked about included: 0. A specific injury (unlikely as I don't remember any), 1. Ramping up my running too quickly (likely), 2. Shoes that are too old / too minimalist (maybe), or 3. Having poor bone density (maybe). He said if I get any more, anywhere, I should get a bone density screening. Hrm. I'm fairly certain I've already had at least one in the past.

- On fixes: 1. Increasing my mileage more slowly. I thought I told myself last year: no more springtime goals. Argh. 2. New shoes. This is tough because although minimal runners do seem to be at higher risk for stress fractures, I'm positive that minimal shoes have helped my form a lot, and I love the light weight. Maybe I should look for something in the middle. 3. More calcium / Vitamin D supplements. It occurs to me that since I found out I was mildly lactose intolerant, I've cut down a lot on my dairy, which makes my stomach much happier, but might have other unintended effects, like getting less calcium?

- On activity: He prescribed a boot for walking for 2 weeks, then a slow return to activities assuming new X-rays look clean. So mostly running and biking and (maybe) climbing is out, and I'll try to stay away from long or arduous walks. Of course. Only the primary activities of my life.

On the bright side, as much as this comes at a bad time (is there ever a good time?), I'm doing OK with it. I don't have much on the calendar for the next two weeks that I can't get to by walking slowly or taking the bus. Carnival is next weekend, but most of my planned activities involve walking, standing, or sitting, all of which I can do. I will have to skip the Random Distance Run, sadly. [ profile] xuth and I have a vacation to go hiking in MD planned for the days right after I (hopefully) get the boot off. I think that can still happen, as long as I'm careful. Doctor thinks the upcoming Half should still be doable, assuming I don't aggravate anything. Not sure if my goal time is achievable, but I guess just running will still be good. And I can still swim/yoga/lift while I'm waiting.

Guess it's time to dig out my somewhat-neglected ToDo list of Things I can do that don't need feet. Plus, bonus time to catch up on some reading. Silver linings and all.
blk: (sudopie)
This weekend... [ profile] xuth and I threw a pizza ("pi") party. Last week I noticed that everybody else posted pictures of pi parties that looked to feature several store-bought pies. My pie parties are definitely better in that regard. I may have become a slight pie snob.

Xuth had been talking for years about wanting to do a pizza party, with memories of other parties where people just came and cooked pizza all day. We tried once last year but it didn't work like he wanted, I suspect mostly due to lack of expectation communication to party guests. So I tried another, thanks to prompting from my kid to have a Pi Party. This time I put in with plenty of advance warning and communication (sigh, FB does make these things easier), and it was a huge success! And far bigger than I'd expected! By my count, we had 30 people and 21 pizzas (as well as two traditional pies and a caesar salad). There was the Xuth basic pizza, several veggie pizza, several tortilla quick pizzas, a GF pesto pizza, a cauliflower crust pizza, and many more. The oven was on and filled with baking pizza for the better part of 4 hours, and only ended up with an accidentally burned crust/cheese and smoking up the house once! Almost all of the pizza got consumed yesterday, and the rest was finished up less than 24 hours later.

I think the only downside to such a great party is that 30 people is really quite a lot for this house. It helped to have the kids go downstairs to be rowdy for a time, but with the kitchen being actively used, there were no real quiet spaces. We are usually able to spread outside by the usual pie party, which is my only other regularly bigger party. But people seemed to enjoy themselves, and I had a great time, and I had one guest specifically compliment the party as running particularly smoothly in terms of no chaos in the kitchen. And later on it quieted down to a couple game tables. So overall, yay. Pretty sure this will happen again.

This week... has been filled with the ups and downs of Pittsburgh spring. On the upsides, we started pulling out all that stockpiled daylight, so now it is bright and sunny when I come home from work, and still quite light at dinner time, and starting to dim into evening at a somewhat more proper time. On top of that, we've had several days of delightfully warm sun and high temps, so pretty much all the snow is gone, and I went out in short sleeves one day. Of course, this being Pittsburgh, we also had two days of snow and temperature dips into the single digits, and this morning it mostly hovered just at or below freezing all day, but it looks like the next week will be perfectly decent. I'm greatly looking forward to all the additional outdoor stuff I'll be able to do soon.

This month... I've spent a lot of time working on getting in better shape and running a lot more, in prep for the Pittsburgh half marathon in, eep, 7 weeks. I think I'm in much better shape this year at this time than I was last year, but I'm still coming out of winter hibernation, and man are my legs feeling it. I'm back to having sore legs wake me up at night a couple times a week. Not to mention finding time to do serious running several days a week turns out to be fairly hard when I have a full time job and kids and hobbies and I like being social. Fortunately, there exist plans which say it's ok to only be running 3 or 4 days a week, instead of 5 or 6. Not sure how I'm doing on my time goals, though.

My goal for this year is 2 hours. Last year I made it in 2:10, so I feel like shaving less than a minute off per mile should be doable with work. However, in googling for training ideas, I noticed that there were multiple blogs and sites that touted a 2 hour goal as being for a "beginner," which confuses me. While I realize that the winners will be much faster than that, 2 hours is still a faster than average finish time (for both genders). Looking at last year's pgh half (which seems like a reasonably typical one) less than a third of the 16,000+ runners finished in 2 hours of less. If 2 is for a "beginner," what do you call everybody else? I admit to being a little irked by this. But I'm still trying for it. If all goes well, with a spiffy costume, to boot.
blk: (avatar)
This weekend was a nice calm stay-at-home weekend for me after last week's con-people-boston-visiting whirl. (The writeup on that one will come later)

It started with a bit of a busy-ness, as I prepped for my first Soup Swap Party. This involved making two large pots of clam chowdah (bacon and non) and doing a whole bunch of house cleaning, taking care of stuff that had piled up over the last couple weeks. The party was a huge success!! Despite a very snowy day, people braved the roads to come deliver soups to my house. We had a fantastic variety (enough to please GF folks, vegetarians, and meat lovers) , with no overlaps, and a few very strange ones that turned out really well, as well as bread and beer and a few other snackin's.

I put my own tweak into the party, where instead of just swapping blindly, I asked everybody to bring a small amount to be heated up and eaten, then we used teeny party cups to get a few bites of each soup. This worked fabulously, IMO, as it meant I got to try things that I normally would have thought too weird, without committing to a full quart. The parsnip soup and dill pickle soup turned out to be two of my favorites! Even the swap went smoothly, with mostly the right number of people wanting what was available. My clam chowdah was super popular (either that or everybody was trying to butter up the host), which tickled me. We finished up the night with some light games, and traded recipes online. I'm looking forward to trying my hand at making some of them.

Sunday I got to wake up to a nice clean house and laze around for a while, as I had mostly no plans except to go out and plan in the snow with some friends later. Eventually I walked down to Frick Park. The snow was light and fluffy and pretty much perfect for the sledding we were doing, and the main hill was surprisingly not very busy. We ended up with six people and three sleds, all of which fit two (or three!) people each, and ended up just tossing ourselves down the hill for an hour in various fun configurations, one of which was the three sled train. I haven't sledded like that in years and I had pretty much forgotten how much fun it could be. I took one spill while doubling with Charlie, unfortunately on the one time where I decided to try to video our trip, which meant that when we started tipping precariously, my main thought was to protect my camera and not my head, so I did a fun little slow rollover, ensuring that I'm going to be sore tomorrow. Eventually the hill started filling up with smaller kids who weren't smart enough to actually look uphill while they weren't sledding, which made things less fun for me, so after a quick detour over to the actual blue slide of Blue Slide Park (which was also good for sledding on), I invited people back to my house for snowbuilding and hot chocolate.

We didn't quite make it home before running across my neighbor who was in the process of shoveling out his front yard ice rink. Upon greeting, he offered us a spin including lending skates, so two people took him up on that while the others of us attempted to make some snow sculptures. Eventually the cold started getting to me and the hot chocolate part of the afternoon happened inside my warm house, complete with peppermint marshmallows. Exhaustion was really setting in for me, though, and after everybody else left I ended up flopping down on the couch for a short nap, until a kid bugged me about dinner. Fortunately, I apparently hadn't quite reached my soup limit yet, and had thought to prep a big crockpot of chili earlier in the day, which was delicious. I realized I was probably so exhausted because I was dehydrated, so I fixed that as well, which did help some. I'm still feeling pretty wiped out and mildly headachey. Having fun is hard work! But worth it. I was tagged in various pictures on the Book of Face for people who are on there, but they're not public so I'm not linking directly from here.

Expecting a cold and snowy week this week, and likely a snow day Tuesday, as temps drop back down to -9F around here. Brr. Fortunately, cold makes for excellent soup weather...
blk: (axial)
... but that didn't stop me from going to 6 parties in the last three days. Three for the holidays, one housewarming, one birthday, and one monthly themed event.

This was way more social than I've been in a single weekend than in a long time. All of the parties were pretty low-key and only one was somewhat obligatory (and that's only because I had volunteered to help organize it). All but two of them had nearly completely non-overlapping guest lists. Only at one of them I didn't know any other guests, but that changed partway through. Four of the six were advertised primarily to me on Facebook, which increases my ambivalence. [I hate a lot about Facebook. But it's so convenient for this kind of stuff. If I dropped it, I'd like to think people would still think to invite me to things. But I suspect it would make it more difficult for both me and them, which is enough reason for me to stay.]

It was a lot more driving than I've done in a long time, because of need to transport Stuff, distance, and/or weather conditions. I feel a little lazy when I drive somewhere I could have biked, but, well, sometimes that's OK. And I know if biking were my only option, I'd probably have opted out of at least a couple of these events or not been able to help out in the ways I did. As it was, as ugly as the weather was overnight, everything ended up timed and placed well so the roads were not a problem.

There was a bit more drinking than I've done in a while, although not excessively so. I cannot for the life of me remember who introduced me to caramel vodka mixed with apple cider, but I and a large number of other people who I have now spread it to need to thank them. I have further expanded variations on this combination to hot chocolate and hot cinnamon vodka. Further experiments are necessary. A bourbon milkshake also played a part of the weekend, which is much better enjoyed when I remember to take a lactaid pill beforehand (or have that awesome friend who just so happens to have one in her purse).

I ate a whole lot more delicious / rich / sweet / salty / carb-filled holiday foods than I usually have in my regular diet, particularly on Friday, which had lasting effects throughout the rest of the weekend as everything else built on it, not to mention the leftovers (which are still being worked on). It turns out that a large bowl full of mixed greens and a splash of balsamic and nothing else tastes really really good after a couple days of party foods (not to mention it also helps clean out the overfull fridge).

The weekend also involved a bit more flirting than I've done in a while, which was mostly unexpected but quite nice. It makes me happy that I have social crowds where casual friendly physical affection is acceptable and normal. I have others where it isn't as much, and others where it varies, and while I can value them all (and enjoy the company of good people no matter what), too much social time spent only with one kind of interaction can be wearing on me.

On top of that I also managed (with help) to get some laundry done, holiday decorations up, some basic house cleaning done, a dinner made, homework monitored, and PT exercises done reasonable regularly.

It was a great weekend, but I'm looking forward to a nice quiet xmas break even more now.
blk: (elfcycle)
Yesterday [ profile] ravens_prentice and I made plans to go see Romero, Phipps' resident corpse flower before it closed.

like the flowers that fade )

where is the victory? )

like a thief in the night )

This weekend I hope to catch up on things I expected to do last night but didn't because I was playing a fun but long game, like pick up apples, wash things that need washed, run, make new bike helmet bling, and read a book.
blk: (summer)
I don't have any one thing to say; I have a lot of little things.

1. I lost my ability to enjoy spinning in circles about 5 years ago, and as since have given up on things like contra dancing, which [ profile] xuth enjoys regularly, but which will make me headachey and nauseated for the rest of the night after about half a dance. Upon recommendation from a friend, I took some dimenhydrinate and went dancing last night to see how it worked. I made it through 4 dances (not all in a row), and while the dizziness still came on strongly, it didn't make me feel icky, and it gradually went away without ill side effects. Hurray for science! Now I just have to figure out if I like contra dancing enough to go back.

2. I spent almost all of this summer helping the [ profile] jboys clean out their rooms. By "clean" I mean, I'd sit down in their room, say "ok, today you're going to clean off your [desk]," and for every single $thing that existed in that area, we'd decide keep, give away, or throw away. Repeat dozens of more times for each other piece of furniture and drawer and box and area in the room. We went through toys and school artwork and old shoes and found things and organized things and talked about things. It was an exhausting process, but ended up with a lot of trash and a few boxes of things that got sold at a yard sale last week (along with a bunch of my stuff, and clothing from two different households). End result is more space in the house, a lot of stuff happily re-homed, about a dozen bags of clothing donated, a small amount of money made, and much, much cleaner kid bedrooms.

3. As part of my housecleaning project, I acquired a larger sectional couch and got rid of the two cushy green couches I've had for years. I moved two chairs into the place where the loveseat was, but now that they are there I've decided at least one won't work. Not sure yet if I'm on the lookout for another cushy armchair or another small loveseat.

4. On top of the bedroom cleaning project was a project to switch bedrooms between the oldest boy (who had a small office for a bedroom) and the youngest boy (who had the largest bedroom). I told them that I would support and help as long as both rooms got super cleaned and STAYED mostly cleaned. The switch happened successfully last weekend, and I stayed up late helping the younger one pack and moving his furniture. So far they both claim to be happy with it. I am SO done with cleaning other people's stuff for the next long while.

5. Due to the magic of multiple overlapping vacations and custody schedules, I am going to have Three! Whole! Days! All! To! Myself! next week. Nobody to clean up after or remind to do chores. Nobody to tell my schedule to or arrange things around. Nobody's food preferences to cook around. A totally quiet house to read in and wake up to. I am giddy with anticipation. I also have no idea what to do with myself. Got any suggestions?

6. My gardens have tomato, basil, and garlic growing in them (among other things). That, combined with our propensity towards rosemary bread, means I've had a lot of bruschetta lately. Deeelicious.

7. My compost pile, once again, has baby avocado trees growing in it. Four of them, this year. Anybody want them before they die in a few months? Also, apple season is about to start.

8. The last week of social and activity has involved several days of informal meals, eating leftovers and going out to be active in the evening, and has resulted in my dinners for several days being not much more than light snacks interspersed throughout the evening. Probably relatedly, my weight is slightly down and my body has felt particularly good and less-in-pain in the mornings than usual. This is somewhat unfortunate, as it's really difficult to just skip dinner when we have sit-down family dinners (which is most of the time). Also because I really like eating.

And your last tidbit for the day:

9. Observation I had lately: as a casual transitive verb, to "mother" someone is to care for, protect, and provide for. To "father" someone is to, well, simply take part in their procreation. Neither word has the connotation I particularly care for when talking about how to raise a child ("mother" is closer, but i feel as sometimes it gets too close to "smother"), although Marshall Jones (slam poet) has a nice take on it. I prefer to use "parent."
blk: (elfcycle)
Wow that was a busy and tiring weekend. I'm so glad to be back at work where I can sit and relax for the day.

Saturday was yard sales and yard work )

Sunday was City Spree! )

After dinner we watched The Hobbit since it was free Redbox day, which was... disappointing, I guess. It was really pretty and nothing was bad, but it just didn't feel as gripping or as energetic as the LotR movies did. [Athough the amount of falling long distances onto solid rock without seemingly getting hurt that several characters repeatedly did was kind of off-putting. Yes I KNOW it's fantasy but certain science should still work!] But it was a nice way to end a good weekend.

Today I'm stiff and sore in a few places, but mostly different places than I was stiff and sore a couple weeks ago, interestingly. Sitting and not having to move around or go up/down and stairs is feeling rather nice right now. This week focus goes to kids and school and visiting parents and planning for camping next weekend.
blk: (spring)
The calendar can't fool me; today was totally spring. I'm NOT LOOKING at the forecast for later this week.

I've been thinking for, oh, at least the past 12 months or so that after 6+ years of riding around and 2+ years of mostly daily commuting on my current Craigslist find, it was time to gift myself with a New Bike. I wanted something that I knew was fit to me and I knew was good quality and would last, and ideally would be lighter and wouldn't take as much regular fiddling with. So last week I went to Big Bang Bikes on recommendation from an acquaintance at CMU. Glenn the owner is a really nice guy who seemed to know a bunch about bikes and never made me feel stupid for not knowing anything, patiently explained all the adjustments he was doing, and fitted me to a bike that felt nice. They didn't have the exact bike that I wanted in stock so I had to wait until one came in.

Today I went down and gave it a test ride, and decided it was pretty much all that I wanted. [ profile] xuth gave me the thumbs up that it was a quality bike, and Glenn offered a fairly hefty discount, so I ended up walking away with a super early birthday present to myself. I am now the new owner of a really nice new Trek 7.4 with disc brakes and it's PRETTY. Also fun to ride. Still have to transfer over all my gear but for today I'm enjoying how light it is.

on the north tip of herrs island

Then we came home and decided it was too beautiful of a day and after all I needed to test out the bike so we dragged the boys out and dragged all their bikes out and dug up helmets and water and bike carriers and eventually piled everything into or onto the car and headed down to the bike trail. We meandered around, crossed a few bridges, went around Washington's Landing to shove some local history at them and take a picture to appease all the friends and relatives who say I don't take enough pictures, then to Pizza Sola for dinner, and finally back to the car, totally exhausted. Ended up being 15 miles total.

Now I am thinking of acquiring some yarn to make new helmet hairfalls that will match the blue trim on my new bike...
blk: (adult)
Last Friday I finished 3 days of jury duty, my first ever serving. Having very little court or law knowledge in general, it was actually rather interesting to me, not just to attend and fulfill my civic duty, but to observe a trial and the process and such when I didn't have emotional connections to the case, or prior investment in one particular side winning or losing, and experience firsthand more about why this particular civic duty is an important one. I had no pressing projects at work, so aside from a couple of missed meetings, I rather enjoyed the break.

I liked our judge, who seemed pleasant, fun to be around, courteous and efficient. He kept order very well, explained process as needed, and kept us up to date with his time estimates. The bailiff (?) who did jury-wrangling and and general courtroom handling was similarly patient and friendly. My fellow jurors were a mix of folks, mostly older than me, who I generally enjoyed or at least didn't mind the company of. I found the ritual and respect between the members of the court and in the formality of proceedings to be refreshing and unstressful, even as I also knew it to be a mutual play-act of sorts. Things were easy enough to follow that, even though I got a little restless while sitting in the juror chair for an hour or more at a time, I was able to keep my mind from wandering pretty easily.

And yet, at the same time as I appreciated the general circumstances and environment of the process, this case left me annoyed and sad with the fact that all of this exists, has to exist, and that it runs so smoothly because of so many long years of constant practice. That there exists never ending clientele who pay large amounts of money and spend months or years of their life on issues that, at least in this case, I cannot imagine wanting to spend that much time and energy and emotion on. I'm glad the system exists for those who need it, but I'm sad that we have such a low bar for "need."

I'm not going to put a case summary here, as I don't feel right making it quite this public, but now that it's over I'm allowed to talk as much as I want, so if you want to know details feel free to poke me more privately and I'll share. As this was my first, I have no idea what is "normal," but apparently there was a bit more drama involved than usual, some of which wasn't shared with us, but some of which involved one of the jurors falling down courtroom steps and getting taking to the ER just before closing arguments. Apparently some of the reality courtroom shows should have taken notes.

There is one detail I am going to mention, because it was the one thing about the entire case that stood out to me as something that really pissed me off:

The defendant in this case was a male of about average height and slightly stocky build. In his testimony, he stated that on the night of the incident, he felt threatened by the plaintiff and her companions, who were young, petite, female college students. At this point, the plaintiff's lawyer stopped him and asked him to stand up, then asked his client and her friends to stand up, and confirmed "are THESE the women you were scared of?", obviously implying that because of the size/gender difference, the defendant should have no reason to be concerned for his safety. HELLO. THAT'S NOT HOW IT WORKS. Just because a person MIGHT have a physical advantage over another does NOT mean they are automatically safe. It does NOT mean the smaller person cannot do real damage. The existence of abuse depends on the actions of the abuser, NOT on whether the victim acts to physically defend themselves or not. And that's not even touching on the complications of being in a service role to someone who could register a complaint about any physical contact. Sorry, Mr. Lawyer, pressing that point did NOT get me to sympathize with your side.

Anyways, that's where I've spent some of my online time lately. It was overall a decent process (they tried to make it as painless as possible, at least), but I'm also glad to be back to work this week.
blk: (sandwich)
Among the things I never thought I would willingly spend huge amounts of time and energy on, when I was younger: children and food. I'm not a super foodie. I'm not a scientist or an artist in the kitchen. I am usually perfectly happy letting other people create food for me to eat. But somewhere along the line, cooking became something of a hobby and I'm willing to venture that having kids and being a part-time single parent had a lot to do with that.

But anyways, what I'm saying is that I'm realizing that I've managed to get decently good at creating reasonably tasty dinners on demand, and connecting that with the result of nourishing and caring for others means I occasionally enjoy doing so. So being a host for Thanksgiving dinner for family and a few orphan friends is more of a fun things for me to look forward for me. Of course, there are plenty of other stressful parts, but the food itself was nice.

For the food of the actual day: there was a ham, because after years of making turkey, all the members of my family realized that we liked ham much better than turkey, and there hasn't been another turkey in our holidays since. There was a duck, since the Boy still wanted a bird, but I refused turkey, and chicken is boring, and I wasn't up to anything more exotic. It was my first time cooking duck and I think it could have been better but it wasn't awful. I tried out a new crockpot stuffing recipe, because of requests for stuffing (but no bird), that came out fabulously and I may attempt to repeat in the future. The [ profile] jboys made pies, which they are getting quite good at, with moderate supervision from my mom. [ profile] xuth made duck fat potatoes from the aforementioned bird drippings, of which there were not nearly enough. A few other sides to round it off, a small amount of oven juggling, and it was a great day and dinner. Leftover ingredients (for the week) include rendered duck and ham fat (I don't bother keeping chicken fat), duck/chicken/ham broth (or jelly, really), and duck/chicken/ham meat. Everything else pretty much got finished off within a couple days.

The rest of the week included managing dinners to feed 7, which it turns out really isn't that much more work than dinner for 5, and is infinitely more rewarding when the guests are adults who are vocal about how much they enjoy the food and willingly help clean up afterwards. Much wine was consumed, a couple movies watched, gossip caught up on, and all the necessary homework done.

It also let me know that I'm really horrible at actually doing this "relaxing" thing when I'm at home (and particularly when I have guests/kids around), and although it was relatively a very nice non-stressful time, I really didn't feel refreshed or do anything particularly useful. So of course on Sunday, after the guests had gone and the household chores were mostly managed, I went back to the kitchen and turned some of the leftovers into a big pot of yummy soup. Tomorrow I have plans to do similar. It's meditative and satisfying, which I didn't expect from me, but I'm not going to question it.
blk: (elfcycle)
As a followup to the car saga from, ugh, almost two weeks ago now, we did finally succeed in trading money for a working car, and everything is home safe again.

not that it was a simple thing )

To add injury to insult, all of this was on top of some head cold that smacked me down last Sunday. So between the car uncertainty and just plain not feeling well, I got pretty much nothing done this week, including several of my usual fun things. And there's nothing like lack of productivity and activity to make me feel even more bleh. By today the cold has mostly resolved into the really gross part of trying to clear out my chest, which is definitely an improvement, although it's still tiring.

To add inconvenience on top of all that, my big crockpot suddenly decided to die while in the middle of cooking applesauce today. A loud POP and the distinct smell of magic smoke in the kitchen. Hopefully it won't flavor the applesauce too much.

Early tomorrow morning I'm scheduled to run in the Great Race, and I don't feel even remotely ready for it. Hoping a good night's sleep will help.


blk: (Default)

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