Monday, March 30, 2015

Monday in Holy Week

Last week got hectic.  My friend was here with her baby, and two of us aunties had volunteered to babysit.  None of us are related by blood, so we have made the decision to be a family.  My friend is an only child, so she had to pick and choose Aunties.  I have to say, the Other DC Auntie and I pretty much rock the auntie gig.  The child in question is brilliant and super advanced, and he totally knew he was with amateurs.  So he was very, very well behaved. 

Even during the Megapoop diaper changing episode.  Don't ask me how a teeny baby can produce a mess that size.  Remind me to nominate the inventor of baby wipes for sainthood.  And I don't think a certain lawyer will ever casually suggest that we use her office for baby changing ever again.  

We did Palm Sunday yesterday.  We did the Dent Davidson percussion Passion.  It's amazing.  It's funny- on one hand, the service ends with death and the silence and the only sound is the ringing of the triangle as people depart.  But on the other hand, the readings went so well, I wanted to go high five all the other readers.  

My favorite part yesterday was the moment where Judas tries to give back the silver for betraying Christ.  All of us reading Judas agreed that the guy was unfairly smeared by history.  He was doing his best.  So we got together (secretly!) and we made a plan to get fake silver coins, and at the critical moment, when the Priest casually dismissed us- "What is [your guilt] to us?  That's your affair!", we threw the coins down.  The little, flimsy bag split open and coins rolled everywhere.  The other readers were all shocked.  In two services, the "priest" furtively picked up some of the coins.  In each service, some people were angry or surprised by the anger of Judas.  It was BRILLIANT.  

So now I'm off to Holy Week... and also my final week in this interim, before I start my permanent new gig.  I have an office to pack.  

I am also going to end my Facebook fast, because I think I have achieved the goal.  I have a working plan for Facebook in the future and it involves a lot of simplification.  

Plans for the future?  Well... I'm not yet ready to talk through them, but I have some big ideas for this coming year.  I'm looking forward to my two weeks off between jobs to get some of those plans in motion. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Discovery of Trails!

I've written before about my love of trail running.  I loathe the dreadmill.  I am sort of okay with roads... but I associate them with pounding and tight hamstrings and sunburns.  I run because I must and because it's good for me and because I hope that one day I'll become good at it.  

But trails, I love.  The Ridgeline was my regular route in Eugene.  Sure, there was also some nice trail around Amazon park.  But I loved the Ridgeline.  So I've spent the last year being pretty grumpy that Tysons Corner had just about zero unpaved trail runs.  And don't try to tell me something is trail if it's paved.  That's a manicured park. 

Last Friday, I decided to go for a run.  I had an errand to run in Dupont Circle, which was a short bus ride or a good walk away.  So I tied on my running shoes and ran down instead, doing a pretty strong set of miles to get to the knitting store.  I literally RAN my errand!  (ha ha ha ha!) 

Then I realized that I was about 1.5 miles away from my gym, and that Andrew Giant Muscles was about to begin the Wreck'em Boot Camp Class* in 15 minutes.  I thought if I pushed it, I could just barely make it... so off I went! 

As I started out, I realized that the run TO Dupont was all downhill, and this was going to be all uphill.  So I quickly started bargaining down the class, thinking I'd beg off the sprints or the leg raises in favor of extra stretches and crying.  I defend the crying.  I was sprinting(ish) uphill.  You'd be crying too.  

But then my GPS led me to a deadend... right next to a bunch of ambassadorial residences.  You know, the big huge houses marked with no trespassing signs that you are just certain also have tripwires and secret security and random electric fences around to keep riff raff like me out?  

Luckily, I saw the small sign and a trail-like area that suggested it might be an entrance into a park.  And lo and behold, I found myself dropped into Dumbarton Park.  So I ran through Dumbarton.  I slowed to a walk a lot, so I could check my app and be sure I was still pointed in the right direction or to kick some extra mud out of my shoes.  I don't know how long I was in the park... just that I lost track and I had a blast.  

I got to the gym at 12:12, too late to join the class (so I did stretching, abs, and weights) but I consider it a win over all.  I have finally discovered trails, near my house!  That makes me so happy I could scream.  

And I'll definitely be more cheerful about going running now.  In fact, I pulled my trail runners out of the closet.  




*Not the teacher's real name, nor the real class name.  Just what I call them in my head. 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Whoops... 10 day break?

Whoops.  Just realized it had been a 10 day break since my last post. It's not that I haven't thought of possible blog topics.  It's  more that I haven't been near a computer, and haven't had a notebook handy, and was perhaps a little too busy playing games on my phone during the commute to do any scribbling.  Hm.  Simplicity fail, perhaps. 

In the meantime, there's been several positive developments.  I'lll say more over time, but it suffices to say now we are embarking on a period of normalcy in our lives.  That will be so nice, indeed.  It's been a complex journey.  At last, we are able to think about "well, in a year, we should think about buying a house..."  (I have no doubt that we could get approved for a mortgage right now.  But I do want a little more financial security and a small downpayment before that. I don't want to rush something about important as our home!)  

I've stayed off Facebook for Lent, but I have definitely been tempted to go on quite a bit.  I always said that I was on Facebook because it kept me connected, but truthfully, when I reach for it or think of checking it, it's always for a mindless break.  So that has me thinking about why do I really want Facebook in my life.  Do I just want to see people's cute baby pictures?  Or do I want to use it for actual networking?  If it's the latter, then I might have to unfriend family and friends to keep from getting sucked into the reel of goofy articles and baby stories.  If it's the former, then it might be time to unfriend work-only colleagues.  But I think this practice has taught me that having Facebook be both work and fun at once is overwhelming and annoying.  At the end of Lent, I will definitely be doing some major gleaning.   

In the time I've saved from being off Facebook... welll, on one hand, yes, I'm knitting more even though I just frogged a whole project (frogging is when you 'rip it, rip it, rip it' out) because my gauge was a half size off.  But it'll go back together quickly now that I have replace my needle with the right size.  

I've definitely worked out more.  I do the strength classes pretty regularly, and I've started adding in runs.  On one hand, it is beneficial and I love the steam room.  I ma go to the gym sometimes just to earn some steam room time!  On the other hand, I am also thinking about MyFitnessPal.  I'm trying to drop a few pounds by summer, and calorie counting is good and not good.  I find I really miss the WeightWatchers plan where you count points, not calories.  That seemed to help me make right choices more often.  I feel a little frustrated when MFP shows me that I should eat another 1000 calories at 7PM, thanks to the hard workout I just did and the walk there and home.  But  it's just not practical.  So I'm taking a break from tracking while I establish the habit of just working out again.  

And finally, the lactose program seems to be working.  I have had a few times when I tried something that would have been on the very strict no-list... and been OK.  (Most recent success: Cadbury Creme Egg!)  I'm still going to keep my life mostly dairy-free, but I think I can start to relax a little.  I still haven't tried cow dairy, but sheep and goat seem to be OK in small amounts.  However, in the meantime, I've found so many other options... that I don't think I miss dairy the way I did in the beginning.  I don't miss random ice cream any more and I don't sorrow over pizza like I did in the beginning.  It was certainly a very hard change... but I think I've adjusted.  

I'm off to finish some writing for tomorrow... and then I am going to meander off to the store to pick up a few somethings. 


Thursday, March 5, 2015

DC Snow Day

So whaat do you do in 700 square feet on a  snow day?  Both of us are home from work, and for me, it's yet another freaking snow day.  I do like my Metro commute, but Metro often slows or stops in Weather, which means that commuting out to the suburbs can sometimes become impossible due to anything from "cold temperatures" to "cracked rails", even if in the city, the underground part of Metro COULD be running.  

Aiyah.  

So far today, I have made Thug Kitchen biscuts and lentil gravy, Mark Bittman "How to Cook Everything" French Bread dough, and baba ganoush.  I had to roast an extra eggplant (I like my baba ganoush more eggplanty), and the dough takes its time to rise, so it's a good snow day experiment.  M plans to make salsa. I should also put on a pot of rice since I like to have brown rice on hand.  I've gotten totally hooked on the Thug Kitchen brown rice and edamame breakfast bowl. 

On the breakfast front: I've realized that on mornings when I commute on an empty stomach, I get way more motion sick than when I have a little something.  So I've been trying to eat SOMETHING before leaving the house.  It's hard because I just don't feel hungry early in the morning.  We both like the Fueled and Focused energy bars that our friend Cristina has created.  (We crumble them up and pair them with almond milk or sometimes sheep yogurt.)  

There was a car accident on the street below earlier- looked like a Tbone awhere at least the striking car left the scene.  It's the second Tbone I've seen in the last 16 hours on Wisconsin NW.  Seriously, people, rain and snow are slippery and shiny and make it hard to see.  Slow the eff down.  4 Wheel Drive does not mean you can drive like it's a normal day out there.  And, frankly, no matter how careful you are, sometimes bad stuff happens.  (AKA, accident.)  

As for the rest of the day, in between the slow cooking (beans, rice, bread, salsa), I'll do a little work (the last remaining dregs of my to-do list), do some cleaning and tidying, and probably binge watch Outlander.  Which means I'll have a VERY free Friday and Saturday.  I'm  getting a pretty serious case of cabin fever here, and Virginia does not have an easy escape to the wild ocean like Oregon did... Eeeekkk!  

Which means I'm hitting the place where giving up Facebook is a little challenging.  I used it to occupy mindless time, but now, I have to FIND OTHER THINGS TO DO!  It's not go-outside-and-play weather.  My piano is in storage, my viola is at my office, and I only have 200 books and a sweater to knit to keep me busy.  WIthout Facebook, I can't eavesdrop on other lives and see what they are up to or vaguebook and whine about our weather.  I repeat... Eeeeekkkk!!!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

More Snow, Seriously

An update to yesterday:

M's moratorium on eggplant is removed.  Because I'm going to get yummy baba ganoush tonight, and crusty bread, and he made seitan from scratch, and has more roasted eggplant plans, and as long as he's cooking it into wonderful things, I want all the eggplant.

It helps that we both like our veggies in this house.

I, and all of DC, are preparing for a SNOWMAGEDDON tomorrow.  We might have 4-8 inches, or more, or less, but probably a lot of snow.  I don't own a parka anymore.  I don't own snow boots.  I moved away from Parkaland (aka, CT) because I hate being cold and getting snow in my shoes, so I am way over the horrible snow.

I am over the snow before it even got here.

In the meantime, I got home in just enough time to change my clothes and get ready to head out to Barre class where a really tough, super fun teacher is going to wreck me/supertone my quads.  If I get there early enough, I can spin out some of my whirling anxieties on the spin bike while I wait for class to start.

I better run so I have time to also have a snack!


Magical Hours, Sheep Yogurt, and Eggplant

Well, last things first.

M is going to be put on a temporary moratorium from buying EGGPLANT.  A few weeks ago, he came home with an eggplant, wanting to make me a grilled eggplant/garlic dish that makes a fabulous rice bowl ingredient.

A few days later, he brought home another eggplant.  Since he wanted to make a double recipe.

Then yesterday, he came home with two more.

So my spouse is impulse-buying eggplants.  Which I suppose is a much healthier habit than, say, betting on ponies, but now I have four eggplants in my fridge.  Which is why I'm cooked one into a Thug Kitchen dish and roasted another for baba ganoush, which is going to come to work with me.

He's going to have to come up with something for eggplants three and four.

SHEEP YOGURT:

I'm still trying to find dairy products that hit me with protein and other good stuff without hitting me with the high lactose that makes me so miserable.  The doctor believes that if I find something I can tolerate, I'll be able to gradually increase my tolerance to better levels.

I recently discovered sheep milk yogurt.  It's outlandishly expensive ($5.99 for 16oz), but so far, I've been having a good result.  Of course, I'm only eating 3 tablespoons a day! However, I crumbled a homemade energy bar over it yesterday for breakfast and it was delicious.

MAGICAL HOURS:

I do love our tiny postage-stamp of an apartment.  At sunset, this is just the most magical place.  The buildings on our side of the street cast a shadow, and the far side of the city lights up in a really gorgeous sort of glow.  I don't have a good camera right now, so I can't even try to capture it.  But we can see the National Basilica and the Washington Monument from our windows, and it is so good to watch them glowing in the setting sun.  The Cathedral is also gorgeous- the stone turns a sort of rose gold.

It encourages me to get home in time for sunset (which is easier as sunset gets later).

In fact, this place reminds me a bit of my first apartment in Arlington.  I used to pour a glass of wine and watch the sun set over Arlington, being happy that I didn't have to drive in the crazy traffic.  Things are a little more complicated as both M and I are figuring out our new commutes and when we get home, so it'll be a little while before we have a regular welcome home hour, but maybe we'll get there in a few months.

BTW, "welcome home" hour is not always cocktail hour.  Sure, sometimes we have wine (or beer for M), or a cocktail, but we are just as likely to make seltzer or OJ spritzers or tea for me in the cold months.  It's more about the act of a Delightful Beverage and the relaxing.

AS FAR AS GETTING HOME:

Cleveland Park is the metro that has the prettiest neighborhood to walk through.  That's mentally relaxing, to get a break from citystreetseverywheretraffic.  Tenleytown is the place to go to best see the sunset on the walk home.  But if the weather is bad, I grab a bus out of Foggy Bottom, which drops me off right in front of my apartment.  The bus in the evening is slow as molasses in an igloo, thanks to traffic, so it's a last resort.  If I'm trying to get to the gym or if I don't mind a walk, I found that the Georgetown Circulator can get me right to the gym, which is a short walk to home.

The Georgetown Circulator costs a 50 cent transfer (instead of $1.25 for the regular metro), and is really very accessible.  I'm going to see about dropping a set of clothes at the gym, hopping the circulator, and then the metro to work, meaning that my stuff will be waiting for me at the gym for later.




Sunday, March 1, 2015

I Sewed Stuff

This weekend, I made a terrible mistake.  I went to a consignment store (not the mistake) and I bought a pair of trousers (also not the mistake). As anyone who ever has to dress for work might know, women's dress pants are a minefield, designed more to bring you to tears and swearing in the dressing room than to make you feel good about your butt.  

Is it any wonder that so many women end up addicted to wrap dresses? I actually tried on a pair of pants that were roomy up around my waist and butt, but the legs were so skinny I had to physically massage my leg meat to get my gams in there.  And my legs are one part of my body I have always like. They are muscular, yes, but not overly large.  

I don't spend untold amounts of time checking out other women's bodies but this one pair of pants I was trying on... Let's just say you'd have to be built like a few pieces of PVC pipe topped by a beach ball to make the look work.  

I am seriously going to try those Betabrand trousers that are made for weightlifting women.  In my last few years of trying on pants, I have have a horrible time with anything that is not wide legged.  Basically, as my bike skill and endurance went up, my ability to fit pants went down.  

That means I could drop kick you over a mountain, but I will have to wear spandex to do it because so few real pants will fit me.  

So I found a magical pair of trousers.  They are a nice warm wool, they have pinstripes, and they had  a cool 3" cuff.  They may have never been worn... And they were made for someone about 6'2".  They just needed to be hemmed.  

On the way home, my cheapskate nature overtook my good sense, and I skipped the tailor and carried them right home. THIS was my mistake.  But I own a very nice sewing machine. I have hemmed a few pairs of pants in the past. How hard could a cuff be?  

Answer: pretty effin' hard.  

Bonus answer: tailors have skillz for a reason.  If you don't have six hours, a sewing mother, and a deep reserve of swear words and a sense of adventure, maybe just pay the tailor the $20. 

The Internet YouTube tutorials were next to nonexistant and mostly written for men's pants. You know what men's pants are not that my pants are? Flared.  It's a very slight flare, but it's still a flare, so that the pants are more snug around my thighs, and loose and swingy at the calves.  This makes them look good on my athelete butt because it balances out those fierce quads.*

This also means that the fabric does not line up perfectly and no matter how carefully I tried, I kept ending up with extra fabric. 

My text message to my mother said, in part, "I am going to set all the sewing machines in the world on fire. And then I'm going to find the evil lady on YouTube who tells lies lies lies."  The series of messages ended with the woe-filled, "you should write to me and make me feel better that I can't hem stupid flare pants on a stupid sewing machine.  Die sewing machine die."  

My mother, in a facetime call, said things about ease and hand sewing.  What she means is that the fabric won't line upon matter what you do, so you kind of shove it and bunch it up and pray to your deity of choice that it doesn't show.  Sewing people call it "easing". I call it, "really, people? You've been CHEATING all this time!?!" 

It really burns my butter that people have started charging for tutorials on YouTube. I got sucked in by a lady with fat fingers who was folding fabric and looking happy and who promised that sewing would save us money, make us happier, and teach us a skill that would make us feel more self-sufficient.  But her video cuts off in the middle of the first turn so you can't figure out what she is doing.  She marks stuff, cuts stuff, and then, boom, the pants are finished while she intones that you must buy her tutorial, to learn the magic of making a damn cuff.  

Did you know that every time someone charges money for an ameatuer quality video with crappy lighting that a baby unicorn drowns** in my tears?  

I'm too too cheap to pay so after I had trimmed my excess fabric, I was up a creek.  

That's when the swearing started. And the crying.  

It took me two hours plus today, but after my mother explained easing/cheating, I was able to hem the pants. It's not a beautiful effort on the inside and no real tailor will be fooled for a second.  But if any tailors are crawling around on the ground looking up my pants cuffs, they deserve to get stepped on. That's creepy behavior.  The pants are perfectly in order for a casual observer who will not be obsessed with my feet.  (And again, if you are that obsessed with my feet, you have more problems than I can help you with.). 



*dont even think about writing to me about toning exercises for those legs. I come from a muscular people and my power quads have hauled me up mountains on my bike.  I have plenty of body issues, but I have earned these quads.  I will not hesitate to dropkick haters to the middle of next week.  I can, you know.  

**no baby unicorns were harmed in the hemming of my pants. I threw them life preservers inflated with all the hot air from the copious amounts of swearing I was doing.