Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Ultimate Christmas Present

Remember the year of the Cabbage Patch Kid?

It was the year that everyone in the universe decided they had to have a doll with a rubbery head, simple yarn hair, and a cloth body.  They came in boy and girl models, so all the boys and all the girls wanted one.  They did not light up, walk, talk, or connect to our computers.  (This is probably a good thing, since in the mid-80s, all computers really did was play Pong and maybe give you dot-matrix printouts on computer printers that we had to load with special paper with perforated sides with holes in them.)  Cabbage Patch Kids were decidedly low tech. We wanted them SO BAD.

Parents and other grownups began appearing on the TV at night, in dire stories featuring mug shots taking after the latest fight.  In one story, reportedly, a woman in a babushka aimed a flying roundhouse kick at an off-duty police officer buying ice cream for his Little Brother, and a scuffle ensued, with a huge fight in the middle of the store aisle.  I'll never forget the images from the news that night as they dragged that nun away, screaming "You'll never get my orphans' cabbage patch kid!" while the firefighters hosed everyone in the vicinity, gleeful that the dolls were finally theirs.

My parents solemnly sat us down and explained that they would not be joining those adults on TV, and they would never fight other people for a toy, and we would not be getting a Cabbage Patch Kid.

Christmas Eve came.  As a child with Portuguese heritage, Christmas eve meant three things: we always went to church, we always ate codfish balls, and we always spent time with my mom's side of the family.  Those were great nights.

But then came a big surprise:  my brother and I were told that we could have one present from Santa... early!

We were both given a large box, which we naturally immediately destroyed.  Inside the destruction, we both found... a Cabbage Patch Doll.

Terror rose swiftly in both of us.  We had seen, first hand, the shame of children who went to the playground with fake Cabbage Patches.  There were signs of real-ness which were essential to avoiding playground shame, including the doll's belly button and the signed butt.  We had both seen the bullies who exposed button-less-bellies of "fake" dolls, and to this day, I'm not sure those children have ever recovered from the shame.

My brother rammed his hand down the nightclothes of his doll, longing, fear, anticipation all etched on his face until his little hand found the belly button.  "He's REAL! He's REAL!"  he started screaming.  I was busy seeking my own doll's bottom to look for the cursive writing, because everyone knew that real Cabbage Patches had signed butts.  I've got some speech issues, so I'm not sure how coherent I was in that moment when I found the writing and knew finally that the dolls were real Cabbage Patches.

This is Melissa. 

This is Melissa's bellybutton.

The real Christmas miracle that year was learning that we had parents who knew how to bend the rules and to get around the unimportant stuff to thrill their kids with what was really essential.

Church.

Codfish balls.

Family.

Dolls with belly buttons and cursive writing on the butt.

I didn't post a picture of the doll's tush, where you can still see the writing years later. That's partly because posting a doll butt just seems too weird for the internet, and partly because the writing includes real names and the year of 1985, and I try to keep real names private.  

In 1985, I was 6.  You see, at that age, neither my brother nor I could read cursive.  All we knew was that the squiggly writing was important.

We got our real dolls, with the belly buttons and the signed butts that night.

It would be a few years before we'd be able to read cursive and would learn that the writing on the butt was our mom's own name.  She'd found a kit somewhere and stitched them together secretly in the late nights.  But we didn't know that then...  all we knew was the our dolls had a belly button and cursive writing on the butt.

Real.

Best.  Christmas.  Ever.


Oh, it was pretty great that neither of our parents had gotten arrest for fighting while Christmas shopping.  That would have embarrassing.


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Year's End


These are the Zombie Portuguese dolls.  When I was a little girl, someone in my family gifted me with this set of dolls dressed up in Portuguese clothing- the little black biretta on the boys and the 17 skirts on the girls.

For some reason I was terrified of them.   Perhaps it is because their eyes broke early on, forever rolling up in their heads and revealing the empty stare of blue plastic.  I became convinced that the dolls were alive and attempted to throw them out.  (I'd seen snatches of Chucky playing at the video store.  I knew how to take my movies seriously.)

No matter what I did, the dolls always returned.  I'd find them under the bed... sitting on the bookshelf... laid casually at the foot of the stairs.

This only increased my terror of the dolls.  In fact, perhaps it had something to do with my deep fondness for both Little Pony and G.I. Joes.  Little Pony never looks like possessed zombies in traditional Portuguese clothes, and I was confident that G.I. Joe could kick the zombie's butts if need be.

I thought I had thrown them out for the last time when I moved out and took my stuff out of the basement.

When my parents bought their new house and moved thirty miles away, I found the dolls in a box in the attic.

I threw them away again, cackling in glee, convinced they could never survive a moving-house purging.

Last year, my mother found them... in a box, in the Christmas stuff.

She cackled with glee herself.  And put them in her Christmas tree where they probably still are to this day.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Podium???

So today I ran a 5K.  I ran the Jingle Bell Run with The Boss.  He'd been doing "Couch-to-5K" and wanted something else to do, so I suggested we run a race.  He found the Jingle Bell Run and off we went.



For the first time in my life, I almost missed the race.  The town of Eugene does not have its park parking lots street addresses listed.  So the address to which GPS, iPhone, and the town's own website directed me to was somewhere in the middle of nowhere or perhaps at the back of the park... nowhere near parking, packet pickup, or porta-potties.

And I'd had a LOT of coffee this morning.

Let's just say there was some frantic calling of The Boss, some driving while simultaneously GPS-correcting and phone-wangling, and finally, a desperate pull over to the side of the road when I saw two people wearing santa hats and candy cane codpieces to ask for directions.  God bless the candy cane codpiece couple.  They got me right on track.

The Boss declared I'd outrun him as he planned to run a 10:00 mile and just wanted to finish.  I was feeling extremely tired after a long drive to Portland yesterday and being up late, so I was fine with slow.

Then The Boss took off and held this punishing pace of 9:12.  Um, yeah, my average pace so far has been in the 9:40s.  So this was 30 seconds faster than I normally run.  I hate it when my body proves how much harder I can push it.  It was a hard run, but a good hard run.

You see what pushing things does to me?  I start saying things like "good" and "hard run" in the same sentence, AND I'M A CYCLIST!  I'm not supposed to enjoy hard runs.  They are supposed to make me suffer.

The course was mostly nice and flat with a charming little uphill swell right in the middle.  We only saw Santa at the beginning of the course, though, and the carolers weren't caroling for us as we ran off.  However, the race director had a charming touch of using a giant candy cane as the front-of-the-race pace pole.  Near the turnaround, I saw the fast people chasing the kid with the cane.

As always, the first mile and a half were misery and pain and blackness of the dark night of the Achilles tendon.  But around mile 1.5, something cleared up and the running became smooth and easy.  I'm starting to associate that with finally getting fully warm.  It takes me a LONG time to get happy, but once I hit that happy point, it's... easy to hold a strong pace.  So the second half of the race was pretty charming and happy.  Even my tight hip flexor was warm and mobile.

I'M A CYCLIST!  I SWEAR!  I SWEAR, MY BELOVED TREKS!  YOU WILL ALWAYS BE FIRST IN MY LITTLE HEART!

Nearing the end, The Boss had a strong sprint left in him, and I managed to drag myself over the finish line in a surprising 28:40.  The Boss's wife, being sharp of eye and attuned to what her husband and I REALLY run races for, pointed us to the many boxes of pizza. Bless you, Boss' Wife, for you do rock greatly.  Whatever ire was left from the getting-lost situation earlier dissolved as I saw what looked like dozens of pizzas- ample pizza for everyone- and floated away on a sea of pepperoni steam.  Maybe all winter races should provide steaming hot pizza.

I've just checked the official results, and discovered to my shock that I was actually 3rd in my age group.  The unofficial results had me at #5 in my age group, so we didn't stick around.  And now I've discovered that I won a ribbon, and blithely strolled away from my first running ribbon and podium finish here in Eugene!

Good job to The Boss for a strong run!  Clearly, we need to do this again, because he's got a lot of speed left to build, and I must go get another ribbon.  And now that I've discovered that I can hold a 9:14 pace, there's no more 9:40 slacking off for me.  I'm ruined, I say, ruined.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

In a Rut?

I was having coffee this morning with a dear retired guy from our community (over at Provisions in the 5th St. Market which has a delightful salted caramel latte, wowsers, the amazing coffee in this town!) when we started talking about our past lives.  In my first job, I lived in Arlington VA.  I loved that city.  I had a palace of an apartment on the 7th floor of a high rise.  It had a hallway, a gas stove, a balcony, and it was 800 square feet of heaven.  I lived above Bob and Edith's diner (which was across the street).  And just down Columbia Pike, there was a sweet little Thai place.

Being single, I resolved I would not allow myself to molder alone in my apartment.  I took myself out to dinner at least once a week, table for one, thank you.  The Thai place quickly became a favorite.

I love Thai food, and my little benchmark is the panang curry.  I don't care about anything but how they make their panang.  If the panang is good, I return.  I know this is illogical and probably bad form and that judging a Thai place on the strength of the panang curry is probably like judging a Mexican place on the strength of its frozen margaritas, but this how my taste buds work and I stand by my unfeeling snap judgements.  Be glad that I'm a priest and not your kid's elementary choir director, ok?

I had always considered myself an adventurous eater, and in fact, had visions of being the sort of person who would walk into restaurants, be greeted by name by the hostess who would show me to my favorite stool and give me a drink and a Christmas card, and then be welcomed by the chef, who would (in my fantasies) come out of the kitchen for me, his most adventurous customer.  "Ach," would say the chef, "You are always such a delightful, unpredictable person.  I revel in the fantastic flights of creativity to which you inspire me!"  And I would try every dish on the menu.

Until the day came when I walked into my favorite Arlington Thai place, and the waitress greeted me by name, showed me to my favorite table, and, giggling, said, "OK, I get you your panang now, OK?"

To my abject horror, I was in a rut.

I stuttered and got a menu, and ordered a pad Thai even though I don't like pad Thai and wasn't eating chicken at the time, because it was different gawdammit and I was going to be unique.

I swore I'd never be in a rut again.  At least not foodwise.

Here in Eugene, I read a blog post by a parishioner in which she references the Oscar Meyer wiener song.  Being overcome by the desire for a hot dog (I usually never eat hot dogs and don't really like them all that much, but sometimes, desire is inexplicable and visceral, and I am very sorry), I headed across the street to the closest place I know for hot dogs:  Dickie Jo's.

Dickie Jo's holds a special place in my heart.  On my interview weekend, the priest-in-charge took me and Martin there, and I walked in, and saw an entire row of jars and jars of Siracha sauce.  In Connecticut, people make fun of me for my deep love of Siracha, and here it was IN PUBLIC.  My heart sang, and my spirit rejoiced.  And they have an excellent veggie burger.  Since then, Dickie Jo's and I have had a very special sort of relationship.

Today, I walked in, and the counter staff's eyes light up and they greet me and start pulling out the water glass and say, "The veggie burger for you today?"  And I shuffled my feet and stared at my grey cowboy boots in shame, and discovered...

I now have a food rut here in Eugene.

And I stammered out, "Actually, no, I'm here for a hot dog today.  And no fries."

That'll show them how wildly adventurous and creative I am.


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Advent Waiting

Last year's Christmas Card, captioned "Because Advent Waiting is Different for Everyone".  This is the Countdown to Christmas Nativity set, which encourages adding extra animals.  M took it on himself to add the Red Tide.  

Advent means different things to everyone.  This year, we are in a new state on a new coast.  We've moved about as far away from our earlier life as you could while still remaining in one country.

Advent this year is a welcome new year.  No more grad school or board certification interviews.  No more proving ourselves.  Just some time to just be.

With apologies for the crummy picture, this is one of the coolest Nativity sets ever.  (It flips over to become a Lent set.)  

Advent comes just before Christmas.  This one is tough, because I usually like giving and receiving gifts.  My favorite way is "family unit gifts" where each family unit gives something to the other family units, to enjoy as a group.  Cookies, a Wii game, something like that.  But this year I just have no energy for shopping or sending.  I don't even have energy to drag the Countdown Nativity set out, and I love the Countdown Nativity set.  I want to sit in my de-cluttered, minimally decorated living room with non-seasonal knitting and drink non-Christmassy drinks like gin and tonics and watch zombie shows on TV.

I love Advent and I love the quiet time my parish is setting up.  I love the work.  I love the season.  I just don't have any energy at all for the secular side of it this year- the Christmas tree and the spending and the eating and all that.

I wonder if I have gone Full Scale Scrooge, or if I'm having some sort of reaction to the overselling from merchants since September.  I confess I want to go to Nordstroms partly because they refused to decorate until after Thanksgiving.  And I refuse to shop at Best Buy this year because they wrote about how much they wanted to stay closed on Thanksgiving but felt pressure from other retailers to open.  (My response: have some balls, Best Buy, and stay closed, and tell people about it.)

In the meantime, I am enjoying my quiet Advent day of reflection (part of which included the reflection above) and am looking forward to heading home in a few hours to do some non-seasonal cooking.

Most interestingly, I played a role I think we had not anticipated: Quiet Day Chaplain.  A solid handful of people came to talk quietly about some of the spiritual work they were doing today and it was some fascinating conversations indeed.  On one hand, I feel I am so not qualified to be hearing these stories and confessions and wonderings and to be offering any kind of a response.  But on the other hand, it's kind of what I felt like I was born to do- it was one of those days when things just fit.

I loved the Quiet Day part of Advent, and feel actually ready now for the season.  Though still not ready for the shopping!

Perhaps I'll bake my famous Star Wars Christmas Cookies for the teens sometime this month.  Nothing says Christmas like a Darth Vader cookie with peppermint royal icing on the back, right?
Oh, yeah!  Just try to tell me you don't feel the holiday spirit coursing through you already.



Monday, November 28, 2011

Facebook is Creepy

So I've been struggling with Facebook for a little while now.  On one hand, it is exceptionally useful for staying in touch with my far-flung family and friends.  I love other people's baby pictures and birthday parties, and now that I'm way away on the west coast, I need my fix.

On the other hand, I started my profile for work and have always viewed it as work.  I have at times fallen victim to the Overshare Mentality, but I hope that sites like STFUParents will cure me of my tendency to imagine that my life is all that interesting.  (Just read the Storytime tags if you need to be cured.)

I discovered late yesterday that people could see more of "my" stuff than I'd realized.  Thanks to that annoying feed at the side of the screen, this total stranger could see a personal message my teenage cousin posted on my wall.  I've also discovered that even though I have very strict privacy controls on my account, it doesn't prevent things from showing up if others don't have those controls.  I set all pictures of my nieces and nephews to be visible only to certain family members.  But I found that if my brother doesn't do that, the pictures still go in the public feed.  And then pictures of my baby niece can end up... in that annoying public feed at the side of the screen.
 

I find that creepy.  Why on earth would any stranger be interested in the adorable picture of my very, very cute curly haired niece is beyond me.  I know, I love babies as much as anyone else... but this is a STRANGE baby in a STRANGER'S HOME.

Let's have a little demo:
Appropriate Knowledge for Strangers: knowing that I am married and have no kids.
Response: Let's chat about the weather.
Inappropriate Knowledge for Strangers: knowing what kind of cake my nephew ate for his birthday party.
Response:  Ohmygawd, Creepy Stalker!  (Roundhouse kick to the head.)

Facebook just doesn't seem able to get that... and with every permutation of their site, they seem to share more and more and more public information.  (No, I really don't care what articles my friends read in their online daily local newspaper.)

That explains why I un-familied all my family.  I no longer have Facebook cousins, siblings, aunts or uncles, or a mom.  Sorry, mom.  I'm hoping that maybe this will keep things from showing up in that annoying public feed.

As a priest, I live a weirdly public life.  I get that.  I accept it.  I knew what I was getting into when I signed on to this.  I need to know what my Bishop looks like and to have an easy, casual way to drop a line.  I do not need to know what his brother's kitchen looks like or what his nephew eats for breakfast.

This is the line in the sand that Facebook is crossing.

Facebook is supposed to be about small talk and chit chat.  It crosses a line when it surmises that all relationships are equal.  This just isn't true.  Relationships are essentially different- what I tell my best friend is radically different than the sort of news I'll share with a work colleague or my sister.

Because at the end of the day, I signed up for this.  I knew what I was getting into.  My family supports me (mostly), but they didn't sign up for the public life.  They didn't sign up to have their baby pictures viewed by strangers in North Dakota.  They didn't sign up to have people who are interested in what sort of bread they baked or their theological views on the Rt. Rev. Budde's ordination vestments (my take: the woman needs a good tailor for her vestments, but her command of the cardigan is admirable).  They didn't even really get a choice as to whether or not they would be my family (mostly).

So I have no more Facebook family, in the hopes this might protect them a little more.  Facebook is rapidly becoming the virtual equivalent of the unwelcome drunken neighbor at the Christmas party- the one who brays on in a loud voice in the corner and who we all secretly hope will just either leave or fall asleep in the corner before she embarrasses herself anymore.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Bike! Turkey! Stuffing!

As I was drifting in and out of sleep this morning, I was dreaming.  I had gotten up as day was dawning to peep out the window- and saw plenty of nice clear sky.

Not the view outside my window, but a similarly clear day.  (Spencer Butte, if you want to go there yourself.)


Clear sky makes me excited.

Dawn makes me tired.  So I went back to bed and back to sleep for a bit.  But I was drifting in and out of dreams.

First I dreamed it was bright and sunny, and in the dream I took my bike out.  Sadly, I replaced the wheels with manhole covers and the handling was terrible.  That'll teach me not to watch Mythbusters too late at night.  Thanks, Adam, for the manhole cover flat tire fix.

Then I dreamed it was raining. I spent that dream putting on all my rain gear and explaining to a duck why it was a good idea to go riding.  The waterfowl in my dreams was quite disapproving.

Also not outside my window, but demonstrating the amount of rain in the dream.  


Then I dreamed it was bright but there were leaves coming down everywhere, burying me and my bike so I couldn't move. Then I woke up enough to realize I was smothering myself in the comforter.  Rearranged, I went back to sleep...

Real Tree in Oregon. 


Where it was raining again.  This time, I decided to take my MTB out and ride trails except I couldn't find my way to the trails so I spent all the dream on the road, on a MTB.  Honestly, that's almost nightmare territory.

Ultimately, when I finally did wake up, it was bright and sunny for real.  It was also 37 degrees.  This explains why I was wearing bright pink longjohns under my jersey and jacket, but I was cozy as a bug in a rug.

(No photos of pink long johns.)

I rode a 20 mile figure 8- down from my house to the Fern Ridge path, then on to the 10-mile loop the tri club did all summer, and then up around 18th.  I love the 10 mile loop since it's scenic, flat and fast.

End of the Fern Ridge Path, looking in the direction of Sisters, which you could see with your eyes
(but not with a camera).



The distorted car cracks me up. 



Sadly for me, my front chain ring is locked up again.  The cable is super-tight.  I know HOW to fix it, but I lacked the finger strength and dexterity in the field.

So I rode that puppy home, on the big ring, in one speed.  That's right- stuck on my big ring, going into the HILLS.

Thank you for existing, Thanksgiving.

By the time I got back, some terrible movie about taxidrivers who beat people up was on.  I enforced Holiday TV Law and got the channel changed to the Macy's parade and the Dog Show and football.  I was saving The Ten from himself, really.  Then I made a huge pot of pumpkin pastina risotto and The Ten (M) and I went over my boss' family's house and we shared a fabulous Thanksgiving meal.
My go-to hostess gift this season: English Cabbage Pickles.


I can never eat anyone else's green beans again.  Those were de-lish-ious.  Wow.

We also discovered Charlotte Russe and Secret Ingredient Pumpkin pie.  We played Creationary and I knitted.  We discussed the website to go to in order to sign up for the Jingle Bell Run.  There are several distance options, but I'm going to 5K this one, since I'm not running it for a PR.  We are going to get The Boss his first PR.

Looking forward to going outside again tomorrow!

Ditching Black Friday, Football Loyalty, and Thankful for...

http://kathybagioni.com/?p=119My mom posted something on her blog about Black Friday.  She gives you a helpful guide for how to get the most out of the day.

I pointed out that the greatest skill on Black Friday is the ability to harden one's hard to the consistency of sandstone.  You know, easy to scratch (so you can feel the bloodlust of the stuff you are at the store in pursuit of) but hard enough to hurt (because you'll need to be dispassionate enough to sucker-punch your own grandmother if she gets to a deal before you).

Poor grandmother.  It goes without saying that no one in my family would ever approve of sucker-punching one's grandmother at any time.  I imagine it would have a seriously detrimental effect on one's future ability to be fed soda and pie.

Years ago, my favorite part of Thanksgiving, was cheering football.  True, basketball season meant we got to do more interesting stunts and routines, but I have always preferred the football season.  The cheer uniforms were cuter, we got to use our giant size poms, and I just like the game better.  Quite aside from it being great fun, it usually meant I could justify more pie.

These days, my football loyalties have settled on the U of O Ducks and the Redskins of my beloved DC.  My other dedication in football is leading the charge on Anti-Patriot-ism.  I loathe the Patriots with a deep dark loathing deep in my heart and I don't care how well you think Tom "Same Haircut as Justin Bieber" Brady plays.  My new dream in life is to corrupt my Junior Warden's daughter.  He loves the Patriots and is leading her down that dark path.  There may still be hope for her soul.

In the category of things I am thankful for, I'm definitely obeying the orders of a friend of mine to enjoy the use of my legs.  She would definitely want me to get out there tomorrow morning and bike or run somewhere and enjoy it.  So I give thanks for a functional body (even with that persistently achy and tight hip- where's my foam roller!) and might go run the Holli tomorrow.  (That's my 5K route that I named after her.)  I want to go on a little bike ride, but I'm a little leery of the many wet leaves down and scared of imminent crashes.  The Ten (formerly M) went running with me today for a 28 minute 5K.

And you know what?  I'm thankful that my life consists of having tomorrow off duty.  I'm thankful for  friends who come from the entire political and religious spectrum and actually like all of them for reasons that have nothing to do with their politics or religion.  I'm thankful to be among the community here in Eugene, and to work with awesome people in what might be the happiest parish I have ever been in.

There's a lot to be thankful for this year.




Sunday, November 20, 2011

1:00:00 wall... bye bye.

For the record...

58:14 for today's 10K.  I appeared a little sad (ok, extremely sad) at the finish, as I misunderstood the clock and thought the clock was my official time.  (I came through at 1:11:something.)  The clock, however, showed the time for the HALF MARATHON.

So for a long time, I was all downtrodden and sad thinking I had run a 1:11-plus 10K.  (And I had thought I was pacing so WELL today!)

Man, am I glad I decided to check the posted race results up near the EWEB building, as I wanted to know my exact time to post in my great sadness.  I went to the results and just couldn't find my name anywhere in the 1:11's.

Then my speed-reading eyes caught a glimpse of my last name... on the next page up.  I had found M's name next to a time of 1:00:04!  I had come through a few minutes ahead... so hardly daring to hope, I raised my eyes a little higher...

And started squealing like a little girl!  There it was- 58:14!!!

Whoo hoo!

Salve for the soul on this weekend when the Ducks lost (so sad!) and Stanford won (meaning the Ducks lost twice because the league championship was gone, gone, gone) and the Redskins were run over the Evil Cowboys.

Now to sign up for the next race... my boss is soon to run his very first 5K.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Home Improvement and that 1:00:00 10K Wall

Tomorrow, I am planning to run the EWEB Race to Stay Warm 10K.  I know I am super-serious about this race because I passed up the opportunity to buy the T-shirt for $25 extra dollars.  I am once more chasing my 10K 1:00:00 wall.  At Nation's, I was 1:00:05, so I can taste a sub-1:00 10K.  If I can avoid the cramps and keep well fueled, I'll be good.  I hope.

Meanwhile, I have been sort of busy on vacation.  In addition to sleeping very late, staying in my jammies until irresponsible hours, reading two books so far, and reactivating my dormant Netflix account, I finally decided to be responsible enough to clean the bathroom and mop the floor.  Such is the sexy life of the Vagabond, who has not yet located a well-recommended cleaning service here in Eugene.

I have a few actual big projects, though.    

Several months ago, the Pilgrimage class held a Parking Lot Sale as their big fundraiser.  It has brought in over $4400, and I scored a leather couch and this.
Its general vibe is Man-Cave Spec-TACK-ular.  The price was right ($4) and the wood was solid, but I knew from the moment I saw it that it would get refinished like nobody's business.

I like the look and character of wood, and I didn't want to bother replacing the smoky grey tempered glass, so I decided to strip the finish and thought of going to bare wood and re-staining, perhaps in a driftwood grey.  You know, all beachy and boho in my discombobulated house.
The large square block is the top of my pulpit-bookcase.  While I'm still waiting for the shelves to turn up and considering if it should be a pulpit-winerack-bookcase, the stripping cream worked like a charm on that piece, and it came out perfectly.  I stained it a lovely reddish brown, and a little polyurethane later, it is simply glowing with coolness.

Three further applications of goop to the coffee table later and I had concluded that the previous stain job was just never going to get me to bare wood. The stain had penetrated unevenly.  Not only was the stain uneven, but to get to bare wood, I'd either need serious patience, or decent power tools.  I have little patience, and my power tools consist of a drill.

When I did previous projects, I had a nearby father who owned several lifetimes worth of power tools.  And I always suspected he snuck into his workshop between visits and did touchups on spots I missed.  With no dad here to do that, it was all me and my coffee table.


This was after much sanding and goop applications.  It was never going to be stainable again.

So I set up for Plan B in my dedicated home improvement space:

Why, yes, that IS my dining room.  I have since de-cluttered the hutch a little.

And everyone needs good lighting for the sewing machine...
Like the kitchen.

This is hard-core home improvement, people.  All you slackers with dedicated workrooms and garages... fear me.  Martha Stewart already does.  And that weeping sound you hear is my poor sainted mother wondering how she gave birth to a child who thinks it is proper to sew in the kitchen.

I wonder if my mom realizes I laid out her quilt on my kitchen counter?  That is a HARD-WORKING COUNTER, there, babies.

Then I went to Lowe's and picked out several delightful colors of paint.  I had gotten a nice fabric to replace the magazine sling with.  Bye-bye ugly leather-and-canvas man-cave thing.  I have a print now.  As always with paint, it took several trials to figure out which one would actually WORK in my space.  The lighting at Lowe's is totally different than here.  So what looked like a soft driftwoodsy grey there was gun-metal here.  And that cranberry red was actually hot pink translucent.  (Ew.)

I settled on what had been a beigey brown there that actually is a grey with brown undertones- exactly what I was shooting for but didn't look like it.

It may also be that the paint guy is clueless and screwed up.  But it worked.

The primer was $8.  But I was able to get a sample size of paint- those little half-pint sizes you can get for $2.94.  So total for the project was under $10.

And here is our "new" coffee table.

Ever put up a photo and realize that you didn't clear the background of said photo AT ALL?  Like this.  

The couch and the table.  Ahhh.  

Cue the whining from all those who will tell me how I bastardized the beautiful wood and destroyed the character of the man-cave classic.  I'm just pleased that now I have a coffee table I can live with that fits the house.  Next up- replacing the Ikea Poang footstool with storage cubes and demonstrating the power of design to my poor addled husband who doesn't understand the grievous visual impact of clashing wood.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Vagabond Vacation

I guess we must be into those famous grey days here in Oregon.  It rained yesterday, hard enough that I actually looked at the rain boots.  I think it might not be a bad idea to get a pair.  I DO have Wellies, but those are Serious Hardcore wellies- green and everything- and hardly suitable for running errands.  But if you need anyone to muck out your horsestall, call me.  I am so your girl.

While on vacation I have been doing home improvement projects.  Among others things, we still haven't hung many pictures and I still have most of my jewelry sitting in a canvas shopping bag, as my jewelry holder was destroyed in the move.  (Oh, packers, how efficiently destructive you are.)  My projects for these two weeks:

-replace jewelry holder, hopefully by making one from repurposed items around house.  This is not because I am design savvy but because I am frugal.

-refinish the coffee table.
Found at the Parking Lot Sale for 4$, we are trying to take this from Man Cave to Living Room.  

-make cover for the piano, finally ceding the win to the cats and admitting they will always jump on my piano no matter where it is.

They love jump on my piano with their dusty little feet.  It doesn't matter where it is located.

-knit rag rug.
So far, so good.  This is made from the duvet cover that the kitties tore a hole in.  Hmmm... since getting married, between M and the cats, my things have a much shorter life expectancy.  Boys are destructive.


Bike riding is a little complicated at the moment.  After the last crash resulted in crutches and a bruise that lasted over a month, I find myself in the usual stage of post-crash road-shy.  I have had all three bikes out since the crash, but in the last week, the leaves have finally started coming down in earnest.  I'm a little nervous about hitting a patch of leaves and wiping out.  Of course, on wet roads and wet leaves, the road rash probably wouldn't be that bad. But what about the Giant Black Dogs of the Leaf Piles?  You know, the ones lying in wait in leaf piles to leap up and devour hapless little girls who jump into the leaf piles.

I might always suspect that was just a myth made up by a mean neighbor who didn't want me jumping in his leaf piles on the way home from school.

And on wet trails... between mountain lions and those steep drop offs, I think I'll wait to ride with buddies for a bit.



On Sunday, I'm running the EWEB Race to Stay Warm.  There's a 5K, 10K, and Half-marathon option. I picked the 10K with the aim of finally breaking my 10K 1:00 hour wall.  My last 10K was 1:00:05.  Just five seconds off, and that was after a 40K bike and in hot sun with humidity.  This is looking to be cool, and I'll be fresh.  Unfueled morning 5Ks are running me at 27-29 minutes these days, so I think this bodes well.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Life in the Southwest Hills: Running, no Bricks

I live in the southwest hills .  This means I live a little higher than regular Eugene, up a few hills.  This bodes wells for many things.

Among other benefits, the zombies in the zombie apocalypse will have to climb hills to get to my place, which I think means that I stay safer longer.  Plus, I have a great view.  Of the hills, I mean, not of the zombies which don't exist.  But if they did, I'd have a great view of them, too.

I also have "running buddies" like these...


These are the wild turkeys which live in the woods surrounding my complex.

I took off on a run this morning not running for time or distance, but just to get the pre-vacation jitters out. You know, the ones you get when you feel very ready yet totally unprepared for vacation.  So I went out and up the hills.  My regular 5K route goes downhill and loops into the flats, meaning the cooldown portion (post 5K) is the only bit that goes back uphill.  So going up the hills in the beginning means I run even higher into the hills and end up covering some very, very steep territory.

Today was 50 degrees out so a decent day.

I need to get some swim time in- so far, I think we only have pool access at 6AM Wednesday and 7AM Saturday and I am realizing that I just really hate those kinds of hours.  Argh.  But I need the swim time, so I might not have a choice, eh?

Bike time is decent.  I took the Bambino out on the roads the other day.  With a saddle adjustment (coming forward about an inch and a half), I feel much more balanced and centered... I'm back to lifting the Bambino over obstacles like train tracks and curb bumps.  I have lost all faith in my ability to either cross tracks or bunny hop curbs on the Bambino, ever.  I think Bambino needs to stay two wheels to the ground at all times, period.  It was a fast ride, though- my computer showed me pacing 18mph plus most of the way.

The eating tracking has also been interesting.  I'm discovering that I have no problem with carbs, but keeping my fat low is a challenge.  It's very easy to think "Cheese!  Nuts!  Protein!" and not just protein, but TASTY protein!  Of course, the healthy thing to do is to throw some chicken breast on my salad, but here's the thing... I just don't like chicken breast all that much.  It's not that I won't eat it... it's just not what I think of eating, given the choice.

What I do think of eating are sandwiches.  Perhaps a nice cheese sandwich.  And what's a pizza but an open faced cheese sandwich smeared with pureed vegetables?

Sadly, that kind of thinking, while accurate according to the statistics that I make up, is not cutting it with the hard, cold, thoroughly unfeeling app on my phone that tells me that pizza has too much fat and carbs for me to call it a good protein source.

This kind of cold hard truth is making it very difficult to figure out what to eat these days.  But I had so better benefit from it come Sunday, when I run EWEB's Race to Stay Warm.



Thursday, November 10, 2011

Going to Convention as an Honest Woman

Have I mentioned that I'm running the EWEB 10K on the 20th, along with several other triclub members?  Yeah.  I'm chasing that sub-1:00 10K wall yet again.  I'm 5 seconds away... just 5 seconds!  Which means I need to eat well, since the lighter I am, the faster I am.  Meanwhile...

I am going to Diocesan Convention this afternoon.  It's where the Diocese (the geographic collection of a bunch of Episcopal Churches) gets together to hobnob with our cool Bishop (who wears Vans), hear some presentations, have some fellowship, and vote on various resolutions that will hopefully help govern our common life.  I'm not canonically resident at this point- meaning the Bishop of Connecticut is still the Bishop in charge of me- but Oregon has given me "courtesy of the floor" which means I'll be able to at least sit with the uber-cool delegation from St. Mary's.

They decided that they'd wear Ducks sweaters one day.  So now I have to go visit a parishioner who works at the Duck Store and get her to help me pick out an awesome Ducks sweater.  My job is so awesome like that.

I also cleaned my kitchen counters today so it looks so clean and tidy and I feel like a Responsible Adult.  SCORE!

In other news: I've been tracking what I eat this week.  Loseit has really updated its app which makes it a hundred times easier to use.  (The last time I tried it, I had to enter things like tempeh as "custom foods".)  I've also discovered Sparkrecipes where I can enter some of my own recipes from home, and it'll give me the break down.  So far, it's been helping me to decide if it's time to throw in more tofu to that dish or not.

Usually, it is.

Luckily, I love tofu.  As in, I'll eat it raw right out of the package.

Please don't judge me.

I was happy at the nutrition consult to discover I was down a solid 7 pounds from my all-time-high weight in CT.  (It is such a sad number I won't even share, but let's just say my loosest pants were too tight and my favorite pants were hopeless.)  So over the winter, I'm hoping to slowly let my weight settle at a healthy sustainable number... one where I can maintain a healthy number without too much pain.

For the record, that is about 40% carbs, and 20% fat, and 30% protein.  So far, my best day was yesterday when I hit 50% carbs, 25% fat, and 25% protein.  It's a work in progress.

And now I will go to Convention, where I shall endeavor to eat according to plan while eating convention food.

Monday, November 7, 2011

What Triathlete Priests Do As Winter Approaches

The other week, I went to Sisters, OR for a retreat with the ECW.
This is what Lake Suttle looks like.  And yes, I did think:  Open water... running trail... wide open roads...
who else is thinking TRAINING SERIES?  


We focused on the theme of miracles, led by a lovely retreat leader.  She's a novelist.  I am constantly amazed at the incredible people here.  It goes to show that my psyche is settling down... and perhaps how warped my evil brain had become.  Working in the trauma hospitals for the last 4 or so years, I had started to think that everyone who came in was insane and/or hiding a meth addiction, at least.  I had lost my perception of normal.  Trauma hospitals really do warp your sense of reality.

I'd forgotten there were normal people out in the world.  Being back in the "regular world",  is like finally taking a deep breath after swimming under water for a while.

I do love chaplaincy... but I'm not called to general medicine.  Hmm... it's an interesting project, figuring out how to live out one's call as a chaplain when certain avenues of chaplaincy are closed and one still loves the parish.  I mean, you really can't beat the flexible schedule and the fun to be incredibly creative with the writing and the teaching.  And how many jobs come with a soundtrack of little kids playing music down the hall?  The jingle bells may be cacophonous, but they are not boring.

On the way home from the Sisters retreat, I took the chance to drive over the McKenzie pass.  Each winter, the pass closes due to snow.  Each spring, they open the pass to cyclists about a month before it opens to cars.  I wanted to see how steep it was and think about which angle I might want to approach it from.  I'm thinking a Sisters approach and descent off the other side.  I don't know if this is kosher, and I'm sure real hard core climbers would go up and down both sides, stopping only on the top for a drink of mountain-fresh rain water.
Lava fields!  Sisters is a bunch of volcanoes!  I live near volcanoes now!

Heck to that.  I would climb up, sit down at the top, and eat me a sandwich.  Then I'd descend the other side, rack my bike, and go home and devastate every carbohydrate in the town of Eugene.



Anyway... now that tri season is officially in the "getting ready for next season" stage, we have officially joined the Multisport Advantage training center.  I went to TRX class the other day and Coach Cristina taught me a move called "The Pike".  You put your feet in straps, put your hands on the ground, and pull your hips up so your body is in the shape of a V, while you envision yourself in Cirque Du Soleil.  I wish I could blame my pathetic performance on my still-sore hand and elbow, but the reality is that my abs are mush these days.  That might have been the single most painful ab exercise I have done since high school.

For the winter, my goal is to try to whittle the rest of this CT pudge.  I'm down a solid seven pounds since we moved, and that was eating like a horse.  (I tried eating Paleo style, but with the endurance work, I really needed those carbs.  There's just no other way to fuel for long bike rides and runs.)  So I had a nutrition evaluation.  The Coach gave me the sad news that chocolate-chip-yogurt-bowls aren't necessarily the BEST idea every night, and so I'm going to be virtuous for a while.
For a lecture, one parishioner made this for dessert.  

For the Needle Arts Guild Potluck, I made these.  (Crustless quiche cups).  
Oh, virtue, I suffer so.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

St. Mary's Project: Update

Just a quick update:

The gracious note we received.  You are welcome to stop by if you'd like to see it as well. 


We've received word from Concerns of Police Survivors via a lovely thank you note from another survivor that the St. Mary's check was received and that it would help many people.  I had the chance to touch base with another member of the COPS organization who could tell me a little more about how the monies have gone directly to helping the Kilcullen family.  Ofc. Kilcullen's widow has already been sent to the spouses' retreat, and COPS is getting ready to send her and her family to National Police Memorial Week in May.  The money St. Mary's donated is helping make that easier.

One of the elements of this project that I loved is how many people from all over the parish donated:  there were people who donated who are not necessarily fans of police and who question constantly the role of law enforcement because this is Eugene and questioning authority is just a fact of life... but they still donated to this project because they felt strongly about supporting a family in our community, and because they believe that God would want them to reach out to others who suffer.

I think we are tremendously lucky in our Eugene officers.  And I am tremendously lucky to have been called to be a part of this community where we can disagree on philosophy, but still come together to do to others what we would want others to do for us.


Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Scariest Ride Of My Life: Oregon, MTB style

So, last year after my first big-girl tri (Nation's Tri, 2010), the Team in Training coaches advised us to take the fall and just do fun stuff.  The coach told me to not run (as I had been suffering all summer) and maybe try something like mountain biking.

I first took my hybrid up to West Hartford's Reservoir, and decided to try the extra off road bit that went beyond the paved path.  That was when I discovered the miles of unpaved trails at the Reservoir.  On that first day, I kicked the butt of two macho guys on fancy MTBs who thought they were the hottest of the hot until they got their tails whupped in the first climb by the chick on the hybrid.

The hybrid was all wrong for real trail riding, though- the wheels were too slick and the handle geometry just wrong.  So I borrowed my brother's MTB.  Eventually, I traded him a computer and kept the mountain bike for mine, all mine.

And then we moved to Oregon.  I spent the summer riding roads with the tri club and Hutch's and Martin and some new friends like UberCyclist and SuperCruiser and all by myself... and finally, along came fall.

Today dawned bright and blue and clear.  I'd been doing some light running so I was feeling pretty hearty.  Well, yesterday I had my first TRX class ever and our tri coach kicked my butt.  Wow.  I think maybe I might have strained that right leg muscle a little more than I thought because those plank moves... ahoy.  But still, today = bright and clear and it would have been a sin to stay inside.  Besides, I also have a sermon to finish for tomorrow.  While the research is all done, I just couldn't think of a focus.  Often, I find the bike ride offers clarity to sermons.  So I frequently go riding or sometimes running to bust out of a homiletic rut.

Today I went to Dilliard.  I have written before of my love for the Dilliard trail- mostly flat with a little rolling that makes you feel like rockstar.

M dropped me off, and I climbed onto my trusty Trek and discovered that Dilliard had transformed itself into a mountain.  A giant, scary mountain.  That first gentle incline was a sheer rock wall and the gravel spread was actually composed of ginormous boulders.  At least, that was what I thought.  Thus began the Scariest Ride of My Life.

Once I had hiked up that first incline and found a relatively flat space, I got back on and started rolling.  Did you know that my friendly Dilliard Street trail is really a narrow rut jutting out over a steep hill covered in rocks and lush greenery full of mountain lions and downed trees?  Let's just say that the hill, which I previously found charming, unnerved me a little today.  Terrified, even.

I had to pull over twice to allow small children and their parents to pedal their own MTBs past me.  The six-year-old little boy shouted something that sounded like, "WHEEEEEE, YAY, DADDY!  HI, LADY!"  But I'm sure he meant, "WATCH OUT FOR THE HAIRPIN SWITCHBACK TURN AND THE GIANT BOULDERS!  WE"RE ALL GOING TO DIE!"

These Oregon children are so charming.

In the end, I rode to Dilliard and back, and then took the other side of the loop and back.  Hey, guess what?  It's a loop trail, after all!  Yeah!

Oregon MTB riding is totally unlike East Coast (ahem, Connecticut) riding.  What I used to think was a MTB ride is actually what Oregon considers the kiddie park.  I'm getting schooled in a whole new level of riding out here.  It definitely shakes me out of my comfort zone.  It's unlike road riding or any sort of trail riding I've done before- where I was used to hitting a zone and just zooming high speed because there were no bumps or serious drops to worry about, I find my hands locked on those bars, steering a little twitchily while I navigate around that tree stump and try to keep my eyes focused on the path and not on the 15 foot drop to my left.

I'm sure as I get acclimated, I'll relax and get used to it.  And Dilliard will be back to my favorite trail in no time.

Oh, and by the way... yeah, I think that sermon focus came through after all.

Monday, October 17, 2011

A New Sense


It happened again.  The latest "brand new cochlear implant, watch this person hear for the first time ever" video.  Sure, you can watch it here. (Disclaimer: The woman in the video is a real person who also keeps a blog (which I won't link to unless she is ok with that, but you can find it through the video links), and she seems brainy and passionate and positive- all things which make for interesting human beings, and which do go to show that different people have different experiences.  End disclaimer.) 

The video was posted by a lovely, passionate friend of mine who posts really interesting stuff.  She's posted a lot on the very interesting, if baffling, Occupy Movement. 

I hate these cochlear implant turn-on videos.   They make me angry. (Even if the person in the video seems to have a great time.)   I have a cochlear implant, and indeed it has transformed the way I live my life.  I can talk on a phone, hear people from another room, and watch TV or listen to the radio without needing captions.  (I still use captions, though, mostly because I am exceptionally lazy.)  

But I never had that moment of bliss at first activation.  Sound was not beautiful.   Indeed, for months afterwards, I really couldn't understand sound at all.  I was implanted at 20 after a long, slow progressive loss.  I suspect that by the time I was implanted, I had lost most of my memory of sound.  Besides, there were new noises in the world.  Computers make a high pitched hissing sort of sound.  I was just a little kid when I started losing my hearing, and we didn't have computers then.  I never knew that computers made that sound.  When I was "turned on", at first, I couldn't hear people speaking over the noise of the computers.  It took me months to figure out what "loud" and "soft" was.  

I remember watching a singer on TV and asking my mother if she was singing high or low.  For a musician like me, this was enraging.  It took months of playing scales to begin to re-learn pitch.  

I hate the videos of activation because it seems to show that the patient suddenly understands everything.  Comprehension is far from instant.  Thankfully, my dad had warned me that I might be turned on and experience a wave of "What the hell have I done to myself?"  I was indeed turned on and had precisely that thought.  

Sound sucked.  

It was a huge let down from what I was expecting.  Really, over the last 12 years, my most common thought about the miracle of sound has been, “Are you serious?  How did you people ever evolve?”  A close second is the overwhelming urge I have to smash those annoying little serenity fountains… which hearing person ever decided that the constant fake bubble of running water was soothing? 

Forget "I love you".  I still remember the first word I understood.   Figuring out what speech was took literally months. Cars driving by or the dishwasher running sounded exactly like a voice.    But one day, shortly before I left for England, I was at dinner with my family, and my sister asked for the ketchup.  That was the first word I understood, "ketchup".  (Sometimes I wonder if my 9-years-younger sister knows that her voice was the first one I ever really understood...)  

In England, I continued to struggle to understand what speech was... until one day, I was traveling with friends in Scotland.  We were hosteling around on a bus tour, and we were in a town, surrounded in a pub by tall burly men with really nice biceps.  (Yes, I do love that about Scotland.)  And suddenly, it was like something clicked, and abruptly, I began to understand speech.  One moment, I couldn't, and it was literally like someone flipped a switch.  To this day, the Scottish accent sounds like home to my ear.  

But simply having a cochlear implant did not put me on level footing with anyone else.  Sometimes I get frustrated with people who try to explain racial discrimination to me, with the assumption that because my skin is white, I don’t understand what it’s like to be a minority.  I would argue that as a deaf person, I know exactly what that is like to be one in a million. 

I’ve been watching Occupy Wall Street news as the protests have spread and gone global.  I’m not jumping on board the protest conga line for a few reasons.  First and foremost, I’m a priest who serves as a police chaplain.  I have always seen my role as choosing my public causes very carefully.  “My” officers and deputies deserve to feel like I’m a safe person.  There are some causes I am willing to put my name and face to- like marriage equality which has a definite goal and which I see as the great civil rights cause of my era. 

But Occupy?  I am not troubled by the fact of protests, but I am troubled by the lack of direction.  I am confused that the protestors don’t seem to be asking for anything, but just expressing their discontent.  Expressions of discontent are fine, but at some point, we need to move beyond, to begin to ask for payback.  The Civil Rights movement had specific goals:  Separate but not equal is not good enough.  We want to be served equally at a lunch counter.  We want to ride sitting down on the bus.  The Marriage Equality movement, I believe, will be successful because it also has specific goals:  Domestic partnership is separate and unequal.  We want marriage, to marry the person we love and to share the benefits society offers a couple who agree to live together under a formal contract. 

Occupy lacks that focus.  But I did see an interesting picture of a sign in my Facebook feed… it’s a common theme.  The person wrote of how she was in debt from school and would have to take on $136,000 in law school debt if she were to follow her dreams, and how she no longer believes in the American Dream.  You know, that idea that we can all achieve our dreams and live in comfort if we just work hard enough? 

I guess that if Occupy wins its undefined cause tomorrow and life somehow in some unknown way gets better, they can achieve their American dream of opportunity for the qualified. 

The American Dream has always been a lie to me.  As a deaf person, I knew from the days I was a teenager that certain career paths were irrevocably closed to me.  As I went into grad school and experienced the discrimination of the work place, I learned first hand that it is legal- completely legal- to deny me employment if you believe- without burden of proof- that I would be dangerous to my fellow employees.  People, please... I'm a chaplain.  I'm about as dangerous as a kitten, the really cute fluffy kind.  

I’m not even dangerous on the tri course.  (Well, except in Nation’s when I almost took out that poor Army girl, but I was getting hooked in the handlebars by a clumsy person behind me, so I’m off the hook, right?) 

I knew a long time ago that this country would never offer me equality.  I knew a long time ago that it would never matter how hard I worked… I’d always be a less-than. 

I hate knowing that it’s legal for me to be a less-than, and that it seems like I will never be on equal footing as people in my position who have less education and certification… because they are not less-thans, and I am.  

I wonder how anyone ever makes peace with that sort of injustice.  


Sunday, October 9, 2011

Healing and Waiting Stinks

Saturday my tri club had a little watch party for the Kona Ironman.  (It was also a fundraiser for one of our teammates who is heading to New Zealand for the World Championships next year.  I hang out with hardcore people like that now.)  I scheduled myself to ride in the middle of the bike leg (because bikes are the most fun, closely followed by transition.  So far, the most useful stuff I have learned has been watching other people transition!), and ended up meeting a lot of new friendly people.

Tri club (and Eugene) in general has been fun just for the sheer number of friendly people round town.  I think we've made more friends here in one summer than we did in CT in three years.  (Sorry, CT.)

Mackenzie Madison, one of our local Eugene pros, was there on her bike.  Another friend, John H, who is the guy going to the World Sprint Championships next year, described her actions as "punishing her bike". I think that is really quite an accurate description, and I say only that I bow to her.  I'd love to get a chance to watch her race some day!  Yes, Ms. Madison, I may go all fangirl geek on you.  Sorry!  

It was the first time doing any sort of real strenuous activity since the crash, which is going down in the books as the most annoying little crash ever.  Seriously, a curb causes all this trouble?  I had the interesting experience of watching my bruise change colors during the 1 1/2 hours I actually rode, with a number of stretch breaks.  My hip was not too happy with the movement, and I don't think the compression of the bike shorts helps.  On the bright side, I'm hopeful that getting blood moving around will be useful and helpful for the ultimate goal of "getting back to normal".  I mean, how many weeks can I spend heating and massaging a giant bruise for?

Meanwhile, I took the chance to run through a few little diagnostics on my bike.  Braking, shifting, cranks, pedals... all were pretty much okay (a few minor adjustments).  Ultimately, it made a little once-over trip to the nice guys at Hutch's who cleared it for the road.  They also confirmed my suspicions of a bent large chain ring, but the bend is very minor.

So it's all back to me having some serious conversations with a recalcitrant hematoma.  For whatever reason my body is not responding to my demands of overnight healing.  But I think that I'll have to work up to that via a week or so of yoga and pilates to stretch out all that sore tight crampy area.  

One aunt is pretty concerned about late-breaking blood clots, which I have to admit I have witnessed, so it's not a smart thing to push it too much.  On one hand, I have a bruise.  On the other hand, it's a hematoma that at one point was the size of a watermelon.  It's really annoying to be feeling better in most of one's body, but to have really stubborn painful sore spots in just one or two areas.  I'd feel a lot more legit about this whole thing if I were feeling tip-to-toe crummy like I was a few weeks ago. Instead, it's just waiting and allowing the bruise to heal and the swollen bit to recede.

Yeah, I'm excellent at waiting.

Lucky for me, UberCyclist is dangling the carrot of playing with bikes and installing new bike computers.  At least, that offers me something to work towards.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Winter Plans

So, I've been behaving like a vegetable the past few weeks.  Kinda like this one...
Actual eggplant that came in our farm box.  He looks both disheveled and startled.  Note also the large schnoz.
It's been a little painful just to walk and sit... but I'm hopeful I can start slow jogs soon.  The bruising is resolving.  I've taken a few pictures, and even sent one to my mother.  Several friends have asked for the pictures, so I cropped them as tightly as possible, and discovered...

Yes, there's a definite limit to the sort of picture I will share with anyone who didn't give birth to me.  There's just no way to show off the awesome bruise with my dignity intact.  Sorry, fans.  Here...
It's actually looking kind of like this.  Just imagine red and purple where you see the blue, and blue and purple edging where you see the red.  Yeah, my bruise really does look kind of like the Crab Nebula.  Isn't Hubble cool?


The bruise goes from the top of my hip to about three inches over my knee, and wraps from mid-front-thigh to mid-back-thigh.  After a few days, a white line appeared in the shape of the curb, which is slowly filling in with mottled colors as I heat it with a heating pad and massage it every night.

The lump has gone from watermelon size to grapefruit size... but a large, California backyard grapefruit,  like our friend Gil who has citrus trees in his backyard has.
This is one of Gil's trees- it's a grapefruit tree right next to a lemon tree.


This is about the size of three of my fists.  And about the size of the lump on my leg.  

So I am setting my goals for the winter.  Among the measurable goals, I want to drop the last pounds of CT pudge by spring. So I'll be a lean, mean, machine.  Which means I'll still be a squishy, cuddly, ball of charm.  I'm a priest, people.  I don't think I'm good at mean.  It's why I do triathlon, and not rugby.  I like being able to hug my competitors and take joy in their accomplishments.  

Oh, that is such a fib.  I get mad when I get beat, especially by M!    

This Saturday, I'll be changing out the skewer on my bike to the indoor trainer skewer.  We are joining our tri club's training center for the winter, for computrainer and fitness classes.  We will also get some swim time in over the winter, so about 3 or so workouts a week, formally.  I should also do some serious Pilates or yoga at home, because after this crash, I realized that I haven't been stretching enough.  Back in Arlington when I was riding everywhere on my 30+ lb hybrid bike and having NO crashing whatsoever, I was a lot more flexible.  Hmmm... this will probably be an exercise in pride-bustin', as I discover just how tight I've become.  (But my quads and calves are awesome.)  

I also want to do some trail running and maybe some MTB riding on the "easy" trails, which are "crazy steep" by East Coast standards.  

If I do any trainer riding at home, it will probably be while I watch TV.  I like to ride while watching cheesy sci fi and Bollywood.  Don't judge.  Some people vacuum their house in their skivvies!    To each their own.  

I wonder what you are doing this winter?

Friday, September 30, 2011

Walking Like A Little Old Lady

For the Record:

After four very long, uncomfortable, annoying days of being non-weight-bearing on the injured leg, I got in to see the specialist.  He looked at my X-rays, had me walk around, and said I could "wean slowly off the crutches at your discretion".

I nodded sagely and solemnly, and obediently put pressure on the injured leg, as I thanked him profusely and walked with the crutches out to my car.

Where I promptly threw them into the car, never to be touched again.  I'd rather hobble for a bit.  It feels VERY good to be back on two feet!

The injury was ultimately a HUGE hematoma.  M calls it "zombie leg".  The bruise is the size of a good-sized watermelon.  At the highest point, it was about three inches high.  From a vanity point, it is neat to feel so super skinny as my swollen leg makes the rest of me feel lean by comparison.  The bruises right now are purple, blue, black, red, green, and yellow.

I'm off the bike for a few weeks, and off running until the swelling goes down.

Did you know that a hematoma apparently creates a sort of jelly-like stuff in the injured site as the blood congeals?  So I get to massage it and use warm compresses to break it up and move it about.  But it feels very strange to be hauling around a sack of jelly.  Ew.

I will spare you pictures.

Monday, September 26, 2011

New Bike Name: The Bambino

I have been chasing my road bike century for three years and attempts now.  I rode my first century and long rides on my hybrid, back when I didn't know how crazy it was to ride 100 miles on a 30+ pound bike with suspension seatpost and fork.

Then M gave me a road bike for my 30th birthday.  The first century attempt ended in a crash.

The second century attempt- a year later- ended with capitulation at mile 85 with mechanical failure.

The third attempt- at the very well organized "Cycle the Lakes" sponsored by the Cottage Grove Rotary Club- has also ended, at mile 66 with hitting a rogue curb.  So far, it's just major, major bruising.  As in, a hematoma the size of a large cantaloupe on my leg, three inches high at the height.

I have decided to name my poor bike.  It shall now henceforth forever be known as the Bambino, as in, Curse of The.

In other news, the only reason I was able to actually ride this ride was because I begged my poor, long-suffering, and patient boss to have that Saturday off, and our sweet Rector Emeritus was happy to fill in at Circle Service (the alternative St. Mary's service) so I could ride.

Clearly, God is telling me to never ask for a day off unless it is already clear.  If you have to ask the retired guy, it's a sign.  DANGER! DANGER!

The Retired Guy was very happy to step up on Sunday morning to celebrate as well, so the Poor Long-Suffering Boss wasn't all alone.  Also luckily, the Boss was preaching anyway, so it wasn't like I bailed on a sermon.  Though as I pointed out, if I DID have to bail on a sermon, I'd have forwarded it, and the Boss could have read it for me.

Finally, the Boss brought communion over for me, which was very nice, as I really do love my little parish community and felt bad that I couldn't be there with them.  But let me tell you... communion whilst on narcotics- WOW.

The initial reading was about how the elements are the body and blood of Christ for us, and through eating the bread and drinking the wine, we live forever.  Basic Christianity 101, right?

In my loopy narcotic state, it struck me as the most patently ridiculous thing ever.  I starting laughing uncontrollably, realizing that I spent my entire life working for an invisible dude in the sky that no one has conclusively proved even exists.  I get paid to tell people that a little wafer of bread-like substance is a real symbol of their salvation by a Jewish dude who caused trouble.  The entire premise on which I base my life and work is essentially insane.  I mean, time travel has had more scientific investigation than this one!

And yet, I still believe it.

I'm also really glad that one of our hard-core scientists is going to do a Sunday Symposium on hard-core science and faith.  It will be really cool.