Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Weekends in Oregon.

It was Memorial Day weekend this past week.  Most of my friends seemed to have a three day weekend, which for them meant no work at all.

Since I'm a priest, it meant plenty of work for all the clergy in my parish!  But it was fun.  I started off with a wedding for a truly lovely couple who are by now enjoying their honeymoon in Hawaii.  I always tell everyone: every wedding MUST have a disaster!  Pick a good one early on, and you avoid a lot of grief later.  This wedding's disaster started early last week when the state of Oregon LOST the couple's wedding license when the computers went down!  Thankfully, a kind court clerk made the legal magic happen so we were good to go in the end.  On Saturday, the day of the wedding, I arrived to discover their friend had made them a delightful wedding cake... with a Mario Brothers theme!  Bonus?  I keep hearing stories of horrid photogs, but the photographer and sound guys were both just top notch professionals.  I keep a list of the good guys I work with so I can recommend them to future couples, and also so when other clergy complain I can whip out my list and suggest some names.

How cute is that?  And what a cool gift from a friend!

Then it was Pentecost.  (AKA, birthday of the Christian church, when many churches do fun things like give out red balloons or wear red clothes.) I shouldn't brag, but I think every single person in the church down to the littlest baby was wearing red.  We are so awesome like that.  Granted, the littlest baby is also the priest-in-charge's daughter, so she has the P.K. advantage, but still.  Well, actually two people WEREN'T wearing red... my husband and the organist's husband.  Apparently, we didn't cover the red thing with our spouses.  Whoops.  Fail... no, wait... self-differentiated spouses WIN!

So, Monday, I went for a bike ride.   I wanted to ride a little loop I like called McKenzie View Road.  It starts with what I remember being a strenuous torturous climb, and then flattens out in another climb and then a flat loop.  I must be stronger because the strenuous tortutous climb wasn't not nearly as bad as remembered.  It really felt faster and easier this year!  Yeah!

The trouble began at the stop sign at the first intersection.  I stopped for a quick battery change, but apparently did not zip up my seat pouch enough.  As I was working my way up the next hill, a van pulled up next to me to let me know my seat pouch was by now fully open and scattering things all over the road side.  Important things, like my tire levers, my spare tube, my car keys...

And then it started to spit rain.

My nice fast loop turned into a spit-raining series of hill repeats until I'd found everything.

My mood turned from "Happy Bike Ride Nice Weather Even Clouds Are Pretty I Love Oregon" to "Die Hills Die Die Zippers Die Flowers Die Car Keys".  You may use your imagination, but I promise you, if you can imagine the swear word, I used it yesterday.  The last thing to be found were the car keys.  You would use the swear words too.

By the time I got home I was wet, dirty, and sore from all the repeats of hills plus grumpy about having lost the chance for a good ride.  There may have been crying involved.  It is possible that sandwiches were actually refused (at first), which you should know is a true marker of sadness in this house.

In order to cheer me up, M decided to take me on a little hike out of town.  Wisely, he stopped at Subway and put a grinder in my hand.  Six inches of protein and carbs later, sanity was returning to my head, and an hour later we had winded through the rural places of Oregon to a nice little hiking trail.  Oregon has hot springs.  They are a little sulfurous, but an hour of hot springs on sore muscles made both of us feel a lot better!

Not the hot spring, but on the way there.  Look!  Waterfalls!  And yes, the water really is that green!

Hiking!  Woods! Nature! Outdoors!  Not inside!  And low pollen count area! 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Chocolate Sauce Peach Turnover Frozen Yogurt Dessert

Recently I found a recipe for turnovers or "hand pies".  Back when I was a kid, they used to be at the 7-11- those little snack food things with the fruit in the middle and the crispy outside.  I was never really much for the hand pies.  This is foreshadowing.

For some reason, when I saw a magazine recipe for a "light version", I thought it would be delightful to make them with real fruit and not with a sticky syrupy mess.  Here is the recipe.

"Fried" Pies  Holy heck, those things were fried, all this time?  I always thought there was some sort of super-high tech baking involved!  Snack food industry, you lie!  

Hands-on time: 40 minutes.  Total time: 3 hours.  Until you start making the recipe.  Then it's an hour and a half of standing near the stove stirring a simmering pot, and 2 hours to let the from-scratch dough rest, and that's before we even start baking.  Since it was 2:30PM, and these needed to be edible by 6PM, this was not going to happen.  

Crust:  Realizing I had no vodka on hand for the "light and flaky" crust, deciding that since I failed life as a non-child-rearing 30-something, I might as well cheat on the crust, thinking this would save me the necessary time.  

Filling:  Dried peaches.  Orange juice.  We rarely have OJ in the house.  Luckily, I ran into a parishioner who tipped me off to a Market of Choice secret: mini things of OJ fresh squeezed each morning.  One mini container was all I needed.  Dried peaches.  Check.  Run home to drop everything off.  Thought all was in order, at last.  

Here's how it all went down.  

I got the sauce pan going.  I was stirring.  And stirring.  I turned away to attend to an email.  Suddenly, but in slow motion, I saw a large bubble arise from the pot like something out of Ghostbusters in the 80s, and slurp its way backwards onto the stove.  That would be, onto my gas-burning stove, where the gas flame promptly en flambeed the sugary mixture.

Flames licked the pot.

Screaming ensued.

Luckily, the flames subsided quickly.  By this point, I could smell the burnt sugar on the bottom of the pot. I think that sugar waits until you are distracted for 2 seconds and then it goes "Ha ha ha, let's burn, baby, burn!"  Clearly, white sugar anthropomorphizes itself as an anarchist.

By the time I finished scooping out the unburned peaches from the burned peaches, I was left with a carmelized, slightly smoking mess.  And I am still a little freaked out by whatever happened to the apricots.

That was when the swearing started.  Somewhere around the screaming part, the two cats had run yowling out of the room and were now hiding in the downstairs bedroom.  So they weren't here for the swearing.  But I promise you: it was epic.

That was when I texted M, demanded he arrive home bearing frozen yogurt, and I whipped out the chocolate chips and made chocolate sauce.

There you go.  That is the Recipe for Chocolate Sauce Peach Turnover Frozen Yogurt desserts.  You're welcome.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

A Fast Week

The weeks are just flying by.  It seems like my life at the moment is entirely composed of obsessing over things like British train schedules and making spreadsheets of information.  Luckily, I love making spreadsheets of information and checking off lists, so I'm sort of in heaven right now.  But the fact remains that I am spending a lot of time working on the pilgrimage.  If you are one of the parents who is entrusting me with the safety and happiness of your teen this summer, this is *very* good news.  

So last week, M picked me up after church and we went running on Pre's trail.  Somehow, I've become faster than him in the run right now.  He's both slower and getting winded faster than me at the moment.  The lovey dovey part of me slows down with him and walks with him because I like him.  The triathlete part of me occasionally runs on ahead for a few minutes and/or treats certain parts of the run like a throwdown.

Oddly, he's been saying something about beating me in a run later this summer.  That's the spirit, my cupcake.

Then I joined the tri club for a brick on Thursday and I think I might have turned in my fastest brick ever. My whole time was 1:00:05, which means my goal this year is to break 1 hour on the brick.  Actually, I think I should also work towards breaking the 9 minute mile as a regular pace, as well.  My first two miles were in the 9 min 30 second range, and somehow, my third mile was something like 8:30.  Where did that come from?  I felt like I was plodding along like the Jello of Misery and Suffering.  My legs felt leaden.  My shoulders felt wobbly (which I now know comes from the stretched-out fit on my bike).  I just felt slow, slow, slow.  Granted, I was running against a field of incredibly fast whippet-like guys, including one guy who is a freakin' All-American triathlete.  For those of you who don't follow triathlon, that means he's a super-incredible-fast-age-grouper and is going to a mega-important-race in New Zealand.

Lucky for the whippets, they are all really nice guys and awesome cheerleaders and they say nice things about my Yankx.  So I might be slow, but they are good guys.  Actually, Multisport Advantage is full of great cheerleaders and our head coach makes us awesome recovery cakes every now and then.  (Hint, hint...)

Today, I went for a hills run.  Ironically, I started out in the opposite direction thinking I didn't want to run hills, but a mile in, I got this hankering to run the hills after all.  Fortunately, I live in the hills, so that wish was easily granted.  There were some tough sprints in there and I was pretty sure I'd broken a rib at one point and my heart rate was up in the 180s once.  But now I am done and have nothing but fun errands to do all day.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A First For Humanity

So you know that problem where something goes wrong with your bike/car/dog/flowerpot and you take it to the expert mechanic and not only has the problem fixed itself during transport, you cannot replicate it to the mechanic?

That's been happening to me for THREE YEARS with my freakin' front derailleur.  I would be shifting away happily and suddenly, the cable would become razor-wire tight and the shifter would lock up, my pedals would refuse to turn back and my chain would leap to its highest gears, leaving me stranded in a super-high gear.

This is why I pulled out of the 2010 Mad River Century- after spending about 15 miles locked up in the highest gears with no mechanic in sight and the rolling hills starting.

Yesterday at bike class, I actually managed to make this problem happen twice, in a row, in the presence of a mechanic!  Yeah!

The instructor-mechanic started out telling me what all the other mechanics had told me- I was overshifting, it was mental, and there was nothing we could do on the bike.  Which, actually, on my current set up, is kind of true.

But here's why.

On the Trek 1.5 models, they put a compact chain ring (just two rings) on the bike.  The frame is a low-end-high-end bike- it's straddling the line between the cushy "plush" category and the wanna-be racer category.  It has holes for attaching stuff like panniers and racks to the frame, but it didn't have the granny gears (the third chain ring) that a real touring bike would have.

But the front shifter is BUILT for a triple chain ring!

So for all these three years, my shifters were trying to shift into that imaginary third chain ring that doesn't exist.  It would enter a state of entropy.  It was attempting to move onto Shrodinger's chain ring.

The cure?  I'm so getting a new bike.  And all the shops in town are steering me into serious, road-only road bikes, where the shifters are built for the chain rings the bike has.

But the problem was REAL, and it wasn't ENTIRELY my fault, and I made it happen in the presence of a mechanic who was FLUMMOXED until we figured out why it happened!  We just can't make it stop happening, as long as I'm trying to ride a cushy ride against racing types.  Just you wait, especially M on his fancy new Specialized Allez.  Enjoy your speed while it lasts.  Because when I get my new bike, I'm going to ride it SO MUCH, SO FAST that I can eat as many Honey Stingers Waffles as I want!

Oh, and maybe keep up with you guys at last.