exercise irritation snippet

Word count: 59,454 [closing in on 60K]
Missed a workout with a good friend yesterday which bummed me out, not sure if it was the work stress shooting through the roof or if I am 'fighting off' some illness that is stalking me.

Right now I am guessing stress because usually when I am getting sick I sleep a lot and last night sleep was eluding me. I thought and dreamed about many silly things so before I go work out and then write more I need to share an irritation. Perhaps in the sharing it will become lighter.

Why is it that work out clothes always seem to be cut small and are hardly ever made for bigger women? It is a lucky day for me right now if I can fit into a piece of XL exercise clothing, I can't imagine what women bigger than I do. I mean we all need to exercise, right? Why not have a range of sizes, including big ones? Or wait, is there some exercise clothing warehouse I am unaware of the already does this? If so please share, because I doubt I am alone in my frustration. Ok, off to get the happy pill of exercise!


Wow I am still sore from Sunday. Before I dive into that
word count: 58,467, feeling happy about writing.

Back to my soreness, for some reason I thought it would be fun? easy? smart? [perhaps I just didn't think] to go to my first yoga class in 9 months on Sunday morning and then later that evening do 2 hours of ECD again, for the first time in 9 months.

I think it was the yoga that caused the overall soreness, my almost 3 months of steady exercise notwithstanding, yoga uses stuff that doesn't get used often enough. I went into pigeon and almost had a panic attack. But I tried a new teacher and really enjoyed it. Especially the stopping part, I do love it when yoga is over, and I know I am not alone in that.

The dancing was great. My ankle did stiffen up during the break though I realized the next ball is just a little over 2 months away and I better get ready for it. It is always surreal to walk outside afterwards and feel warm at 5 degrees Fahrenheit. I was happy with how good it felt although my search for the perfect dancing shoe continues.

xmas 2009

Was really rather jolly. We are in the midst of our yuletide traditions. Let's see depending on how you count it it's the 6th day of Yule. So at the halfway mark. We are opening gifts every day or so, I cooked my families' traditional xmas eve meal for the first time ever. My part was all very fishy and well received by the 10 or so gathered. Everyone brought something to add to the meal. And of course since I have been online last I have shoveled and shoveled and shoveled. No complaints from me this year about living in MN and not having a white winter solstice. The neighbors have an awesome igloo going up.

My holiday wish is that I find out about an awesome 12th night celebration to attend this year, perhaps with some mumming.

And now some downloads I thought were rather cool for those who enjoy xmas music, I particularly enjoyed 'hungover boxing day':

I have some quiet time before the party tonight so I am off to write down the story scenes that have been rattling around in my head. And more self care, must do more of that! I hope everyone is enjoying some downtime, except those workng in retail, you have my deepest sympathies--hang in there!

the sound of a voice

So lately I have been hearing a voice. Specifically my own voice. I cannot remember how many times in the past month or so I have heard myself say something and thought 'wow I sound so nasal' and then have spoken again in a what seems to me to be a clearer [purer?] tone. I do not remember ever noticing how my own voice sounds before. I have always been one of those people that when I did hear myself I have wondered 'do I really sound like that?' I have asked my nearest if I sound different to them and they said no.

So why on earth does it seem I can suddenly hear my own voice? Is there something I am trying to say to myself, to the world? Does this mean anything? Has this ever happened to anyone else? I hope it's not a symptom for something dreadful.

No writing update today, unexpected company sucked away some time I thought would go to writing.

Feel free to think 'ye gods this woman is really reaching for blog posts here'. But these odd things need to get recorded somewhere...

winter solstice 2009

Happy solstice to all those out there of the pagan persuasion! Heck happy happy to everyone.
word count: 57,451

I had to decide when I started this post if I was going to indulge in a mini rant about christians who complain about how all the rest of us are ruining xmas for them. Then I decided really I just have 2 things to say on the subject before I go onto merrymaking for the next 12 days of Yule:

1] Yo, Jesus was not born in the winter, xmas was set at this time of the year so that the early christian church could take over [and try to tone down-ha!] a raucous midwinter festival that no one wanted to give up. So really it wasn't your holiday in the first place and spare my ears about how 'non christians' are just ruining it for you. Take care of your own damn spirituality and traditions. To my christian friends [and my wife] that give me hope that the christian religion isn't totally screwed, I love you.

2] I do not know what it is like to be jewish in this country [ though being pagan is no picnic let me tell you] but I will not give up my midwinter festivities because to you they all have christian connotations. Though I empathize with the pain that has been done by those calling themselves christian to you and yours and I hope you take care of yourself at all times. Call me selfish, but see #1 above, it was a pagan festival first. I am putting up my yule greens if I want. oh and I love you as well.

There we go, my mini rant. It can be such a sucky time for people this time of the year, so perhaps I will simply indulge in some wishes that I hope everyone can support.

For all: Clothing, Food, Shelter, Safety, Peace, Ease, Good Health and Love.

fullness and cycles

It's been a very full weekend. I guess a lot of people have traditions at this time of the year. I really enjoy creating personal traditions and yearly or seasonal landmarks, it seems to fit nicely with my pagan-ness.

One December tradition is the Ellis food shelf concert at Gingkos with my dear friend. It was an excellent evening, the only 2 downsides was that the bag of stuff I had ready for the food shelf drive decided to hide itself just as I was trying to leave the house [plenty more opportunities to donate though] and the 3 women who apparently came to the show to chat with each other not listen to the music that were sitting in front of us. *sigh* Yes you did make it really hard for some of us to hear the show. And there are hundreds of other places you could have gone if chatting was your goal for the evening.

On the other hand no blood was shed and I officially forgive them in the true al-anon style--meaning I just don't want to hold on to the resentment. Also when you don't hear someone play live for a year you are delighted with a ton of new material, it was great.

I had a blast at our dinner party last night, I hope all the guests did as well.
Plans are being made for xmas eve, at long last by the christians in our family, and today is the annual [early this year] solstice celebration at my church.

I had some great downtime this morning and my headache did not turn into a migraine. I have the day off tomorrow and will have time for writing - yeah! It has been a full weekend already. Pretty typical for this time of year, I wish for all to be full of love, food and gratitude. Happy mother night! The sun is coming back.

dinner party V

Word count: 56,081
just look at that word count growing away again. Perhaps not like the weed that was November, more like grass in July, but still. Oh and my wife has no problem with my crush on my fictional character which is good. I still think it's pretty weird. But crushes I guess are always part of life.

We recommitted this autumn to inviting small groups of people over for dinner and Saturday is the night. We knew the date being so close to the holidays might make it more challenging but we love doing it so we are just going for it. Of course at our rate of invitation it may take us 10 years to invite all of our friends to a small dinner party it is slow going. I only mention this so that if you live in the area and have not been invited yet rest assured your time is coming. :)

Spoiler: if you are invited and you are reading this, you are about to find out what you are going to have. Squash soup, hunter's chicken [chicken cacciatora], rice, sauteed fennel bulb, apple crisp and homemade cinnamon ice cream. Cider and wine A simple meal for a cold evening in December.

In other food news, my not multi-tasking when eating is going well. I think I am at about 90%. Sometimes though I just plain forget. Like this morning I was grabbing some tuna on a cracker and was halfway through when I woke up enough to realize I was eating in front of the computer. Still progress.

I hope all are well and looking forward to fabulous weekends.

story time

word count: 54,393
Writing is happening again and I could not be happier about that. It's nice to have something to feel positive about.

Luckily this is just a first draft because my lack of knowledge about Amsterdam, dutch culture can be something of a hang up. I don't think there is anyone from the Netherlands reading this blog, but how I wish there was. I would have a million questions to ask. :)

I was actively missing my story the past 5 days or so and dreaming about it at night. Which ended up being helpful because sometimes I have no idea how to get to where my story is ultimately going. It feels so great to be back at it. I am hoping to get quite a bit done on it through the end of the month, but more importantly at this point I am hoping to enjoy it. Because I need some happy in my life right now.

Oh and my lead character is hot and I definitely have a crush on her. It has gone beyond liking.

my Cervyn

On August 1, 1994 a litter of border collies was born, 5 sisters,on a farm in Glenwood Springs, MN. By the end of September 1994 one of them had come to live with me.
She was a joy, quick learner, a great herder, a peerless communicator from a breed known for communications skills, a flyball champion, she loved frisbees more than food, hated water and she was my dear dog. Who, I believe, lived 15+ years of a pretty stellar doggie life, though not being a dog myself I can't be positive.

Her long life ended today, she failed very rapidly while I was away in CA. It seemed like she was waiting for me to get back so we could say good bye and I could feed her some cheese.
Which I did and now she is gone. And part of me is trying to remember just why we have these pets that we know will die and it will hurt so bad. And part of me is just grateful that I had her. And then there are other parts, but they all hurt right now except for the ones that are numb.
One of the most beautiful sights in the universe is a border collie flat out running over a green field.

xmas and klingons!

No new word count, but now that I am not giving my parents 90% of my time, I should have time to write again. I miss my story so much, I have been thinking about it a lot the last few days.

I'm sure you are all anxiously wondering how the Klingon Christmas Carol was...it was fabulous. I am just sorry that since I saw the last performance for the year it is now too late for any of you to rush out and buy tickets for it.

I really applaud all the actors for their great performance. I can't imagine how difficult it must have been to act in an 'alien' language, constantly walking the line between camp, story, and inside jokes. Fleshing out something that many would consider a skit idea to a full length play must have been challenging but they met it. and it was quite beautiful in its own way. Afterwards when the three of us talked it over I realized that I missed some stuff, it was quite dense with detail. This is it's third year, and I hope they do it again next year. I am thinking I have found a holiday tradition I can get behind whole-heartily.
I needed a shot of lightness and holiday festivity this week and the Klingons filled that need beautifully.

The only disappointment, no singing of carols celebrating the 'longest night' in Klingon. Perhaps next year.

my mom played baseball

My mom lost her only brother the first week of December. She is the eldest and it was very unexpected for her. No one had any idea that he was so sick.

When I was visiting she was grieving. Remembering his first steps and she also told me the story of him breaking his arm while they were playing baseball. My mind screeched to a halt. My mother, engaged in a physical activity? My mother had never modeled any type of physical activity for me at all as a child. The idea of her playing at a sport, even informally, had my mind spinning. I always assumed she had been a 'bookworm' child, she was always so sedentary. She was never interested in any sports on tv.

I questioned her and she told me she had played baseball all through childhood, she had loved it but then her mother made her stop at 12 'because she was 'too big to be playing with boys', this was in 1938. I offered that perhaps if she had been born 50 years later she could have played softball at the Olympics and she told me that she was much too awkward.

A wave of unexpected fury washed over me. My mother had told me previously how her mother had told her she was awkward. Perhaps I thought bitterly if she had been allowed to play sports she would have been comfortable in her body. I didn't really believe she was ever awkward anyway. Then I sighed and relaxed my anger at my poor grandmother long dead and just enjoyed knowing something new about my mother.

She told me about how one of the girls who had been 4 years older than her had been a super player, she could never get a hit off of her. She smiled thinking of that old 'tomboy' friend who had later became a nun. I just smiled, my mother played baseball.

parental challenges

This past week got sucked up with my parents in the best way. Next time I am going away and thinking that I will have lots of time to write and blog and rest someone should shoot me an email and tell me to wake up! It just doesn't seem to work that way.

But that is ok, my parents are in their 80s and live in palm springs, I don't see them that often at all. I thought I would have a lot of down time with them but my mum was a powerhouse this week, I am amazed at all that we got done. Mostly xmas shopping and baking, but also a trip to Mexico for prescription refills.

The best part was really seeing my parents and spending concentrated time with them. It is so hard to say good bye though when I leave. I feel guilty that I am not around to care for them more. I also wonder if I will see them again.

I guess that is true of everyone we say good bye to we don't know for sure that we will see anyone again but with elderly parents the thought seems to be at the forefront. There was a surreal moment when I hugged my mum, and even though she is shorter than me somehow my head fit onto her shoulder and I was a little girl again.

It scares me so much that some day I will be a girl without a living mother, and yet I know virtually all women go through this. It is just a part of life. Not to be morbid, death just seems very close this month. oh well.

drive by happy anniversary

It was a beautiful sunny day in CA. Much holiday baking was done. Not much writing has been done yet today but I have to say happy anniversary to a dear, dear friend.

My chief bridal ninja, my spiritual twin and someone who actually remembers me from my teens. A exceptional musician, a talented artist and a mistress of all things Virgo.

I can't even imagine what my life would be like without her presence. Sometimes when I look at the love in my life I can't comprehend I how got this lucky. I am truly grateful for all of it.

And today I lift a freshly baked cookie to her in snowy MN with love. Here's to our next tattoo.

and now no sun

This was all set to post on Dec 7th, but then we had the power outage, read this like it is Monday.

Please note this is not a complaint, because really it is funny. It seems every time I go someplace like Yuma or Palm Springs where they have very little rain what does it do when I visit ...rain. Today it poured all day, it was a bit odd but it basically seemed like home, just a bit warmer. Except for all the palm trees which look really odd when it is grey, cool and raining. I think it is about 46 right now. It's worth it to see my parents though. I miss my home which is expecting a major snow tomorrow, and my sweet wife, but it is really lovely seeing them

They are so dear and so old and precious. I feel very conscious of enjoying them while I still have them.

Other news:
My word count is slowly creeping up: 53090 I am not really sure how to write this section and I feel pressed for time while I am here so slow progress I guess is good. I may just skip ahead and write the next part soon if inspiration doesn't strike.

Lots of randomness here today, a least partially in my head, and mexico to look forward to tomorrow, er wednesday, the power outage is delaying stuff.

there is sun here

Word count: 52698 some done on the plane

Seems like the past 2 days were spent getting here to Palm Springs. It is sunny and quite nice. And there are big piles of dirt and rock everywhere which people call mountains, but don't really do anything for me, I have to admit. Give me an ocean anytime

Still it's lovely to be seeing and helping my parents. It's even rather nice to miss my wife, I feel lucky to have such a nice one to miss. So onward to xmas shopping and baking this week. hohoho

And hopefully an increasing word total.

lay offs

So no updated word count today, it's been a very tense, tight 24 hours or so. Hopefully I will be able to write later this evening.

My company gave notice to many people of massive lay offs today. The end date is January 29. Needless to say it has been surreal. It's like someone has died, and it is so hard to know what to say to these people. I just want to wail, but that almost seems insulting here I still have my job for now.
Survival guilt has its own set of discomforts. I will be losing 3 team mates by the end of January and 2 more in June. I have no idea what is going to happen, how the work will all get done.

Not to be looking into the future too much but this is such a stressful time of year and to have this swirling all around. wow. I feel compassionate, lucky, empathetic, scared, grateful and stunned.
Everyone over 19 realizes that life isn't fair, but it doesn't make it suck any less sometimes.

holidays have begun 09

Word count: 52029

For me the holidays begin with a day long event with one of my best friends. Which does not have a clever name or acronym like IMAD does, which really it should. hmmmm.

Anyway 13, 15, a lot of years ago, [were we still in college when we started!?!] we agreed that we really didn't want to 'buy' each other something for the winter holidays what we would rather do is:
- have a fabulous meal together somewhere
- spend fun time together during a sometimes frantic season
- perhaps get some present buying done for others

This year was a rousing success. We did find some gifts for others, our personal purchases was minimal [thank you IMAD] , we had two fabulous meals, picked up tickets for a food shelf concert we support every year and I, I'll speak for myself, had a great time.

We have even planned a fabulous addition to our holiday celebrations this year. Nothing says happy holidays like Klingons.

What you didn't know I was a big old geek? The fact that my degree was in mathematics and I married a physicist didn't clue you in? Aren't you the non judging soul, good for you.

I hope the klingons sing!


ok, now I can't remember if that word had a hyphen in it or not.
So I am going to keep on with the snippets in December, cause you all want me to keep writing, I hope? Although since I am only about halfway through my first draft it's going to go on for awhile, because I don't see how I can keep up the 50,000 words in a month pace in December. But then who knows? I am spending some time researching Amsterdam as well.

Word count: 51265 [darn I miss that graph]

So writing aside, I have accepted another self challenge. To stop multi-tasking while eating my food, the biggest culprit is reading. It's been 2 days, and I have done ok. I did eat a pear while driving yesterday and then realized as soon as I swallowed the last bite 'whoops'

Anyway if you live in Mpls take pity on me and join me for a meal :) way easier to not read when there is good company...

Winning Nanowrimo was simply awesome, if you have ever thought of it, go for it next year! I'll be with ya.

a big goal accomplished


There I was typing away at my story and suddenly my eyes drifted down to the word count, I am at 50,011.

I was bewildered now I am stunned. I did it. Words fail.

6 days off equals fabulous

Word count = 45126
Today I just love nanowrimo deeply. Even though there were many great hours with family celebrating Thanksgiving I got writing done. and I am feeling great about doing tons more today as I enjoy my super long weekend off from work.

Made it to the Y already, our own turkey is cooking today since I am a big leftover fan and I need the protein. All is good and I cannot wait to write this afternoon.

so in yesterday's snippet I realized that I have never talked much about music in this blog, which seems funny now. Anyway, I love music, pretty much everything but gospel or country. I am one of those people who always have it on in the background but I also spend a lot of time actively listening to it. I find if I am not going out and listening to live music that is a signal I am not doing well in the self care department.

Probably because I am not a European I only heard of Sarah Bettens a few years ago, she is immensely popular across the water. Since then I have seen her at Michfest and she was all kinds of awesome. Anyway I found this amazing video the other day of the Sarah Bettens song: Fine. Her official video of the song is hysterically funny, she is dressed up as a lip syncing teen but this one blew me away. And I am not a video person really but the footage of Sarah looking into the camera is just so -- although probably just a performance for me it's like a loving kindness meditation caught on camera. wow

so there I got some musical sharing out there, now off to write, write like the wind...

full of Thanksgiving

Though not tummy-wise since it's still just morning and the feast has not happened yet.

word count 43024, I feel incredible, scared and full of awe. Who am I? This person who has written this many words.

While checking email I read the notice for Ellis' new video blog. I love her music and I also love the joy she radiates. I live in the same town as her so I have seen her perform many times, and besides the music she gives to her audience her transparent joy is amazingly affirming, the bonus gift. [Just realized I never talk about music on this blog which is odd considering how big music is in my life]

Sometime 3? or so years ago on her journal page I saw my first mention of nanowrimo and thought 'that sounds awesome. I want to try that'. It took a few years but here I am doing it and in the homestretch.
So a big heart thank you and bow is going out to Ellis for being the seed that got me to this incredible November and word count, in fact I am going to shoot her an email telling her that. I guess we never know when we may gift a seed to someone else.

Nanowrimo, just one of the many things in my rich life for which I am thankful.
Let's see what happens.

"write like the wind" Chris Baty

skipping encouraged

word count 41,205 very busy at work yesterday hardly any writing.

Also I was feeling a bit stuck, I felt like I was in a blah place in the story and not really sure how to get from the middle to the next place. Inspiration was sorely lacking until I saw nanowrimo creator Chris' latest video. He suggested that you skip to the middle, the end, where ever, if you get bogged down in the story and I realized oh yeah, I'm a bit bogged down here, but I can just keep moving and go somewhere else and keep on writing.

In other news had my last resiliency training meeting this morning. Resiliency Training has been awesome. I truly credit the stuff I am doing in RT as the reason I am doing nanowrimo this year and not just longing for it. I feel so different from September in all the best ways I have more ease and more hope. Woot!

are you sitting down?

If not perhaps you should? or maybe not, maybe it's just me.

Word count: 41,075

How the hell did this happen? Who am I, besides an assuredly crazy person with a word count like that? I admit here that I have twice in the past 15 years or so have made an attempt to start a piece of fiction and it only went for a few pages, really going nowhere. And now in November of 2009 I have written of 41k words of fiction. it's surreal.

And I have to wonder what else can I do? Just last month I wasn't aware I could do this and yet here I am. This is what hope is to me, the proof that we are never stuck in our past.

first car mourning

word count: 36370
About 15 years ago my ex and I bought my very first new car. In fact it's the only car I have ever bought new.
Yesterday I sold it. In the past 6 years I have only put on about 14,000 miles, due to my 2 back surgeries it had become much less comfortable to drive. But prior to 2004 that car was like an extension of me.
I really thought that I had already moved on and let go of that car but when I saw my green subaru legacy wagon being driven away my lips started to quiver, really.
I cried in that car. Laughed, sang, had serious talks. Travelled. Commuted. And suffered from incredible migraines in it. It's AWD took me through all kinds of weather, it never broke down on me and now it is gone on to a new life as top car for someone else. Which is good, I guess. I am sure it was the right thing to do selling my car. And I really needed the money, I sold it for a fair price with no lying and I hated having a car just sitting around not really getting used when so many people are in need. So yes, it must be a good thing.

But I do miss that car. Grief sneaks up at the weirdest times.

cheating heart?

Word count : 32,300 [lots more writing planned for the evening]
So I think I am love with one of the characters in the story I am writing for nanowrimo. Is that normal? I know other writers but since I am not a writer [really, I don't think I am ] I have never talked about writing fiction with anyone else.

So I told a friend on Thursday that I thought I was in love with one of my characters. Or maybe it is just a crush, after all, I don't know her very well, I know I like her a lot. My patient friend almost choked [was it laughter?], you made her up, how can you not know her. I tried to explain I only made her up a few weeks ago, not a very long time at all to get to know someone. :)

Surely it helps writing if you like the people you are writing about, right? and I have had crushes on fictional characters written by others. Faith the vampire slayer, now there was a character to crush on or Aud, one of Nicola Griffiths lead characters. But falling for your own character...normal or narcissistic? I remember now I always found that story about falling in love with the statue odd and kind of controlling....huh.
Either way off to write, perhaps more about fictional boundaries and the lines we cross later.

why write

Yes, I have been writing word count: 32,188
As well as actually writing I have been thinking about writing. Why does a person like to write, want to write? Does it tug some different part of our brain? Mostly I write here because I want to, although I never forget there is some audience out there this blog is not private, my writing here is not what I put in my personal journal. and of course my bad fiction that is nanowrimo is different yet again and I am writing it to stretch, for change, for fun.

And then that led me to the companion question why read? For story, for validation, for information sharing....as many different reasons as people perhaps. Which led me to wonder, why do you people who read this blog read it?

No pressure, no need to leave a comment or anything but if you wanted to shoot me an email [through my profile] and tell me I would be sincerely interested in hearing why.

in gratitude for the weekend, my love, the weekend and the mild weather

exhausted and crazy

word count 28,746

and I am a crazy person. I have been writing and writing and working and talking. I have written about twelve thousand words in the past two days and my brain is total mush. Yesterday I was thinking fond thoughts about my story having fun, today I am ready to just throw it all in but here I am closing in on 30,000 words. and it might be total crap, but I just don't care. It can be crap but here I am stretching myself in a new way, and I know that is a good thing. As someone's sig on the forum says "embrace the crap"

I can't believe I am doing it. Go nanowrimo!

tropical storms are more than 'a bit of rain'

first word count: 23331

If you have been wondering "where are my snippets" rest assured you were not forgotten. I merely flew into Virginia Beach just in time for Tropical Storm Ida.

I never realized it before but when a hurricane is downgraded to a tropical storm it's still more than just a shower. And you there on the coast stop that snickering. I just lacked experience before. Well I can say that no longer.

I'll just go on the record for a few things:

First, electricity is a wonderful thing when you have it, especially if you need it for heat, hot water and cooking. [and computers]
Second, I love the workers at Dominion Power who got the power back for us by Saturday evening.
Third, I have the cutest goddaughter in the world. What do you think?

Can't see a picture huh? That's because once again blogger will not let me get an image online. Apparently the appropriate stars are not aligned, so you'll have to use your imagination. She really is adorable though.


First my word count: 12627
Next weekend report:
It was an exhausting weekend. The weather was glorious. I found to my sorrow that different people define the word retreat differently.
While the word retreat made me think of some organized activity interspersed with relaxing hours for quiet reflection and dreaming by the lake while eating food I didn't need to cook.

Others may use the word retreat when they mean 'intensive tiring 2 day couple workshop' that will leave you wrung out but will be especially helpful if you have been feeling disconnected from your partner or if you are having couple issues. And the food will be mediocre cafeteria type food but you won't need to cook it.

Don't get me wrong it was not bad in any way. The leaders did a beautiful, loving job crafting the workshop but it was exhausting and I really needed more quiet rejuvenating. My wife and I do couple's therapy and virtually all that was covered in the workshops we have 'imago dialogued' about in therapy so it was affirming but nothing really new came out.

We are also introverts and we just need more down time then a lot of people. So that disconnect was a bit disappointing. But oh well, it was just a misunderstanding, mostly on my part. It pretty much took Monday for us to recover. And now we know. It can be tough being an over worked introvert. I will hope for an easier time for the rest of the month.

Back to writing for me!

heart work

Over 10 thousand words. I don't quite believe it. I guess not writing much before I would have assume that it would take way longer for me to write 10000 words, but there it is. My user name on nanowrimo is cervyn if any are interested though I don't have a lot out there besides my word count. I have been mostly writing.

This weekend we are participating in a couples workshop. It sounds like it will be wonderful and tiring and I bet I won't be writing my story this weekend because other stuff will be going on. But it should be totally worth it.

The weather has been lovely for much of this week. That nasty early snow some weeks ago is something I have tried to erase from my memory. I will just enjoy the warmth today. Glorious, in the sixties and the same for the weekend. It's wonderful.
I was overwhelmed with sadness earlier when I realized my friend was no longer alive to see this beautiful world.
Though what do I know maybe she still does.

sad snippet

It is shaping up to be a very odd November, and it's only the 5th.

Nano is going well. I have 9400+ words and I am not really sure how I got here. I do know that I am having fun. I even have fun when someone asks me what I am writing about and I tell them in my serious tone, 'box cutters and how to name them' My birthday also was very nice [and without tears] and I am grateful for that.

At the same time I am sick at heart. A colleague Jean W. was murdered this week. I just read this evening that her husband has been charged. I am stunned every time I think about it. It just doesn't seem really possible that someone who visited my home several years ago is now murdered. And the papers quote the attorney linking it to domestic violence and it's presence still in our lives and...well there isn't really anywhere to go from here. I feel at a loss. A completely new situation here.

So I guess I'll do what a lot of us do when faced with the unknown, pray. I hope that Jean is a peaceful light-filled, pain-free place. And I pray for healing for her entire family left behind.

why haven't I done this before

This could very easily be first week euphoria for nanowrimo but wow. It's great. Apparently I am as capable as the next person at writing bad fiction. I am enjoying it, I am not even thinking actually about it being good or bad, I am just amazed at me doing this new thing...I have over 5000 words, written, on my story. It's like being in yoga class and trying something new that looks totally impossible and finding out you can actually do it. Maybe not well, but your body will bend like that.

I am searching for words and not finding them. I am starting to suspect I will not be the same person who started this month. Right now it is awesome, empowering.

So happy birthday to me! Finally joining nanowrimo, not waiting until I have "more time" may be the best birthday gift I ever gave myself.

By the way, you all are awesome as well.

parties and cakes

We had a fabulous holiday this weekend with a party and costumes and lots of cake. This was the first halloween party I have had since I was 15 years old.

I just realized I basically wore the same 'costume' as my last party. Although when I was 15 I wore an old pink velvet dress that belonged to one of my great aunts. This time I just got dressed up in velvet and diamonds and my grandmother's rhinestone necklace, because if you aren't going to honor your dead on Halloween all I can say is you are way braver than I am. Several wore clever and great cotumes including my wife who made herself a fabulous costume so that she could look like our dog. I still laugh just picturing it in my mind's eye. One of my favorite couples who came as Calvin and Hobbs quite stole my heart, and the couple who dressed as a priest and nun were pretty scary.

Anyway it was such fun. The only downside was a third of the people who planned on coming ended up not making it. Quite a few got sick, 2 had a death in the family and so on. They were missed. And that means I have a lot of leftover cake. I find cake to be the hardest thing to bake when you are trying to avoid white sugar and white flour. My chocolate cake came out well with good flavor though a bit dry. The apple cake had more of a coffee cake vibe going for it and is very enjoyable. I will be enjoying cake for most of this week that's for sure. There are plenty of leftovers. A sweet day to all!

november snippets coming

Well I did it. After several years of wishing I 'had the time' I signed up for nanowrimo. I may be insane but I finally realized that I should just do it instead of wishing I had.

The turning point came this morning. I had thought about it the whole month of October but hadn't signed up, then I got busy with our halloween party and spaced out that yesterday was the start, November 1. This morning I was looking at my schedule and feeling a bit sad, because it was too late, thinking 'oh maybe next year' and then suddenly I snapped. and signed up then and there. If I can figure out how to add the button to my page here I will do so.

and my word count is 2228 right now.

I may not make it but at least I am giving myself the fun of trying. That being said I foresee a blog full of snippets and typos this month. I hope you all can cheer me on.

Happy birthday to my oldest friend Beth, born two days apart we have been friends for a long time. It' s been way too long since we have spoken, so I am off to email her right away. But I want to send love through my blog as well....jic.

taking the shine

It was indeed a weird week last week. I had really funny adorable post rattling in my head and then I was wiped out by a migraine. I don't get migraines very often nowadays, perhaps twice a year, but when I do whoa .

As I was pulling out from a bad one [made worse by the sauna, note to self 'do not sauna when you have a migraine'] I was going to put myself in bed for a little nap, hopefully to speed the healing. Oh wait, I thought, must feed kitty first so I won't be nagged while trying to heal.

That was when it happened, I bent over in the dark closet to get the food and smacked my face into the vacuum handle I didn't see. Thereby getting my first shiner. There was much profanity, those who only know me through this blog may not realize what a swearer I am, and when faced with that kind of pain I really let loose. I then stumbled to the couch, clutching an ice pack, held it on my face and cried for 15 minutes. I didn't even really realize I was crying.

Ok, I had no idea that black eyes hurt that much. wow. How do people fight or box and even risk that kind of pain. Even though the excruciating bit was done in an hour, it throbbed for a day then hurt for several more, and now near a week later it is still tender to touch. And yes, it is totally weird to be able to see your own cheek without looking into a mirror.

And weirdly I even felt shame about it, like people would be assuming that I had been in a fight or been abused or something. It was a new experience I wouldn't have minded missing though I certainly have empathy for all those with black eyes now. Which is probably handy from a 'growing as a person' perspective.
Should I be seeing a moral in here about not taking care of your cat before yourself or something...

cold so soup

The late November weather continues. Of course October is barely half over but I survive. I don't like to complain about the cold too much, since usually I don't mind it all that much, after all I do choose to live here in Minnesota. I feel silly complaining about cold here, like complaining about rain when you choose to live in Seattle. But seeing it snow again this morning as I drove to work was...a downer. I love autumn and I would really love it if the weather would go back to average so that I could enjoy autumn.

In the meantime my best response to the weather is soup. There was a ham bone waiting so it's making yummy broth right now and the beans are soaking. Tomorrow I'll take the fat off the top of the chilled broth and make white bean soup. I have a plethora of veggies to choose from so who knows what will go into it. Definitely kale since I have bags of it and leeks and who knows--soup adventures!

The supporting reason for my beginning this soup...I can step into my kitchen again, the new floor is grouted. Rosie was adorable the first time she picked her way daintily across the new floor, seeing a rottweiler be light-footed is not something you see every day. The floor is still a work in process though absolutely gorgeous. Although we sealed the slate first it did absorb some of the grout, which we have to get off the tiles before the second coat of sealer goes on. And of course the grout needs to be sealed as well. But still big progress.

Now to mull over paint colours for the walls. Stay warm.

jumble in my head

There are all kind of things that I could blog about today. I am really having a hard time narrowing it down so instead, brain blog dump.

-This week we got 2.5 inches of snow. It was all way too early for us all. My garden is basically done for the year and the CSA ends this week as well. It's been quite the veggie ride this summer. And I think I would do it again.
-Our red and yellow check 12x12 laminate tile kitchen floor has bit the dust. The tiles were just crumbling to bits every time it was washed, and finally we admitted we either had to put down a new floor or walk around on plywood for awhile. Since my super handy bil is in town and willing to do most of the work getting a new floor down, that is what we have been doing. We went with the 16x16 slate tiles from home depot at 1.77 a square foot. The grouting is today and the floor looks stunning. And really the project is happening quite quickly. But I feel like I have been spending every moment with other people and my introvert self is reeling. I desperately need some quiet time and I feel stupid about getting it.
-I am in the second week of a resiliency program which does not have link. If you have ever read "the Chemistry of Joy" then you'll have an idea of what the program consists. This is run by the guy who wrote that book and is quite cool and hard and amazing and overwhelming all at the same time. Not sure how I will feel at the end. Sometimes I do not feel very hopeful. And sometimes I feel out of place since I have never even been on anti-depressant medication.
-the weather is changing [even earlier than usual] and I have no idea how I will get more exercise in my life, especially given that my downstairs is torn up with the floor remodel. And we are going to paint the kitchen as well since the old yellow won't go with the slate floor and it hasn't been done in 10+ years and really needs it.
-if I still sound overwhelmed I am. It seems to be the theme for the year.
-in my intake for the program it was recommended I go on Rhodiola. It's been about a month now and I think it's helping. [which I guess is good but I don't know if doing more is the optimal result] This is probably why I was able to consider tackling the kitchen problem at all and why ...
-we are having a Samhain [Halloween] party at the end of the month. If you know us and you live in the area and you didn't get an invitation it was pure accident. We are inviting everyone. I am really looking forward to a fun, informal get together with whoever can drop by. My first Halloween party since my junior year in high school!
-the cottage is taking up some attention. a new furnace really needs to be installed to deal with our very cold [and did I mention early] winters. Hopefully it will work out and soon.

So there it is a collage of my current life. Perhaps there will be more focus coming out of all of this soon. I hope everyone is as warm as they need to be right now.

the second second one

Last week I went on a bit about my sweetie, which I feel is all but expected when celebrating an anniversary. Today is the second anniversary of our second wedding. On October 12, in Victoria BC, Canada we were married in a lovely garden by a public officiant who just happened to be a Unitarian minister.

It's hard for me to describe what a big deal this was. If you currently live in a country where you have always had the right to marry the person you love you may not get it. We went to the government 'stat' building and bought a license, we have a wedding license from the province of British Columbia, we are just plain old married up in Canada. It is just amazing to be treated normally sometimes. I remember it so lovingly. How the B&B owners attended. How our amazing witnesses, 'friends of friends', came with flowers and gifts to celebrate with 2 strangers getting married in their country. How the sun shown in the garden. How simple it was. How my wife looked signing the doument. How we had the most basic ceremony words at this wedding:

"In the presence of these witnesses I now take you to be my wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better for worse,for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, in sorrow or in joy, to love and to cherish as long as we both shall live."

I still cry thinking about it. It does make a difference.

I am full of gratitude that I got to experience this and I pray that in my lifetime I will have a third wedding in my own country where I am a tax paying citizen. *sigh*

the second first one

Yesterday was our second anniversary of our first wedding.
In so many ways these 2 years have whizzed by. It seems a bit odd to think 'here we go onto year 3'. But odd in the best way. My parents sent the sweetest card. I feel so lucky for their support.

We both worked during the day so we had BLTs at home and went to the Guthrie for rush tickets and saw The Importance of Being Ernest. It was a very fun evening, and it's a delight to see a classic at the Guthrie, but mostly it's wonderful being married to this amazing woman.

The woman I married is an incredibly kind, generous, brilliant person. I have always been in awe of her brain, of her amazing creativity. I can't believe I married a physicist! I feel blessed that we joined our lives together. I believe that we truly do support each other in ways that nurture strength and change and insight. Mostly I feel lucky.

I truly hope that my sweetheart's next year will be made smooth and effortless.

shoe summer

So this summer I have been having shoe/feet problems of the like I have not experienced since I broke my ankle 20 years ago. Those who have read this blog for awhile might remember how I hate shoe shopping. Feel free to think I am weird. [like you need that permission]

I started the summer knowing I needed shoes badly, I especially wanted good shoes for India. Summer shoes are always more of a challenge for me, because I was shooting for sandals styles and most sandals are not suitable for inserts. However I was willing to spend money on good summer shoes, ok not $300 a pair but I was not going to look for sales and settle for less. I was ready to shop for shoes!

Seriously I did my best. And I bought 3 pairs. Merrill clogs, Clark dressy sandals, Teva sandals and Keen sport water sandals. Prices $68, $60, $40 and $98 I believe. See I did not go cheap. I have had good luck with Clarks and Tevas in the past, I have never heard a bad word about Keens [my chiropractor loves hers] and the Merrill clogs felt really good. It was all a big shoe lie.
My feet, especially my right heel, hurt almost constantly. [I have never had problems with my right heel before] And since I basically bought the shoes at the same time I had a hard time narrowing down the culprit. It was especially horrible in India, because guess which shoes I brought? And then I was sitting so much it was making everything worse, and then because I hurt I didn't want to move, and the lack of movement made other stuff worse and my heel ached all the time. You can probably see the vicious cycle.

I got home depressed about my shoes and feet. So I threw the clogs away, and went shoe shopping again. I was going to get something with lots of heel support that I could exercise in and well I just prayed that my shoe luck would turn.

Happily it looks like it has. I just happened to stumble on a sale at Nordstroms and I got a pair of ASICS gel-kinetics for $89 and they are working out pretty well. My heel is not getting any worse, it is certainly supported and I have spent long hours on my feet and still felt pretty good at the end of the day.

I was feeling a bit cocky about my shoe luck even. While I was on vacation, I pondered on what shoes I should get for work. I can't wear my tennies all the time. After mulling it over I came up with what I thought was the perfect solution. Short, brown, low heeled square toe boots with room to put in a good insert that gave me plenty of heel support. A great solution. Then last weekend I took the shoe goddess shopping with me for guidance. HA! The boots in my head do not apparently exist at this time at least not in the zillion of stores we went into, I may turn to Zappos online.

So was I too cocky about shoe luck turning? Are the Asics just a fluke? Do I bring all this bad shoe fortune on myself? Ah well. Wish me happy hunting.

indian food, still yummy

There was some concern that India would ruin Indian food in the US for me. I am happy to report that this did not happen although some things have changed.

Eating Indian food every day for a month, well as you may have gathered from the previous post, it did get to be a bit much. Part of the problem was not only was I eating Indian food everyday but I was virtually always eating at the same place. I believe I ate 6 meals at restaurants other than the hotel and ate at 2 potlucks at work. Perhaps 3 poor meals at the work cafeteria. For the whole month. So more than getting tired of Indian food I got tired of eating in that hotel, everything started to taste the same there. At the same time it was a mistake while at the hotel to eat the more European offerings, for the most part they were bad. Hyderabad is considered one of the spiciest of Indian cuisines but I always had my raita/yogurt ready and if it was hot to me I just cooled it down. It worked perfectly, I was ready for a change but for the most part I enjoyed it.

I got the impression that Indian food in India was going to be wildly different from Indian food in the states but really I didn't find that to be the case. Probably the biggest difference is that most dishes there are not served with rice, everyone eats it with bread instead. [and I love fresh Indian bread] Though the rice dish Biryani is hugely popular in Hyderabad, rightly so. Even the potlucks at work had all recognizable food, to me at least. Now the desserts were really different [interesting to be a potluck with 8 desserts and none were chocolate] but as I don't eat sugar and most were super sweet it really never came up.

So I ate a lot of Indian food, missed salads a lot and beef, tried a lot of stuff, some of which was excellent and came home ready for garden fare. However 2 weeks after I got back I was ready to have Indian at our favorite place again. We ordered some of our favorite dishes, medium as usual since the raita here at the states is an extra $4 and we usually don't get it.

I tasted it, 'oh they forgot and made it mild, too bad.' My wife tasted, 'it isn't mild.' I was amazed but she assures me that it was their typical level of medium heat. When I tasted it more carefully I could tell it wasn't bland and flavorless which is how mild would normally taste to me, it just wasn't spicy [at all] Then I bought a clue, I was different not the food. Apparently the month of eating much spicier food, even with curd at times, had tweaked my spice tolerance to a higher setting. It felt odd to realize that I had changed without being aware of it. I seem to be having a craving for spicy peppers on and off as well.

Not sure what I'll do the next time we eat out Indian though. Is this the end to sharing dishes?

squirrel stew

I am deliriously happy that my garden was kept alive while I was in India. There is nothing like being in a country where you are told over and over again to not eat raw vegetables, in August, to make you obsess a bit about your garden at home. Not too mention the weekly CSA deliveries you are missing.

By week 4 I was ready to fly the plane home myself in order to get a salad. Indian anecdote; There were 4 of us in the car coming home from work, 9:30pm, heading to the hotel. I was in the front next to the driver, we had been in the country for 3+ weeks.
From the back seat to me: 'what do you want to have for dinner?' Me: "Steak, fresh sliced tomatoes and corn on the cob." ho,ho
Back seat: 'try again.' Me: "a huge green salad?" sadly this time
Back seat: 'and again.' Me, throwing my hands in the air and shouting gleefully: 'Indian food!' The driver and everyone else in the car cracks up. Really the oddest things would make us laugh.

So fast forward to now and my tomatoes are ripening beautifully and are tasty as well. It has not been a very good year for my CSA in tomato land so we aren't getting tons...not enough to freeze but still a lot and I love them. I am even making salsa and salsa verde with the tomatillos and I am also seriously thinking about squirrel stew!

Those little rat b@st@rds! Not only are they stealing tomatoes but they are taking the best ones you know that need a just one more day to be at their peak. However I would not grudge a couple of tomatoes to my furry neighbors if they ate them! but no they take a bite and then cast them aside and wreak more havoc AND as if that wasn't bad enough they leave the barely eaten succulent tomato on the outside windowsills in a totally mocking way. The little thieves. I am not a particularly squeamish person but I don't think I can finish a tomato with squirrel slobber on it.

Something has to be done, at least by next year. Any ideas on how to squirrel proof tomatoes?

It didn't happen but welcome back

Welcome back to me and you.
My plans to blog regularly while spending a month in India just didn't happen as you all can tell. Granted, I have never spent a month working in India before so not a huge surprise that some plans just did not work out.

Ok that sounds ominous. Nothing 'happened' to me while in India in fact I frequently jotted down notes of things I wanted to blog about. But then poof when I was back in the hotel room. No blogging.

I couldn't quite figure it out, I was really tired of course between the 60 hour work week and well I found Indian culture shock pretty tiring too. But then I have been back in the country [how I love my country] for over 3 weeks and still no blogging.

Finally though I think I have figured it out and it took days of actual vacation with no work to manage to do it. It wasn't just that I was tired from working 11+ hour days and it wasn't just that India is very overwhelming in many ways especially when you are new to it. The thing that really but the kibosh on blogging was the fact that I was always, always talking, sharing and 'on'. Constant teaching for me was like blogging, because I was not there just to teach but to 'build relationships' this took a lot of effort, a lot of sharing and had a bit of weirdness to it. And apparently it is much the same part of me that I would use to blog. It was just all used up!

Now I just feel more like myself and ready to blog again. I can once more delve into what I have been doing, eating and pondering online. I know that there are a few people who read my blog but it also seems to me that the people who read my blog aren't too fazed if I just disappear for a few weeks. I wonder if anyone will start reading it again ... well I won't worry about it.

A teaser of things to come: veggies, squirrls, patios, paint, indian food and parties.

contradictions in India

For me contradictions abound in India.
I am in a fascinating new place, on the other side of the globe, but I hardly have time to see it. Outside the average office building where I work [and work and work] in is an encampment of shacks. 'Temporary' homes for construction workers and their families completely primitive.
I am here in the monsoon season but there is a drought.
When it does rain [heavily] there doesn't seem to be much drainage planned and the water just piles up.
Being in India is an intense experience. To be fair, I would probably find training for 4 solid weeks, noon to 9pm, working 55 hours a week intense no matter where I did it. India though just adds it's own twist on everything.
There seem to be temples and shrines everywhere and all in use, I asked one guide how many temples there were in the city of Hyderabad and he seemed floored. There must be thousands I guess he finally answered. I bet he is right, it reminds me of Rome with a church or a ruin on every street. There is a level of poverty that is stunning along with an amazing level of devout belief. I wonder if these 2 things often coincide?
There are many things to laugh about, usually at myself when I rub up against a cultural difference that just strikes me as funny. One can get so used to security that one is amazed to enter a restaurant and not go through a metal detector first
There is an amazingly expensive hotel. The hotel had a smokey kitchen fire the night of a big storm, when the doors were opened to let smoke out water rushed in flooding the lobby. Now the lobby smells, as far as we can tell the area rugs were never picked up for drying or cleaning. Could it be that smells are just to be expected during the rainy season? I have no idea, it's India and things are just so different from anything I knew previously.
People have a hard time saying no, some people even say yes when they mean no, for the life of me I can't figure out when yes means no and when yes mean yes. Except by results. It can be totally bewhildering.
I am in awe, at how people work, at how they eat but stay so tiny, at how they laugh and share, I am amazed at all the sameness. I have 9 more days in India and I can't even imagine what will happen next. Except I'll be working a lot.

saris and uniforms

Although I seem to blog in my head constantly I am having trouble getting online to do it. The internet connection, even from this large hotel, is very very slow compared to what I am used to...so it tends to make work take longer which cuts into blogging time.

Attached to the hotel is a large convention center where many weddings happen. One of the weddings last week was 7000+ people and there is suppose to be another as large on the 15th! There was so much traffic we got out and walked to the hotel once we could see it. It was much faster. I have been told in the south here, 500-800 people at your wedding is considered rather small. It seems in the North weddings are not quite so large.

I frequently observed the women enter for the wedding in their most elegant saris. I have never seen fabric like that before and each one seems to more beautiful than the next. It is like the most wonderful fashion parade in the world. And it also seems charming to me to see the sari uniforms that are worn by flight attendants or staff at the center. A sari as a uniform is wonderful. There also seem to be lots of other types of uniforms. The spa workers wear brick red silk tops with pearls. The clerks are all in black. The doormen/security are all in khakis and straw hats.

I have read and been told that workers in India frequently get allowances for food, clothing, housing along with their pay which does not get taxed. I am guessing that these uniforms are part of the complicated packages.

Of course as hotel employees I am sure they are trained to be courteous to guests but it is nice to say good morning and smile at everyone. I enjoy greeting people that way, and most of the time it does help your day be better.

first day kinda

So my 'first day' in India. The jet lag is really something. So hard to feel like it is day when your body is screaming at you that it is night time. Sunday morning, after a safe arrival in the hotel I felt like I had been beaten with a stick. It was so intense and unreal. I showered [which was bliss] and ate then feel into a weird intense sleep for a good 5 hours.

Why is it that I always feel so incredibly dirty after travel? I am not really doing much at all, just sitting around for the most part. But I get so incredibly grubby, or at least I feel that way.

Anyway I woke up at 1:30, determined to stay awake until evening. It was not easy but I did it. A coworker and I decided to get a driver and go out into the city. We at first thought to use a hotel driver but they wanted to charge us 2000-4000 rupees for a few hours which I knew was way too much. I have read that you can hire a driver and AC car for Rs 100 [or less] for a whole day. I'm not sure if the hotel always charges high because it is a very expensive hotel, or is they thought we were suckers. We lucked out though, one of the drivers assigned to our group was available and showed up speaking excellent English and we were off.
Hyderabad is a large city with a lot of traffic. He took us around. He took us to his friends' lovely shop even though we assured him we would not be purchasing today. It was nice to have our first peek at Indian crafts. It was also odd to be in a store where 4 people are hovering around anxious to be of service. I, not surprisingly, fell in love with an all silk rug.

My in-laws brought back 2 of these gorgeous rugs from their trip. But they are expensive even in India, and I cannot help but think what happens the first time one of the animals throws up on it? Or has another kind of 'accident'? That is what would happen in my house [probably]. So we'll see if I succumb in the month I am here.

Then we drove to visit the Birla Mandir temple. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birla_Mandir,_Hyderabad
They do not allow cameras [or phones or shoes] there which seems reasonable since it is an active temple and people are at their devotions there. Cell phones are legion in India and the ringing is probably not very conducive to meditation. There are a legion of pictures to be found online though. Not only is the temple itself beautiful but the views from the top over the lake and city are stunning. We saw 2 men cleaning a wall with water and pumice, certainly a full time job since the entire thing is made of marble. Since no one wears shoes, even the security guards, your feet don't get too dirty.

I can't even describe everything that we saw on that drive. The Muslim graveyard with it's brightly colored markers. The cows all over. The amazing way they drive. Surely Indians are the leaders at merging while driving. The incredible way 4+ people fit on one scooter. The dogs I saw all seemed large and long legged. The incredible amounts of new construction, the boulders and ruins and shacks of people right next to new office buildings.

India is so large. In fact this is the first time this week I have thought about missing Mich Fest. India really fills your senses.

Exhaustion and drinking fountains

It will be interesting to see how many mistakes I make in this post. I am getting slammed with some serious jet lag. It's making things seem harder than they are, making me feel crowded and overwhelmed. Like my comfort zone is nowhere to be found.

The leg from Amsterdam to Mumbai was not as nice. It was a much older, less comfortable plane. The airplane food was occasionally edible. The attendants very nice, and I got about 3-4 hours of real sleep which was certainly needed when we got to India.

I wish I could really describe what happened at the Mumbai airport but I can't because I don't understand it. We needed the check in ticket counter for our next leg so that we could get our boarding pass. But there was no signage like 'airline ticket counters', I can't even think about how many mistakes we probably made. But in the end we made it onto the proper plane full of attendants in saris. In fact we found out later the entire crew for that flight including the captain and pilots were females. They announced this at the end of the trip and everyone applauded.

Hyderabad was smoother, although we went down the international hallway which since we had entered the country in Mumbai was an error. They all just looked at our entry stamp and waved us through. Everyone was so patient and nice. Which was wonderful especially since I felt like crying there mostly just because I was so short on sleep and energy. A couple of people with 3 cars met us at work and we had a 45 minute trip to the hotel. Everything was a breeze at that point.

I saw a drinking water stand in Mumbai and I got so excited then I remembered I am not suppose to drink non bottled water in India. The exact same thing happened in the Hyderabad airport. I was proud of myself for managing to remember, then later on today I wet my toothbrush at the tap all on automatic. ah well.

I am following my doctor's regimen of one pepto and one probiotic a day. So far so good. But buffets full of food you don't recognize but try leads too much food. I may start ordering from the menu some times.

airport lounge

So the first leg of my journey is done and I am sitting in the lounge at the Amsterdam airport. We came in with a beautiful sunrise. The flight over the Atlantic was pretty sweet in business class. Of course when I am again traveling on my own dime it will be hard to get used to coach.

Everything is going well although I am so tired. I guess I have been so excited that I have not slept well.

Currently in the airline lounge where one of my mates pointed out that Ted Nugent was in the next group of seats. I didn't even notice. The woman with him looks like a blond starlet, glamorous even under these circumstances.

Although there is a waiting list for the showers it still nice to know the option exists. But I still have another 9 hour flight ahead of me so no shower yet.

India prep

Indirectly my upcoming trip to India is having a huge impact on this blog. If days go by and I haven't posted it's usually because my head is spinning from prepping for India.

Getting ready to go to India for business is a project all on it's own. There is a lot of paperwork to coordinate for the visa, there is a lot of work prep to be done and then it all has to be balanced with personal needs that a month long stay entails. Not to mention trying to schedule tourist trips on the weekends.

When I am in India this blog will be all about India at that time. I am hopeful that I can detail quite a bit about my experiences while they are fresh right here.

For now I will say that I am so excited and dreading it at the same time. The dread is not very serious, it comes from so many unknowns rushing at me in a short time. 'will I hate it? will I be homesick? will I get sick? will training be hard? will it be dangerous? will I have time to myself? how will I arrange my weekends? will there be time to have fun? will I bring the right stuff? will I have suitable clothes? will people realize I am gay? will there be lots of personal questions?' and on and on and on.

I am looking forward to it at the very same time. I believe it will be a mind blowing change in my life, and I cannot believe it is happening! I feel so lucky, and a teeny bit sad about missing mich fest this year. Oh well. August in India will be something all right.

cold in July

It is pretty unusual to have cold weather in July but we really had quite the cold snap at the end of last week. [It's all relevant I guess, if I had 65 degrees on my birthday I would be jumping for joy.] Usually love propels me to turn on the oven during a muggy heatwave to make my sweetie a birthday cake of her choosing but this year the temp was so low I was positively looking forward to turning on the oven. She choose to not have a cake. Apparently she decided that having a whole cake in the house which she will end up eating 75% is just not that good of an idea [go figure]. A chocolate cupcake, and a breakfast that included an almond croissant were plenty she said.

So there I was wanting something. and it was too cold to eat ice cream. Yes, I admit it, I only really enjoy ice cream when the temp is in the 80's and sunny. Then I realized that even though it was July, I could turn on my oven and I made Pain d'├ępices.

This is a perfect recipe for twisting to my use. Many of the versions call for honey. One can easily substitute agave nectar for honey in any recipe without too much thinking. Also it is not suppose to be very sweet and my sweet tooth is so sensitive that this is important. It has a heavier, more substantial batter, it calls for part rye flour, this signals to me it is a perfect candidate for using whole wheat flour. My favorite way to eat this is with soft butter spread thickly but really the options are endless.

In case you too experience the need to turn on your oven I give my version below, cobbled together from many.

Be sure all your ingredients are room temp before you start. Adjust the spice levels to suit your own taste, I love ginger so I weight it more, I replace the anise seeds with other spices, you get the idea.

Preheat oven to 350, butter and flour a bread pan.

Sift together and set aside:

3.5 c WW pastry flour
.5 c rye flour [dark as you can find]
2.5 t baking soda
2 t ground ginger
1 t cinnamon
.5 t sea salt
.25 t nutmeg
.25 t mace
.25 t all spice
.25 t black pepper
.25 t ground cloves

[if you are an anise fan, I'm not, replace the mace and all spice with .5 t anise seeds]

Mix, with an electric mixer:

.25 c soft butter
1 c agave nectar or palm sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 T fresh orange zest or 1.5 t dried orange peel minced

Add to butter/egg mixture:

1 c water [not cold]

Add the sifted, dry ingredients, a third at a time and combine well. Scrape the sides as you add.

Spread into the loaf pan and bake 50-60 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. The top will be dark though not burnt.

Cool on rack 10 minutes then remove from pan.
Try to cool completely before you slice and eat. [good luck with that!]

If your slices are crumbling horribly it's because you didn't wait for it to completely cool, but no one could blame you.

cherry recipe wrestle

Well the cherries are all off our tree, there is a teeny amount left in the freezer but that's it. Before they all got eaten I made a second, much improved clafouti that I want to share with you all. I will be tweaking this some more, although it will get made with berries or peaches or some other fruit. [It won't technically be a clafouti then, oh well]

I cobbled this together from many sources. My desired food combination of alternate natural sweeteners but keeping whole wheat and dairy seems rather uncommon. I am not dairy free or gluten free, I just don't cook with sugar but I don't have allergies and I am not a vegetarian, but whole grains and keeping away from white flour and rice are also important to me --well it seems that not many share my category. [ok, I have no category] Thus I figure recipes out myself a lot of the time.

Hmmm, I just realized that alternate natural might not make sense to anyone who isn't me. These are the sweeteners with which I cook: palm sugar, agave nectar, rice syrup, maple [sugar or syrup] and barley malt syrups. Some more than others. [I will also use stevia to sweeten drinks like lemonade or cocoa] I have an uneasy feeling I am forgetting one, which I am sure I will remember as soon as I post this.

One of the fun things about clafouti is there is no 'right' or 'one' way. It's a bit like recipes for bread [or rice] pudding, every family seems to make it different.

[Cherry] Clafouti v. 1

preheat oven to 375 and butter a round cake pan or ceramic baking dish

Mix together until light in color, 3 eggs and 1/2 c palm sugar. [the color should lighten]
Add 8 T of melted butter gradually, while mixing. [I think 5 T would be a better amount here]
Add 1/2 c whole wheat pastry flour and mix until incorporated
Slowly add 1 c milk, keep mixing
Add 1 t flavoring [with cherries use almond]

The batter should be smooth.

Pour batter in pan, place 2 c fruit on batter [be careful if you don't pit the cherries], and bake until set and lightly browned about 30-40 minutes.
Let sit 10 minutes before eating.

While this is yummy fresh from the oven I am also firmly in the camp that believes that leftover clafouti is a near perfect breakfast and pretty good for dessert the next night as well. You decide.

CSA surprises

Funny how much fun a CSA can be. But this week it really was. The weather was lovely and I found a slightly new route which made to run more enjoyable. But there were also a couple of things that made it great.

My CSA posts a list of 'what we hope will be in the boxes' on Mondays. This whets one's anticipation and helps you know what not to buy at the store. Although between the garden and the CSA I pretty much know to not buy more veggies.

I went to the store on Thursday and really wanted a cucumber. I love cucumbers, and they are not on the list yet. But [the plot thickens LOL] there were no cukes in the entire coop. The weirdest thing, but they said their supplier was out. I was bummed but then thrilled to pick up my CSA box, look at the newsletter and realize that not only was there a gorgeous slicing cuke but 2 pickling cukes as well. And early surprise for us CSA. Seems kind of a small thing but fairly thrilling at the time. But there is more. Although there was no mention of it in the newsletter some random boxes got quarts of strawberries, the last of the season and they were wonderful. It was certainly a successful CSA week.

I have already made pickles out of the cukes, I can't wait to taste them and the sweet and sour cabbage [their recipe] with the savoy cabbage was fab. There was a cauliflower, and more squash and a fresh yellow onion and lettuce and we are seriously just munching away. It's just all very good. I hope all are enjoying some of the fruits of summer.