food! cooked by others

This past week had several interesting food experiences, way more than I usually have in one week. It also made me realize just how much I miss Heidi's since it burned down in February.

Sunday-dinner before dancing with friend at Obento-Ya, fabulous as usual. It was chilly so I didn't have sushi this time, [I'm not crazy about cold food in cold weather] but we had classic bento boxes and dumplings to start and were very happy. And were still able to dance afterwards for a couple of hours, the food is never heavy.

Monday - quickie meal at the Bryant Lake Bowl, their mock dock rolls, an entree pretending to be a starter are fabulous. The salad we shared was good but it was too much with the rolls. We were stuffed to the gills.

Tuesday - My wife and I went to Vincent. Since this was our first visit here I am still processing my impressions. The food excellent [scallops, halibut] to quite good [salad, gnocchi] . Wine recommendation excellent. The panna cotta,, hmm perhaps an old classic that had been tweaked too much, it was in a glass and rather runny. The room was very beige, the staff very nice, the location right downtown was fine.

Thursday -- a gala dinner with friends to support Dining out for Life at Al Ventos, a platinum sponsor. This is probably my favorite April ritual, getting the list of participating restaurants and finding the one, then gathering as many people as we can to go out and eat. We eat at Al Ventos quite often so we know what is reliably good and what is not. Their desserts seemed turned up a notch in the sweetness range, our table was not happy about that. But still a lovely evening. I hope everyone had something yummy to eat this week.

writing goal update not forgotten

So yeah, how did last week's writing goal go? Great!
Super, so you wrote 1500 words? 1500 words? nope about 500.
So you didn't make goal but it was great? yes, isn't that great?

And you know it really is great, because for the second week in a row I wrote during the week leading up to my next writers meet up. I was more engaged in my story as the week went by and when I sat down to write on Monday I wrote a lot, with quite a bit of ease.

I am spiraling down towards my conclusion and it feels great. The amount of dreck that flows into my first draft is still laughable, but I am determined to get an ending written and then move onto revisionland! hurrah. I jump back in my first draft and make notes where I want to add or explain in the second draft as ideas come to me. Then when I jump back toward the near end I go on. 2 weeks ago the ending was the vaguest outline in the haze with a couple of words 'renewal happens'. Now when I think of the ending I can see so much more, the shape, the characters, some of the events that are going to happen, it's a glorious feeling.

Many thanks again to my writing partner, when we chat about our stories it is like lights get turned on in the darkness and suddenly I see things in my story's landscape that were there all the time, blinking benignly at me. Though I just realized we neither set a goal for this week nor the next time we are going to meet! That's not like us but still we write.

word count = 74,615

early spring

As I have mentioned we are having a blissful spring this year weather wise. Frequently this area goes right from freezing snow to blistering summer temps with very little lingering in between. But not this year. This year there was no snow in March [and usually it is the snowiest month]. Instead it seems we have had weeks and weeks of sunny weather, sometimes in the 70s but not always, cooler nights and blooms everywhere. All the trees are flowering enthusiastically a whole month ahead of some years. Really it has been glorious. The earliest spring since 1981. My roses are already growing, the lavender actually survived the winter and the weeds are all extremely happy.

While I have been enjoying it immensely I have also been thrown off my gardening game. While sitting on the terrace last Tuesday I realized that the grass desperately needed to be cut --on April 2oth. I keep on thinking our CSA is going to start any time, because it feels like it should be the third week of May not April. And we are not out of the woods, we still have a least a couple of weeks where we could get a hard frost and we'll have to cover the cherry tree with a sheet to protect the blossoms.

Well at least we don't have stuff to water yet, but my gardens are looking me wondering when I am going to get them prepped for growth. Also I am arguing with myself, should I plant some cold weather stuff early? Is that foolish? What on earth am I going to plant this year? All in all though it's a fun challenge to have, I adore this spring.

Running report wk 1

Those of you with internal calenders or good memories looked at the title of this post and thought WTF? surely more than a week has passed since we were all stunned by the running announcement made on this very blog the 4th day of April. ahem.

You are correct of course my 'week one' stretched out way longer than even I could have pessimistically predicted. They encourage you to not move onto the next week until you feel that your body has adjusted. At this rate who knows how long week 2 will be but I will update as long as I continue the experiment.

So Couch to 5k, week one consists of 3 runs [or more] with one rest day in between in which you warm up with a brisk walk for 5 minutes, [run for 60 seconds, walk for 90 seconds] x 8, cool down walk for 5 minutes. About 30 minutes of exercise and I do minimal stretches before and after.

To say my body was shocked by this new activity is a paltry understatement. To say that some days I hated it would be true. To say I was proud and amazed when I realized I was running for about a half a mile would be accurate. oh and the learning. I can feel new neurons connecting every time mostly when a part of my body gets woken up by the activity and says 'what on earth do you think you are doing to me?' I have only run outside once, but that will change, especially when I am traveling.

I love the first 2 podcasts, blessings on you Robert Ullrey. It is such a relief to not have to try to remember when an interval starts or stops. I am also realizing that I need to be sure to get recovery time built into my week and listen better to my body. This is all great stuff, although I still do not know if I like running. Stay tuned.

Thursday and musical notes

Thursday ended with a great late night concert at the Bryant Lake Bowl. Work had been dreadful, a headache was threatening to ascend to a migraine, my dear wife had to do all the dinner preparations since I was resting trying to ditch the headache.

But you know the nap worked, which was a gift in itself because I am a pretty poor napper. My in laws came over and we had a great dinner. Grilled steak, risotto, and sauteed fennel. The starter was leftse, hard sausage and creamed herring which all the Scandinavians gobbled happily.

Then the late show at BLB, opening with Rachael Cantu with Alex Silverman and then Garrison Starr. Silverman and his fabulous slide guitar really gave an extra depth to Rachel's performance. Then Starr's set was a joy. This was the second time I caught a performance and I was so impressed with her development over the last few years. Her voice was rich and vibrant. And the ease with which she played virtually any request was delightful.

Upcoming there are more musical adventures planned. Kaki King is coming in May, Amanda Palmer in June and the fabulous David Daniels is coming in September. Musical delights in store.

writing goal update and others

Word count = 72,519 Anyone who cares and has rudimentary math skills will see that I so did not meet my 3000 word goal last week.

But despair not the goal served one of its most important purposes, it got me writing outside of my writing meet ups and I went from feeling 'how the heck is this story going to end anyway' to 'hey I am really excited to be writing this stuff'' Although neither of us made it to 3000 words my writing partner suggested a goal for this week of 1500, still stretching but perhaps a bit more reachable for us. [and she got way more words done than I last week!]

Really our Monday write in was awesome this week, I really felt like I was chugging along with the story. The weather continues to be one of the nicest springs in my memory. We went to Java Jacks, where the large rolling windows were wide open, so even when you were sitting inside, you felt like you were sitting outside, perhaps on a covered porch. The only downside is my stressful day job which does its best to suck a lot of joy out of my life and leaves me way less time for writing.

Still so much to feel joyful about.

wow on Sunday

This was a hard weekend in some ways. A lot of time was spent shopping with my wife, it was necessary and successful, we hit major sales, but it was draining. Neither of us enjoy shopping much at all.
Then Saturday night I needed to be online to work on a special project from 6pm to 2am. I felt really out of rhythm with my schedule and then the hardware change had to backed out anyway. Such a drag. I also noted that apparently it is way easier to stay up late when you are having a riotous time in Austin with friends than when it is for work.
So when Sunday started I was feeling pretty cranky and not well rested. But the day just kept on getting better. First a fabulous brunch out on our terrace, including fresh off the tree grapefruit my in-laws had just brought to town. Then I actually sat outside in the gorgeous weather and read a book. Something I don't have all that much time to do anymore. Then a fabulous workout at the Y.
Really the day was already stellar but there's more. I had decided to give ECD a miss for a second week in a row so that I could go to the Ellis and Susan Werner concert. It had been a hard decision because I love dancing and I love concerts. The fabulous Ellis seemed even more incandescent with joy than usual for good reason. I don't blame you if you find that hard to believe.
I was rendered incandescent with surprised goofy delight when she called for Trina Hamlin to the stage to join her [and Susan Werner] for the last song. There was babbling, seat bouncing and I think clutched my friend's arm [not hard--I think]. Hopefully I didn't embarrass my friend too much because I think I acted like an overjoyed dork. It was awesome [for me]. We'll see if she ever agrees to go to another concert with me.
I have been been longing to see Trina Hamlin and hear her awesome harmonica in person and there she was performing with Susan Werner for an entire set. Ok, Ellis is taking most of the summer off to be with her family but you have an opportunity to see Susan Werner and Trina Hamlin, you want to -- really -- don't hesitate, see them if you can, buy tickets now. How's that for subtle suggestion?

spring+eggs =

I have been craving cheesecake for several weeks but we had a mini moratorium on desserts in house recently. When there are luscious things like those cupcakes in the house it's so hard to not eat them all in one weekend. But when spring comes I start thinking of cheesecake for some reason and finally I gave in and made one.

Cheesecake like many custardy dishes are very easy to make when you are avoiding sugar. Cream puffs are great as well, but that's another day. Cheesecake also gives you the extra benefit of protein so that you can feel almost virtuous eating it. There are probably an infinite number of ways one could substitute ingredients in a cheesecake recipe so in order to save every one's sanity I'll just stick to how I made this cheesecake this weekend.

EB's April Cheesecake
Preheat over to 325 degrees.
Beat with mixer 4 eggs with 1/2 cup palm sugar until 'light'
-remembering that this will be rather butterscotch color not light yellow and also remembering to be careful what palm sugar you use, some will shoot your blood sugar into the stratosphere.
Add 1/2 pound of cream cheese and 1/2 american neufch√Ętel [farmer's] and mix until smooth
-so many kinds of cheese you can use and get a yummy result.
Add 1 teaspoon almond extract and mix
-I used almond because I served this with cherries.
Pour into a well greased baking dish, I used an 8x8.
-that's right I made this without a crust. and I don't worry about cracks in the top.
Bake until a knife stuck into middle comes out clean, this one 35 minutes.
-chill and enjoy with sour cherries on top [if you have some in the freezer from last summer] or any fruit of your choice.
It really is as easy as it sounds.

How will this end?

The short answer is that I really have no idea.

Which is probably too short. So I am closing in on the end of my first draft and I can't really visualize how it's all going to end. I think it's because I am once again approaching new territory. I have a kinda grasp on starting a story, I have been writing it for almost 6 months, I even have lots of ideas of how I want to revise stuff in the second draft...but how the heck do I end it?

I could place the blame squarely on my fairly mild childhood abandonment issues. Endings and saying good byes is something that is challenging for me at least half of the time. But now I notice that as I write all this out to you my dear blog readers that I feel kind of excited. I am going to try something new! Write an ending, wrap stuff up in a fairly neat way... [I'll go for clever in the second draft] who knows it may be fun? I may find out that I am good at it. I really just don't know.

Time to follow through on this whole 3000 words this week, luck to us all in all of our challenges.

non coherent triumph

I finally realized that if I wait until I can string 2 coherent thoughts together this blog may languish for even longer, so here is my random smattering.

What I have been doing: my taxes, exercising, first bike ride of the season [finally], dancing with my wife, the newish sax player in Roxy Hall is so awesome, coughing [still] and work, work, work. Banging up my knees and trying to be patient as they heal.
What I have been reading: Kim Harrison's latest.
What I have been writing: my novel. word count = 71,122 My partner and I have a 3000 word challenge to ourselves by next Monday [who's with us?]
What I have been knitting: Not much but I have a sleeve to finish on god daughter's sweater and another swap! Eek, only 6 weeks left on that swap. I am totally intimidated or something.
What I have been thinking: Why am I so tired? Tail end of illness or a bit of allergies? Did I actually ever like my job? What would it be like to have a job I liked? Is that even possible?
What I am planning for the immediate future: More biking, circle tonight, Y with wife tomorrow, OT for work Saturday night, concert on Sunday. Listen to Tara Brach dharma talks.

What I wish for us all: Rest and ease.

fever induced insanity perhaps

ok, I don't think this running thing is a fever induced fantasy world. [but if it was would I know at this point?] I am fairly clear on my process to get here after all.

But I am still really new at this. So first lesson learned. if you combine this new [high impact] exercise with your normal ECD dancing and we dance 3 hours the first Sunday of the month, the same day, you are probably going to be feeling it a lot in your body the next day. Seriously couldn't I have thought that through beforehand? Can I get better at knowing when I am pushing too hard? Oh wait- this I can blame on my fever - you know from last week- huh. Nope can't make that fly. Why is it so hard to say 'no' sometimes? How can the space needed for me to hear myself get created?

Anyway can I remember that icing is good and should be done asap? Seems doable.
Safe growth all!

how well do I know myself?

Sometimes the answer seems to be 'not too damn much at all'.

Before I expand on that I want to thank everyone for the good wishes and report that last night I finally slept, and I feel like a nearly normal person again. The virus is on its way out. Oh and happy Easter to all who celebrate today.

So the new thing I hinted at yesterday, I now have the brain power to blog about it. I am doing the couch to 5K program. For those of you who have known me for years remember to breathe through the amazement and disbelief. No I don't think we all slipped into a wildly alternate universe and I am pretty sure I have not been taken over by aliens. And really it's pretty weird for me as well, although I do have the advantage of knowing my process behind it. Many events and people have been part of my journey here without realizing it. If you want to hear it read on. Warning: it's a long one.

For those of you who haven't known me for years let's just say that the idea of me running for exercise seems ridiculous. Something I neither desired or ever considered a good match for me to put it mildly. Biking, dancing yes, elliptical machines fine, but running... no.

This did not come on suddenly though. It was year or so ago and the health list I have long been a part of was talking about holding a 5K run at the convention last summer. Due to India and money, I wasn't able to go to the convention, but it was, as always, interesting to hear the runners talk about their plans. I believe it was around that time that TJA told us all how she had been training and running at the Y. I found this enthralling since I knew that she had knee problems for years and that she wasn't a size 4. Yet she was doing something without pain, without making her knees worse that she always wanted to do - running. It was awesome and I was so happy for her. I also remember thinking so not interested in doing that. It's not for me.

Last summer which shall also be known as the 'shoe hell' summer I bought 3 pairs of sandals and I did not go low end. I bought Tevas, Keens and Clarks. I got home from India in September and my feet were killing me. I was starting to have pain in my right heel no matter what I did or what I wore. I was terrified I was getting plantar fasciitis. [I have 2 friends who are dealing with it] At the same time I was doing some of my consults that are part of resiliency training. I talked to the physical therapist about my frustration with my shoes and pain. She encouraged me to get running shoes and explained that even if I never ran they were still the best for support and cushioning. I decided I had nothing to lose.

I took my wife for support and went shoe shopping. Nordstrom's was having a big sale so we stopped and I told the clerk I wanted running shoes. He turned my current shoes over to look at the treads and said "you need to be careful when you buy running shoes you are an 'under pronator' [or supinator] and most running shoes correct for the opposite problem." He then found a pair of running shoes half size bigger than my 'normal' shoes for me off of the sale rack
they were asics Gel Kinetics. I bought them and never regretted it. Within 2 weeks my heel stopped hurting.

Lots of stuff things happened last autumn and winter. My wife and I started exercising regularly again. I did nanowrimo and was amazed at myself. As part of RT I learned that running was an activity recommended for my dosha. TJA had an upper body injury that derailed her running for awhile and I was finding her slow journey back to running incredibly inspirational. And I started thinking.

Why was I so sure I didn't like to run? I realized that I actually knew nothing of the sort. The very few times I had 'gone jogging' in junior high and high school it had been fine, kind of boring but I hadn't hated it. And I hadn't tried it since. I knew it was considered 'high impact' and that had always seemed like a bad thing. We went away to Austin and I missed my gym. I didn't feel like I was getting enough exercise just walking, how nice would it be to have one activity that was only dependent on having a good pair of shoes I thought. Here was a stunning thought: why not try it and see if in fact I liked running or not? Being sure to try it in the most stress less and easy way possible. I thought about what I needed. I needed new shoes [even without running shoes wear out in 6 months]. I needed comfortable bras with maximum support. I found both.

When I checked out the C25K program I was amazed at how similar it was to how my wife and I had started exercising back in October. It is very gradual and that's good. My body will probably go into shock a bit over this 'new thing'...but that's ok. New can be good, look at nanowrimo I said to myself.

So here I am in the bottom third of week one of C25K. I am using the podcast and enjoying it fine. I plan on going slow and I am alert for pain. Of course I don't know where this will end. I am committed to getting through the program as long as there is no pain but who knows I may find out that indeed I don't like running. That would be ok. At least this time I would actually know.

Once again I am amazing myself and that feels pretty awesome. I told my wife about it the first day and added the intervals in my head. 'I jogged for 8 minutes today' wow. If you had told me I would be saying that a year ago I would have laughed so hard I would have cried.
Let's see what happens.

various updates and lookbacks

Virus still kicking my butt and it seems likely this weekend will be spent in trying to catch up on work that just couldn't get done when I was feeling even sicker during the week. I just wish I could get some good sleep. Most nights I have to sleep sitting up because I cough uncontrollably when I lay down. So very tired. I have something brand new that may be emerging soon, but since I have such limited brain power I am not going to try to tackle it yet. Soon hopefully.

Its been over 4 months since I started the 'no multi-tasking while eating effort' and I am still struggling with it. Once again I notice that it gets harder when I am sick, it's like I crave old comfy habits even more when I feel under the weather. Frequently the past couple of weeks I have needed to stand to eat in the kitchen to keep myself from reaching for a book, and at work the press of work makes it very hard to not stay on the computer while I consume that apple. Here's hoping that it will eventually get easier.

Luckily I was not sick last weekend because not only did we go to that great concert but a group of us in our quest for a new favorite Vietnamese Restaurant went to Jasmine26 and then to see the Sorcerer [Gilbert and Sullivan], Jasmine 26 was very good, it doesn't fill the void we have had since Saigon closed but I will be eating there again. The Sorcerer was delightful, although not my favorite operetta in terms of the musical score the voices that were part of this cast--some were really first rate. the women who played Constance and Aline stand out for me the most. And all other parts, musicians, sets, direction very well done. This is one of my favorite springtime traditions. Unfortunately this was the second to last performance but next spring is sure to be great as well, circle next March on your calendars. It's Pirates of Penzance in 2011.

Then Sunday night was ECD as usual but not. We welcomed a new caller Margaret who I hope will agree to become a regular. This is in no way a criticism of our other callers, everyone brings their own style to calling, which is wonderful. It can also be very enjoyable to have different styles to experience. I don't know that I had a point except that I really enjoyed Margaret's style and picks for dances, it was joyful for me and before things got lost in the mists of illness I wanted to express that.

Last weekend was fabulous like the one before it in Austin. This weekend very different flavor, or really no flavor at all thanks to this virus. Just work and self care, sleepiness and head aches and gratitude for all the great stuff in my life. I hope all attending minicon, my favorite Easter tradition, are having a fabulous time. I'm with you in spirit.

more music fun

I am going to try to push past this feverish cold that is kicking my ass and get a bit of blogging done. I have been spending a bit of my down time thinking about my novel and how on earth to write the end. If I seem unusually incoherent in this post you all know the reason why now.

Last Friday my sweetie and I went on a double date. yes it was almost as cutsie as it sounds. We ate some Indian food at our favorite place. We laughed at how the host kept insisting both to us and to our friends that the women on the other side were the ones we were waiting for...they were so confused when we explained no those aren't our friends. It took me back to my time in India in a flash. That general look of confusion 'oh you mean I am wrong...' *snort*

Then we went on to Ginkos for the Pamela Means concert. The opening act was pleasant enough and certainly gutsy. Then we saw Pamela M who was awesome as usual. It has been several years since I have seen her and she has just gotten better and better. Her guitar playing honed to an edge and her musical range between jazz and political driven story songs. She truly is electrifying. Which seems a bit odd now that I type that because her energy is so low key. When I have more brain functioning I'll puzzle over that conundrum some more. It was a great start to a fabulous weekend before I got sick as a dog. Healing as well, it helped me miss Austin a little less.

Back to the tissues infused with vapor rub for me!