writing goals

Monday was a big day all around for me. Not only did I run 20 minutes in the morning first time ever but during the afternoon I finished my first draft of my novel during my weekly write meet. I can't even believe I am typing that. I finished the first draft all 86544 words of it.

It is the strangest feeling, in fact I still can't quite describe it. But along with the strange parts is the really happy part. I am so glad I have my first draft done.
I have to laugh when I think that I wrote over 50 K in November and then took 7 months to do 36K more. But I just couldn't keep up the pace of nanowrimo for long.

I am really looking forward to revising it now. As I wrote the first draft I kept thinking of things I wanted to change and scenes I wanted to add. Some characters became more interesting to me. Some things are so bad they make me laugh. Some scenes just doesn't make any sense.

Mostly it has been a lot of fun, and I think revising it will be even more fun. I hope everyone has some fun this week and a fabulous July.

running report week 5 [a,b,c]

I am still running .... but my "week" 5 was stretched out even more than I anticipated. Not only were there 3 different types of runs on the schedule but other events really interfered at times.

So first run was 3 intervals of 5 minutes of running. I did this 3 times. I really struggled to get running in, it was so humid outside and my gym had re-varnished a floor and the fumes just killed me for over a week. I felt stuck, when I tried to run I would start feeling sick after 10 minutes or so. It was pretty miserable but somehow I managed to stumble along and get some running done. Then last week I managed to get outside when the weather was decent and ran at the wildlife preserve and at our cottage, the dirt/sand paths were comfortable and I did 2 runs of 2, 8 minute intervals. It went well. And the week 5 podcast had great music luckily.

So this morning I did the 5 minute warm up, 20 minute run, and 5 minute cool down. I really didn't know if I could do it. It seemed like a huge leap going from 16 minutes total running in two separate intervals to one interval 20 minutes long. An increase of 4 minutes and no walking. I had to step out in faith and try it but I was so proud of myself when I was done. Perhaps even though mentally it seemed like a big increase my body didn't see all that much difference?

Here it is almost the end of June, I have been running almost 3 months and I can run 20 minutes. It is feeling pretty awesome. So onto week 6, it also is several different run types in one week, I may just see if I can do it they way the suggest. I'll be doing my 5k first race the first week of August when I am in Michigan. More running updates to come.

summer solstice 2010 and cherries already

brilliant, it's summer solstice already. Although we are having a humid and rather gloomy day thus far still the glorious light is always a reason to celebrate. Just last night I was invited out for dinner, I hesitated realizing I needed to spend time in the garden as well then I realized it's light until about 9:30! I can easily eat dinner out and still get an hour in garden before dark. The joys of summer solstice.

This is also a busy time of year since it coincides not only with one of my best friend's birthday but gay pride is also held this time of year in Minneapolis. 2010 has the extra addition of the UU general assembly which I will probably miss entirely, it was just the wrong week for me. oh well.

Also this weekend I started picking cherries from our tree, weeks ahead of last year. See the spring was really early this year, I did not imagine it. [too bad that didn't result in my getting my garden in early -- don't ask] So since it was not too hot I turned on the the oven and made clafouti again with my cooking cherries. Here it is version 2:

[Cherry] Clafoutis v. 2

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

Mix together on medium until light in colour and rather foamy, 3 eggs and 1/2 c coconut sugar.

[Basically I just keep the kitchen aid going on low as I add the rest to the egg/sugar mixture.]

Add 5 T of melted butter gradually, while mixing.
Add 1/2 c whole wheat pastry flour and mix until incorporated
Mix together 1/2 c yogurt with 1 T maple syrup and 1/2 c water, then pour this mixture slowly into batter
Add 2 t flavoring [with cherries use almond]

The batter should be smooth.

Pour batter in pan, place 1.5 c cherries, sour or sweet, on batter
Your choice as to whether you pit the cherries, it's traditional [and easier] to leave the pits in but then warn people before eating, if you plan on sharing it that is.
Bake until set and lightly browned about 30-40 minutes.

Let sit 10 minutes before eating.

Some claim clafoutis is only good fresh from the oven and it is delicious. However I am firmly in the camp that believes that leftover clafoutis is a near perfect breakfast and pretty good for dessert the next night as well. I would be happy to eat your leftovers if you disagree.

one of my favorite guy things

Cologne. I love men's cologne. I like to wear it, I like to smell it on others. It's amazing how a great smelling guy passing me in the parking lot can perk up my morning. [gay men usually smell best in my world, oh and my best friend]

I had several yummy cologne experiences this week, not sure why all the great smelling fragrances were around but it was lovely. And I managed to not ask one single stranger 'what is that fabulous scent?' Which is good because I always worry how a stranger would take it. It seems to me like such a personal remark to make about someone even if it's a compliment. Not sure why that is....

Anyway over the past few days I was thinking about men's cologne and 'remembering' how I first noticed it as a college freshman. There was a French Canadian guy who just smelled so wonderful, I wanted to follow him around sniffing rapturously. I can't remember what it was called, began with a P....again BF will probably know.

Then today I remembered it was father's day, I was thinking about Dad and I realized that I liked men's cologne way before college. I used to pick stuff out for my boyfriend in high school and before that I liked how my Dad smelled. I think it was Yardley or something...

That made me wonder if perhaps I learned to like men's cologne because I just liked my Dad so much when I was little [still do] My Dad loves kids and was also working from home until I was 8 so I saw a lot of him during my formative years. I hung out with him in his shop for hours. I feel so lucky that I got to spend that time with him.

Sigh, he will be 85 next month and I only get to see him a couple of times a year now. I miss him and feel so grateful that he is still around, that I can pick up the phone and talk to him. And I love smelling wonderful scents and thinking he started me on this enjoyable road.

some shoe success

So now a break from all this navel gazing intensity.

Don't speak too loudly, you may scare off the luck I am having with shoe shopping this late spring. As I reported awhile ago my shoes last summer sucked. As the weather heated up I knew I had to face the shopping and at least try to find some summer shoes/sandals.

Well it didn't go horribly wrong. I found some fun slip on heels. Wedges, not skinny, cork heels and brown cloth uppers. They are comfortable and fun for wearing at work or out. They are Italian and are so lightweight it is remarkable.

I also got some tan leather sling back flat sandals. These are fairly comfortable, though not as comfortable as they look, which is odd. The heels are actually more comfortable.

Then I found another pair of my preferred tennis shoes on sale, so I can alternate all summer with the running and other exercising and my shoes really have a chance to air out.

In another fit of shoe stubbornness I tried once again to wear my keens, and they just do not work for me. Again my 'heels' are more comfortable which bums me out I need some slip on sporty shoes, that I can wear while camping and tromping around with cush. Wish me luck, I so need it.

I also need to remember the definition of insanity. Attempting over and over to wear those keens is insane, I need to just admit it, recycle them and move on. [but I so want them to work, I need them] How do you break up with your shoes?

Feel free to make any recommendations.

the sovereignty and change challenge

One of my favorite authors wrote another post about sovereignty. I love mulling over her thoughts on this topic. I have been thinking about sovereignty all year [though not really writing about it]

Today I was feeling sad about all the change in my life. And how I don't like them. I'm not even really analyzing the changes, I am just feeling tons of aversion and feeling/thinking 'ack I do not like'. Then after the mulling I realized something.
this Change make me feel less sovereign.

The illusion of control that I always think I don't believe in is still dear to me on some levels. and when tons of change that I don't like swirl all around me, affecting me, I feel less in control of me, my life, my person. I start feeling invaded. Which then just increases the aversion to the change. This change I can't control, I never did. But somehow I was still fooling myself thinking that I did.

For instance, I can accept that there are tons of stuff related to the gulf oil spill I have no control over, it affects me in a way, it grieves me. However it does not personally rock my sense of personal safety. Perhaps because I don't have a lot of expectations? Oh and I live on the other side of the country. When I look out of my window I do not see the gulf or shore.

I can use the above as a mirror of what is happening to me with these hated changes. Most of the changes I am dealing with have been made by the very large company where I work. I have no control over them and I never did. These changes are right in my back yard though, every time I look in a certain direction I see them. I feel like they are something I need to avoid, resist, fight in order to maintain any peace for me [and any piece of me]

I would love if I could somehow know clearly that while these changes may grieve me, they may certainly affect me, that they don't impinge on the real me, my safety, my sovereignty. I would love to feel that in my gut and my neck.

This is yours big company, this is not me. This over here...still me.

the end of the week

So glad this week is ending because it has not been all that fun.
My bike was stolen Thursday between 5 -6:30 pm. I reacted in the typical way; feeling confused and wondering if I perhaps just misplaced it somewhere. There was feeling of unreality all around. I felt just more confusion then sad then vulnerable, violated, bummed and just plain old weird.

That was the first bike I ever picked out and bought. It was partly a gift from my 2 closest friends, I am going to miss that bike. hmmmm

Then Friday morning I woke up with a migraine. Which still seems totally weird to me. I was fine when I went to bed but somehow while I was sleeping I got sick. It basically wrung me out all Friday and Saturday, which coincided with my wife getting some nasty virus with a temp of 102 and white blood cell count of 2000. This coincided with rain, humidity and more rain, we were quite the dank and unhappy pair who canceled all plans for visiting the lake this weekend.

Now it is Sunday. Things are looking a bit brighter. I tried to run at the Y and semi-succeeded, although the humidity and fumes from the redone floor made me less effective. My wife no longer has a fever, it is still rainy and humid and three people have offered to loan me bikes. So slowly the clouds are lifting at least metaphorically and our health induced breaks seem to be winding down.

I know there are people out there who had wonderful bright and sunshiny weekends. I love to think of that and live vicariously. Here's to a happy next week for all.

kindness under stress and shoulds

I feel like I want to title this post 'how to be kind'. I could probably use a refresher.

I have noticed that when I am under high stress I start feeling mean, mostly internal and directed towards myself. What amazes me is how it just sneaks up on me. After all these years you would think flashing red lights and maybe sirens would go off warning me that I am approaching dangerous stress levels. But instead my poor body/mind/heart keeps on trying to adjust to those new stress levels and I feel either slightly crappy [or sick or tired or, or, or]

When feeling irritation or aversion with strangers or sometimes loved ones for no real reason I do try to remind myself that we are all human. I try to grope for some kind of connection or even try to drum up a feeling of compassion. I also try to not stuff my feelings, if I am irritated I do try to name and accept that emotion. [internally, not spraying it out on everyone within range] and I sigh a lot.

I have also learned that unless I can be kind to myself I usually don't have much of a chance of being kind to those I find 'difficult'. This of course in no news for those practicing metta, [or probably anyone] you always start with yourself when it comes to loving kindness meditation.

However what do you do when you are so stressed that everything, even things you like, seem like 'shoulds'? When you feel like you are just so overwhelmed by events that you can't just 'be' anymore? How to be kind to yourself when you feel like your heart wouldn't recognize kindness if it slept with you?

Right now I'm at the point where I ask myself 'what sounds like fun or easy?' and I am just accepting that the answer may be long time in coming. It just is.

So there are my babblings on kindness, shoulds and stress for the day. Not sure why I wanted to write about them but I did. It may help a bit to bring my awareness to the process and not stay in the middle of it.

Times like these make me wish for the ocean, I need more space.

running report week 4

We all hear that time is relative and my running certainly proves that. Here I am with 'week' 4 finished and I have been running for 2 months. Most of my weeks last 8 days minimum

My own pace is enough though.

Week 4 was a nice gentle increase of over my week 3a. I was doing the full 3 minute and 5 minute intervals, my running distance increased over the week from 1 mile to 1 and 1/8.

I ran outside here in the city for only the second time. I was only on the sidewalk for a couple of blocks. Concrete is really nasty on the hips. But the sky and flowers were all lovely. For the first time the podcast had a musical choice that I found odd, but is certainly distracted me from the effort of running while I tried to figure out if the song was suppose to sound like that.

I have really missed my heart rate monitor which snapped and broke in a spin class almost 2 weeks ago. I am still waiting to hear if it will be replaced by the maker, it's less than a year old and was not cheap.

Week 5, has 3 different types of running going on, supposedly culminating in one 20 minute run, no walking, at the end of the week. I understand the purpose of this but I think it's going to take more than 2 running sessions for me to build up to 20 minutes. So I will be doing weeks 5a and 5b then trying 20 minute run sometime around the summer solstice before moving on to 'week' 6. I am feeling fine but still waiting for that increase of energy that regular exercise is suppose to bring. I hope it's coming.

dinner at Piccolo

First I loved Piccolo and I will go back. We finally checked it out. I have been mourning Heidi's since February when a kitchen fire destroyed it and I can't say how delighted I am to find a restaurant that also gives me fantastic food.

Piccolo has charm in a quantity I don't think I ever experienced in a restaurant and has many strengths.

Fabulous tasting food. We had 4 courses each and most made our mouths weep with joy. The soft boiled duck egg, the halibut, the roast chicken, the suckling pig, and panna cotta were all out of this world. [although the sausage with the pork was an off note for me] The white bean, the chocolate tart and the tripe ragout were very good.

The staff were friendly and knowledgeable. My malbec wine was perfect. Our server was a doll who topped my wine glass for my poultry course when it was obvious I could not drink another full glass before dessert. The wine is reasonably priced and is now being served in stemware. Apparently they were using tumblers, which is common in Italy and wouldn't have bothered me but it really bothered others. The french press coffee for dessert was fine.

The front room was full, happy and rather loud. We were eating late [9 pm] for around here and we were offered the option of a window table in the front room or the back room. The back room, which you reach walking through the kitchen, was peaceful and friendly with only one other couple finishing their meal.

It's true that Piccolo is a tasting menu format. The portions are small and it's unlikely that you could spend less than $40 per person. [that would not include tax and tip] That makes it a special occasion restaurant for most, including me. But I have no problem with that. I was full, not stuffed after my 3 courses. Since I can't really eat sugar dessert is unlikely for me.

When you eat here this is the point of your evening. You would not be there to grab a bite before a show. Trying to eat here in a hurry would not work. But if you want to try new foods, new combinations, eat seasonal and feel a bit spoiled than this would be a place for you.

Make reservations, it's a tiny space and enjoy!

writing and other updates

So close to that first draft being done I can almost taste it. Over 80,000 words and in the story time line I have less than 24 hours to go. Of course out here in none book time, you know reality, my writing partner is on vacation and I have to wonder if I will get any writing done before she returns.

As it is I haven't written in a week. Kind of amazing to me how I put it down and other stuff rushes in but then when I am thinking of the story the words start flowing [usually]. I am looking forward to revising, perhaps if I get some time marked off on my calendar I will get some done... or go to the coffee shop where we usually work, that may help.

Amanda Palmer [Evelyn Evelyn] was a great show if you are out East and have a chance to go, do so! Just try to not have a headache that night, that was the only downside for me, the headache that started at 2pm that afternoon.

Garden still only partially planted, roses are looking incredible though. Hopefully running tomorrow.