Thursday, March 29, 2012

273. Meditations

Yoga was tonight.
Once a week is never enough to see any real improvement, but I can tell I'm getting stronger. My arms are always shaking, but I think my balance is improving, and it's nice to get some deep stretching in considering how much time I spend sitting at a computer. It seems to compliment my running (and vice versa) too.

Besides all of the back poppy-stretchy goodness, I think the thing I look forward to most is the meditation portions of the evening. The most vivid images pop into my head, like I'm dreaming when I'm awake. I don't ever try to think of anything, I just focus on my breath, and they sort of crop up out of no where. I highly recommend it.

The past few weeks have included nerdy things like:
  • Sun shining through tree branches in late afternoon. All I can hear is the sound of the wind rustling the leaves.  
  • Walking around inside of a snow globe. It hasn't been shaken recently, so the snow is lying all over the ground. In the center is The North Pole (red and white striped) next to a small igloo. The sky begins as midnight blue around the sides, darkening to pitch black above. There are tiny shimmering stars filling the sky, but they seem to be on the inside of the globe. The walls are made of thick, flawless glass, and when I walk up to them, I can see my reflection. I'm dressed in pink leg warmers, and my hair is in short and low-set pig tails. 
  • Lying on a smooth flat rock next to a running stream. The water is crystal clear, and cold, and full of orange, bubbly goldfish. The stream is surrounded in trees, but just past them is an open field of emerald green grass. This was in a dream I had once, years ago, so it was strange that it popped up again. I really like that place though, so it's nice that it did.
  • I am a Chinese dragon made entirely of brightly colored paper. Like the kind you see at Chinese New Year celebrations, only I don't have human legs sticking out the bottom. I move the same way though, and stomp my feet a lot in time to the music. Whenever I stop, I shake my head from side to side with a crazy grin on my face, and my paper mane makes a loud rustling sound.
  • Sitting crossed legged on a rounded bluff overlooking a deep canyon. It reminds me of the Sierra Mountains. Huge vultures are flying overhead, and the wind is blowing my hair. The vultures circle me, flapping their wings so that they almost brush my face. I like watching them.
  • There is an old crooked tree with lots of low branches for climbing in the middle of a field. Other trees are close by, but this one has the most personality. I am doing a routine on the branches like a gymnast would on the uneven bars. When I get tired of that, I climb to the top, where I find a wooden platform to stand on, and a flag sticking out the top of the tree. The tree becomes a ship and sails into the air with me at the helm. I make a tent over the wooden platform out of a sheet and plan to sleep there once it's dark.
Dorky. Told you.
But it's becoming a great source for imagination, which is something I've been struggling with lately. My schedule is so full of school, and work is so mind-numbingly taupe...there's no time for me to just play around in my head anymore. Even my dreams have become disturbingly realistic, if I can even remember them at all.
If you've ever read my dream journal, Lucid Somniloquy, you'll know that's not normal for me. My dreams are normally really surreal, and strange, like a playground for my subconscious. But lately, they're all so realistic that sometimes I think they actually happened. The other morning I woke up and asked Johnny if he had chipped the corner of his iPhone case, because in my dream, he had. LAME. Which, I think is probably why I stopped writing them down.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

272. The Bees Knees

As promised, the Wasted Years 2012 invites designed by The Wizard and myself. I was responsible for photography and karate chop action, The Wizard plays all of the other hands, "Security Guard", and was responsible for the Photoshop work. Concept (GoldenEye, circa N64) was about 50/50, though the initial idea goes to The Wizard.

He's not just stunningly attractive, he's quite creative, too.

But we thought it was kind of perfect, since that's pretty much what everyone was doing with their free time back then. We were always holed up in someone-or-other's room, playing GoldenEye, and having heated debates over someone's cheap character selection of Oddjob.

Front side:

Right about now, you might be thinking to yourself, "Sheesh, the resolution on that image is awful!" That was an intentional effort to make it look more like screenshots from the game. The lions are a nod to both the university mascot, the atrocious film "Kids", and Mr. Joseph Brown.

We spent an afternoon in January roaming around campus during J-term, I guess. Almost no one was around, and the people who were looked like they were 20 and could care less who we were or what we were doing. I was really expecting to get kicked off campus by security, but we never saw anyone.

Here's one of the originals, larrger. Although, I think it lost a little definition in the upload to Blogger.
My favorite roof in the world...

It felt pretty good to climb around up there again. It was also pretty hysterical just how many empty bottles of Boones we found lying around. Some things never change.

And since I'm in the fulfilling promises I made sort of mood, let's talk BEES!
See my post from Saturday, if you have no idea what I'm talking about. But for those who do, I researched bees and crazy bee behavior. As it turns out, those were Carpenter Bees. They're a lot like Bumblebees, except they were definitely bigger, and they wear their fuzz more like a jacket than a full body suit.

I found a lot of different species of Carpenter Bee, but the ones I saw looked exactly like the Eastern Carpenter Bee. Cute little guy, don't you think? They're so round!

The male Carpenter Bee doesn't have a stinger. He's totally harmless, and very curious. The females do have stingers, but they really won't use them unless you try to grab them or provoke them somehow.

I didn't realize this, but not all bees live in tightly knit social structures like hives. Carpenter Bees are considered to be a solitary bee, which means that they usually live alone, burrowing a nest in things like dead wood. Being solitary doesn't mean they don't want company, though. They're social little things, and often build nests near one another so they can drop in on a neighbor every now and again. I actually really like that aspect, it sounds like the beginnings of a children's story. The sort that's drawn in pen and then painted over in watercolors, where the bees wear smart vests with hats, and occasionally spectacles.

From what I was able to determine, I believe the bee who was busy collecting pollen was a female. It seems that they're pretty responsible for foraging, while males generally only collect enough pollen for themselves to eat. The hover-helicopter bee was probably a male. It's spring, so it's possible he was in love with The Pollenista, but from what I could see, he was behaving like a perfect gentleman.

It's apparently common for them to hover around their territory to guard their flowers and keep an eye out for available lady-bees. Occasionally, they'll try to mate with other varieties of insects and small birds. HA! Also, they're so curious that if you throw a small pebble past them, they'll often fly after it to try and investigate. Adorable.

Monday, March 26, 2012

271. Decidedly NOT Baking

You know those times when you're really kind of exhausted and bored, you're home alone, and you really just want a cookie or something? Yeah...Me too.
Buuut since I am home alone, and there is no one to help me eat all of the cookies, I decided to skip the baking this evening and just admire all of the photos in my Williams Sonoma Baking book.

Today is boring.
Yesterday was sparkly. 
There were pancakes, bike riding and vintage dress shopping, lunch at The Hartford (coffee shop). Roaming potential neighborhoods looking for apartments. Making some crazy soup while dancing to stuff like Tu Vuo Fa l'Americano. Ended the night watching A Single Man for one of my classes. Great movie, Colin Firth can really do no wrong.

Apartment hunting has been fruitless, but I don't really care. The more we look around, the more I love our flat and want to stay. We've decided to be picky, and only move if we find a place we love more. It has almost all the amenities we want, minus a better neighborhood. On the bright side, if we did end up staying, I could finally buy furniture. I'm 30 years old, and I have never owned a real bed in my adult life. It's always just been mattresses on the floor, because those metal squeaky frames scare me.

Monday always comes to soon. The Wizard's spring break is over, and he's back on the road. I can't wait for Friday, and a relaxing weekend before the MADNESS that is about to convene on our house the weekend after. Only 2 more weeks until the Lindenkids Reunion...
And on that note, I will promise to post the invitation images tomorrow. It'll have been about a week and a half since I mailed them, so people should be receiving them by now.

Til then, it's back to my History homework.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

270. March 24th

Saturday, Saturday...

If I spend all week looking forward to weekends, it's largely because I love having a long and relaxing breakfast with The Wizard. This morning we made fried egg sandwiches on English muffins, topped with spinach, cream cheese, cucumber and tomato. Side of banana, lots of coffee. A long critique-style discussion about the status of my painting accompanied the meal. I'm stuck, because it isn't done, but I'm really at a loss regarding where to go next.

Finished my response to The Laramie Project for class while Johnny worked on his Plaqueman sculpture. The head finally emerged from the mold last night. It's quite strange, yet fascinating to look at. He spent most of the day sanding and polishing it.

Packaged up my old laptop, which I plan to mail to Fingers crossed they aren't a terrible scammy operation, but I suspect they are. They quoted me $125, but didn't ask any real questions about the state it's in. Which is virtually non-functional. The disk drive is broken, the battery doesn't hold a charge anymore, and the ex-Mister did some crazy partition thing to the C:drive that has rendered it a cripple in need of formatting. I should be able to unpartition it, but for some reason, it won't allow me to, and I can't format it either. It's hosed, and I'm trying this selling nonsense because if I didn't, I'd be donating it to someplace or other anyway.

Walked Franklin to Carondelet Park, where we studied some very strange bee behavior. There were two very large, militant looking bumble bees traveling through the wildflowers together. Bee #1's job was to collect pollen from all of the flowers like any bee typically would. Bee #2 was the strange one. Rather than collect pollen, it followed Bee #1 everywhere it went, and hovered no more than 6 inches away from it. It never landed, it just hung there like a helicopter, watching Bee #1 do all of the work. I've never seen or heard of anything like it. Whenever I would get too close, Bee #2 would sort of loop around as if warning me to keep my distance, and then go right back to monitoring Bee #1. I don't know if Bee #2 was some sort of body guard, or supervisor, or...I have no idea! Research needs to happen because I'm dying to figure it out.

Visited my parents', because my dad's birthday is tomorrow. He had a sinus headache and wasn't up for company, so I went to the store with my mom and then helped peel potatoes for a potato salad.

Currently, I'm awaiting the return of The Wizard, and the arrival of the lovely Ms. Gorsky. She's crashing at our house tonight and tomorrow while in town for not so happy business. I'm excited to see her, but it's also 11pm, and I'm trying not to fall asleep.

Friday, March 23, 2012

269. Oh, Friday

Well, hello.

Alright. Slacker doesn't really begin to give me much excuse for my lack of posts. I just stopped, and when you stop doing things, you lose momentum.

Right. Who cares. You don't come here to read excuses, you come to read the news.
The news is this, kids:
  • I have a second interview on Wednesday. Apparently I'm going into tech support. The pay is intensely better, but I'm terrified I'm taking on too much.
  • I have not run this week. Not since Monday. Pissed...but also fearing shin splinties. Fairly certain my left is jacked, and has been made worse by heels. Trying to take it easy, but I don't want to back down.
  • Painted tonight. Actually, threw a tantrum over a wannabe painting and was consoled much by the Wizard. Inevitably, he was right, and I am my own worst enemy. I finally gave in to myself and did something. It is not good, but it is immensely better than my last (and first) attempt. 
  • We've been looking for a new apartment, and the search has only resulted in my loving our current apartment more. 
  • Watching The Rum Diary currently, and loving every minute detail.
  • Kind of thinking I've given in to my impractical side, regarding majors. The closer I push myself to a pragmatic career, the more I feel myself rebelling. I want to major in art and creative writing, and fuck the rest. Fuck it right to bits.
That's where I have to stop for now. The movie is still on.

Monday, March 19, 2012

268. Slacker!

This weekend was a little rough. I kept looking at the computer, and wanting to post, and then shaking my head and walking away. I think I was focusing on a lot of crunchy negativity and I knew it was going to come out if I started writing. That's not the best excuse, but I didn't feel like subjecting anyone to it, and that's really all I can say. 

There were lots of good highlights. Dinner and drinks with the Gambinos on Saint Patrick's Day. I think the green theme was definitely looming in the back of my mind, because I picked the spanakopita for dinner, and followed it with an incredible mint chocolate stout from Perennial Artisan Ales
Mint? In beer? 
I would never have considered it, and yet! When I saw that it existed, I had to have it. And I can testify that this beer exceeded all of my imaginings on the first sip. It was like DRINKING JUNIOR MINTS. If it weren't so filling, someone would have found me giggling and swimming in a pool of the stuff  around noon the following day. And I would not be able to tell you where I left my pants. I'm sorry, but that beer will blow your pants to the moon, Alice.
The sad thing is, I think it's something they concocted specifically with Hibernian consumption in mind, because it's not one of their regulars. According to the chalkboard scrawl, it looks like they release a new beer every Thursday, and I suspect that means the previous beer of the week is simultaneously retired. 
On the bright side, Perennial is solid. They make beer fit for Greek gods. And their Roman counterparts, too. 

The previous statement was influenced, in part, by our viewing of I, Claudius last night. Like...old, 1976, BBC Masterpiece Theater, I, Claudius. We got through the first two episodes, but fell asleep on the third. It will be re-watched.
This is one of several historical/historical fiction series loaned to us by my dad, after we told him how much we loved the HBO John Adams miniseries. Which, by the way, if you haven't watched, DO IT. I kind of want to watch it again, it's that good.
But back to I, Claudius
It's dated, but it's pretty entertaining. It sort of reminds me of all the evenings I used to sit around the Okano residence watching the Arts Network with Ayako, crossed with those really dry and poorly filmed Greek tragedies we used to have to watch in junior high Drama class (see also, Medea). So it's dry and dated, but totally worth it. It's full of these subtle zingers, most of which are delivered by Siân Phillips, as Livia. She's like Anjelica Huston, if Anjelica were pretty or scary, we can't decide. I don't care. She's the Roman Cruella DeVille, only her Dalmatians are the blood-relative stepping stones standing between her son, Tiberius, and the crown. 
Murder. Intrigue. Grown men dressed like dumplings.

That brings us to today. This was a much-needed day off, and I tried to make the most of it. We had breakfast on the patio of our favorite coffee shop, Mud House. I sold some clothes to the Avalon Exchange on Delmar. Took Franco jogging, and ALMOST hit 3 miles. I did not stop, I did not get blisters. After a good stretch, we took off from the car, and made it almost back to the car again. I believe that we covered 2 3/4 miles. I'm feeling really accomplished. At the same time, I have a nagging concern that shin splints are right around the corner. I've been really careful about my form, but I've been feeling the occasional twinge that makes me think I'm on the verge. I really hope not, but I need to research preventative measures in greater detail.

I came home from the park drenched in sweat and ready for a shower. 
Tried to turn on the shower.
My water was turned off.
As I type this, 8 hours later, my water is still off.
I realized at some point during the evening that I know why. As we left this afternoon for the park, I noticed a car rammed into a fire hydrant at the end of my street. Water was spraying everywhere. I called the city water department, and they said they're still waiting for a repair crew to arrive. They have no idea when the crew should show up, and no estimate how long repairs are going to take. 
I have a job interview tomorrow, I ran this afternoon, and I cannot shower. 
This is bad.
We hit the store and purchased several gallons of water, which I intend to use to wash myself in my sink tomorrow morning if the water isn't on by then. I'm really thankful today that this isn't normal. Can you imagine having to carry water from a well or a river back to your village every day? Maybe several times a day? 
Me either.

Friday, March 16, 2012

267. Luck o' the Irish

2.5 miles.
No blisters.

I'm beginning to wonder if my blisters from a few weeks ago were sort of like Kim Deal returning to play bass for the Pixies reunion tour after the group had been on hiatus for something like 10 years.

Frank got a bath after our run, and spent the next half hour galloping from one end of the apartment to the other in post-traumatic glee.

The Wizard returned, and we went out for sushi.

By the way, I have a job interview Tuesday! It's a call center in another branch of the company I already work for. Which...I'm not thrilled about, because I was really relieved to finally escape call center life. Except that I've heard it pays substantially more than my current job, and it's a tier 1 help desk position. I don't know that I want to end up in IT, but it looks pretty great on a resume. PLUS! I won't have to talk to real customers, I'll only have to talk to DOCTORS! (That's actually not necessarily a good thing, because doctors can be some of the most cranky, no-patience having people ever.) But I have hope that this job will keep my inquisitive brain well-fed with delicious information, and not make me want to hang myself. The schedule is also less conducive to my classes, but I think it should be ok.

And I got a raise today. 3%...annual review time. I'm kind of a big deal........HA!!!!

Altogether, a pretty lucky day!
Oh, last thing. Those cookies I made? Yeah...totally making them again. They just needed to spend a night in the fridge for the frosted center to firm up. During that time, the lime zest really had a chance to permeate the cookie center. They're fabulous, and cakey, and zesty. So good.
Be sure you cruise by Joshy's blog for his DELICIOUS LOOKING bread pudding results from our bake off!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

266. Misadventures in Baking

Project: Lemon-Lime Polenta Sandwich Cookies
Recipe, courtesy of Sauce Magazine

The recipe for these cookies appeared in the first issue of Sauce Magazine that I ever encountered, the first month after I moved back to Saint Louis. They've literally been waiting around in the back of my mind for a year and a half, and I felt it was finally time.

1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup polenta
Pinch of salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
½ cup white sugar
2 Tbsp. lemon zest
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. honey
1 large egg
½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
½ cup marscarpone cheese
1 Tbsp. lime zest
1 Tbsp. powdered sugar

Preliminary ingredient line-up...
This is usually my favorite stage of baking. It's too early to have made any real mistakes. The recipe still holds such promise. No one is crying, nothing is burnt, and the fire department remains blissfully unaware of your existence.

Lemon zesting! This is the first organic lemon I have ever purchased. The skin was crisp and juicy, and it smelled just like the lemons from all your fantasies about lemons.

• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
• Whisk together the flour, polenta and salt until completely combined; set aside.
• Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, honey, egg and vanilla, and mix until combined.
• Slowly add in the dry ingredients and mix until well incorporated. The dough will be wet and sticky.
• Transfer the batter to a cookie press or a pastry bag with a large star tip. Pipe 2- to 3-inch S-shapes onto parchment-lined cookie sheets, spaced at least ½ inch apart.
• Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, and cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes.
• In a metal bowl, whisk the marscarpone cheese, lime zest and powdered sugar until blended.
• Spread the filling over 12 of the cookies and top with the remaining 12 cookies.

* To make orange-polenta sandwich cookies with chocolate marscarpone filling, substitute orange zest and orange juice for the lemon in the cookies, and substitute 1 Tbsp. cocoa powder plus 1 Tbsp. half and half for the lime zest in the filling.

Hello honey bear. Why do you look so horrified?

That's why...
As I stood in the baking aisle at Target (yes, Target again), I thought to myself...that thing won't work. It's too complicated. No one uses those. But the idiot voice inside me said,
"Wull, why'd they make it then, huh?"

And do you know who won that argument?
That's right.
The idiot.

Perhaps the idiot here is logic. This is a reusable, dishwasher safe gun, with an assortment of tips, which costs the same as a pastry bag set containing 4 "reusable" plastic bags, which you can wash "multiple times". It cost $1 less than that, actually. One would reason to believe that this item will serve the purpose it proclaims, be easy to clean up, and cater to my eco-friendly conscience.

All of these things might have been true, had I the arm strength of a gorilla on PCP.
I do not.
I never thought home baking could be considered manual labor. At least, not since the latter half of the 20th century...

My only hope is that gently used items will be acceptable for return, based on the credentials provided to me by my receipt.

The final product, thanks to the gun, is nothing like the picture from the original recipe. I'm ok with this, however, as I hadn't intended to serve them to the ladies at my bridge club, or anyone else.

My batch yielded 8 completed sandwiches. They have a slight buttered cornbread flavor, thanks to the polenta, but with a nice hint of lemon as well.  I think the filling could stand to have a lot more zing, and a lot less sugar...In fact, I'm kind of on the fence about the whole marscapone situation in general, and would probably experiment with alternates. I do recommend refrigerating them after putting them together to let the frosting middles solidify, oreo-style. If you don't, the frosting squishes out the sides and gets all over your best shirt.

Would I make these cookies again? Possibly, but only with the appropriate equipment, and maybe more lemon zest.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

265. Exhaustivo y Productamundo (Fake Spanish is Fun)

Eee, so tired.

I still can't tell if I actually have a cold, or if it's a really strange allergic reaction to the sudden change in weather. Tossed and turned all night, and still had a swollen throat this morning.

By afternoon, it was much better. I had my meeting with the intimidating HR lady, who seemed quite flattered that I would want to pick her brain. She didn't have any earth-shattering suggestions, but she pointed me in the right direction. Maybe the lesson here is treat your HR department like the school guidance counselor?

Went running, but only made it 2 miles. I feel pretty good about that considering how sick I felt this morning. I really had to egg myself on the entire way, too.
I have decided the toe socks are not the best. They protect the little outer toes, but the sides of my big toes still rubbed against my shoes. That might be because I bought the lightweight version, but I can't imagine wearing the heavier ones.

My spring break thus far has contained way more homework than I would like...Tonight I finished reading The Laramie Project, and followed it almost immediately with watching the movie.
(There was a happy bubble bath and Billie Holiday in between.)
I really didn't think I was up for the movie after just finishing the play. That's a lot of heavy for one night, and the play is heavy-heavy. In the end, I was glad I watched it, though. I hadn't realized every one in the universe is in it. And because the list of characters is SO long, I had a hard time keeping track of who was talking while I was reading. Per usual, that was resolved by putting a face to the dialogue.
Also, the film stays very true to the play. There are some lines that are shortened, and the moments are frequently rearranged to create a better flow for film, but nothing was lost. I think I even noticed some extra interviews added for the film version.

I'm really looking forward to a baking post tomorrow. I think I've been too "here's how my day went" lately. I apologize if it's been pretty dull. I still haven't decided what to make...
I'm leaning toward the lemon-lime polenta sandwich cookies because they sound so different. Also, pretty sure I would be able to freeze them, since I have no one to help me eat them until probably Friday.
Because why waste good cookies on mediocre co-workers?

I'd really like to make this Thai-inspired tapioca pudding recipe I found, but it looks a little too involved for a weeknight. Perhaps that will be another post soon.

Monday, March 12, 2012

264. Stuffiness on a Sunny Day

Work just didn't work out today.
I woke up feeling horrid. Slept poorly, tossed and turned all night due to stuffiness, so that by morning, my throat was swollen and sore. My decision to call in sick came about 1/3 of the way to work. I just couldn't make myself go, so I turned around, came home, and went back to bed. I slept until 1:30, and though the sore throat persisted, I felt quite a bit better.

Frank and I spent the afternoon wandering the park. This was the first really warm day of the year; I think it reached 83 for the high. We stopped for an iced coffee and spent the next two hours slowly circling the park, playing with my iPhone camera, and barking at things. The barking was Frank's contribution.

Super tasty, healthy dinner - Cannellini beans and kale, topped with sriracha and rolled up in a tortilla. Have I mentioned my obsession with sriracha/chili paste? How I adore this condiment. I put it on almost everything these days. That might mean I'm in a rut, but it's SO. GOOD.

I attempted to go shopping this evening. I thought, "Hey, maybe I should start looking a little more professional, and get some new clothes for work." Lesson of the day: Target is not the place to accomplish this. Neither is JC Penney. I found myself trying not to vomit over the fact that every top/blouse/thing is in a sickening office camo print. You know the kind...the abstract florals, snake skins, and vibrant-but-confused geometrics? They always seem to come in the most flammable materials, fit strangely, and look like they pair perfectly with all of that fake costume jewelry in the next department.

Perhaps I'll have better luck at The Gap, or Express. I don't know. I'm just really over discount fashion. I don't want to pay $150 at Macy's either, because all you're doing is paying for a brand name. I just want quality, well-designed clothing. I am sick of seeing the same 5 styles of blouse recycled over and over again with this year's assortment of Magic Eye patterns.
I tried some of them on, for a lark. I can tell you that I looked and felt ridiculous.

Moving on, I've been trying to decide what I plan to bake this week. I'm considering Lemon-Lime Polenta Sandwich Cookies, because I have this fantastic looking recipe I've been wanting to try for a while now. Only I'm afraid sandwich cookies might be aiming sort of low. I suppose I could go for a pie, or maybe try a souffle'...clearly more research is necessary.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

263. Spring. Break. Is. HERE.

Tests are done. Papers turned in. Suddenly, I am faced with an influx of free time, and I'm not sure what to do with myself. I should have planned this, maybe.

It's been a chilly and rainy day, so I didn't go running. I'm a pansy. Hopefully tomorrow?

The Wizard and I spent most of the day cooking together. For breakfast, we attempted crepes filled with a mixed berry compote, and fish tacos for dinner.

Crepes sounded deliciously simple, but execution proved itself pretty tricky. Rather than two perfect, thin crepes, I think I over-buttered the pan, and we ended up with one double-thick version. We just opted to cut it in half, and it still tasted fantastic. I think that the next attempt will be a savory version, and we'll try non-stick spray with butter at the end for flavor.

The fish tacos went a bit more smoothly. I made cole slaw from scratch, which we paired with crunchy little catfish nuggets which had been beer-battered and then rolled in panko bread crumbs before we shallow fried them. Garnished with diced tomatoes, a little sriracha, and fresh cilantro, all bundled together in a sun-dried tomato tortilla. EAT IT! IT'S GREAT.

These are the faces of creatures who hope some of that tastiness will land on the floor.

Since then, I've been toying with an idea for a painting. My process has gone pretty much like this:

Me: "I have no idea what I'm doing."
Wizard: "That's ok, just try things, and see what happens."
Me: "I do, and they always come out embarrassing."
Wizard: "You just need practice."
Me: "I feel like I'm just wasting materials. Paint is expensive, canvas is expensive..."
Wizard: "It's no big deal, just play with it."
Me: "You don't understand. I suck. This is horrible. I have no idea what I'm DOING. You say just do this, and I can't DO that."
Wizard: "Ok, what if you just try doing some blind contours of things? Just sketch in charcoal first, and if you like it, you can paint over it."

And that's what I'm doing. I've got a background done. Then we decided that maybe the orchid we bought last week might be fun to sketch, so I'm practicing in pencil while I wait for the paint to dry. I'm going to wait until tomorrow before I venture to sketch on canvas, but I feel a little better about this than I did my previous...vague...composition I was attempting to come up while I was mid-application of paint.

I'm needy. I'm going to say that right now.
All of my problems come back to the fact that I am afraid of making a wrong move, so I stand here paralyzed, not making any move at all.
Fuck if I know. It's infuriating to me, too.
Do you ever just want to shake yourself?
All. The TIME.

Anyway, don't mistake me. I have had a fantastic day, and I'm sort of wallowing in happiness at present. Maybe that's just a side effect of the rain. I don't feel like anything is really lacking, and I am delighted by what I have to be thankful for.

Very much looking forward to my bake-off post with Mr. Rowan. I guess you can't really call it a bake-off, because it's not a competition.
But we gonna bake. And it's gonna be awesome.

It's going to be a good week.

Friday, March 9, 2012

262. Epic Times

Epic ending to the week, I have to say. Firstly, I finally gathered the courage to go and ask the highly intimidating HR lady for a meeting. I am sick of being stuck in my current position, and I have begun applying for jobs outside the company. Only it would be much more logical to stay with the company and keep all of my accrued PTO. So I'm working on that. She looked both surprised and slightly impressed, and we have a meeting Tuesday. I hope that bodes well.

Second! Running. I did that.
Tried out the SmartWool today, plus Vaseline toes. Took an easy going pace, but really pushed myself. Ran the entire time, no walk breaks. I just mapped my run and it was 2.53 miles! Not only that, I am came out of it relatively blister free. YAY! Which is to say, by the end, I began to blister, but it was on the balls of my feet, not my toes. Those are normal, bearable blisters. I don't know that the SmartWool rates ideal, but I cannot complain. And they were really comfortable.

Dinner! The Wizard and I made a pretty fantastical curry vegetable mess. Very very spicy. Best of all, he's home, and I missed him like crazy. Weekend...COMMENCE!

Frank-dog seems to have sore feet too. My running partner has been endlessly licking his paws since we got back. If he isn't licking them, he's lying on the couch with them sort of stuck up in the air, gazing at me like I'm the greatest person alive.
This is what makes dogs so incredible. They're down for every little adventure, and they'll never complain. And when you come home at the end of the day, sore and tired, they'll flop right next to you on the couch, utterly content to be in your company. I adore this pooch.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

261. #Febphotoaday Part IV, the Finale

Indeed, it is midterm week, which is why I haven't posted in 2 days. Tuesday night I did run, but after I got home, I studied my ass off for my math test, which was last night. After getting a 60% on my quiz Monday, the worst grade I have gotten on anything yet, I was terrified. But studying paid off. I haven't seen my test score yet, but I felt confident in every answer. I got an A on the homework I turned in last night, which was the study guide for the test, and my midterm grade posted today - A!

I've still got a monster history midterm to annihilate, or at least survive, tomorrow, and a paper on Ibsen's A Doll's House to poop out this weekend. Tonight is Yoga. T-40 minutes.

So, my run! It was good, but I can't give a review on the socks just yet. The injinjis were up first, because to be honest, I have the most hope for them. I think I ran about a mile and a half to two miles, and had to break it up with a walk break in the middle. This is what happens when you only run once every 10 days...
The good news is, I did not get a single blister. I really thought I could feel them forming, but I got home and there was nothing. The injinjis are super comfortable and fun to wear, but I'm glad I got the lightweights because my feet get pretty hot. It occurred to me this may have something to do with the fact that I run in sweats. I'm thinking maybe lighter pants would keep my temperature down, with the side effect of cooler feet. Maybe.
I think the design is perfect for protecting my little outer toes, but I have a feeling that had I continued to run, my big toes would have blistered. They're rubbing against the inside of me shoes. Time for new kicks? Prolly.
Tomorrow, I hope to try out the SmartWool pair.

Enough about socks. I promised the finale of #febphotoaday, and I intend to deliver.

Day 20: Handwriting
Mine. Toying with a short story. Never went anywhere beyond the exposition.

Day 21: A Fave Photo of You
This is the one and only shot that I did not take *that day* during the entire month challenge. I think this photo is 3 years old now. The horse is Idaho, one of my two all time favorites. He's a thoroughbred, and the most amazing ride, but he senses fear and reacts to it more than any other horse I've ridden. That fact makes me a better rider, because I have to be brave for both of us, and when there's a chance you're going to fall, that's hard to do.
The day this was taken was the first time I have ever jumped a small course, and in it was a 3'6" fence, the highest I had ever jumped up to that point. I am never as happy or as proud of myself as I am after a good ride, and this was a great ride.

Day 22: Where You Work
See also, places I despise.

Day 23: Your Shoes
Current fave pair. Wearing them right now, in fact.
Day 24: Inside Your Bathroom Cabinet
Oddly, this was the photo I was looking forward to the most. It came out exactly how I wanted, and I love the result.

Day 25: Green
Green bean, white bean, and spinach soup! So tasty.
Day 26: Night
I'm amazed that this happened, because I was pretty sure I was going to have nothing. This is the Schulz homestead. We were grilling some fish.

Day 27: Something You Ate
I figured I already included food, so yeah. Candy! I love this treatment. It looked like a silent movie to me.

Day 28: Money
I was reading about the writing of the constitution that night, for history class. Seemed appropriate.

Day 29: Something You're Listening To
Belle & Sebastian, Boy with the Arab Strap, on vinyl.

And that's the end!

Monday, March 5, 2012

260. Monday Part II

It's time to get serious about running again.

Much of my afternoon was spent reading about socks and blister prevention. The key here seems to be minimizing friction, because friction causes blisters. Oh...well, duh.

My running coach friend's suggestion of coating my feet in Vaseline before a run was confirmed as a potential solution. Also, I discovered that dry skin causes blisters just as often as your feet being too moist. Callouses are good and all, but a nightly foot cream was recommended to keep your feet soft and happy.

I left work and drove straight to REI, where I purchased two new pairs of running socks, both of which specifically claim to prevent blistering.

First, SmartWool PhD.
  • Soft merino wool provides excellent temperature control, odor control and moisture management; reinforced with stretch nylon to maintain fit
  • SmartFit system II uses a 4-point banded compression system to deliver a secure fit above and below heels, under arches and across insteps
  • SmartFit system II incorporates a contour flex zone at the front of each ankle to eliminate bunching, slipping and sagging
  • Features padded Achilles tabs to protect the Achilles and help secure the fit
  • High-density impact zones under heels and forefeet (where impact is greatest) protect against shock and abrasion
  • Low-density zones under arches and at Achilles reduces weight without sacrificing fit or support
  • Strategic Mesh Zones offer maximum ventilation in critical areas to vent perspiration and heat
 Next, something a little more unusual.
injinji Runner's Toe Socks.
  • CoolMax® polyester wicks moisture, dries quickly and breathes well, allowing you to enjoy the benefits of cool, dry feet; nylon is added for durability
  • Individual anatomic toe sleeves form a thin anti-blister membrane between toes to eliminate skin-against-skin friction
  • 2-ply construction prevents sock movement while increasing wicking and circulation
  • Precisely stitched heels deter bunching and help provide a comfortable fit and easy layering
  • Double-layered welt top maintains shape for long-lasting performance and support
I'm not certain either of these socks will work out. I bought the lightweight toe socks because I was afraid of too much bulk inside my shoes, but they may turn out to be too thin. Also, I bought a size too small on the SmartWool, but only by about 1/2 a shoe size, so I'm going to try them anyway. REI has a 100% satisfaction guaranteed return policy, thankfully.

There is one other style made by Nike, which I am especially interested in, but these things are expensive. A third pair is going to have to wait until Friday, or until I decide to return one of these.

Finally, I made a stop at Walgreens for some Vaseline, as well as Burt's Bees Coconut Foot Creme after royally bombing my math quiz this evening. Good job.

Tomorrow it is supposed to be 70 degrees.
I have requested to leave work an hour early so I still have plenty of daylight.
x fingers crossed x

259. Monday Part I

This is something I wrote at work today, while indexing files for federal storage. I was enthralled with rhyming for some reason...which isn't usually something I focus on.

Crumbling towers
of sandy mortar
stand silent, watchful
give no quarter
Calm in countenance
as they may be
I'll claim nothing
to their centuries
The wind and rain
the salted air
steadfast they hold
that empty stare
True, in time
all things decay
the end has long
been underway
With dissolution
too, new life begins
hand in hand
as ancient twins

I had tentatively titled it Castor & Pollux, but I suspect that sounds pretentious. It's probably better without any title at all. There were a lot of things I intended to say about it as well, but again, I think it may be better to leave it be. I will say that I have spent a lot of time thinking about originality lately, while simultaneously developing a hyper-sensitivity to being perceived cliche.
I hope that isn't the case.

Often, when I write, it's in reaction to music I'm listening to. I try not to borrow concepts too much, but I do have a habit of writing along with the rhythm of what I'm hearing. Later, when I read over it, I still hear the song I was listening to, and I think it can have the adverse effect of drowning out any potential for the poem to have its own voice.
That sounds idiotic, but I'm not sure how else to say it.

I did not write this to music. Nothing inspired it, and nothing influenced it.
That might be why I feel so nervous about the quality; I have no one else to blame.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

258. Back and Better Forever

Sorry sorry sorry! Internets are fixed and I am back!
Ok, it's true, no one really missed a few posts about nothing. But I missed posting.

So the last couple of days...
Got another B on a history quiz, ordered invitations for the LU reunion, and plans fell through for Alaska. I guess the plans didn't exactly fall through so much as I've backed out, but either way, we aren't going to fly up for my brother's wedding. I want very much to be there, but he's opted to make it a total non-ceremony in which papers would be signed before we ever arrived, and the focus would be on my getting a vacation. As much as I genuinely want and need a vacation, and would kill to see Alaska through the eyes of my brother, I can't justify the trip for vacation purposes alone.

SO! What does this mean? It means we're back to the initial plans of moving into a new apartment (if we can find one) around May 1st, and hopefully running a 5k in Chicago on June 1st.

JOSH ROWAN! I am talking to you!
Do you still want to do the Color Run?! GAME ON.

Um...other stuff...
I owe you a post on the final photos from #febphotoaday, but I think that's going to wait until tomorrow. Today, I'm going to go poem. I challenged the aforesaid Mr. Rowan to write a poem by February 29th, and I am late. Kudos to you, sir, for remembering. Regardless, here's what I came up with:
I was all alone
vinyl lines blurred
from one to the next
Just couldn't help myself
pensive as a bird
still waiting for your text

Blue dawn, black eyes
sleep and I haven't
spoken in days

I'm a vagrant pawn
long days wasting
in a bitter place
You're a cannibal fawn
gun-shy and drifting
in another rat race

Cold sky, red eyes
and I was only lonely
for you, just you

Couldn't be just us, I see
you're long gone
and I'm still here
there's nobody else but me
I can rely on
beyond the bathroom mirror

Last current obsession...
I cannot express how in love with this band I am. They are by far The. Best. Band. I have encountered in some time, and I am both proud and not even slightly surprised to find they're from Seattle. Youtube more of their KEXP session, or the Jason's basement video, or just go to their Bandcamp site and purchase their music, because it's only $2 per 2 song release, even though they will totally let you listen to every track for free as many times as you might want.