my superhero self


It’s been a while since I did a running post, and I would love to find out how everyone is doing. I know a few of you are taking it pretty seriously, and a few are still thinking about it. I’ve been so impressed with the progress you’ve made, especially since you’ve started from the very beginning. Some of you had never run at all until a few months ago. I hope you’re beginning to understand the running addiction. I don’t know how many addictions could be called healthy, but running for sure is.

I’ve been gearing up to do a few races this year. I signed up to run a 10K in Massachusetts, with Elizasmom and her mom, and probably some other bloggers I’ve never met. That will be in the end of March. I get to visit my brother nungnung as well, and it will be my first time in New England. I’m hoping to run it in less than 50 minutes, but we’ll see.

I’m going to run the Indianapolis Mini-Marathon in May. It’s the biggest half marathon in the country, with 35,000 entrants. My cousin Liz and my aunt Barbara will be doing that one with me. I hope I can finish that in less than 2 hours. I finished my first half marathon in 1:47, but the first three miles were pretty steep downhill, so I’m sure I ran faster than I would on a flat course.

I’m also going to enter the Air Force marathon in September. I think my goal for that will be less than 4 hours, but again, we’ll see. I have no idea what it will be like to run 26.2 miles, so I’m pretty sure I’ll be happy if I cross the finish line.

I’m basing my goals on my recent running times, and on the times from races I ran before I was pregnant with Kiki, in 2005. The other day, I ran 3 miles in 26 minutes, which is better than my last 5K, even though I wasn’t racing. It probably made a difference that I was on a track, but it didn’t seem as hard as I thought it would be. Today, I ran 7 1/2 miles in blustery 35 mile an hour winds, and I finished in 1 hour and 13 minutes. I ran some hills, but the wind was really what made it hard. I thought I would get frostbite on my nose, since the wind-chill factor put it at about -5 degrees. I kept putting my mittens over my face until my nose and cheeks thawed. It was exciting. When I got home, I thought I would not be able to move the rest of the day, but now I feel fine.

So how’s your running? I’d love to hear any progress you’ve made, any races you’ve entered, any gear you’ve purchased, anything that makes you motivated, anything that you hate, anything. I’ve discovered that talking about running motivates me, whether the person I’m talking to loves running or hates it. I love running.

I got invited to a bunko group last night by some women that mysteriously think of me as a friend. I’m not saying that I’m a bad friend or anything, it’s just that I’ve only lived in this area for 2 months, and I hardly know anyone, plus, it is always so hard for me to make friends, since I’m so shy. Also, I’m a braggart and a snob, more especially while I’m being shy, so people mostly think I’m a pest.

Yet, a few women from church have really been treating me like I belong here, like there’s nothing strange about being BFFs with someone you hardly know. Mind you, I’m not complaining. You all know that I have maybe a tiny bit of chemical imbalance, with the predisposition for leaning toward the low end of the spectrum. So it always surprises me when people are nice to me.

(Interjection, this was just overheard behind me:
Derek:”What?!? Where’s all our money? We had ten gold! What did you spend it on?”
Calvin:grinning and shrugging,”We had eleven. I don’t know. Wrapping paper.”)

When I got home from the party at 2:45 am ( I know! You should be so shocked! It’s almost like I’m a normal adult), Derek and I were discussing Saturday’s forecast, which was for snow. Everybody had been saying they didn’t want to go to the church Christmas party if the roads were bad. Derek said that on the radio, the weather guy had predicted a 100% chance of snow. We snickered about how stupid it was to say that unless you had snow falling on your head.

This morning, right around the time I was gearing up for my 30 minute run, the roads were dry and the sky was dark. Suddenly it started snowing, and suddenly the whole world was white. I gave up the idea of running, even though I’ve already skipped two days in a row for rain and laziness, respectively. Then, an hour and 2 inches of snow later, I remembered that if I was going to the Christmas party, I had signed up to bring 4 dozen rolls. And bugger it if I didn’t have any milk to use in the Fine Cooking best dinner rolls ever recipe.

I was not about to brave the roads in a motorized vehicle. This isn’t Utah, and people here are even worse than Utahans at driving in snow. And they have less practice. So I suited up in two pairs of running pants, two long sleeved shirts and a T-shirt, a rain jacket, a headband, both hoods pulled over my head, and fleece mittens. I went outside, and after 60 seconds of running, I was so hot, and I couldn’t see a thing because the snow made me squint, so I went right back into the house to take off two of the shirts and add my old racquetball goggles for seeing in the blizzard. I decided that if I was going to run, I’d make up for missing yesterday, so I planned 45 minutes. I would run for 35 and end up at the market, then run the last 10 home with the milk. I didn’t have to take any money because this market lets you pay with a finger scan. I love that.

While I was there, I was subtly reminded that it is Saturday, and the American shopper will not be thwarted by rain, sleet, or snow. There were droves of people there, and all the store samples. And as Emily Pig always says, “Yummers!” It is always important to sample new things. This market has samples of things like, but not limited to: Southwest quinoa salad from the deli, crab dip, cranberry blue cheese, roasted brie, spiral cut real ham, chips and homemade salsa, etc., etc., etc. They also have the best caraway rye bread that I’ve ever had, surpassing even my own. It has kosher salt on the crust.

So I got the milk, grabbed a loaf of salt rye, and walked passed the butter that was on sale, so I got a block. I figured that was enough to try to carry while running. Incidentally, I don’t recommend this shopping method. My poor arms couldn’t take it.

When I got home, I was telling Derek we could have avocado sandwiches with swiss cheese for lunch because I’d picked up the rye. Then, I realized that, with minor quantitative adjustments, I had been to the market for a quart of butter, a loaf of milk, and a stick of bread. A quart of bread, a stick of milk, and a loaf of butter. A quart of milk, a loaf of bread, and a stick of butter.

Sometimes I meditate on the subject of what I would write on my postcard if I sent one to postsecret. Angela has tagged me for this 8 facts meme, and I’m ready. I’m going to try to remember all those “secrets” that I’ve been storing up for a rainy day. And I’m not saying I’m proud of all these. Most of them make me feel like a freak.

1. Every time I use a paper towel, I think about how I’m probably going to Hell. I hate being wasteful, but the convenience of grabbing a paper towel and then not having to wash it is too seductive. But I do save every single plastic bag I ever come in contact with. If I get one at the market, because I was dumb enough to leave the house without my canvas shopping bags or Mexican bolsas, and I have to get one of those crappy bags, I save it and use it as many times as I can. I reuse ziploc bags. I make Derek wash them. I save the bags from the bulk section and use them the next time I go shopping, and I don’t put veggies in any bag at all. Four zucchini? No bag. Dripping wet parsley? No bag. Twelve oranges? That’s what that canvas bag is for.

2. I wear my clothes until they’re visibly dirty. Don’t say ew. Americans have such a neurosis about being clean. Clothes last much longer if you don’t wash them every single time you wear them. So you use less water, put less soap into the water supply, use less energy for the dryer, spend less money on clothes, and have that nice, comfy feeling of not having to get into tight jeans every single time you dress.

3. I have to do everything myself. And then brag about it. I made a pie today from pumpkins that I baked. Next year, I’ll have pumpkins in the garden, so I’ll just run outside to get a pumpkin to make that pie. I made three and a half meals out of one tiny roasted chicken, including a great soup from the broth I made with the carcass. I made my kids their Halloween costumes. I’m knitting myself a scarf. I make our bread whenever I can. I’m planning on making all the Christmas presents this year.

4. I’m always deeply ashamed when I give people store-bought presents. Unless they’re from DI. Then they’re recycled, so it’s OK. I never send thank you cards, because I never get it together and actually make them.

5. I’m afraid of everyone. Even people I’ve known since I was 5. Even my own family. Even Derek. I’m always afraid they really know what a sham I am, or they’re just being nice.

6. Prepare yourself for this one. It will sound horrible, but read on. I think I’m smarter and more talented than almost everyone. Which is not to say that I necessarily know more, but that I have this inner demon that says, “I may not know that, but it’s only because I haven’t tried to learn it yet. It’s not like I can’t, I just haven’t had the time.” Don’t misunderstand me. I know this is a snobbery, and that it’s untrue, but my brain doesn’t want to change it’s mind. I was told at a very young age that I was very smart, by many people. Those things don’t just go away.

7. The people that I know are smarter than me make me the most terrified. Like they know I’m really just an idiot. I have to compensate for my feelings of inferiority by doing everything myself. Like somehow sewing puppy costumes makes up for my inability to even read the math Derek works on. Or speaking 9 languages makes up for my dismal lack of knowledge in pop culture. (It’s a total lie, I don’t really speak 9 languages. But for the record, I speak English as my native tongue. I lived in Mexico when I was 5, and learned fluent Spanish, which I lost in the years following, but regained in part when I went back to Mexico when I was 19.

I studied German for 5 years in High School, but I didn’t have my heart in it. I learned the vocab, but I never cared about the cases. Hmmm, how can you speak German without the cases?

I took Italian for 4 or 5 semesters in college, because when I was choosing my classes my first semester, all the Spanish classes were full. I went to Vienna, Austria for a semester abroad, and improved my German, then took 3 more semesters of it.

I went on a religious mission to the Philippines when I was 22, and learned Tagalog fluently. One of my native companions said that when she wasn’t looking at me while I was talking, she would forget that I was not a Filipina. I also studied Ilokano, a regional dialect, while I was there. I was never fluent in Ilokano, but I could talk about church and God pretty smoothly.

I stayed in Holland for a few weeks with a Dutch friend, and learned a bit of Dutch, after which I got some books in Dutch and studied it on my own. My friend once told me that it was funny hearing me speak Dutch, because instead of an American accent, I had a German accent.

I took a semester of French following my trip to Holland. Only one, but with the background in Spanish and Italian, all I had to do was learn the spelling and pronunciation idiosyncrasies.

After I met Derek, I took a semester of Russian. The teacher only let me in because I had the same last name as he did, but I turned out to be a crack shot at it, so he liked me all the more. Even when I skipped about two weeks… after getting engaged. Yes, I was one of those. Don’t make fun.

But since I’m afraid of everyone, I never speak any of the languages, so they pretty much don’t count anyway. Oh, I started learning Greek this summer. Yay for me.

8. I want to know everything. I honestly cannot think of a subject that I don’t want to know more about.

Are you sad you wasted your time on that?

I’m tagging Elizasmom, Kalli, my fantastic aunt Barbara, Sketchy, Honeyvine, Yardbird and that’s gonna have to be all! Because who else can I tag that hasn’t done this one or hasn’t decided to renounce all future tags?

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In a characteristic fit of I-can-do-anything-itis, and after having read this article in the New York Times, I hauled off and ordered 10 pounds of fresh olives a few weeks ago. They arrived a couple of days after we moved into the house, so I stuck them in the fridge to await their fate. Today was the day. I finally bought 12 quart canning jars last night, and 2 pounds of lemons. I got up this morning with that glow of excitement at the start of a new project. I’ve only been thwarted in minor ways, no big set-backs yet.

I washed my olives and put them in the jars with the brine, vinegar, lemons, garlic, and celery. I still need to go get more lemons to make juice to add, and I also need a bunch of hot peppers, which I had forgotten about. Also, I think I need at least one more head of garlic. I’m not totally certain the jars are big enough, though. The recipe says to put 3 1/2 pounds of olives in 2 1-gallon jars, but I only had quart jars. And it seems like if you use gallon jars, you end up with olives only in the bottom half of the jar. But you use a lot more brine that way. I think I’m gonna have to keep an eye on those buggers.

I’m so excited to try my own home-cured olives in 6 months. I love olives. Sometimes I think I should have been born in the Mediterranean, because I love olives, citrus, garlic, and flatbread more that about anything else. I wish I had had some good green olives last night, because I could have used them in our dinner. I had to improvise with black olives and capers, which I’m not sure would really fall into a traditional Moroccan meal. The capers, I mean. But man, was it yummy. So yummy, that for your entertainment, I’m posting the recipe for this Moroccan Lemon Chicken and Almond Rice Pilaf, as well as Roasted Cauliflower, which it the perfect accompaniment to the chicken. It’s a little bit of a cheater menu. I used leftover rice from the night before, and subbed in the wrong olives, but it was still so good.

Moroccan Lemon Chicken

1 T olive oil
1 whole, boneless chicken breast with skin and wings (I used 8 frozen thighs from Trader Joe’s)
1 small onion, sliced thin
3/4 t ground cumin
1/4 t paprika
1/4 t cinnamon
2 t finely grated lemon zest
1 1/2 t flour
1 1/2 C chicken broth
1/3 C green olives, pitted and sliced thin (or black olives plus 1 T chopped capers)
1 T honey
1/2 C drained, rinsed canned chickpeas (which I left out, because I had none)
2 T chopped fresh cilantro (also absent, because where do you get fresh cilantro in Ohio in November? I don’t know!)

In a large, heavy saucepan (I don’t use non-stick for stuff like this, because the fresh-ground spices scratch it up, so I use cast iron), heat the oil over medium high heat. Don’t let it smoke. Dry off the rinsed chicken and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook the chicken with the skin side down (this is one of those times when you really want the skin still on. It makes this dish taste like actual chicken, and also gives the sauce a nice, velvety texture) until the skin is deep golden brown. Transfer to a plate.

Add the onions to the pan and cook a few minutes until soft. Add spices (if you’re me, double the amount), zest, and flour, and simmer for one minute, stirring. Add broth, olives (and capers), and honey. Add the chicken again and simmer for about 8-10 minutes, uncovered. Stir every so often, and don’t worry about the skin that forms on the sauce, just stir it in. Add the chickpeas, simmer, add salt and pepper to taste. When serving, make sure everyone gets a lot of sauce, and sprinkle with cilantro.

Almond Rice Pilaf

1 t olive oil
1/4 C chopped or slivered almonds
2-3 cups cooked rice (I used long grain brown rice)
small handful of raisins

Heat the olive oil on medium in a skillet (non-stick is good here) and add almonds. Stir and cook until toasted and a tiny bit golden. Add rice and stir, incorporating all the oil and breaking up any chunks. Add raisins and keep stirring until all the rice is hot. Be pretty careful not to burn the rice. I like to add a couple of tablespoons of water to rehydrate the rice. The water steams the rice a little.

Roasted Cauliflower, or Cauliflower Fries, or The Best Cauliflower You’ve Ever Tasted, Even If You Think You Hate Cauliflower

1 head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized pieces
3 T extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 t ground coriander
1/2 t ground caraway
3/4 t salt
pepper

Toss the cauliflower with the oil, then the spices and salt. Again, if you’re me, double the spices. Put the cauliflower on a baking sheet in one layer, and roast in a 425 degree oven for about 20 minutes. You should hear a lot of sizzling. Take it out and turn the cauliflower. It might look a little burned on the bottom, but that’s what you want. Return to the oven and roast another 10 minutes. It should be shriveled, blackened and crispy on the edges, and kind of juicy looking. Let it cool a little before you try it, and then prepare yourself for a new addiction. Keep the kids away, because they will eat it all. And beg for more, even fight over the remaining pieces.

If you didn’t know already, I’m doing NaBloPoMo, so I’m posting every day in November. That makes for some pretty uninteresting reading. I would love to write witty and/or thought provoking stuff every day (or even one day!) but not this year. This year it’s going to be mostly a journalish retelling of the events of the move and the house. So instead of reading on, go take that nap you were thinking about.

I accomplished the herculean task of assembling the boys’ bed yesterday. I did require Derek’s assistance for putting the side bed onto the main bed, but only because the bedroom is exactly the same width as the bed. So, instead of building from one end to the other, I had to assemble two parts and lower one down vertically while matching up the hooks that keep it in place on the other part. All because the dang screws are 3 inches long, and I couldn’t get them in if I followed the instructions exactly. I should have taken pictures of how I had to manipulate myself and the bed in the tiny space. Still, I’m pretty proud of myself.

I just noticed that if I look out the window in my front door, I see two trees with bright yellow leaves. If I look out the window 4 feet to the right, I see a tree with green leaves, and the window to the right of that shows a maple with deep red and burgundy leaves. Did I tell you I’m in love with my house? I never knew I could get so emotional about a house, but the more I walk around in it and around it, the more I just love it. I love the concrete porch, the wrought iron banister and railing on the porch, the ivy creeping around the front walk, the funky yellow asbestos(!) siding, the giant magnolia tree, the creaky floor, the light pouring in from all the windows, the acoustically perfect room in the basement where I can sing German Chorales and sound like a choirboy in a cathedral, and on and on. I love this house.

Now I have laryngitis, so it makes no difference if I find my phone. I’ve never had laryngitis before, and it’s kind of amusing. I keep testing my voice, singing scales and trying to yell, just because it sounds so funny when my voice cuts out. At least I’m not coughing my guts out and doing that cough-puke-asthma-attack thing. Cause that sucks.

I want so badly to try the cinnamon roll recipe from The Pioneer Woman Cooks!, but I’m honestly afraid of the damage it would do to my arteries. Because would I share? Noooooo! And scroll through it all the way and tally up how much live butter is in that recipe. As my friend and former co-worker, Alison, from my formerly academic career as a library reference assistant (where I also used to work side-by-side with Daring Young Mom, I’m that famous), used to say, “I just cannot dill!” You might not get that if you’re not from Utah. It comes from the same region as “I think it’s gonna hell tomorrow,” “Put your head on your pellow and go to sleep,” “I forgot to pill the potatoes for supper,” and “Use yur fark sweetie, the carn’s still hot.”

But enough about me. Does anyone have a wonderful, perfect shower head you can recommend? Because I’m venturing forth into the world of DIY tomorrow. Actually I already ventured. Yesterday, I switched the door to one of my kitchen cabinets so it opens in the opposite direction. Because the guy who put it in? Not a cook. No sense of ergonomics, or really even common sense. I remedied that situation, me and my drill. I didn’t even require the assistance of the one-armed-man.

Well, we moved into our beautiful tiny house. OK, it’s really not that tiny at 1300 square feet, not including the 800 square foot basement, but the kitchen really is freakishly tiny, and there is almost no cupboard or shelf space. Ah, well. I guess that’s the price I pay for rushing into buying a house. That, and the nightmare of a shower.

Anyway, here’s how it went down. Two weeks ago today, I went to volleyball practice and came home to find Derek cradling his arm. He said he had planned on cleaning up the living room and doing the dishes while I was gone, but upon his exit to take out the trash, he misjudged the outside steps to the parking lot and came crashing down on his left elbow. The next morning, it was swollen, so he decided to go to the nearest urgent care. Sure enough, he had a spiral fracture of his radius. Yes, my strapping husband broke his elbow taking out the trash. My brother said it was the sissiest bone-break he’d ever heard of, and someone from church suggested we come up with a more manly story. In any case, his little accident exempted him from packing or moving.

So I got some people from church to come over to load the truck, and some different people from church to unload it at the house. And I was left with millions of boxes of stuff thrown in at random to sort through and find a place for. That was Saturday, and now it’s Wednesday. I still have many, many boxes to put away, and I finally found the spoons. There are already many hand prints on the glass of the front door and on the stainless steel fridge that I didn’t want, but my realtor insisted on. Because, of course, what idiot would want a white fridge? One with three excessively greasy little kids, I say! I’m still mad at him for that.

So far I’ve hit my head on the chandelier about 5 times, and Derek has once. I’ve slipped on the carpeted stairs, but I didn’t break any elbows. Our next door neighbor mowed our lawn when she found out we had no lawn mower and Derek had his little ailment. She also trimmed the ivy from our porch. (We have a porch! We have ivy!) Two other neighbors helped me move in the dining table I bought. You all would be jealous of my great table. It’s a solid wood expandable table with turned legs that have acorns half way down. The matching chairs have the acorns too. The lady who sold me the table (for practically nothing) also sold me a cute cabinet with carved panels and a glass door. I might have to post pictures, because this stuff is too great. That will be after I get the real computer hooked up, after we figure out how to ground the circuits in the outlet so we can put in a 3-prong outlet.

Calvin is successfully transferred to his new school, which turns out to be not the one 3 blocks away, but a separate Kindergarten building more than a mile away. I was so worried about getting him there every day, since we still only have one car, and I really can’t drop Derek off every day to keep the car. Then I found out the there is a school bus (which is called a shuttle here, because of the local aversion to school buses) that picks up at the elementary school to take the kindergarteners to their building. So I will only ever have to walk my kids to the 3 blocks away school. I almost cried from relief when I found that out. It would have been fine if I only had one kid, but I think making Zeeb walk the mile and back twice a day would have been too much. Plus, at the pace my kids keep, it would have taken an hour each way. As it is, it took us 13 minutes to get three blocks today. And we didn’t even stop for Zeeb to puke on the sidewalk, like he did yesterday.

Hey, I’m not that bad of a parent. He puked because he was coughing, which was a natural result of his crying hysterically, which really came because I wouldn’t hold his hand while we walked, which was because I had to carry my 20 pound Kiki, which I can’t do for 3 blocks with only one arm. Which is Derek’s fault. He was clearing off the porch the night before, and he decided the stroller should go in the car, so we would have it in case we needed it somewhere. Anywhere except at home, of course. So anyway, Zeeb has a pretty sensitive gag reflex, and if he ever gets crying, he coughs until he pukes. Tons of fun. Mostly this only happens when he’s at home, safely ensconced in his own bed, in the middle of the night. Calvin has developed this amazing talent of leaping out of his own bed and running into our room, wailing, “Zeeb’s gonna puke!” And we can pretty much catch it in time. By that, I mean that we can catch it before it gets on anything other than Zeeb, his jammies, his pillow, his buggy, his pippo, and his bed. We haven’t had to clean it off the floor in quite a while, knock on wood. The other night, when he woke up coughing, I grabbed a bowl from downstairs and made it in time to save everything but the pillow and the jammies. But then I had to take him to the emergency room, because he couldn’t breathe. Turns out he has croup. They gave him some steroids and a chest X-ray, and he’s a lot better now. It’s been a long time since I stayed up that late.

This has gotten way too long. I’m tired. I have boxes to unpack. I’m sort of lonely, so if you are ever in Ohio, come visit me.

Your results:
You are Zoe Washburne (Second-in-command)


Zoe Washburne (Second-in-command)
90%
Kaylee Frye (Ship Mechanic)
85%
Dr. Simon Tam (Ship Medic)
70%
Malcolm Reynolds (Captain)
65%
Wash (Ship Pilot)
60%
Derrial Book (Shepherd)
55%
River (Stowaway)
40%
Inara Serra (Companion)
35%
Alliance
20%
A Reaver (Cannibal)
20%
Jayne Cobb (Mercenary)
10%
 
 
Dependable and trustworthy. You love your significant other and you are a tough cookie when in a conflict.

Click here to take the Serenity Firefly Personality Test

Curiously, I’m apparently 20% cannibal.

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