Wednesday, January 28, 2009

E is for Ecbatic(1)

Today tastes like escargot, endive, eisel2, and erasers.

Two lines and two footnotes. A record, even for this blog.

Some months ago, when I had That Conversation with my doctor ("You need to change your evil ways, Spike." "Or what, doc?" "Well . . . let's just say I wouldn't start any long books or all-day suckers if I were you.") I found a recipe for cauliflower soup that didn't taste like punishment, but was still actually low-fat and all that good stuff. I began carrying that for lunch each day, playing with the ingredients for variety.

DH Gareth came into the kitchen one day, and asked, "What is that heavenly smell?" I told him, and he poked his head into the kettle to see for himself. He smacked his lips and said, "I think we need to throw a dinner party, and feature this as one of the courses."

So we started planning. We'd wanted to throw a paired tasting dinner for our extreme foodie friends for some time; had discussed ways to do it--a travelling dinner where we'd have appetizers at one home, soup at the next, and so on; or possibly just getting together for dinner once a month and rotating the hosting duties. But nothing came together.

Until this last Saturday, when we whipped up a batch of soup, begged an insane foodie buddy to make us some pasta (fresh, from-scratch pasta with seafood sauce! So not on the cardiologist's diet, "If it tastes good, spit it out.") roasted a fabulous leg of lamb, and I made a Boca Negra-- a deadly flourless chocolate cake flavored with bourbon. The cake is a deep black souffle, and yes, you will have a black mouth upon consumption of the same.

Dinner was a hit, but Gareth needs to refine his pour a little. It's easier to serve some more wine to come out even with the course, not so easy to remove some excess wine from one's bloodstream! We almost had a house full of guests who came to dinner and couldn't leave!

This brough up a round of "we have to do this more often," and "we'd love to host the next one," and Mischief's Lad volunteered that he had some elk in the frezzer that he didn't want to go bad, so we told him that if he'd set the date, we'd be there.

Hoping something grows from this. I think once a quarter'd be nice, as well as dividing up among the participants well.

1. Ecbatic: a grammatical construction indicating result without intention. Like Topsy, it just growed.

2. Eisel: a sour wine, resembling vinegar

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Barnum Statements

Today tastes like black coffee and illicit doughnuts snuck out of the kitchen. Shhhhh . . . don't tell my diet.

Barnum statements are good clean fun, so long as you don't take them to heart, but sometimes they cut a little closer than is exactly comfortable.

And so sometimes I'm actually moved to post a result. Witness below:

Your result for Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? Or Someone Else? Mad Men-era Female Icon Quiz...

You Are a Bette!


You are a Bette -- "I must be strong"

Bettes are direct, self-reliant, self-confident, and protective.

How to Get Along with Me

  • * Stand up for yourself... and me.

  • * Be confident, strong, and direct.

  • * Don't gossip about me or betray my trust.

  • * Be vulnerable and share your feelings. See and acknowledge my tender, vulnerable side.

  • * Give me space to be alone.

  • * Acknowledge the contributions I make, but don't flatter me.

  • * I often speak in an assertive way. Don't automatically assume it's a personal attack.

  • * When I scream, curse, and stomp around, try to remember that's just the way I am.

What I Like About Being a Bette

  • * being independent and self-reliant

  • * being able to take charge and meet challenges head on

  • * being courageous, straightforward, and honest

  • * getting all the enjoyment I can out of life

  • * supporting, empowering, and protecting those close to me

  • * upholding just causes

What's Hard About Being a Bette

  • * overwhelming people with my bluntness; scaring them away when I don't intend to

  • * being restless and impatient with others' incompetence

  • * sticking my neck out for people and receiving no appreciation for it

  • * never forgetting injuries or injustices

  • * putting too much pressure on myself

  • * getting high blood pressure when people don't obey the rules or when things don't go right

Bettes as Children Often

  • * are independent; have an inner strength and a fighting spirit

  • * are sometimes loners

  • * seize control so they won't be controlled

  • * figure out others' weaknesses

  • * attack verbally or physically when provoked

  • * take charge in the family because they perceive themselves as the strongest, or grow up in difficult or abusive surroundings

Bettes as Parents

  • * are often loyal, caring, involved, and devoted

  • * are sometimes overprotective

  • * can be demanding, controlling, and rigid

Take Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? Or Someone Else? Mad Men-era Female Icon Quiz
at HelloQuizzy

Don't know so much about the childhood bit--any of my First Life peeps who knew me when want to weigh in on the comments?--and will probably never know about the parent bit; but all of section 2 is spot on; and statements 1,3,5,6,7, and 8 of section one are correct; as are statements 2,3,4, and 5 of section 3.

Yes, sometimes we are "are extroverted, affable, and sociable, while at other times you are introverted, wary, and reserved" to snitch a bit from Forer's paper.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

D is for . . . Dance

Today tastes like dandelions, doucets1, daikon, and diesel. The Universe has once again bitch-slapped me and demanded, “Pay attention, dumb-ass!”2

See, I admit to being athletically declined. I also have no patience whatsoever, and am harshly critical of myself. I am a kinesthetic learner, so I have to try it to do it, but of course I spend a lot of time ragging on me for doing it wrong.

But I love to dance.

I love to feel my body moving in space, and I live for the times when everything goes just right–where you hear the music and your feet and hands know what they’re supposed to do and miracle of miracles! They actually just do it. But the getting there. O, the endless getting there.

So this whole dance thing has been a beach ball for me; where I hold it underwater, but it keeps popping out. I climb up on top of it–hah, now I have you! And then I fall into the water as it bursts out again.

And it’s not just a beach ball with bright and spiffy colors–no, this is the Beach Ball of Dooooooooom, the Beach Ball of the Apocalypse that presages the end of all things, the coming of the Gidget.

Worse yet, the horrible wet feeling of having failed at it (whatever IT may be) again.

But I relate to dance as a metaphor for moving with the flow of things as they are and not slamming my ego against the rocks as I insist that reality conform to my perception of things. (He thrusts his fists against the posts and still insists he sees the ghosts.)

I've tried movement based reprogramming before and enjoyed it (tai chi, NIA, yoga). However, I was coming from a fitness standpoint, which is like using a hammer to drive screws. You may indeed get the screw in the wall, eventually. You may also have a number of holes in the drywall, and a gouge in the tile from where you flung the hammer in exasperation before you picked it back up again and went to get that verdammnt screw in the friggin' wall.

But . . . what if I did this for [smallest voice] fun?

And the first thing that comes to mind is the time it takes to learn movement, and classes and schedules and my life is so full right now how will I ever make a hole for one more thing?

But, see, I have some DVDs and a six-disc player. I could pop one in and whenever I needed to get up and stretch (or--heresy!!!--make a POINT of getting up and moving every half hour or so, just get up and move it with Carmen Electra for five minutes in the living room) I could switch DVDs and shake my bootay; not gettin' fit, but moving the body. Heck, I lurves me some TV on DVD, I could just hop up and flip channels every episode.

And if the object is just to move and enjoy, then I don't have to be the World Famous Ecdysiast with the mythical perfect body who taught Salome everything she knows. I can just move, creaky knees and all.

Singing the body electric.

1. Savory tarts baked in a sweet dough. I’m thinking classic French onion tarts, or maybe the fabulous alligator-shrimp cheesecake from Jacques Imo’s in New Orleans, but on a salty graham cracker crust.

2. So where's the bitch-slap, Spike?

Well . . . the Dowager Empress herveryownself sent me a New York Times article about a yoga teacher. With a rubber duck mascot/assistant yogini/clever prop. And I laughed and was charmed and deleted the email/tossed the article into the wastebasket and never gave it a second thought.

Turns out that was a love tap to get my attention. ("Pay attention, dumb-ass!")

Today, I'm reading my Feedblitz digest (bless you Feedblitz, for filling my inbox with digests of bloggy goodness and wonderment) when someone I respect very much (or they wouldn't be in my Feedblitz account) Jennifer Louden mentioned Dance of Shiva as a practice to do in between classes at a retreat.

Hmm. Dance . . . Shiva? Ok, worth a clickthrough. (Second, more insistant tap on the shoulder. "Pay ATTENTION, dumb-ass!")

So I tapped the mouse and found . . . the Rubber Duck Yogini. With a movement-based reprogramming tool on DVD. And I just received some Xmas cash from the Most Excellent (Adoptive) Grandmother In Law with note that "Christmas is supposed to be joyfully spent."

Thwack goes the Clue-By-Four. "PAY ATTENTION, DUMB-ASS!!!"

Okay. Okay. Paying attention now.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

C is for . . . Creation

Todays tastes like chocolate, cardamom, cereal and cyanide.

It's been one of those weeks when you'd rather do almost anything else except what you're supposed to be doing. I'd rather be reading the contents label on my supplements jar (hey! Nature's Best has more biotin than Life Fitness! What's up with THAT!?!) than knitting, hunting obscure craft supplies on Froogle (where IS the best deal on 3/8 inch mahogany dowels grown on mainland China in an ecologically sustainable fashion) than drafting a blog post, debating colors for a pedicure (Opal White or Snow Frost? Iced Peaches or Cherry Blini?) than working out.

But then, as I was ducking responsibility, I noticed Christine Kane's post from today. About how in order to create change, you first must create a habit that supports the change. It's not enough to have a news flash that you must change X right now, and then jump on it; you need to figure out what step you can take to change X and take that step each and every day.

And to make it simply about what you do. Not a big thing, with trumpets and fanfare and crowds bowing down in the streets, with vestal virgins scattering rose petals before you, but just what you do.

And so I was reminded that I planned to post once a week to this blog, and that I had planned to do so yesterday, but something was shinier, so . . .

Ahem. This is what I do. See you next week.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

B is for . . . Box Jumps

Today tastes like bananas and butterscotch, beef and bilirubin.

New year, new slant on the workout. I still am athletically declined, but having been given notice by the doctor that I will lose weight or suffer the consequences (and what vey ugly consequences they are, m'dear) I am ramping it up a touch by incorporating a cash-out.

See, Crossfit incorporates a warmup into its workout. Or rather, "a workout before the workout," as one member refers to it. Three rounds as quick as you can--leg stretches (15 seconds per leg), 15 squats (I use a 25 pound dumbell and do goblet squats, I feel silly doing air squats), 15 sit-ups (on an incline board), 15 back extensions, 15 pull-ups, 15 dips.

Now you're ready for the workout.

So I've been warming up and working out for a year (and a third, come Sunday). I know where the holes in my armor are, and this year I've decided to get out the brazer and go to work mending them.

Unfortunately, the only way to improve a physical skill is to do more of that skill. Over and over and over. Which leads us to box jumps.

I hate box jumps.

To perform a box jump, you set up an object that will support your weight in front of you. Squat down, feet together. Now jump up onto that object, both feet at the same time--otherwise you're doing step-ups. There's a balance component to getting your body settled upon landing on the box or on the floor as you hop down again. You need explosive strength in your hips and thighs to get enough air to land on the box instead of tripping over it.

As your box gets taller, there's an abdominal element since you have to haul your trailing legs up to get your feet on top of the box.

Yup, this is an example of Prime Suckitude. So of course, this is now the cash-out for the workout. 20 box jumps.

So I'm hanging with some pals, and we get to talking about chick stuff--bodies and maintenance of same, and how we wish things were different, and one notices that I've lost a bunch of weight. How'd I do it?

So I explain the workout, starting with the warm-up, and then go into the workout of the day--three rounds of 45 pound thrusters and pull-ups. The first round you do 21 of each, then 15 of each, then 9 of each. That doesn't sound so bad, she said. The kicker is, done right, you complete the workout in under five minutes. Done well, you complete it in under three minutes.

You could hear crickets chirping.

And a moment later, the group was back into bemoaning how hard it is to get fit, how hard it is to lose weight, how hard it is blah blah blah let's go get pastry.

Excuse me? Pastry? Weren't you just talking about . . . and now you want pastry?

Ok, I get it. Pastry is easy. Talking is easy. Wishing is easy.

But easy doesn't get'r done. Easy doesn't get the bar up over your head. Easy doesn't own your desire.

If you have a desire, then it only seems right to determine the cost of that desire and then decide whether or not you're willing and able to pay that price. The cost of a fancy vehicle is money, money, money; for the payments, the insurance, and the gas. The cost of six-pack abs is a strict diet and exercise routine.

Now, being unable to pony up is one thing. (Although one might want to consider what stands in the way and work on that, if one desires the object sufficiently. There are ways to make more money, more time, and exercises are almost infinitely modifiable to suit innate [or inert] athletic ability.) But it seems that most who claim to be unable are just unwilling.

I can't because I don't have enough money. Couldn't you take in a roommate, get a second part-time job, cut back on expenses? Instead of cable TV, go to the library? Well, yes, but . . .

There is a yes-but for everything. I have my own yes-buts. And the only one that trumps the others is "Yes, but THIS is what I really want."

And I really really want to be able to do box jumps at 36 inches. (Hell, just to be able to do them reasonably well and not internally whine all the way to the gym on a jump-centric day.)

And so, the cash-out. Four inches at a time, up and down, forward and back. Working my way through the yes-buts.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

A is for Admire

Today tastes like . . . almonds and apples, asparagus and arsenic. See a theme developing?

A is for Admire. And Advice. And Alphabet, as you Astute Tonstant Weaders will have Assumed. (Enough with the freaky Germanic capitals, Already.) (ouch)

I have already 'fessed up to my somewhere-between-schoolgirl-and-stalker crush on Patti Digh (and if you haven't read her luminous essays on 37 Days, why not?) I am in awe of her concise prose about the ordinary, how she polishes the everyday and holds it up in a shining example of the things we take for granted, the things we think are just intuitively obvious . . . and the lessons we learn when we discover these obvious and granted things are neither.1

And one of the tricks she's used to keep the posts flowing is the alphabet meme--each post is based around a letter of the alphabet. Well--that means there's (counts fingers, toes, borrows co-worker) twenty-six posts right there. At my rate of publication, that's half a year of material, not counting the times I actually have something to say, or a finished object to show, or even just a nifty snap off a random camera.

So I'm stealing the idea. A is for Avarice, after all.

1. My favorite essay? "Open the Mudroom Door for Tycho". For me, it's an essay about the stories we tell ourselves about other beings and their actions--and a reminder to tell ourselves the kindest possible version of that story before we act.