Sunday, January 30, 2011

Library Love

In Front of Me

Glasscock Building

Bike at Library

Saturday’s Errands by Bike (1/29/11)

This past weekend brought threats of rain, but Saturday turned into a beautiful day to be out and about on two wheels.  After lunch, I hopped on my bike and rode to campus to take care of something in the lab, then I rode across campus to the library, where I hunted for Anne Fadiman books, particularly Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader.  This book was recommended to me twice in one week: first by my dear friend a and then by Tania in her short list of good books to read.  a’s review of this book was enough to pique my interest, and a recommendation from my favorite style blogger (and fellow book lover) was enough to seal the deal.  Unfortunately, the library’s copy was checked out, so I put in a request for Ex Libris and instead checked out Rereadings: Seventeen writers revisit books they love, a collection of essays which was edited by Fadiman.  The topic sounds fascinating, as I am also a rereader.  I think it will be good bedtime reading.

Sometimes I’m amazed that I wound up as a professional scientist and not a writer.  I like to fancy myself a writer, especially now that I’ve stretched myself into two blogs, but I certainly don’t make my living as a writer.  I am reminded of how strange it is that I went the science route whenever I am in a library.  Libraries feel like home to me, familiar in concept but filled to the brim with the exotic, the unknown.  In a library, I feel that I both lose myself and find myself.  It’s a magical paradox.

An Even 30

January Sky at Sunset

Friday’s Run (1/28/11)

After a week of walking, biking, and cooking, it was time to hit the pavement again, sneakers on and bike left behind.  We’ve had a warm spell here in Texas, which has been delightful, but it’s still January, which means the sun starts to set before 6 PM and I end up running in the dark.  I would much rather run during daylight hours, but that only happens on the weekends when I’ve been unchained from my bench and the flies have to fend for themselves for a few days.

On Friday, I did an easy 30-minute run, taking my favorite neighborhood loop.  I felt fine and not surprisingly, 30 minutes feels like a warm-up compared to the 80- and 90-minute long runs that I’m doing on the weekends.  Still, it’s nice to have some easy running in between the long runs.  The easy runs feel like a reward for the hard work of grinding out 7, 8, 9 miles at a time, all in the hope of running a half-marathon in less than two hours.  I’ll be happy to finish the half, but now that I’ve confessed I have my eye on a finishing time, I’m becoming more focused on that goal.  I can do this.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Healthy Cravings, Magic Tricks

Trees on West Campus

Healthy Smoothie

Bike with Honor

Thursday’s Bike Ride Commute and All-Around Healthiness (1/27/11)

After Wednesday’s upsetting and spirit-frazzling chaos, I decided to make Thursday as nice as possible.  The best way to do that was to pull all the healthy magic tricks out of my hat and then enjoy the results. 

The first trick: ride my bike to work.  This idea is nothing new around here, of course, but morning exercise often jumpstarts a happy mood for the day, plus it would give me another chance to do my commute the way I like to do it: on two wheels and round-trip.

The second trick: pack a green smoothie for my 3 PM snack.  This green smoothie was particularly delicious, as it included a good scoop of my new malt powder, which went surprisingly well with spinach.  On Thursday morning, into the blender went a banana, a cup of milk, a spoonful each of cocoa powder and malt powder, and two handfuls of baby spinach.  I can’t remember if I added any sweetener to this one; I think not because the banana was probably really ripe.  Buzz to smoothness, pour into a portable drink container (mine is an old plastic peanut butter jar, all cleaned out and kept specifically for packing smoothies into my lunch), and take it to go.  There’s something fun and novel to me about drinking my spinach—it makes me feel so healthy and well-nourished.

The third trick was to take a break outside to enjoy the beautiful weather we’ve had this week.  The first two photos up top were taken in our little courtyard between my work building and the medical sciences library.

The fourth trick was to take it easy in the evening.  I thought I would go running on Thursday evening, but as I was biking home, I got the worst craving for some time to putter in my kitchen.  Specifically, I wanted to make my Roasted Broccoli and Tofu, which I hadn’t made in I don’t know how long.  This recipe is one of my favorite weeknight options.  It’s fun to make, healthy, totally delicious, and gives me leftovers for a few lunches.  It also comes together easily and tastes far more complex and interesting than you might expect.  I surrendered to my craving and stopped by the grocery store to pick up fresh broccoli and some white rice.  Then I spent a happy evening chopping, stirring, and seasoning before sitting down to a satisfying dinner.  All together, my healthy tricks hit the spot, and by the end of the day, I was feeling like me again, only better.

Dear readers, what are your healthy tricks?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

“But please, remember me, my misery, and how it lost me all I wanted”

 Indoor Posing

Business in the Front

Party in the Back!

Wednesday’s Chaos (1/26/11)

Yesterday was neither the best of days nor the worst of days, but it certainly had my mood bouncing up and down like a two-year-old on a trampoline.  The good: a gorgeously warm day; lunch with a friend at the new Indian restaurant in town; delicious Indian-style lemon rice and creamy spinach and peas; a new pink headband; finding my favorite kind of malt powder at a Kroger’s where I don’t usually shop.  The bad: losing my hat and gloves some time during or after lunch; not being able to find my lost items anywhere at work; spending most of my evening trying to find the hat and gloves; feeling sad about not taking photos of the beautiful sunset; snagging my new tights on the Velcro from my bag.

But!  Eventually finding my beloved hat and gloves at the Kroger customer service counter put a good dent in all that bad.  Having a friend who is willing to drive back across town in search of my lost belongings also made me feel better, or at least well-cared-for.

When I finally made it home, I was exhausted and completely frazzled, so I decided to focus on calming myself down.  My exhaustion pushed me toward yoga instead of the run I had planned.  I had ridden my bike to work, but I didn’t ride it home because of the change in plans when I realized I had lost my warm things.  It was sad not riding home yesterday because the weather was perfect, and I wanted to enjoy the evening while pedaling my way to home base.

The yoga, however, was really nice, even though I was a bit too much of a space cadet to follow all the instructions.  I did the 20-minute Morning Flow #1 (never mind that it was evening) and loved all the backbends and wheel poses.  I’d never done more than one wheel pose in a yoga session, so it was challenging to do it two or three times.  I confess that I couldn’t hold the final one, and I have no idea how I was supposed to lift my leg while maintaining the pose.  But I do know that I’d like to do this class again.  I even downloaded the pose guide; like I said, my spacey frame of mind made it a tricky to do a new yoga class.

Two other awesome things from yesterday.  First, my hair!  I decided to try out the headband/bun combination, and I think it worked.  With my crazy bun, I dub this look “business in the front, party in the back.”  You know, like a mullet, but prettier.

And second was Kate’s funny post about de-lurking.  She perfectly described how I feel about blogging.  Most of the time, I feel like some deranged narcissist, always writing about myself, blah blah blah.  But sometimes I get comments, and I don’t feel so alone with this strange internet hobby of mine.  So cheers to de-lurking, and having readers, and being able to learn so much from each other, even though we’ve never met in person.  Kate rocks my socks.

* This post’s title is a line from a song I love, “The Trapeze Swinger,” by Iron & Wine.  It’s a good reminder that much of life is what you make of it: misery or joy, tears or laughter, disappointment or gratitude.  I struggle with this, so it’s good to be reminded to look toward the sunnier parts of life.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I Live for Walks

The Last of the Evening Light

In the Woods

Walking Shoes

Tuesday’s Walk (1/25/11)

The fading evening light, the brisk winter air, the bouncy step of sneakers on my feet: this was Tuesday night’s walk.  I decided to take it easy and rather than going for a run, I went for an easy walk around the neighborhood and through the dog park.  It was nice to just change into sneakers, grab my camera, and GO.  No head-to-toe clothing changes, no watch, no heavy breathing.  Just me and the night, and the way I felt like a changed person when I crossed over my threshold again.

I can’t wait to go for more walks after the half-marathon is done.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Lighter and Brighter

Tree with Golden Leaves and Grey Sky


Another 80-minute Run Done!

Sunday’s Long Run (1/23/11)

The rains have returned, but they waited until evening.  In an uncharacteristic burst of motivation, I did my long run this morning after ironing some clothes that have been waiting patiently for their pressing.  Now they hang proud and wrinkle-free in my closet!

This morning offered a fantastic opportunity to run outside with mild temperatures and sunshine.  The sunshine was touch-and-go because it was cloudy today, but the day was such a stark contrast to last week’s long run that I was practically giddy with joy.  I dressed in layers, anticipating chilliness, but even as I stepped outside, I could tell this day was not going to require gloves, so I slipped them back inside before starting my run.  I became warm enough that eventually I took off my sweatshirt and pushed up my sleeves to get some cool air against my skin.

Today was the second of the 80-minute training runs, and overall I think it went well.  I felt a tiny bit of fatigue set in around the 30-minute mark, but it was very mild, so I didn’t slow my pace.  I took one major break, a 5-minute walking break at the 60-minute mark, which I think is a record for me: an hour of running with just one tiny break to cross a busy road!  My pace was very strong too.  I started slowly, as I do with most long runs now, but after about 10 or 15 minutes, I was moving along at a good clip, probably something in the neighborhood of a 9- or 10-minute mile.  (Ah, the imprecision of not tracking mileage!)

The hardest moment was at the very end of the run, with just 5 minutes to go, when my legs began to grind into the wall.  Those 5 minutes were harder than all of the 75 minutes that preceded them.  But since it was just 5 minutes, I held onto my run, keeping up the pace as best I could, until it was over.  To me, that’s why endurance running is all about: enduring just long enough to turn your goal into your accomplishment.  And with just four more training runs before the half-marathon, there isn’t much that stands between me and my goal.  The main goal, as always, is to finish.  But the other goal, the one I’ve never achieved?  To break two hours in the half-marathon.  I think it is possible to reach this goal on March 6, but I’m nervous.  Nervous and hopeful, which is not a bad combination when facing something you’ve never done before.  Wish me luck as we count down to the big race!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Hoofing It (with some pedaling thrown in there for good measure)


In Full Winter Gear


Out and About on Friday and Saturday (1/21-1/22/11)

Don’t be fooled by all the green and sunshine in these photos.  It is indeed winter in Texas, and apparently, that means we get an alternating pattern of balmy days and bitterly cold days.  Friday was on the balmier side, or at least it felt that way as I walked across campus, bundled up in scarf, hat, and coat.  It was an unusual and busy day: a job candidate visited the lab for an interview, so my colleagues and I were busy playing host(ess).  I enjoy meeting postdoc candidates, so I don’t mind the disruption, but it does make for an unusual day, as I bounce from experiment to meeting to seminar back to experiment.  By Friday afternoon, I was feeling exhausted, but I pushed myself to get one more thing done before leaving to run some errands at Target.  I gave myself a gold star for effort that day!

At Target, I had to return those grey tights, which were, sadly, way too long for my short legs.  The fabric was excellent and I loved the pale color, but they were made in a very long length that bunched at my knees and ankles.  To replace them, I bought two new pairs of tights: a new grey pair and a Joker-purple pair.  I’m a little nervous about the purple ones, as I’m not sure I can pull them off without looking like a cartoon character.  But I’m going to try!  I’ll share photographic evidence of my attempts with you.

Friday night was lovely: dinner with our job candidate and two of my labmates at Los Cucos, which I have decided is my favorite Mexican restaurant around here.  We ate well that night: lots of enchilada plates, a fried avocado to share, and some drinks to make it a festive evening.  Afterward, we hopped down a few doors to go to Muldoon’s for after-dinner coffees.  It made me happy to realize that I’ve been living in College Station long enough to have developed a mental list of places that I like, places where I can take visitors for good eats and drinks.

Today I’ve been feeling rather lethargic, perhaps because I ate too much last night.  It might also be a general lack of sleep or well-being, as I haven’t been feeling great this week.  But I did get my act in motion to do the grocery shopping, which desperately needed to be done after my week of abstaining from the stores.  As usual, I spent too much money on food, but I have no regrets.  We had such a nice day here today, and because I was running errands, I got to spend most of the afternoon outside.  I walked to Albertson’s, which is just three short blocks from my apartment.  Then I thought about walking to Brazos Natural Foods, until I decided I also wanted to stop by Barnes & Noble to peruse the magazines (and finish reading an article I started reading while standing in line at Albertson’s).  To make things a little speedier, I rode my bike over to the bookstore and BNF, where I got to catch up with one of my favorite people, Jeremy, who works at BNF and always makes me laugh.  On the way home, I had a little run-in with a driver, who scolded me for not stopping at the stop sign.

Do you know the police can give you a ticket for not stopping at the stop sign?” he asked me as we both waited for our light to change from red to green.

Okay, thanks,” I answered.  As a matter of fact, no, I was not aware of this.  But what I really wanted to say was, And will the police also give you a ticket for parking like a moron while you pick up your mail?  This guy had blocked the sidewalk by parking his enormous van wrapped around the corner by the mailboxes, so he blocked me from staying on the sidewalk without hopping off my bike or riding out of my way to a driveway.  Because I am lazy and hate to lose any bike momentum, I rode off of the sidewalk and onto the street, where I wound up with this guy in his van driving right next do me.  We were on a quiet side street, so I wasn’t worried about it, and when we came to the intersection with a stop sign, we both slowed down.  He stopped, so I rode through and waved to thank him.  His response was to scold me for not stopping (in which case I think he would have turned in front of me and cut me off, which I’m sure he wanted to do, based on his lazy parking job at the mailbox.  I suspect that’s the reason he scolded me).

But it turns out that he’s right: in College Station, bikes are considered “motor vehicles,” so we’re expected to stop at all stop signs and traffic lights.  I didn’t know this!  I don’t think it's an issue very often for me, but I do feel a peevish sense of gratitude that this man told me about the law.  He’s still kind of an a-hole in my book, but he did do me a favor.  The other thing I learned today is that if one is riding a bike at night, it’s illegal not to have a white light on the front of the bike.  A light is an excellent idea, of course, both for your safety and the safety of those around you.  I don’t have one right now, but I plan to get one very soon.  I don’t like riding at night, and I only do it when I’m staying late at the lab for an experiment, but having a light would make me feel better about riding home after dark.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Sunset, Moonrise

Trees and Clocktower

Sunset through the Bus Window

Thursday’s Run (1/20/11)

Yesterday’s weather was freakishly cold for Texas, which means it felt like a typical January day in the Midwest: bitingly cold, the kind that makes your hands hurt inside their gloves.  The kind that makes you silently cuss every time a bus comes around the bend but it isn’t your bus.  Of course, it also happened to be the day I decided to wear heels (because I think this looks glamorous—that whole mixing of men’s and women’s wear), and by the end of the day, my feet were hurting and they were cold.  I couldn’t wait to get home.

We had a gorgeous sunset, which you can see above, and by the time I set off on my short run, we had a beautiful moonrise, the kind where the moon looks like a giant, golden wheel of cheese, just hanging in the sky like someone hung it up there.  It was enormous as it rose, but it got smaller as it climbed higher and higher in the sky.  I ran for an easy 23 minutes, doing a shortened version of my favorite running loop.  Though it was difficult to get out the door because of the frigid temperatures, I bundled myself up very well and once I was moving, it was nice to be outside.  The air was crisp, the moon was full, and I had the pleasure of running outside.  With all of these long, long runs I’m doing now, it feels like a treat to go out for my short runs because they are so easy by comparison.  I’ve got another long run on the calendar for Sunday, but on the in-between days this week, it’s been all bike rides and an easy run.  I have no complaints, not even about the cold.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Industrious Type

Bike with Tree and Sunshine

Me with Tree and Sunshine

New Sweater Tights

Wednesday’s Bike Commute (1/19/11)

It was a gorgeous day here in the Brazos Valley!  I thought it was going to be quite chilly, but by the time I had biked to work, I was a little sweaty underneath all those layers.  This problem seems to happen quite often: I dress for a chilly bike ride, and I start to overheat before I’ve arrived at my destination.  Next time, I should at least take off my hat to cool off.

Today I finished my tasks at work early, even though I wasn’t feeling well (nothing serious, don’t worry!).  Once I was done, I decided to leave rather than find something else to do.  When I arrived home, there were so many things I could have done—cleaned the bathrooms, ironed some clothes, tackled my growing pile of recyclables—so being the industrious type, I laid down on the couch with my new cookbook and read about fruitcake.  Then I got sleepy, took off my sweater, and took a nap.  It was delicious, and even though it will probably throw off my delicate sleep schedule, it was worth it.

Evidence of Nap

Monday, January 17, 2011

Like It Was Spring

Evidence of Sun

Bike with Red Dudes

Leg and Bike

Monday’s Bike Commute (1/17/11)

I have nothing against Dr. King or his national holiday, but it’s true that when I realized today was Martin Luther King Day, the first thing I said was, “Crap!”  Because it meant that today is a university holiday and the busses are on vacation.  Which meant that in order to get to work, I’d either be walking or biking.  I prefer to do neither on the day after a long and hard run, but biking for 50 minutes sounded better than walking for two hours, so the bike it was!

Despite my hesitancy about the bike, it turned out to be a great day to be on two wheels.  The morning was dry and calm, with no wind and just a hint of chill.  By early evening, the sun had returned to Texas, which made me feel like the luckiest person alive.  The air was almost warm and it smelled like spring, that scent of grass and earth and for lack of a better word, warmth.  The undergrads are all flooding back into town for their spring semester, so the streets had a sort of chaotic energy to them, which was fun in its way.  As I was riding my bike down the street, some dudes in a giant truck honked at me very deliberately, staring to see my reaction.  I had my normal squinty expression, the one I wear when I’m confused, and I just looked back at them.  I’m not sure if the honk was because I was riding a bike in a skirt, or because I looked like a girl, or what.  Little do they know how ancient I am compared to all their perky classmates!  Even if I do look good in a skirt at my advanced age.

My bike commute was so nice today that I’m thinking about doing it again tomorrow, but is that too much exercise in the wake of a long run?  I think I’ll try to take the bus to campus and if the weather is nice, I’ll go for a stroll after work.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

And Then the Rains Came

It Keeps Raining

Mayan Mocha at Sweet Eugene's

Saturday’s Soggy Bike Ride + Sunday’s Waffling (1/15-1/16/11)

Much to my disappointment, the sky seems to have an unlimited amount of rain up there, and the rain has been falling almost nonstop this weekend.  Saturday was a drizzly day, and silly me, I had set something up on Friday that required a Saturday visit to the lab.  It was a wet, uncomfortable bike ride for the tiniest of chores that took all of five minutes to do once I was in the lab.  And silly me again, I had made afternoon plans with a friend to meet for coffee.  As I was gathering my gear for another soggy bike ride, he called and offered me a ride, which I gratefully and promptly accepted.  It’s so much nicer going out for coffee if it doesn’t require wet clothes and tired legs.

Today is Sunday, and for the last two hours, I’ve been hoping the rain will stop so I can do my 80-minute long run without being pelted by raindrops.  No such luck, but the day is still young.  Unfortunately, I feel a little trapped by my running plans: I want to get this run done today and soon, but the weather is not being cooperative at all.  In a few minutes, I’m going to walk over to the grocery store (with my umbrella!) to pick up a few things, then I’m going to will myself to get out there and run. 

Or I might just say forget it and make today an indoor day.  You can see that I am a very decisive person.  In either case, I will report back.

* * *

Sunday’s Long Run (1/16/11)

Booyah!  I did it!  One long, sloggy 80-minute run has been completed, and there’s one more to go in this season of half-marathon training.

The rain did not let up before I decided to lace up my sneakers, but I did add some layers to make the run a little more comfortable: a baseball cap to keep the rain out of my eyes and an old windbreaker to keep me a little drier during the run.  The hat was a brilliant idea, as it kept the rain from dripping onto my contact lenses, which is really the one thing about rain that drives me absolutely batty.  Wet hair is also a bummer, and the hat kept the top of my head dry, even if my ponytail didn’t stay dry.

This run was a tough one.  I was really happy to get out of the house, as the rain was starting to make me feel like a prisoner in my apartment.  My spirits were good; unfortunately, my legs were more tired than I realized.  About 30 minutes into the run, I could feel fatigue setting in, which was worrisome given that I still had 50 minutes more to run.  I took a few breaks, including one 5-minute break at the 50-minute mark, and it felt heavenly to walk.  It was also a good time to give myself a little pep talk about finishing the run.  With each passing minute, the idea of finishing the run felt more and more difficult, but I slogged on.

And I’m so glad I did.  That’s the thing about long runs: there are bound to be a couple that just feel really hard, even if there is no obvious reason why.  Since I had completed two 70-minute runs in the past two weeks, I had every reason to believe that 80 minutes would only be a smidgen harder than 70 minutes, and the difficulty should come at the end of the run, not 30 minutes in.  One of the mental challenges about long-run training is to keep your legs moving, even when they feel heavy.  I didn’t experience any signs of injury today, no alarming tightness or extreme fatigue, just fatigue in my legs that I didn’t expect. 

The best part of a long run, especially one that takes place in the rain, is slipping into dry clothes and sitting down to eat.  I had a second breakfast of sorts, cereal with peanut butter and sliced banana with a cup of coffee.  The coffee was perfect: strong, creamy, a little sweet.  I made a smaller cup than I usually do in the morning, but I used the same amount of add-ins, so the result was creamier and sweeter than usual, which was just right for today.  My homemade brew was much better than the coffee in the photo at the top, but let’s face it: when you spend enough time in the kitchen as your own personal chef, it becomes much harder for anyone else to compete.

And now it’s time for that other fabulous post-run ritual: the hot shower.  Happy Sunday, everyone!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

“Bless Your Heart!”

Big Cloudy Winter Sky

Bike with Dude and Dog

Tall Socks for a Cold Day

Friday Bike Love (1/14/11)

When I realized that on Friday evening I was free to do whatever my heart desired, I felt pretty gleeful.  Despite the terrible, no-good, very bad week I had, Friday was a very good day at work and the feeling of imminent freedom was even better.  I spent the evening shopping, despite my unofficial shopping ban this month, which was an attempt to return to my normal levels of spending after the holiday madness.  I decided that some Valentine’s Day spirit was a good reason to break the ban, so I rode my bike to Michael’s to pick a few decorations, which I’ll share with you soon.

There is a Michael’s store just down the road from me, and an easy evening bike ride sounded perfect.  It would have been perfect, too, had a drizzly grey storm not settled on top of us.  Still, I carried on, riding in the misty rain and happily picking out various be-hearted decorations in shades of red and pink.  This will be the year that I claim Valentine’s Day as my own!

I also went to the grocery store to pick out some cauliflower for roasting, along with fresh fruit for eating and peanut butter for spreading.  As I was unlocking my bike, a man with two kids started getting into a car parked right next to my bike.  The man asked me, “Is that your bike?”

“Yes, I do,” I answered nonsensically, lost as I usually am in my daydreams.

Well, bless your heart!” he said.  “Do you have far to go from here?”

No,” I said.  “I live just a few blocks from here.”  My voice was flat, not at all matching his upbeat enthusiasm about my bike.

Well, have a good night!” he said cheerfully as he got into his car.

You too,” I answered, suddenly feeling bad that I sounded so grumpy, as I was still nursing my wounds from a bad week at work and here he was, being so friendly and nice about my bike.

That, I suppose, must be one of the worst things about a bad mood: it lingers, despite bike rides and Friday night freedom and fun shopping for Valentine’s Day.  I immediately vowed to try to be friendlier to strangers because, after all, this is a small town and it’s not unusual for strangers to be nice to each other.  In some ways, I’m still a cold Northerner, suspicious, self-contained, minding my own business.  Most days I like being friendly with anyone who crosses my path, but on my hard days, I revert back to my old self-protective ways.

Old habits die hard.  But it wouldn’t hurt me to put a little more effort into being a friendly Texan and rather than a cold Northerner.  At least I didn’t flip anyone the bird that day!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Double Up

Morning with Bike and Bag

Best Bag Ever

Thursday’s Bike Ride and Short Run (1/13/11)

Relief, thy name is Friday.  It has been a very hard week around the Feels Like Flying headquarters, but with a fun weekend just a few hours away, I feel like I can make it through this final stretch of the week.  It’s been very cold (by Texas standards), and things have not gone well at work for me.  I need a weekend to recuperate from this work week!

On Thursday morning, I had a stroke of good luck when I missed the bus.  Good luck?  Oh yes!  I was too impatient to wait for the next bus, so I decided to ride my bike, even though I had a lot of stuff to take with me.  In the moment that I decided to ride the bike, I immediately thought that getting some morning exercise might make me feel better—all that huffing and puffing would help me to blow off some steam and relax before starting my work day.  I was totally right—the bike rides to and from work made me feel much, much better.  However, I did not feel good enough to not flip some rude driver the bird when he ran a red light and cut me off during my evening run.  In this town, the drivers are about 50/50 when it comes to pedestrians: about half are quite nice and appear to be paying attention to pedestrians, while the other half look like they’d rather run me over than slow down.  Most of the time I keep my fingers to myself, but sometimes I get a little pissy and feel the need to vent my frustration.

My run was short and sweet: a quick 20-minute out-and-back, just to keep those feel-good chemicals pumping a little longer.  Afterward, I had a terrific evening at home on the couch, reading my new cookbook, In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite by Melissa Clark, which is really wonderful and I highly recommend.  I haven’t even cooked anything out of it yet, but the stories behind the recipes are enough for me to give it two thumbs up.  (As opposed to two other fingers up…)

And for this lovely Friday, how about a few recommendations from around the interwebs?  I love a good link list; here’s a few that caught my attention this week.

* I’d love to do something like Jenna’s 40 days of yoga.  Yoga, meditation, journaling…it sounds like a really nice way to unplug from the outside world and tap into your inner world.

* I’ve been listening to Iron & Wine’s “Flightless Bird, American Mouth” on Grooveshark, and it is a beautiful song.  I’d like to slow-dance with someone to it…and while I was listening, I thought, I swear I’ve heard this song before!  Maybe at the end of Twilight?  And sure enough, it’s on the Twilight soundtrack!  I think Bella and Edward may have already slow-danced to this one.  Does that make me cliché?

* I’m cutting into my food blog territory here, but Jess’s Walnut Cake sounds like a great way to fire up the oven this weekend.  Everyone knows that walnuts are good for you and cake is a good way to recover from long runs.  (hee hee!)

* Finally, congratulations to S. of Simply Bike, who is pregnant!  Hurray for the little bun in the oven and the parents-to-be!  And hurray for staying fit during pregnancy!  I’m sure it’s not easy, but I applaud S.’s enthusiasm to stay active and healthy for two.

Happy weekend, everyone!  Stay warm out there, but don’t stay inside all weekend.  Lace up your sneakers and get some exercise.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Coldness, Darkness

Homeward Bound

Bright Light at Night

Tuesday’s Bike Commute (1/11/11)

After living in Texas for just over a year now, I have lost my abilities to handle cold weather with grace.  I still have all my cold-weather clothing (like that awesome pink hat), but when the temperatures really start to plunge, I feel miserable.  Yesterday we had the coldest day of the season yet, and it was shocking.  I rode the bike to and from work, as I’m wont to do, and while the morning ride wasn’t too bad, with its sunshine and that new-day feeling, the evening bike ride was freezing.  I had an experiment that ran late into the day, so I didn’t leave until around 7:30 PM.  It was dark as midnight outside, which made me feel even colder.  My legs felt heavy and tired, and all I could really do was think about being home again, safe and cozy with a big mug of tea and a plate of cookies at my side.  I made it home eventually, and the rest of the evening was nice: that mug of hot tea and some of my friend a’s famous Orange Shortbread Cookies with Chocolate Chips.  I made these cookies on Sunday night because I wanted something sweet to nibble on throughout the week, and I have to say, the only bad thing about these cookies is that I have a hard time being moderate around them.  I always want another cookie.

So it goes around here.  Another bike ride, another cookie, another experiment.  That, in a sentence, just might be my life.  It sounds pretty good to me.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Over the Puddles and through the Rain



Ready to Run

Sunday’s Long Run (1/09/11)

Sunday was a cold, grey, wet day.  I had planned to do my 70-minute run in the morning but instead I tooled around on the internet until after noon then realized with a slight shock that it was 1 PM.  I made a quick snack of raisin toast topped with peanut butter, then I hit the pavement and started the clock.

My run turned out to be pretty good, even with the drizzly weather!  I started slowly, which I’ve been doing with these long runs, as I’m finding that a slow start helps me to keep a more even pace later in the run.  I stopped three times, but only one of those times was a “real” break—in other words, a break I needed.  I took a three-minute walk break at (I believe) the 50-minute mark.  The other two breaks were for road crossing, so they don’t count as much.  I felt pretty strong during the run, which is great, and there was some fatigue in the latter half of the run, which is to be expected. 

The best part of the run, though, was the long, hot shower afterward.  I think maybe that’s why I run.  Wait, have I said that before?  Maybe…and it’s still true!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Saturday, with Bike and Pink Hat

Bike on Bridge

Terrible Awesome Saturday Outfit


Saturday’s Bike Commute (1/08/11)

Don’t let that bit about a bike commute up there fool you.  I was very lazy on Saturday, and it was perfect.  I spent many wonderful hours reading old blog posts from one of my favorite bloggers (ooh, I see she has a new post up now!) and hopping around the internet.  I think I needed the social solitude of my computer; it was a long week, and it was nice not to be doing anything productive.  Though I would argue in my own defense that getting excited about my upcoming half-marathon is very productive.  Reading about other people’s races is a great way to get yourself motivated!

I rode the bike to work in the late morning to take care of an experiment.  (My flies pay no heed to weekends, and I am but their keeper who must take care of their needs.)  Later in the day, I biked over to the hippie food store for some Organic Valley dairy and other goodies, then I made one final stop at Albertson’s to pick up lasagna noodles and other lasagna ingredients.  Dinner?  Of course, it was lasagna!  It was a good one too, with kale and lots of red pepper flakes for a spicy, delicious dinner.  It was a nice day to be out and about on the bike, cool but sunny, and I got to wear my awesome pink hat, which I haven’t been wearing because it hasn’t been cold enough to warrant a hat.  When I lived in Chicago, I wore this hat constantly in the winter, and it kept me marvelously warm on top.  In Texas, I seem to overheat quickly in the winter, so in order to wear the hat, I need to wear less on my body.  Maybe I’ll work on wearing more t-shirt and sweater layers so I can wear my hat this winter.

Even with Sadness, We Ride Forward

I’m deeply saddened today to learn about the shootings in Arizona on Saturday.  I am not a politically active person, but I believe that violence is never the answer, no matter which political party you call your own.  And while I believe in free speech and protecting liberties, we must remember that our words have a power that is endowed upon them by the listener.  “Vitriolic rhetoric,” to borrow words from the Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, is not something to be taken lightly.  We’ve got to fight against this hatred, but we must do so with our words and nonviolence…and dare I say it, loveAn eye for an eye leaves everyone blind.

I must confess that I feel a little shallow posting about my bike ride around town in the wake of such a heartwrenching tragedy, but everyday life carries us forward.  So does hope, for the victims of this tragedy, for the families of those who were killed, and for a better tomorrow. 

* * *

Bike and Earl

Bike and Me on the Military Walk

Schwinn Twins!

Friday’s Bike Ride (1/07/11)

The bike commuting resumes!  After all that bike-riding last week, I took advantage of the bus this week, but by Friday, I was ready for another bike commute.  I rode to work in the pretty morning sun, happy to be on my bike again.  In the evening, I rode the bike across town to HEB, my second favorite grocery store in the area.  (My first is the charming and tiny hippie store, Brazos Natural Foods.)

Since I do not have a car, and I have two grocery stores located in close proximity to my home, I don’t go to HEB too often.  It’s very exciting when I do!  They’ve got all sorts of organic goodies and really great fresh tortillas.  On Friday, I got it into my head that I wanted to make red onion and kale burritos (inspired by this cute post over at public::bookstore), so I bought two big bunches of organic kale and spicy “Southwestern”-flavored tortillas.  Back at the ranch, I made my burritos by taste and by feel and by borrowing a few tricks from my friend Amutha, who taught me how to make her delicious channa masala last week.  The burritos were fantastic—the perfect end to a somewhat difficult week.

Let’s hope today is the start of a better week for all.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

One More Time

More Fun with Fashion

Hello Again


Materials and Methods

Cowl neck top: Gap, bought recently on sale at a very nice price

Black pants: JC Penney’s, gift but picked out by me (ancient!)

Black boots: Kohl’s (also ancient)

Sparkly silver belt: One of those hip stores in the mall, like The Buckle.  I forget which one.

Silver earrings: Family Dollar, my very first pair of danglies ever.  I had great taste at age nine.

Ludicrous amounts of sunshine: Gift from Texas

These photos confirm what I have long suspected: I have no waist.  I could feel there was something missing from my life, but I thought perhaps the missing item was a boyfriend or a car.  Nope, it’s a waist.  I have but the slightest hint of an hourglass figure—I’m all short limbs and muscle.  But at least I have some curves!  In fact, the man who charmed his way into boyfriend (man-friend?) status in my life could not be more vocal about his infatuation with my curves.  Which is, of course, a very nice thing.  He is a very nice man in all sorts of ways.

Despite my waistlessness, I am very happy with my body.  We have a deal: I treat it right, and it keeps up with me.  I couldn’t ask for much more, and really, in today’s culture, for a woman to be happy with her body is a minor miracle.  I count myself among the blessed.

Kind readers, thanks for indulging me one more fashion post.  I consider this a little photography project, and there may be more of these posts in the future.  It’s just for fun, and indeed, I am having a lot of fun with them.

Friday, January 7, 2011

It Felt Necessary

Winter in Action

Winter Flowers

Can You See the Cat

Thursday’s Wandering Around Campus Aimlessly (1/06/11)

I was having a down day yesterday for no good reason, as it seemed like it should have been a perfectly fine Thursday.  I was feeling some angst about a friendship, and maybe I was just tired from trying to get through the first full week back in the saddle after the holidays.  I’ve also been feeling some anxiety about work, of which I am well aware but must simply endure because I have no magic wand that will whisk my uncomfortable feelings away.

The only really good strategies I have for days like this are distraction, getting outside, and exercise.  It felt necessary to employ all three of these options, so in the afternoon, when I had a bit of a break between experiments, I went outside, wandered around, and took photos.  I took a lot of photos of myself, which I’ll share soon, but for today, my subjects are other creatures: a winter-dried plant, a blooming shrub, and that adorable cat, who wedged herself between the blinds and the patio door so that she could nap in the sun.  (I took that last picture in the morning, when I was on my way to the grocery store to buy some wine for dinner with a friend.) 

The good news is that all of this meandering outdoor distraction did the trick: by the time I went back to my work, I felt much lighter and ready to tackle the rest of the day’s goals.