Blue in the Sky

A lesbian wife and mother tries her hand at something new. Surely there is a hat that fits out there somewhere!

Motivation – You Never Know Where You’ll Find It Thursday April 29, 2010

Filed under: Daily Life,The Runner — The Professor @ 5:27 pm

Total mileage for the week – 0 miles

So, about the running.  It’s not going so well.  A funny thing has happened….. I’ve been going to the gym.  Weird, huh?  Even stranger is this stat:

Total strength training sessions for the week – 2

This is a 200% increase from any previous week.  Although I know all about the health benefits associated with strength training for women AND I have a family history of osteoporosis I resist it.  In a big way.  For these reasons, it was pretty crazy when I was suddenly inspired to go for it earlier this week.  I owe it to a rather unlikely source.

Here’s the story…..

I was plugging away on the elliptical, counting down the minutes when a very large black woman caught my eye.  Smack dab in the center of the weights area, surrounded by big, beefy men was this bright light of a woman.  I guess she had some kind of aerobics routine in her Ipod, because she was absolutely rocking out.  Kicking and punching and shaking her tail feathers.  This is not the kind of thing I typically see in a gym.  At least not in my gym.  This woman was FABULOUS.  She was just doing her thing and making it look quite good.  Putting a smile on my face at the gym isn’t an easy task, but this woman did it.  She brought a smile to my face and a nudge to go ahead and hit the weights.

Thank you!

 

Books Are Heavy Wednesday April 28, 2010

Filed under: Books,Daily Life,The Reader — The Professor @ 12:47 pm

As you know, we will be moving this summer.  Between the arrival of Spring and the impending move, everything in my house is looking like something else that has to be packed and eventually unpacked.  Because today is Reader day, I decided to share some information about my new friend, PaperBackSwap.com.

I have a satisfying and enduring relationship with my local used book store.  However, between my home and office bookshelves I’m thinking that it is likely that trading all of the books I would like to unload would leave me with a store credit that would be dangerously high.  If you are wondering what I mean by dangerous, please refer to the title of this post.

I was discussing this with Toad who suggested that instead of trade credit, I simply ask  for cash.  This seems like a good idea except for the fact that I know you get SO much less value for your books if you ask for cash.  I’m  not aiming to profit from my books, but something resembling a trade would be nice.

Enter PaperBack Swap.  The service is free and entirely user-friendly.  As a new member, you simply provide email and mailing address, list 10 books you are willing to swap and for your trouble, they send you two books for free.  I have requested this:

and this:

Yes, I do have eclectic tastes.  Should someone request a book that I have made available, I will pay the postage, send the book and get a credit for a book of my choosing.  See….. it’s a swap! 🙂

This seems like a great plan to me.  I can offload textbooks to the used book store and hang onto my paperbacks for future swapping.  I know Toad will be all about this.  Think of all the money I’m saving us!!!!  Hey, the university is moving us so we don’t have to carry this books. 😉

 

Italian-Style Spaghetti Squash with Tempeh Monday April 26, 2010

Filed under: Daily Life,Food Glorious Food,The Chef — The Professor @ 4:23 pm

Say whatever you want, but I love tempeh.  I just love it.  I can’t say the same for tofu or seitan or any of the other popular non-animal flesh protein sources, although I will eat them.  Tempeh is in another class entirely.  It’s easy to cook with and it tastes good.

Looking around for a new recipe to try this week, I found this one.  Tempeh AND spaghetti squash.  I’m in.

INGREDIENTS

  • 12 ounces tempeh, cut into small cubes
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium tamari
  • 1/4 cup mirin (if you can’t find this, you can use honey)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 (2 1/2-pound) spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 (25-ounce) jar pasta sauce
  • 2 cups small broccoli florets
  • 1 cup packed baby spinach

DIRECTIONS

  • Preheat oven to 375°F.
  • In a medium bowl, gently toss together tempeh, tamari, mirin and garlic; set aside to let marinate for 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, arrange squash halves, cut sides down, in a large baking dish. Pour 1/2 cup water into dish and bake until just tender, 30 to 45 minutes. Remove from oven, turn over squash and set aside to let cool slightly.
  • Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Drain tempeh, then add it to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 7 to 8 minutes; transfer to a plate and keep warm.
  • Meanwhile, heat pasta sauce in a medium pot over medium heat until hot throughout then add broccoli and cook until just tender, about 5 minutes.
  • Stir in spinach and remove pot from the heat.
  • Using a fork, scrape strands of spaghetti squash onto a serving platter.
  • Spoon hot pasta sauce and broccoli over squash, top with tempeh and serve.
 

The Third Week of April

Filed under: Daily Life,Family,Food Glorious Food,Movies and TV,The Wife & Mother — The Professor @ 2:04 pm

I am happy to report that the baby will not be going to the state if something terrible should happen to Toad and the Professor.  On Tuesday evening we signed our names a bunch of times, wrote a check (gulp) and left the attorney’s office with all sorts of fancy legal documents.  Of course, if you pay any attention to the news you know that all of this effort could be for nothing should just about anyone decide to refuse it.  It’s what we can do at this point in time though, so we’re doing it.  Toad is breathing much easier. 😉

On Thursday night I left my pregnant wife at home with the dog and went to a Wine Tasting dinner at one of my favorite restaurants in town.  My friend Jess had the idea and though I felt a little guilty about doing something so spendy without Toad, I got over it.  Ahhhhhhhh is the main thing I have to say about the evening.  Jess and I arrived to find that three of Toad’s colleagues and their wives/husbands were also in attendance.  Wasn’t expecting that.  Of course the wine starting coming pretty soon and the Aussie from the winery actually sat with Jess and I.  That turned out to be great fun as he had a fabulous accent and a very funny, down-to-earth way about him.  Throughout the evening we had five different wines (four white and one red) and all sorts of yummy food (shrimp, oysters, passionfruit sorbet and pork wrapped in bacon).  The wine came from Pikes Winery in the Clare Valley of southern Australia.  That area is known for its Riesling and I was surprised that it is a very dry Riesling, not at all the sweetish wine I think of.  The evening was lots of fun.  Food, wine and good conversation.  Happy.

The next day brought weekend visitors.  Toad’s brother and his wife arrived on Friday just in time for another movie festival flick.  This is the trailer from Casino Jack and the United States of Money, the movie that kicked off the weekend.  Wowza.  I knew that Jack Abramoff had created quite a fuss, but I had NO IDEA it was this bad….

Saturday morning brought a run with Baker and brunch on the patio at our local Latin restaurant.  We spent the afternoon wandering around town from one neighborhood block party to the next.  This town loves an outdoor festival in the Spring.  I think the New Yorkers were a little amused by the scope of our festivities (the block party was literally a block.  One), but it was a good afternoon for wandering.  Not all that sunny, but warmish.  We crashed at home early evening and settled in with delivery pizza and another movie.  This time it was The September Issue.  For reasons yet to be understood, my wife is fascinated by this woman:

Toad and Anna Wintour make a curious pair (she finds the fashion world appalling and I doubt that she has ever even leafed through an issue of Vogue), but since The Devil Wears Prada, she’s had her ears tuned for news of this woman.  It wasn’t a fabulous documentary, but it was certainly rentable.

If you can even BELIEVE it, Toad and her brother ran a trail race (a half marathon actually) on Sunday morning.  The 22nd week of pregnancy ain’t what it used to be people.  They braved rain and not a little thunder and wore identical grins at the finish.  He agreed to be her Sherpa (carrying water and snacks) and he promised me that he would keep her hydrated and watch her pace.  It made me so happy to hear him bragging about her later in the afternoon.  He said that whenever they would pass a guy he would yell “make way, pregnant lady coming through”.  I love that.

The afternoon brought ANOTHER movie (this time the Grabs joined us) and dinner at the wine bar.  I’m pretty sure that Toad and I were the only ones that enjoyed the movie, but we did.  Why did we enjoy it?  Two words.  Tilda Swinton.

The movie was called I am Love and it was just beautiful.  Not the greatest story ever told, but absolutely lovely.  Oh and there was Tilda Swinton.  Did I mention that?

Now it’s Monday and our visitors are on the road.  Ahhh….. life as usual.

 

What Can I Say About Running this Week…. Thursday April 22, 2010

Filed under: The Runner — The Professor @ 3:00 pm

It’s hard.

That’s what I’ve got.

Actually, the running isn’t as hard as the starting to run.  If I can actually get myself out the door, I’m golden.  I am totally prepared to take it from there.  It’s everything that leads up to the run (or any form of exercise really) that demands all the motivation.  This is the kind of thing that waxes and wanes.  Sometimes I just have to give myself a little nudge and sometimes it takes more of a shove.  I’m in the midst of a shoving period.  Lately one of the first thoughts that comes to my head when I wake up is, I don’t want to run today.  It’s sad, but true.  That little message echoes throughout the day until I either buck up and do it or cave and decide to bail on exercise for the day.  Can you say big, huge waste of mental energy?!  Um….yeah.  I hate that.  Unfortunately, hating it doesn’t seem to change anything.  I guess that is the way it goes.

I guess the message of the week (for me anyway) is that it’s ok.

  • It’s ok that sometimes I just don’t feel like it
  • It’s ok that I’m not a natural runner (whatever THAT is)
  • It’s ok that a 9 minute mile is probably my top pace

All I have to do is run anyway.  What’s so hard about that?

 

Strange Piece of Paradise (Terri Jentz) Wednesday April 21, 2010

Filed under: The Reader — The Professor @ 12:52 pm

First things first.  I LOVED this book.  I devoured all 717 of its pages.  In fact, I listed it here as one of my favorite books read in 2009.  I had never heard of this book or this story until a girl in my book club suggested we read it last year.  We had decided it was time for non-fiction and she piped up to say that her best friend had been trying to get her to read this book about two girls from Yale who decide to ride their bike across the country in the 70’s.  They begin in CA and by the time they get to Oregon, the bike adventure is over.  While camping overnight, they are run over by a truck and attacked by a man with an axe.  They both survive.  It was one hell of a suggestion.  I was totally in.  A women’s adventure story that involves attempted murder and a bike trip across the country?  Don’t think I’ll be missing that one.

I should start off my saying that my wife rode her bike across the country after graduation from medical school.  Of course, she did it more than 30 years after Terri Jentz and she went with an organized group and was fully supported the whole way.  Probably bc I have heard the stories of what that was like and all that was involved, I was blown away by the idea that 2 girls who weren’t really all that athletic (they didn’t train for the trip – wha???), set out to do this ALL ALONE and with essentially bikes, a couple of changes of clothes, cash and a map.  Good lord.  And their parents LET them???!!  Oh Bean, please don’t terrorize us in this way.

The bravado of these girls sucked me in from the start.  So many questions about the how and the why and who these girls really were, along the lines of “What would posses a person to do something this nutty?”.  The early part of the book sets all of this up nicely and by page 94 the attack has already happened.  What follows is the account of a woman going back to excavate the trauma she experienced as a girl.  It is not only the story of the author, but also the story of Oregon and the American West, the story of social changes afoot in the late 70’s and a story that explores the nature of evil.  The book considers the nature of memory and how it is shaped by trauma.  In case I haven’t made this clear, you’ve gotta read it.  It will not disappoint.

If you like to a little research before committing to a book that has more than 700 pages, I’ll include some links:

The official website for the book

The 2006 New York Times review

 

I am Happy, Healthy & Transformed: More Tales from the Kool-Aid Pitcher Tuesday April 20, 2010

Filed under: The Adventurer — The Professor @ 6:13 pm

During the last week I’ve been doing something I never thought I would do.  I’ve been practicing visualization.  What has Kathy Freston done with my brain?!  Well, this is supposed to be an adventure so I guess it’s living up to expectations. 🙂  I’ll tell you how it all went soon, but first I should walk you through how I went about it in the first place.

In pages 27 – 30, Kathy describes a basic visualization technique that she has used extensively with clients.  She provides a script that you can record and play back to yourself.  This was a wrinkle I hadn’t considered.  The recording part I mean.  It’s pretty hard to let your mind totally relax when you’re holding a book  and reading words out loud to yourself.  You’ve got to make a recording of yourself reading the script aloud in order to really get the full effect.  And if I’m going to do this thing, I might as well DO it, right?!

Happily, my netbook has a microphone.  Who knew?  My Dad knew, that’s who.  When I called to ask how I might go about recording myself talking, he said “I bet your netbook has one”.  Right he was.  If you have a Windows operating system, here’s how you can record yourself.

  1. From the Start menu, go to the Accessories tab
  2. Within that tab, select Entertainment
  3. From there, select the Sound Recorder
  4. A box will pop up with all of the familiar audio buttons (play, FF, Rew, and Rec)
  5. All you have to do is click the red dot for Record and start talking
  6. When you have gotten to end of the script (speaking slowly), click Stop
  7. From the File menu, select Save As
  8. Name your file and save it somewhere you will be able to find it
  9. Open Itunes or Windows Media Player
  10. Open your file and see what you think!
  11. Once you sync up with your Ipod, you can take your visualizing self anywhere.

My recording only lasted two minutes, so listening to it once a day didn’t create any kind of time hardship.  I did most of my visualizing on the elliptical (what else did I have to do?).  Has my life changed in radical ways in the 7 days since I started doing this crazy thing?  Not so much.  Do I think it’s possible that this kind of re-imagining might be beneficial in some small way?  Sure I do.  I can’t say that I’m committed to a steady diet of listening to my own voice while I visualize all of my radiant possibility and pedal away going nowhere on an elliptical machine, but I can see why people suggest the practice.  There is probably something to be said for it.  I’m not planning to visualize tmw, but I might do it again.  Never say never.

Next up.  Conscious eating.  Kathy has LOTS to say on this topic (she’s a vegan) so who knows what kind of trouble I might get myself into.