Thursday, April 9, 2015

Birthday dinner for M

Today is M's birthday, and so I'm cooking up a feast. We've been noticing an Italian market nearby, so I stopped in for some authentic ingredients for a decidedly inauthentic , vegan lasagna. He's done with his vegan challenge, but I don't think any man would complain about lasagna!  Besides, I really wanted to try the Thug Kitchen ricotta filling.  I've been missing lasagna since I had to give up dairy a few years ago.  So it's a double win! 

I went to the gym for Balance Body where the instructor has amazing shoulders, a perky attitude, and the endurance of a hawk.  She just kept going like she would never stop! At the end of class, one lady lay down on her mat! It was a good workout. I Am mad that I left my Shine home, though. All that walking and the gym, and no Shine points for it! 

Things are really settling down here in DC.  I had this awful dream the other night where I dreamed we had moved into a new place... It had linoleum and carpet floors, and was in a basement, and it had 1,300 square feet, which more than we've ever had.  But I kept running from room to room, crying and asking the movers to stop moving our things because I'd changed my mind about moving.  I dream ran back to our current place and was lying on the floor trying to keep the movers from taking the rug, shouting "We can't move! We have wood floors!" when I woke up in a hot sweat. The bedroom was stifling. I stripped off my jammies, changed, and opened all the windows I could before I flopped down on the futon in the breezier room (the main room).  

It's true that our current place is a postage stamp, and the kitchen is weeny, and the water in the shower has a bad habit of sometimes going SCORCHING HOT then FREEZING COLD... But I love this postage stamp!  And the wood floors.  

Well, I better go wash up.  Lasagna assembly begins soon.  

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Rude Shopkeepers! Nice Drycleaners!

Today's adventure is brought to you courtesy of the fact that M drank all the coffee and I did not buy more coffee at the grocery store because reasons, OK?  (Mostly that I didn't know we were out of coffee because M makes the coffee in the morning, because I'm so not a morning person and I'm kind of dead to the world for the first hour after waking up.) 

I decided, since I needed coffee, that I'd head out to the new Starbucks just down the street.  I'd pick up my dry cleaning on the way.  So out I went, and on the way to the dry cleaners, right next to the fabulous liquor store, there was a sort of tchotke store.  You know them- the sort of place that sells flasks and $500 chess sets and super adorable cutesy baby clothes and that no man is ever allowed to set foot in because everything is so pretty and frilly. 

So I went in.  I'm looking for some new stationery.  I like to have pretty stationery on hand, because I like to send handwritten notes to people from time to time.  My stash is just about out, and it's time to get some new stuff.  I like nice crisp notecards with a detail like an image or an initial on them so I can use them for many purposes.  Once I splurged on this gorgeous set of paper with a single bumblebee embossed on it.  I used it for a year before I ran out and every single time, I loved writing on that paper.  

This frou-frou shop had all sorts of items, and a rather paltry selection of stationery.  Not a deal breaker... I did find a set of color-it-in postcards that I thought some of my friends might enjoy.  

And then I heard it... laughing, chatting.  I look over my shoulder, and all the shop workers are clustered in a small group, talking to each other.  

I continued to browse.  I found a few stationery things scattered throughout the store.

No one came over.  No one came to ask me what I was looking for.  

I kept browsing.  I picked things up.  I put things down. 

NO ONE CAME OVER!! 

Now I have worked retail.  M has worked retail.  One of the big things is to ASK people if you can help them, or what they are looking for, so you can assist them to actually find what they are looking for.  

We used to get Secret-Shopped at the Sears where I worked (I really liked working for Sears, by the way).  And the Secret-Shoppers would inevitable ding us if we didn't come over to talk to the customer.  

So this shop in DC... HORRID customer service!  I was actually pushing the door open on the way out when someone finally called out, "Thank you!"  I looked at the group, and they were already back to talking.  

So they did have some potential stationery options.  But no one talked to me, or showed me if there were other options, and that's the way you lose a customer.  I felt like I was invisible to them.  And I won't be going back there any time soon. 

Now on the other hand, the dry cleaning one door down... they have WON themselves a customer.  They cleaned a quilt for me, for more than $25 cheaper than the same quilt was cleaned in Tysons Corner.  They were affable and immediately greeted me and they said nice things about the quilt.  So I'll be taking a dress to them for alterations.  

All in all, I'm really, REALLY getting to love my neighborhood.  Grocery store.  Drycleaners.  Tailor.  5K loop.

We just did some rearranging in our apartment, which I call the Beautiful Postage Stamp, because it's TEENY.  But it's getting to be so cosy and lovely... I don't want to leave!  I love my view and I love this neighborhood.  Maybe we should just stay and hope that the universe comes to its senses and stop selling the homes around here for $1.4 million...  

Monday, April 6, 2015

Holy Saturday: Lighting the Fires and a Great Moral Victory

My Holy Saturday started out fairly well.  I ran a meeting and then I ran a run.  I'm managing a very, very cool project that I can't QUITE go public with just yet, but I will soon!

For the run, I decided to go through the Rock Creek parkway.  I discovered the parcourse (think parkcour type stuff) and meandered along.  I skipped running through the Zoo (which is the shortest way home) and instead took the longer route that resulted in a few oddball turns, running past a "closed to pedestrians" sign.  Ultimately, I netted 5.7 miles according to my Misfit Shine app.  I don't have an idea of pace, but that's because I don't have a fancy Garmin style watch.

Then I got ready to head out to Holy Cross for Easter Vigil.

I was pretty excited this year.  I was supposed to be long gone, as the Interim, but the stars aligned so I got a bonus Easter.  And that means...

EASTER FIRE!

You might know that last year, the Easter Fire literally fizzled.  I got nervous, tweaked the recipe at the last minute, and put it out in the yard too soon, so when I went to town with my cool Oregon survival tool, the sparks shone out brilliantly in the dying twilight for the merest of moments before fizzing out with a tiny scream of doomed hope.  I had to light it, last year, with... a lighter.

BOOOOO-RING!

This year I was determined to succeed!  And because my survival tool was all packed away, it meant I had to succeed with nothing but a mini camping flint.

Plus it was windy!

This year, I practiced all week.  I fine tuned the recipe.  I did the recipe exactly like I should, and at the last moment, just before lighting, I heroically fought down the urge to add STILL MORE flammables at the last instant... (that was what did me in last year).

Two strikes of the flint, and the fire roared into existence!  There was applause and not a few people said it was the coolest thing they'd seen.

That's one way to drop the mic on your last day at work.


In "funny DC stories"... I had a great moral victory on the way to work.  I had just driven away from home when I remembered that I'd forgotten the parchment paper I'd promised to bring in, so I sped around the block to run and retrieve it.  Just two blocks from my place, traffic came to a standstill.

I KNOW, right?  WORST THING EVER.  It's SATURDAY, people!

As I inched forward, I saw people pulling around this giant SUV parked in the right lane, just sitting here, BLOCKING EVERYTHING.

Me being me, I was mere nanoseconds from leaning on my horn and yelling an encouraging phrase meant to help the offending driver learn to move their vehicle in a more expedient manner, when (thankfully) I noticed it was not one, but several black SUVs.  Black Suburbans, specifically.  Black Suburbans with some very nice young men standing outside in suits.

That's right.  That would be the Secret Service.  Apparently, Michelle Obama likes to get her workout on at a particular studio, and sometimes goes to the gym in my neighborhood.  All the tourists were out to see her come out from her workout, and yes, the Secret Service does rather block traffic in their Suburbans when the Obamas are up here in NW.

SO, at the end of the day, I DID **NOT** HONK AND YELL at the Secret Service.  That probably would have been bad.  I got around them and noodled away to get to back to my apartment, where I ran upstairs at warp speed, grabbed the forgotten parchment paper, and ran outside at even faster warp speed to jump into my car and speed off BEFORE Michelle Obama came out of her workout and shut down Wisconsin again by driving home to her house.

I beat the Motorcade!  And I didn't CUSS at the Motorcade.

I'm freakin' heroic, that's what I am.  Boom.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Good Friday, Good Runs

I started Good Friday with running the 5K loop I discovered (mostly flat and pretty fast) in the opposite direction.  Basically, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, and Nebraska create an almost perfect loop that goes through some DC-quiet neighborhoods.  (For me, that means not overrun by tourists).  It took me, again, about 28 minutes, meaning that I'm starting my ramp up- even without a race to prep for!- at a faster, stronger pace than the last year.  Thank you, Andrew Giant Muscles, Devin Super Fit, and Michelle Power Strong!  They kick my butt... but clearly, I needed kicking.

I will definitely be continuing to do the strength work at the gym since obviously I need someone else to kick me in the rear to get me to lift harder and stronger.

Today, I started the day with a meeting for the Bike Project for which I'm the Project Manager. Some of you might be following the tragedy where a Suffragan Bishop hit and killed a cyclist.  It's a pretty bad case, all around.  So a lot of cycling Episcopalians, being horrified by so many aspects of the case, want to do SOMETHING positive.  What happened was and will continue to be horrible.  But can we use our energy to create something that can benefit others?  We think so.  We are organizing with a century group to be part of a large ride, and will be focusing on bike safety.  So I had that meeting early on. The Core Team will be a good group.

Then I went for a run.  I've been seeing signs for trails going to the Rock Creek Parkway, and naturally, I thought, "YAY! Trails!"  I had visions of the old Ridgeline trail from Eugene- the one where you basically park your car and suddenly you are running on a different planet.  I always felt so badass and happy running that trail.  It's the trail that converted me from a running-hater to a person who just realized that I'm a trails girl.

Well, the Rock Creek Parkway is no Ridgeline trail.  It's largely paved, and pretty open, and a wee bit crowded, but it's at least a trail.  It's more like the Fern Ridge trail, Oregon readers.  Since I had lots of happy time biking and running Fern Ridge, I will not whine about Rock Creek.  It was pretty good and I'll spend a lot of time there.

Overall, I did about 5.7 miles in about 1:05, counting uphill slogs, waiting for traffic, and standing around looking at my phone at the map, trying to figure out which way to turn.  (Ok, and petting that family's adorable golden retriever.)

I am getting a little desperate for some real dirt trails out here.  Come on, East Coast!  Give a girl some dirt!  If you know of any, please do tell me!

Alternately, if you want to give me a plane ticket for two weeks in Oregon, I'll come out on Monday with all my running stuff and I'll get my fill of Ridgeline, Fern Ridge, up in the mountains, and out to the Shore.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Thursday in Holy Week

Thursday is the first of four days of controlled chaos.

I arrived at work today several hours later than the start of office hours, due to the fact that I will be doing a service at 7:30PM and won't be leaving before about 9ish.

I spent the morning tidying up a few things and puzzling over taxes and then being really, really mad that my tax program hadn't saved my taxes so now I have to do them ALL OVER again.  Grrrrr....  I also spent part of that time estimating my 2015 taxes so I can guesstimate our monthly income after taxes.  Why?  Well, because now I can color-code the home budget.  Duh!  With both of us having normal, stable jobs again, at last, I can finally do things like budget projections so we can achieve our goals!

ANYWAY:

Almost as soon as I arrived at work, I also discovered that I've completely lost my Maundy Thursday sermon and all its notes.  So I have to write this thing from scratch in 4 hours.  NOT exactly my preferred method of writing!

I am also discovering that something about Holy Week makes people SUPER nice to clergy.  I'm wearing my collar today (um, services, hello!), and people are smiling and waving and holding the doors and letting me go before them in lines.  It's weird.  Yes, I checked my fly and made sure my hair was combed.

People, you are creeping me out.  Now go and sin no more.

I better go write that sermon.  Again!

Approaching Normal

Yesterday was April 1st, which is a day when a lot of not-naturally-funny people try and pull elaborate jokes and pranks.  Most of them fall completely flat.  (Yeah, that would be most of all the politicians' attempts at humorous tweets.  Please stop, politicians.  You aren't funny.  Just go to work and get sh*t done, already.)

Outside, away from the Washington Post telling me about various pranks (which was super annoying), it was a lovely day: sunny, cool and warming up with the gentle promise of a spring coming our way.  (Someone told me it was supposed to be in the 30s again later this week.  STOP WITH THE LIES, ALREADY, WEATHER PEOPLE!  FREE THE SPRING!)

I opted to skip the gym in favor of a shake-it-out run.  You know, the sort of thing where you head out just to see how well you are doing after months of being indoors on dreadmills and spin bikes and doing boot camps.  Yes, I missed both Barre and yoga, which I really enjoy, but OUTSIDE!  YAY!

If I head down Wisconsin towards Tenleytown, turn left on Nebraska, and left on Massachusetts, I have an almost perfect 5K loop.  In even better news, it took me about 28 minutes.  My heart rate averaged under 150 BPM until the last leg where there's a gentle incline and it edged up into the low 160s.  This is actually fabulous.  The e.Coli situation totally screwed me up, and flat 5K runs last year were taking me 35 minutes with lots of pain and wacky heart rates.

In other words, this sort of pace is approaching what I was running as I started my Leadman season, which was probably my best season so far.  I think I can do some good builds and see if I can't get those 7:30 miles back.

I was pondering that as I trotted home.  Part of my brain was thinking, "Eh, I do think I can use that route to do some speed work!"  The other part of my brain was realizing how much more normal and how much better I'm feeling, at last.  I had a rough time with that e.Coli and trying to figure out how to feed a lactose intolerant body!  I can't believe it took this long to figure it all out.  I'm a little relieved and a little frustrated, because I wish I had figured it out faster.

Spending all that money working with the Idiot Nutrition Coach last spring didn't help anything.  She may have set me back several months, with the whole stupid no-carb, no-calorie thing.

I'm super grateful to have worked with my Fueled and Focused coach, who may have saved my bacon.  I don't want to think how bad things could have gotten if not for her.

So I am going to be doing some reading on the Exchange Program, which my doctor still recommends.  I think Cristina from F&F really helped me a lot, and now I want to learn more.  I picked up Diet for Dancers (don't read the back cover.  It's horrible.  But inside, it's got tons of great information and FINALLY explains the Exchange program in a way I can understand).

Try not to get fixated on the weight stuff in the book.  I am finding it really helpful to learn about the Exchange program side of things.  It's explaining how to break down foods to get the exchange values, which is something I had not been understanding, as well as how MANY exchanges you should get throughout the day, which is also helpful.  I'll look forward to puzzling this book out over the next few weeks to see if this helps me with achieving balance.

In other news, I'm a little sore from the run, and debating whether I should go for another one this morning before heading off to work.  I'm going in late as I have the first services for Holy Week tonight... and I'm really debating if I should wear myself out a little or take the time to clean the kitchen.  In either case, I know that next week I have tons more time!




Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Why REI is Awesome

So today I went to REI to get a flint, so I can make fire on Saturday evening.

While there, a friendly REI employee came up to me and asked if I was finding everything.  I said yes... and asked about the flint I was holding.  He pointed out the lighters and mentioned, correctly, that they are much more effective.  He told me a very, very funny story about tinder and fire building.  Take away lesson: Tinder should be dry.  Flints take practice.

"But", I said, "I really need the flint.  Because I have to start a fire the old-fashioned way on Saturday. It's for Easter Vigil."  I slipped that in there real quick.

It didn't faze the guy.

"Ah.  So what are you using for tinder?" he replies, fingering the packets of tinder and cotton and woodshaving.

Well, actually, I have a secret recipe involving salt and flammable substances... no, that I'm not going to post on the internet.  If you know me, you can email me and I'll send you the Secret Recipe for Easter Fire.  It's AWESOME.

"I've never heard of using salt before..." he says, slowly.

"Well, it burns hot and fast, and it's out in a few minutes.  Just enough so I can light the candles," I say.

"And not so much that you set the church on fire?" he says, without missing a beat.

"Yes!"  say I.  "Burning down the church is a horrible way to start a service!"

"Not to mention that it's against the law," he points out, accurately.  "It's a federal offense to burn down a church.  That would probably put a damper on Easter Sunday.  'Priest arrested for burning down church with Easter fire'.  You know fire trucks, cop cars, so much trouble."  He looks at me, considering his next question.  "You know, [redacted flammable substance] evaporates pretty fast.  How are you going to handle it?"

I explain that, last year, [redacted flammable substance] was actually a problem.

He gets a little gleam in his beady eye.  "I know!" He sprints off to the travel bottle section.  You know, the spot where you find the travel shampoo and stuff.  He picks up a cheap, tiny squirt bottle.
"Just large enough for what you need, to add a little extra to the fire pile.  You can probably, you know, slip this up your sleeve.  AND THEN!  If you strike that flint just right, you can have a flamethrower!  An Easter vigil service flamethrower!  A really tiny one!"

"Yes!" I reply with joy!  "A tiny, Easter vigil flamethrower so I can not set the church on fire but have a really cool fire!"

I did not high-five the dude.  But REI is awesome.  Because their staff don't bat an eye when a priest walks in and explains that she needs to start a fire.  Most people would at least give me the side-eye.  But not these guys.  Hurray for REI!

In other news, now I really, really want to go camping!