Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas Cards running late...again

Every year I say, "This will be the year everyone will get our Christmas cards BEFORE Christmas!" and every year I fail miserably. I think last year I didn't even get them out at all. I figure once mid-July comes around Christmas cards are really a mute point.

So just before I open Word and actually write out my post-holiday cheer I thought I'd write a quick blog for a touch of inspiration. It comes to no surprise to me that after my marathon and nursing my foot I am finding it hard to start up a running routine again. Running is many things if not one of the most frustrating of all exercise possibilities. I was barely able to run 3 miles yesterday. I couldn't believe how fast I lost all those months - practically a year - of hard work. But just before I got to the point of beating myself up over it, I took a step back, inhaled deeply and reflected...

I ran 3 miles. This time last year I could hardly run 1, but what is important to remember here is that I ran. I can run. Sure I ache and with my foot I have yet another ailment to be irritated about, but if I am being completely honest here I would probably lose interest if this all came easy for me. Where's the adventure if there's not some kind of struggle to overcome, right?

My heart goes out to a very dear family member of mine who, due to a series of unfortunate events, has found herself in a temporary state of disability and of all the people in the world who can read this, I hope she is one. Today, tomorrow, and the days to come I run for her. I run through my selfishness and self doubt knowing her struggles are greater but not without hope. I run to let her know that in time she will run too (yes run) and sometimes we have to go through the bad days to really appreciate the good ones.

In the meantime I give a shout out to all the women in my life: Osteoporosis is not an old woman disease. Educate yourself. Love yourself. And have a great start to a new year.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

First Bazaar

Well, it would have been better if more people actually came because when people were there, they bought stuff. A poorly advertised event is one in which I will not be returning to. I lived. I learned. And now I am moving on.

There is a whole subculture in the bazaar industry. People hold close their trade secrets. Never ask an apron maker where she gets her fabric or a snack maker how they get the wasabi to so beautifully and evenly coat the sunflower seeds because you will be met with a deep stare, then a plastered smile, followed by a comment of, "mumble, mumble, mumble."

My fellow vendors were generally kind-hearted and we talked more than sold, but so goes the way of a bazaar vendor. One show can make you thousands, where others one simply prays they will make enough to cover the cost of their table.

It's fun making things that have not been on the market. I am now known as "The Dinosaur Lady" or the, "oh my gosh, did you really make this?" lady. So if you are looking for a teddy bear, that perfect hat or scarf, or fleece blanket do not come knocking on my booth. All you will find are new twists on old ideas, and stuffed delights that bring you back to when you were a child. And if you are pleased enough you will buy it, take it home and share the delight with someone in your life.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

It must be nice being a dog

As I come to a stopping point in my crafting madness, but still a bit buzzed from the coffee overload I partook in at 5pm, I reflect...

To say the least, I am so excited for my first holiday bazaar. However, I am a poor manager of time and this, I am afraid, is an extreme understatement. I didn't want to be working like mad up to the last second and yet here I am neglecting the gym, using the TV to put my children in a lobotomized state of complacency so I can sew in the next room and not walking the dog.

Ah, Artex. When Erick brought him home last Christmas as a gift to me I cried with joy. Soon I began to cry out in irritation and anger as he chewed his way through my floors and any possible wiring he could put his mouth on and yet, no sparks. Lucky dog. Having lost his cow bone, a few days back I got Artex a soft plastic toy I was hoping would subdue him in the coming week as my crafting load was shifting into overdrive. He immediately tore it up and ate most of it spending this week with diarrhea and more whining than usual.

While I sat hand sewing closed some stuffed dinosaurs, I shook my head and started to feel a little sorry for him. All he wanted was attention. A simple walk. I instead gave him a 'pacifier' because I am too consumed with my doings. To make me feel worse, it backfired and gave him a belly ache and just at the moment of complete sympathy Artex, who was previously sleeping off his boredom, yelps and looks at his butt. I stop and watch as he excretes some of his toy. Gone completely crazy from boredom, or just because he is a dog, Artex is once again chipper and happy to see he has his toy back and begins to play with it despite where it just came from. Does he know?! Because he obviously didn't care as he thought we were going to play catch as I grabbed a rag, took it forcibly away and settled down to do more sewing.

Do not fret. He got his walk in and he got an extra bonus of going to the dog park. Ah, the life of a dog...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

LA vacation part two: J-tree dude

Nearly a month later I finally get a moment, late at night, to finish writing about our experience in LA. When the snow and ice hit a few weeks back, I closed my eyes real tight and thought about the desert. Not just any desert. The Joshua Tree forest was located within a desert I had never experienced before. Here in Washington/Oregon, the deserts are high, cut from glaciers and full of juniper and whistle pigs. The Joshua Tree desert is full of cactus, rattle snakes, sand and million pound rocks that felt like sandpaper and looked as though they had been meticulously placed on top of each other. Awesome.

I love camping and car camping is like going to the spa. No worries about what I couldn't carry, no minimalistic thoughts and no need to shovel a hole to do my business. The ground was extremely hard and the threat of snake bites in the butt loomed, so I was so pleased about the outhouses. We even lucked out of the often rancid olfactory overload in which outhouses produce (even in the chilliest of climates) because some very nice person lit a candle that lasted our whole stay. Both nights were clear and even a little too warm the first night.

Ah the first night. Vali and Gio had all their friends gathered around the fire. We were in happy spirits and ready to let loose when a couple of Navy guys asked if they could share our site. Gio had rented three spots and it ended up that we only needed two, barely. So being of good humor, as a collective we accepted these strangers into our site. Aside from them, the group as a whole did not know each other and connected only by Vali herself but nonetheless these guys were deemed "the strangers". The strangers tried too hard and talked a little too much. They were visiting to do some climbing and given the perfectness of the rocks, I would have even been tempted to scale a few if the opportunity arose. They were from San Diego and were obviously surfers from their sun-smacked skin and bleached hair to the on stranger's super lame lazier gun tattoo on his forearm. They stayed only the one night and were gone when we returned from one of many of our day hikes around the park.

Vali and Gio have a good group of people they surround themselves with and it was a real treat to be within it, if only for a few days. We took the warm atmosphere home to a typical Northwest pre-winter chill and dug right back into life and when I open my eyes to look at the stiff, frozen outside I smile. The trip was needed and leaves my pending winter warmer than usual.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

LA vacation part one: Arrival

"We are starting our gradual decent to Las Angelas where it's sunny and currently 97 degrees," the pilot announced over the intercom. I smiled at myself and glanced over at Erick. He was plastered to the window like a child at a toy store to which he was not allowed to enter. Less than a year ago I thought the same.
"Why do I want to spend the money to see over-aggressive people and concrete? Not to mention the air pollution. What's the draw?" Erick had pretty much said this repeatedly sense Vali, our close mutual friend, suggested we come visit her years ago. Every year I would comment or hint suggestions of going, but always these conversations ended the same: no.
Despite our lack of visiting her, Vali and her boy friend, Gio, always managed to come up here and visit. Sometimes their visits were a quick hello at the park. Other times it was longer. But the fact remained that she made the effort. She came all the way up for our wedding when I know it wasn't the easiest of times for her to do so. The least we could do was go down there and when better to do so than for her 30th birthday.
This was my response one day early in the year to Erick's non-compliance and it finally clicked for him. I, for once, was absolutely 100% right. Let me clarify. Erick was never against hanging out with our friends, he just was prejudice against the city and what he thought he knew about it. However, he was willing to open his mind, so to speak, for the sake of good friends to which we honestly have few.
The first night there they treated us to an awesome sushi restaurant. As Portland engineers sucked at their freeway designs, so did LA engineers at creating enough parking around their commerce. This lead to a valet parking market to which every place we went had the service available, even when it was a bit unnecessary. We opted out and parked up a street around the corner of the restaurant. I think pretty much it was the steepest street in the valley, but we weren't phased because we were anticipating all you can eat sushi that was assured to be beyond the grocery store quality of Tadai's in Portland.
We sat down and were given a menu with "the rules". Rule number one: you must eat everything, including the rice, before being allowed to order more. No problem. Rule number two: you must eat everything on your plate for the all you can eat to be put into effect or you will be charged for the individual sushi (which was ridiculously priced). Okay, we can do this. We ordered and it was delicious. The high quality meat wrapped in delicate layers of seaweed and rice disappeared off our plates, hesitating only to taste what someone else had ordered. Before we were ready, the food was gone. It was so good. The best by far we had ever experienced. We needed more. We craved more like a drug we couldn't get enough of... And then the emotional need crashed to a demanding physical halt. We were full and there before us, so perfectly wrapped, so beautifully displayed were two full rolls taunting us, laughing at our idiocy. Damn rule number 2! DAMN YOU! We couldn't afford it, we had to finish. Oh God, how it hurt. We tried breathing deep. Our hands shook. We closed our eyes and just plowed through. Not even chewing. Not even caring. Vomiting would be a blessing each of us were incapable of doing. There was a moment where we didn't think it possible, where we considered giving in but we didn't. We made it! We ate it ALL. Damn you rule number 2! You did not defeat us!
With our stomachs so hard that I had a humorous fascination with it for the following hour, we left undefeated and that gave us enough energy to take a drive up to the observatory. The night was warm and clear and everyone around us and within our private circle were happy. This vacation rocked and it was only the first night!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Why 'Running Shores' ?

While sitting down to a fantastic new dinner Erick prepared, I made a comment about posting the recipe on my blog. He said, "Too bad you call your blog 'Running Shores'. It really limits what you can talk about." But that is where he is wrong.

I run literally and figuratively. Not to say I don't take moments to step back and enjoy life as it is. But I say, why do I need to step back and enjoy life when I am enjoying life in the moment? A woman's life is all but simple and we are constantly 'running'. Yes this is pretty much sexist, but unless you are a single man, be honest with yourself.

Pre-world-war II, most women stayed home while the men left to make the money, or if they did work, it was domestic work in other people's homes. A woman's job was to keep up the house, take care of her family which included daily chores and making food. During World War II especially, women were called from there homes to work in the factories while the men were at war. In short, women began to work outside of their domestic responsibilities and it was liberating.

As time progressed, woman's liberation turned into, "I can do anything you can do" and women were encouraged to have careers and compete in "a man's world". While it was looked down on, or thought cowardly of women to 'simply' stay at home, socially a woman needed to work to prove herself to the world. Thus, in my mind, much was lost. The family structure was severed. Divorce rates went up and embracing the 'simplicity' of what made women truly unique and special began disappear into history. Things like canning, quilting, knitting, sewing, soap making, crafting in general, etc were done by very, very few. AND if a woman took this art into heer life, it was greatly thought that the woman was uneducated because otherwise she would be working.

Not only are women working right along side men in every aspect of society, now they are also domestically responsible AND women feel they need to bring back into their lives what most of our mothers and/or grandmothers shunned for decades. I see middle-aged women embracing sewing (among other crafts) now because growing up in the late 60's/70's educated, liberated women did not sew. Now... now it's okay to take on pre-world-war II, but just go ahead and add that to the list of all the other things women need to be doing.

I stand in the middle and I encourage all women to do the same because extremism has only given us discrimination and heart ache. Find your happy place and don't let social implications keep you from that place! I embrace being a woman and all that this title gives me. I am educated. I work. I stay at home. I am domestic. I am running... always running and will continue until the day I die.

Erick's found recipe:

Makes 4 servings
Prep time: 30 min

2 tbs unsalted butter
1 tbs vegetable oil
1 medium onion, sliced
2 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, and each cut into 8 wedges
1 Turkish bay leaf or 1/2 California
8 precooked bratwurst or Weisswurst
1 cup dry white wine
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 tbs cider inegar
1 tbs packed brown sugar

Preheat broiler.

Heat butter and oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until foam subsides, then cook onion and apples with bay leaf, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, stirring once or twice, until golden brown, about 6 minutes.

Meanwhile, split bratwurst lengthwise (not all the way through) and open up. Lightly brush cut sides of brats with additional oil and transfer to a shallow baking pan (split sides up).

Add wine to apple mixture, then simmer, covered, until apples are tender, 6 to 8 min. Remove lid and briskly simmer until liquid is reduced by 1/3, about 2 min.

While apples simmer, broil brats 4 to 5 inches from heat until browned, about 6 min.

Stir cream, vinegar and brown sugar into apple mixture and briskly simmer until slightly thickened, about 2 min. Discard bay leaf and serve apple compote over bratwursts.


Friday, October 15, 2010

Portland Marathon 2010

How this moment came about I really cannot say, but at one point I received an e-mail from Erick with a forward from my brother-in-law, Arron, early January showing me the registration for the Portland Marathon to be held on October 1oth, 2010. Erick writes, "Does it feel real yet?" It didn't.

In January I wasn't at my most unhealthy state, but I most certainly wasn't were I felt like I wanted to be either. I always told Erick that if I had a goal to drive me I could stick to an exercise program. So here it was. No more excuses.

Life moved forward and amazingly I found the time and determination to start running. Every mile was a great success for me. The hardest part was accepting my body as it was and accepting that my body wasn't the same as it once was and it would never be. This didn't mean that I could never be healthy again. This simply meant that after having children, after a massive amount of weight gain, my body was forever changed and getting through my runs was accepting my new body and learning new limits.

My first obstacle was my knee. It hurt. It swelled. It limited my running. After seeing doctor after physical therapist after specialist it wasn't until 3 days before the race that all was explained to me (nice hu?) My ligaments and tendons are loose and when I run they rub, which create swelling. Obviously I didn't let knee pain hold me back from training. I figured either nothing was going to happen or I'd be meeting these guys in the ER. I don't recommend this to my readers... these actions of mine were only done after no one was giving me any answers, and even so I came out lucky.

The next obstacle was making the time to get out there and just run. With planning around the girls and amazing support from Erick I was able to pound out the miles. At times I found myself running long miles around a high school track. Others I was in the gym watching cable tv, which can get pretty boring after 6 plus miles.

The first time I ran 8 miles, I thought I was going to die.

The first time I ran 10 miles, I thought I was going to die and couldn't run for a week due to blisters.

The first time I ran 15 miles, I may have suffered from heat exhaustion and very well could have died but I live by an old motto: "If it doesn't kill you, it makes you stronger."

The first time I ran 26.2 miles I ended up on practically bed rest, nursing a badly sprained left foot and bursitis in my right hip... yeah it's been interesting.

I write after the journey this time and because of that, so much is left unsaid. But keep checking in on me because the Vancouver Marathon is just around the corner and this boot on my foot is coming off on Monday.