Stella says, "Who's the principal of the United States? Remark O'Bottom?"
So you guys, I want to do a triathlon and I can't decide if it's a dumb idea.
Do you remember back in the spring when I posted about maintenance? It was after the 10K and the retreat were over, and I was saying I wanted to keep up the ability to run 6 miles without feeling like it was A Big Deal, and I wanted to keep my fingers callused enough to play guitar happily. My calluses are gone, alas, but I've been running longer distances (for me) regularly this summer. I thought about doing a fall half-marathon, but OH MAN those long runs are painful in the summer heat and humidity. So I think I'll do a fall 10K instead, without any lofty time goals.
But there's this October sprint triathlon that's been on my radar for a while: 275-yard swim, 12ish-mile bike, 5K run. Again, no lofty time goals. I just want to complete the event and not be last.
The big problem is that life is hectic during the semester. Is it selfish or foolish to train for a triathlon?
A secondary problem is that I sort of forgot how to swim between junior high and young adulthood, and I have been trying to figure it out for a while now with only modest success. Last fall I re-learned the breaststroke, and over the past couple of weeks I have been hacking away at my deep resistance to the front crawl. Over the summer in the adoration chapel I wrote myself a note: "You are very impatient with yourself as a learner." It's as true here as everywhere else. Two weeks ago I couldn't rotary-breathe at all, and now I can do it for a length. I think I'll sign up for some swim lessons when the fall session starts up.
Anyway, I see that as a secondary problem because I could breaststroke 275 yards; it would just be slow. And breaststroke isn't the best stroke for sharing lanes.
A tertiary problem is that my bike has hybrid tires and needs a tuneup. I love to ride it, though; it makes me happy. Most of my biking has been indoors this season, but not too long ago I took it out on a terrific 10-mile ride. Note to future Jamie: if you feel like you could outrun the cars on the stretch of road where the speed limit is 45, it means you have a serious tailwind. Save some oomph for the return trip.
Adaptation is a weird thing. I did a brick workout on Thursday (bike + run, in which one's legs feel like bricks at the start of the run) and it felt awful. Painful bike ride, painful run; I cut them both short because I just was not feeling it. I didn't exercise Friday or yesterday, but tonight when I hopped on the treadmill I felt fantastic. I cranked out 5 happy miles and then jumped in the pool for a quick swim. It's this weird cycle: work out frequently until you feel crummy, take a little time off, and TADA! feel like the Bionic Woman, if the Bionic Woman were 45 and slow-moving.
So. If I can run 5 miles and then swim more than the required distance, and feel as energized afterward as I do right now, I think I've got the endurance to finish the event without -- I don't know -- puking all over the support folks at a water station or lying down in the road a half-mile from the finish line. But I don't quite feel peaceful about registering. Is that prudence or fear? I do not know.
Hi, everybody, I'm back. Did you miss me? I have totally blown that summer resolution to blog 5 times a week or so, but it felt more burdensome than useful so I won't feel too guilty about it. The thing about being away is that I'm never quite sure where to jump in.
I met Jenny while I was visiting my parents. If I were a 2015 sort of blogger I would have selfies to share, but I am not. So I will just tell you, instead, about two curly-haired bloggers at a hipster-ish coffee shop, talking faith and homeschooling on a pleasant August evening.
Today I walked two of the boys up to campus to participate in a research project. Stella came along, but she was unenthusiastic about walking briskly on a warm day. When we got to the lab, she announced to the research assistant "I'm gazausted," a metathesis so charming I think I might adopt it myself. Later, as we drove to the pool, she was singing the Speed Racer theme song. (My husband bought the Speed Racer DVDs for the kids one Christmas, in memory of his favorite show from childhood.) With a little nostalgic pang I noticed that she sang the actual words this time ("go, Speed Racer!"), having figured out that it doesn't actually say "Ghost Eraser! Ghost Eraser! Ghost Eraser, go!"
Tomorrow is the faculty retreat. Normally I would do anything that my chair asked me to do -- she's terrific. But in May she asked me (all of us) to read a book that I just do not want to read. Although it is unlikely that she would find my blog by googling the book title, and unlikelier that she would care deeply about my lack of enthusiasm, I will tell you that it is not called Speeder Ship and the Blue Faience. (That might be an interesting book, huh? William goes head to head with Anakin, or something?) I will also not include the number of pages I have read so far, but just between you and me and the internet it is in the low single digits.
So. Time to read judiciously while my applesauce finishes simmering. I'll be back.
My 13yo has had a fair amount of unstructured time this summer. He was going to spend two weeks with Boy Scouts this summer; one set of plans fell through. He wanted to take scuba-diving, but it wasn't really set up for kids his age. Even the day trip he signed up for through our town's parks and rec department was canceled.
"I think you need a project," I told him. "What if you made a Lego city?"
I have heard a lot of moms say "We have a lot of Legos," but let me tell you: we have a LOT of Legos in this house. Four boys x Lego requests for every gift-giving occasion for years x (parents + grandparents + birthday party guests) = enough bricks to build the pyramids. We have a little uninsulated attic space over our front porch, and it is filled with Lego pieces.
Many, many Lego pieces.
It turns out that even though we have enough bricks to build the pyramids, we didn't have enough sand-like bricks to build a slice of Tatooine. Joe sank a bunch of his own money into buying beige bricks by the pound. He sank more time than we can count into creating rippled dunes and a giant underground clone trooper bunker, covered by more dunes. There is a clone trooper hero, ziplining down with multiple weapons to mow down droids.
There is an advancing drone army, doing its hive-mind best to plot the overthrow of the clone troopers.
There are many other things I could point out to you: the vulnerable position of the tank vis-a-vis the rocket launcher, the lone courageous clone trooper guarding the entrance to the bunker, the fierce combat that has left many corpses (or assemblages of nuts and bolts) facedown in the sand.
There is a boy, feeling very pleased with the fruits of his determination.
I am getting a jump start on dinner. I have a small piece of salmon, which I slide into a 400° oven dressed lightly with soy, lemon, and maple syrup. I pop some CSA beets in beside it, and prep the beet greens. They cook slowly in olive oil with red pepper flakes, slivered CSA garlic, and a sprinkle of salt, while the CSA sorrel soaks in cold water.
We're going to have crostini, with a choice of beet greens or last night's tangle of peppers and onions. Then we'll have the cooled fish with sorrel sauce, accompanied by beet wedges and gently marinated cucumbers. There's a gorgeous watermelon for afterward.
In the middle of these preparations, my 15yo comes up, phone in hand, and asks me if his friends can come over for games. This is a loose rotating arrangement, in which the parents take turns hosting on a Friday evening. The kids spend most of their time in the basement, but you can't have 5 teenagers over from 4:30 until 8 without feeding them.
Somehow I doubt they'll want to eat crostini with beet greens. (Or peppers.) And if I divide this piece of salmon among the lot of us, we might need loupes to find our microscopic portions amid the sea of vegetables.
So. What would Julia Child do? I have the feeling that she would burble her way to triumph, finding a way to make picky 15yo guests eat sorrel sauce and like it. What will Jamie do? I have the feeling she might order a pizza for them.
What would you do?
Stella and I are getting ready to go the CSA pickup.
Boy #1 sings to the tune of the Into the Woods prologue, the part about wishing to go to the festival: "I wish to pick up the vegetables!"
Boy #2, in his finest curmudgeonly tones, reminds him of the rule: "No singing at the dinner table."
Boy #1, pleased with the festival/vegetables almost-rhyme, rolls his eyes. "No HATING FUN at the dinner table."
Boy #2, "No, that's allowed. You see, Mom's allowed at the dinner table."
We have inside jokes that grew out of inside jokes, like a fourth-generation kombucha scoby or something.
(Hey! Wait! I didn't start this post intending to talk about kombucha. But! I think I have been drinking too much coffee. Just today I was thinking I should cut way down. Has anybody ever brewed kombucha who wants to tell me all about it? Or kum-ba-ya-cha, as my 15yo calls it?)
I am leading the beginners in my lovely summer women's running group again. Between participants and leaders there are about 70 of us altogether, ranging from very slow to very fast. And I have -- or had -- a little goofball secret known only to some of the ladies in my group: when the going gets tough, I sing the Rocky theme to them. (I do also offer real advice, like, "remember you can use your arm swing to help you up this hill." But in my opinion a little goofballery can improve most unpleasant situations.) Heading up a hill? Call on your inner Rocky. Struggling with an interval workout when the heat index is >100? Rocky will get you through. Sick and tired of this tempo run? At least no one will punch you in the face at the end of it!
This is such a silly and potentially annoying habit that I was a little embarrassed to see myself tagged on Facebook this morning. "Thank you, Jamie Most Gladly, for singing me to the end!"
Once there was a boy who loved the Pomatomus sock pattern so much that after his mother made him a pair of socks she also made him a Christmas hat. It's kind of an emphatic pattern, so she picked subdued yarn, a sober navy.
Two years ago, when his mother got it into her head to make Elizabeth Zimmermann's nether garments with her worsted scraps, the navy blue kicked things off. There's a sober navy ribbed waistband, and some sober navy short rows to accommodate some curves, and then the party starts. (Also, the third-person references to the knitter in question end.)
The navy blue got speckled with the lavender I used to make a cabled hat and mittens for my goddaughter in the weeks around the beginning of my first teaching job. Next came the purple and baby pink that ambushed me at the yarn store and turned into a striped Gaudete soaker for baby Stella. I must have had to reach way around my pregnant belly to knit it up, since I was approximately 86 weeks pregnant on the day I made it.
Then come some Noro leftovers, from my son's felted entrelac dice bag and my lovely Lanesplitter. There's some beige left from my first foray into felting, the purse that inspired a blanket. I read a boatload of Harry Potter to my boys while knitting up that yarn.
The next bit is more recent, made with the brown yarn I used for a cardigan with a pretty back detail. Then things get a little weird. I thought, "No one will ever see these who's not related to me." (Except the internet, natch.) I'll use up that Manos from the camo cardigan. And what will harmonize with the Manos? How about that screaming yellow-orange purchased for dragon flames and later made into a Lego man's head?
Oh, dear, that might not have been my best idea. But! Onward! Next there should be a nice calming ocean! (Gray from the felted laptop cover my oldest son requested; blue from the Lego man's pants.) And what's under the waves? Why, a cheery lavender octopus, of course!
At this point, months ago, I became discouraged. I thought I knew what gauge I'd get with Cascade 220 and a size 8 needle. I was wrong. This is a rookie mistake, but reader, I made it. I thought I was going to wind up with a skin-tight lavender octopus that would be (a) a colossal pain to knit and (b) supremely unflattering, and so my pajamas slid into the Why Bother? knitting black hole of shame. Between then and now I lost a bunch of weight (which is a post I keep meaning to write) and gained a bunch of determination and by golly, I made myself an octopus. (His mate is around back.)
Long long ago I read a story about a girl who wore patchwork clothes because she was poor. She was teased mercilessly for them, but one day when she competed in the spelling bee the yellow silk patch from her gay and beautiful Aunt Something-Something's favorite dress seemed to sing to her in her aunt's voice, telling her just how to spell Mississippi. She won the spelling bee.
I think if I were ever to wear these pajamas out in public I'd be in for even more ribbing than the girl in the story, and I doubt my octopus would sing to me. (But is he not super-cute, even he if is silent? Does he not almost compensate for the weirdness of the, like, heraldic mac and cheese above him (nouilles or, crossed, on a field tenné)? But the idea is similar: almost every yarn I am using is steeped in memories of a particular place and time, of fashioning a particular gift for a particular person. I started using these yarns when I was worried about whether I could handle a tiny slip-stitch project, and somewhere along the way I turned into a seat-of-the-pants octopus knitter.
These are probably the weirdest thing I've ever made, but they make me happy anyway.
I'm linking up with Kendra for the first time.
1. How did you celebrate the 4th of July?
With Shakespeare, like all the patriotic Americans. I got up early and ran 6 happy miles, after which we went to a lovely accessible outdoor production of a kid-friendly Shakespeare play. In the afternoon we hosted some family and went to the kids' museum. We have a deep divide in our family about fireworks; the people who like them set some off while the people who detest them stayed inside. My husband made chicken jalfrezi with komatsuna for dinner, because we were celebrating the melting potness of this fine country. (Actually, it was because our summer meal plan features Subcontinent Saturday and this week's CSA veggies included komatsuna. Which wasn't going to eat itself.)
2. Do you sunburn easily?
I am a redhead. If I even think about the sun for too long, I will sunburn.
3. Hot dogs. Yay or nay?
I'll eat a hot dog. Just not a Chicago-style hot dog, because YEA VERILY the Lord did not intend for people to be putting tomato wedges on their hot dogs.
4. Have you ever personally set off fireworks?
Do sparklers count?
5. Have you ever jumped off the high dive?
Yes. It's been a long time, though.
6. Do you do anything weird in your sleep?
Not in recent years, as far as I know. But I used to dream frequently that I had to communicate something important even though I was banned from speaking English. One night, early in our marriage, I dreamed that I needed urgently to get a message across to my husband but I was only allowed to use the word "bougainvillea." (At this time I did not know the definition of bougainvillea, but apparently my dream-brain thought it was a cool word.) Elwood awoke to my shouting "bougainvillea! BOUGAINVILLEA! BOUGAINVILLEA!" in house-on-fire tones.
I am sitting with my 15yo, who is full of blog post suggestions.
When he saw that I had typed "All The Things" in the title box, he said, "Are you going to lament your inability to get things done around the house?"
When I said I wasn't sure what I was going to write about, he said, "Maybe you could write a post about mothering inadequacies that you don't actually need to worry about."
I said, "Do I do that often?"
"Enough that I notice," he told me. "What about a rant on the importance of a free-range childhood? Or how people need to support public breastfeeding? A review of a book you loved by an author who's been dead for at least a hundred years? A recent interest observed in one of your children that's somehow a metaphor for parenting?"
So...then...I just transcribed the conversation and prepared to shut up the laptop. My husband is reading us the new ICD-10 codes and I'd hate to miss out. Did that injury occur because your boat was on fire, or were your waterskis on fire? Those ICD-10 codes are not the same. And if your doctor uses W59.2 when you were actually bitten by a tortoise (not a turtle), your insurer might not reimburse.
PS In the interest of accuracy I said, "Wait, which one is tortoise-induced injury?" There was a choral snort from the 15yo and his father. "How many times do we have to tell you?" they wanted to know. It's a tough crowd here, I'm telling you.