Friday, June 13, 2014

May 27, 2014

Today's walk was interesting. I came to the park/library because it's my favorite place to walk and where i'd been doing 3 to 4 miles a few weeks ago, now I barely completed 2 miles before I'd had enough.

Now, notice that I didn't say that I was too tired. The reality is that walking isn't particularly exhausting. I get sweaty, I can get winded, and I can get tired, but the truth is that pushing my body to the limit isn't something I've ever really come up against. There's a definite psychology behind physical efforts that I want to work on.

What I mean is that there is the usual effort of getting off my butt to go and do some exercise. The procrastination side of this obstacle has been analyzed and beaten to a bloody pulp. But what about the part that addresses endurance? I've established that I'm out of shape, so I'm not talking about anything impractical like expecting me to run a marathon. I was just thinking that so far, I've set my goals to be dictated by schedule. Meaning, I started with an expectation of 30 minutes of walking because that's what doctors say is a good average to work with. Then I extended the walk time because in 30 minutes, I'd fall just short of the two mile mark. So then I shifted my goal to be a 2-mile walk, regardless of time. Then I started doing 5Ks and found that I always walk a perfect 1hour/3mile. That became my default walk because it was a nice and neat little, round number goal on both counts: time and distance.

Here's the thing. When I finish the 3 miles, I'm never exactly collapsing or feeling like I can't take another step. I'm always still perfectly capable of walking across the park, stadium, canyon where the walk took place to get to my car. So, the reality is that the word "tired" is actually one that refers to my level of interest. Once I've met my goal, my brain shifts and tells me that I'm done here and can stop. This means that, really, I stop because I don't want to go on any more, not because I can't go on any more.

To take it one step further, this means that as much as I've at least gotten off my butt and been somewhat proactive about being less sedentary, I've also been too lenient on myself and am kidding myself in terms of my actually making a real effort.

Take this morning's walk, for instance. I've walked up to 4 miles in the past, and still not been (the true definition of ) exhausted. Even then, I could have continued. So, for me to have just called it quits today at the 2 mile mark is a cop-out. I wasn't tired. I was bored/uninterested/uninspired/unmotivated and excused myself from further effort even though i'd barely broken a sweat.

I think I need to shift how I experience physical exercise. I need to work towards learning where my real limits are, not the mental ones. For example, the 5K that I did last summer was on a very hot day and with no shade. I really did have to slow my pace so as not to overheat, and then when I reached the end, I sat under some bleachers for a while to cool down and stabilize my heart rate as well as core temperature. I honestly felt like I wouldn't be able to walk all the way across the valley to my car, even with the promise of AC. I was physically at one of my limits: heat. With heat exhaustion and fainting in my history, I knew not to push further from this edge.

Outside of heat, I have not really pushed for a physical limit in terms of stamina. I was thinking I might try a 10k next, just to keep working towards a healthier view of my own expectations. If my only concern is sun and heat, I can focus on participating on night events because the evenings are cool and that takes out that issue all together. It's also why I like early morning walks, when there is still dew and the air is cool.

This realization, this morning has really disappointed me. I'm so demanding when it comes to being self-aware and not excusing myself from progress or hiding behind mood swings to blame for stagnation. Yet, I've neglected my physical health such that I have let myself believe that any half-assed attempt is enough. It is not. My health is primary. This is the only body I get and I don't want to be 5 years down the line, blaming genetics or a progression of ailments on my deteriorating health and growing inactivity. It's a vicious circle that I have no interest in indulging and will stop as best I can.

May 25, 2014


Night #3 of nature cam and still no culprit. I'm fascinated to discover just how active our backyard is after sundown. I haven't included our own two cats and dog in this montage, nor the four other opossums that made an appearance.

May 24, 2014


And then eat them, of course. 

I've never made them at all, campfire or not.

May 24, 2014


Somewhere I have a rapidly growing file of playbills to all the theater, musical, opera productions that I go to. I have this idea that I want to make something out of all the covers but I'm not sure what yet, so I'm waiting for the imagination to ferment. The easy and obvious choice would be a sort of quilt, but that's too predictable plus I don't want something that would require display space. My teen years' phase of posters on bedroom walls are long past and I'm trying to think of something a bit more practical but interesting. I'll let it come to me.

Last night was great fun. I hadn't gone out with my friend in a while. I'd seen her but mostly we'd been visiting each other for dinner or BBQs. We hadn't been to something eventful for a couple of months so it was good to get out into the streets of LA and do some laughing.

We were (I was) wrong about the traffic. We made it to Hollywood in a record breaking 45 minutes which meant we had another 45 to kill and since Pink's Hot Dogs is right off of Melrose, we just back tracked a couple of miles and went to get a late night snack:

We had time to do the line wait, sit in the patio and eat, and then drive back to the show venue. I don't know who these people are in the picture. We were standing behind them in line to go into the comedy club here and chatting with the couple behind us who we ended up getting seated with.



I decided to get mildly tipsy. I've never been much for getting drunk. My usual line is at three. I'm not that big a girl so if I don't eat, it can go right to my head quickly. With that said, I can actually hold my liquor surprisingly well. I'm comfortable with three drinks and can make them last all night but if I drink more, there's not much more effect, I sort of plateau. I'm me, only moreso, is what my friends say. Last night I had a house drink plus a pear ale that they were pushing. It was better than I thought it'd be. But it was huge, served in a pilsner glass that you then get to take home. I asked if I could just get a regular glass since I wasn't interested in keeping the glass but that wasn't an option. On the plus side, they were good, sturdy, dense quality glass and not the kind with some cheesy engraving serving as propaganda. They were actually cool. No markings, and well made. Of course, we left them at our table on our way out, not even thinking to take them with us. Ah well. I had planned on giving mine to my friend to give to her boyfriend because he is a beer connoisseur. I figured if I gave her mine, they'd at least have a pair. It would have just been a random glass in my cupboard.

Got home equally quickly and was getting into bed by 1:30. Far too late to do the nature cam set up in the darkness of the yard, so I just threw out a short, "Don't get eaten!" out my window and hoped for the best. This morning I went out early to see them and they are all fine. I fed and watched them for a while. It was 60 degrees, early in the morning and I was in shorts and a verrrrrry thin pj blouse. (Thin enough that I was making a mental note to get back to my room before others woke up and we crossed in the hallway). The cool air felt so lovely, a light dew hoovering in the air. I love that time of the day. There's such a calm silence. Even the birds aren't yet in their mid-day symphonic frenzy.

May 22, 2014

I've started a list.  It is written with a sense of whimsy and desire to remedy some silly oversights that I continue to discover/realize about myself once in a while.  Every-day kinds of experiences that most people have had that for whatever reason (maybe cultural, maybe access) I still haven’t experienced, myself.

This is a list of Simple Things I've Never Gotten Around To (STINGA).

This list will be organically documented. I have no set number. All I can do is add another item to the list when it presents itself. It’ll be a living list. It will be slow-to-build list with points that are going to make themselves known to me as I go about my quotidian ways.

We'll start with one that I've mentioned in the past and still hasn't happened:


This was sparked by some pictures my mom was showing me of my parents' trip through the Baltic Sea last summer. I'm not sure where it was taken - Russia, Estonia, Denmark - somewhere, there's a picture of my dad flying a kite. My mom was laughing and telling me how gleeful he was that day. There's also another picture of him in Mexico last month, on a tree swing. Dad's 83. My dad never grew up and it's one of my absolutely favorite things about him. I believe that I can proudly say that this seems to be one of the characteristics of his that overlap with mine and which I like. He has a playfulness about him plus he will try anything once.

May 20, 2014 (Continued)

New babies. Six Golds, two Shubunkins, two High Fin Banded Sharks (not a shark). The only survivors of the last free meal are the guppies, so they're still in there swimming around with not a care in the world. Probably too small to see and squirrely to catch. The joke has become that we're going to end up with a fountain full of guppies we can barely see.

This fish mystery has become quite the project. I’ve just purchased a nature cam on amazon but it won’t arrive until Thursday. Mom says she’s going to put a tarp over the fountain at night which I don’t see as much of a deterrent except in the hopes that I might hear rustling from my bedroom window. Then we went to our neighbor’s to borrow her baby monitor (long shot since daughter is 7 now) and of course, she just recently gave it away. I just wanted something to see me through Thursday when we get the cam.
There’s a chill tonight so I’ve closed my windows but I’m going to open one after all and maybe the added obstacle of a plastic tarp will make enough noise to alert me in the event of a visitor.

There are a number of suspects so far:

I’m betting on opossums simply because they’re nocturnal and that’s when the fish have been disappearing.

Yes, owls and predatory birds are nocturnal as well but I’ve never seen an owl around here and although there is an active and local red-shouldered hawk, I think that a hawk catching fish would make for at least a little bit of commotion and splashing.

The people at the fish store and the guy at the camera shop all said that raccoons often eat pond fish but, again, I’ve never seen a raccoon in this specific area. They’re in Huntington Beach and I’ve seen them along the coastal cities, but as much as we have quite the active population of fauna in our yard, raccoons have never been spotted.

A new suspect was added to the lineup this evening. After we introduced the new fish babies to the fountain and were letting them settle in, I came back inside and mom did some minor gardening. Not long after, she yelled at me from the yard that there was a crow up in the phone cables, directly over the fountain. Crows are not allowed in the backyard. The mockingbirds are very strict about that rule. Crows belong in the front yard. They’re never allowed to perch for very long in any of the neighboring roofs, cables, or the big telephone pole nearest us. They are always aggressively chased away. But I’m wondering if a gap in scheduling could give them a window of opportunity either late in the evening or early in the morning, when the mockingbirds are sleeping and the crows can sneak in for a brief moment.

I’ve told Cleo that this lack of attention to invaders has put her in real danger of not having her contract renewed. She doesn't seem particularly troubled by this announcement. There was a half-assed tail wag and a u-turn back into the living room in a pleasant trot. I guess the “we love all animals” training in her earlier years sunk in a little too well. She is currently snoring.


Feel free to place your bets, by the way.


Later that evening, the question of Cleo's inactivity prompted me to check my records and, sure enough, there's a notation in Cleo's file about her agreed-upon retirement date. Seems she's been off duty for the last couple of years and I've not only neglected to mark the occasion but have unfairly continued to expect her to meet her obligations. We discussed my error this morning and she - ever gracious - has accepted my apologies with little ado. She says that while she does enjoy the occasional posturing and chasing of a foreign element, her senses aren't what they used to be so it would be unfair of her to promise or commit to the level of quality that she once was able to meet. I thanked her for her candor and reiterated my regret at my oversight. There were some kisses on my knee and now, having done her (informal) rounds of the backyard, she is napping again.

May 20, 2014 and still backtracking...

Waiting for mumsy to return from some errands. We're going to go get more fish babies to replace the ones that got eaten again by some foreign predator...

I'm going to put a night vision motion activated camera out there to see what the heck is going on. The last batch that we had for a whole 4 days was during the heat wave which means that I slept with both windows wide open and only yards away from the fountain. I heard nothing so this bugger is coming around during the wee hours of the morning when I'm most likely in my deepest sleep.

This has become a battle of wills. So far:
Mystery Predator: like 6 or something
Me: zero.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

April 22, 2014 - The Butter of the Gods


Currently, I'm drooling, tearing, and dripping from the nose. I've made guacamole from the only avocado I had standing by. I went out into the yard with a flashlight, hoping to find another avocado that might be ripe and ready to add to the bowl, but the only one that looked even close was hard as a rock. I've brought it in but set it aside to ripen in the next few days. This means I had to do with the already smooshed, small avocado and the already diced huge jalapeno. I used two roma tomatoes instead of one, in the hopes of bulking up the tiny concoction, but it seems to have done very little to dilute the capsaicin so I'm washing down the tortilla chips and guacamole with orange-ade which is actually mandarin-ade from the mandarins in the yard.

You'd think I'd give up, but I've pretty much downed the whole bowl and am pretty happy.

March 31, 2014 - Part Dos

So, the more I work on stuff, the more I declutter and also enjoy some creative time. All this craft time had me brainstorming and then I fell in love with a shed. Yes, a shed. I really, really, really, really want this.

Instead of a green house, i'd make a studio out of it. It would fit perfectly in the far corner of the yard and it's exactly the room I need to keep making things and even just to do some writing. The only obstacle is that I can find it for $1800 at the lowest and although I have it, I'm struggling with justifying the purchase. Plus,
it would mean I'd have to take dad's two small makeshift sheds down and he'd be miffed at that. So, I'm thinking of waiting until he returns and then showing him what I want. If I propose that buying a smaller one for him, organized and not made of of scrap and then putting this one in front of his, he might go for it. With dad, I think sometimes he needs to see a finished product and he'll be more receptive. I think just telling him to get rid of that eyesore puts him a defensive level, and he argues that it serves a purpose. He doesn't understand that purpose can also be attractive until he sees it. Plus, I think that there's a certain amount of lead that my dad will follow when I'm the lead. I'm less intrusive than mom and rarely ask anything of him. My approach is usually not coming from a judgemental/naggin place but from inspiration, which he can relate to more willingly.

In any case, this has been my obsession all weekend. I keep imagining how i'd organize the space: drawers of media, bulletin board, shelves for bins and books. *sigh*

There should be a Santa for big people.

March 31, 2014 - What I've Been Up To



A couple of fridays ago, a friend and I went to Paleyfest, an event put on by the Paley Center, a museum/library archive of film and television. They organize a series of panel events in theaters around LA/Hollywood, inviting cast and creators of popular TV shows. Last year I went to see the cast of The Newsroom (HBO) and this year the only show my friend and I were interested in seeing was the cast of Mad Men. So we went to that and they showed the last episode of last season to refresh our memories on where we left off and then they brought out the cast and did the interview and then there was a Q&A.

Meanwhile, back at home, I've brought down more boxes from the garage and pulled out the ones under my bed and have shuffled through everything and re-sorted what goes where, what is for keeping, what I haven't even looked at and can be disposed of, etc. I made two boxes just of craft/projects that I can go to when I'm bored and have some time (like now) so now I don't just have random project ideas in various drawers, boxes, bins all over. Now things are consolidated and I know what I have and have even bundled the items of one project together in large zipper bags so as to have them organized. Whatever project I want to work on, I just pull out that bag and I can do that. They are little things like spray painting a mini-bulletin board/key holder for my bedroom entrance, designing a hanging shelf tier for the tiny corner of my bedroom that is going unused, and creating a bouquet for one of the shelves. That kind of thing.




I pulled two projects out last night and worked on those. One was a Jenga game for my client/friend. She says her family likes the game and I asked her if she's played with "fun instructions" and she didn't know what I was talking about. So I bought a set of Jenga tiles and made two versions of the game. I wrote numbers on the ends of the tiles so that when the tower falls, instead of counting tiles, everyone adds up the numbers on their tiles to see who won. The second version is to write silly instructions on some tiles, not all. If you get a tile with an instruction you have to do what it says, like do a cartwheel, sing a nursery song, etc. I'll give it to her today when she comes over with her payment.

I also made silly spa gifts for two other friends. Years ago... and I do mean years... we did a road trip to the Salton Sea. It was only a day trip but we left at 6am to have a hefty pancake breakfast at a dive before the 400 mile round trip into the desert. I insisted on driving because to me a road trip is mostly fun if I get to drive. By the time we got back home, 20 roadside stops later, it was 1am and our last leg had been through a mountainous state park just north of the border which I'd hoped we wouldn't have to take in the dark... but we did. We had such a blast. Our purpose was to stop along the way to see any kitschy touristy stuff like the dinosaur-shaped museum, the anti-gravity hill, the oldest orange tree in California, etc. There's some pretty hilarious video of me falling, pictures of lots of roadside food, and even some science experiments. 

Anyway, the destination was supposed to be the mud flats on the east side of the lake but when we got there, they weren't bubbling. They'd gone dry for the season so we just walked around and saw lots of dirt. But it was this powdery, clay consistency, and since the whole point was that they are rich in minerals, we looked around and pulled a bucket that I conveniently had in my trunk and filled it with the dry clay and brought it home. Well the damned bucket has been in my trunk all this time and I finally got around to buying some really beautiful heavy glass jars and have distributed the clay for each of them. I've added some honey straws and some recipes for home-made facials that they can try. Tied the honey straws and recipes to a lovely ribbon around the jar neck and they are ready to go.