Wednesday, February 25, 2015

This & that

  • I write more when I am able to run regularly. I’m not sure why it’s so, I just know that it’s the truth. Since I'm not yet back to running, my posting has gone way down. 
  • Kent’s eating Brussels sprouts regularly, which is good because he doesn’t always eat a lot of vegetables (except in the summer, when it’s salad season). But it’s bad, too, because I think Brussels sprouts stink to high, high heaven.
  • I’ve started the initial steps to fill up my work pipeline again. This contract ends March 20—it’s been great, and I’ve enjoyed it a lot. I hope the next gig is as fun.
  • I think about sewing stuff, but just as with my blog posts, when I’m not running, sewing goes by the wayside too. Maybe it’s more that my creative side gets ignored when I can’t run.
  • Speaking of which, I’m working hard to get back into shape. The weather’s precluded running but that’s OK. I have other workouts to do, and so I’ve been doing yoga, aerobics and some other strength workouts. I’m staying away from doing purely weights for strength—I think I need the flexibility component from yoga or Pilates and a weight workout doesn’t give me that.
  • We made falafel tacos last week from a recipe I got from a friend. Oh my word, they are amazing.In fact they were so amazing, we had them again this week. 
  • Kent and I both read the Southern Reach trilogy while on vacation. It’s sort of science fiction, sort of not and definitely weird but quite good. If you like books that don’t spell everything out in stone and that are a bit ambiguous and/or weird, these might be the books for you.  

Thursday, February 12, 2015

I'll be watching you

I am a people watcher, always have been. Going on vacation just changes where I do the watching. So here are some of the people we saw this week in Cancun.

An Asian woman in her early 30s—she was thin, and wore a two piece suit and sunglasses. She had long hair, nearly to her waist, and had colored it some sort of honey color. Or perhaps the sun had done that, stripped the color from her hair and left it looking a bit wan. She stayed at the beach most of the day, putting her hair up, taking it down, rolling over this way and that. She’d also saved the beach chair next to her for someone who never showed up. I wondered if her companion had just overdone it the day before—either too much booze or sun could do that to you—or if they’d had a fight. The other person never did show up and she finally left.

A family of three—tall father, slightly tall mother, both lean with a born-that-way look. The daughter was either a very tall pre-teen or else a slightly tall young teen. What caught my eye first was the daughter’s braid. She had very long hair and the first time I saw her, she’d braided her hair into a braid almost as thick as my wrist. Her mother had nice hair too but not like the daughter’s. Kent noticed the family dynamics: all three clearly had high regard for each other. As he said, so often you see pre-teens or teens sullenly going along with the family vacation, there because they were forced to be there. But not this family. They sat near us a couple of days, and we saw them when we were having drinks at happy hour and they just seemed to enjoy the heck out of each other.

A gaggle (no other way to describe it) of English women who knew each other, some of them clearly on friendlier terms than others, but all at least good acquaintances. We finally decided they were probably all flight attendants there after a long haul flight. We saw them two days in a row and then poof! They were gone.

Two couples who, I swear, never left the pool—specifically never left the bar at the pool, although they pretty much stayed in the pool. One of the women had three or four random tattoos on her back, as though they’d happened accidentally. The tattoos didn’t have any shared theme that I could tell and at least one was not in color. I wondered what made her get those, what if anything they meant to her. They were so random, in fact, that I wondered if she'd lost a bet. The two guys never, ever left the pool which led me to believe they just peed in it for three straight days.

A couple of senior couples—these were the ones I especially liked to see because I hope Kent and I are like that when we reach that age. They were moving slowly but clearly enjoying the warmth, the view and their time together. 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Back to basics

In physical therapy, I did a lot of very basic, fairly boring exercises. I’m sure my PT (Diana) started me on the same set that everyone gets when they’re being seen for the issues I had:

  • Standing bent arm rows with a resistance band
  • Standing straight arm rows with a resistance band
  • Toe dips
  • Bridge

And so on. Even though my level of fitness had slipped by the time I started PT, those exercises were ridiculously easy. So she changed some and took away or added others:

  • Still did the rows but got a resistance band at the top of the resistance chart (so now I use the stretchy one for doing hamstring stretches)
  • An 8-count toe dip For this one, you bring your left leg to table top (1), then the right leg to meet the left leg (2); keep the right leg up and dip the left toe to the ground and bring it up to table top again (3 and 4)—repeat on the right side (5, 6) and then place each leg back on the ground in the starting position (7, 8). That’s one rep. Do that 20 times. 
  • Bridge variation: while in bridge and with your knees together, straighten the right leg and then place back on the ground. Repeat on the left side. That’s one rep—do 20 reps. 

And then I got a lot of upper body exercises to do on my half noodle—again, none of these were new or exciting but they were quite effective. That got me thinking about how often we gussy up workouts or think we need some special equipment or supervisor when really, no we don’t.

I remember going through a fitness assessment about 15 years ago when I joined a gym. The assessment consisted of stepping up on a stair and then down again, as fast as possible for three minutes (I think, it was a fairly short interval); sitting on the floor with my legs straight out in front of me and reaching for my toes several times (to check flexibility); I believe I also did timed sit ups. That was all there was to it, and at the time I wasn’t in very good shape so I was sore afterwards. I remember thinking that I ought to just do those assessment exercises and save my money but of course I didn’t do that. I didn’t really use the gym either.

Think about how the military tests fitness: for the Army, you do a two mile run, then timed sit ups (two minutes) and timed pushups (from your toes, not your knees and also two minutes). Talk about low rent, all you need is space and a place to run.

So I’m trying to refocus my idea of exercise and workouts. If simple gets good results, why do I need to go chase the newest shiny routine? Other than boredom, which is real and definitely the enemy of staying on track with fitness, why do I need to shake things up all the time?

Monday, February 2, 2015

A fridge of one's own

I listen to BBC World news in the mornings because I get up before Morning Edition comes on. About 10 days ago, I listened to a BBC World News story about a family in India that had saved and saved in order to buy their first ever refrigerator. Not only was it their first, it was the first one in their village. In the interview, the wife talked about how much time she spent on food preparation every day because almost nothing could be stored without spoiling or going bad. I’m not sure why that stuck with me but it has and I’ve been thinking about life without a refrigerator ever since.

My fridge
Think about it. I’m sure you’ve heard about places that don’t have electricity, or plumbing. Those are real problems, but the scope and scale is so large I can hardly wrap my head around living that way permanently as a way of life.

But a fridge is something else. If you’ve got a fridge then you have some form of electricity, and you probably have access to indoor plumbing too. If you don’t have a fridge, though, your daily life will be different. To be honest, I hadn’t even realized how not having a fridge would affect me until I heard that story.

My entire approach to cooking and meal planning and even grocery shopping would have to change. If you can’t refrigerate left overs, then you have to cook just enough for today. And you have to go buy your food every day. But you can’t take advantage of food sales because you don’t have a way to refrigerate or freeze the extras for later. You can’t cook in bulk either. I have a friend who, no joke, cooks a month’s worth of food for her family of six one weekend a month. That’s only possible because she’s got a big honking deep freeze.

Certainly in our first world environment, I could get around this by eating out every day. And I know people who do just that, even while owning both a fridge and a stove. But what if you live in a small village with no restaurants? What if you are the cook? Then it’s all on you, always, daily.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

A catch up post

Happy February!

I’ve graduated from physical therapy. While I’m not 100% with either issue, I am pretty confident I can continue making good progress on my own. My shoulder is so much better, and I’ve never had this much flexibility through my arms. The piroformis issue remains so-so. Running is still a struggle and I think this one is just going to take more time, plus a whole lot of diligence with the rehab exercises and also the muscle releases (with a tennis ball which, yes, is as painful as it sounds—you try rolling your butt around on a tennis ball and see if you think it feels good).

And we just had a great visit from Ben and Jen and the kids. Jen’s parents live about 40 miles from us, so they were able to get in good visits with everyone. Also I can check Lego-Land off my to-do list now!

I’ve tried Brussels sprouts again—I believe it’s a good idea to revisit foods I don’t like on the off chance my taste buds have changed. In this case, no, no they have not. So I’m thinking that’s probably the last time I give the little cabbages of doom a try. 

And please take my word for it that no matter how amazing your Brussels sprouts recipe is, unless I cannot taste them one little bit (in which case why am I eating them?), I won’t like your version either. I promise.