Sunday, March 1, 2015

It Went Great

I guess only my hip-to-knees region is Pepto Bismol pink. False advertising. Sorry. Also, I'm blonde now. 
I did it! Go me! There were no hiccups at all. I ran at the pace I intended to and even finished in the top half (tee-hee! Faster than 12,528 other people but slower than 7653) I want to say "it has CHANGED me!" We'll see if that turns out to be true. I am awfully proud of myself though. 20,182 people finished the race. That is a lot of people.  

Getting up at 2 AM turned out to be no problem. I ate my half a bagel with peanut butter and got a cup of coffee in the lobby then I met Kirsten and we got on the bus. There were thousands of people who were also doing the same things at the same time. I saw them doing it. Nobody seemed tired or as if we were doing anything unpleasantly unusual. We were all psyched. 

I mentioned that Disney is HUGE. I can't emphasize that enough. Our twenty-something-thousand-person race was just one thing that was going on on an ordinary day at Disney World. The scale just hasn't truly sunken in yet. Kirsten and I were shocked to find ourselves sitting in a traffic jam on the bus on the way to the course at 3:30 AM. Then we noticed that much of the traffic was big tour busses from our resort and from other resorts loaded with other runners. Imagine a traffic jam stretching on for miles made up of giant tour busses. Tour busses filled with thousands of people dressed up as princesses (and princes and frogs - I saw two frogs - and Elvis and Priscilla Presley and Prince.)

The view after getting off our bus

The view from my spot in my pre-start corral
It was a cool morning, in the fifties. I believe my group started about forty-five minutes after the first group did. There was a pre-race entertainment crew performing near the first corral, corral A, whose schtick was broadcast to us all over jumbotrons. When my corral arrived at the starting line the MCs made us sing the first stanza of "Don't Stop Believin'" before we could go. Though I hate Journey I didn't mind. It was fun and I was excited. 

After that it was kind of a blur. I focused on my strategy: start out slow and save some energy for the end. Pretty standard. It worked well. We ran or walked from Epcot to The Magic Kingdom and back through Epcot. On the way people would stop and line up to have their photos taken with characters like Aladdin, Cruella DeVille, Jack Sparrow and Mary Poppins and Bert. 

Running through the Magic Kingdom was kind of magical, I have to admit. It was pretty neat to be running up Main Street towards Cinderella's Castle with crowds cheering you on. I didn't take photos.

The sun came up and we kept running. People lined the course handing out water, sports beverage, Gu and encouragement. At the last half-mile there was a fantastic gospel choir singing. The course was very curvy at that point and I thought back to all the lines for rides I'd stood on the day before and how the curves made the length of the line appear deceptive. I wondered if this was some kind of Disney "you're almost there! No you're not!" joke. 

Finally there was the finish line and I was running towards it, amazed that I, me, had got myself in a position where I'd be racing people. Not just racing people but finishing and beating people. So strange!

I crossed the finish line pumping my arms over my head. Then what do you do? You follow the crowd. I got my medal and my fairy dust, my mesh bag, my drink and snacks. I walked through the barriers and it was done. I felt fine.

Long story short - I reunited with Pete and Kirsten and her husband, Ben, we caught the bus back to our hotel for some freshening up, then we went to Disney's Hollywood Studios


How has it "changed me?" Well now I see myself as someone who can do something. I got a medal for doing something. I did something that other people generally agree was worth doing and should be rewarded. Other people might be impressed if I tell them I did this. 

Most people have no idea what to think about most of the other things I do. I can't really blame them. They don't know from looking at a five-by-four-foot canvas covered with giant paper and crochet strawberries, pom-poms, glitter and mysterious mounds of white stuff that I spent months working on it, figuring out how exactly to express what I wanted to express, arranging everything so it's just exactly the way I want it to be, fretting that I might never get it to be "good enough." They may look at it and wonder why anyone would make such a thing. Most people may just look at it and think nothing at all. 

As seen in this entry
The things I think are important are not the things most people think are important. That's okay with me. It's just refreshing to finally have done something that I can explain to others in five words and have them smile and approve. 

Anyway, TRIUMPH! 


Kirsten celebrates her success with champagne in the shade behind the finish line stands
I am making a list of things I've learned from training for and running this half-marathon. For example I learned that some people chafe when they run and I am lucky that I don't. I also found out about "Shot Blocks" and "Gu" and what you're supposed to do with them. You're supposed to eat them if you're going to be running for longer than an hour to keep your muscles properly fueled so it feels easier to keep going. Shot blocks are much harder to chew at twenty degrees Fahrenheit than they are at sixty (I learned that too.) My favorite Gu flavor is Salted Caramel, which I prefer to Chocolate Outrage. Also, I don't recommend wearing glitter toenail polish if you're going to run more than five miles as the glitter can cling to your socks and yank your toenails around. Yep, that's gonna be some list. You should look out for it in coming weeks. 



Saturday, February 21, 2015

My First Half

I'm going to be running in the Disney Princess Half Marathon tomorrow so here I am at Disney at the Pop Century resort having this breakfast:


There's no way I'm going to eat all of that. The bagel's for tomorrow (when we have to get up in time to catch a 3:30 bus to get in place for a 5 AM start). I got this breakfast because I really wanted the biscuit and this was the only way. I wanted the eggs and bacon too - and I wouldn't say no to French toast. 

Pete and I are here with my high-school friend, Kirsten, and her husband, Ben. It was Kirsten's idea to do this. She suggested it to me back in July when I was visiting down in D.C. I'd never imagined I'd do anything with the word "marathon" in it but it sounded fun and here I am. It has been fun, and very interesting, to train for this. More on that later. 

For now, here we are at Disney World for the first time. It's wild here. In a way it's kind of like Vegas. Last night, inexplicably, we took a boat to Downtown Disney. 

Disney's a whole other series of posts. You can't just call up, get a hotel room and come on down. There are Magic Bands and photo plans and Fast Passes and reservations and a whole bunch of research-ahead preparations to make that they keep e-mailing you about. I made as few as possible because I HAVE A LOT OF OTHER STUFF I HAVE TO DO just like most people. It's really as if you needs preliminary trip to Disney so you can plan your trip to Disney. 

Now that we're here it turns out to be even HUGER than I'd ever imagined. 

My plan for today is to head over to the Expo Center and pick up a bunch of pink sparkly swag then go on some rides I guess. Tomorrow I'll be running 13.1 miles dressed like a big, tall swig of sparkly Pepto Bismol - assuming there are no hiccups. 

Watch this space?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

I Look Dumb


I'm not a great sports dresser. Probably because I'm physically incompetent and I don't think I should look too flashy when I'm doing something athletic. It could set up false expectations. Also, I have no class. I couldn't resist these ridiculous pink tights. Oh well, I am what I am. And to be honest I like it that way. 

I guess the tights are flashy. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Friday, October 24, 2014

I Don't Know And It's Okay

You know that Tolkien quote, "Not all those who wander are lost"? Well I am. That's okay though because not all those who are lost need to know where they are.

So put that in your pipe and smoke it! Ha!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Some Things It Has Occurred To Me To Do Today

Call a closet organizing company
Call the post office and tell them that my new address is a residence and is not a business
Mail back some shoes that didn't fit
E-mail a vast number of friends to keep in touch and/or invite them to do things with me
Call and reserve a room for my Disney Princess Half Marathon
Give myself a pedicure
Clean my Crocs
Knit
Look for a job
Do some drawings
Organize a Dreaded Drawing
Think up a week's worth of healthy food to make
Get the ingredients
Make the food
Empty my e-mail in-box
Bathe
Get a composter from the Town of Somerville
Remember to bring my checkbook with me
Find a pot in which to put either the cyclamen or the cactus that I planted together in hopes of keeping the mice from eating the cyclamen. I've taken them to a mouse-free zone so they can be less neglected and hopefully thrive. 
Organize my room
Dishes
Make an eye doctor appointment and get new glasses
Make an appointment for a car tune-up
Sync my calendars and devices
Pin, Instagram, Tweet, Facebook, and otherwise feed my online persona (Blog)
Take in the trash can

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

BAB

I will never be a "popular" blogger because I can't be bothered to take a pretty picture or gussy up the ones I take. Some artist. I'm supposed to be all about aesthetics. I am. Just not conventional aesthetics.

Any hoo, I'm all excited because I sent away for some fitness shake powder thingies and they came! 


This is Skoop B Strong. It's supposed to speed recovery after a workout, among other things. 

Since you never know till you try, I got a sampling of their whole line. It sounds like good stuff. I'm all about healthy skin, a healthy body, and plenty of energy. Why not give it a shot?  Plus they donate a serving of fresh fruits and vegetables to school lunch programs for every portion sold. 


Yeah, I got the mixing cup too. The sipper cap part clicks tightly into place which is good. I'm much less likely to spray my entire kitchen with soy milk and protein powder that way. 

So how does this B Strong taste? It tastes gross! I've never been one to tolerate artificial sweeteners before. I HATE diet soda. YUCK! This has Stevia in it. According to the website stevia can support healthy blood pressure (which I already have) and, I guess do other things for me that I don't need. 

I don't know, I'll choke it down. I might get used to it. If it helps me feel great I'll keep drinking it. 

Of course the best way to take care of your health and have plenty of energy is to eat right and exercise regularly - which I do a pretty good job of lately - and GET ENOUGH SLEEP. I don't get enough sleep. 

Holy crap! It's almost two! There's always so much stuff to do! That's why no one gets enough sleep. Gotta go! Later!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Yoga Class #1

Well that was amazing. After years, probably almost twenty years, of toying with yoga and doing it once in a while because it's "good for me" I think the bug finally sunk its teeth in. I think I'm going to become a yoga freak.

Okay, just one class, who knows if a pattern will really develop but that felt life changing. 

I did a full-on backbend. I don't think I've done one of those since eighth grade! I wasn't at all sure I could do it then all of a sudden there I was, upside down, supporting my body weight on my arms stretched back over my shoulders and my legs doing what legs do (I guess). My mind was blown. It was almost like "where am I? What am I doing? Have I gone crazy?" Amazing. I live for amazement. 

One thing I hadn't thought about yesterday when I signed up was that I was going to have to get there wearing clothes and with a yoga mat. 

I don't want to make a huge, giant generalization here but SOME people have a pretty annoying air about them when they're coming and going from yoga class. Too smug and virtuous looking. I DON'T WANT TO BE THAT GUY! 

I'm a little too preoccupied with that. I want to look as awkward and schlumpy as possible on my yoga class commute. That right there is vanity. Just as bad as looking smug. Just don't think about what you look like. It's not important. Duh!

I was also uncomfortable walking to class in just the cropped leggings I feel totally fine about running in. I had to wear sweatpants. What a weirdo. 

I know I'll get over all that stupidness. Maybe I just did. I'm so lucky I got that two week pass. Extra incentive to actually go back and start to feel comfortable and maybe build a habit. The people in class were super nice and friendly. I do want to meet new people. 

So, go me! Yay yoga!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Random Day Stuff



It was a particularly beautiful day in Boston and vicinity today. This was the skyline view from around 7:30 this morning (I think it was 7:30. I don't really remember as I got about two-and-a-half hours of sleep last night. Some things are foggy today) I don't know if it comes through in the photo but I found the pink morning mist over the city a bit romantically sci-fi. I love that kind of thing. 

Pete and Nate have been touring as members of the band, Van Hayride, the countrified Van Halen cover band. They've been opening for the band, Puss N Boots. If either band comes to your town I highly recommend seeing them. 

Pete, Nate, and the incredible Daria Grace

Rod (far left, sorry, Rod, I don't know your last name) Pete, the obviously amazing Jack Grace, Daria (far right)

The women of Puss N Boots are forces of nature. They have a seriously entertaining, POWERFUL thing going. Plus they're really irreverent and funny. I cannot tell you how much I wish I could sing like any of them. In fact I was too stunned by their awesomeness to remember to take a picture of them. 

I got to hang around with everyone backstage last night after the show for a while. I ended up not going to bed until 3 AM. Rock 'n' roll. What are you going to do? 

The best thing was how really lovely all the people were. Everyone was so kind and inclusive. It was a family atmosphere, lots of love and fun in the room. Norah Jones is my new favorite famous person. (Did I have a designated old favorite famous person?) Sasha gave me a delicious cookie. Most importantly everyone was really nice to my boys, Pete and Nate, and I love it when people are good to the folks I love. I also picked up a great tip for dealing with a certain indelicate process (okay, farting - without naming names) that I'm definitely going to use later. Very worth the sleep deficit. 

In other news I signed up to take a yoga class tomorrow morning at the (new to me) local yoga studio in Union Square. I got a two-week unlimited trial pass too. I'm irrationally excited about this. I have never signed up for a yoga class on my own steam before. These days I'm all about trying new things. Billions of people go to yoga classes every day. It's not a big deal. I'm acting like it's some big adventure. Well you never know where something's going to lead...

Monday, October 6, 2014

How To React When Nothing Makes Sense





You know, in a way this piece made itself. There were a number of happy accidents that went along with all the hard work I put in. For example two flat tires prevented me from leaving town as I'd planned to do when it was better for me to stay and work on the piece. The stool, already in the gallery, was the perfect pedestal for the plate of treats. Also, I hadn't known that I'd want a backdrop for this until I got to the gallery and set up the stool and empty cake plate. Then I remembered that there's a fabric store in the building next door. 

I think people liked it. It's amazing how difficult it is to give away free home made pastry when it's part of a sculpture. People either think it's a facsimile of food and not edible or they're "afraid to touch the art." Or they're just afraid. Poor things.

One week after my post referring to people not Facebooking anymore I received my invitation to join Ello. Plus ça change...

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Why?


I am so tired I can barely move. I got four hours of sleep last night. I've worn out my arms and hands making things. I have to show again in two weeks. Nobody's even looking. Why do I go to all this trouble?  It's a compulsion. See? Nothing makes sense. 

The picture above is of an object. That's not an image I made with a graphics application. It would be difficult to make something so uneven in a graphics application.


See?

Time to eat something and get cracking on éclairs and haul them and my butt down to the gallery and set up and then stand there on the concrete floor for seven hours because if I sit my whole body will seize up from the physical wringer I've been putting it through. 

It'll be fine. It'll all be fine. This is my life. Better than working in a diamond mine. So unspeakably much better than working in a diamond mine.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Super-bakey

South End Open Studios is this weekend. I will be participating. I had planned to go down to our space on Monday and hang some kind of sculpture thing that I was going to make then and there. Instead I decided that the only honest thing to do would be to make meringues and chocolate éclairs and give them to people who come to our gallery.

I was partially inspired to do this by the random stuff being discussed on Facebook right now. I won't spell those things out as no doubt equally random things are being discussed on Facebook as you read this (unless no one Facebooks anymore and everyone's moved on to the next thing by the time you read this.) I was partially inspired by this guy, Tee Major. How did I get from a guy displaying his EXTREME fitness skills to making meringues and chocolate éclairs? Hmmm...


Long story short, nothing makes sense. The wonders of the world. All the bizarre and random things that happen every day, all the time. When nothing makes sense you can only do what makes the most sense to you. For Tee Major it makes TONS of sense to work out for thousands of hours so he can support his body weight on the tips of his fingers and do pushups during which he spins around in midair. I would say the vast majority of humans on this planet would have no need to use those skills but Tee Major WENT FOR IT. Dedication, determination, drive, practice, focus for hours and hours and hours. He can do Superman Push Ups. It's amazing. That makes sense to him and I respect and admire that.

On Monday I saw no difference between his drive to learn to master his body in that way and my desire to master making éclairs and meringues. You have to do what makes sense to YOU. That made sense to me. 

SO...
I couldn't believe it was actually working! The batter was rising!

Would you look at that - they're browning and look like real éclairs!

Naked without their chocolate ganache.
Éclair pastry turns out to be pretty easy to make. You use a saucepan, a mixing bowl, and a wooden spoon. The batter is made of butter, water, sugar, salt, a little flour, and four beaten eggs.  you heat the first four ingredients in the pan until the butter melts. You dump the flour in all at once and stir over the heat until the batter clumps into a dough and begins to leave a film on the bottom of the pan. Then you dump the dough into the mixing bowl and stir it to cool it for a minute or two. Then you add the beaten eggs in four parts, stirring well with your wooden spoon after each part. Bang - you got éclair dough. So simple no wonder I was surprised it worked. You can also make cream puffs and cheese poufs called "gougères" with this same dough. And believe me I will. Easy and like magic therefore fun.

Now the meringues. I used to make meringues all the time when I was a kid. Once our housekeeper, Sarah (who saved my life so many times in so many ways) showed me how to do it I never had a problem. Until this Monday (of course the last time I tried was possibly 38 years ago) Four disastrous batches before I got a passable one. Then these happened:

I might be able to use these failures for something.
These look horrible but they taste good. I used a recipe that suggested heating the sugar in the oven before you mix it into the egg whites to help it dissolve more quickly. I might try that again sometime.

Making my own superfine sugar.

The best way to have the sugar dissolve nicely is to use superfine sugar. I couldn't find any at the three markets I looked in so I tried making my own. It seemed to work. I never used superfine sugar when I was a kit though. Just normal eggs, normal sugar, and a normal handheld mixer.

One problem may have been that I tried using a carton of egg whites. You can buy a carton of just the whites. Don't do that for meringues. It's unreliable. The last batch I made with those whipped up beautifully. Nice and stiff until about two-thirds of the way through adding the sugar when the whole thing suddenly turned into soup. My worst batch yet. Down the sink.

Finally I did everything as super-right as I could. I separated my own whites (which I don't like to do because then you have yolks you have to do something with) let them come to room temperature, wiped down everything that was going to come in contact with the whites with white vinegar to eliminate any possible trace of grease (grease prevents the whites from whipping up) added cream of tartar, used brand new sugar out of a fresh box rather than the sugar I store my vanilla beans in (just in case there's vanilla bean oil?) and it worked perfectly. I don't remember having to be so fussy when I was a kid.

SUCCESS! This batch was a monster! It tried to escape from the bowl! Look at that glorious texture though!
I cannot tell you how exhilarating it was when the super-stiff egg and sugar batter started fighting me back! A delightful, white, fluffy monster! Trying to wrest the beater from my hands and to fling itself out of the bowl and all over the kitchen! So exciting! Maybe one day I'll figure out a way to just bake it all whipped in the bowl. Look how gorgeous that is!

Successful batch number two (out of maybe eight batches total) is pictured below.
Freeform

Piped
I wanted to make odd shapes and sizes. I made some big ones, maybe the size of a croissant, but I think I can do better with those so no photos. I want to make huge ones and ones in different colors. Pristine white was what I went for this time.

Now I'm absolutely exhausted and I'm going to bed late and I have to get up early so I can do more set-up stuff for this show. I still don't know how I'm going to display all this stuff or how I'm going to assemble the éclairs and get them down to the gallery on Saturday. 

I'm not even sure this was a good idea or that I fully understand now what I was thinking when I chose this course of action. Gonna have to cross that bridge when I get to it. That is how I like to make art. It usually works out okay.

I have to say that I have never had this much trouble in the kitchen in my life. Never!