June 30, 2009

I Florida

My job requires a good bit of travel during the day, but generally its not to the prettier areas of my home.  Last week, though, it took me out of town and in to the Ocala National Forest and the surrounding rural area.  I took a short break in a national park, enjoying the cool lake water on a 100 degree day.  I checked out the 50s era sign reminding me that Black Bears will come eat my food if I leave it out and said hello to some less reclusive native life.  And I found a grape orchard, which my father in law would love, using peanuts as groundcover, which my mother would love.  A lovely reminder of why I love Florida, made extra special because it was a work day.

June 29, 2009

See you at Home Depot

"It smells like popcorn in here all of a sudden."
"Or an electrical fire."

Followed by a check of the dishwasher and billowing black smoke. I can now confirm that an electrical fire (or maybe the near miss of one) does indeed smell like popcorn. I'm sure glad Alex knew about that.

How did she do?

Home Run

Tuesday: cardio, stretching and strength training
Thursday: cardio, stretching and strength training
Sunday: cardio, stretching and strength training

We also took a half hour (leisurely) walk after dinner both Saturday and Sunday nights.  The walks were wonderful, and we felt so mellow afterwards.  We're hoping to make this a habit.  The dogs are really hoping we'll make a habit of it.

June 22, 2009

How did she do?

Tuesday: cardio, stretching and strength training
Thursday: cardio, stretching and strength training

Two trips per week seems to be all I can do on a regular basis, and even that is an effort.  I thought the gym would be a habit by now, that it would be a routine and easier to get there.  Its not.  I still try to make excuses and answering to the blog is definitely part of the motivation to get there enough to at least not be embarrassed by the report.  Sigh.  So, I'll keep at it and hopefully some day it will be routine.

June 21, 2009

Adventures in Durian

Alex recently took his parents to our local asian market for the fresh fish.  They came home with this strange looking fruit, in addition to the stinky fish.  (I'm just glad they didn't bring home any of the live snails or crawdaddies.)  It was frozen, and they were told to let it thaw and then cut between the spikes. 

My mother-in-law and I did a little research and found we had a Durian fruit.  The article I found by a south Asian chef left me a bit dubious.  She said that, while it was a delicacy in  Thailand that often caused tussles at the produce stand, it is generally considered vile by those with a less familiar palate.  She warned that the smell would be overwhelming, so she recommended eating it while still partially frozen.   Apparently, that would also mute the taste a little.  The taste itself?  It would be a mix of sweet fruit, onion, garlic, and another suggested it would be perhaps a hint of gym sock.

Duly warned, we cut in.  The spikes are on a woody hull, but it was relatively soft in its mostly-thawed state.  We pulled it apart and found a pocket of cream-colored fruit the texture of custard.  I scooped it out with my hand and dumped it in to a bowl.  There was a huge seed in the middle of it, but it was easy enough to squeeze that out and be left with the fruit.  The durian was roughly divided in to quarters and so we had four of these pods.

We served it up and the reactions were immediate.  My 9 year old cousin declared it vomit; my husband disgusting.  My father-in-law refused to try it until forced, and Alex's cousin took a microscopic bite.  My mother-in-law, our friend and I were a little less sure we hated it.  We definitely tasted the garlic and onion, and we didn't think we liked it.  But, we found ourselves going back to try another bite.  On the other hand, we threw away most of it.  In the outside trash - the strength of the smell was not exaggerated.

It was an interesting adventure, but I won't be among the ranks tussling over the freshest Durian in the Thai markets any time soon.

June 20, 2009

Summer Is...

:: Barbecue and watermelon
:: Swimming with the dogs
:: Soft air smelling of damp leaves
:: A matinee on a hot afternoon

June 16, 2009

How did she do?

Wow - Monday night flew by and here it is already Tuesday afternoon. But, to recap last week.

Monday - light yoga
Wednesday - cardio, stretching and strength training
Friday - cardio, stretching and light strength training
Sunday - a long walk on the beach (yeah!)

I'm having alot of trouble with the muscles in my neck, so I'm pacing myself right now. I had a (painful) massage last Thursday that really helped, and I'll be going back tomorrow for another. But, I'm still getting the exercise in, so that's something. Tonight I'm planning to try the yoga again and see if that helps.

June 15, 2009

Finding my Touchstone

When I left for college, I was a small town girl. All of my memories were rooted in the same community, where I knew someone around every corner and always had family nearby. The first few weeks away were rough. I was miserably homesick and the 2 1/2 hours between school and home felt so far. Then I was walking across campus on a beautiful September day and I felt this bubble of contented happiness well up deep inside. At that moment, I knew I had made the right choice and was where I needed to be.

I've felt that bubble again over the years. Shortly after moving to D.C. and meeting Alex, it came as I was walking down the sidewalk to shop at Eastern Market. A year or two in to law school, watching the lights come on in my neighborhood on a cold Fall evening. Walking the dog around my apartment complex back here in Florida. Its my touchstone, that feeling, my signal that I'm making the right choices in my life. That the world is simply right. Not an every day thing, but a little message from myself that I hear in moments of peace.

Last week I realized I haven't felt that bubble in quite a while. Instead, I've been feeling a nagging disquiet. Nothing is wrong, but I wasn't entirely sure it was right either. Too often irritable voices have snapped out at one another, leaving bruised feelings that never quite have a chance to completely heal. Too many work concerns have followed us home, intruding and casting a shadow. Life has felt too full, too uncertain - too much. My attempts at something different have provided only momentary relief, followed by frustration when the simple task of choosing dinner leaves us in our separate corners. I've started to think again about what I would do if I left my job, what the after might be if this job I have loved is becoming a weight I can't bear. To reconsider choices and wonder if its time to adjust our plans, but with no idea what the alternative might be.

And then we spent this weekend at the beach, just the two of us away from everyone. It wasn't the clean escape I had hoped; those irritable voices managed to find us there. But, it was a chance to find our rhythm again. Lying together watching an afternoon storm rage on the ocean, holding hands as we walked on a quiet beach at night, listening to live music in a smoky bar - none of it planned but simply unfolding. The next morning I took my coffee out on the beach and walked by myself there in the quiet, alone with nature. And in that moment of peace, my touchstone welled within me. All is well.

Its reassuring, this knowledge that my disquiet is superficial. That what resides deep within is happiness. I can't be done looking for the shift that will put things in place; I know that. Superficial disquiet can become something deeper if I don't respond to the message being sent. But, it helps to know I'm playing with the right pieces.

June 13, 2009

Wrap Up

Here it is - the Wrap Skirt from Weekend Sewing, finally photographed and blogged.  It is already getting a great deal of wear, and compliments.  Last weekend I wore it to a family party and really enjoyed the shocked "you made that?" from the non-sewers.  Mom, a talented seamstress, spotted it immediately as a handmade skirt.  She complimented it and started a chain reaction of "you made that?"  "Look, Cara made her skirt."  It is comfortable, fun to wear, and I feel good in it.  Perfect.

June 11, 2009

Summer Pace

The air is heavy and dense with humidity, hanging on your skin and slowing your steps. My usually brisk work day pace giving way to the recognizable stroll of the south. This, I believe, is the reason for the southern drawl and our famous (or at least infamous) lazy pace. When the very air creates resistance to your movement, you might as well take a moment to smile at that stranger or stop to chat with the neighbor. You're not going anywhere fast anyway. And when you do, you learn you're getting where you're going anyway.

Of course, air conditioning is changing that. You keep moving to get to that blessedly cool air, to breathe a little more easily. I'm not going to shake my fist at technology. I am glad for the relief of air condition and remember the years I lived without it with a touch of awe. But, I want to remember the natural rhythm of life too, the value of a slower pace now and again.

June 10, 2009


The birthday quilt from back in March is finally done.  I went back and added additional quilting, and the flowers really pop in three dimension now.  (Can you tell?  It seems really hard to see the texture in the photo.)  The one good thing about having to go in to work this weekend is that I was able to leave the quilt for the Mom as a surprise for Monday morning.  She was as excited as I hoped she'd be, and it was fun to give a quilt to someone who really wants one.

We'll just overlook the fact that she has started calling it a blanket.  After all, I'm told that the recipient is "a blankie girl" who carries them around, tucking her dolls and stuffed animals in and sleeping with at least one.  A loved quilt by any other name...

June 09, 2009

How did she do?

Work got in the way again this week.  I did a full work out on Monday - 30 minutes of cardio, stretching and then strength training.  The rest of the week I settled for stretching at home.  This week isn't off to a great start either.  But, right now, it is just going to have to be 'do what you can.'  Tomorrow, though, I'm going to the gym.

June 01, 2009

How did she do?

Not bad.  Not bad.

Monday - Cardio and stretching
Tuesday - Wii yoga
Thursday - Cardio, stretching, and strength building
Saturday and Sunday - manual labor

I spent the weekend helping my sister and her husband move in to their new cottage in the midst of a horse farm.  My first task was assisting with re-screening the front porch.  Then it was moving furniture and boxes, cleaning and generally making myself useful.  It was wonderful and I am pleasantly tired.  But, it was definitely manual labor.