Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Misty morning

I plodded through a 5k slowly this morning and now I feel happier. Running in the morning usually sets me up for a good mood. I'm just happy to have that shit a run over with early, haha. Before breakfast, even. Last night (after polishing off half a bag of vegetable chips) I did the P90X workout for biceps and back, and then the abs workout. The bicep exercises require heavier weights than we own, so I'm thiking about getting some hand weights to round out our "gym" (a collection of low weights messily stacked in a corner of the living room. A garage sale in a close neighborhood has been announced for the end of May, and there are always yard sales downtown on summer weekends. Should be able to find something. How popular can ten-pound weights be? While it's been about two weeks since I began doing the abs consistently, last night I found the routine felt harder. What?! Is that because I'm getting used to the exercises and improving my form just enough to perform the exercises more correctly? Or am I experiencing a Benjamin Button-like phenomenon whereby my abs muscles will de-evolve with every set of abs I perform?

Monday, April 28, 2014

Easing back

19k! That was last Sunday. I was unable to run for a week afterwards. I had been dreaming of a slow and enjoyable 15k loop that moves through several neighborhoods and lots of natural areas. I've seen deer and herons there. That loop is like an old friend I hadn't seen in a long while. But I'd forgotten how unrelenting that friend is - after 19k worth of demands - not 15! remember this, Frannie! - I landed at the apartment tired and amazed that my knees were still operating. For the week that followed, I completed 3x abs (YES!) and threw in a couple of longer walks (1.5 hours). Yoga happened, and Bessie also made an appearance on the bike path! Just a 48-minute run last night. I didn't want to commit further damage on my abused legs. Some anti-IT band exercises wrapped up the evening, and my legs feel like thmselves today.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Running and a big red

A day off! I ran for an hour. 

Every step felt strong. I chose areas of the path that have little incline, and there weren't many people out and about. Little traffic. A few cyclists and people with dogs. No troubles, with the exception of my GPS, which doesn't work properly if not fully charged. It wasn't, and it didn't. Useless, but no matter. I didn't need to time myself today.

When I got back to the apartment, I did the 15-minutes "ab ripper" - the P90X abs routine. For some reason I've decided that I need to do abs three times a week. For what? My dedication is questionable, as are the effects. I could be making other promises to myself, ones that will produce greater payoffs, like promising to write for an hour a day, or looking for a better job for an hour every day. I don't know why the abs promise has a hold on me right now but it does, so I'm going to ride it out, see how long it lasts. 

The big red flight - Ithaca
I haven't really mentioned our trip to Ithaca in early March!

On our second evening, we went to a busy tapas resto and ended up sitting on stools at the far end of the bar. Turns out the bar was a fantastic place to sit and sample dishes and wines. We ordered a flight of bold red wines and a few plates to share that sounded interesting. The dish in the centre of the photo is warm greens with walnuts, kidney beans, and blue cheese. To the right are a - school? - of fish croquettes that reminded us of deep fried Portuguese fish cakes - soooo tasty.

Everything was delicious. Ithaca is a great place to visit if you're hungry.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Then and there

My body clock still hasn't readjusted to this time zone. Yawns creep in after dinner and by 8:30 pm my eyelids are falling down and I must away to bed. I often find myself awake around 2:30 am, and usually get out of bed even though I'm still tired. I do that because willing oneself to sleep is a frustrating and sometimes depressing activity that often ends in futility. This probably gives me a taste of what D lives with every day. His shifts begin at inconsistent hours and his life schedule constantly requires tailoring. If I keep a low profile until I recover, however, it's really problematic for the world at large. As long as the cat gets fed, I suppose.

I've been letting a little bit of exercise into my day. Yoga at home on Sunday, then a run on Monday morning after a fitful sleep. It was a very pleasant experience, that morning run. The air was warm, and I was excited to be on the path for the first time this season. In shorts!

Last night I did the P90X legs workout, followed by a 15-minute ab routine that I couldn't complete entirely! For one thing, it's been a while since my last attempt. The only work I've been doing with my abs lately has focused solely on expansion, haha! Another reason is that it is really hard! I might follow the lead of the Gaz, and attempt an abs workout three times per week. I always find that legs + abs routine challenging and fulfilling. And it basically puts me to bed from exhaustion. I really need that right now in my off-the-clock life.

~ and now for something completely different ~

I had time today to listen to the new Beck record - I enjoy its gentle moodiness - and read some excerpts online from a book called, What Should I Do With My Life?. It's a collection of stories crafted from interviews with people who made career decisions. It's really that simple. The people don't sound all that unusual and their jobs don't really stand out. I didn't read about anyone who hopped from a job as sandwich artist to that of a scientist, and then three years later discovered a cure. No, nothing that unorthodox. Quitting a job as a bank exec to become a social worker - that was a story, and it's not unheard of. I think it actually happens a lot.

The decisions and paths followed made the stories come alive. The stories followed different routes but echoed some common themes, like following your heart, or finally understanding what you really want to do and then pursuing it, even when the result will be making less money, going against parental wishes, or battling your own core beliefs about what work means and what it should do for you (pay your bills, provide for others, allow you to afford luxuries, and so on). 

Clearly, many people feel stuck. Although that's a sad thread, the author's final message is positive. The world is a rich and intriguing place flowing with opportunities; if you are curious and reach out, with practice you will not be stuck forever.

A colleague told me that she had decided to attend art school in her youth "because there was nothing else to do." Art school was on her radar. It's not on everyone's. It wasn't on mine, yet now we're in the same place, working together. The story of how we arrived is more interesting than the act of being there.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The banana bread baked by jet lag

The Marbled Banana Bread from Post Punk Kitchen.

Vegan! And marbled with the goodness of cocoa.

Inside view:

Fun facts about jet lag

I went to bed at 11:00 this morning. Breakfasted at the crack of 18:00 on spaghetti with mushroom sauce and wine (grazie mille, D!).

Jet lag:
  • provides yet another reason to avoid doing anything
  • elevates Facebook to the world's most entertaining web site ever
  • encourages nonlinear thinking patterns - can be fun/exhausting
  • limits ability to verbally express yourself - frustrating
  • slides your circadian rhythm over to the other side 
  • discourages interest in food
  • makes me f'n tired!
I maintain hope that I'll feel up to a run tomorrow. Maybe I'll see geese! I watched two fly by the window today. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Hot cans in a small world

I woke up in Hiroshima to the sound of my alarm set for an early rise. The plan was to meet in the lobby but my brother is missing. This, my SIL says, is because the two of them heard the train last night. Heard it frequently. So, when a nice hotel is really cheap, there is usually a good reason behind the reduced rates. I got my coffee from a vending machine on the way to the lobby. I accidentally pressed the button for the cold can instead of the hot, so I shoved the cold one in my backpack for later, and bought two hot ones. And they are really hot. They think of everything for cold days - heated toilet seats and hot cans of coffee from vending machines. No central heating but the thick comforters do a good job of nesting me to sleep every night, when sleep in available and not hijacked by jet lag and loud trains. The vending machine beside me right now is the one you use to pay for the hotel room you registered for at the front desk. A few minutes ago, having no credit cards to process, it burst into an acoustic version of It,s a Small World After All.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Japanese breakfasts

Breakfasts in other countries tell the truth. Dinners and Lunches can be dressed up and made to seem like meals one enjoys at home, and in fact it can be really eay to get some dishes around the home, comforting dishes like spaghetti and pizza. But at breakfast there is not always a lot of room for hominess, and one is left to find deliciousness in whatever the locals eat unless an expensive hotel chain can provide cherished foods from back home. We had miso noodle soup for breakfast today, followed by bowls of juicy strawberries lightly dressed with condensed milk. Oatmeal would not improve this meal. It was totally delicious on its own. I went for a run outside yesterday in Okayama. Along a course that hugged a winding river, and occasionally under a canopy of light pink cherry blossoms. It was early morning. The rain had just stopped and there was a freshness in the air. I ran on concrete and gravel and saw people on bicycles, maybe heading to work. No stray animals! Small houses with gates, tight against the concrete of the road.