Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Slashed With Jet Trails

  The other day on the way to work the sky was pink and was slashed with jet trails. I imagined a huge cat trying to claw its way in. In honor of the beauty I wrote a haiku:

Early morning pink
Slashed with claw-marks - breaking through
Jet-trails in the sky

I imagine this is how the gerbils often feel as well:


Monday, June 27, 2011

A Taste For Beads

Yes, I'm still beading. It's slowed down somewhat now that I own beaded necklaces, bracelets and anklets in every conceivable color. But I still get back to it on occasion. Here are some of them:

I even make one for the cat now and then. She's developed a taste for beads and loves to bat a colorful strand of beads across the floor.


Friday, June 24, 2011

Fifty Pounds of Snacks

  I bring my lunch to work everyday. It's healthier and cheaper than buying a lunch. And besides, I tend to be boring and predictable and don't mind eating the same thing day after day. So, every day I bring my sandwich and some yogurt and some milk to work.

And because I don't like that weird powdered non-dairy creamer stuff that's made of chemicals and strange toxic substances that's provided I bring some half and half for my coffee.

And because I'm usually in a hurry to get out of the house in the morning, I bring my breakfast. That usually involves a covered bowl of cereal, or oatmeal and some milk.

And because I try to eat healthy, I bring some fruit - usually two things. Today it was three - a banana, a container of cut-up watermelon and a container with orange wedges.

Yes, I bring all of that food with me to work. Every day.

I'm weird like that.

That's a lot of food. And it's heavy. I pack it all into a 9 foot duffle bag and sling it onto my back along with my laptop bag and my bag with my shoes and iPod and sketchbook and my purse. I leave every day with approximately 70 pounds of gear, 50 of which is food and snacks. I need all that food to maintain the muscle mass I get from carting around all that food.

Sometime I'll tell you about the drawer at work where I keep my supply of breakfast and lunch condiments.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Triple Rainbow

  We had a nice rainbow out back the other day. Colorful, double, awesome:

In fact, we were inspired and did this:

Sweet Pea's awesome pink and blue hair chunk! 
(It really had nothing to do with the rainbow. They were two completely separate incidents, on separate days. But when I saw both pictures they seemed somehow connected.)


Monday, June 20, 2011

Kill Bill is Kick-Ass And So Is The Music

  I was watching Kick-Ass the other day with hubby. It's a very violent movie somewhat akin to Kill Bill type violence - with spattering blood, limbs being cut off, guns and torture and beatings and such. Usually quite a put-off, but for some reason, the movie was pretty good despite that.

In the same vein I also liked Kill Bill. When we started watching it I hated it. Too much over-the-top gore and spurting blood and snapping bones. But by the time we were 75% of the way through the first one, I was hooked. I eagerly anticipated the second, and was not disappointed. Despite the flagrant comic-book violence and utter grossness of many of the fight scenes, I really enjoyed the story. If you can overlook the blood and guts (and for some people I'm sure that's a plus), the story line is really good. And the music is awesome! An eclectic mix of all sorts of stuff. Cool. You should take a listen.

And, to get back to Kick-Ass, we were watching it and in one of the fight scenes this song started up. We both said at the same time - "What is that music?" It's haunting, eerie, rhythmic. Guitars and drums. It's beautiful. After some searching we found it - In the House - In a Heartbeat by Composer John Murphy. It was also used in the movie 28 Days Later (a zombie apocalypse movie that was a little too grim for me. I don't go for zombies much.  But what an utterly awesome piece of music! Another one you should check out.

And while you're at it, the soundtrack to the movie Collateral is really good too. So, that's your homework. Go to and check out the soundtracks to Kill Bill, Collateral, Kick-Ass and 28 Days Later. Let me know what you think. And let me know what other movie soundtracks you like.


Friday, June 17, 2011

Constant, Monotonous, Loud, Freaking Chirping

  As I'm sure I've blogged about before, we are the proud owners of two guinea pigs - sweet little Eleanor and rotund little Oreo. For rodents, they really are sweet little things, and usually they're pretty quiet, but they have their share of noises:

There's the squeak when the veggie drawer in the fridge is opened.

There's the hoarse croak when the faucet is turned on and they have yet again sucked their water bottle dry. It is absolutely amazing to me how much water those little things drink. We are constantly filling up their water bottle. I swear they drink out of boredom - it's a good thing it's a water bottle and not a whiskey bottle!

There's the LOUD squeak that occurs for no good reason once in a while when they think we're eating something good (a crunch of lettuce leaves will set it off sometimes). That one reverberates through the house like a ricocheting nerf bullet from the automatic.

There's the deep rumbling as they strut around each other trying to establish just who is the queen of the cage and who isn't. When it's Eleanor doing it, it's rather comical. When it's Oreo, it's downright frightening - she is One Big Pig!

And then, there's the chirping. That's right. Chirping. These crazy rodents chirp. Sounds exactly like a sparrow. A monotonous, will-it-ever-stop-I'm-trying-to-sleep constant, loud, chirp. And yes, the 'I'm-trying-to-sleep' part is right. They only do this particular sound in the dead of the night. When I'm trying to sleep. But can't. Due to the constant, monotonous, loud, freaking chirping coming from downstairs!

And it always takes a few minutes to figure out what the sound is. They only do it once every couple of months and since I'm asleep when it happens, I wake to what sounds like some sort of alarm. Then I realize, oh, it's just birds. Birds? Downstairs? WTF? Oh wait. No, it's just those darn pigs again! Chirping. Again. In the middle of the night. GO BACK TO SLEEP!


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Yoga - Not a Complete Waste of Time

  I went to a second yoga class. I documented my first try at it here, remember? So I decided to give it another try.  And my overall conclusion is the very one that you read in the title. "Yoga - Not a Complete Waste of Time".

I said as much after leaving the class. I was trying to express my indifference toward yoga while not completely insulting yoga, the people who enjoy it and all it stands for. In my eloquence (or lack thereof), I'm not too sure I succeeded.

I like yoga. Sort of. It's a challenge - balance, strength, overall fitness, all of that. Absolutely. Focus, relaxation, inner peace. All that good stuff. Really, yoga is great. But I've decided it's just not my thing. At least at this point in my life. You would think I would appreciate the relaxed nature - a big change from my everyday life which is rush rush rush, do this, do that, get it done, crap! I didn't get it all done. Rush rush rush some more. It should be a chance to breathe, to enjoy the challenge, feel my muscles stretching, moving, strengthening, blah blah blah. But I just can't get past the "OK what's next? Let's do the next exercise. I gotta move! I can't sit still! Let me move!" (And I didn't even have coffee before class!)

As I stand in half lotus, breathing deeply, visions of kettlebells and the power and ballistics of the kettlebell moves float through my mind like butterflies in the breeze.

As I bend into a butt-exposing stretch in the silent room, praying no one lets one rip, the sounds of a karate class - pounding music, shouted 'Yessir!"s, kiais and explosive breaths reverberate through my mind like a drum beat.

As I lift my arm in front of me and bend, extending my leg behind, hoping my non-existant cleavage isn't being exposed as I hop and shimmy in an attempt to stay balanced I feel the wind whistling past my ears and feel the wheels upon my feet as I blow down the parkway in my rollerblades like a groom who's late for his wedding.

And then, finally, the class was over. The relaxing stretch and burn was over. The deep breathing was over. The silence was over. I was free. Yes, apparently I completely and utterly miss the point of yoga. I've given up trying to find it. It's elusive, mysterious, out of my grasp.

I was out the door like a shot. Where's my kettlebell? Where are my roller blades? I . . . must . . . move!


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Reveling in the Glow of Vindication

  So I attended an Aikido seminar at the dojo the other day. For those of you who don't know, Aikido is a martial art centered on the peaceful redirection of your opponent's force. So basically, instead of beating your opponent to a pulp, you redirect their attack in a way that doesn't necessarily injure them, at least not too badly if that's your goal.

For years the hubby has been spouting the awesomeness of Aikido at me. It's not that I didn't believe him - it was more of a lack of knowledge on my part that led to indifference. It just didn't sound that awesome to me. I mean it's a martial art. They are all pretty cool. I did Go-Ju Ryu for many years and it was very awesome - an incredible style of martial arts that I thoroughly enjoyed for many years. I'm doing Kenpo now and that too is awesome. The hubster had experience with Aikido, so that's what he found awesome. I never took the time to find out why he thought it was so awesome. (I know, I can be a terrible wife sometimes.)

Let me tell you, he is reveling in vindication. I came away from that seminar positively, utterly convinced that Aikido is indeed as awesome as he's always told me it was. Not more awesome than other martial arts necessarily, but extremely awesome indeed! Very different than the martial arts I've been exposed to up until now.

The class started out with some basic stretches, many of which are different than we normally do. Aikido involves a lot of wrist movements and joint locks and such so there was a lot of wrist stretching and hand flapping and other movements unfamiliar to those of us that were used to the karate workouts. There were some sideways glances and what-the-heck-is-this expressions, but once we got into the meat of class, it was eye-opening.

I spent two hours getting my wrists twisted and turned. Getting thrown repeatedly to the floor. Throwing others repeatedly to the floor. Falling, rolling, slapping, bending, dropping, and amazingly enough, no screaming. It Was Awesome! It was so awesome that I didn't even mind the fact that the majority of the class was large sweaty men - a big reason why the grappling arts are something I avoid - who wants to wrestle with big sweaty men for hours? Not me thank you very much. My own big sweaty man is big sweaty man enough for me. I don't need to wrestle with strangers too.

But this was just the right mix of taking down your opponent without spending too much time with your face mashed into a hairy chest or your arms wrapped up in a sweaty armpit or worse. The movements were efficient and quick. And when done right, they don't require huge amounts of strength. A plus for a woman.

I must say I've come away with a new respect for Aikido. I wish I had the time and the money to learn it.

And now the hubby can sit and revel in the glow. Vindication is a wonderful thing.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Attacked With a Sharpie

  As we move up the ladder in karate we need more and more gear. We started out with punches and kicks (gloves and foot-covering), shin guards and mouth guards. Now, we've progressed up to rib gear and head gear, both of which are fairly large. And of course, we need some way to carry this stuff back and forth. With the addition of the head and rib gear, the small bags we were using just weren't going to cut it. So, I went out and got some sizable duffle bags. Since we needed 5 of them, I went for the cheapest bags I could find. So, of course that limited my choices, including color. We all ended up with identical red bags. They have our initials on them to distinguish them from each other, but just to make mine more distinctive and just because this is the way I am, I attacked my bag with a sharpie. Voila!

Not bad. Makes it easier to tell apart from the others now. Maybe I'll decorate them all. Sweet Pea might like porcupines on hers, or bunnies, or peace signs. Snickers might like a Pac Man game board. Doodlebug might like skulls or maybe kittens. The hubster would like zombies, or maybe guitars. Hmmmm. Time to get out those sharpies again!


Friday, June 10, 2011

Bronzed, Shiny, Bulging Muscle With the Strength of an Ox

  So I do karate. And I'm into kettlebell. And I like to rollerblade and ride my bike and walk. All good stuff. So, you might think I'm some sort of fitness godess, all bronzed, shiny, bulging muscle and the strength of an ox. Of ten oxen.

 Well, you'd be wrong.

There is no bronzing here - unless it happens naturally because I forget sunblock. There are a few muscles, but I'd hardly call them bulging. And as for the strength of an ox? Well, not so much. I'm working on it though. Read on.

What I'd really like to be able to do is a pull-up. That's right. A pull-up. A single dog-darned pull-up! I've never been able to do pull-ups. And in all honestly, I don't think I ever really tried very hard. But it's one of those things that has gotten under my skin. I want to be able to do a pull-up!

And what got the idea in my head you ask? Is it all the fitness stuff I've been doing lately? Did I come across something on the web? Do I crave uber strength? Well, mostly, it's the fact that Sweet Pea - gentle little Sweet Pea, my little peanut - can do wicked pull-ups! You should see her go! She has to do them for a presidential fitness thing at school and every year she's among the highest in her class - beating out most of the boys too! That's awesome! My little girl! I'm so proud!

And while I'm not really competing - afterall she's 30 years younger than me, I went out and got a new pull-up bar for home. It's one those easily assembled things that fit in the doorway - Snickers and I spent about 8 hours assembling it one day.

Then I tried a pull-up. Tried being the operative word. Crap! Not a single one? Come on! But no. Not a one! It went like this:

Mom: OK, I'm gonna try one. Ready?
Sweet Pea: Ready!
Mom: OK, let me warm up my shoulders and lats. (Lots of arm swinging and flexing)
Sweet Pea: (giggling)
Mom: OK, here goes. (pull, grunt, pull)
Mom: Whoo hoo!! I made it half way!

So, I did some research. The proper way is to start from a dead hang, and pull yourself up from there. If I cheat, and start with my arms at a 90 degree angle, I can do one. From a dead hang I'm, well, dead. No go! Nada.

I read about the muscles that go into it (biceps, shoulders, abs and lots of lats - those nice muscles on your sides - under your armpits - you know the ones I mean.)

And, more importantly, I read about some ways to practice and get stronger if you can't even manage one pull-up. (And I'm not alone - from what I read many people, women and men, can't do a single pull-up, so I don't feel too bad). If you don't have access to a fully equiped gym, the key is doing 'negatives'. That involves starting in the top position with your chin over the bar - get there however you can. Have someone lft you, use a chair, whatever. (I use a kiddie step stool and a little hop). From there, slowly (the key being 'S-L-O-W-L-Y') lower yourself to the dead hang position. Lather, rinse, repeat.

So, I made a plan, every 2-3 days I do three sets of however many  negatives I can do. Usually that's 5 for the first and second sets and 3 for the last set. If I'm feeling particularly crazy I'll do a fourth set.

And it's paying off! The other day - I made it 80% of the way! Maybe 85%! (Stop laughing!) It was awesome!! Another couple of weeks and I'll be able to do one! (I said, stop laughing!) And once I can do one, nothing can stop me!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

60,000 Decibel Sneezes

  The other day I mentioned Snickers' knack for coming up with deep philosophical questions. Several years ago, as he was getting ready for bed (generally his most thoughtful time) he came up with this classic scenario:

"What if everyone in the world, even Santa Claus, sneezed at the same time. It would even scare god!"

That there is great! A quote for the ages!

Don't forget this comes from a child with a father who literally sneezes the roof off the house at about 60,000 decibels. Not only is the sneeze deafening, but the roof crashing back down is like a secondary aftershock. I kid you not! No wonder the poor kids was concerned with loud sneezes.


Monday, June 6, 2011

It All Depends on the Trajectory

  Snickers has quite a knack for coming up with deep philosophical questions. His latest went something like this:

"What's more dangerous - concrete or asphalt?"

I don't usually think about concrete or asphalt much. And when I do, it's not in terms of danger. But if you're a scooter rider who's taken a few tumbles it's an important subject. Do I aim for the concrete gutters? Or the asphalt? The correct answer is the grass! But if it's not available, which one is a better choice.

We came up with the following extensive list of pros and cons:

Pros: Smoother than asphalt.
Cons: Harder than asphalt (but not by much).

Pros: Softer than concrete (but not by much).
Cons: Rougher than concrete.

So, is it better to slide across concrete when flying out of control off a wheeled aparatus or better to slide across asphalt? I suppose it all depends on the trajectory. Are you sliding low and fast like you're sliding into first base? Are you coming from up high and bouncing a few times before stopping? Is there any rolling involved? What about torque and energy, mass and velocity?

Suddenly there is too much physics involved! How about we just avoid the asphalt, concrete, bricks and sewer grates altogether and aim for the grass.


Friday, June 3, 2011

They Are Upright. They Are Green. They Are Sticking Their Tongues Out At Me.

  Remember when I used to blog about the fish and snails? Yeah, me too.

But moving on, did I tell you I planted some sunflower seeds? Yes. I planted them before the danger of frost was past. And I know what you're thinking. You're thinking that was stupid! Now they're all dead and aren't you sorry?

Well, you're wrong. I was smart and I started them inside. But that doesn't mean that they aren't all dead, most of them are in fact. They started out so nice. Of the 18 I planted, about 14 sprouted. They were so happy and green! But then I forgot to water them. Only the healthiest 7 or so survived that.

Poor little things. So I watered them. And for some crazy reason, things started to get moldy. Damn plants!! Damn dirt! Damn mold spores! So, a couple of them rotted away at dirt level and toppled right out of the dirt. Hmmm. Not doing so good. Only about 5 left. I decided they would be better off on their own. A danger of frost certainly couldn't be any more dangerous to their leafy green livlihood than I. So, they are now outside, in a pot, on their own - the 3 that managed to survive the transplanting.

But the good news is that they are doing great (so far). They are upright. They are green. They are sticking their tongues out at me and saying 'Nah na na na na'.

Survival of the fittest I guess. These little guys should be the hardiest, healthiest, strongest sunflowers the world has ever seen!


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

I Want a Kiwi

  Kiwis are the cutest little things! I love kiwis! No, not that fuzzy green fruit. Those cute little birds from New Zealand. With their huge feet, long beaks and inability to fly we have something in common.

Apparently a rare white kiwi was just hatched recently in New Zealand. Click the picture below to read the article:

Isn't that just the cutest little thing? I want one!