Rediscovering Running

Finally, the heat wave broke.

If you live in North America (and I’m sure most of you do, except for Chef’s aunt in Argentina — shout out to Aunt Kim!), you know that this has been one hot summer.  Certainly it seems to be the hottest summer in the last four years or so.  And when the temperature is 97 with a heat index of 115 (36 and 46 for my Canadian friends — Yo Thelma!), it’s freaking hard to go running outdoors.  Even assuming I didn’t have to be at work at the ridiculous hour of 6:30 am, it has been oppressive even in the mornings.  And I simply got out of the habit of going to the Y.

At last, however, we got some relief this week with temps dropping a good 10-15 degrees and humidity dropping from 70% to 40%.  And that change allowed me to make nice with my old friend, running.  I dusted off the Nikes and went out for a couple of miles.  And two days later, I did it again.  And I remembered why I love running.

The solitude.

The connection I have with my town when I’m not in my house or my car, but just by myself out in the community.

The feel of my lungs expanding, my feet pounding, my arms and legs and heart pumping.

The breeze on my cheeks.

The stress and worry of the day sloughing off with each step and each breath.

And now, I have to get a lot of running done in the next few days because my surgery is Friday.  With surgery on the other foot likely in November or December, I won’t be able to run again until February or March.

I think I might cry.

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Please pass the tacos. And the cookies. And the running shoes. And a double helping of serenity.

On Thursday, I was an emotional eater.

I got to work, and it was just one of those days when I just didn’t want to be there.  I was feeling grouchy.  Then one of my co-workers gave me some information about a higher-up, and what this higher-up did made me angry and frustrated because it was a stupid thing to do.  Later, one of our nurse practitioners came to my office to see me.  She had a problem she hoped I could help her out with.  I didn’t think I could do what she wanted, but I told her I’d try and then get back with her.  I made a phone call, found out what I needed, and not 10 minutes after she left my office, I went to find her to tell her the news.  When I asked others if they knew where she was, three people said, “She’s not here today.”  Hello?!  She was just in my office.  After that, I had what felt like a bazillion phone calls regarding patients not wanting to pay their medical bills, and these calls were topped off by emails asking me to make a bunch of decisions that I’m not really equipped to make.

And this was all before ten in the morning.

So I went to the break room.  A pharmaceutical rep had brought coffee and bagels.  I didn’t need a bagel.  I wasn’t hungry.  In spite of that fact, I slathered a giant blueberry bagel with cream cheese and I ate it.

The late morning didn’t really go much better, and at lunch (which was brought in by another pharmaceutical rep) I filled my plate fuller than I really needed to.  After my mid-morning snack, I didn’t need to eat much for lunch, but the food was from one of my favorite restaurants, and it smelled sooooo good.  Oh, and I was still feeling grumpy.  The fact that my skirt was feeling a little bit snug unfortunately didn’t seem to make a bit of difference.

The afternoon continued to be not so great.  Then I got home and had a fight with Chef.  I was upset and angry and frustrated and I really really needed to go for a run.

I put on my shoes and headed to the park with the plan to run three miles.  The first half mile, I ran really fast because I was mad.  Then I started to pray that God would just help me to release my anger and my frustration.  Have you seen the movie The Green Mile?  And the one guy sucks evil or sickness out of a person and then breathes it out and it looks like flies coming out of his mouth?  I was imagning that each breath I blew out was all the anger and frustration I had in me.  Then I imagined that the breeze I was running into was blowing layers of grumpiness away.

By the end of the third mile, I was in a much better frame of mind.  I decided to just sit for a while in the park, enjoying the beautiful weather and the shade of a giant tree.  I ran back home, making a small detour to check out the progress of the Chinese buffet that is going into the old Dairy Queen in town.  Then I ran back home.

My run was good therapy for my frustrations.  And hopefully it burned off a bit of that bagel, too.

The Garden of Contentment

Finally, after several weekends and a few evenings of working on it, we got all the remnants of our shed removed from our back yard, got the ground worked up, and got seeds planted.  We planted things late — it was the last day of June before we got anything into the ground.  I wasn’t sure how well things would grow since summer is already in full swing.

But just a week later, we had sprouts!  Now, just two weeks after those little seeds went into the dirt, we have some serious plants.  I’m so excited.

I’m excited because this will save on our grocery bill.  Of course I can’t know how much grocery money we will save, and we’re not growing any of the real staples of American cuisine (such as potatoes or corn or beans), but we’ve got three hills of butternut squash, which we love to eat in a sweet, spicy, creamy soup in the fall and winter.  And we’ve got a whole row of pumpkins, which we can use in similar soups, and make into pies, and stew and freeze for use all winter and into the spring.  We have a lot of cucumber plants.  And while I like cucumbers, I’m not sure I can eat that many of them.  Maybe we can make them into pickles… although I’m not a huge fan of pickles.  Chef likes them, though.  But did we get the right kind of cucumbers for pickles?  I don’t know, and I’ll have to do some research.  We’ve also got a row of watermelons.  Again, while I really like watermelon, it will be interesting to see how many watermelon we’ll get and how many we’ll be able to eat.  (Anyone got any great watermelon recipes?  I’m wondering about putting the fruit into the blender, straining out the seeds, and freezing it for use in… well, I don’t have that part figured out yet.  Smoothies, maybe?)  Last, we planted two rows of lettuce.  From everything we heard and read, it was totally the wrong time to plant lettuce; you’re supposed to plant it in either early spring or late summer.  So we’ve got some lettuce poking up, but not much.  We have saved back some seeds to plant another batch at the end of this month or the middle of next.

In my mind, I call our little plot “The Garden of Contentment.”  I like our home and where we live, but for a number of years I’ve been frustrated with our small yard and inability to grow our own vegetables.  But this tiny square of dirt, out of which are poking pretty little plants, eases my frustration.  Although for years I’ve had dreams of a smaller house with more acreage, this garden is creating contentment in my heart.  The yard might not be as big as I’d like, but we can have a garden.  And for some reason, that is making all the difference.

I love my small town.  I love that I can get around almost entirely by foot or bicycle, and I love that I can watch the July 4 fireworks from my driveway.  The lack of a garden was a sticking point, and now it’s no longer stuck.  I’m no longer yearning for a different place to live.  I’m really, truly happy with where we live.

Crazy Eights: VIII

1. I decided that instead of having surgery on my left foot this year and my right foot next year, I’m going to try to have them both done this year.  I had made the one per year decision because I still wanted to have two full springs, summers, and autumns being able to run.  But then I thought about my $1500 insurance deductible, which I would have to pay twice if I did it that way, and only once if I got them both done this year.  It makes more financial sense to have them both done in the same calendar year if possible.  Plus, I’m really sick of having pain in my feet and being unable to find shoes that fit.  Let’s get this over with.  I have an appointment with the doctor in August (though I might try to move that up if I can) and I’ll see how soon we need to do the left in order to get the right done this year.

2. I’m entering a medical research study about menstrual migraines.  I don’t have them as bad as some people do, but I do get them.  I’ll go to the doctor once a month, take either medication or a placebo the first seven days of each of my cycles, and get paid $30 per doctor visit for a total of six or seven visits over six months.  That’s at least $180 that’s going toward our debt, baby!

3. A garage sale this weekend will also put money toward our debt.  Gosh, garage sales are a lot of work.  I really hope this makes me some money.  Either way, I’m getting a lot of stuff out of my house.  If I don’t sell it, it’s going to a thrift store or something… IMMEDIATELY!

4. Chef and I, plus his family and some of our friends, are going to the Indiana Dunes next week to camp.  I’ve never been there, and I’m excited.  There won’t be any blog posts from me next week.  Buck up.  You’ll be okay.

5.  We go to the Farmers’ Market pretty much weekly.  The one thing that bothers me about it is that there are vendors there who aren’t selling LOCAL produce.  I mean, isn’t the that the whole point of the Farmers’ Market?  We went a couple of weeks ago and saw some nice looking tomatoes.  We asked the vendor, “What kind of tomatoes are these?”  He said, “Red ones.”  He had no idea the variety, and I’ve discovered that the vendors who grow their own tomatoes almost always know the variety.  So I said, “Are they local?”  He said, “Them’s from Mississippi.”  Seriously?  Why would I go to an Indiana Farmers’ Market to buy Mississippi tomatoes?  We passed him by, and will continue to do so every time we’re there.

6. I can’t wait until someone has good, sweet, local corn for sale.  We bought some corn at the Farmers’ Market (not from the Mississippi tomato guy), and it was not good and not sweet.  I think the next corn we buy will be from the farm down the road from us that has a farm stand.  I’ve always heard that they have good corn, every year.

7.  I’m sure Mississippi tomatoes are just fine.  I just think a local Farmers’ Market should have local produce.  Nothing against Mississippi.

8. I dreamed last night that I got a second job that allowed me to work two nights a week and I was excited because it’s a place I’ve wanted for a long time to work (and have been interviewed there twice, but the jobs I want are not full time so I haven’t been able to take them).  But when I think about it in reality, I’m not sure I have the energy to work two nights per week on top of what I already do.  So instead I submit my body to research for $180 and get both my feet operated on in one year to save $1500 and sell all the junk in my closets in hopes of a little cash.

Physical and Financial Fitness

It’s long past time to pull out the old Sonic Flyer.

I wanted to ride my bike earlier this spring, but I noticed that the back tire had a rather large bulge in it.  Fearful that the tire might pop while I was miles away from home, I put off riding until we saved up for a new tire.  Finally, the money for the tire fit in the budget, and Chef and I went to the store to buy it.  And then the tire sat on the kitchen counter for a while.

I asked my father-in-law, cyclist-extrordinaire, to help me change the tire.  He agreed, and came over one evening for dinner and we went into the garage to get the job done.

Only, Chef and I don’t really have any tools in our garage.  (This was a confusing concept to our neighborhood friend, Dennis the Menace, who came over one evening asking to borrow a set of Allen wrenches.  Chef told him we didn’t have any.  Dennis said, “But you have that garage out there!”)  There used to be tools in the garage, but when Chef moved his business out of the home a few years ago, the tools went with the business.  We really need to buy tools for home.

Anyway, we needed a wrench to get the wheel off the bike, and we didn’t have one.  So the bike had to keep waiting forlornly in the garage.

A week later, I came home to find that the wheel was off my bike.  Hooray!  Chef had brought home a wrench and taken off the wheel and replaced the tire.  The next day, he put the wheel back on, and I went for a nice five mile ride after work.

A couple of years ago, when gasoline got up to $4 per gallon, I started riding my bike to work.   Although gasoline is cheaper now, I think it’s high time I started taking the old Sonic Flyer to work a couple of days a week.  Mondays and Thursdays I have to drive to the post office to get the company mail, and there’s no good way to get from the post office to my workplace on a bike, and on Wednesdays I work for Chef.  But I think it’s completely reasonable for me to ride to work on Tuesdays and Fridays.  Thankfully, there is a shower at the doctors’ office, so I can freshen up before I start the work day.  The office is a mere six miles from my house, and it takes me a little over half an hour to ride it.  Since I start work at 6:30 in the morning, I know I have only a short time before it’s back to being pitch black in the morning, and I don’t feel safe riding when it’s really dark.  But for now, the sun is starting to come up by the time I would need to leave, and I have a reflective vest I can wear, as well as a blinking red light to clip onto my back.

I honestly don’t know how much gas money I would save by doing this, but I know it would be some.  And some is better than none, right?  Plus, it will help me shave off the pounds I’ve been trying to lose.

Do any of you bike or walk or run to work?  If so, is it for your physical fitness, your financial fitness, or both?

TOMATOES!

On Friday, we went to the town Farmer’s Market and bought eight tomato plants.  We got Cherry Roma, Sunsugar, Early Cascade, German Johnson, Dixie Golden Giant, Amana Orange Heirloom, Djena Lee’s Golden Girl, and Aunt Ruby’s German Green.

In previous years, we had tried to grow tomatoes in pots.  It just doesn’t work very well.  The plants don’t have enough room for their roots, or they don’t get enough nutrients, or something.  I’m not sure the reason, but we’ve never gotten more than a few tomatoes off each potted plant.  So this year, we have a spot to put them in the ground.

Chef had helped me to pull up all the tiger lilies and Japanese spurge and I replanted most of the lilies of the valley that were in the small plot where we wanted to put the tomatoes.  Saturday evening, with our tomato plants ready to be in the ground and our ground ready for the plants, Chef helped me get our future tomatoes into the soil.  And by helped me, I mean he did all the hard work and I took photos, handed him plants, and made a map of where we put each plant in the plot.

Our little neighborhood friend, Dennis the Menace, watched and gave advice until it was time to go work on his soapbox derby car.

Chef worked up the soil, dug holes, and got four plants installed in the back row of the plot.  This was not as easy as it might sound because there were a lot of rocks in the dirt.  Rocks about half the size of my fist, and there must have been over 100 of them.  Seriously.  Not to mention the bricks we had been storing underneath all those tiger lilies for when we might use them for something someday.  The rocks and the bricks went into the trash can, and I’m thankful that as I write this, they are on their way to the landfill.

Loosening all that soil can be backbreaking work… unless you have the Garden Claw!  We got our Garden Claw from Chef’s brother, and this is lucky because it’s Not Sold in Stores.  It doesn’t really work as well As Seen On TV, but it does keep you from having to bend down to dig.

Chef very lovingly put each plant into the soil.

Finally, all eight plants were in the ground.

Most of the plants already have flowers, and one has tiny green tomatoes on it.  We are keeping a log to track when we get fruit from each one, and what we like or don’t like about each flavor.  We chose our varieties kind of blindly this year, although we did have help from the farmer selling the plants.  Next year, I hope we’ll be able to make more educated decisions.

Now, bring on the sun!  Happy tomato season, everyone!

Randomness

There has simply been no time for blogging lately.  Here’s what’s happening in my little part of the world, for those of you who might care:

100 Push Ups. I’m now on week 4.  I thought about repeating week 3 because it was kind of hard, but I ended up doing okay on the last day of week 3, so I pushed ahead.  Let me just tell you.  Week 4 = owie.  But I can now do at least 25 push ups in one go, whereas when I started, I could do only about 10.  How are you doing on your 100 push ups challenge?

Gardening. My mom and Chef suggested a couple of spots in our yard where we could actually have a vegetable garden.  That’s very exciting!  But now the work begins.  One spot has flowers that need to be dug up and/or moved.  And the soil underneath has a lot of rocks in it.  I think the previous owners must have dumped gravel there, or something.  It’s going to be a task to work up the ground.  The other spot is where our shed used to be before we tore down the dilapidated old thing.  But it’s also where we’re temporarily storing our canoe.  So I need to clean out the garage so I can put the canoe in there, then pull up the soggy plywood that pretended to be a subfloor in the shed… then get rid of the weeds and the extra siding and guttering and paving bricks that are in that corner of the yard.  Then I need to till it up.  Oh my.  I honestly don’t know if we’ll have a garden this year.  It might be next year before I get all this stuff done.

Volunteering. In addition to running on the NF Endurance Team (I’m doing terribly at raising funds, by the way, so if you would pretty please click that link and donate, I would be ever so grateful), I’ve signed up to volunteer for Minnetrista in their Farmers’ Market and the Cardinal Greenways for their events.

Knitting. I’m still plugging away on Christmas gifts for 2010.  I have about four gifts almost finished (they just need some sewing, but all the knitting is done on them) and one about half way complete.  I’m really hoping I’ll get everything done in time for Christmas.  After that, I told my mom I’d try to knit her a sweater if she’d look through my pattern books and consult with me on what she likes and I’m able to do.  And at some point, I’d like to maybe knit baby blankets for the crisis pregnancy center in town.

Job hunting. Let’s face it:  I’m always looking for a job.  I just applied for two today, and one of them sounds especially great.  I would love to get that one.  It would utilize more of my skills than my current job does, and I think I would enjoy it much more than shuffling papers around.

New Business Idea? About a week ago, I sent out some postcards to friends.  They were Indiana postcards that we’d gotten free at the State Fair last year.  I used my last one, so I searched the town for postcards of our little burg.  I’m sure that if I go to the bigger city next door, I’d find postcards, but they wouldn’t be of my little town.  I couldn’t find postcards anywhere that featured my little town.  So I’m thinking of taking photos and making my own postcards, and then perhaps selling them.  I don’t have all the logistics worked out yet, but the idea is percolating in my brain.

Running. Good golly, it’s hard to fit running in when I’m doing all this other stuff.  I still get in five miles every Wednesday, and usually three on Saturdays.  I try to run at least two miles two other days during the week, but it’s not always easy.  I went to visit my parents last week, and it’s very hilly around their home.  I ran hills like we in central Indiana have never seen.  Yowza.

Writing. I haven’t been doing a lot of blogging lately (obviously), nor much work for Demand Studios.  I have, however, been trying to be better at letter writing.  It really is a lost art, and I know I like getting letters in the mail, so I want to be better at that.  It’s just more enjoyable to me than email.  I’m also trying to work on a book, but my motivation waxes and wanes.  I really do want to get the book finished by the end of this year — even better would be the end of the summer — but finding the time to do it at the same time that I’m feeling motivated is a definite challenge.

General fitness. I’ve noticed an increasing amount of jiggle in my tummy area lately, so I’m trying to work that off.  I’ve lost 2.5 pounds in 2 weeks.  Yay for me!  I would love to do some form of exercise every day.  Mondays are tough because I work 10 hours and then we have Monday Night Dinner.  But sometimes I can squeeze in a walk in between.  I want to be riding my bike more, but I need to change a tire, which my father-in-law was going to help me do this last Monday, but then we discovered that our garage is almost completely void of tools.  The tools all migrated to the shop when Chef moved his studio out of our home.  So I need to get a hold of a wrench, at the very least, before we make a second attempt.  I’m also attempting to curb my eating, which is tough to do when you’re married to a chef who makes amazing meals all the time.  I just have to remind myself that the meal I’m currently eating is not the last delicious meal I will ever eat.

Bunions. They are still there.  They still hurt sometimes.  I’m trying to wear my more sensible shoes more often and lace my running shoes very loosely.  I’m still nervous about surgery, but still determined to get it done.  And still doing those push ups so that I will be able to get around on crutches.

So I haven’t forgotten about this blog.  I just have been a little too busy to spend much time on it.  Please don’t hate me.  Instead, come running with me!  Or help me dig up my soil for a garden, or write me a letter, or just come over for a visit.

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