Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Pipes of doom

Mr. Chez B. was washing dishes in our bathroom sink last night. We must do this because we have no kitchen at the moment, it being gutted and lonely for it's new outfit of cabinets, counters and flooring. Minor stuff, of course.

I was in another room attending to the bills. Mr. B. knows that this is a time to avoid disturbing me, because kissing all of our money good-bye is disturbing enough.
All was placid until I heard the commode flush and him say, "Uh-oh!"

Uh-oh? After a toilet flush? Not good.
Me: "What happened?"
Mr. B, sotto-voce:"Nothing..."
Me: "No, really. What happened?"
Mr. B:"Don't come in here..."

I went in.
He had discarded the dish water down the commode, because the f***ing bath tub is almost a whole extra step away, and flushed a hand-knitted hemp dishcloth down the loo.

Very nice.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Mad Love


Slow but satisfying progress. Knitting primarily on the train during my commute. I'm listening to Ghost Light by Joseph O'Connor.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Venture Out

Thank goodness these are bloody well done.

dave's socks some more

I was seeing Cammo in my sleep.

No glamor shots for Mr. Chez B. He just wants to get on with things. I think that the cuffs fit him better than they appear to in the photos. Things tend to slide at the end of a long day, don't they?

dave's socks

Yarn: Miss Babs Yummy Sock in Rock Wall, Sandnes Sisu in Pine for CC
Pattern: Alternate 1 K2, P2 row with 1 K row, repeat. It's Mr. Chez B's favorite pattern thus far. It's lovely to be able to send these woolly friends out into the world.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I've really no inerest

in the American Civil War. I don't really care for the statistics, battle sites and monuments. I grew tired of being called a Yankee when I lived in the South.

It was that damned Joseph O'Connor. I read Star of the Sea and Redemption Falls last spring. They were shape-changing spirits - haunting, dark and beautiful. They are, for me, the finest stories ever written.*

It's because of the lingering curiosities that these two books etched into me that I got so engrossed when I heard Adam Goodheart discuss the premise of 1861: The Civil War Awakening on NPR that I was captivated.

O'Connor paints delicately nuanced vignettes of the society of war-time America. Goodheart's book, I think, will fill in the cracks in the joints. I'm really looking forward to this as a study of social history.

*I'm no expert, but I am a literary snob. I slogged 4 years in a Literary Theory minor degree (so very useful and lucrative) during my undergraduate studies, (whilst learning to write lots of compound, annotated, passive-voice and run-on sentences) so I read book after book, and these are simply my favorites. Yes, I think you should read them. Read his entire catalog, in fact. He's poetic and quite funny.

Monday, April 11, 2011

"It's a Major Award!"

bodhi award

While at the dog park yesterday, Mr. Chez B. and the dogs were invited to an Easter Egg Hunt for Hounds which was sponsored by our local doggie washateria. Both doggies got prizes.

Most senior

Our beloved Bodhi was cited as biggest curmudgeon "Most Senior", and Ivan received the award for finding the most treats. Go figure - He's got my talent for finding food.

Most treats found

Ivan at home after lots of hard work sleuthing plastic Easter Eggs

Tuesday, April 5, 2011



Yarn: Madeline Tosh Sock, in colorway "Fathom".
A completely intoxicating color.

Project: Listen to your Wanderlust by Stephanie van der Linden

Needle: US 1 = 2.25 mm

Additional Yarns: The Loopy Ewe Solid Series, Saffron
Cascade Heritage, White

Monday, April 4, 2011

And the aul' ones eat, celebrate and finish strong


The Mister and I had a lovely late supper to celebrate his something-ith birthday the other night. May I suggest, if you are ever looking for something just a little high-end and find yourself in the cultural mecca that is South Pittsburgh, a visit to Bado's Cucina. Everything is served in small portions, and is really beautifully prepared. BYOB, and leave a little room for dessert.

Do make sure that if you are running a brutally hilly 10K first thing the following morning, you don't let your waitress control your wine portions.

You might feel like dying reluctant to tackle the hills and get to the finish line.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Maybe if I pray real hard and knit real fast, I can leave this purgatory.

Dave socks

More ESpresso, please.
Thank you kindly, anonymous commenter below. How sorry I am for my TYPO. You are really very helpful, Anonymous. EEJIT. Google it.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I fell off the wagon and broke my pancreas

"For one person in every ten, sugar is a deadly food, paving the way toward a hundred distressing physical symptoms, plus all the tortures of neurotic and even psychotic behavior. For that person a little sugar is akin to a little carbolic acid."
- Carlton Federicks, Ph.D., author of New Low Blood Sugar And You

Seriously. I can stop any time I want. it was just one small piece of pie. And a bit of ice cream. And the Clif gels I ate during my run.


So, Sunday, we had a very hectic day at Chez B. Nothing different about that, but I expended more energy on running, chores, grocery shopping, bills, budgeting, faith activities, dog minding and loads of housecleaning than I think should be expended on a Sunday.

By bedtime, I felt pretty desperate to squeeze some enjoyment out of the day, so I had a slice of the pie that I'd brought home for Mr. Chez B, and some ice cream on top of it, because apparently, I didn't believe that the pie was going to be enough of a system-shocker on it's own. I've been as sugar free as possible since January, and though I've had dessert a couple of times, I hadn't had many other added sweeteners or sugars, and very little alcohol. It was like a toxin combined with my stress level and fatigue.

That Sunday night was hell. I felt indescribably bizarre, got no sleep, and felt like I had some kind of blood-borne hangover the entire next day.

Time to re-affirm my sugar-free commitment. A huge thanks to David Gillespie for helping light the way.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Coming Up to SLIM 10K Day!

The 2011 SLIM 10K

I ran this last year (had a pretty good time), and there was no water left at the water stops and very few direction markers, so lets hope things are better put together this year. Lost, parched racers are bad news.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Nearly there

Sure it's all fun and games until the aul' lady falls apart.

My long training run the other day left me sore, discouraged, and feeling like a complete eejit.

7:3o AM

Mile one, it was the lungs. Don't smoke, kids, it's bad for you, and you never know when you might want those vital organs to function properly.

By mile 2, I was noticing that hopping out of the car and beginning the run right away (because yes, I was late to meet the training group) didn't really work as well for me as 15 minutes of warm-up and active stretching. I remained optimistic, though, and didn't let those pesky negative voices defeat me.

8:30 AM

At some point, I cheerfully noticed that the runner who, up until that time, had always been the last, had passed me, and I was running a steady pace a few hundred yards behind her. "Good for her! Way to go!" I thought.

Mile 6 and 7, my hamstrings were screaming for mercy.
The runner who had always been the last was now a black spec in the distance.

Mile 8 was just muscle memory. My blood sugar level was drooping, I was fatigued, and I wished I had remembered headphones (they're discouraged during the training runs, but when you're that far behind everyone else, it doesn't really matter), cause I was pretty sure that I could finish by nightfall if only I had some music to distract me.

I still don't get how I can go so slowly and till be "running", but I manage.

It was then that my silent Buddhist mantra was replaced with "near-ly there..." in cadence with my incredibly slow footfall. The scenery was becoming familiar again – I would make it back to the car somehow. Even if it felt like my right shin had shattered. Yes, definitely shattered.

By mile 8.95428 I must have been weeping. That can be the only explanation for the couple who passed me and looked back at me in alarm. What's so unusual about a middle-aged woman running in slow-mo begging to be airlifted to the parking lot? "Near-ly there..."

No real damage done to the old carcass, but a real wake-up call. 9 miles in 2 hours. Ouch! I had better be ready to be on my feet running for three hours (Yes! Pathetic, I know) for the half marathon. This Super-Slow Granny has some work to do.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Big feet, big socks

In a race against time, I endeavor to finish these


for the husband in time for his birthday in a couple of weeks. Trickier than one would think given the general hub-bub of the everyday.

Monday, March 7, 2011


The only thing the iPhone doesn't seem to be able to do is laundry. I'm in love.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, March 4, 2011

No Distress

I'm so grateful for the therapeutic properties of color and texture.

The more madness crows the few empty spaces of my life, the more I need the rhythmic, soothing muscle memory of knitting. Creative and practical.

DH and I are running out of wearable socks. We've used them up, loved them, worn them to the bitter end. So begins the ascent.

I've been listening to audio books and knitting on my commute to and from work (when I can get a seat), and it feels like cheating; no studying, no planning for the upcoming day, no worrying about what needs to be crossed off of the list.

Truthfully, those are the only moments of my day when I feel like I'm in charge of my time. It's been brilliant.

Spring Fallberry Socks
Above are the Fallberry Mitts by Anne Hanson. I think they'll make awesome socks.

Monday, February 21, 2011

It's fun to say "Bonk!", but it's no fun to do it

Yesterday, I had a group training run over 6 really hilly miles. Because I injured myself attempting to ski and had an awful week of training, I knew that I wouldn't be adequately prepared. The distance itself wasn't so much a concern as the hills, and the fact that I need very consistent training momentum in order to pull off what for me is a long run.

I got as much sleep as possible the night before, avoided sugar, and had what I felt was a pretty adequate breakfast well ahead of the run. So what did I do? Bonk. Tap out. Crash. Walk. Walk alot.

Friday, February 18, 2011

More than a little

I don't know if it's the warming trend or because I'm so stressed out, but I bought Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros' ep today on a whim, and I really, really like it. More than I expected to, and more than a little. Good therapy for mangled nerves. Have a listen:

 Watch "Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros "Carries On" 9/22/09 @ El Rey, LA" on YouTube 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Cross-Country Tumbling

Beautiful day spent mostly on my arse at Laurel Ridge State Park.

Cross Country Skiing- Laurel Ridge

CC Skiing is much more difficult than I anticipated. Even as a rookie runner, I kept looking at the terrain and thinking "If only I had my trail shoes, I could stay upright."

It's definitely a good time, though, and the husband even pulled a few ballet moves:

Cross Country Skiing- Laurel Ridge

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Warm Comfort

I've got too much on the go in all areas of my life just now, so anything I can do to unwind, even for a moment, seems like a mini-vacation. The bone-chilling cold hasn't help lift my spirits any - it's difficult to get out for very long with the dogs, and a chore to shovel and slog our way to anywhere.

I've found a great audio book, and the perfect thing to knit while I listen:

Malabrigo Confection

Makes the morning train ride into work fly by.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Serene Morning Run

My Morning Run

Me, NPR, and a snowy path. A really relaxing (and slow) 5 miler. I was supposed to be running with a training group, but a middle-of-the-night wakeup from the puppy kicked insomnia in, and once I finnaly conked out, I slept through my alarm.

In the end, it was probably just as well. I accomplished my goal and felt great. A much needed respite from the madness of everyday living.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

This was America

Looking at these old Kodachrome images, it's hard to believe they depict the same country I live in today. Some from the Northeast remind me of my parents' parents' homelands. Others, from further west, look like no place I've ever seen (cause I haven't).

Have a look at the gallery (link below). It's a remarkable timestamp on American History.

Captured: America in Color from 1939-1943

Monday, January 24, 2011

Pittsburgh Steelers Polka

The video gets no points for originality, but I love this local classic from my childhood. The home team are on their way to the Superbowl!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Gospel of Joy

Craptacular cell phone photo.

Sometimes rootsy, rugged and smokin' hot, then suddenly ethereal and sublime. That was the journey that Robert Plant and the Band of Joy navigated for listeners last night.

The musicianship was superlative, but the musicality was transcendent. Buddy Miller, Darrell Scott, Patty Griffin, drummer Marco Giovino and bassist Byron House were such a perfect compliment to Robert Plant's talents.

Miller, Scott and Griffin had an opportunity showcase their lead vocal talents, which was quite a treat. I'd forgotten how much I love the music of Buddy & Julie Miller as well as Griffin. Darrell Scott was a new name to me, though I learned that he is a wildly revered session player.

Buddy Miller takes the helm.

I wasn't particularly hoping for any Led Zeppelin tunes (though I love them), but listeners who were got to enjoy Gallows Pole, Tangerine, and the finest version of Rock n Roll I've ever heard.

If this outfit comes to within any reasonable distance from you, I absolutely recommend going. It will rip you a new soul.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sugar Rush and the Black and Gold Victory

Bodhi enjoys a snack during the NFL Wildcard playoff game

This past weekend, my home team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, managed to squeeze of a nail-biting victory over our arch-rivals, the Baltimore Ravens. They will meet the Jets next week for the final playoff to determine which teams play in the Superbowl. Sweet!

Speaking of sweet, I decided to play my hand at the sugar game. My self-imposed rule was that I would do my best to avoid any added sugar (including cane juice, molasses, artificial sweeteners, etc.) unless I baked something from scratch myself. My thinking was that even if I managed to make time to bake frequently (unlikely at best), I get really tired of eating lots of the same foods over and over unless they're part of my routine workday menu. It just doesn't feel special to have 5 servings of the same cake over a week. I love to bake, and would hate to not have that to look forward to on occasion. I also love really fine baked sweets. Special pastry and the like.

So I figured that I wouldn't overdo it.
And I didn't.
Not really, anyway. I made a French Silk Pie. Had a couple of pieces over the weekend. Had a great time making it. Delighted in that rare taste of chocolate.

I didn't recon on my appetite for sugar roaring again after I'd had some. Sugar as an addiction? I'm a believer. I actually woke up looking forward to my sugar ban.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Making Deep End Dance

This clip refers to a lovely short film that was part of RTE's Dance on the Box series. The film in full can be seen here.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

iHot Diggity!

The wait has felt like forever, but finally Verizon is launching the iPhone. That means that I can properly synch my digital life and stop struggling to make everything seamless and compatible.

Here are some quick facts about Verizon's release. Kudos to my step daughter, a Verizon employee, for keeping it a secret from me.

Sorry, Android.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Self-defined Moratorium on Sugar: My Bad Idea

So this year, I declared war on my own sugar intake. Before beginning, I decided that there could be a few exceptions to my self-imposed sugar ban. After all, I definitely don't do well if I tell myself I can't have a thing ever. I end up wanting it all the more. My exceptions are:

1) My birthday
2) Having a serving or two of desserts I bake from scratch myself. I love to bake, and have so little time to do so that I can't imagine this having a huge overall impact on the plan. Also, I get really tired of eating the same thing repeatedly as a treat. I eat the same things at the same time every workday, so having cake all week long doesn't feel like fun; it feels like an extension of the workday.
3) Profiterol in Europe. Yes, just about anywhere in Europe. Just one serving, one time, OK?

Removing all added sugar from my diet, while pretty difficult, proved to be a success from the start. I've felt better, run better, slept better, and started losing a few pounds right away. It's been a challenge to get over using sugar as a reward, and the chocolate monkey on my back keeps making noise, but the benefits far outweigh the challenges.

Enter the birthday: I definitely didn't go wild, but I purchased a couple of chocolates at my favorite local choc shop, and had dessert at a fancy dinner out (at which I ate far more rich food than I usually would) in addition to a really disappointing dessert on my birthday. The result was an entire day of feeling sluggish and crabby, and a really lethargic "run". I think I gained back most of the weight I lost.

Now I need a sugar detox:

Friday, January 7, 2011

Grande Not-te

Dear Starbucks Employee:
I apologize for having interrupted your studying in order to have a drink made. How inconsiderate of me. I can appreciate that you likely wish you were somewhere else on this bleak winter day. Also, it's Friday. My mind is wandering a little, too.

However, in light of your company's decision/need to increase their costs, I would think that one might be a bit more cognizant of one's service level. I have been your low-maintenance customer for many years, nearly always ordering the same foamy, delicious beverage and never excited when things went a little pear-shaped behind the counter.

I paid nearly four dollars for you to throw some warm milk into a cup with a shot of espresso and wish me a nice afternoon. Craptacular.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Day Three of (almost) Sugar Free

2011 is my year of No Added Sugar. 

In an effort to reclaim my health and my good fitness level, I decided to cut the crap and lower my sugar intake. Having thought through my current nutritional needs as a runner and hypoglycemic person, I decided that eating more whole foods, reducing my overall sugar intake (in things like fruits and other carbs) and avoiding added refined sugar, cane juice and other sweeteners was a really good challenge for me.

I've been monitoring the nutritional breakdown of foods I've adopted to stabilize my blood sugar and improve my fledgling athletic performance. Turns out that despite my overall good eating habits and active lifestyle, I am a sugar fiend.

Things got pretty real when we adopted a puppy - this little guy needed constant training and supervision, so my personal time, and my running routine, went completely South. I gained almost 10 pounds in just a few months. That's quite a bit for my frame. It also destroyed my balance of fitness/nutrition. I eat healthy foods, but need a high activity level to process what I eat in a healthy way. Add the holidays and all the sugary foods I love and it's a recipe for complete disaster.

My mission: to stop eating added sugar unless I bake something for the family and to cut my naturally occurring sugar intake drastically.

The challenge: I love sweets, and even though I typically eat them in a balanced way, so, so many of the "healthy" convenience foods I rely on to keep my blood sugar at the right level contain hidden sugars.

Wish me luck. Bye-bye, cane juice.