I hear juncoes everywhere these days. It’s spring, and they’re all singing.
Ok, so week two (or three) or my cult-like fitness program. How is it going, you ask? It’s pretty great — I am exercising 6 days a week and eating kale like a mofo. Plus we meet with coaches and have lectures about nutrition and tons of support. It’s fucking exhausting, though. I’m sure I’ll get used to it, but I think the last time I exercised this much I was 23. I’m in bed by 8:30 and I pretty much sleep like a log. There’s no way I could have done this when the kids were home — it’s almost a full time job by itself. I may have lost a half a pound at most, but with any luck I have turned some fat into muscle. I might be stronger, but honestly I am so tired I can’t really tell. Apparently you have to be careful to eat enough or there’s a danger of permanently resetting your metabolic rate much lower and never ever being able to eat again. So I’m trying to eat enough, which is a little hard when all you’re eating is kale, apples and oatmeal (ok and other stuff). I’m supposed to be feeling an abundance — I’m feeling an abundance, all right. An abundance of pain! (Okay, it’s not that bad.) Anyway. I am good at some things — like lifting weights — and I am bad at others — jumping jacks and running. How I hate running. I always have. I can row and ride a bike all day long but I really hate to run. I am sure I will get better at it, but it is just not my favorite.
The wind was blowing, and it was so clear on Sunday that you could see the Farallon Islands — the little lump on the horizon above the bridge pillar, but much more obvious in life than in the picture.
It was a good weekend! We saw a play, saw friends, went shopping at the farmer’s market and did some cooking for the week, went for a little hike — quite pleasant.
I just remembered that M is coming on Wednesday, which means I had better make sure her room is not full of extraneous crap.
Hoping to get out this weekend.
My hiking partner has a pulled hamstring, which has me at a loss. It’s much easier to go if you’ve made plans to pick someone up.
Still, it’s always worth it when you manage to make yourself go. I ran into a woman last weekend — we were hiking at the same pace, and it was dusk, and we’d both stopped to look at some bluebirds. I didn’t know her, but it seems at least possible that I may run into her again. She’s taken birding classes with the same Audubon group that I have, which reminded me to sign up again.
So, I guess it can also be nice to walk with a complete stranger — maybe that’s my point here.
In any case, I am very glad it’s the weekend.
Also, we’ve run out of half and half and god knows what else — so it’s time to go to the grocery store.
You can see I’ve got quite a weekend looming ahead of me . . . I’ll keep you posted.
It’s Chinese New Year, or actually it was yesterday, if you’re in China. M is visiting A’s family. It sounds like fun. There are firecrackers and dumplings and red envelopes stuffed with money. (!)
I . . . am feeling rather busy, although I think that’s a good thing.
Perhaps I will begin with lunch.
1. Maggie came to visit!
We went out for a fancy dinner, which was epically fun. It turns out her husband went to school when and where K and I did, and in fact lived across the street from us. Maps were drawn on the table-cloth paper.
2. I have joined this cult — well, it’s actually this kind of intense fitness thing at work which is about more than just fitness. It’s about forming healthy habits a la this guy. It involves things like wellness visions. There is a certain lack of irony involved, which I find difficult, — and yet, there is something to all this. Eating differently makes me hungry, which makes me grumpy, which makes me think about what sorts of feelings I may have been deadening with food. What have I been afraid of?
Joy’s post this morning about Lent (you should read the whole thing) resonates, too —
With our borrowed lives, in our Lent bodies, with our unknown Return dates, consider: What is it you need over the next 40 days to break out of patterns that have become prisons? What do you need in order to arrive at Easter feeling more alive than ever, with a feeling that your life has marked some Xs where once there were dragons?
I am not a religious person in the least, but it’s similar, actually, and it makes me understand Lent — this period of deprivation shakes things lose, makes you question what you thought was true, maybe makes a new way of living possible. So, I am working on my wellness vision and my ideal self and eating lots of kale — which is fine, I really like kale — and exercising, which is also kind of great.
We’ll see what happens.
So, it was a long weekend, and what did I do? I can’t even remember.
Laundry, I think, and some cooking — certainly that. We watched Thelma and Louise for Valentine’s day (well, not really, but it was on and it was Valentine’s day –) I actually like that movie. I don’t think I saw it when it came out, and the first time I saw it I might have been underwhelmed. But I liked how it’s so clear, in the world of the movie, that there really is no place for them in this world, no matter what Slocumb may think. I love how Geena Davis moves from befuddled to awake and certain. I love the Brad Pitt character, and how Susan Sarendon goes from tidy to free as she discards piece after piece after piece of her former life. I like the scenery, too.
I talked to my mother on the phone. She’s turning 80 this year, and talking about moving out of her big house and into a smaller one. It’s not even clear where — she started talking about San Diego, which seems completely irrational to me. We don’t know anyone in San Diego. Maybe that’s the point? Anyway, it will be very, very hard to say goodbye to that old house.
I went for a couple walks and saw some birds and generally cleaned up a little. We kicked around some vacation plans.
It’s odd. I was very excited to have a weekend empty of all plans, but then it was actually a little boring in actuality. And also, I should definitely begin a massive Marie Kondo tidying effort but I really did not feel like it. Maybe that’s better left for my retirement.
I think this fitness thing, too, is sapping my will to live. I’m hungry, and when I’m hungry I get grumpy. Luckily, I am going out for dinner tonight. thank god — I cannot wait.
My bookgroup did come over last night for dinner. It’s a new thing — we’ve met for something like 20 years, but generally after dinner. Now we have a member who lives over the bridge, and none of us have kids at home anymore, so it just makes sense that we meet for dinner. It’s a bit of effort if you’re the host — but it’s worth it. It’s so much fun to have dinner together. There are only five of us, so it’s not so difficult. I think we have better conversations, too. I think we are distracted by eating, which may somehow make it easier to talk about the book.
In any case, it was so great to have all these old friends in my kitchen while I finished up dinner, and then sitting around my kitchen table in deep and serious discussion (well, kinda, yeah).
I made this wonderful, delicious soup,
Chickpea, Tomato and Bread Soup
1 large onion, halved and sliced
1 medium fennel bulb, sliced
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 carrot, peeled, cut lengthways in half and sliced
3 celery stalks, sliced
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 cup white wine
14 oz. can Italian plum tomatoes
1 Tbsp. chopped oregano (or 1 tsp. dried)
2 Tbsp. chopped parsley
1 tsp. thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
2 tsp. sugar
4 1/2 cups vegetable stock
salt and black pepper
2 large slices (4 oz) stale sourdough bread ( crust removed)
2 1/2 cups chickpeas (freshly cooked or canned which have been rinsed and drained)
4 Tbsp. basil pesto
handful of shredded basil leaves
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the onion and fennel in a large saucepan, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and saute on medium heat for about 4 minutes. Add the carrot and celery and continue cooking for 4 minutes, just to soften the vegetables, stirring occasionally. Stir in the tomato paste and stir as you cook for 1 minutes. Add the wine and let it bubble away for a minute or two.
Add the canned tomatoes with their juices, the herbs, sugar, vegetable stock and some salt and pepper. Bring to boil, then cover and leave to simmer gently for about 30 minutes.
While you wait, break the bread into rough chunks. Bake for about 10 minutes or until thoroughly dry. Set aside.
About 10 minutes before you want to serve the soup, place the chickpeas in a bowl and crush them a little with a potato masher or the back of a spoon; you want some to be left whole. Add them to the soup and leave to simmer for 5 minutes. Next add the toasted bread, stir well and cook for another 5 minutes. Taste the soup and add salt and pepper.
Ladle the hot soup into bowls. Spoon some pesto into the center and finish with shredded basil if desired.
And a Nantucket Cranberry Pie, as here:
This dessert from Laurie Colwin’s More Home Cooking (Harper Perennial 2000) is easy, pretty and delicious.
Serves 6 to 8
For the Filling:
Butter, to grease a pie plate
2 cups chopped cranberries (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
For the Topping:
3/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon almond extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Place the cranberries in a buttered, 9- or 10-inch pie plate. Toss the sugar and walnuts, and sprinkle over the berries.
Mix together the eggs, butter, sugar, flour and almond extract until smooth.
Pour the topping over the cranberry mixture and bake for 40 minutes.
Someone brought a salad, and someone else brought lobster ravioli. It was great. We were on hiatus for a year or two, and I’m so glad we’re meeting again.
We read the Lobster Kings, which we decided was pretty much a soap opera. there were parts we did like — the island — and it was interesting to figure out how it could have been better (why first person, could the structure have been twisted, not make the love interest so blatant, so many blind leads (the inexplicable number of large coats) and maybe too much detail and for the love of good why did they all have to be painters?) For next month, we’re reading the Blind Man’s Garden, and we have a lead on another book that sounds like it might be good — the Visionist.
So, feeling happy, and lucky to have such good friends and good things to read.
This week has been awfully busy, starting out with last week, actually.
Also, my book group is coming over for dinner tonight, and I really just want to go home and worry about that. Hmm. It’s tempting to do that, as a matter of fact.
Also, I have embarked on a new fitness regimen. We have a kickoff lunch today, which I’m about to go to, but my arms are so sore from the gym today that I’m not sure I’m going to be able to raise a fork to my mouth. Or remain upright on a chair, for that matter.
I suppose that’s a good thing.
I’m just a little tired is all. Tired and slightly overwhelmed.
That is all.
It rained all weekend. I cooked, did laundry and read. I finished the Luminaries. I recommend it. And I started the Lobster Kings.
I went for a hike up in Tilden and saw: many quail, a coyote, a rabbit, a male northern harrier. And I heard two great horned owls hooting to each other. It was lovely. It amazes me how much wildlife is around once you start to look.
I baked a cake for a birthday party one night and went out to dinner another.
On the one hand, I feel like I got nothing done, and on the other it was kind of a perfect weekend.