Saturday, January 24, 2009

It's Back....

Well, we are back to Arctic Chicago but at least the sun is out. I have made progress on the cooking front. I now love squash and sweet potatoes. They both last a long time, being the slacker I am, I don't always cook things when I originally plan to and they end up sitting. Secondly, all you have to do is slice them in half, scoop out the seeds in the case of butternut squash, pour some olive oil and a little salt and pepper and then just let them cook in the oven for 45 minutes. I still had honey from Prairie Fruit Farms and I had left over candied ginger, so once the squash finished and a round of laundry as well, I poured a little honey over them and put some cut up ginger on top then I microwaved it. I have to say, it was very tasty and very filling and I got a dose of vitamins and nutrients at the same time. So cooking the squash is a total win/win food. I originally was put off by all the squashes because they are big and cumbersome but once I got over that, they are probably one of the easiest foods to cook. So my latest must have a lot of food, is the squash and I will add on the side some sauteed spinach in butter and soy sauce and my tummy is very happy!!!
 And this week I volunteered at the Lincoln Park Conservatory as part of my retail job.  I ran up there, volunteered and ran back. I had never been in the conservatory before and it is very cool. It is very, very green and I got my total green fix and breathed in all the oxygen given off by the plants. We helped to rake leaves away from the bottoms of the plants because they decay and give off lethal gases for the plants and attract all the bottom feeder insects like cockroaches. This was another win/win situation for me, I was really happy to discover all the nooks and cranny's of the conservatory like the fern room which felt very prehistoric. I got a great run in, not a 2 hour run, that is on the agenda for tomorrow,( it has not been a week yet since I made that commitment),but I was running all over Lincoln Park trying to figure out where the Conservatory was, I got it mixed up with the Peggy Norbert Nature Museum,  which I guess happens often. But I think the Conservatory is another hidden gem of Chicago. AN since I was there on a Friday morning, it was deserted.
   Finally, I have fallen for marketing and love the movie store in Itunes. I got my fix in again of the Big Lebowski and then saw the newest Coen brothers movie, Burn After Reading which was very funny!!!!!!!!!!  Being a "slacker", who is not to love, a guy named Dude???? And Burn After Reading has a great cast, but it is just very funny because it has big name stars but they are all in roles that are parodies of themselves and the Coen brothers make fun of so many conventional things that is a part of the media and society that we live in but in subtle ways and they get you to think at the same time.
So my running has been going, my leg is still achy in the hamstring area which stinks for yoga, I am going to a brief writing workshop right after I end this and I cooked a little and my job situations is still in the air!!!!!!! But between now and Tuesday which will be a week since my other post, I will get a Chapter/Scene done for the Jagged Edge and I will get in a 2 hour run in terms of a job that sustains me financially but that I am really interested in doing, that is an ongoing project!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 
                  Ciao.........  JB

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I Miss.....



My aunt Betty died last week and I went to the memorial service her son, my cousin David, had for her, at her house where she lived for 50+ years in Berkeley. She lived to 94, with a wonderful, loving caretaker, Maurra, and her son, David, my cousin,  and his wife, Tangela nearby. But I still miss her. My father died when I was 13 and Betty was his sister and the only relative other than her son (and his sons) on that side of the family. My grandmother who I never met had her husband leave her when she was very young, so my father, himself, grew up without a father. So Betty was my window into my father's life since I never really knew him from an adult perspective. And Betty had a great wit and loved words and had an opinion on almost everything, I think loving the New York Times could be genetic. Dying comes along with living and I think Steve Ilg at Wholistic Fitness  who I et spiritual inspiration from, puts it in perspective for me when he talks about the bardo as he sees it.  It is just sad to see things on this earth end. But as Coach Ilg/Steve is constantly reminding me on his blog, Direct Lines, each day we are constantly beginning again. With my Aunt's death, it got me to thinking of other things I miss, some of which I will see again, some I won't. I miss my old dog, Sophie, the German short hair pointer. The picture above, is of Sophie with an acute headache, actually not, it is of Sophie after being outside in the heat of summer and my nervousness that she might die of heat exposure. I miss seeing the clouds around mountains. I am kind of a cloud addict, they just fascinate me, and when I am in the mountains at a decent altitude clouds become so vivid and take on such cool textures, I just think clouds are cool. Finally, I love snow, I love ice but I really miss flowers, I LOVE FLOWERS!!!!!!!!!!!!! In Berkeley this past weekend everyone has plants and flowers around their houses and the flowers attract all these happy warm weather birds and I miss the beauty of flowers and the happy chirp of warm weather birds which is different then the defiant sounds of cold weather birds.
I have been a complete slacker, hence the name of the blog, about running. It has just been too cold and grey and the life issues that have arisen from my aunt's death, though nothing to do with her directly, have been overwhelming at times, and my striving to work on the magazine, we are near deadline for the winter issue has taken my focus off of running. But I am getting back on track, and part of the reason for this blog, was to keep myself on track, so I am back to ashtanga yoga later today, and running before work tomorrow, because I really am so much happier a person when I get out and run. I go back and forth between thinking I was either a polar bear in another life because I love the cold but when it is hot I like to just wallow in the lake and sit in the sun and a mountain goat or lion because I love the feeling of freedom running in nature gives me, I just feel a lot more alive.
    Finally, I have my daily blog reads which include, Angry White Guy (AWG), Direct Lines, Salon, New York Times, Huffington Post Chicago, Prosperity Circle (not every day), I always click on the Animal Rescue Site, Digg (Just to see what random stuff is out there), Meghan's Blaaaah when she posts, My Inner World, Olga's when she posts, for running motivation, and Heidi's , Serious Eats and Smitten Kitchen (SK) for cooking motivation, with a host of others that I rotate through depending on how much time I have which fit into the general categories of food and motivational blogs for running. Well, I have added a new daily blog to the line up, for motivation in writing, 365 Sketches by Joe Janes under his blog title, Bite and Smile. He is now writing a brief sketch a day, which for me, the ultimate slacker means I can at least write a brief sketch/dialogue scene once a week. So I am starting the 52 sketches project. I am not committing to any particular length and I am not going to print it on this blog but I will share the idea I have come up with. So for me, the ultimate slacker, I am committing to the 52 sketches project as well as the 52 2-3 hour run project which means at least once a week I am going to complete a 2-3 hour run. I will see if this ups itself to a 4 hour run a week project but I am starting out on a 2 hour run a week project and I will track my progress.
After reading everyone's interesting blogs I have come to admit to myself that this blog is somewhat of a snooze fest. Well, it may be a snooze fest but if anyone, and it is a miracle if anyone is, reading this, you may get a good idea from one of these OTHER blogs I have referenced!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I do miss my Aunt, but if only I can end my life as old as she was and as surrounded by love as she. She and my dog ,Sophie, who died in the care and is buried in the backyard of my friend Kirstin, of Rim Tours, lived under lucky stars to be taken care by such great people and to die surrounded by so much love and caring. At least in my mind, I picture their stars overhead watching and protecting and supporting me now in spirit. But I miss them both!!!!!!!!!

Monday, January 12, 2009

More Snow




I don't do very well with grey skies and yet again we have more snow and grey skies. The temperature hasn't been frigid so the snow has been melting in the streets and creating these huge puddles. Isn't the color scheme great in these pictures, grey, grey and more grey, no wonder it is so easy for me to get on the edge of the ledge this time of year!!! Meanwhile one of my colleagues at the retail store is running the Frozen Otter this weekend on the Ice Age Trail up in Wisconsin. Now granted he is in college and doing the race with 4 other friends who are Marines. Meanwhile, I have been having a really hard time getting out and running. I don't really like to ski when it is snowing heavily, I just don't like getting wet. When I was in business school in Japan, an American friend there would go out and run no matter how hard it was raining and he motivated me to run in the pouring rain which I did. But here in Chicago, I just come up with a million slacker excuses. But one of my New Year's Resolution's is to not be too hard on myself so I am going to be happy when I do get out and run, and I am going to try to be more regular about it but I am not going to beat myself up if I don't. 
Meanwhile my Ashtanga Primary Series continues to progress but my left hamstring has been really sore, which I am not sure if it is from running with the wrong shoes or from the chair I sit on when I work on my computer(I now sit on the floor which has been helping a bit) and I have been trying to ice it as well. 
        The grey skies just bring out all my slacker tendencies, I haven't made the Squash soup yet but I have all the ingredients, so that and popovers are on my must do agenda for the week!!!! And my writing has not progressed much but I did see The Seafarer by Conor McPherson at Steppenwolf which was great but upsetting. McPherson so accurately displays  the dynamics of alcoholism and how alcohol binds men together but it was also sad because although the play ends on a small note of optimism it really didn't show any resolution to the character's situation. I didn't really like the ending because I thought it was a quick way to end the play on an optimistic note and it was too obvious and somewhat disjointed, as if McPherson said to himself ,"I can't end it in on such a sad note what can I do to make it positive?" But I thought the set was incredibly well designed almost to a point where I was feeling claustrophobic from the way the characters lived. I guess what I took from the play is that it is so important to get out and interact with the world and not hideaway in a cave, either physically or metaphorically by numbing oneself with alcohol so that you are in your own mental cave of numbness. Whenever I see a Steppenwolf play I get so many ideas for scenes, stories of my own. And the Steppenwolf space is so fantastic from any seat that you sit in. The quality of the productions and the incredible space make Steppenwolf one of the things that I appreciate living in Chicago and I got half priced tickets because I bought them that night.
Finally, from my retail store job, which has been going pretty well lately, because I have been having fun there, which is one of my mottos in life, to always enjoy what I am doing. I learned about this rapper Soulja Boy and his dance to the song, Crank That. I had to go to Urbandictionary.com to figure out the meaning to some of the words in the song. I wasn't necessarily shocked, I really don't get shocked anymore and I am pretty open minded about things but I thought some of the things he referred to are just derogatory towards women and I thought "do you REALLY have to go there??", it is pornographic in a completely ridiculous way. One of the women at the store said, "Jeannie, that is what all rap is about." Rap is just not one of those genres I have EVER gravitated to, but at least at the store, every one, 30 and under, seemed to know the dance and the song and who Soulja Boy was, so at least I now know.  You might say, "who cares who Soulja Boy is, it is just trash, junk." On the other hand, his music is having an impact on a decent group of people, mostly under 30. In the movie Tropic Thunder, Tom Cruise who plays the asshole studio head references the Crank That dance. The movie kind of grows on you, it is stupid at times but also funny. I like trying on mindsets of different age groups. I guess it goes back to the fact that I am great at being immature, but at some point I think some immaturity is a good thing, I think we have our whole life "to be old" and staid and in one box of thinking and to me being old isn't necessarily one's chronological age but a state of mind.  I have always believed it is good to get out of the box!!!! Between the ridiculous porn references of Soulja Boy and then another college guy at the store who is a Halo addict, which is a Nintendo game all about death and destruction and defeating the aliens,  all I could think was GREEAAAAATTT....this is what is getting reinforced on the brain....... kind of scary...kind of makes me think that the seeds of Alex's universe in a Clockwork Orange are being sewn through these things....... But I will say I did work on learning the dance to Crank That...one of those goofy things that we all were laughing about, and laughter is always good in my book!!!!!!!!!! So I think this covers Jeannie's random, rambling for the week!!!!!!! I have just come to accept my inner weirdo!!!! On that note, ciao, I am going out to attempt a run...........
                                    JB

Monday, January 5, 2009

Happy 2009!!!



 I am posting on the fly right now, these pictures are from my usual run to Olive Part we are now in full Arctic mode here in Chicago. I love the way the ice forms which is why skiing to the North Pole is a trip I want to do. The pathway along the water with the trees reminds me of walkways in Paris. I am obviously dying to travel again but at least I have the memories of having been to Paris and winter camping(not the North Pole unfortunately) and I have an active imagination. I had to add in this quote from Steve Ilg's Wholistic Fitness site,

                              "One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting one's self in the lower regions by the memory of what one has seen higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least know." Rene Dumal

 The quote is so true, I miss mountains and the beauty of their summits but at least I have seen and I do know. I highly recommend Steve/Coach's site.  The bottom 2 pictures are of of giant water lilies from the Amazon and then what I call Ice Lilies.  So this is my appreciation of the cold and the beauty in every day nature for today!!!

  Okay, 2009.....I made a list of ideal Jeannie and realistic Jeannie. The top of the list is that IJ is a morning person and gets up at 5:30 springs out of bed to either go running, read my daily blogs and comments or works on Edible Chicago. RJ does not spring out of bed and has never been a morning person. I really think morning people are born and not made. Most of my life I have been frustrated that I am not a morning person, it would be so nice to love waking up early, once I am up, I am happy but it is that crucial moment between sleep and wakefulness that for me is so difficult. A little voice takes over in my head saying this bed is comfortable and cozy and that my body and brain does want to get up right this second. I am great working closing hours at my retail store....I am not a night owl anymore but I really like easing into the day, with my coffee and being quiet. On a bike trip I went on, one of the guides characterized the other guide as non-verbal in the morning, that is me, I like to read over the news of the day, my affirmations and think and create my plan for the day. I WISH I sprung out of bed.....so my plan for 2009 is to work on embracing the day as best I can and going to sleep earlier so I get up a little earlier. And who knows if I do start jogging dogs, I will definitely be getting up earlier in the morning. Do you think morning people are born and not made, what suggestions do you have to make getting up in the morning easier?
   I do plan on making the Roasted Garlic and Winter Squash Soup from Serious Eats this week, one of my other resolutions, to try cooking something new once a week and to make time for it!!!!!!! Have a joyful and productive week............
JB