• sisters on a mission.

  • Three sisters. One in Virginia. One in London. One in New York. None of whom wear shorts. Ever.

  • the mission?

    Running.
    Taking delight.
    Learning Italian.
    Getting to Italy.
    Wearing shorts.
    In Italy.
    June 2011.

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Easing into 10k

Today has been one of those days that makes me glad we’ve started a new training program.  It started with raisin bread and peanut butter for breakfast (chased with carrot juice – so not completely bad).  But then – M&Ms at 10:00.  Next a huge plate of pasta at lunch quickly followed with a large chunk of dark chocolate truffle extravaganza.  The 3:00 chai and pumpkin bread set me up for the afternoon.  And to finish it off, beer dinner at a local pub tonight.

As I said – good thing I’ve started running again.  The girls and I had been feeling a distinct lack of motivation after completing the Couch to 5k plan and completing our official / unofficial 5k.  Lots of excuses:  too hot, too humid, too busy.  What to do?

Set a new and more challenging goal for the fall of course!  Enter the Ease into 10k program.  At first I thought it would be strange to go back to 3 minute intervals when I knew I could already run 30 minutes.  However, it has helped both me and Daisy to get back into the running groove.  We’re up to week 4 day 2 and going strong.

I’ve given up running with an iPod so I’m relying on my trusty watch to do the intervals rather than an app.  The cool things is that I’ve started to get a feel for how long I’ve run without looking at the time.  Sure, I’m usually off by 30 seconds or so but I figure it all evens out in the end.

That’s the latest and greatest on the training front.  I’m not working toward any race in particular but when I find one I plan to be ready.

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zen and the art of marble making

I love to learn – especially if it involves making things.  Crafty things to be specific.  So, when my friend MK suggested taking a class on marble making at the Visual Arts Center of Richmond I was intrigued.   I had never taken a class there and had never dealt with glass and/or torches so this would be something completely new for me.  And in my book, new = fun (at least 85% of the time).

In preparation, we checked out on-line tutorials and you-tube demonstrations to get a better idea of what we were getting ourselves into.  Now, I have to admit, I’m a confident crafter.  That is, I go into things assuming I’ll be able to do it and do it well.  Unfortunately I’m also a perfectionist with sometimes often ridiculously high standards.  Turns out MK and I have a lot in common in that arena.

By the time we got to class, we were both a little worried.   Our research showed us that marble making looked hard.  And potentially dangerous what with the fire and shards of glass.  Nonetheless we got ourselves together, put on our sexy safety glasses and selected our spots across from each other at the worktable.

Brad, our instructor, made it look easy as he turned a long thin rod of colored glass into a perfect sphere, adding contrasting dots for flair.  The tools: a torch, a metal rod, tongs, and a half spherical mold.  Now it was our turn.

Step One: selecting the glass.   I fiddled around and around and finally, in a panic to get started, chose a translucent blue for the base and red for the dots.  So very all-American.

Step Two: turning on the torch.  I’m pleased to say I successfully avoided singeing any part of my body as I finessed the mix of propane and oxygen to get the perfect flame the first time out (although, I did manage a wicked long flame on my next attempt).

Step Three: making the marble.  I would like to say that I was able to accomplish this with the skill of a zen master but that would be a big fat lie.  Instead, with the metal rod in a death-grip in my left hand and a glass rod held like a fragile pencil in my right hand, I held my breath and began the twisting dance of melting the glass onto the rod.  The once-pliable muscles in my shoulders gave way to rock hard knots as I slowly created an unsightly molten lump on the end of the metal stick.   The only thing that made me feel marginally better was that MK looked like she was in the same boat.

Deep breaths.  In.  Out.   In.  Out.  Now, into the flame to try to round this sucker out.  Finally after a few minutes it started to look like a little balloon.  Back out of the flame and a quick swish around the mold and OMG it was starting to look like a marble!

OK, OK need to calm down and add the red dots.  First one on – so far so good.  Second one – still good.  Third one – CRAP!  I botched it, leaving a trail that turned my dot into a sperm.  OK, shake it off.  This is your first marble, no one expects it to be perfect.  What to do?  Ah ha!  I’ll just make a bigger dot to cover it.  Brilliant.

More flame work, more swishing and finally I was ready for the dismount.  This is literally a make it or break it point.  I won’t bore you with the sordid details but suffice to say it’s tricky and stressful for the uninitiated.  But finally it was done and I deposited my round(ish) patriotic ball of glass into the kiln with a sigh of relief.

We made five marbles that day, each successively more complicated.  A lunch break of sushi and pep talks kept us going but by the end of the day we were wiped out.

I confess that when I first pulled them out of the kiln, I immediately focused on the  imperfections.  But then I stopped, looked at them as a whole and thought about the journey.   And now I can honestly say that my little band of marbles makes me happy.  I guess that acceptance is my moment of zen.

she finally had a chair

Well I’m back from a glorious long weekend in Boulder!  Actually, I’m tardy – it was last weekend but never mind that.  The weather was beautiful, the food was fantastic and good times were had by all.  The only downside was that the lacing mechanism on my new hiking shoes broke and I resorted to hiking four hours in the Rockies in my slip-on Merrell Mary Janes.  Yeesh.

No bears were sighted but bear hair was in abundance on the trail.  In fact we saw no prairie dogs, no bobcats, no nothin’ except for a lone woodpecker.  But we did encounter plenty of hikers and runners, including one guy running in huarache sandals.  We turned around at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and took a little tour before heading back.   A little bit of trivia for you – Woody Allen climbed down the side of the building in the film “Sleeper”.  But enough of that.  It’s been a while since we’ve had a slide show so here you go:

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We also had some yum, yum, yummy ginger cake at the Boulder Tea House.

mmm...ginger cake

The building was a gift from Boulder’s sister city of Dushanbe in Tajikistan.  Beautiful.

Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse

So glad I was able to go and experience Boulder.  But, the best part was just hanging out, relaxing and having a good dose of girl talk.  Must do that more often.

The great thing about traveling, especially alone, is that it allows plenty of guilt-free time to catch up on reading.   So, I zipped through a few more chapters of No Ordinary Time.  I know this is a book about FDR and Eleanor but the more I read, the more I empathize and want to know about Eleanor.   Sure it’s interesting to learn about FDR and get insight into his character but, so far, I’m on the fence about what I think of him.

On the one hand, he’s the husband who lets his mother dominate him and doesn’t make the effort to secure a seat for his wife at the dinner table or near the fireplace – instead leaving her to find a chair wherever she could.  It was not until Val-Kill that she finally had a chair of her own.  I don’t know if I would have put up with that.  More likely, I’d have brought in my own damn chair and smacked a label with my name on it.

On the other hand, he respected Eleanor enough to speak for him at the Democratic National Convention, basically saving his nomination.  And I didn’t read anything about advisors reviewing her speeches prior to that or any other event.  That’s trust.

I’m interested to see how this all unfolds.

Dear Diary and new GOALS

I’ve just finished chapter six 6 in NOT and have two things I’ve been thinking a lot about.  1. How does the author know all that stuff? 2. How have women’s roles/place/acceptance (I could go on) really changed in the last 70 years?

So the first one.  In order for the author to have such detailed information – not only factual events, but feelings and perceptions – everyone must have kept daily, detailed diaries.  Not only does it seem they write in them all the time they must have held on to them and passed them on.  Did everyone do that?  Or is it just those that felt like they were in such positions of importance that they felt obligated to record history?  Do you think the President and the First Lady do that today?  And their kids and secretaries and aides and all the members of the House and Senate?  Or is everyone relying on the internet and blogs to not only record their lives but to also publish them to the world.  (do you know there is a national texting competition?) Hmm.  I wonder.  I never liked the idea of documenting my life and intimate thoughts on paper.  In fact found it kind of embarrassing.  But really, I wouldn’t have much to say that would need to find it’s way into history books.  Maybe that’s the difference.

Second thing plaguing me.  On the one hand Eleanor is out there making speeches at political events without FDR, lobbying for civil rights even though it may be against what her husband was supporting, writing columns – really following and communicating her own political agenda. Maybe because FDR couldn’t be out and about?  He seems to be totally supportive of her “work”.  It seems very ahead of the times.  But then there was the seemingly open and acceptable goings on FDR had with the other women.  What’s up with Missy?  and the Crown Princess of Norway?  Would that happen today?  I don’t think so.  Look at the Monica Lewinski thing (how embarrassing).

OK back to running.  We are moving on to a new GOAL!!  The 10K .  After realizing that we are floundering without a goal we decided to go from the couch (yes it’s back to the couch) to the 10K.  I’ve already downloaded my app.  My only concern is the weather and the darkness.  London from Oct to Mar is grim.  Really grim.  I can do it.  So watch this space.

Now for food.  I made the most delicious cheese soup the other day.

I know most cheese soups are grainy and too cheesy, but this is delicious.  Chop into nice little pieces some carrots, celery, onions (and I sometimes add little potato pieces) and sautee in butter.  Add a bay leaf.  After the veggies are getting soft add some flour.  Then a splash of wine.  Next some chicken stock and simmer until vegetables are done.  Then add some 1/2 and 1/2 and cheddar cheese.  S and P.  Delicious.

ready for adventure

Boulder, CO

I was already excited about my upcoming trip to Boulder next weekend to visit a BFF and then I pulled up the forecast.  Woot!  Perfect weather for our plan to:

hike
stroll
dine
shop
and shop
and shop

and rent bikes if the weather holds.

(fingers crossed that no more wild fires will threaten the area)

As usual before travel, I have started obsessing over what to take.  Do I have the right bag?  Do I need a NEW bag (any excuse)?  No, no I need new hiking shoes more than I need a new bag.  Do I have the right jacket?  And on and on.  Gah!

Anyway, just a few days before I’m due to leave, I have finally found a good pair of shoes and will be returning the cute, but unnecessary, bag I bought at Macy’s during my initial travel spin-up frenzy.   I’ll be needing that cash anyway to buy trinkets in Boulder, right?

So the shoes.  I don’t know if I’ve every mentioned how much I hate shopping for shoes.  The problem, as I see it, is that shoe manufacturers cater to people with average to wide feet.  So a girl with long skinny feet [raises hand] has to resort to all manner of trickery to get a shoe to stay on her foot.   I’m talking inserts, thick socks, special lacing techniques.  That also means I frequently end up trying every shoe in my size in the store to find something that will work.  Time consuming enough in terms of sheer quantity but even more so when you factor in the switching out of inserts, changing up the lacing, etc., etc.


I heart my new kicks

Despite all of that, and thanks to the lovely folks at Blue Ridge Mountain Sports, I finally settled on a pair of Merrel Siren Sport hiking boots.  They are comfy, grippy, light-weight and not bad looking as hiking shoes go.  I’ll keep you posted on how they do on the rocky Boulder terrain.

OK, I’m off to start sorting through my gear and clothes.  And maybe take a shower since it’s already noon and I can’t seem to rustle up the energy to work out.    Sheesh.

Reading in Pants

Along with our athletic pursuits, we are beginning an academic pursuit. Ok, it’s just a book club among the sisters. Fall book reading in pants.

Our first book is No Ordinary Time by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

I’m just on Chapter 1, but I’m already learning a lot. And realizing how extremely limited my knowledge about American History is. Particulary the period following WWI and leading up to WWII. For instance, I didn’t know about the ISOLATIONISM policy before WW1, that obviously didn’t work because we went to war and meddled in affairs outside of the US. And that our Military had been so depleted leading up to WW2. The US Military ranked #17 in the world in size and power. Germany when it invaded, what sounds like a large section of Europe, was a super military power, ranked #1.

I love the way Goodwin tells the story. And she tells the story like a narrative, the details of Roosevelts office, how he gets in and out of his bed with the help of his valet, and what the night was like following Germany’s invasion. Already, the book is suspenseful…what will Roosevelt do? And I don’t know. Because I know nothing (virtually nothing) about American history.

I’m also really interested in Eleanor Roosevelt. What an interesting lady.

What are you thinking about sisters, as you are further along than me. What’s piqued your curiosity?

back in the saddle

Daisy : Lead Slacker

Well, well, well.   I can’t believe it has already been a month since our fun run.  And nary a peep from the sisters.  What a bunch of slackniks.

I can’t speak for Cathlin and Colleen, but my motivation tanked when we started having 100+ degree / 80+ % humidity days on a regular basis.  Who can think under those conditions, much less string words together to create readable sentences?

Plus my training has been completely out of whack.  I decided to take another break from running (the old foot issue) and do some biking instead in a nice cool gym.  Then I took a week off of everything and sat around eating cupcakes and feeling sorry for myself because my foot still hurt.  Which, sadly,  didn’t help either.  So, I sought the help of a professional (podiatrist) and am (fingers crossed) back on track.

Anyhoo, back to my misadventures in biking.  My gym has a few expresso bikes that have virtual courses you can ride.  They’re cool – the handlebars move and there is a shifter with 20-something gears.  The settings vary from flat short race courses on a track on a bright sunny day to alpine trails in the early morning to coastal rides at dusk.    Other bikers are on the course and there is a pacer that you can stay or leave behind.

My first time out, I did a 3.5 mile coastal ride and gave the shifter a workout as I chugged up and down the hills.  And curves.  Did I mention the sharp curves on the hills and the steep drop off on either side of the path?  On the curvy hills?  Leading to certain catastrophe if you strayed from the path?  I had the handles in a death grip as I tried to work up the nerve to pass a couple of riders that were blocking me.  Every time I thought I had a shot, another curve would pop up.   Damn it!  I was starting to sweat profusely and I’m sure there were unsightly veins popping out of my neck due to the stress.

Finally, I made my move on a straight-away.  Whew!  What a relief.  I settled in and made it to the finish line.  Nerves still jangling, I staggered over to the water fountain, grabbed hold of the edge and took a big swig.   Thankfully no one noticed the not-so-virtual dork with the weak knees.  At least I hope not.

Well, you know what they say about getting back on the horse that threw you (or almost made you throw up).  So, I adjusted my saddle, hopped on and rode a flat course immediately afterward, purposefully trying to veer off the trail and run into other riders just to see what would happen.

Of course the program wouldn’t let me.  The tires refused to go outside the line and the offending riders vanished in a poof as I made contact.  All that worry for nothing, except maybe a few extra calories burned.  Confidence reinstalled, I recklessly rode the coastal trail again the following week,  careening down hills and plowing into anyone who got in my way.  Take that!