• 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.

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.