Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Winner Winner Curry Dinner

Given the craziness that is my life, particularly my after-school and evening hours, dinner is always a challenge.  Especially dinner for my husband, which usually needs to be something from the crockpot or a dish that can be made ahead and reheated because of said craziness.  Add in the fact that it is good for the dinner to be healthy and lower-sodium and it rapidly becomes a recipe (ha) for extra stress.

Tried something new this week and it worked staggeringly well: sharing for the benefit of anyone who may be on the lookout for quick and delicious dinners!

Chop half an onion and a couple of cloves of garlic and throw them into a big pot on the stove with some oil.  Sauté till tender; add a tablespoon or two (to taste) of red curry paste and stir for another few minutes.  Add in a can of coconut milk, a couple of tablespoons each of brown sugar and fish sauce, and a cup or so of chicken broth.  Take either a couple of cans of chickpeas (drained) or a bag of dried chickpeas that have previously been cooked to tender in a crockpot (what I used) and throw those in too, along with a diced red or yellow pepper, some small chunks of potato and a good handful of fresh basil leaves.  Simmer for half an hour, make some rice to go with it, and Bob's your uncle.  Even better the next day! Yum.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Shaping Up Nicely

I'm 42, with a bum knee and a temperamental back.  I wasn't much of a jumper or runner even back in the day, so I'm squarely staring down some physical limitations when it comes to my martial arts hobby (some might say obsession, but lifestyle would probably be a better word since a lot of out-of-class effort is required once you hit a certain level.)  I'm taking four classes a week on average right now, two each of aikido and taekwondo.

My aikido belt is white (the lowest rank) and likely to remain so for a while. I'm relatively new at that style and it doesn't come naturally to me, but I'm no quitter.  For taekwondo, however, I'm staring down the barrel at the black belt test and the proverbial shit is starting to get real.  Only a couple of belts between me and black now, and they won't be easy ones to earn.  My goal is to get to black belt before my 45th birthday...we'll see how that goes.  I've mentioned here before that I made a big fitness push about a year ago and have maintained it so far; that's been key.

In addition to all the other craziness (usually three to four hours' worth) the black belt test includes a timed running requirement; half a mile in five minutes or less.  Not a big deal for most, except inasmuch as it comes early in the three or four hours, so it can't take much out of you to get it done or you'll never make it through to the end.  Not to mention the fact that for nonrunners with bum knees like me, it's no triviality.  I've recently been thinking that it might not be a bad idea to start some training for that so it's no big deal come a few belts from now.

Hit the track with a stopwatch today for a few sequential test runs, just for giggles.

Half a mile: four minutes flat
Half a mile: 4:06
A full mile: 9:33

Pretty damned good for me, especially three belts ahead of time.  And after 90 minutes of aikido, to boot.  There's real hope and that cheers me more than I can begin to express!  I may be old and creaky but damned if I'm not going to give this everything I've got.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

I Can't Believe I Forgot To Post This Story

Closest I've come to being arrested in years.  In my life, probably!

I'm out geocaching one day last week with my usual caching partner, a guy in his mid-50s.  Neither of us are particularly threatening-looking...I'm the quintessential 40ish soccer mom, he's gray-haired with a neatly trimmed beard.  Both of us are wearing jeans, t-shirts and hiking boots and we're on a mission to find a whole group of new caches in a park maybe half an hour south of where I live.  We'd just pulled out into the road from our parking spot by a small bridge after bagging a cache when the policeman pulled up behind us and put his lights on.  I cussed under my breath and steered my soccer mom-mobile into a nearby parking lot.  (I ask you: who pulls over a Volvo SUV with bumper magnets advertising a local travel soccer club, rescued dogs and a martial arts program, for Pete's sake???)

Turns out a fire marshal driving by happened to see my partner (up on the bridge) passing a pen down to me (under the bridge) and jumped to the logical conclusion that we were attempting to blow the bridge up.  (What the hell????)  He radioed for the policeman, who came running.

Not being at all new to the rodeo of having to explain the concept of geocaching to policemen (happens a couple of times a year), we get out of the car and go talk to the guy. My partner has his phone out and he's showing the guy the cache map of the park, explaining that the bridge has a cache under it and that he was passing me down a pen so I could sign our names on the paper inside the container.  The policeman is nodding and all is going well till he happens to look over at me and noticeably stiffens up.  I realize belatedly that I've gone into my reflexive martial arts deference-to-authority mode, otherwise known as a rest stance...hands clasped together behind my back.  Oh shit oh shit oh shit he thinks I'm holding a weapon!!  I immediately showed him that all I had in my hands were my car keys and phone and he relaxed visibly.  Whew. Close one.  

He still ran my plates and both of our driver's licenses.  Luckily we're a pair of fine upstanding citizens, and once he saw that both of our records were clean he let us go.  Close call though. Especially since I realized after the fact that my car keychain has a kubotan on it for self-defense, one of the nasty metal variety.  It's somehow legal to carry one in this state but not to sell it (I got mine from Amazon.)  If he'd made a big deal about the fact that I carry a no-joke weapon on my keychain it could have gotten ugly fast!  Lucky me...should have bought a lottery ticket that day.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Who Else Can See A Problem Here??

Went on a hike in a lovely county park on Friday.  I don't have the best sense of direction in the world, so I always appreciate it when trails are well marked.

The particular trail I was on had a number of trail markers, appropriately placed and spaced.


Think a lot like this except without the white square.

They were brown!!!  It's really darned tough to see brown trail markers on brown trees from any kind of distance whatsoever.  Dingbats.

Friday, September 18, 2015

No Shortage Of Confidence Here

I had a school board subcommittee meeting this afternoon.  Afterward, the principal laughingly asked me if I'd heard about my third grade daughter's visit to her office earlier this week.  Apparently Petunia was upset about a natural gas pipeline that's being built in the area because she thinks it's going to disturb the homes of animals, and she decided to march herself into the principal's office to ask if the animals were going to be okay.  Why precisely she thought the principal was the right person to answer this question, I have no idea, but she was clearly quite comfortable going right to the top in her little universe with her question!  Love that kid.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

One Of Those Good Days Across The Board

Petunia played her first ever travel soccer games today.  5v5 format, four short sequential games.  She had a brief stint as goalie (shut out the other team) and also absolutely exploded on offense for about ten total goals in the four games. Maybe more; Himself lost count.  I wasn't there, but I was proud.

Thing One has a tournament this weekend; two games each today and tomorrow.  According to Himself, he played stellar defense today.  His coach played him at center back for the entire second game, no breaks at all.  I wasn't there, but I was proud.

Yeah, would it have been nice to see them play?  Sure.  Especially Petunia in her first games at this level.  But you know what??  Today there was an event *I* wanted to attend with some of my friends.   It only happens once a year, and to me it's a big deal.  Himself was able to cover the kids, and considering the extent to which soccer takes over our parental lives three full seasons a year, I refuse to feel guilty for allowing him to do it!!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015


Good GOD do I love taekwondo. Went to class tonight and felt like a fish back in water after a long drought (otherwise known as two consecutive aikido classes.)  The two styles both hold class in the same dojo but the one is the familiar and comfortable and the other the new and formidable. I've been studying TKD for four years now.  I'm considered a relatively high belt and I know what I'm freaking doing most of the time, as opposed to aikido, in which I am a white belt of about four months and utterly lost in class more often than not.  Talk about alpha and omega.  TKD is a striking art and aikido a purely defensive one, so whatever muscle memory I have going in martial arts is all wrong for aikido too!

Ugh. Oh well.  

I'm a stubborn SOB, so I refuse to give up.  Aikido has already improved my rolls and breakfalls, and maybe someday my ability to do something in this style other than land on the floor at high speed without hurting myself will improve as well.  ;)  Although I'm not feeling at all simpatico with my sensei on a personal level, he is an 8th-dan black belt, which is astronomically high.  There is clearly much I can learn from him, and that just has to be my focus right now.  One small improvement at a time, with forays back to TKD to restore my self-confidence in between!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Not Quite Right But Funny, Football Edition

Yes, I'm still here.  It's just been a very busy week.

Anyone who has been reading this blog for any length of time knows that I'm a HUGE Notre Dame football fan.  My in-laws had their annual Oktoberfest party today, so I was watching the first part of tonight's game in their family room when a friend of my MIL's walked into the room.  She glanced at the television, on which the game was captioned "TEX vs ND" across the bottom along with the teams' respective scores, and commented to me that it looked like North Dakota's football team was having a good game.  (This actually reminded me of an incident at a baseball game years ago, when someone looking at scores for other games on the stadium scoreboard thought "SD" stood for South Dakota instead of San Diego.)

We had to leave my in-laws' halfway through the game, but Thing One was monitoring it via the ESPN text updates on his phone while we were driving home.  As we pulled into the driveway, he commented to me that one of Notre Dame's right backs had been injured.  After a brief moment of confusion, we explained to our soccer-brained son that an "RB" in football is a running back. The former is a defensive position, the latter an offensive one...not only was he in the wrong sport, he was at the wrong end of the field in the wrong sport.  Kid needs to watch more football. :)

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Out Of The Mouths Of Babes

Petunia was profoundly out of sorts this evening by the time we got home; tired, hungry and disappointed because her favorite aikido instructor wasn't there for her class tonight.  As we got out of the car, she told me that if her mood was something you could see, it would be red and spiky.  Pretty good grasp of imagery for a seven year-old!

Fortunately, a good dinner capped off with Nana's apple pie and whipped cream and a nice hot shower improved her outlook significantly; good thing since school starts tomorrow.  It's the most wonderful time of the year...

Time In A Bottle

Okay, time can slow down now, please. When I was a kid, I remember my mother saying that the days were long but the years were short.  I d...