Every year at St. Patrick’s Day, I’m like, “This soda bread is so good! I should make it more than once a year.” And we eat it all up and don’t make it again until a year later when it’s St. Patrick’s Day again.

Now, thanks to buttermilk having been sold out in every size but the half-gallon when we bought our St. Patrick’s Day groceries, I have used some of the leftover to MAKE ANOTHER BATCH of soda bread. It’s in the oven right now!

Conversely, this past Saturday was Canyon Day at Reed, when students and alumni and neighbors get together to pull invasives, plant natives, and improve trails. I was with Sanguinity when I saw the announcement and said, “I should go this year.” She pointed out that I have said that for about 25 years now, @ twice per annum. I don’t think I once said it without expecting I’d go. It’s often written in on my calendar. But I’ve never gone and I didn’t go this time either. I will now stop thinking of myself as someone who goes to Canyon Day.

running resolution

I came up with a New Year’s resolution that felt satisfying as soon as it occurred to me: I want to finish the Portland Marathon this year without knee pain.

My knees have never kept me from finishing a race or an event, but they’ve slowed me down, and are definitely my weak point. Pain-proofing them will involve a little weight loss, strength and flexibility work, steady and abundant mileage, and maybe a backpacking trip in early September. :D

I’m starting from sedentary-ish, a mile’s walk daily and four miles’ walk/run over the weekend. It feels like very little, but that’s good. I still need to figure out the plan for strength and flexibility training.

Also, I don’t know if it will stick but today I went to dailymile and entered my two walks so far this year and looked at what people in Portland were up to. Feel free to friend me if you hang out there! I’m trying to convince my brain that working out and being active is the norm, by showing it people all around me doing it.

All the Livelong Day

At work I’ve gone from 3/4 time to full time for the next couple of months, to help fill in for someone on medical leave. Last week was my first 40-hour work week in ages. Let the whining commence!

Nah…I miss my schoolkid schedule, but it’s temporary. I’m cutting back on nearly everything else– no going to Chinuk wawa three times a week for awhile, and I don’t know how many walks with refgoddess I can fit in when I have to be at the office by 8:30. Running remains on the back burner. I think I’ll do best when I make things very simple: work, writing, and basic maintenance of health and household. Monastic contentment, right? And I can use the money, with a Colorado trip coming up and some furnace-and-roof debt still on the books.

But I do feel a rumble of resentment and panic when my time starts to resemble a sliding-tile puzzle, where I’m moving blocks around but constantly running into the walls of work and sleep. When I consider getting up a half-hour earlier to do something, and it won’t work because it will disrupt things back into the previous evening. Life shouldn’t be like that.

At least I’ve been better than usual this week about taking advantage of short writing opportunities. Ten minutes suddenly seems worthwhile, I’m writing on the bus a little because I might not get another chance all day, and an hour feels like luxury instead of obligation. I hope I’ll have a little to show for it after eight weeks, as I very very slowly conjure up this novel.

Today Sang and I got out to Powell Butte for a little hike– in fact we were all done and back at the house, with a grocery trip thrown in, by eleven o’clock! The wind was cold, so we hastened to the forested far side of the hill. Lots of yellow violets blooming, and the nettles are knee-high and looking pretty darn vigorous already. I was happy to hear a raven, after a winter of staying in town hearing crows.

Yesterday I got around to making soda bread, after buying the buttermilk just before St. Patrick’s Day. Warm with butter: so good.

Next book to read: Lisa Lutz’ Trail of the Spellmans, fifth in a series that makes me laugh out loud. (I’m currently finishing up Kage Baker’s The Children of the Company: satisfying to fill in some knowledge-gaps, but Mendoza is the heart of the series for me and she doesn’t appear in this one.) As for TV, Sang and I are re-watching the first season of Sarah Connor Chronicles, which feels much richer and more suspenseful than the first time around. (So many shows I’m iffy about the first season. Will they all seem better on re-watch?)

I am dismayed that I wish I could turn my brain off

Tomorrow and the day after I’m taking this online class at work that starts at 6 a.m. It was either attend online with east-coast people and start at 6 a.m., or find some classroom in Beaverton by 8 a.m., so I figured it was about even. Still, I am feeling slightly pre-emptively desperate. I will leave my house at five and park the car on this side of the bridge, and catch a very early bus. My usual bus line doesn’t start that early.

I am washing out the coffee pot and finding a travel mug and packing my lunch and laying out my clothes. I guess lunch is going to be at 9:00 or 10:00 a.m. I am resenting the way I’m worrying about all this already, and resenting the way jobs dominate non-job time.

life is a serial

I goofed off at work until I felt compelled to stay late and put together some interview packets so I wouldn’t worry all weekend that our interviewer Jeremy came by to get some and there weren’t any. So then I caught a late bus to the library to pick up my holds and walked home, only to find that the dog had gone beyond his six-hour-or-so limit and peed and pooped on the floor. (He’s, or we’ve, been so good lately, too!) So I cleaned that up and took him out and it felt like a long time before I could sit down with a bowl of cheese puffs and catch up on the internet. Right now I’m about a half hour behind schedule; ideally I would have already posted this and I would be washing dishes or making mac and cheese with garden tomatoes.

(Here I was tempted to tell everyone my Whole Ideal Schedule, but that would make life too easy for the snipers.)

So would you like to know about my current breakfast cereal? Sanguinity and I were at the Fred Meyer marveling at how many varieties of frosted mini-wheats are now available (blueberry! chocolate!), and I spotted the Kellogg’s Frosted Mini Wheats Touch of Fruit in the Middle Mixed Berry. (Link leads to review with the interesting sentence “Maybe this is what happens in the wild when animals chow down on tree bark to find sticky sap and grubs.”)

“Oh, that looks like your sort of thing!” I said to Sanguinity. She likes the granola with dried berries in it. But she said no, it looked like my kind of thing. Apparently I have problems with the self/others concept when it comes to foods I find delicious. And she was right! She had one taste the next morning and said I could have the whole box. She also pointed out that it was like Pop Tarts in cereal form.

I like them, but consider them decadent enough that when they’re gone, they’re gone. On the other hand, I will let myself try a box of the chocolate variety next.

by 10 a.m.

We have a new rule at our house, and it is this: on weekends and holidays, Holly has to be playing outside by 10 a.m.

If this doesn’t happen, then most likely I am simultaneously reading the internet and thinking “I should go for a run,” in a more and more anxious, stubborn, and crabby state of mind. And not getting my daylight fix. And then I’m snapping something like “No, the oven is on for a reason,” while my family slooowly backs away.

So today I got out for my run very close to 10 a.m., and it was sunny! Sunny and muddy. On the boulevard in Eastmoreland I saw some huge five-toed footprints that I finally decided had to be from Vibrams. I predict lots of kids looking for Bigfoot in Forest Park after they see tracks like that.

Westmoreland Park was partly flooded, not that it bothered the ducks, geese, pigeons, and gulls. In case you’re wondering if birds yawn, I totally saw a gull yawning.

Today I met the roof guy and wrote him a really big check. And tonight my IPRC class starts up again. I’m going to go pack my lunch and get ready for tomorrow; it will be bedtime by the time I get home.

I like my Friday nights quiet

I had my last visit with the kitties this evening. Phew, I did not forget them for too long at a time and no one died including the fish. Loaner Kitty was under the bed for the duration of all my visits, and Hermi-1 had short, focused snuggles (with me or with Sang if she came with me) and then was done.

I’m thinking of jettisoning any plans and schedules for Friday evening and Saturday morning, as a rule. Let that be my time to stay up late, sleep in, read the internets, drink coffee. At least until hiking season revs up.

Tonight I’m reading Leaving Atlanta, by Tayari Jones. It’s set durng the Atlanta child murders between 1979 and 1981. I have a dim memory of hearing about them on the TV news; I would have been nine to eleven years old. I don’t remember feeling scared for myself; Atlanta was a long way away.

I found out about the book in a circuitous, internet-fueled way: I was reading the author’s blog (don’t remember how I found that, probably through another kidlit blog), then saw there was a Kickstart campaign for an independent movie being made from the book. I chipped in five bucks, and then I really had to read the book, right? The campaign is a go and apparently I will get an autographed postcard from Tayari Jones for helping! I like the book so far. There’s one event that I’m not sure I buy, but I like the kids. (One is named Tayari Jones, on the fringes so far, spilling stuff in the school cafeteria or bringing in a poster for the school contest. Heh.) Because of the whole Kickstarter thing, I can’t help but try to figure out as I read how the book would translate to a movie. A lot of it is pretty interior.

I keep forgetting and then remembering that this is a three-day weekend we’re headed into! I hope to cast on my second sock, get some revision underway, cook a big pot of pinto beans, and see my friends as schedules allow. Sweet.

one-mile runs

I was so incredibly lazy the last few months and hardly ran at all. My commuter walks with friends were the bulk of my exercise. Now with my Nu Skedyool I’m running once in the morning before work, once on a weekday after work, and once (longer) over the weekend. Once a week for each of these timeslots, I can handle it, right? With additional walking two mornings and one afternoon during the week, and a hike on the non-running weekend day. But those aren’t the hard parts. The hard parts are the ones where I have to change clothes, and then move fast enough to stay warm.

Both weekday runs are going to be one mile, this week. One. Mile. But if that one mile feels good when I’m doing it, then fine. And it does. Hello, running! I maybe kind of missed you, in a weird sort of way. Okay, I did. I missed you.

Seven miles for my long run this week. That’s my basic starter run, to Mt. Tabor or through Eastmoreland and over the railyards. Or down to the college track and around a half dozen times and back. I wonder how that will feel.

I have what I always wanted

First of all, I concur entirely with Cheaper Than Food on the qualities of Nissin curry-flavored ramen. The powder was just a powder. I wouldn’t turn down a stash of this one, but won’t be seeking it out.

I have this very complicated schedule for the new year. On weekday mornings I walk to work with friends (2x per week), go running and catch the late bus (1x per week), read the internet and catch the medium bus (1x per week), or catch the early bus and do some writing downtown (1x per week). I map it all out in my moleskine planner. Maybe no routine will seem onerous if I have to execute it only once or twice a week. And I even have an internet-reading goof-off morning!

Afternoons are similar. And on two of them each week, I go to the university library after work for a generous hour’s writing.

This week is the first week of the term, and students are everywhere with their bags from the bookstore and their cell phones and their bikes and backpacks. They study mostly in groups, it seems like, at the wooden tables along the curved glass face of the library building, on the second floor. Yesterday I snagged the end table and could look down at the greenery and all the people walking from building to building and across the park blocks. There was a low buzz of students talking, but I had room to spread out my notebook and the book I was reading and a copy of the story I was revising, and work in peace. I went back and forth between reading and writing, revising and taking dictation of new sentences that came into my head.

It occurred to me that when I was a college student, I was always wishing that I had time just to read and write. To work on what I felt like working on, instead of miserably cramming down books and dredging up papers. Well, that time has come. Maybe only a few hours a week, but I love sitting in the university library and not being a university student. It is the perfect disguise, better than sitting in a coffee shop. The people at the other tables are doing stuff they have to do (99 percent of them, anyway), but I get to work at my own pace, to my own standards, work on four different things if I want. I love those hours.

Five from 24 in Fifteen

This morning I kept Sanguinity company on the early bus to downtown. She’s going to Seattle on Amtrak today. After we parted I walked to campus, and decided to try writing “5/24/15”: think about a five-minute period within the last 24 hours and take 15 minutes to write it down. Even if you end up ranging beyond the five minutes, there’s freedom from having to catch everyone up from the last time you wrote, or write only about important things.

(I can’t remember for sure where 5/24/15 comes from, but it may be Heather Sellers’ Page After Page. Which, now that I look up the link and read excerpts, has excellent advice about love, writing, and time.)

Anyway, here’s what I got.

As Thanksgiving weekend unspooled, I started thinking more and more frequently, “I have nothing on the calendar for Sunday. I can have all day just to write and putter!” It was like having money in the bank.

Then it was Sunday morning and I was on the couch with the coffee and the internet, and an email came in from Refgoddess wanting to borrow a Messiah score, and did Sanguinity and I want to take a walk with her and her dog when we made the hand-off?

Why, yes, and pretty soon we were chez Refgoddess while D wandered around getting ready for church, going to put a belt on only to find he was already wearing one. And then the rest of us were out the gate with Carbon and realizing we didn’t have to trace the same route we take on our commuting walks! We made a rambly loop around the neighborhood, and just as we were solving (retrospectively) the Thanksgiving Napkin Etiquette Disaster, Sang’s phone rang and it was Bookherd calling her back to arrange meeting up at a movie, and Sang asked me if she should bring Bookherd home for a visit afterward so I could see her too, and

Reader, I panicked. Standing in Refgoddess’ driveway where she has made a labyrinth in gravel. Days do not stay empty! A piece is waiting to be written and it’s due at the IPRC class on the 6th and then there is laundry. Sunday night blues started on Saturday night, this week.

There was still plenty of time, not that I used it well when I was on my own. (I resent using it well! I just want it to be there!) Bookherd came over for leftovers while I finished dealing with the turkey stock and carcass that Sang and Fourgates had got going Thanksgiving night. When the dog gave me his Meaningful Look, I glanced at the clock to see if it was eight o’clock (his suppertime) yet, and it was only six! I was so happy. You wish, little boy, I told the dog.

My relationship with time is really kind of fucked up. (I don’t want a relationship! I just want it to be there!) It was still a pretty good day.