Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Poultry in Motion

Run like hell and get the agony over with. — Clarence DeMar
Do a little more each day than you think you possibly can. — Lowell Thomas 

I'm not sure if Rick was feeling sorry for me or just wanted to get back out running, but he came up to me Monday morning with a big grin on his face and announced he was going to run with me and clock my route. Hmmmm, how nice, except I wasn't too sure I wanted to know how slow I went. Rick has this fancy GPS watch by Garmin. The girls and I had chipped in to buy it for him as a Father's Day present. We thought it would be nifty for him to use on his long runs in the woods since he liked to "go exploring." He'd come home with this happy glazed look and tell us how he started off on a 6 mile run that turned into 18 because he decided to check out another path and got lost. Like Daniel Boone blazing a trail. But then he fell. Three times in ten days and hurt his hand pretty bad, probably broken, since he managed to fall on his right side (and right hand) all three times. The watch tracks your route via GPS so you can plug it in afterward to find where, how far, and how fast you went. I was hoping the watch would also allow me to monitor his progress on my computer so I could go rescue him if the beep showed he stayed in the same spot for more than 10 minutes. It didn't work that way, though, but it did give Rick some fun before he got hurt—again—and this time got sidelined. So Monday was either desperation or pity for his poor wife (me!) who has to run alone now that Erica has moved. I made a coffeecake to go out in the solar oven, stripped the bed, and did a load of laundry to hang outside in the sun. Basically I dawdled a bit to psyche myself up and get my legs working some before this big adventure. Heck, Erica and I usually walked a mile first to gossip mommy-daughter stuff. And we didn't actually run together. Our running routes criss-crossed each other and we had it worked out so we ended at the same time. But Rick? He blasts out the door. He says walking is for sissies. I was in for trouble.

I felt like I was about to run the New York City Marathon. Rick kept looking down at his watch. I'm sure we made a strange running couple—the chubby wife beet red and sweating and the fit husband effortlessly running alongside. He said he could still feel all his various injuries, but who could tell? Not me. To top it off, at the end, as we got halfway up the block, our mailman got out of the mail truck and started waving his arms to indicate a finish line. That gave Rick the incentive to sprint home and throw his arms in the air in victory. Fun. Turns out the route was just shy of 2 miles and we had run a 10 minute pace. I ran farther when I went out with Erica, but I guess I ran slower since I had no one alongside pushing me. And I could walk-run up the steepest hills.

You can imagine my surprise when he went back out with me today. I admit I actually asked him, though, because I know he really wants to get back to running and going with me keeps him going short and slow. On his own he'd go too far too fast too soon. I must be insane, but out we went again. This time I added in an extra block to make it 2 miles on the dot. Sheesh. I won a race right here in our own neighborhood when I was pregnant with Erica. Well, I won the women's division. Rick won the race itself. But I was remembering how I raced up all the hills and felt really really good instead of panting and feeling like I was seriously going to pass out, which is how I felt today. Then, I think I ran 4 miles in just under 27 minutes. Today, with Rick egging me on, I managed 2 miles in 19 and a half minutes. Faster than Monday, but, oh, so much slower than all those years ago. Where did the time go? As I dragged myself up the stairs Rick announced that tomorrow we'll go even further and faster. Oh, no! 

Nothing beats chicken cooked in the solar oven
Anyway, on Monday, the coffeecake was done by the time I finished showering. I brought it in and set out a pot of chicken drumsticks. This was a totally fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants recipe, but it was super yummy.

Very lightly oil the bottom of a pot. Roll the chicken drumsticks around to get them coated. Crush two large cloves of garlic in a bowl. Add some salt, pepper, paprika, thyme, pinch of cayenne, crushed red pepper, and a dash of sugar. I just kept adjusting the amounts until I had what looked like enough to rub all over the drumsticks. Then I set the covered pot outside in the Sun Oven for maybe 4 hours. The oven was at 300º when I set them out, but it was down to 150º by the time I took everything in at dinnertime. On the side, I also made macaroni salad and cooked some collard greens in a bit of chicken broth with crumbled bacon and minced onion. Totally delicious!!

Enjoy. I have to go get a good night's sleep. Rick says I'm in training. For what I don't know.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Ramblings of a Tired Mother

Grown don't mean nothing to a mother.  A child is a child.  They get bigger, older, but grown?  What's that suppose to mean?  In my heart it don't mean a thing.  ~Toni Morrison, Beloved, 1987

Wow! I've been meaning to write another really witty post, but I've been too tired to think of anything. Just really drained, you know? But Amanda left a comment asking me not to stop, and I wasn't planning to, but I guess I'd best get back in the groove. (Thanks, Amanda!)

We don't have a television, so we listen to the radio a lot. Right now it's baseball season—and we're Mets fans—so we get to listen to them lose. A lot. Although they have been having what the announcer calls an awesome 500 season. They just won't quit. But the point was, there's a commercial on the radio where a guy sings "Ohhhhhhh, so tired." I'm not even sure what he's tired of, or what he's trying to sell, nor can I understand the rest of what he says, but I keep singing along with that part anyway.

Erica on the playground
Erica moved into her very own first apartment on Monday, August 1, which also happened to be her 27th birthday. And Annalee's boyfriend broke up with her, so she was feeling a bit vulnerable and needed sympathy. I think she's pretty much over it, and Erica is settling into her place nicely, so things are getting back to some kind of normal. If there ever was a normal around here. I'm hoping my exhaustion will go away now, too.

We traveled to Pennsylvania, Delaware, home to Long Island, then on up to Cape Cod and Connecticut in the 10 days before Erica moved. Annalee's now ex called her while we were in Massachusetts to break things off. At that point, we still had two more shows to do and I was really worried that she wouldn't be able to concentrate. The driving and performing all went wonderfully, though, and we had a good time otherwise. Our show in Delaware was particularly awesome. But after that whirlwind, we got home on Friday, and on Sunday had a party to celebrate Erica's birthday and new apartment. Erica had been stashing all sorts of things for her new apartment over the past two months: pots & pans, lamps, a vacuum, dishes, towels, curtains, toaster, can opener—everything she could possibly think of. Our house, which is small to begin with, was over crowded with boxes and boxes of things she would need in her new place. It got to the point where I couldn't really clean or put anything away because of all her stuff. So we had a LOT to move. As soon as everyone left Sunday evening, we loaded all our cars in anticipation of the big day. Rick and I ultimately made two trips with the minivan stuffed to bursting, and by 5:30 p.m. we had her totally unpacked and moved in. Her boyfriend, Chris, showed up with a box truck of his stuff as Rick and I were leaving. Annalee stayed to help with round #2, but we came home to tackle our house.

And I do mean tackle. Our tiny 900+ square foot house was loaded to the gills with four adults living in it. The first thing Rick and I did was go through all our books. We estimated we donated 250 books to the local library. You'd never know by looking at our bookshelves (we love books!), but we now have everything in categories and shelved vertically. No more books piled sideways across the tops of others. After that, we tackled old magazines and clothes and dishes. We made several trips to the local thrift store. We moved all of Annalee's stuff out from the rest of the house and into the bedroom that she had shared with Erica, but now has all to herself. We worked for days carting things up and down the stairs; moving a desk here, a shelf there, a dresser down, a vanity up, and staying awake until 2 and 3 a.m. The first time Erica came home she walked around and said, it looks the same. Well, we didn't paint or re-wallpaper or buy new furniture, so everything is familiar. But it feels lighter, more organized. I'd still like to get rid of, or donate, quite a bit more but this was a great first step. I feel like I can breathe.

I'm completely achy from all the moving, though. My arms are in agony, my knees are throbbing, and my ankles aren't bending all that well. I feel old!

Annalee attempting to play banjo
And underneath all of this is a slight sadness that I'm not sure words can explain. A sadness that my children are 27 and 23, not 7 and 3. There are still things I want to tell those young children that I forgot, pushed off for some other time, or that just dawned on me now. I see a book and think, gee, the kids would enjoy that if I read it out loud. I want to tell Erica how to efficiently run a house, how to shop smart, how to save, but that would be intrusive rather than instructive now. I want to tell Annalee she'll find someone who will really love her, or maybe she'll be fine alone, but it will all be okay and have that be the truth. Do I still have the power to kiss the boo boos and have the hurt go away? 

I have been cooking during all of this. I've put chicken drumsticks out in the solar oven coated in an amazing spice blend from Penzey's Spices. I've made beef stew, cold lentil salad, and fresh tomato sauce outside so I wouldn't have to worry about dinner while we sweated inside hauling around furniture or books. But it's also been raining a lot, so cooking moved inside often. I've made chili in a clay Pomaireware bean pot. I've made my own pasta and my own egg noodles, which I haven't done in years. I'm feeling good about my newly spacious house. I know the girls will be fine. I'll be fine. I guess I'll just go annoy Rick.