A south swell has arrived on all Hawaiian islands. Here’s how it looks at Sandy Beach this morning.
I was invited to a presentation of the newly released Dolby® Atmos™ sound system that is being introduced at movie houses around the globe. Earlier today at Consolidated Theatre’s Ward Stadium 16, I and several other media types were shown the new system in the TITAN XC theatre.
Stuart Bowling, Dolby ATMOS senior cinema technical marketing manager, first talked about how movie theater sound has evolved from front-of-the-room mono and stereo systems, to surround sound, and now to sound that comes from ceiling mounted speakers. Bowling talked about how sound designers can now channel sounds to different speakers. The audience can be compelled to swat at a mosquito in a rainforest, get creeped out when the sound of a creaking rocking chair comes from behind, or pull up the covers during a violent thunderstorm. Don’t look over your left shoulder because that’s where the boogie man is.
Bowling then had us watch clips from “Life of Pi,” “Woman in Black,” and two Dolby trailers. He introduced them with clues and cues and when the last one wrapped up, I realized that as I was wiping the butter off my fingers with a napkin that I could hear it so distinctly. I am a better listener.
Part of the lure that got me to go to the 3-D IMAX presentation was getting to watch “Star Trek Into Darkness” and a free popcorn and drink to go with it. My daughters are chomping at the bit to see the movie, mostly because current British intellectual heart throb Benedict Cumberbatch was starring. As I’m pretty much sold out on Alan Rickman, Cumberbatch fits nicely in my fangirl infatuation program.
When I arrived I could tell I was totally out nerded, out teched, and out geeked by the rest of the sparse crowd. But really and truly, the smart PR gals at Bennet Group Strategic Communications realize that having someone like me — not a technical writer — not a critical skeptic ready to punch holes in a presentation — will pay off. Come on, right? I got popcorn that was yummy, and I put blue PowerAde in my free cup because I’m a triathlete, and I just want to be amazed and swept away from my reality for a couple of hours. Transport me. Let me look at beautiful people and scenes. Tell me a story that is compelling and causes me to reflect. And mahalo for the invitation!
I’ve read one review of the Star Trek movie before I went to see it, and it wasn’t good. The writer admitted at the end of her rant that she had seen “Ironman 3″ a few days before, so maybe that’s why she wasn’t that enamored. Personally, I liked it until it got to the fight scene on the flying cars or whatever they were. Those kinds of scenes drive me crazy.
I’m a Sherlock and a Dr. Who fan, and if you are, too, you will be delighted when you spot a few familiar faces in this Star Trek production. I loved the futuristic take on humanity and other life forms, the 3-D flyovers of the city- and spacescapes, and the jarring thrust of sound when things went boom. The opening sequence was a fun twist on things falling from the sky to a primitive civilization. A little bit of romance, a taste of the future, cool toys and weapons, and a happy ending.
Go. See. Hear.
Since I’m still a young, vibrant, and daring risk taker, and because I have a fantastic support system, I’m finally giving myself a chance to relax into this mode of self fulfillment. It is the hardest thing for me to do. I have never put myself first without letting it be accompanied by guilt and embarrassment. In fact, it’s pretty embarrassing to assert the ME before the WE even today. It is something I am letting wash over me.
I enjoy the puzzle of life and the search for peace. My pleasures come from my family, my marriage, my quest to be a triathlete, my writing, and the turtle I swim over when out in the ocean. I’ve enjoyed jobs I’ve had, and I’ve also suffered at work. Now that I’m a writer in the wild, I’m letting myself work in the yard while I write in my head. I plant seeds and I pull weeds, I get things done while not missing the metaphor for the work I am also doing within my heart and soul.
A few months ago I was asked to read and review “I Believe: When What You Believe Matters!” by Eldon Taylor. It’s a Hay House publication, with which a lot of people who are into the search for fulfillment are familiar. I have read “The Secret” and its subsequent life manuals and I feel as though I still have this thorn of disbelief that I need to work out of my system.
I get skeptical. Why can’t we all conclude that people who write and sell life guides are successful because so many people are willing to pay for their words? How many of us think, I’d like to get into that life coaching racket and make heaps of money selling my book and hypnosis CDs on QVC and eBay? How many of us say hell no I ain’t walkin’ on hot coals?
But then you get to the point where you figure, why the heck not? It’s true that when you’re feeling good, the goodness grows. When you help someone out, you feel a lot better yourself. When you smile at somebody who is down in the dumps, that smile might turn their whole world around.
This morning I was down in the dumps. A tourist taking pictures of the beautiful Hawaii scenery smiled at me and I let it cheer me right up. I thought to myself, I should smile back, and it was kind of hard to do, I was all stiff in the face like the Tin Man, but I managed and I was so grateful for that one little greeting from a stranger. Such a simple act, so easy to return. Why can’t we all be like that?
“I Believe:…”, if you’re ready for it, will help you examine your inner navel. It is easy to remain in a funk. Just like exercise, it’s hard to take that first step to change thoughts that have been embedded into your self talk for your entire life. I’ve made a commitment to like me and appreciate the ups and downs of life. There is value in every experience, and that means there is value in leaving an unsatisfying job, popping an Achille’s tendon, or missing an email. Each of these things has happened to me. I know these things add value in my life. I’m never quite sure where they will take me or what the outcome will be, but I have to give up and let the results wash over me like wavelets as they recede into the ocean and all you hear is the sand singing as salty sea foam bubbles pop. Be quiet, listen, wonder.
More often than not I let myself recede into the gulf of gloom, and it takes a lot of effort to tell myself to snap out of it. That’s why I’m trying a different tack. Taylor’s “I Believe…” has anecdotes and his take on how best to live. Sometimes we need parables to get through the day. It helps us connect with people who have struggled and have succeeded.
I think a lot of life coaches and modern philosophers aren’t really inventing anything when they market to the insecure. They cite Buddha, Jesus, Aristotle, Socrates, Plato, Mohammed, and Gandhi. They are giving us directions that have existed forever on how to navigate through life.
I will admit that taking the girls to school in the morning with John, followed by a cruise around the Ka Iwi Coast to watch whales and to enjoy each other’s company, is a lot of fun. Going to bed each evening without dreading going to work in the morning is a real switch for me. For the first week after leaving HMSA I continued to wake at 420. But now I don’t. I wake up refreshed and relaxed. We have cappuccinos and conversations.
I am a writer in the wild and I’m enjoying every minute of it. I took a drive to Koolau Farmers in Kailua yesterday to get some BT to battle the worms that are eating my gorgeous kale and other vegetables and herbs in my garden. Beside me is a tomato I picked the other day, waiting to be put in a tomato sandwich for lunch. I swept the floors, we’re getting bicycle gear ready for tomorrow’s Bike Swap in Kapahulu, and I’ve been a good girl watching my nutrition as I train and close in on the Honu half-iron 70.3 on June 1.
This week I met with a friend about some writing projects and I had an interview with a company that is so close to the beach lunch-time laps to the Kaimana windsock would become a daily indulgence. Who knows? All I know is that there are people in this town who put value in the way I shape the alphabet into words and phrases that connect and motivate readers into action. It’s kind of fun to write about something that’s fascinating to me and therefore so important to share. It’s important to me that people connect with my writing and are inspired to ride a bike, relax on the beach, plant a garden, knock out a wall, or buy a house. I love it when my blog or my articles are shared. Thanks for that.
I must find a way to make this bliss last forever. The first step is the joy that comes from living simply and simply living.
Like now. I prefer to write about positive things, and I don’t like to cloud the blog with an overcast atmosphere. I guess that results in everyone thinking I’m on top of the world all the time, but it’s not the case. Is it ever the case for everyone, all the time? Probably not.
I’ve lost a little momentum in getting our house in order. I think it’s the heat. We’ve taken bags to the nearby Goodwill kiosk, and we are preparing bicycles and bicycle gear for the Island Triathlon & Bike swap and shop on April 27. We’re selling 4-5 bikes, FYI. Tomorrow we’ll try to make one big sweep, vacuum, dust, and mop. Our dining room table will be clear. We’ll have a nice family meal.
My triathlon training saves me. I’m enjoying the 2,000-meter swims I’ve been logging in lately. I will ride tonight with my TryFitness teammates to the heights of Kahala, and I will gingerly walk or jog until my sports doctor decides what can be done about my plantar fasciitis. I’m pretty sure I can go all out for Honu on June 1. I’m pretty sure I’ve got a half-Ironman in me. Every day I’m getting better and better at it.
Now that I’m a bonafide writer in the wild, I’m actively seeking work, projects, creative opportunities, and inspiration to start generating interest in me and paychecks. So, if you hear of anything, please keep me in mind. I think about describing soft breezes as they blow through the sheers at the French doors, the sweat that trickles between one’s shoulder blades when they rip old asphalt off a roof, the spring green potential of seed sprouts poking through the rich soil, the tickle of a tiny crab as it climbs up my thigh while I’m waiting for a wave on my surfboard. Writing that’s pretty much all over the map.
My friend Sue from New Jersey, whom I’ve known since we were both little kids, checks up on me from time to time. This morning she sent me a private message on Facebook, encouraging me to get my wish to the universe first thing in the morning and then forget about it. Fortunately for me I have friends and a husband who see me in a much better light than I see myself. And my children have so much faith in me. I go out to the yard and my cats watch for the lizards that jump when I clip a leaf of kale or inspect the eggplant.
Positives abound in my life. I might appear to be running off a cliff, but I have to believe I’ll stick the landing.
My last day at HMSA is Friday. I’m thrilled and terrified and excited and anxious all at the same time. What can I say? Bring it on, LIFE!
“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” – Albert Einstein, a really smart guy.
Yesterday I rode my bicycle up Sierra Drive and it was the hardest thing I had ever done on a bicycle. Here are my stats. About 85 percent up the street I started seeing stars, so I had to unclip and get off before I blacked out. I inhaled my Albuterol, sucked down a double latte Power Gel, chased it with some water, and got my lungs back. Then I got back on my bike and rode it all the way to the top. It wasn’t pretty. It was awful. And as I approached the top, Coach Sonya had me zigzag up the street to help me handle the steep grade. I don’t know what that grade is, but I had reached 1,293 feet when I rode around Maunalani Circle and caught my breath. Coach KC was waiting for me up there and I was glad she helped me hustle up that final climb. If it weren’t for TryFitness Hawaii, I never would have even tried. It took me half an hour to get from bottom to top. I was somewhat faster going back down.
One of my favorite things to do on my bike is to fly down Makapu‘u and Heartbreak Hill (Kamiloiki), sometimes going as fast as 40mph. It’s exhilarating and takes less than a minute, as you can imagine. But coming down the winding Sierra Drive had to be done carefully and without that usual sense of free falling I tend to enjoy. It was as much a workout for my hands and forearms as I feathered my brakes all the way down to Waialae Avenue.
Glad I did it? Sure. Do it again? Hellas to the NO! The experience was designed to be more challenging than the bike portion of the Honu Ironman 70.3 triathlon. If I could do this, I could do that on June 1. The swim? Check. The ride? Check. The run? The run? Well, that still needs work. I’m fairly certain that if my swim and ride are on the swift side, I’ll finish the run within the allotted time.
After the ride I went home and washed the sheets and towels, made pizza dough, started labneh (yogurt cheese), watered the garden, and did that wife and mother thing. And contemplated my future. Life is interesting.
To keep my balance, I must keep moving.
There’s this chasm growing between my 13-year-old daughter and me. It’s OK. I still remember being 13. My mother was much closer to me in age, so I am counting on this age difference between my first born and me to result in a smoother relationship.
Kid1 is better at this life game than I was when I was her age. She plays her cards close. I wear my heart on my sleeve, I allow people to use me, I trust until I am fooled. It’s kind of embarrassing, and I realize I must bury the bones of my past.
She’s in Rome with her high school orchestra and band classmates, her viola was part of her carry-on luggage, she’s got a less-than-iPhone in case she loses it, we tracked her flight from Hawaii to Dulles to Rome with the very cool FlightAware app. I hope I hear from her: a text, an Instagram, an email. I might not. So far I haven’t. She’s been in touch with her Dad and Kid2, and I’m relieved when they let me know she’s reached out. I sent her a text with little emoji hearts, an Italian flag, a violin, a jet plane, musical notes. Just me, trying to be playful and fun and loving.
Our first night without her was quite calm. No shower wars between the sisters about who has to go first, no bickering, no slights. Kid2 read a book after dinner and talked with me a lot. We will enjoy this time together, but we all miss Kid1.
When we were driving to the airport, it reminded me of the ride to the hospital to give birth. I cried because I was happy, but I cried because there was no going back and that the changes that would occur when this new person comes into our lives would be irreversible. Dynamics shift. Our personalities make room for another. Our hearts expand immeasurably.
The experience will be amazing for her. We’re curious, we wish we could watch as she enjoys a true Italian cappuccino, plays her viola with her orchestra, takes in the wonders of the Vatican and the ruins of Rome. Will she share all this, or will she keep these memories locked?
I fumble about for the right key.
Last night’s Garmin stats for my/our trainer bike ride in Hawaii Kai: The Garmin stats for my Edge500 has the speed, cadence, and distance on the trainer: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/287282286
The stats for my Garmin 910 has my heart rate during the workout:
Because the Edge500 isn’t paired to the heart rate monitor, its fantastical calorie expenditure statement must be discounted. But holy crappola we worked hard last night!
Then we had an amazing spread of healthy food. Most of us brought some fresh and delicious salads to share, and one of our hosts grilled steaks and sausages. A good meal was had by all! I had never had a WholeFoods pizza before, and the whole-wheat crust was almost as wonderful as my own! KC gave us a demo on her slaw, which has a great mustard bite to its dressing, and she talked to us about nutrition. It’s important to eat right while we are training, but it’s also important to know what you’re going to eat during the triathlon, specifically on the bike. THAT’S what the bento box is for!
After Tuesday’s run around the track at McKinley High School, my plantar fasciitis hurt for about 30 hours. And I hardly did any running! Just a couple of 400s and a couple of 800s! So in order to train for the half-marathon run in the Honu Triathlon, I will be doing a lot of aqua-jogging workouts between now and then. It’s important that I do run on terra firma, so I’m going to let my coaches guide me through that painful terrain.
Thank goodness for my husband John because he has talked me off the ledge quite a bit these last few months. I have had my share of private dispair, and I hope that an uptick will soon occur for me. Fortunately, John will push me out the door to ride my bike, go for a pathetic run, or get back into the swim, either solo or with my TryFitness sisters, when all other aspects of life are fraught with landmines.
It makes a huge difference in life when people believe in you, and if I didn’t have that, I wouldn’t be writing this. Oh, and my writing! It is good. I know this because people tell me they like the way I write all the time. But you cannot put a round peg into a square hole and be happy. Sometimes I feel like comic sans in a Times New Roman world.
On Tuesday, February 12, I jumped on the Catholic-Give-Something-Up-For-Lent bandwagon (it’s a backslidin’ Catholic girl’s right) and gave up white flour. What happens when you give up white flour? You give up much more: No white flour snacks and desserts, no hamburger rolls, no side of mac salad, no katsu, etc. There is a lot you can eat though: rice, rice noodles, oatmeal, quinoa, barley, and whole-wheat products. I started making my own home-made, whole-wheat pasta and pizza crusts. I’ve been drinking a lot more water, and fresh fruit and vegetables. So a month later I’m down seven pounds. Not much, but, pretty good for me.
What has helped is the Honu Half-Ironman fitness regimen with my TryFitness sisters. We rest on Mondays, we work out together on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays; and we work out independently the other days. I’m doing nearly all of the independent workouts. I really don’t mind that I’m the slowest and quite possibly the oldest woman in the group, because I’m in it to make me better, and to be part of a bigger movement, the one where about 15 of us get together to bond and support each other.
This morning John and I went to the dentist and I had to have a molar prepped for a crown. Half my face was numbed and it was a very crappy 45 minutes with Steve Martin in my face. JOKE, of course. I’ll go back for a fitting in a few weeks and for my new crown in May. I’ve decided to go with gold because you won’t see it anyway, and they last longest.
I was very sad after that appointment. We were driving to my next appointment to have lab work done, and John said to me that this was all a part of getting old. I’m a little bit pissed about this. I’m not really ready to be a little old lady. There’s too much to do. The best is yet to come. Crooked smiles and all.
I bought this book a few months ago and last night I picked it up again. It’s by Meredith Atwood and its called “Triathlon for the Every Woman: You Can Be A Triathlete. Yes. You.” Kona triathlete Bree Wee wrote a preface (she’s my mini hero, tiny and fast and funny), as did Chrissy Wellington, triathlete extraordinaire. And since I’ve been doing a few triathlons over the last couple of years, and still feeling like the fat old lady out there, I thought getting an autographed copy from Meredith might inspire me. I LIKED her Swim Bike Mom Facebook page, and I recommend you do the same if you’re a woman toying with the idea of loving yourself through the pain of swimming, riding bicycle, and running, without stopping, until you’re through and it’s dark and you’re not quite sure there’s anything left inside your mind or your cells or your feet.
That could be me. I’m doing the Honu Half-Ironman in Kona on June 1.
Because I’m so busy and so exhausted and so frazzed all the time, I skip around when I pick the book up. I know, I’m sorry, Meredith. I’m doing what I can! Last night while waiting for Kid1 while she was in her viola lesson, I sat in the van and read the chapter about nutrition. And a lot of it was about the SCALE. The. DREADED. SCALE. Meredith talks about how that mofo drives her up the wall. She spoke of disconnecting from the scale, and she addressed the input she got from others of how they couldn’t give up the scale.
This morning, I wish I had not gotten on the scale. But I did, and I’m pretty sure there’s a dark and gray cloud hovering over me now.
Why did I get on the scale? Well, for the last three weeks I’ve eliminated white flour. I’ve made whole-wheat thin pizza crusts, whole-wheat, home-made pasta, ate more fruit and veggies than ever, cut back on sweetened coffee, and even drank less wine (ME!). My waist looked a little thinner this morning. The fat pants slid on and had room. But I’m still in fat pants. So I got on the scale. And I could have cried.
But let’s put it this way: My fat pants have always been the same size: 12. I really like being a size 10, and that can’t be too hard to get back down to. When I weighed 30 pounds less I wore a size 12. You see how weird this is? To weigh tons more and still get to say fat pants are size 12? And give me this: I’m 54 and my body has been sticking its toe in the menopause pool for two years now. I think I’m in the middle of it, or getting through it now, but you can never be sure. It has thickened my waist. I cannot stand it. I have friends, fellow women triathletes, who are older than me and have slimmed down. I’m hopeful.
On March 12 I begin Honu training with my TryFitness sisters. We’ll meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays and Sundays. Kid1&2 can’t wait! Mom will be working out and maybe start feeling better about herself again. I know my husband likes the after effects of a wife who’s worked out. He’s looking forward to getting his happy wife back.
I’m a little terrified about the Honu. Last Saturday I was in the Haleiwa Sprint Triathlon. While swimming among the thrash of other swimmers, I thought how much I hated it. But I knew I had to get through it, and so I incorporated some of the training Joe and Tom Lileikis taught me during Masters swimming at The Oahu Club: I moved my arms up and down along my body, keeping them close, avoiding connecting with the other swimmers, it worked and I moved efficiently through the water. Despite the dizziness as I emerged, my swim time was pretty good. I knew that once I was on my bicycle I could get a jump on how slow my run would be. My leg problems (healed burst tendon, knee pain, swelling, excess fluid, and now plantar fasciitis in the other foot) are a bit of a pain to work out. My sports doctor says I should just stop running, but he says it’s OK with him if I do triathlons because it’s not all running.
About those fat pants: Surely, the new eating habits will pay off, right? I can’t give up.
On Saturday I completed my first triathlon of 2013. On Sunday I completed my first and probably only 10k of 2013. In about two weeks Try Fitness training for the June 1 Honu 70.3 begins.
While doing these events I thought about getting in shape for Honu. When I plunged into the ocean for the 500+ meter swim at Puena Point, the anxiety hit as I was thrashed and tried to get by the crazy confusion of other swimmers. At this distance, the swimmers don’t get a chance to thin out and you’re shoulder to shoulder with others no matter how hard you try to break away. I got to the end and lost my balance trying to get out on the beach. Gotta work on all that. The transition from swim to bike was a long run across the beach and through a park to the T1 transition area to get on the bike. My T1 took a long time. My right leg was bleeding. Scratched by another swimmer or a cut on the rocks?
I made up for the slow T1 on the bike, which is where I can get a sense of accomplishment, I can really crank the watts, and I take advantage of the right gears up and down the hills. When I saw John’s photos of me on the bike I got upset about holiday weight gain, months after Xmas and New Years. A few weeks ago I gave up white flour and I’ve been very good about eating plenty of fruit and vegetables and drinking water every day. If I hadn’t I’d probably have looked worse.
My transition to the run was fairly easy, and I wasn’t too disoriented as I started. However, the Haleiwa tri takes you down a beach, around the bend, along an abandoned and overgrown airport runway to a turnaround, back along the runway to a wooded area and another turnaround, and back to the beach into the sand and dunes and debris along the tide line.
Some how I managed to get third place, a little award, and a sense of accomplishment.
Next was the Hawaii Pacific Health Women’s 10k. Out of 1,440 women, I came in 867 place at 01:25:34. Compared to my triathlon stats, my run was considerably better, probably because it was all pavement, and a course with which I am familiar. If it weren’t for my good TryFitness and HPH friends, I probably wouldn’t have found it in me to finish strong.
I cannot say I was thrilled with my results or how I looked this weekend as I took part in my first 2013 events, but I guess these, and last week’s bicycle time trial, are good benchmarks to start from.
Results from both of these events are at the Pacific Sport Events & Timing website: http://pseresults.com/events/recent. The Haleiwa Triathlon photos are by my husband John. A friend took the picture of Val, Dara, and me. And I took the photos of the roses with the statue.
Yes, I’m a BEFORE again. Next week, the Hapalua Half Marathon. Gotta figure out this plantar fasciitis before then.
Mentally, I hope these small accomplishments can help me in other areas of my life.
On Sunday, I participated in my first time trial and won my age group. I try not to think of it as a big deal, but I am very happy about it. I wish we had stuck around so I could have gotten my medal and my picture taken with the women who came in second and third place, and so I could glow all the way home with my favorite roadie and photographer and consultant, my husband John. My division? Golden Master Women’s. What does that mean? 50 and older. I like to think of it as “Women Who Refuse to Act Their Age,” because clearly when I’m out there riding my bike, I am a 16-year-girl who went exploring on her Schwinn Varsity 10-speed for hours and hours through the country roads of Burlington County, N.J. Clearly.
When I was queued up for the time trial, I was behind a tall young man who was a Kamehameha High School student who was participating because it was a school requirement. He was on a bright yellow Specialized bike, wore a skateboard helmet and a mesh neon-orange vest, and sneakers. I took off 20 seconds behind him and then chased his teenage butt until it was mine. “On your left,” I quietly said as I passed him. He was sweet. I passed a few more of his classmates, high schoolers who have yet to taste the joy of competitive bicycling and are really out there because their school requires it. I love that they find these obscure events and get involved. There were probably about a dozen Kamehameha students with us. I was really proud of them.
My bicycle is the faithful Scattante, bright red with red wheels, and when I am on her we are one. She is dubbed the Red Firecracker because she’s red and because when we are together it can be explosive. I launched into my time trial with all I had, and my bronco didn’t buck, she read my mind and together we navigated the bumps and hills of Farrington Highway for 39:54 minutes. Sub-40, FTW. I worked so hard. My lungs needed a full 24 hours to recover. Asthma.
Next week I’m waking John up early again for the Haleiwa Triathlon that starts at 6:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 2. The next day I’m doing the Hawaii Pacific Health 10K for Women because the T-shirt is always awesome and the schwag rocks. Oh, and because I run like crap (thank you burst Achille’s tendon (2010), wacked knee, plantar fasciitis. Just thanks. My friend Carrie sent me an email today telling me she did the same thing last year and it was fun, she was able to do both and it was OK. I don’t feel adequately trained, but, I’m certain that I’ll do it and I’ll be alright. While I impress everyone with my mad bike skills, and maybe my swim, I’m bringing up the rear with my run. I need the practice. Maybe I might even get better at it! After all, there is this little thing called Honu on June 1, 2013, that has my investment of an entry fee sealed and paid for.
And if you’re wondering, I’m succeeding on this no-white-flour mission. Over the last three weeks I’ve had a bowl of pho with rice vermicelli, and I’ve had some chicken katsu. But I’ve made whole wheat pizzas and the gang loves them. This is a change I think my family can handle. Cutting out sugar? Not so sure.
March 12, 2013 is the start of Try Fitness Hawaii’s Honu Triathlon training program. My kids will be so psyched that mom is working out on Tuesdays and Thursdays again, and that they’ll have to fend for themselves for dinner (and do the dishes). I’m excited. It’s ME time with a CAPITAL M AND A CAPITAL E.
Take a look at my blog. How many words do you see written by guest bloggers? None. Not one. And yet, I get these queries from strangers who want me to let them guest blog on lavagal.net.
The Lavagal blogger writes alone.
Most of the time I ignore the requests because I believe they are phishing attempts. But some people persist. As much as I’d like to be rude, I politely tell them, “No thank you. I am sure when you researched my blog that you noticed there were no guest posts.”
I’ve also told people to get their own blogs. When I got started here on WordPress, I got the freebie package. I’ve since upgraded to have my own domain, and it didn’t break the bank. I don’t get ad revenue, however, I’d love to find a way to monetize my words or at least generate enough interest to get picked up by a wire service and paid a handsome sum by Huffington Post, News Corp., Google, Yahoo!, etc. Don’t we all?
I blog because I enjoy writing and I’m a journalist. I blog because it releases a personal pressure valve, I slip into soliloquy, I polish a nugget of thought into something I hope makes sense to somebody beyond myself. Sometimes I editorialize or analyze current events, and it feels good to contribute to the world as we wonder what went right or wrong. When I write for my employer, it’s mostly technical, with a little bit of creativity and fun here and there.
I guess I’ll edit my ABOUT page to indicate that lavagal.net is 100 percent me. Those who phish with a request to guest can take their bait to someone less guarded. But if they truly want to be a blogger, then they should sign up for a free and basic service like I did.
I guess I should be flattered that some people think guest blogging on lavagal.net could be their entry to fame and fortune. Me first.
In those darkest moments before the dawn, I take my bags out to the van and go back inside to make my coffee and grab something to eat. When I first step outside of the house, the cats mew and purr and slip in between my legs, sibling cats that move like koi toward their bowls of food in the kitchen.
This morning when I stepped outside the gate I noticed something flying toward me from across the street. A Hawaiian owl, pueo, silently flew over me. It was magnificently glowing under the street lamp, and for a few seconds we connected. I quietly said, “good morning!” So gentle and comforting. It was as though a soft and feathery blanket embraced my soul and whooshed away all the doubts that dig into my psyche so much these days.
I’m not Hawaiian, but I’ve lived in Hawaii since 1981. I know about ‘aumakua, ancestral guardians of Hawaiian families, embodied in owls, sharks, turtles, and other creatures great and small. I don’t claim to have a protector, but I will always appreciate the special place and value these creatures have in Hawaiian culture.
The pueo is often attributed as a protector or guardian, and was specifically skilled in battle. In legends and stories, the pueo is credited with providing guidance and direction, and is recognized as a symbol of wisdom and knowledge in many cultures. Here’s a lovely reference to it on the website aboutmauinui.com. This photo shows a pueo flying on the Big Island during the day, but I saw mine in darkness. I just wanted you to get an idea.
My heart and soul were overjoyed for the gift of this rare sighting in the dark and quiet morning. Mahalo, sweet pueo, for your quiet assurance and comfort. Maybe you were just a barn owl, but for me, it was still a treat.
Happy Valentine’s Day, Luvs! Each morning I’m to write down 10 things I’m grateful for as part of my personal self-improvement program to adjust my outlook on life. I’m to say thank you for each of them three times. It’s supposed to set the tone for my day. Wake with gratitude, appreciate what you have, and keep that attitude going throughout the day. I won’t always post it here, but today I feel like it. Plus, well, you know, it’s my blog. I’ve read The Secret, so that’s what this is all about.
I do not wake up grateful every day. I do not go to bed thankful for all that happened throughout my day. Some days I feel like driving straight through the guard rail between Hanauma Bay and Lanai Lookout instead of taking that awesome curve with finesse. But you know what? I take the curve, and I do love driving along there. I love seeing the ocean, the deep blue sea kissing the light blue sky with Molokai, Maui, and sometimes Lanai in sight. I have a lot to live for, three people who endlessly love me, and many friends with whom I wish to discover more about. I also have a lot to give. A lot to give.
Today, February 14, 2013: Thank you times 30.
- I’m grateful the best guy ever realized we were supposed to be a team, and gave me a huge bouquet of roses, popped open the bubbly, made Salad Niçoise ala Julia Child, and got down on one knee to propose way back in 1991. He could have handed me an Almond Joy.
- I’m grateful I have two beautiful and brilliant daughters. What a hard road it was to become a mom.
- I’m grateful for my home, garden, and kitties. It is the place where I can fully relax.
- I’m grateful for this job. I love to write, I enjoy my colleagues, I struggle with some aspects, but I have the support of my management who are helping me obtain my goals.
- I’m grateful for my health and the sense to realize that working out should be fun and enjoyed.
- I’m grateful for my friends with whom I work and work out. I’m grateful for my friends on Facebook and Twitter. Some are old from small-kid time days, and others are new, many of whom I’ve never met. It is always, always, always a joy to connect with them (you!).
- I’m grateful for the Internet and my iPhone with a camera that lets me capture moments to share with the universe. I love that I can frame something beautifully within a few bytes.
- I’m grateful for my bicycles because every time I get on one (almost daily now that one is set up on a trainer at home), my body and mind are transported to that girl who rode her Schwinn Varsity 10-speed everywhere, all over Burlington County, New Jersey, exploring back roads and always returning home safely.
- I’m grateful for the tough moments that mark my day and my life because of the introspection and growth they generate within. The life’s lessons shape us.
- I’m grateful for having realized at this half-way point of my life that it’s important to be quiet, to hold back when I feel the need to shield someone, to instead write the things I have learned and hope that my words seep into hearts unknown forever.
I finally belong to the club of kids who stayed at Camp Erdman, on Oahu’s North Shore in Mokuleia. Beautiful. Our group of 14-15 women stayed in two cabins connected by a sweeping lanai, that slept eight each. We were steps from the ocean, so after our first ride on Saturday morning, you can bet I grabbed my beach chair for some sun, sand, surf, honu (sea turtle), humpbacks, and sea bird action. In the sky above me, airplanes launched gliders that surfed air waves, nose dived, and danced with angels.
The bike rides were the main reason Kristin “KC” Carlberg’s TryFitness group met so far from home (for me). We were to launch at 7ish on Saturday, but we didn’t launch until 8ish. I knew we were going to climb Pineapple Hill, so I had my head wrapped around that, but I didn’t know until minutes before we took off that we were also going to get on Schofield Barracks to ride up to Kolekole Pass. We didn’t get to go as far as we went in 2009, but it was a great ride.
Despite my horrific backsliding over the holidays (I expect today, Fat Tuesday, to be especially challenging), I didn’t die going up Pineapple Hill. Check the stats. I also was worried about climbing the short Wilikina Drive to Schofield, but it was so steep at first that it gave us enough momentum to get up and onto the base. Let me wax sentimental about my military days. One of the nice things about being on a military base is that it’s quite relaxed. People pay attention to speed limits. You might hear lots of gunfire from the ranges, but it’s comforting to know that they’re training to protect us. I prefer the term peacekeepers when I think of our military.
When we returned from Kolekole we took Kaukonahua “Snake” Road back to Waialua to Camp Erdman. I’m not gonna say who was suckin’ my wheel the whole time, but I didn’t care as it was all about fun and flying and working hard and hollering all the way down the road. I found myself alone on Farrington Highway and because it was so beautiful, I was enjoying it soooo much, saying hi to the polo ponies and all the walkers, doggies, and runners. I said to one of my teammates while I was out there, “I guess you can figure out why I’m in PR and communications!”
The second day was a lot easier. When we turned down Mahinaai Street, a blonde at the gate of a hidden estate gave us her version of Haole Aloha: “We got speed bumps.” I said a cheery thanks.
We wrapped that ride up going to the end of the road at Ka‘ena Point. So this was a weekend of a lot of firsts for me, and a great weekend to kick start my fitness efforts because my first triathlon of the year is March 2 in Hale‘iwa. Maybe it’s a good thing it’s Fat Tuesday. This former Catholic just might do something worthwhile for Lent. I’m thinking about giving up white flour. It will be very hard, which I think is the point.
On another of my blogs, one that isn’t public, my entries are story ideas. They are bursts of inspiration lingering in the wings of my life, ripening in the background, waiting for their chance to be fleshed out and to breathe. I am more impatient than those ideas. I am tugged in many directions from the moment I wake until the iPhone hits me in the face at night when I’m trying to make my last Words With Friends moves. I visit the site and stare. Brain locked, fingers frozen.
I see this in Kid2, MiniMe. The kid goes great guns when she is first starting a project. Numerous times I’ve uncovered incomplete and late assignments while mining her chaotic room. Each time I do this, I am given a free lesson in what I was and how I need to always be vigilant about the clutter spots I have at home and in my brain. That’s why I have that blog. It helps me make sense of the ideas I have, it is that place I can go when I can finally be a wild writer.
When I was a newspaper reporter, writing was done on the fly in a crowded and noisy newsroom. I loved it, and it really taught me how to turn inward, to find that quiet place within my brain, and to focus on the tight deadline writing. I bet if I turned that kind of pressure on myself, I could march those stories out, one by one, and give them the spotlight they deserve.
Had I known, I would have made these outside on the burner on my grill. At the end of this meal, I’ve got an oil slick to clean off the ceramic stove top, but I’ve also got two happy kids who asked for MORE. FTW.
I just discovered schiacciatina today on Pinterest. And then, as I often do, I repinned it to my Culinary Delights board and commented on the original blog that I was going to give it a go with ground turkey. So I did. Four thumbs up from the Benderettes.
Credit where credit is due. This recipe is from Manuela. AWESOME, Girlfriend!
Here’s the deal: This is as messy as making chicken piccata. If you can grill outside like me,
I suggest that’s what you do. I mean, if your grill has a side burner like mine does, I suggest you fry these up out there. If I know I’ve got a big splattering session ahead of me, I’ll set up the outdoor kitchen and go for it. If you’re on the East Coast or other frigid parts of the U.S. Mainland, maybe wait until the cold snap is over before you do this. But then again, maybe this is NO BIG DEAL to many of my friends.
How is it that a girl like me from New Jersey — with many Italian friends — never knew about this dish before today? HOW? The Fucco’s lived up the street! The Petti’s let me hang out with them! Sue Constantini was my Mom’s BFF! The Tartaglias, the LoPrestis, the D’Ascendis, Dimero, Giardineli, Manzano, and
Datalilio kids were our playmates! And I never knew about SHE A CHIA TINA? TINA DEFELICE! HAVE I FINALLY CRACKED THE CODE? In the name of the Father…
- 1 pound ground turkey
- 1/2 cup fresh and finely grated Romano cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Olive oil
- Flour for dredging (my buddy Wondra)
With your hand, mix meat with cheese, salt and pepper and smoosh, smoosh, smoosh, until it’s well homogenized. Divide into 4-6 balls. Sprinkle some Wondra or fine flour on parchment paper and flatten the balls one at a time, even pounding them till they’re about 1/4 inch thick. Lightly dust the patties with the flour, careful not to have too much. These are hard to pick up so use the parchment to help. Melt butter and olive oil on hot skillet and gently place patty into the sizzling oil and butter. It’ll sizzle. Give them a few minutes on each side, and remove them to a plate covered with foil to keep warm.
I served mine with sautéed tricolored fingerling potatoes, broccoli, and baby kale quickly fried in the pan where the meat fried.
Expect admiration for the rest of the night.
Kale chips taste really good and they are easy to make. Personally, I feel a little guilty about them. Roast kale has the consistency of ash. To me, I think the real joy of kale is best raw in a salad or wilted in a nice minestrone or an Italian wedding soup. But because people like kale chips, I thought I’d show some pictures and put up my recipe. Easier than easy.
- Kale leaves, washed, dried, ribbed, and torn into mouth-sized pieces.
- Olive Oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment. Place the torn kale on the parchment, sprinkle fresh, cracked Hawaiian (or other big chunky salt), and drizzle with olive oil. Toss around a little bit. Spread out kale bits to so they get crispy. I used two cookie sheets for this batch. Roast for 12 minutes. Serve immediately. Wrap leftovers in the parchment and place in a plastic bag. This was stil crispy the next day.
These photos are of the dinosaur kale I had last night. It works with any kind of kale. Just be sure to remove the ribs because you can’t chew them. Some folks save them for the juicer.
This weekend I got to work in the front yard and cut back the raphis, pulled weeds, dumped out old pots, and bagged green waste. Then I planted seedlings of round eggplant, kale, tomatoes, oregano, thyme, basil, mint, and Italian parsley. I’m so pleased. I’m so excited, I’m eager to plant a few more things. I also have Baer lime, kafir lime, and a new Meyer lemon saplings. We’re just not sure where to put them , but our other trees have given up their spirits. Our orange tree is still going strong.
It’s now avocado season and there are six on the counter. Like Pavlov’s dog, I jump every time I hear our tree drop one to the ground. Sometimes the giant agave catch them, sometimes their landings are softened by the mulch of dead leaves beneath the tree. They’re not always easy to find, and it takes some sleuthing. And if I find one partially eaten, the decision has been made to remove it and not nourish the local rodents.
Tonight will be taco salads with avocado. These days it’s everything with avocado. This is why I don’t like to buy avocado the rest of the year. Nothing can compare to our Sharwills. That’s how I feel about vegetables, too. I prefer to grow my own than to pay full retail for zucchini, it’s just that zucchini take a lot of real estate. And if I could grow broccoli raab, I would. In fact, I’m going to see if I can. Just keep a box of Cory’s slug bait close by.