Archive for February 2014

The Meat I Eat #5, #6, and #7

The wheels came off a little bit this past week. Whoops.

Tuesday, February 18th, ~4pm:

I hadn’t been to the grocery store for awhile, so it was kinda slim pickings in the pantry/fridge/freezer. However, after poking around a bit, I did stumble across some frozen salmon burgers that were in the back corner of the freezer. I bought these back in December and had completely forgotten that they were in there. I wasn’t too sure about including this in the blog, because it wasn’t meat that I had bought this year… but the point is to chronicle my meat-eating habits, not my meat-purchasing habits, so here it is. I baked the salmon burger and cut it up and made a salmon wrap out of it with a flour tortilla, some melted cheese, arugula, and Frank’s Red Hot. I often have some variation of this for my lunches: flour tortilla + cheese + somethin’. Sometimes the somethin’ is just mustard or Taco Bell sauce. Sometimes it’s fish patties or a pakoras. Sometimes I’ll forgo the cheese and slap some hummus/falafel on there. There are so many options! But they’re all delicious.

Friday, February 21st, 1pm:

We went out for lunch to celebrate the birthday of one of my friends. He wanted sandwiches, so we went to Sarducci’s (one of our favorite sandwich shops). I got a French dip with melty Swiss cheese minus the horse radish (blech!) plus pepperoncinis (yum!). It was kinda chilly out, so the hot sandwich + hot jus combination was perfect.

Saturday, February 22nd, 7pm:

We had several of our friends over for a pie-themed dinner party. We did it potluck style; everyone was instructed to bring some sort of pie to share. I encouraged some folks to consider bringing savory pies (quiche, pizza, pot pie) instead of just sweet pies (fruity, custardy, etc.) because .

pie partyHappy people enjoyin’ their pie(s).

Everything was SO GOOD. I managed to try at least a little bit of every pie. I was very, very full because we ended up with TEN different pies. (I was too busy stuffing myself to take pictures, so these cell phone photos that Stephanie took are the only ones that I have to share.)

Savory pies:
-Individual veggie pot pies (made in a muffin tin)
-Individual meaty pot pies
-Frito pie (which consists of taking some Fritos, putting them in a bowl, and then drenching them with chili, cheese, scallions, and bacon)
-Pizza with an olive oil-based? sauce, carmelized red onions, prosciutto, and goat cheese

Sweet pies:
-Peanut butter and chocolate pie
-Banana cream pie
-Honey pie (with lavender)
-An ice cream pie (with “hot” fudge!)
-Blackberry bramble pie
-Maple pie

piesChocolate peanut butter pie, blackberry bramble pie, and pizza pie.

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Miles run in 2014: 73.9
Books read in 2014: 16

A Book Review: Birds of America by Lorrie Moore

Birds of AmericaThis collection is… powerful.

I don’t know that it’s necessarily one of my all-time favorites (a lot of the stories seemed quite similar which makes it a bit harder for individuals stories to stand out) but I am very glad that I read it. Moore writes with strength and beauty and humor about a multitude of difficult circumstances. Most of the characters in these stories are young/middle-aged women who find themselves confronted by hardship (sickness, death, infidelity, depression) and find ways to manage/survive/resign themselves to the difficulties that they face.

Below is a rating for each story in this collection and some brief, non-spoilery words about my favorites.

5 stars:

People Like That Are the Only People Here: Canonical Babbling in Peed Onk – Oh man. This story. It is easily one of the best ten short stories I’ve ever read.  I find it hard to believe that I’m saying this about something that focuses on the diagnosis/treatment of an infant with kidney cancer, but this story is just wonderful. Her ability to convey a sense of complete rage and disbelief, without dredging up massive amounts of melodrama, is beyond impressive. I can only imagine how difficult it would be to write about something like this (apparently it’s strongly based on actual events from Moore’s life), but she does such a good job. This story alone makes this collection something worth reading/having.

4.5 stars:

Dance in America – My second favorite story in this collection. It’s short, but very moving. It also discusses the effects that a sick child can have on the adults that he comes in contact with. But it manages to avoid being overly depressive. It’s almost a little… cheerful? In a punch-you-in-the-stomach-every-once-in-a-while kind of way.

Four Calling Birds, Three French Hens – This seems like it would be a really good story for anyone who has ever lost a pet that they were particularly attached to. Even though they’re “just an animal”, losing your special buddy can alter your mood and shape your outlook on life in surprisingly dramatic ways.

Terrific Mother – Imagine that you’ve accidentally dropped and killed a baby that they you were forced to hold? How much might this tragedy shatter your whole person and change/influence everything that you feel? Is there a way to recover/move on from such an accident? It turns out that Moore does not shy away from even the darkest of topics.

4 stars:

Which is More Than I Can Say About Some People – A poignant examination about how parent:child relationships can change when the child finally sees their parent as a real, complicated person with their own problems and shortcomings.

And below are the stories that I didn’t like quite as much and don’t feel like writin’ about. I thought that these were all fine and well-written (with the exception of Beautiful Grade which I thought was just kinda boring); they just didn’t strongly resonate with me.

3.5 stars: Willing, Agnes of Iowa, What You Want to Do Fine, Real Estate

3 stars: Community Life, Charades

2.5 stars: Beautiful Grade

This is definitely a book worth checking out. Overall, based largely on the strength of People Like That Are the Only People Here, I’m gonna give this collection a rating of 4.5 stars.

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Miles run in 2014: 68.9
Books read in 2014: 15

The Meat I Eat #4

Friday, February 14th, 2014, ~4pm:

On Valentine’s day, Stephanie and I went out and indulged in some happy hour drinks and sushi. We went to Blue C (opting to go to a place that was less authentic, but bigger,  in order to avoid a wait list). For starters, we split some agedashi tofu and vegetable tempura. Stephanie got a couple different veggie rolls and I got some miso soup, a Seattle roll (salmon, avocado, cucumber, masago, rice, nori, and sesame seeds), a spicy tuna roll, and a shrimp tempura roll. We also had some pints of Sapporo. Everything was delicious. I LOVE sushi so this was an excellent way to celebrate this (entirely superficial and made-up) holiday. Hooray!

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Miles run in 2014: 57.3
Books read in 2014: 14

Walking Adventures: Meadowbrook Pond

Today the weather was pretty nice: mid-fifties and sunny with a slight breeze. It’s been 15-20 degrees colder than normal the last few weeks (highs in the low 30s), so I took the opportunity today to go outside while the rain and cold were taking a break.

I walked a few miles north, down to Meadowbrook Pond. It’s a nice little walk that takes about half an hour. I mostly zig-zagged my way through some residential areas/neighborhoods. The streets aren’t arterials, so cars aren’t continuously buzzing by; it’s fairly peaceful. The houses in that area are a little boring and kinda boxy (most of them look like they were built in the 70’s/80’s), but the landscape architecture in a lot of the yards is very nice. This is actually one of my favorite things about Seattle; because it’s so temperate, folks can grow a wide variety of trees and shrubs and flowers. And the fact that many of the house lots are graded and on hills provides for the opportunity for people to employ terraced beds and other interesting landscaping features. I saw a lot of maple trees (my favorite) and even some plum trees that were starting to push out their lovely purple-pink-white blossoms.

About halfway through the walk, there is a very large hill that slopes down towards the north and the east. If you look carefully between the trees and the houses you can find some really picturesque views of Lake Washington. These views are particularly nice when the sun and the sky and a few puffy white clouds are reflected in the water (like today!).

Meadowbrook Pond is a pond (obviously!). It’s not terribly large (the internet tells me it has a surface area of about two acres), but it’s surrounded by lots of trees and is populated by a large number of ducks and geese. I even saw a double-crested cormorant today! (I reckon I’m currently beating you at bird-watcher’s bingo.)

Meadowbrook PondView of the pond from the east. Boardwalk and overflow riser visible on the right.

While Meadowbrook Pond is certainly a place where you can find/appreciate natural beauty, it offers much more than that. If you walk around the trail that surrounds the pond, there are lots of signs and placards that teach you about the ecology and diversity of the area and how limnic ecosystems work. Many of these signs also emphasize stewardship, which I think is a very important, underrated concept. There are a few elementary/middle/high schools located within ~a mile of the park; I believe that several teachers use the pond as a teaching aid/resource. It seems like a really good way to interact with students and teach them about stuff in a particularly engaging manner. I would’ve loved coming to the pond for field trips when I was younger.

Thornton CreekThe pond is fed by Thornton Creek.

In addition to all of the educational outreach stuff, there are also quite a few interesting structures at the park. I guess they might qualify as a type of Googie architecture? They’re funky and fairly random. I like them.

Meadowbrook Pond footbridgeMeadowbrook Pond pavilion

Footbridge at the west entrance of the park (left) and pavilion overlooking the center of the pond (right).

The overall atmosphere of Meadowbrook Pond is really neat. It’s a unique place where folks can go to relax a little or learn a little or have fun. When I was there today I saw maybe forty other people enjoying the park. There were older couples standing by the railing watching the ducks. And young parents pushing their children along the boardwalk in their strollers. And even a group of cross country runners (from the high school just down the street) running laps around the pond trail. The way that the people and the nature came together yielded a genuine sense of community. This post is starting to feel overly sentimental… but what can I do!? That’s just the way things are sometimes. Regardless, I’m really glad that there are places like Meadowbrook Pond so close to where I live.

In summary, my walking adventure today was wonderful. Hooray!

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Miles run in 2014: 53.1
Books read in 2014: 13

Yearlong Running Goals

I started running semi-regularly last February for the first time since middle school (when I was on the cross country team; our races were only ~2 miles). I participated in an 8k and a 5k last summer, but my running schedule was pretty haphazard. I would sometimes go weeks/months in between runs. As a result, my final mileage count for 2013 was only 108 miles. With this in mind, at the beginning of this year I decided that one of my goals would simply be to try and “run more”.

I’ve since made my running goals a little more specific. I would like to try and run three times a week (Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday). I’ve usually been running a bit faster and working on my speed a little on Tuesdays and Thursdays, while Sundays have been reserved for longer, slower runs. Initially, I was thinking I’d go ~3 miles on the short days and ~5 miles on the longer days, but my distances have been creeping up a little bit. I actually completed my first 7+ mile run (7.26 miles, to be exact) earlier this week. I’m still a little sore from it, but it felt pretty amazing to be able to run that long. At the beginning of the year I was pretty pooped after just 5 miles. I will say that while I’m not running super fast, my pace isn’t too ridiculously slow. I managed to complete my 7+ mile run averaging an 8 minute, 49 second mile pace.

In addition to running more regularly, I also want to set a mileage goal for myself for 2014. I was thinkin’ 500 miles would be reasonable (if I averaged 3+3+5 miles a week, I’d leave myself a nice 72 mile cushion in case I miss a few runs due to travel/sickness/weather/injury). But then I thought that maybe it’d be more interesting if I planned a virtual route to run along, instead. Therefore, I came to the conclusion that my goal would be to run 544 miles this year. This is the same distance as running from my parent’s house in Oberlin, OH (where I went to high school) to my freshman dorm at Alfred University (where I went to undergrad) and back again. With this updated goal I have a slightly smaller margin for error (28 miles vs 72 miles), but with my runs getting longer I don’t anticipate any problems.

As of today, I’ve run 44.8 miles in 2014. At this pace I’ll only hit ~430 miles by the end of the year. Seems like I need to pick up the pace a little. But that should be easier once milder weather rolls around; I have missed a few runs already due to cold/ice.

44.8 miles also means that I’ve run from Oberin to southwest Euclid. Only 500 miles left!

running feb 8 2014

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Miles run in 2014: 44.8
Books read in 2014: 12