Monday, April 22, 2013

Postcard Painting No. 7: Some Dog

A Facebook friend posted a photo of her dog Maggie, and I thought it would make a good painting and that it wouldn't be that hard to do.
Turns out dog's faces are about as hard as people's. I don't even want to post it on FB, in fact, because it's so different from the original. But I'm pleased that it looks like some dog, even if not Maggie exactly.

P.S. Later. bink told me to post it--(said she'd love to see anyone's attempt to paint her dog, even a poor attempt)--so I did, and Maggie's person loved it and said it was very like Maggie.
Happy ending.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Postcard Painting #6: Fiddlehead Ferns

... a loose interpretation of fiddlehead ferns I bought at the co-op specifically to paint. (At $18/pound, I only bought a few).

 [recipe at end]

Yesterday afternoon I spent a couple hours painting a fairly realistic version of one fiddlehead, but it turned into a muddy mess.
So I threw that one out and quickly painted this one.

 I love this one as a design. I also love that I could whip this painting out quickly because I had already spent two hours staring at a fiddlehead.

That's like one of the benefits I notice at midlife:
on the one hand, I can't canter around the playground like I did in fifth grade;
on the other hand, it often doesn't take me as long to do things because I have a large data bank of experience.

P.S. HOW TO COOK Fiddlehead Ferns (with browned butter)

1. Bring a pan of water and a sprinkle of salt to a boil. 
Prepare a bowl half-filled with ice water. 
Simmer the fiddleheads into the pot of boiling water for 1 minute. 

2. Drain the fiddleheads in a colander, then plunk in the ice water until completely cool. Drain the fiddleheads again, and wrap them in a kitchen towel to dry.

3.  Brown butter: melt in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat, stirring gently. Watch carefully until brown flecks start to form. Remove from heat right away (butter burns easily).

4. Add the fiddleheads to brown butter. Set pan on on low heat, and toss fiddleheads gently for a minute or two until they are warm. 
Serve immediately.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Whelm (noun)

Engulf, submerge, or bury (someone or something): "a swimmer whelmed in a raging storm".
An act or instance of flowing or heaping up abundantly; a surge.
Sitting in the sunny window this Saturday morning with my coffee, feeling calmer about running than when I blogged yesterday.

Last night I dreamed I was being forced to move to New York City, making me desperately sad.

I've been feeling a bit overwhelmed and displaced partly, I think, because I've been seeking and taking in too much advice about running––even encouragement can be destabilizing.

I'm in my second running class; I've met three times with a personal trainer; I'm taking a nutrition/weight management class; and, as always when I do something new, I've been researching: reading, and watching stuff on youTube, including a documentary about Steve Prefontaine and probably too many seductive Nike ads.

Good stuff, but all this pulls me off-center. My original intention was just to trot at my own pace (slow) a couple-few times a week, not to train for the Olympics. When I recall that, I feel fine again.

I'm going for whelm as a noun––a flow, or a heap of abundance––, not a verb.

So, now I am going to the co-op where I saw fiddlehead ferns for sale, to buy some to paint.
This afternoon, when the sun has melted the ice, I'll go for a little trot.

[Note on the weather: It's April 20, yes, but we had a snow storm the other day, and it's still thawing and freezing, making for slippery surfaces.]

Friday, April 19, 2013

Postcard Painting #5: Lemon in a Turkish Bowl

Finally getting back to watercoloring... Here: all my postcard paintings.

"Sport is a good place to practice risk."

I just signed up to volunteer at the Finish Line of a "fun run."

The 1-mile course runs smack down the center of downtown, after work on a Thursday, three weeks from now.
The event says it welcomes runners of every pace, but I'm not yet ready to display my slo-mo jogging in public (and feel like Lady Godiva), especially the first time out.

But I do want to be part of a running event, and this is what I can do right now. And it turns out that volunteers get T-shirts too, which makes me happy.

All this running stuff is a pretty big deal for me.
I am a fifty-two years old woman, 5'4", 170 pounds, who just started running in February (two and a half months ago), after a lifetime of avoiding any remotely competitive sport.
Not that these races are competitive, exactly,
but they do have a Start Line and a Finish Line.

I've been doing well at running, by my standards, covering two miles, about three times a week--alternating jogging with walking, at a ratio of about 3 to 1;
A couple weeks ago, I jogged all the way around a nearby lake, on the running path, for the first time.
(Took me almost 45 minutes to go 3 miles, but I was getting both feet off the ground at once.)

I'm proud, and grateful (to my body, first of all)---but, I want to be honest about this,
I also feel conflicted. Angry, even, like I want running to leave me alone!

New things are destabilizing.
And doing well at something new (or even thinking that other people think I'm doing well) wobbles me even more.
I'm more comfortable with not trying too much, or with trying invisibly.
Running down the middle of the street at rush hour is not that.

To calm myself, I need to remind myself,

Even though I feel a little grumbly and even angry today, I notice that my resistance seems to be softening up, maybe a little, at midlife.

I've seen a personal trainer named Ann a few times at the YW---she's a racer, a little older than me, and she specializes in women at midlife.
I like her. She never exhorts me, "Don't be afraid to push yourself!" thankgod, unlike the young impala who taught that first running class I took.

I AM afraid to push myself. For good reason, too:
I am afraid of pulling a tendon and being laid up. I'm afraid of all the weight I'm slamming onto my knees.

I'm afraid of risking possible humiliations that come with failing in public--and with succeeding in public, too--at root, with being physically visible in public at all.

I was talking to Ann about some of this, and she said, "Well, yes, but life is full of risk."

(What? That's what Captain Kirk says!)

"Sport," she said, "is a good place to practice risk."

Wow, I like that. Practice.
Practice doesn't have a start and finish line.

This whole thing is ongoing...

Monday, April 8, 2013

Slow Stone Running

Pondering stones & running...

Last week, I stood barefoot on a pair of silver plates and held onto handles like the spaceship steering-mechanism on Galaxy Quest (the Protector).
This machine said I'm carrying 35 pounds I'm not likely to need.

Honestly, I think the machine was fat-phobic. I just might want some of those pounds.
Let's say, 7 of them. That leaves a nice, round 2 stone.

Isn't stone a great word for 14 lbs. of human body weight?
Since we never use the word in the United States, it sounds neutral to me, without all the baggage that words about weight usually carry.

I also like that the plural of stone is...

I picture my 52-year-old skeleton carrying stones,
and the rubber bands holding my bones together straining against stone. And I know––(really know now, since it took 8+ months for my pulled wrist tendons to heal)––that if push comes to shove, stone wins.

So, in the two months since I've started running, I've been going slowly––a 14 minute mile, only a little faster than walking.

(An athletic friend informed me you can't say you "run" unless you're making at least an 8 min/mile.
I say, Way to be pedantic, friend!)

Going slowly is its own challenge.
My first running teacher encouraged me to push myself. The supposed virtue of pushing yourself is an American-held Belief, one as likely (more?) to produce hemorrhoids as heroes.

My second teacher, of a "Learn to Run" class at the Running Rm, suits me so much better.
She took three of us beginners out yesterday morning and told us to SLOW DOWN:
this idea that you should always run as fast as you can for as long as you can is actually counterproductive physically, she said.

Runners who care about this stuff can get all biochemical on you, but I gather you can run right past the spot where you are getting stronger, and right into the area where you are spinning your wheels. Or something like that.

So far (fingers crossed), I have not injured myself, for which I am deeply grateful.

The other day I stopped on the running path to the lake and cried. Just a little.
Because I was having fun, running.