Thursday, January 21, 2010

so what am I up to these days?


This cute little thing is an iPod Shuffle. It’s my gift to myself for having had the balls to commit to doing a half marathon this summer. My previous record was last summer’s 10K (a little less than half the distance). Prior to that, I was content to run 3 or 3.5 miles, a few times a week.

The blessed event isn’t until mid August. My training regime at the moment has me running ever-so-slightly more often than I’d be running if I weren’t gearing up, but the distance of each run is – so far – no big deal. 3 miles tops, for at least the next five or six weeks. Then things start ramping up.

We’re getting used to the treadmill. Kevin’s on it as I type this. He’s got the regular iPod with him. I have to confess, I didn’t just get the little Shuffle pictured above as a treat – I got it because I live in fear that one of us will drop the normal iPod on the concrete floor.  The Shuffle’s so tiny, you clip it to your clothing.

Other things I’m thinking about these days:


I can’t even begin to describe how clueless and overwhelmed I am concerning the whole “green things in the ground’ topic. For some of you, that may come as a surprise, because apparently I emit this crunchy-granola vibe. But in actual truth, my experience with gardening is confined to some wretched childhood experiences. My Sainted Mother (hi Mom!) would occasionally send me out to the gravel patio in back of our house to take on the dandelions armed with nothing but a butter knife.

You know those wonderful people who plant gardens wherever they go? That’s Not Me. My best friend, whom I refer to as “My Wife”, nicknamed me “Princess Groundy Pants” a few years ago when I was whining about how completely untethered I felt in this department.

In my own defense, I can identify pretty much any tree native to this region in the middle of winter by looking at bark and buds (thanks, Antioch New England Graduate School!), so I’m not a complete loss.

Anyway. Lately I’ve been reading up (which also occasionally means listening to podcasts) on permaculture and sustainable landscaping. Here’s what I know so far:

1. The Lawn Proper: If it’s more-or-less green, that’s good enough for us. Neither of us is interested in using fertilizer and pesticides and whatnot to achieve the all-American Perfectly Manicured Lawn. For a lot of reasons. The inherent environmental silliness is part of it. Our rural location is a factor. And, bringing up the rear, we have Basic Laziness.

The addition project pretty much destroyed the lawn.

lawn - before

Before the project got underway, our lawn was a magical purple paradise.


Here’s that same spot, on the day the excavators came back to smear the dirt piles around evenly. They spread some grass seed and hay and we’ll see what pops up this spring.

2. I’d like the landscape to be ‘useful’. Let’s take foundation shrubs, to hide the underside of the deck, as an example. I generally loathe foundation shrubs. But I can see where they’d come in handy. Why can’t they be blueberry bushes? I’ve thought about planting some fruit trees on the edge of the lawn, before it slopes down to the creek bed. And I’d love to be helpful to butterflies, particularly monarchs. Perhaps we can let the lawn in back of the house become a wildflower/milkweed meadow. We Shall See.

That’s about as far as I’ve gotten. The aforementioned Sainted Mother has plied me with various books by her buddy Julie Moir Messervy, who happens to live not far from us - “The Inward Garden”, “Home Outside”, etc. Reading those has been inspirational.


In the morass of the last few years, the details of which I’ll spare you, I just lost interest in cooking. A typical dinner might be chicken subjected to the searing hug of the George Foreman grill, and some steamed broccoli. I’d rotate that with two other standbys, and that was about the repertoire around here.

While I’m not about to embark on a culinary adventure on a par with my cousin Emily, I have been organizing all the random recipes I’ve collected or been given over the years, and I’ve made probably a dozen dishes over the past couple of months that I’ve never made before. For some reason, people keep giving me recipes for brownies. I can’t imagine why.

There’s other stuff, but my regular media diet is calling, so I’ll write more another time.

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