March 31, 2012

New Pants, New Characters

DS and I really want to go camping.  We also want to start climbing outside now that the temperatures getting pretty nice.  Unfortunately, the weather has been playing mean tricks on us.  It keeps being sunny throughout the week, and then raining all weekend.  This weekend's rain has already started.  *sigh*

I read something about burning calories today, and how hard it is to actually burn enough calories through to make up for the things you eat.  And while that is true when you're looking solely at exercise specific totals (I would burn around 250 calories walking for an hour), that's not the only factor to consider.  I'd of course heard before that your metabolism matters, and I'm finding that out more and more lately.  I've been building a lot of muscle, and each of those muscles burn up more calories than before, even just sitting around.  I can tell, because as I mentioned yesterday, I've been starving for about a week and a half straight.  Even though I'm eating an insane amount of food, I'm always hungry.  And I lost another pound today.  I had gained a little bit of weight early on in my exercising, which I think is normal, so I'm about back to where I was at the end of my last exercising bout.  The hunger was especially bad after I did an intense leg workout earlier in the week.  Leg muscles are big muscles.  I think I pushed myself too hard though, because I was completely exhausted for the next two days.

More importantly, I am shrinking in size.  I bought a pair of jeans in a size 8 today, and they fit.  They're still a bit big in my waist, due to my pear-ness, but I'm super excited they fit in hip and thigh.  I'm both happy to be getting smaller, and sad at the idea of needing all new pants... Thank goodness for belts!  Also, I will be hanging on to all these pants for a while, because knowing me, at some point I will get tired of all this "work" and end up needing them again.

I have one episode left of Star Trek: The Animated Series.  Man.  I'd seen some of it before, so I knew it was bad, but boy is it ever bad.  Seriously seriously bad.  Though it is nice to see that they took advantage of the animated platform to introduce a whole range of crazy looking aliens that a live-action show would make difficult.  Check some of them out:



It was nice to see non-humanoid characters throughout the 22 episodes, but I'm looking forward to moving on to The Next Generation.

March 30, 2012

Violin on Crack

Last night DS and I went to see the Philadelphia Orchestra.  They were doing La Mer by Debussey, which DS apparently really likes, so we snatched up some tickets while they were on sale for $10.  Whoo! to that.  They opened the program Bartók's Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta.  It was interesting, kind of creepy in the beginning.  Then the conductor's own Violin Concerto was performed.  Before the concert, DS was reading the program and said, "This sounds like it's just going to be the violin showing off."  Which sounded kind of cool.

And then it started.  Truer words were never spoken.  You guys, there is no doubt at all that the soloist was amazingly talented, but attempting to play every note at once on the violin does not a good piece of music make.  Seriously.  It was all over the place, with no anchoring theme except that the violin was on crack the whole time.  The only thing even kind of cool about it was the third movement, and even then only for a few minutes.  I felt so sorry for the rest of the orchestra.  Most of them just sat there looking bored.  DS said he caught people making faces at each other.  I think maybe, MAYBE, each person played for a minute and a half total.  Most of that was very spread out.  It was a 30 minute piece you guys.  *sigh*  I feel bad that I didn't like it, because I thought I liked contemporary stuff for the most part.  But this piece just didn't speak to me at all.  By the time La Mer started, I was getting sleepy.  I liked bits of the first movement, and the third movement, but I don't even remember the second...

Also, I would like to take a moment to brag.  Last night I wore a dress that I bought in high school.  It's a size 6*.  It was kind of amazing.  I must be burning a heck of a lot of calories with the exercises and climbing I've been doing lately, because I've been starving all the time and basically stuffing my face constantly, and yet I'm not gaining weight.  I'm most excited about the quantifiable changes, like going up a climb with ease when just last week I was struggling with it and falling a lot.  Some of that is practice of course.  A lot of climbing is just knowing how to move your body.  I love that there's so much thought in it, and not just strength.  But truly, I feel stronger every day.

*I can only pull something like that off in a dress with a flared bottom.  I've always had a pear shape, and my hip to waist ratio is kind of absurd...  I'm still wearing size 10 pants. :P  But I will take this victory!

March 25, 2012

It's Spring!

Spring is here!  In fact, in PA it came early.  Starting March 7th, almost every day has been at least 60°, many of them in the mid-70's.  The average high for March here is only 53°, and on Friday it was 80°.  The 10 day forecast has temps returning to something a little more normal, but still on the warm side.

As much as I think this is probably not a good sign in terms of me hating this summer, DS and I have been very diligently taking advantage of how nice it is right now.  To start, as soon as I noticed that there was no indication of freezing temperatures anymore*, I set out for Home Depot to restart my balcony garden.  This year I have three kinds of lettuce, brussel sprouts, oregano, rosemary, catnip, cilantro, and strawberries.  I plan to have more stuff as soon as I can find it, but things like tomatoes weren't even in the store yet.  I have carrot seeds too, which I'm pretty excited about.

Clockwise from top: Strawberries, Cilantro, Catnip, Oregano
I've been spending a couple days per week visiting Sarah in Franklin Square park.  She's a nanny for this adorable kid we'll call Mark who is 16 months old.  He doesn't talk yet, but he knows sign language, so we can have conversations of a sort.  As a result, and because of my secret deep love of the show Switched At Birth, I've been learning sign language too.  This Thursday is the grand re-opening of the park, where they'll open the carousel, miniature golf course, and the shake place.  Sarah wants to buy Mark a milkshake.  I'm just excited to be going to the park so much.  It's a really awesome little place.  The best is when the Chinese kids get out of school (we're right by Chinatown) and come set up their boombox for breakdancing sessions.  Mark loves it so much that he's been making up his own breakdancing moves.

"Mark" plays peek-a-boo in Franklin Square Park.  He hid for like 9 minutes that time.
We've been looking into place to climb outside as soon as we get a new rope and some weekend days that don't include rain.  Hopefully in April.  To prepare, DS and I went hiking around Birdsboro, PA.  There's an old quarry there that is now a water reservoir, and the remaining exposed rock has been bolted for sport climbing.  It was a nice little place, and I especially enjoyed the two wire cable bridges you have to cross to get to the area.

If you'll recall from the Changes and Challenges post, we had two extra cats living here for a while.  They moved out right after we got back from the snowboarding trip, but last weekend we had them again while their owner was out of town.  Aside from some superficial hissing as the cats came in, it would seem that the forced cohabitation did the trick!  We had some actual getting along, and it was very exciting for DS and I.  Our cats have never before been okay around any other animal, and look at them now!

Johann and Winston share the bed.
Progress on Sarah's couch is coming along really well, though very slowly.  I keep meaning to take a picture of it, but forgetting.  She's only about a mile away from me, which is easy walking distance.  Thursday I met her at Llama Tooth, an adorable little bar near her house, for drinks on their patio.

The patio of Llama Tooth.  There are worse ways to enjoy an evening.
Today marked six days in a row of working out.  I'm trying to vary what I do every day so my muscles don't get overly sore and I don't get bored.  I can already tell it's making a difference in my climbing.  Yesterday I conquered a beast that I thought was just too big for me, and it was so exciting.  There are quite a few climbs in the gym that seem to be set by someone about 7 feet tall, so figuring out a way to get my munchkin self up them always makes me feel very accomplished.  Their setting initials are BJR, and I think their climbs are going to be my project material from now on.  I already have the next one picked out!

So that's what we've been up to around here, sprinkled with a lot of book reading.  Hopefully I'll be updating a bit more often now that I'm caught up!

March 10, 2012

2012 Snowboarding Trip


Hahahaha, okay.  That was a bit much.  But seriously, I was so excited to actually be able to make it down a hill without going flying and knocking all the air out of me and then crying in the snow for 20 minutes.  (seriously, my first experience was pretty horrible)  Am I good?  God no.  I still pretty much suck.  But I've definitely graduated from "couldn't possibly be any worse" to "well, she has the basics down."

The first day we were at Park City, and I never even left the First Time hill.  You'll probably have trouble finding it on that map I linked, because it's TINY.  I didn't realize how much of a wuss I was being until I saw that map at the end of the day.  But I was really happy to figure out how to ride my heel edge and "snowflake" down the hill without falling.  Also, I was with Samantha all afternoon, and we had dinner with all our Santa Barbara people, which was amazing.

So on Monday, Day 2, I made it my goal to make it down at least one "real" run.  This time we were at Solitude, which is a bit harder of a place since it has mostly harder runs and even the green ones are fairly steep.  I also really wanted to figure out how to ride my toe edge, which was still giving me a lot of trouble and causing me to wipe out.  You can't really do much with just your heel edge.  Some would argue it's not snowboarding at all.  DS and I spent a couple of runs on Easy Street attempting to get my courage up, and then we tried Little Dollie.  Man.  That thing was crazy steep.  I was terrified.  But I made it down!  On my heel edge!  Slowly!

DS left me for a while to do "fun" runs, and I hung out with the other newbie, Jaime's boyfriend Jonathan for a bit back on Easy Street.  Then there was lunch, which was insane, as any gathering of the SC crowd tends to be.  And then I was back on Easy Street working hard on my toe edge.  Which is when I took a bad fall, flew threw the air, and landed really hard on my lower back and slamming my head into the ground.  Good thing I had my new helmet on.  After that debacle, it was time for hot cocoa and some chill time with Sam while we waited for the rest of the gang to finish their blues and blacks.  That night we had dinner at the Red Iguana, which is probably the best Mexican food place I've ever been to.

Tuesday, Day 3, we decided to lay low and rock climb with Nell and Brian at Momentum.  That gym was so much easier than the one we go to here in Philly.  I on-sighted a 5.10b, and felt much better knowing that I'm truly better than a 5.6 climber.  It was a pretty cool gym.  They set so that each route uses a uniform color for the holds instead of marking the holds with tape.  They also had crack routes, which was awesome.  I'd never seen that before in a gym.

Wednesday, Day 4, we went back to Park City with the SB folk.  This was where DS realized that the reason I could ride my toe edge was because my bindings were entirely too loose.  Whoops.  Once he showed me how tight they needed to be, I picked it up in no time.  Hooray!  And then we rode to the top of the Crescent lift.  I could feel the temperature dropping as we went up, and I thought it would go on forever.  It was also a really tall lift, and I was a bit terrified of the height.  My goal was to ride all of the Home Run route, so we went down Claim Jumper to the Silverlode lift.  Now we were at the top!  DS left to ride some blacks, and I took some time to think about what I was doing.  Home Run is 3.5 miles long, and we were really high up.  Nearly 10,000 ft up, if their map is accurate.

The Park City map, via  For a larger version, click the Park City link above.

It took me something like an hour and a half to get down, but I did it.  I did it riding both edges, and only falling a couple of times.  Those were minor falls too.  Though I did stop several times to rest, because my legs just weren't used to this type of exercise.  Juliana caught up with me at some point, and we went down part of the way together.  But she's better than me, and left me for some blues.

In the end, this was an excellent trip.  It took a good week or two for me to be able to sit on the floor without being careful of the tender spot from Monday's fall, but that was the only real problem.  I learned to snowboard!  I had really excellent food.  We played multiple rounds of Zombie Fluxx!  I got to see people we almost never see anymore that I love dearly.  I climbed a 5.10b!  Also, the mountains around Salt Lake City are just awesome.  These photos don't do them justice.

If you see this note, be sure to visit with Flash to see the images. Get the flash player here:

March 01, 2012

Changes and Challenges

We have a friend living with us right now.  I don't want to put her business out there, so let me just say that life is throwing her a curveball at the moment, and we're doing what we can to help her transition.  But what this means is that she's here with her two cats.

Well, it's time for a bit of a side note.  I thought I had been documenting the fact that my cats are big wusses, especially Winston.  To some extent, I have, but there are SO MANY times he has been just outright ridiculous.  Like the time I found a kitten in the hallway of our 2007 apartment and took it in until its owner saw my fliers in the building and retrieved it (Winston spent the entire time under our bed).  Or the time that a vet friend picked up a recently fixed kitten on her way to visit (Winston attempted to hide under the bed, but the kitten wanted to say hi, so he spent the night on top of our cabinets.  Even an hour after the kitten left, I had to go up and retrieve him so he would know the kitten was gone.  He still hissed for the rest of the night.)  And apparently I never even told you about the time I was cat sitting for these same cats when they were itty bitty babies (Winston and Felix both spent the entire time hiding and hissing, both at the kittens and each other).  *sigh*  Well, now you know, Winston is a baby.

So with her cats here again, and pretty much adults this time, things are tense.  I thought mine could use some socialization anyway, now that they don't have much of a choice about it.  We've only been shutting her cats in her room at night, and letting everyone mingle during the day.  Winston spent most of the day under the bed; lots of hissing and growling.  Felix spent the day in a corner staring everyone down and hissing whenever someone had the audacity to come within her view.

Winston, the first time he met these cats back in July.
Today though, things seem to be a bit better.  Both of my cats seemed to follow their general day time routine, which admittedly involves mostly sleeping.  But they did it in the living room with me, and ate, and only hissed if the kittens came within six feet of them and kept walking in their direction.  There was even a moment where Winston slept on the couch, and Carmen hung out for a while about 3 feet from him.  I was so proud.  They're still pretty stressed out, but there's definite improvement.  We might make them social yet.  Or at least tolerant.  I'd be happy with tolerant.

I've been pretty busy this week.  Band practice, working out, bead shopping...  I'm attempting to sew a couch cover for my friend Sarah.  I've never done anything like this before.  We found some covers in the as-is section of Ikea that she thought would fit her couch, but they're actually too small.  Luckily, we got two different ones, and we're attempting to dye the lighter one and take them all apart and then put them back together in a way that fits the couch.  We're thinking mostly the blue with grey panets running down the edge next to the arms.  I'm nervous about screwing it up, but excited to try something new.  Also, First Friday is tomorrow, so I'm trying to prep for that (in addition to all the galleries opening, artists set up shop on the sidewalks all around the neighborhood).

Also, Saturday we leave for our first group snowboarding trip since the first one I attended back at the end of 2004.  I had no gear for this, so I've been attempting to accumulate cheap, used gear that was in great shape.  I'm excited for this trip, because I know how much DS used to love snowboarding.  And pretty much all of his friends from SC do it, and they have this trip every year.  But I'm nervous, because the only other time I've tried it, I had to go to the doctor afterward to find out I had two bruised ribs and a bruised tail bone.  Either way, it will be fun, because both our SC friends and our SB friends will be there.  I just really hope all this working out in the last year will have me ready to be at least marginally successful.

Lots of things happening!  We are working hard to make sure that all of these challenges becomes paths to better things.