DO

DO: Run like a man with a heart condition

As the year draws to a close, I do the typical things like think about the year past and the year ahead and all that – you know … reflect. And I did some good stuff last year. A few things particularly good for me.

Also, my blog feed is filled with advice on how to keep resolutions, so I’m thinking about good changes I made & stuck with last year.

It’s no secret that I like good drinks. And good food. Eating and drinking – that’s, like, fully half of the things this blog is named for. I’m not giving either up for 2015. But it’s probably not surprising that all of my pants stopped fitting this year.

I’ve taken up running a few times before and it’s never stuck. But this year, for some reason … it’s pretty stuck. I did a couple 5ks, my first 8k, and in a fit of “sure, that seems like a great idea” I signed up to start my next birthday by running 10 miles. Which is crazy. You know who thinks running 10 miles is fun? Honestly: not me. But I’m also weirdly looking forward to it? Or maybe I’m looking forward to it being over.

What is more my speed, though (heh – see what I did there?), are the 5ks. My favorite is one that runs through my neighborhood. It’s small, it’s close, and I got to run it this year with this guy. (Also we ate pie after the race this year. I like pie, too.)

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That’s my dad. When I was 19, he went to the hospital. He stayed for a little while. He couldn’t work for several months, and didn’t work full time for months after that. He was in his early 40s. So he slowed down (eventually), did the work in cardiac rehab, took his drugs till he didn’t need them anymore, and then kept running.

My sister turned 40 this year and had a heart procedure done the year before; I think I’ve almost talked her into trying the Shamrock Shuffle with us in the spring (maybe).

Was that enough motivation to take better care of myself? No.

So far so good with my ticker, but I had to outgrow all my big size pants to get going. And a friend invited me to join the Whole Life Challenge with her and her friends. And that did the trick. Some days I would have cut someone for a box of cookies, but most of the time, the eating wasn’t too hard. Some of the “lifestyle challenges” were a little ridiculous. But I drank more water, ate better, exercised, stretched, slept better. Pretty good, on the whole. Pants I expanded out of a few years ago are out of storage, and I’m still running. It’s winter here. It’s cold. It’s 18F today. I went for a run. Tick tick tick tick tick tick ….

I am even packing my running shoes for work travel – I’ll be taking them on a work trip in a couple weeks and I’m looking forward to the possibility of running on the beach along the Mediterranean.

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Montreal

I keep this as a general blerg about my life and hobbies which can make it challenging for others with specific interests to get into, but gives me a lot to talk about in general. I just haven’t been that great about, you know, putting any of that stuff on here with anything resembling consistency.

In fact, it’s been about 6 weeks since I crossed the border. I’ve taken my time about writing it up – in part because I didn’t take a whole lot of pictures, and in part because I was working for the majority of the 5 days I spent there.

Despite living only 4 or so hours from the border for a few years, I’d never been to Canada before.

I ate a lovely dinner in Old Montreal where the bilingual raw bar gentleman let me have an oyster and a beautiful scallop crudo.

I saw Cirque du Soleil and despite not understanding a word of French, I loved it to bits. I had some reservations about spending that kind of money on a ticket (particularly as someone who’s a bit coulrophobic) but I clapped my hands and gasped and laughed like child and I’d do it again.

I walked a few miles to a Jewish neighborhood for AMAZING bagels (I bought two thinking I’d have one for breakfast the next day and ate them both immediately).

I hiked to the top of Mount Royal and got quite lost on my way down.

I ate crepes. The shop girls were absolutely adorable and one couldn’t believe I didn’t speak French because I look “artistic” … “It’s a compliment” … Indeed, adorable shop girl. Indeed. They very kindly translated their crepe options from the menu board for me, made me one of the best decaf cups of coffee I’ve had, and gave me one of the best, most relaxed afternoon travel breaks I’ve had.

I avoided poutine like the plague – it’s not friendly to lactose-intolerant folks and I still have nightmares about horseshoes from the two years I spent in Central Illinois.

And I’m now looking forward to another northern foray in my future …

I wanna take you to the YarnCon! YarnCon! YarnCon!

Once upon a time, Dan and I ad libbed new lyrics to Electric Six’s “Gay Bar” (the video, if you’re curious – unless you work at a gay bar, it’s probably pretty NSFW) and made it “Yarn Store” … it’s funny. Um … to us.

Let’s knit a scarf
Knit a really warm scarf
At the yarn store, yarn store, yarn store – WOOOOW!

You get it. Anyway … I have fallen off the knitting wagon the last year or two. I started a sweater early last year which remains unfinished. I knit a cowl on the plane on the way to Utah that’s just sitting around and waiting for me to weave the ends in. My mother-in-law’s blanket is the only project I’ve started and completed in the last year.

I used to knit several projects  a month, have multiple projects going at once, and I met up with a knitting group a couple times a month. Yesterday was the first time I’d seen my knitting group in a very long time and I felt a little sad that I’d let so much time go by.

Every year in Chicago for the last … 6? 7? … years, there is YarnCon, “Chicago’s indie fiber fair.”

Hand-dyers, spinners, makers, artists … they display, they buy, they sell, they demonstrate, they teach, they learn … all gathering for the love of yarn. I hadn’t been in a few years, but I got the reminder email earlier this week and this seemed like a good year to return to my tribe. And I did. With enthusiasm.

Usually when I go to YarnCon, I take a few laps through all the booths (the first lap involves adjusting to the sensory overload and touching everything) and then I select the one special skein that will go home with me.

This year I went hog wild and bought 3 skeins. Two hand-dyed from near my old Wisconsin stomping grounds. One hand-dyed handspun created a few towns over from where I grew up.

two hand-dyed skeins from Hearthside Fibers. one hand-dyed handspun from Esther’s Place

If you’re in Chicago and you want to check out some yarn, YarnCon is going on today, too.

I wanna spend all your money … at the YarnCon, YarnCon, YarnCon!

Spring skiing

I took a quick break not just from the interwebs but from my regular life to go skiing with friends in Utah last week.

I hadn’t been on skis in at least five years and I’ve only been about a half dozen times in my life. We went for a day every year or two for the 5 years we lived in Wisconsin. Skiing in the Midwest involves learning to handle a lot of ice on a hill and runs that take about ten minutes to run from top to bottom. Utah? Real snow! And half an hour to ski it from top to bottom (the downside being when you’re exhausted and still at the top of the mountain, the run ahead of you feels really daunting). I’ve jumped out of a plane at 10,000 feet, but I’d never skied from that height before.

The pictures above were taken on our third of three days skiing, and the weather was perfect. My first two days skiing – Wednesday and Thursday – were a little rough (6,000 ft above sea level + 5 years off skis + 8 hours of skiing + 1.5 dead toenails + 1 turned ankle). But we rested on Friday and I was good to go on Saturday, and I had the best time. I ran blues with my group most of the day, which surprised me (I’m generally a green skier).