Saturday, March 28, 2015

Good Glowing, Bad Glowing and Glowing Well

I just ran The SWOSU Tough Enough to Wear Teal 5K.  My time of 39 minuted, 10 seconds, was slower (by a minute and a half or so) than last year,  Given various real factors and lame excuses for why I am not in better shape, and that the Mister is completely congested with allergies, I'm just super-excited that we finished.

At the one mile mark I was really wondering why I do this at all.  I hate to run.  If I train for a 5K, I do it by swimming and dancing if I can.  And then at the end I was dancing again because it is so fun to do this (and perhaps some coach should tell me that if I am dancing immediately afterward I am not pushing myself enough, but I'm a conservative person who always wants to have enough money for an emergency and enough energy left to dance).  And I did this for my friend J.
Glowing in the blurry backlight, Nov. 2012,
Wichita Mountains

J is in the middle of six months of chemotherapy for ovarian cancer.  She's my age (young!) and single.  Every week of her treatment, she posts a photo of herself grinning with her chemo crew-- a different loving friend every time.  I know she is struggling, physically and emotionally, but she looks positively radiant (and I don't think it is actual radiation doing it).  And the teal in "Tough Enough to Wear Teal" is for ovarian cancer.

My logical self doesn't know how paying to run 3+ miles around town and thereby donate a small amount of money to the American Cancer Society for the fight against ovarian cancer will in any way benefit my friend J*, but my irrational self felt this had to happen, that the synchronicity of the race change to teal, her diagnosis, the Facebook images of her radiant self facing icky treatments, and my resolve to glow this month, was a sign that I must move my large body those three miles and shine while I am doing it.

Maybe I just need to move that distance to remind myself that I can,  And when I go far enough, I do glow in a good way.  And that we all need some help to be at our glowing best.

Keep smiling, J.  You're beautiful and it shows.  Keep smiling everyone else.  We are beautiful and we can glow.

*And yes, I am working with J to be part of the chemo crew and to act in ways that will directly make her life a little easier.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Name Yam and Cauliflower Hash: More Roots Including This Classic Combination

Despite not having my grading done, I am heading back to class tomorrow less frustrated with myself than I usually am after spring break.  Dianthus and Aster went to Branson, MO for a few days (with The Mister's parents) and the Mister and I had time to sleep late (past 7 for five days in a row!), read, garden, watch movies, and eat vegetables.
We ate lotus root in vegetable stir fries twice, and, although it does look really cool, I was not convinced I needed to buy it again.  Stir-fried lotus is a lot of "chomp" and reminded me of water chestnuts.

I also bought a Name Yam (with a long Vietnamese looking name that I didn't record and can't find in any of my cookbooks*) and ended up making a yam, cauliflower, potato hash and serving it with poached eggs, asparagus and a little balsamic truffle cream.  The skin was brown and much thicker than that of a sweet potato and the inside was white and ridiculously slippery (although it didn't look particularly mucilaginous).  It was wetter and crisper than I expected, with a texture reminiscent of jicima.  The hash was great.  The Mister had walked by and commented that "cauliflower and yam" was obviously a classic combination, but otherwise contributed to, rather than shying away from, the experimental cooking frenzy of the week.

Unfortunately, I charred his golden beets this evening, just as KU was losing. Otherwise, a good week eating good food with a good man.  I'm pretty lucky.

*This is probably Dioscorea trifida also known as the cushcush yam. Diana Morgan, in Roots, lists it as ~name with a enye.  In any case, it is a true yam, as opposed to a sweet potato, some of which are called yams.  It is difficult to look up because "name" isn't a good google word and I've found three different specific epithets related to "cushcush".

Friday, March 20, 2015

In the Shadow of the Moon: Equinox Eclipse

My brother survived the equinox eclipse in Europe and recorded this image through a little box while in a partial shadow of the moon.
That makes me happy.
I love the idea that the little moon can blot out the big sun for a little while.
Meanwhile, I am getting grumpy about the US American convention that the seasons start on the equinoxes and the solstices.  I'm delighted that spring is arriving (I was just out planting kale, collards, chard and spinach this morning) but spring does not need to start on any particular date.
I can feel some of you getting defensive about this; your calendar reads "First Day of Summer" on June 21.  I am here to tell you that this is not universal.  Of course it is different in the Southern Hemisphere, but it is also different in Europe (and presumably Asia).  The summer solstice is "Midsummer's Night" and while some European friends I know grumble because it is not the middle of summer, it certainly isn't the very beginning either.
While I was gardening in Scotland, there was some talk of a record-breaking winter, weather-wise.  I asked what constituted winter and was given the look of, "What sort of idiots do they raise in the States?" since everyone apparently knows that "regular calendar winter" is "December, January and February."  My understanding is that US-based seasonal weather records are also typically 3-month based, rather than from equinox to solstice, so when the newscaster says, "Summer doesn't officially start for three more days but we've already had seven days above 100," you can become grumpy like me and complain, "'Official'?  What do you mean by 'official summer'? What office dictates this?" and "Ugh, too hot, perhaps I need to leave Oklahoma."
Where does that leave us?  I am pro more celebrations of the changing of the light levels, be they pagan or scientific.  Let's call them the Vernal Equinox, the Summer Solstice, the Autumnal Equinox, and the Winter Equinox and use them as reasons for celebration.  Then lets use cultural definitions of the seasons.  "Summer" depends on whether or not you are tied to a school year (or a beach house or something else that magically opens from Memorial Day to Labor Day).  "Winter" is when it snows (unless one is in Colorado, in which case "Winter" include only the months when there is no possibility of rain rather than all of the months in might snow), "Spring" is a feeling, and, everywhere I've lived it starts over and over again.
This year our first daffodil was blooming on Feb. 1 and the maples and elms bloomed that week.  Then it snowed, sleeted and hailed for the last two weeks in February, and spring came back with the crocus on March 1, an actual blizzard arrived on March 4, and spring returned with singing birds, blooming Iris reticulata and a bunch of daffodils on the 7th.  Bradford Pears were fully opened around town on March 14th, apricots and cherries are blooming now, and my east side currant has been blooming all week, while the north side has not yet opened.  The first peony plant emerged yesterday and the little bulb iris are fading as the hyacinths begin.  Spring is here!
Happy Spring!
Happy Equinox!
Celebrate both, but it doesn't need to be at the same time.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Awakened By The Moon

At four this morning there was a shimmering white rectangle on the floor in my room.  I figured it must be the moon, but I looked out the window and I could not find it.
I love moonlight, but couldn't get back to sleep.
I found the moon this morning. It was probably there all along.