Is That Broccoli In Your Pocket Because I Really Like Broccoli

It’s been a long day with an impromptu three-hour jaunt to/from Rhinelander.

It’s days like this where I’m happy I’ve instilled some healthy habits in our life.

No matter what diet fanaticism you follow, I think you will agree eating more vegetables is good for you.  Even Atkins allowed for tomatoes!

For me, I just feel better.  Whether it’s because it means I’m eating less of other things or directly receiving benefits from the fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants is – to a degree – immaterial.

I aim for seven servings of vegetables a day.  Here is how today broke down:

I woke up dehydrated and a little out of sorts.  I forgot how much I hate weighing the water need of a PM yoga class against my need to not get up in the middle of the night and pee six hundred times.  So I let Tom fix some animal of his choosing for breakfast and I added my go-to AM veggie solution of low-sodium tomato/veggie juice.  I probably drank enough to count as two servings, but only allow myself to count juice as 1 serving.

(I still am a huge fan of green smoothies and blueberry/spinach is in frequent rotation around here.  I pack enough spinach in one smoothie to count as two servings.)

I am trying to clear out some space in the freezer, so for lunch I had some crockpot potato soup.  Besides potatoes, it contained celery, onion, carrot, and spinach.  Maybe some squash too.  I forget now.

I generally count any soup/stew/chili with a huge vegetable base as 1 serving.  So on top of the soup I ate a cup (for two servings) of diced beets.  These came canned (not by me) and I’ll admit canned vegetables are usually not the best choice.  But you know what it’s better than?  Not eating vegetables.

While in Rhinelander, we were both really hungry and stopped at a pub I knew of for a snack/appetizer.  The vegetables – while whole pieces (mushrooms, onion, broccoli, and cauliflower)- were battered and fried.  That, my dears, counts as a big fat zero.

But it kept us from making an entire meal of fast food.  We were OK to come home and cook a real dinner.

I made our favorite go-to vegetable dish of roasted veggies with red pepper flakes.  This is awesome to make for so many reasons.  It’s easy.  You can make a lot at one time.  And if you are someone who doesn’t get a lot of variety in your diet, it’s a way to inhale a rainbow in one dish.  Tonight was broccoli (always a must), cherry tomatoes (ditto), and yellow squash.

(Cut up in a nice healthy chunks, toss liberally with oil, season a bit – you can always add more later, then bake for 30 minutes in a 400 degree oven.  Other vegetables that can work well in this medley are more soft squashes, onion, slices of peppers, and perhaps mushrooms?  Fennel?  I love roasted carrots but they will take longer.  Even baby carrots.  Do those with some harder squashes and other root veggies.)

I had three servings of that.  But then got another bonus serving of veggies because the main dish was chicken Marsala and we always go heavy on the mushrooms.  Which I count as veg because I do not yet have a fungi serving recommendation.

So that makes…eight servings?  On a day when I had to start with my default lame-o juice and didn’t get a chance to have choose a veggie snack like carrots and hummus or a salad.

I was inspired to write this post because I finished dinner and I just felt so….good.  (I’m also high off endorphins from a 30-minute exercise routine.)  It was a kinda hectic day and I definitely did not make the best choices always (Wisconsinites serve everything with Ranch dressing.  I didn’t even know I liked Ranch dressing!  Now I will dip your key fob in it and gobble it up).  But sticking to my goal to shove my face full of greens (and yellows, reds, purples, and oranges) paid off in how my body is handling the stress.

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Thank you, Broccoli. For everything.

Cut To The Long Of It

Quickly, because…

1) My laptop booted up all “Desktop?  What Desktop?”  A nice quick re-boot to the head fixed it but now I am doing what every IT nerd does.  Frantically backing up all that stuff I swore I would set to automatically back-up.  (If my laptop does byte the big one and I don’t finish NaBloPoMo, is this the blogging equivalent of dogs eating homework?)

2) I’m back from an evening yoga class at a new fitness studio and I really need a shower.  (The studio has a sort of subscription rate for a series of six weeks of classes.  I don’t like paying up front like that.  I prefer a punch card/X # of visits type deal.  But the subscription comes with access to the gym during a few hours each day when classes aren’t in session.  This might solve TreadmillGate as it’s come to be known (at least by me) in our house.  Aaaaaannnd….end parentheses!)

3)  I have no three.  Oh wait!  I also need to recover from my first skid-out scenario while driving.  Sigh.  I am such an animal of instinct.  Yet at least I was going slow enough I had time to go through this entire thought: “I want to turn this way….I want to turn this way…I’m not turning this way…hmm…Aren’t you supposed to turn INTO the skid?…But I wanna go THIS WAY…Fine…I guess there is not much difference between plowing into the forest and turning into the skid at this point…Huh.”

Cut To The Finish Line

I think I am officially done running for the season.  I enjoyed running as it got colder – even running in snow.  I don’t have a ton of cold-weather exercise clothes, but I was making do.

I liked having to wear a sweatshirt because then I had an easy pocket to put my phone.  Only once did I go out in just sports bra and sweats then overheat and do my cool down like some weird walk of shame with my shirt pooled around my neck and my white belly scaring the wildlife.

But we’ve had several frigid days in a row here, where the high doesn’t get over freezing.  Add some flurries, and the pavement is icy to the point I slip while walking.  The side of the road is also now off-limits; who knows what ankle-turning hazards lurk beneath the white.

Getting enough exercise throughout the winter has concerned me from the beginning.  I’d like to try snow-shoeing.  Maybe find a convenient place to ice skate.  (I used to LOVE to ice skate as a child.)  But both of those activities will require some gear purchasing.  And some much colder weather than what we have right now.

So I’m looking to join the ranks of great clothes-hangers everywhere and find a treadmill or elliptical.  Luckily, there is a craigslist for this region (although you have to be careful because it’s for “Northern Wisconsin” and you end up drooling over something 4 hours away.)  And less used, a freecycle group for the nearest “big” town.

I am afraid the years of the free gym at the condo have spoiled me.  The equipment wasn’t always working, but it was damn good equipment when it was.  Any suggestions on brands/models to look for or avoid is appreciated.

Insert “I Love Living At The Cabin” Qualifier Here

Things I hate about living at the cabin:

1)  The laundry.  Taking laundry to the laundromat is actually no big deal.  How many people have wished for multiple washers and dryers in their own home to do more than one load at a time?

For me, the first agony comes between washer to dryer.  I haven’t gotten a good stain pre-treat system down, and even when I do some of the stains I’m working against are decades old (I’m looking at you, yellow rug).

If I were in my own home, I might let it soak in the sink for a bit.  Try a toothbrush.  At the very least stick it back in the washer.  But at the laundromat, it is wash, dry, fold.  NO EXCEPTIONS.

I also hate trying to decide what to do with the stuff that can’t go in the dryer.  They have those laundry carts with the metal bars for hanging, but I haven’t figured out the correct car-repacking with these wet/damp items that doesn’t make me feel like I’m getting everything, including my car, kinda yucky all over again.

The last thing to hate about laundry day is the folding.  OH MAI GAWD THE FOLDING.  Remember when you kinda agreed with me about doing multiple loads?  TAKE IT BACK.  It takes forever and you would think I’d appreciate the tables because I had exactly zero tables at the condo but somehow that was better.  I start out all tri-folding towels and neat piles.  In the end it doesn’t look much different than when I brought it in.

2) The Water.

We’re on a small, shallow well here in Iron country.  It’s potable in the sense it won’t kill us and I use it for some cooking.  But it isn’t truly drinkable.  We have a cute little crock that holds 5-gallon jugs and every store around here has reverse osmosis dispensers because it’s that big of a problem.

I don’t really care that I’m not interested in drinking what comes out of my tap.  What does annoy me is that the iron rusts everything.  Until we figure out a better filter system, I can forget getting a washer for the cabin.  The iron would color our clothes and gunk up the machine. Ditto dishwasher.  (Although…well, see below.)  And any water-based appliance like the toilet or sink or shower is going to be an awful shade of brown without lots of chemicals and scrubbing.  Then it will be an awful shade of light brown.

3) The Deer.

Bambi is no longer cute when he jumps in front of my car.  I joke with Tom I might get a deer before him this season.  Between the deer and no experience in winter conditions, that scenic drive to work is rife with anxiety.

4) The Dishes.

About a year ago, Tom and I started hand washing the dishes.  It was in part to prepare for moving here to figure out how horrible we’d feel without a dishwasher.  But it turned out, we kinda liked doing dishes.  We have sort of hard water at the condo so hand washing got them cleaner.  And more importantly, we still had a dish washer!  Not only could we break it out for special Jessica-Just-Cooked-Four-Weeks-Of-Food-In-Two-Days events but IT WAS A PLACE TO PUT THE DRYING DISHES.  Here we have a drying mat/rack on the counter top and then a second rack inside the right half of the sink.  This is no where near our old capacity and there is a 100% probability that washing more dishes will get the right half of the sink rack wet/soapy/dirty again.

5) The Bathroom.

Cramped. Poorly laid out. Full of old fixtures that are an awful shade of dark brown. I especially hate the toilet that takes 1,704,528 minutes to re-fill AND has a tendency for the flapper to not catch every 20th time so I am paranoid to pee in a hurry leaving the house that it will run the entire day. (Yes, we’ve replaced it. But this appears to be an issue with having a really old toilet.)

6) The Splinters

Old wooden cabins and fixtures have not always been oiled and waxed and cared for. Splinter rate for opening the 2nd bedroom closet door is 100%.

7) The Lack Of FrouFrou Shopping

Ok, there are actually pretty good options for groceries including an Aldi in Rhinelander. But where do northwoods people get their quinoa in bulk?? (Bonus: you now know what to get me for Christmas)

This is not a complete list by any means. But as I sit here with Tom and a cozy fire after a good meal, nothing else comes to mind. Plus, I gotta go do dishes.

Making the World Go ‘Round and Get Round

Another quickie because I am so, so tired.  Two night of bad sleep, an all-out clean-fest, then driving the full there and back to retrieve Tom because he was even more tired and did not feel up to a turn at the wheel.

I decided I wanted to make a special dinner for Tom’s return.  I settled on a pot roast because the number of times I’ve cooked beef in our marriage hovers somewhere around zero.  I’m not a vegetarian, but I have been one in the past.  It just conveniently set up my life such that I don’t want, require, or see purpose of beef and/or pork very often.

But Tom…well, Tom has never been a vegetarian.  And never will be.  The rule in his family is that it is not a meal unless a pig dies.  But he gallantly eats many vegan/vegetarian dishes I make.

I liked the idea of a roast because I could stick it with a shit-ton of veggies (sounds appetizing, no?) in the crock pot and then forget about it the rest of the day.

(Pro Tip: Plug it in before you forget about it.  I was so sad when I brought him back to a house that smelled like cold cleaning agents than food.  Although the timing worked out just fine anyway.)

I also wanted to make a special dessert.  Not that we needed it, but whatever.  This was not so much because of Tom but because I felt the Internet goddesses were pointing me to a specific recipe.

Decoy Betty commented for the first time last week and I went to poke around her blog.  She’s quite a good writer with interesting things to say.  I suggest a gander.

Anyway, she had recently made Smitten’s Heavenly Chocolate Cake Roll.  And it just felt like kismet.  I always drool over Deb’s baking (and her all-butter pie crust is the most perfect answer to a no-Crisco household) but I usually shy away from things where eggs need separating, beating, folding.  Not my forte.

But here the web’s small world was delicately pushing me out of my baking comfort zone.  I mean, how many times can you read about that cake and NOT make it?

I’m so glad I did.  For one, I think I got a better handle on whipping egg whites and folding them into batter.  To be fair, I think the bowl I used helped.  But I choose the bowl!

For second, Oh My Goodness.  I’m not even a fan of whipping cream icing.  Or chocolate desserts that much.  But this cake is amazing and I couldn’t think of a better pairing than the cool whipped cream.

My roll did not come out 100% even following her instructions.  I think the cake actually cooled too long (4 hours between when I finished it and when I returned home with Tom.) and cracked in three spots when unrolled.  But it still made a convincing re-roll after the whipped cream addition.  And did I mention it tasted divine?

Fooling Some of The People

It’s come to my attention (or brought back to the front of my attention) (Thank you NaBloPoMo!) that I still struggle for a voice here.

Specifically, I never meant for this to become a journal-y what’s-going-on-in-my-day place.  But as I’ve become more and more open to real life people about being Jessica In Progress, I’ve become more and more hesitant to write anything but.

To be honest, it’s also because I’ve become a lazy writer.  I don’t dedicate the time to it that I should and stream of consciousness is easy to type out at the end of the day.  I’m hoping NaBloPoMo will change that.  (There I go again!  Dear Diary, I want to be real writer some day!  Love, Jess)

I’ve always felt my romantic writing was some of my best.  As a lover of fiction, I’ve never wanted to write about space travel or who-done-it.  I like exploring the human connection.  But I’ve been scared in the recent years that if I explore it here, someone will think wrong things about myself and Tom.  And my marriage is pretty awesome and rock solid and it may look very different than what you believe a successful marriage should be but remember we’re the ones living it.

I could write about us specifically…but to be honest…it bores me.  Pretty awesome marriages are all alike; every unawesome marriage is unawesome in its own way.  And I’m not picking a fight just to have blogging material.  (Yet.)

Anyway.

The whole point of today’s writing was to tell you a quick story about why I believe my romantic/human interest writing is not the worst drivel every contrived.

In early spring of 2012, I did a huge overhaul of my blog in preparation to send a link to everyone and anyone who cared about me and wanted to hear about my month-long hike on the Appalachian Trail.  There were typo/grammar corrections (no, really), re-titling, cataloging, even down-right editing of pieces I thought were good enough to warrant the time.

Some things, however, I decided it was better to make private.

A post was made private for one of two reasons.  The first privatization criteria was if it was lame.  Really lame.  If you’ve ever poked around here and wondered about quality control, be happy those are private.

The second reason was if it was too personal.  Some writing regarding my father’s death fell into this category.  As did a handful of romantic posts where it was (to me) obvious the man I was referring to and I thought it might make him uncomfortable.

One is private because it made me uncomfortable.

It is the story of surprising a gentleman at his graduation and realizing the mistake.  I could see the dress.  Feel the pavement of the sidewalk.  And I felt the cringe and red in my cheeks when he turned and wasn’t happy to see the girl.

Except, that didn’t happen.  He was elated to see me.  Or perhaps would have been if the story was true.

I had to re-read it several times to decide.  Finally calendars and plane tickets and “But where did I sleep?” questions resolved for me that I felt embarrassed about telling a story that was…just a story.

Either I’m a pretty good story-teller or a damn shitty rememberer.

Central

It’s not even fucking 6 o’clock and I 1) have had too much wine 2) have had too much ice cream 3) am ready for bed.

If you ever have to be in a long-distance relationship, I highly recommend being the one on the west side of the equation.  Sitting in Florida and having to wait for it to be six thirty and the day done in Chicago sucks.

That said, I haven’t heard from Tom yet today.

My work is right next to a 24-hour laundry mat.  Laundry has been Tom’s job since I started working, but I have tried to make it easy on him since he had so much work to do around the house.  So today I made up for that with comforters and throw rugs and whites.

Ugh.

I had my first “Florida Girl” moment today.  It snowed two nights ago and I drove the truck to work the next day.  (We have no garage or carport.)  This morning I went to load laundry in the car and…

Is this door stuck?

Can I operate the windshield wipers?

How will I see out the back?

(Yes.  No.  Poorly.)

Luckily, because of day light is saved for the morning, I have been raring to go early this week and today I had enough time to start the car and warm things before I needed to be on the road.

And…that’s all folks!

Happy 10th Blogging Birthday To Me

I remember nothing about being 10 years-old.  That’s…5th grade?  Oh lord, if that is fifth grade then hold onto your hats people.  This blog is about to need a brassiere (no training necessary) and gain a bunch of weight despite subsisting on nothing but string cheese and CapriSun.  Might get a little drama queen-ish up in here.*

10 years ago I was in a failing marriage.  It was hard not feel like a failure because of that.**

I had taken his last name and all of my email addresses, correspondence, and ID felt like lies.  I was a fraud by paper, plastic, and IP.

I wasn’t ready to go back to my maiden name.  In part because, well, you can’t just decide to do that.  I was still married and my name was still his.  I didn’t want to perpetuate the lying further.

And so I came up with the online persona of Jessica In Progress.

In celebration of 10 years, I have made public my first post ever.  You may read it if you wish.

And I dug around on this laptop for something old yet new; borrowed yet blue.

“OK Fine.  I’ll admit it.  I’ve been thinking about NotTom***.  Have a bit of an urge to email him, actually.  And maybe I could.  But I’ve got a chalkboard with a line down the middle and the tally is definitely in his favor.

I instigated the last round of emails (point NotTom), he did the breaking off of whatever the hell we were (point NotTom), and while I gave him a Christmas present (I bought it before the break up.  Perhaps I should have just thrown it away?) all I received was my stuff back (point NotTom – although perhaps I deserve half a point in that he didn’t get his stuff back).

He’s the one who suggested our breakfast (point Moi).  That’s all I’ve got.  You may think me immature and snotty for this tit-for-tat mentality (although if it were literally tit-for-tat, I’d have a lot more marks on the board!).  But the truth is, I am always the one to bridge the gap, send the overdue email, make the unexpected call.  If I don’t keep score, it will be bottom of the ninth, 239 to 0, and I’ll keep making desperate fouls.

And the truth is, he does have the upper hand.  You don’t need the chalkboard to sum it up; you just have to read through my blog to know that I’d fall for him again in a minute.”

*For those unaware the entire quote is, “I hate being a drama queen but I seem Unable to Relinquish the Crown.”  I said it in route to a movie with friends just after canceling a long-distance weekend trip to see a boy.  That was supposed to occur in six hours.

**I no longer feel like a failure at marriage.  Even that one.  I do regret not loving him and myself enough to admit when things were wrong and trying to fix them sooner.  Or bailing sooner.

***When I originally wrote this, I did not call him NotTom.  Obviously.  But the point is (now) not about a specific person.  In many ways, it never was.  It was about a specific feeling and writing well enough to share that feeling with you.  After 10 years, have I succeeded?  Let’s give it another ten and see…

NO INSIDE VOICES HERE

We all know not to blog about work.  WE KNOW.  Yet…it’s…what we do?  Because work is also what we do?  I’m convinced if my employers read this they will be amused.  We shall see…

I’ve mentioned before I work for a small family company in the area.  In the office on a mostly daily basis are two sons and a father.

The sons share a huge office.  The father has an office/conference room area across from them.  Me, the front door, and the rest of the office-type helper desks sit in the room between.

The father keeps the most inconsistent hours, letting the sons run the show.  But when he is in the office?  And they all want to discuss business?  They go to the son’s office and close the door.

Now, I never was offended by this.  I wasn’t hired to take meeting notes or have an opinion.  I actually have zero experience in this field of business.  I have a Master’s of Science in Physics and by golly that will qualify to answer some phones in some businesses in some areas.  (Was that a good enough PSA for women to get science degrees?  No?)

But I’ve come to realize they do not so much close the door because they wish to discuss super-secret dealings.

They close the door because they are LOUD.  There is shouting and interrupting and WAIT LISTEN TO THIS.

And I love it.

They are loud because they are passionate and smart and mostly always right if someone would JUST LISTEN TO THIS.

JUST LIKE SOMEONE ELSE WHO MIGHT OR MIGHT NOT HAVE A BLOG.

I knew I wanted to work for these guys from minute 20 of the interview.  And I smile every time that door closes.  Sometimes we are horrified by personality traits in others that are secretly our own.  Not this time.  It’s just confirmation that I have found a home.