lost weight loss

i am really, really good at losing 30 pounds. but only in between bouts of my true talent: gaining 30 pounds.

once again, i’ve hit that critical mass that spurs me to horror and a rueful determination to change my ways.

but, a lot has changed since the last time i was in weight loss mode and i have some things to figure out. the most impactful:  we moved. i used to live a five minute walk away from a gold’s gym, where i logged most of my running hours on the treadmill. on the weekends, i ran the 3.2 mile path around lake merritt.

but we moved to a new house and got married, all in the same month, so my workout habit fell apart in july of last year, as wedding plans ramped up. we did a friends+family 5k run around the lake the morning of our wedding, and that was the first time i had done any running in a long time. and the last.

photo by Ali Carras

after the hannavance 5k wedding day run, photo by Ali Carras

after the wedding, i spent some time just generally slacking off and being relieved to be human again. some time turned into a few months and then i sprained my ankle pretty badly at the end of october. any working out that i had been doing came to a complete stand still.

my weight watchers membership fee mocked me every month.

as is my way, the lack of exercise led to terrible/wonderful gluttony in my eating habits and the fatness just kept coming.

my tolerance for out-fatting 98% of my wardrobe stretched a bit too thin, and here we are. but no gold’s gym and no lake.

so i’ve been taking classes at a spinning studio (that is close by, but i have to drive to). it’s too pricey to do all the time, but is probably a good twice a week option. there’s a boot camp kind of thing super close by, and i’m signed up to try that out for a month, with a groupon.

i should try to get back into some running, but i’m scared. scared of all the progress lost and how hard it will be. and just dragging my feet on the idea of running without the convenience of a park and foot path.

but the bits that i am doing are helping me feel motivated to do more and are inspiring my eating habits.

which all means that i’m back to thinking and doing a lot about food and exercise and that means that it’s bubbling up here, too.

again. shrug!

 

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chicks, two weeks later

two-week old chicks

the welsummer, easter egger, jersey giant, exchequer leghorn one and two, and the wyandotte.

Six little chickens, growing up so fast!

The chicks, at just over two weeks old, are no longer little fluff balls of peep. They look more like scraggly wrens or sparrows or birds that live in trees and fly around.

We haven’t named them yet, although we’ve bandied some options around. Like Mrs Weasley and Professor McGonagall. But since they’re all different breeds (except for the two leghorns), we’re slacking on that opportunity for naming twee-dom.

two-week old easter egger chick

the easter egger, up close

They are quite skittish and get very alarmed as soon as they’re aware that we are looming. So we haven’t manage to tame them into proper pets. Once you’ve caught one, they’re generally docile and seem happy to sit with you and snooze. It’s quite pleasant to have a little bird in your lap, although poop does happen on the regular.

Feathers are coming in like crazy. First on their wings, and then little tails. The rest of their bodies are getting a bit scrotty-looking as they transition from downy fluff to feathers.

two-week old easter egger

wings with feathers!

They are very busy scratching and kicking up and rustling about in their pine shavings, which means we are very busy changing their water, at least twice a day. They’re supposed to be kept around 85 degrees (down from the 95 degrees of their first week of life). Who knows if we’re managing that, but so far, they’re all alive. The pea pod shells I offered them were treated like hysteria-inducing alien intruders. Until they forgot that they were there and then they just walked around on top of them.

Another two, maybe three weeks, before they get to move outside to the coop. Which the David is building himself, with a plan he’s devised himself. Which has been, let’s just say, a learning experience.

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about a dog

I had this whole post drafted up, to write about  dog sitting for Wilfredo, Lisa Congdon‘s beloved pup, while she and her wife were in New York for 10 days.

20140527-165031-60631624.jpgHow Wilfredo was a sort of dog trial to see what life with a dog is like. Because I’ve never had a dog, but there’s been this dog-wanting-itch.

So I was going to write about Wilfredo and what I learned. And I was going to muse about the dogs we’ve been looking at on Petfinder and wonder what sort of dog we should get.

Except, before I could write that post:

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20140602-114738-42458558.jpgThis is Rufus, the three-month old puppy we adopted on Saturday. After we said that we wanted to get an adult dog, not a puppy.

We don’t know what kind of dog he is or how big he will be. All we know is that he is not house broken or crate trained, likes to chase cats, and is overflowing with puppy cuteness and love.

 

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recently read

20140524-094227-34947234.jpgThe Luminaries was on every list of the books you should be reading, so I wanted to read it. Real bad. So bad that I waited for my turn to get it at the library for months and months.

But I got it, and let many other books fall by the wayside while I chugged through this 830 page beast.

For a while, I thought that I hated it. But I stubbornly persisted until I was actually curious. The basic premise is a mystery and it did its basic job of intriguing me with it’s fancy “who done it” plot. But it was so fancy that I don’t think I ever really understood. I had the sense that something very clever had happened and I just couldn’t quite ferret it out.

Similarly, I had a nagging feeling that all of the astrology references and the chapter structure were also supposed to be telling me something clever, but I was too busy calculating my library late fees to get it.

And while I’m pretty confident that the villain was responsible, I still don’t know how the one guy got murdered and the lady got passed out in the random nowhere place.  But it was very complicated and I’m sure the author lady was very smart in thinking it all up.

Just not so smart that it could be clearly conveyed to this dogged reader.

’til the next one…

 

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little patch of hopeful farm

The apartment that The David and I lived in before we moved into the new house had no outdoor space, unless you count the driveway. Which sometimes, did count, as we grilled burgers on a hibachi that we had to move out of the way whenever anyone needed to come through.

We fantasized about our one-day-ability to lounge idly outdoors, on the veranda, sipping our mint juleps.

Great glee was had in our homeownership that included a yard (but not a veranda. Come now. This is Oakland.)

The backyard is largely covered in concrete, a practice we’ve been told was common amongst the Italian folk who used to largely populate the neighborhood. Even the little square of grass (luscious and bright green when we moved in, now crispy and yellow) was actually just turf over broken up concrete where there used to be a garage or some other outbuilding.

But it was sunny and it was ours and we would grow all the things.

Enthusiasm was had. Knowledge was not.

We hired a lady who helped The David to build a humongous raised planter. We paid someone $600 for a huge pile of organic dirt. The David’s assertions that we would be saving so much money by growing our own vegetables, dashed.

We bought a bunch of fruit trees, some to go in half wine barrels, some to fit into the few non-concrete spots of ground, so that there are now 7* different types. *See the list of failures.

Seeds and seedlings were planted. Things ensued.

Beseeching and more water could not save some plants.

But here are the things that seem to be doing alright:

kale in planter box

kale, lots and lots of kale

 

zucchini plants

too many zucchini.

pea plants

peas

planter box garden

humongous tomato plants, sad basil, some carrots in front

planter box garden

leeks, scallions, green onions, chives

backyard blueberry

blueberry bush in a wine barrel

violette de bordeaux

fig tree

meyer lemon in a wine barrel

meyer lemon

herb box

basil, oregano, rosemary

*Several bits have totally failed.

1. An herb box of mint was doing amazingly, until one day, it all started to shrivel up and crap out.

2. The avocado tree was always the slowest developing of the fruit trees, and then its lackluster performance went from disappointing to dead. Some kind of root rot tragedy.

3. Baby lettuces got picked at by birds. We covered them with jars. Genius! Lettuces were saved and starting to thrive. One day it got very hot. The lettuces were steamed.

4. The melon seeds we planted were really reluctant to sprout and the few that did sprout are now seemingly disinterested in additional growth.

5. A tree specialist came out and told The David that the fruit trees were planted too deep and they needed to have the root balls closer to the surface. He dug them all up and now the pluot, who had been glorious winner of all tree awesomeness, is now droop pooper sad. Will possibly recover for next year.

And that’s where we’re at. We’ve eaten a handful of blueberries and have started using our own kale in our morning smoothie habit. I suspect a glut of zucchini is imminent. The tomatoes appear to be growing over the fence and planning an uprising.

In the mean time, there has been some idle outdoor sitting. Although due to failure #1, our outdoor sitting does not include minty cocktails.

 

 

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six chicks

 

Since we bought our house (complete with our own little patch of mostly concrete-covered land!) last August, we’ve ruminated on all kinds of plans for what we could do in our yard. All of of which are some poor iteration of the dream of dreams:  owning a goat farm in the French countryside.

Since we’re not moving to France, we decided to go a little more urban homestead and get chickens for our Oakland backyard, instead.

There was much deliberating and reading of the internets. Then we took a class, which helped to alleviate most of the concerns we had about how hard it would be and then we ordered some chicks online that same night.

We decided to get new-born chicks, instead of younger (called pullets) or full-grown birds, since you then have a better chance of raising friendly, handleable chickens. And by ordering online, I had a lot more option as far as breed selection.

I filtered for breeds that were known to be friendly and less likely to get broody. I also opted out of any bantam sized chickens, so we’d have a flock of similar-sized birds. We felt like 3 or 4 chickens would be a good number, so we ordered 6 chicks, assuming that they might not all make it. Each chick cost about 5 dollars. But the overnight shipping was 50.

The chicks shipped already hatched, so they could be sexed and we’d only get lady birds. Very hard to imagine a box of birds shipping in the mail, though. How could that possibly be ok?

Excited and curious, we high-tailed it over to our local post office when they called to say that our delivery had arrived. Then we waited in line for the package pick-up and the lady, who had seemed very dour and annoyed at the world, totally smiled when we told her we were here to pick up some chicks.

She came out with a peeping box inside of a USPS crate.

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We carried the box the few blocks home. It peeped. I could just barely make out some little creatures through the air holes.

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Once we got inside, we opened up the box, and lo! Chicks! All alive, all peeping.

They came packaged up in a bed of straw, with a little hand-warmer heat thing in paper bag.

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They’re living in an empty closet in the Room of Shame (a spare bedroom, full of unpacked boxes).

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The chicks will live inside for 4 to 6 weeks, until they are dressed in their full on feathers, with no fluff.

new baby chicks

Not pictured: a black Jersey Giant and a Welsummer.

 

They are unbelievably cute and do ridiculously adorable things. Like losing their balance and falling over when scratching their heads. Or settling down to fall asleep and then just drifting off into a face plant splat.

They do not like hanging out with us so much and are pretty scared when they see us getting in their space, but I’m hopeful that given some time and more handling, they’ll adapt and be our friends.

 

 

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Recently Read

stack of booksIn the midst of pre-wedding lunacy, I stopped having the bandwidth for anything. But then I got married, immediately stopped thinking about getting married, and I tumbled through a bunch of books.

The Cove, by Ron Rash: In the tradition of Heaven and Winter’s Bone, this book is about back woods Appalachia people, albeit set in World War I times. Laurel has got some sort of birthmark and she lives up on a part of the mountain that is shady, so neighboring mountain hicks think she is a witch. She finds a mute man in the woods and he doesn’t think she’s a witch, so she gets friendly. Good ole boys get rage-y and tragedy ensues.

Among Others, by Jo Walton:  A cross between a Flavia de Luce novel and What a Girl Wants, that movie with Colin Firth and Amanda Bynes. Told diary-style by the protagonist, who (unlike Laurel above) IS a witch. A teenage witch! She doesn’t really do anything witch-y, though. In fact, she is adamant about not using magic. But she does see fairies in the woods. Mostly, the book is about how she likes to read a lot of science fiction and fantasy novels.

The Imperfectionists, by Tom Rachman: A novel that’s really a collection of short stories. Stories about the various people who work for a newspaper in Rome during a several-decade time period. The pieces aren’t really tied up into some neat inter-connected package like you might expect. But each little tale is so piquant in its illustration of some emotional exchange or experience, that I think this was, in the end, quite good.

The Lifeboat, by Charlotte Rogan:  A big passenger ship sinks in 1914 (2 years after the Titanic) and some of the people get in lifeboats. The book opens with Grace on trial for her life for something that happened while she was on a lifeboat with 39 other people for 3 weeks. What follows is an account of her experience on the lifeboat with the other survivors who suffer and power-struggle, while she reflects on her path to marriage-trap Henry, who she’s JUST married about two seconds ago and who is super rich, but no one knows she has married!

Big Machaine, by Victor LaValle:  For such a seemingly juicy plot, this was a bit of a slog to get through. There’s a supernatural element that seemed superfluous to the better parts of the book – the story of Ricky Rice, growing up in a strange religious cult, becoming a heroin addict, mysteriously being invited to Vermont to work as a oblivious researcher on a team of other societally-rejected black folk.

The Snow Child, by Eowyn Ivey:  Fairy tale-esque and as such, rather predictable. But very engaging and nice to read. A girl appears in the place of a snowman made by an elderly couple who lives miles away from anyone else. She disappears in the summer and reappears every year once the snow falls. Incredibly beautiful descriptions of winter homesteading life in Alaska.

Up next – Telegraph Avenue and The Golem and the Jinni. Anything else I should add to the queue?

 

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