Sunday, March 29, 2009

Road Race 1

Piece of Cake, Woodland Washington
Blue sky, threatening heavy dark clouds, 50some degrees.
And Windy. Flags full out, heavy constant wind.

We rolled in to Woodland, pinned on the numbers and started the warm up. I reevaluate my clothing, and strip the wool knee warmers and a base layer. This was a good choice. Matt's race starts, and I have 20 minutes before mine goes.

I find a few friends, one team mate, and we chat briefly about how the race will go. I'm right up front at the start line, and stay at the front thru the neutral roll out. Around the first corner and things pick up very slightly. The wind from the side is brutal. Around the next turn, and speed plummets as we push against the headwind. I'm still near the front, and it feels slow. There is some bumping and sketchy movement next to me, so I decide to move up one place. That little effort sends me sailing to the front, and I immediately know it is a mistake. I shouldn't be in the front. I'm not working this race for anyone but myself, and yet here I am pulling the train. It is lonely up here. Why did I do it? Why didn't I sit up? Rookie mistake. And I knew it every pedal stroke that I sat up there.

As we near the end of the road, a small rise and left turn ahead of us - and the train of ladies in green push it in to high gear. This is the break. This is the effort - I know that I have to stick with the pack, and I push my now tired legs, hoping that they have enough to latch on. They don't. Glancing over my shoulder, I see the last few ladies behind me, followed by cars. They all pass me. I try again to catch a wheel - and fail. For the effort my nose starts to run. I clear it out, and find that it's bleeding. I've splattered my entire right quad with blood. It would be far less visible had I left the knee warmers on. I slow down, alternating which hand attempts to stop the blood loss. Off the back is pretty lonely too.

I'm making calculations - trying to decide how long to let the nose go before I need to stop. Fortunately, it doesn't take too long and I keep going. I can see one woman in front of me - waaaaay down the road. The men's race is in the opposite lane coming at me, and I look for Matt. He was in there, but I missed him. No way he missed me here, all by myself. I chase her down the straight away, taking 4 or 5 miles to catch her. I ask if she would like to work together, and she agrees. We trade off pulling, and my sight is set on the group of two in front of us. By the time we get thru the back section, I've worked thru the wind and lost my partner. Now I have to drop way back or keep pushing to catch the next two. I push. I pass Matt's group again, he asks if I'm okay. He must have seen the blood on my leg - I wonder how much is on my face. I nod, and keep chasing.

I am alone as I ride past the finish line, and am very happy that in this race I only have 1 lap to go. By the time I reach the road I made my huge mistake on, I've caught them. It was a long effort to get there, and they're hurting at least as much as I am. The main field is no where in sight. One of the two is very tall, and she suffers in the wind. I ask if I can rotate in, and they're both happy to have me. They each make huge pulls at the front, and I suggest a 1 min paceline. This helps imensely.

Unfortunately, the wind took out the tall girl in the same location I lost the previous one. The two of us that remain agree that it's too large of a gap to sit up for, and we press on. One final long hard push into a combination head & side wind that leaves no position for recovery. I took a pull, floated left to let her by, and was tired enough that I didn't realize the wind was pushing me right back in to her. We avoided disaster, and I apologize profusely. Right hand turn down a small hill, with a tail wind, and our speed jumps. We're chatting, we get passed by a number of men, and finally reach the approach to the finish.

With two hundred meters to go, I push hard. I don't sprint, but I want to know what my legs have left after that pain. My seat hurts, and I can hardly wait to get off the bike. A friend cheers for me at the finish - a friend that finished far in front of me. I roll by my team mate, she was able to stick with the pack up to their sprint finish ~ a job well done.

I'm satisfied - that I finished, that I chased and caught and helped organize our way back. I know I made a rediculous mistake - and I know I need to work on patience, observation, and persistence. But for now, I finished, and even tho I wasn't with the pack I finished strong.

Parsnip Apple Cake

Carrots used to be my favorite vegetable. Grandma's vegetable garden always had carrots, and I remember many summers when I'd go out, pluck a carrot from the earth, rinse it at the hose, and snack away. Imagine my surprise years later when I had my first parsnip, and found it was the essence of carrot. I love parsnip season, the white flesh, the powerhouse of flavor, the abundance and versatility of this root vegetable.

I picked up a parsnip while shopping last week, and didn't have any specific plan for it. I had baked goods on my mind, and considered an oatmeal parsnip muffin, but that sounded heavy. I started digging thru the recipe books, and pulled out the ol' Good Housekeeping for inspiration. I took their carrot cake recipe and made it my own. By adding one peeled & grated granny smith apple (another reminder of grandma, who lived in apple country WA,) the flavors were bright, the cake came out light and soft, and not overly sweet. I reduced the sugar, changed the amount of oil, and spiced it to my taste.


Parsnip Apple Cake

Mix Wet Ingredients:

1 1 /2 cups sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup greek yogurt, plain
1/2 tsp. hazelnut rum

Combine Dry Ingredients:

2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. alspice
1 pinch cardamom
6 grinds white pepper corns
(Or any combo of your favorite baking spices)

Add wet to dry - until just mixed. Stir in:

about 3 cups parsnip, grated (from 1 large parsnip)
1 tart apple, peeled and grated
Nuts, optional

Pour into prepared cake tins (greased & floured).
Bake 350 for 30+ mins, depending on size of cakes

Does not require icing ~ tho a sprinkle of powdered sugar is nice.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


i'm feeling a bit sluggish.

there are a number of things that i've been avoiding, like brushing my dogs teeth and tackling the giant dust-rhinoceros that is hiding under the kitchen table.

there are many things that i'm doing. beyond the little bits of art work and sheduling a May getaway, work feels busier, workouts are getting longer, and energy is running out. by 7pm i'm done, even tho there are a handful of things i probably should be doing instead of turning in to sofa sludge. but i'm not.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

race fail

There are plenty of excuses. Not tent = no warm up. Legs that feel like granite from Go, and never really improve. Rain, Wind, Soggy Roads = tons of grime, hydroplaning. Boot covers holding 500% their weight in water, every pedal stroke my foot sloshes in the shoe. A small pack off the back that has no clue how to work together. An aggravatingly slow lap, legs that won't warm up, and knowing that two more laps would be hypothermic torture. I won't catch anything but a cold. My legs already hurt - I see them giving out miles from the car. It's another 11 miles or none, there is no shortcut. So this drowned rat jumped ship, right after the first lap. I changed, and figured I made the right decision.

I sat in the car, trying to absorb the heat. To stop shivering. Distracting myself from facing a quitter. Then my friends and team rolled in. The stories started to flow, the joys and triumphs. I had nothing to add, I couldn't swap stories for I had nothing to tell. Agrivation set in.

I'm frustrated. I don't know if it hurts worse that I gave up, or that I know that there is nothing else I could have done to hang with the pack.

Here's hoping a flat race goes better.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


Simple supplies.

Ribbon, embroidery floss, beads.

With a square of fabric ~ the weeping cherry tree.

Monday, March 9, 2009

très bien

I lack the appropriate language to describe how I'm feeling.
I am content, proud, happy, in love, at peace, energized, and amazed.
This list is incomplete, but must suffice.

I've been creating ~ words and foods and art.
It is bliss.

Saturday evening I sat in my craft room, dogs at my feet.

With a blank canvas, needle and thread, and my favorite female artists via Pandora. Before long, a weeping cherry tree sprouted and grew limbs.

My skill is not in drawing with ink, but ribbon and thread. With immense satisfaction, channeling some past life, I was able to sprout a tree. There are still branches and blooms to grow, but I can see it, and I long to set it free.

there grows a weeping cherry tree

its roots spread deep and strong, while

branches bowing graceful low, to play the spring's wind song.


Tonight, after a fantastic kettlebelle (core1) workout, I made dinner. It was a dance in the kitchen ~ a dash of this, a scoop of that, chopping and slicing, sauteing and baking. I'd reach out for a dish, and found myself completing three more tasks before I realized I'd finished the first, and yet it was placed exactly where I needed it. Cooking sans recipe works for me, and produced a fantastic balance of flavors. Ginger Chipotle Fajitas with baked sweet potato. delish! This chipotle sauce is now a staple in my pantry.


At Work we have a new internal blog tool ~ and being the instigator that I am, I created my blog and started sending invites to colleagues to join me. Of course, I had to come up with a Name for the thing, which took me most of the afternoon (multi-tasking! I got a lot done while thinking about this) before I finally decided. Then, a first post, and both were exactly what they needed to be. No worrying, no regret, no wishing I'd come up with something different. Simply at ease. I received a wonderful compliment from my boss (hi, boss!) and was secretly thrilled when I peeked in right before leaving and found I had 53 views!


And finally, amoureux. I adore my husband. I love that we continue to grow closer, to enjoy each other, to laugh and play and smile and be so perfect together. That it can grow, that we are here, now, and not in a rut - that I look forward to his smile, to his humor, to his affection...

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

What's for dinner?

Salad. An ode to Trader Joe's, apparently!
A little spicy, a little more sweet. I'm sure this is more indulgent than strictly healthy, but it was so tasty that we both went back for seconds. No photos, just the memory of delicious flavor and a reminder why this should be a year-round go-to meal.

Start with two chicken breasts
chop, poach in broth with cayenne pepper till cooked thru. drain.
mix about 1/3 c low sugar Raspberry Jam, one tsp orange zest, and a heavy splash of Trader Joe's Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar
pour over chicken and return to heat until sauce reduces, leaving chicken nicely glazed

Tear up green leaf lettuce
Dice two pears
Divide between bowls
Drizzle with olive oil and Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar
Pile on a hearty serving of Chicken
Toss in dried raisins &/or cranberries
Sprinkle on a handful of Trader Joe's Honey Sesame snack sticks
Top it all with Trader Joe's Spicy Sweet Pecans


Mix it up with Your favorite fruits, nuts, jams, and vinegar.


I like winter. I used to claim to love winter ~ what I loved was a romanticized Victorian Christmas fantasy that would linger for months. Halls decked, the cheerful and generous spirit, rosy cheeks, and everything merry and bright. While that is perfect on a post card, or on the few days of snow that do fall, winter rarely lingers as such.

So that by St. Valentine's Day, when cupid attacks with hearts and roses pink and red, I am ready for spring. It is hard not to get ahead of the season, but that dirty rodent is sure to pop up and force another 6 dreary, drizzly weeks on us.

But it is March. March is green, fresh, and full of singing birds returning from their travels. A new bird has set up in a tree nearby, and it has an amazing variety of songs. When I stepped outside the other day, I expected to look up and see 15 different birds, but there was only one chirping away, song after song in a mad attempt to find the one that earns a response.

Spring is coming. And so I celebrate the transition by sipping a spicy cocoa blend from my favorite spring mug.