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Adventure Sunday

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I am running out of month for my goals, which gives me a little more get-up-and-go right now, as well as distracts me from being bored and/or lonely. Yesterday was Adventure Sunday.

After church, I went to the North Carolina Museum of History downtown. It is free, like all real museums, and shares a block with the Natural Sciences Museum that Reed and I went to a while back. I didn’t explore the entire museum, but I did see the historical clothing exhibit, the small exhibit about North Carolina’s eugenics law and program, and the exhibit about Margaret Morley’s photography of people of the Appalachians in the early 20th century. It’s a toss-up between the photography exhibit and the eugenics one, over which was best. I would like to go back and listen to the personal accounts of people who had been involuntarily sterilized, because I only listened to one (there was a loud and obnoxious family at the museum–the adults were terrible).

Then, I came home and made Zucchini and Herb Fritters from VCfE. They were ok, and fairly simple to put together. The fritters needed something more substantial to go with them–maybe they would be best as a side with a good bowl of tomato soup with a crunchy bread stick. Or something. Very easy to make though, since the grated zucchini drains while you chop everything else up. Then, just mix together and fry up. They look very pretty.

After that, I finished reading The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst. Eh. The ending was fantastic, actually. I don’t think I will purposefully read another book set in the 1980’s though, because it depresses me. Actually, what was depressing was that the main character is a gay, fresh-out-of-college kid in the early 80’s and AIDS hovered like an ever present raincloud over the first part of the book. It rains later on, of course.

Links to Reviews: NY Times Washington Post

So, after yesterday, I can update my Goals list to: Bike miles so far: 8 Trail miles so far: 1.5 Birds: 0 Recipes: 2 Books: 3 Tests: 1 New experiences: 2

Chicken Enchiladas

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Tonight I made my first new recipe for the month of June. It was Stacked Chicken Enchiladas with Salsa Verde and Cheese. Reed thought it was delicious. I thought it was too salsa verde-ish, but with four cups of it I’m not sure what I expected.

This is one of those recipes that I look at and think, oh, that’s do-able. Then it takes an hour (plus cooking) and has several involved steps. And I didn’t even make my own salsa verde! (Although I am thinking about it, because I used canned this time and maybe the flavor is lighter and fresher with homemade. But we were all proud that I chose not to be overly ambitious. I also did not make the pickled onions that were the relish for the dish.) If you did parts of it ahead of time, instead of trying to cook the chicken, roast the peppers, grate the cheese, and fry the tortillas up and assemble the thing all at once, well, it would come together quite nicely and with little effort. Technically, you are supposed to start with 2 cups of roasted chicken, but I didn’t have any on hand–which made an extra step for me.

Next time I make this, I will have leftover chicken and I will not try to roast the peppers and grate the cheese during the assembly time. If every night for dinner, I could do one little prep step ahead of time for the next dinner, we would eat like kings! But then I would have to plan more. Urg. Also, I would try to hunt down the Mexican cheese that is mentioned–I used Emmentaler, as suggested, which is like a Swiss cheese. Sounds weird, tastes perfectly fine.

Also, I opened the box of Marthas the other day and thought–why do I have these! Do I really want to keep them around? (From 1999 and onward.) Why don’t I just cut out the parts I want and toss the rest? And I might just do that, but I got bogged down in reading the ones for June again. Anyway, this is related because the recipe tonight was such a Martha recipe–a jillion steps, a good result, but in the end, I’m just too tired to eat it. Ha! But really, those kinds of recipes are haunting–like the empanadas I made for Cinco de Maya the first year we were married, or the vegetarian stuffed bell peppers that I made for the family Christmas one year, or the orange-carrot cake, or the cranberry-orange-walnut cookies. I think about those things a lot (especially the empanadas! which took hours and hours) and how good they were to eat, and how much fun it was to create those things. Cooking new things, or old things that require some real prep work, is so much fun. Also, we have boatloads of food to work with because I have become like a professional grocery shopper this month.

Also, semi-unrelated, I have been reading this book called Refuse to Choose by Barbara Sher. The point Sher makes is that some people aren’t wired to have a focus–that thing in their lives that consumes them, that they could do forever. Instead, these people, who she has named Scanners, have multiple things that they could do–and they want to do them all! She argues that Scanners should do all of the things that they want to do, and offers suggestions of tools to use to make time for all your multiple projects and ways to think about careers and organizing your life so that you are able to create your dream life. Most of it isn’t incredibly relevant to me, but I am getting some tips about how to work on the adventure list.

Anywho. Tired now. I tried the new Ben & J’s ice cream, Creme Brulee, and it is very sugary, but nice.

Bike miles so far: 8 Trail miles so far: 1.5 Birds: 0 Recipes: 1 Books: 1 Tests: 0 New experiences: 1


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I had an adventure this morning! I rode my bike to Target! Everything around here is pretty close by, and I’ve been measuring the distance when I drive around and scouting out how I could get places on my bike. Today, I just decided to go for it.

Mostly, I rode on the sidewalks because one of the roads is pretty high traffic. Generally, riding on the sidewalks is not a good idea because you have to watch out for pedestrians and other users, and cars do not look at sidewalks very much when they are entering intersections. I didn’t ride on sidewalks near our house, because there are always people walking or running on them and because the road is ridiculously wide. I did ride on sidewalks where the road was a busy four-lane, and I saw two pedestrians in three miles. It was 8 miles round-trip, and the worst part was riding up out of the little hole at the bottom of the hill where we live.

It was pretty uneventful, except for the fact that I had to ride through four sprinklers on the way there. Lucky for me, it was about halfway to Target and my clothes dried out by the time I got there. Target has a bike rack, which is why I decided it was a good place to ride to, although it took me forever to get my bike parked and locked up. Anyway, I didn’t take my helmet off until I went to the bathroom in Target and…well, brushing my hair didn’t do me any good. So, I shopped with sweaty hair and a red face–but whatever, it was nice to be inside cooling off a bit. I need to grow my hair out so I can put it in a ponytail and not look so bedraggled when I take my helmet off.

Also, riding my bike meant that I was very quick about my shopping! I was so afraid that I would get back outside and someone would have stolen my bike! I did lock it up, but you never know.

Anyway, I had a good time. Now I know I can do it–and besides Target there is a movie theater, restaurants, and tons of shops, so there is a lot to do over there once I get there. The cars on the road were pretty friendly, although there weren’t that many this morning. It also wasn’t very hot, although the last road is pretty shady.

This week, I’m going to try and ride my bike everywhere I can (other than my bar review class which is FOREVER away and at night). I need a floor pump with a gauge and a mirror, though. Maybe when I go out to get groceries this afternoon I can stop by and get those things.

Bike miles so far: 8 Trail miles so far: 1.5 (at Lake Johnson yesterday) Birds: 0 Recipes: 0 Books: 1 Tests: 0 New experiences: 1 (bike commuting!)

There is an opinion piece today in the NYT by Richard Conniff about the cons of buying local. (Link, reg. req’d and Times Select subscription) He starts off talking about “buy local” with respect to food, but almost immediately branches off into consumer goods in general. Conniff’s point seems to be that “buy local” is a phrase that could end up harming US international trade, and that the carbon footprint of shipped around the world goods isn’t really that bad. Plus, it’s just anti-foreign stuff.

I think Conniff is a little off the mark. Buy locally and support local, small-time, farmers–hopefully those who use sustainable, low pollution practices. Yes, that might reduce the energy spent to get those goods to your table–but consuming food that is able to be grown locally ties you to that location and grounds you in a local foodway. Conniff uses the example of rice grown in California–which is a pitiful example, because rice probably shouldn’t be grown in California. Take squash grown down the road here in the Southeast versus squash grown in Mexico–what is the difference there? Or peaches grown across the street, versus the ones from California or Chile? Those are the comparisons that should be made, not pineapples grown in some kind of closed environment in North Carolina versus pineapples from Hawaii. Some food you aren’t going to be able to get locally, and that is the point. Once upon a time, traveling meant you got to experience the very different ways that people lived–including the way that they ate, since they drew from different resources than you had available at home.

Plus, if you buy locally, then there is a greater chance that local farmers will be able to plant varieties that do not have to be grown with an eye toward transportation, storage, and shelf life. Instead, varieties that are more fragile and more tasty have an opportunity to be savored and enjoyed. The greater the diversity within the varieties of food we eat is a good thing, because it preserves genetic diversity and gives us more tools to combat parasites, fungus, drought, etc. without intensive irrigation or the overuse of pesticides. Conniff does not address any of this in his opinion piece.

Then Conniff moves to consumer goods, like light bulbs and cars, and pots and pans. I have never heard a buy local argument for consumer goods. Why? Well, because pots and pans don’t have a limited shelf life, like produce does. Pots and pans don’t have innate properties that can be preserved to better the production of future pots and pans. In short, this is a completely different argument. This is the buy American argument. Why should we buy American? Because we like to support local workers? Because we really don’t need 3/4 of the cheap stuff from China? I don’t know, and I really don’t care about this argument. I care about whether the people who make the things I buy and use are paid a living wage and have a safe and humane place to work–whether it is in the US or not. That is what I would like to focus on, with respect to consumer goods. On the other hand, one argument does work from the buy local food comment–sometimes products are important to an area and give you a real feel for what it is like there. You could buy a pine straw basket that is handmade from an artisan in a place known for those baskets, or you could walk into Walmart and buy a machine-made basket that looks like it (hypothetically)–which has more value? Probably the handmade basket from the place where that is a custom, because it ties you to that experience of being in that location, with a person who has special knowledge.

Appreciating what is unique about your region of the world is not a bad thing. The fact that you may end up reducing carbon emissions on the things you consume is just a small piece of that picture.

I finally have gotten around to reading one of the books on my list of twelve books to read this year: Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl. (Never mind the fact that I am five months behind on this task.) This particular book made its appearance because it was one of NYT’s 10 Best Books of the Year for 2006, and I like to keep up with some things. What if everyone starts referencing this book, and I haven’t read it? (Yes, maybe Raleigh is a fantasy land, unlike the state of Georgia, where people strike up conversations about fiction instead of television. Nevertheless.)

Special Topics, what shall we say about you? The last third of the book kept me up last night–long after Reed had finished watching his allotted recorded television of the evening and had gone to sleep, which is saying something. It tore me away from the Internets this afternoon, after I tapped out some emails, and spun away my afternoon. I encountered the annoying problem of skimming the paragraphs, missing chunks of information, while I searched for the paragraph where the other shoe would fall.

It is the kind of book, where you get to the end and think, “Hmm, I should read this again, knowing what I know now.” Of course, it took almost three hundred pages to get to those kinds of thoughts, so I’m not going to re-read it tomorrow. But maybe later this year. (When I have some free time that is not scheduled for Newness.) Also, there are those things that I know I am missing–things I know I should know, but don’t want to be bothered to think about them. Tell me the story now! Ha.

Anywho. If you would like to know what the book is actually about, rather than what I thought about it, I’ve linked to some reviews below. NYT Review Salon review

Hemlock Bluffs

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Reed and I went out and had a minor adventure today. We drove over to Cary and visited Hemlock Bluffs State Natural Area. It’s a little park notable for the fact that hemlock trees grow on the north side of the bluffs along Swift Creek, and hemlock trees do not usually grow in the piedmont. It was a nice park, and we walked the Swift Creek trail and over to see two overlooks–about a mile. There are little trail guides along each trail, which describe random little nature bits along the way. We were there about 1pm, so it was nice and hot and we were glad of the shade. The overlooks are probably better in the winter, because right now it is pretty hard to see anything but the leaves. One day, we will have to go back and walk the long loop trail. I hope then that we will get up a little bit earlier, so we don’t melt!

Oh, the Horror


There are no [Enable javascript to see this email address.] in North Carolina. None. The closest one is in VIRGINIA. Of course, this wouldn’t matter except for the fact that every other night as I leave bar review I think…I could eat a [Enable javascript to see this email address.] hamburger about now. And now I know it is impossible. There was much howling at this discovery on their website tonight.

In other news, I think I am going to run a 10 mile race in December. Maybe like a birthday present for myself. It’s on my adventure list, and I wrote W (I think that is still an available initial here), a friend from college, about how she got started running to get some insights. W is fabulously adventuresome, and a real runner–not a pretender like me! Anyway, she sent me some good advice–the most helpful being to just pick a race and then do it!

I tend to want to set a schedule about running and calculate how many miles I could theoretically achieve in X weeks if I did Y, and get all caught up in figuring out exactly how to do this running thing. W’s message was a wake-up call for me, because she talked about running the way I think about biking. I’ve written three different paragraphs trying to explain it, but nothing I write really captures why I love riding my bike and how even what training I do isn’t work (even though I wouldn’t call it fun sometimes).

I’m not sure why I think this about bike adventures and not running adventures, but running is harder than biking! (In my experience, difficulty runs: biking, walking, hiking. Running is sort of off the charts.) Apparently it is time for an attitude adjustment and some new running shoes.

By the way, BRAG is next week–my dad’s first and my mom’s third. This year it is from Columbus to Savannah. I’ve been teasing my dad that he will think it is a luxury bike tour after our Trace trip. No Bob and a hotel every night!

So, the 10 mile race appears to be in reach. I’m not going to talk anymore right now about the fact that I want to ride a century in November in Claxton. Or announce to this blog the 30 X 30 Challenge. Or the amazing adventure trip Reed has hatched out of his head for me to work on. Heehee. If I did those things, then it would look like I would be biting off more than I can chew and you’d all be worried. Oh, who am I kidding, don’t you expect this by now?

Goals for June

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I used to, once upon a time, make goals for myself each month and list them on the blog. Back then, it was fundraising, letterboxes, pounds lost (haha), new birds, trail miles. Which, of course, expanded to all of the above and run/walks, 3Day training miles, and bike miles. I didn’t do too badly, and at least it kept things in the front of my mind.

So, for June.

Bike Miles: 50 Trail Miles: 15 Birds: 3 New Recipes: 4 Books read: 4 Stupid bar review tests taken: 5 (I know! This is not fun or exciting, but it will help #95.) New experiences: 3.

These are all pretty self-explanatory. It has to be an actual bike, the trail can’t be a sidewalk (although paved is allowed), birds are new species to add to the life list, recipes can be anything, books have to be for fun, I have to actually do the tests well, new experiences are things that I have never done before, not just that I have never done in Raleigh. When I was in college, I did a new thing every week for a while and that is how I ended up eating sushi for the first time and also going to the Georgia Museum of Art. Those are the only things I remember, but I’m sure there were others. It doesn’t have to be completely novel, but new restaurants and shops and groups all count. Off to Mortgages.

Altering the Adventure List


I have decided to change one of the 100 adventures. Thirty-seven is visit every state park in Georgia–and presumably I thought I would do this in the two years since I made the adventure list and lived in Georgia. But that didn’t happen, obviously. I would still love to visit Fort Mountain (home of the #2 best dayhike in GA) and Vogel for the hiking, and some of the ones in south Georgia that are total unknowns.

But it is coming off the adventure list because it is not a high priority anymore. I was going to just change it to North Carolina state parks, but Reed said that would make this goal a moving target if we moved again. Which is true. He suggested that I think of some other park related goal, but that didn’t seem to work out. (Although I could add “Join the 900 Miler Club” in which you have to hike every trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to join. That would be park related.)

Instead, I’m going to add a non-park related goal/adventure. Learn to drive a stick shift. I’m not sure how I didn’t learn this to begin with, and I remember trying to learn when I first started–but I must not have been very interested at the time. So a new #37.

I’ve also got to start keeping a new list of adventures that I would like to have, because I have thought up more! 100 is such a nice round number, though, that I don’t want to change it. But what about hang-gliding, surfing, and riding my bike across the country? What about a camping trip in a canoe? And a helicopter ride? Going to the top of the Empire State building (can you do that any more?)? What about riverboarding? (Although that might terrify me too much, which is why base jumping and skydiving are not on the list.) Water-skiing?

The 100 are things that I really want to do, and these others may not be–so I’ll just hang out with them for a while. I know, I am able to do things even if they aren’t on my list.



After nearly seven straight hours of reviewing family law (my studies at home + bar review class), I wish I could take a vacation from my life. A complete vacation, where I’m not also dealing with giant chores (moving to a different state, finding a job) or small ones (laundry, dishes, cat litter) or personal grief. Tomorrow is Saturday, so I get to do house chores and practice tests.

Whine, whine, whiny whine.

Good news: I got a library card today and checked out two books. A mini-vacation in the middle of everything, but I want more than an hour. Greedy piggikins.

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