Strong Women and Whiskey

not for the delicate palate

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Location: Oxford, Pennsylvania, United States

I've found that if you speak as if with authority on nearly any topic, most people will believe you. This frightens me.

Friday, March 31, 2006

a quick gloat

Two tests in class this week, and both of them scored 100.


And yesterday's medical terminology exam was a tough one. I rarely gloat, but I'm particularly thrilled about this because I was so worried that I'd do poorly.

I brought home a portable table to practice the back sequence this weekend. I need to practice my body mechanics until they become natural, and work on timing.

mmm. time for coffee and some outdoor time.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

self portraits and spring

sometimes when I'm low, I take self portraits. I almost never share the images. What I do, is to take the pictures, download them onto the computer and pick them apart -- usually around the time I start counting my pores or berating a single unplucked eyebrow, I have to start laughing at myself for being absolutely insane.

That and a nap in the sunny spot by the flower bed did the trick.

How very O'Keefe, no?

In real life this little guy is only 3 inches tall, a warm spell then frost stunted them.

I actually sorta like this one, because the timer caught me off guard.

strong hands

"Icicle, icicle where are you going?
I have a hiding place when spring marches in"
- Tori Amos

Beauty is a beast. It stalks me and pounces when least expected, or everywhere, all the time - maybe not a beast but a swarm of bees zapping me along the way. I will stop spellbound to absorb it in the most awkward places. I'm not sure why, it's almost masochistic. What I do know is when it gets thrown at me, it doesn't feel natural, and when it doesn't I miss it. In both instances I long for something genuine that just won't exist. I think things can be beautiful when they meet a need. Like haggis. Most folks will not touch it, but if they are literally starving, it becomes beautiful. After the hunger pangs have ebbed, then it's beauty fades and it may even become revolting again.

In school we work on each other. I have always loved the human form and it's many, many variations. But when you're the one on the table, there's a certain overexposure there, since in the classroom setting, there are 5 people not on the table and 4 people on the table. Laying prone with a drape tucked into my underpants, I can feel my fat rolls schmooshing around and I don't even want to think about what that looks like. Breasts, too, become a little unruly and smoosh out the sides, but that happens to almost all of the women in this class. And I know it's about wellness, and I know that my intent is pure in that respect, and I know that I am not judgemental at all of other's figures. But you can never be sure of others -- or even if I am sure of this intellectually, emotionally I still beat myself up.

Then comes the self depricating humor. I am not someone who is "fishing" for compliments with humor. Honestly, it's my way of indication that yes, I know I'm fat, loud, or talk too much by way of humor -- let's just get that out there so you don't think I'm ignorant, too.

for example a dialogue:

A: (to S and I) Do you all like cake?

me: Honey, do I look like I've ever let a piece of cake pass me by? (laughs)

I've often thought too, that it's good that I'm pretty non-sexually stimulating if I'll be a massage therapist, because working on either gender can be tricky then-- men because it could be counter productive and they'll be unable to relax, and women because there are few things more intimidating to most women than a very attractive woman -- again, counterproductive.

In any case, it's good to have strong hands.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

dream a little dream

Today I woke up and it was chilly and grey. In that foggy place before waking I reminisced on those late-mornings in early spring when I'd stay over a Mike's place, curled into his couch. We'd wake up and snarf some Triscuits and Easy Cheez before stumbling out the door for coffee (the first of many cups a day) from Wawa.

I mentioned this to Doug and so by 10:15 (I'd only woken up the third time at 9:45) we were out the door and heading to Wawa. On the way, I saw baby sheep running across a field, and baby cows nursing. I thought of becoming vegetarian for the 50th time this week, and decided again, that I'd rather limit my meat consumption to animals that well, I know where they came from and how they were slaughtered.

At Wawa, I got coffee. And a breakfast sandwich. And a chocolate covered cherry.

I cannot eat without getting it all over myself. I have biscuit crumbs on my shirt still, and I dribbled the cherry cordial stuff on on of my pigtail braids. Now my hair is stiff and sticky, but tasty.

We decided to not stop at the flea market because at 11 p.m. the guys there were looking mostly to leave. As I mentioned before it was also grey and chilly. In the spirit of the day Doug and I drove around and talked. Went to a local "Country" store that was rather cool. Drooled on some furniture that I know I could have made myself. Hit the local nursery and looked a fruit trees.

Doug made sure to go back the way the baby sheep were so that I could see them again. We dream and drive a lot. The latest dream being to turn the barn ruins in to a convertible greenhouse/three season room/ barbeque area. It'll work, really, it will.

and we have gardens and fruit trees and a barbeque and kitties and doggies and lots of baby animals and chickens and a massage/spa area and meditation gardens lots of stuff to do and we'll try to be self sustaining and everything...

and perhaps in the process, we'll still manage to keep our friends, eh?

Friday, March 24, 2006

Over here...

*Warning, this is apt to be a long post due to my own negligence in maintaining this blog.*

Just in case any of you are wondering, massage school is a beautiful thing. We practice on each other! Which means that odds are, I'll be having massage of some kind approximately three nights a week for the next several months.

In an effort, however, to learn "how to learn" again, I've been a bit of an internet recluse. I generally check my email, but have not been good about responding, and browse my regular blogs and then get off the computer. It has a bad habit of sucking me in.

School is wonderful and scary. We have a class of eight, which is impressive I've been told, for a night class. The biggest, and in some ways best, difference between this form of higher learning and the collegiate form is that we are all there for a common reason: to learn massage. What we intend to do with that knowledge may vary since there are so many areas in which we may focus - whether that may be in a spa, or gym, or in a physical therapy/ rehabilitation setting. A normal college class will have people that have to be there to get the credit and have no particular interest in the subject matter aside from learning enough to pass. Enthusiasm makes a huge difference.

Unfortunately, I've found myself to be a very annoying classmate. In same ways, I'll wager it's because I'm a bit socially starved, in others more due to the fact that I'm one of those insecure types that makes up for it with humor and chattiness. In any case, I talk to much, and even moreso, wisecrack entirely too much. I have enough experience in teaching to know how disruptive that can be. I may be comfortable with the material, but I may be hindering my classmates. Our class design is pretty relaxed, I don't want to abuse that.

So right now I'm working on thinking before I wisecrack, in tandem with only letting half the things I want to say actually come out of my mouth. Questions pertaining directly to the subject at hand do not count. I find that I do not have this problem when we are working on massage itself, but in the classroom setting. Come to think of it, I recall this habit in other classes I've taken (way back in high school). But only in certain ones - the classes when for whatever reason, I started to get pegged as "the smart one". Now there is another "smart one" in this class (no one, in my opinion, is lacking in intelligence at all, but you know how labels go), and I sit next to her, really like her, in fact. Anyway, it seems that, when I feel this label hovering over my head, I start buffering things with humor, all kinds of humor, to keep it from sticking. It's an odd kind of superimposed humility and scream to be liked, isn't it?


Another great thing about the massage field is that it's not something you learn and just go out and do. You have opportunity to constantly be learning. There are, I believe, continuing education requirements for licensing, as well. The act of learning has stimulated my brain and I don't feel quite as stagnant as I did a few weeks ago. Yay!

In other BIGBIG news, the kitchen is finally done! As is the siding, and the windows, and the hardwood flooring. Pictures will follow, but wow, what a relief to have it done. The house no longer looks like a haunted house up on the hill, and the kitchen is HUGE and gorgeous. I'm so happy with how it turned out. The before and after pictures will be amazing.

We're also getting ready for spring, we burned the huge pile of brush in the barn ruins a few weeks ago so that we can start putting more in. I'm perusing the Seeds of Change catalog for veggies, and we've already purchased some blackberry and raspberry bushes to go in -- possibly this weekend. We're not frost-free yet, but I can mulch them and tent them with plastic sheeting and they'll be fine. All the other briar-type plants around here will take over if we don't. In an effort to thwart said coup, Doug, myself, and two of my brothers hacked at about 75X25 feet of solid briars over the course of two weekends in order to clear the hillside going down to where the garden will be. The second (and hardest) weekend, the guys did it without me. There was all kinds of crap buried there = barbed wire, old flooring with the linoleum still on it, more barbed wire, golf balls, what looks to be old tractor parts, and God knows what else.

We did have a really big, as in REALLY big bonfire that night. Had the big idea of roasting hot dogs. We had to wait a bit for that. Finally Daryl figured out that you could belly crawl towards one of the more burnt-down areas if you wrapped you face in a hoodie and used a long stick. If we caught fire, we figured that we already had the first two steps of "Stop, Drop, and Roll" taken care of. Mmmm. Hot dogs.

So the brush is gone, and now we have two work on digging up the root systems, clearing out some more junk dumped two owners back. We figure if that hillside has done such a good job supporting brambles, then the raspberries should grown there really well. *grin*

Doug and I have invested in a pretty decent tiller which will be delivered some time soon, I hope. As many times as we are going to need it, the investment in purchasing one just seems financially logical. I hope to get the first till done within a week so that we can get some organics worked in and the first wave of weeks out before planting. By planting early we can also determine whether we'll be absolute failures at growning from seed and be able to purchase seedlings if we have to in late May.

The only awkward thing so far is that I have to learn to take better care of my hands, so I can't afford to be reckless, have to wear gloves for everything, etc. Not that I'm terribly reckless, it's just that I can't have any open wounds whatsoever, even cat scratches, or I have to massage in gloves which would be better to avoid. Aside from wounds, this also means that I need to be carefull about what work I do -- for example, no more grout since it does a number on your wrists. I can't say I'm altogether too upset about that. I feel like a pansy to have to limit myself to "protect my hands, wah!"

In the animal world, one of our recently gained chickens has been lost. The flock wasn't taking too well to her, so I'll stand firm in the belief that she packed her bag ran away. Doug and I combed the area and didn't see any evidence of "fowl" play so that's what we're sticking with. It's a shame, too, because she was of a breed that lays green eggs. The rest of the chickens are being quite productive and we've been giving away eggs left and right. I think I may pickle a batch of them soon.

Gigi, the Russian Blue kitty has finally be spayed. Hooray, no more midnight yodeling from her. Pierre, the rabbit, however has cost us another $150 in vet bills since he's been having weird poops. You have to watch their poops, apparently. And he had to have his belly/butt shaved because it got all cruddy with stool. He's the most expensive pet I've ever had, and it's getting frustrating. Fortunately, I absolutely love our vet and her whole office is this amazing place of happy energy.

Doug surmised that perhaps Collette got a little worried about watching the other two go to the vet. See, Pierre went in on Wed. and came back with a shaved butt. Gigi went in on Thursday and came back with a shaved belly/butt. On Friday, Collette was being exceptionally sweet and attentive as if to convince us that she really was fine and didn't need her butt shaved at all. :)

That's all the Barnhenge excitement I can think of so far, and I want to go play in the kitchen now.

Monday, March 06, 2006

today's horoscope/ nerves

"Be a little braver than you normally are today, dear Taurus. Take some risks and show others that you have the strength to accomplish anything. There is a lively, anxious feeling to the day that could make you quite restless. This energy is encouraging you to get up and get going. Initiate something yourself instead of sitting back and waiting for someone else to take the lead. Don't be afraid of failing. You will never succeed if you don't even try."

Hmph. In thirty minutes or so I have to go to work. Immediately after that I leave for class. I'm so excited and nervous and all that good stuff. I've not even had any coffee today, I don't need it. Anyone who knows me, knows how very, very, odd that is. Miraculously, even the cold I've been battling since last week some time has abated.


Sunday, March 05, 2006


I've been having this dream, sporadically, but over the past few months, maybe almost a year, of running.

Not running to, or from , or away... just running for the pure unadulterated pleasure of it. Running, rather slowly in long loping strides - usually in what I can best describe as cross country style. Sometimes there's a person or two with me, sometimes I'm alone - they're never of any consequence.

I played soccer for years, though after I hit adolescence I stopped. I've never been a "runner". I've envied the lithe, determined, folks that brave all kinds of weather to do it. It's just odd, but satisfying in some ways, that in this dream I can feel so strong and comfortable in my body, when in life I do not. And it's so real, that I almost feel as if I've actually been there. Which is probably the best it'll get since I don't forsee getting this hulking pile of meat moving like that any time soon.

Friday, March 03, 2006

school shopping

I can't believe it's already March. My classes start on Monday and I'm incredibly nervous. Most folks I know in person don't understand why I'm so nervous, I think they just assume for one reason or another, that I've had some experience in college. I have, in fact, two whole weeks before I dropped everything. (long story) Needless to say, it's been a matter of contention for me, and I try not to advertise the fact that I've got nuthin' more than a high school diploma (albeit 3.5 GPA, honors, and advanced placement creds).

When I complete this course, I can at least feel like I've got some kind of specialized training, and the great thing about the massage therapy field is that I can expand that with continued education into any number of areas I'm interested in. But the best part? School shopping!

The idea of school shopping took me way back... what would I get? I'm such a dork for office and school supply-type items. You know how a lot of middle-aged guys go back and get the car they always wanted when they were younger? Yeah, I was afraid I'd walk away with a whole load of things like a Trapper Keeper with a unicorn on it, Lisa Frank folders and stickers with rainbows and unicorns, pencils that change color with your body heat and unicorns, hollow pencils with the points that come off and get stuck back throught the top and the new point is there with unicorns, Mr. Sketch scented markers, a pencil box with secret compartments and unicorns, extra erasers that smell like grapes, strawberries, or unicorns.... *grin*you get the point.

Several friends convinced me that I was not re-entering middle school, so should probably stick to something more appropriate. So I Doug and I went shopping. I made a pretty decent haul. It was surreal trying to figure out what I would need and actually having to purchase loose leaf paper. We also went clothes shopping. I got two really cool funky skirts for $7 a piece, and a bunch of shirts. Since I'll be going from work to school, I needed some that would be versatile and so got a bunch of 3/4 length sleeve knit shirts.

For supplies I have basic stuff, a Mead Five-Star zipper binder, three-hole punch, some pencils, some pens, some paper.... AND I did manage to wriggle in a few Sponge Bob folders. I also know I have some Garbage Pail Kids and My Little Pony stickers hanging out somewhere, and some cute kitten stickers from E2 to decorate with....

coconut and chai spice and everything nice....

Earlier this week, as I was getting out the ingrdients to make fish chowder, I spied a can of coconut milk in the cupboard and became bound and determined to use it somehow in making dinner. Suddenly things just had to get a little exotic.

I had a sample packet of Lemongrass and of Ginger from Gourmet Garden which got slathered on the salmon fillet, with crushed coriander, a bit of lemon juice. While that marinated, I scanned for recipes involving coconut milk and rice rather than just shuffling things together willy-nilly. I really couldn't find anything that a) I had all the ingredients on hand for or b) suited my needs. But I did find some inspiration.

Half the coconut milk I heated a bit with some hot madras curry powder, turmeric, and garlic then set it aside. I made a simple saffron rice for the meal and some sauteed until just limp onions and bell pepper. The fish was simply broiled until flaky. Overall it was pretty good, next time, I think I need to incorporate some fresh lime. I also think tuna steaks over the grill would be better.

Now dessert was another matter. The way I saw it was that I had rice, I had coconut milk, and bananas. I didn't think really I could go wrong. So on a whim I tossed a Celestial Seasonings India Chai Spice teabag into the rice water and let it steep until the water was boiling and I could add the rice. I let that cook, unsalted until it soaked up all of the tea (it smelled wonderfull, let me tell ya), then added 1 cup of coconut milk, 1 1/4 cups milk, 1/3 cup sugar and let it thicken to get all pudding-y. While that was thickening, I tossed a few tablespoons of butter into a med hot skillet, let that melt and added some fresh grated ginger and allspice and a chunk of dark brown sugar. When that had gotten melted and bubbly, I blended it into some slice bananas, tranferred the pudding into a bowl and spread the mixture over the top.

The results were quite tasty -- in the future I'd use more coconut milk, and use the tea bag in milk to boil the rice. However, the chai/rice was so fragrant and soothing while the fresh ginger in the brown sugar perked things up a bit.