Thursday, June 28, 2012

Farmer's Market Report

I love the Farmer's Markets in our area.  The one on Wednesday afternoons is called Smart Markets and features vendors who farm locally and minimize the use of chemicals.  Yesterday we rode our bikes up there (note to self: no fresh eggs if one does this).

This time of year all kinds of yummy vegetables are showing up.  Using what we picked up, I made the following recipe.  It's from The Glycemic Index Cookbook.  One change though -- I used regular mayo instead of fat free.  I can't stand the fat free stuff.  But if you go with the fat free, you'll save some calories. I wish I had taken a photo, but I forgot and the family gobbled them down too quickly for me to rescue that moment.  Sigh.


1/2 cup finely chopped lettuce
1/2 cup finely chopped spinach
3 slices bacon, crisp-cooked and crumbled  (I usually do a whole package and then keep it in the fridge for various things -- doesn't take much bacon to give a lot of flavor to something that needs some zing)
1/4 cup finely diced tomato
1 Tbs plus 1 1/2 tsp fat free mayo
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp salt
1 large cucumber
   Minced fresh parsley or green onion (optional)

1.  Combine lettuce, spinach, bacon, tomato, mayo, salt & pepper in a medium bowl; mix well.

2.  Peel cucumber; trim off ends and cut in half lengthwise.  Use spoon to scoop out seeds, discard seeds. (I didn't peel the cuke as I used an English style one).

3.  Divide filler mixture between cucumber halves, mounding in center.  Garnish with parlsey.  Cut into 2 inch pieces.  Here's where you can be smarter than me.  I cut the cucumber into 2 inch pieces and then tried to fill each one.  Made a REAL MESS!

If made with the no-fat mayo: Calories: 26, Carbohydrage: 2g, Total Fat: 2g. Sat Fat: <1g. Fiber: <1g

Enjoy your summer bounty!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Wheels Keep Turning

Of course, I found this in New York City too.  They have an awesome bike path on the Battery.  However, we saw it mid morning on a work week, so I can't even imagine what it must be like on the weekends.  One of the A-1 folks told me that a friend of hers got a SPEEDING TICKET while in NYC -- on his bike.  Hmmm.

Here's a photo at the end of the harbor lights cruise in NYC.  Not the best photo of my two, but after two days of non-stop walking, they're both still smiling, so it's a win!

And here are two of my graduate, first with her grandmother (my mom) and next with the best principal EVER, Bruce Butler. He's retiring this year.  What a bummer for my son.

Our exchange student left yesterday.  The house feels a little bit emptier, but he had pretty much "checked out" the last month anyway in a desperate attempt to relive the non-smutty parts of "Endless Summer."  You know how you meet the most interesting people one month before you're supposed to leave the area forever. Then someday you make a movie about it and everyone is bathed in that perfect glow.

So now it's back to getting that room cleaned up, painted, new carpet (not because of him but because it needed it before he moved in!).  Will post photos as it happens.

Time to go for a bike ride.  Catch you on the flipside, dude.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Not Sophisticated Enough

In an effort to not offend people who really like modern art, I will refrain from expressing in words what I kept thinking in the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York City.  Instead, I will show you a few photos I took and let you decide what constitutes "art".

My son said this looks like the white boards at school
AFTER they've been cleaned!

And here are some photos of things I thought were interesting, but not necessarily "art".  At least they spoke to my heart!

And finally, some things that are indisputedly famous art.

Experts call Van Gogh's The Starry Night a work of art -- I agree.
But my son, a young man fearfully and wonderfully made by our Creator,
is even more so.

I don't have to understand an artist's motivation in order to grasp the artwork, but I do try to apply the standard of Philippians 4:8 -- and if the work doesn't in some way glorify God, I have a hard time calling it art.  Next time I go to MOMA, I'll start at the top floor (where the Picasso and Van Gogh paintings are) and work my way down.

Oops, last one.  This is my graduate, who will be studying Geospatial Imaging in college this fall.  In other words, she is a map geek.  Maps can definitely be art!

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig

Whew!  Back from New York City.  My son and I had never been, my daughter had only been for "hit and run" visits through school, my husband hadn't been there since BEFORE the World Trade Center towers were built and our exchange student hadn't been at all.  BUT OF COURSE, it was the one place he wanted to see before he leaves the US next week.

I whined, I complained.  I hate crowds, I hate noise, I hate pretentious people.  I thought New York was all about that.  My son whined along with me.  But in the end, we sucked it up and went.

And don't tell anyone I said this:  It wasn't so bad after all.

Yes, it was busy, and noisy, and crowded and smelly.  And there were people of all kinds who were almost uniformly generous, and helpful and kind.  A few were less than pleasant, but compared with some of the people we run into in the Washington, D.C. area, they weren't so bad.

We stayed in Brooklyn at Ft. Hamilton (love those military benefits) which made the trip affordable.  We bought City Passes so we could visit some of the sights without having to stand in line forever.

And most importantly, the rift that had grown between my children and our exchange student closed a bit. It will never be a perfect relationship, but they understand each other better and they are more patient with one another. Sharing trudging a zillion blocks of city pavement cuts through the B.S.

Did we find pretention?  Oh yeah -- but that's another post another day.  In the meantime, here's what we saw last night on our river cruise.  The two structures under construction are the World Trade Center towers that are being rebuilt.  The one on the left is the Freedom Tower.  It will top out at 1776 feet.  On purpose.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

It Went By Too Fast

Wow -- that was fast!  After anticipating it all year, the week of high school graduation flew by!  My oldest is now a graduate, and eagerly looking ahead to college.  In fact, "one foot out the door" best describes her these days.  She's a maps whiz so she's working at an internship at nearby USGS.  She also continues her volunteer work with Spirit Open Equestrian -- a therapeutic horseback riding group.

Because of the graduation, my mom has been with us.  That's been very nice.  She's the perfect grandmother -- indulgent but not interfering. Both kids love having her here.  She's leaving this morning.

Yesterday evening I took her for a walk at some of our pretty gardens.  They are next to the Fannie Mae building, and we could see how the recession is affecting their maintenance.  That part was sad.  But as we were gazing across one of the ponds we saw a huge leaf moving along -- like a sail.  By squinting, we could see it being pulled by a beaver!  He took it all the way across the pond and then "flip", he took it underwater.  We think his wife sent him out to get fresh salad.  I did take a video, but it's not really clear using the viewer available through blogger.  Oh well.

We are headed to NYC for a few days for our exchange student's last "hurrah."  He leaves next Monday.  I'll post some good NYC photos when we return.

Have an excellent Father's Day!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Sweat or Wet?

I rode to the next town west today (Herndon, VA).  There's a Great Harvest bread store there (awesome breads -- if you have one near you and haven't tried it, you MUST).  They give samples.  We LIKE samples!  I also needed to pick up our favorite loaf, Apple Scrapple, since my mom arrives this evening for graduation Thursday afternoon.  This is the link for the Herndon store -- you can see their menu and their "home town" approach.

One of my daughter's friend's dad works there.  They immigrated (legally) from Guatamala about ten years ago.  He works two jobs, and his wife works as well so their three children will be able to succeed in America.  The kids are 16, 10, 8.  The oldest already works part-time during the school year and full time in the summer.  She's a year behind my daughter, so every time I'm in there I talk to her to dad about scholarships and preparing his kids for college. It always floors me how little the immigrant parents from Central American really understand about how to access the higher education system in this country.  I'm looking forward to sitting down with them one evening this summer and trying to map out a plan, not just for their daughter, but for the younger boys as well.

Look how cool the new bike racks are!  Herndon has an old-timey downtown and they do a good job of preserving its character.  I love the whimsy of these -- and the marked off parking places!

At any rate, since I talk about my bike all the time, I thought I'd show you a photo.  This is before the rain started.  Yeah -- 5 miles home getting soaked.  All in a good cause, right?

It's a Bianchi road bike, purchased in Germany 22 years ago.  I've replaced the seat and tires, but the Shimano brakes and gears are original and still working pretty well --- okay, the middle gear is starting to slip more and more -- but after 22 years, I think I've gotten my money's worth!

Last night my son agreed with me to try a 26 mile ride this summer.  That's from our town center out to the end of the W&OD trail.  I did 10 today in the rain, without anyone to talk to -- twice that in dry weather with someone for company should be a lot easier.  Still, I think I'd better start extending my mileage!

If you click on it, you can see where the green line crosses the county line between Fairfax and Loudoun.  That's close to where we start and head west, all the way out to Purcellville.  Did I mention that Purcellville is in the foothills of the Blue Ridge?  As in mountains?  So our plan, the first time, is to have my husband drive us out to Purcellville with the bikes racked and then we'll ride back towards home.  Better to do it the first time in a downhill elevation, I think!

If it gets to the end of the summer and you haven't seen me post "I did it!", feel free to harass me!

Monday, June 11, 2012

An Incomplete Phrase

Reading news stories today, I was once again struck by how well-meaning people, in the midst of trauma, claim "God doesn't give we/us more than we can handle."  I think often people say it in order to affirm their faith in a benevolent, loving God who will give them what they hope the outcome will be.  It is to comfort themselves, give themselves something brave to say as they face the awful thing.

While I do believe God is loving, and benevolent, I also believe we can't see what He sees, thus as humans we define "love" in a completely different way.  Our interpretation says that if we love someone, we want them to be happy, healthy, etc.  But that's not true love. It's opportunistic. What if being unhappy or unhealthy for a season is what God has called them to?  What if everyone prays for healing, but the person dies. Does that make God wrong? Or our prayers not good enough? If we love someone the way God does, we want the very best for them as defined by God, not by human desire.

Romans 8:28 says, 'And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

To repeat that "God doesn't give we/us more than we can handle," gives great comfort but indicates an incomplete understanding of how that works.  Jeremiah 29:11-13 says, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."

The idea here is that in order to claim that promise -- that God doesn't give we/us more than we can handle, we have an active part in the relationship to play.  We are to seek Him, call upon Him, talk (pray) to Him, and we are to do it with all our heart.  Mark 12:30 says, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength."

This comes directly from the Old Testament in Deuteronomy 6:5, which says, "Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength."

I love The Message version: " Love God, your God, with your whole heart: love him with all that's in you, love him with all you've got!"

And that's just it.  If we aren't loving God by seeking His will constantly, we are not in fellowship with Him. And if we aren't in fellowship with Him, we have no idea whether the bad things that are happening to us might be potentially lessened, or more thoroughly understood.

So what people ought to say is, "God doesn't give we/us more than we can handle with His help."

Thursday, June 7, 2012

New Neighbors

A new Dunkin' Donuts just opened within biking distance from my house.  During their grand opening the coffee is free.  They have opened in an area that desperately needs people to believe in retail.  The shopping center is surrounded by subsidized and "affordable" housing, which sadly means that it is really tough for businesses to make a go of it there.

During my stint with the cute, young cop on Sunday (see the story HERE), we talked about this shopping center.  The anchor stores are Safeway and a Rite-Aid Pharmacy.  He said the Safeway loses in excess of $100,000 annually due to theft.  The Rite-Aid used to be about the same, but they've put in more security measures which has helped.  He said that after 10pm, the Safeway only has a few workers on shift and people will come in, grab a case of beer, and walk out of the store -- knowing that no one will/can stop them. That time frame is prime time for police to be in lots of locations, so they can't always be there to deal with it.  So Safeway figures in the loss, charges us, the HONEST PEOPLE, more money, and accepts it as a cost of doing business.  They're a big company, so they can take those hits, but a small business can't.  If Safeway leaves, the housing around there will experience a "food desert" and it will be THEIR OWN FAULT!

What kind of mentality does it take for people to think this kind of behavior is acceptable?  It's a mixed area -- new immigrants (mostly Spanish speaking) and African-American, with a few of the other categories mixed in.  For many, they are third generation living in this same block of housing.  Somewhere along the way these people have decided their "right" to indulge in what they want trumps honesty and integrity.

There are a couple of other businesses like a Buffalo Wings Factory (Thursday night all you can eat -- the local athletes LOVE it), a Curves franchise, a laundromat, Burger King, Dairy Queen, an Indian restaurant and a pizza place.  There used to be a Dollar Store but the theft drove them out of business.  You'll notice that all of the businesses listed are service oriented -- no goods sitting out to be stolen.

At any rate, I admire the Dunkin Donuts for even opening a new business in this economy!  When I stopped by I had just finished 10 miles on the bike but EVEN SO, I passed up a donut and had their chicken salad on croissant instead.  It was incredibly good!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Taking Flight

Since I first discovered the Nest Cam for the Decorah Eagles, I've visited almost every day.  Watching those ugly little creatures go from completely dependent mouths with small bodies attached to the HUGE still-dependent birds that they are today has reminded me of all the parenting pluses and minuses.

When they were brand new and horribly needy, both parents fed them, and couldn't get there fast enough with more fish.  The babies slept a lot and didn't move around much.  At first one parent was on the nest almost all the time and the other brought food to the sitting parent.  It reminded me of how, after my first born arrived via emergency extraction, my husband had to care for all my needs as I tried to heal and care for our daughter.

After a few days, the parents would both be gone periodically.  When they returned, one would arrange him or herself over the top of the three chicks to keep them warm and protect them.  Some of the best moments were when it was pouring rain.  The adult bald eagle sat there, hunkered down against the elements, doing what he/she was designed to do -- protecting the babies.  Isn't that what we did as new parents?  Huddling over and gathering in our little ones?

As they grew, the adult eagle was able to cover less and less of the chicks -- even though an adult bald eagle is one of the largest birds out there!  I look at my over six-foot tall son and marvel that he was ever inside me!

It is rare for a bald eagle's nest to hold three eggs, much less to have all three survive those first few weeks.  Each morning I clicked anxiously to see whether they were all still moving.  I'd try to will the adult bird to move off the nest so I could count the fluff balls.  I'd excitedly call out to my family, "STILL THREE!"

Today, the eagle chicks are the equivalent of teens.  They're so big that the nest that used to look like the size of an aircraft carrier looks instead like a crowded parking lot.  The parents don't really enter the nest much, but drop by to feed.  The chicks are aggressive with the food, but not with each other.  While I don't feed my kids through "fly by" events, the competition for the parents' attention (i.e. food) is quite familiar.  Even when my teens don't act like they want my attention, they're still competing for it.  And I have to say the insatiable desire for food does describe my son pretty accurately.

The eaglets like to sit on the very edge of the nest with their backs to the big world outside -- just like my almost-college daughter who alternates between being ready to go and not quite ...  Each of them practices flapping their wings and jumps around the nest doing it while the other two look annoyed at being jumped on.  (It actually reminds me of moon bounces!).  This reminds me of when one of my kids is pushing the envelope with us and the other looks on with annoyance at the fuss being created.

This is not the Decorah eagles, but still a great photo of a pair of adults.
Photo by Hal Korber/PGC Photo

At this point, the eagle chicks are more of a danger to themselves than at any other time.  The flexing of wings and practice flying can take them right over the edge to danger.  Just like our human children, the exercise of their autonomy is fraught with danger, but necessary for their growth.  I was just watching and the oldest of the chicks looked like he(?) was about to take flight -- but then he saw an interesting stick and backed down.  Reminds me of "I'm going, I'm going, I'm going .... oooh, look, something shiny!"
Still -- soon the chicks will fledge -- they will make their first flight.  It will happen without classroom instruction or flyer's education training.  One minute they'll be exercising their wings and the next they'll be on a different branch or on the ground.  Around 40% do not survive their first flight, so with three of them making it this far, they've already beaten the odds for eaglet survival.  My prayer is that they will all do fine on their first flight and subsequent flights and grow up to make more eagle pairs.

Even after they leave the nest, they will not be able to feed themselves for several months.  The parents will land on the branch near them and feed them.  This is similar to my child leaving for college, but me still making sure the dining hall bills are paid. She may think she's independent, but the reality is that she will still need my support -- and I'll have to come to her branch, rather than her coming back into the nest.

I love that the Raptor Resource Project underwrites this opportunity for us to vicariously participate in the parenting of the eaglets.  This has been a precious opportunity to see God's design for how we are to raise our children evidenced in His creation.  Through it, He instructs and shows us, how to love, nurture, protect, discipline and when it's time .... let go.

Biker Chic(k)

I love my bicycle.  I love everything about it.  I bought it in 1989 in Germany and it was a high dollar purchase back then.  Under the tutelage of my friend K, who knew a LOT more about bikes than I, I selected the shimano brakes and gears, the bianchi frame, and the amazing paint job.  It's a road bike, so it's designed to tour Europe in a leisurely fashion.  It rides very smoothly, but it's very light to carry and maneuver.

This past year or so I've really gotten back into it.  Part of the reason is that riding at top speed down one of the hills here is the closest I'll ever get to flying on my own.

Another great thing that has energized my riding is the Map My Ride app.  I love seeing how far I've gone and how fast and how the elevation has changed.  Then I flip over to the "Lose It!" app and plug in numbers and voila -- weight control.

About three weeks ago I decided I was going to get serious about getting some weight off.  I'd been riding but not in a determined fashion.  I read a sign in the bike store that said "riding 4 miles per day equals 10 pounds of lost fat per year."

I reasoned that was without any other lifestyle changes.  So I quit drinking red wine (yes, again) and started being more aware of what I eat, and began riding at least 4 miles per day.  Usually it's more like 8.  There are days like yesterday where I don't ride any, but mostly it's between 8 and 10.  And guess what?  My clothes already fit better.

I ride on a combination of trails, sidewalks, roads and bike lanes.  I've had people yell at me on all different types of surfaces but I figure they're just envious of the freedom the bike gives me.   I'm very aware of the traffic patterns in my environment and I know where it is safe to be on the road and where it is NOT -- and there are a few tunnels I avoid as well.

And have you seen the cool colors for visibility?  I have bright green, yellow, orange and red moisture wicking shirts to ride in, padded shorts, and a good helmet.

Now if we can only get people who actually RIDE bicycles to design the places we park them, and it will be easier to do our shopping this way too!  What's wrong with this photo?

Sunday, June 3, 2012

My County's Finest

I volunteered this morning as a Bike Marshal during my town's Sprint Triathlon.  A sprint triathlon is named for the distances, not the company (although if you were Sprint, wouldn't you jump on THAT opportunity for sponsorship?).  Usually when we have police support we get the auxiliary and (ahem) senior members of the force.  Today I was luckier than that!

I met up with the officer directing traffic at 6:45 am.  Although I had a chair and an iPhone to play with while I waited for the first cyclists to come through (so he didn't really have to come talk to me), he actually got out of his vehicle and came over to talk.  Can I tell you he was young and cute?  I was running through my "single girls" list in my head trying to come up with the right match.

He was unfailingly courteous (even when some drivers were not) and actually talked -- real conversation.  If you've ever spent time with a cop you know that's rare.  We talked about our high school and the trails I usually ride (he's a cycle cop when he's not on events) and he confirmed my suspicions about a couple of things in our area that have been concerns to parents (like which stores I don't want my kids going into because the students who do go in there are getting a reputation for being petty thieves).

At any rate, I was so happy to support our local event, and interacting with this guy made it even better.  I was so inspired by the cyclists that I went for a ride with my son this afternoon.  Woo-hoo!