Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Getting Back to Climbing, Week 10: Absence Made My Heart Grow Fonder

What was going on this week?  Urgh, I had to cancel the gym on Monday and Wednesday because the Kid was very congested - and as I have said before, we think the chalk dust is not so great for us, especially the Kid when he is a snot factory.  So, I cancelled with the Wonderful Brittany.

However... pause.... for dramatic effect.....  I did get on the 'dreaded' hang board: Monday and Tuesday.

Sometimes it is easier than others...

On Friday, I made it to the gym.... alone.  Can you believe it... alone.  John had taught a class at the gym on Thursday night (ropes, anchors and gear - told you he is a badass).  He texted me on Friday: "you should go to the gym tonight".  I was filled with zero motivation for the gym, but a ton motivation to stay outside working in our gardens (I am very into gardening this spring... but that is a whole other post in itself).  By the time John got home, I still had zero motivation to climb, but considerable motivation to get out of the house... so off I went, alone.

Despite slacking off the past few weeks, I climbed alright.  Not great, but alright.  The gym was generally quiet, which I love, and I was able to just zone out with my iPod.  The thing is, I missed John and the Kid. I missed them.  I have heard my friends talk about feeling 'guilty' when they are away from their kids; that wasn't how I felt, I just missed them both.  When I got home and pulled up to the house, I saw the Kid standing half naked at the window waving to me, with John in the background, my heart just swelled.  I love my family.  I love my life.

Even though I missed John and the Kid, it was good that I went to the gym by myself.  It is good to miss your family; it is good to feel like that, and good for them to feel your renewed love when you get home. Also, I came home with stories to share with John, and they were not about diapers, snot, or stress; just like he had come home the night before with gym stories to share with me.  There is a tendency, as a mom, to always be there - and not only do we need a break from our family, but sometimes they need a break from us (as hard as it is to admit that).

This brings me back to my belief that taking time to be 'me' makes me a better mom, and a better wife.

Another quick observation... I used to hate, hate, hate the gym.  Hated it, but I had to go there to train, and I bitched the whole time.  Well, I was away for so long that... dramatic pause... I like the gym again.  Yes, plastic sucks, but I enjoy my times as a plastic princess.  See, absence does make the heart grow fonder.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Getting Back to Climbing, Week 9: Memory Lane

On Sunday we went bouldering... outside.  I haven't been on real rock in two and a half years, and it was fantastic.

My brother was visiting from Arizona; so John, my brother (aka Unc), the Kid and I went out and bouldered.  There are some excellent boulders here on Long Island.  We went out to Wildwood State Park; there are some terrific boulders both on the beach and on the hillside.

The hillside boulders are one of the first places I ever bouldered outside, and they are loaded with great memories.  When John and I were together during our first summer, we spent the entire summer at this boulder in the evenings after work.  There is a problem on the corner of this mammoth boulder, that I worked, and worked, and worked.  I know I fell off of the opening move at least 500 times; really I am not exaggerating.  We have all been obsessed with something new... we dream about it (while sleeping and awake), spend our time doing it, and feel our spirit grow and soar while we engage in it.  Maybe it is surfing, knitting, gardening... or, in my case, rock climbing.  You know what I am talking about.  Anyway, that summer I worked that opening move over, and over.  We had just gotten a video camera, and John videoed me endlessly, so yes, I have video documenting me, blowing those moves repeatedly.  I felt so happy to be back there, and back on that problem.
John is a badass

Again, this isn't really about rock climbing.  It is about re-connecting with who I was before I was a mom, and who we were pre-Kid.  As John and I walked to the boulder, we told my brother some of the stories and adventures we had there.  We weren't just parents anymore, we were the same people who bouldered out there seven years ago when we first met.  Talking about climbing friends, some are still big parts of our lives, and others who faded away into different lives.  Remembering the other couples who were also just starting their relationships... none of them made it.  

I think it is critical for couples, with or without kids, to go back to those places where they fell in love.  To do those activities that you love as a couple.  To remember why it is that you chose this person as your mate.  Especially as parents, we tend to get bogged down with the mundane day to day stuff in life, and forget to just be joyful and grateful and have fun.

Climbing outside reminded me of two very important things ...
#1.  Real rock is sharp.  Ouch.  Crap it hurt.  But the friction was freakin' fantastic!
#2.  Plastic sucks.

But, alas... I returned to plastic on Wednesday at the gym.  It had been a while, and I climbed like sh*t.  But who cares about the blue problem at the gym... Plastic Sucks!
The Kid had a great day too.
And in case you were wondering, that problem that I worked that summer?  Yeah, I sent it... as a warm up.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

What's Cooking? Pasta with Chickpeas and Charred Tomatoes

Pasta with Chickpeas and Charred Tomatoes is on the menu here at Chez Eclipse tonight.  So get ready!  I have made this three times before, and it was a winner all three times... so, now I will pass the recipe on to you.  Lucky Duck!

I found this culinary delight in the Feb 2011 issue of Bon Apetit.   This is one of the magazines I subscribe to, and always seem to find something yummy.  I do wish they had more vegetarian recipes, but I guess that is why I also subscribe to Vegetarian Times.

One of the great things about this recipe is that it is high in protein (from the beans) and low in fat (it is vegan).  Very filling.  Very easy.  Can be adapted easily - I'll share my changes with you after the original recipe.

Get out your skillet.  Boil some H2O.  Set the table.  Bring your appetite.  And Enjoy!

Pasta With Chickpeas and Charred Tomatoes

8 oz. penne pasta
1/2 cup plain hummus (store bought, unless you make your own)
2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2-12 oz. bags of cherry tomatoes
1 - 15 oz. can of garbanzo/chickpea beans, drained
3 garlic cloves, pressed
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 c. halved, pitted Kalamata olives
1/2 c. chopped fresh cilantro

Cook the pasta.  ****reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water (I almost always forget this part)****.

Heat oil in a heavy skillet over high heat.  Add the tomatoes and sprinkle with salt an pepper.  Cook until they are blackened in some spots, shaking the skillet occasionally, about 8 minutes.  Mix in the chickpeas/garbanzos, garlic and paprika.  Crush some of the tomatoes to release juices.

Mix the hummus with the reserved pasta water (hope you remembered to reserve it).  Add hummus mixture to the pasta, mix to coat.  Mix in the chickpea mixture, olives and cilantro.

My changes:
I used rice pasta instead.  There are some really nice organic, brown rice pastas readily available.  We have been trying to reduce our gluten intake and rice pasta fits the bill.  It has a good texture, not the same as white flour pasta, but good.
We also quadruple the amount of black olives!  Seriously, we use like 2 cups.  John and I think that the olives make the dish, and the Kid absolutely loves olives.
I also only use dried beans; as I have said before, we do not eat anything from a can.  There is BPA in the lining of cans, and I don't want that crap in our bodies (this is nearly impossible to avoid, but that is a topic for a different discussion).  So I rinse the dried beans, and then boil them on high for a while (40 minutes maybe), turn the burner off and let them stand in the hot water for maybe an hour.  Then I taste test to see if they are cooked... if not I just repeat the process.  OK, I know this sounds like more work, but it isn't, and it is worth it.  Then you just measure the beans you need, and freeze the rest.

This is delicious, easy, and healthy!  Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Climbing.... teaser

Oh so what did I do this week that I haven't done in a very, very long time?

Curious?  I hope so.  I will fill you in on Saturday.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Getting Back to Climbing, Week 8: Be Here Now

Be Here Now

Drum roll....... we made it to the climbing gym ZERO, yes zero, times this week.
Zero point Zero.
What happened you ask?  You were doing so great!
Well, the wonderful Brittany (and I truly mean that), who watches the Kid, was sick on Wednesday.  And today, Friday,  I started to hear some congestion rattling around in the Kid's lungs.  He sounds like a growling bear cub when he breathes.  John and I imagine that a chalk dust filled gym isn't the best thing for his lungs.  Ho, hum.

You know I am always feeling like I have to do everything this moment.
I need to get back to the gym and train ASAP, so I can climb hard THIS spring.
I need to get back to the pottery studio this session, so I can get back to creating pottery RIGHT NOW.
I need to go out to my glass studio, so I can finish my stained glass panels IMMEDIATELY.
I need to get upstairs to my jewelry workshop, so I can make some new pieces to list on Etsy THIS MINUTE.
And this train of thought, or list, goes on and on.

I have this sense of urgency that I NEED to do all of the things that made me "me", before motherhood, right now.  There is a feeling that, if I don't engage in them right now, they will slip away.  I wonder do all moms feel like this?  Am I scared that I will never have these parts of myself again if I wait too long?

The thing is, while I am busy worrying about the things that I feel like I NEED to do, I am missing out on enjoying what I am actually doing.
I am raising a child.
I am teaching a human being how to live.
I am exploring life with my husband.

And I am doing these things RIGHT NOW, TODAY, THIS MINUTE.

So, when I am beating myself up about missing the rock climbing gym this week, I need to focus on what I have, and what I am doing.
I need to 'Be Here Now"... borrow a phrase from Baba Ram Das

All that said... I can't wait to get to the gym next week (or maybe tomorrow getting outside to boulder).

Monday, March 7, 2011

Getting Back to Climbing, Week 7: Good Style

Soooo, after many weeks of hitting the climbing gym twice a week, I seem to have hit a speed bump.  We made it in one, yes only one, day again this week.

On the plus side... I made it to the gym.  We went in on Wednesday and overall climbing was good.  Sent a project, and fell off of two boulder problems that I had recently sent.  Somedays that is just the way things go.

Talked to a friend about style.
Uhhh, no not fashion, but climbing in good style.  Many years ago I was frustrated watching some guy send one of my projects... in total cockroach style.  Total cockroach.  Kicking the wall.  Feet popping.  Desperate.  Flailing.  Groaning.  Grunting.  Huffing and puffing.  All aquiver.  It was painful to watch, but that dude finished my project and I was so pissed.  I ended up seeing him again years later rapping off a climb in the same manner... but that is another story.

Anyway, after watching this guy, I started thinking that good style is important.  I would rather work a problem in good style, than send it in absolutely horrible style.  Both John and I think that climbing in good style is part of what makes a good climber.  And it is not just about being strong; we have all seen the strong guy who butchers a really hard climb, but sends, and it just isn't enjoyable to watch.  Then there are the climbers who you stop and watch climb, regardless of the grade, just because their movement is beautiful.  When I describe their movement as beautiful, it has nothing to do with gender, men can be beautiful climbers.  Fluid.  Controlled.  Balanced.

So I guess the point is, that I would rather be the one who works the project in good style than send it like a cockroach.  And, yeah, I felt this way even when I was climbing at my peak.

'Good style' isn't only in related to rock climbing;  going through life in 'good style' is rather important.  We have all been witness to the people living their life in 'bad style'... the strong guy who picks on the geek, people doing a task 'half-assed' just to get it done poorly, the beautiful bride who doesn't look so beautiful because she is a total bridezilla, the boss who puts people down just because he can, or the parent who is annoyed by their child's quest for knowledge and zest for life.  I hope to live my life in good style; I am not the best at anything, and I don't live in a big, fancy house and drive an impressive car.  But, trying to live life the best that I can, for me, my family and those around me, is what is important to me... in good style with fluidity and balance.

Goal for next week: get in the gym twice.
Goal for the rest of this weekend: get out on our climbing wall, it is just warm enough.

PS.  Just after writing this, I did get out on our wall. 
Me on the woody.  The Kid in his homemade hat.  John taking the photo.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Travel Journal... Joshua Tree, California

Joshua Tree, California is one of my favorite places; not only for the rock climbing, but also for the desert beauty.  I haven't been there in three years... one year I was pregnant, last year the Kid was just beginning to walk and it would have been a challenge, and this year we just don't have the extra money for a road trip.
But, I try to write about our climbing trips so I remember some of the little details.  When I go back and read my journal, I realize how much I would have forgotten if I hadn't written it down...

February 11, 2007
8:58pm local time
Joshua Tree, Ca
Safari Motor Inn, room 105

Ahhhhh yes - returned to JT yesterday.  As I said in my last entry, we booked this trip during our last trip here.  We walked out to Slashface yesterday when we got into the park.  It is is pretty crazy highball, and we only had one pad.  John got on it, but it was dicey with only one pad.  The walk to the boulder was at least 20 minutes off the geology road, which would have been a long walk back if one of us had a busted up ankle.  I chickened out and didn't get on it.... I'll save that one for when we have like four pads.

We walked out to Ionic Strength today.  

When we started out for it, I asked John how far it was... 'like 20 minutes'.  We found it two hours later.  I was a little pissy because I didn't bring much water or food, and I was hungry and ended up getting really thirsty.  I got really pissy when I saw the climb.  I knew the grade, 5.12a, when we started out, but what I didn't know was that there aren't other more moderate climbs nearby.  I am not a 5.12 climber; yeah, I'll get on them and work it, but I had never finished a 12.  

Ionic Strength is a very intimidating climb.  Very Intimidating.  You climb the arete and the face is just blank from the ground, and then it gets vertical.  It isn't even an easy climb to start;  you have to walk out over this void with hands on one rock and feet on the other.  Throw up a heal and pull over a lip, then you start the climb.  Climb the arete, and the 'holds' (really potato chips) run out just as the climbs gets vertical.  Sh*t!

John turns to me, and tells me that I need to climb it first, since he may not be able to do it twice (like if he went first, then me, then him to clean the anchor, and the anchor situation was a whole other thing.)  So I climbed it, not clean by any means, parts were in good style, parts were total cockroach style, and I finished it.  The hardest climb I ever finished.  

Tired.  More tomorrow.