Wednesday, June 25, 2003

In Which Our Heroine Has a Major Merangue Crisis
Well, tomorrow is the party. A party! A party! And this is a good thing, except that I am doing the cooking. And since I dont know how many people are turning up, and never have calculated how much people will eat, I don't know whether or not I have enough food. I think I have enough for people to drink, so that should be ok. But in the midst of all the cooking (chicken in two different marinades, scallops in another marinade, a very nice plum pie, and the cake is coming along) my merangues won't fluff as it is too humid. Oh no! Oh no! What is a gal to do???????

I don't know why I throw parties. I can't handle the stress.
Stressed in the Kitchen

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

In Which Our Heroine Eats Pancakes
One of the best things about rowing is pancakes afterwards. Let me correct that statement. *The* best thing about rowing is pancakes afterwards. Liz and I utilized this concept this weekend in our training. Saturday was a looooong slow row, aimed entirely at picking up bridges and points on the Head of the Charles course, then turning around and practicing them. This will stand us in good stead come race time, because we will now practice them for months. This could really help out. It certainly improves confidence. But it was a long row. Immediately following it, we grabbed Julia from wherever she was and then hit Victor's for pancakes. Ah, pancakes. The Route 66 special - pancakes (raspberry for me, chocolate chip for Liz, plain for Julia), 2 eggs the way you want them, and ham, sausage or bacon. Plus, for us rower types, sides of Scally toast. Because you really can't get enough carbohydrates in 20 minutes. We tried, but obviously not. So we scarfed it down with some classically bad coffee, and were happy people.

But the rest of Saturday was spent with me on my feet, helping with the CRI annual auction. It went well this year. Again. Good donations, great volunteers, lots of fundraising. Jane's hat went for a record $310. Now that is a hat. And then some.

Sunday, back to the boathouse, this time to erg. We were exceptionally glad we had made the plan to erg when we saw the weather. Because true to Boston form this year, it was heaving it down with rain. Even harder than before! I think this is actually the hardest I'd seen it rain yet this year. I just can't believe it. But good to erg, although it seems like every time we do a piece to push ourselves, it has to be so humid you can bite the air and chew on it. At least I'm doing the work. That is the important thing. But by the time I came home Sunday, between all of Saturday and what erging we did, plus being re-stuffed with pancakes (ahhhhh, the pancakes were even better on Sunday!) I came home, did a whole one load of laundry, and napped away the afternoon.

Erging without pancakes this morning wasn't the same, I have to say. Not the same thing at all. But maybe that's why I'm home and baking right now. Well, that and the party Wednesday. The merangues are in the oven, humidity or no!

Friday, June 20, 2003

In Which Our Heroine Experiences Someone Else's Tuesday the 16th
While I have relatively strong feelings that gut instincts, etc should be relied upon, occasionally to the extent of not wishing to get out of bed on certain mornings, or falling in love over the timespan of all of twenty minutes, somedays you just don't know what you're going to wind up with, and that is the case when someone else is having a bad day. Actually, Liz's day started out pretty well. There was sun, there was a picnic, there was our staff end of season Swan Boat ride, there was joy. With some brief arrangements made to meet up for practice, off we went our separate ways, to meet up again to head to Liz's house to grab gear and go. "How was your day?" was met with the revelation of quite horrible things happening at her job. It is quite a despairing situation, really, and one you don't even want to contemplate, but Liz was having to contemplate it. Never mind, it was time to row, and some days you just need to row more than others. This, it seemed, was one of those days, and rowing was going to be fun no matter what.

The situation changed, however, when there was a wee collision. A double, coming upstream, was so far over on our side of the river that they passed us on the incorrect side of the boat. And not quite wide enough, as there was the pranging. We took out their washbox, and then Liz's starboard oar snapped. In two places. The opposing boat, without even bothering to enquire if we were ok, proceeded to announce that "they were wide, but we were waaaaaaaaay wide." Meaning, of course, that we were too wide. Untrue! Quite profoundly untrue! And then they grabbed their washbox out of the drink and rowed off, after announcing that one of us was going to have a long row home. It was enough to make me glad that we'd taken out their washbox! But then you just have to let it go. There are jerks out there in the world, and if you let them all get to you, you're going to be a quite unhappy person.

Besides, we had bigger problems. We still had to get home, which was three plus miles upstream, and we had a broken oar, which would set the boat terribly off balance and risk us falling in, not to mention that it would be one long slow row even if we did manage to do it. Luckily, Jessica came over in a motor launch to see what was up, and nipped into CBC to grab us a spare pair of sculling oars. We made it upstream, even if not perfectly set up as the oars no longer matched, but whew, it was over. We landed, and then something else happened to Liz which I won't go into here, but let's just say it was enough to make the poor girl say "Good lord, WHAT ELSE can go wrong in four hours?" (Let your minds wander here. It could be anything, and I'm not giving hints. Just know that it was not kind of fate to do such a thing.)

Some things then needed to be sorted out. First, we had to call Jon, who is the man who is very kindly letting us borrow his boat and his oars, and say "Um, hullo, we've had a bit of a bust up. But we'll replace your oars pronto." Unfortunately, I had to leave this all on voice mail, which is not the way I would have liked to have done it. But I also didn't want him to find out from someone else what had happened. We were responsible for the equipment, and thus it was our responsibility to tell him about it, not someone else, so voice mail was the option. Then we had to figure out how much it was going to cost us to replace the oars. Turns out $650. Ouch! Liz seemed to think she was going to have to do this herself, since it was her oar and her steering but my view is that if we're a team, then we're a team. We were rowing, it was our oars, and we're in it together. Even if we weren't, I really don't think it is condusive to team harmony and efforts to suddenly back off and say "well, Liz, this is just all you and you're on your own with it. See you tomorrow for practice!" Not that I was desperate to pick up a bill for $325, but team is not a concept that is defined by pricetags. I do have to say though that it does seem a bit of a waste of a pair of brand new grips! :)

And of course, Liz needed some special treatment - fate was handing it to her rough. I asked her if she wanted a drink or food or anything, but really she wanted to go home, and have a drink there. Sometimes home is just a good place to be. So we went back to Liz's place, watched the rest of the Sox game (they won, thankfully), ate some sandwiches and then I went back home. Things started to just stabilize a bit, thankfully. And now it is onwards and upwards!

Sunday, June 15, 2003

In Which Our Heroine Experiences Friday the 13th.
Thankfully, that day is over. It was quite an experience. I still cannot find my keys. But hey, who needs keys on a cold, wet rainy day when all you want to do is row, but it just never works out that way? But all was not lost. At least I got to pick up my ice cream maker. Which is not precisely what a girl needs on a cold rainy day, when on a whim to feel girly a girl has dressed up in a red thing dress and is feeling a bit cold anyway. But never mind. Got to stay plucky! I went in to Burdicks to pick up their gift certificate donated to the auction and discovered they had upped their donation to actually be a box of chocolates, which from Burdick's is nothing to be sneezled at. And I made my way to the boathouse, through the rain, with my dress, my ice cream maker and the chocolates, but not caring because I was going to row. And since it was wet anyway, I wouldn't mind getting wetter for putting new grips on our sculls.

For those who haven't had the experience, putting replacement grips on scull handles (sweep handles don't have grips, although some of them do have bits of padding) is a relatively simple process of applied physics. First, cut off the old grips, which are no doubt so worn that they'll come off easily anyway. Then, produce the new grips, which will look like extremely sturdy condoms with the vital anatomy missing, although they're so solid in form you're permitted to wonder where the anatomy disappeared off to. Accept a slightly obscene mindset anyway - things aren't going to get any better. This is because the best posture to now adopt is to straddle the scull as though you're riding a broomstick - blade behind you, end of handle in front of you, collar anywhere comfortable. Then you use your thumbs to stretch out the bottom of the grip to put them on the scull handle. They won't go on far, but that's ok. Because then you take a running water hose and stick it over the far end of the grip, which has a wee hole in it. The grip will naturally fill up with water, which will cause it to expand a little bit. Then, keeping it full of water (I find it helps to put your finger over the end instead of the hose once it is full), you push it down and on to the grip fully. This happens rather easily, but the handle will shoot the water that cannot compress any more out the bottom of the grip, rather like a squid. And of course, this water will sploosh all over your nether regions, leaving you looked as though you've been so startled by something you've wet your shorts. Luckily, you'll do this all in a boathouse, so no one will notice if you're covered in damp or wet patches. Everyone else is covered in sweat anyway. But anyway, we did it. And then, ready to go out and row, I discovered that my keys (to boathouses along the river, apartment, T Pass, the lot) were gone. We looked EVERYWHERE. Four hours, a locksmith and $75 later I got into my apartment. Bleh!
Locked out of Cleveland Circle

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

In Which Our Heroine Finally Gets Back to the Blog!
Well, well, well. I don't know what it is that I do all day that prevents me from blogging of late, but there you have it. I have had the urge to log in and update all those who want to know (traffic does increase on this site - I'm now up to about 200 different people a week. Scary! But hello out there, whoever you are!) on what it is that I do.

The big things of late have been Emma's visit, of course, which was loads and loads of fun. But very tiring. I think I am now officially getting old! Parties, drinking, movies, dinner parties, plays, the lot. Some of it she did without me, with me having to work, but we did lots together. The weather didn't cooperate much for her visit though. Nature seemed against her. She went whale watching (she loves to go whale watching) and spent five hours on a boat with an entire elementary school running amuck. She was willing to sit through that for the whales, but in contrast to the other times she's been she saw a total of five white sided dolphins off in the distance, and *one* finback whale. That was it. Too many children, not enough whales. She required consoling, so I took her to see Pericles at the ART. Now, the ART is an excellent theatre, and in fact has just been named one of the best regional theatres in the country. Pericles, after being regaled to the librarys for a while, is having a bit of a resurrection. But this production was just too much. You could see where everyone was very talented, but the director failed to take charge, and there were too many things in too many different directions. They did some excellent interactions with a video screen, but it needed to be severely cut down to keep it effective. And the costumes representing the different countries were well done, but needed to be toned down a bit - when the ankle bells are interfering with the dialogue, there's a problem. It really seemed such a waste, as there was so much there, it just needed a bit of a controlling hand to guide it all. In all, a waste of talent. We left at intermission, as we couldn't take it any more!

Over the weekend, James arrived. James had actually arrived on Wednesday, but had been cram packed with his conference. And of course the fact that his book has now been published - Daoism - A Short Introduction (not to be confused with the "Very Short Introduction" series.) He bought me a copy (advance birthday present, signed and inscribed to the fact that we spent this week last year on a Daoist holy mountain in a monastery. Oh, and my epic fall into a tub of eels. Can't forget that, try though I might.) and I am indeed reading it, having had my interest in Daoism piqued by that trip to that mountain. I learned a lot. I had to! My travelling companions were James, Professor of East Asian Studies, one of his masters degree students, someone doing a PhD at the University of Sichuan, and indeed the professor of Daoism at the U. of Sichuan. They were great. It was like a mini crash course. James' book helps flesh it all out for me. His writing style prompts you to think, and his examples are very clear. I highly recommend it!

Actually, the whole birthday thing seems to be kicking into a higher gear than I ever expected. Really, I'm not up for huge fuss on my birthday. I need to do something, but it never needs to be too profound. But this year, having sort of skipped my birthday last year by being in China and just mostly trying to decide whether or not I just wanted to jump on the next plane home (I was so distraught that my boyfriend at the time said "I'm not even sure you're in a state to decide what the right thing is to do right now."I think I just want to celebrate being home, and being with my friends. I really do have great friends, and consider myself one of the luckiest people in the world to live the life I have right now, whether money's tight or not. The money will come, or it will not come, but I will make do and the people around me are just fab.

I say this even in the light that currently when I get together with my female friends, the resounding chorus is that "Boys are so dumb!" There seems to be something in the air at the moment - there are frustrations all over the place in communication between the sexes. I think it is something to do with the weather - since spring never really arrived, young man's fancies started to turn to thoughts of romance, but were frustrated along the way and got lost. It is going around a lot at the moment! The other popular frustration seems to be accorded to the T, our local transportation train service. Sarah and I were walking last night and talking about this. The problem with the T and dating is that it isn't the same has having the young man walk you to your door, so that there's a definitive sort of moment that says "this is the end of the date. If you're going to kiss, kiss now." I've recently had this problem myself. Having hoped/decided to kiss someone, we were walking to the train when suddenly (since we were getting on different trains) I was halfway down the stairs and he was at the top going "oh, you're getting on here." If there was a moment, it was then gone. This also happens when you're both getting home on the train. What are you supposed to do as you hop off at your stop? Make your first move there in the middle of the train with everyone watching? And besides, the florescent lights don't make you look good either. As much as I fully support public transport, there needs to be an ettiquette guide to this sort of situation. Miss Manners, where are you when we need you???????????/

But at any rate, yes, there is a lot of frustration around at the moment. I can't help but wonder if the boys in question (and there are currently many, judging by the number of girls venting of late) are just as confused as we are, and sitting around amongst themselves going "Girls are so DUMB!" It would be such a shame to have all this frustration continue in frustration. I feel helpless to reconcile this, however. It is a conflict as hold as the human race, but nevertheless it all works itself somehow. Just not on the T!

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

In Which Our Heroine Teams Up
Miles rowed today: 7. Miles rowed this month: 7. Yesterday, using the incredibly foul weather as an excuse, we opted for the 6k erg test again. And the official verdict is that I am still not working hard enough. It is very frustrating. My body is whipping into shape, but my mind seems to be letting me down badly. I did ask for advice today from some coaches I know, and the consensus seems to be that it does take time after being unfit to get back and pull the scores you want to pull. I suppose this is fair comment, but in classic rowing fashion, I want to work harder and more effectively NOW. The answer of course is to keep plugging away at it. I have to say, we are rowing better every day. John (bless John, bless him!) has sorted out the rigging, and we've been getting more and more and more distance with strokes, and I'm already feeling fitter and we're actually getting it together on technique and stuff. Although Ethan did comment that I need to keep my head up. Good comment. Gotta keep working, gotta keep working.

Emma has arrived, thus increasing the number of women over six feet tall in this flat to two. Most excellent. She also brought a lot of fun presents, including a 10 year old bottle of Ardbeg. It turns out that I like Ardbeg - I hadn't had it before. She has also brought me bubbles. Lots of bubbles. And bath bombs. And massage bars. Lush, lush, lush. we love Lush! It is so good to have her here. Mucho catch up time. Checking in for a good visit - we've not hung out seriously since we took off for Patagonia and the Falklands. Hmmmmm, maybe that's why - she knows too much. Lordy that was a fun trip. Penguins, mountains, and patagonian crab stew.

I confess to being baffled by the technology of where I do my internship. My understanding from a geneticist friend is that it has revolutionised its field, and I know it uses "photo arrays" (lights? lasers?) to do whatever it is that it does. But I've seen the new posters advertising it, and frankly it looks like a toaster. I want to drop a hunk of sliced scally bread in it. This is obviously how technically unsavvy I am.
Anne the confused but happy

Sunday, June 01, 2003

In Which Our Heroine Comments on the Current State of Affairs
You can't help but notice these days at the fact that Hollywood has just all but thrown in the towel on creativity, etc. All the sequels and remakes. It is quite unbelievable. The new remake of the Italian Job, 2 Fast 2 Furious, Matrix 2 (with Matrix 3 in six months), on and on. Sometimes of couse, a sequel can add on well to the original, particularly when part of a grand plan. For example, take The Empire Strikes Back. But often (and more often these days it seems) this is just not the case. Case in point, Star Wars Episode 1 and even worse was Episode 2. Of course the chase is after the Almighty Dollar (or Euro or Yen in the event of foreign releases) but you'd think Hollywood would start taking its lessons from the lower budget more creative films that have a longer run and turn into more of a phenomonon. My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Bend it like Beckham, all that sort of thing. But no. Hollywood is a slow learning curve. But you have to wonder. With the slow demise of all the prefab pop bands, the big commentary from American Idol was the fact that none of the final three finalists looked the part you would have suspected, but America voted with their feet, um, phones and the style mavens went out early. Unfortunately, all this seems to have sparked is sequals to American Idol, and clones of sequels. You've got to wonder. This is how ABC drove the value from its Who Wants to Be a Millionaire franchise -put it on seven days a week and nothing else. Now it is nothing but reality telly, and the value if there was any is being driven out fast. Oh well. I don't think there is much I can do about it exept not watch and not attend, which I'm doing anyway, so my job here is done.

The rain will never ever ever end. We will all be washed away into the sea.