You take the good, you take the bad.

The Bad™:

A) My Oscar isn’t doing so well. We’ve had a few vet visits lately and it would seem that his DM has officially progressed. He’s been struggling with incontinence over the last couple of months, and this last couple of weeks he’s in a constant state of discomfort. Additionally, he’s no longer using his front legs for much of anything. He refuses to walk in his cart. When you put him in it his front legs just flop out in front of him, though, if you pull him gently he’ll walk with you. But not for long. So he’s losing the use of his front legs now. And finally, his arthritis is affecting him more noticeably too. I’ve had him catheterized a few times to relieve the pressure on his bladder, but the vet thinks that his bladder is overstretched and his loss of mobility is making is impossible for him to tone it up enough to keep it emptied. We’ve got him on his usual pain medication plus a new anti-inflammatory, for the arthritis. But he is uncomfortable all the time.

I know because he whines. All day. All night. Just whines quietly, under his breath. And sometimes, he’ll even yelp a bit or whine loudly. It’s not just because he’s hurting. In fact, the anti-inflammatory really seems to be helping his arthritis pain. He is obviously distressed because he doesn’t want to potty in the house, though we’ve had diapers on him for two months now. A dog doesn’t understand the concept of diapers. He just knows he’s not supposed to potty inside, so he gets completely stressed out about it. But he is on a constant dribble. With his disabilities, we can’t leave him outside in his cart for long periods of time. He just doesn’t get emptied outside and it’s not an option to let him pee all day in the house, so – yes. He’s in diapers, he doesn’t get it, and it’s stressing him out that he always has to go to the bathroom. Though I can help him express the urine to a point, he is always feeling the urge. Plus, he won’t walk anymore (not even for treats!) and without his front legs working, it’s much harder to give him water therapy. He really just wants to be inside, within three feet of me preferably, ALL THE TIME. He hates going outside; he yips, whines and seal-barks the whole time. He is getting almost no exercise, despite my best efforts. This means he’s gained two pounds on top of everything else. For a small dog with limited mobility, that’s not good.

My Oscar is making me truly worried and sad. 😦

B) We are going to a funeral this weekend. My husband’s grandfather. Seems like there have been so damn many funerals lately. It seems as though I only recently adjusted to the idea that I had a father on Father’s Day, and now, the first Father’s Day after he’s gone, I’ll be at a funeral.  This is not the way I would have chosen to spend that day…

The Good™:

1) The farmer’s markets are full of summer fruit now. Peaches! Cherries! O yes.

2) Training is going very well and I am so excited about my upcoming marathon!

3) My kids are out of school and I absolutely LOVE that. ❤

4) Am writing and rehearsing again.

Taking the good and the bad together and I will just keep swimming. Like you do. ☼

~m

Posted in Daily Buzz | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Sometimes it’s the destination AND the journey.

Dragged my husband all the way down to Seal Beach, early in the morning yesterday, for training. He biked while I went on my 18 miler. Made this decision after last week’s 16.5 mile run, which wasn’t pretty. I had changed my route because I knew I had more miles to run and wanted to try out something different – but that doesn’t change the fact that anytime I run out my front door, the bulk of my run is on city streets. Traffic and traffic lights, and humanity in general, can create multiple obstacles in a long run, which can create a lot of mini stop-starts. This causes you to constantly re-find your pace, etc. Very tough on the legs (and your training averages). I got to the end of the 16.5 miles and my legs were toast. I declared then that this week’s long run would be on a beach trail and that was that. That way I knew that I could JUST RUN, no stops and starts, at a constant pace. Also, it would better approximate my marathon conditions for July 4th at the Foot Traffic Flat.

Guess what? Despite my husband’s doubts – he did not think it would be worth it to drive an hour down and back just to go run – it worked out great. I had an awesome 18 mile run, from Sunset Beach (basically Seal Beach) to Huntington Beach and back again. The entire run I was able to watch surfers and beach volleyball, waves and happy dogs splashing in them. The weather was incredible and I was FULLA JOY! My husband had an awesome time biking the path and then biking PCH. When we got back to the truck, I had ice packs, clean clothes, fluids and nutrition waiting for us. Today, we both feel great.

100% worth it.

Takeaway: Always find ways to make your training miles work for you. Period.

~m

Posted in Bee Fit | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mileage may vary.

Yesterday I had a fifteen mile run on the calendar. It was going to be a bit warm, so I decided to head out early. I woke up at 4 am, had a bowl of oats, nuts and fruit, and a glass of milk, then went back to bed. At six I got up, drank two glasses of water and tended to various things, before heading out at 6:55 for my run.

Memorial Day.

Yesterday was Memorial Day here in the States. I knew I had a couple of hours ahead of me, alone with my thoughts. I’m a child of families which have boasted multiple service members, differing branches, but military service is something I’ve always been taught to respect. Yes, I am a hippy and a child of the seventies, as well. It’s just that I do not find respect for service members and hippie values to be mutually exlusive. You don’t have to personally uphold something’s value (war) to respect the sacrifices of the individuals involved (extraordinary men and women). I respect those who have served and those who are serving their country.

Plus Family.

So, I began my run thinking about my grandfather especially, my mother’s father, as I always do on commemorative days like Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day, etc. I miss him so much, even after all these years… but that’s not what I thought about. I just thought about him. He was such a great guy. A good grandfather. Both he and my grandmother consistently conveyed the message to me that it wasn’t enough to be pretty. You must also be of value.

Both of them were also very concerned that I should be informed, this was so important to them that I now giggle sometimes when I remember the various ways they would try to teach me during my summers with them. For instance, the summer that I was nine, I remember learning cooking, baking, papier mache, gardening, the game of hearts, and how to set a table from my grandmother. She also gifted me with a book of Bible stories because, though we weren’t a religious family, she wanted to make sure that when people referred to the Bible, I would be capable of having an informed discussion on the topic. This is how they spoke to me at nine years old. “You don’t want to be ignorant, ignorant is never a good thing.”

Both of them encouraged any little thing I wanted to try or learn about. And those things I didn’t really care about… they encouraged me to be curious about those things too. That same summer, my ninth, I remember yawning in my grampa’s lap, on his large leather rocker, while he droned on and on about geography. He had a large globe on a brass stand and he’d pulled it over next to his rocker, spinning and pointing at various points, then telling me all he knew about them. That man knew A LOT about the world, let me tell you. At nine, I didn’t appreciate it, but now? I know very few adults who could do that these days. In his generation, it was just part of being a man “in the know”. You kept up. You read the paper every day. My grandparents did.

I’d come down from my room mid-morning each day of the summer, and it was the same scene every single day. Gramma and Grampa in the breakfast room, a very sunny spot with mural wallpaper and crystals in the windows. Two papers spread out all around the table and each of them engrossed in some article. Gramma would hoot and read Grampa snippets or Grampa would arch his eyebrows in consternation and talk for fifteen minutes about the minute historic details of some event happening somewhere in the world.

There was always toast and coffee, and Gramma would often have pound cake for me in the summers. She indulged me (and Grampa, by association – he loved it when I came to visit because his neglected sweet tooth got lots of feeding!), especially when it came to foods. She used to joke that she could never keep enough fruit in the house for me. I was a fruit snatcher. The fruit bowl was teeming with anything I wanted, all the time, it seemed. Sometimes she even froze grapes for me as a special treat. It was the one place in my life where I never had to ask permission to eat the last apricot.

That was just Gramma and Grampa’s house. It was actually a magic place for me, growing up. Mom and I were so damn broke all the time that my few weeks of summertime spent at my grandparents’ house was akin to pure spoiling, as far as I was concerned. That was also the summer Grampa first let me use his scroll saw in his workshop. He taught me dominoes and tangram logic games. He and Gramma both encouraged me to write and sing and play instruments. They took me places they knew I’d otherwise not see.

So I thought about my grandfather, yesterday specifically. But, as you may have guessed by now, I think of my grandparents often anyway. How different, how limited my life may have become, had they not been so much a part of my formative years.

Current Events.

My grandfather was at Korea in the 50s, and I was reflecting on what he might say today, with regard to the current state of affairs there. I can see his worry and anger, I see his face in my mind’s eye, clear as a bell, and the deep furrow of concern (frustration?) between his eyebrows. I have those same expressively arched eyebrows. Highly mobile things which I can cock left or right in disapproval when I need to. Thanks, Grampa. He died young, too early. But his legacy is that he remains with me daily, in all my thoughts and actions, because he’s a part of me.

Mileage.

I had fifteen miles of thoughts to chew on, and the weather was gorgeous, that early in the morning. Naturally, my thoughts turned to other things. Sometimes a song comes around on the playlist and it spurs a new train of thought. What I wound up thinking about in the last few miles was how our mileage varies so drastically, from one person to the next. How some people die so young but live so much in that time, while others live so long but take few chances. Travel seems to be a determining factor, actual mileage seems to increase the “quality-mileage” of our lives. I firmly believe that everyone should travel as much as humanly possible. It is a sure counteracting agent to ignorance.

And so I ran. I thought. I smiled at strangers, as the morning wore on and people began to come out into the world. I thought about my own actual mileage in my relatively short life so far. I’m not yet 40 and I have experienced and seen so much… it’s been an eventful first half. And, like my mother and my grandparents did during my childhood, I find that I share so much of what I’ve learned with my own kids, feeling that same insistent concern for the state of their minds and souls.

Maybe you don’t run. Maybe you walk. Maybe you shop. Maybe you bake. Maybe you knit. Doesn’t matter, really. Never pass up the opportunities to be alone with your thoughts and reflect on your mileage and its quality.

You have an effect and you affect everyone around you. Your mileage has real world value.

Busy IRL.

You know what exact words I’ve heard over and over, since I dropped Facebook like a hot potato? “I miss you online!

How depressing it is to think that that sentence not only exists, but is acceptable and said without a hint of irony. I understand the sentiment behind it, and usually respond warmly that I’m still around and a phone call away, because I know it is said in the spirit of friendship.

In real life, I don’t exist for anyone’s entertainment, I’m just me. So, that sentence also brings home to me what I have already said, Facebook is not really about friendships so much as it is about entertainment.  My friends find me and I find them, without the integratory social construct. We just send a text or an email and set up a meeting. That’s not old fashioned, that’s actual socializing. But, in a busy-o-so-busy world, it also means I have far less contact with my friends than I did while I was still on Facebook. 

This was something else I thought about yesterday: In our current social map, there is a premium set on Being Busy™. But, in all that Being Busy™, it sure seems as though no one gets anywhere. There is actually negative mileage occurring. How sad.

It All Adds Up.

I want to be active, with a full and varied lifestyle, rife with occurrences and plans… but I no longer have the desire to be constantly busy. It doesn’t serve my family or my friends. It doesn’t serve me and it doesn’t serve my community. Busy is activity for the sake of activity… I’d rather be of value.

I want to make my mileage count. Hard work, hard times, sure. But also fully felt and fully experienced. That’s what makes the good stuff really count. Good stuff becomes a treat, like frozen grapes, sweet and cool.

~m

Posted in Daily Buzz | 2 Comments

The Jist of Joyful Running

Image

I say “the jist” because this is my personal take on what is called “joyful running”. I have learned that I am not the only person to coin this phrase, and since I’m not the first, I won’t take credit for it. However, it is a concept near and dear to my heart and I am a BIG FAN of running joyfully. Please read anything on my blog pertaining to “joyful running” and understand that I mean this phrase as it pertains to my ideas and experiences, and not in reference to actual joyful running programs. I’m thrilled that they exist, however! A zeitgeist of joy is on the rise, my friends. And so, these are what I would call the rules according to me if I didn’t want you to be joyful. But I do! I want you to practice joyful running with me! And to be joyful, I don’t think we can follow rules, per se. Let’s just have some guidelines, shall we? The jist, if you will.

Here are the basic principals of Joyful Running with me, which I follow, my-own-self.

1) Always run outside. Always. Treadmills are the opposite of joyful, to my mind. They are the Killers of Joy™, damn them. Save treadmills for test situations, such as pace timing, targeting heart rate, etc. And learn how to gauge those things outside of a gym situation, on the road, either with gadgets or intrinsically, so that you can leave treadmills completely behind. Leave the treadmill to the gym rats and gleefully skip out your front door for a few miles instead. Running outside has important benefits, such as varied terrain and sunshine.  These lead to truly happy moments which are unavailable on a treadmill. That said, running outside carries with it inherent risks too, I admit – but with a minimum of preparedness, these are easily dealt with. RUN OUTSIDE. ALWAYS.

2) As an extension of #1, honestly – Run in the rain.

Okay, now, some of you may have read my story of the Monsoon Marathon, and you know that was utterly miserable. I had mild PTSD after that sucker. Took me a year to run in the rain again. (Ish.) That’s not really what I mean when I say run in the rain. If it is monsooning, please stay inside and joyfully do jumping jacks, or read a book, or… whistle along with your pet canary. <— possibly a euphemism.

That’s not what I’m talking about.  What I’m talking about is normal rain. A light to moderate rain certainly won’t kill you. In fact, it’s downright fun to run in the rain. So, drop the excuses. Take the appropriate measures to avoid blisters and dress in layers – and then GO! Be a little extra careful around traffic and spots that look slippery. Puddles? Splash in them! O yes, you shall.

3) Get your howl on. Purchase some reflective clothing (and a headlamp if you’re so inclined) and grab a pal, then go run in the evening. Maybe along the beach, maybe in a well-lit park, or a safe neighborhood. There’s something really fun about running under the moon and stars. Organize with a group of running friends and run each month during the full moon.

4) Free your mind. Not in the Matrix way – that involves pills and machines and a whole lot of evasion training. I mean this: free your mind of nagging worries ahead of time, especially  your safety. Purchase a Road ID or two. I have one on a chain and one for my wrist, for different occasions. My husband and kids have them. Put $20 in your running belt and keep it there always. Don’t touch it unless you absolutely have to. ALWAYS CARRY A PHONE. This way you know, without  having to think about it, that you have (a little) money for an emergency and in the event of a situation which involves your incapacitation, you can be identified and a family member can be contacted immediately. Really. It’s important to have your ass covered and your mind free, unhindered by worry, free to be joyful.

4) Incorporate play into your runs. Skip occasionally. If you run through a playground, take a turn on the swings or a slide, maybe even swing across the monkey bars. When you stop at a corner for a light, lightly hop toe to toe, or jump up and down 5X, or do jumping jacks. Hey, do a little disco or reinvent the cabbage patch, I’m not judging. Not only does this introduce plyometrics and other forms of functional exercise into your run, but it breaks up the monotony and makes you smile. A sure path to joy is play.

5) Naturalize intervals. Along the lines of Fartlek training, really. Use markers along the route you’re on to integrate periods of slowing down, speeding up, etc. As in, “Okay, from this bench to that palm tree two blocks up I will BUST IT OUT.” Or, “Ooh, sweet! A VW bus up ahead. I’m gonna skip like a hippie from that bus to the stoplight three blocks away.” You see? Let your inner child tell you what it wants to do. Intervals are exceptional training, but it doesn’t always need to be so damn serious. Also, people will look at you funny when you skip like a hippie, and that will make you laugh, and lo! You will be joyful.

6) Smile, and if you have the breath, briefly greet each and every elderly person you come across during your run. It is a gift that you can run. For them, it is a gift to be walking out in the sunshine, and your smile and breathless “Beautiful day, isn’t it?!” may make their week. This will fill you with joy. Don’t believe me? Just try it. Also, the next time you’re in a race and an 86 year old gramma passes you, I bet you a nickel she smiles at you when she does it. A smile is free, give it away freely. Spreading joy brings joyfulness. Simple as that.

7) Same goes for kids and dogs. Smile and greet them. Assuming that neither are yapping at your heels. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll find that you are joyfully greeting most everyone you come across on your runs. Even a nod at a fellow runner or a cyclist starts feeling like “the thing to do”. The point is – your body is able and willing, and that’s a gift. Show this in simple acts of joy and your own cup of joyfulness will overflow. Yes, I’m a hippie. In case you didn’t know.

8) Okay, this one is really important. Are you listening? Or did you tune out in that daisy field that was numbers 6 & 7? Snap to, corporal. Pay attention to this one! ALWAYS TRAIN ACCORDING TO YOUR ABILITIES. Yes, you have to stretch out of your comfort zone a bit to improve, each and every week. But! Be smart. Increase mileage gradually. Test out new shoes judiciously. Changing your running form? Great! Do so slowly and patiently. Learn the basics of good form and go at your own pace. Learn how to improve without pushing yourself into injury. Injury is the Thief of Joy™. It is exceedingly frustrating, so be smart and use your brain to maximize your time on the road.

9) Chew your proverbial cud. Maybe you set out on your run with a specific idea in your head that you want to really sort out. Maybe you just have a lot on your mind and you want to cogitate through the miles. Allow your body to do the work and give your mind the freedom to just wander. Whether it’s to distract yourself from your problems, or to sort through them, set your intention ahead of time, so that your run can remain focused. Of course, make sure you remain aware of your surroundings, but otherwise, think your way through the knotty stuff while your feet fall. When you get to the end of your run, you’ll feel remarkably lighter. Perhaps – dare I say it? – perhaps this will lead to more joy overall.

10) Run without headphones once in a while. I’m a lover of tuneage, I admit. Love my music while I run. But! Once in a while, ditch the technology. Let the sounds of your environment accompany your run instead. I can’t tell you how many times this has paid off for me. Just by dint of free association, I’ve had many a joyful chain of thoughts come from an overheard snippet of conversation or a bird being wonderful. That said, I find great joy in my music as well. With the caution that you should never have your music so loud that you can’t hear cars or surroundings, run with music all you want.

And there you have it. The jist of my own personal joyful running practices.

See you out there! ☼

~m

CAVEAT: I am not a professional trainer, coach or athlete. I’m just a regular gal who trains for triathlon and other events. Please use common sense and don’t get hurt. I’m not a doctor, I can’t tell you if you’re fit enough to do specific movements. But I definitely don’t want anyone to get hurt, so be your own best coach and only do the above workout if you feel like changing up your run a bit and you are physically fit enough to do so. This is simply me sharing my feeling that exercise, even hard exercise, should be joyful. ❤ ☼

Posted in Bee Fit | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Murphy.

Just got home from a bike ride. Usually, cycling is just *so fun*. But, that was not today. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong, short of me taking a fall. (Thank goodness!) It was a very frustrating ride, and cut short due to technical difficulties. By the time I got home, I was filled with fury. And this came to mind:

“When Life knocks you down, calmly get up, smile, dust yourself off, and very politely say ‘YOU HIT LIKE A BITCH.'”

So, covered in bike grease, dirt, sweat, and filled with fury, I climbed onto my spin bike at home and pedaled until I couldn’t anymore.

Feeling much better now. Murphy can suck it.

~m

Posted in Bee Fit | Leave a comment

Skipping home, the last block, is optional. ☼

This was my run today. I live in a very hilly area, and have no problem finding hills. If you aren’t so lucky, find a neighborhood, preferably one with some pretty houses you can look at, and go for it. My town already thinks I’m nuts, so I don’t really care if they see me skipping. You may be glad you had to drive out of town. 😉

Notes: When doing plyometrics, or any jumping, please remember to be smart. Especially out in the world, rather than in a gym. Watch for cars. Make sure your area is clear of debris – even a small pebble can turn an ankle painfully. Bounce down into the depth jump, and spring back up on the balls of your feet. (Minimize ground contact.) Plyometrics are dynamic strength builders, but remember that you are still trying to get your run in too. If you notice any twinges or your back becomes tired, finish your run normally and skip ( <– ha!) the rest of the plyo insertions. As an added bonus, if you are feelin’ feisty, today I would jump straight up and down five times, on the balls of my feet, before switching up my intervals. Wheee!! And I skipped home the last block. It was 84 degrees today… I was very sticky after this. Good stuff.

Most important: HAVE FUN. Get sunshine. Be free.

~m

Skipping home, the last block, is optional. ☼

(Joyful Running I by Myrabee)

CAVEAT: I am not a professional trainer, coach or athlete. I’m just a regular gal who trains for triathlon and other events. Please use common sense and don’t get hurt. I’m not a doctor, I can’t tell you if you’re fit enough to do specific movements. But I definitely don’t want anyone to get hurt, so be your own best coach and only do the above workout if you feel like changing up your run a bit and you are physically fit enough to do so. This is simply me sharing my feeling that exercise, even hard exercise, should be joyful. ❤ ☼

Image | Posted on by | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Boozey Cake Recipes

For those who are interested, here are some drinky cakes you can make for the holidays (or Tuesdays, whatever). They keep beautifully by virtue of being soaked in miraculous preserving alcohol. They also freeze well & ship well. …And generally make people like you and want to give you free stuff. <—- I made up this last bit, but it *could* be true!

I decided to make rum cakes this year because it reminded me of my gramma at the holidays. And summers at gramma & grampa’s house. Particularly the summer when I mistakenly decided I would never like coffee again after vomiting a whole box of Nips I’d been surreptitiously consuming behind gramma’s back. I blamed the coffee candies, and coffee in general, for years. Until my adult self realized that my 13 year old self had also eaten half a rum cake that day and that my resentment may have been misplaced. Luckily, I now love coffee AND rum cake. Though I do not like rum. And Nips shall ne’er pass my lips again, sadly. /backstory

A standard 10″ bundt pan is a good investment if you bake regularly, but if you don’t have one, no fear. Just pay attention to your cooking times, using different pans. PREHEAT your oven to 325 degrees.

Here is the classic rum cake we all remember our grammas and our moms making. I invite men, women, children and beasts with opposable thumbs to don their aprons and get baking!  EASY peasy “cheater” cake, no foolin’!

Golden Rum Cake

1 c. chopped walnuts

1 pkg. yellow cake mix

1 pkg. vanillla instant pudding

4 eggs

1/2 c. water

1/2 c. vegetable oil

1/2 c. dark rum

Grease & flour your bundt pan, sprinkle the chopped nuts in and set aside. Beat all the remaining  ingredients in a largish bowl with a hand mixer until the pudding is partially activated and it’s nice and thick, then pour into the pan, over the nuts. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes.

Glaze:

1/2 c. butter

1/4 cup water

Heat over medium until melted and liquid, then:

1 c. white sugar, simmer up for a few minutes, stirring constantly, remove from heat, add:

1/2 c. dark rum – stir in, reheat for about 30 seconds, and it’s glaze.

Make the glaze in the last ten-ish minutes of cake baking. When cake comes out, turn immediately out onto large plate, and poke a bunch of holes in it (all over) with a skewer, then slowly *pour/dribble the glaze over and around it until all the glaze is absorbed*. *If you are mildly obsessive, as I am, this will be entirely too inefficient as a glaze delivery method. Please stand by for my method, below.

Okay, here’s what I do that is different:  

**Please Note: I developed a scratch recipe for the cake, and for those who want it, I’ll send it to you in a PM, just let me know. To keep things simple, we’ll stick with the box mix for this post.

Assume the same settings for the required pan, oven temp, etc. Then:

Butterscotch Pecan Rum Cake

1/2 – 1 c. finely chopped pecans

1 box organic white cake mix (this is very easy for me to find – if it’s not easy for you to find, stick with Betty, or a scratch sponge recipe)

1 pkg. butterscotch instant pudding

4 eggs

1/2 c. buttermilk

1/4 c. pureed pumpkin (canned is fine!)

1/4 c. grapeseed or olive oil

1/2 c. dark rum (+ 1/4 c. extra, put aside)

Glaze recipe is the same, no changes.

HOWEVER: I do not pour it. That really doesn’t work if you are mildly obsessive, as I mentioned. Brush the cake generously with the glaze after poking it with hella-holes. Also, when I first remove the cake from the oven I pour that extra 1/4 c. of rum over it while it’s still in the pan and hot, and I let it sit for 10 minutes. THEN I turn it out onto the plate, poke the ever-lovin’ heck out of it, and brush the glaze on it obsessively, returning every hour or so to re-glaze, until the glaze is gone. This way, I can go about my day and just take three minutes to re-glaze it every hour or so and there’s a hell of a lot more glaze effectively soaked into the cake.

One other thing I do is keep a piece of non-stick foil handy to place over the cake in the last ten minutes of bake time, if I feel it is browning too aggressively.

Lemon Drop Variation

Zest of one lemon

1 box organic white cake mix

1 pkg. lemon instant pudding

4 eggs

1/2 c. buttermilk

1/2 c. grapeseed or olive oil

1/2 c. Grand Marnier (or Cointreau) + 1/4 c. extra, set aside

Make up the cake with all ingredients, keeping aside one heaping teaspoon of the lemon zest, for the glaze.

When the cake comes out of the oven, drizzle the extra Grand Marnier over the hot cake while still in the pan. Turn it out onto a plate after ten minutes. The glaze is the same as above, substituting vodka for rum and using that remaining teaspoon of lemon zest.

Okay. So – THEN – I have a soft gingerbread recipe that I have bastardized in so many ways over the years that it probably doesn’t know who its mommy is anymore. I saw no reason to avoid continuing this tradition. So, here is:

Ginger Whiskey Cake

1/2 – 1 c. finely chopped walnuts

1/4 c. brown sugar

^Sprinkle the nuts and brown sugar in the bottom of your greased bundt pan.

Dissolve 2 tsp. of baking soda in 1 c. boiled water, add 1 c. molasses (unsulfured) and set aside to cool. Then,

Cream together:

1 c. butter

1 c. sugar

Stir in:

1 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. ginger

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 pkg. butterscotch instant pudding

3 eggs

1/4 c. pureed pumpkin

1/4 c. whiskey (+ 1/4 c. extra, put aside)

2 3/4 all purp. flour, or up to 3 c. cake flour.

Add in bkg. soda/water/molasses mixture and beat until smooth and creamy and the pudding mix is mildly activated.

Pour over nuts/sugar into bundt pan. Bake 45 minutes. When the cake comes out, drizzle extra whiskey over it while still hot and in pan. Ten minutes later turn it out, nuts up, and blah blah blah, you know the drill.

Glaze is the same, subbing whiskey for rum.

These cakes are tasty as soon as they’re cool, but truly, you will want to make them a day or more in advance (they keep well!) to let the alcohol bite dissipate a bit.

[Photos of cakes to follow soon!]

HAPPY HOLIDAYS, *hic*

~m

Posted in Daily Buzz, Honey From The Hive | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hi there.

My name is Oscar.

I come from eastern Kansas. As you can see, I am quite handsome and important.

My story is a little bit … disjointed. I had at least one other owner before I landed in the caring hands of Corgi Connection of Kansas and my wonderful foster mom & dad in Lawrence. I used to guard chickens. I was a very impressive chicken keeper, I can tell you. But, I started dragging a hind paw and my owners thought I was suffering. In came CC of K and my foster parents. They took me in and got me poked by all sorts of folks in white lab coats. They even took pictures of my behind in this big machine called an MRI. Embarrassing.

After a while, I was no longer able to use my back legs. The folks in white lab coats diagnosed me with something called Degenerative Myelopathy (DM). I also have a little arthritis in my spine. You know – it happens.

I don’t feel the least bit sorry for myself. Know why? Because everyone loves me. I’m friggin’ adorable. Duh.

Plus, you may have noticed, I have a spiffy set of wheels that I cruise around on. It’s how I roll. Thanks to CC of K, my foster folks, and Corgi Aid, Inc. – I got that loaner set of wheels and I never looked back! Not only that. I also had a good buddy in residence at my foster folks’ house, little miss Pie. I mean, sure, she was a young whippersnapper, but she sure did keep me on my toes!

My foster folks had me for eight months and saw me through some of the hardest changes in my eight-almost-nine years of life. I will never forget them or my good friend, Pie. In fact, since they are super friends with my new mom, I will get to see them on visits! Which brings me to the next part of my story: my adoption! My foster mom worked with the neat lady at The Daily Corgi and they told my story to the whole wide world. There were a few nibbles, but my forever home took a while to happen.

A few weeks ago, this really nice lady came to visit my foster folks in Kansas. She’s from California. She’s kind of weird. But, boy, I tell ya – I could tell I had her from the minute she walked in the door. I worked my charms like the true professional charmer I am. Sure enough, she decided to find out if she could take me home with her. (I slept by her side and snuggled my nose up against her, just to make sure she was really hooked. Romance ’em, that’s my motto.)

Next thing I knew, I was being loaded into her truck and we set off on a big adventure! She drove and I rode. For more than 2200 miles. Let me tell ya, I didn’t let her out of my sight. She made sure to give me frozen green beans and she even got some sweet potatoes and squash from the baby food aisle so I could have it with my kibble and feel secure, while we traveled. I was really glad that Pie let me take my stuffed chicken with me, I kept it close by as I watched the country fly by.

When we got to Arizona, I got to meet my new gramma. She easily succumbed to my masterful use of charm. What can I say? It’s a gift. I also met my grampa and their dog and cat. But, best of all, I met my kids! Turns out – my gramma and grampa were watching the kids while mom traveled. So the final day of travel, from Arizona to California, I got to snuggle with my new kids! I didn’t know if it was possible to be a happier dog, I gotta say. THEN, once we got to sunny So Cal, I found out I also had a new dad! Turns out, I could be a happier dog!!

Ooh ooh! And a giant fat kitty to play with. And a big goofy old dog too! It just keeps getting better in California!

The kitty follows us on our walks. I think he thinks he’s a dog too. He’s the same size as me, so I don’t think I’ll tell him otherwise. The big dog and me, we’re still getting used to each other, but he’s kinda dumb and sweet, so I feel confident I’ll win him over. He seems especially happy that I’m around because mom gives him more treats now.  Mom’s a little overprotective of me. She says, “Big Daddy is a big ol’ boy and we don’t want him accidentally smashing Oscar!” So, we’re letting the relationship blossom slowly. It’s okay. I’m very charming, in case you didn’t know.

So, that’s my story! I’ve got a forever home with a happy family in beautiful Southern California. My mom takes me on three or four walks a day, we go to the farmer’s market, and this town loves dogs! There are lots of outdoor patios at the restaurants here. I really like the coffee shop and the park. There are always kids at the park – kids always get mom to give me extra treats. It’s a win-win situation.

Mom is looking into various organizations she and I can work with so I can become a therapy dog. I think that means I’ll get more treats, so I’m pretty excited about that too. Mom already started trying out recipes for non-fat homemade dog treats and she lets me have lots of veggies and some fruits. My favorite day was when she took me to the pet store and got me this:

That’s when I knew: I’m HOME.

I’m settling in now. I love to put my head right under dad’s recliner, so he has to crab walk out of his chair to avoid smooshing me. It makes me doggy-laugh every time. Mom got me a new raccoon toy that crinkles and squeaks. I like to keep it under a paw when I sleep. The chicken stays under my head, like it should. (That’s where chickens go.) I also love to hang out with my kids in their rooms. They take me for walks too. I’m getting loads of exercise!

And that’s the very last piece of my story! Thanks again to Corgi Aid and their cooperative effort with Llyr‘s mom, I got myself a new set of wheels!! They are made to order, just for me! Mom says I can really run in them! I really like my new wheels – they make me smile.

Now my loaner wheels can go back to Corgi Aid and another corgi can benefit from them. I can’t tell you how grateful I am for wheels. I know it’s the kind of gift that all corgis deserve. I may have chewed on the stirrups a little… but my loaner cart works great and it’s ready for a new home!

Well, there you have it. Mom and I really enjoy talking to people when we’re out and about, but neither of us understands when people feel sorry for me. I’m doing great! I’m not in pain and my soul is happy. Plus… I may be a little bit spoiled…

Nahhhh!!! Life is just how it’s supposed to be. Adieu, for now, my friends. And good night.

~O

Posted in Daily Buzz | Tagged , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

2012 – Not the end of the world.

I am not going to write a list of resolutions.

I know what my personal goals are and I trust myself to make them happen. I am going to make a New Year’s HOPE List:

1) I HOPE I have the patience and the fortitude to accept and cope with things that are out of my control.

2) I HOPE that I will have the strength to tackle the challenges before me and the will to see them through.

3) I HOPE I can shine light on my corner of the world and that I will continue to find ways to be Better, every day.

HOPE. It’s powerful thing and it’s a promise you can never break to yourself. ☼

Posted in Daily Buzz | 2 Comments

Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself to others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let not this blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore, be at peace with God, whatever you conceive him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all it’s sham, drudgery and broken dreams; it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

by Max Ehrmann, 1927

I found this poem on a plaque in a thrift store when I was sixteen. I have returned to it again and again throughout my life, each time finding a different portion of it most meaningful and apropos, depending on the circumstances surrounding me.

~m

Posted in Daily Buzz | Tagged | 2 Comments