I am a girl who loves mountains, changing seasons, running, true backpacking, strong coffee, and knitting with high quality yarn.

When something bad happens, you have three choices: let it define you, let it destroy you, or let it strengthen you.

The purpose of life is to discover and develop your gift. The meaning of life comes from sharing your gift with others. - David Viscott

Sunday, February 25, 2018

February

Another month came in swinging! There is so much packed, it seems, yet not much to show...for the vultures of extra curriculum. February marks full-on work (which included Valentine day, therefore, for those of us in service industry, a very crazy and money-making-busy 2 weeks around it) and full-on training. Larry and I are back at the gym! And we are REALLY back! We missed it, for sure. Both of us had to eat a humble pie and back off the weights a lot - and I mean it. I went down 30% from where I left in July, despite doing some house-bound workouts in August-December and visiting gym once a month on a free pass to pile some more. In a month, I built up and now am only 20% behind (with few exercises less than that) in terms of dumbbells/barbells/etc lifting weight. Between that (3 times a week, mind you!) and a sudden pick up in my running - yeehaa! since last week of January! - I've been tired. My weight is consistently staying at just below 117 lbs, and I am looking forward to that muscle growing stage.

Speaking of running - on Monday (which now has transpired to be my "long run" day of the week) the 19th, despite coming off 11 days of working (with extra hours) and some sleepless nights (for reasons I won't go into), I ran my longest run of 10 miles since September, and broke 10 min/mile average barrier for that (meaning there were definitely good quality miles in there, as I start slow, but alas, I don't have devices to track them). And that happened on the morning Texas winter gave in to that summery warm and humid air of 65F/90%. Yowser! #nevergiveup
That running kept on giving. The following day I put down an 8 miler in the local hills (roads, of course, I don't bother driving to trails I despise here by now, until mid-Spring, when the backpack training starts) averaging a pure 10:00, and a tempo-ish of 5 miles at 9:45. On a rainy Friday morning I made a return to Treadmill intervals - and got 6 x 2 min at 8:40 pace with a mere 30 sec recovery (at 10) - and it felt easy. Wow, I did not see that coming! (p.s. it may not seem so exciting for the majority of my running friends, but in my case, I gave up on anything remotely called "running" for myself over 4 years ago. So, there, let me bask in this little glory before it's gone, again).

The Valentine craze almost put me down. Fortunately (and almost surprisingly) not so much physically, despite upping the hours, but threatening my introverted personality. My regular Thursday day off turned into a working day, that week also saw all my handful of house clients showing up on top of Myo extended schedule, and being surrounded by people without time for myself put me over the edge of handling things. Not to mention there was some semi-crisis going on I had to tend to and manage through 3rd party...sigh. Anyway, that Thursday the 15th I drove to a yarn store, bought a nice replacement for my seriously reduced yarn stash, came home, praying Larry is still not there, brew a cup of coffee, locked a door in my craft room - and cried a bit.

All was good after that. The yarn is delicious! And yes, I am seriously working through the "old random" yarns I collected, some of which I don't even remember the origin! Well, only one of those...but still, I feel bad. The couple of projects this month is my continuing efforts on that stash-redux, and took a lot out of me trying to find correct color combination for it to work. The cowls were more or less easy in decision pulling funky different quality yarn left-overs.

The pullover though... it took 3 tries of fully re-making all parts (back, front and sleeves) to figure out the correct pattern to have enough yarn, and I kept adding an extra sky-blue color (in 2 varieties, which made for 2 full unwinds), until I realized the 3rd color here is just not fitting, so I resigned to buying an extra skein in grey (the whole purpose of redux means using up what I have already). But it was a great visit to a store 30 min away in a small town! I've only been once to, and I forgot how great their selection is. Good thing they'll be moving a little closer to Austin this summer! It was incredibly difficult to walk away with only one thing I needed. The original yarn came from 2 different stores: Longmont, CO in 2015 and Park City, UT in 2016. I finally felt not only satisfied, but proud.
Of course, there were a couple more pairs of socks for gifts from a small local mill in Mora, NM (almost done with that stash, one more pair to knit left). Plus 5 more hats on a way for the Veteran's running camp donation of 30 total (17 more to go - Holy molly!). And an "update" of a couple summer tank tops - re-made the neck and armhole lines for a more proper look for a woman of a particular not-spring-chicken age

I did finish a gorgeous dress (if I may say so) at the beginning of the month, and "took it out" for a dinner night! Yarn is Merino wool from my latest Portland trip past December, shopping spree with Monika in a newly discovered store.
My friend Eman flew in to Austin for a work conference, and we squeezed in lunch (and a massage!). There was the same combination with Marta. All that requires planning, as we are all busy adults. But oh, so worth it.
As far as fun stuff, the biggest thing was on February 1st - I had an impulse to look at my Colorado Trail map, and just like that, planned days out (tentatively, of course), booked tickets, arranged pick-up with a friend Kristen in Denver and a car for my way back from Durango...Larry, the Mister Map guy, studied the courses - and mapped out potential converging with Hardrockers on their day 2 as CT goes along the race's course. Wouldn't that be nice - to see and cheer on friends in one of my favorite race, and may be even pick some aid station food. :) All this, of course, is only if the schedule works out, but a dream nevertheless.

For the food part of this month, that very Valentine week was also "maslennica" week in Russian Orthodox calendar. Which, in a nutshell, is a "gorge yourself before Lent and eat lots of buttery stuff" week. I made crepes one morning, syrniki - another, and pel'meni for dinner - all consumed with sour cream from the Russian store. Larry's favorite time of the year:)

I've been asked if I am giving up anything for Lent this year. This time around Lent came almost without warning, I was so consumed with daily living. And I wasn't prepared. But as I thought about it, I realized I had already given up a lot of material sort of items/tasks in a normal existence and exercised my will power enough to know I got it. So the thing I decided to go with is sort of a personal and internal commitment I don't care to share publicly. But I am absolutely certain it will improve quality of our life. Lets see how this goes.

On the 22nd it turned 2 years since my father lost his battle to cancer at the age of 79. He fought hard to the end, just as he did all his life. The words following are the ones I said when he died, repeated at the first year's anniversary, and say again, as they are the truest words about my Father. He might have not been the best dad, but he was the best at what he did, in his field - a bomber pilot and an air-force commanding officer. He was a father to more people than his own two daughters, his subordinates loved him - and feared him, with that very great love. His calling was to serve his country, and he did it at all costs, all-consuming. He taught us by example, not by words: overcoming life's obstacles with toughness and a smile, not complaining, having a huge work ethic and discipline, honesty, bullheadedness in reaching the goals, rule following, military precision and punctuality, zest for life and love for friends. He carried those traits to the very last moments - and being a "white bone officer". Most of all, he loved the sky, the high blue sky. It was his true passion like nothing else. May the Earth soil be soft as Feathers for him. May his soul soar high where it belongs...
Life settles in, but I can still hear his sarcastic remarks. They used to hurt (although I often laughed with him). But in a way, I am a lot like him. It could feel difficult to be around me, but I wouldn't change it for the world, and I thank him for that.

Somewhere at the end of the month we met with our CPA and fed Uncle Sam - he is always hungry, this man. But I digress. Just part of living here.

To offset this event, Larry and I went straight to Waco, home of Joanna and Chip Gaines, main characters from our favorite HDTV show "Fixer-Upper". We happen to enjoy their antique and seemed-to-be real family interactions, and despite a dreary weather, visited their Silos, Bakery and The Magnolia Store. The baking goods were great, store - not so much (or, rather, not what I would have wanted and expected to see). I hoped the store is filled with a locally produced handcrafts they promote in the show, but it was rather a weak collection of China-made stuff with Magnolia stamp on it). Anyway, another "get to see and do while still in TX" item off the list checked. A local coffee shop smoothed the experience:)




When life gets in a way, yoga is the first to go - and I missed one week's practice. Reading, too, was a bust, but for a different reason. After a couple of great books in January, I tried to read a few of paperbacks I brought from Russia...made it through one and half, then flipped pages of two more. Post-Soviet life is just not relate-able to me and hard to read, apparently. I shall stop bringing those from my home visits.

On an unrelated note, lately, every time I have that actual Thursday off and then drive to work on Friday, it feels surreal and I am bewildered anew each time: what am I doing and where am I going? Don't take me wrong, I still like what I do and enjoy my workplace and helping people live a better quality life (and I surely love it by far more than my last 5 years in academic science, working at UT, under a worst asshole professor - 3 years as I left that 20 years science career!)...but, suddenly, with 5-0 approaching, I wonder...May be it's a sign of outgrowing (all those degrees, and?). Larry claims it's a way of emotionally detaching as the move and potential changes in that area of my life, along with all others, are coming closer...

So this pretty much how February went - which is the end of our normal hibernation period. March is going to be a full-on awaking and a blast, in many kinds of ways. 

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