August 20, 2010

Having a Ball: The Early Girls

Yesterday we canned a batch of Tomatoes!
Why is it called “canning” if glass jars are used?

6+ Ball glass jars with matching lids and caps;
Large Canning Pot with internal jar holder;
Two 4-6 QT pots;
Tongs & rubber gloves;
Clean, dry dish towel.
25-30 ripe tomatoes; and
10-20 large fresh basil leaves.

1. Sterilize Ball Jars, Caps & Lids:
Use pot specific for canning. Place open jars into holder and fill with cool water, Surround the containers with water, cover an inch. Bring water to a boil. Start timer when water is rolling. Boil for 30 minutes. Use a separate pot of water for lids and caps. Boil for 30 minutes, same as bottles.

2. Prepare the Fruit & Herbs:
Meanwhile, use a third pot to boil more water. When boiling, dunk three tomatoes at a time for about 20 seconds or until their skin bursts. Remove with tongs peel away skin and cut away parts you don’t want to eat later, such as tough middle section or stem parts. Place cleaned tomatoes in a bowl until ready to can. Prepare all tomatoes in this fashion. Cut and clean any herbs, such as Basil.

3. Preparing Jars for Fruit:
Depending on size, about three to five tomatoes will fit into a large Ball jar. After jars have boiled for 30 minutes, use rubber gloves and tongs to remove a jar (one-at-a-time) from water (try not to touch jar; it’s hot)! Pour out boiling water from inside of jar. Try to keep rim of jar as clean as possible as you gently drop tomatoes into the container. Alternate tomato with basil as you fill. Do not overfill. Use a knife to cut up the tomatoes a bit so you can pack them in. Do not cover yet. Set jar aside. Repeat until all fruit's been used.

4. Sealing The Jars:

When all jars have been filled, DRY OFF their RIMS with a clean cloth so the cap gets a great seal. Remove the lids and caps from hot (no longer boiling) water with tongs. Place cap onto clean dry jar rim and then add a lid and twist. As Dave puts it, " don’t “REEF” on them" but tighten medium firmly.

5. Back to the Water to Sterilize Again:
Remove about half of the water from the large canning pot. Place the bottles (with lids/caps on) back into their holder and into the hot —BUT NOT BOILING— water (that would break the jars, which have cooled somewhat). When all bottles have been placed, add more warm-hot water to the pot. Cover the Ball jars by about an inch. Bring the entire pot back up to a boil. When the water begins to roll & boil, start the timer FOR 30 MINUTES.

6. Finishing Up—Removing & Cooling:
After 30 minutes of continuous boiling, remove each jar from the water. Tighten the lids down (now you may "REEF"). Dry jars with a cloth & set aside. Repeat. 
As the jars’ contents cool the lid will vacuum seal down and the lids will drop to a concave state. If a lid did not drop concavely, then the canning process was NOT a success and you should use that jar’s contents in the next day or two. 

If the concave seal was successful place them in your canning cupboard— for up to six months—or until ready for use.
For  health benefits of Tomatoes click here.

August 19, 2010

Three Dog Morning: Joy To The World

After a long road ride the other morning, I wanted to see if I had any juice left in my gambe (Italian for "legs"). I explored my Russell Station Road “extended loop,” which cuts over hilly dirt roads before connecting to 2nd NH Highway and back onto the R.S. Road.

There are few houses along these dirt roads but there stands one, which is decorated by hyper-protective dogs. On the way out, I was relieved the barkers weren’t in their yard. I relaxed into my run, a Galloway-style 5:1 (run:walk), felt awesome throughout, and glided up inclines. I was in the zone. Then came the three dogs

"... Just an old-fashioned love song
Comin' down in 3-part harmony

Barking at first. Shitake! Then charging. Crap! I was surrounded. One nipped my skirt while the other “snouted” my privates as a third circled, sniffed & barked. It occurred so quickly, I failed to notice if their tails were up or down. 

Simple Tail Translation:
Up = happy dog;
Down = not so happy dog.

Thankfully, I read the September 2010 dog issue of Runner’s World (pg., 89) and employed all tactics. My four-legged run-in was without ill incident.

What to Remember:
  • Voice: Use a deep firm voice that conveys a sense of calm.... NO squealing in fear or excitement.
  • Eyes: Watch dog out of the corner of your eye. NO direct eye-contact, as it seems aggressive.
  • Position: Stand tall, face dog slowly, while calmly backing away. Do NOT turn & run, which makes you seem like prey or set the course for a chase.
  • Body Language: Stay relaxed & upright. Assume a position of authority. Do NOT shrivel or become combative.

If all else fails and you have a water bottle squirt some water in their face or pick up a stick and keep the dog out of your body territory. Just in case, I ordered some pepper spray ($10-15). (State laws might apply.) I love animals and do not want to hurt them. So this is a last resort. Apparently the spray doesn’t hurt the animal. Plus, I would only use it if I absolutely had to! (Think Cujo…)

Back to this dog story:
A guy came running out and called for his dog, a rather frisky black lab. She didn't respond. Duh-Uh!... She was off leash! I asked him if the dogs were kind and he said, "yeah, except one of them..."  Which one!?  Of course, the one who tasted my garment before high-tailing it into the woods for a chewier, crunchier rodent-style snackypoo.  

The guy scooped up his pup and headed into the house, leaving me with mini-cujo (in the distance) and the "take-me-home-please" pooch. She'd disobeyed all commands and thought it much better to be my NBF. I started to run again but couldn’t shake her.  

I am an animal magnet. Woof.
Take me home with you.
This is not actually my NBF but she looks just as eager.

I ran about a mile with her (she was bounding ahead) before I turned around to try to get send her home. Soon she set her sniffer on some spot of road-side pee-pee. More marking. (Do dogs have an auxiliary bladder for such tasks?) I seized the opportunity to huff it out of her range before she noticed. Hopefully she made her way back home... she wasn't too far.

"...One is the loneliest number...
It's just no good anymore since  

she went away
Now I spend my time just making 

rhymes of yesterday..."

Frankly, it was delightful to share some canine running company. The dog was motivating, curious, and a tireless pacer. I 'm beginning to more fully appreciate and understand the mutual devotion between dog and runner. 

Go Vasco Go Sheba, Go Tucker...

This post is for you!

August 12, 2010

Intentionally Lost

Overcast skies, threatening clouds....this morning I woke up in a bit of a funk. By mid-morning I figured out one of the reasons why: I was sick to my stomach. Let's just say, I have a delicate constitution. Once my body evacuated the ailment, I felt a lot better!

Exercise is a terrific mood lifter and before leaving for work, Dave suggested I go for a ride. In the same breath he gently reminded me that our Tri-State Seacoast Century is in about a month. ULP.  

A few years back, I rode 100k at the Seacoast Century with pretty limited training. With that in mind and my current training, I'm in for at least 100k this September. We have a longer ride planned for the end of August. I'll be ready. This year, I hope we'll skip the section that heads towards Newburyport and opt to start heading north right away. The roads leading up and into Maine are very beautiful.
Before today, my last ride was a month ago! Yikes. By 1 p.m., with a fresh stomach and lifted spirit, I was pumping air in my bike tires, filling a water bottle and packing a PB & J. YUM.
I rode towards Peterborough and decided to just start taking lefts or rights as I pleased.  I blew a kiss to Smokey before heading past EMS.   A sharp left brought me along some rolling back roads into Hancock. Nice views! I was lost by then and quite pleased to roll into the town center, which I recognized. 

Eventually I made my way back to Bennington and stopped at the General Store for a much needed coke. I drained my water bottle well before Hancock. 

Somewhere between Hancock and Bennington, I came across these sheep and had to stop. My toes fall asleep while I ride and it seemed like a great chance to admire their fleece. At that point, I wanted more fleece on my saddle...

All-in-all it was a great ride of about 35 miles at 15.1 mph. I love getting lost to discover new places AND to extend rides. Today reminded me of my "get lost" summer bike rides in high school.

Not all who wander are lost...
Juggling cycling, marathon training and teaching (with the start of school in a month) is going to be interesting.  I'm signed up for the Stone Cat Trail Marathon in November and have my eye on a few events beforehand—some half-marathons and long-distance trail events. I'll play it by earlobe.

August 09, 2010

Instead of Running & Racing...

Trail Pixie gathers no moss....
After pacing at the Vermont 100, I shifted gears 
—away from running & racing—
towards other adventures: 

Water skiing:
Trail Pixie on the waters of Winnisquam

Art New England Workshops:
Bennington, Vermont
My palette one day in the Ultimate Color Workshop.

 Raku with artist, Bob Green, and Anna Witte
 Plein Air Painting 
Southern Vermont College, Bennington, VT

Photography at Flea Markets:
Gathering source material in photo format.
Williamstown, Vermont
Matchbox Grid Lock. Rietta Flea Market.

 Studio Painting:
  Continuing the practice.
Learning Joinery and more...
My Art-Studio-Table "in progress"

Surface Archeology:
Digging in the Back 40 where there once was a hopper.
Discovering lots of old bottles and plates...history.

Cheering at Triathlons:
 Men's swim start at Lowell Sprint Triathlon (8/1/10)

Bike Transition area at Surry Sprint Triathlon (8/7/10)

 Tomatoes and cukes! 

Worm Warfare:
Tomato horn worm!
Ah Ha! This worm is covered with the parasitic larva of the
Braconid Wasp, which eats the worms. 
Everyday I check the tomato plants for these hob-goblins.

Enjoying the Craftsmen's Fair:
(League of NH)
 Garry Kalajian, Blacksmith

Let's lathe!

Life Before Blog
Life Before Blog
 Life Before Blog ...

August 08, 2010

You Gotta Love It

In Robert Manson Myers, “Ars Amatoria” (after Ovid’s poem—The Art of Love), the author starts from the first letter of the English alphabet and stops there. He scripted a 200-page book entirely of words beginning with the letter “A.” This was a first for the English language. (See end of post for my poem about the VT 100, inspired by the letter "S.") 
Kevin Z heads across a Vermont field Saturday morning
(photo: Trail Pixie)
 For four folks of The Ultra Gang (T.U.G.), it was also a first—their first 100 mile run. You gotta love running and being on your feet out there in the woods…to stick this thing through——through the training leading up to the event and through the finish line. At times it must feel like a “love—hate” relationship.
Ultra runners are a quirky bunch.
(photo: Trail Pixie)
For some it might be their one-and-only 100. For those who started at 4 a.m., the gang had a finishing rate of 75% (three out of four peeps), topping the overall 55% finish rate.

At the Vermont 100, all participants start at the beginning: Julie O’Mara, Streph Treadway, Steve LaTour, and Keven Zelechoski took that first step. Others support—crew and pace: Bill H, Kim K, Chris M, Christine M, Mike Menard, Michelle R, and myself.
Steve LaTour icing one tough ITB!
(photo: Trail Pixie)
 Julie ran about half way before bowing out and her intended pacer, Mike M shifted his duties to helping another. Christine and Chris tended to and paced Steve, respectively. Bill and Kim crewed for Kevin while Michelle and I paced him. 
Pacers, crew, support...
Mike M, Trail Pixie, Bill H, Joy & Michelle R in front.
 Streph was our wild card, self-supported and a tug boat steering the TUG lead. As he commented, “we all started at the same time and finished within a half an hour of each other.”
 Streph Treadway catches some shut-eye 
after finishing his first 100.
(photo: Trail Pixie)

Epic Finish for Kevin Z!
Finishing pacer, Trail Pixie, gets a huge hug!
(photo: Michelle Roy)
I'm super proud of these folks 
and will crew/pace for them anytime!
I wrote this poem—inspired by Professors Myer’s style—about the Vermont 100;  It's brought to you by the letter “S.” 

Stellar Saturday Start
by Trail Pixie Trespas

Striding Start Surprises
Superstars strategically situate—seed
Several spread staccato-style
Surge swerve stabilize

Sparkling spots shine sycamores
Shuttling self, spirit soaring
Step step step

Soon sunrise stunning scenery
Sheep shedding shadows
Stop sign, Street sign, Smokey sign

Sections snaking, splitting
Stumbling sticks strewn sidelong
Steady steadily steady

Smelling spring-summer—someone
Songs sound, sparrow speaks
Sirens seep stolen slumber

Soon stuff, supplies, support:
Snacks: salt, sticky-sweet soda
Sustaining S-Caps, serums…smiles.

Sarcastic sentences sounding
Soothsayers stopped short—sayonara !
Stifling stifle stifling

Soaring steam suffocates, signals slowing
Sublimation sabotages swiftness
“Speed sabbatical” surely

Slimming, sweat stinging, smothered:
soft shoe steps
shabby sneakers
stretched straps
soiled shorts
swollen sacks
soaked sleeves
shin splints
soggy socks
something soft shifted

Saturday somehow Sunday
Sunset sundown stars
Solo, sola—so long

Sixty seems strategic
Seventy sounds strenuous

Susceptible sleepless shuffler
Spotty syntax say-something
Sorry —so sorry—Sorry

Surround sound:
seeping spirit
sick stomach
sitting staying
silence screaming!

Stupendous stories supplant sanity
Supposed strange shapes speak
Stirred sanity, sensibility

Sway, swerve, swat
Soon supine stoned stallions
Sah-weet sanguine

Shortly signs, salutations, salutes.
Shedding, sniffing, sobbing
Simultaneously sore—sacrosanct.

A special thanks to Dave McDermott for this creative "S" spark to post. To listen to Robert Manson Myers reading from “Ars Amatoria” go to Here and Now, May 21, 2010. Professor Myers reading "Aprillis" on Here & Now: