Tuesday, March 31, 2009

San Francisco Climb California Race

What a gorgeous weekend! Part of Team Library Dork (Chris and Turi) plus two others, Ron and Lori, comprised a new team for this unique race- 52 flights to the top of the Bank of America building in San Francisco- the highest building in the city.

CalvesAndQuads of Fire fared well- we trained hard, and expected to be sore for the next week. But surprising to us all, none of us were. I almost-sprained my right ankle last Sunday and wasn't sure if I was even going to be able to participate, but I took the week off (tapering, see?) and was healed enough to walk up at an even steady pace. I didn't push myself too hard, but still surprised myself by finishing in 15:46. That's 1197 steps, and actually 52 and a half flights. But the views from the top were totally worth the training!

If you look closely, you can see the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance through the haze. Both Chris and Turi did amazing- Turi finished in under 9:37 and finished 29th overall, and Chris completed his race to the top in 8:19 which was 4th place! Out of 1084 finishers! You guys are animals. I am happy with my 473rd place. I didn't hurt myself, and that was my goal. :)

Then there was the party at the top with two live bands in two different rooms, both of which were really good, and some good food. We didn't stay for too long (no point in waiting an hour for a massage when we weren't sore!), and headed down to Abby's cousin's house. Have you ever driven down some of the streets in SF admiring the detailed wood carving around the doors and windows and the roofs of the houses? I've never been inside a SF house before, but this one was beautiful! Three stories, and as intricate on the inside as it was on the outside. Thank you Eric for letting us tour your home! Then Turi, Chris, Abby and I headed out to lunch at an International Cafe, and I had the Mediterranean combo plate with baba ganouche, two different kinds of hummus, falafel and grape leaves. Yummy! And then we went beer tasting at a place Chris had his eye on, the Toronado, and I found a new favorite too: Lambic Framboise! (Basically raspberry beer. Really sweet, red, and very smooth going down.)

Sunday proved to be as beautiful as Friday and Saturday- Turi was competing in the Presidio 10 miler across the Golden Gate Bridge in the morning.

I REALLY wanted to run, but didn't want to push my luck with my ankle still on the mend, and my back not entirely happy with me yet from injury last month, plus the long car trip down there. Next year. I'll do a double race weekend next year. :) Turi ran well, and then we ate some yummy breakfast burritos and lounged on the beach for a while before packing up for the drive home.

I had a super flash back when we got to the Presidio- about 2 years ago I had a dream (that I still remember vividly) about running down a narrow dirt path next to the ocean, surrounded by green and lots of flowers, with a white house at the end. I took one look at the scene around me, and I was in my dream! In the picture below, if you look closely, you can see the people on the path nice and tiny. Deja vu!

The super bonus of going to San Francisco? I got to visit Scott and Sara! On Friday they took us out to tapas (my first ever) at this hip restaurant in Berkeley, and then on Saturday Scott cooked an excellent dinner of green curry with ginger and lemongrass, and Koren short ribs and salad on the side. I love getting new cooking ideas from him, but this one was beyond me. Thank you Scott and Sara for letting us stay with you, and for cooking for us. And another big huge thank you to everyone who answered my begging for donations and supported my Climb California race, to help the fight against lung cancer!

New Job!

Yep, it's official! The librarians at the Carson City Public Library liked me! You are now looking at their new Youth Services Librarian! I am so excited- a real librarian, a professional librarian, not just an assistant! I wasn't planning on taking this step quite yet- I was going to wait and finish my masters, but with all the financial difficulties Washoe County is having right now, it seemed like the best thing to do. The way things are looking currently (and what we hear changes every day), I might not have been laid off, but with me accepting this position means that someone else in the system will get to keep their job, or two part time employees. I am happy that this transition will make an impact on someone else's life, whomever it might be. :)

My first day of work will be April 28th, right after I get back from vacation in DesMoines, IA where I will be (hopefully healed enough) running a half marathon with my bestest bud ever, Melissa. One last vacation before I have to grow up for "reals" this time~ I'm ready Mo!

I'll keep you posted with details as they come... Yay!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Oh, the goodness of Milk!

Do you like milk? I LOVE milk! I mostly drink non-fat milk in the morning, and sometimes add a little vanilla soy milk to make it sweeter. I like to drink it warm in the evening sometimes too (just a minute in the microwave usually does it). But my absolute favoritist way to drink milk? Shaken! (Not stirred.) When there's only about a cup or two left in the bottom of the gallon jug, I shake the daylights out of it, pour it in a big mug and eat the foam with a spoon. Yes, this even works spectacularly with skim milk. I have even been known to funnel the milk at the bottom of the cup back into the jug and have another go. I am enjoying this luxury right now (I don't usually have time to shake up the last remnants at the bottom of the jug and enjoy it in the morning, but it's my day off today). The best part of this dessert (yep, you heard me): I can belch like a man, baby! All the air in that foam does wonders for my burping volume, and tone for that matter.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

An Unsure Future for the Washoe County Library System

Yep, I might not have a job in July. The economy is so bad, that possibly 3 to 6 libraries will be closing this year, including the Mobile Library. The information we are getting changes daily, from the millions they are asking the WCLS to come up with, which and how many libraries might close, to how many and which positions will be laid off. Some days look brighter than others. Here are a few articles with varying view points of how things look. First, one from NewsAndReview.com, called Open Books talks about how libraries are a necessity and not a luxury. Here are two more from RGJ. The first one, Popular library might close doors for good talks about the possible closure of the Sierra View Library, and Washoe County libraries and parks could lose 36 percent of funding: the title pretty much sums it up. I talked with one of the rangers when he did a science program at my library last month, and he said they are down to 4 rangers from 12 just a year and a half ago, with budget slashes just as dramatic as the library's. Four rangers for all of Washoe County!

What am I going to do about it? I am applying for a Youth Services Librarian position at the Carson City Library, plus I have been invited to apply for a teaching job at a charter school in Reno (there is a Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade opening- I won't take the 2nd grade job since the boys would definitely come with me, but I could totally teach K or 1st. Which would mean a TON of brushing up on my teaching skills this summer. I've kept my teaching certificate up to date, just in case...). I don't know if I'll lose my job this summer. I don't know if I'll lose my job in December if/when they ask the library system to chop off their other arm because the county is still in a deficit. I'm doing my best to stay positive about it, but one thing is for sure: as our Director has put it, "the face of the Washoe County Library System will look different when this is through." And I'll lose part/all of my family at the South Valleys Library. Sadness.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Snowshoeing Towards Relay Peak

What a day for Chris to pick to get up extra early for a snowshoeing hike up to Relay Peak- the morning after Daylight Savings! (The idea was to get a few pictures of a sunrise view of the mountains, plus we're busy people!) I was excited to get in my first good workout since I threw out my back two weeks ago (yes, complete with the stuck-in-bed and the pain, and even a little passing out to make a joyful mix), and didn't sleep well to begin with, so when my alarm went off at 5:00 a.m.- I mean 6:00 a.m., my body shouted, "NO! Need more SLEEP! It's COLD out there!" After a few minutes of stretching, I remembered I was excited to be outside getting a good workout! After all, I only have 3 more weeks until I have to climb 52 flights of stairs for the Climb California event in San Francisco to help raise $$$ for lung cancer. (YES! I still need you to donate money- I still have $75 left to raise [Thanks Kris for the mula!]) And what better way to work the glutes than by running in some snow?

We all met at the South Valleys Library, aka, my second home, just as it was starting to get light out, Team Library Dork piled into Turi's Rav4 and made our way up to the base of the Mount Rose trail. Here is a picture of the sun coming up on Mt. Rose, from the parking lot.

We strapped in while Chris left to take care of some business (Hey Chris- here is your reminder to clean and disinfect your left snow shoe!), and then headed up the trail (by pretty much climbing up the snow on top of the bathrooms). I had a little fun adjusting to walking in show shoes as this was my first time in them, and only had to take a knee once at the beginning. Here is the beginning of the trail with Turi getting a few pictures of his own:

Right away, we could see some breath taking views of Lake Tahoe, with the clouds rushing by overhead- another shot with the sun just crowing the peak of the hill behind us to light up the mountain in front:

Our fearless leaders, Turi and Chris, mostly scouted ahead and did a bit of running here and there while I lead the slower team (and adjusting to an elevated heart rate at an elevation! Ha ha! A pun!). Dave was a great companion, and pretty much hiked the entire morning with me, while our much longer-legged team mates plowed the course for us.

Here they are waiting with Lake Tahoe in the background~

And a picture of the men folk: Dave, Chris and Turi.

We hiked for another mile or two, and then came the Wind. And this forbidding view of the peak we were hiking towards:

We nearly turned around and decided to make a loop through the meadows below us, across the highway instead. Also, we weren't doing any running (well, I wasn't) because the terrain was so unsteady, and the path was on a slant. It was obvious at this point that we weren't going to make it to the peak.

But the Wind! It was really picking up, and that decided for us rather quickly- get to the shelter of the trees! So we kept going on the path we were on, figuring we could go up for as long as we wanted, and turn around when felt like we'd hiked long enough. After a while, we got to hike through a groomed area between some trees, with lots of snow mobile tracks (that would have been fun too! but expensive) before coming to a flat open area.

Here we paused for a little break while we decided which fork in the trail to take. We were were exposed to the wind again, and I caught this "little" flurry on my camera. Notice what Turi's holding? In both hands?

A little trick he recently tried on his son didn't quite work on me...

So. Head toward Mt. Rose? Relay Peak was still pretty far up ahead, but the trail toward Mt. Rose was through the trees. However, once we decided to head toward the shelter of the trees, the trail all but disappeared, and we really didn't feel like getting lost in the unmarked back country. Before we turned around to call it a day, I snapped a couple pictures- here is Mt. Rose summit- it's worth clicking on to see the snow blowing across the top:

And one of Turi and I, and then one with Dave. (Chris was already high-tailin' it out of there and missed this once in a life time opportunity. Or until next time, that is. :)

On the way back, we were able to do a little running down the hill (yay, I was running! but Dave and I did only in spurts- running in snow shoes is WAY tiring, plus I haven't run in over two weeks), and we didn't see Turi or Chris until we reached the car again. Since I was trying my best to make them wait only a minimal amount, I didn't get any more pictures. But what a fun day! It was SO beautiful, despite the occasional blasts of skin-peeling snow crystals. Thanks Chris for introducing me to this new sport! I think I would have done okay in the 5k Fresh Tracks Snowshoe Race had I not thrown out my back the day before. (Yay to the rest of Team Library Dork- all three of them placed!) And thanks Dave for hanging back with me~ :)

Monday, March 2, 2009

Baby Berry Pies

Kevin read my last post about the blueberry tart I made for Kathy's birthday, and was upset that there wasn't any left over for him. So I came up with the idea to make individual pies in my new ramekins I got for Christmas- I've actually wanted to try something like this since I got them. I had a couple cups of frozen blackberries in the freezer, so that was the berry of choice! I used the filling recipe from the blueberry tort (but I only used 2 cups of berries + 3/4 cups sugar in a pot on medium heat, then added the mixture of 2 TBSP of corn starch + 2 TBSP of water, and simmered for a few minutes until it began to thicken), and a the easiest crust recipe on the planet that was shared with me from my mommy-in-law: a heaping cup of flour (I used cake flour this time), 1/4 cup of vegetable oil, and 1/4 cup of cold water + shake of cinnamon. Now here's the easy part- you put all the crust ingredients in a Tupperware, snap on the lid, and give it like 10 or 15 shakes until you can feel it rolling around in there. Sometimes you have to add a bit more flour, sometimes a bit more water. Then, take it out, and roll it out on a flat surface like normal! Easy, see? Now came the more time consuming part- lining the (buttered) ramekins with dough. I ended up cutting lots of little strips of dough to fill in all the gaps, and pressing the pieces together.

It worked okay, although I should have used more dough so it folded over the edges and pinch the top crust to the bottom instead of just pressing from the top (you can see in the picture below that the filling oozed out because I couldn't quite seal the crust using this method). Next I scooped in some of the filling, rolled out more dough and found that a martini glass was the perfect size press to make a round top crust. Here they are, in three stages:

And a little decoration~

And voĆ­la! Aren't they cute? :)

I somehow managed to let them sit for a good half hour before diving in so I didn't burn the insides of my mouth, but it was worth the wait! The pies were nice and warm, and gooey on the inside, but not too drippy either.

Ah, sweet blackberry heaven! As I was eating mine, I thought it might have been a little heavy on the crust, especially if it wasn't still warm and soft. I bet these would still turn out pretty good with just a top layer of crust. Or even to make it less time consuming, I could try some pre-packed filo dough. Plus the extra light buttery crust might better compliment the sweet filling, and not absorb quite so much of the liquid. I'll definitely make these again!