Simply Seafood

“This is so exciting,” I think to myself as I pull up to the parking lot. Buying local seafood, on my way from home work, from a recently set-up up program called Community Seafood that helps Santa Barbara keep more of it’s catch in town. I’m no stranger to the process as every week I receive a box of fresh organic veggies delivered to my door.  It’s all part of Community Supported Agriculture where you commit to a set-number of weeks for a set-price for a share of what’s in season (in the fields or in the ocean).

But this, this seems exotic and new and I’m just excited. Our first week was Ridgeback Shrimp, which are indeed ridgeback (ouch) but not actually shrimp but prawns. I learned this from the informative email that arrives before my seafood does. It also introduced me to some recipes and to the fisherman, which I think is a fantastic human component to this whole process. This is too easy.

Or is it? Admittedly, as a mostly vegetarian I was intimated by preparing the shrimp. Sand vein? Please! That was a full digestive track filled with green sea goo (it’s a technical term). But I refuse to be wimpy and squeamish. I had a stint as a lobsterman in Maine, pick up spiders with my bare hands and can swing a hammer with the best of them. I can clean shrimp. And besides, I decided long ago that if preparing meat turns my stomach, then I shouldn’t be eating meat.

After about 20 minutes of prep that turned out to be pretty easy, minus a few finger stabs and swear words, we were ready to cook an amazing meal of locally caught Ridgeback Shrimp and a little wine, garlic and butter were all we needed for a plate of perfection.

And next week? Who knows! But give me a knife and I’ll be ready to go.

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A Funner Runner

26.2 miles. To some, it’s a lot. To my boyfriend who runs 100 mile events, it’s merely a short run.

This weekend I ran the San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon with a friend and it was the most fun running I’ve had in a long time. I was smiling, laughing, present, and humbled with pretty much every step. I felt light and happy and free. Not the way it usually goes for such a distance. Admittedly I was running a bit slower than my normal pace so that I could stay with a friend. Regardless, it was awesome.

I entered the event as a participant of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training program. This was my second time as a fundraising participant and I’ve been a volunteer coach for the program 4 times. (Note: Please check out my fundraising page as I’m still raising funds for another few weeks). Fundraising to raise money and awareness for blood cancer helped set the stage for an event that bigger than just me. Our Santa Barbara team alone raised over $100,000 and all Team in Training participants for the San Diego event raised over $7 million. Impressive to say the very least.

Team in Training jersey

To keep it short, the following are a few highlights from the event:

  • Spectator with a sign that read, “Worst. Parade. Ever”. Kept me laughing the whole time.
  • Remembering all the people I know that have been affected by cancer. Unfortunately, there were a lot of people to think about.
  • Starting to sing to my running partner, “You can do it put your a$$ into it” and having the guy next to me laugh and take off saying, “Thanks! I needed that!” at mile 20.
  • The neighbors and strangers out there offering support and supplies. From Otter Pops at mile 17 to piles of orange slices at mile 19, it’s nice to know that sometimes taking food from strangers is a perfectly acceptable idea.
  • Helping a friend who needed a bit more support, coaching and encouragement cross the finish line. It was incredibly emotional for both of us as we neared the end of her hard earned goal.
  • Coaches and more coaches. Team in Training was so well supported at every single point along the course. There was always a green (official coach) or purple (participant or staff) jersey there with a smile, a “Go Team!”, a high five and assorted words of encouragement. They were abundant and energetic and much appreciated.

Mile 7 of the San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon

I’m a better me for having raised the money and run the event. I feel stronger emotionally and physically. And as one person along the course reminded me, “Chuck Norris never ran a marathon”.

How to Not Go Broke In Zurich

Zurich wins! According to the brainy folks at the Economist, their recent survey indicates that Zurich is the most expensive city to live in. Does that mean you should forgo your opportunity to visit the fabled father of fondue? Should you skip the highly sought after Swiss chocolate?

I have to say, my recent adventures in Switzerland afforded me the opportunity to stay with a dear friend, which saved immensely. But even still, money disappears easily in that city. So without friends to stay with or a personal inheritance to while away, it can feel like someone has kicked you in the wallet before you’ve even had a chance to utter “Guten Morgen” (German for ‘good morning’).

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Limmat River in Zurich

Here are a few tips to get the most out of your moola.

  1. Walk: But if you don’t, get a Zurich Card and use it like crazy (almost unlimited travel for 72 hours: 40 CHF). Know that you’ll see more, smell more and do more on foot. The cobblestone streets with winding walkways that open into adorable plazas will be missed if you zip around on the tram all day.
  2. Free Fun:  You don’t have to be religious to appreciate the Fraumunster Church with stained glass windows by Giacometti and Marc Chagall. The Wildnis Park Langenberg is also free and boasts boars, brown bear, lynx and more. If plants are your passion, peruse the also free Zurich University Botanic Gardens.
  3. Picnic, please! Restaurants are incredibly expensive so splurge if you will but the cheese section alone in the local supermarkets like Migros or Coop is interesting enough. Grab some Emmentaler or Appenzellercheese, bread and the required Swiss chocolate and you’re on your way to gourmet. Besides there are about a million and one scenic vistas to take in while you eat your lunch. Head down to Lake Zurich to sit along the benches facing the water while you nervously watch the flotilla of swans approach. Or take a short hike up to the University of Zurich where you have a view over the city and on a clear day, the iconic Alps. Also great for peeping on some internationally appealing University types.

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    One of many cobblestone walk streets in Zurich

But truthfully, get some time to stretch your legs in the Alps. The incredible system of wanderwegs (walking trails) is worth every step and labored breath. Smile graciously when you’re inevitably passed by a couple 3x your age. For a real treat, take the S-bahn train (hugging Lake Zurich on its way out of town before opening to expansive pastures) to the nearby town of Glarus where you can stroll the town before taking the well marked loop trail to the Klöntalersee See, a glacial lake warm enough for a dip during the summer months.

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Kloentaller See (lake) near Glarus, Switzerland

While in Zurich it’s easy enough to go for broke in a heartbeat with your eyes closed, with a little extra thought and some creativity you can keep your francs in your fist.

In Search of a Sinkhole

A “sah” what? Cenote. That’s like a big pond that was formed a long time ago, right?  My partner and I decided that this was on our list for things to see on our recent trip to the Yucatan. After all, the peninsula is peppered with these natural sinkholes used by ancient Maya and other tribes as both a water source and a sacrificial site.  After having spent the morning and better part of the afternoon at the impressive ruins of Coba, we decided to seek out some sinkholes. Heading 6k away from the town of Coba we reach the thatched roof stand where we are stopped to buy our tickets. We quickly decide to pay to see all 3 cenotes before heading further up the road for the turnoff to our first cenote, named Multun-Ha. Bumping along a particularly pot-holed dirt road for 2k, we…arrive.  More dirt and more rocks, a wall of showers and a friendly man asking for our tickets.  “Uh…where is it?” we ask somewhat sheepishly in Spanish, not wanting to reveal our inexperience. Smiling, the man points to a staircase disappearing into the ground and notes that we are the only people there.
Needless to say, this is not what we were expecting. Descending, spiraling along steep wooden stairs, wondering, “How far does it go?” Anxiety rises as we descend and with it the moist, warm air seems too thick for lungs. Just when I think I can’t go another step for fear of getting swallowed by the center of the Earth, it opens into another world. Crystalline blue waters, deep and dark surround the wooden pier where we stand dumbfounded. It’s as mesmerizing as it is disconcerting as the cave ceiling is reflected in the surface as well as the depths are revealed. To be in this magical space, alone but for each other, seems stifling, the stillness overwhelming. We slip into the pool as the six-inch catfish circle, their dark bodies clearly identified against the blue beyond. A source of life to many and an end of life for some, the reality and the solitude of the space become unbearable and we ascend.

Emerging into the fading sunlight, we laugh at each other and how nervous we felt just a few minutes ago.  Dripping and giddy at our recent adventure, we head out for the next one.

Cenote Multun-Ha, near Coba (Yucatan, Mexico)

Great Pyramid, Coba (Yucatan, Mexico)

Oldies But Goodies

I’m a sucker for antiques. If it’s belonged to someone old and in my family, I want it. Tables, jewelry, china, and sweaters: it’s just about limitless. I wouldn’t go as far to say I’m a collector, I just collect things. Partly I’m the ultimate recycler in that the repurposing and reusing of perfectly good things is ingrained in me. The bigger part is that I love relationships. More specifically, I’m incredibly drawn to the connections to things and between people. Therefore it’s not just the teacups and saucers that my paternal grandmother has collected over the years from her family but it’s the stories that go with them. Sure, they’re beautiful but where they’re from, the people that she shared tea with when she was a young woman, and my memory of them as a child in the hutch in her house are what really matter to me. So you’d think I’d use these teacups daily, right? Not a chance! The paper-thin china threatens to fracture under my emotion filled gaze.

My Crazy Aunt Barbara, so named with the utmost respect and love, used to pass along treasures rescued from her New York City basement.  “Who did they belong to?” we’d question, assuming they were from our family. And the response was always the same, “Well, it’s somebody’s heirloom!” While I still love the things dredged from the legendary basement, I have learned that it’s ok not to take everything, especially if it’s just ‘somebody’s heirloom’.

But how silly to amass these memorials only to store them away and not relish the memories that surround them. Isn’t it the point to have “stuff” that is meaningful and useful?

It’s high time I had a tea party. The kettle is on. Who’s coming?

Arrival

A blog? Why a blog? Aren’t personal blogs such old news?

Words flow through my head like blood in my veins. Thankfully the way this manifests has progressed over the years since it started as dramatic penned reminisces to elementary school girlfriends and now includes technical documents and web content.

I’ll blog because I need to write and want to be a better writer. I’ll blog because I overthink things and find that writing helps me better process all my musings. I’ll blog because I love connecting people and connecting with people, and it takes words to do it.

I felt this enormous pressure to have the right name, the right look and the right theme to this but ultimately I decided those were avoidant behaviors I was hiding behind. Unfortunately I tend towards being a perfectionist and a procrastinator, a sometimes immobilizing combination.

And so I often wonder as I wander, physically or mentally, and that always involves words flowing through my head and heart thus the o-so-catchy title exhibited above. A few things that inspire and motivate me: the oft cliche green living (and not just eating organic kale chips), running (to things and away from things), meditation (how hard and yet how easy it can be) and travel (be it into the local hills or across an ocean).

So after perhaps an extensive delay, I have arrived!