Sunday Offerings: Ode to My Water Heater

My water heater died today.

An untimely death.

Nine years new.

Installed haphazardly, carelessly, by a worker in a hurry

Contributing to its early demise.

 

When the water ran tepid these past few days

we summoned a plumber

Urgently requesting his help to resuscitate our old friend.

He arrived without delay, coaxing new life

from the white elephant creaking, leaking water from its valves.

 

Like a craftsman, the plumber built a new shed for our friend,

Protecting it from the elements.

Like a surgeon, he connected new hoses and installed a new pump,

Hoping to give us the gift of time, and the decadence of hot, flowing water

Cascading out of our shower heads, and flowing into our sinks.

 

But it was not to be.

 

On a day meant for hot showers, breakfast dishes and weekly laundry,

Tepid water filled with minerals spewed and sputtered

from the aging elephant.

Until the last of its life source poured out,

leaving us with frigid baths, dirty dishes and soiled clothing.

 

So I sit in my van, writing, lamenting outside Launderland.

Washing clothes in need of the cleaning power of hot water,

Dreading the cold shower which awaits me in the morning,

Regretting the cancelled gym membership with its white tiled shower stalls

Mourning the death of an old friend.

Awaiting the arrival of a new one,

which cannot come soon enough.

Good-bye old friend.  My water heater waiting for its last rites.

Good-bye old friend. My water heater waiting for its last rites.

NaBloPoMo? Bring it?

NaBloPoMo? Bring it.

Do I sound enthusiastic about jumping on the National Blog Posting Month bandwagon? If I do, then I’m pretty good at faking it till I make it. The truth is, writing a daily blog post for the month of November will be a big challenge for me. I am not sure I am up to the task.

I just can’t seem to get into a writing rhythm. I just can’t seem to hit “publish” on a regular basis. Work and family life is keeping me busy. There are countless doctor appointments, orthodontist visits, teacher conferences, school fairs, bake sales. I had several episodes of Homeland to catch up with, not to mention staying current with The Walking Dead. Excuses, excuses.

The truth is, that I have felt so depleted at the end of my day that I often can’t bring myself to turn on my computer at night, even when I know that writing is the one thing I do for myself. It’s the one thing I can do and gain a sense of accomplishment. It’s the thing I do which stimulates my creative side and provides the outlet for all stresses in my life. And yet, I don’t’ do it with any regularity because it requires d-i-s-c-i-p-l-i-n-e. My computer is full of blog post ideas and half-written posts.

This month, I am giving up on excuses. I am making time to write, and creating space for my creative side. I know it won’t be easy but I just need to do it. I hope that participating in this month long campaign will be the thing I need to help me get into a writing rhythm.  Maybe then I can finally finish editing those blog posts. Perhaps I can finally finish writing about my trip to Italy I took so long ago. And maybe I can even update my list of 50 Things to Do Before I’m 50 and change it to 50 Things to Do Before I’m Done with My 50’s.

NaBloPoMo? Bring it!

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Foodie Friday: The Lazy Ox Canteen

I am introducing a new feature on my blog. It is my husband Juan’s idea to help me get blogging again, and it’s my idea to help us out of our “same old, same old” lunch rut. This routine involves brown bagging it everyday and eating at our desk or on a nice day, eating outside in the park. I am going to call this new feature “Foodie Friday.”

Foodie Friday will be my review of a local restaurant that Juan and I will enjoy once a week. And because we are parents of 4 kids and don’t have a lot of extra cash to throw around, I will review those places where we can eat at a discount. I mean discounts like Groupon, Living Social, Travel Zoo—any number of the sites which send me offers and I impulsively buy. (I can’t tell you the number of offers I’ve bought, only to have them expire). I figure a lunch out with my husband that doesn’t involve leftovers, or a turkey sandwich, and ends with a blog post, means that everyone wins! So, I give you my first installment of Foodie Friday.

The Lazy Ox Canteen

Juan and I work in the same building in downtown Los Angeles. It’s kind of nice to be in the civic center, but as far as restaurants go in this area, they are pretty scarce. Don’t get me wrong, Downtown LA is undergoing a huge revitalization, several blocks away. Grand Avenue is beautiful with its high rise apartments and office towers, Disney Concert Hall and what will be a stunning new museum, the Broad.  East of Grand, the area is crawling with Hipsters. You can’t throw a rock without hitting a young urbanite walking their dogs, or lounging outside coffee houses. Little Tokyo is another area which is experiencing some growth, perhaps due to the encroaching loft conversions and growing hipster population. This is great for those of us who work in the Civic Center because Little Tokyo probably has the most accessible restaurants, especially if you want Japanese food.

Not long ago a new restaurant (well, new to us anyway) appeared on the fringe of Little Tokyo, The Lazy Ox Canteen. Even more recently, I learned that Travel Zoo was offering a voucher, $29.00 for lunch for two, including two of their gourmet burgers and a flight of beer. I hesitated at first because after all, a flight of beer? On a work day? But then I remembered it was Friday, and how much work could I really expect to accomplish on a Friday afternoon! So I bought it and I’m glad I did.

We arrived after a short walk, made longer because it was blazing hot. It took awhile for my eyes to adjust to the dimly lit space, but once they did I could see that the place had a modern, upscale, tavern feel, and the majority of the diners appeared to be businessmen enjoying a cold one with their monolithic burgers. There was a chalkboard on the wall displaying the day’s beer offerings. We were seated immediately, but with only one waitress for the entire restaurant, it took awhile for her to take our order.

We ordered our burgers that were included with the Travel Zoo voucher and the waitress told us which beers we would be served. Not long after, she presented us with a “plank” of 4 glasses of 5 ounce pours of beer. They ranged in color and flavor, and maybe if I hadn’t enjoyed ALL 4 glasses and taken notes, I would be able to tell you what they were. Suffice to say, I liked them all.

Undaunted by the task ahead of me.

Undaunted by the task ahead of me.

The food was really tasty too. I love a good burger and The Lazy Ox’s was flavorful and cooked the way I like, even though the texture of the meat felt a little…crumbly? The best part of the plate though was the French fries. They were crispy but full of flavor. They came with a delicious aioli for dipping.

The fries and the aioli upstaged the burger.

The fries and the aioli upstaged the burger.

Between the fancy dipping sauce and the deliciously seasoned fries, it was a good thing Juan ate all his fries too because I could have reached over and finished his, even after eating my huge burger.

The walk back to my office took even longer, in part because of the heat, but more likely because of all the carbs I just ingested. Good thing there was a Starbucks on the way, and in keeping with my discount theme, I was able to use a gift card to buy us much needed caffeinated drinks. After a good lunch, a full flight of beer and a walk in the heat, I really needed it!

The finish to my carb loaded lunch.

The finish to my carb loaded lunch.

Back to Blogging

I am dropping by this blog for a quick minute to say hi and see if anyone is out there? Anyone?

Actually, I’ve been thinking about doing this for quite sometime, but something always got in the way, namely me and my so-called life. So much time has gone by and so much has happened—really good things, and some really-not-so-good things. I have allowed these things to keep me from blogging.

I woke up today and turned over a new month on the calendar. How did it get to be August? And how did so many months go by without me stopping to enjoy, reflect and blog? Everytime I thought about blogging, I would get so overwhelmed about how many things I’ve missed writing about, and how much I still needed to process before I could write, that the thought of blogging paralyzed me. I didn’t know how to catch up. I didn’t know how to begin again.

I took my lunch hour to check in on some blogs which I enjoy reading, and which I haven’t read in many weeks. Just as I was finished and was about to turn back to the pile of legal documents on my desk, my husband walked through the door carrying gifts, fresh flowers from the farmers market, and broccoli. The flowers are for me and the broccoli is for tonight’s dinner. Maybe it’s the flowers, the blogs, the passing summer, but I decided I just need to get to back to blogging. I guess I’ll just start out blogging about today. I’ll catch you up later

So, here I am. Is anyone out there? Anyone?

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Flowers for Today

From My Couch to My First 5K

When I began my list of 50 Things To Do Before My 50th Birthday I (impulsively) added, number 33 “Run Participate in a Half-Marathon.” You’ll notice I said participate, not run.I’m a lawyer and a blogger, so I know I should choose my words carefully. I committed to participate because I didn’t know if I could ever be that kind of person who actually runs. I have never liked running, and I never understood those people who gushed when they talk about running and the runner’s high they get after breezing through an easy 2 or 3 mile jog. For me, running has always been a slog, something I had to do when my P.E. teacher punished us with laps around the track. So, you can imagine that it was a real leap for me to even think about participating in a half-marathon. But, my list of 50 Things to Do Before My 50th Birthday is about challenging myself to do things outside my comfort zone. Besides, if not now when I am nearing 50, then when will I ever run in a half-marathon?

I told my friend Julie about my public proclamation to participate in a half-marathon and because she knows me so well, she laughed out loud and said, “What do you mean participate? Are you going to pass out water in those little cups?” She was right. Merely participating is too wimpy, too non-committal. If I was going to do it, I really needed to do it, and soon. My 50th birthday was approaching. Just after the New Year, Juan and I were sitting on our couch, sipping coffee on a lazy weekend morning and I was browsing through my Instagram feed when I spied a photo posted by Catalina, a local blogger I follow. She had posted this:

The photo that inspired me. Thanks Catalina!

The photo that inspired me. Thanks Catalina!

It seemed Catalina was working her way to a 5K on a treadmill with an app, and she was posting her progress on line. That was my “Come to Jesus” moment. I knew I could not put this running thing off any longer. I asked Juan if he wanted to run with me and he agreed. We decided that we work our way up to a half-marathon and begin by running in the LA Big 5K, on the LA Marathon Weekend. We downloaded the Couch to 5K app on our smartphones and the next morning we began Week 1 of the 8 Week training program. We started out with four intervals of 2 minute jogs and 2 minute walks. That first morning I felt like I was going to pass out!

We kept at it and ran three times a week with this program, increasing our jogging time while decreasing our walking time and intervals. I gradually built up my endurance and soon we began running around the Rose Bowl with dozens of other joggers and fitness enthusiasts. I actually began to feel athletic. By week 8 I was running for 30 minutes straight and no longer felt like I was going to stroke out. Nevertheless, I still didn’t love running, and during the first 10 minutes of my runs, all I could think of was, “This hurts. I want to stop. Why can’t I breathe?” But after about 10 minutes my body would finally take over. Running became easier and almost meditative, even if I didn’t experience a runner’s high.

Finally, the day I trained for arrived. Last Sunday Juan and I woke up early and joined 3000 participants at Dodger Stadium for the LA Big 5K. We all gathered at the starting line and soon we were off! At least some of the runners in front were off. Those of us in the back moved en masse, walking more than running as we wound our way through the parking lot of Dodger Stadium. As I picked up my pace along the course I realized that this was not the easy, flat terrain I had trained on. There were some down slopes but my legs felt like most of the course was uphill. Juan hit his stride and broke away from me. I was in a pack of runner/walkers until the first big hill and then, even with my slow jog trudging uphill, I managed to break away. I finally found my groove and set my pace alongside another runner who looked like she was a bit older than me but had a consistent stride. I was tired and my thighs ached as I ran up one hill after another. I kept thinking about how far I had come training over the last 8 weeks and the thought of my success motivated me to keep running. When I finished the race I felt a tremendous sense of accomplishment and maybe even a little bit of a runner’s high. Whatever. I felt great!

Feeling fine after my first 5K.

Feeling fine after my first 5K.

I don’t plan to stop at a 5K. After all, I did say I wanted to do a half-marathon. At the rate I am going I know I won’t be in shape to run 13.1 miles by my 50th birthday but I will get there, one slow slog at a time. Then, I can check number 33 from my list and finally say that I particpated ran a half-marathon.

Here is a short video Juan put together of our first 5k: