redzils: (Default)
Peanut Butter Balls (Vegan Style)

v. 1 -
1 c. oatmeal (chopped in blender or food processor)
1 c. unsweetened coconut (finely chopped)
1/3 c. agave nectar
3/4 c. peanut butter

Combine, mix smooth. Roll into balls. Leave them bare, or roll them in flax seed / melted chocolate / coconut / the material of your choice.

If you managed to break your blender and cannot chop the oatmeal, try:

v. 2 -

1 c. unsweetened coconut (finely chopped)
3/4 c. wheat flour
1/3 c. agave nectar
3/4 c. peanut butter

Combine, mix smooth. Roll into balls. Leave them bare, or roll them in flax seed / melted chocolate / coconut / the material of your choice.

Both these versions are derivations of this.

I cannot remember if I have told you this, darling internet, but my parents are going 'seagen' - as in vegan + seafood. It's a health choice, inspired by the sudden wave of cancer diagnoses among the people they (we) love. The reading they have been doing has them ready to stop participating in the commercial meat and milk industry, to weed the chemicals that go into the animals out of their diet, and we are all making some changes. I don't know how much of this I will take with me, but it has been remarkably painless so far. I like eating low on the food chain, and knowing my food's story.
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I voted a week or two ago, since I live (according to Google Maps) 4,200 miles from my polling place. That polling place is the gymnasium of the elementary school I 'graduated' from in 1992. I would love to go back and stand in line in a gym full of memories, before taking my turn in a catywampus, aluminum-pole-outlined, voting booth with raggedy red and blue curtains, but I have never had the chance. I turned 18 in 1999, in a dorm room in Eugene, Oregon, high on codeine cough syrup and wishing the fever would just kill me already. It wasn't a presidential year, but I was so proud to vote - absentee - for the first time, on the ballot I had applied for before leaving for college at 17.

In 2000, 2001, and 2002, I lived a six-ish hour drive over an icy mountain range from my polling place, so when I voted it was absentee. Since then I have been here, several (less terrifying, but still tall) mountain ranges and a whole 'nother country of driving from home. I continue to vote absentee, in the place I identify as home. I read something outrageous this morning which suggests that Alaska may go Democratic in the Presidential Election this year - possibly for the first time ever.  I doubt it - I am hoping we dont re-elect a recently convicted felon to the US Senate, but cant even bring myself to count on that, knowing the people I grew up with - but it is hopeful.

I have never actually voted for anyone in a state or federal election who then won. This is rotten and true, and yet I resist moving my vote to the swing state in which I currently live.  For me voting is tied up with residency, which jangles my heart strings in a way people who have ever gotten a driver's license in a new state may not understand. My Alaska residency is convenient, in that I get the dividend and impoverished graduate students like free money, but it is also defining. My dad's family drove up the Alcan in 1958, so us Zils have been in Alaska since before statehood (Alaska's statehood came late, in 1959). I was born there, and I am quite literally the only person in four generations of Zils to live outside the state right now. Everyone else is in Alaska, and mostly within easy reach of Anchorage (my school teacher sister, living in south-east, is the exception).

I've been eligible to keep my residency because I am a full time college student (and have been, an infinitum). That exception will expire soon, and along with figuring out my new life, I have to come to terms with either going home (where there just aren't the jobs I am looking for) or figuring out how to unhook my legal residency from my identity.  I am dripping tears as I type this, which is totally ridiculous and also utterly indicative of my feelings on the subject.
Setting my personal churning aside, I have candles lit as a way of recognizing that today matters and making my hope concrete. Please Vote. Please let us - the collective American us - vote from hope, and get the President who will help us towards a more reasoned, peaceful future.
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I am -

- wandering the house in bikini bottoms (red with yellow polka dots) and a black tee shirt. Hopefully my neighbors are not paying attention, since I just walked around - dressed like this - to close all the downstairs curtains (I was wearing the swimsuit under my shorts this morning, since there was possible swimming. It didn't happen, and I haven't bothered to change. I did get tired of the shorts I was wearing).

- still not sure whether or not Football U won our game today, despite taking the dog downtown to get the mail as fans flowed away from the stadium.

- pleased to have crossed three academic items and two life-maintainence items off the 25 item to do list. There is MUCH more to do this weekend, but at least I did *something.*

- hopeful that I wont cry in my weekly meeting with my advisor on Monday (I have several other things to talk with her about, so may not even have the time). I shared this hope with her and "not crying in meetings" has been added as a metric for measuring my semester progress (I believe it addresses "get oriented to the DBP program"). Have I mentioned my advisor is pretty damn cool?

- looking forward to washing out the dye tomorrow to see how my underpants and dance veil came out. I took the random-dye-squirting approach, since spending a lot of time trying to control something so fluid didn't make sense to me, so the results will be a suprise no matter what.

- tired. I think I am going to bed early - I stayed up way too late three nights this week with the idea that I could sleep in the next mornings. And yeah, I could have but I didn't, and the short nights are catching up with me.

- proud of my mom and dad. Today is their 28th wedding anniversary, and I am glad they still make each other happy.

- jealous. Mom and dad are taking the boat over to H@libut Cove to dine at the fabulous S@ltry with friends, bulldog_ak is holed up on her boat, and TDaC is cruising Prince William Sound with his parents.  When do I get to go boating? I miss the ocean...
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I was angsting hard on Friday night about the fact that my departure for Psychology State was a mere! four! weeks! away!, and then a friend-indeed called and asked me to spend one of those intervening weeks in doolittleville. I said yes, because I can and because I want to help, so will likely fly from here to there and back again for a week at the beginning of August. That conversation ratcheted the anxiety over my schedule up considerably, but also threw my neuroses into a stark light.

My anxiety about going back to Psychology State is essentially academic post-traumatic stress disorder, mixed up with a sense of impending isolation and anticipatory low-level homesickness. I like being in Alaska, and am sad my time here is whooshing by so fast. I have been a busy girl, dividing my energy among lots of projects and people.  This is hard for me, and over the weekend I found myself saying "I just feel like I am doing lots of things, but not doing any of them very well!  I am not spending enough time with my grandmother or the baby! I am not being a good enough friend! I should be a better employee! I am a bad daughter!"  Fortunately when I floated this idea to my parents they assured me that a) I am a good daughter (Mom), and b) this is a grown-up reality, not a symptom of poor choices (Dad).   That second part in particular was very reassuring coming from my dad, who is dutiful by nature.  In that light, I am doing the best I can, and need to remember a series of truisms: life is dynamic; we all have finite time to spend; and sometimes "good enough" is as good as it gets.  My family appreciates the time we spend together, and I see my grandmother at least once a week.  My friends know how to get ahold of me, and no one has said they feel neglected.  The people I work with seem pleased with my productivity thus far, even if it is imperfect, and I still have time to do more.  And, none of these relationships - personal or professional - will come crashing to a halt on August 17.  Summer is ending, but it will come around again, with lupines and fireweed cycling past.  In the meantime, time passes no matter how I am spending it, so I need to take a deep breathe, try and get enough sleep, and Be. Here. Now.
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So, my parents are going to a wedding out of state and I am in charge of their house and dogs for the next week.

I was out at their place last night for dinner, and failed at my assigned geekery (they need a server set up, their wireless printer reconnected to both computers, and the wireless internet secured. I couldn't even get the printer to work).  I made some joke about being the kid who throws a party when her parents go away for the weekend, to drink their booze and lure some geeks over.  Instead of laughing it off, my mom heartily endorsed the idea and then started counting beds on her fingers ("okay, two twin beds in the guest room, your sister's room is open, yours too - obviously, and then our room...").  So not only does she think me throwing a party in their absence is a-okay, she is endorsing a co-ed slumber party (well, so long as her computers get fixed).  She also suggested that a weekend house party in Homer would be great, if we wanted to haul all the computer bits down there and set up the network/printers/etc.

I am amused.  Obviously I am not 17 anymore (and 17 was a BAD YEAR at our house), and it's fun to see how far my relationship with my folks has come.

(I cannot in good conscience invite people over to put them to work doing tech support, so this will likely remain a silly fantasy of my mother's.  On the other hand, if anyone local feels like volunteering, I will feed you!)
redzils: (Default)
Summer is passing, at a rate I can't quite understand.

I arrived in Alaska mid-May, with three gorgeous, unstructured months ahead of me.  It felt like eternity, in the best possible way: endless hours with friends, time to soak up Alaska's uniquely precious outdoors, and seeing my family without a plane ticket breathing "hurry up and enjoy this!"

Somehow it is July.  My endless summer is half over, the lupines fading and the fireweed beginning to bloom.

I am partial to lupines and they say  "youth" in my personal language of flowers.  One of my favorite pictures from my childhood is baby Redzils toddling through a patch of lupines, grinning, with her red-gold ringlets swaying in the breeze.  They aren't spring flowers, exactly, but they bloom in early summer and fade away gradually.  Watching the bank of soft purple lupines which adorn the hill across from TDaC's driveway fade from brilliant purple to almost purple, with the greenery reasserting itself, cues me that nothing stays the same. 

Around here, the striking pink-red fireweed appears later.  The flowers open from the bottom up, over time, and when the top pods burst, with white seed cotton bursting free, winter is almost here.  Fireweed herald the return of termination dust, when Alaska's short green season ends, the land fades to a crimson brown, and snow settles over everything.  I don’t get to see Alaska's marvelous, albeit short, fall anymore - I am back east by then, turning my attention to school.  And seeing the fireweed bloom, with more pink blossoms bursting free each day, reminds me that fall and my new academic life are coming.

I have not been eating healthily or going to the gym, despite prior assertions.  I have been spending my time and energy on the people I care about, forging new relationships and trying to bolster old ones. I am enmeshing myself in the dance community here, trying to perform well at work, and spending the time I can find with friends and family (that full time job thing really gets in the way).  I figure the fall, when I am back to living a spartan life, eating my own cooking and waking up at the same time every day, is soon enough to start worrying about calories and lifting weights.  Right now I am too busy eating Thai food with my friends, staying up late and sleeping ridiculous hours, and trying to say "Yes!" to every good idea that comes along.

I don’t want summer to end. I am not ready, but I am slowly realizing that I don’t have to be. My endless summer is only halfway gone.  I still have almost a month and a half left, and I mean to make the most of it.  I bought new roller-blades, and the current plan is to get outside and skate as often as I can, rather than attempting to lure myself into a hot, stinky aerobics room at the local gym.  I am going to embrace the craziness of my summer and soak it all up, to inoculate me from the ennui of fall.  And I have to remember: this fall will be different from the four before it. The Wicked Witch of the South East doesn't control my academic destiny anymore, I am going to be living alone in a fabulous house, and dancing a lot. It will still be far from home, and maybe lonely, but ... as always, the good news (and the bad news) is that nothing stays the same.
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Another nice, leisurely day in Homer.  We spent much of the day tripping to Seldovia, to watch the Independence Day festivities and (for my parents) explore the area.  While they drove out towards Jakalof, I read a trashy romance novel (in its entirety) on the porch of the Jolting Java and people watched.  The crowd was marvelously diverse, and about half the (very plentiful) dogs were golden retrievers.

We took the scenic route back, tracing the shoreline across the bay before heading in.  I love seeing sea otters drifting and watching the mountains.  Like small planes, boats tend to put me to sleep, so I curled up behind my dad and dozed as we returned to the harbor.  It was a really nice day on the water, and a good day with my parents.

A friend of my mom's has a daughter a couple years older than me, and her mother (my mom's friend) knocks herself out scheduling entertainment when the girl (also a student, still) is home.  Some of the activities sound like fun, but it has a frantic edge to it.  Her return is heralded as remarkable, and she is "company." I much prefer being "family," even if I don't get to go horseback riding.  I am very grateful for the easy relationship I have developed with my parents over the last few years. There are still topics we don't visit, but we can happily spend time together and enjoy the comfortable quirkiness of our inside jokes and long history.

We came back to the house, and Mom and I collapsed onto the sofa for half an hour while Dad ran out to the Kachemak Gear Shed to buy fishing gear for tomorrow's halibut trip (I am not going...).  Mom was astounded that he thought the store would be open for the fourth of July, but it was - in a "Quaint Drinking Village with a Fishing Problem," no marine store dares close during fishing season. 

I spent the rest of the evening at M's house, eating barbeque with belly dancers. We got into a productive conversation about what it takes to teach belly dance, and the responsibility of instructors to help new dancers have great performing experiences (i.e. prevent those "ohmigod, throwablanketoverher" experiences).  We all agreed that as a community we are responsible to and for one another, and then derailed into a conversation about physical therapy.  The only non-dancer in the room was a physical therapist and apparently sleeping with my arms over my head (the latest trend) is Very Bad.  Doing anything that inflames the shoulder joint is Very Bad, because, according to my new expert, I am making a chronic condition acute.  To make the bad shoulder better, I need to have all the inflammation go down, so I can then stretch and strengthen effectively.  So, I can either stop doing anything that causes inflammation (including dancing, sleeping, and sitting at a computer) , or I can do the anti-inflammatory/ice thing.  Neither appeals at the moment, although I am going to try and change the things I do which hurt it, and then in the fall I think I will hit Fantastic Jen (my trusted dance teacher/PT) up for a more aggressive program.

Now I am back at the house, waiting for the television to go off so I can unfold the sofa bed and crash.  My dad is going fishing in the morning with a friend and his family, but I have opted to stay in town with my mom.  We have big plans to do small things, and it should be lovely.
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I am in Homer.  My drive was fine, although it feels weird to do a trip of that length without at least one mammal panting on me and needing to stop for pee breaks at tennis ball friendly places.

There was a black bear in the Girdwood Tesoro parking lot, so essentially I stopped for a Coke and got a free bear encounter.

Text messaging appears to get all wonky going over the pass, and I am not sure it ever started working again.  [profile] learethak, [personal profile] crisavec, etc, if you got multiples or messages that seem out of synch, blame AT&T.

The boringest part was between Kasilof and Anchor Point, as the light started to fade and the terrain dulled.

Four years of life on the interstate highway system, with occasional forays onto the Washington-Baltimore beltway, have made me much more comfortable stomping on the gas to pass unwieldy trucks, boats, and general lollygaggers. When I started driving back and forth to Fairbanks in college, passing any cars at all required pep talks, white knuckles, and hastily summoned courage.  Now passing pairs of semis just requires a dotted line.

Coming down the hill into Homer, looking out over the spit, the bay, the mountains, and the glaciers, is always breathtaking.  It's a high overcast tonight, and the light is fading to blue.  All the blue (sky, ocean, clouds, sky) and white (snow caps of mountains, glaciers, reflections on the water, clouds) is amazing, and even the air feels special.

Kiska was delighted to see me and did the yip-while-bouncing-in-circles thing.  My mom came out on the porch to say hello, and looked deliciously at home in her bathrobe, surrounded by her daisies. They took our older dog in for a "haircut" and she got shaved - all her fur is about a half inch long and there is a stupid green kerchief around her neck.  She looks very foolish.

There is a momma moose with a baby in the brush alongside the driveway, and they browsed probably 30 feet away as I unpacked the car.

It is good to be here.  Tomorrow should be great fun, as I visit the weir site and dance with the Shiverring Gypsies for the first time in a year.
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If I spin around in my office chair and AC spins around in his, we can wave at each other through his open office door.  He is both a colleague, now, and an old family friend.  He was half of the duo that broke my sister's arm playing volleyball years ago, and I have known him since I was probably seven or eight years old. 

Apparently AC and my dad were in charge of making sure there was salmon for the rehearsal dinner at my uncle's wedding several years ago. Andy was getting nervous as the date approached, and they had no salmon.  Being a clever problem-solver, he broached the idea of going down to one of the canneries to buy fish or contracting with another friend who runs a meat packing plant.

Apparently my dad explained that, "We Zils aren't very religious, AC, but if we had a religion it would be organized around the idea that you never pay money for fish." 

I love this story because it captures so many utterly true things about my dad.  And this is why eating store-bought Copper River salmon for dinner last night was so weird  - I have never bought salmon at the grocery store.  Fish comes out of bodies of water, not in plastic wrap.
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Small town life, part whatever.

I left my wallet in my dance bag last night, and didn't bring a lunch today.  I realized all this about lunchtime and borrowed a dog to walk the ten minutes to my aunt and uncle's house, let myself in with my handy key, and ate a tomato sandwich assembled out of their refrigerator while their dogs frolicked in the backyard with the loaner dog.  This is good.
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Am in Balmer.

People here are paranoid and there are no unsecured wireless networks, thus I am typing this on my cousin's husband's old computer. 

The baby is darling, his mother is well, the dogs are crazy, etc. I am trying to be a low maintenance houseguest, and mostly succeeding. 

Our only not-making-life-easier bit so far is that Kiska keeps eating the sick kitty's special tuna slurry. I want her to stop, but it is pureed tuna fish in a dish on the floor, so anytime I take my attention off Kis for a moment she disappears to slurp it down.  Hopefully the kitty will get some tomorrow, and Kiska will quit with the sneaking. (Note: yeah, I know. She is a dog.  And, don't tell her, but I secretly admire her deviousness.  She is so "Barbie's Dream Dog" in some ways, that having her act out reassures me she was not made by Mattel).

I am still happy about the job news, mad about the advisor, and unsure where I am living next year. 

I need to do my thesis stuff tomorrow.  Additional plans include vacuuming (notable mostly because I hate vacuuming and rarely do it at my own house), and whatever baby help I can manage.

It is really good to be with my cousin and outta Dodge.
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I am here, things are fine.  I got my car back - $2500 later - and it seems to be working well.  I got a new (used) engine, which means I got a new clutch, which means I am suddenly the one who cant drive my own (manual transmission) car smoothly.  I'm sure my foot will get it down shortly, but it is amazing how much muscle memory dominates those simple physical processes.

I am tired, to the point that I came home from picking up my car and slid into bed with a book.  I slept about an hour, then spent another forty minutes convincing myself that what I really needed to do was get out of bed.  I still havent made it further than the kitchen for a cup of tea and the bathroom to tug on yoga pants, but will be venturing out to dance here soon.

I also just offered to drive six hours to Baltimore and stay with my cousin during the week that her husband will be in Ohio and her in-laws in the guest room.  This means I am volunteering to sleep on their too short sofa and spend my whole visit insulating her from the extraordinarily awful mother-in-law.  It sounds like no fun at all, but damn, she is two weeks post-partum and I figure it would be my good deed for the decade (i.e. the evil mother-in-law is not related to me, so I can tell her to be quiet, get her sticky fingers off other people's belongings, stop complaining about the food she didn't cook, etc).  This has been my job a few other times, and I do it fairly well.  Sometimes it requires medicinal vodka (mostly for my cousin), but since she is presumably breast-feeding and sleep-deprived, other coping mechanisms may become very, very important
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I love my family.

I just got a box from them. It contained a heart shaped cardboard box of chocolate; a packet of super-organic muesli; a four pack of half-size sharpies; some candles; a tin of gypsy tea (my inner packrat loves the tins at least as much as the rest of me likes the tea); a tube of  "Sensual Showers Jasmine Body Wash;" and some cards.

My dad actually signed his own card this year.  He wrote: "We wish you were closer and are very happy your East Coast experience is coming to an end. Looking forward to your return." My mom wrote "I hate being so far away from you - especially on holidays . . . I would love be close enough to meet you for coffee, make you dinner when you were too busy to di it for yourself, and go to yoga with you . . ." The overall message of the box was, Hurry Up and Come Home. 

I am touched, and also amused at the juxtaposition of the muesili and the chocolate, as well as receiving "Sensual" anything from my folks.  It definitely made me smile...
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Yesterday, 16 months after the borough where my mom teaches freaked out and decided to stop participating in my research, they finally unblocked my email from their server.  I think I am officially still a persona-non-grata (Evil! She is evil!), but the old friends network came through and (as this audience knows) one tech person with the right passwords wields a lot of unofficial power.  I can now email my own mother from my main email address.  What a concept, huh?  (I actually found the whole thing pretty funny, in a 'beaurocrats-will-be-assholes-beaurocrats' sort of way, but it made my mother crazy).
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Since I got my webcam, I have talked to the baby every single day.  This is good, and also so bizarre.  I wonder what it will be like for her to grow up assuming that videoconferencinig is an everyday fact and thousands of miles is no excuse for not talking face to face.

ETA: We are all crazy.  First I showed off the cat, since I thought Mara would like her. Then they decided they had to hold their German short haired pointer in camera view.  So then I picked up Kiska to show of her tee-shirt.  The barking (from their end) and camera crashing over again and again (from here, where it balances on a file folder on top of a lamp, in a tangle of cords) were really something, but what else would I expect from Casa de Chaos.
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Dear Family,

I love you very much.   You can tell this because I spent hours last night sitting at the airport waiting for your flight, so I could hand you your down coats as you walked through the gate and take your carry ons away.  I was even relatively glad to be your driver, despite your 3 am arrival (revised from 1:11 am, but not 'til I was at the airport).  However, on any day I go to bed at 5 am (after, say, getting home late from the airport), making me get up at 10 am to entertain company is CRUEL AND UNUSUAL.

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I am typing this from Casa de Chaos, at the dining room table.  It I look ahead, there is a brown German short haired pointer sitting in a wing chair.  There are three golden retrievers at my feet, and a TV program featuring a singing sloth on the TV across the room.  Mara is sitting cross-legged on kitchen counter eating butter and supposedly helping Mimi cook eggs.

I am sipping black tea with two heaping spoonfulls of sugar and a generous slug of Half & Half.  There are feet of snow on the ground outside, and dozens of chickadees, red-polls, and other birds eating seed off the back porch railing and patio table.

I am tired, since I had to get up early to fetch Mimi from her mechanic's, and a bit out of sorts.  But I am also grateful for these blessings and sad that I will be leaving them behind in six more days.
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I have not sold either of my parent's dogs on Ebay, despite the obvious temptation.

Eventually I whapped one of them with a rolled up JAP article, which still amuses me.  'If you dont behave I am going to get the Journal of Applied Psychology out, and then, buster, you'll have something to cry about!'  It didn't hurt her, but the noise got her attention.  And, since then, she has shut up.  FINALLY.  If only I had figured that out, say, eight hours sooner. 

I went out to breakfast this morning at my favorite cafe because the dogs and I needed an outing, fast.  Then I came home and worked a bit, fell unconscious for an hour, and ate a turkey sandwich.  This being grounded is REALLY BORING.  I know I need to work fast so I can get it over with, but am reminded why sitting at the computer for days on end is just not a good way to get things done.

Anyone want to make a plan to do something fun?  It would give me something to look forward to, and maybe that would help me work fast.  I am getting desperate here....


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