Saturday, November 22, 2014

Family Food Traditions

Tonight we had a pre-Thanksgiving meal with Abe's dad and his girlfriend (we have similar dinner plans with his mom for Monday), as we're spending Thanksgiving day with my family. (Our plan is alternate - each side gets one of the major holidays - Thanksgiving and Christmas - each year, and alternate who gets which. His parents are divorced, but fortunately both live in the area, actually both within a 5-mile radius of us, so it's not difficult to share between them, the way it is with my family and relatives spread throughout Washington state.)

So that means his family gets Christmas, and we were discussing some details of Christmas day while at their house tonight. Abe asked what we should bring, and I piped up that I'd bring Nanaimo bars. Though my family has a handful of cookies that we tend to have for Christmas, Nanaimo bars are an absolute MUST! I thought it'd be fun to try to bring that in to my in-laws traditions.

Along with today's NaBloPoMo prompt, this got me thinking about other holiday food traditions. Since I've been vegetarian since high school, the turkey centerpiece doesn't hold much meaning for me (I ate it previously, but it wasn't ever one of my favorite things). I also have a thing with textures, especially anything along the mushy spectrum, so I've also not been a fan of stuffing. Holiday meals, to me, mostly mean three things: rolls, mashed potatoes, and desserts. For Thanksgiving, that dessert is obviously pumpkin pie (the filling's fine, but crust combined with whipped cream is amazing!* For Christmas, it's all about the cookies. Nanaimo bars, hello dollies, spritz, meringues. 

*FYI, my FIL's girlfriend is gluten-free, and the pumpkin pie at tonight pre-Thanksgiving dinner included a premade gluten-free crust from Whole Foods - if I hadn't known it was gluten-free because everyone at the table was eating it, I never would have guessed. If you need a GF crust, I highly recommend it.

Almost more important to me for Thanksgiving is the day after, at least when we're with my mom's side of the family: we get pizza on the Friday after. One year I had a big disappointment, as I spend Thanksgiving with an ex's family, and we went up to join my side the next day. I'd told him about the traditional pizza, and we were both looking forward to it. Our dismay, my family was trying to be nice and held a second Thanksgiving-type dinner for us instead! I think that's probably the most disappointed I've ever been at a holiday meal.

What would be the biggest food disappointment for you on a holiday?

Friday, November 21, 2014

Wedding Crap: The Veil

(See introduction to this series here, and other posts in the series here.)

Disclaimers:

1. This is merely a hobby, so I'm not going to great lengths of research to find the most accurate information possible about the history of these traditions. I am trying to verify information to some degree to avoid continuing the spread of non-facts, but mostly this is a summary of the general consensus I've heard through out my life. Ultimately, I think how we treat these traditions has just as much to do with what we believe to be the origin of them, as the actual origin.

2. I am not trying to demean anyone who has chosen to partake in any of the traditions discussed. My goal is to spark discussion about what the history of these things mean to us today, how changing our language and treatment of traditions can affect our culture now, and, ideally, encourage anyone who wants to follow wedding traditions to do so as a conscious choice, not merely as a default that honors our patriarchal past.

wedding veil

What is the tradition? 

During the ceremony (but often removed for the reception), the bride's outfit includes a veil. Depending on the venue (e.g., church versus golf course), religion, family culture, and other factors such as personal preferences and style, this may range from a full, cathedral length veil, extending as a train on the floor, to a fascinator with a short mesh hanging over one's forehead, and anywhere in between.

What is the origin of the tradition?

There is a long history of women wearing veils in general society, not just at weddings, so ultimately it appears to me that the significance is one of separating women from men, as being held to higher standards of modesty, and possibly even showing ownership (i.e., only males who are related to you should see your face). 

Within weddings specifically, the veil tradition evolved to take on additional meaning. In ancient times, it may have been intended to protect the bride from evil spirits. In times of arranged marriages, it may indeed have prevented the groom from seeing the bride and being disappointed while he still had an out. In times of strong Christian culture, it likely became a symbol of purity and virginity, along with the white dress.

Why do people still follow it?

Similarly to the dress, the veil has been built up in people's mind as the epitome of womanhood; the ultimate signifier that this woman is a bride. If you've ever watched a show like Say Yes to the Dress (I'll ashamedly admit to this), you know that if a shopper is hesitating, the consultants add a veil, and that often does the trick - you make you feel like a bride, and she'll buy everything that makes her look like that role.

There may also be a religious/purity aspect to it still in some cases, but fortunately I think that's becoming less and less common, in all but the most extreme subcultures.

Why is that crap? 

Women wearing veils is ultimately based on separating women from society, and then the purity/virginity implications make it even worse. Even if you don't personally hold the beliefs under which the tradition developed, why unintentionally pay homage to those beliefs?

Plus, it generally covers up the pretty hairdo (and often a gorgeous back of a dress) you spend so much money and/or time on!

What am I doing with this tradition?

I had absolutely no interest in wearing a veil, so I didn't! I didn't want to feel like a "bride", but rather the dressiest/classiest version of myself. My dress was accessorized just with a pearl necklace (made by my mom) and a fancy-ish, curly hairstyle. 


Photo by Stephanie Kaloi

How did/will you handle this tradition?

I would love to have a lively debate and conversation in the comments! Please join in!

Dissenting opinions (from the post itself or other commenters) are welcome, but I reserve the right to delete any comments that personally attack me or any other commenter.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Would You Rather

From Running in Real Life - from a while ago, but it was sitting in my drafts, and I don't have much time left in the day to write something else.

1. Run a race at -10 degrees with slushy roads or 85 degrees with the sun beating down?

85 degrees for sure. I can barely handle running in 30 degrees! I'm sure one gets used to cold weather if you're in it regularly, but even though I don't enjoy running in hot weather, at least I do it often enough to have some idea of how to handle it.

2. Wear running clothes that are way too tight or running clothes that are way too loose?

Too loose, so long as it's pants and not shorts, as loose shorts would cause terrible chafing on my thighs.

3. Have really big upper body muscles or really big lower body muscles? (The kicker here is that whatever you don't choose is super puny.)

Well, since this is sort of a running survey, I guess big lower body muscles, to better facilitate running!

4. Travel to the past to meet your great, great grandparents or to the future to meet your great, great grandchildren?

Hmmm. I think to the past to meet my great, great grandparents, because it's never good to know too much about you future.

5. Watch your favorite sporting event on a nice big TV or watch your favorite sporting event in person but in really crappy seats?

Let's substitute "show" (music or theater) for "sporting event" (since I really don't have a favorite sporting event to watch), and I'd say watch it on a big TV. I'd rather be able to see more detail on the performer's face, than have the experience in person.

Your turn:

1. Run a race at -10 degrees with slushy roads or 85 degrees with the sun beating down?

2. Wear running clothes that are way too tight or running clothes that are way too loose?

3. Have really big upper body muscles or really big lower body muscles? (The kicker here is that whatever you don't choose is super puny.)

4. Travel to the past to meet your great, great grandparents or to the future to meet your great, great grandchildren?

5. Watch your favorite sporting event on a nice big TV or watch your favorite sporting event in person but in really crappy seats?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Toastmasters: Quote of the Day - Thanksgiving

My role for today's Toastmasters meeting was the Quote of the Day, on the theme of "Thanksgiving". 

I considered going with quotes about a more traditional Thanksgiving:
I celebrated Thanksgiving in an old-fashioned way. I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house, we had an enormous feast, and then I killed them and took their land. - Jon Stewart
Thanksgiving Day, a function which originated in New England two or three centuries ago when those people recognized that they really had something to be thankful for - annually, not oftener - if they had succeeded in exterminating their neighbors, the Indians, during the previous twelve months instead of getting exterminated by their neighbors, the Indians. Thanksgiving Day became a habit, for the reason that in the course of time, as the years drifted on, it was perceived that the exterminating had ceased to be mutual and was all on the white man's side, consequently on the Lord's side; hence it was proper to thank the Lord for it and extend the usual annual compliments. - Mark Twain
However, I figured in the spirit of the holiday (regardless of its origins), I should probably go a little less snarky in public, and found a regular quote that I agree with:
Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving. - W. T. Purkiser

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Brrrrr

Fortunately the 10-day forecast is currently looking more normal for this time of year (highs in the mid-40s to low-50s), but the last week has been crazy! Highs in the low-40s, with some ridiculous winds creating feels-like temps up to ten degrees colder, and lows down into the 20s! Typical winter weather, even into December and January, is more like highs in the upper-30s and lows in the low-30s, so this is ridiculous, especially for November. We usually get a week or so of a cold spell of getting down into the 20s, so I'm curious if this is it for the winter, or if it's going to be in addition to the cold spell that usually happens later on.

As I mentioned in last week's workout recap, I've had a hard time not just curling up on the couch during this cold stretch. I don't feel prepared for running in this! I know, I just said we get it every year, but only for a week, maybe two. The rest of the time it tends to get up to at least 40 during the day for most of the winter, and since I'm an afternoon/early evening runner, I get to take advantage of the warmest part of the day.

I finally, however, went and bought a pair of long running tights - previously I had some capris (which I use for perhaps an overly-broad range of temperatures - from about 40* to 70*) and one pair of fleece-lined pants. The problem with the fleece pants is that they're straight-leg, not tapered, so they let cold air in at the bottom; I bought them anyway, last year, because they came in a "short" length. And yet, I still hemmed them anyway (could have used them at the length they came in, but since cold generally equals rain, the bottoms would have touched the ground and gotten gross). 

So though I might still use those if I ever get myself out the door in 20 degree weather (with knee socks underneath to prevent the draft), for the just-slightly-colder-than-typical 30s-ish I bought a standard pair of running tights - compression, tapered, etc. As I tried them on, I was pondering the best way to hem them (it's difficult, at least with my skill level and machine, to preserve a stretchy hem), as they're a few inches too long (well, probably more than that, I suspect they're supposed to be more "ankle" length; but they're about three inches too long to hit right above my shoe). But luckily they're lightweight enough to just scrunch them up at the bottom, and it's not nearly as much of a nuisance as I expected! And I don't care if it looks dorky, cause, hello, I'm already wearing skin-tight, tapered spandex pants. 

I think I was going to have a point to this post, and discuss winter running clothes. Aside from the long tights - which are particularly important around here, because most of the cold is from wind, not absolute cold temperatures, so one tends to not really need fleece or additional warm layers, just something to block direct skin contact from the wind - it's all about layers. I tend to go with a tank top and long-sleeve (which I'll always push up the sleeves at some point on a run, while in sunny spots, even at freezing temperatures). Gloves, which comes off after the first ten minutes or so. Headband is crucial, as my ears are probably the first thing that feels cold and makes me miserable, even more so than my hands being cold. The headband typically stays on for the entire run, even as I'm taking off long sleeves.

Anyhow, enough rambling. What's your must-have winter running item?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Wedding Crap: The Bouquet

(See introduction to this series here, and other posts in the series here.)

Disclaimers:

1. This is merely a hobby, so I'm not going to great lengths of research to find the most accurate information possible about the history of these traditions. I am trying to verify information to some degree to avoid continuing the spread of non-facts, but mostly this is a summary of the general consensus I've heard through out my life. Ultimately, I think how we treat these traditions has just as much to do with what we believe to be the origin of them, as the actual origin.

2. I am not trying to demean anyone who has chosen to partake in any of the traditions discussed. My goal is to spark discussion about what the history of these things mean to us today, how changing our language and treatment of traditions can affect our culture now, and, ideally, encourage anyone who wants to follow wedding traditions to do so as a conscious choice, not merely as a default that honors our patriarchal past.



What is the tradition? 

The bride carries a bouquet of flowers while walking down the aisle; as does each bridesmaid. During the ceremony, the bride generally hands hers to the maid of honor to hold during the ceremony, so she has her hands free for exchanging rings and such. 

(The bouquet - or a second "toss bouquet" - is often tossed to guests during the reception, but as that goes along with the garter toss, I'll discuss it in a separate post.)

What is the origin of the tradition?

The bride's bouquet began not as bunches of flowers, but bunches of herbs and spice, including dill and garlic. The aromatic bouquets were intended to ward off evil spirits. Eventually it morphed to include flowers, and in the Victorian era each flower was selected for its meaning in the "language of flowers". 

Why do people still follow it?

I think similarly to the dress, a big aspect of it is just it being an unusual extravagance, that can be justified by the Tradition of Weddings, a feeling of participating in a more luxurious existence for a day. 

I've also heard it justified as necessary for the bride to have something to hold, and keep her hands occupied while walking down the aisle, and particularly for the bridesmaid to have something to hold during the ceremony.

Why is that crap?

Actually, in this case, I think it's primarily just a waste of money, more than an indication of a deep-seeded patriarchal issue. Particularly when you've already spent so much money on attire and appearance otherwise, do you really need to add yet another visual element to distract from your expensive look?

Although if women need something to keep their hands occupied - why don't the men?

What am I doing with this tradition?

Nothing whatsoever! No flowers! (Well, it was important to my MIL for the parents to have corsages, so we had those, but nothing else.) We didn't have an aisle to walk down, and during the ceremony we held hands, the microphone, and our notes with what to say. So no need for anything to carry.


Photo by Stephanie Kaloi

How did/will you handle this tradition?

I would love to have a lively debate and conversation in the comments! Please join in!

Dissenting opinions (from the post itself or other commenters) are welcome, but I reserve the right to delete any comments that personally attack me or any other commenter.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Seattle Half Training Week 6 (Peak Week)

Workouts

Monday: Easy run 2.3 miles (14:03 pace)

Saturday: Run 4.25 miles (12:18) - aiming for race effort - not all out, less than tempo, but significantly harder than easy.

Sunday: Long run 10.0 miles (13:29 pace)
1- 5: 12:57, 13:13, 13:11, 12:37, 13:16
6 - 10: 14:28, 14:12, 13:43, 13:35, 13:36

Total running: 16.55 miles

Between choosing to relax hard after finishing a work project for a presentation on Tuesday, and the winter weather that's come early, I've gone into serious hibernation mode this week. It's been difficult to peel myself off the couch for anything productive, much less making myself go out into the cold, windy weather to run. I tried my best to make up for the past week during the weekend though! Haven't done anywhere near the amount of speedwork and longer long runs that I planned to do, but still feeling relatively ok about the upcoming race. Now it's taper time!