Saturday, February 26, 2011

#54 - Eat more veggies!

I know people who truly like eating vegetables ... bell peppers eaten like apples, cherry tomatoes popped into their mouths like jelly beans, deep abiding passion for eggplants ... I am not one of these people.  I wish I was because I know that it would be far easier to eat healthy if I enjoyed a wider variety of vegetables.  (And, yes, I do know that peppers and tomatoes are actually fruits, so don't go all botanical nazi on me). 

So, this goal - to eat some purely vegetable dish every night for two months - was to try to establish the habit of going for the green food while I was making something else to eat as a main dish.  I will admit that I didn't have a lot of variety in what I reached for; I went through lots of packages of frozen broccoli/cauliflower and a fair amount of fresh spinach along with a few other things.  However, I did get the pattern established because last night when my two months were officially over, it seemed entirely natural to have a big plate of spinach with just a little Italian dressing while I was mulling sandwich vs. leftovers as a main course.  And, when I was buying groceries on Thursday, I hit the produce section hard so I would have parsnips and other root vegetables to roast this weekend as well as my stand-by choices for weekdays.

Will the habit last?  I hope so.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

#55 - Giving Blood

Today, I gave blood for the first time in my life.  I have, in the past, vaguely thought that it would be a good pay it forward thing to do sometime, but there has always been some other occupation of the moment that has distracted me from actually doing it.

I had done some internet research a few days ago, so I had an idea of what to expect when I showed up at the bloodmobile.  The physical part was much briefer than I thought it might be ... just hemoglobin count, blood pressure, and temperature.  Most of the prep time was spent answering a long list of questions ... some that were no surprise "have you ever tested positive for AIDS/HIV?" and some that I didn't expect -- I had to give the dates of my trip to England last fall, for example.  The physical layout of the bloodmobile definitely used ALL space available; I felt a bit sorry for the workers who were dancing (in one case literally) around each other as they moved from the front to the back.

Emily, who drew my blood, was great at helping me through the process as a first-timer - telling me what she was doing, when I might like to look away, and covering the needle sticking into my arm while the blood was flowing out.  I could tell that I was nervous ... my blood pressure must have been up because the bag filled swiftly taking less than five minutes when the average fill time ranges from six to ten minutes.  I had expected to feel light-headed at the end, but really felt fine (and slightly relived that I was done) as I drank my orange juice.  And, tonight, I have a purple bandage wrap and three ink dots on my arm as trophies from my experience.

If, like me, you've thought about giving blood, but have never taken the time to make it happen, I'd urge you to try it once.  The statistics on the donor site say that one donation can save three lives.  I've never needed blood, but I have had some people that I'm close to take advantage of blood donations.  I can't say that it was the most fun thing I've done in my life, but the people working there were very kind and professional, and it certainly feels good to be the one who might make a difference in a family's lives.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

What sort of snowmen do you want to make when you grow up?

This weekend is the Winter Festival where I live.  I will admit that I am more than a bit curmudgeony about many of the events because the weekend brings a fair amount of extra work for me in the non-library portion of my job.  However, I love going to the park to see the snow sculptures.  It's hard to do them justice in a photo because of the lack of background contrast, and (in this morning's case) it often seems to be snowing when I have the time to go and see them.  Here are a few of my favorites from this year ...

The unicorn
I have to admire the technical skill that it took to get up on a ladder to carve out the horn ... unfortunately with the first melt, this sculpture will turn into a somewhat deformed horse.
Another one that's interesting to me in the skill required ... look at all of that empty air under the horn and how everything counterbalances ... plus it's fun to see a season other than winter or summer represented as those two predominate in the carvings.

 To give you an idea of scale, those blue things are ice candles made from 5 gallon pails, and, yes, they are lit for night viewing.  It's very pretty to see the park at night with all of the candles glowing and spotlights picking out some of the sculptures.

I like the fact that this team chose to use some of their extra snow to make a sign for the main sculpture ... though the carvings are labeled through the festival weekend, they can last for several weeks if the weather cooperates and it's nice for people who didn't get to see them at first to have a title.  Also, the Mesabi East Orchestra was performing Peter and the Wolf this weekend, and it's great to see a nod between artistic entities!
The octopus
Sea creatures always seem to be included for some reason ... not sure why, maybe we're all just longing to go to the beach this time of year!
This is a detail from the largest sculpture which was based on Howard Sivertson illustrations (the man is not quite life-sized) ... if you've ever seen the painting of the cow in the canoe, it was included but I couldn't get a good angle for a picture as the number of people in the park at that point was rapidly increasing.  The big carving is always interesting; my favorite from past years was the engine of imagination - Einstein was driving and Schroedinger's cat was along for the ride.

So, since there's plenty of snow this year for raw materials ... perhaps we should all get inspired by these talented artists and go out to make some snowmen!