Tag Archives: my legs are the most Irish thing about me


1. The beef stroganoff I made for Dan’s birthday was a success! At least, he and Steve pretended to like it. What I made turned out to be more of a beef bourignon because I used red wine instead of white. No fancy-pants cream of mushroom soup for my man! Instead, I used nonfat greek yogurt, a little bit of cream and butter, and a lot of seasoning. I didn’t really like cooking the beef (mostly because it made the house smell like cooked beef) and I managed to figure out a way to cook the mushrooms and onions separately so I only ate that part and not the beef part. The rest of the dinner was egg noodles (a must with beef stroganoff), a salad, and a fantastic chocolate cake, the recipe for which I will post tomorrow.

Dan said he had a good birthday, so that’s what matters. I gave him a nerdy t-shirt designed by Wil Wheaton, a copy of Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, and a bottle of fancy Jameson’s Irish Whiskey.

2. My leg is having sympathy pain this week or something. I woke up yesterday morning with a nasty charlie horse in the same spot where I tore my calf muscle last year. Today is the one-year anniversary of that injury, so yesterday I took it easy in the class where I had the initial injury and it was OK. You’d think that my leg would have gotten it together to heal completely in a year, but it hasn’t – I still have days where it hurts or aches, and there’s still a funky divot when I flex my calf muscle in a certain way. Here’s your lesson, kids: don’t tear your calf muscle. It sucks and won’t heal for a really, really long time.

3. Let’s just say Project Hott is not going anyplace fast. I looked at the photos from my friend’s party again for additional motivation and it just made me feel worse. It hasn’t helped that my leg has been bugging me all week and that I can’t do all of the abs portion of my classes because I’ve been having nasty vertigo for a few weeks now (Sunday was the worst; I had blurred vision and felt like I was falling-down drunk after we were out walking around the neighborhood taking photos, which is why we had to go home and didn’t get more accomplished). Doctor Google tells me that there are three possibilities for why I’m getting this oh-so-fun sensation, and in all three cases the solution/cure is “wait and it will eventually go away.”

Sorry I’m not all sunshine and rainbows coming out of my butt. I guess everybody has bad weeks. (Also, work stuff. I’m not even going there.)

The one really good thing that happened this week, though, was that I reconnected with an old friend who I’d lost touch with (from the same site where I met Dan). He’s living in LA, working on films, was teaching high school for a while, and seems to be in a much better headspace than he was five years ago. (He even ran the Great Wall marathon with only two months of training! That is some serious business.) Once upon a time we were pretty tight, so it’s nice feeling like I have my friend back again.

Grace in small things (because I haven’t done this in a while)

1. Spoons.
2. Friend gave birth yesterday, 3 weeks early but now she no longer has pre-eclampsia.
3. Videos of Wombat and Spats.
4. Head rubs.
5. Husbands having good birthdays.


May Day

I have always loved May Day. Spring is my favorite time of year, and the tiny town in which I grew up had a community May Day festival on the Sunday closest to the first of May every year. It was held on private land, but everyone was welcome. There was always delicious food being sold, and a brass Dixie-style band with a bunch of old men playing instruments, people dancing, pony rides for little kids, and tons of games suitable for kids of all ages. There would always be ice cream or popsicles available if it happened to be a hot day, and sometime in the late afternoon, the volunteer fire department would bring their trucks and hoses and have a stand-off with the volunteer fire department with the next town over, using their hoses to try to force a giant ball on a wire over to the other side.

And oh, to be a third grader, because third grade meant you learned how to dance the May Pole dance. I looked forward to that honor for YEARS, imagining what I might wear, how my hair would be done, and what color ribbon I’d get to dance with. It was always my favorite part of May Day, even better than watching the firemen prove their masculinity, girls whirling pretty colored skirts amongst boys in their dressy finery, all dancing to the same music every year, and by the end of the dance the Maypole was dressed in its finery as well. Girls also got to wear wreaths of flowers made by a community member, with ribbons hanging down the back. I couldn’t wait to wear one.

Third grade came eventually (actually, sooner for me than most because I skipped second) and we spent recesses in April learning how to do the May Pole dance. We started with the steps and order of the dance, learning how to dance around one another, and moved on to holding thin ropes stemming from the top of a regular pole. By the end of April we were practicing with actual ribbons, and we’d all memorized our parts. It became a very important thing that year to determine which color ribbon one would have – the most prized colors being pinks and purples for girls, and the boys desperately hoping they wouldn’t end up with a girl color. In my heart of hearts I didn’t care what color I got – I was just excited to get to participate – but of course I joined in with the rest of the girls, moaning about how the world would end if I got an ugly color.

May Day finally arrived that year. It was 1987 and I had recently turned eight years old. I wore a pretty blouse and skirt, and I got to pick out a flower wreath for my hair, and I cannot for the life of me remember what color ribbon I ended up with. I remember performing the dance, and seeing how beautiful the pole looked afterward, a rainbow of colors woven together. It turned out the buildup to the event was far more significant than the event itself; I had a good time, but I didn’t even feel any sort of a letdown afterward, and after the pole was danced I probably got some food and went over to watch the Battle of the Shirtless Firemen.

As I’ve mentioned many times, Colorado’s weather can be mighty unpredictable, especially in the spring. For the past week or so it’s been relatively warm and nice, with a bit of snow last weekend while the sun was out (an oddity in itself). Yesterday was sunny and then overcast, but warm all day long. Today it is snowing. This morning, it was snowing large ploofs, cotton balls falling from the sky, as I lay on the (new! comfy!) couch and looked out the window. I’m not sick, but I had an accident at the gym yesterday that left me with a (probably pulled/strained, possibly torn) calf muscle that has put me out of commission. At the time, it felt like someone had punched me in the leg with a heavy hand weight. I felt a snap or pop sensation, and then searing pain. I got a charlie horse in the same leg in the same class last week and thought it a fluke, but I guess my leg hadn’t fully recovered. This time it’s making me stay down. Someone from the gym gave me a ride home after I hobbled around for a while in tears because it hurt so bad, because I was angry at my leg for betraying me, because I knew if I sat down it might make the leg worse. But eventually I knew it would be best if I went home and put it up and iced it. I couldn’t walk, I scared the cats when I got home still in tears and ambulating like quasimodo. Three advil, some ice, and a few hours of rest later, it was still painful to the touch or when I moved it, but not constant agony.

This morning as I gingerly tested my leg’s abilities, I determined that I’d rather stay off it for a whole day, giving it a chance to rest and recover, so I’m more likely to be able to walk on Saturday. There’s an event I need to be able to walk around all day for, and if I’d gotten up and tried to walk to work/home/etc. today, the leg would have given me what for. So today I am lazy, relaxing on the couch, watching nerd movies and glancing at the wet snow hurtling itself down from the sky. Twenty-one years later, I am not dancing on this May Day. Maybe next year.

My little toe and part of my spleen are Irish

Thanks for all the lovely birthday wishes, everybody. I ended up having a really good birthday. I went to breakfast, read some of a new book I bought (The Namesake), took my yoga class and felt really good afterward, ran some errands, and went out to dinner with Dan at a really nice restaurant to which we had a $50 gift certificate, so the meal was half the price (we ordered a bottle of wine).

The weekend felt sort of like an extended birthday celebration. I got to eat some things I almost never eat (like my favorite cheese, Irish Dubliner) and Dan made me a birthday cake last night (apple spice with penuche icing, SO YUMMY). We crossed almost everything left on our to-do-before-the-wedding list and just have a couple of things left. On more than one occasion, I found myself saying, “I should be working on something” but didn’t know what that something might be. I wonder if that feeling will stick around for a while after all this wedding stuff is over.

Yesterday, as we walked back from the grocery store (tortilla chips for guac, apples, and split peas in hand) we had a little discussion about why it is that so many people with the ability to claim even a droplet of Irish or Italian blood say they are Irish (or Italian). I’m sure it has something to do with the historical issues in this country with being Irish or Italian (I mean, at one point, THEY were the ones people were prejudiced against). But if you’re 5th generation Irish (or Italian), why aren’t you just *American*? Why don’t Americans feel like claiming that as their ancestry is good enough?

I know that my mother’s maternal grandmother was 100% Irish (from Ireland, a Sheehan) and her grandfather was part Spanish and part something else. There’s Irish on my dad’s side, too, though I think not as easy to trace. If you add up all of the Irish in me from both sides it’s probably about 20-25%. As far as I know, no Italian. Lots of German, some Swiss and some English and some Dutch. How I ended up looking as I do is somewhat of a mystery (the brown hair from the Spanish great-great grandmother, the olive skin that tans easily from the southern German on my dad’s side), and I’ve had people ask me if I was Italian or Spanish or Israeli and one time someone thought I was Persian. But you know what? Even though I know a bit of the history of my blood and what countries the people who supplied my genetics, all those generations back, I don’t consider myself anything but American. Even on St. Patrick’s day. I am wearing green, but I’d likely do that anyway.