Saturday, April 26, 2008

Seven Veils and Asparagus

Ah, the plethora of springtime opportunities in a small Southern town!

We had a new farmers' market kickoff today, so I went up to stroll around a bit. I even took my "look, I'm green!" shoulder bag with me. That turned out to be a wise move - I left with a number of locally-grown items, some of which (like a butterfly bush) wouldn't fit in the bag in the first place. I also scored a couple of lovely pork chops - that was unexpected. I was set for veggies and fruit, but not protein.

By the way - I may have any number of sins staining my soul, but I'm no hypocrite. I like meat and yes, I know exactly where it comes from and that little piggie was probably gamboling around a pen just a few days ago. I'm okay with that for you see, when I was but a fledgling li'l Mockingbird, my father raised hogs and Angus cattle so I got the whole "circle of life" thing at quite a young age. That'll happen when you both bury kittens and help a colt get born.

But back to the topic at hand.

I love farmers' markets. I like talking with the folks who grew what I'm going to be planting, cooking, or otherwise enjoying. I like petting the dogs who are checking everything out with their owners - Spooky stayed home today - she's in the final stages of planning a climb up the east face of K2 and couldn't really be disturbed, even for locally-grown Swiss chard. And this was also the day of an arts festival, so I got to browse through painted gourd birdhouses and listen to hammered dulcimer music.

Then, it was off to the Y for another attempt at introducing exercise into my life. I'm getting better at it, thanks to friends who expect me to show up. Today, we tried something new - exercise through belly dancing. Tremendous fun - hip shot, figure 8, kick, and circle! Again. Now add the arms! And s-t-r-e-t-c-h and kick. Now the hips again! While I'm in no danger of being mistaken for a transplanted desert flower, I did at least okay.

But I want finger cymbals!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Red Carpets and Sharpie Pens!

It's done! Yes, folks - the book is finally, officially "launched." Last night, the college hosted a reading and reception for the book, which is something I've never been a part of before. There had been a bit in the local paper and an interview on the local news channel. There were posters and announcements. And it all came together last night.

Okay, there wasn't really a red carpet - but there was nearly everything else.

It was sort of like playing at being a rock star for a couple of hours. Well, a hyper-literate rock star, anyway. People are glad to see you and listen with thoughtful looks on their faces to what you have to say. Students actually take notes. The audience asks questions and listens to the answers. Later, they stand around eating little nibbly-thingies, discussing ideas that they got from your presentation and (biggest of wows!) they stand in line to talk to you for a minute or two. You smile and ask how to spell their names and brandish a Sharpie pen, sort of wondering how you got here, but liking it an awful lot. And even though you know it's not exactly "real life" and that tomorrow, you'll be back to your work-a-day life, by golly, you're determined to enjoy it at the time!

Highlights included: my parents making the trek down here and being a part of the celebration; the badge one of my friends made for me with the book's cover on it and "Author" printed on it; the representative of the Charlotte Browncoats who not only came for the presentation but was wildly promoting the upcoming "Can't Stop the Serenity" event; and students saying to me, "You know, I sort of liked it." Students don't say that if they don't mean it; they just slip out and leave.

I think that's worth a night off, don't you?

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Endorphin Rush!

By its very nature, writing is a sedentary occupation - people most often sit in order to write. True, there have been a few who soak in a tub when they write, but their lives are often marked by sorrow (see Agatha Christie) and often, they come to a bad end (see Jean-Paul Marat), mocked by society (see Diogenes). Speaking of writing, you are still planning on coming to the reading/signing next Monday evening, right? 7 p.m. at the college auditorium. I'll look for you there!

At any rate, it was off to the gym with me. Since reaching that pivotal birthday and crossing a certain demographic threshold, I had decided that, painful as it may be, it was time to get serious about strength and cardio training. After all, I hope to be around as an eccentric goad for many decades to come, so I needed to get to work!

And work it has proven to be. I'm equipped now with a pedometer - it fits on my shoe and looks like a delicate little probation device. While I haven't yet hit 10,000 steps a day, between my Spooky-walks and using the walking track at school, I'm getting close. I've started going to water aerobics classes (which my uncoordinated self likes far more than the land-based classes - there's less chance of taking someone out by confusing left with right) which provide quite the workout, if you push yourself. Or have a drill sergeant for an instructor, as I did last night. And I went to a spinning class which was an experience. If I'd been able to figure out how to release my toes from those little clippy things, I'd have run for it!

But I understand better now all the talk about the effect of exercise on endorphins. You really DO feel miles better right after your exercise, although the next morning can be a different story. And I understand why. See what I found:

When scientists in the 1970s isolated a biochemical from a pituitary gland hormone that showed analgesic properties, Choh Li, a chemist from Berkeley, California, named it endorphin, meaning "the morphine within." . . . Prolonged, continuous exercise contributes to an increased production of endorphins . . .

"The morphine within." Who says poetry and science can't coexist?