Thursday, May 29, 2008


Do you ever add things to your 'To Do' list that you've already done just so you can cross them out, thereby improving the ratio of crossed-out items to un-crossed items?

Yeah, I thought so.

Isn't nice to know we're all that pathetic?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

L'il libation

Okay, I know I'm not supposed to be drinking any alchy-hol between now and Henley, but it turns out that cranberry juice with rum in it is really good. Really really good. Really really really good.

So I've decided that the benefits of the muscle-relaxing property of the rum (very good for my back) outweigh the detriments of the dehydrating effect. This is purely medicinal people, keep up now.

All this glorious concoction lacks is a proper name. Suggestions in the comments box. Best suggestion gets, i dunno, my undying admiration or some equally worthless shit. If there's already a name for rum and cranberry, I don't want to know about it.
Photo of cranberry juice with no rum. This makes Ceiling Kitten cry.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Picture Pages

Had a nice weekend. No rowing, which is good, as I needed a weekend to let my body recover. I've got 3 major races in the next 4 weeks, culminating in Women's Henley Regatta at the end of June, so that was the last bit of respite for a while. The calm before the storm, if you will.

I watched Pirate play cricket instead. It was good. He won his matches on Saturday and Sunday with sufficient ease that it was actually pretty boring to watch. So I don't have much by way of exciting things to write. So here are some pictures instead:

Black swans on the River Thames in Reading, April 2008

Tulips outside the City of Bristol Council House, April 2008

The Pier, Clevedon, April 2008

England's green and pleasant land, Lancashire, April 2008

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Fucking brilliant

Some changes

Apparently I've been bitten by the 'mess around with blog' bug.

Must've got it from Dave.

(anyone know how i can make the orange stripe go all the way over to the left?)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Not another rowing post

or, Living in My Body Again

I'm just beginning to realize/accept that my back will never be the same again. I will, for the rest of my life, have to make small adjustments to my lifestyle. That said, it's not so bad.

Of all the things I love most about rowing, it's the feeling of really loving living in my body that gives me the biggest high. I feel comfortable inside myself. Not in a vain "oh don't i look great" kind of way, but in that way you felt as a kid, when you ran around and jumped off things and climbed things and didn't actually think about your body. You just did what you wanted and expected your body to keep up, and 999 times out of a1000 it did.

That's what rowing does to me, and that's just how i'm starting to feel again for the first time since my injury. My body is beginning to feel like mine again. I tell it to do something, and it does it. The constant fear of pain and injury is starting to dissipate. It's not gone completely, i still hesitate when I do things like put my pants on in the morning (if you've ever had a lower back injury with sciatic pain you know that bending over to put your knickers on and lifting one foot off the floor is one of the most impossible small tasks and usually comes with a side order of searing agony), but by and large I am just going about my life. In my body, which I can almost stop thinking about.

It's nice.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Ostrich strategy

I can't contemplate the inhumanity and profound evilness of the Burmese junta, standing by while scores of thousands of Burmese people starve to death or die of dehydration, exposure, and disease. I don't understand it, I just don't understand. I can't begin to wrap my brain around it.

So instead I'm going to tell you my favorite uses for peanut butter.

Things on which I put Peanut Butter:
  • Toast, then sprinkled with cinamon and sugar
  • Apples
  • Sandwiches, with sliced banana inside
  • Sandwiches, with strawberry or grape jam
  • Sandwiches, with honey
  • NOT sandwiches with mayonaise. That's just gross. Ew ew ew ew ew ew.
  • Celery, with raisins
  • Ritz crakers
  • Rich tea biscuits
  • Animal crakers
  • Graham crakers
  • Chocolate
  • Cinamon raisin bagels. Seriously, try it sometime.
  • Dogs' noses. (No, I don't eat dogs' noses. I said 'Things on which I put peanut butter', not 'Things on which I eat peanut butter.' Ha ha! Did I catch you?)

Thursday, May 15, 2008


I love him.

Why isn't the rest of America saying these things? Why is Keith Olberman the only voice I hear (on TV) expressing this outrage? The only thing that confuses me more than Bush is the apathy and indeed admiration that many still hold.

*Look for the clip titled "Olberman: Bush Interview Unforgivable" if it doesn't come straight up.

I do not like the letter 'B'

It looks too much like a 1 and 3 mushed together, even when people write relatively neatly. If they have sloppy handwriting it leads to inevitable tragedy.

This wasn't such a big issue for me in America, where one could usually discern letters/numerals through context. But here in the UK where postcodes are a mix of numbers and letters it's all too confusing.

I'd like to send an e-petition to Downing Street to be made the government's top priority for Things Next To Be Ignored, but as I'm not a citizen yet I can't even do that. I'll have to sit here being ignored unofficially and attempting to decipher people's Bs, 1s, and 3s.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Like beans on toast, only without the beans

Here's a neat little recipe for those of you in search of more interesting things to do for lunch. I got this from the Good Flatmate. Lovely Welsh bloke.

Rosemary Mushroom Thing

Mushrooms, in chunks
Cherry tomatoes, in half (or regular tomatoes in chunks)
rosemary (fresh or dried)
cream cheese

Splash a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a small pan, and heat it up.
Throw in the 'shrooms, 'maters, and rosemary. Sizzle until everything is a bit soft and sloppy.
Add a couple teaspoons of cream cheese, and mix until smooth and melted.
Pour over substrate and enjoy.

*I use rye toast, which is lovely. Good Housemate uses pasta. Rice and baked potato would also work well I expect.

My bike broke. Grrr.

The derailer on my bike is bent. This is have the dual effect of
a. Not allowing me to use any of the larger cogs on the rear gears, and
b. shifting very slowly and haltingly.

Result: It took me 90 minutes to get my chiropractor in Clevedon yesterday (it normally takes 60 minutes from Bristol) making me 30 minutes late for my appointment, and it took me 3 hours to get back again. Because I had to walk. Along a B-road with loads of lorries and no shoulder. I can't believe I'm still alive.

Best get the beastie into the shop methingks. I need it to get to my race on Saturday.

Oh, and here's a helpful hint: Never EVER eat raw broccoli on an empty stomach. Such cramps I have never had. Oy vey.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Shattered. but in a good way.

Well, mis amigos, things are moving along nicely. Sal (sculling sal, not blogging sal) and I are moving together well and we did some good, hard sessions this weekend.

Saturday we did 2 x 1000m time trials. We were both having a bit of an off day, in her case because she didn't sleep well the night before, and in my case because i skipped breakfast, so neither one of us was at our best. Even so we did 4:36 against the stream and 4:13 with it. That was only 4 seconds slower than their senior men's 4-. We gave them some serious shit for that. 4:13 was the best time in a double she'd ever had, and was significantly better than her best time with her previous partner. Not bad, considering I'm coming off 18 months half-assed, injury-recovery training and the number of outings we've done togehter we can still count on one hand. I feel like I've finally justified my existence after the crash last Wednesday.

What's really great though is that on Saturday and Sunday I trained to exhaustion. Complete and total collapse. Got back both days and fell in to be for 2 hours. Just couldn't move.

You may wonder why I'm so happy about this. I'll tell you. Up until now I haven't been able to train to that level of exhaustion becuase I've had too much back pain to puch myself that hard. And now? NO BACK PAIN!!! No pain in the boat, at any rate.

When I get out I'm stiff, but not in pain. I can't stand up because my muscles are so fucking tight, but I don't hurt. So a bit of gentle walking, a few minutes with the massage pad, and a good long stretch and I'm good as gold and ready to go again.

I have noticed that as I get older my recovery time between training sessions is getting longer than it once was, but I guess that's natural. (Unless you're the immortal, unconquerable Herebe.)

So I've finally reached the point where I can get on with some serious training and really push myself as hard as I can. Thank fuck.

Friday, May 09, 2008

I may have spoke to soon maybe

or, How the Bitch Got Her Mojo Back

See, with no prospect of racing on the horizon, the training of rowing is just fucking miserable. It has few redeeming qualities.

But when there's a goal, well, that's a different story, see?

So I've hooked up with this chick from Another Cunting Rowing Club (ACRC). We've been training in the double scull.

Our first outing showed some promise. Then she got ill and I got busy and we didn't do much for a while.

Our second outing was brilliant fun, this past weekend. Pirate came down to the boathouse and went for a jog. We got in the double and did some race starts. The resident waterfowl were out with their small fuzzy offsprings, and they saw that it was good.

Monday morning, same story. Although 2 training days in a row left my back a bit stiff, we got on just fine. We're starting to think there might be some real potential here. So we're racing at the ACRC regatta on 17 May. We're entered in both Senior3 and Senior1. This race will be the litmus test; if we do well, it's full speed ahead to Women's Henley!!!

And then came Wednesday.

I can't steer for beans, let's make that abundantly clear right now. So what did I do? I crashed. Into the men's double. While we were both doing full-pressure pieces. Result: 2 bent riggers and an oar to my lower back like getting bludgeoned with a baseball bat. Ow.

Again I say unto thee: ow.*

But the weather was glorious and sunny and sultry and hot and steamy, and the fuzzness of the duckylings was exceptionally fuzzable, as were the swanlings, with the grey fluffness and the tiny peepness, and the leafness of the trees was bright and green and the sun glinted on the still Avon waters. The pieces were strong and swift and I could hear the bubbles gurgling under the bow as we sliced through the river: the boat was singing to us! Sing, boat, sing!

Yeah. I'm back.

*Great excuse to go to Argos and buy a giant heated, vibrating back massager. Tonight I will try sittin on it for variety. I expect it to be excellent.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Announcement: I'm quitting rowing

(I think.)

I've had it. I've just had enough.

I work and work and work and work and get fuck all back. In the last 4 years I've been in 6 races, only 1 of those in the past 18 months. And now I have no prospect of racing this season.

I train and train, but don't get any closer to my goals, because my goals are competitions and I don't have the chance to compete. Even losing would be better. At least if I lost I would have had a fighting chance. As it is, I don't even have that much. And now there is no prospect of racing in the future.

Fuck it all.

There is still the slightest chance I may yet find a doubles partner for Women's Henley Regatta, but that is becoming slimmer by the day.

So I've told Bristol to put it where the sun don't shine, and I've joined a local club. They're friendly, and they have some nice equipment. I will pass the summer paddling around the Bristol docks in a single, and hopefully enjoy some summer sunshine, keep myself in shape, and maybe get a bit of a tan.

And come the end of the summer, September, the wedding, and all those other life changes, I will hang up the blades for good. I will not look for a rowing club in Plymouth. There is one, but it's crap, the water is crap, and there's no good competition down that way. So it would just be more the fucking same, and I can't face that.

When I get to Plymouth I will attempt something I've always wanted to do: martial arts.

I've had the chance to take karate lessons a few times over the years, and I always wanted to give it a go, but I've never had the time. I was always committed to my rowing schedule. So now I'm going to give myself the time. I'll try to find a decent karate or judo or tae kwan do studio. It will help keep me in shape, it will be new and exciting, it will be good way to work out aggression and frustration (a mental health benefit rowing has always provided me which is a key to my sanity), and I like the idea of an activity where I get to beat the crap out of people. That has a lot of appeal right now. A lot of appeal.

It's been a difficult decision. I never thought I could turn my back on something I love so much. It scares me that I'm capable of that kind of mind-shift. But it doesn't feel like i've turned my back on it, it feels more like it's turned its back on me.

But of course, as an athlete, you have it drummed in that winners never quit and quitters never win. I'm not a quitter. I'm a winner. I don't quit. Ever. I don't give up. But how is this not giving up?

Shouldn't I be more determined than ever? Shouldn't I go to Plymouth and start my own club, if that's what it takes? Shouldn't I do everything in my power to keep going?

When does that cross the line into stupidity? When do determination, commitment, and perseverance become shouting at a brick wall?

How can I quit and still face myself in the morning?

But how can I keep going, when it's ceased to be a joy and become nothing but a burden? When does it all stop being worth the constant mental and physical struggle? How can I walk away and keep my self respect?