going to the ballgame

Yesterday, I went to see the Frisco RoughRiders play the San Antonio Missions with my friends C. and A.

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It was great because I could support both teams. I couldn’t lose!

When I asked my friends if they wanted to go, they were enthusiastic, and then asked, ‘Wait — will it be all right for you to go? It will be so hot.’

It was a reasonable question. My chronic illness makes it easy for my body to overheat quickly. After my brush with heat stroke a few years ago, my body has been even more sensitive to heat. We haven’t reached the hottest part of the summer yet, but already we’ve had heat advisories and heat indices above 105 F (40 C). It is unsafe for me to be outside for any length of time when the temps go above average human body temperature. The game was scheduled to start at 7.00 PM, and though that would be cooler than the afternoon, it was likely still to be excessively hot.

But I wanted to go. It had been so long since I had been to a baseball game. I had gone to Missions games when I was a kid, and I wanted to see them play the RoughRiders.

One of the lessons I’ve had to learn about having a chronic illness is to not let the chronic illness ruin my life.

If I stopped whenever I was in pain, if I stayed indoors every time the temperatures rose above 98 F, then I couldn’t work, play, or live. I was reminded of this earlier in the week when I read ‘I won’t apologize for having fun while chronically ill’ at The Mighty. I would figure out how to stay cool at the game.

I looked up the ballpark’s policies for what could be brought inside the park and assembled a bag of supplies. I assumed that we would be in the sun for part of the game, at least until the sun went down.

My bag included:

  • a parasol
  • a folding fan
  • a spray bottle
  • a reusable ice pack
  • two instant cold packs
  • sunscreen lotion
  • insect repellant
  • a bottle filled with Gatorade and ice

It also happened to be ‘Thirsty Thursday’, which meant all drinks were $1 and cups of water with ice were free. I would be able to stay well-hydrated during the game. I made sure to wear light and loose clothing and noted the location of the first aid tent, just in case.

And you know what? It turned out that I was over-prepared. When we found our seats, our section was already in the shade. There was a consistent and gentle breeze. Despite the clear sky, beating sun, and heat advisory, it was surprisingly pleasant. The only items I used from my bag were the spray bottle, the Gatorade, and insect repellant. It was a thousand times better than what I was expecting.

Of course, I’m exhausted today. Being outside for four hours still wore me out, even if it wasn’t sweltering. But I budgeted for the exhaustion; that’s part of having a chronic illness.

Baseball, fireworks, and friends — what more could you ask for in a fine summer evening?

Photo: The Frisco RoughRiders vs. San Antonio Missions in Dr. Pepper Park, Frisco, TX.

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#smithieswed

It might seem like I have only been teaching this semester, and while that has been most of what I do, it hasn’t been all that I have done this Autumn. I even have the pictures to prove it.

So, as we transition into Winter, let me finally post my pictures of Autumn.

Autumn, Part 1: #smithieswed

#smithieswed was the hashtag used for everything related to the Arellano-Fryer wedding. It was a play on #smithieslead — which I don’t know what was used for, but both Lola and Crystal went to Smith College, so I got the connection. When it came to be late-October, I went to Sudbury, Massachusetts for Lola and Crystal’s wedding. I arrived a couple of days early, which meant catching up with the brides, apple picking, and spending a lot of time with Lola’s extended family (if Lisa can be a Tia, can I be a cousin?). The wedding itself was at Longfellow’s Wayside Inn.

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I don’t have any pictures of the wedding itself, considering that I was a bridesmaid, and most of my pictures from the reception didn’t come out well because of the lighting (I’m looking forward to seeing the official photographer’s photos). But it was artful and beautiful, a wonderful blend of traditions — Mexican, New English, and even Jewish. I’d never been to a wedding with so much live music: a string quartet for the ceremony, a mariachi band to serenade the wedding party during photos, and a jazz band at the reception.

And in all honesty, even though Lola and Crystal might have been terrified, the Hora was the best spontaneous wedding moment ever.

hora brides flying high
(These photos are taken from the #smithieswed Instagram feed. I was dancing in one of the circles, of course.)
As Lola put it: “I always wanted the Hora at my wedding but never thought I could. Then the Jewish side of my family revolted!”

Autumn, Part 2 will be posted tomorrow.

Butternut squash with couscous

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Last Friday, my friend Joanna came over with the bottle of Croatian wine she bought last year on our holiday. I was in charge of dinner, and F. and Elena were joining us. It had been one of those days where everything I touched went wrong, and that didn’t end in the kitchen.

I was going to make a butternut squash recipe from BBC Good Food, using paquito and butternut squash. It involved cutting the squash in half lengthwise and roasting it. Only, the paquito squash broke in half the other way while I was cutting it, thus throwing out the idea of using the squash as bowls for the rest of the recipe. Time for a new plan.

So, after roasting the squash, I scooped all of it out and cut it into chunks (at which point F. came and saved the day by taking over cutting the squash), replaced the lentils in the recipe with couscous, and subsequently forgot to add half the spices. Meanwhile, I decided that for dessert I would make Divine Rhubarb Crumble, using the rhubarb I canned a year and a half ago, and replacing the strawberries with apples and leaving out the rosemary and the lemon — Okay, it wasn’t the same crumble at all, except for the crumble topping.

It was pretty crazy in the kitchen and I’m so glad F. was there as sous chef. Dinner was delicious, the wine and company were good, and it was a success all around. Huzzah!

Butternut squash with couscous
Serves 5
(Adapted from BBC Good Food)

  • 2 small butternut squash
  • olive oil
  • 150g couscous
  • 2 onions, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • a pinch cayenne pepper
  • 175g goats cheese, crumbled
  • 40g pine nuts
  • 3 tbsp chopped mint
  • 3 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 lemon, juiced

1. Heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Wash the butternut squash and carefully cut it in half lengthways. Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds and fibrous centre and discard. Put the squash halves on a baking tray cut- side up, drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil, season and roast in a hot oven for approx 35 minutes or until the flesh is tender. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.

2. When the squash is cool enough to handle scoop out the flesh, then roughly chop the flesh and put it in a bowl.

3. Heat 3 tbsp olive oil in a large frying pan, add the onions and garlic and cook until beginning to caramelise, about 10 minutes. Add the spices and cook for two minutes more. Add the couscous, reserved squash and 200ml of hot water and simmer for 8 minutes (until most of the water has been absorbed). Remove from the heat and stir through the goats cheese, pine nuts, herbs and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

4. Serve with plain yoghurt and a mint leaf for garnish. Enjoy!

Tip: What to do when your dinner is essentially “mush”? Put couscous and squash mixture into a mould, such as a small bowl, and upend on a plate. Magic. Works for rice or any kind of “mushy” meal.

Whirlwind holiday

My holiday in the U.S. was a month long, but spent in four states. Below are a few highlights from my whirlwind holiday:

San Antonio, TX
Sunny and warm (20s C/80s F) and Christmas with my parents. I got to see old friends from my home church, high school, and the Fun Day Group.

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Charleston, SC
A cross-country drive took us to spend second Christmas with my brother and his family and I met my youngest niece and nephew.

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Prosperity, SC
Then my parents and I spent a couple of days in the serenity of the Old House.

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McKinney, TX
Another cross-country drive took me back to Texas, where I watched lots of Star Trek and lost three games of Scrabble to Kelly.

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Ft Worth, TX
Then a couple of days spent with Megan, where her young neighbours had fun playing with my hair.

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Oklahoma City, OK
I took the train north to Oklahoma, where I hung out with Felicity and Thomas, and Felicity sewed a lining onto the hat I crocheted at Kelly’s.

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Los Angeles, CA
A jet plane took me to California, where I spent my last few days in the States with Sarah and David and my buddy little Isaac.

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*

As you can see, it was busy but very fun trip. I stocked up on lots of sunlight, Mexican food, and root beer, and had a very good time catching up with friends and family.

Multi-tasking

An evening at home. Elena left early this morning, F. was at his small group’s Christmas do, and I was left to my own devices. It was nice to have an evening to my self. While the beans for the soup were boiling, I started crafting with leaves F. had brought back from Germany ages ago and which Elena and I had gathered from around Town. (It will take a few stages, so I had to get started sometime!) I forgot how relaxing crafting is — to do a simple task, painting leaves with Modge Podge glue to preserve them.

I also forgot how relaxing singing scales is in our wonderfully echo-y kitchen, which I did while making stone soup. I sang a lot more when Ros was here, though not always when she was around, as we’d be singing over each other. It was nice to be alone in the house and not feel self-conscious about singing such a boring thing as scales…

Then I skyped with Sarah and Isaac while eating dinner, did another stage of leaf-crafting, and knit. Now, to bed early, to work more tomorrow!

(No. I’m not going to post pictures of the completed leaf crafts as they will be Christmas gifts for some people… You’ll just have to wonder what they will be. Maybe in the new year!)

Ben Cleuch

This past week F. and I took Wednesday off instead of the usual Monday. Taking a 7am bus, we went to Tillicoultry to go hillwalking in the Ochils of Clackmannanshire. It was a misty, drizzly, windy day. We climbed The Law (638m) and Ben Cleuch (721m) whilst walking the Ben Cleuch Circular. As we walked through the glen and climbed up the hills, we saw the clouds drift between the hills, quickly obscuring the town from view. We met only three other people the whole day. We really had escaped civilization.

I borrowed hillwalking gear from my friend Joanna, and so hiked with walking sticks for the first time. We used all the light available to us on these short winter days, so we were out hiking for 8 hours. I’m very proud of myself for keeping up: it was only seven years ago I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. None of my joints were sore afterward (though quite a few muscles were). I’m so glad to learn that I can do this: be outdoors and enjoy myself without worrying about my arthritis.

Here are a few pictures, and they are evidence enough of what a beautiful, stunning place Scotland is.

 

It was a long, wonderful day.

Favourite things

Playing with trains:

Thursdays after work I walk home with Rebecca, where I get to spend the evening with Rebecca and the boys. I love the chance to be an aunty, to help with dinner and bedtime, to then just hang out with Rebecca and Phil and talk about medieval things or cookbooks or anything. This is definitely one of my favourite things and they are some of my favourite people.