Back from Belize

After two weeks of fun in Belize, I am back! 

I can’t believe how much we packed into two weeks – without feeling rushed. Sigh. Once I go through my pictures (762 for mine alone!), I’m going to do a full recap.

Boss in carrier

I see you.

 The first order of business was to pick up Boss from the “kitty condo.” Between his poor kitty hips and his 15 years, he’s developed “litter box issues.” (it usually ends up next to/half in/around/under the box and litter pads.) We figured it would be best for him (and for the floor) if he had some company.

There were no meows on the way home, even when he peed himself. That mellowness lasted until night.  He has his routine: sit near me, run off for more food, snurgle pants for a while, then head to my feet zone.

Last night it was more like:  Face! There’s your face! Feet zone! Feet zone! Pants! Pet me!!! Now I step on your pillow! I sit on your pillow! That’s your head? Ok! Step, step, claw mouth, sit head. Snurgle.

All. Night. Long.

At one point, I actually had to wake Pants to get Boss off my head.


I know he’ll be fine in a few days. I’ll catch up on sleep eventually.

Boss burgundy pillow

I sit on my pillow, I sit on your pillow.


Note to Self: Concussion Reminders

Since my concussion, I’ve been working out at most 60% of what I used to do. Part of it is detraining – if I’m not doing anything, I can’t expect to be as fit. Not fun, but I always expect I’ll get better.

Yesterday I had a bit of a smack down. I had two appointments in the morning. I rode my bike, thinking I’d go for a long ride after PT. Well. The ride was only 35 minutes, but it was mostly uphill. My heart rate got up to as high as it’s been recently. It felt GREAT. When I checked my heart rate monitor, I noticed that my heart rate was elevated for the longest time in over a year. I was thrilled. During my 20 minute de-sweating, clothes-changing time, I was ready to celebrate with my PT.

By the time she took me for my appointment, I was ready to sit in a dark corner. I had a headache, was dizzy, and my balance was off. Humpf. Loss of balance was one of my most noticeable symptoms of my concussion. I went from teaching barefoot balance training to being unable to walk a drunk walk line. Over the year, I’ve been working on getting that back. And the headaches. I consider my “concussion headaches” as something very specific. Only on one side of my head, in a very specific spot. She did some manual techniques to bring my headache down, and I went home.

Dear Self – 

Be careful. I know you want to get your body going. It’s fun, it feels great, heck, it feels normal. But headaches don’t feel normal. They feel crappy. Even if you feel amazing at the time, still cut it short. Cutting short one day will make it possible for you to do something the next day. Because the discomfort is always worse the next day.

You like reading, right? Well, you can’t read when you have a headache.

You like riding your bike, right? Well, you can’t bike when you have a headache.

You like petting Boss, don’t you? Well, at least you can pet the kitty when you have a headache. Go self, pet the kitty. Pet that kitty good.

Love, Me

Bootleg Shakespeare and Barrel Bourbon

Last night Taffety Punk, one of the local theater companies, put on Bootleg Shakespeare’s Pericles, Prince of Tyre. While I’ve enjoyed a couple of their all-female Riot Grrls Shakespeare performances, this was my first Bootleg. In Bootleg performances, the actors learn their lines in advance, then have one day together to stage the show. The props are minimal, costumes understated, and the sets nonexistent. 

The tickets are general admission and only available in person at 5:00 on the day of the show. I hopped on the metro and got caught in a rush hour storm on my way to the Folger Shakespeare Theatre. Once I got to the theatre, it really started pouring.

I waited it out for about 20 minutes and headed to Barrel, a bar that has quite a list of bourbon. The menu looked pretty tasty too, but I’ll try that out another time. I enjoyed my Four Roses single barrel and the playlist in the bar (Neutral Milk Hotel and Beastie Boys?) until it was time to head back to the show.

The crowd looped around inside, eager to find a seat. I was lucky to get a good one.

In the first act, Pericles travels the ocean to flee Antioch after solving a riddle that reveals a secret about the King Antiochus and his daughter (eww). His trusty vessel, two broomsticks carried by his crew (think the clip-clop coconuts in Monty Python’s Holy Grail) takes him to Tarsus. The land is suffering a famine. After giving the King Cleon and Queen Dionyza food for their citizens, he sets sail again. He is then shipwrecked in Pentopolis, where the King is holding a contest to marry his daughter Thaisa. Pericles wins. Here, the Bootleggers broke out into a dance, set to David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance.” And, of course, Pericles and Thaisa fall  in love. 

When they set sail to rule his land, a big storm rallies. 

Then… After a believing his bride died in childbirth and was thrown overboard, but really she survived and became a Priestess of Diana, and also believing that his daughter Marina was killed out of jealously by King Cleon on Queen Dionyza (jerks), but was in fact sold into prostitution by pirates (but was never sullied), the trio are finally reunited. In this world, the virtuous are rewarded. (After being dealt a pretty crappy hand.)… Whew. 

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more energetic performance. There was a just a hint of tongue in cheek tapping on the fourth wall, which drew in the audience. We were not only in on the joke, but we also got in on the action, providing a trumpeting “do-do-dooo!” whenever the director (prompter?) yelled “flourish!”

The actors owned it. The subtly self-aware attitude was so expertly balanced with quality acting that it only added to the performance. 

The Taffety Punk Theatre Company’s next performance (Sept 4-Oct 4, 2014) will celebrate their 10th anniversary. They are doing a new version of The Devil in His Own Words their first show.








Chocolate Covered Cherry Power Smoothie

Smoothie Chocolate CherryPants has been putting in some extra hours finishing up a project lately. The poor guy was yawning through his cup of coffee last night, so I wanted to make him an extra-special energy smoothie to start off the week.

I love making this little number on birthdays or big exam days (it actually originated when I had a big exam on my birthday). The chocolatey goodness not only makes me feel totally spoiled, but also peps me up and keeps me going for hours!

Note: one look at the ingredients list will tell you this is NOT a light smoothie. Enjoy!


Chocolate Covered Cherry Power Smoothie (Serves 2)


  • 1 Cheribundi Tart Cherry Smoothie pack (or 1/2 c sliced tart cherries)
  • 1/2 c fresh or frozen raspberries
  • 1/2 c coconut milk
  • 1.5 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp shredded coconut
  • 1-2 Tbsp raw cacao
  • 1/2 tsp mesquite powder
  • 1 tsp maca powder
  • Optional: 1 Tbsp chia seeds (I omit for myself, but include for Pants)
  • A whole mess of spinach (3-4 handfuls)
  • 1.5 c water


  1. Place all ingredients in the blender in order listed.
  2. Blend at a lower speed until everything is mixed.
  3. Blend at higher speed until you achieve desired consistency
  4. Spoil yourself and enjoy!

Boss in a Box: Suitcase Edition

Boss in Suitcase death stare

You may go. Suitcase must stay.

I’ve heard from some of my dog owner friends that their dogs get anxious at the mere sight of a suitcase. It seems so sweet that the poor pups would miss their owners so much.

Not our Bossy. When he sees a suitcase, it’s like a motel “vacancy” light goes on. No sooner had I set the suitcase on the floor, then that little fluffer got up (out of his box) and jumped right into the case. Sheesh. 

We wanted to do a test pack to see how much room we had and what we needed for our trip to Belize. I’m really hoping to keep it as light as possible while still enjoying a “fresh pair of this” and “a clean one of that” every so often.


Boss in Suitcase

You know, if you got rid of the hiking boots, I could bring my Beef Feast in here.


We planned on splitting one suitcase to cut down on draggables. I like my stuff to be organized and as hassle free as possible, so I usually use the Eagle Creek packers I’ve had for about 15 years. I’ll start with stuff organized  by clothing type, and finish with stuff separated by “dirty” “mostly dirty” and “dropped in a mud puddle.” My gear fit right in without crossing the middle line, shoes and all.

Spotting a vacancy, Flueff hopped in to let me know how to use the other half.

I wasn’t sure if we could also fit in our sunscreens and bug sprays, so I pulled out the carry-on to gauge the space.

Boss in Carry on

I get lefties, you get righties.

Boss of course saw a new suitcase and had to check it out. (He usually prefers the cover on this one for some reason. Works for me!) 

Eventually he got up, leaving a ring of orange fur in his wake. I tried to clean it up with the lint roller, but the suitcase itself seemed a little more adhesive.

I’m going to miss that darn Flueff so much, every leftover cat hair I find is going to make me smile (I’ll probably try to pet it).

From Swimming to Salmon: Friday in Review

Yesterday morning was another slug-fest, so I slapped on the NPR and set to waking up by making gummies.

I’m a huge fan of grass-fed gelatin gummies. I usually go with some variation on Diane Sanfilippo’s Sweet and Sour Gummies recipe. I even got my mom hooked when she came down for a visit.

Today I recreated the lemon-lime bites with spangles of mini blueberries that I made for the July 4th picnic. I find silicone candy molds the easiest way to get bite-sized pieces. Most of them look pretty cute (Pyramids! Fancy squares!), but the dome shaped ones always look vaguely creepy, even sinister. I think it’s because they’re just a little too round, a little too shiny (and with the mini blueberries, a little too much like dissected eyeballs).

With gummies cooling in the fridge, I hopped on my old steed up the hill to the nearby pool. I’m not the best swimmer, but man, do I love it. Between the biking there any home, I got in about 35 minutes road time and 50 minutes swim time. Ahh.

My gummies were ready when I got home and I popped a few while I was getting ready to go back out.

I swung into the Smithsonian Museum of American Art to check out the exhibitions. Modern American Realism had a lot of paintings of landscapes in America (think Edward Hopper out of the Nighthawks). There was also nifty photo exhibition of black and whites of American statues. My favorites were more of an abstract piece and a sculpture. The Pop Art Prints were a lot of fun a and totally reminded me of this Roy Lichtenstein print had I had as a kid. Not sure how that one ended up in my wardrobe, but it was a major player in elementary school.

I missed out on the other two (I will be back!), because I wanted to get to the Kennedy Center for a concert at the Millennium Stage. They have free concerts at 6 p.m. everyday. I was looking forward to the classical guitarist, Piotr Pakhomkin. He went from from modern flamenco to Paganini, and was really enjoyable.

By then I was starving, so I was happy to meet my fella for a dinner at Rasika West End. My favorite part was the Salmon Tandoori Tamatar, with sun-dried tomato, basil and mint chutney. Swoon. I was definitely happy for a nice bike ride home to finish the day.


Water Wake up Call

 Poor Pants has been working like a fiend lately. He’ll get home super late, and then set the alarm to get into work early. Unfortunately, working late means that waking up is twice as hard (which is not so much his forte anyway), so the poor guy over-snoozed and ended up getting into work about an hour later than he wanted.

When I was working or going to school, I’d usually be up before him, so I’d find some way (nicely waking, head scratching, kitty bombing) to get him out of bed. Now, with my lack of schedule and later hours, I’ve been sleeping later than I ever have. (Note to self: not sure this is a good thing.)

I’ll say one thing for the iPhone alarm – I barely notice it when he sets it. Last night I decided to help out and set the good ol’ clock radio. Not only would he have the dulcet tones of NPR to lure him out of sleep, but also I hid a secret weapon in the nightstand.

And by secret weapon I mean this bad a$$ pocket water pistol (two cartridges of water!)

Just a few squirts elicited a strong “MeHHHH” from the other side of the bed. I kept spraying, just managing to avoid getting him in the face.

 After falling for a “Just 5 more minutes, I want to snurgle with you!” (Didn’t I mention something earlier about being a sucker for morning snurgles?) I whipped out the pistol again and went to town on his hair. He was going to wash it anyway.

Despite some initial grumbles, Pants was pretty pleased that the smoothie hand off this morning came off 10 minutes before schedule.

Today’s Smoothie:

Mango Cilantro Smoothie

Serves 2

  • 1 cup frozen mango
  • 1 cup frozen spinach
  • 1 cup hot water (helps get the spinach and mango ready for blending. I found this super helpful in the winter when there was a ton of frozen spinach and a sad blender)
  • 1.5 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 Tbsp shredded coconut (accidentally bought the reduced fat. Eew. So not good for baking)
  • ½ bunch cilantro
  • 2 huge handfuls red lettuce
  • 1 cup cold water
  1. Place items in the Vitamix/blender in order listed
  2. Start blending on low until ingredients mix
  3. Blend on high until desired smoothie consistency
  4. Enjoy!


I love having a smoothie and a few gummies as a mid-afternoon snack, especially when it’s hot outside.


Slug-arm, Uni-fang, and Super-heart: Hyphens of the Day

As I type this, my left arm is feeling that awkward sluggitude that I get after immunizations. I had 3 today, plus some blood taken for my PT program physical. Lefty pretty much looks like it was hit by some really inept (and one single-fanged) vampires. (I’d feel kinda bad for a uni-fang. All single-toothed, looking like it had a confused overbite. Bad, you know, before it bit me.) I’m taking my lefty weakness as a chance to level the playing field for poor righty. It seems that after the concussion, the muscles on my right side started some weirdo movement patterns. Thanks to my lovely PT, I’m on a regime of scapular stabilization exercises.

I was all ready for my shots, because one of my favorite podcasts, Sawbones: a Marital Tour of Misguided Medicine, just did an episode on vaccines. I super-heart Sawbones. Usually they tackle the more bizarre paths of medicine (corpse theft, self surgery, history of headache treatments), but this one was more of straight-up history. Right after learning how the smallpox vaccine was developed, I read that vials of a smallpox virus were found in an unapproved Maryland lab.  Say WHat?!? Smallpox so deadly that only 2 labs, one in Atlanta and one in Russia, are authorized to have it. These mystery vials have just been hanging out in a cold storage room, likely since the 50’s.

And that, friends, is why you always clean out the refrigerator.

July 4th Weekend Recap

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday weekend! I was very lucky to spend time with some great friends and get in some quality outside and pet-snurgle time.

The 4th itself started off with my favorite weekend activity- a crossword and special chai for Pants and a fancy coffee for me. We hadn’t done a crossword in forever, and we were happy not to have totally lost our chops. We came in at just under 15 minutes (for a Wednesday puzzle) on the New York Times crossword app. We factored in the time it took to get used to the app with the new updates (it has been THAT long!) and the fact that we were total slackers and decided to be satisfied with our time. It was a holiday.

Once we showered and packed our bags for the day, we headed to Nationals stadium for the Nats versus the Cubs baseball game. I am a default Nats fan (when the Mets aren’t in town) so I was a little bummed to see our star-spangled hats handed to us by the Cubs. And – the President’s race? Boring! Sure, George carried the American flag (and won), but they appeared to be moving pretty slowly. On the 4th, I expected a little more.

Our next stop was our friend’s house for a World Cup/July 4th/birthday party that was just fantastic. Our friend engineered his TV and DJ tables outside, so we were able to watch the game and then enjoy chatting on their fantastic back deck. I was surprised I liked the two different cocktails (I am normally a very plain drinker). One was a Caipirinha, deliciously limey, and the other I forgot the name of, but it involved liquor, champagne and a fresh orange slice. Treats ranged from half smokes to a full rack of ribs and several (mayonnaise free!) coleslaws to a cherry bake. Deliciousness abounded, so I was happy to share everything (so of course I could taste more).

For the fireworks, we walked to nearby McKinley high school in NE. The little hill afforded us a clear view to the fireworks on the mall (and a bunch of other neighborhood displays). I was snuggled in near friends and fella, enjoying the beautiful night.

This little lady had yet to turn into a pumpkin, so I suggested that we stop at Kramerbooks for a night time book run. I had difficulty deciding, but settled on The Bayou Trilogy, by Daniel Woodrell. I really enjoyed the movie of Winter’s Bone back in the day, and was looking for a contrast to what I have been reading. I’m excited to start it!
By the time we got home, Boss was more than ready for food. We gave him some food, tried to give him some pets, and went to bed.

Saturday started off with Bossy finally being ready for pets, and about 2 hours of us snoozing (no really, me and Bossy), spoon style. I was shocked he didn’t pull his shake-shake-shake “Oh hey! You’re up?” routine, or scramble off the bed when I dozed off while petting him. When I woke up and realized he was still there, I stuck around for another 20 minutes or so of petting. I am a total sucker.
By the time I finally got up and prepared the morning beverages, I realized I had to get out the door for my first Barre3 class in a month. She was a new-to-me instructor, and I LOVED her class. All the teachers there are pretty great, but I loved the way she went through the class seamlessly and never went off beat. Not a big deal for everyone, but I find it much harder to work outside the beat during a barre or dance class. It just takes me out of what I’m doing.

Sunday I was feeling a little sore from Barre3, so I was glad to go for a walk out at Great Falls with my friend, fella, and her puppy, Ruby. Ruby is still new to her family, and always wants to be with her mama (even while she is driving). I was tasked he job of keeping Ruby on my lap for the drive. She is the sweetest dog! She shifted around a little, but didn’t fuss as long as I cuddled her and gave her pets. We were stuck in line to get into Great Falls for a while, so I was treated to a full lap of puppy fur (it was a nice contrast in texture to my usual kitty fur). Once we parked, we went to the flatter parts to try out Ruby’s hiking prowess. She enjoyed meeting new dogs and sniffing everything, but didn’t seem to tire out at all. Good pups.

Sunday evening started with another trip to Kramers. Pants wanted to exchange his book, as he read a bad review of it while we were on our way home on Friday. He picked out another, and we got Field Guide to the Natural World of D.C., by Howard Youth, to share. I was also tempted into Parasites like us by Adam Johnson. I just finished another book of his, The Orphan Master’s Son, and am eager to start this one. Ah, the freedom to enjoy fiction! We swung by Glen’s Market (and finally found some cilantro!) where I got a lavender mint Hint seltzer for the trip home. A lovely end to a lovely weekend.

Back in the Saddle Again

The trail at the end of the tunnel...

The trail at the end of the tunnel…

I love the feeling of a first bike ride. When I graduated from 6th grade, my parents gave me a Trek 800, complete with matching neon green lycra helmet cover. That summer, I learned freedom. I rode around the trails behind our house to the library, to Shop ‘N Save for popsicles, and to my friends’ houses. Feet on the pedals, the wind in my (neon green) hair. I can still taste those popsicles.

When I moved to Japan, it took me about a month before I worked up the nerve to buy a bike. When I did, the neighborhood bike man, after suffering through my broken Japanese, showed me the Practical Lady (so named for her brand name emblazoned on her side). I felt that same glee coasting down the street back to my apartment. My feet on the pedals, the wind in my (helmetless) hair. I can still smell the streets.

Here in D.C., I’ve been a bicycle and public transportation commuter. I live right near a trail and had an amazing little 12-mile commute to work. Instead of grumbling through traffic, I got my feet on the pedals and the wind in my (staunchly helmeted) hair. I can still cars on the highway, cruising to work.

About 10 months ago, I got a concussion (more on that later) and have been recovering from post concussion syndrome ever since. Basically, after the concussion, I had a limited reserve of energy and brain power. I could exercise, study or work, but I could not do all three. As difficult as it was to quit my job, and as crummy as it was to stay off my bike, I chose to study. I have been working toward starting a doctor of physical therapy program in the fall for the past 4 years. I couldn’t imagine waiting another year. So I focused my brain power on studying. I can still see the page of physics formulas.

Custis 2

I am thrilled that I was accepted into my program. After finishing my prerequisites this spring, I am more than ready to exercise. And finally, finally (!) with the a-ok of my physical therapist, I am back on my bike. I tried a couple of easy rides first, a short trip to the farmers market, a jaunt over to the bookstore (because I can totally read non-textbook books now). But really, I couldn’t wait to get back on the trails. My first choice was to do half of my old commute. I knew I couldn’t do the whole thing just yet, but half way out and back seemed manageable.

The double uphill in the bike lane was much more challenging than I remembered (oh VO2 where did you go?). But once I turned on to that trail, I felt my smile creep up. One downhill later, I was grinning, feet on the pedals, the wind in my (completely over-secured, double fastened, uber-helmeted) hair.