As I mentioned several blogs ago, I walk two miles across the dam near our house every other day. I do this religiously as I feel better once it’s over, and I enjoy the peaceful early morning hours looking across our beautiful lake. This morning the wind, however, was relentless. It wasn’t cold. I was in shorts and a tee-shirt, but it was gusting and being a lanky person it pushed me left and right across the span like a twig on a fir tree.
Two men, I would say in their seventies, walk every day at the same time I do. Up until this point, I’ve never gone one day that I haven’t met them along the way. Always gentlemen, they remove their hats and offer a cheerful “good morning” my way. Catching brief glimpses of their conversation from time to time it seems to center around WWII and the current state of the economy, which they appear to have differing views on so it gets quite animated at times. Today we simply exchanged a quick wave as words would have been swept up in the air and gone unheard.
The side of the dam that dips deep down to the valley floor below was somewhat less windy than the lake side, where I usually choose to walk. Pushing my way along, a flock of pigeons caught in a downdraft swooped down so close to my head that I could actually hear the sound of their wings flapping. A woman with a small Jack Russell terrier practically suspended on its leash passed by me just as I reached the halfway mark. A huge surge of wind whipped her ball cap off of her head and tossed it like an inflated plastic ball over the retaining wall and off into the distance disturbing a large full racked stag that was enjoying an early morning meal on the side of the hill.
On windy days I always wear my tightest ball cap. If I let my short blonde hair abundant with cowlicks run willy nilly in the wind by the time I got back to my car you wouldn’t be able to pick me out of a group of infants in a Taiwan nursery. It seems to just spring in the middle like a basting brush set free from its metal holder.
As my mind wanders during my walk, I usually find myself writing. Today was no exception. The slope of the hill and the wind brought to mind a hang gliding experience I had in my late twenties. Many of the really stupid things I’ve done in my life have been directly associated with the men I’ve met along the way. Not that they were stupid, well a small percentage might have worn that pin proudly, but more that I seemed to significantly lose IQ points when I was with them.
Over the years I’ve tried my hand (or feet in this case) at barefoot skiing, hang gliding, accompanying a pilot on his solo flight, snow skiing down a mid-level slope backwards on my first time out, driving down the Continental Divide with no brakes, sinking a boat on the Colorado River and being asked to go stunt flying by someone I was dating. This is the short list. The only reason I probably didn’t end up losing my lunch with the stunt pilot was that he made the mistake of showing me a video of his acrobatics two days before we were scheduled to fly. Some things you just have to pass on, no matter how attractive the bait might be.
Hang gliding was suggested by someone I was dating in Southern California. Not an expert, he had completed the classes and, as he put it, found it exhilarating. Not wanting to look like a total wuss, I was convinced to sign up for a series of lessons down in the San Diego area. The first lesson the students watched instructional videos. After we had some idea of what we had signed up for (I was poised to head south at that point), we were next strapped into a harness in a simulator. We practiced in the simulator that day and the lesson following to get the feel of it. Mama.
Memory failing me, I’m not sure how many lessons I took before I found myself strapped into the real deal and set loose on what they called the “bunny slope”. Bunny being the optimum word here. Strapped into a contraption looking to me like something Wilbur and Orville had whipped up in their rural barn, I hopped, then I skipped. I flew up, flew down, flopped on my back then my stomach, and dragged my feet behind me in the dirt like a poorly stuffed toy rabbit for several rather expensive hours. I was leaning less towards getting the hang of it and more towards simply hanging myself.
Finally, somewhat getting the feel of how to maneuver the cumbersome glider I began to look less like a puppet being controlled by an inebriated puppeteer. It then became clear to me that soon they were going to expect me to actually propel myself over the side of a cliff with just this large kite to keep me plummeting to the ocean below. It was also explained that, unlike flying, your instructor will not accompany you for your solo flight. Your first flight is, in fact, your solo flight. Solo, as in alone, unattended, one person only present for the event, nobody to bail you out, kind of solo. Really? I mean, really?
Unforseen circumstances stepped in to prevent my feet from every making that last leap off the hill and I never made my maiden flight. With my track record, I feel the universe just stepped in knowing I’d probably end up as just another patch of seagull poop on the craggy rocks, and said “enough with this girl, let’s concentrate on someone else for a while”, and left me to my own devices. I have always wondered what it would have felt like to propel myself off that cliff though and soar through the air, have to admit.
This is a really good roast which I’d serve to company. Never fails me.
Crockpot Asian Pot Roast
1 3 1/2-4 lb. boneless chuck roast
2 large yellow onions, sliced thin
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup cider vinegar
3 bay leaves
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 of 1/8 tsp. ground ginger (1/16 tsp.)
1 generous pinch of Cayenne pepper
2 cups button mushrooms,sliced
1 cup carrots, julienned
3 cups fresh spinach leaves
Salt and pepper
Spray 6 quart crockpot with cooking spray. Sprinkle roast with freshly ground black pepper and salt. Place on bottom of crockpot. Put sliced onion on top.
Mix together brown sugar, soy sauce, and cider vinegar. (Hint, if your brown sugar has gotten hard put it in the microwave to soften.) Pour over roast and onions.
Top with bay leaves, garlic, ginger and cayenne pepper.
Cook on low for 8 hrs. Add carrots and cook on high for 1 hr. Add spinach leaves and cook on high for 30 mins.
Serve over a bed of white rice.