Random roundup: bagels, books, and hiking in sandals

I'm avoiding doing actual work today, so I thought I'd capture all my current (or ongoing) obsessions. Maybe this roundup will turn into a quarterly or yearly thing, but for now, it's a worthy (probably not) distraction from doing meaningful work. Also, no idea why the font on this post is TINY. I messed around with all the editing buttons/style editing/EVERYTHING but for some reason just this post is teeny tiny text. -_-)

1. Bagels.

Beautiful sight: rows and rows of bagels (though these don't look crusty enough for my taste, EXTRA TOASTED PLEASE).

Beautiful sight: rows and rows of bagels (though these don't look crusty enough for my taste, EXTRA TOASTED PLEASE).

I'm a sucker for bagels. Everything, garlic, or poppyseed. Toasted (extra toasted, please if there's not a perfect brown color the first round through), with veggie cream cheese, or lox, capers, tomatoes, cream cheese, and red onion (not in that order). Also a sucker for New York Times articles about bagels, of which there are a surprising amount. See herehere, and here. Most of the NYTimes articles revolve around the tragedy of West coast bagels, and I can relate, in a Texas kind of way. While I lived in San Antonio, TX, I craved a good, crunchy, cream cheesey bagel, but the only bagel place that seemed to pop up on Google, was a shuttered, vacant, downtown bagel shop. No wonder, because when I reluctantly bought bagels at Central Market, the grocery giant HEB's 'gourmet,' grocery store, no less than three people walked up to me in the bakery section to ask what I was planning to do with that there bagel. So yes, while California works on perfecting their bagel recipes, the Southwest is still figuring out what a bagel is, and what it's used for.

So why bagels now? Well, I'm set to move to Brooklyn after I finish the writer's residency that I'm at for the month of August, so it's ALMOST TIME FOR BAGELS. Amped. So excited. Ok, enough about bagels (but not really).

2. Books.

My house/hovel/apartment/yurt/car would look like this if I: 1. Actually bought books instead of borrowing 2. Had unlimited library rentals 3. Hadn't read Marie Kondo's book...

My house/hovel/apartment/yurt/car would look like this if I: 1. Actually bought books instead of borrowing 2. Had unlimited library rentals 3. Hadn't read Marie Kondo's book...

I walked over to the library last week and made the mistake of walking out with a pile of books up to my hairline. Mistake because the house I'm living in for this residency has PILES of books (not quite at the level of the picture above...) and they're all books I've wanted to read. It's as if that mirror from Harry Potter plucked out my reading list and just deposited it here in this house. But no, apparently that wasn't enough for me, because I had to go and ransack the local library as well. For a town of maybe 1,800 souls, the library has a surprisingly large selection. Also, they just started an "Art Library," a few weeks ago. The opening had chocolate fondue, chocolate cake, and local cider (yes, the food made a big impression on me — this town is not known for sugar, mostly earthy-crunchy healthy no sugar no fun food). But yes, the Art Library is a neat concept where you can borrow, you guessed it, ART for I think 90 days. Cool concept. Anyways, books I read/reading this month.

  • Ann Patchett - State of Wonder

  • Paolo Coelho - Brida

  • Joanne Harris - Chocolat

  • Emma Rathbone - Losing it (AWFUL, had to put it down after the first chapter)

  • Touchstone Creative Nonfiction Anthology

  • Dan Roam - Blah, Blah, Blah: What to Do When Words Don't Work

  • Julia Cameron - Floor Sample

  • Rebecca Solnit - A Field Guide to Getting Lost

3. Hiking in Sandals

Hello foot in front of pretty landscape photo. I'm original. 

Hello foot in front of pretty landscape photo. I'm original. 

Finally, I've joined the ranks of sandal-wearing, douchey hikers! Growing up near the Adirondack Mountains, you'd rarely see sandal-hikers; the ground is so marshy, wet, cold, blah blah blah frostbite. So no, it was really rare to see anyone without socks, boots, and maybe even gaiters. 

Ever since the Instagram explosion of #hikingporn (not sure that's an actual hashtag) with beautiful photos of beautiful people hiking to amazing places, all in sandals, I knew I'd have to jump on that bus. My feet sweat easily, profusely, and unfortunately (I wore boots every single day in the Army, which meant lots and lots of foot-sweat). Hiking in sandals seemed liberating, cool, and perfect for Instagram photos of my feet (I'm sure everyone is excited to see my duck paddler wide feet). Anyways, other than the two blisters after more than 20 miles in those suckers, they've been awesome to hike in. I will say, they are a DEATH WISH on wet rocks. So, if you're in the desert-y type dry terrain, go for it. In Costa Rica, trying to climb up a stream to see a waterfall, an absolute nightmare. 

Happy hiking!

Yoga writing and teaching

Yoga teaching

Yoga on the fifth floor of a parking garage

Yoga on the fifth floor of a parking garage

I'm sad that I've left behind such a diverse set of studios in San Antonio. I taught for a mobile outdoor studio, where we had classes on pedestrian bridges, breweries, chapels, plazas, all sorts of locations around San Antonio. I also had the contrast of teaching at a boutique, small loft, yoga studio in the historic King William district. There's also my stint volunteer teaching on Fort Sam Houston, karma yoga teaching at Southtown Yoga Loft, subbing at 5 Points Local,  as well as teaching mobility at Crossfit MBS. So yes, a nice variety of studios, locations, and people.

One (kinda stupid) difference between northeast and southwest yoga studios is the relaxed atmosphere regarding class times. In Boston, if you weren't 10 minutes early, you didn't have a place to park your yoga mat. In San Antonio, if you came 10 minutes late, the class would just be starting. No doors ever locked after class started (at least at the studios I worked for) which contrasted sharply with Boston, where if you were late, too bad so sad, you weren't allowed to come in late and disturb the class. 

Other than that, yogis are yogis everywhere in the US. I'm sure more insight about my San Antonio experience is forthcoming, but until then, that's all I have. 

Teaching at the Southwest School of Arts Chapel for Mobile Om

Teaching at the Southwest School of Arts Chapel for Mobile Om

Boring article stuff

So I started compiling yoga articles here. Mainly because I didn't want to just copy paste them to ninajuliayoga.com and well, this author Alice Bradley, who I discovered a few months ago (and now love) also uses Contently to compile her writings.

I'm still "finding my voice," I suppose you could say. Part of me is super sarcastic and snarky, but I tend to not write in that tone for yoga...because really, what kind of yoga teacher does that? Trying to figure out an outlet for my sarcastic stuff. Maybe it will just be this blog. We'll see. So far on the yoga side I've written about breaking in as a teacher, volunteering at yoga festivals, teaching without music, and my issues around dealing with transition in my life. Planning on writing about some of the interesting characters you get in yoga studios (both on the teacher as well as student side).

Another watercolor update - painting of an elk

This project turned out the best so far (in my humble, beginning artist opinion). I'm not sure if it's because of the simplicity or because I love sketching or drawing animals (in comparison to human forms and faces, animals are much more forgiving if you get the proportions slightly off, which invariably happens to me). Man, I love using parentheses, another habit to break. But anyways, here's some photos of the elk painting. I ended up sending it to my father for Father's day and he loved it. He framed it himself and plunked it on the dining room wall. My ma has been telling me about how the plumber loved it (I'll take all and every bit of admiration :) which makes me happy. 

Update on my watercolor progress - my last three weeks

Three weeks ago we finally painted using color! Progress! Switching from pure tonal painting (using sepia) to actually having to do some color theory, was a challenge - but so satisfying. I use student grade (affordable) Winsor Cotman watercolors on 300 lb cold pressed Arches watercolor paper (not affordable). Luckily, our teacher is a thrifty Texan who gives us one piece of paper for every class, which he tears off of a large sheet (22 X 30 in ).

So far we only use one brush: a round size 12 faux sable brush. I bought mine from a local store, Herweck's, which makes their own student grade brushes.

We all painted tomatoes from a printed picture that our teacher gave us; below is my attempt.

The week after, we did our first landscape. Betty is not impressed.

The following week after doing our landscape, we painted a door, again from a picture print out. That was two days ago, so now you're all caught up on my slow plod to watercolor mastery.

My teacher is in his sixties, and gives us all hope each time we ask him why he made a color or wash choice. His answer, "I can't really explain what I'm doing...I've been doing it for thirty years though, so it just kind of happens now."

I'm hoping that I can paint up until I die (maybe around my eighties, who knows?) so this craft will continue for sixty plus years...hopefully I will be decent by then!

I haven't finished this painting yet...class is only three hours and we spend about half of the time watching our teacher paint.

Almost forgot, we added another brush to our repertoire! A one-inch flat brush for broad washes.

Video editing for my creative residency application!

Here's a snapshot of how I spent my weekend last week (in between laundry, teaching yoga classes, and scrounging together leftovers).

I hooked up my father-in-law's old TV as a makeshift monitor while working on my video for my Adobe Creative residency project. It worked perfectly to use while I edited in Adobe Premiere.

Also pictured: my baked sweet potato (in foil), an almost empty bottle of green juice, my husband's gaming headphones that I used for my voice-overs, and some paper towels hiding behind my laptop. Oh - and the IKEA desk that I bought on Craigslist years ago, that my husband hates (it's huge and a pain to fit through doorways, which happens more than you'd think; with both of us serving in the Army, we've had more moves between the two of us in four years, than what most people experience in a life-time) but that I love. Anything I buy off of Craigslist has a special place in my heart. I don't know if it's the bargain and treasure hunt aspect or if I actually like the item. Regardless, it's here to stay.