Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Pottery 101

Michelle and I started our 8 week pottery class tonight. It was an interesting format. We both kind of expected to go in, sit down and learn how to use a pottery wheel step by step. We expected kind of the same skill level from all the students. In reality, it was much more of a relaxed atmosphere and there were students of all levels working pretty much at their leisure. We got some basic instruction from the teacher and then set right to playing with clay. Michelle and I each made three small pieces tonight and we got off to a good start. I'm looking forward to having more time on the wheel. I can make tiny pieces but I need to work on making them slimmer and not so bottom heavy. Hopefully I'll be able to put a little height on them at some point too. I can't really get much above 7 or 8 inches yet. I'm actually hoping to make either some goblets or tea bowls or something. I'll update with some pictures of our work once some things (that we want to show) are glazed and fired. Talk to you soon! -J

Monday, July 28, 2008


Hello! Here's a quick post to show what Michelle and I did for her lunch tomorrow! We made some things from a bento website and a book we picked up at Borders.

Here's a picture of the lunch:

The top tier contains a mix of nectarine, mandarin orange and sliced Kiwi fruit.

Below that is a cabbage salad with balsamic vinegar, garlic and dried cranberries. I fixed this one. It smells like it'll be fantastic!

The bottom tier is most interesting. We have three rice balls (Onigiri), on the left is sweetened egg, in the middle is Umeboshi (Japanese Pickled Plum), and on the right, wrapped in plastic is Shrimp, soy sauce, sake, ginger and a little sugar. It smells like the shrimp from the Hibachi grill. I'll bet it's going to taste awesome. I made myself an egg onigiri for a snack tomorrow. Also in the bottom tier is a small sweet potato cake we picked up from the Asian market in Charleston.

On the right is the lid of the Bento box which contains some mixed nuts, which we are now crazy about thanks to Gina's well timed bowl of them the last time we were up there.

I wish I was eating this lunch tomorrow, but I'll probably have a yogurt bar or something boring. :) Anyway, just thought I'd let you see what we made! Talk to you soon!


General Update

Well, There's a lot of stuff going on, and things are going well at the moment. I just decided to do a quick update on a few things to keep both of my readers informed. :)

I'll begin with a quick thanks to God for such a great weekend. I feel like there is a lot I should thank him for that I don't, and I really felt like He gave me this weekend. Michelle and I got to spend a lot of time just hanging out, and we have been so busy for the last month or two that it was a nice change of pace to say the least. We got to do a little shopping and have a nice dinner and just relax.

So I was excited in part because my dad was making a hiking stick for Michelle and we surprised her with it this weekend. Here's a picture of the top:

It has a face carved into it and a bone Celtic Triquetra on the strap. Also her initials and a reference to Proverbs 10:10-14. The surprise went well and she loved it. I found out at the same time that I'm getting one too, but I don't have a picture just yet, because it's not quite ready.

In other news, Michelle and I ran in the park Sunday evening and we pulled off an 8:56 minute mile! That's a new personal best over my previous 9:09! I could've gone further, except we had just eaten and a full stomach is not conducive to endurance while running. Also, I think I have broken my plateau at 198. I am now 197 and still continuing my quest for smaller pants! :)

A little news on the FBC Praise band! We have guitar, vocals, keys, bass and drums lined up and played together for the first time as a group at the 5:30 service at church. I think things went very well! It's a lot of fun to be playing in a band regularly again. I'm enjoying the bass a lot and even though I'm going to have to work up to being good at it, I think it'll be a great time!

Let me see, the last thing I think I have for now is that I ordered a Bento box! If you aren't familiar with Bento, it's a traditional lunch box in Japan. I got one for Michelle this past Christmas and she's been having a lot of fun packing lunches in it. I'll put a picture of my box up here when I get it. Here's Michelle's box:

She has another one in yellow on order as well. Anyway, you can see that the box is way cooler than a typical brown bag. The lunches themselves are works of art! children in Japan take the most fun lunches ever to school! Go to Flickr sometime and search for Bento. Or just on Yahoo or something. you'll find hundreds of pictures! Here's an example.

Ok, so I think that's enough for now. I'll update again soon, once we have our new boxes and everything!


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The next leg of the journey, etc.

Hey again! Well, first off, I am over the hump. 199.5 and dropping. I'd like to say it's all downhill from here, but honestly, as the weight drops, it gets harder and harder to lose. Let me wax poetic for a moment if I may. It's kind of like I was rising out of the water until I hit 200. Psychologically it's like surfacing and taking a deep breath. I finally made it that far. Now though, I will attempt to flap my arms and rise into the air. It will become considerably slower before too much longer I imagine, but I think I'm up to it. All of thing great things about losing weight are beginning to happen. I'm wearing old pants, and starting to get those "have you lost weight" looks. Not to mention the energy level is up. I was relating to Michelle the other day about when I found the strength to start this whole thing. It was right after the 5k on Memorial day actually. I was standing there, very proud of my 37 minute finish, and I saw a guy who had also run the race. He was slim and probably in his 40s. He was walking and eating a banana. Looked like he was having a great day. So was I, but I thought, "I would love to be in good shape like that, and just happy to have run my race, and enjoying a healthy snack." I decided that I would "Have my banana" some day. Later that day I had a hot dog or something equally questionable. It was Memorial Day after all. That evening I think I had BW3 Hot Wings for dinner. But all day I thought about that banana havin' dude after the race. I thought about the Appalachian Trail, and I thought about where I'd be in my mid-40s if I didn't take back my health. Michelle and I had already started our exercise routine. We'd run a 5k. I was still eating more than I should. I just ate more to compensate for the extra energy needed for the training. I hadn't dropped any weight in that process. That night I sat by myself and took the time to think about what I was about to undertake. I said a few prayers for strength and determination, and I went to bed, knowing that when I woke up, that would be the start of it. Anyway, That's where I was. 227.5 pounds. Now, at 199.5, I feel as though I have made the turn that will lead to the rest of the journey. Perhaps the halfway point, or perhaps the third of the way point. Who could say? Tonight I'll say a few more prayers, prepare for the rest of the battle, and meet the Appalachian Trail in the spring as a lean, mountain climbing machine. Wish me luck! -Jon

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Diet and Fitness Update

Ok, I had something a bit miraculous happen while I was in Vegas. I never expected it, because I had to eat catered food and didn't get to do my regular exercise. I assumed I'd come home having to fight back for the pounds I'd have gained. Yesterday I stepped on the scale, expecting something like 2 or 3 pounds of extra weight, but color me surprised when I registered 1.5 pounds lighter than when I left! Yep. That's right! I LOST 1.5 pounds in Las Vegas at a three day catered meeting! I even had a fruit tart one night for dessert! The only thing I can figure is that I did have to do a lot of walking and that must've balanced things out or something. Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised. I am at 200 pounds exactly and I hope tomorrow to see my first sub-200 pound weight in almost 2 years! This brings my weight loss total to 27.5 pounds of my initial 50 pound goal! Also, another milestone this week. I ran my first ever sub-10 minute mile! Yesterday I took off and really tried to push myself. I managed to run a 9:09! I couldn't believe it. I was exhausted and about to puke, and unsure whether my legs would support me on the rest of the run/walk, but I did it. If I can maintain that pace for a full 5k, I'll be running well under a 30 minute. I think I'd settle for just under a 30 minute right now. It's one of the things to do on my 43 things profile. The next 5k is coming up on Labor Day, and I hope to run that one in under 30 minutes. Maybe I'll pull it off, and maybe not, but I think I can probably do it with a month and a half yet to train. Well, that's about all for now. I just wanted to update you on how unexpectedly well my running and weight loss have been going for me this week. Yay!! -J

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Spur of the Moment Stew and Trader Joe's Too

This weekend was fun. Our normal Columbus D&D group got together and rather than playing this time, we went to the North Market and Just kind of hung around playing Rock Band and whatever else came to mind. It was a good time. We started with the North Market, which was about as close to an old world Marketplace as you can get in 21st Century America. All kinds of strange, unusual foods and fare. Michelle and I tried chocolate milk tea with coconut jelly, as well as a banana honey smoothie with tapioca pearls. The experience was odd. I liked them both, but with a certain amount of healthy wariness. There was a trip to a hobby store and of course the obligatory stop at Trader Joe's. I love Trader Joe's! We always load up on dried fruits and anything odd that we find that looks good. This time we picked up candied dried hibiscus blossoms. They turned out to be pretty good. A little like a fruit roll up kind of texture, but they're flowers. As always I grabbed my flattened dried bananas, and we got a bag of freeze dried rambutan. We had a bag full of things, including a wide assortment of Clif bar flavors we can't get at home. Apple Cranberry Cherry and Carrot Cake are my personal favorites. So as the evening went on, we all found ourselves back at the Chez Cooper, where Aaron and Michele had earlier set a crock of leftover pork from the pig roast to warm. That was fantabulous as well, along with a Lemon-Rosemary Cake from a Ravenwood Castle cookbook. You'd really begin to wonder if I was actually dieting if you only read this entry. :) As for that though, I have made it to my halfway point. 25 pounds and counting! After we had dinner, Gina showed us her new kitchen knives and gave us a quick lesson in proper vegetable chopping technique. We then took the pile of chopped practice vegetables and made "Spur of the Moment" stew by throwing them, some chicken broth and a little pork together, and seasoning it with wreckless abandon. It turned out to be pretty good I must say. So that's what I did on my weekend vacation and now I'm getting ready to head off to Las Vegas. Maybe I'll see Elvis!! -J

Friday, July 11, 2008

Charlie's Bunion

Michelle and I were down in Georgia this past weekend for my cousin's wedding and on the way back we stopped in Tennessee and did a quick day hike in the Smoky Mountains. My profile picture actually came from the ones we took on the hike. It was an absolutely beautiful walk in the mountains that took us over 4 miles of the Appalachian Trail. We were only moderately rained on. This was a kind of scouting mission of sorts for the big trip in the spring I mentioned last post. We checked out one of the many shelters that are built along the AT:

This is the Icewater Spring Shelter. Looks pretty cozy doesn't it? I thought so. Anyway, while there we ran into a crew who worked for the AT Conservancy, performing trail maintenance and such. One of them was carrying a 50 gallon drum instead of a backpack. We also ran into a guy who had through-hiked the trail in 1979 and was back to visit on a weekend trip. Then, in perhaps one of the strangest events that has ever happened to me, we ran into a peahen. Yep. An honest to goodness peahen:

Don't ask me what she's doing there. All I know is that she was very nice and led us quite a way down the trail above the shelter before turning aside to wait on her next party. She was a dutiful trail guide.

Anyway, the view from the Bunion was fantastic. We were told by some other hikers that the fog had just rolled out 5 minutes before we arrived. Here are a couple of shots that turned out really nice:

Anyone who hasn't had a chance to hike in the Smoky Mountains should definitely take the time to do it. The views are well worth the hike. Go to it and have fun!!


Thursday, July 10, 2008

A very good place to start...

Well, I think I'll try and start a blog. I've had a few half hearted attempts over the years, and once I even did really well with one for awhile. The Fountain of Wisdom on my old homepage was a long lived, if sporadically updated little online journal, even before blogging took off. So this is Trudger's Treatises. So named, as to fit with the convention set by the Coopers. I wanted something using an online pseudonym, that being Trudger, and an alliterative word that had something to do with writing, informing, or something to that effect, thus Treatises. It is my hope that I can use this blog in such a way as to keep up those who are interested in what's going on. Keep in mind that I am not, and will never be a daily journal keeper. My journals tend to be the kind in which 15 to 20 entries can span the space of a year. Sometimes more, sometimes less. My paper journals are this way as well. I can never really come up with something to write on a daily basis. So I'll just start with the latest things that are happening and we'll go from there. First, I am writing my novel. I started it back in March of this year after I was finally able to mostly nail down a good story from beginning to end in an outline form. I've tried to write books before, but what would happen is that I'd start strong, and then lacking a solid storyline to follow, I would tend to meander, and the lose my train of thought. So far, "Merrick" is not proceeding this way. It has been much easier to stay on course with the outline and I highly recommend that any budding author use one. Currently I am stuck dealing with how much of the backstory (and forestory for that matter) to reveal, and the pace in which I should reveal it. I've had trouble with books and short stories I've tried in the past with pacing. My exposition tends to be a little frantic, because I want to get the whole thing on paper now! I mean, I want the reader to know the cool stuff as fast as possible, so what comes out is a vast jumble of exposition, followed by a vacuum created by having nothing left to say. Again, the outline has helped in this regard, but I need to make certain I do not "spill the beans" too quickly or there's no hope for keeping it interesting for the whole ride. If you'd like to check out the prelude to "Merrick" it is posted on my website. Just create an account and have a look! The next thing that comes to mind that's going on is my current bid for fitness, spurred on by the impending arrival of the spring of 2009, which brings with it a 100 mile trek on the Appalachian Trail that my wife and I are planning. I have dropped about 23 pounds thus far, and intend, before the end of the year, to drop another 27 at the least. My motto has been "The less I weigh, the less I have to carry up that mountain!" I have been eating fewer than 1500 calories a day and using a mix of cardio (jogging and hiking) and some light weight work and ab work for tone. Michelle and I are working out together and recently ran our first 5k race. Another is approaching on Labor Day which we hope to run faster. This running thing started when one of our friends decided to use the "Couch to 5k" program to jump start his own fitness. We did it together and all ran the race. We all finished, alive and vertical. Anyway I am using a site called "The Daily Plate" to track my food and exercise. Jenn N. mentioned it months ago, and Michelle and I just started using it this past week. It's actually a lot of fun to track your progress and daily nutrition. I read an article that said people who keep a daily log of what they eat tend to lose more weight than those who don't. I'm taking every advantage I can. Go here to check out my daily plate profile! So those two things are taking up quite a bit of my time these days. That and work of course. Next week I'll be flying out to Las Vegas for our company trade show and some training. Vegas is fun for a little while, but I'm glad I won't be out there for an extended period. Too, too hot! Also, I'm working on playing a little bit of bass guitar in the budding praise band down at church. That's been fun so far, and I'm looking forward to getting to play something I haven't really played in a band before. Ok, I think I've flooded you, intrepid reader, with enough things to think about. I know you'll spend the day with them on your mind. "I wonder what Jon is eating right now?" "I wonder if he's gotten past his problem in Merrick?" "I'll bet he's jogging. You KNOW he has to be jogging!" Talk to you soon! Have a good one and eat your vegetables! :) -J