Weeks 30 – 32: A Sunday NYT Crossword, Raw Foods Diet, and the Dog Day of Summer

Week 30 and 31 – A Sunday NYT Crossword and the Raw Foods Diet

         The New Things journey cannot always run smoothly. During Weeks 30 and 31, I made valiant – but ultimately unsuccessful – attempts at New Things # 50 and # 45 Finish a Sunday New York Times Crossword Puzzle and Eat a Raw Foods Diet for Seven Days.

         I have 20 years of schooling under my belt. I am a voracious reader … I enjoy history and I – at the very least – skim the top news stories every day. Once, after one of Sarah Palin’s infamous media flubs during her ill-fated VP run, I proved that I could name 50+ seminal US Supreme Court cases in under two minutes (not one of my cooler moments). In sum, I KNOW THINGS. And yet, I was completely and utterly humbled by the Sunday Times crossword.*

          * Note: I belatedly learned that the Sunday puzzle isn’t the hardest, as I originally thought. However, it is the largest. So that is something?

         I spent the better part of two hours alternately staring at the page and straight ahead – perhaps, if I furrowed my brow enough, the answer would appear in a spectral form in the air above the coffee table. Thankfully, I was flanked by two friends – one offering moral support, the other dropping hints.

You should be able to get 16-down – a five letter word for unkempt.”

How do you know what 16-down is?”

I saw it.”

Oh.” (Yeah, for thirty seconds twenty minutes ago, you freak of nature!)

         I learned that there are some tricks and rules that a newbie like me can only hope to guess at. For example, a question-mark at the end of the clue may indicate that the answer is a play on words. I was perplexed by the number of clues that ended like the following – Tip for a reporter, maybe. “Maybe? Maybe what? MAYBE that’s the clue???” In the end, I gave up and went to bed with less than half of the puzzle completed. I enjoyed the challenge, however. Perhaps once I make it through this book, I’ll be ready to use crossword as a mental exercise when I am riding on the metro, sitting at the dog park, etc.

Raw_1_Final

         The day after being schooled by the New York Times, I tackled an entirely different challenge – a week eating nothing but raw food. Although I’m a fan of vegetables, I typically like them seasoned (especially with bacon!) and cooked. I begun the week armed with a bushel? peck? of fresh produce purchased from a vendor affectionately known as “Grandma” in the local farmer’s market. Knowing that rabbit food alone wouldn’t keep me going, I bought an assortment of nuts for when I was feeling peckish.

         I quickly learned – not every item on the New Things List is necessarily a GOOD idea. Jumping in to a rather radical diet with no foundational knowledge may have been a little silly. Particularly because I’m a big fan of protein. The first day, I was fairly happy munching on slices of tomato, carrots, and red and green peppers. By the third afternoon, I felt weak and had a splitting headache. I unashamedly tore into a spinach, mushroom and BACON omelet that evening. Despite my failure, I learned to appreciate the taste of unadorned vegetables in their natural form. Most notably, I never realized how much flavor a red pepper has. (I also noted that I seemed less dehydrated than usual during those two days). I happily continued to snack on raw veggies the rest of the week.

         To bookend the experience, I ate a raw-food meal done right at Khepra’s Raw Food Bar in H Street. My first impression was surprise over how much FOOD I was given for only $11. My meal easily weighed a lb and a half. The meal was surprisingly complex in its flavors, and much of it was delicious. My favorite sides were curried peas and sprouted grains, and “fried” plantains with a spicy fig-based sauce. The main – a “meatloaf” made from almonds – was also tasty. However, it tasted absolutely nothing like meat. Sorry, Khepra. Overall, I was a fan and would certainly go back – particularly since they were out of the raw cookies. Even if they’ve never seen an oven … I don’t discriminate when it comes to cookies. 

Raw_2_Final

Week 32: The Dog Day of Summer

         For those of you who don’t know me personally, I’m a proud dog-mom to a 3-year-old poodle mix named Callie. With my busy work schedule, it takes a bit of planning to ensure that she gets enough exercise and attention every day. Although caring for a dog takes commitment, I never consider it to be a burden because Callie gives me so much love in return.

         I recently read that the modern-day dog descended from wolves living near early human settlements – specifically, those wolves that made eye-contact. with us Feeling a deep connection with these animals, man domesticated them. This theory rings true personally, as most dogs – Callie included – seem to me to be well-versed in the language of human kindness. After all, how better to show kindness, empathy, and love than to look someone in the eye and offer a hand – or paw, or wet-nosed nuzzle? For all the joy she brings me, I felt that my beloved pup deserved her very own New Thing, namely # 51: “Give Callie the Best Doggone Day Ever.”

         The morning of Callie’s big day, I woke early, but didn’t immediately leave the comfort of the covers. Instead, I pulled my canine bedfellow close and gave her an indulgent belly rub. After making a dog-approved breakfast of scrambled eggs and turkey, we headed out on a 3-mile walk to the Capitol building and back. I avoided walking at my usual brisk tempo. Instead, I let Callie set the pace – stopping to greet every passer-by, sprinting to catch a taunting squirrel, etc. She carried a stick in her mouth for a solid half-mile, turning in place every minute to proudly show me her prize. On the way back, we stopped by the local park and played fetch until she dropped, panting happily in the grass.

         Callie went everywhere I did that day. She joined me at a friend’s barbeque, spending the first 20 minutes swapping laps and giving kisses before a playmate arrived. Rather than tying her to a tree at my weekly kickball game, I let her stay by my side behind home plate. Overcome by excitement, at one point she made a break for the pitcher’s mound. Per usual, my friendly pup stole everyone’s heart. Another team even adopted her as their mascot for a running-of-the-bulls themed “spirit week” photo. At the happy hour after the game, she lounged on top of the outdoor tables and accepted scraps as tribute.

         Unsurprisingly, my little pup was pooped after our long day. She curled up in her favorite spot on my lap and stared up at me until her eye-lids drooped. As she slept, Callie’s tiny paws twitched and she let out several muted “woofs.” I like to think that she was reliving her doggone-good day. 

Dog_Day_Final

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