Note:

This blog is now retired. My new site is at: Predictably Irrational.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Play-By-Play

I ran a tempo run today: 1 mile warm-up, 3 mile tempo, 1 mile cool-down. I wasn't sure I had it in me, as I started late (4:45 PM) and my tummy still felt full from my late, late lunch about an 1 hour or so earlier.

This time, however, I remembered each song I listened to and in what order. This is what I tried to do Sunday but as soon as I walked in the door, I totally forgot everything in between the first song and the last.

This was a great way to get through this run, concentrating on the songs to remember later. Yeah, maybe it doesn't make sense to you, but it was fun to do.

Here are the songs I heard during my 5.42 mile run:

1. Razorblade - Blue October
2. Martha Ann - David Karsten Daniels
3. 11h30 - Danger
4. On A Plain - Nirvana
5. Into the Ocean - Blue October
6. Good Day - Greg Street/Nappy Roots
7. Still Waiting - Sum 41
8. Tire Swing - Kimya Dawson
9. Crazy Love - Van Morrison
10. American Boy - Estelle/Kanye West
11. Walk Around the Lake - Lost in the Trees
12. Lake of Fire - Nirvana
13. In Bloom - Nirvana
14. You Got To Lose, You Can't Win - John Dee Holeman
15. Put Your Records On - Corinne Bailey Rae
16. Killing In The Name Of - Rage Against the Machine

Book Review: The $64 Tomato: How One Man nearly Lost His Snity, Spent a Fortune, and endured an Existential Crisis in the Quest for the Perfect Garden

The title takes up the allotted space that blogger allows for a title! But the book is by William Alexander, a man from New York's Hudson Valley, who's love for gardening turned him into, truly, a small-scale farmer.

I had this book on my library wish list for over two years. I decided it was finally time to read this sucker. And I'm so glad I did...

Although the author and setting is in New York, the publisher is Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill. I was thrilled to see a local connection to it, especially after enjoying it so much.

The $64 tomato is the final spreadsheet number that Alexander comes up with, for his prized Brandywine tomatoes, after including all of his expenses over the past 20 and multiplied, then divided, and discovered how much growing these tomatoes actually cost him.

But that's just one side of the story...the rest is entertaining as hell and despite being a green thumb (but I do love gardening and have been successful at it), I could relate to his story to other aspects of what I consider as my own hobby.

But Alexander starts with a new, old house, in the Hudson Valley, which has about three acres of space for he and his wife to build their dream garden.

This account takes the reader through the entire process and Alexander is sarcastic, funny, and just blunt about pointing out his mania at building the ideal garden.

He continues through a twenty year journey of ups and downs, mostly accounting for the downs, but behind the lines of the negativity, I can read the love and passion this man has for the labor of growing, harvesting, and tending to the garden.

There is an underlying connection to life in general, with his gardening accounts. I compare it to the short and sweet book, Good Dog. Stay., but an account of the life span (that still continues today) of this garden vs. the lifespan of a loved pet.

It's mesmerizing and really gets one thinking about things...and some of the things he states I found comparable to my own life.

When he compares his wife's view on 'tending to the garden' vs. his own, I felt the same comparison between the way Tim looks at things and the way I do. When he gets upset with his wife, because she hadn't tended to the garden as he had expected. And by "expected", I mean she DID work on the garden, just not to what his expectations were.

Instead of weeding the overgrown vegetable garden, his wife had cleaned up the flower garden. And Alexander felt that this was ridiculous, as no one cares about the flower garden -- but the veggie garden is the one that is an unseemly mess!

He states:
I came to understand that Anne saw nothing at all incongruous about her morning in the garden. Her goal that morning was a few hours of relaxation -- deadheading, tying, cutting flowers for the house. My goal for the morning had nothing to do with the pleasures of gardening and everything to do with the often unrewarding but necessary work of gardening.


He continues with:
I am goal driven in the garden. I head out there with a job to do, and I don't leave until it's finished. Anne heads to garden when she feels like gardening, and unless I specifically direct her, she will spend the next few hours pursuing whatever activity brings her the most gratification.


Ding! Ding! This is exactly the same relationship that Tim and I have. Tim is a workaholic and sees everything as a job that must get done. This is GREAT because I have a house that is getting remodeled by this man, who takes pride in his work and gets the job done.

Where there is a problem is that I don't think that way. I want things to be fun - butterflies and song birds singing all around - as I tell him my fabulous ideas for HIM to work on to get things done.

And I'll gladly do my part...when I feel the "calling" of something. For example, I spent a day or so working on our guest bathroom: painting, changing the fixtures, repainting the cabinets and mirrors, hanging a blind, etc. I even put together a piece of bathroom furniture to add to it. All by myself, with just a little bit of help from Tim (I had no idea how to use a drill, screwdriver thingy...still don't). Tim was ecstatic and pleased and usually points to that project as something he'd like to see more often from me.

But that was my calling that day. Something I wanted to do and enjoyed doing. I don't get that everyday and Tim, well, he might not get that every day, but he looks at something as a job to be done *every day*.

I tried to bring this up last night but it almost turned into an argument...so either my view is totally skewed and I have been mistaken, or I didn't explain it right.

Back to the book...the existentialism to this novel, while interwoven throughout the novel, comes close to the end, as 20 years has past, Alexander is 50 years old and has been diagnosed with herniated disks. Age has caught up and he is no longer able to bend over, digging, hoeing, pushing barrels of mulch, manure, soil, etc. Things will have to change and by this time, he has a love-hate relationship with his "garden", which has now turned into a small-scale farm.

He ponders the question "If you were doomed to live the same life over and over again for eternity, would you choose the life you are living now?" Deep thoughts that continue into "If the answer is no, then why are you living the life you are living now? Stop making excuses, and do something about it."

I think we all tend to wonder these things. Sometimes it has to do with work and sometimes, more often than we like, it has to do with life in general.

So far, my answer is YES, with the caveat of changing some terrible decisions, which do not include my children, my husband, or my pets. :-)

A great book, stylized in a first-hand account of a hobby-turned-to-job. William Alexander is a great story teller, in the same vein of David Sedaris. You will laugh more than you'll realize, and I think, you will ponder your own life as you walk through Alexander's.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Off Kilter

I am easily distracted when it comes to working out.

If I have a routine, and I am regularly doing it at a semi-precise schedule, then I am workout queen. I don't stop, I get even more hungry for a workout, and can end up doing two workouts in one day, for six to seven days.

When I don't have my regular routine or regular schedule, I do the very opposite of what I've said above: I do no workouts and if I don't literally FORCE MYSELF to do something, I can go six to seven days without doing a thing.

And having time off from work seems to be the common denominator in throwing my schedule and routine off. Without the "have to get up and go to work" routine, I don't have to get up.

Without a precision schedule of when I eat, when I run, when I do whatever, then I eat when I want to and run when I want to, which ends up being never.

But it's also the routine: I am home with the girls and Tim works, so I have no one to watch the girls while I go for a run. Babysitting? I pay a lot of money _while_ working to have someone pick up my girls. Part of my week off is saving that money for when I really need it.

But I could get up earlier, get my run in before Tim goes. Or I could suffer through the dreadmill. But I really do not want to do anything on the dreadmill...

The moral of my story is: if I'm not working, my workout routine goes to shit.

Fortunately, I have a little time before my race in February to be off...

But I ran Sunday, which is technically my day off, but since I've made every day a day off since Tuesday, then I decided I could fit a run in on my "day off".

I put in a little over five miles, running around Lake Lynn. It was awesome because there were *so many* people out and about. And usually, I would care little about having to run around people who don't know the rules of the road (stay on the right), everyone - including me - semmed to be in a great mood.

I passed one runner who sang at the top of his lungs every time I passed him (in opposite directions).

I have to be honest, this was a forced run...a run that I *had* to do because I was getting really cranky with myself. I grabbed the iPod and played Possum Kingdom to get me motivated -- and it worked!

I actually wanted to write a play-by-play, literally, of my music-to-run route, but after Possum Kingdom, I have forgotten the order of all the songs I listened to along my run. Oh well. Something to try to do for next time.

But I got out there and imagine, getting my run in motivated me to eat better that day, and to accomplish a lot of tasks that I had let go. And then today comes along and I am still motivated: cleaned my car, cleaned my car, paid some bills, did a little shopping at Goodwill (scoff if you must, but there are some good buys there), got dinner ingredients, did my P90X workout, read e-mail, surfed, played Word Challenge (why-oh-why do I suck so bad at this? I love words!), packed up clothes to _give_ to goodwill, cooked dinner, ate, drank, was merry, and now blogging and I still have a few things left in me to do more stuff before I plan to call it a day.

And all of this while hanging out with my best girls, then later, with my best man (until someone better comes along)...

All because of one six mile run...now, why would I resist this so?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Two More Great Moments I Forgot to Mention

One is a fitness accomplishment and the other is a running moment that I meant to include in my list but forgot (see previous post "Things I Lost")...

First: getting back into the pool. Not that I really was "in" the pool, but for some odd reason, as I got older, I got more fraidy-cat about swimming in the pool. Not because I feared drowning (I can swim) but because I feared something extremely superficial: what I might look like flailing around in the pool. But through basic help and encouragement from my friends and coach, I made it back and followed a routine...which can easily be skipped, but I'm not _that_ afraid anymore.

And my running feels great the day after. Of course, this is because I use fins :-). Hey, I'm back but I'm not training for a swim meet, so anything that keeps me happy and less scaredy-cat, I'm going to do it.

$Bill has always been encouraging, FOR YEARS...Tim to a certain degree, since he doesn't "get" my neurosis...but my biggest encouragement came from an unlikely person: my occasional running buddy Melissa P. One day, she, $Bill and I went out for a run and I hinted at my swimming fear, in which she recommended the fins (which never occurred to me) and was extremely empathetic to my dilemma. And she is a hell of a swimmer and all cockiness, know-it-all, why-would-you-be-scared was nowhere to be found. All but a good friend who was helping me out with words of wisdom.


Okay, the one running thing that I can't believe I didn't post....drum roll please...

...On November 19th, $Bill and I ran up the spillway, AKA half mile hill, in under 5 minutes!! This wasn't an original goal I set up for myself; this was $Bill's goal he mentioned early in the year. I noticed, after hearing him state that, that at the next run up that hill, I timed myself. I was on the _other_ side of five minutes and I scrambled to be quick up that hill. I realized, this goal of his was a doozy.

Then the summer came and there was no way in hell we would get under five then...but out of the blue, one fine fall day, that I was overdressed, we managed to make a run for it in 4:56 for 0.56 miles (it really is a half mile up this hill). I still get high thinking about it.

Great Running (and then some) Moments of 2008

So I posted about *my* personal feats of greatness :-). Now I want to post about what I found pretty darn cool by other people in my life.

First: my 10 year old, CJ, running a 9 minute mile at the fun run during the 4th of July race. She ran with Tim and I was expecting her around 10ish, maybe later. I saw them approaching the finish, and I looked at the clock, and it was in the 8s!!! I was stunned! Was this *my* daughter, running a pretty good pace! And giving her dad a run for his money? It was wonderful, absolutely wonderful.

Second: watching my 10 year old run a 7:5x minute mile at the Second Empire Fun Run, which was this past September. We were going to run it together but I couldn't keep up with her!! I told her not to worry about me, that I had my eye on her, but to just keep going. And she did. I watched her in awe...not appearing to be affected by her speed and just "jogging". She slowed down a tiny bit because I caught up with her at the turn around (and I wasn't going that fast) but toward the finish, I wanted her to finish strong so I yelled to her "Run CJ! Run for your donut!!" She had promised herself a donut after the race finished...

Third: seeing CJ and her BFF run the Reindeer Romp ON THEIR OWN...and most of all, seeing CJ in SHORTS on one of the coldest days of the month! A sign of a true runner... And, although there weren't 9 and 7 minute miles here, she stated that she and Sarah had cramps that made them have to walk a bit. When I asked if *she* was the one that had the cramps, she said they *both* did. So it was totally a team of one with two girls... If us chicks could only do the same when we're adults...

Fourth: Seeing Tim smash his 5K PR and run 23:08 at the Second Empire 5K. I was amazed and I knew all along there was a fast runner in him. I had to shame him into competing by blatantly telling him that I beat him at nearly every race over the past several years. So I can't beat him -- but I'm glad to see him get out there and be more competitive.

Fifth: Having $bill, Tim and Eric not only compete in their first adventure race but placing THIRD OVERALL MALE TEAM!! Tim has wanted to do these races for sometime and has finally found the attitude to do them...and to place third? With a race that was doomed to finish...

Sixth: In general, just seeing $Bill, my BFF and frequent running buddy/coach/motivator/optimist improve so much in running. Not that he never gave me a run for my money, but he is harder for me to keep up with now. We ran the Greater Raleigh Road Race, aka HOT-ASS AND HUMID RUN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY IN HOT-ASS & HUMID RALEIGH. I made sure he knew I was not running with him -- I didn't want to run that fast! But I kept my eye on him and I was just full of admiration for his commitment to this sport (and tris) and how much he improved in two years, and especially, the last year. I couldn't catch him, and despite what he thinks, I didn't try...I just got lucky that I caught up enough at the finish to give him his due: a big pat on the back.

Seventh: Convincing my BFF Sam to do her first triathlon. Not only did she agree, but she did so with much enthusiasm. And she went from someone who didn't run or bike to enjoying, well, the biking part...:-) And I loved every minute of being blamed for her getting into the game of triathlons. And I don't do tris and everyone would say "why is she not doing it, but she convinced you to???" Because SHE CAN...and I knew she could all along...

There are soooo many more: Frank finishing his marathon but more than his finish, his efforts during our training runs...he reminds me of me, thinking we don't have it in us and then we find that we do; meeting Frank's hot wife and running with her during my long runs...she also finished the tri that Sam did, balancing two kids (one with autism) and going to school, and on top of that, dealing with Frank!! I made a great friend in her... And then all the other folks that I run with, or know that run, and their accomplishments...and last but not least, my new friend Kevin, who persevered emotionally and physically to take on a thorn in his side, the White Rock Marathon for the third time!

There's just too many to mention and these people inspire me every day. Here's to more great running -- and then some -- in 2009.

Things That I Have Lost

I hate losing things and the past two weeks, I've lost several things and I have no idea where they are.

I'll start with my sunglasses, which were actually lost early Fall. These were awesome Uvex tortoise shades that I got from campmor.com about a year and half before for $19.99. These were to replace the black Uvex shades I purchased from campmor for 19.99, that I left at that stupid Viking ship ride at Disney World last January (2007). They are no longer on the site. :-( And I am pouting so I haven't relented to buying another pair.

But I don't know _how_ they could be lost. I wear them from car-to-office or office-to-car. And those are the only two places they should exist. But they are not there. I decide to do a full sweep every now and again to make sure. Still not there.

Last weekend, I lost my driver's license. The second one to replace the one that got stolen when my car got broke into in June. Again, there is no reason it should be lost! I stick it in my purse, my back pocket, my jacket pocket, or on top of a kitchen counter. Okay, so it may sound like it could be easily lost, but I've exhausted all search areas and have NO CLUE where it could be. NO CLUE. And thus, I must venture to drop another $10 to the "very nice people" at the DMV.

I also lost one of my silicone ear pads for my very favorite headphones that I wear while I run. I ordered these last year, and they come with two spare ear pads. Those two have been lost forever, so I was down to the only ones on my headphones. One fell off in my gym sack and I knew it was in there. I eyeballed it several times during the days I thought I would run (and didn't). But I knew it was in there, lying in the bag. And instead of putting it on the earpiece, I just looked at it with reassurance that it was there.

And then when I wanted to wear them? I couldn't find the ear pad anymore. It was no longer in the gym sack that I looked at nearly every day and saw it in there. NO WHERE. Today I ran with one on and one off. And you know what? The ear *with* the pad started aching; the one that was naked was hunky-dorey.

I thought I lost my best, new running shoes but I found them. They were just misplaced...

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Shhhhh!!!

You know, I am not going to hail this man as a hero but I am very sympathetic. There is NOTHING more annoying than people who talk while the movie is playing. If you do this PLEASE STOP...YOU ARE AN ASSHOLE...A DIPSHIT...and it is NOT YOUR FUCKING THEATER SO STOP TALKING!!!

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Blogging Goals for 2009

Yes, I do make plans for my blog. Nothing major. I don't plan to alter anything I've already done. I love writing and I love sharing my warped thoughts and odd experiences to anyone who wants to waste five to ten minutes of their day reading it.

I don't know if all bloggers do what I do, which is constantly think about "will this make a good blog post?" And that includes conversations I have at any given moment, or even checking out at a grocery store and listening to the grumpy cashier. My head is CONSTANTLY dictating the lines I will write, and what the title of the post will be.

It doesn't always come to fruition. Most of the time, I forget or decide it's not worthy to blog, or I just get lazy and don't post it.

But there are some things I post regularly: race reports, book reports, those mattress sightings :-), just to name a few. So for the new year, those will continue and I'm hoping to add to the pot of my regular posting subjects.

So a few of the things I am planning to do are more restaurant reviews. This gives me an opportunity to enjoy the fruits of Raleigh -- and perhaps outside of Raleigh, but more likely Durham and Chapel Hill...I'll be avoiding CHAIN HELL CARY for obvious reasons (if they're not obvious to you, then you must live in Cary).

These restaurants, OF COURSE, will be local. I will remain a starch supporter of local, although I will use my starbucks gift card at some point, but only because it won't cost me a dime. :-)

But my plan is to target "centers", or areas. For example, the shopping center near my house has Dos Taquitos, my favorite restaurant in Raleigh (and I just noticed that they enclosed their patio! Not sure if I like that, because in the warmer months, the whole point is to enjoy the exhaust fumes from the cars coming into the shopping center...but it's enclosed tightly with plastic windows, so perhaps, it's removeable), but it also has a Chinese restaurant, a pizza place and Simpson's steakhouse. So my goal is to hit each one of those and write about my experience there.

BTW, I have tried Simpson's already and found it to be a little bit cheesy, so that one is an iffy.

Another "center" type area could be Five Points, where my other favorite Raleigh restaurant, Hayes Barton Cafe, resides. But in the vicinity is Lilly's Pizza, Third Place Coffee, and Bloosmsbury Bistro, to name a few. Oh, and there's NoFo, which is a local chain (Wilmington & Charlotte), so I don't count that as a chain, chain.

Chain, to me, is Starbucks, Outback, Jack Astor's, Macaroni Grill, just pick any restaurant on any corner in Cary, and tada! It's a chain.

Local chains are okay with me.



Next on my list of bloggable oddities: mug shots. Yes, those mega-stars and their mug shots are pretty darn funny, but have you noticed the local ones? They are HEE-LARRY-US. They must be shared and laughed at together...



The last thing I thought of (but not the last thing I'll think of) are more movie reviews. And not just any movie reviews, but the Oscar-worthy movies.

I had actually planned to do this with the Golden Globes (GG): that is, watch the nominated movies and write my review as a regular joe. And the GG's were to be a little easier since they have a few more categories that allow regular joes to watch (I just looked at the nominations and perhaps, this year isn't the year for regular joe movies to be nominated). But since I discovered that the GGs will be _aired_ on January 11th, I realized there would be no way in hell that I could get through that many movies by that time.

But the Oscars usually select the even more boring, dumb-ass sappy ones for nominations. So I accept the challenge to force myself to watch the idiot, Tom Cruise, play a German army officer with a stupid-looking eye patch. That's what I'll stoop to (if this movie gets an Oscar nod) to write a blog post.

Friday, December 26, 2008

My Favorite Tweets of the Week - December 26th

I don't know how I'll do these, since some of these are time-dependent (Christmas season, for instance). I could just make it "My Favorite Tweets of the Week, Part 1" and have multiple entries for one week. I'm following more and more people *and* still reading more and more tweets from people I *don't* follow...

Anyway, here are my favorites of the past few days:

Apparently, I'm a double sneezer. I never sneeze just once.


Ground Control to Major Winebuzz..


trudging around the house in my pink buny suit


IT'S BOXING DAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh wait. That's not exciting in the least.


My tummy dislikes the everything bagel with Texas pete, coffee, tamale, and toffee caramel cake I have had this morning


Just looked in my own fridge; don't recognize half the products. Shut the door and walk away -just walk away.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Fitness Goals for 2009

I have been thinking about my fitness goals for 2009 for some time now. These are what I have come up with so far:

Get Faster - I want to run faster in 2009. No, I don't care about winning age groups yet. If it happens, great, but it's not a goal.

But I am afraid to go fast because it hurts. I have the endurance down now and am undaunted by mileage up to a half, maybe more...but not marathon-length yet. I need baby steps...

But going fast means working harder and working harder means pain, and not pain like "ouch, I broke a bone" but "whoa, I can stop the pain by slowing down"...and I need to learn that I really *can* go faster even though there's a bit of pain.

And the pain is not entirely what stops me from going faster...it's the fear. I tend to panic when I feel like I am going beyond what I *think* I am capable of. But with Coach B and her track workouts for me, I have found that I can endure it. And it's really not that painful. Uncomfortable, yes, but not painful in that "ouch I broke a bone" kind of way.

There have been a few times that I ran a track workout and felt that panic come up and I didn't stop or slow down. I'm hoping to grow accustomed to the panic, to the pain, and to pumping my legs to run faster.

Along with getting faster, I have some initial goals for race times in 2009. I'd like to do a sub 25 minute 5K. If that means 24:59, then I'll take it.

I would like to see a 1:50 half marathon time. This one might be pushing the envelope, but my coach was seeing me with a 1:55 half this past November (I did a 2:00). I think I can do it because the longer runs I feel somewhat okay with the length, I just have to keep my mind on pumping those legs faster. I did my one of my fastest mile splits at mile 11 at 8:45, so I had something left and I think if I focus more on my pace during my training runs (vs. edurance), I have a chance of meeting that goal.

The other race distances I'm not quite so focused on right now. I would like to do a new PR at Coach Bubba's 20K in February, which would be at least 1:59:29. I believe I can make that one with no problem (let's see if I eat those words on race day!).



Lose 15 pounds - Every year, my ideal weight gets further away from me. I am not overweight but like any woman going through her 40s fast (okay, I *just* turned 40), I want to be close to my pre-drinking-age weight, which is about 25 pounds away so I *have* negotiated.

I eat well and exercise regularly and frequently. So what's the problem? Beats me but I suppose it has something to do with portion control, slightly, and more about the fact that I am 40 and my metabolism is nowhere near what it was in my 20s.

But it is a goal and I'll continue to shoot for it. And I'll tell you a fact right now: if I weighed 15 pounds less today (my goal weight for 2009), I guarantee my weight loss goal would be 5 pounds. So the moral of the story is: I will not be satisfied with my weight no matter what.



Get a P90X body - this is an intense workout that I have seen actually work. My husband did this workout *to a tee* and it kicked his ass for weeks. This man impressed me with showing me how unimpressive he can be doing these workouts. And by the end, he was DOING the workouts like a pro. He has the body to prove it. The six pack abs are there, as well as the muscle tone.

This, of course, is aided by the fact that he does construction for a living, so while I believe I can get a P90X body, it won't be as easy for me to lose the weight as he did. He was constantly burning calories through work, where as I, with my sit-in-a-chair-all-day job, will not have that "luxury".



Running coach for CJ and Sarah - I started this late this Fall and the girls did so well at the Reindeer Romp earlier this month. I plan to up the ante and get these girls working harder but still enjoying the act of running. CJ mentioned that she enjoyed both Girls on the Run (GOTR) and what we were doing, but most of all, she wanted to run with Sarah. Sarah seems to have a busy schedule where GOTR may not work for her...and since I enjoy running with them, pushing them, encouraging them, and getting Brenna the dog out to run with us, I plan to continue training with them through the Spring. We'll pick another 5K race to run, maybe even sticking with the GOTR theme and running their 5K in May.


That's what I have so far. Nothing fancy. But certainly attainable. And to me that's the key: attainable goals that keep me motivated.

Houston, We Have A Problem

Last night, as Tim was going over his own race calendar, we discovered that one of his big races was going to take place on the same day as a race I wanted to do.

Tim's Blackbeard Adventure Race is on the same day as my Neuse River Bridge 10K. Imagine: out of all the races in all of this state, that we choose two separate events and they happen to fall on the exact same date.

I threatened to have my race without him: his is held out at the Outer Banks; mine in New Bern. My race is a 10K -- less than an hour of my time; his could take up to 12 hours.

But I slept on it and woke up a merrier person and conceded, even though he kept saying "there are more races for you than for me". Humbleness comes a long way if one remembers TO BE humble.

So I spent a little time looking for other races. It's really not easy as it would seem. One: I can't find one around the time I want; and two: I am partial to the smaller, more hometown feel ones (like Neuse Bridge is) and those take a more in depth place on the google search page count.

I did find a good one in October (on a different day): Run the River 8K in Wilmington. So I'll keep my eye on that one, but now, I'm down to only two "for sures" for 2009: Coach Bubba's 20K (February) and Run for the Oaks 5K (March).

I find that I always stumble across "new" races for consideration, once I start *really* looking. So some races I am adding to my list for consideration for my halfs this year (or is it halves?): The Great Dismal Swamp Stomp Half (April, Virginia), Varmint Half (June, Virginia), and Pinehurst Turkey Trot Half (November, Pinehurst, NC).

The Dismal Swamp Stomp was a race I eyed a few years back. It's in April but I am really hoping to have something in May, perhaps early June.

The Varmint Half is mid-June and, while the race sounds right up my alley as being small and original, it IS MID-JUNE in Virginia, which has the same weather patterns we do, which means extremely hot and humid. The race report from this past year indicated it was quite HUMID.

And the Turkey Trot Half is on the day we usually depart for our mountain Thanksgiving getaway. Pinehurst is NOT on the way. I am really leaning towards the Mistletoe Half in Winston-Salem in December. December is ideally the time period I'd love to do my half this year.

We'll see...everytime I look for a race, I seem to stumble upon a cooler one I've never heard of. And the end of the year gives me plenty of time to ponder and registration is not an issue, really, for my taste...as the races I am looking to do will NOT sell out...love them smaller venues.

But finding something in a half for May, that is near me, is not that easy.

And with my luck, I'll find the perfect race only to find that Tim's race will conflict!

Priceless

You know those Mastercard commercials? The ones that spit out the dollar amounts and then state "Priceless"? Well this one is my favorite of the season. I ignored if for awhile until CJ made me watch it.

Overjoy of Giving

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas Baby

I thought, as I sit here watching It's A Wonderful Life, while a cool breeze comes through an open door, and my beautiful tree twinkles with colored lights, that I would share a Christmas time memory...before it becomes forgotten.

About two years ago, Tim and I and our beautiful girls were riding around town. CJ, my oldest, who was eight years old at the time, was being pissy about something. The first thing that popped into my head to tell her, to straighten up her behavior, was a funny thing that happened on Bob and the Showgram (local radio station G105's morning dude).

It was a bit called Santa Scared Straight, and it was for Santa (AKA Bob) to call misbehaving children and tell them that Santa was watching them misbehave (with examples from mom and/or dad) and that they better straighten up their act or else...

Well, Santa's "or else's" were quite hilarious. And the one I used on CJ, I thought, was the most hilarious one I heard from Sant...er, Bob.

So to continue...CJ was throwing hissy fits about something. So I turned around and told her "Santa's watching you...if you don't start behaving, he's going to take one of Brenna's legs away."

Apparently, this is not as funny to an eight year old as it is to a 38 year old. Far from it as she shrieked and wailed in absolute horror. The very opposite of any reaction I would have ever thought, and let me tell you, there wasn't much thinking on my part before I said this to her...it just came out so I had no expectation of a reaction...but as soon as she screamed in horror, I thought: hmmm...that probably wasn't the best thing to say to her.

I'm not sure if she's fully recovered. It's one of those events that we "bury" under the OOPS rug, where I have swept many of my great parenting moments...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

My Great Running Moments of 2008

I have read a few posts about great running moments for the year...and although the year is not over, I thought I'd share the ones I have up to now. Of course, there is time for a few last minute running moments before 2009 (I am skeptical) but if that just so happens, I'll just add to my list.

So here are my greatest running moments for 2008...they are in no particular order:

Long run from my house to Umstead:

This was a long training run that I did on September 20th, two days after my 40th birthday. It was a 12 mile run and I decided that I would take the route from my front door to the 'other' side of Umstead, where it ends at Lake Crabtree.

Tim drove to the Lake Crabtree side and would bike to the entrance into Umstead (Trenton Road entrance), lock the bike, and then we would run together to the car.

This is no easy route. Crossing a very busy Glenwood avenue (seven lanes of traffic, on the end that I ran across) and a very hilly route through and through. But I seemed to be physically and mentally prepared and ended up maintaining a 10 mn/mile over those hills, getting to the 7.2 mile entrance in 1:13.

The rest was awesomely hard, but I thought it was one of the coolest things to do. BTW, I did the same route about a month later and it wasn't as nice...

3 1-mile repeats:
My track workouts rocked since I signed up with Coach B. One of the best workouts for me was doing three one-mile repeats on September 30th. The goal time for each was 8:30 and I did 8:22, 8:15 and 8:16.

Run the Quay 5K:
Although there was nothing amazing about my run during this race, this was significant for me as it was really the first race to kick-off a new "me" with regard to running. I had a coach, I was working to become better instead of safer, and this race I went to solo. No one was there for me to run with, or cheer me on -- except my coach :-) -- but it's exactly what I needed.

Neuse River Bridge 10K:
One of two big races I trained for, and signed on with a coach for -- held on October 18th in New Bern. I made a huge PR 53:05 -- knocking 5:13 off my last 10K PR. The race was small; the volunteers were AWESOME; Tim ran with me and I had it in the bag all the way through. Yeah, I was feeling the pain of it all at the end, but still, I persevered and I felt extremely proud of me and Tim. I "won" 3rd in my age group but not officially. :-(

City of Oaks Half Marathon:
This was the second big race I had been training for -- and THE RACE I wanted to do well on. Again, I made a PR at 2:00:24, knocking 8:08 from my last half PR set in 2005. This race is also one that I planned to do last year and didn't make it; plus, I signed up for another half the year before, which is around the same time, and didn't make it...so this time period felt like a cursed time to do a half. But I pulled through and I ran the race perfectly and better than I would have before.

No walking at all and again, persevering through physical and mental battles (more mental). I allowed myself to dig down somewhere and found a second wind to get me through the last three miles. I died the last mile, but I kept on even though I was virtually jogging a downhill finish. I was done and it was the best feeling ever -- to be out of it at the end meant I put in all that I could.

I have so many more things that were wonderful about this year. I will write a separate post about the other great moments of the year, dealing with my friends and family. But I feel like I've had an amazing year for racing and running and I look forward to 2009 and being even better.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Mattress Sighting

I have another reader-submitted mattress sighting. This one looks precarious, in the back of this truck. Be careful, you toting-mattress-toters you!

Off I85 from Atlanta:


I love these mattress sightings so I'll continue to post and take reader pictures (would LOVE getting those). It's my blog, so you think it's strange, WHATEVER. It's hilariously odd to me.

Next odd pictures/images? Those mug shots! Not just any mugshots, but those local ones that no one knows, nor would ever see outside of WRAL. Some of them are just flat out SCARY, in a very funny way...

Marathon Love

I watched this with the family tonight. It was on Discovery Health (HD!!!).

I heard about it through a Runner's World blog I keep up with and decided to record it and watch. I knew a little bit about what it would be about, so I was hesitant because, well, it was going to be sad.

But, even though it was sad, it was pretty damn cool and amazing.

The gist of it is: a man pushes his wife in a wheelchair as he runs races. They do A LOT of racing together and at some point, up the ante to doing marathons.

He trains with her, then runs the races pushing her. She wears the number. And he is constantly in debted to her for the work they do.

He wants them to run Boston but in order to run Boston, a runner has to qualify. For them, that meant running a qualifying race in under 3:30. And they did it: 3:15 in the Toronto Waterfront Marathon.

This past April, they ran the Boston Marathon. And they did it in 3:13:41, finishing in the top 25% of overall runners. Freaking INCREDIBLE.

And their story is incredible. Worth the less than an hour it took to watch. My whole family, including my five year old, was engrosssed.

The best line was said by Jamie Parks, the husband that pushes his wife Lynn: "Without her, I'm just a mailman who runs..."

Text Messaging

Mi-Mi and CJ are great text messengers, especially Mi-Mi.

She's all but five years old and she can take my phone, take pictures, and type out anything she wants to say *and* types in the phone number and selects "Send". She's a better texter than I am!

I found this text message to Tim on my phone. She sent it to him yesterday while he worked hard in the rain (you know, power tools and rain do NOT mix), on a Saturday, and we went to a friend's Christmas party. And yes, she took the picture too...

To dadddy like the christmas tree? Made friends love mia


And yes, she includes "To" in her text messages, as in "To Daddy" or "To Mommy", etc. In this case, one too many "d"s in daddy...

Book Review: The Devil's Bones by Jefferson Bass

This book is the last of my From the Stacks challenge.

I picked this up at the Quail Ridge book sale. It was one of 50 books I managed to stuff in a big bag (that they provided) for $5.

The book is in the same vein as Kathy Reichs and her "Bones" series. Well, I don't know if it's called that, but the TV show is. And I love the TV show. Perhaps I'll try one of her books one day, but I am not a big fan (currently) of series books like this.

And thus, The Devil's Bones didn't do much for me. I can tell when I'm not thrilled with a book as I take my sweet time to finish it. It's rare for me to NOT finish a book, even when it's bad. Although I do it for the sake of writing my own little book review, I also do it after sure stubborness. I don't want to feel "defeated" by a bad book.

And of course, it's a matter of my opinion, since it appears the Amazon ratings for this book is pretty close to five stars. And also, this book was a pre-published review...a "draft", if you will.

Bill Brockton is the subject of this book, and it's series. He is an anthropologist, just like Bones! So, problem number one for me: a copycat, IMO, to Dr. Brennan.

Dr. Brockton is investigating the death of a woman, who died within her burning car. While this investigation goes on, Dr. Brockton also stumbles upon a Georgia crematorium that is, gasp, not buring the bodies, but stacking them around the property. This was problem number two for me. I already know about the _real_ case of the Georgia crematorium not burning the bodies and again, I felt like this was a stolen headline.

Yes, I know that books are inspired by real life, but this was too obvious, too recent and too over-the-top.

On top of these two events for Dr. Brockton, he also had to deal with the fact that a man who tried to kill him the year before (and successfully killed Dr. Bill's lover) had escaped from prison and most likely, was seeking to finish what he started with Dr. Bill.

And none of these three events were particularly exciting. There was never really a concentrated effort to delve into one event thus all three felt like they were just touched upon. So when things were really discovered or something 'meaningful' happened, it wasn't particularly thrilling. Just another page to turn to read on.

There was never an instance of eeriness, mystery or anything chilling...especially when the convict on the loose could have really been a subject of thrills. But no.

Instead, there was a lot of incidental details that dealt with current technology. And since current technology is ever changing, this book's subject matter will become quickly outdated and, to me, useless.

The references were to Google, browsing, the war in Iraq (only once), etc. They were just too specific to what is happening now, and not in a historical way, but in such trivial matters, and just too overdone to make it such a point. This was problem number three for me.

A dud. And I'm thankful to be done, and to be done with the challenge, because I've got three books waiting for my eyes...fresh from the library!

Tweets of the Week

Well, perhaps not the week, as I didn't start saving cool tweets until yesterday.

I use Opera for my browser. Data point: Did you know that Opera is one of the only browsers that is 99.9% standards compliant? And do you recall when there were no choices, really, in browsers? I have been using Opera for a couple of months now and while I'm still getting used to it, I love it. At home, I have Opera and Safari. At work, I have IE, Opera, Firefox and Chrome. Why not try others out? There are many to choose from...it's no longer a one-trick pony.

Along with Opera, I downloaded an Opera Twitter widget. This widget is awesome in that I have a "Near" tab. This "Near" allows me to enter my zip code and peruse tweets in that vicinity. So at home, I see who is close to me and I can see a different set at work. Usually, I see a few co-workers' tweets at work.

So yesterday, as I read through other's tweets, I found some very amusing ones. I find them daily but yesterday, I decided to chronicle ones that I found pretty funny. These are the ones I ran across yesterday, all from separate people that I am not following, or being followed by:

stop yelling! I'm up ....zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

My husband is clean shaven for the first time in 10 yrs. Looks good, but I find myself occasionally wondering who is that guy in my house.

Just saw Santa Claus riding in a Volvo stationwagon. Even St Nick is feeling the economic pressure.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Twitter Dee, Twitter Dum

Twitter is an amazing little tool. A social network and mini-blogger, all rolled into one little, teeny, tiny app.

And I've "met" some really great people via this tool. I don't even remember how anymore but it's pretty cool how I can "hang out" with someone clear across the other side of the country, as well as in my backyard.

I "met" Kevin through his blog, 5KsandCabernets. I remember now how I found it. I did a search on wine drinker and runner. :-) I love the title of his blog...genuis.

But he is also on twitter so I started following him (this is a good 101 on twitter: what is twitter?). And from that click of the follow button, I was able to learn more about his incredible year of running and his torment of conquering White Rock Marathon this year, a race he has done twice before.

The coolest thing about technology? White Rock allowed interested people to receive text messages of his recorded splits. So while he was running, I didn't have to wait for his race report to know how he was doing against his plan. Awesome.

And through Kevin's tweets during race day, I ran across an exchange between him and "mbking". "mbking" had run 15 miles *to* the marathon and was planning to do the marathon then run 15 miles *back*.

I decided to follow him and went to his blog to see what he was all about. I found out he is an ultramarathoner, hence the incredible mileage he was doing ON TOP of a marathon.

I'm sure I'll meet many more people along the way, as I have already. It's great, especially when you read amazing posts and see incredible pictures. I want to share two of them that stuck with me.

The first is from Kevin's blog. You must read his posts on his marathon at White Lake. If you can make the time, reading the past two months would give you an idea of his training, his mindset and his trials & tribulations with his two previous marathon runs at White Lake. But this, with a picture, was incredible, especially knowing how his marathon run had gone: Advice from Marathon Experts.

Today I read mbking's write-up of his ultramarathon run at White Lake. Again, a candid recounting of his race. But the picture at the end of his post is awe-inspiring: Race #3: Self-inflicted White Rock Ultramarathon - Not Quite!.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

You Know You Are Out of Hibernation Mode When...

Well, I guess I have to speak for myself here so my answer would be:

You know you are out of hibernation mode when you cancel out of two lunches to go for a run.

I did that on Monday and again today. :-) And both times, my abetters were Bill and Frank.

Today was a six mile run, which was supposed to be a five mile run with three miles of tempo. We got the three miles of tempo and the last .8 miles of it felt like a marathon. When was it going to end?!

But it was awesome and the weather was just right, despite the clouds and misty day. I was still overdressed: comfortable for me but not for you weird runners that like to run in shorts in 30 degree weather.

But I also am on week two (i'm not counting last week, since technically, I was hibernating) of P90X and as I write this, Thursday evening at 6:30 PM, I am feeling the week's worth of pretty-hard-for-not-technically-training-for-anything exercises.

And let me tell you, it is indeed a WONDERFUL feeling. These are the days that I enjoy most...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Running Calendar for 2009

I am trying to put together a running calendar for 2009. I know of three races I definitely want to do:

Coach Bubba's 20K on February 21st.
I am already signed up for this race. I have run this race for the past two years and I do really enjoy it. It runs through an old neighborhood in Durham and ends on the American Tobacco Trail, which is flat but very boring. But I like it and my PR on this particular course is 1:59:30 so I hope to do something a little faster.


Run for the Oaks 5K on March 14th.
This is like a Raleigh tradition for me. It is, to me, the launch of Spring's running season. A favorite although I wonder if the course will be altered due to all the construction that's been going on downtown. I have this course memorized. I made my PR on the course, and my overall 5K, last year with a 25:30. I wouldn't mind getting even closer to 25 minutes this year.

Neuse River Bridge Run 10K on October 17th.
Tim and I ran this race together this year and I really enjoyed it, despite how cold and rainy it was. It's a small town race and New Bern is a beautiful small town. This year, I would like for us to spend more time visiting the city. We just didn't get enough of it this past October.

And that's pretty much the "for sures" that I would like to do in 2009.

The other races I would like to plan for is a long race - 10 miles to a half - in the Spring and in the Winter. I am following $Bill's idea to avoid training so hard during Raleigh's hot, humid, intolerable heat that we call Summer. So I would like to find up to a half to do anytime between April and early June and another 'up-to-a-half' around late November to December.

And I'm not a big race person. I prefer something lower than 1000 people, if that's possible! And maybe more, but certainly, the City of Oaks was cutting close to being a little too big for my taste.

But because I am currently not interested in a full marathon, I prefer a race dedicated to a half, or 10 miler, but specific to that mileage. Running a half in a full is like taking the easy way out and takes away from the accolades that I want. :-)

There are a few I am eyeing, but I seem to find more and more interesting ones along the way.

Right now, the ones that have peaked my interest are:

Downhill@Dawn, which is in Black Mountain in June. This is a half *and* it's running DOWN a mountain. The one issue I have is that it appears to be religiously based. I don't know what that means - starting at a, um, a christian "campus", but the race sounds so darn good (they shuttle you back from the finish!!!) that I can forego the religious connotation. I have to do a little more research...I don't want a Hotel California thing happening: you can check in anytime you want but you can never leave!

Mountain Gobbler Halfis a half in the mountains that occurs the weekend before Thanksgiving. This is ideal as we usually spend Thanksgiving in the mountains so either we stay close to Hayesville (where this race takes place) or we head back to our Hilltop Hideaway.

But this race would be not for time but for endurance and completion. Again, knowing very little about it, this race apparently is not for the faint of heart. It's not like I like hills or running in the mountains, so it would be an entirely different type of challenge for me, me thinks.

And the last one in serious contention is the Mistletoe Half in Winston-Salem in, guess what? December. My friend Frank did this last year and another friend of mine has done this several times. She said it was a great race that is faster that City of Oaks (which I did pretty well in this year) and it's very family-oriented. Frank said they don't even use chips! Which is not really a turn-on for me since I like precision...but the idea of it being a smaller, family-oriented race is a bigger turn on. And the timing is perfect.

So I'll do some more research and see which ones I end up selecting. I don't want to fill up my calendar with too much but I do want to have some great races to train for.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Just Another Manic Monday...

My Mondays have gotten so much more manic than any Monday I have had in my life. I get through them, but my blood pressure must be sky high as my day goes similar to this:

8:30 AM Arrive @ Work

8:35 - 10:30 AM Read/respond to e-mail, read the news, look @ my schedule, prepare for anything I need to do during the day

10:35 - rush to another building to help set up webex/conference call meeting @ 11; it's not a long walk, but 10:35 turns into 10:40 and it usually takes a good, solid 15-20 minutes to get through the kinks of setting this up

11:30 - eat something during the meeting; have to fuel up for my recovery run I plan to take after the meeting is over so lunch won't happen until 1:30 - 2PM

12:15 - meeting finally over; rush to my car, which is near the other building. Usually, I keep $Bill & Frank waiting...okay, not usually, ALWAYS

12:25 - get to the gym for my run

12:35 - head out for my run, which averages about 4 miles

1:20 - finish run; stretch and chat

1:30 - shower

1:55 - get out of the locker room to see $Bill & Frank waiting patiently (again) for me...hey, it takes me a little longer to get pretty...they're just naturally pretty!

2:00 - EAT!

Usually, I have a meeting @ 3PM that fortunately, has been canceled the last several weeks.

Today, however, I had a 2PM "emergency" meeting, so I had ~10 minutes to wolf down a lunch (got to my office @ 1:44). And on top of that, I had to leave around 3ish to pick up my girls from school @ 3:45.

Went to meeting; meeting ran over; and I am rushing out at 3:20 to make the 15 minute drive to my girls' school to be there for them when they get out. This is SO the norm for me. I can never just feel like I'm not rushing to get anywhere.

But I did it and made it to the girls with time to spare. Then headed to Kroger for a few staples, got gas, hit the dollar store for more staples, then the library.

And I still made it back to do my P90X 50 minutes kick-ass workout *and* make dinner: homemade french fries (never do we buy the bag kind) and homemade hamburgers.

And the run today at lunch was great! I have been in hibernation: it's usual for me, around this time of the year, for me to fall back into the "i'm not exercising" rut. It takes a lot of gusto for me to find motivation to do anything, including a run.

But usually, as the last two years, the end of December kicks into gear for me as I train for Coach Bubba's 20K, which occurs the end of February.

So I'm trying to just not think about anything and just follow the plan: run when I'm supposed to run, P90X when I'm supposed to P90X, and repeat.

I joined $Bill and Frank for about a four mile run today. I had not run since last Tuesday's kick-ass track workout (Frank and I rocked!). But surprisingly, I felt great and not tired. I think a little less than a week worked for me...anymore and I would lose it!

But it's an easy route until the end, when there are just uphills...which felt pretty good to me.

The weather was great: 60s in December! I wore shorts! I loved it! And I just enjoyed the run, which reminds me why I like to run: it feels great.

Course, I did all the talking...fired up from my manic monday. I don't think I stopped yakking from the time I got into the car with my running buddies, to the time I left them to go back to my office.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

BFFs On The Run

Saturday (12/13) was CJ's 5K race that she has been "training" for with her BFF, Sarah, since September.

Since CJ did not get into the Girls on the Run program this season, my own BFF recommended that I take her and a friend or two running at least once a week. So I took up his advice and have been taking the two of them, and sometimes Sarah's mom, to Lake Lynn every Wednesday (it's over now, so if you plan to stalk us, we won't be there).

Basically I took the on a walk/run program: 1 minute walk/2 minute run. I usually brought Brenna the dog who usually tries to drag me, running faster than I would like, to catch up to the two girls.

And it was nice to observe these two: giggling, talking about school, reading a book while running (yes, they did), or whatever. Best friends are the best, but at their age (10 years old), they are priceless. And it is a priviledge to observe them, especially while doing something I enjoy: running!

They never complained and followed the plan to a tee. We stretched before and after we ran. And every week, we completed one loop of the lake, which is approximately 2.25 miles. Pretty darn good for a couple of ten year olds.

I was going to run the race with the girls but I got a lucky break: Tim had to work so I had to babysit my youngest. Sure, technically I could have taken her along the run but then I wouldn't be able to be at the finish line to take pictures! And also, that would have meant I had to run!

Sidenote: i do love to run. but right now, at this moment in time, I am feeling the need to hibernate and stay indoors and be warm and, well, be lazy! I have applied this to keeping up with my blog too, so it's not just exercising...

Back to the race: CJ got up (slowly...and I didn't want to get up but I felt I had a responsibility to get my girl to her race...and BTW, the race time was 10AM, so we're not talking about getting up EARLY...told ya, HIBERNATION) and got ready. When I poked my head to see what she was wearing on the very chilly Saturday morning, I noticed she had on her Second Empire long sleeve shirt, her "Girls Rule boys drool" t-shirt over that and running SHORTS!

This is when I knew my girl was more of a runner than me. SHORTS! I would be dressed as though I were living in the wilderness of Antartica (is there a wilderness down there?) and dreading running through the cold but here was my girl, dressed like I see "real" runners dress - no matter what the weather - and was excited about her race.

CJ has run at least two 5Ks before through Girls on the Run but this one would be her first as a competitive runner -- she would wear the chip on her shoe for timing. She was extremely excited about this and fortunately, there's one place to pick up a chip because there were close to 1000 people at the race and finding Sarah was going to be a problem...but lo and behold, we end up being adjacent to each other, attempting to put the chip on their shoes (Sarah's mom & dad).

I ran across several friends there, most who asked if CJ was freezing! This was slightly annoying because it's not like she can put on pants now. I didn't appreciate any sense of making her feel bad or nervous about her choice...granted, they meant well, but seriously? What is the point of the statement?

And she was cold but I told her she'd get warm once she started running.

We all hit the bathrooms, which as usual, was a very long line to the girls' room and no line to the boys' room. But the bathrooms are on one end of the complex and the start was clear on the other end.

So Sarah's dad scooted the girls along to the start. By the time Sarah's mom, me and Mi-Mi got to the girls, they were stretching. I was soooo proud.

This would be Sarah's first race ever. And there were some things that never crossed my mind that crossed Sarah's more responsible parents, like: how will they know where to go during the run? what if Sarah runs out of steam? who will be there to help? where should they start: in the front, the middle or the back?

I had answers for them: they'll follow the crowd, there are lots of volunteers who will be guiding and watching out for the young ladies -- there will be many new runners, and in this race, let them start in the front. But these questions did not cross my mind: I was just going to let CJ go into the wild and do her race. Why did I never think that she might get lost? She might pass out? All I thought about was getting pictures of her finishing! Oh me oh my!

Anyway, Sarah's mom and dad seemed to not be as anxious at my not-so-responsible parenting skills, so when the girls got done stretching and went to the front of the pack -- BANG! The race was on!

After a few minutes, I told Sarah's crew that I was going to bring Mi-Mi to the van for a bit and meet them back near the finish.

As we waited in the car, I noticed racers coming by. I hadn't realized the route was going as close as it was to me, so I ran out to wait for my girls to run by. I saw them and they were passing people with big smiles on their faces. I was sooooo proud.

A bit later, I pulled Mi-Mi out and we waited close to the finish for my girls-in-training. I had so much fun cheering the runners on. I got vaclempt several times watching coaches/moms/dads/sisters/brothers pushing their running partner to finish strong. It's an amazing thing to see and I could feel tears well up in my eyes.

And then I see my girls running to the finish. I try hard to get pictures, which I did, but not without problems. But they crossed and their official times were 39:20 each. We almost didn't get their official times since they walked out of the "gates" with the chip still on their shoes, but being the expert runner that I am ;-), I guided them back to get the chips back to their proper buckets.

I hope to get CJ to do another 5K soon. I'd like to run it with her, or try to keep up :-). She told me, not too long ago, that in middle school, she was interested in doing track.:-) :-) :-)

She also said she wanted to do volleyball in middle school -- oh boy oh boy oh boy! My other favorite sport!!! Watch out! Because I'll be venturing into another coaching arena...

Friday, December 12, 2008

"Secret" Millionaires

I watched the first episode of this series and it was very, very difficult for me to stop rolling my eyes.

It is a great thing: a millionaire gives away up to 100 thousand dollars to people in need. So I'm glad to see something like this happen.

But it puts the "millionaire" in the spotlight of "wow, what a great guy/gal for giving me money!"

My oldest enjoys the show, so I record it and watch it with her. But I can't stop rolling my eyes. And I'm not taking away from "hey you fucking rich people -- do something good with that extra change!"

But hearing about how they live, what they do, MEH! Sure, call it jealousy and envy. Call it what you want but it is something I will never know: owning million dollar homes; traveling first class anywhere; traveling more than once a year PERIOD...and of course, the very fact that they can give away 100 grand without a blink of an eye.

But on top of that, the show is really so fricking obvious in trying too hard to be sentimental and dramatic that it's just plain silly.

The premise is: the millionaire goes "undercover", as in, pretending to be poor and hanging out with poor people everywhere. Pretending to be poor basically means wearing regular clothes vs. a suit.

Then they go wherever, for example, a soup kitchen, and pretend to be 'just like them' but ask a barrage of questions: why are you here, why do you do this, blah blah. You know, those 20/20 Barbara WaWa questions...so fricking obvious.

This goes on for a week. We see the rich people cry at the fact that poor people have it so bad compared to them. Wah-wah-wah. And this is supposed to pull at our heart strings. And the pull is supposed to be soooo bad that they have to figure out who, out of allllllll the poor people they meet, who they can give money to. After all, they have only 100,000 to give away...they still have their bills to pay: house in Paris, the Lambroghini, Porsche, etc.

At the end, the brave millionaires are supposed to "confront" the poor people with their, gasp, LIES! You know, the LIES they told to make the poor people believe that they too were poor by dressing, gasp, in regular clothes!! Probably bought from Macy's instead of their very expensive Rodeo Drive boutiques! And yes, I said Macy's, which is top notch for me but probably bargains for "them".

So there's this big dramatic opening, before the check for $50,000 is presented to a person or group...the "i'm afraid I have been lying to you" spiel. And the rich man/woman um's and ah's his way through, struggling to come out with this abhorrent lie...the lie that they finally say "I'm sorry I haven't been upfront with you...but...I....am...a...........millionaire." sigh.

And now we're supposed to assume that the poor people are going to beat the shit out of the millionaire...okay, maybe that's just my wishful thinking...but instead, a check in at least five digits before the decimal is given and then more tears. And now it's about five minutes of being grateful to Mr. Rich-Man for giving them chunk change.

Am I bitter?

Yes.

Why?

Because I want what they have! Perhaps it's not the million dollar house -- I don't get that. The house I am in now is not even close to a million dollars but it's more house than I need.

But it would be nice not to HAVE to work. Not to worry about health insurance. Not to budget my vacations and actually being able to have _several_ vacations.

But it would be nice to give more money. I give a lot to DonorsChoose but it's relative to what I can afford. Instead of 10,000 dollars, I can give up to $100 for each group several times a year. Sometimes I try to get my compadres to pitch in, to give them a taste of giving.

I give monthly to St. Judes but a pittance to what I would prefer to give. It's almost embarrassing what I give, but every little bit counts.

I give to the homeless guy at the corner. Sometimes I can only give change because I rarely carry cash. But I give and I don't care if they turn around and buy something else illegal. Giving makes me feel good and I feel like I have done something to help the other people out.

The show sucks. CJ likes it and since something good comes out in the end, I keep it on my DVR. It's my gift to her: space on my DVR. Since I am the TV freak, every bit of space on my DVR counts.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Book Review: The Last Days of Dogtown by Anita Diamant

I picked this book up the same time I purchased The Red Tent (also by Diamant). The bookstore guy mentioned that he had heard good things about it. It had an interesting cover and it was "short" (263 pages) so I felt an attraction to read it.

Diamant has an amazing art to creating a story behind a line or two. She did this with The Red Tent - taking a line out of the bible about Dinah and creating an entire story behind Dinah and her life. She did the same with The Last Days of Dogtown.

Dogtown is a real settlement from the 1800s. And there are ruins, to this day, in Massachussetts, that signifies where this settlement occurred.

So Diamant's story is about what happened to Dogtown and its inhabitants, in the last years before the people of the settlement are gone.

Dogtown is a place of ruins. The hovels that the inhabitants live in are barely liveable. Rooftops barely cover the small enclosures, with floors of dirt and leaves. It gets cold and the people of Dogtown have little to keep warm, except a few who are lucky enough to befriend a stray dog who will seek shelter in their hovels, thus, snuggling at their feet, keeping each other warm.

Judith Rhines is the first person that we meet. Although not really the protaganist of this novel, she is the essence of it as it ends with Judith's departure from Dogtown's familiar folk.

Diamant details each inhabitant of Dogtown and their life within this 'town' and how they eventually left. Most of them were able to move into nearby Gloucester while a rare few past away within Dogtown.

It is a depressing story depicting a very hard life to live in the 1800s. No electricity, food was not a readily available (hunting & gathering), and jobs were not plentiful -- especially for women.

And among the poorest places, Dogtown was a pariah to other settlements. The reputation of the town was that it was full of whores and witches. The residents of Dogtown tried to escape the reputation of being from there, from where even the very religious preachers would not pray for the dead at funerals.

It is a fascinating read. I truly enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed The Red Tent. Diamant is an amazing writer and I'm duly impressed with these two novels, in how she was able to create an amazing story from a line or two of history and/or the bible.

Her writing style, IMO, is classic and I believe these two books will be classified as such as time goes on.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Blasts From The Past

The blasts being postings I have made before blogging hit my radar.

Mainly, I wrote to triangle.dining, a local newsgroup to the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area. Over the last couple of years, it has declined greatly in participation. It is sad but I keep my eyes on it and will post a comment if anything interesting comes around. But there were a select few regulars that I could read to 1) get peeved at or 2) enjoy their restaurant review.

This is a review I posted on January 12, 2004. Both places, I am happy to say, exist today!

Review: Mo's Diner and The Pour House

Mo's Diner
306 E. Hargett Street (City Market)
Raleigh

The Pour House
224 S. Blount Street (City Market)
Raleigh

I decided to take the husband out on a date, instead of going to another company function this past Saturday. I noticed Mo's Diner in a recent post on t.d. and decided that would be the placeto go. Made reservations and posted a request for something to do afterwards, mainly dealing with pool. I got two great responses, but decided to follow Heidi's advice on The Pour
House, mainly because at least two other people I talked to also recommended this place. *Plus* I didn't realize that Mo's Diner was within City Market and as Heidi mentioned, The Pour House (among others) is within this 'district'.

First, dinner at Mo's was *W*O*N*D*E*R*F*U*L*!!! My husband was so impressed. He decided it was one of the finest meals he's had in a very looooonnnnggg time. It was a night to be different, so I ordered a bottle of Zinfandel (instead of our usual Merlot or Shiraz). We started off with
Baked Oysters, which were four very plump and baked to perfection oysters. Mmmmm...I wanted MORE! The bread was also very good and very soft. The herbed butter that accompanied the bread was perfect.

There were three specials that evening: Rack of Lamb, Duck-something (confit, maybe?) and Chilean Sea Bass. As I said, a night to try different things, so I chose the Chilean Sea Bass (sidenote: I'm not really a fish person and only recently found an appreciation for it...mainly after a trip
to West Coast FL and everything is grouper-this, mahi-that). The waiter was enthusiastic about all three Specials, so he seemed pleased that I selected one of them. My hubby decided on the Fried Catfish dinner, which I recall reading on Citysearch's review as being a local favorite.

Both dishes were out of this world. The sea bass was delicate and a good sized portion of it. I believe it was on top of a small layer of roasted garlic mashed potatoes. I didn't notice it until I was almost finished with the fish. On top of the fish was fresh crabmeat and a bit of butter sauce. Also included was a mixed veggie medley that was done to perfection. My husband's catfish looked great and he just loved it. I tried it and it was good, but to me, my dish was just awesome.

Despite being pretty full, we couldn't walk away without trying dessert. We ended with a crustless chocolate torte that was to-die for and went well with the last few sips of our Zinfandel.

Service was unobtrusive. The waiter kept our wine glasses full and the wine bottle was never on our table. We spent nearly two hours there, just enjoying the food and being able to converse without spelling words out (two kids at home). The host was magnificent...so gracious and warm. Our jackets were taken when we got there and we were promptly seated, by our first names (Cindy and Mr. Cindy, since that's the name I made my reservation in). And when we left, they were laid out for us nicely. Just really nice personal gestures that went above and beyond my expectation,
along with great food.

I would say the only drawback was that the tables are a bit closer together than I thought they would be. It is still an intimate setting, but I bet if I wasn't so into my husband and his conversation, I could eavesdrop on others. Not a drawback for me, but just thought I'd mention it for others as an FYI. Total before tip was $98 (bottle of Zinfandel, appetizer, two
entrees and one dessert).

Afterwards, we decided on The Pour House. I had e-mailed them earlier in the week to try to get an idea of how crowded they may be on a Saturday night. The reply was that may be this isn't an ideal place to go, if I just want to play pool, because they would have a band. Well, I knew the
party usually doesn't get started for some people until 11PM and I knew this yuppie couple would be ready to get home by then...

We got there about 9PM and a band was playing. I asked the bartender what she recommended for draft and it was Boddington and Blue Moon. I enjoyed my wine buzz for a bit before I tried the Boddington, which was GREAT! We played several games of pool and enjoyed the not-too-crowded 2nd floor. I noticed, when I went down for a 2nd Boddington, that there was a crowd forming on the first floor. I had one more beer, the Blue Moon, which was good, but to me, it has a perfumy taste...which is not a bad thing...but the only way I could describe it. The bartenders/staff were awesome and called us a cab at the end of the evening for us. (We had a great cab ride
home too. :-))

I found out Sunday morning that I had two too many Boddingtons, or one too many Boddingtons & one too many Blue Moons, but still...a great date night for this gal. I'd definitely hit this place again too.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Like Mother, Like Daughter

Today is the day I find out that my little girl, CJ, will need to wear glasses.

CJ has been troubling us with her squinty eyes to read from not too far away, and finally, I made an appointment with a doctor that my own LASIK surgeon recommended.

Her appointment was at the Duke Eye Center in Durham. Although we live in the Raleigh-Durham "triangle", it is still 26 miles from my house. And I don't do well with timing things correctly, so I picked CJ up from school at about the time I should have been leaving her school with her in the car.

Instead, I wait for CJ to go get her backpack WAY UPSTAIRS in her classroom, that happens to be one of the last ones on the hall.

Finally, I have her in the car and the stoplight gods got together to ensure I snagged every single one.

Once there, which I was thankful that my GPS got me to the vicinity (since the address is not on the website) and my keen sense of memory managed to recall where the place was, I found ZERO, ZILCH parking spaces.

I wasn't too worried as they offer valet parking due to construction of a parking garage. But in order to get the valet, one must circle the parking lot once to appear to have sought out an empty space. Not an easy task when there are seven cars trying to find parking and valet...

But we make it in only 15 minutes late.

Duke Eye Center is not like any yuppie Optometric Eye Center. I've been to one side during my lasik work and you see the real people who need eye professionals. The same goes for the pediatric side: a blind boy sat next to us reading a book in braille; several cross-eyed children were waiting their turn; and then there was the young wheelchair bound girl, with virtually no hair except in four random spots, who obviously had some sort of illness, who awaited their turn as CJ and I did.

And though the appointment took us nearly three hours (as the rest of the brood), every single person that worked there was sooooooooo nice...even the receptionist!

CJ's first work-up was with machines...I think measuring something. Then we went into another room where the 21st century eye chart appeared on a monitor with a press of a button on a remote. I knew there was a problem when she couldn't read the line at 60/20. It didn't get much better but in the end, her vision was not as bad as I thought...but I didn't go into the appointment thinking it was as bad as it was.

So she has her prescription for glasses that she can wear whenever she wants. That's good news for me.

I had to get glasses at a fairly young age and nearly 30 years ago, glasses were not stylish so I was not too excited about the prospect of wearing glasses. And to tell the truth, I rarely did because they were butt-ugly.

But fortunately, CJ has a very understanding mom so I will be sure she gets the coolest glasses that will work for her beautiful face. She doesn't seem to be tormented by the idea of wearing glasses...in fact, I think she's pretty excited about it.
l

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Book Review: each little bird that sings by Deborah Wiles

CJ and I picked this book up at the best bookstore ever, Quail Ridge Books & Music last year. Deborah Wiles came to promote her latest book, The Aurora County All-Stars and CJ picked this book for Deborah to sign.

It was CJ's first book author meeting. Her 4th grade teacher was very encouraging about having her students come out to the book signing. She loves these books, so we went and I thoroughly enjoyed Deborah's personality. It was then that I picked up a writer's journal -- something Deborah Wiles mentioned she has on her always.

I followed her blog for awhile and then she stopped posting to it at the end of 2007...mainly, a blog chronicling her book tour.

Recently, CJ has picked up on her book reading and what I mean by that is that she's reading more novels vs. little chapter books. I don't care what she reads as long as she reads for enjoyment, but to see her transform into a bigger, better book make me proud.

In fact, she recently finished Twilight in just three days. Twilight being the most BOOK, book, she's ever read. And she loved it. I have to remind her that I begged for her to read the book..an excuse for me to buy it so that eventually I could read it. I have no idea why I felt the need to push her for my benefit, but in the end, it worked out since we are all reading it. Except for Mi-Mi, who is screaming "I'm next! I'm next" after each one of us finishes the book. She could probably take it on with little help from us as she tends to read over my shoulders and does pretty darn good for a five year old.

But before Twilight, CJ finally read the book she bought at Deborah Wiles' book signing last year: each little bird that sings. She told me one day she had finished the book and I asked how it was and she said: sad. I asked if it made her cry and she nodded yes.

This is amazing to me because out of all of us Huffman's, Mi-Mi is the only one that shows her emotions. We are all pretty stoic in nature. I tend to show more emotion by crying at books, movies, commercials, etc. Mi-Mi does too, but I have no idea if it's because she's emulating me or because she really feels the tears (I'm going with the latter).

But CJ, out of all of us, is the least emotional person -- except when she gets mad. But movies do not make her cry. And when she said that this book had made her cry, I was stupefied. I had to read it.

I read it on the way back from our phenomenal trip to the mountains. It is sad in nature but light-hearted too. And at one point in the novel, the tears flooded and I pretty much cried all the way home. I stopped thirty pages short of finishing because it was just too intense...but I have to say, if you plan to read the book, give yourself a good three hours to read it non-stop because it really does build up and provide that overall "feeling" of the nature of the story.

It is a wonderful story. Sweet, sweet, sweet as can be. The characters are so heartwarmingly adorable. The story is richly fresh and pure. I don't know quite how to describe how enjoyable this book is to read -- to live in it's 259 page world was a great pleasure.

The protagonist of this beautiful novel is 10 year old Comfort Snowberger. Comfort lives with her family, who run the town of Snapfinger, Mississippi's funeral home. And death, while constant in this family business, is not a way to be sad always but to live life...and liver to serve.

We meet Comfort's family & friends: Declaration - her BFF, Dismay - Funeral Dog extraordinaire, Peach - her annoying cousin, Great-Uncle Edisto - a favorite uncle, Tidings - her big brother, and Great-Great-Aunt Florentine...among many many other wonderful people.

I don't want to tell too much of the story as I believe, the element of its spell would be broken if I breathed one word of it.

I had no idea what this book was truly before reading it and thus I became enraptured with Comfort and her story. I laughed. I got mad. I got very mad. I laughed. I hurt. And then I cried. And cried...and cried.

This year is a year for me to read multiple books by one author: Stephanie Meyers, Anita Diamant and now, Deborah Wiles...for there is no way I can not NOT read more of her books.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Book Review: The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

This is the book club pick for our December meeting. Again, not my typical book of choice: thank goodness for book club!!

It was a little difficult to stay on this book. I actually read about a chapter or two before I put it down to read Twilight. Fortunately, I read Twilight quickly that I didn't lose my sense of the book...but it was still difficult to pick back up as I wanted to read New Moon instead.

But I pushed through and started to find it pleasantly appealing during the last of the first part of the story and definitely peaked my interest during Dinah's story.

I still had to flip to the family tree to figure out who was who. There are too many sons and wives/sisters to keep up with who is who. At some points, I just say screw it and read on.

The narrator of this novel is Dinah, daughter of Leah and Jacob. For me, this means really nothing as I am ignorant of biblical stories. But apparently Jacob is a popular biblical figure and Dinah is not...or a random mention of her. Instead, Anita Diamant brings Dinah's story to life and we learn nearly every detail of her life.

Her story was extremely powerful. For the first 2/3rds of Dinah's story, there was a strong bond of womenship among her 'mothers': Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah -- all sisters and all wives of Jacob. Dinah was the only daughter of the whole family, and Leah's true daughter.

But the majority of the first of the book is the bond between these women, in the Red Tent, which is where women go during, well, that time of the month that only women can have.

We follow Dinah's mothers' introduction to Jacob and marriage. We then follow the births of all the sons and then Dinah, and then follow Dinah's youth and her bond with her mothers.

And then a violent twist that turns the story a good 180 degrees and nothing but horror and tragedy follow. It was an odd twist for me, from story so dominated by these women and Dinah's attachment to them, to basically Dinah walking away and never seeing this family again (something, sadly, I can relate to in my own life...but that's another story...and strangely, passed a dark cloud over my Thanksgiving fun that I found coincidental since I could find symbolism in Dinah's story to my own life).

The last thirds of Dinah's life passe much quickly in Diamant's story-telling than the first 2/3rds but is just as fascinating. I had thought this novel would be difficult for me to read and yet, I had no problems and was able to finish in just days.

I enjoyed it despite the bad timing: my hook on the Twilight series. A book I cannot stop thinking about and wanting desperately to read New Moon. But I didn't have to force myself to power over the words -- Diamant is an excellent writer and I noted that the best writers have me speaking thoughts in their language: Jane Eyre and Pillars of the Earth are a couple of examples of books that had me lilting to the language and intonations of the novel. This did the same and I look forward to reading her next novel on my From the Stacks challenge.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Hilltop Hideaway 2008 - Day Three and Four

Yesterday was spent entirely indoors. Well, the occasional outing for wood, by me, which is just outside the sliding glass door.

It was a pretty day. Snow of 1-4" was expected but we had intermittent dustings of it. It was pretty to see but none of it stuck around.

The wind gusts were pretty high though. The roof felt like it was going to blow righ off throughout the day. But I felt safe and secure and quite happy doing nothing but reading, surfing, doing crossword puzzles, and playing Wii with the girls. This is my kind of vacation! A great view, a small cabin, a roaring fire, and huddling down with my babies.

Today, Wednesday, we headed out to Boone to do some shopping on their main downtown drag We did this last year where I picked up some great outfits that I think I still have not worn yet.

The leather and rabbit fur jacket I picked up has been my main jacket of choice. It's fur around the collar, which probably doesn't excuse my unjust use, but it is my warmest jacket ever. There is a reason why Indians and Pilgrims used fur...not because it's beautiful but it keeps you warm...

This year our purchases -- MY purchases -- were made at one thrift shop and I bought the outfit 'off-the-rack'. A great tan dress with a tres cool green jacket, made by one of the shop worker's friend. It's not a winter dress, but with the jacket, it will work. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the way people dress out here. Mountain-like? I don't know, but it's very hippie-ish, which I feel is my calling.

CJ and Mi-Mi went crazy at downtown's Mast General Store (there's at least three locations in our area). They have an amazing candy section where you grab candy out of barrels and put them in a basket to be weighed. I had fun watching Mi-Mi just count out two pieces from nearly every bucket. I had to get some homemade buttermints and those rainbow covered chocolate mints that look like big peanut m&ms. Haven't had them yet but looking forward to it...

We had a great lunch at Our Daily Bread, a very busy deli off the downtown main drag. The servers there were beautiful: men and women. Ours was a perky blonde in nice tight jeans and tank top! I told Tim I wanted to wrap her up and take her home ;-).

The snow is pretty much gone with just a few shaded areas with a bit left. The weather is still very breezy but bright and sunny. It is the best. I love this place. If ever comes a time that I can afford to buy a second home, I would do my darnest to buy this hilltop hideaway.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Movie Review: Twilight

I *just* finished Twilight the book. I had to watch the movie after the book...had to, had to, had to. And since I have been talking about the book to my girls, they were excited to see it too. Even Tim was intrigued!

So we took a trip down to Boone and enjoyed a very light crowd at their theater.

I'll start with the negatives: the characters were a bit over-brooding than I related to in the book. There was a lot of embellishments to the movie that were not in the book. I didn't dislike it but I couldn't help critiquing it. I didn't expect it to be exactly like the book, but it sort of took a departure.

And overall -- not a negative or a positive -- it felt like it was on speed. There was a lot to the story in the book...the build up...the way we learned things about everyone...that was just sped through in the movie. But, hey, how do you cram 400+ pages into a movie?

I cringed thinking that this movie may have been too teeny-bopper for Tim. Surprisingly, we came out of the theater with him liking it a lot and thinking it was pretty cool. I had to make sure he wasn't just pulling my leg.

We then decided that we all wanted to be a vampire family. So Tim surmised that we do some googling, to figure out where we could find where vampires "hang out" and invite them to drink our blood, so that we could hang out anywhere and do anything and never age. Now doesn't sound divine?

Overall, the movie is really entertaining. The characters are not totally how I imagined them from the book, but I think they did a decent job with casting and they all did a decent job of putting this fabulous book to the big screen. But please, if you must, read the book instead/before/versus the movie.

Hilltop Hideaway 2008 - Day One and Two

Yesterday we spent the day in a nice toasty cabin. Once this puppy warms up, it is WARM.

But along with the fires burnin' in the cabin, we had some heat outdoors which melted most of the snow away. This is the meadow from yesterday's picture of the snow-covered meadow:


Oh yeah, so we went down the mountain once to hit Mast General Store, since CJ was getting a little stir crazy. It was okay for her to be a little stir crazy -- she took full advantage of the beautiful day and played outdoors for the most part.

She and Tim took Brenna down the mountain for a nice walk. They thought they saw Scooter the dog, as well as turkey tracks and wild turkeys. No, they didn't shoot one for our Thanksgiving dinner, even though it appears to be hunting ground...we passed a gentleman with a rifle when we first arrived at our cabin. He gave us a friendly, but stern, mountain-man wave.

I mentioned Mast General Store last year. The first picture in this post is straight from the store. This picture is from one of the narrow aisles of the store, which in this case, is the toy aisle:


Today we went down for a movie. After I finished Twilight and fell in love with Edward Cullen, I had to see the movie. Fortunately, my enthusiasm for the book and movie carried over to the familia, as they were very excited to see it too.

After the flick, we hit Lowes Foods for our Turkey Dinner supplies. Man, these people up here are soooooo nice. Is that the mountain people attitude? The lady at the register went into the spiel of what the Lowes Rewards card could do for us (we knew, but I gave her my ear anyway). She spoke to the girls; the bagger also spoke to us and both offered us help to take the bags out. And not in the 'we have to be nice to our customers' voice...all genuine, or very good acting.

This was the case when we previously stopped at a gas station for directions to the movie theater...well, at least according to Tim. A gas patron *and* the lady worker were both helping Tim with directions and boy, they gave very specific ones: right at the fifth light; right at the second light; left at the first light...and TA-DA!

It was about 3:30 when we headed back and decided to stop at The Ham Shoppe -- another hit from last year. I opted for another Valle Bleu, which is what I got last year. And yes, it was even better than I remembered.

And again: super nice folk. Perhaps they just enjoy touristy business and know how to treat customers. It's a rare find in Raleigh, I tell you that much...but maybe that's why that city is not on any "must vacation" list. BTW, the same old dude from last year grabbed our order this year. Nice to see him still alive. ;-)

We are now hunkered down for the evening. Uncle Phil is making us his fabulous Tex-Mex dip and we'll probably play Rock Band later this evening. It's windy and rainy outside -- perfect for hunkering down.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I Love My Keyboard

Who knew one could be so loyal to a keyboard. Okay, maybe no one knew and no one would except ME.

I have had the same keyboard at work since I started there in October, 1996. My PCs have changed over the years (not many times, mind you) but I have been determined to keep this one.

I never really knew it was special until about three years at work, an acqaintence attempted to show me something and used my keyboard. He could not find the letters to type as he is a see-and-peck typist, not the "if-there-was-an-Olympic-competition-for-fastest-keyboard-typist-I-could-win" typist such as I.

That's when I noticed some of the lettering on the keys had worn off. My fast, hard-working fingers had worked the keyboard so much that I wore the lettering off. This is a marvel of pride for me and I am always, always tickled pink when someone comments on "where is the "e"???"

Mi-Mi had joined me at work, with CJ, a few weeks ago. I had meetings so I told her to "have at it" on my computer. When we got home, she told me that we needed to buy me a new keyboard at work because it was broke...she couldn't see the letters.

Overview of the best keyboard ever, complete with orange "#$%&" key and a picture CJ made for me many years ago:


The best keyboard I've ever had, up close: