The Ins and Outs of an Ordinary Life

Friday, December 29, 2006

I Have a Plan

After thinking about the year past and where I am now, I have put together a "Health and Fitness" plan for 2007. I won't bore you with the details, but it does involve specific objectives that can be measured. I also tried to write my Top Ten Reasons for Making Health and Fitness a Priority. Here they are, in no particular order:
  1. More energy
  2. Opportunity to listen to more music while working out
  3. Riding C on club rides
  4. Awesome arms and shoulders and tank tops
  5. Appreciating the seasons by spending more time outdoors
  6. Spending money on workout clothes and gear instead of medical bills
  7. Better sex
  8. Not looking my age
  9. I know it's good for me
  10. Endorphins-- being in the zone

Thursday, December 28, 2006

A Small Miracle

I got a haircut today and for the first time in I don't know how long (but a very long time), the hairstylist actually gave me the haircut I asked for! It came out the way I envisioned it and I like it. Ladies, is this not a miracle?!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Five Pounds

I bought a new bike. Specialized Dolce Comp. Dolce means sweet. I think I will have to name her Sugar Magnolia. She won’t get here for a few weeks, at which point I’m sure we will have a monstrous blizzard. But she is on herway! And she’s so pretty!

I weighed myself, finally got brave enough to get on the scale. 113. I have gained 5 pounds over the last 5 months. I know what some of you are thinking—113 pounds! She can’t be complaining about her weight! And I’m not complaining about my weight or the need to lose weight. Now, I am a tiny person, so it is enough to make my clothes feel tight. But more important, the number is a warning. It has to stop NOW. It means I am not doing what I need to do. I know that if I do what I should be doing, the 5 pounds will come off. And I will feel better, from the inside out. When I’m where I should be, the music sounds better, the days are sunnier, and my feet don’t get cold at night! Oh, and let’s not forget, the sex is better. I also know there will always be bumps in the road, you can’t stay with the program 100% of the time. But the key is consistency, getting it right most of the time. Over the past 7 weeks (the winter preseason) I have made a good start on the road to good habits. I’m still working on a plan for 2007, with realistic goals. The realistic part is the hard part. I know that I want to be healthy and fit, but how do I measure that? How do I balance the concept of fitness with goals such as riding a century? And always, fitting it into the bigger plan, an ordinary life with family, work, and the world out there.

Now, a totally different topic. I watched a few football games this weekend and I observed that the running backs and wide receivers, in general, have the best butts. There aren't too many people who look good in spandex, but those wide receivers got it right!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Rock n Roll Memories

Things seem to be falling into place. Over the weekend, I spent some time at the gym, I spent some time in the kitchen, I watched some football, and I did mountains of laundry. A fairly typical weekend. Yesterday DH, and sons #1 and #2 went to the Giants game. We had 4 tickets for the game, and I could have gone, but it’s really an all day affair. They left the house at 1:00 for a 4:00 game, and they didn’t return until almost 9:00. I got so much done around the house and I was content to watch the game from the comfort of my living room (especially since the Giants lost!).

On Saturday I met a couple of friends in Beacon and we went to see an exhibit at the Howland Arts Center that connected with the rock n roll girl inside me-- The Fillmore, the Avalon and the Grateful Dead. The exhibit was centered on the posters of various shows at the Fillmore that featured many artists including the Grateful Dead. There were many classic posters from San Francisco in the 60’s but also posters and memorabilia from more recent years. There were some really fabulous photos of various artists, including several of Janis Joplin. They really captured her spirit as a blues singer and her “bad girl” image. It was a great way to spend an hour or so, and made me long for some classic rock. That is a craving easily indulged, and it has zero calories. I hit the treadmill listening to the Grateful Dead, the Allman Brothers, the Who, the Doors, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, Crosby Stills and Nash, the Beatles, Derek and the Dominoes, the Band, and Santana. The miles went down easy, and faded into the past with all my rock n roll memories (well, whatever memories have remained after the fog lifted!).

Friday, December 15, 2006

Overcoming Slothdom

December is a tough month for me. The big annual meeting found me embracing slothdom-- sitting on my butt listening to lectures for hour after hour. Eating whatever magically appeared before me. It's a good thing I am not a drinker. A glass of wine and a martini were the only alcoholic beverages I consumed, despite a multitude of opportunites to get drunk as a skunk on somebody else's dime (or dollar or larger denomination of US currency) . I brought the proper gym apparel but never got to the hotel fitness center. When I returned to NYC, I drove from the airport to a holiday party! There are chocolates and cookies everywhere. The TV pumps out messages to eat! buy! consume! Love somebody by spending huge amounts of money. The pervasiveness of that attitude during the month eats at my core.

It has taken several additional days to get to the gym. There was working late on Monday, car swapping on Tuesday which resulted in my gym bag being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and the need to buy food on Wednesday. So off I went on Thursday morning (my day off) to get beaten up by my trainer. Today the soreness that made putting my gym bag in the car an arduous task serves as a reminder of the price of slothdom.

After the gym and a trip to the library, I gritted my teeth, headed to the mall, and exercised my American Express card. In 2 hours, I managed to purchase gifts for everyone on my list (I must admit, I had a short list) and a new pair of running shoes for myself. There were a few more errands but when I arrived home, I decided it was time to reaquaint myself with the contents of my refrigerator and pantry and the use of some other major appliances. I became a goddess of all things domestic, and engaged in a mother's triathlon-- cooking, laundry, and general tidying up. I made a big pot of chicken soup and then I went on to cook the ............ brussel sprouts! I love them, but just the smell of them cooking will cause the rest of my family to flee from the kitchen (and occasionally from the house). Ah well, their loss, I get to eat a whole skillet of them simmered with apples and onions. You're jealous aren't you?

So, my reward for overcoming slothdom is a extreme soreness in my upper body and a tub of leftover brussel sprouts for lunch. Well, I'm sure there are some cookies and chocolates around here somewhere.

After work, I intend to try my new running shoes with my not quite new orthotics. The weekend will be unseasonably warm, so time outdoors is in the plan. My winter preseason ends next Wednesday. I will get on the scale (which I have been avoiding). I will spend the final 11 days of the year thinking about and planning for 2007.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Time Part II

DH started his own law practice 10 years ago. He had been with a firm for 17 years, had become a partner, but he wasn't happy there. Today he has 1 partner and 3 employees. It has taken a while to get the right mix, but he and his partner are very happy with the way the practicing is running on a daily basis and with its growth and direction. Life is good in their little part of the gigantic attorney universe. To celebrate, he and partner planned a lovely dinner for everyone and their spouses. We went to a restaurant in NYC and since 2 of the employees live in the same suburban town as us, and the third lives between us and NYC, we took a limo. What a blast! The traffic was horrendous getting into the city, but at least we were drinking champagne while complaining about it. DH and I were seated at the head of the table as the firm's parental units. Time was quickly becoming compressed-- had it really been 10+ years since we talked about him leaving a parternship behind to start his own practice? Of course hindsight is 20/20 and it was the right decision. I tried to think about what it was like when we made that decision, what did we see in the future, and I don't think we really thought about what the future would be like if he left. What we did see very clearly was what the future would be like if he didn't leave. There continue to be forks in the road, and so far we have not hit any deadends. I hope the way continues to be well marked into the future.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Time Part I

I have been thinking about time, and all its clichés, but mostly about how time sometimes seems to expand and contract; move in straight lines or in loops that seem to bring you back to somewhere you’ve been before. Several events over the past few weeks have all had me thinking about times past and how they might resonate in the future. Eh, it’s not nearly as profound as it sounds, just the events of an ordinary life.

I went to see an exhibit, Ehon, at the New York Public Library. Ehon is the Japanese tradition of creating picture books. The illustrations are not merely a mirror of the text. Rather the pictures are images that are central to the story and interact with the text to create something bigger. These beautiful works of art were often commissioned or created to celebrate a person’s life. Many of them are anthologies of poetry or chronicle long journeys. Some of the books on display are from the 8th century!! The tradition continues with more modern interpretations, but it was often difficult to tell when a book was published. The exhibit was thematic and not chronological, which enhanced the feeling of time being compressed.

Shortening the time continuum, I was at a big meeting in Denver and had dinner with my cousin and his wife. Cousin is 5 years older than me, and when we were kids, it was a big difference. His family moved to Ohio when I was nine, and until a family wedding last month, I don’t think I have seen him for at least 30 years. I am so glad I called him and we were able to spend that time together, because we hit a groove right away. In a way it was like having dinner with 2 strangers but we started with common ground, family and growing up and then the roads we’ve each taken. The 5 years age difference vanished, and time seemed to be running in concentric circles, or looping back on itself. I don’t know when we will see each other again, but I was grateful for this opportunity to reconnect.

Then there was the John Fogerty concert. Seeing old rock and rollers perform can be sad. Some of them look so……. OLD. And some can’t sing very well. Well, time seems to have stood still for John Fogerty. He looks like a much younger man. He showed pictures of his young daughter on the video screen. He sounds great and has more energy onstage than any performer (its not an act like Mick Jagger). The whole experience brought back my memories as a “Rock and Roll Girl.” It was long ago, time was expanding, and all these memories connected to my rock and roll roots rushed in. Dorm rooms, posters, friends, summers as distinct entities, boyfriends, concerts, life seemed so simple as a rock and roll girl, as Sugar Magnolia. Sigh.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Wonderful but not the Giants

The 4 day weekend brought many wonderful moments. We spent Thanksgiving with some friends and had a lovely time. I was a little disappointed that we didn’t spend the day with my brother’s family, but thankfully we live close enough that we can get together for dinner and some quality family time without too much difficulty. And thankfully we look forward to making it happen. On Saturday DH and I went to a 50th birthday party for a friend that I have known since we were 12 or 13 years old. I saw some old friends that I haven’t seen in many years. We had some good laughs when he was “roasted” by his brother and various friends. He recently became engaged to a really wonderful woman, so the entire event was filled with laughter, love, and memories. On Sunday morning I went for a 20 mile leisurely ride with 2 other club ladies. It was perfect. The temp was in the 50s. The landscape is so different at this time of year, and although the explosion of colors that is October is gone, the muted palette of November is still beautiful against a bright blue sky. Then there was Chinese take-out for lunch and the first half of the Giants game. That’s when the wonderfulness ended. The Giants game became a debacle and a stunning loss and a great cloud descended upon the household. There was nothing left to do at that point but clean up the kitchen, finish the laundry, and make some obligatory phone calls. Sunday evenings are not my favorite part of the week, and certainly coming off a 4 day weekend added to the general feeling of malaise. But witnessing the implosion of the Giants made me crave the Acoustic Night of Depression to lift my spirits!

Today marks the beginning of my “busy season.” It’s not the “holidays,” in fact I do my best to ignore them as much as possible. It’s work. I teach a course during the winter quarter which starts today. That’s 7 hours per week of classroom time. Plus prep time. I just have to be much more efficient and occasionally put in some extra hours to get the job done. I also have less flexibility in my schedule because the only day I’m not scheduled is Thursday. But it’s the part of my job that I enjoy the most. I am still committed to the Winter PreSeason and the Winter Indoor Season. The last 5 days were excellent, featuring a spin class, a bike ride, a body sculpting class, some strength training, a run, and some more miles on assorted indoor fitness equipment. In general, life is good.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Head Shoulders Knees and Toes

Starting at the bottom and moving up......
Toes: my right toe feels much better with the orthotics. I'm not sure why, but something about the physics of the way my foot moves and rolls when running has had a positive effect. This is the main reason I invested in the orthotics, so I'm happy about this!
Knees: my right knee is a bit better, but the basic (and at this point not totally understood) problem still exists. My knee gets stiff after running. The orthotics may have reduced the extent of the problem, but it's still a problem. I was hoping the orthotics would do more for the cranky knee, but I knew going into this that it was questionable.
Shoulders: my shoulders are looking good! As a matter of fact, sometimes I can't believe my arms and shoulders are mine when I look in the mirror. I have been told that shoulders are the first part of your body where you can see discernable changes when you start a weight lifting program. I believe it!
Head: improving. I've known what I need to do for a long time, and I'm getting closer to doing it. I don't have the consistency that I need but I am working out fairly regularly and my food habits are coming along. My head is in the game and aiming straight ahead.

I had 2 pieces of pie at dessert yesterday. And I'm not punishing myself or feeling like a glutton or feeling any guilt or regret. Thanksgiving is ONE MEAL. It is not a lifestyle. Actually, I have one regret. I should have had 2 pieces of blueberry pie instead of 1 piece blueberry and 1 piece ice cream cake.

Monday, November 20, 2006


On Saturday night, DH and I went to the local historical theatre, to see the movie The US vs. John Lennon. We didn't know it, but it was also acoustic night, which featured several local musicians performing original music and covers of John Lennon songs. Acoustic night ended with all 4 musicians singing Imagine, which as you can imagine, was the perfect tribute to John Lennon as well as a reflection on current world events. But before we got to the rendition of Imagine, we had to suffer through the most depressing set of songs I've ever had the occasion to sit through. It seemed like each artist was intending to perform the biggest bummer of a song. Sisters on the verge of suicide, children dying in Irag, being alone with my loneliness or living with the black tornado inside me. It was bizarre. I know these musicians did not intend for it to be Acoustic Night of Depression, but I was glad when they finally sang Imagine and thenwe had a 10 minute break so we could buy candy. The movie was quite good but it wasn't easy to watch film from the Vietnam War, the beatings at the Democratic Convention or the killings at Kent State. Or knowing that the movie would basically end with those gunshots. When I think about the volume of music that man created in a relatively short time, well just imagine if had lived a longer life.... The man was a genius. Which brings me to Bob Dylan. He, too is a modern day songwriting genius. DH and son #1 went to see him last week and they enjoyed it. I can't stomach the guy. I have total respect for his genius, but I can't listen to him sing. I can tolerate a few songs, but could never sit through his concert. I imagine it would feel like sitting through Acoustic Night of Depression.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Is He Serious

I went for a 25 mile bike ride this morning with a few other hearty club members. It was actually very pleasant. The temp was in the mid to high 40s, and I wasn't at all cold. We stopped at a not Starbucks and I had steamed cider. Yummmms. I had a conversation with a man who I have seen before on club rides. He told me how he used to ride all the time when he was younger and now he is getting back to it, especially since he is getting divorced and is trying to do things that he enjoys (and possibly meet a few women along the way). He then put in a plug for himself, suggesting that if I get to know him better, perhaps I could fix him up with some nice women. I asked him if he had met Lady X, who I had ridden with almost every weekend during the "high season." He asked me how old she is, because he is 54 and he wants to meet women in their 30s who don't want to have children because he already has 2 fabulous children and that's enough. I almost dropped my bike, which I was putting into the back of my car. This man does not have drop dead good looks (not even close) and my first (and second) impression is that he is nerdly. I'm sure he is pleasant enough and he seems eager to meet and interact with interesting people. BUT I can't see women 20 years younger than him lining up for a chance to go for a ride with him in his Toyota Camry. I don't believe I know any single women under 35, but even if I did...... and Lady X (who happens to be 50) is safe!

Yesterday I got to the gym and tried one of the brand new ellipticals that replaced some older ellipticals and I really liked it. Not sure if its any different than the old ones, maybe it was just that I haven't used the elliptical trainer in a long time. Then I got on the treadmill. I used one of the programs that had me going uphill, getting progressively steeper. I walked it and even going uphill just wasn't really getting my heart rate up where I wanted it, so I decided to run the next one. I ran real slow and by the time I got to the steepest part, I was working very hard! The good news is that my knee felt pretty good. I still haven't decided if I need to go back to the podiatrist to have the orthotics adjusted. They feel pretty good when I'm running, but I don't think I would be real comfortable just walking around in them. I should probably call him and tell him that and see what he says.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Commuting with Electronics

I commute with a backpack and although people might think I am carrying a small tonnage of important documents (does anyone carry paper documents anymore?), the reality is that I carry a small tonnage of electronics and food. Today I took my DVD player to watch Unforgiven, the Clint Eastwood movie. Then there's the cell phone, the Palm Pilot and sometimes the iPod (although not if I have the DVD player). And my Jeff Gordon lunchbag, discarded by son #2 at least 5 years ago, filled with little plastic containers of assorted good for you food.

When visiting the campus of University of Pennsylvania with my son about a month ago, I realized that every student had a cell phone and an iPod. Apple needs to work on integrating the iPod and the cell phone because nobody wants to give up the quality of the iPod to have crappy music capabilities on a cell phone. Clearly Generation D would rather carry both than give up the iPod. I am waiting for a cell phone/iPod/Palm Pilot/good quality camera in a small package. That would be a killer device. My back would be forever grateful. I'd be able to commute with the device clipped on my waist and my lunchbag. This may be a fantasy today, but a year from now.......

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Making the Move to Beta

I don't know if this is a good move or not, but I made the move to Blogger in Beta. Everything seems to have come across intact, and I can begin to explore some new features like labels. The main reason I upgraded was because I wanted to add an image with a link to my sidebar and I don't know enough html to code it by myself. I still wasn't able to do this in beta-- I can add an image and I can add a link, but I can't seem to add an image with a link. Well, I'll keep poking around and see if I can figure this out.

I did not post yesterday for NaBloPoMo. Oh well. I was very busy all day, worked late, got home late, and just didn't feel like going online at that point. So I suppose I can stop the blathering and babbling. I was kinda enjoying the challenge of trying to come up with something to post without getting into politics or other subjects of great import. After all, this blog is supposed to illuminate the ins and outs of an ordinary life. Clearly there is no room for anything resembling extraordinary here.

My dryer died. Howz that for ordinary. DH is going to buy a new one this morning. I will be instituting a policy of laundry conservation for all persons living in my household until further notice (until I can get the new dryer delivered). Of course it died with a full load of wet clothes.

Working late on Mondays means no gym. I won't get to the gym thie evening, either, due to a reception I will be attending with DH. I don't like 2 days off because of the inertia that then must be overcome. But life happens. Ordinary stuff.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Weird Sightings at the Gym

I saw some weird people at the gym today. First, there were 2 men running on treadmills in their streetclothes. Jeans, long-sleeve button down shirts. OK, its not that weird, but most people wear sweats or shorts and T-shirts. I suppose they may have forgooten their gym bags and decided to work-out anyway. The, when I was in the locker room, a woman came in, all sweaty, wearing heavy sweats. Her pants were soaked in sweat and it looked like she had wet her pants! She took off the sweats and she was wearing a plastic trash bag. Now I know the theory, wrapping yourself in plastic makes you sweat more (that part of the theory was supported by her very sweaty clothes) but do people really think this will help you lose more weight? Perhaps I have missed some recent scientific study in exercise physiology and the garbage bag is going to become an essential fitness accessory. They will be sold in assorted colors, patterns and sizes (8, 13, and 23 gallons) and of course their cost will increase exponentially as demand outpaces supply. Maybe I will start a new business, selling fashionable trashbag bodywear. A name for this product....... The Ultimate Sweat Bag. What do ya think? I'm gonna be rich, right? And all because I saw a lady wearing a garbage bag.

Anyway, back to reality. I got to the gym and did some low intensity cardio for an hour and then did a damn good LBWO. The hour on the bike and the treadmill allowed me to listen to a good chunk of music. I enjoyed that. When I got home, I made a big pot of vegetable soup. That will give me a good start for the work week. Now I'm watching the Giants v. Bears. I'll probably fold some laundry and my Sunday will be complete.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

A Great Recovery

I had a good day on Friday. I got to work early, put my game face on, dug in, and didn't quit until I got done what needed to get done. It took a while, but I did get to the gym. I used a new playlist I had designed to run 3 minute x 2 minute intervals for 30 minutes. Then I did a rockin' UBWO. Today I judged public forum at the debate tournament all day, from the first round all the way through the final round. That meant that I spent a good deal of time hanging around the judge's lounge which featured large quantities of crappy food. Tomorrow I would like to go hiking, weather permitting. If it rains, it will be an indoor day at the gym. Either way, tomorrow will feature fitness and good food.

Friday, November 10, 2006

An Unproductive Week

My week has been filled with false starts, lost opportunities and lack of focus. Although I had the time, I did not get done what needed to get done, at home or at work. As a result, I have backed myself into a corner. I will need to spend more time getting these things done, which will leave less time for effective Winter Preseason implementation. The reason I'm so angry with myself is I had the time to do everything, but just burned the time doing nothing. I am entiled to some down time, but not at the cost of productivity. I realize I can't get back the time lost, so I will move on, try to focus more on my priorities, and get done what needs to get done. So for starters, I am on an early train, give myself an extra half hour at my desk. Athough I usually only work a half day on Friday, I will not leave until I have completed one task in particular, one that I have been avoiding. If I can focus on that and get it done in a reasonable amount of time, then I can get to the gym. If it takes longer than I think, then there will be no gym today. Time to suck it up.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Wishy Washy Vegetarian

I am a vegetarian.... most of the time. I eat milk and eggs, so I am not a vegan. I am an ovo-lacto-vegetarian. Once in a while, especially when I go out to dinner, I will eat fish. Fish is meat. True vegetarians do not eat fish. OK, so I'm an ovo-lacto-occasionally fish eating-vegetarian. If the choice is eat meat or don't eat, I will eat meat, usually chicken. This is starting to sound like a silly children's song: ovo-lacto-occasionally fish eating-rarely chicken eating-vegetarian. And when I walk into that good kosher deli that we sometimes visit, I become a carnivore-for-a-meal. I cannot be denied that pastrami on rye. I am coming clean here, I am admitting that I am a wishy washy vegetarian. Yeah, well, it works for me.

Have you thought about becoming a vegetarian? Need that extra little motivation to really try to adopt this lifestyle? For me, that last push came from reading Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Thank You Malcolm Bump

This weekend is the Malcolm Bump Debate Tournament. This is a premiere event in HS debate and the primary fund-raiser for the school's forsensics teams (debate and speech). Parents are essential to the operations of the tournament. We take care of feeding the kids and the judges as well as arranging for housing the students with families in the district on Friday night. We will bring home 5 or 6 HS debaters, throw them in the basement, allow them to play video games all night if they want, and feed them milk and donuts in the morning before returning them to the HS on Saturday morning. DH and I are also going to be judging Public Forum (one of 3 debate events at the tournament).

When my son joined the debate team, I didn’t realize what I was getting into. In addition to the typical parental duties (driving here and there to drop off and pick up, donations of food and money to team activities), debate mommies and daddies have to judge at tournaments. If a team is sending X number of debaters to a tournament, then they have to provide X/3 number of judges. If your kid wants to go to lots of tournaments, then you have to go to lots of tournaments too. My son has learned more from being a member of the debate team than he has from sitting in HS classes for 3+ years. And I have learned a great deal, too. Most of my education has had math and science at its foundation. There was very little thinking involved. There was an occasional English class with a few required papers, but most of the time I was required to memorize large quantities of facts for a short period of time. Shovel in, spit out, repeat. Now, as a judge, I listen to these incredibly bright students debate topics as diverse as foreign policy, the death penalty, and domestic violence. Certainly my analytical skills have been of value, but I have no doubt that judging has forced me to sharpen my critical thinking skills. Now I look for opportunities to enhance these skills and to engage my son in lively conversations. I find myself actually reading and pondering the Op-Ed page and looking for opinion pieces online to read on the train. I listen to NPR’s podcast of On the Media. I have discovered the right side of my brain! So thank you Malcolm Bump.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Not on Page One

The only thing on page one is the election. Here's a smapling of what you might be missing.

HOUSTON-- Likening themselves to prisoners at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay, a dozen inmates on death row in Texas have staged hunger strikes over the last month to protest what they call abusive conditions, including 23 hours a day of isolation in their cells.

LAGUNA BEACH -- Instead of being known for lovely mountain views and salt-kissed breezes, the city becomes associated with the facts that Tessa is sad that her boyfriend would not talk to her at a barbecue and that Cami racked up a $4,000 shopping bill.

Three years after MTV set up shop here to chronicle the lives and travails of wealthy Laguna Beach High School seniors, whose concerns appear to center chiefly on sexual encounters and fashion accessories, some residents are saying enough is enough.

MANHATTAN -- A federal judge refused yesterday to bar Christie’s in New York from auctioning a painting by Picasso that a German banker’s heir says was sold under duress in Nazi Germany. The judge, Jed S. Rakoff of United States District Court in Manhattan, dismissed a lawsuit by Julius H. Schoeps, an heir of the painting’s original owner who claimed that he was the rightful owner and that the auction should not take place.

The painting, “The Absinthe Drinker,” also known as “Portrait of Angel Fernández de Soto,” is scheduled to be sold today at Christie’s fall auction of Modern and Impressionist art, and Christie’s has estimated that it will sell for $40 million to $60 million.

MISSISSIPPI -- Samuel H. Bowers Jr., the imperial wizard of a Ku Klux Klan faction who was found guilty in 1998 in the firebombing murder of a Mississippi shopkeeper 32 years earlier, died yesterday in a prison hospital in Parchman, Miss.

In my own little corner of the universe, my DH had a colonoscopy today. That's what you get when you turn 50. I had a session with my personal trainer. I am anticipating that I won't be able to lift a pencil tomorrow. I also took an awesome endurance spinning class. And I made black bean soup. Lunch is packed for tomorrow. None of this was on the first page either. You read it here first.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Headphones and Mental Health

I updated my iPod, stuck it in my backpack and set off on my day's adventures. When I got on the train, I could not find my headphones. I have 2 pair-- one for my backpack and one for my gym bag. They are essentially the same. I cannot imagine where my backpack headphones could have gone. Losing my headphones creates anxiety because I find it difficult to find a pair that fit and stay in my ears. Those ear bud thingies just don't work-- they fall out! Other headphones have proven to be uncomfortable after more than 5 minutes. The pair that I have been using have a band that goes over the top of your head, you know, the old-fashioned kind. This is slightly problematic in the cooler weather when I wear them over or under a hat. Not a big problem, but when I got off the train, I went to Best Buy and bought headphones that clip behind your ears. I am being very adventurous! Change does not come easy to me. It would have been much easier to buy the same old headphones and not have to worry about looking like a total dork when I try to secure them in my ears. I am embracing risk ($15 worth) by purchasing these headphones. If these work out they will become my gym bag headphones so I can wear them with a hat and my old fashioned over the head headphones will become my backpack headphones.
I warned you about the blathering and babbling. I considered writing something about tomorrow's election and the state of America, but there are so many people that can do that far better than I can. But how many people are out there blogging about the issues effecting our mental health on a daily basis? Now that I think about it, probably more than are blogging about tomorrow's election.

Sunday, November 05, 2006


It's Sunday, which usually means mega-multitasking. Watching football, cooking, blogging, laundry, talking on the telephone. I went out this morning, ran a couple of miles, stopped at the supermarket and now I'm ready to spend the afternoon getting stuff done. DH and son #2 are at the football game and son #1 is working. So it's just me.

I went down to the track and ran 2 miles with my orthotics. I was supposed to wait at least a week, but I'm feeling more comfortable with them and I know how they feel doing everything else except running, so I feel confident that I will be able to judge if they are helping or not. So far, so good! I felt good while I was running and I had virtually no pain in either my big toe or my knee. Now I will see if my knee gets stiff or not. I held it to 2 miles even though I would have liked to keep going. After all, today is the NYC marathon. It's a beautiful day (perfect for the marathon) and it felt good to be outdoors. I'm glad I avoided the convenience of running indoors.

Tomorrow I work late, so no gym. I need the day off, I am pretty sore from the last few days. Back at the gym on Tuesday. The Winter Preseason is going well.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Winter Preseason Week 1

Today I was out shopping with my son and we decided to have some "refreshments." That's an inside joke in our family-- it's secret code for a trip to Coldstone Creamery. We both had dark chocolate peppermint ice cream. I mixed in Oreos and he chose Heath Bars. Now don't get me wrong, I enjoyed every spoonful of it, but I have decided that Coldstone Creamery's ice cream is just not that good. The mix-ins are fun and definitely add to final ice cream experience, but if Coldstone had to sell their ice cream in the supermarket or just piled onto a cone without the mix-ins, I think they would go down in smoke.

A dish of ice cream is definitely not part of the Winter Preseason plan, so it won't be happening again anytime soon. It was a weak moment, but I did enjoy the opportunity to sit down with my son for a few minutes and chat. I went to the gym this morning. I took a 75 min body sculpting class that puts alot of emphasis on core, then I took a 45 min strength spin class. So I guess I will "break even." I don't plan on using exercise as justification for eating ice cream. That will only result in lack of progress and frustration. Getting back to the gym feels good and I'm a little bit sore in lots of places. That's probably because I've been mixing it up-- arc trainer, spinning, UBWO, LBWO, walking, stretching. So week 1 of the Winter Preseason has been fairly successful. Not perfect, but definitely a step in the right direction. I'm thinking about running tomorrow with my experimental orthotics. If its another beautiful day, then outdoors. Nice and slow, on the track.

Friday, November 03, 2006


I feel like I'm getting back my rhythm. The food is improving; still have room for improvement, but definitely better. Last night I went to the gym for a spin class. I haven't taken a spin class since a rainy day a couple of months ago. It felt great to get a good sweat going and watch my heart rate climb as I climbed. Today I work a half day so the gym bag is in my car. I'm not sure what activities I will pursue this weekend. There is a club D+ ride tomorrow morning and that's a possibility. I am assuming the ride will go regardless of the temperature, which will probably be mid 30s in the morning. I wouldn't mind a hike on Sunday, if I could interest anyone else. If all goes according to plan, I will have 4 consecutive days of fitness, and once those endorphins start circulating through my brain (and the crappy food stops circulating thru my gut), it's much easier to stay with the program. A body in motion tends to stay in motion. And so, my WPD is going well! There was a slice of pizza on Wed, but recovered with a good homecooked dinner. All the Halloween candy has been banished.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

I finished reading Committed: Confessions of a Fantasy Football Junkie. I have actually learned enough about football to enjoy this book. I laughed at the appropriate times, I knew enough about the players and their positions to understand the trades, and I appreciated the strategy and knowledge necessary to play this "game" well. I don't think I'm about to quit my job so I have the time needed to win the fantasy football Superbowl. I don't even think I am going to draft a team in a fantasy football league. But I am proud that I read and enjoyed 2 books about football in the last month.

While we are on the topic of books, I have been spending lots of time at If you are not familiar with this website, it is a community of people who love to read and share books. You have to join, but it is free. Books are registered and given a unique ID number. Then they are sometimes "released in the wild," with the hope that someone will find it, read it, and log onto and make an entry about that book before giving it to someone else to read. And some books are advertised as available on the website, and then bookrings are set up, with the books traveling from one person to another over months or even years. Each person that reads the book makes an entry about the book, and you can follow these books on their journeys. So if you join a bookring, you have to be willing to spend a couple of dollars to mail the book on to the next person in the ring. I suppose you could just reserve the book at your local library and not pay postage, but then you don't get to follow the book from reader to reader. There's just something really inviting and enticing about finding a book in your mailbox that has been sent to you by someone who loves books as much as you do. Many of them arrive with postcards and bookmarks from all over the world. I have mailed a few books overseas, and they take so long to get there, that its a wonderful surprise when they do arrive because usually the person receiving it has forgotten that it is on its way. Over the last 2 years that I have been "hanging out" at bookcrossing, my bookshelves have become much more dynamic! Books come and go, not at an overwhelming pace, but enough that I have never felt that I have nothing interesting to read. And I have read some really wonderful books that I never would have picked up if not for Bookcrossing.

I have joined lots of bookrings. Here are a few books that I have finished and sent on to the next bookcrosser:
Galileo's Daughter by David Sobel
Flu by Gina Kolata
Possession by A S Byatt
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Sijie Dai

And here are some bookrings that I have joined and I'm waiting for my turn:
Ahab's Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund
Driving Mr. Albert by Michael Paterniti
A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian by Marina Lewycka
Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang
March by Geraldine Brooks
If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things by Jon McGregor

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Experimental Orthotics

I have not purchased experimental orthotics, rather I have purchased orthotics as part of an experimental treatment plan to see if my right foot is messing up my right knee. I picked them up yesterday evening and now I have to "break them in" by wearing them for an hour more each day. Although my right big toe was immediately singing happy songs, my arches were getting a little grumpy by the time I got home and took them off. I guess they are going to take some getting used to. I have been told not to run in them for another week or two, until I am comfortable just hanging out with them. I plan to take them grocery shopping tomorrow and to bookclub on Friday. Can't wait! As an added bonus, I was given the plaster casts of my feet to take home and love and cherish. There is a possibility that I will need them if I need to have another pair of orthotics made so I guess I have to keep them. There must be something creative I can do with them other than shove them in my closet. Maybe I will take them with me the next time I go shoe shopping, mess with the salespeople's heads. Make up some story about new prosthetic feet. Maybe I should just make a mobile with a wire hanger.

I took the subway to and from the doctor's office. That's subway as in NYC on Halloween going down to Greenwich Village for the big parade. It was very entertaining just being on the subway! I have never gone down to see the parade (aka freak show).

WPD3 was a good one. I did eat a little bag of peanut M&Ms and a little KitKat, but at least I'm eating the right things at mealtime. I am getting back on track.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


I'm in. I'm not sure I can pull this off, but I'm going to try.
I do a good deal of professional writing, and the "urge" to write something (meaningful) usually comes in waves. As the wave swells, I find that I start writing more blather and babble either in a written journal or in this blog. Then the chattering slows down as I focus on whatever it is I start writing. I'm starting to feel the wave, so get ready for some blathering and babbling.

WPD2 went well. I work late on Mondays so I didn't get to the gym, but I brought lunch from home, and didn't indulge in any little "treats."

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Winter PreSeason Begins Today

I went to Buffalo on Thursday for a meeting. So this is how it all went down:
Checked into hotel, given a short letter informing me that due to overcrowded dorms at Buffalo State, 100 freshman are living in the hotel for the semester.
Thursday evening reception. Boxed wine. Mediocre food.
Thursday night freshman students wake me up at 1:30 am, resounding bass line causing my bed and teeth to vibrate.
Friday morning "continental breakfast." That's code for processed carbs-- bagels, danish, scones. Buffet lunch is OK (at least there was a big slad), afternoon snack with Halloween theme-- candied apples! big candy bars in addition to the usual cookies and soda.
Friday evening dinner reception-- wine being poured from bottles, salmon dinner is actually quite good. Either students are much quieter or I am very tired because I sleep through the night.
Saturday morning repeat of continental breakfast. Weather reports warn of very high winds in the afternoon, not realizing that high winds are already causing major problems at NYC airports. Flight to LaGuardia delayed 2.5 hours, need to get home to go to cousin's wedding Saturday night, mother is beginning to worry that I am not going to make it. Plane finally takes off, after pilot apologizes for stinky rear (that's the back of the plane, not his personal rear end) because truck that sucks out the toilets was not working. Make it to LaGuardia (very bumpy ride) without having to use the facilities, make it to the wedding, realize I would not have been missed if I didn't make it because there are 270 other people there, but glad I did because the food is outstanding. Cocktail hour features both quantity and quality of a wide selction of foods, decide to spend significant time and energy on obtaining food rather than wait for large dinner to follow. Wise decision, as the vegetarian selection of eggplant rollatini was the only one that was really crappy.
Return home at 3 am (1.5 hour trip), very happy that if we have to turn back the clocks, that this is the night. Wake up, contemplate whether I really need to eat again, decide I'm not hungry, and then the epiphany!
The past few days were just an extreme example of the way things having been going for the past 2 months. The processed carbs, the bumpy ride, sometimes getting it right, other times not being able to deal with limited choices. Changing the clocks today seems the perfect opportunity to mark the beginning of a new season and the realization that making it happen will require focus and commitment. The winter means less daylight hours, more time indoors, the temptation to overindulge through the holidays. I'm hoping to start getting it right now, build in the good habits now, let some momentum build and use it to get through the winter. So I am declaring the 54 days from now until the winter solstice as the Winter Preseason.
WPD1 (Winter preseason day 1): went to the gym, felt great to lift weights! Working on cleaning up the food.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

"Me" Time Part II

I'm still listening to podcasts, but I'm also reading. In my backpack (yes I commute with a backpack not a briefcase) is a copy of Get Your Own Damn Beer, I'm Watching the Game--A Woman's Guide to Loving Pro Football by Holly Robinson Peete. You know how you can listen to TV shows in Spanish by hitting the SAP button.... well I think sports should also have an alternative broadcast, for men to watch these games with their wives and girlfriends, a SFD (Sports For Dummies) button. My husband and I could do this! at least for baseball and football. He would do the play by play, and I would explain the basic rules of the game. He would also answer all the questions I ask, and of course I would ask 1) all the questions that women are afraid to ask their husbands because they don't want to look stupid and 2) all the questions women don't know to ask but knowing the answers will add to their appreciation of the game. Since this is only a fantasy, if you want to appreciate football and bond with your man on Sunday afternoons in front of the TV, then this is the book for you. The author does a great job explaining the fundamentals as well as some of the more subtle concepts. Then she throws in a little psychology, includes the proper diagrams and mixes in some football stats. This book provides a painless entry point into the mysteries of football. Your man ill be SOOOOOOO impressed when you ask him how many times the quarterback has been sacked or who usually returns the kickoff. Now of course, you have the option of never learning anything about football and getting a manicure every Sunday afternoon from September through January. There's always the mall, too, or lunch with the girls…. All good options.

I was talking about books, wasn't I. I belong to a F2F bookclub. Five of us meet once a month at the cafe in Barnes and Noble and spend 10 minutes talking about the book and about an hour talking about everything else. I always have a tall decaf latte. My friends usually drink green tea. But I digress. This month's selection is My Antonia by Willa Cather. I definitely like reading classics as well as contemporary fiction, but it is only rarely that the bookclub chooses a classic. I am savoring the opportunity. Here is a list of our more recent selections:

Will in the World- Stephen Greenblatt
The Memory Keepers Daughter—Kim Edwards
A Thread of Grace – Mary Doria Russell
The Ha-Ha –Dave King
The History of Love – Nicole Krauss
Me Talk Pretty –David Sedaris
The Covenant--Naomi Ragen
The Plot Against America – Philip Roth
Shiksa Goddess-- Wendy Wasserstein

Winter is coming, which is an opportunity to curl up on the couch with a warm fuzzy blanket and a good book. Looking for something to read? My Top 3 Picks from Bookclub 2006 are A Thread of Grace, The History of Love, and The Plot Against America.

Hmmm, I wonder if we could include book reviews in our SFD broadcast. Nah, that’s a different fantasy.

Oh, my mom is visiting and last night I watched Dancing With the Stars with her. It was awful! and I like reality TV.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

"Me" Time Part I

I commute into Manhattan, which offers me about 100 minutes of “me” time 4 days a week. I really do view it as “me” time. Once I get home, my time usually becomes everyone else’s time. But when I’m on the train, I can do what I want to do as long as it can be done on a train. Unfortunately the train does not have any treadmills or spinning classes. I don’t do anything unusual. Typically I select from the typical commuter activities—reading, writing, listening and watching. And occasionally conversing, but I usually don’t commute with anyone requiring more than a “hi how are you.” Even a few years ago, listening and watching were not as typical. Now the ubiquitous iPod and the becoming ubiquitous DVD player have changed that. Reading is probably my favored activity but my habits do change. During the past week I seem to be splitting my “me” time between reading and listening to podcasts.

I’m not sure what prompted me to do so, but I decided to peruse the available public radio podcasts and I subscribed to a few. I also updated some podcasts that I haven’t been listening to and unsubscribed from a few that don’t fit my present mood or are no longer being podcasted. So what am I listening to?

WNYC On the Media-- A 1-hour show devoted to media criticism and analysis.

NPR Driveway Moments—Typically from 5-15 minutes in length, rather than turn the radio off, you stay in your car to hear the piece to the end. It's a Driveway Moment.

NPR Playback-- Each month, NPR Playback combs the NPR radio archives to connect past with present. Presently reconnecting with events from 1981.

NPR World Story of the Day-- Pick 1 story from the day’s broadcasts and presents it in about 5 minutes

WBEZ American Life-- this weekly radio show on topics that aren't really news, but topics that relate to everyone's life in some way.

WGBH Morning Stories—stories that stay with you all day long, usually under 15 minutes long, personal stories told by people in the community.

KCRW The Score-- Under 5 minutes, the poetry, the sociology, the philosophy of sports.

And my only music podcast, Coverville-- Focuses on cover songs; a new rendition of a previously recorded song. The show is produced and hosted by Brian Ibbott, in his home. About 35 minutes, usually 6 songs.

(As an aside, as I type this in MS Word, spellcheck doesn’t recognize the word podcast because it’s just too new a word!).

In the last 2 days I learned that judges writing decisions often quote songwriters, with Bob Dylan being the most frequently quoted; that oboe players have to “build” and carve the reeds that their instruments use, often on a daily basis; that when the Sony Walkman came into vogue in 1981, many people thought it was a ridiculous fad that wouldn’t last. I listened to a soldier’s comments on the morality of war and an opinion on what makes Terrell Owens a complete a$$hole. I learned about a book called Hungry Planet that I have placed on reserve at my local library and I listened to some cover songs that I never would have known are covers because I never heard the “original” versions. I was entertained, enlightened, educated and reminded. Hey, not bad. Too bad I had to come to work and act stupid (hehe just kidding!!).

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Apparel and Gear

This weekend has brought beautiful crisp autumn days and a couple of wonderful bike rides. Saturday was the club's fall ride and picnic and lots of folks showed up. I went on the D ride which turned out to be a mistake. It was very slow! so about half of us broke away at about the halfway point and cranked it up a bit. Today only 3 of us showed up, so again we picked up the pace a bit. A 55-mile weekend has brought me close to an 800-mile season. I know there are lots of people who have rideen far more miles than that, but I think it's pretty damn good!

Yesterday morning it was in the high 40s when we headed out. I was a little cold when we got started but I warmed up very quickly and quite enjoyed the ride. It made me realize that with the proper clothes and gear, I can ride my bike through November. So last night I tried to figure out what I have and what I need to ride in the cool/cold weather. I have capri length padded tights, which were perfect this weekend, and I ordered another pair. I really want full-length tights, but every pair I have tried are too long. I bought the pair with the longest inseam, thinking that these "capris" will probably fit mini-me like full-length tights. I considered leg warmers, but I think I will be more comfortable in tights. I also used my toe covers yesterday. Someone asked me if they work, and I guess they must because my feet weren't at all cold and hers were.
I must admit that I am a gear head, and I love checking out catalogs and building wishlists.
Here are a few items I simply "must have" if I am going to keep cycling in the colder weather. Gloves of course, pink ones, and an ear warming headband to wear under my helmet. Should I stay with pink?
Having the right gear and apparel can really cost a bundle. I have definitely seen cyclists at both ends of the spectrum. Some invest thousands of dollars in a bicycle, and then spend a small fortune on shoes, jerseys, jackets, sunglasses and finding the right power bar. Then there are riders on 20+ year old bikes wearing old sneakers, older gym shorts, and the oldest T-shirt available. I'd like to think I fall someone in the middle (as I usually do). I plan to purchase a new bike before next season, and I consider padded shorts, wicking clothing and pedals/cleats as essentials. Staying warm is important too, hence the toe covers, gloves, and headband. Beyond that, this is what I do, I work hard at it, its done me good and I want to look good while I'm doing it. Spending money on cycling clothes makes me feel good and keeps me in the game. Now, where did I put that Terry catalog?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Two Wishes

September ended with a whimper. A combination of minor surgery and the Jewish holidays forced me to ''lay low'' for a solid week. Now I am finding it tough to get started again. A body at rest tends to stay at rest. Inertia is keeping me from accumulating any potential energy. I am planning on making my move on Thursday, and if the weather holds up, the weekend will have opportunities as well. The club's last event of the season, the fall ride and picnic is this Saturday and my brother and I plan to hike on Sunday.

But tonight we have tix for game 2 of the ALDS, Yanks v Tigers!! It really is October and as much as I love the fall, it is bittersweet. I try to focus on the positive aspects of the coming winter (and yes there are some positives), but there is no doubt I am a summer person. It is the approaching winter that tends to make me more introverted and solitary. This is not necessarily a bad thing. There is much to be said for happily spending time with yourself and enriching your mind and your spirit. Winter is the perfect excuse for immersing yourself in “media,” for reading books, watching movies, building playlists and editing all those digital photos. What I do miss is the long hours of daylight and the ease of spending time outdoors. Even though I do make the effort and I love snowshoeing and cross country skiing, it does take more effort, not to mention snow. As much as the snow and ice are hazardous and problematic, in my mind, if you are going to have winter, you might as well have the snow to enjoy. So I have 2 wishes for the fall—that the Yankees become World Champions and that the coming winter brings real snow!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Bike Respite

I did NOT ride my bike this weekend! That’s just the way it worked out. Yesterday I went hiking instead, which made me realize how tight my hamstrings are from riding, so a little “cross training” is a good thing. The Hudson River Valley Ramble features over 160 walking and hiking events over 2 weekends, stretching from Manhattan to Albany. Yesterday I hiked up Anthony’s Nose with 8 other hearty individuals. Anthony’s Nose is a steep, 900-foot mountain on the eastern bank of the Hudson River in the beautiful Hudson Highlands. The trail went up and down quite a bit, so that the total elevation gain is 2,000 feet over 3.7 miles. This was not a hike for wimps! The views over the highlands were spectacular and we watched the hawks soaring overhead. The descent was only a mile and therefore steep, and it did bother my knees a bit; nothing that a recovery day can’t fix. I was tired when I got home. I managed to finish some cooking I had planned and spent most of the afternoon watching the Seahawks humiliate the Giants.

I spent the last few days doing a lot of cooking. I’m not sure why, but the cabinets were flying open and the pots were barely washed before being pressed into service yet again. I did put a few dinners in the freezer and we enjoyed the leftovers at lunch. Here is a partial list of what came out of my kitchen:
Giant tray of baked ziti, pot roast from the crock pot, Morrocan roast vegetables, asian flavored halibut and vegetables, lemon rice pilaf, large pile of tangy chicken wings (excellent choice for watching football), and baked tofu with tangy chicken wing sauce.

I belong to an organic food coop and I pick up a basket full of fruits and vegetables every two weeks. A week into this cycle and most of the food was still in my refrigerator. Yesterday I was down to a few carrots, a cabbage, a cauliflower and a head of lettuce!

I had a good week, eating properly, burning calories and lifting weights. My weight has come back down closer to where it should be. The fitness challenge is entering the last week and I continue to be inspired by the 40+ miles per week people as well as the folks who have gone from zero miles to 6 miles per week! I don’ think I will do another challenge in October, but maybe in November. It will be interesting what people do as the weather cools off, daylight hours decrease, and the indoor season becomes a reality.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Golden Apple Perfection

Venue, the God of Outdoor Events, was smiling down upon the Westchester Cycle Club on Sunday and sent a perfect day for the Golden Apple and the 1,000+ participants. The 100 and 125 mile riders were able to start early with but a slight chill in the air, maybe with arm warmers. The 75 and 50 milers saw the sun breaking through as they set out on their journeys. The 25 milers had bright sunshine from start to finish. I rallied some slow C riders for the 50 mile ride, and it was great. They ride just a bit faster than me, enough to push me to quicken my pace and prove to me that I can ride faster than I think! Everyone was given a pair of Golden Apple 25th Anniversary socks when they checked in and there was still Ben & Jerry's ice cream available (in addition to a full lunch) when we were done. Volunteers were plentiful and the entire event was well managed. I'm sure the Club brought in the revenue they need to support its activities and to donate a chunk of money to charity as well. I'm sure Mike the Event Man slept well on Sunday night.

DH returned from his XY vacation late late Friday night. Although he had a great time with his buddies and his mule, he did suffer from altitude sickness. He never really acclimated and wasn't able to do some of the hiking. One day he took a 3 hour nap in the meadow while the other guys hiked up to 12,000 feet. Doesn't sound too unpleasant to me! He was still feeling crappy on Saturday and when he took his bike out, he just couldn't do it. His heart rate was very low because his red blood cells were all pumped up, but his breathing was wacky. So he didn't ride on Sunday. I did pick up his socks for him. He is feeling better and is planning to workout today.

I am updating the Fitness Challenge after week 2 and except for me, the other participants are fairly consistent. 40 milers for the 1st week did 40 miles in the 2nd week, and 6 milers for the first week did 6 miles in the 2nd week. My mileage dropped from 31 to 17. Last week was not a good week for working out. Hoping this week will be better. One person dropped out after seeing the totals from the 1st week. It was too demoralizing to compare herself to the top contenders. That's exactly what I did not want to happen and why everyone has an alias (a fitness challenge spirit name). Oh well. Some people have commented that they are defintiely out there a little longer because of the challenge and that's what it's all about!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Pass Interference

Waiting for the bus from Giants Stadium to Arena parking lot, slightly drunk man steps in front of me. Pass Interference. Penalty: He has to move halfway to the back of the line.

Leaving Giants Stadium, 3 lanes merge into 1 to get on the NJ Turnpike. Dirtbag driving Suburban cuts me off. Pass Interference. Penalty: He has to return halfway to the stadium parking lot. Throw in a personal foul for driving that gas guzzling monster, and he has to go all the way back to the stadium parking lot.

Driving home, son #1 changes radio station, son #2 calls pass interference. Penalty: son #1 loses control of the radio for half of remaining time in the car.

Monday morning, son #1 gets to sleep an hour later than son #2 because he doesn't have a first period class and can drive to school. Pass Interference. Penalty: son #1 has to drive son #2 to Cold Stone Creamery. Seems reasonable to me.

Commuting into NYC, man stands in front of me on train platform as train approaches. Pass Interference. Penalty: He has to return halfway to his car in the parking lot and miss the train. Ha!

Coffee break, deli across the street, purchasing refreshments for myself and a colleague. Deli worker ignores me requiring supervisory deli worker to tell him to help me and then gives me only 1 little jelly package for my colleague's pumpernickel bagel. Guess what deli worker, that's PASS INTERFERENCE. Penalty: forfeit half of the grape jelly packages and pumpernickel bagels in the deli.

As you can see, I am a ruthless referee, handing out penalties whenever I feel like it, just like NFL referees. And I don't have to wear a stupid zebra striped shirt either!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Penis Envy, $4000 on eBay, Flapper Pillowcase Dress, Phitness Phreak, INvalidation, HS Reading List

DH has gone on an all-boy vacation with a bunch of his buddies. He flew out to Reno and then drove to Bishop CA where he will get on a horse and ride into the high Sierras for 5 days. DH does not know anything about riding a horse, so hopefully all that will be required is that he remain upright and the horse will know more than he does. I know there are also mules involved. Oh, and guides. That's a good thing. Hopefully the guides will know how to do things like set up tents and cook and kill snakes. Now, I must admit that I am jealous. I would have gone on this trip without thinking twice, if I could. Oh well, another disadvantage of not having a penis.

Since DH is out of town, I get to drive to Giants Stadium tomorrow evening for the opening game of the football season-- Eli v. Peyton. I don't mind going to the game, although I probably would have given my ticket to a friend of son #2 and watched the game from the comfort of my living room. I just hate driving to Giants Stadium especially for a night game. I tried to talk the kids into agreeing to sell the tickets on eBay. I am told that these tickets are selling for over $1000 each, and we have 4 of them. They didn't even respond to my suggestion. So drive I will, to cheer for Eli and the Giants. Son #2 said I can wear his Tiki jersey.

Last night son #1 went to a Great Gatsby party at a very nice catering venue. One of his friends had neither a bat mitzvah nor a sweet sixteen, and her mom agreed to throw this big shindig for 60 of her closest friends. Good food, DJ, photographer, the whole shabang! Once again, I am jealous. I would love to make a flapper dress out of a pillowcase and go to a Great Gatsby party. And at my age, there would be drinking in addition to the good food and DJ, which would defintiely lend itself to many Kodak moments.

I am preparing the first update for the Fitness Challenge and boy, the competition is much tougher than I thought it would be! From September 1-7, I had 31 miles. I thought I would have an early lead which would fade over the next few weeks. Well, Phitness Phreak had 42 miles and 26.2 or Bust (who is obviously training for the NYC marathon) had 30 miles. Several participants had 25ish miles. A couple of people commented that they were defintiely motivated to do a little more because of the Challenge, and that is definitely what this is about. I hope no one is discouraged when they see how many miles some people have logged.

Speaking of fitness, I went for a club bike ride this morning. It was absolutely beautiful-- blue skies, temp in the mid 70s, just perfect. We rode past Club Fit, one of the biggest gyms/fitness clubs in the area. The parking lot was packed! I could visualize all those people riding stationary bikes and running on treadmills. How could they even think of being indoors on a day like today? I'm sure there's a myriad of reasons and explanations but they are ALL INVALID.

Today I was helping son #2 write an essay about Jon Krakauer's book Into the Wild. That really piqued my interest and now I have to read the book. So that's what I'm gonna do!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Potential Energy

Every Labor Day weekend the bike club books a block of rooms at a small motel in Red Hook and rides the backroads of Dutchess county. On Sunday, I drove up with another club member, just for the day. It was a damp drizzly morning, and while many decided to wait until noon and take a shorter ride, 5 of us set out in the morning, knowing the weather was going to improve. It ended up being a fabulous ride, probably one of my favorites this season. We stopped at a beautiful farmer's market in Rhinebeck and bought fruit, cheese, bread and muffins for lunch. Then we rode to the Staatsburgh Mansion, and picnicked right on the banks of the Hudson. We continued to ride beautiful backcountry roads, past apple orchards, horse farms and corn fields. Our last stop was at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, home of the Fischer Performing Arts Center, which was designed by Frank Gehry. What a sight to behold! I'm so glad we rode the extra few miles to see it. The last few miles we rode were under a deep blue sky with a smattering of high clouds. Our ride was 44 miles. Of course there were hills, but nothing too dramatic, and I seemed to match the speed and pace of these women very well (there was 1 husband, but he slowed down to ride with us). The only disappointment was discovering that Red Hook does not have a Dunkin Donuts. I got over it.

I have already "banked" 27 miles in the September Challenge. Riding 84 miles over the weekend certainly gave me a major league head start. Everyone in the challenge has to have an "alias" which reflects their fitness challenge spirit. That way no one has to be embarrassed when I post weekly mileage updates if they are in last place. l have thought about it (hmmm.... Black Trek, no that doesn't reflect any spirit... Vergence Ranges, no that's too easy..... Hills for Breakfast, getting closer, at least that has attitude) and finally decided I will be Potential Energy. That's what you have when you get to the top of a hill. It's about fighting gravity which is trying to keep you down. When you climb the hill and fly downhill, you forfeit all your potential energy and you have to climb the next hill. There is always another hill, but there is always a reward when you get to the top! Everyone can find their potential energy if they are willing to fight against whatever is pulling them down. So what do you think-- Potential Energy exudes spirituality, right?

Saturday, September 02, 2006

The Millbrook Ride

Many years ago, (uh, about 20), my brother and I would ride from our parent's home in Hopewell Jct to Millbrook. It was always a favorite bike ride, really beautiful, challenging, and most of it on quiet back roads. When DH became my DH, he would ride with us, too. Yesterday, DH and I both took the day off and we decided to take the bikes up to Hopewell Jct. and ride to Millbrook. We even found the original route directions in my brother's handwriting. I knew there was a couple of really big climbs on this ride, but DH kept assuring me that the hills would be smaller than I remember them. Not. I'm grateful they didn't get bigger but they certainly didn't get smaller. This was a very challenging ride for me, 40 miles round trip. I felt like my legs were toast when we got to Millbrook. Luckily the ride out is more difficult than the return trip, but we still had to go over Chestnut Ridge. You know you are in trouble when you turn onto "Overlook Road." DH stuck with me, even though I ride much slower than him. He was wearing his heart rate monitor which beeps whenever he is not "in his zone" (kind of annoying but the monitor is broken and he can't turn the beep off). Everytime he pulled up alongside me, his heart rate monitor was beeping because his heart rate was way below the zone. Riding my speed for 40 miles, his average heart rate was 108. Holy cow the man is fit! Well, this ride was still a major success. It was as beautiful as I remember it, Millbrook is a funky little town, great for a lunchbreak, and although it wasn't a beautiful sunny day, the cooler cloudy weather was a nice change from the summer heat. We saw a soaring eagle and got to visit with some cousins. When we got home, I fell asleep on the couch watching the Yankee game. Today is the perfect recovery day, as the remnants of Ernesto churn up the coast. Tomorrow I shall ride again! The September Monthly Mileage Challenge began yesterday, and 40 miles converts to 10 miles in the challenge. Not a bad way to start the month!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

September Challenge Is On

I have organized a Monthly Mileage Challenge at work. So far I have enrolled 13 people and I'm hoping to enroll a few more today and tomorrow (this is a tough week to get this going because so many people are on vacation). Here's how it works:
All cardio activities will be converted to mileage. Running, walking, elliptical are all straight miles. Biking is 4:1 (bike 4 miles to get "credit" for 1 mile), swimming is 1:4 (swim 1 mile and get credited 4 miles). Stairmaster is 1:2, cardio classes are 4 miles per hour, etc. These conversions may not be perfect, but the idea is to "level the playing field" so anyone can get involved and log some miles with almost any activity. This concept seems to be working because the participants include a few folks who need a little motivation to get started as well as marathoners. Everybody keeps their own log and reports their mileage to me weekly. I will send a weekly update (using aliases) so everyone can see how they are doing (if they are in it to win it). The entry fee is $10. The winner takes 50 percent, 30 percent buys a healthy lunch for participants, and 20 percent is donated to a charity. So if I can get 15 participants, the winner gets $75. Not a bad chunk of change! I'm psyched. I am definitely in it to win it! Especially since I am looking at new road bikes, every little bit helps.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Bike Shopping!

I love the Black Trek but ..... I've started shopping for a new bike. I'm not sure if it's easier or more difficult because of my size. There is certainly less available in my size with a full-sized (700) wheel but getting the proper fit is more difficult. Yesterday DH & I went t the LBS and mostly talked. He only has 1 possible bike in stockin a 44 frame--A Bianchi Eros Donna. I'm going to take it out for a test ride on Tue. Then I will probably wait a week or two for some of the 2007s to come in. I'm not in a rush. I can ride the rest of the season on the Trek, but the idea of a new bike makes me salivate and dream of breaking thru the 13 mph wall.

On Sat DH & I rode with friends A& H. They are riding in a big 3 day charity ride in a few weeks and needed a long ride. We rode 42 miles and they took turns dropping back to ride with me. I don't think they minded, and DH liked it because he felt like he was doing intervals. But it does make me a little self-conscious about my slow pace. It also motivates me to keep working at it. At the same time, I have to tell myself not to get too obsessed about comparing myself to other women. If I want to do that, then how many women my age do I know that can ride 40 miles or something equivalent. So I know I need to stick to doing what's right for me and work toward my own goals. I can be realistic and still have plenty of room to grow.

I haven't ridden in 2 weeks and I really felt it especially in my quads. You don't really get a break riding on my part of the planet. Seems like there is ALWAYS another hill. But that's what riding is all about. It's the hills that make you tough and strong, mentally as well as physically. Sunday was supposed to be a hiking day but it was a wash-out. I used the day to get lots done around the house. I t was another mother’s triathlon—cooking, laundry and (my worst event) ironing.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Monthly Mileage Motivation

I am still struggling to find the motivation to get back to healthy habits with some consistency.  I need to rethink goals.  Having a number as a goal (pounds, percent body fat) is not getting the job done.  I know that if I do the right thing consistently, the pounds and the body fat will take care of themselves.  I need a performance goal.  At the beginning of the summer, it was to run a 10K, but that was shelved due to toe and knee issues.  I am planning on riding 50 miles in a bike tour next month, but I already rode 50 miles last month.  With the summer winding down, performance goals have to be more creative.  These goals need to be short term, or they kinda slip away.  

So, I'm thinking about starting a friendly fitness competition for the month of September in my office.  It would be based on total mileage, but since the idea is to encourage cardio activities of all types, every activity would be converted to mileage.  As an example, walking, running, hiking, elliptical, stair master would all be straight mileage.  Bicycle miles would count 4:1, cardio classes would count 4 miles per hour, etc.  I'm sure conversions could be determined for just about anything (strength training does not qualify).  Indoors or outdoors.  Participants keep track of their own mileage, but have to keep some sort of log and provide weekly updates.  Entry fee $10.  Winner takes 50 PERCENT, 30 PERCENT used to bring in a healthy lunch at the end of the month, 20 PERCENT goes to 1 person chosen at random ( cannot be the winner).  Loser has to buy 2nd place a Jamba Juice?

Anybody have any suggestions? Should this be "ladies only?"  Should the number of entries be limited? How can we "level the playing field" so anyone can participate?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The 2006 Boston Massacre

A couple of months ago, we bought 4 tickets to see the Yanks play at Fenway.  It was very exciting to be there, to be part of the 2006 Boston Massacre. There were plenty of Yankee fans everywhere, so we felt “safe.”  My son did send one Red Sox fan over the edge with his “enthusiasm,” but when the ARSF (asshole Red Sox fan) told my son to “sit the F%&k down,” he exercised sound judgement and complied with the request.  

From the Boston Globe:
The truth is that this has been a very good year to be a Yankee fan. They lost Gary Sheffield and Hideki Matsui within two weeks in the spring, they also lost the scary-good Robinson Cano for about six weeks, and they had concurrent problems with their starting pitching. They had to wait out a Red Sox surge, knowing there was plenty of time in a long, long season to pull themselves together. In its present form, it is a thoroughly likeable and rootable team.

From the NYTimes:
More than 35,000 sad souls had shuffled out of Fenway Park by 5 p.m. on Monday. There were sea gulls circling the center-field bleachers then, but they might as well have been buzzards. In 75 punishing hours, the Yankees had pounded their rivals into little more than a carcass.

This 3 day trip to Boston included a visit to the Museum of Science to see the Body Worlds exhibit.  I had already seen it in Chicago, but it was just as fascinating and enlightening the second time through.  DH was similarly impressed, son #1 was totally grossed out, and son #2 was underwhelmed.  At least we tried.  We also hopped onboard the Duck Tours and visited Emack and Bolios on Newberry Street.  On the way out of town, we had brunch with some old and dear friends of mine.  That made the weekend a complete success.  

Monday, August 14, 2006

Uterus Is Right

I am so ready for menopause. Bring it on. A couple of months ago I was 2 weeks late. I thought I was done. Yeah, I wish it was that simple. This month I was 2 days late and I was having conversations with my uterus. Don't do this. I will still respect you. I'll compromise, we can adjust the schedule. Everybody else understands that I'm not having anymore babies. Why can't you. Uterus did not listen. In fact, Uterus punished me by getting started at a most inconvenient time and requiring a trip to Walmart to purchase shorts, panties and feminine hygiene products in order to continue road trip to PA. Uterus' final words were You're old enough to know better than to venture forth totally unprepared. Uterus is right. I am in deep denial that I still do this monthly cycle thing.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

The Boys are Back in Town

Son #1 came home yesterday and Son #2 came home today. It is wonderful to have them home, but already life is much more structured and filled with obligations. Laundry, dinner, appointments, whys and why nots. Son #1 came home with a letter from the camp director praising his wonderful qualities as a counselor and inviting him back for many summers to come. That made me proud. Son #2 received similar praise for a speech he gave at the banquet as the captain of color war's losing team. That also made me proud.

This weekend was perfect for spending time outdoors, with blue skies, low humidity and temps up to about 80. Yesterday I went for a club ride, 23 miles. Today I got off the bike and went hiking. I emerged from the woods 6 miles and 4 hours later feeling pleasantly tired and yet recharged. The smells and sights of the flora and fauna were wonderful and so vibrant after spending so much time on my bike. It was a nice change.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Chihuly at the Botanical Gardens

This exhibit is extraordinary! Dale Chihuly is an artist known for his glass sculptures. This exhibit was designed specifically for the Botanical Garden's collections and landscapes. Most of the art is displayed in the Haupt Conservatory -- the glasshouse -- but other pieces are placed in outdoor settings. Imagine turquoise ice cubes floating in a green slime covered pond with bullfrogs calling! Some of these sculptures are bound to elicit different responses at different times of the year. It is on display through late October and I might go back in the fall, just to see it against the splendor and colors of that season. Well, here are some images, but a camera (at least one with me as the photographer) does not do this exhibit justice.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Atomic Banana and Scrambled Tofu

Son #1 was home for a doctor’s appt.  His broken ankle is healing very nicely, so the doctor took off his cast. Yahoo!  Now he is wearing an aircast, and he can begin to put a teeny tiny amount of weight on it.  So that’s progress!  I took him back to camp where the entire staff is involved in a game they call Atomic Banana.  Everybody has the name of another person that they are trying to get “out” by pointing a banana at him/her.  If you get that person out, then your next target is the person that your original target was targeting.  Certain locations are “safe,” such as the dining hall or when you are working.  It’s walking between locations and less structured periods of time when you are most at risk! At least half of the staff gets taken out in the first 2 days, then the remaining people get more and more paranoid as they try to run between buildings and locations without getting nuked by a banana.  So yes, every staff person runs around with a banana in their pocket.  Son #1 was very excited that despite his handicap of being on crutches, he survived the first day and then he went home for a day!  I wonder if he is still in the game or if he got taken down.

I cooked this last night, and it was super delicious.  I made the rancheros version, adding 1 cup of salsa at the end.  Served it up as a wrap with cucumber cilantro salad.  And, I had leftovers, so I get to eat it again for lunch today!      

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Theatre on the Hudson

Last night I went to see A Midsummer Night's Dream at Boscobel. We picniced before the show on the grounds overlooking Constitution Marsh and the Hudson River. The heat wave had finally broken and it was a perfect night for spending some quality time with a few friends, sitting under the theatre tent and laughing!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Laying Low

Combine the need to recover from an 85 mile bicycle weekend with this f*%$ing heat wave (being outdoors for any length of time--even nanoseconds--is not an option) and you discover new ways to entertain yourself. So, I have been immersing myself in various forms of media-- tunes, books and TV.

This Friday evening I am going to see a local theatre company's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, and I never read the play, so I am reading it. I think it might have been really confusing if I didn't already know the storyline, with everyone falling in and out of love with everyone else! Those fairies are quite mischievous. I put aside another book for a day or two to read the play--The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards. So far I am not thrilled but I don't hate it either. I will reserve final judgement until I have finished it. I do most of my reading on my train ride into NYC, which is 50 minutes. I would rather read a book than the newspaper, even though I sometimes think I should be educating myself more by reading the paper.

At home, I have been TIVOing my new addiction-- Project Runway. I did not watch the first 2 seasons, and I'm not sure what made we watch the first episode this season, but I love watching these very creative people whip up these incredible designs. The personalities of the designers are now beginning to "explode" as one designer is eliminated each week. I'm not sure its a good idea to give them all sharp scissors. Maybe they should be using the ones like we had in kindergarten that had blunted, rounded ends.

I finalized my playlist for the Summer CD Swap. I still have to burn copies to mail out to all the swappers. Here is the playlist-- the theme is Food and Drink. I am naming this CD No Jimmy Buffet because I avoided the obvious Cheeseburger in Paradise and Margaritaville.

All You Can Eat--Ben Folds
Beans And Corn Bread--Louis Jordan
Busting Up a Starbucks--Mike Doughty
Chicken Man--Indigo Girls
Dirty Martini--Joe Jackson
Elderberry Wine--Elton John
Hospital Food--David Gray
I Saw Elvis ( In A Burger King )--Bob Martinson
Orange crush--REM
Peanut--Squad 51
Please Don't Talk About Murder While I'm Eating--Ben Harper
Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)--Squeeze
Red Beans--Marcia Ball
Rhubarb Pie--John Fogerty
Tea in the Sahara--The Police
The Diner Song--The Contes
Tom's Diner--Suzanne Vega & D.N.A.

New Ride

My new wheels, 4 of them. Subaru Outback. Mine is blue.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Drink or Die

Yesterday was the Harlem Valley Rail Ride. I rode 55 miles at an average speed of 13 mph. That is further and faster than I have ever ridden. I ran into a few WCC riders at registration and I was able to ride with them. I was much happier riding with them than waiting for the 55 mile group ride, especially when Judy told me that 55 miles was going to be a stretch for her (me too!) and that she rides about 11-12 mph (me too!). She then proceeded to become the “rabbit,” taking off at about 17 mph down the rail trail! I guess she underestimates her riding ability (me too!). The second half of the ride was more difficult than the first half, and the last 5 miles were brutal. It was also hot and sunny (drink or die was the day’s mantra), so we slowed down quite a bit. At the 52 mile point ***tired legs*** we were climbing up a fairly long (but not steep) hill ***hot ***riders were stretched out over the entire length of the hill ***long***no one was talking ***water*** everyone put there head down ***hard work**** and just kept those wheels moving ***granny gears***the only sounds were shifting bicycle gears ***grind it out**** and heavy breathing ***arrrrgh***. I made it up that hill and the next 2 hills. I never got off to bike to walk. The whole thing worked out very well--I didn't have to ride alone or with a big group, I was pushed to ride a little bit harder (and proved to myself that I can do it), and DH was able to take off and ride as fast as he wanted. He was perfectly happy to ride 55 miles by himself. But of course he wasn't.really by himself because there were 1300 riders and excellent support services and rest stops. At the end of the ride we jumped into the town pool, had lunch, packed up the bikes, gear, and tired a$$es and then got our iced coffees for the ride home. Pure bliss.

We had decided to make a weekend out of it and stayed at a lovely B&B. There were group rides and some ''tourist'' activities available on Saturday. DH and I joined the 30 mile ride. As the shortest ride, this attracted the full spectrum of riders. We eventually split into 2 groups but stopped often to regroup and have lunch. It was the perfect prelude to the real ride. What could be better than riding down country roads on a beautiful summer day with DH and a group of friendly folks?

That's right, I rode the Black Trek 85 miles this weekend. Go Xena!