Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker

Candy is tricky to make.

That’s the first thing I have to say because I’m sure this recipe was tested and I’m sure I’m the one who did something wrong. I have an idea that maybe it boiled too long.

Wait while I put some of my ideas about candy making mistakes into the google machine. Stand by.

I’m back already to say that so far, I’m a genius. I used the correct pan. I used a wooden spoon. It’s not like I’ve never seen candy made. I must have absorbed something somewhere. Maybe my idea about the mistake is right. Stand by.

Behold! It’s an hour later, but I think I found the problem(s):
1    1.  If you're using molds, prepare the molds with lollipop sticks, spray with oil, and place them on a cookie sheet or marble slab.
2    2.    Adding it (the flavoring) sooner causes most of the flavor to cook away.

I didn’t actually search for an hour. I got sidetracked by bright, shiny objects. Big surprise.

The recipe I used said nothing about greasing the molds. There was also a suggestion that you turn a cookie sheet upside down and put the molds on that. Or a marble slab, but I don’t have one. While I don’t think I added the flavoring too soon, maybe I did. If I did, it was seconds too soon.

These lollipops were made with Captain Morgan rum. They’re supposed to you know, taste like rum. They don’t. They mellowed into a very light, warm flavor with a slight taste of butterscotch.
In short, it tastes the way you think liquor should taste when you’re a kid, but then you drink your first gin martini or your first straight shot of whiskey and you realize it could strip varnish off an old table.  

So here’s the problem: the recipe casually mentions peeling the mold away from the lollipop or the lollipop away from the mold or something that sounds easy but in reality wasn’t easy at all. 

The lollipops did what hard candy does. It was hard. They didn’t peel. They didn’t budge. Finally, I tried to push on them from the bottom and they did what hard candy does. They cracked.

Realizing I was not going to have yummy lollipops because I’d already sampled some of the mixture, I decided to try popping them out of the molds. They popped all right. They popped into pieces. I stored them overnight and yearned for the flavors to get to know one another. Perhaps even marry into a delicious, rum-soaked passionate affair.

They did no such thing.

In my post candy-making despair, I’ve eaten three of them. I wrote the place from whence I gathered the recipe. They apologized, but had no tips to offer. So I decided not to try again. 

Also? In my frustration during the actual candy-making debacle, I threw away the mold.

Makes me think the expression “After they made you, they broke the mold” could be used in a good way, could be used in a bad way. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Holiday snacking and shopping

For the past four weeks at least, I've been doing my best to leave holiday treats on the shelves at the store.

Usually I shop the perimeter of the grocery store, so it isn't difficult for me to skip most all the aisles except the canned vegetable aisle. I purposely go down the liquor aisle just to keep from shopping the others.

I go up through produce, skirt the bakery, round through the deli department and then down the vegetable aisle. If my store ever moves things around from that aisle, I'm in big trouble. It has Mexican products, vegetables and beans. If I need coffee, that peeks out from a shorter aisle, so I don't have to go down the aisle to fetch it. I get back to the meat department and head east to dairy. When I need to go back, I pass the paper/cat food aisles to hit the liquor aisle. I just walk down the liquor aisle.

OK, I might stop and smell a few roses in the liquor aisle. But it’s all too expensive and I hear it’s not the thing to drink alone. Being the only drinker for miles around, I can easily talk myself out of any impulse purchases in the liquor aisle.

This route gets me right back to the end of the line of cash registers, where I get in line and wait my turn. Naturally, it's not a perfect system and I can get sidetracked now and then, but mostly this is what I do and I keep myself from seeing and buying food I really don't want in the house.

You know what kills me every time? A trip down to Trader Joe's.

Oh, TJ! How you tempt me this time of year especially with your peppermint Joe-Joe's and your peppermint covered pretzels! I adore your special little yummy nuggets of fat and sugar so carefully arranged to bring out the delightful, tongue-pleasing flavors of even the most heinous chemicals, colorings and trademark secrets. I've managed to learn to live without your 3-layer hummus, too (thanks for the times when you don't have any in stock. I love you for that).

What's wrong with hummus? I hear you asking. Nothing except when your self-control flees and you eat the entire container in less than 24 hours. It's called Patient Needs Intervention.

I've yet to see a loaf of bread perform a back flip into my grocery cart or a box of brown sugar Pop-Tarts swan dive into my purse as I walk by, but these aisles are really off-limits as much as they can be. It takes habit and will power and self-talk. I talk to myself an awful lot in life, I've always admitted it. But the reason my lips are always moving at the grocery store is to remind myself constantly that I don't need anything down this or that aisle! 

While the treats at the supermarket are not leaping into my grocery cart unassisted, the advertisements are doing graceful jet├ęs into my email inbox at an alarming rate.

I delete them mercilessly. I disregard the advertisements in the Sunday newspapers by piling them unseen into the recycle pile.

I drive boldly past the stores with their evil blinky-blinky signs. I'm not a shopper most of the time anyway. I don't enjoy going through the stores, picking through the bins, sniffing out the deals. I do, however, do the math to find out price-per-ounce. I'm the one in the store who is standing in the aisle going back and forth between two items to find out if one is a better deal than two or if 60 fewer sheets of toilet paper are worth the extra $1.36 per package.

I like to keep my coat on so as not to feel at home behind my cart. If I am shopping with someone, I gladly allow them to push the cart. If they don’t want to, I whine until they agree to push the cart. I hate pushing the cart.

Also, pushing the cart in my warm winter coat means I'm also possibly the grumpy lady who almost ran over you in aisle 3 while you perused the throw pillow selection. An even better habit is not using a cart at all so I can’t buy more than what fits in my hands or arms.

I figure if I can keep shopping around my grocery store’s edges and I can stop myself from window shopping, lolly-gagging or looking at any advertisements, emails or coupons for another five or six weeks, I shouldn’t gain too much weight around my middle or lose too much weight around my pocketbook.

Do you have any tips for this time of year? 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

What's wrong with this picture?

I had been looking forward to this thing that was being advertised called Small Business Saturday. Yourself?

On Friday, I bought tickets at the local Playhouse and then on Saturday I spent money in six different local businesses. I would have done it anyway, but this advertising campaign got me thinking of getting the job done and doing it all on (mostly) one day.

Small Business Saturday has a Facebook page and so I went to look at the comments of thousands of people who participated in this campaign.

Some businesses decried it saying they didn't have any extra business or that business was really slow. One of those businesses was a repair shop, which I'm not thinking would necessarily have extra business on a Saturday in November unless everyone's lawn mower/snow blower/automobile happened to break down on Small Business Saturday.

Remember in Andy Griffith, Bewitched and shows of that age when there were repair shops for radios and televisions? How quaint that seems now. I have a little wind up alarm clock from high school that I just love and for two decades now I can't find one person willing to fix it. They all say it will cost more to fix than repair.

They're not getting my point about loving the alarm clock. But obviously I've gotten off track.

Apparently SBS, as Imma call it now because Small Business Saturday is too long to keep typing, was designated by the U.S. Senate for November 26. That's just this year, so I don't know what the Senate is doing getting involved, but last year AMEX offered a $25 credit to a limited number of participants who spent at least $25 at a qualified small business. That's nice of them. That's putting their money where their mouth is.

There are, as in most nice stories, a few villains. Who you think the villains are may depend on your political or social leanings.

The media references I've seen have said that AMEX was offered the $25 credit to their cardholders. According to the ungrateful grousing on Facebook, it was to a limited number of registered participants. I think that's fair. AMEX isn't a charity. They want something for their money. They already know who you are, but now they've gotten some extra information about you or whatever they wanted. But they wanted you to register. They're not stupid, either. If they limited the number of participants, that was wise on their part. Shut up and follow the rules is what I'm saying. But then you've probably figured out my political leanings, so this attitude shouldn't surprise you.

Then there are the folks who got the wrong end of the stick, in my humble but accurate opinion. There were people on Facebook who said they went to ONE STORE and spent $25.50 just to claim their $25 credit from AMEX. I'm just disappointed in the Americans who did it only for their own gain.

Now if you really couldn't afford to spend more than $25.50, I think it's nice that you went out and spent the limit and you got something for free. I totally get that and good on you for shopping local to do it. But naturally not the majority in this case and forgive my old-school perspective, but if you have an AMEX card, why can't you shop at more than one store or drop more than 25 bucks during the biggest shopping season of the year?

There were a few folks who complained because the lousy small business they decided to shop at didn't take AMEX. Um...this may be another reason why AMEX is getting behind this project.

Anyone remember when you couldn't use a DISCOVER card anywhere but Sears? Anyone?

Do your homework. Call first. Or how about you go to another store? Sheeple! I declare some people need others to do their thinking.

Then there was the rant from someone who thought the whole thing was about corporate greed.

At any rate, we've all survived the big kickoff to consumerism. Did you shop? Do you have any Black Friday or SBS stories? Is your shopping done?

Friday, November 11, 2011

The four corners of the world on Veteran's Day 2011

Anyone who thinks Iowa isn't culturally diverse should have been at Aaron's middle school assembly this morning with me. I wonder how many different countries unite in the student population there. I saw Burundi, Burma, Liberia, Sudan, Bosnia...I'm sure I couldn't guess as to the others.

The school had a really nice Veteran's Day assembly that began with the presentation of the colors by a group of Boy Scouts. Veterans were asked to stand and be recognized. The National Anthem was sung and they did a bang-up job doing it. The 7th and 8th grade chorus sang the songs of each branch of service: Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Coast Guard and Air Force in that order.

There were several student recitations, which mostly I looked on as an excellent opportunity for public speaking, which is a chore so many hate. But for those of us who learn to do it, and even love it, it creates confidence and can open doors of opportunity later in life. (I'm convinced of this, although no one has ever beaten down my door begging me to go on a speaking circuit, so maybe I'm wrong) As I'm listening to the recitations about the flag, the bald eagle and the Statue of Liberty, I'm admiring these kids.

Particularly keeping in mind they're standing in front of middle school peers. What a nightmare. 

When it came time for the last recitation, this Army brat perked up. A young man named Dalton had written about his father, who is currently deployed...again...in the Middle East.

I've often thought there should be a little something for the military dependents of the world. If your parent was career military, you know a thing or two about military life and sacrifice. For instance, when they ask veterans to stand while their service's song is played, I think maybe we should be allowed to stand up as well.

No, the children didn't put their lives on the line, but they let mom or dad (mostly dads when you're my age) go away and these days even young children seem to know the parent may not return. I also think widows (or widowers) should be recognized.

No man is an island and all that, you know? It takes a family to send a soldier to war.

Dalton, a military kid in a completely civilian world, stood on the stage this morning and spoke proudly of his father's many deployments, his achievements and goals and his safety. He said, "My dad is in a secure location, so I don't worry so much about his safety." It's also the first time his dad has been away from home for Christmas.

At first, I thought, "Oh, please let his dad be here to surprise him." But then he said this time his dad has only been gone for a month so far.

I have so much respect for the children of the military these days. My dad was career Army, but we were civilians for a period of my childhood. My dad was never deployed into combat. So many kids today are surrounded by civilians while I was fortunate to be surrounded by military kids and families. I knew in the back of my mind that something could happen to my father or the other dads I knew. The Cold War was always a little threatening, but I didn't have to face an actual war.

Find some veterans today and thank them for their service, then remember to thank their family. After that, go find someone who let their mom or dad fight for their country and give the kid a big thank you!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Christmas Happy Campaign

Family economics being what they are today in the world, I want to campaign on behalf of a charming, slightly old-fashioned thing that you can do to bring smiles and happiness to the faces and hearts of friends and family far and wide. 

Send Christmas cards! 

If you aren't into Christmas, send New Years' greetings. 

Even now when the mail is full of bills and advertisements, who doesn't still hope to see a letter or a card in the mail? The way the world works, it's pretty rare for most of us to see anything personal and maybe you've given up looking. 

But you know you used to. And I bet you loved the cards and letters. Email isn't the same thing. Sure, it's "free" but you can't hold it, open it, slide the card out, smile and laugh, display the card and read the note over and over again. No, all you can do is click, click, click.

You will smile and then you'll move on and it will be forgotten. 

Be remembered this year for something special. 

I know on the whole sending Christmas cards looks expensive, but considering the cost per smile, it's really a delightful tradition that costs less than a pack of gum. 

The cards don't have to be expensive. Good luck finding cards at a mass retailer that actually say Merry Christmas (don't shop at Target! I had a big fit last year trying to find fun cards that didn't say happy holidays. I finally settled on a card that said Merry christmas (sic) and I threw them away. I was so mad.), but if you get the most inexpensive cards you can find or make, you can send a moment of shiny, glittering happiness to a friend or loved one for less than a dollar. 

If you already send Christmas cards, send a few more. 

When you consider what the U.S. Postal Service can do for less than 50 cents, I say it's a bargain we've all forgotten about. So put on some Christmas music, pull out the stamps and pen, brew a cup of tea or chocolate and treat yourself to spreading holiday cheer. 

That's my campaign for the year: Spreading happiness one envelope at a time. 

Do you like getting personal mail in the mailbox? Do you display Christmas cards during the season? What do you think? 

Monday, October 31, 2011

Beggars' Night is Jokers' Night in Des Moines, Iowa

What a great evening for Beggars' Night last night! The weather was perfect and the jokes were rotten!

This is why I love Halloween in Des Moines.

Look at the contact between the homeowner and the kids on the porch. Ernest is telling his joke as my niece watches on. I remember a few years ago, I had to coach her to tell her joke. This year, she wouldn't take candy until she told her joke. She'd say, "I have a joke!" and then let it rip. She even changed it up a couple times. Both kids had several jokes they rotated.


When I was a kid, I felt sort of dumb ringing the doorbell and just standing there waiting for candy to drop into my bag. I'm not saying I didn't like Halloween, but after the year I had to wear a coat over my nurse's uniform, I think it went downhill. The only two costumes I remember are that nurse's uniform and a witch costume my mother made. They were both wonderful costumes. I don't seem to recall any others. Maybe my mom can help.

But this post isn't about that.  

I'll just kick this into gear and let the Des Moines Register tell you the story since I'm feeling a little lazy this morning:

"A mushroom walks into a bar. "You'll have to leave," the bartender says. "We don't allow mushrooms in here." "Why not?" asked the mushroom. "I'm a fungi."

The credit for providing Des Moines children with the perfect outlet for their most groan-inducing jokes largely goes to one woman, Kathryn Krieg, director of recreation for the Des Moines Playground Commission (later the Parks and Recreation Department) for 43 years.

When Krieg assumed her post in 1931, kids on Beggars' Night were more likely to clamor "Soaps or Eats" than "Trick or Treat." Every year the newspaper ran a long list on Nov. 1 of youths arrested the previous evening for crimes ranging from soaping windows and sidelining streetcars to setting fires and throwing bricks through windows.

The flash point came on Halloween in 1938 when Des Moines police answered a record 550 calls concerning vandalism. Krieg, along with the Community Chest' group work council, began a campaign to encourage less violent forms of Halloween fun.

They set aside Oct. 30 as Beggars' Night and got the word out to the public that on that night - and only that night - children would be allowed to go from door to door and say the phrase "tricks for eats." The council urged that "eats should be given only if such a 'trick' as a song, a poem, a stunt or a musical number, either solo or in group participation, is presented."

The next year, the group work council again promoted the Beggars' Night concept, this time as a way to aid the war effort. An article published in The Des Moines Register on Oct. 29, 1942, carried the headline "Kids! -Don't Help the Axis on Halloween" and included this poem encouraging proper behavior:

"Soap and ticktacks are taboo,
Ringing doorbells? Not for you.
Thoughts of pranks, you must detour,
Lest you bet a saboteur."

The Beggars' Night program was so successful that by the mid-1940's, the number of Halloween police calls in Des Moines had been cut by more than half.

After the war, Krieg continued to issue annual bulletins in the Register laying still more Beggars' Night ground rules, including that children should stay in their own neighborhoods and that parents should turn on their porch lights for trick-or-treaters and accompany small children on their rounds.

Each year, she reiterated that children should not be given candy until they earned it "with a stunt, song, or riddle."

Now on Beggars' Night, a group of preteen girls will occasionally sing a song or a shy kindergartner opt for a cartwheel. For the most part, however, every trick-or-treater old enough to memorize one tells a joke.

Why did Dracula visit the blood bank?
He needed to make a withdrawal.

Krieg retired in 1974, a few years after the Register stopped running her yearly admonition to make children work for their candy. By then, the biggest Beggars' Night concern wasn't the danger trick-or-treaters might represent to the public but the danger some members of the public might represent to trick-or-treaters. Krieg died in March of 1999 at age 94."

Does your community have Beggars' Night or is the candy night always Halloween? Do you have fond memories? 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Two quotes and a girl

I heard two quotes today and I fell in love with both right away. Other than my search for a marathon motto, I'm not one to go in deep for quotes. I might like them, but I typically forget them or I forget who is being quoted. That's strange considering how much I like to remember grammar rules.

But I'm gonna put that down along with a man's ability to forget a child's birthday yet remember what a '57 Studebaker looks like compared to a '56. Or how a man can remember which team won the World Series 10 years before he was born, but forget his wife's favorite color. 

The first quote I heard today was something a columnist from the New York Times said, "I'm so productive, I don't get anything done." He was talking about social media and how, at 55 years old, it can be difficult to get his head to manage all the different things plugged into his brain. I totally get that feeling. I do a lot of stuff, I have four blogs and two Twitter accounts. I also have a Facebook account for me, one for my Irish study group and I'm the administrator for my church's Facebook page. 

I manage my workouts on Dailymile (friend me!) I have several email accounts and I pay my bills and manage my checkbook online. It's easy for someone like me to become distracted by all of that. Forget about the blogs I read, the news sources, the Irish online classes and television I want to watch, the television shows I intend to watch, but never get to...

I can't believe how young they are in this photo

I won't even begin to mention the people, pets and housecleaning, cooking and reading/running/relaxing and the visiting with friends/lunch/keeping up with people I care about including making new friends through the running club, holidays, expectations... Everyone is busy, but when I heard this quote, I thought about all the people who tell me I either do "too much" or I'm "so busy" and I know they're right. I enjoy being busy, but I get stubborn and refuse to slow down.

I need to rest more so I can get more done. 

The second quote was on a running magazine's Facebook status. It said, "I do today what others won't so I can do tomorrow what others can't. ~unknown" A part of me thinks some people may think this rude or smug. I don't want it to be that way. But at my age, I know plenty of people who can't and I know sometimes we get a crappy deal in life through genetics or stinking luck of the draw. I know I may get the Joker card some day and in the meantime I want to do things I enjoy and that includes moving and being outside or swimming and meditating or enjoying my own company in the pool. 

I talk to myself a lot, so naturally I'm not lonely at all!

Do you have quotes you love? Is there anything you use to inspire you? What do you do that's just for yourself? 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Why did the chicken cross the road?

I'm at this point at which I still feel a strong pull to run every single day. I've spent the last four months with the nagging voice in my head telling me that I should be outside on my feet. It doesn't go away overnight. The feeling was strong this evening, but I stuck to my plan to come home and begin a little November project.

There's a television show I've been watching on JLTV called Feed Me Bubbe and I've decided to make some of her recipes. I read a really good blog that today asked if readers wanted to teach themselves something in the month of November.

So I got started early. Anyone here surprised by that?

I made Bubbe's Kasha Varnishkes because that's something I wanted to make right when I saw her make it. I can watch food shows on television and not be bothered one bit with the idea that I should make the recipe I see. But this was interesting because it called for Kasha, which is buckwheat groats. A new grain to try out - that was intriguing.

Not sure where to buy this little delicacy, I asked a friend of mine at work where I could buy Kasha. He said it was hard to find here, so they buy it down in Kansas City. He said next time they go, he would bring me a box. But do you know what happened the next day? He brought me a box.

That was more than two months ago, so with the new challenge and a short trip to the store for bowtie pasta, I whipped up Kasha Varnishkes and a roasted chicken.

The chicken is a whole 'nother story. If you know me, you know I have a thing against chicken. Corporate chicken is what I call it. Tortured animals with nasty carcasses...I'll stop. I don't go into it all because that's sort of rude and because if you really want to know, you can look it up yourself. So chicken is not a dish I will eat unless I know where the chicken came from or if I am a guest at someone's home, right? Another guy at work offered chickens for sale this year from his brother's farm. I decided to follow a second recipe from Bubbe called, if you can believe it, roast chicken.

I saw this show, too. She used a sharp knife to take off some pinfeathers. OK, gross. I do like for my food to come from a farm nearby if I can help it, but I am a typical 21st century North American girl and I do NOT want to get to know my food on such a personal level. I still want it to look like the grocery store invented it.

I was about to pour boiling water over the chicken (don't ask me, I was just following the recipe) when I sort of screamed and jumped away from the sink. The neck was still attached. I'll be darned if I didn't think some pretty awful thoughts of my co-worker and his brother just then. I got my kitchen shears and sort of hacked away at the darn thing all the while making girlie EWWW noises. Disgusting! Making it worse was the stuff hanging out of the neck - I swear to you the bird's head was ripped off rather than chopped.

Edited to add: I was using the dull kitchen shears to disconnect the neck from the blasted animal. I have a pair of sharp ones that are set aside for emergencies such as this, but did I use them? No. Instead I just sawed and hacked my way through. Stubborn much?

I could just spit. Stupid freaking chicken. I hate chicken. I'd like to say I'm over it. Sort of. Now I think I will just cross off everything on my bucket list. I've seen it all.

She's super tiny, isn't she? 

The chicken recipe called for allspice under the skin, which smelled good while it was cooking, but I didn't get any taste from it. This stupid chicken was the smallest thing I've ever seen. EVER. I think with the legs out like that, it looks like it's trying to escape from the slaughter.

Below is the dish with the groats and bowtie pasta. I have never made it before or eaten it before. Also, her recipe was a little more confusing than I thought it was going to be. I saw her make it and I had it printed out in front of me, but I think I was trying to make it take less time, so I didn't follow step by step. It's the sort of dish that calls for the cook doing 2-3 things at once. But the recipe was written to have you do one thing at a time, which would have taken longer. Also, I didn't saute the onion and I used canned mushrooms instead of fresh because I wasn't sure I wanted to spend the money on fresh for something I've never done before.

This recipe needs a covered, oven-safe pan

This dish was really dry. It was so dry that I added some of the drippings from the chicken (more than I care to admit, but can you say "tasty" for me?). I have no idea if this dish is meant to be dry, but other than the oil for the onion & mushroom saute, I didn't change anything. In the end, it needed more chicken drippings than the amount of oil called for. I would make this again because I think it's yummy, but I wouldn't serve it to guests.

Next up I will make her kugel. I bought the noodles tonight, but I have until the end of November...

Lastly, for those of you who remember that my cell phone takes truly bad photos, this is my cell phone at work. My camera is under the weather (when I can find it), so I just used my phone. This is the result. Looks tasty, eh? I guess I won't win any foodie awards!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Here's the IMT DES MOINES MARATHON recap! http://ow.ly/72O0R

Or just read it below:

Last weekend, I ran the IMT Des Moines Marathon and I wanted to wait before I did a recap of the event. In the meantime, I read someone else’s recap of the event that evening and it occurred to me that he wrote it much as I once would have: stride, pace, pain, mileage, etc.

But this race!!!

This race was meant to be different. There was a lot of hand-wringing on my part as you all know [sheepish]. My goals were different than I had set for any other race.

I didn’t feel well the week before the race, but I suspect that sort of helped to make me happy with my
decision to have fun and not run the half marathon for my finish time. I’m not feeling inspired right now to be entertaining or witty (as clearly I usually am), so I’ll just run down some bullet points:
  • It was the best race I've ever run!
  • I had fun. My overall pace was 11:56, but I don’t know how fast I ran because my running partner, Tami, and I ran four minutes and walked one minute. Also, I was wearing someone else's Garmin and it was set to different measurements than I use on mine. This was probably a blessing in disguise because I couldn't continually check my pace. 
  • Got there early without a rush.
  • Ran back to my car to get my cell phone. Warm-up! 
  • Met up with friends from my running club.
  • Saw the Grim Reaper at the start, hugged him later near the finish line.
  • Mugged for the photographers a couple times rather than having all my photos look as though I'm trying to wreck myself.
  • Forgot my gloves at the start line, so I picked up a dark blue pair from the street right in front of the State Capitol and wore them almost the whole time.  [I have no shame] They’re Roosevelt Rough Riders blue, so I’ll wear them to the football game this Friday!
  • My Garmin watch wouldn't latch onto a satellite, so I wore my friend Cindy’s watch. She’s just the most amazing person to have around on race day. We hoped to match strides with the winners of the full marathon as they lapped us, but we’re pretty sure they took three or four steps to half of one of ours. It was a sort of blur.
  • Eight records were set on the day including a 5K in 15:05, which is a 3.1 miles in 15 minutes and 5 seconds. Amazing! That's 4 minutes and 51 seconds per mile. Can you imagine? 
  • Crossed the finish line after seeing Cindy and my friend Ann, who rode around the course route on her bicycle. I got hugs and a banana. Both very helpful for energy.
  • Enjoyed a band called The Snacks at the finish line. Wow! They were slightly insane and completely enjoyable.
  • ATE FOOD! I managed to eat BBQ and other snacks including beer. It never bothered my stomach because I didn't run myself to death in this race.
  • Laughed. I laughed quite a bit. Remarkable: I'd like to replicate that for every race. 
  • Stayed almost until the last participant crossed the finish line. I’d like to say I stayed for the entire thing, but I conked out. It was after 3pm and although the course was supposed to close after seven hours, they stood around and waited - and THAT is why the IMT Des Moines Marathon is such an amazing event in my humble but accurate opinion.
  • After the race, I didn't cry, I didn’t feel like crying and I had fun. Also, sore? I was not.
  • I don't have photos yet, but I will post a couple when I get them. 
This year’s race was easily the best race I've had even though my finish time was the least impressive of any run I've ever participated in. I may have to rethink the ‘run faster’ approach. While I didn't give it my all, I'm happy. I think giving it my all may be limited to 5k races in the future. I'll keep you posted. [smirk]

Now to begin winter running. Fun? no. Challenging? yes.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Another marathon motto 2011

Every year I've come up with a motto for my marathon events. But last month, when I did the Air Force Marathon, I didn't have a motto.

Bad move!

Apparently, I'm motivated by mysterious forces that include superstitions, logistical planning that would impress the U.S. Army and a strong, motivating motto.

OK, I'm not all that superstitious. I think. Don't put shoes on the bed. That's probably the one thing that sends shivers up my spine. I believe shoes on the bed brings death in the family. So just don't. My grandmother wouldn't approve.

Of course, she may have used that one because shoes are dirty and she was a very good housekeeper.

So I talked about my experience with the Air Force Marathon and how although my time wasn't bad at all, I sort of felt a bit like a failure, which is putting it too strongly. Let's say I was disappointed. I didn't know why I felt so disappointed.

Now I'm pinning it all on the lack of a motto. The motto is what I compare the run against. For the marathon last month, I didn't even have a time goal! I just figured I'd do as well or better than last year's 2:12:44 half in Des Moines. But that didn't happen and without a back up, what was I to do?

I stood at the finish line crying and feeling disoriented and I certainly know for absolutely certain certainteed for sure that I don't want that happening again, so I have decided that my motto for this weekend is:

Enjoy it all. 

This means slow down the pace, look at the volunteers (more on this below), drink water slowly, chat with running partner, laugh, listen to the music, read the signs, look at the autumn colors and drink in how really lovely the city of Des Moines is.

My hope for this event is to feel REALLY DARN GOOD at the finish line. Not just not crying, but wanting to stay and see other runners come in, encourage my friends who are in the event and running the full 26.2 miles and even staying and feeling good when my niece comes downtown to run the kid's race that afternoon. If I do cry, maybe it's just because running 13.1 miles isn't that easy. If that's the case, I guess I can handle that.

I'll let you know because I know you're all just dying to hear about the train wreck at the end. HA!


Last month after the Air Force marathon, I volunteered at a 10-mile race here in town. I was a course marshal, which sounds fancy, but it just means I had an orange safety vest and a flag to keep runners from going up the wrong street. As to that, what in the world was I thinking in elementary school when I wanted to be a crosswalk monitor?

So there I stood in the crosswalk looking at runners who were just in mile 2, so they were still happy and fresh. And they didn't look at me! I always wondered why someone would just stand there and not cheer the runners on or say something as we pass, but now I know. It's hard to stand there feeling a little dorky saying things to people you don't know. I like to say thanks to the volunteers anyway, but now I want to pay more attention to the folks who are out there.

OK, I'm out of here for now. I've stated the motto to the universe. I'll go to the expo tomorrow and have a blast.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Here's my latest post on the marathon, which is this weekend:


Monday, September 26, 2011

My plan for a better half marathon

Here's the link to the other blog. I'll be back when my running project has ended next month! http://caronr4rproject.blogspot.com/2011/09/how-im-planning-out-plan-to-plan-less.html

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Friday, September 2, 2011

The day I became a runner

Here's my latest blog post for my summer training. Something really big happened last Saturday. Read about it here.

Or, if that doesn't work, copy and paste this URL into your browser.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Where do the good ideas go?

I had a brainstorm for a post during this morning's run. Problem is, much like doing math while running, remembering good ideas after running is hard to do.

In the meantime, I've blogged about running again and you can read the excitement here: http://caronr4rproject.blogspot.com/2011/07/is-training-for-full-marathon.html

Sunday, July 10, 2011


I haven't blogged in awhile even though I've been running, so let's talk about milestones! because I've hit a few while you weren't looking.

The first milestone is that I passed 100 miles, did you notice? I have missed a few runs with all the traveling and running around I've been doing, but I think only about 10 in total.

The second milestone is that I have started to speed up. Also awesome in its awesomeness.

The third milestone is that this year I have begun eating properly for someone who's in training. It never happened last year and I dragged an extra nine pounds around because of it. That's like running with 36 sticks of butter as Weight Watchers would tell me. Except that butter would melt. I don't recommend running with butter.

Oh, I hope I did the math right. Math is hard.

The fourth milestone is AWESOME because I've passed the halfway mark in my fundraising for the AIDS orphans in Tunisia. With the money raised, we'll send the kids to school so they can get an education and rise above their circumstances! Thank you to everyone who has contributed and remember that a $5 donation is received with the gratitude of a $50 donation! If you'd like to simply give me a little cash, I will make the donation for you electronically. If you care to give me a check, I'll do the same thing.

Whatever works best for you, works for me. You guys are fabulous!

I would like to be inspiring or funny or painfully honest about what it's like to run 8 or 9 miles, but there's one more milestone we need to discuss:

The fifth milestone is fatigue.

Fatigue has decided to be my BFF and I know from experience that getting rid of her is hard to do. She's one of those people I can't get away from. I tell her to buzz off, but she plops down in the chair when I'm untying my running shoes and she starts to jabber a mile a minute about all the housework I didn't do, how I forgot to call my mom and that I forgot to do something important before I left work.

Let's call my new BFF Fanny. Fanny doesn't like to run, so at first I could go out for a run and she would stay at home with her face pressed against the window waiting for me to return so she could have someone to pester irritate talk to.

Somehow along the way, Fanny figured out how to climb on me and hang on. Let's face it, for those of you who know me, she's probably got her fingers tangled into my 24 pounds of frizzy hair, arms wrapped around my ponytail holder.

At any rate, she comes along on almost every run right now. As the weeks of training progress, she got wise and now I can't fool her into thinking I'm not going for a run, so she's there every time, shrieking with delight and flapping around so I can't forget as I run: I feel tired.

She's coming to work with me most days, too. Pretty soon I know she'll jump into my bag every. single. morning. and I won't be able to get to the office without yawning.

I hate her. Every night I go to sleep and I think she will get bored and slip off into someone else's house, but every morning she's at the breakfast table waiting for me with a big grin, ready to start the day.

I have a message for Fanny: House guests and fish both stink after three days.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Hueston Woods State Park hawks at the Nature Center

Here is the screech owl being talked about and shown off. Later on that afternoon, we took a hike with this naturalist. We learned a lot about the trees of Southern Ohio.
Here is a hawk. I can't believe it was only a few days ago and I don't remember his story:

Same hawk looking stately and handsome.

The hawk below is a Rough-Legged Hawk. Normally, he only visits Ohio in the winter and then goes up to Northern Canada the rest of the year. A man saw this hawk hit by a car in Miamisburg and stopped. He put the hawk in the car and drove the hour to the park. They took the hawk in and cared for him, but he is injured too much to be released successfully. The veterinarians say he will be fine in the hotter Ohio summers, but they're still working on getting him used to being around them, let alone all the human visitors.

I got this photo of his feathers, too.

There is another Turkey Vulture that lives within the compound. He chooses to be there and has been for years. He isn't made to stay, but he does. I wonder what makes a bird decide to stick around like that. There's a colony of Turkey Vultures by the lodge and it was relaxing to see them ride the thermals all afternoon and evening.

Owls at the nature center at Hueston Woods

This cute little screech owl, Elvira, is nibbling on the naturalist's finger. She was hit by a car and lost her eye. Since she can't hunt, she lives at the nature center.
Here's another photo where you can see her eye a little:

Here's an owl (with both eyes) getting some affection. You can see in this photo that he had a serious injury to his wing. Notice that it has been amputated:

This owl just looks angry, but I think most owls do. What do you think? All the animals here have been injured. Most of the birds have had wings amputated or have shoulder injuries that prevent them from flying. I believe this is the owl that was found after being shot with a shotgun.

Here's the bobcat again:

I'm a little surprised, but I didn't get photos of the eagles. They have a bald eagle and a golden eagle. They're both pretty old. The bald eagle has had lead poisoning, so his brain isn't quite right. I think the golden eagle had a wing injury, but I'm not sure.

We left a donation for the care of these critters. The cougar alone takes about $3,000 a year.

Ralph the Turkey Vulture in Ohio

All these shots are from the Nature Center at Hueston Woods State Park. This little bird ate some of the cougar's food. He was flying inside the bobcat's cage and the naturalist said he has seen the bobcat take out a bird that flew around too much!
Here's Cougie taking a bow:
Here's a close up of the hot dog leftovers. You're welcome:
We learned a lot about Turkey Vultures. They're really quite smart and also a good example of how we're built for our purposes. His head, for example, has no feathers. But that makes it easier for him to keep clean since he eats dead things. His nose also has a huge, open nostril so he can better smell his lunch:
They vomit when they feel trapped, so they're often named Ralph or Chuck. I had my camera zoomed in as much as it would allow, so these photos are grainy. The shot below doesn't show his feathers off as nicely as I hoped, but he is really a pretty bird.
His name is Ralph and here is his story. Ralph is 41 years old. He was hatched at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio as part of a psychology experiment. Who needs to understand the psychology of a turkey vulture is my question. But after the experiment ended and because he was imprinted, he didn't know how to hunt for himself, so he was given to the Nature Center back in the 70s.

Early one summer he spent an entire day standing in a dish of water. They all thought he was just hot and didn't think much of it. But the next day, he was gone. The leathers on his legs had softened to the point where he could get out of them. He flew over to the campground and spent the summer there eluding the naturalists and stealing hot dogs and other food from the campers. He spent that summer out and about, but when it began to get cold again, he came back home and he's been there ever since.

A cougar and a bobcat walk into a restaurant...

This past week I spent a few days at Hueston Woods State Park with my niece and was I ever impressed! We stayed at the Lodge with its spacious rooms that had excellent mattresses and bedding, microwave, refrigerator, DVD player and VCR. Plenty of storage space, which is usually wanting in hotel rooms and a large balcony with a view of the lake. It was nice.

We went over to the Nature Center on the grounds and met some very interesting animals.

First post: the cougar and bobcat. The cougar's name is Cougie and if you're like me, you may initially wonder why in the world a state park in Southern Ohio keeps a cougar. This place is a sanctuary and Cougie, who is 17 years old, was bred on a farm in Colorado where some loser breeds exotic animals for pets. Cougie is declawed and was confiscated from an owner in Ohio. Cougie eats "things left over from when hot dogs are made." OK: gross.

The bobcat, shoot, I can't recall his name, was also bred as a pet. He is 21 years old and also declawed. He had killed the family dog and was locked in a bedroom in an apartment where he lived with a family of human idiots and fools.

You'll get no apologies from me for a strong opinion on this.

He was taken into custody and turned over to the state park where he also eats hot dog leftovers! The bobcat is shy and the first time we saw him, we didn't. We saw what looked to be an empty cage. When he was fed, the naturalist put the food into the enclosure and then told us that he wouldn't eat until we left. Others moved on, but we hid behind the fence and I put the camera up to record him eating. You can tell while he eats that he is watching all over to see that no one sneaks up on him.

Cougie is on YouTube because the video is so long. You don't need to watch the whole thing to get the idea, but the naturalist is speaking and so I kept recording. See the video here.

Here is the bobcat:

Friday, June 17, 2011

Learn more about AIDS orphans

Take a look at this newsletter to learn a little bit about the organization I'm working with to raise money for AIDS orphans. Read it here.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Where have I been?

I've been blogging somewhere else, but it isn't a permanent move. I'll be back.

See the posts so far and what I'm up to these days.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Nature Notes: impromptu bird bath

Visit Michelle at the home of Nature Notes.

I planted this rose bush only last year. It came it a gallon jug, so you can imagine how small it was. It went insane, didn't it? Also, I've put out water for the robins that hang out in the front yard. This photo is from my cell phone and as is typical for that, it isn't a good photo. But mostly it doesn't do the roses justice. Everything bloomed at once and it isn't quite as awkward looking in real life as it looks in the photo!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Nature Notes: Why you should check it out

Visit Michelle at the home of Nature Notes.

I've been doing Nature Notes for quite awhile now as a testimony to the friendship I feel for the creator, Michelle.

Years ago, the people in my real life learned of Michelle when I started to refer to her regarding anything to do with birds and wildlife. Rescuing an animal? I run to her blog. Can't identify a bird? I run to her blog. Have a question about ... anything? I run to her blog.

She's my expert.

But there's more to it than that. I believe people like Michelle have a love within them that not everyone can claim. Not every teacher has this love, but this sort of love makes them teachers. She's the kind of teacher who will change your life in some way if you pay attention. For those of you who know me in real life, she's like Lois M. Jones: You can imagine how fond I am of Michelle.

When I say you should check out her blog on my Nature Notes posts, I'm doing you a big favor. Do yourself a favor and poke around. On her blog, look at the links at the top and along the right side for more information about something that interests you. Read her posts and get to know her. You won't be sorry.

Michelle and Rose are two people I consider friends and they both became my first contributors to support my summer-long project of raising money for AIDS orphans in Tanzania. I didn't ask them to do that, so I'm thinking they must count me as a friend in return.

For that, the internet is worth everything.

Now for Nature Notes Thursday, which I've found get away from me before I blink.

When we bought this house, there were roses on the south side. I really figured they'd die over that first winter because I think of roses as being fussy and not worth the trouble and way too much work. Then after years of neglecting them and realizing they had enough pluck to live without me, I tried something.

I brewed some coffee and I 'watered' the roses with the coffee. I rinsed, dried and ground up egg shells and mixed them into the soil. The results are below:

I have looked at ALL my photos and I don't have a "before" photo, so that should probably tell you something about how the plant looked in years past. I have photos of every. single. thing. that grows in my backyard, but not this plant.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A big thank you!

Rose from the Pics & Pieces blog started off my fundraising efforts with my first donation! She is a good blogging friend to me, obviously. I'd like to do all of you a favor and suggest that head over to her blog and look at phenomenal photos and read a story. Pour a cup of coffee or tea and spend 5-10 minutes.

Maybe you'll hang out for awhile.

Rose's photos and memories are worthy of their own book and that's no exaggeration. If you grew up on a farm, in the country or visited a farm or visited the country, you'll relate to what she's writing.

While not every post has a memory, she writes in such a way that after I read her stories, I can imagine her leaning out the back screen door hollering my name to tell me it's supper time. And I grew up in the suburbs or in Army towns! Her stories make me think of mere moments from my childhood. The kind of moments that are partly images, mostly emotion.

Like the one Sunday afternoon I went home with a girl from church and we went to her grandmother's house. I had never seen a farm like that, played so hard or had such a Sunday dinner. I remember the way that day made me feel 30+ years ago. Rose reminds me of people I have known like friends of the family who had a funny story to tell or who dropped in for a visit over coffee at the kitchen table.

There's warmth and generosity about her that shines through her writing. I stumbled onto her blog one day when I hit the "next blog" link on someone else's blog. I've been reading her for years now.

Do yourself a favor. Read this post I've selected. I chose it because it is a combination of a little bit of the past, her incredible photos and a situation she had just encountered: buying clothespins. I totally heart this post for you. I think you'll enjoy it.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

"There is no time to think about how much I hurt; there is only time to run." Ben Logsdon

I'm currently in physical therapy not so much because I injured myself (I know that's what you were thinking) but because my knee hurt. The lovely physical therapist who is now my BFF said she'd rather see me now than in five years when I am in pain and can't run anymore. She also said she would rather see a hundred of me than one who put off getting help until it was too late.

And then she said, "I've just met you and talked to you for five minutes and I can tell already you don't like change."

Say what?

I laughed. She taped my knee, which produces a funny feeling not only in your knee, but also pulling on your skin and sort of turning your stomach queasy. The tape is so tight at first that I can't bend my leg and she wanted me to step up onto a high step with the taped knee...the knee that didn't bend due to the tape.

Following along? I grimaced and that made her say I don't like change. So funny that people can tell us about ourselves. She's right, of course. I don't like change until I get underway. Then it's OK until things change again.

Can I get an amen?

A few days later and the tape is more comfortable. It gets so comfortable you think it isn't holding your kneecap in place anymore. This tape they use is industrial strength. You should need a prescription to buy this tape. If this were WWII, this tape would be rationed for the boys overseas is what I'm saying. A weapon of some sort of destruction on a conveniently sized roll.

I've had my knee taped before, but she wisely reminded me not to pull it off like a Band-Aid because it will fair take a hunk of skin with it. So I did that in the tub with hot water and a lot of soap and some gentle coaxing.

And that's when I learned the same lesson a second time. I've blogged about my obsession with repeating my mistakes, yes? So you know all about that little issue of mine.

The tape was still working after all. But I was told to take it off on Saturday, so I did. I ran six miles first, but then I took it off and now I wish it was back on.

See how I didn't like the tape (change) and then I got used to it right away (underway) and then when it came off, I started all over again (further change).

I go back in the morning. I bet she won't put the tape back on. That's not change, that's called not getting my own way, which is often the best thing since I'm not the one with the education in physical therapy.

(Edited this morning: It was taped again. More waxing rhapsodic over my PT in next post)

What I'll be doing this summer

As if I needed a reason to be tired all the time, I've decided to make training worthwhile this year. Many of you probably already know that Africa has a real problem with HIV/AIDS. Tanzania alone has about a million orphans who have lost one or both parents and some who have also been infected with the disease.

Read what I'll be up to this summer at a different blog: http://caronr4rproject.blogspot.com/.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Visit Michelle at the home of Nature Notes.

I found this beauty on my way into the office yesterday morning. He (she?) was on the pavement just steps away from the front door and I was surprised he hadn't been stepped on. I didn't know if touching his beautiful wings would mess something up, so I put my bags on the ground (carefully avoiding the goose poop - we have a nesting pair) and took two envelopes out.

Using the two envelopes, I finally got him moved over to the mulch. He didn't enjoy my attentions and of course, I couldn't sit him down over a cuppa Joe to explain the dangers of people who are just walking out of a door and looking out rather than down. He struggled off the envelopes three times. I felt lucky to get him where I got him.

I prayed for him all morning! I did! I was hoping he just needed to rest and as soon as he gathered himself, he could leave. He was huge, did I mention that? Just gorgeous, too. His body is fuzzy and the browns are lovely shades.

When I went to a late lunch, he was gone. I'm envisioning happy days of flying around making baby moths or whatever extremely handsome moths do in the month of May.

Monday, May 9, 2011

And then there was one

Little "Lily"
July 30, 1997-May 7, 2011

Lily left Eeyore behind.

I don't want to talk about it.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Nature Notes: Gorse fires in Northern Ireland

Visit Michelle at the home of Nature Notes.

I awoke this morning to a cup of coffee and CBS news talking endlessly about OBL's death and all the details they think they can muster. They've talked to Navy SEALs, who if they really are talking, should hush themselves. They speak about the damage left behind and the "real" information that wasn't in initial reports as if we've been betrayed. In Journalism school, I swore I would never go into broadcast journalism because I couldn't debase myself enough to cough up the crap I've seen on television since I was a kid.

I believe there is a quality to print journalism that is valuable although naturally I don't always like or believe what I read. But look at the condition of print journalism in this country compared to the television news rating circus.

When I checked my Twitter feed this morning, I found an article from the BBC that both lifted my spirits and gave me my Nature Notes post. It's not long, it's about the fires in Northern Ireland, it's balanced in a way you don't find much these days in environmental journalism and it's beautifully written. The link is at the bottom.

I hope you read it.

Here is an excerpt:

There were collective sighs from firemen, land owners and police as the first rain for three weeks fell on Northern Ireland's smouldering heathlands, woodlands and mountains.

There was also a prolonged hiss.

It came from the last embers being extinguished as the rain drops did their work and saved the environment.

It was that bad. If the dry windy weather had continued the damage would have increased.

Instead of flashing across the dry grass, gorse and heather (often doing nature a favour) the fire had the chance to linger, damaging roots and seeds in the ground.

And the damage has been considerable.

The bodies of charred lizards lie in some areas, in others the charred eggs of ground nesting birds. Food resources have been destroyed, putting newly hatched chicks of many birds, including the endangered hen harrier, at risk of starving.

It is all a subtle balance - or was. Swathes of heather are gone. They will eventually be replaced by coarse grass. It is more competitive than the slow growing heather when it comes to filling the charred gaps.

In the thin soil and peat of the Mourne Mountains, for example, the grass provides no protection against erosion. Heavy rain pouring off steep heather-free hillsides will wash the soil, the loose rocks and the mountain side away.

In just two days human activity has done more damage than has occurred in centuries.

Read the entire article here.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A day on the job with ADD

I start my day with coffee from home. It's my favorite coffee. Turn on radio if I remember, respond to emails I checked when I woke up earlier.

Remember at the last minute that I have a candidate coming in. Why do I schedule interviews in the morning?

Think about putting on lipstick. Forget to do that. Look around my office to see if there's anything I need to sort, like a pile of receipts from my purse. Throw the receipts in the gallon-size Ziploc bag in my drawer. Put yesterday's water bottles in my recycling bag. Wonder why my drawer smells so bad? Try to remember to look in the drawer for rogue potpourri, broken perfume bottle or laundry soap. Overpowering. Fill two water bottles.

Answer the phone. Visit with co-worker. Greet candidate. Serve coffee. Ask candidate what they want in their next job, why they're leaving the current job and how much money they make. Make private notes in my head about things people shouldn't do or say in an interview.

Show the candidate out of the office because one wall is painted bright orange and one wall is painted bright purple and my office is the furthest from the front door, so no one can find their way through the cubicle farm between the rivers of color. Wash my hands. Look at my hair and wonder for the 53073,3425.0534,343th time if I should cut it a little shorter and also wonder why it's so frizzy.

Check Twitter, check LinkedIn. Eat oatmeal, maybe. Put our logo on a candidate's resume and say out loud, "Stop formatting your stupid resumes, people!" Listen to the Monkees. Sing along. Realize my office door is open. Look outside.

Bird! Squirrel! Should I Twitter something?

Walk around the office and look at people. Consider candy from the dish. Pick up candy. Put candy back.

Go back to my desk to continue reformatting a resume. In frustration, clear their formatting and start from scratch. Count their bullet points. Curse Bill Gates, Wordstar and Word Perfect. Bah. Check Google Reader for blog updates. Too many to read, put that off until later.

Call several candidates. Talk someone off the ledge. Get up for a tissue because the box is on the table due to a crying unemployed woman. She's sweet. I should call her and see how she's doing. Eat an orange.


Talk to co-worker about running, lack of running, upcoming runs and how poorly prepared and/or lazy we are. Call sweet candidate. She's fine. Check the weather. Talk to a friend. "What are you doing?" Skype, make a list, get up and look in the fridge. Charge my phone. Buckle down and call the candidate I don't want to talk to.

Look in the fridge. Think about whales. Wander. Look at Facebook.

Answer all the emails from the emails I sent out the afternoon prior. Everyone answers at once. Make notes, scan a document, random thought. Copy comments into database, call people back, comb my hair, schedule interviews. Weasel my way onto a employment panel at a networking event. Call people. Read resumes. Check my email. Pull my hair into a ponytail. Answer questions about interviewing for a candidate's second job interview through another vendor. Feel smug when he tells me I 'geek' interview tips.

Shake my head.

Shut my door, turn on the radio. Send out emails to update candidates and reach out to candidates who have recently found jobs. Do you like it? Do you hate it? You hate it! Yay! I have 10 jobs you might like more! Drink water. Look outside.

Put on my coat, put my phone in my purse. Leave the office after I turn off the television no one else remembers to turn off. Go back upstairs and get what I forgot. Walk to the car. Go home.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Relaxify Myself

I stayed in bed with a sick cat for a total of 6 hours. She laid on me and slept while I watched a movie and some television reruns. I walked three miles. I sat in my mother-in-law's driveway for a visit in the sunshine. I made brownies.

That's it. That was my Sunday. I hope yours was just as relaxing as mine.

I've been meaning to do Nature Notes and write about goofy things, but I am busy either: running, swimming, walking, eating, working or sleeping. Except for today. And maybe some other days when laziness has taken over.

If you've been around awhile, you may remember that I get to the running and swimming and little else as things ramp up. But this year, I'm 4.5 months before my first half marathon with the second a month later. I'm starting as early as year 1, but way earlier than last year. I ran just over 10.5 miles last week. I'll get there. What strikes me is how I can be busy and only run 10.5 miles. It's still a circus over here trying to get out the door.

Last fall I planted bulbs and got some nice results. I took photos last week, but there wasn't any sunshine. These were for Nature Notes, which snuck up on me. I took these Thursday morning on my way to work and then never stopped at work long enough to post. This week I have purple tulips that weren't blooming at all last week.

The tulip buds below are now purple. I didn't plan on purple and peach tulips, right? I gardened yesterday and as I beheld the glory that is my little plot I had to admit it has to the most poorly-planned garden I've ever seen. But then there's the whole LiBud tree I have growing in my back yard and all I can say is to know me is to love me and shake your head a lot.

Also, I have a question. Will rabbits eat my onion tops? Because I have rabbits and I thought I had planted onions in this one spot, but there aren't any little green sprouts. Also, I saw a garden today that has onions growing and they're huge already. I hope I didn't plant too late and they grow okay once the Iowa oven begins to bake.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Save The Frogs Day is today!

I shamelessly stole this from Rambling Woods' Save the Frogs Day post and I hope she doesn't mind. This is really important to everyone in the human race.

This is toward the end of the short article, but it should be the first thing you read, "Over half of the DNA found in frogs is also found in humans, so if these pesticides kill frogs, imagine what they do to us!"

Pesticides and herbicides are toxic chemicals that generally undergo little to no testing on amphibians prior to their being approved for use. Unfortunately, the law of gravity has it that many of these pesticides end up in waterways, where amphibians live and breed. To make matters worse, amphibians have permeable skin that is highly absorbent. Populations of the endangered mountain yellow-legged frog Rana muscosa that live downwind of highly agricultural areas in California’s Central Valley have disappeared at a significantly higher rate than other populations.

Atrazine, perhaps the most commonly used herbicide on the planet (33 million kg are applied each year in the US alone), can cause hermaphroditism in frogs (males grow female sex organs) at ecologically relevant doses, and can reduce survivorship in salamanders. Atrazine also affects water quality in lakes, resulting in more snails. These snails serve as intermediary hosts of a trematode parasite that burrows into the developing limbs of tadpoles and causes limb malformations.

Roundup (also sold as Touchdown Total) is lethal to gray treefrog and leopard frog tadpoles, and most likely a host of other as yet untested frog species. Roundup is the 2nd most commonly applied herbicide in the USA; it’s produced by Monsanto, the same folks who gave us Agent Orange. Over half of the DNA found in frogs is also found in humans, so if these pesticides kill frogs, imagine what they do to us! Read more about pesticides here, and sign this petition to get Atrazine federally banned and out of production.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Where's my keyboard?

Before I left for Ohio, I asked the office manager if she could use her pull with the hardware folks to get someone to speed up my computer. I came back to the office to find that someone had been on my computer and for the first week, it was Speedy Habib.

Speedy Habib is a joke from a trip I took once...the sort of joke that you shouldn't explain because you weren't there, but there was this guy climbing a mountain side. He was going really fast...oh, forget it. Just trust me. He wasn't Speedy Gonzalez, he was Speedy Habib.

So my computer was at the Indianapolis 500 for the first week I was back and then it realized I had come home because it is almost to the crawl it was before I left. When I returned, the first thing I noticed was missing was the tool bar at the bottom of my monitor screen.

The second thing I noticed was that my Irish keyboard toggle was gone!

I wailed. I tore at my hair. I almost fainted. I told my boss that while I was most grateful for the assistance, and I hated to be a complainer, things were missing that I used.

I didn't tell him it was my Irish keyboard because obviously. I'm not sitting here recruiting Irish folk for jobs in Central Iowa although I'm happy to do so and four years ago found an Irish bloke a job, but I digress.

So here I am without my useful and important keyboard, the one I miss every day of my working life and today I decide to participate in the World o'Twitter. I am quoting Zig Ziglar, who is a smart chap, and I need a hash tag so I can give him credit because although I am completely unfamiliar with Twitter and don't know what I'm doing, I assume I should give the man proper credit. I hit Shift-3, which should give me a hash tag or a pound sign or a sharp sign. Depends all on what sector of the universe you live in, I suppose.

But look what I got instead: #

Now you may feel bewildered at this point and lunging for a view of your 3 key to see the hash tag right there. That's what I just did.

But in a MS Word document, I get a British pound sign. Like a dollar sign $, see? Only for the Royal Wedding. For the other side of the pond. For the losing side of the Revolution. I can't find a hash tag anywhere on my keyboard now unless I'm online. Also confusing for Twitter is the @ sign, which on an Irish keyboard is the double quote key.

See, I was in Word typing out my Twitter because I am lazy (copy&paste) and curious and wanted to see how many characters it was...Whatever! The point is now I am stuck with the Irish keyboard I rarely use but couldn't live without because the toggle has gone missing.

Unless I'm online. Then apparently I am typing in U.S. English. Which means all my Tweets will have to be written out by my very own fingers. Dang. My head hurts.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Rain, rain, go away

I have decided that while we are in the middle of the rainy season I should focus on getting some tasks done indoors. So I'm sitting in bed with my computer open on my lap. I have notes scattered around me.

I'm ready to write.

Except that I keep stalling. That little part of my brain that hates change keeps telling me to hold back. Don't work too hard. Lose focus. What if you try and fail? Oh, look! Bright shiny object!

Something I'm working on right now is an article to submit to a job board. I have two article ideas and their writer's guidelines printed out. It won't happen in the next hour. But it isn't going to happen in the next year if I don't start typing.

Plus, I have a cat trying to sit on my keyboard. I swear the world is conspiring against me, but of course it isn't really the world. It's just my brain. I thought maybe if I came over here and wrote some nonsense, it would loosen things up for me. No wonder I liked journalism school - everything was on a deadline. Every story I worked on today was due by 4 pm at the newspaper. Even the media office stuff was expected by a certain date no matter how much research or how many interviews were required.

I guess I'm done whining. I'll let you know how it goes.