Sunday, December 30, 2007

Product Review:

Spinervals On the Road 2.0 - Lake Placid Training Ride

I had been coveting this spin video for awhile and was excited to find it under the tree this year! (Okay, we didn’t have a tree, but you know what I mean.)

This is a three hour spin workout and what makes it hard is what makes his other On the Road video hard—you don’t get a break. Most of Coach Troy’s videos are interval work. You spin hard, then you rest. But with the Virtual Reality videos, you’re pedaling the whole time, which is harder than a standard spin video and harder than an actual ride outdoors.

The beauty of the landscape in this video is what makes the time pass. The ride starts and ends at the site of the 1980 Olympic Games in Lake Placid and for three hours you ride the roads of the Ironman USA course through the surrounding hills. I’ve never been to the Adirondacks before, but I found the landscape and architectural styles similar to Vermont, leading to moments when I caught myself looking for covered bridges!

I ignored Coach Troy’s gearing advice and simply focused on the road, switching to easier gears on the downhills and harder ones on the uphills to mimic what I would be feeling on a real bike ride. I got so into it that I caught myself waving to other cyclists, but the stuck-up jerks didn’t wave back. Their loss.

By the last hour, I was feeling this workout. Part of it was that I had done a long run yesterday and slept badly last night, but a lot of it was also just the effect of spinning my legs for three hours straight. Coach Troy likes to say that three hours on the trainer is the equivalent of four on the road, and given how many of these turns and downhills I would’ve coasted in a real road ride, I believe it.

Great spin video! Highly recommended! I understand Coach Troy has a Tuscon Training Ride video in the works and I can hardly wait!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Odd Little Christmas

Christmas morning started according to plan. I got up at 6:00 and went to the studio for a three hour spin workout, which would put me in calorie deficit, free to eat whatever suited my fancy for the rest of the day.

The workout went well and I came back to the house at 9:30 with visions of coffee and panettone dancing in my head, to find Dan lying on the sofa. “I’ve got bad news,” he said. “I’ve got another kidney stone.”

Great.

“I just had one last week. I don’t know why I keep getting them.”

“Have you been drinking lots of water?” I asked.

“Uh…no.”

“I don’t think we’re going to need to call Sherlock Holmes, then.” I told Dan that I would get cleaned up and we’d go fill the prescription he got last week for pain meds.

“I tore it up. I didn’t need it.”

“You know our emergency room co-pay is $100, right?”

Merry Christmas to us.

I took a shower, made coffee for myself and heated up some panettone. We opened our gifts, which I absolutely loved—some books from my Amazon wish list and a spin video I’ve been coveting. Dan was definitely not feeling good, and after we unwrapped our gifts, he decided to go to the minor emergency clinic. I offered to take him, but he swore he was okay to go alone and didn’t want to ruin my Christmas if he had to be there all day. So since he’s a grownup, I told him what I thought of his stupid plan to drive while he was in pain, and let him go.

It was actually a relief to have him gone. I washed some dishes, disposed of the wrapping paper, photographed the bunny enjoying her Christmas present, and got ready to go to my parents’ house. Just before I left, I called Dan, who said he was being discharged and to wait.

Well, okay. He came home (on non-narcotic painkillers) and we got to my parents’ house only half an hour late, where we found the following:

• my brother suffering from severe depression and doped up on new meds
• my sister recovering from bronchitis
• my father with some sort of pulled muscle in his hip
• my (step)mother with a bruised tailbone from a recent fall

This left only me and my sister’s boyfriend among the whole and hearty. What a way to buck the trend!

Food was iffy. It was all store-bought and from Boston Market, not homemade or absurdly expensive high-end deli stuff like what Dan and I are used to. But I was hungry and filled my plate twice, both for dinner and dessert. I ate lots of cookies, too.

We had all agreed ahead of time that gifts were to be minimal, so although we got some nice stuff, the bulk of our gifts was in gift cards and cash. I know it’s not in the correct spirit to say this, but I like it better this way. My family members, especially my parents, have proven to be very good at giving me stuff I don’t care for or don’t need, and since we’re all grownups, it’s less wasteful to just give each other the means to buy what we want.

We left my parents’ house early, since Dan’s pain was starting to return. We went to a 24-hour pharmacy and got his prescription for stronger pain meds filled, and I picked up my new asthma meds while I was there, since I had only one more day before I needed refills. This saved me a trip today or tomorrow, so I don’t need to go anywhere today unless I really want to.

We got home early enough for me to finish a writing project I was working on, and by then I was getting sleepy. The early morning workout and lack of a nap had finally caught up with me. I kissed my drugged-up hubby good night and went to bed.

Merry Odd Christmas to us!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!














If you were good, Santa came last night!















Find the gift that belongs to you...















And dig in!

Merry Christmas to all who are celebrating today, and a Joyous Holiday Season to all!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Luminaria Night


















They do luminarias in my neighborhood.
















Everyone gets some. Even newcomers like us.















Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Secrets














Hey, Pixel! I'll tell you what the humans got you for Christmas, if you 'fess up what they got for me!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Last Long Run!

I needed one more run over 20 miles to get ready for my January marathon and as of last night I was still undecided whether it should be today or Christmas morning. Even though it had been less than a week since last Sunday’s 19-miler, I went with today, based on the following:

• Rain predicted for both days, but Christmas would be colder.
• Fewer people around on Christmas, which isn’t a good thing when you’re female and running alone for 4-5 hours.
• I might feel pressured to hurry on Christmas and cut my run short.

My plan was to circle the campus 3-4 times while waiting for the sun to come up and then make a decision whether or not to head toward Rice University and Montrose. Weather.com predicted scattered thunderstorms, so when I saw the dark clouds to the west after sunrise, I assessed how I was feeling and decided that my brain was up for the tedium of staying close to home and doing campus loops, so I would be close to shelter at all times if a really bad storm blew in.

I’m happy to report that the reports of rain were greatly exaggerated. Although I did get rained on for the last nine miles, it was mostly gentle showers and drizzling. What made this a hard run was that many of the university walkways are of that pebble-encrusted concrete that becomes slick when wet. It messed with my stride and made me have to concentrate on my footing a lot. The other hard part was resisting four decades of being told to get in out of the rain! I’d be trotting along in the rain, feeling fine, but my brain would be screaming at me, “It’s raining! Go home!” But I couldn’t go home. Once I hit the halfway point, I was committed to finishing the run. I couldn’t go eleven, fifteen, or eighteen miles and then call it off and try to do twenty in three days. So no matter what the weather did, I had to keep on unless it became dangerous.

By the time I finished my run, the rain had passed and the sun was starting to come out. And thanks to the wind and the miracle of wicking running gear, my clothes dried super-fast and I never felt soggy. I had run 22.5 miles and felt pretty good about it.

From here forward, it’s taper time. Look for me to start getting grumpy as I have to cut back on yummy food to accommodate a reduced exercise schedule!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Announcement: Flash Fiction Carnival!

I've got a holiday-themed flash fiction carnival posted on one of my other blogs, so if you're looking for something to read, be sure to stop by! Each story is under 1,500 words and many are under 1,000.

Short reads and with an appropriate seasonal theme! What could be better?

Friday, December 14, 2007

Grumpy and Paranoid

Dan is sick and I'm a nervous wreck. I cringe every time he coughs, I run around after him sterilizing light switches and doorknobs over and over. He kept rearranging things in the grocery cart tonight until I felt like screaming, "Quit TOUCHING everything!!!"

I'm four weeks from the marathon and if I get a chest cold now, it's a good possibility that it'll turn into bronchitis and I won't be over it on marathon day. It'll be $100 down the drain if I can't make the race.

This is the main reason why every year I say I'll never sign up for the Houston Marathon again. December and early January are inevitably a time when I'm surrounded by sick people at work and at home and I can't enjoy the season because I'm so busy avoiding people and trying not to touch anything.

Maybe I'll go be a hermit in my studio apartment for the next month.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

(Bunny) Life Imitates Art











On my trips to Vermont I fell in love with local folk artist Warren Kimble's rabbit paintings, since those fat white bunnies look so much like my own little fatso here at home!

The above print is in Tidbit's feeding corner, so she can be reminded of her overfed condition and reflect on how much better she has things here than when I found her at the shelter a few years ago, a bony little thing weighing only four pounds!

And here's the perp today:


















Looking well-fed and innocent, as usual.

See the resemblance?

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Mileage Miscalculation

I know how weird this is going to sound to my non-running friends, but I ran twenty-three miles today by mistake.

Yeah.

I plotted my route very carefully last night, but for whatever reason this morning I thought I was supposed to start with three loops around campus instead of two. I suspected something wasn’t quite right when I got home and it was after 11:00. I had expected to be home between 10:00 and 10:30, and while I had a couple delays due to water procurement problems and the siren song of a yard sale, those things shouldn’t have added close to an hour to my run time.

But an additional three miles on top of those delays sure did it.

It was a pretty good run, though. I was out before dark and got to watch the sunrise. When I got to the zoo, I heard the monkeys whooping it up somewhere and felt like I was in the rain forest. I stopped to read the inscription on a monument in the park. I did battle with a high-spouting water fountain in windy weather. I browsed a yard sale. I watched ospreys soar overhead and cormorants dive for fish in the bayou.

And I had a very hearty lunch at our favorite Indian restaurant. Now that I realize I ran three miles more than I thought, I believe this entitles me to another cookie. Or to some of the rice pudding I’m making tonight.

As crazy as it sounds, I think I’ll do this route a couple more times this month, body willing. I don’t usually do more than a single twenty-miler before the marathon, but if I can handle two or three in the 20+ range, I should have a really fantastic marathon in January!

Gonna go have that extra cookie now. I earned it!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Bunny Decorator

Or, "Why We Cover the Bed With an Old Sheet."






Sunday, November 25, 2007

Holiday Weekend Recap

I had a nice, low-stress (by my strange standards) four day weekend. And boy, did I need it!

Thursday morning started with a two-hour spin session to put me in calorie deficit ahead of Thanksgiving dinner. Dan and I stayed home, no traipsing across the city to be bored by his family or annoyed by mine. Although we had toyed with the idea of cooking, we ended up buying the things we would need at the Central Market deli Tuesday night, instead. It was all very nice and we watched a movie afterwards, took naps, stayed up late puttering around and just generally didn’t do much at all. During my late-night writing time, I wrote a new short story.

On Friday I went thrift and consignment shopping. My favorite thrift store was closed, but I did well at a good consignment store near River Oaks. The store often has really nice stuff, sometimes with the tags still on. It’s amazing what rich people give away. Once I got home, it was time to do the laundry, since Friday is always laundry day around here. It was also grocery night, and we stocked up for the week. In the evening, I finished editing my new story and posted it.

Since it was raining like heck on Saturday morning, there was no hope of doing a long run. I dilly-dallied and finally forced myself to get my butt to the studio for a spin workout. I did three hours, thus earning the right to stuff myself on Indian food, which I did. I took a nap afterwards, overslept, and stayed up late to compensate.

While I napped, Dan went to meet his sisters on his father’s side of the family and was surprised when they gave him some his dad’s effects. His father passed away several years ago and Dan had been wanting to ask for something to remember him by, but had been shy about it. Long story, but to put it most simply, Dan’s father had a wife and family already when he started sneaking around with Dan’s mom. So Dan grew up without knowing his father, and only met him a few years before his death from lung cancer. So it was quite a special thing for him to get some mementos.

This morning I got up and cooked for the week. I made steamed carrots, sautéed spinach with garlic, roast potatoes (two kinds) and bread pudding. It took longer than I would’ve liked, so even though I had hoped to do a 20 mile run today, by the time I did 16 it was getting too late in the day to finish. I did today’s run in the gym due to the bad weather and alternated one mile on the treadmill with one mile on the indoor track. It worked pretty well and I think if it hadn’t been getting so late I would’ve had the mental stamina to do 20. I hope I don’t have to find out, though. I’d much rather run outdoors.

When I got home I ate dinner and put a bunch of things in the crock pot in the hope it would turn out to be turkey soup. And it did! I had some after my nap and it was delish!

So that was my long weekend. There’s a lot I meant to do but didn’t. I wanted to finish hanging pictures and tidy the studio some more—things left undone when I finally ran out of steam after our move in August. I meant to finish a lapsed salary report for work and of course I meant to do more writing and didn’t. I didn’t do a heavy weight workout this weekend, either.

I’m not disappointed in myself or the weekend, but I really do need to move to a planet with longer days. Or get a job with longer vacations.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Santa Claus Is Coming!

Okay, not for another month. But he's blogging again and getting ready for the big day. Be sure to check out Santa's blog and add it to your blog reader, if you've got one. It's a lot of fun!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!














Wishing blessings to you and yours and another year to be thankful for!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Ebay: I did not know that!

Tonight I found some items on Ebay Canada (ebay.ca) that I couldn't find on USA Ebay (ebay.com). Silly me, I had assumed that us being neighbors and all, I would find the same stuff on both sites.

Not so!

And what was I looking for, you ask? Old postcards of New Mexico towns. And I found them in Canada, of all places! Why our northern friends had postcards of the copper mines in Hurley, New Mexico, I'll never know. I'm just glad they didn't want them any more.

This 'n That

This past week was a busy one for me but I really got to enjoy the benefits of living so close to my job, rearranging my work and exercise schedule as needed so I could get done most of what I wanted to do without compromising the service my team delivers to our IT department.

I had a good run yesterday, staying close to campus because of the threat of rain. In spite of all the dark clouds swirling around though, we didn’t get rain until later in the day. While I was running, Dan went to help his sister set up her new router and received in payment some refrigerator art from his niece, who also put a sticker of a snail on his Ramones shirt. He wore that snail all day and every time I saw it I wanted to giggle.

This morning I took some old rice and made rice pudding with it. I didn’t have a recipe, but I did have a crock pot, and the rice pudding turned out well. One thing about working in a restaurant is that if you’re in that line of work long enough, you learn how to cook, even if you never pick up anything more culinary than a tray.

Between the rice pudding and just general dilly-dallying, I got a late start on my errands today and was annoyed when Dan asked me to get him some razors. I hadn’t planned on going to the drug store, even though there were a few things I needed. But I went because I was feeling nice, and on my way out of the store, I noticed a display of Tony Bennet CDs with a sticker on them saying that there was an AARP discount available. I had a sudden vision of some day seeing Clash and Ramones CDs similarly stamped and marketed to the AARP crowd, which would by then be me. I’ve got no problem with getting older, but the idea that the hip bands of my youth will become fodder for fuddy-duddies is another matter.

Oh, and I bought gas today. First time since September. What did it cost? Who cares? I haven't needed gas since September, people!

Recent Workouts
Monday: 30 minute elliptical, 10 minute row
Tuesday: 45 minute spin
Wednesday: 3.5 mile run
Thursday: 30 minute elliptical
Friday: scheduled rest day
Saturday: 17 mile run
Sunday: 2 hour spin

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Job Fairs and Felines

I worked a job fair on behalf of my employer today. I had thought it would lead to something interesting to blog about but it didn’t, really. It was pretty obvious why a lot of people who attended didn’t have jobs or didn’t have good ones. I was actually surprised that we had as many potentially viable candidates as we did! If we get a few hires off this, the CEO will release funds for us to do more elaborate promos and setup, which could be fun. It beats spending a day at my desk while groundskeepers have leaf blower wars outside my window and my phone rings with people asking stupid questions.

In all, it ended up being a nice day out of the office for me. Tomorrow and Friday will probably be a minor nightmare, since the last thing I could really afford was a day away from my projects. But a front is moving through tonight and it will feel more like fall again tomorrow, so I take the blessings where I find them.

Feline Incident: Pixel has discovered the mantel over the fireplace and its view of the backyard through a nearby window. He was keeping watch on Sunday when I went to do a spin workout in the studio. According to Dan, Pixel became very anxious upon seeing me cross the yard and go into the studio and he sat there meowing furiously before jumping down, pacing the floor and going back to the mantel to look out the window again.

I forgot my water bottle and came back into the house and Pix jumped down again and went into some kind of crazy antics that I never saw because I grabbed my water from where I had left it in the kitchen and went right back to the studio. The cat meowed and watched for me for a long time before becoming bored and finding something else to do.

I have no idea what he was thinking, but it was probably something akin to whatever line of reasoning leads him to wait anxiously outside the bathroom door whenever one of us is taking a shower. I haven’t figured that one out, either.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Weekend Bird Report

When we moved here in August we were told there were ospreys in the neighborhood. But although I diligently kept an eye out for them, I had no luck until today when I saw one circling a stand of trees near the bayou when I was on my way home from my run. It was anticlimactic in a way because it’s just another bird of prey. I’ve been closer to hawks and eagles in the mountains, where if you stand on a ledge they’ll fly so close you can see their eyes. Today’s osprey just flew overhead. But maybe this is a good sign and I’ll have better sightings in the future.

I’ve also identified my mystery bird from the bayou. There are two types of birds I see hanging out on the banks of the bayou— egrets and some black birds that look sort of like loons. Obviously the only way a loon is getting to the Texas Gulf Coast is via a zoo program. It took some clicking, but I finally waded through a lot of useless web sites to discover that my black birds are neotropic cormorants. One site even mentioned how they like to sit with their wings spread out to dry them, a behavior that when I first saw it made me wonder if something was wrong.

So there. I’ve now identified all the new-to-me birds that I’ve thus far encountered at my new home. What I find especially odd is that I only moved five miles, yet there really are noticeable differences in the wildlife. You wouldn’t think five miles, especially inner city miles, would make such a difference, but there you are.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Dona Nobis Pacem

Monday, November 05, 2007

Health Issues: Weight/Size Maintenance

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed below are my own and are not to be taken as professional medical advice. If you want real advice on health matters, go to a real doctor and not to the blog of a random stranger whose avatar is a rabbit.

Okay, now that we’re through with the formalities, I’d like to start what I hope will be a series of posts on health and fitness by discussing of something that gets very little attention: weight maintenance.

Let’s face it, whether you’re happy as you are now or whether you think you need to lose some pounds, your goal, first and foremost, should be to not get any bigger. Weight loss, if desired, will follow from a solid base of weight maintenance.

But maintenance is harder than it sounds because of the way body composition affects metabolism. To put it simply, muscle speeds up your metabolism; fat slows it down. Gaining weight in the form of fat makes it more likely that you’ll gain more fat, thus slowing your metabolism further. Conversely, gaining weight in the form of muscle will help burn fat. And since muscle is more dense than fat, some people actually gain weight while losing inches.

This is why I believe scales are largely useless. Honestly folks, do you really care what the scale says? No one knows your weight unless you advertise it, but they can tell just by looking how big or small you are. So leave the scale alone!

Instead, make this simple promise to yourself: Never buy clothes that are bigger than the ones you have now.* If you have any “fat” clothes, put them in a box and take them to Goodwill.

Now you’re committed. You will either fit your clothes or you’ll have nothing to wear. No cheating by filling your closet with elastic waistbands, unless that's what you've got in there already!

Okay, so how do we maintain our current weight/size? Good question! This is highly individual and goes back to body composition and the matter of age. Getting older will slow down your metabolism, no matter what you do, so it’s important to get some kind of exercise each day (muscle burns fat, remember?) and to also have a realistic understanding of your diet. I’ll address both diet and exercise in future posts.

For now, let’s just accept that wherever we are today is our baseline, or perhaps more appropriately, our “Do Not Pass” line. Every day you stay at or below today’s size is a day to congratulate yourself. Many studies have suggested that stability and not weight/size in any given year is the best predictor of long term good health.

Be healthy and all other goals become possible!

* Note: Pre-menopausal women who are already on the skinny side of normal should expect to gain a dress size (one, not twelve!) after menopause. If it doesn’t happen, fantastic! But in general, this may be considered the exception that proves the rule of “never buy bigger clothes.”

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Weekend Check-In

Wow, I haven’t had much to say around here lately, have I? Well, the reasons aren’t at all mysterious. I just haven’t had anything very interesting going on. I’m pretty busy with my job, marathon training and fiction writing, and the rest is just the normal petty annoyances of life.

The time from Labor Day to Thanksgiving feels more grueling than usual this year. I think it’s a combination of my earlier-than-usual vacation (mid-May) and my moving-hell month of August. I go to the office and I don’t want to be there, but it seems everyone has a better excuse than I do to take time off, so I go in and wish I were somewhere else. Administrative work is never very exciting, but I’m finding it particularly mind-numbing these days.

It doesn’t help that the last few weeks have been noisy, with either mowers, leaf-blowers or hurricane shutter installers working outside my window nearly every day! And then there was the day where they spent the entire morning power-washing the courtyard. And the three days it took them to feed the trimmed branches of the nearby oaks into a wood-chipper. Three days! And the oaks look no different. If I were a mystery writer, I would’ve gotten a lot of good ideas off that one!

I get hardly any work done with all this going on, and I go home with my nerves shredded. I’d be looking forward to the holidays, except that they’re their own form of teeth-grinding stress.

I need a break. Or some new inspiration. In the meantime I’ll keep plugging away at things, because if life has taught me anything, it’s that change is a constant, and there are worse places to be than in the doldrums.

Recent Workouts
Today: 2 hour bike, 2 mile run, 30 min strength training
Saturday: 16.5 mile run
Friday: Scheduled rest day
Thursday: 30 min easy elliptical
Wednesday: 45 minute bike, 3.5 mile run
Tuesday: 4 mile run (speed drills)
Monday: 30 minute elliptical, 10 minute row

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!














If you're looking for a Halloween Treat, go check out the Halloween Fiction Carnival going on today!

Boo!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

So Darn Cute

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Eco-Unfriendly

For three days now, we've been going around in circles trying to get a travel reimbursement for someone in our division who attended training here in town. The problem is that you're supposed to fill out an official travel request in advance of any reimbursable travel UNLESS it's local travel, which does not require a prior request.

Problem?

He went to and from his workshop via city bus, and the policy states quite clearly that we can reimburse only mileage, tolls and parking. No mention of reimbursing bus fare, therefore it's not allowed and the employee is in violation of policy.

Think about that for a minute. We'll cheerfully reimburse someone to drive a Hummer across a city the approximate size of Guatemala. We'll reimburse tolls along the way and parking costs, too.

But a bus fare that is not only cheap but helps reduce traffic jams, pollution and greenhouse emissions? Nope.

Our planet is doomed.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Kitties x 3!


















Okay, by popular request... here are the kitties. I couldn't find them on the store website for online purchase, but if any of my regular posters wants me to send them a set, get in touch. They're $6, like the bunnies. Houston has an 8.25% sales tax and then there's the shipping, but total cost would probably be under $10 and the store is about a block from the Indian restaurant I go to every Saturday, so it's no trouble to pick them up for someone. Biggest cat is 4" tall, to give you some idea.

Sheesh. You folks will talk me into anything. Off to wrap them back up so I can give them to my Mom for her birthday.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Bunnies x 3!














I found these cute little clay bunnies at Ten Thousand Villages here in the Rice Village. Lots of cuteness, bag included, for only $6! They have a cat version, too.

And speaking of bunnies, I hope all my friends will spare a few good wishes for my blog friend Rachel and her sweet bunnies, who I hope are in a safe place away from the smoke and fires in San Diego tonight.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Studies in Groundward Tropism

I did something today I haven’t done in a long time. I fell.

It was my own stupid fault, since I know better than to run on the sidewalks in Montrose. They’re old and uneven, one section tilted one way, the next section tilted another way. Old oaks and subsidence will do that. So I usually run in the street if I’m in that area.

But today I came to a section where there was more traffic than usual, so I got on the sidewalk. And even after the street was safe again, I figured I’d stay on the sidewalk until I had crossed the next major road. I got distracted, thinking about a house in the area that I had lived in twenty years ago, and the next thing I knew I had tripped over the stupid uneven sidewalk and fallen hard.

My cho-pat strap took worst of it on my right knee, but my left knee looked pretty bad. Luckily I’m always prepared for these kinds of emergencies on long runs and after I rinsed out the worst of the dirt with the water I was carrying, I cleaned up with one of my individually-wrapped Gold Bond antiseptic wipes. I can’t recommend these enough to distance runners and cyclists. One wipe is about the size of a credit card and slips right into whatever pack you’re using to carry gels, ID and cash.

Since my left knee still insisted on dripping everywhere and it wasn’t Halloween yet, I wrapped it with the bandana I always carry with me. I looked like Punky Brewster, but at least I wasn’t likely to scare anyone.

I was near a store, so I got some more water and went on to finish my run. I was only at about the halfway point when I fell and I could’ve taken a more direct route home that would’ve cut it short by a couple of miles but once I was clean and bandaged up I didn’t feel bad at all.

By the time I got home I was starting to get some nice blue bruises on the right knee, and when I unbandaged the left one, I was pretty unhappy to see it looked like something you’d get as scrap from the butcher. Cleaning it out in the shower was No. Fun. At. All. But afterwards I found my Nexcare burn pads, which are squishy cool gel pads for burns and road rash. I slapped one of those puppies on with some stretchy kinesio tape to hold it in place and all was well.

Okay, all was sort of well.

Did I mention that last night I cut the skirt of my Halloween costume to above the knees? It needed to be done, but. . . Well, let’s just say I may be re-thinking my costume. I’m not showing these knees for awhile.

Today’s Workout
17 mile run

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Random Thursday Thoughts

What a fine and busy week!

I posted two new short stories on my writing blog and began a new novel for the Seventy Days of Sweat challenge.

I went to the university theater department’s annual costume sale and got something for Halloween. (More on that in a later post.)

I was taken out to lunch for Boss’s Day. I have the Best Team Ev-ah!

I went to the university’s Tech Fair, had a cookie and visited with my friends.

My photo submission for the "blog" of "unnecessary" quotation marks got posted!

I had a quiet, boss-free week most of the week, and my boss returned to work Thursday as demanding as ever but not in a mean way.

The Evil Hurricane Shutter people were back Thursday, making noise outside my window all day long. Not good.

I found out that the university’s post office turns off its meter at 3:45, even though they are supposedly open until 4:00. It would’ve been nice if they posted this information online or at least had a sign, but what can one do other than try again the next day?

I discovered that the most effective way to get loose fur off a bunny’s butt is to use tape. I also discovered that the immense rabbit disapproval this engenders makes it almost not worth the trouble.

Speaking of Tidbit, her Halloween costume is here!

Looking forward to the weekend!

Recent Workouts
Sunday: 90 minute spin, 2 mile run, 30 minute weights
Monday: skipped workout
Tuesday: 30 minute elliptical, 1 mile run, 10 minute row
Wednesday: 5.5 mile run
Thursday: 45 minute spin

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Winners!

I extended the promo for my book through mid-October. I decided to give away just two prizes in this round, since I still have people who say they're going to buy the book, and I don't want them to miss their chance at a prize. Anyone who was eligible for this round but didn't get anything will automatically be included in the next round.

So here's how the drawing went.

My impartial selection committee:









Who, me?


The selection process:









Tasty!


Overseer to make sure the process was fair:










Right. He can't even read!


And the winners are... Thomma in Tennessee and Michele in Norway!

Since the winners are both female, I'll save the gender-neutral prizes for the next round, in case we get a male winner later. Here's what Michele and Thomma won: the lapis necklace Vince gave Diana, some turkey feathers, some New Mexico piñones (pine nuts) for snacking, and a nice leather pouch to carry it all in.












Send me your addresses and it'll be on its way!

Congrats, ladies, and I hope you're enjoying the book!

Next prize drawing will be next month.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Jackrabbits and Housework

With cooler temps and lower humidity, I had a fantastic run this morning. I ran to Hermann Park and Rice University, which I hadn't done for awhile, and I think there's a waterbird migration of some sort going on because I saw a lot of birds on the bayou along the way. I ended up doing sixteen miles and felt like I could’ve run forever, had I not started late and run out of time. It was nearly 11:00 when I got home, too late to rake the leaves in the front yard, so I guess that will have to go onto tomorrow’s to-do list.

On the way home from having Indian food, Dan and I stopped at a moving sale where they were selling some gorgeous Old Mexico-style carved wooden furniture. It was totally wrong for our décor, but it was wonderful stuff. I contented myself by buying a bowl with a jackrabbit theme. Tidbit approved.










I read with interest the news story this week about how cleaning products trigger asthma. It confirmed what I suspected this past August when we were moving and I was spending so much time cleaning and scrubbing things. I had some of my worst asthma attacks ever during that time period and had wondered since if it was the cleaning that did it. Now that my suspicion is confirmed, I have an excuse that will last me the rest of my life! And no, I don't want to hear about how to clean things using baking soda and vinegar. Just let me revel in my new-found justification for laziness, okay?

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Little Surprises

I got a package from my father this week. He’s always been one to give spontaneous gifts—not fancy stuff, just little things that let you know he was thinking of you. So it wasn't strange to find a box on my doorstep this week, even though I hadn’t been expecting it.

The box contained apples and pecans from his New Mexico property, dried chiles, and some raisins he made out of grapes from my aunt’s property. It was my first time to have homemade raisins, and OMG, I can totally understand why in ancient times they were a snack for royalty! So unbelievably delish!

It was fabulous to be boss-free again this week, although I’m still trying to puzzle out how I came to be in charge of collecting donations for the floral arrangement we sent to her father’s funeral. I didn’t mind at all, but it was just one of those situations that I would’ve normally handed off to an assistant but never got the chance because everything was moving so fast. And is it just me, or is it stupidly difficult to find appropriate flowers for a man's funeral? My boss's father was a retired colonel, and no way was I going to send something girly with roses or bows! I finally found something featuring mums and carnations in red, white and blue, so if anyone needs flowers for a veteran, let me know and I'll steer you to the right place!

I've been missing my old running routes this week, but with rain in the forecast, this wasn't the weekend to stray far from home. So this morning I peeked out the window, was satisfied at the dry streets, got myself all taped up to run, and as soon as I stepped out the door it started raining! But it only lasted a few minutes and I was able to get in a good run. I must’ve been wearing my “Ask Me For Directions” shirt though, because people pulling over to the curb and asking me how to get to certain campus buildings. I really must quit running around campus. Either that or insist upon extra compensation.

When I got home I found our neighbor had trimmed the bushes for us, as part of a previous agreement. Dan was supposed to bag the branches, but since he was helping a professor friend move and I was already outside and dirty, I figured I might as well bag the branches myself. Little did I realize that I would end up filling six bags! From the driveway it didn’t look like a very big job, but most of the branches weren’t in my immediate line of sight. Well, all that bending and stretching was probably good for me.

In writing news, I’ve signed up for the Seventy Days of Sweat writing challenge, partly as camaraderie thing with my writing friends, and partly in the hope it will be the kick in the pants I need to write a book that’s been in my head for over a year now, but that I’ve failed to get more than a few pages out of.

And with regard to my book at Lulu, Dan mentioned it to the head of the women’s resource center while he was on a support call Friday, and she expressed interest in having me give a talk. I’m very surprised by this. If she gets in touch with me, I’ll need to make sure Dan didn’t misrepresent anything to her. I do think I could give a meaningful talk on either the themes of my book or non-traditional options for writers, but that’s about as far as it could go.

Anyway, that was my week in a nutshell. My boss is supposed to come back next week, but since her boss will be out most of the week, we’re all hoping she takes a few days to work from home and get mentally caught up before throwing herself back into the whirlwind.

Recent Workouts
Sunday: 2 hour bike, 2 mile run, weights and core
Monday: 30 minute elliptical
Tuesday: 5 mile run
Wednesday: 30 minute elliptical, 10 minute row, core
Thursday: 45 minute spin, light weights
Friday: scheduled rest day
Saturday: 12.5 mile run

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Weekly Recap

I did a 15.5 mile run today. The first hour was nice and cool, and it was good to get out there and clear my head from the week. It’s amazing how much you can accomplish when the boss is gone, although I worry that I might start encountering other types of roadblocks next week. Executive management can be stunningly unwilling to answer questions from us peons in middle management, for all their happy speechifying about how accessible they are.

And don’t even get me started on rude colleagues who decide that 3:15 on a Friday is the perfect time to demand (Huh? You’re not my boss!) additional work on a project right now, even though it’s not a new development and they had all day to mention it. Unlike my co-workers, I don’t come in late and then slip out for a two-hour lunch on Friday. I’m there. And if I need to leave a little early to take stuff to HR, it’s because I’m head of IT HR and we’re under the very real threat of an employment lawsuit. Yeah, my job is just as real and important as that of my colleagues. Amazing!

Furthermore, I can’t accept that something’s an emergency when it’s been known all day and no one mentioned it to me in the eight hours my butt was in my office chair.

I’m a tad narrow-minded that way.

Whew! Glad I got that off my chest!

I had a conversation with a co-worker this week about the trails along the bayou near my house. Supposedly one can follow them all the way out to around where my Mom lives, about 20 miles. Since these aren’t rustic trails, but more like a sidewalk, I’m thinking it might make a good bike ride. I see cyclists out there whenever I go for a run. But I’d like to have someone to ride with, at least the first time. I’m in no danger of getting lost, but I don’t know if there are places that aren’t safe or aren’t good for cycling, where I would have to share the street with cars. That’s a dangerous proposition in my city, especially without a group of other riders to enhance street presence and visibility. So I’ll have to find someone to ride with, and my best prospect so far doesn't have a bike, which poses a bit of a problem. It would be nice if I could get my lazy husband to go, but I’m not holding my breath on that one.

Not much else is happening here. I was pleased to sell a few more books this week, but I still don’t have enough people who actually told me they bought it for me to make a good prize drawing next week. (I only know my sales numbers, not who the buyers are.) So unless a few more people buy the book or download and then tell me they’ve done it, I may split the goodies and have two drawings—one in September and one in October. Once I get the prizes put together, I’ll take pictures and maybe that will tempt someone to speak up. Or not. In which case me and the bunny will enjoy the snacks together.

Bunnies can eat piñones, right?

Recent Workouts
Saturday: 15.5 mile run (combination campus + bayou trails)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Late Week Wrap-up

Last week I took the beta copy of my book to the office to show a fellow writer. A co-worker (who is not a writer) saw it lying on my desk, started reading it and asked if she could take it home for the weekend. I said sure, after cautioning her that it was an early version with scads of formatting errors and pencil marks in it. She said she didn't care.

This week, she didn't bring it back. She said her boyfriend started reading it and won't give it back to her now! I guess that's a good thing when people who borrow your book don't get to read it because other people snatch it up first!

In other book-related news, I'm a little unsure how to proceed with my giveaways. I have enough sales to do the drawing, but not enough buyers have told me who they are! Now, of course I don't mind if someone wants to buy my book but not be included for the promo. But it does make for an awkward situation.

I'll see how things stand at the end of the month and decide then how to proceed. I might give a few prizes in September and a few in October, or I might just wait until October and do them all then. Decisions, decisions...

And in workout news, I might be getting a cycling partner for city rides! And I might also have a lead on another running route from my house. I need at least three possible starting directions in order to keep from getting bored, so I'll be very pleased if this new route proves to be safe and easily accessible.

And finally, my boss's father passed away this week. He was diagnosed with cancer four years ago and at the time they gave him six months to live. He fought bravely and well. Four years when you've been given six months counts as success in my book.

Be good to those you love!

Recent Workouts
Sunday: 90 minute spin, 2 mile run, weights and core work
Monday: 30 minute elliptical, 10 minute row, core work
Tuesday: 30 minute elliptical, 10 minute row
Wednesday: 5 mile run (bayou trails)
Thursday: 45 minute spin

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Happy Camper

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Campus Run

I did a solid fifteen mile run today, so I guess I’m no longer under whatever jinx was making my long runs so horrible in August and the first half of September. I stayed close to campus today, like I did last Saturday. I’m sure I’ll get bored with this at some point, but I hope not. There’s always something going on, something new to see, and it’s fantastically convenient to always be so close to water fountains and restrooms. To use my office building, I need to carry my key and access card, but I’m also getting a sense for which buildings are open on Saturdays.

One thing that annoys me about running around campus though, is that we’ve got a lot of building projects going on and it seems that no sooner do I pick out a route I like, than work crews start tearing it up. And I swear I’m not exaggerating! They’ve torn up about a quarter mile of sidewalk that I was using to get to the gym, and now they’ve blocked off all the parking lots and sidewalks around the Law College. It’s very annoying, especially since it doesn’t look like the construction along the bayou will be done anytime soon, either. There are workarounds for all these issues, and I try to take the long view that I’ll be very happy with the end result of all these work crews and bulldozers, but in the day-to-day, it makes for a lot of re-routing.

Case in point: today’s run was supposed to be thirteen miles, but after I had to change my route, it ended up being fifteen. Okay, so it meant I could have a little extra saag paneer at lunch, but still…

Recent Workouts
Monday: 30 minute elliptical, 10 minute row
Tuesday: 30 minute elliptical, 10 minute row
Wednesday: 4 mile run
Thursday 30 minute elliptical, 10 minute row
Friday: scheduled rest day
Saturday: 15 mile run

Friday, September 21, 2007

Announcement

Through September 30, I'll be doing descriptions of the characters from my book, posted one each day on my Writing blog. Drop by if you want to learn more about the book and the prizes available for those who buy it in print or download during the month of September!

This blog will be having its usual bunny pics and workout commentary this weekend. Tid is anxious to pose, as always!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Book Promo / Contest

NOTE: This is cross-posted on my Writing blog.

Okay, I’ve got all the goodies on order and there will be four winners drawn randomly from among those who buy my book between now and September 30. If the prizes aren’t here by that date, I’ll extend the deadline until they’re here so I can make sure everything is in order.

The prizes are quite nice and consist of items that are mentioned in the story. At least one lucky winner’s prize will include a duplicate of the necklace Diana got from Vince when she left Albuquerque, and someone else will get a carved wooden rabbit like the one she got at Talmadge Pond, Missouri. So buy My New-Found Land and let me know you’ve done it so you can be in the running!

Recent Workouts
Monday: 35 minute elliptical, 10 minute row
Tuesday: 30 minute elliptical, 10 minute row
Wednesday: 3.5 mile run
Thursday 30 minute elliptical, 10 minute row
Friday: scheduled rest day
Saturday: 12 mile run
Sunday: 60 minute spin, 3 mile run, 20 minute weight training

Friday, September 14, 2007

Exciting Announcement!

NOTE: This is cross-posted on my Writing blog.

Announcing the print version of Diana's Diary, available at my Lulu.com storefront!

I've titled it My New-Found Land: A Post-Apocalyptic Journey. If you've already read Book One of the Diana's Diary blog, then you know the story. This is the much more tightly edited version, with the repetitions, inconsistencies and 3AM over-rambling edited out. What works on the web doesn't work so well in print, but one thing I've tried to keep in the book version is the "start-anywhere" quality that made Diana's travels fun. Whether you begin with the street gang, the carnival, the rich Texas ranchers, the tornado, the white sands or the riverboat ride, it's the sort of story you can pick up and read for a few minutes or an hour and have just as good a time, either way.

I included a lot of pictures in the book-- not as many as on the website, but enough to make the page count pretty high, in spite of the nearly 50,000 words I cut. (Yeah, I seriously rambled on some of those late-night posts!) Lulu charges by the page, and since it seemed silly to profit off something I'm already giving away for free online, I have made the book available at cost.

I'm thinking of doing a promo, but I first need to check on availability of the giveaways. If you want to be in the running for one of the prizes, buy the book and save a copy of your online confirmation. I'll be saying more about the promo once I've checked on a few things.

There will also be a few free copies available for persons with decent hit counts who would be willing to review the book on their site. Drop me a line if you're interested. Just because I'm not making any money off this doesn't mean I don't want people reading it! I already have a job. I write to share and it makes me happy to know people are enjoying it.

So if you read the web version and want a more permanent copy, or if web fiction doesn't appeal and you'd enjoy a good road trip story you can read in bed at night, go check out my book-- now in print!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Hurricane Hype

After all the fuss about Tropical Storm, then Hurricane, Humberto, we didn't get so much of a drop of rain.

Oh well. They closed the university until noon, so I got a half-day off out of it. Better than nothing.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Farewell, RX-7

I sold the RX-7 today.

It had always been more car than I needed, and from the beginning my feelings for it were conflicted.

I got it from my father, who got it from his brother, who bought it as a project car. It had sat in a yard for nearly a decade before my uncle bought it. The family had bought it for their son and taken it away when the speeding tickets piled up. My uncle always loved to tinker and he had a grand time restoring it.

When it ended up in my hands, I was in need of a car—any car. I couldn’t believe my luck that I was getting something so cool. But I would soon learn that cool had a price.

I loved the deep, powerful purr of the engine and the way it begged to go fast, and faster still, on the freeway. I loved its clean, sexy lines and the way Wankel engine enthusiasts would strike up conversations with me. I loved the surprise of its roomy interior—the way it could always hold way more stuff than one expected. Dan and I took several road trips in it with bikes, gear, weekend bags, a cooler and ourselves. SUV? Who needs it?

But it was a cranky car. By both age (20 yrs) and design, it seemed that something always needed fixing, and nothing was ever cheap. Even replacing a simple hose clamp could mean trouble because of the persnickety pressure requirements of the engine that required such exact tuning that the car would have to be hooked up to a shop computer and re-calibrated each time something was done under the hood. If this step wasn’t followed, the engine would die on idle unless I kept my foot on the gas—a tricky matter when you’ve also got a clutch, a brake, and only two feet.

Over the years, I replaced a lot of things and had the car repainted. I would often run the numbers in my head and wonder why I didn’t just sell the darn thing and buy something cheaper and easier to manage.

But the RX-7 was cool!

Still, I am at heart a practical person and about a year ago I finally got tired of the high price of cool. I quit driving the RX-7 because the Corolla used less gas in a month than the RX-7 did in a week, and was also easier to maneuver and cheaper to maintain.

Months passed and the RX-7 continued to sit. I would sometimes go and crank the engine, but a lot of times I was too busy to check up on it. It got dusty. I felt guilty. And finally this summer, the battery died. No surprise there.

What to do with the car was the last item on my list of things to finish at the old apartment. I needed to get it out of there and I had no place to keep it here. I could either buy the RX-7 a new battery and fix the mechanical issues I was aware of, or sell it as is.

I’m afraid it was no contest. I don’t need a powerful car like that for the weekly grocery run, and a car like that needs to be loved, maintained and driven fast. Unsure what it was worth and with no particular inclination to invest any money in figuring it out, I took it to a local dealer that specializes in RX-7s. With a jump, it started right up, to the amazement of the mechanics. But I wasn’t surprised. That car sat in the New Mexico desert for a decade. It’s a survivor.

I was quoted a price and I turned over the title. My RX-7 will most likely be the head mechanic’s new project, since in many ways it’s in better shape than his own cars. But worst case scenario, it will be parted out to other people’s well-loved project cars. Either way, I’m satisfied with the outcome.

So farewell, RX-7! You were the coolest, crankiest car I ever owned.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Today’s Workout: Futon Wrestling

Yes, that’s right. Today’s big workout was oak-frame futon wrestling in a small, dim, box-surrounded corner of my studio.

It was supposed to be a spin workout, but in my serendipitous way, one thing led to another, and pretty soon it was 5:00 and I hadn’t eaten anything all day except a 2” cube of cornbread sample at Central Market. Maybe I’ll spin tonight if I have the ganas for it.

But at least now my futon is all put together with no leftover parts, it’s in the place I want it to go, and other furniture and boxes have been moved around so I once again have floor space in my studio.

Floor space so I can set up the bike and do a spin workout.

Yes, there is a method to my madness.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Weekend Annoyances

Well, my flaky internet service is down again. This time Comcast is out for the entire neighborhood, so the problem isn't just us. One of Dan's friends says there is another way to get internet service in the area, so maybe we should investigate. I should've never mentioned to anyone that my internet access had finally stabilized because I obviously jinxed us!

At least it's no big deal to use my office computer. When I came over here tonight I realized that the office, and indeed the entire university campus, was starting to feel like an extension of my home-- just one more place that's "mine." It's kind of strange.

I had yet another bad long run today. I'm beginning to wonder what this is all about. I haven't had a good run of ten miles or longer since before we moved. At first I chalked it up to the move and all the overtime at work. I wasn't getting much sleep and I was doing a lot of new physical activity-- going up and down three flights of stairs carrying heavy boxes over and over again to move out of my old apartment, taking things apart and putting them back together, not liking where a piece of furniture was and having to move it, etc. I was hurting in all kinds of new places.

But this past week was relatively easy. I got off work on time every day and I didn't work out on Thursday or Friday. I tried to get to bed early each night. Today should've been a solid run. Instead, I felt tired the whole time and my hip hurt. I had some GI trouble last night, so maybe that had something to do with it. Still, twelve miles shouldn't wipe me out like this.

Today was my first long run from the new house, so it was nice in that respect. A new route is always fun. I've found that the bayou trails that parallel MacGregor aren't completely torn up, after all. The workers have torn up the south side in some places, the north in others. So if you know where to change sides, you get trail access all the way to Hermann Park.

So my route was nice-- bayou, Hermann Park, Rice University and then home. But it was a tough run for me and I can see potential for trouble in summer on the bayou trails, since they aren't shaded. I'm also concerned about boredom. At the old place I had half a dozen different ways to start my long run. But it looks like here there's only one safe way, and that's the bayou. Maybe by next summer I'll have found alternatives or a group to join. Among the many nice things about my university is all the informal athletic clubs that one can join, whether one is student, staff or faculty.

Not much else is going on. Having my internet connection down sucks. It worked earlier today, so I wish I knew what went wrong and I hope they get it fixed by tomorrow. I don't like my office so much that I want to spend my weekends here, even if it does feel almost like home.

Recent Workouts
Tuesday: 30 minute elliptical
Wednesday: 35 minute spin
Thursday: no workout-- went to buy a futon for the studio
Friday: scheudled rest day
Saturday: 12 mile run

Monday, September 03, 2007

Relaxing Holiday

The weekend went by way too fast, but since it’s been pretty low-key (especially compared to any given day in August), I’m not complaining.

The barbeque on Sunday turned out to actually be an indoor seafood feast, which suited me just fine. I had done a two-hour morning spin to get ready, so I had my fill of veggies, crackers and crab dip while we all hung out and chatted for a bit, and then dinner was salmon, shrimp, king crab legs, corn on the cob, potatoes, wild rice salad and rolls. I had seconds on everything, although I had to skip the salmon because I’m supposedly allergic to it. I say “supposedly” because I’ve never had a reaction to it, but my allergist says I’m allergic and with a $100 emergency room co-pay, I’m disinclined to try to prove my allergist wrong.

Today I ran a few errands, got my hair cut, and did a workout at the gym. It was nice to be there when it's not so crowded. I suspect that once we get a few weeks further into the semester, it will be like this most of the time. The start of the school year at a university rec center is much like the weeks right after New Year’s in a regular gym—lots of wannabes, but few who will actually stay the course. It’s sad that so few people are willing to make even a 30 minute per day commitment to the only body they’ll ever have, but so it is.

Back to work tomorrow. After last week, I’m half-tempted to say I’m sick and not go in. But that won’t help anything and will actually make things worse. Besides, I’m enough of a believer in karma to think that if you use up sick leave when you don’t need it, you’ll be sure to get sick for real afterwards and wish you still had the paid hours available and the good will of your co-workers.

Boy Who Cried Wolf and all that.

And in other news, an old friend of mine from my restaurant biz days made a short film about the demolition of Astroworld. It was shown at the River Oaks theater this past Saturday, but I only found out about it today. Info about the video and a chance to view it online is here. I'm a little disappointed by the way the video shows on my computer (too dark), but no point complaining about free stuff.

Recent Workouts
Sunday: 2 hour spin
Monday: 35 minute elliptical, 5 minute row machine, 20 minute strength training

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Week From Hell

What a week! All kinds of crap went down at the office and after awhile it began to feel like I was getting blamed for everything, whether I had anything to do with it or not. When I finally left the office Friday at a few minutes past four (I’m supposed to work 7am – 4pm), one of my assistants gave me a big smile and said, “It’s nice to see you leaving on time for once!”

I suspect I jinxed myself on Monday by pondering the Medieval concept of the wheel of fortune while walking to work. Unlike Post-Enlightenment folk, who think of time as linear, Pre-Industrial people saw time as a big circle. Everything from the seasons to one’s personal fortunes go up, then down, then up again in an endlessly turning wheel. To the Pre-Industrial mind, there’s no shame in being down and not much glory in being up because the wheel will always turn again. This is in contrast to our own concept of linear time where down isn’t "normal" and if things aren’t getting constantly better and better, something’s wrong.

So I jinxed myself by thinking about how much healthier the wheel of fortune concept is, and found myself at the bottom of the wheel all week. But things were on the upswing by Friday, I’ve got a three day weekend and a short week next week, so I’m optimistic.

I was able to get in a workout every day this week, and I’m doing a little pondering on how I want to modify my routine to take full advantage of all the great opportunities I have here. I’ve been finding the rec center pool tempting. But because chlorine messes up my nose for hours afterwards, I would want to swim in the mornings, which would involve a change to my work schedule. I can do that, I just need to decide and commit. I also need to get onto a weight training schedule, either in my studio here or at the rec center. Once again, it’s a matter of making the plan and implementing it.

I’m excited by all the options I have here, and I think now that August is over I’ll be able to make a proper routine and get settled into it. For good or ill, I’m a creature of habit and I don’t like spending a long time unsettled like this. A month of chaos is quite long enough for me.

In other news, Dan and I did a little shopping for the house today. Dan wanted to buy something to put our umbrellas in, and I wanted patio furniture. We ended up with a lot of stuff, including a leather desk chair for me, but no umbrella stand or patio furniture. Dan was grumbling about this as we were leaving the parking lot of the last store we went to and I said, “See how addictive it is to shop?”

Just at that moment a truck went past, loaded down with furniture. Dan gestured toward it and said, “Yeah. I bet he only went out for a pair of socks!”

Cracked. Me. Up.

And finally, my edited-for-print version of my Diana’s Diary fiction blog finally arrived! I blogged about it here.

We’re going to a barbeque in Friendswood tomorrow if it doesn’t rain. And I've got no plans at all for Monday. Yay!

I hope all my friends are having a relaxing Labor Day Weekend!

This Week’s Workouts
Monday: 30 minute elliptical, 5 minute rowing machine
Tuesday: 30 minute spin, 15 minute strength training
Wednesday: 30 minute elliptical, 5 minute rowing machine
Thursday: 3.5 mile run
Friday: scheduled rest day
Saturday: 12 mile run

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Done!

We got the last things out of the apartment and the storage unit today. It had seemed like it might be a big job, but it wasn’t at all. Either that or we’re just getting used to it by now.

While I went for a morning run, Dan took a big donation of clothes and books to Salvation Army. Then while I did a final wipe-down of things, he went to borrow a pickup from one of his professor friends. We loaded the pickup with the items in storage we were keeping, at which point Dan told me he didn’t want to keep the loveseat after all. I was annoyed because, what, now I’m supposed to buy seating for the garage apartment? But I was at that stage where I would do just about anything to avoid an argument so I told him to go on and donate it, if that was what he wanted to do.

So while he went to give Salvation Army the loveseat and bring the last of our boxes and a small table to the new place, I grabbed a few things and went home.

I was exhausted and hungry, so I was glad to get cleaned up, go have Indian buffet, and take a long nap.

This evening I went back to the old place for a few final things from the patio and for the cleaning supplies.

And that was it!

Dan wants to vacuum the carpet one last time tomorrow, so if we can get apartment management to do the walk-through, so much the better. Turn in the keys and be done with it. Otherwise we’ll have to schedule a time during the week for that, and it’s not easy for me to get away from the office at fiscal year end.

But regardless, there is nothing more that needs doing there. I’m so glad!

Tonight I cleared a space for a morning workout in the studio/garage apartment. I’ve got a lot of things to sort through back there, so it won’t be how I want it until mid-September or maybe even October. But I don’t care. I’m done with the old place and my new life can finally begin!


















This is in the study, which also doubles as a spare bedroom.

Today’s Workout
11 mile run

Friday, August 24, 2007

Glimpses of Normality

I’m starting to see glimmers of what my normal life here will be. I was able to work out after work on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, which was very nice. On Monday and Thursday I went to the fancy rec center. On Wednesday I ran to the rec center via an indirect one-mile route, did some speed drills on the quarter-mile indoor track, and then went home. Very nice.

Dan spent two days with one of his techie friends who lives a couple blocks over, getting our internet stabilized, so hopefully my connectivity problems are over. And today I was able to combine dropping off a completed project to the CIO with my walk home.

I went to our storage unit twice this week and there was a lot more in there than I had realized. I think we’re set for this weekend to be it, though. We’ve got a pickup we can borrow, so we should be able to pull up to the storage unit, load up and go. We need to do a run of stuff to the Salvation Army, one final wipe-down on the old place, and I think that will be it. If possible, I’d like to do a walk-through and turn in the keys on Sunday, but we’ll see how things go. Bottom line, I’m ready to be done with the place so I can get on with my life.

By this time next week, I’ll have a three-day weekend ahead of me and no more ties to the old apartment.

It’s about time!



Monday, August 20, 2007

A Bunny in the Study

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Almost Done!

While Dan did the windows, I did the floors at the old place. You can now eat off those floors, although I don’t particularly recommend it. We’ve brought over all the stuff we’re keeping except the patio furniture, which we'll bring over this week. We’ve also got bags and bags of stuff we’re giving to charity lined up along one wall in the living room. I’ll have to go over sometime this week and take those up the road to the Salvation Army store.

And that’s it on the apartment. We’ve got a table and loveseat in storage to bring over to the garage apartment, and I think there’s some books there, too. Not only can I clothe a third-world country with what I’m giving away, I could probably stock a few libraries too. Sheesh. But I guess if I’m going to collect things, books and clothes aren’t so bad. At least they’re useful and can be easily given away.

I’m rapidly working through the boxes in the house. There are no more boxes to unpack in the kitchen, and only two remaining in the living room. I got the shoes and winter closet organized, and got the bathroom organized for good measure. I also bought some rain boots today, so I’m ready for rainy days now. No more walking around puddles—I’ll just go right through them like a duck!

I’ve still got a lot of outstanding things to do, including getting my asthma meds renewed, and putting a new battery in the RX-7 and selling it. I want to do these things this week, if at all possible with fiscal year-end at the office making my life hell.

But I’m seeing glimpses of the light at the end of the tunnel. My plan is to be done with everything associated with the move by the end of the month, and I’m right on track. Most of the time my attitude remains upbeat, although there are moments when it feels overwhelming. I’m finally getting caught up on my sleep again though, which helps a lot.

It also helps that I’ve been able to work out every other day or so, I’ve kept up with my fiction blog postings, and I’ve kept my nightly routine of yogi tea while reading my friends’ blogs and working on another fiction project I have going on. My progress has slowed considerably, but I do something on my creative projects each night. It keeps me grounded and reminds me why I’m doing all this. After all, the whole point of doing the unpleasant stuff in life is to get through to the good stuff.


















Part of my new kitchen. I just love those glass bricks!

The Move - One Week Later

One week in my new home, and in spite of all the move-related work still ongoing, I love it!

We’ve got all but a couple final things out of the old apartment, and after we scrub the floors and windows, we'll be ready to turn in the key.

Here at the new place, we’re still putting things away and trying to figure out what we want on the walls. I think we’ll end up buying a few things for the living room, and we’ll need another bookcase, but there’s nothing we need urgently.














I spent a couple hours tonight working on the garage apartment/exercise room. I didn’t realize until this move just how much exercise equipment I had! Bikes, weights, stretch tubing, bottles, gels, camelbaks, spare tubes, kickboards, fins, an aquajog belt, tennis rackets, boxing gloves, and scads of exercise books and spin videos. Then there’s all the camping and hiking equipment. It’s all got to fit somehow, and we still haven’t brought over the loveseat from storage so Dan can also use the room as a music room. I sure hope our finances never require we rent the apartment out, because I don’t know where we’ll put all that stuff in the house!

I love my new “commute” to the office, which gets me about two miles of walking each day. Even rainy days aren’t a big deal. I just take my ginormous umbrella. The other day there was flooding around town and we were advised not to leave campus due to high water. I was stuck at the office anyway, getting my boss ready for a meeting, but it was cool to know that I could go home anytime I was willing to brave a few puddles. Street flooding and traffic jams were of no concern to me!

I met my UPS guy and made arrangements for him to leave things on my porch if I’m not home. When I’m home, though, I can just leave the blinds open in my study and see him. I can also watch people walking home from their university jobs, just like I do. When I go for a run in the neighborhood, people smile and wave hello. Everyone either knows each other or figures it’s just a matter of time, since most people who live here work for the university. It’s a nice, cozy feeling.

I didn’t do much this week in the way of workouts because I’ve been tired, we went to the Rush concert on Tuesday, and I’ve had a lot to do around here. But I think next week I’ll be able to start settling into a schedule. I’m a creature of habit and my tolerance for disruption has a shelf life. I'm committed to August being a chaotic month, but I'll be glad when things quiet down and I'm back into a routine.

Recent Workouts
Monday: 30 minute run
Tuesday: no workout, but lots of walking
Wednesday: no workout- too tired
Thursday: 30 minute spin
Friday: scheduled rest day
Saturday: 10 mile run

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Moving Sucks

Well, we've still got some stuff left at the old place, but it's mostly little stuff and most of it is staged in the center of the living room for easy pickup-and-go. The bathroom and kitchen have been scrubbed, but we only made a token effort on the carpet. After 7.5 years it needs replacing, so no point doing more than a basic once-over.

Here at the new place, I've unpacked most of our stuff, but a few important things are still MIA, and it looks like we'll need some more pictures. I still need to hang the blinds in the laundry area, and my studio/exercise room is still just a place where we toss stuff we don't know what else to do with. But things are coming together nicely and the bedroom, study and living room have unbelievably soothing vibes. This whole house has a peaceful feel to it, in fact. It's intelligently designed, it's always cool, even during the current heat wave, and it just feels right in every way a house can feel right.

Tomorrow I'm going to try going to the university rec center after work and see how that plan works-- walk to work, exercise right after, then walk home.

I just hope I'm not too tired to work out. I've been going non-stop all weekend, up early, working into the wee hours, not even having time to eat. What's really scary is that we were living in 700 square feet, and we've filled 1300 square feet with furniture and stuff, no problem. Granted, the 700 sq/ft apartment was smaller than the duplex we had been in before, and we've continued to add to and upgrade our furniture so we'd be ready when the right place came along. But still, I'm thinking we defied at least three important laws of physics where we were living before, because I don't see how we got all this stuff in there.

But I shouldn't be surprised I defied the laws of physical space, since I've been a perpetual motion machine all weekend, which is also a supposed impossibility.

Doing the impossible is exhausting.

Pics tomorrow, if I've got energy left to take them!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Waiting...


















Waiting for Pixel to come explore the new house with me. What a scaredy-cat!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Moved In!

Well, we're mostly moved in. There's still a lot of small stuff at the old place, and of course I keep losing track of things here at the house. Right now I can't seem to find my asthma meds-- a bit of a problem, since I've been unable to breathe properly most of the day and now that it's bedtime, I know I'll have a hard time of it if I can't find them.

The cat has so far refused to come out of his carrier. Tidbit is a little more adventurous and has been poking her head in from time to time and stomping her foot, as if to say, "Hurry up!" But Pixel takes his own sweet time in everything.

More tomorrow, and pics coming soon!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

All Packed...














... and ready to GO!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Best-Laid Plans

Well, I knew something had to go wrong.

I confirmed the cutover dates on the electricity over and over. I made sure the water and gas switched over to us on the right day. I confirmed and re-confirmed the day and time Evil Comcast could come out and get our cable hooked up for internet access.

But the phone and DSL at the old place? Surely two calls were enough, right?

Uh, no.

I got home today to no internet, no phone, and nothing they can do about it. Oh, the lady who I spoke to was very apologetic about the confusion and wanted to help, but the best she could do was turn on the phone sometime Thursday. DSL restoration needed a three day lead time, and we're out on Friday.

Not worth the hassle.

I don't know how the phone people could've gotten so confused with my instructions to cut off old service on the 14th and start the new on the 9th with an overlap period where I would have service at both places.

I'm less upset about it now than I was earlier this evening, though. We had to bring some stuff to the house tonight, so it was no big deal to drop in at the office and get online. I've got a project I'm working on at home, so I'll have something to keep me busy while I have my evening tea. And the next 48 hours will be pretty serious crunch time on the move.

I have a pic of Tid, all packed up and ready to go, but it's in the camera at the old place, and I'm here at the office, so it'll have to wait until tomorrow.

If this is the only thing that goes wrong or gets confused, I'll be beyond grateful.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Garage Sale Run

After checking Craig’s List for area garage sales, I picked a few within the same general area, mapped a route with Google Maps Pedometer and set out this morning to see what I could find for the house. I was carrying $70 cash, a check, ID, and business cards. My plan was that if I saw something cheap that I liked, I would buy it, leave a card and arrange pickup after my run. If the item was expensive, I would pay by check or give a cash down payment, leave a card and make the same arrangement for pickup.

It was a brilliant plan and I felt sooooo smart!

Too bad the sales mostly sucked.

The first one I went to wasn’t on my list—I was just trotting along and saw a sign. There wasn’t much there except clothes and dishes, both of which I’ve got plenty of.

The first sale from my list was deep in the Rice Village area. The lady had an intriguing selection old books, some free, some only one or two dollars apiece. I was tempted by the 1896 encyclopedia set, but I envisioned the look on Dan’s face if I told him I had acquired yet another large, heavy non-essential to lug to our new home, so I passed. I think I’m going to regret it, too. Since there was nothing else that caught my eye, I went on my way.

The next sale was in the Museum District. It had some nice stuff, but once again nothing of any real use for my house. There were lots of lace curtains still in their original packages, but I’m not a lace girl. The grill they were selling was of a sort I might’ve been interested in for myself, but I had a vision of Dan getting manly and informing me that now that we had a proper yard and deck he wasn’t messing with no wimpy girlie grill. I found a heavenly vintage black ‘50s dress with taffeta underskirt, but I’m on a clothes-buying moratorium and besides, I already have a couple of vintage ‘50s dresses with taffeta underskirts that I don’t wear. Getting another would give Dan an excuse to roll his eyes and point out that I’ve got enough clothes to outfit a small country, so why do I need yet another dress?

On to the next sale.

The last one had a few electronics that caught my eye, and some nice pictures. But I think I have enough pictures, and until I move in I won’t know what I really need. As for electronics, I really do have enough. And by now I was dripping sweat so I didn’t want to pick over the clothes. There was a floor lamp that was kind of cool, but it didn’t look like it would fit my décor. I did end up buying a small rug, though, which I think will look exactly right in my kitchen. And for $5, if it doesn’t work after all, who cares?

After I paid for my rug, I got into a chat with a member of the civic association for the neighborhood putting on the sale. He and his partner are active in the community, fighting the developers who are indiscriminately tearing down the nice older homes of the Montrose area and putting up cheap overpriced construction in their stead. Boy, did we have a lot to talk about! It’s heartening to see people fighting for weird, funky Montrose, where you can be whoever you want to be, and it’s all cool.

I ran back to the bayou trails via Montrose, which is something I’ve never done in all these years I’ve been running through the neighborhood. I thought about how I’ll miss living in this area I’ve called home for more than two decades. But a house like the one I’m buying would cost four times as much in Montrose or the Heights. Out of my league, on my university management pay. I won’t be far away, though. And my little university faculty neighborhood has that same Montrose/Heights feel that I love—a sense of appreciation for the past and a willingness to live and let live.

Just before I got to the bayou trails, I stopped at a favorite cemetery on Montrose. It’s old and tucked in a funny little urban corner, like the cemeteries of New England. There’s a grave I like to visit, of two teenage girls who were killed in the Galveston Hurricane of 1900. They were sisters, one almost sixteen, the other just turned thirteen. Their double stone has a poem on it about the storm that killed them, and how what was supposed to be a fun weekend holiday became an early death. I don’t know why I like this grave so much, but I’ve visited it off and on for as long as I’ve lived in the area, and I took flowers on the hundred-year anniversary of the storm.

I finished my run feeling like I was wrapping up a chapter in my life. I’ll still have close ties to Montrose and the Heights, and I’ll still do my shopping here and some of my running. But it’ll now be an area I visit, not the area I call home. The way it’s been trending toward cheap gentrification and phoniness over the last few years, there’s been less and less of what I moved here for in the first place. But people like the guy I talked to at the garage sale are fighting back, saving the old, the funky and the unique.

I hope they succeed. And it will be an interesting adventure to see where this next chapter in my life takes me.

Friday, August 03, 2007

My House - First Things

Busy, busy week! But in spite of all the late hours and hassles, I was able to get some things done for next weekend’s move. On Thursday my dad and brother came to my office around lunchtime and we went and saw the house. My father liked it a lot and that made me happy. He’s not good at faking enthusiasm, so I could tell from the way he gushed over it that he was in love.

And so are Dan and I.

Today I took a mid-day break to do a little shopping for the house, since there just wasn’t any other time to do it and our PeopleSoft servers were down anyway, limiting my effectiveness at the office. I bought rugs, blinds, a new shower curtain, a floor lamp and other things, then after I finished up my day at the office, I met Dan at the house. We had a great time putting things in place. Even with just a few rugs and small items, it felt like home. I was ready to go back to the apartment, throw everything into boxes and finish the move right then and there!

But of course that wasn’t possible. A cleaning service is going to give the place a thorough scrub-down next week, the evil bastards from Comcast will get us set up with internet access on Thursday, and our furniture will be moved in on Friday.

And that should do it! I’d like to have everything at the new place Friday and not have to return on Saturday for any stray stuff. My experience is that it’s just a lot easier to do a move that way—everything at once and be done with it.

With the new place feeling so right and so much like home already, I hope for this to be my final move, ever. For me, this is just that kind of house and that kind of community.

In other news, I saw my dad's Spain pictures last weekend and as soon as I have time to transfer them from the laptop to the desktop, I'll post a few. He had a fabulous time, and I'm so happy to see him doing fun things for himself, finally. He's always worked hard and lived frugally. He's earned the privilege of living a few dreams!