Saturday, March 31, 2007

Rainy Day

When I went to bed Friday night (okay, Saturday morning), said 30% chance of rain until about 9 am. So I set the alarm for 6:00, figuring I would try to get in some running before the forecasted thunderstorms arrived.

No such luck. When I shut off the alarm, there was lightning flashing outside, and a few minutes later, a storm blew in with big gusts of wind-driven rain. I re-set the alarm for 30 minutes. 6:30, and no better. By 7:00, it was just a steady rain, though. Good enough for walking to the gym, at least.

So it was an elliptical/treadmill sort of morning.

In other news, Dan and I are planning our vacation for the end of May. This will allow me to attend a weekend camp in New Mexico, similar to the one in Marble Falls. I’ll also get my vacation out of the way early, so I can be on hand to cover the summer months at the office. Dan can also take summer school (which begins May 29) and hopefully graduate in December. So an earlier vacation than usual will work well in many respects, although I’m already stressing about all the things that need to happen before we leave.

Why is it so stressful to go on vacation? Something seems very wrong about that.

But there’s yet another reason why I think an early summer vacation will turn out well. By August, probably no one will remember Dan and I took our vacation in May, and we can have a long weekend somewhere, like maybe Galveston, Bolivar, or someplace like that.

Ever since I took the food dehydration class at camp a few weeks ago, I’ve been experimenting with my new dehydrator. The dehydrated cantaloupe has been a hit with Dan. I load up all five trays and when it’s done, I put the slices into baggies for us to take to work. My first attempt at zucchini chips was a disaster—too much salt and spice. But I got it right on the second try. And I’m going to try some fruit roll-ups next.

I’m thinking of joining the local organic produce co-op. I had been reluctant to do so before, because you sign up to get a certain amount each week, and you get whatever is fresh and in season. So I could easily envision a scenario where I was getting something I didn’t have an immediate use for, and it would then go bad. But now that I can put the extra fruits and veggies in the dehydrator and store them for later, the co-op might be a good idea.

My next kitchen appliance purchase will probably be a vacuum sealer. Apparently if you dehydrate something and vacuum seal it, you can store it almost forever. I’m not so interested in forever as I am in having good food for snacks and to take on long car trips, camping, and the like. The biggest frustration for me in traveling is the struggle to keep a somewhat clean diet on the road. I always come home from vacation craving a really good salad!

Yeah, I’m weird.

Recent Workouts
Monday: 4.5 mile run
Tuesday: 30 minute elliptical
Wednesday: 30 minute elliptical
Thursday: 45 minute spin
Friday: rest day
Saturday: 1 hour elliptical, 1 hour treadmill run, 10 minute stairmaster

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Xerox's Law

The higher one's grade or rank within a company, the lower one's competency with regard to removing paper jams, replacing toner, or even understanding how to use the copy machine at all.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Saturday Musings

Just an ordinary Saturday. Nothing to see here!

Since my hip has been bothering me more than usual this past week, I did 30 minutes on the elliptical trainer this morning and a shorter run than usual. I ended up with about the same cardio as if I had run 14 miles, but I only had to subject my well-taped hip to 11. I felt fine during the run, but the hip has been a little naggy tonight. I’m thinking of staying taped up all the time, per the correct kinesio taping technique. Then maybe I could actually get over this thing.

Or not. I have no idea, really, except that my attempts to get it fixed by a so-called professional have done nothing but rob me of time and money (co-pays add up fast), while completely failing to resolve the actual problem.

In fact, given the way professionals always seem to fix problems I don’t know I have, while never fixing the ones I go to them for, I might be going about this the wrong way. If I were to go to a physical therapist complaining about, say, my foot, would they fix my hip? Something to ponder!

We’re having an interesting absenteeism problem at the office. Out of seventeen of us, we currently have one in ICU, another on extended sick leave, another just back from three months of extended leave for depression, one out on maternity leave, another pregnant, one with severe health problems that limit the work she can do, one whose duties have been curtailed after she pawned a university computer, and two new mommies who are frequently out with childcare issues.

Only the four of us in management and four others show up reliably, and of the four others, three have very specific and narrowly defined duties. So that leaves one low-level generalist and us four managers who can be counted on to show up every day, ready to do any sort of task that needs doing.


Uber-boss asked in an email Friday if we wanted a temp. I had to restrain myself from emailing back that hell no, we don’t want a temp. We want a big bowl at the front door, full of free vitamins, antibiotics, contraceptives, and St John’s Wort, underneath a sign saying “Thou Shalt Not Steal.”

Today’s Workouts
30 minute elliptical, 11 mile run

Friday, March 23, 2007

Haunted House

I talked on the phone with my mom earlier this week. She recently spent a week at the New Mexico house with Dad, and she was excited to tell me that she felt my grandmother’s presence there.

Mom has always claimed to sense spirits and things, but I thought it was just part of her drama queen nature. This time though, I found myself wondering if she really does pick up on things, because Dan swears there are spirits at the New Mexico house. And I know Dan senses things (whether they’re ghosts or not, I can’t say), because of some strange things that have happened over the years.

Another post for another time, perhaps.

But about my mother’s phone call and her experience at the New Mexico house. . .

What struck me about Mom’s assertion was that it put me in mind of a strange experience I had when Dan and I were out there last summer. We were at the house alone for two days before my father came home, and I had an uncharacteristic energy slump. From the moment we walked in the door, all I wanted to do was eat and sleep. Anything else was a chore. I wasn’t sick, and I hadn’t felt tired on any other part of our trip, not even hiking in the mountains. This was something different from anything I had ever felt before. It was a complete lack of energy that made it hard to do anything. I had to constantly fight the sense I was moving through something thick and sticky, like molasses, and no amount of rest, coffee, and good food could fix it.

This lasted until the moment my father returned home, at which point my energy level bounced back to its normal level. We stayed up talking until 3:00 am, and I could’ve gone on longer. I had a nice run in the morning, and I felt fine for the rest of our trip.

Supposedly, ghosts take energy from the living. And since I wouldn’t know a ghost if it sat on the end of my nose, I’m guessing that the household spirits (if they exist) were feeding off my energy, checking up on me or trying to get my attention, to no avail. Dan says the spirits are definitely there and that they come around to keep an eye on things. So perhaps they just wanted to make sure Dan and I were okay and left when my father showed up, figuring their work was done.

According to Mom, my father believes in the ghosts, too. This is odd, since my father is a practical sort, like me. But Mom swears that when she told him Grandma was around, he said, “I know.”

So maybe I have a haunted house in my family. If so, it’s a benevolent haunting—just nice family members checking up, making sure everyone is okay. But still, if I feel inexplicably depleted next time I go out there, I may have to do something about it. Maybe I'll ask the ghosts I'm not entirely sure I believe in to either show themselves or quit stealing my energy.

Yeah, I know it's weird, but I know what I feel. I've got no problem with the idea of friendly ghosts. But if they're leaving me exhausted, that's not a nice thing to do. Oh, and another thing-- during that time we were alone at the house, I slammed my hand in the truck door by mistake. It was late at night, with the nearest emergency facility at least fifteen miles away. I didn't get so much as a bruise. It seemed like just a lucky break at the time, but now I find myself wondering.

Today's Workout
30 minute spin

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Gym Poseurs

Men: If you’re making loud grunting and strangling noises as you work out on the weight machines, you’re a LOSER. That goes double if you drop your weight afterwards, rather than set it quietly back into place. If you have to drop it each and every time, then it was too heavy for you to begin with.

If you think people are impressed by all your noisy carryings-on, guess again. Some of us know a lot more about weight lifting than you, and we’re laughing at you, not with you. Real weight lifters use free weights and don’t have to bellow like an extra in a caveman movie every time they lift more than twenty pounds.

Ladies: Talk on the phone or use the cardio equipment. If you feel you must do both, choose a time when no one else is waiting to use the equipment. Some of us are trying to get a real workout, okay? And it’s hard to believe you’re serious when you’re giggling and chatting while ambling along on the elliptical machine at, what was that. . . 30 steps per minute?

Get off the machine and come back when you’re ready to put the phone away and sweat a little. Okay, honey?

Yeah, gym poseurs really get on my nerves some days. Why is it so hard for some people to come in quietly, do an honest workout without making a big production of it, and go home?

Recent Workouts
Monday: 30 minute elliptical
Tuesday: 4 mile run
Wednesday: 30 minute elliptical, 10 minute stairmaster

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Uh, Tidbit... where's your other ear, hon?

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Sunday Update

Okay, I didn’t skin the cat. He’s still fuzzy.

This morning I took the comforter to the Laundromat to use one of their big front-loading washers. Since the Laundromat is in a nice neighborhood (trust me on this), I went for a run during the wash cycle, came back and started it drying, and went and ran some more. In all, I ran for an hour. Not bad, although I really hadn’t planned to run today, and it did my hip no favors. It kept me from having any wasted time today though, and that was a good thing.

Yesterday I ran 14 miles and it was a good solid run in nice cool weather. Not much happened, other than that I got to see a wreck. I hadn’t seen one in awhile, and since the ambulances drove off without lights and sirens going, I don’t think anyone was hurt. The roadside garden at Memorial and Chimney Rock is doing very well, and the azaleas are in bloom everywhere.

Most of the mud has dried up after last week’s rains. I went for a run on Thursday down by the bayou and ended up wishing I hadn’t. The bayou had been high earlier in the week and had left behind a thick, slimy mud that was so slippery that one wrong move would send your feet sliding out from underneath you. It was dangerous, so I did more walking than I would’ve liked. I don’t know what I was thinking running down there so soon after all that rain!

I’m disappointed to find that it’s already Sunday. I had Friday off from work due to Spring Break at the university where I work. I enjoyed getting an extra day in which to do things, but these little breaks never seem long enough. From here, it’s straight on through to Memorial Day without a break, unless I choose to take sick or vacation time.

Recent Workouts
Today: one hour run
Saturday: 14 mile run
Friday: rest day
Thursday: 4 mile run
Wednesday: 45 minute spin
Tuesday: 3.5 mile run

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Ways to Skin a Cat

How many are there? And how many are legally justifiable when one pukes on the comforter? Does it affect my legal standing that he did it after all the safe, clean Laundromats are closed, leaving me with no way to wash said comforter tonight, so I’ll have to try to make do with… what? What can take the place of a nice thick, soft comforter at night?

So just how many ways can I skin this particular cat? It’s not like he can make it up to me by taking the comforter to the Laundromat for me tomorrow. Yes, that’s just how I want to spend my time tomorrow—hanging out at the Laundromat.

Gonna go kill the cat now.

Monday, March 12, 2007

My Weekend at Camp

I drove up to camp on Friday morning, arriving just after 10 am. Perfect timing. I got checked in, got my cabin and bunk assignment, got my things unpacked and went to orientation. It was all going very well.

Then we had our first meal. Cheeseburgers and fries.

Sorry, no can do. I don’t eat meat on non-training days, and I won’t eat deep-fried foods. It’s been so long since I’ve eaten fried foods that they quite literally send me heaving into the toilet. Not to mention that they just taste nasty when they haven’t been part of your diet since high school (22 years ago, but who’s counting?).

So I had some fruit and yogurt, and ate a Clif bar back at my cabin. Little did I realize that these would become the three staples of my weekend diet.

After lunch was my first class: food dehydration. It was great—even better than I had expected, and we got to have samples, thank goodness! Real food—zucchini, sweet potatoes, soup, and banana pudding. I seriously considered offering to buy the food dehydration instructor’s teaching materials!

We had free time after class, and I took some photos and tried to get online. There was no wireless access and my laptop couldn’t get a dial tone off the land line in my cabin, even though I’m 99% certain I had it set up correctly. I think they did something to the phones or the lines to keep campers (who are usually kids) from being able to do exactly what I was trying to do. Oh well. I was supposed to be enjoying nature, not reading my email.

Supper was baked salmon. Nice, except that I’m allergic to salmon, or so says my allergist, and I wasn’t about to test her assertion 15 miles from the nearest emergency facility. But I ate the cole slaw and roll, had some salad (iceburg lettuce—ugh), and had some more yogurt.

In the evening there was a presentation about someone’s trip to Australia. The pics were lovely, but I had only slept four hours the night before, so after awhile I started getting sleepy and had to leave the room for some fresh air. I was glad when the presentation was over. A group of us went into a field with the astronomy instructor and looked at the stars. It was fun, and it was such a clear night we could see nebulas and the rings on Saturn. But I started getting cold, and I was still sleepy. So I went back to my cabin, had another Clif bar, and did some writing.

As I was getting ready for bed we had a little excitement. A woman showed up late and stole someone’s bunk. She just took the other person’s things off the bed, laid down her own pillows and blankets, got into her pajamas and went to bed! And to make things worse, when the person who had previously claimed the bed found out, the interloper copped an attitude, then ran off in tears to get the camp organizer. Goldilocks was escorted to another place to sleep, but the incident left us all weirded out.

Saturday breakfast was omelets and hash browns. Too much grease, too early in the morning. There was cereal, but it was all of the sugared variety. There was no soy milk, and regular, un-yogurted milk in any but the smallest quantities messes with me. So I had more yogurt, some coffee, and some fruit. It’s similar to what I would’ve normally eaten, anyway. I don’t do big breakfasts.

My Saturday morning class was basket-making. This was an alternate for me, but I’m so glad I went! In just a couple of hours I made a lovely basket to bring home.

Lunch was ham and turkey on a croissant, with a candy bar for dessert-- more foods I wouldn’t normally eat. But lunch was followed by free time, so it was a good opportunity to go for a run. I gave away my Hershey bar, then put my sandwich, a yogurt and a can of V8 in the fridge for later. Then I ran for an hour.

It was noon and temps were in the 80s, with no shade. But I like being warm, so it was okay with me. I followed a county road until it dead-ended, and then made up the rest of my run by finding another county road by a historic church and cemetery.

I took these pictures on Sunday when a storm was moving in. It was sunny on the day of my run.

I got back to camp, retrieved my lunch and took it to my cabin to eat while getting ready for archery class. Problem was that I was running very late. It was 1:36, archery started at 2:00, and I was drenched and stinky. I ate two bites of the sandwich, decided I didn’t care for it (I don’t like American cheese or nitrate-laden lunchmeat), so I showered, dressed, fixed my damp hair as best I could while eating yogurt, then ran off to archery, eating an apple along the way.

Archery was a blast! I did badly on my first round because my dominant eye is the one that is so severely nearsighted that it can’t be corrected to 20/20. I have an astigmatism, too. But I gradually learned that if I aimed for the rump of the foam deer, I could hit it in the shoulder nearly every time. Weird. But whatever works, right? One of my classmates hit the deer between the eyes. I also found a really cool old-fashioned arrow in the woods. It’s made of wood, with split turkey feathers lashed on with sinew.

I hung out with some of my new friends after that, waiting for dinnertime. They served fried chicken tenders with green beans and mashed potatoes with gravy. I told the server to skip the gravy, and I gave away the chicken tenders. (Deep fried foods make me ill, remember?) But the green beans and potatoes were good. The roll was white bread and bland, but edible. I asked for a second helping of potatoes, had some more iceburg salad and two yogurts.

Our evening options were a concert in a local cavern, a bluegrass concert on the lake, or a night hike. I opted for the night hike and had a great time. By now I had made a lot of new friends, which made everything more fun. And yes, they were as disappointed with the food as I was, although they weren’t taking their protest to the level of actually refusing to eat it. That was probably because they lacked Clif bars and they were taking their culinary stand against the yogurt, which contained high fructose corn syrup, whereas I figured since my other options were fish allergies or grease that would make me puke, corn syrup didn’t seem so bad.

I had another Clif bar when I got back to the cabin and hung out late on the front porch and then inside in the common room visiting with my friends. After that I spent a semi-sleepless night trying not to kill the snorers in the room. This was serious, bring-the-house-down snoring. I was wearing 33-decible earplugs, a fleece headband and my hoodie jacket in an effort to drown out the noise, all to no avail. Lucky for the snorers, I was too tired to cause them actual physical harm. But seriously, it was bad.

The next morning I didn’t even bother looking at the breakfast tacos and danishes, although I was told later they were good. I skipped the sugared cereals of course, and had more yogurt and some cantaloupe. And coffee. Lots of coffee.

My morning class was horseback riding.

We focused on things I hadn’t ever had a chance to do before, like grooming and saddling our horses. It was fun, and we went for a long trail ride that include lots of tricky terrain. My horse was determined to eat wherever she saw green grass, so I spent a lot of time having to jerk her head up. But she loved to trot, and I was surprised at how natural it felt to work with her. I’m well-read when it comes to horses, but I have little hands-on experience. My only difficulty was that I can’t post a trot very well and consequently bruised my behind. Fun stuff, when you’ve got a 4+ hour drive ahead of you.

There was no lunch on Sunday. No great loss. I had a Clif bar. And then I loaded up and headed home. I drove through rain almost to Giddings, but it was clear the rest of the way to Houston.

In sum, I loved the camp, the people and the activities, but the food left a lot to be desired. What kind of idiot wouldn’t guess that out of a hundred urban women who have signed up for an active weekend out in nature, a sizeable number might want healthy food options? All of my new friends were complaining too, so I was hardly the only one. Would it have been so hard to boil up a batch of penne and offer a choice of marinara or meat sauce? How about oatmeal as a breakfast choice? It doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive to offer healthy meals. I’m sure the baked salmon they served (and I was allergic to) was more expensive than red beans and rice would’ve been.

So next time I do one of these (and since there are other activities I haven’t tried, there will be a next time) I’m taking my own meals. Dehydrated. I know how to do it because I took the class!

One other note about this weekend. I read about the drought in the hill country last summer when wildfires were threatening the area north of Austin, but since the issue dropped out of the news, I thought the drought was over. Well, it’s still going on, and it’s bad.

Normally the Texas hill country is green and full of wildflowers of every color this time of year. Instead it was brown, full of dead trees, dead or absent grass, blowing dust and hardly a flower in sight.

The hills were sometimes so bare of vegetation that I could see the caliche. Even some of the nopales were black and dead. That’s some drought that can kill a cactus!

So I was glad that it was raining when I headed home. I hope it helps and that there’s more on the way.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Camp for Bunnies

My human went to camp!

What am I supposed to do with this?

Nice basket you made. Can I eat it?

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Travel Plans

I'm off to Marble Falls in the Texas Hill Country on Friday! I'm going for a three-day workshop where I'll be working on some of the skills my fictional characters have, such as horsemanship and archery. I'm also looking forward to doing some running up there. It's beautiful country and some of the wildflowers should be in bloom, although it's still a little early for bluebonnets.

I was having trouble making up my mind if I should go up Thurdsay evening or Friday morning, and which route to take. But I've concluded that I'll have to deal with traffic, no matter what I do, and I'd rather have an extra day here at home to get my stuff together.

So Friday morning it is. Bright and early, too! But I've decided that if I get there a little late, so what? At most I might miss part of the optional orientation. Big deal. This is supposed to be fun and relaxing, a nice change of scenery and of activities from what I normally do on the weekend.

So I'm not going to sweat the small stuff.

I'll have my laptop and camera, so I'll post pics if I can!

Recent Workouts
Monday: 30 minute elliptical
Tuesday: 45 minute spin
Wednesday: 3.5 mile run

Monday, March 05, 2007

Takes a Licking. . .

Last week I got fed up with quartz watches that are forever needing replacement batteries. I got on Ebay and for $6 bought a little wind up watch. It arrived in record time, as if the seller had psychically intuited my future purchase and already put it in the mail before I even bought it.

Upon receiving it, I wound it up, set the time, and started monitoring it. Other than Sunday, when I forgot to wind it, it keeps terrific time. And it’s so gosh-darn cute! It’s made of stainless steel with a white face, black numerals and a black strap, just like my stupid quartz watch that needs a new battery at least twice a year.

I’m not sure how old the watch is, but it’s a Timex and was listed on Ebay in the 1940-1969 category, making it at least almost as old as I am, if not a decade or two older. And still going strong!

We sure knew how to make things back in the day, didn’t we?

Sometimes old ways are best!

Recent Workouts
Sunday: 90 minute spin
Monday: 30 minute elliptical

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Spring Has Sprung

I woke up feeling good—not completely drained, like so many of the past Saturday mornings. Maybe I’m finally getting my energy back after the marathon, various winter illnesses, and finishing the daily-posting part of my fiction blog. I sleep more now. Not a lot more, but maybe it’s enough. Everyone’s sleep needs are different, and the traditional eight hours has always been a little much for me, leaving me sluggish and cranky. I seem to do better on about six.


Not much happened on today’s run, except that it’s definitely spring around here. The robins are bopping around in the grass, the woodpeckers are drumming away at the trees, the azaleas and crepe myrtles are in bloom, the banks of the bayou are thick with clover and dandelions, and squirrels are everywhere. All we need now are the bluebonnets!

When I checked before heading out, it said 46 degrees, but I think they were wrong. I was comfortable and at times even a little warm in my lightweight long-sleeved top and capri-length tights. Only the gusting wind kept me from getting hot.

My hip has been bothering me again. I think it’s tendonitis, because it’s so persistent. This has been going on now for, what, nearly two years? It really messes with my racing plans, especially with my desire to do more triathlons, since there’s no way I could properly tape myself up for the run after the swim and bike. And unless my hip and lower back are swaddled in kinesio tape, I can’t handle much running.

But not running is simply unacceptable as a lifestyle option. So it’s quite a dilemma.

I guess with the way I’m feeling tonight, it will be an indoor workout tomorrow. When the weather is this beautiful, I feel like it’s almost a sin to not spend some time outside, running around in what little bits of nature I can find. Just this past week it was warm enough for me to have my first midriff-baring run of the year. I think these runs get earlier and earlier in the season, and as always I felt a little exposed, after a couple months of being covered up. But I wasn’t the only runner out on the trails showing a little skin. I think all of us around here enjoy winter until Christmas is over and then we start looking around, thinking, “Okay, that was nice. Where’s spring?”

If you have the means to leave this part of the country and you don’t, it’s because on some level, you really do prefer to be warm. Which is perhaps why I’m sitting here with a blanket draped over my shoulders. My normal body temp is 97.4, not 98.6, which is probably why I’m not much bothered by heat, but the tiniest dip below 50 has me shivering.

I’m a warm-weather creature. And except for the inevitable final cold front which we can expect sometime this month, spring is here.

Bunny In a Box

We seem to have hit the mother lode...