Monday, December 29, 2008

Monday Bunday: Still Life

Still Life: Messy Rabbit with Walnut

Saturday, December 27, 2008

After Christmas

Not much going on around here, except for Cadbury playing with messy toys!

I got some things for Christmas that I had been wanting--new running shoes, a new spin video, and a breadmaker. The breadmaker is one I had selected after reading reviews on them. It's the Breadman TR875. It's a little pricey, but I've been wanting to do more with bread and this will eliminate all the tedious hand mixing. I really can't stand commercial bread (it tastes sour and chemically to me) and since I can buy five pounds of flour for the price of a single loaf of bread, it's crazy not to make my own. I'll be trying it out tomorrow or sometime during the upcoming week.

Christmas with my family went okay. It was a little fraught at times, but Dan and I got in and out in about four hours, which is pretty good, and we managed to avoid getting sucked into watching TV and movies. I don't know why my family is so screwed up, but they seem to think I want to get dressed up and drive all the way across town a video. Uh, no. If we're not going to talk to each other, listen to each other, and foster connections, I'm going home, thanks. I can watch a movie anywhere.

I did a 2.5 hour spin on Christmas day and still felt some lingering heaviness in my legs when I ran this morning. I only did fifteen miles, which should've been easy, but my body is long out of the habit of brick (bike-run) training and I suffered a fair bit for that Thursday workout. I'll probably compound the insult by trying out my new spin video tomorrow. Go for broke, right?

I have no big plans for this week, except to catch up on some sewing projects and housework. I finished the draft for my novel, so I don't even have a big writing project going on, just edits. It's a pretty clean draft and I expect to have it ready for beta readers pretty quickly. I have ideas for other writing projects, but I may do some short stories for a little while, just to give myself a break.

At any rate, I'm looking forward to a quiet week without a lot of time demands. Sometimes I feel over-scheduled in my life because planning ahead and sticking to the plan is the only way I can accomplish the things I want to do. A week of unstructured days will either spoil me or result in not much getting done at all.

We'll see how this plays out and hope for the best.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas from Cadbury

The holiday season is for spending time with friends.

And for tolerating small indignities so people can take pictures to show the world your holiday spirit.

However you're celebrating the season, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everyone!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Monday Bunday: Mousepad Mystery

We had a little mystery this week here in the Cadbury household. We received a mousepad with a very attractive rabbit on it but the giver was unknown. Much speculation ensued.

Just when I was thinking I'd have to put the question to the bunny blogosphere, the sender of the gift revealed herself. It was our dear friend Thomma!

Thanks, Thomma! Merry Christmas to you, the hubby, and the ballicai (cats)!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Congratulations to My Husband!

The big news around here is that Dan finally graduated with his bachelor’s degree!

He went back to school twelve years ago but was never very good at carrying a lot of courses and working full time, so it took him forever. For the last several years, he’s been just taking one class per semester, which at least had the advantage of being cheap since it was always fully covered by the university’s staff scholarship, which pays $1,500 per semester to any benefits-eligible staff member taking a class. So he graduates much later than I did, but with a considerably smaller debt load.

Those who believe in a life script with strict age-delimited timelines for doing certain things will of course say he should’ve gotten his degree decades ago. We don’t think much about scripts around here, though. Dan’s background is the kind from which young people, especially young men, are actively discouraged from seeking higher education. For an inner-city barrio boy who has roped cows from horseback in the mountains of New Mexico, lived at an ashram chanting and eating chapattis, and roadied for punk bands, to become a technology professional with a bachelor’s degree was the ultimate act of rebellion.

And now he’s talking grad school. I say take a little time off first and make sure you really want to make that kind of commitment. Ultimately, of course, it’s his road, his decision. He has one of the qualities I most admire when I find it in others—an openness to new ideas and the courage to reinvent himself when he finds the road he’s on has grown too dull or too narrow to hold him.

Congratulations, Dan!

Saturday Check-In

In spite of my best efforts, I managed to come down with a cold this week, missing out on the snowflake-making at work on Wednesday and not enjoying the Thursday party very much. But it was not a total loss. I spent almost all of Wednesday in bed and went home early Thursday because I still wasn’t one hundred percent. As a result, I got over this bug pretty fast and it didn’t move into my chest and team up with my asthma to give me a case of bronchitis, which is always my big concern when I get sick.

I was well enough today to go for a run, although I kept it short by my standards, only 12.5 miles. I had a hankering to run at Memorial Park, so I went there, with a detour to my bank and back. It would’ve been a solid run except for a persistent cramp in my right hip that had been there since I was sick earlier this week. I think it was caused by all that inactivity!

Two more workdays and I’m off until the January 2nd! Already I’ve got three weeks’ worth of projects for a week and a half of vacation! Yay, me?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tuesday Workplace Silliness

We painted Christmas ornaments today. I could've done without my co-workers singing along with the Christmas music, but you can't have everything.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Monday Work Silliness

I work with a very silly group of people. In addition to playing Secret Santa all week and having a Christmas party on Thursday, we're having various crafts and contests all week. Monday was "Build a Snowman" day, and here is my creation:

Materials: cotton balls, pipe cleaners, foam backing.

Everything I need to know, I learned in kindergarten...

Monday Bunday: Hide and Seek

Where is Cadbury? I know he's here somewhere. Oh, Cadbury...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Random Saturday

I went for a nice long run this morning, doing the same route as last weekend. I liked it better this time, so perhaps it was just my own mental state last week that made it seem tedious. It was warmer out than I expected it to be, so I actually had to come home after my warmup loop around campus and change into shorts.

Dan has a cold and I’m hoping he doesn’t pass it to me since I’ve got a lot of meetings this coming week as I try to wrap up some stale projects before the holiday break. Dan’s voice was hoarse last night but today he’s just drippy and is running a slight fever. I’m tagging behind him swiping things with alcohol and feeling glad that at least I don’t have a marathon coming up four weeks from now. Usually I’m paranoid about catching anything this time of year, lest it settle in my chest and turn into bronchitis. I still don’t want that of course, but I’m not out $100 or more in race fees if it happens.

My father is flying in tomorrow from New Mexico and will stay through January 4. I had hoped that now he’s retired he would stay through my birthday, but no luck. The family rumor mill has it that he’s already bored after retiring last summer and he’s going to start doing contract work for his previous employer, the New Mexico State School for the Deaf. Like me, he has to stay busy, and there aren’t a lot of things to do in rural New Mexico unless you want to raise goats and chickens and lay in a crop of beans and chiles. He grew up in the country and is very “been there, done that” on the farm thing, so I have a feeling paid employment of some kind is on the horizon, even though he doesn’t need the money.

Not much else happening around here. Last night I bought gifts for a co-worker in the Secret Santa exchange we’re doing at the office next week and I stumbled across some gluten-free chocolate-dipped cookies that I’ll give to my boss. That about wraps things up for my holiday shopping. I need to put all the gifts in one place and double-check, but I think everyone on my list who’s celebrating something in the next few weeks has been bought for, most of them months ago.

Cadbury just joined me in the computer chair. He wants to know when Santa is coming. Well, little bunny, have you been good?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Snuggle Time

What's black and white and snuggly all over? Me and Cadbury, staying warm together!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


We're getting snow--actual big snowflakes! It only happens once or twice a decade, so it's a happy occasion. The ground is too warm for any of it to stick. Temps were in the 70s yesterday. But it's fun to stand on the porch and watch the flakes come down, swirling under the streetlights.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Monday Bunday: Chair Wars Continue

What do you mean it's your chair?

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Saturday Check-In

I tried a new running route today, through the medical center and museum district, then a loop around Rice University before heading back home. I don't know if it was the cold weather or what, but I found the new route a bit tedious. It had no repeats, though, so I might try it again. I'm always looking for new routes that don't involve driving someplace first.

In bunny news, Cadbury has decided he is a cat. He digs in his litterboxes and flings litter everywhere. It's paper litter and easy to clean up, but it's still annoying.

I have a new recipe to try tomorrow: roasted root vegetables. Central Market's deli has a good version of this, but for a price that's comical in comparison to the price of the vegetables themselves. I'm going to add yellow potatoes and sweet potatoes to my version, so we'll see how this goes. And yes, I actually bought a rutabega. I'm a sick puppy.

I may also try to make this spiced nuts recipe before the holidays. It sounds similar to a recipe I've tasted before and I love the simplicity of using a crock pot.

I guess I better go clean up the bunny litter now. Maybe I'll get a mirror and the cat and try to explain a few things to Cadbury. He is so not a cat, even though he just jumped into my lap, expecting me to pet him.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Racing and Me

I interrupt my usual bunny blogging and thoughts about cooking and dull personal topics for a little of what this blog used to be about: endurance sports.

I'm not doing the Houston Marathon this year. The main reason is that it filled up so much earlier than any previous year. I like to wait until I'm back from my summer vacation and have assessed my health and finances before committing. But even though I went to register at an early-for-me date in July, the marathon was already full. Unprecedented.

But in a way I was relieved. The last couple years I've gone out there wondering why I'm doing it, other than habit and orneriness, which aren't good reasons for running 26.2 miles.

In fact, I race very little these days. In my first few years of running, I tried to do all the important local races, especially the marathon warmup series, but then I lost interest, not for the running but for paying money and showing up at a specific place at a designated time to do what I would've done anyway on my own schedule.

The blog owner at Studies in Clydeology summed up my problem in an email to me: The nice thing about a metro area with a good race venue is there are a lot of races. The bad thing is that there are a lot of races but all on the same venue or two.

That's exactly it. All the big Houston races are run on basically the same routes, which are also part of my regular training routes. When I'm on vacation, I'm disappointed if I can't find a race wherever I'm at, because running is a fun way to check out the local scenery. But at home I avoid racing. The idea of paying good money to trot the standard course seems silly.

Having said that, I'm pondering the following two marathons that are close enough to not require major time on the road, but not so close that the venues are in any way familiar:

I might do one, both, or neither, and I hope they don't fill up before I decide. In the past, I've always worked in a job that made me feel like a slacker for taking any time off at all, for any reason. But in my current job, I often feel like the only one not taking personal time each month. This far ahead, there's no reason I couldn't request the Monday after either of these races as a personal day to rest and regroup. And now that I have a little experience driving Dan's Jeep (the newer and more reliable of our two vehicles), transportation isn't a problem for me, either.

I need to do a little more thinking on these two races, and do some research on what others have thought of them. I seem to recall having read positive things, and if I can get the time off from work to make up for time lost from my usual weekend activities around the house, these races might be just what I need to spark things up a bit.

I'm a little sad not to be doing the Houston Marathon this year because it's been such a big part of my life for the last eight years, whether I ran it or ended up having to bow out due to injury or illness. I may skip the expo this year too, as much as I like checking out the new gear and helping myself to the freebies. But I should be taking advantage of the opportunities I have with my new, more relaxed job and start thinking of race venues further afield. I'm lucky to work at a place that pushes work/life balance and there's a lot more to the local running scene than what goes on in and around downtown Houston.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

A Bit of Sad News

In the early '90s, I dated a guy who had a really neat group of friends. They were musicians, artists, readers and philosophers, and we used to gather at each others' homes to discuss the books and topics of the day over merlot and zinfandel. There were parties and outings for Vietamese food. There were gatherings at bars big and small when the guitarist in our clique had a show. We discussed the affairs of the world over drinks at the pub, and there was even a wedding--the coolest, hippest one I ever attended.

A few years after I broke up with the guy and lost my honorary membership in this eclectic group, I went back to school and took a restaurant job at a nicely upscale place so I could schedule my work around my classes. One of our bar regulars was an acquaintance from the old gang, philosophy professsor Leslie Marenchin. He would sit at the bar nursing a single glass of wine and when I had a few spare minutes I would chat with him about the state of the world and the nature of humanity. Or just the weather. It never mattered with him. He was a gentle soul who was always happy to see a friend, even if there was really nothing to say.

Today I found out he died over the weekend in a fall at his home. He was only 54. Apparently he fell down a flight of stairs and hit his head on a tile floor. Friends coming for a book club meeting found him.

I didn't know Leslie well, but he was always kind to me, even in my harum-scarum days when I probably didn't deserve it. I'm saddened that he won't be around any more to share his thoughtful intelligence with friends and students, and that such a silly, pointless accident claimed his life.

Be careful out there, friends.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Mid-Week Update

It's been a quiet week at the office so far. I finished a report that was taking up a lot of my time, and now I'm working through the backlog. Fun times, since I have to dig through my notes and emails to figure out what the heck is going on. I'm always relieved when, like this afternoon, I discover that I'm still waiting on data from someone else. I can follow up with them and feel good that my being sidetracked isn't the only reason something didn't get done.

I went for a run around campus this morning, hating the cold but feeling pretty darn good for having run 19 miles on Saturday and done a two-hour spin on Sunday. I'm bored with dark, early morning university runs, though. Unfortunately I don't have much choice, since the alternative is dark, evening university runs. I sometimes wonder if I should talk to my boss about changing my hours. I worked 7:00 - 4:00 at my last job, but in this one it seems a lot more things come up late in the day, so I suspect I wouldn't often get to leave at 4:00 even if that was my schedule. More early runs in the cold are in my future, I think.

On Sunday, I tried this crockpot yogurt recipe. I have a regular yogurt method with steel pan, candy thermometer, sterilized jars and all that, but I was intrigued by the idea of using something as simple as a crockpot. The yogurt took a longer time to set than I expected and I had to strain it to get it as thick as I like, but it turned out fine. Highly recommended, especially if, like me, you find yourself with free milk coupons and no regular use for milk. I also made rice pudding on Sunday, no recipe, just rice, milk, raisins, and some vanilla Better Than Milk soy powder to add flavor, sweetness, and a bit of thickness. I baked the whole concoction on 350 for about 15 minutes with a sprinkle of nutmeg on top. Very tasty, especially heated up.

That's about all the excitement around here. I expect to hit 70,000 words on my WIP tonight, and I'd like to finish the draft by the holiday break. It's a fun story and I look forward to being done so I can start sharing about it.

Gotta go now. I've got a bunny in my lap.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Monday Bunday: Disapproval

What do you mean Thanksgiving is over and it's time to go back to work?