Friday, May 27, 2016

Friday Mishmash

Our town had some unfortunate excitement yesterday in the form of a tornado touching down - eek!  I was working at the hospital and had been watching the storms come in thanks to all the windows in the gift shop, when the "tornado warning - take shelter" announcement came over the loudspeaker.  I grabbed my purse, locked the door to the gift shop (no one was in there but me at the time) and booked it to the specified inside hallway, where I was joined by everyone who'd been eating lunch at the cafeteria - workers and patients alike.  Thanks to cell phones, we were all checking various news pages, Facebook, and our local online forum for updates.  I'm not gonna lie, tornadoes scare me.  I grew up with earthquakes, and they just happen - no warning, and usually they are over almost before you decide that it's an earthquake and not an airplane rattling your windows.  But tornadoes are a whole other thing - a warning means that one has been spotted in your area, and you wait to see if it comes your way, or if more form.

As it turns out, it touched down in an area near where we do our long runs on Saturdays, and while we were reading reports on where it had hit, one of the women I was standing near realized that it was in her neighborhood.  I felt bad for her - she was getting more and more agitated, not knowing how bad the damage was.  Finally she got a text from a neighbor saying that her house was OK but other houses were damaged.  Here's one picture from that neighborhood:
 YIKES

Scary times.  I'm grateful that our neighborhood was spared; the thing with tornadoes is that you never know when and where they are going to hit...sometimes you are the lucky ones, and sometimes, you're not.

One more picture - this is just over a tenth of a mile from the entrance to our subdivision - we drive this direction all the time:
There is a (usually) dry creek bed that runs behind our subdivision.  Not so dry now; this is the biggest I've ever seen it flood.

********************

We haven't spent much time working in our yard in a couple of months; either we've been busy traveling on the weekend, or else it's been raining like crazy, which makes the plants grow nicely...along with the weeds.  I guess you take the good with the bad, right?  One good example is the yucca plant - the first year we put it in the ground, it had one stem of pink blooms.  Last year, no blooms.  This year?  Holy cow - not only two stems, but they are taller than me:
The last time it bloomed, it was maybe just three feet high.

And check out the gorgeous pink color of the blooms:
I had to bend it down to get this shot.  Look at the unopened pod - this is the first time I've seen a pod on plant...does this mean it will self-seed, I wonder?

Not only is our yard in need of weeding, but it also looks crazy because an armadillo has been digging around in the front beds:
Can you see the divots in the ground?  Go away, 'dillo!  Also, there are a ton of tiny oak tree seedlings popping up everywhere - this year, the acorns that fell from the huge oaks in our backyard have seeded themselves everywhere.  I feel a little bad pulling them up, especially since we let one volunteer grow to maturity on our front lawn, but there is no need for this many oak trees, especially growing this close to our house.

Here's our volunteer oak tree - for years, Jeff carefully mowed around it so as to not accidentally cut it down.  This was his reward:
It's jumped in height recently - the tree has to be over 10 feet tall now.  All this from a tiny little seedling.

We noticed a nest in the tree when we were taking these pictures:
I suspect this is a mockingbird's nest, simply based on the fact that a mockingbird sits in that tree and yells at me whenever I walk out to the mailbox.

Oh, and of course I have to show you this shot - when I stepped outside to take the plant pictures, I made Paco stay inside.  This is the face of betrayal:
Mom.  MOM.  MOOOMMMMM!  

I only went outside for a minute, but you'd think his world was ending with him not going out with me.  Hopefully it won't rain this weekend and we can get out to clear up the front beds - and yes, Paco can come out with us.

********************

I'm still not feeling 100% from my bout with bronchitis, and haven't been inspired to eat much beyond soup and crackers, but I made myself go to the grocery store after my walk on Tuesday and bought salads:
Where were these eight years ago when I started my diet?  It's nice that they're making eating a quick healthy meal so easy nowadays.

This is the height of laziness, I know - but it's better than canned soup.  I also bought some strawberries and cut up watermelon; I still am not super enthused by food, but at least I'm getting some decent nutrition.

*******************

Have a great weekend - here's hoping that there's no more severe weather happening anywhere.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Wednesday Workout Update

Well, I don't have much of a workout update for you this week, considering that yesterday was the first time I exercised in over a week.  I'm still not over the bronchitis, but I am better, although still coughing at times.  That said, I really wanted to get out and move, so move I did.  Sort of.  Cary came over to run with me, and it was slow going.  At one point I asked her to take an extra walk break because I was tired, but then realized, no, that wasn't the correct description...it was more that my legs felt like jellyfish.  We hit 2.5 miles and I was spent - it was super steamy, which I'm sure didn't help - gotta love it when it's 72 degrees with 100% humidity at 6:00 a.m.  But hey - I was glad to get that run in.

Then I met Jenny at the park a couple hours later for our walk - by that time, it was a lovely 82 degrees and still just as humid.  At least there was a breeze, and lots of cloud cover.  Funny thing, we've been running and walking at this park since 2010, and yesterday when we walked over the bridge, I realized that the bridge didn't bounce one bit, which was unusual.  I looked back and saw that all of the wood had been replaced, and it must have just happened in the last couple of days, because you could smell the freshly-cut wood and even see some sawdust.  Of course we had to take a picture to document this:
Thanks, City of College Station, for giving us a nice new sturdy bridge!

We walked for 3 miles, so I had a total of 5.5 miles on my legs for the day.  I was tired afterward, but it was a good tired, you know?  I hope to run again tomorrow, weather-willing.  Storms are predicted, but they might hold off until later in the day.

********************

While neither Jeff nor I ran on Saturday, we did go meet everyone at Blue Baker for breakfast after their run.  Cary had a sample of Tailwind, which is a hydration, fuel, and electrolyte powder that you mix with water; she made some up and we all gave it a taste test.  I was surprised to see that it's clear, even though we were drinking Mandarin Orange flavor.  It was lightly flavored and tasted good and almost like nothing, which I liked.  She gave me the other half of the sample, so I'm going to use it the next time I run 5 miles - maybe this weekend, if I'm feeling up to it, otherwise, next weekend. 

I'm excited for potentially finding something that would take the place of having to use energy gels (GU is what I normally use) during long runs...there comes a time during every long run when I just can't stomach the idea of taking one more GU, but I need that fuel because I'm out there so long.  Plus, the electrolyte replacement is on par with what I was using (Nuun), so this could end up being better overall.  Nuun might have actually done me a favor by switching to that terrible new formula; they've forced me to look elsewhere for my electrolyte-replacement needs, and in doing so, I think I've stumbled on a superior product.  I'll keep you updated.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Put That Thing Away!

I hesitated to write about this because I try to steer clear of controversial topics on the blog, but this has bothered me so much that I'm going to put it out there.

You might have heard that Texas, which has had a concealed-carry law for guns for about 20 years now, recently enacted an open-carry law.  I can't tell you how much I hate this.  I am not a gun person, first of all, and I feel like those who choose to display their weapons openly are looking for a reason to use them.  And while I fully acknowledge that, this being Texas, the person standing in line behind me at the grocery store might very well have a gun in their purse or somewhere on their body, I don't see it, and therefore I can pretend that it doesn't exist.

But open-carry is another story.  Jeff and I discussed it and agreed that if we ever walked into a place (a restaurant, for example) and saw patrons with guns on display at their waistbands, we'd turn around and walk right out.  We have much less trust in those who feel like they need to show their weapon to the world.  So, imagine my dismay when our next-door neighbor wandered over a couple of weeks ago, with his holstered pistol clipped to the waistband of his jeans.  I mean, WHY???  Our neighborhood is safe.  It was the middle of the afternoon.  It's not like he just got home from work; he'd been out in the yard most of the day.  Realistically, I know that probably several of my neighbors have their concealed-carry permits, but why oh why does this man have to open-carry like that?

I will fully admit that I don't even want to try and understand why my neighbor is doing this.  I know I sound close-minded, but honestly, there is no argument that will sway me...this isn't the wild wild west, it's a normal suburban neighborhood.  And even though I've lived in Texas for nearly as long as I lived in California, I haven't let go of my inner west coast hippie liberal rainbow being - and that person doesn't see the need to openly display a gun while watering the lawn.

Put it AWAY, dude.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Friday Mishmash

Thank you for all of the comments on my 8 year blogiversary post - I loved hearing from my regular commenters as well as the invisible readers.  I know more people read than comment, but whenever I do get a comment from someone who I've not heard from before (or very often), it reminds me of how far reaching this blog really is, and that's a wonderment to me.  You guys made me feel good.

********************

I was surprised with a flower delivery yesterday:
 
I had a better shot, but knew y'all would appreciate Paco nosing his way into this one..."dese flowerz smell gud" 

Allie sent the flowers with an apology note for making me sick - she was getting sick when we were visiting her over Mother's Day weekend (so much so that on the day we left, I made a quick trip to the store to leave her with soup and crackers and drinks and medicine).  Jeff got what she had, and then on Monday, I started feeling bad and by Tuesday I was diagnosed with bronchitis.  I was feeling really bad on Wednesday, but while I sounded terrible yesterday, I started feeling a little less like death.  I stayed home from my gift shop job, which I hated to miss, but there's no way I needed to be spreading these germs around at the hospital, that's for sure.  

********************

I've mentioned a time or two that our cats, who we adopted together from the same cage, don't get along.  Much hissing and spitting is heard whenever they pass each other, usually from Kip (the tiger-striped one), so they mostly avoid each other.  It's like they are divorced but still share the same house - the master bedroom belongs to Henry, Jeff's office belongs to Kip, and they take turns in the laundry room, where their food is located.  So you can imagine that whenever they are willingly spending time together, SOMETHING BIG is happening.  The other morning, I noticed that both cats were in the same spot:
 
A little lizard/gecko/critter...which was fascinating enough for both of the cats to get along while they observed it.

I have no idea what happened to the critter...but this was behind my knitting chair, so I'm dearly hoping I won't open a project bag and have a heart attack when said critter runs out!

********************

Because I don't have enough knitting projects going on, I joined a sock KAL (knit-a-long) with the Mason-Dixon knitters.  I am using a skein of yarn that I bought last fall at the Columbia Gorge Fiber Fest; this KAL was helpful in prompting me to stop staring at how pretty the yarn is and instead, actually knit with it.  I've been making good progress on the sock, which probably has a lot to do with me being home sick all week - I'm either knitting or napping!  Here's what I have so far:
I like how the slip stitch pattern highlights the individual colors.  Yarn is Thoroughly Thwacked Stalwart Stock, colorway is Pastry Bandit.  Pattern is Slip Stitch Lines.

********************

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

2016 BCS Realtors Run For Shoes 5K Race Recap!

The shirt that came with our registration fee - heavy-duty cotton, unisex.  Too warm, too much shirt for summertime in Texas, so I've already put mine in the donation bag.

On Saturday, we slept in - it was strange to see daylight when we were getting up on a Saturday...normally by that time, we're finishing our run!  But we'd signed up for the BCS Realtor Run For Shoes 5K, and it didn't start until 8:30 am, so a leisurely morning was in order.  Jeff, Julia, and I ran this race four years ago, when it was held at a different park.  We've always meant to come back to it, but for the last couple of years, the race date has interfered with other races we were doing.  This year, they moved it to May, and also changed up locations, and since most of us were available, we signed up for it.

This race is the most inexpensive 5K I've run, coming in at $15.00 for early registration.  I even took it a step further and mailed in our registration forms, along with a check, because registering on Active.com would have added over $3 in fees per runner, which somehow seems excessive for such a little race.  Half marathons?  I pay that fee without a second thought...what's another three bucks when you're paying $75 or so?  The race is a fundraiser put on by the Realtors in our area, in conjunction with Payless Shoes, to buy shoes for underprivileged children in our community.  Great cause and I'm glad we could support it.

As we were driving to the race, a mere five minutes drive from our house, I saw that a hot air balloon had just been launched nearby:
A nice bit of color on an overcast morning...

Jeff and I arrived and walked a couple of .3 mile laps to loosen up, and I ate a Honey Stinger Waffle - I don't normally eat anything before I run, but since this was so much later in the morning (I'm usually running by 6:00 am), I thought I'd cover my bases.  I felt pretty decent throughout the run, so maybe I'll try eating one again before another long run.

The rest of the gang arrived:
Diane, Jeff, me, Karen, Cary, and Brian

The race started on time, which was nice because the sun was coming out from the clouds and it was getting really warm.  It was 73 degrees with 94% humidity when we began running.  There was a 3K walk along with the 5K run, so for a change, we made sure to line up in the front of the pack.  You can see Diane and I in the shot below, which was posted on the race's Facebook page:
Well, you can see Diane...and my bright pink shirt!

Diane and I sort-of ran 2:1 intervals, except when we were on a downhill - then we continued to run, even if my Garmin was chiming for us to walk.  Don't tell us what to do, Garmin!  This route was challenging in that we ran two loops, and the direction we went had us going up a really steep hill.  Just to give you an idea, several years ago we tried to use this hill for a hill repeat workout with our running club, and we nixed it after one time because the hill was too long!  As you can probably guess, we walked up that hill both times.  We hit the .3 mile loop toward the finish just in time, as the sun had come out and was burning down on us.  It was about 80 degrees when we finished, which is just plain too hot to be running in.

After the race, we hung around because they were going to be handing out door prizes.  This race wasn't chip timed, which is fine with me for an inexpensive fun run, but the organizers had decided to give out age group awards, which meant that they were tallying the results by - well, I'd say hand, but it was more likely abacus, or perhaps slide rule.  All I know is that there was a person sitting at the finish line, writing down our numbers and finish time when we crossed, and from that info, they were trying to break everything down into six age groups, with first through third winners, for both male and female, in both the 5K and the 3K.  As you can imagine, this was taking a while, so the announcer was stalling for time...he'd call out a few bib numbers for door prizes, and then we'd wait a while, and then more door prizes would be announced.  Karen won a gift certificate to a local restaurant:
I went to take the winner's picture, and Jimmy hopped in, saying he was a winner, too since he'd be going to dinner with Karen!

So we waited and waited, and the sun was burning down on us - really, we were mostly waiting for door prizes but they were going really slow with them.  Finally, after about 45 minutes of this, the announcer said that they were halfway through with tabulating the finisher results - ARGH!  I swear, we all literally threw our arms up in the air in defeat, and that was it - we left.  It was already 10:00 am; we were hungry and Blue Baker was right down the road.

I don't mind not having chip timing for a fundraiser 5K.  I'm fine with just running and contributing to a good cause.  But if they really want to have finisher age group awards, they need raise the entry fee by a couple of bucks and have chip timing.  Other than that snafu, this was a nice little race - they had water on the course, friendly volunteers were at every turn, and it was a pleasant, if hot, way to spend a Saturday morning.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Eight is Great!

Over the weekend, my blog turned eight!  Woohoo, happy blogiversary to me!!

I've lived a healthier lifestyle for eight years now, which in all honesty sometimes frightens me because I am so accustomed to being normal.  Well, normal in that I can wear clothes from regular stores, and I can fit into airplane and movie seats comfortably and without a second thought, and I can go for a walk and not absolutely DIE from exhaustion after five minutes.  These are just a few ways that being more than 100 pounds overweight affected my life in the past, and I started this blog when I started my last diet because I never wanted to forget how challenging it was to be me, day in and day out, when I was carrying that extra weight, as well as how hard I worked to get that weight off.

However, I can go weeks without remembering how my life used to be, which is a good thing, because to me that means I'm pretty deeply entrenched in how I'm able to live now, but it's not so good in that I don't want to forget that it probably wouldn't be too hard to go down the path of my old self and BOOM - I'd be back where I was in 2008.  I'd like to think that it wouldn't happen, that I'm pretty set in certain healthy eating and exercise patterns - but I know I could be doing better, so there's always the fear of letting it all go.  Hey, I was pretty good at being overweight and sedentary; who's to say I won't go there again?

Still, eight years later, I'm doing well.  I'm not the thinnest I've been, nor am I the fattest.  I am the most active I've ever been in my adult life, and that includes all of our running adventures, which is something I never imagined I'd be doing when I started this blog.

Back in May of 2008, I wanted to lose weight.  I hoped I would be successful.  But I never thought I'd become the person I am today; someone who is pretty comfortable with her size, someone who exercises on the regular (read my old posts - I was very resistant to exercising in the beginning), and someone who is really quite pleased with how she's living her life.  All in all, not a bad place to be.  Thanks for coming along for the ride with me.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Friday Mishmash

We drove to Dallas last weekend to spend some time with Allie.  Paco is finally turning out to be a good car passenger - I put the pad from his crate in the back seat and he settled down and quickly fell asleep.  He has actually stood up for the entire drive to north Texas on previous trips, so this was a huge deal.  He was really relaxed the entire visit, too - he just wanted to hang out with us and made himself comfortable in some pretty funny ways:
He wedged his behind between the ottoman and the couch and fell asleep!
Noise from the icemaker woke him up.  I can read his expression, and it's "growl, or no growl...meh, no growl."
Another spot...apparently his motto for the weekend was "why lie on one ting when you can lie on two?"

Taking our cue from Paco, we had a pretty relaxed weekend, but I did manage to get to another Nordstrom and play with eye make up again.  And imagine my surprise when Jeff wanted to go to Ikea - in all our years of marriage, this was the first time he ever suggested that!  He was looking at desks and such; I, having no agenda, spent the least amount ever on a trip there, buying only some replacement hand towels for our bathroom (the old towels were getting a little worn) and a bamboo tablet stand, which I've wanted for a while now since I use my iPad for simpler knitting patterns:
This will also be nice to have in the kitchen, on the rare occasions where I'm following a recipe. 

Oh, I almost forgot the funniest part of the weekend - when we were driving to Ikea, I looked out the window and did a double-take as I realized I was seeing Batman in the lane next to us:
Batman looks very serious about his driving...
OK, it was actually Batdan, but still.  Random, and so fun.

********************

Knitting update:  I set my sweater aside for a bit to start another pair of socks - what can I say, I wanted to make something with instant quicker gratification.  I decided to try a pattern for this pair, which has gone surprisingly well:
 
Pattern is Featherstone, which is a freebie on Ravelry.
I've already turned the heel - it's all gravy from here!

********************

So part of being a mom is appreciating seeing your babies grow into responsible adults, but since my kadults don't live nearby, I don't get to see them adulting often enough...so when I do, well, I have to document it:
 "Really, Mom??"  Yes, really.

Here's a better picture:
My daughter, on Mother's Day. 

Jeff threw out his back when he was loading the car to go home, plus he was getting a cold, so when we finally arrived at our house, he got out a heating pad for his back, laid on the floor, and passed out.  I took this picture and showed it to him later; he had no idea Kip was laying on him:
 Kip:  I missed you while you were gone!

Have a great weekend!