What are we talking about today?

I'm on hiatus (in case you hadn't guessed). Sorry! I miss you guys.

30 November 2009

The last post of November.

And by golly, I'd better hurry.

I have lots of caffeine in my system, which is the result drinking so much caffeinated tea today, which is due to MANY days with not enough sleep. Man, I love sleep. I'll be glad to have that back.

I always have fun at the tea. I mean, I get the microphone. What isn't fun about that? The centre of attention is a fun place to be for us narcissistic types. :) I can't believe I'm the same girl who used to hide behind people & wouldn't raise my hand in class for fear I'd actually have to say something.

Anyway... speaking of narcissists... yeah. Where was I? The tea. So it's fun for me regardless. I hope it is that much fun for everyone else, too.

Tonight, we had so many people, it took about 45 minutes to get them through the food line. Which put us 30 minutes behind. So, we had to cut a game and some singing. Which was a real bummer.

And... this was my last time. I announced that next year, we need a new chairwoman. It is hard letting it go-- after all, this has been my baby for three years running now-- but it's time for someone with more ideas to get a chance. And this time next year, there is no telling what I will be doing.

I love South Plains. I love the Womens' Ministry. I really, really love the Ladies' Tea. But I hope someone else can take it and make it even better.

And I made Ruth promise that South Plains won't have another five-year hiatus between teas. Because the last gap was much, much too long.

29 November 2009

The board is set, the pieces are moving.

Okay, I admit: I'm not Gandalf. I'm not directing an army in the great battle of our time. So perhaps the chess metaphors are a bit much.

However! The Family Life Center is set up, with 20 tables (!) for adults, three for children, and a few to hold prizes, just for fun. Thanks to the efforts of the most fantabulous tea committee ever assembled, the room looks very Christmas-y indeed. We even have a red carpet laid down, to let our guests know how special they are.

Just over 21 hours until we launch... the only thing remaining is for me to not say anything stupid. That may be asking too much in just 21 hours.


Angels? We have (a) herd.















You can almost see Ruth & I in this picture. Yep, the red carpet ends at us. Aren't you lucky?

28 November 2009

Thanksgiving is Great for Running

So, if you've tuned in this long, you know that me running a race = a race recap is forthcoming. And I hate to disappoint my fan. ;)

Before writing this, I went back and checked out my race recap from the Turkey Trot in 2007. I have not in any way forgotten that race; I was cold, sore, and miserable, not to mention painfully slow-moving. But when I reread my thoughts from the next day, all I can think is "Wow." We were brand-new to the club then; we only knew a few people; and I wasn't thinking of ever running anything longer than 10 miles (if that!). And most astonishing of all, I had only run about 6 1/2 miles in one go before that race, and my longest race to date had been a 5K. Our running, our friendships with others in the club, and our (okay, my-- Chad already had his sights on a half-marathon at this point) ideas of how far we can run have changed dramatically in the past two years. I don't know that I've ever had any area of my life change that much in such a short time... and yet, here I am!

So, race recap... Sarah & I ran together again. I'm a bit wary of running with others, just because I hate to slow anyone else down. (And Sarah has longer legs than I do; it's not likely she'll ever slow me down!) We went out too fast, as I ever do, so I did have to slow it up a bit in the middle.

Hills! My goodness, there were a bunch! Okay, this was not a surprise, but I've not been training on hills, because I'm silly, so I was having to chant "up and over" to myself a lot. Admittedly, these hills were easier than the ones I ran on two weeks ago.

So, there is one hill leading to the final turnaround, with less than a mile to go. I think it's probably the easiest hill in the entire course, but coming at the end, it's still tiring and a bit discouraging to anyone who is already struggling. Thankfully, this was not me this time around, because I was wearing a watch and was elated at how fast we were running without me wanting to drop down dead. So we got up & over, and I said hello to Chad at the turnaround (he was volunteering) and then threw my gloves to him, because I was done with them.

Coming down the hill was fantastic. First, running downhill is just fun. Second, there were a lot of people behind us. A lot. Normally, this is not something I rejoice in (because I've had my share of races when I am dead last or pretty close to it), but I was amazed. Third, we were nearly done. So, I've got a big silly grin on my face, and I was shouting encouragement (I thought) to those still struggling to get up to the top. I yelled "Almost there!" to a group of women who were most emphatically not grinning, meaning they were almost to the turnaround. One of them shouted back, "We are not!" so I guess she didn't appreciate my encouragment.

It's kind of an annoying thing to runners that people shout "Almost there!" at dumb moments, like mile 16 of a marathon (10 miles to go), or the 10K point of a half marathon (not even halfway!). But really, with less than a mile to go, you ARE almost there. So, I'm not sure why this poor woman wasted her breath to answer me back.

The next group of runners seemed a bit happier, so when I told them "Last hill!" I got a "Woohoo" in return. Okay, they had much more breath left than I did. :)

So, down the hill, round the corner, under the bridge, into a parking lot, and over the finish line with Scotland the Brave playing in my ears. And a 14-minute PR for me. No medals this time, but I got 1 point in the challenge series! Woo hoo! Actually, the 3rd place plaque in the 30-34 age group is solidly mine; the woman in 4th place doesn't have enough races left to catch me in the points. Now, I am going for another 66-Mile Club t-shirt. I have 3.75 miles to go; we have one 4-mile race remaining. Talk about cutting it close.

Oh, Christmas Tea

So, with over 100 RSVPs (and counting), half-a-dozen door prizes, a committee that still seems okay with my high level of frazzledness, and a couple of days to go, the Christmas Tea is marching ever closer.

The most we've ever had RSVP ahead of time is about 55. The most we've had turn up is about 85. Part of me is worried we won't have enough tables set up, while the rest of me is concerned about a lot of empty tables staring at me come Monday night.

The food will be good, the fellowship will be sweet, the games will be fun, the laughter will be, um, hysterical, if the past couple of years are anything to go by-- and in the meantime, I will be in high-stress mode.

Stay tuned... it's coming faster than I would like.

27 November 2009

Friday Countdown

Christmas tea: 3 DAYS!!!
Redline 4-mile race: 15 days
Christmas: 28 days
Anniversary: 35 days
Vancouver Olympics: 76 days
Austin Marathon: 78 days

Farther along (I think)

Language is kind of a hobby of mine.

It's not a hobby I give a lot of time to, mind you, but I do find so many things about languages fascinating. How they evolve, how they work, what makes this word better than that one, and so on-- it's all interesting. Here's a fun one for you: When I was learning Scots Gaelic, I learnt the phrase "Is math sin", which is pronounced "Ish ma shin", which sounds like "Smashing", which in Scotland is slang for "Good", which just happens to be what "Is math sin" means. Cool, eh?

As it happens, English is the language I have the most fun with, being as it is my native language and all. I've never had to work hard at English, which I'm pretty sure annoys other people to no end, but it's easy for me. (Hey, I have to put hours and hours into maths & sciences. Leave me alone.)

And therefore, it annoys me that I have a hard time with "farther" and "further". This is not an uncommon struggle; you will find this pairing on most lists of frequently confused words. But, I'm not used to confusing words. Give me "affect" and "effect" or "lie" and "lay" any day, and I've got you covered. And even more annoying is this: I know the difference between "farther" (refers to literal distance) and "further" (refers to figurative distance or degree) perfectly well; it's when applying them in everyday speech & writing that I have issues.

So here is where the real problem lies: I've never had to work at English, so I've no idea how to imprint all this knowledge onto my brain in order to make it habit. Sigh.

26 November 2009

Do Dooo Do Do Do... BN BN

Yeah, so that title will probably make sense to no one but me. Here's the short version: It was an advert in Britain about 10 years ago for cookies called BN. And that's what I think of whenever I see Barnes & Noble's abbreviation.

So, Barnes & Noble! Yeah, we got a new one, just about a quarter mile north of where the old one was. The new one has two floors, comfy-looking chairs (I didn't actually try any of them), free wifi, and the ubiquitous Starbucks (didn't try that, either). Oh, and one long escalator just going up, and one even longer coming down. And, as a bonus, there is a mall outside their doors, too.

So, I wandered over to the running section first, as it my wont, and found an amusing little book called I Run, Therefore I Am- Nuts. I think I'll have to buy that book; it made me giggle a lot just from the couple of chapters I read. After a casual wander round the ground floor (which included spotting The Book of Completely Useless Information, or something like that-- story of my life), I took the escalator up. I wanted to take the stairs, but, um, there weren't any.

I then hit all the other high points of any visit to a bookstore-- the craft section (which looked exactly like a craft section should, by the way; all the books are different sizes, so there was no nice & tidy sitting evenly on the shelf here), the scifi section (which has the largest selection of Terry Pratchett books I've ever seen outside of the UK), and the children's section (alas, here I was disappointed).

Unless I am very much mistaken, the children's section was pretty much the same as in the old store. I was hoping for more, but-- no. Sigh. And the Spanish children's books had just as meager a selection as before. I'm thinking I'll have to make a trip to Mexico to get children's books in Spanish that don't include Dora.

Also, I saw a book called Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Now, if that isn't a winner, I don't know what is.

25 November 2009

Sesame Street...

... turned 40.

It's a bit odd for me to think of this show that has be so influential in the lives of millions of children as being 40 years old. Firstly, I think, "Only 40 years? Really? How is it that no one thought of this programme before 1969?" But my next thought is, "Forty years? But it still seems so new!"

And I imagine both thoughts are correct.

Since I have younger siblings, I watched Sesame Street much longer than is the "norm". Which means that when I run across an episode, it's like seeing childhood friends from school, rather than half-remembered preschool pals. Gordon and Susan, Mr. Hooper, Luis and Maria, Bob, Linda-- put me in a room with these people, and I'd be as delirious as a tween seeing the cast of New Moon. By golly, you'd better have something handy for them to autograph.

And the Muppets-- holy smokes. I have too many favourites. My Sesame Street days pre-dated Elmo by quite a bit, although I do remember when Snuffy might have been Big Bird's imaginary friend. Oscar, Grover, Bert & Ernie, Guy Smiley, Prairie Dawn, Kermit, Count, The Two-Headed Monster-- I love them all. My favourite, though-- my absolute, unmistakable, could-watch-these-guys-all-day favourites are the Yip Yips. I have days when I approach the entire world pretty much like the Yip Yips: "Not home. Nope. Yip yip yip yip yip yip yip uh-huh." I can see my work environment getting suddenly more entertaining if I spoke to my coworkers that way.

And then there were the cartoons. Teeny Little Super Guy, The Typewriter, the Pinball machine that counted to 12-- I still can't count to 12 without singing the song. And who could ever forget "a loaf of bread, a container of milk, and a stick of butter."

I hope this show lasts to its 100th anniversary-- and beyond.

24 November 2009

Monday, Monday

All good things must come to an end, including a free weekend trip to see Peter Pan and approximately 200 other people in the process.

So, I had one final morning of sleeping in (man, do I miss that!) before heading out for another round of visits-- this time, it was the shops that had my attention. Marsh had the Snapple I wanted (By the way, best stuff on Earth? They aren't kidding!); Wal-Mart had the Tetley. So, we had to go to both. And the very friendly cashier at WM took a huge step over the gulf that has long existed between me and nationwide chain stores (and Wal-Mart in particular) when, upon noticing that I had enough Tetley to last me for the next six months, she said, "Now, did you know you can order anything at Wal-Mart and have it shipped to your local store?"

As it happens, I did know that, but it had never occured to me that they meant tea when they said that; I though it was stuff like flat-panel TVs. No, apparently I can get myself a box of Tetley delivered to my Lubbock WM, which for me is so local that it is within walking distance. Brilliant.

So after this jolly discovery, we took Grandma back home, and tried to go see another of our three dozen cousins, but we had no luck, because she works nights & was sound asleep when we went to her house. This is probably just as well, really; I would feel pretty guilty getting her up for 20 minutes' worth of chitchat.

After that, it was a whirl of throwing all my stuff back into the suitcase, saying goodbye & thank you to Grandma, and loading it all up in Dad's truck. Then we had to go to Mum's work to say goodbye to her (and I got to meet the boss), then a stop by McDonald's so Denise could deliver something & we could get some lunch, then off to the airport. By the way, Indianapolis has a beautiful airport.

The security people stopped me so they could measure my scissors! Man, all the fun stuff happens to me at airport security.

Northwest Airlines sent me to Detroit first, for reasons passing understanding. I have to say that while I would have preferred a more direct route, it was worth it (almost) to have a look at the Detroit airport. Another beautiful building. I walked the entire length of Terminal A because I had three hours to just hang out.

And whatever my grievances against Northwest Airlines (and believe me, I have a list), their pilots are brilliantly good at landing. Every landing I experienced this weekend was so very smooth, and a couple of them I wasn't sure for a second if we were actually on the ground or if it was just turbulence. That's how smooth it was. This is in contrast to our Continental landing last summer, when I'm pretty sure we were shot down.

23 November 2009

More Saturday, and some Sunday, too.

So, after a successful 15K, I sat around for the rest of the day. Not on purpose, mind you; I thought there was going to be some mall-going, which didn't happen. I did hang out with the kids and get some Christmas tea stuff done. And I discovered that at least one of Grandma's neighbours doesn't protect his/her internet. Thank you, unknown internet user! If not for your selfless silliness, I could never have shown my parents what their house looks like on Google Earth.

Billy wanted pizza for dinner (it was his birthday, after all), so we went to Cici's. This is a favourite of my husband as well as my brother, so I was right at home, but I was not prepared for the awe that my father had for such a thing as pizza buffets. Yeah, he doesn't get out much.

I was all in a dither on Sunday morning, because we normally go to early service, but Greenfield only has one and it is at 10:45. Turns out, I can sleep in with the best of them, but it was still odd for me. Saw friends and loved ones, and heard yet again my favourite thing to hear when visiting this church where I grew up: "You're Billy & Denise's sister? I didn't know they had another sister!" Apparently, my existence is a well-kept secret. At least, that's what Denise said when I asked her why so many people in Greenfield act surprised to meet me.

After some earnest discussion about what to have for lunch (and the rather unhappy discovery that Marsh does not have decaf British Blend Tetley), we landed back at Grandma's eating tacos. Beef tacos, which is odd, again, after eating turkey tacos for the past five or so years.

Then, it was off on a round of visits: Jenny's parents, Billy & the kids (to say goodbye, since I wouldn't see them on Monday), the other Grandma (Dad's mum), then Amanda. Yep, I went to see Amanda at 10 PM. I haven't gone to see anyone at 10 PM since I was an aim student.

And then I went back to Grandma's, annoyed Denise for a few minutes, and went to bed.

22 November 2009

Saturday

I already gave you the 15K recap, so here's the stuff I left out.

Jennie & I took a wrong turn before we got to the park & had to turn around. You'd think a state park would be better-marked, but you would be wrong. Once we got there, we knew we were in the right place because of the long queue of cars waiting to get in. And there was one lonely park ranger having to take every car's entrance fee & hand out change. Fortunately, he didn't have to give directions, because it was pretty evident where we were supposed to go.

Greenfield-Central (that was my high school, for those keeping score at home) brought five students & four coaches, all of whom ran the 15K. I know this because I spoke to one of the coaches at the start line... and that was the last I saw of any of them. Yep, I'm slow. They were not.

The course was absolutely fantastic. Yeah, I wasn't kidding when I said the hills kicked my bum. But the start was so lovely; all the fall leaves on the ground, the air was fresh, the dew was still on the grass; if I didn't know better, I'd have said it was an April morning, not November. But, it was just over a quarter of a mile into the race when we hit the first uphill, and my word, it never stopped.

The mile markers were spray-painted in orange on the ground. I missed the 1-mile mark because I didn't realise that was what I was supposed to be looking for. The turnaround for the 15K was at a horse barn, and the spray-painter, in what was either a public service or a source of personal amusement for him/her, had circled a rather large pile of horse doo. (Had it been me wielding the can, it would have been entirely for my amusement.)

Jennie, by the way, had a brilliant first 5K. She went into the race thinking that I would be done before her (silly sister-in-law; she thinks I can run fast! Boy, did I show her!), which was kind, but not at all an accurate picture of reality. By her own account, she went out too fast, then hit the first hill. And all the leaves, dirt, and other things that made the morning so fresh & appealing for me caused her allergies to do a fandango inside her lungs, so that she had to slow down quite a bit by mile 3. And then when she did finish, she was stuck standing around waiting for me. But, the running community is nothing if not gregarious (once we all finish running, that is), so by the time I was done she was talking to someone about her shin splints. I still feel bad that I left her in a crowd of strangers for nearly an hour, but I am delighted that she had such an open-arms welcome from other runners, even as Chad & I had two years ago at our own first race.

We got some t-shirts to commemorate our adventure, and stood around for the awards, hoping to snag some door prizes. (No joy there, at least not for me; Jennie got a hat for Billy, 'cause it was much too big for her head.) And on the way home, we stopped for a very tasty drink at Taco Bell. Frutista Freeze, maybe? Great stuff.

21 November 2009

Peter Pan

So, a couple of months ago, before they even had auditions for Peter Pan, Amanda's drama coach mentioned on Facebook the musical version of Peter Pan has never been done in Hancock County. He was wrong, as it happens, but it hasn't been done since 1987, so I suppose he can be excused his little memory lapse. The more so since, as Amanda and Jennie both assure me, he's a great teacher.

We got to the school uber-early, because my family can only show up early for things that it's not actually important that we show up early for. You see, they were under the impression that if we got there early, we could get better seats. I didn't bother telling them that your seat was assigned when you bought the ticket, because experience has taught me that there is no point trying to argue with my father or grandmother. Besides, saying "I told you so" is a lot more fun when I didn't actually tell them so, but they think that I did. Ha!

So, I kept the kids busy by walking laps around the school, regaling them with (really boring) tales from when it was my school, and explaining the things that were different ("This used to be at the other end of the building; through here was tile, not carpet; I used to go to class in that room, back when it was a room", etc.). Then the doors were opened, and in we went. It took a minute to collect Grandma from the wrong side of the room and bring her back to where we belonged, and even longer to get everyone settled, and longer still for the girl in front of Denise & I to believe that we were covering our mouths when we sneezed, and weren't sneezing directly into her hair. (If only I were joking.)

So, the show was fantastic. Peter Pan is very interactive, and this version was no exception; we were drawn into the show with jokes, gags, and pirates running wild through the audience. Amanda, as I already mentioned, was the cutest Indian ever. Plus, she had enough beads on her costume for all the others combined; quite literally, as only one other Indian had any. But, the abundance of beads made it easy for the kids to spot her, since they've only seen her a couple of times & don't really know who she is.

Did I mention the flower? No? Well, there is a very old tradition at GC that the drama parents (or someone) sell flowers for the students. You write a message, hand over a dollar, and the thespian of your choice gets an encouraging (and pretty) message during intermission. Well, that's almost what happened; I guess intermission was busy, none of the students got their flowers, and therefore Amanda didn't know that I was there until after the show, when she saw Grandma waving frantically at her. And me, standing beside Grandma. The look that came over her face was priceless; if only I'd had the camera handy. Surprise!

Also, I had a chance to chat with the choir director, who is one of only a handful of teachers left from my schooldays. (Yep, I finished 'em off!) She thinks Amanda is wonderful, too. And rightly so.

20 November 2009

Friday Countdown

Thanksgiving/Turkey Trot: 6 days
Christmas Tea: 10 days
Redline: 22 days
Christmas: 35 days
Anniversary: 42 days
Olympics: 83 days
Austin Marathon: 85 days

Friday

So, I got on an airplane in the wee hours. This is the same flight (sort of-- you get what I mean) that was delayed when I went to Indiana in May, that resulted in me having this free flight in the first place. No such luck this time around-- we took off on time, and I promptly fell asleep, because it was 6 AM, I'd been up since 4:30, and hadn't gone to bed until midnight.

And then I woke up again. Oh, did you think I could sleep on a moving plane? Silly! As soon as the sun came up, I gave up on the whole sleep thing altogether and began working on my wreath. The flight attendant stopped to watch for a second, and said, "I haven't done that in years!" Apparently these peppermint wreaths were quite the rage a decade or so ago. Who knew?

Landed in Memphis, found out my next gate was directly across from my first gate & that I had 45 minutes to go 10 feet, so I went hunting for some food. Met a really nice woman with a beautiful accent who is from Louisiana. (Can I just add that I am meeting people from Louisiana everywhere I go? It's not really a surprise, what with Katrina scattering New Orleans residents all over the map, but I was expecting it to level off by now.)

One more flight, landed in Indy (smoothest landing ever; great job, pilot!), and my bag was already circling the carousel by the time I got down to baggage claim. Collected the bag, Dad and Denise, and then we had an amusing game of I Think We Parked On This Row. Once that was all settled, away we went.

Had lunch at Steak & Shake (and I highly recommend the Guacamole Burger), went to Grandma's, tried to finish one of the quilts, got the thread all jumbled up in the bobbin, and gave it up. Grandma said she would finish them both off for me in time for Christmas. Thanks, Grandma!

Collected the kids, ate some spaghetti (why I can't cook spaghetti like Grandma does I shall never know; she always gets the texture perfect), then got all dressed up for Peter Pan.

19 November 2009

Oops.

Missed a few days. It happens.

So, I added to my blogroll again (BKing (no, that isn't short for Burger King or biking)-- go check it out), because I can't get enough of other people's words. I'm a reader. I've been a reader for so long, I don't remember not being able to read. (Thank you, Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers, & Electric Company. Especially Electric Company.) I've always dreamed of being a writer, but the truth is, my best writing has always been tinted with others' words. And I'm pretty sure that's called plagarism. Bummer.

But I look at my blogroll, and see names of people I've known for a long time, some I've known for a short time, and some I'll never know in person. And the name that jumped out at me tonight was Anne Ryder.

She hasn't posted in five months (or so Blogger says). She is a remarkably infrequent poster. I've never met her in person, not even long enough for an autograph. I likely never will. I should, in the interest of tidyness & keeping my blogroll under control, just take her off my list.

But I won't. Because when she posts, it's a good read. (I hope someone feels that way about my blog!) Sometimes, it's pure gold. And even if those things weren't true... she was one of my childhood heroes. Sesame Street characters aside, she may have been my first childhood hero-- and much more so than anyone on Sesame Street, because she is a real person, not a character. And I was still listening to her-- and looking forward to it-- on a daily basis, long after I lost interest in Big Bird and the Teeny Little Super Guy (even though he was pretty cool).

So, blog on, friends and strangers alike. I am waiting to read what you have to say.

15 November 2009

Amanda

I'm probably going to hear something about this pic-- it is a couple of years old, after all-- but the only other ones I have are from when she was five. I thought this was probably the best I could do.

My littlest cousin is not so little any longer (she's been taller than me since she was, I don't know, 11?), but she is still dear to my heart. She's a band and drama nerd. She is uber-smart. She got her share of the pretty genes, and it's possible that she took mine, too. (I want those back, by the way!) She is cool, she is fun, and she is an all-around lovely person.

And since she is a senior in high school, and this weekend was her last musical in high school, and I had a free ticket on Northwest, I flew up to see Peter Pan. And my littlest cousin takes the "cutest Indian ever" award.

And tonight we watched the Colts win together. I'll add that to my "never thought I'd do that" list. (Watch the Colts, that is.)

14 November 2009

15K

I ran a trail race today.

The race's website rated that hills as a 4 out of 5 on a difficulty scale, and they weren't kidding. They also said that you could stay dry when crossing a creek if you were careful. They may have been kidding about that.

This was my first time running on trails, and I am totally hooked. Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of trails to run on in Lubbock.

Anyway, between trying not to fall into any ruts or turn my ankles on loose rocks, and stay out of the way of other runners, I am completely worn out. But hey, I got the PR I was looking for.

13 November 2009

Friday Countdown

Turkey Trot: 13 days
Christmas tea: 17 days
Christmas: 42 days
Anniversary: 49 days
Vancouver Olympics: 90 days
Austin marathon: 92 days

12 November 2009

Bunko!

I do fully intend to devote at least one post in November, and perhaps two or three, to the 40th anniversary of Sesame Street and my celebration thereof. I'm just putting it off to heighten the excitement.

So tonight was Bunko night.

Women in the 1700s had tea parties. In the 1800s, it was quilting bees. In various decades throughout the 1900s, we had home parties for everything under the sun. In the 2000s, for me at least, it's Bunko.

We shriek. We laugh. We cry. We scream. We sing. Sometimes, all at once. The game is really just background for all the conversation going on.

And at the end, we all say goodnight and go home smiling. With prizes, no less.

We could solve a myriad of interpersonal relationship issues with a game of Bunko. Saving the world, one set of dice at a time.

11 November 2009

In Remembrance

I wore a poppy today. All day.

Which meant I also did a lot of explaining today. Because we in the US don't normally see poppies for Veterans' Day, and apparently "In Flanders Fields" is not on the required reading list in Texas schools. (And to judge by at least one comment I heard today, WWI is also not on the curriculum.)

But a local grocery store was handing them out this weekend, and while I missed out on that, I can Google "poppy" with the best of them, print one out, and pin it on. Which is what I did.

Veterans' Day, Armistice Day, Remembrance Day-- call it what you like. I call it a day for reflection, for sadness and for gratitude. A day to let our soldiers know they are appreciated. A day to honour those who will never hear our thanks. A day for wishing that the "War to End all Wars" had indeed been so. Alas that it was not.

10 November 2009

Keep walking...

I don't understand why people in this country don't walk.

Okay, I do understand it if, like my parents, you live five miles from anything. I understand if you are mobility-impaired. I understand that not everyone can walk everywhere.

I don't understand people for whom the walk from their front door to their mailbox is almost too far.

Yes, this post has been inspired by my lovely walk to work today. And it was so lovely, that I want everyone else to try it once, just to see how nice it is. Not every day! Not necessarily to work, either; you can just as easily walk somewhere else. Just once! Just to try it!

I loved every episode of season four of Doctor Who. But possibly my favourite (favourites, actually; it was a two-parter) was the episode that involved a device on half the cars in the world which cut the emissions down to nothing. Totally cool idea, by the way; and the sooner we invent one, the better. The problem for the Doctor, of course, was that the devices could also be used to do the opposite; the aliens controlling the devices used them to produce human-choking chemical soup that happened to be perfect conditions for alien cloning. Bummer.

So the episode ends with cars parked in driveways throughout London, and neighbours happily chatting about walking to the shops instead of driving. It was a great scene, and gave this two-parter a serious bump on my "great episode!" scale.

I hope we do start walking. And I hope it doesn't take an alien invasion to convince us to do so.

09 November 2009

One Year Ago

So, I've been a half-marathoner for a year.

That's kind of wild, really; in the past two years, I've gone from "I'm never running that kind of distance" to "Hey, it's not so bad, really," to "I know-- how about I do a full marathon?" I don't know where this kind of insanity comes from.

So, a year ago yesterday I ran my first half. It was rough, mostly because I went out too fast. But I finished, and was so happy about that. I'm still happy about it, one year later.

Sadly, I won't be repeating that race this year. Which is really a bummer, because I wanted to have my revenge upon those hills. Chad is doing it, though, which should be entertaining.

I, meanwhile, will be chasing a new 15K PR. Shouldn't be too hard, since the old one has been around for a year and a half, and I've gotten quite a bit faster in that interval. We shall see!

08 November 2009

A letter to the Busyness Gremlin

Dear Busyness Gremlin:

I don't know how you found me. I've been successfully avoiding you for years, even when everyone else has been seeking you out. I kept away from your and your ploys, but when I let my guard down, in you came. A plague upon you!

I would like my non-busy life back. Now. I am perfectly content to be unhurried, unbusyed, and unbothered. There are plenty of other people who will be happy to let you direct their lives, so just you go harry them instead for a while.

So, this is what I suggest: Go away. Only for a week or two, mind you; I will allow you to return on Thanksgiving Day. You can stay with us for the holidays (after all, that is your prime time of year), if you like. Five weeks of my life that you can busy on up to your little gremlin heart's content.

But, come January, you are gone. The marathon gremin is coming to stay for a six-week engagement on January 1st, and he will show you the door. Sorry to seem so harsh, but after all, he made reservations ahead of time.

Pack your bags, and I'll see you in a couple of weeks.

Sincerely,
Susan

07 November 2009

There is a flag that's flown

Our office is not good at keeping up with our flag.

You see, like most other offices, we have a flag outside. And since there are no longer regulations regarding nighttime illumination, and there are such things as all-weather flags, the flag goes up on the pole & stays there until it is tatty. Such is the way of office flags, to judge by many of the ones I saw today.

When former President Ford died a couple of years ago, I got to the office one day and mentioned to our office manager that ours was the only flag in town not at half-mast, and that we should probably fix it. She ignored me. (In case anyone was wondering how much pull I have at my office, there is your answer.) Not until three or four people stopped by to complain that we had the only flag in town not at half-mast did the powers that be decide to do something about it.

Yesterday, someone stopped by to complain that we didn't have our flag at half mast. We corrected it right away, so I suppose we've learned something in the past couple of years. (I certainly have; I didn't waste breath telling anyone we needed to fix it.)

Our poor flag is so unfortunate; nothing ever happens to it unless someone stops to complain. It could be 13 strips of fabric loosely held together by a single thread, and we would probably never realise it if not for the flag police. (I call them that because, seriously, who stops at an office to go in & complain about the state of the flag? There must be an official position for that.)

And that gets me wondering about flags in general. I mean, what we have in this country is, as I've said, 13 strips of fabric sewn together. That makes 12 seams, or 12 weakest points for a flag to fray at. I'm sure that all-weather flags are made with the best thread available, but still, combine that many weak spots with the wind out here and you have a recipe for a very tattered flag.

Which is what happens. Most of the flags in this town have tattered edges. I guess that's a sign they've been doing their job. You won't catch me complaining.

06 November 2009

Friday Countdown

Just because I can... and because Mark Remy is doing it. Such a bad example!

My next 15K: 8 days
Chad's half marathon: 8 days
Turkey Trot: 20 days
Christmas Tea: 24 days
Christmas: 49 days
My Anniversary: 56 days
Vancouver Olympics: 97 days
Austin Marathon: 99 days

And before you ask... no, I will not include your birthday in my countdown.

05 November 2009

The Bicycle Came Back!

My bicycle had to go in for its three-month checkup.

Actually, I probably would have forgotten that the cost of buying a new bike from the good people at DFC included free adjustments for 90 days, but I woke up yesterday morning to a back tire that was extremely flattened. I think this is due to a mysterious object I ran over on Tuesday (swerved & missed it with the front tire; ran over it with the back one. Oops).

So, one new tire & one new screw for the over-the-tire rack later, and I'm back in business. And the nice young man also tightened up things that had come loose (I guess-- that's what he was supposed to do, anyway). So, my still-like-new bike is all ready to go tomorrow.

Also in the news today... I had a really good run this evening. The really good runs are the ones that keep me going back out again every day, even on the days that aren't really good.

And, since I know you are wondering: 100 days until I LOVE Austin!

04 November 2009

NBC is doing it!!

Advertising for the Olympics, that is. I take that as justification for me to do it, too. :)

So, I was sitting in my college speech class about four and a half years ago. It was our first speech, and "introduce yourself" type thing, and the topics revolved around interesting things that happened on our birth day/month/year. Everything was rolling along smoothly and I already had earned my own grade, and was enjoying my classmates' speeches.

Then, this innocent young 20-year-old man got up, to tell us all about being born in 1984. In the course of his speech, he said (and I am not kidding), "1984 was the only year that the Winter and Summer games were held in the same year."

Cue me, falling out of my chair. Okay, not really, but I did a serious slump. Never mind that I can remember the 1984 Olympics (thank you, Mary Lou!), but these people couldn't even remember both games being held in the same year! It didn't change that long ago! 1994, to be exact, was the first year of separation!

Sigh. So at the end of class, in great Susan's-foot-in-mouth style, I asked, "So, does everyone over 25 feel really old now?" And in unison, the other six or so non-traditional students all answered, "Yes."

At least I wasn't alone. So my cautionary tale is this: When giving a speech, do some research first.

03 November 2009

100 Days

The Vancouver Olympics are 100 days away. And I'd like to add my own "Huzzah!" to the myriads of cheers going up.

Yeah, I love the Olympics. Summer, winter, near, far, live, prerecorded... doesn't matter. I'll watch it all. The night of the opening ceremonies, I'll be... in Austin. Possibly watching, depending upon what the people we're staying with are doing. It's totally in their hands whether or not I watch the opening.

But the next day, I'll be watching. All day, while sitting in my hotel room with my feet up. You see, the Olympics open the weekend of the Austin marathon. Which, by the way, is 102 days away.

I don't keep up with most winter sports in non-Olympic years, mostly because it makes me cold just to watch. But I am sad we won't see Joey Cheek back again in the speed skating, because he so inspired me last time around by his committment to champion a cause (Right to Play). And something he said in an interview has stuck with me throughout my running journey to date:

Reporter: What's the hardest thing about being an Olympian?

Joey Cheek: Training until you throw up. Every day.

Mr. Cheek is now also working for Team Darfur, continuing to use what influence he has for the good of others. If that isn't enough to inspire me, then nothing else could possibly be, either.

I don't train nearly that hard. But the thought that others do makes me push myself when I'd rather lay down on the pavement and take a nap. Day 3 of the Vancouver Olympics will find me lining up at my own start line, putting my own training to the test, seeing if my own hopes will be fulfilled. I can't wait. And I hope I can do some good along the way.

(I don't know what is wrong with Blogger today. Please ignore the rather random formatting.)

02 November 2009

Happy Days are Here Again

So, I've had a bit of a problem with Lubbock drivers lately.

You see, I do a lot of running, cycling, and walking. Most of this city does a lot of driving. There's a bit of a conflict of cultures in that. And in the past couple of weeks, I've witnessed a lot of stupid driving that could (and in at least two cases, nearly did) jeopardise my life.

So, I produced a series of "pep talks" on Facebook to encourage the Lubbock drivers to stay in their lanes, observe traffic laws, and most importantly, actually see the pedestrians & cyclists out there. For reasons passing understanding, it is widely accepted that drivers do not see anything smaller than a car. Sigh.

Then, one day last week, I was on the far right of 34th street and needed to get to the left-turn lane. I looked around, saw one truck waaaaay back, stuck my arm out, and crossed over to the middle, where I had to come to a stop. The driver of the truck pulled up next to me, and since we had a red light, he rolled down his window for a brief friendly chat.

Since that day, I haven't been able to bring myself to complain about the Lubbock drivers-- all because of one act of kindness. To paraphrase Maria Trapp (yes, that Maria Trapp) in her highly enjoyable book The Sound of Music, "Why do we use this magic wand so little? It would turn this world into a paradise."

01 November 2009

I don't know the abbreviation

And I'm not even going to try it. But November is basically a do-everything-you-ever-thought-about month, including blogging every day. I managed it last year (pre-Facebook, mind you); can I do it again?

So, first order of business: My first full marathon is 15 weeks away. I'm running 26.2 miles on Valentine's Day. How romantic is that? I mean, Chad is running it, too, but it's not like we'll be running together. I'll probably wait for him at the finish line, but that's the extent of the romance. Perhaps we'll take along some post-race chardonnay. Ha! I thought about taking advantage of the post-race massage booth, but apparently it's bad for your muscles to get a massage immediately after.

So, I'm left with... a piece of chocolate cake at our post-race lunch? That may be the best I can do. Hmmm.

Second order of business: The Ladies' Christmas Tea is 29 days away (four weeks tomorrow!). I'm running it, and getting by with some help from my friends, for the third hit year.

Expect to hear a lot about those two things this month. And any other really bizarre thing that comes to mind.

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