What are we talking about today?

I'll get back to theme days once I find a groove of posting regularly. In the meantime, most of my posts are about some variation of books, bikes, buses, or Broadway. Plus bits about writing, nonprofits, and grief from time to time.

This blog is mostly lighthearted and pretty silly. It's not about the terrible things happening in the world, but please know that I'm not ignoring those things. I just generally don't write about them here.

31 July 2009

Cycle's End

Yeah, so blogging every day in July was a pipe dream. Especially considering I was on holiday with spotty internet. I don't know what I was thinking. Perhaps August will be better.

I will regale you with tales from California for the next few days, but let's just start with current events, shall we? This morning, I got my bike out to ride to work. I had a big silly grin on my face (as ever, when I miss out on anything for a few days) at the start because I was having so much fun.

There were a couple of things missing: 1. My stopwatch died while we were in California, so I was timer-free this morning, and 2. The big dog that normally acts like he'd like to have me for breakfast was nowhere to be seen. Odd.

So I'm rolling along, all fine and dandy, and was just about to cross the last major street between me and my destination, and I start to slow down for a red light, and I feel a snap. I squeezed the brake lever a couple of more times before I realise that I've begun to speed up again. Oh, no-- my brake cable broke.

I got safely to work, and safely back home again, but relying soley on my front brakes is risky business. Firstly, they are not too reliable themselves, and secondly, I have a hard time judging how slow I need to be moving before hitting said brakes. But, I got there in the end.

And tomorrow, I get to go be fitted for a brand-new bike. So, it's not all bad.

14 July 2009

Blue & Green Go Well Together

There is really nothing better than green trees against a blue sky. Seriously. Especially when viewed through sunglasses, which make the colours more intense.

I thought I was dangerously close to the mad geese again today, but they were either 1) too hot to be bothered or 2) still full from their last victim. Either way, they ignored me.

And, the playa lake in the park is getting low again. I think it's time for some rain!

Almost midnight

I'm up late, chatting on Facebook, because I am just plain silly.

So I went to a girls' night tonight, which is quite a departure for me. But, from time to time I try to be social and friendly and stuff. We watched Bride Wars, which was quite funny. Nice ending, too.

This is probably the result of having caffeine today-- I should have known better! My coworkers all like me better when decaffeinated, anyway. But, I had a lot of work to do today, so I kept the looney to a minumum.

12 July 2009

Bouncy Slides

So, we had a picnic & concert.

Picnic was good! Our grill masters at South Plains know what they are doing when it comes to making burgers. I don't eat beef unless it is cooked by someone else (I just do not like cooking it), so church picnics are about the only time I have burgers. We had some issues with the mayonnaise (both me & the nice young man ahead of me picked up bottles that were still sealed, leading to several minutes of struggling to get the seal off, then the woman behind me dripped water all over my burger bun trying to get herself some mayo), and I opened three coolers before I found the water, and most of the shade was already taken by the time we got there. However, minor inconveniences aside, it was good food and we had some nice fellowship with our friends.

After the first band and before the second, I went to explore the bouncy castles we had set up, to see if I was allowed to try them. There was no weight or age limit posted, so I went ahead up a rather tall slide. I also took a little friend with me-- a little girl, who was probably around two, was there with her grandmother who was not willing to try the bouncy slide. So, the two of us went up & then down again.

And that was when the fun started. The slide had been having some toppling issues, and one of the kids enlightened me that it was because several kids had climbed up to the very top at once and were trying to bring it down. Plus, those couple of minutes I was there was enough for me to discover there was a lot of shoving and no waiting in line for this slide. So, concerned as I was for the children's safety, I took over as the responsible adult, got them into line, made them take turns and only go up one at a time, and thus ensured that I would spend the rest of the evening at the foot of this slide.

Another of the bouncy creations was also a slide, only smaller and wider, and one of the kids had gotten the bright idea to dump bottled water on it. Which was the cue for all the kids to dump on bottled water. I thought it was a waste, but as the kids had to keep returning to the picnic area for more bottles, I felt sure that sooner or later a parent would intervene. It turned out to be later rather than sooner, as it happened.

Apparently the concert was not wonderful, so I didn't miss out on much. The kids were pretty fun, anyway, and I kept having to rescue the very small ones when the older ones got too rowdy. I'm always a bit leery of picking up kids who don't know me, but tonight I made a lot of exceptions to my own rule. Plus, I got to meet a mum when her little girl said "Mama!" a few times until I decided that I really had better find her mum and return her.

So, my verdict? We should have picnics more often, and skip the concerts.

11 July 2009

Oops. Missed a day.

Oh, well, can't have everything.

So, our church started last year having a massive, one-weekend, community service day. They hoped for 50 people to come join in last year, and over 300 turned up. We all had a great day.

This weekend, we were at it again. Chad went yesterday to one of the local children's homes to help trim hedges, get tree branches off power lines, and that sort of thing. Today, we were out there again to finish up.

We did this last year, too, and I'm not sure it's been done at all in the interim. The difference is that this year we had temps in excess of 100 degrees. But, we got it done. I suppose that the ministers couldn't predict back in January which weekend during the summer would be the hottest-- but they may have chosen the correct one! Actually, our group was quite lucky-- we at least had shade. Some people were painting, putting up fences, and other hard labour without the benefit of trees and houses to hide behind. I haven't talked to any of them yet, though, so I don't know how it went.

Unfortunately, doing grounds keeping stuff at the Children's Home meant we didn't really get to interact with the kids, which is too bad. I chatted with a couple of boys for a few minutes about their toy guns, and that's pretty much it. I saw kids outside playing and riding their bikes, but everyone was back inside by the time we were leaving-- it was lunchtime, after all, and pretty hot.

I love seeing the kids at the Home ride their bikes. A lot of them never had a bike in their life before coming to the Home. A staple of my-- and, if all one hears is true, most of my friends'-- childhood was riding my bike, and yet these kids have missed out on that. The kids who are placed at the Children's Home are there through no fault of their own, and have had a raw deal in a lot of ways. But an upside of them being in the Home is that they get this little bit of their childhood back-- someone else is looking after them, taking care of keeping them housed & fed, and they can ride their bikes like all other kids.

Tomorrow, we have a picnic & concert to wrap up the weekend. Stay tuned to hear how it goes.

09 July 2009

I need a Siesta after this Fiesta

Our youth group at church normally has a mission trip every summer. The past few years, they've gone to Casa de la Esperanza in Mexico, and spent the week doing hard labour and playing with the kids. Casa is a children's home, and they rely upon these visits from youth, college and other groups to get a lot of their funding and to get a lot of work done.

Problem: There is a travel advisory to Mexico, due to the violence that's been rampaging through parts of the country for the past few months. And then they had to go get Swine Flu.

So, our youth, along with many, many others, weren't able to go. On one level, that really depresses me; the Mexican people have to live there and deal with this situation all the time, but as soon as the going gets rough, the Americans back off and leave them to stand alone. It breaks my heart. On the other hand, I don't really have a solution apart from sending our kids down there regardless, and not for anything do I want one of our kids to get hurt.

But, we have a solution of sorts. Our youth group has spent a lot of time & energy on fundraisers the past couple of months, in order to make up some of the funding shortfall that Casa is looking at this year. All that fundraising cumulated in an "Ultimate Mexican Fiesta" last Sunday evening.

We had fajitas. We had tres leches cake. We had agua horchata, and some sort of mango drink. (Both of which were amazingly good.) We had a mariachi band, who were also amazingly good. I was sad when they left.

And, to cap it all off, we had a live auction of stuff actually brought from Mexico. Blankets, pottery, candy, souveniers, and other stuff along those lines were all up for grabs. Before we started, the youth minister encouraged everyone to be generous to help Casa: "I want you to leave this auction feeling like you were ripped off," he said.

And I was impressed, as ever, with the generosity to be found in the room that night. So much so that I wished that the people with deep pockets would go home so I could bid on something. The auctioneer, a member of the church, was really, really good. I don't know where he learned it, but he was brilliant.

And a lot of money was raised. I hope that those present felt some sort of solidarity with the Christians in Mexico, who are trying to serve the Lord in circumstances that we in Lubbock can't imagine. I hope that more than our money was sent south of the border last week. I hope that our hearts went along with it as well.

08 July 2009


It was my turn to bring breakfast for Bible class a few weeks ago, so this is what I made...

A fruit pizza..

And a fruit salad with the leftovers. Good stuff.

I told everyone not to think of this as "health food", since it really isn't, but I don't think they believed me. But, they ate it anyway.

07 July 2009


I've meant to share this little story for a couple of weeks, but keep forgetting about it.

A couple of weeks ago, I went out for a 9-mile run. I was starting a bit later than usual, so I just ran in a circle around the south of Lubbock, starting & finishing at our door (pretty much). It was cloudy, and had been raining off and on for a couple of days, so I put my iPod in a plastic bag before attaching it "just in case".

I had gone about a mile when it started sprinkling. By two miles, it was sprinkling harder. And by the time I reached the 4-mile point, I was in an all-out downpour. There was no dry spot on my shirt to wipe my glasses on, so I perched them on top of my head. I gave up trying to go around puddles, and just went straight through them. I stopped praying that God would stop the rain, and started praying that he would keep my phone (which was in my pocket) from being ruined. I was wringing out my shirt as I went along, for reasons passing understanding, as it did no good whatsoever.

I came to the corner where I turn to head back toward home. There is a country club almost at the corner, with something currently under construction sitting directly south of it against the street. I normally go along the street, but this day the construction site was a mud slick. Deciding that it would be a very strange golfer indeed who was out in this weather, I cut through the golf course.

And for all that water, not one single car splashed me. Not that is mattered, because I couldn't have gotten any wetter.

Some photos for your enjoyment:

After I finished.

My poor socks. They picked up quite a bit of dirt along the way!
The iPod and phone were both none the worse for having had a soggy, 2-hour run.

06 July 2009

Music & Fireworks

So, I've never been to an Independence day concert. In fact, I've only been to the actual "grounds" where the fireworks were being set off twice in my life-- once at the river in Evansville, and a few years ago in Lubbock. When I was growing up, my parents refused to go see the fireworks live at the high school, on the grounds that we could sit in our grandparents' front yard and see most of them.

This year, we decided to go have a look at them in person again. We went early, even though we weren't that interested in the concert, in the hopes of finding a parking space. As it was, we parked a mile away (no, seriously-- I run in that park all the time) from where we ended up sitting. But, it turned out that the concert was quite good! I didn't know either of the men who were the headliners, but they were fantastic. Of course, any concert that includes music from Hello, Dolly!, Les Miserables, The Phantom of the Opera, and Lord of the Rings is bound to be great in my book. And the Lubbock Youth Symphony Orchestra, who played all this music, was fantastic.

The fireworks were also good, and an added bonus (for me) was the live music that went along with it. The music & fireworks were timed to complement each other, and it went off almost perfectly. They started off with "Stars and Stripes Forever", always a good bet in my book, and we found out later that one of the girls from church was on the piccolo. Girl has got some skill.

The traffic going back home was pretty heavy-- after all, organisers were expecting 80,000-100,000 people, which is nearly half the population of Lubbock. The Lubbock PD were way on top of things with their traffic-directing skills, but even at that it took us 40 minutes to cover what is normally a 15-minute (if that) drive. Still, no complaints. It was fun.

In fact, since we had so much fun, I imagine we will be doing it again next year.

05 July 2009

Break out the Strawberries & Cream

Wow. I don't think there are any words left for how I feel about that tennis match. Andy Roddick was spectacular, but in the end, Roger Federer was slightly spectacular-er. And I am so happy about that.

Six Wimbledons, one of few to win the French Open & Wimbledon in the same year, all four majors, and oh yeah, more Grand Slams (15) than anyone. Geez, this guy is amazing. And here's the kicker-- he's not done yet. Looking forward to more amazing spectacularity from him.

I had the most trouble getting to see this match-- our NBC only gets a signal sometimes (although, of course, it's coming in perfectly now that Federer v Roddick is done), so I was watching on the internet-- which got stuck when the score was 5-5. And for a couple of minutes, I had no feed on the internet and no signal on the TV. I actually laid down on the floor and was about to cry, when the Lord heard my prayer and both the TV and the internet came back at once. Thank goodness.

Also, Rafa Nadal, please get that knee well soon. It's not the same without you.

I found out something amazing!

While casually perusing the West Texas Running Club's website, I saw something unusual under the race results. I just wanted to verify my time in the 10 mile race from yesterday. Well, those results aren't on the site yet, but I saw that the results from 1978 are. Odd, I thought, but since that happens to be my year of birth, I opened them to have a look anyway.

I was so intent on looking for people I currently know in the running club, that I missed the first name of note on the list. The second, however, was unmissable: George W. Bush. Age: 31. Hometown: Midland, TX. Time: 20:11. (Not a bad time at all for a 3-mile race!) And just as my brain was still stuttering "Wait-- is that-- ?" I saw that someone had marked this particular line with three arrows. That's who I was supposed to see.

And I glanced back up to to the top, and noticed another marked name: Willie McCool. Age: 16. Hometown: Lubbock, TX. Time: 16:02. (Holy smokes!) This, obviously, was before he joined the Navy, before he learned to fly, and long before his last mission ended in tragedy on February 1, 2003. This name is, for me, a lot more exciting, only because he is a lot closer to my life. He lived in this city for a few years. I train at the Willie McCool Track & Field at Coronado High School. I drive by his monument in Huneke Park. I was standing in front of Coronado mere hours after he died as his classmates laid flowers by the school sign & hung up a banner in tribute to him.

On July 4, 1978, these two remarkable men, along with 65 others, ran a 3-mile race in celebration of Independence day. Another day, another race for the WTRC. It is remarkable that they may have seen one another-- it is an out-and-back course, and Willie, as the faster runner, would have reached the turnaround first. Did either of them even glance up to see the other one? Since we can't see the future, I suppose it didn't enter into either's wildest dreams that not quite 25 short years after that Independence Day run, Mr. Bush would be the president, presiding at Mr. McCool's memorial service.

Yesterday, 31 years later, I ran in the same race, for the same reason, on those same roads. Because I am a runner, as is Mr. Bush. As was Mr. McCool. I wouldn't trade it for anything.

04 July 2009

Fourth on Broadway

I haven't been to our downtown 4th of July street festival for years-- not since the first summer I lived here, really. So, this year we decided to go, after getting refreshed from the race and having lunch so we wouldn't spend a fortune on street fair food.

Yeah. The street fair was almost ALL food. And a couple of mobile phone dealers, and a PSA about the census next year. It's not like we were going to forget, but the man gave us a couple of fridge magnets & pencils just in case.

There were a lot of entertainment tents, but none of them were entertaining enough for us to want to stop. So in the future, I suppose we will plan our downtown jaunts around when people we know will be performing.

There was a parade, too, but we missed it what with our running races and whatnot. Ach, well. Next up: Fireworks.

Let Firecrackers Run

Yep, "Firecracker Run" was the name of the race today. What? I didn't name it!

Yeah, so for the second hit year in a row, Chad & I got lost on our way to the race. This year, we got more lost than last year. I didn't know that was possible.

I was all lined up at the start, and realised that I didn't have any sunscreen on. Oops! Far too late to do anything about it at that point, so I just didn't worry about it. We took off, and I was calling myself all kinds of crazy for signing up for the 10 mile for the first couple of miles. But, I got all settled into my stride, remembered to take walk breaks at each mile, and more or less focused on enjoying my run. And wondering what Chad was doing; he volunteered today, and he drove past me a couple of times. Apparently, he was delivering supplies to the aid stations.

So, not long past mile 3 (for me), I noticed someone up ahead that I hadn't seen before. For a moment, I wondered if that was the leader of the race coming back already, then I thought, "No, it can't be," then I saw that it was. Sheesh. Also, wow! Was he ever moving fast. (It turned out that he wasn't quite going twice as fast as me. I'll take it.)

It's my intention for the next couple of months to experiment with the various sports gels & carb replacements available to see what I like & what works for me. These past two weeks, I've used fruit leather; cheap, simple, and pretty well tasty. (The jury is still out on effective.) I was feeling a bit silly taking some along with me today, until I saw how many of the front-of-the-pack people had their PowerBar gels & other fancy stuff. So, I ate my fruit leather. It was so hot out that when I took it out at mile 5, there was condensation on the inside of the package. Yikes.

The sun came out from behind a cloud at mile 8, and that's when I found out how hot it was. That is, very hot. It stayed out for the remainder of the race (about 22 more minutes), but my back was to the sun for most of that time, so it wasn't too bad.

As ever, I was grateful to the encouragement shouters, aid station workers, and all-around fun people gathered near the finish to cheer in the stragglers. Since it was my first 10-mile race, I couldn't help but PR (gotta love the first race at a new distance), and since there were only 3 people in my age group, I couldn't help but get a medal, either. Brilliant!

03 July 2009

Going to the dogs

As a running, walking, and cycling enthusiaist, I see a lot of dogs. A lot. Big dogs, small dogs, friendly dogs, dogs that would like to have my leg for a snack, dogs that have tried to have my leg for a snack. All sorts of dogs.

On my ride to work, I pass a dog that I think would eat me if given the chance. There is a gap in his fence that is the right size for his face to fit into; as a result, all I've seen of this dog is his nose & teeth. And every now and then, one manic eye. It's possible that this is the friendliest dog in Lubbock and he just wants to play, but somehow he gives me the opposite impression.

On my ride from work, I pass a yard with a chain-link fence, so I've had a good look at both of the dogs who would deafen me, if given the chance. At first, they would jump up and run to the fence barking at me; then, they would jump up and walk to the fence with just a bark or two; then they would just stand up. Lately, they've not even done that. I thought they were getting used to me, but one day when I walked by, they jumped up, ran to the fence, and tried to make me deaf with barking again. So, I suppose it's the bike they recognise.

And there are these itty bitty dogs, just a couple of blocks away from the high-volume dogs, that sometimes get out of their yard and try to chase me. They aren't big enough to even register as a bump if one of them were to jump in front of me, and yet they will chase me for a whole block, yipping away as I tell them to go home.

And my favourites... there are some dogs on one of my running routes that I just love. They used to bark at me, but now they barely glance up when I run by. I don't know dog breeds, but I would guess these dogs are beagles, only because they kind of look like Snoopy. They are really cute, and really friendly, and will run along the fence with me if they are already up. I love seeing them.

Moral of the story: I don't have a moral. Or a dog.

02 July 2009

The Williams sisters are amazing

Yep. I'm still talking about tennis. Wimbledon ends on Sunday; you need only bear it for a few more days.

So, Serena's match was a nail-biter-- I didn't see a lot of it, but what I saw had me glued to the TV, afraid to look away because I might miss something. I saw the last three games, though, and did so much shrieking with joy and jumping up & down that one of my coworkers asked, "Are you okay?" There was a moment when her opponent was up 5-4, and had the advantage, that I thought Serena was going home early-- but, no. She pulled it back, won three games in a row, and left the crowd with quite a lot to talk about during their tea break.

Venus' match was a lot less interesting; she dominated from start to finish. Safina (the world #1, by the way) was way outmatched. To be fair, she didn't really seem to bring her "A" game today (or her "B" game, and perhaps not her "C" game), but for her to only get 1 game out of 13 is crazy. Yeah, I'd say grass is not her favourite surface. But that was a short match; I only saw 30 minutes, and that was the match half done! Crazy!

So, brilliant match coming on Saturday morning. Yay! In the meantime, there is Federer v Hass and Murray v Roddick (also known as Andy v Andy) for me to sneak away from work to watch tomorrow.

01 July 2009

Kicking the habit

And by that I mean, kicking the habit back on. Yep, my blog has a kick-starter. Doesn't yours?

So, what with brevity being the soul of both wit and Twitter, I've gotten out of the habit to blogging. To get back into it, I've set a goal to blog every day for the month of July. Get ready to read some drivel.

And to start off, let's talk about the match with my good pal Roger Federer today. First of all, he's just too good, isn't he? I tuned in during the third set, and would have enjoyed a fourth, but no, Roger had to go win. And at the end, I noticed that he seems to have shrunken in the wash. Perhaps it was the rain at the French Open final? The man he was playing was quite a bit taller than he. So, I googled Mr. Karlovic to discover that he is 6'10" tall. Mystery solved, new mystery started; how could someone that tall, presumably with matching arms, ever lose a tennis match?

Also, everything went my way at Wimbledon today... except for Novak Djokovic. He was supposed to win. He was supposed to play Federer Friday. Now it'll be Tommy Haas instead. Can't have everything, though, and at least we get an Andy v Andy match Friday. (Murray v Roddick, that is... let's go Murray!)