Tuesday, February 28, 2012

First Paragraph Tuesday and Teaser Tuesday -- A Summer in Europe

Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the first paragraph of her current read. Anyone can join in. Go to Diane's website for the image and share the first paragraph of the current book you are reading.
I picked up this book because its title is similar to the title of my novel The Summer of France. This one is A Summer in Europe by Marilyn Brant.
The thing no one understood about Gwendolyn Reese was that she was three ages at once: thirty chronologically, forty-five intellectually and fifteen experientially. The people inhabiting her small circle of acquaintances planned to celebrate the first of these maturational milestones with Mylar balloons and devil's food cake. The second, they revered privately, hoping their appreciation would score them a shot at being her partner during the odd game of Trivial Pursuit. But, with the possible exception of her eccentric Aunt Beatrice, they were patently oblivious to the third.

Also this week is Teaser Tuesdays.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
Here's my teaser from page 64:
Her sneakers may have been dust covered after wandering around Rome and Pompeii, but they were still new and cushiony. She sprang down the next set of steps, the air filling her lungs as she swallowed a whoop of delight at the dizzying rush of wind on her face and the roller-coaster flip of her belly.

I picked up this book last week and didn't think I was going to like it, but I did. It's billed as a romance, but I would consider it having romantic elements. The real story is about a woman who learns about finding joy and taking chances. And, of course, she gets to travel through Europe while doing it. She opens herself to experiencing the cultures rather than checking each location off her to-do list.

Monday, February 27, 2012


I meet each weekend with my friends to run. We start while it is still dark and we talk about everything on the scenic running trail along the river.
This weekend, I made a discovery. Many of us are in serious denial -- that's how we cope.
Here's some evidence:
My friend Stephanie asked if I wanted to join an exercise class near my house. She had already told us about this exercise class and how they take weight and body mass index (BMI) at the beginning. I told her I couldn't possibly join the exercise class until I reduced my BMI. I didn't find anything ironic about needing to lose weight before I join an exercise class.
Then another running friend talked about her new doctor. I said I couldn't possibly go back for another check up until I reduced my cholesterol, which meant more healthy eating and more running. Again, once it's fixed, I'm happy to go get help.
Stephanie has been dealing with some family difficulties and we urged her to go see a psychologist, who we highly recommend.
"I can't possibly go like this," she said. "I'd just go and cry."
So Stephanie must first get control of her emotions before she can go see the psychologist.
That seems to be the way for us -- we want to fix the problem before we go get help for it. It helps up deny there's a problem.
The last straw came at the end of the run; the sun was up and Stephanie stood facing me.
"Oooh. Your eye does look bad," she said. My eye is still recovering from a burst blood vessel that covered the white with red.
"I vote we start running earlier so we can finish before it gets light and we don't have to look at Paulita's eye," Stephanie said.
We'd rather keep things in the dark than have to deal with them. Truthfully, denial is easier.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Birthday Reprise

As this long weekend draws to a close, I wanted to tell you that my birthday do over was a success.
The morning started with tulips and Starbucks; my husband came in later that morning with balloons tied to a little pink Chinese food carton decorated with white polka dots. The box alone was adorable, but inside hid a lovely scarf in taupe and pink. Perfect.
I even managed to tie the scarf in a complicated way that I liked.
I spent much of the day grading papers, but then escaped for a massage at an Aveda spa. The 50-minute massage was a true, relaxing treat and I got to smell the delicious oils for the rest of the day.
Earl and I were going to go out for dinner that night, but the wind howled around the house and I opted to send him out for pizza instead. I spent the rest of the evening reading a book that I enjoyed a lot -- A Summer in Europe.
Spending Friday the way I wanted, meant that I was behind on paper grading Saturday, so I didn't leave my desk much on Saturday, but the day spent pampering me was well worth it.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Buzzing About Spring

To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post on Alyce's blog At Home With Books. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online.
Although the weather feels brutal today, we had some lovely days this week and I got a chance to take some pictures of crocuses blooming.

The small purple flowers were enough to give me hope, but then I saw the bees buzzing around the flowers. I imagined the bees warming up in their hives and flying out in search of pollen. They must be puzzled that they can't find more flowers, not realizing that it's still February.
I'm glad they were able to find these crocuses. I count five bees here. Can you find them all?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Birthday Do Over

Yesterday was my birthday, but beginning at 4:30 a.m., the day was kind of farcical with mix ups, so I'm declaring today my birthday do over. And I will make sure that it's the kind of birthday I really want.
Face it, once we become mothers, no one else is going to make sure we have a great birthday. We have to make it happen ourselves.
And let me add the disclaimer that my husband is generally very good about making holidays special, from Mother's Day to Valentine's Day to birthdays.
This year, his thoughtfulness caused me to lose sleep.
I woke up at 4:30 and he wasn't in bed. I lay there for a few minutes wondering where he could be. I strained my ears to hear if the television was on, thinking he might have fallen asleep on the couch. I sniffed the air to determine whether he'd stayed up all night baking me a birthday cake like he did two years ago. Nothing.
I could go back to sleep, but what if something happened to him. I'd better get up and search for him. The cats accompanied me, trotting along. Not in the living room, dining room, kitchen. I headed down to the basement. Not in the main room or the laundry room. I could hear Spencer gently snoring.
Where could Earl be? I decided to call his cell phone, but first I stepped into Tucker's bedroom. Tucker was gone already to the state swim meet and staying at a hotel. There was Earl asleep.
I shook him awake and said, "Why are you sleeping in here?"
"I didn't want to wake you," he said. He had stayed up late watching All the President's Men on TV and was afraid he'd wake me up when he came to bed.
I turned around and went back to my bed, laying there til nearly 6 before I fell asleep then woke to my alarm at 6:30. A tired start to my birthday.
I made breakfast for Spencer and me, knowing that I wouldn't see him again. He ran out the door 5 minutes before he needed to be at school then called me a few minutes later. His car had stopped at a traffic light.
"Turn on the hazard lights," I told him as I pulled on some pants and woke Earl. I figured one of us could drop Spencer at school while the other dealt with the broken down car.
Instead, within a minute of pulling up at the busy intersection, Earl had squealed off in the other car to go get gas in the gas can. Spencer and I stood in the intersection waving cars around us.
"We could push it into the parking lot,"I suggested. Spencer looked doubtful that we could move the big Ford Explorer.
As we stood there in the early morning chill, I looked at Spencer and said, "Is this a birthday surprise that you and Dad planned? Are people getting ready to jump out singing?"
He laughed, and it wasn't a birthday surprise.
Earl returned about 15 minutes later with gas and we got the car going. Earl said he would take Spencer's car to get gas and that I should drop Spencer at school. Then he pulled off in the big Explorer while Spencer and I climbed into the other car, where we sat, because Earl still had the keys.
"Just walk to school," I said to Spencer.
"Happy Birthday," he said as he unfolded himself from the car and loped off.
I called Earl and sat in the parking lot until he returned with the keys.
Earl was so discombobulated by the start to his day, that he forgot about my birthday until mid-morning.
The rest of the day was spent working then driving to the State Swim Meet, cheering for Tucker, and driving home in the rain.
Today is my birthday do over.
So I started with a run while the birds serenaded me, and I got warm enough to take off my jacket.
Then I went to Starbucks for my free birthday coffee and sat across from Spencer for breakfast enjoying the tulips and card that were waiting for me when I got home at 11 last night.
Tulips are my favorite flower, maybe because I'm so desperate for them by the time it's spring.
I've got some papers to grade, and I might call the Aveda salon to see if they have any spa treatments available today. I'm just going to take it easy -- cause it's my birthday do over.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Flaming Eyes

Tomorrow's my birthday! Yay!
Apparently, my right eye threw an awesome party but forgot to tell the rest of me. My right eye looks like it is nursing quite a hangover. It takes the word bloodshot to a whole new level.

I just feel a little cheated, like I apparently missed some fun.
Has this ever happened to you? I'm nearing the end of my forties and this is a first.
I read about it though. It's called a subconjunctival hemorrhage (or a burst blood vessel) and can be caused by sneezing, coughing, vigorous exercise, rubbing, or stress. I'd like to say vigorous exercise, but rubbing my eyes or stress are more likely the culprit. I woke up with a red eye on Monday and blamed it on little sleep. The boys didn't have school on Monday, but I did. So I woke up at midnight when Tucker came in panting, running home to meet his curfew; when Earl came to bed after a cold walk home from work; and finally when Spencer knocked on the door sometime around 2 a.m. after driving to Cleveland for a Flogging Molly concert. The men in my life have very active night lives.
And I have this very red eye. No worries though. According to the Mayo Clinic website, it should be gone in 10 to 14 days.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Closing the Book

Do you ever stop in the middle of a book?
It's hard to do. Sometimes I've done it because I wasn't enjoying the book. Other times, the book becomes too disturbing.
I read for pleasure and I have a hard time with cruelty or torture. Sometimes if characters make the same dumb choices over and over I put down the book too.
Two weeks ago on First Paragraph Tuesday, I started the book Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan. I enjoyed the book and fretted that all those student papers I had to grade were keeping me from it, but at one point, I had to close it and set it aside. Image from Amazon.com
The book focuses on four female characters from three different generations. The matriarch remembers a night club fire in Boston during World War II that killed hundreds of people, including her sister. So, even though my sister died 30 years ago in a night club fire that killed more than a hundred people, I could keep reading until I came to this section:
Before she could turn the corner, she saw a handful of people inside the club who had managed to break the small windowpanes along Piedmont Street, but had gotten stuck in the windows' metal bars, their heads out, halfway to safety...

Well, I can't type the rest of it.
I put the book aside.
But if I didn't keep reading then that image stayed in my head. I had to go back to the book and let the rest of the words wash away that horrible image.
My own sister wasn't burned in the fire, but died of smoke inhalation, like most of the victims when the exits were chained shut.
I finished the book, and I did enjoy the writing, but when I came to the end, I realized that three of the four characters in the book were not really likeable. They treated people in their family rudely and seemed to make an excuse of the events that had happened to them in the past. What made it worse, I think, was that the characters were mothers who screwed up their own kids because of their past.
When we cleaned up the kitchen the other day, under a pile of papers, my husband found another book that I stopped reading in the middle: Suite Francaise. Image from Amazon.com.
This book was written by a Jewish woman who later was sent to a concentration camp and died there. The book chronicled the panic of Parisians as the Germans moved in to take over. Again, a series of characters shared their experiences. So what caused me to set this one down, never to pick it up again? A young priest is accompanying young male orphans out of the city and they stone him to death.
I just can't abide thinking that people have that ability to be cruel. I know this author was probably seeing worse things as the Germans moved into France and captured the Jewish people and sent them off to die. But I couldn't continue reading.
How about you? What makes you put down a book?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Injury Stories

So we found out last night that Tucker's swim relay teams will be moving on to State competition, which is awesome, and was also just a few hours after he stubbed his toe on the bathroom door and it swelled up.
Offering the proper amount of sympathy for an injury is one of those mothering things I struggle with, as Grace would be happy to tell you. So when Tucker showed me his swollen little toe, it made me reminisce about the time I broke my little toe.
Of course, I didn't stub it on a bathroom door. That would be so bourgeois.
It was the summer I spent a month in Corsica...
I won't bore you with the details of the handsome doctor Francois, the younger brother of the family I stayed with, but one day Francois, his brother-in-law Yves and I took the family sailboat to a beach that could only be reached by boat. It was a special beach, they explained, but neglected to mention that it was a nude beach. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised -- they were French.
So we sailed for about an hour across the Mediterranean on their little white sailboat. The color of the Mediterranean, was startlingly blue. As we sailed beneath the beaming sun, small fish with gills like wings skimmed above the water for long stretches -- flying fish.
When we got to the special, isolated beach, we pulled the boat onto the sand. Francois and Yves immediately shed their bathing suits while I spread a towel away from them, afraid to even look their way. (I was so American.) It was on that beach that I learned most Frenchmen are not circumcised.
On the way home that evening, sizzling from a day at the beach, Francois suggested I try the trapeze on the sailboat. The trapeze is a wire that attaches to the top of the mast then comes down to a harness that can go around a person's waist. I stepped into the trapeze and moved to the side of the sailboat to act as ballast. (I'm not sure if this was a comment on my American lack of thinness.)
I was timid at first, afraid to lean out over the gleaming water. But Francois and Yves both urged me to trust the wire and lean back with my feet planted on the edge of the sailboat. So I did.

I arched my back and felt the spray of the water cooling me as the wind directed the sails and we glided across the Mediterranean. Then the wind changed or Francois wasn't paying attention and suddenly the boat lurched and I went swinging toward the mast, where I hit my foot and broke my little toe.
Francois was a doctor and he assured me that, although the toe was broken, we couldn't really do anything but wait for it to heal. Luckily, I had a few more weeks to spend barefoot on the beach in Corsica.
How about you? Do you have interesting stories about an injury?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Saturday Snapshot -- Swim Successes

To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post on Alyce's blog At Home With Books. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online.
I'm kind of hungover today from a day filled with sports yesterday. I ran off to teach my 8 a.m. class, then my husband and I hosted 18 kids for breakfast preparing to swim at the District meet.

My son Tucker, 15, is a sophomore and was swimming in 4 events.

I might as well cut to the chase and say that Tucker made it to the podium for all 4 events, taking 7th place in 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke then finishing in 3rd for both relays he swam. The top 8 swimmers get medals and stand on the podium to receive them.
I was so excited. The whole day was exhilarating, even though we are waiting to hear if their team made it to states. I didn't even mind that I missed the basketball game that my other son was playing in.
Here are Tucker and his teammates, bald, on the podium for their relay.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

No Rest for the Wicked

I don't mean to complain, which means this already sounds like a complaint, but I just realized that I have only one evening this week where I don't have to be some place.
In the winter, I like to stay home and hibernate, especially in the evenings, so that's a big deal.
Sunday evening, Earl and I went to our ballroom dance class. We're taking the intermediate class this time, so we're a little lost. We came home and shared Brie fondue with the boys.
Monday and Wednesday evenings I teach at 6 p.m.
Last night (Tuesday) was an away basketball game. One of the worst I've seen with our team only scoring 1 point the first quarter. The ball would go in, spin around inside the rim, and pop out. Oh, well. Another evening gone.
Thursday evening is my one night home. I'll spend it cleaning the house because we're having 20 swimmers here on Friday morning for breakfast before they go swim at districts.
After districts all day Friday, we'll go to a basketball game at home Friday night. Then another basketball game Saturday night, which is senior night.
So, rather than complaining about all the to-ing and fro-ing this week, I'll try to savor these waning moments watching my senior play basketball.
I'll cheer on my sophomore swimmer, who broke a school record a few weeks ago and made it to districts in all his events. I'll even cross my fingers that he makes it to states. And if he does, then maybe I'll be posting again next week about how busy things are as I get Tucker to swim practice then drive to northern Ohio for the state swim tournament. But...I'm getting ahead of myself.
I'd better get through the rest of this week first.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Mixing It Up

Maybe it's because I'm always looking at Spencer from below, since he is a foot taller than I am, but his face looks like it's all angles to me. Knobby cheekbones and sharp jawbones. His chin square, like mine and my dad's.
On Saturday, during a basketball game, he went down in a pile of guys scrambling for the ball and managed to wrap his arms around it while signaling time out. The ref blew his whistle and Spencer unfolded to his feet rubbing his cheekbone, which bloomed a bright red. He shook his head a few times, and I worried that he might have hit his head.
"Darn, I should have had that baseline concussion test," I said to my friend Jane.
But after the timeout, Spencer was back in the game.
He told me later that he took a knee to his cheekbone. I took a picture, but it doesn't really capture the skin stretched tight over the bump that formed on his cheek, or the purple that spread under his eye.
His beaten up, angular face was such a contrast to the pictures I looked at last night while searching for shots of him for senior night. As a young boy, he had a round face and giant blue eyes.

Who knows if that round-faced little boy will make an appearance in his face as he ages into his 20s.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Saturday Snapshot -- Signs of Spring

To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post on Alyce's blog At Home With Books. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online.
This week, the weather continued to be mild, and as I came home from work one afternoon, I noticed some fresh, painfully hopeful green sprouting in my flower gardens.

The plants and the earth are obviously confused by this very warm winter. They're deciding to begin sprouting.
And look at the contrast between the newly green plants and last-year's weathered mulch.

Then this morning we awoke to a few inches of heavy, wet snow and 11 degrees.

I hope those green sprouts are insulated from the cold by the snow. I'm ready for them.
This reminded me of the first time Earl and I traveled to Europe together after we had been married for a year. We stayed in a chalet in the Alps one night and when we woke up the next morning -- snow! On the tulips. Here's a copy of the picture.

Enjoy your day.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Scarf Impaired

I think I'm scarf impaired. No matter how I tie a scarf, it ends up looking like a thick string around my neck or a kerchief. Sigh.
This morning, I have on my purple cashmere sweater and a silk scarf from a blogging friend who moved from Texas to Paris for a year. The scarf has shades of green, some blue and pale purple running through it. I knew it would go perfectly with the sweater, but how to tie it?
It's a square, so I folded it in half to make a triangle and I turned to the Youtube video 25 Ways to Wear a Scarf.

The woman on this video is a genius and she makes everything look so easy.
I tried and tried to tie it, but each time it ended up looking like I was a cowboy wearing a bandana ready to cover my face in a dust storm created by cattle on the move.
Then I went to school to teach and scarf unwrapped itself like a snake uncoiling. Crumbs from my breakfast fell onto the desk in front of me and I wiped them away before any of the students noticed that my kerchief had captured my breakfast crumbs.
Eventually, I just tied the scarf in a knot in front of my sweater. That's as fancy as I'm able to get with scarves.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Feeding Teenage Boys

I mentioned in an earlier post that money is tight this week, so my cooking habits have to change.
That's when I realized how much money I must be wasting every month, and how much processed food my boys eat. Of course, they prefer the processed food, but that's another story.
Especially on Mondays and Wednesdays, when I work in the mornings and then work again in the evenings, I'm often loathe to cook dinner. I might let the boys fend for themselves with cereal.
Their crazy schedule also adds to the mayhem.
Spencer has basketball practice after school and doesn't get home until around 6.
Tucker has musical practice (he's in the chorus of Oklahoma!) until 5:30 then goes to swim practice at 6:30 til 8:45. He can't eat too close to swim practice because he's gotten sick before.
Truthfully, there's no time during the week when we can all sit down and eat dinner together. It's easier to set out a salad and put something in the slow cooker so everyone can eat on their own time.
This week, the boys quickly ate the granola bars and peanut butter crackers that I had planned to add to their lunches. Then they stood in front of the cabinet complaining there's nothing to eat. Spencer will grab apples and clementine oranges to eat, but fruit doesn't seem to fill that gnawing in their stomaches.
I've increased my cooking and baking. Luckily, even though finances are tight, I have plenty of flour.
I used to bake homemade bread all the time. I felt like even if I fed the family spaghetti with jarred sauce, a homemade loaf of bread made it a real meal. Then the boys got to a point where they wouldn't eat my homemade bread and I started working longer hours. I baked less and less frequently.
This week, I've made up for it. So far I've baked two loaves of banana bread, chili and French bread, brownies, chocolate peanut butter cookies and a loaf of Italian bread.
Tuesday I rolled out a homemade pizza and Wednesday, before I left for work again, I pulled a quiche from the oven. When I got home from work a little after 9, Tucker was climbing out of the shower after swim practice.
"Did you eat some quiche?" I asked.
"No," he said. "I don't want any."
"I'll warm it up for you," I said.
"Okay," he agreed. Did I mention that laziness, or perhaps pure exhaustion keeps teenage boys from eating homemade food?
In spite of all that baking, the boys still walk in the house and complain that there's nothing to eat. It's a good thing that we don't eat gluten-free, because I have no idea how I would fill my boys up if they didn't eat gluten.
The loaf of Italian Herb bread on Monday was a hit and made my house smell so good that I've included the recipe here.
1 cup + 2 Tbl water
1 tsp lemon juice
2 Tbl oil
3 Tbl sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbl dry milk
3 1/4 cups bread flour
2 tsp dried Italian seasoning
1 1/2 tsp dry yeast

Mix up the dough and knead it. (I don't do a lot of kneading). Let it rise then knead again and shape into a loaf. Let it rise one more time. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

First Paragraph, Tuesday Teaser -- Maine

Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the first paragraph of her current read. Anyone can join in. Go to Diane's website for the image and share the first paragraph of the current book you are reading.
Finally, I picked up the book Maine by Coutrney Sullivan. I've wanted to read it for quite awhile. Here's the first paragraph:
Alice decided to take a break from packing. She lit a cigarette, leaning back in one of the wicker chairs that were always slightly damp from the sea breeze. She glanced around at the cardboard boxes filled with her family's belongings, each glass and saltshaker and picture frame wrapped carefully in newspaper. There were at least a couple of boxes in every room of the house. She needed to make sure she had taken them all to Goodwill by the time the children arrived. This had been their summer home for sixty years, and it amazed her how many objects they had accumulated. She didn't want anyone to be burdened by the mess once she was gone.

What do you think? Would you keep reading?
If you aren't sure, take a look at this teaser.
Also this week is Teaser Tuesdays.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
Here's my teaser from page 119:
"She didn't want to leave him. She just wanted him to change, even as she recognized this as classic child-of-an-alcoholic behavior, even as she could hear her mother's voice in her head saying the only person you can ever truly change is yourself."
Are you intrigued?

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Getting in Shape

As someone who runs, I usually think that I am in fairly decent shape. At the beginning of December though, right around the time that I needed to figure out a way to get my daughter home from France, I started having lower back pain. Yes, it might have been stress.
I couldn't easily pinpoint what was causing the back pain because it didn't bother me when I ran or when I did P90X, but the pain would wake me up in the early morning as I lay in bed unable to turn over. I ended up sometimes grasping the side of the mattress and hoisting myself over with my hands. I hated that. Then most mornings, my back would be so stiff I couldn't bend over to pick up my shoes or slide open a drawer to pull out clothes.
I decided to cut back on my running to see if it made a difference. I tried lifting weights, not lifting weights. Running, not running. Walking. Changing shoes. Avoiding the couch in the evenings. The pain continued.
Finally around the beginning of the year, I got serious about documenting the pain. I went to the Y and ran 3 miles on the treadmill and was surprised how quickly I'd gotten out of shape. I couldn't run 3 miles in a row. I'd run one mile then need to walk.
I got into the habit of running at my regular speed then sprinting before walking some. I kept mixing it up, still disappointed at my lack of stamina.
Then February loomed and I knew I needed to get serious about getting back in shape for two reasons other than the back pain. One reason is that my birthday arrives in February. My birthday is a time when I do a little self assessment. Being in shape is definitely a criteria I want to meet. The other reason is that senior night is coming up for the basketball players. My son Spencer is a senior, so my husband and I will accompany him across the gym. I know that if I'm in good shape, I'll walk with confidence rather than slumping across the gym a foot shorter than my husband and son. (Note to self, Wear Heels!)
As my rambling runs on the treadmill continued, I was able to correlate a connection between the days that I ran and the next morning when Ihad no back pain. Eureka. So I needed to keep running. I figured five days a week should keep me out of pain.
Then the nice weather arrived. I couldn't figure out why I should go run on a treadmill when the mornings were balmy in the 40s. So I started to run outside. I'll admit to some back pain the first morning that I ran four miles along the street. My mind raced. Was it the extra mile? Was it the asphalt? I decided to keep going to see what happened.
And this morning, for the first time in nearly three months, I ran five miles from start to finish without stopping to walk in between.
I officially declare myself back in shape, even though no one who looked at me might see much of a difference from two months ago, my lungs and my leg muscles know what I'm talking about.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Saturday Snapshot -- Food

To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post on Alyce's blog At Home With Books. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online.

This is one of those weeks where paying for college leaves me, and the men in my family, eating noodles all week. That made me want to include a photo of something yummier to eat.
Here's a picture of some kind of chocolate twist pastry that Grace had in France last fall. I can almost taste it. Can you?

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Cat Injuries

If anyone looked at me closely today (and no one every does) they might have noticed the shadow of a round bruise just above my lip. The small circle might have been mistaken for a smudge of newsprint, or perhaps a small mustache as I age.
But as I stood in front of three classes and in front of both my boys and my husband, no one noted the bruise on my lip or the one slightly higher on my cheek that came from a house cat.
I know, animals can cause injuries. I've had my share of scratches and a few sore shoulders when the dog used to pull on the chain, but the face bruise, well that's a new one.
I walked in the back door after work on Tuesday to an empty house, except for the cats. The cats generally gather near the back door in hopes of getting food or escaping whenever anyone comes in or out.
Tupi, the big, extra-toed cat, was sitting by the back door on top of the oak cabinet that we call a pie safe. It's one of his favorite spots for looking out doors and windows.
I walked in the door and let the screen slam behind me. This last day of January was a balmy 62 and the cats were feeling fiesty, which is perhaps why Tupi decided to jump onto the kitchen counter across from the pie safe.
So as I stepped into the kitchen, he squatted onto his haunches and launched himself into the air to make the forbidden and risky jump across the kitchen floor.
That's when we collided.
I took a cat head to the right side of my face and he dropped to the tile floor, of course, landing on his feet.
I worried about him for a minute as I put my hand to my face. Did that just happen? Could the cat have a concussion? Did he knock out any teeth?
"That really hurt, Tupi," I said as he scampered off.
I felt a bump swell on my lip immediately.
By morning, the swelling was gone and only a dark bruise remained, plus this slightly bizarre story about being head-butted by a cat, that no one will ever hear, because no one notices the shadow of a bruise on my upper lip.

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