Sunday, September 28, 2014

Dreaming of France -- Where in France Would You Live?

Please join this weekly meme. Grab a copy of the photo above and link back to An Accidental Blog. Share with the rest of us your passion for France. Did you read a good book set in France? See a movie? Take a photo in France? Have an adventure? Eat a fabulous meal or even just a pastry? Or if you're in France now, go ahead and lord it over the rest of us. We can take it.
For some people, Paris is the penultimate place to live. We love Paris, but when we imagine settling in France some day, we don't picture our lives in Paris. We think about a little village.
For the longest time, we imagined that Provence would be our home some day, but Provence has become so popular that the price to live there has become extravagant.
We've begun looking at other areas and think that Languedoc-Roussillon might be a good match.
The climate looks to be very similar to Provence and I hadn't realized that we have actually visited a part of Languedoc-Roussillon.
It was when we took our great bike trip in the south of France. We left Avignon and headed out of Provence and into Languedoc-Roussillon to cross the Pont du Gard and end that day in Nimes.

Of course, before we decide, we'll need to visit a few more times to explore. Sometimes, the exploration can be the best part.
Thanks for joining in with Dreaming of France. Please visit each other's blogs to enjoy other snippets of France.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Saturday Snapshot - Family Day at Ohio University

We got to spend some time with our boys at their college this weekend. Don't get me wrong, they weren't hankering for us to come down, but we went anyway.
We didn't go to any of the organized activities. But we drove down Friday evening to have dinner with Spencer. His phone had stopped working so we weren't sure if he was anxious to see us or to get the new phone. 
We dropped him back at his dorm around 9:30 then met my brother and his wife at BW3 -- that's a sports bar chain. Their daughter attends the same university. We had drinks then headed back to the motel. All of the hotels were booked for miles around so my sister-in-law lucked into finding this place. It looked pretty rough on the outside but it was clean on the inside and was probably the bomb back in the 1970s. 
We feared it might be awkward sharing a hotel room with another couple, but it was a lot of fun as we lay in the dark remembering humorous memories about our childhood and as we raised our own kids. I think we need to plan a vacation with them - maybe separate hotel rooms though.
This morning we went to a coffee shop with a balcony. Both the boys were sleeping in, so we face-timed with Grace. 
We finally got some time with both boys at brunch, then we took them to the grocery to stock up. 
Just the right amount of time to reconnect with our sons.
Man, am I short compared to all my guys. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

High-Priced Cell Phones

As a family of five, we have a number of expenses. College is the number one expense right now, with all three kids currently attending.
But another big monthly expense is our cell phone bill.
We don't have a home phone any more, so we are all reliant on our cell phones. And everyone has a smart phone. Earl and I use ours for work a lot. The kids use their smart phones for frivolous things, like social media, but also to check their assignments at school and their emails.
I use my phone for important
things, like keeping track of
my runs each morning.
Our cell phone bills have slowly crept up until we have reached about $320 per month -- for phones!
Like anyone else who watches television or gets  on computers, I'm sure you've seen the ads touting the low prices of some family plans.
AT&T says $160 for four lines with unlimited talk, text and data. Sprint and T-Mobile offer $100 deals with five lines or even more.
When Spencer's phone shattered, and Grace complained that her phone wasn't holding a charge, I decided it was a perfect time to start looking for a new cell phone plan.
I could have gone to each website and read through the offers, instead, I found this interesting website called Whistleout which compares plans.
All I had to do was enter the information about how many lines and what kinds of phones. I entered iPhones for each of us, since that's what we currently have.
And the phone plans look good.
Whistleout shows me that I can get a $100 per month plan with Sprint that includes 30 gb of data. Right now, we only have 14 gb of data per month.
Or, I could go with T-Mobile for $110 per month with only 12.5 gb of data.
Since the kids are on college campuses, their phones are usually on wifi so they don't use a lot of data.
Saving a few hundred dollars per month is nothing to sneeze as. That's $2400 per year. I should be ready to jump right into these plans, except for the little + sign underneath the monthly price.
Because we use Verizon, our phones are compatible with Verizon. We would all have to get new phones. The cost for five new phones under the new plans is a start up fee of about $2500. There goes my yearly savings of $2400.
Of course, if the phones lasted for years and we never needed to upgrade, that might still save me money in the long run.
I'm afraid the only way I'll end up saving money on my cell phone plan is if my kids graduate from college and get jobs. Then each of them can take on their own cell phone bills.
I know it will happen some day. For now, looks like I'm stuck with my current phone bill.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

First Paragraph -- French Leave

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.
Yes, I'm still obsessed with France, even though my most recent novel takes place in the U.S.
Here's a novel by P.G. Wodehouse called French Leave about 3 American sisters who go on vacation in France, leaving behind their chicken farm on Long Island.
A chicken farm on Long Island?
The print in this book is really small, though, so I  might have to break out my reading glasses for the first time for this one. Here's the intro:
If you search that portion of the state of New York known as Long Island with a sufficiently powerful magnifying glass,  you will find, tucked away on the shore of the Great South Bay, the tiny village of Bensonburg. Its air is bracing, its scenery picturesque, its society mixed. You get all sorts there -- the rich in their summer homes -- men like Russell Clutterbuck, the publisher -- and mingled with them the dregs or proletariat, the all-the-year-rounder-ers who have to scrape for a living. The Trent girls, daughters of the late Edgar Trent, the playwright, did their scraping in a small farm at the bottom of one of the lanes that led down to the water. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Dreaming of France -- September

Today is the kind of fall day that definitely makes me long to pack my bags and head for France. I don't care if I go to Paris and wander markets, or take the train down to Provence to prolong the warm days, watching the sun slant from a sharper angle to inspire artists.
Something about this weather makes me long for France.
Is it just me, or do even the flowers cling on longer in France? Here's a picture from Mont St. Michel in late September and the petunias are still in glorious bloom. I love the way they look with these awnings.
I hope everyone else experiences something lovely that reminds them of why they love France.
Thanks for playing along. Please leave a comment and take time to visit each other's blogs too.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Something Bad Equals Good Karma

Did you ever notice that we have to have something bad happen in our lives before we give credit to good karma?
I realized that myself after I wrote a blog post in August about having good karma. My car key had broken, and the planets aligned to allow me to get the key replaced and get to work on time. What good luck, I thought. I didn't even consider what bad luck that my key broke.
Later that same day, I had another incident of what I considered good karma.
But it was as I was lying on my back on the ground, that I realized: yes, I was very lucky not to have broken my head open, but I was kind of unlucky to be lying on the ground in the first place.
Grace and I decided to try roller blading.
I used to be pretty skilled at roller blading. When Grace and Spencer were little, before Tucker was even born, I'd swoop up and down the streets of our Michigan town while pushing a double stroller with the kids in it. I had promised my husband that if he bought me a double stroller, I'd have the best ass in the neighborhood because I would use it to roller blade everywhere. I probably got close to that goal.
I continued roller blading as our kids grew and as we moved to Columbus, Ohio. Then, about 12 years ago, I was skating around the block with Tucker and Spencer. Grace was probably curled up at home with a book. My husband had traveled to Florida for a work conference. I lost control of my roller blades and hit the curb head on. I heard a pop from my knee and I lay in the grass knowing something was truly wrong with my knee.
The boys, ages 6 and 8, skated over and looked down at me in fear. I could see tears in Spencer's eyes as he felt my pain and wondered how to help.
"Just give me a minute," I told the boys.
Dad was gone so he couldn't come get me. The boys suggested they'd skate home and get the wagon. Then they could pull the wagon with me in it.
The idea of standing up was excruciating. Lowering myself into then climbing out of a wagon seemed beyond my capabilities.
After a few minutes, I had the boys help me stand. I kept my left knee, the injured one, bent and tried to put all my weight on the right one. The boys both held my hands and pulled me slowly along until we reached home.
I found out later that weekend that I had torn my ACL -- a ligament in my knee. A few months later surgery and physical therapy helped make it as a good as new, but I never went back to regular roller blading.
So on that August day that started with a broken car key, I convinced Grace that we should do some roller blading, but I couldn't find my roller blades. I searched through the box with probably six pairs of roller blades. Mine weren't there.
I put on another pair that the kids had worn at some point during their growing up period. They all have bigger feet than I do now. The roller blades fit, but they didn't roll very well.
Grace and I went around the block and it was a lot of work. I decided to try another pair. Oh my gosh, the second I put them on I was rolling out of control. There didn't seem to be a way to stop myself, which is why I ended up falling on the sidewalk near the garage door.
I feel backward, which is lucky for a woman who broke her nose falling forward two years ago.
I landed hard on my butt and the palm of one hand before I fell the rest of the way onto my back.
I just lay there on the ground, assessing any injuries I might have incurred. Everything seemed okay. I'd be bruised, but nothing broken.
I was wearing overall shorts and my phone was in the pocket on the front. When I fell back, the phone tumbled onto my chest. That's when I thought, my running friends would probably appreciate a picture of me lying on my back from my latest fall.
I held the phone up and snapped a picture.
Then I looked at the picture.

I was shocked to discover that the top of my head was only an inch away from the wooden box garden that held our strawberries. If I'd fallen just a second sooner, my head would have hit that wooden wall and my injuries might have been much more serious.
Good karma, I thought immediately. But wait a minute, would I even have thought of my good karma if I hadn't had the bad karma to fall.
I haven't been roller blading lately, but that doesn't mean I'm giving up. I might need some new ones for Christmas, and next time, I'm definitely wearing a helmet. I can't count on good karma for everything.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

First Chapter, First Paragraph -- A Paris Apartment

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.
Sometimes, I just need to get out of my head, and nothing works better for that than reading. I sure hope this book takes me away. It's A Paris Apartment by Michelle Gable. I'll be reviewing it  on Oct. 10 for FranceBookTours, so I hope you'll stop back then to see what I thought of it and to enter a
Here's a synopsis: A furniture specialist for Sotheby's travels to Paris to unearth treasures from an apartment that hasn't been used for 70 years. She  discovers beautiful furniture and a journal written by a courtesan from the Belle Epoque era.
Here's the intro:
She only wanted to get out of town.
When her boss sidled up and said the words "apartment," "ninth arrondisement," and "a ton of nineteenth center crap," April instantly thought: vacation. There would be work involved, but no matter, she was going to Paris. As every writer, poet, painter, and, yes, furniture assessor knew, it was the perfect place for escape. 
This seems promising. I'm just so glad the author didn't call the book "April in Paris" since that's the characters name.
 I'll be by later to see what you all are reading today.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Dreaming of France -- Learning French

Please join this weekly meme. Grab a copy of the photo above and link back to An Accidental Blog. Share with the rest of us your passion for France. Did you read a good book set in France? See a movie? Take a photo in France? Have an adventure? Eat a fabulous meal or even just a pastry? Or if you're in France now, go ahead and lord it over the rest of us. We can take it.

I minored in French in college, so I have a basic grasp of French and I can make myself understood for most things. I have a harder time understanding what people say to me in return. And I still haven't figured out all of those "y" and "en" and "ce" and "ci" in the middle of a sentence.
With hopes of someday moving to France, I figured I'd better get serious about learning French better. That's why I downloaded Duolingo to my iPhone. It's also available on the computer. And it's free.

Before I started on duolingo, I had a chance to take a test to see how much French I already knew. Then it bumped me past those lessons. Believe me, there are still plenty of lessons to go.
The app shows the challenges I have completed in gold. Ones I'm working on are in color, and the future ones, ones I'm not ready for, are in a pale black and white.
I immediately recognized that the program uses a method similar to the Montessori three-part naming lesson. With the three-part naming lessons, new words or things are introduced, then the student is asked to pick out the word when they here it, then finally the students are shown the thing and asked to come up with the word on their own.
Duolingo mixes up the language lessons. Some of them are as simple as repeating a short sentence by pressing the microphone button.
Another lesson gives a sentence in French or English and asks you to translate it. Choose from a mix of words below. A touch of a finger to the word moves it up underneath the original sentence.

A more challenging lesson has the sentence in French or English and you have to type the words that translate it.

The hardest lesson for me is the one where duolingo says a sentence or phrase in French and I have to write it in French. There's a turtle button that repeats the phrase slowly, but it's still a challenge for me.

I had thought that I would be able to quickly master French and move on to Italian, but I was wrong. I still have so much to learn, and the program returns to some of the previous lessons, so I have to return to them and practice them.
 I have plenty of lesson left in adverbs alone. The program also gives lots of encouragement and reminders to get you working. Hopefully by the time I get to France, I'll be speaking French, and understanding it, better. 
Thanks for playing along today. I hope you'll visit each other's blogs too so you can enjoy other bits and pieces of France. 

The Challenge of Raising Impetuous Children

I've been thinking about my son Spencer a lot this week.
From the moment he was born, that boy has been barreling through life. He rarely stops to think through decisions, which makes him a great guy to hang out with, but a little harder to parent.
Just on Friday we had a nice talk. He wanted to put down a deposit for a house that he will move into in June. This all came about quickly on Wednesday, and I suggested maybe he should go talk to someone (i.e. a counselor) about his decision-making processes.
"I don't want to talk to someone about my feelings," he complained. He said he shares his feelings with his friends, and they all give each other advice. I reluctantly pointed out that a counselor might have some different, professional kinds of advice.
Someday, Spencer will probably invent something fabulous or lead a revolution. He is never still. Even as a baby, he would toss and turn, flipping from one side to the other until...suddenly he was asleep. And I'd know he was asleep because that's when he'd stop moving.
As a 4-year-old boy, I remember walking through a Medieval French village with him. He stood at the bottom of a stone wall, sized it up and decided, yep, he could get over that wall. So he started to climb it.
That's the kind of kid he is. He rarely sees something that he thinks he can't tackle.
In the photo above, he's on a French merry go round, one that firmly says no switching horses during the ride. Every time that carousel rotated, Spence was on a different horse, animal, or boat. He just needed to try everything, even when the French attendant wagged his finger at Spencer warningly. Spencer just grinned his irrepressible smile and raised his eyebrows.
He is the kid who, at times, I most like to be around. He's sensitive to my feelings. He asks about my thoughts. But he's also the kid I most dread getting phone calls from because he often lands himself in hot water.
When he gets himself in trouble, I feel such a gnawing in the pit of my stomach -- that fear that maybe this time he won't be able to bounce back. After a day or so, I can see with more perspective that we'll all be okay. Things may not go as we planned, but nothing is irretrievable.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Feathering My Empty Nest

Does anyone else find that the more time you have, the less you get done?
Of course, I'm still working, and my Tuesday did consist of grading 90 rough drafts of essays -- comments and corrections. But I've also found plenty of time to enjoy life.
I lingered over coffee with Leah on Sunday. On Tuesday, I worked out with my friend Pam before walking to get coffee with Sheila.
On Wednesday when I finished teaching classes at noon, I smuggled my husband out of work and we went for a long lunch.
My phone camera is acting up, so I didn't get the earlier shots of
him smiling. We got to sit outside, which was nice.
We were picking up a car that was in the shop for repairs and had to take it to Grace at school. In between the shop and Grace's college is Easton Towne Center, which has a lovely French restaurant called Bon Vie.
I was finished working for the day, so I indulged in a glass of peach sangria.
It was as yummy as it looks.
My turkey and brie sandwich was accompanied with fries, or frites as we might say in France, served in a cute cup.
Earl had pasta with goat cheese.
This week, I've spent some afternoons in the backyard working on a new novel, typing away at my computer as the weather blew from hot to cooler.
Then this morning, after a sweaty, but lovely, 5-mile run, I met my friend Emily for coffee.
I'm not feeling lonely or at loose ends because my children have moved on to college. I still hear from them pretty much every day, including last-minute phone calls about great houses they want to lease for next year.
Health concerns. Emotional concerns.
Frustrations with classes or professors.
Even though they're not home any more, they're still very much embedded in my day-to-day life.
I know that Earl and I are not alone. We run into couples srolling around our little town. They're walking the dog or going for coffee or stopping for drinks.
I feel so fortunate that in my life, I didn't decide to focus only on my children, but cultivated outside interests. Friends, teaching, writing, and spending time with my husband have all helped ease my transition into the empty nest.
Still, this morning after a run, coffee, and a trip to the library, I have felt free to fritter away my time rather than doing something productive, like folding clothes, vacuuming, grading papers, or writing. I have to teach later tonight so my free time will end.
That's okay, I deserve some time to browse the  newspaper then flit from site to site online for a morning. I'm sure I'll be more productive this afternoon.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Dreaming of France -- Autumn

Please join this weekly meme. Grab a copy of the photo above and link back to An Accidental Blog. Share with the rest of us your passion for France. Did you read a good book set in France? See a movie? Take a photo in France? Have an adventure? Eat a fabulous meal or even just a pastry? Or if you're in France now, go ahead and lord it over the rest of us. We can take it.
One of my favorite times to visit France is Autumn. The crowds of tourists have mostly returned home, the French are back at work, and visitors like me have the freedom to roam the countryside enjoying the beautiful weather.
One Autumn, Earl and I took a bicycle trip in France traveling from city to city with only the belongings in our panniers.
This is me at a scenic overlook as we rode our bikes through Provence. You can tell this isn't a picture that I've saved online because the color has faded. 
And here I am near Cezanne's atelier, posing with Mont Ste. Victoire in the distance. Yes, curly hair is still crazy in France in the fall, but not as bad as in the humidity of summer. 
I highly recommend a trip to France in the fall if you have your choice of times to visit.

How A Childhood Book Affected My Life

I had an epiphany yesterday while on Facebook. It wasn't the usual epiphanies, like the fact that I'm wasting a lot of time on Facebook.
I was reading my friend Tracie's post about the top 10 books that changed her life. From The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg as number 4 on her list.
She listed
I commented that I loved this awkwardly titled book. If you don't remember it, it's about Claudia, a middle class girl who lives in the suburbs of New York and decides to run away and hide in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. She ends up taking her little brother along.
I can't remember what was going on in the girl's life that made her want to run away, but I remember the awesome adventure that she had as she and her little brother figured out how to hide in the museum each night then decided where they would sleep. They collected coins from the fountain and ate out of vending machines. A new exhibit of a statue (from Mrs. Frankweiler's collection) that is believed to be a Michelangelo intrigues the whole city. Claudia and her brother Jamie are intent on determining whether the statue is really the work of Michelangelo. They end up visiting Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, and she lets them research in her files before the kids return home in Mrs. Frankweiler's limo.
As I reminisced about this childhood book that enriched my normal Midwestern  life, I realized I'm still trying to achieve the goal of escaping on an amazing adventure.
Sure, I've had adventures. I went away to college and to grad school, landing in Kentucky, Ohio and Washington, D.C. I moved away for a job in Florida, and turned down jobs in New Orleans and Las Vegas.
I worked as an au pair for three months in France. My husband and I have traveled to Europe several times.
But still, I don't have that clandestine adventure like 12-year-old Claudia. That's probably why I wrote the books that I've written. As a matter of fact, The Summer of France seems similar in so many ways. The family escapes from their Midwestern life to run a bed and breakfast in France. The main character Fia learns that her great uncle has a hidden secret from World War II, and she must help solve the mystery and save her uncle from danger.
Clearly, From the Mixed Up Files had more impact on me than I remembered until Tracie listed it on Facebook and reminded me of the joy the story brought me.
And my other two novels are also about people escaping. In I See London I See France, Caroline sells her minivan and takes her three children to Europe in search of the woman she was during her the European adventures of her college days. And in Trail Mix, two women whose children have gone off to college find themselves without a purpose, so they take off on an adventure to the Appalachian Trail.
Maybe my initial reaction to any problems or changes is to take off an adventure, to change the scenery and hope the problem fades. Perhaps that's why my husband and I plan to retire to France, picturing a new chapter
opening when our parenting days are finished (mostly)
If you haven't read From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, I highly recommend it. Who knows, it might send you off on your own adventures, or at least you can enjoy Claudia's exploits. And then maybe you'll give my novels a try, knowing that the characters go on trips and mostly end up learning something about themselves.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Empty Nest

Is it really an empty nest if the baby birds keep tweeting the mama bird?
Although my kids are all gone to college, I hear from them all most everyday. Sometimes they're sharing happy things; sometimes they're complaining; sometimes they're asking for help.
Being home, just me and Earl, certainly doesn't bother me. We're eating whatever and whenever we want. They range from sophisticated adult meals to quick singles food. Salmon burgers and asparagus, brie and raspberry jam, wine, cereal, French toast, pot pies.
We're scheduled to start dance class in a few weeks, and we're spending time with friends, seeing movies.
Still it isn't all smooth sailing.
Tucker got sick the week before he moved to college, and we've been trying to deal with that long distance. First his jaw became sore and swollen where he had his wisdom teeth out in July. The dentist put him on a strong antibiotic.
Then he started dealing with episodes of racing heart, sweating, feeling faint. The possibilities with those symptoms are many.
Tucker on the left with his roommate.
So he went off to school two weeks ago, and he started to feel worse. He became extremely tired. He felt like he was going to pass out when he climbed the stairs to class. He could hardly keep his eyes open during class.
He took the bus home last Thursday evening so he could see the doctor Friday morning then I drove him back to school in time for his Italian class.
But the doctor didn't test him for mono, which I think should always be the first test with tired college students. I wasn't at the appointment, but the doctor debated things like low blood sugar, thyroid, anxiety. Nothing firm was decided, which is the frustrating part. So we just sent him back to school to continue living and going to classes. I wonder if he feels deserted.
This week he called and said his jaw was swollen again. I guess he didn't take his antibiotics the way he was supposed to, even after I warned him about superbacteria and the need to keep the antibiotics in his system.
Now, after two weeks in school, he texted today and asked if he could take a year off from school.
My knee-jerk reaction is, "No! Stay at school." But I've dealt with rough starts before. I know to keep stringing him along week by week until he gets to the end of the semester, like a kitten chasing yarn.
When he called, here were his arguments:
He isn't sure what he wants to do, so his major is undecided.
It feels a lot more like high school than he thought it would.
He just thinks he'd rather get a job and get his own apartment for a year.
I listened to his reasons and then suggested he give it another week and we re-evaluate next Friday.
Spencer in his new dorm room.
I wonder if the girlfriend here at home has anything to do with the wish to come home. And, of course, I'm afraid if he doesn't stick with it that he'll never finish college.
The good news is that Spencer transferred colleges, and he is only an hour and  half away from home. And he's really in his element. His only difficulty so far is the calculus professor who has
such a thick accent Spencer can't understand him. Spencer wrote down the notes the professor put on the board and took them to the math tutor. The math tutor couldn't decipher them either.
One of his fellow students stopped Spencer and thanked him for asking questions in class. Spencer says he tries to repeat back to the professor what he says in hopes that the professor will clarify. It sounds like Spencer is doing all the right things to be successful.
Grace is enjoying her final semester of college. She's living in a house near campus with three theater friends. She's auditioning for shows and spending time with friends.
She has come home the past few weekends, so our nest isn't empty on the weekend, but it's more like a girlfriend sleepover when Grace is here rather than having kids I have to take care of.
So, yes, my nest is technically empty, but my plate is still definitely full.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

On My Way Back to Normal

Well, let's face it, my life will never be normal again the way that it was now that all three of my children have gone away to school, but it will be a new normal.
And one of those things that has been a staple in my life for years has been missing this summer. That thing is running.
Since Easter, I have been struggling with an injury. I tried walking and bicycling to give my foot a break. Then finally went to the doctor and he told me to "shut it down" for at least three weeks. So for three weeks during July, I sat on the couch.
Yes, try to imagine how grumpy I was with all three kids home for the summer, teenagers in and out of the house at all hours of the day, dishes and towels piling up, and me not able to run to get my endorphins. Plus, I think not running sped up the encroachment of menopause. It was a perfect storm of sorts.
We're lucky we all made it out alive.
Finally, a few weeks ago, I began interval training. I would walk for three minutes then run for a minute. I kept that up because it didn't hurt my foot and because I heard a story on NPR about the benefits of interval training with blood sugar and blood pressure.
This morning, I expanded my run. I ran for a mile then walked three minutes, then ran until the second mile and walked three minutes. I did that for four miles and ended up with about an 11-minute mile overall. Four miles in 44 minutes.
So that feels back to normal.
However, I did have a creepy incident this morning.
Now, the community where I live is very safe. I'm not alone out there even at 5:30 in the morning. I generally pass a police car about three times per mile, along with other walkers, runners and bicyclists.
But this morning, as I turned a corner, a car was sitting at a light. It stayed there even after the light had changed. I was running away from the car so didn't pay much attention.
The car eventually passed me.
As I turned onto the main road I run on, the car passed me going the other direction. It slowed down beside me, but I didn't look at the driver, just kept going.
A few minutes later, the car pulled up beside me. I was on the opposite side of the road, but the car stopped and the man rolled down his window.
"Sorry to bother you," he called, "but is this the right way to the library?"
Now, it could be that this older man, in his 60s, with white hair and a nice sedan, maybe a Buick, was actually looking for the library at 5:30 in the morning. I'm not sure why he would be in our little community going to the library.
But I said yes. "It's down there on the right." I directed him.
After he drove off, I continued running and saw some acquaintances walking their dogs.
I ran up to them and walked with them for a while, figuring there was safety in numbers and dogs.
I made it home just fine, but it is a reminder to be aware of my circumstances, even in a safe little Burg like mine.
Next time, I think I would take a picture of his license plate with my phone and text it to my husband. That just seems like a safe precaution in case I hear about anything else happening early in the morning in my little town.
I'll be careful, but I'll keep on running.

Cockadoodle Doo or Cocorico?

 We stood in the middle of the road, having walked together 13 miles that day and Claudine grasped my forearm. "Mais non! It doesn'...