Tuesday, June 29, 2010

And Now...Heeeere's July!

How can it be? The 4th of July is this coming Sunday? In my time zone, I've already been plunged head first into the seventh month of this year for nine hours, regardless of whether I was ready or not.

Do you appreciate uninvited guests? Do you make room for brash intruders with dignity and poise?

The simple thought of July's arrival exasperates me. If I'd followed my initial impulses, I'd have turned her around, given her a swift kick in the hind end and pushed her back at least a good four weeks. Fortunately, as you all have come to know, I'm much too sophisticated and morally correct to be so rude and selfishly inconsiderate. (Right!)

Instead of nailing her in the behind, I drew my shoulders back, tossed my head to clear my senses and asked her if I could welcome her properly on my blog. July nodded amiably and posed demurely. Do take time to linger over her photographed features above.

So, my friends, let's gather our chagrin and hold it behind us as we meet and greet the new month of July with all the grace we can muster. Go on now, it's the right thing to do.

A Perfect June Day

The weather is absolutely perfect today, at least in my opinion it is. The baby blue sky is pleasingly plump with an abundance of oversized cotton ball clouds.

When I arose at 7:00, the temperature was in the mid-sixties and the sky was an uninterrupted blue. I tended to my dental office responsibilities from 8:00 until noon when we closed for the day. I toted my bike to NorthPointe and cycled the country roads comfortably as the temperatures topped off at a glorious 75 degrees.

After a quick shower, I hopped in my truck and headed home, making a quick stop for a few grocery items on the way. Presently, I'm on the screen porch writing these sentences describing my extraordinarily pleasing day.

When Lon arrives home after his work day, we'll cook pork chops on the grill. He'll leave for an hour or so to watch our son, Jared, play softball while I bask in the silence and solitude with my latest book. Before bedtime, we'll cut thick slabs of watermelon and savor its summer sweetness, adding glitter to an already excellent day.

How do you spend a perfect day like this when it arrives unexpectedly and you're able to fill at least a few hours of it as you like?

(The photos above are from previous photo shoots. I'm too lazy and comfy today to get up and take new ones. I'm quite sure you won't mind. I like to think that as friends we find it easy to cut each other some slack).

Monday, June 28, 2010

Night Time Nonsense

I woke up this morning in the middle of strange dreams with my arms wrapped tightly around my torso, obviously quite upset. I felt like a wreck.

The workings of my mind during this morning's troubled sleep included the following unrelated scenarios:

In the first scene, I was pregnant! (That in itself was nightmarish but there was more). A previous coworker of mine who has a 3-month old baby was lending me some of her baby items since her son had miraculously advanced to 9 years old. We were at her home and there were children playing in every nook and cranny of the house.

The second scenario is totally unrelated to the first but rose to my consciousness after the initial scene. In this scene, I was working at the dental office. A gentleman entered the office and approached my desk. He said he wanted to see the dentist and handed me a bottle of prescription medicine he was taking and after reading the label I realized it was Bernard, my father's cousin. I had trouble understanding him when he spoke to me, but it was obvious he wanted and needed some dental work. My father's father suddenly appeared beside Bernard. Both Bernard and my grandfather were no more than 3 feet tall.

That's all I can recall from this morning's nightmare/dream. I must admit that I never have dreams that make much sense.

What type of dreams or nightmares do you wake up to?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Summertime, Summertime, Sum...Sum...Summertime

Lately, I've noticed that activity on the blogs I like to visit has slowed down. I'm not surprised since we're in the midst of summer which offers an abundance of outside activities.
It's healthy and wise for all of us to step away from our normal pastimes and dip our toes into other soothing or inspiring arenas. Furthermore, we've more to blog about when we're out and about.
Even though I may miss you, I'm glad you're living your life and enjoying these "lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer." What's taking you away from your blog?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Got Loose Laces?

A few weeks ago on my blog, I showed off the Lock Laces that I have on my running shoes and included their website, http://www.locklaces.com/ on my post. I also e-mailed the Lock Lace company to let them know I was plugging their product.

Today, I received a response from Lock Laces asking if they could include the picture of my shoes on their website Fan Club page. In exchange, they promised to send me a free pair of Lock Laces. In addition they offered that, if YOU want to order laces, you will receive $1 off each pair ordered at their website if you enter REPEAT in the Customer Code box.

I've plugged many products on my blog and just for the heck of it, I usually e-mail the company in hopes of possibly getting some small token in return. I'd almost given up hopes of experiencing any appreciation for my promotional posts. Upon opening my e-mails today wearing my Lace Locked shoes, I'm kicking up my feet for joy.
If you're always in a hurry like me, you may want to take advantage of the $1 discount offer. I never have to tie or untie my shoes after I've replaced my laces with Lock Laces. Another bonus is the fact that they NEVER come untied.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

We Weren't Born Yesterday!

I had lunch with friends of mine at Atlanta Bread the other day. I ordered half a chicken salad sandwich. The employee who took my order asked if I'd like pasta salad or potato salad with my sandwich. I asked her if it came with the sandwich and she said it did. I requested a pasta salad.

If the salad came with the sandwich, why was I charged an extra 69 cents for it? I wasn't in the mood to question my bill at the time, but the principle of the thing bothered me.

In the last couple of years, my husband and I frequently find errors on our bills at restaurants. We never leave our table anymore without going over the charges and if we find a discrepancy we don't pay for anything until we've straightened things out with an employee.

I can't help but wonder if the errors are accidental or if these establishments are attempting to rip us off intentionally.

Whatever the case, they better think twice before they mess with Lon and I again. We certainly weren't born yesterday!!!!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Stamps to Admire or Stomp On

A couple of months ago, I posted a sampling of my stamp collection. I suspect that's what prompted me to order this Abstract Expressionists commemorative sheet from the United States Postal Service.

Although my stamp collecting hobby has been dormant for many years, now I've gone and purchased an item which threatens to be the beginning of a resurgence of my old passion.

I ordered two of these sheets, one of which I'll keep for my collection. I've decided to peel the stamps from the second sheet and adorn special birthday cards with a smattering of abstract art with the intention of dazzling the recipients. Perhaps I'll appear to be a connoisseur of fine art to those select few. (I'm not, but please don't tell!)

If you grow weary of viewing these abstract expressionists stamps and reading the hogwash about the art, scroll to the bottom for my humble and uninformed opinion of abstract art. I mean no harm by expressing myself in this outspoken manner, but these are my present thoughts.

The wording beside each stamp below is not mine. I took these descriptions from the back side of this sheet of stamps.

Hans Hofmann's The Golden Wall (1961) features his trademark "push and pull" technique: geometic shapes that animate the canvas by seeming to shift and overlap.

Skittering black lines, shifting shapes, fragmented body parts, and flashes of color fill the surface of Willem de Kooning's 1948 work Asheville.

Orange and Yellow (1956) features two rectangles painted in the vibrant tones that Mark Rothko favored.

For Convergence (1952), Jackson Pollock laid blue and white clouds and loops of red and yellow atop a black-and-white base.

The Liver Is the Cock's Comb (1944), Arshile Gorky's creation, uses abstract forms to camouflage a deeply personal portrait of his family at home.

Clyfford Still painted ponderous, abstract canvases to convey universal themes about the human condition. 1948-C is one of his creations.

Elegy to the Spanish Republic No. 34 features black bars and ovals and vertical white stripes that partly obscure colors that refer to the flag of the Spanish Republic.

Joan Mitchell's La Grande Vallee O (1983) is intended by the artist "to convey the feeling of the dying sunflower."

Romanesque Facade (1949) brings together Adolph Gottlieb's aspiration to be intuitively understandable to everyone and to convey a universal emotional reality.

Achilles (1952) by Barnett Newman features a swath of red paint that moves down the canvas to end in a ragged edge.

As for me, I'm not impressed with abstract art. Most of these "works of art" look to me like what you'd see on the walls of a kindergarten classroom after the children played with paint.
What do you think?

Monday, June 21, 2010

All Those Years, Where'd They Go?

My husband, Lon, and I celebrate our 41st wedding anniversary today. We don't have a clue as to where all those years went. We've looked in the back of our closets, in the basement, in the attic and even deep into all of our drawers. Alas, they've left us forever but within ourselves we've memories that indelibly mark the passing of the years of our life together.

I could ask our son, Jared, if he's any idea of where those 41 years might have gathered and settled. He can't help us with anything related to the first nine years of our marriage and he'll probably think I'm nuts if I ask him if he's glimpsed where the years after his arrival in 1978 have disappeared to.
Even if I knew where our past married years have gone, I imagine they're rather dusty and wrinkled with age. Focusing on the here and now, I am proud to say that our present relationship has grown to be more wonderful than I ever dreamed it could be.

This evening, we'll go to Houlihan's in Lake Geneva for dinner. We'll laugh and talk and enjoy each other's company as we've been blessed to do for over four decades.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Strawberry Sh...Sh...Sh...Shortcake

Earlier this week, Lon and I talked about having strawberry shortcake this weekend. The weekend arrived all on its own, but our dessert plan was still stuck to Tuesday or Wednesday past.
Fortunately, at 4:30 yesterday (Saturday) afternoon, I checked my e-mails. I found an announcement from Skelly's Market explaining that due to all the recent rain, the strawberry season was cut short. "A limited supply of already picked berries are available through today."
Since it was late in the day, I called Skelly's to see if they had any strawberries left. The gentleman who answered affirmed that indeed they had a number of quart baskets still awaiting purchase in their large cooler on the front porch of their store. To my dismay, he told me they were only open until 5:00.
I had no time to lose! I knew Lon wanted strawberry shortcake pretty badly so I grabbed him, we jumped in the Avalanche and took off for Skelly's in Janesville, normally about a twenty to twenty-five minute drive. Of course, we got stuck behind a red car whose driver was in no hurry and didn't even appear to know where she was going. Fortunately, after a stressful drive, we arrived safely at Skelly's before they closed and picked out two quarts.
I refrigerated them overnight and we enjoyed them this evening. I make the shortcake with Light Bisquick. While the shortcake is still warm, we butter it, add the strawberries (cleaned and sprinkled with sugar previously) and top it all with Cool Whip Light.
I'm not what you'd call a cook but every June when the strawberries are ready, you'll find me in the kitchen (more than once) whipping up shortcake.
Strawberry shortcake has become a Father's Day tradition and lucky for me, I didn't screw it up this year.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Rascals and Angels

The library here in Beloit selects several books each year for reading and discussion by The Fourth Wednesday Book Discussions group. Copies of these books are displayed on a table near the service desk. When in doubt, I often opt for a book from these "selected" pieces of literature.

Dancing at the Rascal Fair is my most recent choice from the variety of volumes pending attention by the discussion group. I'd seen this book on several occasions when I stood before that table, straining my brain to make a selection. On my most recent visit to the library, I hesitated after reading the synopsis, but took it home anyway.

To my delight, I've enjoyed Dancing at the Rascal Fair from page one through 151 which I reached before bed last night. I'm looking forward to all that unfolds between now and when I close the cover after page 400.

Ivan Doig's novel spins a tale of two young men who leave Scotland to homestead in Montana. The story is always moving forward and never dull.

While I drive my truck, I'm listening to the audiobook, The Angel's Game.
I'm always intrigued and drawn to books with writers as central characters. Carlos Ruiz Zafon has written a spellbinding novel as such which I'm happy to have as my companion when I'm on the road.
Zafon's previous novel, The Shadow of the Wind, which I read a few years ago, was a page turner as well.
Nothing's better than a good book, unless it would be two good books. I'm doubly blessed to be presently entertained by Dancing at the Rascal Fair and The Angel's Game. I hope you'll splurge by treating yourself to this double dip.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

WooHoo...Looky Here!!!!

While many of you have changed the look of your blogs quite often, mine has remained unaltered for way too long. Several times I wanted and needed a change for the sake of variety, but Blogger (my website facilitator) didn't have any other available templates that I liked better than the one I was using.

Recently, I noticed that Blogger was offering some new templates. Now that things are settling down for me after the triathlon, I had a chance to check them out. I "test drove" a few and wasn't impressed at all. After frantically fumbling with my fingers for what seemed like forever, I fell face first into this one. When I regained consciousness, I took a good long look and fell head over heels in love with my new blog decor.

A monkey could have done what I did to apply the new template to my blog. I'm still reeling at the tremendous change that occurred when I simply clicked my mouse a couple of times. I'm excited about the bright colors and abstract design that now frame and showcase my blog ingredients.

I'm hooked on this particular blog background and thus won't be changing it for a long time, but still I'd be interested in hearing your opinions on "my new look."

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Fabric Content: Recycled Plastic Bottles

Notice the shirt I'm wearing in this photo. It looks pretty normal, doesn't it? Looks can be deceiving and I have a prime example of that for you.

I bought this shirt a couple of weeks ago at a sporting goods store. At home, as I cut the tags off, I read the fine print. "Made with 100% recycled fabric." I scowled, not sure of what that really meant. I wondered what I'd be wearing up against my skin when I put my shirt on.
As always when I have a question, I turned to my laptop and found my way to the UNDER ARMOUR website in hopes of learning more about their recycled fabric.

I found the identical shirt shown here in green.

I was surprised to find out that UA's performance fabrics are made from recycled plastic bottles! I like unique clothes but I never thought I'd go so far as to wear recycled plastic bottles.
I photographed this website paragraph in two parts, left side and right side. (I couldn't get it all in one photo and yet expect you to be able to read it. It's much clearer chopped in half, right!)

The fabric is extremely comfortable and looks and feels like the other high performance materials that have been on the market for several years. I'm at a loss when I try to fathom how they can make a fine fabric from plastic. The engineers must be smarter than I am, imagine that!!

I'm impressed that manufacturers are attempting to use recycled materials. Every step in that direction is a step in the right direction.

I'm all for the elimination of tags at the back neckline of shirts. Printing the information directly on the fabric makes a lot of sense to me. (It annoys me to see tags sticking up at the neck of a shirt. It's SO tacky!)
Can you imagine the looks that the first person who brought up the idea of using plastic bottles to make fabric got from his peers around the conference table?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

It's All About The Numbers

All of the triathlon results are posted on this It's Race Time website. I brought up the race results for my age group and here they are. I didn't want you to think I made up this whole triathlon thing. (You never know about writers. Sometimes they get their facts and fiction mixed up).

**************Nesa and I were the only two in the Women (60-64) Age Group. Our bib number is our race number. Most racers attach their number to the front of their shirts, thus it is referred to as your bib number.

**************The timing chips each racer wears allow exact times to be recorded for each phase of the race.
My swim time was 09:54.8 which translated is 9 minutes and 54.8 seconds. I don't know what 100s means; I do know I estimated my swim time to be 11 minutes.
T1 is the first transition time. 2 minutes and 2.6 seconds elapsed from the second I left the pool until I started biking.

**************I completed the bike route of 17 miles in 1 hour, 9 minutes and 10.9 seconds.
My average speed was 14.7 mph.
My T2 or transition 2 time, which was 1 minute and 39.4 seconds, is the elapsed time from when I finished biking and began running.
I ran the 3-mile route in 36 minutes and 42.7 seconds. My average speed per mile was 12 minutes and 14 seconds.

My swim time 9:54.8
My transition #1 time 2:02.6
My bike time 1:09:10.9
My transition #2 time 1:39.4
My run time 36:42.7
Adding all of the times above results in my total time of 1:59:30.4. In other words, the elapsed time from when I started the triathlon until I crossed the finish line was very close to 2 hours.
The first woman to cross the finish line had a total race time of 1 hour and 19.5 minutes. The first man completed the triathlon in 1 hour and 10 minutes.
The final woman to cross the finish line had a total race time of 2 hours and 22.75 minutes. The final man finished in 2 hours and 20.5 minutes.
I finished in 112th place overall with a total of 133 individuals (male and female) competing.
51 women competed and I finished in 39th place.
Eight relay teams competed against each other with 1 swimmer, 1 biker and 1 runner on each team.
The total number of men and women competing in the triathlon including the relay teams was 157.
WHY DID I BOTHER YOU WITH ALL OF THESE DETAILS? When I started out reporting these statistics, I actually thought they were quite interesting. Now I'm not so sure. I've nearly given myself a headache and probably passed one along to you.
SO THAT'S THAT and enough of that numerical nonsense for one day to be sure!
THE END (If you're not already asleep, let's all take a nap).
If by some miracle you're not ready for a nap, you can view some pictures of the triathlon on my previous post.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Yippee!! I Did It!!

**************The triathlon outcome for me was worth all my training, equipment organization and even my prerace nerves. The hardest part for me wasn't the event itself but getting through the week prior to it. Now all that's behind me and I'm happy and proud.
Fortunately, the forecasted thunderstorms were a no show. It rained a bit while I was running but that was exactly what I needed at that time. The temperature and humidity weren't as high as expected either. Thank God!

**************Lots of participants arrived at NorthPointe before me but I managed to get a parking space in the first row. At first, the parking lot looked full and I figured I'd have to turn around and go to a different parking area. But, lo and behold, someone created an extra row right in the front and I zipped right in. Why not!
My husband and son were out of town with the Avalanche so I have Jared's red truck.

***********I grabbed the closest fellow and asked him to take my picture with my bike. It's a hell of a job but someone had to do it!

*************That's my bike hanging by its seat from that pipe. Not your typical bike rack, right? Whatever! It works. I was lucky to get this spot near the end of this section of pipe. I found my bike easily when I came from the pool.
My gear is at my feet, ready and waiting. Oh, and I'm wearing my trisuit under my shirt and shorts. I slipped out of my clothes and put them in my backpack just before we gathered by the pool.

I felt like a convict when my race number was written on my left arm and left leg!!

*************Fortunately, I knew the bike and run routes so I didn't have to study them like these fellows did.
Please scroll down for more photos. Sorry for the big gaps. If I try to eliminate them, I often end up deleting a photo. That makes me mad and we don't want that now, do we!

*********This path leads from where we racked our bikes to the pool.

Voila, the pool. By the time the race started, besides the swimmers in the pool, there were wall-to-wall people all the way around.

We started swimming at the far side of the pool and swam the length and back moving from lane to lane toward where I stood to take this prerace photo.

Just before we took our turn entering the pool, we were given our timing chip attached to a velcro strap which we wrapped around our ankle.

We lined up in a predetermined order (fastest swimmers first based on our own time estimates) and entered the pool in 15 seconds intervals. There were more swimmers in each lane at one time than I had anticipated. I'm pleased to report that I had the unexpected pleasure of passing a guy in lane 3! That boosted my ego.

*************After swimming, we ran through this grassy area to get to our bikes.

We rode over those black pads with our bikes when we completed the 17-mile ride. The pads picked up a signal from our timing chips and recorded the moment we crossed them.

**************Since hubby was absent, I don't have any photos of the actual race. Darn!
The following photos are of the awards ceremony in the main lobby of NorthPointe. All of the awards and medals are on that table.

***********These two fine specimens are the male and female overall first place finishers as they were presented with their awards.

**************I made friends with Eileen while we stood in line waiting to begin swimming. Her husband took this picture when we met up again after the award ceremony. Eileen placed third in her age category.

I can't imagine how many volunteers were involved in this event. They all wore green t-shirts and they were EVERYWHERE.

**************Volunteers helped with registration, stood at intersections on the bike route directing bikers, offered glasses of water to runners, told us which way to go on the running trails and lots, lots more. Police officers held up traffic for us as we rode through the main intersections. That was terrific!
Many of the volunteers cheered us on during the event as well. That is SO appreciated. Every word of encouragement is like a shot of added energy. Without the volunteers, there would be no triathlon.
They deserve more than this thank you sign. That's for sure!
Thank you to all of you who have put up with all my posts about the triathlon. I promise to move on to something else as soon as my feet touch the ground!! I feel SO good!
P.S. I completed the triathlon in 1 hour and 59 minutes.