Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Oh, Baby!

It's a GIRL!
No... not me.  

My friend, Sara, will be a mom in a few months... and here's what I'm making for the little one.  I hope I can finish by next week, Saturday.  That's the day of the baby shower.  But if not, I'll show her the WIP and tell her it will definitely be complete by the time the new addition comes.
Oh, baby!

Monday, July 12, 2010

12-of-12: July 2010

It's Monday... BLAHhhhhh!
So, does that mean boring workday photos?

I planned my day so that I'd be around Niagara Falls - The Falls - at lunch time, so you are in for a visual treat today!  That, AND, I have a new 18-200 lens for the camera (since I broke the original 18-55 last week; dropped it on the stone driveway.  Oops).  So I was excited to try it out... and what better place than Niagara Falls?

But first, the important stuff.  Many thanks to Chad Darnell for starting the 12-of-12 Project!  If you want more information or want to participate, visit his website then get out your camera!

Sooooooo... do you wanna see my pix?!?!
Do ya? Do ya? Do ya?
Of COURSE you do!

6:30AM @ Home:
Okay, so I have one boring Monday picture.  My first-thing-Monday-morning ritual is my weekly weigh-in.  Now, I'm not all hung-up on my weight, but I do use it as a barometer.  Over the years I've determined "my range" - if I get beyond that range, I need to kick the workouts up a notch.
This photo also follows one of Chad's original 12-of-12 rules... the 12-of-12er must be in at least one shot each month (can be just an arm/leg/face/etc).
Like my pretty pedicure?!

Now for the really good stuff...
12:00-1:00PM:  Niagara Falls State Park, Niagara Falls, NY

As always, if you'd like to see larger versions of the photos posted here, click on them to enlarge them.  Also, if you're interested in an aerial "map" of the park, with points-of-interest labeled, visit for this amazing shot.  (Thanks, Exploring Monkey!)

It was a slightly overcast day, with a chance of rain, so the colors aren't as brilliant as they might have been had it been sunny. 

I started at the eastern Pedestrian Bridge and crossed over the American Rapids to Goat Island.  The Niagara River breaks into two branches that form the three waterfalls.
Then  I followed the foot path to Terrapin Point & the Canadian Falls (also known as "Horseshoe Falls" because of it's shape).
It's amazing how close you can get to the water.  Just past the guardrail is the fast-moving Niagara River.

On the right side of this next shot, you can see the Maid of the Mist - a boat that takes you to the base of the Falls.
On the north side of Goat Island, are the American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls.  Below is the American Falls.
Looking down to the base of the falls.  On the left side are the people visiting the Cave of the Winds, where you can go "behind" the Falls (and get a spiffy yellow poncho, to keep!).
The beautiful Bridal Veil Falls...

But wait...
There's someone out on in the water...
Hey Lady!
NO... don't do it!!  
You have SO much to live for!!

Tee hee... it's just a duck.  
"Living on the edge"

5:30PM @ Home:
I was hoping to have a beautiful lush garden to share with you today, but the dry weather hasn't been kind to my plants.  We've had plenty of sun and warmth, but I haven't watered, so the garden is a little sparse.  Here are a couple shots from around the yard.
Lovely Day Lilies

My 1st Hollyhock! (almost)

 Black-eyed Susan (and friend)

Not sure I'll get to this tonight (posting 12-of-12 photos is taking some time...), but I am working on a new knitting project.  It's going to be a baby blanket for an expectant friend.  Her shower is next month, so I better get a move-on.
The more important item of note is the bag... my wonderful & talented niece, Emma, drew/colored/painted the picture, then her school had the artwork printed on stuff.  Now I have a perfect tote for the yarn, needles, etc.  LOVE IT!

And finally -
The View from the Porch
As I mentioned earlier, the heat has really dried everything out.  If it rains tonight or tomorrow, like the weather people predict, I'm sure the flowers will really pop!  But for now, my lawn is dry and my gardens meager.  OH, but there is one change you might notice.  Yesterday the hubby and I removed all the old, rotten railroad ties that bordered the walkways and replaced them with large stones.  I'm so happy with the way it turned out.  Now if the grass would fill in, it would be perfect!

If you're keeping track, yes, there are 13 pictures this month.  I couldn't help it.  It couldn't decide on which one to bump out, so I left them all in.  I actually took 84 pictures today, but some of them didn't turn out or were dups or weren't worthy of posting here with this month's "full" set.

Thanks for visiting!  See ya next month!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Turn the Page... Tuesday!

I have a lot to report on this month!  I had quite a bit of reading time since I was not able to train for almost 2-weeks.  That, and car maintenance visits, dentist appointments, etc - places to sneak some reading in.

As always, many thanks to Adrienne over at Some of a Kind for the great idea of Turn the Page... Tuesday.  For more info, or to participate, visit her site. (Go there... you'll like it!)

So... what did I read this month?

First... my Book Club Book for July - The Help by Kathryn Stockett
What a wonderful and frustrating book.  I adored the characters (well, most of them.. Hilly), but am saddened by what I expect to be a rather truthful explanation of the situations in which the "Help" live.  It hurts to know that people once felt (and some still feel) that skin color makes one group better or worse than another.  I'm very excited to discuss this book with the group - I'm VERY curious to hear everyone's perspectives on equal rights, racism, and segregation.
BTW, I'm going to give this book a 4 out of 5 when we rate it at Book Club.  I suspect it will get similar ratings from others... but we'll see.  Sometimes these gals surprise me.

The second book I finished was none other than one about our good friend, Sookie!
From Dead to Worse is book 8 in Charlaine Harris' Southern Vampire Series.  Lots of resolutions in this book, lots of action, but not much else.  Poor Sookie didn't really have a story line... she was just in the story - know what I mean?  I suspect this was a "wrap things up and set things up (for the next book)" kind of story.  We'll see what book 9 brings about... I might get to it in July, we'll see.

After these two books, I started a bunch more... 
My book club is having a "Big Book Challenge" this year... reading a heavy, dense, many page book.  It will be "due" in mid-August, I think.  That's when we'll discuss it.
 For this challenge, the group picked David Copperfield by Charles Dickens.  I'm about 100-pages into the story and am slightly losing interest.  It's not that the story is not interesting, but it is not the most uplifting of stories.  I'm not giving up on David, tho.  Ya never know what the next 700 pages might bring.  Besides... if it doesn't kill me, it only makes me stronger.  Literally - this book weighs a TON! (tee hee)

Okay, what else?
Oh yeah... I went to two library book sales in the last few weeks!

One of the many books I picked up (for myself) was Devil in the White City by Erik Larson.  I've never read any True Crime books before, so this was fascinating to me.  It tells the (true) story of two man, living parallel lives during Chicago's shining hour - the World's Fair of 1893.  One is the architect of the buildings used for the fair, the other is a cold blooded killer who used the fair to lure women to their deaths.  Here, again, I'm only part way into it (yes, I'm reading too much at once), but it's captivating me thus far.

Finally... (also at the book sale), I found a book I think might be for my niece.  Tho, I will likely hold on to it till she's between 10-12 years old (a more appropriate age for the story).
 This book is Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass.  I'm really enjoying this young-reader "mystery/adventure" story about an almost-13-year-old boy and his BFF, Lizzy.  Jeremy receives a mysterious box from his dad (who passed away 5 years ago) about a month before his 13th birthday.  Problem is, the keys to open the box are lost (and there's no other way to get inside without destroying the contents).  So Jeremy & Lizzy go in search of them.  I'm only 1/2 way through, so I don't know the meaning of life yet, but it's been a fun ride so far.

Is that is?  Yes.  I think so.  I picked up a BUNCH of other books at the sales, but haven't done much more than glance at the covers.  It's terrible that I only have so many hours in a day... there's SO many good books to read.  I know I'll never get to them all.  * sigh *

Sunday, July 4, 2010


#417 is the area code for southwest Missouri.
#417 is odd, but is not a prime number (missed by 2).
#417 is a Triathlete!
#417 is ME!

I did it!
I wasn't the fastest - far from it.
I almost finished dead-last - but I'm okay with that.
I finished.

Had you asked me a year ago if I ever thought about attempting a triathlon, I would have told you 'no'.  In fact, my friend & neighbor did at triathlon to celebrate her 50th birthday last year and even hearing about her Tri I didn't see myself doing it.  It wasn't until my co-worker roped me into it that I gave it any thought.

It's been an interesting road, looking back, and I'm already thinking about next year's event.

This year...
I trained in a new sport, running.
I realized how much I enjoy an old sport, swimming.
I got re-energized about my favorite sport, cycling.
I improved my health and fitness level to one I've not been at before.  I felt great and looked it, too! (bonus)

Then there were the challenges...
I lost my swimming place in mid-May.  The school I was swimming at closed the pool for remodeling.  This left me without regular swim practice for over a month.  I did swim in the lake with the Triathlon Club, but that was more of a "get to know open-water swimming" than training.  The one really good swim day got shut down early because of lightning.  (a good idea, but messed up training, again).

I also suffered an injury at a very inconvenient time.  I'm not a strong runner as it is, so without regular training, I fell back into my non-runner status and had to start all over again.  This totally messed up my run at the event.  I can't seem to run "long" distances without the pain returning (I walked about 1/2 of the course).  So my plan for the next month is no running... start over again in August.
I have promised myself that next year I'll be ready for that 5K run.

During the race I dropped my chain at around the 4.4 mile mark, which set me back 20 minutes to fix it. (Ooooh, this really toasted me... I was doing SO well on the bike).

I went into the race with two goals (three, if you count that I wanted to finish... but that was really a given):
Goal #1 - Thank all the volunteers.
I learned this from the Slow Fat Triathlete, Jayne Williams.  In her book she emphasizes how much work it is to put on a good, safe, event.  It takes a LOT of volunteers.  People who wake up really early and spend their day off helping us swim-bike-run.
I thanked everyone I passed, except one.  This girl was sitting on the ground texting when I rode by, so I didn't say anything to her.  Looking back, I feel a little guilty for not saying thank you.  I'll do better next year. :)

Goal #2 - Have fun & stay healthy.
I've been listening to my body for the last month... what hurts?  what works?  how am I doing?  When you're out there on the course, you have a lot of time to listen (no iPods allowed).  As I thanked volunteers and wished fellow athletes good luck, it was easy to smile and think "what a cool event this is".  I ran this course in "training speed" - not "racing speed" - so that I could make it to the end without issue.
My family was there to cheer me on - and then some folks I didn't know yelled "GO Jill GO" when I ran past them (friends of friends, as it were) - it make me smile and gave me goosebumps.   It felt very good.

So what were my times?
Total race time:  2:18:50
  Swim:  0:24:08
  T1: 4:00 minutes
  Bike:  1:08:46
  T2: 1:13 minutes
  Run:  0:40:48

At the end of the race, I was met by my hubby, parents, sister & her family, in-laws, and friends, congratulating me on my accomplishment.  Aside from a bit of pain in my hip, I felt great.  I had done it.  Through the good and the bad, it was done.

I am a triathlete.

Happy Independence Day to all, too!  I'm celebrating by doing NOTHING... and loving it.