Monday, December 12, 2011

12-of-12: December 2011

I wasn't sure I'd get this 12-done today.  BUT, I HAD TO!

Today marks the end of 12-of-12 creator, Chad Darnell's, 12-of-12 Project. He's got a ton of new stuff on his plate and can no longer produce this monthly photo event.  I participated for the first time in October 2008 and the 12-of-12 has been a pretty regular occurrence since then.  I've really enjoyed playing along and thank Chad for starting it all.  (This may not be the end of the 12-of-12, maybe just hosted by a different person... stay tuned).

So as I mentioned in my first line, I wasn't sure I'd be able to complete my 12-of-12 this month.  It's Monday, after all.  But it wasn't the day of the week that worried me... after I got a few miles from home this morning I realized I forgot my camera.  OOPS!  But, I compensated by using my iPhone.  All of today's photos were taken on my phone, edited, too.

7:30-8:30am - Buffalo, NY
Here I go... off to work!
Approaching  Buffalo, on the I-190 Northbound
New Courthouse (*and some Occupy Buffalo campers)
8:30am - I arrive at work, The American Red Cross, Buffalo
786 Delaware Avenue, Buffalo, NY
How lucky am I to call this place my new "home" - I started my new job with the Red Cross a few weeks ago.
My view to the left
My view to the right
4:45pm - Heading home
Just  before the sun sets I arrive at my car, while it warms up, I snap one last shot of the former Clement Family Mansion.

5:30pm - at Home
Lots of puppy chores to do tonight - clean ears, trim nails, etc - but before I do that, I grab a little treat (my last reminders of my trip to Hawaii)... ya gotta love the name "Island Hula Yummies"!!
A little aloha in every bite!
Nails & toes are done... time to refill the bones & return them to the freezer for tomorrow morning.  (each kid gets one when the hubby leaves for work - there's one more hidden in the house somewhere, gotta find that sometime)
nom nom nom nom nom nom
The "new guy" - Brokk - he's been with us for 2 weeks
The princess, Mackie.... who loves peanut butter (and her new little brother)


Time for a little TV...
Can you guess?
I thought this shot was pretty cool, even tho you can't tell what it is....
until you see this screen

So, that was my uneventful day in pictures.  I was hoping to get one more of the kids hanging out together, but they decided to do other things while I watched TV.  Hope you're having a good December so far - Happy Holidays & Happy New Year.  Hope to see you in 2012!

... oh, the 12-of-12-of-2012... such an exciting thought!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

12-of-12: Fail

I had such good intentions to complete the 12-of-12 yesterday... but also a HUGE to-do list.  The to-do list won, unfortunately.

BUT... I did get a couple interesting shots in first thing in the morning.

6:30am @ home - The moon was beautiful!  My camera focused on the trees, but I still like the effect.

7:30am, leaving home - My sister asked me to watch her kids for the morning, so off I went to her house.  This is a shot of the same hill you saw in October... far fewer leaves and, yes, snow on the ground.  (We got about an inch Thursday night).
See the moon?

.... and that's the end of my 12-of-12. (frowny-face)

There is A LOT happening in my life in the next couple weeks which I suspect contributed to my lack of inspiration this month.  You'll hear all about them in future posts... hold tight till then, I'm SURE there will be plenty of pictures to make up for those lacking today.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend... see ya next month for Chad's final installment of the 12-of-12.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Turn the Page... Tuesday

Hello November!    (and hello 11/1/11!)
It's the first Tuesday of the month... that means book review time with Adrienne and Turn the Page... Tuesday! 

You might be interested in knowing... I have an alarm set on my phone to remind me about TTP...T every month on the first Tuesday.  I was prompted to post at 7:45 this morning... I even went to read Adrienne's post, then get started on mine... then... oops... I got distracted (probably by something shiny) and didn't RE-remember to post till just now (7:43pm).

BUT, it's still Tuesday, so I guess I'm not late!

I'm in the middle of two books, again, this month. Two VERY different books, I might add.

hmmm, which to comment on first...

I know!  I'll talk about Born to Run by Christopher McDougall first.

This summer, I have had no fewer than three people suggest I read this book... including Arienne!  (a marathoner friend was another, and my Triathlon club, too)

I'm about 1/3 of the way through and so far, it seems to be more of a "hunt" than a book about running, tho I see where it's going because we have just met one of the amazing members of the "Hidden Tribe" and I suspect this is where the story is about to take off.

I've been running now for almost 2-years... I still don't consider myself a runner, but I do enjoy the calorie burn and the amazing physical change my body has gone through since starting it.  I'm hoping Born to Run has a few secrets to share about additional ways I can be a better runner... even if it's all in my head.  :)

I'm looking forward to finding out what happens in the rest of the book.  Stay tuned!

Also, I'm reading Catch-22 by Joseph Heller.
I thought I had a copy of this on my book shelf, but after a couple days of searching (not 48-hours of searching... I would check the shelf, not find it, leave, go back, check again), I came to the conclusion that we didn't own it.  I wasn't sure I wanted to own it, so I did something I haven't done in a LONG time... I went to the public library!

Side note... WOW, the library has changed a lot since I was there last.  I used self check-out... where you just place the books on a little "scale" and *POOF* the computer lists the books you are taking home and posts them to your account.  NEAT-O!

So, after I got over the euphoria of borrowing books the new-fangled way, I started Catch-22.  Set during WWII, the main theme of the book is the ass-backwards reasoning and bureaucracy of government and war.  For example, you can't fly bombing missions if you're crazy, and only crazy people would WANT to fly missions.  But if you ask not to fly you're obviously NOT crazy, so you have to fly them... and things like that.

I'm not loving it.  I understand the power of the story (the insanity of war) and why it made such an impact on the literary world... but I'm not devouring it like I have other books.

Side note #2... 2011 is the 50th anniversary of Catch-22, so that's kinda cool.

Anyway, I'm reading Catch-22 for our Book Club meeting next month.  I'm wondering if the discussion will change my feelings about the story, or if it will just reinforce my current opinion.

I may rent the movie before our meeting later this month... I read that Alan Arkin does a great job as Yossarian (tho he didn't really think so), and that it's quite a good adaptation of the book.

HOWEVER... I'm not finished with the book, so who knows, maybe things will change before I'm done.  I'll have to let you know next month.

Till then, happy reading!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

12-of-12: October 2011

Fall is in full-swing here in Western New York... the leaves are changing to beautiful reds, oranges, and yellows.  We've had beautiful summer-like weather this last week... until today.
Today, we had drizzle that turned into rain.

Oh well, I think I still got a few nice shots that show you how awesome our fall foliage looks right now.

But first..
Time for P90X: Shoulders & Arms and Ab Ripper X.  I'm totally loving this program this time around (first did it in 2009).  Today is Day 10 & already I'm feeling stronger!
Self-portrait thanks to the camera's self-timer

Okay, workout done; now on to the fun stuff...
  Even with a little rain, the ski slopes are beautifully colored.
You definitely want to click on this image to see the full-size view

Old Glenwood Rd, look at those REDS!

Time for a little shopping.
Off to the Farm...
'Tis the week for pumpkin picking
...  and Farmer's Market!
It's been an excellent year for apples
I could not believe my eyes... $5.00 for these stunning Mums!

My parents met me at the market, and they brought me presents!  My totally talented father made these gorgeous redwood tables for my back deck.  I'm SO excited to use them... and bummed that today's rain made that impossible. 
Thanks, Dad!
While I snapped photos of the tables, the little princess sat on her thrown with her new pumpkins and mums.
Mackie in her favorite spot
Oh.  Guess what else the rain brought down....  LEAVES!  
You'd never guess I cleared off the driveway just a few days ago.  Do you see it?  
Where's the driveway?
Off to the Library!  
I haven't been here in a while and WOW have things changed.  I got myself a new library card and selected a few books... but what blew me away was the "check out".  You simply put your books on a scale-looking thing and the titles automatically pop up on the computer screen in front of you.  Amazing!
I'm ready for Book Club!

My friend & neighbor had to be away from home most of this afternoon & evening so she asked me to stop by and feed her dog and the two she was babysitting.  No problem!    Lucky for me, these three would rather play in the warm, dry house than outside in the cold rain.  So I brought the camera along.
Sitting pretty:  Chestnut, Shadow, and Teva
... and then the insanity begins.

Once everyone was back in their crates, tummies full and ready to relax, I made my way back home... but not before I snapped a quick shot of "the aftermath".  
Your "baker's dozen" shot of the day
For more 12-of-12 info and photos, check out Chad Darnell's site.  Hope you had a good 12th - see ya next month!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Autumn Days

Welcome Autumn!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Turn the Page... Tuesday

My entry for this month's Turn the Page... Tuesday (brought to us by our good friend, Adrienne over at Some of a Kind - Thank you, Adrienne!) should be pretty short and sweet.  Not because I haven't been reading, but because you already know the two books I read in September - I mentioned them in last month's post.

First, I finished The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet (pronounced deh-zoot).  From the Author's website, a summary of 'Jacob' is as follows:
The year is 1799, the place Dejima in Nagasaki Harbor, the “high-walled, fan-shaped artificial island” that is the Japanese Empire’s single port and sole window onto the world, designed to keep the West at bay; the farthest outpost of the war-ravaged Dutch East Indies Company; and a de facto prison for the dozen foreigners permitted to live and work there. To this place of devious merchants, deceitful interpreters, costly courtesans, earthquakes, and typhoons comes Jacob de Zoet, a devout and resourceful young clerk who has five years in the East to earn a fortune of sufficient size to win the hand of his wealthy fiancĂ©e back in Holland.
But Jacob’s original intentions are eclipsed after a chance encounter with Orito Aibagawa, the disfigured daughter of a samurai doctor and midwife to the city’s powerful magistrate. The borders between propriety, profit, and pleasure blur until Jacob finds his vision clouded, one rash promise made and then fatefully broken. The consequences will extend beyond Jacob’s worst imaginings. As one cynical colleague asks, “Who ain’t a gambler in the glorious Orient, with his very life?”

I found the story to be quite interesting.  Life at the end of the 1700's was full of so much struggle and change; placing the story in this location showed, yet another perspective of this.  As always with historical fiction, I am fascinated and disheartened by all the politics of the world.  So many games people played.

The characters were extremely vivid.  There were the obvious "bad guys", but each one (good and bad) were quite realistic.  Mitchell did an excellent job with the language, as well... For example, the dock workers spoke in their "lower" language", there was the interplay of language between the interpreters, and (of course), the political language between the parties.

I must admit, early on in the book I was a little overwhelmed by the details of the story.  Mitchell obviously took painstaking effort to describe the trading world between Japan & the Dutch... my book club felt the same way.  The strange thing is, at the end of the story, there's a lot of "glossing" over the details - like he lost steam and just wanted to finish the book.  (I honestly didn't mind that, but it seemed quite a contradiction from the beginning).

Speaking of book club - one thing that came up in the discussion that I didn't catch while reading was the use of poetry, namely Haiku.  I have never been up on poetry... I'm just not geared that way, I guess... but I can respect it.  When Jackie & Jen mentioned the Haiku's scattered throughout the book I was blown away.  THIS is why I love book club, I learn things from others that I would have never gotten from the book alone.

The group gave the book an average rating of 3.5 (out of 5, 5 being best).  I would say if you're interested in historical fiction about life in a very politically controlled area of the world in the late 1700's/early 1800's, this book is something you'd like to read.

Second, I completed Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley.
This book has been on my shelf since I got married and it was on my hubby's shelf since high school.  I have always wanted to read it.
I got my chance this month because I am leading the discussion for Book Club on October 19th!  YEP, the group chose it as a selection!

I flew through this story.  It's a short book, only 209 pages, and it moves pretty fast.  If you've only known about Frankenstein from the movies or TV, then you DON'T know the story. at. all.

I knew a bit of what the story was about (btw, Frankenstein is the scientist, not the monster); I knew it was a sad story, that the monster wasn't really a "monster", but that was about it.

That said, there is still SO much to talk about... and my post is already REALLY long. 
Let me try to sum up the millions of thoughts in my head about this book (and it's author).
- Mary Shelley had a roller-coaster of a life up until the writing of Frankenstein (at age 19) - she grew up without her mother (her father was not very involved with her either), she eloped with a married man (Percy Shelley) at age 16, her first child died, her 1/2 sister committed suicide, and Percy's wife drowned.
- The story of Frankenstein is marketed as a Horror story... but I see it as a tragedy.
- The question of "Just because you CAN do something, does it mean that you SHOULD?" comes to mind.  This, knowing that scientific research has lead to remarkable discoveries... Mary seems to be posing the question of "Are there discoveries that shouldn't be made?"
- The creature... could he have lived a good life if Frankenstein had reacted differently to him as a being?
- I can't help but be drawn to the thought of bullying - such a prominent topic these days - I'm not exactly sure why.  I think it's because I sympathize so greatly with The Creature.  His words throughout the story are gentle and compassionate.  He is intelligent and simply yearns for companionship and love.  He becomes "a monster" because he is shunned by his creator and the world of humans, banished to live in the snowy mountain caves... alone.  Maybe it's the isolation and misery he feels that strikes the bullying chord in me.

I highly, highly recommend Frankenstein.  It's a heart-wrenching story, but one that makes you think.  It's wonderfully written by a unique woman who got the idea after spending many days hanging out with Percy Shelley & Lord Byron... being taunted into writing a "ghost story".

So much for short and sweet this month... sheesh.
Hope you read some good stuff recently, if you haven't go get Frankenstein... NOW!  ;)

Monday, October 3, 2011

At it again

Racing season is over (I think).
I ran my last 5K this past Saturday, the Autumn Challenge in the park in my "backyard".
And guess what?!
I took 2nd place in my age group! 
(little secret... I'm not exactly sure how many people were IN my age group, but it was very few)

The day was rainy and cold (42-degrees F), so I suspect many folks opted to stay home in their cozy beds than come out and run around like a crazy fool.
But THIS crazy fool did, and I had a great time (35:07) and scored some great goodies.

SO, then the obvious next question is...

What do I do now?

No more "training" is necessary, per se, but I'm loving my new-and-improved 20-pound lighter body and want to keep it slim and strong and healthy.

With the days getting shorter and the temps dropping (it's only going to get into the upper-50s this week), the amount of outside time could be limited.  So, the hubby and I decided to break out the P90X DVDs.

Yep.  We're going to jump into the insanity that is P90X... again.  (Our first attempt, in 2009, went quite well.)
It's a great muscle-building program, but very intense.
I have the time to commit 90+ minutes a day to these workouts, but we'll see if the hubby can (with his 10-hour work days).

My goals... I have two.
1) Maintain my weight (I have a little more fat I'd like to lose, and want to build muscle... I suspect that should balance in the pounds-department).
2) I want 6-pack abs.

Today was Day-1.  I finished my workout about 45-minutes ago and already I can feel my arms getting a little tight (today was the Chest & Back workout - lots of push-ups and pull-ups).  Looking forward to tomorrow... Plyo, my favorite workout.  We'll see if I'm able to sit up, however, the Ab Ripper workout is a killer.

I'll see you tomorrow for Turn The Page... Tuesday where I fill you in on all I've been reading as of late.  See you then!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Take it... to the limit....

The 8 in the Rough is touted as...
"...a fun, challenging and almost endless course of twists, single track, a bit of wide xc ski trail and park roads. It's not flat, and it's not dry. Pack your energy and have at one of the most exciting, hard core trail runs of the season in Western New York!"
 ...and they ain't lyin'!

Yesterday, I learned my limit.
A friend, and fellow runner, put it into perspective today (more on that later).

But first, here's the story.
You know I've been running a lot this summer, more than I ever have before.
I'm getting better at it, tho I still don't consider myself a runner.
I have to work hard at it - it doesn't come naturally like swimming or biking.
Running really challenges me.

But I LIKE that challenge.
I like being stubborn and saying "no, dammit, I'm not giving up"... even when I feel I'm making no progress at all.

Oh.. and you also know I've been totally digging trail runs, right.  (No?  Go here)

SO, when I was signing up for races this summer and saw "8 in the Rough" - an 8-mile trail run in my "backyard" I thought... hmmmm, might be tough, but might be a fun challenge, something to shoot for.
So I signed up.

I honestly wasn't sure how well I'd do in this race.  I never ran this distance before (5.5 and 6.5 miles were the closest I got - and one was in a rain storm (with lots of thunder & lightning) where I was literally running for my life).
One thing I did know was the awesome feeling I get when I run the trails.  I wondered if this "high" could carry me through the 8.5 miles.

And if the race was strictly a mental game, I could have done it.

But, it isn't.
So I didn't.

I made it to the 6.5 mile mark (I had actually started walking around 5.5, but there was no way out of the race except forward, so I kept moving).

What happened?  My hip started to really bother me.
Yep, the same hip I injured last year two weeks before my 1st triathlon. (I blogged about it here)
It was okay when I walked, but the pain flared up when I ran.

So when I came out of the woods, I bagged it.  I turned in my tag and went home.

Did I feel defeated or disappointed.  Yeah, a little, I guess. 
But more importantly, I felt proud of my accomplishment.  I completed 6.5 miles on a VERY challenging trail.

My friend and fellow runner (who I mentioned above) perfectly put it into perspective for me...
The 6.5 miles we ran on the trail today, equate to about 12 on the road.

This made me really proud of my run.

I learned a few things while I was out there...
I learned that I'm not ready for that big of a challenge (yet).  Maybe I'll never be... we'll see what next year brings.
I learned the REAL reason why I run - for fitness, for calorie burn, and for the trails,
and I confirmed that I'd rather be slow and happy runner (without pain) than push myself to place 18th in a race that really means nothing in the grand scheme of life.

That won't stop me from running in organized events... it's fun to run with others in a friendly competition... but I won't let it break me if I finish dead last or DNF entirely.

It's all about getting outside, being active, and having a good time.
Hope you had some good times outside this weekend.

Monday, September 12, 2011

12-of-12: September 2011

I wasn't sure I'd complete my 12-of-12 today.

I spent much of the morning doing a brick (bike/run) workout, so I was tired.
Plus, I was all "snapped" out from taking pictures at the Dirty Girl Mud Run on Saturday (click here to see those).
Plus, it's Monday, and I didn't really have anywhere "special" to go... until I decided to take my puppy-girl for a walk in the park.

Sprague Brook Park in Glenwood, NY is a gem.
It's huge.  It's beautiful. And, most days, it's so peaceful.

Today was no exception.

Being a Monday, we had the trails almost entirely to ourselves.  We walked along at a leisurely pace and tried to capture some of the unique aspects of "our woods".  Here's what we found...

Eastern Newt
Coral Fungus

"Thumb Tack" Mushrooms

Cute & Fuzzy Fungi
First Fallen Leaves
Trooping Funnel
Mossy North Side
I hope you enjoyed your walk in the woods with us.  Come back next month when the leaves promise to be in their full Fall splendor!

Thanks, Chad Darnell, for starting the 12-of-12 Project!