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!