Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Done and To Do


-Tree up, decorated.

-Elf watched.  At least twice.
Son of a nutcracker, how perfect is this tree???  Cut it down ourselves for $10 in the national forest. 

-Holiday cards mailed.  Can I get a whoop-whoop!!

-Gifts to far away friends and family mailed. (for a $55 post office bill...eek.  At least I was early enough to send them parcel post.)

-Gift for office gift exchange purchased and wrapped. ($10 limit not quite reached.)

-Toys and clothes contributed to our "adopted family" in need.

-Food contribution (veggies and hummus) to office holiday party purchased and prepped.

-Gifts for the mister and the kiddo purchased, wrapped and currently luxuriating under the tree.

-Gingerbread house attempted.
Not that bad for a first attempt, right?

To do:

-Come up with a white elephant gift for a friend's holiday party on Friday.  Having a tough time with this one.

-Bake goodies to take with us to the in-laws for xmas.  Usually a couple different kinds of cookies and some chex mix to accompany the long beer drinking/scrabble playing sessions.

-Tag and take teacher gifts to Otto's school.

-Attend the daycare holiday program next tuesday.  Its going to be so cute!  I can't wait!!!  He's been practicing his little songs at home and they are adorable.

-De-stress.  For real, I am exhibiting all my typical signs of stress:  poor sleep, volcanic break-outs and delightful moodiness.  I'm keeping up with my workouts and drinking green tea and eating leafy greens, fresh fruit, etc. etc. but sleep is the deficit at the moment.  I just can't seem to make it to bed before 10:30pm and the alarm goes off at 5:00am.  I'm just looking forward to Winter Break which is an AMAZING perk of my job- we get the week between xmas and new years off, with pay.  Imma gonna sleep in every day, son!!

-I'm sure there are to-do's I'm forgetting....

What's on your list?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Plan B

Hearing about this (see also: this) all day has my stomach in knots.  I agree with the author of the Slate piece that "The only reason to keep these restrictions in place is to force pregnancy on unwilling minors as punishment for having sex, and just accept the impregnated rape victims as collateral damage. "

Yes, that's exactly what Sebelius is doing...ensuring that this medication will not be available to girls under 17 years old unless their parent is super understanding and also an M.D.   It's bullshit on the highest level.

And this quote from Obama disheartens me:  "He said Sebelius decided 10- and 11-year-olds should not be able to buy the drug "alongside bubble gum or batteries" because it could have an adverse effect if not used properly. He said "most parents" probably feel the same way."


I'm sorry to yell but I'm just that pissed.

Denying victims of rape, abuse or just young people that make a fucking mistake (it happens- condoms break, people forget to take pills, etc.) a safe, easy way to prevent unwanted pregnancy is Wrong with a capital W. 


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Race to the Finish

Honestly?  Sometime it feels like December is an endurance event.  It can be hard for me to take a step back and just...chill.  There's so much that has to be done; shopping, events to attend, stuff to bake, travel to arrange, etc., etc.  Its overwhelming.

Over time, I've come up with a few strategies that help me relax and actually enjoy the season, because even though I'm not at all religious, this time of year is special to me: Its a celebration of life, family, friends, and a reminder that even in the dark and cold of winter, the earth is alive and spring will come again.  

What I'm doing to stay copacetic: 

-I'm getting my holiday shopping done early so I'm not worrying about what to get who.  As of right now, I only have Otto's teachers (giftcards, of course) and a friend left to shop for and I'll get those knocked out in the next couple days. Yay!  Love having all that accomplished.   (I truly enjoy shopping for the "perfect" gifts but I can't handle waiting until the last minute- too much pressure!!)

- Keeping my workout schedule.  My runs are my "me" time, the time I have to think and mull and otherwise just be inside my own head.  Even when I'm tired, or its cold, or whatever, I'm getting out for a run or in worst case scenario, I'm doing an exercise DVD in the basement.  I need to sweat to feel whole.  This morning, I ran in the dark while it was snowing.  It was great.

-Saying "No."  This is a hard one.  But I just can't attend every lunch, happy hour, office party, etc. that I get invited to.   My time with my family suffers if I try and honestly, there are precious few gatherings that I'm actually excited to go to.    Also, I can't afford to donate to every cause, every charity, every fundraiser.  I can't do like 4 different secret santa exchanges.  I can't bake cookies and make chex mix and pie crust and and and...Sorry but...NO.

-Prioritizing.  This goes along with saying no.  I'm continuously asking myself,"is this REALLY the most important thing?  Really??"  If the answer is No, then I rethink my current course of action.  I only want to do the important stuff.  I want to do the things I really care about.

What am I missing?  What are you doing make sure that you enjoy the season and don't stress?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Random shit and gratitude

First, some random shit:
-I have a sinus infection, again.  It seems like I get at least 2-3 per year.  What gives??  I'm a healthy person, take my vitamins, eat well, etc.  I did, however, break my neti pot about a year ago and haven't replaced it for which I was scolded today by my doctor.  So, new neti pot in one hand, antibiotics in the other, I'm out for blood.  You're going DOWN, sinus infections.  Assholes.

-My kid is a little man these days.  A FB post of mine from a couple days ago: 
"Otto growing up: 1. Since last week, he will only take showers, no baths. Insists on washing himself but grudgingly allows help with hair ONLY., 2. Got up this morning, made himself breakfast (toast with peanut butter and honey). "See, I can do it MYSELF." 3. Last night he told me "he loves me even when I tell him to do stuff." Har."

This is the truth!  What a little dude.

-We're doing something new for Thanksgiving this year...The Mister's aunt,(at whose house we usually stuff ourselves,) is going through a divorce so rather than invade her, we've rented 2 condos up in the mountains and are going for a ski/sled/snowshoe/eating adventure.  Yay!!  While I enjoy the traditional "everyone sit in the living room with unbuttoned pants" Thanksgiving, I'm not-so-secretly excited about this much more active one!  Also, I found new (to me) back-country skis at the gear swap (they were a steal!) and can't wait to try them out.  Double yay!!

Gear swap skis!  Also, our mail is here!
Its good practice to think about what you're thankful for every day, no?  I try to do that, I really do.  But this time of year gives you an excuse to bore others with your gratitude.  I'm especially thankful for:

-my health.  Chronic sinus infections notwithstanding, I'm in the best physical shape I've ever been in.  I love it that I can run, ski, snowshoe, whatever I want to do really and do it wholeheartedly.  Doing stuff is fun...who knew!? 

-my job.  Its not the greatest.  Its not my "dream."  But you know what?  It enables me to fulfill other dreams:  feed, clothe, and otherwise take care of my family, travel (limited, but still, the occasional road trip is possible), afford entry fees for races, etc.  I'm lucky to have a job and I know it.

-living in a beautiful place.  Sure the winters are rough and I'm pretty sure I have at least a mild form of S.A.D. so living at 7200 feet above sea level in the Rockies might not be the wisest but fuck-it, its gorgeous here.  

-of course, my little family.  We rock, if I do say so myself.
Also, we pose in front of rocks.  Winning.
HAPPY TURKEY DAY.  Be thankful.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

My Beautiful Laundrette

Our washing machine broke last week.  I noticed that it was filling up with water, but  not agitating, draining but not spinning.  Google suggested a broken motor, which sounds expensive, doesn't it?  Ugh.

So rather than calling a repairman and facing that music, I took the path of least the laundromat.  Which sounds like a drag, right?  Its cold outside, hauling baskets of laundry in and out and putting quarters in and waiting and...yuck, right?

No.  Surprise of surprises.  It was decidedly NOT a drag.   Quite the opposite, really.  I can confidently report that it was one of the most relaxing evenings I've had in weeks.  It was a Tuesday night.  It was me and a couple other quiet folks, gently washing, drying, folding.  It was warm and bright and smelled of fabric softener.  The TV was on in the background, the History Channel comfortingly droning on about buried treasure or something.  Clothes tumbled rhythmically in dryers.  No one was touching me, talking to me, needing me.   Between moving clothing from washers to dryers, I sat in a comfortable seat and drank tea and read a book.  It was practically on par with a spa day.

Also, I got what would normally take an entire day to wash done in 2 hours. Granted it cost about 12 bucks but that's cheaper than a movie or happy hour and honestly,  for that particular night it was infinitely more relaxing than either.  It was a beautiful night and since we haven't made any calls on the washer, it looks like I'll have to go back.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Running it all out.

I seem to be finally be getting over that little bout of depression or whatever it was I've been going through the last few weeks. All I can say is...THANK GOODNESS.  I was a lean, mean, bitchy machine to just about everyone.  Everyone and everything was annoying me and I was pretty disinterested in things that would normally really get my juices flowing.  All I wanted to do was sleep.  Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it), I've been down that road before and I recognized the feeling.  I did what I could to self medicate through exercise, good food and being gentle with myself.

In hindsight, I think the little black raincloud was a combination of post-marathon blues, the weather and just feeling overwhelmed by work/volunteer stuff/personal commitments and relationships/etc., etc. It was starting to scare me, though, so I'm glad that things seem to be on the upswing.

One thing that really helped pull me out of my funk was a half-marathon in Colorado that I ran on Saturday.  It was a clear, cold day and the course had a good view of snow-covered Rocky Mountains.  I wasn't worried about the was only a half!  I just ran all my stress, my sadness, my funkiness out- tried to leave it all on the course and I think it worked.  I PR'd- first half in under 2 hours!!  And it was cathartic.  Afterward, I felt like a new person, scrubbed clean on the inside. 

I'm just so glad I found running.  10 years ago I was on anti-depressants.  Today, the road is the only antidepressant I need.  I know that's not how it is for everyone, but I'm glad that's how it is for me.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Favorite Things: Cold-ass weather edition

From my last post, you may have gathered that the weather is making me a bit cranky.  Time for some favorite things to make me feel better!

1.  Apple cider.  While I usually go for tea or coffee, I've been on a cider kick lately and can't seem to go a day without at least one cup of the stuff.  I like it spiced, hot, and preferably imbibed under a quilt reading something dark and amazing like...

2. ... The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman.  While Silas and Bod and the Owenses etc. are wonderful, my very favorite character is probably Liza Hempstock.  I always cry at the end.  If you haven't read it, I don't even know why I'm talking to you.

 3.  "Night-time walks."  Otto and I have been doing this thing lately where we bundle up after dinner and put our headlamps on and walk around the dark neighborhood.  We imagine that we see caves, bats, tunnels, and other spoooooky stuff just outside our lights' reach.  Instead of holing up inside, its like we're venturing out into the dark and cold and saying "we're not afraid of you!!!" 

4.  Smartwool socks.  I love any sort of wool socks, really, but these are soft cushiony tubes of "everything's-gonna-be-ok."  Folks that know me have learned that Smartwools are ALWAYS a good gift for me.  I love them and wear a pair nearly every day.

5.  Downton Abbey.  What's not to love?  British accents, class-ism, sexism, stuff and nonsense, and Dame Maggie Smith!  Love.

6.  Soup, soup, soup.  Tomato, Chicken Noodle, Minestrone...I don't really care, just give me soup!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Under the weather.

The kiddo on snowshoes last winter...we'll soon be digging those out of the closet.

First real big snow of the season today.  In years past, I remember loving the first snow; being all excited to pull out my cute snow boots and hats and scarves and hot chocolate and etc., etc.   But today, I woke up ambivalent, wanting to stay snuggled in bed with my cute husband and deeply sleeping little boy with my eyes closed pretending it was still late summer with gentle temps and dry running trails.

I did haul myself out of bed, however.  I worked out, (core work, ugh) showered, then stood in front of my closet looking at my sweaters with a sad resignation.   I didn't want to wear any of them...and I LOVE sweaters, usually.  LOVE them.  But today?  No.  I still want my skirts and tights and t-shirts with clogs and maybe a cardigan for chilly nights.  Not long pants and sweaters and snow boots and winter coats and scraping of ice off cars.   I settled on a light sweater, corduroy pants and, you guessed it, snow boots.  Sigh.

And then it took me 8 minutes to scrape off my car.

I just don't feel ready for winter this year.  It was such a great summer...packed with runs and picnics and vacations and backyard parties.  And the fall has been short, too short.  And now I'm scared we won't see the ground again until April.

I love this town for a lot of reasons but today I'm daydreaming of warmer climes.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Give me an excuse.

Source:  Wikipedia
Statement:  This time of year is made for reading Victorian Gothic fictionFrankensteinDracula, Jane Eyre, The Picture of Dorian Gray.  These books just fit the shorter, colder days, the haunting clickety clack of leaves tripping down the sidewalk, wind that howls through the crack under the door while we're warm inside eating soup, bare branches providing a start contrast against a cloudless, moonlit sky. 

At this time of year, I tend to revisit one or more of these old favorites and delight in their deliciously creepy prose and not-really-all-that-antiquated warnings of the corruption of technology and scientific innovation.  I especially love the intensity of the emotions the characters in these novels tend to have...all-consuming passions and fears, loves and hates.  My husband would scoff and call it "emo" but I love it.  I love the complete and utter despair suffered by Frankenstein when his creature is lost to him.  I love how intensely Jane feels for Mr. Rochester, how delightfully hateful Dracula truly is.  Just love it!

And not all the great stuff from this era came out of Great Britain...there are amazing short stories from Nathaniel Hawthorne that will enchant you (for realz!), specifically Rappaccini's Daughter.  (Seriously, read it.)  And of course, Washington Irving's Legend of Sleepy Hollow...CLASSIC.

What this all points to is me wanting some serious quality time with a book, my couch, and a cup of tea.  Can one call into work with a serious case of Need to Read?

Get back to me on that, will you?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Because 26.3 would be crazy.

I'm alive!  I did it!  And what's better, I did it in under my goal time*.  Squee!!

The whole experience started on Saturday, the day before the race.  We woke up to snow, icy roads, and general weather shittiness.  Thankfully the snow turned to rain around the state line, and my two running friends and I eventually made it to Denver and to the expo to pick up our packets.

At the convention center, we stood in one line to pick up packets, in another line to pick up our t-shirts, and yet another to get our swag bags.   And then we were turned loose into the madness...There were SO MANY people!  And free stuff!  and...people!  It was a nuthouse.  We got free energy bars, drinks, pictures taken, and I even met Dimity McDowell and Sarah Bowen Shea, authors of Run Like a Mother and the website another mother runner.  (Dimity is so tall! Wow!)  We saw crazy compression suits, minimalist shoes, tried gross electrolyte drinks, and laughed at weird outfits.  It was fun.  I'm kicking myself that I didn't actually take any expo pictures.  I was too distracted!

After the expo, we checked into the hotel and walked out to grab some dinner.  The hotel recommended a nice Italian restaurant that was nearby but they couldn't seat us for another 2 hours.  We made do with a brewery around the corner.  It was weird eating at a brewery but not ordering beer.  A couple hours and some nervous giggling later, we were in bed and counting down the hours until the start.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

5am.  Woke up, ate, freshened and then bundled up...the temp was in the 30's but expected to warm to the mid-50's.  Hard to dress for.  I threw some long pants and a sweatshirt (to be checked at the last minute) over my shirt and shorts, and cut up some little girl knee socks to make disposable arm warmers and mittens. 

The long pants and sweatshirt got checked right before the start.

The start line was a PARTY.  At 6:30 in the morning!  Music! Lights! People!  SO MANY PEOPLE.  (You can tell I come from a relatively unpopulated place, huh?)  Fortunately, they did a lot of things right, including tons of porta-potties and clear signs directing us to our starting corrals.  I was in corral 7 (determined by your estimated running time) so I said bye to my buddies and slowly jostled my way through the crowds to a spot near my pacing team.

Yes!  I signed up for a pace team on a whim at the expo and I'm so glad I did!  I latched onto the cute redheaded guy holding the 4:20 sign (and yes, people yelled stuff at him about getting stoned pretty much along the whole course.  He responded with good humor.)  After the gun went off for our corral (they staggered the starts, letting each corral go for a couple minutes before starting the next one) I made sure to keep him in sight and that really helped me to reign myself in and not rabbit out of the gate.

I had to stop and pee (naturally...sigh.) around the 5K mark, so I lost sight of the pacers for a while.  About a mile later, I caught up, passed them, and then settled into my own groove.  Around mile 6, things were warming up and I tossed my "mittens" aka the feet from the little girl socks.

The capitol and race crazyness.
The course was gorgeous, weaving through downtown Denver, into parks, pretty neighborhoods.  There were live bands and spectators holding signs all along the course.   The temperature rose into the mid 50's and the sun shone brightly.  The aid stations were well run and the folks holding traffic did a great job.  All we, as runners had to do was keep running!

I used the aid stations but also carried a few things with me:  I had my little handheld water bottle, a couple gels (I like Hammer gels) and some sport beans.  One gel went down at mile 6, and then I ate the sport beans at the half marathon mark.  After that, once I got into the higher mileage, I couldn't talk myself into eating that second gel, so I started drinking the energy drink offered at the aid stations in addition to some water.

Around mile 20, my right leg started to hurt and cramp hip hurt, my thigh, my butt...the whole thing.  I felt myself slowing down.  The pace team was catching up to me.  This was a moment when I had to do some serious self talk and just hunker down and get through it.  I remember repeating to myself "you're fine, you can do this, you're fine, you can do this" over and over.  I didn't want to stop because I knew it would be really hard to start again.  I took energy drink whenever they offered it and dug deep.

Soon, I passed the 21 mile marker, the 22, 23, 24...25.  I knew we were close.  I shut everything out and just concentrated on moving my feet and how good the finish was going to feel.  Right before the end there was maybe the steepest hill in the entire race.  Mean!  It was hard.  But I was going to be damned if I started walking at that part!  I just ran 25 miles!  I can run up a stupid hill!

When I saw the finish line and all the people and the was an awesome moment.  Under my breath, I told myself "You just ran a marathon."  Holy Shit!!


Headed towards the finish!
The mister and the kiddo were snowed in and couldn't make it down but my friends were there, yelling my name.  When I crossed the finish line, they gave me my medal, a shiny blanket thingy, a bottle of water and took my picture.  I grabbed a bagel from a box and shakily made my way out of the finishers area and to the predetermined meeting place to wait for my friends. 

I spread the shiny blanket thingy on the ground and sat in the sun, breathing, drinking water and just taking everything in.  At that moment, I felt so damn proud.  Proud of the months of training.  The lost toenails, getting up at the buttcrack of dawn, weekend mornings spent away from my family, this moment it was all worth it.**

* Official finishing time 4:17:40...way under my goal of 4:30:00.  !!!
**When I got up to walk the mile back to the hotel, however, it was another story.  Ouch! 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Getting PUMPED

3 days until the marathon! Eeeeek!

Ran my last pre-race run this morning, a mere 2 miles. I've got my clothes picked out, including some Hello Kitty little girl knee socks cut at the ankles to make disposable arm warmers and mittens to keep warm before the start (6:55am!). Sometimes I'm so smart I surprise even myself. Heh. They were $2, so I plan on just chucking them when I get warm enough. The race has indicated that any clothing thrown off will be donated, but I seriously doubt anyone will want knee socks that have essentially been cut in half...

I've got my fueling/hydration plan down (2 gels, some sport beans, handheld water + aid stations) and even what I'll have for breakfast that morning (a powerbar + banana + starbucks double shot seems to be my magic combo.)

I've decided to run without my ipod, as there will be live music all along the course, and I like to be able to hear in races. Am I forgetting anything? If its sunny, I'll do sunglasses but right now, they're predicting a nice cloudy, 56 degree day with a 20% chance of showers so I might do a running hat instead. I've found that I don't really mind running in rain as long as its not going straight in my face.

Now. It's time to GET PUMPED UP and try not to go stir crazy while waiting for Sunday. My favorite way to do that is to listen to a ridiculous playlist full of songs that get my juices flowin'. The funny part is that music I listen to while running or getting ready to run in NO WAY resembles music that I listen to for pleasure, to relax, or at any other time really. Anyone else have this sickness?

For your viewing/listening pleasure, I've listed some of my choice picks below. *EXTREME CHEESE ALERT* You've been warned. Also, recommendations for more will be accepted. I love a good cheeseball-getting-pumped-song.

and, of course, my favorite running song of all time...

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The 5 best.

I am a huge fan of Karen Walrond at Chookooloonks.  Huge.  She's warm, intelligent, creative and inspiring.   I'm pretty sure that if I ever met her in person (or even better, together with The Bloggess), I'd probably drool all over myself and do something stupid like just stand there grinning and going "uh huh uh huh."

On her blog today, she discusses the top 5 best decisions of her adult life.  In addition to her own list, she publishes the lists of others, solicited on Twitter.  Everyone's top 5's are different and amazing and interesting. 

And truly, what a fantastic list to sit and think about and make.  (You know I LOVE lists!)  Personally, I feel like I spend a sizable amount of energy (and I'm probably not alone in this) bemoaning decisions I think I made in error.  The stupid shit.  Shit I regret, wish I'd done differently, etc., etc.  It's rarely, if ever, that I reflect on what I've done right in my life.

So here it is, my 5:

1.  Spend the pivotal summer of my 22nd year in the Tetons,
2.  Get back together with the Mister and get married,
3.  Move to my current town,
4.  Have my little boy,
5.  Take care of my body and mind by running and eating well.

What are the top 5 best decisions of your adult life?  Leave a comment or go to Karen's blog and chime in!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Book Report

Every month, there's a balancing act between books that are in my private "to read" stack and the book that we've picked for book club.  I always have the best of intentions towards the book club pick.  They are usually intellectual!  interesting! well reviewed!  But secretly, I really want to be reading the stuff in my private stash- which usually consists of guilty pleasure type reading- (think Sookie Stackhouse novels, etc...)

This month has been hard.  For book club, we picked The Brothers K.  Looks great, right?  A sweeping narrative, etc. etc.  I should really want to read this book.  Book club is next week.  I am currently 15% into the book (in Kindle speak).  This is not good.

Instead, I've been deeply mired in the world created by George R. R. Martin who I'm fairly sure spent a good portion of time in his parents' basement reading comics and thinking of "cool stuff"* like a young, hot teenage girl breastfeeding a pair of newborn dragons.

I know!  Its ridiculous.  And I've read 3 of the books in the series.

I need help.

*Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Friday, September 23, 2011

4 years

Hello, world!-Age 1 Day
Age 1 year...loving those blueberries.
2 year old goofball
3 years old and very grown up
almost 4 and um, what?  when did this happen?

As of 11:30 or so tomorrow night, my kid will be 4 years old.  Four.

This blows my mind.

He took treats to daycare today and we're planning a friendly little BBQ with close friends for tomorrow.  He's requested a skeleton cake (whatever that is) so the Mister will be baking a yellow cake with chocolate frosting and then drawing a white skeleton on it.

All wrapped up for him are a Darth Vader costume and a play cash register with fake money and EVERYTHING just like he asked for.  He will also be receiving some new sweatpants, a sweatshirt and new shoes for the fall.  The Mister has also picked out some sort of (supposedly) amazing Star Wars spaceship of some kind.

And, in not unrelated news, we discussed maybe trying to get pregnant a year from now.  I will officially be of "advanced maternal age" but its what feels right for us.  Let the money savings begin!

Friday, September 16, 2011


This picture makes my heart feel like its going to bust right out of my chest.

"You think dogs will not be in heaven?  I tell you, they will be there long before any of us."  ~Robert Louis Stevenson

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Moooove over

Bits and Pieces;

Image Source

- I ran 18 miles this weekend.  Farthest. Run. Ever.  Pretty proud of myself.  On this same run, however, my friend Beth and I were CHASED BY A HUGE, BELLOWING COW at about mile 9.  We sprinted, our heart rates soaring, with the huge black mama gaining on us until I turned around, grabbed some rocks, and started throwing them at her feet.  She bellowed once and then turned around.  We felt stupid for being so scared was scary!  I'm not sure if she was mad (there were a couple calves there...maybe she felt threatened?), curious, or thought we were going to feed her...?

-A couple weekends ago, we went on a trip to South Dakota....Spearfish, specifically.  We had an amazing time!  The Mister KILLED it in a 50 mile mountain bike race, and Otto had a blast in the Strider World Cup.

"They're gonna put my face up there too, Mom."

-My little boy turns 4 in two weeks.  How have I been a mother for 4 years?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Fall Cooking-Minestrone Time!

Image source here

Aaaaaaaaaand......just like that, Fall is here.  It's like the occurence of Labor Day signaled some shift and what was warm and summery is now cool, crisp and swathed in morning fog.

This slight nip in the air, accompanied by a steady, cold drizzle yesterday drove us indoors and into the kitchen.

Otto and I decided to make Minestrone- a great soup to make with kids and, let's face it, fucking delicious to boot. 

Minestrone (Adapted and changed a little from Mollie Katzen's Moosewood Cookbook)

2 tbs Olive Oil
A big onion, chopped
Lots of garlic (5 cloves or so), minced
Some sea salt...maybe 1 1/2 tsp.
One or two celery stalks, diced
One or two carrots, diced
One chopped bell pepper, any color (we chose orange, but red and green are great too)
One zucchini squash, diced
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
A well rinsed and drained can of Garbanzo Beans
Some dry pasta- (any shape-we like penne) , 3/4 to 1 cup, give or take
15 oz. can of tomato puree or sauce
3 tbs. or so of dry, drinkable red wine (optional)
4 cups of organic chicken broth (or water or veggie stock, if you wanna go vegetarian like Mollie)
2 ripe, fresh tomatoes, diced
Parmesan cheese
Fresh parsley, chopped

First,  chop all the choppables and set them aside, ready to be dumped in the soup pot when the time comes.  Then heat the oil in a big ol' soup pot, and add the onion, garlic and salt.  Stir and cook and smell for about 5 minutes.  Next, add the carrots, celery, oregano, basil, and black pepper.  Stir and cook and smell again until it's all mixed up.  Put a lid on it, reduce heat to low and cook for about 10 minutes.

"Onions hurt my eyes but they smell good, Mom."

Pop the lid off, throw in your bell pepper, your zucchini, the chicken stock (or water) and tomato puree and wine if you've got it.  Stir it up, bring to a simmer and cover and cook for about 15 minutes.  Throw in the chick peas.  Cook another 5 minutes.

Bring the soup to a gentle boil, throw in your pasta and cook until its done.

Don't you feel comforted and warmed just looking at that?

Inhale deeply.

At the last minute, once your pasta is nice and edible, toss in the diced tomato and stir.  Serve with parsley and Parmesan and maybe some crusty bread and butter on the side.

Oh, and pour yourself a glass of that wine.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

And stuff.

What's up with me:

For obvious reasons, I don't want to say much about my job here.  There are folks out there who get canned for writing about their jobs on their blogs and NO THANKS.  However,  work is presenting some challenges lately that are not entirely pleasant.  Ugh.  Its nothing big or earth shattering, rather a thousand tiny little annoyances that add up to one unhappy, bored, listless me.  I'm SO MUCH MORE fulfilled by my home life and volunteer work that it leaves me wondering if there truly is something wrong with my current situation or if I'm just the personality type that will never be content.

Home is OK... not getting enough time with the Mister (if you know what I mean, wink, wink) but having been married 11+ years, I know that these things ebb and flow.   We're both training for endurance events, working full-time and being parents.  So yeah, nookie will take a back seat from time to time.  But still...I'm starting to look forward to curling up on winter nights and canoodling while the snow falls.

In a similar vein, I'm looking forward to cooler weather and the domesticity that tends to come with it.  I'm itching for minestrone, green chili, and other cool weather comfort foods that just don't seem right when temps are 80+ degrees.   And hot drinks.  And wearing scarves. 

The little guy is in a new classroom at preschool and seems to be thriving, even with the reduction of nap time down from 2 hours a day to 1 hour a day.  I've noticed a little grumpiness in the evenings but overall he's handling the transition much better than I'd anticipated.  And HOLY SHIT he's going to be 4 this month.

...And I'm thinking about having another one more and more.  Eeeep.  The Mister is on board, I think, with considering attempting a pregnancy a year from now.  I'll be 35, officially "advanced maternal age."  Not sure how I feel about that...

Anyway.  The end of summer is clipping right along and this long season of intense training has an end in sight.  (I'm going to wait and see how I feel after before saying if I'll attempt a marathon again, heh.)  I love it that we have such beautiful late summer here.  The weather is pitch perfect and you can see folks visably trying to soak it up, because in a month and a half there will be snow.  Probably.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Pass the Pickles

Right now, I feel consumed by my training.  It's not all together a bad thing.  Its a special kind of awesome to devote yourself to an endurance goal and work, work, work to meet it.  I feel focused, centered.  motivated....tired.

It occurred to me last night, however, that I've felt like this before but for a very different reason.   I now present:

2 lists

List the first:  Ways in which marathon training is uncannily like the 2nd trimester of pregnancy:

1.  I am hungry ALL. THE. TIME.  I will eat anything and everything put in front of me...

2.  ...except for things I won't.   Such as cilantro (GROSS), and cheesecake (GAG) and super heavy, fatty things the night before a run.

3.  I can't drink (much).  While I technically can drink more than I would allow myself in pregnancy, any more than one or 2 beers WILL be felt in the next morning's run.  And not in a good way.

4.  I am tired ALL. THE. TIME.  I can and will sleep anytime, anywhere.  If only I got more opportunities.  Stupid work.

5.  I mostly feel really mentally energetic and motivated and don't really have the time or brainspace to devote to feeling sorry for myself, except for...

5.  ...the mood swings.  Exhaustion/hunger/burned-out-ed-ness manifests itself in some crankypants.  Occasionally.

6.  People who have done something similar or know someone who has tend to react to my "condition" with advice or horror stories about their brother's wife's cousin's daughter who had some totally fucked up thing happen.  People who have never been there just give me strange looks that imply that I'm probably not right in the head.

List the second:  Ways in which marathon training is definitely different from 2nd trimester pregnancy:

1.  I am losing weight, rather than gaining it. 

2.  I'm not spending crazy amounts of money and time shopping for nursery items/clothes/toys/slings/carseats/etc.  Although I am replacing my running shoes more often.

3.  My "due date" will not involve medical bills.  Hopefully.

4.  My husband does not have that constant look of abject terror in his eyes.  Mostly he just rolls them and tells me to make sure I get enough rest so that he and my son can stand to be in the same house with me.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Birthday Blues

Tomorrow, I turn 34.  I tend to get cranky and weird around my birthday. Which is strange, I know, but I very rarely have great birthdays. At best they are OK, at worst, they are really bad (like having to put my dog to sleep. On my birthday. Oy.)

This year, however, has promise.  I'm in the best shape of my life and feeling really good.  My kid is amazing.  My husband is kind and sweet and cute as hell.  And despite the occasional setback, we're all healthy and enjoying life.

We're planning a picnic dinner in the park with fancy sandwiches, fizzy drinks and strawberry pie.

Here's to another year. 

(I didn't hit all my 34 before 34's but I made a fair dent in them.)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Yep, I'm Terrified. With a capital T.

Ho-lee-shit.  The coverage of the Iowa straw poll makes me want to gouge my own eyes out with a spoon.  All the candidates literally scare the ever loving shit out of me.

Exhibit A:  This woman.
Picture from here
There are no words.

Exhibit B:  And this man.

Photo credit here
Abject terror.  *Shudder*

Thank the universe, we have Rachel Maddow to remind us that the straw poll is a total racket.

I loves her.

And now, before my head explodes, I'm going to brew some green tea, hug my knees to myself and watch a Woody Allen movie, repeating the mantra "its going to be ok.  It's going to be ok."

Isn't it?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Oh, its ON

This post coming to you from smack dab in the middle of marathon training.  And...ZOMG.  Consider my ass thoroughly kicked.   I can't seem to get enough food/sleep/hugs, my knees are starting to complain and its getting harder and harder to push through some of the longer runs.  This is supposed be fun...right?

It occurred to me recently, that if I'm feeling this burnt out this early, the training plan I chose may well be a bit ambitious.  This week, I made the decision to scale back to the Novice 1 plan which is a bit gentler.  We'll see if that helps the motivation and squeaky knees.

(I also gave myself an extra rest day last week.  Shhhh.)

Race-wise, I've got a half marathon coming up in 2 weeks (through a wild horse refuge!!) and an 8-mile trail race the week after that and then that's it until October 9th's marathon.


I'm trying to remind myself that I'm doing this for ME- not to beat any time records or anything.  And that I run because I love it.

But, truth be told, right now I'm looking forward to October 10th.  :)  At which point I'll probably look a lot like these folks:

Monday, August 8, 2011


1.  If I had one of those "I'd rather be..." bumper stickers on my ass today, it would say "I'd rather be thrift shopping."  I'm starting to compile my fall wishlist and on it so far:

-Minnetonka Moccasins:
(Delightfully Tacky totally inspires me...)

-Some pinstripe pants and a cute cardigan a'la Maggie Gyllenhal in Stranger than Fiction:

Image from

-An infinity or circle scarf...I love this masculine print:

Remixed by Jacki's whole shop is totally dope.

Good thing my birthday is coming up!

2.  I think one of the reasons I've got fall on the brain is that I work at a university and the students move back in a week.  A week!!  At that point, the population of our town will swell, there will be more traffic, lines at restaurants (the good ones, anyway) and the whole feel of the place will just...change.  Going to enjoy this last week of true summer!

3.  I should really own some Belle and Sebastian.  There is no excuse.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Weekend Update

Last weekend, we took advantage of a friend's timeshare and went with 4 others to Solvista Resort for a whirlwind couple of days.  It was amazingly fun EXCEPT for my Sunday morning 8 miler taken after a night of beer, lasagne, more beer, and very little sleep.   Beer/heavy food/tiredness + high altitude distance running = PAIN.  Lesson learned.  The hard way.

Other than that, we checked out a free music festival, went swimming, took advantage of the hot tub in the condo, hung out on the deck and enjoyed each other's company.  

Some besties and I checked out a  hippie music festival in Winter Park-beer! sun! hairy armpits!

The only black mark on the trip was a dead body on the side of the road between Winter Park and Granby- There was a cop car with blinking lights, a motorcycle on its side and a body with a sheet over it.  Couldn't help but think about all the lives that were just drastically altered in a split second...  Scary.  And we were seeing motorcycles zip up and down that stretch all weekend, weaving in and out of the traffic at high speeds...Those things scare me anyway, even without a such a somber reminder.  Wear helmets, folks.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Ask a policeman if you can tase someone!

Having been a devoted reader for years at this point, I can safely say that I love this woman.

Here's to being furiously happy.  And the zombie apocalypse.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My Favorite Things: Summer

The things that stop my heart, bring tears to my eyes, a smile to my face or just feel damn good right now:

1.  Ice cream.  So good after a long walk/run/car ride/sleep...YES, PLEASE.

Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone has the BEST ice cream.

2.  Finishing my 2nd half marathon.  Even though I was sick with sinus/ear problems, I busted out a 2:02:30 in my hometown's July 4th race.  It was a breathtakingly beautiful morning and the course took us over rolling hills through farmland and valleys with amazing mountain views.  Love.

Main Street, Lander, WY
3.  My better half.  He is my favorite person ever.

Sunset at the Madison river junction in Yellowstone

4.  Watching my son enjoy the same things I did when I was little. Like throwing rocks in a river with cousins and yelling so loud your own voice echoes off the mountains.


5.  Adding to my summertimelove soundtrack.  How is it that I JUST discovered the Wailin' Jennys?????  Beauty.

What's making your summer?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Playing hard.

My Monday morning Facebook posts have had a similar theme so far this summer...something along the lines of "I need a weekend to recover from my weekend."  This weekend was no different and while it was fun as all get out, I'm now gritty eyed and pretty sure I still smell faintly of charcoal smoke and bug spray.

On Saturday, I did something completely reckless in that I attempted an 11-mile trail run up at Happy Jack BY MYSELF.  Every other time I've done a long run up there, its been with a girlfriend and those who know me know that I don't have the best sense of direction and find it nearly impossible to keep the image of a map in my head.  (What is this?  Lack of spatial memory?)  But the night before my run, the Husband and I sat down with a printed out map of the trails and a magic marker and carefully mapped out a route.

I was slower than I would have been on the road, having to stop at junctions and make sure I was turning 20 yards PAST the huge rock that looks like a foot etc. but I totally rocked that shit and made it back to the parking lot just in time to meet the Husband to do kiddo-swap so he could get his mountain biking miles in.

Otto brought his biking stuff and for my cool down I walked beside him as he mountain biked on his Strider on a short trail.  He did a muddy water crossing all by himself!  It was a day of firsts.

Here I am, post run, so very proud of myself for not getting lost:

Basking in my own glory: I'll check for ticks later. 


 That night, after we'd showered and packed our car completely full of gear to spend JUST ONE NIGHT ON THE GROUND (!?) we headed back up for some good old fashioned car camping.

All the campgrounds were full though, so we ended up kicking it old school in the middle of nowhere.  (Read:  no toilets.)  It was fun, even if the spot we found was full of broken glass and shotgun shells.   Oh, and I found half a dead elk when I was peeing behind a rock.  This IS Wyoming.

It'll do.
Waiting on dinner.  Which took forever.

Nice butte.

Gorgeous views.

The Kiddo and the dog slept awesome and the Husband and I laid awake trying not to breathe too loud or move too much and dreaming of the day we can afford one of these to eliminate the need for a tent.

The next day, we rocked out some bacon, eggs, bagels and cowboy coffee on the ol' Coleman stove before heading back into town.

All in all, it was an amazing weekend and pretty typical of summer weekends for us.  But holy shit, I'm tired.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Self Talk

 I do a lot of this kind of self talk and visualization lately.  Whether I'm in a shitty-ass work meeting, parenting my sweet, yet independent minded, three year old, navigating life decisions with my husband or running...I'm having to coach myself along.  "You can do this."  "This will all work out."  "DON'T SCREW THIS UP." 

It's exhausting. 

Lately, I'm also trying some preemptive visualization/meditation:   I spend a couple minutes before the meeting, seeing myself in my mind making thoughtful, intelligent contributions...Envision a night of peaceful cooperation and fun with my kid before I pick him up from daycare...see in my head my Husband and myself making good financial decisions (we just cancelled our cable- FINALLY)...visualize myself busting out a 40 minute 5 miler...This kind of visualization does seem to increase the likelihood of success.  If nothing else, it provides a few moments of calm purpose to my otherwise chaotic day.

Now, if I could just visualize myself blogging more, that might actually happen too.

**This quote was emailed to me via Taro Gold's Daily Wisdom.  The picture is trusty ol' clip art.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Ah been fixin' to...

As they would say in Texas, where I just spent the last five (hot, humid) days, I've been fixin' to update this here blog but ...sidetracked?  Let's just say that some semblance of Summer has FINALLY crept into our lives and suddenly there is so. much. to. do.

-At work, I got a new office.  Yay!  It's the first one I've ever had all to myself and I'm really enjoying the privacy.   (And the rockin' view of the parking lot.)  I don't have much up on the walls but I'm kind of enjoying the non-cluttered feel of it. 

I need some bobble-heads a'la The Office, no?
-Over Memorial Day weekend,  the Husband and I got a much needed weekend away thanks to his kind parents who stayed with the Kiddo.  We ran, biked, ate sushi and mexican (not at the same time) and drank WAY TOO MUCH tequila.  We got a nice hotel and just really enjoyed eachother's company if you know what I mean wink wink.  It was the first time we'd both been away from Otto overnight but everything went without a hitch.  It's all to easy to become disconnected from each other during the day-to-day grind and we needed some time to remember WHY we're in this crazy boat together.  Yes?

-And as I mentioned, Otto and I just got back from Cemetery Day in Texas.  The flight out was infinitely better than 2 years ago which was the last time we went.  There was food, visiting, lizards in coffee cans (see below), cousins in kiddie pools and general merriment.  It was HOT, though.  I busted out a 10K race on Saturday morning and it was 82 degrees when the gun went off at 7am.  Ouch.  (Got 3rd in my age group though- 52:35!!  Another medal for the rack!)

It's a REAL LIZARD, Mom!

And now, we're back, facing mounds of laundry and full in-boxes.  Fortunately, we've got another week off scheduled for around July 4th.  Summer, I love you!!

Friday, May 13, 2011

...and part of every day.

Stuff that's happening right now:

1.  I'm getting ready to have my very own office for the first time ever at work.  I've always been in a cubicle but we're remodeling/expanding and I'm getting a room with a window...and a door!!  I'm gonna need some pictures of something for the wall!  Who's got fun office decor ideas?? 

2.  Ruby's hair is slowly coming back from her yearly shaving.  I forget how incredibly skinny she is with no hair.  She's still my faithful running buddy and we're liking the increasing number of nice days.

3.  Speaking of, we've had some nice-ish days, but lots of snow lately which makes me old before my time.  I know its the same story every year but oy veh.  It wears on me.  Today, however, looks pretty so...yay!  I think the weekend is supposed to stay above 60 and sunny so maybe we can get outside.

4.  My son's favorite band is KISS.  I'm not sure how it happened but we're all enjoying it.  Rock and roll all night!

Monday, May 9, 2011


We have the same hair, the same eyes. 
 We cry at the end of disney movies. 
Blue is our favorite color. 
We both have weaknesses for anything chocolate, thrift stores and cute animals.
We run.
We play piano.
We'd rather get some dirt and seed than a bouquet of already grown flowers.
We love hummingbirds.
We love our children.

We are both mothers.  And damn awesome ones, at that.

Happy Mother's Day, Mama.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Awfully Awesome

So this is a TERRIBLE picture but its also the ONLY picture from my first half.  And so I am ridiculously and inexplicably proud of it.

This was at the finish and I was giving it my all...but somehow in the photo I look like a speedwalker.  Heh.

My friend and I did our first track workout this morning.  I ran to her house and then we ran together to the high school track.  First time I've been on a track since high school and BOY HOWDY did it bring back painful memories.  We eeked out 6 x 400's and holy OUCH.  My legs were hamburger at the end and I still had to run 1.75 miles back home. 

I think we'll plan on doing these every week to every other week over the summer and hopefully it will translate into a speedier race time!  I'd really like to break 2 hours in my July 4 half.

Right now, I'm day dreaming about trail running on Saturday...if the stupid snow would just QUIT already.  Fuck.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


I'm hitting the road tomorrow for work.  A 7 hour drive, a 1 hour meeting and then 7 hours back.  Best use of resources?  Probably not.  But I do know that the folks I'm going to see really appreciate someone making the effort to come out.  And as long as I don't run into snow (knock on wood), it should be a gorgeous drive.

I'm prepared with a couple books on CD from the ol' public library, water, gum, snacks, and breakfast plans with a friend along the way.  And while I'll miss my boys for the 2 days I'm gone, I've gotta say that the open road and time with my own brain sounds pretty attractive. 

The only thing that's really annoying me is that I need to leave at like 7:30am tomorrow morning.  And somehow I need to fit in a 3-mile run AND a strength workout.  So I guess I'll be up at the butt crack of dawn, sweatin' it out before I hit the road!

Monday, April 18, 2011


I did it!  My first half-marathon went down yesterday and I not only survived it, but beat my (very conservative) goal time by 27 minutes.  Ha ha!

Training for this race went wonderfully and aside from a nasty cold about 3 weeks before that waylaid me for a couple days, I was injury free and just enjoying the ride.

I was so lucky to have a great training partner towards the end...a good girlfriend who's completed marathons (and even an Ironman!) ran my last 3 long runs with me leading up to the race.  It was so helpful to be able to pick the brain of an experienced distance runner.  She was supportive and encouraging, convincing me that I have what it takes to run a half and even a full marathon.

Yesterday, race day, I woke up with butterflies but managed to choke down a Clif bar and a banana- a breakfast that's been proven (for me) to stay down and not cause any 'gut-bomb' feelings.  Oh, and coffee, of course.  My friend and I rode down together (the Husband and Kiddo were planning to leave later and meet us at the finish line).  It was good to have company and conversation to distract from the nervous energy I was feeling.

After sunscreening up, deciding on how much/how little clothing to start out with (it was in the 50's but sunny so I opted for a tank and shorts, leaving my arm warmers in the car at the last minute) and peeing (yay for lots of porta potties!!) we were ready to go.

There were a shit ton of people at the start...I read later that nearly 1500 people finished the race.  By far the biggest race I've done!  My buddy moved ahead in the pack, knowing that she wanted a faster start.  I hung back, knowing that the first 2 miles of the race were straight uphill, my strategy was to go easy and then pick it up later when the course flattened out again.

And suddenly, we were off!  People clapped and cheered and photographers took pictures and we all started the (torturous) climb up the first "bitch" (I learned over the course of the race that the 4 hills are commonly referred to as the 4 bitches.  Heh.)

The breakdown:

Miles 1-2: My plan to start easy and make my way up the first and biggest of the hills really paid off- after the first two hills, I was feeling strong and seeing many folks who had bolted ahead of me starting to flag and we weren't even at mile 3! 

Miles 3-4:  Uh oh- even though we peed 20 minutes before the start, I kinda need to again.  I spend the next 20 minutes or so thinking "Should I stop?  Should I hold it? "

Mile 5:  The 2nd aid station and a porta potty with no line- I make a split second decision to stop.  Best 30 second investment I could have made!  I can now run comfortably and think about something other than my bladder.

Miles 5-8:  We roll along over a couple more hills, along a reservoir, and through green farmland (complete with manure smells).  At one point we pass a pen with Shetland ponies and I nearly cry out "Look, its Little Sebastian!"  But quickly check myself realizing that 1) no one will probably know what the hell I'm talking about and 2) people with think I'm "off" either way. 

Mile 8.5: The course at this point leaves the road and goes onto a bike path- I power chew a GU Chomp at this point and gulp down some water.

Mile 9-11:  These are the hardest miles for me.  The bike path leads through an open, exposed field with a quarry or construction site of some sort on one side.  The scenery is boring and the cement path is starting to feel hard on my joints.  I manage to keep my pace but am constantly looking ahead for some hint of trees or something more interesting.

Mile 11.5: Another chew and some more water.  We're in the home stretch now!  I concentrate on keeping my pace up and maintaining my form even though I'm getting tired.

Mile 13.1:  Somehow, I charge the finish line, digging deep and ending strong.  I look for the husband and Otto but after waiting a while, they pick that exact moment to be crouched down putting on sunscreen :(  They didn't see my triumphant finish or get to snap my picture (sad!) but are proud of me just the same.  I collect my finisher medal, my free beer glass and water.  My friend (who finished 8 minutes before me) and I listen to live music as we sit in the grass and rehash the course.  Otto asks, "Did you win, Mama?" 

After the race, we forgo the heavy BBQ post-race lunch (just the smell turns my stomach) and opt to leave and go for light, fresh Mexican instead. 

Today, my legs are tired and a little sore but I'm still riding the high of finishing my first half.  So proud of myself and already looking forward to the next one!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Chucky Jesus

On weekend mornings, its become habit for us to allow the kiddo to watch an hour or so of PBS.  Mostly so that we can sleep in.  An hour of Sesame Street or Mr. Rogers is less harmful than a cranky, under-rested parent for an entire Saturday.  Or so we tell ourselves.

Anyway, even though PBS doesn't air commercials, all the shows have sponsors that have announcements and Otto pays as much attention to these as he does the actual shows.  Consequently, for weeks and weeks now, he has been singing the praises of Chucky Cheese's - When pressed to explain what, exactly, Chucky Cheese's is, all we got was "Its where a kid can be a kid, Mom!!"  So otherwise, he had no idea WTF the place is.  All he knew was that its COOL.  This was simultaneously adorable and completely annoying. 

On Saturday, due to some kid swapping as a result of run/biking schedules, after a 10 mile trail run, I ended up alone with Otto in the big city for a bit.  We went thrift shopping and then I nonchalantly suggested we get some lunch.  Against every instinct in my body, I made a decision based solely on the desire to gobsmack my child- and it worked.  As we pulled into the parking lot and he saw that huge weird cartoon mouse staring down from the sign, the sheer joy and surprise on his face was priceless and totally worth the 2 hours of beeping and booping and robotronic animal singing and screaming children I was about to live through.

"HOLY GUACAMOLE!!!!" he said from the back seat. 

What followed can only be described as an orgy of shitty pizza (he ate 3 slices and honestly, after my run I was so hungry, it even tasted good to me), video games, and excited exclamations of 3 year old ecstasy.  The place was way cleaner and better run than I had expected and honestly, although we won't be going back any time soon, it was super fun just to watch my kid be that. fucking. happy.

At the altar of cheesy, noisy, crazy 3 year old joy

That said, its gonna be a loooooong time before we go back.  One can only handle so many surprise cheesy, noisy pilgrimages in a lifetime.  Heh.