Saturday, September 30, 2006

At Least Someone is Sewing

Since I'm not getting much sewing done, the task has fallen to the next generation:

My daughter made this pillow for her friend's birthday. Erin's hair may be messy because we tested out the pillow-fighting capabilities of this pillow. Or it may not be. I'm not saying.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Race story #2: I know my Momma loves me.

How do I know?

'Cuz she was a wonderful support as I was completely anxiety-ridden about running my 5K.

'Cuz she called to check on me and told me I did a great job.

'Cuz she printed out this picture:


And to everyone who told me how great I look now that I've lost some weight -- YOU LIE!!! Do you think there's any ink left in Dad's printer after he printed the photo of my gi-normous butt?

The good news is that there may be another photo of me running (front view, please, Lord!). If I get a copy, the butt picture is SO GONE!!!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Race Story #1, or... Pass the Chips, please!

Most of you know that I got this idea in my head that I should run a 5K. It's not like I was a runner but stopped and am trying to get back to it -- I've never done this before. I've never even BEEN to a race before.

I found the registration form online, printed it out, and mailed it in. The form said I could pick up my race packet the day before the race at the Holiday Inn, so I did. I went there early and they gave me a goody bag with my number (32) and a T-shirt and a bunch of advertisements and stuff and said I was good to go.

The morning of the race, my daughter and I watched the kids' race (cute!). We saw the marathon people warm up. I pointed out the microchips on all their shoes and explained to her how they worked -- they clock you as you pass the starting line, the mid-point, and the finish line for an accurate time and so you cannot cheat. Once the marathon started, they called for the 5K to line up.

I left my daughter and walked to the back of the pack, knowing where I fell in the pecking order. While waiting, I noticed some of the people had microchips on their shoes. 'Cool', I thought, 'These people are hardcore.' Then I noticed that EVERYONE had microchips on their shoes. CRAP! Panic set in. I asked some nice ladies in the back of the pack with me about them. Apparently, I wasn't good to go yesterday morning. Apparently, I was supposed to check in that morning and pick up my chip so I could be timed.

'Great', I thought. 'There's no time to get a chip now. I'd miss the start of the race. I worked all summer for this race and now it isn't going to count. I won't even know how fast I ran'. I underwent a quick attitude adjustment and reminded myself that I was only running for personal satisfaction and that I wasn't really competing and decided to run anyway.

The buzzer sounded, we started running, and the 3.1 miles were..... well, .... 3.1 miles long. Emphasis on the long. There may be a story in there somewhere, but that would be another post. As I rounded the corner toward the finish line, I started looking for a time clock, just to give me an idea of how long I took. My goal was to run under 46.5 minutes (that's a 15 min/mile pace). I saw my daughter as the finish line, then I saw the clock. It said 38 mins +. I mouthed to my daughter, 'I beat 40!' and broke the finish line (beating 40 minutes was my 'I can die happy' goal).

Immediately, a jerk man came up to me with a pair of pliers saying, 'I need your chip'.

My attitude un-adjusted at that point. 'I didn't get a chip,' and kept walking.

'What do you mean you didn't get a chip?' a second idiot man asked.

'It wasn't in my packet when I picked it up yesterday,' still walking.

A witch lady said, 'We didn't have them yesterday. You were supposed to pick it up this morning.'

I kept walking and a lady sweetheart asked for my chip again as I was leaving the roped-off area. I started explaining, 'I never got one. I didn't know.'

She looked horrified, like it was the saddest thing she ever heard. I felt so bad for her. I put my hand on her shoulder to comfort her and said, 'It's OK. My goal was to finish and I did.' She replied, 'Yes, you did, and you did great!'

I got out of there and found my daughter. I was bummed that I wouldn't be ranked and my time wouldn't be in the paper, but my daughter took a photo of me and the time clock. I was a few feet from the finish line and the clock said 38:50. We figured 3 seconds to get to the finish line.

Today was I reading the newspaper articles online. I wanted to see where I would be in the results if I had been timed. 351 people ran, and the time I chose put me between 336 and 337 (hey -- I wasn't last!). Then I noticed my name at 340. I have a common name, but they also listed my age and the town I live in. How did that happen?

My best guess is that the sweetheart lady took down my number and noted the time. She made sure I got a result published. How nice of her! I have some not-so-nice thoughts about some people working at the race, but my sweetheart made up for it. I wish I had an accurate time, but this will definitely do.

Now, there's this 5-mile bridge race on October 8. The paper doesn't say anything about a chip.....

An identity crisis

I often describe where I live as "in the middle of nowhere", "on a mountain in the woods", and "far away from civilization". That is all true. I've posted many pictures here and they are actual unretouched photos. What is also true is that I am 3-4 miles from 2 major highways in New York. I'm also less than 10 minutes from stores, restaurants, hotels, etc.

I like to think I have the best of both worlds -- living not too far from things but having a really pretty drive to get there. There's no noise or light pollution. It's peaceful. But also near stuff, y'know?

There is a popular farm about 2 miles from my house. A lot of New York City folk drive up during leaf-peeping season and pick pumpkins, apples, etc. They also drive about 2 miles an hour, just looking around and blocking the roads. Driving home from church on Sundays in the fall is a severe test of patience and Christian goodwill. They are in 'the country', but to us it's just home. They wear jeans and flannel shirts and hiking boots and walk on my (paved!) street like it's some huge adventure. I often joke that they take our pictures like we're Amish. It hasn't happened to me personally yet, but I'm waiting for it.

Today, I was driving home from picking up a paper (for race results -- more in another post, I promise). About 1/2 mile from my house, I passed a horse and buggy on the road. I KID YOU NOT!

Are we Amish after all?

I'm so confused.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

If you've always wondered what my rear end looked like...

...then this is the post for you:

And for those who can't enlarge the photo (or are afraid to), the time clock says


There are stories to be told, but now it's naptime.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

You can't make this stuff up

Yesterday, I went on a challenging hike. That was probably obvious from my previous post. What I wish I could have made up happened after the hike.

My family and I were driving to WalMart. During the car ride, I mentioned, "I'm not going to hike again until after my 5K. I don't want to fall and hurt myself so I'll be unable to run. I've trained too hard to miss the race because of injury. After all, a hike is just one long trip hazard."

As I'm just walking in the parking lot just about to step up on the curb, I twist my ankle in a pothole and do a face plant. OK, so not a face plant, but I did land oh-so-gracefully on the ground. After the first "I was just standing just a second ago" thought, I got up and dusted myself off and tried to become invisible. (Note: WalMart + 1pm + Saturday = not invisible at all!) Three or four people came to see if I was OK, and one told me to fill out an accident report (so I could sue them? That's a whole other post, I'm sure).

Yesterday my left ankle, right knee, left hip and back were sore. It's 18 hours later and whatever damage I did during the fall should be apparent by now. This morning, just my bruised knee and the soreness that comes from running (5K in 45 minutes flat today!).

I need to go grocery shopping tomorrow, but maybe I'll go hiking instead. It's probably safer.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

A Personal Letter (it's ok, you can read it anyway)

Dear P.F.,

About that hike you have planned for later on this month: I checked out the trail this morning. Since I'm writing this, you'll know I didn't die a horrible death.

First off, the parking situation is interesting. The dirt road is marked "Private" and there's absolutely no room to park on it. You'll have to park on the paved road. Caution: it's narrow and some of the residents have 'no parking' signs. I'd suggest carpooling.

The hike goes down the private dirt road to a locked gate.

The yellow trail marker is on the gate, so I went around it anyway.

Continue on the dirt road for 50 feet or so. The trail begins on the left.

My oh-so-excellent photography skills didn't capture the yellow trail markers, but the trail begins to the right of the crooked tree.

In case you miss it, there's this incredibly obvious trail sign.

Actual size: 2x5 inches. And it's faded, too.

Following the trail for a bit, you'll come to this gorgeous mucky pond/lake/water thingie.

Right after the pond, I found this really cool mushroom.

It was about 6 inches tall and translucent. How cool!

Can you see the trail?

That's because the trail is obliterated by a mess of fallen trees. I was able to climb over/under as necessary and the trail clears out again after about 20 feet of serious brush.

I saw other things that I wasn't able to capture with my camera: some deer, a gazillion frogs (toads?), a woodpecker, my life flashing before my eyes (there was this tree root I tripped over at the edge of a really steep hill....).

I only had 2 hours available this morning. After the first hour, I wasn't quite at the top but had to turn around due to time constraints.

I hope some of this information is helpful to you and those who join you on your hike. I, however, will not be one of them. This hike was insane impossible invigorating and I'll probably take a 'kinder, gentler' hike instead.

Best of luck,


Tuesday, September 05, 2006

File this under 'easily amused'

So, tonight I'm driving home and I see something on the road in front of my mailbox. As I get closer it spreads it's huge wings and flies into a tree. Hawk? Turkey vulture? But it's nighttime. Bat? No, definitely a bird.

I pulled the car around so the headlights hit the tree. I looked up and saw this:

This is not a picture of the actual owl. It is, however, a picture of a different Barred Owl. Goofy looking thing, huh? The field guide said it was 19-21 inches long, and I definitely agree. It was HUGE!

I sat and stared at it for a while. I giggled because it was just so darn cool to actually see an owl in my yard! They may be there all the time, but to actually get to sit and watch it? Wow! The owl stared back, occasionally trying to unscrew it's head. I felt through my purse for my camera. No luck. As if my wonderful camera and excellent photography skills would have produced a photo of anything other than a dark blob in the dark night. I gently drove under Woodsy Owl (anyone remember him? -- Give a Hoot, Don't Pollute!) and parked at the top of my driveway. My son and I went out to see if the owl was still there. Being that I live in the dark woods and didn't bring a flashlight with me, he probably was but we couldn't see him with only the neighbor's reverse lights from across the street.

Who is it that I'm becoming, anyway? I used to be all, "I don't do outside." I was almost OK when I was just running and hiking. But birdwatching? What's next -- gardening? Heaven forbid! When I say, "Look at this beautiful tomato I just picked from my garden," schedule an intervention. When I actually eat the tomato, dial 911.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Laboring on Labor Day

Last night we returned from my husband's family reunion in Pennsylvania. There are no pictures ... I'm saving them to extort money from the people involved. Trust me when I say that a fun time was had by many. It was great introducing our kids to the family. The kids are 15 and 19 so saying it's been a while since we've seen these people is quite the understatement.

I did my long run this morning. 4.2 miles. I didn't time it, but it felt good. Only 13 days until my 5K. I haven't posted that I'm running for a cause. My childhood friend, Bethann, became suddenly ill in March. I'm copying text from the sponsorship package:

On March 9, 2006, Bethann was tragically stricken with Transverse Myletis, a neurologic syndrome caused by inflammation of the spinal cord. Transverse Myletis is uncommon but not rare. Her symptoms developed rapidly over several hours, leaving her paralyzed from her neck down. After several weeks in ICU, she slowly regained her ability to breathe on her own. To continue her recovery, she was moved to Healthsouth in Harmarville [PA]. Through time, dedicated therapists, sheer will and God's grace, she has also regained some feeling in her arms as well as limited mobility. "Crash" is able to operate a motorized wheelchair through the use of a specialized joystick. In August, Bethann finally returned home where she continues her recovery. Though progress is slow, her doctors remain hopeful.

There's a fundraising walk in Pittsburgh on September 23 to help purchase a van equipped with a wheelchair lift. I am unable to travel to Pittsburgh that day, but I will run on September 17 to help raise funds for Bethann.

This is my first 5K and I run very slowly. I hope to finish between 40 and 60 minutes, but I won't really know what to expect until I actually run the race. I'm asking that those interested sponsor me for every minute I finish under an hour. Straight donations are also appreciated. If you know me and know how to get in touch with me, I will have the sponsorship sheet with me at all times between now and September 17.

Buckle up, we're changing subjects quickly here.

This afternoon I hiked the Appalachian Trail. No, not the whole thing. I entered near my house and hiked to this view:

Then I continued hiking down to Canopus Lake:

Then I hiked back home.

Total time: 2 hours 15 minutes

Temperature today: high of 73, but it is a very cool day

Number of (idiots) people seen swimming in Canopus Lake: 5, but they were all kids.
Their parents were wearing sweats and sitting close together for warmth.

Number of deer seen from the Appalachian Trail: 0

Number of deer seen standing next to my car when I got back to the road: 3

Number of bars on my cell phone at my house: 1

Number of bars on my cell phone on the AT: 5 (what's with that?)
I had to call hubby and let him know that all was well but that I was running late

Number of minutes it took me to cook dinner when I returned: 0
dh had dinner ready when I got home!

Well, that was my labor on Labor Day. I hope everyone had a wonderful day as well.