Thursday, February 25, 2010

Anna Pigeon is 49!

I like to read mysteries and thrillers. One of my favorite authors for light reading is Nevada Barr. The plot lines are adequately interesting and suspenseful, the characters are well developed, the dialogue is realistic and I love the fact that many stories involve national parks.

But my favorite thing about this author is her main character, Anna Pigeon, is my age!

Anna is tough, smart, strong, resourceful, brave and aging -- just like me! (Really, I'm tough -- I think.) She still can do the things she has done in all of her books: repelling, hiking long distances, rock climbing, white water rafting, and anything else a park ranger does. But in her most recent book, Anna complains about aches and pains, gray hair and the wrinkles on her face.

I'm liking Nevada Barr and Anna Pigeon more and more as the story of Borderline unfolds.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Nice Compliment Today

I haven't written in a while because I've been a little busier than usual, but I absolutely had to share this.

Today I was talking with a co-worker about different races I plan to travel to this year. I mentioned that I'm thinking about doing a full marathon to celebrate my 50th birthday. She was shocked. "You're turning 50?" she said in disbelief. "I can't believe you're going to be 50!" (The exclamation points were my interpretation.)

I don't normally tell people I'm turning 50. It even feels weird coming out of my mouth. And I'm never sure how to react to people's comments. Nothing feels natural right now.

But I have got to say, every time someone says I look younger than what they think 50 looks like, it makes it that much easier. If this keeps up, by the time December rolls around I'll be just fine!

Friday, February 19, 2010

American Idol Ramblings

Though not a big fan of the show, I do watch American Idol. (It's my family's fault, but that is a different story.) There are many very talented people who appear on the show, but I have very conflicted feelings about it.

I really hate the first auditions. This part of the show is just plain cruel. How on earth can a screener pick someone to see the judges knowing they are just plain horrible and the judges are going to publicly humiliate them? I know it is down for ratings, but is it necessary to pick the best and worst just to make fun of people? I do really wonder how the whole process works. How many screeners are there?

Once the group that goes to Hollywood is chosen, the show gets better. What I like about this part of the show is you hear each singer's genuine voice and they pick songs based on who THEY think they are. There is such variety, especially in voice tone. This year there are some women with really great gravelly 60s folk rock singer voices!

When the final 24 are chosen, and as the show progresses, a lot of that individuality is removed. Week by week as people are voted off, the finalists all start to sound the same. The ones that started out sounding different and cool either change to be like everyone else, or they end up leaving the show. The judges throw weird musical styles at these people taking them out of their comfort zones (which is not all bad) and then are amazed that no one can sing a Sinatra song like Sinatra and make it sound like a current hit at the same time.

There are exceptions -- Chris Daughtry and Adam Lambert kept their personalities -- but they didn't win.

So, I watched the beginning of this season enjoying the variety of really good musicians who made it to the top 24, and at the same time, I'm sad. What are they going to do to the two blond women (one with dreadlocks) who are amazing just as they are? What will happen to the goofy rock guy who reminds me of Jeff Conaway playing Kenickie?

I know, I know -- it is just a silly TV show that I don't even enjoy that much. I'm not even invested enough to know the singers' names! And is it any different from what most famous people have had to go through to make it in "Hollywood"?

I just hate seeing talented people, many more talented than stars who have very lucrative singing careers right now, turned into middle of the road pop singers. (Milquetoast is the word that comes to mind.) But then again, it is American Idol and the entire point is to find the next "pop star".

Note about me: I cannot stand the vast majority of current music. Having grown up in the 70s, I just like rock music -- real instruments, real voices, good melody, no techno crap. I am not the demographic that American Idol is trying to reach. There are times when I am convinced there are a million 80-year-old grandmas doing the voting.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I Need a Snow Day!

On day's like this I wish I was still in school and could have a snow day. Unfortunately, I'm an adult with a real job, and they kind of expect me to show up, regardless of the weather.

Maybe next winter...

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Reminder -- It's the Calories!

After today's City Wrestling Meet, I gave a couple kids a ride home. As many people know, wrestlers are obsessed with weight. Though the coaches do not encourage the boys to lose weight, they don't discourage it either, and often the kids resort to unhealthy outdated methods, like avoiding eating for days on end.

One boy needs to lose a few pounds by Wednesday. Unfortunately, I found out after we had already decided to splurge on Chipotle for dinner. (The kids wrestled all day -- they could handle the extra calories.) This young man said not to worry about it, he would run the mile home and burn it all off!

I tried to explain to him that in order to lose weight, you have to burn more calories than you consume. He said that his mom said not to eat carbs.


I understand that high school kids are prone to following fads, but this is ridiculous. I'm continually amazed at the misinformation that continues to be spread.

Though I talked to him a little bit more about calories in and calories out, I could tell his eyes were glazing over, and he was not listening.

The wrestling season is almost over. There really isn't much I can do about it now. But if my son decides to wrestle again next year, I think I'll have a talk with the coaches about providing a nutrition program for the athletes

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Making My Hair Guy Sick

One of my New Year's resolutions was to visit my hair guy every month and avoid the "skunk" look. My hair has grown especially fast this past month and I should have seen him last week instead of waiting until today.

I knew something was wrong when I walked into his shop and I didn't see Dan anywhere. He yelled from the back that he would be out in a minute. Several minutes later he came out looking pale, was light headed and said he almost passed out.

I offered to come back in a couple of days and he said no -- my hair looked bad enough (my words, not his) he really wanted me to get color TODAY. While we talked, he got dizzy and had to sit down. All I kept thinking is, he is going to get half my hair colored and pass out.

Well, he insisted and mixed the color. All the while he applied it to my hair he was breathing hard and occasionally had to hold on to the counter for support. Oh boy!

Luckily, he got all of my hair covered, wrapped my head in a plastic bag held by a big black clip, put a towel around my shoulders and sent me on my way. I was happy I didn't have to stop anywhere on the way home. And fortunately, I did not get any auburn #5 on my car seat.

After an hour, I washed it out and except for needing to be cut it looks great!

Now here is my question: If my hair looks so bad my extremely ill hair guy insists on coloring it before he will go home, have I really kept my resolution? (And no, there are no photos. Though I thought about it, I decided I'm a little too vain for that.)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

10 Snowmen

I counted over 10 snowmen in the neighborhood tonight. One family was even creative enough to have a family of snow people roasting marshmallows over a fire! (My camera died, so I didn't get a very good photo of the family. I'll post them tomorrow!)

The snowmen reminded me of some really fun days the winter we lived in Omaha. I thought I knew what snow was since I lived my first few years in a city near Lake Erie. Can you say lake-effect snow?

Then we moved to Omaha, and learned that lake-effect snow is nothing compared to what happens in a really flat state. After plowing, the snow on the sides of the roads was well over 6 ft for most of that winter.

Maybe the year living in Nebraska is why I sometimes still really enjoy a good hard snow.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Enjoying Snow

For some odd reason, I am really enjoying the snow that has fallen over the last couple of days. The flakes have been big and fluffy. Everything is covered in a layer of white and the entire world is beautiful! (How does so much snow stay on top of such a thin branch?)

I love the way a thick layer of snow muffles all of the extraneous noise. It hasn't been overly cold, so it is nice being out in it. I haven't been able to get in as much walking as I would like, but right now I'm OK with that. I'll just enjoy the beautiful snow as long as it lasts!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Slightly Forgetful

I had planned to make rosemary chicken for dinner tonight. Crushed the garlic, got out the olive oil and lemon juice reached for the rosemary ... The cupboard is nearly empty, how could I forget I threw out the really old rosemary!

We ended up having something else for dinner. I went out for rosemary and we will have it tomorrow. (It needed to marinade anyway.)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Herbs as Life -- Or How Old is Old for an Herb?

Part of my "need for control" spree Saturday included organizing my herbs and spices. I prefer to have all of the spices in alphabetical order, though they don't often stay that way. (I know they don't stay that way because I found four cans of sage and two large containers of creole seasoning!)

After taking all of the bottles and cans out of the cupboard and arranging them on the counter, I noticed that several of the containers looked a little old. I started looking for expiration dates and was amazed at how few of them had expiration dates. What year did expiration dates on food products become the norm?

It was about this time I noticed that some of these spices were pretty inexpensive. How did I get allspice for 45 cents? Then I had to think: What is allspice and why would I have used it? I do remember when I bought that jar of cardamom -- back when I worked at a library 12 years ago and baked cardamom cookies for a medieval festival!

I was beginning to think that some of these containers might even be antiques. (The dry mustard was from my mother-in-law's house. She died 22 years ago!) I know the package designs have changed several times since some of the stuff was purchased.

So, using expiration date, price or assumed age of package design as criteria, I threw out anything that appeared old.

All that is left: red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, oregano, peppercorns, sea salt, basil, cumin and bay leaves. The cupboard is nearly empty and it feels pretty good!

Based on this one cupboard that I access almost every day, it made me realize that I can get pretty complacent. I am so used to having things around, I don't think about whether they are still useful or need to be replaced or pitched. What other areas of my house or my life can use this type of scrutiny and review? What else can I pitch or organize?

I know they were only jars of old mustard and allspice but it feels like so much more!

BTW: This was actually the first cupboard I attacked this weekend. I got SO frustrated with the shelf paper, I threw out the pieces I cut because I could NOT get them to fit the cupboard. And I did end up thinning the coffee cup supply. They will end up going to Goodwill.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Why do I Need Shelf Paper?

Did you ever feel like things are out of control? When that happens to me, I need to take something small and clean the living daylights out of it!

Sometimes it's a closet, sometimes dresser drawers, refrigerator, bathroom cupboards or a section of basement. It doesn't matter what I organize, it's the taking control that is key. (It can't be too big, like the entire garage -- just something small.)

Columbus was snowed in today and I felt the need for control. So I decided to go through our coffee mugs and get rid of the ones we don't use or that are just plain ugly. That spread to going through drinking glasses and the rest of the everyday dish cabinet. Before I knew it, I had both cabinets totally empty and I was replacing the shelf paper!

Which led me to my complaint. First, who decided that we need shelf paper, and who was the idiot who decided that it needed just enough adhesive to stick to itself, but not to stick to the shelf?

It also turns out that my cupboards and shelves are not the standard size. I finally got smart. Instead of trying to cut each section for both length and width (I could not find an Exacto knife), I cut 2 inches off the end of the entire roll with a carpet knife. I also got tape out to hold down the corners. Getting the shelf paper straight and without wrinkles doubled the amount of time I had planned to spend on this project!

So two cupboards are clean and I have gained some control. And it has finally stopped snowing. But I still have to wonder -- who was it that invented that horrible shelf paper!

One of my clean cupboards with wrinkled, blue shelf paper. The blue wine glass used to have a match, but I broke it.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

I Hate Being an Adult

Recently I inherited a small amount of money that will make a difference in our lives. I have a million plans for that money that includes a new kitchen, great new wardrobes for everyone, trips all over the world and probably new cars AFTER we invest in our IRAs.

The trips are what I am most excited about! (And a new kitchen. My refrigerator is avocado.) I'd LOVE to hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, spend a few days and then hike back out. I was hoping we could go to Cozumel for our anniversary. We had promised our son a trip to San Diego, we've talked for years about going to Germany and there are a million half marathons I want to enter.

If I took every single trip I have in mind, well, I would spend that small amount of money many, many times over! (I'm not the Federal government. I'm not allowed trillions in deficit spending.)

It's depressing, but there are other things that are much more important than these trips and renovations, and a lot less fun and exciting. I don't need to list them -- you all know what they are.

Sometimes I really HATE having to be an adult!

Monday, February 1, 2010

What's In a Number?

Does the number on the scale make a difference? Does it really matter what size you wear?

Intellectually, I know that a person's actual weight does not matter if you are healthy, active, have muscle tone and your clothes fit the way you want them to.

I also know that clothing manufacturers randomly assign a number -- or a size -- to a piece of fabric cut and sewn to fit specific dimensions. Women everywhere obsess about what the number on that piece of fabric is rather than on how well it fits or if it is even flattering. We've all seen people cram themselves into clothes that are way too small just so they can say they wear Size X.

Unfortunately, I'm not immune.

When my husband and I got married 25 years ago, I was way too thin. I look at those pictures now and think I looked rather anorexic. At a good 10 lbs too thin, I wore a size 6 most of the time. I don't recall ever wearing anything smaller than that.

Right now I weigh 20 lbs. more than when I got married, and I could still lose 10 more lbs. I'm not at my optimum fitness level nor weight and yet, I usually wear the same size I wore way back then.

Saturday my sister and I went jeans shopping. The pair that fit was a size 4! When I made a comment about them being mismarked, the dressing room staff person offered to find me another pair, just to be sure.

"No," I said excitedly. "If a 4 fits, I'm buying it!"

Like I said, the number doesn't matter -- but I'm still not immune!