Archive for May, 2013

Eric: Mind if we stop by Madtree and pick up some beer on the way home? It’s on the way.

Me: Do they have a TV? (we’re listening to the Reds game in the car)

Eric: Yes. They do.

Me: Then why don’t we hang out and have a beer while we’re picking up beer? Catch the last half of the game on the TV.

*****

Eric: Are you getting another beer?

Me: I have to. [Reds] started winning as soon as we sat down. We have to stay and drink ’til the end of the game. Unless they start losing. Then we have to leave.

Eric: Is that how this works?

I am nothing if not logical.

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Couldn’t decide which of the effect styles I liked better for this one. So…same shot, different shop.

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Day’s over. The truck is full of plants, cider, fudge and a dog passed out cold from Frisbee overload. Two humans grateful to have headed beyond the burbs for the day.

Also grateful to see the couch because we’re beat from all that R&R.

Me: Hey – isn’t that grilled cheese place up here somewhere too?

Eric: Oooooh.

Me: You know the one I’m talking about, right? From Andy’s other gig up there.

Eric: Yeah. I like the way you think.

Me: It might be a couple miles out of the way, but it IS up there. It’d be worth it. Fit it in between the fruit farm and the plant farm?

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John & Vicky’s van is parked out front. And Vicky, who is sunshine on two feet, remembers us coming in before – even though it was only once – 3 months ago.

I am all about teal lately, which translates into bench love here. This place has very clean, sleek lines on the inside.

There are neatly framed concert posters, album covers and instruments all around that whisper to me.

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You’ve not had a grilled cheese until you’ve had one made by a true Deadhead. Just sayin.

I don’t even know what Eric ordered because I am so wrapped up in my ham, bacon, pineapple & provolone. Yes, I said pineapple on my grilled cheese. Yes, it is FABULOUS.

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For a place in tiny neck of the country up North, Plain Folk is getting a rep for good music – benefitting from Facebook’s viral way of spreading news about band gigs. It’s how we found the place – through Andyman and Facebook.

Vicky & John like to mix it up and bring in artists from all over – Vicky says they are booked til November.

We brought Jack.

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Who got to play Frisbee at every stop we made.

Would love it if this one had been a little more clear but I didn’t have any time to set it up. I’d been wandering and caught up with the boys towards the end of their game.

This dog is the epitome of dignity. Until you bust a Frisbee out.

Then he’s a drunken co-ed on her 4th shot of tequila deciding that hightop looks like a good dance floor in platform heels. Wooohooo!

Unbridled glee. Seriously, the entire day is worth it to make him this happy.

It’s the first day of our 3-day weekend and I’m camped out on the couch-end, facebooking, twittering, coffee-drinking. Just being chill. I slept until 7:30am – an hour later than I’ve slept all work week and when Eric gets up later, I tell him this is exactly what I needed.  All week I’ve felt like my day would start so differently if I could just sleep

one. more. hour.

Eric pours a coffee and begins his boot up process. Asks me about my plans for the day. We have NOTHING scheduled for today. Or tomorrow. The free time feels luxurious. Decadent.

Me: I think I’m going to the plant farm today. I want some things for the yard. If I get them today, I can get them in the ground before the weekend’s out and take advantage of the rain.

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Me again (later): I noticed Andyman has a gig at the fruit farm. I think it’s near the plant farm – or near enough. To do both. Thoughts? I want to congratulate him on the new baby.

Eric: What time is he playing?

Me: 12-5.

Eric: I was thinking about tagging along to the plant farm, so yeah – if we can do both, see Andy – that’s cool.

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Me: I was thinking of bringing my camera. Play around. Get some practice. Is that going to bother you?

Eric: Not at all. I’m in no hurry today.  Should we bring Jack?

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Yesterday, I wrote about how there was this big inconvenient thing that has me a bit down and my stomach clenched tight.  Focused inward. Closed-off.

As Eric & I were sitting on the couch watching a movie, I said to him – “tell me everything is going to be okay”.

Eric: About the situation?

Me: About everything. About life. House renovations. Yoga teaching.  Work. The thing. Money. Mowing the yard. All of it.

Eric: Everything really is going to be okay.

I know that that’s something neither of us know for sure, but nevertheless, I needed to hear it said out loud. I think once in awhile ALL OF US need someone to say that out loud to us and sound convincing. Luckily for me, Eric is a pretty sincere guy. I was grateful that in our house, I can tell him exactly what I need to hear and that he will usually say it without reservation.

Then this morning, I walked out of the house and saw a little sage plant I put in last year offering  its very delicate looking hot pink flowers up to the overcast sky as if it had not a single problem. And I thought – wow, I really needed to see that. Something pretty. Beautiful. I don’t know why it struck me that way, but it did.  I was so grateful it was there – and in truth – though it looks delicate and pretty – that sage survived the Winter better than most of my other flowers.  It is deceptively strong. (I wish I’d stopped to take a picture for you.)

In that moment, that single precious moment of gratitude & beauty, I realized I had forgotten that lense. In all the upset of the past few days, I had been grateful for a few specific things – like knowing we have what we need in place to deal – but I had forgotten GRATITUDE AS A GENERAL PERSPECTIVE. I had put that way of thinking down and stepped away as if it were a filter on my camera. I try to go through life being grateful for things – big things, little things – doesn’t matter. Life just feels better to me when I can look at anything and say ‘hey, I’m glad you’re here’ or ‘isn’t that awesome!’. To that little flower – ‘hey, I’m glad you’re here. You’re awesome!’.  To not feel that – as a way of being in the world – has had me out of sorts. Fretful. Dark. An assault to my general nature.

As I waited on carpool, I didn’t want to lose that lifted feeling – so I whipped out my cell – and launched off a quick #5things on twitter to be grateful for. It was important to me to find and list them out right then – put them up in front of me as a sheild and say ‘I don’t care Friday! I am happy and grateful today!’.

So as a counterbalance to all of the things, and to get me back on track with who I prefer to be, I’m spending the day focused on gratitude. It is the best medicine there is to combat things that overwhelm. You can create an entire army of gratitudes to battle the gathering storm clouds if you just pause and look around.

I am so very grateful that –

  • the cafeteria changed over from French Roast to Hazelnut when I went for my second cup of coffee. Hazelnut rocks!
  • the sun came out and there is blue sky waiting on me out there in the big world
  • there is a trail out the back doorstep of my office, and at lunch, I plan to be running it
  • I am healthy and can go trail-running at lunch on a whim
  • Also, I may make time for pushups. Never thought I would be grateful for lots of pushups, but I am.
  • It’s payday. That’s always nice.
  • On the way out the door, the husband told me we had the evening together – no other plans in the way
  • I’m wearing a necklace a dear friend gave me. I have dear friends.
  • Also, I have deer friends I see out on the trail regularly.
  • I have decided on a color for the dining room rug that I think is final. It’s only taken me 5 years.
  • A trip to the plant farm is in my immediate future. There, I will buy more sage.
  • I will get to spend part of the weekend with a spade in my hand and getting filthy – if the weather cooperates.
  • Feeling the urge to get the camera out and go play –  if the weather cooperates.
  • It’s a 3-day weekend. None of those days require an alarm clock.
  • Reds game on Monday.

I could keep going on and on…little things, big things.

Even if sometimes it is complicated, this is my life, and I am most grateful for it.

What are you grateful for today?

I’ve been putting off writing this post…so much so that I put off writing last Thursday’s Thursday post completely and did a race recap instead.  Why?

Because it’s boring. I have to say it and there’s no way to be kind. When I wrote the last 2 Thursday posts on The Effective Kitchen, I was bored out of my ever-loving mind with what I wrote but told myself I was trying to be disciplined about a topic & a day – and so – write dammit! And what came out was just drivelish exercise in phonics to me.

If I’m bored writing it, I doubt your interested in reading it.

I DETEST BOREDOM. At the office. At the house. At the gym. Boredom is a dementor to my soul.

So I decided to change things up a bit – still write on Thursday, but dedicate it to whatever is on my mind. Even if that’s not a thing to do with kitchens, gyms, photos, yoga, existentialism, fundamental studies of fried mozarella…

What is on my mind this week is sticking my head in the sand. Retreating into fallback position.

The husband & I have had an event breeze through that effectively blindsided both of us – one that is upsetting, disruptive and expensive to fix. We have both been exhausted by it – though neither of us is sleeping well. I’ve had a knot in my stomach for the better part of a week now and Eric has caught the headcold I had after Block the Sun 5k.

Our house is STRESSED OUT.

Luckily, this is something we both understand. So we’ve kept to a quieter profile around the house this week, called in the professionals that we need. Which is a strange thing in and of itself – to have to hand matters over to others. Between our professions & our hobbies – Eric & I have a pretty expansive range of talents. When something is bigger than the two of us can handle – it’s scary.

We’ve circled the wagons, drawn down the blinds and been thankful that we have the resources available that we do. Focused on staying connected while still giving each other some space to de-stress. I did happy hour with the running group. He took the dog out for a stinkification session – aka creek hike. We’re planning for a 3-day weekend of tackling house projects & seeing friends. Going to the Reds game on Monday.

Also, I’ve given myself permission not to do 2 runs which I don’t care for. I’ve done both of them 3xs already. I don’t like them and they don’t like me – but because all my friends do them – & 1 of them is free, I sign up. Ya know what? It’s free to not do it too! I’m just not going to do runs I don’t like anymore. I mention it because the free one is this Saturday. After a sleepless week, I want to sleep in on Saturday. So instead, I’m looking for some small alternative runs that aren’t too expensive and aren’t on Saturday.

I’m falling back for the weekend. Taking it easy. Dreaming of simple things. That’s what’s on my mind.

I mentioned 2 weeks ago that I had signed on to do a 5k as part of trying to get me focused on my running goals.  This was that one.  It’s hard to write about – not because the run went horribly or anything – but because I’m feeling kind of ‘meh’ about it. I needed to give myself a couple of days to decide whether to write about it at all and if so, how I wanted to write about it. Ugh.  But writing race recaps is one of those things I do, so…

Going into this race, I knew VERY LITTLE about it. I found it on a racing calendar website and everything I could extract from it I got from a flyer. It was through Glendale – which is a very pretty area of town – packet pickup was outside my regular running store – there would be an after-party at a nearby golf course – and I knew who would be timing/organizing it.

In the interest of full disclosure – I have done several races now with the company in charge of organizing/timing the race. Color me VERY unimpressed.  I could itemize issues I have seen/experienced, but in the interest of not being sued, I’ll keep them to myself.  So yeah,  I’m at the point with them that just seeing that company listed as the organizer makes me second-guess whether I want to do the run.  I have a bias here, and it’s not a good one. So you should probably take this recap with a grain of salt.

I decided to do this one because the time worked, there was an after-party, and looking at 2012 results – Maine & I both had a chance at age-group top 3 if we ran well. Maine would have a good shot at winning her age-group if she ran the way she has been lately. Of course, that depends on current registrations too, but it was something to look at. I’m a data girl. Registered.

Here’s what I know:

The registration was $30, which $25-30 is average around here these days for a 5k. When we got there, this fee included a string bag & a tiny tube of an SPF that it is unlikely I will use because I’m picky about sunscreens.  That is very little swag compared to most of the $30-5k’s around here.

There was very little accessible off-street parking and even less that wouldn’t get trapped in by the race. We ended up parking about half-a-mile away even getting there reasonably early.

There was a tiny race-map on the flyer copied from a Map-My-Run shot, but no link to it. To get the elevation profile, I had to recreate the map from the tiny little picture in my own Map-My-Run account. I don’t understand why they couldn’t link that on the website or make a bigger picture available w/an elevation profile. If they did, I couldn’t locate it easily.

The route itself was a good route. A couple decent hills. It looped back on itself in a wild figure-8 so they were able to be efficient using one water stop that you passed twice – without making you go over duplicate territory. I respect efficiency, so I liked that a lot. I do feel the water stop was under-manned with only 2 guys there – while other areas seemed to have more than enough volunteers wandering without task. But all in all, I was excited about the route. Also, I didn’t stop for water – I don’t for 5ks anymore unless I’m overheating.

Most of the volunteers along the course were not cheering. Some were. But most were not. This energy permeated a lot of the event for me. I’m sure they were very enthusiastic about this event the first 2 times they put it on, but the energy for this time was a bit lackluster.  As I was struggling with my race a bit, this lackluster energy was not helpful.

For my own race, when I finished I told Eric that this run just felt a lot harder than it should have for the prep work I did & the course. I never got into a zone with it and felt a lot of pressure in my chest/abs for a good bit of it. When I got into the final stretch, I had very little kick to give.  I’m attributing this to the fact that I came down with a sore throat Sunday evening – I was probably already getting sick on Saturday night. That being said, I shaved 26 seconds off of the 5k I did 3 weeks before. No PR, but closer. Also…

I ALWAYS make it a habit of starting my Garmin before I cross the first mat and stopping it after I cross the last mat. My Garmin isn’t a fancy version, so I have no problems with satellite delays. It acts as a stopwatch & interval timer for me.  Results are usually (this race being the one that makes me say usually, rather than always) over whatever the actual chip time is because I’m conscientious about making sure it’s always a little over. The last time I ran with this race company, my Garmin was dead-on the chip time they gave me.  Okay. This time, my Garmin was 7 seconds under the chip time they gave me. My Garmin gave me a better time.  Not sure how I feel about that.

There was a girl I was playing leap-frog with by 7-10 ft distances throughout most of the race. At the last significant hill (probably .5 miles from finish), she was in front of me by 10-ft. I decided her ass looked smug.

Yes, an ass can look smug.

Whether she meant it to look smug or not, I don’t know, but it was mocking me that she had passed me yet again. She had a mocking, smug, passing ass. I’m sure she’s a very nice person when you take in more than just her ass.

Hills being my thing, I put some energy into passing her and decided from that point forward that she was NOT passing me again. She didn’t. I kept up the passing effort through to the finish and on the last 10-15 ft to the finish, I checked over both of my shoulders to be sure that she wasn’t going to sprint past me and she was not in my sight anywhere near me.  Her chip time has her 2-seconds behind me. At 2-seconds behind me, I would’ve seen her.  She wasn’t there. Not sure what that means either.

When I crossed the finish line, I was handed a water bottle that had been sitting on a table in the sun. I reached into a nearby cooler – all the water bottles were on top of the ice, not in it. Reaching to the lowest point, my water was barely colder than warm. There were bananas.

At the last race we did with this organizer, the awards were given at the after-party. So, we moved our little band over to the after-party to see if Maine had taken her age group. They never announced the winners there. I guess they did it back at the race a mile away – no one told us how that was going to work.  However, they did announce the winners of the golf classic that had combined their after-party with this one.

There were no free drink or food tickets with the registration. Beers were $5 for 12oz, or $20 for an ‘unlimited’ wrist band.  Silent auction – got outbid on a Reds basket. 2 bands  –  both of which were pretty good.  A food truck with burgers & such that was affordably priced. All told, I think we put out another $40-45 at the after-party, which totals that up to a $70-75 night.  That seems a bit pricey for a 5k to me – I think at least 1 beer ticket should’ve been included with registration. Other races in the area do a $30-40 registration and include 2-4 drink tickets at the party.

Highlight of my night was getting to play soccer & catch with Maine’s little boy for a good part of the night.  Also, there was a volunteer from Boston that was a complete hoot to talk to at the silent auction area. She was an absolute riot! And any night out with my husband is a good night. Got a video of a giant dancing hand (see previous post).

Without a few changes, such as a swagged-up registration & greater clarity around the festivities, pretty sure I wouldn’t do this one again even if the route is pretty.  It was just a little too pricey for the experience and if the volunteers aren’t even into it…gotta wonder why they don’t find another fundraising activity that excites them more.  The point is to raise money for a cause (melanoma), not to put on a race, but if you’re going to put on a race to raise money – make it worth doing. Swag it up. Attract attention and the following will grow to raise the hell out of those funds.

Upcoming weekend is yoga teacher training, so no races then. I have a free entry to a race on the 25th if I want it, and considering another race for the morning of the 27th.

Took this at a run after-party last night.

Because after the cornhole picture, things moved onto the dance floor.

You can probably move ahead 30-45 seconds in the video – except for that his (her?) dance partner is just fabulous.

Never seen anything like it.

As I mentioned, last Friday was a Reds social media event – #Redstweetup – where there was a special section designated for fans who have connected via Twitter to meet in person, have a beer and enjoy the game…in real life as opposed to virtually. I decided to venture out of my comfort zone and go give it a try. The pretext was to celebrate the season buildup event wherein Reds fans rallied a Twitter campaign to make #JoeyVotto the #FaceofMLB.  To be blunt, WE KICKED ASS! There are no fans like Reds fans.

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I went alone.

Eric & I had talked about it in advance and decided that with my being distracted looking for twitter friends, and with him not being on Twitter, that he probably wouldn’t have a very good time. So, alone. That’s how I decided to roll. Comfort zone abandoned for the Fan Zone. Also, I decided to bring the camera for some practice taking action shots and so just in case no one talked to me, I could hide behind it. ‘Cause that’s how I roll now too. All borg-like with a lens where my eye-hole was supposed to be and dreams of having a squint like Popeye. Doesn’t that just scream ‘hey – get to know me! I’m fun!’?  My analogies get a little strange when I’m nervous about my writing.

Also, I get to places a little early when I’m nervous. True story. Except for the pre-game events for the Playoffs last year, I don’t think I’ve ever been to the ballpark more than 10 minutes before first pitch. For this event, I had some time to kill – a lot of time to kill – so I went to find my seat –

I was sooo early.

I was sooo early.

And found this going on:

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Some Gapper love on the outside track:

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Then despite the fact that it was raining pretty decently through the first 3 innings, 33,000+ people turned up to watch Cingrani take the mound and it was game on:

Oh, Cingrani had to bat too.

Oh, Cingrani had to bat too.

That's how it's done.

That’s how it’s done.

So far, LOVING the new camera. To my old one, this would have been nothing but blurs. AND, my seat was roughly 350ft away. My long lense (75-300mm) w/o the doubler got this one. If I’d added the doubler, you’d be able to see Cingrani’s stubble. Next time.

I got up and decided to wander around, thinking maybe people would be up on the decks and that at some point, I’d quit being a chicken suck it up and introduce myself to them.  Shortly thereafter, I looked to my left and there was Jamie Ramsey of Better Off Red (@Jamieblog) and then my brain went and did a thing before I could stop it – it said ‘Jamie Ramsey’ out loud. And he turned and looked at me (HOLY CRAP WHADDOIDONOW?!).  Then that thing I was worried about – where I sound like a total douche introducing myself as ‘a somewhat likeable girl’ – yeah, it happened. My brain is such an ASSHOLE! Thankfully, Jamie – I call him Jamie now – took it all in stride and told me if I wanted to meet some more people, I was standing in the right place. So I tucked myself a little further into the right place, and started to take some more shots – and then that other thing happened that happens when people see you walking around with a camera that has a big lense on it – someone started asking me about photography – or more specifically, telling me what to shoot as he took a panoramic shot with his iPhone. Yep. I may just be learning about photography, but I know better than to tell someone else what to shoot unsolicited.  Thankfully, his douchenozzly introduction was just a lead off for what ended up being a nice 2.5 inning long conversation. No, I don’t know if he had a Twitter handle.

That being done, I decided to wander some more, get some sausages. Head over to see the view over the bullpen. I’ve never checked that out before.

What the relievers & closers see while they wait for the call.

Or at least that’s just above what they see. Friends, in case you never considered it before – our bullpen hears all the cheering, sighing, clapping you do before they head out to the mound. Nothing to do but wait and listen and study and take it all in. THEY CAN HEAR YOU.

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Getting a picture from this doorframe pointed towards the mound may be at the top of my bucket list now. Not because of the pitchers in there, but because feeling that view – not seeing it – FEELING it – has got to be one of the best things on the planet. It just has to be. Above it is phenomenal. Ground level has got to be beyond words for a somewhat likeable girl who loves to shoot spaces & places.

About the time I started taking pictures, another person started talking cameras – my wife wants to get a nice camera like that one & I just don’t know about the expense…

Me: “Do you have kids?”

Him: “Noooot yet, but it’s coming soon.

Me: “Get the camera before you have the kids & learn to use it really well. Because after you have the kids, you’ll want to know how to use a camera really well.”

I have no kids and no right to be giving anyone advice, but shooting my friends’ kids has taught me that much.

It went on for longer than that while I missed another inning or two and watched the start of Sam LeCure’s warm-up.  One of the nicest guys in baseball that I’ve never met.

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A little more time back (& popcorn) over in my seat, and I was exhausted when Chapman hit the mound. It was time to go – which was about the time I spotted Dallas Latos (@DallasLatos) on my way out. As a follow-up to a conversation on Twitter, I wanted to stop and introduce myself. First I circled around just to find my balls be sure it was really her, then I dove in and completely interrupted another tweeter that was saying hi. Rude. Sorry girl who I interrupted!! I’m going to say, I was a bit intimidated to meet Dallas – there’s no arguing that she has brought quite a bit of spice to the Tri-state area and created a social media hum – but really, there was no reason to be intimidated. SHE WAS SO NICE TO ME! Really genuine person.  Also, very pretty. I kinda wish I’d gotten over there sooner so that I wasn’t in full flight mode when I met her. Frankly, I admire that way that she’s put some of the more conservative/judgey types around here in a kerfuffle. They need kerfuffled.

Then I was gone. Even though I didn’t meet many people, social events in general can be exhausting for me. The THOUGHT of crowds can be exhausting for me. I listened to Chapman’s inning in the car and the fireworks were starting a few minutes after I got home. I never stop being grateful for Eric’s secret super-fast route home from GABP. Pajamas & cereal. Must haves after a long night.

I tell Eric I spent the game chatting about cameras.

Eric: Did you see Hanigan’s…

Me: Nope. Missed it.

Eric: Did you see Philip’s…

Me: Nope. Missed it. I got to see Cingrani & LeCure pitch, but other than that, I missed it.

I have never seen less of a game in all the games we’ve attended. How does that happen? No matter.

So, going to the tweetup alone was a bit strange – now I know that. Which just means I’ll need to work on making more friends for next time! And make some definite plans to meet them! Maybe then I can spend more time shooting friends & less time shooting the ballpark – though shooting the ballpark is pretty fun too. 🙂

The next #Redstweetup is set for June 9th at GABP.