Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas and Running

Running is like being in a relationship. You must consider it when you make your lifestyle choices. I have struggled this week to balance the running with the eating and the staying up late. The good news is I remained faithful to the running but sometimes I paid the consequence of too much food and not enough sleep. I wonder if next week my blog will be titled "New Years and Running"?One thing I am thankful for: the holiday food in the fridge is getting smaller and losing its allure!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Week 21-Run 23/walk1/run 6

Even after indulging too much at a Christmas party last night, still the run was great! I find that it's more of a psychological challenge. The beginning of the run requires mental adjustment from the sedentary mindset...but once I find the rhythm of the run, it's soothing, relaxing, guilt-free, solitary chill out time. I always thought runners were like very aggressive and that you had to run like you were about to have a heart attack. Not so! Not so! It's a relaxing have to let go of the tension and stress to enjoy the run.Granted, I will NOT be breaking any 5K records in the 50 year old category...but I don't really care! Once again I draw on the encouraging words of John "the penguin" Bingham...waddle on! I don't care if my pace seems slow,as long as I am enjoying the run and I'm sweating when I get home, then that's fast pace enough for me.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Week 20-Run 20/walk 1/run 9

I had the best dream last night! It was right up there with my "eating all I want and still be skinny" dreams(yes! isn't that weird? but I do really have those!)and the incredibly wonderful sexy dreams(yes! I have those too! What can I say? As a single mom, it's the closest I can get to romance in this small town!)
Let's see...where was I? I was running down the long street in front of my house that is parallel to a railroad track. I was wearing a sparkling red running top and practically glowed! There was also a red Japanese tourist bus following me(okay, that detail is how we know it's a dream..HA!)I was running along and as I was running I looked down and my legs began to define themselves with the muscles of an olympic runner...I felt like I was running faster than the wind. It was a wonderful, uplifting,encouraging, made me want to get out in the cold rain and run kind of dream. I am still in the afterglow of it! Like I said..I LOVE running!!
Yesterday I ran in the sleet and rain and I loved it. Today it looks like it'll just be running in the plain old glamorous sleet today. I finally bought some long running pants. I've been running in capri tights. I like having some skin exposed on my legs, but yesterday's sleet made me realize it was time to "winterize"...the southern version, at least. I've been running with wool cap and fleece lined jacket and pulling my hands up into the sleeves when it got cold. I don't like being tied down with gloves...makes it too difficult to reset running timer on my phone. So, now I will add some running pants.
One more thing..I LOVE the Nike Dri-fit fabric. It's like running wrapped up in a soft cloth. Will invest in more soon, now that I've discovered that.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Momma Reflections

Here's what it is. This being a mother and all. You would die for your child. Because you dying is better than the alternative of THEM dying. And that pretty much sets the tone for motherhood. My son is 15 now. A far cry from the tow headed, verbally gifted cheerful little thing he was at 4. So, he's working toward his Eagle Scout this Spring. He is in the Order of the Arrow, which is an honor within the scouts. In this order, they are indian dancers. This requires a costume. An elaborate grass dancing costume. A costume that is due to be danced in tomorrow. A costume I began on Tuesday, armed with velcro, fabric glue, yards and pounds of yarn in colors of red and blue glued onto black satin. I am telling you WHAT! I am so far out of my element it defies description. I can't even go into any more detail about it, such is the depth of my insecurity in this area!So, it's 1a.m. and I was thinking about what would motivate me to do this for him. And what I came up with was mother love. The same love I had when he was that little boy. That little boy is still in that growing, awkward, hilarious,smart,moody, tender hearted, loving teenager I have right now. And I look ahead and I realize he's going out in the world in three years. My goodness, that is a scary thought because there's so much more to tell him, to teach him and I'm still moody and trying to live my life and teach my kids and in the middle of that swirling soup of things...there he is at the core. I think the indian costume will prove my love for him more than my telling him. To do something so foreign to you strictly out of love for that person. Gotta go velcro...oh, and run in the morning...YAY!(I mean that, too!)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Week 18-Run 16/walk 1/run 13

I'm covered UP in some work this week and it's affected my running. I'm behind one run right now which I will make up on a rest day Monday.Can't wait for my routine to be restored. Missing one run affects me psychologically and keeps me from thinking so clearly. Missing one run makes my body feel stiffer, less flexible. Missing one run makes me scared that I'll never run again. Missing one run makes me realize how much I LOVE running.It feels like a friend...okay, I'm starting to sound a little "looney", but I wouldn't sound that way if I hadn't missed a run...HA!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Week 17(Or Month Five beginning!)-Run 14 walk 1 2 times

This will be brief. Started month 5 today instead of yesterday. Will double up a run tomorrow. LOVED running 14 minutes! Thought I would be fatigued after the weekend in New York but I wasn't. I am so relieved that getting out my running routine didn't penalize me. I walked hours and hours in the city, so I guess that kept me up to snuff. I LOVE New York! More on that later! I bought two cute nike running tops at Macy's up there as a souvenir. I'll remember New York every time I run. How cool is that?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Week 16-Run 12/walk 1 2x with 4 minute push run at end

I cannot believe I am even entering this blog! I am finishing up month FOUR of my running quest and it just continues to get better and better, I continue to evolve internally and externally as a person. It is becoming a dramatic change, especially on the inside. I think the two best benefits right now of running are the sense of well being I carry with me through the day physically and the change in my relationship to food. More and more I am trying to fuel my body for runs. More and more often I make the choice to eat the healthy option. The result is lost weight and a change to my body shape. HALLELUJAH!It revolves around the runs. I am aware that extra weight on the body slows you down, so I want to run faster, so I eat healthier. I used to be motivated with diets to lose weight..the pressure was always an enormous negative stressful experience. I never enjoyed dieting! That's because food is my drug of choice. For some reason attaching the eating to the runs neutralizes the emotions associated with eating. This is a tremendous breakthrough!

This weekend I am flying to New York for the first time! I will turn 50 while I am there! I plan to run Bryant Park on Saturday and Central Park on Sunday. At least that's the plan! Plan on some running pics here when I return and more details of this fantastic trip!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Week 15-Run 10/walk 1 for 2x with 8 minute run at the end

Well, let me just say this! Running is an athletic endeavor and you must strive to eat healthy and live healthy. Last week I was struck with what I thought was an earache. All my home remedies were of no avail. Finally, yesterday I went to my doctor who pronounced my ears perfectly healthy but my jaw was another matter. It seems I have "TMJ". I've heard of it but had never experienced it before! I am on soft foods and painkillers and YES, I have continued my running! Today was really tough! I ran the first ten minutes and then walked a minute but when I started my second ten minutes I got terrible stomach cramps and had to hobble home.I only got five minutes into the second run. Sooo, this afternoon when I got in I tried to make up the run time, which I did and then some. I don't think it's as good of an effect when you split the run, but in times of emergency you just gotta do what ya gotta do! I've decided in times when I am sick or under the weather I will split the run. I am feeling much better now that I know how to lessen the pain.
Running continues to mentally challenge me, but I need it. I do believe it's the only real challenge I am facing in my life right now other than raising a teenager with the help of my parents. Honestly, THAT is the hardest part of my life and he's a GREAT kid! I can't imagine if he was horrible or something!I guess compared to others, I don't have problems, then, do I?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Week 14-run 8/walk 1 for 3x with a 3 minute push run at end

After struggling through week 12 and its 12 minute runs, it is nice these two weeks to increase mileage. I am regularly passing by the 2 mile mark now. It's due to these weeks of running then walking a minute. Before then I always had two minutes to "recover" between runs. Now it's one minute and the intensity is evident. You would think dropping from 12 to 8 would be going backward, but it's not. I notice I keep the sweat going throughout the run, the one minute not affording much of a cool down. I love it! I feel stronger with every run.
Now, for the food struggle. It's not as intense but I really have to watch my calories or the run isn't as good. Food weighs down the run. So, if I'm gonna eat heavier, it has to be the day I run so that the walk day follows. The love of eating is such a detriment. The running does keep me more on track, though. I am motivated by wanting to feel good on the run so I am able to resist more. It's still difficult, though.
I sent a fan email to John Bingham. I was on his website and decided to thank him for what his writing has meant to me and my sister as we learn to run. If I can figure it out, I'll paste it into the blog so ya'll can read it.
Thanks to everyone for their encouraging comments. It has helped me through some tough times!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

And then after such a crappy run...nirvana!!

Week 13(or as I prefer to say "I'm starting my fourth month of running")run 6/walk 1 four times with 2 minute push run at end. So, today after such a horrible Sunday run, the memory of that still so fresh in my runner's psyche, I have one of the BEST runs of my life! Talk about your yen and yang! At one point I felt as if I were FLYING, but then I remembered a quote from John Bingham's "Running for Mortals" in which he said "I thought I was running so fast until I caught a glimpse of myself in a store window and realized I was a penguin...a penguin runner." Well, that's probably what I looked like but I FELT like I was running with the wind. It was exhilarating and I'm still not over the experience!It's a mind game, a head game and if I can just keep remembering that, I'll only get stronger and better.
This week, also, I finally made it to the two mile mark. So, in two miles time I ran 26 minutes and walked 4. Not bad for this approaching fifty single mom! YES! RUNNING ROCKS!!
HOWEVER, I am seriously lacking warm running clothes. I looked like a homeless woman running in the dark this morning. Pi-ti-ful! This for running clothes, if nothing else!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Ya just keep going, not matter what! That's the key!

Today was a brutal run! I've not had one of those since the early days. I delayed my usual early morning run until after church and Sunday dinner. Maybe that was it! Last week I did the same thing and I was fine. was hotter than the 70's and the sun bore down on me the whole time. I didn't realize how physically distressed I was until I finished. It took me a while to cool down. I need to pay attention to the elements of our fickle seasonal changes and adjust my runs accordingly. Glad tomorrow is a rest day as I look forward to starting my fourth month of this!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

"I'm Running in the Rain" (sung to the tune of "I'm Singin' in the Rain")

Well, rain again during a run! A gentle rain this time, not so bad but when, pray tell, is the time going to change so that it's not pitch black at 6:30 when I start my morning run? To answer my own question, that would be November 2 when the time changes. One more week of dark runs. On a brighter note, I spotted two more runners yesterday! I want to stop them and talk to them but I know how annoyed I would be if someone stopped my run, so I will just have to be encouraged by their presence! I am getting geared up for a possible 5K sooner rather than later if I can work up the courage. Right now, it takes a solitary run for me to stay focused, not sure having lots of people running and walking around me will cause me to do the very best. It's a work in progress, for sure!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Week 12....THREE MONTHES!! YAAY!!!

Week 12-Run 12/walk 2 for 2x with 2 minute push run at end. Today I clocked how far I ran in 12 minutes: 8/10 of a mile! I am almost running one mile! Unbelievable!So, I ran 8/10 then walked 1/10 then ran 8/10 then walked 1/10. Didn't do 2 minute push at end due to heavy school traffic, but will the rest of the week. I am scouting out 5K's in my area. By late winter, I should be able to at least run/walk a 5K! I am one thankful about to be fifty year old! Filled with gratitude!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Week 11-Run 10/walk 2 for 2x with run 6 at end

Today I ran ten minutes straight! TWICE! I look back on my early journals and the gratitude I wrote about just to run 30 seconds! I have always maintained this is a prescription for running. If I follow the directions, I will improve. I'm out for fall break so I went to the track to "shake up" my routine. I must say the asphalt is deteriorating and I didn't enjoy it as much as my other neighborhood route. Also, it wasn't as interesting, no fields to jog by, no harvest mums and pumpkins set up along the way to distract me. It was a technical run, though, and I enjoyed mapping exactly how far I can run in ten minutes(almost three laps). I remember when a half a lap was all I could do!This endurance is sneaking up on me. Every week I think "This is the one I won't be able to do!". So far I have been VERY wrong! Thank God for that!
My son, who tends to be sedentary, has joined me for two walks this week in the evenings! One, a nature trail at a local state park and the other meandering through new neighborhoods. He's 14 and I don't want him to struggle with weight his whole life like I have. Plump or thin, I've always felt fat. It's the last thing I want for him.
When he was young I read that if you want them to love to read, they must see you read. It's probably the same with fitness. If you want them to pursue fitness, they have to watch you pursue fitness.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

My Body Begins To Crave A Good Stretch

Finishing up Week 10 of the run/walk program, I begin to notice my body needs/wants more and more stretching after a run. I am collecting different stretching exercises and am finding out that extending my run with a 15 or 20 minute stretching session really enhances the whole experience! Think of how good it feels when you have a good yawn and stretch....that's how it feels when you are putting your body through the paces of specific stretches for specific parts of your body! I get the feeling that running is just a springboard for other things, that it enhances so many areas of your life. There's a new kind of confidence that is beginning to grow deep inside of me from this quest of mine.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Week 10-Running in a Rainstorm!

Week 10-run 8/walk 2 for three the POURING RAIN in a HOT PONCHO! Talk about unexpected! I knew it was going to rain, but when I got up this morning, it seemed I had time for my thirty minutes...NOT! I stepped outside and the bottom fell out. I was so determined to run that I reached inside for my poncho, threw it on and took off in the monsoon. I splashed through DEEP puddles and began critiquing our city road crew, I mean we could wash away in the water standing in the roads! My mind began to rebel, my body was fine...steady even breathing, rhythmic footsteps...but my mind, it was a battle, I tell you! It took me into my second 8 minute run to calm myself down in spite of the fact the rain had slacked off! I even had to put earphones on and listen to music, which I had weaned myself off of at that point! At the end of the run I felt physically great but mentally I still felt the struggle!Interesting, very interesting, that this former couch potato could handle the physical work of it, but that the mental work provided the challenge. Running is shaking me up in places I never dreamed. I am a penguin runner, a great proponent of the writings of John Bingham who gives this fast approaching 50 year old single mother the courage to accept herself running on the road, not resembling society's image of a runner, but equally as important, equally as legitimate!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Thursday, October 2, 2008

How I Knew When I'd Turned Another Running Corner

Tonight I took my chocolate loving self to Walgreen's to buy something for my son's school project, FULLY intending on grabbing some oreo cookies. Here's what happened instead. I ran into someone who knew me when I was young and slender and that triggered a thought to see if the new Runners World magazine was out yet. It was, and so was the new Women's Health mag. I bought both of them instead of the Oreos. That is a POWERFUL exchange of values for me, people. Thank God!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

First "Out of Town on School Trip" Run!

I am so encouraged! This morning I got up and sought out a running track on the college campus where I was attending a conference. This goes SO against my grain! I knew, however, that if I didn't run this morning that I would worry all day about breaking my routine. It was a nice trail(see above picture) populated with walking groups and lone joggers. I just kept saying"You are a penguin runner,it does not matter that these are in shape college kids flying by you,you are a penguin runner, slow and steady,the tortoise and the hare, you are the tortoise, but the tortoise wins in the long run."
Thanks to all that offer encouraging words. They really help.
Week 9: 7 minute run/2minute walk 3x with a 3 minute run at the end.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

My BABIES! My first REAL pair of running shoes!!

It's a beautiful thing, buying real running shoes!Pictured are my Asics GT-2130 stability/motion control shoes coupled with my Wigwam Ironman Flash Pro socks. Eight weeks I've been running on, I'm embarassed to say, Reebok walking shoes of some sort. I have diligently researched my shoe choice, clutching my ragged page from Runner's World magazine as I walked into a running store this afternoon. It was a rough start, the store being filled with young thin people who had no interest in helping me find shoes. I may as well have been in a foreign country for all the sense the shoe names made to me. Finally, trying to hide my irritation, I asked for help. She had no clue but, God bless her, she said "There's someone in the back who runs, let me get her." And from there the day just got great! I met Christina, a college student/runner enthusiast who from the get go embraced and acknowledged my dream of running. An hour later after gleaning all kinds of helpful advice from her, I left with the above pictured shoes and a $13 pair of socks. Yep, thirteen bucks, but well worth the expense.Cannot WAIT to get out on the road in the morning. Hats off to Christina, a college student runner who also shared her faith with me.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Week 8! Who Would've Thought It?

Week 8: Run 6/walk 2 for 3x with an additional 6 minutes at the end. My favorite part is the running!During the final 6 minute run I felt a burst of energy and so I pushed it.. probably a little too much because the last two minutes took FOREVER!! Still, a great sense of accomplishment. Trying to find time to get to Fleet Feet in Memphis for bonafide running shoes. Busy times and worn out inappropriate shoes...a bad combination for a fledgling runner. Will keep this blog posted.John Bingham books are a lifesaver. I identify with his term "penguin runner". He says to run for the love of it, don't tie weight loss into it. Your weight loss plan should be separate. Love the running, fuel the running with good food and it will fall into place. I think he's right. I can't WAIT to run 30 minutes(that will be in January) and then to look toward my first 5K in the late spring. Great plans for this fast approaching fifty year old!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

I Spotted a Runner Today!

I saw another runner today! My first "other runner" to see! I was clocking a new route in my car and I passed him. I wanted to roll down my window and yell "Hey! You! What's your name, how long have you run,how far do you run, do you know any other runners? Correction, do you know any "older runners"? Huh? Huh?" I decided against it. First, because I HATE it when people roll down there windows to say something to me in this small town. I don't want anything to break my stride. There's a little part of me that's afraid I'll run, run, run like Forrest Gump did and then one day just turn around and go home, never to run again. Who's to say I could have had the same effect on the running guy I passed? Plus, he was a hardcore runner, nothing was without defined muscle on his body.
Living in a small Mississippi town, it's hard to map any kind of trend. For all I know, there are thousands of women approaching 50 who are adding running to their lives. Only, they aren't living around me. It's solitary, that's for sure, but I like it that way. I don't want to run in a group, I don't want a "running partner to keep me accountable". I think I am doing this consistantly BECAUSE I am doing it alone.
So, I guess I was surprised at my reaction in seeing this runner. It made me tear up a little bit. He would have probably looked at this middle aged woman old enough to be his mother and thought I was a crazy!So, I didn't roll down my window. I just kept going and watched him in my rear view mirror as long as I could.
I want to run alone, but it's nice to know I'm not alone!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

This is actually Week 7! Further along than I realized!

So, today it was: 5 minute run/2 minute walk 4x with a 2 minute run at end. Wow! Talk about apprehension. I go through all these mind games with myself on Monday nights. Mondays are my rest days and so in the back of my mind, since I'm so new into this that my trust level with myself is very low, there is unease whether I will actually resume a new week each Tuesday. Today, the week of female troubles began. So, of course, I was preparing myself for all kinds of worst case scenarios. I stepped outside with my good luck chunk of ice in my mouth(every morning, one cube that I crunch down, THEN I start)to a chilly morning. WOW! I haven't had that yet! And I just put one foot in front for five minutes while listening to this great song about this being the day the Lord has made, to be happy in it and not to think about the tomorrow just yet.Perfect start! It STILl is mind over body. The body can do it, the mind is the great challenge, to not FREAK OUT when I look at my timer and I still have 45 seconds left of the 5 minutes! I just relax, slow it down, breathe easy and FINISH the five minutes!
I'm reading "The Courage To Start: A Guide to Running for Your Life" by John "The Penguin" Bingham. He started running when he was 100 pounds overweight. The book is about your mind, your philosphy, what running can mean to your life quality, not only physically but emotionally. It's a deep book and really speaks to us normal, out of shape middle aged people who long to run like they did as children, to feel like an athlete, to uncover their natural body state, to feel confident enough to consider themselves an athlete. He says I am right now! How about that! You are an athlete when you do athletic things, it doesn't matter if you just started. Think that way, it will help. So, what a fringe benefit to the actual quest, your brain gets fed, too. How cool is that?
*at beginning of post is a pic of "The Penguin", John Bingham.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Week 5 of Run/Walk Not So Bad!

Granted, I may have just jinxed myself with that blog title. This morning I ran 4 minutes and walked 2 for 5x. I'd had a "food lapse" yesterday, that's my politically correct term for "food that does not help fuel my runs". It involved homemade lemon squares,chips and the chemically composed french onion dip AND it involved standing at my kitchen counter while I ate it. Those are all the gory details of that little binge you will get! HA! In my defense, I didn't bake the squares or buy the chip/dip, so at least it wasn't premeditated, right? Anyway, all last night I kept preparing myself for a difficult run this morning due to the kind of food I ate. Then my body gave me a gift, the run 4 mins was awesome! I relaxed into the experience and enjoyed almost every bit of it. The key is not to panic and to distract yourself with music, at least that's my key and that's the only kind of key that counts for me. I do not encourage encouragement of what I am doing. When my family is positive I shush them and tell them they will jinx this if I hear the positive stuff. Strange little psyche I have. It's a personal journey,competition,quest and I can't mar it with outside input. But I do appreciate your positive comments on this blog. So far, ya'll haven't jinxed me. HA!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

It(being running) got better today!

What a relief,ya'll! I found out my cell phone has FM radio transmission so I breezed through the three minute intervals of running today. I was still drenched with sweat, but the time went by better. Funny, I've always pictured myself running silently down a wooded path. Guess that's a little advanced for this 3 minute run/2 minute walk girl at this point. For now, I need a little distraction.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Now the Running's Hard!

Okay, it took four weeks for me to find it hard to run. How embarassing that I discovered it this morning on my big three minute at a time run! This week the ratio is 3 min run/2 min walk; Oh my gosh! First of all, I am going to need some music to distract me from my thoughts. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't that it was physically hard, I could do it...but mentally I struggled not to want to just stop jiggling around, you know? I'm in it for the long haul and I will not give up, but I do think I will need to bring some "entertainment" for my relative long haul. For the record, I ran 3 min/walked 2 min for 6 x. I gauge how far I pushed myself by how sweaty I am. My shirt was really wet! So, yay!Everything I read says running is a mental game, that if you get your head right, the running is right.So, I'm gonna work on my head.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Hurricane Gustav

My aunt and uncle live in Metairie Louisiana, a suburb of New Orleans. They were part of the brave souls who rebuilt their home after the destruction of Katrina. It took guts for anyone to do that! Yet, at 11a.m. this morning they joined hundreds of thousands of people in a mandatory evacuation. My aunt is undergoing chemo and will have to continue treatment wherever they land. For the short term they are landing with my sister in Jackson MS but may continue on to us if things worsen. I am worried,as many are. During Katrina my uncle snuck back into New Orleans with two of his neighbors and traveled by boat at night to see if his home had survived. That's what natural disasters do, they turn you into the pioneers like long ago. I remember going with him to wal-mart to buy masks and batteries and anything needed to travel into such dangerous territory.It felt like sending family into the wild and wooly wilderness. We were so relieved he made it in and out safely! He's a banker, but I believe during that time he channeled his Alcorn County country upbringing into some kind of modern Daniel Boone. He and his wife are two of my heros. I'm talking like they are elderly, but, actually, they are only about 6 or 7 years older than me. They are my contemporaries. They are survivors and, once again, they pull themselves up by their bootstraps and survive another hurricane.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Week 4 of the "RP"

I started Week 4 of the Beginning Running book runner's log. My rest day is Monday which is great due to my teacher Sunday night apprehension(don't know why I call it that, I love my job!). Last Saturday and Sunday just about killed me! I was getting over a virus AND dealing with female issues.I went to the track both days because that seems to cheer me up.I still struggled both days, but I pushed through instead of letting it defeat me. That was a victory for me. I really enjoy running on the track. So I was a little nervous about beginning the "2 minute run/2 minute walk with 2 minute push at end" this morning. I even told myself I could stay on week 3 1:30 run/2:00 walk ratio if I needed to. But here's what happened. This morning was probably the best run/walk I've ever had. The 2 minutes running seemed easier than the 1:30! I have no idea why other than I was rested, I set a reasonable pace from the beginning and tried to relax into it. This is why I am doing it: For that time during the run when something just clicks inside of me and I feel real at home with myself! This is a spiritual experience for me. Anyone who knows me well, knows this activity does not resemble how I usually live! I believe when you do something that you KNOW you are not capable of doing, that that's grace on your life, God's grace..unmerited, unearnable...just a gift to you because He loves you.So I thank God for the grace to run/walk...just for today...that's all we have.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Here's Where I Am Now With My Ambitious Learning To Run Program

This week I have been running one minute/30 seconds and walking 2 minutes 7x with a 2 minute push run at the end.This is cushioned every other day by a thirty minute walk. I also rest one day a week. It is nothing short of a miracle! I just love it. It clarifies the day for me so much! Now that school is back in session, I'm going to add weight training. Here's the plan: I'm turning 50 in December which means I can do the Senior Olympics. I know, sounds weird, doesn't it? But I'm thinking that I can dangle that "carrot" in front of me and maybe, just maybe, try to do a 5K run by next May(when they have our state senior olympics). I have no idea if I can do this. According to my "24 week to running 30 minutes plan" in my "Beginning Running" book, by January I should be up to 30 minutes cold of running,running without a heart attack for 30 minutes. So, I'm thinking by May...SURELY I can get my butt to a senior olympics 5K, right? That is a rhetorical question. PLEASE do not answer it. :) I am not thinking that it will be easy. That's not why I'm thinking of it as a goal. I am thinking that if I get my butt kicked in a 5K, at LEAST it will be with people near my age. I just think it would do me no good to get all mixed up with 20 year old runners at these charity 5K's, unless of course they were sympathetic, encouraging NICE 20 year olds who wouldn't call me "granny". HA! For now I will derive a sense of gratitude that I passed some walkers three or four times around the track this morning. I did not feel superior. I felt grateful that this exercise grace has fallen upon me just when I needed it.
One more thing, the running is the's the part that is so foreign to me that it fills me with optimism that I can do other things I thought impossible to do. Have no idea what that would be right now, but I'll keep this place posted!
Anyone else running? or run/walking like me? What's your time?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Where The Rubber Meets The Road

So far, this blog has been all about the "summer me", the "I'm not working but I'm still gettin' a paycheck me", the " I have three looooong monthes stretching out before me me". Amazing how much I accomplished and how little I accomplished in those three monthes. Now, the rubber meets the road. Am I a true blogger or just a "fair weather friend" blogger? Only time will tell.
Thanks to one of my "new favorite people", Maggie Reads, I've been "Susie Reads" th is summer. Thanks to a looming 50th birthday, I've been "Susie walks then tries to run". Those are two things I desperately want to take with me into the fall.I've loved reading the book reviews, learning the lingo (I, too, have a long "TBR" list now that I know what that means.), visiting blogs from all over the world. This is thanks to Maggie who I view as kind of a local celebrity at the school. She won this GREAT award last week and I just stood up, cheered and tried to whistle. That girl has some charisma and an extra dose of talent! Proud to know her.
So, this may be my last entry until next May and the next Southern Reading Challenge.....but I sure hope not! Anybody else shocked that school is back in session? Anybody else wondering if they can keep up the "good stuff" from a summer break?

Saturday, August 9, 2008

I Finally Know Why Old Men Like To Drive Slow Pickups With The Windows Rolled Down

I've started a new thing. It's yet to be determined if it's simply a knee jerk reaction to approaching fifty. In May I began walking again(as exercise, not because I've been crippled or anything). It has evolved into an attempt to turn that effort into running. I've even bought a great book on beginning running(which I will review here later). Right now, this week, the ratio is run 1 minute/walk 2 10x. There is a wonderful afterglow when you leave the track. You want to extend the experience. Yesterday I took "cool down" to a new level.
Climbing into my gas guzzling SUV I set out on a "country man" drive down some of my favorite rural roads. First, I rolled down all the windows,turned off the radio and slowed it down to 30mph. What a beautiful world exists just five minutes from where I live. Guineas,chickens,doves,geese and the cheerful song of many birds greeted me. Mist remained from a foggy morning that straight edged beams of sunlight constantly fought to get through. Millions of rainbow prisms clung to blades of grass covered with morning dew. Some old cottages were situated close enough to the road that I imagined I smelled what they'd cooked for breakfast that morning. The country is no respector of neighborhood covenants. Rusty trailers,shabby shacks share the same rural route as opulent mansions with manicured entrances.
The most curious thing I saw was a dead white chicken lying neatly on a bed of grass. At first, I thought it was sleeping. I wonder how it died. It didn't look injured or anything. A dozen churches of just as many flavors stand in a one mile radius. Older ladies and gentlemen worked in their gardens and sunflower plots or plodded barefoot down soft dirt driveways to the mailbox. A teenage boy walks down the side of the road. Why isn't he in school?
I don't think I've ever lived in the country but there is a gnawing desire in me to own a plot of land out there. Maybe I'll just take a country drive and sit on my land. Maybe a porch swing will be hung from a strong branch and a stone fireplace built from rocks on the land will warm us as we listen and watch for no particular reason.
I like the thought of starting the second half of life like that. Tell me, what was your fifty like? I'm interested to hear.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Pierce Brosnan doesn't necessarily have to sing for me to enjoy "Mamma Mia"

Just back from seeing the movie "Mamma Mia". For a girl who graduated high school in 1976, you couldn't have given me a better summer movie. I sobbed in this movie..there were some really poignant moments and I laughed so hard, not that it was so funny but that it was so joyful to watch. Now, stay with me, Abba's lyrics really do have some depth! The song "Slipping Through My Fingers" was heartbreaking and so true and "Dancing Queen" made me miss my youth desperately, and I don't usually do that, but I DID want to be "seventeen, dancing queen" again! I wanted to fit right back into my disco clothes, my disco days, my disco moves and just forget I had to grow up!And as for Pierce Brosnan, I have loved that man for years, ever since Remington Steele...and "The Thomas Crown Affair"...lucky Rene Russo!Unusual singing voice he has but who cares? He's just the ultimate romantic lead. I will go see this again and I WILL be buying Abba's greatest hits! Anybody else love the movie?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Bubble Is About To Burst

I've been living in my summertime bubble since 5:08 p.m. on May 16. Just like the opening credits on "Get Smart" where he walks down a hall and steel doors shut behind him.That's how quickly I turn toward my summers,my alter-ego life.But, it's at this time of my vacation I begin to have a few teeny regrets,that maybe I haven't done all I planned to do(this is ALWAYS the case!).I have such a great burst of organizational energy at the beginning. We are planning a renovation which should have begun the first of July. So, in May, I packed up my books, sent truckloads of stuff to second-hand stores and the salvation army. I've been living spartan-like upstairs. I think it's been a good thing. Every few days I realize just how little it takes for me to be happy in a space. I think I'm going to go "all zen" on myself when they finish the upstairs. This will be in direct contrast to my ability to clutter, to keep things just in case.I am my own worst enemy, ya'll! My mind says "zen it up, girl" but my actions say "keep it, keep it, for heaven's sake, keep it!".I could psycho-analyze this behavior as a remnant of being moved around so much as the child of a preacher,the desire to hold on to the familiar. It's daring to live in a minimal way,a radical contrast to what society tells us. I am easily manipulated by advertising and I've found the best cure is to ignore it as much as possible. I try to avoid shopping and am coming into awareness of the detriment of spending too much, having too much. The richness of life should be your interior, not your exterior. Our society is about the labels and the way things look and cost. It can so quickly become our identities.Granted,my most recent blog entry was about the joys of ebay. But for me, that's improvement. I'm trying to go for spending less and I believe the transition is gradual to leaving less of a "materialistic footprint" on earth.Anyone else tired of the manipulation of advertising,tired of all the "stuff"?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I Have Always Been a Late Bloomer

I have always been a late bloomer. Where has this gotten me? Last cheerleader to have a boyfriend in 12th grade(there's a story there, no time now),last one to figure out what was "cool" in college and then to decide I didn't want to be "cool", a little slow on punchlines of get the idea. Well, now, it seems I must be the last person on earth to discover the joys of Ebay! Wow! What a website! You can search for all kinds of's like the biggest world wide web garage sale! Granted, I stay with NWT and NWOT stuff(for the one person on earth who hasn't found ebay yet it means: new, with tag;new, without tag) and I steer clear if the stuff comes from a smoking home. Here's how I beat the system. I go to all the websites of clothes and shoes that I like. I peruse through and get ideas of prices. THEN, when I have ten hours to kill, I will set up all these really specific ebay searches. For example:Coldwater Creek, size (none of your business) black leather jacket with silver buttons and paisley lining and hit that magic little search button and, poof!, there it is! I search jewelry, as I am approaching 50 and feel the need for something meaningful on my finger...not so much a rock, something with words on it or a snippet of a poem or scripture..something to set me up for the next 50 years..well, you can even find that kind of thing on ebay.You have to be careful. I have gotten burned a couple of times but mostly it was my fault. The picture of the shoes I won only vaguely resembled the hooker stilettos that came in the mail. Imagine explaining that to the Salvation Army lady when I donated them.(It is a small town I'm living in.)For the most part, it's been great. I just love a good bargain. Wanna know what I'm bidding on right now? Okay:a North Face(nwt)backpack for son;these gorgeous cranberry pumps that will match the Chico indigo dress I got on ebay last week,some black clark privo's(nwt),a chunky turqoise bracelet(originally on QVC)...well, at the risk of sounding shallow and materialistic I'll stop these shenanigans for now. Anybody else in love with ebay?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Night The Lights Went Out In Mississippi

Okay, that's a take on the song "that's the night when the lights went out in Georgia". I am reading "The Power of Now" and it is profoundly affecting my daily life. If you check out my shelfari you'll see several books on the contemplative life. I have been practicing centering prayer for over a year. After strong urging from a friend, I have started reading the "now" book. It is amazing the correlation between Tolle's book and the spiritual writers such as Merton,Pennington and Keating.It has served as an enhancement to the daily awareness I am working on in my life. It's a bit to "new agey" for me but when I began to pencil in the "cp" lingo for what he was talking about, it came together. All we have is now..I know, all of you probably have already gotten this wisdom point about life, but I'm still working on it.
When I was little we would sing a song at church:"We have this moment to hold in our hands and to touch as it slips through our fingers like sand. Yesterday's gone and tomorrow may never come, but we have this moment today."(words by Gloria Gaither)It's interesting to me that staunch southern baptists, new agers and those seeking a contemplative life have threads of similarity about them.
So, what's this got to do about my blog title? Last night my son was at a friend's house, so it was just me, mom and dad. We were watching "The Bucket List" when the lights went out. What I found(and once again, the readers probably already know this) was that when media crutches are removed, conversation is so much better. We had the best time just talking. I even did the redneck thing, got in the suv and drove around looking for where the transformer blew(it was one street over and a tree had fallen on it). Talk about a movie set. Big lights on poles, enough emergency vehicles for a natural disaster and rubberneckers like me. Honestly, I could have just sat in my car and watched the whole process.Would I have the strength to pull the plug on our media? Interesting that that's what I think it would take to do it. It's something to contemplate.It's what I'm thinking about in the "now". I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Harry Crews is not a "beach read"!

Those of you who have read Harry Crews probably already know this! Wow, do I love his writing, but I find it more conducive to read him at home in Mississippi...on my porch....listening to crickets...with silence to think about what he has to say. I almost titled this blog "You can't speed read Harry Crews",because that's what I've found also. Reading Crews is like having your foot on the accelerator...sometimes you can speed ahead and sometimes you need to take your foot off completely, come to a complete stop and think about a character or a situation he's described. Rich reading to me.
So, needless to say, I stopped reading him at the beach and picked Elizabeth Berg's "Until the Real Thing Comes Along". Not her best one, because I didn't like the ending. Very unsatisfying for this single mom to read. Basically, she's in love with a gay man. He "came out" while he was in a relationship with the main character. She is still in love with him and the whole book is about her trying to get over him and then they have child together and well you get the idea. I think if you are going to read while you are at the beach, there should be a happy ending. I mean, you are smack dab in the middle of a happy ending in your life, right? I mean, you ARE at the beach for a week! So, why spoil it by reading about unrequited love and angst. I am writing about this because I never understood a "beach read" until this vacation.
After the Berg book I read "Bed and Breakfast". Now that's a real beach read. Totally mindless, don't have to invest yourself in the fate of the characters too much but with just enough substance to keep you distracted.
Jo Ellen spoke so highly of Dorothy Sayers, that's on my library list next. Will start a P D James tonight and maybe another Greg Iles.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Cousin Camp-2008-Details

Ah, what can I say about Cousin Camp? The idea came from my aunt,my mom's only sibling, several years ago. It began as a weeklong time for her to spend with her 8 grandchildren. At the time, her oldest daughter was moving around with her family while her husband finished a medical residency in radiology. My aunt saw this as a time that the cousins could get to know each other.Later,my aunt invited my mom and her only grandchild(my son) to join them.In the first few years it wasn't as much fun to us adults(the five "first cousins"), due to the young ages of the children(the nine "second cousins",diaper age to 6th grade).Much time was spent watching them in the pool,making sure they had naps,didn't wake up at the crack of dawn etc. The fellowship between the adult cousins,parents of these kids,was great, though.It always has been. This year there was an ease about it in the best way.
The two oldest graduated from high school in May. One in Tennessee and one in Arkansas. Of course, we all traveled to see both graduations, a week apart.These two oldest cousins STILL wanted to come to cousin camp!
There's food all over the place.One refrigerator holds only soda,bottles of water and gallons and gallons of their favorite ice creams and popsicles. The other fridge is weighed down with all our "favorites". The parents usually bring a new food discovery..maybe a dip or a main dish or a dessert. Food is one of the centers of the week.
Sunday night is opening night. We have the cousin camp t-shirt "reveal". It's a secret until that night. There is always a scripture that is the theme of the week. This year:Christ in you, the hope for glory. Artwork on the tee came from our Lutheran cousin's church parament. Suffice it to say, it did look VERY Lutheran. My first Lutheran looking t-shirt, whatever that means!Usually, it's homecooking for that meal. We also have a time of devotion and singing. The two oldest boys play guitar and my son added keyboard percussion with me on the piano. We sing mainly praise choruses along with maybe a couple of more in depth christian songs. My aunt sees this week as a chance to share our faiths with each other, which we do in our own individualistic ways. Denominations include:southern baptist,lutheran,non-denominational and presbyterianUSA.We have devotional time twice a day. I am always amazed at the creativity we all possess. Though the "elder grandmothers" feel the need to preach a little,we parents strive to keep it contemporary. My favorite is usually done by my cousin's wife. Last year she fed us a snack of coke in a bottle with peanuts in it and we sat outside and chilled out the way we should with God. I made a labyrinth of birdseed outside to show how there is one way in and one way out..that it was a clear path, though it has twists and turns. I loved watching the little ones tiptoe through it during the week.
We go bowling,converge on our favorite chinese restaurant,have a group picture in t-shirts at some local picturesque location and our most indulgent cousin takes them to rent movies and videogames and nail polish and make-up.Make no mistake, my aunt ALWAYS reminds us adults that this is the kids week, they get whatever they want, whenever they want. If it's five bowls of ice cream,they get it.
I guess our favorite thing, the one that makes us laugh the most, is the badminton tournament. It's set up behind the pool, so you can float and watch the action. Mixed doubles and singles winners get trophies as does best dressed on court.We added best sportsmanship this year.The most intense match is ALWAYS between first cousin adult Bill and second cousin twins Matt and Andy, fiercest of competitive athletes(and 11 years old).
Our family loves to laugh and we do a lot of it during the week.And now that the kids are older, WE get the naptime..HA!
Everyone chips in on kp duty. One night is taco night, another pie night(that's a long story),another pizza night. We snack all day on produce from the farmer's market as well as different things we each make to share with each other.
The catalysts that keep it running are my aunt and cousin. They spend all year planning and stockpiling and praying it will be a wonderful week. The prayers work because it always is.It may sound like a form of church camp, but it's really not. We are trying to plant our faith for our children, but just as important for me is that it gives my "only child" child siblings for his life, while I'm still living and when I'm gone. It's a great comfort to know that strength of family relationships continues through the years whether we see each other much or not.Much bonding happens during our time together. I am grateful to my aunt for her vision and her generosity and to the richness of the tapestry of my life by knowing my family so well.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Cousin Camp-2008

I just spent a week in Tennessee at my aunt's house for Cousin Camp 2008. Tomorrow I leave for the beach for a week. When I return, I'll give you the scoop. Here's the teaser: 16 cousins meet for one week for fellowship,food,music,killer badminton tournaments(complete with trophies),swimming,sleeping and, above all, eating. It's a week that's hard to describe. There are two sisters(my mom and my aunt) who had five children who had nine children.Added to this mix is one brave spouse and a various assortment of grandparents who dropped in and out during the week.Age range: 9 to 73!I'm still on a high from it and am finding it difficult to transition to packing for the beach. I'm on sensory overload for sure!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

A Night in Clarksdale-Madidi

So, I'm back from a great dinner out with great friends last night.Madidi is a restaurant in Clarksdale Mississippi owned by Morgan Freeman, the actor, and Bill Luckett, a local attorney.It's located in downtown Clarksdale, which shows signs of wear and tear from the "high cotton" days it used to enjoy.Friends Sam,Joellen and Rosie joined me for dinner. There is a great wine list and the waiter made knowledgable suggestions for each course. I stuck with my Michelob Ultra. I love to play "against type". HA!Anyway, here's what we ate: bread salad with tomatoes,fresh mozzarella and vinaigrette dressing. Here was the disappointment: the bread part was like these croutons you buy in the store. Joellen and I discussed how we usually make ours with chunks of french bread...more bread than salad. The balance at Madidi was more salad than bread. Perhaps this wouldn't have been such a downer if I hadn't been realllly holding back on my bread carbs this month. I was ready for some chunks of bread, I'm tellin' ya! So, on to the entrees. I had: a 16oz in the bone ribeye with, at first, the house steak sauce...which tasted like A-1(which I hate) so I sent for bearnaise sauce instead. Rich, so a little went a long way. My dish was accompanied with steamed baby green beans and HUGE stalks of asparagus in lemon butter. Sam had:the largest pork chop I've ever seen. It was breaded and stuffed with cheese. His side was collard greens. Joellen had:the 8 oz filet with asparagus and not sure what else. Rosie had:pepper crusted yellow fin tuna with stir fried rice, steamed vegetables and the three medallions of tuna were presented on a bed of greens. Joellen and Sam had dessert. Sam had: a chocolate thing with ice cream on it...(okay, I am NO restaurant reviewer...just a normal person trying her best to remember what we ate). Joellen had Grand Marnier Creme Brulee. I finished my Michelob Ultra for dessert because I had hoped we would end the night at Morgan Freeman's blues club down the street. However, conversation was so good, so interesting,so much fun...we talked instead going to hear the blues. Hopefully, another night, we'll return for the blues portion of the evening.No Morgan Freeman sighting last night though his partner, Bill Luckett, ate at the table next to us. Save your pennies, it's expensive, but if you do it right you can have a great meal for around $50.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Coming soon! A review of Morgan Freeman's Restaurant "Madidi" in Clarksdale MS!

Heading to Clarksdale tonight for much anticipated dinner at "Madidi", Morgan Freeman's restaurant venture in Clarksdale MS. Details soon!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Crazy in Alabama by Mark Childress-A Review

I am almost embarassed by my review of Childress' "One Mississippi". It was such a shallow review. I only talked about what struck me deeply, the main character. There were many storylines that I neglected to talk about. I didn't realize I had done that until I read "Crazy in Alabama", also by Childress. Maybe it's because he addressed the racial conflicts so much more thoroughly in "Crazy", but I got his messages loud and clear this time around! The two main voices in the book, Aunt Lucille and Peejoe, could have represented two entirely different books. I'm not sure why he superimposed them together other than the fact that what happened in Industry, Alabama was so intensely violent, sad and regretful that to keep from plunging into a depression everytime yet another black person was senselessly murdered, you could focus on the surreal life of Aunt Lucille. I believe Childress is a skilled writer. This storyline in the hands of a lightweight could have been disastrous! What happened, instead, was that I came away from the book with a much clearer understanding of what happened all those years ago in Alabama during the days of Martin Luther King and protest marches and segregated swimming pools and restaurants. Childress made it seem like yesterday, but in a good way, in that he presented a subject we've all studied and discussed and observed in a fresh light, a new angle, perhaps a more thorough and personal view of an age old conflict.I am interested to hear the impressions of others who have read this book. I wonder if I am dead on or I missed the boat. Anybody?

Friday, June 20, 2008

One Mississippi by Mark Childress-A Review

Well, all you have to do is take one look at my music list on my blog to know I would LOVE this book! First, it's set in the era of my high school years. Pop culture references abound and lull you into a real comfort zone. His writing reminds me of a cross between Ferrol Sams(one of my faves) and Willie Morris(another fave) with a little Pat Conroy(a la The Great Santini) thrown in. There is something about familiarity with a location that moves you faster into a story. I recognized a lot of the street names he mentioned in the book and lived in a couple of the same towns he featured.The hilarious storyline dealing with the original Christian musical written by the baptist music leader of the local church was truer than I wanted to admit. A surreal part of the book, for sure. Childress is a great storyteller. I started the book around lunchtime yesterday and finished up before supper. How's that for southern bookends to a reading afternoon? So grateful that teaching affords such a vast luxury of time in the summers.I thought he dealt with his characters in a pretty thorough way, especially the main character. The ending (after the jarring, surprising "pre" ending)left you wanting to know more about this family. If you like the style of the writers I listed above, you will enjoy this book. A perfect way to spend a lazy summer afternoon in the air-conditioning.Going to the library tomorrow to grab the rest of the books he's written.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Sex and the City is not a southern book

I am finding that I blog all sorts of things here. Especially helpful was the You Tube blogging instructional I watched on Maggie Reads. This week I have seen the movie "Sex and the City" two times in a row. I mean I went to see it Monday and went back to see it yesterday. Now, here's the thing. Don't let the title or reputation of the series keep you away. Also don't let the nudity and gratuitous sex keep you away. I mean, nudity isn't a bad thing, but it was overkill I thought. And that's about the only negative thing I have to say about it. If you've ever had a bad ending to a relationship, (and if you haven't you are in denial or are very, very young), you need to see this movie.What kept me wanting more of the movie was the stark reaction the characters had to being badly treated by a man. It was very realistic, yet it wasn't cynical. The movie acknowledged that, yes, a woman does need and want to be loved by a man. No, it is not any fun to be without a man your entire life. Yes, men can improve the quality of your daily life. No, you do not have to be attached at the hip.Yes, you need to be wise but you also need to forgiving, able to self-entertain and not depend on them for your all the time happiness. It also really stressed the necessity of forgiveness when they have behaved badly. We put men on a prince charming pedestal. They are human just like we are. I think women put blinders on about their own flaws sometimes and just focus on the flaws of their men. I love this: "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." Sometimes women have such defense systems built up within them to keep from getting hurt. Well, life is just gonna hurt you sometimes. No one is immune. I have always heard that whatever gets on your nerves in someone else, is quite possibly one of your character flaws,too. It's a good thing to keep in mind. I think if we just remember that men are not the be all end all key to happiness. They are meant to be our friends, supporters and lovers. We are in charge of our happiness.I am a work in progress on this front, but this movie helped crystalize some of my thoughts. What do ya'll think?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Summer getting in the way of reading.

Here I sit with two books burning in my hands to read. I am dying to read them, to curl up on my soft green couch with the air conditioner full blast and lose myself in them, to savor them. Instead, what have I been doing? Cleaning out closets, taking an embarrasing amount of junk to Salvation Army. Readying myself and my place for a little "storm damage renovation".I hate it when things lure me from my books. I'm the one that does it to myself, can't blame anyone else.When I started this blog thing, I was such a purist! I think I checked out like 20 books the first week. Of course, I never got through all of them. Son gone to scout camp this week,clutter going down by the day, so this may be the week, ya'll! When I get back on track! Now, I'm going to the movies Monday, working at school the next two days...sooo, Thursday it is! Thursday is the marathon, savor it while you read it day.
Ecology of a Cracker Childhood, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek(half way through already). I am scheduling a reading the summer! Ridiculous, but hope I'm not alone in this struggle. Look for a "cracker"jack review next weekend!:)

Monday, June 9, 2008

Munching on southern pecans reviewing a pair of books I read this weekend

Sitting here on a Monday morning munching on pecans I won in the weekly blog drawing. Thanks Maggie! I did a marathon read yesterday and finished up both "Run" by Ann Patchett and "The Secret Life of Bees" by Sue Monk Kidd. Eyes are still bloodshot from late night of finishing these two books. I was reticent while reading "Run" for a long while. I don't know why. I guess I was put off by the large print version I was reading. I found it distracting, but it was the first available copy.I liked the book "okay". I don't know why I never really allowed myself to open up to the characters. I remember reading "Bel Canto" when it came out a few years ago. I had a similar reaction to the writing style then, though I enjoyed "BC" more than "Run". I guess I just wasn't in the mood to read about yet another privileged east coast family suffering in their mansions with loads of cash. There! I said it! Perhaps it's the middle class in me that chafes me when the "old Bostonian money folks do something noble with their lives" storyline emerges. I just never mustered up much sympathy or interest in any of them. The most interesting character, of which the writer spent the least time on, was Sullivan, the black sheep(and only white child)of the family.
"The Secret Life of Bees" was polar opposite in setting and writing style. I grew up reading Sue Monk Kidd's contributions to "Guidepost" magazines.In ways, this was a hindrance to reading the book. I kept waiting for a traditional Christian take on the life of Lily. It never came, which caused me to have to go back and rethink my preconceived notions of how it all would turn out. I LOVED the beekeeping sisters! What wonderful people! I wish they were real! I loved everything about the bees. Made me want to invest in a hive or two. It was interesting the way Lily's parents were so flawed...that they remained flawed to the end, that Lily's peace was found in spite of no changes in her parents. When the absent mother was finally humanized, she wasn't spic and span clean. Kidd left her flaws and that was interesting to me and opened me up to thinking of resolutions to life that don't deliver perfection.We are spoiling ourselves if we only read the "happy ending" stuff. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE a happy ending, but it's good to step out of that and open yourself to alternatives. It's a good transfer to our real lives.

Friday, June 6, 2008

The Mercy of Thin Air-haiku

Here's my haiku for "The Mercy of Thin Air"
New Orleans ghost girl
Livin' twixt heaven and earth
Released from limbo.

The Mercy Of Thin Air-my review

I finished reading "The Mercy of Thin Air" by Domningue Ronlyn a couple of weeks ago. Due to my challenged technology brain, I am now attempting a brief review,hoping it will actually land on Mr Linky, whatever the heck that is! So, first of all, I am a sucker for all things New Orleans. Memories from childhood walking down Bourbon Street with my head as far down as I could get it watching my feet walk down the street so as not to see what I discovered when I was older walking down Bourbon Street with my head lifted up!My parents were looking for "The Chaplain of Bourbon Street" at the time. Yes, he was a real person and that's how this southern baptist family ended up on Bourbon Street. Probably not the childhood memory my parents hoped I'd remember, but such is life.
Anyway, I digress...sorry! Loved this book for many reasons. A compelling love story with all the elements...passion,tragedy,wealth,family love,set in 1920's New Orleans bridging over to present time New Orleans. Her descriptions of fragrances and tastes and architecture and a time long gone kept me drawn to the story to the very end. It was easy to fall into her book. Once you settle what's present and what's past that she's writing about, you can follow the storyline. If you love New Orleans half as much as I do the beignets and coffee and street cars and street music and shopping and watching the painters at Jackson Square and the poboys at hole in the wall places and mimosas at jazz brunch at Court of Two Sisters and the sound the horses drawing carriages make clip clopping on the brick streets and the glimpses into private courtyards as you walk down side streets...well, you get the'll love this book!

Do Diet Books Count?

And now we come to the "lit" I am truly interested in....the ultimate weight loss diet book.Through the years there have been many. They've placed first in the pageant of elusive skinniness I pursue but always...always, they let me down(I don't let myself down, it's the diet book's fault).My first diet was Weight Watchers in the 8th grade. Looking at my pics from that year I realize NOW that I wasn't fat! Yikes!It jumpstarted years of yo-yo-ness in my eating and weight habits. I was always motivated by a "cute boy" from high school on but now, as I approach 50 and have weathered a divorce...hmmmm...I'm having a hard time using that as motivation any longer..HA!So I tried the "love yourself just as you are" route...which is healthy emotionally but I REALLY wanted to see my feet again when I stood up. I miss seeing my feet. My ankles are actually two of the skinniest things about me!
So, I'm an apple. In case you are wondering and you were raised under a rock, women now categorize their size by a fruit:pears carry it low, apples carry it in the middle, celery...first of all, that's a veggie and second of all, who is going to have sympathy for someone lean and skinny but without curves...sounds like a whiner to me!Actually, my goal is to be a celery! So, being the consummate googler that I am, one night I googled "people who want to lose a fat belly" and up comes "The Flat Belly Diet" by Prevention magazine. Of course, one of my more astute friends asked "Ummm, aren't ALL diets lose belly fat diets?" She is a skinny bitch, but I love her. For some reason, it kicked in...okay, kicked in this past Monday. I know, I's still too early to tell. Here's the bottom line: I lost 2 inches in my waist and 5 and 1/2 pounds since Monday! That's FOUR DAYS! I walked 1.2 miles a day in my new "tennie shoes". I am loving the food. You eat four 400 calorie meals a day and it is satisfying. It's based on a Mediterranean diet...olive oil, nuts,avocados,lots of fresh vegetables and fruits,fish, chicken,feta and goat cheese.You drink this stuff called "sassy water" and it's SO good! Here's how you make it(thanks to the Flat Belly Diet book people):
Sassy Water:
to a pitcher of water add:
1 cucumber peeled and thinly sliced
1 lemon thinly sliced
tsp of grated ginger(I'm not a good grater so I just thinly slice some ginger root)
fresh mint
Let it steep overnight and drink in place of, here's the rub, everything else you've been drinking(this includes the Michelob Ultra I've acquired a summer taste for)
Actually, I don't even have a hard copy of the diet book, yet. I have this Prevention magazine "special" I got checking out at Wal-Mart on Sunday. In keeping with the blogging theme of the summer, you can even sign up with them online and track your inches and weight loss on a grid. It tells you % of weight loss and body fat loss...tells your BMI(that tells you how REALLY REALLY fat you are, be strong before you take that on, is all I'm saying!)
Women in search of a flat belly(or a relatively flat belly in my case)unite!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Take a break from thinking kind of reading

Okay, after knocking out two of my three southern reads(Mudbound and The Mercy of Thin Air) I decided to lighten up so I read my first Iris Johannsen(sic?) book. Loved it. Read most of it floating around in a swimming pool with 70spf sunscreen. So glad to find pool lit, ya know? Simultaneously, I am reading "Run" by Ann Patchett. It's a little pretentious, so far, but what can I expect after reading a suspense novel, huh? Ah well, it takes all kinds. I'm so glad I'm past the age of reading something just to "drop the name of it". I read for almost complete enjoyment now(outside of work, that is) and it is a relief! I used to read books simply because they were on the NY Times bestseller list. Granted, there are some great books to be read from that list,but it should be the book, not the prestige or "it's the latest thing/fad" that causes me to read.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

"8 Pecan Corner" is the name of my homeplace

Finally, after more info from Maggie, I have figured out how to enter the "Name your Homeplace" contest. First of all, my dad was a Southern Baptist Preacher sooooo, we moved around....A LOT!!We finally started some true family roots when I was in the 11th grade(1974). We bought the house I now refer to as home.There are a lot of cool things about this house.
I am a musician and, back in the 30's and 40's the original owner of the home taught all the little children in town piano lessons. One day a couple of summers ago a lady brought us a little bud vase by. This piano teacher had given it to her before she died. It was the bud vase that always sat on her piano while she taught her lessons here. It is a treasured part of our home now.
In 1978, Mom and Dad did a major renovation of the old house. The attic was enlarged to contain a large suite, loft-like in nature, of rooms. They kept the eaves, added two skylights and a master bath and that's where they retreated as they raised two teenaged girls. We were downstairs, they were upstairs...a perfect solution!
In 1998, I divorced and Mom and Dad offered that same upstairs suite to my 4 year old son and I...a haven from a stormy time in life.
My roots run so deep in this place! First, because for so many years I had no roots. Second, because at the most desperate time in my life, it's doors opened again to me to offer rest and healing.
Now, I'm not sure if this is a good thing or not, it would take a truckload of dynamite to blow my southern "tush" out of this place!
I've always called it "the yellow house with the red door" but the other day I was outside walking around looking at all the pecan trees in the yard and I started counting them. There are eight right now. Last year there were nine, but something got one of 'em. The roots of those tall trees sure are deep as I feel my emotional roots are to this most sacred of places. I've named it "8 Pecan Corner"...simple really, 8 pecan trees on a corner lot.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Searching for a new book "muse"

I am stuck! After reading two great books in a row (The Mercy of Thin Air and Mudbound) I am dissatisfied with every thing I pick up! I have been forcing myself to read "Once Upon A Nervous Breakdown" by Patrick Sanchez(which I paid for, by the way!) and I just can't do it anymore. I don't care if I did buy it on a whim at Anxiously awaiting the opening of the library in the morning where three or four potential books await!I've read on several blogs about Mary Kay Andrews, so one of her Savannah books is on hold, The Secret Life of Bees is there as is one or two more. Hopefully, I will have a more upbeat entry next time. Reading is like a craving to me! I crave reading, I always have! From the time I was a little girl, I would read anything! I remember bookmobiles in the summer, and visiting my grandmother and reading anything she had.I still have original copies of many of the Maud Hart Lovelace "Betsy book" series. My mom read them when she was young and passed down the love of Betsy, Tacy and Tib to me. I am still the same way, but teaching kind of takes the spontaneity out of it for me. May is my grace period, my "personal life brain cells" come alive. I am so thankful!I hope to read away my summer days until my eyes are bloodshot!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Mercy of Thin Air-descriptive excerpts-fragrances

"She opened the doors. As she reached inside to inspect the shelves, she breathed deeply. A comforting aroma,almost a blend of pipe smoke and cinnamon, surrounded her."

"As I opened the letter from Yale, I let a part of him escape. Andrew's scent infused me, a clean metallic brine that deepened with heat."

" I pick a honeysuckle blossom and touch it to my nose. No matter how deeply I breathe, the scent doesn't fulfill my want for it. The narrow petals dally against my lip. I stare at the slender elegant well and pinch the base from which it grew. Slowly, the stamens emerge. I take the bead of nectar on my tongue. For a moment, the smooth liquid aroma satisfies me. Soon, there is a pile of spent blossoms on my lap."

"'What broke?'Twolly didn't look up.
'The pretty necklace you made for me.' Her cotton nightgown swished as she squirmed within it. I smelled Ivory soap,peppermint, and tree bark."

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

"The Mercy of Thin Air" by Ronlyn Domingue

"The Mercy of Thin Air" by Ronlyn Domingue. There it is, the first southern book I am officially reading for this summer. Oh my goodness! Set in Louisiana, it deals with Razi, someone who is "in between" life and eternity. Domingue has an uncanny way of describing all those unforgettable southern fragrances that are in our every day lives. One reason I love living at 2o3 Boothe Street is because I spent my teenaged years here. Certain flowers blooming remind me of the May that I graduated from high school. The sounds of May remind of that sweet first love walking me to the door after a date during that same "senior summer". This book is hard to put down and is so much more than a "mystery". Beautifully written, must leave blog for now to continue reading it!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Arrrgh! My home computer is messing with my mind! Please don't think me rude when I don't respond to your comments. My new found "friend", my blog, is inaccessible from home computer right now. Calling in techno geniuses to fix it in the next few days! So far I've begun reading "Lost Souls"(underwhelming me despite the reviews), "Garden Spell"(semi-underwhelming me despite the reviews) and "The Year of Living Biblically"(love it, but not southern based....see? I'm cheating already!) Hope everyone has a wonderful summer and I look forward to being back "on blog" from home soon!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Friday night in Como

If you notice there are two Stark Young novels on my list. This was generated by a conversation at the lovely Como Bed and Breakfast for the Fine Arts Division end of year dinner. Dan Smith was our gracious(as usual) host who shared with me that Stark Young was from Como and that "Heaven Trees" was one of his most well known novels. We walked over the railroad tracks to view the stunning/striking sculptures of Sharon(last name escapes me).Plaster casts of blues musician faces are lined up on closet shelves. More southern stories continued,as her home was formerly owned by Tallulah Bankhead's aunt. Word on the street is that the turret room is haunted. If you have a chance, check out Como. What a cool, hip place, ya'll!
Other books I am considering are thanks to Maggies links...somewhere along the way I picked up these titles there: Garden Spell and Lost Souls. Shelby Foote is on the list because I've never read him before and he lived just up the road in Memphis.
FINALLY! MIRACULOUSLY! I made it to the weekend and to the library! Going to attempt to do a sidebar thing to give you my list, or partial list that I want to choose from.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

If I can just get to the weekend and think I will find the perfect "first summer book" to read!

I am chomping at the bit to devote some focus to this blog and to my reading. Fortunately, I don't have "miles to go before I sleep". I thought I would share with ya'll a little superstition that I indulge in every school year. With the first step into the Fine Arts building at the beginning of the year I say, in reference to the summer,"As soon as it began, it was over." and as I take my last step out of the building next Friday(after TWO graduations) I will say the same exact thing, "As soon as it began, it was over." I have done this for years and this is the first time I've ever told anyone. It gives me closure to the the end of summer and the end of the school year. I always say both with a surprised smile on my face and a chuckle.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

We are learning to blog in a group setting. Very interesting and I am so glad I'm learning this and not trying to teach this! Way to go, Maggie!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Getting my feet wet in the land of blogging

I have no idea how this works. This begins because I am joining a summer southern literature discussion group via a blog. That's it for now!