Monday, December 11, 2017

Happenings and Thoughts

Rich and I went to see the Goo Goo Dolls perform in a radio station holiday show last week in Worcester.  When this show popped up back in September, I was excited that my favorite band was playing so close to home but underwhelmed with the radio station bit.  In my experience, radio station shows are hit or miss.  Bands sometimes don't like playing them.  Their set lists are cut short and the venue is crowded with all the other performers, crew and equipment.  I did some research and it looked like it could be decent (tiny hall and not many acts) so I told Rich if I could get good seats then we would go.  I was logged on and ready for action the minute tickets went on sale and was pleasantly surprised when 8th row appeared on my screen.  Thank you very much.

I first saw this band live 19 years ago and instantly, I was addicted.  I was right up front and there was so much energy radiating from the stage.  I chased that high traveling to show after show after show.  I quickly made new friends and engaged in new experiences.  Gah, that was such a long time ago.  Last week, it felt like I had come full circle with my love for this band.  John was extremely animated and in a great mood, and the music, what we're ultimately there for, was fantastic.  They played an "almost" acoustic set, which at times was too big for the hall, and reminded me of earlier years.

Our 8th row seats were the closest Rich has ever been to the stage.  We did move up to about the 3rd row near the end due to lack of security.  Actually, the security situation was interesting to observe.  In less than 30 seconds, anyone from the audience could have easily been on that stage.  My mind traveled back to memories from 15+ years ago when the crowd surged forward during every show.  I was expecting to witness that rush to the stage, but, apparently, we've all grown too old and compliant, and the band's fan base has changed.

I've told Rich that the show is different depending on where you are in relation to the stage.  I've sat in the front, I've sat in the back, and everywhere in between.  Now, after being close, he agrees.  A friend of mine who used to work for the GGD once asked me and my friend why we liked to be up front.  We responded with, "To see and to be seen." (insert laughing/crying emoji)  The "to be seen" part doesn't really apply any longer.  

With everything going on, I didn't really give much thought to what I was going to wear to the show until the day before.  Because my typical day consists of picking the girls up from school, running errands and hanging out at the dance studio, I usually wear jeans, sneakers/comfy boots and a t-shirt with a fleece.  Allie calls my style comfy/cozy.  Who am I trying to impress?  For the girls' parent/teacher conferences, I dressed in a business casual with jeans outfit.  When Allie saw me, she exclaimed, "Wow! You must be trying to impress our teachers."  (insert laughing/crying emoji again)  (Speaking of parent/teacher conferences, I had easy ones once again.  All three had great report cards for this term!)

I started overthinking my concert outfit choices after the last two casino shows Rich and I attended.  I noticed a fair amount of women my age (plus or minus 5 years) were mostly dressed in the same kind of outfit: tight jeans, a black top and black outdated shoes.  Whenever I overthink my outfit selection, I always remember these words of wisdom from my high school friend when a group of us went to see NKOTB several years ago.  "It doesn't matter.  No one is going to see you."  I had been out of control busy at work leading up to that NKOTB weekend, which also happened to be the girls' dance recital weekend, and had about 20 minutes to change clothes and get ready before a friend picked me up.  So while the "no one is going to see you" wasn't entirely true this time around as we were seeing a friend of mine, her advice does hold up.  As long as you don't look like a slob, you're comfortable and feel cute, it doesn't matter.  

12.11a

I'm bummed that I haven't been able to run for more than two weeks now.  After the post-Thanksgiving 5k road race, I was really pumped to get back into it and increase my speed work (slowly, of course.)  A few hours after the race, I began coughing.  I could feel something in my lungs and thought it was from running in the cold in a t-shirt.  Nope, it was that virus/cold going around.  I ran through the last cold I had because it was mainly sinus congestion, but this one had a nasty cough so no running.  I'm slowly getting better and the cough is gone but it's still lingering.  I'm going to have to jump on the treadmill this week though because three weeks is just too long.

12.11b

At the girls' request, we picked out our tree early this year.  One of my favorite things about this time of year is the smell of Christmas trees.

12.11c
Shot from the hip.

12.11d

12.11e

Have your kids had to dissect owl pellets at school?  When I was in the fourth grade, I dissected a cow's eye.  So I have no owl pellet experience.  Owl pellets are what's undigested and coughed up by the owl.  Think animal fur and bones.  Yeah, so that didn't bother me too much.  When we pulled off the baseboards at our antique home, I found plenty of mouse skeletons and I wasn't overly grossed out.  Allie and Emily had the pleasure of dissecting owl pellets last week.  I think one of them was more grossed out than the other.  They told me all about it on the way home and then Emily says, "When we were done, I had fur all over my shirt."  WHAT?!?!  I made them both change clothes.  Now I was grossed out.  Apparently, everyone had fur on their clothes.  All I could think of were diseases carried by animals but, supposedly, these things are sterilized before the kids touch them.  I don't know how.  But, yeah, that's my gross story of the day.

But, look.  Cute animals.

12.11f

Ballet class photos taken through the parent-viewing window, which is a one-way mirror on the other side.

12.11g

12.11h

12.11i

12.11j

The moon looked super cool and I happened to have my camera with me.  No tripod though.

12.11k

Good night.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Cape in December

Water lines have been disconnected at the cottage, the pipes drained.  All that remains in the fridge are a few cans of soda.  Frozen pancakes and pizza need to be transported home before we unplug the refrigerator for the winter.  We can heat the main living space and, on sunny days, the walls of glass doors provide solar heat.  Without water though, it's only comfortable for short visits.  And that's exactly what we did this past weekend.

When my dad and I were there a few weeks ago, I noticed how the gutters were clogged and overflowing with pine needles.  I used the short stepladder on hand and cleaned out as much as I could but it really needed to be addressed before winter.

12.6a

The girls and I hung out on the beach while Rich cleared the gutters.  The sun sets shortly after 4:00 now, which is painfully early.  I pulled my tripod out of the bedroom closet to bring home and then decided to bring it to the beach for some slow shutter photos.  Of course, there were no waves at all.  The ocean is usually not so placid.

12.6b
Hey, I'm in a photo.

12.6c

12.6d

12.6e

12.6f

12.6g

12.6h

12.6i
In the non-curated world.

12.6j

We stopped for dinner on the way home and I realized how much I've missed clam chowder.

12.6k

12.6l

12.6m

Monday, December 4, 2017

What I Read in November

I read four books this month, but you'll find five book reviews below.  One is from October and very similar to a book I had lined up to read last month so I wanted to discuss both books at once.

Let's start with the only fiction I read.



Being a fan of historical fiction, I really enjoyed reading this book.  There are two different perspectives, from two different time periods, which seems common in historical fiction, but I didn't feel like it was filler here.  For historical fiction, a good chunk of the book revolves around a traveling circus in the 1930s and '40s.  To keep the book interesting, there's a family secret that unravels throughout the book.  I don't want to give anything away, but I did find the author's intent clever.  My only negative comment is that in certain parts of the book, character development felt weak.  If you're looking for a new historical fiction book to add to your reading list, I would recommend this one.

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In October and November, I read two books regarding the late 1980s deaths in New Bedford from a suspected serial killer.  I like reading true crime and this particular subject is of interest to me as New Bedford is not too far from where I grew up and where I live today.  I remember bits and pieces of this but really, not much.  Let's just say that during that time period, if it wasn't about New Kids on the Block, I wasn't listening.

These murders remain unsolved today and are quite perplexing.  All of the women were drug addicts and either knew each other or knew someone who knew the other victims.  They also all had some sort of connection to a local attorney.  One of the theories as to why they were all murdered is terrorizing.



I would recommend Shallow Graves over Killing Season.  I felt that Shallow Graves was a more well-rounded book.  The author gives background information on the victims and walks the reader through the police investigation.



Killing Season is a political-type book.  More was written about DA Ron Pina and his life than about the victims.  In some cases, nothing was said at all about the victim except her name and I had trouble keeping track of the victims because of this.  If you're interested in Massachusetts politics, especially from the 1980s and '90s, well, this would be a good read.  I much preferred Shallow Graves though.

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And now for a memoir.



You don't need to be a photographer to enjoy this but as a photographer, I found it inspiring.  Of the most interest to me were her thoughts surrounding photographing her own children.  In the early '90s, she received a bit of criticism regarding her decision to publish nude photos of her children.  In her mind, these photos were art and she never considered that anyone would see them as anything but art.  Well, we're all a bit wiser now.

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Last but not least, another book from the true crime genre.



Christa Worthington's death has popped up as a local news item again.  I believe it's because the man who was convicted of raping and murdering her is now publicly proclaiming his innocence after all these years.  Do I believe he killed her?  No.  Do I think Tim Arnold or Tony Jackett was the murderer?  Nope.

So I started reading this book and after about 20%, I was a bit baffled.  I thought this was a book about Christa Worthington but I was reading about the author's life.  And there was so much freaking detail.  At that point, I checked Amazon and found it had a 2.5 star rating.  Here's the thing - the author is very good at tying what appear to be random pieces of information together.  I understand what she was doing and it did work.
  
I don't think this deserves a 2.5 star rating but I don't really know what to rate it.  I have serious mixed feelings about this book.  I was annoyed with how the author, Flook, openly took jabs at almost everyone and everything.  I told Rich that she obviously wasn't trying to make any friends with this book.  I found it amusing how she grouped all owners of "summer" homes in the "privileged" category and then stated that we call ourselves "nonresident taxpayers."  (Flook had moved to the Outer Cape and lived there when Christa was murdered.)  I laughed at all of this because the town has designated us as "nonresident taxpayers."  We didn't make that up on our own.  Our primary residence is somewhere other than the Cape.  I don't have privilege over the author.  Oh, and the Chatham Bars Inn is not a dive with cloth napkins.  Please, lady!!
 
I also couldn't help but notice how Flook seems to imply how every male is attracted to her.  I did a bit of investigating on the author and now it all makes sense.  She has a memoir out and apparently she and her sister ran away from home as teens because of their mother's narcissism.  That's all I needed to read.

If you want to learn more about Cape Cod, particularly the Outer Cape, and Christa Worthington, or enjoy crime true stories, this would be the book to read.  The author's jabs and other quirks actually add a layer of interest to the book, even though I found it a bit maddening at times.  Unfortunately, this was published prior to the arrest and trial of Christopher McCowen.  I really wish the author hadn't gone so deep into Christa's life.  It felt too intimate, too personal, something we shouldn't be reading.

And speaking of making friends - Tim Arnold sued Flook in 2010 claiming that she implied he killed Christa in her book.  She does portray it that way.  Just saying . . .

   

Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links.  TGUH is a participant in the Amazon Services Associates Program LLC, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Race Report: Stuffed Turkey 5k

If you've been reading here for awhile, you know that my running goals change periodically.  As of late, I've been content to run for me.  I've never been into running races.  In fact, I ran for years and years without ever running a road race.  Until I met Rich.  We run races here and there and that's a good way to describe my participation.  I run in the race but I'm usually not racing because I'm too slow of a runner to even come close to placing.

There was a local 5k this past weekend and because Grammy was able to watch the girls, Rich and I both decided to participate.  Once cooler weather moves in, I move my running indoors.  So this was my last chance to run in a race before the spring.  I was curious to see how I would do.  My running is definitely weaker than it's been in the past   This time though, I wanted to race in a 5k, not simply run 3.1 miles.  There's a difference.  And it didn't matter that I was racing against myself.

The race was in the morning and we lucked out with decent weather.  The temperature was in the mid-40s and warmed up to 50 degrees by the end of the race.  I don't like being cold and had originally overdressed.  I had on cold weather leggings, a short-sleeve t-shirt, a long-sleeve t-shirt and a cold weather hoodie.  The hoodie has a pocket in front which is perfect for filling with tissue.  Gross, I know, but my nose constantly runs when I'm in the cold.  At the last minute, I took off the hoodie and left it in the car.  That was probably the best decision I made.

As with most local races, this one had about 250 runners and walkers.  Rich and I started off closer to the front.  I wanted to avoid that dance around walkers and slower runners.  The one huge negative to treadmill running (for me) is the inability to determine my pace, especially when I move back to running outside.  Our treadmill is not calibrated.  You can guess at your speed but the treadmill screen is not accurate.  I've been running exclusively on the treadmill for a month or so now.

I started off running the race and I had no idea what my pace was.  It didn't feel easy but I wasn't ready to collapse either.  I kept thinking that it had to be faster than a 10 minute mile.  This better be faster than a 10 minute mile.  But how much faster, I didn't know.

We hit the one mile mark and I checked my watch.    

Mile 1 - 8:42

While I was happy that I had run an 8:42 minute mile and I was still moving, I knew that starting off too fast could potentially ruin the rest of the race for me.  I kept telling myself that I just needed to run two 10 minute miles and I would finish below my goal of 30 minutes.  Unfortunately, starting off fast had two negative aspects:
  1. I had probably used energy that I would need later to finish the race strong.
  2. I tend to set a pace and stick to that pace.  It's difficult for me to slow down and speed up.
I tried to slow down my running to a 10 minute mile pace.  I stopped about a half mile later and walked four or five steps to blow my nose.

Mile 2 - 9:13
Subtotal - 17:55

So, apparently, I didn't slow down enough.  Shortly after I passed the 2nd mile marker, my muscles began to rebel.  I stopped running and walked once, then twice, then again.  For years, I had been against walking and while it does tend to throw off my pace, I realize it does have its benefits.  Over the summer, I covered the same distance in a faster time during speed work with walking than I did running 10 minute miles.

I want to note that the last mile of this particular course is a slow incline.  (Sobbing.)

With a little over a half mile left, I suddenly became so hot I had to take that long-sleeve tee off.  I tried to remove it while running and because the sleeves were tight around my wrists and I was wearing a hat, it just wasn't happening.  I stopped moving.  No walking.  Nothing.  All to take that shirt off and tie it around my waist.  That was probably the biggest mistake I made and cost me at least a minute.  It was incredibly difficult to start moving again after that.

To reach the end of the race, you turn off the main road into a driveway/parking lot.  I was out on the main road struggling and not close to the turnoff when I heard the announcer yell out that everyone on the straightaway was looking at a sub-30 finish.  I knew I had blown my goal.  

Mile 3.1 - 12:38

Finish - 30:33
Average Pace - 9:50

Here's the thing - I would have been bummed if I had simply run this race at 9:50 minute miles.  That would have been running, not racing.  I challenged myself and I learned some lessons.  I'm actually enjoying speed work right now (as much as someone can enjoy speed work) and plan to continue.  I know you are suppose to increase your speed as you run and some may think that I would have been better off running 9:50, 9:50 and then 8:42, but I'm not sure I would have been able to pull off an 8:42 minute mile after running two miles.

At least one of us had a good race.  Rich placed 25th overall and 5th in his age group!


(Until I saw this photo, I had no idea that we had unintentionally worn semi-matching outfits.)

My 5k PR is 27:42.  The closest I've come to beating that was in August 2010 with a time of 28:25.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Thankful, etc.

Last week was a bit busy for us, in a good way.  I was at the school both Tuesday and Wednesday to take photos for the yearbook.  The girls participated in a fundraiser at the school and as I watched them, I thought about how thankful I was to be there.  Thankful was the theme of last week after all.  I'm hesitant to say "I'm lucky" to be able to attend school events because while there's always that element of luck of life, my being at home was a result of hard work and planning.

Wednesday afternoon, a friend and I brought dinner to a friend who'd had surgery.  Then the girls and I prepared desserts to bring for Thanksgiving dinner at my brother's house.  Thanksgiving Day was fun.  We had an early dinner and dessert at my brother's and then another round of dessert at Rich's niece's house.  The girls loved playing with their cousins.

11.27a

11.27b

We replaced the couch at the beach cottage at the end of the summer but the old couch was still hanging around.  It was in decent shape, just not the size we wanted/needed.  Last week, Rich tells me he found someone to take the couch but they can only come on Friday and he needs to work.  My first thought goes to the Craigslist Killer.  It can be extremely isolating on the Cape during colder months, especially where the cottage is located.  It turns out he found a charitable organization to take it, but my dad still came with me.  The girls stayed at home and played with two of their cousins.  The cottage is currently without water so I didn't want to drag them along unnecessarily.  I was surprised to see a bit of life in the area.  The handyman who cares for the cottage next door was building a shed all afternoon.

11.27c

The yard, driveway, street are covered in pine needles.  So many pine needles.

11.27d

11.27e

11.27f

11.27g

11.27h

We ended the weekend with the girls' second dance company performance in a local holiday parade.

11.27i
Stop taking pictures, please.

11.27j

We stayed for the tree lighting and hot cocoa, of course.

11.27k

November sure flew by.  I'm not quite yet into Christmas-mode.

11.27l