Sunday, June 29, 2014

Why Couldn't I Have Been Born in Kenya??!!

After fifteen years of marriage, Hubby and I have come to accept the fact that there are certain things that we do well together, as a couple…and there are certain things that are best done alone.

As in running.

Hubby is a Hare. In other words, he runs fast.

I hate him.

He breezes through a mile in 8 minutes…and then has the audacity to not even break a sweat or be winded.

Me, on the other hand…I am a Tortoise. I run slow.

As in very, very, very, very slow.

In fact, I'm not even sure what I do can be considered "running"…I think "plodding" might be more descriptive.

And I sweat. Geesh, do I sweat…as in dripping, soaking, wring my bra out, sweat.

And winded?? Yuppers. I do more huffing and puffing than the Big Bad Wolf, and that's just from putting my spandex shorts and running bra on.


In my defense, I'm a "beginner runner" - as in, I just kinda' started…sorta. I mean, I would run here and there over the last few years, but only when I felt either seriously inspired or seriously fat. My motivation was seriously lacking, and although everything else was very "serious" - I didn't take my running seriously.

That changed this year, when I uncharacteristically ran plodded particularly well in a 4-mile run for charity in April…feeling particularly fast and fearless...and at the finish line, I ran into some girlfriends, and one of them said, "Hey, we should run a Half Marathon this year", and I, experiencing an obvious lack of oxygen to the brain, which made me seriously stupid, and also obviously experiencing a "runner's high", which should totally excuse you from making any life-changing commitments or signing any contracts, because you're obviously not in your right mind, said, "YES! That sounds great!!! Let's DO IT!!!" and when my brain settled back to normal later, and the "runner's high" wore off, left me thinking, "What the HELL did I just commit myself to???!!!"

Anyway. Here I am. Training for an upcoming half-marathon in October.


So…Hubby has decided to join me in this endeavor, which is fine, but we've agreed that we will NOT TRAIN TOGETHER.


Because, I basically hate him that he can run like a Kenyan and make it look effortless, while I pretty much suck a duck and die with every step.

So, this morning, our Torture Training Plan called for us to run six miles.

Bwahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha Okay, breathe Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha

Six miles. Snort.

I dreaded it. Which, according to all the Running Literature, you're not supposed to do. If you dread something, you're less inclined to do it. So I TRIED to not dread it, but trying not to dread something is like trying to convince yourself that spiders and snakes make good house pets, and yeah, ummmm, that's not happening.

So I got up early this morning in a futile attempt to beat the summer heat and humidity, struggled into my running gear and shoes, pointed out the direction that I would be running to Hubby, so that he could run in the OPPOSITE direction, thank you very much, and I took off.

And I survived.

I did it.

I even ran a faster pace than I was expecting, which tickled me to no end…not that I'm anywhere NEAR Hubby's Kenyan-like pace, but hey…a small victory is still a victory.

The Torture Plan calls for a run of SEVEN miles next weekend, so yeah. I'm already dreading it. Although I'll really, really, really try not to all week.

I'll pretend that running seven miles is like eating chocolate while frolicking with a puppy in a field of wildflowers with unicorns….



Wednesday, June 25, 2014

This 'n That Thursday

Some ramblings….

*I love flowers. I especially love THESE flowers that Hubby gave me for my birthday. Aren't the colors just out of this world? If I wanted to be grumpy…which I don't, by the way…but if I DID…how could ANYONE be grumpy with flowers like these in your kitchen??!!

*When I was 16 years old, it took me not once, not twice - but THREE attempts to pass my Driver's License test. (Apparently, I "rolled" through a stop sign on my first try, and "didn't yield" on a left turn on my second try. I protested these infractions, but to no avail. Oh well.)

It was deja vu here in Florida, when it took not once, not twice, but THREE attempts to get our automobiles licensed recently. The first time, we didn't have the original titles with us, and the second attempt, we failed to bring a lien release for one of the cars. GAH. There's nothing I love better than making multiple trips up to the DMV office in Southwest Florida. Imagine our excitement when we finally, FINALLY, got the cars registered. For the silver Mazda, we chose a pretty blue & silver plate with a ferocious shark:

For the Mustang, we chose a colorful "Endless Summer" design with a surfer dude, as we thought that befitting the spirit of our little convertible:

Yay, us! The Florida DMV offices may be a pain in the butt, but they make up for it by offering such pretty choices for our license plates!

*Who knew that Florida basically gets as hot as the surface of the sun in the summer?? I've been attempting to keep up my half-marathon training by running outside, but when you combine the Floridian heat with the ungodly humidity, it's become a suicide mission every time I lace up. Not to mention, the mosquitoes rub their antennae together in glee when they see me coming, as apparently my blood must be better than chocolate to the little bloodsuckers. Gah.

Not to mention - there are cougars and bears and snakes running amok in Southwestern Florida, so I took this photo before a recent run so that Hubby could use it for a "Missing" poster in case I was attacked and dragged off into the swamps by a wild animal. Hey. You never know.

*When Hubby heard me whine complain moan calmly discuss my running problem, he kindly went out and purchased a treadmill for me, in honor of my birthday. To say I am now a happy girl is an understatement - as I can run in the bliss of air-conditioning, as I laugh at the disappointed mosquitoes.

*Because we were "kid-less" on this mini-vacation, Hubby and I indulged in some serious fine dining in the evenings…embarking on some culinary adventures that stretched our taste buds, besides stretching our waistlines:

The famous "Swedge Salad" at the Blue Coyote Supper Club...A fresh crisp wedge of iceberg lettuce topped with house-made bleu cheese, diced tomato and applewood smoked bacon. Nom. Nom. Nom.

Some sort of delicious dessert Hubby devoured at the Kenwood Lane Grille…it was poisoned with gluten, so I couldn't eat it. Drat. Drat. Drat.

The loaded chips at CRaVE restaurant…deliciously messy….

The Flourless Chocolate Cake at the Kenwood Lane Grille…so good, I got it TWICE this week. And I didn't share. So there.

*While dining out, it's nice to have a son back home in Kansas City who can answer - via text - all questions we have regarding diets and such. I'm not sure how Hubby and I got into a debate on whether cavemen ate potatoes and carrots - the two glasses of wine I'd had probably contributed a little to that - but it soon became very important for us to find out, and so we turned to Brainy Brad:

So to those who think our dinner conversation may be boring…well…um…okay, never mind. Moving on.

*Daughter, who is finishing up her third week in her college summer class (even though she's only 14 - gah!), decided that it was imperative for me to know about an anime convention coming in Kansas City this summer. Aren't children wonderful? I can learn about cavemen & potatoes from one kid, and anime from another, all via text:

Gotta love em.



Sunday, June 22, 2014

My Most Idiotic Act Ever

You've seen them…those people that are so stupid, so idiotic, caught doing something that is even BEYOND moronic, usually not ending well….

Often times, these stories make their way to the news, usually because the person was SO dumb, SO idiotic - that their act of stupidity resulted (unfortunately) in their death - or at the minimum, injuries. And we are left shaking our heads, wondering, "How could they have been so stupid???!!" And we mentally pat ourselves on our backs, thinking to ourselves, "Thank God that I'M not that stupid…I would NEVER do something so dumb."


True confession.

I was that stupid idiot last week.

And looking back, I'm left shaking my head, wondering, "How could I have been so STUPID??!! I KNOW better!!!"

Let's back up.

Several days ago, I made a brief solo trip to Orlando, Florida - with the intention of spending a few days at the always-magical (and always-crowded) Walt Disney World. Having a Florida-resident annual pass, I always justify my trips to the House of the Mouse as "saving money" (????), although having seen my credit card statement after these sojourns, I'm not sure how that's true…but it sounds good, right?

So…my first day, I arrive at one of the theme parks at around noon...and due to my somewhat late arrival (any time after 9:00 am is considered "late" in Theme Park World), I'm directed to park my car in Row 46 of the parking lot. Which means I'm 46 rows away from the front entrance…yeah. Basically, the equivalent of a 10k - or six miles. I'm facing a long hike through the sea of cars in order to reach the gates.


If my long trek wasn't daunting enough, the skies have now opened, and there is a TORRENTIAL rainstorm raging, where cats, dogs, - heck, even small children - are falling from the skies. It's raining so hard, and so heavy - that I can't see more than 10" in front of my face.

I'm prepared, though.

A little bit of rain isn't going to keep me from getting my adrenaline rush from a roller coaster - so, donning a poncho, I quickly hop out of my car and began trekking the 150 miles towards the front entrance.

And then it happened.

A quick flash - and then a crack of thunder so LOUD, that I about did a number in my shorts.

Oh, joy. Lightning. I hate lightning. I especially hate lightning in Florida, the Lightning Capital of the World.

I kept walking, though.

And it happened again.

Closer this time.

In fact, the lightning was SOOOO close, that I looked around to see if anyone else was as concerned about this as I was.

And that's when I realized the very scary, and very sobering, fact that I WAS THE ONLY PERSON IN THE PARKING LOT.

Yup. I was truly solo.

Everyone arriving after me was staying safely huddled in their cars for shelter…and all parking lot attendants had hopped on a fast-moving golf cart and had quickly evacuated the parking lot.

I WAS THE ONLY IDIOT BY MYSELF IN A RAGING LIGHTNING STORM DIRECTLY OVERHEAD…and I was now, unequivocally, the tallest object in the parking lot.

Oh crap.

I'm freaked out now. I totally feel like one of those poor targets in a video game, with the laser beam of death pointed right at them. Part of my brain starts thinking, "Will I feel tingly before I'm struck? Will my hair stand on end? Will I see a green flash?" And then the other part of my brain starts thinking, "You IDIOT. You need to get out of this. NOW!!!!"

So…which way to go? Do I go back to my car? Or do I trudge ahead to the park entrance, hoping to find shelter? I was at the point in my hike that I was literally half-way between my car and the gates - so either choice, I was basically screwed.

Deciding to make a run to the gates, every few seconds a tremendous flash, followed by a crashing BOOM, had me jumping and holding my breath and sending up quick prayers, saying, "Oh, please, oh please, don't let me get hit!!!!"

Fortunately, I made it.

However, that evening, I discovered that a hotel - less than 1/2 mile from where I was making my run for it - was struck by lightning during this storm, resulting in loss of electricity and an evacuation of the guests.

I was truly a stupid idiot - for not hunkering down in my car and waiting for the storm to pass.

Ironically, today begins Lightning Awareness Week…and already, seven people have been killed this year by lightning in the U.S. I was fortunate that I wasn't the eighth - all because I was anxious to see a Mouse.


Anyway. Be safe, peeps. Take lightning serious. Know what to do if caught outdoors - and don't be an idiot, like yours truly.



Thursday, June 19, 2014

Around the World in One Afternoon

I recently traveled the world in one afternoon…visiting an astounding eleven countries, where I sampled delicious food…listened to awesome music…and admired the beautiful architecture and flora that make each of these countries so unique.

Yes, with a bit of pixie dust and Disney magic, I was whisked to places far, far away…losing myself in the specialness of the World Showcase….

Beginning my journey in Canada, our neighbors to the north…

There, I admired the beautiful Butchart Gardens, with their explosions of colors and smells:

Exploring a bit deeper, I stumbled upon the Canadian Rockies:

Hearing the unmistakable sounds of bagpipes, I stumbled across one of my most favorite bands, Off Kilter:

They were rocking out to "Danny Boy" and other Celtic gems, and I sat for a few minutes to enjoy their show. Many years ago, a Disney employee heard me mention how much I loved these guys, and later surprised me with an autographed CD, autographed photo, and a cool baseball hat. This pretty much put me in the "creepy stalker" category, but I stayed far enough away on this trip to not violate any restraining orders that may be out there.

Soon, it was time to move on…and so I winged it over to the United Kingdom…where I wandered some of the back streets of a quaint English village, where I admired the Tudor, Georgian and Victorian influences, with the tantalizing smell of fish and chips in the air:

Exploring further, I stumbled across some beautiful English gardens, including an English maze that is fun to wander:

Soon, the pavilion in the maze came alive with the rocking sounds of "British Revolution", a band who was performing rock songs from British bands, including Pink Floyd, the Beatles, the Who - and Herman's Hermits. You haven't visited England if you haven't sang along to the 'classic' hit, "I'm Henery the Eighth, I Am" on the cobblestoned streets…fun times.

Wandering further, I stumbled upon a roving band of Shakespearean troupe players, performing improvisational skits that had all of us in stitches. Here, they've roped in volunteers to perform the famous death scene from "Romeo and Edna". (And you thought it was "Romeo and Juliet" - what little you know…)

I then crossed the Pont des Arts-inspired footbridge and the 'English Channel' for my next destination, which you can get a hint of in my picture below:

Yes - Viva la France!

It helps to be, like, the VERY first person in the morning to wander around the world, as the streets are amazingly pretty empty:

My tummy was hungry, and so I picked up some delicious cheeses to snack on, as well as some creamy chocolate mousse. I always try to speak the native language of whatever country I'm in, but my French is pretty limited to "Bonjour!" and "Merci!" and Au Revoir!" Fortunately, this was about all I needed to order my morning snack from the Patisserie.

There was actually more cheese in this tray to start with, but I may or may not have eaten some before I remembered to snap a photo. Sitting at a little table at the cafe, I admired the sights and sounds, as well as the smells of French perfume wafting through the air.

There's beautiful gardens and flowers and artwork in France, as well:

One cannot visit France without having a little French spirit - so, a delicious Grand Marnier Orange Slushie was now in order:

Nom. Nom. Nom. Très bon.

Reluctantly, I left the lushness of France and traveled to the arid desert of Morocco:

The architecture here is just stunning…and I could spend hours wandering the back alleyways and bazaars that are found here:

The smell of incense wafted through the passageways, while I wandered the hot streets of an almost-deserted country:

I didn't buy anything here, as I don't know a Single. Word. of Moroccan Arabic.

My next stop was Japan, where the towering replica of a 7th century Horyuji Temple greeted me:

At the foot of the pagoda, I came across these pretty ponds brimming with lilies and koi:

Japan has the best shopping center in the entire World, and so I stopped in for a much-needed necessity…a fan. That's because the temperature outside had now reached a balmy 325 degrees Fahrenheit, and I needed relief. Here, the young lady is writing my name (in Japanese) on my purchase:

I only know one Japanese phrase, thanks to Styx: 'Domo arigato' (Mr. Roboto), meaning, "Thanks!" It was enough to impress the young lady.

With fan in hand, I wandered to the next country…the United States. Honestly, this is the least-pretty pavilion in all of the World Showcase:

I tried…I really tried…to find ANYTHING that was pretty, or unique, or special about this place…but the best I could do were these patriotic flowers:

Moving on.



I'll let the photos speak for themselves on just how beautiful, how AMAZING, this country is:

I could live here.

Fortunately for me, I can speak some Italian - and so I indulged in some cool and refreshing chocolate gelato:

Delizioso. Squeeee!!!!!!

Germany - my homeland - was next…

I enjoy looking at the massive and huge miniature trains that are set up here:

My grandpa had an entire room set up with miniature trains, so this always reminds me of him…I always get a bit nostalgic looking at these.

Germany has some cool shops, but my favorite thing to see is the Pickle Tree:

An entire Christmas tree decorated with…pickles. Supposedly, the pickle ornament is the last ornament to be put on the tree, and the child who finds it on Christmas morning will be blessed with good luck. One of these years, I'm going to actually BUY one of these pickle ornaments that I admire each year - but I'll have to learn some German first. If I can't at least say "thank you" in the native language, I can't buy anything - those are the rules.

Leaving my beloved Pickle Tree behind, I then made my way to China, where I admired the beautiful Temple of Heaven:

Then, on to Norway…

I was tickled to find this hidden treasure in Norway…a statue of Grete Waitz, a famous Norwegian marathoner, who was the first woman to run the marathon in under 2.5 hours:

I'll never achieve that, so I have to salute Ms. Waitz.

And finally…last, but not least, I visited Mexico:

I speak pretty decent Spanish, so I stopped here for some delicious nachos for lunch. I must have impressed the young man who waited on me, as he complimented me on my "authentic Spanish accent" and asked me where I had learned to speak it so well. "Many mission trips to Guatemala," I replied - which tickled him. And no photos of my nachos - as most of them ended up in my lap instead of my mouth, so I had a huge mess to contend with.


So…eleven countries…in one afternoon. Whew. But I had one more stop.

It was almost time for the United States soccer team to play in their first match in the 2014 World Cup - and how appropriate that I had traveled the world before the game. Disney had set up a viewing lounge in Epcot, and I made my way there, to sit down with a few hundred other fans and take in the game:

Television screens everywhere…snacks…drinks…and most importantly, refreshing air-conditioning. It was awesome.

And the United States won.

We may have a sucky pavilion at the World Showcase - but we have a pretty decent soccer team.

So…goodbye for now…Adios…Au Revoir...Auf Wiedersehen…and so on…thanks for joining me on my trip around the world.