Monday, April 28, 2008

Rain, rain, go away...

Went to bed with a headache and woke up with the same headache. Usually a good sleep will wipe a headache out but not this time. I wasn't dehydrated or anything so I'm not sure what the headache was from. It wasn't as bad as the headache I had on Saturday. I took 6 Excedrin Migraine tablets and that only took the headache down to a dull throbbing. The weather could have caused this headache since it went from nice to cold and drizzly. Curse this weather!

Last Tuesday I went to the Team in Training info session at Whole Foods and decided to join up. This means I have much fundraising to do. It's funny, it isn't the half or full marathon that worries me, it's the fundraising. I need to raise $3000 or else I cannot run with TNT and that scares me. What if I fail? I don't know much about fundraising. What if no one wants to donate to the cause? What if no one wants to support me? (And here I am worrying about it in a public place that I am linking to from my donation page but this is what the blog is for). Who knew I would be more sure about finishing a marathon? Well, maybe not today because I am slothing with a headache I can't seem to shake but still!

In non-fundraising news, my tea order from Upton Tea Imports arrived today and the first batch of Wuyuan Ruikang green was AMAZING! And they shipped so quickly. I opened all the packages I ordered and everything smells heavenly. And the pricing there is so reasonable. Maybe my headache just needs a little more tea.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Earth mover...

Saturday I found, bought and planted my Japanese maple. The nursery we went to did not have the Inaba Shidare in stock but they did have the Organgeola that was also on my list. And it was not expensive! So now my little tree is planted in the front yard. It looks wonderful from every angle. We went looking for gravel groundcover and large rocks for the garden area but I didn't want to purchase anything until I had my maple. So that means this weekend will be rock-filled. I'm hoping to finish the front area before I have to drive to Ohio.

We also worked on the side of the house where the skunks keep trying to dig in order to get under the front porch. The boy put in some chickenwire and we buried it and covered it with cinderblocks. Sunday I cleaned up the area and covered it with flagstone, making a path from the side gate towards the front. I want to get some creeping thyme to plant between the stones to make it more visually appealing. And I dug up all the hostas on the other side of the house because they grow so rampantly and cover the path so we cannot help but walk all over them to get towards the back of the house. I don't know what exactly I'll plant there. Maybe I'll just cover it with brick pavers completely since I already did half the area last year. Those damn hostas are horrible to dig up!

I can't decide what to do today. I should head out to the nurser for groundcover since the boy took his motorcycle to work and left the Subaru here. Beetles aren't the best for transporting plants and rocks. Which reminds me, tomorrow the Beetle gets her tune-up. Maybe I should just clean out my car so I don't have to do it tomorrow morning. Then it would also be ready for the big drive.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Oh, the joy of a new toy!

My Zarafina Tea Maker is the best! Honestly, I don't usually get all ravey about electronics (other than my iPods which I adore so so much) but this tea maker is perfect! I found I prefer the herbal setting for green tea as it makes the water temperature hotter but I counter that by setting the brew strength to mild for the first pot. I have yet to make a black, white or oolong tea in it because I usually drink green tea but perhaps tomorrow morning I'll try out my Irish Breakfast tea. And the little tea cups that came with the machine cause em to sip rather than gulp. I usually make my tea in a 16 oz. mug but for some reason smaller tea cups force me to savor the flavor rather than just chugging the cup contents.

The Lab (Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab) released new scents for their monthly Lunacy and the new Steamworks blends sound amazing. I have the Phoenix Steamworks *loves* and now I want all the others also! In imp size because I just can't wear that much perfume in a lifetime. Thank Dog for the BPAL community and swapping/selling! I used to only wear patchouli until I was introduced to the Lab. My first purchase was one of their Poe scents, The Premature Burial. I still have some left. Unfortunately for me, the Lab's patchouli blends hatehatehate me. But with the hundreds of scents they offer, that is no longer a problem. So many good smellies!

I leave for Ohio in two weeks. And I finally remembered to make an appointment to get my poor little Beetle tuned up. I maybe drive 10 miles a week, tops, so I am always forgetting to get her cleaned up. It's funny, before I moved here I spent 3 hours every Sunday washing and buffing my Beetle. In the Chicagoland area, you're lucky if you have a garage in which to park your car, let alone a driveway. So my car rarely gets washed. I miss those Sundays. Washing my car was so very Zen. Those Zen moments have been moved to chopping vegetables. I love to cook soups and vegetarian dinners just so I can chop veggies. It is so relaxing.

And Happy Friday! Tomorrow I go to find my miniature Japanese maple for the front yard and to pick out some large rocks to balance the tree area. I can't wait to finish the front yard so I can move on to the back. I only wish I'd taken some "before" photos. Maybe I still have some "before" photos from when we first moved in to our house. The front yard was so cluttered and tiny. It is tiny anyway but made even more so by the huge piney shrubbery and palmy fronds and overgrown tree-like shrubberies that were planted there. I am not a fan of decorative bushes so I dug the all up and threw them out. Republican Earth Day! The look didn't fit with the Craftsman home so I am giving the yard a cleaner look and feel. So far, so good!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

*sniffle*

I still have the worst head cold and it is making me so cranky! I want to go work on the backyard some more but I just know any work done where I have to bend my head will result in my using massive amounts of tissues. The decongestant I took is not working. I could just make an appointment to see my doc since I need to head in there anyway to take care of my school immunization records (I need to get tested for mumps since my records only listed one shot and the school wants two dates) and get a complete physical. But I hate taking meds so I shall wait until I am better, like next week, so I am not a sniffling mess.

My Zarafina Tea Maker arrived today and it is scrumptious! I ran a pot of water through it and soon I shall make my first pot of tea once I decide what to make. I want to try some more ginkgo tea with osmanthus flowers because it tastes yummy. Osmanthus tastes like apricots in tea and it looks so pretty in the water. I also have chrysanthemum pearls I haven't tried.

It is just so nice outside. It seems a shame to stay indoors when what I really want to do is go outside and work in the dirt. I have three stumps to dig out of the dirt and the last raised flower bed to rip apart. And I should remove some of the dirt from the bed in front. Maybe I'll wait on that though until I can find and plant a miniature Japanese maple. That will displace enough dirt so I'll save the added work and remove the excess all at once.

I think a pot of tea is winning out over gardening. Maybe the steam from the cup will clear my head and my nasal passages.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Still ill...

Morrissey sings songs in my head when I am sick.

I got my race results from Sunday's Race to Wrigley and it was 46:43 minutes with a pace of 15:04. This is faster than the St. Paddy's Day with my time of 47:06 minutes and a pace of 15:09. Just seconds faster but it still counts.

I finally finished Blackwood Farm by Anne Rice and now I am reading Cokie Roberts' Ladies of Liberty. The HBO series about John Adams has me interested in what was happening during the American Revolution. History has never been a favorite subject of mine. History books in school were always so dry, so lacking in facts that weren't about old white men. This Cokie Roberts book talks about things that I can relate to, not just about men marching off to war. Women lived during that time also and history books in school, at least when I was in school, rarely seem to cover that. Even the history classes I took in college rarely covered women. My history of civilization course covered 3 women, Sappho (we learned she was a bisexual poet), Cleopatra (a sexed-up queen) and Joan of Arc (who said she heard god speak to her and wore men's clothing). Each woman barely got 10 minutes of talk time and the professor mostly just joked about their sexual proclivities. I hated that class and I ended up failing it.

Where I had intended on going with this is how my reading has changed. I still love sci-fi books and horror but I've found I've been reading a lot more about running, nature and living a more natural and simple life. Two years ago you couldn't pay me to go camping or hiking. I wasn't interested in the natural world around me. I want to be out in nature more now. I want to learn about it, experience it. My first real camping trip last October was wonderful, even with the numb fingers I had because it was cold. We didn't backpack in anywhere, just car camped but I actually enjoyed myself. I want to go camping again. I want to learn to live in the woods, to live off the land (although that has more to do with reading lots of "end of the world" novels and wanting to be a Heinlein character, strong and self-sufficient). I want to win the lottery so I can move the hell away from people. The "entitlement whore" mentality people have these days makes me cry for the future. I want to get away from those sort of people. But that is another post entirely.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Sick and tired...

Yesterday I ran the Race to Wrigley 5k. I got a lighter cold-weather runners cough that seems to be gone this morning but left a sore throat and a stuffy yet drippy nose and an achy body. Two 5ks this year and both of them were cold and windy. 5,000 people signed up for this race and things were really hopping. Much more so than the St. Paddy's Day 5k I did.

Once again I was passed by many runners and I passed my fair share of runners and walkers. The path was on the street, unlike the St. Paddy's Day 5k which was on a running/walking/biking trail. The asphalt wasn't bad to run on but the unevenness was uncomfortable at times. I run on the side of the road in order to be out of the way of faster people and streets tends to be lower on the outermost side. Makes for uneven running paths. Anyway, I've decided that too many runners do not pay attention to their weaving in and out in order to get ahead. I was getting pushed around in the beginning because faster runners had to weave between groups of people running and walking side by side. I was running solo and had to do my own weaving to pass people. Groups of 3+ people should not run or walk side by side and take up 3/4 of the running area! It is dangerous!

And while I did not want to admit it, people wearing headphones can be dangerous also. I now see why "career runners" rant about headphones in races. I had about a dozen people run past me with their mp3 players turned up so loud that I could hear their music clearly. These people cannot possibly hear runners come up behind them or even emergency vehicles if they have their music up that loud. I admit, I am an iPod wearer at the gym but not while running on the street or trails. I need to be able to hear cars and other runners. I'm a safety girl and I get really pissy with other people infringe upon my safety and my personal space. While I have not read about any real "headphones are dangerous" news facts, from what I saw at Sunday's race, they do distract runners. I watched headphone-wearers fumble around with their mp3 players and not watch where they were going and who they were running into. Not all headphone-wearers are this way but a good majority of them are. I don't want to get into the headphone rule many marathons adopt because I know how much I enjoy using my ipod during runs but I don't want to cause accidents because I am distracted by the music or fiddling with controls.

And after some careful Googling, I finally found the time limit for the Chicago Marathon, 6.5 hours. I can do that. Especially if I remember that veggies are bad the day before a race. My system cannot handle veggies and running. Not for runs that early in the morning. And not eating any vegetables for even one day pains me. I love my vegetables.

Also? I really, really dislike Chicago Special Events Management They are supposed to post race results 48 hours after the race and it's been over a month since the St. Paddy's Day 5k and still no race results! I've emailed them twice now and I haven't even gotten back a form email. What the fuck is up with that? I paid extra money to get my race timed but I haven't seen any times posted for races after 9/29/2007. That is 5 races since September 2007 that have yet to have results posted. *arghhh*

EDIT: Googling my name got me race results for the St. Paddy's Day 5k and I made it in 47:06. Yeah, I know how unfast that is. I speedwalked it but damn! That is 40 seconds faster than I had thought! And 16 seconds faster than when I paced it at the gym. That means I did 15:09 minute miles. A race that was faster than my practices at the gym!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Flowering teas...

I signed up for this tea swap through Mad Pots of Tea and received my package this week. Inside was 5 Adagio jasmine flowering teas, honey straws and a box of cookies all wrapped up in pretty spring tissue paper and a lovely note. I was so excited because I'd seen those teas from Adagio and never tried them. I bought some for my mom one year for Christmas but never purchased any for myself. This package made my swap seem boring even though I had my current fave along with smaller samples of 6 other types of teas I rotate with. I wish I'd thought of adding some paper tea bags or candies or something more!

And as for my package, I shipped it out on April 5th with delivery confirmation. Last time I checked the DC the current info was that the package just left the Elk Grove, Illinois post office on April 10th! WTF USPS??? My package sat around for 5 days in a post office not more than 20 miles away from me! I could have driven it to my swap lady in 8 hours! *arghh*

Now it is time to head downstairs with a book and make some tea! I've been rushed all day and only had one cup this morning. I need to chill out and drink some tea in my lovely china cups. Tea tastes so much better when sipped from dainty china cups. It's more relaxing that way.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Lost...

I've been completely out of sorts since December. It's like the school quarter ended and there was a rush preparing for the holidays, the travel to Ohio for the holidays, travel home for New Year's, travel to Walt Disney World and back again only to start the winter quarter of school (a week late, I might add). I've never been able to get back on track. Winter quarter went well with grades but I keep thinking had I been on top of things in my life, I would have gotten A's instead of B+'s. And now that I am not taking classes for spring quarter, I am lost. Even more lost than I had been previously. Everything came at me all at once.

There are all these goals I have and I can't get to them. I don't even want to get up in the mornings. Maybe that is depression. I don't know. It seems silly that I'd be depressed when I still laugh and have a good time. I just need to get back. I lost my direction and now I don't know how to get back.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Kennel cough...

Or something like that... George is coughing again. It started early Tuesday morning and was even worse Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. I have had so little sleep the past two days. No sleep means headaches and migraines for me. Top that off with my hands that still hurt to do much of anything and you'll find a miserable girl. I can hardly hold a teacup. So now I am cranky and waiting around for the vet to call me back. Friday's first vet is no longer working at the animal hospital and that makes me sad. Their new vet is friendly and Friday and George both seem to like her but I'd really liked the first vet because she too had boxers. I have no idea what happened and not sure I should ask. Oh please let the vet call me back soon so I can get some meds into the boy and stop that cough!

Today I need to decide if I want to pick up a Zarafina Tea Maker. The reviews all sound good and I like to look and idea of it. 16oz isn't a lot of tea per pot but I can always make more. And I'd rather have to make more than have too much (even though I'd just drink it cold). Giving up coffee has been good. I still drink the occasional cup but mostly I stick to tea, green tea especially. I can drink green tea all day long and it doesn't affect me like coffee did. I'm not dehydrated and caffeinated up and I can get to sleep better. I still have bouts of insomnia but that isn't from tea. Anyway, the Zarafina Tea Maker sounds perfect for me and it is now on sale! Sales are a goodness. Tea is a goodness. Non-coughing dogs are a goodness.

I need some more tea. And aspirin. And toast.

Monday, April 07, 2008

House ramblings...

I've spent the last week working in the front and back yards. As small as both are, and we're talking Chicago small here, I am still not done. Over 20 hours and so far I have filled 12 bags of leaves and roots. And dug up flagstone around two flowerbeds. And dug out the area by the back gate so I could actually open it fully. 30 buckets of dirt and stones in a 40"x55" area moved to another spot and 6 pavers put down all so I could open the back gate far enough to take the trash and recycling out. The front was supposed to be the easiest only, as usual for me, I turned it into a larger project than intended. And I can't finish it until I find a small Japanese maple that won't get over 6' tall. I'm thinking an Inaba Shidare is the way to go. Once I get the tree planted, I can cover the dirt with landscaping fabric and cover that over with rocks. The larger rocks I need for decoration can be placed at any time so no worries there. I will be so happy when the front area is completed. Once the front is done we can concentrate on the back where the patio and deck will go.

While the yardwork has been relaxing, my hands hurt badly. Most of that 20+ yardwork time was spent using rakes and shovels and hauling large pieces of stone. Even my back doesn't hurt but my hands? My hands! I can't cut food with my right hand and I'm right-handed so my left is pretty much useless for that. And the worst of it is that I want to go back out this afternoon after work and try to get the flagstone in as a border to the front flowerbed area.

My fall-back plan is to prime the walls of my office so I can repaint the room. (Not that this will be easier on my hands.) Right now the orange is just too dark for the room. There is one smallish window on the west side so the room does not get a lot of light. The orange seems to kill any light that does make it in. I have two greens picked out so I can paint the large empty wall a slightly darker shade than the other three walls. The greens are pretty light and cool so the room should brighten up considerably. And I still need to find artwork for over my desk. My whole office needs redone to make it more functional as a workspace for me and as a guest room when family visits.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Books

I should really keep track of the books I read. I've never actually counted how many books I read in a year. So let's see... books read since January 2008, in no particular order...

1. Environmental Ethics: Readings in Theory and Application by Louis P. Pojman and Paul Pojman - I read this for class. And I enjoyed the different thoughts on environmentalism and ethics.

2. Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental issues and options by H. Steinfeld, P. Gerber, T. Wassenaar, V. Castel, M. Rosales, C. de Haan - This too I read for class so I am counting it.

3. Atonement by Ian Mcewan - A decent enough book.

4. No Need for Speed: A Beginner's Guide to the Joy of Running by John Bingham - One of the many running books I've read. What's too say about it, really? Bingham is one of the top running guys and his books make me feel better about my running skills.

5. The Complete Book Of Running For Women by Claire Kowalchik

6. Runner's World Complete Book of Women's Running by Dagny Scott

7. Women Who Run by Shanti Sosienski - Running stories from many different types of women. I really enjoyed this just for the different experiences each runner has.

8. Letters for Emily by Camron Wright - One of those easy-to-read and sappy books. I admit I did cry.

9. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard - I would have enjoyed this more if she hadn't tried to be all flowery with her writing. It got to bee too much for me.

10. Woodswoman by Anne LaBastille - I always say I am going to become a hermit living in the woods with my dogs and my books and so this was a happy read for me.

11. Duma Key by Stephen King - I'd put this in the top 5 of best written King novels. Definitely one of the better books he's written lately.

12. Blaze by Richard Bachman and Stephen King - Different than his other books but still engaging.

13. The Margarets by Sheri S. Tepper - I adore Sheri Tepper and yet I had a difficult time with this one. I didn't feel any of the Margaret's were developed well enough for the story.

14.Thinner Than Thou by Kit Reed - This book amuses me and is a good read.

15. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett - You can't go wrong with Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett!

16. Time for the Stars by Robert Heinlein - A Heinlein juvenile that I hadn't read before. *gasp*

17. Dune by Frank Herbert - I have to read the series over every so often. This book is what got me started with my love of sci-fi.

18. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess - I'd seen the movie before reading the book and Malcolm McDowell still scares me. He was so right for the role of Alex. This book is one of my all-time favorites. I also love The Wanting Seed.

19. Blood Crazy by Simon Clark - One of my favorite horror novels. I love those end-of-the-world stories and this one does not disappoint.

20. When Rabbit Howls by Truddi Chase and Robert A. Phillips - A book I got off ChanceXchange. The story is horrifying, so much worse than The Three Faces of Eve or Sybil.

21. Empress Orchid by Anchee Min - Another ChanceXchange book. I've read Anchee Min before but I'd say this is my favorite so far.

That just doesn't seem like many books. I must be missing a couple. Although, considering I was at Walt Disney World for a week and then in school for a quarter, those numbers could be correct. Currently I am reading Blackwood Farm by Anne Rice. I found the book in a bag of books I'd loaned to my mom but I'd never read it before now. I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed Anne Rice's books. I haven't read her new books about the life of Christ and I haven't decided if I want to. It seems like such a dramatic switch from her Vampire Chronicles and Beauty Trilogy.

I can't imagine not having a book near me. I remember when I was first learning to read and someone had given me the Little House books, I would sit in my room and try to figure out the words so I could read the story for myself. My mom tried reading the classics to us but I think my sister and I asked too many questions so reading time did not last long. I don't believe we ever made it through Black Beauty. When I was at my grandma's house, she always had books around and I would pick up her copy of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. I still love those books.

The first book I read in one sitting was Little Sioux Girl by Lois Lensky. My mom and step-dad picked it up at a fair (I think) and I remember sitting in my bed one summer day and reading it straight through. The sun was shining and the birds were singing and I was in my bedroom at age 9, reading a book. I'd read other books before but never in one sitting like that.

Then there was my challenge book at age 10. I was determined to read Alex Haley's Roots. Every summer I would pick that book up and start reading. I'm not certain why I chose that book. I guess because it was so thick, almost 900 pages. It took three years but by the time I was 13 I finally read it. I remember being so proud of myself. And so horrified. I don't remember my history books ever covering slavery like that. And so every summer I made it my plan to read Roots. When I was in high school one of my professors encouraged me to read Malcolm X's autobiography and books about Martin Luther King, Jr. Those books made high school feel like cake compared to what those men went through.

Until I was 15 or 16 I read V.C. Andrews, Stephen King and cheesy romance novels. I remember the David Lynch movie Dune coming out in the theater and I'd wanted to go see it so bad. No one wanted to see it with me so I had to wait until it was available for video rental. My mom and step-dad rented it and disliked it. I fell in love. I went to school and was telling someone about it when a classmate overheard me and told me the story was from a book. He pointed the series out and I devoured them. And when he heard how much I enjoyed them, he showed me the Heinlein novel I Will Fear No Evil. I was sold on sci-fi from then on. Heinlein novels played a huge role in my adolescence. I'd led such a sheltered, strict life. My parents were always grounding my sister if we got a single C on our report card. We'd be grounded for that grading period until we brought the grade up to a B. If we had a C on our final report card for the year, we were grounded for the entire summer. It's no wonder I spent so much time reading. Heinlein's novels opened my eyes to freedom. They made me accepting of everyone. And for that I am truly thankful. I always turn to his books when I get bogged down and can't concentrate on other books. They refresh me.

Books are the one thing I ask for as gifts. I really don't care about other gifty nonsense. Books are functional. They never go out of style. If I am bored I can pick up a book and be transported. For free! I'd give up television and the internet before I'd give up my books.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Run, doggy, RUN!

Today I ran outside with my pup George for the first time. We bought him a Sporn halter on Sunday for our weekly Puppies, Pancakes and Parks day and that thing is wonderful! He didn't pull at all. We still need to get one for Friday. The store we were at was out of her size so I need to make a run to another pet store. Anyway, I put the Sporn on George and headed out. After a minute or three of me fiddling with the straps and him getting used to the halter, we were off and running! He's a champ! I've tried running with Friday but she's an ankle-biter when we run. George usually is at home but not while on a leash. So now I have a new running partner!

It was colder than I thought it was and since I forgot my gloves, we were only outside for 30 minutes. Even that short time felt nice. It made me happy to be out with my puppy since he never gets to go on walks alone. We got to bond and practice sitting at intersections before crossing. George ran beside me like he was born for that reason. I only wish I'd remembered gloves so we could have been outside longer. Ah well, there is always tomorrow!