Archive for July 2007

Simple, and not so simple, pleasures

Tuesday, 31st July 2007. Filed in Crunchy grooves, Eco-running, Running7 Comments »

I’ve always harbored a secret desire to be one of the screamers on a live album. And now, I believe, my wish has come true. I got my recording from Peter Gabriel at Hyde Park, and I swear to you, I hear me. For real. The one yelling “Steeeaaaaammmm!” a fraction of a second before everyone else? That’s totally me. (I’m fast, really fast! And loud, really loud!) And during the pause in Family Snapshot? Me too. I swear to you. I know my concert scream. And I hear it. You’re skeptical, I can tell. But, it’s not hard to believe. Did I mention we were standing second row? BA-BY! (The proof is on Tony Levin’s website. You can see us best in the eleventh picture down, just behind the girl playing with her camera near the yellow rain jacket on the rail.) So, I think it’s very possible I hear me. And yeah, I’ll admit it, I sound good.

Rock and roll! Ah, another one of life’s goals ticked off the list.

In other exciting news, I officially registered myself and Crunchy husband for the Paris-Versailles 2007. So we are finally in training for something, as opposed to in training for something obscure and undetermined. We’ve been warned about the hill to Versailles, but how can you pass up the opportunity to start a run under the Eiffel Tower? Freddy the French Cat’s owner nearly joined Team Crunchy ‘Nanas in this 10 mile endeavor, but dodged this year’s run right before registrations went in by conveniently remembering he has tickets to go watch his Welshmen group hug and bite each other’s ears off in Nantes. Lucky escape, if you ask me.

There was way less trash on the path than I expected on my run today from Minnis Bay to Reculver. (I kept to the path. There is no way I could collect all the trash washed up on the beach.) Most people just kind of stared at me as I ran by, but one man yelled “hey, what about all this over here?” as he rode past me on his bike. He seemed jovial and friendly, so I will give him the benefit of the doubt and take that as thanks rather than him “taking the piss”. The run felt really good, which is to be expected since it is flat and I’ve been running hills mostly and today is a beautiful day. I ran regular tempo on the way out and eco-run tempo on the way back. I’m getting slightly better at grabbing trash without breaking my running motion, but I still need to slow/stop sometimes.

And then there’s the fact that summer has decided to grace England with its presence. There are many who still do not have clean water supplies to their homes, but at least (for now) the rains seem to have eased. I hope it gives it a chance for things to dry out a bit and allows people to go back to their homes.

And in final news that may be good or may be not so good, I will know by tomorrow I think, I’ve taken a bold step and submitted some coastal photography into a local art exhibition. Please keep your fingers crossed on something making the cut. It could go either way.

No pink was used in the construction of this post

Tuesday, 31st July 2007. Filed in Random foliage5 Comments »

I’d like to thank the Academy for this prestigious Rockin’ Girl Blogger award. I’d also like to thank my family and friends who have been with me through the thick and thin of blogging these last 6 months, the ups and the downs, the highs and the lows. Special props to Crunchy husband for allowing me to show off his backside to the world. Thanks to Amanda, a determined runner blogger who has recently taken the bull by the horns and is fervently trying to make friends with her her bicycle, for the compliment and the nomination tag. And thanks to the creators of the Banana Guard for making the world a smaller place.

I’d like to send a special shout out to the talented soul who designed the button not featured here, enforcing the tired stereotype that girls are well-represented by the color pink. (I’d like to now pass the ill-designed baton to Moose, who I expect will have an update filled with poolside mojitos and more inch-worm antics from BlogHer 2007 shortly and will have many better things to do than accept this tag. Mwah ha ha ha ha!) Thank you to Kermit the Frog, Get Fuzzy, and Ben and Jerry’s for inspiring me, making me laugh and for keeping me sugared up, not necessarily in that order. [Begin awards show, get off the bleedin' stage orchestration.] And a final thanks to the farmer with the dog. What would I do without Bingo? [Music gets louder, cameras pull back to wide shot of stage.]

[Shouting.] No, wait wait! What I meant to say was “I’m just here for Bowie!” [I loved that!]

I refuse to believe they are all on drugs.

Friday, 27th July 2007. Filed in Random foliage4 Comments »

When I picked up the mail today, I was a little dismayed to see the special report cover story in this week’s New Scientist, since right there on the front cover is the statement “what gives elite athletes the edge”. My mind has been inundated with doping news. I was relieved to find this cover story is not about scandal and banned performance enhancement techniques. Instead, it presents genetic and physiological factors that give athletes such as top cyclists, ultramarathoners and freedivers advantages to accomplish great feats.

In light of all the disappointing developments this week in the Tour de France, it is nice to read something that shows that it doesn’t have to be all about the drugs. That we can still believe that many of these guys are fit and amazing by virtue of honest endeavors, hard training and a bit of genetic luck. Let’s go team Discovery Channel! Don’t let me down.

I could persist with the Avenue Q allusions and name this post ‘Schadenfreude’. But I won’t.

Thursday, 26th July 2007. Filed in Random foliage3 Comments »

Last night we sought out the new Barbara Kingsolver narrative, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle which, I have to admit (in hushed, embarrassed tones) I didn’t realize was out until yesterday afternoon. Not that I get too wrapped up in the wizard world or anything crazy like that. We made it to the shopping center too late for Waterstone’s, but just in the knick of time to duck into W.H. Smith. Once we got past the stacks of Deathly Hallows, two things made me cock my dainty little ears and take notice.

First, no book. What?! I strode up to the woman at the register. Barbara Kingsolver, yeah? Awesome writer, yeah. Animal Dreams, Poisonwood Bible, you know, great books. You know? Blank stare. She, apparently, didn’t know. “Well if we had it and it’s new, it would be out here. Or, along that wall if, as you say, it’s non-fiction.”

The second thing that caught my attention was that “that wall” contained two labels: “Biography” and “Tragic Life Stories”. I stood there ear to shoulder, lips pursed, brows furrowed, trying to figure out how I felt about it. I recognize the value in reading stories of human strife and sacrifice. Often there is much inspiration to be found in tales of struggle, great hope to be found wound tightly around the understanding that amongst torture, oppression, rape and troubled childhoods there is a better world for us to strive for. But, is it necessary to cull these stories from the overarching “Biography” category and so obtrusively call them out? Or, why not at least label the countering “Uplifting Life Stories”? Perhaps there are less of those. I don’t know. I hope not. And yet, I fear this emphasis on tragedy is marketing and demand. Does the general public thrive off toil and torture, pain and doom? Is Crunchy husband right to theorize that EastEnders is so popular because engaging in the on-screen misery makes people feel better about their own lives? Do we feed off of others’ misfortune in some sort of twisted way to comfort ourselves?

I stood there for a moment, and then felt a book thrust into my hand, yet too small and too paperback to be the copy we came for. I looked down. It was a silent but encouraging nudge from Crunchy husband that he thinks it might be time to talk business, to get moving on making certain aspirations more than simply small talk and wishful thinking. I’m usually a little bit hesitant about books like this, The Writer’s Handbook: Guide to Writing for Children, but it looks more like a reference index than a “how-to” book for creativity. The first page of the first chapter (it’s been a busy day), though written in choppy, interview transcript format, contains a nugget from Philip Pullman: “you have to realise that a lot of the time, you are going to be writing without inspiration. The trick is to write just as well without it as with.”

Am I to take this to mean that all those moments when my mind feels an empty pit of dull nothingness, or is spitting out garbled, nonsensical phrases that would make me look like, well like my parents’ hard earned money was wasted on college and my own hard earned money was wasted on grad school, are moments I’m supposed to be harnessing and turning into powerful, tantalizing prose that will entertain and enrapture, dazzle and inspire five year-olds everywhere?

I think I am in trouble.

Incidentally, I checked in at Waterstone’s today, and they didn’t have Animal, Vegetable, Miracle either, with no plans of getting it in. WHAT? Words fail me.

The internet is really, really good for…

Wednesday, 25th July 2007. Filed in Random foliage3 Comments »

I got a new toy.

Frustrated to finally confirm, after searching the depths of my control panel and trying to convince myself otherwise, that my new laptop is indeed without an internal microphone, I bought a cheap one so I can voice chat with folks in the old ‘hood. Since the price for a microphone headset was nearly the same as a cheap internet phone kit with web cam, I decided to go for it. So now I have a web cam. Don’t all jump out of your seats excited, thinking I’m going to start videocasting. I’m not. Trust me, it’s better this way.

Actually, it’s kind of weird. It feels a bit, I don’t know, invasive. A bit porn or something. Except for this 1-800-DENTIST, how may I direct your call? headset. It’s not very sexy. But, I shouldn’t knock the headset actually, the sound is pretty good. I can picture it now, rockin’ out on a run with these headphones. Hot!

I’m such a geek.

This ain’t no city spider

Tuesday, 24th July 2007. Filed in Random foliage4 Comments »

I am not really that opposed to sharing my home with spiders. However, I’m not so certain I want this one in my bedroom for very much longer. It’s got different colored legs and all. It kind of gives me the willys and I am not sure how I am going to get it out. On the other hand, I am not sure how I am going to feel if I go back upstairs and it’s gone. Where’s “Delbert McClintock” when you need him?

Don’t be fooled by the blue sky- the next deluge is upon us!

Monday, 23rd July 2007. Filed in Eco-running, Photography4 Comments »

Saturday, since the weather was surprisingly civil, we combined three activities into one excursion. We took an eco-run along Sandwich Bay to do my coastal survey. Because I’m a coastal warden, yo! And I love efficiency.

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Crunchy husband in balance

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What a man!

My large trash bags hid themselves cleverly in the depths of the backpack, so we packed as much trash as we could into the small shopping bags I had. We had to leave much behind, including this here land rover. Pushing this sucker out– now that would be a workout.

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What a shame!

It was low tide, and the water was WAY out there. (Don’t let the sunlight fool you. You can’t really see the Channel waters in any of the pictures, except maybe along the top horizon.) It’s amazing how far out the water breaks at low tide. I am fascinated by the patterns the receding water leaves in the wet sand.

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I am also, as ever, fascinated with my own shadow and now, after the cull, I have 34 new pictures of my constant companion. Gotta love digital, baby!

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There’s no telling when this will actually get posted. My server’s been down for 26+ hours so far, and there’s no hope for an end in sight, save a “wow, I’ve never seen it take this long” from the customer support agent online. My patience is nearly at its peak here. I wonder if I chose the wrong web host. Hmmm…

Tour de France Stage 1, London to Canterbury

Sunday, 22nd July 2007. Filed in Random foliageNo Comments »

Crunchy husband reminded me, I never put up pictures from Stage 1 of the tour de France. Sorry, I’ve been distracted. (BTW, what is the acceptable spoiler grace period for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows? I’m dying here with no one to talk to!! Mom are you awake yet? Done yet? I need to let it out and Crunchy husband is LAGGING!*)

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*If you’re finished and bursting with something to say, email me. No spoilers in comments, please!!!

Give a hoot people, please!

Thursday, 19th July 2007. Filed in Eco-running5 Comments »

People are gross. Not all people. But some people. The people who toss their trash on the ground. Those are the people I’m talking about here. They are gross.

Inspired by this guy, I eco-ran today. The sun is out (!!) so I grabbed my sunscreen and a trash bag and went for it. I have to say, it’s not easy. I don’t quite have the finesse to swoop down and grab the trash without breaking my stride, so it’s a lot of stopping and starting. I had quite a few stares from the drivers along the A256 in Cliff’s End. So yes, if you googled “crazy running woman picking up trash on the A256 near Cliff’s End” that is me. If you’d like to join me next time, send me an email. There was WAY too much for me to pick up alone.

Excuse me while I reflect

Wednesday, 18th July 2007. Filed in Random foliage3 Comments »

During relaxation in yoga today, a thought slipped into my head. I allowed it to imprint lightly on my brain before I gently nudged it out again. Those of us not inclined to while away our days on the couch eating cake and chips (as tempting as that sounds sometimes!) generally focus on improvement. What we can do, we work to do better. What we can’t do, we strive to do a little. But, I find that less often do I look at where I am today, right now, and think “wow, I am really thankful to be able to be here and do this”. It’s a bit intertwined in the forward momentum of improvement because I may not have actually been able to hold a balance for more than 5 seconds nor lay still and relax without thoughts running rampant a few months ago. But, I do see a distinction because it is about being grateful in the moment for what is, regardless of what may come in the future. Lately, I’ve been trying to apply this more to all aspects of my life and I think it’s been pretty healthy.

Today, I am thankful to have life and limb and the ability to run and dance and bike and yoga and swim just as I do. And, of course, lots of other things like love and friendship and the sunshine in this summer of rain.