Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Gobble gobble and gratitude!

So, our turkey arrived last week and it looks something like this:

We ordered it from this place in Tyler, Texas, Greenberg Turkeys that smokes turkeys. My parents turned us on to these smoked turkeys a few years ago, and we had already ordered our turkey (along with one for Michael's parents and the person who dog-sat for us all summer) when I read this article in the NYTimes. So, now I'm almost feeling hip, chic and cool.
Speaking of coolness, we actually leave town tomorrow, driving up to San Francisco, with the bird in tow. I always feel tragically unhip in that fair city, but it's also one of my favorite places to visit (and how I'd love to live there!). We'll be spending the afternoon/evening with friends, and we all opted for something fairly easy regarding the bird. We're also taking mashed potatoes, mashed yams (without marshmallows - that was never a part of my T-day experience), brussels sprouts (which we'll roast with bacon) and a fruit crumble-thingy. No pie. I'd like to learn to make pies one of these days, but this is not the moment.
I am excited to see lots of friends, be in San Francisco and also to travel with our mutts, Gus and Milo. They love road trips, and we enjoy spoiling them. We've rented a studio apartment for the weekend, so we will be in the Castro rather than a tourist-central area like Union Square. Other than stopping by the Ferry Terminal, Dynamo Donuts and the Doc Martens store, we will avoid the shopping frenzy like the plague.
In the meantime, I am grateful for many things this year. Just to name a few:
- The travel opportunities that I have enjoyed this year - the big trips and also the smaller weekend getaways.
- My health, in particular the fact that I can be active again!
- Family, friends and dogs.
- An amazing life partner (okay, husband). I know that it's cliche, but he really makes my life so much better than it would be otherwise.
- A short day today and two days off!
- Finally, the small moments that often present themselves everyday. For instance, we're listening to some great salsa music right now. Life's pretty good.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The pre-ubiquitous Thanksgiving post

Although I'm really not "bah humbug" about the holidays and I have much for which I am thankful, I do feel the need to vent just a teeny-tiny bit. So, here goes:
1. At the school where I work, I am a "floater", a designation that sort of makes me feel like a second-class citizen because it means that I do not OWN, per se, my classroom. Rather, I teach in four different rooms (every class in a different room). It is often confusing, I usually forget papers, tests, books, and other useful materials in one place or another, so then I probably look like a bumbling idiot to my students. Anywhooo, one of the rooms in which I teach happens to be the department chair's classroom, which really isn't a problem because we get along, I know that he knows that I'm a competent teacher. But - yes there is a "BUT" - he often stays in the room while I'm teaching which drives me f-ing nuts! I realize that we are both adults and that I should grow some cojones and tell him that I find his presence distracting. However, he is my department chair and is responsible for evaluating me, so how do I tell him that?
2. I find it very annoying that a very young, first-year teacher routinely lets his class out early (This must be his reasoning: "Why use the whole lab period? I'll give you guys a break. In fact, just take the entire second half of the lab off..."). Today, he went off campus with his students to Starbucks! I do realize that I am a bit old and stodgy and it seems that I am a stickler for the rules, but I have an issue when it becomes a habit that other teachers don't actually use class time to teach. Call me crazy!
3. There is no third rant, but apparently people tend to like lists of three.

Tomorrow, the ubiquitous Thanksgiving post - I can't wait!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Change of seasons

So, I've been running around for a good part of the day in green cords and a purple sweater. I obviously look like a character from Sesame Street, but I feel as though I'm "rockin'" the look. I just debuted the sweater last week and love its comfort, but I actually bought it last spring. What a treat!
Anyway, I often wish that I lived in a place with slightly more dramatic seasons (nothing too extreme), and there are times when it could be either January or June - who really knows? But today, as I took the dogs on an early Sunday morning stroll around the neighborhood, just barely peaking out from the clouds were the San Gabriel mountains with SNOW! Although it never snows where we live, as far as I know, I do look forward to the first snow in the mountains and to seeing snow nestling there.
When I first moved to Central CA from Seattle, I erroneously thought that I would have to ditch all of my fleece pullovers and jackets, and so I prematurely mourned their loss. Then I experienced the Monterey Peninsula in August and fully understood Mark Twain's assessment of summers in San Francisco: "The coldest winter of my life was the summer I spent in San Francisco." The same could be said for Monterey, with the fog rolling in and just settling there, not giving an inch.
The move further south followed a few years later, and again, I had no idea what to expect weather-wise. I associated Southern CA with Baywatch (which I swear I never watched!) and thought that it would be like Florida without the heat. Again, I found myself to be terribly mistaken. Not that it doesn't get hot, but I don't think that the weather or the culture remotely resembles Florida. I don't know Florida well, but I think that I'm relieved that there is a different flavor here.
And relieved that there are seasons. Not, perhaps, the traditional seasons that one associates with summer, winter, fall and spring, but more like "June gloom", the "Santa Ana winds" AKA fire season, the "it's actually raining" season. Fall may be more a fabrication than an actual season that's based on temperatures; it rolls around with pumpkins and Halloween decorations around the neighborhood, which turkeys and pilgrims soon follow. However, we do enjoy a nice fire at night when it dips into the upper 40's (or 50's - I'm so lame), I transition sandals and light skirts to the back of my closet, and tonight, I actually made pumpkin pie bars as a fall and holiday treat. I just took a bite of one - not yet fully cooled - and I may have found pumpkin Nirvana. Plus, I have pot pie for dinner and a fire going! It must be fall?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A weekend of running around!

Literally and figuratively. Mostly the latter, but some of the former too!
So, it was a beautiful weekend in SoCal, a bit warmer than it had been during the week, but clear, rather than hazy, so I'll take that.
We started Saturday morning with a quick breakfast and cup of coffee before heading to Newport Beach where we enjoyed an early-ish morning bike ride up to the beach town of Sunset. It's a bit of a drive to get there, but we love cycling along Highway 1, the Pacific Coast Highway, which is very bike-friendly in that area and doesn't present us with the steep hills that challenge us closer to home. I still consider myself to be a VERY novice cyclist, but I am happy to announce that I haven't fallen off (or over) since Summer of '09. Maybe I am actually developing some level of comfort in the saddle?!
After the ride, we took some photos of random signs before eating a messy, greasy and wonderful breakfast burrito (no photo).

I'm skeptical that this is a "national" organization, but who knows? Also, you can kind of make out our Toyota with the bikes on top.

The other sign that we like - which might be hard to read in this photo - says, "Patagonia wetsuits now available. Still cheaper than most cars." It really does inspire me to want to learn to surf, but I sense that I am not coordinated enough and too old.

The other "running around" was the Calabasas Classic 10K that I managed to start AND finish today! I realize that usually is the idea behind signing up for road races, but you never know with me. This is actually my third race in three months! I ran a 10K back in September in Santa Monica, doubting that I would finish and then just hoping that I could finish under 60 minutes (which I did - yeah). And then back in October, I ran a really fast (for me) 5 mile run in Huntington Beach where I actually placed for my age group (I think there must have only been 2 women between 35-39 running!). So, finally, I decided to make today's run public, at least on my blog. I tell as few people in my day-to-day life as possible, which is neurotic and secretive, but I don't want people to identify me as a "runner". I already work with a few people who use that as large part of their identity, and I don't want to talk about running that much. Don't get me wrong, I am SO SO SO excited that I can run again, I consider myself very fortunate because my partner/husband wakes up early on weekend mornings to wait for me to finish a race, and I love to compete, but I don't need to share this with everyone in my life. With the entire blogworld - why not?

Anyway, here I am pre-race at the "Expo" - it was at a shopping mall which felt totally fabricated, probably because it was. I don't know what it is with these Southern CA malls but they all seem to seek some 'theme' in their architecture. This one, I believe, was sporting some Italian-villa-esque ambiance. All I know, a mall is still a mall.

If I look a little nervous, it's probably because I was. This race started later than the other races I'd run, AND it was a warm morning already, AND I heard that people normally ran the course 2 minutes slower than their usual time because of the hills. I was a bit disappointed because I had hoped to run a bit faster than my first 10K, now that I have stronger legs.
I crushed my disappointment at the end when I finished significantly faster than I had in my previous race, despite some of those wicked hills. Woo-hoo! I usually start off way too slow - that has always been how I've run, but I tried to push myself not only at the end, but also at the beginning. What was nice was that the course was two loops, so I knew when to push and when to hold back a little.
So, here I am at the end, looking like a HUGE dork with the medal but smiling with happiness and relief:

After the race, Michael, a friend of ours and I went to a deli for a nice, big breakfast. Well, I actually ate lunch, mainly french fries. Then, I came home and face planted into bed. I think that I'm about to eat the biggest lemon bar/slab for dessert now. Life could be worse.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

What's old is new and other odds and ends

Is it a bit selfish or myopic to say that boots and REI have renewed my faith in humanity? Since the electoral process left me feeling hungover and/or tired and certainly not very inspired when I considered our public officials. And to think that this was only the mid
-term cycle! All I know is that if I were Meg Whitman, I could have definitely spent 140 MILLION dollars on something better. Like supporting Prop 19. Okay, that's kind of a joke.
Since I don't have that much cash lying around, I try to find my happiness in smaller, everyday happenings. For instance, boots! REI sent my much-beloved hiking boots from Spring 2001 off to 'the shoe-sole guy'. I don't know who he is or what his name is, but he lives somewhere in Washington state and fixes shoes for REI. What a job! At any rate, I personally want to kiss this guy! Although the boots still look rather battered and worn, especially in the shitty light (and the photo, taken with a shitty iPhone), he fixed the soles! Well, replaced them. But the shoes should be more or less as good as new. I will keep my fingers crossed that they last at least another 8 years. Then, I won't complain when/if I have to invest in a new pair. In the meantime, it does bring me great happiness to have these back and to daydream about all of the trips that I will take in them!

On a different note, but still talking boots here, I have major lust for a new pair of boots this fall. Obviously boots are the "in" thing, and I already have two pairs of good boots that I like - one pair is black with a heel, the other boots are of the cowboy variety. I like them both very much, but an itch for a 'tougher' looking boot has certainly bit me. I actually went shopping for boots a few weekends ago but came up empty. And then, after looking on-line at Zappos, I discovered these beauties:

Yes, they are Doc Martens, and yes, I might be too old to pull them off. I am, however, obsessed. This obsession will have to wait until Thanksgiving weekend when we are in the San Francisco area and can go to a Doc Marten's store - how fortuitous! Until them, I will just dream about them.
And if they don't fit, I will cut off my bunion or my toes, just like Cinderella's sisters did. Beauty? At what price?

Finally, something that is both old and new: A French-press coffee maker/pot! Old, in the sense that I've used a French press coffee maker/pot for the past eight years of my life, but I've resigned myself to the fact that I have to buy a new one every few years because the pot breaks or one of the pieces falls apart. Last year, we bought a cheaper model - still Bodum, but, again, a cheaper model, and I kind of hated it. Well, we both did. I can't explain it, but the fit wasn't as tight and we couldn't screw all the pieces together well. If you have a French press, then you'll know about what I speak! So, yesterday morning, I woke up, put the kettle on the stove to heat up the water, and pulled out the coffee pot from the drying rack, only to discover that the glass carafe had broken - it was missing a huge piece of glass. I cursed the coffee pot, but then decided that now was as good a time as any to purchase a new Bodum.

And voilá! We have a new coffee pot - and it is RED! I was so set on replacing our coffee pot that I didn't even notice that it could be a different color. We pulled it out last night and after our initial surprise, we both decided that we liked the new color. This morning, when I made coffee, I also decided that I liked the new pot. All's well that ends well, or so it seems! Especially after a nice, strong cup of joe.