Don't forget about the A to Z blogging challenge coming up in April - you can click on the icon in the sidebar to sign up! I'll be doing my HoCo-centric posts at 9pm every evening. Bonus points to anyone who can guess what topic I'll be covering each day!

With the exception of food v. food (which will resume Apr 8), A to Z will take up much of my normal blogging schedule. This is kind of a deviation from the original plan, but unfortunately I'm finding myself with less time to tap away on blogger these days.

Speaking of food... I'll be in DC shortly for a conference at the Washington Convention Center. Any suggestions for tasty affordable eats? 

Did you attend the Aquatics Master Plan Meetings last night and tonight? I missed both, would love to hear thoughts (blogs, etc).

Halfway through the week! Good bye, Wednesday!


April or Bust

I had some goals for March. I didn't make a lot of them.

By Eirik Newth  [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

This might come as a surprise, given my sometimes-slacker 'tude and occasional failure to remember things, but it really bothers me when that happens. I don't like falling short. And that's sort of what I did, both in training and writing.

For training, I completed the National Half, but I was unhappy with my preparation and performance - more on that when I do the race report. 

For NaNoEdMo, I will be happy if I log 25 hours before the end of the month. It is not possible for me to finish 50 hours between now and then and remain sane. 

On the bright side...

I ran all 13.1 miles of National Half with virtually no knee pain. This is a vast improvement from three weeks ago. I will find another half to do in a few months and try for my goal time then. And until then, I will focus April on building strength, and building mileage in a way that does not re-aggravate my ITB.

For NaNoEdMo, much of the time I didn't spend editing, I spent either writing or reading. I don't consider this wasted time at all. It just means I will need to build editing time into April so I can make progress on this novel.

"Silver Lining" By ImUnicke (Own work) [GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons


Guest Post: I haz it.

I have a guest post, y'all!

Someone actually was willing to publish my opinion(s) on her blog. That someone is author (and runner!) LM Stull. She said I could rant talk about whatever writing-related topic I chose - struggles/successes, books, reading, whatever.

I wrote about dialogue. Specifically, how I struggle with it and some things that have made it easier (or at least, seemed to help).

I also talk about what I learned from the Greatest Worst Movie Ever, "The Room."

Check out LM Stull's blog here. It's a great blog, with author interviews, guest posts, short fiction, and writing-related topics.


Dining at the Kings

I am about to commit a great sin in food blogging; I am going to discuss a meal at a restaurant without pictures. :(  The food was very pretty, but I get strange looks from time to time when I whip out my cell phone and start snapping away at restaurants - and that's when I'm out with Matt. Tonight, I was out with my book club, and although they're very nice women, I don't know most of them that well. So I decided to keep the strange-factor to a minimum. 

But I do want to blog about the meal, because we were at the King's Contrivance. I've never been there, and it's higher up on the scale of restaurants than I normally visit. So here we go! (hocofood@@@)

The King's Contrivance is high-end "New American" dining. The restaurant is in a converted house off of Shaker Drive, atop a hill with a pretty circular driveway. Once you pass through the front door, a brilliant shade of red, you can see that the dining "room" is actually "rooms" - which makes the setup seem more intimate. The Maitre d' guided me upstairs to the party I was meeting, a group of about sixteen which took up the whole of the one large table in the room. This would be a great space for a dinner meeting or family celebration.

The restaurant offers a prix-fixed menu for 29.00, as well as their full menu. They offered a surprising number of options for the prix-fixed menu, though, so while I was tempted by some of the other offerings (escargot, panko-crusted brie, and the roquefort-crusted filet, to be precise) I went for the three-course meal.

I started with a bowl of seafood bisque, which was creamy and loaded with a few shrimp, big chunks of fresh crabmeat, and a few spoonfuls of rice (which was interesting, I've never had rice in bisque before). The soup was incredibly rich and had just a touch of sherry. I was really impressed with how perfectly the shrimp were cooked... I was less impressed with the fact that the cook did not remove the tail vein (which made one piece actually gritty). I know it's a pain to remove; I do it when I cook shrimp at home (and I don't need a gadget). Maybe I'm being picky, but seeing shrimp that's not properly cleaned, particularly at a nice restaurant, seems like carelessness or laziness to me.

The main coarse was pan-roasted Norwegian salmon, a thick slab of fish that came propped up on a thin corncake about the width of a waterglass. The salmon was very pretty, golden-crisp around the edges. It came drizzled with a wasabi vinaigrette that wasn't at all spicy, but lent a tangy salty flavor (like miso and rice wine vinegar) to the fish. Microgreens and a few fried wontons gave texture and crunch. The fish melted away in my mouth, perfectly cooked all the way through. Fantastic. Room-falls-silent-as-everyone-digs-in good. 

Alongside the fish were small, equally-sized mounds of seaweed salad and pickled ginger. I usually think of pickled ginger as a condiment or palate cleanser, so it was a little confusing to see so much of it... but I love it, so that totally worked for me. The corncake was nice with a fancy scalloped edge, mild in flavor, studded with whole kernels. This main dish was awesome. I could eat it every day.

For the last course, I chose the dessert of the day - strawberry shortcake made with strawberry gelato. Given the chill of the weekend, this was like a taste of spring. The biscuit was light and sweet and tender, a nice contrast to the cold, dense gelato. A dollop of heavy whipped cream decorated the plate and punched up the richness factor, but the intense strawberry flavor of the sauce (with some chopped fresh strawberries) kept the richness from becoming overwhelming. The portion size was perfect after the first two courses.

The service was polite and efficient. 

As someone who doesn't go out to high-end restaurants often, I'm pretty satisfied with my meal. Everything I tasted was delicious, and other peoples' food looked awesome. I'd like to go back some time, maybe for a very special occasion, and try some other items on the menu. I'm also curious to see if the experience is different for a party of two or four (versus a group of 16; I always wonder if I'm seeing the best side of a place when I go there for the first time with a large group). 

Have you been to The King's Contrivance?  Where are your favorite splurge-dining-spots? Tell me in the comments below!


Food versus Food: Morning Sunshine

It might not seem so, but I've become a morning person from habit, not nature. I've already mentioned the powerful draw of breakfast food in the Flapjack Fight... but that's not the end of breakfast.

Before I work out in the morning, I usually have something light to eat - a piece of toast, a handful of almonds, a cereal bar. And when I'm done? I'm hungry. What I appreciate most about my quick week-day "second breakfast" (besides the company) is its completeness: carbs and protein (and, let's face it, fat and salt) to keep me going through the rest of the day. Few things beat a good second breakfast. 

So I give you... today's contenders! (hocofood@@@)

Contender #1: Sausage, egg, and cheese sandwich at Lakeside Deli and Cafe.

Lakeside is a small cafe on the ground level of 10227 Wincopin Circle in Columbia. Large glass windows do double-duty, spilling bright morning sunshine into the space while providing a nice view of the lakefront downtown. Patrons have their choice of seating, from cushy, comfortable chairs to small tables. The service is friendly and punctual.

It was easy to pick my sandwich: sausage, egg, and cheese. I had my choice of bagel, toast, or croissant... and decided to change things up and go with the latter.

Sausage Egg and Cheese Croissant and coffee at Lakeside Deli.

My sandwich came out quickly - barely a minute after I'd fixed up my coffee and sat down - piping hot and tucked in a thin deli-paper wrapping. My first thought was that I'd forgotten to ask them to toast the croissant a bit, but when I unwrapped the sandwich, I realized they'd at least touched it to the grill - the croissant was warm, just shy of crisp. It was also buttery and flaky, exactly what I wanted.

The sausage patty was pretty much what I expected in terms of flavor, and I appreciated how the croissant picked up some of that flavor as I was eating. The eggs tasted fresh and were perfectly cooked - no bits that were too-brown or burnt, not too dry. The only thing I wanted was more cheese, or a more assertive cheese. A sharp white cheddar would have been really nice instead of the standard American.

The interior of Lakeside Deli.

All in all, my breakfast - a large coffee included - came to $5.82, and was delivered quickly. I was sorry to leave the pretty scene, but timing also plays a role in second breakfast.

Which brings us to....

Contender #2: Sausage, egg, and cheese eggel at the Bagel Bin.

I've already reviewed the merits of the Bin for its bagels, but I do spend a lot of time there so I wanted to match the Bagel Bin's signature breakfast sandwich - the Eggel - against my Lakeside find. Given that I spend an inordinate amount of time at Bagel Bin, I focused this FvF, like before, on this single visit. 

I went to the Wilde Lake Bagel Bin, which is located at 10451 Twin Rivers Road. The people behind the counter were friendly and my order was ready within a few minutes

Bagel Bin offers choices when it comes to Eggels - bagels, of course, but also cheese (provolone, munster, american, cheddar, or swiss). I went with American, and asked for a toasted supreme bagel. My total, with a refill coffee in my travel mug, came to roughly $6.30.

I really liked the amount of toast that was on the bagel: just enough to punch up the flavor and make it crunchy, but not so much that all of the spices on the outside were burnt. I thought the sausage patty tasted almost identical to Lakeside's

The eggs were different, however. It seemed like the egg layer was a thin sheet of egg that had been folded together around some American cheese - without the cheese, it seemed a bit dry. There was a good amount of cheese on the sandwich, though, and with a few exceptions where the cheese failed to collect, it made the egg layers seem more moist.

With the bagel, this sandwich was extremely filling and definitely held me over to the afternoon.

The Decision: I liked both of these breakfast sandwiches. I thought Lakeside was a slightly better value - even with the discount for bringing my travel mug, Bagel Bin was more expensive. I also liked the interior space of Lakeside (it made me wish I had a mobile workplace), and appreciated the rapidity of service. On the other hand, Bagel Bin's friendly staff makes it a great place to start my day. The Eggel was filling and tasty.

On the basis of flavor, as well as the other factors listed above, I declare the winner to be.... Lakeside Deli!

Where do you go for Second Breakfast? Tell me in the comments below!


CA Aquatics Master Plan

Next week - on Tuesday evening at The Other Barn and on Wednesday evening at The Hawthorne Center - Columbia Association's Aquatics Department will be holding Master Planning meetings. The purpose of these meetings is, essentially, to involve the community in the future of CA Aquatics. (my paraphrasing, the website says it better) (hocoblogs@@@)

There's even a video. And a flyer.

Now... to get some disclosures out of the way... I help train CA lifeguards. I am not connected to the Master Plan meeting, or the Master Plan, and this blog post (actually, my entire blog) contains my own opinions and thoughts and not that of CA/CA Aquatics or any past or present employers.

There, I think I covered all the bases. Whew.

Anyway, my opinion is this: you should go to a meeting.  And if you can't get to either meeting, check with the website and look for a recap of the discussion. Send your input to Aquatics. Let your voice be heard.

It's my opinion that access to pools is one of the many things that makes Columbia special. This isn't necessarily a 'luxury.' Access to a pool allows kids to get involved more easily in what's a life-saving skill. Swimming is a rewarding and healthy sport. It builds confidence and friendships, and activity - something that's really needed these days, what with global obesity rates.

2008 Obesity Rates in USA
From Epidemiology of Obesity.
Picture from WikiMedia Commons.
Used under Creative Commons and GFDL.

As a kid, I spent huge chunks of my summers at the pools. There was a community there - I had pool friends, did summer swim team things, etc. My best friend today is someone I met through CA Aquatics years ago. 

So is my nemesisHmm. Take note. ;)

Anyway, the Master Plan meeting is an opportunity to help the Aquatics department make sure that this fantastic resource is serving the community. Even if you've rarely used the pools in the past, consider going - tell them what you want to see, that would make you want to use the pool more frequently. And consider changing that pattern anyway. It's never too late, just take it one lap at a time!


Monday, Monday.


Still, life is really good. :D

A couple of things, in case you missed it...

HoCoRising is working on a really cool project to end homelessness in Howard County. Phase one of the initiative is to raise money for the Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center. There's also a "Team Anonymous" challenge via Sarah Says. I talked a little while ago about how awesome it is when people harness the power of the internets for good. If you can, please help support this great initiative. 

You can also check out a detailed post on the HoCo Homeless situation and current initiatives on HoCoConnect.

HCR, HowChow, and Patch also posted that Michael's in KC is closing tomorrow. Sad news.

WB meets Max, a yellow lab, at the Howard County Animal Welfare Society. Sadly, there are always fur friends that need forever homes. He says Max is a very sweet one.

53 Beers gives his take on the Harper's Choice Village Warbanner Logo (and several other things).

Erinn has started weekly Peeps Jousting on her blog. Someone call PETA. 

Remember the Bucket List Blogfest? Jeff has already knocked one item off his list.

Finally, O'Shanks got engaged this weekend!!!!! I will let the number of exclamation points I've used say the rest, although I will add that I look forward to the future with my amazing man, and am so glad to be a part of his wonderful family (and that he's a part of mine).


Bad Moon on the Rise

You've probably heard by now that Saturday evening we'll have a perigean full moon.

Also known as "Super Moon."

(That cover was pretty different - kind of why I like it.)

When the moon is at its "perigee," it's at its closest point to the planet. The opposite, when the moon is at its furthest point, is called "apogee." This is the first time perigee has coincided with a full moon in about twenty years. 

There was an almost "Super Moon" in 2008, according to an article in USA TodayThe Super Moon of 2011 will be about 2% closer than that event. Or, this much.

Moonrise is scheduled for 7:37pm.

So what's the point? Well, the consensus seems... not much. Tides might be a bit high, but there's no need to fear swarms of natural disasters.

To seque "neatly" from natural disasters... there's information abound on the internets that talk about moon:menstruation links and lunar fertility cycles; however, a study that looked at lunar cycles and IVF suggested any connection was borderline and oversimplification at best

A different study suggests a possible link between the moon cycle and attacks of "pseudogout." Tides, which are of course the result of the gravitational forces between the earth and moon, may also play a role in controlling global temperature when the tides are "extreme."

Yeah, you didn't see all that science coming, did you?

It should be a nice weekend, weather-wise, so enjoy some time outside with a warm beverage and take a look at the sky. That's my plan, anway.

Although I'll be keeping an eye out for were-wolves. (Silver bullets might be a good idea, too.)


Food versus Food: Upping the (cheese)Steaks

Is it possible to get a good cheesesteak outside of Philadelphia?

Thinly sliced steak, just the right balance of grease, oozing cheese of indiscriminate origin, all soaking into a long sub roll that still maintains both a textural bite and a pleasant flavor...


...actually, I've never had an "authentic" cheesesteak from within the Philly city limits. I will be able to tell you in a few months (road trip!). Until then, let me rephrase the question.

Where is it possible to get a good cheesesteak in the HoCo? (hocofood@@@)

And that, my friends, brings us to the newest round of Food Versus Food - starting with...

Contender #1: Mombo Cheesesteak at Simmies Arirang Hill Cheesesteak in Columbia.

Simmies (Arirang Hill?), tucked away at 10750 Hickory Ridge Rd Ste 101, is short on frills and big on flavor. Mombo flavor, that is. This condiment, a sweet, reddish, slightly spicy sauce that reminds me of sweet chili sauce, appears on cheesesteaks, wings, and even fries. Fun trivia: Mombo/Mambo/Mumbo sauce may have origins in this area.

Simmies is strictly carryout. And it might... sorta... look a little shady. A yellowing post clipping that declares Arirang Hill Cheesesteaks "Acceptable" in a 1999 WaPo feature hangs from the wall. But Simmies has served Columbia for 20 years, and the gentleman behind the counter was patient, friendly, and efficient.

I walked out ten minutes later with an 8" mombo cheesesteak with lettuce, tomato, and fried onion. Oh, and a side of fries. The whole meal set me back just over $8.

This meal smelled amazing. The fries, golden and screaming hot, were dusted with a combination of salt and pepper. Ketchup was on offer, too, though I declined at the store. The spice from just that little bit of ground pepper really upped the ante as far the fries were concerned.

Mombo cheesesteak and fries from Simmies Arirang Hill.
I couldn't find the picture that showed the filling.
As for the cheesesteak... the thinly sliced steak was hot and tender. The fried onions melted away into the meat - I could barely tell they were there, aside from the little bit of savory and sweet they added. The cheese, too, clung to the pieces of meat almost like a sauce, all melty, by the time I got in to the sandwich. This was not a healthy meal - I could tell it was greasy - but at the same time, I never came across lumps of fat or gristle in the steak. 

The roll was probably my least favorite part of the cheesesteak. A pretty pale gold and soft, it was very mild in taste. I would have preferred a slightly more flavorful bread, although it did a good job of soaking in the cheesesteak juices and the mombo sauce, so it all worked out in the end.

I was stuffed after my dinner at Simmies. (share? what? huh? can't hear you!)  That didn't mean I wasn't looking forward to...

Contender #2: Philly cheesesteak with lettuce, tomato, pickles, and mayo at Philly's Best Pizza & Subs in Columbia.

Philly's Best is just like a standard pizza takeout place. Located on 5134 Thunder Hill Road (right by the pool), they offer carryout and counter service. There are about half a dozen tables for eating-in. I zeroed in on the 8" cheesesteak, which was offered as a combo with fries and a 20 oz. soda for about $8.50. 

The staff churned out my order quickly and efficiently, a bonus for those (aka, Me) who want hot food on the run, but I had enough time to catch some Family Guy on the TV in the corner and further browse the menu. I got the sense that most of their business this time of year is delivery.

I really liked the fries. They were brown and crispy and salty. They reminded me of the "beer battered" fries available at Late Night in the dining hall at UM. I was eating them out of the bag as I headed to my car. And then as I was headed in to work. Yum!

Philly's Best cheesesteak combo.
A few fries were 'lost' in transit.
The cheesesteak was... huge. The first thing I noticed was the roll, actually. The sub roll was baked to a deep brown, and it was sturdy enough that it didn't get soggy during transport. The flavor of the bread was really great, too - like a nice, toasty (although not toasted) italian bread. The inside was just soft enough to sop up the flavors of the sandwich.

Also, this cheesesteak was stuffed full of thinly sliced steak. There was an imbalance of cheese and steak - the cheese was pretty much lost, actually, although I could sort of taste it while I was eating. The steak itself was thinly sliced and chopped-at, with the good beefy flavor that can often be found in the cheap cuts. There were a few chunks of gristle in the meat, which is also par for the course with the cheap cuts. I was ok with that.

I will say, I could not finish this cheesesteak. Too much food. But every last bite was tasty and delicious. It was difficult, but eventually I came to....

The Decision: Both carry out places are awesome, and they were new to me. I'll happily return to try other things on the menu. But based on the cheesesteak battle, I declare Simmies Arirang Hill Carry Out the winner! I really liked the flavor of the mombo sauce, but I thought the sandwich was pretty high quality, a good value, and satisfying.

Where do you go for your local cheesesteak fix? Tell me in the comments below!


Luck of the Irish

I'm not sure what it is - maybe sleep deprivation by DST - but I've had two semi-close-calls with vehicles on my early morning runs this week, which are almost always through neighborhoods. (it's not really a wise idea to run on the paths after dark.)

Please don't tell my mother.

This morning was actually a little scary. A sedan was driving on a smaller residential street that terminates at Great Star Drive. We were running across said space. Instead of slowing to stop, the car kept right on rolling. A quicker-of-mind running companion put his arm out quickly to stop me, and the car stopped pretty much where we would have been.

Appropriate hand gestures (not the rude ones, surprisingly) were made on both sides.

I will also add that it was light outside (maybe around 7:00-ish, the sun was mostly up), we were a cluster of five runners (so more visible), and while I hadn't donned my reflective vest, I was wearing a combination of mostly light-colored dark clothing. (ie, I was not wearing an invisible pedestrian outfit)

Now, I understand that the responsibility goes both ways. I know that pedestrians are not always safe. I know it's better to assume that a car is not going to turn or stop or whatever, because a runner never wins in runner vs. car. I know that choosing to run on a road requires planning and attention, and that certain roads/shoulders/etc are not appropriate for pedestrian use.

I'm also pretty sure that no one wants a SwimWriteRun-sized dent in the hood of their car.

But if the driver hadn't clearly been going for a "rolling stop", he would have stopped at the appropriate distance. And there would have been no stress.

It makes me angry to hear complaints about motorcyclists, bicyclists, or pedestrians from drivers. Particularly as a runner or a motorcyclist, I've often seen cars start to behave erratically when they realize I'm there. It's better to drive normally. Do what you're supposed to do. That's what the runner or motorcyclist is expecting and planning for. Failing to do so creates an unsafe situation. Look around you before you proceed. Communicate your decisions with blinkers and adequate stop time. Understand right of way laws. 

End rant (which I'm pretty sure was just preaching to the choir anyway. I mean, you're reading SwimWriteRun. You are clearly awesome, and not the sort of person I am ranting about at all). 

Also, today is some kind of holiday. Liberalia, I think. ;)

If you're out celebrating, enjoy and be safe

I got sparked.

Ok, that's kind of a weird post title.

Moving on...

I wanted to share something I did a few weeks back. There's a cool online project out there, for those of you into writing or with an artistic streak, called Spark. If I remember correctly, Meghan first told me about it (THANKS!).

Spark pairs artists and writers. Each partner provides an inspiration piece for the other. Then, over the next ten days, the writer or artist responds to the partner's inspiration piece through their preferred medium.

There are a few Spark rounds per year (Feb, May, Aug, and Oct).

I've participated a few times, and it's been an interesting exercise. Sometimes writing to the inspiration piece is really difficult - not because the piece is bad, but because it takes me a while to get moving. 

One of the most amazing things about Spark, for me, is seeing someone's reaction to something I wrote. Another is the sheer breadth of skill and creativity that goes into each round.

Each round, from the writing standpoint, I don't expect to turn out a fully finished piece. I know I will end up with a rough draft that will get honed and stretched, twisted and smoothed later. That's fine for me.

This year, Spark 11, I got paired with a pretty cool artist/writer/blogger from the UK. She writes a great blog called Daily Bread

I was floored by Val's inspiration piece. It was a little difficult getting started because I felt pulled in several directions. I felt a ton of possibilities, with three or four stories kicking around in my head. 

After about a week of thinking about it, I realized I kept returning to one specific image. From that one, I started writing.

The result (my response to Val's work) is here.

I really loved her response to the inspiration piece I sent, too. 

Curious? Don't be shy, sign up for the next round, coming up in May. 


A to Z Blogging Challenge

I figured I'd take a minute to mention this. RetiredKnitter over at My Next 20 Years Of Living found a really cool blogging activity called "A to Z Blogging Challenge." 

Basic premise is this: blog every day in April (except for Sundays). Start each post with a new letter of the alphabet. April 1 is A, and so on.

So yeah, I'm doin' it. If you want to join in, you can click the links, or the graphic above or in the sidebar. I'll wait.




So what will I write about, you ask? There's no content restriction in the actual challenge, but I'm giving myself a theme. 

I'll be blogging about where I live - places to go, things to do, food to eat, and hopefully more. My goal is to learn more about a community that I like to think I know well. (hocoblogs@@@) 

As of right now, I haven't really planned anything out. So... it's anyone's guess how hard or easy this challenge will be!

I'll also have scheduled content, so fear not, Food Versus Food fans.

You can find the posts, starting in April, under the label "A to Z".

Happy Wednesday!


Aaah, Zombies!

You know those terrible, bloody, stupid zombie movies?

I'm not talking about the ones where the zombies are actually scary - freaky, fast-moving, impossible-to-escape mauling machines. I'm talking about the slow shuffle, pop-out-from-around-corners-to-nom-stupid-characters films. 

Alright, well this movie is kind of like that, but with a twist that makes it interesting and, at times, funny. 

The premise is actually really creative. 

Not knowing anything about the film (it was Matt's pick) I watched the first two minutes and dismissed it. Five minutes later, I looked back and was hooked. Had I known, I would have stuck out the first scene. (snap judgment fail)

Check out the trailer and judge for yourself! 


In the news...

I was not glued to the television this weekend. We don't get channels on our TV, so I was not able to sit in front of the extensive coverage about the crisis in Japan. I got my news via the internet and word of mouth.

When I checked in to the internets tonight, these were the "trending" or "hot" topics on WaPo's front page.

There is serious stuff going on in the world. Good thing they quick-linked to some solid relationship advice

Talk about an odd moment.

In any case... it's hard to look at the pictures. It's hard to wrap my head around the numbers coming through the reports, the sheer scale of what happened and the struggle that continues. It's hard to see people in so much pain.

There are ways to help. I've listed a few here.

The Red Cross (or text REDCROSS 90999 to donate $10, billed to your wireless account)
International Medical Corps (or text MED to 80888 to donate $10, billed to your wireless account)
Save The Children
Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund
The Salvation Army (or text JAPAN or QUAKE to 80888 to donate $10, billed to your wireless account)
Mercy Corps (or text MERCY to 25283 to donate $10, billed to your wireless account)
Shelter Box


Thank you!

It's my birthday today!

As I mentioned during the Bucket List Blogfest (which was Awesome, you guys rock!), I tend to get reflective this time of year. This year, it was looking forward. 

Last year, I was kind of in a low place. So I turned the lead-in to my birthday into a blog project that demanded some pretty intense self-examination. Looking back at where I was then, and where I am now, I think I'm at least on the right track. 

This is a nice feeling. And it reminds me of how much I have to celebrate.

WikiMedia, used under terms of creative commons.

So the only thing left is to say thank you.

Thanks to all my family and friends for being so wonderful and supportive.

Thank you for the smiles or hugs or notes or signs of encouragement that seem like small things, but really are big things.

Thank you to all of you who read what I write and leave your own thoughts.

Thank you for writing blogs, articles, stories and/or novels that move me.

Thank you for running with me (or listening to me blab on about running).

Thanks for being a great person.

Rock on. :)


The Bucket List Blog Fest!

Hooray! It's TIME!

For what, you ask?

The Bucket List BlogFest, of course!

For this Blog Fest, Blog-Fest-ers (Festoons?) were meant to come up with an 'ultimate list' of things they want to do. That list could be big-picture like life goals, or focused on something related to their blog/topic of interest. 

And since I somehow edited left out the recommendation for five items in both promo posts (whoops!), people have complete freedom over their list. :) The only rule was to post their blog to the Mr. Linky Widget below.

You can find a list of participants below!

Now, on to my 5.  These are not listed in order of priority...

1. Spend a month in one of the following places: Provence, France; Sardinia, Italy; and Istanbul, Turkey.
These are all places where, when I see pictures or hear about them, I realize I want to do nothing more but go there, eat, drink, and wander. I like travel shows, but something struck me as special in each place. I would like to take a few weeks, rent an apartment or something, and find out what that is.

2. Write novels that other people want to read.
Writing is solitary, and it's difficult. Really, I know I can only write for myself... it's impossible to do otherwise. Still, I want people to read my work. Oh, yeah. An Oprah Book Club Sticker would be nice, too. Maybe that can be #6.

3. Grow a family.
I kinda debated putting this one in here, and I wasn't sure how to word it - in part because it's so personal, but also because I have a great family, one that includes mine and Matt's. Still, I'll eventually be ready to ignore the ominous warnings of my sometimes frustrated mother during my childhood: "someday, you'll have kids just like you, and then you'll understand!" 

4. Retire to a beach house in the Outer Banks.
Maybe not a wise plan with global warming and "rising sea levels", but I love the OBX. I'd love to buy a small beach house down there and, when it's finally time to stop working, disappear there for a while.

5. Run a 100-miler.
Actually, the ultimate goal stemmed from a desire to run Badwater. I've read about it and, as horrible as it sounds... my interest was piqued. But since the chances of me getting in are slim, a 100-miler seems like a seriously formidable challenge to tackle in the coming years.

Thanks for reading my list, I look forward to reading the great entries below!