Sunday, July 29, 2007

progress during the dog days

I had two goals for this summer. First, I wanted to learn to play the 1st Movement of Beethoven's Pathetique Sonata. I'm doing OK on that one. I'm about halfway through (to the point where the very slow first section comes back again about 6 minutes into it). I play it at about this guy's tempo, too. Ideally it's meant to be quicker, but I'm happy where I am. I learned the 2nd Movement in the late spring. I've always thought it was one of the most beautiful pieces I've ever heard and still - every time I hear it - I float. I have no idea who this pianist is, by the way. I did a youtube search to find the pieces and he came up. I think he's a very good pianist, so I'm using him as an example. I have no desire to ever put myself playing up on youtube, but am dying to perform for someone. So neighbor M, if you're reading out in the midwest, I'll donate several bottles of wine to your collection if you indulge me.

I adore Beethoven. How can you listen to these pieces and not?

My second goal for the summer was to get into shape. In the past, when I've decided I needed to lose 5-10 pounds, I'd spend a couple of weeks carefully watching my calorie intake and exercising. Well. Apparently I've moved into *that* stage of life. Other than a week vacationing in Colorado, I've been very diligent for a month. And I've lost 3 pounds. Maybe. The good thing is that my legs are strong and I'm feeling and sleeping better. Rather than grouse about how your body and metabolism change as you get older, I'll just need to shift goals to cover the process rather than the outcome, and to have it be a much longer term goal than the summer. I've signed up for a trial run with a personal online trainer with one of the bloggers I follow. She is all about health and muscles and not of the "working for a size 4" variety, so I'm excited. I'm already envisioning myself with bulging biceps and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. A happy side effect of all this work is that my kids have eaten (and enjoyed) the likes of mango, starfruit, and asparagus just in the last couple of days. They still prefer poptarts and hotdogs but give me more time to work on them. They'll be snacking on soy nuts and tofu before you know it. (snort!!!)

P.S. The original Manchurian Candidate sure is a good movie. Frank Sinatra ROCKS.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Second-rate fans

I have been completely unmotivated to write this week, but seeing as how I now have a more than a week-old post still up as my "most recent", I'm embarrassed enough to write something, ANYTHING.

I spent the obligatory day (all day) Saturday reading Harry Potter. However, I was made to realize that we are really only second-rate fans. At 11:30 pm on Friday night, we all four got in the van to drive up to the bookstore for the midnight release. First stop was the outlet bookstore close to our house, where Q snagged HP VI a few years ago at 12:13 am. The mall was very quiet. We drove around it slowly, to convince ourselves that they really weren't open. I noticed a security guard noticing us, and noticed that she began walking rapidly toward our van. Being the caring mom that I am, I got the kids all worked up into a tizzy by shouting that she was coming to arrest us as John sped off. They didn't know whether to giggle or be freaked out. E delighted in telling us that she was so scared her "butt cheeks were tight." (She's my poet).

Next stop was Barnes and Noble. Which was definitely open. We squeezed our way in and I overheard an official looking lady at a desk tell a customer that yes, there were books available even if you hadn't registered for one, but they were selling the pre-ordered books first. All 783 of them. I choked and pushed my family out of the store.

Next stop was Books-a-million, which had a parking lot that was totally packed. People were parking on the street. We drove home and went to bed.

So although we tried to be fanatics, we simply didn't have the energy. It was just fine to drive back up to B&N at 9am the next morning and wait in line for 15 minutes before buying two books. (Yes, two. I don't trust Q enough not to spoil it for me so we both had our own books).

It was worth it.

P.S. Do NOT read the comments to this post unless you have finished HP or unless you don't care about spoilers!!!! Consider this fair warning. :-)

Sunday, July 15, 2007

defining my summer

2007 has become a "good" summer! (We're just back home from our trip to Colorado and are basking in the glow of an awesome vacation.) Thanks a multiple of a million times to mom and dad for making it happen!!!

First, I must say that my family and I have tasted the good life of first class with respect to flying and it's going to be hard to ever go back.
H. A. R. D.

So a few weeks ago, the airline contacted DH and told him they were overbooked for our flights home from Denver and asked if we would take a later flight if we were upgraded to business class/1st class. DH took it and I, always the supportive wife, gave him a hard time for not insisting on free tickets. But I was wrong. If you get the chance to go 1st it. Oh, for the love of Pete. Shorter lines for the airport security screenings, so much leg room I had to unbuckle to reach the seat pocket in front of me, special luggage tags with "priority" labels and the time of departure of each aircraft to minimize the chances of lost luggage, individual video units, warmed towels, fancy-schmancy foot rests, all the wine I wanted, pseudo-gourmet meals, and warmed nuts. WARMED NUTS, I tell you. It was crazy. I was looking for the foot masseuse to show up. E looked at me halfway home, curled up in her over sized seat reading a good book, half-eaten warm pastrami and roast sandwich and empty bowl (of warmed nuts) on her linen-covered table, hazy from the sugar-high from bottomless Sprite, and she told me she wanted to always go business class. My daughter has tasted the good life and there's no going back, I fear.

Anyway, I digress.

Colorado was fabulous. As expected. And due to the persistence of my sweet sister, I climbed a mountain, along with DH, Q, two sisters, and two nephews.

The one on the right is Flattop Mountain, and that's the one we climbed. We went from ~9000 feet to ~12000 feet in 4 miles (one-way). Hallett's Peak (the one on the left) was the original destination, but freezing cold, tornado-strength winds (I exaggerate only slightly), rain, and our ill-prepared group of east-coasters and Texans wearing shorts up on the tundra of the Rockies resulted in our turning back probably less than a half mile from the summit of Flattop.

There we are at the point we decided to turn around. I don't know why I'm smiling. It's really more of a grimace. It was miserable.

There wasn't much elevation gain left to do at that point (thus the name of the mountain) so I'm justified in stating with finality that we climbed it. Hallett's peak was only another .5 mile (500 feet or so higher) from Flattop and required a boulder scramble to the summit so who knows if we would have made it if the weather had been nicer that day (as is was for EVERY OTHER DAY of our entire trip). I think we would have. In any case, we climbed that freakin' mountain. We did!

Other activities included baseball (for Q, DH and my dad) at Coor's Field with the Rockies (including a rain delay in a storm that resulted in groundsmen being flung across the field as they clung to the tarp, according to the account and pictures from DH),

horse riding...

(Happy? You think?)

..., picnics, Fall River Road and Trail Ridge Road, dominoes, cards, cook-outs, laughing, and lots and lots of songs from "Annie" (courtesy of the little girl cousins). It's a think?...

It was a good vacation.

Oh, and I almost forgot!! We had Leonado DeCaprio as a ranger guide for a nature walk we took.

See? Told ya'. There he is signing E's Junior Ranger book. He was so cute (in a very young Leonardo kind of way) that I forgave him for giving wrong information about the amount of oxygen available at higher altitudes and for being wrong about the height of Long's Peak by 2000 feet. Kismet for being given dimples.)

Thursday, July 05, 2007


Yay! Before sunrise tomorrow, we depart for this general vicinity.

Then we'll head here.

PTA financial report has been prepared for the audit and passed along. Movies have been returned, as have library books. Trash has been taken to the dump. Check, check, check, check. Sammy the Great Hunter is safely locked away in his prison cell at the vet's and arrangements have been made to leave Roxy the Great Goof with a friend. Mail held, Newspaper held. Kids have packed and husband has packed. I, however, have not begun to pack (too busy doing all this other stuff). I wonder if all this stuff really would not get done if I didn't do it?

In other news - Happy Birthday to MEEEEE!!!! :-)

Be back in a week or so....happy from breathing fresh air and hiking in the mountains and play cards and dominos with my family...

Sunday, July 01, 2007

keeping busy

Well, my friends are gone. E keeps drawing pictures of broken hearts and crying little girls and writing poems about lost friends. Of course she really is very very upset, but her love the Miss Drama Queen side of her personality is helping her enjoy making a production out of it. Oh well. If that's how she needs to deal with it then so be it. Besides, I like her poems. They're very lyrical and touching, actually. I think she may be very talented with words.

Some of the changes that this move will cause became very evident for me last night. We went to our friends' house for an impromptu cookout. Normally, Lili would have been there too and the two girls would have played all night. As it is now, E spent her time annoying Q and they fought the entire night, until I sent Q home by himself (just down the road). Gah. Despite that, it was fun and I hugged friend DF and told him "See? We still get to have fun even though we were abandoned!" (Miss Drama Queen E comes by it naturally). DF and his wife were hosting a couple from Austria through SERVAS last night so we got to chat with them for a while. They were very interesting and fun, and the SERVAS concept is very fascinating to me. I don't know if I'm brave enough to join, but what a neat thing.

I went to the local Farmer's Market yesterday morning for a quick (and small) stock-up on fresh veggies, and then I picked up my family and we went to pick 11 pounds of blueberries at a local farm. I'm feeling rather full from eating fresh beans, potatos, slices of fresh cucumbers and tomatoes with salt and pepper, and blueberry pie. J wrote about blueberry pies earlier this week so I went online and found a good, simple recipe. I took it to the cookout last night so it's long gone, but I think I'll make another one today for the dinner party I'm throwing for my PTA officers. Goodness knows I have enough blueberries to make about 40 of them.

Food really is so much tastier fresh. Lynne wrote about this very subject in her blog a few weeks ago too. Something about summer makes me start to crave fresh produce. The warming sun and the smell of the earth must bring out some primal farmer hidden in me. The act of picking the blueberries was awesome, too. I hadn't been there before when they were this abundant. You could stand in one place and reach out your hand to bunches of gorgeous, fat, ripe blueberries in at least a dozen directions. The earth was just throwing food into my hands.

Speaking of food, I'm having fun planning for my dinner party tonight. We'll start with olive tapenade and crackers, and maybe some strawberries. I've decided on Giuseppe's lentil soup recipe, and spinach/ricotta calzones from the Moosewood Cookbook. One friend will bring a caesar salad, one will bring the wine, and I'll finish it off with another blueberry pie (with real whipped cream of course). Yum. My plan was to get serious again about losing weight once the big Month-Long-sendoff party (tm) was over, but it doesn't seem to be happening. Oh well. Tomorrow. Really.