Monday, August 24, 2009

Daily Goals

The fall semester starts next week. As I prepare the goals for the classes I'm teaching this next semester, I started thinking about setting some personal goals of my own. One of the issues I've been examining for my next 50 years has been how to find balance in my life between my career, my family, and my self. So I came up with a set of daily goals for myself:

1. Write every day.
2. Draw every day.
3. Exercise every day.
4. Listen to music that I want to listen to every day.
5. Encourage my children every day.
6. Let my family know that I love them every day.
7. Do not work after 5:00 pm on weekdays.
8. Do not work on weekends.

I don't have any answers yet - but creating this list might get me on the right track. I'll work on why I have a tough time finding balance tomorrow.


Friday, August 21, 2009

Caramel Apples

My kids love to go to the grocery store with me. Why? Because they know that by distracting me they can get me to say yes to all kinds of goodies. They are masters at this. They also offer to help by going off on search missions for items on the list. They bring back the desired item and slip in extras. They know what snacks are my weakness and will also bring these back to the cart. I am defenseless against this type of tactic.

So tonight we had to go get something for dinner. I was determined to be strong. I said no to everything. I didn’t let anything slip past my eagle eye. Then they tried a new tactic. They asked permission. They actually asked me if we could make caramel apples. They actually asked! How could I resist!

So my daughter and I just took two caramel apples out of the oven and are waiting for them to cool. This is such a great snack! I might actually save those Pringles I stashed under my bed for another time.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Booking Through Thursday: Recent Best

This weeks Booking Through Thursday posting asks what is the best book you've read recently. It would be The Help by Kathryn Stockett - which I just finished two days ago. This was our most recent book club selection - and I highly recommend it. The book examines how three courageous women from Jackson, Mississippi in 1962, rise above the roles they were born into during a time when our nation was struggling with segregation and racism.

It will soon be my turn for a book club selection and I still haven't decided what I'm going to pick. Any suggestions?


Sunday, August 16, 2009


One of the courses I developed teaches students how to write code for computer games on a cell phone. When we get to the part where you learn the code to move an animated character around the screen, one of the animation examples I use is a green zombie. When developing the example, I did a Google search for zombies and came across a blog that posed the following question:

You are backed into an alley by a pack of zombies. You have:

1. One weapon
2. One song blasting on the radio
3. One famous person to fight alongside you


1. A crowbar.
2. Bad Moon Rising by Creedence Clearwater Revival.
3. Buffy. I never got the whole Edward/Twilight attraction thing when the movie came out. When I saw this video, I knew I’d want Buffy by my side when the zombies attack. Buffy rules.

How about you?

Friday, August 14, 2009


So – I was putting some socks in my sock drawer today thinking I needed to get some more socks. As I tried to shove the clean socks in the drawer, poking in those socks that were sticking their little heads out the top of the drawer and gasping for air, I realized that I must already own about 100 socks.

There is a reason for this.

In 6th grade I only had one pair of socks that didn’t have holes in them. They were a pair of white polyester knee socks. We had a music teacher who taped a scale of piano keys (starting with C) on the floor at the front of the class. Each day she would call on a student to come up, take off their shoes, and stand on the first key in the scale. She would then call out a note and you would then move to step on the corresponding piano key.

I wore those white polyester knee socks to school every single day until my name was called to take my turn on those piano keys. To this day I can not identify the keys on a piano. My daughter – when she was 7 – tried to teach me but I was incapable of remembering. I am, however, prepared for the event that I may have to take my shoes off at any given moment.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Recent Worst Books

Today’s Booking Through Thursday topic asks for the worst book you’ve read lately. I belong to two book clubs and most books I would list as the worst I’ve read would be book club selections. I like being exposed to books I might not normally choose – and some of my favorite books have been book club selections – but the same can be said for the worst.

Here are the most recent:

The Orientalist by Tom Reiss – This book was great for the historians and anthropologists in my book club. It was a tough read for the rest of us.

Eat Pray and Love by Elizabeth Gilbert – I couldn’t get past her narcissistic self-indulgence. Although I tip my hat to her ingenious idea.

Exposed: The Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products by Mark Shapiro – Too redundant. Reading one article on the internet summed the entire book up quite succinctly.

The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory - Just didn't grab me.

Rather than end this with a list of the worst books I’ve read recently, here is a list of some of the best books I have read recently:

City of Thieves by David Benioff – A great and grim story.

Memoir From Antproof Case by Mark Helprin – Wonderful tale. Thrilling descriptions of flying a bomber plane. The main character loved his women fantastically.

Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje – A beautiful and poetic story.

She Got up off the Couch: And Other Heroic Acts from Mooreland, Indiana by Haven Kimmel – Joyful, tearful, and inspiring.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Women Swimmin' at Cayuga Lake

On Saturday I participated in a fundraising event called Women Swimmin’ for our local Hospice Care Center. After my oldest son’s death I went to grief counseling at the Hospice Center. I wanted to give something back so I decided to sign up for Women Swimmin’ this year. So on August 8th, along with almost 300 other women, I swam the width of Cayuga Lake. We had to raise a minimum of $125 to participate in this event. It was a 1.2 mile swim – with lots of kayakers along for support.

The swimmers were divided up into two waves. Each wave was divided up into pods of about 15 women each. A huge two story boat took one wave at a time from the dock at the Ithaca Yacht Club over to the shore at Ivy Point – on the other side of the lake. Each pod took turns jumping from the boat into the lake. Kayakers were there waiting for us and escorted us the 1.2 miles back as we swam.

I loved being a part of this community event. I can’t find the right words to describe how it felt to be one of the women who participated in this swim. It was exhilarating, emotional, and empowering. I was in the second wave of women and as we boarded the boat we were cheered on by all those who came to watch us swim. My mom and step-dad were there – as well as my husband and my two youngest children. When the boat left the dock, all the women on board let out huge cheers of joy. It brought tears to my eyes. We passed the first wave as they were swimming back – and many of them stopped in the water to cheer us on. It was amazing seeing these women bobbing in the water and waving to us! When the boat reached Ivy Point all the women on board let out another cheer of joy! There were about a hundred kayakers in the water waiting for us and they enthusiastically returned our cheers!

I was pretty confident I could do the swim – but it was also comforting to know that I could rest at any point by hanging on to the end of one of the kayaks escorting us. When I first leapt into the water I couldn’t see when I surfaced . I couldn’t figure out what happened – did I loose my goggles and my contacts? I immediately panicked – how would I be able to see to swim back? It took me about a minute to realize that I still had my goggles on – but they were filled up with water. I emptied the water out and tried to start swimming but I was still panicky. I couldn’t relax – and my goggles kept filling up with water. My pod was pulling away from me and calling for me to catch up. I started thinking that this was the most foolish thing I’d ever attempted – I didn’t eat enough to keep me strong. I already felt weak. My arms were already tired from struggling. What was I going to do?

I know this sounds silly – but I was so panicky that it took me about five minutes before I realized that my goggles were too loose! It finally occurred to me that all I had to do was make my way over to a kayaker for help. One had already spotted me struggling – and was making his way over to me. He asked if I was alright - so I asked him if I could come over for help. He tightened my goggles up for me, introduced himself (Jeff), and said he would stay with me for the duration of the swim. He must have pegged me for a hysterical swimmer (which I was at that point).

By this time my pod had long left me behind. I was alone. I just put my face in the water and swam. Jeff stayed to my right. There was a strong current that, along with the wind, pulling me to the right – but with Jeff on my right I stayed on course. I quickly learned not to fight the rolling waves and let my body roll over them as I swam. Once I started to swim, I swam the whole way without stopping to rest. I felt strong and was never out of breath. I stopped only once when I passed a marker to ask Jeff if it was the half-way point – which he confirmed. When I passed the ¾ marker I knew I was about a quarter mile out so I picked up my pace. I can’t describe how it felt to be coming in close to the dock and seeing everyone there cheering.

This wasn’t a race – but I did time myself to see how long it would take me. From my leap into the water until I climbed up onto the dock it took me 1 hour and 4 minutes. Given that I probably lost 10 minutes to my initial difficulties, I estimate I did the 1.2 miles in 54 minutes.

Allow me to strut a minute. I swam the width of Cayuga Lake without stopping. Two years ago I was 49 and never thought this kind of feat was achievable. I am now 51 and I swam 1.2 miles across Cayuga Lake without stopping.

::chin up, shoulders back, struts to and fro:: Oh yeah – I’m bad.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Cayuga Lake Triathlon - Post Race Report

This was my best race yet – and it rained the whole time! My overall time was 2 hours 21 minutes and 41 seconds. I finished 345th out of 359 – so I wasn’t last! I finished 17th out of 20 in my age group – so I didn’t place last here either! I also finished 175 out of 214 women. This race also included some of the worst pictures ever taken of me!

Swim: I didn’t even need to get used to the water. My only hesitation was to wait to let the pack of swimmers in my heat get ahead of me. I didn't think I'd be able to hold my own with the faster swimmers so my strategy was to let the pack go first. This was a mistake. It added about 3 minutes on to my swim time. In retrospect, I would have been fine in the midst of all the swimmers. I did the 750 meter swim in 24 minutes and 41 seconds – I swam the whole time and never once stopped to rest. I was very pleased with this swim.

T1: I am so happy with my transition time here! I peeled off that wetsuit and got my sneakers, socks, shirt, and shorts on in a whirlwind of 3 minutes and 56 seconds! This includes running from the water to the transition area! I knocked 5 minutes off my usual T1 time!

Bike: I had biked the course three times prior to the race – and each time I improved my time. The day of the race was my best time ever. The course starts out with a two mile hill with a 7% uphill grade. I think I could have done it even faster but the rain made the road very wet on the downhill. I went slower then I normally would have for the last two miles – but I’m just not experienced enough to go any faster then I did in the rain.

I am still very pleased with my 12 miles in 1 hour 12 minutes and 49 seconds.

T2: Another best for me! 1 minute and 10 seconds from bike to run!

Run: The run was my slowest event. I had trained really hard for both the swimming and biking - and as a result, I had let my training for the run lapse too much. It took me 39 minutes and 6 seconds to run the 5K. Much too slow. However, I ran with integrity – never once walked – and actually passed a few runners!

I am sad that this is the last triathlon of the season for me. I am already planning how to train better this year for faster times next year!

None of my family was able to be at this race – so I didn’t have anyone here to cheer me on. It was strange – and emotional - being by myself after I finished. Never in my life could I have ever imagined myself doing this kind of thing. I kept thinking how symbolic it was to wrap up the season going to the last race on my own. I started this journey of learning to run and swim as a personal accomplishment – and this milestone saw me celebrating my achievements alone. I was okay with that.


Saturday, August 1, 2009

Cayuga Lake Triathlon!

My last Triathlon of the season tomorrow! Can't sleep....