Maps!

I am not one of those people who would have been able to survive as a pioneer. It is not that I am not a stickler for luxury or convenience – in fact I am pretty sure that I would trade my desk job for growing our own food and a wash wringer if given the choice. No, my problem is I get lost walking in a circle. I have lived in Kansas City all of my life, with only some brief stints away from college. Despite that, I can’t find my way anywhere unaided. I need a map, verbal directions to clarify from my husband, and extra travel time. Then, without fail, I will need to call my husband and get him to talk me there when I ultimately get turned around. The one thing I should appreciate most about the modern age I live in are all the tools that help me not get lost. Here is a list of map and working out related thingies.

(list 42) Maps-and-fitness related things

  1. I super duper heart mapmyrun.com. I keep track of the mileage I walk each week and enter it in a spreadsheet so I can see how I am progressing toward my goals. Yes, so very sad but so very true. Anyway, I much prefer to walk outside then on the treadmill at the gym, but I was limited to a few routes where I could calculate the mileage. That isn’t true any more! With mapmyrun.com I can map routes from anywhere to anywhere – I truly love it. And if I decide to wander on a walk or get myself turned around, I can go home and retrace the route to get an accurate mileage. Yea, darn cool. I recently read I’m a Stranger Here Myself by Bill Bryson – a hilarious look at life in our country. Here is one of my favorite bits of the book – this is from an essay about how we drive too dern much:

    An acquiantance of ours was complaining the other day about the difficulty of finding a place to park outside the local gymnasium. She goes there several times a week to walk on a treadmill. The gymnasium is, at most, a six-minute walk from her front door. I asked her why she didn’t walk to the gym and do six minutes less on the treadmill.

    She looked at me as if I were tragically simple-minded and said, “But I have a program for the treadmill. It records my distance and speed and calorie-burn rate, and I can adjust it for degree of difficulty.” It had not occurred to me how thoughtlessly deficient nature is in this regard.

    I can sympathize with both sides of this argument, if there wasn’t a way to record the distance of my sojourns outside, I would be tempted to always drive the distance to the gym to walk on a treadmill. Luckily, I live in this age.

  2. DH thoughfully purchased for me the coolest gadget ever. It is a Garmin ForeRunner 301. It will track “distance and speed and calorie-burn rate”, as well as my heart rate and I can preprogram walks, runs, and bike rides. Also, I can download walks from mapmyrun.com so I don’t get lost. Yea, purty dern cool. I am very excited to get it. I will post how cool it is once I have used it a bit. (Commercial Plug – He got it from H.M.S. Beagle – the ultimate science store in Parkville, MO. A great store for all things sciency, including GPS devices, and coincidentally owned by my parents.)
  3. We are going to Colorado Springs next week for a camping trip with the twins. I am very, very excited. It definitely will be a trial-by-fire for the whole stepmom thing (9-hour car trip, fixing meals on a camp stove, sleeping in a tent). And we are going to do some cool things, like Pike’s Peak Cog Railroad and Cave of the Winds. I spent some quality time with mapmyrun.com and came up with two walks to complete to ensure I can get my mileage in during the mornings if our daytime activities don’t allow enough time for hiking. (A moot point if I get my Garmin dooda before we leave.) Here are the walks:

    From Campground to Park
    Find more Runs in Colorado Springs, ColoradoGarden of the Gods campground – 1 mile
    Find more Walks in Colorado Springs, Colorado

  4. I have a good friend who runs long distances. Like some runners, she got very addicted, often going off her predefined course to wander a bit and get some more running in. She once got hopelessly lost in Liberty (which I think can be easy in some of the neighborhoods – the curvy roads and similar-looking houses can be confusing.) She didn’t have a cell phone or any water. She ran and walked for over two hours (until after dark) until she found something she recognized and could get home. This story freaked me out – she laughed it off, but I would have been in a panic. I so rarely recognize where I am – I mean I could think “I have seen this before”, but not know where that place is in relation to how to get home. Ugh. So, if you read this, live in Liberty area, and see me out wandering around with a look of panicky fear in my face, pull over and ask me if I need help.

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Woman!

Recently my husband’s blog had a link to lists of things every man should now. I LOVED the concept – but searched in vain for an XX equivalent. And then it started brewing in my brain. And then I had brunch with some real women. So that inspired me to come up with my own list of what every woman should know. I will start with 25 because I need to get to bed at some point tonight. I haven’t mastered all of these myself – but I will get there. (DISCLAIMER – This is my list – I am sure yours is different.)

(list 35) What every woman should know or be able to do

1. Can listen – really listen– to a friend who needs to vent. And make her or him feel better and avoid being all preachy.
2. Can coordinate a handbag with her shoes and outfit. And knows when it is time to change a seasonal handbag.
3. Can rock a baseball hat and t-shirt.
4. Can get ready for a fancy night out with only a couple hours notice. And knows what clothing is appropriate for an event. (This one was discussed at brunch today. And here is a hint – ripped jeans are only appropriate if going to an 80s or 90s reunion concert.)
5. Can make one really delicious desert to bring to work or a potluck. So delicious that it is remembered – and asked for by name, as in, “Susie – can you bring your lemon bars?”
6. Can entertain a child (younger than a teenager) while his or her mom takes a well-deserved break. And can pretend it was her pleasure, even if it was torture.
7. Knows when and how to vote and why it is important.
8. Has learned to get past all that crap that happened when she was a kid. And can create new relationships with friends, lovers, and children minus all that crap.
9. Can drink a grown-up drink without grimacing.
10. Can clean another woman’s kitchen. My aunt Mary once gave me some of the best advice I ever got. She said, “There are two types of women in this world – Marys and Mary Magdalenes. Make sure you are a Mary.” What she meant by that is to help a sister out. Scrub the pot, help the hostess, don’t stand about flirting with the men. Get the work done and then flirt. I have always strived to be a Mary (somewhat easier when one is chubby, pimply, and afraid of boys), and all of my best friends are total Marys – even the hot ones.
11. Can give a proper hug. Two arms – squeeze tight. Mean it.
12. Can give and receive compliments. And gives compliments often.
13. Can make a proper toast. (As in “Raise your glasses…”, although making bread toast is also an important skill.)
14. Can run a good meeting where shit gets decided and assignments are made.
15. Can write a thank you note, a congratulatory note, and a sympathy note.
16. Can make a house smell good in 30 minutes or less.
17. Can walk in heels. (I can’t do this one.) And knows when it isn’t appropriate to wear heels (or uncomfortable shoes). And if she did wear heels she doesn’t complain that her feet hurt.
18. Can think of something she would like to do better than shopping.
19. Is a skilled novice in at least one of the old-school home arts – cooking, sewing, knitting, crocheting, gardening – something.
20. Can hem pants, sew on a button, and get a least one type of stain out of clothing (grass, grease, tomato sauce).
21. Can understand double entendre – without blushing. And dish out some double entendre when it is called for.
22. Can recall what she last read and recommend it or not.
23. Knows the name of at least one feminist. Because of them go us. Gloria, Betty, bell, Susan – pick one and know what she did.
24. Can flirt skillfully without being slutty.
25. Knows how to pick out a good gift. And never forgets to wrap it.
There have got to be a bazillion more. Please leave yours in the comments.

Graceful!

Happy May!

Yesterday was May Day. I had every intention of getting little adorable may baskets created and delivered to my near and dear, but time has been slipping past this year. I can’t believe it already is May. The highlight of my day yesterday was lunch with my friend Missy. She fixed me a DELICIOUS quinoa and roasted vegetable salad that was delicious (did I mention that?), vegan, low-calorie, and very filling. Whenever I spend time with Missy, I realize how she has mastered graceful living. Her home always is welcoming and she has the most flawless taste. It is hard to quantify, and I don’t have it, but I can recognize it.

In my own attempt at graceful living, I am going to go the month of May without watching television*. Yup, that’s right. I totally can do it. I think no television will provide some needed quiet in my life, and give me time to do the things to make my life seem more graceful. Yesterday afternoon I started by weeding my front garden, planting some flowers, and snipping some branches and put in a vase on the mantle. It brought me that much closer to gracefulosity.

And because I need a list, here is my to-do list for this weekend:

(list 26) My to-do list for 5/2 – 5/4

  1. Thank-you notes for birthday presents
  2. 10-minute abs
  3. 10-minute abs
  4. 10-minute abs
  5. Makeup EQ
  6. 6-mile walk
  7. 3-mile walk
  8. Yoga
  9. Mulch flower gardens
  10. Plant rest of potted plants

I’ll keep you updated on the no tv thing. Piece of cake – really.

* With the following exceptions: 1) Top Gear Monday with DH because it is one of our marital institutions, and I know better then to mess with a marital institution 2) Local storm coverage (already did that one.)

50!

Missy and Amy tagged me to answer 50 questions… Heck Yes!! I tag DH. J

(list 21) Answers to 50 questions

1) Do you like bleu cheese? I like the taste of blue cheese.

2) Have you ever smoked herion? Uh, No.

3) Do you own a gun? No… well, I mean other than my two arms. 😉

4) what flavor do you add in your drink at Sonic? Orange

5) Do you get nervous before Dr appts? YES! It is like one of my top 5 fears. I HATE it. I wish I didn’t, but I do.

6) What do you think of hotdogs? Not much – I kind of like veggie ones – and I always have to have ketchup on them, in addition to mustard, even if that makes me uncool. My favorite thing about hotdogs is from the website http://www.overheardinnewyork.com/a conversation between to sororityish girls about hotdogs.

7) Favorite Christmas song? Silent Night

8) What do you prefer to drink in the morning? Orange juice

9) Can you do push-ups? Absolutely

10) Can you do a chin up? Absolutely*

11) What is your favorite piece of jewelry? My engagement ring

12) Favorite hobby? Knitting, paper stuff

13) Ever been in a car wreck? yes

14) Do you have ADD? No – I think I have the opposite – I really don’t like distractions.

15) What is one trait you love about yourself? My lips and my generosity. (That’s two)

16) Middle Name? Heather and Rene

17) Name 3 thoughts at this exact moment? I want a cupcake, my new shoes are soooo comfortable, and I should stop working on this

18) Name three things you bought yesterday? Limes, beer, confectioner’s sugar

19) Name three drinks you regularly drink? Water, organge juice, la croix flavored water

20) Current worry? Gutters need to be cleaned, I want a cupcake, getting our bills paid, getting the yard weeded, if people are going to hate our website release at work, getting the house organized… wait, was I supposed to list just one?

21) Current hate right now? My messy desk and rampant disorganization in my life.

22) How did you bring in the New Year? I think I kissed my husband on the couch. (We were sitting on the couch, he doesn’t have a couch on his person.)

23) Where would you like to go? My next goal is Switzerland.

24) Name three people that will complete this? DH will – because I asked him to, and he likes to make me happy despite my, uh, flaws.

25) Do you own slippers? No. Like many in my family before me, I like to go barefoot.

26) What shirt are you wearing? A red tshirt from target

27) do you like sleeping on satin sheets? I don’t know, but I don’t think so.

28) Can you whistle? no

29) Would you be a pirate? No – seems like it would be hot and dirty.

30) What songs do you sing in the shower? Those *(*)(^*&^ songs from Zumba that get stuck in my head and I can’t dislodge. Extra annoying is that they are sung in languages I don’t speak, so I am singing nonsense.

31) Favorite girls name? Elizabeth Rose

32) Favorite boys name? John Thomas – no, just kidding… William, of course.

33) What is in your pocket? zilch

34) Last thing that made you laugh? DH

35) Best bed sheets as a child? Those 70s rainbow ones

36) Worst injury you’ve ever had? Poisin freakin’ Ivy… not really an “injury” but I never want to live through that again.

37) Do you love where you live? Yes and no. It is a really old house and there are better places but one of my favorite things in life is making the best of something.

38) How many TV’s do you have in your home? 2

39) Who is your loudest friend? Oh, I am definitely the loud one. But since Missy didn’t have to go to work today, I am going to say she is. 😉

40) How many dogs do you have? One Sweet Little Annie

41) Does someone have a crush on you? Oh yea, DH probably still has a little bit of a crush on me. Plus I am sure there are tons other – a1a) I’m gorgeous b2b) I am hilarious!! c3c) Have you seen the gun show?

42) What is your favorite book? Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

43) What is your favorite candy? Jelly Beans. Guhreat… now I want a cupcake and jelly beans

44) What song do you want played at your funeral? Bury Me With It!! That would be super cool… and American Tune by Paul Simon

45) What is your favorite sports team? K.C. Royals

46) What were you doing at 12:00 a.m. this morning? sleeping

47) What was the first thing you thought when you woke up? When I woke up the first time at 4:30, I was thinking – did I pay the car insurance bill yet?

48) What do you sleep in? t-shirt, undies, and a smile

49) What is your favorite all time movie? The Hours

50) If you could do one thing over in your life what would it be? Not buy a house so early in life – and have more fun when I was in college.

* Not like a real one – but one on this machine in the gym that counterbalances your weight. Based on how I think it works, I actually can do a chin-up of about 30 pounds. Not that impressive, really.

Random!

My friend Amy tagged me to list 10 random things about myself, and I love a list, so here they are:

(list 13) Ten Random Facts About Myself

  1. I was in 25+ plays in high school and college, mostly community theater, mostly melodrama. I once had a lead in a musical, but I was selected for my ability to sing badly and loudly.
  2. Roses are my favorite flower.
  3. My favorite color is orange.
  4. I hate cooking or eating anything from a box. I do it, but I hate it.
  5. I have two bachelor’s degrees, one of them is in Philosophy, one is in Biology.
  6. I met Marlin Perkins when I was a kid.
  7. I worked in an emergency room for one day. I worked at a pet store for one weekend.
  8. My theme song is Swing by Ani Difranco.
  9. My favorite baseball player is Walter Johnson.
  10. I can count on one hand the number of times in my life I have tucked in a shirt, because my waist is in a funny place and I look like a superdork.

I tag all of my friends whose names start with M. (Megan is excused since she is on her honeymoon.)

Rome!


Two years ago today, I arrived in Rome with my college roomate, Heather. I was recently smitten with my now husband and I think the only thing that could have torn me away from him at that time was a chance to see anything in Europe and getting to spend ten days with one of my oldest and dearest friends.

I don’t want to be controversial, but Rome is great. Here are my top seven reasons why I love Rome:

(list 9) Why I Love Rome

  1. The Spanish Steps. Near the end of the trip, Heather and I ended up going here every day. It is a great place to people watch, and the weather was perfect when we were there. Italian police are hard-core, Italian teenagers really love life, and tourists dress funny. These truths (and more) can be acquired at the Spanish Steps – where there is no lounging, no eating, no yelling, and no drinking allowed. Just ask the man with the machine gun.
  2. Pistachio gelato. When I had gone to Italy, I had been vegan for almost two years. But I broke the rules there. I. Just. Couldn’t. Stop. If my food choices are going to negatively impact the environment and give me high cholesterol, well then it is best to make it really worth it.
  3. Four-Cheese Gnochi at Café Navonna. (see above)
  4. The Pantheon – It is definitely the most amazing architecture I have ever seen.
  5. Smoke breaks. This still was an institution in Italy when we were there. It seemed like every person we needed assistance from had just decided to take a leisurely smoke break – from the car service driver to the hotel receptionist to the bank attendant. It really makes one slow down and enjoy one’s vacation, while in a smoky, atmospheric haze.
  6. How everything is really old. There are almost no chain stores or restaurants in Italy – and if it is a chain, it is one that started in Italy. The humdrum of ordinary life must have an extra sparkle when every place you go is beautiful and old and built or commissioned by an ancient or famous person.
  7. Finding the Sistine Chapel. Heather and I decided we didn’t want to miss this since we might not have another chance to see it. We walked to Vatican City and then waited in a really long line. And waited and waited and waited and waited. And then we descended some steps and realized we were in the line to see the dead popes. Yep, that’s right. And the line was extra long because it was the anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul. So us and a million Catholic pilgrims trudged past the tombs. We emerged, took a wrong turn and got stopped by a Swiss Guard. We then started following other tourists (who all seemed like they knew where they were going) and made it to the building that houses the Sistine Chapel. And then we walked 563 meandering miles through the museum to finally get there. They force you to walk through the whole thing to see the chapel – there is no shortcut. As if to say, if you want to see OUR chapel, then you must also see our 6,973 cherubs with their private parts covered. The Sistine Chapel was beautiful and smaller than expected, of course. (Aside: I am one of a rarefied group that has seen both the Sistine Chapel and the Precious Moments reimagination of it. Yea, that’s right. I can’t decide which is more lovely – it would be like picking between an adorable kitten and an adorable cartoony picture of a kitten with big eyes and a simpering expression.)

I waited too long in life to become serious about travel – but this trip opened my eyes. There is nothing that is worth the expense more than travel. Every place I have been has changed me, made me look at my life with fresh eyes. And someday I am going to make it back to Italy with Heather.

The Pantheon

Heather at Spanish Steps

Me looking happy that we cannot find Sistine Chapel