Saturday, December 31, 2011

My six-words resolutions...

In the spirit of the Six-Words Memoirs Project, I thought about things I might resolve for 2012 in just 6 words... a few of my attempts:
1. Move more. Stop making same excuses!
2. Eat more leafy greens and proteins.
3. Discover what is under the clutter.
4. Play more. Have more art fun!
5. Smile. It will not break anything.

Happy New Year everyone!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Testing out posting from my new phone ...

I broke down and finally moved into the 21st century... I bought a smart phone! So now I am testing out how to write a post on my phone and upload it to my blog. Let's see if it works now...

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

More photo filter play...

The original photo.

Just using the filter Anne.

Now using filters Anne and Shine.

Using filters Ramona and Burn.

Using filters Karen and Kryptonite.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Playing with online photo filters...

I am a big fan of the IPhone Instagram photo look but since I do not have an IPhone, that somewhat limits me. So today I spent some time looking online for some PC photo filter programs and came across PIXLR which seemed to work pretty well for what I was looking for.

Here is an example:
My dog Maggie...

and now Maggie colorized...

There are tons of effects and I have just begun to play!
(As you can see I also colorized my photo to the right -- looks so much better that way!)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The dragon speaks…

okay here goes… I'm speaking into a microphone and the computer is typing this post. and the (sigh)… Andy… This damn program will not recognize his name exhibition point! It needs more training…

My husband bought me this Dragon program to be able to talk into the computer instead of having to type. It's not doing too badly but it needs recognition training for names and things that I normally say I to get back to you on this one but it's really frustrating when I want to say my husband's name and it comes out and the (GR are) no no… That was supposed to be grr…

Definitely needs more training!!

Okay I just taught it to listen to the name Andy so now it types properly whenever I say Andy. Yay!

I have to remember to tell it the punctuation where will put anything there. Otherwise I have a feeling it would write the longest sentence of the world which I tend to do anyway but it's probably not a great idea in this posting to have a sentence that goes on and on with the really should be some punctuation if you know what I mean LOLand now I have to figure out how to do the correcting without doing it manually there's a whole methodology to all this but it's going to take a learning curve for me as well as this program.

Anyway time to start dinner it's Christmas and I am making lamb. Yum!


Saturday, December 24, 2011

I really liked this article...

And it gave me things to think about for myself. I have been thinking of the food aspect of Primal so much over the last 6-8 months that most of the rest I have let go. I know I do not MOVE enough, and the rest I need to focus on more this coming year as well. HERE it is. It's not just what we eat...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Easiest jury duty ever!

"Your group is not needed. Your service is complete. You do not need to check back. Thank you for making yourself available to serve as a juror."

Vicarious Vacation

Ok I am on vacation here but this woman (Mary Ann Moss) is REALLY on vacation! I follow her blog regularly and am so envious that she is still on year-round schedule so she can go to such amazing places during non-touristy times of the year! Plus of course she is an artist and I am so in awe of her travel and visual journals so you just HAVE to see her blog HERE!

And it was THIS set of entries on her blog that make me really want to go to Budapest next vacation! She travels like I like to -- capturing a lot of the little aspects of daily lie rather than the major touristy sites. I like that and Budapest seems so inviting...

Monday, December 19, 2011

2 weeks of vacation!

We are off for 2 weeks now yay! Saturday was the first day of Christmas vacation aka Winter Break. And I have Jury Duty! I had to check on Sunday and found out that I have to check again tonight. My group was next on the list so I will probably have to go in tomorrow. But... I actually wanted it this way. I postponed it from summer (when I was traveling) to now, mostly thinking "Who is going to want a trial on the week before Christmas?")... I guess I will find out tomorrow!

I hesitate to make it a goal for 2012.... keep this blog up more? I think the main problem for me is the addition of photos each time. I mean it isn't a hard process but sometimes I don't have anything to upload and then I talk myself out of writing anything. Since I used this blog so much for travel I got used to mostly putting photos on it. I have to get over that! Then a month goes by and I am writing stuff like this.... again!!

I'll get over it -- I usually do eventually.

I forgot to plant bulbs again this year. Wonder if it is too late?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Andy got into Nursing School!

After applying for 5 semesters! He was beginning to wonder what he was going to do -- he had taken all the pre-requisite classes, was doing an EMT internship, and just wasn't getting selected. I hate that lottery way of admissions -- doesn't take into account a lot of things that need to be considered (in my opinion). So now they have a test every applicant has to take and Andy scored way high on that which I am sure helped.
Long and shot, starting January he is in for a fast paced year of nursing school then he can go be a nurse which he has been wanting to do for several years. Seems like his days of being a computer person are so long ago. Mixed blessing I guess, of one's job being outsourced to another country. (If you are reading this and don't know me, Andy is my husband)

And now it is already November. I have 2 more weeks of school before a whole week for Thanksgiving Break. We used to work the Monday and Tuesday of that week but now those are furlough days off (without pay), part of the 9 days we lost the year before last just so we could keep most of our health benefits. (Oh and there was the pay cut too but don't get me started on that!)

New food I discovered I like: Bison Hotdogs from Costco!

bison dogs

I am not a big hot dog fan to begin with (although I also liked the lamb hot dogs that I tried in Iceland a couple of years ago). These are yummy though! Chopped a couple up and mixed with scrambled eggs and a yummo breakfast!

And a second thing I like: purple potatoes!

purple spuds

I had tried them once before and found them sort of mealy. But this time I roasted them in the oven, cut into quarters and sprinkled with olive oil and they were delish. I don't eat many potatoes any more (sometimes yams) so these were a nice treat. Plus they have a lot more phytonutrients than regular white potatoes. AND they are purple!!

Oh and finally...


Lowest is around 30 years now? Getting there, slowly but surely!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Been in a slump...

But I think it is behind me now.

And I blame it all on the mangoes.
Even though I know it is not the mango's fault.
But it is always nice easier to have something else besides oneself to blame anything on.

So about 6 weeks ago I went on this mango eating craze -- maybe longer than that. Suddenly I could not get enough mango!

First it was Trader Joe's unsweetened dried mangoes... Sometimes Raleys cut mango pieces...
Then, I found my main pusher!

The Mexican foods market near my house that had huge luscious ripe mangoes from Brazil. And only $1.39 each!
I was hooked! I was easily eating 1 or more mangoes a day!

And then I started getting headaches.
And muscle aches even though I wasn't exercising.
And I felt lethargic, and angry, and annoyed all the time.
And figured it was just stress from school.
Or maybe the weather changing.
Or caffeine withdrawl.
Or too much caffeine.
Or anything but the *gasp* sugar in the magoes?

So I was talking with one of my co-workers who eats Paleo and she asked what am I eating now that I wasn't before and of course it dawned on me... mangoes!
"So, easy," she said. "Just stop eating them. At least for now. And see what happens."

No duh.

I imagine my food confessional:
- It has been a week since I ate any mango.
- And how do you feel?
- Good. No. I feel great!
- Was it the mango?
- Maybe. Maybe all the sudden sugar in my body from too much mango.
- So what does that teach you?
- A little mango goes a long way?

So, now it's a week later. I started to exercise again. I have more energy to do things around the house.

I did end up having a tiny bit of mango today because I had some chicken mango sausages (Adelle's) that I wanted to use up. There will be a little in my egg muffins this week too but there is not very much mango in those things.

But in the long run, I don't think it was only the mango.

And I may now and then have my favorite salad to go with my slow-cooker carnitas: butter lettuce, avocado and mango slices. But maybe not for a while.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Good experience at DMV...

I am now going to say something I never thought I would ever say: DMV adventure was awesome today! Yes, you heard me! I made my appt online, RUSHED there after school to make it by 3:30 (ok I was a few minutes late but it was ok), was in line maybe 2 minutes, waited maybe 2 more minutes for my number then was out of there in 5 minutes! Even getting a parking place, 10 minutes TOPS for everything! Wow! All cause I couldn't find my car title and needed a new one!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

golden beet salad

Oven roasted golden beets which I then marinated with balsamic vinegar. Salad with butter lettuce and goat cheese.
Served with grass-fed lamb chops which we splurged on yesterday at Whole Foods... oh my a yummy dinner!



First time in around 25-30 years that I have been under 160 pounds! I think the change in eating has been the guiding force here (see sidebar for more info on Paleo/Primal eating). It has made us even more aware of how and what we are eating. And with eating more meats and healthy fats, I am full more so I don't have quite as much urge to snack, which helps too.

It's a good sign. And yes I know, I should dust off the scale before I take the next photo!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Carnitas Lettuce Tacos

Changing our eating habits to exclude grains has posed a few interesting challenges. For example: how do I make tacos? We love slow cooker carnitas and this weekend when I was wasting time catching up on some of the blogs I read, I was reminded that butter lettuce can work great as a taco shell as seen HERE (scroll down her pix to the tacos)and HERE from NomNomPaleo's wonderful site.

So when we went shopping today we got some butter lettuce, heirloom tomatoes (I didn't grow any this year), and I found some Mango-Peach salsa that I was just dying to try (although a little sweet and fruity on a regular basis it went fantastically with our carnitas tacos!). We already had guacamole. I haven't had a lot of luck getting avocados lately (guess my avo-karma is down) so we relied on Trader Joe's Guacamole which is yummy anyway!

I made my usual slow cooker carnitas which made the house smell yummy all day too!

This was the end result:
carnitas lettuce taco2

We managed to have several each and decided they were very high on the yum scale! Andy of course added hot sauce and other heat factors. I left mine with the mango salsa. Who needs a tortilla -- the butter lettuce was a great wrapper!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Cleaning the freezer and a new idea...

Cleaned out the freezer part of our fridge today too -- finally got rid of those frozen white packages of mystery meat (chicken? pork? fish?) that have been lurking for so long! Now it's sparkly clean and full of veggies -- all the meats go in our other top load freezer (Andy wants to get a quarter grass-fed cow but I think we gonna need a whole lot more freezer space for that one!).

I designated one plastic bin for packets of veggies and meats so I can just take portions for my school lunches as I choose. I was getting really tired of making 4 or 5 of the same lunch and freezing it then having to eat the same combination of whatever. This way I can -- for example -- cook a yam and put it into 3 or 4 baggies. Portion out frozen veggies. Portion out cooked meats. Then in the morning or a couple times a week (since I have a small freezer space in my fridge at work) take a few of various packets and mix-and-match for whatever I feel like eating that day.

Seems to obvious now...

Cross Fit has started...

Morning after the second session of CrossFit... it was better last night -- I am not quite so angry with myself for being such a weak old fart that I have to have everything scaled down to kindergarten level for me. My brain thinks I am still in my 30s but my body is saying, hold on there chica, you are almost 60. I am only mildly sore this morning so that is good.

So I know, what is holding me back is ME. Not weights, not the heat, not the CrossFit place, not the trainer, just me. I know it is my brain (= inner critic) telling my body inertia ("stay on that bed doing your puzzles, it's easier and plus the cats are there and life is cozy and anyway it is too hot to walk around that building/life that weight/row that 200m/insert activity here"). 

It's not like anyone is forcing me to go to CrossFit. I made the decision. I paid for it. I chose to go because it looked fun and interesting and different from boring repetitive gym classes. So aside from a lobotomy I gotta figure out how to shut myself up and get into the swing of activity.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Testing out the New Blogger Interface...

Not that anyone is really interested but I am testing the new Blogger Interface, which is basically a large white space in which to type. Different from the old style with a small space to type and a lot of other stuff in the way. This is more like typing on a Word Doc but being able to upload it from here. I guess it will work....

I have spent the last couple of weeks in a relative online vacation from talking about me... not all that interested in Facebook or posting here lately, not sure why but not worried about it either. It comes and goes with me.

I have been reading a lot of other people's blogs though, finding interest in other people's travels (Budapest with Mary Ann's blog Dispatch from LA and her sister's blog Tall Tales from Kansas) and catching up with some yummy Paleo recipes (NomNomPaleoChowstalker and Jen's Gone Paleo).

Also starting to get psyched up for my On-Ramp CrossFit class coming up at American River Crossfit in a few days (9 sessions to learn the basics in a class called "On-Ramp" that most of the CrossFit places have to be sure everyone knows how to do the exercises and be safe). Now just to find my old exercise clothes!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Too hot to think!

OK well maybe not THAT hot but I have never been a fan of the upper 90s into the 100s temps that we get in our summers, especially late summers. The last week or so I have been coming home from school and crashing out in the heat. Obviously that does not make very exciting blog posts as evidenced by the lack of same.

I think I will go out next weekend and explore Sacramento... not managing to do anything on school days.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

First week of school!

School started yesterday and it looks like it will be a great year! I am hopeful... I have had my share of less than stellar years lately so it would be nice to turn it around this year! Time will tell but I have more energy (with all better eating after all!) and a good outlook on work this year so I am thinking it will be better all around.

But this heat! OMG... nice I have AC at work and now in my car cause I came home to a rather warm house and yard! But there was a special surprise for me when I got home!

A new visitor in my yard...

white foxglove

Most of the foxgloves I have are pinkish and purple and have already bloomed and died but this white one just sort of came out of nowhere and today is in full bottom bloom. Love the patterns and how the blossoms open gradually up the flower stalk. I am happy to see it since there is very little else in bloom in the yard (aside from those glorious roses which I need to deadhead this weekend).

So Maggie and I checked it out for a short while before the heat drove us back inside...

Maggie 8-2011

I was thinking when it cools down at least to the 80s I might plant a late crop of spinach and then in another month, plant a late batch of lettuce. It is so warm here still through the fall that leafy greens are pretty easy to grow once the heat leaves. And I just love having my dinner growing in my garden! Since I can't keep farm animals in the city at least I can have my veggies! hat was one thing I missed when I spent the whole summer abroad this year. Next year: tomatoes and squash again!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Last lazy days of summer...

I have been going out to my classroom a little in the mornings to get it ready for the new school year (we start next week) but mostly have been spending my last week being lazy in the heat.

Tomorrow I am getting my car AC fixed so I can finally drive without gasping for air if I am out past around noon! I am so not a sun bunny!

And I got signed up for the On-Ramp (beginners) class for Crossfit starting in September. It is 3x a week for 3 weeks even though I will have to miss the last class because our school has Back-to-School Night then. Then I can take any of the regular classes so it is my goal to get there at least 2x a week, 3x if I can during the 3 month membership anyway. They want you to commit to 3 months at first because the body doesn't change overnight and it might take a couple of months to see results. Makes sense. I just hope I can walk after the first class!

So this afternoon when I let Maggie outside I noticed the roses were especially bright so I took a few pictures while she did her doggie business...


Wish we had smell-o-vision for these! They sniff good!!




and I noticed there were still a few apricots hiding so I picked those too...


Saturday, August 6, 2011

Updates and last week of vacation...

A couple of updates are called for:
My Car: even though I didn't really write about it here, I have a 1999 Saturn and last week we took it in to our repair guy because the AC was having problems and I found out I had a 1) busted fan and 2) ruined AC compressor so no wonder it didn't work! I opted to have just the fan fixed because I had been thinking of getting a new car anyway soon and figured I could drive around without AC for while while I figured it all out.

What was I thinking?

Sacramento in the Summer and No AC?

Well the next day I was back on the phone begging them to order and put in a new AC system since we figured I could probably use my car for another year so I could be in no hurry about a new one and get a better deal that way. Also that way I could wait til the 2012 Prius came out and check that out.

So now I just have to wait until Wednesday when they can work on my car. It is still pretty hot driving around without the AC so in the afternoons Andy has graciously said I can use his truck which has lovely AC. I was a little apprehensive about driving it since I never had, but we went out the other day with me driving it around and since he was still willing to let me use it after that test drive I figured I would be OK!

Along with my changing in eating (which BTW, showed up as a whopping 16 pound weight loss @ Kaiser last week from last December) I need to regain some fitness. I have let all my former gym memberships go since I rarely went and I never liked going anyway unless I was getting personal training but that was pretty pricey. So along with learning about Paleo/Primal eating I have found out a lot about CrossFit (a lot of people seem to be into both as a natural progression of their health). I checked out one place near me but it was too small and too new and I didn't feel they could be very supportive of a total beginner. Then today I went over to American River CrossFit off Howe Ave. and took their free Intro class which wiped me out! But they were very nice and very supportive of my inabilities so I think I will do the beginner class with them, which will start in September. In order to work out at any CrossFit gym you need to take an "On-ramp" or beginner set of class to learn the basic movements and how to do everything properly before you get into a normal class. The August one is already half done so I will wait for the next one in Sept.

Meanwhile, if nothing else, today taught me how little I can actually do. For example... I could not run 200m without having to stop and walk part of it. And after 3 sets of basic box jumps (for me, box step-ups), push-ups, sit-ups and squats, I was wasted. The plan was 3-5 reps of each just to sort of test out your own fitness and most of the people did all 5 but me. On the other hand, most of the other people who showed up to the Intro class today were already very athletic in other sports and in great shape and just wanted to learn about CrossFit. And of course most of them were at least 20-30 years younger than me!

But I was not discouraged. I know now where I am starting from (can you say Ground Zero?) and need to go from there.And maybe I can finally learn what to do with the Kettlebell Andy gave me for Christmas last year!

Last week of vacation: School starts on the 15th. Started fixing up my room last week a little. Need to go back out to school a couple of times next week and finish getting ready. I am actually excited about starting a new school year. I am hoping with my new energy I can stay excited longer into the year this time!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Giving the gift of blood on my birthday...

Finally! My drop of blood sank!!

it sank

Huh? You ask?

Let me 'splain...

I have tried many times to give blood before and one of the first things they do is test to see if you have enough iron in your blood to be able to do so. So they take a drop of your blood (with the iron bound in the hemoglobin molecule) and drop it into a beaker of copper sulfate (basically the cooper is replaced by the iron which is heavier than the solution so it sinks). If you have enough iron the drop sinks and mine has never sank before -- always a little anemic.

So after many years of dealing with my anemia (long story very short, apparently aspirin was contributing to my lack of RBC growth) and now I eat more meat as well so I had NO trouble with my little bubble. Yay!

So after answering all the myriad questions they are required to ask I was finally able to give blood.


Andy was there taking pix of me throughout probably annoying the hell out of the technicians @ the blood place but they seemed to take it with good enough humor.


And afterwards I got a t-shirt (she said it was cause it was my birthday but I have a feeling they give them to everyone LOL), and of course refreshments (I had some almonds and cheese as well as a cup of coffee and a little OJ). I actually felt GREAT after the process -- I was a little flushed at first but that went away in minutes and now (a couple hours later) I am totally fine.

So the big question -- WHY did I want to give blood on my birthday?

My short answer: Why not?

My slightly longer answer: It felt nice to be able to give back (to whomever, who cares?) something that is mine but could possibly help someone in need. THAT was better than any present of "stuff" I could think of having.

And it was a great feeling to know I have gotten my body back to a healthy place regarding my blood iron to even be able to do this. So in a way it was confirmation to myself that I am taking care of myself.

Maybe this will become a birthday tradition now... like the birthday "surprise" Andy finds for me, I will have another tradition that is my own.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Why is it whenever there is an empty box...?

Excuse me but this cat is too big... do you have one in a smaller size?

Cat box

Monday, August 1, 2011

Finally attacked the fridge!

Confession: I hate to clean out our fridge!

It was a real mess when I came home from my trip and since we had decided to clean up our food plan, it really needed an overhaul so we would have more room for more "real food" as opposed to the dozens of bottles and jars of sauces and condiments taking up most of the space.


It is a pretty small fridge but should be large enough for 2 people eating well. After I cleaned it all and organized the veggie bins, I also organized our meats, the larger box for shared meats we have cooked and can use. The other smaller bin is for sausages and some of the things Andy likes that I am not a fan of. It is just easier for me if everything has a place and can stay in it so at a glance we can open the fridge and actually SEE what we have or need.

I find I like it a little on the emptier looking side so things don't get lost when they are pushed to the back and forgotten. I hate wasting food and having to throw so much out each time I clean the fridge just has to stop. I am hoping this reorganization will work for both of us this time.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Lovely morning...

I am not a fan of Sacramento's hot summer days. But I DO enjoy the slightly cool sometimes breezy mornings. As usual I got up early and decided to use the oven before the heat set in. I mixed up some mini egg muffins using some of the cooked ground meat (beef and turkey mixture this time) from the freezer and leftover spinach. I wanted to test out my new RED silicone baking cups and made these:

Egg minis

Then I went outside and planted that pretty lantana and a dill plant I got the other day:


The lantana is a trailing kind so I am hoping it trails over the pot while the dill grows in the rest of the pot. I have not had the best luck with dill, not sure why. But we both love it so I am trying again.

Then I had to start thinking about this:

old rosemary

THAT is a very broken, scraggly 20 year old rosemary plant! Yes 20 years old! I planted it soon after getting this house, so actually it may be nearly 23 years old by now. Anyway it is just a mess so I made the decision to take it out and start a new rosemary plant:

new rosemary

Haven't done it yet but I will soon. It may need some deep down digging to get it out. I will worry about it this weekend.

In the meantime, the basil plant Andy planted from Trader Joe's $2.99 plants is doing great!

Andys basil

Guess we need to make some pesto!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Planted lavender and changed blog...

Actually found 2 of the lavender varieties I like best at Capital Nursery a couple days ago and got them into soil this afternoon.

The English lavender (var Munstead) went into the ground by the driveway so when it grows and I walk past it I hope it will give off a wonderful scent!

English lav

And the French variety (provence) went in one of the barrels where the dahlias and foxglove have been sporadically coming up from previous plantings. It is also at the walkway so I can brush past it when it is bigger too and pretend I am in the south of France wandering amongst the lavender fields. Or something like that.

French lav

I also went to Talini's Nursery this morning after a nice breakfast with another teacher friend. Found a lovely yellow lantana that I need to find a place for (photo when it's planted!). I totally cannot wait until it is time to either plant hollyhock seeds (which never really works for me) or get the little starter plants in the Spring for next year! Hard to decide to want an English country garden at the end of the summer when everything needed to be planted in the spring! But I guess that gives me all the more time to plan and dream about it (and web surf other people's lovely gardens in the meantime!).

And I decided it was time to switch around some of the colors on the blog. I love the yellows-browns-rusts of before but I decided I needed some green to help me set the mood for gardening again. And it needed a new name. "Starting Over?" was old. Time for something new.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Garden Transformation begins...

I *LOVE* vacation days like this: up early, coffee and a hearty left-over steak and eggs breakfast, showered and dressed, then out in the garden to start on its transformation and still it is barely 10 am when I come back in to work on the blog... I could REALLY get used to days like this!

So this is a very small part of what I am starting with. This is only the very front of the yard by the house...



So my thinking was, baby steps... one or two square feet to start with... don't try to tackle the whole thing at once.

Before #1:


and around 30 minutes later:


Found a few visitors hiding under the left over foxglove leaves:



So later today I am going to go to a couple of garden centers and see what is available, find out about when I need to get my lavenders (I pulled up my old scraggly lavenders the year before last -- I mean they were old and scraggly -- and now I miss lavender like crazy so I need to find my favorites and replant!), and start thinking about what I will do for a small fall-winter veggie/herb garden. Nothing big, baby steps... start small, go slowly. THEN I should be able to keep it going and get a nice garden going again.

Promise to Andy: I will not start 14 different heirloom tomato plants then take off on a summer trip and leave them for you to take care of!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A few pictures from the SF Zoo...

So here is the info about the Bike Tour at the San Francisco Zoo:

San Francisco Zoo INFO

The NEXT Bike About event.

An ARTICLE @ SF Gate about it.

And since all important zoos like this one are there for conservation reasons, HERE is info about that too!

I really did not take many pictures as we didn't stop very long at any one place and by the time we got off our bikes and tried to listen to the docent talking, there wasn't much quality photo time left. And towards the end he was pressed for time so we didn't stop much. That said, I was also more in a looking than a photo taking mood but here are a few I did manage:




and a stray peacock hanging out:


Saturday, July 23, 2011

I had an apostrophe!

Smee: I've just had an apostrophe!
Hook: I think you mean an epiphany.
Smee: Right...lightening has just struck my brain.
Hook: That must hurt.
-Smee and Hook from the movie "Hook"

Andy had a surprise for me today (for my birthday which isn't for a couple of weeks yet but he always surprises me with something on or around my birthday)... and all I knew was it involved our bicycles and getting up early.

Did I mention, I HATE surprises?
Well, let me rephrase, I hated surprises until around 4 hours ago but I am getting ahead of myself...

So I got duly nervous as I always do before one of his surprises (which have for the most part been wonderful so by all rights I should have been excited not nervous), didn't sleep much and woke up early as instructed. We set off with our bicycles in the truck around 6 am and headed south. Got to San Francisco an hour and a half later and ended up at the Zoo. Ok, I thought to myself, bikes at a zoo... right.

Well... it turns out it was a pre-opening bicycle tour of the Zoo! They do it once a month and this was the one closest to said birthday so that is why we went today. And after a few moments of abject terror of having to ride my bicycle again after a year without practice (I fall down a lot), I rode around the empty parking lot a little and figured I could stay on.

So off we went on a most lovely hour and a half tour of the SF Zoo on bicycles, stopping often for photos. I didn't take all that many but Andy took a lot of lovely ones which I will post soon.

And then on the way home we even managed to stop at a little cafe off a roadside exit that we had seen forever and never stopped at and had a most filling breakfast-lunch that has carried us through the whole day but that is not important to this story.

What is important is the epiphany. Yesterday I had posted on Facebook that I was going to be surprised today and that I did not like surprises. After we got home today I added what we had done and how much fun it was. Then I typed this paragraph:

"I don't know why I hate surprises though, it doesn't make sense... well yes actually it makes perfect sense. I like to be in control and I have a hard time giving that up. Duh, I knew that. I gotta get over that!"

Then I went and took a nap and now, four hours later I am still thinking of what I wrote.
DING DING DING DING... bells are going off! "I like to be in control and I have a hard time giving that up."

Everyone who knows me is probably saying "well duh, of course Rhonda, we knew that!" but the point is -- I had never connected the two thoughts! Until now. A couple of weeks away from turning 59. It has taken THAT long to figure that out!

Wow. That is a major paradigm shift for me... one that I am smiling about as I type this. Not that I want this next year to pass all that quickly, but I think for next year I will look my birthday surprise in the face and say "Bring it on!"

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Getting the rest of my summer on...

I am turning into one of the "Ladies Who Lunch" this week as I visit with a few (ahem lucky to be retired) teacher friends.

Yesterday: lunch with Marilyne @ Crepeville on 24th (left my camera at home)
Today: lunch with Roz @ Magpie Cafe on R Street. Salad Nicoise with seared tuna, yum!

Magpie salad

And I am getting my energy back to do some of the things I got started before I left this summer:

1. Continuing to rework my art room and declutter (a LOT). Having a hard time coming up with what works best for me but I think getting rid of half the junk will help! Decided to donate the art stuff I no longer have use for to Women's Wisdom Art Project. Then I will have room for all my mixed-media and journaling stuff that is now just stuck in boxes waiting for a home! Dropped my first box off today after lunch!

2. Simplify my stuff in other rooms of the house and put my own stuff away before I complain about the mess. The hard part is the shared clutter (like household appliances and such). It has taken me ages to realize the major problem with this old house is that there are NO closets or places to hide all that junk!

3, Refine my eating habits, figuring out more how to do meals with no grains especially when I go out to eat. I am not celiac per-se but I sure do feel a TON better when I go more towards a "paleo" or "Primal" way of eating. Cutting out grains, refined sugars, and all packaged foods and refocusing on eating only real foods that help my body (meats, vegetables, healthy fats).

4, Getting excited about a new school year (I always get this way before school starts... hopefully this year it will last longer into the school year!). Decided that since I like to travel so much in the summers I would put off retiring a few more years so I have money to travel.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Back home....

And still a bunch of other pictures and such to upload and post, but that will happen (just not now).

This morning I woke up early and got started on my day, embarking on a massive house clean up over the next few days is the plan. Got a little in today, then Andy and I went shopping for some food, and have been just sort of hanging out this afternoon with the cats, trying to nap but can't quite (even though I am tired!)...

It is good to be home, jet lag and all.

More to come, along with wherever this blog will take me now that I am back home! Just wanted to say hi if anyone is still reading and send along a wave for later...

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Fancy an eel?

Only in England...


Garbage day...

This would be nice to have in our neighborhoods. Sometimes we just don't know when they are picking up what...


News of the World...

What a huge scandal in the news about all the phone hackings and the demise of this tabloid! I managed to get a souvenir copy of the last edition that came out today, lucky timing!


Friday, July 8, 2011

A tube station, a museum, and an amazing marketplace...

So yesterday ended up being stormy and I gave up all my explorations when I kept getting soaked going from place to place. Plus, I had a sniffle and felt a bit run down. So on the way back from wherever I started, I stopped off at the Marble Arch Underground (Tube) station because I had seen it in passing and wanted to take some photos of the tile work inside...


Most tube stations just have white tile and the traditional red circle with blue station name. This one however, has very elaborate arch tiles along the name plates...



Today I started out, again on a rainy day but determined to get to the Tate Modern Museum to see the huge Miro exhibit. I had seen a lot of his works in Spain already but I really like his work so decided to pay the cost (15.50 pounds, around $24) to see this huge retrospective.


So passing through the other exhibits of Modern Art (unfortunately even though they allowed photos, the rooms tended to be dark and flash was forbidden, so my photos mostly did not turn out)...



To finally get to the Miro exhibit which was wonderful!


So then I walked along the Thames river in the light rain...



until I got to Borough Market...


The most incredible smells of foods cooking and enticing visitors in, along with displays of all sorts of edibles...





Made me really wish I had a proper kitchen this week (I do have a microwave and a fridge in this hotel but that doesn't work for burgers)...


Eventually I gave in and had a lamb kebob on salad for my lunch...


All in all, a wonderful day!