Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Where The Wild Things Are

This story starts all the way back in March on my birthday when I was given a Kindle.

I'd never really considered getting an electronic reader. Books have always worked fine just the way they are and I didn't see any need to change my reading habits. But apparently I'm hard to shop for and my kids thought that I'd be up to handling new technology so I now am a Kindle owner and reader.

I've actually embraced this new little piece of equipment. Not least because I can get a book for less than $2 on the daily deal. I've expanded the list of authors that I'll read simply because it's not so expensive to try out someone new. 

But just occasionally I'll end up with a real paper and ink book and when that happens I need a bookmark.

I started reading The Rosie Effect the other night. Hard copy - not the electronic version. Great book. Sequel to The Rosie Project. Couldn't read it all in one hit so I needed a bookmark. Couldn't find one so I used a tissue. Night two of reading The Rosie Effect and I accidentally used the bookmark to wipe my eye.

Weird fact about me. Sometimes my eye will just randomly leak tears. I'm not crying. I'm not sad or emotional in any way. It usually happens at night when I'm reading in bed and usually happens in the eye that is lower to the ground (I read on my side). So my theory is that it has something to do with gravity. And something to do with getting old.

Obviously, having used the tissue to wipe my leaky eye I didn't want to use it as a bookmark so I went on a hunt to find the most beautiful bookmark that I've ever owned. It was a surprise birthday present from a running friend - a metal butterfly complete with bling. And for the life of me I couldn't remember where it was.

The obvious first place to look was in the top drawer of my bedside table. I had a quick rummage around without actually getting out of bed and opening up the drawer properly in the hope that my hand would land on a piece of metal that was sure to be the bookmark.

No luck! I was actually going to have to get up and do a proper search. So I pulled out the drawer. The drawer that hasn't been tidied up in years. Possibly decades. And what I found was shocking!

This drawer had, over the years, become a lingerie graveyard. Where all things slinky, satiny and lacy went to die. There were things in there that I didn't even know that I owned. A white lace suspender belt? Where the hell did that come from? And why? Pretty sure that it's never been used so if anyone is interested I'm open to offers. And, no, not THOSE kind of offers.

As I pulled each of the garments out random memories floated back (except for when I pulled out the suspender belt because I'm still baffled about that one). I still remember telling my Mum that I didn't care if people could see my legs through my skirt because my legs were still good and it was way too hot to wear a petticoat.

And underneath all those pieces of naughtiness were these.

They too had me baffled. They looked like little mints but, again, I couldn't remember buying mints to have in my bedside drawer. But hey, I couldn't remember buying a suspender belt so obviously my memory is not a steel trap. I was just about to pop one into my mouth when I dropped it and it disintegrated as it hit the table.

Not a mint. A gecko egg.

I don't know what's more disturbing - the fact that I almost ate a gecko's egg or that the geckos are having special mummy and daddy time in my lingerie drawer. If I'm not getting use out of that drawer I don't think anyone or anything else should be.

And I still haven't found the bookmark.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Kurrawa To Duranbah 30K

Some runs are good runs.

They're the runs where you float along on clouds. Where every step seems effortless. Where even the steepest hills seem flat. Where you feel like you can run forever.

My 30k yesterday was not like that.

It was hard!

There were no clouds - except for the ones in the sky. There was no effortlessness. There were steep hills. And I didn't feel like I could run forever. In fact there was some walking. Mostly up those hills. But I finished it. And that's really all I'd planned to do.

There was a big plus that I'm taking away from the run - even though the running part wasn't so great. I didn't get nervous or anxious about running it. Not once. That would be the first race that I've done this year where I wasn't. Yay me!

So what went wrong? Mostly I think it came down to not planning my eating well enough the day before and going out a little harder than I'd intended. I was starting to fatigue around the halfway mark and only keeping myself going with the promise that I could stop and walk a bit once I'd gotten to 20k.

From there nearly every kilometre had a little bit of walking in it. But there's a point where you just give up caring about your splits. All you want to do is make it to the finish line.

I'd been running to that point without music and it seemed as good as any time to add a sound track to my misery. Maybe an up-beat song would lighten the load? Can't say that it made the running any easier but it did supply me a wry laugh in the last kilometre. I was heading towards the finish line (which had also been the start line) when Coldplay's The Scientist started to play.

'Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be so hard
I'm going back to the start'

Never have the lyrics fitted my situation so perfectly.

What a relief to have it done. My legs were tight and sore and on the verge of cramping up. I was covered in salt crystals - even though it was fairly cool I'd still managed to sweat a lot. I just wanted to curl up into a little ball and sleep. But I had to drive myself back to where I was staying first.

When I got into the unit I just collapsed onto the couch. And stayed there for a couple of hours until I had the energy to move again. And by that time I'd stiffened up so much I was moving like a severely arthritic octogenarian. Every time I had to move was accompanied by groaning. So packing up the car to go back home was a fairly vocal affair.

Luckily two of my greatest fears didn't eventuate. I didn't go into cramp while changing gears on the trip home. And I was able to get up the stairs at home without assistance. But when I finally lay down on the couch I basically didn't move (except to get more fluids or go to the loo) for the entire afternoon and evening - which suited Toby because he'd missed me and needed to lay next to me or on me to make sure I wasn't going to disappear again.

But despite being so sore and miserable and despite the run being pretty awful, I'll probably do it again. Because we runners are a little weird like that. We hate to leave things on a sour note. We like to achieve what we set out to. So I'm pretty sure I'll take up the challenge again. But firstly I need to conquer the challenge of walking. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Kick-Starting 2015

This year's winding down quickly.

I'm into my last week of work. I've made my last rhythmic costume

I have five bikinis to cut out. One more business phone call to make. And that will be that.

We've celebrated our last family birthday for 2014 and I've made my last birthday cake for the running squad. In fact I'm putting away my piping bag for a few months until the weather becomes a little kinder to butter and sugar - so sick of seeing my carefully iced cakes melting.

The only thing that hasn't wound up is running. It never winds up. Thank goodness - because running is my sanity over this dead part of the year. There will be plenty of sessions to do between now and when 2015 really gets under-way again. And I still have one more 'race' to get through.

Race is a term that I use quite loosely these day when it comes to events. I try to keep the pressure out by thinking of them as runs. With lots of other people.

This Sunday's 30k will definitely not be a race. It's basically going to be a glorified weekend long run. In a new area. With a whole heap of different people. It won't be a big race and that suits me fine. The roads won't be shut down. We'll just be running on paths - but, again that's fine because it won't be that crowded.

It'll be hot and humid and probably horrible at times. And I'll wonder why I decided to sign up in the first place. My feet will get tired. I might end up with blisters. I'll get dehydrated. Sweat will get in my eyes and make them sting. My body will ache and me head will want to give up.

So why DID I decide to sign up? Because at the end I'll feel great - in a tired, thirsty and cranky way. I'll feel like I've achieved something. Something that's just for me. Something of value - whose value is only understood by other runners. Something that will be the impetus to want to do more of the same in 2015.

So really the run this weekend is the kick-start to 2015.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Getting Perspective

You probably all saw my birthday cake creation from the other day.

This chocolate indulgence. 
While I was making it I did something a little odd. 

It's not unusual for me to do odd things. I personally think everyone does odd things from time to time and if I do it a little more frequently than other people then that's just one of my lovable little quirks.

I was mixing a triple batch of chocolate cake by hand. A triple batch is a pretty intense workout for anyone who's used to using an electric mixer to do the heavy stuff. I could feel the muscles really straining in my arm so I looked down to admire my awesome guns. 

And they really did look pumped from where I was standing. They looked like I actually worked out my upper body - which I pretty much don't ever. So I decided to do the odd thing. Something only the young and vain do.

I took a selfie of my bulging biceps.

And then I looked at it and almost wet myself laughing. 

I swear it looked like I had a muscle from my perspective. 

Guess I won't be entering a body-building competition any time soon.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

What I Did Last Week

I've entered a race.

But not without a lot of procrastination and a lot of angst. Should I? Shouldn't I?  Will I have to pull out at the last moment? Will I be able to get a little consistent training done so that I don't literally die during the race?

I finally pulled my thumb out last Monday, filled out the entry form and paid. And that was it. I'm in. And I'm guaranteed of a race singlet. Tuesday was the deadline to be guaranteed the singlet which is why I stopped procrastinating. I absolutely, positively need another running singlet. Just not sure how I'm going to be able to close my running drawer when I get this one.

I also rang my dentist on Monday and made an appointment. Monday was a big day for procrastinators all over the world.

The race is in less than two weeks now. And my training has been a little hit and miss but I'm pretty sure that I can at least finish. And these days I'm happy with even starting so finishing is a bonus.

Last week I decided that, seeing as I'd actually entered, I'd better pull my thumb out about the training too. I got serious and didn't skip any of my runs. (Yeah, I'd done that in the previous couple of weeks).

So I did Tuesday's speed session, a 12k on Wednesday, a 16k on Thursday and a whopping 28k on Saturday. Actually it was really 28.63k but I didn't want to brag.

A couple of weeks ago I'd done a 21k and it had been horrible! I'd felt sick for days after - possibly a touch of heat exhaustion. And that run had been the reason for my procrastination. How would I be able to run 30k if a 21k had made me feel so bad? But better planning and management had resulted in a better run the next week and this week I just repeated what I'd done the previous.

My secret to a better long run? Start planning for it the day before.

It really wasn't hard. I just made sure that I had carbs at every meal and drank a lot all through the day. Then I got to bed early. See - simple! And then on the actual run I made sure I stopped and drank as often as possible. The weather's turned hot in the last couple of weeks so keeping hydrated is absolutely imperative. And I had excellent company. Even if they pushed me a little harder than I wanted and told me to harden up when I started whining.

I was especially good this week at carbing up on Friday. Possibly, I took it a little too seriously. I may have licked my fingers just a few too many times while I was baking. And I may have eaten one or two of the chocolates that I'd bought to decorate the cake. But I only do so for quality control purposes. And this cake was for an important occasion - #3 son's 21st birthday celebration - so its quality had to be first class.

#1 son even made a surprise trip up from Melbourne for the occasion.

Nothing makes my mummy's heart happier than having everyone together.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

It's Not Dementia ... Yet!

Ever have one of these moments?

You're walking along and you spot a distant relative or two that you haven't seen in years. Decades, really. You're busy. You don't want to stop to chat because it's been decades and you really don't know what's been happening in their lives any more.

Not my family but this photo was probably taken around the same time that I last saw them

And you're having trouble remembering their names - well, his name anyway. You can remember the names of most of their kids and the subjects that you shared back in high school with their daughter, who's the same age. But you can't remember his name. Seriously, why can't you remember his name????

And then they spot you. And there's no escaping. You have to go say hello. So you smile warmly and cover the fact that you can't remember his name by just saying "How are you?" in your gushiest voice like you're thrilled to see them and not trying frantically to pull that elusive name out of the locked vault that is your memory.

They say "Good, how are you?"

You blurt out "Good" but your head is still processing the 'find name' command so the 'good' is a distracted one and is followed by "How are you?" Again! And they look at you like you're a little odd. And quite frankly, you feel a little odd and stupid for asking the same question twice so you quickly try to recover with a monologue on how awful the weather is. To which they smile sympathetically at your awkwardness and lack of social skills.

After the requisite amount of uncomfortable conversation you excuse yourself with implications of extreme busy-ness. They breathe a sigh of relief that the stilted chat can finally end and they can be on their way.

You both smile, walk off and then you remember - Graham! His name is Graham!!!

Yeah, that happened to me today.

I'm thinking that my brain could use a faster processor. But I'm also thinking that the name came to me in the end so that means it's not dementia ... yet!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Just A Quiet Night In Front Of The TV

The other night I was sitting watching TV. By myself. With no one trying to talk to me over the most crucial part of the program. And no one passing judgement on the programs that I prefer to watch. Just me and Toby snuggling on the couch - until he got too hot and also left me.

I was relaxed and all was right with the world until I heard loud shrieks. Coming from the patio. From the bird cage.

Luckily I had the presence of mind to pause my show as I went out to investigate. Little did I know that what I found was going to take a good half hour chunk of viewing time and I was sure to miss something important in thirty minutes.

Our patio light isn't working so when I went out I really couldn't see any reason that the lorikeet should be carrying on but my night vision isn't as good as my dogs'. There's a structure in the dog's eye which helps with that called the tapetum lucidum. And yes, you should be impressed that I can still remember that 34 years after graduating.

My dogs could see that there was good reason for the bird to be shrieking and it was their reaction that made me take a second look. There was something on the cage and I was pretty sure it was a snake.

So I yelled snake. As you do. A couple of times. With the right amount of panic in my voice so I'd maybe attract the attention of the two adult males in the house. And then I went to grab my phone so I'd at least be able to see what I was up against.

#2 son, Josh showed up with Serena just as I was throwing some light on this dilemma. And it really was a dilemma - the snake was half in the cage and wrapped around the bird. So the question was - how do we manage to extricate the bird from the grasp of the snake without getting bitten?

Josh's instincts kicked in. He grabbed the snake's tail - perfectly safe to do because it was just a carpet snake (non-venomous) and its head was trapped in the cage. The snake sensed the threat and dropped the bird to the base of the cage. The base of the cage is detachable so I decided that I'd detach it but it took me a couple of flustered minutes to remember how that was done.

Once I got the base off the cage I went to grab the bird but the poor thing was in such a state of panic that it saw my hand as a threat and flew up the cage back towards the snake. Luckily a few shakes and whacks of the cage got it back down so I could pick it up without having snake fangs sink into my hand.

I grabbed the poor still-screeching lorikeet and rushed it inside the house. It tried to bite me so I dropped it (instinct is a powerful thing - both his and mine) and as soon as it hit the floor it was in Toby's mouth. But luckily Toby, being a retriever, has a soft mouth and he's been trained to drop things when I tell him to so the bird survived its second near miss of the night.

Meanwhile Josh was still on the patio holding the snake's tail while trying to work out what to do with it.

In the end he decided to take it over to the school next door and let it loose there. Why the school? Because it's surrounded by a lot of bushland and I'm pretty sure that's where it came from in the first place. School kids = food scraps = rats and mice = snakes. 

The snake was pretty happy when Josh finally let go of his tail. Happy enough to slither off without his evening meal. And Josh was pretty happy to wash his hands. Because apparently snakes smell like rotting stuff. And I was happy to go back to my TV program and finish it off. And I can't remember what I was watching after all that so it obviously wasn't that important after all.

The bird comes inside to sleep every night now. But I'm not entirely sure that the snakes won't just follow him. I'm pretty sure if they are determined enough they'll find a way. Shudder!!!