Friday, April 29, 2011

Weighing In & Sunset Boulevard

It’s been two weeks since I’ve weigh in. I was hesitant to step on the scale this morning for fear of what I would see. But GREAT news, I’m down 3 lbs.! YAHOO! That brings me down a total of …. (Drum roll, please)…18 lbs. Little by little, pound by pound, I’m working at it. Lately, I’ve been receiving comments from friends and co-workers that I’ve been looking skinnier and it really makes me feel good. Clothes have been fitting loser which quite often I feel is the REAL test if you are losing weight. But I’m not ready to go shopping yet. I still have another 14 lbs. to reach my goal weight. I’m past that halfway point.

Last night, I got to see the preview of Pioneer Theatre’s “Sunset Boulevard”. Years ago, I had seen the black & white 1950 version with William Holden and Gloria Swanson. I vaguely remembered the story line. But this was a treat. To see it live on stage, in full color, and with live music played that was written by Andrew Lloyd Webber. I would recommend it to anyone in the Salt Lake City area who enjoys the live theatre to go see it.

The cast did an amazing job, especially the actress that played the role of Norma Desmond. But what really held me in awe about the whole affair were the set design and the costumes. The costumes of various extras and Norma Desmond’s costumes were colorful and vibrant. They spoke of the glamour and fun of the time.

Norma Desmond's role was
played wonderfully!

The set design was really amazing. They used a series of drop down and roll on designs that moved seamlessly along and kept the story and action moving along. I especially loved the inside of Norma Desmond’s house. It was elaborate with a balcony at top (where Norma would quite often make a show stealing entrance) with stairs leading off down to a landing where a door was (serving as an on-stage entrance). Then more stairs to lead to the bottom level where furniture was placed. I got lost in the wallpaper and the little details like light fixtures and furniture material that fit the time period to a “T”. Someone had done their homework and put some work into it. It showed! If you get the chance, GO!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Losing the Cold Wars...

Since late Friday afternoon, I’ve been fighting a cold. I felt better Saturday morning and met Diane for a swim. Ouch! Can you say, “BIG Mistake!”? I only managed to swim ¾ of a mile and felt like I was going to drown twice; an accomplishment of sorts?  The rest of Saturday and Easter Sunday went by in a sleep infested haze. Monday morning arrived and I was still feeling crummy. I called in sick; my first sick day of this year. (Not that I was going for a record or employee of the year or anything like that. Not quite my style.)

This cold has been making the rounds in the office, and on its fifth round it sucker punched me bad! It was SO unfair. I officially blame it on this April weather we’ve been having. How can a body adapt? I was watching from my desk yesterday afternoon and within an hour’s time the weather had gone from cold cloudy gloom to rain to sleet to hail to snow to sleet and back to rain. Hello! Mother Nature could you please just choose one for the day?! Of course, she (Mother Nature) finally chose on cold and partly cloudy by the time I went home which was a good thing because I had the clothes to dress for that.

Fighting this cold has been an uphill battle much like the battle of the bulge.  Only this battle I'm a zombie walking with arms out and arrows are being thrown down at me.  I'm too un-alert to avoid them and when each arrow hits I get an extra ache or pain that wasn't there before.  But at least as I go uphill I'm getting a bit more and more alert; not the walking dead as much. 

My Arsenal of aids to help me get better.
So I’ve been taking extra vitamins, night time cold medicine, day time cold medicine, Thera- Flu medicine, drinking hot beverages ( herbal teas and of course, coffee), and consuming plenty of soup; variations of chicken noodle like soups. Added to all of this I’m drinking plenty of cranberry juice; about a cup of cranberry juice with almost every meal. My philosophy on cranberry juice is that it’s the cure-all for what ever may ell me. Most times when I get a cold the first thing on my grocery list is a big bottle of cranberry juice; everything else is an after thought. I guess I could be a commercial for the cranberry industry. I can just see if now me on TV saying,”… You want to win the Cold Wars? Drink plenty of cranberry juice!” Naw! Maybe not.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Almost Begging for Coffee...

Photo of Ruth's Diner in Emigration Canyon.  A wonderful place to eat!

Last night, I did my second weekly bike ride up Emigration Canyon. The clouds parted an hour and a half before the ride was to take place. So being the “hard core” cyclist that I am. I changed into my gear and headed for the ride’s start. It was kind of cool at Sugarhouse Park where the ride starts but I had the gear on—tights and arm warmers. In my back pocket my jersey I put an extra jacket along with a barclava for the ride down. I tried to push myself as I was riding up the canyon, but was rather disappointed with the 9.5mph average speed to the top. My best average speed is 10.4mph from last season. BUT it’s still early in the season and it’s only my second time up the canyon. Hey! You gotta have some goal to work towards, right?

So it’s rather chilly at the top when I arrive. I chat for a bit with a fellow cyclists as I change into my extra jacket and barclava. I decided not to hang out and wait for everyone to get to top because the temperature is dropping and I can feel it!

I start heading down and start to build up speed through the first turn. Brrr-rrr-rrr!! OMG! I can feel the cold air everywhere through what I’m wearing! Brrr-rrr-rrr! There’s a bit of Spring run off with the snow and there’s water running across the road in some areas. Not too bad, but I would slow down a bit. It was a bit better with slowing but here’s the dilemma do I go slower and extend the total time of riding in the cold or do I race down the canyon thereby being a colder but shorter ride? I get about half way down the canyon and find that my teeth are starting to chatter and know my fingers are there because I see them but I can’t really feel them. Did I say “Brrr-rr-rrr!”?

It’s as neared Ruth’s Diner that my teeth were really chattering. AND if I had had my debit card with me, I would’ve probably stopped in for a cup of coffee. Believe me, as it was I was half tempted to go in and beg for a cup to help thaw me out a bit. But I figured I only had four more miles to my car; so I hung in there. Brrr-rr-rrr! It was as I got to my car and unclipped from the pedals that I discovered I couldn’t feel my toes! I probably looked like a bag lady but I put on every piece of clothing I had in my car to warm up and then drove through Wendy’s drive thru ordering a bowl of chili. Awwww! That’s SO much better!

Monday, April 18, 2011

A Weekend of Biking & Ballet...

My cycling buds, Diane & Kym,
during an Emigration Canyon ride last year.
 It turned out to be a wonderful weekend. Though, I will admit I had my concerns as it dawned cloudy and rainy early Saturday morning. I had planned on biking 60 miles Saturday morning. I arrived early at the place where the club bike ride was supposed to start. I some how had it on my brain that the club ride started at 8:30AM but it was 9AM. Oppps! While I waited I chatted with mom on the phone. It was lightly drizzling on my windshield as I waited but the weather really cleared up shortly after we started the bike ride. My friends, Diane & Kym, barely arrived in time. In fact, we left after almost everyone else had taken off, and Diane was still shaking from Kym’s back seat driving as they were rushing to get to the ride’s starting location. They had to have the “Human GPS” (Me) out there to make sure they didn’t get lost. So I lead the way and made a couple of scenic off shoots. We ended up cutting the ride a bit short because Kym was concerned about getting home and doing some studying. I know I could’ve gone on but I wasn’t in the mood to bicycle by myself.

Later that night, I was off to the ballet. It was Ballet West’s Bolero with Sinfonietta & Chaconne and the last night of it’s showing at the Capital Theater. We arrived early to sit in on the “talk” about the ballet. The art director, himself, Adam Sklute, talked about the ballet that we would see. Normally, it’s quite often a Ballet West student that gives these talks. It was very informative and fascinating to get in sight as to what you were about to watch. It really made me appreciate the ballet all that much more. I guess they do this prior to most of the ballets, and I would recommend you take advantage of the opportunity if you go to a ballet.

The ballet started out with the Sinfonietta which was joyous dance with almost an Olympic celebration flare. The back drop was an impression of mountains disappearing into the distance and the dancers were quite often dancing and leaping with out-stretched arms; almost welcoming in the feel of patriotic exuberance.

Next was the Chaconne which was classical courtly ballet with the beautiful graceful lines and poses. I was amazed with this in the unity of the dancers. Watching almost 20 pairs of feet moving in unison was just mind boggling and amazing. I found myself captured up in the dance so much that I almost forgot to breathe.

Alison DeBona and RexTilton.  Photo by Jesse Coss.
Photo from Ballet West's website of the FABULOUS Bolero Ballet!

The third part of this ballet was the Bolero which is set to the Ravel’s pulsating beat. The curtain opened to metal coragated panels; an industrial like setting. Dancers were weaving around and behind the panels. As more of the panels disappeared to above stage area, more dancers came onto the stage. The abandon of the dance built. As all the panels disappeared the dancers weaved around each other climaxing in the pure seduction and power of the dance. Meanwhile, a huge red panel of fabric was dropping down the back center stage. The beat ended with a male dancer grabbing and holding up a female dancer within the red fabric. I was on my feet! Wow~!

Friday, April 15, 2011

A Quick Weigh In...

The news this week is that I'm up 1 lb. and I can't help but think it was due to the beer & buffalo wings I had after last night's Bike & Brew ride.  But I felt I kind of deserved them after biking 20 miles!?!  But at the same time it's never a good thing to eat after 7:30PM at night.

A photo that I took last year while riding my bike up my favorite ride - Emigration Canyon.
It's been warmer of late and on the no-rainy days I've gotten some rides in.  In fact, I've logged in almost 72 miles for this week.  This last Tuesday, I managed my first Emigration Canyon ride and just barely made it to the top before it was time to turn around to beat the sunset.  I felt slow and sluggish while I was climbing the canyon.  I didn't even venture to look at my average speed when I arrived at the top of Little Mountain.  Maybe I'll look next week -- that's if I do a little better.  If the weather cooperates I'm hoping to get a 60 mile bike ride under my belt.  Keep your fingers crossed!

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Popette's 78th Birthday at the Black Widow's Cafe...

The Popette opening a present before every one arrives.
This last Saturday, Mary "the Popette" turned 78!  We ended up having dinner together at the Black Widow's Cafe.  We all found it quite amusing that us, the Black Widow's, were going to an actual business that was called the Black Widow's Cafe.  I made reservations and then ordered a flour less dark chocolate torte ahead of time to serve as the birthday cake.  I knew that the Popette was very fond of chocolate.

Saturday arrived with rather gloomy weather; going back and forth between rain and snow.  The Popette and I arrived early at the cafe.  She had requested no presents or cards from anyone but before everyone got there I had her open a gift I got her.  It was a book that she had recently enjoyed at our last Sunday Barnes & Noble get together.  She was all ready teasing me that I was in trouble!  Oh no!

Almost everyone-- Laura, Mary the Popette, myself, and Not-So-Good; Em was taking the picture.

Enjoying her "Bubble" card with music.

We started to enjoy some coffee as everyone else started to file in.  One of the owners, Kevin, came over and wished the Popette a Happy Birthday.  He also pointed out the yummy chocolate torte that was made special for her displayed in the glass case.  It was decorated with chocolate dipped strawberries.

As the drinks order was taken, Mary read some of her birthday cards.  One had where you blew into bubbles on the inside and then it played music.  Another one had an inside poster that the Popette found a bit embarrassing!

An embarrassed Popette as Laura holds the poster that was inside the card.

Finally, we were ready to start ordering.  Our server stated the wonderful specials of the day and the soups that were available too.  Laura ordered first and told our server the rule was no one was allowed to change their order.  We all laughed as she said that it was a good thing she was ordering first! As we got half way through with ordering she was all ready trying to add something to her order.  No it wasn't a change to her order but an addition. We were all cracking up and making quite the noise.  The Popette told the server to just tell us to hold it down if he needed us to.

The big hit of the dinner was this delicious mulligatawny soup.
We got another round of beverages as we waited for our food to be made.  The food arrived and I tell you it was pure artistry!  The salads were served in cucumber wraps drizzled with dressing, and soups were served in fancy bowls.  Everyone was tasting everyone else's food at the table.  It was all wonderful and the absolute hit was the Muligunty soup.  Poor Not-So-Good had everyone tasting it and her cup of soup was almost consumed by everyone else.

Next was the wonderful torte which the server showed us all in whole and then had individual slices served to us.  We all sang Happy Birthday to the Popette after we all had our slices of the torte.  There was a delicious thick layer of chocolate gnache over the torte, and the chocolate dipped strawberry was juicy.  That and a cup of coffee-- I was in heaven!  What a wonderful way to end a birthday meal!  I would highly recommend anyone out there to visit the Black Widow's Cafe.

Not-So-Good and Em -- I had to get Em in a picture!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Yurting Expedition...

Part of the view from yurt the first morning.
I had packed my borrowed backpack the night before. It weighed in at 35 lbs. which I thought wasn’t too bad. Bee, a friend, was planning on joining us for the yurting but then got offered a warmer and better deal of backpacking the Canyonlands back country. She had offered to go up part of the way with us and carry some of our supplies. I carpooled with her; leaving approximately 10-15 minutes before Polly and Eric said they would be ready. They were cross country skiing the way up and would probably pass me hiking on the way up; or so we all figured.

The snow gate- there's Bee and Zephyr!

About 10am, with a misting of rain I found myself hiking up the canyon. Bee helped me put on the backpack. We ended up having to jerry-rig the bottom supporting strap with a fanny pack and a bungee cord because I was a little larger around than the 28” waisted friend (Bee’s tall skinny hubby) that the backpack belonged to. There was no taking this pack off without help to put it back on.

A close up I took myself shortly after starting out.

I started out at an easy pace with my snow boots with the yakstrax attached. Check in time for the yurt was 1pm. So, there was really no rush to hike the 4.75miles up to the yurt. Within a mile, I turned to notice that Bee was no longer in sight. She had my snowshoes that I would have strapped to the outside of my pack. I only let her take those because I really wanted to go up under my own steam. Two years ago when I went yurting with this group I had really been a burden with one carrying my sleeping bag and another ending up carrying my backpack. This year I was determined not to be a burden.

Most of the snow was between 4 to 6 feet.

It was the 1.5 mile marker that I took a bit of a break. I stood and drank from my water bottle; enjoying string cheese from my fanny pack. I waited there for about 4-5 minutes figuring that it was just a matter of time before Polly, Eric, & Bee would arrive on their cross country skies. Nope, no sign and the misting rain was starting to turn sleet. I continued on.

A bit of fog combined with misty rain on the way up.

About 2/3 of the way up, I saw my last cross country skier coming down. I was then all by myself. It was really quiet and sometimes I found myself almost jumping out of my skin when a clump of snow would plop down off a nearby pine tree. ¾ of the way up, I was starting to really feel the weight of my pack. I took my mittens and tucked them under the shoulder straps to help pad a little bit. I also started counting steps; about every 25 steps I would pause for a bit. The sleet was turning to big flakes of snow.
The yurt during the second day.

The last ½ mile, I was REALLY feeling that pack and wondering where in the H – E – double hockey sticks the yurt was. I started swearing out loud and I tell you it would have embarrassed a sailor to hear me. But I figured I was alone. Though, I did have the image of a rabbit coming out and saying,” Lady! Do you mind? My little bunnies really shouldn’t be hearing this.” Not that anything like that would happen except in the movies. The swearing and the anger were helping me along. Finally, with a huge sigh the yurt came into view. I was never so happy to see a structure in my life.

Snow- woman & man that someone had made before we arrived at the yurt.

Polly geting wood for the wood stove.

Eric doing abit of reading the first night.

I took off my pack and waited. Polly and Eric had the keys to the yurt. I moved around after taking off my pack to keep warm. I shoveled a bit. The snow was coming down lightly. After almost an hour, I started walking down the road to look for Polly, Eric, & dogs. I was wondering if they had a problem and had to turn around. ¾ of a mile later, there they all were moving very slowly. I took the leash for Jack and walked along with them to the yurt.

Myself and the ever spoiled one-eyed Jack!
 It ended up going between rain and snow all the first night. We could hear an owl hooting in a nearby tree for some of the night. The next morning it was beautiful! We all went out. I followed on my snowshoes and tried to keep up as they cross country skied. After a half hour, I decided to turn around. I was having a tough time keeping up and the snow was melting. There was one instance, where I stepped outside of their cross country ski track and ended up going in the snow up to my lower thigh. I turned around and went back to the yurt; where Jack cuddled up to me and I did a bit of reading.

You could hear the snow melting around the yurt, but no leaking in the yurt. It kept us nice, dry, and warm as long as the wood stove was fed. One little problem, with the melting snow was the restrooms. During the afternoon, there ended up being almost 2” of water in the women’s restroom. Later on in the early evening, we discovered the women’s restroom door was frozen shut. We all ended up using the men’s and left the door open just in case during the night.

The second night in the “wee” hours of the morning, I heard howling of coyotes. I woke up Polly and Eric to listen. One coyote sounded as though it was maybe 15 yards away from the yurt and the other answering coyote’s howl came from a distance. I thought that it was really amazing listening to them. I was also getting a kick out of Zephyr’s reaction to the howling. He seemed to have this quizzical look and would tilt his head a bit.

The beautiful sunrise the second morning!

Another beautiful morning, and the day we would be heading back to civilization. It was with a bit of disappointment that I started to repack. I left 1 hour before Polly & Eric left. Since they were skiing down it would only take them about an hour. We figured it would take me about 2 hours to hike down. So I would start out early while they did cleaning and restocked the firewood from the lean to that was behind the yurt.

One of many amazing views on the way down.

About ¼ of a mile down, my yakstrax got tied up in the shoe laces of the other snow boot. I went down; almost face planted it. I tell you it is REALLY hard to stand up when you have 35 lbs. of weight on your back. I opted to take off the yakstrax and retied the snow boots. Then I continued hiking down the canyon. About 1/3 of the way down I found a group of gals that were out hiking the day with their dogs. I hiked at a good clip and quite often said hi or answered questions about the yurt as I went down. I arrived at the bottom but couldn’t manage to take the backpack off by myself. I ended up enlisting a cyclist that was taking a break near the snow gate. I beat Polly, Eric, & the dogs by about 5 minutes.
My first sighting of civilization-- a group of ladies out for the day.