Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Happy Leap Year Day!

Every four years this extra day comes into being and I can't help but think it SHOULD be a worldwide holiday!  Or at the very least a holiday to make up for that darn Day Light Saving time thing that always seem to throw my body's time off for two days.  Though, technically this day is suppose to make our 365 day calendar line up with Mother Nature.  This extra day every four years is supposed to make up for the quarter of a day extra that it takes for the earth to go a round the sun.  Thus, it catches up our calendar to where it should be.  And I am being terribly simplistic here by describing it as such.  Most of the sites I visited earlier today gave some pretty LONG winded answers and if you want those answers I welcome you to Google it.

What I find the most interesting about this day, besides those that have birthdays on this day, is the tradition of ladies proposing to the men to marry.  It's suppose to be good luck day to ask according to Irish tradition.  And if any of you saw the 2010 movie Leap Year, a cute movie, I'm sure you'll remember part of the Legend. 

Legend has it that St. Brigid of Kildare, a fifth-century Irish nun, asked St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, to grant permission for women to propose marriage after hearing complaints from single women whose suitors were too shy to propose. Now if they are too shy to ask I see the possibility of other issues in the relationship but what do I know?  Initially, St. Patrick granted women permission to propose only once every seven years, but I guess that wasn't enough for Brigid.  She insisted on more opportunity.  So then St. Patrick acquiesced and allowed proposals every leap day. The folk tale suggests that Brigid then dropped to a knee and proposed to Patrick that instant, but he refused, kissing her on the cheek and offering a silk gown to soften the blow. The Irish tradition therefore dictates that any man refusing a woman's leap-day proposal must give her a silk gown. Wow!  A silk dress!  Now we are talking!

In Scotland, an unmarried Queen Margaret allegedly enacted a law in 1288 allowing women to propose on leap-year day. But there was a catch: The proposer had to wear a red petticoat (a skirt under her skirt) to warn her intended that she planned to pop the question.  So dudes watch out for red petticoats!

I just find the whole idea amusing to say the least but it is certainly interesting!  Happy Leap Year!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Arctic Brain Enemas & F- Bomb’s

Just when I think I’ve experienced my coldest moment on a bike, I get a new experience to top the list.  Yesterday, two friends and I decided to take a bike ride to the top of Little Mountain in Emigration Canyon.  Yes, I know its February but it was a beautiful sunny day with temps in the mid 40’s in the valley.  It was too gorgeous not to be out on a cycle.  So, I agreed to riding up Emigration Canyon with my friends, Diane and Lynda. 

I was covered with 3 layers almost everywhere on my body when I left to meet the gals at noon near a local bagel shop.  We slowly worked our way through some local neighborhoods on our way over to the mouth of Emigration Canyon chatting all of the way.  It was pleasurable and it seemed to be warming up.

Diane & Lynda as we near the Sun & Moon Cafe up Emigration Canyon.
 We started working our way up the canyon and stopped for a bit of a breather in front of Ruth’s Diner.  It had been awhile since any of us had done this much climbing and we weren’t in any rush.  It was wonderful out and we were just enjoying the day.  There were snow drifts on both sides of the road but it felt good to be out on the bike.  I was challenging myself by keeping in my middle chain gear as we were climbing.  We stopped again a little further up near the Sun & Moon Café.  Lynda said she was going to slow down and just take it at her own pace and see if she could manage to get to the top of Little Mountain.

Diane and I continued towards the top.  I shifted to my granny gears as went around the next curve after the Sun & Moon Café.  I stopped for a bit near the Pinecrest for a bit of another breather.  Wow!  Did I ever feeling like I was out of shape!  Diane, Miss Hardcore, continued on by me.  I eventually worked my way to catch up with her and rode with her for a bit.  Then, I started to play my usual game of not letting my speed drop below a certain amount as I was climbing.  I passed Diane and worked my way to the top.  It was a good workout.

It felt good to get to the top and I started to put on an extra wind vest I had brought along and pull down my barclava to cover my face as I waited for Diane to arrive.  As Diane and I were chatting at the top, Lynda arrived.  We all started about the same time down except that Diane and I both go down a bit slower.

We had seen some icy areas on the way up and we were taking it easy.  It was on the first curve on the way down that my teeth were already chattering.  OMG!  It was COLD!  Diane was complaining about the top of her head freezing.  She said it was like an Arctic brain enema!  I laughed; loving the imagery of that phrase.  I teased her about not wanting any ice cream for awhile after this one and offered her an extra skull cap I had with me.  She said no; she would be okay.

Then while I’m still freezing and struggling to keep my speed low, I hear the F word being bombarding from Diane.  She’s trying to John Denver’s song- “Sunshine on My Shoulder’s” as we are going along.  Only about every third or fourth word is the F word!  I tell you this is very unlike Diane and we are both just freezing!  My teeth are literally chattering and I’m cracking up about her singing.  Meanwhile, I’m having issues where I loosing feeling in my fingers.  Man, its COLD!  I’m just coasting along as slow as I can because I’m not sure if I could squeeze the brakes enough to stop. 

Diane asks how I am doing and I tell her my fingers are cold.  She knows that I’m not a complainer and to have me mention this.  Well, she knows my fingers are probably really freezing!  We stop at the fire station about half way down and I pull my hands into fists in my gloves and rub my fists together.  Diane teases me about going in and hooking up with a fireman to warm me up.  “Tell him you need to get naked with him under one of those emergency blankets.  It’s part of survival course 101!”  I laugh and blow on my hands.   I’m getting some feeling back and I’m having a fantasy about a long hot shower.  I just wanted to get home and down this canyon.

We continue on and it seems a “little” warmer as we get closer to the bottom of the canyon.  At the bottom, we finally meet up with Lynda who went quite a bit more quickly than we did down the canyon.  I put my hands into fists and tuck them under my arm pits to try to warm them up again.  We rode to a Starbucks near by and I tell you, I never had a Mocha Latte that EVER tasted THAT good before!    

Friday, February 24, 2012

Ever Have One of Those Mornings...

Part of my brain and body says…
“Hit the snooze!  They won’t notice if you are a few minutes late.”

The artistic part of my brain says…
“Come on get up and let’s get another layer of a poured watercolor done. They won’t notice if you are a few minutes late.”

The vanity part of my brain says…
“Come on get up!  You need to fix that shitty nail polishing job you did quickly yesterday morning and Ye GADS! Please shave your legs!  OMG!  This is not a fur factory! Besides, they won’t notice if you are a few minutes late.”

The athletic part of my brain says…
“See I told you!  You should have gone to the gym last night.  You would’ve slept better and now you are going to be a few minutes late.  Thank the Lord they won’t notice.”

Naw! Me neither!  Though, I did get the legs shaved!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Belated Happy Fat Tuesday & Somber Ash Wednesday?

Yesterday was the Happy Fat Tuesday; or as it’s probably better know as Mardi Gras.  In the US, Mardi Gras brings up images of wild parties in New Orleans, masks, beads, and women baring their breasts. It’s the day before Ash Wednesday when you do a last bit of splurging before giving up something for Lent.  Then it’s forty days of going without or limiting or whatever deal you’ve made with yourself and God.  Quite often in years pass I’ve given up coffee, chocolate, and caffeine or I’ve limited my sweets, or tried to be nicer to other people.  Sometimes, I’m successful at these things and at others I’m a total failure.  The total failures I knock up to “pie in the sky” ideals when my feet are firmly planted in the clay of the earth. 

Today is Ash Wednesday.  It’s that time of year when us silly Catholics get ashes put on our foreheads.  More than almost anytime of year, the church will be filled to almost overflowing and all of these Catholics even the “cafeteria” Catholics like me want ashes on their forehead.  There’s just something with the symbolism of smeared ashes on your face.  It certainly makes you stand out in the crowd when you go to the grocery store afterwards; especially in Utah.

I remember in years past purposely going to the grocery store after the evening Ash Wednesday Mass.  I wanted to stand out and try to be different from most of the LDS culture.  It was like I was trying to be a thorn in the side.  I would go down the aisles and just wait for someone to say that I had dirt on my forehead.  But nope!  No one said anything.  If anything at times it seemed that everyone was avoiding me.  Talk about clearing out an aisle at the grocery store!  There was no eye contact with from the girl at check out.  It seemed as though I was ignored or worse avoided like I was demon spawn.  It took all the fun out of it.  So after a few years, I stopped running errands afterwards.  I would go straight home and wash off the ashes just before bedtime.

Then I changed to going to a noon Ash Wednesday Mass at the Salt Lake City Cathedral.  I would take a longer lunch to go.  It would piss off a fellow co-worker who I am convinced has never liked me since she found out I was Catholic.  Talk about being the demon spawn in this case I might as well have been.  I would come back from my long lunch hour with the smudged ashes on my forehead and she would glare at me every time she went by desk during the afternoon.  Talk about how to lose friends and alienate people, I was on that path!  Well, after a few years even attempting to piss off a co-worker got a bit old, and I felt it just wasn’t at all in the spirit of the Lent season.

So this year, I’ve kind of opted out of the whole Ash Wednesday.  I’m not sure if I’m going to be giving up or doing anything for Lent.  It just seems like after years of trying to be a thorn in the side; I need a year of backing off and getting some space.  I guess that’s one of the benefits of being a “cafeteria” Catholic.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

I have never been sure about what to think about this commercialized Holiday.  It's kind of nice in that it encourages people to say how they care and feel about others; which in most cases I think is a good thing.  Or I should say as long as it's something in a positive way of stating one's feelings, it CAN be a good thing. 

But this Holiday also has a way of putting a great deal of people on the "spot" to say something that they may not feel comfortable with.  It could force some one's hand or encourage someone to jump three squares ahead when they are not even ready to proceed.  I, often, wonder if Holidays like this have lead or should I say compounded to the high divorce rate.  I know it's kind of morbid thought on such a day as this.  But these are the thoughts that go through my head.  I might be called cynical for making such a statement, and I don't mean to be a cynic.  It's just one of those off the wall thoughts that hit me every now and then.

I've never felt comfortable with Valentine's Day myself.  I've never really been one for flowers or chocolates.  I'm allergic to gold so that counts out at least 50% or more of the jewelry ideas.  And lingerie, well... no!  So what does that leave for someone to get me?  Well, something for my bike or coffee related would always be a safe bet.  Or how about an expanse of fresh newly stretched canvas?  Yeah, as you can tell I'm a REAL romantic one! (** Note the HEAVY sarcasm there!).

I think the other problem with Holidays such as these.  They sometimes encourage the easy answers which I don't always think are the RIGHT answers.  It doesn't encourage creativity or thinking about the person who you are giving for.  Sometimes, the most romantic things that can be done on a Holiday such as this are the smallest of things that can make that person feel special.  Small things like doing a sink full of dirty dishes for your wife, or going for a quite walk locally just the two of you, or cooking his favorite hard to make dessert.  I think some of the best things don't involve any money either.  Hmmmm... but that could also be the cynic in me too.

But anyway, for what it's worth Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Reading Goal of 60...

Last year I set my sights on reading 60 books in the year, and I came pretty close.  I read 58 total over the year.  This year, I would like to set 60 as the goal and hope I get very close.  But I’m off to a bit of a slow start.

I managed to read a couple of quick books that were less than 350 pages.  But it’s the most recent thick one that REALLY slowed down my starting pace for the year.  I just got done reading the 1000+ paged “World Without End” by Ken Follett.  At about ¾ of the way through the book, I started to refer to it as the “Book Without End”. 

My first clue should have been that a friend just handed over this book and said it was not their type of book but maybe I would like it.  Not that it was badly written but I think it was a BIG book that should have been broken into several books.  There were quite a few instances where the book could have ended but no such luck.  You turn the page and there was the start of a new chapter.  It was the never ending story; kind of like the movie but without the irritating music.  Yesterday when I got done reading, it was like the ending was anticlimactic!  It was like the bad after taste left over from something bad I ate.  Ugh!

This morning, I started a new book, No. 4 for the year, “The Art of Racing in the Rain” by Garth Stein and I was almost bawling my eyes out after the first chapter.  Now this is a book, and it was after lunch today that I find myself already starting on Chapter 11.  It’s a captivating story and it’s going to be a quick read for me. If you are a “dog” person this is definitely a book you can relate to. 

It is written from the perspective of a dog named Enzo who is philosopher with nearly a human soul.  In fact, in his next life Enzo is convinced that he’ll come back as a human.  I can tell that this book is going to be an emotional rollercoaster for me because of my love of dogs.  But so far, it has been an enjoyable read and a page turner.  I guess for my next book choice, I’ll need to choose something lighter.

Well, that's 3.5 down AND ONLY 56.5 books to go in 10.5 months!  She-esssh! No Problem-o!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Self Imposed Deadline....

Okay, yesterday I imposed a deadline on myself to come up with a list of New Year's Resolutions.  Well, I thought about it over night and came up with a few....

1) Save More Money!  I know, I know that I used this one last year BUT it's always a good one to have.  At least, I think so!  Besides, it's awlays good to have some money off to the side for those "Rainy Days" that happen in life.  AND this would make it easier to do some of those items that are on my "Bucket List" too!  So I'm putting this on the lsit for another year.

2) Unclutter My Life!  I had this on the bottom of the list last year, and it rather turned out to be more of an after thought than a goal or something to work on.  But I'm putting it higher up on the list this year and am really going to focus on cleaning the closets out and nick-nacks.  Just a VERY thorough Spring Cleaning of what I have in my one bedroom apartment.  Besides, I really don't have much room as it is!

3)Learn Spanish!  It's another item that's on my "Bucket List" that I would like to try to focus on.  I kind of get tired of feeling like a minority in my own neighborhood.  All my neighbors seem to speak Spanish and here I am- "No Espanol!"  It's kind of embarrassing!

4) Get to my Goal Weight!  I'm within 12-13 lbs. of my goal weight and DAMN IT!  I want to get there THIS year.  Last year I lost about 22 lbs. and I don't think that it's unrealistic to lose the last 12 to 13 to get to my goal.  So that's on my list for this year.

5) Cut Down On Eating Out!  So the other night I run through the Wendy's Drive Thru and the manager asks how my art show went last month... Yeah, I think I've been visiting THAT Drive Thru a BIT TOO MUCH!  And bonus, by working on this goal I'll also be helping out on two of the other goals.

6) Do One Century!  I blew this last year because I waited until the end of the year and then had bike mechanical problems.  Some of you may remember my riding 30 miles with my rear bike brake rubbing REALLY hard.  Doing a canyon like that was interesting in its own way.  So I want to shoot for attempting the Century earlier in the cycling season.  That way it won't be a last minute failure.

There's the list for this year!  I'm keeping it short on purpose.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Flash Month...

Wheeewwwpp! That’s the sound of January made as it went zinging past.  The full realization of its passing didn’t hit me until today when a co-worker wished me a “Happy Groundhog’s Day!”  WHAT?!!?  Yep, sure enough January had come and gone. It went by in a flash!  Here today and gone tomorrow.  I also realized I forgot to drop off the check for rent yesterday.  OOoopppss! (Guess where I’m going immediately after work today!?)
Photo- "Jane's Addiction" - watercolor on paper done by me.

 The first two weeks of January, I was dealing with preparing for my art show and the last two weeks I was recovering from the art show.  Meanwhile, January just breezed on by.   On the good side of all this is that I’ve managed to sale quite a few paintings; which has been rather cool.  I’ve also managed to rack up about $525 total donation to the Salt Lake City Habitat for Humanity charity.

The bad news-- I didn’t work out at the gym for a little over two weeks during the month.  I found I had gained 5 lbs. in the two weeks.  Ugh!  But in the last week, I’ve ran about 8 miles and had two pilates classes.  I got on the scale yesterday and discovered I had lost 3 of the 5. 

AND I still need to come up with some New Year’s Resolutions!  Not that I MUST make them but I kind of feel like I’m rather aimlessly wandering around in life without some extra goals to attain.  So thus I’m going to give myself a deadline for New Year’s Resolutions…tomorrow.  And hopefully, unlike the Groundhog Movie, tomorrow will come? I HOPE...