Sunday, November 29, 2009

10 Things

Self-explanatory. Here we go!

10) My pumpkin pies turned out great - really. Stuffing...not a problem. However, there was the bit about the frozen cranberries, singed sweet potatoes, and undercooked turkey. The turkey should have been the easiest one to solve, but seeing that I only discovered the inner-pinkness an hour after removing it from the oven, well....


Long story short, I turned the oven BACK on, recooked the darn thing for another 90 minutes, basted the sucker every 10 minutes in chicken broth...and it turned out mostly okay.

Nathaniel named it "Vlad Turkish", after the Vlad the Impaler-like widow's peak our bird attained from the oven. Anyone who knows their history about our 15th century friend though, will know that he didn't have a great relationship with the Turks.
I know, I know - we are nerds. Sorry. But in the end the turkey turned out GREAT. And just by the fact that neither of us have thrown up or developed horrible food poisoning - I *think* its safe to say that everything was/is/will be okay.

9) Nathaniel may or may not have had the swine flu. Its been ugly and I've never seen him so sick...we've taken to carrying around hand sanitizer. Between the throwing up and cough fits - he's been pretty miserable. Luckily it wasn't from my cooking. Speaking of which - he didn't really regain his apetite until Sunday, and I'm happy to say that he's feeling much better. Overall he didn't have the best holiday weekend, but was upbeat enough to eat leftovers and decorate the tree.

8) I'm developing a Buddha belly. And by saying that, I mean absolutely no offense to any individual or their religious beliefs - its just a statement of truth. Sporadic workouts since Kona coupled with my never-ending Ironmanisits + eating Halloween and (now) Thanksgiving food has left me feeling unlike my usual athletic self. I keep reassuring myself that my body will return the way I want it to when I start working out - I'm just tired of being sick. And not working out.

But it's all part of the cycle, right?

7) During my beach walk this afternoon, I saw no less than 4 different photographers taking pictures of 4 different families. The beach was gorgeous and everyone looked great. Similar, but great. They were ALL wearing white linen (except the photographers). When I saw a little kid face plant while running after his dog, and ruin his linen outfit, I wondered HOW something like that is cleaned. Thankfully, he was okay - and actually seemed a little amused at his messy self.

6) I think the tree will stay upright for 8 days before one (or both) of the cats knock it over. It would be a Christmas Miracle if it lasted any longer. Hopefully the 45 pounds of assorted weights at the base will help. But when you've got a 19 pound House Monster launching herself from the Ugly Green Recliner, all bets are off.(Demon Kitty, getting ready to wreck havoc)

5) I get to start working out tomorrow! For real!! I have my schedule, I've got my workouts - and I'm excited to go. And... I never thought I would say that.
(And who DOESN'T have a shark ornament? I'm excited about that too!)

4) But I'm still following up with a pulmonologist tomorrow morning. I'm downright annoyed at my chest tightness while working out - I know my body well enough to know when something isn't right... The feeling combined with my coughing and blood work confirm that something is going one. We just need to pinpoint it exactly.

(So...I may put the working-out thing on hold... but I'm still excited to go! Whenever it happnes! YEA!)

3) There are still 1.75 pumpkin pies in my house.

2) I think it would be fun to "donate" one to the Punkin Chunkin World Championship Challenge and see how far it could be tossed. Well - I'm MORE interested in seeing the crater it would make upon impact. Because that thing is dense. Another reason why I don't like pumpkin pie...

1) Its going to be a White Christmas! Nathaniel and I have our tickets to Wisconsin and Minnesota for the final 2 weeks of December... And I CAN'T WAIT!!! Home sweet home - here I come!

Friday, November 27, 2009


Hope the you and yours had an awesome Thanksgiving! The above photo is PROOF that I made TWO (count 'em: T-W-O) pumpkin pies for our festivities.

The one on the right is completely home made. Except for the canned pumpkin. Err...and Pillsbury crust. But everything else was from our kitchen, I swear.

On the left, we've got the "canned" pumpkin spiced version - essentially you just add evaporated milk and two (slightly) beaten eggs. The foil was my own touch - I didn't want my crust to burn. Hey - I've come this far... I might as well get it right. Right?

(Personally, I'm going for the home made version. The batter seriously tasted mucho better...not that I sampled a lot. But I'm just sayin'. Nathaniel will pick the eventual winner)

In other news - I'm excited to celebrate Thanksgiving with Nathaniel (on Friday). As he was working all day, I went solo. Which really wasn't that bad, as the house is miraculously clean, I got caught up on blogs, got some writing done, AND made TWO pumpkin pies. So there you go.

And lest I forget... Proof that hell hath indeed frozen over: I actually went OUT for a bike ride today. Under my own power. All by myself. And it wasn't directed by my coach. THAT in and of itself is a Thanksgiving miracle. Especially since - the week before Ironman Hawaii - I swore that I wouldn't ride my bike for 3+ months after the race.

Suffice to say... I got through six weeks, and just couldn't help myself. I had to get out for fun.

Naturally I had to document the event, as the proof is in the pudding (so to speak). In all seriousness, I had a blast bringing my camera, really enjoyed the OPEN roads on Camp Pendleton, and loved the feeling of the bike running under me. It was a great way to spend time on Thanksgiving.

(So really - in addition to everything else... I'm thankful for my bike)

Here's wishing that YOU had a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Trusty steed
Excited anticipation
Shorter shadows
Bright reflection
Different perspectives
Longer shadows...
Open roads
Shadows from behind palm trees
Final stretch

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Poem

Happy Thanksgiving to all,
On this wonderful day
There’s fun and there’s food,
And plenty of beverages, if you may.

We’ve got turkey and stuffing
And pumpkin pies, can’t you see?
Let’s hope the bird has completely defrosted
Otherwise – oh shoot! – Time for Plan B.

Don’t forget the spiced Egg Nog
That wonderful, heavenly brew!
Beware of overindulgence…
Otherwise you might vomit on your shoe.

I’ll make one pumpkin pie,
But have ingredients ready for two,
Knowing my cooking…
I’ll be lucky to pull through!

But the food matters not
Compared to the rest,
There’s so much to be thankful for
For this, I’ll not jest.

I’m grateful for my family,
To me you are the BEST
I’m lucky to have you all,
My life is truly blessed.

I’ll always love my kitties
Though a crazy cat lady I’ll NOT be!
They are my furry companions
Even if they (occasionally) pounce on me.

Then there are the friends,
And to them I say HOORAY –
You guys are simply awesome,
You always make my day.

Other (food) things that I’m thankful for…?
There are many, don’t you see.
Peanut butter, coffee, sushi, diet coke
And always Peanut M&M’s – YUMMEE!

And I would be remiss
If I forgot to mention the chair
Nathaniel’s Ugly Green Recliner
It’s still with us – and ugly...and ugly...
(There is nothing I can say about the chair. It will forever be a part of our lives because Nathaniel and the cats love that thing. But it is still ugly. Even if it has character. But there are those in our household that love the thing. And because I love them, well... I'm willing to be patient.)

I love my bike, and my running shoes,
And, yes, even the chlorinated pool.
Though when my technique is ‘off’,
I feel like a bewildered fool.

But I will always keep trying
No matter the time,
And for that I’m thankful,
Because the journey is truly divine.

Sure there have been hard parts
I’ll be the first to admit
But they didn’t get me down;
I refused to quit.

There is so much support
From everyone ‘out there’
Thank you to ALL
The kindness you did share.

On this great Turkey day,
Remember to give your love
To the many who have meaning
In your life and those who are eternally above.

And never forget those who serve,
In countries near and far;
We will forever be grateful
Whomever and wherever you are.

Back to the lighthearted stuff,
Too serious, I sometimes can be
This is a day for food and family,
Let’s jump and shout with glee!

The turkey’s not ruined
And everything’s all right
Time for football and beer…
Let’s hope it’s a great night!

Our team is playing
It’s bound to be a great day.
Celebrate the Lambeau Leap!
Let’s go GREEN BAY!

Back to the food –
Aren’t you full? Not just yet?
Grab a chair and pull up close
Tuck in! Don’t you fret!

After the festivities
It’s time for some sleep…
Get cozy, get comfy
It’s silent! Not a peep!

When you awake,
Leftovers are all around…
Though you’re stuffed like the turkey
It is time for the second round.

Also classic Thanksgiving-day television
Remember the shows?
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
Where Clark Griswold goes, “Ho ho ho!”

So many memories
From Thanksgivings' past
I’ll treasure them forever
In my heart they’ll always last.

Okay, okay – I’m cheesy
It’s just who I am…
It only adds to my charm
(Akin to the holiday ham.)

So wherever you are
I’m wishing you a GREAT day -
From me, Nathaniel and the House Monsters…
Happy Thanksgiving – YEA!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Just around the corner...

You know Thanksgiving and Turkey Day is just around the corner when you start seeing things like this...

Tabbitha starts looking more Turkey-like than ever. Oh wait! She always looks Turkey-like. *But she's working very hard on her diet food*
Shadows get longer during the day...
Little projects around the house start getting done......during the Halftime Show!

Anabelle starts bringing us "presents" in hope of getting (more) Turkey (not Tabbitha)
Football! Green Bay Football! And because Nathaniel's team is rarely televised in Southern California, he enjoys Game Day Live on the computer.

The bad...
The good...
And everything in between - including l-o-n-g explanations about the game and why Green Bay is the best and they don't need some Vikings quarterback anymore because they're about more than just one person but they're still the dirtiest team in football and that they need to clean up their game and figure out how to follow through in the second half and that when they figure it out it will be GREAT!...Did you get that?

Holy cow! Trees...changing color... in Southern California! WOW!!
And perhaps the most wonderful holiday drink of all...(no - NOT the spiced rum, but that certainly helps)...Egg Nog (even if it is the low fat kind)
Cheers!And Bottoms UP!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Six-Week Itch

Though I’m still battling sniffles, lung congestion, and overall tiredness from my post-Kona sinus infection, while watching today’s online coverage of Ironman Arizona, I realized that I have a far bigger disease to worry about.

The 6-Week Itch.

Those familiar with the 1955 iconic film “The Seven Year Itch” may have a sense as to what lay ahead. For all others, let me fill you in. In short, the movie’s titular phrase was coined earlier by psychologists in reference to declining interest in one’s monogamous relationship after seven years of marriage.


And no – this has nothing to do with me and Nathaniel. (Though we have been married for nearly seven years… Um…wow. Has it really been that long? Ho hum…)

But instead, everything to do with triathlon, specifically Ironman.

In my lead up to Kona, I vowed that I would never do another Ironman. The long hours, the constant-sluggishness during workouts, the nerves, and insatiable hunger…just wasn’t my proverbial cup of tea. But I made it, completed the race, and was absolutely grateful for the process AND experience.

If not a little tired from everything.

Then the weeks passed. I got sick, suffered through the never-ending sinus infection; and life returned to a somewhat ‘normal’ state. Save for the fact that I (whispered) miss training. (Though I am in NO rush to get back to it... I'm letting my body my off-season...trying to get over this damned sinus crap...lung congestion...letting the body heal...)

There, I said it and admitted it.

I MISS training.

I miss the routine, miss riding my bike, miss feeling that post-workout rush when you know in your heart of hearts that you could have given up, but you didn’t and in the end that made all the difference. And you’re grateful for those times because they –more than any other – prove that you’re alive and experiencing life to the fullest. And deep down you realize that through the hard times and suffering, you’re growing and becoming a better person – because that’s just what happens when you work towards a goal that’s bigger than anything you could have ever imagined.

Plus - swimming, biking, and running - is just plain fun.

Okay, so a bit clich̩ Рbut you get my drift.

But does that mean I really need to do Ironman?

Why this distance? Why now?

Ironman is interesting; to most people, the idea of swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112, and then running 26.2 is crazy at best, impossible at worst. Then again, to those ‘types’ (and please take NO offense, because I proudly consider myself one of these ‘types’) who chose to tackle this challenge, the allure is tantalizing and promise of ‘the perfect race’ is but one race away (especially after that first one). But no one ever succeeded in life by not taking risks, by not assuming challenges. Ironman is no different.

It takes guts, it takes dedication, it takes going beyond what we thought possible into that uncomfortable realm of not knowing and definitely not having a predictable outcome. We take a risk just by gathering at that start line. Why does one person succeed at the distance while another struggles? How can one person execute a failed race strategy and still thrive, while someone else who worked for years, barely pass? Ironman takes a little bit of crazy, a lot of perseverance, and a good dose of addictive personality to boot.

Because let's face it: if it were easy, everyone would do it.

And why – for someone who was so burnt out just six weeks ago – why would they even consider doing another Ironman?

I don’t know and I certainly don’t have all the answers.

To some extent I believe it returns to the very slogan of Ironman: “Anything is Possible.”

Yes! Anything IS possible, as long as we believe, as long as we’re willing to work, as long as we can push through and GO for it. That perfect race, that slot to Kona, that age group win is JUST within our grasp and IS indeed possible…and therein lies the appeal. The belief that we can do the unfeasible, that we can make the improbable probable, that the race of our dreams is waiting for us. Always waiting.

And still…why Ironman?

What specifically about 2.4 miles of swimming, biking 112 miles, and running a marathon is so bloody appealing? Why do we keep pushing the boundaries and where does it stop? True, Ironman has been dubbed the toughest single-day endurance event on the planet; meant to test participants on many levels – from physical, to mental, to emotional. The drive, the passion, the motivation – must ALL be present. Through the endless hours spent in preparation, throughout grueling workouts, much was sacrificed for one day of sport.

True, it is one day that will forever change your life.

But why?

Perhaps by conquering the Ironman, through success beyond our imaginations, by proving that indeed anything IS possible – we can prove something greater to ourselves. That we can do it, we can succeed, and ultimately when times get tough – we will survive and live to tell the tale. Personal glory is but a small piece of the much bigger personal puzzle and mystery of Ironman. We are constantly seeking perfection from something that we have so little control over, and damn it – we won’t give up until we get it right (the way we want to get it).

It is the challenge, the struggle, our means to perfection through something so simple as sport. We do it because we love it, because we want perfection, because we're striving towards success and WANT to achieve the impossible. We want to hear Mike Reilley scream, "YOU _____________________ are an Ironman!"

I get that, and I'm with you.

But still - after everything this past year...why me? Why now?

I can tell you that while watching online and cheering virtually for my friends and fellow athletes competing in Ironman Arizona – I wanted to be there. I wanted to be out on that course, to bike those 112 miles, and to run the marathon I know I can. To slay the demons within and yell exuberantly at that finishing line. I would be remiss by letting you believe that I’m happy with my Ironman Hawaii race (note: I did NOT say results). Sure, I did the best that I could at the time, given the circumstances and considering the weeks leading up to the race – but the bottom and at the end of the day…IM Hawaii left me wanting more.

I confessed this to Nathaniel while waiting at the Kona tarmac less than 14 hours after my Kona finish. “I have unfinished business with this race…” I trailed off.

He nearly fell out of his seat.

But I knew that I wasn’t the only one.

During the race while passing a man on the Queen K just after the sun set, I heard him wistfully call out, “Next year I won’t watch the sun set from this spot. One of these years, I’ll get it right…”

The promise of that Next Great Race will always be there. Anything is possible; I truly believe that.

And therein lays the appeal.

Ironman was an impossible goal that I strove towards after breaking my back. It became my focus, something that I wanted to achieve to prove to myself that I could still do whatever I set my heart upon. At the time, I needed Ironman, it was great for me and it was there for me.

Even after qualifying for Kona at Oceanside 70.3, I still wanted to go the entire 140.6 distance, because the race was bigger still than even the Hawaii World Championship version. I wanted to be an Ironman; I had spent nearly a year before my crash working towards that goal, and to have my opportunity taken away from me less than 5 weeks before the race was excruciatingly difficult. And painful. I wanted the title of Ironman – it was about redemption, about proving that I could be better ME after enduring something so catastrophic. That even when times got tough, I could push through, survive, and be better than I was before my crash.

And I did it.

But now things are different.

Is it greedy to admit that I want that ‘perfect’ race? That I crave the age group win…? Is it shameful to confess that I want a new personal record (even though deep down, I think ‘personal records’ are trivial because all courses are different, conditions change, and it’s just downright silly to profess something that you have so little control over)? And maybe one day, if the stars are in alignment and I’m willing to do the work that it takes – a coveted wooden bowl?

Absolutely not. I’m human and I love triathlon. Moreover, I’m a goal-oriented person who isn’t afraid to dream big.

And deep down – we all are.

For a few hours today, I was convinced that tomorrow – when online registration for Ironman Arizona 2010 opened – I would sign up. Even though I’ve already tabulated and written my 2010 goals and planned my race season, I was prepared to toss it aside in exchange for Ironman.

But then I got to thinking…

What AM I willing to sacrifice and why? For what purpose?

There are so many other races out there, new adventures to try, different experiences to be had. There IS life after Ironman…and plenty of races to choose from. I’ve never actually competed in USAT Age Group Nationals; my last attempt was the infamous flooded-out and cancelled Kansas City 2005 version. I spent more time pushing stranded cars out of a wet and muddied field than actual time racing. Halfmax Nationals is also appealing – as are (deep breath) Olympic distance races. The last true International distance I competed in was…The Chattanooga Waterfront Triathlon…back in July 2007.


And what about regaining my running speed? I spent so much time this past year, missing my ‘speedy’ run legs, that I doubt my problems would be solved through Ironman. Part of me jumps for joy when I confess the longest I want to run is an open half marathon. Ninety minutes…and I’m done. What about the 5k? 20 minutes – or (hopefully!) less, and I’m finished! Hooray!

Can you imagine that? I could actually eat a second breakfast and enjoy the rest of my day (albeit with sore legs and lungs), instead of racing for 10+ hours.

But still, I can hear the siren’s song of Ironman, calling my name.

Next year will be an interesting one for many reasons. I’m trying to expand my writing with more free-lance work and short story narratives; this is a new career choice for me and I’m excited at the prospects and potential. I’ve struggled for nearly all my adult life with what I want to do and where I want to go career-wise. Having a spouse in the military has only added to my indecision and uncertainty. Just as I find myself, figure things out, or getting promoted…we move. It’s easy to lose heart and get frustrated. I’ll be the first to admit that it’s tough for me, and random odd jobs, starting over with each move – is no fun. Resenting Nathaniel for doing something he loves and having a natural talent for it – does neither of us any good. So from that perspective, my new year looks towards new promise.

Additionally, Nathaniel will be spending much time working internationally and I’ll have extra time to train without the added guilt of missing our together time. I’ll be traveling more and I’m excited to see friends, family, and experience the thrill of new places. And a small part of me whispers it would be ideal to train for...Ironman...ideal...

Though it’s only been six weeks since Ironman Hawaii, it feels as good as six years. How soon we forget…

Maybe things would be better if I gave it another go? Now that I know what to expect – won’t that make the process easier to bear? I know how my body responds, will be able to recognize the inevitable downs and ups and ups and downs, and have already experienced success at my first attempt…won’t it get better? Is that perfect IM waiting just around the unseen corner?

If I DON’T sign up, what will I miss?

After all – as Wayne Gretzky once so famously said – “We miss 100% of the shots we don’t take.”

But what if my path lay in a different direction?

And what if the BEST thing I could do for myself, is to NOT do Ironman? I can honestly say the thought never crossed my mind; but now that it has…the possibilities seem…endless.

So with that, I’ll have to wait to pull the invisible trigger on Ironman Arizona – or any Ironman, for that matter. I’ve already decided to not race IM St. George in May. My body needs a break, especially given the fact I’m still sick and my blood counts are a bit out of whack. If that's not a sign in and of itself, I don't know what is. There will be plenty of time in the future for Ironman.

And I know that I only have a limited number of these efforts in me - so I want to use them wisely. So really… where’s the fire? Crossing the IM finish line is wonderful – but I’m not willing to give up so much of my time (and health) in order to do it the way I want to do it. Or just because the timing (in the next year) seems "right".

There has to be MORE, a better reason - the kinds that makes me leap for joy and get jittery from excitement. And I'm just not feeling those reasons now.

I know that Ironman will always be there, especially in lieu of the brand’s success. One day when I’m physically, mentally (and emotionally) ready to part with an entry fee that is akin to a fabulous –albeit cheap – pair of Jimmy Choo shoes, I’ll be the first in line to sign up. And I have so much respect for the distance and what it means to become and Ironman, that I want to be sure the reasons behind my journey are right for me.

Until then, I’ll push aside my 6-week itch and think about short races, fast sprints, track workouts, swimming with speedy German ITU visitors, hard bike intervals that last no more than six minutes, having the energy to hike with Nathaniel and spending time with friends. And that makes me…happy.

It is true: with Ironman, ANYTHING is possible. So is waiting another year or two until I’m ready.

To those of you ready to embark upon your own Ironman journeys in 2010, I salute you! It will be an exciting one, filled with adventure, personal growth, and valuable life lessons. I’ll be cheering for YOU from the sidelines, supporting every step of the way and happy that I’m not out there.

This past year, Ironman was an incredible journey –for which I’ll always be grateful. One day I’m excited to return, but for now, I’m looking forward to short, quick, fast, and speedy, different, and new. And I can’t wait to see what lies ahead.

Yes – anything IS possible!

Saturday, November 21, 2009


(Lessons on how to get free cake)

Mortify: v. -fied, -fy, -fies 1.To cause to experience shame, humiliation, or wounded pride; HUMILIATE.

By comparison, they really aren't that bad. Sure, I hear them banging around the kitchen each night between 6 and 7 pm...but then again, who doesn't?

In the past, Nathaniel and I have dealt with upstairs neighbors that were loud, rude, and (I swear) took pleasure in making as much noise as possible. Sure, I called the police - but in my defense, it was 2 am and I had a final exam the next morning. Plus, the pot-smell was really getting old. Not able to get high (not that I ever did), my headache was the ever-present and lingering sort.

Luckily the Madison cops were sympathetic to my cause, and happily wrote the 5 sophomore girls living above me a ticket. I think I hid for the rest of the semester, but at least the parties were scratched and pot smell forever gone.

Later - while living in Pensacola - Nathaniel and I had the interesting dilemma of living directly below the apartment owner's son. Indeed, the place in which we resided advertised "Distinctive Apartment Home Living". But it was very un-distinctive with his (ie twerp above) little dog running laps around the living room while Playboy went out joyriding in his corvette (I am so not kidding on that one. It was black, and he was polishing it on my first encounter with him).

Made fore some difficult study sessions for Nate, chair flying in the Ugly Green Recliner (with help from a House Monster, of course). When his mother (aka owner) came to pick up the dog, even she admitted that it was time her son take 'responsibility' (her words). Yikes - would have loved to have been a fly on the wall in that room. He had moved out before the week was over, and the rest of the time it was great.
But we realized that through sheer dumb luck, by living below people - there will be certain side effects. Stomping, clanging, and yes, even the occasional head-banging noise. In the past, I've had to assure Nathaniel that not EVERY couple is as energetic as our upstairs neighbors.

Its tough, though - when I'm leaving for 5:30 am fill-in-the-blank practice and the people upstairs are just getting started with their romantic endeavors. No wonder Nathaniel put so much effort into studying.

Thus far in California, its been great. And REALLY - most of our other apartments and condos have been really good. No complaints...and I've really liked our neighbors.

Nothing to complain about - and the people upstairs when we first moved out here were...oddly quiet and...never home.... Until the owner returned from a deployment, transferred military bases, sold the condo and moved out. And in all honesty, the new neighbors have been great. Yes, they too have a little dog and make the usual kitchen-banging noises - but all in all, it hasn't been that bad.

Until tonight.

Maybe it was the wine (2 glasses of my favorite Cab Sav!), or perhaps because (for once) Nathaniel was in the kitchen. But they were very very loud - louder than usual. And before you jump down my throat - I GET it. We live on the downstairs unit of a lovely condo building. Yes, I realize it. But when the noise upstairs is akin to a heard of elephants - something needs to be done.

And looking at my husband, I realized it would have to be me. Yes, he flies low and fast, drives a tad too aggressively, but when it comes to complaining to the neighbors - that falls under my domain. Goody.

Please - I hope you can sense the *sarcasm* in that last phrase.

My first time marching up the stairs yielded very little in terms of results. I could tell there were more than two people in the unit based on 1) the noise and 2) the delicious smells emanating from the front door. Half-way to the threshold, I lost heart and scrambled back downstairs.

Yes, I was slightly embarrassed...but at what point do you draw the line? I am serious when I say the floor was shaking, the chandelier rattling, and we could hear every footstep, cabinet closed, beat of music, and cheer made.

My second attempt yielded success. I marched back up the stairs, and before chickening out - rang the doorbell. The dog went nuts and I knew they couldn't ignore me.

The door opened a crack, and immediately I felt like a piece of shit. Oh bloody hell - I'm confronting my neighbors in person and I feel like an ass. It's 9:50 pm, Saturday night... I am a looser.

A bra less ass, pj's covered in cat-hair, and sporting rubber flip flops looser. Brilliant. They probably wondered where I had wandered in from and were too afraid to open the threshold more than an inch. As it was, I could only see her one eye. For the record - all conversation had ceased, save for the barking dog.

"Um. Hi. Um...." And then I stammered.

The girl, sensing my hesitation, turned around and yelled. I wasn't sure if she was talking to me or the dog. The silence confirmed it was the dog to whom she had directed her comment. But it had certainly shut me up.

"Yes...? she asked, her one eye peering out at me.

"Um..." I took a deep breath, and let everything out in one hurried sentence. "Its really loud. I don't know if you guys realize it...but we can hear everything. I was wondering ifyoucouldkeepthingsdown?" I gulped.

She just stared.

And then she quickly apologized, explaining they had company over and would turn down the music.

"Oh - its not the music. Um... I think that, um...the walls are thin... and we can hear everything in the kitchen."

Again, she looked as dumbfounded as I felt, and assured me they would keep it down. I didn't think she 'got it'. The music was fine, loud - but no biggie. The quaking kitchen floor that made the San Andreas fault look like an appetizer had me more worried.

I thanked them, turned away, and felt like a complete ass while walking back down the stairs. In all my cat-hair-covered, bra less, pj's and flip-flopped glory.

Nathaniel was waiting for me when I schlepped back into our apartment, and I gave him the full report. Yes - they are having friends over and no - they're not usually that loud. But, gosh darn it - the noise emanating from the kitchen was the LOUDEST I'd ever heard. I feel bad, but it needed to be done...

I went to the kitchen to put a few things away... perhaps pour another drink (but ask no questions and I shall tell you no lies) and then...

The doorbell rang.

Oh. My. God.

I had a feeling I knew who would be on the other side.

Oh. My. God.

Now I'm going to die of humiliation, while my upstairs neighbor gives me a piece of her mind. Holy crap? What have I done?

Confirmed - she was there. But instead of a cleaver...she was holding...a plate of...


I swear that I winced, expecting a verbal lashing. But instead - I received an apology and two VERY large pieces of cake.

My jaw opened in surprise...and rather than the ass-like sensation I was feeling before, my ears turned red, I stammered, and every feeling I had was replaced with a good dose of mortification.

She apologized again, explained that they had two large pieces of cake leftover - homemade Kahlua Chocolate and Red Velvet - and wanted us to have them. (And the GREAT frosting, to boot! I sampled a bit - later...)

I was reaching for an apology of my own, "Um... oh my gosh - you didn't have to do that. I feel awful... It's just that...thin walls...husband is helicopter pilot studying...we have no life...not that sorry... thin walls...."

She gently pushed the cake into my hands and we made small talk for a few minutes. I could feel my ears turning redder by the minute, and I knew a hot flush was creeping up my cheeks (for those rare moments I am truly embarrassed. See how red my ears are in the pictures? Not attractive, and a dead giveaway if you ask me. There - now you know my secrets).

Mortification doesn't begin to describe my feeling. Its so bad that I might not even be able to eat cake.

Might being the opportune word. I'm sure I'll get it down, along with a good dose of shame and humiliation.

Whoever knew the bonds of friendship could be founded on some elephant-like stomping and cake? I think I'll feel better in the morning, after this has all passed.

Then again...

I'll still need to return their plate. Uh oh. And along with it, another apology. But that can wait until morning. For now - we've got two pieces of cake waiting for us. And...silence.

"Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse..."

Friday, November 20, 2009

Night and Day...(in photos)

By day...

And by night...
And a few others, just for fun... enjoy!

Just in case you were wondering...this is what a pretty typical Marine Corps Ball table setting looks like -
Usually every guest is given a celebratory birthday glass (this year's were the centerpiece of the table) - I'm happy to say that Nathaniel and I still have our glasses from the 225th Birthday Ball. Oops - I just dated us.

In our hotel room, before walking down to the ball. Though I'm smiling in the picture, I'm still trying to figure out how to keep my dress straps from falling off my shoulders. Somehow flashing my table while reaching for my wine glass doesn't seem appropriate (hence the funny arm placement).I'm extremely happy to announce that the dress stayed properly in place all night.

Birthday Cake! YEA!Happy 234th Birthday, United States Marine Corps!

Hiking up Volcan Mountain, morning after the ball.

Trail entrance - stonework, iron, and wood carvings designed by (local) Julian artist, James Hubbell.Another interesting fact, is that the Elsinore Fault, a major splinter off the San Andreas Fault, passes almost directly under this spot. And nope, we didn't feel any earthquakes.

Yes, I am WELL aware of the local wildlife. (Look - there's Tabbitha in the upper photo. Sort of)

We only had to hop one fence to get to the actual top.

Getting closer!It was VERY windy, and about 20 degrees cooler than where we parked the car. The lack of trees made for epic, Alpine meadow views. And lots of wind!

Marker at the top. (At least we think this was the marker - we searched for a bit...and this is what we found on the highest hill, bot not exactly at the highest point on the highest hill.)

Folds of green mountain, just East of Julian

Nathaniel, a little chilly, near the windswept peak.

California desert - with the Salton Sea barely visible at the top.

Um...yeah....perhaps Tabbitha's cousin was around after all. We were a bit more cautious on the way down.

I LOVE the colors out here!

It was a great night, even better day - and the two of us had a blast! Great times were had - between the ball, breakfast in Julian, great hike, scenic drive back to Carlsbad, and late-afternoon beer sampler... Happy Birthday to the Marine Corps and let's remember that ANY day with cake is a great one!