Monthly Archives: June 2009

And now for something completely different

This weekend, we went hiking! Again! Shocking, I know. Actually, it wasn’t nearly as taxing as our Bataan Death March last weekend (neither of us was up for something especially strenuous; we both felt as though our reserves were still not back up to normal after the extreme draination required on our last hike). The hike was in the Poudre river canyon up northeast of Fort Collins, which turned out to be totally different from other hikes we’ve done, and we only hiked 2 miles up and two miles down. I still took a lot of photos. Here, let me show you some of the ones I liked.



There’s a tree inside another tree! How cool is that?



Things I have learned recently:

Kentucky Grilled Chicken tastes pretty good. Saturday evening marked the third time I’ve ever partaken of food from KFC in the US (we went once in Xi’an, China), and I sampled chicken of both the grilled and fried varieties. I can’t fault people for finding it tasty, but boy howdy did it make my tummy hurt most of the night. Next time I’ll stick with rotisserie chicken from the grocery store or Subway (for fast food.)

Even a four mile hike can wear me out to the point of needing a 1.5 hour nap the next day. I think it was a combination of the hike plus not sleeping well at the Dan’Rents abode (I woke up a bunch of times). We went to see Away We Go when we got back to Denver (sadly, not enough time to walk to the theater, so we drove) and by the time we got home from that I was too bushed to think about going back outside to attend the Denver Pride Fest or see the top act, Deborah Gibson. Sorry, internet. We were planning to go – it just didn’t happen.

I have been vindicated in my reluctance to use the office refrigerator for storing my lunch. On Friday, some group had a meeting in our office and they had big breakfasts and lunches catered for what turned out to be a small group, so they had tons of leftover food. As I’d brought my lunch (I bring my lunch every day) I decided to take advantage of the free food and eat that and store my unnecessary lunch in the fridge over the weekend so I could eat it today. When I went to pull out my yogurt for mid-morning snack, it was gone. I looked everywhere. Every other shelf, every nook and cranny. After 10 minutes of searching I finally found it at the back of the fridge behind a bunch of water bottles, in a completely different area from where I’d left it (and the rest of my lunch). While ultimately the story had a happy ending, it was both frustrating and annoying that someone would hide my yogurt. I’m swearing revenge

Things that I do not understand:

Why do real estate agents always put their pictures in ads for their businesses? Why does it matter what your real estate agent looks like, and why do they seem to be the only people who do this? (With the exception of the occasional dentist or blue-collar specialist (electrician, plummer, etc.)

Why some people espouse for years that they have no interest in having biological children (with great vehemence in fact) and then suddenly and without warning end up pregnant with twins in a very precarious financial situation. I know we aren’t going to get cosmic gold stars for waiting until we’re in a better situation, but dammit, this shit is frustrating.

(And on that note, thank you all for your comments on my last post. I know I threw a lot of things in there, so thank you for being supportive. I’m not an especially patient person (Dan, when he reads this, is going to laugh out loud at that statement) and to be soooo close to being able to have/aquire/do those things but notquitethere is the most difficult time yet.)

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Hey Jealousy

Internet, I have some confessions to make. I know there have been hints along the way the past several months, but it’s time for me to come clean. These are things that are difficult for me to write about, but they are what’s truly on my mind, so I think I should write about them.

I want a baby.

I want a house.

I want to go to graduate school.

People I know and love have or are doing all of these things. I’m jealous.

I know they say that there’s never a good time to have a baby and that you should just go for it. Well, we’ve got some plans in the works and needed to wait for some things to happen (Dan graduating, for example). I’m just so tired of waiting. Yet I’m not comfortable bringing a new person into the world without a few specific steps of preparation (primarily, two incomes and some significant savings). It’s hard, because every month when I start a new pack of pills a good chunk of me just wants to say Nope, not going to take them. But every month I do. Having only been on the WANT BABY train for a couple of years now, I can’t imagine what it’s like for people who feel that way for a decade or more before they get to be parents.

It’s going to be a while before we can buy a house. We need two incomes for a while. We need a decent-sized down payment. We need conditions to stay as they are for a while so housing prices don’t go back up. And we need a lot of luck.

Graduate school is something I have wanted to do since I finished college. Well, maybe the first year after I graduated I wasn’t interested. Over the years, I’ve had a lot of different ideas and even made some steps toward applying to one program or another, but nothing ever felt quite right. Then Dan got back into school to finish his bachelor’s degree, and my educational aspirations were put on hold (there’s no way we could have afforded for both of us to be in school at the same time). I’ve had nearly ten years to decide what I want to go to school for, and I think I’ve finally figured it out. But what I want to do will take a serious amount of preparation (taking refresher courses, some volunteer work, and some excellent references) that will take a lot of time before I’m even ready to apply. In the meantime, there’s that whole want a baby-want a house thing. I don’t know if grad school will happen (though I hope it does) and I think the idea I have is a good direction that uses my skills, interests and talents.

But I’m scared of all of these things. I’ve always had a reluctance to grow up, and a baby, a house, a master’s degree will all mean significant changes – in my identity, in my finances, in my career potential. This is frightening stuff. Am I ready to be a parent? Am I ready for homeownership? Am I ready to finally get my butt back into academia where it belongs?

I feel so lucky that the dude I married feels the same way I do about things – that the reason we’re waiting for a baby isn’t because one or the other of us is unsure, but that we want to be in the best situation possible. That we’d rather be smart about buying a house, especially after seeing what some of our homeowner friends have gone through. Dan worked his tail off to finish school, to do well, to learn marketable skills so he can have a career he enjoys and not a job he just does for a paycheck (and so, for once, he can be the primary earner while I finally get the schooling I’ve wanted since we’ve been togther). He is supportive, he listens, we talk about our hopes and fears for the future. He’s going to make a great father to our children, and we’re going to have so much fun fixing up a house together, and I know that he will support me every step of the way if and when I do end up getting that master’s degree. These things are scary, but we’re facing them together, eyes wide open, hands clasped.

You’re not hardcore unless you live hardcore

After a considerable amount of deliberation throughout most of last week, Dan and I still had not decided what we were going to do last weekend. I had an idea that it would be fun to surprise Oldest Friend at her second Ironman (in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho). Google maps showed it to be 1,000 miles, mostly through Montana. Dan and I would get to cross two more states off our list. I’d been feeling antsy and wanted to take a road trip.

But 1,000 miles is a long way to go if you have to turn around and drive back all that way just a day or two later (the most we can take off is a Thursday night-Monday this summer, since Dan’s internship is Tuesday and Thursday). Did we really want to sit in the car for that long, with maybe a day at Yellowstone and a surprise for Oldest Friend to show for it? As the days passed, it seemed to be less and less of a good idea – the cost of gas, the wear and tear on the car, all that time sitting. So where else could we go? Yellowstone – but then I would feel guilty for not driving the extra few hours to Idaho. Dinosaur National Monument, to go camping (up in the northwest corner of the state, where neither of us has ever been). Then we found out that national parks in Colorado would be free for the weekend – Rocky Mountain National Park? Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park? Or a different direction entirely. Maybe we should try to do the Pike’s Peak overnight we’ve been talking about (and were unable to do last year).


I was so overwhelmed by options that I told Dan to make an executive descision. He chose Pike’s Peak. So I went to work on Friday and we had a typical Friday night. On Saturday morning, we ate a hearty breakfast and went to work packing up our stuff in our backpacks, figuring out what we would need, excited to get to use a lot of the camping gear we’d gotten as wedding gifts and been unable to use thus far. Dan’s sleeping bag! Water purifier! Personal cooking system! We made our reservation for Barr Camp and ran a few last-minute errands, then drove south through Stepford Springs and Manitou to the trailhead.

By that time, it was nearly 3 PM. Luckily, the weather wasn’t great (overcast and gloomy, not at all hot) and lots of people were leaving from their day hikes, so we managed to get a parking spot right next to the trailhead. We loaded up and headed up, passing umpteen numbers of people running down the trail, some with dogs, mostly without water. It was hard work.

No, it was REALLY hard work. I have never hiked up a steep trail with a heavy pack before, and I guess I wasn’t prepared for how hard it would be. Walked with heavy pack, yes. Hiked, yes. Put the two together – and you have a recipe for difficulty. After one stop for a load shift (tent destrapped from Dan’s pack and strapped to mine), we continued up the trail, stopping every five to ten minutes to catch our breath for 30 seconds or so. We knew that the first three miles was going to be really challenging and that the four after that slightly less so (though the latter 4 turned out to be harder than we thought), and the weather got worse as we climbed. We were on a trail that overlooked a deep canyon and couldn’t see the mountain next to us because of fog/cloud, and then the rain began right as we made it out of the tree-covered area and into a more open space. We thought we could wait it out, but after half an hour of steady pour, we broke out the emergency poncho and the blue shell and carried on up the mountain.

Now, keep in mind that we were gaining 4000 feet of elevation over those seven miles. The higher you go, the harder it is to breathe just due to lack of oxygen. Add the backpack and this was hard work, yo.

Finally, the rain stopped, though the clouds kept drizzling on us so we kept wearing the protective gear. And then we got to the sign that told us there were four miles to the camp, which was the best news we’d had in a while. We thought the trail would get much easier after that…but it didn’t. At least the rain completely cleared up and the sun came out a bit. We still had to stop every 5-10 minutes, and sometimes, it was less than five between the breaks. We climbed, and climbed, and sweated, and our feet hurt, and the strap of the pack hurt my shoulder where it rubbed. Finally, FINALLY we got to another sign that said one half mile to Barr Camp.

It was the longest half mile ever.

We made it to the camp after four hours of hiking and half an hour of waiting out the rain. We stumbled in, confirmed our reservation, and went back outside to set up the tent before it got dark. We changed clothing, pulled out our dinner food, and went back inside to prepare and eat it (didn’t use the fuel to heat water but instead the lady who runs the camp gave us some hot water). The feeling of not moving anymore, of not having 25 pounds on my back, was fantastic.

Dinner was filling. After we’d sat inside a while, chatting with other folks, we headed out to our tent expecting a deep sleep. We were comfortable and warm enough, but the wind was so crazy loud that neither of us slept well.

The next morning, we awoke for breakfast to discover that not only had we not slept well but we were in a lot of pain from Saturday’s hike. After some serious consideration, we decided not to try to summit (leaving our stuff at the camp), but instead just to break camp and hike back down the mountain. Summiting would have added 12 miles to the hike we had ahead of us, and we just weren’t up for it (especially since I’m still unsure about my knee). So we filtered water for our camelbacks bladders, packed up and headed down the hill, stopping along the way to take photos (yes, all photos are from Sunday going down). The day was absolutely beautiful (and hot, especially the further down we got). We were still very sore and got more so as the hike went on.


Marmot!

We took a little detour partway down the hill and ended up adding a mile to our distance – so by the time we got down it was hot, bright, sunny, and 8 miles under our belts. We used different muscles coming down and were completely exhausted by the time we got to the car; I can’t imagine having added 12 miles to what we did.

After we’d driven into town, we realized we were famished. We split a $5 footlong at subway and probably could have each eaten another sandwich. By the time we got home, it was really hot and we could hardly move. So that’s what we did – absolutely nothing.

I took Monday off work to catch up on housework and go grocery shopping. It was a good day. We were both incredibly sore in the legs, hips, and shoulders (the muscle soreness is better today, but I still have a raw spot on my shoulder). My knee and my calf held up. So I’m really proud of our weekend adventure, even if it didn’t include the summit of Pike’s Peak.

It’s time for another "products I am liking" post

Not like I have any sort of clout or anyone interested in sending me free schwag to review, but just in case anyone cares, I just really am liking this stuff.

1. Rachel’s yogurt

This yogurt is the bomb diggity. I eat a protein snack every morning sometime between 11 and 12, usually yogurt or a string cheese, and when Scarlett visited in April she turned me on to Rachel’s yogurt. While this yogurt is more expensive than I’d normally pay, the stores we go to regularly have it on sale, so I stock up when that happens. It’s made with lowfat, not nonfat milk, so the fat and calorie content are a little higher than I was used to eating in the store brand yogurt. However, the fat doesn’t seem to be hurting me at all and the yogurt keeps me going through a 1 PM daily workout. The best part is that it comes in so many amazing flavors and the ingredients are milk, evaporated cane juice (sugar, but not HFCS), fruit juice/pulp, a bit of cream, and live cultures. Nothing I can’t pronounce. It tastes like yogurt, and fruit, and not like sugar or gelatin. Yum.

2. Salad in a box

One of the things I started doing recently was bringing salad for lunch. It’s paid off, not only because I’ve lost a little bit of weight, but because I feel like I’m getting good amount of vegetables in daily. For some reason, despite the lack of bulk, I feel full on a lunch salad. Some days I might put leftover hummus/falafel on it, some days some slices of turkey, some days some leftover bean/corn salad. It always has a few other veggies, and I’ve been getting large amounts of prepared salad in these plastic box things at the grocery store. It’s $4 or $5 for about the equivalent of 4 of those bagged salads, and I get the dark leafy greens, and because I eat it every day it isn’t going bad. Yay!

3. Aveeno ultra-calming moisturizer

I’ve always had sensitive skin that is prone to irritation, contact dermatitis, and breakouts when exposed to any number of products or ingredients. For example, I’m allergic to every product I’ve ever tried made by Bath and Body Works. I read labels diligently and have a few trusted brands I’ve found over the years that don’t seem to aggravate my skin. Recently, I noticed another bout of contact dermatitis starting up, and I couldn’t figure out what was doing it, but it seemed to be bothered by the moisturizer I was using. (Moisturizer is very important in this dry climate, even though I have oily skin.) We went to Target and I spent a good long while staring at all of the moisturizer plus sunscreen options, and ultimately decided to go with this Aveeno product, hoping it was worth the money I was about to spend. Luckily, my instincts were correct. This stuff is awesome. My face is smoother, my skin feels healthier and is certainly happier, and it’s light and soaks in quickly. I do wish the SPF were higher, but that’s what my wide-brimmed hat is for, right?

Next time, I’ll bring an umbrella

Or, fun with the macro setting on my camera, plus a thunderstorm.

Yesterday we went on our first hike of the season. We opted for a trail near Red Rocks, part of which we’ve already hiked, but most of which we hadn’t, and because the weather has been so weird lately (on-and-off thunderstorms with lots of rain/hail daily!) we decided to go earlier in the day than we normally might in order to try to beat the storm.

We lucked out and got a beautiful blue-sky day for the first half hour of the 6-mile hike. The sun went behind clouds at times, but always returned to warm us up. I stopped a whole bunch of times to photograph the gorgeous colors that are Colorado wildflowers during this very short period of the year (and because of the weather of late, most everything was still green!).














At the halfway point, rather than turning back the way we’d come we decided to take the loop shown on the trail map and go back a different way. While it was enjoyable in the “there’s nobody else here!” sort of way, it was perhaps not the best decision because at 2 PM suddenly the ominous clouds rolled in. And we weren’t entirely sure of the route, particularly when the raindrops started falling and then the thunder and the lightning. We were on an unfamiliar trail right next to a busy road that kept climbing and then there were two ways we could go and which one was the right way? We had no idea. We picked the downhill direction, ended up not on a trail but at a road by Dinosaur Ridge, and then it was raining harder and HAILING and there was no shelter at all except a skinny little tree.

We were wet and cold, standing under that tree, when a tour bus full of people with umbrellas stopped nearby to look at dinosaur bones in the rain and hail. The bus drove away. The hail diminished and we knew we were at least a mile away from the car and there was no way of knowing whether the storm would slack off or get worse, so we decided to walk to the car along the road, sunscreen running in our faces and stinging our eyes, being pelted by hard rain and bits of ice as cars zoomed by. My eyes hurt so much I could hardly see, and Dan didn’t look like he felt much better than I did. Plus, I had to pee. But you know what? It could have been worse, because not too long after we began our trek back a kind motorist stopped and offered us a ride. He’d been mountain biking, possibly along some of the same trails, and told us he’d finished his ride right as the sky had opened up. “You guys didn’t look like the hard core, tough-it-out types,” he told us. We thanked him and got in our car just as the storm took a turn for the worse, and we sat there shivering and eating our peanut butter sandwiches, soaked to the skin.



It was another Colorado adventure. Next time we’ll get an even earlier start. And it turns out we weren’t the only hikers caught in the crazy Colorado summer weather yesterday!

Friday faff*, good news edition

1. My new (to me) camera appears to function exactly as the old one did. I’m a little suspicious about how much it was used by the previous owner (I used mine a LOT and it wasn’t as scratched up as my “new” one) but it works so that’s good.

2. After months of work, I’m finally starting to feel a difference in how my clothes fit. I still have a ways go go and plans for how to get to where I want to be before Operation New Stryker starts, but I’m feeling less hopeless about it all now.

3. Thank you all for such wonderful feedback about the flowers I did this past weekend! I was really happy with how they turned out and the process gave me a much better idea of what I’m capable of doing, of the amount of time and effort it takes to do certain things, and helped narrow my focus a bit. I have to admit I’m still pretty proud of the accomplishment.

4. A coworker and friend had her thyroid levels checked a couple of weeks ago, only to find out that she had some suspicious nodules. They couldn’t tell much from an ultrasound so she had a needle biopsy earlier this week and just got the results – no cancer! My other friend who had thyroid cancer more than a year ago is doing fine these days, but I don’t wish cancer on anyone and am so glad my coworker is going to be OK.

5. I’m going to the batting cages this weekend to get some more batting practice in (!)

6. This is the first weekend in WEEKS where we didn’t have anything in particular planned – no social engagements, no trips. I think we’ll probably run errands, do some house cleaning, and maybe go hiking on Sunday. I just hope the weather gets a little nicer.

*courtesy Hillary

I think it’s gross, but most women don’t.

For some reason, I’ve been paying a lot more to advertisements lately. Dan and I have a habit of making fun of them, particularly TV commercials, pointing out the messages they’re not-so-subtly conveying – men are stupid/incompetent, women like shoes (and yogurt!), buying a Prius will make everything look like blooming gardens, it’ll make you poop (and look like those women)! You know, stuff like that. Maybe it’s because we’re watching more actual broadcast TV now that we have cable and I’m noticing stuff. Maybe it’s because I’ve never given much thought to marketing or advertising or branding and I’m really thinking about it these days because of my flower venture.

Last night I was watching commercial after commercial try to sell beer. But none of them try to sell beer to women. After a while, I tried to think of a TV commercial or print advertisement that marketed beer to women, and couldn’t remember a single instance. Yet of my friends, I know that most of the women I know who drink like beer just as much as anything else, if not more. So what gives, beer companies? Why ignore a huge portion of potential market share? It seems to me that it’s an example of a company shooting itself in the foot – I mean, instead of competing with all the other beer companies for men’s money, why not try to sell your beer to women? It can’t be a holdover from prohibition or a “women don’t drink” mentality, because wine is pretty much marketed equally to men and women. The same for hard alcohol (what advertisments I’ve seen, anyway; it’s rare to see the hard stuff advertised). Even the flavored malt beverages like Smirnoff Ice and Mike’s Hard Lemonade are pushed at both sexes. What makes beer something that only men should want to buy?

Riddle me this, internet. Why don’t beer companies want women to buy beer? Why are seemingly all ads for beer marketed toward men, with the scantily clad women and the cars and the men screaming at a walk-in refrigerator full of Heineken? Why don’t the beer companies want me to be a beer drinker? I’m not a fan of beer, but that has nothing to do with advertisement and everything to do with having tried beer on multiple occasions and just not liking it.