Thursday, July 29, 2010

6-Week Plan

With only six weeks remaining until the class reunion, I have formulated a last ditch plan to drop a few pounds prior to the event. If you recall from my last post, I was the fat, brainy, egghead in high school. When I attended my reunion 10 years ago, I was still quite large. I guess I looked pretty much as people expected me to look.

A lot has changed in 10 years, and I am no longer as heavy as I was at least 100 pounds. Mind you, I'm still no light weight, but in comparison to most people my age, I don't look too bad. Still, I'm vain enough to want to impress, so I'm pulling out all the stops.

To begin, I plan to go to bed a little least before 1 a.m. This should facilitate getting up earlier so I can fit 30 minutes of aerobic exercise and an hour of writing in to my schedule before I go to work in the morning. I've been practically sedentary since I broke my tailbone in May. But that issue is, for the most part, "behind" me.

I'll be spending some time this weekend finding a decent book to download onto my mp3 player to listen to during the morning exercise session.

I'll also start riding my bike again. Barring rain, it will be pedaling to choir practice on Mondays, and hopefully, I can get out there at least a few more days a week for some shorter runs, like to the outdoor YMCA and back.

I've already concocted an eating plan for the next 6 weeks to maximize calorie bang for the buck. I'll be avoiding excessive fat-laden foods and anything with high sodium content. I'm still off the Diet Pepsi (almost 7 weeks now), so my water intake is good at the moment. Past experience has taught me that my metabolism is so slow that in order for me to actually lose weight, I have to burn off more calories on a daily basis than I ingest in food.

I'll try to report on my progress weekly. Tomorrow morning's weight will be my starting point. Now don't go rubbing your hands together in glee...I will not be divulging the actual starting poundage. I will, however, report on the number of pounds lost per week.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Reunions - Part 3, High School Melodrama

Ahhh yes, the high school class reunion. Do we all hate this or do we love it? I have to admit that when I graduated, I had no love for my high school class. For me, high school was not that wonderful life experience people reminisce about and those four years certainly were not the best years of my life. I was the fat, brainy, egghead; not at all popular; and certainly not part of anything remotely considered the in crowd.

Ever the optimist, when graduation time came, I begged my parents to let me have a swim party. We lived in the country and had a 2 acre lake. So I bought hot dogs and buns, pop, snacks, and more for the entire class, and asked my dad to bring in tons of beach sand to create a beach along one side of the lake. We already had a floating dock with a high dive and a diving board. I sent out the invitations and was all excited about having such a cool, unique party for the class.

When the day of the party came, six or seven girls that I used to hang around with showed up. No one else came. I was incredibly hurt at first. I had gone to considerable effort and expense to throw a great party, but I wasn’t considered cool enough for the city kids to show up. Then I just got angry. I swore I would never attend anything having to do with the class ever again.

Fast forward 30 years. I got a call from the guy who used to sit in front of me in most of my classes. He had a story to tell me that I’ll pass on at some other time. But he asked me if I would please attend the 30th class reunion. I reluctantly agreed. Amazingly, I had a wonderful time. Everyone I saw there was warm and friendly and genuinely interested in talking to me. Seems we all grew up in the interceding years. I found I wasn’t really angry at anyone anymore. And I wondered why I had allowed myself to be angry for so long.

In September, I will be attending my 40th class reunion. I am really looking forward to seeing everyone, and I hope that we have a large turn-out. I’ve even been active on the reunion committee and working on the class web site; quite a turn around from the angry alumni I used to be. What saddens me is that there are a couple of my classmates who, for some reason or another, are so angry that they refuse to attend even though they live locally. Some have gone so far as to demand that no notifications be sent to them at all. Some of them were in the popular crowd. I can’t help but wonder what could possibly have happened to evoke such a response. I believe that if I can get over being snubbed by 95% of the class, they can get over whatever petty thing is holding them back.

The only way to find internal happiness is to forgive and move on. It worked for me. You might be surprised what it can do for you.

Reunions - Part Deux

The reunion on my father’s side of the family is not nearly as orchestrated as the one I wrote about previously. Dad’s side has a reunion every year for one day only, usually a Saturday in July. It is normally unbearably hot, but we all keep showing up anyway. This year the reunion was pretty small, only about 40 or 50 people tops, though in the past we have had attendance of up to 150 family members. Although some of the regulars were conspicuously absent, we had a good time.

The food was excellent this year, and my cousin Paul, his wife Paula, and my late cousin Jack's wife Judy, who have hosted the event for many years now, should be commended for their hard work and hospitality. Actually, with so few people in attendance, relatively speaking, the reunion was more relaxed and laid back than in years past. I was able to sit and have more than a passing conversation with another person. When there are 150 people, it is hard to speak to everyone in a limited amount of time, and actual meaningful conversation seldom happens.

Before we left the fair city of New Castle to head home, the entire family attended a mass at St. Vincent de Paul Church. The mass was dedicated to deceased members of the Boyle family. It is a very pretty, new church that was built to replace St. Lucy’s Church, the old family parish. The music was done well and the place was blessedly air conditioned! All in all it was an enjoyable event.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Reunion time of year

I was thinking about reunions today. Last year we had our week-long, once-every-5-years reunion with my mother’s family. It was a very interesting event. It was held at Camp Perry, a military base on the shores of Lake Erie between Sandusky and Toledo at the beginning of June. It is always enlightening to meet with family members you haven’t seen in years. Everyone looks older to you, even though you live with the delusion that you can’t possibly look nearly as old to them. It is never really the same as it was when you were kids and your cousins were like best friends to you. They change, you change, the world changes. Lives move on.

But it was a fine adventure. The place was swarming, quite literally, with Mayflies. They covered every outdoor surface. It was so bad that they crunched under your feet as you walked, and the base staff came by every morning and swept the beasties off the sidewalks, entrance ways, and the doors and windows of the rooms and cabins so you could enter and exit without letting a thousand of them inside.

We ate at interesting places and had two huge family dinners, one at Camp Perry and one at Put-in-Bay. There were family outings to Put-in-Bay of course and to Cedar Point. I have to admit that my immediate family skipped the Cedar Point trip. Having a daughter that worked there for four straight years, we had pretty much had our fill of amusement park fun. So we packed up in our cars and headed to Kelly’s Island.
We drove all over the place there, investigating the glacial grooves and a winery near the center of the island. We stopped at a famous eatery for lunch and had their famous Brandy Alexander by the pitcher. It was a really nice day with my own immediate family.

After four fun-filled days at Camp Perry, the majority of the attendees hopped on a bus and headed to Washington DC. Not wanting to subject Mom to the long bus ride and extend the trip home by having to return to Camp Perry to retrieve the car, I decided to brave the DC traffic and drive. We managed to get there in one piece. It was a relief to stay in a REAL hotel after four days in military housing. Our reason for being in DC was a little more somber than the family gathering. Two of my uncles were being interred at Arlington National Cemetery. Both served at officers during WWII. They were slightly older than Mom, and she needed to be there for the ceremony.

I have to say that I have never been more moved in my life than I was when I entered that cemetery. My heart cried. If you have never visited there, you really should go. If you see nothing else in DC, you need to see Arlington. The enormity of the sacrifice it represents is indescribable. Row, upon row, upon row of white crosses; flag-covered, horse-drawn caissons; and mournful resonant music bring tears to your eyes even if you’re not there to bury one of your own.

More on reunions later.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Home from the road!

Here it is, a week after my return trip from Tennessee. Things have not let up for the multitasking me.

What can I say about the trip? It was hot, but it was fun. I got to spend time with good friends from Boston and Atlanta. We had marvelous food at Olive Garden (the 5-cheese ziti al forno was wonderful!), Chili’s (where I actually had chili), The Fox and Hound (where Joe and I split a pizza), and Cracker Barrel (for the traditional Sunday breakfast). We relaxed, attending a couple of filking events and the annual Baen Publishing slide show. One morning, as the most frequently killed character in Baen-published fiction, Joe Buckley (check out the literature link), and I were sitting in the hotel breakfast area, we had the pleasure of meeting Larry Correia, author of the Monster Hunters International series, and his lovely wife Bridget. As Larry and Joe discussed Joe’s possible future demise in Larry’s work, Bridget and I had a very nice chat. Many of the people we meet frequently at sci-fi conventions were in attendance. Our man Eric Flint was master of ceremonies. John Ringo was there as well. And of course the usual bar flies were there in abundance.

The drive home was long and hot. I was looking for a BP on my way through Kentucky and I was hungry. I stopped at one exit and picked up a McChicken sandwich and a small fry (both on the dollar menu). I got back on the road and pulled off at the next exit to fill up the car. A bedraggled homeless man was standing at the end of the exit ramp with a sign. I don't know what it said, but I gave him my chicken sandwich that was still untouched. I figured he needed it more than I did. Later, I sat in Covington, Kentucky for an hour waiting to cross the bridge into Cincinnati. It seems Ohio is not the only place where the construction starts in earnest right after evening rush hour!

It was a long, busy week after I returned. Work was carried out at a rather frantic pace. I came home early from my usual Thursday night outing due to an upset stomach. Friday after work, Jim and I raced over to my friend Laurie’s house to put up a 20 x 40 foot canopy in her back yard for a bridal shower on Saturday.

After taking mom to her normal Saturday morning excursion to the beauty shop, we hopped into the car and headed for New Castle, Pennsylvania for the annual Boyle Family reunion. We hit a huge traffic mess on I-80 that had cars backed up for miles in both directions. We arrived at about 12:15. By our normal standards, the reunion was a bit small this year…about 50 by my estimate. It has been as high as 150 in years past. But with such a small crowd, the pace was relaxed and everyone in attendance had a nice time. We attended the Boyle Family mass at St. Vincent de Paul church, formerly St. Lucy’s, and then headed back home.

It was 98 degrees when we left New Castle and only 84 when we got home, but the hours of heat while we were there took a toll. In order to avoid the traffic mess on the return trip, we got off at Route 7 and took it north to Route 82. Shortly thereafter, we found Route 11, so we jumped on and headed north toward Ashtabula. The return trip took an hour and 35 minutes, which wasn’t at all bad.

After getting everyone settled in at home, I went to the BP and filled up my tank. Then I stopped at Your Vine or Mine for a celebratory birthday glass of wine. Meredith joined me for $3.00 Sangria, the Painesville Party in the Park special. I did not go out and walk around the park. It was much too hot and I was drained from the heat all afternoon in New Castle.

Sunday was the wind-down day, at least it was after we took the canopy down in the morning. Joe, Flo and Joe Jr., my brother and his family, stopped by to tell us about their Mediterranean cruise, which sounded lovely. We drank wine and listened as they regaled us with stories of the beautiful coastline and the scenery, the mountains, cathedrals and artwork. It made me long to see Greece and Italy’s Amalfi Coast. Perhaps someday I will get the chance to see such things.

In the meantime, I'll just apply for my passport and hope for the best!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

On the road again...

Here I am, sitting in my hotel room in East Ridge, TN. I am on my annual solo road trip to the Chattanooga area to attend Liberty Con 23, a Sci-Fi convention that features authors, artists, gamers, filkers and more. Some of my friends and co-workers think I’m a bit on the crazy side for attending something like this, but as conventions go, Liberty Con, which I’ve been attending for years, it one of the most laid-back gatherings around. The attendees are friendly and personable, and the authors, artists and musicians are wonderfully warm and willing to meet with and talk to most everyone. There are panels of the various “celebrities” who impart their writing wisdom; sometimes there are instructional classes as well. There are events running from Friday until Sunday at 2:00. I even scored some free books that will go onto the library shelf at work on Tuesday, when I return to the real world. I have made many friends at Liberty Con over the years, and it’s always a pleasure and an interesting experience to come back again.

The trip down was a 10 and ½ hour drive, mostly due to torrential rainstorms in Kentucky and Northern Tennessee and the resulting accidents. The rain was so bad at times that I actually pulled off the freeway twice and used the time to fill my tank or to get something to eat while I waited for the torrents to subside. Here’s hoping the return trip is less eventful!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Calm Before the Storm?

The bum is well on its way to healing and the Diet Pepsi withdrawal dragon has been slain. I almost finished mulching the front garden last night, but we ran out of mulch…again. I need at least another three bags to finish the job properly. My office is only partially clean, and then only the area necessary to install a new wireless, color all-in-one. The office needs a major purge, and I do mean soon. The same goes for the attic, my bedroom and the linen closet. Like Laura Kessel, I’m having “hoarder” nightmares more and more frequently.

As the holiday weekend approaches, I’m beginning to write a few lists of the stuff I need to get and the stuff I have to do to make the most of the three days at home. That includes getting things in order here so I can make the solo drive to Chattanooga the following weekend without worrying about anything I left undone.

I would be remiss if I did not mention that the Your Vine or Mine? Swap “Meat” event for this year is gaining momentum. This week, I made Ancient Sweet red peppers stuffed with a savory meat and veggie mixture, topped with garlic mashed Yukon gold potatoes and Black Diamond White Cheddar cheese. There were some very nice offerings this week, including NY Strip Steaks, porch chops, stuffed Cornish hens, infused roasted turkey legs, spaghetti pie, Swiss steak over rice, and a penne pasta with sausage and homemade sauce. Everything looked wonderful (and the strip steaks were yummy). The Swap takes place every other Tuesday at Your Vine or Mine on Main St. in Painesville. Get out there and participate! Fun and tasty at the same me, that's a definite no-brainer!