Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Highlights of 2008

I've decided to give some thought to the highlights of the past year, since I'm thinking about my 2009 goals in the mean time. Here are some that come to mind....

1) I trained for and finished my first half marathon, the City of Oaks Half Marathon on November 2. To do this, I signed up to train with the Raleigh Galloway group, which turned out to be a huge plus. I met a lot of new people with a common interest in running, and that was a lot of fun and very motivating.

2) Although I missed a few road races to early-year injuries and longer-distance training for the half, I did do new (for me) distance races in the 1-mile and 4-mile.

3) I branched out, Web 2.0-wise, and have made some new acquaintances there. In addition to Facebook and BuckeyeOutdoors.com, which I believe I joined last year, I'm now on Twitter, Goodreads, Athlinks, DailyMile, RunningAhead, and LinkedIn. Facebook and Twitter have allowed me to learn a bit more about my co-workers, fellow Junior Leaguers, and other runners, and that's been fun. Goodreads has been the latest social community I've joined, and it's inspired me to take the time to read more. In the mean time, a few co-workers are on Goodreads now too. Since we work with books, it's nice to learn about what books they like to read as well.

4) My department at work moved to a different building. It was an interesting process, moving to a place where I'm working for a library, but not in a library. I'd been looking forward to the move, but I've been more pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoy the new location. It's a nice building, and although I'm not on the main campus anymore, I really like the location. I get to take periodic walks in a neat Durham neighborhood, and I've gotten to try several restaurants I've never been to before for lunch during the week. Amazing what a change of scenery with a coworker for lunch can do to refresh the brain! It's been nice!

5) I finished up my time on the Rice Diet Program back in January. While I've struggled a little bit with the weight since then, I've managed to keep most of it off, and have also stayed off of diabetes and high blood pressure meds since then, which has been a big plus.

6) I've visited several more North Carolina counties for the North Carolina Odyssey Project, the name for my mission to visit, photograph, and blog about all 100 counties in North Carolina. It's been fun seeing and learning more about this state I live in.

7) George and I celebrated 6 years together with a trip to western North Carolina. It was a fun trip, one of the best we've taken. Here's to many more years together!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Shaking My Family Tree

Earlier today I drove over the Clinton to do some genealogy research at the public library there. They have a quaint little local history room, which shelves and shelves of books, as well as a cabinet of microfilm, which I have yet to explore like I should. I took my laptop with me, and it was fun to be able to look up people in my database, to see whether or not I had information on them, and to add information right into the computer. I felt very "green" doing that too. I used to go home after a genealogical research trip with copies galore from books I'd found, and sometimes it was hit or miss as to whether or not the information would be useful. Some of the information I found today was a little iffy---I wasn't sure if some of the families I found were related to me, but I suspect that they are. I was able to go ahead and plug the info into my database, ready for when I DO find the missing links! So much fun! One of the things I love about genealogy is gathering the puzzle pieces, then seeing how they fit together!

I've been thinking for years that it would be fun to become a professional genealogist, even as a sideline. It would probably take a while to get the certification and such, though. Even still, with the internet and all the great genealogy websites out there, who hires a professional genealogist these days? So lately, I've been wondering if there's a market for a "genealogy tutor," someone who shows people how to start climbing their own family tree. With so many genealogy programs and websites out there, I wonder if there are people out there who want to do some family history research, but don't know where to start. If so, maybe I could help fill that niche. Food for thought.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

More Holiday R & R

I've really enjoyed the first week of my vacation. I've gotten a lot of time with family, some with mine and a lot with George's, and that's been nice.

One of the odd things that's come from the time together, though, is that my being a vegetarian has come to the surface during three different meals with George's family, and the comments have been against my shying away from red meat and chicken. Part of what's so odd to me about the issue coming up this week, is that I've been a vegetarian for over two years now, and I've never gotten any "feedback" from them until this week. I need to think carefully about how to respond the next time it comes up, because I don't want to come across as contentious, angry, or finger pointing at them about eating meat. I became a vegetarian for health reasons, and have lost 100 lbs and all my diabetes and blood pressure medications, thanks to the vegetarian diet. His whole family has witnessed my transformation, which is part of why I'm baffled by this sudden "interest," more like concern, in my giving up meat. I've always tried to work my diet around whatevers being served at their home or available on the menu of whatever restaurant the family has gone to, and I've never complained about the food choices. I've enjoyed their company along the way, and have been appreciative when veggies have been available. I hope the comments will pass soon. Does anyone have any suggestions on how I can handle this and keep the family peace?

Another "odd" thing that's come from the past week is that George, his brothers, and first cousin have taught me how to play a game called Star Munchkin. It's a fun game that involves strategy, and interaction with the other players, sometimes helping--but sometimes ganging up on opponents too. So far, each game we've played has been pretty lengthy. Over the weekend, it's been a pretty good investment of time. There's another round of the game on tap for today; as much as I've enjoyed learning the game, I may just let the guys go at it this afternoon! :)

I've also been reading a lot the past week, and have finished a few books so far. I may finish another this afternoon, especially if I don't get sucked into Star Munchkin again! I've gotten some good ideas for reading material from Goodreads.com, and have gotten back into the habit of utilizing the local public library. I've ordered a few books from Amazon.com over the holidays, but mainly I've been putting books on hold through the library's online catalog, and having them routed to the library branch closest to me. Problem is, I've seen so many things I want to read, and put holds on them, that I've got a pretty sizeable stack of books from the public library to work through. That normally wouldn't be a "problem," except that I've done the same thing at the university library I work for! In a nutshell, I'm realizing I may have a book addiction! I love having books around! At least I don't feel like I have to OWN a lot of books, though I have quite a few. I do enjoy having a lot of books around to choose from when I finish one book and need a new one to start. I also like having several books going at one time, usually a variety of fiction and non-fiction, so that I can pick up whatever I'm in the mood to read at the moment. I didn't always read that way; I used to finish one book before I started a new one. Now, I love the variety...though sometimes I'll get on a kick to finish more than one book before I add to the "in-progress" pile.

I've also gotten a good bit of running in over the holidays, including a 7.15 miler at the American Tobacco Trail yesterday. My running goal for December was to run 100 miles, and it looks like I'm going to break that mark soon--a good thing since the month is coming to a close soon!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Although I'm on vacation, I woke up over an hour ago, and couldn't get back to sleep! I guess that's a throwback to my childhood! I got up and stretched out on the couch to finish a book by Jeff Galloway about running half marathons, so the day's already off to a good start!

I'll go to the gym soon, while George continues to snooze! Later, we've got plans to eat at an Indian restaurant, and then it's off to Goldsboro to see my uncle. Dinner plans are with George's family in Cary.

Tuesday night, we celebrated Hanukkah with George's family, and last night we went to our church for the annual soup supper between Christmas Eve services. (I took a veggie chili that was almost eaten up!) Oddly enough, we decided not to stay for the second service, but came home instead and relaxed. We both enjoyed that.

I have presents to open from my sister and her California-based family, who shipped things to me ahead of their holiday trip to Fiji. I can't wait to see what the gifts are, but I love the anticipation of wondering here at Christmas. My parents and I will celebrate the holiday later, when they return to Durham in January.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Finally, the Finale

George and I watched the finale of "The Biggest Loser" last night, though we'd threatened not to. One contestant, Vicky, who I've posted about recently, but a big game player this season, but a big turn-off for us. Her game-player moves were not very entertaining, and ended up having plenty of watchers, it turns out, rooting against her. My main mission last night was to see that she didn't win the game. In the light of day (though the sun hasn't risen yet this morning!), that was a silly reason to waste two hours in front of the television. I was thinking all this when I got out of bed this morning, and George said to me, "I'm done watching "The Biggest Loser!" I could've been doing other things!" I totally agree! That's a huge chunk of time to give to a TV show, when there are many other things I want/need to be doing! Maybe I'll tape it next season and watch it some when it fits my schedule, but maybe I'll just let it slide. I'm tired of thinking about that show now, though, and I'm glad the seasons over. Time to go exercise, myself!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Late Birthday Celebration

Yesterday, George and I celebrated my birthday a little late, but we had a wonderful afternoon and evening!

We started with the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. It was a fascinating and well-done exhibit, and it was interesting to learn some of the Duke connections to it. (For instance, in/around 1950, they were on exhibit in Duke Chapel, and Duke had a chance to purchase them, but didn't.) Afterward, George and I had dinner at the Irregardless Cafe in Raleigh. We'd been there once before, for Sunday brunch, so it was nice to eat there for an evening meal. We both got the same veggie dish, which was yummy! Afterward, we went to Brier Creek to see the movie, "The Secret Life of Bees," which I really enjoyed! I'd read the book recently, in hopes of seeing the movie soon. Queen Latifah did a nice job in her role, as did Dakota Fanning. (Little Dakota is growing up!) All in all, a really fun day with George!

It's a busy weekend, overall! Friday night, George's family treated me to dinner at Lucy 32's as a late birthday present, and tonight we're going to the Raleigh Galloway running group's end-of-year party. Tomorrow night we're having a church group over, so we're cleaning and shopping for that this afternoon too.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Old Habits, New Habits

A few weeks ago, I started posting weekly goals here, and then reporting on my progress. I haven't done that in a while, but some of those weekly goals have continued to become habits. Some of the other items have fallen by the wayside, for some reason or another, so perhaps it's time to reassess.

On the plus side, I've continued to finish at least one book a week. If I push a little, I'll complete more than one. I've continued to have fun tracking my reads on the site Goodreads.com, which has helped me to keep on going with this goal. Since it's a social networking site as well as a book-tracking site, I've "friended" several friends on Goodreads, and it's been fun to see what they're reading as well. When I go to others' homes, I'm often drawn to their bookcases--to me, the books on someone's bookshelves tell me something about them.

I've also continued to increase my running mileage as I train for the Coach Bubba 20K in Durham in February.

I'm keeping up with my family tree data input on a weekly basis, even if it's just a few names a week. I know I'll never totally be done with my family tree, but making progress brings me satisfaction.

Meanwhile, my weight loss plans have plateaued, and I haven't kept up with trying a new dish (cooked by yours truly) each week. I've also unsubscribed from the FlyLady emails (for apartment cleaning), which got to be too much to keep up with. So, these are things I'd like to concentrate on in the future. Maybe the trick is to integrate things more slowly, or to try different approaches.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Our Boone Vacation

George and I had a wonderful vacation the last week in October! We used Boone, North Carolina, as our home base, and did a lot of exploring in the northwest corner of the state.

It started snowing the night we arrived, and it was still spitting snow when we woke up the next morning! It was pretty, but didn't get in the way of getting out and about.

This picture was from a little later in the day. It cleared up nicely, and we had a fun time exploring.

One of our first stops was at New River State Park in Jefferson (Ashe County). It had a wonderful visitor center, with various exhibits and a short film. I was determined to have more pictures taken of us this trip, so one of the staff members graciously agreed to take a picture of us out on the back deck of the center. George's short sleeve shirt shows how much the weather cleared up from earlier in the day!

As we continued on our travels, we passed this bail of hay and had to stop for a picture! Remember, this was the week of Halloween!

Across the street was a field of pumpkins--I assume this is what a pumpkim patch looks like!

On our way to visit Galax, Virginia, we saw this Tastee Freeze on the outskirts of town. George had never actually seen a Tastee Freeze, so we stopped for a picture. He'd seen it mentioned in a book he'd read, so he was excited to get a picture.

Here's a picture of downtown Galax. It's a quaint mountain town, and we really enjoyed exploring it. We had a nice lunch there and ducked into a bookstore for a while.

At one of our stops on the Blue Ridge Parkway, we enjoyed looking at this sign, which pointed out various mountains and spots we could see from that particular vantage point. On the far right section of the sign, it told us we could see North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.

Here's the real live shot of that area of the mountain range. Pretty cool, huh?

Although it was getting toward the end of day, and we were tired, George willingly went along with me to to see St. Mary's Episcopal Church in West Jefferson. It's a charming church with a fresco painted by Benjamin F. Long.

Another interesting stop during our time in the Boone area was at Shatley Springs Inn. The lady at New River State Park suggested we try to do lunch there one day, and we did! While "family style" country food is their specialty, we were able to order single dishes, which worked out well.

George and I also stopped at Mt. Jefferson State Park, and hiked up one of the easier trails. Bound and determined to have more pictures of the two of us, George took the shot on the left. The shot on the right, if I have my sequencing right, is one of the shots from the trail we took.

Toward the end of our vacation, we visited Blowing Rock, the tourist attraction, as well as the town. This is one of our favorite shots of us from the week. "The Blowing Rock" is behind us there.

After visiting the park, we walked around the town of Blowing Rock. I got a cute "Life is Good" t-shirt there at a shop called Jakes at the Rock, which is dedicated to Life is Good products. Very cute store! The sign on the left was in downtown Blowing Rock as well, and I thought it was very cute.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

"The Biggest Villain"

I've watched the reality show, "The Biggest Loser," since its inception, intrigued by the courage of the contestants to be weighed weekly on national television. While each participant has been able to put their life on hold, at least until voted off of the show, to exercise and eat healthy with a group of like-minded people on national TV, it's been interesting to watch. This season, though, I've been turned off by one contestant in particular, because I haven't like the way she's "played" the game. George and I have watched the show together, and totally agree with each other on this, but I figured we were the only ones out there turned off by her game play. Well, I was glad to see a blog on Yahoo, and ensuing comments, about that contestant's performance on the show so far. If you're a "Biggest Loser" watcher like I am, read the blog post here and let me know whether you agree or disagree.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Getting Back Into Routine

It feels good to be back into the routine of the gym and work, I just wish I felt better. As much as I enjoy down time, and doing different things, I miss my routines after a while, and am usually relieved to get back to them. Does anyone else feel this way?