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southern thanksgiving

i was treated to an early thanksgiving dinner yesterday.
a couple i know here invited me over to try out some new thanksgiving recipes that they wanted to test. i don’t know whether to be glad for the invitation or insulted, as they said they wouldn’t be anxious if i was the one trying out the meal. haha
so i showed up at their place around 1pm, bottle of martinelli’s in hand. the two of them saw me drive up to their appt. complex and they waited outside, hand in hand, until i got up to the door. they’re such a cute couple! (married six months now). i was floored by the amazing aroma as i walked into their place.
i was also surprised to find out that it was the guy of the couple that was doing the cooking. apparently he’s originally from texas and spent quite a bit of time in north carolina as well. so, the dishes that he was cooking up aren’t the traditional thanksgiving fare that i’m used to. i took a quick peek at the turkey and noticed that it had a couple full bell peppers and apple slices stuffed in it. i was in for an interesting dinner.
we sat down and he started bringing out the dishes. turkey, juicy and smelling fabulously. corn bread dressing, light and flavorful – not that bread pudding consistency of the breadcrumb stuffing that i usually end up having. fried okra, nice and crisp, not slimy like most people make it. and to top it all off, collard greens stewed with ham flavoring. oh lord. i was in fried southern food heaven. okay, granted, i was starving after my long run in the morning, but even so, this cooking was the best southern i’d ever had. the turkey was amazingly juicy and had little tastes of sweet from the apple and pepper. oh, it was fantastic. the okra was the best i’d ever had and the greens were equally as good.
we spent about 4 hours just talking and eating. the couple are both clinical psychologists, with her running a group home for girls, and he a case manager for foster children. the topics ran from homosexual tendencies of young boys with overbearing mothers and distant fathers, to whether or not sting is a christian. yeah, we were all over the spectrum, but the fun thing just hanging out and be social. this is really the first ‘holiday’ event that i’ve been too, and now it’s got my taste buds all whetted for more.
yeah, the holidays can be rough for some, but for me, i thrive on the social aspect of the holidays. catching up with old friends, meeting new ones, chatting to the early hours of the morning, getting sleepy on too much turkey…
oh boy, christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat!


it’s not a cocteau twins day

hmm…i’m not sure how it happened.
i woke up exhausted this morning and dragged myself through my morning routine. dressed and still bleary-eyed, i left the house to drive into the office. the trip up the freeway was a haze of signal-less mergers and talk radio. at some point, as i filled my jug of water and headed to my desk, my mood switched. i sat down in front of the monitor and donned my headphones, ready for a day of jumping through database hoops.
the lilting, ethereal melodies of the cocteau twins greeted me. and my ears were offended. don’t get me wrong, i love them, and based on my mood earlier, they seemed appropriate for today’s soundtrack. ms. frazer has an amazingly soothing voice and i could drown in her syrupy vocals all day. but somehow, cocteau twins didn’t sound right. so i browsed through the library and something else caught my eye and seemed more appropriate.
it was like i had an itch and someone came and scratched it for me. like i was craving peanut butter and banana sandwiches and the local deli finally put it on the menu. the raucous hijinks of killing joke just seemed so much more appropriate somehow. so now the driving tribal wall of noise that is killing joke is fueling my day.
see, i’m a musical gal. i code all day long with headphones on, i run with an mp3 player, i listen to music in the car and the mp3 jukebox is almost always running when i’m home. i live with a constant soundtrack. feeling geeky? i put on some gary numan. feeling retrospective? dead can dance or thethe. feeling feisty? foo figthers, rage or the b52’s. amorous? lisa gerrard, billie holiday or van morrisson. music fuels my life.
i love too, that when i listen to a certain track, it can instantly take me back to a place in time. ‘thank you’ by led zeppelin takes me back to silopi, turkey 1991. ‘cinnamon girl’ by neil young puts me in my first apartment here in the states, sitting on the couch, incense burning on a bright spring day. ‘never tear us apart’ by inxs and i’m instantly back in my room in lasne after a crushing break-up with sweet richard. ‘orpheus’ by david sylvian has me in that same room after a break-up with equally sweet alexandre. hehe…seems like quite a few songs remind me of the loves of my life.
i wonder what song will be the title track for mr. mountainbike…

gloria steinem, i’m not

men are wonderful.
oh, i know they can be neanderthals and morons at times, but hey, they’re good for getting things off the high shelf, squishing ugly bugs and lifting heavy items. i honestly enjoy their company, whether they’re staring at my boobies or not.
okay, that’s not giving them the fare shake that they deserve. well, take my father for example. my dad always knows how to make me feel like his little girl. he always treats me to ice cream, and that’s our intimate bond. dad knows how to calm me down when i’m frantic over something. dad exudes protection. he plays the role of the great protector. dad has taught me confidence in myself and integrity with others. and on a surface level, i learned intimacy watching he and my mother interact. so, men can play the father figure role.
then there’s my brother, my partner in crime, my nemesis, my protector. marcel was the perfect catalyst for encouraging trouble and pushing me outside of my comfort zone. he was the bane of my existence as a youth, and taught me patience. a bully at school that i didn’t want dad to know about? marcel was right there to make sure my pig-tails didn’t get pulled. to this day, he is a great sounding board, with support when i need it, and logic when i’m lacking it. he is fantastic man in the role of a brother.
there are men like kwip, who shows amazing love for his wife and humor without bounds. his writing has given me hours of belly-laughing and taught me the joy of sarcasm and self-deprecation. he constantly shows a lust for life that is inspiring. he is a wonderful man in the role of a husband and comedian.
then there’s the role of lover. rough at times, tender and giving at others, men fit us perfectly. the firmness of a bicep, the curve of an ass in a nice pair of jeans, the heady scent of his skin, they all drive arousal like nothing else can.
oh, and one of the most wonderful roles a man can play, a partner. mr. mountainbike, for example, is my hero. he provides me with encouragement and is my loudest cheerleader. he is my willing companion on adventures. he seeks to join me as we walk through life. he is the father, brother, comedian and lover, all in one. his holding of my hand, his knowing gaze, his warm smile, those are all i need to know that taking on the world is not out of the question. he plays the perfect role of partner.
men, while they have their negative qualities, are as gems or a rare gift, to us women. they offer protection, companionship, intimacy and humor. i, for one, would be lost without them. so, for my boobie comments, i apologize and hope that you men see your true wealth.

thanks for the mammaries

guys are pigs.
oh, i know they’re good for something, but there’s a re-occurring theme with men. they like boobies. i’m not talking about the blatant gawking of the social neanderthals, but more the covert staring of the average joe. yes, i see your sideways looks, trying to be sly and sneak a peek. we’ve got your number, and we log it away for permanent reference. i don’t catch every guy i meet looking, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t. it’s something that we accept, and it usually doesn’t bother us, like rain off of a duck’s back.
it’s easier to notice it when i run with a friend, because then there’s two of us and one of us is being oggled while the other is able to see where he’s looking. but yesterday, i went on a long run solo and decided to perform a little test to occupy myself. i wanted to see what the ratio was of guys that would try to ‘sneak a peek’.
i put on my sunglasses and decided to do a little covert staring myself. as i approached a guy, i would shift my head to make it appear that i was looking away from him, while looking sideways to see where he was looking. any guesses on how the guys fared? hehe well, i encountered 72 guys during my run yesterday, and 71 failed the test. the only guy that didn’t was pushing a stroller with his infant son and walking with his wife. whether he was afraid to look with his wife there or not, i guess we’ll never know. at first it was funny how consistent it was. after the guy would pass, i’d have to stifle a chuckle. after about a dozen in a row, it started to get weird. by the time i finished my run, i was really upset and mad.
now, to be fair, i started out my run with a long sleeve shirt on, but about an hour into the run i had stripped down to just my sleeveless moving comfort jog bra top. the funny thing is that almost every guy would react the same way. they’d start by doing a complete body scan from a distance. as we got closer, he’d watch my head, trying to determine where i was looking, making quick glances down toward my chest. when he seemed confident that i was looking away, the last couple seconds were all out staring at my breast.
it was the same, no matter the age of the guy. at first, i wasn’t going to count boys (when i say boys, i mean teens, not elementary age – that’s just gross) or older men, but when i realized they were all reacting the same way, how could i in good conscious, exclude them from the study? i mean, are they not male as well?
so, they all reacted the same. does that make them pigs, or is it just how guys are wired and they can’t help themselves. i’d give them the benefit of the doubt if it wasn’t for them looking at my head first in an obvious attempt to determine if i’d catch them looking or not. i mean, the only reason they’d do that is if they knew it was wrong. but again, wrong in what sense? in the sense that they wouldn’t want to offend the girl being ogled? in the sense that they wouldn’t want to get caught and embarrassed? if it’s something that is almost involuntary, like a sneeze or blinking, why hasn’t it evolved into social norm for guys to look at our boobies without fear of repercussion?
i think it’s just weird that if, to a man, guys can’t help but look at breasts, there is still such a huge taboo associated with it. not that i would agree that that aspect of social interaction should change…

no shutterbug on the run

the past few evenings have had me yearning for some sort of neoprene pouch that i can carry my camera in while running.
tuesday i headed down to the beach for my evening run. i had the sun at my back for the first half of the run, so i didn’t see what was developing behind me. when i reached the turn around spot on the boardwalk, i was greeted by an amazing sunset in action. storm clouds had been moving in across the sea, but the sun was still completely visible on the horizon. as it dipped lower and lower toward the sea, it began painting the bottoms of the clouds with all sorts of reds, pinks and purples. the entire return trip of the run was a wonderful treat in the visual epitome of sunsets. it was funny to see the number of people that had come out of their homes to watch as well. the boardwalk was lined with camera toting folks trying to capture natures beauty.
last night i did a hill workout near my house and as i ran mostly below the ridgelines, the sun was hidden from view. huge cumulonimbus clouds had been moving into the area. only their tops were visible over the hills and with the last light of the sun backlighting them, the sky looked just like a maxfield parrish painting. as the sun began to set and the colours on the clouds started changing, to the north, larger cells of clouds began to dump on the la area. low light, dark clouds, and rich reds and pinks created an otherworldly setting. the stronger cells to the north began letting loose with violent lightening, throwing bright flashes of electric blue light into the mix. nothing is more amazing than huge towering storm cells at sunset; violent red monoliths dropping light enhanced rain on the city below. absolutely amazing.
being a lover of clouds and the depth they give to the sky, i was so disappointed that i didn’t have a camera with me to capture those amazing images. someone please create a neoprene, bounce proof, waterproof camera carrying case and i’ll by stock in your company.

oh deer

this past week was a rest week for training, so decided to head up to whiting ranch wilderness park in foothill ranch and do my sunday long run on the trails back in there. i hit the trailhead at about 7am and i think i was one of the first people out on the trail. the first part of the loop winds up some creek beds (dry this time of year), then climbs up to a ridgeline that affords a great view over south orange county before diving into the oak groves below.
i passed a few mountainbikers on the way up to the ridgeline. towards the top i was feeling spider web trailers between the tress and tall bushes, which is a good indication that you’re the first person on the trail. i crested the ridge and dove down into oak groves below (my favorite part of the loop) and settled into the wonderful solitude. the trail narrows down from fire breaks to single-track as it winds along a creek bed through the trees.
as i came around a blind corner, some noise off to my left startled me. i started a little bit, and quickly realized that there was a deer about 10 feet from me. i said good morning to it and it went about it’s munching. then i saw another, and another, and another. some movement to my right caught my attention and there were a three more. i was zipping right through the middle of a heard that was foraging for breakfast in the fallen oak leaves.
none of them were startled, and they just went about their business. it was such a wonderful and surreal experience. i’m not new to wildlife, but it’s so rare to see it these days in southern california. oh, i see coyote, bunnies and hawks all the time around here, but i can’t remember the last time i saw deer.
when i looped back around to the trailhead, there were still very few vehicles parked there. as i started back up to the ridgeline, i again saw very few people, and once back down in the trees, no one. as i hit the single-track, i started actively looking for the heard again. i didn’t see the large group again, but i spotted a total of 10 spread out through the oak groves. it was such a wonderful treat. deer are such serene and graceful creatures. it was the perfect pastoral setting…quiet oak groves, no sound of the city and deer quietly foraging through the leaves. what a great way to start the day.
i guess it’s true, the early bird does get the wor…erm…deer.

hase, hase, hase

i have a bag of puppets under my desk.
growing up, i learned a fun tradition, actually, more of a game than a tradition. english custom, if i’m not mistaken, was to repeat ‘rabbit’ three times before bed on the last night of each month, and the following morning to great the new month with a triple chant of ‘hare’. well, my father must have modified it a bit, as he taught us to shout ‘hase, hase, hase’ to the sky on the first morning of each month.
well, it became a fun challenge for us kids to be the first one outside on the new month to shout ‘hase’ at the sky. when i moved away from home, it became a new tradition for us, as a family, to call ‘rabbit’ each other at the start of each month. friends would ask what i was doing, as some of the ‘rabbiting’ took on creative forms (crafts, websites, photos), so i began recruiting friends and co-workers to play the game.
flash forward a few years and i’m living in la with a couple roommates. one of them has a niece and a nephew that would come over often. well, i used to spend my saturday mornings going to garage sales (before running consumed my life). each time i would go, i would try to find simple toys for the children. i began also looking for hand puppets for them to play with. one of the puppets i ended up finding was a nice little rabbit puppet.
with that background set, my co-workers at my current contract all quickly took to the ‘rabbit’ game. everyone sets reminders so they don’t forget, and the first day of the month the office is alive with people ‘rabbiting’ each other and generally having a good time. i’ve been ‘rabbited’ several times, but i usually get the better of most folks. not one to be bland in the fashion by which i ‘rabbit’ people, i decided to bring my rabbit puppet to work and use that one month.
the day i decided to bring it, i was running a little late and rather than fish around for the right puppet, i just grabbed the bag that had them all. the rabbit puppet was a huge success in helping me ‘rabbit’ people. when a silly mood strikes me, i’ll often pull out one of the other puppets and annoy some of my co-workers with some silly skit. the puppets have become a fun staple of office life over the past year, and they’ve found more use here in the office than at home with my roommate’s niece and nephew.
that, is the story of how i came to have a bag of puppets under my desk.

i came into the office this morning and my light was on. sitting on my desk was a nice hot mocha from starbucks. now, i’m not usually a coffee drinker. i prefer water to keep me alert (how, you ask? well, the more you drink, the more you have to get up and go pee!). but who am i to turn down a free mocha from starbucks? my rock star (yes, in the real sense of the word – he’s from some 80’s hair band) dba had a great day yesterday and decided to celebrate by buying all of the project team coffee.
so, now i’m wired and taking pictures of the puppets in the bag under my desk. it’s going to be an interesting day…

world famous wafling

yesterday was a bust. i spent the whole day trying to get started on stuff here at the office but just couldn’t get focused. i had a great lunch meeting with the team leads for this project, but my mind was completely distracted by this past weekend and recent events.
i’m not young. i’ve had a couple long relationships in the past, all of which i let drag on longer than they should have. a couple three year relationships with guys that i knew weren’t marriage material will jade a gal toward the better specimens of the males of the species. well, i’ve been dwelling on that quite a bit lately.
what am i looking for? the question has come up casually in conversation with mr. mountainbike, and lesley asked me the same thing on saturday. i honestly didn’t know how to answer her, and she’s one of my closest friends. what AM i looking for? somebody to give me attention and companionship, or am i really looking for a partner; someone to grow old with?
to be honest, the timing with mr. mountainbike couldn’t be more perfect. he popped into my life right when i needed some support. with work being rough, he’s been my own personal cheer squad. he’s listened to me rant about situations here and encouraged me to succeed. the distance between us is hard to handle, but it builds on the emotional relationship and on our communication. again, the timing there is great. with the end of this contract, i’ll be leaving s. california and staying in washington permanently. so, here we are developing this great relationship, learning tons about each other, and in a few weeks, we’ll get to see each other on a regular basis.
but the question is still there. what am i looking for? am i examining mr. mountainbike for husband material? am i investing in this relationship as if he’s ‘the guy’? or am i just infatuated with him because of the attention he showers on me? or am i just making up all these questions because i’m too scared to give up my hard earned independence?
i guess the other question that needs to be asked is what does mr. mountainbike want? i can safely say that he’s not in it for the sex. i think he’d be long gone by now if that was the case. and to be honest, he hasn’t shown himself to be a ‘player’. his interests don’t lend themselves to that sort of lifestyle. so he’s not in it for the pure physical relationship. he has opened up emotionally though. he has been very transparent in his feelings toward me, he has shared personal items with me that a casual friend would not have, and he has been straight with me when we’ve talked about life goals. he hasn’t tried to woo me with all of the ‘right’ answers, but instead, he has shown his values and goals through his actions.
i could spend all day convincing myself that he’s looking for a life with me. i could spend all day convincing myself that he’s the right partner for me. i could spend all day declaring his many wonderful attributes. in the end, the question still has to be asked though. and it’s a hard question to bring up. and it has me scared on a couple levels. one; my independence. honestly, i love being single. two; my friend. if this is too soon to be asking this sort of question, will it scare him off and leave me without the wonderful friend that he has become? and three; i’m chicken. i don’t want to dive into a relationship with the intent of determining whether we’re good enough together to get married, and then end up 3 years later splitting up. it’s happened that way too many times already.
maybe i should just mentally shelve this topic and actually talk with mr. mountainbike about this when we see each other this thanksgiving. whew…it sure did feel good to put that all down though. maybe now i can get some work done. haha…

soggy ghouls and goblins

my halloween mask
mr. mountainbike and i began our epic voyage up the coast friday afternoon. the weather was great when we left orange county, but little did we know of the feline and canine torrent that we would encounter. by the time we hit la, the clouds had thickened, and by the time we were in ventura, the skies had opened.
all your nissan belong to us
the traffic started backing up and we had the opportunity to play tag with another exterra. only i quickly came to the realization that we were in trouble when i spotted the ‘IPWNJOO’ license plate. all i could think of was slywolf from the neener forums and his ‘PWNED by traffic’ title. i couldn’t stop giggling for quite some time. eventually we got to where i could snap a shot of the vehicle. mr. mountainbike kept trying to figure out what the plate said, and i think i did a pretty lame job of trying to explain the origin of being ‘PWNED’ and ‘JOO’. oh well, we can’t all be geeks.
we made it safely to my seattle friend’s place, after a four hour trek up the coast. we had some dinner and then lesley and i decided to take the kids out trick-or-treating while the guys stayed behind and handed out candy. about 30 minutes into our walk, they skies opened up again and the four of us got completely soaked. the kids still wanted to keep going, so with in-adequate umbrellas, we forded the quickly forming rivers in the streets to provide the wee-ones with halloween treats. we finally got to the point where the four of us were so soaked that we had to call the boys to come and pick us up.
the finishline from the beach
the morning came pretty quick and we were welcomed with blue skies and a bright sun. perfect running weather. my race started at 8:00, so kevin decided to drop me down at the start and then come back for lesley and mr. mountainbike, who were going to run the 5k. their race didn’t start until 8:30 or somewhere around there, and i wanted to get down to the start with time to warm up. i put in an easy mile to loosen my muscles up and then spent some time stretching. i felt really good, and taking the breaks this past week because of all the smoke in the air really had my legs feeling fresh.
lesley and i after the race
my race started a little late, but it didn’t affect me much. i felt really good as we started out, and my pace felt strong, but not too fast. the first actual mile marker i saw was at 3 miles, and i checked my time and i was right on pace. i felt great. kevin and the kids met me at mile 6 to hand me a fresh bottle of energy drink. madison gave me the best bottle hand-off of all time. she was such a great little trooper, so intent on not dropping it.
lesley and i after the race
i finished very strong, and right at my target time, taking 4 full minutes off of my last half-marathon. it was the perfect day, with the perfect company and the perfect weather for a personal record. mr. mountainbike didn’t have a fancy sign made up this time, but he had the kids whipped up into a cheering frenzy as i crossed the finish line. hehe. madison rushed up to give me a hug, but immediately grossed out when she found out how sweaty i was. logan, on the other hand, could care less and quickly began imitating me as i poured water over my head to cool down.
mr. mountainbike and i after the race
both lesley and mr. mountainbike turned in their own personal records too. lesley finally got her first sub-30 5k, which was a great cause for celebration. mr. mountainbike hadn’t run a race in a couple years, and he said he’d forgotten just how much fun racing is. i think i’ve given him the racing bug. maybe i can get him to start joining me on more of the shorter races. we headed down the beach after we all cooled down and ate breakfast on the shore. lesley and i had time to chat while the boys took the kids down to the playground.
mr. mountainbike and i after the race
it was the first time that i’d had to actually talk to a good friend about mr. mountainbike. lesley really liked him. he was getting on very well with the kids, and they immediately took to him. he had taken to calling madison, madisonasaurus and logan, loganzilla. this was also the first time that i’d spent a lengthy time with other friends and mr. mountainbike, and it’s not just me that he’s a prince to. he was doing the dishes, helping pick up toys, playing with the kids…ugh…dare i say it…he was being a perfect husband/father. at least, that’s what lesley said. i won’t go there…yet.
we stayed another night with lesley and kevin and headed back down to orange county early this morning. again, we were treated with a beautiful morning, but this time, absolutely no traffic as we drove back. it was tough taking mr. mountainbike back to the airport tonight. i think it will be thanksgiving before we can realistically see each other again.
well, i’m wiped out after the weekend. i think i’ll turn in early in preparation for another wild week at the office.