Saturday, December 27, 2014

You know you're in Wisconsin when (part 3)...

You're visiting family in Milwaukee, and your husband totally mucks up their tv in an attempt to turn it on.

The next morning when you wake up, the remotes look like this: 

Yes, all the "don't touch" buttons are covered in masking tape.  Yes, they apparently have one remote that's sole function is volume control. 

Friday, December 26, 2014

You know you're in Wisconsin when (part 2)...

Your momma makes dessert for you every single night.  I wish I had been taking more pictures.  The first night home, it was a chocolate torte.  This night was panna cotta.  Another night was bread pudding.  Another night was Christmas cookies (well, that was Christmas Eve). 

She's so good to me. Since none of my brothers are up north for Christmas, all our dinners have been awesome vegetarian things. One night was an eggplant arborio casserole, one night was a spinach chickpea curry (vegan!), one night was mushroom gratin over polenta, one night was Moroccan carrot soup (vegan!), one night was a spaghetti casserole, one night was curried tofu with peas (vegan!). 

The sad thing about the panna cotta dessert though was that we ate it all. That I guess is the downside to individual portions of dessert.   She made 4, we ate 4, no leftovers for lunch dessert the next day. Thankfully, there was still chocolate torte...

Hope you had a lovely Christmas (if you celebrate).  Happy, warm, full belly, healthy, heart full of love, surrounded by your favorites. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

This is why we wear pants

Even if you don't think there's a good reason to wear pants, it's very important. 

Even if you are just driving to the gym to run on a treadmill and then driving back home. 

Stuff like this can happen at any time, even when your momma just drove home on this exact same route less than an hour earlier and it was completely clear. 

We got out of the car and tried to move it.  No luck.  We got a few of the larger limbs off the road, but the main trunk was still completely across the road.  We tried to call my mom, but no cell service. 

So we pondered what we should do. Me in no pants, no gloves, no scarf, borrowing hubby's hat. Hubby in pants, gloves, another hat he had in his pocket, the works. 

Fortunately, within half an hour or so (we were actually weighing our options -- get out and walk home (less than a mile probably, but no pants for me), drive back to town and try to load a map on our phones with an alternate route, drive back to town and call the police), a car came from the other direction. He stopped and all three of us tried to move the trunk.

Honestly, I really do think the three of us were stronger than the average 3 people passing that point in the road on a given day, but no. It didn't move at all.

So the guy said he'd go home and get a chainsaw and come back. He was on his way to work. I'm guessing there was an alternate route he could have taken, but being a kind soul, he was true to his word and he was back in about 15 or so minutes.

So he chopped the trunk into about 8 sections that were huge and heavy, but small enough for my husband to lift, drag, push, or roll to the side of the road.

While I sat in the running car and learned a valuable lesson about why we wear pants.   

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

You know you're in Wisconsin when...

You're greeted with signs like this.

Gotta love it! 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Untouchable, Beer Mile IV

Last night was my final race of the year -- another beer mile (the event here is twice a year, once after Boston, and then once after our local marathon). 

I think I can officially say that I am untouchable in terms of women who participate in this event in Dallas.  If it weren't so painful and so fun, I would consider trying to find another local version of it to give myself some more competition.  But with the group that does this event, I really am untouchable. 

I was kind of hoping for a PR, but who am I kidding?  I'm just not in PR shape right now running-wise.  But to compound the situation, we had a rainy day on Wednesday, so the track was pretty sloppy last night.  The upside to a sloppy track was that it was a smaller field competing. 

It was my slowest win yet, another 12 seconds slower than the spring race.  And I was nervous.  As I was finishing up my third beer, the second place woman had just entered the drinking zone. 

Cutting it close...

There is always one guy in this group who finishes way, way, way behind the rest of us.  Last night, after I finished and caught my breath (and high-5'd the male winner), I saw he was heading out for a lap.  I assumed it would be his last, but I wasn't really thinking about it much.  I decided to run with him as a cool-down.  100 meters in he told me it was his third lap and he was struggling.  He actually stopped about halfway through the lap because he wanted to burp, and I was like, well, at least walk and make progress.  I was trying to point him to drier and more solid parts of the track, but it didn't help much.  He finished portions of his final beer (I think he knew they wouldn't DQ him), and then pretty much all of us set out with him on his final lap.  Good times!

Then we all went back to the organizer's house for a small party.  I only stayed until about 10 since I had to get up before 4:00 this morning -- my flight home left DFW at 6:15 AM.  Yikes!  And since I was flying Spirit (which I'd never flown before) and checking a bag, I wanted to be there early. 

Good choice on my part!  The line to drop off a bag was HUGE.  And then security took forever because Spirit apparently doesn't participate in TSA pre-check, so I had to wait in the regular line and take my shoes off -- gross! 

I planned to work the whole flight so I could wrap up early tonight and have extra time with my family, but I was just too tired and I slept the whole way.  Feeling a bit better but looking forward to a solid night's sleep tonight.  Hubby is on the same flight tomorrow, so that will be good.

It feels crazy cold here to me so I think it's going to be a lot of time indoors.  Tomorrow will be a big day of wrapping.  Ugh!  And shopping for the last gift for one person and a majority of a gift for one other person.  I also have to write out and mail all our Italian cards and 4 others.  Unfortunately, I did my shipping yesterday during the day and mistakenly put two cards into the mail with absolutely no address -- just a first and last name.  I meant to look it up but totally spaced.  Wonder how long it will take for them to make their way back to me...

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Taxes Question

I have a "what would you do" question and I need some good advice within the next 10 days.

When we went on vacation this year, we'd been warned in advance about beggars in India.  And we'd been warned that in particular, there are lots of children begging. 

We know enough about that cycle to know that you should never give money to children, so we knew we would avoid doing that.  And we decided we'd do the same thing if we were asked for money by adults.  Our strategy for children and adults who were begging:  say no respectfully, meeting the person's eyes.  And when we got home, we would pick two charities working in India to make donations to.  To help end the cycle of poverty and need. 

As an aside, we actually encountered far fewer people begging than we expected.  And pretty much none aside from at the train stations once we got off the main tourist loop of Delhi-Agra-Jaipur in the north.  But even without having people ask for money, and even with people largely seeming so content and friendly, it was obvious that there is a lot of poverty and need, so we think giving year-end donations is very important to us this year. 

So now it's nearly year end and I've done some research into charities that look like good options.  And now I'm reconsidering my plan, so I need help.

I found 2 perfect charities that look amazing -- one works with children in a city in the north that we visited that seemed to have a lot of need (Jaipur) and one that works in a city in the south that we loved (Goa) that has a particular home they're helping.  So easy, peasy, right?  Just give donations to each of them and it's done.

But in addition to thinking about taxes this time of year, I'm also looking at some of the things we bought in India to give as Christmas gifts to people and I'm remembering how cheap they were compared to what we'd have paid here.  I'm thinking about how a little money can go so far in India.

The company I work for matches donations to 501(c)(3) organizations as long as the donations are big enough.  I can't remember if the threshold per organization is $100 or $250.  Either way, we would be meeting the threshold with our donations to each, so my company will double the donation, and we can help out twice as much. 

But my company match applies only charities with the 501(c)(3) status. 

The charity we found in Jaipur is based in India and the one in Goa is based in the UK.  So we could donate to each of them and that would be it.  Or we could try to pick 2 charities here in the US that work in India and donate the same amount to each of them, and then my company will match it so they'd actually get twice the money. 

I've found a couple 501(c)(3)s that are working on projects in India that seem important but the options for designating money for a specific project means that we would be choosing to support an important project in an area of the country that we didn't visit.  Somewhere I'm sure there is need, but we have no real connection to that city or project. 

What would you do?  Doubly large donations to charities doing important work in places in India that we didn't visit?  Or donations not doubled to overseas charities doing important work in places in India that we feel very connected to? 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Baking done

I know it's been quiet around here lately but as is the case for pretty much all of us, there's just so much to do this time of year! 

I'm not complaining because as always, no one is making me do anything, but wow, it's a lot.  Having a late Thanksgiving this year, and then going out of town for a marathon the following weekend (did I mention that?, yeah, marathon about 8 days ago, not a PR attempt, just 4.25 painful hours of an otherwise fun girls' weekend), then one weekend in town, and now just a few more days before I fly home -- it all adds up to mean that all the usual holiday stuff is not unfolding seamlessly.  Oh, and I have to add on work chaos since we're understaffed right now and the work is really being piled on.

So here's the general holiday status:

Decorating -- 100% done!

Cards -- 60% done.  Have mailed/delivered about half of them, and made a list and set aside photos for the other 50%.  Just have to write, address and mail all of those. 

Baking -- 100% done!  Baked with my neighbor all day Saturday this past weekend and we made 8 different kinds of cookies.  I made cookie plates for 3 holiday parties (1 for me, 1 for hubby, 1 joint), for several co-workers, for another neighbor, and for a bunch of friends. 

Shopping -- 65% done.  TGFAP (Thank Goodness for Amazon Prime).  Guess I know what I'm doing Wednesday night after the social run...  Unfortunately, I still need ideas for a couple people, but I've at least made progress on most of my family.  I need to sit down and make a big list of what I've got for each person, what else is needed and where/when/how I plan on getting what else is needed. 

Wrapping -- 0% done.  Maybe tonight?  It's perhaps my least favorite of these holiday to-dos.  Maybe this year I'll cheat and do gift bags?  But honestly, I love the way pretty wrapped presents look.  Almost all the gifts for my family are being sent to Wisconsin, so I don't have to lug them with me when I go, but that means that I'm going to be stuck spending lots of time wrapping over this coming weekend when I get there. 

Shipping -- 0% done.  I only mail gifts to two of my best friends, my stepson, and one of my brothers.  And I'm done with the shopping for all of them.  But back to that 0% on the wrapping...

So despite that massive list hanging over my head, I managed to have a thoroughly fun weekend featuring a 5k, marathon spectating, and the aforementioned baking.  Plus I went to my Chinese class, Sara's post-marathon and birthday dinner, and all kinds of other good stuff.

I spent the entire 5k warm-up holding this little guy.  I'm not usually big on babies, especially not for more than the initial 5 or so minutes of seeing them, but he was so quiet and alert and non-drooling and non-smelly and smiley and non-hair-pulling that I couldn't resist holding him for the better part of an hour.  He loved watching everything around us. 

And here are the cookie photos, the results of an entire day of baking! 

I also took about 100 pictures at our local marathon on Sunday.  My husband and I walked to a place along the route and watched the parade -- from runner 1 (a half marathoner who we almost thought had cheated by starting early because he was so far out front), to the lead marathon pack, to Sara Hall (who was being paced by Ryan Hall and who was going for an American half-marathon record), to my first friend (not far behind the elites, he was running on the co-ed relay team that won the race, so they were all flying), to my training buddies, to other friends, to pretty much the very end (the people who appeared to be 100% walking).  Then I drove to go see them all again.  I parked near mile 21 and missed the 3:05 pace group, but I was there several minutes before the 3:15 pace group, so I didn't miss many people I knew.  I ran a bit with several friends.  Unfortunately, I was right at the beginning of the suckiest uphill in the entire course, so people seemed kind of disheartened, especially since it was a humid day in the low 60s, so far from ideal weather.  It was fun to see the people who were still trucking along and it was fun to encourage those who seemed to be struggling.

One of my biggest race pet peeves I noticed during my marathon last week -- so many people who came out to cheer who were just standing there, watching and quietly waiting for their family member or friend to come by.  So I vowed not to be like that -- I would cheer and make noise constantly, not just when I saw a friend.  One of my friends said he heard me a mile away!  I hope he was joking, but I will admit that people definitely heard me because many times, I missed a friend's face in the crowd, only to hear that runner call out to me and wave, having seen me and recognized my voice.  It was so much fun!  But part of me understands why so many stand quietly -- it was a lot of work!  Trying to come up with things to yell, and then yelling the same thing again and again and again and again and again and again... 

My faves for my first watch point (mile 7):  Looking strong!  Nice job!  Keep it up!  Doing great!  Way to go!  Less than 20 more miles!  You're doing it! 

My faves for my second watch point (mile 20-21):  Keep it steady!  Keep going!  Keep your head in the game!  Last hill!  Looking strong!  Nice job!  Hold on!  You've got this!  Run, run, run! 

Anyway, a friend I ran with several years ago met up with me and we headed backwards on the course to look for his wife.  Eventually, I wound my way back to one of the beer stops right at mile marker 20, and I waited to find Sara, who was running her first marathon ever. 

Thankfully, I was watching and cheering instead of looking at the clock or the pace groups.  She came through way ahead of schedule.  By then, it was raining steadily, and I jumped in to run with her for a couple miles.  I assumed that would be the best place to meet her since it seems like that's where I (and pretty much 95% of other marathoners) struggle the most.  But she was ticking along, kicking butt!  She was in a great place mentally and running strong.  Within a few minutes, the sky seemed to really open up on us, and it poured.  After dodging some puddles, we eventually had to ford a small river across Abrams -- there was no avoiding it and our shoes got completely soaked.  But at that point, she was already nearly at mile 22 and 5 miles in soaking shoes isn't the end of the world, so she just powered through.  I'll leave it to her to tell her own race story on her blog, but it was one of the highlights of my weekend to get to join her for a bit. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Not Running in NM

So I have come to the conclusion that I don't really run in New Mexico.  I basically jog, stop for photos, jog, then take more photos. 

Seriously, what is it about this place? 

I run with my phone when commuting to/from work in Dallas, but pretty much never for any other local run.  Occasionally, I'll run with my phone in other cities if I'm worried about getting lost.  I have never in my life run with my phone with a plan of taking photos.

But yesterday morning, it was similar to my last NM run -- sunrise behind me that was so spectacular, I had to keep looking back about every 45 seconds, and then stopping about every 2 minutes to take another photo.

I don't know why I bother -- my iphone photos don't do it justice, but I just want to sear it into my memory I guess.

Yesterday morning in Las Cruces:

(Honestly, I took this so I'd also remember that about 75% of the residences I ran past were either RVs or trailer homes, but the sky was pretty too:)

And then after the run, yes, biscuits and gravy (only 2 on this plate):

Where I worked (and it went well, just made for a very long day):

For dinner, I met up with a former co-worker at Chope's, which used to be my favorite restaurant in the Las Cruces area.  Last night, my chile relleno wasn't quite as good as I remembered, but the company was wonderful and we had lots of fun catching up:

Today's plan is to head back to Dallas!  Done with work travel for the year now -- two trips for fun on the books, but nothing more for work! 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Hotel Breakfast

I am in lovely New Mexico again for work.  I'm about to attempt to recreate the most beautiful run of my life this morning, but somehow, I don't think it will be the same, that really was a special day.  I just have to wait for it to be a little bit lighter out since I'm running alone in somewhere pretty unfamiliar and kind of rural (I could run toward the city, but it's much prettier the other direction). 

I find myself travelling to many of the same cities for work.  I'm most often in Philly (or the surrounding area), second most often is New Mexico.  Then it's probably Missoula, Denver and Indy in the running for the next most frequent destinations. 

And between my two most frequent destinations, I have completely opposite but equally appealing breakfast options.

I actually have two hotels I use in Philly -- one in Center City (federal court and Philadelphia County), one in the burbs for when I'm in non-Philadelphia county court.  And I have one hotel I use in New Mexico.

In Philly suburbs, there is no room service, which blows.  I love getting breakfast in my room so that I can eat and drink while I'm getting dressed, watching the news, packing up, etc.  In Philly Center City, I have a great breakfast that I order from room service -- double oatmeal with a side of berries.  Anyway, in the Philly suburbs, I usually eat in the lobby and I often have defense counsel meet me there for breakfast so we can go over the plan and so I don't get lost going where we need to go. 

Well, anyway, in the Philly suburbs, I learned in November that they can actually modify something on the breakfast menu to give me almost exactly what I eat for breakfast at home.

At home, I am in the "green smoothie" routine and I have been for a very long time.  I make mine with spinach (usually kale too, but not always), frozen fruit (I use a medley of strawberries, peaches, mango, pineapple and grapes), frozen beets (they make the color so pretty, and I looooove beets), carrot juice, and soy milk.  Then I add in protein powder if I worked out, chia seeds, and ground flaxseed.  And if I'm super-hungry for some reason, I also have veggie breakfast sausage, but that's only once every couple weeks. 

In the Philly suburbs, they have a strawberry smoothie on the menu, but they also have a spinach omelette.  So last month, I asked if they could put spinach in the strawberry smoothie.  They did!  I was so happy.  It wasn't exactly the same, but close.  They use yogurt, but I wasn't going to complain.  Spinach and strawberries in liquid form was close to perfect for me.  I've already decided that next time I'm there (probably not until January!), I'm going to have a ziplock bag with protein powder, chia seeds and flaxseed, and I'm going to ask them to add that in, and to use soy milk instead of yogurt.  Slow tweeks and eventually, it will be like I'm not even travelling (except my running buddies aren't there). 

But here in New Mexico, it's the complete opposite of my healthy home breakfast.  They have a breakfast buffet with biscuits and gravy.  Vegetarian gravy.  Not even close to the delicious veg gravy that Amy tipped me off to find at Gravy in Portland, but that basic white chunky unhealthy looking gravy that you find at breakfast buffets in the south. 

I don't know why I love it.  I didn't grow up with biscuits and gravy.  We had cream chipped beef on toast on special occasions (my mom's family way, way, way back is British, and I guess that recipe stayed in the family), which is similar I guess.  But for some reason in 2012 maybe (2013?) at this hotel in New Mexico, I asked if it was vegetarian and then tried it.  And ever since I've been hooked. 

After my beautiful run in New Mexico last time, I had two biscuits with gravy that I ate in my room, then I went downstairs to the buffet to meet defense counsel and I had two more!  Seriously, no self control when it comes to them.  Thank goodness they're not anywhere close to Dallas!  But remember, the day of 4 biscuits was a much longer run than it was supposed to be, so I have a partial excuse... 

Today, I'm assuming that I'm going to stick to my run schedule (no extra miles this week, marathon on Sunday!, which is why I can wait a bit longer for it to be light), so I'm going to have to hold myself to a three biscuit maximum.  But honestly, the odds aren't good, especially since I have ZERO future trips to New Mexico on the schedule...

Okay, off to run!  Then biscuits, then mediating my biggest active case...

Saturday, November 29, 2014


Well, I can't say much for UPS in keeping the shipping status current, but no sooner did I fret that our new tree hadn't moved from Buffalo where it was stuck in the storm, than the status was changed to delivered!  So we have a tree after all.  That's a big relief to me since I won't be home with my folks until Dec. 19, and since I probably won't see snow in Dallas before then, having our tree up and decorated is really the main way for me to get into the holiday spirit. 

Thanksgiving was lovely.  Our local Turkey Trot is 8 miles and it's my longest streak race -- this was year number 11 in a row.  Not a PR, but not bad.  I ran about 20 seconds per mile faster than the plan, but the weather was nice and I was running with a friend, so it was great.  And the race itself was a grateful experience -- running in general, Dallas having awesome running weather for a fair amount of the year, a great running community (it's one of the largest trots in the country, something like 35,000 people, counting the 5k), and perhaps most of all, my running friends.  For the first year since my husband and I have been together, we didn't meet up with my buddies before the race.  We just went to the start, but within minutes of getting into the corral, we were with friends.  First, I ran into a guy I ran with about 4 years ago, then one of my original best boot camp buddies (who had actually just gotten off night shift, was going to run the race, then going home to sleep from 11 until 5, then working that night), then more and more friends I love that I've met through running.  The race was more of the same.  Running with one of my buddies, but running into friends along the way, former coworkers, neighbors, everything, so much fun to share some miles (or fractions thereof, as the case may be) with them.  It was a new course this year that didn't highlight the prettiest parts of the city, but the streets were full, there were plenty of costumes, it made me get all teary right in the middle of the race -- I was overwhelmed with a feeling of gratefulness and joy.  I'm a lucky girl and I know it. 

I've said it before, and in some ways it scares me -- I feel like life is so good it's just a matter of time before some shoe drops.  I suppose that's true actually, there is going to be a bump in the road.  It's hard to guess what it will be.  But I have to just enjoy this ride while it lasts.  Healthy, so in love, about to go visit my family next month, surrounded by friends who mean so much to me, a job I love, an amazing year wrapping up, all the material comforts I want, getting to see the world.  It just doesn't seem like it could get any better. 

After the trot, we came home to cook.  Our Thanksgiving contributions were mashed potatoes, olives and pickles, canned cranberry sauce, acorn squash halves filled with peas, rolls, and a dessert -- cranberry squares.  We had our big meal at my friend and her husband's house (he is my ex-boss).  One of his sons was there as well (just turned 16).  They made turkey (she's a vegetarian too, but neither of our husbands are), gravy, stuffing (in the bird and separate veggie stuffing for us), green bean casserole, glazed carrots, homemade cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. 

The food was all amazing.  The downside to having been back from vacation for nearly a month is that our stomachs have returned to normal size and I wasn't able to eat nearly as much as I wanted.  I basically had a single plate full -- but it was very full.  And then two desserts.  We'd also had big bowls of greek yogurt with granola and blueberries after the race (plus a granola bar before and an orange in the car on the way home).  But then we had the big meal at about 3 and didn't eat again.  I was still full when we went to bed! 

In retrospect, it was funny because they really wanted to see our pictures from India and Nepal and Dubai so after we ate, we plugged the laptop into their tv and they looked at the pictures.  And they were both falling asleep.  It was like torture I bet -- here, look at 1,500 photos of India with an uncomfortably full belly and try to stay awake.  For us, it was kind of fun because it was the first time we'd really looked at the photos other than to pick out our Christmas card enclosure photos.  But they asked for it!  So we spent post-dinner looking at photos, sitting around talking, and then cleaning up the kitchen and packing up leftovers. 

Then Friday was spent primarily putting up the tree, and trimming it while listening to Christmas music.  Unfortunately for my husband, when we listen to our Christmas mix CDs, then it gets to be time to put on New Kids on the Block Christmas CD.  Oh, he hates it as much as I love it! 

I know CDs are so retro, but Christmas seems to be the only time I listen to them instead of digital music.

Anyway, as to the tree, I'm so glad we got it done.  We also ate two huge plates of leftovers, one of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving.  I think we each have enough for about 2-3 more plates, then it will all be gone. 

Our new tree was 6 inches taller than our old one, and I think we could have gone up another 6 inches, but it seems to fit pretty well.  Sorry for the iphone pic, but here it is: 

The plan for the rest of the weekend is to go for my "last" "long" run in a little while, write out our cards (at least half of which I've already addressed!) today, come up with a baking list for cookies, see a movie (hubby wants to see Foxcatcher) and get organized -- put away decoration remnants and pick up in general.   Then tomorrow will be a shorter run, breakfast with some friends, some online shopping, Chinese class, and packing -- flying out for work on Monday! So much better than having to travel on Sunday and having it cut into my weekend.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


Since my last two posts have been Powerless and Treeless, I figured I'd continue the "less" theme based on last night -- restless.

We watched the news last night to hear the grand jury's finding in Ferguson, and we both woke up around 1:00 and decided to turn on the news just for a minute (which I don't think we've EVER done in the middle of the night) to see what was going on.  General concerns about mass chaos I guess, though neither of us really thought that was likely. 

I can't say I disagree with the grand jury's finding.  Of course they are in the best position decide having heard all the evidence, rather than reports of it, which is all I've heard.  For me, hearing about the blood evidence inside the car was most convincing -- that to me meant that Brown was in a position to threaten the officer and not shot from a distance when arguably less lethal tactics should have been considered first.  Of course it's tragic, and it should not have happened, and there are so many better ways it all could have unfolded, but it's very hard to judge the split-second decisions of people in distress.  And now the stories about crime, protest, looting, and fires seem to take away from what I feel like is the real point, which to me is racial inequality in the criminal justice system in this country.  In many ways I understand why this is such a tipping point, it's a big problem and obviously a segment of the population feels victimized. 

Setting aside the actual events in Ferguson, the fact is that the US prison population has a very different racial composition from the country as a whole.  And there's no particular moment or opportunity when people are motivated to really think about that, discuss it, or protest it.  So this grand jury finding seems to be as good an excuse as any to demonstrate that feeling of victimization. 

The incarcerated population is so different from the actual population, and I have to ask...

Why?  What makes the racial composition so different?  Is it actual differing levels of criminal activity (and if so, why?), or is it differing levels of enforcement and then processing through the criminal justice system that creates the disparity (and if so, what part of that system?)?  Pre-police contact or post-police contact that creates this racial discrepancy among the incarcerated? 

Is it the police and enforcement?  Targeting areas where minorities live in higher proportion?  Subjecting minorities to higher scrutiny in a true race-blind encounter (responding to a call, or a motor vehicle accident, or whatever)? 

Courts?  Mandatory minimums or federal sentencing guidelines?

DAs charging differently or allowing pleas? 


Or is it more on the pre-police end?


Discrimination in employment opportunities?

Something else?

It's not something I've ever really looked into (pretty much all my "free" research time is spent on WWII), but is there good data about whether it's as much a class/economic disparity as it is a racial disparity in prison?  I know there's tons of overlap of course, but do non-minority poorer people have the same issues, or is it really race at the core? 

As to education, I think (my opinion only) that is equally awful without regard to race -- it's more the economics of the area, district, school, etc.  And I think there is a higher police presence in any economically disadvantaged neighborhood -- regardless of the racial composition of that neighborhood.  Higher police presence yields more police contacts, more arrests, more people with criminal histories, etc. 

I don't think there's any real belief that our society is actually color-blind.  I've never had a non-traffic encounter with the police other than calling for assistance (always promptly dispatched, though when you call 911 in Dallas (which I've done numerous times, largely to report accidents I've witnessed, you frequently have to hold before getting an operator)) or making reports as a crime victim (in Italy for a "legit" crime, and here in Dallas a couple times for property crimes (being in a hit and run, someone breaking into my car (though, the top was down at the time, so less breaking, more entering)).  In all my police encounters (I don't count airport checkpoint screenings as a police encounter), I've never had to step out of the vehicle or been searched. 

Is that partially related to my sex as a woman?  My age (though I had more tickets and traffic stops in my teens and 20s than in my 30s)?  Where I drive (I'm generally within a 5 mile radius of our house)?  My perceived socio-economic class?  The fact that I drive a fairly nice car -- even though it's older now?  Interestingly enough, I was stopped in Dallas more in 1 year in my old crappy car than in about 4 years in my beemer when it was new and I definitely drove it more quickly than my Olds, but that could be a factor of where I was driving, or whatever.  Or is it because of my race? 

Thoughts or any of it? 

Monday, November 24, 2014


I had grand plans of putting up our new artificial Christmas tree this past weekend.  We usually put it up the day after Thanksgiving, but I had decided last weekend was best. 

I had a million good reasons to do it in my mind, but the primary one is that I thought it should go up early since we have so little time to enjoy it this year.  I have to travel for work next week, and the first weekend of December I'm out of town for a race in San Antonio that I always do with my girlfriends, the following weekend we'll be home (baking cookies, cheering for our local marathon), and by the next weekend (and the following), we'd be home with my family for Christmas. 

So really, it made sense to put it up early.  And this year, we have a new tree.  Last year, a bunch of the strands of lights stopped working on our old tree.  I'd had it for more than a decade probably and I didn't want to deal with taking off the pre-strung lights and hanging our own, so instead, right after Christmas, we donated it. 

And then I spent TONS of time researching trees on Amazon, narrowing it first by height, then by width, then by light count, then by tip count, then by warranty, then by weight, then by price.  And I clicked "buy". 

But then that whole Buffalo snow storm thing happened.  Unfortunately, it turns out that's where our tree was born (or at least shipped from China). 

Here's the current status:

11/20/2014 11:45 P.M. We were unable to dispatch the trailer on time. This may cause a delay. / Delivery will be rescheduled.
Buffalo, NY, United States 11/18/2014 12:28 A.M. Departure Scan
Buffalo, NY, United States 11/17/2014 6:06 P.M. Origin Scan
United States 11/17/2014 10:27 A.M. Order Processed: Ready for UPS

And now I'm worried we won't have a tree at all this year! 

Since there seems to be no chance we'll have it over the long Thanksgiving weekend, and since I'm not sure we could manage putting it up on a weeknight, and since our one weekend in Dallas in December is chock-full of plans, I'm worried we won't have a tree at all.  That makes me sad! 

It was fairly expensive, and I'm pretty dead-set on the criteria by which I picked it, so I don't like the idea of ordering or buying a new one.  And since we're gone for more than a week to visit my family, a live tree is not an option.  Major bummer. 

And now I wonder, does the warranty run from when I ordered it (and paid for it), or from when I actually get it? 

Friday, November 21, 2014


I woke up to an upset stomach today and concluded on the drive to boot camp that I think it's in my head.  Yesterday I spent hourS on the phone (which I never do) with one of my favorite people in the world, a friend I first met in law school.  She lives halfway across the country and the best way to describe her current status is distress.  She's so unhappy and I want more than anything to be able to fix it somehow.  It hurts my heart to know how sad she is.  She's already been through a lot in terms of a divorce, a move, the death of a parent, fertility struggles, the serious illness of her other parent (who didn't take care of herself well as she dealt with her husband's illness), one of the most stressful jobs in this country (complete with being assailed on various "news" networks), the death of both of her dogs within a couple years of each other, a stress fracture, and now, a supportive partner who is AWOL due to his own insane work.  God never gives you more than you can handle, right?  Actually, I don't buy that -- sadly, some people decide they can't handle it.  I'm not worried about her in that regard, but I wish so much I could make it better.  I'm hoping that I can manage a visit to see her in January, but that's a long time away.  I'm at a loss.  I wish I had Inspector Gadget arms and I could just stretch them out and give her the biggest hug ever. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014


I don't know what it is lately, but I cannot get into my running groove.  I've tried all my usual "hurry it up" tactics -- running with friends who are faster, going to the track, fartleks on the road, attempting to pick it up on the downhills -- and it's just not working.

I even added my running commute back into the mix this week for the first time in ages, and I just get out there and jog.

I was actually planning to do the running commute yesterday, but I had a flat tire on my car before boot camp, and then I decided I wasn't comfortable being car-less until Friday (when I work from home anyway and could have the tire change guy come do it) (and yes, I realize I'm loser for not being able to change my own tire, but part of the problem is that my car has very small jack points and I think my jack is bent so I'm very afraid of attempting to jack it up and having it crash down).  So I made my husband come back to pick me up to go to boot camp together (he was already almost there and was planning to go straight to work afterward), then I got a ride to the office with my neighbor and grabbed my laptop to bring it back home.  I worked from home in the morning and got my tire changed.  But in the end, he didn't see anything wrong with my tire -- he said it's still so new that it has the whiskers, whatever that means, and that he didn't see a nail or split or anything else, so he just put air in it and put it back on the car.  So I drove to work, worked, and then ran home. 

This morning I got up to meet my friends at the track and just went there on foot.  I made the decision last night that I'd go straight from the track to work. 

It kind of sucks to not get to go back home after my workout to watch the news and drink my smoothie and my coffee before running to work, but I just felt so lazy.  The track is right on my way to work.  So I would have had to run 1.5 miles north, do the track workout, run 1.5 miles home, then run 3.75 miles north to get to work.  So I wore my running belt (with my phone, work access card, house key and credit card) to the track, left it trackside during the workout, then put it back on and continued north to the office.  I ended up with just over 8 miles for the morning since the track workout wasn't really very long. 

And here I sit, at my desk before 7!  Still in workout clothes, freezing, about to head down to the gym to get ready for the day...

Blah post, but still feeling very blah...

Monday, November 17, 2014

Solo life for a night

My husband is almost never out of town for work overnight, but he left yesterday for Houston, so it meant a big night to myself. 

I got caught in this on the way home from Chinese class:

(I'm parked on the bridge, waiting for the mess below to open a lane so traffic on the highway could start moving again.  No escape on the bridge.  Good thing I had an audio book...)

Then I got my neighbor to walk with me to Lululemon to get a new pair of shorts I had been pondering for a couple weeks and concluded I really wanted.

Run: Speed Short*SE Reflective

(Not me, obviously, but now I'm concerned because I realized today the shorts aren't lined.  Ugh.  Nice for wearing over tights, but I don't wear tights often in Dallas!)

Then I came home and scavenged for dinner. I have no idea why. I'm an adult, I can make dinner for myself. But there was something fun about grazing. I think I had 3 tortillas, a piece of string cheese, a bit of couscous salad, and some ice cream. I never have dinners like that when we're eating together.

Then I stayed up too late watching TV and had the whole bed to myself.

I wouldn't love it if that were everyday life, but sometimes alone time at home feels like a little party. Hard to describe.

The rest of the weekend was uneventful. We did some much-needed house cleaning on Saturday. Our second floor is probably the cleanest it's ever been. Sunday I did my long run, but I mixed in a small race for a good cause. I was attempting to treat it as part of my long run, so I had a couple warm-up miles, the race, then a couple cool-down miles. I wanted to run with a pace group to make sure I didn't end up going too fast but within about a tenth of a mile, I knew that was not an option. One of the two pacers had the loudest and most irritating way of exhaling. I tried to tell myself that maybe she had some big story about how she used to smoke and had a double lung transplant and had to blow out really loudly. Or maybe she gets really nervous about races even when she's pacing and almost hyperventilates and so has to blow out really loudly for the first half mile to calm down. But I just couldn't stand it, so I pulled ahead of the pace group by just a minute or two, and just stayed there. I met a few interesting people. One woman was wearing a STG shirt from the same year I did it, so we talked about that race for a while. It was her first BQ, so we got to talking about other races. She ran Berlin this past year and we've both done a lot of the same ones. She still has to do NY and Tokyo in the majors, I still have to do London and Tokyo.

After the race, I had some pancakes but it was just so cold out. My phone said it was 39, but with the rain and drizzle that had been happening all morning, I was soaking wet and never thought I'd get warm again.

My solution was to take a very hot shower for about an hour, with the heat in the bedroom cranked up to 85 degrees, and while my husband was in the bedroom packing for his trip, I whined enough about my innards being cold that he went downstairs and heated up my coffee and delivered it to me. Aww, now I really miss him. Forget all that stuff I said about a solo night being nice...

But that whole concern about never being warm again?  Totally legit:
Yes, it looks like it will get better, but I might be frozen under the tundra by then. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Track Luxury in the Cold

It is crazy cold in Dallas right now.  Yesterday morning was 32, but wind chill of 20.  In November.  In a typical year, it will that cold about 5-10 mornings ever. 

But I managed to get myself out for a run anyway because the absolute best part about the track is being there in the winter.  You can wear 5,000 layers of clothes to get you out the door and onto the track, and then you can shed your layers as necessary and they're all right there when you're done.

I decided to wear my warmest pair of running pants/tights.  On top, I went with a bra (obvs), a short sleeve shirt, a long sleeved shirt, and an Adidas (Boston) jacket.  Plus gloves and an earband.  I figured I'd ditch the jacket during the workout.

As with the first few cold weather runs every season, I feel like I have to relearn what to wear. 

I think yesterday's outfit was too much.  It was cold and windy enough that I couldn't ditch the jacket, so instead, I should have just done long sleeves and the jacket, and skipped the bottom layer.

Live and learn.

Maybe I couldn't ditch the jacket because I was running so slowly.  We had a ladder -- 200 (200), 400 (200), 600 (200), 800 (200), 800 (200), 600 (200), 400 (200), 200 (200), and about 1.5 warm up and the same cool-down.  My paces were pathetic, but actually, I was just happy I did it. 

Between March and November, there will usually be about 5 mornings where I consider staying in bed and skipping a workout (note, I'm not counting the weeks after a marathon or anything, I just mean days when I have a scheduled workout and consider not doing it at all).  And maybe 1 morning when I do it.  I seriously just don't.  It's too much of a slippery slope when I start skipping, and I run with friends so showing up is part of the deal.  But when it's cold, it's like it's an internal battle to get out there EVERY SINGLE DAY. 

And lately, feeling out of shape, dreading my next marathon (even though it's totally for fun), I just have no desire to complete the scheduled workout.  When we last went to the track, I totally just did my own thing, which was much easier than the plan. 

Yesterday, I ran the plan in terms of distance.  I'm still out of shape and so my paces weren't even close to where they should be, but I've run long enough to know that you get a lot from the workout, even if the paces are wrong.  Doing the workouts consistently is what helps the paces eventually get where they need to be.  So if I give in to my inner sloth as I've been doing the last couple weeks (well, technically more than a month, but I planned to run very little while on vacation), it's never going to get any better.  And since I'm not hitting the paces, it means I'm basically running behind my friends and it's way too easy to say, well, I'll just skip the 600 and go straight to the 400.  But I didn't.  And that was enough to make me feel pretty good about yesterday's workout.

Baby steps.

And while the weather people are talking about SNOW (well, now they're conceding flurries at most, they just use the S-word to get ratings), they're saying it will be back in the 60s (which is normal in November) by the end of next week, instead of our current highs in the 30s and 40s.  Then perhaps it won't be such a battle to get out there, and I can focus the battle effort on pushing harder. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014


The initial rush of coming back from vacation and telling everyone about it has faded. 

Dealing with all the pressing work emails has ended, and now I'm just left wading through the crap that remains (about 85 unread messages right now). 

The weather is insanely cold (we've been in the 30s, which is usually as cold as it ever gets here and that is rare and shouldn't be happening in November). 

I haven't wanted to go running at all because of the cold, which doesn't bode well for my "fun run" coming up in a few weeks in San Antonio, or for either of the races on my calendar before then, both of which I had originally intended to race. 

I'm feeling very blah.

Oh, did I mention I had to work in Philly earlier this week?  It totally sucked because I had to fly up there on Sunday, cutting into my weekend, and (mostly) it sucked because we got hammered.  I had told my husband I'd be back Monday night if it went very well or if it went very badly.  It was the latter.

I felt like crying.  Defense counsel and I were both blown away, expecting a very good result.  We did a bit of investigation after the fact and have a pretty good explanation of where things went wrong, but it was still disheartening.

My husband tried to comfort me when I got home by saying that I'd kicked butt on so many work trips lately that I was bound to have a loser.  He had a point, but it still sucked.  Fortunately, it wasn't a huge case, so I'm happy to get the beating out of the way now to hopefully get back on a good streak before we mediate one of my largest cases right after Thanksgiving. 

The big bright spot of the travel was, oddly enough, a flight attendant in coach.  For the first time in recent memory, maybe the first time in my life, I wrote a message about the outstanding customer service I received to a big company that I have no relationship with (I send messages all the time when I deal with someone professionally who does a great job). 

Anyway, she seemed to love her job, she was having so much fun, finding out the stories of all different people on the plane.  Sometimes when I'm in a place, like a plane, or a restaurant (particularly abroad), when I ponder it, I become insanely curious about the people around me.  What are their stories?  What makes them smile the most lately?  What do they do for fun?  What do they do for work?  Do they like their job?  What are their biggest concerns?  What are they looking forward to?  What are their relationships like?  Why are they where they are (the same place as me)? 

I am NEVER one to talk to people on planes.  Occasionally a few pleasantries when seated, but it's pretty much a 3 sentence maximum.  And of course comments on an in-flight event (turbulence, crying baby, spilled drink, whatever) is fine.  But I usually work on flights and I like to be as productive as possible (I actually work even on "fun" trips because planes seem to boost my productivity, the uninterrupted hours let me plow through huge stacks of records that would otherwise take twice as long). 

But on this flight, I can tell you lots of things about the people who were sitting near me because this flight attendant talked to everyone.  One woman bought her plane ticket that morning!  Her daughter was about to have her first baby in Dallas.  The guy next to me used to work for Racetrack and lived in Dallas for a while, and he has 4 kids (saw their picture).  Another woman talked about her 93 year old mother who still lives independently.  One woman came from Dublin that morning.  It was so weird that she elicited all that info, but she had such a fun personality and honestly, seemed to actually like her job (which is fairly uncommon in general, but it seems to be particularly rare for flight attendants on legacy carriers). 

A lot of rambling to say I'm suffering from the post-vacation blues.  We've started planning the next big trip (and the next couple little trips), but that's not enough to get me over it right now.  Sigh.  Life just seems so ho-hum when I'm not with my buddy 24-7 soaking up experiences that are crazy fun, crazy odd, crazy interesting, crazy whatever.  Instead I'm just getting my butt kicked with totally unreasonable numbers...

Friday, November 7, 2014

Back in the Swing of Things

Well, we've been back from India for just over a week and I think I can finally say that I'm back in the swing of things.  Jet lag is gone, some level of fitness is slowly returning, my henna tattoo has faded, and we're back into our routine for the most part.

While on vacation, I managed to miss two of our three annual audits, which my boss hated, and the final one wrapped up yesterday, so I will promise more vacay details next week (for anyone who cares; the one word version is that it was amazing). 

For now, some fun beer mile record news, if you haven't already seen it:

For the record, in my own beer mile feats of strength, I have ALWAYS held the empty can upside down over my head to demonstrate all contents were ingested.  But yeah, 6:28 is waaaaay out of my league. 

Full text of the article:

44-Year-Old Mother of Six Shatters Beer Mile World Record

Chris Kimbrough runs four laps, drinks four beers in 6:28.6.

November 5, 2014

On Sunday afternoon, Chris Kimbrough, a 44-year-old mother of six, shattered the women’s beer mile world record by 13 seconds, running 6:28.6 in her first attempt at the event. The previous record was held by Seanna Robinson, who ran 6:42.0 in 1997.
Beer mile records are not recognized by USATF or the IAAF, of course, but they are tracked at, where a list of widely used rules can be found. The general idea is that competitors drink a beer, run a lap, and repeat the sequence three times.
The beer mile originated in Canada in 1989, and for a while, was mostly run by college-aged males looking for some fun. But with several high-profile record attempts in recent years, combined with Flocasts putting on its first Beer Mile World Championship in Austin, Texas, on December 3, the event has become more popular than ever.
Indeed, it was the announcement of the World Championship that eventually led Kimbrough, who lives in Austin, to the event. Over the summer, members of the Rogue Racing Team, which Kimbrough trains with, were discussing it and encouraged her to give it a try.
As the owner of several masters national championships and one of the best local runners of any age, Kimbrough knew she had the speed. She hasn’t done a lot of track racing, but she estimates that she could run about 5:00 in a beer-free mile right now. When she heard that she was being considered for inclusion in the beer mile field, she decided she had to see what she would be getting into.
What was meant to be a low-key testing of the waters turned into something much bigger.
“A friend of mine videotaped it,” Kimbrough told Runner’s World Newswire. “I didn’t want it to be a public thing [laughs], and then it ended up being a public thing. I really didn’t think I could do it. That’s a lot of beer in six minutes!”

Chris Kimbrough with friend Andy Bitner after a 0.5K "Micro Marathon." Photo courtesy of Chris Kimbrough.
As she looks ahead to the World Championship, Kimbrough knows that drinking is the area where she has the greatest chance for improvement. While the men’s world record holder, James Nielsen, spent approximately 30 seconds drinking his beers, Kimbrough took roughly 72 seconds to drink hers.
In Nielsen’s video of his run, it’s clear that he put significant planning into his record attempt. He trained his stomach to expand to handle large amounts of carbon dioxide, and gave thought to details such as the angle at which he held his head while drinking his beers to maximize his speed.
Kimbrough, in contrast, has not yet put as much thought into how to maximize her beer mile performances. She did make sure to drink room-temperature (actually, garage-temperature) beer because it goes down quicker, and said she did read the rules in advance, but that was about the extent of it.
It’s evident that, as with any competitive person trying to excel at something, the wheels are already turning as she looks ahead. “If I could break 6:00, now that would be good,” she says.
“The run part wasn’t that hard for me. The last two [beers] were harder to get down because I felt like there was this air there, so it wasn’t going down. Having all those beers in [my] stomach didn’t really bother me as much as I thought it would. I think learning how to get the burp out more before you get to that next beer would probably help,” she mused.
But at the same time, she says, “I have six kids. It’s not like I’m going to be doing a lot of practicing.”
She also admits that she might benefit from going into her next record attempt better rested. The morning of her record, Kimbrough ran 11 miles. Including her warm-up, she was on her 13th mile of the day by the time of her record performance.
Kimbrough says it’s the carbonation, not the alcohol, that is the hardest to deal with. She notes that she didn’t feel the alcohol until after she finished her run, at which point she went for a long walk with her husband, the man holding the beers for her in the video above.
“Over the next 10 minutes, my friend said I was very funny,” said Kimbrough. “I definitely needed to go walk around for a while.”
Beer Mile contestants can drink almost any type of beer, but it must be at least 5.0 percent alcohol by volume. Kimbrough drank Alteration Ale, made by the local brewery Hops and Grain, because it’s one she enjoys; it has 5.1 percent alcohol. Nielsen, on the other hand, chose Budweiser because of its lower carbon dioxide content.
As a stay-at-home mother of six kids, Kimbrough says of her training, “I kind of fit it in the cracks,” estimating that she runs 45-55 miles per week. Her children—five girls, one boy—range in age from 17 months to 16 years. She’ll begin massage school next week, which will add another factor to the equation.
Kimbrough didn’t take up running competitively until she was in her 30s, after she had four kids. She had been a point guard for Rocky Mountain College’s basketball team, but did not have a running background. She began cycling, then moved to triathlons before focusing on running.
In early 2006, she began working with elite masters runner and coach Carmen Ayala-Troncoso, who helped Kimbrough take her running to the next level. Kimbrough qualified for the Olympic Marathon Trials in 2007 and finished 39th in the 2008 Trials, running 2:42:54.

Chris Kimbrough runs in the 2008 Olympic Marathon Trials. Photo by Alison Wade.
Ayala-Troncoso still coaches Kimbrough, who said, laughing, “I made sure that I told her I did [the beer mile] before it went viral.”
Kimbrough will turn 45 next week, but says, “I’m still trying to hit some of the times that I used to hit. Maybe it’s the breaks I’ve taken and the not running early [in life] that I still have some longevity.”
Kimbrough’s recent race results include a 17:02 5K, a 35:56 10K, and a 59:54 10 miler. She bounced back quickly after her last pregnancy, having her 17-month-old daughter in May of 2013, and running 1:03:46 for 10 miles about five months later.
“After having six, you kind of know what your body’s doing…It [isn’t] hard to come back when you exercise a lot during the pregnancy,” said Kimbrough.
Aside from the upcoming Beer Mile World Championship, Kimbrough also has her sights set on the USATF National Club Cross Country Championship in December, as well as future masters national championships.
She’s not sure if she’ll do any training or time trials involving beer as she prepares for next month’s Beer Mile World Championship, but says, laughing, “I don’t know. If I do it, I’m going to maybe keep it secret.”

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Europe Recap: Amsterdam

Continuing tradition, while we are on vacation this year, I'm sharing some photos and details from last year's trip. Last year, you got to see China while we were in Europe. This year, you get to see Europe while we are in India! 

Actually, we should be back by now, but I figured I wanted to finish the 2013 trip posts, and I expect to have a lot of work-related digging out to do! 

A bit of an afterthought to our trip was a final night in Amsterdam.  We only went there for logistical reasons -- we could fly from Venice to Amsterdam, stay there for about 20 hours, and then catch a direct flight back to Dallas.  We're doing something similar this year -- ending the trip with some time in Dubai just because it scores us a direct flight home, which is something we've found we really appreciate.  The year we went to Russia (2010), at the end of the trip, we flew from Moscow to Stockholm, spent the night in Stockholm with friends, then flew Stockholm to Copenhagen, changed planes, Copenhagen to Chicago, and were supposed to go Chicago to Dallas.  But Chicago was having weather issues and everything was canceled.  That made for a very long trip home.  We didn't want to spend the money on a hotel in Chicago (Moscow had been SO expensive), so we crashed at my brothers' place (they were both out of town on separate trips with their now wives) for a night before finally making it back to Dallas.  That trip was so painful for us that now we do whatever we can to get a direct flight home.

In 2013, that meant a big stopover in Amsterdam.  And somehow in the planning, I decided that I wanted to try pot while we were there.  My husband wouldn't (but for the record, he had done it before, I never had).  That was not quite as exciting as somehow I thought it would be (probably because I don't really know how to inhale or smoke), but the rest of Amsterdam was awesome. 

Loved the bikes, and we had an awesome Nepalese dinner (another tradition, trying to eat something indicative of our next year's trip on the current trip) (note, this is pretty easy, since we go to Italy every other year, and you can always find Italian food). 

We rented a little studio apartment in Amsterdam, figuring it would be a nice change from hotels, and they gave us CIA-esque instructions on where to get the apartment key.  It was stashed in a little lock box among a ton of bikes. 

For dessert, we went to a waffle place, which was so unusual.  I got caramels, berries and ice cream on mine.  So delicious!

And then an airport breakfast -- donut and espresso -- before our flight back to Dallas:

There you have it, 2013's trip in about 15 posts! 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Europe Recap: Venetian Food

Continuing tradition, while we are on vacation this year, I'm sharing some photos and details from last year's trip. Last year, you got to see China while we were in Europe. This year, you get to see Europe while we are in India! 

Since it was toward the end of our trip and our stomachs had been sufficiently stretched by my husband's family in Lamezia, we ate a TON of food in Venice.  Sadly, much of it was not very impressive, but we have fairly high standards for Italian food (did you see my earlier post about how we ate in Lamezia?). 

My husband's favorite meal is pizza, fries, beer and gelato -- actually what we had for our rehearsal dinner in Pizzo, and now what we have every year at our annual rehearsal dinner celebration dinner party, where we invite all our Dallas friends who came to Italy for our wedding. 

Anyway, his favorite meal was our first dinner in Venice, and probably one of the best meals we had there: 

For dessert, cheeeeeese!!!

We also had pizza and fries as a meal one day near the Grand Canal, by far one of the worst meals I've had in Italy in my entire life.  And pricey (for pizza) to boot.  Bah to tourists! 

Having spent about a week with my husband's family, we were thorougly in the habit of having full meals every day.  That means a pasta dish, a secondo, and a salad.  So we definitely ran up some expensive meals in Venice, I think many tourists don't eat a full Italian style meal, so in addition to being expensive, it was also a lot of food.  Good thing our stomachs were already stretched and perhaps at peak capacity in my entire life! 

For this meal, I went with gnocchi in a cheese-cream sauce (see why I gained weight??!!): 

Salads (sorry the pics are out of order):

And my secondo was a plate of grilled vegetables, with polenta as a contorno:

And of course there was a little stroll and then some gelato...

Monday, November 3, 2014

Europe Recap: Venezia

Continuing tradition, while we are on vacation this year, I'm sharing some photos and details from last year's trip. Last year, you got to see China while we were in Europe. This year, you get to see Europe while we are in India! 

Venice was our "together" part of the vacation.  When we were in Berlin, a bunch of my friends and running buddies were there too.  In Munich, we were with my bestie and her family, as well as my friend from high school.  In Lamezia, we were with my husband's family.  So Venice was finally a place for just the two of us.

Our hotel was fairly miserable.  It would have been lovely if the air conditioning had been on, but it was not and they would not (claimed they could not) turn it on for the entire hotel.  So we were stuck sleeping with open windows, which meant it was impossible to sleep because there would be the high-pitched whine of mosquitoes in your ear about every 3 minutes, or you could shut the window, and then it was so hot.  My advice:  Don't stay at the Hotel Colombina in October. 

But there was nothing that could take away from the lovely days we had in Venice: 

An ambulance boat:

This yacht was docked in the Grand Canal.  The name:  My Trust Fund.  Wouldn't that be nice!

The Doge's Palace:

Looking down toward the Bridge of Sighs:

Cattedrale di San Marco:

Saint Mark's Square:

The procurate:

The Doge's Palace:


More from St. Mark's Square in Venice:

Masks for sale:

Inside San Marco:

Standing water on the floor of the church on one side:

Views of Venice from the Bell Tower:

A shirt for Bella:

Inside another church:

Marzipan concoctions:

I don't know why this guy isn't more famous, as you'll see in the picture below, he apparently lived to be 200!

The Grand Canal:

Inside another church:

The Grand Canal at sunset was probably one of our favorite half hours of the trip.  Pictures taken from the Ponte Realto:

La Fenice opera house:

The Ponte Realto:

More Doge's Palace:

On our gondola ride, the first one of my life!!!!

Going under low bridges:

Our gondolier:

Ponte Realto as seen from our gondola:

The former prison:

My favorite photo of the entire trip?  Heading out into the Grand Canal right at sunset:

Going under the Bridge of Sighs:

Venice was remarkable.  I'd been there multiple times (first in college, and most recently before this trip in about 2000 for a friend's wedding).  Going someplace amazing with the love of your life is wonderful, even if it's somewhere that you've been before.  But I generally like seeing new things and sometimes a later visit to a city won't measure up to the first in some way or another.  You can never recreate your first impression formed on your first visit to a city.  So many places in this world are equally wonderful if explored on your own, with friends, with your parents, or with a love, but Venice is one place I can unequivocally say I found to be infinitely more wonderful when visited while in love. 

My husband in general isn't big on cities in Northern Italy.  He's Calabrian at heart to be sure.  But he agreed that Venice has a certain magic.  As far a cities go, we both prefer Rome, but experiencing Venice together is something we'll never forget!