I associate the month of April with grief. The first few weeks are bookended with the anniversaries of two tragic events that occurred while I was studying at IU, though neither involved anyone I was intimately close to. The first is on April 7, the day that Madeline (Maddie) Spohr died in 2009. Her parents are friends of my brother and his wife – Maddie’s dad, Mike, and my brother were friends in college and each was best man for the other at their respective weddings. Maddie was born premature and with many health complications to come, the result of under-developed lungs, if I understand it correctly. During her short life, I followed her parents’ blogs about her story and their experiences raising her, from the NICU to their home. Maddie’s passing was tragic. I consider it a privilege to read Mike and Heather’s accounts of their experience with grief and the process of raising two more adorable and hilarious children.
Heather and Mike started a charity - Friends of Maddie -  to support families of children like Maddie. Together with their family and friends, they also raise a ton of money for the March of Dimes each year.

The second tragic event that I associate with April happened on April 20, 2006, the morning that five IU music students were killed in a plane crash on their way back to Bloomington from a rehearsal in another town. The five of them – all singers - were well known in the music school and their deaths utterly transformed the school for the rest of the term. Several courses canceled their finals, no one went to class the day after it happened, and especially since I was a singer, most of my friends and I spent the whole next week going to a different memorial service every day. It was rough, but it was also a remarkable time at IU. It felt so personal. It felt like everyone actually cared about each other. And it reminded us all that our grades and our recital dresses weren’t the most important things.

I mark both of these deaths each year in various private ways. I always donate to Heather and Mike’s March of Dimes team and I usually spend a few minutes on the 20th reflecting on each of the five IU students. I’m now older than they were when they died, which is hard to believe. From Heather’s writing, I gather that one of the most important things is to simply remember them. I think of these two events similarly, as they both involved children – even though the IU students were in their 20s – whose parents now live without them. Heather has written that the scariest thing now is that we’ll all forget Maddie, that no one will talk to her about Maddie, that we’ll all let April 7th pass without thinking about her. Truthfully, I think of Maddie and the victims of the plane crash often, not just in April, but I make a special effort on those days to remember what it was like then.

It’s always struck me that I associate April with grief, because I also associate April with life. It’s the time of year when the snow actually starts to melt and we see the first green shoots around campus. It’s the time of year when a lot of wildlife starts to return to Ontario (or pass through on the way further north). In our area, it’s the time when we regain hope that winter will truly end. More frequent sunny and warm days mean we all shake off our collective SADs and spend more time outside. I associate April with feeling alive again, and I try to remember that as I grieve and mark the premature passings of these people who were too young and so talented. I’m not grateful for their deaths, but I try to be grateful for the things I’ve learned from grieving them: finals aren’t the most important thing, grades don’t determine human worth. My sanity and health are worth more than a clean paper draft. This year, 5 years after Maddie’s passing and 8 years since the plane crash, I want to focus on the feeling of being alive and remember that it, too, is a privilege.


Masters Swimming Ontario Provincial Championships 2014

Last weekend John and I went to Windsor for the 2014 Masters Swimming Ontario Provincial Championship.

It was held at the Windsor International Aquatic and Training Center, a brand new facility that really knocked my socks off. The pool was beautiful and there was a nice seating area above it with a lot of natural light. But, even more amazing, they also had this indoor water park in the next room:


I kind of wanted to ditch the meet and go hang out in there. If I were a kid in Windsor I would want to be there 24/7.

My first event, 100m free, was on Saturday morning. My time: 1:17:11. Faster than my seed time but basically the same as I swam two weeks ago at a time trial. It's hard to make big improvements in this distance in a period of weeks. Every second means a lot in the short distances so I was pleased that I was able to maintain the same time as the time trial. Over all, I've dropped over two and a half minutes in that event over the course of the year.

In the afternoon I also swam the 50m free in 34:08. That was a drop of more than 3 and a half minutes over the course of the season, but again, the same basic time I'd achieved a couple weeks prior. It's even harder to drop seconds in the 50m free and I'm happy that I maintained the same time. That race didn't go quite as I'd hoped. I only planned on taking one breath on the first length, but I got too much water in my mouth and had to take two more before the turn. But I did as well as I could.

50m start:

50m after the turn:

The final event on Saturday was the 400m free, which I entered sort of on a whim. I wanted to do about 4 events, mostly on Saturday, and it seemed like the lesser of the other evils. In high school, I only ever swam this event once, after which my coach and I agreed that it was just not the event for me. But things change. The shorter, faster distances seem to get harder to maintain as I get older. As my current coach, Alex, pointed out, our triathlon club training is geared more toward longer distances so it's no wonder that this distance is starting to agree with me.
In the fall, at a time trial held at practice, I swam the 400m in 7:30. About 3 weeks before Provincials, I swam it in 6:35 and I was shocked and thrilled with the huge drop. Then, about 2 weeks before, I swam 6:07 at a time trial, so I was hoping to come in around the same time (especially since the two other times had basically stayed the same). Instead, I came in at 6:00:07. Third place in my age group! They organized the heats for this event by seed time (instead of by age) so my 7:30 seed time put me in a very slow heat. I lapped the other people in the heat more than once, but I knew it wouldn't effect the over all place until all the 30-34 swimmers had finished. But after I learned that I got 3rd place, I went to the lobby to collect my medal.

I'm still shocked by the 400. It was never my event. I was never a distance person (and in a lot of ways I still prefer the mental aspect of the shorter races). But this one has changed my mind. In large part, I think the improvement comes from my coach, Alex, who gave me a new strategy for the 400. It goes like this:
150 "easy speed," just maintaining something fast but holding back a bit
100 build, increasing speed
150 everything you have left.

I think I can work on this to improve my time and go below the 6 minute mark. I think I'm still sandbagging a bit too much at the beginning (all the distance stuff still seems so new). But mentally this just makes it so much easier and I had enough left to really haul ass on the last 50 meters.

This picture is from just after I finished. If you expand the pic, you can probably see my name on the black and white screen up top. Only three times are listed because only three of us were done and mine has the (1) next to it. Woohoo!

My final event was the 100m IM on Sunday morning. I swam it in 1:30:04. That was probably less than a second slower than I swam it two weeks before, but I had to just let it go. Competing in short spurts with long stretches in between was much harder mentally than I'm used to right now. It's still a drop of almost 3 minutes over the course of the year and I have to feel good about that.

This year has been tough, mentally and physically.  Since my dissertation proposal was approved in May I've been writing as fast as possible and I've felt the pressure of the clock as I try to finish my degree. I also haven't made as much progress as I would have liked in terms of healing my stress fracture. After 6 months without running I went to the doctor, who really didn't have much more to say. I've had an MRI and I'm in physical therapy, and I just have to wait until it feels better. Not running has been hard in some ways - I missed doing the fall races and running in the beautiful fall weather (although I can't say I was sorry to miss running in the horrible Winter we've had). I'd still like to be able to run with the dog. But honestly, I'm kind of over it. I kind of don't care anymore if I get to run again. I'd just like it to not hurt while I'm walking around. My PT likes to hear that because it means I won't run again until I'm absolutely ready, but it feels more like apathy than patience.

In light of all that, returning to swimming and discovering the Triathlon Club have both been such blessings this year. I sacrifice much less for swimming than I did for running, in terms of injuries and time, and I get a lot more in return. It's so apparent that I'm a much better and more efficient swimmer than I ever was a runner. Swimming in meets has been fun, but I also get so much enjoyment and stress relief just by getting in the water. I'm grateful that I've been able to do that this year. Plus I've made new friends on the Triathlon Club and I've gotten to experience some multi-sport events as part of a relay team. If I can run in the fall, then I'll participate in those events as an individual, and that would be nice. But I can still enjoy masters swimming without all of the physical pain I had to endure to run long distances.

Swimming all the time has had a visible affect on my body. I'm not as lean as I was when I ran all the time and it's been hard to understand that as it's happened. In the past I had used my body weight to determine how healthy I was and I've been challenged to measure my health in other ways this year, while still trying to maintain a healthy weight. The Provincial meet was interesting on that front, too. Lots of the participants are older - I think the oldest woman was 88 and she swam the 200m free! - and you know old ladies are uninhibited in the locker room! I saw more naked old ladies than...I normally do. I also saw some women much closer to my age and even a few years younger who were clearly competitive swimmers all their lives and were built like tanks. Impressive, strong tanks built from pure muscle. They weren't thin, either. It occurred to me that they probably have trouble shopping for clothes, too. It was really encouraging to see these women who didn't fit the conventional feminine body type but who were absolutely killing it in the pool.

John and I were both way too impressed with Windsor in this way that makes me think it's time to leave London. Windsor seemed to draw more money from tourism, being a border town, and that meant more interesting restaurants and bars than we have in London (of course, if I lived there for a year I might change my mind). We ate at some fun restaurants: The Loose Goose (great happy hour specials), Carrots and Dates Cafe (perfect mid-day swim meet veg food), and Capri's Pizza. Sharing an excellent pizza and a bottle of wine while watching House Hunters was the perfect activity for Saturday night after a day of competition. John also enjoyed a trip to Salute Espresso in between the morning and afternoon events. We also had a great brunch at the Twisted Apron on Sunday before leaving town.

Just before dinner on Saturday we went to the tap room of the Walkerville Brewing Co. This picture obviously doesn't do this beer any justice, but I had the milk stout and it was pretty great. We were impressed with everything we tried. The only one I didn't get to try was the IPA, but the Kolsch, the lager, and the milk stout were all A+. The brewery is fairly new so they are still in the process of getting ready to distribute. They said they expect to have cans in the LCBO by this summer and I would definitely buy their beer.

The Provincial meet was the last big meet of the year for the masters swimming community. In the mean time, there's a more informal summer meet in London that I hope to do in July. And this weekend is the Western Triathln Club Spring Fling - 500m swim + 5K run or 750 swim +7K run, or a relay. I'm swimming in a relay and I'm thrilled that I get to participate. After I swim I'll be there to time other participants and help keep things running smoothly. I didn't know I was swimming in it until two days before and it may be hard to compete two weekends in a row. But the point is just to have fun and get more points for Western so I'm pretty excited!

Also, classes end for me on Monday which means I can finally write at home in my py-jams instead of coming into campus to teach. Hooray for "summer" break!


End of March Roundup

Who's got two thumbs and wrote two blog posts in the month of March? This gal!

Again, all I have in me is a list of things that have happened this month. I intend to write soon about swimming in the Masters Provincial Championships, but you know, promises, promises.

1. It's still Winter...kind of. 

Some of us are more fazed by it than others.

It helps if you have a warm nest next to the heating vent.

I'm now supposed to be going for "fitness walks" in order to strengthen my foot for physical therapy. Last weekend BoBo and I headed to Springbank for a wintery walk. It was cold but we made it 2 miles!
BoBo still doesn't really get selfies.

2. John and I tried out a new cafe in town - Edgar and Joe's Cafe -  located inside the Goodwill local headquarters, adjacent to an actual Goodwill store in the same building. It was a pleasant place to study with lots of space, natural light, and free wifi. We'll definitely be back. Also, if you're London: breakfast all day.

3. Another one of my Interlochen classmates is getting famous. Allie X (or, my classmate formerly known as Allie Hughes) lives in Toronto and also, now, L.A. She released a couple of singles and I think they're  pretty fun! You can listen to them here. I should dig up some old photos from us in our Halloween costumes in junior year of high school. 

4. The Triathlon Club had a girls' night a couple weeks ago. It was wild - WILD, I tell you! Actually it involved dinner at Mongolian Grill and then froyo. At the froyo place I found this board game: 

I regret so much that we didn't play it. Also, it turns out that all those ladies train so much that by 8:30 we were all too tired to do anything else so we went home to go to bed. In all seriousness, I love that there are so many fit and strong ladies in the TriClub. The executive board is almost all badass chicks.

5. We also had the Triathlon Club end of the year banquet last week. There were elections for next year's board, a fun side show, and pad thai! And, I won the (female) swimming award! I was so touched by this. My coach, Alex, has made an enormous difference in my swimming this. And so has my lane-mate, Dan. I've gotten faster just by trying to keep up with him!

6. Please enjoy these promotional videos for Calgary ("Hello Calgary!") and, separately, Ontario ("There's no place like this!"). "This is Ontario, Y'all!" That made me laugh so hard. I heard about the Calgary one on This American Life and it immediately made me think of the Ontario commercial. It also makes me think of the time Fort Wayne commissioned of those new town mottos. They came up with this: "Fort Wayne - Still Room for Dreams."

7. A few weeks ago I joined a group called Barley's Angels, a group for women who are beer enthusiasts. I attended a group event at Brewhaven where we made two different kinds of beer and learned about the beer making process. I loved it! As a music theorist with a composition background, I'm very accustomed to male-dominated environments and I often feel comfortable in them. But it was nice to have an all-women group that was led by a women who knows a lot about beer. There was no mansplaining to endure. My friend, Grace (below), introduced me to the group. Brewhaving also seems like a neat place. It's out of my price range to go there as an individual but as a group it was pretty great. It also convinced me that I would never want to make beer at home. WAY too many variables and it's too easy to contaminate something and screw it all up. But I enjoyed going through the process with their equipment and expertise!

Here's Grace stirring the malts in our brown bitter.

The tank from above. The grains are in those bags hanging from the side. The malt and syrop are in the center/strainer looking thing.

In one of the storage rooms they had this cool medieval print of a monk making beer.

We finished the day with a canning demo. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend the canning day, but I'm going to pick up my beer soon. I'm looking forward to trying it!

 8. I'm one chapter away from a complete draft (though early draft) of my dissertation. Here's Rameau's signature. I think it looks a bit like a bird looking through a hoop, if you look at it just right.  I've been outlining it like mad and editing chapter 1. I'm still not sure if I can defend in the summer or the fall, but I it will become clear in a couple of months (or rather, it has to, if I'm going to defend in the summer).

The temperature highs are supposed to be above 30F all this week! Fingers crossed that Spring is actually coming!



I guess I'm down to one blog post per month (or less...it's March). 

Guess who's birthday it is! 

It's Morgan's birthday! I wish we were in Memphis to celebrate it with her. 

Also, it's Bobo's birthday. She is four today.

"Bon Anniversaire à Moi." 

(Not enjoying this birthday selfie)

Bobo got to celebrate her birthday with her favorite things: an extra long trip to the dog park (that photo is from a different day, but you get the picture) followed by an extra long nap and then a special doggie "cannoli" from the Village Tail. 

In other news, winter continues to be the worst.

Western has taken to dumping all the snow from the parking lots into the field between the music school and the gym. I tried to take a picture of it with my face in the foreground for scale but it doesn't really communicate how snowy it is. John said it looks like a scale model of the Alps and I said it looks more like the Aggro Crag. 

A couple of weeks ago we ventured to Indiana for the IU Graduate Theory Symposium. I gave a paper that I made out of various chunks of Chapter 4. It went better than I kind of expected. Successfully answering questions about my dissertation always gives me a lot of hope - it turns out, I know more about Rameau and 18th century French science than the average person. Or even the average music theorist.

We've been doing various things to take respite from the cold. Last night we met up with our friends GK and DK for some beer tasting. GK prepared this lovely fruit and cheese plate. Nothing like tropical fruit to help us feel like summer!

I got my hair trimmed today for the first time since the summer. I've decided to grow it out while I write my dissertation and then cut it off after I defend. I'll post some updates along the way. Maybe if it gets long enough I'll donate it afterward. That way something positive will come of my dissertation time either way...right? 

Going to the gym with John in the Winter is pretty great. He wears a lot of fun clothing combos. I think he was really happy on the inside that I took this photo.

A few weeks ago I went to Toronto with some members of the UWO Triathlon club to participate in the Hart House Indoor Triathlon. I'm still injured (long story for the next post...in, like, three months), but I was able to put together a relay with our spin instructor and her boyfriend. I handled the swim leg and it was really fun! The indoor tri deal was that you were given 15 minutes per event and they kept track of how far you went. I was able to complete 950 meters in the 15 minutes and I was really  happy with that. Having never done an event like that before, I decided to shoot for 800 meters and just see what happened. So 950 was pretty great! Here's a photo that one of my teammates grandma took. Those two on the left are Michelle and Mikaela, kindly cheering for me as I swam along the wall. 

I only have a few weeks until the Ontario Masters Provincial Championships in Windsor! I may have 4 of my 5 total chapters written by then! That would make me want to swim extra fast to celebrate. 



Hey there, blog. I took a not so little break during Christmas and I've been dragging my feet when it comes to blogging. And basically for no good reason. I finished Gym Christmas with a swimming work out that never made it onto the blog and then I enjoyed several days in a row where I barely touched my computer.

Christmas at my parents' in Indiana was great, as usual. I spent a lot of time with Mr. Tobes and a lot of time doing nothing. But because of the timeline for SMT submissions,  I also spent a bunch of time editing a conference paper and an abstract that were both due in early January.

Other highlights: Mom took us to an IU game!

BoBo decided that my parents' fireplace is her favorite spot in the world. 

My mom graciously offered to help out with some dental bills I had in the fall, so I got a crown for Christmas! Not wanting John to feel left out, she got him a paper crown, shown here. 

She also got us this large bottle of tequila and we had margarita Christmas once again. Never gets old.

Dave and Carla came to town for the day. Naturally, we began with a visit to the Spoon, then a walk around campus, and finally, board games with fancy beer at the house.

John's grandpa came to visit and at the end of his trip, we took him back to catch the bus in Indianapolis. Mom suggested we take in a museum and have lunch at Three Sisters in Broad Ripple. We had a nice time visiting Indy with Mom. It made all three of us want to go back again (to the NCAA Hall of Champions, perhaps?). Here's John modeling his "I <3 actual="" christmas="" for="" got="" he="" hot="" p="" sauce.="" shirt="" some="" sriracha="" that="" with="">

Nearer to the end of break, we rang in the New Year with Mark and friends, including Amanda. She was dressed the sparkliest so she descended the stairs at midnight, in place of a glittery ball in Times Square. 

And since then, lots of other mundane but good things have happened. I will deliver the current 2014 highlights in a conveniently lazy list format. 

1. I decided to join the whole TriClub (rather than just the swimming) with the hopes of being able to run at some point in the next few months. I now think the expectation of running so soon was unrealistic (a topic for another time), but I'm really enjoying the rest of the club. I can go to spin class on Monday and Friday, swim three days a week like before, plus they also do strength training and a mystery workout on Wednesday. I don't typically make it to all that, but it's nice to have so many structured work outs available. Also, I'm having so much success with massage therapy that I really haven't had one of my motion sickness episodes in a while, and spin class doesn't make me motion sick! 
It turns out, triathlon club members get up VERY EARLY, so I'm still trying to get adjusted to that. But I think that it's actually going to help me graduate. I get up early for the work out and then I'm up.  I get in 2-3 hours of solid dissertation time before lunch, or a solid single hour before I teach. It's pretty awesome. Of course, I also fall asleep around 9:30 every night. 
I'm going to an indoor triathlon in Toronto in a couple of weeks to swim as part of a relay and I hope to post about what that's like. In general, it is so nice to have a group of people to spend time with who have no idea who Rameau is. 

2. Speaking of Rameau, a week or so ago, I went to Tallahassee, FL to talk about Rameau. I presented a chunk of Chapter 4 at their Forum, a conference run by grad students. Even though it was "cold" for Tallahassee, it was nice to get a break from our weather and enjoy some 50 degree days. I also go to catch up with Little Gillian, a former UWO student who's now ABD (time flies!) at Florida State. 
Side note: I have two friends named Gillian/Djillian/Jillian. I met them both at Western, neither of them goes here now, and both have attended FSU. Both currently live in Florida. Yet I don't think they've ever met. This is not the premise of a riddle. 
I also get to present "Rameau and Friends/Frenemies"* at the IU student conference during "spring" break. I'm lucky to have gotten on two fairly economical conferences - one where I could stay with a friend, and one in my parents' town. 

3. And speaking of my dissertation, I actually felt really good coming back to school and starting 2014 because THIS IS GOING TO BE THE YEAR: I am going to finish this dissertation, come hell or high water. My current plan is to defend late in the summer, or, if everyone important is still out of town, in the early fall. Of course, I'm meeting with my advisor this week and he may put the ki-bosh on all of that. Still, I've got a lot of stuff written and I feel good about the progress I've made. I've also learned that writing and presenting conference papers on my dissertation topic is, on the one hand, more efficient than on unrelated topics, but ultimately still a time suck. After the IU conference, I'm done for the school year. 

4. While stuck on the tarmac on the plane coming back from FL, I read most of Rachel Dratch's book, A Girl Walks into a Bar. And it's great! If you liked Bossypants by Tina Fey, or Is Everyone Hanging Out without Me? by Mindy Kahling, you will probably enjoy this book. Parts of it made me laugh out loud and others were simply touching and clever. I highly recommend it. Have you read anything by a woman comic lately? If so, please send me the title! Also, when is Amy Poehler going to write her own hilarious and brilliant memoir? All the cool ladies are doing it!

4. It's cold here, like it is everywhere else, apparently. Western canceled class on Day #2 of the semester and I think they vowed never to do it again. But, you know, it's Canada. It's colder than in previous years, but enduring the cold winter is a point of national pride, so they don't complain the same way Americans do. They seem especially excited about the cold because of the upcoming Winter Olympics. If you have a few minutes to kill, check out #WeAreWinter on the twitters. You'll see what I mean.

5. I signed up for the Ontario Masters Provincial Championships swim meet in March. There's no minimum qualifying time and it's in Windsor (about 2 hours away), so woohoo! I'm doing the 50M, 100M, and 400M Freestyle (400! What am I thinking!!), and the 100 IM. It's so exciting to have an actual event to train for. I'm sure I'll post here about the weekend in Windsor after it happens.

And with that, it's 9:30. I've been up since 5:15! Time for bed!

If you're reading this, then I hope your Near Year has been great so far!

*Not the real title. In case you're curious, the real title was, "Rameau, Voltaire, Castel, and Public Image in Enlightenment Music Theory."


GYM CHRISTMAS Day 10: Game of Chores, and Day 11: The First Rule of Athletic Club

For the 10th day of GYM CHRISTMAS John and I teamed up to Make a Game of Household Chores. We wrote down about 6 chores that needed doing and each drew one out of my IU can coolie, shown here.

I drew "pick stuff up," so I walked around putting things away and tidying up the house. We don't have a huge apartment so that took me probably 30 minutes. Meanwhile, John drew "process nuclear waste," which was our phrase for "clean out the fridge." I only meant for him to throw out the old food and organize it a bit. But by the time I was done picking stuff up he had removed all the shelves and all the food and was in the process of scrubbing the whole thing down. Naturally this is a job for more than one person so I joined in. 

It turns out the real game was "clean with your spouse without having a giant fight." So that was awesome. The fridge won the game since it came away cleaner than before and without any battle scars. The coolie still has some chores inside it so we may return to that game another day. I didn't get a good before shot of the fridge, but here's the after: 

Today John and I both completed Investigate and Share, for me Day 11 of GYM CHRISTMAS. We investigated the Athletic Club, part of a chain of gyms around town. I happened to get a couple of free 7-day passes when I had fro-yo with the Triathlon Club a while back. We decided to try it out today, though somehow we didn't realize that the first visit would require a pitch from one of their costumer service staff plus a tour. The woman we spoke to was very nice and answered our questions, though that made the whole visit longer than we planned. I'd say the place was fine, no better, no worse. The locker room wasn't packed at 4pm like Western's would be and it was a lot newer inside. But the rest of the gym was very comparable. They do have a women-only section that was spacious and a separate entrance. I'm sad that those things are necessary but I guess I'm glad they have them. Everything else I felt was more or less the same as at school, but the membership is more expensive. If I weren't a student at Western and I were still living here, I would still get a UWO membership because of the convenience and price. And if not Western then the YMCA (members can go to any YMCA in North America!) because the pool is kind of a deal breaker for me. Athletic Club does have a pool, but it's smaller and had no lane lines and just wasn't my thing. But the place seemed ok. If I lived closer to that gym than to the school gym, I would consider it. 
My bigger problem was the vibe rubbed me the wrong way somehow. They have posters everywhere that I felt were trying to up-sell you on your membership or get you to promote the Athletic Club to your friends. As John will tell you, I'm no fun for sales people. That kind of constant promotion makes me uncomfortable. Somehow the emphasis to me seemed to be about becoming skinny, though there was no particular thing about the place telling me that. It's just different from a university setting. The biggest thing I learned was that I like the gym at Western, so go figure.

Of course, now I like the idea of getting trial memberships at other gyms for comparison. Maybe I'll take a tour of the YMCA next time I'm in the neighborhood.

Here is my GYM CHRISTMAS list now:
Go for a Pre- or Post-Dinner Walk.
Yuletide Cheer
Make a Game of Household Chores
Crank Up the Music and Boogie Down
Hazardous Waste Removal
Regular Water Consumption
Investigate and Share
Sneak a Work Out into Another Activity
Turn TV Commercials into Fitness Breaks
Muscle-Building/Strength Training
Animal Time
Seven-Minute Work-Out.

One more day to go! I anticipate finishing my 12th day (muscle building and strength training) on Wednesday or just after we get to Bloomington.

This weekend I made a couple of cocktails out of things I happened to have at hand. I give you: a modified tequila sunrise that I dubbed the Christmas Morning: 

1 oz tequila (or more if you want it stronger)
ice cubes
orange juice (probably 1/2 cup)
1-2 tbs cranberry mixture*
Combine and serve.

*For the mix, I put 1 cup of semi-thawed (previously frozen) cranberries + 1 tbs sugar +1/4 water in the food processor until it was finely chopped. 

I could never get that mixture as fine as I wanted, but it did the job. And it looked lovely! The combination of flavors was perfect. I only used 1 oz per drink of tequila because that's how much we had left. So long, tequila.

Next, I made a Cranberry-Ginger Vodka Spritzer with the following:
1.5 oz vodka
ice cubes
sparkling water or club soda
lime wedges for garnish
*1-2 tbs cranberry mix

*This was the same cranberry mix as above + 1 tbs fresh ginger, minced. 

We really liked this drink, too! The lime is the right final touch. Both of these drinks would be good non-alcoholic drinks for the holidays if you omit the liquor. I think the Christmas Morning was my favorite.

And finally, here are some gratuitous pictures of BoBo getting into the Christmas spirit.

"What's up in that tree? Is it SANTA?!"



Yesterday for the 9th day of GYM CHRISTMAS I celebrated "Animal Time." Spending time with my parents' dogs has always been one of the highlights of the holidays for me, and this year my excitement is 100% bigger because of BoBo's arrival (though it is more than a little diminished by Molly's departure). 

BoBo is fortunate in that we spend a ton of time with her. Unlike a lot of greyhounds, she gets to go to work with us most days of the week and we often take her with us when we go places. So for Animal Time, I made an extra effort to take her on a real walk during the noon hour, instead of just taking her out for a bathroom break. Of course it was extra cold on the the day I chose to give her a longer walk.

She also hung out with me all morning while I worked and then all evening at school while John gave his students' their final. Having her has made this semester so much better. At the end of the day, her lack of sympathy is kind of nice. BoBo doesn't really care how much writing I got done or how bad I think it is. She still needs to go to the dog park and let loose, or she still demands affection at certain times. It's a good reminder that my problems aren't that huge.

Here are some recent BoBo pics. Not that this blog is lacking a lot of photos of her.

Staring at food she can't have.

Looking quizzically at my computer. I was watching a video of puppies learning to howl and the noises fascinated her.

Even though BoBo time is pretty much all the time at our house, it felt good to single her out for a special day during GYM CHRISTMAS.

Today is December 13th! If you still want to participate in Gym Christmas, you can start today and you'll still be able to complete it - and receive a sweet prize from my friend the DJ.

Here is my GYM CHRISTMAS list now:
Go for a Pre- or Post-Dinner Walk.
Yuletide Cheer
Make a Game of Household Chores
Crank Up the Music and Boogie Down
Hazardous Waste Removal
Regular Water Consumption
Investigate and Share
Sneak a Work Out into Another Activity
Turn TV Commercials into Fitness Breaks
Muscle-Building/Strength Training
Animal Time
Seven-Minute Work-Out.