Archive for November, 2011

My first 5k

I did it.

I actually did it.

I wouldn’t have done it, except that John volunteered to drive me to the Turkey Trax 5k which started and ended at Rock Bridge High School. I also couldn’t have done it if my friend hadn’t said she’d be waiting for me at the north parking lot in front of the flag pole.

She was.

I would never have had the courage even to sign up if I hadn’t attended my first Columbia Multisport Club event – a talk given by John Bingham at The Blue Note. It isn’t easy to teach hormonally challenged young people all day, hustle home to milk cows, only then to turn around and haul myself back into town. But a couple of weeks ago, I did. And it was worth it.

I arrived at The Blue Note early and impressed myself by asking a woman I did not know if I could join her at her table. She kindly said yes. I was even more pleased when I pulled out my knitting and found out she was also a knitter. There is something surreal about knitting in a darkened bar, but I have a hard time sitting still and the knitting kept my mind off the fact that it was freezing inside. It was a free event, so I guess the Blue Note folks were saving on their heating bill. Or, perhaps they knew the place would heat up during the musical act scheduled immediately after Bingham. More people joined our table, the bar began to fill with hard core triathletes, and then Bingham began to tell his story.

Bingham calls himself “the Penguin,” and he didn’t start running until the tender age of 43 when he was a hard-drinking, chain-smoking, overweight couch potato. His message was that the point of an active lifestyle isn’t to win events. It is enough, he says, simply to participate in them. Besides, he argued, what’s the point of hurrying through an event. His style means you take your time, enjoy the scenery, and finish comfortably at the back of the pack.

I finished comfortably in the middle of a pack of 900 Thanksgiving Day runners. I was beaten by one of my former eighth grade students who won the whole thing with a time of 16:15. Another former student finished it in 20 minutes. A fifth grade student and her mom finished five minutes before me and were on hand to cheer me on my final lap around the Rock Bridge track.

My favorite part of the race was the mom and her daughter – I think she was maybe 5 years old – who ran in matching reindeer hats. We played leapfrog for most of the run – we’d pass them, they’d pass us. Every time I ran by, I’d cheer the little reindeer girl on. On the last mile, her mother used us as motivation. If the little girl slowed, her mom would point out that we were gaining. Her antlered head would turn to look back, she’d gasp, and then her little legs would pump her up the next hill. She was waiting for me with a high five at the finish line.

I had a great time, even though I was beaten by a five-year-old. And Bingham is right when he says, “The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.”

The finish line.

My final time was 38:50. Our goal had been to finish in under 40 minutes, and we did.

To keep my momentum going, I’ve signed up for the Jingle Bell run.

I hope to see a reindeer there.

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Food for thought

With Black Friday fast approaching, I’d like you to watch this TEDTalk given by Seattle photographer Chris Jordan.

If you’re curious as to where the plastic we use and then toss out ends up, check out Jordan’s photos of the Midway Atoll.

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Ta da!

Here he is in all his glory.


My first hand and rod puppet – fashioned after Despereaux Tilling in The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo. I think I need a FedEx Day every month.

Here’s how the pros do it.

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FedEx Days

If you watched Daniel Pink’s TED Talk, you learned about FedEx Days. He found a company that gives its employees a day off to create. Anything. Just as FedEx promises overnight delivery, so must the employee. The argument is that this shift from the daily grind gets an employee’s creative juices flowing and that complex problems often get solved after FedEx Days.

I wanted a FedEx Day. I had no idea what I would do with it, but I wanted one.
I got it. In fact I got four. Thanks to an electrical short at school, we’ve used up all our snow days before the temperatures have seriously thought about dipping below freezing. I will take what I can get. I needed a day off.

It has taken me more than 24 hours to deliver my product, but after another run to Michael’s and Westlakes today, I think I’ll have it. Look for the big reveal soon!

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Yesterday was John’s birthday. He spent most of the day hunting. I spent most of the day cooking.

Here was the menu: Veal parmiagiana, brandy glazed carrots, buttered noodles, with cherry pie and ice cream for dessert.

It gets better.

The veal parmigiana was from our veal, and I topped it with a fresh mozzarella that I’d made hours before. I used an Emeril LaGasse recipe from FoodNetwork.com that was sorely lacking in solid instruction. However, the sauce was extraordinary and well worth the four hours of simmering time it took to make it extraordinary.

Simmering Tomato Sauce

I dumped the idea of making the Mornay sauce as I never figured out why we needed a white sauce on the noodles. I also slathered the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking pan with the tomato sauce, cooked the scallops the way the recipe called to cook veal chops, then nestled those browned bits of meat into the sauce. I finely shredded a parmigiana-reggiano cheese over the scallops then smothered them with the rest of the sauce. The whole thing was topped off with thin slices of the fresh mozzarella.

The cherry pie and ice cream were also homemade. The pie was pretty and the ice cream from the cream of my cows.

Cherry Pie

What more can I say?

Happy Birthday, John!

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If I get home from school in time to spend a few minutes winding down, I usually fix myself a cup of hot tea and watch a TED Talk. If you’re not familiar with them, you should be. It’s like being able to listen in on a global think tank.

Speakers from all walks of life and all corners of the planet are invited to participate in TED conferences, also held on all corners of the planet. Those talks are then videotaped and posted online for anyone to see. One of the things I love most is that these talks last anywhere from five to 20 minutes, so I have time to catch one before I start on the evening chores. That also makes them great for the classroom.

I’m going to start posting one a week. Today’s is by Daniel Pink who talks about rethinking the way we motivate people.

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What a relief

It rained this week. It rained a 1.5 much-needed inches. John got the garden plowed and disked – put to bed, so to speak – for the season. That’s always a good feeling.
Another good feeling is that we’ve also found a relief milker. For the first time in ten years we actually have someone with milking experience and whose work-day schedule allows her to come out once a week and milk. After several failed attempts to actually get ourselves off the farm, we finally pulled off a veritable coup yesterday.

We headed into town early afternoon to run some errands and ended up at Ragtag just in time to catch “Being Elmo.”

I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this documentary about Elmo’s person Kevin Clash. I laughed. I cried. Now I want to make a puppet.

After the movie was dinner. At Broadway Brewery. It’s been open for several years now, but we’ve never eaten there. It was spectacular. Spectacular. We started out with beer and Irish pub cakes – potato pancakes stuffed with cheese and served with a hint of creme fraiche and a highly seasoned applesauce. Wow. For a main dish, I ordered the Autumn Harvest Bowl – a baked winter squash stuffed with rice and black beans and smothered with cheese. I could only eat half of it. I wanted dessert, but I was too stuffed myself.

Life looks better after a heavy rain and dinner and a movie.

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