Monthly Archives: May 2012


29 May

My Tidy Little Habit

Posted by on May 29, 2012 at 5:45 pm

We are all creatures of habit, whether those habits include leaving piles of dirty socks in odd places all over the house or hitting the snooze button 10 times before we actually get out of bed. Oftentimes our habits do nothing but annoy our spouses or make us as round as bowling balls but occasionally they can be of good use.

Jason and I are far from lazy but between working hard and working hard at having fun there aren’t enough hours in the day for everything we need to get done. Hence, it’s often proven difficult for us to keep up with our housework even when we have the best of intentions. We used to clean in massive clumps because we couldn’t find time to do so otherwise but a few months ago I decided to put an end to this manic straightening. I devised a plan to encourage housework to become as much a part of our regular routine as brushing our teeth or putting on a fresh pair of underwear each morning. (Jason often overlooks applying daily deodorant so I won’t use that as an example of an established habit.)

Now that's a face no scum can resist.

I instituted “cleaning night” and now Jason and I spend an evening every week attacking our house with dusters and mops from top to bottom. Cleaning night has proven quite effective. Our house stays pretty tidy these days and if it does grow unruly putting it back in order isn’t an insurmountable task. I’ll admit that all the summer yard work and vacations have made it considerably harder to keep the cleaning constant but we’ve managed to stay on top of it reasonably well because I’m too obstinate to give up on any of my cockeyed ideas.

Now that our house doesn’t suffer from dust neglect I’m preparing to implement phase II of my habitual ploy. You know all those deep cleaning projects that you never ever have time for: the cupboards, the pantry, vacuuming under the bed, etc? Well, I have schemed up a way to get them all completed regularly. I have compiled a list of all these never-dones and Jason and I are going to take one of them on every week until they’re finished, at which point we’ll begin cycling through the list once again. These deep projects will be tackled in addition to our regular cleaning night. Yes, our lives are going to be even more packed, which doesn’t seem possible, but at least our cupboards will be tidy. Sadly, time is always a casualty in the war for neatness.

Between yard work and house work and regular work, life doesn’t give one much of a break. Jason and I sometimes lose whole weeks without anything to show for it except sparkly bathtubs and a happy yard. This seems to be an all too common complaint among the chronically busy. Regardless, I think cleaning night is a keeper. I would recommend a straightening ritual to anyone. Why should date night have the monopoly on breaking a sweat?

23 May

Onions and Needles

Posted by on May 23, 2012 at 9:54 pm

Twice a year Jason and I head to Moab; these trips are nearly as constant as the ebb and flow of the tides. This spring we had a hard time finding an open weekend to visit our favorite adventure hub but somehow we squished it in. How can you not make time for Moab?

Crossing Onion Creek over and over was delightful and messy. I'm not usually that thrilled to be that soggy.

One prickly pear blooming in the desert is lovelier than a garden full of roses.

On this outing we again hit a couple new biking and hiking spots. It seems like no matter how many times we go to Moab there is always new terrain to explore. We biked 20 miles to the Fisher Valley Ranch and back via Onion Creek Canyon. Although this sandy bouncy road definitely wasn’t on the upper end of the technically challenging scale, the unfit would probably find it unfit for cycling due to its persistent climbs. For us though it was as tempting as a cup of hot cocoa in a snowstorm. All those bumpy hills strewn in unnatural looking reds, greens, grays, and yellows practically begged our tires to tread on them and we were happy to oblige. The dreamlike scenery kept our eyes popping but the best part of this ride was its 52 river crossings, and no, that was not a typo. Jason and I got to navigate our bikes through Onion Creek 52 fabulous times. It goes without saying that we did not return to our car dry. And, thanks to a 25 MPH wind that whipped the endless supply of sand into our faces, I didn’t even return to our car looking human. Instead I resembled what would happen if a stinkbug and a sandman produced unfortunate offspring. They really should never have kids together. Despite the gritty gusts that literally picked up our bikes on occasion and turned me into walking sandpaper, we thoroughly enjoyed this ride. I would recommend Onion Creek to those who aren’t super confident in their off-road skills but don’t mind a good workout or a wet crotch.

This is an untouched photo, as hard as that is to believe. Onion Creek was really that red and otherwordly looking.

That smudge of dust is not the workings of a camera lens gone awry but rather the sandy minions of an aggressive breeze.

In the narrows of Onion Creek Canyon my bike kept tilting toward the river gorge far below thanks to that tricky wind.

The second part of our adventure took us to The Needles District of Canyonlands National Park. Canyonlands is comprised of three separate sections that are divided by the Colorado and Green Rivers. While we’ve hit the Island in the Sky District before, we’ve never made the 65 mile journey south of Moab to see The Needles until now.

Misshapen rocks littered The Needles' landscape.

We came across this rattler in The Needles just a foot from our trail. Later we discovered that it was a midget-faded rattlesnake, one of the deadliest vipers in North America. Apparently they're quite reclusive so a sighting is rare. Lucky us!

The Needles bore little resemblance to the Island in the Sky or anywhere else for that matter. It was a jumble of strange boulders and outcroppings. Its fingers of rock lined the horizon like ancient stone cityscapes. Everywhere you looked fields of mushroom rock popped out of the earth as if they had sprung up overnight.

This tunnel added a little claustrophobic zest to our Chesler Park hike.

We hiked to a place called Chesler Park, a peaceful scrub brush covered meadow surrounded by spires of stone that stretched toward the infinite sky. There we climbed a random rock blob and ate our lunch with a 360 degree view of the circling sandstone towers while a curious crow watched us from a few feet away.

We came across these unusual kissing petroglyphs at the top of Big Spring Canyon. Okay, so we created them with our cheesy shadows but aren't we clever!

Sunsets in the desert are glorious and not to be missed. So after our hike we relaxed above Big Spring Canyon and watched the whittled stone transform from a dull brown to a blazing red within minutes. Unlike other flames, this fire burned without a sound. In fact the world was so still at the top of that canyon it almost made your ears ache.

The Red Cliffs Lodge is frequently our hotel of choice. It is also home to the Castle Creek Winery...and this cute truck.

That concludes my account of yet another trek into Utah’s southeastern desert. If you’ve never been to Moab what are you waiting for? You could travel the whole world and not find anything comparable to the understated patient beauty of this worn landscape. It may have taken thousands of years of infinitesimal alterations to create this unique masterpiece but I would recommend not waiting that long to enjoy it.

20 May

G and the 3Bs

Posted by on May 20, 2012 at 4:49 pm

Last Saturday I rode Goldilocks, a women only noncompetitive bike ride, for the third consecutive year. I guess you could say I’m a regular porridge pounder.

While this ride was just as cute and empowering as ever, there were some minute changes this time on my end, specifically with my end, that weren’t so adorable.

Liz and I congratulated ourselves on being awesome with a little high five action.

This year I discarded all dignity and donned a pair of biking shorts, something that I swore for good reasons I would never do. And it gets worse folks. As bad as the average awfully-unattractive spandex leggings may be, the particular high-tech shorts I bought are far uglier. Not only do they revealingly stick to each unsightly body ripple but they also have seat padding that is almost an inch thick. Great. Extra stuffing: just what someone like me who has a hinny large enough to give J. Lo a run for her money needs. I looked completely grotesque in my biker’s getup but at least those stretchy constrictors were quite comfy and did make my rear ache less. I guess if beauty is pain then ugliness should feel pretty good. By the way, it may be too late at this point to warn you to avert your eyes from this post’s pictures if you easily grow queasy at the site of spandexed butt fat but consider you and your innocent children tipped off anyway.

Jason is my biggest fan. He hung out at a spot along our course waiting for us to ride by so he could take some pictures and cheer us on. There's no denying that he's the best husband ever!

The finish line was right where we had left it roughly an hour and 45 minutes before our glorious return.

It was in this shamelessly attired manner that I biked Goldilocks with my friend Liz, one of the ladies that joined me last year. We again opted to do the meager 20 mile ride, which you hardcore cyclist will rightly pooh-pooh. But our frailty does have a silver lining. For although we didn’t muster the gumption to pedal clear across the county, we did shave off about half an hour from our previous finish time without even trying. That’s right, we pedaled faster than last year’s models of us. And next time we’re really, really sure we want to do the 40 mile course. I guess that means I will need to get my bike out and start training in the middle of winter. I can’t say that having the glacial winds of winter wick all feeling out of my extremities sounds especially appealing but I am stubborn and stupid so why not.

Goldilocks, the blonde beast, was conquered once again! And in the same fell swoop any sense of dignity I might have had was also squelched. Next year may my posse and I kick 40 miles in the keister even if that means having to exhibit our hideous keisters all across the valley!

10 May

Santa Monica’s Eleven

Posted by on May 10, 2012 at 9:26 pm

Jason is not the world’s best planner. It’s a fact that only makes the trip he organized for our anniversary even more fantastic.

This year it was Jason’s turn to arrange our anniversary celebrations. For weeks he debated where to go and asked many for their location opinions. In the end he decided we would take a long weekend getaway to Santa Monica, California, a place both of us have seen in countless movies but had never visited.

Our hotel, the Shore, was very hip and modern. I'd highly recommend it to couples traveling without kids. A shower with sheer glass panels on both the bathroom and bedroom sides shouldn't be wasted on a family vacation.

From our hotel balcony the pier and ocean were just a short 4-floor drop away.

Jason diligently did his homework for this trip. He researched hotels, restaurants, shops, etc. After his extensive investigation he opted to book us an ocean view room at the beachfront Shore Hotel. Excellent choice. This new boutique hotel is contemporary, beautiful, and filled with all sorts of high-tech gadgetry. The location isn’t too shabby either. Our balcony overlooked the ocean and famous Santa Monica Pier; we were right in the epicenter of happenings. More than enough stores, yummy bistros, and natural wonders to keep us occupied were within a quick walk. Our whole stay we never even took our rental car out of the hotel parking lot.

You may have seen this archway in a few dozen or so movies.

From the top of the Ferris wheel the shoreline seemed to sprawl out infinitely in either direction.

Jason wanted this to be a proper relaxing escape so he compiled general ideas of what we could do while in Santa Monica but avoided setting plans in stone. This low-keyed method worked splendidly. We spent our anniversary walking hand in hand along the pier and beach. We enjoyed a panoramic view of the coastline from the Pacific Park Ferris wheel and giggled as waves chased us up the shore.

Jason's long wavy hair combined with the salty breeze created an instant beach bum. I'm not complaining though; it was cute.

Having your extensive hair fanned out behind you by a coastal breeze as you nimbly pursue waves may sound like the makings of photographic hotness but this picture proves that makings do not always pan out. Still, it was too funny not to share.

That night we ate a fabulous dinner at The Lobster, a distinguished joint right on the beach. Our anniversary reservations procured us special treatment at this restaurant and a table with a view of the sun dipping over the ocean, which is just what you need for the ideal digestion of baby beet salad and housemade shellfish linguini. Even though we filled our tummies at an unhurried pace we still had enough time afterwards to catch the new Avengers movie. What can I say, I’m a geek so, vacation or not, this film was a weekend priority for me.

Pacific Park, located on the Santa Monica Pier, is home to the world's only solar-powered Ferris wheel. You may recognize it from about a million movies.

I ordered the shellfish-strewn housemade pasta at The Lobster. With all those clams, mussels, shrimp, octopuses, and squids swimming in a sea of black noodles my plate looked a bit like the dregs of the ocean. But yum!

The next day we got some couples counseling in the form of a tandem bike we rented and rode along a shoreline path called the Strand. This jaunt was mellow and fun despite that cumbersome cycle challenging our teamwork skills. I guess Jason and I make a pretty decent pair because this excursion didn’t end with us hitting someone or wanting a divorce.

If you've never ridden one of these double-seated wonders you've never lived precariously. Talk about unwieldy and awkward!

One night we watched the sun setting over the ocean from our hotel room. The sky was a brilliant orange interrupted only by the swaying silhouettes of palm trees.

After our ride along the beach we met up with some friends, the Congers, for lunch. They happened to also be on vacation in Santa Monica. It’s funny how you’ll go years without seeing your buddies when you only live 20 minutes away from each other yet scramble to gather when you happen to be traveling concurrently in a different state. It was good to catch up with them though. After our meal it was time for some cute dress shopping followed by tranquil book reading on our balcony as waves broke rhythmically below us.

Our days on the coast passed by quickly, too quickly, but they made a perfect little break from regular life. Thanks to my hubby for not only planning a great and relaxing anniversary trip but for also being the best travel companion that a girl could ask for. Life is so much better with a Jason; everyone should get them one of those.

1 May

Racing through the Tulips

Posted by on May 1, 2012 at 6:55 pm

Tiptoeing through the tulips may be all very fine but running through them is a much better way to have a good time…while getting an excellent cardiovascular workout.

Last Saturday we had our first race of the season. Jason and I ran in the Thanksgiving Point 5k along with various friends and members of our running group. The racecourse mostly followed the road encircling Thanksgiving Point but it also wandered down some of their garden paths, which were adorned with tulips. Although it didn’t meander through the blooms quite as much as I would have liked, it did take less time to complete than I was expecting.

Jacob, Cam, Fran, and Jeremy joined us for this run. Since we were all going different speeds we lost each other quickly in the throngs but it was nice to know our friends were out there somewhere.

My grandiose plan for this race was to cross the finish line in under 30 minutes. Since a 5k is roughly 3.1 miles, meeting this objective would require averaging less than 10 minutes/mile. I was reasonably sure I could do this. However, thanks to the motivation provided by our runners’ group, the R.A.C., and the fancy speed tracking Garmin watch that Jason gave me a few months ago, I didn’t just reach my goal, I left it in the dust. I completed the race after 28 minutes and 43 seconds making my mean speed 9:16/mile. While I realize that this is a completely unimpressive pace, let me assure you that I am completely impressed with myself regardless. I believe that is the fastest my little legs have ever managed to carry me at an event and it was hasty enough to place me 16th out of the 102 women in my age group. I may have passed 86 women my age, which I’m clearly not dwelling on at all, but more importantly I beat myself and that is always the greatest aspiration of any hardcore perfectionist.

Jason got to go up on the big stage to collect his trophy and revel in his victory.

Unlike me, Jason did more than just exceed his own expectations; he exceeded the speed of a whole lot of people and won 3rd place in his age division. He deserved his glorious trophy with a 22 minute and 40 second finish time. That’s 7 minutes and 19 seconds per mile for those of you mathematically challenged and, incidentally, it’s probably faster than I will ever move. Yes, Jason is swift, which explains his firm buttocks.

Jason's aunt and cousin ran the half marathon, which finished at the same spot as the 5k. We happened to see them taking their last steps so, of course, cheering ensued.

The other runners in our group booked it too. Jason’s brother Jeremy finished quicker than he ever has before plus he bested my time, which I’m sure did his ego a favor. This was Jacob’s first race and although he wasn’t amazed by his performance he was surprised by how much he enjoyed the event. Good job R.A.C.ers! I will continue to expect great things from you. And good job self; I will continue to demand great things from you.

May you find strength in your stubbiness, oh legs of mine, and finish your races sooner than standard Rachel time!