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A half dozen halves

Good friends

I recently ran my 6th half marathon – a claim I never imagined writing, much less accomplishing. The race, Rosendale Runs organized by the Shawagunk Runners group, was essentially a rail trail course, with a couple of miles at the beginning on the road. It was my first time running this race and I really liked the course. There was basically only one hill, and it was very early on, making for a mellow 13+ miles.

Saturday races can be challenging from a practical point of view, especially when they’re out of town. This one worked out pretty well since I crashed at a friend’s place Friday and woke up in close proximity to the course, which was in Rosendale just north of New Paltz. It was a damp, cool morning and I was really glad I had tossed a hat in my bag because I definitely needed it.

What can you say about a half marathon? It was scenic, the runners and organizers were all pleasant and I felt pretty strong running the distance. There was a trestle bridge that offered beautiful views and the path we ran on was soft and wide making for ideal conditions other than in the muddy spots.

Good swag!

I’ve gotten a tad blasé about 1/2s, and have accepted the reality that I’m probably never going to break any speed records. Instead, I run them to push myself a bit and to gain a new experience. I was happy to share this one with a couple of friends and I’ll be checking to see if it fits in my schedule next year again. Maybe I’ll even run it a little faster.

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Filed under beauty, Exercise, friends, road trips, running, Uncategorized, upstate New York

Crockpot threesome

6F2B783B-C8A2-471F-8FD7-DB63188E79EA-2625-000001E94A7247BAI’ve fallen in love again with my crockpot. It started Friday morning when I tossed a chicken carcass, onions and carrots in, covered them in water and turned it on low. When I arrived at home after work, the house was fragrant and the chicken stock was ready. I strained it, refrigerated it overnight, skimmed the schmaltz off and had fresh chicken noodle soup in the time it took to cook egg noodles. It was the perfect meal after a rainy race.

Sunday morning, I sliced 3 lbs of onions and placed them in the crockpot with a generous knob of butter and a heavy drizzle of olive oil. The crockpot went on low and I let those onions cook all damn day, stirring them occasionally. The house smelled like heaven. Late in the afternoon, I added a quart of beef stock, salt and pepper and a good splash of port. (Sherry would work as well.) I let things continue cooking for another hour and then ladled some into a bowl, topped it with toasted bread and Swiss cheese (gruyère would have been even better) and placed it under the broiler to melt and brown cheese. Inexpensive, easy and delicious.

After receiving a bag of local apples over the weekend, my thoughts went to how in the world I could use them…applesauce! Sunday night I plugged the crockpot back in and added 8 or 10 peeled,* coarsely chopped apples, a 1″ piece of peeled ginger, brown sugar, cinnamon and about 3/4 cup of water. Again, turned it low and left it overnight to do its magic. Morning was particularly sweet – something we can all use on a Monday, especially the one we faced this week.

What are your favorite crockpot recipes? Do you have appliances that you’re inclined to date use seasonally?

*I partially peeled a few of them, leaving a bit of skin on for texture.

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Lunar b*tches do Las Vegas

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The lunar b*tches ran tonight and it was blissful. The air felt damp in a delicious way and we ran well, loose and comfortable. With two miles left, I tossed out Las Vegas and the massacre which occurred there today. Like our pace, our thoughts were in synch.

We wondered why those kind of weapons were made available to civilians? Why? How is it possible for a person to take 10+ weapons into a hotel without attracting notice? We talked about how, for God’s sake, gun violence was something we could actually do something about as a country. If we wanted to.

This perpetual state of “worst mass shooting in modern times” we’re living in, needs to end. How does the ability of an individual to possess enough weaponary to kill 58 people and be responsible for injuring more than 500 more, make anyone in the United States feel safer? Enough.

We have the power to change this. We can take control, through the legislative process and education, of the number of weapons allowed in our society. If we cared enough about what’s important, that is.

The reason we don’t direct our attention and efforts towards eradicating the problem our country has with gun violence is that there’s too much money to be made selling weapons and war. We’d rather profit from death than prevent it.

Tell me I’m wrong.

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Filed under DelSo, Exercise, friends, moms, musings, News, Observations, politics, Rant, running, Uncategorized

Dog days of summer


One of my favorite things about our most recent visit to the Cape was the fact that Jeter could come along. Actually, it was one of the criteria, along with an outdoor shower, that I considered to be a requirement when we were searching for a rental for the week. Hey, even a dog needs a change of scenery on occasion.

Bringing Jeter along was not without complication. Originally I thought I might snag the little cabin that was poised on a hill next to the main house, as my own for the week. Once I toured the space I knew it would be better suited to the preteens since the bed was up a ladder in a loft area. Jeter doesn’t do ladders, but he does like to sleep with me, so I picked a bedroom in the cottage instead.

We also had a nocturnal visit from the biggest damn raccoon I’ve ever seen. (S)he was attracted to Jeter’s airtight food bin and bowls, which I had set up on the screened in porch. It took a couple of days before the bandit made its move, but one night we were woken up by something really loud. Turns out the raccoon was attempting a break in – directly through the screen. By the time we figured out what was going on there was a decent sized hole in the screen directly above Jeter’s feeding station. Live and learn.

It isn’t always fun having a dog on vacation. I found that Jeter was really annoying at the ocean when we were with our entire gang of kids and adults. He just wanted to be a part of everything which meant sand everywhere, plaintive and relentless barking and generally being an annoyance. When I took him solo, though, he was fantastic. He settled in and was completely chill. I believe I even caught a cat nap with my dog snuggled next to me. He was a little tired, too, from all of the swimming he did.

Good walks, good swims, good sleeps, good dog.

 

 

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Filed under Cape Cod, family, friends, road trips, Summer, Uncategorized, vacation

Lighting up – smoking pot and being a white supremacist

The Washington Post had an interesting article last month about the prevalence of marijuana smoke in our country’s capital now that recreational marijuana use has been legalized. The aroma of marijuana is unexpectedly filling the air in neighborhoods considered to be conservative, places like Georgetown and “even in the suburbs of Bethesda.” The writer interviews a number of residents and there’s a lot of wondering about who these pot smokers are – have they been smoking weed all these years secretly? Where? Who are they? Pot smokers have come out of the proverbial closet to enjoy lighting up without shame or fear of prosecution. In a country that is increasingly decriminalizing marijuana consumption, some might call it progress.

When I originally read that story, I immediately thought of the increased occurrences of Americans spewing racist, bigoted, misogynistic and homophobic beliefs since Donald Trump became a resident of the White House.*  Violent, self-perceived victims have crawled out of the swamps and woods and from under the rocks where they’ve been hiding to flaunt their Nazi ideology and inflict damage upon those who reject their philosophy. What happened this weekend in Charlottesville is directly related to the principles of our current administration and while these domestic terrorists weren’t literally given consent to act upon their twisted and often downright evil beliefs, the leader of our country has tacitly with his policies (immigration, LGBT, permitted police response) deemed their actions as acceptable.

Well, you know what? It isn’t acceptable. It isn’t civilized. It isn’t what our country is about and it will not be swallowed like a hit from a bong. Demonstrate your lack of acceptance of Neo-Nazism TODAY, Sunday, August 13th at 5:00 at Townsend Park.  Get fired up and be there.

*See what I did here? I just can’t refer to him as the President.

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Eating Charleston – 5 bites

One of the most appealing things about Charleston is the food scene. It is very much a happening thing. There are an insane number of restaurants and the trend, like in many other places, is all about local products. This translates to lots of shrimp and crab, fresh produce and, of course, barbecue. In advance of my recent visit, other than a culinary tour for my first afternoon, I didn’t make any reservations for meals preferring instead to be spontaneous. See? I’m working on that, friends.

Here are my five favorite meals:

Look at those grits!

My warm cinnamon roll.

  • Breakfast at Hen and the Goat.* I found this place on Yelp and it sounded promising. What it actually was, though, was fantastic. It’s one of those places where you order at the counter and take a number to your table for food delivery. I ordered the Bill Murray – 2 eggs, ham, salsa, with cheese grits subbed for the home fries and a side of avocado because a girl needs her vegetables. The eggs were scrambled soft as requested and the grits were the best I’ve ever had – creamy, cheesy with zero grittiness. The ham was a tad salty for my taste, so I left some on the plate and rewarded myself with a cinnamon roll which was So Damn Good. Charleston and I were off to a good start.

That’s a half order.

Super fresh fruit bowl.

  • Next up – another breakfast out. This meal was my reward for an 11 mile bike ride to Folly Beach. Lost Dog Cafe had been recommended by my AirBandB host and I’ve got to say, he’s got good taste. The place was popping when I arrived but I nabbed a seat at the bar and was well taken care of. I had a half order of biscuits with sausage gravy and a beautiful bowl of fresh fruit. It was simple food, well prepared and exactly what I wanted. Well, almost exactly. I really wanted to try one of their heralded cinnamon rolls, you know, for scientific reasons, but I just couldn’t justify consuming another baked good. I should have eaten it – I still had an 11 mile bike ride home!

Simple and perfect.

  • One of my goals was to eat seafood and my friend Dora, from Fin, had spoken highly of 167 Raw on East Bay. The wait for a seat for one was about 45 minutes, but the time passed quickly with a nice Cremant and social fellow waiters. I was eventually seated next to another solo diner, Natalie from Brooklyn, and we spent a really nice hour or so chatting and slurping. I completely enjoyed my array of oysters, a second glass of wine and the conversation.

Pretty, right? Also pretty hard to eat!

A salad with a grilled peach? Yes, please!

  • S.N.O.B. (Slightly North of Broad) had been recommended by a number of people and I can understand why. It’s a pretty spot in an old warehouse with a nice bar, open kitchen and lots of windows facing the bustling street. I made my way here for a light dinner (an appetizer and a salad) at the bar and thought the food was really good. My single complaint was the attractive, yet highly impractical presentation of my crab, shrimp, avocado, heirloom tomato cocktail. Eating it delicately at the bar was a pain in the ass. Maybe I should have requested a fish fork? I don’t know, I just wanted to dump it all onto a plate. Call me a cretin.

I pretty much ate everything on this tray…

  • When the chef you work for tells you to go to a barbecue spot, you go. That’s how I found myself at Swig & Swine, a place that takes bar-b-q to a new level. The menu was a little intimidating with the meats sold by the half pound, but I took a minute and determined that ordering a brisket sandwich without bread was my best move. In place of bread, I added a second side selecting mac and cheese and cole slaw to accompany my beef. Damn, this place was fantastic. It was easily the tastiest, most tender brisket I’ve ever had and the sides were equally memorable.  Their beer and bourbon selections were pretty impressive, too.  I love a place that takes their work seriously, but retains a sense of humor and this spot definitely did that with their t-shirts proclaiming that they’ve been “Horrifying vegetarians since 2013.” Cool spot.

*This was the only place I made it to twice. Here’s the avocado toast (with an added fried egg or two) I thoroughly enjoyed when I stopped in for my second meal. Isn’t it beautiful?

Micro greens with a purpose – they really added to the dish.

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Finding peace (and pieces) on the road

One of the roads taken on this trip.

Do you ever have a day or two or three when it feels like you must be doing something right in your life? I mean, how else can you accept the good fortune that you’re experiencing? It almost makes a person believe that old adage about how if you’re happy inside, you’re happy everywhere you are. There’s no other way to explain the feeling of loving everywhere you go.

This trip has been remarkable. As I sat facing the charm of Rainbow Row, I had a hard time processing how lucky I’ve been in Charleston. The rain cooperated and only came at times that had no bearing at all on my activities. That’s saying something considering it rained 3 of my 5 days there. The people I’ve talked to have been friendly, the drinks cold and the food terrific. I scored parking each time I needed to and only hit legitimate traffic once – and that was on a draw bridge. It couldn’t have been a better solo trip.

You know, I didn’t grow up expecting to ever be in a position where I could indulge my itch to travel. I’ve come a long way since my first trip to Florida with one of my dearest friend’s family when I had $50 in my pocket, and that only because my brother gave it to me as I left our house. Along the way I learned to travel inexpensively, meals from grocery stores and delis, low budget accommodations, lots of self guided walking tours…you get it. It was good practice and I learned a lot.

Memories were made and I’m heading home with what feels like a new piece in place in my life’s mosaic.  What’s your next destination?

“So shut up, live, travel, adventure, bless and don’t be sorry”

– Jack Kerouac

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