Wordless Wednesday

Variations on Leap Day: Chickpea, Squash and Lentil Stew

I don't get out much these days, but last week I got to see a friend of mine star in a community theater production of 33 Variations.  In a nutshell, the play is about a musicologist with ALS studying Beethoven's Diabelli Variations, racing against time to complete her manuscript before she loses the ability to do so, while struggling to understand and communicate with her daughter.  She is baffled by Beethoven's interest in what she considers an insignificant, trifling theme, and pores over his manuscripts, trying to understand why he would invest so much time and energy in exploring and composing variations on a little waltz so beneath him.

In the end -- both of the play and of her life -- she realizes that Beethoven's approach to the theme -- writing an entire variation on the opening turn, the descending fourth and fifth, the repeated notes and so on -- is an attempt to warp time, slowing it down, exploding something that would take only 50 seconds into something that takes 50 minutes to play.  He can slow down time, by appreciating the minutiae that is usually lost in our rush to finish the waltz.  The gift of this understanding comes just soon enough for her to appreciate her last few moments with her daughter, and for her to pass on her insight to her and her boyfriend, who are about to embark on a new life together.

It's a beautiful play, heart-wrenching because the understanding comes so late, but hopeful, because of what the musicologist offers to us, the audience.  How many times have we wished we could stop the inevitable forward march of time?

Today is Leap Day.  The amazing calendar phenomenon that happens once every four years.  I once had a babysitter born on Leap Day, and though I was barely six at the time, I remember her joking that she was still a teenager, since her birthday only came every four years.  Lots of people apparently get married on Leap Day, because it's something really special.  If you celebrate a special occasion on Leap Day, you really savor it.  It's like a stolen day.

I was thinking about this and about the play yesterday afternoon, sitting outside with my daughter.  It was a beautiful afternoon, the first in a long time when it was light enough and warm enough to go outside after her afternoon nap, and we sat in the waning sunlight on the edge of the sidewalk, pulling blades of grass and turning them over in our fingers.  There were airplanes to look at, and people passing by walking dogs, and the occasional car going by.  And through my daughter's eyes, you could hold a year in every one of those moments.  The awe with which she saw things.  The newness.  The brightness and sharpness of sound and color.  The clarity.  So much of it is a blur for me, on any other afternoon.  Knowing that things may change again around here in the not so distant future, that the pace may quicken, I found myself feeling grateful for the minutiae.  The blades of grass.

Like a lot of lentil stews, you could easily see this as a blur of orange and brown.  But try to really taste it.  Find the lemon.  The garam masala.  The tomato.  The firmness of the chickpea.  It's almost meditative.  Maybe dinner will last a little longer than usual.  That's not such a bad thing.

Chickpea, Butternut Squash and Red Lentil Stew

2 t. cumin seeds (I used 1 t. cumin)
2-3 t. garam masala
1 T. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 c. red lentils
4 c. vegetable broth
1 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes
1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped into ¾ inch cubes
1 can chickpeas
juice of one lemon
salt and pepper to taste
small bunch of cilantro, roughly chopped (save some for garnish)

Heat a large pot and dry-fry the cumin and garam masala for about 30 seconds, until just fragrant.  Add the olive oil, onion, carrot, garlic and saute for 5 minutes, or until the onion and carrot are softened.

Stir in the lentils, stock, tomatoes and butternut squash, and bring to a boil. Simmer until the lentils are cooked, about 20 minutes.

Stir in the chickpeas, lemon juice and salt/pepper to taste, heat gently. Remove from heat and stir in the cilantro. Serve with a garnish of cilantro.

Luckily it's digital.

I took a couple of photos yesterday, so today I popped my memory card into the computer to view them. I had taken 8 or 9 pictures, but I saw "229 files found".

What the heck?

Well, there were 9 photos I recognised, and 220 I didn't recognise. Here is a random sampling of the latter:

I love this kid.
Translation Tuesdays - THE POOL

THE POOL (noun)

Normal Definition
A fun place to lay around, read a book, float around, get a tan, check out girls/boys, drink a fruity drink with an umbrella, etc.

Examples of "The Pool"
  • After breakfast lets go hang out at the pool and read a book.  Maybe we can get some pina coladas.

Normal Visual Example

Triathlete Meaning:
A place where one spends hours swimming back and forth staring at a blue line wondering when the madness will end.

No more stupid laps!!

Hours starting at a blue line and trying to figure out how to count all the tiles.

What I loved best...

Last Friday we had another women's church basketball game.  THIS time, my daughter came with me and played with us!!!  It was her first time even playing basketball and she kicked it!  Of course, she was the youngest so no wonder she could cruise down the court.  
It really MADE MY DAY to have her come share that with me.  
That is what I loved best last weekend!!

And we WON!!!  We had an hour of practice, an hour of a game, then another hour of a scrimmage with another team since their rivals did a no show so we played them.
Three hours of basketball and I was in heaven!  

I also got a NEW super cool PINK ball.  
How uber super duper KEWL is that!!! 
Gotta love it!

Saturday was supposed to be my long run... but I failed.  I never did go run.  
Mostly because I was swamped with my work all weekend.  Sunday my body gave out and I spent the whole day recuperating.  

So today I did go running this morning.  It has been 4 days since I had run last and I did NOT want to loose the stamina I've gained so far.
 I ran for almost an hour!  

And I am happy to report that it didn't kill me!  Yay!  I am starting to enjoy my solitary runs with my ipod and thoughts to myself... as long as it's outside!  (Running alone on the treadmill is the absolute MOST boring.)

I passed several pastures of horses.  I would look over and here's this horse just standing there staring at me.   So I waved to him and smiled.  The horse just continued to stare - I could not tell what he was thinking, but he did turn his head as I passed.  Do you think he realizes I'm being friendly?
I like horses!  I want them to like me! :)  

Well, this is my quick note for today.  
Trying to get over the small heartaches which trouble me and 
hold on to awesome stuff that really matters!!
Life is GOOD!  

Weekend Ramblings

Bike Ride

This weekend I finally got back on the road bike.  I've been slacking on the bike because the FL running weather has been so great for the past couple of months.  Pretty soon the temperatures will be in the high 90s and running will be a really chore but biking will be really nice. 

Getting back on the bike was well... like riding a bike.  My pace started off too fast but then leveled out to about 18 mph.  I road for 2:30 hours and went about 42 miles.  I am in the power building phase of my gym route so my legs are like jello.  The wind was also very gusty and I am not a wind rider.  I got off the bike and then ran 4 miles.  My legs were bricks for the first 2 miles then want into autopilot.

I need to hit the bike hard this weekend.  My Clermont race (super hilly) is coming up in about 50 days.  Last year this course kicked my butt but the temperatures were in the feels like 100-110F.  This year the moved the race up a few months so hopefully it will not be so hot.  I am starting to get scared of how well I will do on the bike due to my slacking.  I need a good ride to boost my confidence.

Tesla Concert

On Thursday I went to the Tesla concert and "rocked out."  The show was mostly all acoustic and the band sounded great.  They were always one of my favorite bands in the 90's.

Bad iphone photo

A little older and a little wider but the same amount of hair.

NBA Jams

The NBA Allstars weekend was here in Orlando so for the average "non-sports guy" it just means there is A LOT more traffic in town.  But it does bring in a ton of money so it is good for the town. 

Bonnie and I took Triston the NBA Jams convention on Sunday.  There were a ton of games and activities for people of all ages.  He had a blast playing all the games and slamming the ball on the 7 foot rims.  We got free tickets for a 5K race they did on Saturday for a charity. 

While Triston was playing I was messing around with the photographers. :-)

The light!! It burns!!

Bonnie is not good at sharing the spotlight.
The lights hit my eyes just right and the dots look like cartoon eyeballs. LOL

Cool entrance to the show.

My size 11s pale in comparison.
Girls, please no comments.

In space no one can hear me scream.
I was the only one who's photo came out blurring every time.
I must be a vampire.

Huey in collected canter

Here are Huey and me working on collected canter in a lesson a couple weeks ago. He's never going to have spectacular gaits, but I like how he looks here. I have to walk a fine line between playing with his mouth enough to keep him loose but not so much that he drops his poll and wither.

Pueblo Rez

Back in my previous life, I spent a fair amount of time on the saddle.  Wintertime can be tough for a Front Range fat tire guy, so a trick we used to have was the "go to Pueblo" trick.  When trails were snowed in for the season in the Springs, Colorado's banana belt remained rideable.

Given the news that the Mesa Trail double crossing wasn't going to happen due to crappy trail, I decided to pull that old biking trick out of the hat again.  I was still wrecked from Wednesday's Incline fiasco but knew it was time to put in some mileage, so flat and warm sounded great.  20ish miles, 3 hours.

MUDDY sections here and there

An odd sight for Colorado.

Lots of cliffy, bluffy terrain here.

"Voodoo Loop" part of the trail
Hitting these trails definitely brought back a hankering to do some single speed riding this summer.


Ok, it's been a few weeks since I graced ya with my ramblings due to the fact that I don't like to blog after every 'event', it's too bigger infringement on my precious evenings which are better spent pretending to be a connoisseur of fine wines. It'd be rather hypocritical of me anyway as I don't condone the actions of those folk who blog about every silly fucking event that happens to them in their lives... Do these folk REALLY think that their ''readers'' actually give a flying fuck about what they had for breakfast, lunch, tea & supper as well has having their eyes poisoned by insidious shite mundane birding drivel.
Anyway, for anyone still reading, I'll now scrawl a brief write-up of the rest of the month........................

So, following the epic(?) Scarborough fail on the 11th, the 12th saw Rich 'The Giant' Challands, Mikipedia & I meetng our guide for the day, Dicky Collis, in the ghettos of Doncaster. The day was a triumphant success in comparison to the previous day with our guide giving us a stunning, eloquent and linguistically perfect running commentary on the history of South Yorkshire has we drove between sites. Highlights during the day were two Woodcocks & three LEO's at a sight of none specific interest. A female Ring-necked Duck gave awful views as it dreamt of warmer climes and just over the border in Lincs we looked at 11 'Tundra' Beans & 9 Bewicks. We concluded our day adding Little Owl to our year lists at Huggin Carr (after a pretty nifty tip off from one of Dickys 'contacts').

Above - Our esteemed guide can be seen gaining some crucial gen for his punters

The next event has already been over-blogged, so in order not to repeat the nonsense that's already been posted all over the galaxy, I'll just say that, along with many other fools, The Giant, Mikipedia, The Reverend Kinghorn, Archie Archer & myself made the pilgrimage to add a snazzy, sparklingly citrus coloured american warbler to our lists. This we did successfully, eventually! We also collected that Lesser Scaup and tame Whooper at Cosmeston but dipped the proper location of a Bonapartes Gull! My year list now stood at 150 and I couldn't give a fuck (I've added that bit now so that come December 31st and I end up with a proper shite total, I can delete this sentence and then direct you back to this post where you'll see that I wasn't that bothered to start with! Clever hey!)

Below is a small collection of faces & scenes from the Common Yellowthroat excursion.

The assembled troops actively search for their quarry....... dream on!

The Reverend, The NoseBag & The Godfather

Anxious faces eh!

Mikipedia celebrating with a mouthful of Fizzy Haribos - too fizzy!?

The Reverend was so exhausted he had to have emergency Ribena administered

On Tuesday 21st Feb, 15 minutes after arriving home from a laborious day of employment, I was stood at my open bedroom window, gazing over my kingdom, when I suddenly became aware of the local Rooks giving it some noise. A new addition to my 'Birds seen from my bedroom window' (and my UK year list) was being rattled by corvids as it made its way quickly NW - Short-eared Owl! Another addition to aforementioned list arrived in the shape of a 1st w. male Reed Bunting on the morning of the 23rd.

On the 26th, I finally filled a Bean Goose sized gap on my Notts list! Bean Goose. Me, The Giant & Lester Allcock were enroute for the three birds that had been found at Budby at 8am but they flew off east before we arrived. Fortuitously, a 'Road Closure' forced me to take a different route than planned and being east of Budby now, I casually pulled into a layby that offered abit of a panoramic view. T'was here I noticed some geese in the distance grubbing about under some cattle. Mainly Greylags and a scattering of Canadas but a closer inspection, revealed three Beans and a Pink foot! They were then flushed by a closer tresspassing birder but I managed to relocate them again futher east on Thoresby Lake! A case of pure jam if there ever was one! At Welbeck Raptor Watchpoint a pair of Goshawks showed off as they displayed over the woods &onto the year list and at Warsop the now resident escaped White Stork was given some undeserved attention as it poked about in a horse paddock.

Right, I think that's us about done for now. Thanks for coming. See ya in March. x


Thursday night was lesson night! The boys are coming along so well! Huey and I worked some travers in canter. I haven't really schooled this on him so he was somewhat perturbed. "Why would you want me to do THAT? I think a flying change is called for," was his response at first. A little bucking was the next response. Then he settled and we got a few nice lines in each direction. Poor man is such an overachiever -- if he would just wait and really listen, none of these movements are even hard for him. It's just that TB brain of his. But I do love me a TB brain, so we'll get there eventually. We also worked trot shoulder-in to diagonal to shoulder-in and he was a rock star. By far the biggest improvement over the last year is Huey's increased ability to quickly re-focus after a meltdown, without absolutely requiring a free walk to gather his thoughts.

A couple weeks ago, Camilla was schooling some jumps on Flash, and as they came across the diagonal into a corner, Flash just up and switched leads, neat as a pin. So Camilla and her two trainers (Carrie Ann in jumping and Leslie in dressage) have decided to go ahead and begin working on changes with Flash. At the lesson Thursday night, Leslie had Camilla start with, on the long side, true canter, trot, counter canter, trot, true canter. Flash was very obedient in this exercise. After a couple lines, Camilla asked for a flying change, but every time Flash sneaked a trot step into it. He's too smart for his own good.

Next they put Flash on a 20-meter circle in counter-canter, which blew his mind. He got all discombobulated, legs flying every which way. Good thing Camilla has an eventer's seat! Flash did switch in front a couple times on the circle, but he seemed claustrophobic about the exercise.

Finally, they tried good old-fashioned changes across the diagonal, and in this exercise at first Flash kept the counter-canter around the short side; then he started switching behind in the corner and switching in front after three or four strides. Then there was a diagonal where he absolutely launched himself at the ceiling, and Leslie and I were so sure he was going to switch, but he faked himself out! Finally, on the next diagonal he offered a lovely, clean, exuberant change, and then it was walk, long rein, lots of praise! What a good boy.

I love watching a horse be introduced to flying changes. You can often really see the wheels turning as they try to figure out what's being asked for. And it's so interesting to see which exercise finally results in that little light bulb between their ears!

What Was I Thinking? (And a Winner!)

So remember that one time that I signed up to run a 100 mile race? And remember that I posted a super awesome training plan? And remember that towards the end, I was going to have to do some CRAZY LONG RUNS?? Well. This week was MADNESS.

Sunday - Austin Marathon
Monday - No run (I moved it out one day)
Tuesday - 6 miles
Wednesday - 6 miles
Thursday - 24 miles
Friday - 30 miles

I. RAN.  ALL. THAT. All those miles. Everything but the Austin marathon was done on a treadmill. That's a LOT of iTunes. Anyway, I am super proud of myself for completing all that running. Next week is actually my PEAK mileage week. And then... taper. I'm back to 20ish mile weeks. I don't even know what to do with that. My lowest mileage week was about three months ago, at 40. MIND BLOWING.

Anyway... a winner!

And the winner is... Abbi, from Higher Miles! Shoot me an email with your address and I'll mail out the YMX shirt asap! I hope you love it as much as I do!

You Can't Go Home Again: (Not) Irish Soda Bread

Maybe it's because I live passionately.  Because when I put myself into something, I give 200%, so when it's over, it's like I've created a black hole.  Maybe it's because I am an emotional person.

Whatever it is, I have left some cities on bad terms.

In the middle of graduate school, it was LA.  I was the first in my class to take my comprehensive exams.  I prepared for them for months, nun-like in my devotion.  The day arrived; it went horribly.  I had three professors on my committee: an older conservative male writing his magnum opus, a recently tenured modernist powerhouse male, and a young feminist.  They used me as a pawn to have an argument about what was important in literature, and I didn't perform.  The end came, and I waited outside, in tears.  The feminist came out and told me that they passed me "in spite of" my performance, because they knew I was ready to advance.  I, on the other hand, knew I was ready to leave.  I haven't been back in over twelve years.

More recently, my last position.  A bad situation, after twelve years of earning accolades.  To this day, I have only driven back to that city once, and then, to its outskirts.

Until the other day.

I had occasion to go back to the city today, to campus, for a meeting.  Some consulting work, you might say.

It's a weird thing, to go back to a place like that, where you've left on bad terms.  You feel a strange longing for its familiarity; you know its secrets, its shortcuts, its back alleys.  You look for the things that have changed in your absence, surprised that it could go on without you, wishing it had all stayed the same.  And yet, at the same time, you are thankful for the emotional distance, and you still feel a little sick in the pit of your stomach, finding yourself back there.  You feel relief, passing through, knowing that this is just a visit, not a forever-stay; that this place is no longer yours.  That you know where you don't belong, and that you have somewhere else to go.  Maybe you feel defiance.  With any luck, you feel peace.

I know I can't go home again to the places I've left.  Even if I left them on better terms, I am a different person, and they've changed, too.  And that's not a bad thing.  We've created ourselves anew.

The Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread (with thanks to JeCaThRe for posting that link last year) would have us all make it the way it was always made, not the way the grocery stores make it for St. Patrick's Day.  There were no eggs or sugar or raisins or baking powder in those breads.  They were brown breads, made with everyday ingredients.

But the damage has been done, and most people now think of Irish Soda Bread as that sweet cake-like bread with the raisins that you get at the bakery in March, even if it's actually Spotted Dog or Railway Cake that they're eating.

You can't go home again.  We can't turn back the clock and pretend that the name of this bread hasn't been co-opted.  But if we don't want to make plain brown bread, we can come to some middle ground, and make peace.

This isn't really Spotted Dog or Railway Cake, because it doesn't have sugar and eggs and all of the other things that make it more like cake; it may have raisins, but at least it's closer to what they had in mind over at the Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread.  Hopefully my Irish friends will forgive me.

Have you ever left a city on bad terms?  Have you gone back?  Where do you fall on the Irish Soda Bread debate?

(Not) Irish Soda Bread

3 cups (12 oz) of white flour
1 cup (4 oz) of wheat flour
1 1/3 c. buttermilk (pour in a bit at a time until the dough is moist)
1 t. of salt
1 1/2 t. baking soda*
3/4 c. raisins
 * if you are cheating and using baking powder, I found that 3/4 t. baking soda and 3/4 T. baking powder will also work

Soak the raisins in warm water for 5-10 minutes; drain well.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

Sift all of the dry ingredients into a large bowl and mix well to combine.  Add raisins and mix to coat.

Add the buttermilk to form a sticky dough. Place on floured surface and lightly knead (too much allows the gas to escape).  Shape into a round flat shape, place on parchment, and cut a cross in the top of the dough.

Bake for 45-55 minutes.  Your bread will be done when it sounds hollow if you tap it on the bottom.  Cool and serve with a generous slather of butter!

The Run that Almost Wasn't

Yesterday was a run day and I got myself ready before I could consider not going and was out the door quickly.  What I didn't realize UNTIL I was out the door was how FREEZING cold it really was.  The air was crisp and clean and the sky wasn't completely overcast, however, there were tiny little flurries of snow, almost invisible.  The wind whipped my face frozen in seconds.  No one was venturing out of their houses.  That is, no one but me!

I pulled my hood up over my head and it wouldn't stay as the wind just brought it down, but I began my little chant "I can do this - It's not so hard - I've done this before".  I was about five houses down when I realized that I was going to FREEZE and DIE!  So I turned around and began jogging back thinking about going straight down to that treadmill.  Secretly, I knew I was kidding myself and I would end up NOT running at all that day.  Too cold, perfect excuse.

But somehow when I got to my house, I just kept running the other way down the street.  Somehow, I kept going and held the hood on my head with one hand.  I was thinking I was crazy because more than anyone, I HATE to be COLD!!  Amazingly it became tolerable and it's like Heavenly Father took the edge off of the cold for me.  It wasn't so bad.  I ran a completely different route through residential areas, gravel pathways, paved pathways, up and down streets, and down a back dirt road... until it had been almost 50 minutes and then I allowed myself to get home.

I amazed myself that I persevered.  Truth be told, there are many times when I DON'T overcome my obstacles.  But when I do... Those are the ones I need to remember!  
Those are the only ones that count!!

We have to look for things to boost ourselves up with... because there will always be things to beat ourselves down with.  At least that's how I am.  
So for yesterday... BOOYA!

Just also wanted to show these cute earrings Sandrelle gave me.  
The woven part are hair strands from Takoda.... who will always be my 

Inspiration: Sweet Shop Theme

I have been asked to do a Dessert table for a christening.
As the table is for older children and a mixture of boys and girls, the client asked for bright colours in a sweet shop style.
I already have a good idea in my head about which way the design is going to go.
So I thought I would share some of my favourite Sweet shop style dessert tables with you.
Don't you just love the way they balance the pastels colours with a pop of red?

                                                                        Karas Party Ideas

I can't wait to show you all the finished table, I am super excited about this one.
Watch this space.
Natty xxxx

WORLD'S STUPIDEST MARATHON (yes, all caps necessary)

When one Googles World's Toughest Marathon, the search results produce a pretty short list. The Pikes Peak, Everest, Inca Trail, Antarctica, and Sahara marathons are usually are mentioned in the same breath.  One glance at all of them and any astute observer can pick out the common denominator - WTFish terrain or conditions.  (the 4 non-American marathons could all be classified as destination marathons that could be a lot tougher than they are.  i.e. Everest starts at base camp and descends to 11,000'.  Antarctica isn't even in the dead of winter)

I will make this bold statement - The Inclinathon will be the most difficult marathon in the world.  That is, of course, if someone actually completes it.

Brandon has set a date and has welcomed any and all brave souls to participate in this event:  13 trips up and down the Manitou Springs Incline.  Total elevation gain of ~26,000'.  Total loss of ~26,000'.

I made the mistake of agreeing to participate in part of his attempt.  Hell, if he's gonna make 13 trips, what's 6 or 7, right?  Last night, I thought it would be prudent to give a try at just a few laps, maybe 3 or so.  You know, just to get an idea of what to expect.

I now expect carnage.

36:15:  While the very vertical nature of the incline makes it nearly impossible to "go easy", I did my best to throttle down.  The incline is kind of like your old college bar.  It's strangely familiar when you go back, and you're guaranteed to run into the "regulars."  Sure enough, the two people I expected to see were coming down on my first trip up.
Lets do this

55:33 (19:18):  I remember when one trip down these stairs would wreck me for a week.  My quads held up pretty well this time.
All good so far...

1:29:44 (34:11):  Some random dude got behind me at the bottom and wouldn't pass.  This was the easiest trip up for some reason.

1:50:23 (20:39):  The novelty had worn off.  I just wanted to get to the bottom so I could finish up my last lap.  Quads started to do some serious work.
Two fingers to signify two trips, right?

2:23:53 (33:30):  The desire to just be done with this had finally taken over.  Darkness had set in, but the lights of El Paso County gave me all the visibility I needed.  I pushed the last few minutes pretty hard.  Relieved to be done with the "hard" part, I then began my last descent.

2:52:13 (28:20):  One step into the last trip down, I discovered just why 13 trips will be insane.  My legs turned to absolute jelly.  Managing to stay upright became the #1 goal.  Whereas I could take some jogging steps down the first two trips, I was reduced to crawling over obstacles on my last descent.
...and most importantly, the last trip

I can wrap my head around 13 ascents in a day.  I definitely felt another couple of climbs in me.  The way back down, though...that is the killer.  It shows clearly in my splits - each time up got faster, but each trip back down got progressively slower.  Yuck.  Maybe one can become specifically trained for this.  Still.  I'd like to think that I'm somewhat adapted to handle the rigors of steep descents, and three rounds killed me.  Maybe, maaaaaybe, I could pull off four or five trips down without ruining an entire season. 

I will say this:  If Brandon - or ANYONE - completes 13 round-trips of the Incline, I think he can legitimately lay claim to completing the toughest marathon in the world.  I hereby declare a theoretical winning time of 18 hours.

Product Review: SportCount 90010 Swim Lap Counter/Timer

Product Review: SportCount 90010 Swim Lap Counter/Timer

 SportCount 90010 Swim Lap Counter/Timer.

If you are like me you will find yourself more often than not at the local gym swimming for 45 - 60 minutes. During this time you try to come up with creative forms of entertainment or really stupid ideas (see Translation Tuesdays). Another item you try to tackle is how to count your laps. I’ve see many creative ways of trying to accomplish this task but my newest secret is the SportCount 90010 Swim Lap Counter/Timer.

This little gem I got for a Christmas present. It’s small, waterproof and easy to use. It is basically a ring that you wear on your index finger. You then use your thumb to click the rubber button to count each lap. It is also water resistant up to 50 meters

Using the swim counter could not be easier. It only has one button. Hold down the button for about 5 seconds to turn on the watch. You then click once to start the timer and then each click after that serves as a lap counter. My only issue is remembering to click the lap counter after each lap but I am more concerned about total swim time then number of laps. You can see a demo of it here

The display is crystal clear and easy to read (even underwater). As you swim the display will show your total swim time. When you click the lap button the display will change to show you your current number of laps. This will show for about 5 seconds. After that time it will show you your last lap time. After about 5 seconds the display will go back to showing your total swim time. When done swimming hold down the watch for about 5 seconds and then the watch will show you your fastest, slowest and average lap time.

This little watch could also be useful as a lap counter and timer for other sports (like running laps on the track, transitions times, etc). The simpler (counter only model 90040) I could find useful in applications where you have to do a lot of counting. I had to count thousands of fish, insects, bugs, etc during my field biology days and this gem would have been a god sent. It would have saved me the time of tick marking each item and would be waterproof it would not get destroyed it in the rain, lake, stream, etc.

My only complaints are the following:

1) The many models of the watch can cause some confustion when ordering. (See here for a comparison). I have the Combination SportCount (90010). I would also recommend getting that model or the SportCount Chrono 100 (90000). 

2) The model I have lacks a pause feature. This would be VERY useful. The Chrono 100 does have a pause feature but it cost $10 more and at $49 it’s too expensive for me.

3) The little watch costs $29 which seems a little pricey considering how cheap it is to make watches these days. My mother-in-law bought me the present and laughed that she paid so much for something so small that looks like it came out of a Cracker Jack box. But I have used it enough to make it worth the cost. It is well constructed and designed.

4) SportCount’s website looks very amateurish (unprofessional) so if you are unfamiliar with the product you could be turned away prematurely.  Also their email address is with an AOL.com domainThat is a big no-no turn off.  Real unprofessional since you already own the domain name just add an email address under that domain name. 

5) Sometimes I wish the last lap time would show up quicker after you register the lap.

Overall, I have to say I love my new gadget. It works just as advertised. I now know how long I’ve been swimming, how many laps I have completed and how long it took to complete the lap (and other useful information). I would highly recommend the product.


This is a picture of John P. after he spent three full days typing new listings into this site and slowly uploading photos.  No, it's really JP at Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Fest.  Photo by Phoebe Gloeckner.

LORD LOVE A DUCK.  My brains are digitized from adding all the new stuff to this site over the last few days. Folks, I've got over FORTY new titles in stock!  Including amazing stuff from Marc Bell, Lisa Carver, Matthew Forsythe, Mike Bertino, Mark Connery, Jesse McManus and Austin English, Jon Brodowski, Kelly Froh, Jo Dery, Charles Forsman, Ethan Rilly, Jed McGowan, Carrie McNinch, Chris Wright, Greg Means and Nicole Georges, Amy Lockhart, KuĊ , PLUS: the entire LIVING THINGS series from Little Otsu, the new amazing MINESHAFT, and how could I forget YOU ARE A CAT!

ALSO:  SOOPER CHEAP PRICES on some classic comics:  Tatsumi's A Drifting Life, Hotwire #2, Tom Gauld's The Gigantic Robot, The Complete Jack Survives, all priced to move!

Please check out the catalog by clicking the links to your left, and let me know if you want any of these amazing comics.  It's a joy to get them to you!

John P.

An Amazing Day... A Check Off My Bucket List!

Monday was an incredible day for us.  I had the wonderful opportunity to meet an on-line blogger buddie in real life.  I met Sandrelle who has lost a lot of weight and maintained that loss for a few years.  I have been reading her blog, Keeping it off, for over a year and was THRILLED to meet her.  She really is just as beautiful and sweet as you see on her blog!
And not only that, she let me ride her beautiful horse, Takoda!!
This was something I listed on my bucket list of things to do now that I’ve lost my weight and actually can!  
It was an amazing experience!

First, we got to help brush him while he stood in a stall.  He was so patient and sweet.  My daughter was already asking me for her own horse!  Then we put the saddle on him and Sandrelle coached me on how to mount him.  I was a little nervous and when I finally did - I almost felt like I’d fall off.  I mean, this is a moving animal!  But I got used to him quickly and I couldn’t stop smiling.  I was able to walk and even trot with him.  It was kind of surreal... like riding the roller coaster for the first time!

She took us outside and I got to try riding him while  holding the reigns myself.  How FABULOUS is that?  
My daughter also got a chance to ride him and loved it.

I can see why Sandrelle has a passion for horses!  She rode him after we did and showed us all the commands he can do.  It was cool to watch.  And my kids and I enjoyed feeding him carrots after all the riding. He takes them right from our hands and was so gentle not to make us think he’d bite us.  He could even play ball with us by rolling it to us with his nose. Right before we left, Sandrelle gave me some very beautiful and unique earrings she made that included some of Takoda’s woven blond hairs.  How sweet it that!!  
I went running outside yesterday by myself... I almost didn’t and by the time I made myself run it was almost noon!  But the air was crisp and it felt good.  I didn’t feel as energetic as I did on my long run last Saturday and I actually felt some little aches in my ankles and knees within a minute of running.... BUT.... I told myself “It’s not that hard - I can do this - I’ve done this before!”.  I even went running UP A HILL - you know, that mountain I said I’m going to climb this summer?  I jogged a tiny ways up it until the pavement stopped and had a gorgeous view of our valley.  As I was finishing my run, I actually felt better and the aches went away... strange, and I even could pick up my pace a bit.  
It pays to STICK WITH IT.

I ended up running 3.12 miles.  So now I can run 3 miles fairly well... without killing myself.  That feels pretty good!!
In just a few weeks, my daughters and I are taking a girl trip to Oregon!  YAY!!  We have been saving and planning for this for months.  I always thought it would be cool when my daughters got older to have gal trips with them and I am so excited for this.  It’s fun to have them older and I hope we all will get along blissfully!!  ;)  

I don’t know if our Oregon friends are as excited about us coming - as we are to see them - but it will be a great memory!
Take care, my friends!!  
Life is GOOD  
xoXOxo ~Margene