Thursday, December 28, 2006

A Book for Monkey

I used to be a snoop when it came to Christmas presents. Curiosity would get the best of me and I just couldn't take it. My sister and I would hunt through the house looking for presents. Then my parents caught on and started locking them up. So we resorted to unwrapping and re-wrapping the gifts. They caught on to this as well and my dad would take hours to painstakingly wrap the gifts so precise and with as little tape as possible, so any extra crease or added tape would be noticed.
When Marc and I started living together I carried on my snooping until I realized it was just too easy, the game was over. He never hid what he got me very good, if at all, and then the surprise would be ruined. Not that the surprise wasn't ruined before, but the stealthness just made it so much fun. So then I'd bug him and ask him questions to get hints of what it was, anything to peak my curiosity. But he'd practically tell me. So again, I had to stop this as well. Eventually he broke me of my snooping and questioning and now it's too the point that if I think he's about to tell me something, I tell him "stop, don't tell me, I don't want to know".
Well this year Marc not only kept it a secret, but he managed to totally surprise me. I did get some bike stuff, which I figured I would as he was just asking too many questions about what I was thinking of getting. However, the other part to my gift was a book. Not just any book, but an actual hardback book written and put together by him. It's a photo documentary of my season this year. It is the coolest thing ever. He said it took him 2 weeks to put together. He would stay up after I went to bed and work on it. If I popped back downstairs or into the room, he said he'd have to quickly change screens to hide it. I just thought he was telling me to go to bed early because I looked tired and needed some extra sleep, but apparently I was just in the way.
Anyway, Marc got it done and said he had a terrible time waiting to give it to me, but he managed without a peep. It it the coolest, most creative, most thoughtful one ever. He's so awesome! And who would have thought he could have topped the envelope full of money he gave me last year (yes, that really was my present).

Thursday, December 21, 2006

It's Been Finalized

I received a call from Ethan informing the title to book VII will be, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows". He read this on CNN of all places. However, still no word as when the book will be released.

203 days until "Order of the Phoenix"

Monday, December 18, 2006

Traveling With Dumb and Dumber

I have found myself in a sort of lull lately. I haven't blogged, I haven't checked my email except for about once a week. I've gotten out and ridden some, but I feel as I don't have a purpose. It's taken me a bit to get a handle on it. Basically cross is over. There were times through November when I was looking forward to the end of the season. Being able to have a life back, actually having time to play my guitar, get into the holiday season and what not in the place of just work, ride, eat and sleep. However, now that it's here I already miss it.
We just got home from Nationals today. It was a long and tiring weekend. We went up early so we could try to see a little of Providence. We were in Providence last year for 4 days and all we did was eat there one night. Through years of going to races I've been all over the Northeast coast primarily. But it's basically all the same. I can tell what the park looked like, or what the weather was like. I couldn't tell you anything about the actual town. This year, we left late Wednesday so we could walk around some Thursday before all the racing began. Marc, Ethan and I just strolled around town aimlessly just taking it in. We stopped at a local deli and grabbed a bite before heading off to pre-ride the course and help set up the compound. It was a good day.
Friday, Saturday, and Sunday were all about the races. The days flew by watching everyone try their hardest in their respective races. Some racers were disappointed due to the more mild weather we had this year. It was around the 50's each day and no rain. The course was dry and super fast. I did not share their disappointment. Though I can understand why it would be to their advantage if it were sloppier. I was much happier with the warmer and drier weather.
There were many high and low points to the weekend. I'm really bad at remembering all everything, and I know Marc will go into them in much more detail. Basically, everyone busted their ass and did the best they could do and it was amazing to watch. Overall it was a great wrap up to an awesome season. I'm already counting the days until next year's.

Marc relaxing prior to his pre-lap. And yes, he is sporting the trucker mustache.

Marc taking the inside line around the tree.

I felt something bumping into me while I was watching the race. I turned around to see this green guy. Not sure what he is. Kinda freaky. Amy wasn't as freaked out by him as I was.

Betsy, Amy, Fitzy and I cheering one of the races.

Betsy flying by in the elite race before getting a flat.

Katie at the start of the elite race.

I just thought this was cool. That's Marc up towards the top of the hill. This was several laps in and they're still all packed together.
This is an ice rink in the center of Providence.

Inside Providence Place. It's a giant mall around 4 or so stories tall. It is neat to see. But still a mall.

The infield of the course. A bit going on. I didn't see much of it. Too much other stuff to see.

Every chilling inside the compound.

And finally, but not least, the mullet. Yeah, Ethan with the mullet and Marc sporting the trucker were my traveling companions for the weekend.
Oddly enough, this wasn't the only mullet we saw. However, it was the only one with racing stripes.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Harry Potter to Curious George

Back in the Spring my sister and her kids were over the house for dinner. I was trying to cook something that wasn't going too well, so dinner wasn't exactly on time. In order to help keep the kids entertained we turned on the TV and in flipping through the channels we happened upon Harry Potter. My nephew Jake, who was not quite 3 at the time, sat mezmorized watching the movie. From that day forward he loved Harry Potter and he wanted to watch it constantly.
My sister doesn't really like him watching too much TV, so I figured I'd try to help and burn Jake the soundtrack so he could listen to it instead of watching the movie all the time. Well, the CD turned out to be a little bit of a challenge at first. He was very excited when Jen announced that they'd get to listen to Harry on the way to school in the car. She popped the disc in and the music started and Jake asked very confused, "where's Harry". He wasn't putting it together that a CD is different then a DVD and he wanted to know where the screen was. Jen tried to explain it to him and he eventually understood. He then would ask to listen to his music Aunt Di got him all the time, to and from school. Plus, he still wanted to watch the movie when he got home. So now my poor sister, who doesn't even like Harry Potter, is totally encased in it. She couldn't escape it. She started telling fibs to Jake that she forgot his music at home when they'd be on the way to school, but then mysteriously she'd play it on the way home. He never questioned it.
Last week I figured that the Harry music was such a hit that I'd burn him another CD. This time it was Jack Johnson and Friends from the Curious George soundtrack. Jake had never heard of Curious George. It was just the music, I didn't give him a movie nor did he see it. I just told him I had some more music for him.
The other day I get a call from Jen and I asked is she had played Jake's new CD yet. She replied with "oh, yes". Apparently they were on the way to school and she had popped in his new music and Jake says out of no where, "mommy, I think I want Santa to bring me the Curious George movie for Christmas". I think I'm ruining my nephew. Now he thinks all music have a movie that go with them. Jen hasn't banned me from giving him any more music yet though. She said at least it's better than the music they actually make for kids. She said she got one once a while back, popped it in one day and about lost her mind listening to "the wheels on the bus". She said that one got lost really quick.

(222 days until Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix)

Friday, December 01, 2006

Secret Santa

I had to run some errands today after work. At work we're doing this secret Santa thing where not only do you not know who you are receiving the gift from, but you also don't know who you are giving it to. This has made it a little hard to shop. I do have a little to go on, as a couple weeks ago we all had to send in a list of 3 things we like and one thing we don't. The first time we did this we all sent in actual items we like and dislike as we thought it was going to be a secret Santa thing. Then we were told that wasn't what we were doing and we were to put our actual likes and dislikes. It was going to be part of some kind of get to know your co-workers thing. So we all re-dis it and then found out it was a secret Santa thing, only now we all have these really crazy lists. When they gave me my person I got a list that said they like to travel, cook and work in the yard and they dislike coconut. So I've been wracking my brain as to what to get.
After some discussion with a couple of my co-workers (which we weren't supposed to be doing) we decided a cook book would be a good idea. So I headed off to Borders. I haven't been there for a while, so I was looking forward to going. Upon entering the store I glanced briefly at the new release table before heading over to the cooking section. I stopped dead in my tracks. To my surprise the new release was a new Michael Crichton book. I stopped and picked it up. I love his books. I first read one of his books by accident. I had picked up "Rising Sun" when I was looking for "A Raisin In the Sun". I've been hooked ever since.
So after grabbing the book I head off again towards the cooking section. I keep glancing at the new release tables as I go by and I see another book that sparks my interest. Now I have two books for me and none for my person. All I can hear in my head is my mom saying "you're supposed to be shopping for other people not yourself". I'm the worst Christmas shopper.
Finally I make it to the cooking section and I peruse through the numerous books. Everything looks so complicated. I realize this is harder than I thought. Me being a non-cooking person, I found it very difficult to pick out a cookbook for someone who likes to cook. I finally settled on a cookbook that looks like it has some interesting things, but nothing too overly complicated that real people wouldn't make it at home. Also it was on the sale table so that was a plus as it turns out cook books are quite expensive, and I have a budget I have to keep within. It must be all those pictures. I also found a recipe book to go with it. So now with the two books for my person and the two for myself I decide to check out as I still have another stop.
Next stop, Home Depot. I had a little left I the budget so I wanted to try to touch on the working in the yard like. I decided to try to find something plant like. As it's winter there isn't really too much in the way of out doors stuff available, but I did find this cute bulb thing that's in a vase and it grows into a pretty Christmas flower. So I figured that would do the trick. They can take care of something indoors, since they can't work outdoors.
So my shopping is done now (for secret Santa, not my actual Christmas shopping), and I think I didn't do too bad considering what I had to go on. I do feel bad for the poor person that ended up with me though. I put down my likes as riding my bike, playing my guitar, and summertime. And my dislike as cold weather. Yeah, they're hating me about now.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Getting In the Holiday Spirit

Last night Amy, Les, Kathleen, Marc and I went to stroll around Longwood Gardens along with about a billion other people checking out their holiday lighting, ice show, and Christmas displays in the Conservatory. It was festive.

Here are a bunch of pictures of what we saw. Our camera isn't really made for these type of shots, so they don't really do it justice.

Les and Kathleen.

Marc sitting in a bush waiting on the ice show to start. We had a great spot until the guy made us all sit on the ground. Marc ended up in a bush. An English Speading Yew matter of fact.

This was the fountain of lights show. This is Amy's favorite. She stood right up front in awe.

These are actually lit to look like flowers. It was really pretty. Bigger it looks a better.

This was just a lot of blue.

Tab, I thought of you when I saw this one. It has the ruby slippers and the yellowbrick road is made of flowers.

Isn't this pretty. This was the main entrance into the Conservatory.

I liked this tree. It was in the cacti room. I liked the cacti room. It was the only one that where I could breath. My allergies were killing me with all the flowers. But they were so pretty.

More flowers.
Happy Thanksgiving!

We had Thanksgiving with my family this year. Herer's the turkey. I usually don't care for turkey, but this one was really good. mmmm

Marc and Jake relaxing on the couch after dinner.

My nephew's Justin and Jake.

My parent's dog, Nikki. She walks on her back legs and smiles an evil little grin. It's really weird.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Cross Practice Anyone?

Irving was all excited about his first cross practice, but looks like we're getting rained out. So it's rollers in the garage.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

It's Just Another Day

I had off today. Great right? A day to get some stuff done, relax, get a ride in and what not. Well things don't always go as planned. I got up at 6:15am. Not exactly a day off time to rise, but I had to take my car in and I made an early appointment so it wouldn't take all day. So I get up, take off, all is good. I'm riding down listening to music and then I see a sign, "congestion ahead at 695". I look at my directions, no problem, I'm getting off before then. I get off and look at the next step in my directions, aghhhh, back to 695. Traffic comes to a halt. I'm running late now, but it's just a car appointment no big deal, so I relax and make my way through. End up being only about 10 min late. Not too bad considering.
They take my car back, tell me it'll be about 2 hours and I say I'll wait because I don't want to have to drive back down again. 30 min later they call my name. Uh oh I think, that's not good, something has come up. Turns out I need new brakes and routers and all 4 tires because they are bald. Nice! Luckily the brakes and routers were covered in my inspection and free, so that was an upside. As for the tires, my dad actually told me a couple months ago, but I blew it off being in denial not wanting to have to replace run-flats. All I've heard is how pricey they are. Well now was the day. All had to be replaced. They said it would take longer and asked if I wanted to take the shuttle over to the mall. I declined, thinking they'll leave me there or something or work faster maybe because I'm still waiting. I know I'm crazy. They always make you wait regardless. So I wait.
Hours later the guy comes out to inform me it will only be about another 30 to 40 min and another guy will be helping me because he's going to lunch. I couldn't believe he had the nerve to inform me he was going to lunch as I sat there all morning starving to death. I look at my watch, it's already noon! I say ok because I have no choice at this point and wait some more.
40 min later another guy does come out and tells me my car will be ready in about 5 min. I go and settle up with paperwork and what not and take off.
It's now pushing 1pm and I still haven't eaten. I see a McDonald's, the only food place on the strip, so I decide to pull in. It's packed. So I leave. I figure it's a sign that I shouldn't be eating McDonald's. I now have to drive to Marc's work cause he called me saying I didn't sign some form for insurance that he had given me last night and it had to be done today. Funny I say, usually they give you more time. He says he just got it Friday. Mmm still odd. I don't know about anyone else, but everywhere I've worked they allow way more than 3 days for benefit elections. Anyway, I now have to drive all the way to West Grove, PA from Towson, MD. I don't know a direct route, so I take the roads I know and it takes me almost an hour and a half. I call when I'm close and tell him to run it out so I can get home to grab something to eat, cause I still have a dentist appt to make too.
I sign the paper, go home, get some food, brush my teeth and head off to my dentist appt. Luckily it went fairly quickly as dentist appt's go (no cavities). I was out by 5pm. I then had to go home, grab my guitar and books for lesson and take off yet again. On my way home between the dentist and guitar it's just dark enough that everything looks black except for the glow on the horizon. I'm thinking about my wasted day and then as I'm just about to drive under a bridge that connects the two sides of the Fair Hill park I see the outline of two big deer standing on the bridge as if they're watching the traffic go by below them. It was so peaceful looking.
So though my day didn't go as expected, it was a good day. I got to see deer standing on a bridge watching all us crazy people hurrying around. I'm going to eat some dinner now before I have to go to bed.

This is what my shoes look like after stomping around the race last weekend.

I really need to get some boots!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

This is just too funny...

(very few pictures this week, I was too busy bitching)

Oh where to start. It was a hell of a weekend. It was the second weekend of doubles, so I wasn't real sure how it was going to go. I went to tell Marc to only sign me up for Sat just in case, but by the time I had asked him about it I was already signed up for both days. Oh well no biggie. As the weekend came closer I became more and more warey. I don't know why. I was riding well, I wasn't burnt out or tired really. But just wasn't feeling this weekend.
I woke up Saturday morning and was in a horrible bitchy mood. I tried everything to shake it off. I went through my normal pre-race routine; had every thing packed, had all the right food items I wanted. All was good except my frame of mind. As we drove up it did not improve. I kept trying but to no avail.
Then we arrive. The venue is completely flat. No hills, no off camber, no run-up's, just flat and long sections before turns. Great, a race of speed, but wait, the majority of the course is saturated with water. On my pre-lap I'm grinding through just trying to keep moving. The ruts just get deeper and deeper. So I already didn't feel like racing, and now I'm racing on a flat sluggishly slow course. By this point I'm so pissy that I think I may be able to get to the point I'm so pissed off that I can find that fighting spirit.
We line up, the gun goes off and I take off. Had a great start, found my pedal on the first take, had the hole shot into the first turn and then into the muck everything started to unravel. Women are passing me left and right. It's so rutted the bike is kinda taking me instead of me taking the bike. I'm slugging through a long section I knew I should have got off to run. This is confirmed as I come around and Tom yells at me, "run it next time, it's faster". I continue on, I'm having to stand way to much to keep going. It sucks. There's always points in a race when you're not happy with how things are going and you can't wait until it is over, but this was the first cross race I actually contemplated dnf'ing.
I kept at it though. I came back around near the pits and I hear Marc say, "Henry is coming up, he's the leader". Beautiful I think, it's almost over. I just need him to lap me and put me out of my misery. That minute or two it took until he finally came around seemed like an eternity. All I kept thinking was "there's no way I'm doing another lap". Finally he passes me and I finish the last bit until I'm done and then it's over. My worst race of the season. Not necessarily results wise. But just overall riding/attitude.
Afterwards I said there was no way I was racing Sunday. I was pre-reg'ed but I didn't care. I couldn't possibly do that to myself again. We went home, got cleaned up, and by the time I went to bed I was contemplating Sunday's race. Sunday morning, I got up and my back was killing me so I decided I made the right choice, but still on the drive up I wasn't so sure I had. That is until we pulled back onto the race property. As soon as I viewed that slopping wet flat ass mess. I knew, I had made the right choice. I had a great day cheering on and supporting everyone else that did decide to put themselves back through it. Great job to anyone who did. I know it sucked.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Double Header

This weekend was a double race weekend. I tried to go in with an open mind. I went in preparing to suffer, hurt, be cold, wet and muddy. Luckily Saturday was a beautiful day with temperatures around 70 and sunny, so it was only 2 of the 5 (suffering and hurt). Suffering is a must at every cross race. If you're not suffering, then you could be going harder; that's just part of the game. Some days I'm just better at doing it than others. I was still very achey from my fall a few days prior, but I resolved I was going to hurt and delve straight in and go for it. It did hurt, but it turned out to be a really good race. And it didn't hurt that I really liked the course.
Sunday's weather was a complete opposite. It was kinda cold, oddly muggy, foggy, misting most the morning before a complete pouring rain in the afternoon. The course was a muddy rutty mess during my race. I hurt from the day before. I had a crappy start and an even crappier first lap. I was slipping and sliding all over the place. Ran through the tape and off the course at one point even. But I managed to pull it together and slowly started picking back some spots. Ended up with the best finish so far in the MAC. So I can't complain.

I just thought this was a cool picture of the pit.

Lisa dicing it up during the women's A race.

This was just one of the many dogs I pet at the race Saturday. I love dogs. Ethan was making fun of me for messing with all the dogs. But look at that face. How could you not want to pet him.

Sunday on the drive up the Jersey turnpike we were stuck behind this truck and minivan for a while cause they didn't want to speed in front of the cop. Only it's not a cop. It's a S.P.C.A. vehicle!

Marc doing what he does best, muck around in the mud. He did well Sunday. He likes getting muddy.

Wes during his race. Not that you can tell. It looks like a mud man. I don't think he likes getting muddy as much as Marc does. But he had a hell of a race.

The changing poncho. Just watch out when the wind blows.

This week I remembered everything. So when Ethan needed an extra base layer, I was able to help out. Just a little short in the mid-driff.