The tale of Benedict Cumberkitty, the library kitten rescue | Being Thankful

It began like every other day at the public library—mountains of books and DVDs to be processed, account and computer questions to be answered, perhaps a few books to recommend. But when a frazzled mom pushing a stroller rushed in with a story about a a cat stuck stuck in a hole outside, we knew the day would be far from ordinary. The woman said this cat seemed hungry, and she’d dropped a hot dog through the metal grate for it to eat (because we all carry spare hot dogs, right?). A staffer walked outside to investigate, and sure enough, a tiny calico kitten’s cries echoed from deep within a storm drain—only feet from the busy eight-lane road.

Being trained library professionals—(don’t snicker, it’s not polite)—we embarked on an urgent research project: who to call to rescue this helpless stray? Animal control? Nope. They said they didn’t “do” storm drains. The city’s sewage and water department? No, we were just outside the city line. The police? The fire department? I firmly stated that the fire department did NOT rescue kittens. My father is a retired fire chief, and he always said firemen never actually rescued cats from trees. Someone called anyway. And five minutes later, the ladder truck rolled into the parking lot, lights off, but ready to help. I was delighted to be proven wrong.

kitten in storm water drain

The firemen lifted the metal drain cover, broke out their ladder, and rescued the kitten in just a few minutes.

And then we had a kitten. In the middle of the day. At the library. A very hungry, scared, and exhausted kitten.

We whisked our new buddy to the back room so we could figure out what the hell to do with it. Excuse me—what to do with her—as she was a stinking adorable calico. But the name one staffer bestowed upon him her would stand: Benedict Cumberkitty. She was also rather acrobatic and could scale a box and escape in less than two seconds, even with the lid on. Not so great in a public building.

You’d think five computer savvy library employees would be able find a home for one little kitten in a jiffy, right? We called at least six animal rescues, a dozen vets, relatives, roommates, everyone we could think of—no one wanted a kitten—including one of our leads, who wanted Benedict Cumberkitty out.

My idea for a token library cat à la Dewey didn’t fly.

By now Cumberkitty had inhaled a dish of food and was purring in our arms as we passed her around. Since none of us wanted to drop her at the Humane Society, we worked out an impromptu fix: since I’d be leaving work first, I’d deliver her to another staffer’s home, and he’d care for her overnight. (That staffer happens to look just like My Cat from Hell’s Jackson Galaxy—how apropos.)  Between all of the Facebook pleas and connections, hopefully one of us would find a safe, permanent home for her.

Even though Cumberkitty was about the cutest thing you can imagine, I was not looking forwards to an hour in the car with a crying, malnourished kitten just yanking at my heartstrings. And I knew as soon as my son caught a glance of Cumberkitty he’d turn on those puppy dog eyes, BEG, plead, and try every irrational reason his clever 11-year-old brain could devise to keep her. The hubby would simply say “awwww…” and melt, and I’d have to be the evil, RATIONAL one and repeatedly explain why we couldn’t keep her. (Something to do with already having two psychotic, allergy-ridden, territorial, often bitchy cats who’ve been racking up several hundred dollars in vet bills a month lately, but why let reason speak?)

Minuets before I was to walk out the door with her, fate intervened. A mom and her young daughter had spotted Cumberkitty’s adorable Facebook mug  as it made the rounds. They’d hurried to the library to see if she was still in need. The mom told us they’d just had to put to sleep their own beloved cat of twenty years that morning. They’d suffered though a horrible day—but when she’d seen the post she’d though it was meant to be. I knew as soon as the little girl snuggled up with Cumberkitty it was a done deal. She clutched the kitten tight and kissed her, and her blonde curls shook as she began to cry.

So did we—well, at least my eyes got teary.

I was thankful Cumberkitty had found a home. I was thankful our “brave” firefighters proved they could be heroes to even the tiniest of creatures. I was thankful the power of social media could be harnessed for good. I was thankful a heartbroken little girl had found a new love. And I was thankful my heart felt it had swelled a few sizes that day.

Be thankful. Be grateful. Be kind. Be good.

 library kitty rescue

 

Minecraft Books Kids Will Love — Librarian & Kid Approved!

Librarian, parent, & kid approved Minecraft books! Perfect gifts for boys and girls ages 6 - 16 and a great way to get kids reading. #minecraft #holidaygifts #giftsforboys
Every parent, teacher, librarian, and kid knows that MINECRAFT is the hottest thing out there for kids 6 to 16. The phenomena has taken the world by storm, and been praised for its ability to stretch users imaginations and skills as they learn how to build, create, collaborate, and survive in their Minecraft world. But if you’re like me, you might think your kid plays the game WAY too much—how about trading some screen time for book time?

Buying gifts for kids (especially boys) in this age range can be quite a challenge. With birthday parties it seems like every weekend and the holidays approaching, I’ve been hunting for some winning gift ideas. I’ve always given books to younger kids and adults, but kids in this range can be tricky.  Solution: MINECRAFT BOOKS!

But which to buy?

If you browse through Amazon, you’ll find pages of Mineraft-related book offerings. Almost all the books are very recently published and few offer reviews. Then there are dozens of free Kindle books, but you have no idea if they are any good.

As a library staffer and parent, I’ve personally checked out all of the books listed below. My library system now carries all of these titles, so you know they are librarian-approved “real” books, not something a 12-year-old fan wrote and tossed up on Amazon. They range from introductory guides appropriate for elementary-aged beginners to more complex developmental aids for those tweens and teens with an interest in programming.

 

Essential Minecraft Books

Minecraft: The Complete Handbook Collection

Age Range: 8 – 12 years (even 6-year-olds will love them!)
Grade Level: 2 – 7
Hardcover
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.; Box edition (October 21, 2014)
Amazon  $19.18
Scholastic $22.00

 

This is the complete collection of the Official Minecraft books written by the game’s developers and published by Scholastic. Each handbook contains helpful tips and information from the creators themselves, all of which will prove vital to players survival and creativity as they learn to mine, craft, and build in a world that they control. The graphics and layout make the books easy to navigate and the tutorials are spelled out with step-by-step directions almost anyone can follow. This durable yet beautiful set is considered THE MUST-HAVE set for the enthusiasts and beginners (my son and his friends carry it around in their backpacks at school even!).

The collection includes the four handbooks listed below, but at a better price!

Minecraft: Essential Handbook: An Official Mojang Book

The first OFFICIAL Minecraft book, this one is the #1 guide for any newbie or elementary-aged player. Learn how to find resources; make a shelter; craft tools, armor, and weapons, and protect yourself from monsters. With tips from Minecraft experts, including developer Jeb and creator Notch himself, this is the definitive guide to surviving your first few days in Minecraft.

 

 

Minecraft: Redstone Handbook: An Official Mojang Book

According to my Minecraft experts, Redstone is one of the most important substances if you want to build contraptions in the Minecraft world. This second book in the Scholastic/Mojang collection explains how to connect and control the blocks that make up the Minecraft world.

 

 

Minecraft: Construction Handbook: An Official Mojang Book

Whether players want to build their own mansion and gardens or dream of creating their own roller-coaster ride, this handbook will give them the confidence and skills to fuel their creative genius. Readers will learn how to construct houses, ships, floating islands, bridges, roller coasters, and more!

 

 

Minecraft: Combat Handbook: An Official Mojang Book

Creepers and Zombies and Ghasts, oh my! In this book readers can learn how to defend their home, build forts, fight monsters, and craft weapons. Learn how to survive and thrive in player versus play mode, evade death in the Nether, and battle the Ender Dragon in the End.

 

 

 

Chapter Books

Want to encourage your child to actually read? The series below is librarian and teacher approved, and the perfect gift if you want to get your little gamer excited about taking time away from the game to read.

 

Invasion of the Overworld: Book One in the Gameknight999 Series: An Unofficial Minecrafter’s Adventure

When one of Gameknight’s father’s inventions teleports him into the game, he is forced to live out a real-life adventure inside a digital world. Stuck in the game, he discovers Minecraft’s best-kept secret: the creatures within the game are alive! He will have to stay one step ahead of the sharp claws of zombies and pointed fangs of spiders, but he’ll also have to learn to make friends and work as a team if he has any chance of surviving the Minecraft war his arrival has started.

Age Range: 9 and up
Grade Level: 3 and up
Series: Gameknight999 (Book 1)
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Sky Pony Press (August 26, 2014)
Amazon $9

Battle for the Nether: Book Two in the Gameknight999 Series: An Unofficial Minecrafter’s Adventure

Epic battles, terrible monsters, heartwarming friendships, and spine-tingling suspense . . . Battle for the Nether takes the adventures of Gameknight999 to the next level in a nonstop roller-coaster ride of adventure.

Age Range: 9 and up
Grade Level: 3 and up
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Sky Pony Press (August 26, 2014)

 


Confronting the Dragon: Book Three in the Gameknight999 Series: An Unofficial Minecrafter’s Adventure (Gameknight999 Minecraft)

An evil army threatens to destroy all of Minecraft in the third Gameknight999 adventure!

Age Range: 9 and up
Grade Level: 3 and up
Series: Gameknight999 Minecraft (Book 3)
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Sky Pony Press (October 21, 2014)

Unofficial Guides

The Big Book of Minecraft: The Unofficial Guide to Minecraft & Other Building Games

Up to date for the 2014 holiday season, The Big Book of Minecraft is packed with the most recent training, tools, and techniques to help readers get more out of their favorite sandbox game. 2014 was a pivotal year for Minecraft, and this book captures all the latest and greatest things that have happened to one of the most brilliant and immersive games in video game history. From a brief overview of the game to advanced farming, mining, and building techniques, this guide touches on everything Minecraft enthusiasts could ever ask for. Featuring authoritative and engaging content from our internal experts, The Big Book of Minecraft also highlights some of the most influential builders in the Minecraft community today and examines their creations and techniques that catapulted them to fame.

Hardcover: 192 pages
Publisher: Triumph Books (November 1, 2014)
Amazon $14.99

 

Building in MinecraftBuilding in Minecraft: The Unofficial Building Guide to Minecraft & Other Games

This isn’t so much a “guide” as a cool idea book. The photos highlight some of the most amazing builds ever created, from nuclear submarines to mind-boggling castles. There are no directions as to how to actually build these complex projects, but crafters will flip through the pages with awe. I’ve only found this book inside Barnes and Noble—look for it on the display tables up front or ask.

Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Triumph Books (November 1, 2014)
Barnes and Noble $7.98 (in-store only)

 

Programming & Mods (Advanced Users)

Minecraft Mastery: Build Your Own Redstone Contraptions and Mods

This book does start with some basic redstone material, but the bulk of its one-of-a-kind tutorials are for the advanced user. Learn how to create logic gates, advanced mechanisms, and much more. You’ll also find out how to host a Minecraft server, use the qCraft and Computer-Craft mods, and develop your own custom mods. Exponentially expand the dimensions of your world with help from this hands-on guide–the only limit is your imagination!
Age: Advanced users—teen & up
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: McGraw-Hill/TAB Electronics; (June 5, 2014)
Amazon

Minecraft Mod Development in 24 Hours, Sams Teach Yourself

While this book was just above my own 11-year-old’s abilities—a bit of Java knowledge going into this would be helpful—it would be perfect for teens/tweens interested in learning programming.

Learn how to…

  • Set up the environment where you’ll write your mod
  • Create the basics for your mod with the Forge API
  • Establish a framework that makes it easier to build complex mods
  • Work with recipes and other small modifications
  • Create multiple recipes, items, blocks, and entities at once
  • Cook up food items that heal your players
  • Make custom pickaxes, shovels, and completely original tools
  • Use Tile Entities to create complex and unique mods
  • Create interesting custom armor for players
  • Master Java programming techniques you can use far beyond Minecraft

Age: Advanced users (tweens & teens with some programming knowledge)
Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Sams Publishing; 1 edition (September 20, 2014)
Amazon $24

 

Learn to Program with Minecraft Plugins: Create Flaming Cows in Java Using CanaryMod

Write your own Minecraft plugins with CanaryMod and watch your code come to life with flaming cows, flying creepers, teleportation, and interactivity. Follow along with the book and add your own features to the Minecraft game by developing Java code that “plugs in” to the server. You’ll manipulate and control elements in the 3D graphical game environment without having to write tons of code or learn huge frameworks. No previous programming experience necessary.

Age Range: 10 and up
Series: The Pragmatic Programmers
Paperback: 284 pages
Publisher: Pragmatic Bookshelf; (November 8, 2014)
Amazon $20

 

And Just for Fun…

Minecraft 2015 Wall Calendar

Format: 2015 Wall Calendar
Size Closed: 11.5″ W x 11.5″ H
Size Opened: 11.5″ W x 23″ H
Amazon $6.85

Five of the Scariest Novels I’ve Never Read

 There are some novels that you know will shake you at a primal level, that will haunt your dreams and darken even the brightest day. They’ll leave you shivering with “what if’s.” They’ll leave their dark marks upon your soul. Here are a few of those books—
stories I’m afraid to read, because I won’t be able to forget them…

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Many reader friends have told me I must read this book. In fact, they were horrified I hadn’t read this “masterpiece” yet. But I’m afraid it will disturb me too much. THE ROAD is a
grueling and grim post-apocalyptic tale of a man and his son struggling to survive.
The spare pose echoes the utter and complete desolation of the world as one man
attempts to instill a glimmer hope in his son.
I shiver thinking about it. Did I mention there’s cannibalism?

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margret Atwood

This could be the future—a future where a misogynistic, monotheocratic government rules all, where women are reduced to base breeders and laborers. It’s terrifying because you can
imagine it could happen if the wrong people gained power. I’m embarrassed to admit
I haven’t read this yet, andI plan to correct this lapse soon.
Even if it gives me nightmares.

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

Readers seem to love or hate this unique novel, and it has a die hard cultish following. It’s been described as not only a mind-blowing haunted house story, but a story inside a story inside a story…(or was it a riddle wrapped inside and enigma?)  Due to its trippy print style, the books is only available in print, so readers can scour  the appendices, colored texts,
sideways prose, and do the old “read backwards in a mirror” gimmick.
But it’s scary…if you can make it through the 700+ pages
without feeling physically trapped by the style.

We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

What happens when YOU create the monster? In reality, it’s a story that often drives fear into all of our souls—a teen opens fire in a school, and seven classmates and two adults die. This could be in your neighborhood, in your children’s school. But cold-blooded killers aren’t just born, are they? This novel explores how our culture creates child killers, and how it would feel if this child was your own. The threat of school massacres hits me too close to home. I…just…can’t…

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

On the surface, the protagonist is epitome of a golden boy: attractive, filthy rich, and a Wall Street wunderkind. But inside, the man is a raving lunatic. A calm one at that. He kill, rapes, and tortures with a cool detachment. Some say this novel is a comedy, a satire of epic proportions. Others say it’s pure horror. I haven’t seen the movie either, and reading Ellis’ IMPERIAL BEDROOMS disturbed me enough for a few years, thanks.

Runners up:

Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthy

Though technically a Western, this perverse story evokes images of Heironymus Bosch as it follows a band bounty hunters for Indian scalps near the Texas-Mexico border in the 1850s–a ragged caravan of indiscriminate killers led by an unforgettable human monster called “The Judge.” Described as bleak, and bloody, and bleak—a book that may or may not leave you with no faith in humanity whatsoever.

Complete Collection Of H.P.Lovecraft – 150 eBooks (Complete Collection Of Lovecraft’s Fiction,Juvenilia,Poems,Essays And Collaborations)

Okay, this one I’m buying now, since it’s only $1.99 on Amazon now. Dubbed “Twentieth Century’s greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale,” Lovecraft’s stories have influenced generations of horror writers and readers.

How about you? What’s the scariest book you’ve NEVER read?

The Wine + Halloween Candy Pairing Guide – {mostly} Wordless Wednesday

The Perfect Guide To Pairing Wine with Halloween Candy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Admit it—we all raid our kids’ trick-or-treat bags after they come down from their sugar high and pass out Halloween night. This perfect infographic from Vivino.com makes me want to download their wine pairing app just so I can play with any other candy and wine matches. How else will I discover what pairs well with a Peppermint Pattie?

I’m thinking some of the Well Read red wine might pair well with my guilty pleasure of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Ooohh, but I can have champagne with Kit Kats or Mounds…

Decisions, decisions…

What wine and candy combo tickles your taste buds?

 

#NotSponsored  #JustForFun

Easy DIY MINECRAFT Creeper bag — perfect for Birthday parties or Halloween

DIY Minecraft Creeper Bag - perfect for Birthday parties or Trick-or-treat! Super easy and cheap. #MINECRAFTbag #creepertrick-or-treat

Kids love MINECRAFT. Be it for Halloween or birthday parties, MINECRAFT is the hottest thing going now.

My son wanted a MINECRAFT themed slumber party to celebrate his 11th birthday this year. Since I refuse to do the traditional goodie bags full of junk, I had to come up with something fun, something useful, and something cheap.

Since the party was in October, how about a Creeper Bag? It could be used for everyday activities and as a Halloween trick-or-treat bag. And the kids would think it was pretty cool.

Using a Creeper face template and supplies from my local craft store, I had the materials to make FIVE of these Creeper backpacks for less than $7.50—that’s about $1.50 each! Whoo-hoo!

The kids LOVED them.

Price breakdown: 

Bags: I found “Non-woven Sports Bags” a.k.a. drawstring backpacks at Michael’s for $2 each. After a 40% off coupon, they were only $1.20 each.

—Paint: $1 at Michael’s, on sale for $0.50

—Brushes: multi-pack at the Dollar Tree for $1

—Cardboard: free from my recycling bin

 

DIY Minecraft Creeper Bag - perfect for Birthday parties or Trick-or-treat! Now it just so happened that my son received a Minecraft Creeper Box Head as a birthday gift. All I had to do was find a green shirt. (The one in the photos was only temporary. I don’t think Creepers wear Dave Matthews Band concert T’s.) Add in the Creeper bag, and his costume is DONE!

I like using a backpack as a trick-or-treat bag because kids can sling it over their shoulder or wear on their backs. All that candy can weight them down by the end of the night!

He’d gone as MINECRAFT Steve years before with a totally homemade costume (See How-to posts for Steve Head here and MINECRAFT diamond sword and pickax here.)  I have to admit —this year’s Creeper costume was so much easier.

Easy and inexpensive Minecraft Creeper DIY Bag / backpack

MINECRAFT CREEPER Party or Trick-or-Treat Bags/Backpacks

Materials needed:Minecraft Creeper Template

green drawstring backpacks(s)
creeper face template (see below)
black craft paint
cardboard (2 12 x 14-ish pieces per bag)
razor
ruler (optional)
foam brushes

For the adults:

Right click on the template photo on the right and save. Print out as an 8 x 10 (don’t worry, it doesn’t need to be high resolution). Using the template and a pencil, trace the creeper face on one piece of cardboard per bag. With ruler or straight edge, go over the trace marks with a marker or pencil.

Now it’s time to cut. Once again, use the ruler or straight edge as a guide to cut the face out of the cardboard. A razor works best—that way you get clean edges.

Make one cardboard template for each bag. (If you reuse them, paint can smear.)

For the kids:

Okay, the hard part is done. Slide one blank sheet of cardboard inside each backpack to prevent the paint from bleeding through. Lay each bag on a flat surface. Place the cardboard template on each bag (you can tape the cardboard to the bag with masking tape if you wish).

Squeeze some black craft paint onto paper plates or disposable bowls. Have the kids dab paint on their foam brushes and paint inside the creeper faces.

When faces are all filled in, remove template cardboard. Let the bags dry completely before moving or removing inside cardboard. (Our paint dried in about a half hour.)

That’s it!

Happy Birthday, Happy Halloween, enjoy your special day!

 

homemade minecraft costume, make a steve headminecraft, how to make minecraft sword, minecraft costume

 

Sucking Wind: The Real-Life Diary of a Couch to 5k (part 3—Demons and Angels)

Need to catch up on my Couch to 5k journey?
Check out PART 1: Easy Street and PART 2: Bumps in the Road.

 

W?D?   Maybe W5 D-infinity? I DON’T KNOW  F 9/12/14

What. The. Heck.

I’m restraining my language because I’m actually writing this two days later so I’ve had time to temper my utter pissed-offedness. (Yes, I’m making that a word.)

I’ve been hunting for new shoes, since my old ones look like this.

old sneakers

Yes, those are massive holes in the mesh toes. Tread is pretty much non-existent as well.

Since I am poor and doubt my ability to follow through, I’m not allowing myself to head off to Track Shack for a $100+ pair of running shoes. But lucky me, I found these neat-o trainers at Ross for $30. A steal for  Brooks minimalist trainers with glowing reviews on Amazon, right?

brooks running shoes, minimalist, couch to 5k

But while reading the reviews, I realized I AM RUNNING ALL WRONG. Totally wrong. I suck.

I run like I walk, landing on my heel. I didn’t realize I was supposed to land mid-foot. WTF.

I’ve always thought my hubby runs funny. When he races around the soccer pitch every week, he looks like he’s running on his balls the balls of his feet and his heels nearly kick his butt. It looks…weird. BUT HE IS TOTALLY RIGHT. Crapola.

So, after watching a ton of youtube instructional videos, I headed off to the gym with my new shoes. I figured I’d just go easy, running/walking at my own pace as I tried to run correctly.

Ha. I looked like a drunk toddler on skates. Even holding on to the sides or front handles of the treadmill I was all spaghetti legs. It hurt. It felt wrong. I couldn’t breathe after 30 seconds. Did I mention it hurt?  (My lower shins are still KILLING me two days later.) I barely made it 2 miles with a few 90-sec runs in there.

And now I don’t know what to do. Trying to run in “proper form” (mid-foot strike, heel-to-butt gait) feels utterly wrong.

Should I start over on Day 1 with the ‘correct’ form, even though I feel like I’m on artificial legs? (Bad old-timey wooden fake legs, not those cool new blade runner versions.) Or should I keep running like I have been these last few weeks and continue to work on my cardio and stamina?

Help.

 

 Monday 9/15/14

It’s currently 80 degrees with 90% humidity out and I just attempted a run/walk. Outside.

sept 15 temp

Did I travel to the backwaters of Indonesia or the streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil? No, I’m just another idiot savoring fall in Florida. For those of you up north, you may wonder what 90% humidity feels like. A blanket of water. Being locked in a bathroom with a bag of freshly mown grass and the shower cranked to near boiling for a half hour. I was sweating worse than a 300-pound man in a sauna. And that was just after WALKING to the end of the block.

After the last debacle at the gym (which I am still smarting from) I decided to try running on pavement instead of a hamster wheel. I could control my pace and my form more. And I did. I also dropped back to the 90-sec runs. My shins still hurt from Friday and my right arch is complaining like a bitch, but I pushed through—moderately. You see, I think lungs don’t quite know how to process this much humidity. Many people only feel it when they are (a) sitting still  in a steam room, or (b) laying in bed, miserably congested, with their room-sized humidifier spewing an eau de Vicks Vapor Rub into the air.

Who suffers this way for fun?

Just call me the Anastasia Steele of Couch to 5k. However, my unbelievable naivete revolves around running, and there were no sexy young billionaires luring me along. Too bad.

Ran/walked/gasped for about 40 minutes. Per Map My Run  – 2.81 miles.

 

Wednesday 9/18/14

:::ahhhhhhh:::

{cue dawn breaking or something}

After my last few attempts, I was not looking forward to today’s run. I felt crummy and only pried myself out of bed because my cats were playing tag on top of me. With claws. Anywho, I ate breakfast late, so I couldn’t run/walk outside before it became too beastly. Almost didn’t go at all.

Then I remembered my gym has an “easy” yoga class at noon, and my muscles were pretty desperate for some stretching. By the time I dragged myself to the gym, I had about 20 minutes to spend with my dear nemesis, the treadmill.

What would happen if I just ran slower?

tina fey high fiving a million angels

 

Every.Freaking.Thing.

I warmed up for a couple of minutes. (Really I was just getting my Kindle turned on—finally reading OUTLANDER. OMG. What the hell took me so long?) Then I set the speed—not at a “run” 6 mph or at a “jog” of 4 measly mph—but right in-between.

And I ran/jogged/whatevered for A MILE. Without stopping. Or dying. Holy Schlitz.

It was a 12-minute mile, but who cares? I could have kept going longer, but I really wanted to get in some yoga, and you can’t sneak into class late. I wasn’t striking totally on my heels, but somewhere a little farther forward.  I’m not sure it was precisely midstep, but who cares.

It felt brilliant.

I can do this.

********************

Any of you runners have any advice for me? Is it better to run slowly to build endurance then worry about speeding up later?

Sucking Wind: The Real-Life Diary of a Couch to 5k (part 2—Bumps in the Road)

 

Sucking Wind: The Real-Life Diary of  a Couch to 5k (part 2: Speed Bumps)

photo credit: Stéfan via photopin cc

{Catch up on my journey with Part 1: Easy Street here.}

W4 D1: Friday 8/22

This training session about killed me. This one was NOT fun. Those little three minute runs had me feeling like this whole couch-to-5k thing would be a piece of cake. Then the damn app demanded that I jump from 3 minute runs to 5 minute runs. Be still my beating heart. My face feels like it’s a tomato about to burst and my heart is going to explode. I tried not to envision what would happen when I passed out on the treadmill—how I’d likely nail my head on the side rail, hit the belt, and be flung to the floor like roadkill. To keep from hyperventilating, I took my dad’s advice: sing. So I looked like a tomato-faced idiot, singing and trying not to swear as I ran.

5 min warmup | run 3 min | walk 1.5 min | run 5 minutes | walk 2.5  min | run 3 min | walk 1.5 min | run 5 min | 5 min cool down

 

W4 D2 8/25

Damn five minute sprints. The app calls them “jogs” but I’m not sure what the difference is between a jog, a run, and that heaving “I’m going to die feeling.” Need to find some more music, something I can sing along with. Yes, I know I’ll look like a fool, but it will be far less embarrassing than than scoring a concussion after passing out on the rotating belt of evil. But I did it…and since I was at about 2.5 miles once the app finished, I did two more “jogs” to push me over my 5k. Take that.

5 min warmup | run 3 min | walk 1.5 min | run 5 minutes | walk 2.5  min | run 3 min | walk 1.5 min | run 5 min | 5 min cool down (+2 more song-length sprints)

 

W5 D1  Monday, 9/8

You might have noticed I’ve had a bit of a time lapse…yeah, that’s what I’ll call it. The five minute sprints are killing me, so last week I did my own thing and worked on them some more. Uhm—extra-credit time instead of remedial class, right?  I’d peeked at Week 5′s expectations of three 5-minuts sprints and got scared. But I did it today. I did it wearing my Hot Pants, even, so I’m extra gross and sweaty. (Hot Pants are these neoprene biker shorts I was once sent as a product for review. See enlightening post here.) Don’t know if they’ll help sweat away the annoying ripples around my waistline, but worth a try.

The music selection on my phone needs updating and the app I’m using for training is a royal PITA, so I listened to Pandora on my Kindle while I read JoJo Moyes’s ONE PLUS ONE (recommended++). First station up: Alternative Endurance Training. Worked for a while, then I got over Muse and switched to 80s Cardio. Pour Some Sugar on Me had me giggling and flashing back to doing the Barefoot Mailman Scout Hike when I was about 13. Don’t laugh. That was brutal  35-mile 2-day hike along the beaches of South Florida. We carried everything we needed—tents, clothes, food, ect. It was hot. It was long. I had blisters and chafe marks for days. But I did it—I kicked butt in an event dominated 95% by boys. And one of the songs that I blasted through my Walkman (**oooh, flashback***) was that Def Leopard glam rock classic. Granted, at 13, I had no idea what it really meant.

If I could do it then, dammit, I can do it now.

5 min warmup | 5 min run + 3 min fast walk X 3 | added another 2 3-min runs to make 5k

 

 

 

10 Books that have stuck with me

 

young girl reading

Like every other book lover out there, I was tagged in the 10 books that have stuck with me meme. Instead of giving just a quick list, I thought I’d provide a snippet of explanation for each selection. Plus I wanted to figure out why these particular books have kept their prime shelf space in the endless library in my heart.

Yes, I realize that this meme was just a way to gather information about the most popular books. (You can find the results here.)  It’s still fun, and it still gets people talking about literature. In my book, that’s a win.

When creating my list, I realized how many of these novels had been made into movies. Of course I read ALL the books before watching the movie version. And strangely, many of the movie adaptations are on my favorite movie list, though the books were so much better (as always).

Also odd: none of the books are in the genre I write and read most often now, though I do still read varied genres. Figure that one out.

Most of these books stole my heart and captured my imagination while in I was in high school. Perhaps they are ingrained on my psyche because that was a time when I was so open to new experiences, when books blew my mind with radical new ideas and influenced my tastes even today.

So here’s my list, in no particular order:

 

Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank

It happened. They dropped the bomb. But for the residents of a small Florida town, their fight to survive has just begun…  I read this one in high school English class just before the Berlin Wall crashed down. It seemed too real, too close to home, and my mind swirled with what if’s. It has haunted me forever.

 

 

Gone With the Wind by Margret Mitchell

I’ve been enamored with this 1032-page Civil War epic since the first time  I opened my (now extremely worn) paperback cover when I was a mere twelve years old. History and romance walk hand-in-hand through the graceful plantations of the old South and the trials of war and Reconstruction. Scarlett is the original spunky heroine, and Rhett…I’ll love that sexy scoundrel forever.

 

It by Steven King

This book SCARED THE CRAP OUT OF ME.  IT preyed upon children (and I was still a “child” when I read it). It got to them through their ordinary fears, which truly messed with my head. Yes, about 200 pages could have been trimmed from this tale, but I don’t think I’ll ever go to Maine—or go near a clown again. And then there’s the time my own father played the most brilliant evil IT-related prank in the world on me (read about that one here.)

 

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

Another one that scared me, and I loved every second of it. I can still picture myself reading this, curled up on the stinky couch in an apartment I shared with five international roommates  the summer I interned at Disney. Fireworks exploded nearby, and the booms will forever sound like impact tremors. The blockbuster movie came out weeks later. Did I mention that I worked in The Pirates of the Caribbean ride? Figure out that connection.

 

Interview with the Vampire (The Vampire Chronicles Book 1) by Anne Rice

Forget those silly sparkly, angst-filled creatures—this was my teen vampire read. I worshiped this series, fell in love with the brooding Louis and anti-hero Lestat, and dreamed of being changed over. Part historical novel, part horror, and fully entertaining, Rice’s vampire series will always be close to my beating heart. And then there’s the fact that I met my husband because of these books…

 

The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy

I was an odd teenage girl. Thanks to Clancy, I came to adore military thrillers and their mix of action, adventure, intelligence, and suspense. After reading this one, I caught up with all of the Jack Ryan series, and I’ve devoured each new release in since. But this is the one that started it all for me. Dasvidaniya.

 

Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare

I think this was the first of Willie’s works I had to read in 9th grade English. It’s not necessarily my favorite (that would be Hamlet) but it was my first exposure to the beauty of his world and words. Then I had to memorize two of Juliet’s monologues for drama class, and they were such a challenge that I can still recite them today. I’d say that means the book stuck with me.

 

Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende

I’m not even sure this is my favorite book by the amazing Isabel Allende, but this epic tale of a young woman’s perilous journey as she followed her love from Chile to Gold Rush San Francisco has stuck with me over the years. Once again, it tics off the key elements I’m now noticing draw me in: history, adventure, romance—and solid writing.

 

Tourist Season by Carl Hiaasen

Few No other books make me roar with laughter like Hiaasen’s.  Though he’d been a savvy Miami Herald columnist for years, this was the novel that started it all. Laced with biting humor (literally—there’s a pissed off crocodile involved) it’s more a  social and environmental commentary than an ordinary story. Carl had the balls to write about broke so many native Floridian’s hearts—our hatred for the obnoxious tourists and snowbirds, the crooked politicians who rule with dirty palms, and the rape and pillage of our natural world. And did I mention it’s funny?

 

Beach Music by Pat Conroy

Don’t let this cover fool you. This is not a “beach read.” Not even close. This epic drama flashes from a piazza in Rome to a stormy beach house to the horrific memories of the Holocaust. Conroy’s settings are immersive, his prose drips with that lush Southern style, and his characters (both male and female) snare you in their complex web.

 

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell

I must have been about ten or so when I read this tale of about a young girl left behind on a lonely Pacific island and her fight for survival. I found the way she learned how to find food, shelter, and company fascinating. I wanted to be strong like her—while still enjoying the comforts of modern living, of course. I just passed along my copy to my 10-year-old son. He freaking loved it.

 

Ack! I just realized I’ve listed ELEVEN books. I’ve done the work, so I’m leaving them. (*Note: I was not a math major.) Just forget whichever one interested you the least.

Other runners up:
Herman Wouk’s The Winds of War
George Orwell’s 1984

and the list could go on and on…

How about you? What books have stuck with you over the years?

 

Sucking Wind: The Real-Life Diary of a Couch to 5k (part 1—Easy Street)

WILL RUN FOR WINE | Sucking Wind: The Real-Life Diary of  a Couch to 5k

Week 1, Day 1: 7/28/14

Two days before my 40th Birthday. When did I get so damn old?

I’ve never liked running. My knees hurt and I suck wind within seconds of my feet hitting the pavement at any speed over a power walk. I was the last kid to finish the dreaded mile run around the field in grade school. I was always active, but an athlete—ha—I was the last kid picked for every sport with the exceptions of competitive canoe racing or hiking. Running seems to be the “thing”now, and everyone else is showing off their fitness by not just running, but doing it while sloshing through mud puddles, darting through Disney, or fleeing from zombies. 5ks aren’t enough—no, now they run half marathons (and have the bumper sticker to prove it!). They bring their kids and wear a smile and a tutu. I’m fit—I do yoga, Pilates, and kick butt in toning class—I can improve my cardio and learn to run a measly 3.1 miles. {deep breath}  Okay, so I’ve tried this before over the years and failed miserably. But I will not go gently into “middle age.” I can do this dammit.

I hit the treadmill at the gym after downloading a Couch to 5k app on my phone. Book geek note: Kindles fit nicely on the treadmill’s lip below the TV screen. I started reading Laura Drake’s HER ROAD HOME, which happens to be the first Harlequin Superromance I’ve ever read. Okay, possibly the first Harlequin romance I’ve ever read—I’m branching out—and the damn battery died after 7 minutes. The remaining 23 minutes suck.

5 min warmup | walk 3.7 mph for 90 sec/ run 6 mph for 60 sec x 8 | 5 min cool down

W1 D2: 7/29/14

I actually went back to the gym, sore shins and all. And after a work shift— I’ve never ventured to the gym in the afternoon. Maybe it’s because I just had a mini-meltdown in the orthodontist’s office when they told me kiddo’s replacement retainer would cost me $300. I needed to blow off steam. It didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would (the run, not the potential wallet hit) and my right side didn’t flare up in a gut-busting cramp. Some credit must go to distractingly good reading material—I was glued to HER ROAD HOME the entire time. (I made damn sure that my Kindle was charged!) Reading while running is…challenging…but necessary for the sanity. Note: must grab one of the sweaty fitness or glam magazines stacked by the cardio equipment if I ever suffer a Kindle outage again. Even Maxim articles should be more exciting than daytime TV.

5 min warmup | walk 3.7 mph for 90 sec/ run 6 mph for 60 sec x 8 | 5 min cool down

W1 D3: 8/1/14

So, I’ve been 40 for two days. Can’t say I like it. Feel a midlife crisis approaching. So much I haven’t accomplished, so many dreams I haven’t had the guts to chase down. Maybe that’s why I’m trying to run. Well, that and the muffin-top creeping over my waistband. Felt good at the gym today. Legs didn’t hurt, and my breathing was far more paced. Tiny side stitch. Since I intended to prep my finished manuscript for a contest entry, I listened to Coldplay’s Mylo Xyloto, the official album of the story. Great for running (dancing, too!). Between the tunes and the cowboy romance read, I wanted to keep going AFTER I’D FINISHED the official C2 5K program. So I did. Instead of going 2 miles, I finished a 5k. I amped the last 3 run phases to 2.5 minute sprints.
Came home completely flushed, but I kicked butt today, dammit.

5 min warmup | walk 3.7 mph for 90 sec/ run 6 mph for 60 sec x 8 | plus several 2.5 minute runs++ | completed 5k in 41 minutes (including warmup) | 5 min cool down

W2 D1: 8/2/14

Whoo-hoo! Technically, I’m two days ahead. I’m going on vacation next week, so I feel like I need to cram in running time. Plus I figure I should actually GO to the gym when I’m motivated. Started reading GO DANCING as part of my Contemporary Romance training. Must remember to keep books on my kindle. Not like I don’t have at least 20 or so waiting… Run went well. Did the 1.5 minute runs no problem. Ran the last one for 2.5 minutes, and that was all I had in me. Watched World War Z last night and commented again on why I need to learn to run: so I can survive a zombie attack. (Rule #1 of Zombieland: CARDIO)

5 min warmup | walk 3.7 mph 2 min | run 6 mph 1.5 min | x 6 | 5 min cool down

W2 D2: 8/4/14

Okay, I just realized I stared this a week ago and I’m a bit ahead. Forty-year-olds can still kick butt (while hopefully perking up their aged derriere). I had an infuriating morning dealing with the incompetent staff at Walmart (I’ll spare you the rant) so I was still feeling murderous when I sped to the gym. Put on some Foo Fighters Greatest Hits and jumped on the treadmill. Damn. Running flushes that anger right from your system, almost as if it it’s dripping from your sweat glands. Loud men yelling song lyrics over raging guitars helps too. With the music cranked I ran 2.5 minute sprints instead of 1.5. And I stuck around to complete my 3.1 miles instead of the 2-ish on the program. Take that you Walmart fuckers.

5 min warmup | walk 3.7 mph 2 min | run 6 mph 1.5 min | x 6 | 5 min cool down

W2 D3: M 8/11/14

I just returned from a relaxing yet far too short beach vacation, blissing out with good friends, unhealthy food, and plenty of wine. Something about the ocean always lulls me into a state of tranquility. While staying at the beach house, my only real exercise was a couple of exhilarating kayak runs around the island. Though the gorgeous turquoise waters appeared calm, the currents ran fast, so my upper body got quite a workout. But the lower half—not so much. Anyway, today is back to reality. Kiddo went back to school this morning, I’m starting a new schedule of writing (thanks to Claire Cook’s NEVER TOO LATE: YOUR ROAD TO REINVENTION), and heading back to the gym. Despite my six day break, my run went just peachy. Ran the extra to make my 5k no problemo. The arch of my right foot hurts a little though…

This is going to be easy.

::cue dramatic music::

Famous. Last. Words.

5 min warmup | walk 3.7 mph 2 min | run 6 mph 1.5 min | x 6 | 5 min cool down  (extended to run 5k)