Archive | July, 2011

Day 34 – Oh? Oh what?

31 Jul

This is NOT what I signed up for! Literally! Today I went to the gym thinking I was going to a Newbody class. Newbody is described as “low impact, easy-to-follow class [that] combines cardio conditioning with optional hand weights.” I did it once before, and it was a good workout. I found it challenging but doable. I was sore for days afterward. So today, I arrived early, got my weights from the bin and took my place and chatted with other class members while we waited for the instructor. Then, the instructor came in and I heard someone say “oh”. Oh? Oh what? “This isn’t Newbody?” the other woman asked the instructor.

It wasn’t Newbody. The instructor was away for the long weekend. The people at the front desk didn’t even realize there was a switch. Today I did my first Body Combat class. Body Combat is described as, “a fiercely energetic martial arts workout where you are totally unleashed and empowered. Karate, boxing, taekwondo, tai chi and muay thai enthusiasts will especially enjoy this class.” Ummmm, what? This was definitely not what I signed up for, but I loved it. I will go again, for sure.

I found a short video clip to give you an idea of what 30 seconds of a Body Combat class looks like. I did this for an hour:

I came out energized and although I’m not experiencing much stress these days I can imagine this class will be used for stress relief during the school year. I had plans to try Body Combat, just not for a few more months. It was my plan to be super comfortable with Zumba, Body Flow, Yoga, and Newbody before I stepped it up. Now this gives me another class I can add as an option when going to the gym. I love the classes; they really do make exercise fun. Who ever thought those words would be coming from me?


Day 33 – Mike & Maple Curry

30 Jul

I love to make plans and know what’s coming up. But, more often than not, the best times are had when you do something spontaneous. Last night was one of those times. Yesterday, I saw on twitter that an old friend was playing at a local restaurant that we love, double whammy. So, we made last minute reservations; it ended up being a good choice.

I had never heard my friend, Mike Biggar’s, music save for a few songs online and one heard on the East Coast Music Show a few weeks ago. We actually made plans last winter to go to Saint John to hear Mike and Andy Brown play together, but weather prevented us from going. I knew Mike had a great voice; he always did. But, what was surprising was the ease with which he entertained the crowd. Not only does he play a mean guitar, but he’s a true storyteller and a bit of a comedian. It was a great dinner time show on Brewbakers rooftop patio.

When we got married, Glenn and I had our rehersal dinner at Brewbakers and we’ve gone several other times, usually with friends. Every time we’re there someone always orders the Maple Curry Chicken and raves about how good it is. The first time I had a curry dish was at a friend’s house, and I recall finding it offensive. So, I wasn’t anxious to try curry again. But, I realized that another dish I order at a different restuarant was a curry based dish and I love that. So last night, I went for it, and I must say it makes me want to go back to Brewbakers for dinner again sometime soon. Do you ever do that? Someone tells you how good something is, but you’re not ready to hear it. Then, weeks, months or even years later you ‘discover’ that same thing, all on on your own. Brewbakers Maple Curry Chicken, awesome!

Since I began blogging frequently I’ve started this other habit that some find strange. I photograph much of the yummy food I eat. Usually it is meals out, but sometimes it’s something I make. I only take photos of my food so I can share them on my blog; that’s not weird, right?

These are two do-overs. I’ll definitely make plans to see Mike Biggar perform again sometime soon, and now when we’re deciding where to go for dinner, there’s a good reason to choose Brewbakers–Maple Curry goodness.

Day 32 – The High Line

29 Jul

Last week we went to New Jersey and on Tuesday we went into NYC. We spent the day in the city and we started our day with a walk through the new High Line park. It has only been open for two years and the newest section just opened in June of 2011.

We got on the high line on 30th street and walked all the way to Ganesvoort St. in the meatpacking district. The park is three stories high and runs along the west side of Manhatten. It is along an old set of railway tracks that were donated by the railroad company to the city. The train used to go from the meatpacking district to uptown NYC but stopped operating decades ago. You can go to the High Line’s website and get a complete history and timeline.

It was H-O-T hot in NYC last Tuesday and we carried water with us all day. We drove into the city and parked in Port Authority and walked to 30th Street where we got on the high line. When we got to the staircase leading up to the part, there was an empty lot with lots of picnic tables, music playing, and a 40′ long bar at one end and a few food trucks at the other. It was a place called ‘The Lot’. It seemed to be a temorary, or perhaps seasonal, outdoor bar. I love NYC! We sat there and rested for a few minutes then climbed the stairs to the park.

All along the park there were gardens, places to sit, and many spots where you could stop and look over the edge to the street below and the buidings above. We had fun taking our time walking along and taking in the sights. When we got hungry for lunch we took one of the many staircases down onto the street and went to a fantastic burger place on the corner of 23rd and 10th. The New York Burger Co. was fast food NYC style. It was the best burger I’ve had in a long while.

After lunch we got back on the high line and walked it to the end. Besides the gardens, along the way we saw a few buskers, butterfly houses, people selling gellato and gourmet popsicles, the most interesting balconies in NYC, artwork displayed specifically for people walking the high line, and plenty of other people enjoying the park. This is something we’ll definitely do again.

We spent the whole day in NYC and after the highline we walked through Greenwich Village and stopped for milkshakes, we visited Ground Zero, walked by city hall and the Brooklyn Bridge and  spent time in Times Square. In another blog post I’ll highlight the rest of our day, but the High Line was fantastic and deserves a post all of its own. Here are just a few of the photos we took as we walked through the park:

Day 31 – July & August

28 Jul

Initially, I had misgivings about counting down the days of summer vacation. I thought it would bring up this feeling of dread as the days left became fewer than the days already past. Today I realized that we are halfway through summer vacation and I’ve got just as many days left as I’ve just had. I was away for 16 of the past 31 days, and I’ll be home for most of the next 31. Plus, at this time last year, and the year before, I was just finishing up school in Halifax and my summer was just beginning.

I’m reading, writing, going to the gym, travelling, spending time with friends and family, shopping, and relaxing. I’m having a fantastic summer and I’m equally as excited for the second half as I was the first half. Not at all like my workout this morning. When it was half over I thought, only half left to go–I can do this. When it comes to the summer, I think, it’s only half over, no need to lament yet!

I’m looking forward to getting back to school this year. No, really, I am. I decided a few years ago that September comes around, right on time, every year. I have two choices. I can like it or not. Not liking in makes me miserable and cranky; liking it gives me something to look forward to at the end of vacation. Plus, there’s something exciting about the start of a new school year. There is the smell of new school supplies, and opening new markers that no one else has ever used. There’s meeting all the new people in your classes and the new year’s resolutions that haven’t been broken yet; this goes for both teachers and students.

With the leaves changing colour and apple picking opportunities, September was already a great month. If I had to rank the months according to how much I liked them, September would be third. September brings the start of school. The teacher in me likes that school is starting, but the parent in me likes it even more. As much as I cannot wait to be free of the routines at the end of June, I’m SO ready for the routines to begin again in September. Like most, I need routine in my life. September also brings the Harvest. Oh, I like fresh vegetables that we find at the market in September, but that’s not the Harvest I meant. Every September my husband and I go to the Harvest Jazz & Blues Festival in Fredericton. It’s the week every year that our city comes alive!

Fall has typically been my favourtie season. Even as a kid I was always more excited for school to start in September than I ever was for it to end in June. Somewhere along the journey those two have traded places in my mind, but they both are exciting times of change. So, I’ve decided that September is the third best month of the year, right after July and August.

Day 30 – #38 Rekindle an Old Friendship

27 Jul

Do you remember how easy it was to make friends when you were a kid? Sometime between childhood and adulthood we learn to be embarrassed, and it keeps us from acting on impulses. This can be a very good thing; however, it can keep us from taking chances we ought to take. I remember the summer I was 12 years old. I remember knocking on the door of the new neighbours. “Do you have any kids?” I asked the man that answered the door. That was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

For a while, during Junior High School, Maureen and I were inseparable. I remember hanging out in her room reading, chatting, giggling like 12 year-old girls will do. I remember singing in her basement. She was good; I wasn’t. She still sings well. I’m worse than ever, but at least I’m aware of it now. I brought her to church and youth group with me. She was shy; me, not so much. She’s still pretty reserved; me, not so much.

Although we are very different in many ways, Maureen and I built a friendship based on common interests. Before graduation, Maureen moved away and we lost touch. But, to be honest, we had let our friendship drift apart before that. According to my husband I use the pronoun ‘we’ a bit too liberally. To be honest, I was most likely to blame for that. Being the more outgoing one, I had many friends and sometimes that’s not great for making and keeping close friendships.

In university, Maureen moved back to Fredericton to go to UNB and for the first semester we were in the same program and even had some of the same classes. We rekindled our friendship then and have mostly kept in touch since then. After our second year, I got married and Maureen got a job and stopped going to school and we didn’t see each other as often. From 1992-1999 we got together a few times a year. Maureen moved away in 1999 and moved back to Fredericton four years later. Since then we’ve been doing our once or twice a year dinners out.

Last summer we met for dinner at Montana’s and had a great chat. We agreed that we needed to get together more often, and that we wouldn’t let it go so long before we got together again. Well, that didn’t work. We let it go again (there I go using that pronoun again). So, when we met for dinner at Isaac’s Way last month we decided the only way we were going to get together more often was if we planned our next get together before we parted. So, tonight she came here for supper. In a few weeks, we’re going to the movies together.

We were talking about the nature of friendships tonight, and how we are grateful that we kept in contact through all those years. Even though we only got together once or twice a year, we could always pick up from where we left off without a hitch. Neither of us pressured the other over how much time had passed since we last met, and we were always happy to make plans with each other. Now that we are adults, we are finding even more that we have in common. We both love to read, have a passion for travel, care about our families and like to hear about each other’s. I’m so grateful to be able to rekindle friendships, especially this one.

Day 29 – Sister Wife

26 Jul

No, I’m not thinking of moving to Utah, but sometimes I think it would be wonderful to have another woman around to help with the cooking and cleaning and stuff… okay, I lie, my husband is better than two wives! Really, he is, and he’s all mine. I just finished reading Sister Wife by Shelley Hrdlitschka, and I just started reading it on Sunday. I haven’t read a book that quickly in almost ten years.

I must admit that I had a little help today from Aliant, and that’s a story in itself. The short version is this, I was told they’d arrive today to connect fiber-op and that it was an all-day job. Silly me; I assumed that meant the morning. They arrived at 5:00PM. They’ll be back in the morning. I’m thrilled. [Insert dry sarcastic tone here.] All I can say about that is, it better be worth it. Although I was upset at having to be home all day, I did enjoy the fact that my forced confinement allowed me the time to read.

I love the way Hrdlitschka chose to narrate the story using three distinct points of view. With each chapter the author shifts to a different character’s point of view. Either we read through the eyes of Celeste, or her younger sister Nanette, who are both teenagers in the polygamist community where the novel is set, or the outsider Taviana who lives with them after being rescued from a rough life outside their close-knit closed-minded community.

I enjoyed getting to know all three characters, and I must say I saw a little bit of myself in each of them. Nanette reminds me a lot of the way I used to be as a teenager. She sees things in black and white, right or wrong and doesn’t understand people who do not. She’s a rule follower. Celeste questions authority and doesn’t accept things the way others present them to her. She struggles to think for herself though this coming-of-age story. Taviana longs for safety and acceptance, and she easily adapts to her environment and learns to do what is best for herself, and those around her that she cares about.

My favourite part of the novel is in chapter eleven, when Celeste cannot sleep and gets up before dawn and goes to the porch to watch the sunrise:

“The night is still, but as I stand there admiring the shimmering sky, I hear the first bird chirp. It is followed by a second bird and then a third. One by one they welcome the day as the golden, orange and pink hues streak the eastern sky. I sink onto the top step and enjoy the sheer beauty of the sunrise. This is when I feel closest to God, when I truly feel His presence. The stunning display of colors before me is His finest work… God is not in the religious ranting. He is not in the rules, or even in the sacred book. He is here, in the beauty of this divine morning. He is in the music of the birds, in the colors of the sky and even in the goosebumps on my arms.” (pg. 129)

I have to agree with her, Celeste and Hrdlitschka. Certainly we learn something about how the author views God. I, too, feel closest to God when I take the time to appreciate the natural beauty of his creation.

I didn’t realize that the book falls into the teen fiction genre until I went to find the author’s website to link it to my blog post. Also, she is a Canadian author. These are two great reasons to love this novel even more. I’ll definitely be encouraging my students to read this one in the fall.

Day 28 – The Perfect Summer Read

25 Jul

At this rate I’ll never get through my stack of books. On my trip to New Jersey I finished reading The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill. It definitely ranks up there with the five best books I’ve read in the last ten years. If you like historical fiction, or are interested in the civil rights movement, or even just love to lose yourself in a fantastic story, this book is for you.

Even when I love a book, I’m not always happy with the way it ends. But, this one had the perfect ending and although there is not big twist and it could arguably be predictable, it is satisfying. I avoided finishing the book because I didn’t want it to end, but I must say the ending was… perfect.

Yesterday I started reading Sister Wife by Shelley Hrdlitschka. I loved The Book of Negroes, but it was one of those epic reads. Sister Wife is the perfect summer read. I was hooked after chapter one and I’ve been reading quickly. I’ll finish it in a day or two. Savanna read it last semester and I can’t wait for her to come home from Caton’s so we can talk about it. It’s so much fun to be reading the same books as my daughter.

Last summer I read The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall, both books deal with plural marriage but couldn’t be more different from each other. Udall’s book is laugh out loud funny. There is something so intriguing about reading about worlds so very different from my own.

Happy reading friends!

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