Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Force Awakens: A spoiler-ful review

Here there be spoilers.

We all know that Star Wars has been a huge part of my life.  I watched A New Hope multiple times on HBO as a child.  I saw Return of the Jedi in the theater.   Like the original run of the movie.

I also loved JJ Abrams's reboot of the Star Trek.  

Needless to say, I was stoked!!

We got to the theater incredibly early and got great seats.

And eventually the Star Wars theme started playing.  The title flashed on the screen.  The title crawl started.  And I started to cry.  I'll fully admit it.  I need to see the movie again, just so I can read the crawl.

Now, onto my thoughts:

  • This movie gets right into the thick of things.  It wastes no time in introducing the characters.
     Poe Dameron was captured.  We got to see Kylo Ren and Captain Phasma right away.  The plot was introduced (as was the McGuffin).  JJ is really good at that.  He gets you into the actipn quick.  Sometimes at the expense of plot and characterization...
  • Speaking of Kylo Ren, Adam Driver was AMAZING.  He brought this humanity to a Vader-esque role. (Also, perfectly quaffed hair, when he should have helmet head!). Where Vader was the ultimate bogey-man, Kylo Ren was a human with anger and flaws. Vader would have never murdered a harmless bank of computer if he was angry.  And smacking his wound mid-battle to pump himself up... Awesome.
  • Captain Phasma didn't have a big enough to role, in my opinion.  Please tell me that she a.) survived the destruction of the station and b.) has a big role in the next movie.
  • Rey.  We women have been waiting for a female Jedi movie protagonist.  I don't feel that I know enough about her.  But maybe that's by design... maybe she doesn't know enough about herself.  She's amazingly powerful too!  I think she's a Skywalker.
  • Finn.  I wonder if he's Force sensitive.  That's why he broke his conditioning.  he's also our "in" with the new bad guys.  I love that bravado that he's so obviously faking.
  • the New Order.  Nazis much?
  • Maz Kanata!!  I LOVED this character!  I hope she survived!
  • Han!!  Raise your hand if you knew that Han was done for as soon as he yelled his son's name?  I totally did.  But it was amazing seeing him.  Also, I wasn't surprised that he split from Leia after their son went to the Dark Side.  
  • Luke's new Jedi temple is Skellig Michel!!  Folks, that location is real.  It's a UNESCO World Heritage site.  He was only there for the end (which is why he wasn't in the marketing). I have a feeling that he'll be a big force in the next movie.
  • And now I want a BB-8 of my very own!!

It didn't play as flat as the prequels.  Some of the characterization was a bit sparse, but they seemed like real characters.  not actors badly reciting lines.  Also the real sets helped SO much!  It's the movie that we've all been waiting 30 years for.  What did y'all think?

All in all?  I want to see it again.  Tomorrow. 

And I TOTALLY still want to be a Jedi.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Reason for the Season

Christmas is fast approaching.

It's all over the TV.  It's all over television.  Retail has had Christmas decorations up since before Halloween.

Thankfully, I haven't seen much of the "War on Christmas" lately.

Why am I thankful?  Because there's no frickin' war!

Why?  Well, let's get this out of the way.  The reason that Christmas is at this is has nothing to do with the birth of Jesus.  It has all to do with the axial tilt of the earth, and the fact that multiple religions had celebrations around this time.  Yule.  Saturnalia.  My favorite is the Persian God Mithra.  His birthday is celebrated on December 25th.  His birth was witnessed by shepherds.. he cured ills and cast out devils.  he had 12 disciples...  the bible tells us that Jesus was born in the spring.

And don't get me started on Christmas Trees, holly and mistletoe, and how they are pagan in origin.

But let's not mind that now.  Let's go back to Jesus is the reason for the season.

This image is what I want to hand out to every Christian who pays lip service to Jesus, but actully don't follow what he actually said.

In this season of giving the United States wants to close it's doors to refugees.  People want to persecute Muslims.  Heath care is threatened.  Gay couple are denied foster and adoptive parenting opportunities.

The "Christians" that speak the loudest are the ones that hate gays and love guns.  How is that Christ like?

Me?  I love everything to do with Christmas.  I love the traditions.  I love the lights.  I love the cheesy Hallmark movies.

I love Christmas Town at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg.  Christmas Town is the Christmas that you remember from your childhood.  It's the Christmas that's gotten all the bad buffed away by memory.  (Sadly, there are crowds...)

My favorite place in the entire park is the Peace Bridge.  You walk the bridge between Octoberfest and San Marco.  This lovely song plays:

And you see this off in the distance.
To be, this sentiment is where it comes back to Jesus.  I want the things listed in the pictures above.

To me, those are the reason for the season.  Family.  Peace.  Helping other.

With a side of gingerbread and hot chocolate.

Friday, December 11, 2015

'Tis the Season!

It's actually the season for many things!
Yes, it's December!    I've been wearing Christmas socks since the beginning of the month!

Sadly, this December is overly warm.  I doubt that we're going to get snow just about anywhere in the country!

We've been to Christmas Town twice already.  Honestly, I'd like to go again, but maybe AFTER Christmas.  You know, when everyone in the Western Hemisphere isn't there!

This year it's been warm and weird.  Hallmark has been playing Christmas Movies, and I haven't been watching.

I've been stressed!  And why?

Because it's also Graduate Application season!  Graduate Application deadline is December 5th and the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas Graduate School Applications dominates my job!!

Somehow this week I actually finished everything in the queue!!  It's a stressful time for the applicants!  it's also a time of the year where my desk chair and by ass become one.

Somehow it's Friday.  I've been down all day.  Sad for no particular reason.  But there are good things.  I'm caught up on Grad things.  I have a DVR full of Christmas movies.

And I want Gingerbread like it's my job!!

Monday, November 23, 2015

I'm having a SERIOUS case of the Mondays!

I'm having a serious case of the Mondays today!  I suspect it may have something to do with the fact that it's a two day work week....
The morning started so well!!

I got up and did my ENTIRE workout.  I didn't slack off!  I did the whole thing full out!

Then everything else happened....

First, I had to make sure that the kittens were doing ok.  They both have been having potty issues.

Then I had to hunt up a squirt bottle.  I set up the Christmas Tree on a nice sturdy table.  Well that was a bad move.  Little Miss Bites-a-lot (Merida) started biting the tree.  I squirted her with the trusty spray bottle.  This evening I'm moving the Christmas tree.

Then Misty had to go potty.  She first used the back yard, then wanted to go around the universe.

Then I got in the car and saw my tire pressure light was on.  Wawa's air pump was broken, so I stopped at a Midas.

I got to work.... and discovered that my planner and the pile of mail that I needed to shred was still at home.

Tonight I'm waitlisted at a class at Zenya Yoga.  I got a groupon so I could try their Barre classes.  Bit with the way my day has been going, I'm not hoping that I'll make it into the class today.

Can I call a Mulligan?

Friday, November 20, 2015


My birthday is coming up fast!

And I LOVE my birthday.  I have a December birthday.  By this time everything is usually decorated for the holidays.  And we all know that Christmas is my favorite time of year!

Sadly, I've had a pretty not awesome track record of having a party and celebrating my birthday.  It's a rotten part of year to have a birthday.  It's a time of year with many family and work commitments.  Everyone usually has a cold.
And of course I'm also to blame.  I have in the past combined my birthday with trips to Busch Gardens's Christmas Town.  Not everyone can do that at the best of times.  I'm also the blame for being an adult and wanting to have a "special day," like little kids get.  I'm probably only feeling like this because I'm feeling small and emotionally vulnerable right now.  (And my fear of being forgotten is contributing as well)

In the end my birthday hardly ever goes the way I want it to, leaving me disappointing.  

So what am I going to do?  This year my birthday is on a Tuesday.  I'm going to run the Christmas Town Dark 8K.  We'll probably go back to the park after the race and see a show.
And other than that, nothing.  I'm 40.  Maybe it's time to stop celebrating my birthday.

Or maybe I'll treat myself to some wine and watch Christmas movies all day.

Sadly this already happens.  It's called "Saturday."

Some good, Some bad and Things no one wants to talk about.

I've had some good, and some bad....

The good:

  1. I'm running again!  I went out once this week.  Sadly, today's run was postponed due to some identity theft.  but I plan to run both days this weekend.
  2. I have found yummy wine!   Thanks to dad and his partner, I'm apparently a wine drinker.  And with Total Wine & More I can buy and not have to browse the store.  I buy it online and pick it up.  (They didn't pay me to say this either!  I just love that service!)
  3. I have a race in a few weeks.
  4. Christmas Town opens soon!!
  5. I have been planning my meals better.  I seem to do good until like 6pm and it all falls apart.  My goal this week is to keep it up.  To look toward dinner and make sure I don't use up all my containers before the meal is over.  Also, I need to work more on portioning.

The not as awesome:

See these two?
I've been working on some no-sew fleece blankets.

This is waht I've been dealing with:
Silly kittens!

Misty also has some sort of skin issue.  We have to wash her weekly.  So more of this:
pathetic washed puppy

Now on to the things that no one wants to talk about.

This is a VERY scary country right now.

  1. There were terrorist attacks in Paris last week.  This we know.  We even had some students over there.  
  2. We know that the terrorists were part of ISIS.  We also know that the terrorists were not refugees.  In fact, this was their agenda:
  3. Now some VERY scary rhetoric has started coming from the Republican party.  In particular, Donald Trump wants ID cards and a registry.  You know, like Hitler did...
  4. The US is refusing to take in refugees.  It's true that we need to end homelessness, especially among US Veterans.  But can't we do both?  And if the Republican party would stop blocking bills to HELP veterans, that would be great.  Also, if the US would stop looking on all Islamic people as terrorists, that would be great.  Let's remember: 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Sometimes I really want to give up.

I've been doing this trying to get healthy thing for quite a while now.

And frankly, today I'm feeling a little negative.

In the last 6 months I've gained 5 pounds.  And I can't seem to get it off.

The messed up hormones didn't help.

I try to eat right.  I exercise.

I'm currently dealing with an injury, which doesn't help.

What do I want to do?

I want to hide under my desk and eat ice cream.

What am I going to do?

I'm going to continue with my meal plan, (I found a pretty good explanation here.)

I'm also going to continue working out.  (though I want to see if I can throw an extra workout in on the weekends)

I'm going to try to run again.

I'm going to start walking during my lunch hour.  (weather permitting.  it's raining today)

Do I want to give up?  yes.

Will I?  Most likely not.

Will this defeatist mood end.  Most definitely.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

October was Breast Cancer Awareness Month... In a very personal way

I always get my yearly mammogram at the beginning of October.  I go in and never hear about it again.. no news is good news.

This year, I had to go back.

And it wasn't for nothing either.  The tech showed me the 4 very small calcifications in my right breast. 

I went right from the exam room and had to wait in an office.  The radiologist breezed in and told me that she recommended a biopsy.  She left just as quickly.  An eternity later, another woman came in to describe the procedure and schedule it.

On October 19th I went in.  I spent some very tense time with some wonderful nurses.  Then I was taken to a room.  I laid on a table and dangled my boob through a hole.  I was lifted into the air.  They took a pile of films to line up the needle.

In a few minutes, I was done.  I was lowered back onto the ground.  I went in for yet ANOTHER mammogram.  

They taped me up, and I went home.  To wait.  And to think.

I decided then and there that I was weirdly OK if they wanted to do a mastectomy.  I made mental plans about asking them to wait until after Disney.  I made mental to do lists for the temp they'd have to hire to replace me.  I mentally processed losing my hair to Chemo.  The stress was incredible, and I couldn't exercise.  or lift things.  I drank a lot of wine...

Then on the 23rd I got a call.  I was clear.  No cancer.

For everyone that has had to go through Breast Cancer treatments:  I feel for you.

Thankfully, I didn't have to do it myself.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Random Thoughts....

1.) This is SO not safe for work....

But it is SO appropriate at times!!!

2.) I'm actually not overly enthused for Halloween this year.  heck, I have YET to visit the Halloween store.  I don't know why either.  Work has been stressful (we always have 2 different lecture series in October that are a lot of work).  I've been limited in my usual stress buster: exercise.  3.) I want to eat all of the chocolate.  I really shouldn't.  But there's candy everywhere!!

3.) I'm currently listening to Black Widow: Forever Red (as an audio book).  It's not a Pulitzer Prize winner, but I'm enjoying it.  In other news, I'm thinking of picking up the paper version.

In a related note:  I'll soon need a new audiobook.....

4.) Speaking of books... one of my favorite authors has a new book.  I bought the hard cover.  I have the audio book.

Apparently sales are so dismal that even through the sequel is at the publisher's, it won't be published due to poor sales.

And that just makes me sad.

5.) I'm rather ashamed that I'm REALLY looking forward to this:

Yes, my shame knows no bounds.

But in other news, I exercised today and it was WONDERFUL!

Edited to add:

I ran across this on Facebook this morning.  I think this is a wonderful idea, not just for kids... but for everyone!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

I hated to do this...

But this morning I deferred the Massive Medal Half at the Virginia Running Festival.

I hurt myself running the Crawlin Crab.  I thought it was just regular fatigue.

But a week and a half out I'm still having pain when I run.  Heck, I have pain when I walk too much.

I visited my massage therapist.  She's awesome, by the way.  She also has a background in sports related injuries.  She touched the spot where the pain lies, and knew.  I could feel it too.

She proclaimed that the injury seems to be healing.

But this morning I knew that I shouldn't be running a half marathon in this condition.  especially not a half marathon that I wanted to be setting a personal record on.

So my new plan is to start the Jeff Galloway program again, this time in "improve your time" mode.  I'll run what I can, while also working on strength training.

I know that I'm doing the right thing.  But I still feel like a failure.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Crawlin Crab 2015 and beyond

After problems with the weather, the 2015 Crawin Crab 5K and Half happened this past weekend.

Honestly, the 5K was a good race.  I took it easy.  Apparently I needed to take it easier.

Feet into the half marathon, I knew I was in trouble.  My shins and calves were screaming in pain.  By mile 3 I called the Spousal Equivalent to ask if it was OK if I quit.  But I didn't quit.  After the 5K mark my legs started to warm up.  I had long since given up on my run timer.  I started to run blocks, and pick landmarks to run to.  Sadly, that lasted until the 10K mark.  I walked the rest of the race.

I passed the 12 mile mark and saw someone sitting on the side of the road.  It was the SE.  I cried when I recognized him.  he was worried that I was still on the course.  (he mistook 10K for 10 miles.)  He walked me to the straight away, then left to pull the car around.  

I finished the race.  My time wasn't bad.  My legs were screaming in pain.  We rode home.

At home I tried to get out of the car and couldn't.  My right calf muscle has seized up.  We limped in, and thankfully Misty went out on walkies with the SE.  I honestly scooted up the stairs on my
butt when I went to take a shower.  Once clean and dressed in jammies, I warmed up soup.  I ate it in the bread bowl that I snagged from yesterday's race.  I also made myself a smoothie (with Tropical Strawberry Shakeology)  

After long races I seem to have issues with my body temperature.  I'm always cold.  Chugging a smoothie didn't help.  With the help of a warm puppy and 5 blankets, I settled in for a well deserved nap.

The next day I got to visit the Imaging pavilion for the third time in 3 weeks.  This time it was for a breast biopsy.  I was laid on my stomach, with  my boob dangling through a hole and lifted up.  Like I was a car getting an oil change.  it wasn't too painful.  Just very scary. I did come home to some flowers.

All in all it's been a rough few days.  I'm still limping and sore from the race.  The skin of my book is all itchy and raw from the tape.  I can't exercise.  I'm rather cranky today because I couldn't exercise.

I should receive my results by Friday.  And then I can resume my life.  And figure out the next mystery.  I'm on day 75 of my cycle, which is something like 40 days too long.  And I'm gaining weight, and can't seem to do anything about it!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Strawberry Chocolate Oasis Pie

I wanted to watch the movie Waitress.  renting it would be $3 or so.  The Spousal Equivalent found it at Movie Stop for $1.99.  Score!  Now I own it.

Of course, watching it made me WANT pie.

So I did some googling on the pie that most intrigued me:  The Strawberry Chocolate Oasis Pie.  The character Joe describes it as:
“Just a pie! It’s downright expert. A thing’a beauty … how each flavor opens itself, one by one, like a chapter in a book. First, the flavor of an exotic spice hits ya … Just a hint of it … and then you get flooded with chocolate, dark and bittersweet like an old love affair …” 

Now, of course that's all there is to go on.  So I dug up three recipes:  This one form fallinginlovepie.  This one from Love & Olive Oil (generally held up as the definitive version) And this one from Jingersnaps.

So I decided to make a mixture of each.  (mainly because I gained weight just looking a the Love & Olive oil one!!)

My Version of the Strawberry Chocolate Oasis Pie

Crust:  I used a store bought chocolate cookie crust


  1. 1 cup sugar
  2. 3/4 cup butter
  3. 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  4. 4 oz semi sweet baker's chocolate (It was all I could find.  I want to try a more bittersweet kind next time.)
  5. 3/4 cup egg substitute (I had it in the house)
  6. 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  7. 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice 


  • A whole lot of strawberries, green parts cut off and halved.
  • 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Putting it together:

  1. In medium bowl, beat sugar and butter with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla, spices and cooled chocolate. Gradually add in egg substitute and beat on high speed until mixture is light and fluffy (about 3 minutes).
  2. Put a bit of the mixture on the bottom of the crust, then press in some strawberries.
  3. I then sprinkled in the vinegar.  Just a bit...
  4. Pile in the rest of the filling.  resist the urge to eat it it with a spoon
  5. put strawberries on top
  6. refrigerate

I need to try it to decide if I need darker chocolate or more spices....

(More to come... after it sets up...)

Friday, October 2, 2015

Buffalo: Canadian wine and all the Wright Stuff, Part 2

Continued from here

Saturday morning we started out to the Niagara-on-the-Lake wineries for the Niagara Wine Festival.  the concept is pretty cool.  Each winery has a wine and food pairing.  It gets people it to spend some money.

We went to the following in Niagara-on-the-lake:

Colaneri winery.  Amazing in person!
  • Strewn- to pick up some wine (they have a wine club membership there)
  • Rancourt- Lobster Bisque and Charonnay
  • Colaneri- Vegetables and pasta and Sauvignon Blanc
  • Reif Estates- Italian Sausage and Riesling
  • Pillitteri-Chicken quesadillas and Viogner
Then we made our way to Twenty Valley
Mike Weir had diet wine

Look at that view!!
What did I learn?  Go with the wine pairing with food.  And LOVE late harvest wines!  And Cabernet Franc Icewine is AMAZING!

Sunday brought us out to the Greycliff Estate.  My dad and his partner are super involved there, so I did the in depth tour!  It's is an amazing place.  Sadly, the cliff is crumbling away, and there's still a lot of work to be done.
Can you imagine spending your summers here?

Monday we did the other Wright designed estate in the area.  The Darwin Martin house is in a word: amazing.  As for the size of it, it's not the biggest, but the design of the place is amazing.  (sadly, no pictures of the inside.  Click the link!)
I now have decided that I need a Prairie Style home
On our way to the Darwin Martin house, we stopped by the Forest Lawn cemetery.  I'm hoping for a tour when I go back to visit!
Frank Lloyd Wright designed this for Darwin Martin, it wasn't built until recently 

seriously, it's a couch....

And a chair!

And an AMAZING monument!
I was in the Buffalo area for 6 short days.  On my last night there we discussed what we'd so when I come back next year.... and bring the Spousal Equivalent!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Hurricane Joaquin

According to various weather types... the storm could hit us and flatted Hampton Roads...

or it could miss us completely...


As I'm writing this the forecast models are moving more and more eastward.  Which is good!

But this also means that we need to do some hurricane prep at home.  And that we also need to do a bunch here.

I have wine to drink.  Books to read.

And a dog that is SO over all of this rain!

Stay safe everyone!