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Sunday, May 19, 2019

Mudder, Mutter, Mother's Day

As I was stepping over and through mud puddles in Washington Crossing along the canal, I came up with the title for this post: Mudder, Mutter, Mother's Day.


Part one of the day was a 10K race sponsored by RunBucks. It is a good distance for me, lately a stretch distance for me as I've been running less. The weather was horrible -- 50s and raining. Only the day before we had a beautiful blue sky while doing goat yoga. This was not that. The course was almost as muddy as a Tough Mudder course (or so it seemed to me).

To add insult to the injury of being outside on a cold, rainy day, the race started 10 minutes late. Ugh. RunBucks usually runs a tight ship. They start their races on time, and they always have great post-race food (for example, the December race has Thanksgiving dinner food at the end, the March race has tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches), plus they keep their prices reasonable.



There is nothing you can do about the weather. You can see in this picture everyone is huddled under the cover. Runners showed up late to avoid being outside. The day before the race they sent out an email saying they were short volunteers --and it showed. The first three miles had markers, but not the last three. 

I've done different distances on this course with the same group -- the 4 miler and 15K courses come to mind. This was the first time we both started and ended with the "spiral of death." I get it in the beginning -- it thins out the crowded course so the super duper fast runners can PR without us more social runners getting in the way. At the end of the race it is pure torture! The slow runners have to push through the ones who have long finished and are sauntering back to their cars with their families. You can't tell who is still just trying to finish and who finished long ago because by the end, they are all going at the same pace. When I was finished and walking back to my car I met a couple of women who still had half a mile to go. They looked at my lack of medal (what do you expect for a $20 race?) and nearly continued to their car without finishing. We did get a lovely women's cut tee-shirt (the few men participating received a pint glass instead) and a carnation at the finish line, but no medal, which I am fine with at this stage in my running career.


I finished about where I expected to. I can do 1:10 for a 10k, but wasn't feeling it that day. The puddles were awful and unavoidable. For the last half there was no one close enough in front of me to try to pass, and no one close enough behind me I was afraid of passing me. Don't let anyone tell you differently -- there is a lot of psychology involved with running. It is not all physical. My head was clearly not in it. It did not help that my GPS stopped working for nearly a mile, and the lack of mile markers made me question where I was and how I was doing. See, psychological.

After a warm shower, Don, Ashley, and I went into Philadelphia to visit the Mutter Museum with free library passes.

It was still raining. It was still cold. Don scored street parking around the corner from the museum.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Mutter Museum, it is a museum of medical oddities. Some are pretty cool, others are nightmare inducing. My favorite part were the beautiful wood cabinets.


"Alice in Wonderland" explained scientifically.
One statistic I am wrestling with is the museum states 83% of the US population has their ears pierced. I found an article on racked.com that supports this stat. While I do know men with at least one pierced earlobe, in my world they are the exception and not the rule. I did not see the word "women" or "females" by the stat.

We were only allowed to take pictures in the lobby due to the fragility of the items on display. Therefore you are spared from seeing fetuses. skulls, and the world's largest intestine here. If I had been allowed to photograph, I don't know what I would have taken pictures of. An image of the skeleton of a very tall person (7'6") was in the lobby allowing us to photograph it next to a 5'2" person.

We only spent an hour there, partially because the exhibit we did want to see (Bones, Books, and Bell Jars) was closed for a private event. At $18 for an adult, it seems a bit steep. Check with your local library before going to see if they, too, offer day passes.


Mother's Day was rounded out with dinner at Rossi's. After a day of being in the rain, it felt good to have a bowl of soup and some red meat. Don and Ashley gave me some presents to help prepare me for my big trip this summer.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Introducing ... Glinda the Girl Dragon

Last night we welcomed back the pitter-patter of little feet -- little dragon feet that is. After a two month saga, Glinda the Girl Dragon joined our family.

Friends remember hearing stories about Sandy Claws Dragon, our beloved dragon who died 21 months ago at the age of 13 1/2. We have known for a while that we wanted another dragon, but were having troubles finding one. I did not want a baby dragon. They are too much work and too fragile and eat way too many crickets. Sandy was 8 when we adopted him.

Two months ago we were in Petco in Mercer Mall and saw Glinda. She seemed full-grown to us, though they were insisting she was only six months old. Hmm... I brought Don back. I just wasn't ready yet. A week later I returned, only to find out she was not there. I was told she was in the back with a suspected case of tail rot. They took her to a vet.

Every so often either I called to check on her (pretty convinced she is a girl dragon because of the lack of spores on her under side) or they called to give me an update. A couple of busy months later (planning my first gala, Ashley's college tours, the spring play, etc. etc.) and Paige from Petco called me to say I could pick her up. Paige (the in-house animal handler) suspects it is not tail rot, only a kink, possibly an injury when she was younger. She also said she is over a year old -- has been there the whole year she has worked at Petco. Petco refused to pay for more testing, but nothing has changed with two months of observation in the quarantine zone. We will take her to our vet soon to get a baseline on her.
We put Glinda in Sandy's smaller tank, but will probably put her in the larger one soon. Glinda is a great climber. She eagerly snatched up the crickets today. She is cute and cuddly, loves to latch on to whoever is holding her. We are cautious around Kitty Lucy and Charlie Cat, but so far they seem to remember that Dragons Rule.

Yes, she does look a lot like Sandy, but is much smaller and has a full tail. She is probably also considered a "fancy dragon" with the diamond markings on her back.

So far she is ignoring my salads even though I've been told she is a good eater. Holding out for more crickets? Eating when I am not looking? Trying to adjust to the new space? Am I not cutting the food small enough? I should just give it a few more days.

Goat Yoga

Let Ashley's birthday week celebration begin with Goat Yoga.

We are fully aware that some of you are reading this and laughing us (one being Cousin Laura). Today we went to  Knowhere Farm in Chesterfield, NJ to do Goat Yoga with Zephyr Yoga. It is pretty much what you would expect ... a yoga instructor calls out poses and we do them while having goats crawl on us. It is a craze.



In this case, goat yoga was a fundraiser for NBC Thespians, a school theater group going to Nebraska for a competition. Half of our $30 fee went to the school, and half to the yoga studio. 

Twenty-two of us came out on a perfect spring day -- 60 degrees and sunny. We spread our mats (or in our case our throw blankets) on the grass in a penned up area. The farmers bring the goats to us.

Throughout the yoga session the farmers spread goat food on us and our mats to encourage the goats to hang with us. It was both fun and distracting. I'd get into the yoga zone and be stepped on or bumped into. 

Yes, we were stepped on. In my case my foot was stepped on twice (same foot) and my back (we made an archway for them to crawl under, but they thought over was more fun). Fortunately we were not peed or pooped on, though those are possibilities, after all we are in their home and they are free to be, well, animals.


Definitely an experience. Ashley said she would like to go back sometime, even though there was no hanging upside down like she does in Aerial Yoga.

Knowhere Farm offers goat yoga on the first and third Saturdays of each month. They are raising funds to restore their 200-year old farm house and other farm-related projects.





Now smile for the camera while little goats are crawling on you.






Nursing the little ones. A mother's work is never done.


Cousin Laura Comes to New Jersey

Cousin Laura's Spring Break was the same week as ours, so she came out to spend it with family. Her adventures included time with each of her cousins, her NJ aunt and uncle, and seeing three plays. Our time together included a tour of Wagner College, followed by seeing "Tootsie." An unplanned highlight was seeing Alexander Hamilton's grave and Ground Zero.


By pure happenstance, a friend of Cousin Laura is the former teacher of the stage manager at "Tootsie."
Sam gave us an amazing backstage tour.



Riding the Staten Island Ferry back to Wagner College.

Alexander Hamilton's grave at Trinity Church,


Ground Zero

Riding the subway


Laura, Queen of the Selfies.


On Tuesday we went into Princeton. Saw the grave of Alexander Hamilton's nemesis, Aaron Burr, and had some ice cream at Bent Spoon.


Tough choices. I went with Churoset and Manoschevitz --must be Passover. Plus dark chocolate and orange.
Aaron Burr's grave.
Grover Cleveland and John Witherspoon are also buried here.

Junior Year Spring Break

By the second half of junior year in high school, the college search suddenly gets real. We've been told the ideal time to visit a school is when it is in session, which coincides with when Ashley is in school. She doesn't like to play catch up, so the only answer was to go during Spring Break. Unfortunately this year Spring Break was late and was the week before Tech Week for the spring show. We toured six colleges in three states over Spring Break, and missed two days of rehearsals.

Monday
Wagner College, Staten Island, NY
On paper, a truly wonderful match. On tour, a truly wonderful match. On return to see a play, a truly awful match. What happened? While Wagner College is a great school for aspiring Broadway actors, they do not have a set designer on staff. Since Ashley wants to really learn how to be a set designer, it was a bad match.

Followed the tour with seeing "Tootsie" in previews on Broadway with Cousin Laura. We wanted to see how easy it is to get from campus to New York City. The answer is very easy, and very cheap (shuttle from campus and Staten Island Ferry are both free).

Tuesday: rest day

Wednesday
Lehigh University and Desales University
There is nothing like touring a college on a perfect Spring Day. Lehigh is a stunning campus. It is a popularn stop on the round of college campuses to visit. We went to the introductory rah-rah talk and skipped the tour to meet with a friend of a friend who is a set design professor. She told us how students dive into the program. Students from all majors can work in Tech Theater. The engineering students love working with set design because there is an immediacy to the end result -- it is called opening night.

Desales University
Desales is a small Catholic college ten minutes from Lehigh University. On paper, it seemed like a perfect match. We met a performing arts student in November who raved about her school. We went to a show ("Pippin") and were blown away. We had a fabulous tour with two theater majors. In reality, I think Ashley is tired of Catholic education. There were other reasons, but she quickly wrote it off.

Thursday
Rest day. Thank goodness!

Friday
Montclair University
After a three-hour generic  tour in the rain, Ashley was meh about the place. Okay, the tour wasn't really that long. After seeing a play at Wagner and talking to a recent alumnus, and scheduling a visit with the theater department on June 1, it is back on the list.

Ramapo University
Between the rain, the length of the Montclair tour, and my lack of ability to judge how long it will take to get from Place A to Place B, we were really late to the Ramapo Tour. They kindly gave us a student ambassador who gave us the quick tour as we caught up to the rest of the group. All we missed was the Freshman dorm. They are ranked #1 in NJ for dorms and was told it was worth returning to see them. The rest of the tour was good. At the end, someone took us back to the theater so we could have a look around. Looks like a nice stage. We really should return for a visit with someone from the department. The campus is only 50 years old (as of this November). It was a pleasant surprise.

Saturday
Back to Wagner to see "Pirates of Penzance." Fabulous talent on stage. 

Sunday
Rider University
Don and I returned to Rider. The tour was geared for theater majors, but did not take us backstage. We did see the theater dorm and checked out one of their two theaters (the other was in the middle of a rehearsal for a show). It is still on the list (this was at least our third visit), but as it is across the street from where I work, might be deemed too close.

The search continues.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

"World Beneath My Feet"


On Friday night Don and I saw the movie "World Beneath My Feet" about Matt, a man who spent six years walking every street in New York City. After 8,000 miles he called it quits to work on the movie (follow the above link), but in the past three years he has walked at least another 1,000 miles and still has more to go. In addition to the streets, Matt walked every pier, park, cemetery, bridge, abandoned property, etc. After two and a half years of walking, his friend Jeremy tagged along to document part of his journey over a three and a half year span. They then compiled the 600 hours of footage into a 90-minute documentary. He blogged off-and-on about his experience.

To put 8,000 miles into perspective, Matt's previous journey was a cross-country walk that was 3,500 miles from Rockaway Beach, New York to Rockaway Beach, Oregon, which took four months. 

Matt's New York experience included talking to a lot of people, engaging with them, photographing his surroundings, and researching what he saw. He sustained his lifestyle by cat sitting, couch surfing, and watching apartments. I see his website has a link for donations.


After the movie there was a Q&A with the director and the star. I wish we could have stayed later. I wondered how many shoes he went through, and other logistics. Someone did ask about bathrooms, and he admitted as a guy he had a biological advantage over a woman doing the same trip. 

The movie was shown at the newly renovated Hopewell Theater as part of Princeton Public Library's annual Environmental Film Festival.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Surprise Visit in Spring Lake

Last Sunday was a beautiful day in New Jersey. After a gloomy (though not very 
snowy) winter, spring arrived. Don and I decided to take advantage of the lovely day with a walk on the boardwalk (about an hour away).

That always prompts the question, which one? Belmar is the closest. Point Pleasant is the most touristy. Asbury Park and Ocean Grove we went to recently. Ocean City is nice, but farther away. 

For some reason that day we chose Spring Lake, possibly because of its charming Main Street area. We had no idea we were in for a pleasant surprise. The day before Spring Lake unveiled a Seward Johnson Sculpture Exhibit (running through July 7, 2019) featuring 16 of his his "celebrating the familiar" sculptures.

We've been Seward Johnson fans for a long time. The year he took over Grounds for Sculpture with his statues (only fair because he owns the grounds), we became members.
We have seen his sculptures all over the globe, in New York City, at the Corcoran in DC with Dave and Wendy, plus random spottings that did not make the Pillsbury Press. His statues of people are iconic.

After walking the boardwalk, we looked for the four-block Main Street, which is actually called 3rd Avenue (a name that will help us find it next time). As we drove into town on Passaic Avenue we saw our first Seward Johnson sculpture (Allow Me) across from the train station, but thought the town only owned one and did not stop. We didn't realize it was part of an exhibit. Later that became the last sculpture we saw. All in all, there are 16 sculptures. You can easy see them all in an hour, even with stopping to pose with the sculptures and take pictures.

As we stopped and took pictures, we noticed others doing the same. Families were having fun interacting with them. They made people smile. 

Here are the sixteen statues:


Bunnies Don't Bite

Keeping in Touch


Return Visit
Food, Wine, and Thou (with Special Delivery in the background)

Weekend Painter
Sidewalk Concert

The coins in the bricks are part of the exhibt

Just a Taste


Ambassador of the Streets (in front of an upscale pet store)

Uninvited Advice

Who's in Charge


Crossing Paths


Yuck, Go Fetch

Big Sister


Special Delivery

Note the address on the top letter: a letter from the IRS to Seward Johnson

Photo Shoot
Allow Me

Many of these sculptures were first created in the 1980s and 1990s. They are cast bronze, and remade over the years, therefore you can see the same statue in different places on the same day. The attention to detail is like a time capsule. The Members Only jacket, the Jordache jeans, the brands of sneakers ... all evoke memories in those of us old enough to have seen the originals in our daily lives. 

The exhibit is free and worth seeing if you are in the area before July 7th.