Monday, April 29, 2013

Welcome Back Pine Valley

On September 23, 2011, "All My Children" aired their final episode on TV. During the Tribute to Pine Valley tour on the blogs there was much talk of it coming back in January 2012, but online this time. 

There were many questions -- how would this happen? Would it still be free? Who would come back? How would it be different?

One thing led to another and it didn't happen. The ending of the show was left with lots of closure, yet open ended enough that it could pick up where it left off. When it was announced that it would not continue, I'll admit, I felt robbed of a decent closing. The last scene had JR pointing a gun at a room filled with most of Pine Valley and Tad Martin giving a speech that would make his adopted father proud. The gun fires, and the show ended.

Fast forward to 2013. An announcement is made that The OnLine Network (TOLN) will start showing new episodes of "All My Children" on April 29, 2013. Prospect Park is the creator of the new shows.

Back to the online flurry of questions: how will this happen? Will it still be free? Who will come back? How will it be different?


Rather than posting the answers on FaceBook, I'm posting them here.

Each day (starting a midnight (or is it 5 AM?)) a new episode will air for free at You have to watch a 1 minute ad (no biggie). Up to 10 episodes will be available. If you need to back further than that, subscribe to Hulu Plus. can only be watched on a computer. Hulu Plus allows you to connect it to your TV set. mobile device or tablet and it eliminates commercials. So far I'm fine with it on my laptop.

Many favorites came back: Brooke, Adam (who had retired when the show moved to California), Opal, David, Bianca, Joe (who also retired), Cara, Griff, Angie, Jesse, Cassandra, Zach, and a few others. Missing, though for one reason or another, Erica (how can the show continue without Susan Lucci?), Jack, Tad, Kendall, and so far no JR (the actor is on a different soap and could not work out an agreement, I heard he was being recast). 

The episodes are only 30 minutes long instead of 60. Not much difference when you factor in there were a lot more commercials on TV.

The show is set on the 5th anniversary of the shooting. Accept that shooting took place in the Fall and the show is set in the Spring and move on. Accept that most of the actors have barely aged 18 months (in some cases look younger due to some rest). Accept that the kids have been aged at odd increments (elementary school kids are now in high school, older kids are now post college age) and move on. It is a soap after all.

The show is already definitely steamier. Already AJ has dropped his towel, Jesse and Angie have gone at it on the couch, and Cara has had a fantasy scene with David. Hope the actors used their time off at the gym. ;)

The new sets are beautiful. Opal now has a home. I'll miss that the outdoor scenes are now filmed in Connecticut instead of Princeton, New Jersey. Beats when they filmed the outdoor set in California, though.

AMC has not added many new characters (so far), but the addition of the older kids is going to take a few days to adjust to. Bianca, who still looks to be in her 20s is mom to Miranda, who is now in high school instead of being Ashley's age. Same with AJ and Dixie, except they are supposed to be grandson and grandmother. That type of thing.

The first episode tried to answer some questions as to what happened during the last five years. Today they implied Tad has been in a coma this whole time (leaves room for a return!). Sounds like David was involved with the shooting? Lucy (the baby Jesse stole for Angie) was in their lives for the past five years. She stayed the same age and just moved to Portland. Brooke and Adam are still together, but not yet married (AMC loves to put on weddings). Lots of questions still. 

This format is nice because you can log in at anytime to watch it. No setting the VCR (yes, I'm still stuck in the 1990s). I can watch it anywhere in the US. Sounds like they struck a deal with Canada, too. I'm not up on those details.

I thought my AMC habit was dead. I no longer twitch at 1 PM to watch it. I hardly ever scowl at my parents when they talk about "Days of Our Lives." Today, that changes ... I can resume visiting my friends and wondering my my grandmother would have thought of this transition. Wondering where these story lines will go.

Tune in tomorrow for more happenings.

Day 2: maybe yesterday's guesses were all wrong? I miss KathyPVB's spoiler alerts. 

Some questions are answered here. There will only be four episodes a week, with Friday airing a recap. So instead of the Friday cliffhanger, we can look forward to Thursday cliffhangers. 

Seriously into Training for D3

My 17-week training schedule says I just finished week 2, however my legs are telling me I finished week 1.

This is my first time training for back-to-back races: The Dumbo Double Dare, a.k.a. D3. On August 31st I will run 6.2 miles. The next morning I return to the start line for a half marathon. Lots of bling is involved -- one for each race, another for doing the two back-to-back, and a fourth one for completing the Coast-to-Coast challenge (begun with the Princess half). There is another one for eating bacon along the course (or the vegetarian option) and a fifth one for being "Mad as a Hatter." The last one is hard to explain.

The first week of training was just like any other week I run -- 30-45 minutes (2.5-4 miles) twice a week, and a long run of 3.1 miles on Sunday. Instead I ran 8K on that Sunday (4.97 miles).

Week two started off just like week 1, then it added a twist for the weekend: back to back runs. Ouch! I ran 3.1 miles on Saturday. Sunday called for 6.2 miles. My overall time was okay (I ran a 12:10 mile overall, even though the first mile was closer to 11:30). My legs were feeling it!

1) I'm so glad I found a training program that includes a few back to back training runs (5 out of the 17 weeks).
2) I'm really glad today is a rest day!
3) I reminded myself during the run it will be easier at Disney because during the race I'll be resting often to take pictures. If I can run it in Mercer County alone, I'll have no troubles in California with all those people.

This weekend many ladies I know ran in the Nike Women Half Marathon in DC. The prize for finishing was a Tiffany necklace, complete with the light blue box. This was the first year for this race. Registration was by lottery. I want to enter in the lottery next year.

I came to the conclusion this weekend that the swag is turning into a factor for choosing one race over another. A race that has women-cut tech shirts as an option wins out over one with cotton tees or unisex cut tech shirts. Medals or necklaces for finishing are also a must. Exceptions for local races that do not involve travel or insane schedules.

This week kicks it back a notch -- two 20-45 minute runs and a long run of 5 miles on Sunday. I can do it!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Quick trip to NYC

Continuing with the recent theme of things I could or should be doing with all that free time while Ashley is in school (Thunder game, movie) was a quick jaunt into NYC to see a show.

We are lucky we live close to both New York City and Philadelphia. People in our neighborhood commute to those cities. We, though, only go to each one a couple of times a year. Our most recent trip to NYC was earlier this month when we saw "Newsies." 

There are lots of excuses for not going into NYC -- it isn't cheap, it is only easy-ish (parking is a hassle, the trains don't run as often as I would like, it takes about 2 hours to get to NYC from our house when you factor in driving to the train station, catching a train, etc.). Still, we are lucky it is so close to us.

This week Noemi, a friend from Sustainable Lawrence, is starring in a one-woman off-Broadway show that she wrote and is also producing called "The Fountain of Youth." Anyone in theater will tell you that is a lot of hats to wear for a show.

I took the train in with Noemi -- thus eliminating the hurdle of finding parking at the Princeton Junction Train Station. Since I was going to her show, I took the train back with her and her husband, Ron.

While in NYC, I made a pilgrimage stop to the New York Public Library to visit old friends from the 100 Acre Wood. They moved to NYC in 1987. It was a quick visit. 

I had dinner at The Counter -- a burger place on the corner of Broadway and 41st Street. Bill told us about this place during our last visit to NYC. It is amazing -- I had a vegan veggie burger with goat cheese, grilled pineapples, roasted red peppers, roasted onions and artichokes on a ciabatta roll with a side of sweet potato fries. They also have chicken, turkey burgers, beef, and bison. Lots and lots of choices.

The play was the first half of a double bill. It was fun. I was most impressed that Noemi could easily switch between 10 different characters with a shift in her body language, voice and minimal props. She even played a man. The play was very thought provoking. We talked about it during the ride home.

The other play was "Cowl Girl." Three actors each only playing one role. The actor playing Jason reminded me of my eye doctor. The actor playing Alex bore a strong resemblance to someone I know from SVP. I kept thinking it was them on the stage! Each role showed significant growth in 75 minutes. Both shows were part of an acting workshop. The hope is to hone the productions and keep finding new venues (and new funding) for future productions.

It is always fun supporting a friend in the arts.

I was a bit beat today, though. Not used to coming home after midnight, being up in time for the school bus, and having a full day. I'm ready for the weekend!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Mid-Day Trenton Thunder Game

 Once again, Sharon invited me to do something I should have been doing since Ashley returned to bricks and mortar school. Instead of the movies, this time she invited me to a mid-week day Trenton Thunder baseball game on April 17.

The game started at 10:35 -- a good time, perhaps, for school groups. An odd time for baseball players and their routines. 

The game started with overcast skies and very little need for sunscreen. As we walked up to the concourse, Sharon and I swapped tales about our worst sunburns happening at this stadium. Mine was May 16, 2002 -- the day before Ashley was born. Hers was in April a different year. I should have worn sunscreen as when the skies cleared in the 7th inning, the rays seemed to shine down on my face and neck.

We both brought our cameras. Sharon's camera is just a wee bit larger than mine and smidge more powerful (both vast understatements). She and Thunder prospect, Tyler Austin, have formed a connection through her photography. Though she is a die-hard Mets fan, she roots for Tyler. We both took some pictures of him playing. He was the DH that day, hence no pictures of him in the field. He drew two walks and scored once. Not a bad day for him.

Unfortunately it was not enough for Thunder and they lost 10-6.

This was my first game since the 2011 season. Hopefully I'll make it a habit to return to many more games. I just love sitting in the stands and watching the game unfold before me. The pace is very relaxing and soothing, with a few jolts of electricity tossed in to keep fans on their toes.

Go Thunder!

Rutgers Unite Half Marathon and 8K

As I wrote earlier in the week, I had absolutely no intention of running the Rutgers Unite Half Marathon or the 8K. It starts at 8 AM on Sunday morning. I've just resumed training for the Dumbo Double Dare coming up at the end of the summer. It wasn't on my radar.

Then the bombing took place at the Boston Marathon. I suddenly wanted to connect with the running community by doing a race.

Meanwhile on FaceBook. I read about other friends running the Rutgers race. Most were doing the half marathon, but my training buddy Sharon was doing the 8K. I did the math. 8K=4.97 miles. THAT I could do, and do well.

Sharon graciously saved me a drive to Rutgers on Saturday and picked up my race packet. I returned the favor and drove her to and from the race today. I picked her up in West Windsor at 6:30 AM. We parked in the familiar parking lot on College Avenue -- the same one we used for our SCILS classes when we were earning our MLIS degrees. 

We miraculously caught the shuttle bus to the starting area, thus sparing ourselves a 20 minute walk to the start. I saw the Bronc for the first time and had Sharon snap my picture with him. The half marathon started at 8. Us 8K runners started 15 minutes later. My goal was to finish before the first half marathoner crossed the line (same finish line). My second goal was to finish in under an hour. I made the latter goal, but not the former one. Darn super fast runners!

The race took place over the Rutgers New Brunswick campuses. As a grad student, all but one of my on-line classes was in SCILS (School of Communication Information and Literary Services), with one held in a different building, and the rest online. I never made it to the other campuses. This race was a nice tour of the area.

Unlike most of my races lately, I only took this one mid-course, and that was within the first mile. We started at the Rutgers Stadium on Busch Campus. Ran past Johnson Park. Over the Raritan River to Buccleaugh Park (a couple of hills here). Up another hill and we were at the College Avenue building. Before I knew it, we were passing SCILS and the finish line was within sight.

For the most part I kept with my training and ran 3 minutes and walked 2. A couple of hills made me walk an extra 40 seconds. Not bad at all. 

I heard my name announced as I was crossing the finish line! What a great feeling. I finished with a smile and easily bumped into Sharon who finished nearly 4 minutes before I did.

I finished at 57:09.6 -- a PR for the 8K distance since it was my first 8K, and nearly 3 minutes faster than my only 5 miler. By mile 4.5 I was lapped by the first half marathoner. Right after I crossed the finish line i heard the their half  marathoner was about to cross. I feel great about it!

The post-race food was the best I've seen -- or maybe that is since the half marathoners hadn't finished yet, I was ahead of the crowd instead of behind them and there was lots of well-organized food left. We had pasta salad, cookies, fruit, water, Coke, and a delicious yogurt parfait. The snacks got me through the car ride from Sharon's house to mine. 

Before the race, Gabrielle, Sharon and I decided to wear our Sparkle Skirts. Sharon's friend Stacey also wore her skirt. Unlike Disney races, the Sparkle Skirt made us stand out. I had lots of comments from the crowd about my skirt. It was fun! Since I registered so late, I did not have my name on the bib, but I was still cheered on because of the skirt and pony tail holder.

I wore blue and yellow in honor of Boston. Sharon was wearing Rutgers Colors. Someone from the Trenton Half Marathon saw me in my Trenton Half shirt and took our picture for their FaceBook page.

Sharon gave me a lovely pom pom pony tail holder so I was sporting some Rutgers scarlet.

I'm glad I did it. There was awesome crowd support along the route. I saw at least 4 bands in our 5 miles (not sure if there were more for the half marathon crowd). Several water stops, even though it was cool enough we didn't need it. 

Starting temp: 40 and breezy. Ending temp: 48 and breezy.

It was sunny. :) 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Spring has Sprung

We spent five years looking for this house. We've lived in it nearly 13 years so far (signed the paperwork on it on April 28, 2000, but waited for the former owners' children to finish the school year before we moved into it). 

After all these years I'm still amazed by how pretty it looks in the Spring. I always try to take pictures on that magical day when the sky is blue and the trees are all in bloom. These are some pictures from that day.

This also marked the week someone came and ground the last of our willow tree. :( Time to plant something new in it's place.

Princeton Running Company's Run for Boston

Last week the world was rocked by the news of bombings taking place at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. This has hit the running community particularly hard.

No matter how slow we are, the Boston Marathon is the penultimate race to run. With most races, you just need a fast finger, and a willing credit card, to register for a race. With Boston, you need a super fast marathon qualifying time (a BQ) to be invited to then have the super fast finger and willing credit card to complete the registration process. 

This week the running community has united to show the terrorists and the world that we will not stop running just because of the bombing. Races will continue to happen. If anything, this event has made us even stronger as a group. Pretty amazing when you consider most training runs happen alone, or with a friend or two, not en masse as happens in a race.

Wednesday night (April 17), Don, Ashley and I joined 70 other runners for a "Run for Boston" hosted by the Princeton Running Company. Prior to the run store employees spoke about Boston. Each of the three staff members had run Boston -- one that year. She finished an hour before the explosions. Meghan, another staff member, was working the Boston Marathon Expo. We had a moment of silence, and then we were off for a one-mile route.

\\We ran down Nassau Street to Olden to Prospect to Washington and back up to Nassau Street. Ashley was not feeling well that day, so we walked behind the group. This was Don's first run with his five-finger sneakers bought for next month's SuperHero Race.

I'll admit I was the only one wearing a Sparkle Skirt. Don was the only one in denim shorts for that matter!

It was a good showing of solidarity. I heard there was a candlelight run in Cherry Hill that night, and a huge run in Philadelphia.

Tomorrow I'll be wearing my Sparkle Skirt again as I run the Rutgers 8K. This time I know I won't be the only one as my friends Sharon and Gabrielle are also wearing their Sparkle Skirts. 

More on that race tomorrow.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Boston Marathon

Impossible to understand.

These are but a few of the many emotions running through my head today as I read about the bombing at the Boston Marathon.

I can't imagine qualifying for Boston and having something like this happen to ruin the experience. I can't imagine watching someone run the dream of their lives only to have it end in horror.

Crossing the finish line and having your legs blown off and your life forever changed?
Cheering on a friend or family member and dying watching? Or being critically injured?
Being further back in the pack and not getting a chance to cross -- understanding why not, but still a loss to a dream?
Crossing the finish line earlier and wondering "what if?"
When you talk about running Boston it will always be "the year the bombs went off" and not "the year I finally qualified."
Knowing someone involved and wondering where they were when the bombs exploded. Are they safe?

Is this the end, or will they find more bombs tonight?

Why do the crazies have to ruin life for the rest of us?

In honor of the runners, I decided today to sign up for this Sunday's Rutgers 8K run. Even though I have friends running it, and it is at my alma mater, I was not even on the fence about it. I was not planning on doing it at all. Now I want to be part of the running community so we can stand together and show we are stronger than the bad guys.

Someone suggested on the PBRC board that tomorrow (Tuesday) we all wear shirts from past races (or from Boston) to show the world just how many runners exist. I will probably never qualify for Boston, but tonight I am proud to call myself a runner. 

Update from April 16: wearing my Disneyland Half Marathon shirt and Sparkle Skirt as I ran 4 miles in the area. Will change into a clean and dry running shirt to wear the rest of the day. Good is always stronger than evil. 

Update from April 17: is a great source for reading about the feelings of the running community as we each process what happened in Boston. It is a compilation of different blogs, including The Pillsbury Press. It includes pictures of people running for Boston.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Beautiful Day for a Run

photo.JPGLest you all think all I do when I run is complain, I thought it was time to write something more positive about running.

Today was the day when New Jersey jumped from our one-day Spring right into summer. We left the 60s behind and leaped into a high in the 80s. Absolutely beautiful! It was the first day of the year I needed to make sure I went out for a run before it got too hot. Also the first day of the year I could break out my tank top.

Due to a scheduling conflict, I cut back from an anticipated 4 mile run to "only" a 3.5 miler. I still can't believe I think like this at all. It felt so good being out in the sun!

With the warmer weather I decided it was time to break in my new running skort. I found this Danskin skort at Wal-Mart for only $9.96. I had visions of wearing this with my hot pink tank top, Princess Minnie ears, and perhaps some white compression sleeves to give a Princess Aurora look (Sleeping Beauty to most of us). 

Well, this was a case of you get what you paid for. The shorts under the skirt kept riding up on my legs (think "chafing"). I love the look, but even if I wore this outfit for the 10K portion of the Dumbo Double Dare (D3), I would not be able to run the half marathon the next day. 

Perhaps I'll look for another running skort, and just get a new Sparkle Skirt at the race expo in Anaheim. After all, part of the fun of running in a Disney race is wearing a cute costume and I don't want to wear the same one two days in a row.

Happy to no longer worry about slipping on the ice and snow until well after D3.

Saturday, April 6, 2013


I have fond memories of seeing Broadway shows over the years. I still remember seeing "Annie" with the Girl Scouts. Joy, a high school friend, just told me seeing that show changed her life. After seeing "Annie" she knew she wanted to be a performer. I have fond memories of seeing her on stage in high school.

Speaking of high school, back in those dark ages I remember the school sponsoring trips to see Broadway shows. I think I saw at least two shows that way, but the one that stands out is "Brighton Beach Memoirs." I remember the mass moving up from the last row to the front of the balcony as there were so many empty seats and it was the custom of the day to move up to the more expensive seats. I also remember thinking in a couple of years Chuck, another high school friend, could replace Matthew Broderick in the lead.

As an adult, I had a meeting in NYC so the company paid for me to spend the night in the city. Don joined me. We went to the TKTS building and bought last minute half-price tickets to see "Miss Saigon." I wish we lived closer so we could take advantage of that deal more often.

i remember seeing "Beauty and the Beast" and "Lion King" with Don early in our marriage. We saw "Beauty and the Beast" a second time to celebrate my sister Melissa's birthday.

When Ashley was 5 we took her to see "Mary Poppins" on Broadway. THAT was one of the most magical experiences of our lives. We were chatting with the stage door manager before the show. He introduced us to each of the actors as they came in for their calls. We were invited inside for a back stage tour led by one of the crew. He let us take pictures of ourselves on the stage, and gave Ashley a broken prop. We were invited back for another back stage tour, which was led by "Mr. Banks." During the second tour we were not allowed to sit on the set. 

A year later we were serenaded by Young Nala and Young Simba after seeing "Lion King." We learned a lot from their moms about what life is like for a young Broadway performer. 

Fast forward a few years to Spring Break 2013. A deal from Disney credit card gave us the push we needed to go into NYC to see "Newsies" on Broadway. The show was phenomenal! The singing and dancing are quite entertaining. Everyone on stage looked like they were living their dreams and having the time of their lives. I will concede, though, that the plot is extremely thin. You go to this show for the dancing not for the plot twists.  On the other hand, this makes it a great show to bring kids to because it is so entertaining.

I feel we had the best seats in the house. The coupon let us choose just about any seat for their discounted price, so we chose wisely. We were 5th row mezzanine in the dead center. The seats, in the balcony, are extremely steep, which meant Ashley could see over the head of the lady in front of her. As we were in the last row before the aisle, we did get her a booster seat so she could see even better.

The theater itself is tiny -- no wasted space on a wide lobby so it is a log jam to get inside, and another one to get out. The traffic flow in the ladies' room was nice (I know some of you care about this). By the time we left there was such a crowd around the actors, who were enthusiastically signing autographs, and we were tired from a long day walking around NYC, so we walked the two blocks to the Port Authority Parking Lot. I think Ashley was asleep before we left NYC.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Jon Naar Photographer

Quick -- how old do you think this man is? 

Jon Naar mesmorized a crowd of photographers, and photography-admirers at a talk today at the New Jersey State Museum in Trenton. Now through May 5 (coincidentally his 93rd birthday), his work is on display in a room on the 2nd floor of the museum. In 40 minutes he spoke about four styles of his photographs: 

  • black and white images taken in Europe in the early 1960s 
  • advertising photographs from the early days of his career 
  • photographing famous people in the 1960s 
  • his famous pictures of NYC graffiti in the 1970s
His work spanned the days from when he was a "weekend" photographer to a picture of Times Square taken last year -- more than 5 decades of photographs.

If this link works ( it will be a great chance for out-of-the-area friends to visit the exhibit. It isn't working for me tonight.

There are a lot of amazing things you can say about Jon Naar and his career -- and they would all be true. He is charming. He is well-traveled and well-liked. He has had his eye on the pop culture scene for the second half of the 20th century -- his friend, Norman Mailer, wrote the introduction to his first book on graffiti and he famously photographed Andy Warhol, just to name two examples. He is a photographer. He is an artist. He is a man who moved from New York City to Trenton in 2000 -- at the age of 80 -- and has made many new friends. He is very active both physically and socially. 

Listening to him speak today what stood out was that he did not become a professional photographer until he was 44, and yet has had a career in that field for nearly 50 years. I'm 43. It is not too late for me to find a passion and have a career spanning decades.

It would be an understatement to say I want to be him when I "grow up." I want to have his ability to constantly make new friends (while keeping the old --like the Girl Scout song). I want to be up for new adventures and to take on new challenges. I want to find my passion and follow it.

Don met Jon Naar 13 years ago on a bike ride through Trenton. After introducing each other Jon said "I moved into your old house." At that point the house was still on the market, so that wasn't quite true. What was true, though, was that he acquired our old phone number. 

As we were leaving, Jon came up to Don and I and gave us bug hugs and thanked us for coming. People kept trying to talk to him, but, ever the gentleman and host, he wanted to make sure we knew he appreciated us coming. 

If you get a chance to see the exhibit, please do so.

Today's Training Run Leaves Room for Improvement

It is pretty unusual for me to write blog posts about running, and even rarer to post about running on back to back days. Thought after yesterday's adventures, and update was in order.

Happily I did not wake up sore from yesterday's mishap. I deemed myself in good shape for a quick 3.1 mile run in the neighborhood (little chance of getting lost this way).

I took my regular sneakers and tossed them in the washing machine with lots of soap. In the end, they were soapy and wet. Rather than put them in the dryer (is it okay to put all that rubber into a dryer?) I put them outside in the sun. Yes, that giant ball of yellow made an appearance ALL DAY today! 

What is a girl to do when her sneakers are sopping wet and it is 60 degrees outside on a really nice Spring Day? Well, she takes out her last pair of running shoes and wears them instead. How back could it be? They were last worn in October during the Columbus Half Marathon --and I PR'd in that race. 

a) the legs were tired from yesterday's adventures
b) these sneakers should have been retired long before the half marathon
c) the wind picked up too much
d) running in my neighborhood is not as much fun as running on trails
e) all of the above

but I felt as if I was dragging lead weights today. The overall 5K pace was good for me (11:35), but I just wasn't feeling it today. 

I'll take it easy tomorrow and get out there bunches next week. The forecast is calling for highs in the 60s all week. Yippee!!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Training Run Gone Wrong

Today was the perfect day for a run. It has been nearly a week since my last run, though only three days after logging many miles walking around NYC. The weather was perfect. Ashley was at my parents' house. Don was at the dentist. I optimistically decided today was the perfect day to run 6 miles -- my longest run since the Princess Half Marathon in February. 

I decided on a path that would take me through Village Park in Lawrenceville, NJ through the Pole Farm, and over to the Hunt House in Hopewell before turning around and coming home. It was 50 degrees out with hardly any wind. Knowing I could hit the water fountains in Village Park and at the Hunt House I did not bring any water with me. The temperatures were probably warm enough to wear shorts, but as it was already 4:30, I decided to wear long pants and a sweatshirt over a running tee-shirt. 

In the end, one bad decision and one good one (yes, in that order).

Over the past few months, Mercer County has put a lot of work into the Lawrence-Hopewell Trail (LHT). During the six week deer hunting season when I avoided the park even on non-deer hunting days, a bunch of work was completed. This includes a bird blind, a latrine, picnic areas, signage with mile markings, and the changing of the paths. Parts that had been paved, are now returning to nature, and new sections are paved. 

I passed a sign that said go to the left another 1.5 miles and you will reach the Hunt House. Sounds simple enough. I knew the Hunt House had running water (a plus for a girl like me) and an ice cold water fountain. The path divided. I stayed left, knowing the Hunt House was to the left. Around a bend I found another sign saying go right .7 miles and you will reach the Hunt House. Okay, overall it would be more miles than originally thought, but still do-able. I found a mowed path, crossed a semi-busy street (which I knew about), went along another mowed path and ended up in a swamp.

Yes, a swamp.

I could see the lake. Last summer I knew how to get from this lake to the Hunt House. In the meantime, that trail was overgrown. By this point I am at the 3.13 mile mark with no trail in sight, AND soaking wet feet from being too stubborn to turn around after stepping in my first puddle.

There was no way I was turning back now and getting them wet again. No way. No how.

Instead I tried to carve a path through the thorn bushes and other friendlier bushes along the coast of the lake. Meanwhile the other side of the lake with bathrooms and clearings was taunting me. But, with the grace of God, I can do it!  Each time I was stuck beyond belief, I said a prayer and God shined the light in the direction of the way I should go. Thank you, God!

At least 45 minutes later I made it through the woods. I was ever so grateful for the long sleeves and long pants and they kept getting stabbed with bramble. I extracted one thorn from my finger. There is still another one in my hand. I wished I had packed some water, though.

I found the new path leading further away. I avoided that and instead aimed for the driveway. Driveway implies cars. Cars imply road. I got out of the woods and ran along a 2 lane country road without a shoulder. Followed this until I found the other side of the Pole Farm and my favorite running path. Wish I knew what had happened to the path I ran on in that park last summer.

The trip added another mile of running, plus at least 45 minutes of cutting through the woods (I turned off my watch for this portion of the run). My sneakers are a mess. I felt as if in addition to a 7 mile run, I also accomplished Tough Mudder training -- at least enough to know I don't want to do a Tough Mudder race.

In the end, I feel great. I kept a 12:07 pace -- which is great for me for that distance (especially on trails). For the most part I ran 3 minutes and walked 2. I finally inhaled water around the 6.5 mile mark when I made it to Village Park (never did find the Hunt House). Mile 5 was nearly a minute faster than mile 4 (I still jack rabbit too much in the beginning (10:47) and cannot maintain that pace). I came home with renewed confidence.

That doesn't mean I won't be sore tomorrow -- but much of that will be from climbing over and under trees and brush and through the water.

The kicker, though, came from telling a friend about my experience and he said "how you could miss it? All you have to do is stay right and follow the trail." can I miss it? By staying LEFT and going on the old trail.

I did wish I had a RoadID tag on me in case the wild animals found me first. Thought about my cell phone. Not sure it would have helped in this case since I barely knew where I was, how could I have explained "stuck in the woods" to  Don?

Hint...the RoadID tag might make a good birthday present.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


Many people if asked what is the one thing they cannot live without might answer coffee. If asked which is the most important appliance in their house, they might answer the coffee pot. 
Not so in our home.

Don and I are both tea drinkers. Fairly die-hard tea drinkers at that. Many mornings I have troubles fully functioning without that first cup of tea -- especially on cold mornings when just holding the cup warms me up.

The fastest way to make a cup of tea is to use one of these gadgets: an instant hot faucet. It connects to the sink in the spot you could use for a soap dispenser. One press of the black lever and hot water pours out of it at just the right temperature for a cup of tea. 

Don installed our first instant hot about 11 years ago "for the baby." Yes, it was nice to add a dollop of instant hot water to Ashley's baby rice, but the real users have always been our giant tea mugs. 

I was reminded by how much I have grown to depend on this faucet when it leaked in February. This was already our second model as the first one broke after a few years. Don was unable to repair it. 

**first world problem spoiler alert** 

We had to learn to live without it. Water had to be boiled in a kettle (I brought our travel electric kettle down for this purpose) or microwaved (I always worry about the tiny staple causing a spark). Further complicating the situation was the Home Depot only sells the model we wanted on their website. This, plus the Princess Half Marathon, delayed repairs.

Fortunately the item arrived and Don found time to replace it.

Life has been restored to normal. The instant hot truly is a lifesaver in our home.

Our Latest Pet

How many of you can guess this animal? Keep thinking about your answer as you continue to read this blog post.

Readers know we have quite a zoo: three cats, a Betta fish, and a bearded dragon. I suppose a bird would help round out the collection, as well as keep Kitty Lucy entertained (and possibly fed), but Ashley is a reptile girl. Her dream next pet would be a ball python.

I must say, Ashley is very good around all animals, but especially reptiles. I've learned not to be so grossed out by them and to at least touch them. I'm not as brave as Ashley is and willing to let the snake wrap himself around me, though.

So when she asked about adopting a (are you ready?) a blue-tongued skink, I was a bit apprehensive. Do we really need another tank and the responsibility of keeping another reptile alive? After all, we've finally figured out how to take care of Sandy the Dragon.

Then I learned the full scoop. Through Churchville Nature Center we can adopt an animal. For only a few dollars each month, we pay for his food, have visitation rights on Sunday afternoons, and get naming rights. Ashley named him Blue. 

Critters are always cuter when someone else is responsible for keeping them alive!

There are other animals up for adoption. It makes a great gift for the hard to shop for animal lover.