Saturday, May 27, 2017

Immigration Issue

Not to belittle what is happening on a national level, but to perhaps shed a little light on the situation, we seem to have our own little immigration issue in our house. 

Earlier this month Don's mom moved into an assisted living place. She left behind the house she lived in for 54 years and her cat.

Kitty, since renamed Max based on the sounds he makes, has settled in quite nicely. 

The problem is Charlie and Lucy aren't pleased with his living here. Max has chosen the most comfortable spots to sit (places Charlie and Lucy loved). Max eats their food. Max has Ashley's attention and affection. 

Max's sponsor (Don's mom) is pleased he is doing so well and doesn't seem to care that the other cats' lives were upended. Mind you, the house is more than big enough for the three of them.

I am pleased he has a healthy fear of Sandy, the Scaly One.

Meanwhile Lucy continues to spend more time outside, perhaps she is thinking of immigrating to a friendlier country, er...home. She has also returned to climbing in and out of Ashley's window, a trick the others have not mastered. The last one to move into a new place is often very vocal about closing the doors after her -- at least that is the case in our home.

Charlie has joined a choir with Max, which probably annoys the neighbors, but their dog's barking still annoys us, so maybe we are even. It certainly annoys me. Charlie has also learned how to make himself much larger than he really is, but Max isn't fooled.

Maybe world leaders should embrace our temporary solution and sit down to a meal with one another. I wish I could say it has brought lasting peace, but at least things were quiet for a few minutes.

Friday, May 19, 2017

24th Wedding Anniversary

A recent trip to our alma mater showed us just how much the campus has changed. Nearly a quarter of a century ago we took our wedding pictures on the campus. We decided to have a little fun and recreate those pictures this year. Ashley, our photographer, voted for waiting a year, but if we learned nothing in the past year, you don't know what the future holds. Besides, we can always do it again next year, and maybe even improve upon it.

The formal pictures are from 1993. The casual ones from 2017.

In front of Allen Dormitory

In front of Don C. Bliss Hall


On the Lion

Walking into our future

Yes, that is my original wedding veil. A recent lesson learned while cleaning out my MILs house (she is now in an assisted living place) is stop hanging onto things for "someday," use them now instead.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Unconference -- Telling Untold Histories

"Telling Untold Histories" could there be a better title for a conference for me to attend? This perfectly sums up my business. So why did I hesitate for even a minute about attending?

1) It was in big, scary Newark
2) It was billed as an unconference (what is that?)
3) I don't know anyone going

I did sign up, and I loved it. Newark is an easy train ride from Princeton Junction. Going at rush hour I caught a train that either had one stop (in New Brunswick) or no stops. I can't remember which because I bumped into C, a friend who does not want any social media presence, and chatted with this person for the entire ride. Don and I have been meaning to catch up with C for a while, so the timing was great.

The unconference was an easy walk from the train station. Newark is not scary in the daytime, especially not in this part of town.

An unconference means they create the list of topics the morning of the conference. People had 90 seconds to pitch a topic idea, which they then were signed up to lead. There were two sessions so people could lead one and attend another. My first session was about the ethics of telling stories that people might not want told. For the second session I learned about a new app called Pixstori. It allows you to record video that goes over your picture. I can picture using it to record what someone says about an old photograph. 

I chose this table because of the empty seat,
but felt I had chosen well when I saw this sign on it.

After lunch we went into one of six breakout sessions. Fortunately for me there was a change in the schedule as none of the six sessions appealed to me. The last minute replacement of a session on copyright issues was perfect as it is something I have wondered about. The speaker is a lawyer who gave me some advice about that contract I should be creating.

On the way back to the train station I popped into an exhibit about the Jazz scene in Newark. I even caught the express back to Princeton Junction -- 37 minutes ZERO stops.

And my worries about not meeting people? This was a conference filled with people who all love history. One thing that stood out to me was the wide variety of ages, genders, races, and ethnic backgrounds represented. It felt like a true melting pot. I made some contacts. Met people from all over the state, including Princeton and Lawrenceville, and into New York City. The conference was only $20 to attend, and included breakfast and lunch. I hope to be able to go back again next year.

Mother's Day 8k

Yesterday a Nor'Easter pummeled through the area bringing lots of rain and cold temperatures. Today the sun was was shining and no rain. What a difference a day makes!
The Mother's Day 8K race was the same route and same after party as the Canal-O'Ween 8K I ran in 2015 -- 2.5 miles up the canal, and 2.5 miles back (roughly).

I had a great pace for the first three miles (or so), then I slowed down to pace Kate, a runner who was struggling. We chatted while doing intervals. By the four mile mark she wanted to stop for water so I kept going.

Afterwards we had a feast of scrambled eggs, sausage, toast, and hash browns. A chance to chit chat with other runners. It was a really small race -- less than 50 people. As with the Canal-O-Ween, there was also a 5k option, which I am tempted to do next time. Looking at the stats I would have placed in my age group for the 5k, but missed third place by 25 seconds in the 8k (had I started up earlier in the pack, had I not been sociable, had I pushed myself -- realistically no, since other than at the start, I never saw anyone in my gender near enough to pass).

My time was 54:45, about 13 seconds slower than the Canal-O'Ween.

It was a great way to celebrate Mother's Day. Maybe someday I'll be able to convince my daughter to join me, but I doubt it.

Art and Spirituality

Ashley's school held an Art and Spirituality Day for parents and alumni. As she attends a Catholic School, I wasn't quite sure what to expect.

The day started with a song, a prayer built out of that song, and a gratitude list. At the moment, I wasn't feeling very grateful. I've been rather cranky lately, and not in the mood to give up that crankiness. It has been a rather gloomy spring, with pockets of sunshine. My MIL was placed in a nursing home (good move for her) and I found out that morning no one was stepping up to the plate to clear 54 years of pack rat habits, but that will probably morph into a different post at a point when I have more clarity on the subject. We then created a small craft -- a card to give someone to tell them we are thankful they are in our life. 

Then we went to Princeton University's Art Museum. For those of you not familiar with their museum picture the Metropolitan Museum of Art (in New York City) but on a scale in which you can see everything from ancient art to pop art in about two hours.

Our leader, retired teacher Bernie (Bernadette) took us to three paintings to illustrate Love, Hope, and Peace, then allowed us time to wander on our own.

For LOVE, we looked at this statue of Mary and Jesus (told you she attends a Catholic School). I love the expression on Jesus's face "I'm so cool, check me out."

For PEACE we looked at one of Monet's waterlily paintings (told you they have everything there, even a sarcophagus).

For HOPE we looked at the room of ancient art, but nothing specific. After wandering around the museum for a bit we broke for lunch. As I was not in the mood to be sociable, and it was a gorgeous day (for once) I went home. I don't know how many people they were hoping would turn out for this event, but they had about 16, and of that group many were alumni (as opposed to parents). Turns out a friend went to the Saturday version. Had we coordinated better we both would have had a chance to catch up.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Mountain Lakes Nature Preserve

My friend Nancy posted on Facebook a link to a 2 .5 mile hike in Princeton and asked if anyone wanted to join her. I was feeling a case of the mind was willing, but the flesh was weak. The concept of a hike sounded nice, and the weather wasn't too terrible (very overcast, looked like it could rain any minute, BUT it was in the 60s). After a 5k run in the park, while Don took Ashley to ride Ollie, I gave it a try.

Mountain Lakes Nature Preserve is located on Mountain Avenue in Princeton (near the police station). From the street I had no idea there were miles of trails tucked in the woods, or that it has several ponds and streams. Nancy and I said we should return with Laura and explore more of the trails together.

I was about 10 minutes late, and for once a group activity started on time, but Smokey the Bear's helpers told me which way to go (photo post hike). I headed to the right. Soon I heard voices so I left the nature trail and went towards the voices on the paved portion where I bumped into a Girls on the Run session (Girls on the Run is So MUCH Fun!), but not the hikers.

Thanks to modern technology Nancy posted virtual breadcrumbs -- we are on the white trail; crossed two wooden bridges and one creek with rocks. I texted back what I was passing, and a photo -->

Her texts became more frequent and I was able to catch up the group. It helped that the group was pausing as the naturalist explained what we saw, and described the work they have done to preserve this area. As was much of Princeton, they sustained damage in 2012 due to Hurricane Sandy. The result was losses of mature trees, which left room for invasive plants to move in and, well, invade the area.

Here are some pictures from the hike. As you can tell from the above picture I was not dressed properly. I was thinking nature "walk" and not nature "hike." I really need better shoes next time.

One of the naturalists pointed out this lake was formed in the 19th century in order to harvest ice. Kids, old people call the refrigerator an "ice box" because modern technology of the day had people put a block of ice in it in order to keep food cold enough to preserve. The winter of 1905-1906 was particularly warm and no ice was formed on the lake. By 1929 technology deemed them obsolete.

I bet the place is packed when the sun comes out! We were lucky. Though the sky kept threatening to rain, it only spritzed a few minutes. 

Happy birthday, Nancy.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Pacers Pacers

About a month ago I popped into Pacers Princeton while I was in Downtown Princeton. After noticing this sign in the window I asked about their weekly runs. I was assured all paces are welcome, AND that they have people even slower than I am who regularly attend. I've also thought about going to the morning Run Around Princeton (RAP) runs, but let's face it I am not up for running at 5:45 AM or even 6:30 AM. Those people are dedicated!

Princeton Pacers meets two evenings a week. I had nothing to do last night, so I decided to give them a try. The New Jersey Marathon was the weekend before, so attendance was light. The runs almost always include someone from the store to lead the pack, this week was an exception. The store employee did introduce me to Candace and her husband (whose name I did not catch). Candace said she is an 11 minute miler. Perfect! So am I! (Mine vary from 10:45 to 11:15 lately, no idea why there is that much swing.) Her husband is even slower and will lag behind.

Okay! Let's roll! 

Mile 1: 10:10 pace. Um, what happened to being an 11 minute miler? I usually run intervals, I couldn't do that and keep them in sight.

Mile 2: 10:24 pace. By the end of the second mile I decided I needed a walk interval. By now we were on Alexander Road and I knew my way back to the store.

Mile 3: 12 minute pace. Okay, I walked (um, crawled) up most of Alexander Road. The happy couple paused from time to time to make sure I wasn't lost. As I caught up to them they said hello and were off again (okay, they asked if I was okay).

Mile 3.4: All done! 10:58 overall pace. I think I picked up speed in that last 4/10 mile.

Overall consensus: it was nice running with a group. The slower people were kind. The fast people blew me off. However, not worth the extra hour of driving to and from Princeton and dealing with parking. On the other hand, maybe I'll join them for a tow path run when I can wave to the fast runners as they pass me by.

Next day: sore legs, which never happens to me when I take it easy in my neighborhood. Maybe there is something to this non-interval running after all.

Me after a run in my neighborhood

Pet Update

It has been a couple of years since I last gave a pet update. At that point Ariel Cat had just died suddenly and we were down to three pets. As of this week we are back up to five pets: three cats, a fish, and our beloved bearded dragon.

The most famous pet in our menagerie is Sandy Dragon. For an old dude (maybe 12 1/2, but they typically live 8-10 years), he has been moving around a lot lately and even playing hide and seek. 

He got up here himself, fortunately the screen was closed.

Where's Sandy? Peek-a-boo!
When Don lost his job last fall he brought Baloo the Blue Fish home with him. He doesn't feel the new office is ready for him to bring in a pet.

Then there are the three cats. Fans of the Pillsbury Press, and our neighbors, are familiar with Charlie Cat and Kitty Lucy. Charlie has been getting into less trouble lately (a good thing). Lucy still greets her adoring fans at the bus stop. They are not pleased with Cat #3 -- Kitty, or as we've taken to calling him, Max. Max belonged to my mother-in-law (whom we call Honey Bunny). Honey Bunny moved into assisted living this week. Fortunately the move was gradual and she had time to adjust to it, unlike the times my grandparents had to move into nursing homes. The biggest rule there, though, is no pets. So, Kitty, or rather Max, needed a new home. I'd like to think he chose Don.

Charlie Cat in my office

Kitty Lucy

Introducing Max:

Fortunately Max has a healthy respect for Sandy and moved away from him as Sandy started to move. Look at Sandy with his belly off of the ground! Go, Sandy, Go! Reminded me of how elephants react to mice.

Sandy is definitely top pet, and the other respect that.