Thank You Coach Summitt…

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Pat Head Summitt, former head coach University of Tennessee Lady Vols passed away this morning after a 5 year battle with early onset Alzheimers.  Pat was 64. If you are unfamiliar with Pat and the impact she had on women’s basketball and the lives of those she came in contact with, google her….

Quotes from Pat: 

“It’s harder to stay on top than it is to make the climb, continue to seek new goals.”

“No one feels strong when she examines her own weakness. But in facing weakness, you learn how much there is in you, and you find real strength.”

“Attitude is a choice.  What you think you can do, whether positive or negative, confident or scared, will most likley be.”

“It is what it is.  But, it will be what you make it.”

“There are no shortcuts to success.”

“Success is a project that is always under construction.”

“You can’t always control what happens but you can control how you handle it.”

“By doing things when you are tired, by pushing yourself farther than you thought you could-you become a competitior.”

“Admit to and make yourself accountable for mistakes.  How can you improve if you are never wrong.”

“There is an old saying: a champion is someone who is willing to be uncomfortable.”

“Life, it give you vision.  But you can’t aquire it if you’re afraid of keeping score.”

“God doesn’t take things away to be cruel.  He takes things away to make room for other things.  He takes things away to lighten us.  He takes things away so we can fly.”

 

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A Few Things I Did This Weekend 6/19/2016…

Hard to believe it is already mid-June, 2016 is flying by.  My intentions to post more often are good but somehow I end of with these short weekend clips, nothing noteworthy of a singular blog post. So here is what I have been up to….

1. COMPLETED MY 2016 COMMUNITY SERVICE OBLIGATIONS….

My work requires so many hours of community service each year. Sound easy?  Not so much, the service must be with a company sponsored event and finding a fun and interesting event can be tricky.  So, although I was scheduled to (and did work) Saturday morning, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to volunteer to help host a free movie at the Princess Theater in Harriman, TN on Saturday night.  Afterall, it is fun to visit the historic little towns within an hour’s drive of Knoxville and a historic old theater is a bonus!

The Princess was originally built in 1926 and has changed hands and been restored several times. Now owned by the City of Harriman, it is used for community events and rental. My company rented the theater for the evening and sponsered a showing of the movie “Finding Nemo” for residents of Harriman and the surrounding (even smaller) towns.

Harriman is a 50 minute drive from Knoxville so  I was very happy when I discovered John planned to make the drive with me.  We left town about 4:30 PM and (after a bit of misdirection from me “she said sheepishly”), we ended up right on time.  While I stood outside in the heat and humidity greeting folks from the community,  John sat in the comfort of the theater and read.  We wrapped the evening up around 8:30 PM and headed home.  Yea for wrapping up 2016 community service obligations.

That’s me on the left below. Sorry for the blurriness, the photo has been through several texts and emails….

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Princess Theater, Harriman, TN

2.  BOOKS FROM AMAZON…

I have been reading about several books on some of the assorted blogs I frequent.  Two that I ordered in hard copy (versus Kindle) are “Julia Reed’s South”, ’cause who wants a cookbook on Kindle, and “30 Chic Days” by Fiona Ferris, ’cause I thought I might want to make some notes.

While I know Fiona Ferris is popular with the over 40 set, I have yet to finish any of her books (I confess to purchasing several).  But based on positive comments, I had hopes I might find some interesting tips and ideas in this one. My problem is that telling me to “view my life” as if I am somewhere else is a real turnoff for me.  I find my life fun and enjoyable and do not need to “filter” my life to make it so. With that said, I will work through the book and see what tips I can cull from the pages.

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The other book, “Julia Reed’s South” is a delight of beautiful photographs, entertaining stories and recipes, mostly from the South. Since it is almost tomato time here, I have been looking for a great Gazpacho recipe to serve on steamy summer nights.  I think this one might fit the bill and tomato sherbet?  Hmmmm…

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3. LONG, LEISURELY SUNDAY RUN….

My recent long runs have been a struggle.  This weekend I set out with little plans other than to run as long as I could.  My usual running partner, John, was bicycling with his son Lee so I was on my own with only myself to encourage me on.

The morning showed signs of warming quickly but the humidity was blissfully low.  Early on I decided to give up “flat and sunny” for “hilly and mostly shady”, it was a good trade.  I headed toward the nearby nature center and kept running. I moved at my usual slow, summer pace but I felt strong and happy! What a gift to have such a run after weeks and weeks of difficult runs.

Done: 7 glorious miles!  The scenery pictures below were taken on the run but I did stop for a moment to take the flower photos.

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Dappled sunlight

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Greenway overlook on an inlet for the Tennessee River

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Will Skelton Greenway just outside Ijams Nature Center

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Mimosa flowers

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Queen Anne’s Lace

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One of the prettiest roadside flowers around!!!  As kids we use to put them in bottles of water with food coloring.  The flowers take on the food color.  Glorious!

4. CELEBRATED FATHER’S DAY…

We had a lovely “Sunday Supper” on our side porch, celebrating John in fine style. We grilled ribeyes and shrimp and threw in a couple of insignificant sides.  Who needs sides when you are eating steak and shrimp.

This was John’s last Father’s Day for a long time with one of his children living in town.  He was was trying to savor the moments.  We will miss this child of his but we still have a few more weeks…

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My view from the dinner table

5. CONTEMPLATED “PROJECT RETIREMENT”…

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Many years ago (about 37), my dad was thinking about his retirement.  He was just 55 at the time but I remember him telling me that so many men he knew  from the laboratory (Oak Ridge National Laboratory) developed health problems or had heart attacks and died within a few years of retirement.  He believed it was because they had retired without a plan for life after retirement.

My dad worked hard over 10 years to begin his transition from work to retirement, which he did at 65. He renewed his interest in art and photography, he took classes, he volunteered for 30 years at Zoo Knoxville, he joined several clubs and he took up hiking again.  He and my mother also entertained until they could no longer do so. My father passed away on April 18th of this at 92.  He still painted, he keep up with the zoo (and the zoo kept up with him), and he still had friends for whom he remained in close contact.

As of June 1st, I am 3 years from retirement.  This weekend I began to begun to read and seriously contemplate my life after retirement (I am a little late according to my father’s schedule).  I am working on what I have dubbed “Project Retirement.”  More on this later…

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Weekend Musing…

Summer has arrived down south, just a little early for my taste.  With it’s arrival comes summer’s evil henchmen, heat and humidity. But also the sweet scents of magnolia, mimosa and honeysuckle which are currently heavy in the air.  A light breeze or a spot of shade can make a suffocating  afternoon almost bearable.

Southern summers are a challenge to me, my motivation wains and I struggle with running.  I am a winter girl at heart but I do my best to get through. With that said, we had a good weekend, quiet and uncomplicated.  But my runs, well not so much…

1.) TRIED TO RUN 8 MILES BUT DIDN’T 

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Saturday morning was reserved for my long run.  With my eyes on a November marathon, this was my day to determine if the goal was feasible.  My father’s death and sister’s move have altered my spring training schedule. In late March, early April, I had been at 7 miles but fell back, for more than several weeks.  Originally last weekend was to be my drop dead date for reaching 8 miles but I didn’t make it and wasn’t ready to let go of the dream, so I delayed the decision for one more weekend.

I went into the weekend very tired so I admit, I woke up about 2 hours later than I should and once up, I convinced myself that relaxing with a couple of cups of coffee was a good idea (bad idea by the way).   So while I was on the road by 10:00 am, the temperature had already reached mid-80’s and the sun was relentless.  John, who is not as heat sensitive as me was running along beside me chattering about work, the neighborhood etc.  Meanwhile, I was struggling.  The first few miles  were completed at my usual slow “summer” pace but around mile 2.5, I started getting in real trouble.

I started a walk-run routine which is never a good idea for me.  Once I slow to a walk, my brain goes in “finished” mode and I have a hard time restarting.  John, who has been so supportive of my marathon goal was willing me on but realized I was in trouble ran to the house for water and the car so he could get back faster than by foot.

Once re-hydrated, he urged me on. I slowly started running again. “I’ll drive down the street and you run to me,” he says.  Good plan in theory but not so much for this day. He drove less than a mile down the road, parked a shady spot (under the bridge in the above pic) and started running back to me. He ended up running further than he expected before I finally came into his view.  He called out encouragement but I was walking and in tears.  The blubbering “I can’t do this” began.  Boy do I hate summer running!  I ended up getting home by car, the “drive of shame🙂 ”  Lucky for me, after an hour or so in air conditioning, I convinced myself to give it another go on Sunday.  Done: 4.5 miles

2) SATURDAY NIGHT DATE NIGHT

Well, after a sunny, hot, humid morning comes a late afternoon rain….

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Geez!  We had plans to drive to Pigeon Forge (one of two so called resort towns at the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park) for the evening to do some outlet shopping that we had been putting off but first we had to check dinner off our list. We were hungry! We decided to eat downtown (about 2.5 miles from the house) so we wouldn’t end up waiting hours for a table in almost any restaurant in P.F. due to the tourist traffic.

Our choice was Sweet P’s, our favorite “go to” restaurant any time.  Sweet P’s offers classic barbecue (pork, chicken, brisket, meat loaf etc) and sides.  Always good comfort food!

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I enjoyed pulled chicken, pinto beans and a non creamy coleslaw.  Actually not too unhealthy compared to the mac and cheese that I really wanted!

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The rain was not slacking up outside

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But linger as we tried, if we were going to get our shopping done, it was time to go.

3) TO PIGEON FORGE FOR OUTLET SHOPPING (REALLY ON SATURDAY NIGHT?!)

A trip to Pigeon Forge means passing through Sevierville, home of country star Dolly Parton.  Dolly has done a lot for this little town of hers (and the very nearby town of Pigeon Forge) including buying the old “Silver Dollar City” and turning it into an amazing amusement park called Dollywood.  Unfotunately, much of what has grown up around Dollywood is chain restaurants, motels and outlet malls.  Sevierville (below) remains a somewhat quaint town though things are changing fast.

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Sevierville in the rain

Driving into Sevierville, usually means a great view but Saturday it was shrouded in clouds and rain.  The outskirts of Sevierville overflows into Pigeon Forge (below) where the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park become visible (again that rain and fog are obscuring). Traffic in Pigeon Forge is legendary.   On this particular evening, it wasn’t too bad.

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Traffic going into (brake lights) and coming out of (headlights) Pigeon Forge

We got our shopping done and were happy to be home to clearing skies.

4) ARRANGED BITS OF GREENERY FROM THE YARD

I enjoy finding bits of things in the yard and making arrangements and Sunday (post run) seemed to offer up some time to relax and arrange.  I started with one using left over birthday flowers and just couldn’t stop…

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Variegated Solomon Seal, rosemary and leftover flowers from my birthday arrangement

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Hosta, coleus, barberry (green and red) and coral bells

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Red tip photinia, coleus, green barberry, maple leaves and purple flower from birthday arrangement

 

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Coral bells flowers and leaves, variegated hosta, rosemary and red tipped photinia.  The painting is one in a series of fish my father painted a number of years ago.

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The tall arrangement from above (my favorite) next to a pencil drawing of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, again, by my father.

5) WENT OUT FOR 8 MILES AGAIN…. IS 7 GOOD ENOUGH?

So, we went out for a run again on Sunday morning, this time a couple of hours earlier.  The run was not easy but the sun stayed behind clouds so it was not unbearable. I still had 8 miles in my mind but was very grateful for 7.  John and I talked a lot in the 24 hours leading up to the run, about my ability to train during the summer, life’s stresses from the spring and what else we might do if I was not training for a marathon.

You see, back in very early March, my application to run in the NY Marathon was accepted.  I have dreamed of running the NY Marathon long before I began running.  I have so many memories of standing on the street corner of 7th Ave and 53rd Street on a November Sunday morning cheering racers on (I use to travel to NY for work). I wanted to be part of that!  And when I was accepted, I was so excited, what an amazing opportunity!  I am fully aware that at 63, my opportunity to run a marathon is waning so it is with much regret (and some relief) that I have decided to defer the run for another year.

John and I have decided to keep working on running this year, building mileage, getting stronger and possibly even entering some races of different mileage.  I haven’t given up on me and the marathon but I am putting it to rest for now.  I need to step back, deal with my emotionally difficult spring and come back stronger.

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5ish Things I Did This Weekend… (and a little life catch up)

What a long, strange first 1/2 of 2016 I have had. The year started with feeling overwhelmed by commitments that, yes, I had gotten myself into. Volunteer work began to feel like a full time job and I already have one of those.  Then, late January, early February, some things happened with the organization (church) that had me questioning  the concept of volunteerism. Ouch! I am still hanging on as a volunteer committee chair, but just by a thread. I tried to resign a month ago but the staff “ignored” my  request and paired down some of the committee goals.  So here I am, still volunteering and counting the days till the end of the year when I step down.

In March, John and I followed John’s son, Lee to California to visit the campus of UC-Davis where he (Lee) had been considering an offer to work on a doctorate in neuro chemistry (he has since accepted the offer and will begin in late August). This trip came at the right time for me, I was getting restless and ready for a little adventure. The three of us had a fabulous time exploring the University, the small college town of Davis and a few days in San Francisco.

Sadly, reality struck in April. My 92 year old father had, for some weeks, been having some issues with his ability to express his thoughts. The words were in his mind but he just couldn’t verbalize them.  Long story short, (I will write more on this later) he went into the hospital on Sunday, April 10th, had a battery of tests, was pronounced healthy by the hospital and sent to the nursing home (attached to his retirement center) to recover his strength.  As the week went on, he got increasingly worse and  passed away the following Monday, April 18th.  My heart was is broken, it happened so fast. But we had an internment service to plan, a celebration of life to host and his apartment to clean out, all by May 1st. No time for my heart and mind to grieve…

Finally, May arrived.  My older sister Carol, who  in April had been in the early stages of getting things arranged to move into the retirement community near my father, had given notice to her apartment to be out by the end of May. Unfortunately he passed away before pushing Carol to get things done so it was up to my sister Leslie and I to do the task.   As I sit here today, May 30th, we are not quite done. More on this below…

So we arrive at the end of May. It has been a busy Memorial Day weekend no doubt but much of it involved Carol’s move and was not too exciting.  Nevertheless, I was able to eke out 5 4 things I did.

1) I Turned 63…

My birthday was Friday, May 27th and did I ever wake up in a birthday funk! My husband mumbled Happy Birthday a couple of times, wished me a happy day and headed off to work. No plans, no cards, just Happy Day. I was blue.  For the last few years, I had been feeling like birthdays were just another day.  On this day I felt sure I had finally reached that time.

Then somewhere around midday, I looked up and saw my sweet sister Leslie standing in the lobby, arms filled with flowers, balloons, cake and a gift bag with a hand knit scarf. I hugged her, I could have cried. Later in the day, a truck outside caught the attention of my work mates and a delivery man came through the door with a huge bouquet from my incredible husband. Another rush of emotion…

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Birthday balloons, flowers and cards!

Home about 6:30 PM and John is rushing me, “7:00 PM reservations at Bistro by the Tracks,” he says, “we are going to be late.” We were on time and had an amazing dinner in “The Wine Cellar” at the Bistro. Yes indeed, he can still surprise me!  My meal consisted of lettuce wedge with blue cheese and balsamic vinegar, pan seared Halibut with green lentils in a roasted red pepper sauce and asparagus AND lemon curd with blueberry yogurt,shortbread crumbles and lavender merengue.   Oh my, so incredible!!! What a memorable birthday dinner.

So maybe I judged too quickly, maybe old lady birthdays ARE special days… It was a very good day!

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Gerber Daisy

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2) Explored a New Running Trail

Saturday morning, I was suffering from a food hangover for sure, but blowing off my run was not an option.  I have gotten off track over the last 5 weeks and I am really struggling to find my way back.  My original plan was to run 7-8 miles but Carol’s move was dictating my weekend so I settled for a shorter run in a new location, University of TN’s Cherokee Farms.  Cherokee Farm is sight of the old University AG campus and home to the new research campus (where John will move within the year).

A greenway has been built along the Tennessee River on the campus.  The trail is about 4 miles out and back and the flattest running path I have found in Knoxville. Note the putting green on the right of the picture.  This is one in a series of putting holes built for the UT Golf Team.

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The grounds have been groomed as a wildlife habitat.  The number of birds flying in and out of the undergrowth is amazing.

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Only one building has been constructed to date (others are planned) and it is in the final stages of completion.  This is the building that John and his microscopes will move to sometime late this year or early next year.  Good news for John, the building has showers and the green way is just steps away!!

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I thought this tree looked amazing with the clouds in the background.

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Cherokee Farms is across the river from one of the “wealthy” sections in Knoxville. At one time it was the most elite address in town and still ranks very high for those who desire to live close to town.  The white house in the background once housed Knoxville’s first art museum, Dulin Gallery of Art, which opened in 1961 in the HL Dulin house. The house was built  in 1915. It had limited space and no climate control so it was sold as a private residence and the museum moved to a new building. What a view the homeowners have, right?!

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3) Moved My Sister into a Retirement Living Facility

Moving my sister Carol has been a terribly painful time for both me and my younger sister, Leslie.  Leslie and I have done 99% of the packing, throwing away, cleaning and so forth. This is the 2nd time Leslie and I have moved Carol in the past 5 years.  We hope this will be the last time until she moves into assisted living or the nursing home.

The issues we have with Carol are not topics I really want to cover in a public blog but it will suffice to say my sister is a bit (well big) hoarder and not one to run the vacuum cleaner or pick up the dust rag, well, in this apartment for 5 years.  It has been an emotional experience going through family heirlooms, making decisions for Carol and deciding what she can and cannot keep.  Her new apartment is VERY limited with space and she is trying to take way more than space will allow. Unfortunately, her personality quirks do not provide her with good judgement skills for this type of activity.

As of the end of Monday, we have her moved in.  Leslie closed out her apartment today and turn off the electricity.  Boxes are still stacked to the ceiling in her new apartment and the retirement center will not allow these to remain for long.  We will have to go through the boxes again and throw away.  Sigh, I had really hoped the move would be done by the end of May but it appears we have another week or so to go.

4) Went in search of 8 miles..

Monday I went in search of 8 miles, I was only able to run 3.5. It’s hard for me to say exactly what went wrong.  I have been running 5.0-6.0 reasonably strong miles and should have been able to run the distance with some level of push and discomfort, but I couldn’t.

I have thought through several possible problems, one being an emergency stop at home about midway through due to some irritable “b” problems I have been having recently, the next was the number of steps I climbed yesterday while moving boxes and garbage out of my sister’s apartment, and the third was the time constraint for meeting Leslie at Carol’s apartment late morning.  I beat myself up for not getting out earlier, for not pushing harder and for general failure but I finally just accepted that this was not my day, showered and headed to Carols. Tomorrow is another opportunity to run and next weekend is another chance to go for 8.0

So, this was my weekend.  I am counting on fun and adventure in the near future.  I hope you are having that kind of time now!

 

 

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Trying to shake loose the guilt of commitments…

I went for a run this morning, I needed to clear my head. Work, volunteer committee meetings that have developed into more meetings and other life demands have me feeling a little blue. It was raining lightly as I left the house. My support team of one (John) was out there with me, once again walking nearly as fast as I can run.

I thought about entering the 4th quarter of my 62nd year and how grateful I am that my body still allows me to run, hike and play hard. I thought about the big goals l have left hanging and which ones I really want to accomplish. I thought about how lucky I am to be me and live the life I live. And I thought about the fact that I don’t have to feel guilty about missing some of those committee meetings that have turned into a weekly events (yes, really!!). This last point is important because I need to remind myself that  sometimes it’s hard to see through the casual commitments and remember that it is the time spent running, hiking and spending time with friends that will matter to me.  The time spent in meetings upon meetings will feel like time wasted! 

Meanwhile the intensity of the rain picked up, Thunder and lightening rolled across the sky. I imagined that I was ninja, running between the drops. I turned to looked at my support team who had the hood of his rain jacket pulled low over his face and walked behind me without complaint. He is good that way. We made our way home.

Done: 4.2 miles. BTW, I am not ninja, I am soaking wet!

I posted this on facebook this morning. The run, on top of a 5 miler yesterday was surprisingly enjoyable. My intent was 3 miles but I always have a stretch goal and 4 miles was it!  My legs are feeling the effects of 9 miles in 2 days.  I am still in the building phase after being a being lazy runner since our Alaska trek ended in September 2015!    

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A Winter Playground, E. TN Style…

I am lucky,  the most visited national park in the United States, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is in my backyard! The Smokies is a four seasons playground. If you want to hike, bicycle, backpack, camp, picnic, float, take a trip back in history or just take an afternoon drive to see some incredible views, the Smokies has it all!

On a particular Saturday in late January when we were predicted to get snow in the valley, but of course didn’t, we decided to head to the mountains to have a snow experience.

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Snow fall was light as we drove through Gatlinburg, a quaint mountain town just outside the main TN entrance to the park. Clouds hung low in the foothills and everything was wet and gray.  We were surprised and happy to find light traffic on the parkway, it is usually bumper to bumper.  It appeared the predictions of snow kept many people at home.

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Once inside the park, the road became dicey. Snow was packed along the roadside and large patches of ice were visible.  We were passed by a convoy of salt trucks and scrapers as we pulled into a parking lot at the Park Headquarters. Luckily we had planned to hike a trail directly across from the headquarters building because every road in the park was closed due to ice and snow!

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Here we are in the Park Headquarters parking lot.  I am wearing 4 layers for warmth!!  I don’t usually wear a hat when exercising (or anytime really) because I have a thick head of hair that keeps me pretty warm.  Note the amount of snow at headquarters level, about 1500′.

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Our plan was to hike on the Old Sugarlands Trail until we were ready to turn around.  We have hiked this trail many times in the winter because it is easily accessible and provides great scenery.  The trail begins gently along the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River.  Beautiful!

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The trail climbs up and way from the river quickly and becomes narrow and steep.  The higher the climb the deeper the snow!  It was magical!  I haven’t been hiking much since Alaska so I was dragging behind Lee (John’s son, who joined us on the adventure) and John. I kept telling myself that it is hard to keep up with a long legged 26 year old but it was a reminder that I am out of hiking shape!

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The temperature remained well below freezing and the sun never came out, a blessing and a curse.  At least the snow laden branches did not dump their loads on our heads and down our jackets!

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We climbed to about 2200′ before our turn around.  Our total hike was roughly 5.5 miles (yea, I know, that is not a “rough” number). With its shadows and vegetation,  dusk comes earlier in the mountains than in the valley so we watched our time carefully and turned around with plenty of time to get back to the car.

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We stopped for dinner on the way home at one of the steakhouses in our least favorite tourist town, Pigeon Forge.  It was a pretty unmemorable meal bur we were oh so hungry. So why is it that the cold seems to increase one’s appetite 10 fold?  During our post hike quarterbacking, we made promises to get out again in the next few weeks. Maybe in March…

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Happy Thanksgiving…

I am thankful for so many things this year, another year with my father, my health and a wonderful husband with whom I feel safe, secure and very loved.  Here are a few other things I am grateful for…

Lingering over coffee on Saturday mornings,

Good friends,

That I can and do still run,

A sense of adventure (that I inherited from my father🙂 ,

Jelly Bellies in sweet/sour flavors,

That my husband cooks almost all our meals (he rocks!)

And that I get to live this wonderful life!

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

 

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