Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Bring On The Mimosas

This past weekend I took a trip, with my friend Mike, to Amicalola Falls in North Georgia. After a long week of working and very little playing, we decided to spend some time in nature, or with nature, however the phrase goes.
We originally planned for a 10am departure, which was no problem for me, cos I am THE morning person. Mike on the other hand, is not THE morning person, so 10am turned into 11am, no big deal, except we had planned on grabbing brunch along the way, so I deliberately avoided having breakfast. As a result, we were only on the road about 40 minutes when the hunger pains were in full swing. At this point we were into the boonies of Georgia, so our restaurant options had become scarce and limited.
We did pass through this old railroad town that had a population of about 25 and saw a sign outside of a tiny building advertising “Breakfast All Day”. I swear it was no bigger than a train station ticket booth and we assumed it was no longer in business, but as we got closer we noticed a red and blue neon sign flashing “Open” in the window, just left of the door, so we thought “why not?” and in we pulled to get us some breakfast.

The place was small but bigger than it appeared from the outside. The staff were friendly and with very deep southern accents, referred to us both as “hon”, “What can I geecha hon?” The breakfast was great. Lovely big country sized portions of eggs and grits and toast. Perfect for a famished girl. Before we got back on the road, we decided to check with our server that we were headed the right way to Amicalola Falls. As soon as we asked the question she turned her head to the rest of the restaurant and yelled out, “Hey, any y’all know the best way to them Amicalola Falls?” All eyes immediately turned in our direction and instantly I was mortified. I tried to ever so quietly make myself as small and as invisible as possible by sliding a few inches lower in my seat in an effort to avoid all the gazes. But no need, everyone was more than eager to help the 2 city slickers find their way to the pretty falls.

We got there a little after 1pm and it was hot. Hot, hot, hot. I’m not kidding. We stopped off at the visitor center and got ourselves a map and then began our hike to the top of the falls. It wasn’t a far hike, just over a mile, but it was steep and add to that the intense heat and seriously it became not quite the hike from hell, but close enough, the hike from limbo maybe. We got to a viewing point close to the top of the falls and from there, if you wanted to enjoy the view from above the falls, you had to climb a further 425 steps. I know how many steps were involved, cos the sign told me so, and since we got this far, well, of course we opted to go all the way.

Once at the top we discovered there was a lodge. How perfect was that? A lovely air-conditioned place overlooking the Georgia Mountains where you could sit and drink or eat. And since both of us were close to dehydration, we made a beeline right for the lodge. We grabbed a table by the window so we could enjoy the view and immediately ordered a glass of water and a glass of sprite. Then as we looked a little closer at the drinks list we noticed they served mimosas. A mimosa, for those who may not know is a champagne and orange juice mix. I had never had one before but was of the opinion that if ever there was a moment when I owed myself the opportunity to try a mimosa, then this was it. And when I tell you that shit was good, I mean, that shit was good. Cold and citrus’y and bubble’y. Just fabulous. So we had another and then another. 3 in total. And for anyone wondering how the world looks through the eyes of a girl with 3 mimosas on board, the answer is, funny. Everything is just so damn funny.

We stayed there for about another 30 minutes, enjoying our mimosa buzz and then decided it was time to get some more water into ourselves and begin our hike back down. Obviously down was soooo much easier than up and we were back at the car and on the road to Atlanta in under an hour.
Amicalola Falls
The 425 steps.
One sweaty Mike at the top of the steps.
One more shot of the mimosas.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

"Say Cheese"

Today I was practicing my portrait shots and since he is feeling much better and back in action climbing all the neighborhood trees, I decided to make Fintan my model. I have to say, he is not an easy model to work with. Very diva, likes it all his own way and refuses to listen to instructions. But after a couple a hundred false starts and some down right unflattering angles, we got there. The one above is my favorite, but I included some of his “out takes” below just for the fun. I know not everyone appreciates cats, but I do and it’s my blog, so I win. Plus cats are fabulous athletes.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A Loss For Words

Over the past few days I have tried very hard to sit down and blog, but honestly, I couldn’t think of anything that has been interesting enough to write about. The past week has been pretty much standard and uneventful.

I spent my weekend working, which was fine, except for the fact that I had a hangover on Saturday due to the consumption of waaaay too much wine on Friday night. As a result I was unable to eat a lot that day cos of my messed up stomach, my head was pounding and while I was at work, the hot flushes had me constantly running to the bathroom just so I could put my face against the lovely cold porcelain sink in an effort to reduce the sweating and bring my body tempeture down. But I throw my hands up in the air on that one; it was totally self inflicted, so no one to blame but myself.

Sunday morning my good friend Tracy and I hit Piedmont Park in downtown Atlanta, to take some photos. Both of us are taking a photography class at the moment, which I am loooving and for our assignment this week, we had to work on our panning. Which is basically capturing and freezing the image of someone in motion. So we were on the prowl for cyclists, roller bladders and runners, basically anyone moving at a pace considerably faster than a walk. It felt a little paparazzi’ish at the start. The two of us camped out in one particular spot, scanning the area intently for some motion. Once we spotted our target we sat and sat, watching them closely, camera set and focused waiting for them to pass the spot we had earlier eye-balled as the best place to capture the shot. It was all very tense. We actually managed to scare the crap out of a couple of our subjects. You could see they were totally in the zone of their activity, when two girls, came out of what seemed like nowhere, with some big ass lenses pointed in their faces and set off a sequence of rapid fire click, click, click, click, click, click’s. The element of surprise had some of them giving us a very intense “death stare” and you could tell they wanted nothing more than to kick our asses, and had they not been at the mercy of their heart-rate monitors or stop watches, they would have had no problem interrupting their workout to do so. Others where surprised for a second but them appeared to be flattered that we found them interesting enough to photograph and just flashed us their best smile.

Today, I took my kitty-cat, Fintan, to the vet. He has had some big behavioral changes lately, which I initially put down to the fact that it’s hotter than hell itself here in Atlanta at the moment, but something kept telling me it was more. So just to put my mind at rest, I made the call and took him to the vet. Well, turns out that little Fintan was sick. He had a stomach infection. Poor little fella. But we got him some excellent drugs and he’s been sleeping it off most of the day and should be right as rain in just a few days.

And that’s pretty much it. No major drama’s that need reporting. Just a simple, uneventful week.

This is an example of "panning". The cyclist is in focus and the background is blurred, showing he is actually in motion.

This is my friend Tracy trying to run in her flip-flops, so I can get my camera settings right for the "real" runners, sorry honey.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Chivalry Is So Dead

I know it’s been forever since I did a “What I've learned Monday” entry, but it’s back today, because I learned something very shocking yesterday.

Remember several months back I mentioned that we were renovating one of our bathrooms? Good. Well, it has been quite the process but we’re finally at the point where we are purchasing and installing the faucets, toilets, sinks etc... and last week, before he flew off again, Husband and I took a trip to the Home Depot to select a vanity for the new bathroom. A vanity for my friends in Ireland is basically a sink that sits on top of a cabinet type thing. I’ll include a picture below, least my explanation be insufficient.
Anyway, so we selected our vanity and chose a nice granite sink to go with it. Come to realize that you had to order the sink separately. Which was fine, only we didn’t have time to do it there and then, cos we had a plumber waiting for us to come back to the house with a couple of toilets so he could get them installed. But now that I knew what we liked, I would just come back myself and place the order.

I returned yesterday, picked up the vanity (the cabinet part of the whole sink) and then sat down with the Home Depot employee to place the order for our sink. Lovely. Now the vanity came in a big ass box, which wasn’t too heavy, but it was really awkward, so I loaded it onto a heavy-duty trolley, cart if the word trolley makes no sense to you, and proceeded to push it out towards my car.

I get to the car, pop the truck/boot and begin sizing up the box to figure out the best way to get it off the trolley and into my trunk. I’m trying to approach it from an angle that will give me the best grip’tion to ensure it stays in my hands and not go crashing to the ground as soon as I go to lift it. It took me a minute but I got in good stance and secured a nice tight grip. I lifted it up, not with ease, with some effort and I got it to trunk/boot level, but the bastard was way too big for the trunk/boot. Not one inch, not one corner of it had a shot at fitting in. I wrestle it back onto the trolley and figure it will have to go on the back seat. I open the back door as wide as it will go and once again being the exercise of trying to get a grip on the box and force it onto the seat. But it stops dead at the mouth of the door. I push, I swear, I maneuver. I’m sweating and trying with all my might but it’s seriously going nowhere. I’m so frustrated and I need to take a few minutes break to think. At this point I notice a couple of people, men mostly, walking past and staring at me like I’m some sort of freak show. They see me stare back, but they are so curious about what’s going on that they don’t even look away. I’m already frustrated, so this just sends me over the edge. They see me struggling. They see the box is almost as big as me, but not one of them, not one, comes over to ask if I need a hand. Not one. This pisses me off.

I decide that my only real shot at getting it into the car, is to take it out of the box and just slide the vanity itself onto the back seat. This also becomes a nightmare. The box is so damn big that in order to lift it out and clear the actual box, it has to go almost above my head. I get into weight lifter stance, lovely bent knees and all that and take a few seconds to compose myself so I can get it up in one big effort. I do. Nice one, but need to place it on the ground straightaway cos my arms are tired. While I take a break, I once again notice I have become the main attraction for the passers by in the parking lot. At this stage I’m so hot and sweaty, so tired and frustration that the temptation to flip them all the middle finger is huge. They see me struggling, they see how frustrated I’m getting but they would rather stare and laugh or judge then come over with the offer of help. Jerks, all of them. But I re-focus back to the problem at hand and once again make an attempt at loading the vanity, now out of its box, onto the back seat. But the son of a bitch still won’t fit. I’m a broken woman. On the verge of a nervous breakdown or possible heat stroke. I surrender. This thing will not under any conditions fit in my car. There is nothing left for me to do but return it to the store and come back later with a borrowed bigger car and pick it up. I need to muscle up the energy, one last time, to put it back into the box, get it back onto the trolley and roll it back into the store.

I get it into the box but I fail on my first attempt at getting it up onto the trolley. It hits off the end and now the damn trolley starts to roll away. I drop the box and try to grab the trolley before it rolls into the side of some ones car. At this point a man finally approaches and asks if I need any help. I am so relieved. “That would be great”, I tell him. But you want to know what his idea of helping is?? He holds the trolley still while “I” lift the box. I look at him with shock and surprise and all I’m thinking is “are you serious? Your going to let ME lift the box and YOUR just going to hold the trolley steady?” Unbelievable. I am so mad at this dude that I just look and him and say “you know what, I got it”.

This whole experience has been a joke. When did men lose the chivalry gene? When did they lose the desire to be the hero and rescue a damsel in distress? I can’t tell you how many men saw me struggle as they walked past, but made the choice to keep on walking. I am not a man, but I can tell you, I would never have done what they did. Many’s a time I have helped some one lift their heavy bags up a stairs, or grabbed the end of a mother’s stroller/buggy as she tried to get it and her child to higher ground. And I do it as a reflex. I don’t have to think. I see the situation and I just react, so it’s very difficult for me to imagine someone else would not have the same instinct. It's such a shame and I think all you men out there need to switch your chivalry sensor back on. Carrying on the way you are right now is doing you absolutely no favors and as a result, today, I HATE MEN.

This is a bathroom vanity

Here is the box that was giving me so much trouble. I hate this vantiy and the box it came in.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Its Been Too Long

I’m in a bit of a bad mood today. Well maybe “bad mood” is the wrong choice of words, frustrated, would probably be much better. But I don’t really feel like going into the details of it, 1. Because there are a lot of factors contributing to the actual frustration and all of them seem to be just spinning around my head. I’m in some sort of frustrating mental frenzy, so I need to just let it run its course and await the calm that follows, so I can think more clearly and 2. I think writing about it might just get me all fired up and the frustration could easily slip into anger.
But it’s been well over a week since I updated the blog and that is unacceptable. So I wanted to just do that quickly before things got out of control.

Well, I am back in Atlanta and there is absolutely no comparison between the weather here and the weather I had to endure while I was in Ireland. And much as it pains me to say it, cos the patriot in all of us hates to think that their homeland is nothing short of perfect, but the weather was crap. The wind, the rain, the cold. Nobody should have those type of conditions forced upon them and then have the rest of the world tell them that its summer. I call “Foul” and think someone out there is just having a laugh at our nations expense. But luckily, I didn’t go back for the weather, I went back for the people, my people, or as we like to say here in Georgia, “my peeps”. And on that front, I was not disappointed. I had a great time with all my family and got to catch up with a lot of my friends, Not all unfortunately, cos no matter how long I stay, its never enough to get around to everyone.

The week has really been spent just getting things back in order. During my 3 week absence, the garden managed to grow itself into a tiny North American Rain Forest and so that had to be tackled. I say, “had” like it’s all in the past and has been completely dealt with, but the truth is, it hasn’t. I have made a stab at it though, with the old lawn-mower and next week my good friend, Jose, will be dropping by to help with the more manly stuff, like ripping out crappy bushes and wacking at weeds the size of a NBA players. It's going to be a lot of fun. The only thing that will make it hellish, besides the thorns and possible snakes living in said bushes is the unbearable heat. The heat will probably kill me, but being from Mexico, I don’t imagine Jose will struggle too badly. But I’m never one to back down from a challenge, so we’ll see.

We also had some guests pop in to see us this week too. You all remember our Aggressive Intern, Gordy? He’s the one we threw the Red Neck birthday for. Well his parents were on vacation here in the South and decided to swing by for a few days. And they were nothing but nice. Not at all aggressive. So I have no idea where Gordy gets it from?!? They even stocked the cupboards and fridge full of the foods Gordy and I like to eat before they left. It was so cute and reminded me of my college years.

And finally, today myself and a couple of girlfriends drove about an hour and a half outside of Atlanta, to a place called Rutledge. Rutledge is a very tiny, country town in the middle of nowhere. It’s the type of town that has one general store that also operates as a post office, soda bar and cafĂ©. And the highlight of everyday is the train that rolls in, dropping off some random strangers. But what they do have out there is a sunflower farm. We are talking acres and acres of sunflowers. It’s amazing. We got up at the crack of dawn so we could get out there for sunrise, cos they say that's the best time to see the flowers and you know what, they weren’t lying. It was great. But as you can imagine, with all those flowers, came billions of bees and bugs and critters. A potential nightmare for a girl that appears to have the blood that no mosquito can resist. But since I am that girl, with that blood, I was clever enough to shower myself in insect repellent and managed to walk away with 1 bite, on my right shin. And if you saw the amount of bugs that were out there, you would understand what a great success that was.

Now that we are pretty much caught up, I will do my absolute best not to leave such long gaps betweens my posts. I won’t be traveling again for a while, so I can get back to my normal routine and allow time in my week for blogging up dates.

Sign welcoming us to Rutledge.

Down Town Rutledge.
Lovely big Sunflower.

Miles and miles of sunflowers.

Friday, July 4, 2008

It's Official

A couple of days ago I got an e-mail from my Federation, telling me “officially” that the women’s 4x400m relay, will not be making another attempt at qualification for Beijing. And even though I had pretty much figured this would be the situation, it was still disappointing.

I didn’t think I would feel so down about it, cos really, until February/March of this year, the idea of me stepping somewhat out of retirement and challenging for a position on the Irish Olympic Team was the furthest thing from my mind. But that quickly shifted once I ran my first race and decided to really knuckle down and put in some hard training to get back all my speed and power. And I did. I completely latched onto the idea and knew with the pool of female 400m runners we have here in Ireland, qualification was a definite possibility and I wanted to do the best I could to have myself ready, so that I would be an asset to the team. I committed myself and did the hard training.

Unfortunately life is not always a novel with a happy ending and we had to deal with a couple of things leading into our races that inhibited us performing at 100%. But on the day, we gave it our best shot and there is nothing more you can ask for. And if truth be told, I really enjoyed getting back into the training and my “Guest Appearance” on the Irish Team, even if it was only for a couple of months.

Thursday, July 3, 2008


For the past few years I have been somewhat spoiled when it comes to doing my weight sessions. I am not a lover of gyms. I find them just a breathing ground for egos. Some of the women love to wear their Jane Fonda circa 1980’s spandex attire, complimented with the long blond hair extensions and flawless make-up and spend more time focusing on how their new boobs look as they move from weight machine to weight machine, rather than the actually exercise itself.
Then there are the men and their shorts, which vary in length from ultra short peek-a-boo butt cheek, to the Lance Armstrong just above the knee bike lycra. Usually, this is accompanied by the loose fitting vest. The one where the neck and arm pits are cut so low that their cleavage, oops, I mean pecs and most of their obliques are on full show. It’s their tease. Their way of thinking the rest of the gym is in complete awe of their bodies and would give anything to see the remaining square inch of solid flesh that remains under said vest.

Besides all that, I hate waiting for my turn to get to the squat rack, bench press or any of the equipment. But wait, before I continue, let me just share an observation. Why, oh why do most of the men just love lifting all upper body weights? Hours they will spend pumping every major and minor muscle group that makes up the upper body, but completely ignore the lower body, resulting in a very swollen and inflated hulk like torso and arms, sitting on top of the legs of Mini Me or something. Visually it just doesn’t look good. It’s all wrong. All out of proportion. Like Johnny Bravo or an upside down triangle.

But anyway, the point I’m trying to make is; Gyms and Shinks = painful and frustrating. So as a result, Husband and I turned part of our basement into to our very own weight room, so I can lift in peace whenever I want and not have to worry about getting bullied off my station or having my dumb-bells stolen from me as I turn my back to get a drink of water between sets.

Having said all that, while I’ve been in Ireland, I’ve had to go back to lifting at a gym with others. Booo. But I felt it was something I could easily endure cos its was only for 3 weeks and I was clever enough to go at low traffic times. However twice last week I had 2 different people get on my nerve. The gym has a small stereo and is not very busy during the day, so when I arrived it was empty. I put my bag away and before I started my warm-up I turned on the stereo and tuned it to the station I like to listen to. I was well into my session when some other lad arrived. He walked into the gym and we both acknowledged each other with a slight nod of the head and a “How’s it goin?” Two seconds later he walks over to the stereo and starts twiddling the dial to move it to a station he wants to listen to. “Hello?? What the f*#k are you doing? I was here first”. Thankfully these words did not come out of my mouth. Instead I just tried to have him read them off my angry face. But I don’t think he got it. He must not have a wife or girlfriend. But this exact same situation happened a second time last week, with a different guy and again, I said nothing, I just did my angry stare.

So yesterday, I arrive to find myself alone in the gym. I choose my radio station and get on with my lifting. In walks a guy wanting to lift some weights too. He says ‘Hi”. I reply with a “Hi”. Then, immediately after to puts his bag down, he walks over to the radio and starts changing the station. Now I’ve had it. This is one time too many.

Me: “Yo, hey, you know I wasn’t listening to that?” (Note the use of sarcasm)

Guy: (Confused) “Oh right, ok so. Were ya listen’in to it?”

Me: “Well yeah”

Guy: “So is it ok to change it?”

Me: “Oh of course, I mean its your gym, I’m just lifting in it” (Again, note the extensive
use of sarcasm)

Guy: (Confused) “Emmmm, right so”

Guy walked away not sure if I was pissed off or not, but I can tell you I was very pissed off. So what do you think happened next? Well, I walked over to the stereo and I reclaimed my station. Hah, in your face guy. You may not be the one that started these radio wars, but you are the one that pushed me over the edge. God it felt good. And I was so empowered afterwards, that I lifted like an animal.