Per Heather’s request, a garden update in pictures:
I came home from Buffalo this week and everything had flowered. Green tomatoes had sprouted!
I’m on my return flight home, although technically I’m not on the flight. I’m sitting at gate A-11 at the Detroit Airport, waiting to board my delayed flight to Tampa.
Oh, airplanes. Nothing seems to fascinate and irritate people more. My Delta flight from Buffalo to Detroit took off 50 minutes later than its scheduled departure time, which means when we landed I had to haul ass across the airport to catch my connecting flight to Tampa.
When I reached gate A-11, I learned that my flight to Tampa was delayed an hour-and-a-half, giving me time to order a sammy from Quiznos and watch the Factory Girl DVD I purchased a couple days ago from a grocery store in Buffalo. (You know how I feel about Sienna Miller.)
Filled with a sort of detached glee, I picked up a family-sized bag of Reese’s Pieces. I figured if I wasn’t going to make it home for Dancing With the Stars, I might as well make it a Blockbuster night airport lounge-style.
The guy who sat across the aisle from me on the flight from Buffalo didn’t share in my amusement.
“Fuck,” he griped as he approached the Delta desk and learned of our delay. “You’ve got to be friggen kidding me.”
I knew he had a suitcase full of thawing Sahlen’s hotdogs – a typical take-home for many native Buffalonians. Hot dog-lovers claim Sahlen’s makes the best hot dog, but it’s all intestines to me.
A brief rant before I board my flight to Buffalo.
If I were a Catholic granny, I’d use the word “miffed,” but since I’m not a Catholic granny, I’m going to use the word pissed.
This is going to sound so bratty, but I’m putting it out there anyway. I’m flying United. I never fly United. I ALWAYS fly Southwest because the flights from Tampa to Buffalo are direct and cheap. For this trip home (for Ro’s bridal shower) I booked through Travelocity because MANY MOONS ago I signed up for a Travelocity MasterCard thinking I’d accumulate enough points to circle the globe twice.
Wrong. Over the course of four years I barely amassed enough points to get from Tampa to Miami — until I transferred my Discover balance and earned a $100 credit toward one Travelocity flight, which is a pittance considering the people at Travelocity MasterCard duped me into signing up for this card. I would have never signed up if I knew there was a $30 annual fee.
$30 annual fee x 4 years = $120. So technically today’s NON-DIRECT UNITED flight cost me an additional $20.
Now, want to hear something even more irritating?
I didn’t want to check luggage. I like to travel light. (Most of the time.) So I shipped a box of stuff to my parent’s house. It cost me $25, but took a load off my back, so to say. I was so proud of this calculation that I called Ro last night to BRAG about it..
“WHAT? YOU’RE NOT CHECKING A BAG?”
“Nope. I like to travel light.”
She was right.
This morning, the kind folks at United informed me that my tiny suitcase was too cumbersome to carry on. Irked, I wheeled it back to the check-in counter, where I was promptly charged $25 for it.
$30 annual fee x four years + $25 USPS shipping + $25 luggage fee = $170.
Oh right. Plus the cost of the flight: $220.
Even more aggravating, we’ve since boarded and I’m sitting next to a woman whose carry-on luggage is bigger than mine and currently shoved into the overhead compartment. Lucky bitch.
PS. Do not EVER sign up for a Travelocity MasterCard. It’s a sham.
Who here grows (or has ever grown) a vegetable garden?
It’s incredibly rewarding when it works and the biggest disappointment when it doesn’t.
We had rain showers all day yesterday and when I walked out of the house this morning, my tomato plants were almost three inches taller! Or maybe I’m exaggerating. Us garden geeks, we do that sometimes.
So last summer, Joe and I dug a vegetable patch in our front yard. We bought seven tomato plants, four pepper plants and one cucumber plant. We laid spinach seeds, carrots and broccoli. We planted basil, oregano and rosemary. We were convinced our garden would yield so many vegetables that neighbors would grow fat off our land.
The attempt was a total bust. We planted at the end of June, when the UV rays in Florida are so hot and deadly you apply sunscreen before getting the mail and the thunderstorms are so brutal you dare not leave the house without an industrial strength umbrella. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.
By July, most of our plants had turned yellow from too much water; their foliage charred from too much sun. The only plant with potential was one unruly cucumber and by mid-July even that was on its way out thanks to a gluttonous aphid.
This year is going to be different.
This year Joe dug the garden even bigger. We purchased additional stones, fencing, a soaker hose and eight bags of organic soil, which I know sounds prissy and redundant. We planted eight tomato plants, eight peppers, six zucchini, two cucumbers, and rows of snap peas, carrots and spinach in addition to the usual herbs. We did it the first week in March thinking we were total pros.
And then every champion gardener I met informed me that we were too late. Again.
Ah well. Wish us luck. I’m much more jaded about it than Joe. He thinks we’re growing enough tomatoes to make a sauce. I hope he’s right because at this point our reputation is on the line. Neighbors are beginning to wander into our yard to admire our bountiful jungle, which is visible from the road and will be a public embarrassment should it flop. Again.
Seriously people. If I can’t pass out fat zucchinis at the end of May, I’m gonna be bitter.
PS. Fun fact: Joe doesn’t eat vegetables.
PPS. I have a hanging strawberry plant on the front porch. It gives me at least two red berries a day and shows no signs of slowing down. If the garden should take a turn for the worse, this is my consolation prize.
I’m not a fitness fanatic. I do not own one piece of Under Armour clothing. I do not eat egg whites and I do not drink whey protein shakes. True, the bathroom cupboards in my house contain at least three different types of vitamins. However, they belong to Joe.
I mention this only to reiterate that I’m not a fitness fanatic.
Except that, I am. Kind of.
I signed up for a triathlon for many, many reasons. I signed up because I love the idea of pushing my body, conditioning it to do things it is perfectly capable of doing. There’s no reason why I can’t run a triathlon. I’m a healthy 28-year-old with legs that move fairly swift in an organized one-foot-in-front-of-the-other fashion that is conducive to both running and biking. Secondly, my father taught me how to swim when I was five years old, so I don’t see why I should waste those skills now that I’m an adult.
It’s like being handed all the tools to build a house. Of course you have to want to be a carpenter first and therein lies the truth: I want to be an athlete.
That’s the practical explanation for why I signed up for a triathlon; why I embarked on a three-mile-a-day running regimen for a month, even though I was certain I would hate it, even though I had failed at previous attempts at running throughout various points of my life.
I started running because I needed to be able to run four miles after swimming a 1/2 mile and biking 10. I started swimming 40 laps in a 50-meter pool because without preparing for the first leg of the race, I’d have suffered in the second and third legs.
Those are the facts. The philosophical reasons, while heavier, are what keep me moving every day.
I signed up for a triathlon because I wanted to suck up every ounce of my health, because one day, despite my spirit, it might not be there. Because there are people in my life who I love more than anything in the world whose bodies aren’t so able. Because I’ve got youth and health on my side and I should be celebrating this good fortune every day.
This post should go up at exactly 7 a.m., which is when the Escape From Fort Desoto Triathlon is scheduled to begin. If you’re reading this between 7 a.m. and 7:40, I’m probably flailing around in the Gulf of Mexico in a one-piece bathing suit and swim cap. Also: if you’re up at 7 a.m., go back to bed. You’re up too early. If you’re reading this between 7:45 and 8:00, I’m probably approaching mile 5 on my Bianchi. If it’s 9 a.m., I’m on foot, tackling the thing I feared most — running.
If you’re my husband Joe, you’re blowing the minds of every person who knows you by being awake and out of the house at 5:30 a.m. on a Saturday. I love you, my pep squad of one.
Oh, and happy birthday to me!
To Holly (otherwise known as Heelya):
Today we are the same age, which used to annoy me when we were kids. I liked being older and Dad knew it, so he used to aggravate me by reminding me of this fact for two days. Two WHOLE torturous days.
“You know, you and Holly are both 10 now.”
“No we’re not.”
“Oh, yes you are.”
“No. I’m older.”
“Nope. Not today and not tomorrow. Today and tomorrow you are the same age.”
This would infuriate me.
When we got older people called us Irish twins, although we’re neither Irish nor twins. We’re just sisters born within 12 months of each other.
After Joe and I called you at midnight to perform our acoustic (and painfully soulful) happy birthday song, you (as usual) said some unintentionally hysterical things, so hysterical and characteristically unscripted I’m certain the details would amuse many Lance readers. However, when I asked you if I could write about them, you hesitated and replied, “Nah. You’ll embarrass me.” And I was cool with that.
But then you sent me a text message at 12:25 a.m. that read: “Ok, u can blog about me, but only if its a birthday blog and doesnt embarrass me too much.”
So I dug up this old photo of us dancing at our 1999 prom. You were a sophomore and I was a junior. I can’t remember what song we were waltzing to, but I do recall we owned the dance floor that night – even though the evening started off on a sour note.
When we arrived at the prom, a female classmate snarled behind my back that I looked like a fat pig in my dress. You don’t even know it, but you saved my life that night. When I think back on my junior prom, I remember crying for 10 minutes in the bathroom and then spending the rest of the night dancing blissfully with you.
Heelya, I’m so proud of you. You bought your first house this week! Anyone who has ever hunted for and purchased a piece of real estate, shares in your joy and frustration. It’ll all be worth it this summer when you’re sitting on your porch, sipping iced tea and reading smutty magazines. Believe me.
You’re an excellent teacher; the best teacher I never had. I get misty-eyed when I read the letters your students write me. Sure, I’m proud of the kids, whom I know are learning disabled and struggle through every word. But I’m also proud of you.
Growing up we were inseparable and now we live too far apart, but I’m not one for drama, so I’ll just leave it at this:
You’re a good sister. I’m lucky to have you. You’re playful and thoughtful. You’re a good cook and an even better grocery shopper. No other Myrtle Beach resident can pull off a pair of fuzzy winter boots like you can. You have good taste in boys. (Ahem, Brian.) You make me laugh every time we talk and I miss you terribly. I couldn’t possibly embarrass you on your birthday. That’s what the other 364 days of the year are for.
I love you and I’ll see you in two weeks.
PS. Question for Mothership: did you stick baby’s breath in our hair for every prom?
For more on this picture, see the end of this post. ω
1. There’s a freewheeling monkey on the lam in my neighborhood.
That’s right. You heard me. And it’s old news at this point. The vagabond monkey has made national headlines for months, including CNN, ABC News and The Colbert Report. It’s apparently a Rhesus monkey, native to Asia and it’s been running around Tampa Bay since 2008, eluding wildlife authorities and popping up in random housing developments as far as 50 miles apart. Efforts to tranquilize the monkey have proved futile. Twice it’s been hit by darts and each time scampered away, forcing authorities to increase their dosage. One trapper suggests the primate is at this point, addicted to the darts. No one knows for sure where the hell the monkey came from, although authorities claim it was likely separated from a wild troop in the Ocala Forest. Last it turned up swinging from a tree in a pool cage near my house. The woman who owned the house, snapped a picture and then watched as the monkey proceeded to go berserk, fall into her pool, clamber out of the water and then escape through an open screen door. When the woman surveyed her property later, she noticed several grapefruits were missing from one of her trees. Not only is this monkey ballsy. It’s got some 67,000 fans on Facebook. According to several eyewitnesses, he looks both ways before crossing the street. That’s more than I can say for some people. I say let the monkey go. He’s a smart, self-sufficient go-getter.
2. Living in a town that hosts the Grand Prix is like living in a beehive.
I mean that in the best possible way. I’m not afraid or perturbed by bees. It’s just that from a distance, race cars, as any Nascar-loving yahoo will tell you, sound a lot like an approaching swarm of killer bees. The only thing slightly perturbing about the Honda Grand Prix is that it sets up shop every spring on the waterfront in downtown St. Pete, closing entire stretches of road that Joe and I frequently bike. The race itself is only one weekend, but the track takes weeks to rig, which means Beach Drive and Bay Shore Drive are closed from Central Avenue to Albert Whitted Airport for almost a month. Two years ago, we rode around the barricades thinking it would be an adventure. The race was still weeks away and we figured no harm could be caused by two wayward bicyclists tooling around a racetrack. However, at one point I stopped paying close attention to where I was going and by a millimeter avoided slamming my face into a mesh fence. Since such a near-miss should not be taken lightly, Joe and I no longer jump barricades when the Grand Prix is in town. Well, for the most part.
3. The only notable thing about the new Tom Cruise flick is Cruise’s porcelain veneers.
You don’t have to be married to a film critic to figure this one out.
4. There’s nothing like running past a one-armed fisherman to keep you motivated.
This happened two weeks ago on a particularly awful run, the kind of run you force yourself to go on because you’re a.) in a lazy mood and b.) achy from previous runs. Mustering motivation, I tied on my shoes – dubbed “the boats” by my sister PK due to their gargantuan size and canoe-like shape. After reaching for my toes once or twice in a pathetic, half-assed attempt at stretching, I sprinted out the front door and down the road. Two minutes into the run it was clear I would need some sort of mental pick-me-up in order to persevere through the next three miles. Rounding a cul-de-sac on Coffee Pot Boulevard I came upon a one-armed fisherman baiting his pole on the edge of a seawall. He used his left stump to steady the pole and his good hand to lace a grub through the hook. Without realizing it, my body began to pick up speed, my left knee throbbed less, my feet felt weightless in my boats and my spirit soared. I’ve thought about the one-armed fisherman on every run since and I’ll no doubt think of him when I’m dogging it this Saturday in my first triathlon. If some dude can bait a pole with one arm, I can run, bike and swim for 1 hour and 40 minutes.
5. Worried your lifeguard husband is ogling babes in bikinis all day?
Well, you haven’t met the guy who works at the North Shore Pool in downtown St. Pete. While swimming laps this week, (in preparation for the above mentioned triathlon) my best friend Ro and I watched a male lifeguard apply sunscreen to the back of an 85-year-old woman wearing a skirted bathing suit and a plastic babushka. Hello job perk!
ω I interviewed Bill Walker, a commodities trader-turned Appalachian Trail hiker last month for The Observer. A short version of his long story is here. Faced with limited photo options on a stormy day, I chose to shoot Bill walking on Siesta Key Beach in the rain. And no, he’s not 7 feet tall. He’s 6 feet 11 inches. ω