Murph

Franklin Street & Never Ending Climbs

Let’s be honest.  It’s hard not to let our personal lives affect our professional lives.  These past couple weeks have been a great reminder of that, and have done a lot for my sympathy in understanding what both colleagues and students bring in to school with them every day.  Even harder is not being able to acknowledge the reality of a personal life while at work.

So you can imagine my surprise and appreciation when a colleague left a nice note on my desk this morning and a container of vegan ice cream in the staff room freezer waiting for me.

SURPRISE ICE CREAM TREAT: 10

Seriously.  I always see it at Food Lion and Trader Joes, but always resist the urge to buy it.  Today, the choice wasn’t mine.  Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!  I made the smart move of leaving it at school, having enough self awareness to know what would happen to it if I brought it home.  A couple spoonfuls here and there might be the best solution ever to a long week 🙂

MURPH’S LOVE OF THE NC HEAT: 2

I always forget how much the Smurph dog hates the NC summers until the warm weather really starts to hit.  While in the Spring, Winter or Fall he’s dying for a longer walk, as soon as the heat kicks in he’s begging to head back home.  Literally.  He puts on the brakes and refuses to go any further.  After I explain to him rationally that he’ll be just fine, and that he needs the extra exercise to burn off the trash he devoured that day, I can often coerce him.  But it is never easy.  Tonight was no exception.

After a walk with Murph, I headed to the CHCC for a Tuesday evening climb.  Arrived a bit late, but still got some nice climbs in with Paul.  Until we hit this route, however.

JOHN’S URGENCY ON THE ROPES AT THE CHCC: 3

I suppose you have the right to take your time.  But I’m also pretty sure there’s a sign on the wall encouraging urgency for the sake of cutting down on lines.  After waiting for over 10 minutes, we decided this was definitely ratable.  While not a rating of John, or his climbing (as he is still very much loved by us), it is a rating of the seemingly endless wait to finally get on the wall.  But if I’m being honest with myself here, maybe the real rating should be:

PAUL & MY CHOICE OF ROUTE: 3

I suppose at the end of the day it wasn’t really John’s fault, but instead ours for choosing to wait in line behind the SLOWEST CLIMBING PAIR EVER.  Okay, I exaggerate.  But when the lines are long, your partner is hungry and trying to peace out early, every second counts.

Following another climb or two we headed out to Tyler’s for dinner and then the Orange County Social Club for some celebratory beers, as a friend’s new album was just released.

DRIVING DOWN FRANKLIN STREET ON A WARM NIGHT WITH THE WINDOWS DOWN LISTENING TO JOE PURDY: 10

Seriously.  Heart smiling and loving life, there’s something about Joe Purdy that goes BEAUTIFULLY with a nice drive down Franklin Street.  Especially when it’s 80 degrees out and smells like summer.

Making it even more exciting?  Realizing that in a matter of two weeks all the undergrads will be gone and it will officially be CAROLINA SUMMER TIME!  I can’t wait 🙂

Overall, a great evening.  Stay tuned for the rating of Tripp’s newest album!

Until then, just living for the tens!

Another day (or three) in the Mountains

I love that I haven’t updated this since my last trip to the mountains… clearly it’s been a busy (and exciting) summer.  I doubt that this will slow down after the big move this weekend, but we’ll see how I can attempt to fit more regular blogging into the changes.  In the meantime, I just have to blog about yet another fabulous trip to the mountains 🙂

ROAD TRIP UP: 10

The boys had to work on Friday, but Laura, Snook and I decided to take advantage of an extra day and headed up Friday morning.  Crashing for free at a friend’s place, it was the perfect destination for my last weekend before moving.  Laura and Snook rode in one car with Preston, with Dakota, Murph and I rode in the Sooby.

I must admit I haven’t driven anywhere alone recently, and I forgot how much I appreciate time to think, sing and drive.

Friday was the perfect opportunity, along with a nice lunch stop where we picnicked on the grass 🙂  One of the rare trips where I actually would have liked to have driven some more…

After arriving Laura and I headed out to the Watauga with the pups to stretch our legs a bit.  Only about 5 minutes down the road from where we were staying… PERFECT!

DRIVING ON THE BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY: 8

Saturday began with a trip along the Blue Ridge Parkway, one of my favorite places to drive in North Carolina (possibly anywhere).  Yielding views like this makes it pretty amazing… I couldn’t resist stopping and forcing the dogs to take pictures with me 🙂

However, there are downsides to driving on the Parkway as well.

1) if you’re trying to get somewhere quickly, this is not the way to do it.  All the tourists take the speed limit extremely seriously, however in light of point number 2, this might be  good thing.

2) As the driver I’m always distracted by the incredible views, and am thankful when I arrive where I’m going in one piece, still on the road.

DAKOTA’S PREFERRED ROAD TRIP POSITION: 10

Way better than when he lays on top of the crash pad (and spends the entire trip sliding around every time I turn or stop), and ADORABLE.  Didn’t even realize this was what he was doing behind me until we stopped along the parkway and I discovered this…

GRANDMOTHER BOULDERING:9

I’ve heard of this place for a while, but now I actually know where it is and could find it again.  SCORE!

About a 15 minute walk/hike off the Blue Ridge parkway, there’s a large collection of pretty sweet rocks.  Luckily Bill and Jen were headed up this weekend as well, as they came prepared with pages worth of beta.

While my climbing wasn’t as good as I would like (what did I expect after climbing so little this summer?), the other climbers were great, and I probably had as much fun taking pictures and being outside as I did actually climbing.  Plus, now I can head back anytime I want 🙂

MY CLIMBING PHOTOGRAPHY: 9

It just keeps getting better 🙂  Now if I could just get my autofocus to work…

NOT SHOWERING FOR THREE DAYS: 7

After leaving for the mountains I decided to protest showering for the extent of the trip, and it proved to be pretty nice.  Always better when you’re actually camping outside and don’t have access to a shower, it saved time and the trouble of worrying about doing my hair.  Pretty much didn’t touch it the whole trip.  Perhaps next time I’ll take it a step further and finally dread my hair like I’ve always dreamed about… was getting pretty close by the end of the trip anyways.

After a morning of climbing, a visit to a local Art festival, and some lunch from the Ham Shoppe, we headed down to the river for some much needed relaxation and swimming.

PICNICING BY THE WATAUGA: 9!

Only wish we had found a deeper swimming hole…

NORTH CAROLINA SKIES: 10

The skies are beautiful all over the state, but this one might take the cake.

HIKING TO THE TOP OF GRANDFATHER: 7.5

After another fabulous breakfast at the nearby Grandview Diner, Scott and I decided to tackle another trail up Grandfather.  The Profile Trail takes off literally about 5 minutes from where we were staying, which was PERFECT!

About 3.5 miles up we hit a fork… having gone up Calloway Peak last time we were in town, we decided to head towards Attic Window Peak, hoping to find some good views.

Did we ever 🙂

We spent about as much time taking pictures as we did hiking… okay, not really but pretty darn close.  Can you blame us?

We came to one overlook that had a straight cliff going off the side, which led to me freaking out, becoming a bag of nerves, and of course insisting on a photo shoot 🙂

Sadly we forgot to pack any food, and didn’t think about the fact that we wouldn’t return until 3.  Needless to say the hike down involved some hunger, exhaustion and shaky legs.  We finally made it back to the bottom 🙂

-.5: Not actually being sure we’d found the peak and having to turn around once we’d gone far enough.

-1: Extreme hunger

-1: Weakness that came with the extreme hunger on the way down

Sadly we headed home from there, and now it’s time to recover back in the triangle for my last week before shipping out 🙂

More on the move later, and until then, just living for the tens!

Rock the Box!

One of my favorite food blogs is called Kath Eats, and is basically just an average girl in Charlotte who is studying to be a nutritionist and blogs about everything she eats.  Tons of great, healthy, ideas for meals, so I got sucked in a while back.  Just the other week she blogged about a contest that Applegate was hosting called ‘Rock the Box‘.  All you have to do is write to them about your favorite lunch memory from school, and you could win a snazzy lunch box.

Do I need a lunch box?  No.  Would I ever use one even if I won it?  Probably not.  But here’s the thing.  I NEVER win things.  In fact, at Hound Ears on Saturday I almost didn’t even stand up by the stage because the chance of my name being pulled were slim to none.  It just doesn’t happen to me.  So a contest that seemed an almost guaranteed win?  I had to do it.

And yesterday afternoon as I was working diligently the UPS man stopped by and dropped off my box!  Couldn’t have been more excited!  It’s a pretty large, snazzy box with four small tupperware containers that all fit inside, along with one larger one. They were also pretty smart and made the band on top elastic so you can slip a water bottle in there.  LOVE IT!

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The last touch, that I didn’t discover right away, was a hand written note from someone at Applegate that referred to the specifics of my story (at least I’m hoping no one else wrote in about the lime green turkey gravy that we used to call ‘snot’ back in elementary school).  I love great customer service 🙂  And I’m not even a customer yet!  But I’ll tell you what, I’m seriously tempted to buy their stuff from now on, even if it’s more expensive, because of how much this made my day (plus they included a bunch of coupons).  Go win your own here!

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I rate this a 10!

Plus, another advantage of working from home… Murph cuddling while working.  Don’t get this in an office, that’s for sure! However, he tends to want to sit right on top of the laptop (his form of protesting) which slows me down, so I’ll give it an 8.

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Frog Visitor and the Amazing Race

NOT OWNING A VIDEO CAMERA: 3.  I’m sure I’m saving some money, and would probably spend way more time than necessary videotaping funny things.  Plus, you all would probably get sick of seeing videos on here of silly things the pups do.  That being said, I would have paid a lot of money to have had a video camera last night when an unexpected visitor of the froggy kind made it’s way into the apartment.

First, I’m not quite sure how a frog made it’s way into a second floor apt, but it did.  It hopped in right through my porch door (which was open due to the nice fall temperatures).  Immediately I worried Murph would try and eat it (you’d be surprised at the large bugs he’s swallowed in the past) so I yelled ‘LEAVE IT!’ and went over and put him in lockdown.  We then watched the frog hop around for a bit while Dakota explored, getting closer and then jerking his head back when it jumped.  I finally let Murph go, and it turns out this guy was too big for him to attack.  He did the same thing as Dakota and would approach, and then his whole body would jump back when it hopped.  It appeared they were both afraid.

I watched them both do this for awhile, enjoying the entertainment, before grabbing Dakota’s dinner bowl to catch it in.  They both crowded around him, me on the third side to make the catch, and all of a sudden Dakota lunged.  Sure that he had the thing in his mouth now I screamed (literally, high pitched scream) ‘DAKOTA!  Drop it!  Let it go!’, a bit revolted by the idea of this large frog in his mouth.  He looked up at me shocked, just as the frog jumped out of the bowl.  Turns out Dakota had forced him to jump into the bowl, actually showing some incredible teamwork.  Oops… I then grabbed Murphy’s bowl too, and cornered the little one with a successful catch.  I headed outside to release him into the wild, hoping for a return visit in the near future when I have a video camera 🙂

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Murph's Lockdown

After all the excitement was over we settled down to watch the Season Premier of the Amazing Race, my favorite reality show (close first to the Bachelorette), and recent Emmy winner for ‘Best Reality Competition Show’ (or something like that…).

the-amazing-raceSEASON OPENER: 6.  First, I would like to comment on their season opener ‘twist’.  I know that recurring reality shows are always looking for ways to spice it up, but sometimes I think they just go the wrong direction.  This season, they had a brief challenge at the very beginning of the race, before they even took off anywhere.  The result was that one team was eliminated right away.  I dislike this for two reasons.  1) How embarassing and sad to get all excited and pumped to be on the Amazing Race, only to be eliminated IMMEDIATELY.  What if you trained for it?  What if this was your lifelong dream?  And to never get a solid chance?  Made me sad 😦  2) I really liked the team that got kicked off.  A cool pair of married yoga teachers who seemed like they could have done pretty well, and someone I could have rooted for.  Definite points off for that decision made by the producers.

Secondly, this season seems to have gone a bit too celebrity on me.  To me one of the great things about the Amazing Race is that it’s ‘normal’ people and anyone could be on it.  This encourages me to continue dreaming about my day on the Race, and makes me continue the search for the perfect partner.  This season has the following celebrities:

  • Former Miss America 2004 and her husband
  • Two female professional poker players
  • Two Harlem Globetrotters

While clearly not everyone, it still makes me think they’re looking for familiar/famous faces to bring in an audience, and I think this takes away a bit from the original brilliance of the show.

However, they did head to Tokyo for stop one which was awesome.  Having lived there way back in the day, I love it when the Race travels to countries I’ve visited.  Gets me more engaged, and gives me hope that my travel experience will benefit me when it’s my turn.

Team I’m rooting for:  ZEV and JUSTIN

zev_justinZev Glassenberg (26); Justin Kanew (30)
Hometown: Sherman Oaks, Calif. / Los Angeles
Occupation: Unemployed/VP of Production and Development for National Lampoon
Relationship: Friends

Zev and Justin’s friendship started six years ago when they were working as camp counselors and the two have been very close ever since.  Zev has Asperger’s Syndrome, but they don’t let it affect their relationship.  They share friends and interests, and the friendship is as mutually beneficial as any could be.

Zev is an avid sports fan — especially basketball — and he has an intense competitive spirit. He describes himself as funny, modest, and loyal, and is running the Race to prove to himself that he can do anything.

Justin prides himself on his patience and his ability to problem solve.  He admits the biggest difference between he and his partner is that Zev is not great in large groups of people — one of the characteristics of Asperger’s — while Justin is very easy-going and can assimilate himself into any group.

Outside of the occasional trip to Vegas (where Justin took Zev to lose his virginity), neither has traveled extensively, particularly with one another. Their relationship is spontaneous and unedited and resembles one of brothers more than friends.

PA Countryside and Smith Family Tennis

PA COUNTRYSIDE: 9.  I certainly don’t complain about Pennsylvania as much as I did in high school, when I was more than ready to leave, but I still do my fair share of comparing it to North Carolina (my home of choice). That being said, every time I drive home on Route 15 up through Maryland and Gettysburg, I’m reminded how beautiful the countryside is.  A bit different than North Carolina because you can pretty consistently see hills in the distant, and this time of year it’s full of fall.  Hay barrels, corn, farms and colored trees, with the windows down and the right music it’s one of the best drives ever.  If you’ve never checked it out, I’d highly recommend a road trip.  -1 because the mountains of western NC are still my favorite.

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FAMILY TENNIS: 7.  While the Smith Family Smackdown was probably the lowpoint of my career (minus earning the highly coveted title of Miss Congeniality), I must say I’ve been on the up ever since.  I don’t play that regularly, which inevitably leads to the constant losing, but some recent coaching appears to have improved my game.  Plus, I got paired up with the family all star today, helping a bit.  Turns out even chemo can’t slow her down, and my mom and I put up a pretty decent fight today.  The dogs were well behaved, and the temperature was just right, so overall I’d say today was a success.  Too bad we also decided that this year’s Smackdown would switch from tennis to bowling…  -2 for my lack of serious skill (although, I did hold my own today), and -1 for losing.

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DOG PACK REUNION: 8.  By far the most entertaining part of the trip home so far has been the reunion of ‘the pack’.  Now that the house has three dogs (my two and my parent’s new puppy) I affectionately call it ‘the pack’.  Without a video camera I can’t nearly do it justice, but I can certainly try.  Today’s adventures have included many, MANY laps run around the house (usually Maggie chasing Murphy and Dakota resting for both of them), a near fight between the two puggles, unending patience on Dakota’s part as he lets the others launch themselves off him, and the pup attempting to walk both of the big dogs.  Constant energy = constant entertainment.  Minus two for the near fights and the battles for attention.

It’s also been interesting to observe the way they all seem to handle their food just a little bit differently…  Meet the pups 🙂

MURPH’S TABLE MANNERS: 3.  A constant mess, Murphy doesn’t really ‘eat’, he sort of vacuums up the food.  As soon as you put it down he nearly shakes with excitement while waiting for me to say ‘OK’ and give him permission to dive in.  He then immediately stands up, throws his face into the bowl, with food going everywhere, and is done 2.5 seconds later.  Next stop= the other two dogs’ bowls to make sure they didn’t accidentally leave anything behind.  If Dakota’s still eating, he rudely pushes his face into the bowl (explaining the comment earlier about Dakota’s unending patience as he moves aside and lets Murphy take over) and frantically tries to inhale as much as possible in as little time as possible because he knows I’ll be there any second to kick him out.

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MAGGIE’S TABLE MANNERS: 8.  While there’s still some puggle in her (meaning she gets super excited at even a hint of food, treat, crumb, etc) she handles much more ladylike than Murph.  She always eats while sitting, fairly calmly, and if she ever accidentally knocks a piece out of the bowl she has to clean it up before moving on to the rest of the bowl.  Once she’s done she pretty much leaves everyone else alone.  Let’s see if this ladylike behavior sticks around or if she grows out of it…

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DAKOTA’S TABLE MANNERS: 7.  Not always consistently the best eater, it often depends if he likes the food.  Luckily I’ve discovered Purina Shredded Blend (chicken) which he LOVES, and never has a problem with.  That being said, he’s easily distracted and a bit too nice.  When Murphy barges in to take over his dinner he willingly steps aside and lets him.  If he doesn’t start stepping up Murphy’s going to be bigger than him.  He often makes a mess, and unlike Murph’s mess he doesn’t clean it up, but just leaves it behind for one of the other dogs.

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MAGGIE’S ATTEMPTS TO WALK THE ‘BIG’ DOGS: 8.  While waiting for Cheryl to pack up and take off we leashed up the dogs to get ready for our night time walk.  Well, Maggie, and her excessive energy, decided to cause some trouble.  She began to grab each leash and attempt to pull the dog around the house, essentially saying ‘Fine, if you’re not gonna walk ’em I will.”  Highly entertaining when she succeeded at pulling Dakota a couple feet across the living room.  Murph just stood there and looked at me like ‘Seriously?  You gonna let her get away with this?’.  -1 because she never attempted both at once, and -1 because I broke three digital cameras in the past year (really Dakota broke one and I blame BG/Andy for the other loss) and had no way to catch it on video.

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EXHAUSTION AFTER A LONG WALK: 10.  While walks are time consuming, boy is it worth it when the pups pass out immediately after returning.

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Off to watch the Emmy’s and spend some QT with the family 🙂

Burnt spaghetti and Kroger Savings

CLASSROOM TECHNOLOGY: 7

Some will be shocked by this rating.  However, as much as I love what it has to offer education, I am also constantly frustrated with it.  Teaching in a classroom with tons of technology I dealt with everything from having to align and realign my SmartBoard (constantly!), fix computer screens for students who had ‘accidentally’ turned them horizontal (and were then working with their head at a 90 degree angle) to the blue screen of death.  Whenever I finally felt like I had things under control something else would happen.

I was reminded of my constant battles in class last week when my Professor whipped out the ‘blue clickers’.  Immediately I was reminded of the guilt I felt for two years knowing that I had these at my disposal in my classroom and couldn’t for the life of me ever get them to work effectively AND efficiently (which is key in a middle school classroom).  I soon felt better when he struggled with them as much as I did, and I questioned if they were even worth using.  The first class lots of batteries were dead, so half didn’t work very well, and the second class something was wrong with the program, and he spent 20 minutes (literally) at the beginning of the class trying to fix it while we were asked to chat with each other.  Again, never would have been feasible in middle school, so my guilt was taken care of.

Still above a 5 (clearly) because this is only one example, and there’s so much that causes few problems and enhances instruction in a huge way.  Plus, the kids love it and what more can I ask for than that.

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BELAYING BIRTHDAY PARTIES AT VERTICAL EDGE: 4

I’ve never loved them, but the benefits have usually outweighed the disadvantages.  Potentially until now, that is.  Vertical Edge used to give out 2 free passes/birthday party worked, plus a free climb that day.  Now they’ve changed it however to 1 free pass and a climb that day.  While this is what Triangle Rock Club offers, TRC also charges a lot more to get in (understandably so as the gym is a lot newer and nicer), so therefore the one piece is worth more money saved.  I pay $8 every Tuesday at Vertical Edge, so now that’s all I’m getting paid for 2 hours, and in my mind just isn’t worth it anymore.  I think I may stick with TRC.

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THIS WEEK’S BATCH OF ROSEMARY BREAD: 7

This time around I couldn’t seem to find my classic recipe on my computer, so I had to go with a new one online.  A benefit was that it didn’t require dried milk (or whatever that stuff is), which miraculously disappeared in all my packing/unpacking this summer.  A downside was that it only called for 1.5 tablespoons of Rosemary (half of what I normally use) and I listened, assuming proportions were different.  However, in the end my apartment didn’t smell like Rosemary like it normally does, and the taste wasn’t nearly as delicious.  I also need to ignore salt requirements, and always cut it in half.  Forgot about that too.

But some bonus points for the fact that it was made for Laura and Snooky, with Rosemary they gave me from their own garden 🙂 Overall it was still pretty delish.

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BURNT LEFTOVER SPAGHETTI: 3

This week I had Laura and Snooky over for dinner and prepared a pretty classic spaghetti with a vegetable sauce dish.  As usual we ended up chatting for a while out on the porch, and then inside over some delicious blueberry pie, and I completely forgot I had left the burner on.  Pretty classic Janice (last framily dinner I found the oven still on 3 days later), and unfortunate because I now have no pasta leftovers. But entertaining as this is what it looked like:

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THIS WEEK’S KROGER SAVINGS: 8

Things like savings and gas prices are always hard to rate, as a 10 would be 100% savings, or $.00/gal.  However, I was pretty pumped when I saw this at the bottom of my Kroger receipt this week while grocery shopping.  Looks like my new frugality (being a grad student isn’t cheap!) is paying off 🙂  Pun totally intended.

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DAKOTA’S WILLINGNESS TO STOP AND DROP ANYWHERE, ANYTIME: 1

Dakota has no sense of propriety when it comes to his pooping.  In fact, if he has to go he goes.  Regardless of where he is.  Murph, on the other hand, searches constantly for the perfect spot.  Really it doesn’t matter that much, except when Dakota is literally in the middle of the street when he decides to go. Poops for so long a car literally has to come to a complete stop waiting for him to finish and me to pick it up.  Not ideal.

The good news is he’s always sure to get it out before returning to the apt.  That would be a definite 0.

I Have a Roommate

I love living alone.  In fact, it’s perhaps one of my favorite parts of adulthood.  So you can imagine how excited I was when I found this in my bathroom:

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I’m not sure the picture does it justice.  Literally this guy is about 3 inches long. I knew there had to be bad times to hate killing bugs and this is definitely one of them.  I want to get nowhere near this to try and catch it and release outside.  But at the same time, it’s so big killing it would be like killing a rabbit or something.  I certainly can’t do that.

5 minutes later when I returned he was gone.  Which means he could be anywhere in my apt, including my bed, making babies as we speak so they’ll be swarming everywhere.  The good news is, Murphy has a fondness for bugs and might try to eat it.  The bad news is, he’d probably choke and die if he actually caught it.

I rate this the most definitive ZERO of the year.