Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

Virtual Cycling Adventures

So last year I got myself a VR headset, which I generally really enjoy.  Well it turns out this is a good year for one ;).  Especially as the gym is closed and it's *snowing* out.  Ugh.

Yesterday I connected with VZfit -- which is VR cycling that can work with any stationary bike that has one of several sensors (conveniently the one I have is one of the viable options).   Win!  They have two options:  Explorer, which essentially lets you ride anywhere in the world that has google street view, and Play, which is games - some racing, some shooting, some both.  From what I can tell.

So step one -- getting everything set up.   Email company and they send me the relevant link.  Click on it, connect to my Quest and...  It worked?!?!   Lol I really had doubts but sure enough both games were in my menu.  Download and good to go.

Tried Explorer first.  It gave me a registration code which I needed to put in their website (a bit of a pain since the code is in VR and website on computer but okay) -- however, it worked and away I went.  It has you start peddling so it can identify your sensor and focus on a certain point so it can "centre" your bike (eg - have the handlebars look like your handlebars).

Then it was just a matter of picking where I wanted to ride; there are a series of recommended rides, so I started with one of those -- Sedona, Arizona.  So...  Pluses and minuses.   BIG plus -- in 15 minutes I was puffing away and sweating.  So it definitely is giving me a good workout.   Less good -- the graphics are definitely first generation VR.   While it's stunning to look around, close graphics (eg road signs) look like they're lying flat down, and the graphics refresh about every two seconds and everything pixelates while that happens.   Less fun, but I've high hopes for as the tech evolves.  

You can choose to have a trainer -- my workout increased exponentially when I did that.  Trainer can do interval, HIIT, or ...  something else -- Heart I think.    I tend to hate HIIT with a passion, so I was going with Interval, and quite enjoyed it.  Basically pedal to keep up with him/her.  You can set the level of difficulty which changes how fast you have to pedal to keep up.  Of course you can also change the tension, which in my completely non-tech bike, has no impact on the game whatsoever (to be fair, I don't think it has that capability for anything yet, but I suspect it will come).   You steer by leaning -- the first time I nearly fell off the bike.  Lol -- my VR bike reacted more strongly than I'd expected and since it really does trick the mind into thinking you're really riding, my body reacted accordingly.   lol less effective when you're not actually tipping over!   Once I got the hang of it though, I kinda love it.

I learned to be careful if I sit up (and let go of the handles) because when I lean back down my bike handles are not *exactly* in the same position as the VR bike handles.  If I reach for those, I will miss.    It's also slightly creepy to look down and see the shadow of your bike peddling away with no shadow of rider and no feet in the pedals ;)

I also tried a trip in Italy that I'm enjoying WAY more.  So will take a while before I get to try all the ones I want to.  In the Arizona one, I was disproportionately disappointed when I cycled past a DQ and couldn't stop for a treat!  lol - Italy is safer ;).  At least the area I'm cycling in has nothing I recognize.

So let's see, what else...  You can see how far is left in the ride, but no way to see how far you've gone.  Sad.  Apparently that's in the backlog.  Can switch several views and first-third person.  Trainers are optional and available both male/female.  Apparently there's music, but I haven't found that yet (nor do I really want to).  Some stats available on the website which will be nice long term.

Customer service so far has been amazing.  Both via email and on their FB page.  Super impressed with the FB correspondence.

Down side -- I can't make the game work.   Apparently a known bug with my combo of tech -- which, plus side, the fix is being released sometime today.  So will hopefully be able to update tomorrow :).  Where I may go back to Italy, or I may ride a unicorn...   Time will tell ;)

#FridayFlash 74: A moonlit stroll

There was a time, once upon time, a long time ago, when I lived in a world of stories.  When I couldn’t sleep amazing things would play out in my head – dragons, and magic, and myth; stories to escape reality and make me wonder where they came from.  Or sometimes the simplest, most average of stories, that would resonate with people because, let’s be honest, most of life is average.

But over time the painful monotony of 9-5 killed the world of dreams I once loved so much.  My creativity all but vanished, and I’d sit in front of a blank screen with 26 letters to choose from and no rules to follow, and yet, nothing.

But some nights, like this night, I wake up out of a deep sleep and feel just a flicker of what once was.   As though I can almost hear the waves of a magical island crashing, and see the moonlight reflect off the fairy’s wings.

Tonight is one of those nights.   It’s been an awfully long time, and I’ll prob regret it when the alarm goes off for work in the am, but maybe, just maybe, there’s a story here…


She didn’t know why she awoke, so suddenly and completely.  She’d only been asleep a couple hours, but she knew she was up for a while now.   Stumbling in the dark, she grabbed some clothes and left the room so as not to wake her partner.  The old house was quiet – not even the furnace was running, so every creak of the floor was magnified.  The highway, almost never heard in the distance, sounded as though it were right next door.

She dressed quickly, and her curious dog – always up for an adventure – sleepily came to investigate.  “Want to go for a walk?” she whispered, instantly animating the dog who started spinning in circles.  She smiled and ushered her out the door before the excited scrambling would wake her sleeping partner.  

It was eerily light outside – the harvest moon far brighter than the widely spaced streetlights.  It was a safe neighbourhood – she wasn’t overly concerned about being out alone, even so late.

She and the dog made their way along their habitual route, as one does, the dog eagerly leading the way.  Something seemed, not quite right – it took her a moment to figure out that all the noise had stopped.   That which had been so loud in her house, was silent outdoors.  She couldn’t hear her footsteps as they scrunched the gravel, nor her dog panting with excitement.    She shook her head once to clear her ears, but it did nothing.  Up ahead, she saw a woman walking toward her.  Odd, given it was the middle of the night and she never even saw people on this road during the day.  The moonlight framed the woman in such a way she appeared to glow.

She felt a shiver go down her spin, and shortened the dog’s leash, pulling her closer.  “Hello,” she said as she passed the woman.  The woman tilted her head and looked at her as though studying her, before continuing on her way without saying anything.

Weird she thought, and turned toward home, suddenly far less interested in being out alone at night.  But when she turned the corner, it wasn’t the houses she walked past every day in front of her.  Instead of her nice suburban neighbourhood, all she could see were farms.   Sound returned, but instead of the mildly aggravating growl of the highway, she heard the quiet occasional scurry of a small nocturnal critter.

She spun around, but the corner she had just turned was gone.  Her dog was sniffing eagerly, pulling on the leash, clearly enjoying this new landscape, but she felt her heartrate accelerate as panic quickly set in.  What the…. This made no sense.  It wasn’t possible.  And yet, it had happened.

She continued walking toward. Where her home should be, having no idea what she’d find.   She felt a huge relief when she got to her street to see her house was still there; it was the only one around, but it was there.  It was, however, not quite right…. There were no cars in the driveway for one thing.  Even if for some odd reason her partner had gone out, her car should still be there.   And the For Sale sign that waved wistfully in the darkness when she’d left, was missing.

She was not terribly surprised when she tried the door, to find it locked.  But she had noticed that not far from where her garage used to be there was now a barn, so she led the dog that way, figuring they could stay there for the night and figure out what was going on in daylight.

“When did you get here?”   She was awoken by a pre-adolescent boy wearing clothes she’d only ever seen in the movies.  “Mom!  We’ve got another one,” he shouted.

“Another one what?” she asked, hearing the mother’s faint reply from the house.   

He just shook his head, “Mom will tell you,” and went deeper into the barn.

“Oh dear, you must’ve had a rough night.  When are you from?”

“Uh, what?” The boy’s mother stood before her, a heavyset woman with an easy smile who smelled slightly of fresh bread.

“What year is it?” the woman asked, as though that were the most natural question upon finding someone sleeping in her barn.

“Uh 2020?” hating that it came out as a question, but suddenly doubting the truth she knew.

“And this is your house?” she asked.

“Well, yes….?  Although we don’t have a barn…” 

“Okay, well it’s 1852 now child, why don’t you come have breakfast and we’ll talk.”

She followed, flabbergasted, into the house she knew so well and yet not at all.  Everything seemed to suit what little she knew of the time period.   The woman gestured to sit down and put a plate of biscuits in front of her.

“You crossed the ley lines under the harvest moon and greeted the traveler,” she said as though that made perfect sense.

“Uh, I took my dog for a walk in the moonlight?” 

“That’s okay child, it happens more often than you’d think.  Fortunately, we know how to send you home.”

The relief she felt was instant and overwhelming, but followed almost immediately by intense curiosity.

“Wait, you mean this has happened before?”

“Oh yes, at least a couple times a year we get visitors.  The first few were a shock – a couple of them stayed and it took a while to figure out how to send the others home.  All of them live in this house in their time, and all of them walked under the harvest moon and met a woman who said nothing to them.   You’re here for a week, but on our next moon, we can send you home.”

“Are you sure?  I mean, if people leave, how do you know they get home?”

“We don’t for sure, but we had one visitor that wasn’t surprised to be here, which makes us think it works.   There’s a diary – I’ll show you where it’s hidden, that we ask all the travellers to write in.  One person had found it while renovating the house – apparently inside it, are references made by people who returned home.  That’s the best I can do.   But if you don’t want to risk it, we can help you find a life here.”

She spent the week as their guest in a house she considered her own, in the most fascinating history lesson ever.  The family asked many questions about her time, interested more in daily life than in world events, and they shared what little they knew of the magic surrounding their farm.  They’d had visitors from farther in the future than her, but didn’t have any details to share.

When the week was up, she followed their directions, holding tightly to her dog, and woke to her alarm buzzing in her ear.  Rolling over she grabbed her phone, which confirmed it was really the next morning. 

She laughed at herself for the intensity of her dream, and then realized she was dressed.  Eyes wide she got up and went up to the attic.  In a hidden cabinet, she’d never known about before, she found an old leather journal.

With shaking hands and complete disbelief, she sat down on the dusty floor and started to read.

People are happier when they're apart?

So interesting side effect to social distancing and lock down -- people seem to be friendlier?   Lol out walking the dogs -- people wave from the porch or front yard every few houses.   That's just not a thing usually, with the sole exception of the occasional other dog walker.  Couples walking together, families with kids, everybody always smiling and waving safely from the other side of the road ;)

I've also been impressed that the last few days, everybody I passed was observing social distancing rules; lots of people stopping to chat with each other (a safe distance away), or situations where someone is on the front porch chatting with someone in the driveway (a couple cases with both in lawn chairs - settled in for a long chat).

I pulled Sasha and Tucker up into somebody's driveway to allow a woman pushing a stroller with *three* children in it to pass on the sidewalk and she was so appreciative.  Uh of the two of us, I think it's significantly easier for me to get out of the way.  Sheesh.

Sasha's loving this but Tucker's exhausted.  lol he's super-excited to go for walks, but has about a 20 minute time limit.   Sasha, otoh, would rather play all day.   When we go for walks she knows all the decision points along the route that decide whether we're going home or continuing the walk and she consistently tries super hard to herd me in the "keep going" direction ;)

I've also learned that the walks we go on are a lot longer than I think they are ;).  Lol now that I'm working from home, I'll often take her before work or at lunch -- but then I have to be back for a specific time.  Turns out that I mentally estimate about half the time it actually takes for a walk (eg - I expect the route to be 15 mins, takes half an hour).   Oops.

I'm still working full time (and grateful for it!) so I don't have the tons of free time lots of people do.  A shame on the one hand, cause my list of things I'd love to get done is fairly long, but good otoh because - employed.   LOVING working from home, although mildly amused that I'm actually working longer hours than when I was in the office -- mostly trying to keep my team functional, engaged, and pointed the same direction when they have little to no experience working from home.

I never realized before that running a remote meeting is an actual skillset.  lol until these last few weeks when I've painfully sat through meeting after meeting with people who lack that skillset.  Also the things I've been coaching people on that I never thought I'd have to say ("mute" is your friend! and if you share your full screen instead of just one app, make completely sure your IMs are blocked ;).  Lol ah well, mildly entertaining.

I don't feel stressed, but I suspect I subconsciously am...   Little things let me know -- I've had all kinds of sleep, but still had a coma-level nap this afternoon for several hours.   In my free time I can't focus enough to read or study, which are my usual go-tos, instead am baking or cross-stitching (which I've randomly become addicted to?!?!).   Read an interesting article about why people stress-bake or craft (which apparently I'm doing both of) -- having to do with the emotional high of creating something, without the need for actual creative skills ;).  Works for me.  Only thing with the baking is, it's followed by the eating.  Oops!

Current WIP - who knew eh?

It's the little things

So it's definitely a stressful time for all.

I had a whole paragraph here outlining the stresses impacting my life personally, but, well, you don't need to know.  So deleted and summarized in 3 words:  $, people, work.


Now, the positives.  Despite what the deleted paragraphs would suggest, I am working *really* hard to stay focused on the positives and keep my mental health in check. (hence deleted ;)

So - I now get to work 100% from home.  I *love* working from home.  I get more sleep; I'm a more functional human; I save money; I have a lot more patience and productivity for work.   All wins.

When I'm stressed on a call,
I just have to look over and see this and my blood pressure drops :)
I'm exercising every day and Sasha is often getting two walks a day now that I don't have to commute and I'm home at lunch time.   Tucker often snuggles next to me while I'm working -- a constant hug :)

Sasha also is a lot easier to live with when she's getting all the walks :).  And, better yet, sometimes Chris comes too :). And I never feel guilty leaving Sasha alone to go to work cause, well, she comes with me.

I've found a fitness program that I admittedly don't love, but it's only 30 mins a day and is getting results, so win.

I'm being very careful what I view on social media and how much news I consume.  I try to share primarily positive and light items for those who need a break from the constant negativity (lots of critters!).  It's the little I can contribute from my place on the couch ;)

The weather's decent and I can step outside at lunch or on breaks, and when I'm done work I'm home immediately and can go soak up sunshine before it goes away (hence the multiple Sasha walks :)

Almost everybody is having similar financial challenges.  *Hopefully* this will be short term and we will all get through it.  But if not, we'll be going through it together.  Government measures are getting closer and closer to helpful, so maybe...   5-year rule:  5 years from now, will this matter?   Hopefully not.

But most importantly, at this point, everybody I love is still healthy.   Here's hoping by following the isolation rules, all will remain that way.

For the win :)

So I did a thing :).  This is the second time I've won the CHOW (challenge of the week) -- note, as the name might imply, there is one every week.  Twice is good, but certainly far from superstardom ;)

What amuses me is that it's in the same round as last time.  Which is *not* a round that involves punching anything *sigh*.  It would seem I'm reasonably good at lifting weights quickly ;).  This time around 1 rep included -- squat, bicep curl, press -- all holding dumbbells.  As many as possible in 3 minutes.

The CHOW moves from round to round each week and the different rounds have different challenges -- but 6 of them involve punching things.   I'll be very happy the day I get one for punching something lol.  I think I'm currently in second for this week -- but it completely toasted me so no chance of a redo being of any use.  I did it on Monday and today is the first day I haven't felt it.

Wrecked my hand punching something this week though.  Scrunched it from the side.  Less fun. Although tbh, I'm somewhat surprised I haven't done it before now...

A sport I will not be taking up ;)

So a couple weeks ago we had a team event at work that I'm finally writing about ;)

The first thing was to *get* to the event, in our team-for-the-day.   Our team had two incredibly competitive people (to put this in perspective: I am *not* one of them...) so of course we had to get there first.  Note, this was not a race, but that apparently is irrelevant *g*

The weather was horrid so we took the PATH.  One of our teammates was doing the tour guide thing on the way, which was surprisingly entertaining.  Also -- we found a keyboard staircase?!?!  SO much fun.  I managed to convince a couple people to pause and play with me ;).  Then we raced to catch up to the competitive ones *g*

Eventually we got to the event. First.  By a long time.   But the event was ping-pong, so at least we could amuse ourselves while we were there.  Two of our team started playing and were *good*.  Lol so random - I somehow wasn't expecting that.   The only other woman on my team asked if I would practice with her.  We were HORRIBLY bad.  Lol I haven't laughed that hard in ages.  For one thing, ping pong balls are remarkably light...   We had them in the ceiling, off the back wall (3 tables away), in the bar -- and bystanders were definitely not safe anywhere near us.   We'd be gentle a time or two but then it would go slightly the wrong direction and we'd attempt to salvage it -- with too much strength.   We also bent ALL the rules -- if the ball went back to the other person is all that mattered.  It could bounce off the floor, the ceiling, another person...  Catch it in one hand and throw it.  All good.  So. Much. Fun.
I suspect ping-pong doesn't generally involve quite so much exercise ;)
But other people showed up and we'd been at it for a while so we handed over our paddles for a bit.   A while later I was watching two women I work with quite a bit playing -- and one in particular was *really* good.  Well apparently she was on her school team?!?!  Lol who knew.  Apparently ping pong (I'm sorry "Table Tennis") is a big thing in India.  And most of the teammates who grew up there had moderate to good skills.  And at least awareness of the rules ;)

So after watching for a bit a fourth person joins us and suggests pairs.  Sure, why not.  Well.  Apparently there are even *more* rules when there are pairs.  Lol -- and while I got the ones about serving, I could not get my head around 'hit the ball once, step back let other person hit the ball, step up and hit the ball again'.   This did not go well.  And my poor, exceptionally competent partner was getting very frustrated.  I think she gave up about when I hit the ball that had bounced off the floor back into play. So she decided this would be a good time to get another drink ;).  One player on the other side also wanted a break (this I claim is not my fault!) and I ended up playing with a very good player on the other side, but one who was highly amused by my take on the rules.   We definitely invented a new game -- I would hit it wildly, it would bounce off the floor somewhere, and he would hit it back so it would land exactly where it was supposed to on the table ;).  Lol -- he was playing real tennis (and getting the workout that goes with it!) and I was playing table tennis.  It was awesome, and highly entertaining.

The expression on her face pretty much sums it up ;). Also, this picture was the perfect top to the day

When it came time to officially play I lost every game.  Alas, I do not see a potential ping pong career in my future.  But the pre-game practice was more entertaining than anything I've done in a while.

Also -- this week, when one teammate threatened we should form a softball team, I reminded them of my pingpong skills and respectfully suggested that handing me a bat or ball would probably not be good for anybody's health ;).  Win.

Why not?

So while I'm still really enjoying 9 Round, I'm very aware that it does nothing for flexibility.  And recently starting to realize I'm losing what very little flexibility I ever had - particularly my hips and my hamstrings.

I am aware that yoga might help this, but so far I've hated every type of yoga I tried with a passion, so  convincing myself to go to a class in my limited free time when I'd rather do pretty much *any*thing else -- seriously, cleaning the dog crap out of the yard ranks higher in enjoyment value.   And, because I've never managed to do it consistently AND I'm completely inflexible, doing any home-based program, like the MANY I have access to through BeachBody (of P90X3 fame), is not going to get reasonable results.  And again, I'm unlikely to stick to the program.

So I thought okay...  I have to do something...  A real program is out...  And the rest of me is still moderately flexible.  So let's find something that's reasonable and focuses on target areas.

Introducing the 30 Day Split Challenge!

Lol jk.  Well, only partially.  It IS, in-fact, titled "journey to splits" but I have zero belief/aspiration/intention, of achieving that.  Even for she who takes on ridiculous challenges, that's a little much.  I could never even do them as a bendy little kid.

BUT - what do you need to do the splits?   Flexible hips and hamstrings...   hmmm - pretty target area.  So I did some research and found a zillion options to learn to do the splits, and eventually one that I thought might actually address my specific challenges.  So this is 30 days, about 10 mins / day. You do exercises 1-5 every day (1 min each side), and then one more.  So on day 6, you do exercise 1-5 + 6, on day 10 you do 1-5 + 10, etc.  

Care to join me?
About the only real rule is EVERY day.  And from the couple reviews I read, this is important ;).  Okay - I can follow 30 days.   Some of the pictures aren't quite as clear as I'd like (eg - is that foot straight or on an angle?) and a three of the days have exercises that essentially ARE splits, so, well, suffice to say I won't be looking anything like that ;).  Meh, she's wearing pink yoga pants, it's a pretty safe bet I won't be looking like any of them *g*. But for instance, 5 and 10 are the same exercise.  5 uses a cheater band and is currently about my level.  I don't see any chance whatsoever that in 5 more days I'll suddenly be able to do 10!

I do understand that stopping at 30 days and not continuing to do *some*thing for flexibility will completely undo any progress made -- future Lauren can deal with that ;).  I'm well aware that I work well in bite sized challenges *g*

So anyways - day 1...  All good.   Sure the ego takes a hit with just how inflexible I am.  And it definitely raised questions about the movements -- slight shifts change what hurts dramatically.   But as all the hurting is in places that need to be more flexible, I'm not being too picky ;).  But I could mostly do the exercises and when I was done I was done.   Ditto for day 2.  But on day 3, my hips hurt through the day.  It took till stretchy time (which for me is after work) for me to put the pieces together.  Day 4 I was dreading a little -- mostly cause I was sore most of the day.  Not something wrong sore, similar to gym sore except literally in my hips which is not an area the gym really targets.  Hmmm arguably knowing that is what set me on this in the first place, but apparently there's a difference between knowing theoretically and knowing intimately ;)

Day 5 is tomorrow.  I'm definitely feeling it, which tells me something is happening.  I've quite happily deluded myself into thinking it's clearly positive change ;).  The goal is to be able to roundhouse kick the big round bag at the gym (last time that was an exercise I could barely do it on one leg with zero strength and not on the other.  It's was pathetic)

So I'll check back in later and we shall see.  Since I took zero measurements of any time, this will be a pretty subjective assessment on my part ;)

Spanish Adventures

So while lounging by the pool in Costa Rica, I’ve been continuing my Neverending Story adventure in Spanish.  Now usually I have my phone or computer for easy clarification if required.  Here, I had only a dictionary - and was loathe to use it.   Most things can be figured out to some degree with context (or deemed completely unnecessary as in the details of the description of somebody’s appearance) or are confusing in a way that the dictionary won’t clarify (who’s doing what to whom is somewhat a bit of a question mark in my current capabilities - usually I can figure it out but not always, esp without my notes).  

But today I gave in.  There was one word and through no context could I figure it out.  But it was clearly repeated multiple times and often in the context of a name, but not capitalized so not a name...   Finally got frustrated enough to look it up: sphinx.  Lol not feeling so bad that I couldn’t come up w that one.   I didn’t remember there was a sphinx in that story lol.  But the rest made way more sense once I had that piece.

Descriptions are a nightmare though w limited vocabulary.  I know how to say someone is fat.  And I would recognize the word to read it.  But how often would that actually be written?  Oh no - he’s big boned, or large, or round, or rotund, or heavy, or can’t see his shoes because of his belly, or pregnant, or ...   those are a whole lot of words for the same thing...  and he didn’t just say, he grumbled, grunted, mumbled, whispered, sighed, yelled, shouted, screamed, screeched...   Again - on dedicated days I look some of these up and my vocabulary is slowly growing.  On beach vacation days I accept that the message was conveyed and don’t worry too much about how ;)

Other things I’ve learned on this trip - not only is my reading vocabulary lacking but so is my basic life vocabulary.  In need of toilet paper for the room I asked the maid if we could please have more bathroom paper - since I have no idea what it’s actually called.  She gave me a puzzled look, but figured it out ;).    Similarly I remembered the words for fork and spoon but drew a complete blank on knife - I’m sure you can guess which piece of cutlery I needed ;).  Also, no idea how to say cutlery?!?!    Various other things along those lines.

Did manage conversations with the grill guy and a cashier entirely in Spanish w accurate results, so that’s good.   Given enough time and patience on the part of the listener I can find ways around my vocabulary - eg, I apparently don’t know how to say knife, but I can say ‘the thing you cut food with’ lol.   Also - I learned what vocabulary I do have is a mix of Spain-Spanish and Americas-Spanish.  And the two are not always super interchangeable so I get some odd looks from time to time. 

My evesdropping - uh listening skills ;) are also improving.  Some are too fast or speak in a tone (accent?) that I can’t catch at all, but the vast majority of the conversations I randomly overheard I could understand at least most of, so I was pleased w that.

Ah well - I’m pretending it’s improving ;).  Slowly.

Enjoying every minute

It's our last day :(.  While I am looking forward to returning to eating a little more normally, I'm not ready to return to cold or work.  Ugh.  Finally feeling super relaxed and happy, and now time to go home...

Otherwise though, it was a super nice day.   Chris and I revisited our massage friends - if you happen to be down this way, Juanita and Carlos are the people to talk to :).   Was not a bad start to the day.  Otherwise bounced around in some waves and spent the rest of the day at the pool :)

Pretty civilized really :)

Monkeying around

An absolutely lovely relaxing day of nothingness today.  

In the morning we went down to the monkey bar to take pics of the monkeys.  I love the ones w the white faces!!!  So many of them - some even Mom’s w babies.  Super cute.  I admit I was a horrible human and fed them some fruit (generously donated from an equally horrible human).  Only fruit they could acquire themselves (eg pineapple) but still...   coolest feeling for them to come down from the tree to take it.   Also really enjoyed watching the athleticism as they monkied around the trees :). Many many pictures of this once I get around to uploading them ;)

Me being bad tourist

Otherwise we pretty much spent the day at the pool, with the occasional trip to go bounce in the waves of the ocean - which is about the same temperature as said pool.  All kinds of civilized.  Also, update - a Blue Hawaiian is a piña colada w blue curaçao and rum (which I get is part of the piña colada, but that’s how they described it).

Went to the Italian restaurant for dinner tonight.  Had some really amazing lasagna :).  Not sure what made it any different than normal, but yummmm 

Chris wasn’t feeling great this eve so I left him to early bed and went to the evening show of Grease.   The same as all resort versions of Grease *g*.  Moderately amusing, but if you didn’t know the actual story you’d be so lost...   Lots of our group was there though so that was fun :)

Great relaxing day :).  And those monkeys were so much fun!

Happy Anniversary to Us :)

5 years ago today, Chris and I were married :).   

We found this in our room; I added the sunglasses :)
Today we celebrated by being seriously anti-social and keeping the day for ourselves.  We took a water taxi into Coco Beach and wandered around looking at touristy stuff.  Got Chris some coffee :). All good.  Coming home, the taxi guy told us to sit and have a beer since it would be a while -- and then I saw the boat was pulling away!   Lol he went down and waved them back; I felt bad everybody had to wait for us, but when I went to go on time we were told not to!  

Lol when we did manage to make it back, we hung out by the pool, but away from the rest of our group -- although we did visit briefly with our moms :).  Sea turtles are being cared for in a habitat on the beach and a sign went up saying they’d be released at 5:30 so went down to watch that.  Not nearly as cool as seeing them come up out of the sand of their own volition but still fun - and this time I had my camera w me ;)

Dinner was at the steakhouse where we’d had our reception.  They DID honour our reservation so I was pleased at that.  Although dinner itself was meh.  There was an angry raccoon demanding his toll.  Chris dumped a glass of water on him earning a Tucker-worthy glare.  A second glass of water convinced him to move on...

Overall a really nice anniversary:)

A moonlit beach

It was a stunningly gorgeous night for a walk on the beach.  High twenties with a slight breeze.  The full moon and cloudless sky made  a flashlight completely unnecessary.  The sand - black and too hot to walk on barefoot by daylight, was cool, soft, and white by moonlight.  Bright enough to see footprints and critter tracks, avoid the occasional stones, and admire a sand-art self portrait.  

As we got farther from the resort the sound of the crashing waves drowned anything from the resort, and the scent of campfire wafted gently.   We passed two or three campfires along the beach - locals enjoying their Saturday night.  But no noise or other lights so it only served to enhance the atmosphere.  

The foam from the crashing waves drew white lines on a dark ocean that were almost luminescent as they crashed on the beach.  Standing in them, the water was cool for the first few crashes and then lovely for the rest of the walk.  

It was the kind of night that spurs belief in magic and the fantastic.  There’s no doubt the fairies danced on the waves while the mermaids plotted murder and mayhem.  Perhaps a dragon cast an occasional shadow flying in front of the moon...  on these kinds of nights, it's entirely possible...

Water park adventures

Started the day off with a beach massage that was amazing.  Spent some time in the pool w my brothers and w Cameron (and all respective significant others) so that was kinda fun.   

This afternoon we went over to the water park -- a short walk from the hotel, it's included in the stay.   It's small, but in good condition and had zero lines so that was a ton of fun.  Have some good pics from that one, but need to get them off my camera still.

This eve we tried to go to an a la carte for dinner but despite lots of empty tables visible apparently there were no spaces :(.  A couple of the restaurants were booking an hour out and the others not at all.  Fail.   We did at least manage to convince one to let us make a reservation for our anniversary tomorrow - the same one where we had our reception for the wedding.   Really hoping that actually holds :)

Unbelievably stunning walk on the beach to finish the eve.

New friend

Snorkelling this am was really nice.  Once I reacclimatize to breathing under water it’s so quiet and peaceful and the fish of all the colours are almost hypnotic to watch.  I was definitely the last back on the boat ;).  The guides were great and pointed out some things I otherwise might not have seen.  I also had my little camera with me, but haven't pulled the pictures off yet :)

This afternoon we went ATVing.  And, well, I think I’ll stick to horses ;).   It was great to go through some backroads though and get to see some of the country.  Also splashing through the water was all kinds of fun - at least once I realized that unlike horseback riding, hanging on with your thighs here is a Very Bad Idea.  Ow.   Lol.  But omg so dusty.  So incredibly dusty.  Trying to get the gunk out of my eyes was worse than removing cheap mascara.   Part way through we stopped at the grocery store for beverages etc.  That’s the only time I’ve gotten to actually use any Spanish so far *g*

Also, after the trip I met absolutely the cutest, snuggliest puppy after...   my heart melted.

Just the cutest

ALL the relaxing

Was a lazy pool day today -- perfect after the last week.   All kinds of relaxed and civilized.   

discovered a new drink today - the Blue Hawaiian ;).  No idea what’s in it, but it’s blue, frosty, and can’t taste the alcohol.  Pretty perfect.   

So there was a catamaran excursion that I wanted to do till I saw the price -- $100USD?!?!   Uh no.   But the whole reason I wanted to go was to go snorkelling (ears are very clogged so no diving for me).   Went to the dive shop, and sure enough - snorkelling option.  Booked snorkelling for tomorrow at the much more reasonable price of $30 :).  AND it doesn't take half a day.   Lol also, I was pleased that I could follow the conversation the staff were having between themselves in Spanish trying to sort it out ;)

5 Year Reunion Tour :)

We're back in Costa Rica!!!  Win :). 17 of us travelling on this trip (parents, in-laws, brothers and their SOs, aunts and uncles, cousins, and friends :).

The flight in was uneventful.  No food included which was disappointing but otherwise all good.  We paid for an upgrade to slightly more leg room that made for a more civil flight.  Going from the airport to the hotel we had a private bus for just our group.
Got a good laugh at the name ;)
Since it's a touristy area, there's far less practice for my Spanish, but otherwise all good.

It's about 35 degrees and sunny, so that's awesome :). I feel like this should get rid of the last of my lagging cold pretty quickly.  We're at the Riu Guanacaste, which is the same resort where we got married.   It's a little more tired, but still definitely nice, and spending the afternoon by the pool was all kinds of civilized.

Off to buffet dinner...

Wednesday Wakeup

So last night I very carefully calculated what time I’d need to get up this am to go to the gym and get to work on time.  To be clear - I do this almost every day as I very much value my morning sleep.  Only thing slightly different is this wk my start times are all over the place.

Fast forward to this morning.  Really fought hard to drag myself out of bed and only won the battle because tomorrow I have to be at work too early for the gym (gym doesn’t open till 6 so if I have to be at work before about 8:15 with transit times it doesn’t work).

So I made it, did my workout.  Then had a complete panic I was late.  Raced home to the fastest shower ever (so much for my planned luxuriating) and flew out the door.  No time to pack either breakfast or lunch.  Fail.

DID catch the train I randomly decided it was critical I catch.  Half an hour before the one I needed to get to work on time.  It’s that kind of week...

Did ya miss me?

And suddenly it's 2020...

Not really sure what happened there and it's been a while since I've written so thought I'd drop in :)

So it's been about two months of 9 Round and I'm still really enjoying it, so I figure that's a good sign.  Also starting to feel better overall which is awesome :).    It was 13 deg out when I went to the gym this morning.  Had an amazing workout and after was super high so took Sasha out for a run in the rain.  Only about 1.5km but was fun and silly and good for the soul.  Except….  I’ve come to realize I’m not actually young or fit anymore and while I’m feeling super high and amazing right now, I have a feeling getting out of bed tomorrow will be a challenge.

I actually think this might be why I'm enjoying it so much...
I did a round of Core de Force the other day (for those new to the loop - amazing at home fitness plan that focuses on MMA style moves.  Very similar to 9 round except you're only punching shadows.  It is, 100%, what led me to believe I might enjoy this).   Anyways -- I didn't have quite enough time to make it to the gym and back but did have enough for a 30 min home workout.  I wore the Pulse monitor from the gym, so could see what 'zone' I was in on my phone the whole time.  Can absolutely say it's the same quality of workout from a strictly heart rate metric.   What I did find entertaining though was the subtle differences.   I feel way more badass fighting shadows.  I throw bigger, longer, punches.  Nothing is as cool as the superman punch!  lol.  I also hate wearing the gloves, so not having to is nice.  BUT, my hands felt super light without them.  That being said, punching shadows doesn't give *nearly* the same feeling of satisfaction and stress relief that hitting actual bags does.  I also suspect the resistance from said bags probably adds to the physical impact of the workout (at least for punching.  Tbh, I kick a lot more dramatically when I'm not connecting with anything.  I tend to check them when there's contact.   Whereas with the gloves I don't.).  Anyways - just amused me so thought I'd share.  I was pleased to discover the heart rate part though -- that's good to know...

I'm getting into my Spanish novel for the year -- the Never-ending Story.   Haven't seen the film since I was a kid and only have vague memories of it -- enough to know I should enjoy the book.  Not enough to really know what's going to happen.  So far I've only read the framing chapter (eg - the chapter before chapter 1 where he's running away from bullies, steals the book, and settles in to read...).  It is significantly harder than Harry Potter solely due to variety of vocabulary.  Action scenes I'm okay with -- apparently my verb vocabulary is reasonable.   The description scenes are a struggle...  It's a slow process, but I should learn something by the end of it :)   

My Spanish course finishes at the end of Jan.  Our instructor is willing to let us proceed to the next level, but I feel I'm so far behind in my conversation abilities (I passed the last exam amazingly, but we only did one of two conversation tests so the weighting was more strongly on writing which I actually do at the right level).  Most of the time I'm pulling 90s in writing and failing conversation so...  Want to focus on that for a little while and think I'll return to the world of iTalki.   Maybe pick up the B2 course in fall or spring of next year.

Off to Costa Rica in a couple weeks for our reunion trip.  5 years?!?!  Can you believe it?!?!  Yeah, me neither.   Sadly that portion of the country is so incredibly touristy I'm not convinced I'll get much Spanish practice.  But not sad for the 35deg and sunny weather lol