Saturday, April 30, 2011

Welcome To Loo-a-vul Y'all!

Welcome to Lousiville! Ever the polite southerners, they welcome us with class and style as we walked down to the Fourth Street Ward for lunch today.

I got in from OH on Wednesday evening, was downtown Chicago on Thursday working at a facility there, and then I took off again on Friday afternoon for this wonderful conference I'm attending. I'll be here for 5 days/nights. Got in on Friday and I'll be leaving later on Wednesday.

Its a little disappointing as I thought I would come and have a little fun over the weekend maybe shopping around and doing some other things, however, I've discovered that there's really not much going on in ...........................................
Turns out - there's nothing downtown Louisville! I couldn't get into the Marriott hotel where the conference was being held, so I booked myself down about 4 blocks from the hotel at the Residence Inn. So, Friday night, I got in around 6:30ish and decided that I was going to stroll down to the Marriott to make sure I knew where I was going and maybe do some window shopping. Instead of strolling, I ended up with quite the brisk pace as buildings were boarded up, homeless people were lying in the gutter (literally) and about 4 men called out to me with "hey baby", "hi'ya sunshine" and other such terms of cat-calling. Hmmm - this was all at 7pm in broad daylight!

Today our meetings started and I actually bumped into a few friends so we headed the opposite way of my hotel for lunch and we ran into the Fourth Street which is actually packed full of restaurants of all kinds. It was not a bad area, but it was definitely a littel pocket in a big city.

Then, after my meetings at 4, I had been wanting to go and buy a few new outfits so I thought that I'd head over to a mall, hoping there would be a Banana Republic or J. Crew... When I asked after shopping, the concierge brightly said "Oh! You're in luck! There's an art fair going on!" And then I explained that I wanted to do some clothes shopping and her face fell a little, but then she grabbed a map and started giving me directions -- to the Thrift Store. I said "no Thrift Store" and she said, "the Hilton next door has some cute sweater sets in their gift shop!". NO! Turns out, as the concierge put it, Louisville really doesn't have a lot of shopping downtown. THATS JUST SAD! It leads me to believe that their banners strung up along the city's lamposts really do have a point!

" Welcome to POSSIBILITY City" -- they need to add -- "its possibility because we got us some work to do!"

FYI -- its the Kentucky Derby this week. Last night when I got in, there were tons of people pouring out of hotels with ball gowns on because it was the Derby Gala. Tonight, its the opening of Churchill Downs - they say there are about 45,000 people there tonight. This morning, the city was all chopped up with barriers as they had the infamous Derby Mini Marathon. I was disappointed I didn't realize this as I probably would have run it since it was just a mini. It would have given me something to do while I'm stuck here in the Possibility City.....
In case you want to check it out - here's the Churchill Downs link

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Can You Believe This Is All In Ohio?!

Today was a little screwed up again as my customer service had to overnight some product to me at the hospital - but it was actually quicker for me to drive the hour from Canton to Cleveland and pick the product up myself. So - I didn't actully get scrubs on and back into processing until about 11 ish and then I spent a few hours doing hook ups and in-servicing for the product. As it is - they shipped the product wrong - I was supposed to get ONE CASE, which would be two units. However, instead, they shipped ONE UNIT. So - I have to drive back to Cleveland tomorrow to pick the second container up which they're shipping today. At least, once I get the second product back and finish up with everything, I get to head back to Cleveland to catch a flight home! Yea!

I took a quick hour to stop by some other infamous Canton landmarks later in the afternoon.

My first stop was the First Ladies National Museum. Part of the museum is in the Saxton House which was President McKinley's wife's, Ida, family home. McKinley was from Canton but this house is the only remaining house that has links to McKinley. There is also an old bank next door that contains a big library and another exhibit for the first ladies. Both of these building had both been redone and were absolutely beautiful buildings.

This is the staircase in the Saxton-McKinley house. It was just gorgeous and was very well done.
The other famous location I stopped by, but didn't tour (I didn't really tour the First Ladies Museum either, but I walked through part of it) was the Pro Footbal Hall of Fame. I bypassed the ticket booth where adult tickets were going for $38!!!! I probably wouldn't have even paid $2 to tour the place, but I did beeline for the gift shop! :)

And now you've had a mini tour of the famous spots in Canton, OH. I tried to snap a few shots of the local Amish, but they were speeding by so quicly in their little buggies that all you could see were flashes of white and black as their caps whizzed by. They have one of the world's largest Amish colonies in this area.

Oh - here's a little tidbit to add on from yesterday's blog. So, I found out that the name Cuyahoga (which is what the river is here that feeds into the Ohio) is from an Indian word (surprise!) Kaihoghha which actually means "crooked". If you looked at an aerial view of the Cuyahoga River, its distance "as the crow flies" is about 30 miles in length, but because of all the snaking and twisting, it actually runs for 90 miles. Crazy! It really is a beautiful area with cliffs and waterfalls and all kinds of nature. Can't wait to get back to run more of the Canal trail!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Cold, Wet - But Happy!

Up at 3:30 a.m., out the door at 4:15 a.m., parking at 5:10 a.m., in security line at 5:20 a.m., on plane at 5:40 a.m., airplane door shut at 6 a.m. - sitting on the runway at 6:30 a.m.....

And so begins my week back on the road. I was spoiled to have two weeks as a normal person back in my own bed, with my dog, in my car for 14 whole days -- and now I must pay.

It didn't turn out all bad, though. I finally got into the Cleveland airport (where their airport code of CLE is paraodied in all the bathrooms with a sign above the sink that reads "Help us put the CLE back in CLEan" -- LAME? Vote here....) It didn't take me long to get my feet on the ground, my suitcase in my hand and my rental car seat - well - under my seat. And so I was on my way to Canton, OH for a 3 day product trial.

If you recall from a few weeks back, I blogged about being in Angry Akron, OH with the heavily obesse, irritanted Ohioians. Whats very amusing to me is that I discovered, today, that even though Akron is a mere 10 miles from Canton, the people of Canton are completely different. The Cantonites are amazingly delightful people who say HI at every corner, laugh at your lame jokes and skip down the hall to the OR rooms (okay, maybe not quite skip, but they definitely had a happy little jaunt for being a Monday morning).

As my product hadn't all arrived, we spent the morning/afternoon trying to track things down and arrange for a morning set up and then I got to take off! Yea!

Here's a little something for all you iPod users out there. You HAVE to download the Yelp! app. Its phenominal and its tells you everything! I've gotten so addicted as I can look up restaurants, stores - everything on Yelp! All you do is put in what you're looking for and where you're looking for it and this list pops up. And whats even better is that subscribers of Yelp! can then add their comments to whatever so you can go through and find out if the restaurant is good or if the park is worth stopping at or an auto repair shop is reliable. And, in the case of today - I found the most amazing running trail ever ever ever!

Jenny Andersen - I have to tell you that I love your homeland of Cuyhoga Falls! I had Yelped the Cuyhoga Valley National Park and had been drooling since last Thursday to strap on my trail shoes and hit the gravel path in the CVNP.

It had been raining all morning, but I had this urge in me to get outside, even if it was pouring. And my wish came true. It was a little drizzly when I first got to the Park parking lot, I took off running and not long after it really started coming down. The longer I ran the harder it came down until, at the end of the run, I was entirely drenched to the point that I could barely even see. It was awesome! I would have definitely stayed on the trail longer if it hadn't been raining, but I got a good hour and some minutes in - not quite sure how far I went as the trail wasn't exactly marked and I was so sopped that I didn't want to stand looking at the map to figure out distance. I could have gone on forever though - and I think the trail actually last forever. It was just a gorgeous trail and it was continually different so that it was just an awesome intriguing run.

Here's the scoop - There's the Erie canal in NY and then they built the Ohio-Erie Canal in OH to connect Lake Erie and the Ohio River via the Cuyhoga River. Here's a little link to dear old Wikipedia with more info.

I was thinking as I ran, that I should write a book about sad American stories. There are so many places around the U.S. that were cities that had families and houses and business and churches and they were there one day and then, you blink, and they were gone just because times changed and people thought of bigger and better things.

So is the case with the Canal system in the U.S. They used to transport things via the canal systems, and then the train system came along and it took over and bypassed the boats and soon, all the towns that had been built up because of the canals were extinct.

I know that the Sparta bike trail up in WI is a trail system built on an old train line - its a rails to trails system that dots the country. Its great that they make use of these old lines, but its sad that a whole culture of the U.S. has to disappeared.

So the Cuyohoga Valley trail runs alongside the old canal and also by the railroad track (took over the canal system, but still in use). Here are some picts of my rainy run on the Cuyhoga....

Here is one of the sad stories referred to - that town of Botzum that disappeared. They now have a little train stop there thats a "tribute" to Botzum but is also an actual train stop.

I was thoroughly soak and a little cold, but its always the best feeling ever to be all wet and muddy after a great run outdoors!

And back "home" to North Canton - the home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Book Review #4 - As Far As My Feet Will Carry Me

I just finished reading another book. I had gone on-line to find a picture of the Norwegian guy who escaped occupied Norway and I came upon this book and thought it sounded interesting. I was actually just googling the book to find a picture and discovered that this has also been made into a movie as of 2001 -- I believe its a German movie or some foreign film so I'm presuming subtitled.

An awesome book because its an awesome story. Absolutely unbelievable! It was a little quircky to read, though, as there were no chapters. It was just one long story and then in between events, they would have a few astericks under the paragraph and then just start another event. It was hard to find a good stopping place as you didn't have that "I'll just put it down once I finish this chapter" thing going on. I made it through all the same.

The story follows a German prisoner of war who was taken into captivity by the Soviets. He was taken from his home in Munish into Siberia to almost the very opposite edge. Just the journey to get there originally was amazing. They ended up bringing tons of the prisoners to work in lead mines and from there he escaped. The story does follow him as he served time for several years in the mines before he actually decided to escape.

It took him 3 years to get across Siberia and then he entered in Tukey and asked for assylum and they ended up shipping him back home to Germany.

Seriously - a nail biting story that will definitely keep you reading!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Snow And Calvin's Determination

The other morning we woke up to this glorious blanket of white covering the ground -- that was tongue in cheek -- it was a horrific morning in April! I mean, seriously - it was 80 the week before, and now we've got snow again. Come on! The good news is that it was pretty much all melted by the late afternoon and we could see the green grass again.

Calvin was out of his flea and tick medicine (and its that time again) and I've also been giving him this medicine/vitamins for joints. Its like glucosimine or something like that but in higher doses. I figure I'm not sure whats going on with grumpy when he doesn't like his legs to be touched. Don't know if he's just being a poop (as they can't seem to find anything - all his x-rays and such look fine) or if he legitimately has some kind of pain. So, the doctor suggested these treat things. They smell like they'd be a great treat, but whenever its time for Cal to take them, he acts like we're feeding him the grossest thing on earth and he'll sniff them and then walk away.

I guess its forbidden fruit which is very tempting. When I bought a new tub today, I put them on the floor board and immediately Cal was sniffing at them. Here he is eyeing them - mind you, he had been told no.... doesn't listen that well. I think he knows that he's cute and so I end up letting him get away with his funny little antics....

He's now going in for the "kill".

He's got the tub, but now he's got to get the top off....

Of course, he's Calvin the wonder dog, so he succeeds in removing the lid...
Now to remove the bag that holds the "treats"....
Now to enjoy....
This is what happens when I'm home for two weeks in a row. I become the doting dog person and you get story after story of how funny and adorable my dog is. The good news is that I', back on the road again next week and its full force! I'm back in Akron - home of the fat butted, mean people (see postings from a few weeks ago:)) and then the end of the week I have to go over to Louisville until the following Wednesday for a healthcare meeting, IAHCSMM (International Association of Healthcare Central Service and Material Management). Apparently its derby week the week we're in Lousiville so I'm sure you'll get some exciting posts at some point! :)

Friday, April 15, 2011

I Gagged On A Moldy Crumpet

Yes, indeed, I just gagged on a moldy crumpet this morning. But - here's the plus side... The only reason a crumpet would get moldy is because it was sitting around. A restaurant would not allow a crumpet to sit aroung so long that it got modly - thats something that would only happen at home. Ergo - the moldy crumpet was mine and it was indeed at home which I then took in the car with me downtown and gagged along the way.

So the good news is - is that I was HOME! Yes, I've been home ALL WEEK! In fact, its been a little tedious and dreary being in the office. Although, I've actually felt a little human as I've developed this routine with work, dog, work out, home. I could do it for another week and its seems as if I will be as my trip for next week was cancelled.

I meant to post this earlier, but I have to say what a extraordinarily beautiful weekend it was this past weekend. Warm and sunny and altogether perfect. Heres a few picts from the sunny weekend.... We had a fantastic sermon last Sunday from I Cor regarding Love (its part of a series Pr is preaching through). It was phenominal - about what love looks like. I had to post this as I had taken these picts right prior to the service with some of my Sunday School kids.... TOO ADORABLE! And then I went out to lunch with some friends and two of the kids who joined were just so adorable I had to snap a shot -- it looks like they're on a little date or something :) And then I got home and saw all the little spring flowers in bloom and took the dogs out to the dog park and strolled around, even sweating a little bit..... It was hot enough that I got Calvin's little pool out so they could cool off. And cool off they did.... And once they cool off, they get a little crazy so the afternoon was spent watching them dunk off, get out, stare each other down and then chase each other crazy through the yard and wind up back at the pool to cool off again. Crazy dogs!

And so today is Friday and I'm looking forward to the weekend. It will be a little busy as I've got friends here and I have to make a trek out to Northbrook to deliver a bunch of backpacks and other goodies from a church collection we did for this orphanage in Romania that we have missionaries with. There are these Romanian people that basically have a big shipping container that they ship, via boat, to Romania every few months and they have super low prices to ship there. I think they do it primarily for people who have moved here from Romania and still have family back there. It takes a while for them to get it, but I can ship a couple hundred pounds for about $100 or so - can't beat that! Over and out - enjoy your weekend if I don't post again!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Book Review #3

This is book number three of the "new year".

A Tuscan Childhood.

I was attracted to the "Tuscan" line and so I eagerly grabbed it seeing pictures of all the fun, Italian books I've read before.
Disappointment was in store. I found it to be a little tedious reading about this woman's "priviledged" and artsy, interwar British upbringing in a small town outside of Florence.

The beginning I supposed was all right but then it went on too long and the ending was just plain old boring so I ended up speeding through it without much retention.

My overal review - don't bother reading it. The cover makes it look tantalizing, but the words inside just leave you hungry...

Stopping By The Paper Mill On A Snowy Eve

This is a shot of the paper mills in Grand Rapids - its the Blandin Paper Mill. Its this huge mill and the yard goes on for miles. Its all these stacks of wood waiting to be turned into paper. If you look in the front there are these poles that you might think are like yard lights, but they're actually this watering system where they wet the wood. This is my friend's house. She has this center courtyard at the house and the snow was actually equal with the roof, but its melted some so now its mid way up... Not so bad :)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

In The Great Still White North

This morning I started off around 7:30 a.m. for a nice 5 hour drive up to the Cities in MN and two meetings that I had - one in St Paul and one in Minneapolis. It was a beautiful day for Minnesota! It was 57 and the sun was out and the beams glinted off the big piles of dirty snow that were still heaped in the corners of parking lots.

I got in about 1 and finished up about 4 and headed up towards Grand Rapids. I'm actually taking two days off to help a friend move from the great white north. I passed Lac LaBelle which is this huge lake between the cities and Grand Rapids. It goes on for miles and miles and was still completely covered with a thick top of ice. All around the sides of the lake were huge snow banks. It was so odd as it was so warm out and the sun was so bright.

As it was Wednesday evening, by the time I got up to Grand Rapids, Melissa had already left for Awana and for Bible study so I had some time to kill, which was quite fine with me. I stopped at the nearby McDonalds and changed into my running gear and then parked at Mel's house and started running. I started running around 7 or so and Melissa and the kids didn't get back until 8:15. I have no clue how far I actually ran, but I ran the whole. It was the most perfect running weather ever! Loved it! I ran all over downtown GR, a couple of times over as the downtown isn't that big. I ran around the school that was once Judy Garland's school. Ran over the bridge the spans the Mississippi. Ran down to the Fleet Farm. I ran I ran... Grand Rapids is not the most stylish area. People are hunters and fishers and work at the paper mill and wear jeans all the time and drive older cars - but they're nice people. As I was out running, there was a guy who passed me with this long greasy hair and a camo jacket on, but the sad part was that he was pushing himself down the middle of the street in a wheelchair and he had no legs. He was nodding and waving at me and I gasped back and nodded and waved, but I felt so horrible. Here I am running and this guy doesn't even have legs. I thanked God for about 5 minutes for the blessing of being able to run with two good legs.

And now - two vacation days full of - packing.... Is that really vacation???

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Beouf and Behns

Yesterday, Monday, mom came home after about 2 months down in South Carolina helping Aunt June through chemo and the other hardships of bladder cancer.

Wednesday through Sunday of last week, I had inspired myself to do a liquid fast (juices, protein drinks, etc) due to the fact that I've been having some issues with feeling bloated and just a bunch of other nasty things (is this "old" age???). I really felt the need to "purge" it all out. The good news is, I think I did and I really wasn't hungry or anything else - in fact, I felt pretty inspired and great. My running improved almost 100%, I think my work improved 100% and I had 100% improved life view as well. I found that only one time I felt really hungry and I managed through it quite fine.

But, the one side effect was that by Sunday, I was starting to just feel the need to eat, not for eating sake, but just for wonderful food sake. There's so much yummy stuff out there and I missed it all! So - I had decided to do a welcome back mom, happy belated birthday dinner for her and have the fam over. What was on the menu, well - just about every delicious thing that has inspired my stomach over the past year. Ok, at least three of those things.

Menu -
*Julia's Beouf Bourgonnaise
*Rosemary Blue Potatos
*Steamed Green Beans (some of the floppy and wet for Pat's pleasure as thats the way she prefers them :))
*Bannana Cake

So - I just had to share the delicious adventure of a once cow becoming the most delightful French stew ever....

Parents, content may be inappropriate for children under 12 so please proceed with caution.....

We start with the graphic disassmbled cow, laying next to it, the pieces of pig which were then both sauteed up nicely in a the bacon fat until all sides had a wonderful golden brown to them.... Notice my obedient puppy sitting nicely in the background just longingly looking at all that meat. After about 10 steps, the culmination of beef, bacon and onions makes its way into a casserole dish along with the famous Julia appertif of red wine and settles in for a long bubble in a highly heated oven. Next, while the casserole is setttled in for a long, glorifying melding of flavors, the topping is prepared. Small pearl onions are skinned and then set to sautee in butter and olive oil, carefully avoiding breaking their skin. Once again, the red wine is poured into their little bed and on top is placed a little cheesecloth pouch of fresh parsley, bay leaves and thyme. A cover is then placed over this and this little dish is set on a low simmer for about 50 mintues. Once all of the wine is absorbed into the onions, they turn out to these lovely little delights. The other topping is the mushrooms which are sauteed in butter and olive oil as well - the trick of the sauteed onions is to sautee them until they're tender - but without allowing them to "weep" or start to give off a lot of juice. They turned out perfectly this time. Once the stew is done slowly simmering and the onions and mushrooms are done, the gravy is removed from the stew, skimmed of fat and then everything is placed back into a casserole dish and covered with the gravy. The wonderful thing about this dish is that is can be completely prepared the day before and then heated up the next day with the extra benefit that all the flavors have come together even more wonderfully than the day they were made! It turned out HEAVENLY! I was very pleased with it this time - I think every time I make this dish, it just gets better. Here all the family is gathered together. Uncle Raine made her awesome salad with the apple cider vinegar and bacon and all. We celebrated mom's birthday with my newest recipe - its a homemade bannana cake that is super easy but amazing! There were even those who had two pieces - I think the cream cheese frosting makes the cake! Since we didn't have any birthday candles for the cake - mom just got one big candle on the side. It worked. As Julia says -- "Bon appetite!"