Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Sunset at Frenchy's

Linae, Joe, and I met up last night with the Bruces from Chicago, who are in town for the Outback Bowl (GO COCKS! That was for you, Eric, lol.)

Sunset on Clearwater Beach

Heather, Eric, Linae, and me

To the triathletes! That's Joe on the right.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Ten Second Book Review - Last Night at the Lobster

Last Night at the Lobster by Stewart O'Nan

The Red Lobster in New Britain, Connecticut is not performing the way corporate would like, so they're pulling the plug five days before Christmas. Manager Manny, a decent guy, wants to make the Last Night a great one. Unfortunately, he's got a bunch of no-shows, a few terrible employees that *do* show up, and a blizzard is keeping the customers away. He's also got a pregnant girlfriend at home, but is in love with one of his waitresses, with whom he had an ill-fated affair.

At only 146 pages, it's a very short novel, but a very good one. I pretty much devoured it in two days. (It would've only taken me one day, but I had to go to my own dead-end job.) Who'd have thought that the minutiae of a day at a chain restaurant could make for such a good story? I liked the characters, especially the well-drawn Manny. I found myself wanting things to go right for him. It's the sign of a good book that I'm curious as to what happened to the characters after story ends.

5 stars out of 5.

Monday, December 29, 2008

My To-Be-Read Stack

Actually, I've read several of them already. I just ran out of shelf space on my other bookcase, which is 6 feet tall and crammed full. My dream is to buy a little house and turn one small room into a library. I'm talking floor-to-ceiling book shelves on all walls where it's possible, and a couple of enormous, overstuffed, comfy chairs.
(Okay, I also got a new camera for Christmas, so I'm trying it out. Thanks for playing along :-D )

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Ten Second Book Review - Enemy Women

Enemy Women by Paulette Jiles

Near the end of the Civil War in divided Missouri, the main character's father is arrested by the Missouri Militia, who then steal their possessions and try to burn their house down, sending our heroine, Adair, and her two sisters on the road to St. Louis to try to find their dad. While on the road, Adair is falsely accused of spying for the Confederacy and cutting telegraph wires, is arrested by the Union Army, and sent to a women's prison. She's drawn to the commanding officer, Major Neumann, and he to her. He's being transferred out to a fighting unit, and he helps her to escape, promising to find her after the war. It's not a sappy love story, but a nice element to a story of a young woman's fight for survival and to make it home.

Adair is feisty without being annoying, the way Scarlett O'Hara could be, and I was intrigued by Major Neumann and wanted to hear more about him, although he was really a secondary character. And there is not an antebellum mansion to be found in the entire novel! An excellent book.

5 stars out of 5.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve

A few photos from Christmas Eve :)

We, as Midwesterners, think this is funny. It's also appropriate, since it was 82F here today. It *is* cute, though :)

The annual apple pie

My first attempt at deviled eggs. I couldn't find my star decorating tip, so I filled them by squeezing the filling out of a baggie with the corner snipped off. Also, the paprika kinda got away from me a time or two ;) Not pretty, but quite tasty.

Roscoe, the only fur kid left in the Newton household

Our temporary house guest, Patrick. He lives across the street. His mom and dad went out of town for Christmas eve. He's very friendly, but quite needy ;)

My favorite gift so far. What does one get for someone who loves the Dallas Cowboys AND has a weird thing for garden gnomes?? There ya go.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Ten Second Book Review - I Love You, Beth Cooper

I Love You, Beth Cooper by Larry Doyle

Valedictorian geek shakes up his life during his valedictory speech by professing his love for head cheerleader/homecoming queen. Improbably, cheerleader and her bitchy, uber-popular friends take geek and his equally dorky, is-he-or-isn't-he-gay, movie quote-spewing, bad Spanglish-speaking friend out on graduation night. Chaos and hilarity ensue. This includes a crazy Army-assassin boyfriend, co-ed showering, a towel-snapping scene, and a grad party to end all grad parties. I had always wondered what the cool kids did in high school ;)

3.5 stars out of 5.

Currently reading Enemy Women by Paulette Jiles and friggin' LOVING it.

Ten Second Book Review - Then She Found Me

Then She Found Me by Elinor Lipman

Prim schoolteacher is contacted out of the blue by her brassy, slightly obnoxious, semi-pathologically lying birth mother. I actually like the main character, April. I can relate to someone who becomes comfortable doing their own thing (also known as "stuck in a rut") and tends to close herself off emotionally from people. However, I would have told the birth mother, Bernice, to hit the bricks about halfway through the book. And then moved and changed my name :-P

4 stars out of 5

Sunday, December 14, 2008

RR: Gulf Beaches Holiday Halfathon

Nice race that runs through some of our little beach towns, starting in Madeira Beach and running through Redington Beach, up the Pinellas Trail, and ending with a loop around, and then into, Taylor Park, which I'm pretty sure is in Largo. About 1200 people showed up, and the weather was perfect for running--cool, overcast, and not too breezy.

2:22:12, which is way better than my last PR (2:30:59) last month, and *significantly* better than this same course last year (2:57:05)

This one was for Lili the Great Dane, whose cancer had caused her to deteriorate rapidly over the past week and we had to have her put down last night. She was a very good dog.

And I ran like I stole it :)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Holy Tacky Lawn Ornaments, Batman!

Our new neighbor's front lawn (well, part of it, anyway):

The "band" plays actual music, which just adds to the experience ;)

Santa is new. It seems like there is something new and exciting every time I come home from work. I was very excited when The Grinch showed up.

Our house. Mom refused to buy any 8' lawn ornaments. Killjoy :(

Our house, only darker
Which reminds me--I need to make time for my lights run soon :)

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Official 70.3 Pre-Training Kickoff

Since I hadn't been on my bike since the Suncoast tri (like, six weeks ago,) Linae decided that I needed to ride today, so I met her about 12 miles up the road in New Port Nowhere and we rode part of the Suncoast Trail and through Starkey Park. We saw two deer (I don't think it was the same one twice) and the biggest effin' grasshopper I've ever seen in my life. We have some weird @ss bugs here. I ran through a mini-swarm of lovebugs the other day. I knew they were lovebugs because they were "hooked up," the gross little fornicating ba$tards.

Anyway, I slowed the injured fast girl waaaaay down (y'know, so she wouldn't aggravate her hip further. Riiiiight...) I have a LOT of work to do. 18.5 miles, which is as far as I've ever gone on two wheels. About a mile before we hit the parking lot, Linae turns to me and says, "By the time we finish today, you'll be 1/3 of the way there!" (For my non-tri friends, the bike portion of this race is 56 miles.) My reaction: Holy sh!t. My butt hurts NOW. And I'm slow. She assured me I'd get faster if I actually RODE THE BIKE once in a while. Hmmm. I suppose it's worth a shot....

And so begins 70.3 training.

Thanks, Dr. Pusher! :)

PORN - 12 miles in the morning

Failed Spectacularly

Guess yesterday just wasn't my day. Oh well. There's Tuesday. And Thursday. And Friday. And the same next week. I'm bound to hit two of them :-D

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Testing, Testing

After missing one test by five words (FIVE WORDS! AARGH!!!) two weeks ago and then completely train-wrecking one the next day, I am testing again tomorrow. And I will pass. If I do not, I will post my Goodbye-Cruel-World missive here tomorrow afternoon ;)

All positive vibes/crossed fingers/whatever it is you do for good luck will be greatly appreciated!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Drank the Koolaid

Participant: Shawn Newton
Event: Beach2Battleship Half 2009
Date: Saturday November 7, 2009
Invoice: R-I-88785-50506

Yep, I signed up for a half-iron distance triathlon. For those not in the know, that's a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run. Yes, all in the same day.

Funny. About a year ago, I was telling my friends there was no way in hell they'd ever get me to do a tri. Guess I showed them ;)

By the way, my pushers, Nancy and Linae , are both doing the full (2.4/112/26.2)

Let the training begin!!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Not the Right Girl

He seems to be interested in a polished, big-city type of girl. I'm basically a Southern girl with a Northern accent, infinitely more comfortable in small towns.

He seems to want champagne, caviar, and the opera. I'm beer and brats and country music. Football and hockey. Though I'm not opposed to the opera.

He seems to want a girl who is thoroughly put together: Perfect hair and makeup, dressed well all the time. I pretty much live in beat-up jeans, shorts and flip flops. Low-maintenance hair, little makeup. I run, therefore I sweat. It's not really attractive. Salt forms on my face, arms, and legs. NOT put-together by any stretch.

He seems to want someone who is "on" all the time. Sometimes I just want to BE. I don't have a zillion fascinating stories to tell you and your friends. A lot of war stories from my marriage, sure. But who wants to hear those? Running or race stories? Probably would bore people to death. Court reporting, books, dysfunctional families. These are the things I know best.

In the entire time I've known him, though he's flirted with me relentlessly, he hasn't really asked me any questions about myself, and so really knows very little about me. It's a shame; he's missing out.

I can only surmise that he's not really interested, and he's merely a flirt. Which is fine. Absolutely nothing wrong with that. I'm not the right girl anyway. So when I see him from now on, I'll smile at his flirty little comments, and know in the back of my mind that there's someone pretty cool out there somewhere looking for beer and brats and hockey.

Probably in Nashville or Charlotte :)