Our View From Here

Perspectives of Five Women

I Want to Ride My Bicycle

The bike park in front of the train station of...

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In the Pacific Northwest, March is crap shoot when it comes to weather. One day, it can be 60+ degrees and sunny, the next it’s snowing. March has long been my least favorite month of the year because it seems to just be a place holder as we wait for spring. There’s nothing going on in school that is anything but the mundane, we “Spring forward” and lose an hour of sleep, and even the official arrival of spring toward the end of the month has little to do with the change of the season. However, this March, in addition to getting itchy about my garden, I find a growing desire to pull out my bike and go for a ride.

This is a relatively new feeling for me. I bought my bike a couple of years ago but due to where I lived, never really had an opportunity to get out and ride it much. The nearest bike trail was a known danger zone in terms of assaults and even murders, and the next good trail was almost 20 miles away and a hassle to get to. So, the bike stayed in storage until my recent move. Now, I live just off a good riding trail (ironically, it the same as the first trail above, but in a much better area). I got my bike all ready and went for a five mile ride a couple of weeks ago. It was great. Biking definitely uses different muscles than running and I was a little sore the next day, but it felt good to get out there.

Now I have the urge to ride my bike to work. Several of my colleagues do this all year long. I went to a free class held my the REI Outdoor School this past week which discussed the basics of bike commuting – equipment, laws, what to expect. It was pretty useful. I’m going to a bike maintenance class soon so I can take care of basic problems when they arise. I’ve mapped out my trip – it’s only about six miles and mostly on trails. All that is left is a trial run on a weekend to time how long it will take and any problems that might come up.

Maybe I’m thinking about this because gas prices in my area are about $4.00 a gallon. I’ve looked at bus options, but there is no way to take less than three buses or to do it under 90 minutes. I may not do it every day – I do have to look somewhat professional at work and March and April rains can be drenching – but if I can even do it some of the time, then it could be a lot of fun as well as a good cross training activity.

May is Bike to Work month. Last year, my school had three teams participating in the local competition for number of miles biked in May. The Seattle area logged over 1 million commuter miles last year. Even our Mayor bikes to work. It’s nice living in such a bike friendly community with the number of bike lanes and trails expanding all the time. It’s no wonder that I want to ride my bicycle….

Or for those of you who prefer the 1980s…

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What’s with this weather?

English: Groundhog sculpture in Punxsutawney, ...

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At the end of a morning jog around Green Lake

Good ole’ Punxatawny Phil got it wrong. When the poor rodent was pulled from his hidey hole in Gobbler’s Knob last week, he said that there would be six more weeks of winter. I think Poor Phil forgot to look at the weather forecast because this has been anything but winter.

Here in Seattle, we’ve had exactly one week of winter. We had mild temperatures all the way through November and December. Finally, for one week in January we had cold and snow. It was enough to close schools for four days. Eight inches in most of the northern half of the country would be no big deal, but we had three issues: 1.) We don’t get snow often and especially not that amount all at once, so people don’t know how to handle it. 2.) It snowed, then iced, then snowed, then melted, then iced. It was ugly. 3.) We are the second hilliest city in the country (behind San Francisco) and it made for treacherous driving conditions. Some of our major downtown roads are hills that terminate at the Puget Sound! I enjoyed the time off – snuggling with my dog on the couch, drinking tea and cocoa, and getting my money’s worth out of my Netflix subscription.

But now? Not winter. It was 60 degrees here on Tuesday, and that followed a very spring like winter. I took my dog to Green Lake for a walk over the weekend and it was packed! We weaved our way around the lake, enjoying the sunshine and the sights. It was a gorgeous day and did not resemble winter in any way.

Not that I’m complaining. I work in one of the oldest schools in the city and the heat is less than reliable. I haven’t had to bundle up in my heaviest sweaters to get through the cold mornings. When running, I haven’t had to wear four layers to stay warm on the long morning runs.  Maybe it’s global warming, maybe it’s a natural fluctuation of temperatures, or maybe it’s just a a fluke. All I know is that I am ready for spring and an early one sounds great to me!

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Changing Things Up

We’re glad to be back blogging, but we don’t want to burn out again. So, we’ve decided to change things a little bit. Look for one post a week for now, coming out on Friday mornings. We want to keep this going, but were struggling to keep up with the weekly posting schedule. This way, we’ll each only be posting every five weeks. Look for Isabel’s post coming this Friday. Thanks for your continued readership!

 

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Being Resolute

First, it feels good to be writing again. While I agree we all needed a break, but I’m glad we’re back at it.

Looking over the past year, I think I did pretty well achieving what I’d set out for myself. My first goal was to move out into my own place. I had planned to do this around February or March, but due to some minor (but costly) medical tests, that was delayed until October. I moved to north Seattle, cutting my commute time to about a quarter of what it was. There’s a nice area to take Toby out to and it’s a lot more convenient to everything.

My second goal was to expand my social circle. Strictly speaking, I achieved this as well, but not as much as I had hoped. I made more friends at work and have gone out with them on occasion. I have stayed in touch with some of my friends in my grad program as well. Finally, I met some great folks in the running group I joined in August. I would have liked to have done more though. Maybe 2012 will be different.

My third goal – improve my health – was a great success. I joined Weight Watchers in January. I’d had success with WW before, so I hoped it would work well this time. Between January and June, I lost 20 lbs. More importantly, I kept it off (except for a couple pounds that jumped back on around the holidays – I blame my Italian in-laws for that one!) In March or April, I began running. This is something that I’d always wanted to do, but never had the stick-to-it-ness needed. I joined a group of colleagues in a weekly run. Over the summer, I started up with the Seattle Green Lake Running Group and found myself running on Saturday mornings. I even did two races – the 10K Dawg Dash to support University of Washington Scholarships in October and the Seattle Half Marathon just after Thanksgiving. While I didn’t do as well in the half marathon as I would like, I finished and now I’m hooked. I’ve alread signed up for a second one and am seriously considering two others in the coming year. So, I feel that 2011 was a very successful year.

Unlike my fellow bloggers, I feel that it is very important to list my goals here. This keeps me accountable. Had I not written my goals in this blog last year, I don’t know if I would have been so successful in achieving them.

I have two running goals. The first is to PR in a half-marathon this year. If I’m healthy, this shouldn’t be too hard. I hurt my knee five miles into the race and hobbled along the rest of the way. Ideally, I would like to break 2 hours, 30 minutes, but anything shorter that the 2:55 I did would make me happy. The second is to run a total of 500 miles for the year, which is an average of about 10 miles a week (taking into consideration recovery time after races.) Last year, I ran a little over 200 miles, but my training was very inconsistent and I took long breaks. I’m hoping having this goal will help me stick to my training schedule.

My household based goal is to work on purging a lot of the stuff I have and don’t need. When I moved from NYC, I took a lot of stuff that I thought I needed. Turns out, after four years in storage, I realize that I don’t need a lot of it. Also, with my Kindle, a lot of the books I have I don’t really need anymore. So the Goodwill and Half Price Books will be my friends this year as I try to pare down the stuff I have accumulated.

Finally, I want to be more social. I know this is the same as last year, but I don’t feel I did a great job at it. I’ve started branching out and moving closer to the city has helped.  I’ve made friends through running and I would like to get involved in some other activities that can only help.

Here’s hoping that 2012 will be as productive as 2011 was for me!

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2011 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 6,600 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Coming Soon!

As promised, the bloggers from “Our View From Here” will be returning in the new year! Happy New Year to you all and we’ll see you on January 2nd!2012 (film)

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Taking a Break

Give a Girl a Break

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Hello dear readers,

We at Our View From Here have enjoyed writing these posts each week for the last 14 months. However, life seems to have caught up with us recently and we are having a hard time creating meaningful blog posts every week. But don’t worry! We aren’t giving up the blog. Rather, we’ve opted to go on hiatus for a bit. This fall has been exceptionally busy with new jobs, new living situations, injuries, etc. We’ve decided to take a break and come back refreshed and with new things to say. Look for our next regular posts to occur in the new year. Thank you for following us on this journey so far and we look forward to sharing with you in January.

Yours truly,

The Our View From Here Bloggers:

Isabel

Christine

Nicki

Amanda

Samantha

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Moving Out

Tubs of evidence (Rubbermaid Roughneck 14 gall...

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The week finally came – the week I move out of my mother’s place where I was able to stay through grad school and out to my own place. I’d anticipated this happening much earlier, but due to some medical expenses, it had to wait a little longer.

I found a great condo for rent in North Seattle. My commute will be less than a third of what it currently is, especially in the evening. I will be closer to where most of my friends live and may actually be able to have a social life.

Over the weekend, I moved the majority of my stuff to my new place. My uncle, mom, and I loaded up a 14 foot U-Haul truck at my storage unit/mom’s place. We drove it the 15 miles down I-5 and two friends met us to help unload. My friends often comment on my numerous plastic tubs that I use to move. Each year, I buy a few, so I’m now up to over thirty of them. They are super easy to carry and pack and they stack together when empty. It’s pretty funny when you see them packed all together in stacks of three or four.

Using a handtruck and a  small pushcart, we managed to move everything in fairly quickly. We basically dumped and left. I spent a couple hours after work each day this week starting to set my new place up. I plan on taking Toby down on Saturday so he can get used to the place.

While I hate the actual move, there is something fun about setting up everything just the way you want it. Over the past couple of years, I slowly replaced everything I’d gotten rid of when I moved across country, so now I’m opening all of those boxes. It’s like Christmas all over again.

So, I’ll leave you with a little Billy Joel and his Movin’ Out song…

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Potato Peel Something-Or-Other

In Guernsey, 4 July 2010

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Last spring, I was sitting in a restaurant with my fellow book club members. We had just finished our discussion about a book that wasn’t that big of a hit with the group. It was May, so we started discussing which books we wanted to read for the summer months. One of the women suggested “Potato Peel Something-or-other.” We immediately pulled out our smart phones, looked it up on Amazon.com, read the description, and decided to slate it for later that summer. It eventually got delayed until October, but I read it when I still had time before school started.

My first impression of the book was that I was not going to enjoy it. I am not usually a fan of books that use the convention of letter or journal writing to tell the story. I had a really hard time with Dracula by Bram Stoker because at least the first part is all journal entries. I also had a hard time connecting to Juliet, the main letter writer and character that brings the story together, because I couldn’t relate to her. She was a professional writer who had great success writing humorous articles regarding WWII and during that war, she lost her home in the bombing. While that was interesting, it wasn’t enough to carry a story.

Fortunately, the book takes a big turn when a seemingly random man writes to Juliet when he receives a used book that has her address written inside the cover. This starts a conversation between the writer and the man who lives on a English Channel Island called Guernsey. I’ll admit that I was totally ignorant of the geography of the English Channel, but I immediately went over to Google Maps and started exploring. (If you want to see where it is, go here!) This little island had been greatly affected by WWII when the Germans occupied it for the majority of the war.

As Amanda said, the story isn’t about WWII, but it’s hard to write about this island in 1946 without the constant reminders of the strife they endured. The authors did a fantastic job creating characters using their own words.  One character – Adelaide Addison – only makes a few brief appearances in the novel, but you can totally picture this overbearing, self-righteous woman who butts into everyone’s business.

One thing I found most interesting is that one of the main characters never actually appears in the book. Elizabeth, an outgoing and personable woman, is the founder of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society because of her quick thinking and smooth talking. She touches the lives of all the islanders, yet is absent from the island prior to the novel’s beginning. I feel the author was especially skilled in developing this character through other’s view of her, especially since there were so many different views of her.

I loved this book much more than I had anticipated. By the time Juliet met the islanders, I was hooked. There are a few rumors regarding the movie for Potato Peel Something-or-Other, my favorite being that they are in talks with Kenneth Branagh to direct it. It looks like the aim is to have it out in 2013. I hope they do make this movie – I would love to see Guernsey and its fictional people come to life.

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Everything is Changing

Autumn

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There have been and continue to be many changes in my world this month. Some are good, some are not, and some are really inconsequential in the long run.

Good:

  1. I am moving. In less than a week I will pick up my keys and move into my new apartment in North Seattle. This will cut my commute by two-thirds in the morning and at least three-quarters in the afternoon. In addition, I will actually be able to fit in all my belongings again. I miss my stuff.
  2. New school year. I know I’ve talked about this before, but it’s really a different year. I celebrated me one year anniversary with Seattle Public Schools this week and it’s amazing what a better place I am in. In addition to being elected to our Building Leadership Team, I have a student teacher and my colleagues often come to me for advice, which is a new position for me.
  3. Fall! Like Amanda, I love fall and everything that goes with it. Well, except those pesky allergies to decaying leaves. At least that’s not so bad in the Evergreen State!

Bad:

  1. Stress. My job is a bit more stressful this year because I have more classes to teach. Last year I taught three different subjects. This year I have five and the additional prep time is both causing a lot more work and cutting into the time and can work on the piles of paperwork that goes along with being a special education teacher. Hopefully, this will get better once I get through October and my first three IEPs.
  2.  Weight. I’ve stopped losing weight. I’m not gaining it either, so that’s a plus. However, with my schedule right now, I’m barely getting exercise time in and my diet is a bit wonky. I’m hoping that’ll even out once the move is done.

Inconsequential:

  1. Facebook’s new layout. Yes it’s annoying. Yes it’s confusing. If you don’t like it, go to Google+ Not on Google+? Click here for your very own invite. I’m tired of my feed having nothing but complaints in it for the first week of a new layout.
  2. Netflix/Quickster. I’ve been a devout Netflix fan since 2005. I do admit that their recent change to two services – one for DVDs and one for streaming – has me questioning if I really need both. But, in the long run, not an issue of earth-shattering proportions.
  3. My birthday. I’m entering my mid-30s this weekend and it’s a little odd. But, not really a big deal.

Change, overall, is good. I get bored easily, so I know I’m glad that things change constantly. It’s just important, sometimes, to put it all in perspective.

It’s time for another Our View From Here book club. This time, we’ll be reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. Check it out next week when we discuss what we thought of the book and feel free to comment on our posts about what you thought about it!

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