Happy. Healthy. Heathen.

Traveling, training, thinking, talking, typing


April 2010

Book review Sunday (and other things)

What a difference between two mornings!

Yesterday morning was as dark, rainy, windy, omninous, and tornado-threatening as this morning is bright, clear, sunny, and peaceful!  Woo hoo to all the runners who braved the weather to compete in the Country Music Full and Half – this one will be memorable!

Today’s post is to be a book review post, but I must first update the 50 New Things project.  I have loved hearing all of your responses, and of course, I left a couple out on the last post.

Daughter Amy in Humboldt County suggested climbing a redwood, which is an absolute.

BF Becky in Clarksville (from upstate NY) suggested hiking the Adirondacks in the fall, which I’m going to do with her, whether it’s this fall and an official part of this undertaking, or some other fall when she can make a trip home!

Buddy Ted from my Nashville Secular group had three spectacular ideas:  learn to fight with a sword (on the list), drive a race car (ON THE LIST), and hike the AT (not on the list – 6 months is too long for this project!).

Precious Shannon, the mother of my precious grandchild Aden had two suggestions:  Take a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class with her (done).  Her other suggestion goes under the Streaking Through Publix line:  Visit a jail for a few hours.  That suggestion may accidently go under several of the other lines.

I guess I’ll begin issuing this disclaimer now:  To any of my young readers contemplating a version of this for your 18th or 21st birthdays:  DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME.  There is a difference in spending a little time in the back of a patrol car when you are 18 or 21 and when you are 50!  (Which can’t go on the list, because it has to be for the FIRST TIME…whatever, I was 20, stupid, a little drunk, and a lot over-confident.  Story for another time.)

Now on to the next topic:  Boobquake.

In my blog-reading recently, I came across Jen McCreight’s blog (  I have never read her before; she’s a self-described feminist-atheist-activist, and this particular post has taken on the proverbial Life Of Its Own, receiving comments from Richard Dawkins AND Christopher Hitchens (supposedly), becoming a Facebook Fan Page, and being linked to Pharyngula, one of the most popular blogs of all time.  In response to a radical cleric’s declaration that provocatively-dressed women and the resultant promiscuity lead to earthquakes, Jen has offered up her ample cleavage in a mass experiment to occur Monday, April 26.  Thousand have joined in with her to harness the power of the boob, in a light-hearted effort to make the point that perhaps earthquakes are caused by more natural forces than a malevolent supernatural avenging god.  I will lend my own effort to the cause, albeit it limited in size and scope; we small-breasted women unite in saying:  “It’s not the size!! It’s not the size!!”  (And yes, we have discussed the impact of an actual earthquake occurring the day of our little experiment, and we have a response for that:  Behold the Power of the Boob – think of the implications…what ELSE could our body parts do??)

Now, finally, to the book review…

I have just simultaneously finished reading two books.  They are The Vegetarian Myth by Lierre Keith, and Godless by Dan Barker.  I was reading the first when I discovered I had the opportunity to hear Dan Barker speak and quickly had his book beamed into the Kindle to read before his lecture.

Dan Barker was an evangelical preacher in California as a young man.  He made multiple mission trips to Mexico throughout high school, college at Azusa Pacific, and his young adulthood.  He described himself as a fundamentalist, and was also a gifted musician.  He wrote several children’s holiday musicals that are still being performed today (Mary Had A Little Lamb, for Christmas, and His Fleece Was White As Snow, for Easter).  His story is of his conversion (de-conversion) from fundamentalist evangelist to atheist.  He is now co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation ( – well worth a visit), and is an international speaker and debater.  In person he was charming, funny, and articulate (he spoke at the Belcourt in Nashville last Monday night).  Because of his personal history, he speaks and writes gently and with compassion about believers who hold the same aggressive conviction he once did.  His book and website address the impact of fundamental religion on our country, our children, and our position in the international community.  His book is a terribly interesting read, and not only does his share his journey, but he throws in the basic philosophical and theological reasons most former theists leave their faith.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book, for believers and former believers alike.  Former believers will appreciate his insight and humor in his discovery process, and believers will appreciate understanding why he and others leave the faith they once held so very dear.  This book is well-written, personal, funny, and important.  It is available in Kindle version, and I’ve seen it in B & N, Borders, Books-A-Million, and of course Amazon.

The second book is The Vegetarian Myth, by Lierre Keith.  Don’t let the title throw you.  You do not have to have any connection whatsoever to vegetarianism to read this book.  If I had the leverage, I would make everyone on the planet read this book; as it is, I’m going to bribe/threaten/cajole my family and posse to read this book.  One review I read said that everyone should read it, and everyone who eats should memorize it; I agree.  I consider it one of the most important books related to personal and planet health that has EVER been written.

My disclaimer is completely up front:  Ms. Keith is a radical, lesbian feminist.  Get over it.  If our criteria for reading any book was that we should agree with every belief the author holds, we wouldn’t have read much of anything, would we?  Read this book ESPECIALLY if you are troubled by her views!  I have joked that if I could have any superpower, it would be to force people to read books (I know, right?).

Another review of this book says this: “In any course about writing, you are instructed to figuratively cut open a vein and bleed on the paper – this book comes as close to doing that as any I have ever read.”  Ms. Keith was a vegetarian/vegan for 20 years, for moral, nutritional, and political reasons.  Her compassion for animals is palpable on every page, and her intentions were as pure and altruistic as any vegan I’ve ever known.  There is a vegetarian I love who is one of the 4 most important people in my life, and I am willing to admit that I read this book with my arms wrapped around that precious soul.

Ms. Keith addresses the science, history, intent, implications, and results of vegetarianism.  The book is brimming over with new information about our food supply and its process.  She brings to light the ugliness that is our commercial meat industry, the despicable way we are treating our food animals, and the reflection that shines on our society.  She writes a chapter on soil (soil!) that is so loving and descriptive I read it three times.  I have ordered and sent this book to my Forestry-and-Conservation-soon-to-be-graduate-of-UT son in New Zealand.  I’ve ordered and had it sent to my hippie son in Colorado, my California Redwoods daughter, and will soon send it to my precious vegetarian, free-spirit, compassionate, smart, beautiful daughter in France.

I’m so torn about wanting to tell you everything in the book, and allowing Ms. Keith to do it in her much more passionate and articulate way.  Let me just say that I dare you to read it.  I beg you to read it.  I’ll bribe you to read it.  I’d force you to read it if I had any dirt on you.  And when you do read it, I’ll be waiting for your phone call or text about meeting at Starbucks to discuss it.

The daughter I have referred to several times in this post has as one of her life mottos:

Comfort the disturbed.  Disturb the comfortable.

I love that expression, and it is never more applicable than to this book.  Read it.  Please.

One tiny reference to training – going well, going strong, feeling great, loving the running/biking, hating the swimming (wetsuit in a pool – yuk).

Thanks for reading!  (THE superpower!)

50 new things update

Delighted in the response to the 50 New Things idea, but having puppies has slowed me down!

My precious Uga gave birth to 9 precious babies on Friday!  We have sadly since lost one little baby, but the remaining 8 are thriving and healthy!  They are consuming to take care of, because they INSIST on me constantly looking at them, holding them, cuddling them – all I do is work work work!

Anyway, here is a partial list of responses, and remember, this isn’t final yet – I have til May 18 to publish the real list!

Streak through Publix

Do a Bob Ross painting

Drink a lime gimlet with a British guy


Color my hair pink or blue, maybe for a race

Go to the Superbowl

Scuba Dive Cayman or Bahamas

Write a song

Hike a 14er in Colorado

Write a children’s book

Be in a live audience for a TV show

Eat famous crumb cake at Carlos’ Bakery in NYC

Horseback riding on the beach

Go parasailing

Go bungy-jumping

Big-ass rubber band flingy thing

Run 50 miles (ummm…no)

Attend Loy Krathong, the sky lantern festival in Thailand

Hike the Great Wall of China

Swim in the largest swimming pool in the world, in Chile

Watch turtles hatch and make for the ocean

Sky Diving

Learn to play pinochle, mah jongg, canasta, gin

Eat gefilte fish with horseradish

Dress like a man and go with a man to a straight bar and a gay bar

Have a colonoscopy

Get a tattoo

Go to South Beach, Miami

Attend as many religious ceremonies as possible, including lighting candles in Jerusalem

Take ballroom dance lessons

Meet the President

Do nothing for one day – no TV, no phone, no work, no workouts

Go on a safari

Visit all the continents

Panhandle on a corner for a day

Ride the TransCanandian Railway

Drink Paddle of Destiny at Mellow Mushroom with certain girlfriend

Renew marriage vows

Finish an Ironman

That’s 39 by my count, but I can already rule out the 50 mile run, Victoria!  If I’ve missed any, comment again and I’ll add it.  You can probably mostly guess who submitted what, but I’ll add that when I have the list complete.  Haven’t heard yet from a certain British couple, a certain New Zealand son, a certain California daughter, certain Nashville cousins, among others, on their suggestions.  These were fabulous ideas, and I can’t wait to get started on them!

Training continues and the spring weather, even with its pollen, is still delightful!  Country Music Marathon and Half-Marathon is Saturday – in the expected rain.  Puppies are darling, getting fatter by the day – promise to post more pics on the next blog!

Pile o’ puppies

Thanks for reading, and thanks for suggesting!


This post will not be directly related to training.

It won’t be directly related to travelling, food, nutrition, children, work, play.

It will be indirectly related to all of those things.

I’m already behind, I know.  Sometimes great ideas occur in a timely manner, and sometimes they don’t.  This one was a little slow on the uptick, but I think I can make it work.  Ready?  Open your mind…

This year is my 50th birthday year.  The Ironman was a big part of my celebrating that milestone day; a family cruise in December is another I have planned.  Today during my 75-minute run, it occured to me that I should have been celebrating this entire year.  I am so humbly grateful to be reaching 50 years old.  I’m so grateful to be healthy and loved, and to love.  Every morning when I open my eyes, I think:  “I get to be here one more day!”  In the spirit of celebrating that joy and gratitude, I intend to do 50 new things this year as I turn 50.  One of my life mottos is “When is the last time you did something for the first time?”

Here are the parameters:

50 New Things to Do the Year I Turn 50

A.  It has to be something I haven’t done before.

B.  If you suggest it, and it goes on my list, count on me asking you to do it with me.  Count on doing it with me.

C.  Because I have gotten started late, my goal is to finish the list by Dec. 31, 2010, but I can push all the way into May 18, 2011, the beginning of the 365 days of celebration (my actual birthday is November 18, squarely in the middle of the 365 days)

D.  I will blog about each event.

E.  The events can run the spectrum; so far I’ve already got fire-hooping (guess who’s doing that with me?), eating ostrich meat, skydiving, hiking Mt. LeConte (I know, how did I miss that?), attempting an Ironman (check), completing an Ironman, watching Dr. Zhivago (missed that too).

I’ll try to post all the ideas I’ll get from friends and family, then assemble the list of 50.  May 18 is the start date, but I can count any of them that I’ve already done since Jan 1 of this year.

So, watcha got????  Remember, Dora, suggesting streaking through Publix, while a cute dare, will mean you doing it with me if it goes on the list, and lots of ruthless, relentless calling-out if you refuse, so consider your suggestion wisely.

In the spirit of gratitude to be on this big blue marble, as I reach 50 I am profoundly grateful for every one of my friends and family, more grateful than I can begin to express.  In evolutionary terms, my purpose on earth has been served, since I have reproduced myself and given my genes the opportunity to live on.  Those terms just serve to make me that much more awed at this bonus time I get.  I know how very lucky I am, and it is in that spirit that I ask for your help with my birthday celebration!

Thanks for reading, and this time, thanks too for writing!

Thank you!

Spring is here

Sunshine, warm, delicious, sunny sunshine.

redbud on the Greenway

Today’s ride (remember the wind today??) was a scoot-about on the Greenway.  With the new extended section, it takes nearly an hour to do the entire length:  the old 4.5 mile section, the 2 mile loop around the Battlefield, the new stretch at the Medical Center water feature, and the long piece out toward Barfield Park.  Fave iPod shuffle today?  Ray Charles, I Gotta Woman

Today was a beautiful day to ride, except for all the sex.  The pollen in the air was visible and tangible.  Redbuds were having sex ALL OVER THE PLACE.  I’m not kidding when I say that; I could actually feel the clouds of pollen break against my face as I was riding.

Here’s a picture of my screen porch table – I do the wiping ritual every morning.

This was a white paper towel before I used it

I was delighted to be out in the sunshine, but paid for it afterwards with the itchy eyes, runny nose, slight headache, and thin pollen film covering my face, arms, and legs.  The winds were really high today – the water feature at the new hospital was spraying sideways!

One more picture.  This sign appeared in my gym in the women’s locker room.  I’m afraid it may have something to do with me, but seriously?

It's. a. locker. room.

Okay, I’ll let you chime in.

Thanks for reading.

The delinquent poster returns

My bad.

Too much spring fever, I think.  Just not spending as much time indoors with this clamshell on my lap!  So we’ll just go with the summary of the past few weeks.

Training is ongoing, and positively delicious in this warm, spring weather.  I’ll be complaining before long about the heat, but for now, I’m loving not having to layer up and still be cold on the bike or in the sneaks!

Jesse and I have been scoping out the Natchez Trace for a potential 7-day bike tour over Fall Break.  We did a few miles this week beginning south of the Meriwether Lewis monument.

the rig
the girl

In other news, our girl Uga (my adorable bully), is in a maternal way.  Jesse found a vet who specialized in bullies, had her surgically inseminated, and in 13 days she will be a mommy.  Not to wear you out, but I’ll be posting pics and blog as the happy day arrives.

ultrasound day - Boo's the midwife
note the Georgia hoody

Thanks for being patient and thanks for reading!

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