Friday, August 29, 2008

Slowly breaking through the daylight

Happy Labor Day weekend! In seven minutes, my weekend will have officially begun. I intend to kick it off with a visit to the gym, a drink with my coworkers and a good night's rest. Tomorrow morning (at least I hope it'll still be morning), Darren and I head to upstate New York to my parents' camp in the Adirondacks. Michael's coming up from Nashville to celebrate his 20th birthday. Apparently, his landlord, Danny, was supposed to join him, but something came up. It should be busy at camp, with the Clemens visiting as well and camping outside the house.

I'm glad to be going back there. I've been kind of homesick lately. I feel bad about it, though. I don't view being homesick as a very adult thing to do, and since I'm a full-fledged adult, I think it childish to yearn for the place I grew up. People have told me it isn't anything to be ashamed of, but I can't help it.

Since Darren and I joined Dedham Strength and Fitness, I've learned a lot about fitness and bodybuilding, mostly from BodyBuilding.com. Protein, transformation and lean muscle mass have all become part of my vocabulary. I've read a lot of people's own stories of transformation and what drove them to fitness from the site's forum and articles, and since then I've noticed a transformation of my own. I've been concentrating most of my weight training on my lower body (i.e. butt and legs), and I've noticed my hips have gotten bigger; however, rather than growing larger from fat deposits, I'm relatively certain it's been because of the growth of muscle mass. Like Darren, I've been drinking smoothies made from protein powder and water (I use my new blender to mix them up with crushed ice for a frozen delight that makes a great dessert) that I believe has contributed to this gain. I'm not entirely happy about watching myself get bigger, but as long as it's muscle, I can live with it.

I'm hoping we'll take some pictures this weekend. It'll sure be nice to have an extra day off work this weekend. There's so much going on, and we have to basically cram eight weeks' of work into two or three! One of our freelancers, on his way out of the office after a meeting one day, told me how busy he noticed it was, and I replied that I thought we should hire at least 10 more people just to be able to get everything done on time.

But for now, it's time to unwind and begin the weekend off right. Enjoy your weekend, everyone.

Friday, August 22, 2008

What a wonderful world

It's still pretty early, but everything seems to be going well for me so far. Little things, like not being late for work or even fresh, perfect-tasting office coffee have bolstered my spirits and made me grateful to be alive. I even woke up for one of the first times this week and wasn't completely enamored with the idea of hitting the "snooze" button and going right back to bed for another couple hours! I even went to bed late last night!

Add to all this the fact that it's Friday, with the forecast predicting sunny, comfortable weather for the weekend. I'm excited for the possibilities it holds and the fun things Darren and I could do. I'm definitely hoping to take a nice afternoon tour on the motorcycle -- maybe to one of those nice, sleepy shore towns along the eastern Massachusetts seaboard. Last time, we watched the sun set from the lighthouse in Scituate, a beautiful town lined with quaint beach houses and miles of rocky and sandy coast. It reminded me so much of my childhood in Maine, when we'd go to Nubble Light and scour the tide pools for starfish, crabs, mussels, little fish and sea snails. I could have spent forever there on those rocks. I tried reliving that time on the seaweed-covered rocks at Scituate, but the real pools were too far out, and the rocks were too slippery. Still, we walked out onto this stony pier and sat on the very end under a lookout tower, watching the boats come and go and taking in the beautiful, red sunset. In fact, I have pictures I've posted at the end.

Tax-free weekend was last weekend in Massachusetts, and I used the opportunity to buy the mountain bike I've wanted for a couple weeks now. My original plan was to bring my old bike from home, but after I considered how old it is (at least 10 years), I realized it's time for a new one. Maybe my parents can bring the old bike to camp for visitors' kids to use. I went to a locally owned bike shop down the street in Dedham called Adi's. He's a Romanian guy who once played bassoon for the Pope in Italy and runs the bike shop with his father, Vadi. He seemed offended when we said we were also looking at bikes at Dick's Sporting Goods and Wal-Mart, educating us about the need for quality in bikes like the ones we were looking for. I got the feeling that he wasn't just telling us that to sell a bike; he really believed it. In Europe, the good-quality bikes like the ones he sells are the norm. Mass-manufactured bikes in the U.S. have taken on a lesser quality that hinders on their performance and endurance through the years. We found this largely to be true when we went to Dick's, where the bikes were just as expensive but didn't look as good as the bikes at Adi's. I settled on a blue Jamis Ranger, the cheapest bike in my size and type that I wanted. Adi even reduced the sticker price $20, and it was tax free! I also bought a nice helmet designed in Germany, and Darren got Adi to throw in a $6 bike trails map for free. "Deals, deals for everybody today!" Adi remarked. "Except for me -- well, we'll see what happens!"

People walk along the beach in the bay and docking area by the Scituate Lighthouse.

We parked in the lot next to the lighthouse, tethered the bike to a park bench and headed out to the rock pier. The lighthouse masters actually inhabit the house by the lighthouse tower, and it's one of the oldest-used lighthouses in the country. A story goes that during the War of 1812, a pair of sisters -- daughters of the lighthouse master -- were left in charge of the lighthouse while the master and the rest of the family were away. They scared away an anchored British warship by beating a drum and playing a fife one foggy night. From then on, they have been called the "Lighthouse Army of Two."*

The boats made their way into the docking area in the bay as the sun set.

The money shot: It took a couple tries for us to angle the camera on my phone correctly so that the lighthouse would be in the background.

* Source: New England Lighthouses: A Virtual Guide

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

When mountains crumble to the sea, there will still be you and me

Today marks the first year since Darren and I began our relationship together. Yesterday was a year since we met. It's been a great journey so far, and I don't want it to ever end. We've done and accomplished so much together in one year. We've done amazing things that I would have never been able or wanted to experience with anyone else, and there's so much to look forward to in our lives ahead. I couldn't be more in love with the person I intend to spend the rest of my life with.

Tonight, we plan on visiting Garden Grille Cafe in Pawtucket, R.I., one of my favorite restaurants ever, and one of the first places we went to eat on a date. We haven't been there in several months, and the menu has changed since then (according to the Web site), so it promises to be a familiar yet entirely new experience. We may even go to Dave & Buster's at Providence Place mall (in my favorite city in the world) to play some arcade games. What better way than this to celebrate our first full year together?