the ghosts of winter

as i run down the snowy path
in the quiet of the falling snow,
i encounter no one
save the ghosts of winter.
they are benevolent spirits,
enjoying the stillness and the emptiness
which i in my own way am
disturbing.
but as long as i make no sound –
save for the inhale exhale inhale exhale
exertion from the run –
they will not disturb me any more
than i disturb them.
i run back home,
the only footsteps in the snow my own,
but i know i’m not alone.
for while the ghosts leave no trace,
you feel their comforting presence.
they are there,
in the whispers of the wind,
and in the snow taking care to cover
the memories of me,
soon to be forgotten, not unlike
the spirits themselves.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
the ghosts of winter, 1.12.19

A Week In Vegas

I spent the first week of the new year in Las Vegas. B had an overnight there on the 31st and we were planning on being there the subsequent weekend for some college hockey … so instead of me flying in and out of LA twice and driving his car back and forth across the desert, we just decided to have me drive out and live there for a week.

(As I also wanted to get my first full week of Ironman training down, this was a much better plan.)

I left on December 30th and drove to St. George, Utah, where I spent the night at a Fairfield. And had a band-aid (or breathe right strip, or SOMETHING) in my shower. And the hotel did very little about it (disappointing, because that’s gross).

The 31st, I woke up pretty early and drove the last little bit into Las Vegas. I found a gym to swim at and then found a Target to go pay my bill at. I wanted to paint my nails, but since that’s not something you really do in a public place (smells) and I didn’t want to pay for a manicure … I just decided to do it in my car since hey, I had nothing else to do until B got in. I also read a book at the same time and that took up several hours.

At this point, I was fairly hangry, so I drove over to the MGM Grand, parked, and went into their food court and ate a Raising Cane’s knockoff that was pretty terrible. I then went back to the car to time it so I got to B’s tower at the Signature the same time he did. This worked well. Both of us were still pretty hungry, so I showered, we got changed, and we headed over to the Bellagio just to eat their buffet for New Year’s Eve (didn’t want something SUPER fancy or to fight with reservations).

As they were closing down the Strip for the festivities after we finished, we got to walk back free of crowds down the middle of Las Vegas Boulevard, which was pretty cool.

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Yay NYE!

Tub beers, and then bed after we saw the east coast ball drop.

We woke up pretty early on January 1st (not easy since the midnight fireworks definitely woke us both up). I was hoping to catch the sunrise … which I technically did, but it was crap. Our run wasn’t bad, but it was surprisingly cold for Vegas.

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The Venetian, nice and quiet and pretty.

We grabbed some coffee at Starbucks and then headed over to the Cosmopolitan for breakfast at Eggslut (and a donut at District Doughnuts).

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Fun chairs.

We didn’t have too much time back at the hotel before B had to leave, but enough time to spend some together.

He left, and I packed up and headed to Cafe Lola to get a lot of stuff done and spend a few hours. I started off with one of their amazing cappuccinos and, I forget the name of it, but some outstanding Portuguese pastry.

I stayed so long that I ended up eating lunch there, too.

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Mmm, salad.

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Newest tiny adorable dinosaur Sprout on their couch.

Sometime mid-afternoon, I headed over to the house of a pilot friend of B’s who lives in North Las Vegas, my home base for the next few days. Said friend and his wife were only around for a bit, as they have Vegas Golden Knights season tickets and there was a game that night, but one of their sons was in town for the holidays, so I hung out with him and his boyfriend (and the dog, Reggie) that night. Dinner was some insanely massive calzone from a pizza place nearby.

I woke on the 2nd much later than I would have liked, but whatever. Clearly I needed some sleep after a very stressful holiday season. I went and swam … and was very hangry during/after, so I ate brunch at a breakfast place near the house called the Cracked Egg.

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Menu.

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Foooood. Got the avocado for some green and ended up making my own avocado toast. It was pretty delicious.

I did a bike ride that afternoon and then did a lot of admin stuff at the house before venturing back out for food (and chamois cream). The drive took me over to Summerlin for the bike shop … and dinner just ended up being at a Whole Foods. I did, however, decide to try the cookie shop that was right near the Cracked Egg – Crumbl Cookies.

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They had oatmeal chocolate chip, which I was super excited about since that’s my favorite cookie and hard to find … but it had the spices of an oatmeal raisin cookie, which, IMHO, don’t belong when you swap the raisins out for the superior chocolate chips. The chocolate chip cookie was SO GOOD – definitely the best of the three I tried. The sugar cookie wasn’t bad … but too much frosting. I am barely a frosted sugar cookie person as it is, so frosting basically the same thickness of the cookie? Too much sugar.

Woke up the 3rd and kind of lazed around … so much so, that I had to scrap my original planned run location and find a park closer to McCarran so that I would be able to pick B up on time. I could see the planes landing at the park, so when I got the text from B that they were descending, I could keep an eye out for his plane (and did indeed see it). Thankfully, though, I was able to finish my run as planned and pick him up without him waiting too terribly long for me.

We went to Cafe Lola after I picked him up because he was not NOT going to have one of their cappuccinos himself. I had another of the Portuguese egg pastries and he had some of their oatmeal.

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On the swing outside.

From there, we found a much better trail and went for a ride. Grabbed a quick bite after before heading to the Bellagio (our happy home for the rest of the trip). We showered, walked over to T Mobile Arena to purchase tickets for the Ice Vegas Invitational (whole reason we planned the trip), and then met up with his cousin and his husband over at the brand new Eataly that opened up outside of Park MGM.

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Mmm, pizza.

Woke up on the 4th, ate at the buffet for breakfast (we found a package that gave us breakfast credits every day), got coffee … and I threw $40 into a slot (Heidi’s Bier Haus) and cashed out with $205. Nice morning. We then drove out to Henderson to ride some more. There’s a trail that got meh reviews due to the nature of it being pretty much right by the highway, but we thought the Union Pacific Railroad Trail was actually quite nice to ride on. Sure, quite a bit of it WAS boring, but it ended up opening up on some other trail right outside of Boulder City and it got great. Very nice way to get in 20 miles.

Got a bit hangry after that, so just grabbed food at Chick-fil-a for some calories before heading back to the Strip. Showered, grabbed a cappuccino at Cafe Gelato inside the Bellagio, lost a bit at Heidi.

Dinner pre-hockey was at In-N-Out … where we amusingly sat in the same booth we sat in back in September with our friends Blair and Jenna-Caer.

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Night at the Linq.

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Us at the game.

We skipped the first game of the night – Western Michigan vs. UConn – because all we really cared about was the Air Force/St. Lawrence game. Happily, Air Force won (and we got to see some sled hockey in intermission).

The 5th was another run day, so after another buffet breakfast, we drove back to the same park I ran in the other day. I wanted to go to the Cafe Lola pop-up shop in the Macy’s in Fashion Show, so we headed there after the run.

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Yes I’m obsessed.

Once we got back to the Bellagio, it was spa time which was vastly needed by both of us.

Afterwards, we headed down to the Vegas Golden Knights’ store to see if there was any merch for the tournament – unfortunately not.

We gambled a bit, grabbed some food, mostly stayed fairly chill.

A lot of this was because I had been feeling unsettled all day (and a bit the previous day too if we’re being honest). I finally just wondered if puking would help … and so I did that. First time I’ve thrown up in probably about six years (probably since my last concussion). It was gross, and it hurt (and I burst a blood vessel in my eyeball), but it did make me feel better, so mission success?

Dinner pre-game was at the buffet (ugh I know again) and then we got ourselves a nice treat of Ghiradelli sundaes.

Air Force unfortunately lost to Western Michigan, so our teams are currently 0-2 in championship games in tournaments in random places that we’ve traveled to. Thankfully UND doesn’t go anywhere this year for us to see them lose.

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Rainy T-Mobile reflections pre-game.

The original plan was to swim on our way out of town, but I still felt kind of crappy and I didn’t want to suction goggles over my weird eyeball … so that didn’t happen. We grabbed breakfast at Sadelle’s, a new restaurant in the Bellagio (off the conservatory, where Cafe Bellagio used to be), and then gambled a bit more before checking out. Which ended up being smart, since we both ended up winning a bit more.

We checked out, got coffee on our way out of town, stopped at Red Lobster in St. George for lunch, and drove through a lot of foggy crap to stop for the night in Grand Junction.

The drive home the next day was terrible thanks to a lot of snow (and an hour and a half to get through the tunnel), but overall, it was a nice trip to start the new year off on.

On 2018 and 2019

2018 was an interesting year.

My first inclination was to call it a good year, filled with a lot of travel (which it was), but it also had some hiccups.

I tracked my travel – Minnesota, Tucson, California (Disney), LA, Costa Rica, Scottsdale, LA, Italy, Montrose, LA/Las Vegas, Sterling, Vegas/LA, Rifle, Tucson, Minnesota, Tucson, S. Colo/Las Vegas, Telluride, Bloomington, Belfast, St. George/Vegas. I met Shinedown. I did a lot more hiking. I saw friends each month. I tried new recipes and restaurants.

I also gained more weight, and had an existential triathlon crisis, having my lightest racing season in a decade.

The goals that I stated here, I mostly accomplished.

The main one, live with purpose, I feel like I was pretty good at. If you count it by my comment of less mindless scrolling of the interwebs … well … that got worse as the year went on.

I did continue to chase the sun, getting some stellar sunrises and finally catching a good sunset in Tucson.

I successfully visited all 41 (43?) state parks, gaining a wonderful new perspective on the state and life in general. (and yes I still need to blog about that)

I’m not entirely sure I got more organized … or had more grace … but I don’t think I was entirely deficient, either.

I did create a bit more, but not nearly as much as I would have liked. You saw the evidence of the few fiction pieces I did here, and I kind of did Inktober this year (though all those doodles were pretty crappy and I didn’t share them for a reason).

So what for 2019?

Travel will happen (and already has – started off the year in Las Vegas), but a little less as I’m training for another IRONMAN. It doesn’t mean that I can’t travel a lot prior to September, but it does mean that my travel will be limited.

I still have my create and write monthly goals, but I also added in the goals of actually doing a larger painting and finishing the purse I started a few years ago.

In general, though, I like the purposeful life goal. I’ve been setting daily intentions since late July and I like living with intent. I think I’ll keep with that.

Books Read 2018

I used to be a huge reader. I read all the things, without prompting.

Like most kids, I think it started falling by the wayside in high school and then definitely college (when all your homework is reading, and reading boring crap, your interest tends to wane).

Ironically, finding fan fiction (and, more specifically, Pride and Prejudice fan fiction) helped me find enjoyment in reading again. I also tend to have a bad habit of rereading the same things over and over again … but I guess when you know you like something …?

In any case, I made a pseudo-bullet journal for last year and one of the things I put in it is New Books Read. I made a goal of a book a month. I did hit that, and, in fact, read 24 new books. Quite a few are novellas, but I’m counting them anyway. Here is that list.

Glory Lost and Found: How Delta Climbed from Despair to Dominance in the Post-9-11 Era by Seth Kaplan and Jay Shabat
B had finished this, I started leafing through it … next thing I knew, I was 150 pages deep. Obviously I had to finish it. Helped give me a new good perspective on my husband’s industry.

MOLLY’S GAME: The True Story of the 26-Year-Old Woman Behind the Most Exclusive, High-Stakes Underground Poker Game in the World by Molly Bloom
I think I decided to read this once I saw the trailers for the film … and when I learned she was the sister of Jeremy Bloom, the skier/CU football player that pretty much every Coloradoan knows … well, I read it. Entertaining read. Still haven’t seen the movie and I’m okay with that.

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld
Think a modern Pride and Prejudice adaptation. Definitely a different spin on the classic story.

Good Booty: Love and Sex, Black and White, Body and Soul in American Music by Ann Powers
I discovered this book (one of the few non-fiction pieces I read) thanks to a friend from back in the journalism days, Soraya McDonald. She referenced it in one of her articles and it sounded intriguing enough to find. Very cool take on music’s history.

The Epic Adventures of Lydia Bennet by Kate Rorick
The continuation of the story from the web serial “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.” I was a little obsessed when that came out, trying to plan my lunch breaks at work for when the new webisodes came out, so obviously I had to read this. That series did amazing work with the Lydia Bennet character, and this fleshed it out even more.

Colonel Darcy by Timothy Underwood
Essentially found this on FF.net … learned it had been published … bought it. You’ll notice that quite a few pieces on this list are P&P fan fic. I regret nothing. This one wasn’t one of my favorites.

The Wonder Engine by T. Kingfisher
T. Kingfisher, a.k.a. Ursula Vernon, is someone I’ve been following for years. I own pretty much all of her adult work, so once this came out, I was of course going to read it. Especially because I remember some of the early works with the characters back ages ago in the LiveJournal days. This was the anticipated follow-up to The Clockwork Boys which came out the previous year. I specifically held on to this for our Italy trip which was painful, but it was well worth the wait.

Fitzwilliam Darcy: Rock Star by Heather Lynn Rigaud
More P&P fan fiction published, in the guise of both sets of characters being rock musicians on tour together. While it did have one of my favorite non-canon pairings (Charlotte Lucas/Colonel Fitzwilliam) and I’ve reread it quite a bit … I have a couple issues with it. Mostly in that Darcy’s band is based off Puddle of Mudd so Rigaud basically put herself in the place of Elizabeth Bennet (understandable) pretty much so she could, in fiction, fuck the Puddle of Mudd frontman – I mean, Fitzwilliam Darcy. Tiny bit creepy? I think the kids call it wank fic. Plus a rock band like that would probably not tour with a band that’s a mix of Sheryl Crow and Michelle Branch. Musically, that really wouldn’t work.

Dressed by Darcy by Beverly Farr
I’ve enjoyed a lot of other things Beverly Farr (a.k.a. Jane Grix a.k.a. Cass Grix) has written those other pseudonyms, so when I found this on FF.net and realized it had been published, I went and bought it. Think P&P in the “America’s Next Top Model” universe. Some things moved a bit too quickly; I don’t think the modern take works as well as her pseudonym’s work in the Regency era, but it was still a fun read.

Paperback Romance by Lizzie Indigo
Definitely needs editing, but Indigo knows this (doing things backward by using sales of the book to edit it). Fun read mixing P&P within the universe of paperback romances (think Harlequin and the like) … but the lack of editing does make it a bit rough to read at times.

Netherfield: Rogue Dragon by Maria Grace
Maria Grace is probably my favorite P&P FF author out there, and I had been eagerly awaiting this final installment of the Jane Austen’s Dragons trilogy. It dragged a bit at times, but it was still well worth the wait.

Bluegrass Undercover by Kathleen Brooks
So I discovered Brooks when I first got my Nook and was downloading random free books. While Bluegrass State of Mind maybe wasn’t the most well-written novel I’d ever read, it sucked me into the story enough to go find the rest of the trilogy and buy them. Bluegrass Undercover is the first book in the Bluegrass Brothers series, which continues the universe. Maybe not quite as good as the original trilogy, but still enjoyable.

Death of a Lobster Lover by Lee Hollis
Was sucked in by the cover at Barnes and Noble. I guess, like most mystery novelists, Hollis has a series and this was just one in the many adventures of Hayley Powell. Wasn’t bad, but didn’t love it enough to want to find more by the author.

Rising Storm by Kathleen Brooks
Next book in the Bluegrass Brothers series.

The 26th of November by Elizabeth Adams
Think P&P meets “Groundhog Day.” Highly enjoyable read. I like Adams a lot as an author, too.

At Darcy House by Jane Grix
One of my more favorite pieces by Grix, actually. (And to clear up from earlier: I think Beverly Farr is the author’s actual name; most stuff she writes under that name are regular romances not in the P&P universe. Jane Grix is her P&P pseudonym, writing typically novella length Regency-set stories. Cass Grix, whose name you’ll see later on this list, is Regency-set paranormal P&P stories.)

Acquiring Trouble by Kathleen Brooks
Keeping on in the Bluegrass Brothers series. I have two more to read … and that will probably come this year.

The Billionaire Wins the Game by Melody Anne
Apparently this was some random free Nook book I had downloaded ages ago but never read. Finally did. Probably will not read again and will definitely not read more within the same universe.

How Bad Do You Want It? Mastering the Psychology of Mind Over Muscle by Matt Fitzgerald
Trying to get some insight to help me for next year’s tri season. B couldn’t finish this one due to it being pretty dry (which it is). It wasn’t bad … but I’m honestly having trouble remembering much of it right now … which is bad, because I only read it two months ago.

Pride, Prejudice, and Curling Rocks by Andrea Brokaw
I went on a downloading spree pre-Ireland, and this is one of the books I found. Definitely more YA, and I’m pretty sure it was self-published, but it was a nice quick read.

Shadow of Anubis by Adele Dixon
I had remembered reading part of this on FF.net but never finishing it so I was excited to see this pop up in my searching. Think P&P where the characters go on an excavation trip to Egypt.

By Hathor’s Hand by Adele Dixon
Follow up to the previous book.

Dreaming of Darcy by Cass Grix
Fun, quick read.

Swordheart by T. Kingfisher
Set within the Clockwork Boys universe, but after the events of those novels. Looks like it’s the first book of a trilogy, so I’m super excited for that. This ended up being the only book I read in December, and I binge read it in a parking lot waiting for both my nails to dry and my husband to land in Las Vegas on the 31st.

Fourth Quarter Style: 2018

I tried to do more. I really did. Still only four outfits, because of course.

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Worn … somewhere.

Necklace: Attic Salt
Cardigan: LC Lauren Conrad (for Kohl’s)
Tank: … I forget. Target, probably
Skirt: Skirt Sports
Boots: JustFab Online

10-28outfit
October date “night” to a corn maze.

Sunglasses: Target
Purse: American Eagle Outfitters (purchased at DSW Shoe Warehouse)
Shirt: Target
Vest: Skirt Sports
Jeans: 7 for All Mankind
Boots: JustFab Online

12-1outfit
Worn shopping. Tried to look cute. Ended up destroying my feet in the heels.

Scarf: Target
Sweater: Ann Taylor LOFT
Jeans: 7 for All Mankind
Shoes: Sofft

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December date night.

Necklace: silver, don’t remember; think it was a gift
Sweater: H&M
Dress: Skirt Sports
Boots: JustFab Online