New Blog

I’ve been away from this blog for a while, but I’m still around and doing well. The new blog, which I’m not going to publicize until I’ve build up a decent archive, is nonetheless available for viewing. You can find it at

The Columbia Restaurant—Ybor City, Tampa, Florida

I spent most of last week at the Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting in
Tampa, missing some actual springlike days in Muncie (yes, we are headed to highs in the 40s and lows in the 20s on Tuesday—blechhhh). Although I saw some interesting research presented (and shared some of my own), perhaps the best part of these conferences is connecting with friends one sees only rarely (often at academic conferences!) And, as a corollary, one tends to dine with them, a chance to visit local restaurants.

My dear friend Nellie and I chose to dine at The Columbia Restaurant, located in Tampa’s historic Ybor City (once known as the Cigar Capital of the World—in its heyday, Spanish, Cuban, and Italian immigrants were employed to handroll the cigars). The Columbia is Florida’s oldest restaurant (since 1905) and I believe that many of the waiters were original. The place is huge! I am not exaggerating—15 dining rooms that can seat up to 1700 people (some of these are used for private functions). The place was also jam-packed with diners—we arrived quite early and were lucky to wait only 20 minutes for a table. Anyway, Nellie and I shared a variety of tapas—scallops, grilled meat skewers, queso fundido, and my personal favorite, piquillo peppers stuffed with chorizo, mushrooms, and Manchego cheese. As delicious as these were, especially with a glass of sangria, it was the dessert that may have been the meal’s high point, the Guava Turnover. Imagine sweetened cream cheese and guava paste, enveloped in puff pastry, on a bed of vanilla sauce with extra dollops of guava paste. Then imagine forkfuls of this entering your mouth. I do watch my sugar intake, but this was worth every single gram of it!

What is Success Anyway? Part Two

Life Balance. Could this also be a way of defining or describing success? Isn’t living a balanced life—one where your contributions to your career (including those whose work is managing a home) equal your contributions elsewhere (hobbies, volunteer activities, learning, physical activity, etc.)? Too often people fetishize or brag about long work hours (“I haven’t had a day off in 6 weeks!””14-hour days are the norm for me”), hoping to impress others (“look at how important I am because I work so much”). But why on earth would someone be PROUD of that?1 Especially when one thinks of the alternate explanations—poor time management, excuse to avoid keeping physically fit, fear of failure, inability to delegate, etc.

I am NOT suggesting to avoid work—far from it! I am suggesting that you balance your work with other parts of your life that need to be nurtured. This, in turn, will make you more productive and a better worker.

Read something, preferably fiction. It’ll improve your brain

Take a walk or a run outdoors. Good for your physical body and your brain, just like reading!

Cook something (with whole, minimally processed foods—leave the processed garbage alone!). It’ll spur your creativity.

Addicted! To Shower Water!!!

I like to think of myself as a good mother to my daughter Bella. I make sure she’s fed, I make sure she has a clean litter box, I make sure she has plenty of water. But despite my good care, my little girl has developed an addiction to the water remaining in my tub post-shower.

It started a couple of years ago, but just occasionally. Now and then she’d clamor into the tub after I stepped out to dry myself off. She’d be content to lick up some of the remaining water and then she’d scamper out. And this was not a common occurrence. But within the past year, she’s done this more frequently. Okay, fine. Drink the shower water, though I can’t understand why it would taste better than the stuff in your bowl.

But recently it’s become an addiction. She now meows for me to follow her into my main bathroom, where I have to turn on the water briefly so that there are small puddles of water on the tub floor. This can sometimes occur a couple of times a day!

Oh, Bella–what’s a fur-mommy to do?ShowerWaters

And it’s Petra for the Gold!

Took the gold in the mostly running event at the 2014 Winter Olympics for People Who Have Regular Full-time Jobs and Can’t Afford Real Live Coaches and Have to Run Errands After the Games, held in Muncie, Indiana this year.  This particular event involved running on an indoor track (but it was a Winter Olympics event because of the snow on the ground outside and the flurries falling outdoors during the event).  Here’s the set-up:  My goal was to do 11 miles, which would net me the bronze, but doing 12 miles would garner me the silver and 13 miles would give me the gold!  BUT if I reached a certain medal status (say bronze) and I decided to shoot for the next medal (silver), I had to complete it to get any medal at all.  So, after I snagged the guaranteed silver, I (with guidance from my imaginary coach) decided to shoot for the gold!  And I made it!  Given that there are 12 laps to the mile, I completed 158 laps (the extra two for the “.1” part of the half-marathon).  Run 10 laps, walk 2, run 10, walk 2—all until I’d covered a half-marathon distance.

And I got a silver for Team USA in Individual Pothole Dodging on the way home.

A Valentine

A Valentine


I believe in you.
Though you swim through the doubt-infested waters of your own mind,
I still and always
Believe in you.
When you run through the choking air of trepidation,
I push you through.
When you make your way through the feat-addled jungles,
I have your back.
When you step to the side, nervously eyeing the summit that seems so, so far away,
I am there for you.
You do not know this, yet it is true
That I am protecting you and
I give you love.


About those demons—
I will not cheapen this with “girlfriend, you…” chatter or
A casual dismissal of those monstrosities of your mind.
These are your demons to slay.
I give you the tools, the weapons.
I give you
The way past,
The way through.
They are yours now.


So tread not water, achieving only anxious stasis,
But dive in and swim confidently toward the leviathan and his minions.
Slash that figment of your thoughts.
Dismember them all and watch the pieces dazzle like glass sun dogs
Transforming you into shimmering rocket fuel
That propels you to dreamed and undreamed heights.
Smile, nay, LAUGH when you see
That they were only dusty, crumbly powder,
Not the basalt cliffs—imposing and terrifying—you imagined them to be.
Sister, you have it in you.
I give you that.
And I am you.

A Job Well Run

Kudos to moi for excellent cardio exercise this morning.  This miserable winter, with its thrice-weekly snow, constant bitter cold, and unrelenting cloudiness, has meant that my cardiovascular workouts have been mostly rowing and cycling, both on stationary indoor machines.  In the past couple of weeks, though, I’ve used the elevated track at a university gym—nice to have my legs remember how to run!  Today I decided to do my (usually) weekly endurance (read: long) workout at that track.  So, 10-plus miles of (mostly) running!  Twelve laps to the mile—I ran ten laps, walked two, ran ten, walked two, and so on.  I think I’ll be ready for my 10th Mini-Marathon come May (and my 12th half-marathon overall!)

She Who Must Be Obeyed

Especially at 4:15 AM. You see, I share my home with a remarkably spoiled princess, a striking green-eyed, black-furred cat with a small patch of white at the collar.  So, while I may want to stay in bed for, say, another thirty minutes, she has other ideas.

And she is ever-so-fashionable.  The lovely Miss Bella typically sports a red collar (that red-against-black is so chic!)  Here she is!


The real reason I go to work–to keep Miss Bella in Iams Adult Hairball Care and tissue paper.




Is Radiant Orchid the New Black?

Radiant orchid, Pantone’s 2014 Color of the Year, is a rather vibrant, striking looking shade.  Indeed, I’m thinking about painting all of my doors in my combination office/laundry closet/cat-napping room*, providing some bright visual foci against the white walls and dark, dusty teal (aka Perfect Storm in Lowes-speak) trim.

Color of the Year?  How, exactly, is this contest run?  Are there hue equivalents of pageant moms?  Do they have to wear evening gowns made of cloth in their own shade?  Do people lobby for certain colors to win (or at least place in the circle of runners up)?  And what happens to the losing colors?  Do they go on to lead nondescript lives in far corners of a Michaels or Hobby Lobby?

*cat-napping, in this case, refers to an actual cat who likes to nap in office chairs.  Her name is Bella and she is quite the whiny little princess.