Tuesday, October 16, 2018

On Hiatus to Cleanse the Bitter Taste of Life from My Soul

September was, in a word - hard.  It was one of those crazily busy months where, no matter how late I stayed at work or how much paperwork I worked on at home, which is something I typically do not do, I could not catch up. 

It was one of those months where the weather wasn't very cooperative either.  The first half of the month was insanely hot and humid and the second half made me feel as if we here in the Ohio Valley had entered the monsoon season.  I had high hopes of getting outside and doing several things on the weekends, but my plans were ultimately thwarted by the weather.

If I had to describe the month of September, I'd describe it as blah, meh, tiring, and soul sucking.  It was completely devoid of joy and as a result, my spirits throughout the month were rather low.  In the eternal words of Bruce Springsteen, I was bored and tired of myself.  

If there's one thing I've discovered in the past 2-3 years, it is that being bored with myself isn't good. Boredom, for me, often leads to complacency for the status quo which often then develops into a full-on life rut.  I've been down that rut-filled road before and it's not a fun place to be.  

Sadly, getting stuck in a rut is easy to do and it can happen before you know it.  We, as a society, can get so busy in the work of working and in making a living that the things that bring us true happiness, the things that make us feel alive, often get shoved to the back burner.  That's exactly what happened to me in September.

Looking back, I did very little in September that brought me joy.  I worked, tended to my basic needs, and (sadly) watched an overwhelming amount of mind numbing TV because I was either too exhausted to do anything else or I was stuck in the house.  I let the busyness of life interfere with me doing things that make me happy, things that make life worth living.  What finally made me realize that this had happened, was a simple meme I saw on Facebook:

As soon as I saw this, I instantly related and I acknowledged by saying, "Damn straight." 

September, without a shadow of doubt, did just that - left a bitter taste of life on my soul that needs cleansing ASAP.  So, realizing that and knowing firsthand what boredom and complacency can potentially develop into, I intend to nip this soul sucking boredom in the bud and have myself a little adventure.  I refuse to ever lose my mojo again.

Let's go!

I'm currently on Fall Break, enjoying simply being "Ericka" and not "Mrs. B., speech pathologist" for a few precious days. While on this break from work, I'm also taking a brief hiatus from blogging so I can fully engage in some activities that bring me joy.  I wish you well and will see you later this month.


Monday, October 15, 2018

Things I Miss

The clear gloves that used to come in my hair coloring kit (they were thicker and stayed on better than the current ones)

The days when I didn't have to color my hair every 3-4 weeks

Multiple checkout locations in J. C. Penney's, Macy's, and Kohl's

Employees at the above named stores who were assigned to certain sections and there to assist if needed

Christmas catalogs

My paternal grandmother, who passed away twelve years ago

Several of my friends whom I used to work with at my previous school

Corn (I love it, but it hates me and therefore we had to breakup)

West Virginia

My husband's red hair (It's graying, too)

My best friend, whom I don't get to see very often

A president who possesses basic etiquette, manners, and an above average vocabulary

Real concert tickets, not these crappy print at home things we have now

The days when boarding an airplane was a piece of cake

Bob Costas hosting the Olympics

My family who all live five and a half hours away in WV

When MTV and VH1 actually played music videos

The Wal Mart I used to stop at on my way home from work (which closed for some reason)

What's something that you miss?

As always, thanks for stopping by!

Linking up with:

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Horses & Haunts Tour of Churchill Downs: A Photo Essay

Churchill Downs, the historic horse track located in Louisville, KY, is most famous for hosting the annual running of The Kentucky Derby.  The iconic south end landmark was built in 1875 and the very first "Run for the Roses" was held the same year.  Churchill Downs was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978 and is currently the sixth oldest horse track in the United States.

The Kentucky Derby Museum, which is located within Churchill Downs complex, offers a variety of tours throughout the year that take visitors through the labyrinthian structure.  The tours range from basic to in-depth and behind the scenes.  Every Wednesday in October, the Kentucky Derby Museum offers a unique Horses & Haunts Walking Tour that grants guests access to many exclusive areas of Churchill Downs, areas that most visitors do not get to see, while hearing tales and lore from past and present. 

Our tour started at the entrance to the Kentucky Derby Museum, which was built on top of the former Churchill Downs hospital.  After descending into the museum's basement, our leader regaled our group with several tales of death that happened on the grounds as well as strange encounters that employees of the museum have experienced.

Our tour took us by the paddock area, by empty betting windows, and outside to various points in the grandstand. 

One of the famous twin spires

The empty paddock

We had rain showers earlier that evening, but after the rains ceased, we were treated to a
fabulously colorful sky and sunset.

View of the first turn

The Kentucky Derby Winner's Circle

We heard tales of an gambling addict, a jockey who killed a women in cold blood (but wasn't convicted), and of the connection between Churchill Downs and the curse of the Hope Diamond.  

Here our guide explained the connection of The Hope Diamond and Churchill Downs.
The last private owner of the Hope Diamond wore the rumored cursed jewel
to the Kentucky Derby and on that day her son was struck and killed by an automobile.

Mural of all the jockeys who have won the Kentucky Derby.

One of the jockeys pictured in this picture is a killer.  Can you guess which one?
*The answer is at the end.

Although I didn't see any spirits or things that couldn't be explained, I will admit that it was really weird seeing the famous track devoid of people for every time I've visited before, it has been super crowded.

If you go:  The Horses & Haunts tour is offered every Wednesday in October, except when live racing is scheduled.  Because of that, there will be no racing on October 31 this year. The tour is approximately an hour and a half, involves climbing several sets of stairs, and is $15 per person.  

Skyline of downtown Louisville in the distance and the empty track grounds in the foreground.

Have you ever taken a walking tour of any kind at Churchill Downs?  If you have, what did you think of the experience?

Linking up with:

Wednesday Around the World

*The jockey left of the trophy with the orange/red cap and white silk with orange/red dots, Willie Saunders.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Recently Read - Vol. 31 (Aug. & Sept. '18)

I missed last month's linkup because...  You know, looking back, I'm not entirely sure.  My guess is going to be because work was crazy last month and both my reading and blogging took a big hit as a result. 

Anyway, here are the books that I read in August and September:

Finding Fraser by K. C. Dyer
Format: Audiobook
My Rating: 4/5

THINK: An ├╝ber enthusiastic fan of Outlander goes to Scotland on an epic journey to find "her Fraser."

Disclaimer:  I liked Outlander, so much so that I've read it twice.  I'm also a big fan of the television series on STARZ that are based on the novels.  And, I must also disclose that I have a thing for men in kilts.  So, having said that, much of my enjoyment of this book is related to those disclaimers.  

Finding Fraser is a very cut book and I enjoyed it a lot.  I do think it could've been a bit shorter (some parts just seemed to drag on forever) and there were times in which I seriously just wanted to slap the main character and tell her to quit being so naive and open her damn eyes.  But, all in all, it was fun and I enjoyed it.

Final Verdict: Recommend

Every Anxious Wave by Mo Daviau
Format: Audiobook
My Rating: 3.5/5

Think:  High Fidelity meets time travel.

What if you discovered a wormhole that allowed you to go back in time to see any musical acts of the past?  That's what initially peaked my interest with this book.  But, here's the thing about writing about time travel - you have to be careful because the zipping back and forth through time can be tricky, confusing, and sometimes you can lose sight of where your story is going.  I liked the book initially, but then it got... weird and complicated and it started to lose its magic.  I finished it, but wasn't overly impressed.

Final Verdict:  Pass

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Format: Audiobook
My rating:

Think: A teenage girl witnesses the shooting of her unarmed friend by a police officer.

There is a reason this book won two Goodreads Choice Awards in 2017 (Debut Goodreads Author and Young Adult Fiction) - it is powerful.  It deals with a very sensitive, yet timely topic and offers the reader a glimpse into the lives that are affected.  The author's writing is impressive and she offers so much voice in her writing that the dialogue flows effortlessly.  Also, the performance of the audiobook's vocal artist was spot on!

Final Verdict:  Recommend

What have you read lately?  Any recommendations?  Until next month, happy reading!

Linking up with Steph and Jana

Monday, October 8, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday (A Day Early): Longest Books I've Ever Read

Even before I used the power of Goodreads to determine the ten longest books I've ever read, I knew without a shadow of doubt which book would come in the top spot.  And, the interesting thing about my longest book, I've read it not once, but twice!

Without further ado, here are my top ten longest books:

800-899 pages
850 - Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (32 hrs. 38 min.)

700-799 pages
756 - Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer

600-699 pages
688 - Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter (20 hrs.)
629 - Eclipse by Stephanie Meyer (16 hrs. 26 min.)

500-599 pages
592 - Night Film by Marisha Pessl (3 hrs. 9 min.)
563 - New Moon by Stephanie Meyer 
576 - Grey by E. L. James (18 hrs. 53 min.)

400-499 pages
498 - Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
454 - The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan (17 hrs. 54 min.)
432 - Beartown by Fredrik Backman (13 hrs. 11 min.)

*Books that have time listed after them are books that I listened to via audiobook, so I included their running times.

What's the longest book you've ever read?

Linking up with:

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. 

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Currently... (Vol. 32)

Counting...  down the days until Fall Break - 6! 

Loving...  let me say that again - LOVING - my newly renovated office/art room! It's still pretty bare, but I must admit that I'm enjoying the minimalism.

Thanking...  my husband, R, for all the time, effort, and energy he put into renovating the two bedrooms.  He did a great job!

Recommending...  Command Picture Hanging Strips and Command Canvas Hangers.  After seeing all the hard work R put into fixing the walls, I really hated the thought of scarring them with nail holes.

Ecstatic...  to have my house cleaned up and back in order after two months of construction and disarray.

Celebrating...  10.3 lbs. lost in the two months since I began 5:2 intermittent fasting and a grand total of 42 lbs. since I began this quest two years ago!

Thankful...  that I'm on track to finish up my report cards today.

Absolutely, friggin' ecstatic...  that September is history.  Adios!  Good riddance!  Sayonara! Bye, Felicia!  

There are always some months that are harder than others in my field, months that just suck the ever-loving' life out of you.  May is one of those months because of the numerous deadlines and end of the year tasks that must be completed before the last day of school.  In my nearly 19 years as a school based speech pathologist, September has never, ever been one of those months...  Until this year, that is.  In addition to the 15 ARC meetings I had, which are essentially meetings with parents regarding speech and/or special education in some capacity, I had 9 other miscellaneous meetings and trainings for a grand total of 24 meetings in 19 work days.  I am meeting-ed OUT! 

Confessing...  that I have a teensy addiction to Shop Local Kentucky t-shirts.  I think I may need an intervention.

Reading Listening to...  the audiobook The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.

Taking...  a break from Erin's Book Challenge to listen to The Hate U Give.  It's not a book that I had on my original list and it doesn't meet any of the categories I still need to fill (see below).  I starting listening to it last week in celebration of Banned Books Week.

Retracting...  my MoviePass recommendation.  When I first got MoviePass back in January, it was FANTASTIC!  My husband and I saw five movies the first month.  But, as I suspected, the potential of seeing one movie per day for the low-low monthly price of $10 was just too good to last.  About a week or two after I published my recommendation, MoviePass made some radical changes and many of them have alienated me and made it extremely difficult to actually see the movie I want to see when and where I want to see it.  I need to see one movie sometime in October to break even, but after that, both my husband and I are thinking of deactivating our accounts.

Agreeing...  with this:

September in a snapshot:

1) The last of the chicory, in a parade with work peeps, sunrise as viewed from my parking spot
2) Me @ 40 pounds lost!, doing fast speech in the hallway at school, new outdoor lights
3) I stumbled upon a car show, my punkin' is my co-pilot, my attempt to see the fossil bed at
the Falls of the Ohio, but they were completely covered up with high water from Hurricane Florence

What have you been up to lately?

Linking up with:

Book Challenge by Erin 9.0 Progress to Date (80 points, 4/10 books):

  • 5 points: Freebie (A book that is at least 200 pages) - The Midnight Plan of the Repo Man by W. Bruce Cameron.
  • 10 points: Read a book that starts with the letter “N” - Native Tongue by Carl Hiaasen
  • 10 points: Read a book that has a (mostly) orange cover - The Sentry by Robert Crais
  • 15 points: Read a book with an unlikeable character - Tampa by Alissa Nutting
  • 20 points: Read a book from the list of 100 books that PBS calls “The Great American Read” - TBD
  • 20 points: Read a book with something related to water in the title; i.e. ocean, sea, lake, river, waves, etc. - The Flood Girls by Richard Fitfield
  • 25 points: Read a book you’ve owned the longest but haven’t read yet - The Scarecrow by Michael Connelly
  • 30 points: Read a book with an emotion word in the title; i.e. joy, sadness, grief, love, anger, etc. - Every Anxious Wave by Mo Daviau
  • 30 points: Read a book (must be at least 2 words in the title) where each word in the title of the book begins with the same letter - Finding Frasier by KC Dyer
  • 35 points: Read a book featuring a character who shares your profession or similar one (Speech Pathologist) - The King’s Speech by Mark Logue and Peter Conradi 
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