Time to Get Real – Week of October 12

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A very good week.  Which is nice for a change.  It’s kind of like playing golf.  Just one or two good shots amidst all the others keeps making you want to come back and try again.

It was a quiet weekend, so that probably helped.  We did eat out though (and made an absolute pig of myself one day.  I was more than 1,000 calories over my goal) so showing progress is a very good sign.  That it was a nice number is even better.

Exercise has gotten better as well so that helps.

The day is just a little bit bright this morning.  The fact that the next and elusive milestone is back in sight helps as well.

I ended up on television yesterday (news crew needed someone to talk to about a break in at the church and I was the only person around) so I saw myself on the tube.  Generally that’s a nightmare as far as I’m concerned.  But it wasn’t horrible.  Headed in the right direction.

My resolution remains :

I want to am going to be The Guy again.

The next milestone is getting back below 190.  I will get there and go on.

Official Weigh In Weight

192.4 pounds

Weight Change this week –  -2.0pounds

Total Weight Loss To Date – 12.4 pounds

Goal Weight and Total to Lose – 175/30

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A New Beginning – October 16

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Aging Hippies to young hipsters.  Grandparents and grand children.  Masters of Industry and Working Class Heroes.

Tens of thousands of people all in one place because they love music.

Welcome to the Richmond Folk Festival.

I really had no idea what to expect.  First, when you say “folk music” I automatically think Peter, Paul and Mary or Pete Seeger.  Since I grew up in a house that listened to that kind of music I was excited.  Turns out it’s not that kind of folk music.  It is the many kinds of music that has come to this country with the many immigrants that have made our country the unique and wonderful place that it is.

So there was a Balkan brass band, traditional Pontic Greek music, Zydeco, Mariachi, Merengue, Gospel, R&B, Soul, Go-Go, West African High Life, Québécois, Country and Western, Old Time, Bluegrass, Indian Slide Guitar, Chinese strings, Hawaiian slack key guitar, Jazz, Tibetan opera, and Native American hip-hop.  I’m sure I’ve forgotten something.  Which would be sad since the quality of the music was uniformly outstanding.  I’m not saying I loved everything but the quality was obviously there.

Group of old time players at the Luthiers tent

Group of old time players at the Luthiers tent

Add in an amazing selection of food from all over the world and you got one great party.  There was also an area presented by the Virginia Folklife Program where you could see traditional crafts like basket weaving, learn about native oysters, boat building and a tent filled with folks who hand make guitars, fiddles and more.  Did I mention that it takes parts of three days to pull this party off?  Yeah, Friday evening through Sunday till 6 PM.

I knew I was going to spend as much time there as physically possible.  My Lady Wife and The Kid were planning on being there a little then going home.  They stayed for most of Saturday and Sunday.  It was that good.

Favorite music act was the Québécois group Vent du Nord, followed closely by the West African High Life Band, the Hawaiian guitar, the mariachi and the Holmes Brothers (R&B/Blues/Gospel).  But maybe the most amazing moment is the one below:

World Strings

This was the “World Strings Tradition” session.  From L-R it’s a mariachi harp, hurdy gurdy (I heard “Smoke on the Water” played on hurdy-gurdy.  I can die now), Hawaiian guitar, old time mandolin, guitar and two Chinese string instruments.  Each had the chance to discuss some of the history of their instrument and show some of how it is played.  At the end the Hawaiian guitarist began to play a tune he had written and invited the others to join in, based on their own musical traditions.  It was ASTOUNDING!  We had gone to this just because there was a gap in our schedule between groups we wanted to hear.

It was exhausting and wonderful.  The weather was not great (chilly and damp with occasional rain) but they still had lots of people show up.  Guarantee it will be a regular event on our calendars.

  • 140 days without a rude Virginian.
  • Do need to note this about driving around here.  First of all, someone needs to point out the turn signal lever to most drivers in this area.  Seriously, virtually no one uses them.  I’m astounded there are not more accidents when people make turns or change lanes without any indication at all.
  • Oh, and talking on your cell phone while driving is legal here.  There is no requirement to be hands free so everyone is driving with one hand.  It remains a stupid idea.  Had someone so focused on their conversation they didn’t see me coming.  I was through traffic, they had a stop sign, rolled through it, saw me at the last minute AND STOPPED IN THE MIDDLE OF THE INTERSECTION IN FRONT OF ME!  Good thing I was paying attention.  My dad taught me to assume that every other driver on the road is an idiot.  Saved me more than few times in my life.
  • Preached my first sermon at Church of the Redeemer.  Got a very positive response.   Also preached at a baptism for the first time at the 11 AM service.  That was special.

It’s a new beginning.

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Time to Get Real – Week of October 12

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A big weekend with festival food for most meals.  And I still lost some weight.  That’s a very good thing.  We have also re-crossed the double digit pounds lost line.  I’d really like to stay there.

That is a huge step forward.  This was probably the biggest festival weekend of the year in Richmond, the Richmond Folk Festival.  This was music that I truly enjoy, so the plan from the beginning was to spend all three days (two and half really) there.  Without a doubt that meant it was going to be an eating challenge.

If there was anything I would have changed, it would be the french fries.  I’ve been flirting with this knowledge for a while now but I need to upfront with this.  I need to mostly eliminate french fries from my diet.  There,  I said it.  This is not going to be easy because french fries are so much a part of the way I learned to eat.  MyFitnessPal brings home just what a waste of calories they are.  If the food merchants of the world offered them in smaller sizes it might be possible to keep them in my diet more regularly.  But the portion size is always enormous.

Yes, I could simply exert some self control and not eat all of them.

We’re not seriously going to make that suggestion, right?  If my self control was that good we wouldn’t be having this whole conversation, would we?

My resolution remains :

I want to am going to be The Guy again.

The next milestone is getting back below 190.  I will get there and go on.

Official Weigh In Weight

194.4 pounds

Weight Change this week –  -0.8 pounds

Total Weight Loss To Date – 10.4 pounds

Goal Weight and Total to Lose – 175/30

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Exploring Richmond – Episode 4

As we continue our intentional exploration of our new home I will, from time to time, offer these special posts.

I suddenly realized that we had done a whole bunch of exploring and I was falling behind.  Part of the challenge in living in the Richmond area is trying to choose among all the various activities.  The full photo album of all these is HERE.  This will take you to a slideshow of all the photos.

We kind of stumbled on the Octoberfest at St. Benedict’s church.  All of us agreed it reminds us of our beloved Yassou festival at St. Nicholas in Jamestown.  Good German food, lots of beer, dancing under the big tent and some pretty cool shopping.  Had a great talk with the guy who claims to be the last independent pewter artist in the region.  Really enjoyed ourselves and hung out with some friends of The Kid’s.

Octoberfest!

Staying with ethnic festivals we hit the Italian Festival at the 17th St Farmer’s Market down in Shockoe Bottom.  Once again, good food, a couple Italian beers (enjoyed both of them), some wine, shopping and some wandering musicians!  We really enjoyed ourselves here too PLUS discovered that there is an entire street of restaurants right there on 17th.  We are especially intrigued by the Ethiopian place.

Italianfest

Decided to mix things up and find some Jazz.  The Virginia Museum of Fine Art (VMFA) is not only a great museum but has some great events each week.  One of which is a regular Jazz cafe.  So we headed down to grab dinner and enjoy the music.  This is a very popular event so we ended up sitting out on the deck (which was fine, the volume was a little high inside.  It was easier to talk outside).  Good food, great music and wonderful conversation.  Really enjoyed ourselves.

Beautiful company at the VMFA

We were told that the Second Street Festival was one of the “don’t miss” festivals.  It is far and away the biggest festival we’ve been to!  Blocks of the city are shut down, there are something like five stages with music playing simultaneously, lots of food, amazing shopping, even some classic cars!  Got to hear some really great Jazz and more here.  Next time we will remember to bring along some folding chairs.

Jazz tent at the 2nd Street Festival

Another one of the “you can’t miss this” events is the South of the James Farmer’s Market.  100 vendors, at least 4 live musicians.  Wow.  And a Farmer’s Market that runs most of the year.  We got lunch and finished it off with an Amish donut.  Yum.

A tiny fraction of the Farmer’s Market

Finally, did some actual exploration of downtown Richmond in the Shockoe Slip/Shockoe Bottom area.  The Richmond train station is gorgeous!  Wandering up and down East Cary Street checking out the restaurants and book store.

Beautiful East Cary

Afterwards I went over to Belle Isle, which is this wonderful wooded refuge in the middle of the James.  You’re within walking distance of the city but are totally secluded in the woods and the beauty of the river.  Pretty cool.

Looking across the James from Belle Isle

Still so much more to explore!

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A New Beginning – October 9

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Well, it had to happen eventually.  Amidst all the fun and games something bad had to happen.

It was inevitable.

The weather continues to be beautiful so I decided to get out and explore on Wednesday.  I haven’t had the bicycle up and running all year for one reason or another.  So I inflated the tires, tossed into the car and decided to find someplace interesting to ride.

Have you ever had those moments when you look back and think, “I should have taken the hint”?  In my mind it was going to be simple.  Grab the bike rack out of the trunk and…oh, wait.  The bike rack is in the trunk of MY car.  Which is headed to Pittsburgh today.  Sigh.  Oh well, no biggie.  The seats fold down in the back of my Lady Wife’s Subaru so I’m good.  Then the bike just didn’t want to go into the car.

Should have taken the hint.

I had been reading about some paths along the south side of the James, through some of the James River park system that appeared to lead onto Belle Isle from the other direction than I had explored before.  Great!  Got the address for the 22nd Street trail head and took off.  As with everything around here, it was a short drive.

Only to discover that the parking lot there closes after September 1.  (Should have taken the hint).  No problem, the map I’d glanced at seemed to indicate the trail extends out from that parking lot so I’d just ride down and get going.

Small problem.  I first had to carry the bike UP a flight of stairs to get to the trail (hint).  When I got to the top of the stairs I was greeted with something that only barely qualified as a path.  In the middle of it was a HUGE mass of tree roots that looked like they were from a Banyan tree. (hint, hint)

After portaging over the rough spot I came to the actual trailhead.  Which required that I now carry my bike DOWN several flights of stairs (hint, hint, HINT).  At the bottom the trail was only slightly better.  It was narrow, uneven, the camber on it was VERY peculiar at times and I can’t imagine anyone wanting to walk here let alone run or bike.  (hint, hint, HINT, HINT!!)  When I finally got close to the James the trail pretty much ended with no sign of how it might get across to Belle Isle.

At that point I simply decided to turn around and try somewhere else.  I was fine till I got to the bottom of the first flight of stairs to negotiate.  At the very end, the path suddenly tilted upward very sharply.  If I had been riding more I think I would have caught that and either shifted into a very low climbing gear or just stopped.  But being out of practice I missed the moment of decision.  The bike basically came to a halt since I couldn’t turn the crank.  As I went to put a foot down my foot caught in my toe clip and stuck.

There’s a moment on a bike when you realize there is nothing you can do.  You’re going to hit the ground.  Period.  My landing spot was made up of blacktop and large, bread loaf sized rocks.  It hurt.  Kudos to the other folks on that trail, three of them checked to make sure I was OK.

Upon further review there was no serious damage to me or the bike.  I’m going to have large bruises on my right elbow and buttock.  Plus I took a long gouge out of my left shift, probably from the bicycle.  The bike appears to be fine.

I should have taken the hint.

  • 133 days without a rude Virginian.  In fact, as noted above, the locals continue to be wonderful.
  • IMG_20141001_122215090_HDRTried one of the legendary pizza places in Richmond, Bottoms Up.  This is in the Shockoe Bottom portion of the city.  I was amazed how quiet the place was at lunch time on a weekday.  Pizza was most acceptable. This is a single slice of one of their specials.  Thick, crunchy crust on it.
  • We’ve been doing quite a few festivals (with the Folk Festival coming this weekend!) so I will do an Exploring Richmond post for the end of this week to try and get caught up.  There is a LOT to do here!

It’s a new beginning.

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Time to Get Real – Week of October 7

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OK, back on track.

Two things.  I weighed myself on Friday just to check on the effect our weekends have on my overall weight.  The difference was four tenths of a pound.  Now to be fair this was one of our quietest, stay-at-home weekends.  We did go exploring and did eat out so it’s still instructive.  I need to watch the weekend very closely.

The really good news, as far as I’m concerned, is that I have all my tools back.  I’m consistently food journaling with MyFitnessPal and I have a Fitbit once again.  For me these are vital tools to keep on track.

I use a Fitbit One for tracking my activity level.  It gives me total steps, number of flights of stairs (given that my office is on the second floor and my apartment on the third, both in buildings without elevators, that’s a good stat) and syncs with my online account wirelessly.  That’s a huge benefit for me since I’m basically lazy.  You could achieve a lot of the same benefits with an old school pedometer and a well set up spread sheet.  But that’s too much like work.  Again, the steps factor increases the “game” aspect of this (as I mentioned before) and that’s a huge help for me.  I lost my original One while travelling this summer.  Nice to be back online with that.

MyFitnessPal is a great resource for tracking calories, fat, carbs, etc.  They have a huge database that is constantly augmented by user listings so you can find almost anything.  Finding restaurant food from non-chains can be a challenge but I try to work the most reasonable estimates from what they do have.  The real “golden ticket” here for me is the smartphone app.  I don’t have to remember what I ate when I get to a computer.  Adding the foods is a relatively quick and simple operation.  So I have a good running report on where I am for the day.  That can be a big help.

So I have my tools.  I know that weekends are a stumbling block.  And I have positive movement for the first time in weeks.  I’m liking this so far.

My resolution remains :

I want to am going to be The Guy again.

The next milestone is getting back below 190.  I will get there and go on.

Official Weigh In Weight

195.2 pounds

Weight Change this week –  -1.2 pounds

Total Weight Loss To Date – 9.6 pounds

Goal Weight and Total to Lose – 175/30

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Exploring Richmond – Episode 3

As we continue our intentional exploration of our new home I will, from time to time, offer these special posts.

We haven’t really had a good exploring adventure for a while.  There’s this whole “real life” thing that insists on getting in the way.  The recent weeks posts about beer got me thinking about a little bit of wine exploration we’ve done as well.

(Yes, this makes four posts essentially in a row about alcohol.  No, you do not need to do an intervention)

I’ve noted before that we got the chance to check out a really cool car show at a nearby winery.  If you have somehow missed that, the photos are HERE.

I want to focus on the New Kent Winery a little more here.  The winery is less than a decade old and set in an area showing some serious “lifestyle” growth.  That means beautiful housing areas, a Rees-Jones designed golf course and more.  They have a wonderful area out front where they can do big events, like the car show, grape vines surrounding the area and a gorgeous building.

The inside is just as impressive.  We slid up to the tasting bar and were greeted by a pourer (?, not bartender.  There has to be a technical term for what these folks do.  The good ones I mean, the ones who know what they’re talking about), a representative of the winery who hit on all cylinders (car reference, see what I did there?).  Did not catch his name but he could talk knowledgeably about the wines.  Love it when that happens.

White Norton – this is an indigenous to Virginia grape that has started to see more usage.  They did this one as a rosé and it was truly impressive.  A more unique flavor with some complexity to it.  Was our favorite.

2011 Chardonnay – I’m always very honest with the winery folk when they go to pour a Chardonnay for me.  I ask about the level of “oakiness”.  Traditionally, Chardonnays have a sharp oak bite that I find quite unpleasant.  So for years I simply avoided them.  Then I discovered “unoaked” varieties (usually done in steel tanks rather than oak barrels) and “lightly oaked” (where they use a variety of techniques of bringing just a touch of that oakiness.  At New Kent they blend a little traditional oaked wines with the main batch (done in “neutral tanks”).  The result is one of the most impressive Chardonnays I’ve ever had.  Smooth, wonderful flavors and just a touch of that bite to it.  (I actually might have liked this a tiny bit better than the Norton, but I was out-voted)

White Merlot – done with the Merlot grape but without the skins remaining in contact with the wine for long resulting in a lovely pale wine with the flavors of Merlot.

Meritage – a blend of red varieties in the Bordeaux style.  We have really liked the Meritages we’ve tried but this one was fine but not outstanding.  Would gladly open one with friends.

2013 Vidal Blanc – finished in a very close finish with the Meritage.  A fruity white that was fine but didn’t make us want to go back again.

The top two were clear of the rest of the field, the Merlot held the middle ground and the other two finished rather farther back.

There were a couple other wineries at the event:

Williamsburg Winery – We really like 2013 Vidal Blanc.  Crisp with some fruit and citrus flavors.  Not far behind was the A Midsummer Nights White, a blend of Traminette, Vidal Blanc, Petit Manseng and Viognier.  We’ve run into the Viognier graper here before.  There are a couple varietals that are new to us that seem relatively common in Virginia wines.  A very pleasant “porch” wine.  We were not impressed with the 2012 Lord Botetourt Red.  We have a couple Williamsburg wines we really like but the staff at the tent here was less than impressive.  Really seemed to be “Let’s push this through as fast as possible mode”.

Saudé Creek – a bit of a crush here.  Several of the wines seemed interesting but couldn’t really give them a fair taste.  We’ll have to catch them again.  Staff did a fine job with the madness.

James River Cellars – we’ve tried them before (and visited the winery! Although it appears I didn’t blog about it.  Will have to go back to remedy that).  Staff did a nice job, it wasn’t too insane but nothing jumped out at me on this visit.  It was interesting, they offered their 2012 Chambourcin both chilled and at room temperature.  Very different, I preferred it at room temp.

Still so much more to explore!

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