Be the Good.

I never write about politics here, on LinkedIn, or any other social media platforms.  The reason is that while I love to debate I hate to argue, and both politics and religion are two areas you can typically  count on people getting mean and unreasonably argumentative if you let the conversation go on long enough.

But after last night’s election I, like a lot of other people, really feel a need to express my opinion. I went to sleep last night secure in my belief that although I know some Americans can be self centered and unkind the vast majority of us are good people who would not step on others to get what they want.  Although I was a little worried, I didn’t really think Trump had a chance of being our next president. Sure, a lot of reasonable people I know supported him, but come on.  I was wrong.

I was honestly shocked and depressed all day.  I don’t agree with a majority of Trump’s political views, but that’s just part of living in a democracy.  The problem I have is with what he stands for.  The problem I have is personal.

I have a son who has always loved to shock people.  He’s said the most outrageous things he could think of since he was old enough to talk.  He’s a teenager now and in spite of  frequent discussions about it simply not being nice he still loves anything with shock value.  Mind you, he’s a great kid who really does emphasize with others and is a truly good person.  He just loves to say things that get a big reaction.

He’s said he was a Trump supporter since day one (since I said how opposed I am to him) and joked about how when Trump won I’d have to carry a ‘woman card’ and wear an apron.  He laughs when he sees Trump say crazy mean and outrageous things, and I think because Trump is not just getting away with being a racist, sexist person in public but is being cheered on for it. I am maybe one of the least emotional people you could meet, but the fact that Trump was elected makes me want to cry. How do I explain to my kids that people like that are not OK and acting like that will get you nowhere when it just got Trump elected?

How do you fight that kind of negative example when it just got someone elected to the highest position in one of the most successful countries in the free world?  After fretting about this all day I still don’t have the words to fix this.  Because there are none.

Maybe that’s OK. I can’t change the world, but then I wasn’t able to change it yesterday either.  Just like yesterday I can only change the little bit of the world directly around me.  I can do more of the things I already do to try and reflect my morals, and look for new ways as well.

I can volunteer my time to do things for causes important to me.  I can reflect my values in my daily life, like I do by being vegetarian. I can stop and talk to the homeless people I pass instead of acting like an entire piece of the human race is invisible. I can attend marches and demonstrations that highlight equality and the importance of each being. I can do things as simple as share information that I find important here, on Facebook, and anywhere else I deem appropriate. And I can hope that doing all of these things as often as possible will help to counteract the hate that my kids see in the world.

I am hopeful that a lot of people do not find Trump’s attitude towards what amounts to anyone not like him or agreeing with him OK. I am also hopeful that those of us who agree on this will stand tall and stand for what is right.  Voting every 4 years is important but it is not enough. We need  to live our values on an every day basis and make sure that our kids see that you don’t have to be in everyone’s face and blatantly offensive to be right.

I do have a huge ray of sunshine in all this.  I fully expected my son to gloat and make jokes all day but the only thing he said all day was “Did you see who won?”.   Not another word was said and he’s actually been really subdued all day.  I’m hoping that as a teenage he kind of considered the whole thing a joke until today. Kind of like a lot of Americans.

Time to move on and move up. Time to be the good.  I’m going to try and make a point of sharing lots of the good here that can find, I think we may need it for a while.  Good like what? Good like the usual. Paddleboarding . Cycling. Being outside. Theater and restaurants and things to do around Tampa. Wine. Yoga. Pizza.  Good things like volunteering, wonderful people, and causes important to me.

This blog already has more than enough subjects, but so be it.  I do have focus though. Focus on being the good.

What can you do to fight hatred and exemplify good?

 

 

 

 

 

Hello World! Tried Chocolate Wine Lately?

So. It’s been a while since I last posted last for various reasons.  Mostly because I’ve gone through round after round of illnesses, nothing noteworthy or hospital worthy (yay!) but enough to make me miss more work, more running, more bicycling and more paddle boarding than I even want to think about. It’s so sad really.

I feel like I’m writing a confessional but it’s been like 3 months since I ran at all and 4 months since I went paddleboarding.  And I was doing so well, going every weekend forever!  Oh well, I think it’s getting time to get back in the swing of things.  How many times have I said that or something similar?

Anyways, that has nothing o do with what I was going to write about today.  I used to have a blog called Wannabe Winos (you know that’s a great name) and though I only wrote in it for about a year I really liked it because I used it as a journal to keep track of different wines I tried and whether they were great and should go on the keeper list or not so much.

Since Kinda Zennish is nothing if not about whatever and I’ve already professed my love of wine (and other fine spirits) I decided that I would combine the two so that I can keep track of my wine preferences again.  If you are a casual drinker of wine then you know that it can be difficult to remember which bottles were the ones you wanted to try again.  Or maybe that’s just an effect of finishing that wine quick enough that it doesn’t go vinegary on you.

Whatever. Anyways…

chocovine

This is the wine I was looking at when I decided to start the blog wine journal. Chocolate wine! How could it not be good?

I poured a glass (screw top bottle, gotta love easy) and sat out in the perfect Florida weather to enjoy.

It was pretty good – in small doses. It’s incredibly sweet and has a consistency more like a liqueur than wine. You can taste the red wine in the background, and very sweet chocolate in the front. I don’t think it would be good with any food except maybe not too sweet cookies like biscotti. Unfortunately I can’t stand biscotti so straight wine it is.

I think this wine would be best for special occasions when you want to pick up something different for friends to try. Anyone have a suggestion of what would be served with chocolate wine for family and friends?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dog Days Virtual Run

I recently (and finally) began getting back into running.  I’m taking it super slow for the simple reason that barefoot running kind of requires that.

My life is full of coincidences, and so soon after I started running again Level Up Runs took me on as an ambassador.  They’re a company ran by runners who offer virtual runs with fun medals to help keep you motivated.  I do love to get some bling for my running, who doesn’t?

I skipped the first few races because I was so recently back to running, but I’m not missing the next one! They’re having an August Dog Days run, and  for every entry, Level Up will be donating a toy, blanket, or a dog bowl to the Second Chance Dog Rescue in San Diego, Ca. Running, a medal and helping a good cause all in one.  Can’t beat that! The run is $25 if you are in the US, you can get more information and sign up here.

Check out the medal design for the run, who doesn’t love Lady? And Stitch, though I don’t think he actually qualifies as a dog.

Medal

 

Exploring the Mangrove Islands

Fred Howard Park is a favorite of mine to paddleboard from.  There are a lot of different areas to explore depending on which direction you decide to go in.  Last weekend we decided to take off straight out and up towards a bunch of mangrove islands that we couldn’t see from where we were but knew where there thanks to Google maps.

We basically paddled from the dinosaur’s hand to right over his head.

Mangrove islands are a lot of fun to paddle around because they are full of birds, schools of fish, and usually quite a few rays as well.

The one thing they don’t often have is a place to stop and walk around.  Mangroves tend to make a place a bit unfriendly to walk.  Those are basically sharp sticks growing up all over the open ground.  Even if it wasn’t horrible karma to go through there breaking everything, ouch.  Beautiful though.

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As a result I was kind of excited (like a 5 year old is kind of excited to see a bunny) when I saw this:

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Those are real, actual not mangrove trees towering over the mangroves.  Definitely worth investigating. We paddled almost all the way around the island before finding a small beach. And some fellow paddlers.

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There was a nice sized clearing of sand and even a patio table and old grill someone had brought in.  Of course there was also the mandatory ‘people have partied here and left their shit behind’ trash but it seems that is everywhere, regardless of how remote a place may seem.  There was even a used-to-be-nice huge tent tangled in the trees.  I get the feeling that wasn’t put there on purpose.

The people we ran into were pretty cool and said there’s another island close by that someone had actually built a bar on.  Sounds like a place we’ll have to find!

 

 

Running Belt Review

Does anyone in the world make affordable workout pants with an actual pocket in them big enough for a phone? I used to have yoga pants with a key pocket in them, but I still had to hold my phone if I want to take it to track my runs or just in case of emergency.  Actually, why lie, I just like to track every run, bike ride, and even paddleboarding lately just  because.

Anyways, Level Up VR asked me if I’d like to try a running belt at no cost in exchange for an honest review and I decided it would be fun to try.  I have to admit though, I wasn’t too excited about it because I don’t like wearing anything (besides clothes) I don’t have to, I don’t even wear a watch and only rarely wear jewelry because things on me tend to annoy me. But how are you going to know if you don’t try?  And I COULD use a place to carry things.

I tried it the first time on a run, I just put my phone and a key in the belt. I was a little concerned that the GPS wouldn’t track correct through the water resistant material, but all was good.  As I mentioned, I was concerned about comfort but I actually FORGOT I was wearing it!  That’s just about the definition of comfort if you ask me.

I’ve also worn it hiking and cycling, and although cycling is a completely different  range of movements I again forgot I was wearing it.  That time I tested it’s limits a bit more, I had not only my phone but also a cord and portable charger in the pocket.  I’m not saying I tried playing Pokemon Go with it, I’m just saying if I had it would have worked. And had room to spare.  :)

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One other feature it has that’s pretty nice is a line of lights that you can set to blink slow or fast or just stay on.  I live in an area with a strangely large number of horrible drivers, so an added safety feature like that is always appreciated.

The folks at Level Up were kind enough to give me a 50% off code for anyone interested in purchasing the belt, you can find it on Amazon here and the code is RCE5FGY8. If you try it let me know what you think!

 

 

 

Happy World Oceans Day!

World Oceans Day has been recognized by the United Nations since 2009. Before that it had been coordinated by The Ocean Project since 2002 and celebrated on a smaller scale even before that.

A different theme is chose each year, this year it is Healthy Oceans, Healthy Planet.

The oceans make up enough of this planet that I think it goes without saying that we can’t have one without the other.

The push this year is to use less disposable plastic.  They aren’t talking about not using any plastic at all – that’s pretty much impossible at this time.  Think about the one use plastic items that you use on a daily basis.  At first I thought it was a fairly easy challenge, but then I looked at the Marine Conservation Society’s Plastic Challenge Tip Swap and holy crap. It’s not just grocery bags that we throw away on a daily basis.  Its trash bags, toothpaste containers, milk/tea/gallon water containers, liquid soap, shampoo and conditioner bottles, the plastic that heads of lettuce and grape tomatoes come in, the list goes on forever.  It’s actually pretty intimidating. But what isn’t intimidating is choosing just one thing for now.  Maybe stop using straws, start using loose tea instead of tea bags, or bring your own bags to the grocer (not the most fun BYOB but still).

Personally I am going to try very hard to actually remember to bring in the stash of cloth bags I have had in my trunk for ages and to bring a net bag on my paddleboard for picking up trash I come across.  On Memorial Day I actually ran across an empty Cheetos bag floating in the water.  Really?

ownday-dolphin

If you are bummed you didn’t find out about World Ocean’s Day sooner no worries, President Obama just proclaimed June as National Oceans Month.  So pick a one use plastic item and see how long you can go without using it.  And when you get used to going without that item pick another.  Because the oceans don’t just need us to keep them clean and healthy just one day or even just one month a year.

What one use plastic item can you do without?

 

 

World Oceans Day at Mote Aquarium

I’d never been to Mote Aquarium, though I do love aquariums.  It’s almost 2 hours from my house so I can’t exactly just drop in.  But with the celebration of World Oceans Day as an excuse I was in. My almost 15 year old hates car rides longer than 15 minutes so much you’d think he was allergic but to my surprise both of my teenagers wanted to go to and seemed excited about it.

When you first go into Mote’s Aquarium you enter a big room full of aquariums containing fish both native to Florida and invasive to Florida, like the lionfish, that are in our local waters.  Lionfish are beautiful, but they have such a detrimental effect on the native fish and therefore the reef habitat that people are encouraged to catch them with no limit and there are even cookbooks focused solely on lionfish dishes.  Just another reason for me to be happy to be a vegetarian.  :)

Tanks I love the clown fish and the starfish, but I’d say my favorite was the jellyfish.  We even happened to be there when they where being fed, which was interesting and very cool.

Jelly Collage

After we went through this area we went outside where they had shark exhibits (I love hammerhead sharks!) and where they where they had a ton of booths to give information on ways we can help avoid polluting the oceans, what to do to avoid hurting loggerhead turtle hatchlings (I didn’t realize how important it is to fill in any holes you dig at the beach to avoid trapping them) and all kinds of family friendly activities like  face painting, making bracelets and necklaces, temporary tattoos (got some!) and listening to a cool band whose instruments where all made of trash.

crowds Collage

After we talked to all of the people at the various booths we went across the street to the mammal area.   This is where you can see the otters, giant turtles, and manatees.  Awesome!

One great thing about this aquarium is that there are people all over telling you all about the individual animal’s backstories and how they got to the aquarium.  We were told not just how the manatees got to be at the aquarium, but also little tidbits about their personalities.  It was just one more reminder of how all animals have a personality beyond just what is known of their species in general or expected behaviors.

Random Collage For the record, otters are crazy hard to get a picture of underwater,  they are so fast!  I don’t know a thing about otters but they seem like such playful creatures it’s hard to stop watching them and walk away.

If you’d like to visit the aquarium Mote is located at 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway, Sarasota, FL 34236.  Mote is an independent, nonprofit marine science institution dedicated to research. It’s a great opportunity to support a great cause by having a great time that your entire family will enjoy, even my finicky teenagers.  Who can’t get behind that?

I received 2 tickets to the aquarium as a member of Tampa Bay Bloggers and their partnership with Mote Aquarium in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own, of course.

Weeki Wachee

My daughter has been bugging me like crazy to take her paddleboarding.  That sounds like a no brainer, but I usually go super early in the morning, way before the rental places open and I usually don’t have to pay anything since I have a board.  Free is good for a favorite pastime, right?

But I love the fact that she’s interested in it so we decided to find place to rent boards and go a little later than usual.  My partner in crime and my daughter immediately conspired (this is a common thing, I can’t win) and after much Googling and mapping told me that Weeki Wachee is closer than my usual paddling site (Fred Howard Park) and they found a place that rents boards as early as 8 am.

What?

Weeki Wachee is the faraway land of mermaids, manatees and clear blue waters.  I always think of it as being in the same area as Crystal River, about an hour + drive from home, and a place where no one rents anything earlier than about 10.

Weeki 1

I couldn’t argue with that, so we reserved our boards and off we went to The Kayak Shack.  I gotta say, if you’re going to spend the money to rent boards this is the way to go.  They have plenty of stress free parking and really nice people working there (plus a couple of huge, gentle dogs that may or may not be part of the staff).  They load you up in a van and drop you and the boards off about 5.5 miles up the river.  You get on and can just drift/paddle down the river as you choose until you get back to the shack.  In the few places you have a choice of paddling left or right there are very clear signs letting you know which way to go.  If you are feeling lazy you can literally just drift the entire way.  If you don’t stop to get in the perfectly clear water (don’t be foolish, jump in!) you will get back in three to four hours with zero effort.  Don’t want be on the water that long?  Paddle and you’ll get there sooner.

If you prefer to bring your own board I was told there is a place nearby open to the public to put in, I’ll let you know where after we bring our boards up and find it.  Paddling upstream is quite a challenge in some places, so be certain to start off going upstream so that you can relax a bit on the way back.

Weeki 2

One thing to make note of – a few sections of the river are INFESTED with yellow biting flys.  These things are no joke.  We brought cream bug repellent and all of us look like we have chicken pocks on our legs and are occasionally still crazy itchy, especially after being in the heat.  Bring bug repellent SPRAY, not cream so that after playing in the water you can immediately spray more on.  I usually don’t use bug repellent but I was ready to drink the stuff it it would have helped.  After I got home I bought a bottle of extra DEET camping bug spray and a bottle of all natural stuff, next time I go I’m testing both and will let yo know if the natural stuff works.  Cross your fingers for the natural stuff working. Either way, this stuff is right up there with sun screen for must haves if you go paddling at Weeki Wachee.

Paddling this river is like paddling in paradise – clear blue water, huge fish swimming under you, the occasional manatee and scenery right out of a movie.  We even had a raccoon following us along for a few minutes!

If you get the opportunity you should definitely visit Weeki Wachi.  If paddleboarding isn’t your thing you can also rent canoes and kayaks, or go see the mermaids!  I have yet to see a mermaid…

 

 

Reload – 1 on 1 Firearms Instruction

When I was in my teens and early twenties I used to go target shooting with friends out in the desert.  We shot pop cans off rocks and that sort of thing. The gun was always handed to me loaded and then handed back after I was done.The only mention I remember about safety was to keep the butt of the rifle snug against your shoulder so you didn’t end up with a huge bruise from the recoil.

Recently my younger son  and I have toyed with the idea of going to a range and shooting (no deserts or wide open spaces in Florida!) but to be honest I was a little nervous about the idea as neither of us has a clue and so made the parental call that we would, but we both had to take a basic class first. And then we just sort of talked about it on random occasions for about a year.

Recently a new range opened in Tarpon Springs, Reload Quality Indoor Shooting Range so we decided to check it out.The place already has a ton of reviews, most of them outstanding.

They only offer a couple of types if classes right now because they are so new. One is the 1 on 1 firearms instruction which sounded perfect so we went ahead and signed up. I’ve never been to a gun range so I had no idea what to expect, except it would probably be loud.

Walking into ReLoad was kind of like walking into a big name running store.  It’s huge, clean, and full of aisles of things that you probably know all about if you’re into that kind of thing, but are otherwise interesting and totally worth looking at even if you know you don’t need any of this stuff.  They even have a big section of conceal carry purses.  I didn’t even know that was a thing. Wine purses on the other hand…

ReLoad

Anyways we signed the wavers on line and since we were a little early we sat at one of the the tables by the food place.  Yes, they have food.  It isn’t completely set up yet but the guy there said will be basically an extension of Shlomo’s Gourmet Subs and Deli in there. They’ll even have falafel sandwiches.  Who would have thought the time would come when I could go target shooting and have a great vegetarian meal under the same roof? I was already impressed before the class even started.

So the class starts in the training room with the instructor telling you the basic safety things to know, how to hold the gun, and answering any questions you have.  This part was fairly short and sweet, but there was no rushing and you had plenty of time to ask questions and make sure you understood how to hold the gun and such.  Which was actually a bit more step by step than I expected.

And you know what?  The one thing I thought I knew was wrong, because that place is quiet as can be.

Then on to the range.

Not quite so quiet, but still completely not intimidating. We did all jump at the first shot, but then it was just fun.  The instructor, Marci (I think), was amazing and stood next to us while we took turns shooting giving us tips and telling us how to do each step (I can totally load, and ReLoad a gun now) without once making myself or my son feel like we knew as little as we knew.  That’s pretty dang close to magic when you’re instructing a 14 year old.  Just saying.

Shooting Collage

 

So anyways, if you are near Tarpon Springs and have an interest in learning to shoot but are maybe a little intimidated, this is the place to go.  Check out their 1 on 1 classes, I really think they are a great idea for anyone new to the sport.  Is shooting a sport?  Maybe, my arms did get tired by the end of the night so…

 

 

 

 

 

100/100/3

I was exploring other blogs out there and stumbled across a girl who started a New Year’s challenge for herself to paddleboard 100 miles in 100 days.  A mile a day doesn’t sounds like much, but when you take into account the fact that it’s an activity that you can’t do on a daily basis, it’s weather reliant, and not actually all that close to the house it puts it into perspective a bit.

I liked the idea so much I decided to challenge myself to do the same.

I just started bicycling a couple of weeks ago, so I thought it would be fun to bike 100 miles in that time too.  That’s something I can just go outside and do, as long as it isn’t lightening.  Fun!

Then I decided to sign up for the Dare Greatly Trail half marathons.   It’s 3 halves starting in December.  I mean, ya I’ve never run more than 4 miles and I haven’t run at all in a year, but what the heck, right?

I even made this great banner photo thing for my post.

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Then I announced my super great plans to the boyfriend, aka partner in crime.  (AKA person I’m volunteering to do this with me.) And he used his stupid logic on me.  How many weeks in 100 days? About 14. So that’s less than 7.5 miles a trip.  Easy, right?  We usually paddle about 3 miles, what’s the difference?  Unless, of course, we skip a weekend which is a given considering 5 kids between us. Plus jobs that easily take 50 hours a week. Plus his other job and out frequent non-paddling adventures.  Hmmm, maybe not quite as easy as I thought.

The bike part really should be easy though, we tend to ride the trails near the house about twice a week so that part should be easy peasy. Heck I’ll ride around the block until I hit 100 miles if I have to.

The running, well that’s not a given and not something I’m great at being consistent about. But we have 7 months until the first half, so it’s probably doable. Right? Sure.

So the question is whether or not I should give it a go.  No point trying something you know for a fact you can’t do, but then how do you know if you don’t give it a try?

Any opinions? Are there 3 things that you enjoy doing so much that it would be fun to challenge yourself to do them a lot more than you currently are?