Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me!

ss850070web1     Today marked 47 years I've lived on this earth, and despite the usual ups and downs of life, I have to admit so far it's been a beautiful ride. Much of the reason for this is the fact that I'm happily married to the love of my life, and being able to share yet another birthday with him - and our four loving pets, Spyder, Zoe, Andy and Venus - makes my birthday even more of a celebration.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Women's Mountain Bike Clinic

dscn3899web Despite the cold and blustery winds, around 30 ladies showed up today for the Women's Mountain Bike Clinic held at Lake Crabtree. In the park's free-play field area, participants learned cornering, balance and log-crossing techniques and then headed into the bike trails to put their newfound skills to practical use on guided rides. I saw many smiling faces, and hope the women who came out found the clinic useful and left inspired to ride their bikes more often with all the new friends they met today. I also hope that those of us volunteering as leaders were able to offer helpful advice, encouragement and support to the ladies as they learned and practiced techniques to make mountain biking a safer and ideally more enjoyable endeavor.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Thankful

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This Thanksgiving was a very special one. For the first time in our nearly 14 years together, Steve and I were able to share the holiday with both sets of parents at our home. Hopefully the table setting was deserving of the outstanding meal Steve prepared for us, including a multitude of yummy vegetable dishes to accommodate my vegetarian lifestyle.

Despite their somewhat lackluster expressions - probably a result of being unprepared for the camera's surprise appearance  - our parents all got along beautifully and everyone had a delightful visit, even though due to various and sundry circumstances this was their first meeting ever!

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Following dinner, it was time to kick back, relax and enjoy each other's company...

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During this season of thanks, there are many things for which I'm grateful. It would be impossible to list them all, but of note, I'm thankful for:

  • The unconditional love and joy my pets bring into my life

  • My comfortable and cozy home

  • A loving family and precious friends

  • Gainful employment at a meaningful job I enjoy, working with wonderful people

  • My health, sight, hearing, and having the strength and ability to do the many activities I enjoy

  • The courage and compassion of people who rescue, protect, care for and speak out on behalf of animals

  • Having enough food to eat, warmth and shelter

  • Living in a country where things many people would view as luxuries beyond imagination are considered simple conveniences or even necessities

  • Being able to share all these things with the Love of my Life, my husband Steve

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Heel of a Race

dsc_5751web1    This afternoon and evening, Steve, Brian Hubley and myself competed as a Trio in the Heel of a Race, a 6-hour mountain bike race at Carolina North Forest in Chapel Hill. We ended up in third place of three trio teams, but had a fantastic time, despite the fact that today's temps were close to record-breaking cold! Our team also volunteered to serve as course marshals between laps, and the good folks putting on the race couldn't have been more hospitable, bringing us coffee, hot cocoa, sandwiches and hand warmers. Unfortunately, I never saw any of the photographers on course while I was riding, but luckily Steve captured a few of pictures of me and I got a couple of him and one of Brian, posted in my photo gallery. The trails at Carolina North Forest are a challenging mix of fast cruising sections, lung-collapsing steep climbs, rocks, breathtaking descents, narrow angled bridges, rocks, multiple log crossings of various sizes, rocks, hairpin turns, roots, twisty spiral wooden berms, and did I mention rocks? By my best estimate, the race course was close to nine miles, but it sure felt like a lot more, especially in today's bitter cold. I'm glad I had such good teammates with whom to spend the day. Thanks Team P-Nutz and Hair Dooz!

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Friday, November 14, 2008

I’m Back!

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Wow - I didn’t realize I’d been away so long. I try to keep this site up to date, but sometimes life happens and so many things demand my attention that unfortunately my blog has to take a back seat. But I’m back, and this time with a lot of updates!

After being unemployed for several months - really scary, I must admit - I finally landed a job this past June in Public Water Supply, which I absolutely love. I get to work with some wonderful people and am learning a lot about our environment. I never used to think about the many people working so hard behind the scenes to ensure that when I turn on the faucet, clean, safe water comes out. This job has been a real eye-opener for me. Plus I’m obviously extremely grateful to have a job at all - that was a frightening several months with no income and no insurance…

Steve celebrated his birthday on June 28. I don’t know how he does it, but he seems to get younger looking and more handsome with each passing year!

In July, we got some new next-door neighbors and they are just the best! A very friendly and fun couple with an amazingly polite beautiful teenage daughter, as well as a gorgeous black lab mix named Snoopy. Snoopy is still getting used to Spyder and Zoe, but they’re starting to play together some now, which is so cute to see.

Steve and I competed in Cary’s WWTA Adult Tennis Tournament in mid-July and although we lost our matches, I thought we played well, especially considering we had to play at a higher level than we’re ranked due to no other 2.5 level players entering.

After road biking regularly throughout the summer, we decided to compete in the BMW Mountain Bike Series race at Harris Lake in August. I ended up third in Sport Women overall for the series (but only because there were just three sport women IN the series - doh!). I had forgotten how tough mountain bike racing is after being away from it for a while - either women riders are getting stronger or I’m getting slower, or some combination of both! It was a lot of fun, though, to get back out there again, and the new bike certainly contributed to that.

In September, Steve raced in the inaugural Wake Forest Downtown Criterium. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring the camera, but trust me, he looked great! )

Zoe had a second cancerous tumor removed from her leg, but is doing surprisingly well. She feels good, has a normal appetite, and is even playful at times. Not too shabby for a 13-year-old lab mix!

This fall we ended up buying a used treadmill, and I have to admit I’ve actually been enjoying it. I’m still mostly walking on it (don’t worry, I’m walking fast for me, at about 4 mph), but have been trying to intersperse some running in there as well. The older I get, the more difficult it seems to maintain a good weight and fitness level, but I’ve been aiming for at least four days per week on the treadmill, along with some free weights, tennis and of course, biking.

In early October, I competed in the Curse at the Crab 6-hour endurance race at Lake Crabtree County Park in Solo Women. I ended up in fifth, which was also last place in my category, but at least I was only a couple of laps down from the winner. I think for not having trained, that wasn’t too bad. Joe Miller blogged about the race HERE

On the writing front, I haven’t been doing a lot of freelance since I’m now gainfully employed full-time. However, I did land a contract that involved writing a fitness article for Brier Creek Magazine, slated to be published December 1, so keep an eye out for that!

We’ve been fortunate to have some really nice weather even this late into the year, so I’ve been taking full advantage of that and enjoying the new bike and spending some quality time in the woods. Who knows, I might even decide to tackle another race one of these days, especially since Joe Miller decided apparently to grant me one more chance at my “15 minutes of fame”

Racing or not, though, I’ve been truly enjoying biking again, and between the terrific people I’ve met on the trails lately and the new bike, I can’t think of a better way to spend my free time.

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Back on the Trail

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Thanks to the folks at Trek Bicycles of Raleigh (our friendly local bike shop), I’m enjoying cycling through the wooded trails once again. It’s been a long time since I’ve enjoyed mountain biking this much, but my new Trek EX8 WSD ex82 definitely is helping me find the fun in trail riding once again, not to mention increasing my comfort and confidence a thousand-fold. Watch out cycling world - I think I just may be back!

Survivor

zoeweb Following the rupture of a tumor on her hind leg and subsequent surgery to remove it last month, the biopsy results are back.

It appears that our Zoe is now officially a cancer survivor. Currently several weeks out from her surgery to remove the histiocytic sarcoma, she is doing amazingly well. In fact, she has pretty much healed from the incision and definitely feeling much better and in great spirits. All that remains now is for the hair to grow back over the surgical scar. Our deepest gratitude to all the wonderful vets and staff at Heartwood Animal Hospital for saving her life.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Happy Birthday Venus

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Happy First Birthday to Mama’s Little Princess! Enjoy your day Baby Girl!
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Monday, March 31, 2008

Happy Anniversary

Today we celebrate eight years of marriage, and I love you more and more each day. You’re the best part of my life, and I love you. Happy Anniversary honey!

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Friday, March 28, 2008

Happy Birthday Andy

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Happy Second Birthday Andy! For all the joy and laughter you bring us, I hope you have a wonderful birthday, my little snugglebug!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Happy Valentine’s Day

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Since Steve was invited to be a guest speaker at a conference with his job, we spent the end of last week and this past weekend in Asheville at the Grove Park Inn where the conference was held. It was a beautiful lead-in to a lovelyValentine’s Day and we had a wonderful time visiting with friends and family.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

I’ve Moved - Again

Every woman should be so lucky as to have a husband who is as endlessly patient and supportive as mine. Steve has worked tirelessly over the past few days to move my professional Web site to TAMMYKAUFMAN.COM. Thanks sweetie (hmmm, maybe you’re both Spiderman AND Superman all rolled into one) - You’re the Best!

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Rise and Shine!

Each morning daybreak tiptoes through my bedroom window, nudging me on the shoulder. And each morning, I pretend to ignore it, turning my face to the darkest corner of the room where night still clings. But the wee hours of dawn have accomplices in my bedroom. I’m yanked from the arms of slumber by 16 pounds of house cat flopping across my chest with a resounding “whump”, followed by the slap of fur as a tail methodically pummels my face. Attempting to escape this feline flogging, I turn my attention to the soft trilling chirp now emanating from my left hip. I can feel the rhythmic squeezing of kitten fingers on my knee, but all I see is a flat-panel truckload of silver tabby tummy waiting to be stroked. Draping her chin across my leg, Momma’s Little Princess gazes up lovingly and reminds me that “bellies are for petting”. On sitting up to reach kitty’s tum-tum for some early morning scratching, I dislodge the cat loaf from my chest who now rolls into my lap, spilling toes and whiskers in every direction. This ruckus awakens the dog, of course. All 70 pounds of him proceeds to stretch, stiffening his legs and firmly entrenching the claw hammers at the ends of his toes into my ribs. He drapes his head across my neck and sticks out his tongue at the wad of cat still wallowing in my lap, who promptly spits at the dog and jumps off the bed. Stopping at the bedroom door to toss a challenging glance over his shoulder, the living Halloween cat cut-out then leaps into the air and charges down the hall, with kitten and dog in hot pursuit. The trio races across the wood floors, drifting through every turn with speed that would make a Formula One driver envious. I lie in bed for a few seconds more and almost drift back to sleep, when I hear the shatter of something I’m sure is important crashing to the floor in the living room - or my home office. I know when I reach the site of the disaster, I’ll be greeted by three innocent “It was like that when we got here” faces, but I clamber out of bed and greet the day anyway. Time to rise and shine.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Kaleidoscopes!

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A friend introduced me to the wonderful world of photo editing and taught me how to make kaleidoscopes out of everyday photographs. Needless to say, I’ve been having a blast turning pictures of my fur-babies into WORKS OF ART. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

I Married Spiderman!

The secret is out and his hidden identity has been revealed, as apparently I married Spiderman!

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Steve and I just returned from our fabulous trip to Las Vegas where we attended the wedding of his brother, Jonathan to the beautiful and charming Naoko.

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While there, it was such a joy to see the family again and meet some of Jon’s delightfully entertaining friends and colleagues. We also visited the Hoover Dam and the Valley of Fire which were both breathtaking. As usual, Steve took hundreds of photos, some of which are available in my gallery HERE.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Dreams Don’t Die

Sometimes they are crushed, trampled, broken, ignored, forgotten or ridiculed. We may think they die, but that’s because we often we confuse our dreams with expectations we think others have of us. Don’t believe me? Look at the dreams you’ve had throughout your life. Have they changed over time? Is there one in particular that seems to stay with you, perhaps something you always thought you’d like to be or do if you ever got the chance? Something that has remained hidden in the recesses of your mind, but you never could quite shake? That’s your real dream, the one that cries for attention and without which you feel lost, unfulfilled and alone.

Let me give you an example. When I was a child I had a variety of dreams, things I wanted to be when I grew up – an astronaut, a veterinarian, a writer, a ballerina, a pony. As a teen and young adult, my aspirations changed somewhat to include artist, writer, musician, millionaire. Moving into adulthood, I found myself drifting toward athlete, writer, dancer. At midlife, those priorities changed to writer, homemaker and businesswoman (yes, you can be both). Now that I’m well into the second half of my life, I realize there is a distinctive pattern in those dreams. Do you see it? Notice the one thing that has remained consistent throughout the list, the only change being how much closer it moves to the front.

When I was small, I remember watching the first moon landing on television and spending many hours playing with our family dogs. Thus, my ideals focused on astronaut and veterinarian. However, upon entering the teenage years, my natural inclination as the oldest child was to follow in the footsteps of my mother who was then establishing her career as a freelance artist. So it makes sense that the first item of priority on my dreams list at that time would be artist as well. When I met my husband, it truly was love at first sight and I felt an instant connection with him that has never wavered in over 13 years. My soulmate and greatest source of encouragement, he is also a talented athlete, and it is no surprise that early in our relationship I jettisoned athlete to the front of the aspirations list.

Despite all these transformations in my list of dreams, however, one thing has remained constant. From my earliest memory to the present moment, I have always steadfastly wanted to be a writer. In fact, I have always believed I was a writer – something I can’t honestly say about any of my other dreams. Oh, Iwanted to be an astronaut. Or an artist. Or even an athlete. But I never really believed I was any of those things. I have forever yearned to be a writer, though, and felt empty and lost when I couldn’t, for whatever reason, put pen to paper.

And I believe that is what separates a dream from an expectation. You must believe in your dream and know that it always has been and always will be a part of you. It has to reside deeply and permanently in your heart, independent of what else is happening in your life at any particular time. Most importantly, it should inspire you, motivate you, refresh your spirit and give you a sense of being alive. No matter what else anyone may expect or demand of you, your dream must uplift you with a joyous sense of wonder and awe at this amazing creation that is you.

But understand that your dream cannot survive without nourishment. You must cultivate and encourage it if you want it to thrive. I keep a promise to myself to write for at least ten minutes every day, without fail. Sometimes it’s more. In fact, often it’s more. Just like an athlete trains her muscles or a musician perfects his scales, I practice my writing. It’s a gift I give myself, freeing my creativity and encouraging my Muse to visit often and linger just a bit more each time. Once you discover your dream, cherish and nourish it. It’s your gift and it’s worth treasuring.