28 September 2021

Book Review: The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

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Here's my review as it appears on Goodreads.

The Winter PeopleThe Winter People by Jennifer McMahon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I admit, it took me a couple chapters to really get into this book, and that was after it sat on my TBR pile for over a year before I even picked it up. I was a little confused with some of the jumps in time and changes in POV at first. But once I got into it, I could not put this book down. I am a sucker for haunted New England stories (having grown up in haunted New England and having a few stories of my own).

Things that go bump in the night. Mysterious deaths and disappearances. We know from the start that something gruesome and supernatural is occurring. Jumps in time between the early 20 Century and the present day help the reader put the pieces together between ancient witchcraft and modern logic. You will close this book afraid to find out what that noise in the closet might be. (Probably the cat... but what if it's not?) Not all the loose ends are neatly tied at the end of the book, leaving the (closet) door open to the possibility the story is not over.

For me, reading about a cold Vermont winter kept me cool on hot summer afternoons. I suggest you also find a warm place to read this chilling tale.

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I purchased this book myself on sale at a Barnes & Noble. I was not compensated for this review.

28 January 2019

Motivation Monday: Meh.

Many weeks I write my Motivation Monday post over the weekend and schedule it to publish early on Monday morning. Not this week. I'm writing it early Monday morning before I get into the swing of the morning rush for school, followed by running, followed by working, followed by after-school activities. Assuming Kiddo doesn't wake up sick this morning. She's had some mild cold symptoms.

After the pep talk I gave myself in last week's post, I completely did not follow my own advice. Prioritizing running was hard last week. Work, weather, the school schedule. Sure, it's all excuses that I could have risen above but I didn't. Because I'm human.

This is a new week. I'm looking ahead to possible sick days and snows days. I did some meal prep over the weekend so that I can spend the time on running, working, and parenting without having to worry about decently healthy breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. One day soon I'll write a whole post on meal prepping. I do it in a rather slow and lazy way. You will not find a hundred matching single-serve containers in my freezer. So stay tuned for that!

As you can see I didn't come anywhere near last week's mileage goal. I'm going to try again this week. Look at the weather, Tuesday is the warmest day this week and I'd like to do a long run then, hopefully getting out there before the rain drops, and possibly snowflakes, start falling.

21 January 2019

Motivation Monday: Shutdown

I figured out how to add my stats to a photo!
This week the shutdown really started to get to me. We are not as bad off as some other families but it is definitely affecting our moods and our spending habits. And we have our own sort of survival guilt over the things we have to be thankful for, because other people don't have some of those things.

I'm continuing with my training for my spring races. Every day I say to myself that I could be using the time for one more hour of work that could make us a little more money. But then I say to myself that the race registrations are already paid for, so not training and then not being able to run the races would be a waste of money. And, realistically, my brain needs that hour off from writing and emails and worry.

If you see someone running or working out, in real life or on social media, don't roll your eyes and wonder why they're doing that when they should be working / parenting / whatever else you think they should be doing. Twenty-three hours out of the day, they may be doing those other things, plus hopefully getting some sleep. A lot of us are hustling right now for a variety of reasons. Give people their hour to run and shower. And examine how much time you're spending on social media before you question someone else's use of time.

Winter is socked in here. I did get outside this week and I plan to whenever it's feasible. I also finally figured out the trick of getting your running stats printed on the bottom of your photo. This has eluded me for years and it may be a small thing, but I'm tickled by it.

I'm not a huge treadmill fan but I'm warming up to it and can do about an hour if I have a good podcast to listen to. I've said this before, but one thing I will never do is call it the "dreadmill." I will also never use the term "junk miles" to refer to any run. Using negative terms puts my mind into failure mode before I've even started the run. I'm reframing it as a mental challenge. This is what has to be done in order to get in the training I need or the workout I need. It should be no different than any other workout that I'm not in the mood for. Why should I put an additional layer of negativity on it?

Thanks to those treadmill miles I reached my goal for this week, and a little extra because I felt good.

16 January 2019

Chapter Two: A Sight: A Tale of Two Cities with Women

For background on the project and to see all the chapters at once, go to the tag A Tale of Two Cities Project.

Book Two: The Golden Thread
Chapter Two: A Sight

“You know the Old Bailey well, no doubt?” said one of the oldest of clerks to Jenny the messenger.

“Ye-es, ma’am,” returned Jenny, in something of a dogged manner. “I do know the Bailey.”

“Just so. And you know Ms. Lorry.”

“I know Ms. Lorry, ma’am, much better than I know the Bailey. Much better,” said Jenny, not unlike a reluctant witness at the establishment in question, “than I, as a honest tradeswoman, wish to know the Bailey.”

“Very well. Find the door where the witnesses go in, and show the door-keeper this note for Ms. Lorry. She will then let you in.”

“Into the court, ma’am?”

“Into the court.”

14 January 2019

Motivation Monday: Sick

Last week's meager mileage
Training program for the last week = rest while I get over what might have been strep throat. I did nothing last week. I did a little work, but I work from home so that was mostly done from the couch. I napped a lot. I drank lots of water and decaf tea. My doctor gave me prescription-strength ibuprofen to help with some of the aches and pains until a strep throat diagnosis could be confirmed or ruled out. The rapid test only tests for one strain, so I had to wait several days for results to come in to see if I had one of the other strains.

I didn't. I just had a weird cold that was acting more like strep throat. I'm starting to feel well enough for some easy running.

But now it's snowing. I had planned on January being a base-mileage month for me and I was prepared to get those miles outside, even if it was cold. I had wanted to get as many of them in as possible before the snow started because, yes, even with Yak Trax, I'm afraid to run on slippery roads, sidewalks, and paths. I've fallen too many times and as I'm getting older, those bumps and bruises hurt more and take longer to heal. I know everyone who gives me advice on running outside in bad weather means well, but there are times when I'm not going to take the chance.

I'm not the kind of person who can run through a cold, either. Not always, at least. When my body says "Sleep," I sleep. When my body says, "I'm a little uncomfortable but could handle an easy run," I go for that easy run. There's way too much "Just do it! Tough it out! Don't be a wimp!" and not enough "Listen to your body and rest when you need it," in running these days. It's a main reason I stay out of most online running groups and forums. I don't want to be made to feel bad about my decision to rest when I'm sick. I've been running since I was 15 and these kinds of comments can still get to me. I can only imagine how hurtful and damaging they might be to a newcomer to the sport. We should be encouraging new runners to listen to their bodies. Let them have their own series of trials and errors to figure out what's right for them. Encouragement to move combined with empathy for an injury or illness that prevents the workout from getting done.

So I rested for a week. And I will be getting treadmill miles done if I don't feel comfortable going outside in certain conditions. And I will be comfortable with my limitations and my goals, and when I'm no longer comfortable with them, I will change them. 

09 January 2019

Chapter One: Five Years Later: A Tale of Two Cities with Women

For background on the project and to see all the chapters at once, go to the tag A Tale of Two Cities Project.

Book Two: The Golden Thread
Chapter One: Five Years Later

Tellson’s Bank by Temple Bar was an old-fashioned place, even in the year one thousand seven hundred and eighty. It was very small, very dark, very ugly, very incommodious. It was an old-fashioned place, moreover, in the moral attribute that the partners in the House were proud of its smallness, proud of its darkness, proud of its ugliness, proud of its incommodiousness. They were even boastful of its eminence in those particulars, and were fired by an express conviction that, if it were less objectionable, it would be less respectable. This was no passive belief, but an active weapon which they flashed at more convenient places of business. Tellson’s (they said) wanted no elbow-room, Tellson’s wanted no light, Tellson’s wanted no embellishment. Noakes and Co.’s might, or Snooks Partners might; but Tellson’s, thank Heaven--!

07 January 2019

Motivation Monday: Five Trail Races Between March and May

The whole family got muddy on New Year's Day, me trail running
and Mike and Muffin mountain biking.
Last year I ran around somewhat aimlessly, just trying to recover from injury while still wanting to run the Army Ten Miler. I had no real training plan, other than going to my chiropractor regularly and making sure to do yoga and strength training. After a Did Not Finish at the Blessing ten-mile race in Narragansett in July, I was more determined to pay attention to my injury and caring for it. I also started looking at my diet, too. I absolutely did not have to lose weight and that was not my goal. However, eating a little healthier has not only given me strength for injury recovery and running more, but jeans and t-shirts that were beginning to feel uncomfortably tight started feeling comfortable again.

With injury prevention and running more in mind, I came to the realization that I was bored running on roads. Last spring I'd started seeking out trails to run on a regular basis and began enjoying it more than my road runs. The slower pace seems to suit my aging body without exacerbating injuries. So I started looking at trail races in the area. I found that Virginia has tons of them. After doing a bit of research, I decided to sign up for The North Face Endurance Challenge half-marathon distance at the end of April. Once I signed up for that, Facebook started advertising even more trail races in my feed. They are all so tempting. When I came across the Backyard Burn trail race series, I saw that they had a five-mile option for each of the four races. Three of the races occur before TNFEC so I thought that shorter races would give me the feel for trail racing without taxing my training at all. So I signed up for all four in the series during the early registration discount period. The last one is the weekend after TNFEC. I figure even if I'm still exhausted from the half marathon the weekend before, I can still fast walk it within the time limit and get my series finisher prize.

Weekly and yearly mileage as of
Saturday, January 5
January is my base mileage month. I'm already eating tons of food and taking naps at every chance. I'm setting small goals and taking it day by day. I'm doing a lot of yoga. I'm managing my time and planning and prepping meals as much as I can.

I don't plan on running the Army Ten Miler this year. After three years I'm ready to try something else. There's a fall Backyard Burn series as well. Maybe by then I'll be ready to run all four of them at the ten-mile distance rather than five.

For now, it's one day at a time. Run, eat, sleep, repeat. Work and parent and be a good partner in between those, too.