Class Reunion: 2016

The decision to return to the past vis a vis your semi decadal class reunion is sometimes a mixed one.  Personally I went to my 25th, had a phenomenal time along with closure but have no desire for another.  I have however been to eight of my husband’s reunions.  Yes, you read that right eight of them.  And I have had a blast at each and every one.

My first experience was his 20th back in 1986; we had been dating about a year and I was very excited to go.  That reunion (as most all of them have been) was a three  day affair at the beach.  The 20th was both a blast and a blur as we partied the entire weekend.  I was 26 and he was 37.

We missed the 25th but returned to the 30th, 35th, 40th and 45th.  Since classmates were growing older and sadly some were passing the decision was made that this grand old time should be held more often so there was a 46th and a 48th. We recently came back from the big one — his 50th class reunion.  While there was much less partying going on and the weekend is clearly remembered it was just as much fun as the first one 30 years ago…

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The great thing about being from Jacksonville is that you are really close to the beach and the Terry Parker class of 1966 has many fond memories from summers long ago when the development was non existent compared to the hustle bustle of the area today. This one was held at Ponte Vedra beach.  We were among some of the first to arrive.

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I always enjoy the first night of an event weekend since it’s usually a smaller crowd and more time for one on one conversations.  We headed out to a local Italian favorite Caffe Andiamo and the dinner was beyond compare both company and culinary.

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The “pan seared sea scallops wrapped in prosciutto with sauteed spinach, a truffle butter cream sauce and Italian fries” was heavenly.  And uh the creme brulee I shouldn’t have had for dessert was perfectly caramelized.

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Enough about my passion for food.  By Friday morning more of his buds had arrived and plans were made for the start of the day.

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Not everyone was game for a day at the beach but I headed out with Rick and one of his closest buds Ben for a fun afternoon.  Pretty cool to see 2 dudes who’ve been good friends since 1955 still surfing and then getting a game of paddle ball in on the beach.  Not bad for 67 years old.

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That night we headed out to the Beach Diner for dinner and dancing.  We even had a DJ; Ronnie — a classmate that puts on quite the array of music for every reunion.  He takes requests and played mine for ‘Once Bitten Twice Shy’ with a gentle reminder “that’s not from the 60’s”.

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Saturday we spent the morning and afternoon at the beach with another fun filled and action packed day.  Then we styled out and got ready for the big night.  Held at the Sawgrass Beach Club dinner was al fresco overlooking the Atlantic.  The evening was rounded out with socializing down memory lane, reconnecting and of course more music and dancing.

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All good things must come to an end but every reunion is finished off with an ‘until the we meet again’ leisurely breakfast. Terry Parker class of 66′ I feel like I belong.  Been a lot of fun over a lot of years — thanks for making me feel like an honorary member.  See y’all at the 52nd!

Yoga for Type A’s

I know yoga is somewhat good for you.  I wholeheartedly embrace the concept of some form of ‘exercise’ to undo the muscle shortening resulting from heavy weight training be it mobility drills, yoga, tai chi, meditation or the like.  Yes, we need to balance our yang with some yin.  For those of you that do not know me I am 85% yang.  Not always a good thing.

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Over the years I have tried my share of yoga classes from gentle restorative to Hatha, Bikram, and power Vinyasa styles.  I’ve had both good and bad experiences, instructors and classes.  For the most part I just don’t get a whole lot out of it and yes I realize it takes more than one class in a blue moon.  I’ve had periods where I went consistently yet still garnered nothing more than a little better workout the next time I lifted.  And that didn’t always happen either.

For starters I just don’t bend in the ways the pretzels aka hardcore yogis do.  And “find your breath” and “let it out loudly” doesn’t come naturally to me.  It generally takes me until the end of the class to even begin to calm down and grasp that feeling and then it’s over.

While on vacation last week (the five days out of the year I do yoga consistently) I went to my favorite studio M Body in Neptune Beach.  I went my first full day there and had an ok class.  I intended to sprint on Friday but a family gathering in the morning had prevented that and by the time that was over so were my intentions to sprint.

On Saturday I woke up alive and ready to go so I warmed up with a 5 minute walk and then did a few 200’s at a slow pace to get the blood flowing and the joints lubricated to this foreign activity of running not to mention running in the sand.  I started feeling pretty good and loose so I began 100 m sprints at about minute 17 minutes in.

They have these cool barrel shaped trash cans positioned every 100 m so the plan was to sprint 100, walk 100 doing somewhere around 10 of them.  At the end of the fourth sprint  I was bent over and gasping for air, on my exhale out came a loud “HAH”.  Gee where did that come from I wondered?  That’s what the instructor was telling us to do yesterday during the yoga class.  I just couldn’t seem to let out a loud “HAH” then.  No problem now.  In fact as the sprints continued that’s exactly what I did naturally after my heart beat was loudly pounding and I was gasping for air.

I ended up doing about 12 sprints and rounded it out with a cool down walk back to the hotel.  I felt GREAT!! Knowing I needed to stretch it out I decided to hit the yoga class.  I knew I would get more out of it and I was feeling some delayed openness in my hip from Thursday’s class.  Yes, it took my body damn near 2 days to process it.

I sat down in my hotel room for ten minutes while waiting for the class and had some water. When I went to stand up every joint in my body rebelled.  Off I hobbled to the yoga class.

What I noticed immediately upon starting was how calm I already was.  I had no trouble finding my breath or yelling HAH on the exhale during the 75 minute power vinyasa class.  I got so much more out of it; I was calmer and more focused.  I had never worked out before a yoga class perhaps that is the key.

Having already gotten the majority of my agitation and stress out it was one hell of a cool down. For us Type A individuals perhaps a few sprints before the yoga class is the key. . .

Wind Sprints

I’m such a gym rat — it’s my sport and my life.  I own a CrossFit box and spend most of my days there but it really is good to take it out of the box from time to time.  Pun totally intended and something I realized I need to do just a little more frequently.

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On a recent trip to the beach for my family reunion I had no desire to get in my car and drive to a gym or box.  Not with the beautiful Atlantic ocean in my backyard; it was time for a run on the beach.  Now I’m not much of a runner but I’ve always loved to sprint.  Short, fast and sweet it had me feeling great and enjoying the gifts of nature.

Speed is all relative folks; I can assure you I in no way whatsoever resemble an Olympic 100 m sprinter. Only in my wildest dreams and of course my next life.  However, sprinting as fast as I can today at this age of the body still had me feeling like a million bucks the rest of the day.

Nothing like your heart pounding pushing off the sand to the sound of the waves with the morning sun beating down on you.  Of course at 56 the warm up needed to be extended.

Warm up:
There are multiple excellent drills I often do to warm up for sprints but I wanted simplicity this morning.  7 minutes of walking at a leisurely pace (I’m on vacation and I enjoyed the slow start); 4, 200 m jogs followed by a 100 m walk to ease into the running portion. I must add there were trash barrels conveniently located approximately every 100 m.  Their ulterior motive had to be for sprints.

Workout:
12, 100 m sprints each followed by a 100 m walk to allow recovery.  Two of them were followed by a 200 m walk to allow fuller recovery and resulted in faster times on the next two sprints.

The first 1-3 sprints were a test — did anything feel tight like it was going to pull.  If the answer is ever yes, stop immediately.  If the answer is no, great, full speed ahead.  Everything felt good that day so I amped it up until it got to a point where a consistent pace could be maintained without overextending the chosen rest period.  I had planned to do 10 but felt so good I upped it to 12, after all the first couple were ‘warm ups’.

Cooldown
After the last sprint I was about a 1/4 mile from the hotel so I walked the rest of the way allowing my heart rate to gradually slow and again enjoying the scenery at a slower pace.  After getting back to the hotel I knew if I wanted to walk the next day I needed to either stretch out really well or go to a yoga class to lengthen everything out.

The yoga class conveniently near the hotel won out and that good feeling lasted the whole day. Vacations don’t mean you have to miss your workout, it can an opportunity to expand your wodding horizons. And nothing does that better than a good round of wind sprints in the elements.

Family Reunion

I had the good fortune to marry into an incredible family so when our annual family reunion rolls around I know I’m in for a great time!  For starters it’s at the beach which makes it a winner before it even begins and it’s at a quaint old Florida style resort — the Seahorse Inn on Neptune Beach.  They even have our name on the welcome sign.

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We have a series of set traditions that have evolved over the years; a few weeks before an annual Jager Nation Family Reunion newsletter is sent out by my brother in law.  It highlights the upcoming days events.

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Wednesday:  the early arrivals come in and the feeding and drinking frenzy begins.  Its usually the most laid back day and evening as we all begin to decompress and wait for the little kiddos and a few more families to arrive. Some quiet time is enjoyed in a smaller group setting.

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Now, trying to get 30 people seated at a crowded restaurant and one that everyone likes is next to impossible so we’ve come up with ‘finnin’. Which means each family fends for themselves and we gather with our take out containers in the common area to eat dinner together.  Or together for the most part.

The Seahorse is surrounded by a bevy of restaurants, shops and bars all within walking distance.  I have my favorites which we frequent every year, occasionally trying out a new one.

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Thursday:  we head down to the beach for a day of fun while we wait for the rest of the family to arrive, watching everyone unpack, sweat and settle in.  That’s followed by another night of ‘finnin’ and the advent of the annual Poker Prelims; and this year we all wore a throwback tee.  The reunions have been taking place since 1990 with custom printed tee shirts becoming a staple starting 1995; needless to say we had plenty to choose form.

Friday:  this year the morning started quite differently with a ocean side memorial.  We lost our patriarch six weeks prior and the final wishes were to be joined with the matriarch and the ashes sprinkled in the ocean.  While laden with grief and a melancholy feeling for part of the afternoon the closure was soul cleansing especially for the five siblings.

The morning event was followed by a breakfast gathering, beach time, ‘finnin’  and the Poker finals rounded out the night.

Saturday:  is the last day but definitely one of the best days — we’re all pretty relaxed by this time. After another action and fun filled day at the beach we had our crazy contest — yet another tradition where each year something is chosen to be decorated such as crazy shirt, hat, sunglasses etc and this year it was crazy towels.

They are all laid out right after dinner and the judging begins…

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After the crazy contest there is often entertainment provided by a few of the more talented members of the family; three of our nieces better known as The Dancers 3 gave an outstanding performance.

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There is also a Shut the Box tournament, run by my nephew, that goes on all day Friday and Saturday with the winner being announced Saturday night.

Bocce, cornhole and other games will sometimes be played along with boogie boarding and surfing depending on the wave action.  Never a dull moment.  And often a fashion statement.

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After the sun sets on Saturday it’s time for more entertainment.  We all gather in one family’s hotel room and watch a slideshow collection of pictures taken by all throughout the weekend set to a bevy of summer songs chosen by each member of the family. By know it’s probably clear that just about everything is either bet on or a contest.

So right after the slideshow the songs are played in their entirety and the option is given to entertain with a routine of choice. Some of the family members unbeknownst to all actually choreographed and practiced a routine to their summer song.  Not fair but very impressive. Yes, they won.  We will be ready next year…

We conclude the evenings activities by choosing what will be the crazy item for next year, who will do the tee shirts and confirm that we have all booked our rooms as they go quickly at the Seahorse.  The evening is then capped off with last night socializing.

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And of course there is the ever impressive family photo.  It generally takes about 30+ minutes to get everyone and everyone’s cameras coordinated but well worth the final result. Thirty one year’s with this family; so many memories, so many wonderful times.  I am fortunate to have become a part of this family.  While none of us are perfect we are a family that loves each other and always has each other’s back.  Some things are worth their weight in gold.

Morning, Noon or Night?

When I wake up in the morning my feet hit the ground like I’m coming off the starting blocks. I am, always have been and most likely always will be a morning person.  Don’t even talk to me at 8 pm.  My prime time is first thing in the am, the early am.  My best work and thinking generally take place before most people are out of bed.  This extreme is often referred to as a lark.

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On the other end of the spectrum are the people that come alive in the latter part of the evening often working until the wee hours of the night.  We call them owls.

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The larks and the owls represent the extremes.  Most people are somewhere in between. Why is this? Habits we have gotten into or developed, behaviors we can change?  Without delving into a lot of science and research our personal clocks were set before we were even born.  Genetics winds the clock in regards to when a person feels most up and at em’.

To a degree both behavior and environment can be altered.  For the extremes the body rules supreme and should you challenge it to a match you will lose.  A lark cannot become an owl and an owl cannot become a lark.  It’s what known as the circadian rhythm.  Science Daily defines that as “a roughly 24 hour cycle in the physiological processes of living beings, including plants, animals, fungi and cyanobacteria. In a strict sense, circadian rhythms are endogenously generated, although they can be modulated by external cues such as sunlight and temperature.”

The majority (>50%) of the populations falls in the middle — neither dawn or dusk types. They can adjust more easily to any changes in sleeping schedules.  Should they need to get up or go to bed an hour or so earlier or later it won’t create too much of a problem for them.

The other half of the population splits about evenly into am and pm types with variances in the extremities.  The owls get tired later in the day than normal while the larks become tired in the early evening yet are wound for sound in the am often beating the sun up.

Age can also have an effect; the teen years with their hormonal changes and social norms may prompt many teens to stay up later and sleep in.  On the other end the elderly do the opposite – going to bed and getting up earlier. This could also be affected by decreased activity and medications that have a sedative effect.

Although man continues to try to change nature as always those attempts will fail and nature will endure.  You can’t change the inherent clock within an individual.  And many will keep their schedule well into old age.

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For the extremes the preference for early morning or evening should not be considered unhealthy or something to ‘correct’.  We’re all different and the more accepting we become of that the smoother life will be.

If you tend to the extreme – and larks are rarer than owls –  learning to accept this and going with what nature intended will lead to a better and more productive life. Sleep is not a bad habit to be kicked.  I always knew I was a ‘rare bird’ so hurry up folks you’re burning daylight!

Spanish Bean Soup

It’s amazing what I find in my freezer sometimes. About three times a year I clean it out – re organizing and vowing to use things before they’ve been in there too long.  Come July it’s time to finally use that ham bone from Easter. . .

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Recipe & Ingredients

1 pound garbanzo beans, dried
1 tablespoon salt
2 quarts water
1 large meaty ham bone
1 teaspoon bacon grease
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3-4 potatoes, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1 bay leaf
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 – 1 teaspoon turmeric
2 fresh chorizo (Spanish sausages) sliced into rounds

Preparation

Wash garbanzo beans.  Soak overnight with 1 tablespoon salt in enough water to cover. Drain the salted water from the beans.  Place beans in a 4-quart stainless steel soup pot or large dutch oven; add 2 quarts of water and the ham bone.  Bring to a boil skimming any foam from the top; reduce the heat and cook for 60-90 minutes over low heat until the beans are just slightly softened.

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Saute the onion in the bacon grease until just tender, add the garlic and saute for 1 minute longer.  Add to the beans along with the potatoes, paprika, oregano, bay leaf, salt & pepper and turmeric.  Cook at a low simmer for about an hour and a half. When the beans and potatoes are tender add the chorizo and cook for an additional 10 minutes or until the sausage is just cooked through.

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Serve hot in a deep soup bowl.  For a thicker soup, stew it longer.

Nutritional information per serving:
8 servings
Calories: 396, Protein 20 g, Carbs 46 g, Fat 13 g