Tag Archives: baby panda

A random post about nothing, grocery shopping and a cute panda video

2 Mar

Hello, friends, family and internet strangers (especially those of you who found me through my Priceline refund post, I’m so happy it’s been helping people!).

I feel like it’s been too long since I last posted, yet I don’t really have anything to post about. I’m not sure one can use the word “boring” about living in central London, but no matter where you live you tend to fall into a routine — work, run, somehow get caught up in the changing of the guard while trying to cut through Horseguards no matter what time it is, eat, more work. The usual.

Our new place is finally starting to feel like home, even though we still haven’t painted or made the cosmetic changes we’ve been talking about for months. (Finding a reputable, reasonably priced builder is surprisingly hard.) But I’ve gotten used to the location and know all the best shortcuts to get around the tourist-infested streets. I can’t seem to break my once a week grocery shopping habit though. At our old place we lived over a mile from all the best stores, so every Monday I would lug my little trolley to Aldi, Iceland, Sainsbury’s and sometimes other stores to stock up for the week. But now we live reasonably close to a Tesco so I could go every day if I wanted to. I don’t need to buy vegetables on Monday for Friday and worry if they’ll still be fresh. And yet I still find myself doing a big shop on Monday, just because Monday has been grocery shopping day for so long. I can’t even wean myself off my Aldi habit. Not only are their prices so much better than Tesco, they sell things Tesco doesn’t have, like frozen cherries and blueberries. So now about once a month my trolley and I take the Tube up to Aldi and I wipe out their supply of thousand island salad dressing, frozen fruit, and dark chocolate (at least that’s what I go in intending to buy — I always leave with a trolley so full I have to bring my giant tote bag for overflow). It’s such a hassle and I keep telling myself I should stop — I can deal with the subpar, more expensive dressing at Tesco and can use other fruits in my smoothies, but the Aldi lure is just too strong. I’m looking forward to checking out Aldi in the U.S. on my upcoming visit, they just built a nice new one by my parents’ house.

Hey, I just made a post about grocery shopping, just like in the good old days of the blog!

I’ll end with this amazing baby panda video. I know they say when you work with pandas you mostly just clean up poo and prepare bamboo, but I totally wouldn’t mind doing that with this little guy in tow!

(Though I really want to tell iPanda it should be “Nanny, you can’t resist my cuteness!” Do you think they’ll accept my editing services in exchange for baby panda playtime?)


The time is nigh

16 Sep

Last night as I was planning my tube journey to Kew Gardens and researching tapering, it happened. Amidst the panic and fear, I felt a pang of excitement for this half marathon. Of course it was fleeting and I went right back to “What if the train is delayed? What if my knee or hip starts hurting in the middle of the race? How am I going to get up at 6:30, I’m going to be so tired!” — but it was there. I hope it comes back when I’m standing at the start line.

There’s not much I can do now though. I’m not even sure I tapered correctly — maybe doing my longest run ever only 6 days before the race wasn’t the best plan? I think I’ve had enough time to recover. Nobody seems to agree about tapering though. Some sites say you don’t even need to taper for a half. Some say don’t run at all 2 days before the race. Others say do a short “shake out” run either the day before or 2 days before. I did a Pokerun yesterday and walked a bit today, but I’m on the fence about whether I want to do my usual 4-mile run tomorrow. I’m leaning towards no, since I want to be as fresh and not-sore as possible Sunday morning, but I also know it’s sometimes hard to do a long run after too many days off. The struggle, man, the struggle.

Since this is my first half marathon, I haven’t set a time goal for myself. My primary goal is just to finish and not take too many walking breaks. I want to be able to say I ran a half marathon, not just that I finished one. I’m a little concerned about the running 13.1 miles nonstop bit though — my 10 miles I ran earlier this week was punctuated with stoplight breather breaks. I really wish they had those during races. Hopefully the excitement will carry me through!

Here’s to 13.1 and before-I-turn-30 goals that seemed like a good idea at the time!

baby panda running.gif

Hitting the wall at mile 2

10 Feb

Yesterday I got a notice that they would be turning the water off in our building from 10am to 2pm. At least they gave us advance notice this time — a few weeks ago I found out the water was out only when my washing machine gave an error message halfway through the cycle. For most people who work in an office building, like Stephen, having the water turned off for 4 hours during the day has no effect whatsoever (aside from that sudden surge of water that comes out that never fails to scare the crap out of you even when you’re anticipating it). But for someone like me who works from home and usually takes a post-run shower around 1pm, it’s a huge nuisance. But since I knew it was coming, I could plan for it. I filled my Brita pitcher up to the top at 9:30am and decided I would do my usual morning routine of breakfast, work, run, I’d just have to push the run back a little bit so I’d return home after 2 to shower. This seemed feasible. But at around 12:30 I started getting really hungry. I ate a Belvita breakfast biscuit but it didn’t help much. I didn’t want to eat too much and be weighed down on my run, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I would be starving come 2pm.

I’ve heard many times by many runners that running is mostly mental. Sure, your legs, feet and lungs can hurt, but it’s your mind that can really hold you back. After today I can attest that this is 100% true. When I left my flat I told myself I would do 5 miles — I’m slowly trying to up my weekly and daily mileage and the 5 miles I ran yesterday went well. I had a course in mind and an audiobook playing through my headphones, but there was a voice in my head that couldn’t be silenced: “You’re gonna be hungry. Are you hungry yet? You ate breakfast awhile ago. There’s no way you have enough energy to do 5 miles. Are you feeling tired yet?” After mile 2 I gave in and listened to it. Suddenly I felt completely drained, exhausted and hungry. The voice was right — there was no way I could do 5 miles. Unfortunately I was still 2 miles away from my flat. I trudged along doing a run-walk mix, walking because I was tired, running because it meant I could get home to food faster. The cold wind whipped through my Thanksgiving Day Race shirt and I almost felt embarrassed to be wearing it — people who run 10K in under an hour don’t hit the wall after 2 miles.

baby panda falling

Except of course they do. Every runner has bad runs, caused by everything from the weather to diet to their own state of mind. I’m guessing what separates the good runners is how much they dwell on their bad runs. As Alexander would say, some runs are like that, even in Australia (or a sunny day in London).

As soon as I made it home I made a beeline for the bag of mixed nuts I was saving for our Valentine’s Day chocolate fountain. The mix of salt, fat and protein really hit the spot, even if my insatiable hunger was half mental. To be honest, a bad run like that questions my ability to ever run 13.1, but I just have to remember to shake it off. (And take tomorrow as a rest day since the water will be off again).

Speaking of 13.1, I haven’t quite bitten the bullet yet and registered, but I’m considering the Richmond Half Marathon in September. It’s a bit further from me than Hyde Park, but running through Kew Gardens and Old Deer Park would be pretty awesome. Now I just gotta work on my mental (and miles) game…

helpless baby panda.gif

‘Tis better to have loved and lost, Than never to have loved at all

26 Sep

I’d like to thank everyone for the outpouring of love and support my family and I received since my last post. It’s going to be a rough next few months (especially once I’m home again), but it’s good to know the little dude was loved, even by those who only knew him through his annual Christmas letter and my Facebook photos.

If by chance that last heart wrenching post gained me any new followers, welcome. I promise I don’t always post such emotional entries. We’ll get back to fat pugs, complaining about the weather, grocery shopping, baby pandas and zebra wieners in due time. But first, some more mourning talk.

My first real experience with death was with my childhood guinea pigs. Mr. G. crossed over the rainbow bridge at our home, while Hershey required veterinary assistance. At the time my little heart had never felt such sadness, and I dealt with it the only way 11-year-old Renee knew how: by crying and writing dozens of poems and stories about them. If you’ve ever seen or had a guinea pig, you know that they don’t do much — eat, poop, repeat.

guinea pigs eating

But my younger self gave them each personalities and elaborate back-stories and lives. Those two deaths affected me so strongly, yet we had four other guinea pigs after them. As I was speaking to my mom the other day I had to ask her about each of their deaths because I honestly could not remember. I felt so bad, but then I realized that’s probably the best thing that could happen — I remembered them in their best of times and not in their last. It makes me almost feel guilty that I was not there for Squirt in the end because my images of him are not at his worst. I’ve been dreaming about him a lot lately, but in my dreams he’s always youthful, running around the kitchen like Speedy Gonzales as he used to do after a bath, or chasing after his rope in the backyard — two things he hasn’t done in many years. My parents and I have been texting memories and photos back and forth.

“I just don’t want to forget anything about him,” my mom said to me the day after they put him down. It seemed almost silly — with old home videos and both print and digital photos in the thousands, that seemed impossible. But then I realized with grief comes nostalgia. As I said in my last post, in the end he was not the same dog anymore. Even if he lived 10 more years, he would never walk down to the lake lot or fetch a rope again. So while I will miss even his annoying “Feed me!” bark, what I really miss is the old times, just like I miss my old schools, apartments, jobs and friends and the memories I made with them. But life goes on. You remember the good, try to forget the bad, and make new memories. Even though I am alive and well, my mom can still be nostalgic for Baby Renee, since I no longer make animal noises or get food all over my face when I eat … OK, maybe those were bad examples (moooooo).

This year I made a new friend in London whom I really got along with, but she recently moved away. In a fit of sadness a part of me thought “If I had never met her then I wouldn’t be sad right now.” But you could say that about every relationship that ended, pet that passed or friend who moved. We would have less sadness, sure, but we’d also have less joy from the good times we did have together. Alfred Lord Tennyson said it best, “‘Tis better to have loved and lost, Than never to have loved at all.” And as Elphaba and Glinda sing in Wicked, “Because I knew you, I have been changed for good.” (I saw the musical with my friend who moved and told that to her before she left.)

So now I’m trying to just focus on the good memories. I’ve pulled myself out of my pit of sadness. Just today I was finally able to look at the pugs frolicking in the park and smile instead of thinking “How cute, but one day they’re all going to DIE.” (Yes, I became Emo Elmo for a bit recently). Both my parents and I had the same thought as we were going through the last few weeks — we can’t go through this again. We can’t get another dog. Instead of the happy memories I could make with my hypothetical pug or corgi, I was focusing on the fact that one day it would die. My parents were too. It’s still too soon for them to even entertain the notion — it’s like asking a widow at her husband’s funeral if she thinks she’ll remarry. But I told them not to get rid of his crate — disassemble it and store it away, but hang on to it… just in case.

(And now, for no reason at all, a baby panda!)

baby panda bars

Excuse me, ma’am, but there’s a giant panda on your butt

11 Nov

“When you have an opportunity to include a panda in something,
a panda should be included.” -Seth Stevenson, Slate Magazine

This is not just my email signature, it’s my mantra. …Or at least it was until this morning. Up until now I’ve always included a panda when the opportunity presented itself, and when I saw an item of clothing in my size featuring a panda, I bought it. But this morning I was browsing an online store looking for new ankle boots (because nothing says “Thank you for your service, veterans!” like free shipping, no minimum), when I stumbled upon this skirt:

panda skirtI was torn. Here there was an opportunity to include a panda on something, and a panda was included. It was also 20% off plus free shipping. On the other hand, it would mean walking around with a giant panda — literally a GIANT panda — on my butt. I may have gone for it if it were a shirt — I own a giant pug face shirt, after all — but I don’t think I could handle giant panda puppy eyes staring into the soul of the person walking behind me. Plus, what shirt do you even wear that can compete with a giant panda face?

In short, there are many opportunities in life in which a panda can be included, but I’m not sure a skirt is one of them.

London was invaded by pandas and I missed it?!

12 Jul

I don’t know if I can forgive myself.

I was getting lost in the interwebs, taking a break from work this afternoon, when I stumbled upon this video:

There were 108 costumed pandas running around London causing pandemonium last week and I MISSED IT! They were promoting Panda Awareness Week, sponsored by the Chengdu Panda Base in China. I’ve been there! I held a baby panda there! Here is a video in case you don’t believe me:

How could I not know Panda Awareness Week was happening?! I could have ridden the Tube with pandas! (OK, slightly creepy costumed pandas, but still, pandas!) I could have watched pandas ride a double decker bus or do tai chi in Trafalgar Square!

Sigh. I guess that’s why we have Youtube and photos, so I can feel like I was there, and then rewatch the video where I actually was there in Chengdu.

/end panda freak out.

Renee face panda!

11 Apr