Sunday, December 30, 2012
Friday, December 21, 2012
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Monday, December 17, 2012
Another idea I had was to wait until I paint the entire cabinet to see what happens with the color. Lovely Beautiful Daughter and I are going to take a short road trip tomorrow to see about paint. The only place that carries it, a small second-hand store, is about 20 miles west. I'm going to talk with the owner to get her input on painting and how best to go about making the china cabinet look as awesome as possible. According to the paint manufacturer's website, no sanding is needed before using this paint. I'm hoping this is true. Not having to sand such a large piece would definitely make a difference in how long it will take to rehab it.
Thursday, December 13, 2012
Found another treasure while cycling today. Thankfully Lovely Beautiful Daughter and Funny Delightful Son were both home to accompany me back to the treasure (a mere two blocks away), load it up (it's heavier than I thought it was going to be), and bring it home (can't wait to see Hubby's face when he sees it in the garage). Already have some ideas for giving it new life. Should be a fun project.
Monday, December 10, 2012
Today I presented my experience with BTUSFMS to a fairly large group. When I began, I explained why I decided to do the ride--for my mom--and I felt so strong, so confident when I explained how she had been diagnosed with MS, how she eventually lost her mobility, and how MS has no cure. While a twinge of sadness grabbed my heart when I thought about how she lost the battle to MS, I was able to continue on, showing the group what an amazing summer I had cycling across the US.At the end, I fielded questions. In the process, I learned how one gentleman used to live in Pittsburg, KS, and how another gentleman knew exactly what I meant when I said Telluride, CO was a sparkling gem nestled between the mountains. I walked away from this morning's presentation knowing I had connected with many in the room.
I am and always will be grateful to BTUSFMS for what it is doing. Not only is it raising much needed funds for MS research, but it is giving people like me an opportunity to find the strength within to face life head on. Because of the ride, I'm more confident. Because of the ride, I'm not afraid of the unknown. Because of the ride, I know I am capable of achieving whatever I set out to do. Most of all, I can think about and talk about Mom without succumbing to the tears. Her story helps others, which is what's most important, and I hope I can keep telling it for a long time to come.
Sunday, December 9, 2012
Friday, December 7, 2012
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Saturday, December 1, 2012
Initially I'd intended to use one of the many event t-shirts I've collected over the last three years as the fabric to cover the cardboard tubes, but when I began rifling through my closet, I remembered a velvet jacket I had that I've not worn in several years. The last time I wore it, I was walking across campus when it began to rain. The jacket still shows all the little spots where the rain hit it. I loved that jacket, hence not being able to part with it in more than two years, but now part of it has taken on new life. I know I'll make another bracelet holder, so another section of the jacket will be used for it. Somewhere along the way, the buttons will be put to use, too.
Friday, November 30, 2012
Someone dumped this poor thing on the curb. So I brought it home.
Hubby gave me the big snippers to cut the branches off. Those snippers are AWESOME!
See??? Just like that, the metal snaps. Love those snippers.
The pile of lights I cut from the branches. I was so hoping the lights actually worked. They didn't. Maybe that's why poor little tree ended up on the curb.
The branches now adorn the window boxes. I think the little tree looks very happy!
And they also adorn the front porch as the wreath I made using an extra bicycle wheel, also a freebie from the local bike shop. Best wreath I've ever had.
Thursday, November 29, 2012
The whole idea of sustainability has been nagging at me for awhile. For years I agonized over the amount of trash we were putting on the curb every week. I kept thinking if every family of five was generating as much landfill garbage as we were, the earth was in a world of hurt. There had to be a better way to deal with items we were throwing away. My first step to reducing how much we were contributing to the landfill was to set up a compost box to throw all meal scraps into. I wanted to garden, so what better way to build up an organic foundation than to create my very own dirt? I then bought containers into which we put our cans, glass, cardboard, and paper products instead of throwing them in the trash. Simply doing the composting and recycling cut back on our curbside trash by more than 50%. Seeing this made me start reconsidering other aspects of my life.
For many years, I operated on the idea that new was better. Even very recently--I began searching for a stylish raincoat I could wear for my cycling commute. I had settled on buying a very expensive ($399 expensive!) coat made in Great Britain. I was on the web page, ready to choose the purple coat, when thankfully the sane part of my brain shouted, "Back away from the computer! Don't you dare buy that coat!" I didn't buy that coat. Instead, I made a promise to myself that I would keep looking until I found one right here where I live, at one of the thrift stores, giving it new life. Staying local. Living sustainably. Looking back at all the new items I just had to have, I realize how silly this mentality was. New isn't necessarily better. It is, however, more expensive. And wasteful. When I think about all the money I could have saved by shopping at thrift stores . . .. (Insert eye roll here.) So now I'm on a mission to see what treasures I can find on the cheap. Within the last week alone, I found a $14 red wool coat that I have learned will keep me warm even when the temps are in the mid teens, and a $5 pair of casual black leather shoes in excellent condition (Franco Sarto--originally $70). Spending less than $20 for two great items makes me feel giddy, something paying full price for new products never did (well, except for when I bought Sweetness--she was totally worth every penny I paid).
Living more simply hasn't been easy. In many ways, I just wasn't ready to make the changes though I knew the changes would positively impact my life. Not allowing naysayers to sway me was also a challenge along the way. Still is. But I like where I am, doing my small part.
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
I took a deep breath to calm myself and thought back on my first century ride. I'd felt the same way at the end, when I'd battled through the last 13 miles, 9 of which was in a headwind. Alone and tired, I really, really wanted to stop, but a small voice deep inside my head said, "You're almost there. Don't stop now." I finished that ride, and when I arrived back at the truck, I turned away from Hubby to keep him from seeing me nearly break down in tears from all the overwhelming emotions gripping me. The century I completed after that first one went better, with me never feeling along the way that I wanted to stop. My third century I was even stronger. Those rides, along with my summer ride across the US, have instilled in me a confidence that rises up when I most need it. That small voice I'd heard during my first century wasn't so small on Saturday. When all I wanted to do was give in, that voice, loud and clear, said, "The last six miles are all downhill. Just three more miles. Just three more miles." I leaned down over the handlebars and kept on going. At the six miles to go mark, I saw Hubby standing near the road, snapping pictures as I approached. I knew then I had the ride all but wrapped up.
Since finishing Saturday's ride, my shoulders have been achy, my hips fatigued. The Gravel Grovel may have left its mark on me, but I won the battle. Now I look forward to the next one.
Sunday, November 25, 2012
|2012 Gravel Grovel|
So Hubby and I set off for Indiana late Friday afternoon. Between home and Champaign, Hubby looked at me and asked, "Do you know where we're going?" I responded with a nope and a shrug of my shoulders. "We're on an adventure," I said. "We'll figure it out as we go." And we did. We stopped at an Indiana rest area where we found a map. A real, in color, paper map. We studied it and figured out a route to our destination then set off. A few hours later, after winding through some dark countryside that scared Hubby (he's such a city boy), we arrived in Bedford where we spent the night.
|Getting ready to start off.|
|The creek finish line!|
Friday, November 23, 2012
Thursday, November 22, 2012
This being the first Thanksgiving without Mom, I was kind of dreading the day. So many of my Thanksgiving memories include her. She would always be up and in the kitchen early, way before the rest of us pulled ourselves out of our warm beds, fixing breakfast for us while at the same time prepping the turkey and preparing the stuffing. Along with the mashed potatoes and gravy, Mom always fixed a cranberry dish for Dad. He was the only one who ate them, but Mom made sure to have a bowl of the deep red berries next to his plate when we all sat down to eat. Pumpkin pie, pecan pie, and mincemeat pie topped off the meal.
What made today not as dreadful as I was thinking it might be was Lovely Beautiful Daughter. She and several of her friends gathered in the kitchen and prepared the meal. And though she totally forgot to put the turkey in the oven, thus delaying our dinner by nearly two hours, having the young people in the house--working together, laughing, playing games while the turkey cooked--gave me much joy. When we finally did sit down to dinner, each of us taking a turn offering what we are thankful for, I felt truly blessed to be surrounded by such a variety of individuals.
Though it's official I ate way to much today, it's also official that today was a good, good day.
The Boston helmet campaign really pushed my buttons. To suggest a cyclist will eventually fall victim to a crash of some sort, and thus should always wear a helmet just in case, simply advances the same, old tiring argument: cycling is a dangerous activity.
To the contrary:
- Cycling is a very safe activity.
- Cycling is a very enjoyable activity.
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
"The List" was compiled by Barb Chamberlain, author of Bike Style: The Quest for the Intersection of Style and Comfort, and I for one am incredibly grateful to her for doing so. I have enjoyed reading some of the blogs and look forward to continuing down the list. I feel connected to so many other women who love cycling as much as I do, and hopefully through these blogs, I can create actual connections, enlarging my circle of friends who just happen to be women who cycle.
Sunday, November 18, 2012
But using the bike once a week for a shorter errand, or using the bike twice a week to get small amounts of groceries, or using the bike three times a week for a half hour of fitness riding is feasible. Starting small, taking the proverbial baby steps, is the way to work the bike as transportation into one's life. There'll be hiccups along the way, but isn't this the case with all new endeavors? I've faced a lot of hiccups, but over the last four years I've also learned a lot that has allowed me to make tweaks here and there to improve the process. The learning process has actually turned out to be one of the most exciting aspects of cycling. Seems like every time I ride, whether it be my commute or for fitness, I figure out another cycling problem that makes the next ride even better.
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Going cold turkey on giving up sugar and processed carbs is tough. I know I've been consuming far too much sugar the last couple of weeks, what with Halloween and my once-a-week stops at the coffee shop for a caramel latte, so it's no wonder my body is rebelling. Shoving it full of sugar then abruptly turning off the faucet of the sweet goodness is bound to cause an adverse reaction. What will put me back on track tomorrow is that even though I only made it through 2 1/2 days of healthy eating, I could tell a huge difference in how I was feeling. Despite today's moments of dizziness, the rest of the 2 1/2 days was really good. Energy. Focus. Not feeling the 2 pm sugar coma coming on. Excellent nights' sleep. All of these positives I want all the time.
|Kind of sums up my healthy eating failure: the frost on the bridge can be slippery, causing a fall. Just get up, dust off, keep going.|
Sunday, November 11, 2012
Saturday, November 10, 2012
My goal was to try and average at least 15 mph. My first five miles showed 14. I noticed I felt tired, like I didn't have a lot of energy though I'd made sure to eat a good breakfast. The last two or three weeks, I've not had much of an appetite. I've basically been eating only to make sure I don't get so fatigued I can't focus or function. There have been a couple of times, too, when I do eat that I reach a point where I feel nauseous. Mostly, though, I find myself standing in the kitchen, going through the cupboards and fridge, searching for something to spark my interest. Nothing does. The only thing that has sounded good is pancakes. And french fries. Why these two items, I don't know, but if it means eating, I'll eat them. I've had more pancakes the last two weeks than I have the last two years.
So I tried to kick my pace up a notch. For the next ten miles I was able to keep the average speed above 15. I still wasn't feeling great though. I stopped and drank some of my sports drink and ate a GU, then started off again, hoping to feel better at some point. I wondered if not riding at all the last two weeks, since the Tour de Shawnee, was part of my problem, but you'd think having some time away would actually be a good thing. I have been commuting every day, a short 6 miler; however, this distance probably isn't nearly enough to maintain the level of fitness I'd achieved from the summer ride.
When I was 38 miles in, I reached Morris. Hubby met me there to have lunch. We found a little bakery and had panini sandwiches with soup and a piece of pumpkin pie. I ate half of my sandwich and the pie, but again, I just couldn't find it in me to eat anymore. Usually when I ride like this, I can put the food away. Instead, just looking at the second half of the sandwich made me feel like barfing. I wrapped it, put it in a bag, and stowed it in the truck to have after finishing the ride.
I set off again, heading towards my 60 miles for the day. Five miles beyond Morris I resigned myself to having to settle for a steady 14 mph pace. I just didn't have the gumption to do anymore than that. During this part of the ride, I also stopped and took pictures. This length of the I & M was new territory for me, so I wanted to enjoy it as much as possible. During one long stretch, the path took me through a thick woods. I saw movement on my left, and when I turned to look, I saw the most beautiful buck I've ever seen in my life. He ran alongside me then ahead, and when he was thirty yards beyond, he cut over and onto the path. He ran for quite some time in front of me before veering to the right and back into the woods. That majestic animal was the picture that got away. And I hope he continues to get away from the hunters whose deer stands could be spotted all through those woods, and grace others with his beauty.
The last 15 miles of the ride offered up some truly wonderful sights. A spillway with yellow leaves trapped at the bottom, a hornets nest hanging from a branch over the canal water, trees gnawed at by beavers, the dam the beavers built, and gulls diving down to the lake's surface to snatch up an unsuspecting fish.While my average speed for the day didn't meet my intended goal, I don't really care. Life isn't a race to rush through. Rather, it's something to savor.
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Why can't I just walk into a bank and tell the loan officer my wonderful plan? Why does the plan have to be in writing? After all, the bike shop dream truly is wonderful. Just ask me. And furthermore, why do I have to show all the numbers? I can be trusted with lots of money. Really, I can.
Despite feeling overwhelmed right now by writing up my bike shop idea, I know eventually, if I just keep chipping away at it, I'll finish it. If I'm serious about opening up a women's specific bike shop, I have to at least try to make it happen. If I don't finish the plan and present it to the people who can fund my idea, the bike shop idea will remain just that--an idea. If I finish it and get turned down, at least I'll be able to move forward knowing I tried. I'll be unhappy for awhile, but there are other ways to combine my love for cycling and helping women that don't require a bike shop.
|I love this pic. It helps bring me back to center.|
Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Today called for rain. My response: pack my rain jacket and hat just in case the ride home was wet. It was. No worries. I was prepared.
When I walked through the door after work, he asked, "Did you get my text?" I shook my head. "I was going to come get you."
How am I going to follow through on my desire to commute by bike if every time it showers or the temperature dips below 30 he is waiting at the door to load my bike into the truck and drive me home? I've reached the point where I don't mind getting a bit damp or feel a little cold during my ride. I'll dry off, and I'll warm up. Hubby, though, can't seem to wrap his brain around the idea of using the bike as transportation no matter what the weather offers up.
I do understand where he is with his thinking. I was there two years ago when I first tried going car-less. I did okay as long as rain wasn't falling and the temps didn't go below 40. Once the snow came, the bike went up on the hooks in the garage, right alongside Hubby's hybrid and the cruiser. Now my thinking is completely different. My comfort levels changed somewhere along the way, and I no longer worry about how the weather will affect my travels.
When I placed my bag on the kitchen counter and took off my knit hat, sprinkling droplets of water onto the floor, Hubby said, "You're really going to ride no matter what, aren't you?"
I nodded. Yes, I'm really going to ride no matter what.
Sunday, November 4, 2012
The black and gray is the very first one I made. Lots of imperfections in it, but I like it and think it looks pretty good on my wrist.
The orange and blue is the second one I made. This is the one I added the valve lock nuts to. I'm not a real fan of the colors, but again, I like the way it looks on my wrist.
I've also made two pink with purple and one black with yellow. The pink and purple just aren't turning out for some reason, and I think it's because the purple string is much thinner than the other strings in the bag. The whole learning process has been fun, and thanks to one of the local bike shops, I have enough links and valve lock nuts to do quite a few more.
|Not one cracked egg!|
Each day I cycle instead of drive, the less urge I feel to drive all the way around. When I think about going somewhere, I think in terms of how to get to the destination by bike. I love leaving the car in the garage, and I love not having to go to a gas station for fuel. Cycling for transportation truly is freeing.
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Life. Such sadness sometimes.
Sunday, October 28, 2012
The day started out very chilly, around 38 degrees, and the wind added further chill at 13 mph. As we stood in line, ready to roll out, I felt pretty good as I'd made sure to put on the fleece leggings along with the wool socks. Only my cheeks were cold, but I was hoping once we got going, I'd warm up. Not long after 8 am, we followed the leaders out onto Rt. 3 and began the Tour de Shawnee.
Hubby had decided to do the hilly 30 route to ride with me for about 25 of those 30 miles. When we reached "The Hill" as we'd started calling it, I again said, "See you at the top" and started up. I'm pretty sure a smile was plastered on my face as I climbed--all I was thinking about were the many hills I'd climbed all summer and how this one was now just another hill. There really wasn't anything special about it. I stopped at the top to wait for Hubby, and while I waited, I joked and laughed with those reaching the top. Many were gasping for breath, some coughing, some having to get off their bike to lean over and get more blood flow to their head. One woman exclaimed, "I didn't know there were hills in Illinois." One young man belched then looked at me and apologized. I just laughed, asking, "Feel better?" He shook his head no. When Hubby arrived, we started off, gearing up for the next hill.
Through the next 10 miles, we climbed, with me waiting at the top of each hill while Hubby made his way up, and we rode along, enjoying the fall colors. Hubby wasn't feeling the greatest, but what can he expect after not riding for quite some time now? He did make it to the first rest stop where he decided to call it a day, and I started off to finish what I traveled to Cape Girardeau to do.
For the next 85 miles, I rode through beautiful countryside, most of my thoughts on the summer ride: the train rumbling by in Mineral, the moon over Vesuvius, the vistas of Kentucky, the ferry ride across the river to Illinois, the bridge over the Mississippi, the cyclist hostel in Farmington, the night ride from Chanute to Cassoday, the heat of Kansas, the sunrise in Haswell, the climb of Monarch Pass. And so many more memories. Dealing with a northerly headwind that made riding difficult even while going east and west, I found I simply kept going. I never thought about packing it in, cutting the ride short because of how difficult the going was. I knew I could do the 100. It was just like any of the days from the summer ride.
At mile 64, Hubby met me at the rest stop. There, I told him I was going to pass up the next rest stop scheduled for mile 84 and just go to the one at 94. He would meet me there to see how I was feeling. When I rolled into mile 94 rest stop, Hubby was stunned to see me, as he put it, "so soon. You must have been hauling." Not really, but having the wind at my back for a longer stretch definitely helped. I was able to shift to the large sprocket and just roll along at a smooth 21 mph which was quite a difference from the 13 mph into the headwind.
The six miles from the rest stop to the finish were again into the headwind, but I sat back and enjoyed. I was one of the few who'd taken on the challenge and not backed out because of the wind. I fulfilled my vow: I conquered the Tour de Shawnee, loving every second of it.
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Having helped another woman overcome a cycling problem is the exact reason I want to open a women's specific bike shop. I spent the entire evening thinking about how this friend can now cycle with the peace of mind that comes from being prepared. And this morning, her FB status update showed her excitement about the new found freedom of riding in the dark but feeling safe in doing so. I, in turn, felt excited and happy for her.
Sunday, October 21, 2012
Such was the case this morning. Yesterday, I posted how I'd come across an injured hawk and found myself unable to help it. While I wished I could make sure it was in a safe place, getting the help it needed, I just didn't know where to turn. This morning, I checked in at Facebook and found a comment from JRA of One Speed: Go. He listed a link to people around the area who were licensed to take in wildlife and rehabilitate them. I found the number for a woman who lives close, so I called her. Though she only rehabs an animal after it has received veterinary care, she advised me on how to capture the hawk then where to take it. After talking with her, I gathered the necessary equipment--our old dog crate, a broom, and some leather gloves--and set off with the hope that the hawk was where I'd left it. I knew this might not be the case, as nearly 15 hours had passed since I'd come upon it.
When I came up over the rise and looked for the red post marking the spot, finding it with no problem, the hawk was nowhere to be seen. I pulled the truck into a drive leading to a turbine and parked. For the next half hour, I walked both sides of the road, scanned the bare fields stretching away from the grassy shoulder, and even walked the rows of a still-standing cornfield to look for the bird. Nothing. Thankfully, I never found traces of a fight either, no feathers, no blood, no tracks in the muddy fields. My hope is that either someone who knew exactly what to do when he came across the hawk did exactly that, or the hawk's feathers righted themselves enough after its resting yesterday that it was able to fly away.
While I couldn't help this time, Facebook, for all its drawbacks, put me in the position to help next time. I now have a website with valuable names and numbers bookmarked. I now have three immediate options for where to take an injured wild animal. I have the equipment to capture and transport an injured animal at the ready if needed. Though I feel sad for the hawk (but I'm going with the hope that it is flying high above the Illinois prairie right now), I also feel empowered all because of Facebook.
Saturday, October 20, 2012
Friday, October 19, 2012
Yesterday I was chatting with a colleague, and I found myself thinking about the day we cycled the Blue Ridge Parkway. Out of nowhere came memories of cycling up the hill at Afton with three of my teammates. A little later in the day, while in class, thoughts about how hot it was the day we cycled to Tribune, KS filled my mind. Every day, the summer ride intrudes, making me stop whatever I'm working on to reminisce and dream of being back out on the road. I find myself impatient with my "real" world. Much of what makes up this "real" world seems purposeless now. I want out. I want to feel that sense of purpose I experienced all summer.
So, I made a decision. I'm going to take the leap, leaving what makes me unhappy to begin a new chapter in my life. This change is going to happen slowly, but I decided June 1, 2013 is the "due date" for the new chapter to begin. I chose this date to align with the one-year anniversary of the day I began my cycling journey across the US, the day that truly started an awakening in me. At this point, I am in the process of writing up the plan, talking with people in the know, and gathering information. Everyone I have talked to has been incredibly supportive and encouraging, which helps allay the terror I feel when I think about leaving the known for the unknown.
Having made the decision to make this change, I again feel like I have purpose in my life. I'm excited and scared and determined, just like I was when I signed up for the BTUSFMS ride. I know without a doubt I'm making the right decision, and I look forward to what the future will bring.
Thursday, October 18, 2012
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
This afternoon, as I was sitting in my office, I heard the tell-tale sound of rain against the building roof. I stepped out to see just how hard the rain was falling. Torrents of water rushed off the roof, spilling out into the drive where students were arriving for their afternoon classes. That voice whispered how uncomfortable the ride home would be. Just then, Lovely Beautiful Daughter walked up, laughing at me watching it rain. When she found out I'd cycled to work, she offered me her car. I didn't even give that voice a chance; I quickly declined, saying I had my raincoat and would be just fine. Lovely Beautiful Daughter shook her head then set off for class.
By late afternoon, the sky had darkened, and a fine, steady mist fell. I pulled on my raincoat, turned on my bike lights, and set off. A mile into the ride, between the mist (which is much more like a shower when the bike is in motion) and the 20 mph winds, my hair was slicked back and soaked. Water ran down between my eyes and dripped off the end of my nose. Motorists laughed when they saw me, and I just laughed with them, thinking how sad it was they all were trapped by that voice.
Saturday, October 13, 2012
Here it is October 13, 2012. The days of this year have slipped away so quietly, so quickly, and now I'm sitting here stunned. The trees are cloaked in red, yellow, and orange. The cornfields and soy bean fields lie barren. Frost sparkles on the lawn in the early morning sun. While I can sift through memories created during the last 10 months, probably the most vivid memories in the last ten years, I'm still amazed over how time has passed in a blink.
I've always loved the change of seasons. This fall, I feel another change happening. Me. A new direction is opening. Slowly. But slow suits where my mind is right now. Slow helps erase the fear that clings to the idea of change.
Saturday, October 6, 2012
"You broke the valve." I wasn't happy. I only had one spare tube. Now I had none to carry with me on the ride.
I ate while he worked on the tire then went to the bedroom to get dressed for the chilly morning. With temps in the 30's, I knew the only way to stay warm was to wear the wool socks and thermal leggings. A longsleeved undershirt was a must, too.
"You need a new mechanic," Hubby said when I returned to the kitchen.
"Really? You broke that one, too?" I could feel the anger churn. I'd been looking forward to this ride all week since I'd not been able to get a ride in because of all the "stuff": work, dentist appointments, more work. I'd had my heart set on riding Sweetness, but now, if I wanted to go, I had to take "The Bette," my new mountain bike (yeah, I finally named the new one when I was rolling along, thinking about my mom, and it occurred to me that my new bike was beautiful and tough, just like my mom).
Because of the whole valve issue, I arrived at the starting point late. Very late. And still feeling the fluster of things going wrong. Thankfully, the guy handing out cue sheets had just started to pull away when I rolled up, so he stopped and asked if I was there for the ride. He handed me a cue sheet, saying there were maybe a dozen others who'd already started off. To me, knowing others were in front of me set up a challenge: could I catch them? I figured there was no way since I was on the mountain bike, so I set off hoping to just meet up with them in Mackinaw and have lunch.
I've found that I truly don't mind riding in any kind of weather these days, which is definitely one of the by-products of the summer ride. Rain, wind, cold, heat. The weather doesn't deter me from getting out. It used to. There were days before the summer ride when if it was raining I wouldn't cycle. If it was windy, I dreaded being on the bike. Today the WNW headwind registered at 14 mph when I left, adding to the chill of the morning. But I didn't think about the cold or the wind. I just rode. And the further I rode, the happier I became.
A couple of miles before reaching one of the small towns on the route, I came around a curve and saw another cyclist ahead of me. I was pleasantly surprised. Not long after passing him and after leaving the small town behind, I saw a group of cyclists beginning to climb one of the hills on the route. I caught up to them at the top and rode the rest of the way to Mackinaw with the group. At the restaurant, I ran into a couple of people I work with, so we had lunch then rode the return ride together, enjoying the wind at our backs for 20+ miles.
And to think that two broken valves almost kept me from riding.
Wednesday, October 3, 2012
- Crossing out the writer's words;
- Crossing out the writer's words and replacing with something else (this one makes me furious);
- Crossing out an entire paragraph;
- Writing a negative comment in the margin and adding three exlamation points after it.
- Don't use contractions (oops! I just used one myself, and I'm an English teacher);
- Don't use I, we, or you in the paper;
- Don't italicize a word unless it comes from a source you are referring to and is italicized in that source;
- Don't use one word as a sentence;
- Don't start a sentence with because;
- Don't start a sentence with and or but;
- Don't ever all-cap a word;
- Don't write long sentences because they'll be run ons (huh? long automatically equals run on?).
Nothing will crush a beginning writer's spirits more than having a person (English teacher, peer, tutor) cross out her work, effectively silencing her voice, while simultaneously wagging the index finger at her and telling her NOT to do all of these things. If a sentence is awkward and confusing, just tell the writer it is so. Let the writer tackle the sentence and rewrite it, hopefully clearing up the awkwardness and confusion. If the writer uses a contraction, simply ask if the assignment allows for such informal language. Same goes for all the other don'ts on the list--ask the writer what her intentions were rather than slamming the door closed all the way around.
End of rant.
To my student whose spirits were visibly crushed today because another student did all of these things and more, I believe in you and your writing abilities. When I read your paper, I smiled from beginning to end because you took risks and played with the language. In the process, you also offered me a glimpse into the extraordinary life of a man who has touched many lives. Even though I read your paper three weeks ago, I still remember the way you turned a phrase and brought life to the words on the page. You communicated with me, and that's exactly what good writing does.
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Today, after nearly 14 years of life interrupting, our parish priest friend arrived to offer a memorial Mass for Mom at my parents' home. I cancelled my classes, called the kids out of school, and we drove over to participate. As soon as we walked through the door, he looked at Lovely Beautiful Daughter and asked, "Where's your tutu?", a ballerina costume made of muted gold satin Lovely Beautiful Daughter wore for days on end when she was three and four years old. She wore it so much that the voile skirt began to tatter and the satin bodice thinned to the point of splitting. She wore it with bright blue socks and red slip on tennis shoes. She wore it to bed, to play in, and to her Mimi's. Lovely Beautiful Daughter laughed, saying the tutu had long ago been retired. "Those were the days," Parish Priest Friend mused.
After marveling over Funny Delightful Son's height and commenting on how Angel Baby shares my facial structure, Parish Priest Friend prepared the Mass. Two of Mom's closest friends, my sister and her husband, my family, and Dad gathered in the living room. When Parish Priest Friend began, he commented on the fact that today's readings were for the Guardian Angels. I had to smile. Mom talked often about believing in angels. She asked me once when I was visiting if I believe in angels. I kind of think she orchestrated today's arrival of Parish Priest Friend just to have her memorial Mass on the day of the Guardian Angels readings.
And in answer to her question: Angel Baby is named for one of the archangels.
Sunday, September 30, 2012
|A favorite pic from the summer. Maybe a hint?|
See? Even now I'm immersing myself in writing rather than doing what needs to be done. I'm caught in a vicious cycle.
Saturday, September 29, 2012
Today, I finally said enough to the negative comments of one individual towards another, both cyclists who rode the BTUSFMS during the summer. I consider both friends, and because I tend to shrink from confrontation, for four months, I kept my thoughts to myself. At this point, I decided my silence about the issue was actually an endorsement of the negative comments. I don't agree with this person's position and finally said so. I should have stepped forward long ago. I know the one friendship is most likely over because of my defense of the other, but I'm okay with this. I don't want ugly in my life.
|Beautiful! Look at those petunias!|
Friday, September 28, 2012
Then I thought about the drive home, how Hubby and I joked and laughed with one another the entire way. I thought about Angel Baby asleep on the couch when I walked in, him waking enough to offer a small smile. When asked if he'd like a grilled cheese, he gave me that little boy look of raised eyebrows and slightly puckered lips I so seldom get anymore because most of the little boy is gone. He actually has the beginnings of a mustache on his upper lip. After practically inhaling the grilled cheese, he asked for another. While we ate, we snuggled together on the couch and watched an episode of "White Collar." I could feel his heart beating as he leaned into me.
My day's plan hadn't been ruined at all. It simply changed. I'll be able to ride another day, enjoy the fall colors another day, through the years to come. My Angel Baby, though, is very quickly leaving childhood behind. Who knows how many more snuggling opportunities will come my way? So even if he calls from school when I'm over an hour away, riding my bike along a path lined with weeping willows adorned with sparkling lights and unicorns tossing their long, silken mane, asking me to come get him because he's not feeling well, I'm going to do it.
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
|Hub and Spokes Side Table Lamp|
|My workbench--all mine.|
|With materials! Thanks bike shop dude for giving me the trash wheels.|
Monday, September 24, 2012
|Me, Brian, and Tanya getting ready to climb, climb, climb!|
I still feel the pull to ride for hours at a time, being out, only thinking about and living in the here and now. When my friend sent me the link to the Gravel Grovel, I immediately knew this was the challenge I'd been searching for. Like with BTUSFMS, I have something to focus on, prepare for. While it's a race, I'm simply hoping to finish in once piece. Climbing on gravel will be tough, no doubt, so I have my work cut out for me as I train over the next eight weeks. I got two good rides in over the weekend, one a 25 miler with a very strong 20 mph headwind for 12.5 miles, the other a 31 miler with lots of riding on the soft, sandy/pebbly shoulder of the back roads, some gravel roads, and some trails up at the lake. The second ride left me tired, that good tired which tells you your body worked hard. If I can continue these kinds of rides over the next 8 weeks, I should be able to finish the metric. I want to set a time goal, but I'll do this once I get closer to race day.
Just as with the BTUSFMS ride, the mere thought of the Gravel Grovel sends shivers through me. I'm scared and excited at the same time. And that's exactly how I like it.