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Monday, May 28, 2012

BTUSFMS Donations Update

New Bike the US for MS total: $7324.

I'm still in awe over how thoughtful, generous, kind, supportive, and encouraging so many people have been these past six months.

P.S. Even since posting this last night, another donation came in, making the total now $7424. Never in my wildest dreams . . ..

Sunday, May 27, 2012

What To Do?

With just five days until the BTUSFMS group leaves out of Yorktown, I'm thinking I'm as ready to go as I can be. I've been getting the small stuff righted around--last minute things like razors (I can't do hairy legs), pomade for the new locks (work a dab in and tousle the hair for that just got out of bed messy look), and a small bottle of suntan lotion to carry in the handlebar bag (even though I slathered on the lotion just before I left out on my long ride a couple of days ago, my shoulders still got burned and still sting four days later). Apparently I need to reapply the lotion periodically while out. Now that the little things are out of the way, I feel like I'm twiddling my thumbs. What now?

Having spent so much time and energy on getting ready, I'm flummoxed as to what to do now. A couple of things that come to mind on this hot, 90 degree plus day: drink a Stella, hang out on the deck and read, load all my stuff into the SUV and sit and wait there (could get a tad stifling and since I have three more days until we leave for Yorktown, I think I'll wait on this one), drink another Stella.

Yeah, the Stella sounds good.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Clouds Have Parted

Wow! I didn't realize just how lousy I was feeling for so dang long. Well, I kinda knew, but now, this morning, truly feeling like I have my body back, the one that I thought had deserted me10 years ago, I realize I was merely going through the motions of trying to not let anyone else see how miserable I was feeling. Yeah, 10 years. I remember the very first day of feeling lousy 10 years ago, and how I believed my body was betraying me. I went to my GP, my gynie, and even a mental health counselor to try and find answers to what was happening to me. My GP referred me to a neurologist (I never went). My gynie suggested I start taking Prozac (she is no longer my gynie). The mental health counselor just shrugged and said, "Sounds like depression. Lots of people are depressed." I didn't like the answers any of these professionals gave me, so I set out on my own to find the answers to what was happening to me.

I began reading anything and everything I could get my hands on. All the paths were leading to one culprit: perimenopause. Not being one to want to take meds of any kind, I worked to ease the symptoms the natural way. Over the years, I've become mostly vegetarian (I admit, I love a good, greasy hamburger every now and then), caffeine free (though I allow myself a cola after a ride of 50 miles or more), and cut way back on the sugar intake (which is extremely difficult with a sugar addict in the house, though even he has now been candy free for over two weeks!). I limit the amount of processed foods and white breads I eat, going so far as to eat the wonderful, greasy hamburger bunless. These measures, along with regular exercise, did seem to reduce the severity of the symptoms to being tolerable, and when I go on a binge and eat items that are on the No-No list, I can feel the adverse effects, at which time I kick myself for being lazy and basically have to start all over again.

All of my work to regulate my wacky body seemed to be for naught the last three months, though. No matter what I ate, no matter how many hours I was spending on the bike doing interval training or going for long distances, I was gaining weight, feeling incredibly tired all the time, unable to truly focus, and as if these things weren't enough, I was having two periods a month. I couldn't take it anymore. I didn't want to do the summer ride feeling so horrible. I caved and went to my new gynie.

During the visit, I explained to her what had been going on. She listened then offered several options. We settled on combining two of the three options before the ride, aiming to give me relief from having two periods a month, and early yesterday morning, both options were exercised. This morning, I woke up feeling like I've awakened from a 10 year dream. Just looking at my body in the mirror, I can see the puffiness from the constant water retention is gone. I feel truly rested, not hoping a hot shower followed by a minute of standing under cold water will wake me up. I feel happy rather than sad.

Now I'm truly ready for the ride.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Happy News

Finally, the official word came through: promotion granted. I've known unofficially for a little more than a month now that my promotion review team had recommended me for promotion, but until the Board of Trustees says yes, the recommendation is just hanging in limbo. And because my mind works the way it does, for the last five weeks, I've had thoughts of the Board scrutinizing the recommendation, picking it apart, rubbing their hands together in glee just before banging the gavel down, emphatically saying, "Denied!", much like Suze Orman does to those who don't have the money to buy the luxury item they really want.

Thankfully, my little scenarios are only in my head. Today the email I've been waiting for arrived in my inbox. Like a little kid who'd just received the best piece of candy from the pinata, I did a booty dance in my chair and waved my hands in the air. My title as of the fall semester will be Professor II of English, which means I'll have to change my name plate next to my office door and I'll have to get new calling cards. Sigh. Life is definitely good.

Monday, May 14, 2012

From Idea to Reality

You know how a great idea occurs to you at the last minute? And it's one of those sit straight up in bed in the middle of the night ideas that won't leave you alone until you do something about it? That's what happened to me with the jersey I suddenly decided I had to create for the BTUSFMS ride this summer. I knew without even hesitating what I wanted to have on the front: a large sunflower. Mom loved sunflowers. I'm no artist, though, so even though a sunflower isn't all that difficult to create, I knew I wasn't going to capture what was bouncing around in my head. I do have, however, a beautiful artist friend who has been my friend since the fourth grade. I knew Connie would understand what I wanted and be able to design the idea I put in front of her. In a matter of just a couple of days, she had the design ready. She even got in touch with the company creating the jersey and spoke to the point person there to make sure the design happened just as I envisioned it. Today, I received the pre-production design for approval. I so approve.


Though the jersey won't be ready for the day we leave from Yorktown, I'll get it not long after we start out. As long as I get to wear it one day of the ride, I'll be happy.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Back Pasture Horse Shows


My boys gave me the best Mother's Day gift. I went to them yesterday afternoon, very last minute, and asked if they would go with me to visit Mom's grave on Mother's Day. Without hesitation, without saying they didn't want to give up their Sunday, they both nodded and said, "Of course." So early this morning we headed out on the two and a half hour drive. We stopped to get a bouquet of roses just before arriving to the cemetery, and when we pulled up, we saw the new grave marker had been put into place. As we walked to the grave, Funny Delightful Son pointed to the snow-white peacock in the pasture just beyond. Angel Baby tugged at my arm and pointed to two alpacas near the fence a little ways to the right. Mom has beautiful animals looking over her all the time.

My boys stood next to me, my youngest again taking my hand much like he did at Mom's funeral, and we placed the pink roses on top of her marker. On the drive over, I'd thought about so many things Mom had done for me when I was a kid. One of my favorite memories is of us having our own horse shows with Mom being the judge. We would make our own ribbons out of construction paper: blue being first place, red being second, yellow being third, and pink being fourth. Usually it was me, my sisters, sometimes my youngest brother, and a friend who lived down the road who "competed" in these back pasture horse shows. Mom always made sure each of us won something. Seems so long ago now. But the fun we had, the laughter, the joy over being able to ride horses, all encouraged by Mom, takes me right back to those sunny summer days.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom. Love you. Miss you. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Dreaming of Happy Coexistence

A very heated discussion is brewing in the Twin Cities over adding bike lanes to Main Street. With three cycle shops in the two cities, and several cycling groups that include road cyclists as well as mountain bikers and BMX enthusiasts, the voice advocating for the bike lanes is strong. To bring even more attention to the concerns of cyclists, the Twin Cities is participating in the Ride of Silence on May 16. The announcement of this event on top of the proposed bike lanes is creating quite the stir.

As I read the comments offered after the Ride of Silence article in the local newspaper, I tried to understand why the pro-motorists believe cyclists should stay off the roads. The only conclusion I kept arriving at was anti-cyclist motorists don't want to have to be mindful of anything but getting to where they want to go as quickly as they possibly can. Having to be aware of cyclists means not being able to text, not being able to eat a hamburger or drink a cola, not being able to put on lipstick, and not being able to do all the other distracting things motorists do while driving. Doing anything that might take one's attention from the road and thus results in an accident equals fault. What better way to avoid ending up in this position? Advocate for cyclists to stay off the roads.

On my way home from work, I watched a young woman roll through what was to be a stop. She barely slowed before taking the turn. Motorist violation. I then came upon two pedestrians walking across the street in front of me. They weren't in a crosswalk, and they didn't seem too concerned that I was traveling towards them at the posted speed limit of 30 mph. Pedestrian violation. Then I saw a cyclist riding against traffic. Cyclist violation. 

While each of these instances made me shake my head in dismay, the thought occurred to me that the roads really could be for everyone: motorists, cyclists, pedestrians. But for happy coexistence to happen, a change in mindset is required, and this is where the waters turn murky. All users would have to take on equal responsibility. The tone of the comments after the newspaper article indicate this isn't likely to happen.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Getting My Ducks in a Row

Even with a wonderful breeze blowing through the window right next to me, and even though it's been three hours since I arrived home and took a cold shower, I'm still sweating after my 60 miler today. 80+ degrees along with high humidity turned me into a sweat factory. I can't get enough to drink which tells me I didn't drink nearly enough during the ride. I'm bad about eating and drinking enough, so figuring out what amounts to "enough" is definitely one of the must-do's before I begin the ride.

Last night's stay in the tent went great. With the super moon and a cool breeze, the night was perfect. The new sleeping bag worked out just fine, giving me a comfortable sleep out in the back yard. After much research online, going to several sporting goods stores, and emailing a route leader on what kind of bag to get, I settled on the Columbia Reactor 35. I'm sure most nights I'll be sleeping on top of the bag, with just a light sheet, but once we hit Colorado, I might need the warmth it'll provide. If I need more warmth than what the bag will offer, I'll put on the sweatshirt and sweat pants. Last night, the temps stayed in the upper 60's, so the bag was mostly unzipped, just my feet covered.
Poor guy got run over by the truck that had just passed me!

On today's ride, I tried out my new camera. I had set aside money for the tent and sleeping bag, and since I didn't spend the entire amount budgeted, I used the leftover for a nice little digital. I have to give credit for this to JRA at One Speed: Go. He did a great review on the Panasonic Lumix DMC ZS20, so I checked out the different levels of the Lumix and went with the ZS19. The ZS19 was a tad less expensive but still had all the components I really wanted. The only downside, and this has nothing to do with the camera, is I have to take off my sunglasses and put on my tri-focals every time I want to take a picture. I can't tell if the image is in focus without the darn glasses.  I trust the camera, but . . ..

Came around a curve to see this!
I found this place after deciding to continue on the road I was riding rather than taking a left and going east. This was at the point where I was really tired of fighting a headwind. I'd been riding into it for 30 miles and really wanted to head east or west to get a bit of a break, but then I thought what the heck, just keep going for another two miles then turn around and let the wind push me home. That another two miles turned into seven, and in the process I came upon this barn with the car on top. I only have one question: Why?

At this point, I'm feeling pretty good about where I am with all this getting ready for the ride. The ducks are lining up nicely.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Must-Have's and Must-Do's

Well, even I couldn't take the new look of the blog after letting it sit for a week, viewing it, then viewing it again. The minimalist look just wasn't cutting it, so after playing around some, the blog is what it is for now. I hope to play around with it further as I'm still not at all smitten with the background, the layout, and the color scheme. I have an idea in mind, but making that idea reality is just not happening, mostly because I'm not ready to sit down for a couple of hours to work on it. Other things are pulling at me, mainly finishing up the semester and getting the must-have's for the ride. The semester is coming to a smooth close. The must-have's are taken care of--I finally settled on a sleeping bag after reading tons of reviews, visiting four sporting goods stores, and emailing a route leader to get his input. The wiffle-waffling had to stop if I was going to have a bag to sleep in the first night of the ride. I'll be sleeping in said bag tonight, in the new tent, to see if it'll pass muster.

Besides the must-have's I was issued a couple of must-do's by Hubby: a health physical and the usual yearly for women (which I usually do every three or four years much to the consternation of my friends). I'm not huge on docs. I figure if I eat healthfully and exercise regularly, I'm good. The health physical said as much. All the blood work came back as being within the normal ranges. My blood pressure was 110/70. My pulse 64. Not bad. The womanly yearly? Don't know the results yet. However, (this is where if you're a guy and you don't want to read about lady bits, you might want to stop reading) the doc did do an ultrasound of my womanly parts because of some of my complaints. Being 48, I'm heading towards menopause. This has been going on for about 10 years. The last two months have been rather awful. Seems my body is in overdrive, producing an egg then purging the egg more than the usual one time. After the ultrasound, Doc put her arm around me and pointed to an image from the ultrasound, saying, "See that follicle? That means you're in for another period in about two weeks." I'd just finished having one.  I really don't want this happening during the ride. Talk about one unhappy camper! On top of that, she pointed to the numbers that indicate the size of my uterus, saying, "It's twice the size it should be." Yes, my body has been very busy lately. So we talked about options and during the next two weeks I will be undergoing a couple of those options. While I'm not thrilled about how close to the ride these procedures are happening, I will be thrilled if I can go the two months without womanly issues keeping me from enjoying the the ride.

Other than that . . .. The last couple of days I've gotten some good rides in. 50+ miles the last two days and some hill work the two days before that. Tomorrow I'm hoping to go 60+, so I'll be up early and out of the tent long before the rest of the family even thinks about getting up. At least that's the plan.