Friday, December 19, 2014

When You Make My Motor Run, My Motor Run.

Friday is random day this week. I have to say, the good thing about having crappy or annoying things happen for the last few weeks, is that this week, that has only been average as far as everything in general is concerned, seems like the best week ever in comparison.

I'm a girl who likes to always have something to look forward to, and so I scheduled a date with my boyfriend for last night. There have been some new, funkier restaurants opening up here in Iowa City. These photos are from the new pizza place/bar/video arcade downtown. Last night, we went to Ride, it is a new bicycle-centric place, owned by a guy I know and the food and drinks were excellent. I love new adventures!

Yesterday morning I was doing a work-out on my bike trainer in the spare bedroom. I like to listen to music when I ride, and my iPhone was on the K's in my playlist. The song "Oh Ta*ra" by the Knack came on. It is one of the few songs I know of with my name in it. My favorite bartender, S. used to play it on the jukebox, followed by "Good Girls Don't". On my playlist, a different song came on instead. This was the conversation I had with John last night:

Me: Hey, sorry about the loud singing during my trainer work-out this morning.

John: You have a beautiful voice. I love to hear you sing.

Me: Even when it's to "My Sharona"?

John: Well, yeah...The song selection could have been better...

Tonight I get to see Coadster graduate from college. I am so damn proud of her. She has worked her ass off to get here. I'm sure I'll cry like a big, fat baby for most of the evening. There might be a few tricky spots with relatives, but I plan on ignoring any drama. This is Coadster's night and she is all that matters.

The cat photos have nothing to do with the rest of the post, but it's Friday. So....CATS!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

And We're Not Little Children. And We Know What We Want.

I picked up our Christmas tree last night. Being an empty nester means I have to wait until Sunday for my daughter to come over and help me decorate it. which is totally fine, especially since both my girls took a few days off work to be able to come back home and hang out with me.

We have so many fun plans for those days. I have to work on Christmas Eve, so Coadster will come into town around dinner time. We'll order a pizza and watch movies and relax. Stinky will be in the Quad Cities for her boyfriend's family Christmas.

Christmas Day, the girls will get their stockings in the morning and we'll do our annual sushi feast for lunch. They will go hang out with their dad and watch a movie because it's his birthday. I hope to spend that time running and/or riding my bike, reading a book and getting dinner ready. We decided on arroz con pollo and refried beans and tortillas and salsa and guacamole and chips, in case anyone wants nachos and I think everyone will be happy.

On Friday, the plan is to go see the last Hobbit movie matinee. We could either go bowling or go to the University rec building and hang out at the pool that has a lazy river and a small rock climbing wall and a huge jacuzzi. In the evening, I will make Fettuccine Alfredo from scratch and some cheese tortellini with creamy pesto with bread and soup for dinner. We have a bunch of board games to play, we might bake some cookies and just have fun.

I'm not sure if Coadster will still be here on Saturday and Sunday, but we can figure things out, for the weekend if she is.

Being an empty nester means my girls are so much more fun to hang out with and up for anything and Christmas is wonderful and relaxing. Aaaaaahhhhh.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

I Used to be Such a Sweet, Sweet Thing, 'Til They Got Hold of Me.

Me and the girls when Coadster had a hard time not loving the baby too hard.
So, it's the holiday season and for me that means the family conundrum. The great thing about this blog, is that hardly anyone reads it anymore, and I can say anything I want. The better thing about this blog, is that I don't think any of my family reads it, so I can vent about them here..

For those of you who don't already know, I had one of those Dickensian childhoods and after I was essentially an orphan, my aunt and uncle who were abusive took us in and made us their indentured servants and did everything they could to crush our self-esteem. For me, that lasted for 8 years. Once I was 18, I fled and for many years, didn't look back. By the time my girls were born, I thought I probably  needed to forgive and never forget, because that is stupid, but I didn't want to lay a bunch of crap on my girls and so I tried and went back for holidays and birthdays. It was okay, at first. My girls got to hang out with my cousins' kids and my sister and her kids and that was just fine.

The problem is, my aunt and uncle are in total denial of how abusive they were and are still not all that pleasant, but they aren't allowed to threaten me, call me names, hit me or make me work around their acreage every second that I'm not in school or asleep anymore. During the holidays, my aunt would still get in her dark and stormy moods and stress everyone out and then a few years ago, she said something really hurtful to my youngest daughter. That was pretty much it for me. If they couldn't be nice, why did we go out of our way to travel to their house and spend our time there? Also, if I didn't stick up for my daughter and protect her from mean people, she would end up with the same self-esteem issues I had, and there was no way in hell I wanted that. So, we don't go anymore and now I actually look forward to the holidays. My girls are old enough to decide for themselves if they want to make the drive there and my oldest daughter was thinking about it for Thanksgiving, but something else came up. Let's hear it for being old enough to know what I don't want to put up with and not wasting my time!

Of course, it's a little trickier with my brother's wife. She has many of the same issues my aunt has, just not in the same degree. She doesn't get me or like me and I clearly don't understand her. Lately, she has been leaving disparaging comments about me on my FB posts. It's kind of bizarre. Who hasn't wanted to comment to something you thought was lame on FB. Hell, I can look at half of my S-I-L's posts and roll my eyes too, but then I just ignore them. I don't write hurtful, judgmental things and embarrass her in front of her other friends, because what's the point of creating all that drama and negative energy? At first, I just deleted the whole post, the next time I ignored it, but yesterday, I actually responded and my sister responded and John responded and I hope that keeps her from doing it again. JAYSUS!

Let's hear it for Churlita! Fighting bullies on-line and off. Now, I finally stuck up for myself and am feeling strong and in a better place to wish peace on earth and all that other crap to you all.

Monday, December 15, 2014

It's Lovely Weather for a Bike Ride Together With You

Well, the crawl space is done, for the most part. The guys didn't get finished until almost 8 o'clock on Friday. We decided we probably should wait until the next day to reattach the ducts for the furnace. It was unseasonable warm, so that made our decision to go another night without heat much easier.

The next morning we checked out their handiwork and it all looked great. They said it should be dry enough down there that we could even store stuff, if we wanted to. What a huge difference.

The next morning, we quickly set about cleaning the old ducts that we assume haven't been touched since the house was built around 1950, or so. Of course, we had to take them all apart to make them fit through the entrance. Then, we had to get them in the right spot, put them all back together and rehang them. Nothing ever fits the way it's supposed to, so it took us most of the day to get this done. Our friend Seaghan helped and John did most of the work. I helped as long as I could, but I had a bad migraine and it got to the point where I had to go throw up, take my meds and pass-out for a couple of hours.

By Saturday evening, my headache was gone and we had our heat back on. Hooray for John!

We had a few parties we got invited to, but we basically had to bail on all of them. Instead, I made tempeh reubens and heated up potato soup and we watched the end of a movie. It was about all I was up for anyway.

On Sunday, we vowed not to enter the crawl space at all. The weather was amazing for Iowa in December and we rode our road bikes the 50 miles to Kalona and back.

The last few times, we've ridden with friends of ours who don't ride as much as we do, so we slowed down a lot and the rides were much easier. This time, it was just John and I. The headwinds were strong going out, and then coming back, we went really hard for me. it was good to get my heartrate up and to feel sore today.

The roads were very wet, so I was covered with mud freckles by the time we got to Kalona. On the way home, we saw two deer running like crazy across a field to cross the road in front of us. It's shotgun season here, so the deer are pretty worked up. Behind the two deer, another one was coming a ways back, and a motorcycle was heading toward us on the other side of the road. I was so afraid he wouldn't see the last deer, but he slowed down, and my heart came back down my throat and into my chest again. Anyway, this was the latest in December we've been able to do a road ride in a few years, and it was sooooo nice.

Friday, December 12, 2014

I Strut Right By With My Tail in the Air

We all survived the first day of work on the crawl space. Needless to say, the cats were NOT happy. They had no idea where the men's voices and the loud noises were coming from, the dust filled air was also disconcerting

Surprisingly, Heidi was much braver than Archie. She was ever cautious, but she ventured out into the living room to hang out with us and Archie  cowered under our bed until the noises had stopped for at least a half hour.

Then he did a lot of hilarious looking, low crouch stalking of the house, stopping to look around at every turn. 

We'll see how he's holding up after I get off work today...

They are supposed to be finished with the work sometime this afternoon. Then, John and I will have the lovely task of crawling around down there and re-affixing the main duct to the furnace. I am planning a nice stress-relieving run and then downing a cocktail or two before we get started, just to make sure we don't end up in divorce court next week. Wish us luck!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

I Learned How to Laugh and I Learned How to Cry

Apparently, it is a day of randomness on my blog today. Feel free to suffer through it...

Horses never know what to think about cyclists. On one hand we look like we move like them, but we are humans and we only have two legs. They always seem to be trying to figure us out when we ride on by.

I like to eat pretty food. I made this lovely spinach salad with feta, raspberries and walnuts. A taste treat the whole family can enjoy!

This was a salmon salad with avocado, feta, kalamata olives, and red onions over mixed greens. Good and good for you.

Today is the big day. The guys are coming to work on our crawlspace. We're a little worried that something will come up and they won't be able to do what they claimed, but we'll see how it goes.

We had to unhook the main duct for our furnace in order for them to do the work, which  means we will be without heat for the next couple of days. Luckily, it's been a warmer Winter than last  year so far, but I have a feeling we'll still feel a bit chilly here for a few little whiles.

The other house project I've been working on is priming and painting the three different colors of paneling above the stairs leading to the dormer room. It is tricky because the ceiling is ridiculously high, but I will just have to prop a ladder against the back wall to get the corners and places that the roller on the very long handle can't reach. Also, Archie does stink when I am trying to paint and keep his fat ass out of my way at the same time.

John has never been big on bringing me flowers. He doesn't sing me love songs either. Which is just fine with me. He is overly generous in every other way and has bought me bikes before and that is so much better. Plus, I was single for so many years that I got used to buying my own damn flowers when I wanted them. He doesn't really have the best singing voice either...

Last week I bought myself some daisies. I wanted to cheer myself up after that huge pain in my ass (this time a muscle, not Archie). After a few days, the stems lost their strength and the flowers started to loll over the vase. Which looked pretty cool too.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

I Look Around. Leaves are Brown and The Sky is a Hazy Shade of Winter.

 Oh, Iowa. How I love your skies.

So, yeah. I've had a lot going on lately. I was summoned to federal jury duty on Monday. I had to drive an hour to Davenport and an hour back. I sat through the whole jury picking process, but luckily, I didn't get picked to serve. Of course, I'm not sure if I have to keep calling in the rest of the month, or if that was it. I guess I'll find out on Friday when I call in again...

Also, my butt is much better. Thanks for asking. I went from not being able to walk, to being able to walk very slowly and then dropping to my knees in pain when I moved the wrong way, to walking very slowly, with the pain lessening, to now where I can walk normally, I can actually sleep in almost every position again, and I can ride my trainer. I am going to try to run a little tonight. If all I can do is walk, I like that too, so that's okay. But I will run gently,  if it doesn't hurt. I am excited to give it a try again.

In year's past, I have kept my bike trainer in the garage, where there isn't any heat. I work so hard on it, that even if it's below zero outside, I am sweating like a crazy person after 20 minutes or so. The only problem with that, is that I am a wuss. Especially when I ride home from work in the freezing cold, the last thing I want to do is go back out into the freezing cold garage, for another hour or two of a trainer work-out, and I only worked out on it about half as often as I would have, if I hadn't wussed-out.

So, now I put it in the spare bedroom, where I will be much too warm after I get started, but I hopefully won't wuss-out like I did all those times last Winter. Plus, I have two fans on me and I can open the window when things get too warm.

Archie eyes the trainer a bit suspiciously. Who knows what the hell that thing will do...

I had to get things set-up for it this year as well. The battery on my bike computer died, so John was nice enough to change it out and get it back rolling. I also needed a clock with a second hand on it. So, John installed a clock app on my phone. Now I can keep track of my RPM's on my Tabata intervals, and kill myself even more during my work-outs. Lucky me! I also have a nice view of the outside, and if I don't feel like working out as hard and just want to spin a little, I can set up John's laptop and watch a movie or an hour of a Netflix show and pedal. The only bad thing is, now I have absolutely NO excuse not to ride. I'm sure I'll think of something...

This is also the room where we keep our cactus garden. I love having a cactus garden in Iowa in the Winter. It feeds my self-diagnosed oppositional defiance disorder.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

You Have No Scars on Your Face, and You Cannot Handle Pressure.

Sometimes I feel like I'm having some kind of anxiety attack, and it just ends up being a bad combination of dehydration and trapped gas.

Friday, December 05, 2014

They Only Let Him Hang Around Out of Kindness, I Suppose

 I'll call this entry, "The Ballad of Archie and Joey". Our cats really enjoy looking out the window.

You know, because...SQUIRRELS!

As of late, the cats have been plagued by an evil neighbor cat, named Joey. Joey is bigger than Archie (if you can imagine that), fluffier than Archie, and worst of all, JOEY IS ALLOWED TO RUN AROUND FREELY WHENEVER HE WANTS! Obviously, Archie hates Joey and wishes he would go away and never come back. Which is exactly why Joey gets right up to the window when he sees Archie, hisses and continually flaunts the fact that HE IS ALLOWED TO RUN AROUND FREELY WHENEVER HE WANTS!

 Heidi would like to help with the battle against Joey, but she is skittish and scared. She will follow Archie from window to window, but she can't bear to look outside and actually see the evil beast, Joey. Poor thing.

After Joey leaves, Archie likes to lie on his fake sheepskin in front of the faux fireplace and feel fakely superior.

Of course, all of Archie's false bravado goes to shit when Heidi and one of his humans are napping on the couch. He will always join in on the cuddle puddle, fall fast asleep and dream of the day when he defeats the dreaded Joey and is finally ALLOWED TO RUN AROUND FREELY WHENEVER HE WANTS!

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Well That's One Way to Lose These Walking Blues.

Sorry, I've been off the blog most of the week. I did an icy trail race on Thanksgiving morning and fell hard on my arse. I remember at the time thinking, "Hey! No broken bones." and then I got up and scampered away to the end of the race. Everything seemed fine.(except for my slow time)

The rest of the holiday weekend I swam laps, I ran on the road and even rode 50 miles to Kalona and back with some friends on the muddy, muddy Iowa roads. I did feel a little soreness on Friday evening and early Saturday, but it went away right before our ride.

Our ride was wonderful and fun. The dirt roads were actually mud and we had to choose the center line in the road, unless we wanted to sink down. We just watched the road ahead closely for cars and buggies.

A couple of friendly dog chases and a cautious buggie passing later, and we landed in Kalona. My friend John said my dish wheels looked like spin art, and I had to agree. Next time, I'll have to ride in more colorful mud for the full spin art effect.

Thanks for the photo, Gibby.
 We made it to Kalona and the staff there was very sweet about dealing with our mud butts sitting on their fine furniture. Coadster even showed up, but we had to say goodbye to her there, because she headed back to Ames after lunch.

 Oh, look! Another shadow selfie of me on my bike. At least I'm consistent.

 We rode home as the sun was heading down, creating some of the best light I've ever seen. I love riding my bike in any season, but seeing the fading Winter light on a bike ride is pretty spectacular.

 Had to get an obligatory mud butt shot. Even with the mud stripes, the view is always best from behind.

I know this is a bad photo, but what you're seeing here is an Amish man pulling a buggy full or children and goats - both kinds of kids.

So, after the bike ride and even the next day, when I ran 4.5 miles, I had no pain whatsoever. Sunday night,  Stinky was over and ate veggie lasagna for dinner with us. We settled in on the couch to watch a few episodes of "Freaks and Geeks", but then I stood up. No problem. I tried to walk. BIG problem. It felt like someone was sticking rebar into my right hip.

Sleeping was tough, but walking was almost out of the question. I stayed home from work, but the doctor couldn't get me in until Tuesday morning.

The next morning, John drove me to my appointment and he finally got to meet my doctor. I know it's weird how much I love her, but even John agreed that my general practitioner was awesome. She ruled out everything else, but muscle inflammation, prescribed anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants and immediate Physical Therapy.

Today, I'm finally back at work, with my jacket wadded up and sitting underneath my right cheek. Walking can still be tricky, but the pain is lessening and I am hopeful that I'll be riding my bike into the sunset again in no time.

Let me be your cautionary tale, kids. Don't do icy trail races, or maybe, don't do icy trail runs when you're old...Okay, the best advice I can really give you all is, don't be old. You're welcome.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Voices Carry

Archie would like to wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving. He is one hell of a turkey, weighing in at 21 lbs. He has asked to be stuffed with salmon and tuna juice, please and thank you.

I will leave you for the holiday with some of my favorite overheards from the Living History Farms run:

At the beginning of the race a girl started yelling, "Go faster! Run! Ruuuuuun!" Her boyfriend said something to her that I couldn't hear then she said, "Wait. We have seven miles of this? Oh my God! I'm gonna diiiiiiieeee!

Half way through the race, a dad said to his son, "You didn't come here to stay clean, did you?"

On the home stretch, I was looking at all the muddy butts ahead of me, when I said to John, "We all look like we pooped ourselves." The guy dressed like King Tut, running ahead of me, turned around and said, "Some of us actually did!"

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

I Gotta Keep On Movin'. Yeah, Movin'.

Last Saturday, John and I did the Living History Farms Run. it's the biggest Cross country running race in the country. It is 7 miles with insane muddy ravine climbs and ice cold stream crossings. A lot of people dress in costumes. The guy in the photo above parked by us and let me take his photo. I would love to have seen what that dress looked like after the race, but never saw him again. 

I had no idea how I would do in the race. I wasn't sure if I'd even be able to finish it. My first goal was to run 3 miles of it without my calf hurting me too much. After I accomplished that, my next goal was to run the entire 7 miles without stopping. Once it was clear I was going to be able to do that, my goal was to finish the run in an hour and 30 minutes. I was able to finish in an hour and 14 minutes. Like I always say, set your goals low enough and you will actually meet them.

I found this photo on the internets. The only reason it's on here, is so you all can see Gene Simmons in a heart blanket in the background. So sweet.

Photo of the booze cruise, by the booze cruise among the river ice chunks.
After the running race, we had a couple of hours before we did a bike race called Survivor CX, along much of the same brutal, muddy terrain. There was a group of amazing women who call themselves the booze cruise who do the race and bring flasks and those little hotel bottles of liquor and they do the whole "race" on a lark and drink and ride and take photos.

I wanted to see how well I could actually do in my 2nd race of the day and my daughter was going to come by around 2:30 and pick me up for an hour or so before she had to go to work, so I was under a time constraint. I had to decline the invitation to join the booze cruise. I got stuck behind them at the start and had a hard time getting around, but when I did, I thought I'd power as much as I could before I got to the first creek crossing. Right before I hit the water, I felt something hit my wheel. I looked down and saw a large stick had shot up and jammed my rear derailleur into my spokes. Crap! I got up the creek and had a guy bend the derailleur away from the spokes to see if I could keep going. the booze cruise caught up to me and when they found out my predicament, one of them offered me a flask of Fireball and said, "Well, it sounds like as good an excuse as any to drink." I took a swig and figured I'd try to ride with them for a lap and then DNF. My bike was ghost shifting all over the place and it was driving me crazy. That didn't last long before my derailleur completely snapped and it, along with my chain, was hanging loosely from my bike. I shouldered my bike back to the start, handed in my timing chip and texted Coadster that I was done early.

It just so happened that her appointment got canceled, and she showed up at my car a minute or so after I texted her. Weird. We took off and John said he would meet me at the Machine Shed when his race was over. Around 4'ish, he thought.

Coadster and I found a place to eat appetizers and had a good talk and as we were getting ready to pay the bill, I got a text from john. He, by some bizarre coincidence had also snapped his derailleur and had to quit the race. Coadster got me to the Machine Shed and I drank beer and hung out with John and the Des Moines racers until about 6 o'clock when John and I headed back to Iowa City. I found out later I won a Brooks saddle in a raffle. So, it made up for not getting to finish my race.