Friday, May 20, 2016

No More Lookin' for Dead Relatives in All the Wrong Places...



Well, kids. It's been a looong week. On Monday afternoon I got some bad juju. Going through The Change, I never have any idea what the hell is going on with my body on any given day. By Monday night I was sooo dizzy and puking and I could barely sit up. I did try to go to work and function, because at first, I thought it might be that I had a migraine without the pain, which can cause all of that badness too. I didn't even make it an hour before I went home and basically slept for two days straight. I think it might have been the stomach flu, but, again, who the hell knows?

Anyway, I'm feeling better today and ready to write about happier times...Like last weekend. It was Coadster's birthday weekend, so her boyfriend, and most importantly, our GRAND PUPPY came to town.


On Friday night we went to Shorts for dinner and then watched "Dead Pool". It was a nice mellow night...Except the part where the grand puppy and Archie created some drama what with their whining (hers) and their hissing (his).


On Saturday, I was still recovering a bit from the cold I had the week before. I did get some resting in and worked in the garden and mowed the lawn and then I had to rest. I took a nice little nap and then got up and we got ready to take Coadster out for her birthday dinner in Kalona. It was graduation weekend here, so we figured going to another town would be safer. The food was great and then the kids all went out and John and stayed home with the animals. Worked for me!

The brew pub is in downtown West Branch, next to this cool place for kids to play with their families.
On Sunday I was feeling a little better. We had plans with friends to ride bikes to West Branch at noon. There were four of us riding and a couple more friends were going to meet us in West Branch.


It was about a perfect day to ride and for the most part, the roads were low on car traffic.


We stopped at the Down Under - the new brew pub in town. It's in a basement has the coolest looking stone walls and an excellent craft brew selection.


Afterwards, we stopped into the Mexican restaurant for a late lunch/early dinner. the food was good and Coadster met us after she and her boyfriend got done taking couple's pictures (it's what she wanted for her birthday).


We rode back on the trail in town until we got to the highway. Here is another obligatory silo photo, just in case you forgot that we ride bikes in Iowa or something...


We stopped in a little town called, Morse on the way home to visit with the friendly hippo.


Then we stopped at Newport St Mary's church and cemetery.


It is a gorgeous little cemetery...And check out those clouds.


Our friend, John H. does this thing where he leads us on wild goose chases to check out land that used to be owned by his grandfather, or a house where his second cousin twice removed once lived, or, in this case, the grave of one of his uncles. If we are riding road bikes, we can be assured that any of these places will take us on gnarly gravel or if we're not, there will be a vicious, chasing dog nearby. Also, as in this case, we rarely are able to find said dead relative or their land. Of course, as much as we tease him about it, it's always a great adventure.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

She's a Good Girl. Loves Her Mama.


It was a great weekend with and for my girls. Firstly, it was Coadster's 24th birthday. How the holy hell did she get that old? It was just yesterday that she was a sweet, little, sassy 4 year old and I would sit and wonder what kind of person she would grow to be.

The answer to that, is that she would grow to be a sweet, sassy woman with so much purpose and great ideas and a little too hard on herself, but she's still in her early 20's, so I'm hoping she learns to let herself off the hook a little more.

She is just finishing her first year of teaching. Her students loved her, she got them so interested in current events and history and her fellow teachers are offering her jobs to head the student government and another coaching job for next year. She Is also an amazing dog mom. She educates herself on a daily basis, she treats her depression with endorphins and is usually pretty good at letting me know when the sads are getting the best of her, so I can be there for her, and she does her best to be a wonderful big sister to Stinky. She has grown into quite an amazing woman.

My girls have always had a love/annoy each other relationship.

Stinky is rocking the adult world herself. She has always been one of those really smart kids with incredible test scores, who fails to apply herself. She likes hands-on stuff. She would get an A in physics, because she could build a cool bridge, but do poorly on any assignment where she was asked to read a book and write a paper on it. So, by the time she graduated from high school, she was clearly not ready to go on to college. she had many people tell her that if she didn't go on to college right after high school, that she would never go. In my classy, mom of the year style, I told her that was bull sh*t. I told her to do what her gut told her, and what felt right for her and she decided not to go to college after high school. Instead, she worked at a grocery store, retail and restaurants. If I've said it once, I've said it a million times, nothing gets you motivated for a formal education like working sh*t jobs.

Soooo, after a few years, Stinky went to the local community college, worked two jobs, took a full load of courses and ended up with a 3.25 grade point. I told her how proud I was of her and she told me she was proud of herself...Which is the best thing.

Anyway, my girls are rocking their lives in the way that works for them and that's all I can hope for. Yea girls!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

This One Goes Out to the Ones I Love


I don't know how this weekend could have been any better (okay, except for winning the lottery). I asked John if he wanted to go on a mountain biking date on Friday after work. It was 80 degrees and perfect outside, which makes it hard to be at work on Friday afternoon, but it really helped to have something to look forward to.


I love mountain biking, but I am still too scared to ride certain things. I may never get over that, but who cares? I ride what I can and I walk what I can't. I am getting braver the more I ride the trails, so who knows where I'll finally get as far as bravery is concerned....


Saturday morning was very nice. John went to help work on the course at the Johnson County Fairgrounds for Jingle Cross. I probably should have too, but I had so much to do in the garden. So, I stayed home and did my own thing. Which turned out to be a really nice trail run. I didn't go hard or fast, but I just ran slowly and checked out the sights...


Toward the end of my run, one of those sights turned out to be Coadster. We got to run together for about a mile and then she went to meet her dad at the high school soccer fields to watch a game and I went home to get some reading and tea drinking done.


When Coadster got back from the soccer game, she and I decided to ride bikes to the Farmer's market. During the month of May, you can get a $2 coupon to use if you ride your bike or walk to the farmer's market. I used mine for asparagus and Coadster used hers for sugar cookies. Yum.


We also had a nice brunch. When my girls were little, we went to the Farmer's Market almost every Saturday. It has easily doubled in size since the 90's, with all kinds of food venues, in addition to the great produce and arts and crafts. It was a lovely morning.


I spent the afternoon gardening and doing yard work. I grubbed out a bunch of volunteer trees in our yard, mowed some grass and dug up and planted my new garden space. John got back from working on the Jingle Cross Course, only to help with yard work and clean out the gutters.  We both done good.


That night, I made salmon, baked potatoes and the asparagus from the farmer's market for dinner, had a cocktail and watched "After the Thin Man". If there was a way for my day to be any fuller, I'm sure I don't know how.


Mother's Day was just as lovely. I ran in the morning, I read more if my book and then I gardened in the my older, bigger space. I all told, I believe I planted 7 tomato plants, about 10 basil plants, many, many marigolds, 10 lilies and about 6 gladiolas. I still have to plant some peppers, lettuce, more marigolds, lilies, cone flowers and zinnias. Sheesh!

In the afternoon, John and I rode to Solon to meet my girls, Stinky's boyfriend, his mom and brother for Mother's Day dinner and beer. It was a wonderful ride and meal and once we got back home, were all ready to rest. I really couldn't ask for a better family or a better life...All except that whole winning the lotto thing.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

And They're All Made Out of Ticky Tacky and They all Look Just the Same



Man, I have so many things to post and at not much time to post them. So, if I have so many fun things to do and not enough time to write about them, I guess that's a very good thing. What it means to you all, is that now I'm finally getting around to writing about my day off LAST Tuesday.

I took a vacation day on Tuesday. It was supposed to be nice out and I thought I could garden in the morning and then go for a nice, long, ride after lunch. Of course, nothing ever goes exactly like you think, so while I did garden some and ride my bike some, it wasn't at all like I envisioned.

I woke-up giddy as a school girl at the prospect of a whole day to myself. I went on a nice little run, came home and was about to go on the porch with a blanket and a cup of tea, to read my book, but when I opened the door, Heidi ran out. My hands were full, so there wasn't much I could do. She isn't at all like Archie, who, all I have to do is say the word, "TREAT!" and he comes running. Heidi ran from one group of plants to the next. I had to open the breezeway, close the door to the laundry room to keep Archie from getting out and then leave the back door open in hopes that Heidi would get bored, or scared and run back in. I tried a couple of things to coax her, but all for naught. Instead, I decided to go about my chores and I hung the laundry on the clothesline and then started mowing the front yard. After I finished cutting the grass, I checked the laundry room to see if Heidi had gone in yet. I happened to see her little gray on the top of the stairs to the dormer room. Yes! I closed the door and decided to eat lunch and watch a cheesy HGTV show, before starting in on the garden.

I got about half the big garden's soil ready and then set a little fence around the area where I wanted to dig a smaller garden, now that one of our big trees are down and we might actually have enough sunshine in one part of my yard to grow tomatoes. I wanted to make sure John was okay with the placement. Sometimes unsymmetrical things bug him and, as you've probably guessed, I don't even notice things like that.


Anyway, by the time I finally got out on my bike, it was much later than I thought it would be, plus the winds were way stronger than the Weather Channel predicted. So, I originally thought I would ride to the Amanas and sit in their lovely beer garden with my cheese danish and drink one of Millstream's wonderful rootbeers and have nice little rest before I headed back and had me a tailwind. But since I didn't have the time or the energy to ride into a headwind that far, I rode to a little town called Oxford and then thought I would ride to North Liberty from there and take a bike path most of the way home to Iowa City. The big problem with this plan, was that I have NO sense of direction, so I rode down all three streets of Oxford, trying to find my way out of town and finally saw the little out building by John's grandparent's old farm that let me know I was finally on the right road to North Liberty.

That part of the ride was really nice. I had most of the road to myself and a nice cross or tailwind and then I hit North Liberty...Que' Lastima! I got there right at rush hour, with construction and was on a scary, busy road, and I decided to turn onto some road that was instant suburbia - all of the houses looked EXACTLY the same and there were all of these little roads that lead to nowhere. Guess how many of those dead ends I took? Eh,  you don't want to know. I finally found a road that went into a trailer court and out the other side. I did pull out my phone and attempt to look at Google maps, but it didn't make any sense to me, because it didn't say this street is to the left of you, instead it said North and in my head I don't understand North. Sigh, sigh, sigh.

I rode around on the other side of the trailer court, until I found a bike path. I hoped it was the one that ended up on Dubuque Street in Iowa City, but sadly, I got spit out, right by the big mall in Coralville. From there, I thought I could actually find my way home, but there was a detour where I wanted to get on the strip and so I had to go a different way... I finally found myself in the dog park and took a lane that sent me to a dead end. Next lane? Same thing. Grrrrr. I finally found the right lane that actually went to a street and headed home. My 53 mile ride, took me almost four  hours.

They always say that a bad day on a bike is still better than a good day doing almost anything else, and I'm here to tell you, even if you are a dumb a$$ and have no sense of direction and spend a frustrating afternoon into evening on your bike, it still is true.

Friday, May 06, 2016

World Serves its Own Needs. Don't Misserve Your Own needs


It got warm today. Hurray! I got to spend my lunch at work my favorite way - eating lunch outside in our private garden next to the dance department, listening to the classical piano playing for a ballet class, reading my book and eating leftover pizza. Let's see....food, sunshine, music and a novel. I am one lucky so-and-so.

It is supposed to rain tomorrow for at least part of the day, but I still hope to get some gardening running and either swimming or riding done, depending on the storm front.

I want to run and garden on Sunday too, and if it doesn't rain in the afternoon, our plan is to ride bikes to Solon and meet my daughters and one of their boyfriends at Big Grove for a Mother's Day meal.

I hope all y'all's weekends show as much promise as mine.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Sunshine She's Here, You Can Take a Break


So...Cinco de Mayo! Which means I'm already late for my April stats.Que' Lastima!

April was a fun month, but I also had some old lady/change of life issues thrown in. You know, just so I never get bored...

Running - 70 miles.

Biking - 374 miles.

Swimming - 3.6 miles.

Races - Just two. One 4 mile trail running race and one 15.5 mile part road/trail running race. That is WAY less than I've raced in April since 2011.

Books Read - Seven: 1. "Funny Girl" - Nick Hornby, "Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932" - Francine Prose, "American Pastoral" - Philip Roth, "The Prime of Miss Jean Brody" - Muriel Spark, "Alice Adventures in Wonderland" - Lewis Carroll, "Duplex" - Kathryn Davis, "F" - Daniel Kehlmann.

House Projects - Sooo much yard work and gardening done and so much more yet to do. I hope to have many photos up of all the completed projects done very soon.

No drawing or paintings done and no real writing done. I've been very bad about getting to those two things that I love...

I hope to be more balanced next month, but, as always, I can't promise anything.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

And the Rain, Rain, Rain Came Down, Down, Down...


Hey, kids! Remember me? So, this weekend it rained and rained and rained some more. The Iowa City Race weekend was going on, but I had a rough week, physically and last year I did the road race in 40 degree temps, 25 mph winds and rain and I don't think I need to have that experience again for a little while.

So, instead, I ran errands in the morning. I had a $10 off of $30 gift card for Running Wild, I won at a raffle for a trail race I did a month ago. So, I headed downtown to get a new pair of running shorts with it. I also ducked into Prairie Lights to celebrate independent bookstore day, by buy some new novels. Then Archie mucked them all up by lying all over everything. Sigh.


Once I got home, I decided to go for a nice run in the rain. I actually love running in the rain, if it's warm enough and I'm not going all that far. 3.5 miles seemed perfect.


I've been having troubles with my legs cramping up on runs on and off for a while, so now I'm leery about how I'll feel on my routes. Saturday was the first day in a long time that I felt great. I almost forgot how wonderful it can be to go on a run and feel strong....That is, until I saw the baby drowning in the creek. On closer inspection, it was a doll, but it was a bit disconcerting when I saw it out of the corner of my eye, crossing the bridge. Yikes!


After my run, it was time for a long, hot, shower and lunch. The night before we had fish tacos for dinner, so I made fish taco nachos with the leftovers, with all the fixin's. I know I say this almost everyday, but man oh man, do I love all the fixin's.


We did some serious cleaning around the house in the afternoon. John tackled the kitchen, while I tackled the bathroom. I was also able to make about 10 new kittens with all of the hair I brushed off the couch. Damn shedding cats!

We decided a rainy day, was perfect for a nice lap swim and a steam, and we were right. We were both pretty happy when we were through and I got to watch the rock climbers while I waited for John to get done showering. Very cool.



We headed to Apres and had a lovely dinner and tried their new seasonal cocktails. Who said dreary, rainy days can't still be perfect?




Sunday was the first time since John moved back to Iowa and started racing that he didn't race the downtown criterium. He was initially going to do a mountain bike race in Cedar Rapids, but it got canceled because it rained too much and they didn't want to damage the trails.

So, instead, we went down to watch some of the races. We wanted to see the women and the men's masters, for sure. There was an early, two person break away in the women's race and they basically lapped the whole field. Of course, it was still an interesting race when you watch the amazing skills these women have. I tried to take photos of them screaming down the big hill where they have a quick turn at the bottom. The one above was the best I got, because they were all going so fast that all the photos turned out blurry. Look how far she is leaning (and she wasn't even in full lean there) and notice that there is still some sand in the corner there. How bad-ass is that? I'm always in awe.



After the women's race, John and I headed to Micky's to see if Stinky was working. Sadly, she wasn't, but happily, I still got to eat my cheese fries.

After lunch we wandered back to where the races were happening. It was just starting to rain, when we saw a friend of ours hanging out at Atlas. She told us to join her. I was all over it, but John wanted to run around the course and watch the race.


More people came by and we had a great time watching the race with cover and under heat lamps. It was the best way to watch a rainy race. We sure worked around the rain this weekend, but I am sooooo glad that it's been sunny so far this week.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Shiver in My Bones Just Thinking About the Weather


You know it's become cooler out because after Archie butted his way in onto her favorite, soft fleece blanket, Heidi put her ears back and is clearly unhappy, but she didn't murder him and she didn't get up and run away. Archie couldn't be happier.

There are several races this weekend, but right now, I doubt I'll be up to doing any of them. I think John is going to do the mountain bike race in Cedar Rapids, but that might be it for him too.

It's supposed to rain all day tomorrow, which will definitely put a damper on my gardening. I'm hoping Sunday's weather doesn't disappoint.

Have a warm, lovely weekend, unless, of course, you are trying to get someone to snuggle with you...

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Out of the Blues and Into the Blacks


This past weekend was soooo great. I used my last 3 hours of vacation for the month to get off work in the afternoon. It just happened to be Earth Day, and since I have always loved the world, ever since the 70's when we used the term "ecology" instead of "environment" as in, " I am all about ecology!", I celebrated one of my favorite holidays by putting my laundry on the line, as opposed to using an electric dryer and then doing one of my favorite bike rides. I didn't drive my car once the entire day.


I thought there was supposed to be a stronger headwind, but it wasn't too bad at all. It's almost exactly a 50 mile ride to Sutliff Bridge and back. It was the first time this year that I rode that far at any kind of speed and without stopping with my friends a bunch of times.


I stopped at the bridge and had the whole thing to myself. I drank some water and ate my blueberry coffee cake that I got at the Co-op on my way home from work, and watched the river rushing underneath me. The bar at the end of  the bridge was cranking old country music, Waylon Jennings, followed by Merle Haggard, followed by George Jones. It was perfect.

I got home a little later than I thought, so John was nice enough to get us some take-out sushi and we had a nice, relaxing evening and then went to bed embarrassingly early.


On Saturday, I went on a nice, easy 4.5 mile run and then John and I headed to Menards to get more stakes and organic black dirt, and some bulbs for the garden. I also did some more yard work with about 6,458 more hours of work to go...Of course, the trails were calling and who were we not to answer?


We had another great day riding and playing outside. John got me to ride on one small section of black trails. Last year my goal was to get brave enough to ride on all of the blue trails and once I did that, this year I'm trying to get brave enough to ride the black trails. In my head, that meant that maybe by August when I was in better shape and had some practice. John's idea was that I start last Saturday. He respected my deferring, but I have a feeling he'll keep gently pushing me in that direction.


Saturday night, I made some BBQ shrimp shish kabob over brown rice and a lovely, cold glass of pinot gregio and we watched the movie, "Infinitely Polar Bear". Mark Ruffalo was excellent in it.


Sunday morning was a trail work day. We had missed the last couple and even though we had committed to a road ride with our RAGBRAI friends, we still managed a couple of hours whacking those bad sticker bushes.


We met our friends at the Deadwood at 11 and headed out to Solon. We had a nice tailwind on the way there, which meant we were going to suffer a little more on the way home. I guess we could all worry about that later...


Some of our friends who weren't up for the ride, met us at Big Grove for lunch. It was wonderful to be able to hang out outside for pretty much the entire day.


On the way home, some of the guys were talking about getting a quick drink somewhere and I invited them all over to our porch instead. Unfortunately, I kind of forgot to confer with John, but luckily he wasn't too upset. We sat around and talked about past and future bike rides until about 6 pm when everyone took off and we finally had to go inside.


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

When I'm Out Running, I Strut My Stuff...


I had the most wonderful weekend. I can't put the photos of it up on here at work, so I will try to get that taken care of tonight and write it out tomorrow. Today? You get random Springiness. My bleeding hearts are going crazy right now. My lilacs are blooming early, but they don't seem quite as plentiful as they normally are. As soon as I have a spare second that I don't fill with running or bike riding or otherwise playing outside, I will try to get going on planting the seedlings that seem to be thriving in my bedroom window.


This morning I did a fun little 3.5 mile run on the bike path before work. I had my iPhone full of dorky music and it played me songs by bands/groups at the bottom of the V's and all of the W's. For whatever reason known only to my iPhone it played it backwards from the alphabet. Here is the lurvely playlist I got to listen to this morning:

1.  "Wu Tang Clan Ain't Nuthing Ta F*ck Wit" - Wu Tang Clan - Honestly, nothing makes a white, middle aged woman feel more bad-ass street than starting her 6 am run through her Midwestern college town listening to Wu Tang Clan. Do you feel me? Sure.  I thought you did.

2. "Land of 1,000 Dances" - Wilson Pickett - One of my favorite songs to run to.

3. "Jesus Etc" - Wilco - Now, that's a little more appropriate. Perfect music for a middle aged White lady.

4. "Kansas City" - Wilbert Harrison.

5. "Baba O'Riley" - The Who - When I was in high school, I used to listen to this when I ran as well. It made me feel so rebellious back then. Now, it just makes me feel kind of old.

6. "Fell in Love With a Girl" - The White Stripes - This used to be my ringtone for Coadster. It still makes me think that Coadster is calling me...

7. "Summer" - War. This song takes me right back to living in a suburb on the Southside of Chicago when I was 11. It's a little slow for running, but it gets HUGE nostalgia points.

8. "Kiss Off" and "Blister in the Sun" - both by the Violent Femmes. Those songs take me back to my first Summer in Iowa City in 1984. My roommates and I used to lay-out in front of our apartment building to tan. Not only had we never heard of sunscreen, but we used baby oil instead, so our skin could really fry and I can now worry about how much melanoma my body will make for me because of that. Blister in the sun was so very accurate.

9. "Hurry On Sundown" - Vetiver - This is a great song to run to...It's also good for road trips. It was the perfect song to end my run to.



The other good thing about this warmer weather is that now I can go outside and read on my breaks and lunch. Of course, when I'm outside I don't get quite as much reading done, because I notice that my glasses leave a cool reflection on my dress and it reminds me of when I was a kid and my brother used to sneak up on me and try to burn my skin with a magnifying glass and one time he did that to a friend of mine and she said, "That doesn't exactly tickle, you know." And then I have to laugh at the memory of all the girls in my class using that phrase, "It doesn't exactly tickle, you know" in the mid 1970's and then through all of that I've "read" a couple of pages of my book that I have to reread, because I obviously wasn't paying attention through my memory. Welcome to my world...