Friday, April 27, 2012

And They're Very Cool for Cats. They're Cool for Cats.

Here is my new Time Trial helmet. I was trying to put my head in such a way that you could see the back of it, but all I managed to do was make it look like I have a crick in my neck and a gigantic finger. Perfect. 

Since I can't figure out how the new Blogger works, I can't write the text underneath each picture like I used to. So, the flowers below are yellow irises from my backyard. None of the purple ones have bloomed, but the yellow ones are pretty nice.

I tried to upload a video I took of our cats below. I have no idea if it will work. I titled it: Archie Letting the Cat Out of the Bag. I'm sure Stinky will love the fact that the cats are playing in the bag that holds her new graduation dress. I figure if she didn't like it, she wouldn't leave it on the floor, right?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Reflections Still Look the Same to Me

These flowers grow on some shrubbery outside my window. Does anyone know what the flowers are called?

Things have been going along just swimmingly. I had a nice weekend. I ran, rode my bike, mowed some lawns, had a little dinner party, drank too much wine and ate some really good food. On Sunday night, we watched The Hustler. I hadn't seen it in forever. Even though it isn't exactly the "feel good movie" of the century, it is so good and you can't really go wrong with Paul Newman, Jackie Gleason, George C. Scott and Piper Laurie, can you?

I started reading Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go. I'm not entirely sure what the concept is yet, but I think it's about people who are possibly cloned and raised to be organ donors? I'm about halfway through, so a lot of things are just inferred and I guess I'll understand things better when I finish. I still don't get why they don't just try to get away and not become donors somehow...

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Are You Ready for the Country, Because It's Time to Go


What is up with Blogger now? Posting is all weird and I can't get it to work like it used to. Grrrr. Apparently I'm too old to deal with change.

Anyway, I did a race yesterday. My goal all season is to stay with the pack for an entire bike race. Usually, there aren't enough women, so even though we might be different classes, they throw us all together for one race. Which means, The pack goes the speed of the fastest riders - some of the fastest riders in the state. Since I'm one of the slowest riders in the state, I get shot out the back of the pack, and have never had the experience of riding with a group and using any kind of race tactics.

That all changed in the race I did last night. They finally had a B race for us newer, weaker riders and it was so great. It was only a 13 mile course, and I was able to stay with the pack the entire race. This being Iowa and the race being deep in the heart of the Amish and Mennonite community, we had to race past horse and buggies and tractors and huge pick-up trucks, with little girls in long dresses and bonnets, waving at us from the side of the road. At the end of my race when three girls started to sprint, I was lagging behind, but a  huge tractor was coming up on the other side of the lane and they had to slow down, to make sure he saw them and had enough control of whatever gigantic thin, which gave me time to catch up to them. By then we had about 200 yards to go and we all sprinted as hard as we could. I ended up getting third. It may never happen again, but I'll take it and hopefully, it will help with  my confidence level in future races.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Stop All the Calls in the World

A friend took this pic of the alley by my house. All those lilacs on the left are mine. I'm lucky.

Last Friday I got off work, went to the Co-op and then came home and made salmon, rice pilaf with shaved almonds, beet salad, sauteed zucchini and red pepper and we had French bread. it was all lovely. We also watched Woody Allen's Sleeper. I hadn't seen it in years and it did make me laugh several times.

Lickety split.

On Saturday we got up very, very early and jogged over to Regina high school to do a 5K'ish trail race to raise money for our friend's organization. He started a foundation to help cancer survivors with their medical bills. Most of the things done to help cure cancer, can also cause cancer later on and screw up people's teeth and a lot of other things that cost tons of money, and so our friend is trying to help with those costs.

It's a great organization and the race was fun too. It was warm but misting. The Guy and I previewed the course, by slowly running/walking it and got back about 10 minutes before we had to run it. Our friend J. is another bartender at the Dublin. She worked until close and then drank until the race. She showed up reeking of alcohol and we kept making jokes about how we could get drunk for free by huffing her or licking her. She ran the race and did just fine, and then promptly went home to go to bed.

The Guy and our friend A.

The Guy and I went home after the race and got ready to ride our bikes to Riverside to see our friend, S. and his wife. We had lunch at Murphy's and then rode home.

We were pretty exhausted by the time we got home, so we basically just got some Chinese food and watched the movie, Cedar Rapids. it was fine. Nothing too memorable. I did think it was funny that they tried to make Iowa seem like it was some crazy, party state. Actually, the most memorable thing about it, is that it put that song, "Hotline" in my head. It was a amusing for about 5 minutes...

Our favorite bartender, S. and his wife and his phone.

Sunday was a very lazy day for me. I was pretty tired. I did a lot of lying around, reading a book called InZanesville, by Jo Ann Beard. She was in the non-fiction writer's workshop here and is an amazing writer. This is more of a young adult novel, about 14 year old girls trying to grow up in the Quad Cities in the early 70's. I love it so far.

The Guy spent most of the day building up a new road bike for himself. We did swim laps in the afternoon, and then got take-out Indian food and went down to the Dublin to eat it and feed our favorite bartender, S. while he worked. Our friend Bry came down and had a beer, before he and The Guy headed off to play pool and I headed off home to lie around and read my book some more. The end.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometime

I'm way in the back of the pic, to the left, wearing black.

So, we did a time trial race last night. That's the kind of bike racing one would do in a triathlon. The Guy built me up a time trial bike, but I didn't have the special clothes or helmet. I had only ridden the time trial bike about two times before the race, so I didn't have the gears and stuff all down.

The evening ended up being VERY windy and so cold there were actual wind chill readings. I'm not used to racing in that kind of wind and wasn't used to riding my new bike, so I had a little anxiety about the race in general.

After the starter counted down to zero, I went on my way into the strong wind. It felt ridiculously hard just to pedal, but I was in my easiest gear, so I told myself to breathe deeply and carry on. At one point, after a particularly strong gust of wind as I was going up a small hill, I thought I might have to stop, it was so hard. I just slowed down a little and recovered and kept on keepin'on.

At the halfway turn around point, I finally had a tailwind. I went to change into the bigger (harder) chain ring and discovered that I had really been in it all along. Derrrr. I could have made my life so much easier all the way there, but instead, I had to mash as hard as I could against the wind.

Even with that, my time was better than it was last August, and I was about right in the middle as far as places were concerned for all of the women. In the master's women category, I got first out of two. It meant that I got a $10 gift card to the co-op, and canceled out the $10 registration fee. Score!

Of course The Guy did really well. He was 5th overall and 2nd in his category. Woot!

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Chapter One We Didn't Really Get Along

My first year of planting tulips.

So, yeah. I've been reading some books. I told you how I went through all of those "best of" lists to find some of the best written novels from the last 10-15 years. I had good luck with most of the books I found, but I did recently run into a couple of clinkers.

Our garden is keeping the cats up to their tiitts in fresh, organic catnip. Duuuuuuude.

I can't remember what book I talked to you about last, but here are the last few I've read:

Room is the story of a woman who was kidnapped and kept in a shed behind her captor's house. I know a lot of people who didn't like this book, but I did. Sure, the first part was a little long and it's told in the voice of her 5 year old son which took some getting used to, but I liked the book overall and I was very happy with the ending.

Ten Thousand Saints - I was excited to read this from the review, but I never really cared about any of the characters and there wasn't enough of a story to it, to make up for that. Disappointing.

House of leaves - This book was also well reviewed, but I didn't think it measured up. It was supposed to be a scary story, but none of it really frightened me. It was kind of about a haunted house, with rooms that grew and changed and growled and from what I can tell, were supposed to represent the female psyche. I have a feeling, this book would have been a lot scarier had I been a man. Most women I know are pretty used to our own growling and unpredictable spaces.

The Accidental - I'm almost done with this now. It is an English novel and I like it. I don't love it, I don't feel like I want to devour it, like some books I read, but it's interesting and well written. I do agree with the review that had problems with the stranger who imposes herself on the family - she isn't either likable enough or fascinating enough to explain how taken the family was with her. She was more of a catalyst, than a person and she felt a bit contrived.

Here are my lilacs - a month or so early.

Tomorrow I will start reading is called The Sisters Brothers. One reviewer described as the book Cormac McCarthy would write if he had a sense of humor. Man, I hope it lives up to that.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

And When They Split Those Atoms, It's Hotter Than the Sun

Here is a thingamajig that waters crops in Iowa.

Coadster came home this weekend. Hurray! We tried to plan a few fun things for her to do. On Friday night, I grilled salmon for her and steak for Stinky and we had a couple of our friends over. It was a nice dinner and we had a good talk, and Coadster gave us the stuff she brought back from London for us.

The Guy relaxing with his Heidi cat.

Coadster read The Hunger Games most of the day on Saturday. I used to get a little annoyed when she would lie around and watch horrible reality TV shows when she came home to visit. She explained to me that she did so much at school, that coming home was like a vacation and that was how she decompressed. I get that. I don't like the horrible screeching from the people on reality shows in my living room all day, but I understand that's how she veg's-out. This time, it was reading The Hunger Games. She wanted to finish it before she saw the movie that night.

I cleaned the house for most of the day, while The Guy built up my time trial bike (the kind of bike you use in a triathlon). later in the afternoon, The Guy and I took our time trial bikes for a little spin. It was so fun.

That night, The Guy took me and the girls out for dinner at the Altas. we had a nice meal and got a good talk in with my daughters.

My girls at Atlas.

On Sunday, The Guy and I went to our friend E's house to help her get her bike set-up. We came home and got ready to ride. We went out to a road where we will race in about a month and then we were headed to Riverside to see our friend S., when I ran over an aluminum can and it poked a hole in my back tire. It wouldn't hold air, so I walked my bike on the side of the road in the heat of our unseasonably warm Iowa Spring, while The Guy rode as quickly as possible to our friend S.'s house. They came and rescued me and S. drove us back to our place. So, ultimately, the story had a happy ending.